Book review – American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century by Maureen Callahan

Caidyn's review (1)

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

5/5

CW: murder/serial murder, psychopathy, kidnapping, rape, suicide, and dismemberment


I read this book in less than 12 hours. Started it while I was waiting on a friend to show up for brunch, kept reading it once I got home, and then just didn’t stop. It’s one of those insane stories that you forget about and then, when you’re reminded with all the details, you can’t help but wonder how you forgot it.

I’ve definitely been exposed to this case through true crime podcasts before this book came out. When I read the description, I only had to read that it was about a kidnapping of a girl from a coffee kiosk in Alaska and that was it. I knew exactly what story this was and what the content would be.

But I entirely forgot the case.

It was like reading it all over again because the story starts at the beginning. Israel Keyes kidnaps Samantha Koenig. Everyone thinks that she’s being held captive for a ransom since that’s how he made it look. Finally, he’s caught and apprehended. Except, it turns out that there are more victims. He operated entirely underground and no one knew that there was even a serial killer. He had kill kits. He studied books written by FBI agents who worked on apprehending serial killers.

The first two parts of this book is about Samantha’s kidnapping. They find out that Israel Keyes is more than what he says he is, along with finding Samantha’s body. (Which was horrific and sad to read.) The second half of the book, or the last two parts, is the detectives and agents working on this case seeing that there was more to the story. We learn about Keyes’ upbringing — completely off the grid and very religious, along with him showing what are considered hallmarks of psychopathy — and his other crimes.

The crazy thing about this case is that literally no one knew that it was going on. People went missing and there was nothing about it. Keyes stated that he operated for around fourteen years. In that time, we have no clue how many he killed. He said he never killed kids, but was that always how it was or did that just start after having a kid? The crazy thing is that he was so meticulous and studied the craft so much that we really don’t know how many victims he had.

And we’ll never know because he took his life.

This book was honestly amazing. I’m still sitting here in shock about this case while I’m writing this up. And we’ll never know more. I would be really surprised if agents were ever able to figure out how many he killed. There are three confirmed kills that he spoke about before his suicide, but there could be so many more across America.

If you like true crime, I highly recommend this book. It’s absolutely chilling to read and it made me realize just how little I actually knew about this case.


Talk to me!
What true crime do you love?
Are you familiar with this case?

Book review – Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning

Caidyn's review (1)

Sea Witch Rising (Sea Witch, #2)

4/5

CW: loss, grief, loss of a loved one, and war

  1. Sea Witch – 4/5

As this is a sequel and directly picks up where the first book ends, there will be spoilers for the first book in this review! I don’t really want to dance around what happened and try not to give big spoilers away for this. Got it? Good. Sorry y’all who haven’t read this fantastic series, but maybe it’ll give you a jump on reading it?

So, as I said, this picks up immediately after the last book. Hell, the prologue in this is the very last chapter of the first book. Here’s a quick summary of the ending for those who need it. Evie saves Nik’s life with magic at the sacrifice of her own. She’s dying in the sea, but, with some magical help, she takes the life of an octopus, becoming the Sea Witch as we know her. Decades have passed. The mermaids are frightened of her. But, one mermaid comes looking to be turned into a human so she can win the love of a boy, Nik’s grandson (also named Nik; these damn royals, right?). And, Evie does that for her, stealing her voice and giving her days to win his love without it.

That’s where the story ends.

The mermaid’s name is Alia and she’s one of the king’s daughters. Except, she has a twin, Runa, who knows that she can’t do this and doesn’t want her sister to die. She makes her own deal with Evie to go up to the top and to help her sister in any way necessary.

The heart of this story, like the last, is sisterly love and the bond between siblings. It was beautiful to read that. I’m really loving all of these books that are coming out with that as its big focus and a huge theme that it deals with. The relationship Runa and Alia have in the book was so believable. They love each other to pieces and would do anything for the other, but they also hate each other at times.

Also, this book is about Evie. Runa is one perspective — and the one that dominates the book — but Evie also gets a say. Sarah said that this book (because I was lucky enough to see her speak on the night this released) is about those who are left behind. Runa was left behind by Alia. Evie was left behind by everyone because everyone she loves has now died. And it’s about the two of them, in their own way, coming into themselves.

It’s also about finding people. In the human world, Runa finds people that are like her. And they band together to try to make things right after the plan goes horribly wrong. It doesn’t help that it’s the dawn of World War One and everything’s about to get fucked anyways.

And WWI is a big part of this story. It’s something motivating the merpeople and, definitely, Runa’s father. It took me a while to realize that her father was the same one. That means that Runa has the same father that Anna did after her adoption by the merpeople. The timeline really messed with me in this story. It took me a while to actually get down the relationships and that people were basically the same from the first book. Kind of confused me for a while until I got it down.

Another thing that didn’t work for me is the characterization of Runa’s father. It just didn’t sit right with me for some reason. It felt unbelievable. And I never quite got the reason why he had become like this. It never felt adequately explained to me. As the book went on, it became more central to the plot. And I still never got it. It confuses me still. I’m pretty sure I’d catch it whenever I reread it, but that was one major part of the story that didn’t work for me.

I’m also glad to report that, unlike the first book, romance isn’t very central to the story. It’s there, of course, but this book has a lot more action than the first one. I liked that it had more action. The story went faster and my eyes didn’t glaze over like they do with romance.

The ending was a really good one. During Sarah’s talk, she kept saying that there’s no other book in the works, but that this one is being called a Sea Witch novel so that means there’s always a chance that more will come out. Personally, that makes me excited. The ending closed off the plot for this book, but left it open enough for more to come in the future. It’d be interesting to see something set in more contemporary times.

Overall, another great book by Sarah Henning! I highly recommend you check her out because she has amazing books and equally amazing projects that are in the works.


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What mermaid books do you love?
Do you have plans to read this one?

Book review – Jade War by Fonda Lee

Caidyn's review (1)

Jade War (The Green Bone Saga, #2)

4.5/5

CW: violence, desecrating a body, clan wars (still), mention of rape, abortion, and death

  1. Jade City – 4.5/5

I’m going be straight up with y’all. I don’t know what the fuck I want to say about this book. All I know is that it was amazing and I just cannot wait for the third book. Which, when I went to get the cover for this book, I saw that the book already has a title and cover and description and I started screaming and crying.

That’s how much I love this series.

But, I need to get back on track because I have a warning for y’all. This will contain spoilers for the first book. I can’t hold myself back because so much has happened and ugh. It needs to be told and I can’t censor myself. Stay away if you want to be unspoiled!

This book picks up months after the end of Jade City. Hilo is the Pillar of No Peak after Lan was killed. Anden recovered from his fight and, after deciding not to become a Green Bone, ends up in Espenia to see how he could be of use there getting an education and being around the Kekonese in Espenia. Shae is still the Weather Man. Wen, Hilo’s wife, is expecting their first child together. Hilo’s grandfather, the former Pillar, has passed away as well. Oh, and there’s also a foreign war on top of the clan war No Peak is still having with the Mountain clan.

Basically, shit has gone down and it’s going down fast.

As with the first book, I was built up and destroyed so rapidly. The plot is a bit slower because of the expansion. After all, it’s not just things going on in Kekon now. It’s also Kekon, No Peak working with the Espenian government, Anden being in Espenia and the people he meets there, the political maneuvering of all characters, and even more. The book has expanded so much and it’s all-encompassing.

At times, I thought that Lee might have bitten off more than she could chew. Mainly with the foreign war that was now going on. I hope that expands more in the third book but I felt like it was very much a background thing in this. I wanted to know more about it and the relationship that Kekon had with them.

But, the characters. Nothing is sacred in Lee’s book. Nothing. I remember that distinctly from reading the first book. No one is safe in this damn thing and I had to brace myself. Wen is, definitely, my favorite character. Shae is a close second. Lee writes amazing female characters. They’re so complex and live in this very male-dominated world. Wen finds ways to manipulate Hilo into doing things that he might not have agreed to before. When that doesn’t work, she and Shae work together behind his back to get shit done that Hilo might not approve of. They are wonderful and ugh. I love it.

I also enjoyed seeing how Hilo is coping with all that’s going on. He was never supposed to be the Pillar. That was Lan and his descendants. But now he’s thrust into this position he was never trained for. I’m enjoying seeing how he retains his old personality and works with the new one that he has to develop to do his job as Pillar. Although, he’s still hella impulsive and I distinctly remember one scene where I was staring, open-mouthed, at the book because I did not expect his actions. I’m still waiting to see the consequences of those actions.

Anden also got a lot of development in this. He’s away from the people he grew up around and in a country he’s never been to. He has to learn this new world, along with reconcile his old identity with his new one. Oh, and he finally really gets to live his life how he wants. Kekon isn’t well-known for being accepting of gay people — it’s still very cishet and male-dominated — so he gets to be in Espenia where it’s not a huge deal. He gets to finally be gay in a more open way. That was lovely to see.

This book is so intense and it spans years. I’m not joking when I say that. The first book felt more contained and in a shorter time span, but this one really is longer. I kind of judged it by Wen having kids. She’s pregnant with her first, then they have a second. The second is starting to walk when the book ends. I mean, that’s years. And it didn’t really feel like it. It just shows how long this game is going to go. Who knows how long the Saga will be at this rate!

What I do know is that I’m going to read the next one as soon as it comes out. And, I’m going to be impatiently waiting for it because I need this stat. Like immediately.


Talk to me!
Have you read this? What did you think?
What series is killing you with the wait?

First Lines Friday | 8/16

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

JOURNAL OF RICHARD FOX
June 18, 1937
Budapest, Kingdom of Hungary

Jean-Bernard and I left Munich early this morning to sunshine and outstanding views of the mountains. Was so full of fine drink and finer oysters at lunch that I slept through Vienna stop. Orient Express never fails to impress.


I will say, that that isn’t the most thrilling start to a book. That kind of minute detail and talk about things that don’t quite matter.

But it did catch my attention.

Personally, I love historical fiction (which this is what it is) and it has such a feel of it being historical fiction. Like, when I read that I immediately started thinking about Dracula (hint hint for this one that involves that story). And it brought me back to reading that.

This is also a YA book that’s going to be released in September and was compared to one of my autobuy authors who writes stuff that sounds like this one.

It is…

 

The Lady Rogue

Yes! This story involves vampires and Dracula and is historical fiction. And it’s being said that it’s like Mackenzi Lee’s Montague Siblings series. Like, yes! I’m so glad I requested it from Netgalley and I can’t wait to dive into this soon.


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Would you read this based on the first lines?

Down the TBR Hole | 8/15

Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

IT WORKS LIKE THIS:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

The Well of Loneliness

I’m definitely keeping this one. It’s lesbian fiction and I know that I want to see if I like it. Plus, I own it and it’s been on my shelves for years.

Verdict: Keep


Salammbô

Thanks Goodreads for having NO DESCRIPTION. I had to Google it until I found something that told me what it was about. But, it sounds interesting? But I’ve read something by Flaubert and I don’t know if he’s my kind of author.

Verdict: GO! (to maybe shelf)


Swann's Way (In Search of Lost Time, #1)

Admittedly, meta fiction doesn’t usually interest me. So, I don’t think this one will work for me.

Verdict: GO!


The Perfect Prince: The Mystery of Perkin Warbeck and His Quest for the Throne of England

Perkin Warbeck is very interesting. Usually, he’s a footnote of Henry VII’s reign (which is eclipsed by Henry VIII’s in general) and I rarely see it mentioned at all. So, I want to read something that’s about it.

Verdict: Keep


After Midnight

It sounds interesting, but when I see it’s blurbed by Koontz I get a bit nervous. That and I don’t know how well it’ll have aged.

Verdict: GO!


Shades of Grey (Shades of Grey, #1)

Yeah, this looks like it would have been my thing in 2014, which was when I added it. Now? I’ve been Fforde a try and I don’t think he’s for me.

Verdict: GO!


Catherine the Great: Love, Sex, and Power

This is more recent than the other Catherine the Great biography I’ve read. It sounds a bit more updated, which is something that I like the sound of.

Verdict: Keep


A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France

I’ve read a little bit about their relationship, but not much. But I think it’d be an interesting read because this is an interesting period in general.

Verdict: Keep


The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-Made King

I’ve never read anything about Henry IV. I think that it’s time to remedy that.

Verdict: Keep


The Romanovs: The Final Chapter

Massie is a great Russian historian. However, whenever I see his name I think about how old the thinking in the book might be. But, still, it sounds interesting because it focuses on finding the bodies and the DNA that proved we finally found all of them.

Verdict: Keep


Last TBR: 1536

Books kept: 6

Books removed: 4

Current TBR: 1530

What can I say? I have a weakness for historical nonfiction.

Image result for shrug gif


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What genre do you have a hard time purging?

ARC review – Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Caidyn's review (1)

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)

I received this from Edelweiss and HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review!

4.5/5

CW: sexism, forced marriage, human experimentation, cutting (for blood magic), execution, starvation/not eating, and burning at the stake


I was completely blown away by this debut! When I went into this, I was pretty sure that it would be a good book but damn! Apparently, this year is all about debut authors shocking me by how amazing their stories are. This is on the upper-edge of YA — I’d say 16-18 — and I was so here for it. Alternately, I was laughing and on the edge of my seat. Sometimes at the same time, honestly.

This book follows Louise (Lou) le Blanc and Captain Reid Diggory. Lou is a witch from a very important lineage who is trying to escape from her life with her best friend, Coco, who is a blood witch. Reid is a Chasseur, or a part of the Church. And he kind of burns witches at the stake from time to time. And works for people who do a bit of human experimentation. You know how it is. Common stuff, every day stuff, right?

It’s set in a fictionalized France and I loved it. It was so much fun to read it while keeping in mind all that I know about France. This France hates witches. Hates them so much and will do anything to get rid of them. It’s rather sexist, admittedly, going with the belief that a woman becomes her husband’s property.

But the world was so rich and developed. I could really get a feel for it and place it in my head. Sometimes the world is the hardest thing for me to get down because they can blend together. This one stood out, which I really loved. I could keep it straight in my mind despite all of the moving parts — Lou’s old life and those connected with it, the people she’s with now, the Church, etc.

And that plot? So damn fast-paced. It was a whirlwind to read and I kept wondering exactly where it was going towards, even though I had an idea of where it might end up. It kept me wondering because it was so broad. There were little things here and there that would catch my attention as a reader, then the story would come back to the story/ending that we were being worked to.

The biggest win for me with this book was the trope that it had running through its veins. Enemies, although Reid doesn’t know who/what Lou is. They just don’t like each other. Lou is very boisterous and opinionated and loves a song about Big Tiddy Liddy. (Not joking there.) Reid is reserved, quiet, pious. He takes his church vows very seriously. Doesn’t curse and finds her horrifying, although he doesn’t agree with some of the church’s mandates.

Even better, it’s a forced marriage. They are forced to get married and, from there, start realizing they like each other more than they should since, you know, they should hate each other. I felt my aura enrich and grow, and my grey hairs slowly turn back to brown by reading this trope.

It’s so hard to get right, too. Because if you go too fast, it’s not believable that they really hated each other at all or there was any bit of force at all to get them married. Go too slow and it wears at my patience. Mahurin was like Goldilocks. She got it just right for me and what I didn’t even know that I wanted.

Really, what else do I have to say to convince you to give this witchy, twisty book a try? I preordered it when I was around 30% in because I knew that I had to get my hands on a finished copy because this was just so much fun to read. Definitely a favorite of this year!


Talk to me!
Have you read this one? Is it now on your TBR?
What’s your favorite book that has a forced marriage in it?

WWW Wednesday | 8/14

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Top Ten Tuesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by A Daily Rhythm and revived by Taking on a World of Words.

All you have to do is answer the following questions.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you finish recently reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading

As usual, you’re going to see just how many books that I read at once. And, believe it or not, all of them are new! I read all the ones that I was working on last week.

American Psycho

I didn’t mean to, but I jumped into a buddy read for this one! I’ve wanted to reread this for ages. My original can be found here! It’s a good book, but not for everyone.

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)

I’m slowly easing back into horror (if you can’t tell) and this is one I really want to read. I read it back when it first came out, but it warrants a reread! My review is here, but it’ll get updated by the time I reread it.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate

I was surprised by getting this ARC! So, I had to bump it up on my reading list. I’m enjoying it and I know I’ll finish this one really soon since it’s a very short novella.

The Wives of Henry VIII

I’ve really started loving Antonia Fraser and I’ve had this book on my shelf for a long time. I think it’s going to be good. She has some very defined goals for this book and I want to see how well she meets them.

Lust Killer

I’ve been dying to read this book for a while and they happened to have it available as a downloadable audiobook. Snatched it up!

Just finished

This list is going to be long. Sorry, my friends. Let’s just get it over with. I’m not going to post pictures of the covers this time!

I did finish this one! My review will be on the blog on the 17th. Another fantastic addition to this series.

Another one I finished! And, if you stick around a few hours, you’ll get to see this review. Totally blew me away and I’ll be recommending this for ages to come.

I finished this in record speed, but the review will be up on the 18th! It was just as good as the first one for me.

I didn’t like it. I gave it 1/5 and the review is only on Goodreads, but I’ll link it here for anyone who wants to read it.

I read this over two days because I knew that I couldn’t handle the subject matter. I didn’t want to read it over the span of a week or something. I had to get it done ASAP. And I did. 4/5 and my review is only on Goodreads, but I’ll link it here.

No review and no rating. I gave it a try and didn’t like it. Basically, I read a chapter and could tell that this one wouldn’t be for me.

Omg, I read this in less than 12 hours. It was… amazing. The review will be up on the 18th as well, but in the afternoon!

I wanted to like this one but it really didn’t happen. The story didn’t work for me. I basically outline that much in my Goodreads only review, which is also here.

I read this one for Chantel and the NEWT challenge. It was very good. 4/5 and my review is here on Goodreads.

I’ve been meaning to read this for ages and finally have done just that. But it wasn’t really what I was looking for. 3/5 and the review is here!

This was a reread for me because I was in the mood for some Austen. Enjoyable! Still a 4/5 for me and my review is only on Goodreads, but here’s the link.

Up next

Alright, here we are. What I’m thinking about reading next, which might change since I have a ton of library books right now that I need to go through and purge. Oops.

Mother Knows Best

This is going to be an interesting one. I think once I finish To Be Taught, If Fortunate I’ll dive into this one. I’m getting geared up to read all the ARCs I have.

His Hideous Heart

I’m super excited for this one. I’m a big Poe fan and I really want to read this one. It’s going to be so much fun.

Gideon the Ninth (The Ninth House, #1)

I really want to get to this one soon. I’ve read that it needs a lot of time dedicated to it. So, probably one of the first I’ll be reading to get through before the hell that is school starts up.

The Garden of Eden

I’m not a big Hemingway fan, but when I read this book in 2013, I really enjoyed it. I want to see if I feel the same way now! Fingers crossed, right?


Talk to me!
What books did you just finish?
What are you really excited to pick up next?

Top Ten Tuesday – Book Characters I’d Love to Be Besties With

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Book besties. We all want them desperately. And I know I have a fair few. When I was drafting this, I kept wincing to myself at how many kept coming up and that I was going to have to limit it. Here are a fair few of them!


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  • Fred and George Weasley

My fellow Aries! I’d love to be friends with them. They are, in a word, hilarious and amazing. We would be great birthday buddies, too.

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)

  • Lou le Blanc

Hilarious? Check. Bit of an Aries? Check. Stubborn as hell? Check. Slightly rash? Check. Lou and I would get along well in real life because I loved her in that book.

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  • Death (The Book Thief)

Gotta be specific, right? Either way, Death was one of my favorite characters from the book. He was so poetic and human. I’d love to be besties with him. And terrify everyone in the process.

Image result for mr darcy gif

  • Mr. Darcy

Mr. Darcy is me and I am Mr. Darcy. Someone I can be awkward with and vaguely rude, especially without realizing that we’re being rude.

Image result for elend venture

  • Elend Venture

My baby Elend. I think he’d be fun to be around because he’s honestly pretty funny and also reads a lot. Totally here for someone who reads a lot.

Jade War (The Green Bone Saga, #2)

  • Wen

Wen is a side character in this series, but Jade War cemented my love for her. She’ll do anything for her friends and family. Once you have her trust, you have it forever. And I love that in friends.

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)

  • Charlotte Holmes

Charlotte was a complex character. She was fantastic, too. I loved her smarts — I’d love to listen to her talk — and her personality. I bet she’d be a lot of fun, and she needs all the people possible to help her work through her trauma.

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings, #2)

  • Felicity Montague

I need more aroace friends. So if any of y’all are aroace (or just ace) you need to hit me up so we can chat more. And I love Felicity’s passions. She’d teach me a lot and I definitely need that in my life.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

  • Evelyn Hugo

As I need more aroace friends, I also need more Slytherin friends. And Evelyn is the Slytherin we all need in our lives. I think she and I would get along pretty well.

Image result for cardan greenbriar

  • Cardan Greenbriar

Finally, Cardan seems like he’d be a fun friend. Maybe not fun for me as a human, but he knows how to have a good time. And to plot hella good.


Talk to me!

Do we share any book besties?
Who would you choose?

Book review – I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

Caidyn's review (1)

I Was Born for This

4.5/5

CW: transphobia, accidental outing, panic disorder and panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation, alcohol abuse, parental abandonment, talk about death of a loved one, and physical assault


This is my third book by Oseman and, happily, I loved it just as much as Radio Silence! I was hopeful that I would enjoy it because one of the MCs is a transman (which my heart always needs because there’s just not enough transman rep for my liking).

The story is kind of random. It reminded me of Radio Silence in that there was no real plot to it, just a lot of meandering until the climax was there. I think that’s because I’m not used to reading lots of contemporary. Fantasy and sci-fi typically have a very overt goal that they’re going towards while contemporary doesn’t necessarily need that.

In this, there are quite a few characters. The main ones are Angel/Fereshteh Rahimi and Jimmy Kaga-Ricci. Angel, which is her online name because Fereshteh means angel, absolutely adores a band, The Ark. She’s 18, just finished school, and is Muslim. Also, like Melanie pointed out in her review, I got major ace vibes from Angel. Then, there’s Jimmy. Jimmy is a biracial transman who has depression and anxiety. That makes things interesting since he’s the frontman of The Ark.

Also included in this is Juliet, Angel’s best friend; Bliss, Rowan’s secret girlfriend and the catalyst for Angel and Jimmy meeting; Rowan, cello player in The Ark; and Lister, the drummer. All of these characters are incredibly diverse. As I said, Angel is Muslim. Jimmy is Indian and Italian, a transman, and possibly queer. Bliss is Chinese and white, and queer. Rowan is Nigerian. Lister is queer. (When I say queer, it’s established they’re LGBTQ+, but I don’t know their exact identity with sexuality.)

I love Oseman for having all of these incredibly diverse characters, along with having fantastic mental health rep. It was beautiful to read very accurate depictions of anxiety and depression. I know that if I worked with teens for social work, I’d have a good list of books for them to read for bibliotherapy. This would be on there. (And, yes, bibliotherapy is one therapy that I want to use in my practice because I know how much books have helped me.)

One thing that I didn’t love about this book, though, is that it felt almost like a repeat of Radio Silence. There were very similar themes in it. A girl who has an obsession with some fandom. Ends up meeting and befriending a creator of the fandom. The creator has extreme depression and/or anxiety. It felt like a real repeat, but it was a lot better than Solitaire.

Overall, a very good book. Enjoyable to read, although it dealt with hard topics.


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Have you read this?
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Book review – One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway and its Aftermath by Åsne Seierstad

Caidyn's review (1)

One of Us: The Story of a Massacre in Norway -- and Its Aftermath

5/5

CW: white supremacy, bullying, bombing, racism, Islamophobia, and VERY graphic scenes of violence/shooting of children and child death


This review needs to really start with a warning. While I will recommend this book as an amazing true crime novel for the rest of my life, this book is not for everyone. I have a very strong stomach (so to speak) around acts of violence. That’s because I love horror and true crime and I just don’t get bothered.

But this book bothered me.

Hell, I’m even familiar with the case. I listened to the episodes of My Favorite Murder and Casefile that it’s featured in. So, I knew the case. I was familiar with Anders Behring Breivik and the despicable person that he is. Yet nothing really prepared me for this case. Okay? And I’m going to be discussing the crime that he did, which was, largely, against children.

Anders was never a normal child. He had issues and constantly strove to fit in with people. In the end, he gravitated towards white supremacy and trying to cleanse Norway of the liberal party and, by extension, the Muslims who went to Norway seeking asylum from their war-torn countries.

The book that Seierstad put together was beautiful in a horrific way. My copy of the book is a little over 500 pages and it takes a little over 300 of them to get to the actual crime. The bulk of the book is showing you what Anders was like through the years and how he was radicalized, along with showing you the lives of immigrants who had their lives cut short by him. Amazing kids, too. Kids who would have changed the world if he hadn’t committed this crime.

As I said, I’m going to discuss the crime that he committed. I’m going to start that now, so turn away if that’s something you don’t want to read.

On July 22, 2011, Anders set up a bomb in front of the Prime Minister’s office. It exploded, as he had planned it to, and killed eight people. Everyone was rushing there because they weren’t sure if it was the first of many terror attacks or what was going on at all. While everyone was rushing there, Anders went to Utøya where a youth camp was for kids a part of the Labour Party (which was the governing party).

On Utøya, he was dressed as a policeman and he killed sixty-nine children. In two hours, he went around the island and shot children who were trying to get away from whatever was going on. As I said, a lot of them were immigrant children. At least, the ones featured in the book were immigrant children who wanted to make Norway more open for them, more multicultural.

Seierstad wrote an amazing book. The chapter that covers the actual crimes is, like, 70 pages long. I’m not joking. It was huge and I read it in one sitting, feeling the horrific nature of these crimes washing over me. The podcasts I listened to did not really do it justice, but Seierstad did. She allowed you to get to know the kids, then you watched them die. It was incredibly heavy. It physically pained me to read that chapter and the chapters after while you found out who lived or died.

What sticks with me is the impact of crime. Many true crime books I read focus on the actual act without letting you know much about the people affected by the crime, the victims’ friends and family. From Ander’s mother to the parents who had their children taken away from them, Seierstad showed what impact the crimes had.

I’m so glad that I read this book and, hands down, it’s the best true crime novel that I’ve ever read in my life.


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