Book Review: See What I Have Done (Sarah Schmidt) @groveatlantic ‏

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I had heard of Lizzie Borden before but had never really given much thought to her actual trial until I began See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt. One of #cjsreads first August picks, I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect when I dove into this book. Generally speaking, I enjoy historical fiction but struggle when it has a mystery/thriller angle. I don’t know what it is about them, but they all feel a little “Sherlock Holmes” to me. However, with a cover quote by Paula Hawkins stating this book was “eerie and compelling” I was intrigued right away.   I would have to say that I agree with Hawkins on this one; See What I Have Done had an ominous vibe throughout.

Opening with Lizzie discovering her father dead in his study and going back and forth between the day of the murder and the days prior, the investigation into the murder begins and it doesn’t take long for Lizzie to be at the center when she begins to seem unreliable and struggles to remember events of the day. With her sister by her side and the police closing in, the novel is narrated through multiple character perspectives including a stranger and a housemaid.

The first thing that stood out for me while I was reading was how irritated I was with the multiple character perspectives. I didn’t care for the various POVs; I felt like I wanted to hear the story through the eyes of Lizzie and all the other characters felt a little bit irrelevant to me. I know they all played their role but I think I would have been completely consumed with the plot should it had been through Lizzie’s unreliable narration. I love me an unreliable narrator!

I was impressed with how Schmidt was able to take a real scenario and turn it into a fictionalized account without making it seem over-embellished or too far-fetched. I feel like it was kept realistic and took more of a rational approach. This was a smart decision on Schmidt’s part. I felt like I was truly reading more a “true crime” story instead of a work of fiction.

Overall, I felt like this was an entertaining read but, like some other historical mysteries, I found this one to be quite slow moving. If you are at all interested in Lizzie Bordon, this will obviously appeal to you and I also feel like fans of true crime will have a special interest in this tale. However, if you are looking for something incredibly fast paced, then I would skip this one!

Thanks to the publisher and the author for a copy of this book; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Want to know what Chandra and Jessica thought of this one?  Keep reading to see what the other members of #cjsreads had to say about See What I Have Done!

Continue reading “Book Review: See What I Have Done (Sarah Schmidt) @groveatlantic ‏”

Book Review: Dis Mem Ber (Joyce Carol Oates) @JoyceCarolOates @MysteriousPress

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I have been increasing the number of short story collections I have been reading lately. I love that they are flexible and I can read them along with anything else I have on my nightstand. I can read a story at a time for a little break and be back to business. However, Dis Mem Ber, a series of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates, did not provide the versatility I desired; I was unable to simply pick up this book and put it down again. Once I started, I was completely sucked into these dark and twisted narratives and had to greedily finish them all!!

Each story provided a look into completely different sets of characters and scenarios. Dis Mem Ber, the first story followed a girl who became attached to the family black sheep, The Crawl Space about a grieving widow, and The Drowned Girl about a woman who becomes obsessed with a homicide victim. Ominous and gritty, each story provided a snapshot that I desperately wanted more of!

I felt like these stories gave a Southern Gothic Fiction vibe (think Flannery O’Conner or Shirley Jackson), which I loved. I also loved that each of the stories was narrated by or featured a female protagonist.

For my first experience with this author, I would say it was a win. Obviously, some stories, like the ones I mentioned above, stood out more than others, but overall, I love this collection! 4/5 stars from me.

Thanks to the author and the publisher for a copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

This book was also a June #cjsreads pick!  Keep reading to see what Jessica and Chandra thought of this one.

Continue reading “Book Review: Dis Mem Ber (Joyce Carol Oates) @JoyceCarolOates @MysteriousPress”