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The Pocket Wife, Salt to the Sea & Shallow Graves Book Reviews

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It’s been quite awhile since I did a book post, but I read a few great books over the summer that I wanted to finally share with you!

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The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford I love a great psychological thriller, so as soon as The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford was compared to Before I Go to Sleep, I knew I had to pick it up. In Crawford’s debut, Dana Catrell is the last person to see her neighbour Celia alive before she is murdered, and Dana can’t remember what happened next. As a relapse of bipolar disorder grows stronger, Dana looks to fill the holes in her memory, beginning to wonder if she killed Celia after all.

I listened to The Pocket Wife via audiobook, so I really felt like I was inside Dana’s head as she struggled against madness. Crawford’s writing is sharp and poetic, and the novel which builds well. However, it’s a slow-moving mystery that is based a lot on the characters rather than constant twists. Unfortunately, Dana herself could be a bit frustrating at times, the kind of character you just want to shake. I did really like the chapters written from the perspective of Jack, the Detective on the case.

As The Pocket Wife progressed it did a lose a little of the tension, and finished with an ending that wasn’t totally satisfying, given what I had learned about the characters so far (and what I really want from a mystery). I just wanted a bit more impact at the end. Overall, while I’d definitely still recommend Before I Go to Sleep over The Pocket Wife this novel may be worth checking out if you’ve already picked that up and are looking for a new psychological thriller.

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Back in 2011 I read, and loved, the young adult historical fiction novel Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, so I was excited to see the author revisit the untold stories of World War 2 in her latest novel. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is told from four different perspectives, each a teenager from a different country with a secret of their own. Ultimately, their paths converge as they all try to board the ship the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German ship that promises to take them to safety as the Soviets advance.

As expected, Sepetys’ writing is a flawless mix of plot and emotion, blending history with characters that feel real. I don’t like books with many points-of-view, so four was a bit much for me, but this is one of the few cases where each character still felt distinct and authentic.  I had actually never head of the Wilhelm Gustloff, so it felt a bit strange that so much of the book takes place on the journey to the ship, but if you either already know the history, or read the book, it does make sense.

Ultimately, I am really grateful to have learned about the history behind Salt to the Sea and I’m so glad that somebody as skilled as Sepetys’ wrote about it so that hopefully many others will get a chance to learn as well.

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When looking for a new audiobook to listen to partially when running, and ultimately end up finishing a print copy because I’m too impatient to wait for the end, Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace was an easy pick. From the haunting cover to the comparison to another young adult author I loved, Nova Ren Suma, I was immediately intrigued by this story of Breezy, a girl who wakes up a year after being murdered, spits the dirt from her mouth, and leaves her shallow grave behind.

Breezy might not know who killed her, but she now has the ability to sense who other murderers are, and since she has the ability to kill people with her touch, she’s ready to take action. Shallow Graves is a poetic but meandering story. Wallace’s writing is quite lovely, but the book feels a little too slow at times. There are also a few too many characters introduced halfway through the book, which doesn’t help with the pacing. That said, it’s pretty unique with a great creepy atmosphere to the story.

I really loved the beginning chunk of Shallow Graves but unfortunately it didn’t quite maintain that magic for the entire book. Still, I did appreciate Wallace’s descriptive writing and the strange story so if you are looking for a book that falls within the realm of dark, literary horror I do recommend checking out Shallow Graves.

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Have you read anything you would recommend lately? Let me know!

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