Book Review: Spilled Blood by Brian Freeman

This is the description of the book I found on Goodreads:

“A taut thriller about two rural Minnesota towns locked in a deadly feud–and a teenage girl caught in the crossfire. Linked by the Spirit River, the two towns couldn’t be more different: in affluent Barron, a powerful and secretive scientific research corporation enriches its residents, while downriver in blue-collar St. Croix, victims of that company’s carcinogenic waste struggle to survive. The bad blood between the communities escalates into open warfare when the beautiful Ashlynn, daughter of the corporation’s president, is found shot dead–and a St. Croix girl, Olivia Hawk, is accused of the crime. Reluctantly, Olivia’s mother summons her estranged husband Christopher, a Minneapolis lawyer, to come defend his daughter. As Christopher struggles to unravel the mystery of Ashlynn’s murder and save his own daughter, he uncovers some ugly truths that endanger the residents of both towns. And looming over everything are the chilling, apocalyptic threats from a murderous psychopath known only as “Aquarius.””

This story was good – there was a lot going on and it tied up all the loose ends and provided a satisfying, although unbelievable ending. It has twists and thrills as I expected from what I’d heard about the book. I did not guess who the killer was, or who Aquarius was. But it came across as flat and one-dimensional. There wasn’t enough emotion to make me care about the characters, although there were ample opportunities for emotion: a murdered teenager, characters dead or dying from cancer, a man trying to save his daughter from prison. Emotions were mentioned, but the author was telling us about the emotions rather than showing us the emotions. I like a story that makes me feel something, and this story fell short. I also found some portions boring due to dialogue running on for several pages, or the formulaic descriptions given of each person when they were introduced to the reader. I was aware of the author when I read this book, instead of getting lost in the story. I think this may be a great read for a reader who just wants the facts of a story without the emotions, however.

I give Spilled Blood by Brian Freeman 3 out of 5 stars. I do plan to read another one of his books in the future.


41-year love affair with a book


“I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.” – C.S. Lewis

I have a confession to make: I’ve been in love with Gone With The Wind, the novel, for 41 years – ever since my mother gave it to me when I was 13. I’ve read it every year for 41 years, having just completed it a few days ago. And after this reading, I’ve decided that it won’t be an annual ritual. I will give this beloved book, with the detached cover, the packing tape binding, and the well-thumbed pages, a rest. It’s time.

It may seem ridiculous to some to read a book 41 times. Why did I do it?

  1. It gave me comfort. As a gift from a mother who was only marginally in my life, shortly after my dad died at the young age of 46, it made me feel that I had a connection with her that I otherwise did not have. Also, having read it so many times, I could read it even when anxiety had overtaken my thoughts, when understanding an unfamiliar book would have been impossible. It became like a welcome friend.
  2. I love the story, the characters, the writing, the setting. I simply adore the book.
  3. As a novel writer, I love that Margaret Mitchell was able to write such a long and magnificent book without the benefit of a word processor or writing software such as Scrivener. I love that she completed her manuscript in only three years and that she was rejected by 38 publishers before finding one who would publish her novel. It gives me the incentive to keep writing and to keep submitting VIVOS to publishers until one says “yes.”
  4. I always looked forward to “escaping” to the antebellum South each year, wondering what it would have been like to be a Southern belle from a cotton plantation. I find the Civil War fascinating and the story inspired my interest in it.

And why have I decided not to read Gone With The Wind every year anymore?

  1. There are so many great books out there that I want to read, and I’m getting behind on my TBR pile.
  2. I’ve decided to do book reviews, both as a part of my blog and to support fellow and sister writers by reviewing their books on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble, so I have to be reading new books. Leaving reviews is a great way to help a writer. I hope other writers will give me the same support someday.
  3. I don’t write historical fiction, and I need to be reading what I’m writing, which is currently science fiction, and in the future, crime thrillers or murder mysteries, if all goes as planned.
  4. I recently celebrated my fifth wedding anniversary with my husband, Rob, who has completed my life in a way that hadn’t happened until I met him in 2013. I no longer need to revisit my “relationship” with my mother each year. I no longer need to rely on my relationship with the O’Haras, Hamiltons, and Wilkeses.
  5. As I’ve been reading some of the classics lately, I’m feeling dissatisfied with some of the dated references. Gone With The Wind, of course, has slavery, and Rhett Butler’s treatment of Scarlett at times was reprehensible. I’ve read some of the old murder mysteries that were written by men, and have been appalled at the way men treated women in these books: hitting them, touching them or otherwise being too familiar with them, calling them “doll” and “sweetheart” when they were neither. I’m not a big proponent of political correctness because I think it’s gone too far, but certain topics can be a turnoff – at which point I put the book down, I don’t ban it or burn it or tell others not to read it.

I’m entering a new chapter of my life. Will there be another book that I feel compelled to read more than once? There have been only a few books that I have read twice.

What books have you read more than once, and why?


Book Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

If you liked the movies The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl, you will like this book. I Let You Go gave me the same surreal, unbalanced feeling that I felt while experiencing the movies, the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. It’s suspenseful and emotional and has some great plot twists. I think it was written for any adult, male or female.

One thing that stood out to me was the three separate points of view: first person; second person, which is so rarely used; and third person all being used in the same book, and used very well. I sometimes find it difficult to read a book that reverts between different points of view, but in this case, it added to the unease I felt while reading the book, to the off-balance feeling I was experiencing, which added to my enjoyment of the book.

I give I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for anyone who likes suspense thrillers.