Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day (@LoriRaderDay)

Recently, I was wandering through the bug room at a museum. In the back corner, there was a wall of butterfly boxes. I turned to my friend and said, ‘If I’d grown up somewhere different, I wonder if I would have known that there were jobs like this. If I’d lived in a different town, I think my life might have taken an entirely different path.” And for a brief moment, I resented the life that brought me to this place where I wasn’t tacking these beautiful bugs in boxes. Then I got over it, because I was out with people I wouldn’t know on that life path. But the characters in Rader-Day’s “Little Pretty Things” are stuck in this cycle of life resentment. Especially Juliet. A once promising track star, she now cleans rooms in a rundown motel off the interstate. Her life is not sunshine and roses.

Small towns are… well, if you’ve never lived in one, you can’t really know. Literally. It is inexplicable to people who grew up in cities. I equate it to working in an office. You basically know everyone, and you have to be careful what you say where, cause information will always get back to someone it’s not supposed to. But in the small town scenario, there’s no going home. Home is just more people that you know. There’s no anonymous trip to the store. You buy tampons, you’re buying them from someone in your class, or the child of someone you work with, or the woman who’s been working behind that counter longer than you’ve been alive. If you’re trying to get pregnant (which everyone already knows), the town will soon know that it didn’t happen this month. If you don’t want people to know you’re having sex, you leave town to buy condoms. It’s a strange microcosm of awfulness. But for some people, small town life is exactly what they want. They like having the lack of anonymity. They like knowing their neighbours. They find security in it. Continue reading

Blood Harvest by Sharon Bolton (@authorsjbolton)

Sometimes, I find an author I initially like a lot, but as I keep reading, my interest starts to wane. This is what happened to me with Bolton’s books. Sacrifice was excellent. The first two Lacey Flint novels (with one exception that I’ll get to in a minute) were decidedly fun. But the third one kind of lost me. It felt like it was drifting. I couldn’t really put my finger on why, and that bothered me more than anything. I hate not being able to articulate what bothers me about a book. I’m not sure what prompted me to finally pick up Blood Harvest, but I did, and I’m glad. It was an enjoyable book, but more importantly, it helped me figure out what bothered me about the previous books.

First, the good stuff (so, obviously, spoilers). The book comes right out of the gate with a weird creepiness. Multiple dead children buried in an old grave. Strange voices seeming to come from nowhere. Inhuman looking children no one can see but other children. Little text inserts of something watching the family. Creepy and delightful! It actually felt a bit supernatural, which wasn’t what I was expecting. It was a great way to start the book. Initially, we get a lot of short chapters flipping between the different povs. It took me right into the book. Is there anything more entertaining that creepy ass kids in a churchyard? Okay, yes, the trope is overused, but it can be super fun, and I hadn’t read one of these in quite a while. One of the things I really liked was that a huge portion of the book took place from the perspective of the kids. Tom was the one telling us the story of his family. Every adult perspective is from outside the family. So instead of the typical story where the parent is telling us about the weird things their kids are doing, we get to know exactly why the kids are doing where they’re doing. The parental input is irrelevant. Tom’s innocence gets to drive the story. Continue reading