Black-Eyed Susans

Title: Black-Eyed Susans
Author: Julia Heaberlin
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Crime | Mystery | Thriller
Rating: 3

That was my grandfather’s one survival tip if I ever found myself trapped in a fairy tale. Keep your promises. Bad things happen if you don’t.

I read the blurb for this on Amazon and I instantly fell in love with the plot. There was just something about Tessa thinking that she was safe, but then the murderer starts leaving her flowers and that really intrigued me. I wanted to see how she reacted and where the murderer was going to attack again. However, when I started reading the book was not what I expected at all. For starters the plot wasn’t about the murderer returning in modern time, as I was expecting, but was more about the trial resolving around the man who was originally convicted as the Black-Eyed Susans’ murderer. At first I was a little disappointed but I quickly became invested in the plot when everything began to unfold.

Another thing that I wasn’t a fan of was the alternating point of views. Heaberlin worked it really well to introduce shocking things in one point of view that quickly produced a parallel in the other. They worked really well and it was a great technique by Heaberlin but personally I still didn’t like it. It was irritating and quickly became annoying as the book developed. Young Tessa’s point of view quickly became uninteresting and her character was too stuck up for my liking. All she seemed to want to do was disrupt the trial and she didn’t seem that impacted by her situation, which seems pretty improbable.

Some of the characters were really interesting. Older Tessa was such a great character for me. It was easy to see how much she worried about her little girl and the lengths she went through to defend her girl were admirable. Effie was such a great character as well, although I felt like she was a bit useless. She didn’t have a huge role in the novel other than as a supporting character. In young Tessie’s life, I was really intrigued by Lydia’s character. She was so dynamic and different and she was so loyal to Tessa! Although the ending ruined that a little.

Speaking of the ending, I don’t know about anyone else but the ending/cliffhangers were really predictable as far as I was concerned. I felt that young Tessa’s twist was much more interesting and definitely the most predictable of the two, however there were a lot of hints dropped throughout the novel.

In my opinion this book is quite good. It’s not as bad as I make out, I assure you of that! I just had quite a few faults with it. I would definitely suggest giving it a read!



Title: Once
Author: Morris Gleitzman
Publisher: The Penguin Group
Publication Year: 2006
Genre: Historical Fiction | YA
Rating: 5

Suddenly I’m thinking of another story. The one Mum and Dad told me about why I had to stay at the orphanage. They said it was so I could go to  school there while they travelled to fix up their business. They told it so well, that story, I believed it for three years and eight months. That story saved my life.

If you don’t know by now, I am a big history lover. So, when I came across this book I brought it without a second thought and I have to say I’m glad I did. I loved, loved, loved this book! It was the title of the book that first drew me in, normally I pick a book up based on the front cover, and if I’m honest the front cover was nothing special but the title stood out like a sore thumb. The book itself was quite short, I picked up thinking ‘was it worth writing it’ and by gosh was it. There are certain books that once you’ve read them, just stick with you. This is one of those books.

I think I picked it up for the general fiction section, but after reading it I realised it was for younger readers. I think I read somewhere that the author is a children’s author, but don’t let that stop you from reading it. The book was probably a bit simple when it came to sentence structure and wording but with the content of the book, as in the actual story itself, I don’t think it needed complex words and such – in fact I’d even go as far as saying I think that would distract the reader from the actual story itself.

Without wishing to give too many spoilers away, the book is about a young Jewish boy, who lived in Poland, and his journey to find his parents during the Holocaust. Just from the information I’ve given you, you can probably imagine it’s not going to be easy.

The narrator is a young boy called Felix. Personally I find child narrators fascinating, they come with an innocence, a type of naivety that we can’t get from adult narrators. It’s refreshing. I mean, obviously this isn’t always the case but it was in the book. Felix was so naive to what was happening, I think this made the book more hard hitting, because you realise this would have been the case for most of the children during the war. They wouldn’t have understood what was happening or why it was happening. As we went on this journey with Felix though, we watched as his innocence and naivety started to fade away. He started taking on tasks that no child should have to do, but again it made you realise, well this probably actually happened.

It’s definitely different to your average book. There was times Felix had me laughing and times (more times than I’d like to admit) where he had me crying. I still don’t really know what age range the book is aimed for but I’m 19 and I can tell you I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and can’t wait to read the next book.