Anne Bonny #YA #BookReview I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter #NewRelease YA @simonschusterUK ‘Dark themes, haunting characters and beautiful writing’

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I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter
My own copy from TBR pile
Synopsis:

“Caleb led me into the party. He’d invited me because he could. He’d kissed me because he could. Just like his dad, Caleb lived in a world of could and we drifted from room to room on the privilege of it.”

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, she begins her freshman year with new clothes, new hair, and a plan: she doesn’t need to be popular, she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

It’s a lonely existence, but at least no one’s tripping her in the halls. In fact, no one notices her at all. Until Caleb Breward, tells her she’s beautiful and makes her believe it.

Ellie loves Caleb, but sometimes she doesn’t like him that much – his awkward smile, the possessive way he touches her, the tone he uses, how he ignores her one minute and can’t get enough the next. And on one black night, she discovers the monster her boyfriend really is. Ellie wasn’t the first victim, but now, trapped, she has to watch it happen again and again. She tries to hold onto her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

But no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

My Review:

This is very much a Lovely Bones for the YA generation. There is some extremely beautiful writing, despite the dark subject matter. The protagonist Ellie Frias is unusual in that Ellie is a murdered teen, watching over the aftermath of her brutal rape and murder. She is from a small town named Hollow Oaks in New York, which she describes rather poetically.

‘I suppose this is a fitting place for a girl like me. I disappeared before I actually did. And now, I’m trapped here. Forgotten.’
‘This whole town is full of ghosts’ – Ellie

We Later learn that Hollow Oaks is a town facing economical destabilisation. With most of the factories closed. Families have lost everything including their homes. The downturn enables one wealthy family to buy up all the real estate and effectively own the town. Hollow Oaks sounds like a miserable place to live and an even worse place to die.

‘I hate the way these unseen things damage us in secret’ – Ellie

The novel opens with Ellie in ghost form witnessing an assault on a new victim. This is taking place at the same run-down house where Ellie’s assault took place. The current victim is pleading to be let go. Ellie remarks on how there has been seven victims, since she was brought to the abandoned house.

‘He looks for the young ones, the pretty ones.
The weak ones’ – Ellie

We learn Ellie’s background, raised by a single father, she is a social outcast as school. Having recently transferred schools, she wasn’t struggling to fit in, she simply didn’t exist. The novel also reflects quite deeply on the power of words and in particular the word ‘pretty’. As Beyonce says ‘Pretty Hurts’. The term pretty and to be defined as or as not pretty can have a huge impact on a young girls psychology. Their self-esteem can be exceptionally fragile in an Instagram society, where we are judged by out snaps alone. Ellie words this so much better than I ever could. But as the mother to a teenage daughter, it gave me much food for thought.

Eventually someone shows an interest in Ellie, a young boy by the name of Caleb. Only what Ellie doesn’t know, is the meeting of Caleb will be the very undoing of her. But still he persists to ask her out on Friday night. . .
“Why not? What’s the worst that can happen? I’m a nice guy – Caleb

“You can’t imagine the things I think about doing with you” – Caleb

Reading on, as Ellie reflects upon meeting Caleb and the clever way in which he groomed her and broken her down slowly by building her up with words, brought tears to my eyes.

‘It takes a lot of things to make a girl, but breaking her? it only takes a few pretty words and a crooked smile’ – Ellie

Ellie is forced to witness victim after victim, be brought to the abandoned property. To witness their assaults. Until one victim named Gretchen decides to fight back! It is Gretchen’s refusal to be a victim and determination to find Ellie that unravels the entire plot.

The chapters are reflective and cover previously to the attack, after the attack itself on Ellie and subsequent attacks on other young girls. Ellie is able to watch over not only her killer but the police dealing with her case and her grieving father. The novel has some powerful writing as mentioned and quoted above. It really is written from the soul.

There are various topics that would make for great debate among book groups and young people. The arrogance and sexual entitlement of some young males and their disregard for the women they abuse and manipulate.
But also when we think of grooming itself, we don’t necessarily think of teenage boys. I know I didn’t, yet when I thought back that is exactly what Caleb did. I guess this novel serves as a stark reminder that teenage boys can groom their victims too.

‘Nobody every wants to be inconvenienced by all the things that happen to girls’

The theme of victimhood amongst teenage girls is also explored, as more and more young women eventually come forward. It concerns me that now we seem to see cases where a rapist needs multiple victims for the victims to be believed.

Dark themes, haunting characters and beautiful writing 4*

T.E. Carter
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Outsider by Stephen King #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @HodderPublicity ‘The outsider is phenomenal! 5* genius’

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The Outsider by Stephen King
My own copy from my TBR pile
Synopsis:

 When an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man.

Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day.

As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King’s propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear.

Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?

My Review:

The Outsider is insanely gripping! With a brilliant start, middle and ending. I am a fan of Stephen King, or as I call it ‘being scared to death by Stephen King’ lol. I started reading IT last summer and found I could only read it with my back firmly against the wall. So eventually I gave up as it was a really uncomfortable position to read in. But every time I tried to read IT with a space behind me, I kept jumping out of my skin!

The novel opens at the scene of the arrest of Terry Maitland (Coach T). It is an arrest that will come to haunt Detective Ralph Anderson, throughout the entire novel.
Throughout the novel there are a series of statements taken from residents of Flint City in the aftermath of the murder of Frankie Peterson. They all individually and clearly point the fingers of suspicion towards Coach T. Then fingerprint results come back and seal the deal. Coach T is getting arrested for murder, but not just any arrest. He will be arrested purposefully in front of the locals at the towns little league game.
A public shaming for all to see.

“Terence Maitland I am arresting you for the murder of Frank Peterson” – Troy Rampage

The murder of Frankie Peterson at just 11yrs old. Is not for the faint hearted, the scenes are described in graphic detail and the scene is one you won’t forget. As much as I was shocked and horrified at the murder itself, I didn’t feel this was an ‘over use of violence’ or too explicit. These crimes happen every day, in safe neighbourhoods etc. I think the author has drawn from the real horrors of the world, the daily news stories of cases just like this.

But the novel itself doesn’t focus too much around the actual physical act of murder. It focuses on the whodunit, in an unusual and impressive way. For Coach T claims he is innocent. He appears genuinely horrified at the cops claims and when shown direct testimony and evidence. he is baffled!
At the scene of his arrest are his wife Marcy and daughters Gracie and Sarah. He asks his wife to contact their lawyer Howie Gold. So that together they may get this misunderstanding figured out.

‘Thinking was beginning to replace reacting’

As the cops continue to interview Coach T. He begins to tell them of his alibi and how it simply couldn’t have been him in town on the afternoon of the murder. As he was in Cap City, watching Harlan Coben give an author talk. He claims he travelled with three fellow English teachers and spent the entire weekend with them. So why do the cops have so many witness statements stating the opposite? Are people mistaken?

The cops desperately await further DNA evidence believing this will be the final nail in the coffin. Meanwhile, Howie Gold contacts a private investigator to look into the alibi himself. What he and the cops discover is shocking and simply impossible. . .

‘A man could not be in two places at the same time’

Whilst the cops hold Coach T and continue their investigation into his alleged crime. The victims family is struggling to cope. Fred and Arlene Peterson are the unfortunate parents of Frank, they are left understandably devastated in the aftermath of his murder. Frankie’s brother Ollie is also left to hold his parents together. They are a family devastated and my heart ached for them. Arlene Peterson eventually snaps!

As footage of the Harlan Coben conference is discovered. DNA results are also back on the semen found at the crime scene.
Coach T is going to Flint county court for arraignment!

His wife Marcy remains in denial, as the locals in the town turn on the coach. Marcy begins to fear for her own future and that of her two young daughters. But she remains steadfast in her belief in her husbands innocence.

‘He never did anything but good for this town and they all hate him’ – Marcy

Coach T arrives at his arraignment and then the novel takes a HUGE twist!
One I never saw coming!

Detective Ralph Anderson is a cop who takes his work home with him. He often discusses his cases with his wife Jeanette. She becomes a shining star in this novel, despite the fact that she is actually a background character. I found her opinions and thoughts on the case fascinating and couldn’t help but wonder how many cases she must have assisted with over the years, to have such a wise mind.

‘There is something very wrong with this and the more you find, the wronger it gets. It scares me’ – Jeanette

I started out writing in-depth notes, but in the end, I gave up, sat back and just became absorbed in the novel.
So, to put it simply, The outsider is phenomenal! 5* genius

SK
Stephen King
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