SUNDAY SHOUT OUT

Is there ever such a thing as too many books? I don’t think there are too many books to read, but there can definitely be too many to review. Often I’m sent books and, with an already sagging review shelf, these unsolicited books often often don’t fit in to my schedule. Other times, I am unable to finish a book I intended to review (for various reasons), or I don’t have time for a full review. Sunday Shout-Out aims to acknowledge these books and the publishers who have sent them to me.

Sunday Shout Out is a bookish meme hosted by Monique of Write Note Reviews. If you’re a book blogger and you want to join in, just:

  • Share the title, author, blurb and image from a book (or more than one) you want to acknowledge
  • Share the genre, price and link to the publisher so readers can follow up if they like the sound of the book
  • Ping back to Write Note Reviews in your post.

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1. Devil’s Knot by Mara Leveritt, Simon & Schuster RRP $19.99

Devil's Knot

In 2011, one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in American legal history was set right when Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley were released after eighteen years in prison. Award-winning journalist Mara Leveritt’s The Devil’s Knot remains the most comprehensive, insightful reporting ever done on the investigation, trials, and convictions of three teenage boys who became known as the West Memphis Three. For weeks in 1993, after the murders of three eight-year-old boys, police in West Memphis, Arkansas seemed stymied. Then suddenly, detectives charged three teenagers—alleged members of a satanic cult—with the killings. Despite the witch-hunt atmosphere of the trials, and a case which included stunning investigative blunders, a confession riddled with errors, and an absence of physical evidence linking any of the accused to the crime, the teenagers were convicted. Jurors sentenced Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley to life in prison and Damien Echols, the accused ringleader, to death. The guilty verdicts were popular in their home state—even upheld on appeal—and all three remained in prison until their unprecedented release in August 2011. With close-up views of its key participants, this award-winning account unravels the many tangled knots of this endlessly shocking case, one which will shape the American legal landscape for years to come.

The nature of this crime makes this a difficult read in the first instance, but once past that, the detailed examination of the case, its multiple mishandlings and the people involved, is an interesting read. The tone is dry and journalistic, but despite this, it’s also capable of evoking emotions such as frustration and disbelief. I hadn’t heard of the case prior to reading (I live in Australia), but I could see how it would have captured public interest and led to outcry and demands for justice … on all counts. One for true crime fans, people who’ve kept up with the case, or those planning to watch the film version.

2. Black Lake by Johanna Lane, Headline Tinder Press RRP $29.99. My copy courtesy of Hachette.

Dunlough: a rambling, idyllic estate in the Irish countryside, one that has cast a potent spell on its inhabitants for generations. But with the cost of upkeep mounting and money running thin, family patriarch John Campbell makes a bold decision: to avoid selling, he will open Dunlough’s doors to tourists, and move his wife, and their son and daughter, to a dank, small cottage behind the main house. The upheaval strains the already tenuous threads that bind the insular family. Then a tragic accident befalls them, and long-simmering resentments and unanswered yearnings come dangerously to the surface. BLACK LAKE is a modern, nuanced, gem of a debut novel which evokes the deep connection and nostalgia we feel for the places we love.

Character-driven rather than plot-driven, Black Lake is a quiet, subtle book that explores grief, loss and nostalgia – remembering better times. It’s not a book for those who want something fast-paced and action-packed – rather this is for someone who likes a languid style of novel, one that reveals its story slowly but surely, with the lack of action replaced by a greater focus on emotion and experience. The title hints at darkness and this comes across in the form of a tragic event as much as it does that darkness that envelops the characters.

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Which of these would you read?