Book Review: See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

Book Review: See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

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Release Date:
May 2nd 2017
Publisher: Tinder Press
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.

Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.

Review

Copy of book cover (38)There are no words to describe how good this book is. Dark, atmospheric and chilling, this book is an intense read, and one amazing debut. There are so many things I want to say about this book. It’s exquisitely written, the claustrophobic setting, the uncomfortable feelings you get all the way through the story. This is one book that has stuck with me long after I’ve finished reading it, and I’ve recommended it to just about everyone I know.

The novel is based on the real life story of Lizzie Borden, a young women who was accused of murdering her father and step-mother. Her case went to trial but she was acquitted due to lack of evidence. The story mixes the facts of the case with a narrative that switches between before the murders occurred, and the aftermath.

The book differs in point of view between that of Lizzie, her sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget and a stranger named Benjamin. The different perspectives are really fascinating because they give such differing views of the messed up Borden family. Each scene in the book is laced with familial tension, and Schmidt’s writing oozes with a sense of dark heat and atmosphere.

The thing that stands out most is the writing style of this book. Schmidt writes in such a fascinating way, often slightly poetic, every word adds another layer and the readers senses are continually assaulted by the descriptions of the tastes and smells of the Borden household. The story is certainly a vivid one, and it is completely unlike anything I have ever read. I think I read See What I Have Done in maybe two sittings, purely because I was completely sucked into the story.

I knew very little about Lizzie Borden prior to reading this book, bar of course the famous rhyme:

‘Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.’

But after finishing the book I found myself spending a large time googling Lizzie and the case, it’s such a fascinating story. The family being sick the day before the murders, Lizzie’s contradicting story and lack of remorse over the whole thing. Did she murder her father and step-mother? We’ll never know. I loved this book from start to finish. The characters were well constructed and fleshed out, the writing impeccable and the story probably one of the best I have ever read. This is easily my favourite book of 2017. I cannot wait to see what Sarah Schmidt writes next.
5 stars

February Wrap Up!

February Wrap Up!

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February was a great month and I managed to read fifteen books despite it being the shortest month of the year. It was a pretty mixed lot with some books I really loved and a few I was more than a little disappointed by. I’m not going to go too much into them because there’s quite a few books to get through!

book cover - 2019-03-17T114531.3091. The Calling – Cate Tiernan
This is the seventh book in the Sweep/Wicca series and I’ve been having such a good time revisiting this series. I’m so pleased that I still love them as much as I did when I read them the first time. It’s such a fun and addictive series and I really enjoyed this instalment as Morgan and the gang travel to New York and unravel secrets from her past. (4/5 stars)

book cover - 2019-03-17T114313.4972. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games is a series I haven’t revisited since I first read it as a teenager so I thought it might be fun to listen to the audiobook version. After struggling with the narrator in the edition I was listening to I found another on Scribd and I really enjoyed it. It was great to revisit a book I really loved and I’m looking forward to continuing the series. (4/5 stars)

vassa3. Vassa In the Night – Sarah Porter
This was a fairyloot book quite a long time ago and I recently heard someone talk about it because it’s a reimagining of the story of Baba Yaga. I love the cover design and thought it would be a great atmospheric read but it really wasn’t for me. I struggled with the writing style, I didn’t like the characters and I found the plot a bit chaotic. (2/5 stars)

4. Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom – P. M. Freestonebook cover (39)
Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom is the first in an all new fantasy series in which the magic system is made up through scent. It was a brilliant read and one of my favourites of the month. It ended on such a cliff hanger and I’m dying to read book two. You can check out my review here, and my guest post from P. M. Freestone here! (5/5 stars)

book cover25. The Familiars – Stacy Halls
I love historical fiction that focuses on witches and I ended up completely devouring this book in one day. It was a dark and beautiful told story based on real events in history. It’s a book I still think about even though I finished it a while ago. I ranted a bit about how much I enjoyed this book here, so you can check that out if you want to know more. (4.5/5 stars)

book cover - 2019-03-17T113810.1376. Queenie – Alice Munro
This was a short piece of fiction about a young girl who goes to stay with her sister that ran away with their neighbour. It really delves into the relationship between Queenie and her husband and was quite an emotional and powerful read. It’s a really quick read and it’s definitely one that makes you think about the nature of relationships.(3/5 stars)

book cover - 2019-03-17T113823.2377. And Of Clay We Created – Isabelle Allende
This was another piece of short fiction based on the real events of a volcanic eruption that happened in Columbia in 1985. 23,000 people died and the story follows the media outpouring about a little girl trapped in a mudslide caused by the eruption. It’s a very heart wrenching piece and it really made me think. (3.5/5 stars)

blood and sand8. Blood and Sand – C. V. Wyk
This was another book that I got in a subscription box and was really intrigued about this gender bent re-imagining of Spartacus.  I found this book quite difficult to rate because I wanted to love it, I loved the idea and I enjoyed the plot but it was much more romance focused than I had hoped it would be. I wanted Attia to spend more time reclaiming her home than developing her romance with Xanthus. I still want to continue the series but I was a little disappointed overall. (3.5/5 stars)

9. The Last – Hanna Jamesonbook cover (38)
This was a fascinating look at a world in which nuclear bombs have caused the end of the world, but what happens when a group of people staying in a hotel survive? It was quite slow paced and definitely more of a character driven book but it was a really fresh perspective on this type of tale. (4/5 stars)

bosdfsr10. The Year After You – Nina de Pass
This YA debut is a beautiful story about grief, loss and forgiving yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. It was set in a remote boarding school in the snowy Swiss alps and I fell in love with the characters, the story and the setting. If you’re looking for a gripping and moving tale this is definitely one to try. You check out my full review here! (4.5/5 stars)

12. Master of Sorrows – Justin Callmos
This is the first in an all new fantasy series that I completely fell in love with. It has so many things that I love, the magical academy trope plenty of action and adventure and it was just such an exciting read. This is a series I will definitely be continuing. You can check out my stop on the blog tour here! (5/5 stars)

Untitled design (40)13. The Glass Spare – Lauren DeStefano
Quite a long time ago I read Wither by Lauren DeStefano and I loved it. The Glass Spare has been on my TBR for quite a long time so I finally decided to pick it up and I did have quite high expectations because I loved her previous series. I struggled a little with this one because I found the pacing a bit off and it felt a little repetitive. I did still enjoy it and will look to read the next book in the series, but it won’t be a priority. (3/5 stars)

book cover - 2019-03-17T113630.47714. Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen M. McManus
Thrillers are something that I don’t read an awful lot of but have found myself rather enjoying them recently. I read One Of Us Is Lying last year and did quite enjoy it so I decided to pick Two Can Keep A Secret up. While I did really enjoy this it didn’t really feel like anything new (in fact it reminded me quite a lot of the TV series Riverdale), but if you like twisty and fun thrillers this is definitely one to pick up. (4/5 stars)

book cover - 2019-03-17T113618.75215. Rogue Protocol – Martha Wells
This is the third instalment in The Murderbot Diaries series. These novellas are fun and fast reads, following the adventures of Murderbot as he tries to uncover mysteries and not get caught in the process. I’ve had mixed feelings about this series because some of the books have been a little slow but overall I really enjoyed this third instalment. (3/5 stars)

So those are the books I read in February! Let me know some of the books you read in February below!

January Wrap Up!

January Wrap Up!

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January felt like the longest month ever but I only ended up reading ten books. I felt like I kicked 2019 off quite well as a few of these were really fantastic reads, so let’s dive into my January wrap up!

gfsrThe Awakening – Kate Chopin
This little book has been on my TBR forever so I thought I would kick 2019 off by getting it off my to read list. The story is a feminist classic about a women who has an affair and becomes increasingly unhappy with the role thrust on her by society. It was a really interesting read and I found it pretty fascinating to learn how much this shocked readers when it was first published in 1899. (3/5 stars)

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The Fork the Witch & the Worm – Christopher Paolini
I really adored The Inheritance Cycle growing up so when I was given the opportunity to return to this world and all the characters I loved I was so excited. This book offers three short stories from the world of Eragon and provides an insight into what happens after the original series ends. I participated in the blog tour for this one so if you fancy reading my full review, you can check that out here. (4/5 stars)

book cover (13)The Wicked King – Holly Black
This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 and I was so excited to see if it would live up to my expectations. I’m happy to say that I thought The Wicked King was brilliant, the plot was so addictive with even more twists and turns that I just didn’t see coming. I’ve really grown attached to the characters in this series and I honestly can’t wait to find out what’s in store in The Queen of Nothing. (5/5 stars) 

book cover (75)Stain – A. G. Howard
This was my first time reading a book by A. G. Howard and I loved it so much. This beautiful gothic fairy tale follows two kingdoms, one that only contains day and one that only contains night. The heir to the kingdom of day cannot speak and sunlight burns her skin. The story follows her as she is cast out of the kingdom by her aunt and attempts to regain her kingdom. It’s gorgeously written with excellent world building and you can read my full review here. (4.5/5 stars)  

book cover (40)The Wolves of Winter – Tyrell Johnson
This was another one that I’ve had on my TBR for quite a while. The Wolves of Winter is dystopian in which disease has destroyed much of the planet. Lynn and her family survive in the harsh landscape of the Yukon but when a strange visitor appears in their community he brings with him a whole host of secrets and shadows. I loved the setting and the atmosphere in this story and it was a really enjoyable standalone story. (3.5/5 stars)

cacsArtificial Condition – Martha Wells
I read the first book in The Murderbot Diaries at the end of 2018 so I decided to continue on the series with Artificial Condition. These short novellas follow a security bot gone rogue – “Murderbot” – and his adventures. In this instalment he teams up with a research vessel named ART to explore his past and the place where he went rogue. It’s a fun quick read and while I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I enjoyed All Systems Red I’m still looking forward to continuing the series. (2.5/5 stars)

ssdThe Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One – Amanda Lovelace
I read The Princess Saves Herself In This One quite a while ago so when I spotted the second book in this series in my local bookshop I quickly snapped it up. I really enjoyed the first book but this one is definitely my favourite. Powerful and inspiring, I read the poetry in one sitting because I was completely absorbed in this collection of poems about the resilience and power of women. (5/5 stars)

book cover (98)The Puppet Show – M. W. Craven
The first in an all new crime thriller series, The Puppet Show opens with a series of murders in the Lake District. A serial killer is burning people alive at stone circles throughout the area and the police don’t have much to go on. When a clear message is sent to disgraced detective Washington Poe, he’s brought back onto the force but as he investigates these dark murders he uncovers a whole lot more than he bargained for. This book is so dark, twisty and unforgettable. It’s definitely one of my favourite crime thrillers of all time and I can’t wait to read the next instalment in the series – full review here! (4/5 stars)

book sdsThe Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One – Amanda Lovelace
After I read The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This one I requested the next instalment from Netgalley and was so excited when I got approved. This is the final collection in the Women are Some King of Magic series and whilst I still really enjoyed this, it was my least favourite of the three collections. The poems were beautiful, but they didn’t speak to me in the same way the others did. (3.5/5 stars)

book cover (100)Slay On Tour – Kim Curran
Slay are back! I read and loved the first book in this series last year and was super excited to be back with the boy band that are world famous by day and demon hunters by night. This instalment sees the gang go to Japan to investigate a series of demons that have been causing havok. They go on tour with a band of holographic girls but when things start to go wrong during the tour they soon learn they might have even bigger problems. The book is fun, fast paced and has a really great storyline. It’s a brilliant addition to the series and I’m hoping the series will continue with the band travelling to more places around the world. If you want to read my full review you can check out my blog tour stop here! (4/5 stars)

So those are the books I read in January! If you’ve read any of them definitely let me know what you thought and tell me some of the books you read and loved in January!