14 January 2018

The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor - A Book Review



I'm a sucker for a good whodunit. Especially one that spans time. What was an unsolvable mystery in childhood becomes a must-solve mystery as an adult.

That's what happens in The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor. Five friends who stumble upon a mystery that consumes the whole town. We follow along with Eddie and his friends in that weird pre-adolescent stage that can't quite let go of childhood yet isn't ready for adulthood yet. Using their own secret code to talk with each other in chalk, this ends up leading them to the body of a young girl found in the park who's body was dismembered. Nothing was ever really the same after that. It isn't just about a mystery and a murder. It's about morals. What's right and wrong. Faith and hypocrisy. And secrets they all are hiding.

So what did I think? Well, this was a mixed bag for me if I was being completely honest. First, the crux of the mystery - the dead body - didn't really hold me as much as Eddie's desire to discover what happened did. I think it was that, actually. Eddie held me in the story. This main character who eventually became a lonely 40 year old man, who was not quite ready to share the burdens of his own issues with another woman, was a likable character who couldn't leave the past alone. Especially when it lands on his doorstep. I like those kinds of characters. Who just can't let something go.

The thing that I didn't enjoy as much as I probably should have was the way it spanned across time. It jumped back and forth between 1986 and 2018. It was well told in some ways but in other ways breaking it up the way they did left me pulled out of one problem and having to jump in another too much. I almost would have appreciated the section of 1986 as one whole and 2018 as another whole.

As for the ending, both satisfying and unsatisfying in some ways. Loose ends are tied, which is always nice. At the same time, there's a bit of mystery left hanging with the main character that didn't do too much for me.

If this book sounds like it's right for you, make sure you purchase it on Amazon. Check out Goodreads for this book as well and add it to your must read list. Be sure to follow the author C J Tudor on Twitter as well.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. This post also includes an Amazon affiliate link. If you purchase this book via my link, I'll receive small compensation. 

05 January 2018

My Writing Past and My Writing Future


dit: markus spiske neourban hipster office workstation via photopin (license)
It's funny as a writer how much we change without realizing. As the New Year moves along, I tend to look back over old notebooks and half way finished stories, plot lines and ideas and think about how I've changed as a writer. While I haven't found "the one" book that I would finish that would lead to me getting published, I've always been writing. Like my favorite doll "Baby," who would go with me everywhere as a child, that is the life of my notebooks these days. They are with me everywhere, whether it's the tiny notebook for ideas or the tattered 8 1/2 by 11 spiral bound notebook for longer stories. However, so far, none of them have experienced the same troubles as my favorite doll Baby often ran into (such as being left in the library overnight, forgotten at restaurants, etc).

 And as I go through these notebooks, along the way I have learned things about myself and my writing. I've uncovered the stories that are now too weird for me to return to, others that are partially done but show so much potential, and a few ideas that are shelved to the back of my mind so I can return to them later. My stories also reflect where I'm at in my life. I have been Christian all my life, but over the past two years I have really gotten more serious about my faith. In fact, my faith and relationship with God is so much closer for me now that I can't believe I've never blogged about this before.

And to be honest, I also haven't really introduced my faith in my fiction writing either. It's like wearing new shoes as I weave my writing side with my faith. These two areas are no longer separate for me and it's been an interesting journey to uncover what that means for my writing. Lately I have been keeping my eye out for examples of fiction writers who have used their faith in their creative writing. As I find them, I take these scraps and morsels with me on my journey to reflect on while I also let go and let God guide me through this journey.

 As the New Year brings in change and promises of better habits, I'm realizing how important it is for me to be open to change and letting my writing change. Many stories I've written in the past no longer fit me just like attending my old high school doesn't fit me now either. We grow, we change, and our stories do too. For me now, it's also about giving my creative side to God, which isn't something I expected to do nor is it entirely that easy all the time. Even blogging about it feels weird (I can't help but think to myself, "Am I really writing this for people to read??"). With every brave step forward, though, it will get more and more comfortable for me to write about, talk about and introduce into my creativity. And I know God is with me, every step of the way. 
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