logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Family-Saga
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
review 2017-11-02 15:56
V.C. Andrews - the Casteel series
Heaven - V.C. Andrews
Dark Angel - V.C. Andrews
Fallen Hearts - V.C. Andrews,Andrew Neiderman
Gates of Paradise - V.C. Andrews,Andrew Neiderman
Web of Dreams - Andrew Neiderman,V.C. Andrews

While I felt that the Flowers in the Attic was a excellent book, I think that the Casteel series is overall the best (at least, the parts written by VC herself) I have read Heaven 7 or 8 times, and I never get tired of it. And this book is only the beginning of a excellent series, so if you're looking to spend a good amount of hours reading something wonderful, then start with Heaven!

You can't help but feel bad for this poor girl since she is so mistreated by her father for something that was not even her fault! You wonder why things happen the way they do, but much like Flowers in the Attic, the story of Heaven continues through a series, and the Heaven series is just as enjoyable, with VCA's writing talent but a different story from Flowers in the Attic so that this series isn't repetitive or boring. Enjoy!

 

At 4.5/5 stars, Dark Angel serves as an excellent follow-up to 'Heaven' - a book that I have read at least 8 times already - and is a good chronicle of Heaven's further adventures. I am just sad that Kitty destroyed Leigh's doll in the previous book, but Heaven should have confronted Tony about it, it wouldn't have hurt to press the issue (especially after finding out what Tony and Leigh had done) More of the doll's origins are revealed in the fifth Casteel book, 'Web of Dreams', but it still would have helped this story to see Heaven ask Tony about the doll and seeing how he reacted to it.

Heaven's idea to screw around with Luke's mind was a great idea. After the mistreatment he gave her, he deserved it though I felt bad about what happened to Tom. Tony's revelations about Leigh are shocking, but the truth is revealed in future Casteel books, so this makes a good installment in the series. Overall a decent continuation of Heaven Casteel's story.

 

Doubtless Fallen Hearts might have been a bit different if VCA had been able to finish this story before her untimely death. Neiderman didn't keep all the facts straight from Dark Angel, as the exact details of Troy's death/return, and nearer the end of Fallen Hearts, the writing feels a bit more distinctly different.

However, this is still a decent continuation of the Casteel saga. Having the truth revealed (that Leigh wasn't the little tramp that Troy made her out to be) felt good. I know some VCA fans might disagree, but it felt somehow appropriate to me that Heaven would be with Troy one last time. I was disappointed that Luke suddenly died, though. It seemed like such an 'convenient' death so Neiderman wouldn't have to work with him anymore. A definite good read even if not up to the par of a 100% VCA book.

 

While not as good as the other Casteel books (possibly because it was finished by Andrew Neiderman after V.C. Andrews's death), this book is still an enjoyable read in some parts. The ending felt a bit rushed, but if you read the first three Heaven books and want to see how the saga closes, pick up this book. There's not as much action in here since it's supposed to be the end of the Casteel saga so the ending might feel cliched and I definitely think it could have been better, and this just adds to the tragedy of V.C. Andrews's death.

 

Personally, I find the title Web of Dreams a bit off, as it doesn't fit in with the rest of the series titles. But Leigh's story is good, and gives a LOT of explanation as to how Heaven's life turned out the way it did. Tony had told Heaven that it was Leigh's fault, that Leigh was the seductress, but this book shows that not only is Leigh a victim of Tony's unrestrained lust, she is also a victim of her father's neglect and her mother's willful ignorance. In Dark Angel and Fallen Hearts, it's hard to not feel sorry for Jillian as she falls into madness, but in this book, you cannot help but think that Jillian got what she deserved, for being so selfish to Leigh.

The business with Leigh's questioned paternity was a completely unnecessary detail in this book and would have been better left out. Two other things always bothered me - that in the beginning as Annie is going through her great-grandmother's things, she finds Leigh's diary. If Leigh ran away with Luke and took the diary with her, then Jillian wouldn't have been in possession of the book (and thus she would have known of the truth), and the letter at the end reveals that Tony was aware of Heaven's existence long before she came to Farthinggale Manor, since he had a detective track Leigh down. Why did he choose to leave the baby girl up there? Yes, Tony was a slimeball for what he did, but leaving his child up in the mountains without even checking up on its welfare?

It seems that these flaws are Andrew Neiderman's making, since VCA was unable to finish this book, and Neiderman had to finish it for her. He uses the snotty schoolgirl cliche in here that he has used in future books, and in this book, the school drama was really unnecessary. These flaws are what keep this book from being 5 stars, and it would have been great if Neiderman had paid more attention to VCA's detail to make sure he didn't contradict or retcon anything, but what's done is done and you'll just have to take this book as it is. At least it was better than Gates of Paradise.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2017-11-02 13:49
V.C. Andrews - the Dollanganger Series
Flowers in the Attic - V.C. Andrews
Petals on the Wind - V.C. Andrews
If There Be Thorns - V.C. Andrews
Seeds of Yesterday (Dollanganger Series) - V.C. Andrews
Garden of Shadows (Dollanganger Series) - V.C. Andrews

Sadly, this wasn't the first VCA book I ever read (I started off with the Cutler family series) but when I finally got around to Flowers in the Attic, I was not disappointed. It is easily one of the best books I have ever read. The drama, the intrigue, the suspense... I have read this book several times and never get tired of it.

You can't help but feel bad for the poor kids, especially with their harsh treatment by their grandmother and the blatant selfishness of their mother. One might wonder why the events in this book have transpired as they have, but this book is simply the first in a fascinating five-book series, and the rest of the series explains why this book was the way it was, especially the fifth, which serves as a prequel. The entire saga is riveting!

 

After reading Flowers in the Attic, I was happy to continue the story with Petals on the Wind. If I were Cathy, I'd be supremely pissed off at my own mother, and want to plot revenge. It was sad in some parts, but a satisfying read overall.

The trio that managed to escape the Foxworth mansion after the death of their brother are forever scarred by their traumatic experience, especially Carrie, who constantly struggles with the physical and mental scars that are left on her. Despite being adopted by a man who treats them well, the children can't quite get over what happened, though Chris is more quick to move on and start a productive life in medicine. Cathy desires revenge - perfectly justified - but makes some stupid decisions along the way. However, her thirst for revenge comes to fruiton as she lashes against the evil grandmother and her mother.

All in all, this is a worthy continuation of Flowers in the Attic, with things coming full circle, so to speak (at least in some aspects, since this series still has 3 more books to go)

 

If There Be Thorns doesn't have the same feel as FitA or PotW, but is still a wonderful book. People wonder why Malcolm was the way he was, and Bart's reading of his journal helps to shed some light in why the Foxworth bloodline became so twisted and why Malcolm treated/saw women the way he did. The storyline focuses on Jory and Bart, and how they come to know the old lady next door - and her dark secret, and how Malcolm's madness continued to live on. A definite must-read for any VCA fan.

 

Seeds of Yesterday doesn't have so much to do with the first three Dollanganger books, as it's now 1997 (over a decade set after the actual date VCA published this, in the mid-80's) but still stands as a decent story in its own right, with the surprising reappearance of a character long thought dead. And religion comes back with this character, reminding Chris and Cathy all too well why they didn't want anything to do with religion. As a part of a series, Seeds of Yesterday doesn't contribute overmuch to the Foxworth saga, which is sad, because it'd have been nice to learn more about the Foxworths.

Just one plothole - in SoY, it's 1997, but in the next book 'Garden of Shadows' (prequel to Flowers in the Attic), Olivia Foxworth's will included a letter to be opened 20 years after her death (which was the story of GoS) and her death was in 1972, so Chris and Cathy should have read GoS by now, five years before SOY, and already be aware of what happened between Malcolm and Olivia.
 
After reading the rest of the Dollanganger series, I was naturally eager to start Garden of Shadows. It is stunning how a woman that you end up feeling sorry for turns into such a horrible person in FitA. Yes, Olivia went through a bad transformation, but here you see who the REAL villain is.

Tempting hints of Malcolm and Olivia's turbulent relationship with one another and their children and grandchildren were hinted at in previous books, but here, from Olivia's own viewpoint, we see why she has suffered. Mind you, this doesn't absolve her of the bad things she did, but you can see how she became the kind of person she did, and what led Chris and Corrine to run away from home. It is sad that V.C. Andrews died before she could complete this book, as the ghostwriter wrote much of this, and one can not help but wonder how the book would have been had VCA been able to complete it.
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-10-30 13:00
Blackwater: The Complete Saga by Michael McDowell, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Blackwater: The Complete Saga - Michael McDowell,Matt Godfrey

Blackwater: The Complete Saga on audio is absolutely phenomenal! Phenomenal! That's right, it's so good, it deserves two PHENOMENALS. 

 

First-about the book itself. Michael McDowell was a force to be reckoned with as far as writing about family dynamics. If you've read The Elementals, Gilded Needles, or Cold Moon over Babylon, (and if you haven't you SHOULD), you already know that McDowell writes about families like no one else. Now imagine those books expanded to cover several generations of one family, in this case The Caskeys, and you might have an inkling of how great a work of literature, (that's right, I'm calling it literature), Blackwater really is. 

 

Starting with a huge flood in Perdido, Alabama and a mysterious woman found in a partially flooded hotel and ending with another flood in the same town, there is a symmetry here not often found in horror fiction. Perhaps it's because Blackwater isn't really a horror novel, (or series of novels, as it was originally released back in the 80's), at all. I would describe it more as a Southern Gothic soap opera or family saga, with supernatural and horrific elements.

 

One of the things I adore about McDowell, and there are many of them, (click here for my essay on McDowell's work), is how he treats horrifying supernatural events as if they were no big deal. Somehow, the way he does that makes the event even more horrifying, if that makes any sense. 

 

Of course, as I mentioned above, McDowell writes family dynamics like no one else and this book proves it. Throughout generations even, McDowell is at the top of his game writing about this family with its rich men and domineering women. Being from Alabama himself, the authenticity of the family's bearing and standing in their community of Perdido is never in doubt. His insights into human behavior are unmatched and beautifully written-without fail. Here's a quote from the first book of this novel,The Flood, (which takes place in the early 1920's):

 

That was the great misconception about men: because they dealt with money, because they could hire someone on and later fire him, because they alone filled state assemblies and were elected congressional representatives, everyone thought they had power. Yet all the hiring and firing, the land deals and the lumber contracts, the complicated process for putting through a constitutional amendment-these were only bluster. They were blinds to disguise the fact of men's real powerlessness in life. Men controlled the legislatures, but when it came down to it, they didn't control themselves. Men had failed to study their own minds sufficiently, and because of this failure they were at the mercy of fleeting passions; men, much more than women, were moved by petty jealousies and the desire for petty revenges. Because they enjoyed their enormous but superficial power, men had never been forced to know themselves the way that women, in their adversity and superficial subservience, had been forced to learn about the workings of their brains and their emotions.

 

 

I could go on and on about McDowell, as many of you already know, but now I'd like to address the narration of this story by Alabama native Matt Godfrey. 

 

I just don't have the words to describe how McDowell's words, combined with Godfrey's narration, made me feel. Together, they made a great work even greater. Godfrey's voicing was so true to the source material it made the Caskey voices come alive. ALIVE, I say! I laughed out loud many times, and I cried a few times too.

 

I most especially adored his voicing of James and of Oscar. Don't get me wrong, I loved these characters back when I first read the books a few years ago; but with Matt's voice attached to them, they became larger than life. It was easy for me to recognize who was talking just by the inflections and changes of tone. I've never listened to an audio book where it was easier for me to identify who was who, just by how the narrator voiced them. I've listened to a lot of audios over the last few years, and that's never happened to me-at least not in a book with as many characters as Blackwater. That's why I say now, with no reservations, that this is the BEST audiobook I've ever read. PERIOD.

 

I hope that I've convinced you to give this audio a try by giving it my HIGHEST recommendation. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it if you do give it a go. 

 

You can get your copy here: Blackwater: The Complete Saga

 

*I received this audiobook free, from the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* **Further, I consider Matt Godfrey a friend, even thought we've never met, but this review IS my honest opinion.**

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-10-27 18:45
Blackwater: The Complete Saga by Michael McDowell, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Blackwater: The Complete Saga - Michael McDowell,Matt Godfrey

 

I just finished the audiobook of Blackwater and I'm crying. This is, without a doubt, the best audiobook I've ever read. 

It's going to take me a while to compose myself and write a review.

 

But, be assured-the audio of Blackwater gets ALL THE STARS!

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-09-23 12:01
Chinese Takeaway...
The Bonesetter's Daughter - Pik-Sen Lim,Amy Tan,Lorelei King

"The Bonesetter's Daughter" was my first foray into the work of Amy Tan and though the author's style is quite engaging, it struck me as something of a 'prawn cracker' novel. That is, it looked substantial, but melted during consumption, leaving a rather hollow sense of what might have been. Still, insights into the characters' experience of oriental culture, permeating their origins in rural China, but also conferring a heritage, tenaciously relevant in the modern United States, kept the story interesting.

 

The book focuses on the experiences of three women, connected by blood (daughter/mother/grandmother), but separated by generational expectations and the disparate influences of vastly different times and places. From pre-war China, through Hong Kong to contemporary San Francisco, the journey of the Liu maternal line is fraught and runs the risk of being forgotten, until Ruth is confronted by her mother's advancing dementia. Fortunately, Luling Liu had seen the signs earlier and committed her life-story to paper while her memory was relatively intact. Through this device, Ruth becomes the narrator of her mother's story and is able to review their relationship in the context of Luling's past. Moreover, Ruth learns about their mutual roots and is able to reconcile a tragic history with a more positive future, amid her mother's fading recollections of her own upbringing. 

 

The examination of significant events, which beset the elders and yet percolated through time to deposit consequences on the youngest is a familiar theme and given the similarities in their respective personalities, kept alive the dichotomy of the 'nature versus nurture' debate. Yet, by comparison, I found Ruth Lui to be the weak link, locked in a mundane present, in contrast to the steely Luling and her 'Precious Auntie', forged in harsh and often brutal circumstances. Perhaps inevitably, there is an additional curiosity value attached to the unfamiliar, but the tantalizing glimpses of the lives of Ruth’s relatives rescued the book from total blandness.

 

In a wider sense, there is also a perceptible nod to the experience of women, which has seen significant change in some cultures and spheres, but almost glacial evolution in others, most obviously, in this novel, in terms of familial responsibilities. Given the subject matter of course, there is also the possibility that the book may resonate differently between genders, but I don’t think it was necessarily written with solely women readers in mind. Certainly, the spotlight cast on dementia and the sense of loss for sufferers and loved ones alike, is a shared experience that packs a common punch.

 

On balance, for me, it was an OK read, which didn't chime with the gushing praise on the cover and promised more than it delivered, but we have another Amy Tan on the shelf and I will give that a go in due course.

 

 

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?