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review 2020-06-16 11:27
Will leave you with a smile
The Lake Never Tells - Alex Tully

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team, and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

This is the first of Tully’s books I’ve read, although it is the third novel she has published, and in the ‘About the author’ section of her page and her books she describes her stories as ‘feel good’ stories, and she states that she hopes ‘readers will smile after turning the last page’. Well, hope accomplished, as far as I’m concerned.

The book description provides enough clues as to the general plot of the story. This is the story of a summer that changed the lives of the young characters at the centre of the story. Two of them, Zoe and Parker, live in a trailer park at the shore of a lake, just a stone’s throw from a posh resort ‘Crystal Waters’. They both have unconventional families (Parker lost his mother in tragic circumstances, never met his father, and lives with his grandmother, who is the strict but fair and wonderful Shirley; while Zoe lives with her single Mom, Debbie, who refuses to take responsibility for anybody, even herself, and acts much younger than her years). Zoe’s best friend, Meredith, the daughter of the local sheriff, can be pushy and harsh at times, but she is also funny and amusing, and always has Zoe’s back. Ethan, a young boy from the posh side of the divide who has come for the summer, somewhat stumbles into their group dragging his own problems with him. Although his life and circumstances might seem charmed from the outside, his parents’ relationship is a sham, and he suffered a traumatic event one year ago that he has not fully recovered from. It has changed him and turned him into somebody quite different. As the novel advances, we come to realise that Ethan’s change might have been for the better, even if that is not so evident for him at the beginning of the story. The novel fits well into the YA genre, and although the characters are put to the test and have to confront some harsh truths about themselves and others, these are not extreme, brutal or too challenging, and I think the book would be suited to fairly young teens as well, although I’d recommend parents to check it out because there are mentions of drugs, mental health difficulties, a suspicious death, a suggestion of sexual harassment, as well as divorce and drinking.

I liked the way the story is told. It starts with a hook, as we follow Parker on the 5th of July when he makes a shocking discovery, and then we go back a few weeks, to learn more about the characters and how they came to this point. The story is told in the third person, but from the points of view of the three main protagonists, Zoe, Parker, and Ethan, and their emotions and thoughts feel suitable to their ages (Parker is only 11, and he behaves appropriately to his age) and to their circumstances. I also liked the way we get and insight into Ethan’s disturbing thoughts and the way he tries to deal with them. We don’t learn what happened to him until quite late in the story, but by that time we’ve got to know him as he is now, and we can empathise with him even more. The way he and Zoe behave with Parker, as if he were their younger brother, is heart-warming.

I liked Zoe, because she is strong and determined, and I liked the way Meredith can be annoying but also amusing and supportive, and she usually helps lighten up the atmosphere. Shirley is a great character, although like all the adult characters, she does not play as big a part in the story as the young people.

The element of mystery is well resolved and integrated into the story, and I particularly enjoyed the fact that this is not a story of amateur detectives that can find answers and clues the police have missed, pushing the suspension of disbelief, but one where the characters are involved in the story because this is a small community and people’s lives become easily entangled. I also enjoyed the red herrings, twists, and revelations, and the resolution of the plot is very satisfying and hopeful.

The writing is simple and straight forward, without unnecessarily lengthy descriptions, but the author still manages to create a good sense of place and, especially, of the feeling of friendship and affection between the protagonists.

I cannot highlight any major negatives for me. Readers who are looking for diverse characters might not find them here (there are major differences in social class, and this is something the book focuses on, and one of the characters suffers from mental health issues, but no issues of genre, or race are discussed), and although I enjoyed the ending, the fact that the author decides to share the same scene from the point of view of the three main characters in succession results in some minor unavoidable repetitions. This slows down the ending a bit, but it wasn’t something that bothered me in particular. Each chapter is told from a single point of view (apart from the final one), and it is clearly labelled, so that does not cause confusion. I also missed some more interaction between Ethan and his twin sister, who hardly makes an appearance during the book. Ethan thinks about her at times, but she does not have a presence, and she is the only one of the younger characters I didn’t feel I had got to know. Even Heather, one of the cabana girls working with Zoe, has a bigger part than her. Other than that, the book flows well and is fairly cohesive, although the action speeds up towards the end, as is usually the case with mysteries.

I recommend this book to people who enjoy YA fiction, especially, as the author says, ‘feel-good’ fiction, where some important subjects are discussed but in a sensitive rather than a challenging manner. It is an ode to friendship and hope, and it feels particularly suited to the times we’re living. And it will leave readers with a smile. 

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review 2020-05-03 19:13
Review: Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
Darling Rose Gold - Stephanie Wrobel

Now this is the kind of debut novel I have been wanting to read lately! It seems that a lot of the books I've read have been hit or miss. Either very good or very bad. But this was absolutely wonderful! It made me deeply uncomfortable, which was the point. I compare it to watching a slow motion car crash, you know that only bad things are coming but you can't bear to look away either.

 

I truly love a book that has a flawed narrator, not being able to fully trust the story they are telling you adds an interesting element to the story. But what happens when you can't trust any of the narrators? That makes for a fascinating story.

 

Reading Patty's narration was sort of like rolling around in mud. It sticks to you and makes you feel gross. Even though you tried to shower it all away, there's still the odd smudge of grossness here or there that makes you feel disgusting all over again when you discover it. You know that she isn't telling the truth. You know in your heart that she did all the horrible things that Rose Gold says she did. Part of you really wants to see her punished for it. As a mother, I was thoroughly rooting for her demise.

 

Then we have Rose Gold. Her anger and need for revenge is entirely justified. She found out that her mother permanently ruined her life. Her teeth are rotting out of her head, everyone knows too many details about her childhood, and she will forever be the girl that her mother created. I really rooted for her, but as the book went on I found it harder and harder to do that. More and more she was reminding me of her mother instead of her mother's victim.

 

I did not see the ending coming. Parts of it yes, but the thorough depravity of it surprised me. And it was wonderful to see how all the pieces played out. But this is also where the book lost a star for her. I found it hard to believe that the police would buy that Patty had forced Rose Gold to take a specific action a full month before she got released from prison. Surely they would have been ever slightly suspicious of the timing on that right? But apart from that, it was a wonderful book. I will be keeping an eye out for this author in the future.

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review 2020-04-08 01:58
Sweet Chaos (Love and Chaos, #2) - Emery Rose

This was an awesome read for us and we loved it from beginning to end and everything in between.


This story was heart felt and emotional and one of those slow burn romance reads with and older guy in lovelust with a younger women but, with one major complication he used to be in love with his sister or thought he was .


We loved Dylan already from Wilder Love with his sister Remy the man was just a boy and one that was so strong and determined and so broken but, no matter what age he was and no matter what he had to do he would do anything to see what he considered his was provided for and taken care of.I loved the growth we saw from Dylan this time around although still broken in a lot of ways he made some of his dreams come true and was becoming a little less broken every time he spent with Scarlett.


Scarlett was the rebel of her family and planned to live her life on her own terms.We found Scarlett to be strong ,independent,beautiful on the inside as well as out but, her one weakness was never putting herself first.We loved how she always believed in Dylan when others never did all they saw was a punk from the wrong side of the tracks what Scarlett saw was what was below the surface the good along with the bad.


The chemistry between Dylan and Scarlett was scorching.These two who came from totally different backgrounds fit perfectly together. I loved the story and how this couples journey was wrought with tons of things stacked against them but, Dylan was determined to beat the odds and claim the one thing that would complete his own happiness. I loved the broken bad boy he made my heart just melt when it came to loving and taking care of the people he loved most in this world. Dylan with little Kai melted my heart each and every time and had me wishing that Dylan would someday have everything that his twin sister had because he deserved it for all the sacrifices he made in life in the sake of family.


This was one heart felt tale that tugged at ones heart strings but, also was one of hope ,healing,forgiveness and family.


"we absolutely loved it"


This is a fairly new author too us but, the books that we have ready by her have been both amazing and we are looking forward to seeing what this author creates for us.


"This one goes into the keeper pile!"

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review 2020-04-08 01:36
Screw (Hell's Handlers MC #8; No Prisoners MC) - Lilly Atlas

What and awesome story this was as it was so emotional that it brought me to tears.The love triangle was awesome we loved the characters all of them broken in some way yet, perfect for their poly-relationship giving the men the best of both worlds and Jazz she got something that she was needing from both of them that lend-ed to her healing.

I always loved Jazz she was already and interesting character but, once reading her story my heart just broke for everything she endured and not knowing how she survived it all emotionally. Props to Jazz for being so strong as she was always strong and beautiful and we loved that the men in her life saw that and no matter the horror that scars left on the inside as well as out.

Screw was one messed up dude emotional scarred and scared and once threatened emotionally in anyway he struck out against those in the only way he new to defend himself.We loved the broken man to pieces as we saw through all his bs but, with Jazz in his life as well as Gumby he too was healing as both had something to give him that no just one person could provide what he needed physically as well as emotionally.What we loved most about Screw was how open he was with his own sexuality and his f***-off attitude he had for others who didn't approve but, we loved that his brothers couldn't care less and even teased him about his conquests but, for Jazz things were working to her advantage as she had feelings for to men and was unable to choose between them.

Gumby was a love-able character just like the rest of them but, between the three he was the most emotionally scarred and his hangups could be his undoing you understand why this man feels the way he does considering his upbringing but, unless he deals with his personal demons he might lose the loves of his life.My heart went out to this man time and time again but, I wanted to smack him more often than not to wake up and see whats right it front of you before its to late.

Overall we loved it and we would could go on and on for sometime telling you about all the things we loved about this story it was just that amazing!Lilly never disappoints us and she makes it so easy for us to fall in love with her characters and even though we love the characters of this entire series and my heart broke and melted for Jigsaw and Izzy's story but, Screw & Jazzy & Gumby's story moved into the top number one spot for my favorite in this series .We loved that the No Prisoners MC and its character's graced the pages of this current tale as we love those guys as well and that Ms. Atlas created a bit of a dilemma with Gumby belonging to another MC but, lucky for us they are one cool club and love nothing more then seeing their brothers find the love and happiness they all deserve.

Final thoughts we be that this tri worked for all parties involved and if push came to shove and a decision to choose could have between made but, in the long run something would always be missing from ones life to make that one person truly happy and fulfilled in all ways possible.This author has done it yet again!What and amazing emotional tale with a whole lot of complications and more than a few twists and turns along the way.For us we think each and every time this author puts a pen to page her stories just get better and better and each and every time manages to bring me to tears.

This story and its character's will not be easily forgotten and we can tell you right now this one will be a constant re-read we have in our library.

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review 2020-01-31 18:22
If only there had been a plot...
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub - Stanisław Lem,Christine Rose

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub caught my eye simply for the novelty of the title and that bizarre cover. This book is difficult to sum up or even to rate as it truly has no discernible plot. Lest you dismiss it immediately because of this fact, let me assure you that there's much to recommend this title. The word play and circuitous path of our main character (who remains nameless) is satire at its finest. Espionage, counterespionage, and counter-counterespionage abound in The Building where our character has been given a very important Mission...if only he knew what it was. He is continually beset by obstacles in the form of bureaucrats, winding halls with nondescript doors, and instructions that keep vanishing. What would happen if humanity was forced to abandon its cities and move into an underground bunker? Would society, culture, and technology survive and continue to advance?  Lem weaves a provocative tale of paranoia, confusion, and ultimately betrayal. 5/10 but would have been higher had there been a plot to follow. 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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