logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Relationships
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-13 18:32
Women’s fiction with a touch of the paranormal. A beautifully written feel-good story.
The Last Thing She Said - Rachel Walkley

I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I recently read and reviewed Rachel Walkley’s first novel The Women of Heachley Hall and enjoyed it so much that I had to check her second novel as soon as it became available. And I thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

This is the story of three sisters, twins Rebecca and Leia, as different as two sisters can be (or perhaps not), and younger sister Naomi. Their parents move to the US when the youngest sister is in her late teens and she refuses to go with them. Rebecca becomes her ersatz mother (Nancy, their mother, does not seem particularly close to any of them, although perhaps that is the sisters’ impression) and eventually Leia also moves to the US to work on her medical research.

The three sisters are gifted, although they all have trouble dealing with their gifts, which are very different. Rebecca gives up her career as a lawyer to take refuge at home, bringing up her children and looking after her husband and the house; Naomi, a talented flute player, loves to perform but does not feel confident and dedicates most of her life to teaching music to children; Leia has a big brain and dedicates her efforts to useful research, but hates the limelight and would prefer all the credit to go to her team. Their grandmother, the member of the family that managed to get them all together with her traditional birthday celebration, also had a gift, but most people dismissed her birthday predictions as an eccentricity. When Rebecca starts investigating her grandmother’s past pronouncements —for very personal reasons—, she gets a big surprise.

The story is told in the third person from different points of view, mostly those of the sisters, although we get some glimpses into other characters’ minds as well, and in chronological order for the most part. There are some short chapters that go back to show us past events (there are no lengthy explanations or “telling” in the novel), and these flow logically from the narrative. For example, if Naomi is thinking about the relationship with her parents, her memory might go back to how she had felt when her parents decided to leave the country. It is a great way of layering the background story of the characters without disrupting the action for too long, and it also helps us understand where the characters are coming from, and their reasons for being the people they are. Each chapter and fragment is clearly labelled with the character’s name and the date, and it is not an effort to follow the story, as it flows naturally, at a sometimes wandering but engaging pace.

There are some descriptions of places and locations, but these are limited to what is necessary to tell the story and to allow readers to see it. The story is more interested in the psychological makeup of these characters, and the author does a great work of making us understand them in their own terms. We see each protagonist from her sisters’ point of view first, but on later seeing things from their perspective, we get a completely different picture of them. By the end of the story I was attached to all of the characters, even the ones that at first I was not sure about. And although not all the characters are sympathetic, the novel is not judgmental about any of them, giving them the benefit of the doubt.

I particularly enjoyed the character of Rose, the grandmother, the passages about Naomi’s playing and her thoughts about it (if you read the author’s note at the end you’ll understand why these scenes appear so vivid), and grew very fond of Leia and Howard. That is not to say I don’t like Rebecca and the rest of the chapters from Naomi’s perspective, but perhaps because they are the ones we get to know first, we are on their side from the beginning, and the rest of the characters came as a revelation much later on. There are secrets and lies, but none are Earth-shattering or beyond most reader’s expectations and experiences, and they do not require a huge amount of suspension of disbelief, even the paranormal elements. There is mystery, but the strongest element of the story is the relationship between the three sisters and how they all become more their individual selves by working together and protecting each other.

The novel is both easy to read and beautifully written, and the ending… No, I won’t give you details, but let’s say I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did. Definitely a feel-good story.

A book I recommend to anybody who enjoys contemporary women’s fiction, optimistic stories about family relationships with a touch of the paranormal, and who are eager to discover a new and talented writer.   

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-13 00:02
Which would you choose: Mortal or magic?
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vol. 1 - Jack Morelli,Robert Hack,Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vol. 1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa came onto my radar because I saw the super edgy trailer for the Netflix show and of course I felt I needed to at least read the first volume (containing the first 6 issues) before I started in on the show. :-P [A/N: For those unaware, this alternate reality version of Sabrina exists in the same realm as Archie and his pals over in Riverdale and you can keep your eyes peeled for my review of that too.] This is a comic book series that takes the familiar character of Sabrina Spellman (Remember that cute show about witchy magic with that super sarcastic talking cat named Salem?) and turns it onto its head. This is Dark Stuff and trust me the capitalization is warranted. The story starts out with Sabrina's parents, Warlock Dad and Mortal Mom, who disagree on how to raise their newborn daughter. According to coven law, Sabrina should be blessed by Satan so that when she comes of age she can formally sign Satan's book and give her soul over to him. (Did I mention this was dark?) These parental disagreements result in the mother being driven insane and Sabrina being entrusted to her witchy aunts to be raised 'properly'. So now Sabrina walks in two worlds (witch at home and mortal at school) and by the time she is 16 (present day in the comics where it's the 1960s) she is thoroughly confused about where she fits in which is par for the course with most teenagers if we're completely honest. Gore, violence, Satanism, cannibalism, necromancy, first love...your standard high school experience. The artwork was unlike anything I'd ever consumed in a comic or graphic novel medium before with bold colors and almost grotesque characterizations. I dug it. Horror fans and those that like re-imaginings of familiar tales will enjoy the world that Aguirre-Sacasa has crafted immensely. Yes, it's Dark Stuff but it's also boldly imaginative and well-formed. He's not only crafted this but another series called Afterlife with Archie (not to mention the tv series Riverdale). This is an author to watch! 10/10

 

PS Salem the cat is in this version as well!

 

PPS I started the series and I'm digging that too!

 

Not too spoiler-y since it's from the beginning. [Source: The Mary Sue]

 

What's Up Next: Star Trek Destiny #2: Mere Mortals by David Mack

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond and The Science of Supervillains by Lois H. Gresh & Robert Weinberg

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-11-27 21:36
Fun from start to finish
Mary B: An untold story of Pride and Prejudice - Katherine K. Chen

I'm fairly sure that I've mentioned before that there are two books that I reread every single year and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of them. So it was kind of a no-brainer that I picked up Mary B. by Katherine J. Chen as it follows that story (with a little before and after) from the perspective of the middle daughter, Mary. The book focuses on what the author calls the 'forgotten Bennet sister' and follows her personal evolution beginning from her childhood and giving readers a glimpse into what happened with the Bennet, Bingley, and Darcy families after the last page of Pride and Prejudice was turned. This book was a surprise for me in a lot of ways. Firstly, I loved it. I felt like I was reading a trashy romance novel that had gotten mixed together with the classic book of the early 18th century. While I agree that it's a bit out-of-the-box in terms of what certain characters would and wouldn't do I didn't care in the least if someone did or said something 'out of character'. I knew going in that this was Chen's vision and it was bound to be different from Austen's. Secondly, this book was entertaining from start to finish and had me giggling uncontrollably at all of the spicy content. (This book is so spicy, ya'll.) Turns out Mary is headstrong, outspoken, non-traditional, and dare I say the most intelligent Bennet sister.  This book is a love letter to anyone who ever felt like they didn't belong or maybe wasn't enough. YOU ARE. If Mary can buck tradition and kick some major butt in the process then you can too. Also, it's clear Chen had a bee in her bonnet about how Mary was treated and overlooked in terms of character development by Austen in the original book. She certainly took care of that with Mary B.. 10/10

 

A/N: I'm not generally a fan of romance novels but there's something about the world that Austen crafted that makes me especially susceptible. I take comfort in the fact that I'm definitely not alone if her books are still being re-imagined. :-P

 

What's Up Next: The Ghost in the Mirror by John Bellairs & completed by Brad Strickland

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-11-26 19:40
Historical figures: Awesome ladies edition
Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation - Cokie Roberts

This book was just what was needed to pull me out of a reading slump. Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts is an account of the women who supported and helped shape the development of the democratic government in the United States. While I initially thought that this would yield minimal new information considering how heavily this period of time was covered during my schooldays I discovered just how wrong (and ignorant) I was especially in regards to the women. I realized that it had never occurred to me to wonder just how long the absences of these women's husbands were during the creation of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution (including the Articles of the Confederation), and the U.S. government as a whole. Not to mention how absolutely strong-willed and informed these women were about the affairs of state (which was beneficial as they passed on the latest news to their husbands through extensive letter writing). Best couple award goes to George and Martha Washington who were the most well-adjusted and steadfast couple of the lot. Martha went everywhere George went including Valley Forge where she was instrumental in keeping the morale of the men up (and getting them to stay at all) as well as organizing other women into organized sewing groups to keep the troops clothed. Favorite woman of the many discussed was hands down Abigail Adams who not only had the keenest mind but also the sharpest tongue. She had no problem telling John where to go and letting him know that just because he was away didn't mean that the romance in their relationship needed to suffer. In fact, theirs was the most strained relationship of all as John was in high demand and for the majority of their marriage they were separated as he worked tirelessly in his work as a member of the Continental Congress and then later as the Vice President. If you, like me, love reading about confident women and relish learning new things about a slice of history you thought you had thoroughly mapped then I must point you in the direction of Founding Mothers. 10/10

 

PS Benjamin Franklin was the worst.

 

What's Up Next: Mary B. by Katherine J. Chen

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-11-20 14:37
Domestic noir, dark humour, and a fantastic new voice
My Sister, the Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite

Thanks to NetGalley and to Atlantic Books (Doubleday) for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

The title of this book hooked me. The fact that it was set in Lagos, Nigeria, made it more attractive. I could not resist the cover. And then I started reading and got hit by this first paragraph:

“Ayoola summons me with these words —Korede, I killed him. I had hoped I would never hear those words again.”

Told in the first person by Korede, the book narrates her story and that of her “complex” relationship with her younger sister, Ayoola, beautiful, graceful, a successful designer, beloved of social media, irresistible to men, the favourite of everybody… She’s almost perfect. But, there is a big but, which you will have guessed from the title. She is a serial killer.

This is a short and very funny book, although it requires a certain kind of sense of humour on the part of the reader. You need to be able to appreciate sarcasm and dark humour (very dark) to find it funny, but if you do, this is a fresh voice and a different take on what has become an extremely popular genre recently, domestic noir. I kept thinking about the many novels I had read where I had commented on the setting of the book and how well the author had captured it. There are no lengthy descriptions in this novel, but it manages to capture the beat and the rhythm of Lagos (a place where I’ve never been, I must admit) and makes us appreciate what life must be like for the protagonists. Because, although Ayoola is a murderer, life goes on, and Korede has to keep working as a nurse, she is still in love (or so she thinks) with one of the doctors at the hospital, their mother still suffers from her headaches, Ayoola wants to carry on posting on Snapchat, the patient in coma Korede confides in needs to be looked after, the police need to be seen to be doing something, and there are more men keen on spending time with beautiful Ayoola…

I found Korede understandable, although I doubt that we are meant to empathise with her full-heartedly. At some points, she seems to be a victim, trapped in a situation she has no control over. At others, we realise that we only have her own opinion of her sister’s behaviour, and she has enabled the murderous activities of her sibling, in a strange symbiotic relationship where neither one of them can imagine life without the other. We learn of their traumatic past, and we can’t help but wonder what would we do faced with such a situation? If your sister was a psychopath (not a real psychiatric diagnosis, but I’m sure she’d score quite high in the psychopathy scale if her sister’s description is accurate) who kept getting into trouble, always blaming it on others, would you believe her and support her? Would you help her hide her crimes? Is blood stronger than everything else?

I loved the setting, the wonderful little scenes (like when Tade, the attractive doctor, sings and the whole city stops to listen, or when the police take away Korede’s car to submit it to forensic testing and then make her pay to return it to her, all dirty and in disarray), the voice of the narrator and her approach to things (very matter-of-fact, fully acknowledging her weaknesses, her less-than-endearing personality, sometimes lacking in insight  but also caring and reflective at times), and the ending as well. I also enjoyed the writing style. Short chapters, peppered with Yoruba terms, vivid and engaging, it flows well and it makes it feel even briefer than it is.

If you enjoy books with a strong sense of morality and providing deep lessons, this novel is not for you. Good and bad are not black and white in this novel, and there is an undercurrent of flippancy about the subject that might appeal to fans of Dexter more than to those who love conventional thrillers or mysteries. But if you want to discover a fresh new voice, love black humour, and are looking for an unusual setting, give it a go. I challenge you to check a sample and see…

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?