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review 2017-11-22 22:01
Review: The Roanoke Girls
The Roanoke Girls: A Novel - Amy Engel

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I snagged a copy of this one when it was a read it now for the first 100 members. It promised some of my favourite tropes in novels – rich family, idyllic setting, dark twisty secrets.  This book has one of those annoying boats in the title tag line saying the most dark twisty shocking plot! However, this one did deliver on the dark twist.

 

My biggest issue with this (side from the really nauseating disturbingness of the plot twists) is that it was predictable. I’d guessed the Roanoke family secrets almost immediately. Anyone who’s ever seen Law and Order: Special Victims Unit could probably guess what’s going on here. I also guessed correctly who the killer was.

 

That being said, there was something utterly compelling about the story telling. I really liked Lane, the main character. Told in a then and now format, what happened when Lane was a teenager and went to live with the Roanokes after her mother committed suicide. Her grandparents and her cousin the same age as her Allegra. And the now chapters of what happens when Lane goes back as an adult after Allegra disappears.

 

Lane was by no mean a good, nice person. Not as a teen, nor as an adult. She was a flat out bitch, she was blunt and cold and didn’t even bother to hide the fact that sometimes it was easier to be cruel than to be kind. Despite her personality flaws, she made a very interesting character, and I kind of loved her. While her cousin Allegra was your typical spoilt rich girl. She could manipulate people easily, and wrap boys around her finger. She could convince you to do anything, regardless of consequences. She had a certain charisma about herself, despite the fact Allegra could be stroppy selfish and childish. She tells Lane about the sordid history of the Roanoke girls before them. All the girls in their family line - including both their mothers  - all got pregnant young and either ran away or committed suicide.

 

The Roanoke household is a big mansion and a farm run by its patriarch Yates Roanoke Lane and Allegra’s grandfather. He has an old world charm about him. Firm when needed without being overbearing, yet very witty, charming and always with a kind word and encouragement, while grandma is your typical blue blood grandma. Beautiful but cold and kind of passive.

 

In the summer in their teens Lane learns about farm life and meets Allegra’s current boyfriend Tommy, and his best friend Cooper. Tommy is your average small town good boy from a nice family while Cooper is the good looking dude with the shady family and bad history, he and Lane hit it off immediately and begin a relationship, more hooking up when they can than anything else.  

 

When Lane comes back to town as an adult she reconnects with Tommy, now married and a police office and Cooper, now a mechanic. The Roanoke house is still the same as it was when Lane ran away in her teens. With one exception. Allegra is gone. Lane searches for answers to what happened to her. Flipping back and forth between what happened that summer when she arrived and her investigation on return.

 

Also flittered into the novel is chapters on various Roanoke women and what happened to them either when they ran or when they died.

 

The writing is top notch, even though none of the characters are particularly likeable. The story telling makes you want to know what’s going on, what happened back in that summer, why did Lane run away, what did she learn about the Roanoke secrets. And when she comes back what happened to Allegra. Did she finally leave – was she murdered? What happened? It’s twisty and very disturbing in parts. The answers to the Roanoke secrets are actually in the text if you look between the lines. And it is sick. It’s stomach wrenching and utterly utterly wrong in very way possible.

 

It’s a pretty fucked up book but it’s excellently written.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the review copy.

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review 2017-11-18 16:09
Too much Jargon plus a rape plot.
Mars Girls - Mary A. Turzillo

I got this book from Apex via their Apex Minions program in trade for an honest review

Diversity: Kapera is black as is her parents. There are a few side character that are Asian? Maybe. It's hard to tell their true culture as the author seems to have mashed this culture with that culture.

The first thing that put me off to this book is the piles of jargon they dump on you. We have hab-rat, mears, cuys, kweez and a ton others. While there is some explanation for some of them, you forget it by the time the next one has come up.

Another thing that majorly put me off was the rape part later on in the book. It's basically "we have to rape you to repopulate stuff". This is due to the Facer religion who have "face bindis" on their heads. Not sure if it's cultural appropriation however it made me face palm. A face bindi is a tiny face on the head that usually shows the true emotions of the wearer.
So these Facers basically want to go back to Earth and start some colony or something, I was confused about where they were going but it was going to take 100 years to get there.

So of course Nanoannie, one of our heroes, has to be forcibly married to someone so he can rape her and she can get pregnant. Fortunately she's married to a guy that doesn't have an interest in her as she has no interest in him. However it implies both with the men leering at the unwilling women in the church and later with just mentioning the other women, that they are raped.
I should mention that Nanoannie is around 14 years old. Yeah.

Next is Kapera. She has leukemia so a good portion of the book she is unconscious. The only black character with a major speaking part is devoiced for a good portion of the book. I rally can't recall why she's important to the book other than having a micro disc and her relationship to her parents who are the research scientists.
She's also not "African" but the jargon term "Kiafrican" which is not explained how that came about.

Overall I'm not really sure what the major plot is as the duo is kidnapped and escapes capture many times.  It really isn't until the middle of the book the plot seems to appear. Given the many names and corporation name drops it's really hard to follow who is with who.

What really killed any final interest in this is when Nanoannie has Kapera wrist-com and types out in bad phoneticish words. It was hard to read, and with the "hic" when she has hiccups in the cuy ball every line,I just stopped caring.

It doesn't really strongly establish it's characters from the start so trying to remember what's going on is hard. It also like to borrow and mash up different cultures and has a good portion that is a rape plot.

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review 2017-11-18 12:35
The IT Girls
The It Girls - Karen Harper
Sisters, Lucy and Elinor Sutherland grew up on the sleepy island of Jersey.  They were insatiably curious and had large ambitions; ambitions far bigger than the island.  Upon meeting the notorious Lillie Langtry one day in their youth, the sisters decide that they will one day become much more.  Through time, hard work and dedication, the two women eventually do realize their dreams. Lucy transforms into Lady Lucille Duff-Gordon fashion designer and entrepreneur extraordinaire.  Elinor becomes Elinor Glyn, scandalous romance writer whose books went onto the big screen.  Both Lucy and Elinor became the 'It' girls of their day; however, while both women excelled in their career goals, their dream came at a price in other areas of their life.

Elinor and Lucy quickly pulled me into their world of daring, creativity and determination.  I was amazed at what these two women accomplished in their lives, especially for women living in the early 1900's.  The story follows Lucy and Elinor from their youth through later life bouncing back and forth between the two women.  The writing showed the 'it' factor of each woman without laying it out.  Lucy had amazing grit while opening up her own fashion enterprise and ingenuity enough to make change in the fashion world.  Even though I knew of Lucille Duff-Gordon, mainly through her voyage on the Titanic, I never knew of her impacts on the fashion world and how they are carried through to the present.  Lucille was the first to use live models and do runway presentations,  she also led the way to get women out of corsets and into more natural silhouettes.  I did not know much about Elinor Glyn, but it seemed that her style of romance writing had an impact on many people.  It also seemed that she made an impact on Hollywood romance as well!  While the sister's careers and social standings skyrocketed, I was surprised to see that their personal and family lives took a toll.  Both women struggled in marriage and didn't seem to have strong relationships with their children, often living in separate countries.  This imbalance, to me, was a strong commentary on the lives of women at the time, showing that even successful, strong women had to choose either career or family.  Overall, a wonderful portrait of two strong, important women in history.  

This book was provided for free in return for an honest review. 

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review 2017-11-05 22:53
Pretty Girls
Pretty Girls - Karin Slaughter,Kathleen Early

 

 

I almost knocked this down to two stars because of some fairly graphic depictions of sadistic torture and the implausibility of certain nefarious goings-on that involved a wide-ranging conspiracy of well-connected people being involved in something very disturbing and complicit in covering that thing up.

 

However--I kept wanting to move forward to find out how the story resolved, and I cared about the main characters.  Proceed with caution, though, especially if the first part of my opening sentence sounds like something you feel you need to avoid.

 

More than 20 years before, a 19-year-old college student named Julia Carroll disappeared.  Her case was never solved, and local law enforcement seemed to be satisfied with the assumption that she left of her own accord, to quietly begin a life in some other part of the world, without notifying her parents, sisters, or friends.

 

Julia's disappearance shattered her family.  Her father Sam became entirely focused on solving the case, while her mother Helen moved between checking out altogether and deciding that moving on was the only way to fulfill the needs of their surviving daughters, Lydia and Claire.  Lydia drifted into drug addiction, while Claire became a people pleaser, focused on being popular but not standing out too much.  Lydia has been estranged from Helen and Claire since she made an accusation about Claire's then-boyfriend (later husband), Paul Scott.

 

As the book opens, Claire has just had removed the ankle monitor she has had to wear following an assault charge and plea bargain.  She and Paul, a ridiculously successful architect, are meeting in a bar to celebrate, but after he is uncharacteristically late, they are attacked in an alley, where he has exhibited unfamiliar behavior, and they experience an attack that leaves Paul dying as Claire watches helplessly.

 

Soon after the incident, Claire begins to discover clues that Paul had another side she'd been unaware of, and which aligns with Lydia's accusations years before.  As she begins to rethink everything she thought she knew, she contacts Lydia, who has a teenage daughter of her own, and has turned her life around since her drug-using days.  Neither is initially sure they can trust the other, but soon their sibling loyalty is reestablished. 

 

What might Julia's disappearance have to do with the recent disappearance of 16-year-old Anna Kilpatrick?  Are there clues to be found in the journals that Sam Carroll left behind?  What secrets about Paul will the sisters uncover?

 

As suggested above, this book had me hooked on finding out what happens.  Although I started with the audiobook, I ended up switching to the Kindle version to progress faster.  I will say there is a twist I didn't see coming, and then I almost smacked myself on the head, because I've read enough thrillers where that kind of twist occurs.  But I won't say anything further about that (working to keep this spoiler-free).

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review 2017-10-27 04:14
Changed my mind on who my Favorite character was!!!!!
Girls Made of Snow and Glass - Melissa Bashardoust

While I still really love Lynet, my absolute favorite character has to be the Huntsmen. I really loved his and Mina, as well as Lynet's and his relationship. I also love that he seemed so alive, and he believed in Mina even when she didn't deserve it.

I also started to warm up to Nadia and Lynet's relationship, even though Nadia does something that if I was Lynet I don't know if I could have forgave her. I also really loved the very complicated relationship of Lynet and Mina. Those two had so much in common, but yet they were both so very different. 

I really didn't like either of their dads, especially Gregory, the way he was to Mina, and to me he was so cray, cray!!!!!  I did love how the book ended, and the outcome of the relationship of Lynet and Mina. While there wasn't much action and adventure in the book, I still enjoyed the world building and getting to know the different characters. 

I am so glad I was given the chance to read this book by the way of NetGalley, after I requested to read and review it. I really enjoyed reading this book and I would read the book again, as well as recommended it to my friends and families.

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