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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 2017-11-22 20:02
Review: My Sister's Secret
My Sister's Secret - Tracy Buchanan

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

I came across this book whilst browsing Netgalley looking for something different to read. The synopsis caught my attention, and if I was flipping through channels and this was a movie I would have watched it.

 

I can’t say I found it particularly gripping or emotional. By half way through I was bored with the plot. I’m usually wary of books that claim things like “the most emotional gripping thing you will ever read!” (or along those lines) in a title headline. It’s always seemed unnecessary to me. Let the novel stand on its own and let the readers judge. Don’t bombard the title lines with crap like that. It’s annoying! (Certainly is to me, anyway). I don’t remember seeing that bit when I initially requested the title).

 

The story focuses on a then and now method of telling. There were initially three sisters, Hope, Charity and Faith who lived in a small English village by the sea, where they hung out with their mate Niall. In their late teens Faith is tragically killed in an accident, Niall the guilty driver. In 2016 Charity’s daughter Willow has returned to the cottage where Charity lived with Hope looking for some answers about her mother’s past. Charity had an interest in diving looking for underwater forests. So does her daughter. Aunt Hope is stingy with information and comes off as quite cold. Charity is deceased as well now and Willow has mostly been raised by Aunt Hope. Clearing out the cottage Willow finds some things about Niall and Charity and sets off to find out more, especially since Niall is now a big name in underwater forest diving and photography.

 

The then chapters tell the story taking place in the late 1980s of when Charity and Hope are living together running a little café in the same town they’ve always lived in. Charity still wants to do her diving, but it’s more a hobby these days, she’s a social worker whilst Hope is a budding poet/writer. The town is captivated by dazzling rich new comers David and Lana when Charity inadvertently winds up rescuing Lana from a car accident. Getting to know the couple, Niall winds up coming back into the picture and before long sparks are flying.

 

The novel flips between the stories of Charity and Niall, David, Lana and Hope in the past, whilst in the presence Willow is following in Charity’s footsteps going along what appears to be the same route Charity took in her youth.  There seemed to be a lot more going on in Charity’s storyline. She’s developing strong feelings for Niall which brings up a mess of emotion due to Faith’s tragic accident, which is Hope is furious about. Then there’s David, there’s intense chemistry between them, not helped by ditzy Lana who’s a total lush by this point with her own problems.

 

I did find the plot got a little repetitive. It’s the same troubling feelings for Charity over and over. I can understand where she’s coming from. Some of the little twists in Willow’s chapters are trying to be deep and emotional, and again I can understand why but there was just something missing for me. To be fair the twist at the end revolving around some secrets before and after Faith died were quite a surprise I didn’t see coming. One character was considerably more twisted than they appeared.

 

There was an awful lot of it about underwater forests and diving which kind of made my eyes gloss over a bit. Though there was some interesting info in the author’s note for those interested in looking into more about the subject.  I did like the sense of family and togetherness between Charity and her sister Hope, and later on echoed in the relationship between Willow and Hope. Though there was just something kind of “meh” about the whole thing for me.

 

It wasn’t really a bad book, just not my taste in the end, I guess.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for granting my wish to view the title.

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review 2017-11-21 08:48
DNF: The Mirror Sisters
The Mirror Sisters - V.C. Andrews

No stars.

 

Possibly one of the worst books I've read from the VC Andrews ghost writer. 22% in and the thought of anymore makes me want to cringe. It's about identical twins. All I'm getting is how identical and how special they are. And I'm fed up already. The mother is an overbearing bitch who wants her super speshul twins to be identical in every way down to thoughts. She's not allowing them to play with other children because they might disrupt the twin's special identicalness. It's the same thing over and over and over. It's ridiculous and I can't stomach any more of this book.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Gallery Threshold, Pocket Books for the chance to view the title.

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review 2017-11-21 04:44
Juliet's Answer
Juliet's Answer: One Man's Search for Love and the Elusive Cure for Heartbreak - Glenn Dixon

I found the premise of this book engaging—a High School English teacher from Canada takes a journey to heal his broken heart to a place famous for its literary romantic roots. But Dixon's real-life story of unrequited love did not feel genuine to me; the friendship so far from a romance that it almost seemed invented for the sake of the story. While I especially loved the idea that there are people who write letters from Juliet, I wondered why they would let someone so inept in a relationship offer advice to anyone. In contrast, the other letter writers seemed so thoughtful and sincere, their carefully crafted notes proved they were really just sounding boards for the letter writer, while Dixon seemed to revel in his own awkward responses. I kept thinking I would be disappointed if I took the time to write a letter and got a response back from him. The classroom scenes that are interspersed with the ones set in Italy follow the arc of Dixon's tale too neatly; honestly, I would have preferred the entire story told in Italy, since the people Dixon meets are lively and fun, and far more interesting than the bland woman he is pining for back home. His description of Verona, though, is terrific, the city came alive for me and truly made me want to experience it myself.

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review 2017-11-14 18:51
Review: "Necropolis" (Whyborne & Griffin, #4) by Jordan L. Hawk
Necropolis - Jordan L. Hawk

 

~ 4.5 stars ~

 

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