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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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text 2017-02-27 07:01
Reading progress update: I've read 75%.
The Secret Sister - Brenda Novak

Started out slowly and took a while to get to the plot. But it's really taking off right now. So I can't wait to see how this book ends. I really love the love interest Rafe a whole lot. I will do a review when I finish the book. 

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review 2016-07-01 01:08
Review: The Secret Sister (Fairham Island #1) by Brenda Novak
The Secret Sister - Brenda Novak

Initial reaction: Leave it to Brenda Novak to keep me up during a late night glued to one of her stories. "The Secret Sister" falls quite firmly in the romantic suspense category - revolving around a family with many complications in their relationships and a mystery that threatens to tear them apart for purported events. I found myself drawn into the carefully developed characters and the overarching mystery, though I'll admit I was still left with questions that were either loosely expounded upon or had some flaws in the progression to where they weren't entirely answered. It still came across as a solid read for me - 4 stars.

Full review:

"The Secret Sister" had my attention from the very beginning on the strength of its premise. Maisey returns home after a series of horrible events in her life, but returning home isn't exactly a welcome homecoming. Considering her family history, it's little wonder. Her brother Keith is a recovering -on again, off again - drug addict. Her father had passed away many years ago, and her mother, Josephine, is a controlling matriarch who will use every bit of her money and power (a given with the family name and presence in the community) to undermine those who cross her, including Maisey.

Maisey finds a bit of refuge with Rafe and his 5-year-old daughter Laney. Maisey has a bit of awkward history with Rafe, but their chemistry is very strong and believable in its alternating waves of push and pull. When Rafe finds a hidden box in a wall of what he thinks are Maisey's baby pictures, it starts a tense mystery and huge rift in the family as secrets and doubts float to the surface. Maisey's determined to get to the bottom of events, and she meets some notable resistance in her journey to do that.

I definitely liked the focus on the strong characters in this narrative. It cycles between different POVs (Maisey's, Rafe's and Josephine's) and all three characters are strongly asserted for their motivations and emotions. Novak's prose is spot on for its intimacies, and I felt invested in both the development of the relationships here as well as the mystery. I did feel that as the book went on, certain plot points felt a bit thin in their drawing, particularly in the push to the end where some threads were left untied, but I still found the conclusion satisfying even when I had an idea of the direction it would go.

This is the first in a series, so I'm looking forward to seeing more of the events on Fairham Island.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley from the publisher Harlequin Mira.

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review 2016-05-04 13:46
The Secret Sister - Brenda Novak

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak
Book starts out with Maisey and her brother Keith has summoned her to come back home to help with their mother.
She arrives and will be staying at her father's bungalows, the contractor is refurbishing them after the last big storm.   Nobody gets along with their mother Josephine. Maisey has also been divorced for a year and had a daughter died from SIDS but her mother always, blamed her.
Raef is the one to find the box while doing carpentry work and brings it to Massey and she does recall the taller child but she's not sure who it is. Mysteries and secrets from many as she tries to patch things with her mother, help clean the bungalow and work at the family floral shop.
Liked  the romance, sex, helping blind child,  talk of flowers, braiding hair from the book she wrote and to find out about the girl in the photo and blackmail money...
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).

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review 2015-08-21 04:17
My Sister's Secret - Tracy Buchanan

The sisters' names (Faith, Hope and Charity) were a bit twee but apart from that I liked this book a lot. The story starts in 1977 and goes back and forth to 2016 (yes 2016). Gradually the tale unfolds and everyone's secrets are revealed. A very enjoyable book with great descriptions of submerged forests, diving, different locations, interesting characters - plenty to keep you turning the pages. Definitely one for the suitcase, something to keep you engrossed whilst sun bathing.

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