Wednesday, 17 May 2017

TLC BOOK TOURS Review: Vanishing Point by E V Legters

Vanishing Point by E V Legters

Publisher: Lethe Press (May 27, 2017)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction /LGBT

My Rating:
Disclaimer: A complimentary digital copy of 'Vanishing Point' was provided by the author in exchange for an honest unbiased review and to take part in this blog tour.

"Nothing's changed except Angela Dunnewald." From the inside of her life and marriage, Angela discovers she's gone quite mad. Her sense of self, of direction, has frayed and she finds herself lost and alone despite a calendar full of society events, charity meetings, shopping dates, and dinners her aloof husband expects her to attend. Her best friend is a vivacious flirt, but Angela only strays when she discovers a young drifter haunting the grounds of her house. Desire to be intimate unlocks the need for achievement; Angela becomes unrecognizable to her peers and to herself.

Legters’ new novel offers betrayal, passion, secrets, and truth, all from inside a world that threatens to suffocate to the vanishing point.

My Thoughts:
Written in the present, third person narrative and interspersed with flashbacks to Angela's early married life, much of the book is written in a bleak and languidly depressive tone, but it does have an uplifting anticipatory edge and ultimate feeling of hopefulness too.


Evie's characters are well rounded and plausible with flawed, highly complex personalities, all working to their own agendas.  I didn't particularly like any of them, far too spoilt, spiteful and full of their own self importance for my liking.


I had a real sense that Angela was, indeed, at vanishing point. Her mental state affected me in such a way that I felt despair and miserable reading about her achingly dull, insignificant existence. There, only to give meaning and purpose for another; for Ross her husband of 19 years; or for her friend Lydia of 12 years in accompanying her to the many committee meetings or social gatherings where no one is interested in anyone but themselves.

Change is on the way when Angela notices a young man in the garden.  Ross would call the police insisting on his removal...they don't pay taxes for drifters to endanger them or their property...but Angela doesn't do anything, she is fascinated by his self confidence. He has possession of himself, a surety whereas she has none.  What follows is an intense relationship with some pretty heated sex scenes between Angela and her lover which I felt uncomfortable about to begin with. I'd worried, needlessly, that such an emotive plot line was going to descend into a tasteless porn romance. Nothing wrong with 'pornance' except it wouldn't have been in keeping with the start of this book. The sex scenes were tastefully, and sensually written and showed the evolvement of their relationship perfectly. It is within the realms of her relationship with Daniel that Angela encounters an unknown depth of feeling and desire for, and from another, and where the seeds for her empowerment and personal transformation grow.


There is such an elegance and beauty to Legters' style of writing as illustrated here when Angela is comparing Ross' hands to that of her lovers:


"Daniel’s hands are thin, and the skin also fine-grained; she would have expected a carpenter’s hands to be rough and worn, with a callous or two on the palm. Instead, when he touches her, it’s almost as if he weren’t touching her at all; she has the impression of air, and peace.
Ross’s hands have become wide and heavy and obvious. If they grope her in the dark,she stays still, pretending they can’t wake her."

As for Ross, has he not provided Angela with everything 'they' could possibly ever want?  Ross is infuriating in his insensitivity to Angela's needs and her desires, in dismissing them as petty and unimportant.  He doesn't take anything she says seriously and disregards her almost to the point of not listening to her at all.  She'd loved this cherry tree...


"Ross had said the cherries dropping stained the flagstone. She came home one day to a stump. She’d loved its blossoms; their first spring in the house, she took a dozen pictures of them, and had one framed for the study. Ross said the flagstones were more important, and that he hadn’t known she cared about it. He never apologized."
...Ross never apologises for his actions.


One compromise that Ross had made at the start of their marriage, reluctantly, was to keep a treasured wicker chair Angela had since childhood.  Even so, she was still made to feel silly about wanting to keep such a valueless item...as in evidence here:


"The wicker chair is the one thing from her childhood...She spent hours in it growing up, reading, dreaming."...“Let someone have it who really needs it.” When she told him she needed it, ...he said, “doesn’t wicker belong out of doors?” She reminded him that he’d have plenty from the house where he grew up...“Yes, valuable antiques...” “Ross.” He gave in, ..."Beginning with that conversation, nearly everything she wanted gradually became too much work to gain, and so she gave in to more and more, telling herself all these petty things didn’t matter."

His incomprehension as to why Angela should be so ungrateful or unhappy within their marriage frustrated me no end. It was all too easy for me to think that Ross was all deserving of his wife's infidelity. However, even with such an intense dislike of him, that moral part of me still felt he was as much a victim as his wife and entitled to be told the truth. Alas, real life isn't that way so why should it be for him.

Overall, Vanishing Point is a stylishly written literary tale about a woman so conditioned over time to feel undeserving of attention or real consideration in any way that her reaction is to compromise, and comply in order to save others from their own fragility, and of how as a disillusioned housewife she acts out of impulsiveness to embark on an illicit affair.


Fans of Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road, and Bernard Schlink's The Reader, will undoubtedly savour this one.

About E.V. Legters

Vanishing Point is E.V. Legters’ second novel. Her first, Connected Underneath, published under her given name, Linda, instead of her chosen name, E.V., was released last year and is an INDIE Press Book of the Year finalist. Born in the far western reaches of New York State, and a long-time resident of Connecticut, E.V. is exploring new venues in which to finish her third. She is currently in Portugal.

TLC Tour Stops

Thursday, May 11th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, May 18th: SJ2B House Of Books
Monday, May 22nd: Sweet Southern Home
Monday, May 29th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, May 31st: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Tuesday, June 6th: Books and Bindings

Find out more at website.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

After Birth by Elisa Albert

After Birth by Elisa Albert
Publishers:Vintage Publishing
Source: Publishers/NetGalley

Read: February 2017
(DNF'd on first attempt in 2015)

Rating:

Disclaimer: A complimentary copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest unbiased review.
Synopsis:
Sometimes I'm with the baby and I think: you're my heart and my soul, and I would die for you. Other times I think: tiny moron, leave me the fuck alone.

A year has passed since Ari gave birth and still she can't locate herself in her altered universe.  Sleep-deprived, lonely and unprepared, she struggles through the strange, disjointed rhythms of her days and nights. Her own mother long dead and her girlhood friendships faded, she is a woman in need.
When Mina - older, alone, pregnant - moves to town, Ari sees hope of a comrade-in-arms. Perhaps the hostile terrain could be more easily navigable together.

With purifying anger and outrageous humour, Elisa Albert unleashes on a culture that turns its new mothers into exiles, and expects them to act like natives. And as she defines the raw experience of motherhood, Albert offers a hilarious and devastatingly honest examination of how we become the women we are.

My Thoughts:
"An edgy, raw 'of the moment', anger rant about pregnancy, birth and motherhood"
'After Birth' is a hard hitting, revelatory tale about 'life after birth', and motherhood told with brutally honest portrayals of its character's and their unforgiving, often outrageous hilarious and irrational observations. With the exception of the lesbianism, drugs and some other scenarios, specifically the 'milk mother' relationship (an unselfish act practiced within certain social/religious groups), it was as if I were reading a close encounter of 'my' life 'After Birth'.  Decidedly the most traumatic experience I've had to date, I felt utterly humiliated and devastated as the fairytale promised me fractured and disintegrated. You know, the one about 'the most beautiful rewarding experience a woman should have is giving birth'. I felt betrayed...It certainly wasn't meant to be the way it played out for me...was it ?

Ari the central character feels similarly... “the baby books said nothing about this,” ... and again about her cesarean section: ...“They cut me in half, pulled the baby from my numb, gaping cauterized center...Sewn back up again by a team of people I didn’t even know...Severed from hip to hip iced, brutalized, catheterized, tethered to a bed, the tiny bird’s heartfelt shrieks as they carted him off somewhere hell itself.”...

On one of her home visits it was obvious to my health visitor that things were a little off when after weeks of sleep deprivation, and still unable to stand upright from my emergency c-section op, and subsequent emergency op to repair the reopening of the aforementioned, I told her that I didn't want my baby, he didn't want me, and to take him away.  Fortunately she didn't believe me and immediately telephoned the doctor who prescribed antidepressants. Why did I let things take such a hold? Well, at the time I 'knew' that I couldn't tell anyone because 'they' would take my baby into care as I was such a bad mum, and then section me for being mentally ill...but they did neither.

Ok so not everyone has such an awful time of it but some mothers do, and although a fictional account 'After Birth' was a revelation and potentially a 'self help' book in my opinion.  Reading about these character's experiences dredged up such powerful emotions from deep down, but ultimately it brought about an acceptance and exorcism 'of sorts' to that period in my life.

My experience was nearly 19 years ago and If this book said anything to me...NO, IT SCREAMED OUT AT ME...that sometimes we need help... that we're not alone...that we'll probably get over it and be okay in the end...that we should not be afraid to ask for help! I went on two years later to have another baby, by elective c-section, and had the polar opposite experience.

After Birth is not a fluffy tale of motherhood, it does not paint a pretty picture of talcum powder smelling newborns, and reading it may destroy the cutesy image. What it does, is give the reader an insight into the frightful nightmare that the experience can be like, at least for some.

The tone of anguish, and despair of the characters was right on the button and the book truly resonated with me. This is a personal emotional account of my thoughts rather than an actual review and other readers will take more, or less from it but essentially it is an harsh story with tender moments narrated by well written colourful characters, some likeable and others not so much, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I wouldn't say that all mothers should read it especially if going through a first pregnancy but I'd definitely suggest giving it a try.  It may not be the right moment, but it's worth giving it a chance.

A narrative of pure emotion and highly emotive, I wholeheartedly recommend 'After Birth' for it's entertaining value and stark honesty. Perfect for the new wave feminism happening now, and guaranteed to whip up some frank and excitable debate in book reading groups.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

HF Virtual Book Tours Book Blast: Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton

Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton

Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Nan A. Talese
Hardcover & eBook; 352 Pages

Genre: Fiction/Historical/Literary



A young woman finds the most powerful love of her life when she gives birth at an institution for unwed mothers in 1883 Philadelphia. She is told she must give up her daughter to avoid lifelong poverty and shame. But she chooses to keep her.

Pregnant, left behind by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a home for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overtakes her heart. Mothers in her position face disabling prejudice, which is why most give up their newborns. But Lilli can’t accept such an outcome. Instead, she braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family's home to the streets of a burgeoning American city. Drawing on rich history, Lilli de Jong is both an intimate portrait of loves lost and found and a testament to the work of mothers. "So little is permissible for a woman," writes Lilli, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”

Available for Pre-Order at
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iTunes | IndieBound | Kobo | Powell's

Praise for Lilli de Jong

"Lilli de Jong, discharged from her teaching job and banished from Quaker meetings because of her father's selfish choice, finds comfort in the affections of her father's apprentice, Johan. The night before he leaves to embark on a new life, she succumbs to his embrace with his promise that he will send for her. Soon thereafter, a pregnant Lilli finds herself shunned and alone, her only option a Philadelphia charity for wronged women. Knowing that she must relinquish her newborn, she is unprepared for the love that she feels for her daughter. Lilli quickly decides to fight to keep her, but in 1883 that means a life of hardship and deprivation. Telling Lilli's story in diary form, debut author Benton has written a captivating, page-turning, and well-researched novel about the power of a mother's love and the stark reality of the choices she must make. VERDICT A great choice for book clubs and readers of Geraldine Brooks." - Library Journal, Starred Review

“A powerful, authentic voice for a generation of women whose struggles were erased from history—a heart-smashing debut that completely satisfies.” —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

“Beautifully written, emotionally resonant, and psychologically astute, Lilli de Jong is the story of an unwed mother in late 19th-century Philadelphia who, facing peril at every turn, will do almost anything to keep her daughter alive. Benton turns a laser eye to her subject, exposing the sanctimony, hypocrisies, and pervasive sexism that kept women confined and unequal in the Victorian era—and that still bedevil many women today. A gripping read.” —Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train and A Piece of the World

“A stunning ode to motherhood. Lilli de Jong reminds us that there is no formula to being a good mother. Love is the essential ingredient, and only it gives everlasting life to our legacies. A debut of robust heart that will stay with me for a very long time.” —Sarah McCoy, author of The Mapmaker’s Children

“Janet Benton’s remarkable novel Lilli de Jong is historical fiction that transcends the genre and recalls a past world so thoroughly that it breathes upon the page. From the first sentence, Lilli’s sensitive, observant, determined voice casts an irresistible spell. Benton combines rich, carefully researched detail with an imaginative boldness that is a joy to behold—though reader, be warned: Lilli’s story may break your heart.” —Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste

“[A] gorgeously written debut . . . Lilli’s fight to craft her own life and nurture her bond with her baby is both devastatingly relevant and achingly beautiful. A stunning read about the fierceness of love triumphing over a rigid society.” —Caroline Leavitt, author of Is This Tomorrow

“The trials Lilli undertakes to keep her baby are heart-rending, and it's a testament to Benton's skill as a writer that the reader cannot help but bear witness. In a style reminiscent of Geraldine Brooks, she seamlessly weaves accurate historical detail as well as disturbing societal norms into the protagonist's struggles . . . An absorbing debut from a writer to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A heartrending debut . . . Benton’s exacting research fuels Lilli’s passionate, authentic voice that is ‘as strong as a hand on a drum . . . that pounds its urgent messages across a distance’ . . . Lilli’s inspiring power and touching determination are timeless.” —Publishers Weekly

“A harrowing look at the strictures of nineteenth-century American society. . . . [Lilli] is a full-fledged heroine, persevering despite seemingly insurmountable odds. . . her voice is distinctive, her fierceness driven by a mother’s love.” —Booklist

“I loved this novel. Lilli de Jong is deeply moving and richly imagined, both tragic and joyous. Janet Benton has an exceptional ability to bring history to life . . . It's not only a compelling, beautifully crafted historical novel, however: it's also important . . . Lilli's life-and-death struggle is shockingly common to women even today.” —Sandra Gulland, author of the internationally bestselling Josephine B. Trilogy

“Writing with a historical eye akin to Geraldine Brooks and incisive prose matching that of Anthony Doerr, debut novelist Janet Benton magically weaves a gripping narrative of hardship, redemption, and hope while illuminating a portrait of little-known history. The result is an unforgettable and important reflection on the maternal and, ultimately, the human bond. Stunning!” —Pam Jenoff, author of The Kommandant’s Girl

“A confident debut . . . Sentence by carefully-crafted sentence, Benton ensnares the reader.” —The Millions

About the Author

Benton’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Glimmer Train, and many other publications. She has co-written and edited historical documentaries for television. She holds a B.A. in religious studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and for decades she has taught writing and helped individuals and organizations craft their stories. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Lilli de Jong is her first novel.

Visit Janet Benton's website for more information and updates. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Book Blast Schedule

Monday, April 17

Tuesday, April 18

Wednesday, April 19

Thursday, April 20

Friday, April 21

Saturday, April 22

Monday, April 24

Tuesday, April 25

Wednesday, April 26

Thursday, April 27

Friday, April 28

Monday, May 1

Tuesday, May 2

Wednesday, May 3

Thursday, May 4

Friday, May 5

Sunday, May 7

Monday, May 8

Tuesday, May 9

Wednesday, May 10

Thursday, May 11

Friday, May 12

Monday, May 15

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
Publisher: Cornerstone/Arrow
Read: April 2017
Source: Owned

Rating:
Synopsis:
It is a long time since I have read a debut as impressive as Laura McHugh's The Weight of Blood. It is a chilling portrait of a small town in the Ozarks where violent men are protected and young women vanish." (Joan Smith, The Sunday Times). People still whisper about Lucy Dane's mother who vanished years ago from the town of Henbane, deep in the Ozark mountains. When one of Lucy's friends is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost women: by the mother she never knew, and the friend she couldn't protect. But her search for answers, in a place where secrets are easily concealed, leads her to a chilling discovery. And with this revelation, she must grapple with the meaning of family, the secrets we keep, and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love.

My Thoughts:
After missing for a year the body of Cheri Stoddard has finally been found. The gruesome discovery of her dismembered body has left the Henbane community horrified and Lucy Dane her only 'friend' compelled to find out what happened to her.

Set in the fictional town of Henbane in the Ozark's, Missouri, 'The Weight of Blood' is about two missing young women; Cheri from the present, and Lila from almost two decades before. It is also a 'coming of age' tale with Lucy and Lila, telling their story in the form of alternating chapters.

The majority of Henbane's menfolk are pretty mean and disrespectful of its womenfolk and display an unfriendly, at best, attitude and mistrust toward outsiders. Lucy is Henbane born and raised but even she is still not fully accepted by the superstitious, insular, small minded community.  Her resemblance to her mother doesn't help matters as it reminds them of the woman they viewed with suspicion and believed to be a witch.

Gothically atmospheric and hauntingly mesmerising, 'The Weight of Blood' is disturbingly dark with cruel deeds being done to the more vulnerable members of the community by bad, or ignorant individuals. I found it almost impossible to leave Lucy and Lila, and read with red rimmed eyes for hours to find out what would happen to them.

The pace is steady for the first half of the book, setting the scene and getting to know the characters complex personalities and back stories. Thereafter, it gains in momentum and intensity in the lead up to the final outcome.  With only a quarter of the book left to read I did wonder if McHugh would be able to pull it all together convincingly. However, I was not disappointed as the final reveal felt plausible and in context with the rest of the book and didn't feel contrived or forced in any way.

My only quibble is the lack of distinction between the voices of Lucy or Lila, even their names felt too similar, making it difficult to recognise who was speaking. At times I had to re-check the start of the chapter to remind myself who was narrating. That said, I still absolutely loved it.

Perfect for fans of Tana French, Karen Slaughter, Emma Cline, and Amy Engel.  Utterly enthralling, 'The Weight of Blood' is an outstanding debut novel and I'm looking forward to reading McHugh's second novel 'Arrowood'.

Monday, 27 March 2017

TLC BOOK TOURS Review: The Orphans Tale By Pam Jenoff

The Orphan's TaleAbout The Orphan’s Tale

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: MIRA (February 21, 2017)
A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Taleintroduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival 
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.
Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

My Thoughts:

'The Orphan's Tale' by Pam Jenoff, is an emotive tale and entertaining enough. I did enjoy reading it initially, however at around 35% of the way through I did lose interest and unfortunately didn't feel inclined to finish it. This isn't a reflection of the book or writing style but more to do with me not being a fan of 'holocaust-lite' love stories.

Pam Jenoff is no stranger to fans who do appreciate this genre and judging by the interest and purchases at my bookstore, including some 'hand selling' to customers, it's doing very well.  It is a well written and engaging tale about two undeniably brave, resourceful women doing their best to survive in a time of great turmoil and coping with an ever present danger not only to themselves, but to those they care about. Their strengths lie in their resilience and ability to adapt to ever changing circumstances and sometimes being forced to make incredibly difficult choices. Equally 'The Orphan's Tale' is a fascinating and informative peek into the friendships, trust, loyalty and hardships of travelling circus life during this time.

With the backdrop of the Reich during World War II, 'The Orphan's Tale' will not upset readers, or delve too deeply into the horrors of the Holocaust, therefore, I'd definitely recommended it to romantic historical fiction lovers and for book group reads.

My Rating:

Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of 'The Orphan's Tale' was provided by the Publisher and TLC BOOK TOURS in exchange for an honest unbiased review and to take part in this blog tour.
Praise for 'The Orphan's Tale':
“I read this novel in a headlong rush, transported by the relationship between two vastly different women during World War II: a Jewish circus aerialist and a teenage runaway with a baby. Deftly juggling secrets, lies, treachery, and passion, Pam Jenoff vividly brings to life the agonizing choices and life-or-death consequences for a hardy band of travelers under Nazi occupation.”—Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train
“Readers who enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants will embrace this novel.”Library Journal
“In prose that is beautiful, ethereal, and poignant, The Orphan’s Tale is a novel you won’t be able to put down.”Bustle
“A gripping story about the power of friendship to save and redeem even in the darkest of circumstances, The Orphan’s Tale sheds light on one of the most colorful and inspiring stories of heroism in Nazi Germany. This is a book not to be missed.”Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife
“Jenoff expertly performs a pirouetting tale worthy of a standing ovation. A circus of hidden Jews, a powerful friendship, The Orphan’s Tale proves that the human spirit defies hate, fear, and gravity with a triumphant ta-da!”Sarah McCoy, New York Times bestselling author of The Mapmaker’s Children
Pam Jenoff Author Photo credit: Mindy Schwartz-Sorasky
Pam Jenoff Author Photo credit: Mindy Schwartz-Sorasky

About Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination. Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

Connect with Pam

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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THE ORPHAN’S TALE Review Tour:

Monday, February 20th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, February 20th: Barbara Khan
Tuesday, February 21st: Savvy Verse and Wit
Wednesday, February 22nd: Caryn, The Book Whisperer
Thursday, February 23rd: West Metro Mommy
Friday, February 24th: Reading is My SuperPower
Friday, February 24th: A Bookish Affair
Monday, February 27th: Building Bookshelves
Monday, February 27th: Just Commonly
Tuesday, February 28th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, March 1st: Kahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, March 1st: Susan Peterson
Thursday, March 2nd: A Literary Vacation
Friday, March 3rd: Cindy Burnett
Monday, March 6th: Literary Quicksand
Tuesday, March 7th: The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, March 8th: The Romance Dish
Thursday, March 9th: Just One More Chapter
Friday, March 10th: Suzy Approved
Monday, March 13th: Reading Reality
Monday, March 13th: Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, March 14th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Wednesday, March 15th: Bibliophiliac
Thursday, March 16th: The Maiden’s Court
Friday, March 17th: View from the Birdhouse
Monday, March 20th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, March 21st: Write Read Life
Wednesday, March 22nd: 100 Pages a Day
Thursday, March 23rd: Silver’s Reviews
Friday, March 24th: Not in Jersey
Friday March 24th: SJ2B House of Books
Tuesday, March 28th: Travelling Birdy


Monday, 20 March 2017

TLC Book Tours Review The Roanoke Girls, Amy Engel

About The Roanoke Girls

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (March 7, 2017)
“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”
After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.
Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.
As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girlsshocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.
“I was immediately drawn into The Roanoke Girls, a haunting and riveting look at one family’s tangled legacy. You won’t stop reading until you’ve unraveled the darkest of Roanoke’s shocking secrets.”
– Laura McHugh, award-winning author of The Weight of Blood
“This is a poised and haunting novel, whose enchanting prose belies its dark and intense subject matter. An evocative modern take on Southern Gothic, with a compelling twist which will remain with you long after the book’s last sentence.”
– L.S. Hilton, New York Times bestselling author of Maestra
“An emotionally compelling page turner, The Roanoke Girls takes you inside the dark world of a twisted family and one woman’s fight to break free from the chains of her own history. This is family intrigue at its very best!”
– Wendy Walker, author of All Is Not Forgotten

My Thoughts:
The Roanoke girls appear to have it all, they're rich, stunningly beautiful and envied by all the townspeople. However, things are not as they seem. Over the course of the book, and as layers are sloughed away we find out what befell the girls in this family saga, and also solve the present day mystery of one missing Roanoke Girl.

Set in a fictional rural town in Kansas, 'The Roanoke Girls' is a deeply disturbing story. It is a complicated mix of sensual beauty with an underlying creepy darkness.  It's a distasteful storyline with manipulative calculating characters.

With a decades old history unfolding as the narrative moves back and forth in time, unpalatable secrets are revealed about the girls relationships within the family and with some of the townsfolk.  Engel has written a perceptively shocking, utterly compelling tale about the many affectations of love; innocent, lustful, cruel, selfish, controlling and warped.  Some of the characters were pretty unlikeable but with the progression of the storyline and revelations about the family's past, it became easier to accept, but not condone, their behaviour and treatment of others.

The interaction between the main character, Lane and 'wild boy', Cooper really resonated with me. Their relationship was electrifying and the sexual tension and pangs of lust were palpable. Allegra and Tommy's relationship couldn't have been more different with the hopelessly infatuated 'wholesome' Tommy being teased and tormented by the more predatory and sexually aware Allegra.

I loved 'The Roanoke Girls' right from the get-go.  Written in a style similar to Emma Cline's, 'The Girls' and likened to Virginia Andrews', 'The Flowers In The Attic', 'The Roanoke Girls' is a fabulous crossover debut for the YA/Adult readership.  Its a tough subject matter to write well about, but with a cracking good storyline I think Engel absolutely 'nailed it', and I cannot wait to read what she offers up next.


My Rating:

Disclaimer: I received a complementary digital advanced reading copy of 'The Roanoke Girls' by Amy Engel from the publisher and TLC Book Tours to take part in the blog tour.

Amy Engel photo credit Trish Brown Photography


About Amy Engel

AMY ENGEL is the author of the young adult series The Book of Ivy. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. This is her first novel for adults.

Connect with Amy

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Monday, March 6th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, March 7th: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, March 8th: Bookchickdi
Thursday, March 9th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Thursday, March 9th: Buried Under Books
Friday, March 10th: Not in Jersey
Monday, March 13th: Laura’s Reviews
Tuesday, March 14th: Sweet Southern Home
Wednesday, March 15th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Thursday, March 16th: Books and Bindings
Friday, March 17th: Rebel Mommy Book Blog
Monday, March 20th: Fuelled by Fiction
Tuesday, March 21st: Kritter’s Ramblings
Tuesday, March 21st: SJ2B House of Books
Wednesday, March 22nd: Write Read Life
Thursday, March 23rd: Luxury Reading
Monday, March 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, March 28th: A Fantastical Librarian
Wednesday, March 29th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Wednesday, March 29th: Patricia’s Wisdom


Friday, 17 March 2017

TLC BOOK TOURS Review of Eggshells by Catriona Lally

Eggshells by Caitriona Lally
Publisher: Melville House Publishing (14 March 2017)
Source: Publisher/TLC BOOK TOURS

Rating:

"Vivian doesn't feel like she fits in - and never has. As a child, she was so whimsical that her parents told her she was "left by fairies." Now, living alone in Dublin, the neighbors treat her like she's crazy, her older sister condescends to her, social workers seem to have registered her as troubled, and she hasn't a friend in the world. 

So, she decides it's time to change her life: She begins by advertising for a friend. Not just any friend. She wants one named Penelope. Meanwhile, she roams the city, mapping out a new neighborhood every day, seeking her escape route to a better world, the other world her parents told her she came from. And then one day someone named Penelope answers her ad for a friend. And from that moment on, Vivian's life begins to change."

My Thoughts:
Set in contemporary Dublin, Caitriona Lally's debut novel, Eggshells is a peculiar tale about a dysfunctional, socially phobic woman who believes herself to be a changeling switched at birth for a human baby.  Vivian is determined to track down the faerie portal and return from whence she came. It is also a story about an odd companionship, struck up at Vivian's instigation, of two women who find it painfully difficult to interact, and fit in with society.

Oddness runs throughout in this, pretty much, plotless tale where nothing of substance actually happens.  Vivian makes lists of words she likes the sound of, and when she wants a friend writes, 'I want a friend called Penelope. When I know her well enough, I’ll ask her why she doesn’t rhyme with antelope. I would also like a friend called Amber, but only if she was riddled with jaundice.'  She places numerous posters on trees to facilitate in her attempt to find a Penelope 'friend'.  Penelope who isn't really Penelope but is equally as strange as Vivian, responds to her advertisement.

What started out as a promising story about an innocent whimsical character unfortunately ended up irritating me. I found the never ending witticisms and bizarre scenarios trite, and because of her aversion to her own personal hygiene, hard to stomach the thought of Vivian when she...'savours her meaty smell'...ewwww.  Vivian has an older sister also called Vivian...why? I didn't get to find out.  Anyway, it was just too much to find a smelly, disfunctional, grey haired woman endearing or charming in the long run.

However, Eggshells did have me questioning my thoughts about the main characters' fragility and unusual behaviour, and pondering what mental condition Vivian could possibly be suffering from, and that's a good thing right? Cos why should it matter what her problem is...maybe it's just her personality and nothing's actually wrong with her...well except that she's had little to no social interaction during her formative years, and told throughout her childhood that she doesn't belong here but in another realm.  Ultimately, I realised that the 'cause' or 'fix' is not so important, maybe more tolerance and understanding of those who behave oddly or differently to the 'social norm' is what's more important.  So, it had a profound effect on me which made Eggshells a cleverly imagined character driven story, with little happening but saying rather a lot.

I'd recommended Eggshells for a quirky, light hearted, but thought provoking read making it perfect for book group reads and deal for fans of the Rosie Project, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and A Man Called Ove.


Disclaimer: I received a complementary digital advanced reading copy of 'Eggshells' by Caitriona Lally from the publisher and TLC Book Tours to take part in the blog tour.


CAITRIONA LALLY
studied English Literature in Trinity College Dublin.
She has had a colorful employment history, working as an abstract writer and a copywriter, as well as a home helper in New York and an English teacher in Japan.
She has traveled extensively around Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America.
Caitriona was shortlisted for “Newcomer of the Year” in the Irish Book Awards in 2015


TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, March 14th: Chick Lit Central
Wednesday, March 15th: A Bookish Affair
Thursday, March 16th: Books ‘n Tea
Friday, March 17th: SJ2B House of Books
Monday, March 20th: Write Read Life
Tuesday, March 21st: 5 Minutes for Books
Thursday, March 23rd: Books and Bindings
Monday, March 27th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Tuesday, March 28th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, March 29th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, March 30th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Monday, April 3rd: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, April 4th: BookNAround
Wednesday, April 5th: A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, April 6th: Just Commonly