[REVIEW] The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel @HodderBooks

I was so excited when I got an email from NetGalley saying that The Roanoke Girls is READ NOW for a limited number of members and then with the speed of ten cheetahs I ran and clicked the button. I’ve read many reviews of this book and what intrigued me from the start was the darkness and strangeness of it. The Roanoke Girls is very interesting and very shocking.

After her mother’s suicide fifteen year old Lane Roanoke is taken in by her grandparents on their family estate somewhere in Kansas where things are not what they seem. Lane knows very little about her mother’s time on the estate but what she knows is that her mother ran away without ever speaking to her parents again. It is in this place that Lane meets Allegra, her wild cousin, who is being raised by Gran and Grandpa. Both Roanoke girls become close and go on many adventures in town but underneath Allegra’s presence lies something dark and twisted which soon Lane uncovers but the discovery becomes so shocking that it makes her flee the estate keeping very little contact with her cousin. She is called back to the estate many years later by her grandfather because of Allegra’s mysterious disappearance. Lane knows the dark secret this place holds and she isn’t quite sure that Allegra left willingly. Her appearance in town lights a fire on an old romance but also makes her have to deal with the darkness she tried  so hard to avoid. Will Lane be able to find the truth behind her cousin’s disappearance and will she be able to escape the darkness that has followed a generation of the Roanoke girls?

“Sometimes it’s a revelation, even to me, how much more comfortable I am with cruelty than with kindness.”

I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll keep my thoughts spoiler-free. The Roanoke Girls isn’t a book you’ll usually stumble upon as well as the themes in it. This book won’t be for everyone and I have seen a few DNFs of it because of the major theme in it. Having read Gather the Daughters and pretty much loving it I was very excited to start this one because I love reading stories that are twisted and unusual and that show us humans and our darkest sides. I think that we all love finding out more about how cruel and deviant people can be and these kinds of stories intrigue us but at the same time repulse us. This is the first time I’ve read a book that deals with this subject matter so openly and because it’s the main theme in the story I felt very uncomfortable reading it at times but couldn’t stop looking away because I wanted to find out more. I think it’s best if you go into this book blind but reading a few reviews would be OK as well as knowing that it deals with many themes that some people will find triggering. The Roanoke Girls is definitely not for everyone because if you don’t like dark tales you won’t be able to get past first fifty pages. I have had some discomfort reading this book but that’s solely because of the main theme and this book isn’t a five star material for me. The story could’ve been better fleshed out and the scenes ended abruptly at times. I like that it had an adequate resolution to it and we got the see Lane’s ‘somewhat’ character development towards the end.

“…sometimes you have to hurt people just to prove you’re alive.”

If you’re not squeamish and like reading books that show the worst in people then this is the one for you.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher (Hodder & Stoughton) for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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Amy Engel is the author of THE BOOK OF IVY young adult series. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. THE ROANOKE GIRLS (March 7, 2017), is her first novel for adults.

[REVIEW] Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng @PenguinPress

I remember back in March when I saw Little Fires Everywhere on Edelweiss that I had to request it because I love Celeste Ng’s writing and storytelling. It took me some time to get to this book because of other ones on my TBR pile but I am so glad I read it. From wonderful writing to well-crafted characters this book has got it all.

“It came, over and over, down to this: What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love?”

Little Fires Everywhere is set in a Cleveland suburb called Shaker Heights where everything is the way it should be. The people living in the suburb follow certain rules which make their lives more enjoyable and Shaker Heights the best place to live in. In this place we meet the Richardson family – from the parents Elena and Bill to their four children Lexie, Izzy, Trip and Moody. The Richardson’s are a wealthy family with successful and smart children as well as hard-working and loving parents. Bill is a lawyer and Elena is a reporter. A new family arrives in Shaker Heights – the Warrens – a mother and a daughter called Mia and Pearl. Mia is an artist/photographer and a single mother who came to the suburb for a fresh start and all she wants is to make her daughter’s life better– but Mia has something to hide. In this idyllic place the two families become closer with Pearl practically living with the Richardson family. The two women become close too with Elena Richardson hiring Mia Warren in order to help her out with money. This closeness makes an impact on the family dynamics too – Pearl becomes fascinated by Elena Richardson and Izzy becomes interested in finding out more about Mia Warren and her art. Everything changes when family friends of the Richardson’s try to adopt a Chinese-American baby named Mirabelle – this event puts everyone in a dangerous position and on opposite sides – particularly Elena and Mia. As Elena’s suspicions about Mia arise she becomes determined to find out more about her mysterious new friend. Will she be able to discover more about Mia and find out the truth behind her actions and if so at what cost?

Congratulations, you have survived reading my terrible summary of this book. Trust me, there’s so much more to it and I kept it vague. Celeste Ng is one of those authors you adore reading because of their excellent story-telling. I previously read her debut Everything I Never Told You so I was very excited to jump back into Ng’s world. Little Fires Everywhere wasn’t exactly what I was expecting it to be but it was very very good because the moment you read the first 50 pages you fall in love with the writing and get sucked into the story. It amazes me how with just a few words Celeste Ng can create such powerful emotions and bring her characters to life. As you already know there are many characters in this book – Elena, Mia, Trip, Moody, Pearl etc. – and what Ng does is make them come alive with giving depth to each of them. There are a lot of happenings in this book and I would suggest not looking at too many reviews and just going in because you’ll appreciate it more. My issues with this book weren’t much about the writing as you can tell but with the story because it didn’t exactly wow me even though it was very interesting and important. I think that many people will appreciate and enjoy this book. Her debut Everything I Never Told You still holds a number one spot for me because I can still remember reading it and completely loving it. It was so lovely being back in Ng’s world.

Do I recommend Little Fires Everywhere? YES, definitely. I think that everyone should read this book as well as her debut because she’s such a talented writer who’ll make you experience many emotions with her powerful words.

I would like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher (Penguin Press) for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award…more.

Find her on: Website, Twitter, GoodReads and Facebook

[REVIEW] Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

This is my first Tom Perrotta novel so I can’t compare this book with his previous works but what I can do is share my experience with Mrs. Fletcher. This isn’t a perfect book but it is ambitious and it fails in certain aspects.

Mrs. Fletcher follows Eve Fletcher a forty-six year old woman who is divorced and has just sent her only son to college. She works at a Senior Center and works with a lot of people but besides her degree in Social Work she decides to go back to school and take up a class at a community college called Gender and Society in order to change her views. It is here that she meets her classmates and becomes close to some of them as well as learning new things about gender and society. Having sent her son Brendan to college she is now all alone and tries to fill that void by watching some adult videos – specifically ones tagged with MILF – and soon becomes addicted to them. This addiction takes grasp into her reality and she begins questioning her own sexuality as well as her outlook on real-life relationships.

Our Mrs. Fletcher isn’t the only narrator to this story because the author includes her son as well. Brendan is a jock and he’s always had it easy with grades because of that reason but now he comes to a whole new world where things aren’t as simple as in high school. His expectations of college quickly change when he starts struggling with his classes and failing them but that’s not all because how he views sex also makes him an outcast in this academic community.

Will Eve and Brendan Fletcher be able to overcome their struggles and rise up to them or will life take them on a different path?

At the beginning of this review I said that Mrs. Fletcher is an ambitious novel and that’s true because the author tries to include many themes in today’s society but it just didn’t feel thoroughly executed. On the blurb we are promised two narratives but that changes as the story unfolds and introduces us to other narrators who I felt were unnecessary to the story even though there were some who I genuinely liked hearing from. I actually enjoyed reading this novel and definitely didn’t like most of the characters but the story wasn’t bad – I mean yes, it was weird and at times awkward reading about Eve [especially the part where she hears her son moaning] – I would call this book entertainment fiction. The themes of sexuality, autism, gender weren’t that much explored in this novel and this is the reason why I call it an ambitious novel. I’ll be looking out for Perrotta’s future works to see if he gets better at exploring these subjects.

Would I recommend reading this book? I mean if you are looking for a light and entertaining read then I would say yes but in case you prefer your fiction to be more thought-provoking then it’s a pass.

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher (Scribner) for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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Tom Perrotta is the author of several works of fiction: Bad HaircutThe Wishbones, Election, and the New York Times bestselling Joe College and Little ChildrenElection was made into the acclaimed 1999 movie directed by Alexander Payne and starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. Little Children was released as a movie directed by Todd Field and starring Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly in 2006, and for which Perrotta received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for best screenplay. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

Find him on: Website, FacebookGoodReads 

[REVIEW] Down for the Count by Martin Holmén @PushkinPress

This book is a second in a trilogy called the Harry Kvist Trilogy and what attracted me to this book is that it has a bisexual main character. I usually see a lot of straight main characters in mystery/thriller genres so this is what immediately intrigued me and made me request it. I haven’t read the first one in the trilogy called Clinch but that didn’t ruin my experience with it and I appreciate that because I had some concerns. It’s safe to say that this book can be read as a standalone.

This noir trilogy is set in Stockholm in the 1930s and the second installment Down for the Count is set in 1935. It follows our protagonist Harry ‘Kvisten’ Kvist who has just gotten out of prison [he has spent a year and a half there] and is planning on starting a new life with the lover [Doughboy] he met during his prison stay. From the beginning the reader can already tell that Kvist is someone who can’t stay away from trouble and so this time he receives devastating news that his friend Beda was murdered by her deaf son called Petrus. He finds this hard to believe because Petrus wouldn’t do such a thing and he also made a promise to Beda to take care of Petrus when she’s gone. During his investigation he stumbles upon shocking discoveries: what he suspected was true and the police are covering up the crime but why? This is what Kvist has to find out. Will Kvist be able to avenge Beda’s death and find out the truth behind the cover-up?

I really didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did. I read this book fairly quickly – the first day I read 15% and the second day I finished it completely. There’s no doubt that this book is fast-paced and keeps you at the edge of your seat. I have to salute Martin Holmén because he made his main character bisexual and it’s not often that I see that in mystery/thriller genre! I loved seeing that! What wasn’t a very great thing for me is that he wasn’t treated very well. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t get into details but I wish Harry Kvist expressed his sexuality more. I haven’t read the first one so I might be wrong because this installment didn’t have much of that. The people who’ve read the book might get what I mean. I also found a few things which moved too fast for my taste. Overall this didn’t affect my experience of enjoying the book that much and I would definitely recommend reading it. I seriously couldn’t look away while reading because I had to know what would happen!

Again this book can be read as a standalone so there’s no worrying about that. It will definitely thrill you and make you want to read on and find out what happens at the very end. Will I be reading the third installment of this book? Hell yeah, I will!

If you’re looking for a historical mystery/thriller to read then look no further because this book is for you.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher (Pushkin Press) for allowing me to read and review this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 

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Born in 1974. Teaches History and Swedish at an upper secondary school in Stockholm. Author of the Harry Kvist thrillers, described as gritty, historical, queer noir fiction with a unique Swedish flavour. Available, or soon to come, in Australia, France, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The first installment Clinch was released in 2015. Out for the Count is due 2016 and the finishing part Slugger 2017. Contributor to the anthology of short stories Stockholm Noir.

Find him on: Website. Twitter, GoodReads, Instagram, Facebook