a day while we were away. I kept expecting to get bored or tired of eating cold cuts and cheese but no. I was living my best life.
Once upon a time, there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered, and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword, a pebble could be a diamond, a tree, a castle.
Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a house across the field from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was queen and he was king. In the autumn light, her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls, and when the sky grew dark, they parted with leaves in their hair.
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.
“Don’t stop reading. I need you to understand what I have done“.
Well wrapping up in the evening didn’t quite work out as I got completely wrapped up in my last book of the evening and headed off to bed to read some more!
I’ve never spent an evening and committed it to reading three different types of books and it was such a refreshing change. Usually I’m a one book at a time kind of girl but by having three different “types” of books, I managed to use the time really productively and I had a fabulous time.
HOUR ONE (7.00pm – 8.00pm): I started the Cosy Reading Night with Just Mercy and it was a great one to start on. It’s one I’m going to lend to Boyfriend when I’m done because although he won’t read fiction, he will read good non-fiction and I feel as though I’m going to need to talk about this one. I read 33 pages during the first hour.
HOUR TWO (8.00pm – 9.00pm): The hour of The Fourth Monkey. This book really took me by surprise! It’s about a serial killer who seems to have been found dead after having kidnapped his next victim. The narrative is alternating between Detective Sam Porter and diary entries from the killer. His diary entries are so unnerving but the writing of Porter’s chapter is somehow quite light and witty and it’s so easy to read. I flew through about 58 pages during the hour and I’m hooked.
HOUR THREE (9.00pm – 10.00pm): I’d thought about just sticking with The Fourth Monkey for the last hour as I was enjoying it so much but then I read a particularly haunting murderer diary entry and decided to go with something a little lighter! I read the first short story of New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin, a set of short fairytale retellings. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this too, actually (pleasant theme for the evening!). I don’t read short stories very often but this collection is making me re-think that. It was nice to get to read a complete story and the writing was really impressive. I’ve since read another one and it was another real winner so I’m excited to continue on.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Mid-point rating: 4 out of 5 stars
“Reuben is pretending he wasn’t ever scared, that he hasn’t already been picturing himself slipping through the ice: sinking down, down, down into the freezing deep, his eyes peering up through the frosted water, trying to find the hole out that was his hole in”“He is finished. And now I know what I had hoped against: he is all he is, and he is not enough” [Page 251]
Date finished: 15 February 2017
Source: Bought via Moth Box Books
Genre: Literary fiction
Pictured Edition Published: in August 2012 by Scribe Publications
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Everyone wants to be a Roanoke girl.
But you won’t when you know the truth.
Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin at the Roanoke family’s rural estate following the suicide of her mother. Over one long, hot summer, Lane experiences the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls.
But what she doesn’t know is being a Roanoke girl carries a terrible legacy: either the girls run, or they die. For there is darkness at the heart of Roanoke, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull, she must make her choice…
The novel is set in two time periods, one where Lane is fifteen and newly arrived at the Roanoke estate and one where Lane is an adult, drawn back to Roanoke to assist with a police investigation into the disappearance of her cousin. In doing so, she has to face down some of her own demons and brave what sent her running from her family in the first place. Tucked in between these two narratives are snippets told from the perspective of the earlier Roanoke girls.
I enjoyed this at first. There’s a mystique about the Roanoke family, something lurking in the family’s history of women who have either died tragically young or run away. The writing is decent and it’s very readable. The atmosphere is oppressive and tense and Lane’s terse exchanges with her now estranged family are such a stark contrast to the warmth in the chapters showing her teenage years that I was dying to know what had happened. For perhaps a third, I had to keep reading. Then I learned the secret at the heart of the Roanoke family and I wished that I hadn’t. It is, frankly, repellent. I have no problem with writing that pushes boundaries but, if I’m reading something challenging, I at least want to feel as though it’s handled well. Actually, I don’t think that it was that it was handled badly, just that it wasn’t properly explored. We’re told about why it’s believable and why nobody just did the right thing but it just doesn’t feel realistic. It’s too extreme. Too much. The fact that the family is rich and that they’re all beautiful and charming just makes things a bit too easy. It feels relentless and reading it was emotionally exhausting. Harrowing. I kept reading because I hoped that there would be balance or pay-off at the end. There was in a way but not enough to offset the general queasiness I’d felt while reading.
It’s hard to write more about this without spoilers. I suppose if nothing else it was powerful. It’s a hard hitting novel that doesn’t pull its punches and it definitely had an impact on me. The characters are varying degrees of damaged and unpleasant but the supporting characters at least are interesting to read about. While Lane is trying to help find her cousin, she has to face up to her past and spend time with some of the people that she hurt the first time she ran away. It fits in with her story and I quite liked the take on small town America. If there’d perhaps been a little less emotional trauma and a little more criminal investigation, I think the net result would have stronger. As it was, I felt like reading this was more of an ordeal than I like in my fiction!
Overall: Grim. If you’re actively seeking out something that will give you a pretty full on story breaking all sorts of taboos, you’ll get that with The Roanoke Girls. If you’re not in the market for some extreme emotional manipulation and sexual abuse, this probably isn’t the book for you. It wasn’t really the book for me, unfortunately.
Date finished: 26 February 2017
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley – thank you, Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Thriller; Mystery
Pictured Edition Published: on 7 March 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Most people dismissed the reports on the news. But they became too frequent; they became too real. And soon it was happening to people we knew.
Then the Internet died. The televisions and radios went silent. The phones stopped ringing.
And we couldn’t look outside anymore.
Date finished: 14 January 2017
Genre: Dystopian fiction; thriller
Pictured Edition Published: in January 2015 by HarperCollins Publishers