Friday, August 24, 2018

review: the secret of the irish castle by santa montefiore

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Santa Montefiore's fantastic Deverill trilogy concludes with The Secret of the Irish Castle which starts off with the twins born of Bridie and Bertie growing their relationship not knowing they are siblings. The Deverill curse is very much in play and spectacular heartache abounds for many of the main characters. As the years go on, Montefiore incorporates real world events just as she did with the previous two novels, but not to the same extent; other than JP, the characters are barely affected by World War II. This time there's also quite a bit of explaining previous events, such as how Bridie came to own the Deverill castle and why Kitty hates Michael. That backstory incorporation felt a little clunky as it slowed down some of the dramatic moments. In all though, the final book provides a satisfying conclusion with most of the characters getting a happy ending even if it's not quite the one readers may have expected.
Review copy provided by the publisher, William Morrow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

review: crux by jean guerrero

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With her father as the framework, journalist Jean Guerrero explores the dynamics of her family in a memoir called Crux. It is clear that Guerrero considers her father, Marco, the crux as he disappears from her life only to return with rampant drug abuse and outrageous claims. Everyone says he has schizophrenia (and Guerrero worries about genetics), but Marco claims he's the victim of a CIA experiment. Being a journalist, Guerrero investigates the claim, but the CIA and other federal agencies refuse her Freedom of Information Act requests. That combined with her research on MKUltra causes Guerrero to wonder if there isn't some merit to the wild story about being stopped by a soldier while other men planted something in Marco's vehicle. But Crux isn't all paranoia and conspiracy theories. Guerrero relates her father's past which begins with the tragedy around his birth and abusive early years that don't get any better when a violent stepfather comes into the picture. The stories are powerful and haunting, especially as Guerrero also shares her own story of growing up as a "gringa" at a Catholic school in San Diego despite her Puerto Rican/Mexican heritage.
Review copy provided by the publisher, One World.

Friday, August 3, 2018

review: bring me back by b.a. paris

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Twelve years ago Finn's girlfriend disappeared after they had a fight. She was never found, but he was cleared of suspicion. Now Finn is set to marry the sister of that girlfriend. Life was good until Russian dolls started appearing at the house Finn and Ellen share. The dolls are significant because each sister had a set and Ellen had accused Layla of taking the smallest from her set when they were kids. It's also the only thing Layla left behind when she disappeared from the rest stop. It's a great premise, but the plot of Bring Me Back moves quite slowly. The big twist was also obvious early on. When that "twist" is finally revealed it comes with a big information dump to explain everything that happened in the last decade.
Review copy provided by the publisher, St. Martin's Press.