MY SWEET AUDRINA by V.C. Andrews

PUBLISHER: Pocket Books, 12/2015
ORIGINAL PUB: 1982
GENRE: Contemporary Suspense
SETTING: Virginia, USA
SERIES: Audrina, #1
NARRATION: First person
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR BIO: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Audrina fiercely desired to be as good as her sister. She knew her father could not love her as he loved that other girl, for her sister was so special, so perfect—and dead.

Upstairs in a locked room awaited her sister’s clothes and dolls, her animals and games—and her sacred rocking chair. Now Audrina will rock and rock and rock to reclaim all of her gone sister’s special gifts.

And then finally she’ll learn the secrets everyone else knows but her.

MY THOUGHTS: This was beyond bizarre. The timespan is about fifteen years and the narration is in first person, told from Audrina Adare’s point of view. It was warped, and I  prefer that sort of thing, but this didn’t do anything for me. Child gang-rape, miscarriages, a retarded child, a seriously disturbed relative, ect. Not one bit of it was plausible. The story should have been under four-hundred pages, not over five-hundred. I thought it would never end, seriously. It was mostly monotonous.

Vera- A slightly older ‘relative’ of Audrina’s. She should have been the star because she was so screwed up psychologically. She was, by far, the worst character in the novel and the only one I liked. She was rotten to the core. The rest were bland, especially Audrina. I’ve never figured out who paid for her schooling once she left Whitefern, the mansion she grew up in, along with Audrina.

I didn’t like for feel the need for the characters Sylvia or Billie. I didn’t like that several deaths took place in the same exact way nor did I like the ending.

There was a ghost-written sequel to this 1982 book, published in 2016 called Whitefern but I’m not interested in reading it.

There was also a horrible 2016 Lifetime film based on this novel and the characters of Billie and Sylvia aren’t in it.

There are some really great reviews for this at GoodReads.

Same review here.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

LOVE BETWEEN THE LINES: AN ADULT COLORING BOOK FOR BOOK LOVERS by Christina Collie

PUBLISHER: Forever, 11/8/2016
PURCHASE: link
AUTHOR SITE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Fall in love all over again with this adult coloring book featuring 45 hand-drawn illustrations inspired by romance novels from bestselling writers Colleen Hoover, Anna Todd, S.C. Stephens, Abbi Glines, K. Bromberg, Jodi Ellen Malpas and more. Sit back, grab your pens and markers, and get ready to explore LOVE BETWEEN THE LINES.

In the pages of this book you will find:
· Designs to help you relax and reduce stress
· Hidden images and book quotes
· Each design printed on a separate page
· Elaborate drawings as well as quickie pages for when you just have a few minutes to color

Illustrations inspired by the works of:

Anna Todd, Jodi Ellen Malpas, Colleen Hoover, S.C. Stephens, Abbi Glines, K. Bromberg, Claire Contreras, Jillian Dodd, Amy Harmon, Tiffany King, R.K. Lilley, Molly McAdams, Tara Sivec, Alessandra Torre, Mia Sheridan, J. Sterling, Katy Evans, Emma Chase, S.L. Jennings, K.A. Linde, Beth Ehemann, Tarryn Fisher, Karina Halle, Helena Hunting, Leisa Rayven, Madeline Sheehan, and K. A. Tucker.

Images of three pages that I colored, with close-ups.
Below, three other pages that I like.
Below are three pages that I don’t like at all. They’re a good example of what the majority of the pages look like- big lettering.

MY THOUGHTS: The book is 9 3/4″ square. The paper is good quality, nice and thick, but the pages aren’t perforated and it’s a bit difficult to rip the pages out cleanly. The pages are too wide to fit fully on a scanner bed, 1″ of the left side gets cut off, which is disappointing if you want to post photos of your finished work online, but the pages are a nice size to work with. I tear out the page I want to use and place it on a clipboard.

The artwork is really good, some of which is really intricate, like the ‘Reel It In’ page above. Unfortunately there are only about ten or eleven pages that are what I’d call feminine, with flowers and such. The rest of the book isn’t attractive at all to me. Almost all of the pages have large lettering, which ruins the look of the finished piece.

This isn’t a coloring book I’d recommend.

Same review here.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

ONLY FOR LOVE by Elaine Barbieri

PUBLISHER: Zebra, 8/1994
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: Jamaica, 1772
BODICE RIPPER? Yes, mild
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B-

FROM PUBLISHER: When Gillian Haige’s father dies, his only legacy is a mountain of debts. But never does the eighteen-year-old English beauty dream she’ll end up in the dank hold of a ship bound for the Colonies…as an indentured servant! And now her gentle twin lies desperately ill, and will surely perish unless Gillian takes one daring, irrevocable step.

It is a wild scheme, yet from the moment she meets Captain Derek Andrews and feels desire ignite between them, Gillian sees the bargain she can strike: her innocence in exchange for her sister’s life. But on a journey that carries Gillian from the shores of America to a new life on a storm-swept island, she will be forced to choose once again…to fight for her freedom or to surrender to the man who has possessed her-body and soul-with his liberating passion…

MY THOUGHTS: Gillian, the heroine, is twenty, as stated on page 48, not eighteen, as the synopsis states. This story begins in England, then in Jamaica. Saying that they’re headed for the Colonies made me assume they were talking about the British Colonies in the United States but that’s not what they meant.

We got zero background on Derek and weren’t even told his age or where he’s from. He must have been in his late twenties, at least, since he’d spent some time in prison and is captain of his own ship, Colonial Dawn. He’s rude and possessive of Gillian but not verbally, physically, or sexually abusive towards her. He doesn’t seem too friendly either.

Gillian is feisty and stands up for herself, which I really like in a heroine. I didn’t see the need for her to have a sister since the sister was a pretty weak character and served no purpose to the storyline, as far as I could tell.

I really liked the two main villains: Derek’s ex-lover, red-haired and green-eyed Emmaline Dorcett. She was obsessed with having him though she was married to an older man. She was peppered throughout the story but I wanted more of her. I found her to be very interesting and wanted to see what damage she could have done. I really wanted some background on her but we got none, including her age. Her husband Robert said she was very young to his 50+ so I’m guessing she’s in her twenties.

John Barrett, who’s an agent for the London Transport Company, was in charge of all the indentured servants aboard Derek’s ship. He became obsessed with Gillian and hatched a plan to have her. Gillian hated him with a passion and that ate at him and intensified his obsession with having her. John once called Gillian Madame Uppity Bitch!

Another villain early on was an older prostitute named Maggie, who was always called a ‘vicious whore’ by Jon Barrett. The verbal sparring between them was great! She too became obsessed with Gillian on the ship but I don’t understand why she hated her so much. I thought she was going to do harm to her but that didn’t happen.

This was published in 1994 but it felt like one older. The heroine had a backbone, the hero was rude, there were terrible villains. Though there’s no abuse towards the heroine, I consider this a mild bodice ripper.

The negatives- I wish over half this story didn’t take place on a ship. I wish Maggie’s character had lasted longer and I wish Emmaline and John had teamed up to do some harm. You wouldn’t know by the cover that this is historical and the hero/heroine’s hair color isn’t quite right.

 

THE MASQUE OF A MURDERER by Susanna Calkins

PUBLISHER: Minotaur, 3/2015
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Mystery
SETTING: England, 1667
SERIES: A Lucy Campion Mystery, #3
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: In Susanna Calkins’s next richly drawn mystery set in 17th century England, Lucy Campion, formerly a ladies’ maid in the local magistrate’s household, has now found gainful employment as a printer’s apprentice. On a freezing winter afternoon in 1667, she accompanies the magistrate’s daughter, Sarah, to the home of a severely injured Quaker man to record his dying words, a common practice of the time. The man, having been trampled by a horse and cart the night before, only has a few hours left to live. Lucy scribbles down the Quaker man’s last utterances, but she’s unprepared for what he reveals to her–that someone deliberately pushed him into the path of the horse, because of a secret he had recently uncovered.

Fearful that Sarah might be traveling in the company of a murderer, Lucy feels compelled to seek the truth, with the help of the magistrate’s son, Adam, and the local constable. But delving into the dead man’s background might prove more dangerous than any of them had imagined.

MY THOUGHTS: This was pretty boring, a little slow, and could have been written in about sixty pages less. There weren’t any interesting characters in this at all, not one. There were way too many characters to keep up with, at least thirteen, and I got a bit confused a few times. There should have been some backstory on Lucy but there wasn’t.

The murderer is too over the top in what they’ve done. And they gave a full confession at the end which is very annoying and unbelievable and I wish writers would stop having their villians do that.

There were quite a few times in the story when Lucy made comments, not asked questions, and the author ended the sentences with question marks. A few examples: Surely there is something you can do?, I could talk to them again? See if I could learn anything more?, I could take some tracts to share? While I make some general inquiries?

See my reviews for books one and two in this series.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

HELL-O-WEEN by David Robbins


PUBLISHER: Leisure, 1992
GENRE: Fiction/Contemporary Horror
SETTING: Colorado, USA
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: D

FROM PUBLISHER: Halloween night, two buddies decided to play a cruel trick on the class brain…but the joke was on them.

They only wanted to scare their enemy to death…but their prank went awry and one of their friends ended up dead, her body ripped to pieces.

Soon seven teenagers were frantically fighting to save themselves from unthinkably gruesome ends…but something born in the pits of hell was after them-and they had no hope of escape.

CHARACTERS: Cory Fleming, Wesley Eagen, Leslie Vanderhorst, Jay Thorpe, Stacy Curvin, Scott Miklin, Ann Weatherby, Terri Sheehan, all are seventeen. Wesley and Leslie are dating, Jay and Stacy are dating, and Ann and Terri are best friends. Ann’s very protective of Terri.

DEMONS: The two demons are 7′ tall, muscular, nude, have three toes, red snake-like skin, red eyes, a forked tongue and tail, horrible breath, tapered teeth, ‘fetid’ breath like garlic, and walk upright like humans. They drink from a boiling pool of sulfur-smelling liquid.

MY THOUGHTS: On Halloween night, a group of seventeen-year-old friends go off to explore a cavern called Caverna del Diablo (Cavern of the Devil). They pair up and go off in separate directions and six of the eight get murdered by male and female demons. The synopsis would have you believe that a teen girl was accidentally killed by a classmate but that’s not true nor does Wesley and Scott’s prank have anything to do with anything.

This story was very boring. It was 366 pages of them wandering around in a dark cavern with just flashlights trying to hide from and outsmart two demons. I think the dialogue was both good and horrible at the same time. When they weren’t saying terribly outdated things like going steady, def, bodacious, dork, dweeb, rad, out of sight, make it/do me (as in have sex), to the max, and plenty of other things that were outdated by the time this book was published in 1992, the dialogue was actually pretty good and descriptive. I think the story would have been better with some kind of four-legged creature instead of one not much bigger than a human.

My least favorite character was Stacy, who was very annoying and kept calling her boyfriend Jay ‘honeybuns’. Second least favorite was Wesley, who thought he was above women and even punched his girlfriend Leslie in the jaw.

Favorite/goriest death scene was when a male demon ripped the breasts off one of the girls and ripped her throat open with his sharp teeth. Second favorite is when a girl got both arms ripped off. Third favorite is when the female demon bit off a male’s genitals.

The ending is the worst. It needed a multipage epilogue but it only got not quite a whole page.

 

LOOSE GIRL: A NOVEL OF PROMISCUITY by Kerry Cohen with Book Trailer

PUBLISHER: Hyperion, 6/2008
GENRE: Nonfiction/Memoir
AUTHOR SITE: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: A-

FROM PUBLISHER: Loose Girl is Kerry Cohen’s captivating memoir about her descent into promiscuity and how she gradually found her way toward real intimacy. The story of addiction–not just to sex, but to male attention–Loose Girl is also the story of a young girl who came to believe that boys and men could give her life meaning. Never less than riveting, Loose Girl re-creates what it feels like to be in that desperate moment when a girl tries to control a boy by handing over her body, when the touch of that boy seems to offer proof of something but ultimately delivers little more than emptiness. The unforgettable story of one young woman who desperately wanted to matter, Loose Girl will speak to countless others with its compassion, understanding, and love.

MY THOUGHTS: This was very sad and very honest. Kerry (born 1970), from a very early age, 11/12,  has been looking for love and attention from males and would have sex with just about any of them in hopes of becoming their girlfriend. She felt she was unlovable because she didn’t often have a boyfriend but had plenty of males willing to have sex with her. She didn’t use condoms much either and has gotten STD’s.

She comes from a well-off dysfunctional family in New Jersey, felt like she didn’t get attention from either parent, and was jealous of her sister’s relationship with their mother. I’d have liked for her to have interviewed both parents to get their opinions of her feeling neglected. Oddly enough she never mentioned whether or not she was ever depressed, but I would imagine she was, at least back then.

Here’s her speaking at The Mystery Box in 2013.

 

MIDNIGHT FIRES by Andrea Layton

PUBLISHER: Playboy Paperbacks, 1/1979
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: New York & Massachusetts, USA 1770’s
BODICE RIPPER: Yes
RAPE? Multiple
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: D

FROM PUBLISHER: Ravished by a cruel, merciless stranger…loved by the passionate man she might never see again…Carolyn Salford flees the brutal wilderness for aristocratic Boston and the arms of her fiancé.

Stalked by danger, vulnerable to the turbulent desires tormenting her, she is haunted by the memory of a man she dare not love but cannot forget.


SPOILER SUMMARY: Carolyn is eighteen years old. She and her family are traveling from New York to Boston, but they’re travelling separately. Along the way she runs into George Nelson, a man two years older than her, who’s in love with her. He rapes her once then it turns consentual. She goes on her merry way and is kidnapped and raped several times by some random Frenchman named Jean Lemelle. He gets what he’s had coming to him and she’s once again on her way. Not much else happens until the last fifty pages, when she meets up with her fiancé, William. William only wants to marry her because of the fortune she’s to inherit soon from her British mothers family. He rapes her several times, including once anally, and holds her prisoner in his home and verbally abuses her constantly. He’s keeping her drugged with laudanum and they set sail on a ship bound for London. She thinks he plans to killer her once they’re married. She escapes, meets back up with George, who she’s now in love with, and they get married.

MY THOUGHTS: This is truly one of the most boring books I’ve ever read. Luckily it was barely over 300 pages. The first 150 pages or so was Carolyn traveling, mostly by herself via horseback, to Boston. The plot was mostly talk of war and I got so sick of it. The only interesting part was the last fifty-some pages or so, when William came on the scene. William’s a character I’d have liked to have known more about. Not even his age was given. Him coming into the story is what kept this from getting an F rating from me.

ALLHALLOW’S EVE by Richard Laymon


PUBLISHER: Headline, 1994
Originally published in 1985
GENRE: Fiction/Contemporary Horror
SETTING: Wisconsin, USA, 1980’s
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: D

FROM PUBLISHER: This sleepy town may never recover from this nightmare. Every town has as a past but the grizzly murder of the Sherwood family is one the small town of Ashburg barely recovered from. The Sherwood house has remained vacant for years so who is sending out invitations for a party there? The townspeople are intrigued and who can resist a party at the murder house on Allhallow’s Eve?

MY THOUGHTS: This was so bad that I’m embarrassed for the author, who died in 2001, and I’m sad for myself for being so excited to read this. Very juvenile dialogue. Not one bit of this story was plausible. The mysterious invitations being sent out was the only interesting part of the entire story, which only spanned two days, and I lost interest in that as soon as it was revealed who was behind it. I’d have rather found that out at the end.

We weren’t told how one of the teenage main characters, Eric, got in touch with his father, whom he couldn’t have really known in the first place. We don’t know how this invitation thing came about either. There were a few too many unnecessary characters to keep up with and not a one was interesting. The first Halloween party was completely pointless and so much time was spent on it, just like too much time was spent in the high school. Time spent writing the first party scene should have been spent on the final scene instead, which took place at the abandoned Sherwood family home. None of that was interesting since we already knew who was behind it. The gorilla costumes were very odd too. The ending was abrupt. This story seems like it was just thrown together and written hastily by someone who just wasn’t into it.

 

THE COUNTERFEIT BRIDE by Joan Wolf

PUBLISHER: Signet, 2/1980
GENRE: Fiction/Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1800’s
SERIES: Signet Regency Romance #16
AUTHOR SITE: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: C

FROM PUBLISHER: Enchantingly beautiful Catherine Renwick had good cause to despise darkly handsome, insufferably arrogant James Pembroke, Earl of Allandale.

It was this deplorable man who on a night of wild debauchery caused Catherine to be abducted and brought to him at a country inn. It was he who took her virtue by force, and left her threatened with disgrace.

True, he now was willing to make amends by giving her his name in marriage. And equally true, she had no choice but to accept. But Catherine was sure that nothing in the world could erase her hatred for him or her horror of his embrace.

Catherine was an innocent no longer–yet she had so much to learn about love and the maddening deceptions of the heart….

MY THOUGHTS: I had high hopes for this but the majority of the story was boring. The beginning and end were good but that’s all. Once the incident at the beginning was over with, James and Catherine got along great for the duration of the story. No conflict, no disagreements, no nothing.

James is twenty-six and Catherine is seventeen. The story spans just over a year but I don’t know what year it begins or ends. When James was sober we were told he was remorseful for what he’d done the night before but I didn’t feel it. He’s a rather bland character.

Catherine was put in a bad situation and dealt with it very well and seemed quite mature for just barely seventeen. We’re told they’re both in love with each other but I’m not feeling that either. I don’t think they were around each other much.

Her cousin Ian, I did like, especially towards the end when his craziness came out to play. He seems to be around her age. He became really angry when he found out why James and Catherine married and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t asked to marry her instead when that was their plan in the first place. He hatched a plan that didn’t work out in the end. That situation wasn’t handled in a believable way by James.

 

AGNETHA FÄLTSKOG- The Girl With the Golden Hair by Daniel Ward

PUBLISHER: Fonthill Media, 7/2016
GENRE: Nonfiction/Biography
PURCHASE: link
BIO: link
MY GRADE: A

FROM PUBLISHER: Her iconic blonde looks, stunning voice and songs of loneliness and melancholy have endeared her to millions, yet Agnetha Fältskog remains an enigmatic and distant figure. From her success as a teenage singer and songwriter in Sweden in the late 1960’s to her years of global superstardom with pop giants ABBA and beyond, Agnetha has fascinated generations of fans. Her beaming smile graced record sleeves, television screens and magazine covers around the world yet never quite managed to conceal her natural shyness and vulnerability.

Agnetha Fältskog- The Girl With The Golden Hair is the first full-length biography dedicated to the life and career of the one of the most beloved and successful performers in music history. Charting Agnetha’s journey from her early days fronting a local dance band in the small industrial city of Jönköping, through her decade as one of the most famous and popular singers in the world, and the years of self-imposed exile that followed until her surprising and successful comeback in 2013, Agnetha Fältskog- The Girl With The Golden Hair will delight her many legions of fans and any readers with an interest in the history of popular music.

MY THOUGHTS: This biography is well written and I especially like the old quotes from Agnetha herself throughout. Though there were a lot, I wanted more. Not quite enough information about her mother’s 1994 suicide was given and just the bare minimum was given about her relationship with her stalker-turned-boyfriend-turned-stalker which was a real shame since this is the only biography about her and that should have been expanded on. That part of her life (late 90’s) was certainly worth going into detail for. I’d have liked to have known more too about her relationship with her sister and more about her thoughts on her daughters past (?) battle with bulimia.

See my ABBA page here. Hear her pronounce her name here.

A special thank you to Jason for giving this to me.

 

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