Some Secrets Are Best Stay Hidden (Secret Brother – A Book Review)

Secret Brother

Author: V. C. Andrews

Published: 2015

On Goodreads

Scarlet Reader

Amazon | V. C. Andrews

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull bolt

Rated T for teen outrage and attempted rebellion with a tad-heavy petting that goes absolutely nowhere.

 

The most unexpected Dollanganger story of them all…

Arnold loses his grandson in the same ER that a mysterious boy was dropped off and left for dead from poisoning. The poisoning left him with amnesia. Moved by the possibility of fate, Arnold, grandpa Arnold to most, brings the boy home. Not everybody is thrilled with this.

Arnold’s granddaughter, Clara Sue, feels like her little brother is being replaced by this boy and she’ll do whatever it takes to be rid of him, even try to help him remember what happened to him before he ended up in the hospital. But, when the his story is uncovered, can she really send him back to the life he before, or will she finally move on past her brother’s death and welcome the boy into a new home?

 

So…

This was unexpected.

I’ve read the previous books of Flowers in the Attic (go ahead and take a read of the reviews if you haven’t) and I didn’t know what would be happening here. Starting out with loss right from the get go is hard. Not hard to get across. Hard because it’s tragedy and that’s heavy. On the bright side, the only direction to go from tragedy is up and to better things…unless it gets worse, which is possible i.e. the saying, “It’s not like it can get any worse.”, because we all know otherwise.

Sorry, spoiler here, even though at this point you should’ve read the Flowers in the Attic books before this one, so, not really sorry. LOL. Corey Dollanganger was the brother who was thought to have died in the very first book and now this book confirms he didn’t die. He got a second chance. But, I felt really sad, too, because his twin, Carrie killed herself, in part because of the bullying, in part because of her mother’s rejection of her, and also because of the loss of Corey. This book did make me think back to her and feel even sadder for her.

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After losing her little brother, Willie, Clara Sue feel lost and angry and sad, and you know what? I was TOTALLY with her on that, even though I already know Corey’s story. She loved Willie to pieces. Then suddenly her grandpa brings home a little boy and nearly replaces him. If that happened to me I’d be just as pissed. She was right to act the way she did. You can’t replace family with strangers.

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And that boy that was chasing Clara Sue, who I won’t even give a name because he wasn’t worth remembering was a nozzle of douches. That’s all I’ll say about him. He really got me disliking him. Pfft. The definition of a F-boy. Gross.

So, all in all, each of the kids’ feelings are understandable. Clara Sue and Corey are both in their own right to be emotional. They went through a lot of tragedy.

The emotions rolling through this book were pretty realistic. So much change after such a tragic change will make a person blow a major gasket. Sometimes it came off a little too dramatic, but this is from a teenager’s POV. So, whataya going to do?

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The world building was pretty basic and predictable for V.C. Andrews. Rich family. Big mansion with multiple wings. Family trauma with a side of effed-up dysfunction. Predictable.

The style of the writing was pretty good, though the tone came off bland. I was getting a little sleepy in places and then I’d jolt when something juicy happened.

 

Overall

I was actually surprised that I enjoyed the book as much as I did. It didn’t move me to tears, but it did stir up some emotions. It was the kind you get for family. Protective and annoyed and a love that can really toil in the heart. Definitely one of my favorite books out of the Flowers in the Attic books. Will I reread it? Honestly? No. The family feels are nice, but they don’t screech, ‘read me again!’. I enjoy an intense read that grips me tight, much like Castiel did to Dean during that season 4 premiere of Supernatural. I say give it a good read, get your family drama out, and then donate it.

 

Quotables:

“Looking messy in public says a lot about how you live your life…” (Clara’s mother, p. 72)

“…Life is like a relay. When good people die, they pass something important of themselves on to those who continue…” (Grandpa Arnold to Clara Sue, p. 89)

“Your grandmother used to tell me you can’t fight city hall. City hall is a piece of cake compared with a woman who makes up her mind about something or someone.” (Grandpa Arnold to Clara Sue, p. 279)

“Love has a way of making memories sticky.” (Dorian, p. 345)

“A good-bye is just the curtain closing for this evenings performance. It will open again.” (Bobby to Clara Sue, p. 362)

 

More to come soon…

  -K.

 

P.S. Song today? Secrets by OneRepublic.

 

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Grown Up Dolls (Petals on the Winds – A Book Review)

Petals on the Wind
Author: V.C. Andrews
Published: 1980

On Goodreads

POTW

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

Would the past never set me free?

Finally out and free of the attic of Foxworth Hall they’d been locked in for three years, the Dollanganger kids are now faced with grief and memories that will haunt them forever. With the loss of one of their siblings and in the midst of blossoming desires and revenge, the kids are given a chance to escape and start a new life with money they scraped during the attic days.

Together, Chris and Cathy take care of their sister, Carrie, as she faces getting bullied in school from being malnourished and is positive their grandmother was right to lock them away. Cathy’s dreams come at a great price and she is desperate for love that she’ll find it in anyone. The hatred for their mother is ever growing and consuming, driving her to great lengths for justice. Chris is positive that there is nobody for him except for Cathy and he won’t accept anybody else. Foxworth is behind them, but they carry its dark secrets, are one of its dark secrets.

The Dolls made it out of Foxworth, but they’re still haunted by their grandmother, mother, and that place. During the next chapter in the Dollanganger series the Dolls grow up and face more challenges, both with themselves and people who enter their lives as they strive to reach their dreams—Cathy wants to be the prima ballerina, Chris wants to be a doctor, and Carrie just wants to fit in. Their past follows them, twisting them as love blooms in the most unexpected places and then wilts.

Side Note: This series is not one I’d recommend for anyone under the age of 17.

Moving forward. The Dolls have grown up in this new chapter! The book starts off right where Flowers in the Attic left off, but time moves pretty quickly and soon enough Carrie is in high school and Chris in college. Cathy however, is obsessed with revenge and determined to get mother’s attention. She gets dark and twisted and it really puts her in league with her mother and grandmother. I was really thrown into a tailspin at seeing just how messed up they all are from the lasting effects of being locked away. I’m pretty sure there’s no amount of therapy that could help them.

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The plot thickens! Even though the Dolls have escaped and their mother and grandmother aren’t physically present, they’re still there, ruining the Dolls. The exploration of psychological damage that people can inflict is so disturbing in this book! But it was so awesome, like a creepy awesome! The deep unsettling feeling increases immensely as new relationships form and old relationships try to die. The Foxworth family ties don’t break as easily as the Dolls wish they did. In fact, Cathy just can’t let go, not after losing Corrie and as it turns out there’s still so much to lose. I was disturbed more than once and really cringed with disgust at some parts. This story pushes the level of discomfort even further than before.

New characters enter the Dolls’ lives. Dr. Paul Sheffield and Julian Marquet are just two. Both are men that Cathy fell in love with, though I must say both relationships were abnormal. It’s seriously debatable about which relationship that Cathy’s had is worse. Each one really gave me some serious heebie-jeebies. Cathy challenged her desperation for love and need for some sort of self-punishment for herself into them. Paul is 20 years older than Cathy and Julian turns out to be obsessive to abusive lengths. We see Bart again and get to know him more as Cathy ensnares him as well with her beguiling nature too. Between the Dolls and the new characters introduced, I got to see the darker faces of humanity that nobody wants to envision because deep down they’re real and that fucks with us. Alcohol is a pleasant way to help with that.

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This book was a great sequel. A bit repetitive in reminding me about what happened at Foxworth. I’m very positive that everyone that’s read that book doesn’t need to be excessively reminded of what happened at that hellish place. It’s unnerving to have to be reminded. Nobody wants to remember horrifying events like that. It’s a nightmare! This book really captures that feeling and the realism of being in someone’s head who’s been through so much pain and how it affected their future. Very trippy. A great read is also what I’m trying to say. There’s just so much to say and I’m totally unsure if you understood any of it. But, hey, the main thing to know is this was good.

Quotables:

“When next we see each other, we’ll still feel the same. I love you. Always will—right or wrong, I can’t help it…” (Chris to Cathy, p. 65)

“A dancer without fire is no dancer at all.” (Madame Zolta to Cathy, p. 171)

“Never, never was his love going to set me free to love anyone without reservations as long as he kept loving me.” (Cathy, p. 228)

“Angel, saint, Devil’s spawn, good or evil, you’ve got me pinned to the wall and labeled as yours until the day I die. And if you die first, then it won’t be long before I follow.” (Chris to Cathy, p. 250)

“It was our doctor Paul who set me straight, Carrie. He told me long ago, if a sin is committed when our parents married and conceived children, it was their sin and not our. He said God didn’t intend to make us pay the price for what our parents did.” (Cathy to Carrie, p. 317)

more to come soon…

-K.

P.S. Song today? Lies by Marina and the Diamonds.

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Just Look at the Flowers…(Flowers in the Attic – A Book Review)

Flowers in the Attic
Author: V.C. Andrews
Published: 1979

On Goodreads

FITA

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

 

We should have cared. We should have been careful.

After the death of their father, the Dollanganger kids move to Foxworth manor with their mother. There, the kids: Chris, Cathy, Carrie and Corrie are moved into a guest room where they’re hidden away with only an attic of fake flowers and fake dreams to run away to. Mother loved her kids, but her family’s fortune was at stake and if she had any hopes of getting it from her dying father, she can’t have children. So, for a little while, she didn’t. Days passed and then weeks and then months and even long, agonizing years.

The kids, in their cramped world of hopeless and depressing dreams; Cathy and Chris are growing, adult desires and needs stir within while the twins scarily remain the same while under the watchful eye of their evil, abusive grandmother, and of course God, because the Devil works in devious ways. The secrets of Foxworth deepen as the kids become one of them with no hope of ever being free, but of becoming one of their fake flowers they sprouted in their fake garden in the attic, always blooming and wilting with hopelessness.

Love…I put so much faith in it.

Truth…I kept believing it falls always from the lips of the one you love and trust the most.

Faith…it’s all bound up to love and trust.

Where does one end and the other start, and how do you tell when love is the blindest of all?

 

I’m still reeling from how messed up this book was. Pretty good, but hella messed up. On one hand, there was a lot that happened that I didn’t know about before reading this book. I didn’t realize just how abusive the grandmother was toward the Dolls and how much their mother neglected to the point that they didn’t exist to her. I also found that the book, in my opinion, was over-hyped because of one of the main points of the book involving incest. I was given the impression, before reading the book, that it was a lot  Still, I was surprised and completely disturbed by the events that took place.

 

The style of the book felt like a Jane Austen novel. Very detailed and longing and the language was beautiful, but this book would be like a dark and twisted and screwed up version of Jane Austen LOL. From Cathy’s cynic POV, the experience of being locked up in a small room by her heartless and God- fearing grandmother became claustrophobic and paranoia inducing.

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I really loved how Andrews kept up the story just within the small guest room and wide, dusty attic that was decorated to be like a garden. That’s not very big for a setting. In fact, it’s one of the smallest I’ve seen in a book, but I wasn’t driven to boredom at all! The story kept moving and emotion escalated higher and higher. I could envision what Cathy envisioned because being in this small place for a very long forever, she had to envision the other places she’s rather be instead of an attic. Her imagination was a powerful place. It is for any character. You can be anyone and anywhere in there. So creative and also anxiety-inducing. The place, even her imagination, felt like a prison.

 

The theme of flowers was heavy. There was so much meaning to the title and the idea of flowers. The Dolls as flowers, their fake garden in the attic, the way they were referenced through the seasons spent locked up. It was chilling, yet incredible. I was mesmerized. All the many different metaphors and comparisons were intriguing. Not going to lie, I was making an inside joke with myself in reference to The Walking Dead—Just look at the flowers, Dolls. I know, I’m not right in the head. Sometimes it happens. This book series isn’t right in the head either LOL.

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Each of the Dolls struggle and their fears and troubles increase the longer their locked away. Cathy grows vengeful and psychologically ill, believing they could be sinners. Chris, a young teen, begins questioning his feelings and desires and what they mean, especially with these feelings being directed toward Cathy. Corrie and Carrie, twins, are becoming more restless and malnourished, stunting their growth greatly. Each Doll is effected and I kept getting so worried and nervous. More than anything, I just wanted to set them free. Discomfort is the goal with this book, I believe, and it’s successful.

 

I think this is a great read. I can also see the difference between Andrews and her ghost writer. I read The Mirror Sisters last summer and was deflated because it was nothing like what people said it was. But, this was great! The language was intelligent and sharp compared to that trilogy. The story was haunting and more effed up than I imagined and The Mirror Sisters can’t hold a candle to it…well, except for the second book in the trilogy. I do have reviews up if you was to check them out.

The Mirror Sisters

Broken Glass

Shattered Memories

Currently I’m getting ready to begin Seeds of Yesterday and the horror and discomfort the book make me feel has been constant. Definitely give this series a shot. It’s disturbing down to the core and could shock the pudding out of you.

 

Quotables:

“There are some mothers you can’t love, for they don’t want you to love them.” (Corrine to Cathy, p. 23)

“Cathy, don’t just stand there and cry. A room is just a room. You’ll live in many rooms before you die…” (Corrine to Cathy, p. 35)

“And remember children, God sees everything! God will see what evil you do behind my back! And God will be the one to punish when I don’t!” (Grandma to the Dollanganger kids, p. 55)

“Love doesn’t always come when you want it to. Sometimes it just happens, despite your will.” (Corrine, p. 104)

“Love, it came unbidden. You couldn’t help who you fell in love with—cupid’s arrows were ill aimed.” (Cathy, p. 197)

“Hell was right here, where I was, shadowing me persistently, trying to do me in, and make me into what grandmother thought I was—the Devil’s issue.” (Cathy, p. 304)

 

more to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Free by Plumb

 

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