It Runs in the Family (Willow – A Book Review)

Willow (De Beers #1)
Author: V. C. Andrews
Published: 2002

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Willow

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull bolt

 

All that glitters isn’t gold…

After the death of her father, Willow goes in search of her biological mother after reading his journal, finding her in the ritz and extravagant Palm Beach. Being rich is the name and throwing luxurious parties is everyone’s game. She assumes a name and pretends that she is conducting a study for her college graduate thesis in order to grow closer to her mother.

Willow discovers not only that her mother is in Palm Beach, but that she also has a son. Willow has a brother. Now, she’ll work to get to know her mother and uncover all of the secrets surrounding her fall from the glamorous lies of this beach town. It’s slippery down the rabbit hole and Willow must be careful not to lose herself in the life of the rich and famous.

 

This story started out pretty slow, but gave a really good overture of Willow’s upbringing with her adoptive family. Her mother, who she called A.M., is treacherous and took pleasure in destroying Willow. She wasn’t the only one either. People just thrived on the destruction of others in this book. It was unbelievable. I was disgusted!

Willow, while I love her backbone and inability to let people manipulate her, also started to make me wonder after a while. We all converse with our conscience. It helps us make decisions and confer with our feelings. Willow took it to an EXTREME! It got a little weird because of the way she didn’t seem to be conversing with herself, but other voices in her head. Like, I believe she needs some psychological help, which is funny since her biological mom spent time in the psych ward.

Crying of Lot 49

The other characters were a range of wild, too. Thatcher Eaton came swooping in as a kind of prince charming. Kind of, because he’s rather full of himself. His parents were no better. They were MUCH worse. And Linden, Willow’s newly discovered brother, is especially odd. He comes across as a loner and rather morbid with his artwork and possessive. I was ODing on the crazy with all of them and I’m pretty sure Willow was, too.

The lustrous setting of Palm Beach was filled with crashing waves, speedboats, sunsets, glitz and glam…and secrets. This really got me thinking about Revenge—great for building upon secrets until you begin to tailspin. It was crazy!

The difference between the rich glam-train and the poor on the shore in this book was how they were perceived and the stories told about them. The folks who live the life of never-ending luxury carry themselves with extreme narcissism, as if they’re saviors and should be thanked for constantly, yet go on about those with less as if they’re a disease. It’s despicable. I got pretty worked up about it.

I will say: this the writing really threw me off. It’s typically what pulls me in ultimately. Now, this wasn’t written by the true V.C. Andrews, but it did come from her notes. This just didn’t have that ominous tone that she originally had. The tone actually came off bland for me.

 

Overall

I wish psychological—I wouldn’t’ call this a thriller—books were my thing, but this one was slow and dragging. I was really intrigued by the idea of delving into the dark chasm of the rich and how this side of it was explored. However, I just couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted to. A good one time read for me.

 

Quotables:

“Bad news travels with the wind. It’s as if everyone who hears it feels an obligation to pass it along, or maybe a need to get rid of it before it affects them and their lives as well.” (p. 57)

“Most people I meet here are empty, mindless. I call them Hollows.” (Linden to Willow, p. 245)

“Secrets have a way of twisting themselves around your heart like a python and choking the joy out of you.” (Thatcher to Willow, p. 325)

“Daddy taught me never to run and hide but to face my problems head on and never be intimidated by them. Good Advice, don’t you think?” (Willow to Aunt Agnes, p. 434)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Shadow of the Day by Linkin Park.

 

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Come to the Dark Side…I Have Cake (If There Be Thorns – A Book Review)

If There Be Thorns
Author: V.C. Andrews
Published: 1981

On Goodreads

ITBT

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

 

They hide the shocking truth to protect their children. But someone who knows their dark secret is watching.

Jory is fourteen and on his way to being an amazing ballet dancer, just like his mom. Bart has a wild imagination for a nine year old, always going off and having amazing adventures. Then came Cindy, a gift that Cathy has been wishing for for years.

Years have passed, Cathy and Christopher have finally found love in one another and married. They have a lovely home with their children and it’s what they have always dreamed of, but then an elderly woman completely veiled in black and her strange butler move into the large house next door that’s been empty for a long time. Soon, Bart is lured over and starts to spend most of his time with her. He changes with each visit, growing angry and violent with his family. Jory watches on, trying to figure out how he can help his little brother, but then he overhears Mom and Dad talking about an attic and how they can’t relive those days, leaving Jory with even more questions.

 

This was a good turn in The Dollanganger series. I really enjoyed this! It was a new take in it and really changed things up. There’s a brand new story, but still, the dreadful past remains at The Dolls’ heels, haunting them and now their children.

First things first, I loved that this was from a new set of POVs. Jory and Bart are the next generation of The Dolls and they have their own story. They’re not the same as Cathy and Chris, but they also have their own tribulations because of what they did in the past. It was refreshing and just absolutely fantastic. I felt as if the story was beginning to feel stale, but this helped revive it for me.

The setting was new, there were new characters and I was just as invested as I was with Flowers in the Attic. You really believe that The Dolls are going to have the happy life they deserve after everything they’ve been through. Of course, it’s short lived. Though I won’t give away spoilers, I will say that there were a lot of twists and turns I didn’t expect. Redemption was found and what was once burned and buried came back to get The Dolls in the worst way, through their children. It was heartbreaking and actually scary because tiny humans are easily manipulated.

ITBT

The remnants of Foxworth Hall still follows The Dolls and you feel that heavily as Bart grows close the old woman in black. As it turns out, she knows The Dolls really well and can tell Bart the truth about them. While this made my eyes bulge out of my head in horror, the true enemy is John Amos, the butler who secretly sways him down a dark path. The old man was seriously creepy and kept the dark Foxworth name alive by whispering in Bart’s ear, turning him against his family. Doing that to a child who’s already feeling like an outsider is a really nasty thing! As if The Dolls didn’t have enough problems! Leave the babies alone!

ITBT

The book was pretty good. I started to lose interest after the last book, but this pulled me right back in. The story moved forward and I love a story that can move forward, but keep it in the family. This still kept with the uneasiness and dark twists that is very central to this series, but showed that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Quotables:

“Blind means black as pitch. No colors. No music. No nothin. Dead is silence.” (Bart to Jory, p. 33)

“Nobody could like me, for I didn’t belong here, and I didn’t belong there. I didn’t belong anywhere.” (Bart, p. 94)

“Crooked days make crooked ways.” (Bart to Jory, p. 155)

“Jory, take lesson number one in my philosophy course: Nobody ever does anything for anyone else unless it gives them even more.” (Marisha to Jory, p. 263)

“Life is always like that—twenty minutes of misery for every two seconds of joy.” (Marisha to Jory, p. 318)

 

more to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Unwell by Matchbox Twenty.

 

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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.

POTW

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.

POTW

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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Self-Punishment is Still Punishment (Crime and Punishment – A Book Review)

Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Published: 1866

On Goodreads

Crime and Punishment

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

 

Well, of course, everything is in a man’s own hands, and if he lets everything slip through his fingers, it is through sheer cowardice. That’s an axiom. I wonder, though what people fear most. It seems to me that what they are afraid of most is of taking a new step or uttering a new word…

Living in St. Petersburg, a poor student, Raskolnikov, lives in a tight apartment and suddenly believes that he has been fated to kill money-lender & pawn-broker, Alyona Ivanovna and her half-sister Lisaveta. Managing to steal whatever he can grab after the act, he flees. Quickly he falls ill physically and mentally. He worries and begins to obsess about the possibilities of people knowing of what he’s done yet he manages to escape suspicion.

In the midst of his delusions, his sister, Dunya, and his mother come to visit with news that Dunya is to be wed soon. Her previous employer follows her to St. Petersburg after the death of his wife as well. And the attorney investigating the murder may be on to Raskolnikov, though many have come forward and confessed already. Raskolnikov hangs by the smallest of threads.

 

I love classics. I do. They’re the spine to great storytelling, really. That being said, they do take a while to read. The language is dense sometimes. The great depth of detail is sometimes tiring and feels drawn out, but at the same time it’s beautiful. Makes how I feel about them complicated sometimes. LOL.

The story takes place in Petersburg in multiple homes, though mostly in Raskolnikov’s, the main character. Though when ill, he goes to many places, even the police station. A good portion of this book also takes place within Raskolnikov’s mind as he deals with the treachery he committed.

The detail to the settings were very specific down the very wallpaper and lamp and I really liked that. It gives me a clear vision of everything. I enjoy being able to see clearly since my brain turns words into pictures more often than not.

Guilt, poverty, and death are the more common themes I picked up on throughout the story. Raskolnikov is always at odds with himself. While he wants to help other people, he can barely help himself. And he certainly doesn’t like others trying to help him, as it makes him feel inferior and helpless. He also tries his best to avoid talking about what’s caused him to get so uptight and ill. The tone goes hand-in-hand with this. You can feel that as Raskolnikov observes the cruelty of people around him, a few people beating an old horse to horse to death, for example.

One of the biggest questions posed in this book is: Is crime justifiable?

It’s picked up in conversation often as Raskolnikov often hints at what he’s done. Several scenarios are presented in which people argue which is right and which is wrong. It brings s about a very good question. When would crime be acceptable if ever?

I found this to be very interesting because there are many variables to think about when answering a question like this.

 

I enjoy Russian literature, as I’m sure I’ve told you dozens of times. This wasn’t a particular favorite of mine. It felt a bit drawn out, though there was quite a bit going on. It also reminds me quite a bit of the Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe with how haunted the main character is throughout the story. This one is certainly an acquired taste and does pose a valuable question.

If you love classic literature, a good debate, and watching a person lose their sanity then this one’s for you.

 

Quotables:

“Gradually he had arrived at all sorts of interesting conclusions, and, in his opinion, the main reason for it lay not so much in the physical impossibility of concealing a crime as in the criminal itself; the criminal himself, at least almost every criminal, is subject at the moment of the crime to a kind of breakdown of his reasoning faculties and of his will-power, which are replaced by an amazingly childish carelessness.” (Raskolnikov, p. 90)

“Let him have his laugh—let him! I don’t mind. What I want is strength—strength!” (Raskolnikov, p. 208)

“It’s the moon that makes everything so still. It must be asking a riddle.” (Raskolnikov, p. 294)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Coming to Terms by Carolina Liar.

 

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