Thursday, August 31, 2017


Written by Mikayla Elliot
Review written by Diana Iozzia

Snow by Mikayla Elliot
“Snow” is a fantasy novel about a twenty-five to thirty-year-old woman who has been turned into a vampire, after a very important noble in her country, betrays her. She is turned in order to save her life, and then she is launched into this brand-new world. Neva is a beautiful woman who is very kind and cares about her family deeply. When she learns she is taken under the wing of the handsome, regal Thedryk, she is informed of the battle between the good vampires and the evil demons, who all have a mysterious origin story connecting to God and the Devil.

            Neva learns many different things about vampirism. Many of this story is told to the readers, by Neva, after she learns herself. Neva is a very special person, similar to “the chosen one” trope. She is a magical person who reincarnates after death, and she can actually undo the curse of immortality. The main rivalry in this story is the good vampires protecting Neva and the evil demons and evil vampires who want to stop Neva from undoing immortality, for many reasons that if I mentioned, I think I’d accidentally leave some spoilers. Zachariah is the leader of the not so nice vampires, and my God, he is a good villain.

            The book begins with a fantastic first part. The first few chapters are terribly intriguing. This reminds me of “Beauty and the Beast” where Thedryk is the wise, regal Beast who lets Belle / Neva live in his castle. I’m not sure if the author intended for these parallels, but I thought the similarities were very nice and pretty. This book is very pretty in general. The dialogue isn’t cheesy or overdone. It does seem to me that the descriptions are the best parts of the book. Mostly every character is described well, leaving me with a clear picture in my mind. I also enjoyed part two. The main focus seems to be the set up of future sequels, and there is a fantastic “battle sequence” in both parts. Also, the last chapter is a brilliant cliffhanger, and I’m so curious to find out if / when there is going to be a sequel. I think this is the best YA / fantasy book I’ve read in a very long time. I was apprehensive going into this, because I haven’t read vampire fantasy in quite some time. This book was incredibly better than I suspected.

            In my reviews, I’d also like to include the information I’ve tagged and book marked, which can help me leave further constructive criticism. I’ve tried very hard not to include spoilers, but if you think you may be spoiled in just the slightest, please read the book, and then come back to my review.

1. The first paragraph. What a hook. Like I said the first chapter and part are fantastically interesting, but I particularly love a great first paragraph.
2. There are a few historical inaccuracies, like a certain dress fabric, catchphrases, words, or some expressions. The book is said to take place in 1287, however, there isn’t anything specific that ties the era to the date. It seems hard to understand which terms and expressions would have been used then.
3. I really like the interesting aspects and characteristics vampires exhibit in this book. They don’t feel too cliched, and I haven’t read many vampire fiction novels that have the same characteristics. They include: better insight, eating human food, vision-like dreams, the reactions to sunlight. In many vampire fictions, vampires drink animal blood as a second option, a consolation prize, but the good vampires in “Snow” happily drink animal blood to sustain themselves. They often mix it in food and wine. I also like that vampires were not created to be against humans, they’re to live in harmony.
4. I like the writing style that the first chapter begins already in motion, in media res. We instantly are thrown into a fighting sequence and Neva’s eventual turn into a vampire.
5. Because it appears this book will be open for future sequels, there are some unopened questions about vampirism I don’t understand. They aren’t related to the plot, for example: Neva mentions that humans that have a mark are predestined to be turned into a vampire, but we didn’t learn much of this. There are some other aspects I’d like further explanation on: the origin story of the creation of vampires and demons, auras,
6. I’d love to explore Thedryk’s relationship with Neva in the sequel.
7. I’m not usually happy with YA / fantasy, when it falls under the trope of the main character unable to have a relationship with their family.
8. Zachariah is a fantastic, creepy, and haunting villain. He’s charming, funny, and he makes your skin crawl. It’s great.
9. Portals to the future??? What. No thank you. At points, I worry this novel is biting off more than it can chew. I really love it, but maybe this is too much.
10. There are a few skills and powers that vampires have that make me very uncomfortable. (Page 156). They do not bode for healthy relationships with others.
11. The ways to kill vampires are confusing to me. I think. I think they can be killed in conventional ways, but it appears to take more effort. I’m not sure on this.

            In conclusion, I really enjoyed this book. It surpassed my expectations, and has become a new favorite in my fantasy collection. I don’t usually keep advanced or complementary reader copies into my collection, but this one is a true keeper. I’d like to pass this on to some friends, I have a few who enjoy vampire fiction. I can’t wait for a sequel!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Written by Vladimir Nabokov
Review written by Diana Iozzia

            “Lolita” is regarded as one of the most famous and most taboo classic books in American culture. Originally written by Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov, “Lolita” was beloved and infamously known as a popular thriller about a man who falls in love with his step-daughter. Dolores Haze, Lola, Lo, Dolly, and good old Lolita is the title character. She’s twelve years old, loud, obnoxious, and irritating. Mr. Humbert Humbert, our narrator, is smooth, charismatic, charming, funny, and a pedophile, of course. He’s eerily a sympathetic character, to begin with. After his childhood friend and lover dies at a young age, it clearly causes him to grow up stunted, only attracted to girls of that age.

            This is going to be a long, ranting, and angry review. Be prepared. Make yourself a line of shots and take one every time I say “unnecessary”, “irritating”, “annoying”, or “boring”.

            This book was interesting and a worthwhile read, but I did not particularly like it. Rest assured, it was not because of sexual content or pedophilia. In reading this book, you accidentally look past all that somehow. It’s clear and in your face and uncomfortable, but that isn’t the reason I didn’t like this book. Lolita is a very descriptive book and narrated by a (slightly) boring unreliable narrator. I personally love thrillers and chillers and unreliable narrators, but I think Humbert is a very boring man. The first third of the book was great, because it sets up this eerie and uncomfortable love and lust Humbert has for Lo. We also have a great plot twist involving Lo’s mother, Charlotte.

            In the second act, Lo goes away to a girls’ summer camp and comes back annoying, rude, and even more childish than you’d think a twelve-year-old would be. Humbert whisks her away on a cross country road trip. There are honestly pages upon pages of sights that they saw. Just lists of places they went to, thinks they did, soda pops, they drank. It’s mind-numbingly disinteresting. I had to skim so much of the second act. Humbert rapes Lolita in the second act, and she is consensual, but mocks him endlessly afterwards and pretends to threaten him that she will go to the police.

            The last act is dedicated to finding Lolita after she is kidnapped(?) and taken away(?). He searches for her, but finally receives a letter that she is pregnant and happily married to a man who seems very nice, but we have to realize that at this age, Lo is 15, so this is still probably statutory rape. However, what is the marriage age anyway? This is sort of a grey area, so I guess I shouldn’t think too much on the legal accuracies. Then, the last act has Humbert searching for Clare Quilty. This is a great revenge sequence that helps redeem the boring second act.

            I think I want to give this book a three stars out of five review, because although the second act and some of the other two acts put me to sleep out of boredom, there were still some redeemable scenes and moments. As with every review, I look at the pages I’ve tagged with Post-It Notes and point out any thoughts or things worth mentioning. I’ve tagged so many pages and thoughts, so I’m typing them out in a numbered list in the order of the pages of the book:

1. The narration is interesting at first, because Humbert is funny. It’s also interesting to learn a little about his back story.
2. There are many instances that the dialogue or descriptions are cheesy, annoying, or cringeworthy. I will list here those bits: Humbert’s sexual encounter with his first love Annabel, “apply voracious lips to her young matrix”, one character that had misnamed Lo and Humbert in about 6 different ways,  
3. Before Humbert becomes sexually fascinated with Lo, there are some beautiful and kind descriptions of how special Lo is. If you had read a romance novel with two consenting adults, this would be a beautiful narrative.
4. I have to mention that Humbert does not often blame himself for his love for Lo, his violence, or his poor decision making in general. When he does blame someone, it is often his “mental illness” which is treated post-imprisonment, his crazy lover, Valeria, Charlotte’s dislike for her daughter, the Devil. He also justifies raping her by saying that he wasn’t even her first lover, that he didn’t “deprive her of her flower”.
5. There are many “additional” things in the text other than just the narrative that are unnecessary and irritating, including: a list of Lo’s classmates, a poem he wrote to Lo,
6. It annoys me how many people allow Humbert’s behavior without complaining. I know this is a plot device, but I can name by counting fingers how many people ignored his creepy and uncomfortable behavior.
7. Humbert speaks constantly through the book in hypotheticals about being evil. “If I was a murder, I would…” “If I wanted to hurt her…”, “I know I’m not a great person, but…” He also eagerly talks about a perfect murder he finds interesting. We get it! You’re a terrible person!
8. Show, don’t tell. Actually, this point speaks for the whole book. With narration, you usually do have the problem that the narrator literally tells every possible detail, but I like a book that still shows without explicitly saying every single time Lo blinks or bites her fingernail.
9. “An accident is going to happen soon”. This line in the first sentence of part one chapter 19. I don’t want that, because now, all I plan to do is skip forward to the accident. The lead up to the accident is interesting, but the shock would have been more effective if HE DIDN’T TELL ME IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. I’m all for some fore-shadowing, but this is (curse word) ridiculous. Be warned though, the actual details of the said accident are actually disgusting and made me feel ill, and I normally have a strong stomach for yucky death stuff.
10. YAY, drugging Lo is always a loving father / rapist move.
11. “Not only had Lo no eye for scenery but furiously resented my calling her attention to this or that.” Same, Lo, same. I’d be just as irritated with Hum.
12. There are a few times that Humbert mentions how when girls turn thirteen they become teenagers, so they are no longer considered “nymphets”. He talks about how after they lose that status, they are no longer attractive and exciting to Hum, who is na├»ve in thinking that he will lose his attraction and love for Lolita after she ‘ages out’. This does show that Lolita is more than just a sexual conquest and crush, because he still loves her years later. I wonder if that makes him more sympathetic, because you feel for him that he does feel love for her.
13. I absolutely love the scene where Lo and Humbert reunite after (3?) years when she is fifteen, pregnant, and married. It’s so sad and heartbreaking, but also twisted, because you know you shouldn’t pity Humbert in his sadness. It’s so nice to see that Lolita has ended up happy with her new life. You feel so happy for her, and so sad for Hum.
14. I don’t like the idea of revenge, but Humbert’s revenge for Clare Quilty is brilliantly executed. The description of the final moments is very interesting and well-written.

            In conclusion, this book had many boring parts where I found myself skipping through and dying for something interesting to happen, but this book was thoroughly worth the read. I think it’s very uncomfortable and strange to occasionally sympathize with a murderous pedophile, but you truly do. The last goodbye Humbert writes to Lolita in the story is so sad, you cannot help but feel sorry for this unfortunately criminally insane man and his sad, pathetic life.

Friday, August 25, 2017

"The Marriage Pact"

"The Marriage Pact"
Written by Michelle Richmond
Review written by Diana Iozzia

The Marriage PactI thoroughly enjoyed this book. The Pact is an exclusive secret society that couples join once they are married. Jake and Alice soon realize that The Pact is much more dangerous and mysterious than they initially thought. 

This is a very long book, but I thought the pacing was very well done. You can easily tell that the story line and plot was well thought out and planned. This is a very creative secret society that is slightly cult-ish, which is a theme I enjoy reading about. This book is very reminiscent of "Eyes Wide Shut", "The OA". The Orwellian Big Brother theme is also very prevalent, but it does not hit you over the head with the comparisons. I thought this was a unique cult, which is not often created anymore.

Jake and Alice are very nice, pleasant characters. The creepy, eerie characters they encounter are well-executed. They don't feel "too creepy" or campy.

I highly recommend this book, I just feel that certain chapters are too long or too descriptive, but the pacing does make sense. I think this is one of those slow boil books, where the creepy crawly scary bits build over time. I think this could be a good movie as well, but the plot is a little too Lifetime movie, rather than something that could compare to "Gone Girl", "Girl on the Train", and other current suspense novels.

*As a disclaimer, I received this book as an advanced review copy.*

"The Unthinkable Shoes"

"The Unthinkable Shoes"
Written by Veronica Knox
Review written by Diana Iozzia
The Unthinkable Shoes

For a lesser known author, this was a very well-written and descriptive novel. This book is mainly about a little boy named Finn Cleary, who grew up in a poor, sad household. His brother had passed away years prior, so his family has never fully healed. His baby sister, his mother, and his father are now planning their visit on the ever tragic Titanic voyage.

This story is told through the spirit of Finn, who passed during the sinking. He tells his story through well-written prose. Unfortunately, this prose is very unbelievable from a five year old, poor boy's intelligence. It's very uncommon for even very intelligent five year olds to understand the words, "grief-stricken", "paradox", "threatens", and more. If this was told through the perspective of a twelve year old, it would be much more believable. I understand that the story was inspired by a small pair of shoes that was uncovered in the wreckage of the Titanic, but I tend to prefer books that are realistic. I understand that the spirit of a young boy hanging in the balance of purgatory is fantastical, but the prose is just too extensive for a five year old.

The narrative aside, I do enjoy this story. I think it's very creative and unique. It reminds me of the popular "Lincoln in the Bardo". I like stories with narrators speaking from the afterlife. Also, the perspective from the Titanic is very well-written and must be well-researched. I'll be passing this book along to my mother. I enjoy the perspectives from other characters as well. The last third of the book is very satisfying and has great spoilers that I will not mention. A worthwhile read.

I received this complementary copy from the author.

"Nightmares in Analog"

"Nightmares in Analog"
Written by Jonathan Chateau
Review written by Diana Iozzia

"Nightmares in Analog" by Jonathan Chateau was easily one of the best collection of short stories I have read, easily on par with the horror legends. Mr. Chateau's writing style is very natural, and his stories are very reminiscent of stories I've once loved, and also similar to creepy stories you'd tell at campfires or sleepovers.

The first short story, "Video is Dead", is about a man who finds a VCR player that he can use to manifest the dead. This is a great, creepy story to tell in the dark. It's very similar to the best Creepypastas on the Internet. (Yes, I am a fan of a good Creepypasta.)

The second, "Energy Drink" is a bit of a surreal strange scary story about a man who begins drinking a strange energy drink with weird side effects. This was not my favorite out of the collection, but it was still relatively unique.

The third short story was easily my favorite. "Saltwater Marathon" is a great tale of a man who still hears the voice in his head of his dead wife. He soon realizes that a large group of aquatic mer-creature monsters are chasing after the humans. There's lots of cool spoilers I won't mention, but I really enjoyed this. This reminded me of "The Lady in the Water" meets "The Mist" with a little "Sharknado" cheesiness.

This whole collection is very well-written. If you had given me this book and didn't tell me the author, I thought this would have been a book by Stephen King. The short stories are very similar to his writing style. I think these stories are unique, for being similar to other past creepy tales. I would highly recommend this to people who enjoy the short stories by Stephen King (my favorite writings of his anyway). I will be looking forward to reading future books and stories by Jonathan Chateau.

*I was very lucky to receive a complementary copy from the author himself. Thank you.*

"Bring Her Home"

"Bring Her Home"
Written by David Bell
Review written by Diana Iozzia

Bring Her Home"Bring Her Home" was a novel with intrigue, suspense, sadness, and love, but it didn't feel as dramatic as I made that sound. This novel follows a father, Bill, whose daughter is clinging to life, as her best friend has already passed. They have been attacked brutally and left in a dangerous park on the wrong side of town. From the third or fourth chapter, you already find yourself with another plot twist. Then, near the end, a punch to the gut plot twist.

However, this did not reach my top 50, or top 20, and never my top 10 lists of favorite books. This was a good mystery, with the main focus on the father's character and his love for his daughter. There are some things I liked and didn't like:

The attention to detail in the Bill's home and his daughter, Summer's room.
Bill's sister.
Stories about when Summer was young.
Back story of Bill's deceased wife and how he wants to now save Summer, because he wasn't able to save his wife years previously.
This would make a good TV/Lifetime film.

The book's blurb and description on the cover and related websites seemed to be more dramatic than the book actually turned out to be.
The villain was really obvious!!!!!! I was skeptical the first time I was introduced to this character, and never felt uncomfortable. Of course, this character was behind the kidnapping and beating!!!
This would make a good TV/Lifetime film.

"The Teacher"

"The Teacher" by Katerina Diamond
Review written by Diana Iozzia

The Teacher by Katerina Diamond
This was an interesting mystery novel told in many different perspectives, and all combine into one cohesive story line in the end. I thoroughly enjoyed the two main detectives in this story, DS Imogen Grey and DSI Adrian Miles. I enjoyed the side characters as well.

However, this book did not reach the expectations I had for it. I usually choose mystery / horror / crime novels based on the murder, the detectives, or the victims. I was very interested on the premise, but this too soon became a procedural, boring, just like any other mystery novel. It was very obvious from about the second chapter who was the killer behind all of the crimes, and how he was going to continue onwards.

This is well written, but it's just too predictable for my taste. I'll be passing this on to a friend who enjoys mystery / crime novels.

"After You"

"After You"
Written by Jojo Moyes
Review written by Diana Iozzia
After You by Jojo Moyes

After reading Jojo Moyes's book, "Me Before You", I was sad and devastated. I become best friends with the wacky Louisa/Lou and lost William/Will Traynor. In picking up the sequel, I had wondered how Lou would move on in life after letting Will go. My question was answered, but I wasn't happy with the answer.

Lou is working at a poor, tiring job as an airport bartender, wishing she could just feel better and life her life to the fullest, as Will always wanted her to. She's bored with her life, she's drinking. One night, she has a knock on her door from guess who? Will's daughter he and she never knew about. What an incredibly cliched surprised. I was very disappointed, as the entire book is trying to sort out Will's daughter's life, since she just happens to be a spoiled, rude, alcoholic teenager.

In group therapy, Lou meets the uncle of one of her group members and falls for him. He's honestly one of the most boring male leads I've ever read in a romantic novel. This is coming from someone who likes Nicholas Sparks novels. It just goes to show that the best part of this series is Will. Without him, the second book is empty, like Lou's life. I was just disappointed. It was written well, because it's still written by a very successful writer. It just goes to show that certain sequels don't turn out to be as good as the first book.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"Gerald's Game"

“Gerald’s Game”
Written by Stephen King
Gerald's Game by Stephen KingReview written by Stephen King

            Hi everyone. This is pretty spoiler-filled, so I am marking it as so on Goodreads. It’s hard to talk about this book without spoilers. (Also, spoilers are very personal and circumstantial, so one sentence could be insignificant to one reader, and one could ruin the whole book.) I read “Gerald’s Game” over a two-day period, but I think I probably spent about 5 – 6 hours in total reading this. I wanted to go into the book with an open mind, so I didn’t re-read the blurb on the book jacket. I had bought the book about a year ago, so I didn’t remember much of the plot. I was relatively excited to read this, because I am a pretty big fan of Stephen King. Some of his older books don’t always agree with me, but I thought I’d give it a chance.
            “Gerald’s Game” begins with Gerald handcuffing his wife, Jessie, to a bedpost for sex purposes, but she doesn’t really want to play this way anymore. When he starts to make her uncomfortable, she refuses his advances, kicks him in his genitals, and he suffers a heart attack. Seeing her dead husband on the floor, Jessie realizes she will not be able to open the handcuffs, so this begins her journey of escape.
            Jessie suffers thirst, panic, and a dog who decides to feast on Gerald. Jessie recounts the day of an eclipse, where her father had molested her. She also hallucinates and hears voices of her old therapist, a “good wife” version of herself, and the child she was when her father abused her. I am certainly not a fan of these hallucinations and voices in her head. Half the time, I forgot who everyone is. It’s not interesting, and I found myself skimming these parts.
            This is an uncomfortable novel, and it felt like a journey just to read along with Jessie. I strongly do not recommend this to those who can be triggered or offended by sexual abuse and sexual violence. In addition, it’s a very strange and “trippy” novel. Most of this is in Jessie’s head, and we also have her “visitor” who we are not sure if he is real or a hallucination. I’m not going to say much about the “visitor”, but Jesus Christ, King, couldn’t you have thought of anything cleverer than that? It was very unoriginal and very obvious.
            I liked this novel, but I cannot give it a full four stars. There are moments of uncomfortable and cringe-inducing dialogue:
“That’s a lousy, underhanded, unfair thing to say”.
“The mosquito bumps on her chest or her hipless body”.
            I have to mention that I do like the way that young Jessie is portrayed in flashbacks. I have always said in novels and in films, young characters have dialogue that makes them sound much younger than they are, or they sound about 20 years older. Jessie is very accurately portrayed as an adolescent. Her demeanor and her dialogue fit well.
            I don’t particularly enjoy the sexual violence, but I don’t think anyone is supposed to. I also have a few other notes to point out. I usually flag the pages with little post-it notes to remind me when writing my review. There are a few poorly done references to “Dolores Claiborne.” I thought “DC” was a great book, but I’m not a fan of when King includes references of one book in another. It’s cheap storytelling to reuse characters and plots when convenient in new books.
            I do like the actual mindset of Jessie, who would not pray normally, but she does to try to save herself in this situation. She’s a very intelligent person and can think of ways to escape. However, a few actions she takes are a little on the deux ex machina (of course she can do this, because of this random new plot element that just randomly emerged!)

            Lastly, this book felt as long as Jessie’s escape. I wasn’t rooting for her because I was sympathetic, I was just kind of bored in the end?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Her Body and Other Parties"

"Her Body and Other Parties" 
Written by Carmen Maria Machado
Review written by Diana Iozzia
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

When I receive a complementary galley from a publisher, I'm not always sure what to expect. I rarely read reviews of the book prior to opening it up, because I always feel I might become biased or read something I don't want to. I was very hopeful for this book, because my favorite type of reading to do is reading collections of short stories. The themes of romance, science fiction, comedy, horror, and psychological realism (that are mentioned on the back cover) intrigued me. There also is an underlying theme of LGBT, which was interesting, as well as a teeny underlying tone of feminism. Neither of which made me interested in reading the book, because those topics I relate to, but they don't interest me. 

Also, I rarely have ever rated something as a 5 star. My 5 stars are often set for books that I would re-read over and over again. I'll probably read this book another 10 times in my lifetime. I truly rate this as a five star book. A five star review does not mean that I think the book is flawless, that every story intrigued me, that I sat on my bed in denial that I had finished it, but I was kind of disappointed that there wasn't anymore. I can tell you for a fact I will be watching for more books in the future by this author. Anyway, let's begin.

The book is a collection of eight short stories. To review, I'll mention a little about each story, and my thoughts and opinions on it. 

"The Husband Stitch" is a great retelling of the classic kid's creepy story "The Girl with the Green Ribbon". I thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation, but was a bit disturbed by the lack of mentioning any resources or credits to this story, and the many other stories mentioned in the book, that were clearly ripped from "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" and "In a Dark, Dark Room". I loved this story as a kid, so I enjoyed the retelling, but didn't like the lack of citing sources.

"Inventory" was a woman listing her sex stories, but it frames around a viral outbreak and plague that engulfed the country. The sex stories were not the main focus, and I like how this was told to explain the plague.

"Mothers" is a very confusing and not very interesting story about a woman who adopts???? is given???? steals??? has??? a baby. I read through this twice, and I still really don't understand this story.

"Especially Heinous" is practically a fanfiction story of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit", but with plots that have the lead detectives encountering supernatural beings. To be honest, I read about a page, and then skipped the entire rest of the story. Again, no credits. I'm surprised the author hasn't received a lawsuit.

"Real Women Have Bodies" is a very interesting Black Mirror-like story about a dress shop worker who discovers something strange about the dresses, in a world where women fade away randomly. It seems like it's a condition that's developing for all women, but I don't really understand the story fully, I think.

"Eight Bites" is about a woman who goes through bariatric surgery, who hallucinates that she sees the part of her person she removed from herself after the surgery. Weird. Confusing. Not the best out of the collection.

"The Resident" is probably the best story and most well-written story in this collection. I think it could have been wonderfully written into a novella or a novel of its own. In this story, our narrator visits a writer's retreat in the woods, meets many different and eclectic characters, and then suffers a very strange fever and a disturbing mental breakdown where she learns truths about herself. It's a very mysterious and strange read, and I don't know how to explain that anymore without giving it away. 

Lastly, the final story in the collection is called "Difficult at Parties". Our main character seems to have been raped or sexually assaulted in the past, and now she is trying to reappear and reenter the world she knows after her tragedy. She arrives at a party, and doesn't have the greatest experience.

In conclusion, I absolutely loved this book. Certain stories I liked less, but this is a really cool and unique collection of stories. I highly recommend this. I will be storing this book in my collection for years to come. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"Little Secrets"

Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra"Little Secrets" by Anna Snoekstra
Review written by Diana Iozzia

"Little Secrets" was a curious read, it's hard to describe this book, but you cannot at all use the back of the book blurb to describe this book. You can, but the blurb could have been written by someone who read the first chapter of the book, and that's it. 

The story starts out with our main character, Rose, a twenty-one to twenty-four year old woman, who takes more care of her siblings than her mom and step-father. Naturally, like all characters in fiction books, she hates her step-father, and he's a terrible drunk with no redeemable qualities. Upon the first few chapters, Rose reminds me of Fiona Gallagher from one of my favorite television shows, "Shameless".

Rose is an ambitious journalist, who is not yet succeeding. She soon finds out that a mysterious person has been leaving dolls on porches that match the appearance of the little girls that live in the house. (I won't spoil the ending, but Jesus, it's a stupid twist). Rose realizes that with her friends who are the police and her mysterious new tenant at the pub she works in, that she can create interesting news articles, capitalizing on the strange town events.

There are a few twists and turns, a pretty creepy torture sequence, awkward descriptions of sex, and very unlikable characters (including Rose 50 percent of the time). Mia, Will, and Bazza are very good, likable characters, however. This book is very ambitious with many different complicated characters, but there are at least 5 main sub-plots. When the book ends, there isn't enough closure.

One of the things I need to point out is that often in fiction, children are not portrayed as accurately as a real child would be. This one is no exception. Rose's twin siblings could have been 6, 12, or 16. They're meant to be 8, I think? They act like shells of children. Her youngest sister is Laura, who speaks like a strange four year old, but is supposed to be 6. I teach children from the age 4 to 8, and none of the children in the story are similar to the correct age.

In addition, the location of the story is very ambiguous. In the blurb, it's said to be in Australia, but the dialogue is consistent with a melting pot of English, American, and Aussie. 

I had picked this up, thinking it would be similar to "Little Children" by Tom Perrotta. I was mistaken. It's an okay book, but it's more about Rose's ambitions and sex life and interrupting the police investigation than anything else.

*I received this book as a complementary ARC courtesy of the publisher.*