Rosie Sinclair attends The Forge School, the most prestigious arts school in the country. The students lives are f...moreDNF
Lovely concept, failed execution.
Rosie Sinclair attends The Forge School, the most prestigious arts school in the country. The students lives are filmed and broadcast for the world to see 12 hours a day. The other 12 hours they take sleeping pills in order to increase their creativeness. The Vault of Dreamers opens 9 days after school has started with the doomed 10th day being where 50 of the 100 students are sent home based on their blip stats (how popular they are to their viewers).
First off, I would have appreciated more of a backstory regarding this world because it was incredibly unclear from the get go. Apparently this is set in the future because there's mention of a devastating earthquake that occurred in 2045 but other than that I never would have guessed this is some futuristic tale. Around 40% we're finally given some details regarding the school itself but it came too little too late. I'm not fond of info-dumping but the details of this world were far too vague.
Second, I felt if the story had started from the very first day at school I would have had more of an investment in the outcome of these characters, especially Rosie. As it was though, Rosie's actions were confusing and immature and didn't interest me in the least. Considering the story is told in first person, I shouldn't have had such a disconnect from her.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or t...moreMy rating: 3 of 5 stars I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
‘She was a climbing weed that twisted round them, rootless and threading, a clinging twine. She would attach herself to anyone.’
Clive and Martha fell in love during their last year at Oxford. Both became successful, they got married and they had a child named Eliza. Unbeknownst to Martha, a dark secret mars their seemingly perfect life that has surfaced and threatens everything. Never Mind Miss Fox is not only a cautionary tale about keeping secrets and how they will only sit and fester but how past actions will always effect your future no matter how well you keep them hidden.
Never Mind Miss Fox is full of an unlikable cast of characters with Clive and Martha the most flawed of the bunch. If Clive’s odd personality won’t repel you, his past actions certainly will. Martha is introduced with emphasis on her resentment towards her daughter and the relationship she has with Clive. Neither have any positive characteristics to show for them. As time elapses, we see the changes and the continued weakening of their relationship which leads up to the reintroduction of Eliot Fox, an old friend of theirs from when they were young. She is Eliza’s new piano teacher and she quickly becomes infatuated with her yet when Pandora’s box is finally opened, everything is thrown asunder. While not the most positive examination of a family, it was still a believable portrayal.
‘How, he wondered, could something so familiar to his mind be so impossible to communicate? It was unspeakable; unsayable. Whatever words he used the meaning would not translate. He would be unintelligible. He was not equipped with the skills or the tools that he needed.’
The secret itself was easy to surmise and I kept hoping for an unexpected twist. The secret became less a part of the story and instead it became more about the after effects and the trouble it caused even after so much time had elapsed. It showed the effects on their daughter, seemingly innocent in all the drama, yet irrevocably impacted. It also showed not necessarily forgiveness but acceptance of the betrayal, and it even had an intriguing albeit unnecessary metaphor involving bats in the attic and whether they should have been disturbed at all. (Clearly, pointing out the fact that that secret had always been a part of their lives, was it truly necessary for it to be made known?) Never Mind Miss Fox didn’t possess a strong resolution but situations such as those are ones you never quite get over; they remain with you always. The strong writing makes this well-worth the read and the story will make for interesting conversation.(less)
‘The experiment are watching. You can feel them, ay. In the quiet. In the room. Wherever you are-they’re there. That’s a given. Sometimes they’re righ...more‘The experiment are watching. You can feel them, ay. In the quiet. In the room. Wherever you are-they’re there. That’s a given. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes a wee bit further away; when I want to hurt myself but I dinnae, I can always feel them then. They want me to hurt myself. They’re sick like that. What they really want is me dead.’
Anais, 15 years old, is suspected of assaulting a police officer and while the police complete their investigation she’s taken to The Panopticon for close monitoring. For being so young, Anais has led a shockingly violent life. She never met her birth mother and has been in the foster care system since she was born. Her foster mother was brutally murdered and Anais was the one to find her body. Drugs and alcohol has become par for the course with her and is the reason she can’t remember if she actually did assault that police officer. All she knows is, the tower in The Panopticon watches over everyone, always. Whether that’s simply a paranoid delusion or not remains to be seen.
‘The watchtower windows reflect the sun, and the big bug-eyes stare, and it’s totally obvious that watchtower doesnae even need staff in it; it just watches – all on its own.’
The Panopticon is a wild ride of pure insanity. A crazy combination of A Clockwork Orange, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Scottish style. The Scottish terms will seek to overwhelm you but Google is useful; use it. This story was shocking and heartbreaking, even more so when you find out it’s loosely based on the authors own personal experiences with the foster care system in Scotland. Anais may be a juvenile delinquent but she’s still got morals and that’s what makes her case so heartbreaking. She’s smart, full of wit and has hopes and dreams of living in Paris above a bakery where she’d wake up to the smell of fresh croissants. But since she doesn’t live above a bakery in Paris, she passes the time by playing the ‘Birthday Game’ where she uses her imagination to make up a different life than the one she’s currently leading.
Anais is a prime example of juvenile delinquency but she’s not the only misfit being kept at The Panopticon. There’s the girls she befriends: Isla, the HIV-positive mother of twins that cuts herself to try to rid herself of the virus and Tash, her lover who works as a prostitute in order to save up for their own flat. There are less sad-cases as well such as the boy who is bullied by everyone including the staff after he is caught raping a dog and another who burned down a special-needs school. Bottom line, this is not a pretty story, but despite its ugliness it tells the honest story of young people that are beaten down by the system that is intended to keep them safe.(less)
‘A heartbeat, a split-second’s whim, that’s all it takes to change your life forever. But what happens when you get it wrong?’
Abigail Haas has done it...more‘A heartbeat, a split-second’s whim, that’s all it takes to change your life forever. But what happens when you get it wrong?’
Abigail Haas has done it again. Dangerous Boys is one seriously twisted and convoluted tale that will have you completely enthralled. Her stories will put you under a spell, desperate for answers to eagerly sought questions. In Dangerous Boys, there is Chloe, and the brothers Ethan and Oliver. The three become complexly intertwined, irrevocably changing the makeup of each others lives. A terrible accident occurs involving the brothers and only one makes it out alive. But who survived? And what were the sequence of events that led up to that moment? These questions will exasperate you, forcing you to willingly glue yourself to the pages. The one thing you should come to expect with an Abigail Haas book though is nothing is ever as it seems.
Dangerous Boys is a deceptively simple tale of a young girl freshly out of high school who has big dreams of leaving the small town behind and experiencing life. Her life is upended when her father divorces her mother and her mother is thrown into a deep depression, leaving Chloe to take care of her and thus forcing her to put her future on hold. The story alternates between the past, before Chloe meets Ethan and Oliver, and the present, after the devastating fire. Piece by piece the story begins to form. Chloe and Ethan’s relationship, Oliver’s involvement, the jealousy and turmoil that takes place… all leading up to the accident that took the life of one of the boys.
What truly made this story shine for me was Chloe’s character. At first glance she’s just a small town girl with big city dreams but her complexity was kept hidden and begins to blossom as the story progresses. Here’s a girl that has always done what’s right, has kept her grades up in hopes of achieving her dreams. As her life begins to crumble around her and her hopes become dashed, the regret and anger over her circumstances builds. The introduction of the two boys into her life changes everything for her and breaks the mask she’s been hiding behind. We’ve all hidden behind a facade of sorts at one time or another and discovering that person that sees through all the bullshit to the very heart of you can be an enlightening and transforming experience.
Abigail Haas is a writer of mesmerizing mysteries that always keeps me second-guessing. A truly talented writer that I eagerly await more from.(less)
‘[...] I thought of him suddenly, and simply, as a boy, a child, a youth, with his whole life ahead of him, much as mine was ahead of me. I’d never d...more‘[...] I thought of him suddenly, and simply, as a boy, a child, a youth, with his whole life ahead of him, much as mine was ahead of me. I’d never done that before. And these images — the now and then of my father — converged, and at that moment he turned into a weird creature, wild, concurrently young and old, dying and newborn. My father became a myth.’
Edward Bloom is an enigma of a man that has always told only the most elaborate yet unbelievable tales of his life. He is a traveling businessman that rarely comes home, even though he has a wife and a son forever waiting for him. Being home so little forces his son, William, to put these tall tales together in his mind in the hope that his father might become less of a mystery to him. When Edward comes home to stay because he’s dying, William seeks to learn as much as he can about his father before it’s too late.
‘Beneath one facade there’s another facade and then another, and beneath that the aching dark place, his life, something that neither of us understands.’
The tall tales of the man named Edward Bloom are the very definition of far-fetched, yet being the only stories he has ever told has transformed them into a type of myth thus transforming him into an inspiring hero of his own making. He’s encountered a giant and a two-headed Japanese geisha. He’s rode on the back of a giant catfish and explored an underwater town. There have been river-girls and all-seeing glass eyes and even a time when he saved a little girl from certain death by ripping out the very heart of a wild dog. Each piece of his life is told episodically but not always chronologically and serves only to heighten the mystery.
‘When a man’s stories are remembered, then he is immortal.’
William’s insistence on discovering the true nature of his father never amounts to much as Edward continues to shroud himself in his stories steeped in fantasy. But it ultimately becomes unnecessary anyways. Magical realism runs rampant in this tale, yet at the heart of the story it’s simply about the unconditional love between a father and son.(less)
'There was something magical about an island – the mere word suggested fantasy. You lost touch with the world-an island was a world of its own. A wor...more'There was something magical about an island – the mere word suggested fantasy. You lost touch with the world-an island was a world of its own. A world, perhaps, from which you might never return.’
Ten people arrive at Soldier Island after receiving invitations from various acquaintances convincing them to make the trip. The island has been much talked about recently after some confusion over who owns it so everyone is intrigued to find out the answer to that question. Everyone seemingly has nothing in common with one another until an announcement booms through the house on the first night from a gramophone bringing each persons secret to light. By the end of that first night, one person has died. After a search has been conducted of the island, the rest of the guests come to the realization that they’re the only ones on that island and that the murderer must be among the nine remaining guests.
Agatha Christie is the prolific author known as the “Queen of Crime” and the “Master of Misdirection”. I have no idea what took me so long to pick up anything of hers, being such a long time fan of mysteries in general, but And Then There Were None was the perfect first choice.
Ten little Soldier boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little Soldier boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little Soldier boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little Soldier boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six little Soldier boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little Soldier boys going in for law; One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little Soldier boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little Soldier boys walking in the zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two Little Soldier boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one.
One little Soldier boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.
The guests find the above nursery rhyme that has been framed on the wall curious. As well as the ten little soldier figurines that stand on the dining room table. Each subsequent death results in the realization that the deaths are not only following the nursery rhyme (the first individual died after choking on what appeared to be cyanide) but with each death a soldier figurine is mysteriously removed from the table. While it seems unlikely that the murderer would have been able to plan accordingly in order to remain a mystery and still kill, following the nursery rhyme perfectly, the impossibility was expertly erased by the authors exhilarating storytelling ability. Each person begins to suspect one another until there isn’t anyone left to trust, even the reader is continually left in the dark as to the perpetrator. Just when you think you’ve caught on to what’s going on, Christie is bound to throw a wrench into your theories. I loved this book and loved the constant guessing game and will no doubt be picking up many more Agatha Christie novels in the future.(less)
'[...] the mind can work to suppress traumatic experiences, and I suppose that is true, but sometimes I think the failure to remember is not so much...more'[...] the mind can work to suppress traumatic experiences, and I suppose that is true, but sometimes I think the failure to remember is not so much a pathological tendency as a natural consequence of necessity [...]'
Grace Winter and her new husband Henry are traveling across the Atlantic to New York on the Empress Alexandra when a mysterious explosion sinks the ship. Grace manages to obtain a spot on a lifeboat but her husband was not and she presumes he is dead. The story begins though, with Grace no longer in the lifeboat, saved after 21 days at sea, but currently on trial for murder.
Being stranded in the middle of the Atlantic is a horrifying enough though but The Lifeboat’s extreme focus on the suffering and the change in mentality that the individuals undergo truly make you wonder if earning a spot on that lifeboat was actually a blessing. We learn the details of what occurred on the lifeboat from Grace directly, as she’s been instructed to do by her lawyer in an attempt to find someway of exonerating her. Grace is a deceptively simple woman that is actually far more manipulative than I think anyone gave her credit for. Her sense of self preservation is strong and when rehashing the sequence of events which took place on the lifeboat, she always finds a way to reinterpret her actions so as to always come out ‘right’. As you learn more of her story, you’ll begin to start questioning her actions and realize how unreliable a narrator she has been the entire time.
"...was bluish-black and rolled past us like an unending herd of whales. The lifeboat alternately rose high on their broad backs and slid down into the deep depressions between them. Above, clouds hurtled through the sky before the wind…. I shivered, and for the first time since the day of the shipwreck, I felt profoundly afraid. We were doomed."
The traumatic situation these individuals found themselves in was only made worse as time progressed and the rapid reduction of food and water quantities only succeeded in speeding up the hysteria. Fear begins warping mentalities and speculations arise creating more danger inside the boat than the sea itself. This story of survival is fascinating and appalling, but put in a similar situation who knows what lengths you would go to in order to ensure your own survival?(less)