Book Review: Gone Too Long

Gone Too Long by Lori Roy

“This electrifying novel…[is] a gripping mystery with a timely, unnerving message–you won’t be able to look away.”
People, “Book of the Week”
“A book so good you can’t look away.”
O Magazine, “Best Books of Summer”

Two-time Edgar Award-winning author Lori Roy entangles readers in a heart-pounding tale of two women battling for survival against a century’s worth of hate.

On the day a black truck rattles past her house and a Klan flyer lands in her front yard, ten-year-old Beth disappears from her Simmonsville, Georgia, home. Armed with skills honed while caring for an alcoholic mother, she must battle to survive the days and months ahead.

Seven years later, Imogene Coulter is burying her father–a Klan leader she has spent her life distancing herself from–and trying to escape the memories his funeral evokes. But Imogene is forced to confront secrets long held by Simmonsville and her own family when, while clearing out her father’s apparent hideout on the day of his funeral, she finds a child. Young and alive, in an abandoned basement, and behind a door that only locks from the outside.

As Imogene begins to uncover the truth of what happened to young Beth all those years ago, her father’s heir apparent to the Klan’s leadership threatens her and her family. Driven by a love that extends beyond the ties of blood, Imogene struggles to save a girl she never knew but will now be bound to forever, and to save herself and those dearest to her. Tightly coiled and chilling, Gone Too Long ensnares, twists, and exposes the high price we are willing to pay for the ones we love.

Review:
This book captivated me from page one. I’ll admit it was slow at times, but it was still griping.
Imogene’s father is a Klan leader, and though she does not follow the Klan’s beliefs, the rest of her family does. She is struggling after her husband and son were killed in an accident. After her father’s death she finds a child being kept in her father’s secret hideout.
This is also the story of Beth, who was kidnapped and held for years by a Klan member.
We spend a lot of time in each of these women’s heads as they struggle to cope with their situations. These are both strong women who, while being vulnerable, do what they need to do to survive. The characters were very well developed and I was so anxious for them, turning the pages to find out how their stories would turn out. There was almost a psychological thriller aspect to the whole thing.
The narrative is also interspersed with pages about the history of the Ku Klux Klan, which is fascinating and definitely adds to the story. The author clearly did her research as the parts about the Klan felt authentic.
Overall, this book is harrowing, gripping, and timely. I found the writing compelling and the author did an amazing job with her ambitious mandate.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus

The Traveling Triple-C Incorporeal Circus by Alanna McFall

Chelsea is determined to make it to her brother’s wedding. And she’s not going to let the fact that she’s been dead for two years stop her.
Joining with her mime friend from a New York City park and her ghostly mentor with forty years of afterlife under her belt, the three women set out on foot for San Francisco. Along the way, they are faced with joy, sorrow, and the haunting surprises of the open road. This humorous and lightly macabre journey explores relationships, personal burdens, and what it means to keep moving, even when your heartbeat has stopped.
Review:
I loved this book. It was such a fun, interesting, and unique read.
Chelsea is a ghost and is friends with other ghosts in New York City, but has a ghostly best friend and mentor called Carmen. There is one woman, Cyndricka, who can see ghosts, but is a mute mime who communicates with sign language. The 3 decide to walk to San Francisco so that Chelsea can attend her brother’s wedding.
There is so much that happens along the way that bring out issues of relationship and family, forgiveness, life purpose, and what stops us. All 3 women need to learn to come to terms with issues from their past in order to move on. There are also tense moments involving both human and supernatural predators that the 3 women need to overcome.
The character development was great and felt authentic. I felt so much for all 3 women and wanted the best for them so badly. And the writing and descriptions were terrific and engaging, keeping me turning the pages.
I love how McFall dealt with big issues, but in a sensitive way. There is a lesbian character, but she is simply gay and it is one part of her character. Homelessness and how people are treated is also tackled, as is racism. Binding all of these big issues together is friendship and loyalty and purpose. It was interesting to explore these women looking back on their lives and deciding what was important and what wasn’t, and what paths to take in the future.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: The Dream House

The Dream House by Jess Ryder

It’s everything she’s ever wanted …

When I first set eyes on Westhill House with its breath-taking views of the sea I knew Jack and I could make this our forever home.

It may be falling apart with an overgrown garden, but with some tender loving care, we can repair this beautiful building and perhaps our relationship too …

But the more time I spend renovating our new house, the more time Jack is spending at work.

At least Lori is here to keep me company.

She has her own troubles yet she always listens to mine.

She’s helping to restore the house, uncovering its secrets one by one.

Like the children’s drawings under the wallpaper in the back bedroom.

The hidden papers underneath the floorboards in the turret room.

And the fact that Westhill House is a place women used to go to feel safe …

Lori seems to know a lot about Westhill House.

The question is, why?

A gripping, spine-chilling read brimming with secrets and lies. If you loved The Girl on the Train, The Wife Between Us or The Woman in the Window then this dark, twisting psychological thriller from Amazon chart bestseller Jess Ryder is guaranteed to have you gripped.
Previously titled THE GUEST.

Review:
Ryder does a wonderful job in this domestic thriller about Stella, who finds her dream house and is fixing it up only to have her whole life unravel in the process.
The story is told from Stella’s point of view (in the present), and Kay’s (in the past). The house that Stella buys was once a woman’s refuge and it’s history becomes a part of the story, almost like it is another character.
When Lori appears on her doorstep one night, an obviously abused woman who believes the house is still a refuge, Stella takes her in, wanting to do the right thing. But we soon learn that something is not quite right as the story of the house past and present unfold in a chilling way.
This was a real page-turner and I was anxious to find out Stella’s, Lori’s, and Kay’s stories. There are secrets and lies, great twists, and anxious moments in this well written psychological thriller.
One of the major themes of the book is domestic violence and Ryder is very respectful and does a great job in her portrayal. She even explains at the end how she was careful not to put in anything gratuitous and even includes references for women needing support themselves.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: The Return of King Lillian

The Return of King Lillian by Suzie Plakson

The Return of King Lillian is a mythic journey tale – a metaphysical fantasy for dreamers and nonconformists of all ages.

So, why the manly moniker in tandem with the womanly name?

“The Firstborn Child of The Emperor-King Inherits the Ruling Crown, the Title of Emperor-King and All Powers Thereof.” (Item 37, The Royal Manual)

Enter Lillian, the firstborn child of said Emperor-King. Cast out of her Kingdom by malevolent forces, mysteriously waylaid by Destiny, the spirited, self-reliant Lillian sets off on an exuberant journey to find her way home and claim her birthright. As she travels through marvelous and mystical lands in search of her origins, Lillian encounters and befriends a kaleidoscopic cast of characters. Most of the tale is told by Lillian herself, as she chronicles her extraordinary adventures.

Review:
This is a fun story about Lillian, who doesn’t know who she is and is on a quest to find her home, and these are her adventures.
This book is told in a fairy tale like way, full of imagination, magic, talking horses, and fairies. It is reminiscent of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for its childlike stories that speak to a larger audience.
Each of the chapters is another adventure and something that Lillian must learn to become the person she needs to be at the end. Lillian herself is, for the most part, a good character, and I enjoyed Hank, the horse.
I did find the book a bit slow at times and, I hate to say it, didn’t love the ending. First there was the idea that she enjoyed being a damsel in distress and and was happy being saved by a man (even though she had been a strong, take care of herself kind of character up until this point and this wish was joltingly strange), and then there was the idealization of her father who actually had treated her quite badly.
Overall, this is a cute book and I can see why many people like it, but, ultimately, it was not for me.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy.
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