Day: April 3, 2017

Review: Abigale Hall

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Abigale Hall
Abigale Hall by Lauren A. Forry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars to Lauren A. Forry‘s Abigale Hall, a mystery and suspense novel I received via NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you to both for this opportunity, as I enjoyed the book and have posted a review below.


Story

Rebecca, 12, and Eliza, 17, are orphaned sisters in 1940’s London shortly after the end of WWII, their mother dying from the German Blitz and their father committing suicide after several issues post-war. The girls were awarded to their Aunt Bess, who could barely afford to keep herself above water due to a gambling problem. When she can’t take it anymore, Bess sells them to an elderly man in Wales who needs help around his estate. Rebecca seems to suffer from some emotional problems and needs constant supervision, while Eliza was hoping for a proposal from Peter.
Eliza could live on her own, but won’t let her sister be alone; and then they are both forced to leave without any notification to any friends.

When the sisters arrive, they are taken to Mrs. Pollard who runs the estate; however, both girls quickly learn they will be mistreated far worse than they had been by their Aunt Bess. Eliza begins to hear stories about several missing girls over the last 30 years — who once worked at the estate — but vanished under mysterious circumstances. As Eliza looks out for Rebecca, Rebecca begins to grow more sick and is eventually taken away by Mrs. Pollard to the hospital to get better. Eliza finally meets the master, Mr. Brownewell, who comes from a long line of very peculiar men; however, he seems to carry his own tarnish, as the townspeople suspect he killed his fiancee nearly 30 years ago when he thought she was looking at another man in the wrong way.

Eliza tries to keep things status quo as she searches for the answers, but soon discovers she cannot trust anyone. Eliza also begins to hear and see the ghost of Victoria, Mr. Brownewell’s late fiancee, roaming the halls, claiming to have stolen all the missing girls. Meanwhile, Peter realizes that Eliza has been kidnapped and tries to find her, but many people — all caught up in the macabre game being played — stand in his way, nearly killing him a few times. When he finally finds Eliza, he steps right into a trap set by the villain behind the entire Gothic horror. But who is it? And who will survive…


Strengths

The characters are vivid and intense. And there aren’t a tremendous amount of them, which certainly helps make it a good story. You’ve got Eliza and Rebecca who are the sisters dealing with the situation. Their Aunt Bess plays a role in the send off to Wales. Peter is chasing after Eliza. Peter’s got 3 or 4 people he interacts with on his search. And in Abigale Hall, there are 3 or 4 characters who help run the estate. Plus the ghost or not-so-dead Victoria (you will have to read to find out)!

The estate, Thornecroft, is a beautiful setting but has a ruthless charm about it. Abigale Hall is one of the main rooms / areas, well described, but keeps you guessing whether it’s a good or a bad place to be. The concept of ghosts is used intricately and constantly keeps readers wondering whether or not the characters are loopy or really seeing what they think they are seeing. It helps you stay focused and want to keep reading each chapter to figure it out.


Suggestions

I thought the book was a little longer than it needed to be. It wasn’t repetitive, but at times it felt a little too drawn out. I assume it’s to build the fear factor and the thrill of the chase; however, at times, you want to skim a few sections just to see how far the author was going to take each of the scenes. With a little more editing and focus on key word replacements, I think it could have really put the fear in a few more readers.

All of the characters were just mean. Maybe that’s how it was in the 1940s after the war and in England, but I felt like I just wanted to smack several of them for the way they treated each other; and I’m not even counting the villains in the book. Even the ones who were friends or even just acquaintances felt like they had a bit of a nasty tone about them. It could be totally realistic, but it was a bit of a turn off for me.


Comparisons

At many points in the novel, I kept thinking about the direct comparison to Daphne du Maurier‘s novel Rebecca, and that’s not considering both books have a main character named Rebecca. Both books have sprawling estates with a Gothic haunting ghost; Rebecca has Manderley and Abigale Hall has Plentynunig’s Thornecroft. Both have a very menacing but possibly innocent caretaker. Let’s see a rumble between Mrs. Pollard and Mrs. Danvers!

There are some interesting themes about shoes in this book that made me think of the Wizard of Oz witches… between Dorothy’s shoes and the legs of the witch underneath the home that crashed into Oz, you can’t help but see the comparison when one of the characters in Abigale Hall ends up with a head in the oven and nothing hanging out but a pair of legs.

Plus, both the sisters have trouble with their shoes the entire book. Was a little odd!

Not to mention Hansel and Gretel pushing the witch in the oven. So many re-appropriations of fairy tales could be seen.


Final Thoughts

I’m glad I read the book, and there were definitely parts full of horror the creepy factor. I was hoping for a bit more macabre, and the end certainly brings some intensity and major crazy… but it should have pushed the envelope a bit more to truly be a horror book. It’s a good read, but I didn’t think “wow, this is an awesome and scary book.” I’d read another one by this author as the writing flowed well and created memorable characters. But give me something even more gruesome next time!

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Why do I review books? (Seriously!)

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To read article, click here on the original source: Why do I review books? (Seriously!)

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

 

365 Challenge: Day 22 – Lister

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Lister: a person who typically enjoys creating a number of connected items or names written or printed consecutively, usually one below the other

When I climbed upon my favorite seat on the sofa this morning, to of course begin drafting today’s post, I was a bit distracted at first. After all, it’s Monday, the beginning to a new week… and I didn’t have a list of tasks or things I needed to accomplish. I suddenly felt a bit worried; how will I be effective this week? And that’s when it hit me… I’m a lister! So I searched for the definition and partially to my surprise (partially of course because I was an English major and I am a writer who should know better, tho I do make-up words from time to time… oh, I am way off topic…), the word “lister” is not real! But how do I describe someone who enjoys creating lists and getting things completed in an orderly fashion in just one word. Hence, I am coining my own term for today: LISTER — and the definition is a compilation of a few that I found for “lists” and “creator.”

We all create lists at some point. And to be fair, I’ll even ignore this generally being a required exercise during school and/or work. I’m strictly talking as a way of doing things in our personal lives.

  • Some people only do it when they absolutely have to accomplish a lot and need a “checklist” to ensure they complete everything.
  • Others create the “bucket list” of things to accomplish before they die
  • And some note items they need to pickup at the grocery store or while out shopping

And we’ve all heard of different types of necessary lists:

  • Phone and Address
  • Birthday
  • Santa’s Nice or Naughty — NO *gif* for you… imagine your own video here!
  • PCMASH
    • Do you remember this one? We all did this as kids. You write 6 names of something and then count down until you cross everything out except for 1 of the remaining names, and that will be your future, e.g.
      • P = Penthouse
      • C = Condo
      • M = Mash
      • A = Apartment
      • S = Shack
      • H = House
    • And that’s where you’ll live. But you have about 10 categories to tell your future, e.g. spouse, city, job, # of kids, age to die, etc.
    • Please tell me I’m not the only one!!!

But then there are those of us that are just insane about creating lists for everything. Like me!

  • I write lists each morning of what I need to accomplish. Sometimes I put the expected amount of time, the best order to complete, etc.
  • I draft lists for due dates for inane things that only I care about.
  • I create lists to keep track of who paid for drinks / lunch / dinner / coffee so that when I see them again, I know whose turn it is to pay!

What’s common across all these lists? The feeling I get when I scratch off each item and reduce the remaining tasks. Except… I’m excited, not exicted. Who screwed that up below?

I began wondering why people like lists and went to the NewYorker magazine to find out.  For the full article, check out the link below. But the gist of it said:

“The article-as-numbered-list has several features that make it inherently captivating: the headline catches our eye in a stream of content; it positions its subject within a pre-existing category and classification system, like “talented animals”; it spatially organizes the information; and it promises a story that’s finite, whose length has been quantified upfront. Together, these create an easy reading experience, in which the mental heavy lifting of conceptualization, categorization, and analysis is completed well in advance of actual consumption”

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/a-list-of-reasons-why-our-brains-love-lists

So what have I learned about myself today? A number of things. I like lists for the following reasons — in alphabetical order — numbered — cleanly for the eyes to see. Lists are:

  1. Accomplished
  2. Captivating
  3. Categorized
  4. Finite
  5. Numerical
  6. Orderly
  7. Spatial

And therefore it is time to go make a list for this week’s things to do. And my bucket list. I should have one of those. I do not. When’s my due date? PLEASE TELL ME!!!! Or I’ll ask Oprah.