As much as I hate to admit it, I think I might actually like buying books more than reading them. That’s the only logical reasoning I can come up with as to why, even though my bookshelves are overflowing, would I continue to let myself pick more than one book for my Book of the Month boxes. Don’t worry, I’m giving myself a very stern talking to sometime in the near future.
The February Book of the Month picks included not one but three books from debut authors. Personally, I don’t usually pick books just because an author wrote one thing I enjoyed in the past. I’m much more interested in the story line. While I say that, I’m currently working on some features for my ‘Author’s Corner’, where I’ll be talking about my favorite authors, many of whom I do go out of my way to find out if they’ve written anything new. Sometimes I know I’m two completely different people, get it together Allie! Anyways, as an aspiring author myself, I do really enjoy reading debut novels. I always feel that the first novel an author writes, is the rawest novel they’ll ever write, and I love that. So without further ado the February Book of the Month picks included:
On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’ follow up novel to The Hate You Give. I already had a few heavier books on my February TBR list (which you can see HERE!) so I decided to pass on this one for now. I actually already had ordered Early Riser so that was immediately taken out of the equations. That left me with three stellar options for my February box. Normally I’d just get all three but since I’m trying to show some level of control I only allowed myself to get two. I ended up going with The Winter Sister and The Age of Light. Mainly because I’m a sucker for my favorite genres, thriller and historical fiction. But I’ve still been eyeing A Woman is No Man, so don’t be shocked if you see me reading that soon.
With February still technically being a winter month and my undying love of a good thriller encouraging me, I decided to go ahead put The Winter Sister as my token BOTM pick on my reading list this month; which is what my February Book of the Month Review is all about.
Title: The Winter Sister
Author: Megan Collins
Published: February 5th 2019 by Touchstone
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Stars
“Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.
In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.
As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.”
Okay, so I guess it’s the month of reading and reflecting on all the things I’ve done with, said to, and over analyzing the relationships I have with my sisters; because I’ve read so many books about sister relationships this month. At this point, honestly, I need a break from books about sisters. Don’t get me wrong I love my sisters, and I’m about to get two more from my fiancé, but sisters are a lot to handle sometimes. (If one of my sisters is reading this, not you, you’re a sweet angel).
I was really into this book until about page 252. I know because I generally mark the page of my first eye roll in every book I read. Too many eye rolls in the next 25 pages and the book does not get finished. However, there were only a grand total of three eye rolls in this book, so it was safe.
Let’s start from the top shall we. Sylvie has just turned 30 and she’s your typical young adult struggling to find her calling in life protagonist. Except that she’s still reeling from the unsolved murder of her sister Persephone fifteen years ago. She’s unemployed and has for most of her life been avoiding her problems. Sounds harsh, I know but as I’ve continued to think about this book, Sylvie has just started to annoy me. She basically uses her sisters death as the excuse for all her problems now. And I’ll give her that that isn’t a tiny issue to address or work through but she hasn’t even tired to move past it.
Yikes, okay back to the story line rather than my angst.
On her 30th birthday, Sylvie finds out her mother has been diagnosed with cancer, and she’s needed back home to help her through treatments. Prior to Persephone’s death, Sylvie and her mother share a special bond which is in stark contrast to their relationship today. Sylvie hasn’t even spoken to her mother in two years and her mother, Annie, is a raging alcoholic who shut out Sylvie immediately following Persephone’s death. Being forced back together isn’t exactly what either of them would consider a ‘good time’. Drama ensues.
Almost immediately after her return Sylvie starts to investigate her sister’s murder herself, because who has heard that’s a good idea, right? She ends up running into her sister’s ex boyfriend, who she has long accused of being the murdering. She let’s her emotions get in the way (typical) and then we get a small plot twist with a character named Tommy Dent, who quite honestly is probably my favorite character. He has a couple of loose nuts in his head and he’s a stalker, but the way he laughs at the entire situation, sort of makes me laugh, which I like. Past that, I won’t spoil the ending by saying who the murderer is but the story predictable.
The thing I did really enjoy in this book though is that Collin’s writing is very well done and she writes beautifully. I love the names and the reasoning being names she’s gives. I think she capture the family’s dynamic to a T, especially the relationships that sisters tend to have with one and other. The main piece that she illustrates is how siblings often think they’re the sibling being treated unfairly for whatever reason. I think that all the time, why are my parents so hard on me? Why do they let her get away with everything? I’m an adult still thinking this and I’ll bet you anything my sisters think the same things about me. But we tend to see only what we want to see, not just in terms of relationships but also in so many aspects of life. We’re only one side, when a story has two sides. Collins really captured that struggle, I believe siblings have and for that she get’s brownie points from me.
The last thing she gets point from me from is her shear depictions of guilty and how it impacts survivors in cases such as this one. I like that she was able to emphasize that the only people that should ever feel guilty or guilt for crimes are the actual people who commit them. I think that most people tend to play the ‘what if’ game in these situations, which can leave them feeling empty, unable to move on, and emotionally drained. But as humans we have to continuously be moving forward, and I appreciate that Collins highlights, the need to not place guilt on anyone except those who committed the acts.
I really wanted to like this book and I did for 2/3th of it, but there were so many clique’s towards the end that really hurt the story line for me. Maybe ‘clique’ isn’t the correct word for it, but I wasn’t surprised by the murderer, I’m more angry about Sylvie’s constant self loathing, how Ben is not freaking out more is beyond me (I can’t say why because spoilers), and seriously who is paying for all of Annie’s chemo treatments?
Before page 252, I was ready to give this book at least ★★★★. But honestly the plot line was just too tired and overused by basically ever other thriller writer out there, for me to do that. However, I know I don’t normally do partial stars but I did really enjoy this book for 251 pages and for that I had to give it at least three and half stars. If you are interested in reading the book get it HERE!
For those who haven’t heard of Book of the Month club or BOTM, it is a subscription program, similar to audible or other box subscription services, where you get (you guessed it) a new book every month. Each month members are given 5 different books to choose from. BOTM generally focusing on debut and emerging writers, and is known for having helped launch the careers of some of the most acclaimed authors in American literary history. In an attempt to read more books outside my favorite genres without having to siphon through all the duds, I decided to sign up for the monthly subscriptions. It costs me $14.99 per month, I choose 1 of the 5 books on the first of every month, and it’s delivered straight to my door. You can skip any month or roll your credits over to the next month, at any time. Since I started getting BOTM in 2018, I’ve really enjoyed some of the new authors I’ve been exposed to. If you’re interested in joining BOTM, I’ve added my referral code to the bottom of this post, which if you use, you’ll be able to get your first month (book) free!
Interested in joining Book of the Month? Get a free book when you join using my referral link.