The House

Title: The House

Author: Simon Lelic

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 340 pages | 3075 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Premise:
Jack and Sydney move in to the perfect London house. A house where they can see themselves growing older.
But why was it so easy to get it? What secrets does the house hold? And what about their mysterious neighbours?

Review:

The House had quite a peculiar narrative style. Jack and Sydney, our main characters, are also our narrators. They write the story as a way of coping with the grisly events they have faced as well as figure out what to do next. It is almost a form of couple therapy too, since they end up writing as much to each other as to the one they want to read the manuscript. The narrative evolves at first as you would expect from someone who is not used to writing, gradually becoming more cohesive and culminating in a chilling diary for both parts.

The House was extremely enthralling. I could not bring myself to put it down and ended up reading it in two sittings, several hours past my usual time to turn in.

There were a few things I am still not sold on. I needed to know why a man would hate his children so much – thirst for control is not nearly enough to cut it for me because he was just plain malevolent and considering I read and watch a lot of profiling stuff I don’t remember coming across anything quite like this. I think that when Syd mentions her therapists would be a great opportunity to insert some relevant researched information about what would make someone tick like that.

Some things felt like plot devices to make the story move along a certain way, that the characters came across certain information only later on to cause the plot twists. For example, Jack not asking for Evan’s future contact since he basically told him he would be moving. Or Syd’s dismissal of her mother’s attitude towards the picture. I don’t get why she didn’t remove it from the frame then since it was obvious her mother knew that person and expected Sydney to know her too. And I feel that the owner leaving absolutely everything behind was not realistic at all – he should at least have taken some personal items that meant more to him; that was just too convenient.

Other than those things, this was a superbly written book featuring very real, vulnerable characters struggling to find happiness. Even if at first I did not like Syd’s voice (she came across as a wee bit bitchy and implicative), she grew on me and I felt all characters were pretty well developed, even the secondary ones.

The House is an utterly amazing read that will surely have you glued to the screen/pages, flipping them as fast as you can.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Feb 26h to Feb 27th, 2017
GR Review

The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of My Mother

Rating: 4.5/5

From IMDB:
A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life.

Review:

Boy, am I glad I watched this in daytime.

To say The Eyes of My Mother was chilling is a gross understatement. To think that a child could evolve into something that morbid is absolutely terrifying and even though this is fiction it definitely had me wondering about all sorts of things.

The fact that the film is entirely shown in black and white added to the isolated and grisly atmosphere. The sounds, especially the wind, had much the same effect. And the way the scenes were filmed, following Francisca around, emphasised her gracefulness in all movements, regardless of whether affection or horror inducing.

Being Portuguese, it bothered me that the mother and child characters did not speak the language well, especially when the grown Francisca was obviously native. However, they were both amazing and I only wish I could have seen more interaction between them.

From then on, most of what happens is very disturbing but also very subtle, requiring you to use your imagination to fill in the gaps. I had not even grasped that Francisca’s mother had died until a couple of scenes later. However, there is also plenty of gore, even if muted thanks to the B&W, and the result of this delicate balance is a gruesome film that I am so glad I managed to watch, as it is truly special. There is such a psychological depth to this movie, and a perfect balance between macabre and normalcy that I never knew was possible in a horror film.

Even if not perfect plotwise, The Eyes of My Mother will surely stay with me for a long time. It is one of the few I can safely say I would like to watch again.

Now let’s just hope I won’t have any nightmares tonight.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Author: Oscar Wilde

Genres: Horror | Magical Realism

Length: 165 pages

Source: Purchased

Format: Paperback

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

After meeting Lord Henry Wooton, young Dorian Gray engages in a self-destructive lifestyle.
If only his picture, an unparalleled work of art, could take the consequences instead of his youthful body…

Review:

The Picture of Dorian Gray is quite a work of art. From that first chapter I was enraptured, and I found the way our main character and his picture were introduced quite ingenious.
The main characters were quite entrancing, particularly Sir Henry Wooton.

However, at times I found it too philosophic, particularly after halfway or so. Sir Henry’s lines that I had previously enjoyed became overbearing, and the long flowery descriptions about perfumes, jewels, music and christian artefacts caused my attention to wander, making the book’s meagre 165 pages stretch on and on.

Also, I found characters repeatedly telling Sir Henry that he did not really believe what he was saying annoying after a point, and I found myself thinking that there was much talk of sins being committed but not much was shown in that sense. Though I appreciate the level of subtlety throughout the story, I believe further descriptions along those lines would have helped me form a better image of the de-evolution of Dorian Gray.

There is so much more to The Picture of Dorian Gray than a magical painting. Even though the ending was predictable I still think it is worth reading and contemplating. And it is quite amazing how contemporary this theme is, in a society which obsesses over youth and beauty more and more.

Read from Feb 22nd to Feb 26th, 2016

GR Review

Rings

Rings

Rating: 3/5

From IMDB:
A young woman finds herself on the receiving end of a terrifying curse that threatens to take her life in seven days.

Review:

Rings was a pretty solid horror movie. It would have been a lot better had the original ones not come first. As a remake it is not that good because at least the american version was extremely scary (I didn’t watch the original, original one). There were many reasons why it was so terrifying; in part because you just could not escape, also because it was pure evil, and because there was no chance to explain said evil.
Here it all changes.

Still, Lutz and Roe make a good couple and despite the several plot holes it can be quite entertaining.

Also, it was great to see Johnny Galecki in a more serious performance, I think he did absolutely amazing. And the role of his character in the story was quite intriguing.

I do have to mention that, once again, I have a big issue with the trailer. I am pretty sure a couple of scenes were not featured in the movie and that it did not portray accurately what happens there, showing scenes in the beginning that only show at the end of the film.

All in all, Rings is certainly no masterpiece, but it has its moments.

Stacking The Shelves [3] February 25th

sts3

Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga’s Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

This week I received three books by post, one via Blogging for Books and got one on Amazon via Bookbub.


Amazon

It Came from the Diaper Pail (Dog Eat Doug #2) by Brian Anderson

It Came from the Diaper Pail (Dog Eat Doug #2)
by Brian Anderson

I found this through Bookbub and it seemed just what I needed as a palate cleanser – a light, fun comic.

Blogging for Books ARC

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls
by Amy Engel

I was so excited to find this on Blogging for Books because my request had been denied on Netgalley. I can’t wait to dig in! It sounds very dark but enthralling.


Order by Post

img_20170224_170409.jpg

I got these three from Book Depository. They were all on sale and the premises seemed so intriguing that I just could not resist. They arrived yesterday and are just so lovely! It is such a shame that the picture does not make the covers justice.

Slade House by David Mitchell is a gorgeous hardcover that seems to be a perfect blend of fantasy and horror, which is right up my alley.

I did not know that Do Not Disturb by A.R. Torre was a sequel when I bought it, I hope it won’t be an issue. Classified as an erotic thriller, I felt it was yet again time to try something different, so we’ll see how that goes.

The Primrose Path by Rebecca Griffiths should be an exciting psychological thriller and I look forward to reading it.


And that’s it for this week!
Have you read any of these or do you plan to?

Are you excited about reading any particular books you got this week?
Please comment below!

Toni Erdmann

Toni Erdmann

Premise:

From IMDB:
A practical joking father tries to reconnect with his hard working daughter by creating an outrageous alter ego and posing as her CEO’s life coach.

Review:

Maybe I went into this with too high expectations but the fact is I was not sold on the direction the film took. I had expected there would be slow moments but not that many and not for such lengths at a time. I had also expected more interaction between father and daughter.

Still, Toni Erdmann is very special. It’s amazing to what great lengths a father will go to help his daughter. I could say there were many unexpected scenes but the fact is, to me, the entire movie was unexpected. Both characters never seemed to do what I thought they would and that was a great feeling.

From that opening scene I could see this would be a special movie if only I could stand the slow pace. Even though at the time I kept wondering how long till it was over, the more I think about it the more I like it and think about all the issues subtly approached there.

All performances were terrific, even the supporting ones. I am still in awe at the amount of realities portrayed in this movie and how genuine they felt. They spanned cultures, social status, age, etc, etc. And then there are all the other issues addressed, besides the obvious one of whether we are happy. There’s work, family and friends relationships; the struggle of a woman to be seen as equal in her workplace; casual relationships, never getting attached; globalisation, outsourcing and everything it entails; what you are willing to do to achieve your goals and so, so much more. It is such a deep movie.

I really wish it had been further edited, though. It would have had more of an impact, at least on me.

I am not going to rate this one as I feel I would be doing it a disservice.

See What I Have Done

Title: See What I Have Done

Author: Sarah Schmidt

Genres: Crime | Historical Fiction

Length: 324 pages | 3368 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 1.75/5

 

Premise:
On the morning of August 4th 1892 Lizzie Borden cries Someone’s killed Father.
As we go through Lizzie’s fractured memories, as well as three other people’s entries, we try to figure out what exactly happened to Mr Borden.

Review:

Boy, I struggled with this one. At first I thought it was because I am not very used to Historical Fiction and the little I read the prose was not quite so lyrical and random, so I took it as a challenge to read something different and try to enjoy it. However, the more I read the less invested I felt.

I have read quite a lot of books where the narrative jumps back and forth and if done well it adds a new dimension to the story and I feel very involved in it, wanting to know what happened both back then and present day. But here it was just confusing. There are a lot of flashbacks in the middle of chapters so even when they were dated I never knew what was going on or when. One minute a character is having a pretty straight thought, then she thinks of something else and there’s paragraphs and paragraphs of that and by the time that was done I had to really make an effort to remember what she was doing before and catch the thread of the narrative again.

The prose could be absolutely enthralling. Some descriptions were extremely vivid, reaching out to all our five senses and making me feel like I was there. On a couple of occasions where things got pretty gross I was actually sick to my stomach. But good writing is just not enough when nothing much seems to happen and it gets really tiring after a while. Sure, the characters were peculiar and the writing was very good, but after a while that is just not enough.

To this day I don’t get why people kept eating a stew that was obviously spoiled. It felt like they had it for days but then again maybe it was just that one day.

And the worst part is I could not even get closure. The more the book approached the end the more enigmatic and riddled with innuendo the prose got. I never got how Bridget got her money back after it had been confiscated by the police, what was in the mutton broth and if it really was Lizzie who put it there and especially what happened to Abby and Mr Borden. There is only a half-hallucination by Lizzie about her father’s last moments but nothing concrete.

I was extremely disappointed at See What I Have Done. I do think others will enjoy it if they are okay with this prose and not getting closure at the end of the book. It’s one of those I classify under read it for the journey, not the destination, although I am sure even the ending will please folks who love lyrical writing.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Feb 17h to Feb 21st, 2017
GR Review