The Teacher’s Secret

Title: The Teacher’s Secret

Author: Suzanne Leal

Genres: Contemporary | Mystery

Length: 432 pages | 5472 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Legend Press

Publishing Date: May 15th, 2017

Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

A new year begins at Brindle Public School, which has a new acting principal. This change will bring about the unravelling of several characters, who will see their secrets exposed.

Review:

The Teacher’s Secret was tough to get into. There were so many characters that I could never remember who was who anymore. Let’s just say I was happy to have read this on my Kindle, where I could do a quick search to remind me. But yes, I did not find it very engaging and was beginning to wonder if I would finish it before the end of the month.

Not only are there a lot of characters but also many perspectives, too many. I think we follow at least 5 or 6 characters as main ones, learning about who they were, their routines and the people in their lives. I found that very exhausting and several of them did not add anything to the story.

Rebecca for instance, as well as her family and background, are utterly pointless to the narrative. Don’t get me wrong, I thought her characterisation was very well done and think she would be fine in a separate book, not just this one. As it is, it feels that the character was added to the book just so the author could write about what she knows (she specialises in refugee law) and to provide a twist that is not even related to the story.

Not remembering who was who for a big enough part of the read, aligned with the fact that nothing interesting actually happened, often caused my attention to drift. The events mentioned in the blurb do not take place until well after half of the book (and I feel cheated in that sense, I hate spoilers) and the ending is quite abrupt. The big teacher’s secret is anti-climatic and there really isn’t anything I could hang on to.
I almost wish Terry really had turned out to be a paedophile so that Laurie’s character had not been made so closed-minded and really one-dimensional, and we had had some form of twist to make it all worth while.

The strength of this book is the portrayal of a small coastal town, which is quite vivid and engaging, and each character, who has their own stuff to deal with, if you can keep up with the plethora of them.
However, as I finish the book I am left clueless as to what it was supposed to achieve and just a ‘well okay then’ feeling.

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 May 22nd to May 29th, 2017
GR Review

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My Sister’s Bones

Title: My Sister’s Bones

Author: Nuala Ellwood

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 400 pages | 3605 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Penguin UK

Publishing Date: March 28th, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

Sisters Kate and Sally have been estranged for years. When their mother passes away and Kate returns to her hometown, she is faced with all the memories of her childhood and her sister’s degradation.
Sally has become an alcoholic and her husband Paul thinks only Kate can help her. Can she do it? And if so, will she keep her sanity?

Review:

My Sister’s Bones features the mother of all unreliable main characters. Our Kate is a war reporter and to say she has skeletons in her closet is and understatement.

In Part 1, the narrative advances between current events, where Kate is locked up, and the previous week’s, when she returned to her hometown after her mother’s passing. As the story advances we find that Kate refuses to deal with her hallucinations, a result of witnessing such horrors, and that several bad things have happened both recently and as Kate was growing up.

During that first part I found some things quite repetitive and Kate annoyed me both in past and current accounts. Her insistence that the interviewer must not realise the truth about her state of mind particularly irked me because it seemed obvious to me that she needed help.

Towards the end of part 1, about halfway through the book, things start to get interesting and in Part two the narrative is done by a different character. After that I was really invested and wanted to know what came next.

So I didn’t find the stuff that happened in the first half that interesting and I actually had to fight the urge to skim through the text because the unreliability of the character was taken to extreme. I didn’t know what the heck was going on. On the other hand, I found myself exhausted by the book. All the characters and situations were so dismaying.

I had anticipated some of what happened or at least who was responsible but I was still quite surprised at a few revelations.

A solid 3.5 stars.

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 May 18th to May 21th, 2017
GR Review

Stacking The Shelves [15] May 20th

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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!


Oh wow, where the heck did last week go??
I didn’t even manage to get on my home computer until 5 minutes ago. That means I didn’t even browsed Netgalley catalogue, let alone Eldeweiss’. Therefore, the only book I added to my shelf wasn’t even one I had requested, the publisher gave me access to it out of the blue. Quite a pleasant surprise, ey?

Hope you are all having a fabulous weekend!


Netgalley ARC

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone
by Haylen Beck

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them… Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

As I mentioned I didn’t actually request this one, I was invited by the publisher to read it and since it adds to my Netgalley pile I intend to read it but it is not a priority right now. I will save it to when I am not so tired of these sorts of thrillers.


And that’s it for this week!

Have you read this book or do you plan to?

Are you excited about reading any particular books you got this week?

Please comment below and if you have a STS post please post it in comments.

Viral

Viral

Rating: 2/5

From IMDB:

Following the outbreak of a virus that wipes out the majority of the human population, a young woman documents her family’s new life in quarantine and tries to protect her infected sister.

Review:

I am not sure why I bothered to watch this one. I had a feeling it would be more of the same and for the most part it was. However, the main character’s innocence was quite believable and that added an interesting nuance to the film. The family dynamic was also well achieved.

There was one single scary scene and another that was quite tense; the others were just gross or boring. I liked that the build-up was slow because it added to the sense of normalcy prior to the events but I wish something interesting had happened, especially something that had made me connect to the main characters more. Instead it focused on Emma’s attraction towards Evan and nothing is really new. The characters’ decisions don’t make sense for the most part and although there is talk of a conspiracy and the concern of the two sisters for each other, after a while the puppy love gets annoying.

Also, for the entire movie we see infected people turning into zombies, completely blacking out and not being themselves anymore, yet for some reason the main character’s sister is able to control it enough so we can see she is struggling and tells her sister to stay away or it will make her hurt her.

I don’t know, stuff just didn’t add up. I was looking forward to a movie about a parasite that controlled people and their behaviour and there is so much that could have been done with this. In the end I was quite disappointed.

Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)

Title: Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)

Author: Sylvain Neuvel

Genres: Fantasy | Science Fiction

Length: 320 pages | 3393 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: April 6th, 2017

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Kara, Vincent and the rest of the team are learning to deal with the Dr Rose Franklin who, following the events at the end of book 1, is now a completely different person.
In the meantime, a new, bigger and everyone is assuming better giant robot has landed in London. It just stands there, not moving at all, but what could this mean?
And who will make the first move, us or them?

Review:

I had SO much fun reading this. I just love these characters and there was just enough action and humour to keep me fully invested. The science isn’t overwhelming but it’s there in case folks want to delve into that aspect, though I can’t tell how accurate it is. It was absolutely good enough to convince me.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, the book is narrated through the Themis Files – personal logs, reports, official logs, etc. So there is no narration, it’s all dialogue. This style is not for everyone but I absolutely loved it, as I had in the first book. It makes the book so dynamic and gives the reader a chance to connect more with the characters.

I wasn’t too keen on the Boogeyman and Mother Goose codenames and I have to admit I need to reread Mr Burns’ explanation cause I didn’t fully get it at the time. Also, I found that trying to explain the nameless man’s past totally took away his appeal and didn’t even satisfy my curiosity because I found none of that enough to explain that character but despite these things I still do not hesitate to round this up to 5 stars because it was utterly amazing.

I don’t want to spoil the story for you so I won’t comment on that but do know that you need to read the first book of the series first or this won’t make sense.

I highly recommend this to anyone and look forward to the third book of the series.

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 May 14th to May 17th, 2017
GR Review

Get Out

Get Out

Rating: 4/5

From IMDB:

A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate.

Review:

This was pretty good. Unfortunately, as seems to be the norm lately, the trailer had already shown the creepiest scenes but there was still plenty to get freaked out about as Chris descends from his normal life to the craziness going on in his girlfriend’s hometown.

The characters are quite well-developed; this isn’t your regular thriller/horror movie. Chris grows on you and you feel for him. Also, his hilarious friend brings some welcomed contrast and humorous relief to the heaviness imbued in some scenes.

One of the first scenes, that you can actually see in the trailer, when they are driving and something hits the car, as well as the moments afterwards, is quite intense. The detail of image and sound grasps the viewer and doesn’t let go.

There are several moments when the visual and audio artistry is clear – but again, most are viewable in the trailer, which I find a shame.
The soundtrack adds to it, beginning with the opening credits. Boy, that tune freaked me out.

As for the plot… There is some surreal stuff going on in the suburbs. I got the chills for Chris as he slowly realised he seemed to be the only normal person around there. And all his reactions, as well as his girlfriend’s, were believable, which is not usually an easy feat in a horror film.

Pretty much my only criticism is that, especially towards the end, some things were oversimplified, and that took away some of the enjoyment. I craved a better explanation for several scenes. But overall I was thrilled, and I felt that Betty Gabriel’s performance was particularly superb, though everyone was great.

Recommended even if you are not a fan of horror movies, but enjoy suspense and mystery.

The Darkest Lies

Title: The Darkest Lies

Author: Barbara Copperthwaite

Genres: Crime | Psychological Thriller

Length: 404 pages | 5183 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: May 12th, 2017

Rating: 2.75/5

Premise:

Beth is a 13 year old girl who absolutely loves her family but is also growing up.
One day she goes missing. As her mother investigates what happened to Beth, she finds out that her daughter had lots of secrets, and so do the people she has known all her life.

Review:

The Darkest Lies mostly alternates between a third-person narration of what happened to Beth, a second-person account of her mother’s thoughts in the form of a journal to her daughter, and a mysterious third party with an obviously very nasty agenda. The book started well enough for me as I liked Beth’s character and even though her family seemed perfect, as well as her relationship to them, I found it believable. As events progressed, I could feel her mother’s anguish and found myself immersed in the story.

As Melanie begins asking around I was hesitant because at first people seemed to be telling the truth but it was just not possible to hit so many dead ends in a town where everyone seems to know other people, so the suspense definitely built up as Melanie realised some were hiding something but she didn’t know what.

However, after a while the book began dragging and found myself progressively annoyed at Melanie’s constant bad decisions and obliviousness at some hints that seemed obvious to me and she would either not realise or choose not to follow up on. I found her hero complex was just plain arrogance in disguise and her assumption that the police was doing nothing just because they could not share details of the investigation was frankly quite irritating. At some point I just couldn’t wait for all the red herrings to be put out of the way and to find out something tangible, but unfortunately all that was saved for the last few chapters.

I find that when books advertise a big twisty plot I can’t wait to get to it and end up not enjoying the journey much at all. From what I read in other reviews, other readers feel the same way. I did try not to let it affect me but, even though I enjoyed reading some descriptions, as well as watching Melanie realise that there was so much she didn’t know about her daughter, not to mention Beth’s own issues keeping other people’s secrets, the fact is I got more and more annoyed with Melanie, and by the time I got to half the book (which by the way took me a week) I could not stand her. On the other hand, Jacob’s character was just so hollow, which was a shame because he could have brought some balance to the book.

Things did get more interesteding in the last third of the book. I have to say what happened to Beth was an utter surprise and I did not see it coming but I could not say the same about the other major revelation. As the author goes through everything I had realised long before (even though the way things were said back then were not that accurate to throw the read off) and was so miffed that Melanie didn’t at the time, once again I felt my attention drift and the urge to skim through the text became difficult to resist.

Also, it felt so pointless. Just a plot device for a book that wants to take on too much and show why the main character would devolve like that but it just felt like filler.
In the end, even though there were quite a few good things about The Darkest Lies, I found the build-up tepid and that the subplot contributed in a negative manner to the story, which made me finish the book with a bittersweet feeling.

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 May 8th to May 13th, 2017
GR Review