The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Title: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Author: Claire North

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 405 pages

Source: Book Depository

Format: Paperback

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

Harry is a kalachakra – he is reborn after he dies, over and over again.
While trying to figure out how to deal with this, he receives an unexpected visit towards the end of his 11th life that will change everything.

Review:

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August started well enough. I was intrigued by the concept and this character, born in 1919.

The book grasped my attention and held it but after a while the narrative grew tiresome. It jumped a lot between Harry’s different lives and I found myself often confused as to what belong in which life.

There were some twists and turns that perked my interest again but not enough to want to pick the book back up. Also, if the book’s concept involves both time travel and parallel realities, I could not see how it would be possible for the narrative to unfold the way it did. And finally, I cannot believe that Harry would be able to maintain such farce for so long without a single slip-up.

Once you have such issues with a book, it’s difficult for it to hold your attention and make you stick to it, so at times I found it quite difficult to pick it back up, as you can see by the time it took me to go through it. I do believe the book is unnecessarily long, particularly the middle, and could have had more impact if it had been more edited.

Still, it is enjoyable as a ‘what if’ work that makes you think and wonder about several issues.

Read from Oct 22nd to November 11th, 2017
GR Review

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The Blind

Title: The Blind

Author: A.F. Brady

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 400 pages | Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Park Row Books

Publishing Date: September 26th, 2017

Rating: 2/5

Premise:

Sam Jones is the most reputed clinician at the mental health facility where she works.
She finds herself trying to help a mysterious patient who will give nothing away about himself while dealing with her personal issues and struggling to keep them a secret from everyone in her life.

Review:

I grabbed this one because it had two of my favourite themes – mental illnesses and a mystery. However, it’s been a while since I was this disappointed in a book.

For the biggest part, The Blind irked me so much. I just found the main character so annoying. Every situation, including the mysterious patient, seemed to be there as an excuse for her to whine more and descend even further to a rotten place. I couldn’t take much more of her wanting to stab people in the eye or feeling jealous that no one was petting her hair and then going back to her abusive boyfriend. At times I was so close to quitting. I had to pick up another book, which is really uncommon for me.

I appreciated the whole looking perfect to everyone else but suffering so much inside but there really wasn’t much to hold on to, just little clues every once in a while that Samantha never bother to even comment on, let alone try to investigate. I mean, if I found a note with my address and directions for how to get there, I would be seriously worried. All Sam does is comment that the handwriting is not her own.

Towards the end, the chapters got really intriguing, and the pace definitely picked up. I wanted to know more. But ultimately the ending was predictable and it did not make up for the disappointment of the rest of the book.

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 Sep 28th to Oct 1stth, 2017
GR Review

A Child Called “It” (Dave Pelzer #1)

Title: A Child Called “It” (Dave Pelzer #1)

Author: Dave Pelzer

Genres: Biography | Non-Fiction

Length: 184 pages

Source: Book Depository

Format: Paperback

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

This is the account of Dave Pelzer’s life growing up with his alcoholic mother’s constant abuse.

Review:

When I first got this I didn’t realize it was part of a trilogy. It is difficult to assess it as a solo book, because I am sure there is much more to Dave’s story and since it is less than 200 pages I am unsure why it wasn’t all put together.

It is a highly disturbing book and it is so hard to accept that this was part of the day-to-day life of this boy, as unfortunately so many others. This wasn’t just abuse and neglect, it was blatant torture.
For its message, because it is an account that needs to be told, it should be out there and people need to be sensitized to it.

However, I have to say that, as a story, I was disappointed because it felt disjointed. There were lots of gaps when something must have changed to make David’s parents change as well and we’re left in the dark to that, as well as the changes in David himself. I craved for an account of a moment when David realized he was changing, something to make it more real.

While I sympathize that young David must have known why things were happening either either, this is his account as an adult, and I believe it would have helped the reader immensely, not only to connect with him more but also to make us think that it could happen to anyone, and that maybe when we see something behaving a certain way or going through certain experiences we should pay closer attention.

So that is the issue I had with this, but as I said, it’s a book that needs to be read. There are certainly many children out there going through this, and they don’t understand what is happening to them, or really believe they are a bad child and deserve what is happening to them.

Read from Oct 9th to Oct 17th, 2017
GR Review

Narcissism for Beginners

Title: Narcissism for Beginners

Author: Martine McDonagh

Genres: Contemporary | Humour

Length: 208 pages | 2807 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Random House UK

Publishing Date: March 9th, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

When Sonny turns 21 years old he embarks on a journey to find out more about his origins.
As he goes through 5 letters his guardian wrote to him, while making disturbing discoveries on his own, Sonny’s world takes quite a turn.

Review:

Narcissism for Beginners is the story of a breezy young man who’s been through a lot and is about to go through a lot more emotional turmoil. It addresses difficult subjects such as different kinds of dependency – emotional and substance, to name the most frequent, and Sonny’s sarcastic tone helps cope with that.

I enjoyed this book. The writing is at times too rambling for my taste but at the same time it’s part of its charm. The breaks of pace when Sonny would abruptly change what he was narrated kept me interested.

The book is written in second person singular, as a letter addressed to Sonny’s mother, and despite the somber tone the ending was redeeming enough.

I recommend it, but you probably need to have a stomach to deal with heavy stuff.

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 Sep 25th to Sep 28th, 2017
GR Review

Little Fires Everywhere

Title: Little Fires Everywhere

Author: Celeste Ng

Genres: Contemporary

Length: 384 pages | 4158 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Penguin Press

Publishing Date: September 12th, 2017

Rating: 4.25/5

Premise:

Shaker Heights is supposed to be the perfect neighbourhood. Everything is planned and everyone tries hard to contribute to the standards.
But Mia and Pearl’s arrival to the neighbourhood will deeply affect the lives of those they come in contact with. Elena Richardson in particular will make sure that mysterious Mia will not upset the carefully constructed utopia.

Review:

Little Fires Everywhere was a very engaging read. I always wanted to know what came next to each of the characters.

In this sort of Stepford-wifey neighbourhood, our characters try hard to live up to the standards they truly believe in, and our Elena Richardson in particular makes sure she helps the less fortunate and raises her children to do so. Issues of race, sexuality, teen discoveries and much more are addressed through a miscellany of characters. There are a handful of main ones and I enjoyed getting to know each of them. Indeed, I was quite a fan of the writing and development of characters.

The writing is quite unique. We are presented with different perspectives and what would have happened had a character known something. Situations that are approached earlier will be revisited under a different point of view. And this allows the reader to truly get in the shoes of each of the characters and actually commiserate even with the less deserving ones. The fact is everyone has their motives to act how they do and each has their own way of thinking and belief of what is right. The question is what are they willing to do to defend that.

This was very enjoyable and I highly recommend it.

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

Read from Sep 10th to Sep 24th, 2017
GR Review

An Uncertain Grace

Title: An Uncertain Grace

Author: Krissy Kneen

Genres: Erotica | Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 238 pages | 2337 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Text Publishing

Publishing Date: January 31st, 2017

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Five erotic short stories taking place in a near future.

Review:

It’s been quite a while since I so thoroughly enjoyed a collection of short stories. Considering they are classified as erotic, the detail put to speculative fiction was outstanding. These make the reader completely reconsider sexuality as a whole while taking him on her on enthralling experiences. They are all connected by a common denominator and are chronologically order, taking the reader on a trip where we see the world changing, along with the characters.

The first story introduces us to a uni English literature teacher who is presented with a work by a former student. This is not just any work though, it’s an interactive narrative where the reader not only does what the author wants but also feels exactly what the author wants him or her to feel. I absolutely loved the way the author transcribed this idea to her story and we get to watch a fairly normal guy coming to terms with the fact that he might just be despicable.
I have a feeling woman and men will have different reactions to this story. Some of the scenes were so raw and yet I felt emotional. This was quite brilliant.

The second story comes from a different place. It is actually a sci-fi experiment.
What if you could merge with other beings?
The way the concept was introduced was quite astounding. You cannot help to relate to this guy, even though he must have done something really bad to have gone to prison for that long. Still, his childhood memories as well as his longing for them make him a person, and one with feelings, and you cannot help to relate.

The third story is about a robot who looks and feels human and was created for a unique purpose – to study hebephiles, people who are attracted to adolescents. Some scenes are difficult to take in as they are quite disturbing – even though you are seeing things through the eyes of Cameron, the robot. You can feel his own struggle to try and understand how a normal 13-year-old would react, so that the data collected during the experiments is as accurate as possible. And yet he cannot help but think of his place in the grand scheme of things.

The fourth story is less about sex and more about gender. It’s getting easier and easier to transition between both sexes, and even staying somewhere in the middle. These are the sexual experiences of one such person who wants to transition to centre – neither man or woman -, while trying to deal with her feelings towards her sexuality, her partner, and her mother.

The final story is about a woman who lived well into her one hundreds and still remembers a time when fish weren’t practically extinct. This one explores life after that and what you could experience in such a state.

Reading what I wrote above, I cannot help but feel my descriptions of the stories are very diminishing. The fact is I felt enraptured by them. At times disgusted, others excited and always curious to know what came next. I am not too sure about the Liv character, it did not struck me as believable that she is described as a teller of stories and yet we see her in scientific roles. But I do know I enjoyed this immensely and highly recommend it.

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 Aug 29th to Sep 8th, 2017
GR Review

The Final Correction (Condition #3)

Title: The Final Correction (Condition #3)

Author: Alec Birri

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 288 pages | 3054 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd

Publishing Date: July 28th, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

Professor Savage has been arrested but the corrections go on.
Who is controlling them, though?
What does this entail for mankind?

Review:

I finished this last night and I am still not quite sure what I read.

I enjoyed it as the previous ones but I cannot say I understood everything. That Professor Savage character was just too mysterious, I guess I needed it dumbed down more so that I could fully grasp what the author was trying to say. It’s not that there was that much scientific mumbo-jumbo to sift through, I just felt a lot of important information lacked in favour of suspense.

Overall I enjoyed the trilogy. I particularly loved the two first books’ prologues and how, when I finished each book, I would see them in a completely different light. It is food for thought, if nothing else.

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 Aug 20th to Aug 28th, 2017
GR Review