The Curing Begins… (Condition #2)

Title: The Curing Begins… (Condition #2)

Author: Alec Birri

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 217 pages | 3093 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd

Publishing Date: January 31st, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

As Professor Savage’s plans become clearer, we are left wondering what exactly the next stage in this process will entail.
In the meantime, how do the actions of a dubious character 50 years back relate to Savage?

Review:

The clock goes back on book #2 of this trilogy, more precisely to the 70s.
The narrative takes place on a different country too, more specifically in Argentina.

Although I was a bit thrown back since book 1 took place in 2026, I soon got in step with it, though it again felt bumpy. I just could not seem to connect to the characters. And in this book this difficulty was augmented due to the insta-love. Goodness, how I hate insta-love.

Our main character meets a young girl who just happens to be the only good looking person in the entire village he is assigned to, and soon enough he is thinking of marrying her. The first time they kiss felt awkward and inappropriate – he is a sergeant, after all – and I felt it completely came out of the blue.
Oh and it seems it is reciprocate, though for the life of me I could not tell why, because, get this: She hesitated after a few steps and turned back to her new love interest. Who says that? And why? I get instant attraction, but love? Sorry if I sound too harsh but this kind of thing truly bums me out.

Anyway… As the story advances we get the picture that something incredibly wrong is going on. There is police corruption, poverty, naivety and a lot more. Granted, I don’t know much about Argentina, let alone in the 70’s, but I found it safe to assume that the author’s depiction was probably a fair one. I could see that stuff happening. And going on and on because, really, what are you going to do? I enjoy reading about characters who are not openly good or bad.

Then a bit before halfway through the book the narrative advances to 2026 and we are left wondering how the two timelines relate. I have to admit I was impressed, especially towards the end, when all the mind-blowing stuff is thrown at us, much as in the first book.
I did feel I did not have enough time to process or digest all the revelations. I mean, everything that they would entail is just beyond comprehension.

Even if I am not 100% fan of the books’ execution, I will definitely handle it to the author, he has an amazing imagination, and I am again left quite scared that this is actually based on his personal experiences.

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 9th to Aug 20th, 2017
GR Review

Annabelle: Creation

Annabelle: Creation

Rating: 1.5/5

From IMDB:

Twelve years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

Review:

Goodness this movie was bad. I cannot believe the high ratings it has been getting. I am wondering if we watched the same film.
I don’t even know where to begin.

First of all, little things like gorgeous, obviously made up nuns annoy me.

Secondly, what a disjointed, cliché-riddled movie. It didn’t take me long to just wish it would end.

The plot is a joke. There really isn’t one, surely not a proper one.
It’s the arrival of the girls, exploration of the house, scary scenes, more scary scenes, then the owners of the house reveal everything, and then more scary scenes. Throughout the film, incredibly bad, unbelieving acting. Anthony LaPaglia was the only upside for me. He managed to portray a character that was obviously grief-stricken but who would seem quite scary to young kids.

There is so much that didn’t make sense. One minute there is electricity and the next it’s back to match-lit lamps and darkness. There is no reason presented to why the wife can’t walk. And what the heck kind of a reaction was that to Samuel pointing out to Sister Charlotte a fourth nun in the picture, that she had never noticed before?

And finally the pace was SO slow that I was soon yawning and even the scary scenes had absolutely no effect on me. By that point I was simply numb.

I cannot recommend this movie. Watch it if there is no alternative and if you don’t have to pay money for it.

The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower

Rating: 4.5/5

From IMDB:

The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

Review:

I was really nervous about this one because I am a hardcore Stephen King fan and I had read a couple of nasty reviews about it. But you know what? I really enjoyed myself!

I mean, let’s face it, there is no way thousands of pages could be squeezed into 1h35m. The movie is based on the Dark Tower series, it is not supposed to portray it step by step. And I think the two main characters are as fairly portrayed as possible. Sure, Roland is a lot more talkative, there are some scenes clearly just for FX show and/or comedy, Jake learned to control his power much too quickly/easily and the gunslinger creed is a bit abused, but overall this was an exciting movie and I found myself enthralled.

I was particularly blown away by Matthew McConaughey. How the hell did he manage to create a character that is both so evil AND sexy? I have to admit I had some nasty thoughts watching him. My goodness, how can he just arrive into a room and with one look terrify me? I can’t even properly explain it. He’s all business. He owns his power and has this innate arrogance to him. Really, I can’t explain it, just know this is an incredibly built villain.

Gangly Jake was also a pleasant surprise but next to McConaughey and Elba it was difficult for the boy to shine.

I actually enjoyed the whole gunslinger’s purpose vs revenge. I cannot remember if that was present in the books, I read them quite a while ago, but I felt that was a good theme to serve as the film’s motto.

All in all, I am really happy with this adaptation and was thoroughly entertained. I definitely recommend it.

A Medical Miracle? (Condition #1)

Title: A Medical Miracle? (Condition #1)

Author: Alec Birri

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 210 pages | 3170 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd

Publishing Date: November 18th, 2016

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

The last thing RAF pilot Dan Stewart remembers is burning alive in a crash.
An indefinite time later, he wakes up in a hospital where the staff is clearly hiding something and the patients seem to suffer similar injuries to Dan’s.
What exactly happened to Dan?
And can he trust his own thoughts and memories?

Review:

The first book in this trilogy is very promising.

The first part of this medical thriller is the most confusing and I found myself even second guessing whether I had read about some references Dan made previously. It was like I, the reader, was supposed to know something but didn’t so yes, quite confusing. It didn’t help that the Search function on my Kindle did not work in this book, for some reason.
On the other hand, it seemed Dan knew stuff he shouldn’t and wasn’t as dumbfounded as I was.

I thought some concepts and twists could have been introduced in a more intuitive manner and that the humour was a bit tacky at times, like when Dan asked Gary to look at his naked bottom. The way he said it could have been funny and instead it was just nonsensical.

And even though there weren’t that many characters, I found it difficult to grasp who was who during that first part, I suppose because I was so confused I found it difficult to focus.

However, as the narrative advanced, I found myself more and more interested, and wanted to know what happened next.

The novel took lots of twists and turns and just when I thought it could not surprise me any further the author kicked it up a notch.

There is plenty of food for thought here and I find it quite scary that this is based on the author’s real experience. After finishing the book I find it all so out there, and yet this makes it all seem so possible.

I recommend Condition #1 and am looking forward to the next two books.

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 July 30th to Aug 9th, 2017
GR Review

All Our Wrong Todays

Title: All Our Wrong Todays

Author: Elan Mastai

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 384 pages | 4012 Kindle locations

Source: Edelweiss

Publisher: Dutton Books

Publishing Date: Feb 7th, 2017

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Tom lives in a world quite close to what we pictured the future would be like back in the 50s. Technology is so advanced that Tom’s father actually manages to build a time machine. Tom travels back in time to witness the moment where the future began but things get so messy that when he goes back to 2016 it’s no longer his world. It’s the world as we know it. Can Tom go back and fix what he did wrong? Can he fix the past so that his world can exist again?

Review:

I had a really good time reading this. I found it refreshing that the narrator was an ordinary guy who screws up a lot and throughout the book has normal reactions, he doesn’t just turn into this amazing hero just because he is the main character of a book and needs to show evolution. So in such a bizarre scenario I actually found Tom Barren quite normal. And his sense of humour contributed quite positively to the character.

The other thing I loved about the book was the pace. You don’t just get backstory dumped, the story flows and you are there every step of the way, and there are twists quite early on, as early as a quarter into the book, if I remember correctly. Everything attests to the character of Tom and his evolution, and will sooner or later be picked back up, but at the same time you are being entertained, not just reading lengthy descriptions but actually watching stuff happen.

There isn’t much hard sci-fi until later in the book and I found the semi-explanations satisfying because, again, Tom is a normal dude, he is not supposed to know how all this works.

Towards the end I gradually lost interest both because of the hard sci-fi, Tom’s decision that it was not possible to save his world, he didn’t even try and I still don’t get why and things just got really complicated, not sure if I buy into all of it but… It still wrapped up nicely. The writing got a bit gushy for my taste but it does make sense and I was pleased.

All Our Wrong Todays is quite a ride, but a good one. There is humour, failure, different ways to deal with failure, so a lot of personal growth involved, and I have to say I got emotionally involved with the story to the point where I truly cared about what happened to the characters. At the same time it is a thought-provoking book, in more ways than one. I wish I had highlighted some passages because they would make some really nifty quotes.
You should definitely pick it up.

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

Read from Jul 23rd to Jul 29th, 2017
GR Review

Holding

Title: Holding

Author: Graham Norton

Genres: Crime | Mystery

Length: 272 pages | 3293 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Atria Books

Publishing Date: Aug 1st, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

In Duneen, Ireland human remains are found in a construction work site.
As Sergeant PJ Collins struggles to find what happened, he discovers a lifetime of secrets and resentments amongst the inhabitants of the sleepy Irish village.

Review:

Holding didn’t hold my attention for the most part, though as the resolution was approaching it got fairly exciting.

For the most part it focuses on the characters, particularly the Sergeant and the struggle with his excessive weight. The quite accurate accounts of all sorts of situations overweight people have to deal with that few stop to consider was very real.

As the narrative reached its climax, it was good to see some characters’ growth and others’ inevitable downfall, not to mention what the author did with a potential love triangle.

But the world building was so shallow; I don’t even understand why the only officer there was Collins, there didn’t even seem to be someone to cover for him if he was sick or something, or to take the calls, even.
Speaking of which, I didn’t get why he had to leave the scene to make a call from the barracks, for instance. What about cell phones?? It was like Duneen was stuck in the past and in that sense I found the cover quite misleading, might I add.

Also, as a mystery, to me, the book ultimately it failed to deliver. Maybe I am too used to huge twists and more complex characters. The simplicity of it all was quite refreshing, so that was nice. I enjoyed it but was never really clinging to the pages wanting to know what happened next. It was more like ok you are all very nice characters but what the heck happened here?

The book felt like a story of a few key characters in a quiet town where everyone seems to know everyone and the mystery was something on the sideline. I would have appreciated a few clues that got the gears running in my brain.

Overall an okay book that I mildly enjoyed with a solid cast of characters that I am left rooting for.

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 Jul 16th to Jul 22nd, 2017
GR Review

Every Last Lie

Title: Every Last Lie

Author: Mary Kubica

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 331 pages | 4486 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Park Row Books

Publishing Date: Jun 27th, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

When Clara’s husband dies her world shatters. If that wasn’t bad enough, her four-year-old daughter Maisie claims suggest that it may not have been an accident.
What exactly happened to Nick? And why is Clara finding so many lies?

Review:

Every Last Lie started well enough for me. I actually did not remember the premise of the book so I thought the way it was revealed was gripping.
I felt for Clara as her world unravelled, but soon enough little things started to bother me, like the fact that she was stuck on Nick and never once wondered about Maisie’s safety.

The narrative switches between the time before and after the crash, Nick and Clara’s points of view respectively, told in the first person. This works very well.
I did not particularly like nor dislike Nick’s chapters. There were certain things that touched me but most of all I had a problem with how he seemed to worship Clara. I did not find that believable at all.

Clara bugged me with her ramblings; some of her thoughts exhausted me and I found myself fighting the urge to skim through the text. Just when things seemed to begin to get interesting, she would step in and be absolutely convinced that something was true when we already knew it was not. I wish the book had been further edited. There was so much there that was just not needed nor added anything to the story.

I had seen the reveal close to the end coming from a long, long way, so even that did not assuage the feeling of discontent.

It is a suspenseful book but the best thing I take from it is the image of Nick and his daughter playing and how we should appreciate each day as if it were the last.

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 Jul 11th to Jul 16th, 2017
GR Review