The Home

Title: The Home

Author: Mats Strandberg

Genres: Horror | Thriller

Length: 3645 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Quercus Books – Jo Fletcher Books

Publishing Date: May 14th, 2020

Rating: 4.25/5

Premise:

Joel’s mother had a heart attack a while back and since then she has not been the same. Now her dementia makes it impossible for her to keep living on her own and he has to commit her to Pineshade, while dealing with his guilt, addiction and confrontation with former best friend.
If that wasn’t enough, his mother does not seem like herself. Everyone tells him that is normal in patients with dementia, but is that really the only reason?

Review:

It’s been a while since I read a horror novel, I missed it. And this one did not disappoint.

First of all, it was very refreshing to read a novel taking place in Sweden. I actually didn’t know that beforehand and it was a pleasant surprise.

Our main character Joel is a flawed 38-year-old man who has many regrets. Being back home, seeing his mother in that state, and having to commit her while his brother completely brushes off any responsibility is bad enough, but realizing his former best friend Nina is working in the place where he had to place his mother brings things to a whole new level of “I don’t want to deal with this shit” and you can somehow relate to his struggles to do the right thing but knowing he is ultimately too weak to do it.

I really appreciated how things like homosexuality were dropped in the narrative as only one other detail, not making a big deal out of it. I enjoyed how the author spooled a story of regrets, of “what if’s”, of forcing the characters to confront themselves, their part in what happened the past, and if they could really get beyond it. All this while a parallel supernatural story was also being weaved.

Subtlety is definitely one of my favourite things about this novel. The story took time to develop but I was always interested. And small hints were left here and there making the reader slowly more and more certain that something suspicious is definitely going on.

There were times when I wished the characters would catch up already and I think that last chapter stretched on for longer than necessary but, overall, I really enjoyed this book, I think it was well achieved and definitely 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 Apr 16th to Apr 18th, 2020
GR Review

A Thousand Rooms

Title: A Thousand Rooms

Author: Helen Jones

Genres: Contemporary

Length: 226 pages | 3474 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Publishing Date: October 20th, 2016

Rating: 2/5

Premise:

Katie is dead.
And now she needs to figure out what to do and where to go, while coming to terms with this new reality.

Review:

This is a book I picked up because I wanted to try something new.

Right from the first pages I could tell that the main character Katie had quite a dry sense of humour. She seemed objective, fierce and mostly knew how to keep her shit together. But no one expects to wake up dead. And now she needed to figure out what that meant and what she should be doing, while dealing with all the new things she can (and can no longer) do.

This premise was quite interesting but for some reason I just wasn’t feeling it. I was not relating to the character and for the most part my thoughts went from ‘Wow really, more of this? Why is she not trying something different??’ to actually wanting to quit the book altogether, particularly during the first half.

Throughout the narrative, I could not understand why Katie wouldn’t try more. I grew tired of her, and eventually I no longer wanted to know what came next.

Roughly halfway or a bit past, a new character is introduced and the book finally takes on a different approach but still, that pace… I just wanted things to move along, I did not find it interesting at all. There were parts when I tolerated it, other parts where the descriptions truly captivated me and were even beautiful and engaging, but mostly I just wanted it to be over.

The lessons for the characters are what you would expect, and yes, they do provide some food for thought. The ending was ok. But overall the book, for me, was just that, ok.
Would I pick it up again? No. I am sure other people might enjoy it, though. So it really is a matter of personal taste.

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 Apr 11th to April 16th, 2020
GR Review

Home

Title: Home

Author: Amanda Berriman

Genres: Contemporary | Mystery

Length: 344 pages | 4087 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Doubleday

Publishing Date: February 8th, 2018

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Jesika lives with her mummy and her baby brother Toby in a very noisy place where several things don’t work properly.
Now her brother is very sick and Mummy mostly takes care of him. But Mummy is sick too.
Truth is, try as she might, Mummy can’t keep doing everything on her own. And sooner or later she will have to ask for help… But will she ask the right person?

Review:

Narrated from 4-year-old Jesica’s point of view, this book is such a rollercoaster.

I think the author did a great job capturing what it is like to be in the shoes of a young child, someone who looks at everything in the world with such naivity and is learning what her place is in it. It forces you to look at yourself from the eyes of the child and, although you can relate to the adult in the story, you cannot help but do some introspection.

It certainly made me think twice about the child in my life. How it is so easy for an adult to get lost in everything that needs to be done and forget that the child has needs too. Or make the mistake of sweeping something under the rug as so small and unimportant, when to the child it is quite huge and means the world. And sometimes it is something so simple like listening. Or reading a story. Or answering their many questions.

Jesika’s story is a very difficult one to read about. No family should live in the conditions that hers does, but unfortunately that is the reality for many people. And it is all Jesika knows. She did live in a different house and remembers it, but this is her reality now, and it is incredibly how she adapts and it becomes normal do her.

And that is really how children think, isn’t it? Outside very simple things, they don’t much know what is wrong or right, or bad or good, unless a grown up tells them. And if the wrong grown up tells them the wrong thing…
Like I said, a though story to ready, but Jesika’s narration brings an entirely new dimension to the bad things that happen and you cannot help but praise that brave girl in your heart.

There were few instances when the narrator’s voice broke character. The author did a really great job on this book. It moves you and it gets you thinking about such important things; not only what I mentioned above, but also the importance of listening to your children, to try and put themselves in their shoes, to know that if you get cross, that is all they are going to see, they are not going to listen to what you are saying.

If you want to read something different, something very realistic but also different because it forces you to see things from a different perspective, do pick up this 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 Mar 30th to April 5th, 2020
GR Review

Hold Your Breath

Title: Hold Your Breath

Author: B P Walter

Genres: Contemporary | Mystery | Thriller

Length: 368 pages | 3286 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Avon Books UK

Publishing Date: April 16th, 2020

Rating: 3.75/5

Premise:

When Kitty was 10 years old, her dad took her and her mother from the home they had always known to go live in a remote cabin in the woods. He wouldn’t tell her why, but when two new people start visting the house, Kitty slowly begins to realize the visits have something to do with her mother, who hasn’t been well for quite a long time now.
Who are these people exactly and do they really want to help her mother?
And if so, at what cost?

Review:

The book begins with Kitty, now an adult, on her way to a police station where she will need to relive the moments that have tormented her all her life. The action alternates between 1987 and 2020, as we learn what happened to Kitty all those years ago.

Katherine/Kitty’s tale is a disturbing one, and no wonder she became a traumatized adult. As we learn more and more about her past we cannot help but feel for this child, who had no one to rely on.
At the same time you cannot help to relate to her highstrung father, especially if you are a parent. Nathan had such a huge responsibility on his shoulders and was merely human, after all. The readers who have children of their own can surely relate to how being hammered with questions, when you are dead tired, feels like. And Nathan does have a couple of moments when he realizes he is not being the best father, nor dealing with things the best possible way by far.
As I was reading, even though I flinched through the eyes of Kitty, I believed he had her best interests in mind. However, the fact remains that, when trying to shield her from all the nastiness, he pushed her away in such a way that you cannot help but wish you could help her.

For the most part, there is little I would have changed in this book, except for the title, I found it much too generic.
It is quite well written. You really feel like you are seeing things through the eyes of a 10-year-old, and not just any 10-year-old, but Kitty, who has a very unique personality. And you cannot help but feel for the adult Katherine as well.

However, during the last fifth or so of the book, things radically change, the focus dramatically shifts and you have to start requestioning all characters in your mind. This break of pace was intimidating at first, but I could have gone with it, had it been differently approached. However, as the book comes to an end, the last 10% or so, I couldn’t help but feel I was just wandering around with the character which, granted, was much to the point, but that last scene killed me. It just made no sense for me whatsoever.

Still, for most part of the book, I was extremely engaged in reading this, and would have finished the book in one sitting had I had the chance. It was something different, all right.

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 Mar 26th to Mar 29th, 2020
GR Review

You Let Me In

Title: You Let Me In

Author: Camilla Bruce

Genres: Horror | Mystery | Thriller

Length: 272 pages | 2374 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: March 5th, 2020

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Writer Cassandra Tipp goes missing, after a life of being mistrusted as a crazy child and then adult, thought to have done away with murder.
When missing she left a story for her nephews. Presumably it explains everything everyone ever wanted to know about her life.
However, no one is quite prepared for such a tale. Will they believe it?

Review:

The story takes place a year after writer Cassandra Tipp has gone missing. Her nephews receive notification that they are her only heirs, and that they may have access to her entire fortune on one condition: they must read the novel she left for them because it contains the password they must give to Cassandra’s solicitor, so that they can receive the money. What follows is a tale that caught me completely off guard.

What an engaging read. From the first pages I was enthralled. And when Cassie started talking about her Pepper-man, things just gained an entirely new dimension. Soon I was swept away to a world where faeries are real, but not nice fairies, and not necessarily bad either, just needy.

If you let yourself be swept away by the story of Cassie and her Pepper-man as I did, it will disturb you, disgust you even, but it will most definitely not leave you indifferent. I recommend this if you want to read something different, something that defines your perspective on reality. You will definitely need to keep an open mind, though!

Great frantasy read for adults, especially considering it is a debut. Well done!

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 Mar 15th to Mar 22nd, 2020
GR Review

The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials #3)

Title: The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials #3)

Author: Philip Pullman

Genres: Adventure | Fantasy

Length: 467 pages

Source: Purchased

Publisher: Laurel Leaf

Publishing Date: September 9th 2003

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

In the conclusion of this trilogy, Lyra will finally discover her destiny, together with allies she could not have dreamt of, and will have to make a very difficult choice.

Review:

Unlike the previous two books, this one begins quite gently. The author sets the scene in a more delicate manner, with great world building. And slowly we begin to wonder what is going to happen to Lyra.

This third book took me in directions I did not expect. I really enjoyed following certain characters, such as Mary Malone. Her discoveries were quite enthralling.

I would have liked to see certain subjects addressed especially in the first but also in the second book more thoroughly, though. The way the author blends myth, religion is science is simply unbelievable, and I would have like to see those subjects more developed.

However, the fact is this book/trilogy can be read both by children and adults, and maybe that would not have made it so attractive to children.
I really enjoyed all characters in all three books, ‘suffering’ with every loss throughout Lyra’s journey.
It is quite an adventure, and will not leave you indifferent.

Recommended.

Read from February 26th 2019 to March 9th 2020.
GR Review

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2)

Title: The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2)

Author: Philip Pullman

Genres: Adventure | Fantasy

Length: 288 pages

Source: Purchased

Publisher: Laurel Leaf

Publishing Date: September 9th 2003

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Lyra has travelled to a different world, a strange world with many things in common with her own but many different ones as well, and dangerous ones too. Her path will cross with Will’s, a mysterious slightly older child, and Lyra will come to know that her destiny and Will’s are intertwined. Once again going through perilous adventures, and never knowing who to trust, Lyra and Will fight their way through to the truth.

Review:

The second book of the trilogy starts with a different voice, as we accompany Will through his ordeals. As in the first book, we dive right into a situation that leaves the reader quite confused and where it is evident that danger is imminent. Then we rejoin Lyra and some of the characters from Book 1, each going through their own journey. At some point it is clear that they are all destined to meet but what does that mean?

Again the writing is enthralling. Where it could be easy to have Lyra just consult the alethiometer for every single decision, the author plunges the characters into the right amount of action and twists to prevent the narrative from going the easy way, while introducing new concepts and characters.

It is again amazing how he merges myth and science, from Lyra’s world and Will’s, giving an entire new sense to things we thought we knew.

As I flipped through the pages, I became aware that Will’s role in the story would be as important as Lyra’s and wanted to know what came next for them.

This is an action-packed sequel with no boring times, just many moments of unease. What exactly is going on in this new world? Who is friend and who is foe? What is Will’s role and what is Lyra supposed to do, pursue her own goals or help him?

I had a great time reading the book and raced through it. I do wish some concepts had been further developed, like how exactly Parry gained a daemon (wasn’t it supposed to be inside him?) or how he managed to become a shaman considering where he came from. The concept of spectres was also quite odd to me, as was the capability to control them.

Overall I found it an engaging read, not quite as good as the first book, but still a thrilling one, and quickly moved on to book 3.

Read from February 17th 2019 to February 25th 2020.
GR Review