The Doll Funeral

Title: The Doll Funeral

Author: Kate Hamer

Genres: Mystery | Paranormal

Length: 368 pages | 4060 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Publishing Date: February 16th, 2017

Rating: 2.75/5

Premise:

On her thirteenth birthday, Ruby finds out she is adopted.
From then on she strives to find her real parents. She will rely on the help of Shadow Boy and new found friends.

Review:

Phew, I was beginning to wonder if I would ever finish this one.

First of all, to say this blurb is misleading is an understatement. It is objective and succinct, everything the book is not. I could never have imagined this had such a lyrical style of writing based on it. Even Ruby’s beatings were almost poetic and I did not appreciate that.

Quite often I wasn’t even sure what was going on. And my attention would frequently wander. Also, though the descriptions were amazingly beautiful and vivid, I completely forgot what was important to the story itself.

I felt the book was unnecessarily long. There were entire paragraphs that didn’t add anything to the story, maybe even chapters, like the Evil Book one. There was no reason at all to burn that book. I at least had long forgotten it by then. Sorry, book lover at heart here.

Yes, it all served to convey an atmosphere of how Ruby felt about what surrounded her and how it affected her, and the paranormal aspect was very subtle and approached in a way I had not seen before. However, I kept wanting the book to end or at least for something relevant to happen.

The Doll Funeral was a curious, new experience that I mildly appreciated.

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 19th to Mar 26th, 2017
GR Review

The Breakdown

Title: The Breakdown

Author: B.A. Paris

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 336 pages | 3364 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publishing Date: June 20th, 2017
 
Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

During a storm, Cass makes a decision not to assist a woman whose car appears to have broke down in of a deserted road in the middle of the woods.
That decision will chase her for the rest of her life.
Also, why is she experiencing memory loss?
Can the two be connected?

Review:

I could tell based on ratings that this is one of those books that people either love or hate. Though I didn’t hate it, I could have done without reading it.

I had a lot of trouble with suspension of disbelief. I struggled to stay interested in the narrative when our main character has so serious memory issues that she just chooses to ignore because she is afraid. She goes through stuff, worries about her state of mind, vents to her husband, and that’s it. She is obviously distraught but neither her husband nor best friend seem to realise it or if they do they just downplay it and shrug it off. And she never turns to anyone else.

So for at least three quarters of the book we are presented with situation after situation where Cass can’t remember things right. And it’s not like there was much of an end goal in sight other than time to go back to work approaching, but even that isn’t mentioned much. So it all felt rather pointless.

It annoyed me because the writing was very engaging, other than the whining protagonist, and I was sure that by the time the book ended it would all make sense and wrap up nicely – which it did. But there was nothing during the large majority of the book to make me interested in what happened. It was just… stuff, you know?

I wonder how much longer the book would have gone on had our main character not stumbled upon the truth accidentally, or rather had it handed to her (literally). Also, it doesn’t make sense that Rachel would tell her about the row in the parking lot. Or that she didn’t mention it to the police when interviewed. With so much at stake it just doesn’t make sense that she would mention that. There’s just too much fitting it too perfectly and we are supposed to believe that it was Jane guiding the events?

So I am still struggling to figure out the point of everything up until that point, which felt rushed due to all the luck involved.

Also, for so long we are presented to this scared person who just gives in. And yet she has the mind to plot all that after she finds out. Even after confessing she was scared to death she wouldn’t make it through the night. It just doesn’t make sense!

As you can see, there isn’t much I can say about why I am not a fan of this book without writing spoilers so I will just say that The Breakdown has its qualities, for sure, particularly the writing, and it is quite different from what is out there. However, as far as the story and characters go I was just not content.

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 16th to Mar 19th, 2017
GR Review

I Found You

Title: I Found You

Author: Lisa Jewell

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 464 pages | 3525 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Arrow

Publishing Date: March 9th, 2017

 

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

In East Yorkshire, Alice, a single mother of three, finds a man sitting on the beach in the middle of the pouring rain wearing nothing but a shirt and jeans. Against her better judgement, she takes him in, after finding out that he does not remember who he is.
At the same time, at Surrey, Lily’s husband goes missing. They have only been married for a couple of weeks and she does not know much about him but she knows he would not just leave like this.
Who is this lost man and how does his past relate to the two stories?

Review:

I Found You started out really well. The writing was very engaging.

I found myself enjoying the chapters about Alice more because she seemed more real, even though she was obviously a bit off in the head:
And even if (…) he’s killed someone, he’d have a good reason for it; she knows he would.
Often saying she knew she was didn’t exactly help, it was just stating the obvious.
It was that realising things well before the character did that threw me off a bit. I mean, it took her forever to really grasp that she was putting her children’s life in danger by bringing in a complete stranger.

There were things that didn’t add up like how on earth she could support herself and three children and an unexpected guest just by selling her art occasionally.
Still, I enjoyed several aspects of this character, particularly her parents and everything she needed to deal with. It was refreshing to read about 40 year-old characters, their daily lives and concerns.

Lily on the other hand, I struggled to relate to. I just don’t get why a 21-year-old would move to another country, without money, without family, not even knowing her fiancé’s family or really much about him – or anyone else in that country, for that matter. It just didn’t seem realistic, fully relying on a single person to survive. And not having any money because Carl payed for everything? Nah, just doesn’t seem feasible. And, again, it took her forever to realise what I had grasped within a few lines.

I did appreciate viewing things at a foreigner’s point of view, since I am not native to the English culture and do find myself wondering about stuff that is so familiar to them.

After that, we get introduced to more characters – brother Gray, sister Kirstie and mysterious Mark – and things get even more interesting. The way the chapters ended made me want to know what came next and I looked forward to finding out how all three storylines would progress.

The way that we are told they are two separate missing men is very well achieved, with innocuous clues here and there. And even the whole memory loss thing, which is so popular in psychological thrillers these days, was quite convincing.

I did anticipate most of the revelations but as the book’s end approached I was surprised on a couple of occasions and appreciate how it wrapped up to the book’s title in the final lines – these days, often times I find myself wondering how a book’s title was picked. Most of them are just so generic. No wonder I can’t remember most titles when thinking of a particular character or storyline. I think this one, simple as it is, will stick with me.

As a note, the ARC’s quality was a disappointment. I am used to not having a chapter index but incomplete words were a first. Sometimes letters were missing in the middle of words, other times the beginning or end, and I had to guess based on context. Most times I could do that, others not so much.

All in all, I Found You was quite enjoyable. Not the most amazing thriller I have read but very enjoyable and I wanted to know what happened to all characters. Recommended.

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 11th to Mar 16th, 2017
GR Review

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Rating: 3.75/5

From IMDB:
A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets.

Review:

The Autopsy of Jane Doe started SO freaking well. I was enthralled right from the opening scene, which first few seconds played with perspective and focus. We are carried from a peaceful environment to a grotesque scene where I jumped a little from my seat just by the exacerbated sound of a camera flash. The photography was stellar. The detail, the angle, the light, everything was superb and simply chilling. There’s a lot of play with perspective and the close-ups of simple objects contribute to the eerie atmosphere. For me, it was easily worth 5 stars till then point.

When we meet our two protagonists, father and son who will perform the autopsy on Jane Doe, I was still excited and in awe. The interaction between characters was believable and I enjoyed seeing how those two handled the work and each other, Austin his father’s pupil, trying to learn his father’s business as best as he could. The photography was still amazing and I was immediately hooked by how familiar the creepy workplace worked. These guys could not be more normal and this was their home. Sure, it had the potential to be creepy, but it felt safe and normal, if that makes any sense.

Throughout these scenes there were several suspenseful moments where the director had me slowly nudging towards the edge of my seat. I never knew if something really bad was going to happen. And the fact is, it usually did not, not in the way I am used to. There were no easy scares up to this point. There were several freaky elements that contributed to a creepy atmosphere but all in all it was a serious approach to the reality of two coroners. The gross stuff came so naturally I didn’t ever see it coming until it was in my face. The sounds were so graphic that I actually gagged on more than one occasion.

I really enjoyed the movie till about two thirds or so. Then it all started going downhill for me.
The father’s theory about what was happening seemed farfetched, Austin annoyed the heck out of me cause he kept putting his face in harm’s way and the acting or script was just bad, I still can’t figure out which. I mean, who peeks through a hole, suddenly sees a corpse looking back at him, just nonchalantly begins to figure out the next step? I am ashamed to admit I shrieked in that scene because I was firmly convinced nothing would happen, considering the previous setup, and that guy does even twitch. Eurgh.

Towards the end I felt like such a great work of art was being mistreated for no good reason. The film just became a mockery of what it had been until then – even though the scariest scene of the movie, for me, came then. And when I thought I could not be more annoyed, the last second of the movie proved me otherwise.

I don’t get it. I swear I don’t get how anyone could butcher such an awesome movie, a gem amongst all other horror stuff out there. So yeah, I am still a bit upset.

One of the Boys

Title: One of the Boys

Author: Daniel Magariel

Genres: Contemporary | Literary

Length: 176 pages | 1654 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Scribner

Publishing Date: March 14th, 2017

 

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

After a bitter divorce, a 12 year old boy and his brother go to live with their father, who they admire and fear in equal parts.
Thinking they finally escaped hell, they find that it has only taken a different shape.

Review:

One of the Boys is a harrowing tale. When you think you have read or watched pretty much all bad things that could happen to a kid, this little book goes the extra mile.

It is quite a rotten coming-of-age story. There isn’t much I can say without spoiling it, but the psychological depth of the characters is palpable and the range of emotions is disturbing.
It was so sad watching those children go from feeling bliss and pride to absolute terror and guilt.
Watching our main character grow and come to realise what was what was quite a bittersweet feeling.

I believe I was not so invested in the tale because the boy did not sound 12. Maybe also because the characters are all nameless? I don’t know. I am still mulling over why such ugly things did not move me more.

Also, the ending disappointed me very much. While I am not immune to the beauty of it, I felt it was out of place, especially since there was not a prologue to mimic. I think I would be happier with book finishing in that last chapter before the epilogue. If you’re going to leave an open ending, might as well stay true to the tone of the rest of the story.

Alas, One of the Boys is gruesome. I think I will need to take a break or read something lighter after this.

Note: This book will be published in 3 days.

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 10h to Mar 11th, 2017
GR Review

The Fifth Reflection

Title: The Fifth Reflection

Author: Ellen Kirschman

Genres: Crime | Mystery

Length: 272 pages | 3013 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3/5

 

Premise:

Dot is a Psychologist at the police Kenilworth PD in her fifties trying to give another chance at having her relationship. But when her fiancée’s teacher and friend calls him distraught because her toddler was taken, this will affect both Dot’s personal and professional life. Who took Chrissy? And what will finding the truth cost Dot?

Review:

The Fifth Reflection was not a bad book but it wasn’t utterly amazing.

I actually really enjoyed the first chapter, almost more than the rest of the book, because of the familiar setting and the fact that the characters were older than I am used to finding in fiction I enjoy reading. It was interesting to see how they related and how they welcomed Frank’s girlfriend into their mist. However, Dot came across as much more posh than she turned out to be, whereas Frank developed into almost the opposite, with all his fancy cooking.

When the author jumps back in time to introduce us to the very particular circumstances of Chrissy’s disappearance, I lost a bit of interest, probably because it was a brake in the pace I had so enjoyed. And as the narrative evolved I could not understand why Dot kept inserting herself to the investigation when it was obvious it was putting a strain on her relationship with Frank and that the results of her doing so weren’t good for the investigation either. It’s almost as if she was investigating for our benefit. It would have made more sense to follow someone more personally invested in the event.
On the other hand, I enjoyed discovering what a psychologist at a police station is supposed to do.

Towards the end things just felt clumsy and rushed. Things begin falling into place much too nicely, with a character even spelling things out for us: It would cut down considerably on the investigation if this were a rare comestic not widely available for sale. I didn’t even get why no fingerprints were recovered from either Chrissy, the blanket or the box. I don’t remember any mentions of the perp wearing gloves.

The Fifth Reflection is not your typical psychological thriller full of twists and turns, where you are utterly surprised by each revelation. It has its own pace, with an unusual but fairly relateable main character and it was an enjoyable read, just not something I was absolutely looking forward to pick back up.

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 5h to Mar 10th, 2017
GR Review

The OA

The OA

Having gone missing seven years ago, the previously blind Prairie returns home, now in her 20s with her sight restored. While many believe she is a miracle, others worry that she could be dangerous. – IMDB


I came across this by accident. I was curious that Brad Pitt was an executive producer for it and the premise really intrigued me.

The pilot reassured me that this was something I would enjoy. A young blind woman who had been missing for 7 years not only returns but is now able to see. As she comes across the least expected secondary characters, the story evolves into something unique, pure even, with a hint of sci-fi/fantasy.

The more you learn about what Prairie endured the more heart-breaking but also hopeful you feel for her. Each episode left me wanting more and I struggled to pace myself and leave another episode for next time because I wanted it to last.

The OA is truly a true piece of art that demands your full attention. I absolutely love the camera work here and above all the sound production. When you consider the two together it is really something special.

There are so many plot holes, though. There were just so many things that did not make sense like there is no way she could reach to her back to make those scars or we never even get to know why she jumped to the water on that first episode; maybe one of the most blatant ones is Steve being sent away, Betty pays 50k for him, and then he is back to normal life – just to name a couple.

Also, I could never relate to the characters and still don’t know how they got pulled in to all the craziness.
I don’t remember any episodes focusing on Jesse at all so that one’s a complete stranger for me.

And finally, the last episode was a big let down for me, and I can see why several people wrote reviews stating that the entire thing was an enormous waste of time.

I don’t regret watching it. I still think it is beautiful to watch, the image and sound are amazing, but the content could have definitely been improved.
I believe I would watch a new season.