The Night Circus

Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Genres: Fantasy | Magical Realism | Romance

Length: 490 pages

Source: Book Depository

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

The Circus arrives without warning. (…) It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
The book tell us how did this wonder came to be.

Review:

The Night Circus takes magic to a whole new level. The book is entrancing, whimsical and it just whisked me away whether I wanted to or not.

It is quite an epic tale and did tire me after a while. I was unable to fully feel enraptured by all the beauty because I wanted something more to happen. But that is my own fault. I find myself seeking fantasy less and less and craving more complex characters in each book I read.

However, this was very well done indeed. Even the romance was expertly weaved into the masterful tale and that is usually the part that lets me down the most in a book that has such amazing world building.

I find the narrative quite well achieved. The different timelines and the short chapters using second person bring more dynamic to the book, which definitely helped, even though I was often confused at what happened when.

It is not a book that you can skim through. It is a full-out adventure that you need to completely immerse yourself in and have no room for anything else. However, it will be worth it.

Welcome the Le Cirque des Rêves. Step right in and be mesmerised.

Read from Jun 4th to Jun 11th, 2017
GR Review

Mr Make Believe

Title: Mr Make Believe

Author: Beezy Marsh

Genres: Contemporary | Humour | Romance

Length: 344 pages | 4366 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Ipso Books

Publishing Date: Apr 25th, 2017

Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

Marnie Marlin gave up her career as a journalist to take care of her children and her home. However, her life is not fulfilling and her increasingly distant husband isn’t helping her already low self-esteem.
To help cope, Marnie creates a blog where she takes on the role of Mrs Make Believe. What started out as a hobby will bring huge changes to her life.

Review:

Mr Make Believe is told in a very light way and I am sure pretty much any woman will relate to at least some of it.

It was entertaining but at times I was annoyed by Marnie and how her children played such a small part in her life. She actually sounded much younger, not in her young fourties, and all the ‘but he/she doesn’t like me’ and the ‘woe me I am so fat’ sort of thoughts really got old after a while.

The writing confused me at times, as it was difficult to tell how time elapsed. Also, some expressions were quite repetitive (particularly toned or perfect figures) and several things just not believable at all.

You will probably enjoy Mr Make Believe if you are looking for a light read that addresses the possibility of your fantasies coming true.

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 30th to Jun 4th, 2017
GR Review

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

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

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

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

The Follower

Title: The Follower

Author: Koethi Zan

Genres: Crime | Psychological Thriller

Length: 432 pages | 4807 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

Publishing Date: May 18th, 2017

Rating: 2/5

Premise:

Julie had the perfect life. But one day she is abducted and everything changes.
Julie does not understand why the wife of her kidnapper endures his demeaning attitude towards her and begins trying to win her over. But is that possible? What secrets is Cora hiding?

Review:

Ah, this book… It had such an interesting premise. A victim and two perpetrators. Can she get out of the situation?
Sadly, it didn’t work for me.

As we accompany Julie through the time of her confinement, the narrative is interspersed with snippets of Cora’s life as she grow up, so it became clear early on that this was as much about Julie’s resilience as it was trying to figure out how someone like Cora becomes who she is. That was all well and good.

However, I found it confusing and that it dragged on. I soon grew tired of it as, although Cora’s memories were interesting, they just weren’t enough to pull me in.

I didn’t get Adam’s character and to be honest he annoyed the heck out of me. Stupid decision after stupid decision, it was just overwhelming. I found my attention wandering during his chapters and only found solace when the stuff he uncovered met with Cora’s account of the past.

On the other hand, what I really wanted to know, which was what made the bad guy be that way and where his religious paranoia came from, was never explained. And although the author tried to justify Cora’s descent into James’ craziness I for one didn’t buy it; one minute she finds him a dangerous nutcase and the next she is following him and slowly after fully believing what she had previously seen as crap.

The ending was beyond rushed and by that time I couldn’t stand any of the characters.

Sorry, can’t say I recommend this one.

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 4th to May 7th, 2017
GR Review