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

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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

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

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