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 One

Title: The One

Author: John Marrs

Genres: Science-Fiction | Thriller

Length: 412 pages | Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Hanover Square

Publishing Date: February 20th, 2018

Rating: 3.25/5

Premise:

A new DNA test guarantees that you will find the one person you are meant to spend the rest of your life with.
As we follow the lives of 5 different people, we find that not all is what it seems.

Review:

I actually finished this book ages ago, back in February, but I did not write a review because I honestly didn’t know what to write, and I had been in a reading and writing slump for a while.

I do remember that I enjoyed the story for the most part, at least until the plot twists came. I didn’t find some of them very believable, as well as some of the characters’ choices, so I was disappointed.

Still, I found it a very thought-provoking book and do 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 February 9th 2018 to ?
GR Review

Hanna Who Fell from the Sky

Title: Hanna Who Fell from the Sky

Author: Christopher Meades

Genres: Contemporary | Magical Realism

Length: 342 pages | 4059 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Park Row

Publishing Date: September 26th, 2017

Rating: 2/5

Premise:

Hannah is about to turn 18 and on her birthday she is to marry a man over twice her age.
A week before, she finds herself questioning for the first time in her life why things are the way they are and what they would be if she were to leave the tight community of Clearhaven. A cryptic story her mother tells her only intensifies her desire, as well as meeting enigmatic, Daniel.

Review:

I wasn’t too sure what to make of this book when I started reading it because even though I enjoyed reading about Hannah and her way of life there were quite some ramblings that, to me, felt pointless. I tried imagining how other characters would view her and could only think of an airhead.

I often found myself wondering who this Hanna was before we were introduced to her. Was she always this absent-minded? Is there really anything to her, besides not wanting to be married to a man more than twice her age and imagining a brave version of herself?

As the story progressed, instead of feeling more engaged I ended up disliking the character more and more, especially when she wanted to leave not because the entire concept of how things were done but because she was so speshul and therefore meant for so much more. And she wonders why other women hate her.

Sadly it was another instance of a very interesting premise being poorly executed. Even the ending was lacklustre and lacking the feeling of redemption I craved. Cannot say this one was a pleasant experience.

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 Jan 14th to Feb 1st, 2018
GR Review

The Blind

Title: The Blind

Author: A.F. Brady

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 400 pages | Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Park Row Books

Publishing Date: September 26th, 2017

Rating: 2/5

Premise:

Sam Jones is the most reputed clinician at the mental health facility where she works.
She finds herself trying to help a mysterious patient who will give nothing away about himself while dealing with her personal issues and struggling to keep them a secret from everyone in her life.

Review:

I grabbed this one because it had two of my favourite themes – mental illnesses and a mystery. However, it’s been a while since I was this disappointed in a book.

For the biggest part, The Blind irked me so much. I just found the main character so annoying. Every situation, including the mysterious patient, seemed to be there as an excuse for her to whine more and descend even further to a rotten place. I couldn’t take much more of her wanting to stab people in the eye or feeling jealous that no one was petting her hair and then going back to her abusive boyfriend. At times I was so close to quitting. I had to pick up another book, which is really uncommon for me.

I appreciated the whole looking perfect to everyone else but suffering so much inside but there really wasn’t much to hold on to, just little clues every once in a while that Samantha never bother to even comment on, let alone try to investigate. I mean, if I found a note with my address and directions for how to get there, I would be seriously worried. All Sam does is comment that the handwriting is not her own.

Towards the end, the chapters got really intriguing, and the pace definitely picked up. I wanted to know more. But ultimately the ending was predictable and it did not make up for the disappointment of the rest of the 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 Sep 28th to Oct 1stth, 2017
GR Review

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