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

The Original Ginny Moon

Title: The Original Ginny Moon

Author: Benjamin Ludwig

Genres: Contemporary | Disability

Length: 336 pages | 3486 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Park Row

Publishing Date: May 2nd, 2017

Rating: 4.25/5

Premise:

Ginny loves Michael Jackson, to play basketball and she plays the flute. She is also autistic, so she views the world a bit differently and people don’t always understand her. No one seems to realise how important it is for her to get to her Baby Doll to make sure she is safe, so she will need to come up with a secret plan to do it herself.

Review:

Well, this was a lovely one. I really enjoyed meeting Ginny. This character felt so real.
Before I read this I had some idea of what autism was but I think I had only come across the most extreme cases so I did not really know it was possible to live with this condition and still make a fairly normal life, though obviously restricted.

Ginny only replies to people when there is actually a question, she does not answer if she is asked more than one at a time, she absolutely hates being interrupted, and she will take everything you tell her literally. And she has an outstanding memory.

For the most part I was engrossed in the story but I have to admit after a while the book dragged on a bit for me because Ginny’s quirks are so often repeated and it gets tiresome. Still, there is plenty of tension, with plenty of stuff happening around Ginny that she does not grasp because she is so focused on getting to her Baby Doll.

There is a sensitivity, tenderness and realness to this book that I really appreciated.
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 May 1st to May 4th, 2017
GR Review

The Ridge

Title: The Ridge

Author: John Rector

Genres: Contemporary | Mystery

Length: 284 pages | 3438 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publishing Date: April 25th, 2017

Rating: 3.25/5

Premise:

Megan was just going to talk with Rachel. But things take a terrible turn and something awful happens.
Except it didn’t. At least Megan’s husband doesn’t believe so and all evidence seems to support it.
Is Megan losing her mind? Or is something sinister happening at Willow Ridge?

Review:

In The Ridge we follow main character Megan around from what starts as a pretty ordinary scene of jealousy that morphs into something quite sinister throughout the story.

Megan doesn’t like Rachel due to her advances on her husband so she goes and talks to her. And that’s where what Rachel supposedly did stops being relevant and we begin questioning what the heck is going on in this tight community.
Megan knows what she saw but her husband’s comments about her mental health shine doubt on it. As she comes in contact with other neighbours, more questions arise, along with some clues, about what is happening.

The novel’s pace is good, as we watch Megan struggle with her relationship with her husband, hiding her secret and trying to make sense of what happened. And then there are those dreadful dreams about a little girl and a blue light that she just cannot make sense of.

This has some resemblances to the psychological thrillers out there because there is doubt about the main character’s mental stability as well as the good intentions of those around her. But that is pretty much where the resemblances stop.

The narrative is nice and fluid and though the first line bothered me due to the construction of the sentence, there was a connection to a later chapter that I enjoyed. There is no jumping back and forward in time here and that was refreshing.

As the story develops, there is a good amount of creepy factor and I thought things were getting really interesting. However, as the resolution approached, I was stuck with so many questions that I could not get complete satisfaction out of the book.

If they delete memories, how could Megan remember Julia? Why exactly was Rachel not right, as Megan put it, when she returned the first time? What happened to Mercer’s wife? If she was so important, being a founder and all, why didn’t they bring her back? Is it because the staff does not have those things implanted? Is that why they are not affected by the blue light? Or is there like a different frequency to each person? How does it work?? Why would Mercer’s wife show him the files like she was exposing an ugly truth when she was actually part of it? And why did Fiona not have a bit more stuff in her house to welcome her guests? I get why the rest of the house was empty but she could at least have some cookies and coffee, I don’t know. Not everyone likes tea. That did feel a bit like a plot device to add to the creepiness factor. Besides, Fiona was home when Megan called asking for a ride, so when exactly was she there? And why the heck does no one use cell phones??

So yes, as you can see, a lot of questions. Also, I didn’t really get some of Megan’s choices and that kind of thing usually bothers me quite a lot.

Still, I believe The Ridge is a book you need to appreciate for the ride, not necessarily the destination, as it can be quite enjoyable and an interesting approach on the Stepford Wife concept.

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 April 27th to 29th, 2017
GR Review

The Abscission Zone

Title: The Abscission Zone

Author: Samuel Muggington

Genres: Science Fiction

Length: 338 pages | 4944 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA)

Publishing Date: December 30th, 2016

Rating: 1.5/5

Premise:

A couple of scientists stumble upon a plot for plants to take over Earth.

Review:

This is one of the rare cases where I wished I had looked up the reviews or even just the ratings for a book before I requested it. The blurb sounded so interesting that I just couldn’t resist.

Instead, I got one of the worst character building I have read, if not the worst, and a story that didn’t make much sense.
And the writing… Boy. At times it felt like a pre-teen wrote this book. It was just so underdeveloped.

I cannot begin to tell you how much these characters annoyed me. Every single one of them wanted to do bad things to everyone they came across. And they are such bad-asses in their own minds.

Examples:

Arnie (the boss): I wish you knew my pet name for you: “Dock the Dork.”
Dock: I don’t want to brag but I do know more about plants than almost anyone alive does.
Texie: After I kick that thing’s ass, I am going after you, you stupid (…) asshole. No one pushes me around like this.

And there is so, so much more.

These scientists talk and act nothing like scientists. The first couple of lines of the book were a hint: Texie Raynott raised her eyebrows as she stared into the microscope. Green stuff in cancer cells? That can’t be right. Stuff… That didn’t sound very scientific.

Throughout the first part of the story, random scientific-ish stuff is thrown out there but it feels more like it is meant to show the author did some research about plants because the characters constantly act like hormonal teenagers, kicking everyone’s ass, despite Dock’s constant ‘who knew I was going to die like this’ lines every time he comes across a particularly dire situation.

Some descriptions were quite entertaining and even pretty, but that is about it.

Then in the second part everything changes because for some reason people are able to travel to Mars and actually build a colony there with just 12 people. Things don’t improve much in terms of characters, they still act like teenagers, constantly throwing tantrums, pissed off at something or someone all the time, and think the world of themselves. Back on Earth, freaky assassin plants are replaced by freaky mutations and there are a few changes to human society, but there is no depth to anything, bizarre stuff is just thrown out there, for no apparent purpose other than surprise and enthrall the reader.
It didn’t work.

The book ends with many questions unanswered, so I imagine there will be sequel(s).
I am afraid I am not in the least curious to know what happens to Earth, Mars and least of all these characters.

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 April 23rd to 26th, 2017
GR Review