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

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 Roanoke Girls

Title: The Roanoke Girls

Author: Amy Engel

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 276 pages | 3877 locations

Source: Blogging for Books | Negalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

When she was 15, Lane went to live at Roanoke with her grandparents and cousin Allegra, from whom she discovers the gloomy fate of all Roanoke girls.
Over a decade later, Allegra disappears, and her granddad begs Lane to return.
What happened to Alegra? And can Lane resist Roanoke?

Review:

I am still not 100% sure how to feel about The Roanoke Girls.

It surprised me, that’s for sure, right from the description of Roanoke. It was not a beautiful, imposing mansion like in other novels. Instead, it looked like something an insane person would build, or someone who didn’t give a shit.

I was very thankful for the family tree in the beginning of the book because at some point I didn’t know who was who and how they were related to such and such.

The prose was extremely engaging. I never got tired of it and kept wanting to know what happened next.
However, there was something about the way that was structured that I didn’t find very appealing, for some reason. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the narrative alternates between now and then and the ‘now’ chapters announce things that happened ‘then’ in a somewhat anti-climatic manner. Stuff that is so powerful and is just dropped there. I don’t know.

Ultimately the ‘then’ chapters as well as the ones about each Roanoke girl served to form a picture of the hideousness going on in that house. And although the entire premise resting on a character being so charming to those around them that they get away with it seems a bit far-fetched, I could see how it would come to be, lest of all due to the isolated nature of the people living in that house.

Lane was the epitome of the unlikable main character, which usually doesn’t bother me. However, she came across as unnecessarily bitchy and whiny at times.
Again, I could see why she came to be that way but I guess I needed something to balance that constant nasty feeling out and the fact is every single character was quite depressing.
The ending was very predictable but I still appreciated how it was described.

This book really makes me wish for half stars since it is a solid 3.5 for me. I am very undecided about rating up or down but since ultimately I kept wanting to keep reading I will round it up.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher, Blogging for Books and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Other info:

Read from Feb 28th to Mar 2nd, 2017
GR Review

The House

Title: The House

Author: Simon Lelic

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 340 pages | 3075 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Premise:
Jack and Sydney move in to the perfect London house. A house where they can see themselves growing older.
But why was it so easy to get it? What secrets does the house hold? And what about their mysterious neighbours?

Review:

The House had quite a peculiar narrative style. Jack and Sydney, our main characters, are also our narrators. They write the story as a way of coping with the grisly events they have faced as well as figure out what to do next. It is almost a form of couple therapy too, since they end up writing as much to each other as to the one they want to read the manuscript. The narrative evolves at first as you would expect from someone who is not used to writing, gradually becoming more cohesive and culminating in a chilling diary for both parts.

The House was extremely enthralling. I could not bring myself to put it down and ended up reading it in two sittings, several hours past my usual time to turn in.

There were a few things I am still not sold on. I needed to know why a man would hate his children so much – thirst for control is not nearly enough to cut it for me because he was just plain malevolent and considering I read and watch a lot of profiling stuff I don’t remember coming across anything quite like this. I think that when Syd mentions her therapists would be a great opportunity to insert some relevant researched information about what would make someone tick like that.

Some things felt like plot devices to make the story move along a certain way, that the characters came across certain information only later on to cause the plot twists. For example, Jack not asking for Evan’s future contact since he basically told him he would be moving. Or Syd’s dismissal of her mother’s attitude towards the picture. I don’t get why she didn’t remove it from the frame then since it was obvious her mother knew that person and expected Sydney to know her too. And I feel that the owner leaving absolutely everything behind was not realistic at all – he should at least have taken some personal items that meant more to him; that was just too convenient.

Other than those things, this was a superbly written book featuring very real, vulnerable characters struggling to find happiness. Even if at first I did not like Syd’s voice (she came across as a wee bit bitchy and implicative), she grew on me and I felt all characters were pretty well developed, even the secondary ones.

The House is an utterly amazing read that will surely have you glued to the screen/pages, flipping them as fast as you can.

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 Feb 26h to Feb 27th, 2017
GR Review