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

Holding

Title: Holding

Author: Graham Norton

Genres: Crime | Mystery

Length: 272 pages | 3293 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Atria Books

Publishing Date: Aug 1st, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

In Duneen, Ireland human remains are found in a construction work site.
As Sergeant PJ Collins struggles to find what happened, he discovers a lifetime of secrets and resentments amongst the inhabitants of the sleepy Irish village.

Review:

Holding didn’t hold my attention for the most part, though as the resolution was approaching it got fairly exciting.

For the most part it focuses on the characters, particularly the Sergeant and the struggle with his excessive weight. The quite accurate accounts of all sorts of situations overweight people have to deal with that few stop to consider was very real.

As the narrative reached its climax, it was good to see some characters’ growth and others’ inevitable downfall, not to mention what the author did with a potential love triangle.

But the world building was so shallow; I don’t even understand why the only officer there was Collins, there didn’t even seem to be someone to cover for him if he was sick or something, or to take the calls, even.
Speaking of which, I didn’t get why he had to leave the scene to make a call from the barracks, for instance. What about cell phones?? It was like Duneen was stuck in the past and in that sense I found the cover quite misleading, might I add.

Also, as a mystery, to me, the book ultimately it failed to deliver. Maybe I am too used to huge twists and more complex characters. The simplicity of it all was quite refreshing, so that was nice. I enjoyed it but was never really clinging to the pages wanting to know what happened next. It was more like ok you are all very nice characters but what the heck happened here?

The book felt like a story of a few key characters in a quiet town where everyone seems to know everyone and the mystery was something on the sideline. I would have appreciated a few clues that got the gears running in my brain.

Overall an okay book that I mildly enjoyed with a solid cast of characters that I am left rooting for.

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 Jul 16th to Jul 22nd, 2017
GR Review

Every Last Lie

Title: Every Last Lie

Author: Mary Kubica

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 331 pages | 4486 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Park Row Books

Publishing Date: Jun 27th, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

When Clara’s husband dies her world shatters. If that wasn’t bad enough, her four-year-old daughter Maisie claims suggest that it may not have been an accident.
What exactly happened to Nick? And why is Clara finding so many lies?

Review:

Every Last Lie started well enough for me. I actually did not remember the premise of the book so I thought the way it was revealed was gripping.
I felt for Clara as her world unravelled, but soon enough little things started to bother me, like the fact that she was stuck on Nick and never once wondered about Maisie’s safety.

The narrative switches between the time before and after the crash, Nick and Clara’s points of view respectively, told in the first person. This works very well.
I did not particularly like nor dislike Nick’s chapters. There were certain things that touched me but most of all I had a problem with how he seemed to worship Clara. I did not find that believable at all.

Clara bugged me with her ramblings; some of her thoughts exhausted me and I found myself fighting the urge to skim through the text. Just when things seemed to begin to get interesting, she would step in and be absolutely convinced that something was true when we already knew it was not. I wish the book had been further edited. There was so much there that was just not needed nor added anything to the story.

I had seen the reveal close to the end coming from a long, long way, so even that did not assuage the feeling of discontent.

It is a suspenseful book but the best thing I take from it is the image of Nick and his daughter playing and how we should appreciate each day as if it were the last.

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 Jul 11th to Jul 16th, 2017
GR Review

Borne

Title: Borne

Author: Jeff VanderMeer

Genres: Dystopia | Speculative Fiction

Length: 336 pages | 4590 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Fourth Estate

Publishing Date: June 15th, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

In a ruined, nameless city of the future, a woman named Rachel, who makes her living as a scavenger, finds a creature she names “Borne” entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic, despotic bear. Mord once prowled the corridors of the biotech organization known as the Company, which lies at the outskirts of the city, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly and broke free. Driven insane by his torture at the Company, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers like Rachel.

Review:

OK, I have to admit it straight out – I am shallow and got this mostly because of the cover. I mean, how gorgeous is that? Mesmerising, really. And such a contrast to the world created here, which is completely bleak.

I had read a previous book by the author and I ended up having much of the same feelings while reading Borne. You see, Mr VanderMeer wants to take you on a journey to discover and experience the wonderful worlds he creates and at times I felt completely enthralled. I particularly really loved Borne’s personality. So like a child, eager to know what was around him.

However, in other instances the writing threw me off and again I wished I had had more explanations. Rachel’s narration style could be quite odd in my opinion and I especially disliked her soliloquy about being a ghost and constantly referring to herself in the third person – or rather this other side of her. It wore me out after a while. As this example, there were some parts I could have done without, as I felt they dragged the book on. Still, there is beauty in all.

As my previous experience, as we come towards the end of the book explanations are hinted at but not given and that also left me unsatisfied.
Still, it was an incredibly imaginative world, with biotech and modified creatures and children – there’s even a flying bear in it, for crying out loud, and the author manages to not make it look silly – and you cannot help to be sucked in by the amazingly complex writing, that carries so much meaning, albeit taking quite a lot longer to go through than I had expected.

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 June 11th to Jul 3rd, 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