Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)

Title: Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)

Author: Sylvain Neuvel

Genres: Fantasy | Science Fiction

Length: 304 pages | 4572 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4.25/5

 

Premise:

When she was 11-years-old, Rose Franklin fell through the earth. When she comes to, she finds herself surrounded by glowing symbols and sitting on a giant hand.
Seventeen years later scientists still don’t know what it is. Rose, now a physicist, is closer than anyone else to unveiling the mysteries.
However, what consequences will her success have?

Review:

Sleeping Giants read like mature sci-fi. It is told in the form of interviews, journal entries, reports and news articles, amongst others, so it is safe to say it is not an emotional narrative style. Personally, I loved the detached approach to the narrative and I kept wanting to know what happened next. There were moments of great excitement, suspense and awe and I had never read anything quite like it.

All interviews are conducted by a mysterious individual who orchestrated all efforts into putting together a team to solve the puzzle the book relates.
The book approaches different issues like how government handles delicate situations, work relations, religion, amongst many others.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the narrative style not only because it was detached but because it was subtle. We are told how things happened through different characters and different methods and nothing is repeated, although you may get different perspectives of the same event. So if you are reading something through, let’s say, an interview, there might be a news article after that and then an experiment log and you get to know everything that happened, everything relevant anyway. I appreciate that a lot.

There isn’t much more I can say without giving too much away. Even though the little we know about Mr Mysterious is that he is not military, I cannot see him condone an intimate relationship betwwen co-workers, especially given the importance of the endeavour. I just did not find that believable. Still, I thought the plot was well constructed and this was a surprisingly character-driven story, which is quite unusual, at least from other sci-fi books I read. While the style is not for everyone, I for one enjoyed it very much and 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 Feb 14th to Feb 17th, 2017
GR Review

Little Girl Lost (DI Robyn Carter #1)

Title: Little Girl Lost (DI Robyn Carter #1)

Author: Carol Wyer

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 412 pages | 5551 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Premise:

An 8 year-old-girl goes through a traumatic experience and no one protects her.
A 60 year-old millionaire shows up dead.
A woman is receiving veiled threats about keeping secrets and insinuations that her husband is cheating.
How do these three stories relate?

Review:

Little Girl Lost got me from the first line. That prologue had me gripping my Kindle.

Then we meet our DI, who is working for a private investigation company. I immediately liked her.

She was a results woman. She would catch this guy no matter how long it took to collect the evidence.

Yes, we are told that she is patient and persistent, but more importantly we are shown that through her actions.

There are a few things that I wasn’t sold on: The child voice did not seem that age. Some things didn’t make sense to me like Abigail not trusting that she saw something or heard certain things. I would have to be really messed up to think that, and she was lucid on a couple of occasions. And there were several other details like during the first phone call the perp was supposedly holding a baby and there were no noise at all to indicate that; also, it shouldn’t be that hard for the police to get ahold of the approximate location of a subject using their phone; and the death of Paul was related before Christina’s, which is not chronologically correct.

There were surprisingly little repetitions. Other than variations of Jackson not knowing Abigail’s secrets and that he was really good at solving puzzles, I don’t remember much.

There isn’t a lot I can tell you without giving away the story. Little Girl Lost is full of twists and turns that will set your head spinning and have you turning the pages as quickly as you can.
I had a clue of who was who but I was never 100% sure because the narrative is ambiguous like that, and I really love that, that I was able to put 2 and 2 together but that it wasn’t too obvious – and also that those things that I didn’t get by then didn’t feel under-explained afterwards, which happens to me frequently, endings getting rushed.

I would actually have been happy with the story finishing at like 80%. It felt like the book dragged on a bit after that, especially in the last 10 percent, although there were still plenty of revelations and tension.

Highly recommended, a gem amongst others of the genre. I will definitely be looking out for this author in the future.

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 12th to Feb 14th, 2017
GR Review

Wicked Prayers

Title: Wicked Prayers

Author: S.D. Moore

Genres: Horror | Paranormal

Length: 246 pages | 3753 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 1.5/5

 

Premise:

It all started with a priest not being able to let go of his wife and now dark forces are awakening in Autumntown.
Can the evil be stopped?

Review:

I usually read while eating. Couldn’t do that with this one.
Man, there were some disgusting bits.

Wicked Prayers started really well for me. That prologue immediately grasped my attention.
But shortly after it all went downhill.

I just could not appreciate the characters. The dialogues felt like right out of the crappiest B-movie and the plot was so messily constructed that I could not enjoy the book.

When I was coming to roughly halfway through the book it started to majorly drag out for me. There were pages and pages of useless dialogue and I often innerly yelled Come on, get to the juicy part already and cut it out with the crappy attempts at humour!

The more I read the more it felt like a parody of a horror book instead of a proper one, with soldiers throwing lines like No hot girls are getting eaten on my watch! or Yeah the frickin Beast is a beeeast!

There wasn’t even a proper evolution. One minute the characters did not believe in anything supernatural and then next they are (especially our main character Del) experts on how to kill the ‘monsters’ and how to make the Beast weaker.

I had to keep fighting the urge to skim through the text and trudged through most of the book. More and more characters kept being introduced (or rather dumped into the story) and I just could not keep track, nor felt any will to catch up by that point.

The ARC needs major editing. Lack of punctuation, missing words and misspells (even with main characters names) were just a couple of issues I constantly found.

Wicked Prayers is one of those reads that has so much potential but when you don’t have believable characters it is just ruined, at least for me.

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 7th to Feb 11th, 2017
GR Review

Doll House

Title: Doll House

Author: John Hunt

Genres: Horror | Thriller

Length: 204 pages | 2972 Locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 2/5

Premise:

Olivia is excited to move to uni and live on her own but on her first night she gets abducted by two man in creepy masks.
She wakes up in a pink cell with bolted pink furniture. Olivia is now their doll.
What she endures is not for the faint of heart.
Can she ever escape? And if so, will she ever be able to lead a normal life?

Review:

Doll House is definitely not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of explicit violence.

When I read the blurb for this book I thought that this could be an episode right out of my favourite show, Criminal Minds. A pink cell, two sickos wanting to make this girl their doll – I wondered what made them tick.

The more I read the more disappointed I would get. The characters felt flat, and not only do we not get to know how these guys came to think the way they did but we also do not even find out how they met and teamed up.
And it is indeed creepy to read a man gets an erection every time he thinks of maiming a girl but after a while it is just not enough.

There were other ways in which the psychological aspect majorly lacked. I could never even relate to any of the characters. Harry did not sound like the middle-aged adult he is supposed to be and Olivia just sounded fake, like the author worked too hard to make her sound like a heroine.
Even the constant swear words, which I usually don’t notice because they blend in with the stories when properly used, stood out like a neon sign because they did not add anything.

The writing drove me insane since I kept reading the same things over and over again. Because of that, the book actually dragged on for me.
It also sounded very immature, especially when the voice turned to Harry, or the police detectives, who I just could not take seriously.
Even the attempts at humour were too silly to be funny. Example:

Sargent: So? You’re sure he’s not our guy?
Detective: I’ll be sure when we get DNA. But I’d have to say, at this point, his story checks out. We’ve proven that much of it.
S: Poop.
D: Yes. Poop.
S: Call if you need anything.

The lack of punctuation was an issue as well. The writing just felt clumsy.

Example:

After Davis left Olivia closed the door and locked it behind him. She felt exhausted and leaned her heard against the door, her head swimming with information.

Still, Doll House has its qualities. This is not a book just about twisted men abducting and exerting extreme violence over young women. It’s about what happens if the unthinkable becomes real and the captive breaks free. Would you be able to lead a normal life? Especially if the person who caused you so much pain was still out there? Would you ever feel safe?

It does explore these questions so not all is bad and I am sure several people will enjoy it very much. Unfortunately I did not find it memorable at all and could not help finishing the experience feeling disappointed, especially since even the last line seemed corny.

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 3rd to Feb 6th, 2017

GR Review

Blink

Title: Blink

Author: K.L. Slater

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 295 pages | 4058 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Premise:

Three years ago, Toni’s daughter Evie’s disappeared without a trace.
It takes lying in a bed fully aware without being able to move to bring some insight into what happened all that time ago.

Review:

I struggled with suspension of belief on this one. I just did not get how someone could be fully conscious and no doctors realise it. Surely there are brain exams that were performed where the brain activity would be noticeable? Also, she needs a machine to breathe for her but somehow she is able to identify scents and she has her eyes open (who has their eyes open in a vegetative state??) and is able to focus on details such as a doctor’s open pores but no change occurs in her eyes?

It took me a while to warm up to it but once I did, about halfway in or so, I flipped the pages as quickly as I could. I enjoyed how the narrative was presented, with different voices – even little Evie’s – and mysterious character(s). The suspense built up.

Then at the beginning of the last fifth of the story we get the much advertised shocking plot twist (I truly dislike seeing that by the way, it was even in my ARC book title).
It is shocking indeed but I for one did not find it believable at all. There was nothing in that character’s past or later explained that would justify that she would view Evie as her own. Actually, pretty much the only background we get is that she had money issues.

Only when I got to the end did I notice I had read a previous novel by the same author and had felt pretty much the same. The books are so emotionally and psychologically charged that the characters’ actions need to be properly backed up and I just don’t feel it happens. It’s almost as if the book is done for shock purpose, all explanations for what had happened felt that way, as well as extremely rushed, and I have to say I don’t really appreciate that.

Still, Blink was very exciting at some points so even though I was not entirely sold I am rating it 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 Jan 31st to Feb 3rd, 2017
GR Review

Hope’s Peak (Harper and Lane #1)

Title: Hope’s Peak (Harper and Lane #1)

Author: Tony Healey

Genres: Crime | Mystery | Thriller

Length: 207 pages | 2848 Locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

A young black girl is found dead, a crown of vines over her head, her eyes closed. She has been brutally assaulted. And she is not the last… nor the first.

Review:

The first book of Hope’s Peak was quite thrilling at times but it left me wanting on several aspects.

First of all, I never even got a clear image of how the detectives look or who they were really. They seemed bland.

Many things did not feel realistic, much like the dialogues. Even the way the detectives addressed each other, particularly Stu calling Harper ‘kiddo’ when they were sleeping together, irked me.

The procedural aspect felt lacking as well. All the time they were using a psychic to move forward in the case I kept wondering how they would justify their findings and it bothered me that neither of the detectives did that.

The scenes where the killer is described are what kept the book up for me and, consequently, the rating. He was a truly wicked fellow.

Hope’s Peak had its highlights but I would not say it shines amongst other of the genre. It is still an exciting read, for the most part.

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 29th to Jan 31st, 2017

GR Review

Never Out of Sight

Title: Never Out of Sight

Author: Louise Stone

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Length: 320 pages | 3579 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4/5

 

Premise:

Freya’s daughter is missing. And now she is torn between telling the truth about where she was and keeping her secret, which would devastate her life as well as those around her. It couldn’t possibly be relevant to Zoe’s disappearance… Right?

Review:

Never Out of Sight gripped me because I felt that this could happen to anyone.

Freya is a woman approaching 50 who is searching for the woman she once was. When she finds a way to do just that, she does not realise how much that affects her life and those in it.
Now her daughter is missing.

As the narrative advances, we watch Freya unravel as she realises she doesn’t really know her own daughter. I was torn between feeling sorry for her and judging her for being so focused on herself and all the self-wallowing, until I reached that conclusion that it really could happen to everyone. If you don’t pay attention, life just goes by, and those who you take for granted may not be there one day and then it is too late to say you love them.

Therefore, this was thought-provoking and heartbreaking. I did feel however that the book got a bit repetitive. Things kept being said over and over as if it was the first time, like when Freya talks about her own parents not showing her love, for instance. When that happened I felt the book dragged on a bit and became uninterested.

It was still very exciting for the most part, though, and even if I had somewhat anticipated what had happened and a couple of things felt off-character, there were still plenty of surprises towards the chilling end. This was a thrilling read and I 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 Jan 28th to Jan 29th, 2017
GR Review

Hangman’s Army (Lake of Sins #3)

Title: Hangman’s Army (Lake of Sins #3)

Author: L.S. O’Dea

Genres: Fantasy | Horror | Paranormal | Post-apocalyptic | Speculative Fiction | Thriller

Length: 565 pages | 7940 locations

Source: Author

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

Book 3 of the Lake of Sins takes place four years after the events of the previous one. While High Hugh Truent was in prison for claiming that all classes were genetically similar, the world outside changed radically. A war is looming… and the allied classes need Hugh.

Review:

When I first looked up the book details I thought whoa, 565 pages, that is going to take me a while. But it went by so fast! I never imagined I would finish in just three days.

I cannot say this enough, L.S. O’Dea is such a talented writer. The pace is relentless but that does not mean that the world and character development is not satisfying, on the contrary. There is a lot going on but it is quite easy to follow and it only made me want to know what happened next.

It’s a YA book, not my favourite genre, so there will always be things I don’t particularly like as the characters end up sounding too dramatic for my taste. Trinity ticked me off a few times but I enjoy to see her keep growing.

There were quite a few repetitions – a lot of disgusted looks, for instance, and the way Hugh kept correcting mother to Sarah and father to General Truent when he found out the truth just felt forced and overdone, just like the excessive compliments on both Trinity and Hugh. I feel that their actions say enough, we don’t need to be told several that Trinity is brave and honest, even through the voice of another character, or that Hugh really doesn’t want more deaths on his conscience.

All in all I had a really good time reading this. Some parts made me laugh out loud, which earned me quite a few puzzled looks on the bus ride home, while others had me biting my nails. Some scenes were just so tense that I figuratively stood on my toes.

I can honestly say this is amongst the best YA reads I have stumbled upon and encourage you to pick up these books. This series has all the ingredients to become an epic.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Jan 25th to Jan 28th, 2017
GR Review

A Collapse of Horses

Title: A Collapse of Horses

Author: Brian Evenson

Genres: Horror | Paranormal | Science Fiction | Short Stories

Length: 220 pages | 2683 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 4/5

Premise:

A varied short story anthology.

Review:

What a wonderful collection of short stories. They manage to be thought-provoking, engaging and entertaining.

Overall they were quite disturbing, exploiting the darkest corners of the human mind, and really got under my skin. Some struck me as almost psychedelic and/or nightmarish. They were not only quite philosophical but also just plain insane and my oh my there were so many types of insanity.

As in all anthologies there were stories I liked better than others and there’s always the feeling of disappointment when I finish a story that is just too short or unresolved, but if you are a fan of the genre and don’t mind your mind being turned into jelly I am sure you will enjoy this.

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 21st to Jan 25th, 2017
GR Review

The Fire Child

Title: The Fire Child

Author: S.K. Tremayne

Genres: Mystery | Psychological Thriller | Thriller

Length: 400 pages | 4007 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3/5

 

Premise:

Rachel moves in to her secluded new home, after having recently married 10 year older David Krethen.
Her stepson acts weirdly and there seem to be too many secrets that no one is willing to talk about.
Is she safe?
What really happened to David’s first wife?

Review:

The Fire Child left me with a bittersweet feeling, much like the author’s previous novel, The Ice Twins. Even the setting was similar.

First of all, when a book requires too much suspension of disbelief I just cannot seem to enjoy it much, no matter how well it is written. Rachel put me off from the beginning. I did not get why she married David so soon, especially since she described herself as an independent feminist. Sure, she can feel attracted to the guy but marry him and give everything up in the span of a few months? Or one month, I think I read somewhere.

She just felt jaded. Like in this quote:
“See you for dinner. You’re a great sitter.”
He kisses me softly before striding away, around the house, heading for his car, calling out for Jamie. Like we are already a family. Safe and happy.

He described her basically as his kid’s babysitter and she says she feels part of the family? I don’t get it.

There were other details, of course, like the maid having lived there for 10 years and at 32 years old still not being able to speak an entire sentence of proper English, let alone have a chat with Rachel.
In order for events to unfold the way they did, our main character had to be isolated and this just felt like a cop-out. I meant, at the very least make her older so she would have more trouble learning a new language or something.

The Fire Child was an intense thriller at times, while at others it got repetitive and I felt that it dragged on. I have read plenty of dark books and have enjoyed probably the large majority of them, but this just felt bleak and desolate for pretty much the entire time. I was confused, annoyed (I could not take one more line of Jamie wanting his mother and then not wanting her anymore because he was scared and then wanting her again) and finished the book beyond disappointed at the wrap-up.

Sure, there is plenty food for thought but it just felt rushed and not believable at all.
I do think that many people will love this novel but the more I think about it the more I realise that there were indeed several isolated episodes where I kept flipping the pages as quickly as I could but, as a whole, the story just did not satisfy me.

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 17th to Jan 21st, 2017
GR Review

Dreams Before the Start of Time

Title: Dreams Before the Start of Time

Author: Anne Charnock

Genres: Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction

Length: 224 pages | 2911 Locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

A family saga spanning five generations revolving about the future of fertility in a very near-future world.

Review:

Dreams Before the Start of Time had my head spinning. It is quite an epic book, spanning five generations. It is not a particularly easy read as it goes back and forth in time and switches characters quite often.

I don’t even know what to say about its content cause there is just so much going on and at the same time not much. We are shown snippets of several characters’ lives, at different points in their life. We meet them as babies and adults and as the narrative advances we get the view them differently but they still have their voices.

Sadly I was unable to connect with the characters. Also, the writing made me uncomfortable, as each chapter or even subchapter ended very abruptly.

However, I did enjoy the sci-fi elements. I especially enjoyed that everything felt like it could happen soon. It is not distant sci-fi as most of the stuff out there. And crazy as it may seem the stuff that comes up during the narrative made me wonder why I hadn’t thought of that before because it could totally happen.

It is a special book indeed. I just wish I could have connected more with the characters and that the narrative didn’t feel so disjointed all the time. Rounding it up because there is so much food for thought and for the originality of the concept, but it is a solid 3.5 for me.

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 12th to Jan 16th, 2017

GR Review