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

The Primrose Path

Title: The Primrose Path

Author: Rebecca Griffiths

Genres: Contemporary | Mystery

Length: 400 pages

Source: Purchased

Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: August 11th 2016

Rating: 2/5

Premise:

Rachel just moved to Wales following a traumatic event. However, she never feels quite safe and, as pretty blonde girls much like herself start getting killed near where she lives, all the trauma returns. Is she safe? Can she finally be happy?

Review:

I have to admit I don’t understand the hype around this book. With such an interesting premise, I was extremely excited to pick it up. The writing is good, it’s enthralling actually. The prelude in particular absolutely blew me away. It set my expectations much too high.

However, first of all, the pace is dreadful. I though the book dragged on to the point where I actually felt like dropping it. When things began to show a modicum of interest, it would immediately become intensively descriptive again and I would think, ok what am I reading here? Surely not a mystery/thriller as I had hoped. Some parts annoyed me in particular, like a character’s numerous mentions of a secret, and never developing beyond that. There was just that annoying, repetitive hint, and that was it.

So you have like 95% of the book dragging on, developing in a crazy amount of directions. On the last 5% or so, the writer attempts to solve all the mysteries she has been developing. At least I think she tried, I’m not entirely sure. The fact is it was a dreadful attempt. Not only did it feel rushed, but many things didn’t make sense, and so, so much was left unanswered. With what she achieved in the rest of the book, I find there was such potential for real character development here and it was ruined, in my opinion.

And finally, the blurb was so deceptive. To this point I have no idea what this refers to: Settling into the small community she is now part of, Sarah soon realises that someone is watching her. Someone who seems to know everything about her …

All in all, this isn’t a novel I would recommend. Maybe if you like nice prose, not as a mystery though.

Spoilers below if you don’t mind them:

1. The entire transition of Rachel’s character made no sense. The things she describes earlier in the book made no sense, even if she believed them then. It’s just not plausible, nor is thinking about herself as Rachel in earlier years instead of Sarah. 2. Who is the killer? What’s their story? What is the point of that character when nothing about them is explained? 3. Did Dai survive or not? 4. Is John Dai’s son or one of Beth’s brothers? 5. Who was watching Sarah in the car Tracy and Idris saw parked outside of her place? 6. What happened to Graham, or to Jennifer?

Read from November 5th 2019 to November 19th 2019.
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 Light Between Oceans

Title: The Light Between Oceans

Author: M.L. Stedman

Genres: Contemporary | Historical Fiction

Length: 362 pages

Source: Gift

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4.25/5

 

Premise:

Tom and his wife live on an almost deserted island, where Tom is the lighthouse’s keeper.
In one April morning, the arrival of a dinghy will force them to make a decision that will change their, and others’, lives forever.

Review:

The Light Between Oceans took me forever to finish because it was a challenge to myself, not something I would normally read. I suppose I am used to more fast paced books so I didn’t find myself looking forward to knowing what came next, more looking forward to seeing what these characters would do with what was dealt to them.

It is most definitely a character driven book, and I have to admit they conquered my heart, particularly Tom. A man with a past that haunts him every step of the way but who always tries to do the right thing. Still, even the more secondary characters had a voice, and their own way of thinking, and their own desires, and I felt compelled by them as well.

Towards the last part of the book, the story takes some twists and turns, and it took my heart along with them. I honestly could not say ‘this is the right thing to do’. I could only suffer alongside with them an hope for good closure, which I got, all things considered.

There isn’t much I can tell you without spoiling the story. It’s one of those that are best savoured if you go into it knowing the least possible, so you can also better understand the characters’ motivations. It will particularly touch you if you are a parent. Just be warned that it broaches extremely difficult subjects, and that sometimes it is nearly impossible to do the right thing, or even tell what it is.

This is an extremely well crafted book and I highly recommend it.

Read from Nov 13th to Dec 27th, 2017
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

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