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

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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

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