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

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The Darkest Lies

Title: The Darkest Lies

Author: Barbara Copperthwaite

Genres: Crime | Psychological Thriller

Length: 404 pages | 5183 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: May 12th, 2017

Rating: 2.75/5

Premise:

Beth is a 13 year old girl who absolutely loves her family but is also growing up.
One day she goes missing. As her mother investigates what happened to Beth, she finds out that her daughter had lots of secrets, and so do the people she has known all her life.

Review:

The Darkest Lies mostly alternates between a third-person narration of what happened to Beth, a second-person account of her mother’s thoughts in the form of a journal to her daughter, and a mysterious third party with an obviously very nasty agenda. The book started well enough for me as I liked Beth’s character and even though her family seemed perfect, as well as her relationship to them, I found it believable. As events progressed, I could feel her mother’s anguish and found myself immersed in the story.

As Melanie begins asking around I was hesitant because at first people seemed to be telling the truth but it was just not possible to hit so many dead ends in a town where everyone seems to know other people, so the suspense definitely built up as Melanie realised some were hiding something but she didn’t know what.

However, after a while the book began dragging and found myself progressively annoyed at Melanie’s constant bad decisions and obliviousness at some hints that seemed obvious to me and she would either not realise or choose not to follow up on. I found her hero complex was just plain arrogance in disguise and her assumption that the police was doing nothing just because they could not share details of the investigation was frankly quite irritating. At some point I just couldn’t wait for all the red herrings to be put out of the way and to find out something tangible, but unfortunately all that was saved for the last few chapters.

I find that when books advertise a big twisty plot I can’t wait to get to it and end up not enjoying the journey much at all. From what I read in other reviews, other readers feel the same way. I did try not to let it affect me but, even though I enjoyed reading some descriptions, as well as watching Melanie realise that there was so much she didn’t know about her daughter, not to mention Beth’s own issues keeping other people’s secrets, the fact is I got more and more annoyed with Melanie, and by the time I got to half the book (which by the way took me a week) I could not stand her. On the other hand, Jacob’s character was just so hollow, which was a shame because he could have brought some balance to the book.

Things did get more interesteding in the last third of the book. I have to say what happened to Beth was an utter surprise and I did not see it coming but I could not say the same about the other major revelation. As the author goes through everything I had realised long before (even though the way things were said back then were not that accurate to throw the read off) and was so miffed that Melanie didn’t at the time, once again I felt my attention drift and the urge to skim through the text became difficult to resist.

Also, it felt so pointless. Just a plot device for a book that wants to take on too much and show why the main character would devolve like that but it just felt like filler.
In the end, even though there were quite a few good things about The Darkest Lies, I found the build-up tepid and that the subplot contributed in a negative manner to the story, which made me finish the book with a bittersweet 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 8th to May 13th, 2017
GR Review

The Follower

Title: The Follower

Author: Koethi Zan

Genres: Crime | Psychological Thriller

Length: 432 pages | 4807 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

Publishing Date: May 18th, 2017

Rating: 2/5

Premise:

Julie had the perfect life. But one day she is abducted and everything changes.
Julie does not understand why the wife of her kidnapper endures his demeaning attitude towards her and begins trying to win her over. But is that possible? What secrets is Cora hiding?

Review:

Ah, this book… It had such an interesting premise. A victim and two perpetrators. Can she get out of the situation?
Sadly, it didn’t work for me.

As we accompany Julie through the time of her confinement, the narrative is interspersed with snippets of Cora’s life as she grow up, so it became clear early on that this was as much about Julie’s resilience as it was trying to figure out how someone like Cora becomes who she is. That was all well and good.

However, I found it confusing and that it dragged on. I soon grew tired of it as, although Cora’s memories were interesting, they just weren’t enough to pull me in.

I didn’t get Adam’s character and to be honest he annoyed the heck out of me. Stupid decision after stupid decision, it was just overwhelming. I found my attention wandering during his chapters and only found solace when the stuff he uncovered met with Cora’s account of the past.

On the other hand, what I really wanted to know, which was what made the bad guy be that way and where his religious paranoia came from, was never explained. And although the author tried to justify Cora’s descent into James’ craziness I for one didn’t buy it; one minute she finds him a dangerous nutcase and the next she is following him and slowly after fully believing what she had previously seen as crap.

The ending was beyond rushed and by that time I couldn’t stand any of the characters.

Sorry, can’t say I recommend this one.

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 4th to May 7th, 2017
GR Review

The Lost Children (Detective Lucy Harwin #1)

Title: The Lost Children (Detective Lucy Harwin #1)

Author: Helen Phifer

Genres: Crime | Psychological Thriller

Length: 320 pages | 4066 locations

Source: Negalley

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: March 24th, 2017

Rating: 2.5/5

Premise:

Lucy’s return to the police force is anticipated when a body is discovered in a terrible state.
Why was he found on the grounds of the town’s old asylum? Is there a connection to the horrid things that happened there all those years ago?

Review:

So we have another detective series beginning, this time featuring DI Lucy Harwin. I did not find her particularly likeable or otherwise; to be honest, she seemed kind of bland to me. Just your average single cop who lives for her job and goes home to ready made meals and a bottle of wine or vodka.

There was one thing that kept bugging me – Lucy is made to have this terrific sixth sense when really it’s all conjecture and the only way the reader can buy it is because she says those things after we know the killer’s perspective and therefore what exactly happened. Her ‘gut feeling’ is always on the money, even though there is nothing much to support it (example: an open gate).

The book focuses a lot on Lucy and her sidekick Mattie. When that happened I sped read because I wanted to get to the juicy bits and I found those utterly uninteresting. The blurb got to me with the mention of the asylum and I really wanted to learn more about that part. I wish it had been more developed.

I thought certain things were unnecessary clichés, like Mattie’s crush on her. Also, when well used, I don’t even notice swearing in the books, but here it felt completely out of place and unnatural.

I liked the structure of the narrative. The timeline switches between 1975 at the asylum and present day and there are a couple of entries from our killer after the crimes have been committed, which brings the reader a nice perspective. The story flows fairly well, slowly connecting the dots, though a bit slow-paced for my taste because there were just some things I did not appreciate and wanted to move on.

There are several red herrings, some don’t tie that well in the end, several things are unnecessarily repeated (like the mentions of Isabella and her mother) and the ending felt rushed. Although there are some exciting bits my overall assessment is that, considering the amount of series of the sort that are out there and done in a more appealing manner (to me at least), I do not intend to follow this one.

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 14th to Apr 17th, 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 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

See What I Have Done

Title: See What I Have Done

Author: Sarah Schmidt

Genres: Crime | Historical Fiction

Length: 324 pages | 3368 locations

Source: Netgalley

Format: Mobi

Rating: 1.75/5

 

Premise:
On the morning of August 4th 1892 Lizzie Borden cries Someone’s killed Father.
As we go through Lizzie’s fractured memories, as well as three other people’s entries, we try to figure out what exactly happened to Mr Borden.

Review:

Boy, I struggled with this one. At first I thought it was because I am not very used to Historical Fiction and the little I read the prose was not quite so lyrical and random, so I took it as a challenge to read something different and try to enjoy it. However, the more I read the less invested I felt.

I have read quite a lot of books where the narrative jumps back and forth and if done well it adds a new dimension to the story and I feel very involved in it, wanting to know what happened both back then and present day. But here it was just confusing. There are a lot of flashbacks in the middle of chapters so even when they were dated I never knew what was going on or when. One minute a character is having a pretty straight thought, then she thinks of something else and there’s paragraphs and paragraphs of that and by the time that was done I had to really make an effort to remember what she was doing before and catch the thread of the narrative again.

The prose could be absolutely enthralling. Some descriptions were extremely vivid, reaching out to all our five senses and making me feel like I was there. On a couple of occasions where things got pretty gross I was actually sick to my stomach. But good writing is just not enough when nothing much seems to happen and it gets really tiring after a while. Sure, the characters were peculiar and the writing was very good, but after a while that is just not enough.

To this day I don’t get why people kept eating a stew that was obviously spoiled. It felt like they had it for days but then again maybe it was just that one day.

And the worst part is I could not even get closure. The more the book approached the end the more enigmatic and riddled with innuendo the prose got. I never got how Bridget got her money back after it had been confiscated by the police, what was in the mutton broth and if it really was Lizzie who put it there and especially what happened to Abby and Mr Borden. There is only a half-hallucination by Lizzie about her father’s last moments but nothing concrete.

I was extremely disappointed at See What I Have Done. I do think others will enjoy it if they are okay with this prose and not getting closure at the end of the book. It’s one of those I classify under read it for the journey, not the destination, although I am sure even the ending will please folks who love lyrical writing.

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 17h to Feb 21st, 2017
GR Review