My Sister’s Bones

Title: My Sister’s Bones

Author: Nuala Ellwood

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 400 pages | 3605 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Penguin UK

Publishing Date: March 28th, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

Sisters Kate and Sally have been estranged for years. When their mother passes away and Kate returns to her hometown, she is faced with all the memories of her childhood and her sister’s degradation.
Sally has become an alcoholic and her husband Paul thinks only Kate can help her. Can she do it? And if so, will she keep her sanity?

Review:

My Sister’s Bones features the mother of all unreliable main characters. Our Kate is a war reporter and to say she has skeletons in her closet is and understatement.

In Part 1, the narrative advances between current events, where Kate is locked up, and the previous week’s, when she returned to her hometown after her mother’s passing. As the story advances we find that Kate refuses to deal with her hallucinations, a result of witnessing such horrors, and that several bad things have happened both recently and as Kate was growing up.

During that first part I found some things quite repetitive and Kate annoyed me both in past and current accounts. Her insistence that the interviewer must not realise the truth about her state of mind particularly irked me because it seemed obvious to me that she needed help.

Towards the end of part 1, about halfway through the book, things start to get interesting and in Part two the narrative is done by a different character. After that I was really invested and wanted to know what came next.

So I didn’t find the stuff that happened in the first half that interesting and I actually had to fight the urge to skim through the text because the unreliability of the character was taken to extreme. I didn’t know what the heck was going on. On the other hand, I found myself exhausted by the book. All the characters and situations were so dismaying.

I had anticipated some of what happened or at least who was responsible but I was still quite surprised at a few revelations.

A solid 3.5 stars.

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 18th to May 21th, 2017
GR Review

Viral

Viral

Rating: 2/5

From IMDB:

Following the outbreak of a virus that wipes out the majority of the human population, a young woman documents her family’s new life in quarantine and tries to protect her infected sister.

Review:

I am not sure why I bothered to watch this one. I had a feeling it would be more of the same and for the most part it was. However, the main character’s innocence was quite believable and that added an interesting nuance to the film. The family dynamic was also well achieved.

There was one single scary scene and another that was quite tense; the others were just gross or boring. I liked that the build-up was slow because it added to the sense of normalcy prior to the events but I wish something interesting had happened, especially something that had made me connect to the main characters more. Instead it focused on Emma’s attraction towards Evan and nothing is really new. The characters’ decisions don’t make sense for the most part and although there is talk of a conspiracy and the concern of the two sisters for each other, after a while the puppy love gets annoying.

Also, for the entire movie we see infected people turning into zombies, completely blacking out and not being themselves anymore, yet for some reason the main character’s sister is able to control it enough so we can see she is struggling and tells her sister to stay away or it will make her hurt her.

I don’t know, stuff just didn’t add up. I was looking forward to a movie about a parasite that controlled people and their behaviour and there is so much that could have been done with this. In the end I was quite disappointed.

Get Out

Get Out

Rating: 4/5

From IMDB:

A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate.

Review:

This was pretty good. Unfortunately, as seems to be the norm lately, the trailer had already shown the creepiest scenes but there was still plenty to get freaked out about as Chris descends from his normal life to the craziness going on in his girlfriend’s hometown.

The characters are quite well-developed; this isn’t your regular thriller/horror movie. Chris grows on you and you feel for him. Also, his hilarious friend brings some welcomed contrast and humorous relief to the heaviness imbued in some scenes.

One of the first scenes, that you can actually see in the trailer, when they are driving and something hits the car, as well as the moments afterwards, is quite intense. The detail of image and sound grasps the viewer and doesn’t let go.

There are several moments when the visual and audio artistry is clear – but again, most are viewable in the trailer, which I find a shame.
The soundtrack adds to it, beginning with the opening credits. Boy, that tune freaked me out.

As for the plot… There is some surreal stuff going on in the suburbs. I got the chills for Chris as he slowly realised he seemed to be the only normal person around there. And all his reactions, as well as his girlfriend’s, were believable, which is not usually an easy feat in a horror film.

Pretty much my only criticism is that, especially towards the end, some things were oversimplified, and that took away some of the enjoyment. I craved a better explanation for several scenes. But overall I was thrilled, and I felt that Betty Gabriel’s performance was particularly superb, though everyone was great.

Recommended even if you are not a fan of horror movies, but enjoy suspense and mystery.

The Marsh King’s Daughter

Title: The Marsh King’s Daughter

Author: Karen Dionne

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 320 pages | 3194 Kindle locations

Source: Edelweiss

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Publishing Date: June 13th, 2017

Rating: 4.25/5

Premise:

Helena grew up in the marsh, not knowing that her father had abducted her mother.
She has managed to make a life for her in the outside world but now her father has escaped prison. She is the only one who truly knows what he is capable of and hence the only one who can stop him. But at what cost?

Review:

Blimey, this was not an easy book! It is extremely psychologically charged and even though I had to suspend disbelief a couple of times, like when Helena mentions she taught herself to read when she was 3 or when she knows how to count out of the blue – and I definitely don’t understand how Stephen could be married to her and not want to know where all the stuff that must have been clearly wrong with his wife came from, the fact is the author managed an amazing balance between making this character interesting while not imbuing her with knowledge she was not supposed to have acquired due to her isolation.

The book starts with an account of a normal day in Helena’s life. She has her jam and jelly home business, a loyal dog and most importantly a beautiful family. Who don’t have the slightest idea of her past. All that is jeopardised when her father breaks out of jail because she knows he will be coming for her.

The narrative is interspersed with snippets of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale and I loved how it related to Helena’s own story. In her account she goes back and forward between her time growing up and her current predicament. The pace succeeds at keeping the reader interested in knowing what comes next on both timelines, especially since Helena makes sure to include both her views as her child and as an emancipated adult.

For me, the novel brings the whole unlikeable character think to a whole new level. I tried to sympathise with Helena but it was not easy to read all the awful things she thought, particularly of her mother, even as an adult. Sometimes she said she understood her actions while others it seemed clear she didn’t. However, this came around more nicely towards the end so I came to terms with her. Overall I find this an extremely well developed character and there was so much that could have gone wrong.

Still, at times Helena sounded so conceited and I especially did not get why she would underestimate her father, like she really expected to best him, just because she won a game – whose rules her father had made. This lack of humility is present throughout the narrative and it was difficult to accept. However, even the things I did not like made sense and she is after all her father’s daughter.

I highly recommend this book but be prepared for some heavy stuff.

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

Read from Apr 29th to May 1st, 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

You Don’t Know Me

Title: You Don’t Know Me

Author: Imran Mahmood

Genres: Contemporary | Mystery

Length: 400 pages | 3347 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: June 27th, 2017

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

An unnamed defendant accused of murder decides to fire his barrister just before closing speeches. He stands accused of murder and he decides to tell the entire story. There are 8 pieces of evidence against them and upon hearing them you will think he is guilty. But did he really do it? Hear his story and get to know him.

Review:

You Don’t Know Me was a curious, new experience that took me a while to get into but once I did I was hooked. The narrative style is unlike anything I have read, with so many colloquial expressions. Stuff like ‘Blood, you coming to my yard, innit?’ I don’t know, I am making it up but yeah those words were all used in the book.
I don’t know if young black people talk like that in England but after I got used to it I was entranced.

It got a bit repetitive, especially with the defendant asking to jury to have patience because there is a lot he needs to tell but that is all part of the character. He was a really well-built one. This unnamed young man obviously doesn’t have much education but he can stay stuff like She was never going to get over it, just like you never really get over a death. All that happens is that the sorrow gets older. It’s like a light that gets fader and fader. One day after years have passed maybe the sorrow is too covered in dust to see properly see what it is but it is still there. It’s just harder to see.
He has a passion for cars and has made an honest living of them. He is not involved in a gang but people around him are and he is dragged into a plot that he didn’t really choose.

I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the guy because it was so obvious he loved Kira way more than he loved him. I am not sure how believable all that stuff is but that is part of the story – he is telling you his version of what happened and it is up to you to believe him or not.

Still, there was a few things I am still not sure I can buy, starting with a 10-day closing speech. I don’t have information on whether that is possible but it doesn’t seem like it, does it?

This book is thought-provoking and defies any prejudices the reader may have. It forces you not to stereotype this young man and really look at him as a person whose life is dependant on your / the jury’s opinion on him. He tells you a story and, in the end, you decide if he lives or dies.

It is a truly compelling book and I highly 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 Mar 26th to Mar 31st, 2017
GR Review

The Doll Funeral

Title: The Doll Funeral

Author: Kate Hamer

Genres: Mystery | Paranormal

Length: 368 pages | 4060 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Publishing Date: February 16th, 2017

Rating: 2.75/5

Premise:

On her thirteenth birthday, Ruby finds out she is adopted.
From then on she strives to find her real parents. She will rely on the help of Shadow Boy and new found friends.

Review:

Phew, I was beginning to wonder if I would ever finish this one.

First of all, to say this blurb is misleading is an understatement. It is objective and succinct, everything the book is not. I could never have imagined this had such a lyrical style of writing based on it. Even Ruby’s beatings were almost poetic and I did not appreciate that.

Quite often I wasn’t even sure what was going on. And my attention would frequently wander. Also, though the descriptions were amazingly beautiful and vivid, I completely forgot what was important to the story itself.

I felt the book was unnecessarily long. There were entire paragraphs that didn’t add anything to the story, maybe even chapters, like the Evil Book one. There was no reason at all to burn that book. I at least had long forgotten it by then. Sorry, book lover at heart here.

Yes, it all served to convey an atmosphere of how Ruby felt about what surrounded her and how it affected her, and the paranormal aspect was very subtle and approached in a way I had not seen before. However, I kept wanting the book to end or at least for something relevant to happen.

The Doll Funeral was a curious, new experience that I mildly appreciated.

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 19th to Mar 26th, 2017
GR Review