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

You Let Me In

Title: You Let Me In

Author: Camilla Bruce

Genres: Horror | Mystery | Thriller

Length: 272 pages | 2374 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: March 5th, 2020

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

Writer Cassandra Tipp goes missing, after a life of being mistrusted as a crazy child and then adult, thought to have done away with murder.
When missing she left a story for her nephews. Presumably it explains everything everyone ever wanted to know about her life.
However, no one is quite prepared for such a tale. Will they believe it?

Review:

The story takes place a year after writer Cassandra Tipp has gone missing. Her nephews receive notification that they are her only heirs, and that they may have access to her entire fortune on one condition: they must read the novel she left for them because it contains the password they must give to Cassandra’s solicitor, so that they can receive the money. What follows is a tale that caught me completely off guard.

What an engaging read. From the first pages I was enthralled. And when Cassie started talking about her Pepper-man, things just gained an entirely new dimension. Soon I was swept away to a world where faeries are real, but not nice fairies, and not necessarily bad either, just needy.

If you let yourself be swept away by the story of Cassie and her Pepper-man as I did, it will disturb you, disgust you even, but it will most definitely not leave you indifferent. I recommend this if you want to read something different, something that defines your perspective on reality. You will definitely need to keep an open mind, though!

Great frantasy read for adults, especially considering it is a debut. Well done!

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 15th to Mar 22nd, 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

Annabelle: Creation

Annabelle: Creation

Rating: 1.5/5

From IMDB:

Twelve years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

Review:

Goodness this movie was bad. I cannot believe the high ratings it has been getting. I am wondering if we watched the same film.
I don’t even know where to begin.

First of all, little things like gorgeous, obviously made up nuns annoy me.

Secondly, what a disjointed, cliché-riddled movie. It didn’t take me long to just wish it would end.

The plot is a joke. There really isn’t one, surely not a proper one.
It’s the arrival of the girls, exploration of the house, scary scenes, more scary scenes, then the owners of the house reveal everything, and then more scary scenes. Throughout the film, incredibly bad, unbelieving acting. Anthony LaPaglia was the only upside for me. He managed to portray a character that was obviously grief-stricken but who would seem quite scary to young kids.

There is so much that didn’t make sense. One minute there is electricity and the next it’s back to match-lit lamps and darkness. There is no reason presented to why the wife can’t walk. And what the heck kind of a reaction was that to Samuel pointing out to Sister Charlotte a fourth nun in the picture, that she had never noticed before?

And finally the pace was SO slow that I was soon yawning and even the scary scenes had absolutely no effect on me. By that point I was simply numb.

I cannot recommend this movie. Watch it if there is no alternative and if you don’t have to pay money for it.

The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower

Rating: 4.5/5

From IMDB:

The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.

Review:

I was really nervous about this one because I am a hardcore Stephen King fan and I had read a couple of nasty reviews about it. But you know what? I really enjoyed myself!

I mean, let’s face it, there is no way thousands of pages could be squeezed into 1h35m. The movie is based on the Dark Tower series, it is not supposed to portray it step by step. And I think the two main characters are as fairly portrayed as possible. Sure, Roland is a lot more talkative, there are some scenes clearly just for FX show and/or comedy, Jake learned to control his power much too quickly/easily and the gunslinger creed is a bit abused, but overall this was an exciting movie and I found myself enthralled.

I was particularly blown away by Matthew McConaughey. How the hell did he manage to create a character that is both so evil AND sexy? I have to admit I had some nasty thoughts watching him. My goodness, how can he just arrive into a room and with one look terrify me? I can’t even properly explain it. He’s all business. He owns his power and has this innate arrogance to him. Really, I can’t explain it, just know this is an incredibly built villain.

Gangly Jake was also a pleasant surprise but next to McConaughey and Elba it was difficult for the boy to shine.

I actually enjoyed the whole gunslinger’s purpose vs revenge. I cannot remember if that was present in the books, I read them quite a while ago, but I felt that was a good theme to serve as the film’s motto.

All in all, I am really happy with this adaptation and was thoroughly entertained. I definitely recommend it.

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

Every Last Lie

Title: Every Last Lie

Author: Mary Kubica

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 331 pages | 4486 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Park Row Books

Publishing Date: Jun 27th, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Premise:

When Clara’s husband dies her world shatters. If that wasn’t bad enough, her four-year-old daughter Maisie claims suggest that it may not have been an accident.
What exactly happened to Nick? And why is Clara finding so many lies?

Review:

Every Last Lie started well enough for me. I actually did not remember the premise of the book so I thought the way it was revealed was gripping.
I felt for Clara as her world unravelled, but soon enough little things started to bother me, like the fact that she was stuck on Nick and never once wondered about Maisie’s safety.

The narrative switches between the time before and after the crash, Nick and Clara’s points of view respectively, told in the first person. This works very well.
I did not particularly like nor dislike Nick’s chapters. There were certain things that touched me but most of all I had a problem with how he seemed to worship Clara. I did not find that believable at all.

Clara bugged me with her ramblings; some of her thoughts exhausted me and I found myself fighting the urge to skim through the text. Just when things seemed to begin to get interesting, she would step in and be absolutely convinced that something was true when we already knew it was not. I wish the book had been further edited. There was so much there that was just not needed nor added anything to the story.

I had seen the reveal close to the end coming from a long, long way, so even that did not assuage the feeling of discontent.

It is a suspenseful book but the best thing I take from it is the image of Nick and his daughter playing and how we should appreciate each day as if it were the last.

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 11th to Jul 16th, 2017
GR Review

Black Butterfly

Black Butterfly

Rating: 4/5

From IMDB:

Outside a mountain town grappling with a series of abductions and murders, Paul (Antonio Banderas), a reclusive writer, struggles to start what he hopes will be a career-saving screenplay.

Review:

Oh wow this was everything I had hoped and more. I could tell Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Antonio Banderas would act their roles well but boy they were brilliant. Banderas was superb in the role of the drunkard functioning writer and Meyer’s controlled lunacy kept me on edge.

The film has a good balance of tension and mystery, in such an idyllic landscape. The photograph and the way some scenes are shot and cut are very well done.

The twist towards the end was not 100% believable but it was good enough to leave me flabbergasted and the way the scenes unfolded after that was spine-chilling.

As has happened lately much too often, the last scene of the movie ruined it big time. It would have been so much better without that, it was an unnecessary cop-out.

Still, I highly recommend Black Butterfly. Savour it, don’t let a single moment slip away because you will want to review everything in the end.

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

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