The Home

Title: The Home

Author: Mats Strandberg

Genres: Horror | Thriller

Length: 3645 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Quercus Books – Jo Fletcher Books

Publishing Date: May 14th, 2020

Rating: 4.25/5

Premise:

Joel’s mother had a heart attack a while back and since then she has not been the same. Now her dementia makes it impossible for her to keep living on her own and he has to commit her to Pineshade, while dealing with his guilt, addiction and confrontation with former best friend.
If that wasn’t enough, his mother does not seem like herself. Everyone tells him that is normal in patients with dementia, but is that really the only reason?

Review:

It’s been a while since I read a horror novel, I missed it. And this one did not disappoint.

First of all, it was very refreshing to read a novel taking place in Sweden. I actually didn’t know that beforehand and it was a pleasant surprise.

Our main character Joel is a flawed 38-year-old man who has many regrets. Being back home, seeing his mother in that state, and having to commit her while his brother completely brushes off any responsibility is bad enough, but realizing his former best friend Nina is working in the place where he had to place his mother brings things to a whole new level of “I don’t want to deal with this shit” and you can somehow relate to his struggles to do the right thing but knowing he is ultimately too weak to do it.

I really appreciated how things like homosexuality were dropped in the narrative as only one other detail, not making a big deal out of it. I enjoyed how the author spooled a story of regrets, of “what if’s”, of forcing the characters to confront themselves, their part in what happened the past, and if they could really get beyond it. All this while a parallel supernatural story was also being weaved.

Subtlety is definitely one of my favourite things about this novel. The story took time to develop but I was always interested. And small hints were left here and there making the reader slowly more and more certain that something suspicious is definitely going on.

There were times when I wished the characters would catch up already and I think that last chapter stretched on for longer than necessary but, overall, I really enjoyed this book, I think it was well achieved and definitely 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 Apr 16th to Apr 18th, 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 One

Title: The One

Author: John Marrs

Genres: Science-Fiction | Thriller

Length: 412 pages | Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Hanover Square

Publishing Date: February 20th, 2018

Rating: 3.25/5

Premise:

A new DNA test guarantees that you will find the one person you are meant to spend the rest of your life with.
As we follow the lives of 5 different people, we find that not all is what it seems.

Review:

I actually finished this book ages ago, back in February, but I did not write a review because I honestly didn’t know what to write, and I had been in a reading and writing slump for a while.

I do remember that I enjoyed the story for the most part, at least until the plot twists came. I didn’t find some of them very believable, as well as some of the characters’ choices, so I was disappointed.

Still, I found it a very thought-provoking book and do 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 February 9th 2018 to ?
GR Review

Whispers From the Past (Lake of Sins #5)

Title: Whispers From the Past (Lake of Sins #5)

Author: L.S. O’Dea

Genres: Fantasy | Horror | Paranormal | Post-apocalyptic | Speculative Fiction | Thriller

Length: 508 pages | locations

Source: Author

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

After Trinity’s betrayal, Jethro will stop at nothing to make her pay.
Hugh uncovers secrets that make him break his agreement with Meesus.
And Trinity needs to finish this war, even if she lost both the boy of her dreams and the man of her future.

Review:

I found this one a bit slow to pick up, particularly the first part. But it was good to see the characters evolve.
Also, the bits with the forest witch were quite interesting and I enjoyed seeing how her prophecies unfolded. Secrets began being unveiled and I was captured by how the characters handled this new information.
The war does indeed end but there is much left to deal with, so I am looking forward to the next book.

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

Read from Dec 29th to Jan 13th, 2017
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.

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

Betrayed (Lake Of Sins, #4)

Title: Betrayed (Lake Of Sins, #4)

Author: L.S. O’Dea

Genres: Fantasy | Horror | Paranormal | Post-apocalyptic | Speculative Fiction | Thriller

Length: 513 pages | locations

Source: Author

Format: Mobi

Rating: 3.25/5

Premise:

As the war between the Allied Classes and Almightys progress, Trinity tries to assert her place in the process, though Hugh keeps pushing her way, while struggling with her feelings for Jethro and Hugh.
In the meantime, Jethro’s changes escalate and he is in love with the wild. He has trouble reigning his instincts, both to fight and to mate. Especially when all he wants is Trinity.

Review:

I have to admit that I enjoyed this book less than the others because there was quite an emphasis on romance. There was plenty of tension and I felt for Trinity and how so many misunderstandings would keep happening, all because of something she couldn’t control. However, after a while I just wanted something more.

Still, I enjoyed the book quite a lot. The struggle between classes, the discoveries Hugh makes and each character’s personal struggles really make me want to know what happens next.

Please don’t be discouraged as I am sure that the things that turned me off are the ones that will attract quite a big audience.

As usual this book read really fast, I enjoyed knowing new parts of the world and I cannot wait for the next instalment!

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

Read from Jul 5th to July 10th, 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.

Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant

Rating: 2.5/5

From IMDB:

The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

Review:

What on earth happened here? I find it so difficult to believe the same director was behind this movie and the original Alien.

Alien: Covenant was visually stunning but sadly lacked so badly plot-wise.

The set up of the characters were disheartening to say the list. They seem not to have one scientific bone in their bodies, save for the occasional comment scientific-ish character. There was certainly not enough to match to the original one, where Ripley just blew everyone away. I found everyone in the movie so forgettable, except for the androids.

That crew makes the most ridiculous decisions. I don’t understand why they would leave the ship without a protective suit, for one. Let alone all the silliness that ensued. They don’t seem to question anything, save for a remark of how there was absolute silence – no birds, no bugs, nothing – just thrown out there and then quickly forgotten. They just keep hiking along in search of the mysterious sign they picked up while on board the main ship.

I also did not like how the creature that burst out of the host’s chest was changed. Not only was it obviously fake but it made more sense that it would evolve from that worm-like state – it still gives me chills thinking of the discarded skin, like a snake.

The reveal at the end was beyond obvious and I really wish the movie had ended there. But sadly they had to keep it open for a sequel.

The entire movie lacked finesse, tension, build-up. In the end I enjoyed it more due to the psychological horror achieved by Michael Fassbender’s superb performance and the stunning visuals. I am fairly confident that the few glimpses I will save from this film are David’s expressions and postures.