Review: The Marsh King’s Daughter

the marsh king's daughterThe Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
Published: June 29th, 2017 by Little, Brown Book Group

Genre: Mystery
Rating: ★★★ – I liked it.
Goodreads

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

Synopsis: When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

break

I requested this book because it sounded like an interesting read. A woman who was raised in the marshes? An escaped criminal? I’m in. I quite liked this book, but there were also some things I didn’t love about it. 

This book is about Helena. One part of the book follows Helena as an adult, after her father escapes prison. The other part of the book follows Helena when she was a child, growing up in the marsh. This gives you both the thrilling aspect of an escaped convict she has to chase, and the emotional connection she has with him. 

I liked reading about Helena’s life in the marsh. Growing up without any contact with the outside world seems nearly impossible to me. She only had her mom and dad, and that’s all she knew. So her dad taught her how to survive in the marsh. How to hunt, how to disappear without being seen, how to track game, etc. As a child, she loved those “adventures”. And she idolized her dad. 

I liked reading about her relationship with her father. Obviously, it’s going to be a complex one. As a child, she adored him. She never knew he kidnapped her mom or that he was a bad man. He was just her dad, and he taught her everything she knows. As an adult, she knows what he did and how wrong it is. She knows that her dad is a terrible man. Yet he is still her dad. I found it intriguing to look at a guy I know is terrible through the eyes of an innocent child. 

I liked reading about her growth as a person. Especially in regards to her mom. While I was reading, I thought she was terrible to her mom as a child. And we can read how much adult-Helena regrets that. How she just didn’t understand as a child, and now wishes she had been more compassionate.

liked reading about her life as an adult too. How she used the skills she learned as a child to make money. For example, she goes bear hunting and her jam-making business is her main source of income. How she still has trouble understanding the rest of us at times, and the way we live our lives now. 

I didn’t like the excessive descriptions of hunting. I can deal with some animal deaths, but there were so many in this book. I don’t need to know how you hunt for bears, how you shoot a deer or trap a rabbit. I honestly don’t need to read about you killing animals 1000000 times. I know that was a big part of her life as a child, because that’s how they got their food. But I just couldn’t read any more of it.

I didn’t like the fact that Helena felt she alone could find her dad. In a way, I do understand. If he has made it to the marsh, there is no way the police will find him by themselves. He knows the marshes like the back of his hand, and has no trouble disappearing in them. Helena has a much bigger chance of finding him, because he trained her himself. But why couldn’t she just go to the police, tell them she was their best shot at finding him and guide them through the marsh? Why did she have to go alone?

I was also a tad disappointed with the big reveal on how she and her mom got out of the marsh, and how her dad was caught. It wasn’t the epic showdown I was expecting.

I quite enjoyed reading about Helena’s life, both as an adult and a child. What I loved most was seeing Helena’s dad through her eyes. As a reader, you know he’s a terrible person and a criminal. But she only sees her dad, and doesn’t know any different. That’s such an interesting perspective. I did enjoy this book, but there were some parts I had an issue with.

Mini Reviews | The Disappointed Edition

Hi everyone! I’m so behind on writing my reviews. Honestly. So behind. So I figured I’d make some mini reviews! Not only because that will make it easier for me to catch up, but also because at times I don’t have a ton to say about each book I’ve read. Today, I’m writing a review on two books that have recently let me down: His Bloody Project and The Girls. So let’s get to it! 


the girlsThe Girls by Emma Cline
Published: 14.06.2016

Genre: Fiction (Historical), Adult
Rating: 2.5/5 stars – disappointed and detached
Goodreads

SynopsisEvie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

review

I had heard such amazing things about this book. As I’m trying to expand my genre-horizon, I figured I’d pick up this adult fiction novel. From what I could gather, this was about a teenage girl that got caught up in a cult which ended up killing some people. I heard this was a fictional version of the Manson murders. Sounds exciting, right? Wrong.

I can’t remember exactly how old Evie is at the time, but I believe she’s 14. Correct me if I’m wrong. The story is told in two timelines: one when she’s 14, and one when she is a middle aged woman.

Very little of this story is actually about her involvement with the cult. When it is, she mostly talks about Suzanne (the older girl who got her involved with the cult). Throughout most of this book Evie is either a) lonely and angry at the world, b) a horrible person to others or c) thinking about sex. 

I understand she’s not supposed to be likeable. But I hated how she treated every person, aside from Suzanne. She was always rude. She didn’t always say the rude things she was thinking, but she was always thinking them. I don’t understand how anyone can be so hateful to her supposed friends, and family. 

And the amount of sex in this book is insane. To be clear: I’m not against sex in books, whether it’s adult or YA. But hear me out. Evie is 14 years old. Yet in every single moment, she is thinking about sex. Has her friend had sex? I want sex with her brother. Has he had sex with his girlfriend? Are they doing it right now? She is sexy. ON AND ON IT GOES. I understand that a teenager does think of sex. But please tell me there is something else going on in their lives! 

Overall, this book just disappointed me. There was far too little of the actual cult in there, I don’t even know why the adult-Evie perspective was there because it wasn’t relevant to the story at all, and I was so uncomfortable with the sexual portrayal of a 14 year old girl.


his-bloody-project
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
Published: 05.11.2015

Genre: Crime, Historical Fiction
Rating: 3/5 stars –  didn’t do anything for me
Goodreads

Synopsis: A brutal triple murder in a remote Scottish farming community in 1869 leads to the arrest of seventeen-year-old Roderick Macrae. There is no question that Macrae committed this terrible act. What would lead such a shy and intelligent boy down this bloody path? Will he hang for his crime?

Presented as a collection of documents discovered by the author, His Bloody Project opens with a series of police statements taken from the villagers of Culdie, Ross-shire. They offer conflicting impressions of the accused; one interviewee recalls Macrae as a gentle and quiet child, while another details him as evil and wicked. Chief among the papers is Roderick Macrae’s own memoirs, where he outlines the series of events leading up to the murder in eloquent and affectless prose. There follow medical reports, psychological evaluations, a courtroom transcript from the trial, and other documents that throw both Macrae’s motive and his sanity into question. Graeme Macrae Burnet’s multilayered narrative will keep the reader guessing to the very end.

review

Another one I had such high expectations of. Look, this was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize (I think). That gives me certain expectations. And I thought the concept was really interesting too!

It’s set in a little village in rural Scotland, where a brutal murder takes place. 17-year-old Roderick is arrested and tried for the crime. The story isn’t really told as a story, but rather through the different documents related to his case. You have a few witness accounts, a diary/journal Roderick made of his life leading up to that moment, a psychologist’s views, his lawyer’s views, and a record of the trial. You sort of have to make up your own mind as to whether he’s guilty or not? 

That all sounded really fun to me. Instead, it just left me bored.

You get introduced to the crime by the witness accounts, which were really short and rather interesting. Then Roderick gets to tell you about his entire life. I felt mostly sorry for him, but then I also intensely disliked him. He was smart, but didn’t apply himself to anything. His actions were so incredibly weird and inexplicable at times, and reading about them through his eyes didn’t help you understand him either. From reading his account, I decided he was guilty. Although I also felt like the intended victim deserved what he got. 

I think the point of this book is to make you think about crimes from multiple points of view. Yes, murder is horrible. But are there mitigating circumstances? To what degree can you be held accountable for your actions under certain circumstances, and how can you tell whether someone is still truly sane? I did quite like that aspect. I wouldn’t know how to solve the issue of his sentence nowadays. Yes, I do believe he was guilty. Yet I also believe he was abused so badly, he cannot be tried as completely sane. I appreciate that this book made me think. Yet I wasn’t excited or intrigued by the overall story whatsoever. 

The last aspect of this book, that I found jarring yet realistic was how the accounts differed. Some people saw Roderick as a kind and quiet young guy. Others as a mean and stupid kid. There are subtle differences between Roderick’s story and the autopsy reports too, which make you question everything. 

I’ll conclude by saying this: I think the concept of this book is wonderfully intriguing. Yet I never felt attached to any of the characters, nor did I feel drawn into their story. I trudged through, so I could finish the book. But I wasn’t excited to pick it up.

Review: The Magician’s Workshop

the-magicians-workshop-volume-1The Magician’s Workshop (The Magician’s Workshop Volume 1) by Christopher Hansen & J.R. Fehr
Published: November 8th, 2016 by Wondertale

Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5 stars – it was okay
Goodreads

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

Synopsis: Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop.

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

review

This was a book I received from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. I thought it sounded pretty interesting, so I accepted the review copy. I still think it’s an interesting story. It just wasn’t really for me.

MAGIC

So this book follows several young teenagers in the weeks and days leading up to their Color Ceremony. In this world, everyone can use magic. Their way of using magic is through projections. You can pretty much project anything. For example, you could have a simple cake and project the taste of chocolate onto it. Now, your cake will taste like chocolate. Or you could make something smell like roses, or garbage. Or you could project an animal, or person. Which sounds pretty epic, right? Everyone can project! But not everyone is allowed to. Only magicians who have a Color pulled out of them can perform magic whenever they want. And if you don’t get a Color, but still earn enough chips at the ceremony with your skills, you can join a specific Guild and perform the kind of projections in line with said Guild.

It all sounds amazing. But don’t ask me any details about the way the projections work, okay? Because I can’t give you any. I know there is something called Kingdom, which makes a projection stronger. The more Kingdom you put into it, the stronger it gets. There are other aspects too, but I can’t recall them. There’s also something called The Grand Projection, which is kind of like a theater piece by the Magicians from the Workshop, entirely with projections. It happens once a year, and everyone looks forward to it.

That’s all I know. I don’t know what having a Color pulled out of you means. I only know that most people want it to happen. I just am left with so many questions after reading this, and not just about the magic system.

WORLD

This is where my biggest issue with the book lies. I know absolutely nothing about the world. Where was the world building here? I know these people live on islands, and that there are numbered regions. I could also tell the main characters lived on different islands/in different regions. That’s literally all I know. I find it so hard to get into a fantasy story when I can’t envision the world or the way it came to be.

CHARACTERS

When I received this book for review, I read that the authors had several characters they really wanted to include in the story, and that was the reason they decided to split this up in volumes. And I get that. I was excited. I tend to love multiple POV stories!

But not when there are like 5 or 6 POVs in a story of only 250 pages. I can’t keep up with who is who. I don’t have any time to get invested in their stories. The only ones I really grew to like were Kai and Cody. I feel like the synopsis is kind of misleading with regards to Layauna? Because it makes it seem like she’s a true main character, but she’s only in like 2 chapters. Maybe she is a main character in the series overall. But definitely not in this one. 

I feel like I’m making this sound really bad. It’s not. I still quite enjoyed the read, and I think it’s a fun middle grade fantasy. There were several characters I did like, and whose journeys I was interested in. I just wanted more.

FINAL IMPRESSION

I think the authors have a great imagination, and the idea for these books is wonderful. I enjoyed the idea of projections. I really enjoyed how one of the teenagers was different because he preferred actual experiences instead of projections. It made me think about how much “normal” things we take for granted. 

I think this was a fun and quick read. But I can’t give it more than 3 stars, because I am just left with so many questions about the world and magic system. To clarify: 3 stars is not a bad rating in my opinion. It means I enjoyed the read. 

Review: Hunter

hunterHunter (Hunter #1) by Mercedes Lackey
Published: 01.09.2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, YA
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★
Goodreads

I received this book for free from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

Synopsis: They came after the Diseray. Some were terrors ripped from our collective imaginations, remnants of every mythology across the world. And some were like nothing anyone had ever dreamed up, even in their worst nightmares. Monsters. Long ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were ripped open, and it’s taken centuries to bring back civilization in the wake of the catastrophe. Now, the luckiest Cits live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the hideous creatures fighting to break through. Others are not so lucky. To Joyeaux Charmand, who has been a Hunter in her tight-knit mountain community since she was a child, every Cit without magic deserves her protection from dangerous Othersiders. Then she is called to Apex City, where the best Hunters are kept to protect the most important people. Joy soon realizes that the city’s powerful leaders care more about luring Cits into a false sense of security than protecting them. More and more monsters are getting through the barriers, and the close calls are becoming too frequent to ignore. Yet the Cits have no sense of how much danger they’re in—to them, Joy and her corps of fellow Hunters are just action stars they watch on TV.

review

This book. To be honest, as I’m sitting down to write this review, I have no idea where it’s going to go. Because I don’t think I have coherent thoughts on this book at all. I both loved it, and disliked it. And my brain can’t quite figure out which emotion will win.

WORLD/SETTING

So this book is set in our future, which makes it in my opinion a dystopian novel. In said future, things were going horribly wrong and people thought the Apocalypse was coming. But not fast enough. So some religious extremists bombed the world to further the Apocalypse somewhat. The only thing they achieved though, was creating a world in which Othersiders, monsters, can come through. The only positive aspect is that some humans now have the ability to do magic as well, and they bond with Hounds -the only friendly creatures the Otherworld has brought us. 

Most people survive by living in a big city, or at least right next to one. Although the bigger cities attract more Othersiders, they also have better defenses and so there is a higher chance of survival. During this book, Joy travels to the capital -I think- and thus one of the supposedly best defended places. But is Apex really that safe? 

I quite enjoyed the differences between Joy’s life growing up, and her life now in the city. She was raised on a mountain, in what used to be a Tibetan monastery. I thought this was actually set in Tibet, until she took the train for a day and ended up in the US. So I figure this was a Tibetan monastery in the US? Don’t ask me, I genuinely don’t know. I like simple fantasy settings, so I loved her life on the mountain. It was simple but intriguing. But I also enjoyed watching her discover the city.

Here’s the thing though: what bothered me were her constant reminders of the differences. At first, she compared her life on the mountain to her life now. Which of course I understand, because the mountain was all she had ever known. But after a while I got so annoyed with it. She kept saying: “remember, on the mountain we did it like this. On the mountain, no one was idle. On the mountain…”

I get it, Joy. I am not stupid, you don’t have to repeat every new discovery twice in one page. I can follow your reasoning! 

Aside from that, I quite enjoyed the world, the Othersiders who actually sounded like creepy demons (and sometimes like creepy Pokémon?). I liked that there were a lot of different religions and nationalities represented: Christers (obviously a different word for Christians), Native American people, Mexican people, etc. There were many religions represented in her mountain community, which makes for a very interesting group of people -and teachers. 

NARRATIVE

I usually don’t make a separate heading for the narrative of a story, because it doesn’t tend to jump out at me. In this book however, I felt it was different from the first moment. 

Here’s the thing. When I’m reading, I usually feel like the person sitting in a movie theater watching the story of these characters. They obviously have no idea I’m watching their journey, because they’re in the movie. With this book though, I felt like Joy had made a video specifically for me. Like she started recording, addressed me, and asked me to listen to her story. It’s like she’s telling it to you? I don’t know whether what I’m saying makes sense but I feel like I’m reading her monologue, in a way. 

I found that really interesting at first! I know some people had their issues with it, but I didn’t. I do have to admit that after a while, certain aspects got on my nerves a bit. For example, they way Joy kept telling me “remember” and they referred back to something she had explained earlier. I do remember. You don’t have to repeat it that often. Or that she made sentences with “but yeah” and “like” the way you would when you’re talking. I feel like that doesn’t really translate well to the page.

PLOT

I feel like I really can’t say anything about this, because that would spoil your reading experience. I will just say that I wasn’t bored for a second. A lot of people had trouble at the start of this book, because there’s a lot of information coming at you, when Joy is on the train. It’s really a bit infodumpy. I usually hate that, but in this case I didn’t have a problem with it -mainly because of the narrative I think.

I quite enjoyed the story line of this book, and the world, which are the biggest reasons that I want to continue the series. I need to know what happens next, because the big mystery of this book didn’t really get solved.

CHARACTERS

Of course, we need to talk about Joy. I really like how much she cares about people, and how hard she works. She helps people because she feels like that’s her duty, and that’s what she wants to do. So I appreciate how genuine and selfless she could be. Of course, I like a good story about a girl with a lot of power and kickass battle skills. I liked how protective and kind she was to her friends, and also how open-minded she could be towards people who didn’t share her beliefs/opinions. The only thing I didn’t really like is how she conveniently was able to do everything required because of her mountain-upbringing. For example: all the Hunters are stumped with this new monsters. Luckily, we’ve seen it on the mountain and I know just the magic spell to defeat them. That gets a bit old after a while. But overall, I really enjoyed her as a main character. 

I also liked Josh. I feel like this is the first time there’s an uncomplicated, non-instalove, non-love-triangle romance in a YA fantasy. She met this guy, thought he was cute, and so they started going on dates. They really like each other. It’s cute. I appreciate that. I do think that having a Psimon (who are basically telepaths) as a boyfriend could have its disadvantages… 


I thought that I’d have my thoughts all figured out by the end of this review. It turns out, I still don’t. Here’s what I’ll say. I really enjoyed the actual story line and I think the world is very interesting. Most of the time, I also enjoy reading from Joy’s perspective. I think my main frustrations lie with the narration-style at times, and Joy’s convenient knowledge. I think I do want to continue the series, to see what happens next. 

Review: The Fix

the fixThe Fix by Natasha Sinel
Published: 01.09.2015 by Sky Pony Press
Genre: YA, contemporary
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★
Goodreads

I received this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way. 

Synopsis: One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open. Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone. On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother. But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

review

First of all, can I say I want that dress or skirt the person on the cover is wearing? That’s so beautiful… I requested this book when I was in a contemporary YA mood, and it seemed like an interesting read. And it definitely was very interesting. I just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. 

So this is the story of Macy and Sebastian, who both are battling certain memories or aspects from their pasts. Sebastian is a drug addict, and Macy… well, I don’t want to tell you yet. The point is that they meet at a party. They talk, but get interrupted and leave. The next day, Sebastian gets checked into a hospital by his mother and Macy starts to visit him. 

I’ll start with what I liked. I liked that this book talked about addiction, depression, abuse, therapy and hospitals for teenagers. It’s important to discuss these things. I’m glad they showed therapy in a positive light, how it helped Sebastian. That’s something that should be mentioned in a positive light more -therapy still seems to be a sensitive topic to many. So I loved that part.

I also think the family dynamics in this book are complex and interesting especially in Macy’s case. She has a father who’s away more than he’s home, a mother she feels is too superficial, a younger brother she adores and a cousin who lived with them for years when his parents passed away. I loved how this book showed different aspects of a family’s relationships. Macy had a great relationship with her younger brother, and I think she was an incredible sister to him. She loved her father, even though he wasn’t there often. And her relationship with her mother… well, it was strained. I thought it was incredibly interesting to see why these relationships were the way they were, what events and emotions led to them. 

I also think Sebastian’s past was interesting, though very tragic. However, while I’m writing this review I feel like his life was far less developed than Macy’s was. But I think he was an interesting guy. I liked how he “pushed” Macy to talk to someone, at the very least. To confront her feelings. To understand that it’s not okay, and to say so to someone. 

Like I said, I enjoyed the issues this story addressed. I think they’re important. But if I separate that from the actual story, I can’t say I love both aspects as much. The story itself wasn’t very captivating to me. I saw most of it coming, aside from one twist at the end. It was all quite predictable, and included some tropes I’m really not a fan of. For example, the trope in which you meet someone who understands you immediately after one sentence, like no one else has. I understand you can feel an understanding and connection after talking to someone, but in this overblown way? Also, I hate cheating. There is no excuse whatsoever for it. Never.

Overall, I think the issues addressed were important but I didn’t love the actual story as much. It was a story I enjoyed, and so I gave it a 3-star rating. It was nice, but it didn’t blow me away. 

3 3-star mini reviews | Snakewood, The Girl on the Train & Secrets of the Lighthouse

snakewoodSnakewood by Adrian Selby
Published: 15.03.2016 by Orbit
Genre: Fantasy, Adult
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: Mercenaries who gave no quarter, they shook the pillars of the world through cunning, chemical brews, and cold steel. 

Whoever met their price won. 

Now, their glory days are behind them. Scattered to the wind and their genius leader in hiding, they are being hunted down and eliminated. 

One by one. 

A groundbreaking debut fantasy of betrayal, mystery, and bloody revenge.

review

I bought this book when I was on a trip to Dublin for 2 reasons. One, it’s a fantasy novel with a gorgeous cover. Two, it was so cheap for a new paperback (€4.99). Then I was even more curious to start it because of all the mixed reviews it has received. So I added it to my #spookathon TBR.

I am so torn right now. Here’s why.

I really liked the premise of the book. Kailen’s Twenty used to be the best mercenary crew. 15 years later, they are scattered all over the world and not all of them have kept up their physique. Someone’s killing them one by one, but why? And who? Did they succeed? This all makes for a wonderfully intriguing plot. I also enjoyed the way it was written. This book is sort of a collection of the story? We get a preface from Goran, the son of Galen (one of the Twenty) saying that he collected and wrote this story for his father, and the Twenty. So he collected different letters, eyewitness accounts and so on, to tell this story of the Twenty. That way you still got to read from different POVs, but they were all written differently. Some were letters to each other, other accounts of conversations, etc. And I really liked some of the characters. I especially loved Gant and Shale. I kind of hated Galathia and Kigan. 

But I had one problem with this book: the pacing. I usually don’t really mind a slow-paced book. But I feel like a slow-paced book should be character driven. When a plot-based book, such as this one, feels slow I constantly feel like nothing is happening. That’s why it took me 10 days to read a 400 page book. Would I recommend it? I don’t know. Maybe see if you can borrow it from the library or something, if you’re hesitant. I do think the story was interesting. It was just so slow. 

This mini review turned out to be much longer than I intended it to be…


the-girl-on-the-trainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Published: 13.01.2015 by Riverhead Books

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: EVERY DAY THE SAME. Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

UNTIL TODAY. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

review

I got this one from the library because a) I’d heard such great things about this mystery novel and b) the movie is now out in theaters -and I wanted to read it before I saw the movie. 

I have to admit I’m kind of disappointed in this one. I expected it to be much better, but especially much more engaging. I think the hype just got to me, and my expectations just weren’t met. 

I think the mystery aspect of this book was intriguing! That’s its primary saving grace. I didn’t guess the twist at the end, nor how it was resolved. So the author definitely had the ability of surprising me with her crime and mystery. And I think the author writes morally-grey characters really well. 

But I didn’t really like the other aspects of the book. I felt like I was at a distance the entire time, and wasn’t attached to any of the characters. That made it hard for me to actually care about the crime at all.

I was often frustrated with Rachel too, and at times even disgusted. I often thought the way she intruded in others’ lives, and how that made her feel special, was just wrong. Like she was intruding on someone’s grief because she felt like she knew them, even though she didn’t.

I will go and see the movie, because I think the story may turn out to work better in that format. 


secrets-of-the-lighthouseSecrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore
Published: 01.01.2013 by Simon & Schuster

Genre: Fiction, Adult
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: Set in Ireland on the wild coast of Connemara, this hauntingly romantic novel tells the story of a young woman who goes in search of her family’s past and ends up discovering her future. Ellen Trawton is running away from it all. She hates her job, she doesn’t love the aristocratic man to whom she is engaged, and her relationship with her controlling mother is becoming increasingly strained. So Ellen leaves London, fleeing to the one place she knows her mother won’t find her, her aunt’s cottage in Connemara. Cutting all her ties with chic London society, Ellen gives in to Ireland’s charm and warmth, thinking her future may lie where so much of her past has been hidden. Her imagination is soon captured by the compelling ruins of a lighthouse where, five years earlier, a young mother died in a fire. The ghost of the young wife, Caitlin, haunts the nearby castle, mourning the future she can never have there. Unable to move on, she watches her husband and children, hoping they might see her and feel her love once more. But she doesn’t anticipate her husband falling in love again. Can she prevent it? Or can she let go and find a way to freedom and happiness?

review

This is another book I got from the library. I’ve been on a library-kick lately! I’m actually using the library to lend out books in genres I wouldn’t usually pick up. If I don’t end up liking them then, I won’t have wasted money. 

This sounded like an interesting and atmospheric read about a young woman trying to find her place in life, and the romance she finds along the way. That’s not how I would describe it though.

My favorite part of this book is the setting, by far. I really wanted to take a plane and taxi and go to Connemara myself. She made it sound like the most atmospheric and wonderful place on Earth. I loved Ellen’s life at her aunt’s place, feeding the animals, taking walks by the sea, getting lost in the scenery of Ireland. I wish I could do that myself. I also liked the family aspect of the book. This book is so centered around Ellen discovering the family she has in Ireland, and where she fits in. Family is such an important part of my life, and I was glad to see Ellen get to know hers. 

But I was disappointed with the romance, and the “finding herself” aspects of the book. As for the romance, Ellen and Connor (is that his name?) don’t actually meet until page 100+. And their romance goes from attraction to slowly more, which I did find adorable. Bu I don’t like how Ellen treated a different man in her life at all. She also wanted to be a writer, but didn’t manage to do anything to pursue her passion at all. I’m not saying she should’ve written a novel in 2 weeks. But she didn’t seem to have any inclinations either…

2 Mystery Mini Reviews | Call After Midnight & The Silkworm

call-after-midnightCall After Midnight by Tess Gerritsen
Published: 01.01.1987 by Mira
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: Newlywed Sarah Fontaine must join forces with special agent Nick O’Hara to find her husband Geoffrey, who is presumed dead, and as they journey to Europe to discover the truth, they become the pawns in a deadly game of espionage.

review

I bought a copy of this in a secondhand shop in Dublin because a) it was super cheap and b) I love Tess Gerritsen’s mysteries. And it seemed to be about 300-330 pages at first. Until I realized that the last 60 or so pages are previews of two of her other books.

This book only has like 250 pages! For a mystery book, I feel like that’s difficult. In my opinion, a mystery needs time to develop and build the tension, and this book lacked in that department because of the length. 

In general though, I quite liked the mystery. It starts with an assassin murdering an assassin. And then Sarah gets a call. Her husband has been found dead in a hotel in Berlin. Only Sarah thought he was in London. She doesn’t believe he died, and wants to find out what happened -which is where Nick O’Hara from the U.S. State Department comes in. I had fun with the mystery -even though I had to suspend my disbelief at times.

The biggest reason I only gave this book 3 stars -aside from the length- is the romance, and how prevalent it was. First of all, Sarah had only married Geoffrey 2 or 3 months ago. She had only known him for 6 months. How do you marry someone you’ve only known for 6 months? That aside, she discovers some things about Geoffrey that make her believe she never really knew him. (I’ll try to hold in my DUH! here). And that’s where the romance with Nick starts. And I feel bad for not liking the romance, because I LOVED Nick’s character. He was an honest, smart and kind person. But you can’t fall out of love with someone in a few days, and fall in love with an entirely new person! Especially when you are a) so dependent on the new person and b) he must be intertwined with your husband’s tragedy in your mind.


the-silkwormThe Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith
Published: 19.06.2014 by Sphere

Genre: Mystery, Crime
Rating: 4/5 stars – ★★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced. 

review

I didn’t particularly love the first book in this series, so I didn’t purchase the books. And I was kind of hesitant to continue. But a few weeks ago I went to my local library, and saw a copy of it there. I’ve been in a mystery/thriller mood lately so I figured I’d give it another try. And I really enjoyed this one! 

First of all, I loved the mystery in this book. It included the publishing/author world, which is always a plus to me. It’s about this author who goes missing -and his wife asks Cormoran to find him and bring him home. Along the way, you discover more about Owen and his works. He seems like a horrible person, and not that great of an author either, so there are many people who can be seen a suspects. By the end of the book, I didn’t even feel sorry for him anymore. I thought that he kind of deserved what happened to him -although maybe not in such detail… I never guessed who was behind the crime, so I was completely taken by surprise at the end. 

Then, there are the characters. I think that my biggest problem with the first book is that I didn’t connect to Cormoran at all. I found him much more relatable in this book. I was most definitely rooting for him: not just because he was helping this old and lonely woman, but also because he’s not afraid to stick it to those he hates/doesn’t respect. I also love Robin, his assistant, so I was glad to see her take a big(ish) role in this book. I hate Matthew though, can we just get rid of him? I feel like he doesn’t respect her enough. 

I was so pleasantly surprised by this book! I’ll definitely pick up the third book on my next trip to the library.