Publicat în B.A. Paris, Uncategorized

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Synopsis:

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Review:

I’ve always had „genre phases”. I would start reading a certain type of books and wouldn’t stop for weeks or months, until my brain is suffocated by that genre till I’m finally ready to move to something else. Lately, I noticed that I’m craving for psychological thrillers and my shelves slowly started gathering such kind of books.

I picked up Behind Closed Doors running through an airport, almost impulsively, barely reading the synopsis from the last cover and devoured the first half of the book during my flight. I kind of loved it, but there are some things that kept bugging me, although I find it pretty difficult to identify them clearly.

From the first pages (and obviously, from the synopsis), you realize that under the illusion of perfection, something is very, very wrong in the marriage of Jack and Grace. The author doesn’t let you wonder for too long, as she starts showing you the darkness that lies behind that perfect couple. You’re jumping with every chapter from the past to the present and both of them look just as terrible, without any traces of salvation, without any hopes of escaping. There’s not a single moment when you can relax and not feel ice flowing through your veins, never knowing what to expect, always assuming something even worse is going to happen.

Despite the satisfaction that I felt while reading it, I got a sense of disturbance, something kept bothering me. I feel like the story was built on a successful recipe without adding any extra flavors to it. Yes, the characters have a background that would explain why their personalities got so twisted. Yes, there is an aftermath that you’re even scared to think about. Yes, the suspense is on its highest. But all of these elements seem somehow shallow, like there’s too little substance to sustain the storyline properly. There are some moments that make no sense, there’s no explanation nor logic behind some of the actions that the main characters do.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a good book. If this is what you are looking for (and I definitely was!), the story will keep you entertained, holding your breath, waiting for the next move and knowing that every moment passing will throw the heroine even deeper in despair and further from salvation. But for me, the novel didn’t make me step in the characters’ shoes, didn’t transfer me to their world. Perhaps it will be different for you but personally, I couldn’t stop feeling the whole time that it’s just a story. A good one, yes, but… just a story.

Publicat în Cyndy Aleo, Uncategorized

Undying (Undying #1) by Cyndy Aleo

Synopsis:

What if the world isn’t ready for your miracle?

Cameron Tattersall’s wife, Adrienne, should not be cooking breakfast when he wakes up. After all, he buried her yesterday. Yet the woman in his kitchen not only claims she is his wife, but also refuses to accept that she’s supposed to be dead.

Cameron doesn’t know what this woman is: hallucination, con-woman, or bona fide miracle. For all he knows, he’s crazy, but her reappearance may return the only thing he ever wanted: a life with Adrienne.When their families discover Cameron isn’t alone in his house, the couple learns coming back from the dead has its own set of trials: angry surviving family members, confused insurance companies, and a media storm that simultaneously wants to build the couple up and tear them down. There’s also the matter of just who, or what, was buried in that coffin. Or not buried.

Thrust into the spotlight, Cameron and Adrienne have to decide whether living under a microscope is a fair trade for a miracle, and to reconcile their need for privacy with the desire for answers.

Review:

I probably cried when I was reading some sad books when I was a child. I definitely remember crying a damn cascade while reading half of the Harry Potter books. But it’s been decades ago and since then, my masochistic brain keeps looking for books that would tear me apart completely and make me feel everything that the characters feel at such a deep level that I’d forget that I’m crying for the pain of an imaginary person.

When I started this book I chose it because of how interesting the idea looked. Maybe it’s a thriller with an impostor trying to impersonate the dead wife of a poor husband. Maybe it’s a zombie book. Maybe it’s a fantasy one. A dead wife showing up in her husband’s bed next day after her funeral? I literally had no idea how things could have evolved. But what I definitely didn’t expect was to cry uncontrollably after the first chapter. I have no words to explain how amazing this book is. Without notice, the story starts flowing through your veins, touching every part of your soul, forcing your brain to feel absolutely every single damn thing that Cameron feels. You’re thrown into a path of pain and anguish so deeply that you feel the story at the most personal level. Because what is the biggest fear of all of us? Not spiders, not monsters, not poverty, not loneliness, not our own death. But the death of our loved ones. And the feeling that no matter how much you’d wish, there’s absolutely nothing that you can do to stop that, to help them, to keep them longer next to you.

Cameron goes through all of this in the year when he finds out that his wife, Adrienne has a devastating form of cancer. She’s young, beautiful and healthy and all of a sudden the terrible news descend over them. And one year is not enough to get used to the idea that the whole future that you imagined is shattering to pieces. But one year of suffering is also clearly not going to make things easy when he wakes up after her funeral to find her in their kitchen. Young. Beautiful. Healthy. Undead. And cooking breakfast.

So what follows is exactly what you would imagine. Because Cameron lives in our universe, not a parallel one, not in a fantasy world. He lives in this one, where miracles don’t exist, when you cannot continue your life like nothing happened after the wife that you just buried literally just came back from the dead. The world will not allow it. You will become a „case” that needs to be studied and explored from all the practical angles: legally, medically, by lawyers and doctors and churches and media. Over and over again, since there seem not to be any answers that could solve such a mistery.

I loved how realistic the author treated her idea. She took an unthinkable fact and throw it in our society that is very far from accepting the impossible as possible. There’s nothing forced, nothing romantic and magical about it. Her characters don’t treat the whole thing just like a miracle because the human brain simply doesn’t work like that. No matter how enormous the happiness and amazement can be once they accept that what happened is true, they are still very well anchored in reality and take the whole right and mundane road to understand how was it possible.

Every reaction, every gesture, every word and action, even the ones that piss you off are all perfectly drawn and completely understandable and realistic. I loved the fact that nothing comes easily, that the characters actually go willingly into the chaotic carousel that their lifes became, even if sometimes they cannot feel in any other way than totally overwhelmed by what’s happening to them.

If you have any doubts about reading this book, just take them all and throw them into the garbage right now. You need this book! The storyline is flawless, the writing, the characters, the action, everything has a bright, shinny „perfect” label on it! You will be carried through the whole spectrum of emotions, you will cry, laugh, be surprised, melt into a puddle, die of curiosity and live the whole story at the same intensity as the characters are.

Publicat în David Staniforth, Uncategorized

Imperfect Strangers by David Staniforth

Synopsis:

How well do you know the people you see every day? Sally hardly knows Keith. They’re practically strangers until the day she smiles at him. Would you smile so readily if you risked losing your friends? Would you smile so readily if you risked losing your life? Unfortunately, you can’t begin to know a person until you let them in. Imperfect Strangers: A psychological thriller that simmers to a dark and dramatic climax.

Review:

If you’re an extrovert, this book will probably turn you into an antisocial creature. And if you’re an introvert, already not a big fan of human interaction, well… I’m guessing you’ll feel even less the desire to get out of the house. Like…ever!

I was in such a strong mood for a phychological thriller and this book was honestly the best choice I could have made! I looooved it! I don’t even know how to start describing how perfectly the author mastered the whole story, the evolution of Keith, the main character of the book and the development of the relationship with his object of adoration, Sally.

To how many people do u smile or say „Hello” or „Thank you” to during the day? How many of these people are strangers? The security guys from your office or apartment building, the vendors from your regular grocery shop, the bus drivers on your commute, the courier from your favorite food delivery place. You’re a nice, decent person, so you salute them and acknowledge their presence. You know all of them by sight, but they are still strangers to you. But what if…you are not a stranger to them? Not anymore, since the day when, unlike most of the people, you smiled to one of them in a way that, for him, it was personal and intimate.

Sally doesn’t know it yet, but once she smiled to Keith, the veeery awkward security guy from her office, their relationship started already. And it’s just a matter of time until she will find out as well. And once she does, it might not be in a way that she will like it.

I think the best part of the novel is the way the author built a whole history of his main character. Instead of just throwing an anti-hero that is just mentally disturbed or pure evil, David Staniforth creates a very credible background that facilitates the evolution of a mental illness. We dive into Keith’s childhood memories in the most disturbing way, when the teriffied child inside of him still kicks in and takes control over the adult Keith, reliving those awful years over and over again. There was no way for him to escape that horrible life as a kid and once he grew up, it was too late to even try fixing things. Because his normality looks completely different from our normality and from his perspective, Keith sees himself just a bit awkward. He does know that he’s not quite like everyone else, but in no way he understands or identifies the magnitude of his sickness. And this is probably the most horrific thought that haunts you throughout the entire read. How so many people are living in their own, distressed universe and how little do we know about this. They look normal, act (almost) normal, but once you interact with them, you might discover that it’s like meeting an alien from another planet. That absolutely nothing that makes you, you, is common or known for them. And whatever moulded them in such ways during decades is probably completely impossible for you to comprehend.

The whole book keeps you on pins and needles and every step that Sally takes towards Keith makes you want to scream at her „RUN!”. But she doesn’t. Because she’s a nice person. Just like you are. And you continue to smile politely to all the strangers in your life, to help them if you can, to become a friend for those who seem lonely, completely unaware of the dangers that lie behind their awkwardly sweet replies, having no idea that their brain would never resonate with all the things that you find normal.

I rated the book with 5 stars on GoodReads without even a blink of an eye. The sinopsis is already sending you chilly vibes on your spine and the execution of the whole idea is brilliant.

Publicat în April Fernsby, Uncategorized

A Deadly Delivery (A Psychic Cafe Mystery #1) by April Fernsby

Synopsis:

Karis Booth has had psychic abilities for as long as she can remember. But this is the first time she’s used them to solve a murder. 

Things are changing rapidly for Karis. As well as filing for divorce from her unfaithful husband, she decides it’s time to make peace with her estranged sister, Erin. With trepidation, Karis visits the café which Erin owns. To her great relief, Erin welcomes Karis back into her life with open arms. 

During their reconciliation, a young woman, Carmel, calls into the café with a bread delivery. As Karis watches Carmel, she experiences a strong psychic vision. She sees two shadows following Carmel. Only one of the shadows belongs to Carmel — the other belongs to the person who is going to murder her later that day. 

With help from her sister and an old neighbour, Karis does all that she can to find out who murdered Carmel. It doesn’t help that the investigating officer is an ex-boyfriend who broke up with Karis because he couldn’t cope with her psychic abilities. Despite this, Karis won’t rest until she finds the killer. 

Review:

We all have guilty pleasures that we try and try to stay away from, but eventually we just give up to and succumb into temptation. Don’t we? One of this guilty pleasures of mine are chick lit books. I know, I know. The stories are more or less the same every time, there are no „wow” events that would blow your mind and the scenarios are not bringing anything challenging for your brain to digest. But still… every now and then I start missing chick lit so much that my kindle gets filled up in 2 hours with 137 books that will probably remain unread for the rest of my life. Pretty much like when you’re going to the supermarket while hungry and end up with a whole cart of useless products that will expire and die in your fridge, completely untouched. Do I ever learn my lesson? Nope. But the good part is that… well, at least books don’t expire. And honestly speaking, the pleasure with which I finally read that one chick lit book (from the hundred that I got) is priceless.
This time, my spark of joy was A Deadly Delivery: a crime/mystery novel, with a touch of paranormal. Fast, well executed, with a little bit of everything. The main storyline follows the suspicions death of one of the side characters but on the way, we discover a background family story full of guilt and regrets, a romance that was supposed to be dead and buried but seems to blossom unexpectedly and a lot of charming and heart warming characters. There’s literally not a single thing that I disliked during the whole reading time.
One of the things that surprised me is the age of the heroine. I’m used to this kind of books to have young and innocent main characters, whose naivety accentuates the humor of the uncanny situations they end up into. And considering how easily manipulated Karis was during her marriage, initially I thought she’s just a young chick, just discovering her new inner strength along with her psychic abilities. The surprise came later, when I found out that she’s a middle aged woman, with an adult daughter even and that she’s actually having this wakeup phase way later than expected. All of a sudden, the story caught new shades and I was forced to rethink everything in my mind, from the look of the characters to the relations between them and to the impact that every action has on them. And weirdly, the story became even better from that point on.
There’s not a lot to tell about the book if I don’t want to give spoilers that would ruin your reading. If you’re in the mood for something light that will put a smile on your face, A Deadly Delivery is a good choice. It’s not a shallow story, it has a good background, some heartwarming moments and follows some deep topics that are somehow avoided in this genre: abusive relationships, difficult choices when it comes to sick or old family members, the way past events that seemed unimportant actually leave scars that are never erased, asking for forgiveness and allowing you also to forgive yourself, etc. It’s a bittersweet read, leaving you with a warm feeling in the end, but carrying you through some areas that normally you might try to avoid thinking about.
Publicat în Scott McElhaney

ReMIND by Scott McElhaney

Synopsis:

Something’s not quite right at the ReMIND Nursing Facility in Rio de Janeiro. It seems that someone might have discovered the fountain of youth and he’s passing it off as a medical miracle.

Nineteen year old Donner has a little more than a week left to live unless someone miraculously finds a cure for the brain-eating virus he contracted. Dr. Khayyat has actually been experimenting on many patients with deteriorating neurological functions, not the least of which have been Alzheimer’s patients. As a matter of fact, his ReMIND program has been able to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s and he’s excited for a chance to test that experiment on Donner.

Donner wakes to discover that the deadly virus is gone and that he’s by far the youngest person at the ReMIND Nursing Facility. Everyone around him had once suffered from Alzheimer’s and now they’re not only cured, they all have the mental sharpness and energy levels of their youth. They all might as well be the same age as Donner even though they still look like the senior citizens they once were. It’s only when Donner reaches out to his family back in Ohio that he starts to realize something isn’t quite right.

Review:

Ok, this is going to be a very… „mixed feelings” review. The novel got me so infuriated while reading it that I actually took a break, sketched most of it and then continued with the reading. This never happens unless I’m either mind blown or completely pissed off with a book. And the funny part is that from the 1 star rating that I was planning, all of a sudden, after that OMFG ending, I was sooo so tempted to give it 5 stars! I eventually settled for 3 just to make it even, to reach some sort of equilibrium between all the ups and downs of this story.

ReMIND is the story of Donner, a 19 year old young man who gets infected by a brain-eating amoeba and has only a few days left to live. Taken as an emergency case by a doctor who’s doing some experimental research on brain diseases, Donner wakes up in something that looks like a luxury nursing home for old people suffering from Alzheimer. But very soon, things start to look a bit odd at the clinic and Donner seems to have no ways to escape the paradise resort.

Although it will be a weird review, I decided to leave the negative parts the way I wrote them and get back with the update at the end of this text. Therefore:

***

EARLY READING impressions:

Oh god… there are so many wrong things with this story that I don’t even know where to start. And have u seen the rating of this book and the reviews?! Hooow? How in the world all those disturbing errors passed unnoticed or ignored by the readers who ranked it so highly? (Later edit: well, now I know. Once I finished it I was about to do the same).

• The whole story is extremely rushed. Such an original idea would deserve to be detailed in a much better way. Of course I do appreciate the fast pace and all the adrenaline that comes from that, but still. This gave me the sensation of a sketch more than a well polished work. Later on, what’s with the initial suspicion of Donner regarding everything? And the double-triple-multi-checking of information that characters offer? It is exactly the introduction in a new environment that should have been, yes, curious and maybe a little scary, but completely innocent and without any regard or suspicions from the protagonist.

• Where’s the doctor? A nurse maybe? Any medical practitioner? Ok, ok, I understand that the operation was a success, but really, you wake up after you were so close to death and you just go out for breakfast and make new friends? With nobody to be there when you open your eyes and start explaining shit? And no, the fact that a super sexy young doctor shows up later and you have a 5 minutes talk doesn’t really help.

• The protagonist’s sudden personality change is shocking. He does act and speak like a 19 year old teenager in the beginning, but few chapters later, he turns into this sophisticated old school preacher when he’s speaking to a charming lady 🙄

• What’s with the invasion of unbelievable beautiful chicks? Like.. I do get that looks are definitely a major point in life and in literature as well, but seriously, it just gave me the impression that the author itself is a horny 19 year old that didn’t have much contact with the opposite sex and that he’s transposing his fantasies into this book. He’s not. I checked his GoodReads profile. He looks older and normal ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

• Insta-love?! Really? Insta-love? I thought only female authors have this obsession, I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I found this in novels written by male authors. Oh, and to make things worse… insta-love between a 19 years old guy and a 60 something lady. I mean… I might even accept the idea that he’s young and inexperienced and gets carried away easily, but I can’t think of something more unrealistic than an old woman making plans for the future after 2 hours of meeting a man, a 19 years old man!!

• What a… tsunami of details. Ohmygoood, the amount of details for every single thing that the characters see, wear, do, hear, or… or breathe! Of course, of course some descriptive passages are necessary but dear god, this was so exhausting that it became annoying from the first chapter. Add to this the fact that everything is going on fast forward and do the math… how much space is there left for the action to actually happen?

*

I’m actually feeling sorry to butcher the book so angrily, especially since usually I’m a very patient reader and most of the times, I’m trying to look at the positive aspects of the books I read and to go easy on the negative ones. But the more I read, the more I started bubbling inside and it became impossible to ignore one flaw after another.

I’m not intending to be unfair here, so let me acknowledge the better parts as well. Because there are some and for sure, they are good enough if they managed to charm so many readers.

• I’ve never encountered a similar idea in any of the books I read. So original, compelling and unexpected that it’s difficult to put the book down. You have to wake up early? Be a functional, well rested human being tomorrow? LOL. Forget it. You’ll sleep once you find out what the hell is going on in there, not a second earlier.

• I loved, loved, loved the originality of the first pages of the novel. Prologue… more prologue and a little bit more. Fun, refreshing and ironic in the good way.

• It took me a while to get used to the author’s writing style (in the beginning, BEFORE he turned his protagonist’s voice into an 18 century knight’s discourse) I can’t really figure why it felt a bit unusual in those first few pages, but looking back now, I should put this aspect on the list of PROs and not CONs.

***

LATER EDIT:

To be honest, there’s just one more thing left to add. The ending, guys. The last chapters of the book are overwhelmingly impressive. You’re completely blown away with the new information you’re getting and page after page, the shock increases. And yes, now I completely understand all the 5 star ratings. Because the ending is sooo good that it definitely makes you forget all the frustration that pilled up during the earlier stages of the story. Not that it just sweetens things up and makes you feel more indulgent with all the flaws. Hell no, it totally erases them from your mind. All the negative parts blow in a small cloud of smoke which leaves you thinking just about that damn ending. Nothing else matters and I’m sure that most of the readers will have the same feelings and keep the memory of ReMIND in that drawer labeled „Amazing Reads”.