Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

This wonderfully unusual novel left a huge impression on me, with its deep focus on narcissism and the construct of manipulation within damaged families. The overall after-taste is a 4 star, yet with a fulfilling sense of satisfaction at the narrative level. Wendy Walker’s writing style is unmistakably special, with a beautiful complex plot construction.

I have learned so much about the psychology of narcissism from this book. Surely the author did some extensive research that shows. I deeply felt for Cass and Emma’s situations. It is unbelievable that this can happen in reality and can have dire psychological anf social consequences for generations to come, unless the persons can somehow escape the condition.

Cass is an intricate character, mirrored in a way by Abby. I loved this duo and how the author managed to play with the family history of psychological abuse, explained through narcissism and manipulation. Both characters have deep wounds, yet manage to somehow realise and save themselves from becoming their mothers.

The plot is well thought, yet becoming tiresome in the 2nd half, slightly confusing at times. The author managws to play with the reader’s anticipation, which can be annoying. The ending seems unreal, so much so that it leads to questioning the whole novel and the real motives of some characters. It is just so skillfully presented that it managed to create that wow effect few books can.

 

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The Guilty Wife by Elle Croft

With a clever plot and a few strong characters this makes for a great page turner, easy to read psychological thriller. I must admit I had higher expectatins from the style though, which is why the downgrade for me.

The writing style is a mix of reporting and constant obsessive self-questioning grom the main character Bethany. For me she was the paradox between wannabe good wife vs. egocentrical liar and mistress. I did not like her at all, shallow and deceptive, full of herself yet constantly nagging and analysing her actions. She got on my nerves big time.

Psychologically interesting, the plot has huge potential. Though, in my opinion, the writing style could definitely be improved. It has been simply too “talkative”, a very tiring “chatting” style, unadorned in any way, without any literary pretense whatsoever. I assume the reason for this is to appeal more to the general public.

All in all, this is a gripping novel, full of intensity and suspense, with a twisted conclusion and a colourful bunch of characters. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this arc.

Artemis by Andy Weir

I enjoyed this book a lot and it’s safe to say Andy Weir is now on my auto-buy author list. For me this is book was entertaining un a dorky sort of way, mainly because I love th techy side of the plot, the wicked plans Jazz concocted and the bravery she showed in all stances.

I don’t doubt Jazz’ humour could annoy people, but I actually thought it fitting in a way. She is definitely not your “common” woman, but a smuggler girl leaving in a city on the moon since she was 6 year old. Her relationship with her father definitely played a major role in shaping her personality. Her choices, though stupid or just bad often times, also made her into the “fiercely naive” self taught genius she became.
The plot is brilliantly organised and so addictive! I loved the challenges and the unrealistic scenes that could very well be probable on Artemis. And why not? After all, the city itself is a dreamed up world where various laws are waved or just simplified.
I recommend this book wholeheartedly, to the dreamers of out of our world possibilities, to those who enjoy the scientifical explanations and dorky characters (I loved Svoboda by the way).

Lovability: How to Build a Business That People Love and Be Happy Doing It by Brian de Haaff

The lovability concept is one that should be applied by all companies, by all means. A complete product experience is what really makes the customer come back and at the same time develops a business based on trust and happiness for all parties involved. The book itself may seem a bit repetitive at times, nevertheless the basic concepts and framework should be considered and applied nowadays.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

A beautiful tale of love, magic and sisterhood

This book is so much about life and perceptions, judging and at the same time minding one’s own path. There is magic in the writing style, in the characters’ development throught the book, in almost every phrase and dialogue.

The Owens sisters (aunts, mothers and daughters) are wild and fun, with special powers not necessarily witches yet not your normal boring characters either. They are well portrayed and they get under your skin, in such a way that you cannot really not like them despite their quirks and strange decisions.

It is the first book I read by Alice Hoffman and I am absolutely smitten with her style. I thoroughly recommend this one to anyone who likes and needs a bit of magic in their daily lives.

“Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.”

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown is for me a book for the soul, a book that thoroughly explores the humane aspect of a society with all its quirks, good, bad, evil happenings. I am left with a longing for life and sunshine after reading this book, a sort of wake up call to how good life can be compared to Beartown, in a psychologically fulfilling way.

I absolutely loved the writing styke, this being my first book written by Fredrik Backman. If all his books are like this one, I am definitely reading them all. There is a certain melancholy of words and unsaid elements blending together to create a total. So much about love, hate and revenge in a tight community focused on hockey. Perhaps the focus is too much on the sport and club, and this is why everything else seems unimportant to the villagers. It is an extreme case, where courage means speaking up and suffering the blows from society just because the people are terrified to see the truth.

I was amazed by Maya’s strength and decisiveness throughout the 2nd half of the book. Her final actions were so smart, I bet everyone reading this books would expect a slightly different turn of events. Similarly, Amat is another example of courage and loyalty towards what is moral. Sure he is in love with Maya, but his actions reflect a deeper understanding of human relationships and consequences of other people’s stupidity. Sune and Ramona somehow seem to be the pillars of Beartown, perhaps Maya and Amat becoming their younger reflections in a way.

I am so impressed, still trying to grasp the enormity of this book, the various messages and all the symbols that build together a society. It is a must read, a slow paced comforting yet disturbing mood throughout the book, somehow soothing at the same time. Makes one realise the bearish vs woolfish aspect of things: sloth vs. decisiveness. When a society is too ingrained in its old ways and old “culture”, there is need for a “woolf” to shake the unstable construction and remind the people of their true values.

A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager

This little book is a superbly illustrated one for kids, with lots of learning opportunities and lots of questions to answer. To me it seems it is about a two moms couple taking care of a little boy who clearly knows his moms’ duties, is aware of his expectations and knows he is loved and taken care of. It speaks tons about gender differences at a subtle level, through the pov of the little one who undestands his world pretty well. I warmly recommend it and considering purchasing it for my kids for when they grow up a bit more. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this arc.

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Onwards Flows the River by Caroline Windsor

A beautifully written account of friendship and love, among the life’s hardships, set in the dreamy countryside of Devon vs. the serious real life London. I had a pleasant experience with this book, which is very calming, yet poignant with details and soothing descriptions of nature and young love. It is like a pumpkin spiced latte on an autumn evening, delightful to sip on and strong enough to get one focused on the important things.

The characters are well portrayed and each and every one of them is distinctly rounded up, a well accomplished feat for a seemingly easy to read young adult novel. It seems like a ya, though it touches some serious topics as well, like family poverty, difficult childhood, unrequited love, etc. Plus the whole thing is spiced up with Anglican vs Quaker references, which I must say, I found a bit odd in the beginning. Though religion plays a major role in the characters’ development throughout the book, so one should not be harsh about it.

All in all, I enjoyed this novel and warmly recommend it as a weekend read. It requires patience and/or a calm mood and the expectation that the action is slowly unfolding, with the speed of an old mobile, yet like a sunny breeze while watching the river unfolding its currents and waves.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.

The Last Day of Emily Lindsey by Nic Joseph

The Last Day of Emily Lindsey is not your usual suspense novel. The writing style is what keeps the reader on the edge, in a particular way. It puzzles and drops hints here and there, with a parallel timeline of paat vs. present, with bits of psychological mystery and disturbed characters.

Oh the characters are deranged on many ways, though they all finally get their closure and they manage to undestand their psychotic natures by the end of the book.

Steven is hurting deeply ever since his childhood and no one knows why. Hence he keeps hiding his blackouts and visions by hurting himself in other ways, at the same time trying to keep up with life and his passion of solving crimes as a detective.

I was surprised by Lill’s character and her actions in the present, while at the same time it somehow made sense based on her past decision to save the other children. Yet how can it all make sense from so many different perspectives? A very controversial way of life, damaged souls and messed up futures. About Emily herself I could not say much without divulging the key actions. She was just a very determined person, likely the most determined of them all to discover and expose the truth by any means.

At least there are some normal relationship resolutions by the end of the book. Steven/Lara/Kit is one of them, also incredible due to lack of communication issues based on Steven’s emotional problems. His work relationship with Gayle is strengthening throughout the novel, despite the necessary lies about his condition. At times I felt Steven’s suffering to be exaggerated on purpose, yet I have never encoutered such in real life, so I could not clearly judge his actions.

This is a gripping novel for sure, pickled with disturbia, engaging plot and a good writing style for suspense and crime. All in all, you’ve got a great mix of everything, with a higher dose of psychological suspense at a slightly gory level, smartly packed up as a complete unit which will keep you guessing, tossing and turning until the end.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for the opportunity to read and review this arc. It is a must read for fans of psychological suspense and crime.IMG_20171012_091336_966.jpg

The Secrets You Keep by Kate White

My first impression about this book is: thank God it’s over! Because, seriously, Bryn was tedious in her thinking, obsessed with scenarios and just brooding way too much. Sure, she did discovered the murderer and a bunch of secrets. However, at the expense of the reader’s patience with her style.

The book itself has a very good plot, with a great head start in the first half. Afterwards, the annoyingly neverending thinking process of Bryn comes into the picture and just almost ruins the flow of the action. I had the feeling she was actually meant to distract the reader’s thinking much by him/hersrlf and just continuously offering ideas and creating multiple scenarios. I got no breathing space and very little opportunity to discover myself some of the possible traces leading to finding the murderer.

Nevertheless, despite the abovementioned, the book is somehow extremely gripping. Or there might have also been the urge to get over with Bryn’s story faster at a subconscious level. I had no favorite character in this book, they were all either too twisted, or too fake regarding their insecurities and/or personalities.

All in all, it’s been a rollercoaster read, with ups and downs, addictively constructed, yet boringly unimpressive in writing style. Too many details and too little suspense in the actual sense.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this arc.