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 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.

The Ghostwriter by Alessandra Torre

I recently read a fantastic review on this book from a bookish instagram friend and it got my attention. I realised I was also recently gifted a copy of an arc, so I was on cloud nine instantly.

Everyone, this book is brilliantly written in the style of bringing up bits and pieces throughout the book, only to offer a jaw-breaking ending. I had no idea what to expect from The Ghostwriter, it just kept bringing in new unexpected elements, in a simple yet poignant way.

What I loved most was the non-chalant character of Helena. Having been through so much loss (which is deftly revealed in the end) she made herself wear a mask of structure to everything, full of rules and distancing herself from people. Heartbreaking, annoyingly disturbing at times, yet understandable, Helena is a mix of stony character and undercover warmth. I find it extremely difficult to manage to portray such a person, yet the author managed exceptionally.

I found the ghostwriter to bring a lot of balance in this novel, at the same time revealing more of the real hidden side of Helena. Mark is so compassionate and perfect in this writer to writer relationship, bringing humanity to the chaotic chill of Helena’s life.

All in all, this book is a complex psychological/domestic suspense, beautifully written in a comforting and smart way, at the same time enticing in the literary sense and delivering the unexpected ending. I cried in the end, it was heartbreaking and difficult to digest as I had somehow became so immersed into the troubles of Helena.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this arc. It is a must read.

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Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

This turned out to be my most favorite contemporary retelling of a fairytale. The lush beautiful writing, coupled with the strength of the character, while still keeping close to the original Snow White elements of the plot make this a superb novel in my opinion.

I actually do like this version of the story better than the original, as Melissa Bashardoust managed to give strength and choosing powers to the key women/girls in the book. Moreover, the villain is not the stepmother anymore which I completely agree with. Mina is in this case equally oppressed since her childhood, like Lydia is. There are many similarities between the lives of the stepmother and the princess, and they beautifully get along together as closely as mother and daughter could. Eventually they find out the details and the magical powers that lay within them. Despite their apparent helplessness these powers make them discover themselves and the beauty of doing good deeds, the willingness to thrive together and continue to love eachother and their kingdom despite the evil lurking in the character of the magician.

I wholeheartedly recommend this novel to those who enjoy feminist versions of stories and strong women who can make a difference. The writing style completely felt like a fairytale and I got truly immersed into the book. I am so happy and grateful to have discovered this novel thanks to my Instagram buddies.

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A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #2) by Louise Penny

I came to like this series so much, it is amazing I am only reading it now and thanks to #pennypushers on Goodreads. The discussions are still ongoing, so if you read the novel make sure to check them out on the group page.

In A Fatal Grace, the writing style, the plot and the characters are all rendered in a skillfull manner, with ease, mystery and beauty in a witty sense. There is more revealed about the lives of each characters we knew already from the first book, especially inspector Gamache and some of the villagers. Agent Nicol appears again and she is hiding something dreary, which will most likely come up again in the next books.

I cannot say I really suspected the killer, yet there were some strong hints. At the same time, Lousie Penny has this superb skill of distracting you from the real culprit until the very end, even if she does throw clues all over the place pointing in more directions. And that’s exactly what I like most about her style. I simply cannot get enough and very much looking forward to the next novel.

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Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #1) by Louise Penny

A superbly written detective novel with all the great features of mystery, human kindness, bits of philosophy and evil lurking in the most unexpected shadows.

I started to understand and like Inspector Gamache. Yet my favorite character in this book was Clara. Her strong personality, empathy, determination and wittiness were somehow key to this novel.

I’m so happy and grateful to be part of the buddyread on Instagram for the whole Inspector Gamache Series.

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He said/ She said by Erin Kelly

This was one hell of a journey through eclipses and partiality among human lives; a harsh yet complex view of relationships and betrayals, lies and appearance. Once you start believing one of them, the author spins the wheel and turns you in favor of the next character telling his/her story.
My favorite portraying was Beth’s, even if her story also had a question mark of sorts. Nevertheless she proved to be the most resilient, most grateful yet the most used throughout the book.
Kit was completely unpredictable from the beginning, his character proving to be weak and easily susceptible to others’ manoevers. The final paragraph in the book revealed something pretty insane. How could Laura had such an amazing presence of mind in front of immediate danger?!
Laura was controversial throughout the book. In my mind, she is a chameleon of sorts, always weighing in the good and the bad and choosing the best for herself. A bit egotistical at first sight, yet a strong character which screams resilience.
A deep novel meant to raise huge questions about whom to trust and how to find out the real meaning of a love long lost, when faced with betrayal and insanity. Bluffing one’s way through life just doesn’t seem like the best alternative.

Confessions by Kanae Minato

IMG_20170801_182300_481.jpgI finished #kanaeminatoconfessions last night. Some say it is a dark novel, I say it is a deeply disturbing yet psychologically challenging thriller in a calm Japanese literature style sense. I was literally blown away by the clear cut style of #kanaeminato 📚 I am very honoured to bave stumbled upon the buddy read #cgbookclub and very much looking forward to the discussion. 📚 A few questions off the top of my head: How much worthwhile was it to take the law in her hands and handle the revenge by herself? How can one truly understand the irrational logic of a mom who’s hurting after the murder of her daughter? 📚
@criminallygoodbookclub

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

This gem of a book is a must read, without exception. I will recommend it to my friends and to my kids when they are old enough to understand the subtleties in the woven stories and the beauty of the writing style.

It was both a slow read and an unputdownable one, characters lingering in the mind through their caring nature and soft inner voices. A novel about war, yes, yet so much more than that. I was sceptical due to its popularity and dived in courageously without reading any reviews beforehand. I read it slowly and enjoyed the art of the writing in all its magic.

This book is more than a war novel, it is a story about goodness and love, about finding each other and oneself throughout history, about treasuring memories that felt like moments yet influenced a lifetime. A must read.