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Book Reviews

Robin Cook – Genesis Book Review

New York Times best-selling author Robin Cook takes on the ripped-from-the-headlines topic of harnessing DNA from ancestry websites to catch a killer in this timely and explosive new medical thriller.

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Book Reviews

Neil Olson-The Black Painting Book Review

“A riveting psychological thriller, a serious dissection of a dysfunctional family and an exploration of the power of art to change lives.” —Associated Press
“A fast-paced psychological thriller with a fascinating set of characters. … A real page-turner.” -B.A. Shapiro, author of The Art Forger


An atmospheric literary mystery about an infamous painting rumored to be cursed—and the family torn apart by its disappearance.
There are four cousins in the Morse family: perfect Kenny, the preppy West Coast lawyer; James, the shy but brilliant medical student; his seductive, hard-drinking sister Audrey; and Teresa, youngest and most fragile, haunted by the fear that she has inherited the madness that possessed her father.


I love books dealing with art and I have to say, books dealing with art collectors are a strange lot. New York writer Neil Olson’s The Black Painting discusses a very spooky work by Francisco Goya that supposedly exerts powers that drive viewers bonkers — in this instance, various members of a wealthy East Coast family. “Black Painting” purportedly belongs to a series of gruesome works created by the Spanish genius near the end of his life.

  • The Black Paintings stand out in art history for their dark composition and themes.
  • The biggest mystery, though, is that Goya painted them directly onto the walls of his home and never told anybody about them.
  • By 1819, the painter Francisco Goya had been through quite a bit. He had witnessed the chaos of war when Napoleon invaded Spain and the chaos in Spain as its government bounced back and forth between a constitutional monarchy and an absolute monarchy. He had become deathly ill a number of times, occasionally fearing he was going mad. One of these illnesses had left him deaf. Increasingly bitter about humanity, afraid of death and madness, Goya withdrew into a villa outside of Madrid called la Quinta del Sordo, or the Deaf Man’s House.

Back to the book. Before its theft years earlier, the Goya painting had hung, shrouded, behind the desk of elderly collector Alfred Arthur Morse. When the four Morse cousins are unexpectedly summoned by their grandfather, they all show up: Kenny, the successful lawyer; James, the psychologically fragile medical student; Audrey, the wild divorcée; and Teresa, the shy art student subject to seizures. Complementing the cast are foggy pines, rocky cliffs, a crumbling estate and the ghost of a vanished painting.

 “Last night she dreamed of the house on Owl’s Point,” reads the first line, echoing Daphne du Maurier’s timeless thriller, Rebecca. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Make way for strange happenings in a mansion on the sea, managed by a cold housekeeper with an agenda of her own.

Kenny tells Teresa about his meeting with their grandfather: “Go to the place that’s most private to you. Most humiliating. You know what I mean? That tender spot. That’s right where he would have put his finger.” Only Grandpa didn’t have the chance, since Teresa discovered his corpse when she arrived at Owl’s Point.

So, we have grandfather in the study, but who did it and why? If death came naturally, how to explain his horrified expression? Motives abound: money, family secrets, simmering hatreds. Luckily gloom takes a lighter turn with the arrival of P.I. Dave Webster, a latter-day Philip Marlowe. Hints that all will be resolved appear when Dave is hired to resume the poking around he began years before with the original theft. Get ready for a thrilling ride through the worlds of the unhappy rich, whose acquisitions can prove very dangerous indeed.

3/5

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Book Reviews

The Obsession – Nora Roberts Book Review

But where had her father gone?

He had secrets—she figured all adults did. Secrets they kept from everybody, secrets that made their eyes go hard if you asked the wrong question. Maybe he was an explorer, one who went through a magic door to another world.

9780349407784.jpgPublisher: Little, Brown Book Group
ISBN: 9780349407784
Number of pages: 544
Weight: 362 g
Dimensions: 197 x 128 x 34 mm

Naomi Carson is a survivor. As a child, her family was torn apart by a shocking crime. It could have destroyed her, but Naomi has grown up strong, with a passion for photography that has taken her all around the world.


He looked around, and for one terrible moment she feared he looked right at her. This man, she knew into her bones, would hurt her, would use hands and fists on her like the father who worked to provide security for his family never had. With a helpless whimper in her throat, she thought: Please, Daddy. Please.

As I was reading this book I could not shake off the feeling of dread creeping into me. Storms, odd sightings, skull-like figures, cold, cold bones and rusty hinges. This book was designed to creep people out while reading it.

I Loved That!

But where she imagined a puppy whimpering in his crate was a woman.

Her eyes were wide and shined like glass as tears streamed from them. She made terrible noises against the tape over her mouth. Scrapes and bruises left raw marks on her face and her throat. She wasn’t wearing any clothes, nothing at all, but didn’t try to cover herself.

Couldn’t, couldn’t cover herself. Her hands were tied with rope—bloodied from the raw wounds on her wrists—and the rope was tied to a metal post behind the old mattress she lay on. Her legs were tied, too, at the ankles and spread wide.

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I’ve read some crappy books last year from Nora Roberts and I have no idea what I was hoping for with this one but let me just say that it was awesome. Truly terrifying and absolutely shocking, I read the whole lot over a weekend and when I was done, I could not help but think that maybe, just maybe, Nora Roberts can still write.

“Ashley said she thought she’d been down there for a day or two. There was more rope down there, and pictures. There were pictures on the wall of other women, tied up like she was. Worse than she was. I think some of them were dead. I think they were dead. I’m going to be sick.”

The Story

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defences failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.


The Good Parts:

  • First half of the book (when Naomi was 12) was really well written (5/5 stars)

The Bad Parts:

  • Naomi’s adult career seems to take a lot of space in the second half of the book, really going into detail about interior design and shopping. Not a fan of that section (that’s more than half)
  • Rooms, plans and furniture descriptions. Renovations ideas. Construction work. Furniture descriptions of the friend’s house. New ideas. Colors. Patterns. More furniture ideas.
  • The love interest is a bit of an A-hole and verbally abusive. Not sure if she picked him due to her past trauma and her needing someone to tell her what to do in the same way her mother needed her dad to tell her what to do.
  • The most anticlimactic kiss ever. He just puts his lips on the heroine out of the blue. No chemistry. No anticipation. No passion. The dialogue continues as if the kiss didn’t happen.
  • The mother is a bit of a depressive mess who keeps going back to the killer husband in jail until he serves her the divorce papers. I mean what woman does that? Presented with irrefutable evidence that your hubby is a serial killer – wilfully keeping your eyes closed and listening to abuse.
  • The killer in the second half of the book was – SPOILER – a friend from highschool that felt slighted she didn’t tell him that she was the daughter of a serial killer and then would not share her side of the story with him to be published in the school newspaper. He did pick a bad time to ask too – at her mother’s funeral. Ummm… ok?

“He was in the house. He was going to shoot the dog. I couldn’t let him shoot the dog. He . . . the gun. He has a gun.”

“Not anymore. Don’t worry about him. Broke his nose for you,” Xander murmured, laying his brow to hers.

“High school nerd.” “What?” “Chaffins. Anson Chaffins. Tell Mason,” she said, and slid away.

That was really, really, really bad villaining here. I mean weak as hell.

Just a smart, nerdy kid who’d gone to a school dance with her, who’d put a couple clumsy moves on her, easily brushed off. And a monster, all along.

I would say read the first 30 pages and the last 10 pages and you’ll have a lovely night in. I would also thank Mrs. Roberts for another book that will burn so brightly in my bonfire night due to the 370 pages of interior design crap that pad this mess (my copy had 418 pages).

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Book Reviews

The Pretty Ones – Ania Ahlborn Book Review

I don’t think I’ve read such a lovely and creepy story about a woman and her brother since The Visitors – Catherine Burns.

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Book Reviews

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino Book Review

What an absolutely boring ride!
I got attracted by the idea of a police investigation book set in Japan and the “Over 2 Million Sold!” sticker made me think that it couldn’t be that bad.
This is one of the worst buys I’ve made this year as the suspense was not in the who’d done it but in the cat-and-mouse game played between the accomplice and the police.
None of the characters were likable or by any means interesting.

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Book Reviews

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Imagine a mansion that’s slowly decaying from lack of care. Imagine the house in its glory days and all the people who used to look up at it with wonder and then forced to see it become nothing due to poor money management.

No, I’m not talking about We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I’m talking about “The Little Stranger” – a book I realized was the source of a movie I’ve seen a few years ago only after the first chapter was finished and the little boy broke off an acorn from the house mantle. Sarah Waters sets her latest novel in post-World War II Warwickshire and tries her hand at an Old Dark House.

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Book Reviews

Vernon God Little – DBC Pierre

God knows I tried my best to learn the ways of this world, even had inklings we could be glorious; but after all that’s happened, the inkles ain’t easy anymore. I mean – what kind of fucken life is this ?

Vernon God Little (2003) is a novel by DBC Pierre. It was his debut novel and won the Booker Prize in 2003. It has twice been adapted as a stage play

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Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz – The Bone Farm

An audio original novella featuring bestselling author Dean Koontz’s compelling new heroine, Jane Hawk. From the case files of the former FBI agent before she became the nation’s most wanted fugitive – The Bone Farm details a desperate man-hunt for a serial killer before he murders again.

Katherine Haskell, a young college co-ed is on her way back to school, but she never makes it there. Instead, she becomes the latest prey of the rapist and murderer dubbed by the tabloids the “Mother Hater.” He is a twisted soul who kidnaps young girls for pleasure then discards them.

Katherine is missing, but she’s not yet dead. FBI agents Jane Hawk and her partner Gary Burkett must descend into the hell of this killer’s mind to solve the case before it is too late. The question is – will they both get out alive?

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Book Reviews

Basic Instinct by Richard Osborne

So this was an interesting read! I remember watching the old movie ages ago and when I saw the book in a charity pile, I decided to give it a go. Let me tell you, it will go back to the charity pile.

With the exception of two very well written sex scenes lasting the whole of 2 pages, the book had little to offer in terms of dialogue, build-up and tension.I keep wondering whether it’s because I’ve already seen the movie and I knew that the cold-hearted woman with the ice-pick, la femme fatale, was actually it.

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Book Reviews

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

Too little information and you’re blind, too much and you’re blinded.

I saw this book about 6 months ago when I was wasting time in an airport waiting for my flight. It looked interesting enough and just as I was about to buy it, my flight rang and I had to run. I did download it in ebook format and I’ve literally just finished it tonight.

It was a wild ride. Stuart Turton sent me on a wild murder-mystery hunt in a purely innovative novel which features the concept of prisoners, hosts, redemption and Groundhog day.

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