Malice – Jennifer Jaynes

 

Jaynes-Malice-24848-CV-FT-v1.indd  4 Stars

This book is a hell of a ride. It grabs you from page 1 and it is almost impossible to stop reading.

 

There is a lot going on in this book. Daniel is living a dream life. He is a successful pediatrician and lives in a beach house in Malibu. In a hotel bar he meets the woman of his dreams. Everything is perfect. But there is a little voice nagging in his head telling him that everything is too good to be true. And indeed suddenly everything is falling apart. At work he is forced to describe a drug to his little patient witch he thinks could be not as harmless as everyone tells him. At home he noticed his wife is sometimes lying to him.

 

Things are escalating quickly in this book. Jennifer Jaynes masters to tell this complex story with speed and avoids making too many words about things. The book is fast paced and full of new tragic developments. It is a quick and easy read but also very dark. It’s a story of murder, betrayal, greed and trust. It keeps you at the edge of your seat and wishing that things like that will not happen in reality. Sadly, they do.

 

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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You Let Me In – Lucy Clarke

39856154  4,5 Stars.

This was my third book from Lucy Clarke . After reading “You Let Me In” I can definitely say that she has become one of my favorite authors. She captivated me again with an unusual story and very lifelike characters.

 

This book is a dark and creepy read. Elle comes back to her luxury cliff house in Cornwall after a writing workshop in France. To get some extra money she rented out the house out via Airbnb. But when she returns she is irritated by the strange feeling the house suddenly gives her. Then strange things begin to happen. Elle feels watched but she also suffers from insomnia and so she fears that she is imagining it or did it herself in her overtired state of mind. She is under a lot of pressure. Her husband left her after finding out something she kept from him. She has a deadline for her next book which she feels not able to hold. Money is tight because renovating the house was expansive. She has a lot on her plate but something else is eating her away inside. It is like her subconscious is punishing her. She has quite some secrets and keeping them hidden is taking its toll on her.

 

I was not drawn to Elle right from the start. She is overdramatic and self-centered. But she felt very real, very authentic with her flaws. However, I don’t have to like a character to become interested in the story. After finishing the book I must say I was right to dislike her. I dislike her even more now. But I got very much into the story and it captivated me completely.

 

I am not going to say much about the story. It is too complex and you should just jump into the story without knowing too much about it. I had a lot of different emotions while reading. It is, like always with books from Lucy Clarke, a very intense read. She simply can create unique stories who can give you goosebumps.

 

I highly recommend this book for lovers of dark psychological thrillers.

Gathering Of Ghosts – Karen Maitland

31943405  3,5 Stars

Karen Maitland proved again that she can create wonderful creepy historic fiction. I like her dark and atmospheric stories. “The Gathering of Ghosts” is about a clash of the old pagan and the Christian believes. The story is character driven. We see the story through the eyes of several characters. Actually, there is not much activity going on in the story. It is more about the situation, and the strong rules religions demand.

 

The book is settled during the Great Famine in England between 1315 and 1317. Due to extreme wet and cold weather Europe suffered from starvation. There are different narrators and it took some time until you get to know what binds them together.

 

The book captivated with its creepy atmosphere. But I have to say the book lacks a bit of a real story which leads us to somewhere. Most of the things are happening in the heads of the characters. There is not a huge development, not some kind of mystery to reveal. Well, the book says there is one but it is not really a big surprise. The book shows us how unimaginable horrible these times of starvation must have been. It shows us also how old pagan believes stayed alive right under the nose of Christianity. As always in Maitland’s books, there is a supernatural thing involved.

 

“Gathering of Ghosts” is a nice and entertaining read for lovers of historical fiction with a creepy touch.

 

3,5 Stars

Leave No Trace – Mindy Mejia

38355245  2 Stars

This is my second book from this author. I really enjoyed „Everything you want me to be“. That’s why I was looking forward to her new book.

 

At the beginning I also liked it very much. It has a gloomy atmosphere and the stories about people who escape civilization and simply disappear into the wild to live there fascinated me. But unfortunately, the author does not manage to build enough tension. I also had problems with the main character Maja. She is already a speech therapist at the tender age of 23 and works in a psychiatric facility. She has a problematic past and spent a few months in this facility herself. She was also hired by her own therapist. I found this constellation very unlikely to happen. That may also be because in my native country Germany someone would never get such a job so young and inexperienced and would almost immediately receive a very serious and prestigious case. Here, job training, which is related to the care of people, is extremely intensive in training and require a degree. Maja also seems very immature to me. She behaves irresponsibly and her superiors too. That put me off pretty fast.

 

The character of Lucas is a bit problematic as well. He seems intelligent and adapting to this new situation very fast. On the other hand, he tends to impulsive violence. But he gets away with it, because he’s spent most of his life alone with his dad in the wild. That bothered me a lot. He even hurt Maja a couple of times but everybody, including Maja herself, find excuses for is behaviour. He is also counterproductive. Lucas wants to go back to his father, because he is seriously ill. But he does everything to sabotage his early release. He appears to be understanding in conversation with Maja. But then he does exactly the opposite. There were a few things that bothered me. Supposedly, he knows his surroundings so well, but he is unable to explain to anyone where his father is. He seems to be sure that he finds him, but he refuses to lead someone. He is very worried about his health. That somehow did not fit together.

 

The book starts interesting and has absolutely captivated me at first. But the pace is too slow and the story becomes very unrealistic. Maja and Lucas are both unlikable characters with weird and immature behaviour. The developing love story was unnecessary and strange.

 

Overall, I’m very disappointed in the book.

 

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review

The Hunger – Die letzte Reise – Alma Katsu

40725235  3 Stars

German book – German review

 

„The Hunger“ ist die fiktionale Erzählung einer realen Tragödie. Im Stile von Dan Simmons „Terror“ oder  „Der Berg“ gibt die Autorin der traurigen Geschichte eines unglücklichen Siedlertrecks einen Twist ins Übernatürliche.

 

Die Story beschreibt in Grundzügen die reale Reise der Donner-Party. Im April 1846 macht sich ein Siedlertreck von Illinois unter der Leitung von George Donner und James Reed auf nach Kalifornien. Durch ein paar Fehlentscheidungen verlieren sie viel Zeit. Deswegen beschließen sie, einen neuen Weg auszuprobieren anstatt den bewährten California-Trail. Sie vertrauen den Worten eines Mannes, der den Weg nur per Pferd und mit leichtem Gepäck beritten hat. Warnungen, nicht auf ihn zu hören, erreichen die Reisenden nicht mehr. Der neue Weg entpuppt sich leider nicht als die erhoffte Abkürzung. Er ist extrem beschwerlich, für Planwagen nahezu ungeeignet. Es ist eine unfassbare Anstrengung für die 87 Menschen, von denen ein Großteil aus Frauen und Kindern besteht. Sie verlieren noch mehr Zeit und werden im Oktober in der Sierra Nevada von einem Schneesturm überrascht und müssen dort Überwintern. Ihre Vorräte gehen zur Neige. Von dem mitgeführten Vieh ist das meiste auf der strapaziösen Reise verendet. Nach einigen Wochen können ein paar der Siedler losziehen um Hilfe zu holen und die Überlebenden zu retten.

 

Diese Geschichte ist schon fürchterlich genug. Die Hälfte der Siedler starb auf dem Weg. Der Rest wurde halb verhungert gefunden. Schon bald wurden Geschichten über Kannibalismus verbreitet. Was genau geschah, weiß man nicht. Die Autorin nun lässt die armen Menschen einen zusätzlichen Horror erleben. Irgendetwas verfolgt sie. Kinder verschwinden nachts aus den Zelten und werden nie mehr gefunden. Geschichten um blutdürstige Indianer machen die Runde. Einige denken, es ist einen Dämon. Anstrengung, Angst und Hunger machen die Siedler reizbar. Es kommt zu Streit und Gewalttätigkeiten.

 

„The Hunger“ hat mich interessiert, da es ähnlich wie „Terror“ eine wahre Geschichte zu einer Horrorstory verarbeitet. Dan Simmons oben erwähnte Bücher haben mir sehr gut gefallen und ich habe sie geradezu verschlungen. Alma Katsu hat allerdings nicht Simmons erzählerische Kraft. Ihr Buch ist auch viel kürzer und knapper, was aber für mich kein Negativpunkt. Sie hat den Fokus auf einige Figuren beschränkt, mit denen man schon bald mitfiebert, auch wenn man weiß, wie die Geschichte für sie ausging. Es gibt leider nur wenige, rudimentäre Landschaftsbeschreibungen. Man erfährt wenig über die Historie der Siedlertrecks in Amerika. Die gewaltige Anstrengung, die ein solcher Treck quer durch Amerika damals bedeutet, wird in Ansätzen angedeutet, bleibt aber an der Oberfläche. Als historischen Roman würde ich das Buch deswegen nicht einordnen. Es ist klar ein Horrorbuch, auch wenn mir persönlich nicht besonders unheimlich wurde während des Lesens. Mir die ganze Ursache zu wenig greifbar. Was sich dort in den Wäldern versteckt und einen Hunger auf Menschen hat, bleibt zwar nicht ungeklärt, aber doch ein wenig ein Mysterium.

 

Ich habe das Buch trotzdem gerne gelesen. Es ist nicht sonderlich umfangreich und liest sich flüssig. Katsu schreibt knapp und präzise. Ihre Figurenentwicklung ist besser als ihre Storyentwicklung, soweit es jedenfalls den Horror im Wald angeht. Die Geschichte um die Donner-Party ist ja vorgegeben und wie sie im Nachwort schreibt, ist sie nur in einigen wenigen Dingen davon abgewichen.  Das Buch hält die Balance zwischen Historie und Grusel, kratzt aber bei beidem leider nur an der Oberfläche. Die Story  um die Donner-Party und ihre realen und fiktionalen Dramen ist aber trotzdem sehr interessant und der flüssige und schnörkellose Schreibstil machen das Buch zu einem kurzweiligen Leseerlebnis.

 

Ich habe das Buch von Heyne-Verlag zur Verfügung gestellt bekommen, wofür ich mich ganz herzlich bedanken möchte.

Graeme Macrae Burnet – Sein blutiges Projekt

512b4xi2byk9l-_sx316_bo1204203200_  3 Stars

German review of „His Bloody Project“

Ich hatte dieses Buch seit Ewigkeiten auf meinem SuB. Wahrscheinlich zu lange. Denn es kommt mir so vor, als wäre seine ungewöhnliche Erzählart inzwischen überholt. Ich denke, ich habe das Buch einfach zu spät gelesen.

Ein Thriller ist dieses Buch gewiss nicht. Für mich fällt es eher ins historische Genre. Rodericks Bericht, der einen großen Teil des Buches einnimmt, ist sehr langsam und ausführlich erzählt und leider auch nicht sehr spannend. Mich hat von Anfang an sehr gewundert, warum ich als Leser von der absoluten Wahrhaftigkeit dieses Berichtes ausgehen soll. Da das Thema des unglaubwürdigen Erzählers schon fast ein eigenen Genre ist, hinterfragt man solche Berichte doch schon fast von Natur aus. Der einzige Kniff ist, das man bis zur Hälfte des Buches nicht weiß, wer denn die anderen beiden Opfer Rodericks sind. Sobald dieser Punkt erhellt wird, kann man sich schon einiges denken. Denn die Frage stellt sich, wen zu töten Roderick tatsächlich beabsichtigte und wer der Kollateralschaden ist. Aber spätestens, wenn in der ziemlich langweiligen Gerichtsverhandlung der Mediziner zu Wort kommt, kann man das Buch eigentlich zuklappen.

Wie man vielleicht merkt, bin ich etwas enttäuscht von diesem so hochgelobten Buch. Ich hatte vielleicht zu hohe Erwartungen. Zum Glück ist es mit etwas über 300 Seiten nicht allzu dick und liest sich trotz des getragenen Stils schnell weg. Ich fand es aber weder sehr tiefsinnig, trotz seines Einblicks in die trostlosen Leben dieser Menschen im schottischen Hochland. Leichtes Interesse bzw. Kopfschütteln lösten noch diese abstrusen Theorien zur „Verbrecherrasse“ bei mir aus, obwohl ich davon schon gehört hatte. Im Nachhinein finde ich tatsächlich Roderick sehr interessant. Denn im Grunde erfahren wir nichts Greifbares über ihn. Er bleibt ein Mysterium.

Ich denke einfach, dass ich in der Tat schon zu viel in dieser Richtung gelesen habe und deswegen dieses Buch nicht mehr als originell oder herausragend empfinden kann. Trotzdem bin ich froh, es endlich gelesen zu haben.

Bad Apple – Zoje Stage

39683426 3 Stars

I expected this book with great anticipation because it was so incredibly hyped among the bookbloggers. However, I tried not to overstate my expectations. Because often I’ve been disappointed in such hyped books already.

Review contains minor spoilers

We get to know the Jensen family. Alex, Suzette and daughter Hannah. Unfortunately, they are not the perfect little family they look like. Mother and daughter have somehow entered a psychological warfare over Alex’s affection. Hannah, only 7 years old, refuses to speak. Simply because she does not want to communicate with words. Physically she is alright and healthy. She is highly intelligent, but varies between premature and very childish behaviour. She is capable of making clever conclusions, but on the other side, she often does not understand that her behaviour makes the exact opposite impression on the adults around her.

While Hannah is an interesting character after all, I had massive problems with the parents. Alex is a bit squishy somehow. But Suzette, I disliked her very much. Her Crohn’s disease is certainly terrible, but I found the heavy emphasis on the book tiresome. Some reviewers evidently found this topic especially notable. For me, however, it was just remarkably boring. Personally, I do not need such a detailed description, especially if it seems out of place, as here. The book is a dark domestic drama. The disease has certainly shaped the character of Suzette. But somehow it seemed more like a profound personal tragedy to push into the story. And give Hannah another starting point for harming her mother.

The problem with this book is that it is somehow not harmonious. On the one hand, it is a disturbing story about a sociopathic child who wants to do serious harm to her mother in order to keep her father to herself. Suzette would like to have Alex for herself, too. She quarrels with her motherhood on so many levels and it turns the story in a circle. Hannah is evil. But she is a child. She loves her. But actually she would like to get rid of her again. But she must not think that. This is how the same lines of thought always turn in a circle. Even after something happened, she worried about her child in a moment, only to think again a few minutes later that Hannah was trying to hurt her. Alex is just as inconsistent. This eternal back and forth of the two has annoyed me pretty much. Maybe that is what you feel as a parent but it somehow did not work in favour of the story.

The conclusion is also a little undecided. I somehow hoped for something, a twist maybe. Of course, Suzette as an adult wins this duel in the affection of Alex. But the end leaves it open, if it could perhaps go on with this very strange family.

I can not quite join he hype around this book. Yes, it is a dark and uncomfortable story. The basic idea is good. The author can also write very fluently. The pages flew just like that. For a long time, it’s all about how and with what Hannah will harm her mother. There is little story development there. Personally, the descriptions of Suzette’s disease are way too much. That was too much unnecessary information for me that did not contribute to the story. Reading this book is not a waste of time. But it is not a big loss if you skip it. It certainly did not deserve the big hype because it is too indecisive and inconsistent. But the author definitely can write well, and with all the dislike I felt for her characters, they are remarkable and memorable. I would read another book from her. Because despite all of its flaws, I think that I will remember this story for a long time.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review