BOOK REVIEW : THE SILENT PATIENT

Author: Alex Michaelides
Links
: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Celadon Books.
Genre: Mystery; Thriller; Suspense.
Warnings: Violence, Mental sickness, Mentions of suicide.
Release Date: February 5th 2019.

synopsis

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…


review

So I finally rode what I’d like to call the hype-train, almost a YEAR after its release. Yes. But there’s a reason that I was late to the party. I’d found the premise very intriguing, and yet I was wary after seeing all the hype. I mean, I can’t be the only one who’s been betrayed by the hype more often than not. And while I’m not on board with the idea that this book is perfect, I do understand the reason behind the raving reviews.

It’s the BIG TWIST. And right now I’m annoyed about it because I can’t actually go into details about my feelings about the book. That would just spoil the BIG TWIST. But the thing is, I didn’t find it to be a huge twist. Did it make me go WTF when I read the reveal? Of course. But, was it completely unexpected? Uh, no. See, I have this bad habit of trying to think of all possible scenarios that the story could lead to, when I start a book, especially a suspense. And the big twist did come to my mind among other possibilities. But I had definitely not expected it to go down the way it did. And the author sure deserves to be commended for that.

The story follows Psychotherapist Theo Faber as he takes up a job at an institution just so that he could personally treat Alicia Berenson, a popular painter who went silent after allegedly killing her husband, and is residing in the same facility Theo joins. This story had quite a few things working against it right from the start. First was my inability to get on board with the motives of the characters. I kept constantly questioning the logic of the plot. Second was again my inability to connect with any of the characters. Third was the pacing. The pace is slow at first and the plot takes time to pick up. And finally, that ending… I felt that the while the twist took the story to a whole another level, it also forced the author to compromise a little with the storytelling. There were little questions still nagging me after the end. I would have liked the author taking a few more pages to wrap things up nicely.

As far as thrillers go, The Silent Patient delivers. Quite an impressive debut from the new writer. I liked it a lot, but it had potential to have had a higher impact on me. That’s where I feel that the story let me down. But I’d still recommend everyone to read it.


ratings

★★★☆☆

How to Deal with a Reader’s Block

Hellooooo. So, I promised myself more than a month ago that I’d resume my blogging right away after a month of sickness and traveling. But ‘lo and behold, I couldn’t keep my promise. Why, you ask? A case of serious reader’s block! I can’t remember the last time I had such it this bad.

Thankfully, I’m beginning to get over the block slowly. So, I thought of doing a post on reader’s block. I’ll speak from my own experience of what I feel might be the reasons for a reader’s block and in what ways we can get out of it.


why

  • A string of DNFs: It’s difficult to pick up a new book when you’ve gone through a number of crappy books at a stretch. That happened to me too. I unfortunately made a series of bad decisions on my ARC requests on Netgalley. I DNF’ed quite a few of them.
  • Addiction to TV shows: So I picked up this addiction for Turkish TV shows – of all things – out of the blue. Right when I was going through a bout of crappy books. Whatta convenient timing. And then to top it off, I found myself rewatching some of my favorite Korean shows. Basically what I did for half of the November month.
  • Addiction to gaming: So, one lazy day, I discovered that my brother hadn’t uninstalled Far Cry 4 from the desktop at our house. And voila! I started playing the game 24/7. I spent nearly 2 weeks on finishing the game!
  • A rough patch: When you’re having a rough patch in life and there are too many things to stress about, it’s certainly not easy to pick up a book let along get engrossed in it. Thankfully, the reader’s block this time wasn’t due to a rough patch.

I should mention that the first 3 things happened to me chronologically to me this time. And that’s why the reader’s block was so serious! I have a one-track mind. Once I get obsessed about something, it’s quite difficult to get me off that. Meh.


cure

  • Rereading favorites: Rereading your favorite books is always a good trick to rediscover your love for reading. Especially when you have read only crappy books in the recent past, it always helps to reread a book that you loved. And although at the beginning of this reader’s block, it was a struggle even getting myself to pick up an old favorite, I made a conscious effort to try reading even a few pages from my favorites when I could. And that’s really helped me regain my enthusiasm!
  • Audiobooks: Audiobooks are also an effective way of countering a reader’s block. You could listen to an audiobook while commuting or doing your chores. It’s helped me in the past to feel keen enough to pick up the book and read it. But this time I couldn’t even muster the time and effort to do that.
  • Watching screen adaptations: Whenever I watch a screen adaptation of a book and find myself enjoying it, I get a strong urge to read the book. Even if I’ve read the book before, I’ll feel nostalgic to revisit the book!
  • Being selective with ARC requests: This last one is more of a preventive measure rather than a cure. I’ve consciously decided to request fewer ARCs from now on.

I recently realized that having such a huge backlist of ARCs made reading feel like a chore over the past few months. And that’s the last thing I wanted when I had decided to start blogging. So I might read fewer books now and post fewer reviews, but at least I won’t be treating this as a chore.

I’ll be honest. This post didn’t come to me easy.  My writing feels a little rusty now and it took some effort to churn this out. But I can’t explain how refreshing it feels now to have written this post!

But I’d love to know how you deal with reader’s block. This whole slump has left me even more appreciative of  book bloggers out there who’ve been churning out book reviews for years now! So please leave comments and let me know about your experiences of a reader’s block.

Happy Reading!

BOOK REVIEW : THE FLATSHARE

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

reviewIt’s like I ordered what I thought would be a vanilla ice-cream, but with every bite, I was surprised with the burst of the myriad of other flavors that just had me going in for more.

Tiffy’s on-and-off boyfriend asks her to move out of his flat and she needs a housing option ASAP. Leon needs quick money to pay for his brother appeal case after he is wrongly convicted on a false robbery case. He works night shifts at a hospice and Tiffy is an assistant editor for a publishing house which publishes DIY and crafting books. (How cute is that?) So, both are desperate for money. Leon puts up an ad for a flatshare, and Tiffy answers. It’s convenient for both of them.

Almost half of the book is spent with Leon and Tiffy communicating through notes left at their flat, and the occasional texts. It also doesn’t help that Leon’s protective girlfriend takes the responsibility of dealing all things flatsharing with Tiffy, and it’s her house Leon spends his weekends in.

Leon and Tiffy are completely opposites. Tiffy is also quirky, messy, unreserved and warm. She also stands out because of her quirky sense of dressing. Tiffy also shares everything about her life with her best friends. Leon is the introvert. Quiet, shy and reserved. He doesn’t like talking.

Even the chapters with his POV are written in phrases rather than sentences to show his reticence with using words. In contrast, Tiffy’s POV chapters are wordier and more articulately written to keep with her chatty personality. It was a clever if unconventional style of writing by the author to paint the differences between the two characters.

But Leon and Tiffy are similar in the ways that count. They are both kind and compassionate. Leon is too attached to his patients, so much so, that he goes out of his way to help find their lost companions. When Tiffy finds out about Leon’s brother, she goes out of her way to help. A gesture that means a lot to Leon who needs people to believe in his brother’s innocence like he does.

A special shout-out to Tiffy’s friends! They were the whole package. Gerty was the pragmatic, no-bullshit lawyer friend, Mo sensitive and supportive, Rachel wild and fun-loving. I want them as my friends! This book also deals with the dangers of toxic and emotionally abusive relationships. I was just glad that Tiffy had the best set of friends to get her through her rough times. She also couldn’t ask for a better guy than Leon to help her move on. They were too sweet and adorable together. Almost too good for the world!

This was just the read I needed! There is a sweetness and depth to this book that was was not alluded to in the blurb. I couldn’t recommend it enough!


review

★★★★★


 

ARC REVIEW : IZZY IN EL MAREO

Izzy’s trying to cope with life, love, and loneliness, but her fast life in Houston is rapidly spinning out of control.

So when the twenty-three-year-old American takes a job at an international resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, she hopes her old life is behind her at last—and with it, all the self-doubts and insecurities that have plagued her since childhood. She’s wondering if she’ll be able to survive in a new job in a strange country, but for now, the city’s breathtaking ocean views by day and sexy club scenes by night look like paradise.

Happy and energized by the unfamiliar sights and sounds of her surroundings, Izzy sets out to prove herself in the Spanish-speaking office. Soon she’s making strides at work, partying with new acquaintances, and all the while gaining confidence as she successfully navigates the local culture (and the men in it).

But soon the lines start to blur in paradise. Izzy misses her family and her boyfriend back home; she senses her new friends may be ignoring her; and when she travels for work, she feels insecure and out of place. Her self-esteem takes a hit. Confusion and disorientation set in. Returning to old habits—drinking, partying hard, and looking for love with strangers—Izzy is feeling more alone than ever. When an office gaffe threatens to ruin her much-anticipated trip home for Christmas, Izzy is forced to take stock: Was the whole move to Mexico a mistake? Can she find a way to get her career—and her life—back on track?


That huge blurb pretty much sums up the story.

Izzy moves to Mexico for a job. She suffers from culture shock and struggles to adjust to a new life.

This was a genuine coming-of-age story with a very real and flawed female protagonist. I could not empathize with her because of the decisions she takes and her reactions to certain situations. Izzy is immature and naive, especially when it comes to trusting people, especially men. Most of the men in this story are trash. Not that the friends are any better. Izzy really has a crappy sense of judgment. But thankfully, by the end, she finally comes on to her own. The one good thing about Izzy’s frustrating experiences were that they felt real. She is not averse to taking risks or making mistakes. While it made her a flawed character, but it was also sort of refreshing in a way.

This was a very situational story with no big twists or reversals. The flow of the story very much relied on Izzy and her experiences. I feel that the conversations and the dialogue could use more polishing. The author has definite potential as is evident in her descriptions of Izzy’s feeling of isolation and bringing to life the places and the setting. But I feel that better editing could’ve done the story wonders. Also, most of the dialogues written in Spanish are not directly translated. We get a gist of the conversation but never the exact words. As a reader who likes to take stock of the conversations and the words spoken, I was kinda annoyed.

Not a bad attempt by the author for her first book. But not a great one either.

Would I recommend it? I guess it’s worth giving the book a shot!


★★★☆☆


Publication Date: 5th March, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links –  AmazonGoodreads | Book Depository

TOP TEN TUESDAY : Places Mentioned In Books That I’d Like to Visit

Hello, all! Doing TTT after 2 weeks. Life just won’t gimme a break. Anyways, I’ll just keep this short and sweet.

For all those who don’t know, Top Ten Tuesday is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.


ttt

  • Hogwarts (Harry Potter) : I know it’s fictional, but one can hope, right?
  • Hogsmeade Village (Harry Potter) : What can I say? I’m a Potterhead.
  • Manderley (Rebecca) : Manderley is a place that I always imagined as scary beautiful. I wish it was real.
  • Neverland (Peter Pan) : An island where you don’t age? Sign me in.
  • Willy Wonka’s Factory (Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory) : Quite an obvious choice considering I love chocolates and I love this factory. To be honest, though, I never read the book. Watched the movies only.
  • King’s Cross Station (Harry Potter) : Are you kidding me? The place where my favorite fictional universe was first imagined? Definitely wanna visit.
  • Alaska (The Simple Wild) : Although, the town of Bangor where the story takes place is made-up, she does admit to bringing to life the wilderness of Alaska. I’d love to visit the place.
  • London (Sherlock Holmes) : I’ve never been to London but reading Sherlock Holmes in my childhood made it a country I always wanted to visit.
  • Swiss Alps (Heidi) : Another place that made it to my bucket list when I was a child.
  • Scotland (Outlander) : Now, the series makes Scotland out to be a dangerous place. But there are no revolutions or wars there right now. Now it’s just so beautiful with all those old castles that I want to visit.

 

ARC Review : Miracle Creek

A literary courtroom drama about a Korean immigrant family and a young, single mother accused of murdering her eight-year-old autistic son.

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first …

In the small town of Miracle Creek, Virginia, Young and Pak Yoo run an experimental medical treatment device known as the Miracle Submarine—a pressurized oxygen chamber that patients enter for therapeutic “dives” with the hopes of curing issues like autism or infertility. But when the Miracle Submarine mysteriously explodes, killing two people, a dramatic murder trial upends the Yoos’ small community.

Who or what caused the explosion? Was it the mother of one of the patients, who claimed to be sick that day but was smoking down by the creek? Or was it Young and Pak themselves, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? The ensuing trial uncovers unimaginable secrets from that night—trysts in the woods, mysterious notes, child-abuse charges—as well as tense rivalries and alliances among a group of people driven to extraordinary degrees of desperation and sacrifice.


What an engrossing debut by an author who knows how to write mysteries where every character has a story to tell!

This a courtroom drama where we get to see the story from every character’s point of view. And yet, the mystery of who is the culprit keeps you at your toes till the final reveal. I loved how every time I would become almost sure about a certain character being the culprit, the author throws a new curveball at us.

Every character is dishonest here. Everybody has their secrets and motives. Everybody lies. This book explores so many themes – motherhood, autism, immigration, abuse. But I think above all, it was about the extents that a mother could go to for her child. One thing that impressed me was how the author tackled the topic of struggle that every mother faces in their frustration with their inability to control their children’s life – be it their health or behavior.

It took me awhile to get into the story. What ultimately sucked me in was the courtroom shenanigans. The cross-examinations were so well done! I would have loved to see the culmination of the whole thing in a courtroom too. Not that I didn’t like the way it happened, but I was hoping for the case to culminate like a typical courtroom drama. Kudos to the author for making it unpredictable!

Even when I thought I had it all figured it out, I was wrong. And that makes me so happy! There are a lot of important themes going on here, all of which have a depth to them that made me stop and think what or who was right and wrong here. A great read!


review

★★★★☆


Publication Date: 16th April, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links –  AmazonGoodreads |Barnes & Noble

ARC Review : THE BEANTOWN GIRLS

A novel of love, courage, and danger unfolds as World War II’s brightest heroines—the best of friends—take on the front lines.

1944: Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. She’ll work in city hall, marry her fiancé when he returns from the war, and settle down in the Boston suburbs. But when her fiancé is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona’s long-held plans are shattered.

Determined to learn her fiancé’s fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to come along. There’s the outspoken Viviana, who is more than happy to quit her secretarial job for a taste of adventure. Then there’s Dottie, a shy music teacher whose melodious talents are sure to bring heart and hope to the boys on the front lines.

Chosen for their inner strength and outer charm, the trio isn’t prepared for the daunting challenges of war. But through it all come new friendships and romances, unforeseen dangers, and unexpected dreams. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives.


reviewWe are not even one month in for 2019 and I already have found what would be one of my top favorites of the year! It already is the best I’ve read so far in the year. I LOVE IT!

There’s so much to love in this book. Where do I even start?! The friendship of the girls with their unique arcs, the details of the wars, the stories of the soldiers, the love stories. And the emotions! I won’t lie. I shed tears quite a few times.

My favorite thing about the book is the group of girls, even beyond the main trio who are so inherently different than each other and yet their friendship and bond was so strong! I don’t know who I love more. Dottie, the shy and quiet one who comes on her own by the end of the book. Viviana, the vivacious and uninhibited one. Fiona, the intrepid and determined one. Then there’s Blanche, Martha, Frankie and Liz. I loved all of them but my heart went all out to Fiona. I felt her emotions, her conflicts, her determination like it was me. But what stood out to me was the bond between the three that compelled Dottie and Viviana to leave everything and accompany Fiona on her journey.

The love stories of the three characters were as different as them. And yet, they never overshadowed the main story itself. And the story was about the journey of all these characters. I’m proud to say that each of these journeys were so fulfilling to read about. There are so many characters that I could name that would stay with me.

There were a couple of parts in the book where I thought “Now, that could never happen during the war” but the note at the end of the book proved me wrong! These things actually happened! She took stories from real life and put her own twist on it. The research the author put towards this story is mind-blowing! I’m in awe of her.

I can’t express how perfectly the author illustrated that era in the book. That time, the places, the situations – they all felt spot-on. She nailed the tension, camaraderie, fearlessness and the uncertainty of the soldiers and the war itself. And yet, in digging deep into the details, she never let the story lose its heart. Even with the backdrop of the war, it still was a heart-warming and a somewhat feel-good story.

This was a story about love, loss, friendship, loyalty, war and above all bravery. I could beg you to give this book a chance! Wholeheartedly recommended!


review

★★★★★


Publication Date: 5th February, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links –  AmazonGoodreads | Barnes & Noble

Book Review : THE KISS THIEF

They say your first kiss should be earned.

Mine was stolen by a devil in a masquerade mask under the black Chicago sky.

They say the vows you take on your wedding day are sacred.

Mine were broken before we left church.

They say your heart only beats for one man.

Mine split and bled for two rivals who fought for it until the bitter end.

I was promised to Angelo Bandini, the heir to one of the most powerful families in the Chicago Outfit.

Then taken by Senator Wolfe Keaton, who held my father’s sins over his head to force me into marriage.

They say that all great love stories have a happy ending.

One kiss.
Two men.
Three lives.
Entwined together.

And somewhere between these two men, I had to find my forever.


review

I hate it when I can’t be aboard the hype train. I want to love the book as much as everyone seems to do! But I just can’t. I like it. But not as much as I’d hoped to have. I’m sure I’d have loved The Kiss Thief a lot more if I’d read it a few years ago. Goes to show that I really have aged as a reader.

There were tropes that I usually enjoy a lot! Enemies-to-lovers and arranged marriage. I was kinda on the edge about the love triangle but there was nothing to be hesitant about. It was clear from the start which guy’s the hero here. My problem with the book is the writing. It was juvenile at places. Some of the lines felt so ridiculous to read, especially from characters that are supposed to be senators and mafia lords.

I enjoyed the romance. I enjoyed Wolfe’s alpha persona. Francesca also was a great character, supposedly weak and naive but displaying strength and boldness when needed. Wolfe and Francesca had chemistry in spades. But I was not convinced by their decisions and actions. I was not convinced by the plot points.

I was expecting more of an insight into the decisions they make. We only see the outcomes or their decisions and realizations but not the process. Like at one point, one character admits that they love someone. But we are just told that they are in love. And that they realized it when the latter left them. And that’s it. Wait. That’s it? You put us through so much angst to just throw it like that?

I liked the ending. There is much-needed groveling and humbling. That was gratifying. But I find it lazy writing when I don’t get to see the thought process of a character even though we are reading their point of view. I’m probably being too harsh because it wasn’t a bad book. I just had higher expectations.


review

★★★☆☆


 

BOOK REVIEW : THE CACTUS

IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO BLOOM

People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green—a prickly independent woman, who has everything just the way she wants it and who certainly has no need for messy emotional relationships.

Family and colleagues find her standoffish and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that’s all she needs.

At forty-five, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward—a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.

Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control.

When she discovers that her mother’s will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.

This sparkling debut is a breath of fresh air with real heart and a powerful emotional punch. In Susan we find a character as exasperating and delightful as The Rosie Project‘s Don Tillman. An uncompromising feminist and a fierce fighter, it’s a joy to watch her bloom.


The Cactus was a lot like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Except, here the protagonist Susan does not exactly have any mental illness. She just has an emotional range of a teaspoon and very little tolerance for bullshit. Add to that an unexpected pregnancy and a family drama regarding her mother’s will.

Susan is cynical and closed off. Her behavior is kind of hard to get used to at first. She lives an ordered life with a job perfect for her. Susan likes to live an isolated life with minimal social interactions. But then her unexpected pregnancy and a court case with her good-for-nothing brother over their mother’s will forces her to have to rely on others. What follows is a journey of growth.

I like how the author takes us through flashbacks to give us a better idea about why Susan is the way she is. For example, at first her bitterness and disdain towards her brother seems almost unwarranted. I found her to be unreasonably cruel towards her brother. But as we slowly get glimpses into her past, we discover that her behavior is not unreasonable after all.

I was not completely wowed by the ending. I had an idea about what the big secret was by the time it got revealed. I also could’ve done without the romance however little it was. My favorite thing about the book was Susan’s journey of self-growth. Everything else was not as impressive. I could not help comparing the book with Eleanor Oliphant and that made it less enjoyable for me. My bad.


My Rating: ★★★☆☆

ARC Review : FLAMINGO LANE

Chance is a hitman with hippie roots and deep emotional wounds, disillusioned by life and stung by love—and his next target is the woman who rejected him. As he closes in on his victim, Chance struggles to rediscover the competitive edge that normally makes him so deadly. Meanwhile, the one safe haven Faye Lindstrom can rely on will only last until the end of the summer, assuming that the violence in her past doesn’t catch up to her first.

For lovers of Southern noir, Flamingo Lane is a gritty cat-and-mouse pursuit that ventures even further into the haunted territories of revenge and redemption first chronicled in Fever Tree.


Faye Lindstorm was kept as a sex slave by a man she fell in love with in Mexico. He turned out to be a overlord. She somehow managed to escape him but can’t escape her changed self. She decides to move to Florida to house-sit for a friend Dieter who is also an author in midst of writing a book of his own – Flamingo Lane – after his previous successful Fever Tree.

Unknown to Faye, an old acquaintance from Mexico – Chance has been assigned to kill her by none other than the Mexican overlord. Chance also happens to be someone who had an unrequited love for Faye back in their hippie days. But she had rejected him as she only ever saw him as a friend. Then there’s Dave, Dieter’s detective friend who gives Faye hope of starting over. However, Chance has followed her here too.

The characterization was spot-on. Chance, although a killer, was dealing with his own emotional scars that appealed to me. I found myself feeling sorry for him. I also rooted for Faye. She’s a mixture of vulnerable and strong that I always find welcoming in female characters. Dave, Dieter, Maggie and all the characters had interesting shades and made the read even more engaging.

The setting of the book made for a great Southern noir. I loved the environment that the author created. However, I keep making the same mistakes in that I didn’t know before starting it that this was the second book in a series. I’d have enjoyed it more if I’d read that one first. Also, that ending was quite predictable. But Flamingo Lane still wins for its narration and characterization.


My Rating: ★★★★☆

Publication Date: 12th February, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Goodreads | Target| QBD