The Curious Affair of the Somnambulist and the Psychic Thief by Lisa Tuttle

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What drew me to this novel was the long title. It made me curious (ha-ha) as to what this novel would be like.

For several years, Miss Lane served as a collaborator and friend to Miss X, a member of the Psychical Societs – only to discover that Miss X was a fraud. Upset by this betrayal, Miss Lane leaves to go find new employment, and she does so with Mr. Jasper Jesperson, a consulting detective. While she is much happier in her current position as assistant detective, the cases aren’t plentiful and money is a bit tight. They need a breakthrough case, something that will give them a reputation – and some cash. Then they get one: it involves a somnambulist, the disappearance of several mediums, and a cat stuck up a tree. And Jesperson and Lane are the perfect people to solve this case! 

Sometimes a novel just doesn’t work for a reader. This is one of those times. I’m going to go through the list of things that caused this novel to not work for me, but keep in mind that it may just be a case of personal preference.

When I began reading this novel, I was startled by the pacing of the book. The focus was more on recounting events rather than showing the true passage of time and the full events, which was a bit disappointing; I would have preferred to have read the scenes in real time.

I was also taken aback by the similarities between Jesperson and Sherlock Holmes. The author did allude to Sherlock Holmes in the very beginning so I knew that there would be comparisons between these detectives and him. However, I wasn’t expecting the author to create characters and relationships so strikingly similar. While I love Sherlock Holmes, I don’t like seeing characters that try to emulate him.

I didn’t like the main characters in the story, which is unfortunate because it led me to not like the story. Jesperson was quite whiny and I didn’t like his ideologies; he believed himself to be the next Sherlock, and showed a great deal of selfishness and arrogance in his decisions. Miss Lane was a bit annoying, and that made it hard to get through the story, which is pretty much told through her perspective.

My favorite thing about this story is the Victorian Era setting for this novel. The author really did a good job in staying true to this time period and I just love reading novels set in Victorian England. I also quite liked the mystery itself, as it had a lot of funny and interesting aspects to it.

Overall, this was an interesting story but the characters didn’t work for me, and that is why I didn’t really enjoy this novel as much as I could have. While I give this novel a 2.5/5 stars, I’m sure there are others that would rate this novel higher!

Happy reading ~

 

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The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer

When I first approached this novel, I had no idea what a shut eye was. Apparently a Shut Eye is a true psychic, as opposed to frauds. That got me interested right away because I love anything psychic. I don’t know if I really believe in psychics per se but reading about them is always thrilling for me, so I was really looking forward to this novel!

One unlocked door was all it took for little Daniel Buck to run out of his house. Now, only five footprints encased in cement remain. Every day, Anna Buck, Daniel’s mother, sits outside and polishes these little prints to a shine, keeping them safe. It’s the only thing that makes her feel safe. When she hears about a psychic who is said to be able to be the real deal, Anna grasps at the chance. Maybe he can tell her where her son is. But is this man really who he claims to be? Is he a shut eye? Or something far worse than just a fake?

So after reading this story, what I have to say is …. this story doesn’t resemble this premise at all.  You’ve got this detective inspector who is really rude and full of himself, and he’s apparently unable to let go of a missing persons case. Not the one described in the synopsis but another one. In the meantime, you read about the Buck family and their struggle with the grief and anxiety that comes from losing their son and not having any definitive answers on what happened to him. You have this mention of a psychic who the detective inspector believes is a fraud, and who Anna believes is her last hope. And then somehow the story changes and we’ve got Anna who is suddenly clairvoyant. The build up in this story is fantastic, and the characters are definitely different and not what I’m used to. Both of these aspects are things I like. However, the actual reveal of the perpetrator and their motive …. well, it fell short for me. It felt like it was just wrapped up in that way because the author couldn’t think of a more clever way of explaining it all. The ending was decent, and left me with a bittersweet feeling. All in all, this was a decent book but other than the unique characters and the moments of clairvoyance, it wasn’t that great.

Happy reading ~

The Whispering Hollows by Lisa Unger

I almost never read short stories or novellas. I just find them to be more of a teaser than an actual satisfying story. But after reading Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger (check out my post a few days ago!), I knew that I had to give this trilogy of novellas a shot, especially since it concerned the mysterious town known as The Hollows. I’ve decided to give a mini synopsis of each of the three stories in this set. But I will give a quick summary of my thoughts on all of them at one time.

Part One: The Whispers

Eloise Montgomery always thought that she would know when a terrible accident would happen to her. But she was wrong. On a day like any other in The Hollows, a car accident claims the lives of Eloise’s husband and eldest daughter, and leaves Eloise in a coma. As she recovers, Eloise begins to experience psychic visions. Struggling to understand what is happening to her, Eloise feels torn – she wants to support her grief-stricken younger daughter but she also feels compelled to do something about the spirits that haunt her.
Part Two: The Burning Girl

It has been ten years since the fatal accident that tore her family apart. Now, Eloise is a renowned psychic who “works” in The Hollows. Through her visions as well as her own research, she has started discovering disturbing things about her family history, things that could maybe explain why she has these visions – and why her young granddaughter is exhibiting signs of being a psychic herself. The most disturbing thing Eloise is realizing is that not all of the spirits that approach her are seeking help. Some are seeking destruction – namely, hers.

Part Three: The Three Sisters

Finley, now nineteen, has come to live with Eloise in The Hollows. Finley’s powers are growing stronger every day, and they are starting to transform Eloise’s abilities. For one thing, Eloise’s load seems to have grown lighter and she doesn’t need to do as much to convene with the spirits. While Eloise works on her latest case with the local detective, she begins to worry about Finley. Is Finley really ready to embrace her destiny, and can Eloise help her put her anger into something good?

I love Eloise. She is the best person ever and I wish she were my grandmother. The author has done a fantastic job in portraying such a warm, strong, and realistic person. I liked how all of the stories revolve around Eloise; even if they deal with different issues, they come back to the feelings and experiences of the protagonist. One thing that I didn’t really like about this novel was that it left me with some gaps in my knowledge of events in The Hollows. As someone who is new to this fictional setting, I would have loved to have some more details and less ambiguous information. But I didn’t really mind it, as it has made me even more eager to read more of the novels that are about The Hollows. Overall, this is one of the few short story/novella collections that I have actually enjoyed. And if you are a fan of The Hollows, then you definitely do not want to miss out on this fix!

Happy reading ~

Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger

This book was given to me as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I read the description for this novel, I almost jumped up and down in my seat for excitement. It literally has everything that I love all rolled into one. Mystery? Check. Crazy killings and kidnappings? Check. Badass female protagonists? Check!! Supernatural events? CHECK, CHECK, AND MORE CHECKS! I’m so grateful I got a chance to read this novel so here is my review!

Finley Montgomery is not your ordinary twenty-year old. For as long as she can remember, Finley has had a special gift: she can see into the future and can see beyond the physical world, allowing her to make supernatural things happen. But Finley has no control over her powers, which seem to be growing stronger every day. The only person who can help is her grandmother, Eloise, who lives up in the Hollows, a small town in upstate New York. Finley decides to move there to continue on with her life – while learning how to use her gift. But this “gift” seems both a blessing a curse, as Findley finds herself drawn into the investigation of a young girl that has been missing for ten months. With time running out, Finley is starting to feel the supernatural pull of the Hollows. Will she be able to get to the little girl? Or will the Hollows take her instead?

This book was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC! Every single aspect of it was well thought out. The story, the characters, the supernatural… it all fit in seamlessly. This novel had so many different areas that it explored; from the need to belong and know who you are to the question of whether there is an afterlife, everything was covered in a brilliant way. I could not put this book down and nor did I want to! Apparently, there were three short stories that the author wrote prior to this novel that were on the same topic of The Hollows; I plan on getting my hands on them ASAP, just because I liked the story so much! There is no need to read the short stories before this one as it all flows well. I cannot wait to read more by this author and I urge you all to give it a shot, too!

Happy reading~

 

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

I am always talking about how I find Gillian Flynn fantastic. She is by far my favorite author when it comes to the thriller fiction category and I am always excited to read something that she has written or has recommended. I have been waiting a couple of months to get my hands on this novel and when I finally got it, I was surprised by how thin it was. I mean, it couldn’t have been more than 45 pages in total! Anyways, I was still willing to give it a shot so here is my review:

This story is told from the viewpoint of an unnamed female narrator who is smart enough to find ways to survive. She is known for giving the best hand jobs and has quite a few regular clientele who come by to see her. But as she begins to experience wrist pain, she knows she must switch into a different career path. And so, she becomes a clairvoyant, a psychic, who claims to be able to see auras. She knows she’s a fraud. But she’s good at what she does. That is, until Susan Burke gives her a visit. Susan is a rich yet unhappy woman who is terrified of her own home and begs our narrator to come and “cleanse” her house. And once she sees the house, she no longer needs to pretend to believe in ghosts. The house is eerie … but Susan’s stepson is even more disturbing. And when all three are caught in a battle of minds, one will wonder … where is the true evil hiding?

I quite liked the novel and the way in which it was set up. It was short and funny, yet it made me shiver a bit here and there. It isn’t as shocking or as chilling as Flynn’s other novels but it carries the same psychological manipulation as in her other works; by the end of the novel, you really don’t know who to trust. I don’t have much more to say about this novel because it is something to be discovered and enjoyed on your own so if you are looking for a short yet engrossing read that will make you think in many many different ways, then give this novel a shot! Fans of Gillian Flynn will find themselves enjoying this novel in a very different way than Gone Girl or Dark Places!

Happy reading

The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell

In all honesty, this was one of the books I was most excited to read as an advanced copy. Its premise was just too irresistible for me because it had all of my favorite ideas in one place (*hint, hint, I’ve mentioned it previously in other posts so maybe you already have an idea of what it entails*)! It has just been released so if the story line captures your attention like it did mine, I would urge you to go and check it out as soon as you can!

Nine-year-old twins Abigail and Olivia have always been inseparable. But that changes when Abigail disappears at home on Blackwater Farm. It is up to DC Jennifer Knight to find Abigail in this rural setting. The one person who may hold all of the clues is Olivia – but since her sister’s disappearance, she has been mute. Knight makes it her mission to make Olivia feel safe enough to confide in her. And it seems as if her efforts have been rewarded when Olivia decides to say something to her – but it is not her that is speaking, but rather Abigail. In order to discover where Abigail is, Knight must unravel every secret in this house…but will it be enough to save this young girl’s life?

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the reasons I was drawn to this book was because it is a thriller, involves twins, and hints at the supernatural. I read so many thrillers and the supernatural and mystical have always held  a special spot for me; I will always choose horror and ghosts and possession-type movies over any other genre (which is something my boyfriend finds really really creepy about me)! But I like reading about twins because when I was much younger, I had wanted a twin. I was heavily influenced by the Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen craze and I wanted to be a twin just like them so much so that I asked my parents for one when I was seven years old. I got a sister instead and while I love her to bits, I still wish I could have been a twin! Anyways, that’s why I was so eager to read this novel!

As for the actual novel itself, I had no idea when I started reading it that this novel was the third book in a detective series. In all honesty, I was able to read along just fine without having read the first book so anyone could read this as an independent novel. The storyline itself was very interesting and I definitely liked the concept of using psychics for detective work; I wish there had been more of that in the novel but perhaps that would have changed the whole outcome of the story so maybe it is better this way. All of the characters were complex and I was happy for the opportunity to understand everyone’s perspective to this terrible situation. I wasn’t as happy with the ending as I could have been but it was still quite satisfactory and shows promise for a follow-up. If you are in the market for a thriller that is unlike the norm, then this novel should definitely be on your list!

Happy reading ~

Help For the Haunted by John Searles

I have literally been waiting for this book for close to 7 months, which is a VERY long time. Something about the idea of psychics and demonologists is just so enticing that I can’t help but grab any book on that topic. This novel is no exception.

Sylvie’s parents have an unusual career: they are demonologists. Aside from nation-wide conferences where they speak about their experiences, they also are called to help people who believe they or someone they live are possessed. It isn’t unusual to get late night calls so Sylvie isn’t perturbed when her parents take her with them to meet someone in a church. She is surprised when she hears gunshots – shots that kill her parents. Through a narrative that entwines the past with the present, Sylvie must uncover the secrets of her family in order to discover the identity of the killer.

At first, I thought this novel would be very much about possession and demons and exorcisms. It is not. It is about family secrets and ties, the way the media can destroy a family, and the power of belief. Although this novel deviated from my initial expectations, I still enjoyed it immensely. It was told from a naive child’s perspective, which made the novel that much more heartbreaking. The characters that I admired in the beginning were the ones I hated at the end and vice versa. The story was extremely complex and touched on a multitude of issues that really brought the story together. All in all, a great novel and one I would recommend to anyone looking for a complex thrill.

Happy reading ~

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

When I initially started reading this novel, I had no idea that it was part of a series; I was hoping to read a standalone novel as it would be easier to move on to the next book. However, after reading this book, I am so glad that it is part of a series and I cannot wait to read the next novel!

For a very long time, Blue has been told that she will be the cause of her true love’s death. Her mother, a clairvoyant, and her mother’s friends, who are also psychic, have been warning her of this fate since Blue could remember. And so, Blue has promised herself to stay away from all boys, especially the Raven Boys – pompous rich kids who go to a private elite school called Aglionby.
Every year, Blue accompanies her mother to a graveyard to watch the soon-to-be – dead assemble. Usually Blue sees nothing – until now. This time, she sees the spirit of a Raven Boy who tells her his name is Gansey. Although Blue knows she should stay away, she finds herself drawn to Gansey and his friends who are on an otherworldly quest of their own.

This novel was great. Every single character had a subplot and each got a chance to have their perspective shown. I liked the psychic angle and all of the magical elements involved. Mostly, I liked how this novel transcended the theme of fantasy and moved into that of personal growth and family ties. There were some parts of the novel that seemed a bit abrupt and could have been explained better. The ending of the novel caught me off guard because it almost seemed to have missed something. My need to know more about this story and to follow it through to the end is what is motivating me to read the next book in this series. If you like fantasy and teen fiction, then this is the novel for you! I promise that by the end, you will be hooked!

Happy reading ~

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

So I have had quite an adventure with this novel. When I first picked it up, I has no idea that this was by the same person who wrote Cloud Atlas (which I haven’t read or watched but I’ve heard amazing things about it so I probably should do both). I began reading it sometime in early 2015 but school and work and other commitments got in the way and I couldn’t continue. I picked it up again about a month ago and surprisingly, I was able to take off exactly where I left off. Unlike other novels, I wasn’t able to read this in the span of a few days; I’ve finished it after having had it for almost a month. I think  it’s high time I wrote this review!

It’s 1984 and teenager Holly Sykes is having the worst day ever. She has just lost her best friend and boyfriend in one day and has had a terrible fight with her mother. The only course of action she has left is to run away from home – which is exactly what she does. This impulsive act is just the beginning of an adventure of a lifetime. From a job in a Swiss resort to becoming an acclaimed authoress, Holly encounters a whole host of people who make a lasting impression in her life and end up dragging her into the middle of a war between soul-stealers called Anchorites and a group of vigilantes who are the world’s only line of defense.

This was a beautifully written novel. it was rich in detail and had me hooked from the start. The author is remarkable in his ability to shift from one character to another and make each one distinct. There were times when I became quite lost and times when my interest wasn’t piqued. In fact, the story consisted of many vague connections all the way until about the last quarter of the novel, where the final battle was waged. Although it was confusing and could sometimes be dry, I really enjoyed this novel. It was scintillating and crazy and wholly original. If you like any of Mitchell’s work, then I’m sure you’re familiar with his style and will enjoy this novel. If you are a first-timer like me, you will still love it – as long as you are prepared to stick with it!

Happy reading ~

The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams

When I read the trailer for this book,  I had to get it. It seemed like my type of book what with all of its serial killer creepiness and victorian setting.

Catherine is an agitated young woman who lives with her uncle in a ruin of a house. Although her uncle is determined to see her become a member of the upper class society, Catherine has very few companions. But suddenly, a killer strikes in her neighbourhood, ripping open the chest of his female victims and stuffing their hair in their mouths. The newspapers have started to call him the Man of Crows because of the way he arranges the bodies. Everyone is terrified – except for Catherine, who finds herself having visions related to the killings. Determined to discover the identity of the killer, she plunges head first into the dark alleys of London, only to find that everything she ever believed about her life was a lie.

I really didn’t like this novel. It was so convoluted and as I kept reading, it sounded more and more like the crazed delusions of a mental patient. Even now, I doubt whether she really had visions at all! The “truth” was really messed up and didn’t make that much sense to me. All in all, this was not a good book and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

Happy reading ~