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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-22 17:13
Erinyes by George Saoulidis (2016 Review)
Erinyes - George Saoulidis

Erinyes by George Saoulidis
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Egotistical Mahi is beyond ecstatic when she's presented with a new phone by her father; it's top of the line and a new model, one that offers tech never yet seen before. However unbeknownst to the selfie-loving youth, there's more to the phone than meets the eye.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to George Saoulidis for giving me the opportunity!

Initially the synopsis caught my eye when I was first directed to this novella; it sounded like just what I wanted at the time - a creepy tale, something to pull me in and keep me entertained. In this case, it was of a frightening Greek deity stalking her victim through phone selfies (of all things, but why not?), perhaps even escalating to increasingly terrifying events, or at least that's what I expected. I was optimistic, very much so, however the execution proved less than thrilling and failed to induce the desired effects; irritation rather than fear, boredom rather than interest. I'm being brutally honest here, in that I didn't consider it a finished work, but rather a draft piece that could've been largely improved upon.

Indeed technology has become a very significant aspect of life, and I'm sure it'll continue to evolve and play a major role in everything we do, but due to the main characters obsessive and downright unhealthy attitude toward social media, I found it difficult to read her narrative. I even questioned; are the adolescents of today really like this, or is this merely an exaggeration? Do underage girls continuously post pictures of themselves for the attention of older men, and depend upon "likes" for their happiness?

It's sad, because I know the answer. All I have to do is take a look at Facebook, or some other similar website.

Mahi was such a dislikeable person. Utterly childish, painfully narcissistic and ridiculously naive, I didn't come to care for her at all. I'm all for teenagers as main protagonists, but when they're portrayed in such a way that makes me want to gouge my eyes out, then I know there's very little that can save the book in terms of my enjoyment. As for the few other characters (her two friends, mostly), they left little impression and ultimately added very little overall.

I feel that with some proper editing and development upon the storytelling, then perhaps this could've been a decent read. As it was, it lacked the build-up of tension and anything remotely eerie. The plot and ending could've been more fleshed out; the ending itself was abrupt and offered no closure. I can't say, even if I had of liked the story, that I would've been satisfied with the conclusion. No questions were answered (what did the phone have to do with anything?), and all in all, it was disappointing.

In conclusion: Like many indie works I read these days, it suffers from grammatical errors and has an unfinished feel to it. I deeply disliked the main character and I feel she had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It could've been improved greatly with a little TLC, but otherwise I consider this not my type of book.

© Red Lace 2016

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/05/22/erinyes-by-george-saoulidis-2016-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-05-19 21:32
Needful Things by Stephen King
Needful Things - Stephen King

Needful Things by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There's a new store opening in Castle Rock, and the whole town has noticed its special green awning. Questions arise as to what it will sell, and whom exactly the proprietor is, but nobody ever expected the severity in discovering such simple things. Treasures that appear otherworldly in their perfection start to become prized possessions, soon enough causing disarray in the town's day to day activity. There's something too good to be true about Needful Things.

(WARNING: This reviews contains minor spoilers.)

Whilst it felt like this one took me far too long to finish, I really shouldn't forget that at nearly a thousand pages, it's one of the longest books I've picked up in years. Being a relatively slow reader in general, the weeks seemed to fly by as I continued to be in thrall of Leland Gaunt's brilliantly wicked schemes, thus it was approximately one month before I reached the end. I admit, such lengthy novels can be intimidating to me, whereupon I feel I'm not making much progress, but I found myself very much intrigued by King's use of development; rather than everything happening all at once, a considerable amount of time was taken to form an almost intimate relationship between character and reader. I do admit that despite this intention and my enjoyment for the majority of the time, my interest dropped now and again by a slight margin with all the backstory and slow trudge toward climax. There was just so much, and sometimes I had to place the book down and have a break.

I feel like in the past, I dismissed King's work as I considered it largely not my style, however, after several years of my tastes morphing and expanding, I believe I can finally appreciate his format of storytelling. He has a very precise way of writing, and it truthfully jarred me at first, but it really does work within the setting he creates. Of course, this is strictly a personal matter, but one I wanted to briefly touch upon.

The plot of this beast of a book deals a lot with obsession and greed over material objects - something we have all experienced in our lives. Materialism in general is a huge part of humanity, and Leland Gaunt was able to immensely exploit and amplify the deepest desire of each victim, going so far as to greatly influence their every paranoid little thought. He was a truly an excellent villain; one of the best as far as I'm concerned. He implemented himself into people's lives, and quickly became integral; as far as they were aware, he took their best interests at heart. It was his expertly woven manipulation, as well as his cool demeanour, that struck me as quite fascinating. Whether he was a demon, a dragon, or the devil himself, I won't soon forget how much he impressed me.

At times I found myself confused over the abundant cast of characters, but soon enough they all had their own particular and memorable differences. The two that drew me in the most, gaining my favouritism and attachment, was Polly and Alan. They were both painfully realistic in their emotional and physical ailments. I wished time and time again for them to survive the horrific events Gaunt set in motion, and most of all, for them to remain together. With so many diverse personalities, I experienced a range of reactions, from laughter to pity and much of everything in-between. You see, there's definite comedic value with such a man as Buster, and a sense of tragedy with someone like Brian - all in all King was able to bring their unique situations to life.

In conclusion - I'm glad I plucked up the courage to read this. I'd describe it as a slow burn, leading to an explosive finale. The evil mastermind behind the whole thing, Leland Gaunt, had to be the highlight; at first subtle in his transgressions, but then going all out on the poor citizens of Castle Rock.

Notable Scene:

The two women lay draped over each other like lovers, their blood painting the cinnamon-colored leaves in the gutter.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/05/19/needful-things-by-stephen-king
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-24 17:57
The Tracker by John Hunt
The Tracker - John Hunt

The Tracker by John Hunt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Taylor's life is in ruins; his face publicly known for crimes so bloody and awful. He does the only thing that could possibly help him in the situation - he walks through the door of a police station and turns himself in. With no resistance and full compliance, Taylor recounts the most horrific time of his life, where a monster haunts his every step - a brutal game, where fear is in full effect.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

This book certainly doesn't mess around; it plunges you neck-deep into the chaotic life of Taylor, a suspected murderer whom swears innocence despite the evidence against him. I found myself instantly drawn in to his situation where I, too, questioned his very sanity, whilst also sympathising with him on some level. Hunt's intention was quite clear from early on - a fast-paced, thrilling concoction, meant to keep you on your toes. The one thing that really impressed me was the twists and turns that genuinely shocked me - all too often I foresee a typical plot direction and it ruins what's supposed to be surprising, but Hunt was able to expertly weave the unexpected and force me to reanalyse what I thought I already knew. I can't give enough credit to tales that make you pause and think; authors can certainly mess with their readers and bring the unpredictable.

At no point did boredom raise its pesky head; too much was happening. What started off as Taylor's recount of his last forty-eight hours of forcibly taking part in a game of hide and seek, turned into a grisly manhunt of murder and mayhem. The aspect of "The Tracker" and how he was able to influence his victim was an interesting one. He didn't seem to have any intention other than to toy with his prey and use their own suppressed hate against them. I really wish more information was offered regarding him, and if he had any other motive than just chaos.

Taylor and Owen, on the other hand, had a brief connection that stood out for me. It might have been highly impersonal for Owen, but for Taylor it was an examination of his life. I felt for him, for the struggle he had endured. Relating to him in a way, I hoped everything would have worked out, but I knew it was ultimately doomed.

Despite my high praise of certain aspects - that being the story itself, I found the writing to be terribly messy at times and it subsequently distracted me more than once. This is more to do with sentence structure and, of course, my own personal taste. I'll however give an example of exactly what I mean:

Owen realizing the paramedic wasn't only mad because he had walked in to find an unconscious man still cuffed to a steel table, he was thinking while flashing his beady accusatory eyes that Owen had something to do with it, had maybe even injured him and Owen tired and grumpy, opened his mouth to say something he'd immediately regret when Earl cut in and said...



I admit, I had to re-read this confusing pile of words about five times, and even then I had a hard time of discerning it. What should have been at least two sentences, were fused together to create something that just didn't work inside my head. Throughout the entire book, the quality reached both highs as well as lows, giving the impression that certain parts were rushed, whilst others more thought through. I believe it could have benefited from more editing to tighten it up, and thus make it overall easier to read.

In conclusion: A good story that kept me guessing, however the format of writing brought its cleverness down. I would consider it unfinished, and in need of further editing.

Notable Scene:

He needed time to process and speak with the other officers monitoring the interview to strategize how best to confront Taylor. Because no matter how much Taylor believed what he had said, it wasn’t true. It couldn’t be. Shadow men do not hunt people through the city. There were no shadow men.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/22/the-tracker-by-john-hunt
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-15 09:52
Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge (2017 Review)
Look Behind You - Sibel Hodge

Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Waking up and surrounded by an eerie darkness, Chloe Benson soon discovers she's trapped underground in what appears to be someone's tomb. Desperate to avoid the same fate as the skeleton in her midst, she musters all the strength she can to escape, however emerging back into her ordinary life proves to be just as dangerous. Someone wants her dead, yet due to issues with her memory, she just can't recall who.

(WARNING: this review contains minor spoilers.)

I finished this book last year, October (2016) to be specific, and didn't feel overly eager to voice my thoughts upon its completion, so suffice it to say; it's been a long time coming in that regard. You might wonder how I could possibly still remember the finer details, and indeed; my memory's not exactly fresh, however I can still recall what irked and disappointed me, as well as what stemmed the little amount of enjoyment. That being said, I had wanted to read something a little different than my usual flavours, and this one was ready and waiting in my library. What did I expect? Well, a mystery, of course - something that kept me guessing, kept the wheels of my mind turning. It was unfortunate that it promptly fell short, and the conundrum didn't require much thought at all; the identity of the "villain" was clear pretty much immediately. There were several moments I questioned; "Could it be this obvious?" and lo and behold, it was exactly that.

Admittedly though, the beginning drew me in, and I sincerely believed the rest would've thus followed its strong onset. A woman, trapped underground in complete darkness; the narrative truly expressed her helplessness and her will to survive. From there, it morphed into something not-so-thrilling, and it felt much like a long wait for it (or rather, Chloe) to reach the conclusion I already knew was coming. Thankfully the book wasn't that long, so I was able to force myself through the boredom without it becoming too much of a chore.

The character of Chloe was rather unmemorable, as despite how hard I try, I can't say much about her. I always like to take the time to analyse the main protagonist, but the sheer lack of impression was even worse than disliking her, because at least then she would've made me feel something. The same goes for the rest of them - the domineering husband, the too-perfect other man; none of them had much personality, besides being convenient to the plot. One thing that I did find outrageous however, was the general attitudes of the authorities. Both the police and hospital staff were unrealistic, in that they were outright rude to a patient they believed to be mentally ill. At least in the real word, such cold treatment has the possibility to distress the patient further, thus I highly doubt the "shut up, you're crazy" tactic is actually applied.

In conclusion: Have I mentioned how utterly apparent the "twist" was? Well, I'm saying it again - a mystery should have mystery. It should keep you guessing until the truth's finally unveiled. This was largely a disappointing read for me.

Notable Quote:

Why does anyone stay in a relationship that deep down they know isn’t right? You don’t know why until it happens to you. It’s easy to fool yourself. To stuff things under the surface where they can’t hurt you. To persuade yourself it’s all just normal. Make excuses. There’s a fine line between craziness and love.

© Red Lace 2017


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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/15/look-behind-you-by-sibel-hodge-2017-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-11-13 13:11
Macht von David G. L. Weiss
Macht - David G. L. Weiss

Macht ist der der erste Soloroman von Weiss nach seiner Sina-Trilogie, die zusammen mit Gerd Schilddorfer verfasst war. Und ich muss zugeben, begeistert bin ich von diesem Buch nicht.

 

Josephine Mahler, Anthropologie-Professorin in Frankfurt, kehrt nach Jahren zurück in ihre Heimat Wien, allerdings für einen traurigen Anlass: Ihr Schulfreund Gabriel, ein evangelischer Pfarrer, und seine Frau wurden ermordet. Kurz zuvor wurde sie von Gabriel kontaktiert, der sie nach Symbolen fragte und Wahrnehmungen preis gab, die Josephine zu dem Zeitpunkt ins Reich der Paranoia abgetan hatte. Die Suche nach der Wahrheit zwingt sie nun, ihre Vergangenheit, die unaufgearbeitete Beziehung zu Gernot Szombathi, ihrer Jugendliebe, zu konfrontieren genauso wie die Grundfesten ihres Weltbildes. All das allerdings unter dem Damoklesschwert, dass die, die Gabriel auf dem Gewissen haben, es auch auf seine autistische Tochter Lilly abgesehen haben, die seit jener Nacht seltsame Symbole zeichnet und auch Zeugin der Ereignisse war.

 

In weiten Strecken wirkt dieser Roman eher wie ein müder Abklatsch der Sina-Triologie, v.a. dessen 1. Teils, "Ewig". Spann 2 alte Freunde zusammen, die sich aus den Augen verloren haben, und schick sie auf Schnitzeljagd. Führ noch ein paar Verschwörungstheorien ein, schüttle und fertig ist die Handlung. Nur ist das leider etwas wenig, denn die Charaktere bleiben glanzlos bis banal und die Handlung eigentlich unaufgeklärt. Irgendwie werden in einem Kapitel noch haarsträubende Theorien vom kollektiven Bewusstsein gefaselt, dann postuliert, dass der Massenschock von 9/11 das Magnetfeld der Erde kurzfristig geändert hätte... und dann ist es aus, obwohl sich die Protagonisten gerade noch in der Höhle des Löwen, dem Hauptquartier vom diesmal bemühten Geheimbund, befanden. Keine weitere Erklärung, wie sich die Situation in Wohlgefallen aufgelöst hat, im Gegenteil, denn im nächsten Kapitel fahren sie einfach heim. Und es bleibt ein Fragezeichen über Gernots Rolle in der ganzen Angelegenheit....

 

Zu den inhaltlichen Problemen kommt die gezwungen legere Sprache: Wie oft kann sich Gernot irgendwohin "fläzen", ohne dass einem das Wort zum Hals rauskommt (jetzt mal abgesehen davon, dass das ein deutscher Ausdruck ist, der in einem in Österreich spielenden Roman mit österreichischen Hauptcharakteren deplatziert wirkt)? Oder Udo (und alle anderen) kichern, ohne dass sie ein wenig verrückt rüberkommen? Zumindest ein gutes hat der Roman aber: die vielen Anspielungen auf zeitgenössische Filme und Kultur - so fand ich die Erwähnung von Star Trek: Into Darkness und Benedict Cumberbatch recht erheiternd...

 

Abgesehen davon aber bietet dieser Roman einfach zu wenig. Im Mittelteil zieht sich die Lektüre wie ein Strudelteig und wie schon erwähnt, das Ende ist praktisch nicht-existent. Dafür gibt es mit der genannten Situation um Gernot immerhin einen Cliffhanger. Aber ich glaube, dieser ist nicht wirklich stark genug, um mich dazuzubringen, die Fortsetzung "Recht" auch tatsächlich in die Hand zu nehmen...

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