Book Review: The Couple Next Door

A child is kidnapped and everything is not what it seems…Anne and Marco go to the next door neighbours for a party only when they return their daughter is gone. Everyone is a suspect and people aren’t what they appear to be. The Couple Next Door is a tense domestic thriller that you’ll rip through.

Good Points:

  • Everyone is explored as a suspect in the disappearance of Cora (the baby) motives are unravelled and explored
  • Fast paced and tight, this is a story that will suck you in
  • I loved the ending, I’m a big fan of things not being tied up into a happily ever after
  • Secrets are everywhere, primarily secres that feel like part of the real world, even if they are rich people problems,

Bad points:

  • The writing style wasn’t for me, it felt a little too reported
  • There are certain aspects that should have been explored further to give more credence to the ending
  • I would preferred more from my villans

This book would be definitely something I’d recommend for anyone looking for a smart and slick thriller that would carry you from the airport and a plane ride.

 

Book Review: The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

A man disappears on his honeymoon from hell and it seems like everyone’s got a motive, including his new wife…

To understand Jemma and her new husband we have to go back seven years to when Jemma was dating another man and looked to be heading towards another life.

Honeymoon is the first book I’ve read by Tina Seskis and I would describe it as a ‘light murder’ story although some of the twists are bone chillingly dark it’s enough to entertain and not have you think too hard at the end.

Good Points:

  • Short chapters
  • A solid and comprehensive timeline even though it did switch from past/present
  • Moments I would have never of guessed
  • A whole list of suspects
  • Complex female character
  • Beautiful, well-written luxury setting that makes everything feel a little more suffocating

Bad Points:

  • Split into three parts with an unexpected perspective change in the third act felt quite jarring, I would have either enjoyed multi-perspectives all the way through or not at all
  • Shocking twists are juxtaposed with chapters of wondering about
  • No real payoff for any of the characters

 

All in all Honeymoon is a beach read with bite but I wouldn’t go into it expecting Gone Girl…

Book Review: The Girl Before

Overview: The lives of two deeply complicated women run parrell through their move into a state of the art house in London. Emma and her boyfriend are needing a new start after a break-in changed everything and Jane is still reeling after a personal tragedy. Each woman believes that the stringent rules applied to living at One Folgate Street will fix their lives.

First impressions: This three hundred page domestic thriller follows each woman’s unfolding life in London. The style is short and snappy and makes for an easy read, with some eye-roll moments you need to go into this book looking to be entertained in a trashy sort of way and not delve too far into the characterisation that you’ll be golden

Good points:

  • Really strong start
  • The chapters are really short so it’s an easy read
  • The updated haunted house is a really interesting concept
  • The mirroring storylines between Jane and Emma become more compelling as they start to repeat

Bad points:

  • Jane’s story is told without speech marks, a style choice that I didn’t care for
  • Characterisation becomes more absurd over time
  • There’s a lot of disappointment towards the end

 

Book Review: ‘One of Us Is Lying’ Karen M. McManus

7/10: Come for the murder stay for the drama in this YA standalone that’ll have you racing to the finish.

A brain, a jock, a criminal, a princess and an omniscient narrator walk into detention only four of them walk out alive.

Simon, the creator of Bayview High’s premiere gossip app ‘About That’ had a list of enemies and a stack of secrets waiting to be published but the killer had to be in the room forcing these four completely different kids together to proving their innocence.

This twisted take on The Breakfast Club drags the tired stereotypes of the 80s into the modern day subverting our expectations of what we get from these characters.

One of Us Is Lying, is an insanely quick read that grips you from the start till the end but I wouldn’t say it’s strength or captivationness (that’s not a word I know) comes from finding out who the killer is or from Simon himself.

Instead One of Is Lying is a damn good high school drama, the change of narration between Bronwyn, Addy, Nate and Cooper show the intensity of the high school experience under the microscope of murder. True colours strip away the visage of their respective lives and in the end, it’s possible the truth could actually set you free.

I’d call this a summer read for ages 15-20, it’s unpretentious and easy to follow with a nostalgic high school feeling, One of is Lying reminds me of the finality feeling of your teen years.

 

 

Book Review: The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances

Laura’s life is seemingly perfect, fantastic job, a¬†great marriage and fantastic relationship with her son.

Cherry is dead set on getting what she wants, her new job as a trainee real estate agent in a glamorous area of London is just a stepping stone to the life she’s determined to get.

Their lives intersect when Daniel, Laura’s son starts a relationship with Cherry that gets heavy quickly. Laura sees a girl from outside their world getting her claws into her son and Cherry sees an overprotective mother refusing to cut the apron springs.
The Good-

-The characters in this book are amazing, you find yourself emphasizing with some quite frankly horrific situations

-Give me complex and terrible female protagonists and I am sold

-The plot twisted and turned to places that I didn’t see coming

-The writing was so sharp that cocktail parties had the same intensity as a fight scene

-The switch between characters supplied us with a whole different perspective on events as we begin to see who these women are.

The Bad-
-A lot of this book is about class divisions and London is the perfect setting to explore this dynamic. However there was something decidedly snobbish about the way Cherry’s mother was written and it wasn’t just through Cherry’s eyes, Cherry’s mother felt lacking compared to the richly drawn characters in Kensington.
-There were moments my interest lagged throughout the book
-I wasn’t a fan of the ending, it felt rushed compared to the bubbling intensity of the rest of the book

—–

After being in a reading slump for a couple of weeks, I managed to finish The Girlfriend in three days as the sharp and clean writing kept my attention on a ridiculously long train journey. If you’re a fan of Gone Girl and similar you should definitely pick this up…

Book Review: The Roanoke Girls

-Spoilers for the first 2 chapters of the book-

In a way all the signs were there, we joined Lane returning to a small Kansas town to find her cousin Allegra who has disappeared. We know that she had some sort of tumultuous summer living with her grandparents ten years ago.

It all starts off simply enough, Lane is facing her past after running away but we don’t know exactly why until Lane asks her grandfather if he’s still ‘fucking her.’

The Roanoke Girls starts with a sparse family tree and a quote from Lolita so it’s not like it was hidden but the incest but this did genuinely shock me and the casual attitude the book and the characters treated this issue did leave a bad taste in my mouth. I was expecting some sort of sordid family secret but the banality factor of it irked me a bit.

By revealing the Roanoke family secret so quickly was an interesting decision, as we shift between ‘now’ and ‘then’ we know more than the poor innocent Lane who’s come to live with her family after the death of her mother. Tension builds with the family secret being unpeeled layers as the book goes on.

Along with the family tensions we see the before and after of teenage relationships with Cooper and Tommy and how they are both ‘now’ and ‘then.’

In a way The Roanoke Girls is a coming of age novel and a story about when you don’t quite grow up.

At 240 pages The Roanoke Girls gripped me from the beginning to the end but after the initial reveal it didn’t shock me. If you’re interested in family dramas and stories about very damaged women then this is definitely the book for you…

 

Book Review: The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer

The Beautiful DeadThe Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overview-
‘He might kill her and she just might let him…”
Eve Singer’s career is based on death, as a crime reporter she’s always following the freshest body bag but her reporting attracts the attention of a ‘super-fan’ with macabre showcases he’s dying for Singer to show the world.

Personal-
This was my first Belinda Bauer book and I wasn’t particularly aware of her before this but I was pleasantly surprised by a strong multi-faceted main character and an unexpected take on the mystery genre and the switches in perspective kept my attention for the most part.

The Good-

-Gorgeously easy read that I completely flew through
-The events of the book felt grounded in reality whether it was unscrupulous journalism or a London underground platform it all felt like it could really be happening
– The deaths were so shocking and tense
-The addition of Singer’s dad and his struggle with Alzheimer’s was a really nice addition
-A really gripping look into the mind of a murderer all the way
-Some of the twists and turned had me gasping in shock

The Bad-
-The addition of Creed confused me a little bit (maybe I skipped over a little bit) but she felt like something that could have turned into something a bit different
-The ending switched around very quickly
-I would have loved to see more from the killer’s point of view

And finally…
If you’re looking for a traditional murder mystery then this might not be your sort of book I’d say a lot of the conflict is played out in between the ‘exhibitions’ as Eve grapples with her own ethics, family and work dynamics.

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Book Review: Get Your Shit Together by Sarah Knight

Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do (A No F*cks Given Guide)Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do by Sarah Knight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overview-
A self-help book for people that hate self-help books, get your shit together is a funny, realistic and at sometimes sad look at the ways you can move your life forward with a direct approach that helps you understand yourself and why you don’t have your shit together right now and practical ways you can get there.

Personal-
The UK version of Knight’s books have the prettiest covers so sometimes you walk past it not realising profanity in the title. But then you do and I had to buy it. I don’t have my shit together and for 10.99 price tag felt like a reasonable price to work out how to get it together.

The Good-

-Sarah Knight is a fucking funny woman who isn’t preaching enlightenment or promising you the world
-Get Your Shit Together offers practical advice in a direct and clear way for everything from health to wealth
-A couple of the points such as the power of negative thinking I’ve already incorporated into my life
-Knight’s personal anecdotal evidence of her own methods are genuinely inspiring
-The last half of the book was super helpful

The Bad-
-This book will probably appeal the most to American/UK women of middle-class backgrounds with enough disposable income to hire a professional as is often cited in the book
-Maybe because this was my first self-help book I didn’t feel like I related to some of the metaphors e.g. chipmunks

If you’re looking to get your shit together this is a great place to start/

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Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overview-
There are three Londons, one with no magic, one with just the right amount and one with far too much in the wrong hands. And then there’s Kell, the princely antari that can travel between all three when he accidentally smuggles the wrong thing to the wrong people he’s about to delve into something that magic might not be able to solve.

Personal-
It’s been a while since I’ve read a really good fantasy book as the concepts will usually be amazing but execution will be disappointing. However Darker Shade of Magic built on itself and it’s characters until it’s enriched and vibrant world although I think I would have preferred to go into this book without listening to all the hype. Also, I read this in the midst of a reading slump and I will probably reread when I’m in a better place and I will pick up the next two books.

Good-
-The world is so rich and beautifully painted it was an absolute joy diving into this book
-Things moved quickly and the action was really fun
-It was just ridiculously well written and enjoyable

Bad-
-There was a lot of preamble in the lead up to the ending
-I found a lot of the system of magic rather confusing especially next to the richness of the world

Overall I would recommend this book to young adults(16-24) and people who may not feel interested in the traditional YA genre

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Book Review: Saturday Requiem by Nicci French

Saturday Requiem (Frieda Klein, #6)Saturday Requiem by Nicci French

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overview:
Psychotherapist Frieda Klein is sent to assess mass-murderess Hannah Docherty as part of a wider case to ensure the case hasn’t been botched. She finds herself becoming connected to the case and realises it’s not as straight forward as everyone seems.

Personal:
I accidentally picked up Saturday Requiem by accident at my local bookstore without realising that I’d come in six books into the Frieda Klein series. But this book kept me informed and engaged right up until the last page and made me want to pick up the next book in the series.

The Good
-Super easy to get into, even without reading the first six book in the series I was caught up with current character arcs
-The characters felt realistic as we got into the little intricacies of the Docherty case
-Frieda is the perfect main character for a case like this, I’m not usually into detective novels so I really enjoyed her outsiders perspective and her personality
-Really interesting separate arc away from the Docherty case as well
-I read this book probably in three sittings

The Bad
– A lot of characters with similar personality type and situations (e.g. neighbours and relations) are introduced at the same time so sometimes I lost track of them.
-The same characters introduced in this book were completely dropped with no comment on what happened to them
-More than a few WTF moments

Overall:
I’d definitely recommend this book for someone who enjoys the mystery genre but I don’t think this series would be interesting for anyone who is a casual fan.

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