What I Read: January 2022

Mary Kubica: Local Woman Missing

Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.Now, 11 years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find….

You know that creepy feeling that you get when you walk alone through a parking garage late at night? That feeling where you have chills going up your spine? You just feel like something is going to happen? I felt like that this entire book! The book goes back and forth in between 3 different timelines and 4 POVs. I never had any problem following along or distinguishing between the characters. Mary Kubica has a way of giving the reader the perfect amounts of information to keep you on the edge of your seat and flipping through the pages as fast as possible. Or at least that’s what I experienced. There are many red herrings; however, you will NOT be able to figure this one out. It will shock you. In the end,all I can say is that the hype is real and totally justified for this book. If you read only one thriller this year, Local Woman Missing has to be the one!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

v.e. schwab: the invisible life of addie le rue

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man Henry Strauss in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

“Books, she has found, are a way to live a thousand lives or to find strength in a very long one.”

Oh wow, where to start with this one. I’m not usually one to read historical fiction or fantasy but this book was magical. The writing was absolute perfection, so gorgeous I could cry just thinking about it. I love the idea of reading about a character who is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets, it was fascinating and I just can’t imagine how lonely she is. I was pleasently surprised by how much more there was within the book beside Addie’s story. Especially the story about Henry Strauss – I think his character will stay with me for a long time. I felt for him even more than I felt for Addie. I think it’s because I could relate to him and everything about his fear of running out of time, his fear of missing out, how life seems to go without him… Overall, I couldn’t recommend this book enough! It definitely deserves all the hype. The story is so original and full of life lessons. This is definitely an all time favorite, I’m not going to be forgetting this story anytime soon.

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ashley winstead: in my dreams i hold a knife

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to southern, elite Duquette University. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent—not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year. Ten years ago, everything fell apart, including the dreams she worked for her whole life—and her relationship with the one person she wasn’t supposed to love. But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.

What a jaw dropping, page flipping, edge of your seat debut this was! I was invested in the story throughout even though I really didn’t like any of the characters. Most of the characters in this story are morally grey (even sociopathic). They all had some twisted motivations and dark things they are hiding. At one point or another I suspected pretty much everyone, so the ultimate revelation definitely came as a surprise to me. The character development and multi-layered plot were brilliant. Which made me more invested in the story. I thought the story was very clever and stylishly written and I enjoyed discovering all the dirty little secrets. I hope to read more books by Ashley Winstead in the future and I recommend this story to any reader who enjoys sinister college drama. I also think that this could be a great TV show!

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yaa gyasi: transcendent kingdom

Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her.But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief–a novel about faith, science, religion, love.

A very intense and honest book that tackles a lot of heavy topics like science vs. faith, mental illness, addiction and the different ways to handle your grief without having any kind of a support system to lean on. This was honest and authentic. It captured people and emotions incredibly well, and left me feeling like I knew exactly who our main character was and how she ended up where she did. What I didn’t like is that there is no time order within the chapters, it kind of jumps around. And even though I understand it’s written like this so we can see how her past affects her experiences and relationships as an adult, I would have preferred some order. Also it ends very abruptly, it left me wanting more.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

colleen hoover: november 9

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

This is a romance that actually shocked me! I loved the concept of them only meeting once a year for 5 years. I loved the confidence that Ben gave Fallon. Everything about it was absolutely adorable…until it wasn’t. I feel like I’ve already said too much because I don’t want to take away the experience from any future reader. The emotions in this novel were so raw, so real. I felt the love. I felt the heartbreak. I felt the regret. I felt everything. This is the CoHo that nearly every single person is hyping up. This was so original from start to finish. It was intriguing, unique and of course every chapter left me wanting more. November 9 is the kind of book you need to experience for yourself, so I’m not going to give anything else away, but make sure to read it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

riley sager: survive the night

Charlie Jordan is being driven across the country by a serial killer. Maybe.Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board, who also has a good reason for leaving university in the middle of term. On the road they share their stories, carefully avoiding the subject dominating the news – the Campus Killer, who’s tied up and stabbed three students in the span of a year, has just struck again.Travelling the lengthy journey between university and their final destination, Charlie begins to notice discrepancies in Josh’s story.As she begins to plan her escape from the man she is becoming certain is the killer, she starts to suspect that Josh knows exactly what she’s thinking. Meaning that she could very well end up as his next victim.

I read all the reviews before starting this book and I was thinking: nah, it can’t be that bad, it’s Riley Sager and I love his books…but I was wrong! Usually I can deal with a few naive and gullable characters because if they are very clever, books would finish very quickly but this was just too much. From the start I was just rolling my eyes. Imagine the most stupid female character ever! That’s Charlie! Who takes an overnight drive with complete stranger just after your friend has been murdered by a serial killer. Really?!Who would do that?! The twist saved the story for a bit even though the reasoning was beyond ridiculous! Despite that and the slow start, I raced through this book. Was this one of my favourite reads? Definitely not. Will I keep reading every Riley Sager book in the future? Definitely yes!

⭐⭐⭐

Nita prose: The Maid

Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by. Since Gran died a few months ago, Molly has been navigating life’s complexities all by herself. No matter—she throws herself with gusto into her work as a hotel maid. Her unique character, along with her obsessive love of cleaning and proper etiquette, make her an ideal fit for the job. But Molly’s orderly life is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect. She quickly finds herself caught in a web of deception, one she has no idea how to untangle. Fortunately for Molly, friends she never knew she had unite with her in a search for clues to what really happened to Mr. Black—but will they be able to find the real killer before it’s too late?

This was fun, quirky, heartwarming, and mysterious – if you are a fan of cosy mysteries this is the one for you. Although it is never specified, Molly is somewhere on the autism spectrum. She struggles with reading emotions and not saying exactly what comes into her mind. She is the kind of character you root for, stress about and feel protective over. Everything unique about this story was a definite highlight, and the writing was very easy. Now, I have to warn every die-hard mystery/crime reader that this is not some complex whodunit story with lots of twists and tension, it’s actually very simplistic and a bit slow. But it’s like that because of our perspective and the narrator which is Molly. I’m saying this because I expected something else due to all of the hype. But when I looked back at it, I decided to review it for what it is and not for what I expected it to be. I would recommend this to everyone who loves cosy mysteries. This is a great debut novel by Nita Prose and I would definitely read more from her.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: December 2021

Miranda Cowley Heller: The Paper Palace

It is a perfect July morning, and Elle, a fifty-year-old happily married mother of three, awakens at “The Paper Palace” — the family summer place which she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different: last night Elle and her oldest friend Jonas crept out the back door into the darkness and had sex with each other for the first time, all while their spouses chatted away inside. Now, over the next twenty-four hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her genuinely beloved husband, Peter and the life she always imagined she would have had with her childhood love, Jonas if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives.

I read so many rave reviews for this book and I had high expectations, but whilst well written I was left very confused about what the point of the story was. Hate is a strong word but…I came pretty close to hating this book. I ended up reading it pretty quickly because I was expecting something to happen but nothing did. I can’t even call this book a slow burn, it’s just a waste of time. All the jumping around between past and present with so many new characters introduced each time and none of them likable, made it very hard to follow the story. There is a cyclical pattern of sexual/emotional abuse in all the generations which could be a trigger warning as this is non-consensual and features children. Also it’s worth keeping in mind that this book features a lot of death and suicide and is not very uplifting. The story ends back in the present day and doesn’t really come to anything, there is no fallout for Elle’s actions and no feeling that anything happened in the book except that the reader is taken on a journey through the life of this character. The synopsis of the book was much more promising than the actual content. A real disapointment and the rating is mainly for the writing.

⭐⭐

catherine steadman: The disappearing act

Mia Eliot has traveled from London to LA for pilot season. This is her big chance to make it as an actor in Hollywood, and she is ready to do whatever it takes. At an audition, she meets Emily, and what starts as a simple favour takes a dark turn when Emily goes missing and Mia is the last person to see her. Then a woman turns up, claiming to be Emily, but she is nothing like Mia remembers. Why would someone pretend to be Emily? Starting to question her own sanity, she goes on a desperate and dangerous search for answers, knowing something is very, very wrong.In an industry where everything is about creating illusions, how do you know what is real? And how much would you risk to find out?

The thing I liked the most about this book is the showbiz setting! We’re given an interesting look behind the glamour of Hollywood and the dark characters that lurk there. I really enjoyed the atmospheric scenes situated at the Hollywood sign. This landmark and cultural icon has a dark history that I was not aware of until I read this story. This one is a real page turner with lots of strange and weird happenings, It was a fast and enjoyable read. Even though some suspension of disbelief was required to buy the whole premise, some of Mia’s actions and especially the final reveal, though despite this I found the story entertaining and intriguing until the end. I enjoyed the glamorous backdrops and the surreal depiction of the LA lifestyle, and the plot had enough twists and turns to keep me glued to the story.

⭐⭐⭐💫

colleen hoover: ugly love

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her. Never ask about the past. Don’t expect a future. They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

I’m starting to understand what the fuss is about CoHo books! I loved this book even though I also understand the mixed reviews. I’m not going to go deep into it because I don’t want to spoil it but Miles is a red flag, it’s clear from the beginning. But… I feel this type of relationship is very realistically portrayed. It gets ugly – just like the title of this implies. True, there is a lot of backstory and reasoning behind why everything plays out the way it does, but it is what it is… I do appreciate what CoHo does here though, by showing the downright ugly and painful parts of love. Overall, this story is page-turner and Colleen Hoover’s writing was brilliant as always! I can’t wait to read another of her books!

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christina lauren: in a holidaze

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions. But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy. The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.

This was just ok and exactly what you would expect from the blurb. I really needed something light over the Christmas period and this was just perfect. Overall, the plot was cute and kind of fun. But, I found the initial part of time travel where Mae kept reliving the same day kind of boring. I was so glad when the story moved on. My other issue with the book was that it had a lot of telling and not enough showing for my personal taste. Then there was the romance. We are told that Mae has been in love with her childhood friend, Andrew for the past decade. But I didn’t really see why. Their families only ever get together for Christmas and Fourth of July weekend, so when exactly did they fall in love? Where is the undeniable chemistry between the two? Especially from Andrew’s part, where are the signs that he’s ever had any feelings for Mae? I wanted more! More romance and tension and cuteness! But still, I liked it just enough. It was a fun and easy read, full of likable characters.

⭐⭐⭐

taylor adams: no exit

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers. Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate. Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her? There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one? Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

While I was reading this book I was thinking throughout: This should be a movie! So I did a little research and guess what?! A movie has been filmed and is coming out this year! I hope they don’t mess it up because…That tension and creepiness …I felt like I was holding my breath throughout this entire book. I really enjoyed the speed and pacing with which this was written. You start off with a bang and it doesn’t stop until the last sentence. What makes this story work is its lack of predictability, even when it felt like it was going down that path. I had no idea how it would all end, whether it would be satisfying or frustrating. It was brutal and cruel at times but consistent with the circumstances. Highly recommend!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: November 2021

Robinne Lee: The Idea of You

Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things. What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most.

Ok, I’m a bit late reviewing this book but better late than never, right? Because once in a while a book comes along that tells a story so compelling, so thought-provoking, so emotional and so exquisitely written that it leaves you speechless (or in my case, I couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks). To say I was blown away by EVERYTHING about this story would be an understatement. It literally checked off every single box and brought on the feels. So many feels! This is one of those stories that offers so much food for thought that one can’t simply review it and move on. Or maybe it’s just me. Thinking how even now in this day and age we still have double standards, how people will always have an opinion and how everyone is always so quick to judge you…And that ending…I don’t think I can express my opinion about it without giving it away so I’m going to stop here. Just pick up this book and enjoy the ride.

By the way, when I started reading it I didn’t know the main character was inspired by Harry Styles but it becomes obvious pretty quickly. If you don’t mind that, you will love this book!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Claire McGowan: I know you

When Rachel stumbles upon a body in the woods, she knows what she has to do: run. Get away. Do not be found at the scene. Last time, she didn’t know, and she ended up accused of murder. But when this victim is identified as her boyfriend’s estranged wife, Rachel realises she’s already the prime suspect. With mounting evidence against her, Rachel’s only hope is to keep the truth about herself well hidden. Because twenty years ago she was someone else—Casey, a young nanny trying to make it as an actress in Los Angeles. When the family she worked for were brutally murdered, all the evidence pointed to her and she went to prison. Back then, she narrowly escaped the death penalty and managed to free herself on appeal. Now she’s fighting to save the life she’s spent years piecing back together.

I admit that I KNOW YOU was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I loved the premise of a woman whose past secrets have come back to bite her, and Rachel’s backstory sounded awful. But even though I could relate to Casey, having been a nanny myself, both Rachel and Casey never got under my skin as much as I had hoped. Perhaps I have just been reading too many mysteries lately because a few days after finishing the book it had already become blurry in my memory. That being said, the mystery surrounding Casey’s conviction for murder at a young age kept me turning the pages to get all the answers. I just didn’t feel the same way about Rachel’s timeline and found her story a bit dull. Even though I didn’t love it as much I had expected, the premise was intriguing and the final reveal added a slight twist that I had not seen coming.

⭐⭐⭐💫

samantha downing: For your own good

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the esteemed Belmont Academy, home to the best and brightest. He says his wife couldn’t be more proud—though no one has seen her in a while. Teddy really can’t be bothered with the death of a school parent that’s looking more and more like murder or the student digging a little too deep into Teddy’s personal life. His main focus is on pushing these kids to their full academic potential. All he wants is for his colleagues—and the endlessly meddlesome parents—to stay out of his way. It’s really too bad that sometimes excellence can come at such a high cost.

I read so many thrillers and mysteries but this was something different. This is not your classic thriller, it’s more like a large-scale game of cat and mouse. Because of the multiple third-person perspectives, the reader knows most of the things, there aren’t any real twists or a whole lot to discover. Still, though, I found following all the characters, watching them getting closer to the answers, almost but not quite figure it out, walk straight into a deathtrap… quite exciting. Also, the blurb is a bit misleading because you would think this is a book about Teddy. But it’s not! There is a complex web of characters and relationships here, motives and ambitions all overlapping and warring with each other. I have to say it was a bit slow at the beginning and I was wondering where is this story going but somewhere halfway through it got sooo much better! If you are looking for depth, you aren’t going to get it from this book. What you will get is an entertaining and sinister read filled with dark minds and lots of twists and turns. Also, rumour has it that Robert Downey Jr has been cast as Teddy in the HBO adaptation! How exciting!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

sophie cousens: just Haven’t met you yet

Laura’s business trip to the Channel Islands isn’t exactly off to a great start. After unceremoniously dumping everything in her bag in front of the most attractive man she’s ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel only to realize she’s grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation? The irresistibly appealing contents of the case: a copy of her favorite book; piano music; and a rugged, heavy knit fisherman sweater only a Ryan Gosling lookalike could pull off. The owner of this suitcase is Laura’s dream man–she’s sure of it. Now, all she has to do is find him.

I really enjoyed This Time Next Year so I was very excited to read this new book by the same author. This story is sweet, funny, touching, charming, full of wonderful, likable characters, and has a surprising amount of emotional depth and the insight about love, loss and the tendency of people to put their hopes in things that may or may not always be as real. We get to learn about the geography and history of Jersey as Lauren gets a tour of the Island and finds the places where her mother and father fell in love. This really made me wish to visit it one day! This book is mostly about Laura, and her search for her own identity, and her own misconceptions about love and family so even though, yes, it’s a rom-com, I feel it could also be women’s fiction. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good slow-burn romance set in a gorgeous location.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

jane harper: the survivors

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home. Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

Another atmospheric thriller from Jane Harper, my 4th one. This time the story is set in the coastal town of Evelyn Bay in Tasmania. I’m not sure what to think about it so it’s very hard to write this review. I just felt it wasn’t as good as the previous ones. It started really slow, and it was hard to get into. Also, I did find the ending to be a bit abrupt in a ‘as if I blinked and it was over’ type feeling. It sufficiently explained everything, but after following the characters and their storyline for so many pages, I just wanted a little more to fully wrap everything up and satisfy my curiosity. That being said, I love how once again Harper managed to create this gripping and dark atmosphere. So many secrets and hidden agendas. When I finally got into it kept me guessing and questioning everything. It’s a slow burn of a story rather than a suspense-driven thriller with quite a few red herrings present as the tale unfolds. My theory on what happened was completely wrong as I discovered in the dramatic ending.

⭐⭐⭐💫

Colleen hoover: Regretting you

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike. Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body. With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

This book felt like I was reading 3 separate stories at once, yet they came together seamlessly. It was the story of a mother and teenage daughter and their changing relationship. The story of young love. And the story of a grieving woman navigating an adult relationship while looking for answers. I know this sounds weird but I promise you it’s not. Actually, it’s better not to read the blurb at all. This book is about grief, love, friendship, and family it took me on an emotional rollercoaster.  What really surprised me was how much I enjoyed the family aspect of this. I really love how CoHo romance, so I was worried the focus on the mother/daughter relationship would detract from that, but it doesn’t! Loved every page!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: October 2021

Claire Douglas: Couple at No. 9

When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body – two bodies, in fact. Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years. Nothing Saffy need worry herself over. Until the police launch a murder investigation and ask to speak to the cottage’s former owner – her grandmother, Rose. Rose is in a care home and Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police but it is clear she remembers something. As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched. What happened thirty years ago?Why did no one miss the victims? What part did her grandmother play? And is Saffy now in danger?

I loved this storyline – and all the characters within it. The author was able to keep the tension high, pulling some amazing and unexpected twists that I did not see coming. The story was told from multiple points of view, in different timelines and you might think that this would make it hard to follow but actually it wasn’t at all. It’s very well plotted, with the author managing to make all the characters stories fit so well. I loved the claustrophobic small village atmosphere and creepy woods behind the cottage. And even though the book starts off slowly as you read on the tension gradually builds towards the really unexpected but satisfying ending. I won’t say much more so that I don’t spoil it but it was a great read. You really can’t go wrong with Claire Douglas!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Richard osman: The Man who died twice

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life. As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus? But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

Even though this book could work as a standalone, I highly recommend reading The Thursday Murder Club before reading this, just to get acquainted with the characters. It’s a good cosy thriller with fun characters and a good plot. I must say, this book is way better than the first one, Osman has done a brilliant job filling in the gaps that he missed out in the first book as a murder mystery. Having been introduced to the club members in the first book it was easier to get into this one. Clever plot, fast paced with a touch of humour. I feel that I am really getting invested into these characters now so the third book promises to be even better. One thing I didn’t like is that it becomes a bit too repetitive in the middle and ending was a bit over the top. But overall this was a good cosy thriller!

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

sarah alderson: The stalker

Newly-weds Liam and Laura are spending their honeymoon in paradise: just the two of them on a remote island off the coast of Scotland. But they soon discover that all is not as it seems, and the island has a tragic past. And they can’t shake the feeling of being watched… When one morning, they wake to find a message scratched into the window, their worst fears are confirmed. They aren’t alone on the island. And this stranger wants them dead.

This book hooked me from the start and I couldn’t put it down. It was so creepy and twisty that I stopped reading it at night because it freaked me out.  Laura and Liam clearly haven’t read many books because they decide to go to a remote Scottish island for their honeymoon. They will be the only people there for a whole week with no way to contact the mainland. Did I mention that it is said the island is cursed? Such a great holiday destination, right? You could think that having only two characters at play during most part of the novel could turn a bit boring, but not at all! The island is incredibly atmospheric and it contributes to create a climate of unease that keeps building throughout the story until the big reveal. And the twist…So unexpected, so clever, a must read!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Alex north: Shadow friend

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat. Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home. It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago. It wasn’t just the murder. It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again…

I was actually very reluctant to write this review mainly because I loved Alex North’s previous book The Whisper Man and I expected the same level of thrills but this book just fell short. The first problem for me was that there were two timelines, the present and 25 years previous. Now this isn’t usually a problem but in this book there were just too many characters. I had to write all of them down so I could follow what was going on. Also the term “lucid dreams” was mentioned a lot, describing dreams and it became hard to tell whether I was reading fact, or a lucid dream that Paul was having now or in the past. It was very, very confusing and the story didn’t flow well for me. I’ve given it 3 stars for the idea because I think it’s very interesting but North’s writing just didn’t work for me.

⭐⭐⭐

sarah goodwin: stranded

Eight strangers.
One island.
A secret you’d kill to keep.When eight people arrive on the beautiful but remote Buidseach Island, they are ready for the challenge of a lifetime: to live alone for one year. Eighteen months later, a woman is found in an isolated fishing village. She’s desperate to explain what happened to her: how the group fractured and friends became enemies; how they did what they must to survive until the boat came to collect them; how things turned deadly when the boat didn’t come… But first Maddy must come to terms with the devastating secret that left them stranded, and her own role in the events that saw eight arrive and only three leave.

I think if you are a fan of reality TV shows like Survivor you’ll like this book. I was quite disappointed because I expected something else, maybe more mystery and crime, especially after seeing so many five star reviews, but I didn’t get that. Nothing happens in the first 50% of the book and I really wished there was more than one POV. While I never quite lost interest, Stranded seemed unnecessary long. It felt like we lived through every day of those eighteen months, repetitive task after repetitive task. The long descriptions of all of the survival activities were a bit much for me, as were the extremely unlikable other characters on the island. I was also hoping for a more exciting ending but it was just unbelievable. Overall, just ok.

⭐⭐⭐

jodie Chapman: another life

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick. She’s grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits. So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become. But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her. Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life

This book is just a rollercoaster of emotion, about life, loss and love. From the first few pages, I knew that this book was special. I am in fact struggling to find the right words to explain how this book made me feel. From the character development, relationships, twists, the plot, this story just completely captivated me and I could not stop thinking about it. The characters are so well written, believable and likeable. I found it refreshing that this love story did not spark between two perfect teens who lead unrealistic lives and never seem to slip up. Instead, Nick and Anna’s story is something a lot of us can relate to.

The book is written primarily through Nick’s perspective, which I found a refreshing change. Personally I’ve found similar books are usually written through a female’s point of view, so I enjoyed the male perspective. The life events that span the twenty plus years of the book make it feel like you’re really going through life with Nick; his memories, his ups and his downs and his life. I loved the inclusion of the never-sent emails from Anna and her poetry, it broke up the chapters nicely and allowed us to also see her perspective, even if only for a short time. This isn’t your typical love story. It is gut wrenching, sad, painful and honest. I cannot recommend this book enough!

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

What I Read: September 2021

Alice Feeney: Rock Paper Scissors

Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognise friends or family, or even his own wife.
Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts – paper, cotton, pottery, tin – and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

Told from a few POVs – Adam, Amelia, someone called Robin and from the letters that Adam’s wife writes to him every year for their anniversary – but doesn’t let him read, you will be immersed in this story as lies and secrets come to light. I love the atmosphere in this book, it was so creepy. Feeney portraits gloomy ambience which keeps the readers on the edge of their seat throughout the book. There’s a sense of unease and dread that doesn’t let up as the story progresses.. and what a story it is! I was hooked from the first page! I feel this book is best to read in one or two seatings because things can get very complicated otherwise. I had to go back few times to reread some parts. As an extra point, I haven’t seen those twists coming at all! Hands down, this is one of the best thrillers I have read this year.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bella Mackie: How to kill your family

When Grace Bernard discovers her absentee millionaire father has rejected her dying mother’s pleas for help, she vows revenge, and sets about to kill every member of his family. Readers have a front row seat as Grace picks off the family one by one – and the result is as and gruesome as it is entertaining in this wickedly dark romp about class, family, love… and murder. But then Grace is imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit.

I think this book is unlike anything I’ve ever read before – a breath of fresh air, really. A book about a woman killing her family shouldn’t be fun, but it was! There were some brilliant and witty and funny parts but that being said, It’s also a little bit repetitive, following the same structure with different victims: observe, find weakness, concoct plan, carry it out. In a few situations it felt a bit too convenient, and some a bit far fetched. I think the ending saved it for me, the first twist is confusing and you think that’s the strangest end to how you thought it would plan out then hello second plot twist! Very well done.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Louise Candlish: The heights

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Shad Thames, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognise anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him. Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact. Because you’re the one who killed him.

The premise for this sounded so good to me, and the opening was exciting, reeling me in! But that was where my excitement faded.. This was a bit long and a slow moving book. I liked the setting, I could really visualise ‘The Heights’ building. I also liked the way the phobia Ellen had was described. High Place Phenomenon, a sudden urge to jump when in a high place, was written in a scary and dizzying way. But… the main character, Ellen, was so unlikeable. Usually I don’t mind it as much but she was just so irritating and even though you would expect to empathise with her because she’s grieving, she was so full of hate and prejudice that I really didn’t like reading her chapters. What saved it for me was the ending and the twists! But I still prefer her previous book The Other Passenger.

⭐⭐⭐💫

Paige toon: Someone I used to know

Then : At fifteen, George is the foster brother Leah never asked for. As the angry, troubled boy struggles to come to terms with his circumstances, Leah finds herself getting drawn closer to him. Theo’s wealthy family have mysteriously pulled him out of boarding school and he’s now enrolled at the local state school with Leah and George. When their worlds collide that summer, the three teenagers form a bond they believe will be unbreakable. But life doesn’t always go to plan…

Now : Shocking news brings Leah back to Yorkshire, baby daughter in tow. But Emilie’s father Theo isn’t with them, and George has unexpectedly returned. After half a lifetime, have they healed the scars of their pasts? Will coming back home set their hearts in a different direction?

This is the first book I’ve read by Paige Toon but is certainly it won’t be my last one. This book is much more than meets the eye. A pretty cover with so much depth. The story is told from the perspective of the kind and extremely likeable Leah. I was immediately drawn into her family, with their alpacas, bunnies and overflowing household of foster children. The ‘then’ story focuses around the care system which I found really interesting. Leah’s parents are probably the most selfless most heartwarming characters I have ever read about. I’m not going to say much about ‘now’ parts because I don’t want to spoil anything but honestly this is worth picking up as soon as possible. What I love most about this book is that behind the very pretty cover is a well researched, thought out story tackling tough topics balanced with light humour and heartwarming moments. Believe me, it’s like a warm hug.

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

holly jackson: as good as dead

Pip Fitz-Amobi is haunted by the way her last investigation ended. Soon she’ll be leaving for Cambridge University but then another case finds her . . . and this time it’s all about Pip. Pip is used to online death threats, but there’s one that catches her eye, someone who keeps asking: who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears? And it’s not just online. Pip has a stalker who knows where she lives. The police refuse to act and then Pip finds connections between her stalker and a local serial killer. The killer has been in prison for six years, but Pip suspects that the wrong man is behind bars. As the deadly game plays out, Pip realises that everything in Little Kilton is finally coming full circle. If Pip doesn’t find the answers, this time she will be the one who disappears . ..

Oh wow! When I got this book and saw it’s over 500 pages I thought it will take ages for me to read it but I finished it in 2 days! As Good as Dead is the final book in Holly Jackson’s a Good girls guide to murder trilogy and it was one stressful journey. I was NOT expecting the story to go in the direction it did.. but I loved it! I was hooked from the beginning and I literally loved every second of this book. I think this book was the darkest in the series and at times unsettling and creepy. But I loved how this really took everything that happened in the first two books together and wrapped everything up. A must read YA thriller series in my opinion. I would highly recommend it. All of the three books are unique and good. Talking about this particular one, the pacing was a bit messy at times. Way too many descriptions in some parts. The story dragged a little from time to time. But overall, it was mind blowing. Once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

colleen hoover: it ends with us

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up
— she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true. Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

Finally I’ve read the most hyped book ever and I’m telling you it’s definitely worth the hype. It Ends With Us is a such a strong, powerful, and emotional novel. I was thinking for a long time about what to write and how not to spoil it for everyone so I’m not going to examine the story because it’s best to go into it blind. I’m just going to say that this is not your classic romance book. I was totally engrossed in Lily’s story. I loved how there was a dual timeline through her diary, bringing past and present together. This book was everything! Thought provoking, sad, beautiful and hopeful – you won’t be able to put it down. After you finish reading this novel, please don’t forget to read the author’s notes in the last part of this book. Colleen Hoover is telling her personal experiences and opening up her heart there. I was thoroughly impressed with what she wrote.  For me this is one of the best romance books I’ve ever read and I can’t recommend it enough.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: August 2021

Lesley Kara: The Dare

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death.Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find traumatic memories and paranoia suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

The chapters flip between past and present, before the accident and after, so we learn a lot about Lizzie and Alice’s friendship and childhood. In my opinion, some of the scenarios throughout were a little bit far fetched but nonetheless it was an okay read but it didn’t wow me. It was slow to start with but the pace picked up later. Everything intertwined together nicely, the plot was intriguing but I wasn’t totally shocked or surprised by any of the twists. If you’re looking for a quick, nice and easy psychological thriller then this would be it.

3/5

adele Parks: both of you

Leigh Fletcher: happily married stepmum to two gorgeous boys goes missing on Monday. Her husband Mark says he knows nothing of her whereabouts. She simply went to work and just never came home. Their family is shattered. Kai Janssen: married to wealthy Dutch businessman, Daan, vanishes the same week. Kai left their luxurious penthouse and glamorous world without a backward glance. She seemingly evaporated into thin air. Daan is distraught. DC Clements knows that people disappear all the time – far too frequently. Most run away from things, some run towards, others are taken but find their way back. A sad few never return. These two women are from very different worlds, their disappearances are unlikely to be connected. And yet, at a gut level, the DC believes they are.How could these women walk away from their families, husbands and homes willingly? Clements is determined to unearth the truth, no matter how shocking and devastating it may be.

An intriguing concept that ultimately left me disappointed.  The storyline was unique and mentioning Covid and an imminent lockdown in March 2020 added to the tension but I found the first part of the story rather slow with a monologue that wasn’t needed in my opinion. However, it picked up from the halfway point which kept my interest until the book finished. I thought that with two women going missing under suspicious circumstances in the same week the police involvement was minimal which didn’t sit right with me at all. There weren’t many characters, the antagonist was quite obvious and there was no real surprise. And the ending…I really didn’t like the ending, it felt rushed and unfinished. What could have been a fast-paced thriller with plenty of excitement and anticipation just didn’t quite reach its full potential.

3/5

Shari Lapena: Not a happy family

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets–especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don’t come much richer than Fred and Sheila Mercer. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mercers are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated. Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings was a psychopath, you’d know.

This book reminded me a little bit of the movie Knives Out. Classic Whodunit! I literally sped read through this book. It’s phenomenal. Such a page turner! Every single one of the characters is awful and unlikable….but it works so well in this book. Lapena’s characters are fascinating and very flawed and by using multiple POVs, she gives her readers a view into the lives of the Mercer clan, exposing their emotional damage, secrets, greed, and plausible motives for being the murderer. I changed my mind about the killer so many times through the book because every single one of them had the reason and capability to kill to kill Fred and Sheila.

While this is a tense suspenseful read, it is also a character study in dysfunction, sibling rivalry, deceit, and conflict within families. The suspense continues right up until the very end when the murderer is revealed with a quiet but still impactful resolution. This is one of my favourite Lapena books to date. Well-crafted, highly suspenseful, and unputdownable, this is a must-read this summer for fans of the whodunnit!

5/5

Laura jane Williams: The Lucky escape

When the day finally comes for Annie to marry Alexander, the last thing she expects is to be left standing at the altar. She was so sure he was Mr Right. Now, she has no idea how she could have got it so wrong. After a chance meeting with Patrick, an old friend who reminds her of who she used to be, Annie takes a vow of her own: she’ll say yes to every opportunity that comes her way from now on. Would a spontaneous trip with Patrick be the way to mend Annie’s heart? She’s about to find out as she embarks on her honeymoon – with a man who’s not her husband… 

After reading the blurb thought I would have a sweet, entertaining romcom experience! But… I got a little disappointed! It wasn’t a bad read, it had so many positives including side characters, honeymoon premise, the chemistry between heroine and her old friend/ new potential love interest…but there were so many things that I didn’t like as well. Like Annie’s character. I found her a little disturbing and indecisive. The book started really slowly and it was hard to get into it. I was hoping to read the honeymoon part of the story a little sooner. But it took so many chapters to reach that juicy part and it ended shortly. I wanted it to last so much longer. Also I think the story would have become more interesting by switching to Patrick’s perspective as he was such a sweet character. I may be judging this too harshly, but I’ve just read so many fantastic reads lately that my expectations are high. A good romance, but ultimately it didn’t stand out. 

3/5

colleen Hoover: verity

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish. Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died. Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognises all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

This book was disturbing in a way that is hard to put in words. Verity is pitched as a thriller and a romantic suspense book but I would say: Verity is a mind-fuck! It’s disturbing, twisted, creepy, brutal. Verity is not an easy read but it was brilliant. Amazingly well written and unputdownable, Colleen will leave you questioning everything. I don’t want to say much more, it is best to go in blind and reading this book, it has so many twists and turns it will have you thinking about this book for days after with lots of questions. This is the first book I have read from Colleen Hoover, I understand she is normally a romance writer, and this book is a psychological thriller, there is some romance but its sick and twisted… Just thought I would mention it if you don’t like romance books….. its ok, this book is not warm and fluffy.

5/5

What I Read: July 2021

Clare Mackintosh: Hostage

Mina is trying to focus on her job as a flight attendant, not the problems of her five-year-old daughter back home, or the fissures in her marriage. But the plane has barely taken off when Mina receives a chilling note from an anonymous passenger, someone intent on ensuring the plane never reaches its destination. Someone who needs Mina’s assistance and who knows exactly how to make her comply. It’s twenty hours to landing. A lot can happen in twenty hours.

As soon as I read the premise of Hostage, I was excited! I thought the story of a flight attendant working a hijacked flight and having to choose whether to save the flight or her daughter was super interesting! The book is told through a few different perspectives. Primarily, we hear from Mina, the flight attendant on the plane, and her husband Adam, who is at home with their daughter. In addition to those POVs, we also have sporadic POVs from some of the passengers on the plane. We get to learn a little bit about why they are traveling and about their lives, which are about to be changed forever! It was so addictive, fast paced and tense, I couldn’t stop reading it! Maybe not for someone who is afraid of flying though.

And that ending…I loved the epilogue, I had to read it twice! Very clever! Hostage is everything you could possibly want from a psychological thriller and more! Highly recommended.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Taylor Jenkins Reid: Malibu Rising

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva. By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface

Ok, I can’t explain why I love this book because it’s not something I would choose to read usually but…I was hooked on this one. I think it’s the way the author writes because I loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo for the same reason. On its surface, there’s nothing immediately special about this story. It’s a tale of functional and dysfunctional relationships and families all wrapped up in the setting of a party, and it’s been done many times before. But Taylor Jenkins Reid infuses so much more into it. There’s something about her characters, her writing, and plot – it draws me in and keeps me hooked from beginning to end. The story bounces between the past – the beginnings of Mick and June’s relationship and their history, together and apart, and the present (1980’s), showing the current lives of their children and I loved both of them. I loved the setting, the surfing culture and the decades described.

The only thing I didn’t like was when we get to the actual party, there were too many side characters and it took a little bit away from the focus of the story. I’m not sure if we needed to know all of them. But overall, I really enjoyed this book, perfect summer , beach read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

Mark edwards: The hollows

With his marriage over and his career in freefall, journalist Tom decides to reconnect with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Frankie. Desperate to spend precious time together now that they live an ocean apart, he brings her to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort deep in the woods of Maine.From the outset there’s something a little eerie about the place—strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest—but when Tom meets true-crime podcasters David and Connie, he receives a chilling warning. Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can.

Another great book by Mark Edwards. This one had that 80’s horror movie vibe and some parts really gave me chills. The Hollows has it all, odd characters, strange happenings, paganism, mystery, local urban legends, creepy dark woods, layered with lashings of suspense. The book was slow to begin with but Edwards took his time to build on the atmosphere and introduce all the characters but I have to admit some parts didn’t really contribute to the story. That was my only complaint. I enjoyed the second half of the book, the tension ramps up, the plot becomes far more sinister, and the mood of the book darkens. This was an entertaining, creepy read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

Emma kennedy: the never-ending summer

Best friends Agnes and Bea decide to embark on one last adventure before their adult lives begin.For Agnes’s mother Florence, a fresh chapter is starting as her youngest flies the nest and her marriage settles into a new routine. But she can’t help feeling that something is missing. As Agnes travels to London and Florence follows her heart to Europe, both will discover a world of possibilities they never could have dreamed of. Because wherever you are in life, there is always time to finally become the person you were always meant to be.

What follows is the next five weeks as they unfold, moving between the perspectives of all the main players in the story, including Florence’s husband, William, at home in Oxford. Sadly none of it proved particularly interesting and I almost gave up half way through. I persisted because I read it gets better and to be fair it did a bit but not enough to like it. Although the book stretches to nearly 500 pages the story is underdeveloped and all three of the main characters lack depth. I found Bea and Agnes, who spoke and acted like fourteen-year-olds instead of the twenty-year-olds they actually are, the most difficult to invest in. I liked the idea of the novel, women empowerment, standing up for themselves and everything is set in the 70’s, which was a nice change but I’m afraid this was not my cup of tea.

⭐⭐💫

gillian mcallister: that night

One hot summers night in Italy, Joe and Cathy Plant receive a phone call that will change their lives forever. Their sister Frannie has killed a man, and she needs their help. They were always close, some might say too close, siblings who worked together, lived next door to each other And now they’ve buried a body together… But when they return to England, Frannie, Joe and Cathy become tangled in lies in they’ve been telling, to the police, to their friends, to each other…

This was one tense read. It was so well written that the tension was palpable. The book is heavily character driven and It is a slow starter but things start to pick up in the second part of the book. There are twists and turns, some of which I guessed. As the reader, you know that the siblings are not going to get away with the murder very early in the book but the author has done a great job of keeping you turning those pages to find out what goes wrong. That being said, something was missing for me. I can’t really say what because that would be a spoiler so I would leave it here. I am not sure whether I liked any of the characters particularly, all had their problems and were to some degree too self-absorbed .The explanations from childhood could have been better explained. This was the weak point of the book for me.  It was a easy read but only average for me

⭐⭐⭐💫

lisa jewell: the night she disappeared

2017: 19 year old Tallulah is going out on a date, leaving her baby with her mother, Kim.Kim watches her daughter leave and, as late evening turns into night, which turns into early morning, she waits for her return. And waits.The next morning, Kim phones Tallulah’s friends who tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a party at a house in the nearby woods called Dark Place. She never returns. 2018: Sophie is walking in the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started work as a head-teacher when she sees a note fixed to a tree.

‘DIG HERE’ . . .

I’m a big fan of Lisa Jewell and I’ve read most of her books so no surpise I loved this one as well! The story is told in three parts: Tallulah’s life prior to the disappearance and how she met Scarlett and other friends, the week of Tallulah’s disappearance, and 16 months later when the real clues begin to surface. Immediately, I was hooked. The story is well-written, evenly paced, has a wonderful setting and it’s atmospheric and creepy. And even though this is 500 pages long I finished it so quickly! I would call this a slow burn mystery, but never too slow so that I lost interest. It kept me guessing right until the end.

Overall, great writing, great plot, great characters…..another awesome thriller by this author and definitely one of the top 10 thrillers I’ve read this year!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What I Read: June 2021

C.L. Taylor: Her Last Holiday

Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?

So I really enjoyed the set up and how this book jumped back and forth to the past and present. The first part of the book was very good, I really liked it. But then I started having multiple issues with the story. There were too many characters, some of who were the same in the past and present but had different names which I found very confusing. Not to mention they were all pretty unlikeable. Also, not a big issue but I had a problem with the timing and the ages. I don’t know if it’s just me or if the characters were written that way, but I couldn’t see Jenna as 37 and Fran as 51. I did find the length a bit much and there were also some subplots going on that I could have done without. The ending really wasn’t for me. It felt a bit too convenient, far fetched and rushed. An ok read but nothing to be excited about.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

ashley Audrain: The Push

Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had. But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do. Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.

What a twisty story. A story about mothering, scars from the past and how the past can affect out present. Readers learn that Blythe comes from a dysfunctional family with a mother and grandmother who also had difficulties embracing motherhood. Flashbacks of these experiences appear throughout the entire book and raise the question: Is it possible to be a “good mother” if your own mother (and grandmother) were not positive role models? This psychological drama is written as a sort of letter from a woman to her ex-husband, in which she promises to tell her side of what turns out to be a very dark story. Each chapter is quick and shoots straight to the point, even when things get ugly.  This was a very unusual read for me, I’m not a mother and I don’t usually tend to choose books like this but this one was very interesting for me as it’s psychological. It really kept me on the edge of my seat. Also because I’m not a mother I wasn’t as upset with certain things in the book but I have to warn you, this book is not for everyone. At times it’s really uncomfortable, brutally honest, raw, emotional, chilling and dark. This book will stay with me for a very long time.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 💫

Laura dave: The Last thing he told me

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother. As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realises her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared. Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realise they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.

I discovered this book through Reese Witherspoon’s book club and I thought it was a thriller…But, this is definitely a domestic suspense, not a thriller, so expect this to focus on the relationships between the characters as they reveal their true selves, with a dash of mystery. Told in two timelines – one with brief flashbacks to the past, which gives us context and a fuller picture of Hannah and Owen’s life together, and the second is in the present when Hannah and Bailey are forced to work together to find out the truth about Owen. Hannah is smart and intuitive in how she deals with Bailey and their relationship was one of my favourite things about the story. Even though usually I’m not a big fan of domestic thrillers, this one kept me hooked. Can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the ending though but I guess it’s the only logical option. Recommended for those who love character-driven domestic mysteries that are still strong on plot. If you enjoy smartly written, strong, intelligent women protagonists, you will love Hannah.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐💫

alex michaelides: The maidens

Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens. Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.  Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships.

It did take me a while to warm to this story at first. I think it’s because I found its initial buildup to be a little slow. There was a fair amount of background information to introduce, and also a lot of references to Greek mythology and psychotherapy, which I’m not super familiar with. Also, you will have to suspend your need for a believable, realistic investigation, as Mariana does things in ways that would never fly in real life. But once it got going, the pacing tightened up and I was hooked, all the way until the very end. Now, to everyone who loved The Silent Patient, the author’s previous book, be warned this is not The Silent Patient 2.0 and it’s much more a slow burn. But the book is filled with red herrings and it’s written very well. I loved the short chapters and atmospheric Cambridge. As for the ending, I suspected part of it at one point or another, but was genuinely surprised by another aspect of it. That was a treat! There is also a brief tie-in to The Silent Patient that I thought was really clever.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

megan goldin: the escape room

In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style―but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost. Invited to participate in an escape room challenge as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high-rise building, eager to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival. Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free. But as the game begins to reveal the team’s darkest secrets, they realise there’s a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder. As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?

I picked up this book just because I read Goldin’s The Night Swim and I loved it so much. This book was completely different. The book alternates chapters with these four, stuck in an elevator, and with the narration of Sara Hall, one of their co-workers from years ago, who died sometime in the past. During the chapters concerning the people in the elevator, we get to know a lot about each of the people who are trapped. I did not care about though because it was basically massive amounts of information on each person’s past that did nothing to make us care for them or understand what made them such horrible people. I have to admit I skipped through some pages. I loved Sara chapters though and if it wasn’t for that my rating would have been lower. The writing at many times seemed repetitive with lots of side stories that were introduced but never really completed. The ending was very good but you really have to suspend all believability here.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

sarah alderson: in her eyes

Ava’s life is the kind other people envy: loving husband; great kids; beautiful house. Until the night that a violent home invasion plunges her world into chaos. In the aftermath of the attack, Ava needs answers to two questions. Who has targeted her family? And why? But things aren’t adding up. She is starting to suspect that someone knows more than they are letting on. That everything she thought she knew about the people closest to her was a lie. Ava needs to know what happened that night. And to do that she must decide who she can really trust. Because she’s about to discover that her family is in more danger than she ever imagined…

This is a fast paced book full of twists and turns. The story is good but…The start had so much promise – I was hooked by the burglary and the secrets that start pouring out from Ava’s life. But toward the end of the book, things took too many unrealistic turns. I wanted a better explanation and for the events to make some sort of sense. But unfortunately, I didn’t get that. Also, I really don’t like overly naive female characters. Ava started to annoy me so much as the book progressed. Overall, an easy read and even though it was a little bit far fetched I still found it enjoyable.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

What I Read: May 2021

Beth O’Leary: The Road Trip

Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in the north of Scotland.But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, Dylan, who she’s avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier. Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they’ve totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with three hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship…Will they make it to the wedding on time? And, more importantly… is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?

This book is so much more than just a road trip and two exes discovering they are still in love with one other. It’s unlike the author’s previous two books. While The Flatshare and The Switch were warm, feel-good books, this one, even though still funny was very serious at times. The Road Trip is way more intense and complex than her previous books as the author is talking about sexual assault, depression, alcoholism…The story is told in a dual timeline. One is the present when they are on the road trip, and the other is in the past that starts with their first meeting leading up to the breakup. I have to admit, The Road Trip didn’t hook me from the beginning but as the story progressed it just kept getting better and better and I was intrigued to find out the reason of their break up. If you like Beth O’Leary’s books, you’ll surely love this one.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

B.P. Walter: The Dinner guest

Four people were at dinner that night.  Charlie and his husband, Matthew. Their son, Titus
And, their new acquaintance and newest book club member, Rachel.Charlie never wanted her to be invited. But, Matthew won’t survive and as Charlie stands over the body, while Titus sits in shock at the dinner table, Rachel with the bloody knife in her hand, dials 999.

This book started off so well, I was intrigued and was guessing who did what but, halfway through it started to become very slow and a bit boring. Information is fed to you in miniature pieces of bread crumbs. The crumbs were so small I felt I was starving to death. In alternating POVs from Charlie and Rachel, the story unfolds and we learn about everyone’s secrets/dark pasts. The one thing I really liked about it was that it is a portrait of an unconventional gay family. Not a bad read, I just sort of lost interest by the time the big reveal came about towards the end.

⭐️⭐️💫

alex Finlay: Every Last Fear

University student Matt Pine has just received devastating news. Nearly his entire family have been found dead while holidaying in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI aren’t convinced – and they won’t tell Matt why.The tragedy thrusts his family into the media spotlight again. Seven years ago, Matt’s older brother, Danny, was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his teenage girlfriend. Danny has always sworn he was innocent, and last year, a true crime documentary that claimed he was wrongfully convicted went viral.Now his family’s murder is overlapping with Danny’s case, Matt is determined to uncover the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison. Even if it means putting his own life in danger, and confronting his every last fear.

Once in a while a book like this comes along, to remind me why I really love to read thrillers. The characters are very well developed, the plot kept going and intensified with every chapter. I just couldn’t stop reading it. This novel is told through multiple points of view. We are introduced first to Matt. He is a student at NYU and a FBI agent Sarah Keller who delivers the sad news to him. The other points of view include transcripts from the documentary which was made about Danny called “A Violent Nature” and family members, Evan, Maggie and Olivia “Before”, so we know their thoughts before their deaths in Mexico. It’s a complex read and you have to think all the way through it. There are mysteries within mysteries and lies within lies. There were a few things that I figured out, but not the main reveal. This book has EVERYTHING I require in a thriller and I highly recommend it.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Cara Hunter: The whole truth(Di Fawley #5)

When an Oxford student accuses one of the university’s professors of sexual assault, DI Adam Fawley’s team think they’ve heard it all before. But they couldn’t be more wrong.Because this time, the predator is a woman and the shining star of the department, and the student a six-foot male rugby player.Soon DI Fawley and his team are up against the clock to figure out the truth. What they don’t realise is that someone is watching.

I have now completed the whole series! At least until another one comes out. It’s not a secret I’m a big fan of Cara Hunter and that I rated every single book with 5 stars but unfortunately this one won’t be. The blurb threw me off completely as I felt like the sexual assault storyline was more of a sub-plot and that was the reason I had to take one star away. The story is actually more focused on DI Fawley and his partner Alex and it was very interesting, twisty and gripping. So when that storyline was introduced I didn’t really care about initial case of sexual assault and I found my self skim reading those parts. I feel the book would be even better if they only focused on DI Fawley but nonetheless this was still a great read! This book would be a bit harder to read if you haven’t read the previous ones so I highly recommend reading the whole series because it’s one of the best in the genre.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

b.a. Paris: The Therapist

When Alice and Leo move into a newly renovated house in The Circle, a gated community of exclusive houses, it is everything they’ve dreamed of. But appearances can be deceptive…As Alice is getting to know her neighbours, she discovers a devastating secret about her new home, and begins to feel a strong connection with Nina, the therapist who lived there before.Alice becomes obsessed with trying to piece together what happened two years before. But no one wants to talk about it. Her neighbors are keeping secrets and things are not as perfect as they seem…

So this book had so much potential, but I kept getting distracted by stupidity and naivety of the main character. Going around the gated community, investigating a murder that could’ve only been committed by someone in that community, staying alone in the house even though she’s upset and scared that she lives in this house…it just doesn’t make any sense! However, it’s a very easy read, the pages flip quickly and it’s ok if you don’t mind a protagonist. The last 30% was good, that’s where things started happening. And I didn’t guess who the murderer was so that’s a plus. Overall, an okay read.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Lizzy dent: The summer job

Birdy has made a mistake. Everyone imagines running away from their life at some point. But Birdy has actually done it. And the life she’s run into is her best friend Heather’s. The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather.The summer job at the highland Scottish hotel that her world class wine-expert friend ditched turns out to be a lot more than Birdy bargained for. Can she survive a summer pretending to be her best friend? And can Birdy stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked, but who thinks she’s someone else?

I loved Birdy and her sense of humour, as well as the chemistry between her and James. It was very much an opposites attract storyline and their scenes together were my favorite.Even though it is classed as a rom com, truly this is a story of acceptance and a journey of finding yourself. I really enjoyed the setting, very laid back, and it made me want to visit Scotland. However, I did struggle with the pace and repetitiveness. Especially in the lighter, more comedic, parts of the book. I found myself constantly cringing at the way Birdy handled a lot of situations. This is marketed as the next The Flatshare — but I don’t think so. It isn’t as funny or lively but it does tell a good story. I also wish this was edited to a shorter length — which definitely would’ve made it a quicker read — because some scenes did not contribute to the plot or character development. Also, for someone who doesn’t drink wine and doesn’t know anything about it, it was a bit difficult to like parts of the book with lots of wine talk but that’s my own fault I guess, nothing to do with the book. Its a great book for when you want to decompress and chill out without thinking too much.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

What I Read: April 2021

Jeanine Cummings: American Dirt

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same. Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

I had wanted to read this book for so long but before I started I discovered that it had received a lot of criticism. I’m not going to go into the full details, and you can find out more online if you are interested but one of the issues raised was the fact the author is white and has never lived in Mexico. As this is a fiction book that raised a serious issue, I decided to ignore that, finish the book and review it for what it was – a fiction book. In spite of everything said about the novel, I found it to be captivating, informative, suspenseful, heartbreaking and hard to put down . It’s 400 pages long and I read it in two days. All the criticism didn’t lower the importance or relevance of the story, at least not for me. If nothing else, hopefully it will start conversations and awareness about the issue of immigration. The only criticism I have is that it was a bit slow after the initial shocking start. Otherwise, I would recommend everyone to read this book.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

t.m. logan: Trust me

Ellen was just trying to help a stranger. That was how it started: giving a few minutes respite to a flustered young mother sitting opposite her on the train. A few minutes holding her baby while the mother makes an urgent call. The weight of the child in her arms making Ellen’s heart ache for what she can never have.
Five minutes pass. Ten. The train pulls into a station and Ellen is stunned to see the mother hurrying away down the platform, without looking back. Leaving her baby behind. Ellen is about to raise the alarm when she discovers a note in the baby’s bag, three desperate lines scrawled hastily on a piece of paper:”Please protect Mia.Don’t trust the police.Don’t trust anyone.” Why would a mother abandon her child to a stranger? Ellen is about to discover that the baby in her arms might hold the key to an unspeakable crime. And doing the right thing might just cost her everything . . . 

After reading ‘The Holiday’ and ‘The Catch’ I was very excited to read this book and I wasn’t disappointed! There are many red herrings that change your opinion about who is behind all of this, as you really do not know who to trust. I couldn’t figure it out until very late! The only reason I didn’t give this book 5 stars is because at times it was a bit slow and I got frustrated because no one wanted to give ANY answers to Ellen but they kept showing up at her doors! But the short chapters made it easy to fly through and the style of writing made it easy to get hooked from the beginning without needing several chapters to get into the story. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read a thriller with a unique storyline and some interesting characters to follow!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

tim weaver: missing pieces

Rebekah is trapped on Crow Island and is 101 miles from the US mainland. Much of the island was destroyed by Hurricane Gloria in 1987 and has few facilities. How and why is she trapped? Meanwhile, soon to be retired Detective Frank Travis is searching for missing artist Louise Mason. How do these seemingly disparate stories connect?

Tim Weaver is one of my favourite authors. I have read most of his books from the David Raker series but this is his first standalone book and the first one set in America. Despite being 500 pages long it felt much shorter because I was hooked and I ended up finishing it in less than 48 hours! The story unfolds through dual timelines of ‘before’ and ‘now’ which fit seamlessly together. As with the author’s previous books, Missing Pieces is a perfectly paced read with an addictive mystery that keeps you fully engaged throughout. The tension-filled claustrophobic atmosphere is palpable as Rebekah searches for answers and struggles to survive on the island alone. At times you really have to suspend the disbelief but twists and turns compensate for that. I never came even close to guessing what was going on and who the villain was.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Lorraine Brown: Uncoupling

Hannah and Si are in love and on the same track – that is, until their train divides on the way to a wedding. The next morning, Hannah wakes up in Paris and realises that her boyfriend (and her ticket) are 300 miles away in Amsterdam!
But then Hannah meets Léo on the station platform, and he’s everything Si isn’t. Spending the day with him in Paris forces Hannah to question how well she really knows herself – and whether, sometimes, you need to go in the wrong direction to find everything you’ve been looking for… 

This book is a bit corny and predictable but honestly that’s why I read these type of books and this book is exactly what I needed -a little bit of escapism. I loved the detailed description of the beautiful Paris, it really transported me there. The characters are likeable and the story flows. Although this is billed as a romance I think it’s more of a love story to finding yourself and being who you want to be instead of fitting into some pre planned mould that society has laid out. I really enjoyed it, not just because I got to escape to Paris but because it is a charming, joyful, and uplifting story that has been well written and plotted.Recommended for anyone who loves Paris and a bit of romance!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

megan goldin: the Night swim

On her way to Neapolis, North Carolina; podcast host Rachel Krall, finds a note on the dashboard of her car pleading for help. The writer of the note, Hannah, believes her sister was murdered 25 years ago and needs Rachel’s help to identify the murderer(s). Rachel is wary of helping Hannah, but soon gets pulled in to her story as she leaves more and more letters for Rachel to read about what happened to her sister, Jenny. At the same time, Rachel begins attending the trial of a famous swimmer accused of raping a 16-year-old girl. The two cases converge, leading to a sickening and sad revelation. 

This book is not easy to read. The author spends a lot of time examining how a rape trial plays out in the courtroom. The rapes of two female characters are also shared. It is heavy, dark, and emotional to read but it’s also important to the story, one that gets into the heavy topic of rape culture and what that means for our generation versus previous ones. The chapters alternate between Hannah and Rachel’s point of view as well as episodes from the podcast. There are two mysteries in this book and the author blended their stories perfectly. The transitions between the past and present were flawless. Both stories were interesting, gut wrenching and intriguing. It was well-paced and I was hooked from the first page. I’m really hoping this will become a series.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

mike Gayle: all the lonely people

In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment. But Hubert Bird is lying.The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul. Until, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on. Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out. Along the way Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . . .

A story of community, loneliness and unlikely friendships. The book successfully swaps between present day and London in the 50’s to tell the story about Hubert Bird. It successfully tackled themes like racism and loss but focuses on loneliness . It was very emotional at times but also very uplifting and inspirational. The only thing I didn’t like is that it wasn’t really ‘unputdownable’, and not as gripping as I hoped. There were some twists through the book but essentially this was a story about the power of community. Lots of different emotions are experienced but overall there is a sense of joy in this thought-provoking, delightful and very captivating read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫