What I Read: August 2020

D.S. Butler: House of Lies

During a week long study retreat at Chidlow House in Lincolnshire, one teacher falls from the roof in a suspected suicide or ‘accident’. A few days later two teenage girls, Cressida and Natasha go missing. Detective Karen Hart and the rest of the team are called to investigate. There they are faced with rumours that the old house is haunted as people, including Karen, can hear the sounds of whispering and dripping water. When they start speaking to everyone at the house they soon realise that several people might be keeping secrets. While they race against time to find the missing girls, Karen learns that not everything is as it seems.

Before I read this book, I had read the first book from this series “Bring Them Home” which I didn’t like so I was a bit reluctant to start this one. But… this one got me hooked from the first chapter! It really has everything that I love mystery, a creepy old house and a thrilling story that kept me guessing until the end! I suspected everyone at one point which is always a sign of a good thriller book. I took one star off just because at the times it could have been quicker.

This book is part of a series, but it can be read on its own. Even though I would suggest reading all of them if you are interested in DS Karen’s past and personal life as there is a bit of side story there. Overall, I would recommend this book, especially if you love British police dramas.

Thanks NetGalley and Amazon Publishing for advanced copy.

The book will be published on 29 September 2020.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Lisa Jewell: Invisible Girl

Owen Pick’s life is falling apart. In his thirties, a virgin, and living in his aunt’s spare bedroom, he has just been suspended from his job as a geography teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he denies. Searching for professional advice online, he is sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums, where he meets the charismatic, mysterious, and sinister Bryn.Across the street from Owen lives the Fours family, headed by mom Cate, a physiotherapist, and dad Roan, a child psychologist. But the Fours family have a bad feeling about their neighbor Owen. He’s a bit creepy and their teenaged daughter swears he followed her home from the train station one night.Meanwhile, young Saffyre Maddox spent three years as a patient of Roan Fours. Feeling abandoned when their therapy ends, she searches for other ways to maintain her connection with him, following him in the shadows and learning more than she wanted to know about Roan and his family. Then, on Valentine’s night, Saffyre Maddox disappears—and the last person to see her alive is Owen Pick.

Another dark, intense, creepy and twisty psychological thriller by Lisa Jewell. This was definitely one of those books that I did not want to put down because I wanted to know what was going to happen. The story is told through multiple POV’s (Cate, Owen and Saffyre) and that helps us to get into the minds of the characters and to keep the pace of the book moving . It was interesting reading the different points of view and then having all the stories come together to find out what happened in the end. The story itself tackles several difficult topics including sexual assault, the Incel community (which I was not at all familiar with prior to reading this book), and the various masks people wear in their everyday lives.  But…the most important thing about this book is that it’s not just a classic thriller, it’s thought provoking, explores subjects like trauma, revenge, mental health, injustice, redemption and makes you think about all the times you misjudged someone just because he/she doesn’t fit into a social norm. Lisa showed us how societal misfits, outcasts and ”weirdos”, because they behave a little different to others, are perceived as being dangerous despite showing no such negative tendencies while real life monsters are walking among us unnoticed. Just as you should never judge a book by its cover, you should never judge a person by how they look.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Claire McGowan: The Push

The party should have been perfect: six couples from the same baby group, six newborns, a luxurious house. But not everything has gone to plan. When someone falls from the balcony of the house, the secrets and conflicts within the group begin to spill out. DS Alison Hegarty, is called in to investigate. She’s convinced the fall was not an accident, and finds the new parents have a lot to hide. Wealthy Ed and Monica show off their newborn while their teenage daughter is kept under virtual house arrest. Hazel and Cathy conceived their longed-for baby via an anonymous sperm donor. Anita and Jeremy planned to adopt from America, but there’s no sign of the child. Kelly, whose violent boyfriend disrupted previous group sessions, came to the party even though she lost her baby. And then there’s Jax, who’s been experiencing strange incidents for months—almost like someone’s out to get her. It’s a nightmare of a case and only one thing is clear: they all have something to hide.

There are a lot of POV’s, from different couples and Alison, from past and present so it took some time for me to memorise each character.
The victim’s identity is revealed half way through the book, which was interesting and kept me hooked. And that was the only mystery for me. There were two other plot twists but I managed to guess these quite early on.
I feel this book is more about portraying different types of motherhood and actually shows the real side of pregnancy through different ages, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, relationship statuses, even fertility differences (DS Alison is struggling with infertility). Overall, a classic whodunnit story and even though it is predictable its still a thought provoking and enjoyable quick read.

Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley for sending me an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

The book will be published on 12 November 2020.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫


J.P. Delaney: Playing Nice

Pete Riley answers the door one morning and lets in a parent’s worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, a stranger who breaks the devastating news that Pete’s son, Theo, isn’t actually his son–he is the Lamberts’, switched at birth by an understaffed hospital while their real son was sent home with Miles and his wife, Lucy. For Pete, his partner Maddie, and the little boy they’ve been raising for the past two years, life will never be the same again. The two families, reeling from the shock, take comfort in shared good intentions, eagerly entwining their very different lives in the hope of becoming one unconventional modern family. But a plan to sue the hospital triggers an official investigation that unearths some disturbing questions about the night their children were switched. How much can they trust the other parents–or even each other? What secrets are hidden behind the Lamberts’ glossy front door? Stretched to the breaking point, Pete and Maddie discover they will each stop at nothing to keep their family safe.

This is a disturbing story so well written that I was angry and frustrated together with the characters. It also makes you feel as if this can happen in real life which makes it even more stressful. I’m not a parent so I can only imagine how this book can be for someone who is. To be honest, I was a bit bored of domestic thrillers and family dramas because they all seem very similar but this one was very different because it was also thought-provoking, emotional and tense. It also raises the question, nurture vs nature when it comes to raising the children. The characters are very well written and the suspense builds and builds creating a psychological nightmare. Another great book by J.P. Delaney!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Fredrik Backman: A Man Called Ove

At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots – neighbours who can’t reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d’etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents’ Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.But isn’t it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so? In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible.

A Man Called Ove is probably the loveliest and the most heart-warming story I’ve ever read. It’s a slow-burner, each chapter slowly describes Ove’s past and present. A series of comical and heart-warming events happen, which kept me laughing and smiling. Little by little, we are provided glimpses of Ove’s past, experiencing the love he has for his deceased wife and the events that shaped him into the man he became. Little did I know that after I finish this book I would end up crying for half an hour. This story highlights the power of living and the importance of human relationships and it’s a must read for everyone! I can’t believe it took me so long to read it but now I will make sure I spread the word.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Jo Spain: Dirty Little Secret

Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.There’s just one problem. Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight. The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

There are nine narrators – the six neighbours mentioned above, Olive, Frank and Emma. Seems like a lot, but every POV was easily recognisable, essential to the plot, and added a fresh perspective to the overall picture. Intricate relationship issues, hidden quirks, affairs, possible criminal activity all in the mix as we learn more and more about what goes on behind closed doors. It’s written in such an engaging way that I just couldn’t stop reading it because I really wanted to know what happened to Olive and what those families were hiding. The ending was unexpected so that’s another plus! I haven’t read any Jo Spain novels before, but I’m so happy I have discovered her books and will deffinitely read more.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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