What I Read: October 2020

Julie Clark: The Flight

Claire lives a privileged life being the wife of a high level politician from a very influential family. But her husband is a very different man behind closed doors and he makes sure all aspects of her life are rigidly controlled. Claire decides to leave him secretly and bumps into Eva at the airport, who is also trying to escape her life. They hatch a plan to change plane tickets, but Eva’s flight to Puerto Rico, the one Claire was supposed to be on, goes down. Now Claire has a better opportunity to disappear, by becoming Eva. But will her old life catch up with her?

The idea was interesting and in the beginning I was really hooked. I loved how Claire and Eva had completely different reasons for wanting to escape their lives and to change their identities. The chapters alternate between the two women, explaining their stories and how they got to this point. It was a quick and easy read but unfortunately the plot and pace dropped half way through. Nothing happened and I couldn’t connect with the characters at all. I expected more twists and thrills because of the way the story started but it became flat by the end. I wouldn’t even call this book a thriller, it would be better described as a drama with elements of suspense and mystery.


Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Mexican Gothic

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante but she’s also tough and smart and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom. Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

I don’t usually read horror books but I was intrigued by this one because of the hype. I thought it would be something like ‘Haunting of the Hill House’ and I love good ‘ghosts in the scary old mansion” type stories but this wasn’t anything like that. I loved the first part so much because it had everything I liked – an atmospheric old mansion, with a creepy family living there in the isolated Mexican countryside. But later on the story ended up turning into this weird supernatural fantasy horror, which was a bit disgusting and unbelievable as well. I wanted to be shocked and scared but I ended up rolling my eyes. I actually felt like the first 40% of the book was a completely different story because of the way the it changed later. I’m certain gothic fans will enjoy this book but it just wasn’t for me.


Gillian McAllister: How to Disappear

Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back.The only choice is to disappear. From their family, their friends, even from Lauren’s husband. No goodbyes. Just new names, new home, new lives. One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new. As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is much harder

I don’t know if it is because I read too many thriller/crime books or if something else played a part here but I have to say I really struggled with this. The story was very slow and very far-fetched. The reason they are trying to hunt the protagonists down is simply ridiculous! For me a good thriller has to be at least a little bit believable but this plot was just so unrealistic it hurt. On top of that, I didn’t love the characters, they kept making stupid decisions and I felt like a lots of the problems they got themselves into could have been avoided. Zara was so unlikable that I didn’t care what was going to happen to her and Lauren was just annoying, I couldn’t understand her actions at all! On the other hand this book is definitely something different in a world of police thrillers, it provides us with a different perspective on witness protection and I’ve never read anything like this before. It should also be said that the last part of the book got slightly better and is probably the reason why I gave it 3 stars instead of 2.


Michelle Campbell: A Stranger on the Beach

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

I picked up this book in the hope that I would get some thrills after all the previous “meh” books that I read this month and i’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed. It was so gripping and twisty that I ended up reading the whole book within 24 hours! The story is told from two perspectives, Caroline Stark and Aidan Callaghan but there’s one problem – their version of the same events are totally different and contradictory and I was left wandering who was telling the truth and who is possibly completely crazy up until the very end! Overall, this was a very quick, easy and suspenseful read that I highly recommend to all thriller lovers! I cannot wait to read more by Michele Campbell.


Fredrik Backman: Anxious People

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix up their own marriage. There’s a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world. Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next. 

Lets start this review with a quote from the book: “The whole thing is a complicated, unlikely story. Perhaps that’s because what we think stories are about often isn’t what they’re about at all. This for instance, might not actually be the story of a bank robbery, or an apartment viewing, or a hostage drama. Perhaps, it isn’t even a story of idiots. Perhaps this story is about a bridge.”

So yes, at first this seemed like a complicated story about nothing. I thought I wouldn’t like it because it was a bit weird in the beginning. There were too many characters, the story jumped back and forth…and even though it did have some interesting but also funny points that I liked, if I only read the first half of this book I wouldn’t really like it as much. However, as the story went on I started liking the characters and all of different pieces of the puzzle started coming together. I love the writing because it was a mixture of humour with life experience and whilst it’s very light it also discusses heavy topics. I found it to be thought provoking, heart-wrenching but also comical at times. It reminded me that everything I do can potentially impact others and how I must think before I act. It also reminded me how important human connections are, especially during this difficult year. Personally I would say that everyone should read this book.


Riley Sager: Home Before Dark

“What was it like? Living in that house?” Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a non-fiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon. Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself – a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

I’m so glad I left this book to read over Halloween because it couldn’t have been a better choice! I loved it even though it gave me the creeps! There was a haunted house, ghosts, snakes, thuds in the middle of the night, snakes, eerie music and… did I mention snakes? I loved the ‘Haunting of the Hill House’ vibe and I was glued to it even though reading it at night probably wasn’t the best idea! The book is told in present day chapters where Maggie goes back to Baneberry Hall which is interlaced with chapters from “The Book” that was written by Maggie’s father about the events that caused them to flee in the middle of the night. I couldn’t figure out whether this was a ghost story or a psychological thriller right until the end so I’m not going to spoil it and give too much away! This is the third book I’ve read by this author and is easily my favourite so far. Maybe even one of my favourite books of the year! The thing which I love about Sager’s books that they all have in common is the atmosphere. He easily captures the feeling of some of the best horror films I’ve ever watched. Highly recommend!

This book is shortlisted for the best thriller/mystery book by Goodreads and rumour has it that Sony Pictures pictures has picked it up for a potential movie/tv show!


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