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!


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