Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier #BookReview

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Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They’re admired in their community and are a loving family—until their world falls apart the day their son Sebastian is taken.

A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding Sebastian, she learns that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman. This discovery sparks Marin back to life. She’s lost her son; she’s not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix.

Permanently.

amazon uk amazon com

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I loved reading Jar of Hearts, the first title by this author that I read back in 2018. Little Secrets was published in 2020 and I recently found out that Jennifer Hillier has a new novel on the way in 2022 called Things We Do In The Dark which sounds pretty amazing so I wanted to get up to speed before this new title arrives. This is mainly why I decided to read this as my next book pick.

I really enjoyed Little Secrets even if it has a very different feel and style compared to Jar of Hearts. After I finished reading it I can attest she’s still this brilliant writer who very well knows what she’s doing, luring everyone in like she did in Little Secrets and then captivating you with the small cast, only to circle back in the end to show how it all fits together.

Even if I was expecting something a little differently, with perhaps more high tension throughout the story, it did pull me in right away with the brutal abduction of Marin and Derek’s little boy Sebastian in the first pages. The adrenaline dies down quite abruptly then though with Marin attending a group counseling session where the author seemed to want to have the reader hear from missing children’s parents how they feel and struggle. The focus of the story shifts further towards Derek’s affair. The whole mystery and search for Sebastian seemed to be put on the backburner suddenly and isn’t talked about much anymore which felt a little strange as I expected it to be the main focus of the novel and what I really wanted to find out about, but soon enough I did get caught up in Marin’s knowledge about the affair of Derek and Kenzie Li and especially in what she was going to do about it. There was a moment that I felt I had read Marin’s resort of action before in another novel this year, but I was happy to find out that it only became more surprising and exciting from hereon. The author also gives Kenzie Li a voice in the story which I appreciated because she has her own story to tell and while I sometimes hated her, my sympathy for her grew as well at other times.

Hillier delivered a great psychological thriller with lots of drama and emotions. With not many pages left in the novel I suspected how it would all finally unravel but the anticipation was very high. Was Marin going to find her son and the person who took him? The author kept me well in suspense! I’m definitely putting her next novel on my wishlist!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Wreckage by Robin Morgan-Bentley #BookReview @TrapezeBooks @rmorganbentley

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One fatal crash. Two colliding worlds. Three wrecked lives.

School teacher Ben is driving on the motorway, on his usual commute to work.

A day like any other…

Except for one man who, in a final despairing act, jumps in front of Ben’s car, turning the teacher’s world upside down in a single horrifying instant…

Wracked with guilt and desperate to clear his conscience, he develops a friendship with Alice, the dead man’s wife, and her 7-year-old son Max.

But as he tries to escape the trauma of the wreckage, could he go too far in trying to make amends?

How would you cope, knowing you’d caused someone’s death?

amazon uk amazon com

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The Wreckage is a solid psychological thriller and a brilliant debut novel. In fact, The Wreckage didn’t feel like a debut novel at all and I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up sooner. Well actually I do know a little, see when I have read an author already I know in advance how much I’ll probably like it but with a new author the fear of the unknown sometimes works against me. I’m happy to confirm that it worked out really really well this time.

The writing was addictive and very easy to read. The novel opens with a horrific event for Ben when someone jumps in front of his car. It was raining so he certainly wasn’t driving fast and yet it happened in a few seconds. He feels very guilty and he visits the comatose man in the hospital where he meets his wife Alice and their son Max. It all feels genuinely nice and Ben is just concerned but then it starts to feel somewhat stalkerish. There are limits in wanting to make amends right? Well Ben didn’t seem to get the memo! I started to feel quite uncomfortable about the whole situation (which I mean in the bestest of ways) although Ben never actually does anything wrong. So he remembered Max’ birthday and he wants to buy him presents and he happens to be in the shop at the same time and find Max wandering around. He’s concerned that Alice doesn’t take care of him like she should then, it’s a normal reaction, right? Right? Hmm I don’t know but I wanted him far away from Alice and Max, yet he seems unstoppable to want to help them, to want to be in their lives.

The author includes a whopper of a twist in the final part of the novel. I did not expect this at all so I had to mull it over in my own head how believable it felt and if this made a difference and could make me change my opinion of Ben. The idea is indeed a little out there, yet I still embraced it because it worked so well in the story and honestly, I read this book about two weeks ago and it still plays on my mind now so the fact that it dumbfounded me is exactly why it is one of those memorable plotlines that will last in my mind for all eternity. I loved that the author misled me and did it so perfectly. I honestly also do love it when an author can make you see someone in another light all of a sudden. This happened here slightly but it’s not as if Ben suddenly turned into my favorite character either as too much water had passed under the bridge already. In the end I felt there were no winners at all. 

I love novels about obsession and the lengths people would go for the love of their lives. I thought I knew where this story was going too but I was wrong, which I loved! I can’t wait to read another of his novels and see what else he has in store.

The Wreckage is perfect for fans of His&Hers by Alice Feeney, or The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton.

I received a free (and signed!) paperback copy from the author as a winner of a giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

Christmas gift ideas for book lovers – edition 2021-2022

Christmas gift ideas for book lovers

Hohoho it’s time for Chris Rea and 10 new Christmas gift ideas. There are a few Etsy stores but also other online stores and prices range so I hope you’ll find something that interests you!

IDEA 1: The Book Lover’s Cup of Tea (Miniature Edition) (BookDepository, 8,50 €)

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The Book Lover’s Cup of Tea includes an innovative book-shaped tea infuser (titled A Tale of Two Ci-Teas) that offers two ways to brew: Dunk the entire book into your cup, or let the cover rest on the rim of your tea cup and hang the tea-filled pages into your hot water to steep.

I saw one of my blog friends receiving this as a gift so it went right on my list!

IDEA 2: Good Luck Black Cat Journal (Compoco, 20,00 €)

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You can choose whether you want the pages to be dotted or lined but both come with beautiful gold spredges.

There’s also a nice gift box set in a higher price range:

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IDEA 3: PUZZLES (for our US friends on Calendars.com, 17,99 USD and 19,99 USD)

The Escape Room concept in now available as a Ravensburger puzzle in Escape Cursed Greenhouse 368 Piece Puzzle (17,99 USD)

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Or what about a 1000 pieces mystery puzzle: Grounds for Murder or Murder On The Nile (19,99 USD)

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IDEA 4: Oscar Adjustable Table Lamp (Fourline Design, 58 € but possibly another 10% off when signing for a newsletter)

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You can also choose the plug type (UK, EU, US, AU).

I LOVE Oscar!

IDEA 5: One of us is Lying Miniature Book Necklace Keychain (New Leaf on Etsy (UK based), 12,50 £ or 15,95 €)

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You can even choose the US or UK cover!

They are made out of polymer clay, the sides are made to look like real pages and the covers are printed on high quality glossy photo paper. The covers are protected by an extra layer, this makes it water resistant and strong for daily ruff and tuff. The books do not open!

Or what about a Custom Miniature Book Keychain

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I actually thought oh that’s a nice book keychain, I didn’t even get at first that there wasn’t an actual cover yet, I’d be happy it looked that way 🙂

IDEA 6: Personalised Library Stamp (from the library of…) (Stamp by Me on Etsy (based in Spain), price varies from week to week)

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I already posted about this in another blogpost, you can read about it here.

IDEA 7: The Curious Correspondence Club (Single Chapter, 19,00 € or 21,95 USD)

Well, it’s kind of like an escape room adventure delivered to your home. Where each new envelope contains the next chapter of an ongoing episodic adventure, filled with cryptic puzzles to challenge you, your family and friends. Scour physical documents and ephemera, construct papercraft tools and devices, and immerse yourself in a unique deductive experience each month.

The Curious Correspondence Club is available as a monthly subscription, a twelve-chapter yearly subscription, or a single chapter purchase at your leisure.

It’s a Canadian based company but ships internationally. For a single chapter it is quite affordable and I have signed up for the first chapter so I’ll review that next year when it arrives and I’ve hopefully solved it.)

IDEA 8: Book Soap (NewLeafCandleCo on Etsy (US based), 12,02 €)

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You can choose color and scent (Library, Vanilla, Rose, Lavendar, Unscented or Peppermint). I have no idea what Library smells like!

Unfortunately they don’t ship to Belgium but I already know what I’d choose: a purple Vanilla scented one. I’d never use it but it would look sooo nice in the bathroom!

IDEA 9: Coffee mug warmer (Amazon UK, 20,00 £)

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I don’t have this yet but the number of times I drink cold coffee are countless so this would be a brilliant gift for me (although a wireless one would be even better). I don’t really like cold coffee but don’t want to throw it away so what are you supposed to do then eh?

IDEA 10: The Sherlock Holmes Escape Book (Amazon UK, 128 pages, 3,91 £)

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Here, the book becomes the locked room, the pages become the path, and the reader can take on a challenge every bit as brain-teasing from the comfort of their own home. Visual clues are hidden among the intriguing illustrations; fiendish riddles, logic puzzles and timed challenges unlock hidden doors and reveal the direction of travel; and mathematical problems provide the codes required to follow the correct path. There are maps and mazes to explore; references to the original Sherlock Holmes adventures to unravel; and a code-wheel that holds the key to unlocking the next page. Solve the puzzles correctly to escape. Get them wrong and you will find yourself further and further along the path to your own demise.

About the Author
Before writing puzzle-based books, Ormond Sacker served as note-taker and assistant to a London-based consulting detective, a role he held until being controversially superseded by a more qualified and less strangely named replacement. As a young man, Sacker studied medicine at St Bartholemews before joining the British Army, where he was attached as a surgeon to the Berkshire Regiment of Foot. It was specifically feet that led to his dismissal, following an odd number (both in quantity and circumstance) of amputation errors. To this day he stands by his assertion that “left” and “right” are subjective terms that depend upon which end of the table one is standing. His military training, international travels, and experience of curious crime, together with an intimate relationship with the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, have given him a unique view of the world. Such a character is clearly the ideal author of a book of Holmes-based conundrums and problems. Ormond Sacker is sometimes mixed up. At such times he is no card smoker, and lives in cranked rooms.

I’m curious about these type of books but I’ve never seen or tried one so it’s on my Christmas list and I’ll be gifting this one to myself along with a few carefully selected books.

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So see anything you like? Do let me know in the comments, I’d be happy to hear about it!

If you need more inspiration, here are my gift ideas of the previous years:

The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl #BookReview

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A seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity leads a PI and his ex-con assistant on a murderous trail, in a sophisticated, riveting historical Nordic Noir thriller set in interwar and prohibition-era Norway.

Oslo, 1938. War is in the air and Europe is in turmoil. Hitler’s Germany has occupied Austria and is threatening Czechoslovakia; there’s a civil war in Spain and Mussolini reigns in Italy.

When a woman turns up at the office of police-turned-private investigator Ludvig Paaske, he and his assistant – his one-time nemesis and former drug-smuggler Jack Rivers – begin a seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity.

But all is not what it seems, and when Jack is accused of murder, the trail leads back to the 1920s, to prohibition-era Norway, to the smugglers, sex workers and hoodlums of his criminal past … and an extraordinary secret.

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half

Kjell Ola Dahl was a totally new author to me so I went in with an open mind, even though I was a little unsure about the type of novel it was. It turned out The Assistant is quite the varied type and it is everything you think – or hope – it might be. Nordic crime? Check! Spies and lots of action? Double check! An intriguing mystery delivered in a historical setting? Why yes that too!

The Assistant contains at first chapters shifting between 1924 and 1938, and ends in 1962, but it all starts in 1924 where Jack Rivers is a driver for a man called Arvid Bjerke. He not only transports passengers but is also a runman delivering illegal cans of liquor to village shops. In the very first pages Jack is actually trying to avoid being arrested as he tries to outwit ‘the cop from hell’ Ludvig Paaske in a breathtakingly dangerous scene. Twenty pages later though with a time jump to 1938 Paaske isn’t a cop anymore but a private investigator and Rivers is quite suddenly his sidekick. It is all quite matter of fact with no explanation what happened in between so that only intrigued me more to find out how they got from sworn enemies to allies.

Good teamwork is certainly necessary when a woman asks them to investigate her husband, only to bring danger on themselves as soon as they start trailing the husband. I was invested in this novel from the action-packed opening till the earth shattering ending. In between I followed a treacherous path of twists and red herrings. This is one of those novels that were it a movie you better not look away if you want to keep up with what’s happening. There’s robbery, betrayal, narrow escapes and plenty of action and two women as memorable characters, Julie – wife to Jack’s old employer Arvid – and Amalie who plays the part of Arvid’s mistress. Both women play a magnificent role in all of it but are also characters that will make you question their sincerity and motives. Is Amalie worth being Jack’s crush or is she playing games with him? What are Julie’s intentions towards Jack? Who to trust?  

I have to admit that this was a somewhat challenging novel for me. I didn’t find the story as easy to read as the novels I finished in the weeks before with the writing style being more show than tell. I was often wondering what was going on and felt a little lost at times. I was also taken by surprise in the end that the novel suddenly went a very different direction than the route I had figured we were going. Without saying too much hopefully, I anticipated a full blown political/spy novel in the end with everything that had happened but I was way off track and shortly before the ending I became painfully aware of my mistake. My mouth nearly dropped open when I finally saw what we were dealing with! I really did enjoy the ending though which showed the true colours of all the characters. Overall I can conclude this is a great novel but I’m left in doubt that the style of writing makes this the right author for me.

I received a free paperback copy from the publisher Orenda Books to read. This is my honest opinion.

I have a personalised library stamp! #StampByMe

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A few weeks ago I found an English book in a Little Free Library (in case you’re wondering, it was The Ice Child by Camilla Läckberg) which made me very happy. I have read several novels in this Swedish book series about Erica Falck and Patrik Hedstrom in the past so I was thrilled to find a new one. On a sidenote: have you noticed too that The Ice Child is actually the combination of other book titles in the series: The Ice Princess (nr 1) and The Hidden Child (nr 5)?

Anyway I wanted to swap one of my own books in return but at the same time I thought it would be cool to let them know who the book was from. I didn’t want to just simply write it down in the novel though, not that my handwriting is awful or anything but there is no room for errors when you do it and with my track record… So I started searching on the internet and soon found this cool Etsy shop Stamp by Me. They are located in Spain and it was important for me to find a shop in Europe so I wouldn’t be charged with customs charges.

I chose a design that looked great in the sample on the site and I asked to see a proof first which was a good decision as I wasn’t entirely convinced about the result when I received it. The capitals were a little too ‘loopy’ for me and it just didn’t look as nice as I thought it would.

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I honestly told Sara of Stamp By Me who was very understanding and she sent me a list of all the different lettertypes that I could choose from. It was suddenly difficult to make a choice so I ended up with four favorites and Sara sent me a proof for all of them:

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Which one would you choose? I actually love all of the above so scroll down to find out which one I chose…

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Well I wanted it to look as if it was hand written so even if the last one is so aestatically pleasing to my eyes and it might even be my favourite design, I wanted it to be more personal and authentic if you get what I mean.

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The third one is very black and this made me doubt if it would be a good choice. The ink would also need to be replaced more often and it would bother me if I saw it fading after a while so maybe not a good idea either.

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It was down to 1 or 2 and surprisingly the choice was easily made.

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Oh before I’ll show you my decision I want to inform you that I’m contributing to the funding of a water well too with my order so I did a good thing at the same time.

The second one is well balanced with good spacing and rounded letters so that’s the one I approved 🙂

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I’m ready to stamp a whole lot of my books!

Please note that I paid full price on the Etsy site and there was no partnership. I did appreciate however the excellent client service, there were several mails exchanged in a matter of days until I was 100% happy. That’s why I happily recommend StampByMeStudio if you consider gifting someone a library stamp, or want to order one for yourself. Do let me know in the comments what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard #BookReview

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At the age of twelve, Eve Black was the only member of her family to survive an encounter with serial attacker the Nothing Man. Now an adult, she is obsessed with identifying the man who destroyed her life.

Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle has just started reading The Nothing Man–the true-crime memoir Eve has written about her efforts to track down her family’s killer. As he turns each page, his rage grows. Because Jim’s not just interested in reading about the Nothing Man. He is the Nothing Man.

Jim soon beings to realize how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won’t give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first …

amazon uk amazon com

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Wow, what a killer thriller! I loved it! It usually takes me a week to read a novel but not this time no, I picked this one up every free moment I could find so I finished it in only two days. I’m even a bit sad it was over so quickly.

I love true crime. Well The Nothing Man is a book within a book bearing the same title and the fictitious book that is included within happens to be a true crime novel. The novel has a brilliant concept and execution. Eve Black is a final girl, the sole surviver of The Nothing Man and now a good 18 years later she has written this book about it. She is still hoping to find witnesses, a breakthrough in finding out who killed her parents and her little sister when she was 12. She describes The Nothing Man’s multiple attacks before his final act on her family among other things and the harrowing stories made me strongly think about another book I read which was a real true crime novel about The Golden State killer, and after I finished the novel I found out that Catherine Ryan Howard really found the inspiration for this story after she read I’ll Be Gone In The Dark as well.

I really enjoyed the back and forth between Eve’s book and Jim’s reactions upon reading the chapters. The only reason I’m giving this novel 4.5 instead of the 5 full stars (although I’m rounding it up for Goodreads) is that I knew what the author’s intentions were so I saw the ending coming from far ahead. I don’t know what I was hoping for in the end but I felt a little underwhelmed for some reason at the big finale. It was all over rather too quickly for me, without much of a fuss, whereas I wanted fireworks and to be genuinely shocked when reading the final chapters. That didn’t happen but that being said, I found The Nothing Man excelling in originality and highly entertaining. I definitely want to read more novels by this author!

I received a copy of this novel in my Capital Crime Book Subscription box. This is my honest opinion.

Survive The Night by Riley Sager #BookReview

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It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.

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I’m a fan of Riley Sager’s books – I read all of them – so I was thrilled to receive an ecopy to read from the publisher via Netgalley. Although I do admit having a few favorites, Sager’s novels never let me down and Survive The Night is yet another corker!

After Charlie’s best friend Maddy is killed by The Campus Killer, Charlie is filled with grief and she feels incredibly guilty for leaving her friend behind on their night out. Charlie is desperate to get away from school and find solace at her grandmother’s house and that’s why she puts up an ad at the university notice board and finds a ride with the unknown Josh.

You have to suspend some disbelief if you want to get the most out of this novel. First off, Charlie is well aware that anyone can have bad intentions and she’s anxious about it, yet she gets into a car with a total stranger without a problem. She doesn’t even make her boyfriend wait with her to see this stranger and check out the scene. Hmm, that’s a bit crazy, right? It’s probably the first but definitely not the last stupid choice she makes that night. It was fun though to see how she gets herself into so much trouble and to worry about her safety. It’s impossible not to root for Charlie in this novel.

The one thing I didn’t really like was that Charlie is turned into an unreliable narrator because she sometimes ‘checks out’ and sees ‘movies in her head’. The result is that you have no choice but to question what is real and what isn’t? It’s a little like an alcoholic character having blackouts, I’m not a fan of this either so I was afraid it wouldn’t work for me after a while and I wouldn’t stay on team Charlie but I’m happy that the author managed to keep me onboard. I was fortunate that the story wasn’t entirely hung up on this technique and we don’t get stuck on it.

The story is fast-paced and even though I now know what’s coming I’d probably still be hiding behind a pillow if Survive The Night is adapted on the big screen. The night was dark, the tension high and unsettling. Is Charlie really getting a ride from the Campus Killer? What are his intentions, why get her in the car when he could have killed her already on campus? How is she going to escape? It is only the start of a very wild ride! My mind went in circles of yes, no, maybe, and I don’t know anymore. I wanted the author to put me out of my misery and when the truth came out my heart certainly did a little flippety flop! The twists in this novel were numerous and I did not see ANY of them coming! Hence why I loved this novel so much :-).

I received a free ecopy from the publisher Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

As Good As Dead by Holly Jackson (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3) #BookReview

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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 . . .

The highly-anticipated finale to the A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series, the instant bestsellers that read like your favorite true crime podcast or show. By the end of this mystery series, you’ll never think of good girls the same way again…

amazon uk amazon com

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As Good As Dead is the third novel of a trilogy, with A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (my review) and Good Girl, Bad Blood (my review) preceding this one. I read the first two novels so of course I had to find out how everything was going to end for Pip Fitz-Amobi. I wouldn’t recommend reading this last novel as a standalone because there were a lot of references to both of the previous novels. That being said, I read the first one quite some time ago and it was not so easy to remember everything that had happened to all the characters of the town for me either so I struggled a little understanding why Pip was feeling so much animosity towards some of them.

I enjoyed the majority of the story of As Good As Dead, but it wasn’t love from the first page so it really me had to win me over. First, the second novel did end quite traumatically for Pip but I wasn’t a fan of Pip’s paranoid thoughts (PTSD if you want) and the manifestation of that fact with Pip imagining seeing blood on her hands quite a few times. It’s perhaps possible but I’m still not a fan. Secondly, the novel started slow although there’s an indisputable threat directed at Pip that is designed to keep the reader guessing early on and tension was building with each new message she discovers closer and closer to home. I enjoyed the clever way someone is trying to frighten her and yet I still felt that the plot took its time getting the story to where it should be, especially because there’s a major shifting of gears with one pivotal scene kicking the novel up a notch or ten and then never letting go again.

This pivotal scene and everything that happened after shows a Pip at the top of her game. I loved everything that came after that. I hadn’t seen her like this before, so brilliant, so controlling, so impressive. Her skills and all the knowledge she has acquired while working on her podcasts, she has to put them all into practice. I learned a few new things about death bodies too as she includes a report on how pathologists use rigor mortis, livor mortis and algor mortis to determine the time of someone’s death. I found all of this very interesting and I’m sure I won’t forget about it soon.

The second half of the novel was very addictive and I had to know if Pip was going to succeed. Sidekick Ravi was absent from the second novel but is back in As Good As Dead to take his place next to Pip and their connection, the support he gives her is wonderful. They are the bestest team!

The author promised a thrilling novel and she kept her promise, I loved the direction she took with this novel. I wasn’t expecting Pip to surprise me so much after her ‘weak’ start but she’s really coming through and this third novel is a wonderful conclusion to the series. It certainly ends on a high for me! And that last line.. I was sooo happy with it!

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins #AudioBookReview

AudioBookReviews

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Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She’s seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous.

Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn’t mean she’s a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace?

Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.

amazon uk amazon com

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I’m a fan of the actress Rosamund Pike since I saw her in her role as Amy in Gone Girl and now she’s also one of my favorite narrators, if not my most favorite one so far! I give 5 stars for the narration of this novel and 3.5 to 4 stars for the plot. There were plenty of characters in this novel and thanks to the brilliant narration each character had its clear own voice. The narration was delivered with a lot of intonation as well and I loved how Pike shouted and sang and cried quite convincingly throughout the novel, I wasn’t bored for a second. I’m convinced that being an actress is a big advantage for the narration of audiobooks.

The whole plot revolves around a numerous cast of people living close together, Laura, Carla, Miriam, Irene and Theo and their involvement in each other’s lives and in the lives of Angela and her son Daniel, the two characters who ended up dead not long apart from each other. Miriam’s narrowboat was positioned next to Daniel Sutherland’s boat so she had a good view who came and went and she saw Laura on the fatal day. Does this mean that Laura stabbed him to death? Laura is a bit of a clumsy girl, she was a victim in a hit and run accident when she was young and faces many difficulties every day which results in sudden bursts of angry behaviour. She’s 25 and often does shopping for Irene, the old lady living next door to Daniel’s mother Angela, who in turn was the sister of Carla. Miriam feels a kinship to Laura because she was a victim too as a student when she was lured into a desolate house which she only narrowly escaped. Intermittent with the general story there’s also snippets of a book called ‘The One Who Got Away’ which was fascinating to listen to although it didn’t feel as if it blended in exactly with the rest of story. After a while though it did became clear that there’s an issue that arose with its publication which also plays an important part in the story.

The author certainly took on a lot, I think you get the gist that this was not a simple story but a complex one with connections between the many different characters. I found it hard to distinguish Irene and Miriam’s story right away but with the building of their histories and lives they soon became two very different people in my mind too. I have to say that after a while I was so caught up in the tragedies of their lives (Carla and Theo lost their little boy for example) that I didn’t miss that there wasn’t a lot of progress happening in finding out who killed Daniel. It’s only in the third and last part of the novel that the big mystery received all the attention and after a few twists and turns and some red herrings, the mystery came to a satisfying conclusion.

In essence: A Slow Fire Burning is a complex family drama and it was fulfilling to discover how the puzzle pieces of the deaths finally fit together.

Deity by Matt Wesolowski #BookReview #SixStoriesSeries #Orentober

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A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rake over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Are reports of a haunting really true? Why was he never officially charged?

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review-2

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First of all I have a confession to make: I read this novel months ago, right after I received it and I loved it one hundred percent. The only problem was finding the words to tell you this. Now I recently heard the news that the next novel ‘Demon’ is going to be published by the end of the year, so I didn’t want to let Deity just pass unnoticed. I really want Deity to receive the attention it deserves. I therefore reread Deity (this is exceptional let me tell you because I plan to reread dozens of novels but due to lack of time this is probably the first one in a decade) and honestly, it really was as enjoyable as the first time. It was not a waste of time, on the contrary, I’d read Deity a third time too if it would help me to convince you to read this novel and the entire series. I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to give it a shot now though!

To situate, Deity is the fifth title of the Six Stories series. The series is called this way because the stories are told by Scott King, an online journalist who interviews six people in six podcast episodes. His goal is always to reveal the truth and in Deity he tries to find out who Zach Crystal really was. A good man or a devil in disguise? He investigates the accusations against mega pop star Zach Crystal of sexual abuse and murder before his death. There are many rumors but Scott King can’t question Zach Crystal himself because he’s dead and the five women who accused the star of sexual assault in 2010 and 2011 are not willing to be interviewed either but Scott wouldn’t be King if he didn’t find other interesting figures who can shed a light onto this case.

Scott’s first interviewee is an opponent of Zach Crystal, someone who sides with the accusations and has his own story to tell about Zach which puts him in a very bad light. A harrowing story if it were to be true and the connection to existing stars with unsavory stories was easily made. These statements and his credibility were then contradicted by the second interviewee, a Crystal Truther as she is called, someone who is a bit of an expert and who was actually at Crystal Forest herself because yes, Crystal lives in a ‘tree house’ in the forest where he invites disadvantaged teenage girls to stay, to watch horror movies and take strolls in the forest. Apparently if you’re a pop star then it’s quite ok to do such things. Crystal believes in a presence in the Whispering Forest too, in a creature called the Frithghast, some ‘thing’ he always sees when something bad is about to happen. It creates a bond between him and his followers who’ve seen it too. Is it manipulation or is it real?

With each new interview there’s strange new information that comes forward, both speaking for and against the star, depending on who is talking. There’s a former employee, a mother of one of his fans, a fellow musician who was an unexpected but very pleasant surprise and the last one… well you just need to read it to find out but it will bring the closure you will crave after reading the other podcasts. 

I didn’t know what to think of Zach anymore, my opinions swung this and that way. Are the people making accusations about popstars money-grabbing vultures with a hidden agenda? Do we actually know the stars we adore so much? Do they deserve to be put on such a pedestal though simply because they’re great singers? Do they possess a power over people who are willing to believe anything they say? Deity is a thought-provoking and reflective novel, and it managed to change my own thinking. Next to the amazing inclusion of yet another creepy legend this is what I loved most about this novel. Deity is a well thought-out story, it covers all angles (you even hear from Zach himself in an exclusive interview before his death) and you never know how it’s going to end, it ALWAYS takes me by surprise. I can’t say which novel is my absolute favorite but I can say that Deity is definitely in my top 3 of the series!

I received a free paperback copy of this novel from the publisher Orenda Books to read and review. This is still my honest opinion.

Here are my reviews of the Six Stories series so far:

Six Stories
Hydra
Changeling
Beast