The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish #BookReview

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There’s the obvious story. And then there’s the truth.

Alex lives a comfortable life with his wife Beth in the leafy suburb of Silver Vale. Fine, so he’s not the most extrovert guy on the street, he prefers to keep himself to himself, but he’s a good husband and an easy-going neighbour.

That’s until Beth announces the creation of a nature trail on a local site that’s been disused for decades and suddenly Alex is a changed man. Now he’s always watching. Questioning. Struggling to hide his dread . . .

As the landscapers get to work, a secret threatens to surface from years ago, back in Alex’s twenties when he got entangled with a seductive young woman called Marina, who threw both their lives into turmoil.

And who sparked a police hunt for a murder suspect that was never quite what it seemed.

It still isn’t.

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5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars_1457015900_81_246_96_2 / 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars_1457015727_81_246_96_2

Yes oh yes! Lemme tell you this one’s not to be missed! I was introduced to author Louise Candlish only last year (first I received a copy of her Quickreads short story The Skylight and then I read The Heights) but this one firmly cements it that she’s one to stay on my readlist going forward

The Only Suspect is told in a dual timeline. The present day handles Alex’s struggle with Zara, the woman who’s temporarily staying with him and his wife Beth. She’s nosy, outstaying her welcome and she basically turns his wife against him. The only upside of it is that Alex is also nervous about the work on the eco trail and Zara helps to keep his wife’s focus off himself. Then the story jumps to the ’90s with Rick meeting a young woman named Marina and there’s a bit of a romance that develops between them. He then discovers that Marina has a secret but Rick wouldn’t be the man he is to just let her go

I loved how the author invited me to constantly examine my loyalty towards the characters. Is Rick a good guy or not? If ‘Alex’ did kill someone, could it be somehow understood? Did he let an innocent person go to prison? I seriously thought I had made all the right connections between Alex and Rick and the situation that was coming back to haunt them but I was SO WRONG. The twist in the story was jawdropping. I flipped the page a few times back and fro to see if I had not imagined this turn in the story. 

I loved the intricateness of the story, the deceipt and the lies and the final twist that made just perfect sense looking back to everything that happened to Alex. The present was maybe a bit slower going in terms of giving up its secrets so I was initially more engrossed in the past with the difficult situation for Marina and Rick, but it definitely catches up in the final part of the novel and it was well worth the wait. I want more of this!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Simon and Schuster via Netgalley. This is still my honest opinion.



Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid #AudioBookReview

Malibu Rising


A lifetime holding it together.

One party will bring it crashing down.

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.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the centre of attention and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro-tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

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.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them…and what they will leave behind.

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star three and a half

Even though Malibu Rising isn’t typically the genre of novel I’m used to reading, I don’t regret giving it a go. This was my second read by the author and having listened to this novel I think I already have a good idea what her bestseller The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo would be like.

Malibu Rising is a family drama about the Riva’s. The story starts with a very young and yet to be famous Mick who tries to win the heart of June and it ends with the current love lives of their children Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit (Katherine).

I really loved the chapters set in the past with the heartbreaking romance between Mick and June. I was captivated with their push and pull relationship and I rooted hard for them, well for June most of all because the pitfalls of fame and the lure of Mick’s many female admirers make him quite an absentee father. All things considered it’s quite a tragic story, and the star of the whole novel is Nina, which was clear quite early on and I’m so happy the ending revolved around her as well.

The narration by Julia Whelan was fabulous all the way through and although there were many scenes worth mentioning then I’d say the scene between Carrie Soto and Brandon, shouting on the lawn in front of Nina’s house was done with so much vigour that it’s one of my favourite moments.

The only remark I can make is that the party wasn’t all that interesting and when it is finally in full swing there were too many characters arriving and they didn’t really add anything important to the story. When they were mentioned again in the round up I didn’t know half of them anymore. Against all this background turbulence the Riva children flock together once again and the big question they’ll have to answer is what they’re going to do, whether they’ll stand together as a family or not. I’m happy I didn’t need to make that choice on their behalf but I believe they did the right thing.

Overall this was an enjoyable audiobook where I enjoyed some parts more than others. The party guests took away from the story and they dominated that part a bit too much but the ending was so apt. The Riva mansion going up in flames as mentioned in the synopsis and in the prologue of the novel didn’t even feel so bad anymore in the end, which was a finding I hadn’t expected at all. It wraps up the story beautifully.

Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg #BookReview

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When Ellie and her boyfriend Steven take their first trip together, what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbors secrets—and that one of those secrets is deadly.

Ellie is an NYU grad student, timid but fiercely intelligent, and eager for the perfect weekend away with her boyfriend. Steven is a wealthy and privileged teacher at an elite Manhattan school. His and Ellie’s relationship has stirred up envy among the teachers in his academic circle.

When they head out for their romantic break, they’re both excited to get to know each other better away from prying eyes. But when a snowstorm strands them in the house, they begin to realize that neither of them is quite who they say they are—and that one of them won’t escape the weekend alive.

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

Revenge is a dish best served cold. If there’s one book in the whole world it applies to it must certainly be this one. Ellie and Steven are staying at this remote mansion for a romantic getaway in celebration of their 6 month anniversary as a couple but let me tell you, a lot can happen in three days

At first I was unsettled the most by the house itself, its isolated setting, the weather conditions and the descriptions inside the house were eerie but slowly the characters started to make themselves more conspicuous and I was constantly mulling over who the bad character of the story would be. One of them gets the label as the villain but I think it’s up for debate and personally they’re both kind of evenly matched, neither of them had my sympathy until the end and then I kind of felt guilty for feeling sorry for the wrong person.

The tension really builds up during their cat and mouse games and the threat of harming each other but I still didn’t know how the ending was going to play out and who was going to ‘win’ or should I say survive 🙂 because oh boy they do go for each other! I wasn’t expecting what this novel was actually about and I had no idea who the third POV was, sharing dated diary entrees. Was one of them having an affair? A disgruntled ex? I was quite off the mark and not entirely.

I loved the atmospheric setting and the unpredictability right up till the last pages. I didn’t quite agree with the actions that started all of this and it seemed a little farfetched to go about it this way (it takes a psycho to know one perhaps) but it did make for some compelling reading. These characters are certainly ones to remember for a long time.

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

Here’s To Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera #BookReview



From the creator of 13 Reasons Why, What If It’s Us is soon to be a feature film!

Ben survived freshman year of college, but he’s feeling more stuck than ever. His classes are a slog, his part-time job working with his father is even worse, and his best friend Dylan’s been acting weird for weeks. Ben’s only real bright spot is his writing partner Mario, who’s been giving him a lot of Spanish lessons and even more kisses. Mario’s big Hollywood dreams make Ben start to dream bigger—and the choices he makes now could be the key to reshaping his future. So why can’t he stop thinking about a certain boy from his past?

Arthur is back in New York City for the first time in two years, ready to take the theater world by a storm as the world’s best . . . intern to the assistant of an off-off-Broadway director. Of course, it sucks to be spending the summer apart from his sweet, reliable boyfriend, Mikey, but he knows their relationship is strong enough to weather the distance. Which is why it’s no big deal when his ex-boyfriend Ben stumbles back into the picture. And it’s definitely fine that Ben’s blissfully happy with some mystery boy. First loves are special, but it’s way too late for what-ifs. Right?

Even as the boys try to shake off the past, they keep running into each other in the present. Is this the universe trying to tell them there’s a do-over in their future?

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I haven’t read What If It’s Us but this novel gave me a good idea what had happened to Ben and Arthur in the first book, from how they met to how they parted ways and why, so this can be read perfectly as a standalone.

Ben and Arthur hadn’t seen each other in two years but the minute they’re back in the same city it seems like the universe draws them and their thoughts back together. It’s not long before they were playing with fire but they both act like they don’t know it, as if it’s completely normal to hang out all the time with your ex and to text each other non-stop while you have a new partner. I was trying very hard not to judge them and to go with the feeling pushed upon me. I wasn’t itching for them to get back together at all, especially since Arthur is together with the incredibly sweet Mikey, and Ben is in the stages of officially becoming Mario’s boyfriend but I just hoped if push came to shove they would do the right thing in the end.

I’ve written two whole pages of notes on this novel but I have a feeling that I still don’t know what to say about it. I love sweet romance stories but this is not my favourite type of romance novel because I hate for people to get hurt in the process and there was definitely a love triangle vibe and while nothing really happened I felt there was some emotional cheating going on which is probably even worse.

They were both so hung up on the past throughout the novel and how they felt then that they transposed it to the present but you’re not the same people any more after two years and I didn’t feel they were very mature. OK they didn’t act like hormonal teenagers jumping in bed with each other but I did miss some reflection about their situation. There was so much jealousy going round that it made me cringe. I wanted to shout stop and think what you’re doing you guys. The side characters were great and one of their friends, Dylan, was quite a force of nature. He expresses his love for Ben at every opportunity and I found this strange at first (I wondered if he was gay too) but I started to really enjoy his witty one-liners. He brought the fun into this novel.

There’s some will they-won’t they going on but you just can’t ignore the direction the authors are steering to. After all the pining going on I was happy I finally got to this point. I’m not entirely sure I’m in the right demographic category for this novel as I think it’ll be better received by a much younger group of readers. I never fell fully in love with either Ben or Arthur because they both made some questionable decisions but even though I wasn’t their biggest fan I am happy with the way it ended.

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

The House Across The Lake by Riley Sager #BookReview

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Recently widowed actress Casey Fletcher has escaped to her family’s lake house for peace and quiet. She’s been happily losing herself in her thoughts and several bottles of bourbon, until the glamorous couple across the lake catch her attention. They look so perfect – just like Casey and her husband used to be.
But is anyone what they seem?

Casey has a detective sat at her kitchen table.

She has a man bound and gagged upstairs.

Casey will uncover dark truths so life-changing that nothing will ever be the same again.

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What did I just read? I can’t believe those twists! The House Across The Lake was solidly out of my comfort zone and while I knew in advance there was some magical realism involved I completely forgot about it while I was reading. It seemed a very straightforward story for a really long stretch but then suddenly bam, there’s one big twist to this story that literally changed everything and explained so many things that had happened!

The story is set around a lake with only 5 houses surrounding it. Casey is there to get her drinking under control which started after her husband died. I cringed a little when I thought this would be another alcoholic with memory loss and she didn’t get a lot of sympathy from me at first, especially when she has no intention at all to stop drinking. Alternating with her drinking and fraternising with the neighbours she’s also sort of spying on them. Well the house across the lake is one big glass dome and when the lights are on in the evening you get to see everything, and even better when you have binoculars :-). When her neighbour suddenly disappears she doesn’t believe she simply went back to the city and she’s intent to find out if her husband did something to her.

It’s so funny because I was looking for the ‘if he (the husband) didn’t do it, then who did’ answer and although I’m pretty good at this sort of thing, I still didn’t guess it right. It is completely unpredictable! Even though it’s not my usual type of novel and usually a mixed bag of success for me, it worked out amazingly this time and I was really hooked. Casey had turned me around completely and I became a fan of hers, rooting for her and feeling the compassion that I lacked at the beginning, her drinking finally given the place and understanding it was meant to have.

This was quite the rollercoaster read and the ending was like getting to this final looping where you can feel the excitement in your stomach (well I’m really just guessing here, I don’t actually do rollercoasters).

I expected such a simple story of a missing wife but I got so much more than I paid for (99p actually), it was definitely worth every penny! The House Across The Lake was creepy and suspenseful and the paranormal addition so well done that he even got me on his side. The year has started on a great note!

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

My top 10 favourite books of 2022

My top 10 favourite books of 2022

As the year nears its end again, there’s only one post left to publish. I read 67 novels this year and here’s my top 10 of 2022:

Looking forward to 2023 there are some books on my wishlist already so here’s my top 5 of my most wanted: 1. Gone Tonight by Sarah Pekkanen, 2. The Square of Sevens by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (that cover!), 3. The Bleeding by Johana Gustawsson, 4.  The Winners by Fredrik Backman and 5. Black Lake Manor by Guy Morpuss (locked room!). Those last two novels would be new authors for me too so hopefully I’ll love their writing.

I don’t see many changes on the blog for 2023, I’m going to continue reviewing a mix of backlist books and new books. It’s also a dream to reach 3200 followers on Twitter again (I went from 3212 to 3176 again after summer) but we’ll see. I have to be a little more present perhaps and I apologize to my blog friends for not doing a better job of it but work takes up most of my energy and what’s left is spent on reading, writing on my blog and fussing over my little furry companion.


That’s a wrap for 2022! I’d love to hear if we have any top 10 reads in common or what’s on your wishlist.

And finally, I hope you have a wonderful end of year and I wish you a happy and healthy 2023, with many many books to read!

That Weekend by Kara Thomas #BookReview

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It was supposed to be the perfect prom weekend getaway. But it’s clear something terrible happened when Claire wakes up alone and bloodied on a hiking trail with no memory of the past forty-eight hours.

Now everyone wants answers–most of all, Claire. She remembers Friday night, but after that . . . nothing. And now Kat and Jesse–her best friends–are missing.

What happened on the mountain? And where are Kat and Jesse? Claire knows the answers are buried somewhere in her memory. But as she’s learning, everyone has secrets–even her best friends. And she’s pretty sure she’s not going to like what she remembers.

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I enjoyed The Cheerleaders last year (here’s my review) so the next one on my wishlist of hers was That Weekend, a novel with an intriguing mystery.

I was all excited for this but I’m not sure what to say about this novel so it’s going to be a short review for once I guess. It was overall an okay story but there were no exhilarating discoveries for me, although I do think it might be a different experience for some readers. The red herrings didn’t work on me this time though, I wasn’t fooled.

My main issue with this novel is that That Weekend didn’t show a lot of progress throughout because Claire doesn’t remember anything. That’s been done a lot before and my opinion often varies how I enjoy this tactic. In this case I felt it didn’t create more mystery or tension but stalled the evolution of the novel a bit too much.

I had actually guessed where the story would go but I’m convinced that the majority of readers will be blindsided by it. I can’t explain why my mind had worked this out other than that I always keep every option in mind and this was one of them. I enjoyed hearing why this had all happened to the three of them but I wish the characters could have had more depth to them from the start of the novel instead of learning about them and finding out their history until I reached the last part.

Unlike The Cheerleaders where there were a lot of different storylines, this one was far on the simpler side. As I’ve come to know this author there is also a darker theme involved which I normally enjoy but it couldn’t give me the happy feeling I was looking for in the end. I am going to give this author another try because I’ve seen her brilliance and I hope the next one will be a whole other story 🙂

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

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett #BookReview

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Everyone knows the story of the Alperton Angels: the cult-like group who were convinced one of their member’s babies was the anti-Christ, and they had a divine mission to kill it – until the baby’s mother, Holly, came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than go to prison, and Holly – and the baby – disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed – if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong, and the truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined.

This story is far from over – and it won’t have a happy ending.

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star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

Although I have a paperback of Janice Hallett’s debut novel The Appeal on my book shelves, The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is the first novel of the author I actually read. Netgalley didn’t make it easy to read this novel because the formatting of the novel consists of emails between Amanda Bailey and other parties but there were no breaks in the text in my ecopy that clearly stated where each interaction started and ended so that was certainly a little challenging in the beginning but it was readable and I did get used to it towards the end. Hopefully the finished ecopy won’t have this issue, otherwise you can always go for the paperback.

I wasn’t conscious at first of how clever and deceptive this novel was going to turn into. The only thing that became clear was that nothing was adding up, people saw markings and other people didn’t, there was even a discrepancy in the number of bodies discovered at the scene where the cult members committed suicide, and nobody was willing to talk or knew anything significant. I felt quite confused how this could happen and it certainly made me wonder what was going on here. There were a lot of conversations with lots of different people, police, social workers, even an online group investigating cold cases. I wasn’t in the zone for some time because Amanda wasn’t really getting anywhere and the cast was a bit overwhelming but once she started to get some leads and it narrowed down towards some pretty exciting theories I simply couldn’t stop reading.

At about 70% of the novel there was more going on than I could wrap my head around. The story is intricately plotted, even though I had to suspend some belief, especially when it came to Amanda’s rival Oliver Menzies. As Amanda steams ahead with the investigation and her search of the 18-year old who was saved from a ritual, Oliver completely turns into a believer. His falling under the spell of a cult leader was a tad too much but the author had her reasons for making him so gullible. I only hope she didn’t expect her readers to be this easy to convince of angels and the antichrist. It did make me feel sorry for Oliver, especially since Amanda just lets him be, but again, she had her reasons for leaving him with his delusion and her urge to be the one to find ‘the baby’ is only part of it. Still, it didn’t make her the most sympathetic person.

There’s another role in the story for Ellie who transcribes the interviews and while I’ve done the same thing and have never even thought of adding my own thoughts between brackets, it brings a brilliant touch to the story. Ellie acts as her conscience, her friend, and is probably the one with the kindest heart. On a sidenote I also really want to mention the first draft chapters that Amanda writes of what is to be her book and are interspersed throughout the story. She writes each one with another POV and focus and I loved all of them, but of course the last one, with the big reveal explained in detail, most of all.

Nothing is at it seems in this novel, that’s the least I can say and I very much enjoyed how it kept me guessing about the truth for so long. It’s a story about manipulation and even if you normally avoid reading books about cults (like me) you don’t need to worry, it’s still a novel that will compel and will surprise you very much in the end!

I received a free ecopy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

Same book, different cover #22


Happy hump day! I’m here to bring you again 5 new book covers. It’s up to you to pick and choose your favorite one. This is just for fun so there are no wrong answers! OK then, I’ll go first, then it’s up to you:

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Read

OneTrueLoves 03  OneTrueLoves 04  OneTrueLoves 01  OneTrueLoves 02  OneTrueLoves 05

There’s one cover that stands out for me and that’s cover 3. I love the colours and I appreciate that you don’t see Emma’s face. I like cover 1 (there’s a bookshop in the story) and 5 as well but they would make me pick this novel up and check it out, with the third one I’m already convinced I want it.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Luckiest Girl Alive 01 Luckiest Girl Alive 02

An easy choice for me, I choose cover 2 with the delightful black rose on it. I don’t know why but it seems darker and more ominous to me and I like the contrast between being ‘lucky’ and then that rose which makes it feel quite contradictory.

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

TheTrophyChild 03 TheTrophyChild 02

If I really need to make a choice then I’ll go for cover 1. OK the second one with the house hidden away behind a hedge and a locked gate is mysterious but there’s not enough going on on the cover for me to keep my attention fixed to it, I find myself looking longer at the first one.

The Key to my Heart by Lia Louis

The Key To My Heart 01 The Key To My Heart 02

This is such an easy choice, I absolutely love cover 1! It’s just so cute! I love the shade of blue more of the first and also I hate winter (I can’t even remember if this played a role in the story).

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

ForYourOwnGood 01 ForYourOwnGood

This is the most difficult choice to make. The main character (the psycho) is a man so I don’t really know why there’s a woman on the first cover? I don’t really entirely get the second cover either but I’m still going with cover 2. It has a bit of a rebellious feel to it with the graffiti like title. If anyone has any good insights about these covers do let me know!


So that’s it. Tell me your thoughts! If you can’t get enough, check out Battle Of The Books – #21

Stay With Me by Alison Gaylin #BookReview

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When the past intersects with the future . . .

Brenna Spector is held prisoner by the past. She has perfect memory, which allows her to recall in vivid and remarkable detail every moment of every day of her adult life. If only she could remember more from her child-hood . . . for she’s still trying to unravel the mystery of her sister Clea’s disappearance twenty-eight years ago when Clea was seventeen. But now her obsession with finding out what happened to Clea is taking a toll on her own teenage daughter, Maya, who’s been very secretive lately. And when Maya goes missing, Brenna fears her worst nightmare has come true.

. . . the outcome can be dangerous

As Brenna relies on her P.I. skills to find her daughter before it’s too late, evidence surfaces showing a possible link between Maya’s disappearance and Clea’s. But could a case from three decades ago really be connected to her daughter? Or is someone hoping that Brenna will play along in a twisted game—one that there’s no chance of winning . . . or surviving?

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star three and a half

Stay With Me is the third novel in a trilogy about Brenna Spector. I had no idea about this being the case but it can certainly be read as a good standalone and I had no problems following the story. It does give away some vital details about an incident in the second novel so unless you don’t want to know who was behind it or how the incident ended you’ll be fine reading this. I actually picked up my copy (published in 2014 and translated in Dutch in 2016) because I recently read about one of her other books, The Collective, which received several five star ratings from other book reviewers already and sparked my interest as well.

In the novel Brenna is a private investigator and her worst nightmare comes true when her 13-year old daughter Maya goes missing almost 3 decades after her own sister Clea went missing at the age of 17. Together with her quirky sidekick Trent, boyfriend/detective Nick Morasco and detective Plodsky of Missing Persons they try to find out what happened at the slumber party Maya went to and what went on in her head in the days beforehand. Both paths turn up a number of disconcerting answers with toxic friendships and secret chats at the base of it.

Brenna’s photographic memory (hyperthymestic syndrome) helped to keep Clea’s disappearance in my head at all times and there seemed to be a small breakthrough there as well when she gets hold of some items that belonged to her sister. The question then is who had them all this time and how did they reach her.

Stay With Me was a good read but remained a bit cursory all the same, it didn’t go in very deep. I especially wanted to know more about what made one of the characters tick and made them so dangerous but I didn’t get the flashbacks that I wanted. The novel was an enjoyable read and I liked Brenna’s special ability (although it definitely is much more a curse than a blessing so not a superpower I want anymore) so I had no trouble steaming through this but at the same time I had a good idea what was in store in the end, even though I do think it’ll come as a surprise if you’re not a seasoned crime reader. It was a bit of a let down for me though and although the author did have one last twist in store, it felt overdone and I suspect it was only written for its shock value.

So with these ups and downs I’m still debating whether or not to add The Collective to my readlist. At the moment it is perhaps a bit more doubtful but of course Gaylin might have only gotten better with her writing and then I’d be missing out on a good story, so the vote is still very much out.

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