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

AsGoodAsDead def

whats-it-about-2

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

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

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

ASlowFireBurning

whats-it-about-2

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

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

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

Deity def

whats-it-about-2

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?

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars_1457015727_81_246_96_2

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

 

A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole #BookReview

AThousandBoyKisses def

whats-it-about-2

When seventeen-year-old Rune Kristiansen returns from his native Norway to the sleepy town of Blossom Grove, Georgia, where he befriended Poppy Litchfield as a child, he has just one thing on his mind. Why did the girl who was one half of his soul, who promised to wait faithfully for his return, cut him off without a word of explanation?

Rune’s heart was broken two years ago when Poppy fell silent. When he discovers the truth, he finds that the greatest heartache is yet to come.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

I bought A Thousand Boy Kisses – a young adult romance novel – years ago when I saw how many 5 star ratings it was receiving on Goodreads. The novel’s been published in 2016 but still has an average rating of 4.23 so that says a lot about how much love this novel is receiving.

I’m a fan of young romance because it’s sweet, innocent and perfect and I thought I’d never be able to get enough of it but the romance in the first part of the novel was sooo cheesy, I was really getting an overdose. It didn’t help that Poppy receives a jar from her grandmother to collect a thousand kisses in her entire life that make her heart burst, kisses that make her feel special, and Rune takes it upon himself to fill this whole jar by himself. I never thought I’d say this but the soaring hearts were there all the time and even I felt it was a bit too much. That said, it didn’t make me feel very happy that Rune and his Poppymin (My Poppy in Norvegian) were going to be separated because by then I certainly saw them as inseparable.

Their goodbyes were painful but what was at least as painful was the fact that all communications between them come to a stop, although they promised each other so much. I didn’t know the reasons behind Poppy’s decision to cut Rune out of her life but it was hard to understand when she loved him so much before.

Rune, the long haired Viking with blond hair and blue eyes that Poppy had fallen in love with returns but nothing is as it once was. Rune has changed so much from the sweet boy I came to know. They can’t pick up where they left off, and all I wanted was for them to reconnect in some way. My heart broke for them – for the love lost between them – but soon after it broke even a little more. I thought this was going to be a light, sweet teen romance but the emotions I felt ran deeper than expected. In the end I believed very strongly that Rune and Poppy were soul mates, and their love ‘as special as special can be’. I dare you to keep it dry reading A Thousand Boy Kisses.

The start was a little rocky but the ending was so beautiful and also full of love. It is definitely an emotional novel and it won’t leave you unfazed!

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

Educated by Tara Westover #BookReview

Educated def

whats-it-about-2

Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals.

As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars_1457015727_81_246_96_2

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction and I think it’s even my first memoir but I wanted to read this novel that features on many lists.

I have a basic knowledge of Mormonism but Tara’s family are quite extreme in their belief. They (the parents in any case) would rather die than consult a doctor or a hospital, as is proven after a few horrible accidents where more than one member of the family has severe injuries. But they believe medicine will poison your body and her father is on the front line in the war with the Illuminati who run the hospitals and all the government instances. The 7 children of the family are home schooled but don’t receive any actual schooling as they are put to work either in the kitchen with their mother preparing ointments or in the junkyard with their father. I could quite well imagine how the farm at Buck’s Peak looked and how she ran around like a feral child.

Her life seems set out in stone but then, along with two of her brothers, she decides to study on her own, take a test and enroll in college. You can imagine her father is not happy about this and it is the first tear in the family because as Tara’s world widens, she realises that she was never allowed an opinion, her fathers visions of the world could not be questioned, and now she starts to have her own thoughts and opinions.

Educated was a distressing novel to read. Not only are her parents so far removed from reality with their distorted vision (religious nuts comes to mind if I’m honest) Tara also suffers physical and emotional abuse from one of her brothers (not sexually thankfully but if he had it would be a sad conclusion that even that wouldn’t have changed anything in this story). Tara is already an outsider when she speaks up about her brother and it might be that that made their parents choice who to believe easier to make. Sadly, they don’t take her side and her other siblings are pressured into making the same choice. I felt the betrayal by her parents cutting very deep with me, and it frustrated me how she tries to reach out and mend things time and time again by returning home.

I loved seeing how she takes control of her life and not be dictated any longer by a voice without reason. I felt very disappointed in her parents, especially in her mother who lies to her and it is clear she knows very well what the real situation is. I saw the struggle and the pull of her family until the very last pages and it made me sad for her.

Educated is a powerful and thought provoking novel that I won’t easily forget.

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

3 #AudioBookReviews with family drama

AudioBookReviews

I’m still listening to audiobooks and it’s going very well thank you (I signed up for 3 months of audible at 2,99 £ so there’s definitely more to come too). I picked a few titles that interested me but that I wouldn’t necessary pick as a first choice to read. Normally that would mean I wouldn’t get to these books in the next 10 years but now, thanks to them being on audio and being able to squeeze in 15 or 30 minutes here and there, I can review them much sooner. 

Here are 3 audiobooks with some serious family drama and a bit of mystery. I loved Everything I Never Told You most of all but do check out Hurry Home and The Wife Stalker too! 

Hurry Home by Roz Nay

HurryHome audiobook

whats-it-about-2

Alexandra Van Ness has the perfect life. She lives in an idyllic resort town tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, shares a designer loft with her handsome boyfriend, Chase, and has her dream job working in child protection. Every day, Alex goes above and beyond to save children at risk.

But when her long-lost sister, Ruth, unexpectedly shows up at her door, Alex’s perfect life is upended. Growing up, Ruth was always the troublemaker, pulling Alex into her messes, and this time will be no different. Still, Alex will help Ruth under one condition: we will never, ever, talk about the past. But when trouble befalls a local child, both women are forced to confront the secrets they’ve promised to keep buried.

amazon uk

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars_1457015858_81_246_96_2

The novel is about two estranged sisters Alex and Ruth. Alex is introduced first showing her acting in her role as a child protection social worker. She seems devoted to the job, caring while her colleague Minerva doesn’t seem to see that a child is not properly being taken care of. She is righteous and dutiful but even her boss Morris lets himself be convinced by Minerva that the child in question, Buster, is fine to stay at home with his parents. Then Ruth shows up at her home, the sister she hasn’t seen in over 10 years, since Ruth ran away from home. Snippets of the past start to trickle in and something about that past is definitely off but I couldn’t put my finger on what we were dealing with. The change of perspective by each sister was interesting. The biggest question was establishing who the reliable sister was in the story because after a while they both seem quite fitting. It wasn’t a bad story but it didn’t really make me feel excited either.  

Hurry Home is a rather slow burning mystery or family drama, which kept me entertained but the narrator of the story (Hillary Huber) didn’t make the two voices very different so I didn’t feel as much difference between the sisters as I would have liked and it made listening a bit monotonous. 

Line

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

EverythingINeverToldYou

whats-it-about-2

Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee; a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue – in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the centre of every party. But Lydia is under pressures that have nothing to do with growing up in 1970s small town Ohio. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to make someone accountable, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is convinced that local bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest in the family – Hannah – who observes far more than anyone realises and who may be the only one who knows what really happened.

Everything I Never Told You is a gripping page-turner, about secrets, love, longing, lies and race.

amazon uk

review-2

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2 

Another family drama but one that touched me so much more. I really enjoyed listening to the soft spoken voice of the narrator (Cassandra Campbell) and the mystery why Lydia killed herself was quite compelling. Lydia had it all, she was a brilliant student and had lots of friends. She makes her parents proud and it’s safe to say that she’s their parents favorite child too. When her mother finds a packet of condoms in her backpack after her daughter died, it seems she didn’t know her so well after all. The author goes back to that one decisive moment in history that is the first drop in a bucket that will overflow in the end. The story behind their terrible loss takes root even before Hannah was born, with Marilyn’s longing to become a doctor herself. Things definitely took a different turn. 

Everything I Never Told You is a tragic story. It took me a few chapters to get into it, as I didn’t feel it at first when Marilyn and James meet at the university as student and professor in the beginning and their lives didn’t interest me as much, but once Lydia started telling her side of the story, I was completely sucked into it. Lydia is carrying a weight, she does everything to make her parents happy, even at her own cost. It is a story of loneliness, of being misunderstood, of not belonging neither here or there. It seems incomprehensible at the start why she would have killed herself but in the end the tragic nature that led to these deadly consequences is so clear. The story felt very real to me, the story and characters were well rounded and I recommend this audiobook with any reservations.

Line

The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine

TheWifeStalker

whats-it-about-2

Joanna and Leo seem to have the perfect relationship. Two adorable children, a beautiful house in a chic area of Connecticut – they have the kind of life people envy.

Then Piper moves to town. Piper is young, attractive, flirtatious. It’s almost no wonder Leo is tempted away…

Devastated, Joanna starts digging into Piper’s past, and discovers some very disturbing secrets – not least that Piper’s previous two husbands ended up dead. But Piper dismisses Joanna’s fears for her family as paranoia. Who is telling the truth? Joanna? Piper? The only certainty in this web of lies is that no one is who they appear to be…and no one will escape unscathed.

review-2

amazon uk

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

Another family oriented novel with two women telling the story, the only catch being that you don’t know who is telling the truth. It’s very much a Piper versus Joanna story and with Joanne pushed out of the picture and out of the lives of Leo and her children, it was easy to be on team Joanna from the start. The further into the story the more I questioned Piper’s character too. Her past raises some serious questions and Joanne is convinced Piper wants to harm her children. Is it true? Piper is having difficulties winning the children’s sympathy and it’s clear that Stellie’s behaviour is a struggle for her but would she really harm him? How will Joanna make Leo see Piper for who she really is? I didn’t really like Leo either for putting Joanna aside so casually while she stood by him during his depression and I didn’t understand at all why they chose to tell the children Evie and Stellie that their mother is dead and not let Joanna see them. I felt that quite insensitive and unnecessary. With hindsight it all made sense though.

It didn’t help that I loved the narration of Joanna’s voice so much more than Piper’s. I just noticed that both voices were actually narrated by Julia Whelan but for some reason I thought there were two narrators.

There is also one helluva twist in this novel that I didn’t see coming at all and for that alone it deserves at least 4 stars. Pulling this off takes amazing skill. 

A novel that kept me guessing what the deal was for the longest time!

His and Hers by Alice Feeney #BookReview

HisHers

whats-it-about-2

There are two sides to every story: yours and mine, ours and theirs, His & Hers. Which means someone is always lying.

When a woman is murdered in Blackdown, a quintessentially British village, newsreader Anna Andrews is reluctant to cover the case. Detective Jack Harper is suspicious of her involvement, until he becomes a suspect in his own murder investigation. Someone isn’t telling the truth, and some secrets are worth killing to keep.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

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

I’m waiting for the latest novel by Alice Feeney to arrive in my Capital Crime book subscription box so I wanted to read His & Hers before it arrives. I’ve had it for the longest time but had it saved up to read for when I would find myself in a reading slump. I know her books always deliver so it’s the perfect back-up, but I don’t want to create a big backpile, especially not when it comes to a favorite author.

There are chapters titled ‘Him’ in this novel, meaning Jack Harper, a DCI, called to a murder scene but it soon becomes clear he also has ties to the victim(s).

Then there’s ‘Her’, Anna Andrews, a BBC1 news presenter, recently demoted again to general news correspondent after two years of presenting the news as a news anchor. She is covering the news story about the murder in Blackdown. She knows this town really well and the victim seemed to have been a personal friend. Jack and Anna also know each other because Anna is Jack’s ex-wife.

Finally, there’s also the unnamed killer’s voice. Is it His or Hers? I simply didn’t know who to trust in this novel! Jack’s voice seemed more truthful while Anna’s (the one with the cliché drinking problem too) seemed to be more unreliable but I knew better than to simply go for the most obvious. The misdirections were very clever and just when I thought I finally knew whose voice I was reading the author pulled the rug from under my feet again. I was wrong again! Feeney keeps the story twisting until the very last pages.

However much I loved the story and the ingenious plotting which points in all directions, there is one small remark too. I did not enjoy the (however brief) mention of animal mutilation (nothing graphic either but the idea formed in my head didn’t make it any easier) so I was actually quite ok with the death of one victim who I found quite sympathetic at first but turned out to be so nasty. This will forever be a big no no for me.

If you want a novel to really surprise you, I highly recommend picking up any of Feeney’s novels. I can’t wait to read Rock, Paper, Scissors next!

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

No Exit by Taylor Adams #BookReview

NoExit def

whats-it-about-2

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm . . . and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

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

My nails are bitten to the quick, I couldn’t stop myself! I usually don’t go for action-packed books but I’m so happy I gave this one a chance. I was more than a little addicted to No Exit and I even sacrificed a little bit of sleep for it and god knows I already don’t have have any to spare.

No Exit is incredibly twisty, gripping and full of suspense. I had it on my e-reader for a while so I didn’t really remember what it was about, all I knew was that it was a locked-in type of novel and that was good enough for me because I love those, so even the fact that Darby finds someone – a child no less – in the back of a van was the first surprise for me. I could have withheld this info here but I see that it’s even mentioned in the blurb and honestly you don’t need to worry that I just told you one of the best parts, it’s only the start of a jam packed novel with twists you won’t see coming at all. I loved how unpredictable and volatile the situation became. The novel is full of nervous tension and danger.

Darby needs to survive the night but with no cell signal she can’t alert the police so it’s all up to her to take action and my god she’s literally a heroine, I rooted so much for her. She’s not naive at all because if she was she would have been dead very early on. First she has to find out who abducted the girl, whose car it is without raising suspicion, and then she has to outwit this person and at least try to free the little girl or find a way to get the police there as soon as possible. With no reception at all that’s easier said than done. It’s a race against the clock before the roads open again and of course things don’t go as smoothly as they should! Safe to say that she”ll have to risk her own life more than once in the process.

Be aware that there’s some torture involved so it’s certainly not a novel for softies and even I felt the impact of some of the graphic scenes. Two particular scenes come to mind and one at least made me squirm when I pictured it in my mind (and it’s easier than you think because I’m sure you and me have felt that particular pain that was inflicted for a fraction in the past) but if you ask me if I’d change anything about it then I have to say I wouldn’t change anything at all!

I really didn’t expect to be so blown away but the thrills just kept on coming and I don’t know how many times I held my breath. I can’t wait to read the other novels this author has written so far!

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

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas #BookReview

TheCheerleaders def

whats-it-about-2

There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

I was in the mood to read a Young Adult book and I bought this novel ages ago when it was in sales. I picked it up thinking it would be quite similar to A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder with another teen sleuth at the center of a murder mystery. It definitely had the same easy style of writing and they are both visually attractive, but there are multiple plotlines in this novel and the investigation of what happened in the past is also quite different between both novels.

The master sleuth of service in The Cheerleaders is Monica. She’s on the dance team at school while she might have been on the cheerleading team like her big sister Jennifer if the team hadn’t been disbanded after 5 girls of the team died. I’m not sure it matters (it doesn’t) but in all honesty, cheerleading team (from what I gained from flashbacks) and dance team (from the routines Monica shares) did feel quite similar to me.

Monica is still trying to make sense of her sister’s death. First two friends of her sister died in a car accident, then two were murdered for an unknown reason by their neighbour, and then Jennifer killed herself, no note, no nothing. It’s been 5 years but Monica still has trouble coping. She has always been convinced 5 deaths in a matter of only a few months were just too much of a coincidence. When she stumbles by accident upon some anonymous letters accusing her stepfather of not having done his job properly, and her sister’s old cell phone, she uses this device to do some digging and retrace her sister’s life in the last days. I did find it a little bit of a plothole to strike up a conversation with someone anonymous via a telephone number and doing everything possible to find out this person’s identity through every means possible other than simply calling the number with any sort of random excuse. It’s the first thing I would do or at least think about but then I guess it wouldn’t be so much fun if she had taken this shortcut. It would also mean she’d have a name but possibly not know the connection to her sister so it did maybe work out better in the end anyway. It also meant that Monica needed some extra help and she finds an ally in Ginny, another girl on the dance team who she didn’t really have much contact with before they teamed up, and I’d even say I warmed to Ginny possibly even more than to Monica.

I loved that there was so much going on, Monica has her own problems in the present and then there are various strings in the past too but it eventually remains quite focused on the murders of Susan and Juliana. I got a sense of what was going on via Jennifer’s POV but Monica was also doing her best to shed some extra light onto the friendship between the cheerleaders.

The last few chapters were packed with revelations, I did not guess the conclusion of any of the clever mysteries. There was however an imbalance as the revelation of one mystery fell a little flat for me. It was sort of shoved between the others, thus much shorter and rather matter of fact, the other two felt much more shocking and I wish it had felt the same way.

All in all I did enjoy The Cheerleaders, it had decent plotting, wasn’t shy of adding some heavier themes into the story, and I definitely want to try another of Kara Thomas’s novels the future.

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

Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas #BookReview

ThenSheVanishes def

whats-it-about-2

Jess and Heather were once best friends – until the night Heather’s sister Flora vanished. The night that lies tore their friendship apart.

But years later, when a brutal double murder shakes their childhood town, Jess returns home.

Because the suspect is Heather.

What happened to the girl you used to know?

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

star three and a half / 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars_1457015877_81_246_96_2

I became a fan of this author several years ago. I have not read all of her books yet but out of the four I did read so far, there are two titles I awarded with five stars (Local Girl Missing and Last Seen Alive) so with such a high score of course I put Then She Vanishes on my readlist after that.

The first pages of Then She Vanishes threw me right into the middle of a harrowing scene with someone murdering two people in their own home in cold blood. Who would do such a thing, and especially, why? The motive is not explained and puzzled me to no end. It kept me looking for clues throughout the whole novel. The alleged killer, Heather, fell into a coma after a botched suicide attempt so the only one who could get any closer to the truth turns out to be Jess, a reporter.

Jess used to be best friends with Heather but they had a falling out when they were teenagers. I really enjoyed the flashbacks when they still were best friends, before Heather’s sister Flora went missing. But what was it that tore their friendship apart? What is Jess feeling guilty about, what secret has she kept all these years? It kept playing on my mind, did it have anything to do with Flora’s disappearance? The author is in no hurry to tell but I loved speculating about what was covered up for so many years.

I came to know Heather as someone with good intentions, someone kind and caring and a good daughter to her mother, a stickler at following the rules as opposed to her big sister Flora who she adored, so her act of murdering two people seemed way out of character. Yet nothing is ever straightforward in Claire Douglas’s books and I have come to expect those twists and as always, I enjoyed many of them in this novel. One of them in particular came as a real shock, it was tragic and showed a dark side of life that I hadn’t counted on.

The different plotlines of the past and the present are in some way connected and the author brings everything brilliantly together. There was only one twist that I expected from early on and it’s a big one so I was hoping someone – if not Jess, the police perhaps – would see the clue for what it was but no, the police was quite absent in the story and no help at all. I had to wait a little too long for it to come out so that was one big omg-moment I missed but that’s the only thing I can complain about and if I hadn’t know I’d have given it a star more. If you want clever twists and turns this is an author you need to read for sure.

Then She Vanishes is quite a brilliant whydunnit against an intriguing backdrop of family and friendship.

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