Then She Was Gone

Then She Was Gone

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

The Girls

Synopsis:

THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her.  And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. 

NOW 
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter. And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet. Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away. 

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. 

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? Who still has secrets to hide?

Thoughts:

I’m a massive fan of this genre, which you’ll know if you’ve been around my blog for a while. My sister Beth and I recently read Lisa Jewell’s The Girls and really enjoyed it so I was intrigued to read this one. Especially after Beth raved about it. I found Then She Was Gone to be such a compelling read. I couldn’t put it down and easily could have read it in one sitting if I had the time!

It follows the story of Laurel whose fifteen-year-old daughter disappeared one day. Laurel and the rest of her children were so close to Ellie and her loss affects the whole family. Ten long years later, Laurel finds out that there’s updates on the case. Unfortunately for the family, Ellie’s remains have been found. With some closure, Laurel begins to move forward. She meets a man called Floyd who brings back some joy into her life. Laurel is introduced to his girls and is struck by the similarities between his daughter Poppy and her Ellie. The truth about what happened around the time Ellie was missing comes to light. Laurel isn’t sure whether she should be trusting Floyd but she’s desperate to find out what happened.

As I mentioned, I have read so many thrillers. So many are a bit samey, but I was impressed with Then She Was Gone. It kept me turning the pages. Although I had guessed what had happened to Ellie, I was still compelled to keep reading. Desperate to see if I was right. I also didn’t know exactly how the thing I thought (sorry, no spoilers!) had happened. Therefore guessing the twist didn’t affect my enjoyment. 

I loved the narrative! It’s broken up into different parts, thinking about then and present day times. As a reader, you get to read from the main character’s point of view and I love that. I felt like it gave a really well rounded look at the story.

Lisa Jewell’s writing is exceptional. I am seriously considering checking out the other books that she’s read as I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve read so far. I love getting into the minds of her ‘bad’ characters. It’s fascinating!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book comes highly recommended if you’re a fan of the thriller/mystery genre!

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Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed Doors

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about this book. SO much. As a lover of physiological thrillers, I knew it had to be a book that I picked up. I bought a copy, but have taken a while to get around to it. I wish I hadn’t as it was a bloomin’ brilliant psychological thriller. It’s definitely dark and twisted, so if that’s what you like in your thrillers…then I’d recommend picking up this book. It’s a book where you have to suspend your disbelief. It’s a tad far fetched but I loved it nevertheless.

Behind Closed Doors tells the story of Jack and Grace. On the surface, they look like the perfect couple. They are incredibly well matched and their love for each other is clear to see. However, when everyone leaves their parties, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want to be Jack and Grace. No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors…

I immediately didn’t trust Jack, (but maybe that says more about me) he seemed too good to be true. He was highly successful, defending victims of domestic violence and was desperate to have Grace’s sister who has Downs Syndrome living with them. Hmm… I started to wonder if there was more to him than met the eye? No one is that perfect, right?

I thought this book was an incredible read. I didn’t want to put it down. It’s one that can easily be read in a day. It may not be full of amazing twists and turns, but it’s a shocking read and that’s what makes you turn the pages. B.A. Paris has really created a wonderfully tense atmosphere. I loved how the author used past and present moments to tell their story. I don’t always enjoy books told in this way, but it was great to see Jack and Grace’s relationship from the start and to ‘witness’ the moment that things started going wrong for them.

I would highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a fast paced thriller!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic debut! I hope B.A Paris writes more in the future!

Last Seen Alive

Last Seen Alive

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

The Hero

Libby Hall never really wanted to be noticed. But after she saves the children in her care from a fire, she finds herself headline news. And horrified by the attention. It all reminds her of what happened nine years ago. The last time she saw her best friend alive.

The Swap

Which is why the house swap is such a godsend. Libby and her husband Jamie exchange their flat in Bath for a beautiful, secluded house in Cornwall. It’s a chance to heal their marriage – to stop its secrets tearing them apart.

The Hideaway

But this stylish Cornish home isn’t the getaway they’d hoped for. They make odd, even disturbing, discoveries in the house. It’s so isolated-yet Libby doesn’t feel entirely alone. As if she’s being watched.

Is Libby being paranoid? What is her husband hiding? And. As the secrets and lies come tumbling out, is the past about to catch up with them?

Thoughts:

Beth really enjoyed this book when she read it in August. She told me I had to read it ASAP. I can totally see why she wanted me to read this book as it was such an engaging, gripping read. I could barely put it down! Claire Douglas has a fabulous writing style and I will definitely try to read more from her.

Last Seen Alive tells the story of Libby and Jamie. They haven’t been married long but are having some problems. They need to get away to reconnect with one another. Libby is a teacher and has just experienced something awful at work. She finds a leaflet about a house swap and encourages Jamie to house swap with another couple in Cornwall. She thinks a getaway will help them connect once more and get away from their troubles. Immediately, things start going wrong. Libby doesn’t know if she’s just paranoid or if there’s something more sinister going on.

I thought this book was absolutely fantastic. I didn’t see where it was going and the twist was so incredibly well crafted. I loved how the story was split into parts and when the twist was revealed it was intrigued to read about what had happened in the past that led Libby to where she was. I didn’t see it coming. Claire Douglas has created such a tense atmosphere in this story. I didn’t feel like I fully trusted any character as I was so suspicious of them all.

I highly recommend picking up this book if you’re into thrillers. It’s not one to miss.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A twisty, tense thriller. I loved it!

The Trophy Child

The Trophy Child

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

A doting mother or a pushy parent?

Karen Bloom expects perfection. Her son, Ewan, has been something of a disappointment and she won’t be making the same mistake again with her beloved, talented child, Bronte.

Bronte’s every waking hour will be spent at music lessons and dance classes, doing extra schoolwork and whatever it takes to excel. 

But as Karen pushes Bronte to the brink, the rest of the family crumbles. Karen’s husband, Noel, is losing himself in work, and his teenage daughter from his first marriage, Verity, is becoming ever more volatile. The family is dangerously near breaking point. 

Karen would know when to stop . . . wouldn’t she?

Thoughts:

I absolutely loved Paula Daly’s writing as you might tell from my reviews of her previous books. She’s definitely one of my auto-buy authors. I immediately purchase a copy of her books! I thoroughly enjoyed The Trophy Child. 

It centres around a family with one hell of a pushy mother. Bronte is just ten and has a schedule of music lessons and extra curricular activities alongside extra homework set by her mother. Karen wants the best for her child, but she’s pushing Bronte far too hard. However, the relationship between Bronte and her mother isn’t the only relationship with cracks within the Bloom household. Noel Bloom is a successful doctor, but he’s drinking a lot and avoiding his home life with Karen. Noel had cheated on his first wife Jennifer when Karen became pregnant with Bronte. Jennifer is in a nursing home due to her MS. Their daughter, Verity, has to live with her Dad and Karen. Also in the Bloom household, is Ewan, a child from Karen’s previous relationship. He appears to be amounting to nothing, which results in Bronte being used as ‘the trophy child.’ Complex, you’d have to agree. The cracks are really starting to appear in the family and with an attack, disappearances and something much worse… the family really do fall to pieces, but who is to blame?

Paula Daly is a genius at creating characters. I can’t say that one was badly written within this story. I disliked Karen right from the start. I can’t stand pushy mothers and Karen really takes things to the extreme. I loved the characters of Verity and Bronte and enjoyed reading about their connection despite the difficulties that are going on in the household.

I adore when characters return from a previous book. It makes me feel entirely connected to the story. It feels like a community created by the author. I love that feeling of familiarity. Joanne Aspinall, a police officer from Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? appears in this story, determined to find out just what’s going on with the Bloom household. It was lovely to read more from her point of view.

Paula Daly is still one of my favourite writers. Her writing style is incredibly engaging. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. As I mentioned, she’s wonderful at creating such complex characters and her story lines are so well crafted. I highly recommend reading Paula Daly if you haven’t already.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic read! Paula Daly is so underrated. Pick this up if you enjoy meaty thrillers!

Talking About ‘The Betrayals’ with Bibliobeth!

The Betrayals

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

When Rosie Rankin’s best friend has an affair with her husband, the consequences reverberate down through the lives of two families.

Relationships are torn apart. Friendships shattered. And childish innocence destroyed.

Her daughter Daisy’s fragile hold on reality begins to unravel when a letter arrives that opens up all the old wounds. Rosie’s teenage son Max blames himself for everything which happened that long hot summer. And her brittle ex-husband Nick has his own version of events.

As long-repressed memories bubble to the surface, the past has never seemed more present and the truth more murky.

Sometimes there are four sides to every story.

Who do you believe?

Told through the eyes of four members of the same family, The Betrayals takes an unflinching look at contemporary family life, explores the nature of memory and desire and asks whether some things can ever be forgiven.

 

CHRISSI: Had you heard of the author before reading this book?

BETH: I have to be honest and say no, I hadn’t. Looking at the author’s back-list of books however, the cover of The Good Girl does ring a few bells so perhaps I had seen it around when it was released. I’m really pleased that Richard and Judy picked this book for their book club here in the UK as it’s definitely brought an author to my attention that I wasn’t really aware of before.

BETH: Were you aware while reading that some characters’ narratives were unreliable? If so, at what point did you start to realise this? Why do you think people mis-remember significant events?

CHRISSI: It took me a while to realise this. I think it was about half way through when I started to question every character. I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when I thought ‘Hmmm…’ but I started to become uncomfortable with some of the characters throughout the novel and as the intensity built. I think it’s interesting that people do mis-remember significant events. Perhaps we build things up in our memory or remember the parts of it that we want to, meaning that sometimes we mis-remember the parts we don’t want to remember fondly! Memory is such a strange thing to me. I can’t explain it!

CHRISSI: This is part thriller, part family drama. Explore the family relationships in the novel.

BETH: I loved the mixture of thriller and drama in this novel. Throughout it all, there’s this element of mystery and unreliable narrators (which I always adore!). The relationships are particularly fraught in this story for a variety of reasons but mainly due to the divorce between Rosie and Nick which affect both their children, Daisy and Max in different ways. Daisy and Max blame their father for what has happened and this affects their relationship with him in the present time and especially with his new fiancee, Lisa. There are so many other relationships to be explored in this novel though. We also have the relationship of Lisa with her children and her ex husband Barney which is very fragile and the relationship between the siblings and step-siblings which is difficult because of Daisy’s OCD and events that have happened between the four children in the past when Rosie and Nick were still a couple.

BETH: The strongest bond in this novel is the bond between Daisy and Max rather than between the children and their parents. Why do you think this is?

CHRISSI: I think Daisy and Max are always there for each other from their childhood. They had such a strong bond. Daisy became reliant on Max when she was completing her OCD rituals. Daisy and Max stick together despite their parent’s relationship falling apart around them. I saw Daisy and Max as a team, despite Max being frustrated by Daisy’s OCD. Max felt guilt for something he had done to Daisy and I think his guilt made him want to be there for her in later years.

CHRISSI: Discuss the portrayal of Daisy’s OCD in the novel.

BETH: It’s great to see any portrayal of mental health in novels and making sufferers feel that they are not alone is so vitally important. I am not a sufferer myself but I thought the OCD was portrayed really well and quite sensitively and it certainly made me feel more sympathetic to those people that have no choice but to live with the condition. It also taught me things I hadn’t been previously aware of like its effect on other people around the sufferer and how it can have knock on effects on health, memory etc.

BETH: Who betrays who in this novel? In your opinion which is the worst betrayal?

CHRISSI: Goodness, it’s more like who doesn’t betray in this novel! I’m actually torn between the worst betrayal. I hate when best friend’s betray, I hate when partner’s betray… basically none of it sits right with me. I actually found Nick’s betrayal to be the most heartbreaking. He lets down his wife and his children. 😦 Bad times!

CHRISSI: I found myself disappointed by the ending. Without spoilers, what did you make of the ending?

BETH: I think I texted you ARRRGH at the time of reading it? Yes, that’s exactly how I felt. I had thoroughly enjoyed the story from the very first page and perhaps my expectations were a bit high but I wasn’t entirely happy with how open ended and unresolved the ending felt to me. I understand that maybe the author wanted us to make up our own minds about what happens next and sometimes I love this in novels but in this story, it felt frustrating and I was desperate to know what happened next.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would! Even though I was SUPER frustrated by the ending. It had gripped me from the start and then I was annoyed by the unresolved, open ending. Others I’m sure would love it though!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

Blog Tour- The House by Simon Lelic

The House

How did I get it?:
I received it from Penguin Random House for the blog tour!

Synopsis:

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…

Thoughts:

I was incredibly intrigued by the publicity around this book. I was sent a postcard and key in the post. I had to visit the website and ‘unlock’ my advanced reading copy. I was immediately gripped by this and was so intrigued by the book.

I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about this book. I was so excited to pick it up to start to read it as it sounded like something I’d really enjoy. I’m a massive fan of all things thriller. The House doesn’t follow your average thriller narration which is something that I really respected and bought into. It seemed more like a mystery in places.

The House centres around Jack and Sydney who are hopeful that they’ll get a house in London. They have been saving for a while and looking for their dream home. One day, they attend an Open Day of a house that ticks all of their boxes. The owner has gone to Australia to be with someone he met online. The owner has left the house completely furnished. Jack and Sydney put in an offer not expecting to get the house. Totally unexpectedly, Jack and Sydney get the house. Jack feels uncomfortable about the house and his feelings don’t change, especially when he finds stuff in the attic…

Jack and Sydney tell their story in the form of journal entries. The narration is different because it’s clear that the couple are writing for the purpose of showing someone. I really enjoyed the narration in The House. I loved how we got to see the story from each point of view and I particularly enjoyed the moments when they spoke to each other within their entry. Using this narration, meant the story unfolded slowly. It was clear that something had happened and for quite some time the reader doesn’t know. I think this definitely helped to keep my interest. Through this medium, the reader learns about many events both past and present. We learn that Sydney had an awful childhood and that she has lost her sister (I don’t want to say too much about this as it will spoil the reading experience!) Sydney befriends a little girl called Evie who reminds her of herself when she was younger. They go through very similar experiences and Sydney is determined to help Evie before it’s too late.

I was creeped out by this book at many points, it’s in no way a scary book, but there are some very unsettling things that happen. I hate (but really love) when I don’t know who to trust and that was totally the case with this book.

This book has really dark themes. There’s strong language, drug use and some quite explicit content. It’s about how something in the past can impact on your present day life. I was gripped at the start and the unique narration kept me turning the pages. The writing is good and the pace is quick. It’s certainly an easy book to read. I did guess who was responsible for some of the incidents in the book which was a shame, but I didn’t necessarily see the ending coming!

Would I recommend it?
Yes! 3.5 stars!

Click on the blog tour poster for clearer details!

Close To Me

Close To Me

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

She can’t remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia-she’s lost a whole year of memories. A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can’t remember what she did-or what happened the night she fell. But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

Thoughts:

Beth is basically one of the biggest book pushers in my life. Ha! She recommended Close To Me after reading it and enjoying it earlier this year. I’m pleased that I read it because I thought it was a wonderful debut novel. It gripped me from the very beginning and I was eager to find out what was going to happen next.

Close To Me centres around our main protagonist Jo. Jo has had an accident which results in her losing her memories of the past year. This leaves Jo questioning what has happened and why her family don’t seem to be telling her the truth. Jo is convinced that her grown up children and her husband are keeping things from her, but with only snippets of memories coming back to her, she doesn’t know what to believe anymore.

Although this isn’t the most unique psychological thriller that I’ve read, it was still an engaging and exciting read. I was eager to find out about the secrets that were being hidden. I wanted to know whether Jo had fell down the stairs or whether she was pushed. I was questioning every single thing, not sure whether to distrust Jo’s family or not. There were just so many questions to be answered!

The narration goes between Jo’s point of view in the year that she had lost and Jo’s present day life. Using this narrative was effective because the reader got to learn about Jo’s life before the accident. I liked this element of the story as it meant that the reader could learn about Jo’s past as the memories were revealed to her too.

I didn’t think much of Jo’s family. I couldn’t really warm to any of them. I didn’t trust some of them and I wondered why Jo’s children weren’t more concerned with her memory loss! I found Sash (her daughter) in particular to be a very irritating character. I desperately wanted her to be there for her mother… and she just wasn’t!

There may be many books like Close To Me in the genre, but it’s an addictive read and a very promising debut nevertheless!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

An addictive read and promising debut novel!