White Lies

White Lies

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Bookouture

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Daughter

Synopsis:

Alexandra Inglis is a respected family doctor, trusted by her patients to keep their most intimate secrets. And if sometimes the boundaries between duty and desire blur… well, she’s only human. 

But when Alex oversteps a line with Jonathan, one of her patients, she knows she’s gone too far. Jonathan is obsessive, and to get what he wants he will tear Alex’s world apart – threatening not only her career but her marriage and family too. 

Soon Alex finds she’s capable of doing almost anything to keep hold of her perfect life, as it begins to spin dangerously out of her control… 

Thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed Lucy Dawson’s The Daughter so when I read about White Lies, I immediately wanted to read it. Luckily for me, the lovely people over at Bookouture approved my request to read it. This book immediately grabbed my attention. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t had to go out I would have devoured it quicker than the 24 hours it took me to read it!

It centres around Alex who is a GP who loves her job. She’s respected within her practice and by those that work with her. Alex knows the ethics behind relationships with patients, having had experience in the past with her now husband. On a girly holiday with her friends, Alex sleeps with a young man. She never expected him to turn up in her office. He says she knows who he was. She says she’s never seen him before or has no recollection of seeing him before. After all, she sees so many patients a day. The story turns into a he said, she said, with many points of view and parts of the story. I really couldn’t put it down!

It’s so hard to review a book like this without giving too much away. It’s one of those that you want to discover as the story reveals itself. I don’t think I’ve ever jumped around so much with who was telling the truth. I really didn’t know who to believe. I wanted to believe Alex, but then Jonathan, the young man in question, made me think again. Also Alex’s previous history didn’t really help her case. I loved the uncertainty of the story though, I really did. It kept me desperately turning the pages!

I thought I had got to the truth, but I hadn’t. It took the last few pages for me to work it out which I loved. I really enjoyed the fast paced style and how nothing was straight forward. It read like a testimonial which was very interesting. There were twists along the way and a whole lot of doubt. I love that in this type of read. This is a book that will stay with me for a while!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I love it when you can’t work out characters! A fabulous read!

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Talking About ‘The Marriage Pact’ with Bibliobeth!

The Marriage Pact: For fans of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact, and most of its rules make sense: Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples–and then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life, and The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this book before starting it?

BETH: A few, yes I did indeed. First of all, it’s on the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club list for 2018 and I normally trust the novels they pick as being compelling reads so I was looking forward to it on that count. Secondly, I’ve heard a lot of good things about this novel from bloggers I admire and whose opinions I trust. As a result, I went into it with slightly raised expectations, expecting a fantastic, memorable read. Now I have such mixed feelings I don’t know where to start!

BETH: Did you believe in Jake and Alice’s relationship? Do you think their marriage will last beyond the novel?

CHRISSI: I did actually. You could tell as a reader that they really did love each other. There were moments when I felt like Jake felt more deeply for Alice than vice versa, but in the main part I did believe in them. Alice did have moments of vulnerability which made me realise how she felt. I thought they both wanted the best out of their marriage. Whether joining The Pact was a way to go about it, I don’t know. As for whether it would last beyond the novel? I’m not sure. They went through so much together and perhaps they’d take the best bits out of The Pact to improve on in the future?

CHRISSI: What do you think motivates people to join cults such as The Pact? What motivates Jake and Alice in particular?

BETH: I have no idea! Personally, I would never be tempted to join a group like this especially when we find out further along the novel what they are really like. Jake and Alice however, although they clearly love each other dearly are motivated to join The Pact as it is advertised to them as simply a way of making sure they have a happy marriage and are unlikely to ever get divorced. They are sold completely on this idea and perhaps Alice feels a bit vulnerable, really wanting her marriage to work. Of course, it all seems completely above board and just a lovely thing to be a participant of, as well as making new friends so they don’t hesitate in signing up.

BETH: What were the best/worst parts of this novel for you?

CHRISSI: Ooh what a tricky question. As I mentioned to you when we were reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to rate it. That’s mainly because some of it I thought was bloody brilliant and other parts made my skin crawl. What I liked about this book was that it certainly kept me turning the pages. I’m not so sure it was always in the right way that I wanted to continue. Mainly I was like ‘WTF am I reading?’ but perhaps that was the author’s intention? It certainly got me thinking and reading. I didn’t want to put it down. The worst parts were when really disgusting things happened to a person and Jake enjoyed (?) it!

CHRISSI: Did you ever feel like this book was too much?

BETH: And so it begins…In a word, yes. At times, I really felt like I had to suspend my disbelief in what was going on to Jake and Alice and this normally wouldn’t bother me in a novel. I love a bit of fantasy, a bit of uncertainty and a thrilling plot that just takes you along for the ride and in some ways, this is exactly what I got. However, at some points I’m afraid to say my eyebrows remained perfectly raised and I just thought erm….really?! I think there’s only so far you can go with pushing the boundaries of what people will believe and if you step over that line, there is a real chance you’re going to lose that reader. Unfortunately by the last third of the book, this was definitely the case with me. Then there were those scenes…… where Alice is chained and being taken away and Jake gets turned on. Then another woman is naked in a jail cell and looks a bit unkempt and has obviously been treated violently, AND HE GETS TURNED ON. I mean, really? Did she have to go all Fifty Shades on us? Quite unnecessary and frankly, a bit warped and creepy. It is a shame because I did really enjoy parts of this novel, it was just these other parts that foxed me a little bit and lowered an otherwise “brilliant” rating.

BETH: Did you find this book thrilling or suspenseful at all?

CHRISSI: For me, thrilling? No. I didn’t think it was a particularly thrilling read because as I mentioned, some parts really didn’t work for me and made me feel uncomfortable in a way that made me want to stop reading. Suspenseful? Totally. I was intrigued and wanted to know what was going to happen next. I really was captivated…just not always in a positive way.

CHRISSI: Are there any rules of The Pact that you think could strengthen a marriage? Are the principles behind the extreme methods sound, or not?

BETH: Apologies for the above rant. I had a few issues! Yes, I think some of the rules were quite good for strengthening a marriage. Things like making sure you go on holiday with each other often to get away from it all. buying a gift no matter how silly every month I think is nice and obviously, prioritising each others feelings and wants and not letting work get in the way to much. However, the extreme methods that The Pact goes to when enforcing these principles are in no way sound and are very frightening. I couldn’t believe that Jake and Alice put up with what they did for so long!

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Tricky one. I really think it depends on the subject matter. She can clearly write but I’m not sure the content is my sort of thing!

Would we recommend it?

BETH: Yes!

CHRISSI: A tentative yes!

The Daughter

The Daughter

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Bookouture

Synopsis:

You lost your daughter. You will never forgive yourself. And now someone’s determined to make you pay… 

Seventeen years ago, something happened to Jess’s daughter Beth. The memory of it still makes her blood run cold. Jess has tried everything to make peace with that day, and the part she played in what happened. It was only a brief moment of desire… but she’ll pay for it with a lifetime of guilt. 

To distance herself from the mistakes of the past, Jess has moved away and started over with her family. But when terrifying things begin happening in her new home, seemingly connected to what happened to Beth, Jess knows that her past has finally caught up with her. Somebody feels Jess hasn’t paid enough, and is determined to make her suffer for the secrets she’s kept all these years. 

Thoughts:

I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis of this book. I’m very into my thrillers which you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of my blog.

The Daughter starts with something awful happening to Jess’s daughter Beth. Seventeen years later, Jess is trying to move on and make peace with the past and the part she played. However, no-one can get over such a tragic event, especially when there’s guilt there. Jess has moved away and started over with her family. When looking to move into a new home, years later, terrifying things start to happen to Jess which seem to be connected to Beth. Someone seems determined to make Jess pay…

This book immediately gripped me when it started with the incident at school. I’m pretty sure it’s a common fear in parents…a call to say your child has been rushed to hospital. Terrifying. Even as a devoted Auntie, I would be so anxious to take that call. Immediately, the author humanises our main character Jess. I sympathised with her. Beth’s funeral was an incredibly hard moment to read about. It was then I realised that Lucy Dawson had completely captured my attention.

I loved this book because it contained so many secrets and lies. Secrets and lies always catch up eventually and it was a matter of when they were going to catch up with the characters. It’s such a fast paced plot and it’s so easy to just keep turning the pages and reading.

Jess isn’t an easy character to understand at times. She makes some horrific decisions but I could always see why she had made the decisions she did. She wasn’t always likeable, but she was understandable.  Some of the other characters were simply fascinating as well. I loved watching their stories unravel. This really is a fantastic psychological thriller, but one that’ll tug at your heart strings.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This was quite an emotional read! I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller!

Watching Edie

Watching Edie

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Beautiful, creative, a little wild… Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then—but it didn’t take long for her to learn that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to.

Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there’s no one to turn to…

But someone’s been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be. It’s no coincidence that Heather shows up on Edie’s doorstep, just when Edie needs her the most. So much has passed between them—so much envy, longing, and betrayal. And Edie’s about to learn a new lesson: those who have hurt us deeply—or who we have hurt—never let us go, not entirely…

Thoughts:

I remember seeing this book in a bookshop in Bath a few years back. I finally got my hands on a copy. I was really expecting to be blown away by this book but for me, it was a decent read but not one that will stay with me for a long time.

Watching Edie is an interesting story using before and after to tell its tale. One tale is narrated by Edie and the other Heather. It opens with Edie answering the door to Heather. They were good friends in school, but a terrible event tore them apart. They hadn’t seen each other in years although Edie always had Heather on her mind. As soon as they reunite, you’re made to feel quite uncomfortable. There’s a lot of tension. Edie turns out to be pregnant and Heather steps in to help her when Edie suffers after the birth. All through the period of Heather ‘helping’ Edie, I felt uncomfortable. Edie begins to become suspicious of Heather. She’s not sure why she’s turned up after all this time and their past.

This is a tale of obsession and uncertainty. It makes you feel uncomfortable. The author cleverly makes you think one thing and then throws a curveball when you find out the truth. I don’t want to say anything more as I don’t want to ruin it for others. Let’s just say there’s more to this story than first meets the eye!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Not my favourite psychological thriller but a good read!

The Hours Before Dawn

The Hours Before Dawn

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Louise would give anything – anything – for a good night’s sleep. Forget the girls running errant in the garden and bothering the neighbours. Forget her husband who seems oblivious to it all. If the baby would just stop crying, everything would be fine.

Or would it? What if Louise’s growing fears about the family’s new lodger, who seems to share all of her husband’s interests, are real? What could she do, and would anyone even believe her? Maybe, if she could get just get some rest, she’d be able to think straight.

In a new edition of this lost classic, The Hours Before Dawn proves – scarily – as relevant to readers today as it was when Celia Fremlin first wrote it in the 1950s. 

Thoughts:

I was immediately intrigued by this book because it was billed as the original psychological thriller. If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of thrillers. This book was originally published in the 1950s. I was interested to see how it translated now.

The Hours Before Dawn tells the story of Louise who has recently had a baby boy who just won’t stop crying. She has two girls and a husband to keep as well. Louise’s life appears to be falling apart and her husband is pretty oblivious to everything around him. He is annoyed about the baby crying all the time and puts pressure on Louise to sort it all out.  Others around Louise believe she is spiralling into madness. But is it madness or something else? Louise’s new lodger is not quite what she seems. Louise is suspicious that something is happening with the lodger, but not many believe Louise…

I really liked how the author didn’t seem to throw us any clues. It could have been Louise going mad or the lodger getting up to something. It was hard to believe in a character, they are both quite unreliable and I loved that element of the story. Celia Fremlin was clearly a talented author. She writes such great characters and doesn’t easily give away what’s happening. I found it to be a creepy read and interesting look into 1950s life.

I think part of my problem with the story is that it hasn’t aged as well as it could have done. Sure, if you read it in the mindset that it was the 1950s then you can imagine that Louise was a perfect character to represent a stay at home mum/wife. I think women now are much more likely to fight against that type of life.

I think you’d enjoy this book if you like to read a high quality, mysterious, creepy read.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I’m glad I read this book! Celia Fremlin was clearly a talented writer!

Talking About ‘The Roanoke Girls’ with Bibliobeth!

The Roanoke Girls

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Vowing to discover the fate of her missing cousin, a woman returns to her family’s Kansas estate where she spent one haunting summer as a teen, and where she discovered the dark heart of the Roanoke clan that left her no choice but to run.

Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her maternal grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, at the Roanoke family estate in rural Osage Flats, Kansas, following the suicide of her mother. Lane knows little of her mother’s family, other than the fact that her mother ran away years before and cut off all contact with her parents. Allegra, abandoned by her own mother at birth and raised by her grandparents, introduces Lane to small-town life and the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But there is darkness at the heart of the Roanoke family, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull she has no choice but to run, as far and as fast as she can.

Eleven years later, Lane is scraping by in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls with the news that Allegra has gone missing. “Come home,” he beckons. Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to Osage Flats, determined to find her cousin and assuage her own guilt at having left Allegra behind all those years ago. Her return might mean a second chance with Cooper, the boyfriend whom she loved and destroyed that fateful summer. But it also means facing the terrible secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between the summer of Lane’s first arrival and the summer of her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

CHRISSI: What did you make of Amy Engel’s first step into adult fiction?

BETH: I haven’t actually read any of her young adult fiction so I wasn’t sure what to expect from her writing. I’m really glad now that I went into this book not knowing what to expect as I think that’s definitely the way it should be read. I had heard so much buzz about it on Twitter and read some really great reviews from bloggers I love and trust so I was really excited to get stuck in. I also managed to avoid any spoilers which is fantastic as this is definitely a book that could be spoiled if a reviewer isn’t careful.

BETH: You had some quite conflicting feelings about this novel. Can you try and explain them?

CHRISSI: I can’t really articulate my feelings around this book because they’re so complex! At some points I thought it was brilliantly dark and deeply disturbing which I don’t mind in a book. I didn’t like any of the characters…again, not something that bothers me, so it can’t exactly be that. It’s incredibly hard to explain my feelings about this book in a way that doesn’t spoil it for future readers. Let’s just say, I didn’t like the way some aspects of the book weren’t challenged by the characters. I couldn’t feel empathy with them because of that. No one seemed to care or challenge issues. That frustrated me.

CHRISSI: Discuss the complex relationship between Lane and Allegra.

BETH: Lane and Allegra are cousins and when Lane’s mother dies, she comes to live at the Roanoke house with her grandfather, grandmother and cousin Allegra who has been raised there from a baby. At first, the two girls are delighted to be reunited and desperate to get to know each other, especially as they are of a similar age. It isn’t long though before tensions mount and their relationship becomes a lot more fragile which is one of the many factors that leads to Lane leaving and Allegra disappearing.

BETH: Without spoilers, did the main shock of the novel come as a big surprise to you?

CHRISSI: It didn’t. I started to guess what was going on as the story progressed. I was hoping it wasn’t going to be that way, but it was! This book is disturbing and I do feel that it should be approached with caution if you’re sensitive about some subjects that could trigger you.

CHRISSI: Discuss the small town setting of the novel and what this adds to the story.

BETH: Amy Engel captures all the quirks of a small town perfectly. Everybody knows who everybody else is and this means they also think that they’re entitled to know all their business too. There isn’t much to do in the town, purely because of the size of it and its distance from neighbouring towns so this gives some of the inhabitants, particularly our female protagonist Lane, the feeling of being too tightly enclosed and trapped. We also see when Lane returns as an adult how many things have stayed exactly the same (including people that she has left behind) and how frustrating this is for her as she fights to be free.

BETH: How do you think this book sits in the genre?

CHRISSI: I think it stands out as a book that is quite polarising. I can imagine some people will love its deep and dark subject matter. Others like me, would hope for some more sensitivity given the subject matter. It’s certainly a dark and gritty read. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind reading this book and it didn’t take long to read…it’s just not something I’d personally re-read.

CHRISSI: I had a love/hate relationship with this book. How did you feel about it?

BETH: I know you had quite an interesting reading experience with The Roanoke Girls where you couldn’t quite make up your mind whether you liked it or hated it but for me I think it was a bit more black and white. I did really enjoy this novel, purely because it was so dark and twisty which was a welcome bonus – I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be as disturbing as it was! I didn’t particularly like any of the characters at all but I don’t think you have to like a character to appreciate a good story either, sometimes I feel the best novels are where you have such strong feelings of DISLIKE for a character! It also had a great little twist at the end which I kind of guessed just before the final scene but was still a fantastic end to the novel.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I think I would. I didn’t hate the writing style, I found it particularly engaging! I would be interested to read the YA fiction that the author has had published!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! (With caution)

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 written 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!