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!

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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!

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 psychological 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!