He Said/She Said

He Said/She Said

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

Synopsis:

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever. Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear, and while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something, and someone, is always in the dark.

Thoughts:

I have really enjoyed Erin Kelly’s books in the past, so when Beth badgered me to read this one, it didn’t take me long to decide to bump it up my TBR. I had seen so much buzz around it in the blogosphere that I was somewhat nervous to read it. That hype monster gets books all too often.

He Said/She Said is about a couple Laura and Kit. Kit is an eclipse chaser and travels around the world to be present at each eclipse event, if the weather permits it. Laura starts to become more interested in Kit’s hobby and begins to travel with him. It is at a special eclipse festival in 1999, that Laura and Kit witness a terrible event. Laura sees more than Kit, but Kit sees enough for it to haunt them years later in their lives. The story alternates between Laura and Kit, both in the present time and events in the past. In the present, the couple have changed their names and have no presence on social media. Laura is suffering from anxiety following the awful situation and the aftermath. Slowly, the truth about what happened in 1999 is revealed…

It’s so hard to review thrillers when you don’t want to give too much away for those that haven’t read it. I loved the fact that the truth was slowly drip fed to the reader. I was desperate to know what had happened to Kit and Laura to make them so fearful of being found. I thought Erin Kelly used the slow reveal sublimely. It certainly kept me turning the pages.

I, in no way, predicted the ending. It was one that actually made my eyes widen! If you’re looking for a decent thriller that’ll keep you guessing, then try He Said/She Said. 

Would I recommend it?:
Of course! 4.5 stars

A simply excellent thriller!

Her Husband’s Lover

Her Husband's Lover

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

Synopsis:

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start. Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died. 

Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though. 

But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie. And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.

Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her?

Thoughts:

Pre-blogging days, Julia Crouch was one of my favourite psychological thriller authors. With Her Husband’s Lover, Julia cements herself as a favourite of mine in the genre. I was absolutely gripped by this story and couldn’t put it down. It’s so gritty! Just what I love in a psychological thriller.

Louisa Williams has had a pretty horrendous past and she’s desperate for a fresh start. Louisa’s husband is dead. He died in a car crash. Sam was chasing Louisa and their two children when the crash occurred. Louisa always thought that Sam would never hurt her, but he betrayed her with a woman named Sophie. Sophie is determined to take what Louisa has left. She wants the life she should have had if Sam had lived.

This really was an amazingly crafted psychological thriller. Julia Crouch has such a way of creating such terrible characters. I don’t mean badly written. I mean shockingly awful people that are easy to dislike. I love those sort of characters. I actually said out loud ‘Oooh, she’s a messed up woman!’ I had to remind myself that it wasn’t real! So sucked into the story.

The two female characters Louisa and Sophie are incredibly well written. I can’t say that I liked any of them, but I loved to read from their points of view. Their interactions with each other were intense and their relationship was completely toxic as you might expect. I don’t often like a dual point of view that goes from past to present but Julia Crouch creates such a great narrative in this story.

I couldn’t stop turning the pages. It’s a fairly long read but it doesn’t take long to get through it because there’s twists and turns all the time. I didn’t know who to trust. Some scenes made me incredibly uncomfortable. There’s plenty of shocking moments and nothing is first what it seems.

The reason why Julia stands out in this heavily populated genre for me is her writing style. Julia Crouch doesn’t shy away from gritty, raw and quite disturbing stories. This is certainly all of those things and much more besides.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

If you love unreliable characters then this is the thriller for you!

Gone Without A Trace

Gone Without a Trace

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

Synopsis:

No one ever disappears completely…

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn’t been at work for weeks.
It’s as if he never existed.

But that’s not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.

Thoughts:

I remember Beth being really gripped by this book when she visited a few months back. She immediately told me that I needed to read it. So being the good bookworm sister that I am ( 😉 ) I bumped it up my to be read list. It didn’t take me long to devour at all.

Gone Without A Trace centres around Hannah. We first meet Hannah when she is on her way back from a successful business trip. Hannah is extremely happy because she thinks she’s going to be promoted very soon. As she arrives home, her life is turned upside down. Her long-term boyfriend Matt has moved everything of his out of the house. His number is no longer in her phone, photos have gone and emails have been removed. There is no trace of Matt around the house. Hannah is confused as everything seemed okay in their relationship. Hannah is determined to find Matt… Then text messages start coming in and strange things happen in her house. We’re left wondering whether Hannah is losing her mind or whether something darker is going on.

I was immediately gripped by this story. I wasn’t sure whether to trust Hannah at first. She’s not the most likeable character. Her behaviour becomes obsessive and she begins to suffer in her every day life which becomes very frustrating for the reader. There were points where I wanted her to pull herself together and there were moments that I felt sorry for her. A lot of the relationships in Hannah’s life were difficult. I was particularly intrigued by her love-hate relationship with her friend Katie. It came across as very toxic.

The story seems to plod along at the start with Hannah attempting to find Matt. It really started to pick up pace when the strange things started happening. There is a bit of a twist which I wasn’t expecting! I loved that I didn’t expect it. I know it has divided some readers, but I thought it was an interesting take on the story. I don’t want to spoil it for any readers, so I’ll stop talking about it now!

Overall, I thought this was a really interesting, well paced read. It’s not flawless, but it’s enjoyable and an incredibly easy to read book.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A decent psychological thriller. Worth picking up!

Dark Places

Dark Places

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Sharp Objects
Gone Girl

Synopsis:

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

Thoughts:

I had heard that Dark Places was one of Gillian Flynn’s best books. It definitely didn’t beat Gone Girl for me which is a book that chilled and shocked me. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy Dark Places, Gillian Flynn is amazing at creating such unlikeable characters that keep you turning the pages, despite being angry, frustrated or annoyed with them. It just didn’t quite match Gone Girl for me.

Dark Places centres around Libby Day. When Libby was younger, her mother and sisters were killed. Libby’s evidence put her 15 year old brother in prison. Libby has been getting by in life, but not really doing anything much with her life. Libby comes across the Kill Club which is a secret society obsessed with crimes. They find Libby and want her to give loads of details to them about her brother, Ben. They are convinced that they can get proof that Ben didn’t kill his family. Libby starts to question things that she’d never questioned before which leads her onto a hunt to find out the truth once and for all.

Gillian Flynn really is an incredible writer. I really think her books stand out in the genre because her stories are so dark. She’s also great at keeping you guessing. I really enjoyed the use of flashbacks in this story. I thought they were well crafted and incredibly gritty. Be prepared for some strong language and violence. Dark Places is absolutely littered with that!

I didn’t guess what had happened in Dark Places. However, I have to admit to feeling a little disappointed by the ending. I felt like the story dragged on a little bit in places and the ending just left me thinking ‘Oh..’ rather than being shocked.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Despite some disappointment, Dark Places didn’t take me long to read at all. Perfect to read if you’re into dark thrillers.

Blood Sisters

Blood Sisters

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Penguin UK

Previously reviewed by the same author:
My Husband’s Wife

Synopsis:

Three little girls set off to school one sunny May morning.
Within an hour, one of them is dead.

Fifteen years later, Alison and Kitty are living separate lives. Kitty lives in a care home. She can’t speak, and she has no memory of the accident that put her here, or her life before it.

Art teacher Alison looks fine on the surface. But the surface is a lie. When a job in a prison comes up she decides to take it – this is her chance to finally make things right.

But someone is watching Kitty and Alison.
Someone who wants revenge for what happened that day.
And only another life will do…

Thoughts:

After reading Jane Corry’s debut My Husband’s Wife, I was intrigued to read her next book. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to read Blood Sisters, which I found just as gripping as Jane’s debut.

Blood Sisters is told in dual narration from two sisters. They are half sisters and since childhood have not got on at all. An accident tears the sisters apart even more. Their lives become very different afterwards. One sister is left with a severe brain injury and the other sister is able to move on in her life although in very different directions than she first anticipated. There are secrets hidden from the accident and they’re not safe… the truth will out, eventually!

I enjoy reading stories where there’s sibling rivalries almost as much as I like reading about siblings that do get on. I thought this was an intriguing story because one of the sister’s severe disability. If you’re a regularly reader to my blog, you’ll know that I love diverse books and every type of person being represented, therefore I was super happy to read about a disabled character. I feel like Jane Corry must have researched brain injuries thoroughly in order to give such a detailed and what felt like a very realistic portrayal in this story. I was interested in reading both perspectives, I also really enjoyed how the narration switched from past to present tense.

I do think this book has some slower moments, which is why I didn’t rate it any higher than I did. Sometimes, I desperately wanted to know what was going to happen! It keeps you turning the pages and I think is a decent read for anyone into the thriller genre!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A page-turner of a thriller!

Talking About ‘I See You’ by Clare Mackintosh

I See You

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

CHRISSI: What were your initial thoughts before reading this book?

BETH: I was excited! We reviewed Claire’s debut novel I Let You Go as part of our “Talking About” feature and we both really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to reading this one. Particularly when I read the synopsis which sounded so intriguing that I had high expectations for the novel as a whole. Plus I received a copy recently from the lovely Book And A Brew subscription box people and I was trying to make room and time to read it so when it appeared on the Richard and Judy bookclub list (which we follow almost religiously) I was very pleased as I would finally have a chance to get to it.

BETH: What did you make of Zoe’s relationship with her ex-husband Matt compared to her current relationship with Simon?

CHRISSI: A good question! I actually found Zoe’s relationship with Simon to be a little bit too good to be true. I didn’t like Simon much as a character. He grated on me, for some reason! He was jealous of Matt which made things awkward for Zoe. I thought that Zoe got on remarkably well with her ex-husband. She seemed to rely on him a little bit compared to Simon. I guess when you have children together there’s going to be a connection there still, especially if it ends amicably.

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable at all?

BETH: No, not really to be honest. Now I’m wondering if you did? I didn’t really see anything coming, from the start of the book and the reason why women’s photographs were being used in the paper to the end of the novel and the “final reveal” where the perp is unmasked. I always appreciate it when I can’t see things coming and the author manages to surprise me.

BETH: The character of Kelly, a policewoman, is a bit of a “loose cannon,” did you enjoy reading about her story?

CHRISSI: I really enjoyed reading Kelly’s story. I actually liked Kelly. She was a well meaning character even if she was a little bit of a ‘loose cannon’. She was incredibly eager. Her heart was always in her actions and you can’t ask for more than that!

CHRISSI: Zoe is a very ordinary woman – do you think a central character in a thriller needs to be relatable to make the story work?

BETH: Great question! Hmmm, yes I do think they do but I never thought about it in that way before. A normal, relatable character like Zoe who is incredibly ordinary and has the same worries, pressures and flaws as the rest of us made me instantly like her and connect to her story more than I would have done if the character had been entirely alien to me. It made me sympathise with her predicament a lot more and root for her and her family.

BETH: Were you shocked by the final page at all? (no spoilers!)

CHRISSI: TOTALLY! This answers your earlier question to me about predictability. No, I did not see that coming at all. I can imagine that I looked like a cartoon character with their eyes popping out. Yes, that was totally me when reading that final page. I love it when author’s can shock me and Clare totally did that.

CHRISSI: Does this book live up to Clare’s debut?

BETH: Oh gosh. This is where it’s going to get tough. I Let You Go was such a brilliant read that I think it was going to be very difficult to live up to. When I first started I See You, I have to admit to being slightly concerned as it read very slow for me at the start and I kind of wondered when the action would start to kick in. About two-thirds of the way through however, I did become much more invested in the story and, as I mentioned, in Zoe’s character although I did find the ending slightly rushed. Is it as good as her debut? Not quite but it’s still a solid thriller that I’d recommend.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. Even though I felt like this book was a little slow to start, I was captivated before long and the plot twists really got me. That ending as well… superb! Clare Mackintosh is a great writer for this genre and I wouldn’t think twice about picking up her next book!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

Talking About ‘The Couple Next Door’ with Bibliobeth!

The Couple Next Door

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

Synopsis:

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

CHRISSI: What was your first impression of this book?

BETH: I was really pleased to see The Couple Next Door on Richard and Judy’s Summer Book Club this year, I’d heard a little bit about the book and it falls into a genre that I really like to read so I was excited to get started. It was an incredibly quick read and I surprised myself with how quickly I managed to read it but the story was quite gripping and that urged me to keep on reading instead of putting the book down.

BETH: Anne initially blames Marco for their daughter’s disappearance. Do you agree with her?

CHRISSI: I think Anne and Marco were equally to blame, as Anne agreed to leave the baby. It wasn’t as if Marco forced her to go next door. Anne had her own mind and could’ve said no. She decided to go with Marco to the party, so no… I don’t agree with Anne.

CHRISSI: Which characters, if any, do you sympathise with in this novel?

BETH: This is a really difficult question because, to be honest, I don’t think the whole novel had a hugely likeable character in it for me. That’s not a bad thing at all as I often find myself enjoying books more if there’s an unreliable narrator or a character that is written in such a way that it makes it difficult for you to like them or understand their motivations. This is certainly true of The Couple Next Door. The main couple in the novel leave their baby in the house alone to go to a party next door, taking just the baby monitor with them and taking turns to check on her every so often. At the end of the night, she has disappeared. Obviously this is a terrible thing to happen and I did automatically sympathise with the situation they found themselves in but also found I blamed them a little for what had occurred.

BETH: How do you think Anne’s struggles with post natal depression play into her feelings about the loss of her daughter?

CHRISSI: I think Anne’s struggles with post natal depression really do play into her feelings about the loss of her daughter. Anne is obviously struggling with her mental health and that’s going to affect how she feels about the loss of her daughter. Anne really starts to struggle with her emotions and really question whether she did something wrong, whilst checking on her daughter. I was actually questioning it too. I found Anne’s post natal depression made her a really unreliable narrator.

CHRISSI: Discuss the moral dilemma around the decision to leave the baby in the house next door.

BETH: As I mentioned in the previous novel, Anne and Marco have left their baby behind while attending a party at their next door neighbours and the worst possible case scenario has happened – their daughter has disappeared. It did seem to be more of a dilemma for the mother, Anne to leave her child behind. The host of the party next door Cynthia made it quite clear that her baby was not welcome at the party and Anne’s husband, Marco did a good job of persuading her that everything would be okay. After all, they had the baby monitor and they would keep going back to check on her. Obviously the chances of anything like this happening to your child are very slim but you just need to look at the famous Madeline McCann disappearance to understand that while unlikely, parents shouldn’t even dare take the chance of assuming that “everything will be fine.”

BETH: Did you enjoy the twists and turns in this novel?

CHRISSI: I did. I like a thriller to have twists and turns and The Couple Next Door certainly delivered. I loved the pace of the story and even though I kinda guessed where it was going, it didn’t ruin it for me!

CHRISSI: How does this book compare to others in its genre?

BETH: I felt it compared very well. I enjoyed the plot, disliking the characters, the slight twists and turns and how everything was wrapped up at the end. It was certainly fast paced and kept me reading and as a mystery and thriller it does what it says on the tin. I loved how everything was slowly revealed and although I’m afraid I kind of guessed where it might be going I still enjoyed the story as a whole.

BETH: Would you read another novel by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. I enjoyed the writer’s style and thought it was a gripping read!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!