My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

I was serious when I mentioned I was going to make an effort to read more books on marriages. I will be honest, I literally chose it because its title made it pretty obvious that this story was going to be about marriage. I was surprised to find out that there would be some murder mystery thrown in there that wasn’t necessarily related to the marriage. Anyways, here is my review:

Lily never thought she would get married and settle down. But then she marries Ed, and vows to make a fresh start and leave the secrets of her past behind. When she takes on her first murder case at her law firm, she meets convicted murderer Joe. And he is more than meets the eye. Lily isn’t the only one harboring secrets. Her next-door neighbour Carla may only be 9 years old, but she already knows secrets are a powerful currency. And Carla knows just how to use them to get what she wants. When Lily finds Carla on her doorstep sixteen years later, a chain of events is set in motion that can end only one way.

Does this premise sound confusing? It did to me, when I first read it. But it is also pretty accurate and doesn’t give away too many details. This story pursued a lot of different angles. On one hand, Lily is struggling in her marriage with Ed for a variety of reasons. But she is also struggling with her case, as it dredges up things in her past that she would rather keep hidden. The author did quite a good job of intertwining these 2 aspects to show the chaos that reigns in Lily’s life. Carla is another very interesting character in that she is a child I both hated and pitied at the same time. I think that the author actually did a fantastic job in creating her; it is not easy to make a reader both hate and pity a character. In the first half of the novel, the story is easy enough to parse out, and both Carla and Lily’s behaviours are easy to understand. However, the second half, which takes place 16 years later, is more convoluted. A lot of it didn’t really need to happen and I was especially confused by Carla’s motivations. Usually, my attention wanes at this point and it becomes a chore for me to finish the novel. But this time, I couldn’t stop reading. For some reason, I found myself completely engrossed in the story, wanting to know more. I stuck with the novel until the very last page. I don’t know if it is the author’s writing style or something else about the story, but it just had this edge to it that made it hard to pull away from this novel, even when you probably should have. This wasn’t the best thriller I’ve ever read, but I still enjoyed the story for the most part. I think another pitfall for this novel (apart from the second half being a bit of a drag) was that the title and cover didn’t really reflect the story as well as it could have. But overall, I’m giving this a 3.5/5 stars, rounded to 4.

Happy reading ~

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Poison by Gail Niederhoffer

I received this novel as an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

True to my promise on not shying away from books that have to do with marriage, I accepted this ARC. The premise was mysterious enough that I went into it with no idea as to the direction it would take, which is always exciting! Here is my review:

Cass and Ryan Connor are the perfect family, with 3 kids between them, a cat, and a home just waiting to be renovated and lived in. Their family, including Cass’ 2 children from previous relationships, has just moved to Portland to start their lives afresh. But trouble begins soon enough. First, there are the little white lies that happen daily in the marital bedroom. What starts off as insignificant soon spirals out of control into a madness that will change the family forever.

This novel was presented as a literary psychological thriller, which is an interesting mix of genres. Literary fiction is typically slower-paced and focused on character development whereas psychological thrillers are fast-paced and plot-driven. The story reads like a literary fiction in terms of the language used and the amount of detail that the author provides. It also has this weird mix of pace that I never really got a handle on; it felt like it was moving slowly because of the writing style but the events themselves were happening quite rapidly. It took me aback … and not pleasantly. I felt the pacing was very awkward and it didn’t allow me to get a good sense of any of the characters. The story is told entirely from Cass’s perspective, which was not an issue in itself but I found her boring. There were a lot of events happening in the book in a very random way, just to allow the author to make the conclusions she wanted to make. The entire concept behind the story was that women’s accounts are dismissed quite readily by the police and by court systems. However, I don’t agree with that premise 100%, and especially not when it comes to this story; no matter your gender, you have to have evidence when making accusations. I don’t think that should be considered a sign of prejudice or discrimination by gender. I also didn’t really get the purpose behind the crime. Why do all of this? How did so many people get involved? The ending was also very random and seemed almost too easy after all of the other things that had occurred in the story. It just all felt like a mess, what with events happening quickly and randomly while the author continues to ramble on and focus on inconsequential details, and there being no real motive or resolution to anything. Since there wasn’t a single thing I liked about this story, I’m giving this a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

What The Hell Did I Just Read by David Wong

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel has taken me a long time to read. But not because it was bad. I’ve had so many interruptions in my life that I haven’t even been able to think about the word book. But I’ve slowly been chunking my time and getting in a chapter or two …. and it’s finally done! So here is my review:

Dave, John, and Amy have taken it upon themselves to get the story straight and tell a fairly simple tale of a shape-shifting creature from another dimension that has been stealing kids and brainwashing their parents. However, it soon becomes clear that everything being revealed is not the truth. Someone is lying, and that someone is the narrators. The novel itself is a cover-up, and the “true” story reveals itself through the cracks of this funny but depraved story with contradicting and convoluted narratives.

I didn’t know that this novel was part of a series. And it really didn’t matter because I was able to follow along fine without having had read anything before this one. This was one of the most entertaining reads I have ever had the opportunity to read. It was an absolutely perfect mix of horror and comedy, that is both a mess and a genius work at the same time. I loved all of the characters and their unique narratives and perspectives. The story is honestly so wild and bizarre, which at first took me by surprise, but I began to really love that style. Random characters are introduced, random events happen, and since these events are told from multiple perspectives, you never really know if what you are reading is true or false. It makes your head spin but it also keeps you hooked! I am so glad I took my time with this book because it just allowed me to savor it so much longer! I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something unique, something dark and funny, and something that will drive you insane while also make you crave more! I am definitely going to go back and start the series from the beginning! 5/5 stars from me!

Happy reading ~

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When you’ve read as many psychological thrillers as I have, you always get apprehensive when someone promotes a book. I’ve been let down a lot of times… but I’ve also found some gems. This one? It’s a gem.

Paul Strom has the perfect life: he has an amazing career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two lovely boys, and a big house in a wealthy neighbourhood. And he prides himself on being perfect: the perfect husband, the perfect father, a provider and protector. So when he plans a romantic weekend getaway with his wife at their lake house, he is confident that it will be the best day ever. But as Paul and his wife, Mia, drive toward the countryside, Paul notices that there is a spike of tension that has surfaced. As the doubts start to arise, they question the trust they have in each other how perfect their marriage really is.

This novel started slowly and I almost decided to quit. But I’m glad now that I stuck through with it because it is such an amazing thriller. This novel is creepy and spine-tingling and everything you want from a psychological thriller. Paul gave me bad vibes from the start, what with his attitude on women. However, as the story goes on, we see how incredibly insane he actually is. While everything is written from his defensive perspective, we as the reader retain our own belief that he is utterly mad. The story takes place within a span of 24 hours and there are all of these little hints and clues that indicate that something is not right. I love how the author went about developing the story, and I love how the author created and maintained Paul’s character. He is delusional about himself and that becomes apparent as we keep reading the story, and it just adds to that creepy-horror feeling. I don’t think the story really had that much of a twist but I don’t think that every psychological thriller needs one; it just needs to have the thrills, and this one definitely had that! The only negative point I can come up with is that the ending switched into Mia’s perspective, which I really didn’t care that much about. It’s good to know how things worked out but I would have preferred to have heard more from Paul instead, as he was the main character for such a large part of the story. In any case, this was a really good thriller that had me at the edge of my seat and I look forward to reading more by this author!

Happy reading ~

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

I received this novel as an advanced copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is the third novel I have read by this author, and so far, I’ve had mixed reviews on her work. There are certain aspects that I like but for the most part, I always end up feeling that I got a lackluster experience. However, I always like to give people multiple chances, especially when I see that the majority of people like that story. So here is my review:

When Isa receives the text I need you from her childhood friend, she drops everything, takes her baby daughter, and heads straight for Salten. Salten is the place where Isa and her friends went to boarding school … and where one of her friends still lives. As the friends gather, they find out that something terrible has been found on the beach… something that will lead to the past being uncovered. This isn’t a cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, especially considering their history. When the girls were at school, they used to play the Lying Game where they competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. But with all the lies, the boundaries between fact and fantasy start to blur. And soon, Isa begins to ask herself: how much can you really trust your friends?

Compared to Ruth Ware’s previous novels, I quite enjoyed this one. The story was interesting and the suspense kept me going. I liked that the story switched from past to present; it’s a style that I’ve always enjoyed because it makes the reader actively think and engage with the story. I will be honest in that I found the story quite slow and not the most interesting thing I’ve read … but it was still interesting enough that I kept reading the book. The ending was a surprise and I enjoyed the twist that was there. I didn’t really like Isa’s character, as she whined quite a bit and just … wasn’t that interesting. Overall, I enjoyed this story more than any of Ware’s previous ones. However, this wasn’t my most favorite thriller of all times. This novel would probably satisfy fans of Ruth Ware’s previous work.

Happy reading ~

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve read a ton of books by May Kubica. Ever since I read The Good Girl, I have always taken the time to seek out her newest book and give it a go. While I have yet to find one I like as much as her debut, I think that she has really created a name for herself in the thriller genre. With that being said, Every Last Lie is her latest foray in the genre and it is being released in just a couple of weeks. So here is my review of the ARC:

When Clara Solberg finds out that her husband and their 4-year-old daughter were in a car crash, time stops. She is devastated to discover that while her daughter is unharmed, her husband has died in the accident. Clara is shrouded in mystery and everyone agrees that this is just a terrible tragic accident … until Maisie starts having nightmares that make Clara question what really happened in that car. Struggling with her grief and life as a single mother, and obsessed with discovering the truth behind Nick’s death, Clara is plunged into a world of lies. Who would have wanted Nick dead and why? Clare won’t stop until she finds out – but the truth may be more than she can handle.

From the very first page, the author had me in the palm of her hands. With vivid descriptions of Clare’s first moments dealing with the news of her husband’s passing, I was reeling from the emotions that were portrayed. The effect just grew stronger as Clare’s grief became more pronounced. Even though Clare was not as strong as I would have liked, I really liked her character; she was one of the most realistic characters I have ever met (in terms of her response to tragedy). The story is told from dual perspectives, with chapters alternating from Nick’s voice to Clare’s voice. It made for a very interesting story, and I kept trying to piece all of it together. This book really does make you think about all of the lies that can crop up between two people who love each other and the way in which they can alter the relationship! Every minute of the story was fantastic … until I reached the end. The ending just took me aback. After all of the buildup, after all of the paranoia and suspicions… it ended on such a bland note. I had been eagerly waiting for that satisfaction of the final reveal but it just … flopped on me. I had become so engrossed in the story and I had had such high expectations reaching the end, but the finale was just so lackluster that it made the whole story not worth reading. If you are a big fan of Mary Kubica, I would still recommend you read this novel because maybe you might enjoy it more than I did. I will be giving this book a 3.5/5 stars; in spite of its shabby conclusion, this novel was well-written and had skillfully portrayed characters that made it an enjoyable read (for the most part).

Happy reading ~

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

It has been a while since I have found myself unable to put a book down because it kept me on the edge of my seat. This is one of those books. After the number of thrillers I’ve read, I’m a lot more skeptical to positive reviews,  especially since I usually don’t agree with those positive reviews. This … was not one of them. That is all the introduction this novel needs so let me just jump into my review:

Everyone admires a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, and she has charm and elegance. They seem to have the perfect marriage, and are inseparable. Many would consider this to be true love. But what appears on the surface may not be as it seems. For one thing, Grace never leaves home. She doesn’t even have a phone. She defers in everything to her husband, who seems to have complete control over her. While this can be chalked up to personal choice, there are other things that can’t be ignored. For instance, why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows? As the story shows you what happens behind the closed doors of marriage, you will begin to wonder … is this the perfect marriage or the perfect lie?

Holy smokes, this novel scared me! I knew that there was something twisted about the marriage based on the premise, but the extent of it was something I could never fathom. This story is not a psychological thriller, and I want to emphasize this because this is what this novel is being described as by most bookstores and by the publishers. The truth is revealed from the onset, so there is no guessing as to what is going on. However, the sheer brutality and twisted nature of the story is what gets to you. The sadism and depravity shocked me and kept me compulsively reading this story. I loved how messed up this story was, and I loved how pure evil the antagonist is; I don’t think I have ever hated a character more (except for Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter). This novel moves at a break-neck pace and is emotionally charged throughout. I loved every minute of it. This novel isn’t perfect, but it is damn near close and if you are looking for a fast-paced thriller, then don’t miss out on this one!

Happy reading ~

Subject 375 by Nikki Owen – Project Trilogy #1

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have a neighbour who loves conspiracy theories. Whenever he gets the chance, he talks to me about the latest conspiracy theory he has heard about. What’s more, he strongly believes in each one. At one point in time, I would have laughed it off. However, ever since it became known that the NSA spies on people using technology, I’ve had to change my mind. When I read the premise of this book, it reminded me of my neighbour and I knew I had to read it. I’m surprised by how quickly I finished the novel, which is a testament to its addictive nature.

Dr. Maria Martinez is a brilliant plastic surgeon who has Asperger’s Syndrome. She has a very high IQ, an eidetic memory, and an incredible ability to decipher codes and patterns. She is also convicted of killing a priest. In an English prison, she is far away from her home and family in Salamanca, Spain. Although DNA evidence places Maria at the scene of the crime, she maintains that she is innocent. Amidst accusations that she is lying, Maria begins to remember things…. a strange room, strange people, being tested upon….but she still does not recollect ever committing murder. As Maria begins to put the pieces together, she starts to suspect that she may be at the heart of a conspiracy involving MI5, and a project known as Callidus. Who can she trust? Who are her friends and who are “handlers” that are watching her every move? Maria must find out what her role is in Project Callidus – before it is too late!

 

At first, I found myself a bit confused when reading this novel. It was hard for me to keep track of what exactly was happening. But very quickly, I got accustomed to the style of the author and the way that the story jumps back and forth in time. Maria’s character is extremely unique and the author has done a very good job in portraying the various behavioural and analytical aspects that come with a diagnosis of Asperger’s. The more I read, the more I liked Maria, and the more confused I got with what was the actual truth (which is the whole point of the story)! By the end of the novel, I was on tenterhooks and I just HAD to know what was going to happen next. I don’t think I have ever been this sad to have a novel finish! I hope the author is going to release the sequel to this novel soon because I just HAVE to know what happens to Dr. Maria Martinez! For those of you that like action-packed conspiracy novels with lots of murder and mystery, this is the story for you! It was just released on September 6th, so don’t waste any time in getting your hands on it!

Happy reading ~

The Evening Spider by Emily Arsenault

This novel was one that I had attempted to read previously but had been unable to finish because I was just too depressed to focus on anything. Now that I am working on getting through my depression, it felt only right to return to this novel and give it the fair shot it deserves. So here is my review:

Abby Bernacki is adjusting to motherhood as smoothly as is possible. But soon, she begins to experience odd sensations around the house and in the presence of her baby daughter. When she starts to dig a bit further into the history of her home to try to answer some of her questions, she is given the diary of Frances Barnett, who lived in the house 125 years ago and was institutionalized at Northampton Lunatic Hospital. The diary itself seems simple enough but soon reveals a more disturbing story at play. And the more Abby learns about Frances Barnett, the more she wonders about the potential presence of a negative supernatural influence in her home. Who was Frances Barnett and what drove her to madness? And more importantly, is Abby the next person who will lose her mind? 

I will admit that when I began this novel for the second time, I had high hopes for it. The buildup was slow yet enticing and I was eager to see how the story would unfold. Unfortunately, this novel let me down big time. The more I read, the more I felt like Abby was simply delusional. Most of the time, nothing was even happening to her and she created the “eerie” situation through her own actions. Just as the novel begins to pick up the pace, it starts to go in a weird direction that just seems rushed and abruptly ends. While everything makes sense, it wasn’t written out very well and just left me feeling startled. The ending had absolutely nothing to do with the premise and it seemed quite pointless by the end of it. All in all, not a good attempt and I will definitely not be recommending this book to anyone!

Happy reading ~

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

This novel sounded like your usual thriller about two sisters falling apart because of some tragedy and then something brings them back and they solve everything. So my expectations for this novel were not too high. I mean, there have been so many thrillers that have a similar story line that I really wasn’t expecting anything more. Well, let me just say that this novel delivered a WHOLE lot more than it promised and it was AMAZING!

It has been twenty years since Lydia and Claire have seen or spoken to each other. Claire is a glamorous trophy wife of a millionaire. Lydia is a single mother dating an ex-con (like herself) and struggles to make ends meet. But both sisters are scarred by the disappearance of their eldest sister, Julia, two decades ago. When Claire’s husband is murdered in an alley, she is distraught and lost to the world. But it is during this time that she finds something that changes her perception of the world her husband lived in – and the only person she can share this with is Lydia. Once again, the sisters are reunited albeit under strained circumstances. As they work together to unearth secrets that have been buried, they find a plot so twisted that their own lives may be in jeopardy.

Most of the time, thrillers focus on the discovery of the crime and the criminal and culminates in a rushed conclusion where the killer is apprehended. That is not the case in this novel. In this story, there is no neat ending; the novel continues on with what happens after the discovery of the killer is made. I absolutely loved this novel because it really is original; the author has taken the usual boundaries and pushed past them while still maintaining that epic thrill and the pleasure of redemption. I could not stop reading this book, even though I was in the middle of an important presentation. I just had to know what was going to happen next. This novel focuses on the tragedy of kidnapping and murder, of sexual violence, of the aftermath that a family faces in light of this pain. It explores the different ways people cope with these situations but it also shows the deeper evils that can be found in people we consider our “friends”; it even shows psychopaths as beings capable of empathy and love and pain (something that can be hard to believe). All in all, this was a great novel; to be honest, this is second only to Gillian Flynn’s work – and those who have read my previous posts on thrillers know that this is A BIG COMPLIMENT coming from me! So if you are looking for a thriller, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give this novel a shot! It will definitely be worth your while!

Happy reading ~