‘Through The Wall’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! Today I’m reviewing Through The Wall by Caroline Corcoran – thank you to Avon Books for sending me an ARC!

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synopsis

Lexie loves her home. She feels safe and secure in it – and loved, thanks to her boyfriend Tom.

But recently, something’s not been quite right. A book out of place. A wardrobe door left open. A set of keys going missing…

Tom thinks Lexie’s going mad – but then, he’s away more often than he’s at home nowadays, so he wouldn’t understand.

Because Lexie isn’t losing it. She knows there’s someone out there watching her. And, deep down, she knows there’s nothing she can do to make them stop…


my thoughts

This book takes a great look at the old familiar concept – “the grass is always greener on the other side”. Told from dual perspectives, Through The Wall takes an intimate look at the lives of two women living in adjacent flats. I found the dynamics between these two women to be very interesting to read about and I really liked seeing how things developed.

There were aspects of the book which were surprisingly moving. Lexie and Tom have fertility issues and the book explores a lot of the emotional consequences of this. I really appreciated this as it’s not a subject I’ve read about often. The author handled the issue of societal expectations of women very sensitively.

Unfortunately, the book didn’t really have a lasting impact on me. I found it quite slow and meandering – it was much more of a domestic story than a thriller – and I did kind of wonder where it was going and when it would get to the point. I feel like it could have been much harder hitting and instead it missed its opportunity at the end. Nothing ever really shocked me; I found it all very tame.

Overall, this was a decent read with some surprising emotional themes but one that didn’t quite hit its mark as a thriller.

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Does anyone else struggle to review books that were ok but didn’t blow you away? I always find it so much easier to write a review if I have strong feelings on the book!

Anyway, thanks for reading, everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful month and reading some great books 🙂 xsignature (2)

 

‘Forget Me Not’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I hope you’ve all had a great weekend and if you’re in the UK, I hope you have some nice plans for the bank holiday!

Today, I’m reviewing Forget Me Not by Claire Allan, which was very kindly sent to me by Avon Books 🙂

forget me not


synopsis

It’s six in the morning during the hottest summer on record when Elizabeth O’Loughlin, out walking her dog, comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific knife attack, clinging onto life at the side of the road.

Clare dies minutes later, but not before whispering her haunting last words to Elizabeth.

When it becomes clear that Clare’s killer has more than one murder on his mind, Elizabeth has to take drastic action or face losing everything.

But what if she can’t stop a killer determined never to be forgotten?


my thoughts

This is the third of Allan’s thrillers that I’ve read and once again, I found it to be an enjoyable experience. I would say that I found this one to be slightly more predictable than the first two but maybe I’m just getting better at spotting the clues! I just found the hints to be less subtle in this one and thought it was obvious from early on what the twist was going to be.

That said, this was still a great read. In my opinion, even Allan’s weakest book is stronger than many other thrillers I’ve read!

The book, like its predecessors, kicks off at a break-neck pace and never lets up. Allan keeps the reader hooked from start to finish, with a good amount of tension. As usual, she peppers her story with red herrings (which as I’ve already mentioned didn’t really convince me on this occasion but I still appreciated the effort).

In reading Claire Allan’s books, I have found that she does a brilliant job of capturing human emotion. Her characters always have believable motives for behaving as they do, and I never have any trouble feeling for them. I will say that I found the protagonists of this book to be less likeable and slightly less developed than those of the previous books I’ve read, but it was a minor issue and it actually worked in terms of the story Allan was trying to tell.

So I’m not sure I would recommend this as a starting point if you’re new to Allan’s work but for those of you who have already read and enjoyed her previous books, it’s a worthwhile way to spend a few hours!

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What are you all reading these days? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment and let’s chat! x
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‘Picture of Innocence’ spoiler-free review!

Hello fellow bookworms 🙂 I recently read Picture of Innocence, which was gifted to me by Avon Books. And I have no hesitation in saying that it is one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read! Let’s see why, shall we?

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synopsis

My name is Lydia. I’m 12 years old. I’m not an evil person, but I did something bad.

My name is Maddie. I’d never hurt my son. But can I be sure if I don’t remember?

With three children under ten, Maddie is struggling. On the outside, she’s a happy young mother, running a charity as well as a household. But inside, she’s exhausted. She knows she’s lucky to have to have a support network around her. Not just her loving husband, but her family and friends too.

But is Maddie putting her trust in the right people? Because when tragedy strikes, she is certain someone has hurt her child – and everyone is a suspect, including Maddie herself…

The women in this book are about to discover that looks can be deceiving… because anyone is capable of terrible things. Even the most innocent, even you.

This is the story of every mother’s worst fear. But it’s not a story you know… and nothing is what it seems.


my thoughts
If you enjoy thrillers, then you absolutely need to read this one. I am seriously going to be recommending this one to so many people.

Unlike some thrillers, the protagonist, Maddie, felt really well fleshed-out. I felt like she was a real person, with a strong backstory and understandable emotions. And I just felt so invested in her life and what was happening to her.

I don’t want to talk about anything too specific to the plot because this is one that you really need to experience for yourself. All I will say is that the author did a fantastic job. There are so many twists and turns to this story and I was living for it. And there were so many red herrings! I was desperate to figure out how things were connected and when all was revealed, I was not disappointed!

For a thriller, this was a surprisingly emotional read. The chapters written from the child’s perspective were harrowing. This all added to the impact of the later reveals. The whole book opens up a really interesting exploration of certain themes – though again, I can’t say what these themes were because of spoilers!

Overall, I just really want more people to read this because it was so breath-taking! I know this book is going to stay with me for a long time.

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I hope you’ve all had a fantastic weekend! Let me know in the comments what you’ve been reading! x
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‘Apple of my Eye’ spoiler-free review!

Hello! I’m back with another review today 🙂 This time, it’s for Apple of my Eye, the second thriller by Claire Allan. You may remember me reviewing Her Name Was Rose last year – well I was delighted when Avon Books sent me Allan’s next book to review!

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synopsis

When a mysterious note arrives for six months pregnant Dr Eliana Hughes, she begins to doubt every aspect of her life – from her mixed feelings about motherhood to her marriage to Martin, who has become distant in recent months.

As the person behind the note escalates their campaign to out Eli’s husband as a cheat, she finds herself unable to trust even her own instincts, and as pressure builds, she makes a mistake that jeopardises her entire future.

Elsewhere, someone is watching. Someone who desperately wants a baby to call their own and will go to any lengths to become a mother – and stay a mother…


my thoughtsIt’s a little while since I read a thriller and I was in the mood for one – this one did the trick! It was fast-paced and very entertaining.

I enjoyed the split perspectives, alternating between main character Eli and stalker Louise. I don’t know if it was the author’s intention but I found Louise to be the more interesting character of the two! I thought her motivations were explored really well.

I’m not sure that the introduction of a third point of view was the wisest decision on the author’s part; I felt that it allowed me to guess one of the twists too quickly. However, I still ended up being surprised by another element of the plot so it wasn’t all bad!

I enjoy the fact that Allan sets her books in Northern Ireland. The references to Belfast in this one particularly were delightful, as I recognised so many places!

I want to give a quick mention to the way the author portrayed Eli’s anxiety. I thought that her panic attacks read very realistically and I appreciated the way her mother responded by offering reassurance and proper support, not just telling her to ‘calm down’.

Overall, this was a strong thriller if slightly predictable in parts. I’d recommend it to those of you looking for a quick and entertaining read!

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Do you guys like thrillers? Let me know some of your favourites in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘Keep Her Close’ spoiler-free mini review!

Hey everyone! I’m reviewing a thriller tonight that was kindly sent to me by Avon Books!

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synopsis

It’s six months since DS Josie Masters saved her nephew from the clutches of the killer clown, but she’s still haunted by that terrible night. The Thames Valley police force, however, regard Jo as a hero – much to the jealousy of some of her colleagues.

When a young girl goes missing from Jesus College, Jo is assigned to the case, along with new recruit, the handsome DS Pryce. The city of Oxford goes into turmoil when two more girls disappear from Oriel and Somerville, and Josie soon realises that the killer is spelling out her own initials in a deadly game of cat and mouse. This time, the case is personal – but who is the perpetrator?

In a race against time, Jo hunts for the killer – but soon realises he could be a lot closer to home than she’d realised…


my thoughtsThis second thriller by M. J. Ford was just as gripping and easy to fly through as the first. There were plenty of twists and turns which is just what I want from this kind of book.

In terms of character development, it was ok but a bit sparse compared with other similar series I’ve read. Also, while I liked the main characters, the supporting characters were quite indistinguishable from one another. They almost blended together in my mind. I guess it worked to keep the focus on the right people but I personally like everyone to feel a bit more real.

There’s so much I wanted to talk about in my initial reading notes but when I reached the end, there was a huge twist that then affected everything I’d said! I can’t talk about any of it now without it being a spoiler. I guess the author succeeded in throwing me off the scent and surprising me!

All I can say is that this is a decently-written thriller that will keep you gripped and entertained for a weekend if it’s the kind of thing you’re into 🙂

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‘Cuckoo’ spoiler-free review!

Hello everyone! I just finished Cuckoo by Sophie Draper, which was sent to me by Avon Books – and I loved it! Let’s jump straight in…


What the book is about…

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There’s a stranger in your house…

When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again.

But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do.

As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

A haunting and twisty story about the lies we tell those closest to us, perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Cass Green.


What I thought of it…

I’m gonna come out and say it straightaway: this is one of the best thrillers I’ve read. Cuckoo is slow-burning and mysterious (I fully acknowledge that some readers won’t enjoy that style and will want something more fast-paced, but I really love books that are written in this way).

The book has a great atmospheric opening. I could really picture the dreary autumn day and the rain lashing against the windows of the quaint village pub. The vivid descriptions of the setting continued for the book’s duration; it was great to be able to picture everything so clearly, as thrillers often leave out this kind of detail. The farmhouse was almost a character in itself, which I have mentioned in the past is something I love in a book! At one point, the protagonist Caro is snowed in and this lends the story such a claustrophobic feel. The atmosphere leaps from every page.

The unique selling point for this book is the inclusion of various dark fairytales scattered throughout the plot. While this may sound strange, it works SO well and really adds to the book. Draper’s writing is really quite creepy at times and there were some nights I couldn’t read it before going to bed! I’d say that Cuckoo almost borders on horror in places.

This book hooks you in immediately and doesn’t let go, twisting and turning right to the very end. And I mean, RIGHT to the end. It never lets up. But it does it in a slow, creeping way that ensures you are feeling everything right along with Caro.

I will be keeping an eye open for more of Sophie Draper’s books!

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I hope you’re all having a wonderful January so far and a great start to 2019! x

Mini Reviews: The ‘Perfect’ Series by Helen Fields

Throughout this year, I have been working my way through the ‘Perfect’ series by Helen Fields. Guys, this is by far my favourite thriller series. You can find my review of book one, Perfect Remainshere.

Since people aren’t always interested in sequel reviews, I’m going to keep my thoughts on Perfect Prey, Perfect Death, and Perfect Silence brief and just do bullet points 🙂

A huge thank you to Avon Books for providing me with a free copy of this series!


Perfect Prey

This book in one sentence: Graffiti describing murder victims is appearing around the city of Edinburgh… before the victims are turning up dead.

  • This second book jumps straight back into the action with no messing around
  • Even more gripping than the first instalment; no time wasted on introducing characters
  • A great cast – it felt comfortable, like visiting old friends
  • Gory book is gory
  • Absolutely brutal twists!

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Perfect Death

This book in one sentence: A killer watches from afar as his victims die slowly from poisoning.

  • Slightly slower in pace than book two
  • Less gruesome (what can I say, I’m here for the blood)
  • Hugely compelling plot that had me reading late into the night
  • Fantastic dynamics between the characters
  • A great exploration of gender roles in the police force; Fields writes brilliant female characters!
  • Raised the fascinating question of nature vs nurture

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Perfect Silence

This book in one sentence: Someone is abducting women and making dolls out of their skin. Yikes.

  • Definitely the most gruesome instalment yet, yesss
  • Links back to the previous books while never letting the story stagnate; everything is constantly moving forward
  • Once again, jumps straight into the action and doesn’t hang around
  • The righteous anger of protagonist Ava is exhilarating to read and drags the reader along, making it impossible not to root for her
  • Some adorable baby moments
  • A nice reference to my hometown – though I wish it could have got more page-time!

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Overall, I cannot recommend this series enough. Fields’ plots are superbly clever; these are no bog-standard, generic thrillers. I think that’s what keeps me coming back to this series again and again. I’m invested in the lives of the characters and I am never EVER bored. If you like gritty stories with realistic characters, you need to get your hands on Perfect Remains.

I cannot wait for book five in the Spring!

‘The Promise’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovely people! Today, I’m saying a big thank you to Avon Books for sending me a copy of The Promise to review. Let’s check it out!


What the book is about…

When troubled teen Connor moves to Exeter from the US to escape his past, he finds himself embroiled in a world of popular kids and easy girls. Everyone wants to be his friend, but they don’t know about what he did…and they don’t know about his father.

As Connor’s life in England begins to unravel, DS Adrian Miles and his partner Imogen Grey are working up against the clock to catch a serial killer who dates his victims before he kills them. Determined to uncover the truth, Imogen is forced to act as bait – but will she take it too far and risk her own life?


What I thought of it…

I really enjoyed this thriller! I was absolutely hooked from the first chapter and couldn’t put the book down thanks to its extreme pace.

At first, there appeared to be a lot of seemingly unconnected threads to this story but I felt equally invested in all of them, and I found the way that everything was eventually brought together very clever.

I haven’t read the previous books in this series but I don’t feel as though I was missing huge amounts of information. I don’t think reading this as a standalone did me any kind of disservice. I do have to say that the romance introduced in this one didn’t really do it for me – but maybe if I had been following the characters from book one, I might have been happier about it.

I found the ending of the book quite abrupt and didn’t get all the answers I wanted. The author didn’t tie everything up in a neat little bow.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot more I can say about this book without spoilers! But overall, it was a fun read!

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Who else is a fan of thrillers? Are there any particular tropes in the genre that you like/dislike? Let’s chat in the comments! x

‘Her Hidden Life’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my dears! Thank you for bearing with me – I am now back from my trip home for the week and playing catch-up! So you can all expect a lot of likes from me as I get through your recent posts 😉

I have to say a huge thank you to Avon Books for sending me a copy of Her Hidden Life to review; the premise totally grabbed me and I couldn’t live without getting a copy of the book!

 

What the book is about…

It’s 1943 and Hitler’s Germany is a terrifying place to be. But Magda Ritter’s duty is the most dangerous of all…

Assigned to the Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat, she must serve the Reich by becoming the Fuhrer’s ‘Taster’ – a woman who checks his food for poison. Magda can see no way out of this hellish existence until she meets Karl, an SS officer who has formed an underground resistance group within Hitler’s inner circle. 

As their forbidden love grows, Magda and Karl see an opportunity to stop the atrocities of the madman leading their country. But in doing so, they risk their lives, their families and, above all, a love unlike anything either of them have ever known…

 

What I thought of it…

As I already said, I was fascinated by the premise of this book. I have read a number of books set in WWII but I had never heard of the ‘tasters’ – women who sampled Hitler’s food to check for poisons. I absolutely had to read this book based on that idea!

Magda had a captivating narrative voice and I was truly invested in her story. I felt a connection with her and found her easy to root for. I didn’t feel much towards the other characters, except for the obvious hatred towards Hitler. Considering a large element of this book was the romance, I was mostly indifferent to Karl.

Her Hidden Life definitely felt like a book of two halves. The first half is quite light and romantic; it’s not insta-love exactly but the romance did feel very quick. I would have liked it to develop a little slower. However, with the turn things take in the second half of the novel, I can understand why things needed to move at the pace they did. The story definitely becomes darker and, at times, quite bleak. There were some scenes that were particularly harrowing.

Overall, I found this an intriguing book from start to finish and definitely recommend it to fans of historical fiction who are looking for something a little different. I rated this one 4/5 stars.

 

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Has anyone ever heard of ‘tasters’? Do you enjoy reading WWII fiction? Let me know your favourites in the comments! x

 

 

‘The Forgotten Guide to Happiness’ spoiler-free review!

Hi everyone! Today, I’m reviewing The Forgotten Guide to Happiness by Sophie Jenkins which was a surprise gift from Avon Books! Sadly, I was disappointed by this one.

 

What the book is about…

Twenty-eight-year-old Lana Green has never been good at making friends. She’s perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. Or at least, that’s what she tells herself.

Nancy Ellis Hall was once a celebrated writer. Now eighty, she lives alone in her North London house, and thinks she’s doing just fine. But dementia is loosening Nancy’s grip on the world.

When Lana and Nancy become unconventional house mates, their lives will change in ways they never expected. But can an unusual friendship rescue two women who don’t realise they need to be saved?

An irresistible story of love, memory and the power of friendship that readers of The Keeper of Lost Things and The Lido will adore.

 

What I thought of it…

I finished this book about a week ago and the more I’ve thought about it, the more annoyed I’ve felt. There are so many things about this book that really frustrated me.

The story did tick along quite nicely at the start, although I can’t say I really warmed to the protagonist. I found her quite selfish and unlikeable. I questioned her every decision and really couldn’t understand her motivations for certain things. The side characters also felt like paper-thin stereotypes and honestly added nothing to the story.

However, things got really annoying around 100 pages from the end when a particular event occurred (that I obviously won’t mention because spoilers). All I will say is that it had me absolutely infuriated! I couldn’t believe what I was reading; I wanted to give Lana a shake. Really, I don’t know what the author was thinking at this point; what kind of message was she trying to promote? The whole thing felt like one pointless cliché after another and, if this hadn’t been a gift from a publisher, I might well have DNF’d this book. I had to force myself to get to the end.

I did like Nancy’s character, the older writer in declining mental health. However, part of me feels like she wasn’t utilised as much as she could have been? She was a little lost at times in all of Lana’s crap and I feel like she deserved more! It was also constantly rammed down the reader’s throat that Nancy was this big feminist icon but then we were never actually shown any evidence of this.

The ‘how to be a hero’ theme was a nice idea –  I feel like maybe that should have been the title of the book instead? I don’t really know why it was called The Forgotten Guide to Happiness. Maybe I missed the point but this title felt totally incongruous to the actual story. Particularly with the annoying events I’ve alluded to!

I feel like this one won’t stay with me – and if it does, it will be with feelings of frustration rather than positivity! I feel terrible giving a book a negative review, particularly when it was a gift, but this one just wasn’t for me.

 

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Have you ever read a book where the protagonist completely irritated you?!