adult Books coming-of-age Fiction review Suspense

Girl In The Walls by A.J. Gnuse – Review

Genre: Suspense/Coming-of-age
Published: April 2021
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Pages: 359
My Rating: 4/5 stars

The Girl in The Walls stays safe because she hides. She doesn’t meddle in problems she can avoid.

A.J. Gnuse, The Girl In The Walls

Elise is an orphaned young girl living in the walls of her former family home after her parents were killed in a car accident. The new family living in the house have no idea she is even there. But slowly, the younger son Eddie notices strange things happening. Little sounds and creaks that don’t make sense and items going missing. He’s not sure if he’s just imagining it or if there is someone or something else in the house with them. 

Do you ever remember hearing sounds in your house when you were growing up or even now? Growing up, our house made all sorts of sounds and it was never something I was scared of. My parents always described it as the wood just expanding and shrinking. 

When I read this beautifully written novel, it brought back some of those childhood memories. Girl in The Walls is a story about belonging and holding on to the past.

“But none of them would ever know the house like she did.”

The chapters are so short that I feel like I ended up flying through them while still taking in every moment. And some of them will have you at the edge of your seat. I loved the headings of each chapter, which felt like an introduction.

Early on in the story we learn more about the new family living in Elise’s old house, we get a feel of the family and dynamics through the perspective of ‘The Girl’ as she is referred to in the beginning.

Even with her tragic past and the fact that she is now alone and having to fend for herself, I never really felt sorry for her. I was just intrigued and wanted to know about her story. We get to know more about the family and especially sibling dynamics between Eddie and Marshall. I have a younger sister, it’s just the two of us and we are so close. And because of this I found myself becoming really invested in the strained relationship between the two brothers as the story progressed. 

Later on, we learn a bit more about Elise herself and what it means for her and why it is so important that she stays connected to the house. With the house at times feeling like a character itself in this story. I loved that we get a glimpse into her past every now and then to see what life was like before she lost her parents.

I enjoyed each and every moment I spent reading this book. It is a truly unique and well-written debut novel 😊

Disclaimer: I was sent this free copy for review by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This does not influence my review or rating in any way. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

adult Books Non-Fiction review True Crime

The Good Girls by Sonia Faleiro – Review

Genre: True Crime
Published: February 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 314
My Rating: 🦋🦋🦋🦋/5

“This is a story about women in modern India. But it’s also about what it means to be poor.”

Sonia Faleiro, The Good Girls

On the 27 May 2014, sixteen-year-old Padma and fourteen-year-old Lalli went missing. A few hours later, their bodies were found hanging from a tree in a mango orchard.No one knew what happened, but they knew that they had to get to the bottom of this horrific incident. As we learn about Padma, Lalli, their families and the village they lived in, we learn about the the circumstances surrounding their deaths and how it impacted the community.

I knew before I even started this book, that there would be so many talking points and it’s not easy to summarize such a detailed account surrounding this tragedy, but I will do my best.

“But the death of a child wasn’t a problem. It was a catastrophe. It could not be fixed, it could not be undone and it should not be forgotten.”

It’s true crime which has recently become a favourite genre of mine. It reads like a novel and is fast-paced with short chapters. It is a heavy read with triggers such as sexual assault and violence. There were so many times where I felt myself feeling angry and sad at the same time while reading this book. From the way women are treated, to the abysmal way the whole investigation was handled.

The girls were well-known around the village so when their bodies were found, even though this was not something new (Violence and killing of young girls and children). The community and families knew that they needed to take a stand somehow and get the attention of the government so that change could prevail.This definitely caught the attention of the media and politicians.

The amount of research that was done by Sonia was amazing with resources for each chapter at the end. I was so interested that I actually checked a few out. She went to Katra and interviewed some of the people on the book herself. This book really makes you think especially about stigma and the under reporting of rape and sexual assault which is something that happens all over the world and is not confined to one country.

Overall this was extremely eye-opening and informative and I would highly recommend this book!

Disclaimer: I was sent this free copy for review by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This does not influence my review or rating in any way. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

adult Books Fiction review Thriller

Quiet In Her Bones by Nalini Singh – Review

Genre: Thriller
Published: April 2021
Publisher: Orion
Pages: 374
My Rating: 🦋🦋🦋🦋.5/5

“I’d use anyone and everyone to uncover the reason why my mother was nothing but decaying bones.”

Nalini Singh, Quiet In Her Bones

Nina Rai had it all. A beautiful rich socialite living in an elite neighborhood. Then one day she just disappeared along with a quarter of a million dollars. It was assumed that she had taken the money and left. Tired of just being a trophy wife to a rich husband.

But ten years later her bones are found in a car in the deep, dense forest that surrounds the neighbourhood. Her son Araav, is determined to find out what happened to his mother and he will stop at nothing to find out the truth. And it’s not just the rich and privileged who stay in the area, but those who work for them as well. In this cul-de-sac, everyone is a suspect.

Wow can Nalini write! Clearly she is not new to the writing scene and you can pick that up very clearly from her writing.

“You really are her son.”

“Yes. I won’t give up trying to find the truth.”

A missing socialite, bones found in a forest. I mean, what a setting for a thriller! This story was gripping from the beginning and it flows effortlessly.

Set in New Zealand in a cul-de-sac of an elite neighbourhood, Of course you can imagine the kinds of secrets these households contain.

The book consists of short chapters and is told from the perspective of Nina’s son Aarav. Even though we don’t know Nina as a living character in the book, we get glimpses of her through her son’s memories, which at times can’t always be trusted.

For some reason, I really enjoy books where the protagonist is a writer. It adds more depth to his character and how he uses his life experience to fuel his creativity. You can see how much the disappearance of his mother has shaped the man he has become. Nina was in no way the perfect mother, but we can tell from the story and Araav’s memories that she loved her son dearly. This was clearly the driving factor for his determination when it came to getting to the bottom of his mother’s death.

Araav himself has many inner demons to face and we get some glimpses into his counseling sessions which also keeps the reader intrigued.

There are quite a lot of different characters in the story and at times you need to focus otherwise you might mix them up. I did feel that this added to the mystery as each one could be a suspect and therefor the twist was a completely unexpected one for me, exactly the way I like my thrillers. Eerie and atmospheric, this is an absolute page-turner.

Disclaimer: I was sent this free copy for review by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This does not influence my review or rating in any way. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

adult Books Fiction Historical Fiction review

The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. – Review

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: February 2021
Publisher: Riverrun
Pages: 388
My Rating: 🦋🦋🦋🦋/5

“Samuel and Isaiah were, after all, boys, oftentimes helpful ones who were one bluster and the other tranquil, but never callous or aloof.”

Robert Jones Jr, The Prophets

‘Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was from the beginning.’ On a plantation in the Deep South, these two young enslaved men find comfort in each other. The barn was not only a place they cleaned and tended to the animals. It was their safe space. A space where they could be themselves and with each other. A place of refuge. Until another slave starts preaching from the Bible and threatens them and their existence and causes some of the other slaves to turn on them.

The Prophets must be one of the most beautifully written, but absolutely heartbreaking books I have ever read. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express in words the kind of emotions I felt while reading this book.

“The world tried to make her feel some other way, though. It had tried to make her bitter about herself. It had tried to make her gaze upon her reflection and judge what she saw as repulsive.”

We are taken back to a time when slavery was the norm. Where families were torn apart without a second thought. Where human beings were treated as anything but, because of the colour their skin. They were used as tools for labour, chained, beaten, bred and treated like animals.

This was not an easy read, you definitely need to concentrate while reading this book. That being said I couldn’t put it down. It was an absolute emotional rollercoaster at the end.

I never cry when I read books, no matter how attached I am to the characters and no matter how sad the story is, but this book brought me very close to tears. The writing is beautiful and poetic. Chapters alternate the between different characters. Not just Isaiah and Samuel, but their fellow slaves and the slave owners.

I can see why this book is spoken so highly of and can definitely add it to my list of favourite historical fiction novels. It is a story that will stay with me for a very long time.

Disclaimer: I was sent this free copy for review by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This does not influence my review or rating in any way. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

adult Books coming-of-age review

The Divines by Ellie Eaton – Review

Genre: Coming-Of-Age
Published: February 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 306
My Rating: 🦋🦋🦋🦋/5

“I am Divine. My mother was Divine and her mother before that, which isn’t uncommon.”

Ellie Eaton, The Divines

St. John the Divine was an elite all-girls boarding school. Generations of women from the same families attended this school. Bad attitudes and misbehaving was the norm. No one respected or listened to the teachers and no one feared any consequences. They called themselves The Divines.

Josephine, now in her thirties hasn’t spoken to another divine since the school shut its doors after a scandal rocked the community. But a recent visit to the area on her honeymoon stirs up memories and emotions about those days and there are more bad than good. 

It also starts affecting her marriage and her career. It turns out that what she remembers about her time at the school is not the whole story and little by little the truth is revealed.

This book tackles a number of different issues that teenagers deal with. From peer pressure, bullying, exploring sexuality, toxic relationships.
As well as strained relationships between teenagers and parents. 
This story was different to what I was expecting and was more of a coming-of-age story than mystery.

“I put my head down.

Kept on walking.

Never looking them in the eye.

They were townies. I was Divine.”

Each student comes from a long history of Divines, their mothers and grandmothers were Divines as well. 
They think that because they come from money and are privileged, that they can act in any way they like. They think they can say what they want and do what they want without consequences. 
They are rude and disrespectful to the teachers. 

The can be terribly mean to one another and there is also the divide between the towns people or ‘Townies’ as they call them and the Divines.
The Divines come from well-off families and the towns people rely on them to keep their economy afloat. The girls spend their money at their shops. Some of the towns people work as maintenance people at the school.

Narrated by Josephine, It alternates between the present with Josephine as an adult and the past when she was still at school.
I didn’t really connect with Jo as a character, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the overall story. I don’t expect to love every character in the books I read and I think if that did happen, it wouldn’t be as exciting. Even the though it was such a long time ago, Jo seems almost obsessed with her school days and she is clearly still haunted by her past. Even though she is married and has a child, she can’t seem to move past what happened while she was at school.

I think it’s interesting how different people interpret the same situation and you learn that the way Jo remembers the past is different to those of her peers.
It made me think of my own high school career and how I remember it and how it might differ to my peers. 

That ending was also not what I was expecting and it wasn’t always a comfortable read. Some parts are quite detailed and raw so be warned. There’s no sugar-coating, but it was utterly engrossing. Overall, I enjoyed this unique debut novel, it was unlike anything I have ever read before and I look forward to what Ellie has in store for the future 😊

Disclaimer: I was sent this free copy for review by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This does not influence my review or rating in any way. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

adult Books Fiction review Thriller

Black Widows by Cate Quinn – Review

Genre: Thriller
Published: March 2021
Publisher: Orion
Pages: 466
My Rating: 🦋🦋🦋🦋/5

He had a way of talkin’ to all of us, where you just felt what he was sayin’ was only for you. Like he could see into your soul or somethin’.

Cate Quinn, Black Widows

Rachel, Tina and Emily are all very different, but the one thing they have in common is that they are all married to the same man – Blake Nelson. Rachel is the perfect wife, always listening to Blake and trying to keep him happy. Emily is the youngest and most naive and Tina with her rebellious ways is the exact opposite of Rachel. They live on a deserted farm in Utah, away from those who judge them and their lifestyle. Then one day Blake’s body is found. Questions arise about who would have wanted to kill him. Each wife has their own back story and motive. They all become suspects, both to the police and each other.

The first words that come to mind when I think of this book is – disturbing, creepy, but absolutely captivating!

“That mix of hardness and neediness. Pull me close, push me away. Rachel has it. Emily too. We’re like an old T-shirt I saw once. Same same but different.”

The story is told from the POV of each wife. As the story progresses we learn more about each one’s life and personality. We also learn about each ones past and who they were before marrying Blake. I loved the rebel in Tina. A former meth-addict and prostitute with a troubled past and childhood wanting to turn her life around. Young naïve Emily who didn’t know what she was getting herself into. Rachel and Blake were college sweethearts and she was always eager to please him and to be the perfect wife, but unbeknownst to the other wives, she carries around a dark secret that she would like to remain hidden. They are so different so it is no surprise that they don’t always get along.

My first thoughts were, how does someone get involved in a polygamous marriage and why? But as the story progresses, we learn about what each wife wanted out of the marriage and why they agreed to it in the first place. I loved the character development and the details of the story. I didn’t care much for Blake or what we learn about him, but loved how the story focused on the wives own back stories and their dynamic as a whole.

The only criticism I have is that the twist didn’t completely blow me away, but the story itself was extremely captivating. Usually with longer books, I always worry that it might drag or be slow, but that was not the case with this book at all. I loved that the ending felt complete and that there were no unanswered questions.

This mystery thriller gets a big thumbs up from me!

Disclaimer: I was sent this free copy for review by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This does not influence my review or rating in any way. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

adult Books Fiction review Thriller

The Package by Sebastian Fitzek – Review

Genre: Thriller
Published: March 2021
Publisher: Head Of Zeus
Pages: 371
My Rating: 🦋🦋🦋🦋/5

“It was wrapped in normal brown paper and the edges reinforced with sticky tape. Two lengths of fibrous string were tied around the package, forming a cross on the front. Nothing unusual.”

Sebastian Fitzek, The Package

Emma is a psychiatrist living in Germany and is the only survivor of a serial killer. Or at least she thinks she was…

No one is convinced, not even her husband. She soon quits her job and stays home, where it is safe and quiet. Where no one can hurt her. But one day she accepts a package for a neighbour and everything changes. She has no idea what she has let into her house.

If a psychological thriller, with twist after twist is what you’re after then I think you’ve found your next read. This book will have you doubting what you think you know so often, you won’t be sure what and who you can believe.

“Why should strangers believe her if her husband didn’t?”

This book is not only a thriller, but also delves into the life of someone living with mental illness and how at times those who have been diagnosed with one are often treated differently as there is a stigma attached. Emma’s concerns about her safety are often overlooked and thought to just be paranoia. She struggles with anxiety and agoraphobia with panic attacks. It affects her social life and relationships with everyone close to her. She even begins doubting herself and her own sanity.

The themes are quite dark and there are scenes of sexual assault and violence. The story is told from Emma’s perspective and the book alternates between the past and the present, but does so in a way that is easy to follow.

I really enjoyed her internal dialogue and this is actually where we see how much she really struggles with her own thoughts. She gets to a point where she’s not sure what is real and if she is imagining things. A lot of the time I found myself unsure of what to believe and also kept doubting what Emma was actually saying. ‘Was she or wasn’t she attacked. Is this real or is she hallucinating?’

I kept thinking that it must be so scary and difficult for Emma to deal with her mental condition as a psychiatrist, having treated patients with the same symptoms. A sentence that stuck in my mind was, ‘What sort of life is it if you can’t distinguish between madness and reality?’ She realizes that she can’t even trust herself and her own mind.

There were so many twists at one point and happened at such a pace that it was almost overwhelming. But I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. This is definitely not Fitzek’s first rodeo and he clearly knows how to keep the reader coming back for more. This made me look a up some of his other work which sounds just as exciting. I guarantee you that this is the first, but not the last book I read by this author!

Disclaimer: I was sent this free copy for review by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This does not influence my review or rating in any way. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

adult Books Fiction review Thriller

I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney – Review

Genre: Thriller
Published: January 2021
Publisher: HQ
Pages: 340
My Rating: 🦋🦋🦋🦋/5

It’s never, ever a good idea to let strangers see the real you. So as long as never forget who you are, acting will save you.

Alice Feeney, I Know Who You Are

One day Aimee comes home and discovers that her husband is missing, his wallet, phone and keys are still on the table. Where could he have gone or did something happen to him? 

Aimee Sinclair is an actress, with a dark past and secrets she would like to remain buried.

She calls the police immediately, but then they start to suspect her. Aimee is hiding something, but it’s not what they think. Trying to remain calm as well as trying to keep her career afloat proves harder than imagined. Someone knows Aimee very well and they know exactly what she did, the truth will eventually come out.

This book was a Christmas gift from my husband and he clearly takes careful note of my reading choice because he hit the nail on the head with this one. If you are looking for one twisty thriller then look no further. This book was a wild ride!

We all have secrets.

Secrets from ourselves as well as from others.

Ok, so I am going to be upfront about this and say that the end was a bit far-fetched, but that being said I enjoyed every moment of the rollercoaster ride of a story. I flew through this book in no time. With twist after twist, you will struggle to put it one down too. If you love a good psychological thriller then I would highly recommend this one.

The chapters are nice and short which I am always a fan of because I have this weird thing about not putting a book down in the middle of the chapter. The chapters alternate between past and present which again is something I enjoy in a thriller. I was hanging on to each and every word, you know the saying ‘just one more chapter’ or just a few pages.’ This is what I kept telling myself, but then it never is just that.

I found myself feeling conflicted about the main character Aimee. Between feeling bad for her and not knowing whether you can actually trust what she is saying. She has such a poor self-image despite being an actress, and has so much self-doubt and at times can’t see her own value.

Her character resonated with me to a degree as I’m sure everyone feels that way at times, as if they may not be good enough, maybe it was just a handout, maybe someone is just trying to be nice. It can be tough to work through especially if you had a tough childhood, like Aimee. She is constantly having to be reassured by others that she is talented and deserves her roles even though she can’t see it herself.

I never could have guessed that ending in a million years, like I said.. a little far -fetched, but you should not let that discourage you from reading this book at all. I can’t wait to read more by this author.

adult Books Mystery review Thriller

The Survivors by Jane Harper – Review

Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Published: February 2021
Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 384
My Rating: 🦋🦋🦋.75/5

They had reached the top of the cliffs and stopped at the lookout. Out on the water, The Survivors stood tall.

Jane Harper, The Survivors

Set in the small Tasmanian coastal town of Evelyn Bay, Kieran Elliot has had to live with the consequences of a reckless decision he made twelve years ago which claimed the lives of two young men, one of them being his brother. At the time another young girl Gabby Birch also went missing under suspicious circumstances. 

Now after many years he returns to his home town with his own family to help his parents with a move. But the town won’t let him forget his past mistakes. 

Then, the body of a young artist is found on the beach and a murder investigation follows. Questions arise about whether this may be connected to those past events. Haunted daily by his past, Kieran tries to come to terms with what actually happened all those years ago and discovers that there is more to it than he realised.

There’s just something about thrillers set in a coastal town that gives it an even more ominous feel. I always picture the weather to be gloomy with rough seas and the fact that this book centres around a tragedy that took place at the time of a storm made me picture it even more vividly.

“I’m so tired. I’m so tired of feeling guilty.”

This is definitely one of those books with a slow burn, but it really picks up just after halfway through. The timelines alternate between past and present, giving you just enough to keep you coming back for more. Harper sets the scene so clearly you can just imagine the quiet coastal town. This gives you small town vibes and the locals are not very keen on outsiders.

I like that it also deals with dementia and the difficulties that come with it. People are often misunderstood and it can be so difficult for the family to deal with as well, especially one who has gone through such a traumatic event.

This book explores how guilt can stay with a person for many years, impacting not only their own lives, but those around them as well. If not dealt with properly, it can also increase the risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression.

Overall, a beautifully written novel by a well-known author. I can’t wait to dive into some of her other work.

Disclaimer: I was sent this free copy for review by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This does not influence my review or rating in any way. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

Books Fiction review Suspense Thriller

Shiver by Allie Reynolds – Review

Genre: Thriller
Published: January 2021
Publisher: Headline
Pages: 425
My Rating: 🦋🦋🦋🦋🦋/5

“Right now, I’m not sure which of them I’m more scared of. I don’t trust any of them.”

Allie Reynolds, Shiver

A group of five friends are invited to a reunion at a mountain lodge situated at a ski resort in the French Alps after not having seen each other for ten years. When they arrive, they find that the place is deserted and have no idea who actually invited them. When they all met, they were at the peak of their snowboarding careers, but then tragedy struck and one of their friends went missing and was never found. But not everyone is innocent.

With an icebreaker game designed to reveal buried secrets and no way to leave the lodge, will they eventually discover what happened to their friend all those years ago.

“A shiver runs through me. What else do they planned for us?

If you are looking for a jaw-dropping story that keeps you on the edge of your seat, then look no further. Shiver has everything you could need and want in a thriller.

The story is told from the protagonist, Milla’s point of view as the friends are stranded at the ski lodge.

Alternating between the present and ten years ago and each chapter ending on a cliffhanger, you won’t want to put this book down until the very end. Everyone including Milla has secrets they don’t want revealed, but it gets harder to keep them hidden as the story progresses. You soon realize that no one is who you thought they were and that each relationship is more complicated than you think.

I love the different dynamics between each of the characters. I couldn’t help, but be drawn to Milla’s character with her insecure and competitive nature, constantly trying to prove she has what it takes and not easily accepting of help from others.

This book plays some serious mind games with you. When you think you can trust someone, a spanner is thrown into the works and you end up doubting yourself.

This was an absolutely brilliant debut novel by the author, the fact that she was a competitive snowboarder herself adds an authentic element to this story. Even though at times I had no idea what some of the tricks were that they were talking about in the book (you bet I googled them when I had the chance), it took absolutely nothing away from how much I enjoyed this book and it gets a well deserved 5 stars from me!

Disclaimer: I was sent this free copy for review by Jonathan Ball Publishers. This does not influence my review or rating in any way. All views and opinions expressed are my own.