Mini Reviews #7 Yesterday & Working Fire

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Hello there! We’re back with a Mini Reviews post. This time, I bring you two books that I read during my vacation. I thought they were really entertaining but they won’t leave a lasting impression…

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Imagine a world in which classes are divided not by wealth or religion but by how much each group can remember. Monos, the majority, have only one day’s worth of memory; elite Duos have two. In this stratified society, where Monos are excluded from holding high office and demanding jobs, Claire and Mark are a rare mixed marriage. Clare is a conscientious Mono housewife, Mark a novelist-turned-politician Duo on the rise. They are a shining example of a new vision of tolerance and equality—until…a beautiful woman is found dead, her body dumped in England’s River Cam. The woman is Mark’s mistress, and he is the prime suspect in her murder. The detective investigating the case has secrets of his own. So did the victim. And when both the investigator’s and the suspect’s memories are constantly erased—how can anyone learn the truth?

Yesterday had a fascinating premise and I couldn’t resist requesting it. What if you could only remember what happened yesterday? What if there was a crime and you only had today to solve it?The book featured four different voices from very different characters. Monos and Duos. Husband and wife. Lover. Detective. This was a psychological thriller based on a sci-fi premise and it’s an interesting concept, no doubt.

At first, I couldn’t understand why Duos thought they were so much better than Monos. How is remembering two days so much better than remembering one? Then I realized this was exactly what the author had been trying to imply. In our world, this happens with racism and sexism and it makes no sense whatsoever. But some people still believe they’re superior.

As fun as this book was, I couldn’t help but find the plot a bit predictable. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters either, so while I liked it, I can’t say I loved it. In my opinion, there was something missing.

Netgalley, Headline, 2017

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Ellie Brown thought she’d finally escaped her stifling hometown of Broadlands, Illinois; med school was supposed to be her ticket out. But when her father has a stroke, she must return home to share his care with her older sister, Amelia, who’s busy with her own family. Working as a paramedic, Ellie’s days are monotonous, driving an ambulance through streets she’d hoped never to see again. Until a 911 dispatch changes everything. The address: her sister’s house. Rushing to the scene, Ellie discovers that Amelia and her husband, Steve, have been shot in a home invasion. After Amelia is rushed to the hospital, Ellie tries to make sense of the tragedy. But what really happened inside her sister’s house becomes less and less clear. As Amelia hangs on in critical condition, Ellie uncovers dark revelations about her family’s past that challenge her beliefs about those closest to her…and force her to question where her devotions truly lie.

Working Fire is a contemporary novel with a touch of mystery. This is the story of two sisters and is told from both perspectives: Ellie’s and Amelia’s. We know that Amelia has been shot, so the present narration helps us understand Ellie’s grief and determination to find out what happened. At the same time, we learn about Amelia’s life before the shooting and what exactly leads to that moment. I loved the relationship between the sisters and the family tragedy, their love for their father and the sacrifices they had made. I despised some of the other characters but found them interesting nonetheless. The writing is subtle and engaging and the book touches various themes like family, love, marriage, and lies.

I was always interested and wanted to know what had happened, but I thought there were too many unnecessary details and I struggled a little, skimmed through some pages because of that. The ending was unpredictable and introduced some interesting discussions. What would have we done?

Netgalley, Lake Union Publishing, 2017

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Blog Tour: The House by @Simon_Lelic @PenguinUKBooks

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Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it. So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake. Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

The House is a new and suspenseful psychological thriller written by Simon Lelic. First things first: I thought the blurb was excellent, as it didn’t give anything away. I started the book knowing nothing about the plot and after a few chapters, it was clear that my initial idea wasn’t correct at all. This wasn’t what I thought it would be… and I’m glad!

My favorite aspect of The House was Simon Lelic’s writing. It was written in a “journal” style that made it easy for me to get into the story and feel what the characters had experienced. The book is told from Syd and Jack’s point of view. They were so different that at times I wondered if they would survive as a couple, but they also cared about each other a lot. But the lies. Oh, the lies…

The House was a gripping and easy-to-read thriller that grabbed me from the very first paragraph. It’s a creepy novel and it certainly involves some dark topics, but it’s not horror, don’t worry. Although I must say that there was a scene involving a cold hand that made me shiver. I would’ve never slept in that house again! I love it when houses become another character in the story.

The book reminded me a bit of Peter Swanson’s Her Every Fear and that’s a good sign since I really enjoyed that one as well. In addition, The House didn’t rely on a shocking twist, although there were plenty of surprises once you get to the 50% mark. It’s a consistently intriguing story and it features a difficult but fascinating character (Syd).

All in all, this is an enjoyable psychological thriller that is well-written and full of tension, although it doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre.

ARC, Penguin UK, 2017

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Mini Reviews #6 It Was Only Ever You & The Walls

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And here I am again with two very different books that managed to keep me addicted despite not falling in love with them.

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Set in late 1950s Ireland and New York, the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven. Set, like Maeve Binchy’s early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven. Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.

When I decided to read It Was Only Ever You, I knew it wasn’t exactly my kind of book, but I fell in love with the cover, and Ireland and NY are two of my favorite scenarios, so I was quite excited anyway. This was an enjoyable book featuring three different women who live in New York -under different circumstances- and their relationship with Patrick, a popular Irish singer who has just arrived in the city. The writing was gorgeous and evocative and I could picture myself in New York in the 50s. The dresses, the dances… Although I obviously don’t share that era’s obsession with getting married 😉

However, as much as I enjoyed the setting, I confess I never liked Patrick or Rose and I only really cared for Ava, so I wasn’t especially invested in the romance part. I believe It Was Only Ever you was an interesting and solid read, but it won’t be a story that I remember forever.

ARC, Head of Zeus, 2017

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Working on death row is far from Kristy Tucker’s dream, but she is grateful for a job that allows her to support her son and ailing father. When she meets Lance Dobson, Kristy begins to imagine a different kind of future. But after their wedding, she finds herself serving her own life sentence—one of abuse and constant terror. But Kristy is a survivor, and as Lance’s violence escalates, the inmates she’s worked with have planted an idea she simply can’t shake. Now she must decide whether she’ll risk everything to protect her family.

The Walls had an extremely intriguing blurb, so I, of course, wondered where the story would go. I read this with Zuky, although she ended up not finishing the book (not a success!). As for me, I must say I did enjoy the book, especially in the beginning, but I ended up quite disappointed by the time I reached the ending. I never read Baby Doll, so I don’t know if the books are similar or not, but the death penalty angle was what attracted me to this story in the first place. After a few pages, though, I realized the story was a domestic suspense novel but I expected the two storylines to come together at some point. Wouldn’t you?

This was a thoroughly addictive novel, although I think it lacked a bit of tension. The ending pages could’ve been more suspenseful but instead, I felt like there hadn’t been an actual climax and I was left feeling a bit underwhelmed. The pros? I absolutely adored Kristy’s son and I thought she and her family were endearing, so I wanted everything to be okay for them. I really cared for this family.

Netgalley, Redhook, 2017

Review: Blame by @JeffAbbott @GrandCentralPub

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Two years ago, Jane Norton crashed her car on a lonely road, killing her friend David and leaving her with amnesia. At first, everyone was sympathetic. Then they found Jane’s note: I wish we were dead together. From that day the town turned against her. But even now Jane is filled with questions: Why were they on that road? Why was she with David? Did she really want to die? Most of all, she must find out who has just written her an anonymous message: I know what really happened. I know what you don’t remember…

I’m going to be honest here: I probably didn’t pay much attention to the blurb when I requested Blame by Jeff Abbott. I started reading it thinking that the book would be about neighbors and secrets in a community, so when I discovered that it was about a 19-year-old suffering from memory loss, I was quite disappointed. Another one? It was not what I was expecting at all.

However, next thing I know, I put the book down and I had already read 30%. And I wanted more. I was complete addicted and I needed to know what was going on. I absolutely loved Jeff Abbott’s writing skills and the way he portrayed Jane’s search for the truth. Sure, I didn’t like Jane that much at first, but as soon as she got over that “girl on the train” state, I was completely on board. I wanted to join her and help her investigate. Sneak into private detective offices and steal secret files. Oh yes.

I usually struggle with the “middle” section, but this was one of those cases where I just couldn’t put the book down. The middle was my favorite part. So many characters, so many suspects. And everyone had a story to tell. The mystery was fascinating and it was clear that there was something sinister going on. The suspense was there the whole time and small details were introduced in every chapter: the missing note, the anonymous comments, the medical records…

As much as I loved the book, I can’t say I liked the ending. There were many storylines and clues that made for an excellent mystery, so when the big reveal came, I think I felt a bit underwhelmed. It didn’t exactly click. I had been expecting a different conclusion so that everything else made sense and I thought the author’s choice didn’t live up to the expectations.

Despite my reservations about the ending, when I later reflected on my impressions, I realized I had immensely enjoyed Blame so I had to give it a great review anyway. It was a gripping psychological thriller and the mystery was well-crafted and twisty, just the way I love them.

Netgalley, Grand Central Publishing, 2017

Review: The Final Girls by @riley_sager @EburyPublishing

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Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead… They were the victims of separate massacres. Grouped together by the press, and dubbed the Final Girls, they are treated like something fresh out of a slasher movie. When something terrible happens to Lisa, put-together Quincy and volatile Sam finally meet. Each one influences the other. Each one has dark secrets. And after the bloodstained fingers of the past reach into the present, each one will never be the same.

Like most of you, as soon as I saw the Final Girls‘ blurb and cover I knew I had to read it. I’ve always been a fan of horror-slasher movies so the “Final Girl” phenomenon is something I thought I’d enjoy reading about. However, this books is actually a psychological thriller, although the flashbacks scenes were classic horror-flick material.

What I liked the most about this book was precisely that horror theme. By the time I read this book I had already forgotten the blurb, so I thought the book would focus only on Quincy and her past trauma, but I was surprised when we learned about Samantha and Lisa and the fact that someone might be attacking survivors. I thought that was pretty unique. What if you survived a massacre only to become a victim of a crazy psychopath many years later?

Quincy Carpenter was the typical character in a psychological thriller: you don’t really like her but you can’t stop reading her story while judging her actions and thoughts. I think this is something that bothered me in the past but, although I definitely prefer to actually like the main character (for example, The Girl Who Was Taken), I’m already used to not tolerating characters and still enjoying the book. I also loved how the author introduced the social network and “blogger” dynamics, as I felt everything she mentioned was completely true.

I want to say this is one of those cases where my predictions were almost 100% correct but I still loved the way it ended. Especially when you find out what really happened that night years ago… I was so glad that the author chose that path! And the last chapter made me smile, too. On the other hand, I think the previous twist (concerning the present storyline) was too predictable. If you’re a fan of thrillers and horror films, I think you’ll enjoy this one. I know I did!

Ah, and the book reminded me a bit of Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I know Stephen King says that if you like Gone Girl, you’ll love this one, but they aren’t similar at all 😉

ARC, Ebury, 2017