Review: Blame by @JeffAbbott @GrandCentralPub

30842435.jpg

Buy Here

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

33391515

Buy Here

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

Review: The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter @HarperCollinsUK

34202834.jpg

Buy Here

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy smalltown family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville’s notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night. Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case which can’t help triggering the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried for ever

A person who has been up close when a gun is fired into another human being never mistakes the sound of a gunshot from something else.

In my humble opinion, Karin Slaughter is an amazing writer. From the moment I read her first book, I fell in love with her twisted mind. I like her Will Trent series, I love her characters and I admire the way she crafts her twisty plots. While Pretty Girls wasn’t my favorite, I found it addictive and a gripping read overall. However, I firmly believe that The Good Daughter (despite its cliché title) is a much better book overall. This is not a short book at all, but it’s as engaging and addictive as your typical psychological thriller. I also found myself highlighting various quotes and scenes I really liked, which is always a good sign.

This is a book that covers many themes, such as family, grief, and guilt. There are two main storylines and two main narrators, although as it usually happens, I got more attached to the one that came first. So yes, I’m looking at you, Charlotte. I can’t help it, I love you more despite not understanding you most of the time.

This is the story of two sisters, Sam and Charlotte, who see their lives fall apart when two masked men come to their house and hold them at gunpoint. What exactly happened 28 years ago? Did everyone survive? Flashforward to 28 years later and tragedy finds Charlie again when she happens to be at her old high school when a shooting takes place. But the suspect is not your typical cold-blooded killer, so Charlotte is pretty sure that some people are keeping secrets.

I loved your mother more than anything else on this earth. Every day with her was the best day of my life, even if we were screaming at each other at the top of our lungs.

Although this is definitely a mystery-crime novel, there is a lot of focus on family dynamics and marriage issues. I must say I loved this aspect of the book because I found Rusty -the father- to be an amazing character and I couldn’t help but love him dearly despite his obvious flaws -and all the mistakes he made-. I hope I’m not the only one. Another storyline I enjoyed: I was rooting for Charlotte and Ben from their very first scene together. Ben reminded me a bit of Ed Mackenzie from Big Little Lies and he won me over quickly.

Not everything is glowing, though, as I had some issues with the conclusion of both storylines. The two “twists” felt contrived, especially the school shooting one. However, I believe that the fact that I forgot I had to cook dinner (and eat!!!!!!!) while I was reading this book makes up for all of that.

So yes, of course, I’ll read your next one, Karin. Always.

Netgalley, HarperCollins UK, 2017

Blog Tour: Exquisite by Sarah Stovell @Sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks

34735173

Buy Here

Bo Luxton has it all—a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops. Or does it? Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

You’ve probably seen other reviews for Exquisite. They’ve been short and sweet, telling you to read it as soon as possible, otherwise, you might already know too much. I agree with those reviews, but I wanted to add some of my thoughts too, because after all, I always want to know what I’m going to find when I choose to read a book.

Exquisite is a classic psychological thriller. If you enjoy twisty plots, dual points of view and toxic relationships, you’ll probably love this one too. On the other hand, if you’re growing tired of the genre, I’m afraid you should maybe wait a bit and read it in a few months. I still think you should read it anyway. The perks are many: it’s not long, the writing is beautiful yet simple enough so you can keep turning the pages and, my favorite, you never know what to think. This is the story of a friendship that develops into something more, but… whose side are you on?

Exquisite is, as you could expect, completely addictive. The moment I started it, I knew it would be a quick read and I ended up devouring the whole book in about 3 hours. It was the perfect Sunday morning if you ask me. There was never a dull moment and I enjoyed it immensely.

I must admit that I was quite confused when I finished the book. I thought there had been a big twist but I wasn’t sure I had understood everything. After sharing my thoughts with other bloggers, I realized that I was the one imagining weird stuff. I simply read too much into things and you all know I have a twisted mind. In the end, the right explanation was the simplest one. I’m not going to lie, though, I think I prefer my ending 😉

ARC, Orenda Books, 2017

Exquisite blog tour poster (1).jpg

Appetite For Innocence (Lucinda Berry)

34655417.jpg

A serial rapist is kidnapping teenage girls. But he’s not interested in just any teenage girls—only virgins. He hunts them by following their status updates and check-ins on social media. Once he’s captured them, they’re locked away in his sound-proof basement until they’re groomed and ready. He throws them away like pieces of trash after he’s stolen their innocence. Nobody escapes alive. Until Ella. Ella risks it all to escape, setting herself and the other girls free. But only Sarah—the girl whose been captive the longest—gets out with her. The girls are hospitalized and surrounded by FBI agents who will stop at nothing to find the man responsible. Ella and Sarah are the key to their investigation, but Sarah’s hiding something and it isn’t long before Ella discovers her nightmare is far from over.

Last year I read a very special book called The Girl Before by Rena Olsen. Even though I did love it back then, it’s one of those that have been in my mind ever since. I’ve been searching for books dealing with similar themes and I often remember some of the scenes. When I came across Appetite for Innocence, I knew I had to read it because of the obvious similarities (not about the actual topic, but because of the protagonists).

This was not an easy book to read at all.  The writing (it flows, it’s simple yet compelling) but the theme is incredibly dark. Appetite for Innocence is about a man who kidnaps young virgins and tries to get them “ready” for him. What interested me the most was the fact that one of the girls, Sarah, had been with him forever and helped him kidnap and “groom” the other girls. She had been completely brainwashed, much as the woman from The Girl Before.

The psychology of what makes a young girl behave like that has always fascinated me. It’s easy to judge them, but I prefer to try to understand their motives and how they become that person. One thing that I really liked about this novel was how Ella’s mother felt so much for Sarah and wanted to help her despite her own daughter being against it. I could understand both of them and that’s something I’ve come to appreciate in books. The fact that not everything is black and white.

So yes, the book deals with a hard topic and features some dark scenes, one that I particularly hope I never have to read ever again. I swear I had to put the book down for a few seconds and those who’ve read the novel probably know which moment I’m talking about. However, you also know how much I admire an author that isn’t afraid to go dark and Lucinda Berry is clearly a writer to watch out for.

To be honest, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending, as I think it took the easy way out and I didn’t really like how the events played out. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t elaborate, but I was expecting something more complex and thought-provoking, not the classic thriller climax.

Buy Here

Rise Press, 2017