Review: Her Pretty Face

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Title: Her Pretty Face
Author: Robyn Harding
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The author of the bestselling novel The Party—lauded as “tense and riveting” by New York Times bestselling author Megan Mirandareturns with a chilling new domestic drama about two women whose deep friendship is threatened by dark, long-buried secrets.

Frances Metcalfe is struggling to stay afloat.

A stay-at-home mom whose troubled son is her full-time job, she thought that the day he got accepted into the elite Forrester Academy would be the day she started living her life. Overweight, insecure, and lonely, she is desperate to fit into Forrester’s world. But after a disturbing incident at the school leads the other children and their families to ostracize the Metcalfes, she feels more alone than ever before.

Until she meets Kate Randolph.

Kate is everything Frances is not: beautiful, wealthy, powerful, and confident. And for some reason, she’s not interested in being friends with any of the other Forrester moms—only Frances. As the two bond over their disdain of the Forrester snobs and the fierce love they have for their sons, a startling secret threatens to tear them apart…because one of these women is not who she seems. Her real name is Amber Kunick. And she’s a murderer.

In her masterful follow-up to The Party, Robyn Harding spins a web of lies, deceit, and betrayal, asking the question: Can people ever change? And even if they can, is it possible to forgive the past?

Review:

I read this book in one day. I couldn’t put it down!

At the beginning everything was a little confusing. There are three different narratives. One by Frances, the mother of an autistic boy. Another is by Daisy, the daughter of Kate and sister of Charles. Charles is friends with Frances’s son. The third one is by DJ, who tells the story of the trial for his sister’s murderer decades ago.

The connection between the three stories becomes clear about halfway through the story. I began to piece together who everyone was and how they were related to the larger story. This kind of thriller, that slowly unravels throughout the book, can be hard to write well, but this one was very good.

Even though I had figured out what was happening, I was excited to read until the end. This story didn’t have a dull moment! I really loved it.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Review: The Last Time I Lied

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Title: The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Dutton
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.

Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present.

And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

Review:

I never went to sleep away camp as a kid, so I’m not sure if it’s as creepy as it’s portrayed in stories. It seems like a common setting where things go wrong, in books.

Throughout the whole story, I kept changing my theory on what happened to the girls. I could work out a motive for almost every character, yet I was wrong in the end. I was surprised at what happened to the missing girls. I loved the very end of the book. You have to read right until the last page!

The subplot of the insane asylum was fascinating. I wish it played a more important part in the main story of the disappearance of the girls. It seemed like another story that ran alongside the main one. I wish they had been more united.

This story reminded me of We Were Liars, which takes place at a summer cabin. It had the same spooky, mysterious elements to it.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Review: Providence

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Title: Providence
Author: Caroline Kepnes
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Random House
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of YOU comes a novel that is part love story, part detective story, and part supernatural thriller.

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other and their intense connection. But just when Jon is ready to confess the depth of his feelings, he’s kidnapped by his substitute teacher, a discredited scientist who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.
After four years in captivity, Jon finally escapes, only to discover that he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to Providence to protect Chloe while he searches for answers. Across town from Jon, Detective Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus is fascinated by a series of strange deaths–young, healthy people whose hearts just . . . stop. Convinced these deaths are a series of connected, vigilante killings, he jeopardizes his job and already strained marriage to uncover the truth.
With heart, insight, and a keen eye on human frailty, Kepnes whisks us on a journey through New England and crashes these characters’ lives together in the most unexpected ways, exploring the complex relationship between the powerful and the powerless, love and identity, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

Review:

This is a great thriller. Throughout the book, I had no idea how it would end, but I was satisfied with the final pages.

This was quite an emotional story. Both Jon and Chloe struggled with the loss of each other. It was heartbreaking to see them apart, because they really were meant to be together.

Jon’s condition reminded me of the main character in the Joe Hill book Horns. In that book, the character grows horns, like the devil, and people tell him their worst secrets. He can’t escape it, just like Jon.

I have never read any Lovecraft stories before, but now I’m tempted to. Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Review: Blood Will Out

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Title: Blood Will Out
Author: Jo Treggiari
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Ari Sullivan is alive—for now.

She wakes at the bottom of a cistern, confused, injured and alone, with only the shadowy recollection of a low-pitched voice and a gloved hand. No one can hear her screams. And the person who put her there is coming back. The killer is planning a gruesome masterpiece, a fairytale tableau of innocence and blood, meticulously designed.

Until now, Ari was happy to spend her days pining for handsome, recent-arrival Stroud Bellows, fantasizing about their two-point-four-kids-future together. Safe in her small hometown of Dempsey Hollow. But now her community has turned very dangerous—and Ari may not be the only intended victim.

Review:

I liked this thriller!

This book had me on the edge of my seat. There were some gruesome scenes that were hard to read, but they fit in with the story. There were some particularly disturbing scenes about animal abuse. However, these scenes characterized the kidnapper.

At first, I thought I had figured out who had taken her. Then, halfway through the story, I discovered I was wrong. I was pretty surprised at the ending. I wish it had been a more obvious person who was the kidnapper.

I was surprised to see so many negative reviews for this book, because I enjoyed it. I like when a thriller is unpredictable and has a unique storyline. Often thrillers, especially YA thrillers, can follow similar plots, but I enjoyed this different story.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Review: Still Mine

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Title: Still Mine
Author: Amy Stuart
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: Purchased
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Girl on the Train meets The Silent Wife in this taut psychological thriller.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU VANISH FROM YOUR LIFE AND LEAVE NO STORY BEHIND?

SOMEONE WILL MAKE ONE UP FOR YOU.

Clare is on the run.

From her past, from her ex, and from her own secrets. When she turns up alone in the remote mining town of Blackmore asking about Shayna Fowles, the local girl who disappeared, everyone wants to know who Clare really is and what she’s hiding. As it turns out, she’s hiding a lot, including what ties her to Shayna in the first place. But everyone in this place is hiding something from Jared, Shayna’s golden-haired ex-husband, to Charlie, the charming small-town drug pusher, to Derek, Shayna’s overly involved family doctor, to Louise and Wilfred, her distraught parents.

Did Shayna flee? Was she killed? Is it possible she’s still alive?

As Clare uncovers the mysteries around Shayna’s disappearance, she must confront her own demons, moving us deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of lies and making us question what it is she’s really running from. Twisting and electrifying, this is a get-under-your-skin thriller that will make you question what it means to lose yourself and find yourself in the most unlikely places.

Review:

This is a great thriller.

I found the beginning of this story a little slow. There was a lot happening, but I didn’t feel invested in the character of Clare. I wanted to know more about her and how she ended up investigating Shayna’s life. There was plenty of information about Shayna and the town, but not enough about Clare to make me feel connected to her.

There were twists throughout the story. Clare was a unreliable character, so she was usually unpredictable. She made bad decisions, though sometimes she just had to make the best of the situation she was in.

I really had no idea what happened to Shayna. Everyone in town had a motive to hurt her, including the possibility that she harmed herself or left. But I figured she didn’t just walk away because that wouldn’t make for a very interesting ending.

I really enjoyed this story. I can’t wait to read the sequel Still Water.

Review: Then She Was Gone

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Title: Then She Was Gone
Author: Lisa Jewell
Genre: Thriller, Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

THEN
She was fifteen, her mother’s
golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

NOW
It’s been ten years since Ellie
disappeared, but Laurel has never given up
hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet.
Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter.
Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away.

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go?
Who still has secrets to hide?

Review:

I loved this book! I couldn’t put it down!

I was hooked right from the beginning. Ellie’s disappearance was so mysterious. Even though we get a hint of who was involved in her disappearance early on in the book, the details of what happened are saved until the end. I didn’t want to stop reading because I really wanted to find out what happened to her!

I found Floyd so creepy right from the moment he was introduced. He was a little too good to be true. He seemed like the perfect guy for Laurel, which was too convenient. His daughter was a little odd too. Poppy is very mature for her age and she looks just like Laurel’s daughter. Their appearance in Laurel’s life was suspicious.

Though the novel was very suspenseful, the ending was so emotional that it made me cry. If you’re looking for a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, go read this book!

Review: The Woman in The Window

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Title: The Woman in the Window
Author: A.J. Finn
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Gift
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Review:

This book didn’t live up to the hype for me. I was expecting an amazing thriller, but I didn’t understand the excitement.

Anna was a very annoying character for me. She took tons of pills and mixed them with alcohol, but she was a psychologist, so she should have known better. The whole story was based on wondering if she was imagining things or not, and all those stimulants didn’t help her case. Really, there weren’t any likable characters in this book. The Russels were furious with her, though their son, Ethan, would speak to her. And even the police were rude and jumped to conclusions. It was frustrating to read.

I don’t want to give away the ending for those who haven’t read it yet, so I won’t give my comments on that. I guessed what was happening before it was said. I knew what happened to Anna’s family, and the solution to Jane Russel’s identity ended up being the first thing I thought of when I read it! The thing about figuring out this mystery is to look at what’s being said, and more importantly what’s not being said.

The last couple of chapters were pretty exciting, but unfortunately, the rest of the book was frustrating so I didn’t enjoy it.