Tag Archives: suspense

The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

2 Mar
woman-in-cabin-ten-ruth-ware

3 of 5 stars

I’m not going to gush over this book, but I’m not going to hate on it either. It was fine. I listened to the audio version, and that made it a little difficult to follow all the characters, but overall it was narrated well and I don’t think it had an impact on my review.

But I didn’t love it. I don’t think it really falls into the “Mystery” genre, it was more in the Thriller category. “Gaslit woman terrorized on tiny cruiseship” is basically the plot. I did not like the intermittent sections of news that told what was happening on land at all. It was so bizarrely off from what was happening on board that I thought maybe this was supposed to be a sci-fi book and the ship had cruised into an alternate dimension. But no, it was just a bunch of stuff thrown in to throw you off, way way way off, so off that you don’t have the slightest clue what’s going on, much less understand the mystery.

Well, I guess that veered into “hate on it” territory. I didn’t hate the book. I enjoyed it while I was waiting for it to start making sense. But the problem is that the last third, once you’ve finally figured out what has actually been happening, really doesn’t make any sense – not any logical, realistic sense. And I just didn’t buy anything that was happening in the last few days of Lo’s time on board.

On the plus side…. I understand what the author was going for, which is a great murder mystery surrounded by the extra-legal situation of international waters. I think she had a great idea, and she does come close to a very Agatha Christie type story. She just doesn’t quite get there.

Well if you want a fairly easy read, with a lot of mystery and excitement, or want a modern-day Agatha Christie but don’t care a whole lot about logic and sense, then you might enjoy this. That sounds sort of sarcastic, but it’s not. Sometimes you need a Mission Impossible or a Bourne Identity, and sometimes you need a Woman in Cabin 10.

Let me give it a GIANT thumbs up for one thing: Titling it The WOMAN in Cabin 10, and not The Girl. Thank you Thank you Thank you for that.

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The Perfect Stranger, by Megan Miranda

24 Feb
the-perfect-stranger-miranda-megan

FIVE stars of Five

Five stars all around.
This book had me completely on edge the entire ride.

The narrator is borderline unreliable; you are never quite sure if she’s telling us the truth, lying to herself, or outright crazy. She does have some boundary issues, some of which I related to, but the reader can’t be sure if they cross a line or exactly which line they cross. Megan Miranda does an excellent job of throwing in clues here and there to keep us off kilter.

But reliable or not (I’m not spoiling the answer!), the narrator is a very intelligent woman. I loved her. To the outside world she may have had some issues, and she’s disappointed herself, but that does nothing to take away the very quick way her mind works.

I’ve seen some reviews state that the narrative isn’t perfect, and while that may technically be true, Miranda accomplishes so much more than your average author does in a mystery book like this. This story is intricate, in the very best way, and I felt Miranda did a genius job putting it all together, just as she did in her previous book All the Missing Girls.

I don’t believe it’s a spoiler to state that nothing much is what it seems here, and that Miranda really shows how any narrator can be unreliable because you are seeing the story solely through their interpretation of events. But what if a reliable narrator tells you a story based on misinterpreted events?

All the Missing Girls was incredible and made me a huge fan of Megan Miranda, now The Perfect Stranger has sealed that deal. I cannot wait for her next book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for allowing me an advance copy for review.

Safe With Me, by K.L. Slater

3 Nov
safe-with-me-kl-slater

FOUR of Five stars

I loved this book, but let’s get one thing out of the way. I don’t really like the cover. It’s really not your average female-victim thriller, and it’s even a bit humorous at times (or maybe that’s just me). But this cover doesn’t make the book stand out in the way that it should.

The story is told mostly through Anna’s voice, after she views a road accident caused by a woman she believes is also responsible for the death of her brother. But it quickly becomes apparent that Anna is a very unreliable narrator, much in the realm of You‘s Joe Goldberg, and possibly just as bonkers. And just like Joe, Anna is often charming in her delusions of love.

But further into the book you realize Anna isn’t the only one with issues of psychology and/or outright deceit. Every single character in this book is hiding who they are in one way or another. And as all the layers are peeled away and we realize who is really who and what is exactly happening, the book becomes more and more difficult to put down.

The last ten percent however, falls a bit apart. It pains me to say that because I absolutely loved the other 90%, and it’s possible that others don’t have a problem with the ending. But for me the end was a little rushed, some logic was dropped, and some corners and character details were cut. It was not an unsatisfactory ending at all though, I just think the intense web of lies that the author created might have required a bit more time for her to arrange in a neater manner.

This is K.L. Slater’s first book, and while I felt the end lacked just a bit of organization, I 100% LOVED the rest, and absolutely look forward to what she puts out in the future. I am definitely a new fan!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an early copy in exchange for a fair review.

Evelyn, After, by Victoria Helen Stone

16 Oct
evelyn-after-victory-stone

Five of Five stars

This book is so many things, and I loved them all.

It’s about a woman struggling to come to terms with her husband’s betrayal.

Or it’s about a woman’s descent into madness as she tries to make sense of a no-win situation.

Or it’s Fatal Attraction told from Alex Forrest’s point of view.

It’s a horrific tragedy as a woman loses everything after making endless mistakes in an attempt to fix things.

But no, it’s a story of a woman picking up the pieces of her life and Winning. The last pages of the book turned the whole thing around from a deliciously terrible story about a sort of awful woman, into, honestly, a kind of inspiring story.  I think it’s easy to blame Evelyn for all the terrible choices she makes – and yes, she makes some really awful ones – but let’s not forget what started her on this path, WHO started her on this path. Absolutely none of this would have happened if not for the one truly terrible character in this story. Each character in this story makes their own choices and they all pay for them, Evelyn included. But the really unexpected (to me) situation at the end brings a lot of hope and comfort and… well, hope. Unexpected positivity.

This story could only have been told this well by a female author.  We all have a bit of Evelyn in us. You can disagree with everything Evelyn does in this book, but don’t judge this woman until you’ve walked a mile in her shoes. There truly is a little Evelyn in us all.

All the Missing Girls, by Megan Miranda

4 Jun
all the missing girls megan miranda

FIVE of FIVE stars

Holy f-ing crap this book is fantastic.
I don’t know how this book went from a fairly emotionless beginning to full speed excitement from which you can’t tear yourself apart… but Megan Miranda has done the job. And she has done the job WELL. I just this minute finished the book so I’m still digesting everything I just read, but I don’t want to lose this feeling before I start writing, so here I go.

The story starts with Nic Farrell receiving a call from her brother calling her back home to North Carolina for an emergency with their father. She arrives in the small little town she grew up in, we meet a few characters, and then we’re taken ahead two weeks. At this two week mark, everything still seems pretty dull in town, and I was trying to deal with the absolute lack of any joy in Nic’s character. It never occurred to me that we’d missed anything that happened in the previous two weeks.

And then it started going backward.

Day by day, like the film Memento, we are brought back (tick-tock, Nic) through the previous two weeks, and we peel back the layers of all the characters – and I mean ALL the layers. These characters who had at first appeared to be so tight-lipped and uncommunicative suddenly reveal a whole mess of trouble that happened during just those two weeks. At the same time, we learn bit by bit what happened ten years ago when young Corrinne Prescott disappeared.

What happened to her? Who was responsible? There doesn’t seem any way any of these characters were responsible, and yet they seem to be the only characters who could be responsible. I went over each suspect multiple times trying to figure out how any of them could be the culprit, and this requires not only paying attention to every single word and pronoun and tense, but also keeping track of everything that happened in the future so you can understand the past.

Sounds confusing? It is not. I wouldn’t recommend reading this over several days, but that won’t be a problem because you won’t be able to put the book down until it’s over. Once the book grabs you, it won’t let you go until the final page.

I am getting old, and I’ve come to the realization that there is no way I’ll ever read All The Books. So reading a book twice is now a waste for me when I could read a brand new one. This book changes that. I could read this book over right now, and then mark all the chapters so I could read it all over again backwards (I don’t recommend you do this the first time). I would make an exception to my rule, that is how much I loved this book. Miranda has pulled off an incredibly complicated story with very real characters. Characters you don’t begin to really know until the very end.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, female writers are KILLING IT in 2016. Put this book on your Must Read list now!

So many thousands of thank yous to NetGalley for the chance to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review, and thank you to Nicole at Simon & Schuster for urging me to move it to the top of my list. WAY more than five stars for this book.

See How They Run, by Tom Bale

19 May
see how they run tom bale

FIVE of Five stars

Five thrilling stars all the way around this book; for the writing, for the enjoyment, for the excitement, for the characters, for the humor and for the strong female characters.

The story begins with a terrible event happening to Harry and Alice French, one that could have gone horrifically wrong. In the following days as they try to make sense of what and why it had happened, they come into contact with several more characters who may or may not be good guys (or terrible bad guys). Quickly Harry and Alice are separated and buddying up with a partner neither knows, and the race is on. The race against bad guys, against bad guys trying to out thwart the bad guys, more bad guys trying to out thwart those bad guys, and one other woman who may or may not be trusted.

The story doesn’t stop for an instance as we skip back and forth from Harry to Alice, and sometimes to one of the other characters. No one has the full story of what is going on, but we have the gist of it, and there is no doubt at all about how dangerous the bad guys are, due to that first scene in the book. The moment Alice gets a moment to rest, Harry is racing bad guys down the highway. The moment Harry catches a break, Alice is again in danger. The excitement is relentless, there is virtually no way to put the book down because there is no pause in the action.

There is one other very important character that drives the story and the actions of Harry and Alice: their 8 week old daughter, Evie, who is along for the ride and in constant danger. Evie’s presence forces the reactions of her parents to be different than if they had been alone, and brings the excitment up to a constant heart-dropping level.

Amidst all the excitement I found it to be a bit humorous at times. Harry is no Liam Neeson from the movie Taken, he’s more like Andy Bernard from the Office. But make no mistake, if Andy’s daughter had been in danger he would have fought as hard as did Harry. The females are quite different. Three particular females (including Alice) drive the story from three different sides, and none of them are someone I’d want to go up against. All three of these women get their strengths from motherhood, and whether a mother or her brood are good or evil, a fierce mother bear is not one to be messed with.

The story reads as thrilling as an action movie, and for me it gave me just as much fun and enjoyment as sitting through a Mission Impossible movie. If there were any holes in logic or the story (none that I noticed) they would easily be forgiven for the enjoyment of the ride. And there is one missing character in the end whose story I would love to see continued in a future book.

Five amazing stars all around. I don’t have one single issue with this book, I purely loved it.

Thank you to NetGalley, Tom Bale and Bookouture for allowing me an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Loney, by Andrew Michael Hurley

6 May
The Loney andrew michael hurley

Four strong out of Five stars

VERY difficult for me to review this one.
I was shocked when I arrived at the final page, as it seemed like we’d just been faced with a whole new batch of questions that hadn’t been answered, to be added to all the previous unanswered questions. However the book is so exquisitely written, it is impossible to give it less than 4 stars.

In a nutshell it’s about the narrator and his brother, and the religious pilgrimage their mother brings them on in hopes of curing Andrew’s mutism. It’s definitely a work of literature, and if I had read this in college I would have been all over Esther Smith, the hyper-religious mother. Intriguing symbolism, religious and otherwise, is rampant throughout the book. I think a reader probably needs a very slow and careful reading, if not multiple readings, in order to get everything out of the experience.

It is dark and creepy, with terrifying moments that never come to anything. I loved reading the book, even though I kept waiting for something to happen. It is very carefully written so as the whole experience of reading it is just being on the edge of your seat, waiting for the bogeyman to pop out from behind a tree. You are convinced, at every point in the book, that this is when The Horrible Thing is going to happen.

Does it ever happen? You’ll have to read it and see. Obviously there are a lot of questions left when it’s over, but that appears to be the point. What exactly did happen? One reader may believe one thing, another reader might believe something different. It’s less about unanswered questions than it is about interpretation and beliefs.

I almost wish I had read this in college, so I’d be forced to take the time to pick apart this book and the characters and really delve deep into the symbolism. Yes, at the last page I was pretty mad at the book, but in the end it’s really a piece of art.

Many thanks to NetGalley for the early copy in exchange for an honest review. I struggle between 4 and 5 stars, but there were questions left about the narrator that I am too upset about not being answered.