Reviews

Book Review: In the Woods ~ by Tana French

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Review: In The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) ~ by Tana French

Penguin Books/464 pages (paperback)

2008 – Mystery, Detective Genre

My Rating: 4/5

Click for Goodreads Description

My Thoughts:

In general, I think that I am pretty tough on most mystery novels. They have a tough job- they have to present just the right amount of detail about the case to be solved, they have to introduce suspects without clueing us into the “who done it,” they have to keep our interest in the case as well as in the lives of those surrounding the case, and they have to surprise us in the end. This is really difficult, which is why I am so rarely blow away by most mysteries.

“In The Woods” definitely ticked all of these boxes for me, and, more importantly, it ended up being a really insightful and fascinating story outside of the murder plot. Rob and Cassie were such complex and interesting characters – I could have read a book that just focused on their relationship and their individual pasts. French really shows the intricate working relationship between these two flawed detectives and how their pasts have colored every case that they come to. She also shows the unique relationship with the truth that most cops struggle with, and really gets into the mind of our lead detective (Rob). French’s writing is incredibly detailed, complex, and so so insightful.

So why didn’t I give it 5 stars? Without giving anything away, I will just say that the ending was slightly anticlimactic. I didn’t have a problem with the direction that the ending went plot wise, it just didn’t have the same punch that the rest of the book did.

If you are a fan of detective crime dramas, and specifically dramas that get into the mind of the detective, you should definitely give French’s work a look.

There is also a brand new Starz series of ‘In the Woods’ that begins on November 10th. I looks amazing – watch the trailer here

For more information on Tana French, you can find her here on Goodreads

You can find me on Instagram @somewhereinpages & Goodreads @erinrossi

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Reviews

ARC Review: Lock Every Door ~ by Riley Sager

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Review: Lock Every Door ~ by Riley Sager

384 pages ~ Thrilling Mystery, Suspense 

July 2, 2019 ~ Dutton

My Rating: 4/5 

Goodreads Description:

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

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My Thoughts:  

I am a huge fan of Riley Sager’s other two novels, Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied. The Last Time I Lied is one of my favorite thrillers EVER. So I am very grateful to NetGalley and Dutton Books for allowing me to read Lock Every Door early. Although Lock Every Door didn’t have the same type of “keep you up all night” suspense factor that Last Time did, I still really enjoyed it. It was exactly what you would expect from a Sager thriller. The first half of the book is spent building the history of The Bartholomew building. This layering adds to the very unsettling, lurking evil aura around its past. Halfway into the novel, it beginnings to pick up as Jules starts to dig deeper and deeper into the buildings dark legacy and from that point forward, I was completely hooked. Below are my pros and cons: 

What I loved: 

  • Jules- I found Jules, our heroine, to be super relatable and funny. Her tragic past and resent misfortunes really endeared me to her. She is a loyal friend and morally good despite the horrible situation she finds herself in. 
  • Rich vs. Poor– Sager did such a great job of showing the huge disparity between the rich and the poor of New York City. We see this in Jules’ past, in the homeless shelter, and, most importantly, in the Bartholomew itself. Without giving anything away, the ending also manages to capture this disparity and I felt that it was really thoughtfully done. 
  • History of the building– I loved that Sager went into the construction of the Bartholomew, its dark history, and the unexplained events that have occurred there since its construction.
  • The Investigation– Because Sager did such a great job of establishing a connection to the history of The Bartholomew, when Jules finally puts her investigator’s hat on and gets down to business, it was a really thrilling ride. I loved traveling with her around New York in order to uncover the buildings dark past. 

What I didn’t love: 

  • The “big reveal” (or lack thereof)– Jules, and therefore, the reader, figures out the “who done it” with 25% of the book still remaining. As she goes through the process of investigation and finally believes she has her answer, I was thinking – “this can’t be it, there has to be a twist somewhere.” Well, there was, in fact, a twist, but the twist only related to motive and not to who actually committed the crime. Because of this, there was a lack of suspense in the climax of the book, which is supposed to be the most exciting part. This was a little bit of a let down for me. 
  • Some moments were also a little cliche and had me rolling my eyes. It didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the novel, but it did make it harder to suspend belief. 

Overall, this was an enjoyable and thrilling mystery. Fans of Sager’s other work will not be disappointed. It will be a perfect summer beach or vacation read!

Lock Every Door is out today, July 2nd, 2019!!! 

For more information Riley Sager and his books, check him out on Goodreads

Click here SomewhereinPages to find me on Goodreads.

Reviews

Book Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle ~ by Stuart Turton

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Review: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle ~ by Stuart Turton

432 pages (Hardcover) ~ Thrilling Mystery, Suspense, Time Travel

September 18, 2018 ~ Sourcebooks Landmark

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

“Gosford Park” meets “Groundhog Day” by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you’ll read this year.

Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath.

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My Thoughts:  

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This book! I don’t even know how to describe it because it is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. My brain literally hurt when I finished it, but in a satisfying- “I just accomplished something” type of way. I had to start taking notes halfway through because there were so many characters and so much detail. The story is a constant roller coaster with twists and turns and “wait what!?” moments. You are kept guessing the entire time. There is witty banter, a dark creepy house with a sordid past, family scandal, murder (obviously), but there is also a really cool philosophical element to the story that you don’t see coming amidst all the scheming and backstabbing. I absolutely loved this book! While I don’t necessarily think this book is for everyone, I do think there are a lot of readers that will enjoy its dark twists and turns. You will most likely enjoy The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle if you like:

  • Clue – (both the game and the movie) You are basically playing clue in this book except your “character” changes daily
  • Downton Abbey – If you like the upstairs/downstairs drama and intrigue, this is definitely for you
  • Agatha Christie – this mystery is set up just like a Christie novel and Turton does a great job of paying homage to her style
  • Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, the characters in this novel have to complete tasks before they are free, these “tasks” are designed to help them become better people- rehabilitation is the goal. A very Dickensian theme

Overall, I thought this was a really smart, interesting, unique, and well written novel. The only drawback for me was that the middle section did tend to lag in a few places. But the reward at the end was definitely worth it. This was an amazing first novel from Stuart Turton and I’m so excited to see what is next for him! 

For more information on Stuart Turton and his books, check him out on Goodreads

Click here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Instagram and here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Goodreads.

Reviews

Review: ARC of The Stranger on the Beach ~ by Michele Campbell

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Review: The Stranger on the Beach~ by Michele Campbell

353 pages (Hardcover) ~ Thrilling Mystery, Suspense

July 23rd, 2019 ~ St. Martin’s Press

My Rating: 2/5

Goodreads Description:

There is a stranger outside Caroline’s house.

Her spectacular new beach house, built for hosting expensive parties and vacationing with the family she thought she’d have. But her husband is lying to her and everything in her life is upside down, so when the stranger, Aiden, shows up as a bartender at the same party where Caroline and her husband have a very public fight, it doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

As her marriage collapses around her and the lavish lifestyle she’s built for herself starts to crumble, Caroline turns to Aiden for comfort…and revenge. After a brief and desperate fling that means nothing to Caroline and everything to him, Aiden’s obsession with Caroline, her family, and her house grows more and more disturbing. And when Caroline’s husband goes missing, her life descends into a nightmare that leaves her accused of her own husband’s murder.

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img_2561My Thoughts:  

Unfortunately, this mystery didn’t hit the mark for me. From the start, there were things that just kept preventing me from getting into the story.

  • I did enjoy the fact that both narrators were unreliable, however, because I was never sure who was telling the truth, it made it very difficult to relate or to sympathize with either character. It also made the story difficult to follow because the timelines and events were completely muddled.
  • I didn’t like either character. I found Caroline annoying and Campbell seemed to go out of her way to make her fit into every stereotypically rich white woman cliche possible. Because Caroline’s POV was flippant and, quite frankly, abhorrent, it made the writing appear unsophisticated. I feel that the style the author used for Caroline’s POV was intentionally done in order to make readers question her credibility, however, it just made the book really difficult to read.
  • There were moments when I liked Aiden, but his character was overshadowed by the ridiculous story Caroline was weaving. He also came across completely unrealistic.

Overall, I did finish the book, which means that I was engaged enough to make it the end and I did actually care about the outcome. The ending does have a twist, but unfortunately, it was a pretty predictable twist.

Despite everything, I really liked the questions that the book posed regarding our desire to automatically place blame based on preconceived ideas- ie: male, criminal record, poor. I liked that it portrayed our desire to ignore guilt when it comes to those who are rich, put together, or from a certain class. This was definitely the most interesting part of the book for me.

The Stranger on the Beach comes out July 23rd and it would be a nice “who-done-it” for the beach or a plane ride. Thank you so much to NetGalley and to St. Martin’s Press for sending me the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Click here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Instagram and here > SomewhereinPages < to find me on Goodreads.

Reviews

Review: The Silent Patient ~ by Alex Michaelides

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Review: The Silent Patient ~ by Alex Michaelides

323 pages ~ Thrilling Mystery, Suspense

2019 ~ Celadon Books

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

ALICIA

Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO

Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

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My Thoughts:  

The hype around this book and this debut author is definitely well deserved. The story is crafted so well, the writing is stellar, and there is so much attention to detail. It was insanely fast-paced and nearly impossible to put down once started. It keeps you guessing and questioning yourself the entire time. It was smart, suspenseful, unpredictable, and anxiety-inducing. Everything that you want from a good thriller!

Below are a few things I loved and a few things I had issues with:

What I loved:

  • By far my favorite aspect of the book was the discussion of psychotherapy, the “talking cure” as Theo refers to it. The book questions the merits of therapy throughout. Questions like: how and why does psychotherapy work? What are the limits of therapy? Are some people beyond its effects? How much do we end up repeating our trauma regardless of being “cured?” You never for a second forget that Theo is a psychotherapist and his POV is uniquely colored by both his past, his own experiences with therapy, and his profession.
  • Alicia was fascinating. I loved reading her journals and I felt that her voice was captured really well. Michaelides did a great job of creating a distinct voice for her that was drastically different from Theo’s. I would have liked more of Alicia’s past and her relationships with her father and husband, but I understand there is only so much room to do that in a thriller.
  • Alicia’s use of the Greek tragedy of Alcestis in order to communicate was a brilliant connection. At first, it was so hard to see how the pieces of the tragedy were going to fit with Alicia’s story, but when they finally did, it added such a fascinating and heavy layer to the sadness of it all.

What I didn’t love:

  • The book didn’t have the dark, creepy vibe that thrillers usually have, instead, this book was actually pretty freaking sad. I cried at the end and was kind of depressed. This is probably just me, I don’t really like stories that involve infidelity and child abuse- both of which are center stage here. So, if those topics are also not your cup of tea, probably best to avoid this one.
  • The rest of my complaints involve the ending so I have created a section below that is full of spoilers…so proceed with caution. However, if you have read it, I would love to hear if you agree or disagree with me.

 

Spoiler Below:

You have been warned. There will be spoilers below.

I would really hate to spoil anything for anyone, especially with a thriller.

  • Ok, let’s talk about the ending. I have read a lot of reviews where people claim that ending took them completely by surprise. This was not the case for me. I had a feeling it was Theo the second he found out his wife was cheating on him and he started to follow her. So, about 25% into the book. However, I completely dismissed this theory because of one crucial piece of information that was intentionally left out of the entire book…….THE TIMELINE!! I thought, “there is no way the Theo theory works because Kathy is cheating on Theo 6 years after Alicia’s tragedy.” It was also at this point that I started thinking it was really strange that there were no years listed after any of the dates. I feel like Michaelides was kind of cheating us here. You can’t just leave the dates completely off and then say “Ha Ha I fooled you!” at the end. No! You didn’t fool me, you left off the freaking dates!! This seemed like a cheaters attempt at a twist if I am being honest.

Even though I obviously had reservations about the ending, the book was really enjoyable for all of the reasons that I mentioned above. I would definitely recommend it to other thriller lovers. I am excited to see what Michaelides writes in the future.  

I listened to the unabridged audiobook on Audible narrated by Jack Hawkins from the BBC’s Call the Midwife and Louise Brealey from the BBC’s Sherlock. Both actors did an amazing job of bringing this story to life. If you are an audiobook fan, this is definitely one to check out. Link here Audible 

For more information on Alex Michaelides and his books- Click here Alex Michaelides to find him on Goodreads.

Click here SomewhereinPages to find me on Instagram and here SomewhereinPages to find me on Goodreads.