Review: Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon

Don't Close Your EyesDon’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read in a while. It’s my first book from this author but I very much doubt it will be my last. It’s one of those books that you just can’t put down and I more or less finished the whole thing in one sitting.


Synopsis

A gripping novel of psychological suspense centered on two sisters whose lives have taken them apart, and the shocking family secrets that bind them together.

Twin sisters Robin and Sarah haven’t spoken in years.

Robin can’t leave her house. A complete shut-in, she spends her days spying on her neighbors, subtly meddling in their lives. But she can’t keep her demons out forever. Someone from her past has returned, and is desperate to get inside.

Sarah can’t go home. Her husband has kicked her out, forcibly denying her access to their toddler. Sarah will do anything to get her daughter back, but she’s unraveling under the mounting pressure of concealing the dark secrets of her past. And her lies are catching up to her.

The novel takes readers back in time to witness the complex family dynamics that formed Robin and Sarah into the emotionally damaged, estranged young women they’ve become. As the gripping and intricate layers of their shared past are slowly peeled away, the shocks and twists will keep readers breathless long after the final page.


Review

The story is told in alternating chapters from the points of view of twin sisters Sarah and Robin in both the present day and their childhood. Now in their early thirties both are having serious issues. Sarah has a wonderful family but has been ejected from their lives after being accused of something terrible. Robin is severely agoraphobic and spends her time spying on her neighbours or hiding from whoever it is she thinks is out to get her.

I loved the dual points of view and the two time periods and thought it worked wonderfully well. It’s not a particularly action packed read but there’s something about it that just draws you into the story completely and I found myself more emotionally engaged than I ever thought I would be.

For me Robin was probably the more interesting of the characters. As a child/teen she’s wild, angry, impulsive, out of control and just speaks her mind but as a thirty year old adult she has completely transformed into someone who’s scared of their own shadow and tries to control everything around her. You can’t help but wonder what has caused such a dramatic shift. I also absolutely loved the Rear Window aspects of her life. Trapped within her home, watching the neighbours and occasionally interfering in their lives.

Sarah, while possibly not as likeable as Robin, is still a fascinating character to read. She’s the complete opposite of her twin, the good girl, the quiet one who is always on her best behaviour but there’s something a little disturbing about her. She claims to love her family and her child but as you gradually learn the accusations that have been made against her you begin to wonder just how truthful she is.

I thought that the way the author gradually revealed the events of the past was exceptionally well done and a lot of the time I found that more compelling than the present. Without spoilers lets just say their childhoods were troubled because of the complex relationship between their parents and their parents friends.

It ended up being a much more emotional read than I was expecting and yes it did make me cry on a couple of occasions. Often with psychological thrillers you find that it’s difficult to connect with the characters (I blame the whole unreliable/unlikeable narrator trend) but I could feel what they were feeling.

It’s not too difficult to guess what the twists and turns in this book will be, they are quite clearly signposted, but I found I wasn’t really trying to guess and was just going along with the story, waiting for the disaster you could tell was coming.

If I had one criticism of this book, I’m afraid it would have to be the ending. I’m obviously not going to tell you what it is but with the build up I expected more and it was just all over a little bit too quickly for my tastes.

Despite this, I would definitely recommend. Just don’t start it if you have somewhere you need to be as it’s almost impossible to stop reading.

I won a copy of this book in a giveaway on Readers First.

Review: Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Stillhouse LakeStillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A exciting, well written edge of the seat thriller that left me almost as paranoid as the main character. This is a book you won’t be able to stop reading.

“What kind of idiot did you have to be to have that going on in your house, your bed, your marriage, and not be part of it? I’m still dimly surprised anyone ever acquitted me at all. I haven’t begun to forgive Gina Royal.”


Synopsis

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop.

Thoughts

Up until now I’d only come across Rachel Caine through her YA Morganville Vampire and Great Library series so I wasn’t sure what to expect from a thriller.

What I got was an edge of the seat and exciting thriller that I literally couldn’t put down. I found myself reading it late into the night, early morning and at every other possible opportunity.

I didn’t expect to like main character Gina/Gwen (I’m one of those who think the relatives of people who do evil things must know something) but Caine’ s writing is so good that after a few pages I was right behind her and more importantly I believed in her. There’s just something admirable about someone who’s so absolutely determined to protect her kids. She does come across a little bit paranoid at the start but really she’s incredibly single minded and gutsy which makes it difficult not to like her.

The story is pretty much a who dunnit, as the bodies of victims of gruesome crimes are found in the lake and the finger begins pointing in Gwen’s direction. There are however plenty of other suspects to choose from, including a number of other residents in the area as well as the online trolls who have been hunting Gina looking for payback. Gina/Gwen’s distrust of just about every one she comes in contact with seemed to rub off on me and I don’t think I trusted a single person. I think I had almost every character identified as the likely culprit at some point. I’m usually someone who’s quick to figure out the murderer (years of reading thrillers and watching cop shows) but this definitely kept me guessing, something I absolutely loved.

The success of books like this pretty much come down to the ending and in my opinion this one was suitably climactic with a couple more twists revealed right at the very end. This looks like it’s the first in a series so be warned not everything is wrapped up and there are a few loose ends which I know some readers will find frustrating. Personally I don’t mind and am really looking forward to another installment.

Definitely a book I’d recommend if you’re looking for a good suspense thriller that will have you looking over your shoulder.

I received this book free from Amazon through Kindle First.

ARC Review: One of Us is Lying by Karen M McManus

One Of Us Is LyingOne Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

Publication Date: 1st June 2017

Completely addictive and enjoyable read. I couldn’t resist reading almost straight away and once I started I couldn’t put it down.

Before I write anything else I should say that I’m a huge big massive fan of The Breakfast Club, it’s one of my all time favourite films. When I read the blurb for this my mind instantly thought “YES!!!!” it’s the Breakfast Club with a bit of murder mystery thrown in…. and it kind of is.

It begins with five teenagers, Addy, Nate, Bronwyn, Cooper and Simon ending up in detention together. Bronwyn is the nerdy one who gets good grades and never does anything wrong, Nate is the bad boy with a reputation for dealing drugs and the troubled home life, Cooper is the jock and Addy is the superficial popular girl. While they couldn’t be more different they all know where they fit in the school hierarchy and have their own friends, all except Simon. Simon’s the outsider who runs the school gossip app and knows everyone’s secrets. He’s more feared than popular. By the end of detention though, Simon’s dead and Addy, Nate, Bronwyn and Cooper are the main suspects.

I liked this story a lot. It has all of the elements of The Breakfast Club that I loved, the kids from different worlds and backgrounds being forced together and initially clashing before discovering that they might have more in common than they thought, but it brings it right up to date. Added to that it has a great murder mystery that keeps you guessing.

I have to admit I had an idea from the beginning who was behind it all but it was still a really enjoyable read that had enough twists and turns to keep me questioning my theory and turning those pages.

The characters are a little stereotyped but this is a deliberate part of the plot and I still found myself liking them a lot, particularly as they develop over the course of the story. Even those I wasn’t too sure about kind of grew on me by the end.

The narrative is told in alternating chapters from each of the four and it really gives you a great sense of them. I’m not always a fan of multiple pov’s but it works very well here although when you know each characters thoughts it does give an indication of who did what (or does it??).

The writing is excellent and for a debut novel it’s pretty impressive. The pacing is spot on and I loved the dialogue between the characters. The author also manages to sneak in some difficult teen issues but does it in a very natural way that gives positive messages in a non preachy way which is always good.

Overall, it’s a great story that I’d recommend and I’ll be looking forward to the authors next book.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own. One of Us is Lying is due for publication on the 1st June.

OK I can’t resist a Breakfast Club gif

Book Review: Sweetpea by C.J. Skuse

SweetpeaSweetpea by C.J. Skuse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Liked this a lot. It’s a cross between Bridget Jones Diary and Dexter. Hilariously funny at one moment and rather gruesome the next. I am slightly concerned with how often I agreed with main character Rhiannon’s thoughts but so far I haven’t actually killed anyone so I’m not quite at psychopath yet.

Definitely a story I’d recommend to anyone with a black sense of humor.

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Review: The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

The Girl BeforeThe Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Enjoyable story with some aspects that were fascinating but I didn’t connect to any of the characters and as a result the whole thing left me a little bit cold.

It’s well written however with plenty of twists and turns and reminded me a lot of The Girl on the Train. I think this is a book a lot of people will really love. It just unfortunately didn’t quite work for me.

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