Black-Eyed Susans

Title: Black-Eyed Susans
Author: Julia Heaberlin
Publisher: Penguin Group
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Crime | Mystery | Thriller
Rating: 3

That was my grandfather’s one survival tip if I ever found myself trapped in a fairy tale. Keep your promises. Bad things happen if you don’t.

I read the blurb for this on Amazon and I instantly fell in love with the plot. There was just something about Tessa thinking that she was safe, but then the murderer starts leaving her flowers and that really intrigued me. I wanted to see how she reacted and where the murderer was going to attack again. However, when I started reading the book was not what I expected at all. For starters the plot wasn’t about the murderer returning in modern time, as I was expecting, but was more about the trial resolving around the man who was originally convicted as the Black-Eyed Susans’ murderer. At first I was a little disappointed but I quickly became invested in the plot when everything began to unfold.

Another thing that I wasn’t a fan of was the alternating point of views. Heaberlin worked it really well to introduce shocking things in one point of view that quickly produced a parallel in the other. They worked really well and it was a great technique by Heaberlin but personally I still didn’t like it. It was irritating and quickly became annoying as the book developed. Young Tessa’s point of view quickly became uninteresting and her character was too stuck up for my liking. All she seemed to want to do was disrupt the trial and she didn’t seem that impacted by her situation, which seems pretty improbable.

Some of the characters were really interesting. Older Tessa was such a great character for me. It was easy to see how much she worried about her little girl and the lengths she went through to defend her girl were admirable. Effie was such a great character as well, although I felt like she was a bit useless. She didn’t have a huge role in the novel other than as a supporting character. In young Tessie’s life, I was really intrigued by Lydia’s character. She was so dynamic and different and she was so loyal to Tessa! Although the ending ruined that a little.

Speaking of the ending, I don’t know about anyone else but the ending/cliffhangers were really predictable as far as I was concerned. I felt that young Tessa’s twist was much more interesting and definitely the most predictable of the two, however there were a lot of hints dropped throughout the novel.

In my opinion this book is quite good. It’s not as bad as I make out, I assure you of that! I just had quite a few faults with it. I would definitely suggest giving it a read!

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I See You

Title: I See You
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Thriller | Mystery | Crime
Rating: 5

It doesn’t matter how fast. Because there’s always someone who can run faster.

I just had to pre-order this one when I heard that Mackintosh was releasing her second book and I am so so glad that I did. I admit that I was on the I Let You Go train and I can understand why it was the crime novel of the year last year but, personally, I think that I See You was even better. I admit that when I first heard about it I was a tad worried that the second book wouldn’t live up to the first but I actually found this book really good. If you were thinking the same thing, then you have nothing to worry about! Panic over!

It’s probably a good idea to start by saying that I’m not a commuter. However this did nothing to impact my reaction to the novel. In fact I ended up putting it down one night in fear of triggering bad dreams. I See You was definitely creepy and at 1am I didn’t think it was a good idea to keep going. Having said that I devoured the rest of it the next morning and the only reason it’s taken me this long to write the review is because I don’t know just how to sing the praises for this one without giving away too much of the plot! 

Although it mainly focuses on commuters I can promise you that even if you’re not a commuter you will still get a chill from this. I See You is also about daily routine. It’s about that trip to the shop you take every morning to get the paper or the route where you walk the dog, you know the one – along the river and through the park. It’s about the times where you’re alone. When you’re oblivious. That’s when they’ll come for you. It doesn’t matter to them who you are, what your ethnicity is or even your age. All that matter is your routine. And that you’re alone.

This book was brilliant, perhaps my favourite crime novel of all time. Zoe is such an ordinary character, making her story that more relatable. She’s no one special; she could be anyone that you pass on the street or sit next to on the sub. She could be anyone. She could be you. Then there’s Kelly, who is a bit too independent and brash but can also hold her own when it comes to it. With a hard past that leaves her dragged down by an invisible weight, she’s yet another great character and really adds a little extra to the story.

Altogether I really enjoyed this one. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good crime novel and I know that Paige is going to delve into it soon. Seriously Mackintosh’s writing performs at a high-standard yet again, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

The Lost Swimmer

Title: The Lost Swimmer
Author: Ann Turner
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Year: 2016
Genre: Mystery | Thriller
Rating: 1

But careful was the last thing I intended. I would do whatever it took to find Stephen.

I don’t see what the craze is about?

This was supposed to be a good book. I mean, if you go off how much people are raving about it then this should have been a brilliant book. But for me it wasn’t? I don’t know what I missed but clearly I missed an entire book or something because this was not 5 star material as far as  I was concerned.

This book promised thrills. I was reassured it would be filled with mystery (and a murder mystery to boot!), except that it took over 200 pages to get to the murder. And the murder is in the blurb! It’s a key part of the plot and it’s in the final third of the novel. Doesn’t that sound strange to you? Not to mention the majority of the first part of the novel is school problems and the most random scenes with kangaroos, which do absolutely nothing to influence the story line.

So no, I wasn’t sold on the novel at first but I hoped it would get better. I like to hope.

But the book was slow, until we hit the disappearance and then it seemed to crash into a break-neck pace for the final 100 pages. We got to watch as Rebecca races across Europe searching for her husband and then it’s over. Full stop. I just wasn’t engaged. The characters were flat and didn’t really have much of a backstory. I didn’t feel a connection between Rebecca and her husband and outside of one small gesture I couldn’t see the claims of a mistress either. Her first person point of view was irksome and I couldn’t understand why she was so obsessed with this perfect (read: not so perfect) husband. Not to mention the fact that she was so naive when it came to certain points and I was left to wonder how someone like that could be a Head?

There were too many large chunks of unnecessary description to keep me hooked to this one and it definitely could have done with a lot more thrill. Although Turner did a few things right, there was a heck of a lot of wrong in this one and to by the end I just wanted to find out what happened and start on my next book.

Altogether this book was unbelievable and long and winding with no great plot twists like I was expecting. I really wasn’t a fan. But the cover was pretty.

The Girl on the Train

Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Mystery | Thriller
Rating: 2

Now look. Now look what you made me do.

What I was expecting going into this novel was a fast-paced psychological thriller but what I actually got were the jealous ramblings of a drunk woman and the obsession with being someone deemed worthy, but they can only be defined by their relationship. Paige also read The Girl on the Train and while she devoured and loved this novel (review here), I didn’t find it half as spectacular as it promised to be.

The opening pages were incredible. I was hooked on page one and two and then the plot (and the drinking) started and my motivation slowly started to dwindle. There were good points to this book, such as her black spots. The idea of her blacking out and forgetting things were reminiscent of Before I Go to Sleep – a book that I adored – and it really created a sense of mystery that I couldn’t get enough of. But that was the only good thing about her drinking problem. For the rest of her time her constant consumption of alcohol was repetitive and frustrating.

Except for when it proved functional! Like showing the differences between the characters. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I’m not a fan in changing POV’s but in situations like this it was seriously damaging for my opinion on the book. There were chapters where I couldn’t differentiate between chapters until Rachel started drinking. Not to mention the fact that there were time-skips between chapters that made the entire seriously more confusing!

I guess this entire novel would have been better if I hadn’t guessed the murderer halfway through the novel, as well. When it came to the big reveal towards the end, some people may have found it thrilling but I just couldn’t wait for it to move on to them getting taken away because I’d already figured it out so many chapters earlier! Maybe I read too many books, but this was so predictable.

This should have been a good book. The characters were dark with so many mysteries intertwined in their past and were perfect for any thriller with their psychological problems. But it was ruined for me by the things I listed above. But please be aware that this was my personal opinion. Many of you could love this like Paige did.

You should definitely let us know which one of us  you agree with~

The Gauguin Connection

Title: The Gauguin Connection
Author: Estelle Ryan
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Year: 2012
Genre: Mystery | Crime | Thriller
Rating: 4

Emotions had always been a nuisance to me. I knew that they were messengers, telling me what was happening in my psyche, but having them often interfered with rationality.

The Gauguin Connection has one thing that a lot of other mystery novels lack, in my opinion – a truly unique protagonist. There are so many ways that people can be murdered and mystery writers use and create these in abundance. But when it comes to the mystery solvers, we always seem to have the same old Joe in every single one. The smart, charming male detective and his gorgeous female love interest. Then we’re hit with the astounding character that is Genevieve and, well, I was hooked instantly. Unlike most characters, Genevieve copes with a social disorder that prevents her from having a normal life. But that doesn’t stop her from doing what she believes she has to, even when it may put her in incredibly awkward situations!

I stumbled across The Gauguin Connection on yet another search for a free book to read at work and I really did like it! It’s not only the astounding main character who makes the book though, it’s the stellar supporting roles that also made this an interesting read! Colin is an example of the typical suave gentleman but with an interesting twist. He’s a “bad guy” and a thief but he’s not also completely terrible. Then there’s Vinnie, who might just be my favourite character in the novel. He’s a dangerous crook and a gun for hire but he’s also a giant teddy bear, who is amazing in the kitchen! They work together so well and it was so humorous to read all of their interactions and banter.

In fact, this entire novel was such a pleasant read! It was a tangle of clues leading to other clues that could only be unravelled when the entire team worked together. There were many times when I had no clue what was going to happen next and I was actually interested to see the way that Jen-Girl worked everything out. Most of the time books skip over the stage of actually doing the research and, although it may sound boring, The Gauguin Connection actually does that. And it’s really fun. I found it so interesting to see what Genevieve used and how her connections were made!

If you’re looking for a book to read then look no further. This is a nice read and it was free on the Kindle store when I snatched it up so you should definitely have a look over there and see if you can find it too! I was a bit disappointed at the ending but it was just opening up to a new book, which will hopefully be just as good as the first!

The Girl On The Train

Title: The Girl On The Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Double Day
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Thriller | Mystery
Rating: 4.5

“One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl. Three for a girl. I’m stuck on three, I just can’t get any further. My head is thick with sounds, my mouth thick with blood. Three for a girl. I can hear the magpies, they’re laughing, mocking me, a raucous cackling.  A tiding. Bad tidings. I can see them now, black against the sun.  Not the birds, something else. Someone’s coming. Someone is speaking to me. Now look. Now look what you made me do.

I don’t even know where to start. I mean, when I read the first two pages of this book they were so haunting it sent a chill right down to my spine. The extract above was in the book twice – the first time was as a sort of teaser on one of the first pages that I mentioned sending a shiver down my spine.

So many people had told me how good this book was, which obviously gave me some unrealistic expectations but the book did just about live up to them. It took me a little while to get into it, but only because of the teaser on the first two pages. It was written beautifully, and I was desperate to find out more. Though we didn’t actually get to main plot/story until about 40 pages in, which isn’t that long thinking about it now but when I was reading it originally it felt like ages!

It took me longer to read the book because I had to keep starting and then stopping, but for everyone else I’d imagine it wouldn’t take long to read it as the book is written sort of like diary entries. There are multiple point of views which was slightly confusing to begin with, mainly because the dates changed with each point of view but other than it was quite easy to follow.

There were one or two characters who were quite similar, but it was purposely done so that didn’t bother me that much. In my opinion though, the characters made the book. Don’t get me wrong, the plot and the twist was good but it was better because of the characters. I really like the way everything was distorted, and we had to try and piece things together and it took a while for the twist to come which meant I didn’t see it coming – which is actually quite weird because I’m used to guessing it quite early.

I would love to continue talking about the book, but I fear there isn’t much more I could say without spoiling it for all you potential readers, so I will end it here and just suggest all you mystery and thriller lovers check this book out because you wont regret it!

Are You Still There?

Author: Sarah Lynn Scheerger
Publisher: Albert Whitman
Publication Year: 2015
Genre: Romance | Mystery | Suspense | Thriller | YA
Rating: 4

‘Stupid me for entertaining the thought that someone would care enough to stop me. Apparently, no one can. Because I still float, invisible as dust. Lost. Forever.’”

When I stumbled across this book on Netgalley, it was the cover that drew me in but it was the blurb that made me stay. The plot for this novel just sounded so thrilling and such a nice change to the mystery novels that I usually read. I was looking forwards to something fast-paced and engaging and it didn’t let me down, most of the time anyway.

Scheerger dived straight into the action with the opening chapter of Are You Still There. Most authors would choose to put the school lockdown and bomb threat towards the end of their novels, but Schreeger throws the readers straight in to the deep end within the first few pages. Because of this, the novel is gripping right from the first few pages and I thought it was brilliant that the story was instantly engaging and managed to maintain this level of excitement for a large part of the novel.

I did find that there were a lot of points where the novel became less about the mystery of the identity of the ‘Stranger’ and more about Gabriella’s social life and her problems with relationships and coming out of her shell. I also found that a lot of the friendships formed through her volunteering programme were created fairly quickly, considering they were apparently all from completely different cliques. There were also a lot of parts where I felt like she made terrible decisions and some that just seemed pretty unbelievable, such as the bomber’s attachment to Gabi as I don’t think we’re ever given a reason as to why the bomber chose her over someone else. However I thought that Scheerger’s idea for a Student Crisis hotline was great and it was worked really well into the plot with the bomber.

One of my favourite bits was the Stranger Manifesto! It was so well written and it managed to be beautiful and poetic as well as being quite worrying. I think these small glimpses into the mind of the terrorist definitely made everything a lot more thrilling and truthfully I don’t think the novel would have been nearly as exciting without these small sections throwing contrast into the parts flooded with Gabi’s teenage angst. By the end of the book, I was actually starting to feel sorry for the Stranger, to be honest, because I could definitely understand where they were coming from. Although I probably wouldn’t have taken such drastic actions.

Altogether I really enjoyed this novel and managed to read it all in one day because I was so desperate to find out the identity of the Stranger. I was rather disappointed by the ending and the identity of the killer (mainly because all of my guesses were miles off) but it was quite fun trying to weigh up all of the different characters and attempt to work out who the Stranger was. This book actually reminded me quite a bit of Thirteen Reasons Why, so I think fans of that should definitely give this one a try.