Review// Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

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Author: Lisa Unger
Series: Standalone
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Book Length: 368
Publisher: Park Row
Review: 2/5

My Review:

I realize this is a very niche preference, but something about a book with characters that meet on a train, or where is train is involved in some way instantly intrigues me, so of course I had to read this.

This book follows Selena, a working mother of 2 young boys, who misses her usual train one day after spying her nanny, Geneva, and husband, Graham, cheating on their nanny cam. On the 7:45 train home, she has an eerie encounter with a stranger whom she confides in about what she just witnessed. A few days later, their nanny mysteriously vanishes without a trace. The book goes back and forth between a few POV’s as the reader tries to piece together what has happened.

I have a love/hate relationship with books that have multiple POVs. On one hand, I think this style works so well with mystery/ thrillers because it keeps you guessing for longer and allows for so much anticipation from all the cliffhangers each person’s unique POV leaves you on. On the other hand, when you have too many cooks in the kitchen, the recipe can get messy, fast. Some of the POVs confused me to the point where I had to back track to make sure I was understanding correctly, and while it’s not a huge deal, it can be annoying to continuously feel like you’re not quite caught up on who is who and what is going on. I think half of the POVs weren’t even necessary, which made me so bored when those ones came along.

This book gave off a major ‘man hating’ vibe as well, which was quite strange. How it is that not one man in that town was faithful or trustworthy!?

*MINOR SPOILER AHEAD

Not to mention, how far fetched is it that on the night of the nanny’s disappearance, Selena’s young son who couldn’t have been more than 10 years old had recorded her unbeknownst to her on his iPad? Aside from the fact that it’s highly coincidental and pretty creepy, are iPad-quality videos even that good? * Spoiler ended.

I get that coincidences happen in life, and they have to happen in books to move the plot along, but it was a bit much.

Anyway, this book was okay – it had some interesting moments, but the switching between characters and one character having multiple aliases and names in the midst of all of that really did me in. This could have been better if at least one character was likable, but I was not rooting for anybody in the book. The only person I was rooting for was myself to finish this as soon as possible to get on with something better.

– Catherine

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Review// The Guest List by Lucy Foley

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Author: Lucy Foley
Series: Standalone
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: June 2, 2020
Book Length: 330
Publisher: William Morrow
Review: 5/5

My Review:

On an eerie, seemingly haunted island off the coast of Ireland, a beautiful, successful couple – he a television star, she a magazine publisher – celebrates their wedding. The happiest day of their lives, right? Wrong. As the events of the weekend start to unfold, secrets are spilled that link the guests, who otherwise have never met, in ways you wouldn’t imagine. At the end of the wedding day, someone ends up dead, but who is it, and why?

Picked this one up on a whim and my mind is blown; I was not expecting to love it as much as I did! The ambiance of the book was amazing. It felt like I was there on that spooky island, a fly on the wall listening in on all the private conversations that held tantalizing secrets – one more shocking than the last. There were quite a few different points of view in this book, and while that can sometimes be confusing, it was done so well! Although some of the characters annoyed me, I enjoyed all viewpoints, and after every chapter, there was a cliff hanger that made me want to read “just one more”. This book kept me guessing who the killer was, right up until it was revealed.

I flew through this book in 48 hours, and if I hadn’t stopped myself multiple times, I would have easily finished it much quicker. Gripping, scandalous, and cryptic: all words I would use to describe The Guest List. It’s no wonder it won Goodreads Choice as best mystery/thriller of 2020. 

– Catherine

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Review// You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes

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Author: Caroline Kepnes
Series: You #3
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Book Length: 385
Publisher: Random House
Review: 1/5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Joe is done with the cities. He’s done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.

He gets a job at the local library—he does know a thing or two about books—and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle; he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old-fashioned way: by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.

The trouble is, Mary Kay already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s busy.

True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him.

My Review:

If I could sum this book up in one word, it would be: disappointing, which actually shocks me because You is on my favourites shelf, and I enjoyed Hidden Bodies too. But oh boy, this was Not It™.

Joe was insufferable in this book. Between his “Meercats”, “Murakami’s”, “Mothballs” “RIPs”, and “Rats”, I wanted to pull my hair out. Just call people by their regular names, please. It felt like he was going around in circles bringing up the same made-up nicknames for people and things and its like we get it! The first few times it was okay, but it kept happening in literally every chapter and it really irked me; it did not seem authentic, it just seemed like he was trying way too hard.

In the other 2 books, but especially You, I loved being inside Joe’s mind. I thought his character was so well written that I actually wanted him to kill Beck, and Love, and Peach, and everybody else who crossed his path (I know, it sounds bad), but this time, I didn’t – I just wanted him to stop talking. What made him such a good character to me was that he had this affect on me before where I knew he was a bad guy, but I somehow still wanted him to succeed, and that was not the case here. I just felt annoyed the entire time and I’m honestly so sad about it!

Also, the way he and Mary Kay met and were instantly in love felt so random and forced upon the reader. I guess I’m just used to Joe kind of chasing the woman a bit, like a cat and mouse game, but there was none of that suspense involved in their meet. It was kind of just like, ‘well, she’s married so I guess I have to convince her to not have any morals about this affair I’m trying to get her into’. However, I hated how hot and cold she was too – honestly just make up your mind already! And do not get me started on Melanda. Not only did her dialogue annoy the heck out of me, but the way he was texting from her phone gave me second-hand embarrassment; it felt extremely animated, as if he were trying to type like a 16-year-old girl, even though she’s probably like a 30-something year old woman. Her dialogue made me think she was in her 50s, his texting pretending to be her made me think she was 16; it was so strange.

Anyway, as upset as I feel to have to say this, I think it might be time for me to retire Joe and his narrative from my rotation of insta-pickups; I just can’t take another one like this, and I would rather not continue to taint the image of one of my favourite books by reading something that I’m no longer enjoying the direction of.

– Catherine

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Review// House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Series: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy & Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Book Length: 304
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Review: 5/5

My Review:

One of the most hauntingly beautiful books I’ve ever read.

On one New Year’s Eve ten years ago, three young sisters – Grey, Vivi, and Iris – were on a walk in Edinburgh, with their parents trailing behind them. For a split second, their parents turned to each other to share a midnight kiss, and when they looked up ahead, their children were gone. A month later, the children were found standing on that same road, naked, each with matching half moon scars at their throats, their dark hair turned white, and none of them remembering how they got there. Except, maybe one of the sisters does remember, and now that a masked man is starting to appear everywhere, seemingly after them all, continuing to live the lie means the difference between life and death. 

What initially drew me in was the cover – I mean, just look at it. As I started reading though, I realized that what’s inside is even more awe inspiring. The characters!! The setting!! The mystery!! The unraveling of secrets!! It was all so good. The book gave me witchy, fairytale vibes, and I loved it. There were a few parts that were pretty gorey, and actually spooked me out, but it was nothing too intense. It was creepy but beautiful at the same time, and I’m so impressed with how the two opposites were portrayed so well together.  

I think it ended perfectly because it could be good as a standalone, but also has a perfect segue into a second book if the author chooses. I could definitely go for a House of Hollow sequel, so I’m going to hold out the hope that there’s another book because I couldn’t get enough of this!

– Catherine

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Review// A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

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Author: Holly Jackson
Series: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder #1
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Release Date: May 2, 2019
Book Length: 433
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Review: 5/5

My Review:

This book is the poster child for the phrase, “just one more chapter” – I could not put it down. It was like Pretty Little Liars, with all the drama and secrets, meets the narrative style of Sadie, with interviews woven in between chapters, and I loved its mixed-media style.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is about a high school student named Pippa who chooses for her senior Capstone project to be about the media’s influence on criminal investigations. Turns out, this topic is inspired by a murder investigation that happened in her small town 5 years prior of a girl named Andie Bell who attended the same high school. Andie’s case is closed, as the police believe they had enough evidence to convict Andie’s boyfriend, Sal, who had killed himself shortly after the investigation opened. But Pippa isn’t so sure that Sal killed Andie, and she’s going to use her project to prove it.

I can honestly say that this thriller was thrilling . Even though the answers were kind of right under my nose, I still was not 100% sure of anything until the end when things were revealed. I think what most impressed me is that even when the reader has the ‘aha moment’ of what happened, there is still a huge twist attached to it that makes you want to find out more!

Pippa as the main character was amazing; I absolutely adored her. I also loved Ravi, Sal’s brother, and them two as a duo, trying to solve the mystery together. From the beginning, I liked that they were always a bit flirty, but their attraction to each other never overpowered the story. I hate when books try to steer away from the main plot with a love story, and I’m so glad that didn’t happen here.

If I had one criticism of this story, it would be that as I was reading, I sometimes thought that a few things that led Pippa forward in her investigation were a bit coincidental, but when I really thought about it, if things were not a little bit coincidental sometimes, mystery books would simply not exist, and I’m so glad this one does.

Please pick this book up if you are into the mystery/thriller genre; it may just be the best one from it I’ve ever read. 

– Catherine

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