Book Reviews

Book Review: Hideaway by Nicole Lundrigan

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Hideaway by Nicole LundriganHideaway by Nicole Lundrigan
Published on July 9, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 320
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

What if home is the most dangerous place you can be? Gloria Janes appears to be a doting suburban mother and loving wife. But beyond her canary-yellow door, Gloria controls her husband, Telly, as well as seven-year-old Maisy and her older brother Rowan, through a disorienting cycle of adoration and banishment.

When Telly leaves, Gloria turns on Rowan. He runs away, finding unlikely refuge with a homeless man named Carl, with whom he forms the kind of bond he has never found with his parents. After they are menaced by strangers, Rowan follows Carl to an isolated cottage, where he accidentally sets off a burst of heightened paranoia in Carl, and their adventure takes a dark turn.

Gloria is publicly desperate for the safe return of her son while privately plotting ever wilder ways to lure Telly home for good. Her behaviour grows more erratic and her manipulation of Maisy begins to seem dedicated toward an outcome that only she can see. The two storylines drive relentlessly toward a climax that is both shocking and emotionally riveting.

It takes someone of immeasurable cruelty to force their child out into the dark woods come midnight as a form of punishment. That is the kind of person Gloria is, a woman who never should have become a mother.

She’s more monstrous than anything one might find out in the forest. Gloria’s treatment of her two children, Rowan and Maisy, is the nexus of Hideaway, a gloomy, tragic, adventure story about a child who finds comfort in a mentally unstable man who lives under a bridge.

Hideaway is not an easy book to read. Stories about child neglect and abuse never are, especially because we know people like this exist in the real world.

I wish I liked this novel more. I think it has something to say and a compelling story to tell, but, I found myself unable to make it past the half-way mark. Telling the story from the perspective of the children was a smart move, yet I often felt bogged down by long passages winding nowhere.

Carl was a frustrating character too, the overuse of the “urh,” sound became grating after a while.

Hideaway is a great novel for some, the book has high reviews on Goodreads and other platforms, but for me, it felt too long and too bleak. It wasn’t to my liking, unfortunately.

I would still recommend it to anyone who finds the premise intriguing. It’s unlike many novels I’ve read, and its uniqueness makes it an excellent story for some. Be aware of the dark subject matter beforehand.

About Nicole Lundrigan

Nicole is the author of seven novels including GLASS BOYS, THE SUBSTITUTE, and HIDEAWAY (available NOW). Her work has been selected as a Top 10 pick by Canada’s national newspaper the Globe and Mail, a top 100 on amazon.ca, a top 10 by Now Magazine, was long-listed for the Relit Award, and given honourable mention for the Sunburst Award.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Bethlehem by Karen KellyBethlehem by Karen Kelly
Published on July 9, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 304
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

With the writing chops of Ian McEwan and the story-craft of Lisa Wingate, Karen Kelly weaves a shattering debut about two intertwined families and the secrets that they buried during the gilded, glory days of Bethlehem, PA.

A young woman arrives at the grand ancestral home of her husband’s family, hoping to fortify her cracking marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed.

Inspired by the true titans of the steel-boom era, Bethlehem is a story of temptation and regret, a story of secrets and the cost of keeping them, a story of forgiveness. It is the story of two complex women—thrown together in the name of family—who, in coming to understand each other, come finally to understand themselves.

Kelly’s debut novel makes a terrific splash in weaving together the tale of two complex women, both haunted by the tragedies of the past and the unrelenting nature of love in its most daunting form – uncontrollable.

Uprooting his family to the town of Bethlehem, PA and its lustrous history of the steel industry, Joanna discovers the faults in her marriage run deeper than she anticipated.

It is only under the cruel light of the endless blue skies she begins to see the dark truth of not only her own life but the thunderous echoes of the past. Often left to her own devices due to her husband’s busy work schedule, Joanna finds herself taken with the eccentric caretakers of the home.

She floated in Chap’s arms like a feather in a stream, with a strange, transcendental feeling of utter fulfillment, made more bewildering by the fact that she hadn’t realized it had been missing before.

Her new connections lead her to make a curious connection with her mother-in-law, a woman whose story mirrors Joanna’s in an almost uncanny way.

Bethlehem is a vibrant, soapy, and absorbing debut. It’s romantic without being sappy, mysterious without being dour, and realistic with its descriptive passages of aureate architecture and old-money opulence.

What makes Bethlehem such a startling novel and a departure from the tired and true romantic sentiments is its disavowal of a fated “to be.” There is a sadness to love, the idea that being enraptured by one may blind you to the truth.

Karen Kelly makes an exhilarating debut with this historical fiction novel. Stick with it. The beginning can be daunting due to its many character introductions and alternating usage of the timeline.

Rest assured you will be eased into the complicated family relationships between the Collier and Parrish families. The delicate intricacies of their family relationships form the underlying foundation of this story and beg the question of familial history – if one does not understand the past is it doomed to repeat?

Only when Susannah recognizes the imposter, does she impart a moral to the woman who became so inexplicably linked to her in the past and the present.

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About Karen Kelly

Karen Kelly has a BA in English from Vanderbilt University,
and lives in Edina, Minnesota.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Divorce by Victoria Jenkins

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Divorce by Victoria JenkinsThe Divorce by Victoria Jenkins
Published on July 4, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 224
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

When Lydia and Josh Green walk into Karen’s office one rainy February morning, Karen sees a couple under stress, almost at breaking point. But working with struggling couples, finding out more about their problems, helping to save their marriages, is what Karen does.

But as Karen spends more time with Lydia and Josh, her sense of unease grows. Lydia is something more than just a woman whose marriage is in trouble. She seems frightened for her safety. Josh is angry, grief-stricken and seems to be hiding a dark secret.

And soon Karen herself is afraid – there is something about the behaviour of this couple that recalls traumatic incidents from her own past. There is something there that may be the key to saving them, if Karen can only unlock it in time.

It’s strange to me that so many publicity teams try to compare psychological thrillers to the heavyweights like Gone Girl. Mainly because most of the time, there are no similarities beyond the genre. Not every thriller is deserving of this comparison.

The Divorce is unique due to its narrative structure. Each chapter represents a different perspective of one of the three characters involved in marriage counseling.

The main character, Karen, is the counselor. The other two, Lydia and Josh Green, are the participants.

During each session, Karen gains further insight into the complicated relationship between the Greens. She suspects Josh may be hiding abusive tendencies given his rage issues and Lydia’s meek, fearful manner.

We are privy to how all three characters think and feel as the story bounces around each one, chapter by chapter. The idea of a psychological thriller playing out through various therapy sessions was an appealing idea to me. It reminds me of an old HBO show called In Treatment with a similar concept.

But The Divorce never delivers the same tension as In Treatment managed to. It is boring, tedious, and challenging to get through. The first half of the book goes in circles with every chapter retreading the same conversations and arguments again and again.

For a book that isn’t long, it drags. I wish the chapters had been shorter and more to the point. Then, by the time you get to the ending and the twist, it becomes ludicrous compared to the plodding story prefacing it. I predicted it early on, and it even intrigued me. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the way it panned out.

Should you read The Divorce?

I suggest you watch In Treatment instead. It’s full of more complex characters and intricate development. The Divorce is well-written, Jenkins has a talent for figurative and descriptive language.

I truly wanted to enjoy this book. For the first few chapters, I did. Then it became clear I would be in for much of the same for an extended period, and my interest slowly dwindled with every page.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Whisper Network by Chandler BakerWhisper Network by Chandler Baker
Published on July 2, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 320
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

Four women learn their boss (a man who’s always been surrounded by rumors about how he treats women) is next in line to be CEO—what will happen when they decide enough is enough?

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita are four women who have worked at Truviv, Inc., for years. The sudden death of Truviv's CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Ames is a complicated man, a man they’ve all known for a long time, a man who’s always been surrounded by...whispers. Whispers that have always been ignored by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching Ames’s latest promotion differently. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.

Sloane and her colleagues set in motion a catastrophic shift within every floor and department of the Truviv offices. All four women’s lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.

Whisper Network is an undeniably important read. Built as a thriller, this book explores the daunting and intimidating task that lies ahead for women who have experienced any form of harassment by a man much higher up the career ladder than they are.

What do you do? Do you grin and bear it? Do you risk your job to file a complaint that could be weaponized against you? Do you rage? Do you scream? Do you yell?

First, you whisper. You warn the other women in your life. We send out secret signals to each other, our modus operandi, our method of protecting ourselves and each other.

That is the basis of Whisper Network. A realistic and compelling story about four women who find themselves victimized by the same man. But when an anonymous list is circulated detailing all the men in the Dallas area who are known for their catcalls, their groping, and at their very worst, assault, a light shines from above.

For once these women can let their voices be heard. They can offer protection, they can warn and prevent, while knowing their jobs are safe.

Then everything they’ve built is threatened when their CEO jumps off the roof and kills himself, setting off a chain reaction of events that all lead right to the heart of a courtroom.

Whisper Network is a damn addicting read. Told by alternating point-of-view chapters mixed with flash-forwards to court depositions, interviews, comment threads, and more, Baker does an excellent job of weaving a compelling narrative, albeit one that runs a little longer than it needs to.

The brilliance of this story is that none of these women are the “perfect victim.” I can’t tell you how happy I was to realize that. In fact, some of the main characters are downright unlikable, which is brilliant.

Rude women get raped. Women who have affairs can still be harassed by the men they once slept with. There is no such thing as a “perfect victim,” which feels like a robust underlying point of the Whisper Network.

Every woman who experiences assault or harassment in this book is hugely different. Some of them have even done horrible things. Society believes you can judge a woman’s believability and worth by her past decisions. But rape is rape. Assault is assault. It doesn’t matter what you did before that moment, all that matters is that moment.

Should you read Whisper Network?

Yes, yes, 1,000 times, yes! The only issue I had with this book is some of the feministic notions felt a little shallow to me (the frequent mentions of Tina Fey and giving up blowjobs in the name of feminism? okay.), but beyond that, this is a timely and essential read. It’s also just a genuinely good book and exceedingly well-written.

Whisper Network is a little like Big Little Lies for the legal crowd, and it shouldn’t be missed. Chandler Baker has become a must-read author for me after this novel.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Friendship Pact by Alison James

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Friendship Pact by Alison JamesThe Friendship Pact by Alison James
Published on July 3, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 270
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

I’m Lucy, and I have a secret.I have a beautiful home, that I’m desperate to escape. But that’s not my secret.I tell my friends I’ve never wanted children, when I always have. But that’s not my secret. My husband is a celebrated surgeon, who tries to control me. But that’s not my secret.

Adele knows. Once upon a time, I knew everything about her and she knew everything about me. Best friends forever. But now our secret is beginning to surface. I can trust her more than anyone. We made a pact. And she’s never do anything to hurt me. Would she?

This absolutely gripping psychological thriller will have you forgetting everything until the last shocking twist. Fans of Behind Closed Doors, Friend Request, and The Girl on the Train will be hooked.

If you liked Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris, then you will already know what to expect from this novel. It’s almost identical in plot and how it plays out.

The most significant difference is the introduction of Adele Watts, former best friend of our main character, Lucy. Their friendship was an unlikely one. Lucy has never known anything but being wealthy and privileged, while Adele is now an ex-con who has lived in or near poverty her entire life.

When we meet Lucy, she is nearing the breaking point of her marriage with a volatile, abusive, cardiologist husband, Marcus. Once she decides to get out of her situation, at any cost, Lucy reaches out to the one person she believes can help her, Adele.

The novel is called The Friendship Pact, and the synopsis teases the secret kept between Adele and Lucy as a pivotal plot in the book. The mystery does come into play, we learn about it through a now-and-then flashback format, but as far as its plot significance, it’s minimal.

The Friendship Pact is split into three parts. The first part is gripping, although I had issues with the portrayal of abuse, in the same way, I did with Behind Closed Doors, but it is more believable and less exploitative and gleefully disturbing in this book.

Once the story reaches its second and third act, all the urgency has seeped out. I found the second half of the book harder to get through, mainly because poor Lucy is passed from one abusive man to another (a mild spoiler, it’s obvious). The plot becomes increasingly predictable too. You may figure it out before you reach the half-way mark, I did. Only one twist shocked me, and it ended the first part of the book.

Another pet peeve I have with thrillers is the idea that everyone in the protagonists’ world is oblivious, stupid, or evil. I understand these things can happen in real life, but some of the side characters’ reactions didn’t seem realistic. And speaking of side characters, there were several who served no real purpose.

Should you read The Friendship Pact?

It’s not a bad thriller, it is engaging, and the author knows how to write in a gripping way. But after blowing through the first part of the novel in eagerness to find out what happened, you may find yourself as deflated as I did when the rest of the story takes a sharp decline into dullness.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Girls Like Us by Cristina AlgerGirls Like Us by Cristina Alger
Published on July 2, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Crime, Thriller, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 384
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

From the celebrated and bestselling author of The Banker’s Wife, worlds collide when an FBI agent investigates a string of grisly murders on Long Island that raises the impossible question: What happens when the primary suspect is your father?

FBI Agent Nell Flynn hasn’t been home in twelve years. Nell and her father, Homicide Detective Martin Flynn, have never had much of a relationship. And Suffolk County will always be awash in memories of her mother, Marisol, who was brutally murdered when Nell was just seven.

When Martin Flynn dies in a motorcycle accident, Nell returns to the house she grew up in so that she can spread her father’s ashes and close his estate. At the behest of her father’s partner, Detective Lee Davis, Nell becomes involved in an investigation into the murders of two young Hispanic women in Suffolk County.

The further Nell digs, the more likely it seems to her that her father should be the prime suspect–and that his friends on the police force are covering his tracks. Plagued by doubts about her mother’s murder–and her own role in exonerating her father in that case–Nell can’t help but ask questions about who killed Ria Ruiz and Ariana Marques and why. But she may not like the answers she finds–not just about those she loves, but about herself.

Martin Flynn dies during a late-night motorcycle accident while traversing the dark roads of Suffolk County. To put his affairs in order, his daughter, Nell Flynn, a behavioral analyst from the FBI, returns to her old stomping grounds.

Nell’s task is meant to be a simple one. Disperse her father’s ashes, attend to his will, and decide what to do with his house. Then the body of a young woman is found in an affluent, and Nell is invited to be a consultant on the case by her father’s old partner at the SCPD, Det. Lee Davis.

Girls Like Us veers into FBI procedural territory. It is Alger’s richly descriptive prose and intricate plotting that elevates this novel to a compelling crime thriller.

There is no confirmation that this novel is anything but a standalone; however, in my opinion, it is an excellent foundation story to set up a series, one I would fully support.

Flynn is one of the better-developed characters in the novel. She is sharp, grounded, confident (sometimes to the point of recklessness), and she carries the trademark darkness all the best fictional detectives have. Girls Like Us did what it set out to do in wrapping up its central plot, but it doesn’t quite wrap Nell’s story up.

I don’t mean to say the ending isn’t suitable to the book, it contains a poetic and fitting epilogue, but I did feel like Nell’s narrative arc was left somewhat unresolved.

Regardless of whether or not this was a deliberate action, I hope Alger considers revisiting Nell’s story. She has proven herself as a talented crime writer, a task not easy to accomplish. She has also gifted us with a realistic female detective. It’d be a shame if this outing served as her last.

Should you read Girls Like Us?

I haven’t read Alger’s other novel, The Banker’s Wife (I bought it a while ago, and it sits high on my TBR list), so I can’t compare it to that novel. But I enjoyed Girls Like Us quite a bit. I certainly intend to read The Banker’s Wife when I get the chance.

Girls Like Us hides conspiracy and intrigue under the guise of a typical killing spree. There are many mysteries to be solved across the novel’s 300-something page count, Alger tends to each like a flower in bloom, cultivating each phrase with careful, affectional precision.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

I received this book for free from Dutton Publicity in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Lock Every Door by Riley SagerLock Every Door by Riley Sager
Published on July 2, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 384
Format: ARC

Source: Dutton Publicity

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.

Riley Sager returns to dominate the month of July with his best book yet. Lock Every Door is a sinister read that demands to be devoured.

When I picked up Riley Sager’s first book, Final Girls, a few years ago, I was captivated by the newest author to break into the thriller genre. Then I read The Last Time I Lied and realized Sager was quickly becoming a favorite. With the release of Lock Every Door, Sager has cemented his status as an iconic thriller author.

Easily his best book of the three he’s released thus far, Lock Every Door is Rosemary’s Baby for the modern audience. It embraces the same Gothic spirit and sense of dread. I literally could not put this book down if I tried. It demands your attention.

Continue reading my full review at 1428 Elm.

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Missing Wife by Sam Carrington

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Missing Wife by Sam CarringtonThe Missing Wife by Sam Carrington
Published on June 27, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 400
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

Imagine turning up to your own party, and recognising no one. Your best friend has just created your worst nightmare.

Louisa is an exhausted, sleep-deprived new mother and, approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing she wants to do is celebrate.

But when her best friend Tiff organises a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Lou’s Facebook friends, she’s faced with a new source of anxiety altogether: a room full of old college classmates who she hasn’t spoken to in twenty years. And one person in particular she never expected to see again is there – her ex-boyfriend from college, the handsome and charismatic Oliver Dunmore.

When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers what happened that night differently. It could be the alcohol, but it seems more than one person has something to hide.

Louisa is determined to find the truth about what happened to Melissa. But just how far does she need to look…?

The Missing Wife is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I have to say I’m pretty disappointed in it. I think my main issue is that I felt like I had read this book multiple times already. There seems to be a strange, growing trend in the psychological thriller genre that involves new mothers struggling to keep their sanity in the midst of having a newborn child. I understand that postpartum depression is a real thing, but it is overused and overdone in books and sometimes even a little insensitive to the real-life mothers experiencing it.

Louise is having serious issues with her newborn baby. She continually forgets to feed him! She has a type of amnesia that makes her forget large parts of her past. All this and yet none of her friends, or even her husband, seriously consider getting her help? Then her husband and supposed best friend think it’s a good idea to throw her a birthday party. The party is where the story’s central conflict kicks off. One of Louisa’s exes shows up. His name is Oliver, and he’s a creep.

Oliver’s wife, Melissa, goes missing during Louisa’s birthday party and Lou can’t seem to remember anything about it. It’s an exciting plot, but again, I’ve read this story before. I admit I checked out about halfway through the story and skimmed the rest to figure out what the ending would be.

I was hoping the ending would make up for the rest of the novel, but it doesn’t, sadly. It’s very over-the-top and nonsensical. For a book that was extremely slow-paced for the bulk of the story, the ending suddenly throws the novel into hyperspeed.

Overall, The Missing Wife was not my cup of tea.

Should you read The Missing Wife?

It’s not a book I would recommend. Two other 2019 releases, Little Darlings, and The Mother’s Mistake, both have similar storylines and have tighter-pacing and more inventive plotting. I’d recommend checking those out instead if you’re intrigued by the main plot of this one.

Thank you to NetGalley and AvonBooks UK for allowing me the chance to read an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Guilty Friend by Joanne Sefton

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Guilty Friend by Joanne SeftonThe Guilty Friend by Joanne Sefton
Published on June 24, 2019
Genres: Drama, Fiction, Literary
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 400
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

Cambridge, 1986. Alex, Karen, and Misty are an inseparable trio at Cambridge University – one can never be found far from the others. But when Alex dies suddenly, the remaining two friends can’t look one another in the eye – knowing they both had a part to play in her death.

Present day. Misty and Karen haven’t spoken in years, but, convinced she has seen a picture of Alex alive, Karen doesn’t know who else to turn to. She soon becomes obsessed with a past she thought she’d left behind her… and her life begins to spiral out of control.

Because, when you’re living in the past, who is keeping an eye on the present?

BOOK REVIEW

What I anticipated out of The Guilty Friend and what I ended up with are two completely different stories. Based on the novel synopsis, I assumed two best friends would carry dark secrets about what lead to their best friend’s demise – as would be the case with a typical thriller.

That’s not the case here. I do feel like The Guilty Friend fell prey to some false advertising. It’s not a thriller. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t suspenseful or isn’t worth reading, just that it isn’t the book you might anticipate by reading the summary alone.

Mild spoilers ahead.

The story focuses on three girls, Karen, Misty, and Alex, in the past and the present. In the present, Alex is supposedly dead. In the past, we see how the three girls became so close but also the darkness that loomed over them. Alex struggled with anorexia, and the disease became both a weapon and a wall.

In present-day 2019, Karen thinks she sees Alex on television, and it spawns the semi-mystery of whether or not Alex is alive. But if you’re expecting the book to become a sordid tale of Alex’s past, it doesn’t. The focus is really on Karen’s daughter, Tasha, who also succumbs to anorexia and her journey through it.

Misty has become a doctor who specializes in eating disorders as a way of making up for what happened to Alex. She blames herself for not being able to save her.

I understand what the author was trying to do. In her author’s note, she talks about wanting to alter the common thriller trope. Instead of a human antagonist or violence, she wanted the tension to stem from a disease. It does, but the book spends more time on the dramatic tension and relationships between characters than an overarching mystery or story.

There is more angst, sadness, and exploratory emotional beats than there is suspense.

That said, The Guilty Friend is still a compelling read. The author is tasteful and factual in her depiction of anorexia, and it’s nice to see someone tackle this disease without glamorizing it.

However, I did find the story too meandering for my taste. It failed to keep me engaged for large portions. Am I glad I read it? Yes. But it wasn’t always easy to get through and not just because of the heavy content.

Should you read The Guilty Friend?

It depends on your tastes. If you want to read an emotional story about women trying to help each other through intense grief and the terrible disease that is anorexia, then yes. Sefton is a competent writer. The characters are well-crafted, and even though the relationship-building sometimes falls short, there are some stunning scenes in this book.

If you’re expecting a more traditional thriller or suspense story, I advise skipping it. I don’t think you’ll be satisfied with whats offered here.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Doctor by Lisa Stone

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Doctor by Lisa StoneThe Doctor by Lisa Stone
Published on June 24, 2019
Genres: Thriller, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 390
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

When Emily and Ben move in next door to Dr Burman and his wife Anita, they are keen to get to know their new neighbours. Outgoing and sociable, Emily tries to befriend the doctor’s wife, but Anita is strangely subdued, barely leaving the house, and terrified of answering the phone.

When Emily goes missing a few weeks later, Ben is plunged into a panic. His wife has left him a note, but can she really have abandoned him for another man? Or has Emily’s curiosity about the couple next door led her straight into danger?

A gripping, sinister thriller with a twist you won’t see coming from the international bestseller Lisa Stone.

I’ll never trust a doctor again. Just kidding. Sort of. But seriously, The Doctor did not turn out to be the book I expected it to be. I was expecting a standard domestic thriller of some kind, but it evolved into something far darker and more convoluted than that.

I commend Lisa Stone for coming up with such a unique premise for a thriller. Though I have to wonder why the synopsis talked about “Emily going missing” when that doesn’t kick in until one of the later acts of the book, it’s a spoiler-y note to stick right in the book’s summary. Primarily because it doesn’t become an incentive or plot motivator until close to half-way through the story.

Speaking of, the third act of this book dragged on way too long for my liking. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, but in regards to Emily’s kidnapping, the whole circus surrounding finding out what happened to her was repetitive and often involved characters being stupid for the sole purpose of extending the story.

The other aspect of this book I wasn’t too fond of was the primary antagonist, Amit. He was vile and misogynistic to the point of excess. His motivations didn’t feel strong enough because of his hatred for his wife. The Doctor isn’t my book and not my story to tell, but, I almost feel as if it would have been more interesting to make him a caring, increasingly desperate, man who spirals into madness because of his desire to save his wife.

Should you read The Doctor?

I think it depends on what you’re looking for in a thriller! If you want something with a refreshingly unique story, something you haven’t seen done a million times, then absolutely. The Doctor is riveting in its oddity and strangeness, and Stone is adept at weaving suspense into her storytelling.

It reminded me of an old-school R.L. Stine novel. I used to read them ALL the time as a kid and this book gave me some similar vibes. I mean that in a complimentary way! It does feel a little Frankenstein-y and deals with body horror. I liked that element. It should be classified as horror in addition to a thriller, in my opinion.

Once the story gets going, it’s hard to put the book down out of sheer desire to want to know how Amit, Alisha, and Emily’s journey will all play out. But if you’re expecting a more conventional thriller, then you might find yourself dissatisfied with the finished product.