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: The Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope

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 Boy in the Photo by Nicole TropeThe Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope
Published on June 28th, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 334
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

Megan waits at the school gates for her six-year-old son, Daniel As children come and go, the playground emptying, panic bubbles inside her. Daniel is nowhere to be found.

According to his teacher, Daniel’s father, Greg, has picked up his son. Except Greg and Megan are no longer together. After years of being controlled by her cruel husband, Megan has finally found the courage to divorce him. Hands trembling, she dials his number, but the line is dead.

Six years later, Megan is feeding baby daughter, Evie, when she gets the call she has dreamt about for years. Daniel has walked into a police station in a remote town just a few miles away. Her son is alive – and he’s coming home.

But their joyful family reunion does not go to plan. His room may have been frozen in time, with his Cookie Monster poster and stack of Lego under the bed, but Daniel is no longer the sweet little boy Megan remembers.

Imagine your child going missing for six years. That is the heart-stopping horror Megan must face when her abusive ex-husband decides to abduct their son, Daniel, from her and take him far, far away.

I’m not a mother, so I can’t say I’m able to 100% understand how Megan felt, but Trope is an astonishing writer. Regardless of whether or not you have children you’ll want to hug someone tight after reading this story. Grab your cat, if you must.

See, after six long years, years in which Megan was torn between wondering if her son was even still alive annd trying desperately to find him either way, Daniel returns home. But their reunion is not the happy ending you might anticipate. Daniel arrives as the product of years of turmoil, bitterness, and lies. Megan realizes that when praying for her son for all that time, she never anticipated what might happen if he came back completely different than the boy he was when he was taken.

In the time it took for Daniel to return, Megan moved on with her life, as best as she could. She remarried and had a second child. Daniel’s sudden reappearance in her life, while a blessing, causes an unprecedented upheaval of the stability she worked so hard to rebuild. Especially when she comes to realize that her son, her baby boy, may be harboring a dark secret that could threaten to destroy everything she’s struggled so hard for in the worst years of her life.

Even though the inevitable twist is somewhat predictable, it doesn’t detract from the moving, yet thrilling, nature of this story.

Should you read The Boy in the Photo?

Yes! Unlike other thrillers, this is a story with a heartfelt emotional core. It’s still a page-turner, but one that will leave you more satisfied and moved than the average one. I haven’t read Nicole Trope’s other books before but I’ll definitely check them out now!

Book Reviews

Book Review: Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan

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: Keep This to Yourself by Tom RyanKeep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan
Published on May 21, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, LGBTQ+
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 307
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

It’s been a year since the Catalog Killer terrorized the sleepy seaside town of Camera Cove, killing four people before disappearing without a trace.

Like everyone else in town, eighteen-year-old Mac Bell is trying to put that horrible summer behind him—easier said than done since Mac’s best friend Connor was the murderer’s final victim. But when he finds a cryptic message from Connor, he’s drawn back into the search for the killer—who might not have been a random drifter after all. Now nobody—friends, neighbors, or even the sexy stranger with his own connection to the case—is beyond suspicion. Sensing that someone is following his every move, Mac struggles to come to terms with his true feelings towards Connor while scrambling to uncover the truth.

So this book hooked me immediately given its premise is about a serial killer terrorizing a small town known as Candle Cove. I’m always a sucker for a good serial killer story. I also love the fact the main character is gay.

However, my main issue with Keep This to Yourself was in the characterization. I found myself struggling to connect with any of the characters because none of them felt very three-dimensional. For the most part they were written in a shallow way (and that’s not to say the book is shallow only that these characters didn’t have as much depth as I would have liked).

But I did still enjoy this book overall. I liked following Mac’s journey to finding out the truth about what happened to his best friend, Connor, who he may or may not have been secretly in love with. I liked seeing him to get find a new relationship with someone who had also lost someone to the “Catalog Killer”.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an absorbing, quick read, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. As far as Young Adult fiction goes though, this is one of the better ones I’ve read in a while so if that’s your thing then I say you should give it a shot.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

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

Book Review: The Luminous Dead by Caitlin StarlingThe Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
Published on April 2, 2019
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 411
Format: ARC

Source: Harper Voyager

A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

Instead, she got Em. Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .

Here are 3 reasons why you need to read, The Luminous Dead, an intense psychological sci-fi thriller about a harrowing caving expedition.

The PR team at Harper Voyager were kind enough to provide me with a copy of The Luminous Dead, the debut novel from author Caitlin Starling, in exchange for an honest review.

I was drawn to The Luminous Dead due to comparisons to Jeff VanderMeer’s horrifying sci-fi novel (and film) Annihilation, which blew me away last year. I’m happy to say The Luminous Dead is a worthy comparison and is one of the most tense, atmospheric, and claustrophobic novels I’ve read in a long time. It’s a marvel Starling was able to create such an intense read when the story only contains two characters, and yet it’s never dull.

If you need more incentive to check out the book, I’ve got three reasons for you.

Read my full review at 1428 Elm.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin

Book Review: Paper Ghosts by Julia HeaberlinPaper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin
Published on May 15, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 351
Format: eBook

Carl Louis Feldman is an old man who was once a celebrated photographer. That was before he was tried for the murder of a young woman and acquitted. before his admission to a care home for dementia. Now his daughter has come to see him, to take him on a trip. Only she's not his daughter and, if she has her way, he's not coming back.

When I first started reading Paper Ghosts I was quickly absorbed in Grace’s story and her journey to discover the truth about her sister’s killer. Unfortunately, I lost interest just as fast as the book slogged onwards into a meandering road trip story without much thrill or suspense.

The idea of a young girl traveling with a serial killer was interesting at first, but I really didn’t find Carl to be a compelling character. Not to mention the fact we read pages upon pages of endless internal monologue from Grace about how she trained for most of her life leading up to the moment she would spring Carl from Mrs. T’s. But we almost never see this “training” come into play. More often than not, Carl outsmarts her by some small mistake she makes.

Nor did I find the somewhat random love story between her and the detective, Andy, to make much sense. It serves as a background plot more than anything and Andy really serves no greater purpose to the story.

By the end of the novel, when we learn the truth about Carl and his supposed kills, it makes nearly everything that occurred before it ultimately pointless. I didn’t feel like the ending had suited the long, winding journey preceding it.

However, I will say that the book is very well-written. Even though I didn’t love the story, I kept reading because Heaberlin’s writing style more than kept me engaged, it made me hope for a stronger pay-off than I got. While I didn’t find this novel to be my cup of tea, I would certainly consider checking out her other books in the future.