Book Review: “Daddy Darkest” by Ellery Kane

Title: Daddy Darkest
Author: Ellery Kane
Genre:
Psychological thriller
Date Read: 0/03/2018 – /03/2018
Rating:
 ★★★

Review:

This thriller started off very strong, and the writing was strong the whole way through. I definitely found it gripping, but as I went on, I did find myself a bit confused by some of the choices one character in particular made, which resulted in an ultimately lower rating.

When Sam’s best friend, Ginny, disappears in an airport bathroom while wearing Sam’s letterman jacket, it soon becomes clear that the kidnapper intended to take Sam. As she struggles to find Ginny, she starts to question whether everything she’s ever known is a lie…

The book alternates between chapters in Sam’s first-person POV and her mother, Clare’s, bacak in 1996, when she worked as a prison psychiatrist. I enjoyed Sam’s chapters, I thought her voice was really authentic. Even if it did sometimes stray into YA tropes such as kissing the hot guy you’ve known for two days, despite the fact he seems to be pretty shady.

Clare’s chapters were well-written and unraveled the details of Clare’s past at a good pace. It was Clare herself I couldn’t figure out. I couldn’t work out whether her messed up upbringing could be blamed  for her bad decisions, or whether she was just completely irresponsible. While the author was going for the former, I expect, the more I thought about it, the more it felt like the latter to me.

There were a few aspects of the plot that I had predicted, but it wasn’t completely predictable overall. It was interesting to see how all the characters were tied to one another, not just in obvious ways. The ending was intriguing, but I felt it fitted the events of the book. I think it is just an ambiguous ending, and that there will be no follow-up, but it works that way.


Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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Book Review: “Keep Her Safe” by Richard Jay Parker

Title: Keep Her Safe
Author: Richard Jay Parker
Genre:
Psychological thriller
Date Read: 09/02/2018 – 10/02/2019
Rating:
 ★★

Review:

I’ve been having a bit of a bad run with thrillers. After listening to a disappointing one that opens with a stranger in the protagonist’s house, I had hoped that this one would be better. Unfortunately, I found the writing in this one quite lacking, and while it did improve for a while, it never really impressed me.

Since I am about to go on to say a lot of negative things, I will start with something positive. As you can see from the dates above, I did read this quite quickly. Even as I was questioning some of the things that happened or why characters were doing certain things, the writing was overall quite readable. There was a chunk in the middle (from about 20% through to 65%) that I read in one sitting. The tension was good, and I did admittedly want to see how everything panned out.

The theme of this book was “How far would you go for your child?” but I feel like the author had very little experience of parenthood, and mothers of young children in particular. Some of the dialogue between the two mothers felt strange; I think they were explaining things for the benefit of the reader that one mother would not need to explain to another. There was also a reference to Maggie being an “older mother” at age 34 (32 is hardly an unusual age to be giving birth anymore).

I had other issues with the writing as well, like the fact that the mastermind behind everything has an actual villain monologue… not only that, said monologue goes on for a chapter and a half. There are other ways to explain a character’s motivations, rather than just a huge info-dump. Speaking of the villain, I couldn’t quite work out why he decided to send the two women on a wild goose chase when the initial murder he’d intended didn’t work out. I don’t know why he would have decided to reveal himself (eventually) and then the way everything wrapped up seemed a bit too easy.

I have to agree with the other reviews of this that say that the almost constant action scenes were at the expense of character development. Apart from “I’d do anything for my child”, there was really nothing else I knew about either of the main characters for most of the book. Some information was dropped in the last third which I think was meant to make me sympathise more with them, but I just didn’t have enough interest by that stage. When a bombshell was dropped about one of them, it had very little effect on me.

This was my first read by this author and while I can see his books are very popular, I don’t think I will be revisiting.


Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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Book Review: “What Happens at Christmas” by Evonne Wareham

Title: What Happens At Christmas
Author: Evonne Wareham
Genre:
Romantic suspense
Date Read: 14/12/2017 – 15/12/2017
Rating: ★★★

Review:

This book started off really strong, though I was a little disappointed with how quickly the mystery cleared itself up. Still, it was an addictive read overall.

Best-selling fantasy author Andrew Vitruvius reluctantly agrees to a publicity stunt in the lead-up to Christmas: being “kidnapped” on live TV to raise “ransom” money for charity. But the event goes wrong and Drew finds himself chained to the wall in barn with dwindling supplies and little hope of anyone finding him. Meanwhile, Lori France and her niece are staying in a barn in the woods while Lori’s house is redecorated, when they hear a voice calling for help…

I was really intrigued in the first half of this book, both by the mystery of who had kidnapped Drew and why, and the growing attraction between him and Lori. Once Drew got back to the city, though, the mystery solved itself fairly quickly and the plot became more about Drew and Lori trying to track each other down again. There was another bit of action and excitement around the 80% mark, but it resolved itself rather quickly.

Still, in the latter part I was rooting for Lori and Drew to find each other again and get together, and there was a satisfying conclusion at the end of it.


Thank you to NetGalley and the Publishers for a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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“In the morning, there’s another girl floating dead in the lake.” // Review of “Stillhouse Lake” by Rachel Caine

Title: Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre:
Thriller
Date Read: 21/11/2017 – 22/11/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

I love a good serial killer book, even if it does make me start looking over my shoulder when I go out alone for a couple of days afterwards. This book certainly delivered not only on that front, but also on showing the dark side of the Internet, and how innocent people can be in danger from  the mob just be virtue of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When a car accident reveals Melvin Royal’s seceret life as a serial killer, his wife Gina is tried as an accessory, and even after being acquitted, is still dogged by those on the Internet who think she escaped justice, or who want revenge on behalf of the victims. Fearful for her own safety, as well as her own children, she establishes a new life under a false name in the quaint town of Stillhouse Lake. But when a body is discovered in the lake baring her husband’s MO, she realises that maybe she has never been out of danger.

Stillhouse Lake is fast-paced and intense. I read most of it in one sitting because I knew if I didn’t get the closure of the ending, I wouldn’t sleep that night. While Melvin Royal is not present on the page all that often, when he is, he is slimy and horrifying. Gina’s reinvented persona, Gwen, is strong and fiercely protective of her children. I was filled with dread whenever it transpired that the alarm on their home hadn’t been set, or when one of the kids disappeared.

I did guess a couple of the twists throughout the story, but the overall villain remained a mystery to me, and there were several twists I didn’t see coming at all, but which made a whole lot of sense once I knew them. Knowing there was a second book, I had figured that something like what happens right at the end would take place, but I was able to get my hands on a copy of the sequel straight away, so it didn’t bother me.  It is pretty cliffhanger-y, though, and I know some people don’t like cliffhangers, so fair warning for that.

This has been a good year for thrillers, and this is  another one to add to the list. Gripping, suspensful, with a great climax. Stay tuned for my review of book 2!

Book Review: “He Said/She Said” by Erin Kelly

Title: He Said/She Said
Author: Erin Kelly
Genre:
  Crime/thriller
Date Read: 26/03/2017 – 31/03/2017
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

Ah yes. It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a thriller and I had forgotten how much I enjoy them.

Kit and Laura witness a brutal attack during a solar eclipse. Fifteen years later, they are living in fear due to events in the aftermath of the case. As Kit travels away for another eclipse and Laura remains home, heavily pregnant with twins, the events of the past fifteen years start to come to a head.

One of the things about thrillers is that they do often require a certain amount of willing suspension of disbelief that I’m not always able to offer. Some of the extraordinary lengths gone to by some of the characters in this book just felt unreasonable, and made me lose any connection I had with the them up until that point. Having said that, it is a staple of the genre, which I can accept.

This book was well-plotted and gripping; there were two occasions were I took way too long on my lunch break at work because I was caught up reading. The pages flew by. The scenes depicting the rape trial were infuriatingly realistic. There is a reveal on the final page that I didn’t think had quite the impact the author was hoping for; given the circumstances, it didn’t actually make a lot of sense to me, but I could see what she was going for. The characters were not hugely likeable, but they did hold my interest and I did appreciate that there was a really solid, positive friendship between two women (particularly how it was shown at the end).

Overall, this is definitely recommended for thriller fans. I know it’s been quite popular recently and I can definitely see where the fuss is coming from.


(Thank you to the publishers and Goodreads Givewaways for providing me wth a copy of this book)

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