The Wife Between US by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Wife Between US by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Genres: Thriller, Suspense
Published: 2nd January, 2018
Goodreads
Series: N/A
Rating: 4

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.

This one was damn twisty, guys, damn twisty! You know how you get those blurbs sometimes, promising an edge of the seat thriller with unexpected turns and after the first chapter you just kind of roll your eyes and go “Yeah, right…” Well, this one promised a gripping thriller, and it delivered. Since we are told from the beginning that we are being played, the only thing left for us to do is to sit back and enjoy the ride.

I was properly hooked in from the get go. The chapters alternated between Vanessa, the “crazy ex”, and Nellie, a young and sweet pre-school teacher, preparing to marry the amazing Richard. There was one eyeroll-worthy moment at the end of the first part, and I thought “Oh, please not this again!”, but soon after that shit hit the fan.

Assume nothing!

There are quite a few domestic thrillers out there with similar premise: a woman obsessed with some dude who is married, has a girlfriend, not interested, you name it, and they just have to get him. Majority of these women however are rather insufferable. Just think of The Last Mrs. Parrish or The Girlfriend: both of those lead characters were proper bitches.

Vanessa comes across pretty unhinged, and yet I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards her. I loved her relationship with her aunt, and Aunt Charlotte herself is a pretty sweet character. With her calmness, and the air of artsiness around her she’s quite the opposite of Vanessa who is all over the place, and quite frankly a mess.

Set in New York, this quick page turner has great characters, an intriguing sub-plot, and an unexpected ending I did not see coming.

I’ll be on the lookout for more from this duo.

Get The Wife Between Us: A Gripping Psychological Thriller with a Shocking Twist You Won’t See Coming on Amazon UK.

Reading Prompt: A book that involves a bookstore or library #39

According to the diploma I obtained at uni, I’m a librarian. I mean, information scientist, to be precise. Although I have always dreamed about working in a library, spending time among books, I’ve never actually had a job in one. Based on all the stories I’ve read involving librarians, I probably romanticized the idea way too much.

Part of one my uni assignments was to spend sixty hours in our town’s library, and damn, was it awful! I admit, I probably wouldn’t have hated it so much if I got a placement in a nicely equipped library, packed full with all the latest tech, but the lack of working equipment and the constant darkness (the building was an old synagogue) put me off pretty well. We still used those old school index catalogues that were basically little printed index cards in a massive chest of drawers. Good luck finding shit! Before anyone quips in that it was perfectly acceptable in the ’80s, let me make one thing clear: we are talking about 2007.

So, for now I’m just going to stick to books about librarians and quirky little bookstores, where my sentimental ideas live on uninterrupted.

The Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard
A mystery set in Coppenhagen. After the violent death of Luca Campelli his son, Jon, inherits Luca’s bookshop Libri di Luca, and all sorts of suspicious stuff starts happening.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Danger, clues, secret societies are only a few things Irene, a spy for the mysterious Library, will face in this story while collecting books from other realities.

Adrian Mole: The Capuccino Years by Sue Townsend
Adrian Mole, whom we first met when he was 13 and 3/4 years old, is now all grown up and is working in a book shop. He still writes his diary, and he’s still an annoyingly funny intellectual. I have read this book many times, but I’m tempted to pick it up again.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan
Lydia, a bookstore clerk, investigates the death of a customer after she inherits his books filled with mysterious and disturbing messages.

Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine
Jess Brightwell, son of a black market book smuggler, is sent to apply for a scholar position at the Library, where they value knowledge more than human life.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Genres: Science Fiction, Classics
Published: 7th May, 1895
Goodreads
Series: N/A
Rating: 3.5

“I’ve had a most amazing time….”
So begins the Time Traveller’s astonishing firsthand account of his journey 800,000 years beyond his own era—and the story that launched H.G. Wells’s successful career and earned him his reputation as the father of science fiction. With a speculative leap that still fires the imagination, Wells sends his brave explorer to face a future burdened with our greatest hopes…and our darkest fears. A pull of the Time Machine’s lever propels him to the age of a slowly dying Earth. There he discovers two bizarre races—the ethereal Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks—who not only symbolize the duality of human nature, but offer a terrifying portrait of the men of tomorrow as well. Published in 1895, this masterpiece of invention captivated readers on the threshold of a new century. Thanks to Wells’s expert storytelling and provocative insight, The Time Machine will continue to enthrall readers for generations to come.


You know, what? This wasn’t bad. I generally don’t like time travel stories, because I find all the implications of messing with one’s past just too daunting and mind boggling. This book was different though. The Time Traveller (as he’s referred to throughout the story) has no great agenda to save the world, he just wants to explore, driven by his curiosity.

Just like so many books written in this era, the story is told by an unnamed guy, who witnessed first hand the scientific discussion that lead to the experiment, and the Time Traveller’s recollection of his eight-day adventure into the future. There’s no fluff, no fillers, just crisp, fast paced facts recounted over a dinner.

The future is bleak, society is split into two: the peaceful, innocent, almost childlike Eloi and the bloodthirsty, but technically advanced, ape-like Morlocks. According to the Time Traveller’s theory, society at one point must have reached balance and security, that lead to their degradation.

“But even on this supposition the balanced civilization that was at last attained must have long since passed its zenith, and was now far fallen into decay. The too-perfect security of the Upper-worlders had led them to a slow movement of degeneration, to a general dwindling in size, strength, and intelligence.”

The Eloi are constantly being hunted by the Morlocks, but they do nothing about it, just accept it as the norm. In a way this future seems even scarier than those depicted in dystopian books with the oppressive governments, because they at least still have the chance to revolt and claim back their freedom. The Eloi, who are proper bubbleheads, are way past this.

The conclusion? Humanity is its own worst enemy. No surprise there, unfortunately.

Reading Challenge Prompt: A book about or involving a sport #19

Whether you are going through the topics in order, or randomly, or ignore some, reading challenges are a good way to get inspiration for your book pics. It’s the first time I actually decided to join one. Other than joining the Goodreads Popsugar Challenge group for ideas, I’m not following any particular order they set. I feel I already imposed enough restrictions on myself. I’m such a free spirit, I know…

The first prompt that grabbed my attention was the sports related one. I’m not a fan of anything or anyone, don’t enjoy or follow any sports in particular, but this doesn’t mean that I couldn’t enjoy a book that has something to do with it. On the contrary. As long as it’s fiction, there’s always hope.

I was very liberal when I picked these eight books, but hey… If you are a sports hater like me, or just don’t enjoy technical non-fiction, these are all safe bets.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
The book is about a murder, set in a small Swedish town whose only hope for revival is their up and coming ice hockey team.

Trail of Murder (Lee Squires #1) by Christine Andreae
An English teacher & poet turned cook as a protagonist, murder, hiking and horse riding through the wilderness. I told you I was liberal with my pics, and yes, hiking is a sport.

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
A story about a fifteen-year-old gymnastics prodigy, murder, jealousy and ambition.

Spud by John van de Ruit
The absolutely hilarious story of John ‘Spud’ Milton, his friends (The Crazy Eight), prepubescent anguish and the love of cricket, set in a posh South-African boarding school during the early ’90s.

Deal Breaker by Harlan Koben
Secrets and lies surround sports agent Myron Bolitar and his favourite rookie quarterback Christian Steele in this suspenseful novel.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
A little girl lost in the woods, kept alive by her love for baseball and her fantasies about her favourite player, Tom Gordon coming to her rescue.

Blockade Billy by Stephen King
The chilling story of William ‘Blockade Billy’ Blakely, the greatest baseball player with a dark secret.

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker
A book about the struggles and dreams of running back Mick Johnson who is trying to navigate the cruel world of american football.

New Year, New Books

Happy New Year, fellow readers!

Pic from: Ian Schneider via Unsplash

Hope none of you are suffering from hangover from last night’s celebrations. I spent my New Year’s Eve watching Attack on Titan, stuffing my face with the most amazing festive burger ever (Camembert and cranberry sauce, just sayin’), and sipping on some whiskey because I like to think I’m sophisticated.

This morning the Goodreads Reading Challenge opened for 2018, and feeling empowered by last year’s success, I pledged another 65 books for this year.

So, what’s the plan for 2018 then?

Complete the Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge. My first reading challenge ever, and while most of the topics are super inspiring and look like fun, I expect I will end up reading some weird shit along the way.

Finish Shift by Hugh Howie. This is the second book in The Wool Trilogy, and I’ve been struggling with it since last July. It’s only 500 pages, so I should have been done with it ages ago, but every time I read a chapter I just get depressed and look for something else. Why finish then? Apparently the third part, Dust, is awesome, and I can’t just skip the middle one, can I…

Get rid of some of my books that are just collecting dust and taking up space. I usually go through my shelves at least once year and donate a bunch of books to charity.

Organize my books on my Kindle. Even though they are not taking up actual shelf space, they can get messy pretty quickly, especially they way I bulk buy e-books. I knew I could create collections but until now I just couldn’t be bothered, because why do it today, if you can do it tomorrow, or in fact why bother, if you don’t have to. However, after I recently stumbled upon some books I had not a single clue I owned, I think it’s time…

Let 2018 bring us new adventures, great books, and fun times!

What are your reading plans for this year? Doing any challenges?

Boy, do I love stats – 2017

The end is nigh, my fellow readers, and it’s time to take tally of this year’s accomplishments. No, the apocalypse is not coming, but 2018 is just around the corner.

Without further ado, let’s see my year in books.

Until this day I don’t know how, but I managed to finish 65 books this year. Before anyone suggest I should get a life, I must say, I do most of my reading during holidays, and at work, in my lunchbreak. Having developed some kind of weird insomnia could also be blamed – I rarely sleep past 5.30 a.m., so I have plenty of time in the mornings too before I have to make the ten minute trip to the office.

The best book I’ve read this year was definitely The Collapsing Empire (John Scalzi), and you have to appreciate how hard it is for me to say this, because I did read a book from Stephen King as well, and he’s my one true love.

Worst book of the year goes to Say You’re Sorry (Melinda Leigh). What a fucking mess that was…

The longest read was The Wise Man’s Fear (Patrick Rothfuss) with a whopping 994 pages, and it was also the highest rated on Goodreads.

 

The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Fifth Doll by Charlie N. Holmberg
Genres: Fantasy
Published: 25th July, 2017
Goodreads
Series: N/A
Rating: 4

The bestselling author of The Paper Magician Series transports readers to a darkly whimsical world where strange magic threatens a quiet village that only a courageous woman can save.
Matrona lives in an isolated village, where her life is centered on pleasing her parents. She’s diligent in her chores and has agreed to marry a man of their choosing. But a visit to Slava, the local tradesman, threatens to upend her entire life.?
Entering his empty house, Matrona discovers a strange collection of painted nesting dolls—one for every villager. Fascinated, she can’t resist the urge to open the doll with her father’s face. But when her father begins acting strangely, she realizes Slava’s dolls are much more than they seem.
When he learns what she’s done, Slava seizes the opportunity to give Matrona stewardship over the dolls—whether she wants it or not. Forced to open one of her own dolls every three days, she falls deeper into the grim power of Slava’s creations. But nothing can prepare her for the profound secret hiding inside the fifth doll.


There is just something about Russian folk tales, that gives you the creeps. In a good way! This book is not one of those folk tales, per se, but does have all the magical elements that make one.

The Fifth Doll is a pretty neat, spooky tale set in a cutesy little village that is just a little bit too cheerful for its own good. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, you guessed right. Everything.

I wouldn’t call this book suspenseful, but there’s just something that keeps you turning the pages to try and get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding the villagers. I must admit, I had all sorts of ideas what’s wrong with them, but none of them turned out to be the case.

 

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A little bit after halfway I even thought they are all dead or something… Damn…


 

I could not agree with those reviews that said the characters are flat an uninteresting. Maybe a little bit dopey, but hey, it all made perfect sense at the end!

Matrona, the main character is a bit immature for a 26 year old most of the time, but every now and then her potential shines through and she proves that she’s wise beyond her years. Or at least wiser than I was at that age.

I’ve always wanted to be loved. I don’t know if Esfir’s passing closed my parents’ hearts, or if it’s just their way, but affection has always been lacking in my home. I fear it’s lacking in yours as well. I can’t be part of that.

Damn, girl, you tell him! Love it.

I loved Jaska, her sidekick. Shit doesn’t make sense? Let’s consider all our options, even the wildest ones! He’s openminded, loyal and quick witted. If I had a side kick, I would sure want them to be someone like him.

I will most definitely read some more from this author.

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
Genres: Psychological Thriller
Published: 18th July, 2017
Goodreads
Series: N/A
Rating: 3.5

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…


This was quite an addictive page turner from B. A. Paris. There was no dawdling around in this fast paced story, and I appreciate that.

The mental breakdown of Cassie started out with what seemed to be just some everyday forgetfulness due to stress. But her mental state quickly started going downhill after the woman she saw stranded on a stormy night turned up dead and other weird shit started happening to her soon after. Cassie’s mother was diagnosed with early onset dementia, and she obviously started to fear the worst. With mental illness looming in the background the tension quickly builds to seriously suffocating levels.

The answer to the question “Who’s fucking with Cassie?” was somewhat predictable, but to me it just added an interesting layer to the story. Seeing the why and the how unfold was quite entertaining on its own, even if some stuff was somewhat far fetched.

Although Cassie reached a seriously paranoid state towards the end, once everything was revealed, she was surprisingly chill. How? I mean, seriously?

Quick read, and certainly right up my alley.

Blue Monday by Nicci French

Blue Monday by Nicci French
Genres: Thriller, Crime, Mystery
Published: 23rd June, 2011
Goodreads
Series: Frieda Klein #1
Rating: 2

The stunning first book in a new series of psychological thrillers introducing an unforgettable London psychotherapist Frieda Klein is a solitary, incisive psychotherapist who spends her sleepless nights walking along the ancient rivers that have been forced underground in modern London. She believes that the world is a messy, uncontrollable place, but what we can control is what is inside our heads. This attitude is reflected in her own life, which is an austere one of refuge, personal integrity, and order.

The abduction of five-year-old Matthew Farraday provokes a national outcry and a desperate police hunt. And when his face is splashed over the newspapers, Frieda cannot ignore the coincidence: one of her patients has been having dreams in which he has a hunger for a child. A red-haired child he can describe in perfect detail, a child the spitting image of Matthew. She finds herself in the center of the investigation, serving as the reluctant sidekick of the chief inspector.

Drawing readers into a haunting world in which the terrors of the mind have spilled over into real life, “Blue Monday” introduces a compelling protagonist and a chilling mystery that will appeal to readers of dark crime fiction and fans of “In Treatment” and “The Killing.”


I just don’t get this book… There was a lot going on, but hardly anything actually happening in the first half. It was meant to be a story about a child kidnapping and the surrounding investigation, involving a psychotherapist. Sounds great, no? Well, that poor child was barely mentioned, he was more like an afterthought people every now and then remembered to mention in the background.

A strange mood enveloped the room where they sat, dreamy and sad.

And that strange and sad mood spilled our all over the whole story. The atmosphere was great. London at its most depressing. But there were just too many moments of staring out windows, sitting around tables and walks at 3 a.m.

Frieda Klein is a psychotherapist, or, according to her sister in law some kind of a doctor with a bunch of stuff after her name. But she’s also turned out to be a technophobe, Christmas-hater, miserable moron who is scared to be happy.

In fact, it had only been in the last year that she had finally bought an answering machine and she steadfastly refused to have a mobile, to the incredulity of all those around her, who didn’t believe that people could actually function without one. But Frieda wanted to be able to escape from incessant communications and demands.

Because having a mobile means having to be glued to it, doesn’t it? You can’t, like… heaven forbid, put it away or turn it off, can you?

Great start for someone who is supposed to be there for people to help putting their lives back together, right? But her constant negativity would put a damper on any happy person.

‘What am I doing this summer, you mean? I should warn you that I hate flying. And sunbathing on beaches.’

Yes, Frieda, we get it, everything’s shit. But we have no clue why, so it’s just annoying, sorry. I sometimes wondered if she even likes anything, apart from munching on toast in front of the fireplace.

There were quite a few pointless characters. Starting with Sandy, the boyfriend. What for? Poor dude appeared a few times, just so we get it that Frieda is afraid of commitment. I almost started feeling sorry for her that she’s taking so long to trust someone and not staying overnight or letting them come to her place, when the dude dropped a bombshell (new job, moving overseas) and turned out they know each other for some weeks only. WTF?

 

 

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Yet, he also thought it was a great idea to suggest she moves with him, and then when didn’t work, to suggest they get married. But sure, he’s the great, reliable dude, isn’t he.

 

 

Jack, Frieda’s student-protege-trainee whatever was another one of these people who just hung around to basically explain the obvious. Josef, the Ukranian dude who drove Frieda around, cooked meals for her and was perpetually confused because he didn’t bloody understand half the time what anyone was talking about and basic words had to be explained to him. Duh. Have they become friends? Fuck knows…

I did like Chief Inspector Karlsson though. A cool dude, who is trying his best. He at least resembled something we’d call a reasonable person.

Since this series is mainly about Frieda, I doubt I will read the next book.

In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods by Tana French
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Published: 17th May, 2007
Goodreads
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #1
Rating: 4

A gorgeously written novel that marks the debut of an astonishing new voice in psychological suspense.

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children. He is gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a 12-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox (his partner and closest friend) find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.


This one took me almost a bloody week to finish! Not because it’s bad, quite the opposite. It’s a beautifully written, melancholic story, disguised as a murder mystery. There’s a murder, there are detectives and investigation, but there’s also an unsolved mystery from the past, involving Rob, one of the main characters.

After having quite a few bad experiences with books where I couldn’t care less about any of the characters, this was so refreshing! Both detectives, Cassie and Rob were like real people I would actually want to get to know. Mostly Cassie, but still…

Cassie Madoxx is the only woman in the current murder squad, and if that’s not enough, she’s younger than most of the guys. So obviously she’s the target of all sorts of speculations, how she got there, and who did she sleep with. I loved how straight to point she was, and her determination is admirable. Throughout the story she was the voice of reason in the deepening confusion Rob was going through.

Contrary to appearances, Cassie is not a particularly social person, any more than I am; she is vivacious and quick with banter and can talk to anyone, but given the choice she preferred my company to that of a big group.

Rob Ryan is the somewhat unrealistic narrator. His your typical good looking guy (and he knows it), with a proper accent and great style.

I have a perfect BBC accent, picked up at boarding-school as protective camouflage, and all that colonisation takes a while to wear off: even though the Irish will cheer for absolutely any team playing against England, and I know a number of pubs where I couldn’t order a drink without risking a glass to the back of the head, they still assume that anyone with a stiff upper lip is more intelligent, better educated and generally more likely to be right.

As the story goes on, he becomes more and more insufferable and kind of an asshole. You know the guys who are super cool, but then when you get real close they just up and disappear and it’s your fault? Yeah, those guys… Every now and then I just wanted to reach into the book and shake him, while being utterly conflicted for feeling sorry him as well.

There is a side of me that is most intensely attracted to women who annoy me.

Investigating a child murder is obviously not a walk in the park, but the detective duo come out worse than I could have imagined. Besides the investigation, this book tells the story of the sort of friendship between Rob and Cassie that most people would envy.

Even though the wrap up left me hanging (the original mystery never got solved, WTF??, *gasp*), it made me crave more of Tana French’s books. Took a sneak peak at the second one and can’t wait to see what Cassie is up to next.

Also, where the fuck was I in the last 10 years? I mean… I’ve clearly been living under some rock…