Book Review: I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

I was happy when I won an Instagram giveaway the ARC of Catherine McKenzie’s latest novel I’ll Never Tell. I enjoyed her previous novel and looked forward to reading this one.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

Blurb:

What happened to Amanda Holmes?

Twenty years ago, she washed up on shore in a rowboat with a gash to the head after an overnight at Camp Macaw. No one was ever charged with a crime.

Now, the MacAllister children are all grown up. After their parents die suddenly, they return to Camp to read the will and decide what to do with the prime real estate it’s sitting on. Ryan, the oldest, wants to sell. Margo, the family’s center, hasn’t made up her mind. Mary has her own horse farm to run, and believes in leaving well-enough alone. Kate and Liddie—the twins—have opposing views. And Sean Booth, the family groundskeeper, just hopes he still has a home when all is said and done. 

But then the will is read and they learn that it’s much more complicated than a simple vote. Until they unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda, they can’t move forward. Any one of them could have done it, and all of them are hiding key pieces of the puzzle. Will they work together to solve the mystery, or will their suspicions and secrets finally tear the family apart?

My thoughts:

McKenzie’s storytelling did not disappoint. I enjoyed this tale as much as I had enjoyed her previous one, and her words kept me reading and invested right until the end.

The story moves between the past and the present as the reader gets to know the different personalities in the story, as well as what happened in the past. The movement between the time frames is done seamlessly and at no time was I confused. McKenzie paced the information perfectly so that I was neither bored nor disconcerted. Each bit of information that she gave, led me towards understanding the sequence of events as well as my understanding of the characters in the story.

As with all mystery stories, I tried to figure out the solution before reaching the final chapter. I’ll Never Tell is not predictable and therefore had a few surprises. These little twists in the story are believable and added to my enjoyment of the tale.

If you enjoy mystery stories, then you will enjoy this Canadian author’s novel. Unlike the modern psychological thriller, I’ll Never Tell is more a mystery story which the reader attempts to solve while reading.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 74th in my book pledge for 2019)

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Book Review: Dear Wife by Kimberley Belle

Dear Wife by Kimberley Belle was one of the ARCs that I managed to pick up when I attended the OLA Super Conference earlier this year.

Genre: Adult Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

Blurb:

Beth Murphy is on the run…

For nearly a year, Beth has been planning for this day. A day some people might call any other Wednesday, but Beth prefers to see it as her new beginning–one with a new look, new name and new city. Beth has given her plan significant thought, because one small slip and her violent husband will find her.

Sabine Hardison is missing…

A couple hundred miles away, Jeffrey returns home from a work trip to find his wife, Sabine, is missing. Wherever she is, she’s taken almost nothing with her. Her abandoned car is the only evidence the police have, and all signs point to foul play.

As the police search for leads, the case becomes more and more convoluted. Sabine’s carefully laid plans for her future indicate trouble at home, and a husband who would be better off with her gone. The detective on the case will stop at nothing to find out what happened and bring this missing woman home. Where is Sabine? And who is Beth? The only thing that’s certain is that someone is lying and the truth won’t stay buried for long.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed my first foray into Kimberley Belle’s writing. The story begins with Beth’s point of view (POV) and, right from the start, my attention was captured. As the reader, I was introduced as well to the POV of two other characters: Jeffrey (a husband) and Marcus (the police officer).

The three POVs are intertwined and slowly give the reader a sense of what the story is. Hints are given, assumptions are made, and guesses are turned on their head. For me, this is what a good thriller should be: a novel that keeps you guessing and brings in unexpected twists.

As well as being a thriller, the novel also makes reference to domestic violence and the abuse of the woman in a marriage. Beth depicts a woman who is being abused by her husband, a woman who eventually begins to plan her escape. When reading Beth’s story, I could sense her fear and her desire to escape the physical abuse she was enduring. I sensed her bravery as well because she had the courage to leave.

While reading, I became invested in Beth’s story and I wanted to know the outcome. I enjoyed the subtle twists the author leaves the reader – and the unexpected ending. I will not say too much about the ending, but I will say that I enjoyed it. 🙂

Dear Wife is definitely an enjoyable read for those who enjoy psychological thrillers. The writing is crisp and clear with the perfect pacing for this genre.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 71st in my book pledge for 2019)

First Line Fridays: The Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

“It was raining the day Suki came to the Palace of the Sun, and it was raining the night that she died.”

The Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (2018, Harper Collins Canada)

The Shadow of the Fox is a magical Japanese Fantasy novel that features Yumeko (half kitsune and half human) and Kage Tatsumi ( a samurai of the Shadow Clan). One is sworn to protect part of an ancient scroll, the other to find it.

I loved this story and look forward to reading the next one in the series.

Would you keep reading?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

Book Review: The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley

I often enter giveaways on Instagram and, for the first time, I won a copy of The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley. I was excited to read the novel as I had heard good things about Stapley’s writing.

Genre: Suspense, Thriller

Blurb:

The Harmony Resort promises hope for struggling marriages. Run by celebrity power couple Drs. Miles and Grace Markell, the “last resort” offers a chance for partners to repair their relationships in a luxurious setting on the gorgeous Mayan Riviera.

Johanna and Ben have a marriage that looks perfect on the surface, but in reality, they don’t know each other at all. Shell and Colin fight constantly: after all, Colin is a workaholic, and Shell always comes second to his job as an executive at a powerful mining company. But what has really torn them apart is too devastating to talk about. When both couples begin Harmony’s intensive therapy program, it becomes clear that Harmony is not all it seems—and neither are Miles and Grace themselves. What are they hiding, and what price will these couples pay for finding out?

As a deadly tropical storm descends on the coast, trapping the hosts and the guests on the resort, secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested and not one single person—or their marriage—will remain unchanged by what follows.

My thoughts:

The novel starts with a man filled with anger, and a suspicion that he is dying. The story continues with the events that lead up to the climax: Stapley slowly releases the knowledge we need to know in order to come to an understanding of the story and the characters who play an important role in the events. The murder that has occurred has a reason; and it is a reason that will surprise you.

The Last Resort is not the typical murder story. Instead it is a story that highlights some issues for the reader to think about: the grieving process and the loss of a child; the need to embrace ourselves for what we are; the relationship between spouses; abuse in a marriage. These issues are intertwined in a story that is fast-paced and keeps one reading. Stapley keep me feeling a range of emotions while reading her writing; and she kept me engrossed in a story that was more than what I had expected.

The Last Resort is an expertly crafted story that readers of murder mysteries will enjoy. The subtle twists will keep you guessing and the ending will give you a sense of satisfaction.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 63rd in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

I was in the mood for a thriller and picked up the ARC sent to me by Harper Collins Canada of Alafair Burke’s latest novel The Better Sister. I had not yet read anything written by this author and looked forward to the introduction.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Blurb:

When a prominent Manhattan lawyer is murdered, two estranged sisters—one the dead man’s widow, the other his ex—must set aside mistrust and old resentments . . . but can they escape their past?

Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky was always restless . . . and more than a little reckless—the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.

For a while, it seemed like both sisters had found happiness. Chloe earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school and moved to New York City, where she landed a coveted publishing job. Nicky married promising young attorney Adam Macintosh, and gave birth to a baby boy they named Ethan. The Taylor sisters became virtual strangers.

Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenaged stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past 

My thoughts:

Not everything is as it appears on the surface – and that is what is reinforced in this novel. Bit by bit, the reader learns hidden truths and slowly comes to the realisation of a certain reality. Burke adroitly leads the reader down the path of a mystery with an unexpected ending.

Not only is The Better Sister a thriller, it is a novel that references relationships: the relationship between a husband and wife, and the relationship between two sisters. It is interesting to see how one incident estranges them while another, fifteen years later, brings them close as they unite to save their family.

I enjoyed reading Burke’s writing. It is precise and she kept my attention riveted to the pages. This was a thriller I needed to finish not only because I wanted to know ‘whodunit’, but also as I want to know the outcome of the sibling relationship. The Better Sister is a novel I recommend for those readers who enjoy thrillers that contain more in the story than just a mystery.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 60th in my book pledge for 2019)

First Line Fridays: The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley

He struggles to breathe. There’s blood trickling into one of his eyes. His glasses are gone. He can hear the ocean rising to meet him. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. ”

The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley (2019, Simon & Schuster Canada)

I have just started this novel and it promises to be a good one!

Would you keep reading?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

No Resort but a Thrilling Read

A couple of weeks ago I won a giveaway on Instagram. It is always exciting to win something – and yet so unexpected as so many people enter. I was doubly excited to win as the book has been recently published, and it is by a Canadian author. I have not read any of her stories yet, so this read will determine whether I head out and pick up any of her other books.

This Summer Break will see me staying at home and not relaxing on the beach somewhere. Instead, I will immerse myself in Marissa Stapley’s novel and imagine myself at a resort somewhere observing the characters in the story.

Are you visiting a resort this summer?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to Becky’s Square Challenge. The theme for the month of July is “blue”.)

First Line Fridays: The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

I wake feverish. The skylight above me pulses with rain, and I spider my fingers across the sheets, remembering I’m alone. I close my eyes and find my way back to sleep, until I’m woken again, engulfed by a deep, sudden pain. I’ve been waking with a sick feeling every morning since he left, bu I know that away this is different.
Something’s wrong.”

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy (2018, Harper Collins Publishers)

This book centres on a story that is every young mother’s nightmare – the kidnapping of her child. This was an intense read with some unexpected twists.

Would you keep reading?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)

Book Review: The One by John Marrs

On social media I saw that the The One by John Marrs was an excellent read. While browsing at my local bookstore on a Saturday afternoon, I saw the novel placed in the bestsellers section and decided to pick it up. The blurb definitely intrigued me.

Genre: Thriller, Romance

Blurb:

How far would you go to find The One?

A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner—the one you’re genetically made for.

That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.

Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…

My thoughts:

At first glance, The One may seem like a romance novel – after all, the characters are looking for the person they will spend the rest of their live with. Very quickly, however, the reader comes to the conclusion that the novel is more than a romance. The story has so many unexpected twists in it that the reader is continually surprised. Contained within these pages is murder, some emotional moments, and a glimpse at the different types of people that populate the world.

What I loved about this novel is that it is an unusual story – quite unlike any that I have read before. Marrs truly surprises one with the events that he describes; and yet the segments of human nature that he explores are spot-on. We are taken through the experience of five characters who each have their unique experience with their DNA match; and each experience has an unexpected twist in it.

I enjoyed this novel. Marrs’ writing kept me turning the pages and immersed in the story. If you decide to pick up this book, be prepared to put all else aside.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 53rd in my book pledge for 2019)

First Line Fridays: All The Wrong Places by Joy Fielding

“So tell me about yourself,” he says. He smiles what he hopes is a sweet smile – neither too big nor too small, one that hints at a wry, maybe even offbeat sense of humour that he thinks would appeal to her. He wants to charm her. He wants her to like him.”

All the Wrong Places by Joy Fielding (2019,Penguin Random House Canada)

Fielding begins her novel with a description of the online predator that plays an important role in her story. I like that right from the start the reader knows his intentions – and that he deliberately plans to ensnare women.

I loved this fast-paced thriller. If you want to know more, you can read my review here.

What do you think of the introduction to the online predator?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books and her One Line Friday challenge.)