Book Review: The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

I attended a Harper Presents event to listen to Gilly MacMillan speak as she is one of my preferred authors. Tarryn Fisher was another writer set to speak at the event and, even though I had not read any of her novels, I was curious to listen to her. After the talk, I had the opportunity to receive a signed ARC of her upcoming novel, The Wives.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Blurb:

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.

My thoughts:

The Wives has an unusual premise as polygamy is not a usual theme that runs in thrillers. Fisher makes it work, though, and I believed the setup that she had created. The story is told in the voice of Thursday, Seth’s second wife, and all the events described are seen through her eyes.

Near the midway of the novel, I was confused as the setup I believed to be true turned out not to be. As expected, the confusion led to a twist which then caused me to see the story with a different viewpoint and expectation. It was interesting for me to read through the thought patterns of Thursday – I questioned something when the character did, and grasped a thought when she did.

Before the midway twist, the story read like a drama in which a woman is describing her relationship with her partner and, at times, seemed a little mediocre. After the twist, the pace of the novel picked up and I became more invested in the story as the content became more interesting. My mind kept switching allegiances between Thursday herself and Seth. Which story is the truth? This is the question I kept asking myself. I enjoyed the final twist at the end of the story – part of which was unexpected.

Tarryn Fisher’s The Wives is an enjoyable psychological thriller that does not get too intense. The pace in the beginning is a bit slow and the story a little ordinary but it does pick up. The story is not too original but the way that Fisher sets it up is different to what I have read. The novel is a quick read and perfect if you are looking for a story that you can read quickly and not think too deeply about.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️ 2 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 109th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

I had seen many positive posts on Instagram on Ruth Ware’s novel so when I saw one of her novels on sale at the second hand book store, I decided to pick it up. While reading the acknowledgements at home, I saw that In a Dark, Dark Wood was her debut.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Blurb:

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room….

Some things can’t stay secret for ever. 

My thoughts:

The novel follows two timelines – the past and the present: while Nora experiences the present, she looks back on the past as it affects her current situation. Following two timelines can be a bit confusing, but Ware successfully intertwined the two that I always knew where I was reading on the timeline .

The novel is slow moving as Ware sets up the scene and shows the reader the dynamic between the different characters in the story. In a Dark, Dark Wood is not action-filled and fast-paced and for some readers could be a bit tedious. As I was interested in the dynamic between the various players in the story, I did not mind the slow pace. The author’s presentation of the characters shows an understanding of human relationships and the power plays that exist between them.

The novel is not too twisty as the reader is able to figure out a lot because of their own knowledge of human relationships. The end, though, did have a bit of the unexpected thrown in. What I enjoyed about the novel was that the story is an exploration of the relationships between friends – and how one person dominates and steers the relationship no matter how many years have passed.

In a Dark, Dark Place is not a fast-paced and extremely twisty novel. Instead it explores the darker side of a friendship that is one-sided. Ware’s debut is one to pick up if you enjoy reading stories on human relationships.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 100th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon

I had never read anything written by Hannah Mary McKinnin. The concept for The Neighbors sounded interesting so I decided to pick it up.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Blurb:

In 1992, a car accident kills a young man and forever changes the lives of three people… Now, twenty years later, they’ll all come to regret the choices they made that day, as the secrets and lies they’ve told to protect each other become the very things that tear their lives apart.

After a night of fun, Abby was responsible for the car crash that killed her beloved brother. It is a sin she can never forgive herself for, so she pushes away the man she loves most, knowing that he would eventually hate her for what she’s done, the same way she hates herself.

Twenty years later, Abby’s husband, Nate, is also living with a deep sense of guilt. He was the driver who first came upon the scene of Abby’s accident, the man who pulled her to safety before the car erupted in flames, the man who could not save her brother in time. It’s this guilt, this regret that binds them together. They understand each other. Or so Nate believes.

In a strange twist of fate, Liam (her old lover—possibly her true soulmate) moves in with his own family next door, releasing a flood of memories that Abby has been trying to keep buried all these years. Abby and Liam, in a complicit agreement, pretend never to have met, yet cannot resist the pull of the past—nor the repercussions of the dark secrets they’ve both been carrying… 

My thoughts:

Goodreads describes the story as a thriller but it is more a human drama with a dash of mystery.

The story deals with two people who have unfinished business and, in part, goes along as one would expect. However as the story unfolds, a few little twists are added to the events that do turn everything upside down. The twists are caused by hidden truths and lies that, if revealed, would cause plenty of hurt and emotional destruction.

Deceit is definitely a thread that runs through McKinnon’s story. Hiding truths is so much a part of people’s lives – but some truths are more harmful than others. In The Neighbors, the truths are revealed slowly. As I realised certain facts, I could not help turning the pages quickly as I did want to know how these deceits would affect the lives of the characters. Having said that, The Neighbors is not an action-packed story that will have you racing to the end. It is, instead, a novel filled with human drama told in a way that keeps the reader interested.

I enjoyed reading McKinnon’s work and I will pick up another title by her. The Neighbors is a story for you if you enjoy reading novels featuring the drama of human relationships.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 99th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney

I won a giveaway hosted by Penguin Random House Canada for an ARC of The Perfect Wife by D. P. Delaney. When I received it, I admired the cover and, when choosing a book to take with me on vacation, I could not help but pick this one up.

Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Mystery

Blurb:

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago?

My thoughts:

When reading the novel, I realised that there is an interesting aspect in this novel that is not suggested in the blurb making this read even more interesting. I do not want to say too much in case I spoil it for you, but know that it has a futuristic appeal to it that I enjoyed. The viewpoint definitely adds an interesting twist in this psychological thriller – a twist that I have not yet read in this genre.

The Perfect Wife is a fast-paced read that was perfect for a vacation read. I had the time to enjoy the story that Delaney created and I was never bored nor wished for another book sitting on my shelves at home. The writer references the marriage between a man and a woman as well as the power dynamics in their relationship. The woman (who is slowly encouraged to take the part of the submissive) is shown to slowly change her sense of self to fit in with her husband’s belief of what their relationship should be. The little nuggets of Abbie and Tim’s relationship are fed to the reader slowly as you begin to grasp what is actually happening in the story.

During the story we see Abbie growing as a person as her memories of the past filter in. It is interesting to see how she begins to understand her relationship with Tim and with the other people in her life. Abbie is a character that grows during the story. The description of her growth is integrated seamlessly into the story and with such skill that I found I was cheering her on.

As I have said, Delaney’s story is a little different to the usual and has a few unexpected twists thrown in – some of which I was unable to predict. I certainly did not predict the big one at the end of the story! An ending which, by the way, I loved. If you are looking for a psychological thriller that has an unusual bent, then The Perfect Wife is the perfect read for you to pick up.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 97th in my book pledge for 2019)

Book Review: Missing Daughter by Rick Mofina

At the OLA Super Conference earlier on in the year, I had the chance to receive a signed ARC of Rick Mofina’s latest novel Missing Daughter.

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

Blurb:

Life can change in an instant. For Ryan and Karen Lane, it happens on the morning they discover their twelve-year-old daughter’s window open, their beloved Maddie missing from her bed.

Police investigate. Suspicions swirl. A teenage boy admits he was outside her bedroom window the night she disappeared. A halfway house for convicts recently opened in the neighborhood. The Lane family is thrown into turmoil, then detectives turn their sights on them.

No one is ruled out. Not Karen, with her tragic past, who argued with her daughter. Not Ryan, with his violent streak. Not Maddie’s thirteen-year-old brother, Tyler, who heard voices in her room the night she vanished.

Days, weeks, months, then agonizing years go by without answers, the Lanes fearing that Maddie is gone forever…until a stunning twist shocks everyone, plunging the family deeper into a world of buried secrets whose revelations threaten the very foundation of their lives.

My thoughts:

A parent’s’ nightmare is to wake up and find that your young daughter is missing from her bed. This is what happens to Ryan and Karen Lane. They discover that their twelve year old daughter, Maddie, is missing from her bed with the window open. Mofina describes perfectly the anguish and fear of the parents and her brother and, while I was reading about the accusations against them by the police and the media, I could feel their pain.

Missing Daughter is a well written thriller that is evenly paced. There was at no time in the novel that I felt bored but instead my mind kept working as I attempted to solve the mystery of who was involved with Maddie’s disappearance. I worked out a little, but most of the ending I did not foresee.

Mofina’s latest novel is well worth a read and is perfect for fans of thrillers. Not as twisty as a psychological thriller, but full of suspense nonetheless.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 96th in my book pledge for 2019)

First Line Fridays: The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

My pre-ordered copy of Karin Slaughter’s latest novel has arrived!

“Michelle Spivey jogged through the back of the store, frantically scanning each aisle for her daughter, panicked thoughts circling her brain: How did I lose sight of her I am a horrible mother my baby was kidnapped by a pedophile or a human trafficker should I flag store security or call the police or -”

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter (2019, Harper Collins Canada)

Slaughter pulls the reader right in with the first line into a story featuring a kidnapping, a devastating explosion, and the Centre for Disease Control.

I look forward to delving into this thriller

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: 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)

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)