Review: Girl Unknown by Karen Perry

About Girl Unknown

Hardcover:304 pages
Publisher:Henry Holt and Co. (February 6, 2018)

Explores emotional danger with relentless, surgical accuracy.
Tana French,New York Timesbestselling author of The TrespasserandInto the Woods.

David and Caroline Connolly are swimming successfully through their marriages middle years raising two children; overseeing care for David’s ailing mother; leaning into their careers, both at David’s university teaching job, where he’s up for an important promotion, and at the ad agency where Caroline has recently returned to work after years away while the children were little. The recent stresses of home renovation and of a brief romantic betrayal (Caroline’s) are behind them. The Connollys know and care for each other deeply.Then one early fall afternoon, a student of sublime, waiflike beauty appears in David’s university office and says, I think you might be my father. And the fact of a youthful passion that David had tried to forget comes rushing back. In the person of this intriguing young woman, the Connollys may have a chance to expand who they are and how much they can love, or they may be making themselves vulnerable to menace. They face either an opportunity or a threat but which is which? What happens when their hard-won family happiness meets a hard-luck beautiful girl?

Praise

Full of intrigue and incident keeps us guessing until the very last tragic page. Liz Nugent, bestselling author ofUnraveling Oliverand ofLying in Wait.

Compulsively readable, with surprises until the very last page. . . . A chilling tale about a family under threat from one of its own. Jessica Treadway, author ofLacy and I Will I Know You?

“[Girl Unknown] is must-read literary suspense, with dueling character perspectives and sly twists forming a gut-wrenching exploration of trust, manipulation, and obsession. Booklist (starred review)

Purchase Links

Amazon |Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Review:

Imagine you’re already going through a difficult time in your marriage, a trying time that is putting your relationship to the test and then a teenaged girl shows up and announces that she’s your husbands daughter. That’s exactly what happens to Caroline and Zoe’s arrival is just the beginning of a series of events that no one saw coming, I sure didn’t!

While this was most definitely a mystery, it had a strong literary feel to it, the prose used by the authors had a sophisticated subtlety to it that gave it strong edge. I’m always fascinated by writing duos, I wonder how they actually wrote the book. This is told from dual perspectives, that of David and Caroline and I pondered whether each author wrote each distinct voice, but whatever method they used it worked excellently. You would never know it’s co authored, there is nothing disjointed, it’s actually incredibly smooth and the writing style is top notch.

The plot takes several unexpected turns but the twists weren’t the big, shocking gasp worthy type but rather the kind that unnerve you and get under your skin. They are still surprising, but there’s an air of refinement to how they’re executed that worked really well for me. I’m definitely a fan of the style and will be reading more from the author(s) in the future.

Girl Unknown in three words: Unsettling, Polished and Penetrating.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

Photo by Edmund Ross Photography

About Karen Perry

Karen Perryis the pen name of Dublin-based authors Paul Perry and Karen Gillece. Together they wrote Girl Unkown.

Paul Perryis the author of a number of critically acclaimed books. A recipient of the Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing, he teaches creative writing at University College, Dublin.

Karen Gilleceis the author of several critically acclaimed novels. In 2009 she won the European Union Prize for Literature (Ireland).

Connect with them on Facebook.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

What I Read Last Week:

Best Friends Forever was an entertaining, light mystery with chilling moments.

The Reunion was a fantastic psychological thriller that delivered the promised jaw dropping twist.

The Surrogate was a great audiobook and my new favorite Jensen book.

Look For Her was about a cold case, one of my favorite premises!

The Story of Our Lives was a lovely read about female friends with a clever structure.

Currently Reading:

Up Next:

I think I’m finally, slowly coming out of my reading slump, which is exciting! One positive from it has been that it made me reflect and reevaluate how I want to move forward. I still love book blogging and find it to be really fun, but I realized that I’ve been putting unnecessary pressure on myself to read all of the books! Super unrealistic and silly honestly because that’s just impossible. Most of the time it’s me having FOMO, which again is just stupid so I’ve decided to be more discerning in terms of the books that I commit to reading. I cannot do it all and I want to continue to enjoy doing this and not constantly feel like I’m under pressure to read. It’s all self inflicted, no one has made me feel this way for the record. With all that said, I’ll be refraining from posting reviews on the weekends unless I have a prior commitment just so I’m not constantly writing blog posts. So no huge changes, I’ll still be around, I feel like scaling back slightly will only have a positive impact on my life! Does anyone else do this? Curious what works for you all.. And how was your week?!

Review: The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 20, 2018

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Blurb:

They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway–until they met Severine, the girl next door.

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group’s loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can’t forgive, and there are some people you can’t forget, like Severine, who was never seen again.

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine’s body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free.

Review:

How well can you trust your own memory after ten years? That’s the question at the heart of this book and when I think back to a decade earlier I can’t remember all that much. I was pregnant with my first kiddo so I definitely have vivid memories of that time, but the rest of everyday life type stuff? Forget it. Kate can’t forget the week she spent in France with her five closest university friends, there was drama, turmoil and a neighbor went missing. But now her body has been discovered and the investigation has been reopened forcing Kate to recall painful memories that she would rather be left in the past. How well can she trust herself, they were drinking and again, it’s been ten years! I loved the unreliability this provided as everyone’s perception of that week didn’t quite fit together making it tricky to piece together the truth.

This is a slower paced novel, you should definitely be in the mood for a lighter mystery that doesn’t rely on crazy plot twists when you pick this up and I do recommend picking it up! Despite the leisurely pace I was hooked almost instantly, there were fantastic moments of doubt and plenty of evasion from the core group of friends that kept me entertained. What sets this apart is the deep characterization coupled with a strong writing style that gave me shades of Ruth Ware. I’ll definitely be eagerly awaiting her next book!

The French Girl in three words: Perceptive, Enigmatic and Dubious.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Blog Tour: The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 6, 2018

Publisher: Graydon House

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Blurb:

They think nothing can tear their bond apart, until a long-buried secret threatens to destroy everything.

Every year they have met up for a vacation, but their time away is much more than just a bit of fun. Over time, it has become a lifesaver, as each of them struggles with life’s triumphs and tragedies.

Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa have been best friends since they were girls. They have seen each other through everything—from Sophie’s private fear that she doesn’t actually want to be a mother despite having two kids, to Amy’s perfect-on-the-outside marriage that starts to reveal troubling warning signs, to Melissa’s spiraling alcoholism, to questions that are suddenly bubbling up around the paternity of Emily’s son. But could a lie that spans just as long as their friendship be the thing that tears them apart?

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Story of Our Lives! If you want to follow the tour check out TLC Book Tours for the full schedule.

Review:

I’m sure many of us have read stories about a group of female friends before, but the way this was structured was unique and set it apart from other books based on friendship. Four friends, Sophie, Melissa, Amy and Emily meet up every year for a girls weekend and these trips mean the world to them. This is divided into sections by year and follows the ladies on their weekends away. At the beginning of each part there is a political or pop culture reference relevant to whatever year it is and I loved this mini revisit to the past that stirred up my own memories of memorable events.

The characterization is fantastic and with four main characters there is someone for everyone to like or relate to. I enjoyed all of them, they all had interesting and sometimes sad stories, but they were very realistic, full of ups and downs, highs and lows and very true to real life. Nothing seemed contrived or convenient, there were painful moments and also happy ones, it truly was the story of these women’s lives, the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Story of Our Lives in three words: Emotional, Heartfelt and Stirring.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

About the Author:

Helen Warner is head of daytime for Channel 4, where she is responsible for shows such as Come Dine With Me and Deal Or No Deal. Previously she worked for ITV where she launched the daytime talk show Loose Women and was editor of This Morning. She lives in East Anglia with her husband and their two children.

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Connect with Helen

Website | Goodreads

Review: Look For Her by Emily Winslow #BlogTour #lookforher

About Look for Her

Paperback:304 pages
Publisher:William Morrow Paperbacks (February 13, 2018)

Everyone loves a beautiful missing girl

Look For Her ratchets up the tension while also offering moments of sheer grace.”-Riley Sager, bestselling author of Final Girls

“Beautifully written with an expertly twisty, surprising story, this is a must-read!Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of Never Let You Go

Lilling might seem like an idyllic English village, but it’s home to a dark history. In 1976, a teenage girl named Annalise Wood disappeared, and though her body was later discovered, the culprit was never found. Decades later, Annalise maintains a perverse kind of celebrity, and is still the focus of grief, speculation, and for one young woman, a disturbing, escalating jealousy.

When DNA linked to the Annalise murder unexpectedly surfaces, cold case detective Morris Keene and his former partner, Chloe Frohmann, hope to finally bring closure to this traumatized community. But the new evidence instead undoes the case’s only certainty: the buried body that had long ago been confidently identified as Annalise may be someone else entirely, and instead of answers, the investigators face only new puzzles.

Whose body was unearthed all those years ago, and what happened to the real Annalise? Is someone interfering with the investigation? And is there a link to a present-day drowning with eerie connections? With piercing insight and shocking twists, Emily Winslow explores the dark side of sensationalized crime in this haunting psychological thriller.

Search the book’s hashtag: #lookforher.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Review:

One of my favorite types of premise in a mystery is a cold case, I love the idea that a criminal thinks they’ve managed to stay off the polices radar only for new evidence to be uncovered years later and put their freedom in jeopardy. The case of Annalise is the type that had instant fame that lasted years, even after her body was found AND especially since her killer was never caught. A pretty young teenager that vanished only to be found years later is legendary in Lilling and the links between past and present turned out to be chilling and intriguing.

Apparently this is the fourth book in a series but since I didn’t even realize until after I had finished this, it clearly wasn’t an issue for me. There is definitely a tricky history between Chloe and Morris but there was enough information provided that I felt caught up. You hear from Chloe and Morris but also from Annalise Williams, a young woman with an odd fascination with Annalise Wood and Laurie a therapist who treats Annalise. Most of the story is told in a straightforward, linear timeline but there were a few chapters with transcripts from Annalise’s therapy sessions that I really enjoyed.

This was fast paced, it’s under 300 pages and I flew through it at a rapid pace. There’s a heavy emphasis on the psychology of the characters and I’m not sure if that’s just because there’s a therapist as one of the characters or if it’s the norm for Winslow, but either way I liked the depth that it added. Recommended for those who enjoy character driven mysteries with smart twists and strong writing.

Look For Her in three words: Intelligent, Insightful and Puzzling.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

Photo by Jonathan Player

About Emily Winslow

Emily Winslow is an American living in Cambridge, England. She is the author of the novels The Whole World, The Start Of Everything, and The Red House.

Find out more about Emily at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

Audiobook Review: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen @Fab_fiction @bookouture

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: September 20, 2017

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Narrator: Alex Tregear

Blurb:

You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…

Review:

I’ve been a huge fan of Louise Jensen and have read all of her books and loved them, but I think The Surrogate is my new favorite! I’ve also not had the pleasure of listening to one of her books before either and I absolutely adored the way this was brought to life by the fabulous narrator, Alex Tregear. It made the whole thing feel more real and was so much more sinister than just reading it myself, she’s amazing and has one of those voices you could listen to for hours.

This flips between the past and present steadily building tension and intrigue as you read further along. Kat was easy for me to warm to, all she wants is a child and though I never had to endure fertility treatments in order to have my kids, I can clearly remember how one month can seem like a year when you’re desperately wanting a baby. Lisa was a tricky one, I so wanted to believe that she had good intentions and wanted to help her old friend, but it’s a Louise Jensen book and you just know there’s way more than meets the eye. Oh man is there SO much more!

I’m not delving into the plot, it was deliciously twisty, dark and thrilling though and if you haven’t read one of Jensen’s books, can I recommend that you start here?! It has all the high marks of a superb psychological thriller, unreliability, shocks, complex plotting and an onslaught of twists that will leave your head spinning.

The Surrogate in three words: Multifaceted, Ominous and Wicked.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

Review: The Reunion by Samantha Hayes @samhayes @bookouture

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

They were all there the day your sister went missing.

Who is lying? Who is next?

THEN – In charge of her little sister at the beach, Claire allowed Eleanor to walk to the shop alone to buy an ice cream. Placing a coin into her hand, Claire told her to be quick, knowing how much she wanted the freedom.

Eleanor never came back.

NOW – The time has finally come to sell the family farm and Claire is organising a reunion of her dearest friends, the same friends who were present the day her sister went missing.

When another girl disappears, long-buried secrets begin to surface. One of the group hides the darkest secret of them all…

If you loved Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, this gripping psychological thriller packed full of twists and turns will be impossible to put down.

I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for The Reunion today!

Review:

Oohh what a tangled web Hayes weaves in The Reunion! This was one of those books full of simmering tension and you just know things will boil over at some point, but waiting for that to happen is part torture and part delicious anticipation and all around addictive.

There is quite a bit going on here, plenty of characters and all with some sort of mystery hanging in the shadows. It’s mainly focused on Claire, who’s sister Lenni vanished two decades ago while she was watching her. You also have friends and family who were connected in some way to Claire’s family back when Lenni went missing making it tricky to decide who to focus on. At various points I had my suspicions about every single character, I love that as it keeps me on my toes and the guessing and back and forth is always so fun.

When all is revealed I had one of those moments where I realized just how clever Hayes is and how beautifully she had laid things out. The breadcrumbs were all carefully left but I never fully followed them, it really was put together in such a sharp way. The jaw dropping twist mentioned on the cover? It’s true, I actually gasped. If you love psychological thrillers and haven’t read a Hayes book what are you waiting for?! Snap this one up ASAP!

The Reunion in three words: Intricate, Smart and Addictive.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Samantha Hayes grew up in a creative family where her love of writing began as a child. Samantha has written eight thrillers in total, including the bestselling Until You’re Mine. The Independent said “fantastically written and very tense” while Good Housekeeping said “Her believable psychological thrillers are completely gripping.” Samantha’s books are published in 22 languages at the last count.

When not writing, Samantha loves to cook, go to the gym, see friends and drink nice wine. She is also studying for a degree in psychotherapy. She has three grown-up children and lives in Warwickshire.

www.samanthahayes.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaHayesAuthor/

https://twitter.com/samhayes

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

What I Read Last Week:

Spring at Lavender Bay was an adorable read and a wonderful beginning to a new trilogy.

Killer Choice was a tense read about an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation.

Force of Nature was a fantastic atmospheric mystery.

The Promise Between Us was a raw, emotional look at a family living with OCD.

As Bright as Heaven was a gorgeously written and fascinating HF.

Currently Reading:

Up Next:

I’m still struggling pretty badly with my reading so these are books I’ll be trying to see what sticks. I’m so annoyed but what can you do?!

How was your week?

Blog Tour: Best Friends Forever by Margo Hunt

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: January 23, 2018

Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb:

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Best Friends Forever! If you want to follow along with the tour check out TLC Book Tours for the full schedule.

Review:

If you’re looking for a super fun, engaging thriller that’s on the lighter side with no graphic descriptions and gruesome murders, Best Friends Forever is the book for you! It was a fast read that kept me totally interested and while I predicted a few things, there were enough surprises that I was left satisfied.

This is told solely from Alice’s point of view and it goes back and forth between the present day and three years prior when she first meets her BFF, Kat. The two have an unlikely friendship, Kat is wealthy and glamorous while Alice is an average stay at Mom and wife, but they both need a friend and bond over typical marriages woes. I liked Alice, I had the most in common with her and felt like she would be the type of woman I would befriend.

This had an easy, Chick Lit vibe with an edge, it’s still very much a thriller but Hunt’s writing style was just so effortless that reading it was a breeze. I said earlier that I had sussed out parts of the resolution but not every last detail and the stuff I didn’t see coming? Fantastic and really chilling, it definitely gave the book an edge for me. This would be the perfect book to take on vacation, ideal for a weekend read!

Best Friends Forever in three words: Entertaining, Fluid and Sly.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

About the Author:

Margot Hunt is the pseudonym of a bestselling writer of twelve previous novels. Her work has been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is her first psychological thriller.

Connect with Margot

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Review: As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

Goodreads|Amazon

Release date: February 6, 2018

Publisher: Berkley

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb:

From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters–Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa–a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world, not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Review:

The Spanish Flu is not something I know very much about and admittedly it’s not something that I’ve ever had a great interest in but Meissner writes such gorgeous prose that I was utterly fascinated by it while reading this. I honestly think she could write about anything and I would be at least mildly engaged but I was completely captivated by the Bright family and their tragic tale.

This is told via the perspectives of all of the women in the Bright family, even the youngest and I loved the birds-eye point of view this provided. You got to see how the war and the Spanish flu had an impact on adults and children and also to witness firsthand the devastation it caused just in one family, can you imagine how many countless families had similar true stories like this?! Amazing. I loved each and every member of this resilient and inspiring family, but Maggie will always have a special place in my heart.

Meissner’s attention to detail is impeccable, you can see that she did her research in order to keep as historically accurate as possible with a few minor details changed that made sense to the plot. If you’re a HF fan this is a must read, it’s fascinating and the writing is just beautiful.

As Bright as Heaven in three words: Heart-wrenching, Emotional and Unforgettable.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher and the Great Thoughts Ninja review team for my copy.