ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE – GAIL HONEYMAN

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Eleanor is completely fine as long as nothing comes between her and her daily routine – work days ending with a meal at home, a book or tv show; Friday afternoons with pizza and vodka, and weekends spent with what’s left of the vodka bottles.
Almost nobody comes by her house. That way she feels almost disconnected from the world, and therefore happier, until Monday comes around to bring her back to reality.

The book features experiences of how people with anxiety go through- worrying about the smallest things -an upcoming unexpected phone call, visitors; being misunderstood by others and fearing the unknown.

Once a particular incident involving Eleanor and her work colleague Raymond saving Sammy, an unconscious old man on the street, the book starts to develop into the idea where under certain rules, contact with other particular people can be quite pleasant. Eleanor knows she’s fine on her own, but she discovers how healthy it was for her to be, as I like to call it, selectively-social, which was shown when she went with her work colleague Raymond to visit his mother Mrs Gibbons.

All throughout her chaotic journey of social encounters – from visiting her colleague’s mom and meeting with Sammy’s family to going to Sammy’s son’s birthday party, Eleanor suddenly finds herself exploring this new world where she has to integrate with other people. And sooner rather than later, she’s acquainted with the consequences of social interaction. Does it cost you things? And if so, is it worth it? Will she remember the causes of her constant depression and face them once and for all?

I like how the book teaches a lot of things such as what it means to have a friend, the decision to accept one’s help when they genuinely offer it and how to banish your fears from being an obstacle to your well-being.

This is a perfect read for introverts. It really does help you understand that it is not obligatory to be just like everyone else and become a social person. Instead, you can stay exactly as you are and still own sufficient confidence to guide you through your life moments.

This read was just so brilliant, filled with both humorous and heart-wrenching moments. It made me laugh and cry. It may only be fiction but it is also completely realistic and relatable.

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Are you sleeping – kathleen barber

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Thirteen years ago, Josie’s father Chuck Burnham was murdered. His killer, according to Jo’s sister, Lanie, is their neighbor Cave Warren. Lanie claimed that she saw Warren Cave pull the trigger and shoot her father.
On present day, reporter Poppy Parnell has started a series of a podcast called Reconsidered, where the one being considered is Chuck’s murder, in order to uncover the truth and possibly prove Cave Warren’s innocence.

Jo’s family isn’t perfect, and in fact their life is only going to get worse…
There’s Erin, the mother, who is marked by the horrors of her past, having to watch her brother die in front of her, losing her parents and then going through her husband’s murder.
Lanie, the rebellious sister, has been a complete mess ever since she was a teenager, with a love for satanic music, booze and drugs. And also, thirteen years later, sleep deprivation, and hauntingly confusing dreams which I think are the main liaisons to the book’s title Are You Sleeping?, which makes the reader wonder, was Lanie awake when she saw the murder in front of her eyes, or was she sleeping, seeing it all in a dream?
And then there’s Josie who, abandoned by both her mother and sister after the death of her father, tries to escape this life of misery. So she changes her name and moves to a new home with Caleb, her loving boyfriend, to whom she had lied about her family and her past.
And it isn’t until this podcast ‘Reconsidered‘ starts bringing up Chuck’s death, Erin’s mental illness and Lanie’s dark past, that Josie begins to be haunted by the things she has tried so hard to forget.

From the beginning, it was obvious that it wasn’t all just about finding the truth about who the killer was. It was much more than that. Kathleen, through this brilliant thriller, not only thrusts suspenseful scenes and entertains the reader with impeccable writing, but she also carefully tackles important subjects like the importance of family, especially the bond of sisterhood, sacrifice, and also how lies, indiscretions and a death of a family member can all present themselves as the beginning of the end.

But whose fault is it? To what lengths will the guilty party go to punish themselves?

Only when I thought that it had all come to an end, one character’s letter is uncovered and it was enough to wreck my mood. It was the perfect ending, but also sad as hell.
I had been longing to read more about this character ever since the start of the book, for it was so clear their role was quite a crucial one in the story, and so I was slightly disappointed as I leafed through the pages because they weren’t given the chance to say their part of the story, until there was this letter that connected all the dots and made everything fall into place. Obviously, Kathleen Barber knew what she was doing, and where to place each character. She’s just that kind of a genius.

Sure, everything sought in the beginning is discovered at the end, but clearly it is not all sunshine and rainbows; the last ones standing still have flaws and doubts provoked by the past, and are clueless about how they’re going to go from here. Also, how will things be after numerous truths have come out? Will the characters be able to start over like all of this never happened? Will they be able to move on?

The Fact of A Body: A Murder and a Memoir – ALEXANDRIA MARZANO-LESNEVICH

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Never ever have I read something like this. Personally, there wasn’t a page in the book that didn’t touch me deeply.
The narrator of the story Alexandria talks about memories of her with her family from the time her father was still a government lawyer to the time where he opened his law practice after settling in a new house. And then she moves to another chapter where she speaks about Ricky Langley’s life starting with the crime he committed, where a young boy named Jeremy Guillory is the soul victim and how Ricky’s life and a whole cast of characters’ changed after that, until the last verdict is announced.

Alexandria describes every move, every reaction and emotion experienced by Ricky with a sharp analysis of the various going-ons around him. She details how Ricky continues to take multiple measures to discover who he really is and why does he does what he does, and also mentions the times when she finds it difficult to understand him in situations where he’s provoked to do and say things that are shocking and that do not sound like the Ricky she’s just starting to know. His reactions to some things strange to him are some of the daunting parts described in the whole book.

The reader later becomes acquainted with the fact that the reason for Alexandria to know more about Ricky’s case begins to alter because of the new discoveries that emphasize how the truth about this man wasn’t what it always seemed. It was much more than she ever thought.

I think fans of the true crime genre will find The Fact of A Body interesting. As you read, you may find yourself sympathizing with too many people. And at the end of the book, it is easy to instantly feel overcome with emotions.
Quite the read of the year.

The Child – FIONA BARTON

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One of the top reasons I decided to read Fiona’s second book is Kate Waters. I loved The Widow, and Kate made an impression since the beginning, and it becomes clear to the reader what a likeable and sometimes relatable person she can be. So I definitely had to learn more about how she evolves as she now embarks on a new journey, featuring in Fiona’s new book The Child.

The story talks about a case revolving around a baby whose body had been found dead on a building site. Reporter Kate Waters is investigating and she can’t help but believe that there is a big story behind the case that will attract The Daily Post’s readers’ attention.

The different thing between The Child and other crime books is that the case in question is an elusive one. There is no promising evidence and nothing whatsoever to speculate on.
After we are acquainted with all the characters and their past, you might find there are numerous people to suspect, but then none at all (does it make sense?) but I found that that’s what made the story more engaging.

Fiona brilliantly created these characters who turn up to be flawed and touched by something unpleasant that changed them completely. But I was mostly intrigued by Emma’s back story, especially with Jude, and their mother-daughter relationship’s outcome years later.

I noticed that the reader must be very attentive when it comes to dates -the 70s and 80s – because that’s where half the clues lie.
The author sort of used them through a particular first person narrator -which I couldn’t help but get suspicious about, but not for the actual thing she’s later accused of- who tends to speak about someone who in reality is someone else completely. But we don’t know that until the end, which was unpredictable and sharply descending towards an explosive twist.
A total ‘it couldn’t be’ moment.

Everyone in the book had an essential role in the development of the narration. There’s such pure originality to the story. The beginning was an elusive puzzle and in the ending all the pieces fell into place.
It was all so cleverly written so you can’t bring yourself not to miss all these characters that made you a cluster of various emotions. Therfore, The Child is with no doubt a highly recommended read.

Final Girls – RILEY SAGER

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I’ve read many thrillers this year, but this one consumed me entirely. Believe me when I tell you that you won’t be wasting any time with this one.

Quincy is a Final Girl who, years ago, survived a massacre that occured in a Cabin where she went to vacation with some of her friends. Now, when another Final Girl who survived the same tragedy is found dead, Quincy receives an unexpected visit and suddenly her world turns upside down.
The killer might just be around the corner.

It is not just the smart writing and the perfect creation of the story’s characters that drew me in, but it’s also the way the author drops bombshells when you least expect them throughout the book, and also the ending that was completely satisfying. I find myself spending my non-reading time suspecting a couple of characters based on some deeply suspicious traits they were given by the writer, but the ending was something else and it turned out to be shockingly explosive.

I highly recommend Final Girls to all thriller fans. You will not regret it.

*Big thanks to FirstToRead for an advanced copy of Final Girls in exchange for an honest review*

Pretty Girls – KARIN SLAUGHTER

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Slaughters’ fans surely know that she is a unique author who doesn’t necessarily need a good plot to peek her readers’ interest. The book could be about nothing at all and still be the year’s best thriller.

Twenty years ago, Claire Scott’s eldest sister Julia went missing. It was a mystery that was never solved and it tore her family apart. Now another girl has disappeared, with chilling echoes of the past. And Claire is convinced that Julia’s disappearance is linked. But when she begins to learn the truth about her sister, she is confronted with a shocking discovery, and nothing will ever be the same.

Pretty Girls isn’t just another fast paced thriller that’s all about a plot and a twisted ending; it’s more than that. Karin plays with the details and you slowly become aware of how immensely important they are. The writing is engaging and is easily an inspiration for aspiring writers.
I especially loved how the characters’ internal thoughts and reactions are raw and brutally honest.

Things become interesting when Claire starts to divulge things about herself and decisions she made in the past and a new cast of actors are thrusted into the story.
There are parts in the book where I was not only interested in what happens to the sisters and their discoveries. Instead, I find myself wanting to read more about a few specific characters. I found that the most chilling and engaging paragraphs are the ones narrated by the sisters’ father Sam. It was always soothing how he told his own story.

At the ending, when we’re finally face to face with a major shocking truth, the suspense surely doesn’t cease to exist. I personally found myself immersed inside the final war between the guilty and the innocent within the last gripping pages.
I’m completely bracing myself for diving into more of Karin’s work.
I recommend this for fans of Harlan Coben and S. J. Watson.

UNSUB – MEG GARDINER

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Twenty years ago, a well-known serial killer – referring to himself as The Prophet – went on a complete killing spree in the Bay Area, leaving cuts and carved Mercury signs on his victims’ flesh.
And now, he’s back. With newer skills and plans for the city he has once left for good.
Caitlin Hendrix takes on the investigation – the same one that destroyed her father a long time ago- and is determined to solve the case as the killer continues to send her messages that she’s compelled to decode, along with mind games The Prophet likes to play.

What was The Prophet doing all these years? Was he just on the run, or was he conspiring for something even more sinister and terrorizing?

This read was with no doubt worth my time, as it was nothing like what I’ve read before.
UNSUB isn’t just another typical crime novel, and The Prophet surely isn’t just another fictional serial killer. His precision is sharp, and his endeavors are beyond expectations. With the killings he commits, he proceeds to put on a show for all the world to see on their home televisions – as the crime scene is still in motion when the Detectives arrive.
The author gives us insight on where the serial murderer comes from, and includes his point of view that features his thoughts later on in the book and only through a medium chapter, which is enough to make the reader shiver and look over their shoulder.
The ending was a definite page-turner, as the reader is not only fascinated by the outcome of the final battle between The Prophet and Detective Hendrix, but the shocking realization that is discovered afterwards.

As for Caitlin Hendrix; she’s so far one of my favorite fictional Detectives. Cait is easy to like; she’s down-to-earth and kind, and the author shows to us how her personality grows and strengthens through the tragedies that come to occur to the ones around her and the killer’s mind tricks that almost drive her to complete madness. I’m tremendously eager to read more about her and what’s in store for her in the second book.

Fans of Beukes’ The Shining Girls or readers who await for Mark Edwards’ upcoming book The Lucky Ones, will immensely appreciate this book.

***Thank you to Penguin Group Dutton and Netgalley for my copy of UNSUB in exchange for an honest and unbiased review***