My review: Cottage by the Sea, by Debbie Macomber

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About the book:

A seaside town helps one young woman rediscover hope and healing in a brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

After tragedy strikes, Annie moves in to the summer cottage where her family vacationed when she was a child. Soon Annie finds herself making new friends, even developing a romance with a quiet and mysterious painter. And as she becomes part of the community, Annie learns that the surest way to heal is by making a difference in the lives of those around her.

My review:

This book is quite light if you’d like some rest from the thrillers/murders/mysteries (like me) but at the same time will touch your soul in very deepest ways. It is about many different things – family, parents, friends, love and loss and things that are important in life.

It grabbed me from the beginning and embraced me in this warm hug. The writing style was good. I am so used to books narrated by a main character or a few, that third-person narration felt a bit strange. But at the same time refreshing, as I felt like someone is telling me a beautiful story.

Cottage by the Sea is a really heart-warming book. You start sympathising to the main character/s from the first pages. It also has a story – at different times sad, sweet, angry, kind.

If you are looking for a summer/ beach/ cozy read, look no further, Cottage by the Sea is a perfect choice to warm up your heart (like a cup of a nice hot chocolate) or to relax your mind (like a light cocktail at the pool or a beach).

My rating is 4* out of 5*.

My review: The Date, by Louise Jensen

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About the book:

Something bad has happened to Alison Taylor.

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future.

By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her…

My review:

Another great thriller from Louise Jensen. The storyline is captivating, but sometimes I was questioning things, like why Ali didn’t go to the police. Naivety is a major trait for many Louise’s characters. I can see how it cannot work for some readers. I always enjoy the author’s writing style and language, the plot usually is quite entertaining and twists are good. Louise does a great job creating a very frightening and creepy life situation for her main character which is hard to unravel even with a stable and confident mind.

The pace of the book is excellent (finished it in 3 days with full-time work each day) and I truly enjoyed how the things were going and how more new twists and turns were coming into picture.

I would recommend this book to any thriller fan who enjoys some good quality suspense with a little splash of imagination.

My score is 5* out of 5*.

My review: Small great things, by Jodi Picoult

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About the book:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

My review:

Oh my! Jodi Picoult did it again! I must say that at some point I just stopped reading Jodi’s books as they started to blur a bit in my head. But then I decided to give this book a go as I’ve heard it is something very special.

And it was for me! This is a powerful book, very bold in expressing the words out loud instead of thinking them. It is probably the best book about everyday racism written by a white author. I am Caucasian, too, but this book did it for me too. Passive racism has so much in common with discrimination of any sort. It is very relatable to many people who feel out of place, who feel it is harder for them to achieve things just because who they are.

Jodi is never afraid to raise difficult topics, but this book is completely different level. I was under so much impression – I couldn’t stop thinking about it, couldn’t get to write a review, couldn’t start another book.

There were a few moment that couldn’t work for me, for example, trying to understand and accept a point of views of a white supremacist. It was really hard for me to relate to his and his wife’s feelings. At the same time it made me think about people with these views. What brought them to think this way and why.

This book makes you think, compare things and have more insights into people’s lives. The research done by the author is incredible which has a great reflection in the book.

I just leave this quote here that really resonated with me throughout the book and after:

“What if the puzzle of the world was a shape you didn’t fit into? And the only way to survive was to mutilate yourself, carve away your corners, sand yourself down, modify yourself to fit? How come we haven’t been able to change the puzzle instead?”

My score is 5* out of 5*.

My review: The Surrogate, by Louise Jensen

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About the book:

‘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…

My review:

This was the first book by Louise Jensen that I read and I absolutely enjoyed it! I loved everything about it – the twisty plot, amazing representation of emotions of a woman who so desperately wants to be a mother, the ending – everything.

The interesting thing about this book is that you don’t necessarily like or relate to the main characters but you just would love to know what will happen with them. Can’t put the book down even for a night or work, it’s totally captivating.

I really enjoyed the suspense and connection to the past tragedy that was unwrapping slowly.

The author’s writing style is beautiful, very smooth and compelling. There is nothing to change.

I’d recommend this book to all fans of psychological thrillers.

My score is 5* out of 5*.

My review: The old you, by Louise Voss

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About the book:

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir
A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller
Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface… and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.

But is it Ed s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

My review:

I have finished this book a while ago, but only now got time to write about it.

Everything about this book is excellent! Beautiful language, captivating thrilling plot, interesting characters, plenty of twists and turns.

I absolutely loved it! For a while I haven’t read a plot that even slightly doesn’t remind me anything I’ve read and seen before.

Lynn’s character is likeable, even despite lack of self-respect and little naivety but it makes it even more real. I absolutely enjoyed all the twists in the book and couldn’t put it down until I finished.

It’s one of those books that kept me reading at nights, because I coudn’t stop.

It is the first solo book by Louise Voss which I have read and she has jumped onto my list of must-read authors straight away. I quite enjoyed their collaboration with another favourite Mark Edwards, so I was keen to give Louise’s books my full attention. I am so glad I started with ‘The old you’!

Without giving away anything, this book is a massive page-turner and great a psychological thriller that you will truly enjoy.

My score is 5* out of 5*.

My review: Welcome To Wherever You Are, by John Marrs

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About the book:

How far would you run to escape your past?

For eight strangers in a Los Angeles backpacking hostel, even the other side of the world isn’t far enough.

The craving for a new identity and the chance to start again is something they have in common. But the search for a fresh start isn’t as easy as they’d imagined.

And they soon discover that it doesn’t matter where you are or who you are – if you can’t lay the past to rest, coincidence, fate and deception have a way of catching up with you when you least expect it.

My review:

First of all, I must say that John Marrs is one of my favourite authors, and this was his only book I haven’t read before. So I was looking forward to getting into it.

Secondly, John Marrs never disappoints, that’s the fact.

In the book, there are eight main characters, and at first, I found it difficult and a little bit annoying to switch between them, but then I got into the pace and ended up absolutely loving it. The plot is fresh and full of everything you wished for. It’s a story about friendships, love, difficult relationships, travelling, pop celebrity business, drugs, money and about facing your own past and the decisions you make.

I liked the variety of life stories in this book and was following each of them with a great interest. The book has a good amount of everything, it is exciting and thrilling, makes you wonder and guess, captivates you completely.

I guess enough said. Highly recommended to all travellers at heart, well, and everyone else.

My score is 5* out of 5*.

My review: The Retreat, by Mark Edwards

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About the book:

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.

My review:

I have been a fan of Mark Edwards’ books for a while now and was looking forward to this novel.

Going straight to the point, I really enjoyed ‘The Retreat’.  I loved the setting and beautiful presentation of the place. I absolutely adore Wales and the book reminded me of my travels there. I loved all the mysteries and how the plot was revealed in a good, dynamic pace. The best quality of Mark’s books is that it is hard to guess what is really going on, there are so many twists and turns that keep the reader entertained and glued to the pages. That’s what usually happens to me – if I start Mark’s book, I can’t stop until I finish it. Work and life get in the way, but I stay focused 🙂

I also enjoyed an element of the urban legends. It reminded my childhood where we all heard some old stories and were retelling them in different words to the younger ones, adding some particularly scary details. The interesting thing about the urban legends that they founded on something real that often has a simple explanation but a complex reason.

The main character Lucas is quite relatable. He struggles with writing his next horror novel, hence, comes to this new writers’ retreat. I am always curious about the life of the authors, their challenges and successes, so it was good to read a little bit about that as well.

There was one thing that wasn’t believable for me but I keep it a secret not to spoil a book for you.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller with little flashes of horror (but not too many ;). Mark’s plots always bring something new and keep you entertained.