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.

My review: The woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

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About the book:

Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

My review:

Generally, the book was quite entertaining which highly affected the score. It was an easy read, the plot is flowing well, despite obvious discrepancies and questions that never get answered, and keeping reader’s attention. It did remind a little bit of Agatha Christie’s murder style when a murderer is among a small group of people in a confined space. And that’s where the good ends for me.

I am honestly getting tired of women, the main characters, who are damaged, have psychological or substance abuse issues and who can’t get their shit together and can’t figure their own life out. It looks like the stories about ‘Girl on the train’ women attract all the action, interesting and unusual things happen to them, and it all deserves the whole plot to win readers’ hearts. Disappointing and seriously exhausting. ‘Normal’ girls (without anxiety, alcohol abuse, or broken relationships), don’t deserve to be in the books anymore. Hence, I couldn’t relate to Lo at all in this book. Couldn’t really understand or sympathise her.

The plot itself, despite being entertaining, has a lot of questions and doubts that never get resolved. It makes you think that those details were not that important if the author completely ignored answering them. Those moments also don’t make a reader wanting to fantasise about possible answers.  

My score is 3* out of 5*.

My review: The Spaces In Between, by Collin Van Reenan

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About the book:

One of the most disturbing true stories you will ever read…

Paris, 1968. Nicholas finds himself broke, without papers and on the verge of being deported back to England. Seeking to stay in France, Nicholas takes a three-month contract as an English tutor to the 17-year-old Imperial Highness Natalya. It is the perfect solution; free room and board, his wages saved, and a place to hide from police raids. All that is asked of Nicholas is to obey the lifestyle of the household and not to leave the grounds.

It should have solved all his problems…

The Spaces In Between details the experience of Nicholas as he finds himself an unwitting prisoner within an aristocratic household, apparently frozen in time, and surrounded by macabre and eccentric personalities who seem determined to drag him to the point of insanity. Much deeper runs a question every reader is left to ponder – if this tale is fact and not fiction, then what motivation could have driven his tormenters?

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

‘The Spaces In Between’ has one of the most interesting stories I have ever read. It has everything – the biggest mystery, love story, some Russian history and cultural features, a little bit of Paris, psychological thriller, a bit of drama and lots, lots, lots of secrets. 

The ending of the book can be disappointing for some readers, but I just liked it the way it was. Was it all fiction or not? Was it just a game of imagination? Was it a very vicious plan? And why…

Without giving anything away, I just say that I liked absolutely everything about this book. It kept my attention so much that I couldn’t wait to get on the bus on the way home or to work to start reading again chapter after chapter. The story is truly captivating. The possible truths are very interesting as well. And in my opinion, quite possible.

The cover designed by Patrick Knowles is an absolute masterpiece itself and illustrates the book so well.

My score is 5* out of 5*.

My review: The Rules of Magic, by Alice Hoffman

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About the book:

Find your magic

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.

My review:

This book is just magical. I felt so much interested in the lives of Franny, Jet and Vincent that was extremely sad when the book came to an end.

‘The Rules of Magic’ is a fairytale for adults who still want to believe in magic, curses, destinies and that love can conquer all. Set in the 1960s really gives a special charisma to everything that was happening in the book. The free spirit of that time, fashionable and modern New York and the opposite of it all where it all started – in Massachusetts, in the old house full of secrets and exotic plants. 

‘The Rules of Magic’ will give you so many rules that will help to define your own destiny. It teaches you kindness, love and that you always have to be yourself.

The world of ‘The Rules of Magic’ is full of wonder, wisdom and stories that will make you laugh, cry, think, love, hate, exhale and inhale again. It’s been a few days since I finished the book and I miss it all so much.You don’t need to believe in magic and witchery to like this book. It tells stories that will make you care about the Owens and what will happen to them.

Despite it being the second book in a series, it can be a stand-alone novel. I haven’t read the first book – ‘The Practical Magic’ but definitely will.

My score is 5* out of 5*.

 

 

My review: The Night Market, by Jonathan Moore

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About the book:

From an author who consistently gives us “suspense that never stops” (James Patterson), a near-future thriller that makes your most paranoid fantasies seem like child’s play.

It’s late Thursday night, and Inspector Ross Carver is at a crime scene in one of the city’s last luxury homes. The dead man on the floor is covered by an unknown substance that’s eating through his skin. Before Carver can identify it, six FBI agents burst in and remove him from the premises. He’s pushed into a disinfectant trailer, forced to drink a liquid that sends him into seizures, and is shocked unconscious. On Sunday he wakes in his bed to find his neighbor, Mia—who he’s barely ever spoken to—reading aloud to him. He can’t remember the crime scene or how he got home; he has no idea two days have passed. Mia says she saw him being carried into their building by plainclothes police officers, who told her he’d been poisoned. Carver doesn’t really know this woman and has no way of disproving her, but his gut says to keep her close.

A mind-bending, masterfully plotted thriller—written in Moore’s “lush, intoxicating style” (Justin Cronin)—that will captivate fans of Blake Crouch, China Miéville, and Lauren Beukes, The Night Market follows Carver as he works to find out what happened to him, soon realizing he’s entangled in a web of conspiracy that spans the nation. And that Mia may know a lot more than she lets on.

My review:

This book provided so much promise at the start that I felt a bit disappointed in the end. The storyline, its science fiction/dystopian part, is absolutely fascinating. This area had so much potential that I got my hopes up. The mystery part was exciting as well but the ending wasn’t quite there for me.

Ross Carver is a great character and I felt strongly connected to him. He is a great detective, great friend you can always trust. Mia, on a contrary, made me dislike her from the start. Maybe it’s just me but I found everything she was saying or doing absolutely hideous. Not that I didn’t believe her but how she did it (or the author did for her). If Jonathan had an intention of creating a love story, then for me personally it failed.

The other thing I didn’t quite like is a title. I don’t really get why it’s called ‘The Night Market’….If you get, can you please help?

Despite the stated dislikes, I quite enjoyed the story and how it was going. I’m an absolute sucker for dystopias. The more the better. This one also about really interesting society created on consumerism and advertising technologies which are great topics to explore. As I said it can be so much more in that. This was my favourite aspect of ‘The Night Market’.

I was also disappointed to find out in the end that it’s the third book in a series. It can be read as a standalone novel but now I keep guessing how much connection it had to other books.

This book is one of those to enjoy the process but not the ending. I score it 4* out of 5*.