BOOK REVIEW : THE SILENT PATIENT

Author: Alex Michaelides
Links
: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Celadon Books.
Genre: Mystery; Thriller; Suspense.
Warnings: Violence, Mental sickness, Mentions of suicide.
Release Date: February 5th 2019.

synopsis

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him…


review

So I finally rode what I’d like to call the hype-train, almost a YEAR after its release. Yes. But there’s a reason that I was late to the party. I’d found the premise very intriguing, and yet I was wary after seeing all the hype. I mean, I can’t be the only one who’s been betrayed by the hype more often than not. And while I’m not on board with the idea that this book is perfect, I do understand the reason behind the raving reviews.

It’s the BIG TWIST. And right now I’m annoyed about it because I can’t actually go into details about my feelings about the book. That would just spoil the BIG TWIST. But the thing is, I didn’t find it to be a huge twist. Did it make me go WTF when I read the reveal? Of course. But, was it completely unexpected? Uh, no. See, I have this bad habit of trying to think of all possible scenarios that the story could lead to, when I start a book, especially a suspense. And the big twist did come to my mind among other possibilities. But I had definitely not expected it to go down the way it did. And the author sure deserves to be commended for that.

The story follows Psychotherapist Theo Faber as he takes up a job at an institution just so that he could personally treat Alicia Berenson, a popular painter who went silent after allegedly killing her husband, and is residing in the same facility Theo joins. This story had quite a few things working against it right from the start. First was my inability to get on board with the motives of the characters. I kept constantly questioning the logic of the plot. Second was again my inability to connect with any of the characters. Third was the pacing. The pace is slow at first and the plot takes time to pick up. And finally, that ending… I felt that the while the twist took the story to a whole another level, it also forced the author to compromise a little with the storytelling. There were little questions still nagging me after the end. I would have liked the author taking a few more pages to wrap things up nicely.

As far as thrillers go, The Silent Patient delivers. Quite an impressive debut from the new writer. I liked it a lot, but it had potential to have had a higher impact on me. That’s where I feel that the story let me down. But I’d still recommend everyone to read it.


ratings

★★★☆☆

SERIES REVIEW : VERONICA SPEEDWELL #(1-4)

A Victorian mystery series about “a natural historian with a specialty in lepidoptery which makes her a butterfly hunter and world traveler who is always up for adventure.”

review

Veronica Speedwell is a free-spirited lepidopterist (one who studies or collects butterflies) who always gets thrust into adventures with Stoker, a taxidermist ( one who preserves animal’s bodies).

First things first, I had to google a lot of words while reading this series. Well at least, my vocabulary has become more enriched because of this series!

————–

The Strong Points

Premise

The books have all a Shelock Holmes vibe to them, with each book based on a different crime. There is a lot of initial mystery regarding Veronica and Stoker’s past life. Although much of it has been resolved, a few questions are yet to be answered. Veronica and Stoker are natural historians, but they might as well be detectives with how they easily get embroiled into solving criminal cases.

Protagonist

Veronica is an extraordinary heroine. She is quite advanced for her era, and abhors all things domestic, marriage and children. She’s intent on traveling the world and finding more adventures. a headstrong, straightforward intelligent and adventurous girl, quite advanced for the era. She is not afraid to admit about having had sex with men. She reminds me a lot of Brennan from Bones.

Hero

Stoker is reserved, broody, smart, impulsive and a slightly damaged. He has a scarred face from an encounter in the wild with a jaguar. The mental scars from his family and ex-wife, though, are the most damaging. He’s my kind of hero. His evolution from the recluse resigned to his fate, to the gentleman slowly finding his feet back in the society, over the series, was a delight to read!

The couple

We start off with Veronica and Stoker being reluctant companions, then see them develop into work partners, then to close friends and ultimately to something more. I loved both of them together. While they are quite similar in terms of their profession, intelligence, love for adventure and of course family secrets, they’re also very different. Veronica loves provoking and teasing Stoker who is an easy victim.

Stoker starts off as a disgruntled man, expecting Veronica to be disgusted by him. But she, being the mischievous and frank girl she is, has no qualms in expressing her attraction towards him. It’s him who blushes at her initiating talks of sexual encounters! Their teasing and bantering eventually turns into a defense mechanism whenever things too get intense between them. It was their relationship more than anything else that had me turning the pages.

Secrets

Both Veronica and Stoker have deep secrets. We learn about Veronica’s birth secrets and family ties quite early in the series, but Stoker’s is a more complex story with many layers. He’s been burned in love. While Veronica has never been in love, she and Stoke share a kindred spirit. Each of them grew up thinking that it was them versus the world. It was amazing to see them slowly open up to each other about their scars and bond even more over it.

————–

One thing that bothered me in the first book was the nonchalance of both Veronica and Stoker in taking lives of animals. But as the series went on, I was pleased to see a change in temperament for both of them. I went into this series for the mystery, but stayed because of the characters.

This series is supposed to have 5 books, with the final book being scheduled for next year. I’m already excited with the clues we have gotten about the next book. Hope it ends with a bang!

Below are my mini-reviews of the books with their ratings!

ratings

A Curious Beginning: ★★★★☆
I wasn’t very drawn towards the mystery in the first book and rather was more interested in Stoker and Veronica’s equation. The start was alright but it was the introduction of Stoker’s mysterious personality that won me over. There were circus hijinks and attempts at abduction. I liked the ending too.

A Perilous Undertaking: ★★★★★
I liked the second book the best in terms of a being satisfied with both the case and the progression of the overall. I think it’s my favorite because I liked the case and it was the strongest in terms of characters introduced in relation to the crime.

A Treacherous Curse: ★★★★☆
We finally got a case which gave us the answers to all our questions about Stoker’s past. This book would’ve been my favorite if not for the ending. I wasn’t satisfied with the explanations and resolution in the end.

A Dangerous Collaboration: ★★★★☆
This one had the weakest case in my opinion. But the progression of the relationship between Stoker and Veronica was the most satisfactory. We finally see a reversal with Stoker being the one playing games and provoking Veronica instead of the usual opposite.

ARC REVIEW : THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

In the early 2000s, a string of abductions rocked the small upstate town of Reine, New York. Only one girl survived: Alex Salerno. The killer, Ken Parsons, was sent away. Life returned to normal. No more girls would have to die. Until another one did.

It’s been twelve years since Kira Shanks was reported missing and presumed dead. Alex Salerno has been living in New York City, piecemealing paychecks to earn a livable wage, trying to forget those three days locked underground and her affair with Sean Riley, the married detective who rescued her. When Noah Lee, hometown reporter with a journalistic pedigree, requests an interview, Alex returns to Reine and Riley, reopening old wounds. What begins as a Q&A for a newspaper article soon turns into an opportunity for money, closure and—justice. The disappearance of Kira Shanks has long been hung on Benny Brudzienski, a hulking man-child who is currently a brain-addled guest at the Galloway State Mental Hospital. But after Alex reconnects with ex-classmates and frenemies, doubts are cast on that guilt. Alex is drawn into a dangerous game of show and tell in an insular town where everyone has a secret to hide. And as more details emerge about the night Kira Shanks went missing, Alex discovers there are some willing to kill to protect the horrific truth.

review

Alex is the girl that got away from being a victim of a serial killer. She was abducted by the killer but got rescued before she could be raped and killed like the previous victims of the killer. She moved away from her small town soon after the incident, after another girl – Kira Shanks – went missing and Alex became old news. She’s now back for what she thinks is a legit interview but turns out to be wild-goose chase by a lazy college student for a paper about Kira Shanks’ case.

This student claims that the guy caught for killing Kira Shanks is pretending to be mute and mentally unstable just to escape punishment. He also tells Alex that detective Riley, the same guy who had rescued Alex is trying to get Kira’s apparent Killer Benny saved. Alex who had an affair with the much older and married Riley after he rescued her when she was 17, gets the excuse to meet the guy again. She admits to still having feelings for him. But he is dismissive of her and that spurs Alex to dig up the truth.

Alex is a mess. She tends bars, walks dogs and sells pills for a living. Even therapy didn’t help her. She’s also very erratic, impulsive and unpredictable. Her motives for investingating the Kira Shanks case all by herself were shaky at best. At first, it looks like she just wants to reunite her ex-lover. Then she claims that she’s doing it for the money offered to her. Detective Riley takes her to the mental facility Benny is living in to meet him. She’s indignant that a criminal gets to live in a facility akin to a hotel. But a few pages later she talks about how looking into Benny’s eyes made her feel that he was innocent.

Honestly, even though Alex’s character kept giving me whiplash, and was treating other characters with disdain, I still felt for her. She was like a wary stray puppy to me who just needed some affection.

It was the storytelling, fast pace and the plotting that made it a very enjoyable thriller to me. The author kept it realistic.

The environment the author created was made for a perfect thriller. I didnt know what to expect. Even the ending was bittersweet. But I finally read a psychological thriller and mystery that kept me on my toes after a long time. I believe that it would make a great film adaptation!


review

★★★★★

Publication Date: 3rd December, 2018.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

ARC REVIEW : A LILY IN THE LIGHT

A harrowing debut novel of a tragic disappearance and one sister’s journey through the trauma that has shaped her life.
For eleven-year-old Esme, ballet is everything—until her four-year-old sister, Lily, vanishes without a trace and nothing is certain anymore. People Esme has known her whole life suddenly become suspects, each new one hitting closer to home than the last.

Unable to cope, Esme escapes the nightmare that is her new reality when she receives an invitation to join an elite ballet academy in San Francisco. Desperate to leave behind her chaotic, broken family and the mystery surrounding Lily’s disappearance, Esme accepts.

Eight years later, Esme is up for her big break: her first principal role in Paris. But a call from her older sister shatters the protective world she has built for herself, forcing her to revisit the tragedy she’s run from for so long. Will her family finally have the answers they’ve been waiting for? And can Esme confront the pain that shaped her childhood, or will the darkness follow her into the spotlight?


review

Esme is the third of four children. She’s 13 when her younger sister Lily disappears right from their house, with everyone but their mother present in their house during the time. This disappearance leaves behind despair and guilt. Esme’s mother blames her father. The police initially have the eldest of the siblings, Nick, the 17 year old deadbeat brother. Madeline, the second sister feels guilty for the last words she said to the 4 year old Lily was that they were better of without her. Esme, who was the closest to Lily feels her own guilt for putting off Lily’s request for a story because of an exam the next day, and not going to comfort her when Madeline said those harsh words.

Lily’s disappearance leaves her family damaged. Cerise is obsessed with finding her daughter, and can’t forgive Andre for letting Lily disappear in his presence. Cerise also is not above pointing fingers at her son. Even Esme and Madeline can’t help but be suspicious of him. This creates a distance between Nick and the others. Cerise is ready to do anything to find her daughter, even if it involves taking help from a psychic or hiring a private investigator. Amidst all this, Esme is intent on not letting it break her, choosing to believe that Lily would be back. She feels the distance with her family, more than ever. Her only solace is in ballet. She also has her mentor Amelia and eventually a close friend Adam to lean back on, while keeping her family at bay.

The complexities in the relationship between the family members, due to the tragedy and the feelings of mistrust it creates among them, were beautifully conveyed. It was heartbreaking to see the distance between these characters, when it was clear that there still was love beneath it all. The characters were sketched such that all of them had their own voice. I just wish that we could see a little more before the ending. I also would have liked seeing Lily’s POV. But other than that, it was a great book, with a well-executed plot and strong characterization.


review

★★★


Publication Date: 1st April, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon| Goodreads | Book Depository

ARC REVIEW: LITTLE LOVELY THINGS

A mother’s chance decision leads to a twist of fate that is every parent’s worst nightmare.

Claire Rawlings, mother of two and medical resident, will not let the troubling signs of an allergic reaction prevent her from making it in for rounds. But when Claire’s symptoms overpower her while she’s driving into work, her two children in tow, she must pull over. Moments later she wakes up on the floor of a gas station bathroom-her car, and her precious girls have vanished.

The police have no leads and the weight of guilt presses down on Claire as each hour passes with no trace of her girls. All she has to hold on to are her strained marriage, a potentially unreliable witness who emerges days later, and the desperate but unquenchable belief that her daughters are out there somewhere.

Little Lovely Things is the story of a family shattered by an unthinkable tragedy. Played out in multiple narrative voices, the novel explores how the lives of those affected fatefully intersect, and highlights the potential catastrophe of the small decisions we make every day.


This was not an easy read…

Claire, a medical student and a mother of two, gets afflicted with an allergic reaction to a double dosage of vaccine while driving her two daughters, and it’s so bad that she has to pull into the nearest gas-station to go to the bathroom, on the verge of vomiting and passing out, leaving her two daughters sleeping in the car. That’s the last she sees of them because the couple of Moira and Eamon, Irish travelers come across the kids, and Eamon impulsively decides to abduct the girls.

This was such an intricately weaved tale, with complex characters. It was fascinating to read the point of view of the couple who abducted the kids too. Moira, in particular, was a destructive character with multiple layers. Then there was Jay White, a Native American with a supernatural sense of insight. There preternatural themes playing throughout the book, with dreams playing a major role. But it was the interplay of guilt and blame between Claire and Glen that really stuck with me. None of the characters were perfect, Claire the least. In fact, I was frustrated with Claire more than any other characters. But I also felt so much compassion for her!

The writing was sublime and subtly descriptive, if at times too unorthodox, which might not be for everyone, because it did disrupt the flow of my reading at times. But Maureen Joyce Connolly is definitely a debut author to look out for.


★★★★☆


Publication Date: 2nd April, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon| Goodreads | Book Depository


BOOK REVIEW : THE 7½ DEATHS OF EVELYN HARDCASTLE


The Rules of Blackheath:

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin…

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.


Another tick off the TBR List!

Right after finishing the book, a part of me needed to immediately write all my thoughts down, but another part of me needed to go to a cave somewhere and take a week to try make sense of what I just read. Well, obviously, I’m opting for the former.

The plot was brilliant. I had been told the gist of what the book was about before starting it, so I was confused for almost 100 pages about what was happening. I kept thinking – Is this part of the loop? Has it already started? Why does he keep talking about Anna instead of Evelyn? Who is dead? – I just couldn’t focus because I was too busy wondering when we would get to the point. That’s why, it’s always better to go into a book blind.

Yes, the plot was brilliant, but it made me feel dumb. Because I found myself rereading parts and going back to previous pages to make sense of some things. I felt overwhelmed for a long time. And there were so many characters that I had a hard time keeping track of them at first. Also, I felt like I didn’t get enough time with each of the characters to actually get invested in them. There were so many conversations and secrets and revelations to remember that at certain parts, I’d have to stop and try to recall them to understand what was happening presently. I could never see some of the twists coming. But I did find the final twist at the end to be convoluted.

This book was something else, entirely. I don’t think I can praise the creativity of the author enough. But I’m not sure if I’ve actually familiarized myself with all the plot details. It was a lot to take in. And I certainly need to reread this a couple of times to better appreciate this story.


★★★★☆


ARC Review : Close to the Bone (Widow’s Island #1)

FBI Special Agent Cate Wilde is back home on a remote Pacific Northwest island when she gets the call: a teenager’s skeletal remains have been found on a nearby island.

Together with Tessa Black, a childhood friend turned local deputy, Cate confronts dreary weather and bleak leads to make sense of the death. The complications pile up as Cate is distracted by the coroner on the case—and by nagging memories that draw her twenty years into the past. The remains suggest eerie similarities between this victim, and Cate and Tessa’s friend Samantha, who disappeared when she was fourteen.

Cate finds herself up against closemouthed locals, buried town secrets, and even her own heart. As the case unravels, will she be able to cut through the fog and find justice for the missing and the dead.


Close To The Bone is the first novella in a new series by Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh. These authors will be alternatively writing books for the Widow’s island series, which are all novella-length. This is their second collaboration after the Rouge River series which I hear had a few characters from this new series. I might check that out.

I am of the opinion that short lengths only do favors to a suspense genre. You get a faster pace and a tighter story-line. So, I had high expectations from this novella. But, in this case the length was the main problem with this book. It could’ve used a little more time for the plot and the mystery to build up and unfold.

To be fair, I think the characters were fleshed out pretty well, even in the short span of time. I liked the focus on the friendship between Cate and Tessa. I am curious about what’s ahead for the gang. Having said that, the potential romance between Cate and Henry failed to engage me. I found there to be a shortage of sparks between the main characters, something that I always eagerly look forward to in a romance.

My favorite part about the book was the setting. I loved the idea of Widow’s island with it’s fascinating history and background. An island where married men have a record of dying young? Color me intrigued! If nothing else, I’ll read the next book just to return to this captivating island.


My Rating: ★★★☆☆

Publication Date: 23rd November, 2018.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)
Links – Amazon | Goodreads | Book Depository

ARC Review : A Postmodern Love By Nick Totem

*I’d like to thank the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in return of an honest review.*


Have you ever fallen in love and then had not just your life but your conception of life altered forever? Come and find out more in A POSTMODERN LOVE, a contemporary adult novel–romance, noire, psychological suspense.

In the end, a man is shot through the heart. Another man is driven to the edge of madness. Caught between them is Lana Fauves, a beautiful, intelligent woman, but one who is haunted by her past and the loss of her true love, a musical genius. In this fast-paced novel—romance, thriller, and noire—Thomas Wilde, a doctor and veteran of the Iraq War, will stop at nothing to win over the woman he has desperately fallen in love with. But amid the machinations of the modern world, will he find true love, or only heartache, deception, and murder?


A Postmodern Love slowly snuck up on me.  The prologue packs quite a punch. But the story itself takes time to build. I had a difficult time investing myself at the initial parts before the story slowly wielded its magic and began to engage me.

Obsessive love was the main theme here. And the protagonist who’s the narrator of the book is an obsessive person by nature. He makes it clear in the very first few pages where he gets infatuated by Lana the minute he lays his eyes on her. He even talks about a girl he was obsessed about back in college.

Thomas Wilde is a doctor who also served in the Iraq war. He quite possibly suffers from PTSD as nightmares about one tragic event from his time there keeps haunting him regularly. But when he meets Lana, it’s her mysterious beauty that begins to haunt him.

Lana was the most fascinating character. She’s written as a Femme Fatale to the T. You don’t know what’s going through her mind right till the end. The author quite cleverly keeps the readers wondering about her just as the protagonist.

The on and off relationship between Lana and Thomas only helps to exacerbate his infatuation for her. There are genuine postmodern elements of relationships at work here. On one hand, you can see Thomas willingly let his blind love for Lana leading him towards a point of no return. On another hand, you actually witness how Lana plays him perfectly. I didn’t like any of the characters but they were all intriguing. There is a depth to this book that I particularly enjoyed.

On a side note, I was distracted by the many grammatical errors which I hope won’t be in the final version.

My inability to empathize with the main characters created an emotional disconnection in me. But I would still call this psychological thriller an absorbing piece of storytelling


My Rating: ★★★☆☆


Publication Date: 29th January, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)
You can find this book on – Goodreads | Amazon

ARC Review : The Murder Book (Cold Case Investigation #2) by Lissa Marie Redmond

*I’d like to thank the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in return of an honest review.*


Cold case detective Lauren Riley wakes up in the hospital certain of two things: she was stabbed and left for dead…   and the person who did it was a cop.

After being brutally stabbed at her desk late one night, Lauren Riley works her way backwards through the haze to piece together who attacked her and why. A mysterious phone message forces her to enlist the help of a retired lieutenant to track down a witness who is desperate not to be found. As she digs into the Buffalo Police Department’s hidden past she uncovers a terrible secret, one a fellow officer would kill to protect.

Packed with suspense and featuring a detective who relentlessly—and with morbid humor—gets the job done, The Murder Book continues a series praised by Kirkus Reviews as “an excellent police procedural combined with a psychological thriller.”


It started out well enough. The beginning gripped me just as I’d hoped it would. But the charm wore off as the story progressed. I struggled to retain the same interest throughout the book that I felt at the beginning.

I think my biggest problem was the writing. There were many grammatical errors and some words felt misplaced. I hope the final version of the book gets the proper editing it deserves. Because it’s difficult to enjoy a book when you get distracted by such mistakes.

Lauren is a smart protagonist. Though, I felt that she was written as too impersonal, considering the past she’s had. Teen pregnancy, prostitution, domestic abuse, two divorces, stalkers – for someone with such terrible experiences, I was expecting a bit more emotional depth. It didn’t help that whenever we find out about each of these experiences, the mentions are written too casually. Also, having a protagonist with all of these happening to her has a cliché written all over it.

Maybe, if I’d read the predecessor to this book which I didn’t know existed until after I finished the book, I’d be less frustrated with the back-story of Lauren. There will be a third book too, going by how this one ends.

The main mystery was plotted out fine enough. There were no big shocking twists or unpredictability. It was the process through which the team gets to the results that mattered. I really liked Reese and Lauren’s equation. They were perfect partners for each other. It was also refreshing to have no romantic angle there. Charlie Daley was also a welcome addition to their team. Their team dynamic was the best part of the book for me. I also liked the realistic portrayal of the inner workings of the police department.

Ultimately, Murder Book disappointed me by not delivering the intensity and excitement I’d been expecting from this Mystery/Thriller.


My Rating: ★★★☆☆


Publication Date: 8th February, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)
You can find this book on – Goodreads | Amazon

ARC Book Review: The Found Child by Jo Crow

* I received this ARC from the publisher through Netgalley for the purpose of honestly reviewing the book*


One mother’s life will change in the blink of an eye—and there’s no going back.
Elaine’s worst fears become reality when her beloved son Jakob is diagnosed with cancer. She needs to find a bone marrow donor, and time is running out. But while awaiting test results to see if she’s a possible match, Elaine learns a shocking truth about her son; a truth that threatens to send her back to the pills that almost destroyed her life once before; a truth that pushes her already fragile mental state to the breaking point.
Even as the family faces this new crisis, a ghost from Elaine’s past emerges to jeopardize everything she’s built. But is the threat real, or is it all in her mind? Elaine needs to stay strong for her son, but as her whole reality continues to unravel, she can’t trust anyone—not even herself.


The Found Child is a psychological thriller/suspense through and through. You don’t know what’s happening and who to trust for majority of the book. This book is nothing short of a roller-coaster ride for your mind.Read More »