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

★★★☆☆

ARC REVIEW : DISCRETION

The Riviera means indulgence—if you’ve got money. For Sadie Reynolds, a down-on-her-luck student, the Riviera means dingy hostels and back streets. When a wrong turn puts her in jeopardy, the last thing she expects is to be saved by the most handsome stranger she’s ever locked eyes with. When she later wakes up in a luxury suite with a Mediterranean view, she’s in the tender care of her rescuer: Olivier Dumont, France’s most eligible bachelor, billionaire hotelier, and heir to the Dumont fashion fortune.

Olivier also owns his reputation for scandal. But Sadie is unlike any woman he’s ever met. Her humble persona and wild innocence promise real passion. He’s promising Sadie something too: anything she wants. From Bordeaux to Cannes to Paris, Sadie’s past in America is swept away and replaced with a fantasy too good to be true.

Pulled into Olivier’s orbit of wealth, glamour, and excess, Sadie discovers that the Dumont dynasty comes with a legacy of wicked secrets. And Olivier’s secrets may be the most damning of all…


review

So, there’s a reason I should never wait too long to post a review for a book. I read this one a little more than a week ago and the details are already fuzzy in my head. But in my defense, this one has less to do with my memory and more to do with the story. The book wasn’t half as interesting as the blurb made it out to be.

First things first. I didn’t feel the romance at all.  It was a case of insta-love. But I could forgive insta-love if the build-up from there is written well. Sure, there’s a lot of sex between the main characters. But there was more sex than actual talking and connecting. I’d have loved something simmering within before they actually started doing the dirty. But nothing like that. It goes from zero to hundred pretty fast.

There’s a part where the heroine decides at the last moment to stay back and spend some more time with the hero, a big effing decision. But the way she goes ahead with it, and the way the hero reacts? They might as well have decided to stay back at home instead of going to a party. I did not feel any excitement. If you want to sell the story of a girl being taken on the ride of her life and make some big decisions for the sake of a guy within a few days of meeting him, you don’t rush it like that. You gotta make every moment between the couple count. But it was too rushed.

The whole premise kind of felt stupid to me. How the hero is forced to give up everything because of one ‘discretion’. The prologue made it out to be a momentous thing. But when the whole thing came out, I just found the whole reason stupid. I felt incredulous at the series of things that kept happening. The plot was predictable, suspense element was dull, and villains unconvincing. And that ending just came off as a cop-out. There was no real resolution or closure.

I think ultimately, the story lacked any real meat. There was nothing new about the setup. So it all had to come down to the writing. But the author let me down. I’ve read her books before and I know she can do much better. That’s a big reason I requested the ARC. But this was a forgettable fare by her. Another series I don’t think I’ll continue with.


ratings

★★☆☆☆

Publication Date: 6th August, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links –  Amazon Goodreads Book Depository

ARC REVIEW : LAST SUMMER

I always like it when a book surprises me in the end. And that final twist at the end certainly took me by surprise. But it felt a little too unreal and far-fetched to me. Also, the ending was bit of a cliff-hanger, with the author choosing to keep things a little open ended. While I could see where this could head to, but I’d also like a definitive ending.
Oh, how I wish I could rant properly about my complaints with the story! But it would be too spoiler-y for a book that hasn’t even released yet.
But any problems I have with this book are totally to do with my own rationale and personal opinions. This book definitely ticks the right boxes as far as the genre of thriller and suspense are concerned!

ratings

★★★☆☆

Publication Date: 9th July, 2019.
Source: ARC from Publisher (via Netgalley)

Links – Amazon | Goodreads

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: 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


ARC REVIEW : WHERE THE FOREST MEETS THE STARS

In this gorgeously stunning debut, a mysterious child teaches two strangers how to love and trust again.

After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.

The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past.

Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore?

Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.


A little girl who claims to be an alien and two broken souls. And we have riveting tale by a debut author.

First we have Jo, a brilliant Ornithologist and a cancer survivor who decided to have both her breasts removed, and now feels alienated by almost all men around her. Then we have Gabe, who has his own demons haunting him, skeletons in his family forcing him to isolate himself from everyone else. And we have Ursa, who brings these two together in an unlikely friendship.

Let’s talk about the suspense first. For most of the book, we are kept in the dark about Ursa’s actual identity. She keeps claiming that she’s from a galaxy from Ursa Major. But her smartness and brilliance at such a young age doesn’t make her tales too unbelievable. What is actually her story? The author keeps you guessing until the very end. And she does a great job at it too.

The romance, now. It felt really organic. The connection between Jo and Gabe developed quite beautifully, through their growing attachment towards each other and to the little girl. There were parts where I felt frustrated with some of the decisions Jo and Gabe took. But I could understand that what compelled them to do these things. I was also not completely convinced by the whole  legal dealings in the story. But I didn’t even care. Because the writing had me completely captivated. All I cared about was these three characters get to live together happily after, because if there was one thing I was convinced about, it was their love for each other.

Glendy Vanderah makes a compelling debut with a story about family, friendship and survival. I definitely look forward to her future works.


★★★★☆


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

Links –  AmazonGoodreads | 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.


★★★★☆


BOOK REVIEW : TRULY DEVIOUS

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.


Good News – I finally read Truly Devious.

Bad News – I am disappointed.

I liked the beginning and the first-half well enough. Especially the past timeline parts. But for the present timeline, I feel like I kept waiting for the story to take off the whole time but it never did. I also could not connect to many of the characters. Stevie was an interesting protagonist, if frustrating at times. I think I liked Nate the best. I also liked the friendship between Nate and Stevie. I found Janelle to be a promising character at the beginning but by the end, she felt so under-utilized. In fact, all the supporting cast felt under-utilized and wasted.

The character that I found the most annoying was David. I still don’t know what was the deal with him and am not the least interested to find out. I’m not sure I like whatever romance we saw between David and Stevie. I’d rather Nate was her romantic interest.

It was the pacing and the plot that disappointed me the most. Especially the ending. What was that, really? That was so anti-climactic. The whole later half itself felt very cluttered as if the author was unsure which direction to take the story to. I get that the author wanted us to read the sequel to get the answers, but that doesn’t mean that you leave the first book so unstructured. There was not one complete story in the book that was explored fully. And I can’t say I was too impressed by that cliffhanger.

I think this is more of a case of “It’s me, not you”, because almost everyone loved Truly Devious. This narrative in this one failed to deliver what I want from my murder mystery series. But I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and give The Vanishing Stair a try before having a final say.



★★★☆☆


 

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