Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Review: Before She Knew Him

Before She Knew Him Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape.

Frankly, I did not know what to expect with this book. It is established very early on that 1) Hen has had psychological issues so may not be a reliable witness and 2) Matthew has something to do with the disappearance/murder of someone. I didn't expect the ending. I also didn't expect the very ending. Both surprised me. In fact, more than a few moments in the book surprised me. I liked it.

View all my reviews

Review: Hunting Annabelle

Hunting Annabelle Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book had a very interesting aspect to it - the narrator is presented as mentally ill. He takes antipsychotic drugs and spent time in a mental institution after committing a murder. Therefore, his narration is not necessarily one we can trust.

The story progresses and the reader becomes more and more uncertain of the facts presented. Ultimately, not all the characters are who we think they are at the outset. This book is dark. Much darker by the end. I thought the book was interesting enough to keep reading but I was unsatisfied by the end.

If you like a dark book, this is for you.

View all my reviews

Review: Watching You

Watching You Watching You by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I never know what I’m going to get with this author. Always a well written novel but sometimes too weird or disturbing. This one is just right. We begin with a murder. Mrs. Kavanaugh is dead, stabbed multiple times in her kitchen. Who and why? The author takes the reader back a few weeks and begins the story, dropping in facts from each characters’ life. I honestly didn’t know who or why until the last bit. Very well written.

View all my reviews

Review: The Perfect Liar

The Perfect Liar The Perfect Liar by Thomas Christopher Greene
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.75 stars.

It is difficult to write a good thriller with a protagonist the reader doesn’t like. The protagonist is not completely unlikable, just lacks a conscience. Very well paced.

View all my reviews

Review: Daughter of Moloka'i

Daughter of Moloka'i Daughter of Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Such a wonderful book to follow the first book. It is not necessary to read the first book to follow the second. The first book is about Rachel, a Hawaiian girl sent to the island due to leprosy. Wonderful book with a rich history I knew very little about. Rachel marries and they have a daughter. They name her Ruth. In order to save her from a life of leprosy, they give Ruth to an orphanage where she is adopted and raised by a Japanese family. This is Ruth’s story. Ruth has a strong personality and is well developed. This book gives a good history of being Japanese American in a very difficult time. Difficult to read at times, but historically accurate. Wonderful ending.

View all my reviews

Review: Lifeboat 12

Lifeboat 12 Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a simple read, sparsely worded but weighty. Told from the POV of Ken Sparks, a real 13 year old boy, and using historically correct sources, the author tells the true story of a ship bound for Canada with 90 children escaping the war. A U Boat torpedoes the ship and Ken misses his lifeboat, number 8, and ends up on Lifeboat 12. The story is far too incredible to believe thus the author provides a very long list of sources used. It is an amazing experience that is well corroborated. One I’d never heard.

View all my reviews