Book Review: The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

Book: The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney – audible audiobook edition, 10 hours & five minutes.

Synopsis: Enter the world of One Folgate Street and discover perfection… but can you pay the price?

Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before.

As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

My thoughts: I’m a sucker for a good domestic thriller so when I saw this book recommended by a handful of people, I decided to pick it up and see what it was about. I got the audiobook (mostly because I have a handful of Audible credits that I need to use), and I was excited to see how it would play out in this format. Unfortunately, I think listening to the audio book rather than reading it myself was a big part of what let this down for me.

The concept is interesting enough, but I feel like there is a strong need for suspension of disbelief throughout the story. I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind signing up for the scenario these women place themselves in, but maybe that’s just me. The book moves back and forth between the story of two women, Jane who is currently residing in the house, and Emma, the ‘girl before’. I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with stories that move between character perspective, and listening to audio that used similar voices for the two main characters was difficult for me. I had to stop listening to the book half-way through and start again just so I could follow the story properly.

I found nearly all of the characters unlikeable, even the ones we as the reader are supposed to sympathise with. I couldn’t help but picture Mr. Schue from Glee when the women were describing the ‘enigmatic architect’ throughout the book, which became very distracting and I found it hard to find this character attractive in any way. There were a couple of twists and turns throughout the story that did keep things interesting, but the ending was ultimately unsatisfying for me. If you are going to pick this up I would recommend picking up the hard copy of the book rather than the audio book.

Rating: 4/10

May Goals

Honestly guys, April was a terrible month for me in a myriad of ways. But it’s a brand new month, and I have a feeling that May will be a beginning of things turning around for me and becoming a bit more positive. With that in mind, I have decided to bring back my monthly goals. They’re a bit of fun and I feel like they’re a good way for me to keep track of how I’m doing. Here are my goals for the month –

* Practice daily affirmations to encourage positive vibes
* Make an effort to read every night before bed
* Work going to the gym back into my weekly routine
* Work on transferring our mortgage to a different bank
* Plant some new things and mulch the front and back yard
* Get a haircut (finally!)
* Re-watch the original Alien movies and go and see the new film when it comes out

I think that makes a nice little list that combines things that I need to get done with the things I want to do for myself to help bring some positive energy back into my life. I’ll be sure to check in next month and let you know how I went, and what my new goals for the month are.

April Empties (P50P Pt 4)

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths – My local Coles doesn’t seem to stock the Nivea Fragrance-Free Wipes anymore, so I decided to pick these up and try them as a potential alternative. I’m glad I did because they have easily surpassed the Nivea wipes and become my new favourite. They are just as gentle as the Nivea, but with the additional bonus of not feeling ‘dry’ on the skin. If you’re a fan of the Cetaphil skin care range or have sensitive skin, these are definitely worth checking out.

15: Glasshouse Candle in Galapagos – Sebastian bought me this candle as part of my Christmas gift a couple of years ago, and it had been sitting half-burned in my cupboard ever since. I really love the Galapagos scent range, it’s fresh and summery and one of those fruity scents that desperately make me want a cocktail. I’m trying to make my way through the candles in my cupboard so that I have less stuff to move when we (eventually) move interstate, so I’m burning through one at a time and this was the next to go.

16: Nivea Men’s Power Refresh Shower Gel – Sebastian picked this up because he had run out of his usual body wash, and I absolutely could not wait for him to finish this up. This smelled so bad, I could barely stand to be in the bathroom with him when he was using it. He’s since made the switch back to more gourmand-type scented body washes and I am incredibly grateful.

May TBR

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

It by Stephen KingTo the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live. It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing… The adults, knowing better, knew nothing. Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

Every Last Lie by Mary KubicaClara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident… until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon. Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out–and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Amnesia by Peter CareyWhen Gaby Baillieux, Australia’s most formidable hacker, releases the Angel Worm virus into her country’s prison system, cell doors are opened and inmates walk free. Since those prisons use American software, the doors in thousands of jails in the United States are opened as well. Is this an accident or a declaration of cyber war? Does it have anything to do with the largely forgotten Battle of Brisbane between American and Australian forces in 1942? Or with the CIA-influenced coup in Australia in 1975? Disgraced writer Felix Moore known to himself as our sole remaining left-wing journalist is determined to write Gaby’s biography in order to find the answers that could save her, his career, and perhaps his country. But how to get Gaby on the run, scared, confused, and angry to cooperate?

April Reading Wrap Up

Books Read: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, and The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
Total Books Read: 2
April TBR Books Read: 2
2017 TBR Challenge Books Read: 0
Total Pages Read: 385
Total Hours Listened: 10 Hours 5 Minutes

I really feel like I got back into the swing of things with my reading in April, which has made me really happy. Although it doesn’t seem like I made huge progress based on my results above, I managed to incorporate reading back into my daily routine and that’s what’s most important to me.

I had started reading I Let You Go late last year, but hadn’t managed to finish the entire thing. I’m glad I finally got around to finishing it because it was an excellent book and something I’d highly recommend picking up. I was less impressed with The Girl Before, but I’ll be discussing that further in my review later in the month. I think listening to the audio version really let the book down in this case.

I also started reading IT by Stephen King this month, which I’ve made quite a bit of headway with but I feel like will end up being a two-to-three month reading adventure because it’s so long. I’m really looking forward to the film coming out later this year, and I think it’s one of the best possible source materials to be transalated into a film. I watched the trailer recently, and it looked so amazing that it inspired me to pick up the book. I feel like a lot of Stephen King’s words are done an injustice when a film adaptation is made, but this one looks incredible, and seems to have an amazing cast. All I can say is I’m glad the phase of people dressing up like clowns and running around the neighbourhood appears to be well and truly over.