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 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.

Book Review: Fearless by Fiona Higgins

Book: Fearless by Fiona Higgins – paperback edition, 392 pages.

Synopsis: Six strangers from across the world converge on the tropical island of Bali to attend a course designed to help them face their fears. Their backgrounds are as diverse as their fears – which range from flying, public speaking and heights, through to intimacy, failure and death…

Friendships and even romance blossoms as the participants are put through a series of challenges which are unusual, confronting and sometimes hilarious. A week of fun in the sun suddenly tranforms into something far more serious, however, when the unthinkable happens – a tragic disaster that puts the group in deadly danger that will test the individual courage of every member…

My thoughts: I made a rookie mistake, because the thing that drew me into this book was the cover. Of course, we all know by now that we should never judge a book by its cover but this one is absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t resist it. Unfortunately (of course), the book did not live up to the cover, and to be honest I didn’t like it at all. I bought this ages ago, and had intended to pick it up quite a few times but then my partner surprised me with tickets to Bali for Valentine’s day and I didn’t think reading a book about a “horrific event” happening there was such a good idea until after we had returned safely. The author has a very different vision of the Bali that I am used to, so although I was absolutely in the mood to be transported back to that setting it felt quite disjointed the reality of the place for me.

The first half of this book was spent introducing a group of characters that I couldn’t possibly have cared less about. I found them all incredibly grating and poorly developed. I think the story would have played out better and had more depth to it if it had revolved around one central character instead of scattered between the group. There was also an extremely weak love story tangled up in the plot that made me roll my eyes on more than one occasion. Also, the author making a character who admits to thoughts of paedophelia something of a martyr in the book did not sit well with me at all.

There wasn’t a lot of build up to the “event” which meant that it didn’t really feel particularly shocking to me when it happened. I feel like the reason for the attack, and the aftermath should have been fleshed out a lot more to make the story feel more balanced. All in all I found this book incredibly disappointing, and I don’t recommend picking it up.

Rating: 2/10

Book Review: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

Book: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole – kindle edition, 384 pages.

(Advanced Readers Copy)

Synopsis: A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Helen Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

My thoughts: Now, you’ll have to bear with me because it’s been a little while since I finished this book, and my memories of it are not as clear as I’d usually want them to be when writing a review. My reviews have fallen behind a little bit, but I’m now trying to catch up.

I remember really liking a few things about this book, but in particular the main character Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes. I felt like he was a really strong protagonist, and a character I could see a series being built around. Having said that, I found some of the detective’s actions clumsy, which was frustrating for me because I feel like crime thrillers often rely heavily on the backbone of the central characters and the reader’s belief in their ability to do their job. I also felt like some of the supporting characters needed more development, but there were a couple of others that stuck out and felt fully formed to me.

The pacing of the book was well done, and I think the idea of the killer setting a countdown to the next victim was a great way to keep the reader turning the page. The killer was not as interesting as I’d hoped, with the build up being what it was. But it was still an enjoyable enough read. All in all I found this to be a decent crime thriller, and would be good to pick up if you’re in the mood for something of this genre set in London.

Rating: 6/10