3 Stars, Book review, Crime, Mystery, Paula Hawkins, Thriller

Bee Reviews: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

into the waterFormat: Hardback

Published: 2nd May 2017 by Transworld Publishers Ltd

Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Crime

Rating: ★ ★ ★

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Synopsis

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.


Review

This is no The Girl On the Train, as it was advertised as. And that’s a good thing, because if an author wrote two books that were the same, that would be very boring. This book did fall somewhat flat for me after The Girl On the Train after a first read though. While I had problems with the debut novel, at least it was fast-paced – this certainly was not.

It’s, like, when someone has an affair, why does the wife always hate the other woman? Why doesn’t she hate her husband? He’s the one who’s betrayed her, he’s the one who swore to love her and keep her and whatever forever and ever. Why isn’t he the one who gets shoved off a fucking cliff?

I loved the feminist aspect of this novel. This book is coming for all the people who have crucified women for simply existing. It’s all about how women who dare to speak up or women who prove challenging are silenced – but in this case, silenced in quite a lethal way.

No one liked to think about the fact that the water in that river was infected with the blood and bile of persecuted women, unhappy women; they drank it every day.

Overall, this is a strong follow up novel to the much hyped-up The Girl On the Train. Somewhat difficult to follow but still a very satisfying read.

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3 Stars, Cara Delevingne, Contemporary, Mystery, Rowan Coleman, Young Adult

Bee Reviews: Mirror Mirror by Cara Delevingne and Rowan Coleman

Format: Kindle edition, 368 pagesmirror mirror

Published: 5th October 2017 by Trapeze

Genres: Young adult, Contemporary, Mystery

Rating: ★ ★ ★

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Synopsis

Friend. Lover. Victim. Betrayer. When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Sixteen-year-old friends Red, Leo, Naima and Rose are like anyone their age: figuring out who they are and trying to navigate the minefield of school and relationships. Life isn’t perfect, but they’re united by their love of music and excited about what the future holds for their band.

That is until Naima dies in tragic circumstances, leaving behind only one word. ‘Sorry’.

What awful truth was she hiding? What dark secret was lurking behind her seemingly sunny persona? And how did Red, the self-styled protector of the group, fail to spot the warning signs?

While Rose turns to wild partying and Leo is shrouded by dark moods, Red sets out to uncover the truth and find out what – or perhaps who – was responsible for Naima’s death.

It’s a journey that will cause Red’s world to crumble, exposing the dark and dangerous truth behind the fragile surface of their existence. Nothing will ever be the same again, because once a mirror is shattered, it can’t be fixed.


Review

A copy of this novel was given in exchange for an honest review.

I’m going to preface this review by reminding the reader that everything in this review is strictly my opinion, and that there might be things I mention that you yourself might not mind in a book. But for me, Mirror, Mirror was a bit of a mess.

I see her face again, and wonder how it can be possible to find someone and lose them in the very same moment.

First of all, I’m not sure if the person who wrote the blurb read a completely different story to the rest of us, but it’s not remotely how the book actually panned out. Secondly, the book isn’t an easy one to read. I understand it’s YA, but that doesn’t mean it has to look like it was written by a YA. I would normally make allowances given this is a debut novel, but even a debut novel should have a better writing style.

I see the lights reflected in her deep blue eyes, and the tiny hairs of her soft cheeks and the way her top lip bows when she talks, and the silver scar just to the left of her mouth, and it’s like everything in the universe, since the beginning of time has been reaching just for this moment, this one perfect beautiful moment.

I wasn’t really sure about the first half of the novel. It didn’t feel like it was going anywhere, but this novel is supposed to be about more than Naima – it’s about all of them and their journey navigating their way through life. As for Naima’s story, I have to say the ending was predictable, but in an era of trying too hard, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

There is no need to despair over being brave, over risking everything to be true. Instead I feel free, because tonight I broke down one more barrier to truly being myself, crossed one more bridge towards the life I want. And for now, anyway, I feel good about doing that, even if I have burnt it down behind me. I feel proud.

All in all, Mirror, Mirror is a solid debut novel, and I feel it sets out to do what it intends to. I do hope that Delevingne works on her writing skills before her next novel though.

3 Stars, Book review, Michelle Richmond, Mystery, Thriller

Bee Reviews: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

themarriagepactFormat: Kindle edition

Published: 25th July 2017 by Bantam

Genres: Thriller, suspense

Rating: ★ ★ ★

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Synopsis

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter… Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples. And then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.


Review

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this novel. It’s a bit of a slow-burner, but at the same time, it’s never not enjoyable to read. The novel is told through Jake’s perspective – he talks about how much he loves Alice and how they got married and how they came across The Pact, something of a cult that brings law into marriage. If you don’t pick up that phone call from your spouse, if you’re emotionally unfaithful, The Pact will punish you for it.

Whenever I feel old […] Alice tells me to imagine taking a picture of myself, then to imagine myself twenty years in the future looking at that picture, thinking how young I looked, hoping that I had enjoyed or at least recognised my youth.

The goal of The Pact is to make marriages last. And it does just this – Jake is pleased when Alice comes home earlier from work, and it aids their marriage. Except when Jake and Alice learn that the key to The Pact’s success if that couples who don’t fit in mysteriously disappear. Through prison sentences and torture, Alice and Jake have to find a way of leaving The Pact while holding onto their lives.

Sometimes you just have to walk back across that burning bridge.

This sounds like an exceptionally suspenseful novel. On Goodreads, it’s marketed as a thriller. But for me, it didn’t really have that fast-paced element, except towards the end. It was suspenseful when Alice and Jake were forcefully taken away, and when they went on the run – but it was also anticlimactic in the sense that the build-up didn’t quite match the end result.

The boy is picking the starfish up and throwing them back into the water. The academic approaches and asks, “What are you doing?” And the boy tells him that the tide is going out and the starfish will die. Confused, the academic says, “But there are so many, millions even, how can it matter?” The boy leans down, picks one up, and throws it far out into the ocean. He smiles and says, “It matters for that one.”

I feel this is more a fault of marketing, perhaps. Because for me, I enjoyed this novel as more of a “books that make you think” novel. I’ve never thought harder about the concept of marriage and why it’s so unsuccessful these days. Also, with Jake’s insight as a relationships counsellor, I enjoyed reading the facts about marriage and generally life itself.

The fact of couples  coming together is based more upon timing and circumstance than magic.

To summarise, this was a really enjoyable book to read. I finished it in a day because it was that good. I just wouldn’t say it’s particularly a thriller, perhaps something of a dystopian mystery novel, but definitely a philosophical book that provides a deep insight to marriage.

3 Stars, Book review, Historical fiction, Romance

Bee Reviews: Unnoticed by Amanda Deed

cover108951-largeFormat: Kindle edition

Published: March 1st 2017 by Rhiza Press

Genre(s): Christian Fiction, Romance, Historical Fiction

Rating:  ★ ★ ★

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Synopsis

Plain Jane O’Reilly is good at being unnoticed. Detested by her stepmother and teased by her stepsisters, Jane has learned the art of avoiding attention. That is until Price Moreland, an American with big dreams, arrives in her small town.

Does she dare to hope someone might notice her?

However, Price Moreland may not be the prince that the whole town thinks him to be. Was his desire to be a missionary a God-given call, or just a good excuse to run from his past?

Complete with an evil stepmother, a missing shoe and a grand ball, Unnoticed takes the time-old Cinderella fairy tale and gives it an Australian twist.


Review

A copy of this book was given in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve read a lot of Christian fiction novels in my time – they’re quite enjoyable in a historical context – but this is definitely the most Christian one I’ve read so far. This is by no means a criticism as it can still be enjoyed by anyone, but more a heads up if it’s not really your thing.

Something I wasn’t sure I could get with was the author’s continuous use of description. You could probably go pages without any real action or dialogue, just the characters reflecting on themselves, which is important but also could happen in other ways. Additionally, miscommunication as a plot line can only be used so many times – and this novel certainly exceeded this.

Aside from this, the characters were pleasantly enjoyable. They were all written in-depth, a far cry from the original telling of Cinderella where people are evil because they just are. Deed certainly displays her deep understanding of human nature in this novel which makes it such a good read. My favourite parts included Deed exploring issues with the Christian community, and when the characters you thought were wicked turned out not to be so wicked after all.