Book Review

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

woman in the window

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

The fact that Dr Anna Fox is a fan of the classic black and white thriller certainly adds to the mood of this book.  When Anna sees something whilst looking around the neighbourhood using her camera as a telescope / binoculars just smacks of the wonderful Rear Window.

I was drawn into the book from the start.  I have read a couple of reviews stating that it’s a slow starter but for me, I was drawn in from the start.   The fact that Anna was a child psychologist who now has mental health issues is very interesting.  Even more so when you discover that Anna doesn’t live with her husband and daughter.  Although they seem to speak on the phone quite often and have a good relationship.  What on earth happened to cause this?    Which then makes you ask how reliable is Anna?   She is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the comfort of her house for almost a year.  She offers advice on a forum for other agoraphobes, plays online Chess and keeps an eye on her neighbours through a camera.

We know that she’s on a cocktail of medication, she drinks Merlot as though it’s water and you begin to wonder what did she actually see?  Did she even see anything?  Is it all just a figment of her imagination?

This book really does keep you in suspense.  Or rather, it kept me in suspense.  This isn’t the kind of book that I normally read so maybe I’m not the best judge but it kept me wondering about what was going on.   You get just enough snippets of information about Anna’s past to keep you coming back and want to know how it’s all going to end.

I find it hard to believe that this is a debut novel.  It’s written so well and with so many twists and turns. and I shall certainly look out for more by this author in the future.

 

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced reading copy of this book in return for an unbiased review. 

 

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Murder at Home by Faith Martin

murder at home

Flo Jenkins is found murdered in her armchair, a paperknife sticking out of her chest. The old woman was well liked and nothing seems to have been stolen from her home. And it was common knowledge that she only had weeks to live.

Why kill a dying woman?

Apparently this is book 6 in a series. I had no idea and didn’t find out until after I had finished reading this. A nice simple plot that makes a very good read with enough side plots to keep you hooked. DC Keith Barrington is new to DI Hillary Greene’s team. He was transferred to Hillary’s team in TVP after having punched his last sergeant in London. Very narrowly escaping being sacked altogether. The team are called out to the murder of a 76 year old lady who it turns out was very ill. But she was a very well liked lady so who would want to kill her? I really enjoyed this book and when I discovered that it was book 6 in a series, was surprised as one tends to feel that one is missing out on the backstory when reading a well established character for the first time, but hats off to the author as I felt that I had all the information needed. I’m now off to find the first in the series and start from the beginning.

My thanks to Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine.  She leads a very simple life. She wears the same clothes to work everyday, cooks the same meal in the evenings and is perfectly happy.

She goes to work five days a week and on a weekend she treats herself to a bottle of wine, 2 bottles of vodka and frozen pizza. She lives alone and doesn’t have any social skills whatsoever which also makes it difficult for her to have friends.   As such, her social life consists of one telephone call per week from her Mummy, which usually ends up with Eleanor being told off.   Eleanor Oliphant is existing. She certainly is not living.

During the book and for reasons that I do not want to disclose, Eleanor decides that she needs a makeover.   As you may expect, this doesn’t quite go the way that it was planned.

Whilst going through this, Eleanor becomes a little more confident but throughout it all, stays true to herself. She lacks any kind of tact whatsoever and really does just blurt out exactly what she is thinking.
Whilst at work, Eleanor’s PC stops working and she meets Raymond, a laid back, chilled out IT guy who comes to fix it for her. He finds Eleanor fascinating but Eleanor doesn’t even register Raymond.

After work one day, Eleanor and Raymond watch as a man falls on the street. They help the gentleman, Sammy and this is the start of Eleanor’s life taking a different turn.

There are many actually laugh out loud moments in this book but also sad and painful moments. There were times when I truly cringed for Eleanor. When I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me so that I didn’t have to read anymore and feel the embarrassment and shame for Eleanor, for she never felt embarrassed or ashamed.

This is a very emotional read which takes you on a rollercoaster of feelings without being overly sentimental and I can certainly understand why many others who have read this have stated that Eleanor and her story will stay with them for a long, long time.

Book Review

A Lady Out of Time (book 1) by Caroline Hanson

lady out of time.

Sent back in time to Victorian England to stop the invention of a deadly weapon, Helen Foster knows the job looks too easy: All she has to do is go to an auction, buy the weapon plans, destroy them, and she’ll save millions of people back in her own time. And even if she spends the rest of her life as a spinster stuck in the English countryside with a plethora of cats, changing the future is worth it.

If my bloody job didn’t keep getting in my way, I would have happily finished this book in one sitting.

This book begins in 2089 when we are introduced to Helen Foster. World War 2 still has not ended. And now Helen needs to travel back to victorian England to attend an auction in order to stop the blueprints for a super weapon ending up in the wrong hands.

The time travel part of this plan is the easy part. Unfortunately, the difficult part is the fact that Helen can’t take anything with her as she travels to the past. No possessions, which means no money and certainly no clothes. So the plan is for Helen to travel back in time and make contact with a Duke who she will then blackmail for money which needs to be enough for Helen to be able to afford to win the auction, clothe herself, find somewhere to live and then live out the rest of her days in comfort because you see, this is a one – way trip.

I’ve given this book 4 stars because I really enjoyed it. Enjoyed it despite the huge amount of errors. Why were so many mistakes allowed to be published? I’m talking about silly things, like us (English) having sidewalks and the such like . . . just too many Americanisms for a book that was set in England.

I will be reading part two of this book very soon.

 

Book Review

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

The ugly stepsister strikes back

Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Back in the 1980’s (when I was young) I was obsessed with boys, music and books.  I would go into town on a Saturday with my friends and usually spend far too long in WH Smiths pouring over the books and trying to decide what I was going to buy next.  I had a part – time job and would spend my money on buying a new album and a book, once a month.    I loved the Sweet Dreams series of books and I would take such a long time trying to decide which one I was going to buy next.  There were probably over 200 of these books and I just loved them.  They were completely alien to me.  They were all set in American High Schools and the girls and boys had cars and their own phones in their bedrooms.  Things that an English schoolgirl could only aspire to. 

Sweet Dreams books

The kids in these books all had such glamorous lives and I couldn’t get enough of them. 

This book really reminded me of these. 

I really enjoyed this take on the Cinderella story.   Matilda – or Mattie for short – feels like she is everything that her beautiful, friendly, clever and selfless stepsister isn’t.   Ella’s mother died a few years ago and both girls have been brought up by Mattie’s dad ever since.  They go to the same elite school and Ella is one of the more popular students and is dating Jake Kingston, the football hero of the school.    Unfortunately, Mattie has also secretly been in love with Jake since she was 9 years old.

Mattie and Jake have a couple of run in’s. The first one being in detention when Mattie refuses to cover for Jake after the teacher leaves the classroom.   Soon after this Mattie and Jake are paired together in a project.

At this point the author gets the feelings and behaviour of Mattie absolutely perfect.  The way that she reacts to him,  obsessing over every little thing that he does and says.  All the while she is trying not to literally drool and reminding herself that he is in fact dating her stepsister.

This is also where the relationship between the sisters really comes into it’s own.  Mattie has spent many years of assuming who or what Ella is without actually getting to know her and seeing the girls begin to become friends is a really nice thing to read.  This is also when Mattie begins to grow up and stop feeling as though the whole world is against her.

I also loved the references to the wonderful John Hughes films of the 1980’s.  At this point, I feel that I ought to point out that Sixteen Candles is one of my very favourite of his films and I think that Jake Ryan is perhaps one of the nicest guys in a film.

There are plenty of morals in this story and I would have adored this book when I was 14 and although this was still rather twee, I found myself unable to put this book down.

It all moved at a nice pace and kept me reading. I think I managed to finish the book in a couple of hours as I really enjoyed having an insight into the lives of Mattie and Ella.  I hope there are going to be more books as I’d love to know what happens with Ella and how Mattie’s dad gets on with his new girlfriend.

“I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.”