The House on the Lake – Nuala Ellwood

45992911  2 Stars

This is my third book from Nuala Ellwood and I was looking forward to reading her new one. But unfortunately this one was not my cup of tea.

Spoilers ahead:

Let’s start with something I liked about the book. The atmosphere is creepy and gothic-like. You can tell almost immediately there is something not right about Lisa. She and her little son are on their way to a rural village in Northern England. Lisa has obvious kidnapped her baby boy. The child is behaving strangely. He is crying for his father and it seems Lisa has not a strong bond with him although she loves him very much. So you can tell that there is something strange about her story. She got the address for a safe house from a friend. But the house has been neglected for years. There is not water and electricity. At this point I kept myself asking what the heck Lisa is up to. Who would bring his child into this rotten house with mold on the walls and without a bathroom, heating and light in a freezing cold night.

Unfortunately from this point on the story drags. Lisa is not doing much other than fighting with her child and her thoughts are running in circles. There is another timeline. Here we meet a young girl, Grace, who grew up in this house with her father. He was a war veteran and obviously had PTSD. He raised her like a soldier and at first she was proud about it. But the older she got she senses that there is something wrong with her father and that maybe the world outside their house and the wood is not so dangerous after all.

For me the story was very unbelievable. It seems not very well crafted. There were a lot of ideas but the characters all fell flat and I could not connect to any of them. Lisa acts without due consideration. She wants to stay unnoticed but she behaves extremely odd when she meets with other people. That she stays in this nightmare of a house is very unbelievable. She is desperate for a reason, I got that. But seriously, staying there is a thread to the health of her son. Towards the end the story gets weird. I did not get Isobel, a women Lisa meets in the village, at all. The story gets more confusing with every page towards the end. Isobel is suddenly confessing a crime to Lisa out of the blue; Lisa’s husband arrives and takes their son away in a very weird scene and we never get to know what happened to him afterwards.

Grace’s storyline has also its share of unbelievable points. Her father is running around in the woods and the village with a gun and nobody cares about it. Nobody wonders what he is doing up there with his daughter. You must know that Grace’s timeline is around 2003, so it is not so long in the past. PTSD was already known at that time and I don’t think it is a common thing to run around armed in England.

This story ended in a mess. There were still questions unanswered. The previous books from this author were well written and had complex and believable stories. This one is just weird and not very well worked out.

 

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The Temple House Vanishing – Rachel Donohue

50147653._sx318_sy475_  2,5 Stars

This is a haunting and atmospheric book about two girls who met at a boarding school. The become friends and also entangled with their unconventional art teacher. One day one of the girls, Louisa and the teacher disappeared. 25 years later a journalist is writing an article about the case and gets in contact with the other girl, Victoria.

 

I love stories about students, boarding school etc. So the book seems perfect for me. Unfortunately I had problems to find my way into the story right from the beginning. I had difficulties to tell the two timelines apart sometimes and I mixed up Louisa and Victoria because Louisa, the girl who disappeared, is one of the narrators. But that was my own stupidity. But I really never got the connection the two girls developed. The author lingers too long on the journalist and is very timid about showing us how they both bond. For me the book jumped too much back and forth and lacked of depth. Although I liked the dark atmosphere I found the characters too pretentious and I never was captured by the mystery.

 

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Sleep – C.L. Taylor

40584479  3 Stars

This was an interesting thriller with an unusual plot but somehow it did not fulfill my expectations.

 

Anna is traumatized because of a car accident in with some of her colleagues were killed. She feels responsible and suffers nightmares and insomnia. When she begins to receive strange notes comparing sleep she gets the feeling that somebody is out there to harm her because of what she caused. When her relationship fell apart she decides to move to a small Scottish island and work in a hotel. She immediately bonds with her new boss and feels more at ease. But shortly after her arrival a group of tourists arrive. All of them have, of course, issues of their own. When a storm hits the island and forced all of them to stay inside the hotel, Anna begins to think that whoever threatens her in London has followed her onto the island and is among these tourists.

 

The book is unfortunately told in a very slow pace. I did not connect to Anna and I did not feel for her. I was annoyed by her because of her paranoia and her whininess. The story is also not running very smoothly. Especially towards the end it felt all rushed and Anna is panicking and acting very stupid but still somehow becomes Superwoman. I also was annoyed by everyone asking everybody, and especially Anna, if she was OK all the time even if they asked that half an hour ago. It was weird to read that questing on almost every page. The twist at the end was a mild surprise but it did not come with a Bang. Anna was suspicious of everybody at one point in the story so there was only one person left at the end.

 

The book was an easy read and interesting enough to keep my attention but I was not over-engaged and had some problems with the logic and continuity.

My Dark Vanessa – Kate Elizabeth Russell

44890081  3,5 Stars

 

„My Dark Vanessa“ is one of the most unusual books I have ever read. It is dark, disturbing and even horrifying.

 

Vanessa is 15 when she meets her teacher Jacob Strane. She is different than most of the other girls. She likes being alone and she does not feel the need for friends. Like every teen she is hungry for attention and her growing interest in men is quite normal for a girl her age. Strane on the other hand, is a sexual predator. He likes young girls and he is very good at spotting the girl who will be the one to fall into his trap. He showers Vanessa with compliments about how special, how fascinating her darker site is, how brilliant she is and how matured. He is a master manipulator and he makes Vanessa think, that she is in control and that she always can say no. But Vanessa is submissive and naive although she sees herself as clever and grownup. She gets obsessed with Strane and this obsession will never stop.

 

The book is not an easy read and the story is also not easy. Strane is obvious a creep and very manipulative but there is maybe a different site to him. Or maybe Vanessa just wants to believe it. The story is told from her point of view in two timelines so we only see Strane through her eyes. She is so enamored and so influenced by him that she cannot let him go. Until she was 22 there was never another man than him in her life. She craves his attention, his admiration and his love because she does not get it somewhere else and she never tries to get it somewhere else. She needs this to be a love story.

 

This was such an uncomfortable read. It was hard for me to read what became of Vanessa and how she sugarcoated Strane and what he did to her. But the book asks also the question if it possible, under any circumstances, that Vanessa at 15 was maybe matured enough that she knew what she was doing and that it would be OK to be with a 45 years old man. I found the sex scenes to be cringe worthy and I am not sure if I really got what Vanessa was seeing and looking for in Strane. Vanessa refuses to see herself as a victim and that point gave me a lot to think about. I can understand that she does not want to be labelled as a victim and marked for life. But that made it harder to swallow that she did not see that Strane made her exactly that.

 

My only problem with the book was that it was too long and it is told very slow and detailed. It drags sometimes a little bit although the writing is very good. But there is too much detail, too much every day stuff and sometimes I got confused with the two timelines. I needed almost two weeks to finish it and it felt way too long, especially because it was such an uncomfortable story.

 

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The Mothers – Sarah J. Naughton

48222452._sy475_  3 Stars

„Five Women. Five Secrets. One Missing Husband.”

 

Five women met when they were pregnant and stayed in touch. They became close friends despite the fact that they have totally different personalities. The story is told in two timelines. In the present there is Iona, a police detective, who soon gets a feeling that something is not right with the story the wife and her friends tell about the missing husband. The past timeline is told from all of the women’s POV. We learn how they met, became friends and what happened finally with the husband.

 

“The Mothers” is a decent character driven crime story. The main focus is on the women and their problems. All of them have issues in their relationships and are still trying to find their way around motherhood. In the middle the story seems to lose the plot but towards the end it came back on track and took some turns which were mildly surprising. But it is entertaining enough and has a tangled story which keeps you guessing.

 

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Good Girls Lile – J.T. Ellison

43193836  4 Stars

This is a suspense/mystery story about a young girl who worms her way into a posh boarding school for girls in Virginia.

 

Goode is a school for the daughters of the rich and famous. Here they get primed for success. Ash Carr flees from the tragic dead of her parents from England to Goode. Dean Westerhaven sees something in Ash and offers her all the help she needs. But something is off with Ash. She wants to lay low but soon she is in the center of all the attention. Soon she finds herself in the tangled web of the devious Becca and her secret society.

 

I love stories which are settled in schools or universities so this book was right up my alley. And I was drawn into the tangled story from page one. Although the book is not a page-turner it kept me interested and guessing. I loved the gothic atmosphere. Secrets, murder, unreliable narrators, secret societies, bad ass girls and a hint of sex – the book has all the necessary ingredients for a mesmerizing mystery story.

 

I recieved an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Dark Hollows – Steve Frech

41x-7psf4ul._sx324_bo1204203200_  4 Stars

This was a quick and entertaining read. I read it in one sitting while on a plane and the hours just flew by. I liked how the book concentrated on the story without too many bypasses and subplots. The author goes straight to the point from the beginning and it stays that way until the end.

 

Jacob lives with his dog Murphy in The Hollows, a small town in Vermont. He runs a coffee shop and rents out a little cottage to tourists. Things are going well for him but there is something in his past that’s gives him nightmares and makes him supercarefull about other people. Usually he is very picky to which he rents out his cottage. But out of curiosity he gives in to the request of a woman who just wants to stay for one night although she does not fulfill his criteria. But something disturbs him about her. She reminds him of his ex-girlfriend. The next day the woman is gone without a word but she leaves a disturbing note in his guestbook. Jacob is already haunted by the things that happened in his past and to his ex. But it gets worse by the minute and his quiet life goes south.

 

The book draw me in immediately and I liked how focused this story is told. This is a highly entertaining and easy read. I liked Jacob. He is a good guy but he is also flawed and you can see how quickly your morals disappear when your own life is at the stake. I also loved his relationship to his dog Murphy. Steve Frech can write in an easy and unpretentious way which I really enjoyed.

 

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review