Bring Me Back – B A Paris

35857495   2 Stars
2 years ago I read „Behind Closed Doors“ by B A Paris and enjoyed it very much. Unfortunately, her next book „The Breakdown“ did not convince me anymore. And now I have to admit that I liked „Bring Me Back“ just as little.

The story is just absolutely irrelevant and implausible. As noted by previous reviewers, the plot is taken from a soap opera. The characters remain extremely flat. The resolution I have guessed quite quickly. The whole book seems somehow unfinished and still in its raw state. First, the smooth writhin stopped me from DNF. But especially towards the end it goes downhill. I do not like it when the characters roll questions over questions in their heads. It’s teeming with question marks on some pages. In the end, there is no action but everything is explained in a letter. Anyway, towards the end, too much is explained rather than at the expense of action. The whole story is extremely bizarre and implausible. This book would also go through as a penny dreadful.

I am not sure if I will give the author another chance. I liked her first book, but two such bad follow-up books make me think.

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

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Genuine Fraud – E. Lockhart

33843362  3,5 Stars

Like many other readers, I am a fan of „We Were Liars“. I rarely read YA books. Most of the writing style is too simple and the youth problems are too far away for me. But E. Lockhart convinced me in both books and was able to captivate me. Even though „Genuin Fraud“ does not match up to her other book.

 

In the beginning it was a bit difficult for me. I am always a bit confused when a book just throws me into its story without any explaining. I was aware that the story is told backwards. This is an interesting gimmick, but as a reader you have to be prepared to see events and people emerge that we can not classify. Jule is vacationing in a hotel in Mexico. There she meets a woman in the gym. But very soon she becomes suspicious, feels persecuted and flees the hotel. You can tell immediately that Jules is different. How she assesses and behaves the whole situation is very unusual. Especially for an 18 year old girl.

 

In flashbacks, we learn how Jules came to Mexico. Before that she is still in London, New York, Martha’s Vineyard. You should not know so much about the content, although sometimes I would have wished I knew more. As I said, at the beginning I found it difficult to get into the story and to remember that I’m reading something that happened before the previous chapter. But the more you learn, the better the whole thing becomes and you get to know Jules better and how she ticks. And so it gets more interesting but also more abysmal.

 

For me not all questions were clarified. The book is relatively short and an easy and quick read. The characters are a little bit sketchy, even Jules. But it grew on me from chapter to chapter. I give 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

 

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

The Favorite Sister – Jessica Knoll

36967019  3 Stars

I must confess that I did not like this book by Jessica Knoll quite as much as „The Luckiest Girl In The World“. Actually, I’m even not sure if I liked it at all. Nevertheless, it has entertained and bound me in some way. But there are some crucial criticisms for me.

 

I’m not a big TV watcher. Reality TV is not my cup of tea. But of course I have heard about it, occasionally even zipped in for a few minutes. But I’m not a fan. Nevertheless, this book interested me for that very reason. You get a glimpse of what’s happening behind the scenes in such a show. All the characters in this book are unappealing. All are selfish, sneaky and out on their own profit. At least one of the characters in my opinion even has a serious personality disorder. At first I liked Brett, but that too changed over time.

 

My biggest problem was that the book is very American. I am German, but have been reading mainly books in English for years and now I am well-versed in that. I had no linguistic issues here, but I do not live in the US and the many references to American television culture and public figures that we do not know here in Europe were difficult to understand. There are also many expressions that I first had to think about, such as the abbreviation POC. I think it means „person of color“. But with terms of this kind that are not used where I live, my direct understanding of the story is interrupted and thus my reading flow. There are often comparisons made with people who are well known in the US, but I completely unknown to me and therefore I could not draw the comparison. Such a strong effect had so far no book of an American author on me. In a German translation, a good translator might iron things out, put it in context with German comparable stuff but in the English original the book was a real challenge for me for these reasons. I have the feeling that I have not understood a part of the book because I lack the necessary knowledge of certain American society-typical facts. I’ve never experienced that so much in a book.

 

All characters are very unusual personalities and in no way pleasant as a person. But at the same time they were very intriguing in their own way. The characters are a clear plus for me. I was a little bothered by the slightly aggressive language of the author. It’s not so much about strong expressions but rather style. Of course it suits the story somehow, but personally I found it less enjoyable to read.

 

Eventually, I did not like to read the book, even thought about stop reading it in the beginning because I found it hard to get into it. So many people at once and I struggled quite quickly with my understanding problem described above. In retrospect, however, I’m glad to have finished it. It developed a certain dirty pleasure. Probably as reality shows and trash TV do. And so it was a very consistent implementation of the story. But I think it should not be labelled as a thriller. It is a drama, but no thriller at all.

 

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

Der Kreidemann – C.J. Tudor

39931348  5 Sterne

German book – German review

„Der Kreidemann“ ist ein sehr atmosphärischer und gut geschriebener Psycho-Thriller, der mit einer originellen Story besticht.

 

Das Buch spielt auf zwei Zeitebenen. Hauptakteur ist bei beiden Eddie. In der Zeitebene 1986 ist er zwölf Jahre alt. Mit seinen Freunden Mike, Fat Gav, Hoppo und Nicky findet er in den Sommerferien eine Leiche. Die Tote ist ein Mädchen aus dem Ort, das bei einem schrecklichen Unfall entstellt wurde. Bei diesem Unfall war Eddie ebenfalls Augenzeuge.

 

In der zweiten Zeitebene, Heute, führt Eddie (oder nun Ed) ein freudloses Leben als Lehrer in seiner kleinen Heimatstadt, in der damals der Mord geschah. Er trifft immer noch Hoppo und Gav. Doch die Geschehnisse aus der Vergangenheit holen ihn ein.

 

Über die Handlung sollte man nicht allzu viel wissen, finde ich. Die Story lebt aber vor allem von der Stimmung. Die Autorin kann wunderbar mit wenigen Worten eine Szene umreißen. Die Personen werden schon nach wenigen Seiten sehr plastisch. Überhaupt hat mich die Schreibweise schon nach wenigen Seiten am meisten überzeugt. Die Story ist soweit OK und plausibel. Die persönlichen Verwicklungen der einzelnen Figuren untereinander sind nachvollziehbar beschrieben. Eddie ist auf beiden Erzählebenen eine sowohl sympathische aber auch ambivalente Figur. Kleine Dinge machen ihn ebenso unheimlich wie er eigentlich sympathisch ist. Ich wusste nicht, ob ich seinem Bericht trauen soll, obwohl er so nett rüberkommt als Figur. Die ganze Sache um die Kreidemännchen, diverse Charaktere und die Dynamik der Freundschaft ist schon recht komplex. Zugleich ist das Buch aber auch relativ entspannt und ruhig erzählt. Trotzdem empfand ich es als spannend. Oft enden die Kapitel mit einer kleinen Andeutung auf Kommendes. Aber der nächste Abschnitt spielt dann wieder in der anderen Zeitebene und man will schnell weiterlesen und so fliegen die Seiten nur so dahin.

 

Mir hat an diesem Buch vor allem der Schreibstil gefallen. In den Rückblenden kommt ein wenig Nostalgie auf. Man muss an Filme wie „Stand by Me“ oder auch „Stranger Things“ denken. 5 Kinder im frühen Teenie-Alter sehen sich einer Gefahr aus der Erwachsenenwelt gegenüber. Einer davon, Ed, muss sich diesen Ängsten als Erwachsener wieder stellen. Dabei ist er an einigen Dingen nicht ganz unschuldig und ist in diesem Sinne ein unzuverlässiger Erzähler.

 

Mir hat dieses Buch, trotz des einen oder anderen Makels, sehr gut gefallen. Es ist flüssig zu lesen, gut geschrieben, sehr menschlich und nachvollziehbar und auch spannend (auf eine leise Art). Es hebt sich auf angenehme Art von der Einheitskost im Thrillergenre ab. Mich hat „Der Kreidemann“ überzeugt.

The Retreat – Mark Edwards

36156752  5 Stars

„The Retreat“ is an atmospheric mix of thriller and ghost story.

Lucas is a bit at a loss after the death of his girlfriend and his one hit wonder as a writer. He struggels with his next book and so he decides to spend some time in a writers retreat. It is run by a young widow, Julia. Her husband drowned two years ago trying to save their daughter. The daughter disappeared, a body was never found. Julia is sure she is still alive and out there somewhere. Lucas is soon fascinated by the story of the disappearance of the girl. Something is very odd about it. There was another girl who went missing 35 years ago. The whole village in rural Wales seems to believe in a mythical figure that demands children as an offering.

Lucas is an incredibly likeable figure. His curiosity is aroused by the strange things that suddenly happen in the house. He also takes an interest in Julia’s tragic fate and soon feels attracted to her.

The book impressed me with its gloomy atmosphere and its life-like figures. It’s suspenseful and a bit scary. I like Mark Edward’s books very much. This was my third of him and certainly not my last one.

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

Anything You Do Say – Gillian McAllister

34615820  2 Stars

*****Review contains spoilers*****

 

I really had a hard time reading this book. I was extremely annoyed by Joanna from the beginning. I was about stop reading. But then I was too curious how the book would go on. It finally reconciled me to the end. But I really did not like it.

Joanna is in a bar with a friend and an unpleasant stranger tries to flirt with her. On her way home she hears fast steps behind her. She suspects that it is the man from the bar, but does not turn around. She panics a bit and tries to call her husband Reuben. Unfortunately, the cell phone connection breaks off. When she thinks on a staircase that her pursuer wants to grab her, she takes the initiative and pushes him down. He falls down heavy, lying face down in a puddle. Joanna hesitates. Should she run away and just let him lie or should she call the police.

From this initial situation, the author develops two differently running storylines. In one she runs away and covers up, that she was to blame for the accident. The man dies. In addition, it turns out that he was not the guy from the bar but a 17-year-old jogger. First, she is terrified that she will be caught. She becomes paranoid and does the stupidest things headless. Later, their feelings of guilt become overpowering.

In the other version, after a few minutes‘ hesitation, she calls the police. But those few minutes of waiting were already too much for her victim. The young man lies too long with his face in the puddle and got severe health damage. Joanna is arrested and put on trial. Oddly enough, the English judiciary treats her incredibly severely. Is that really the case in England? I think in Germany the case would be treated differently. Self-defence is not at issue here.
The big problem in this book is Joanna. She is just terrible. Alien and dreamy, she walks through her life. She trusts her husband that he’ll fix everything. She is an avoider. Unpleasant bills are hidden under her mattress. She is unreliable in her work; she walks through her life without a plan. She thinks herself stupid, she says to herself constantly. She does not have a good degree from the university. That must be the unmistakable sign that she is stupid. However, she always does stupid things. She never really thinks about anything. There are different types of intelligence. Joanna is intelligent and educated, but she is totally unable to manage her life. She is a very exhausting figure. At the beginning, the author let her babbles all the time. She imagines a life story for every person she sees. She reflects on how her lawyer applies her lipstick in the morning and why she chose that colour. I found that extremely exhausting. I simply flew over vast passages of Joanna’s thoughts.

I could go on grumbling about the book for ages. Of course in the first place about Joanna. She is a terrible person, neurotic and unable to make the simplest decision. She lies to everyone. She gets entangled in both stories in her lies. Her husband Reuben is a quiet guy, who only thaws properly with her alone. He likes how awkward Joanna is. He likes it when he’s right and Joanna is glad he makes all the decisions. I found both storylines a bit awkward and unbelievable. In the Conceal chapters, Joanna invents a dead girlfriend for her brother. This dead girlfriend then suddenly pops up in the other storyline. It really existed in the brother’s past without Joanna knowing about her. That legitimizes Joanna’s lie in hindsight. And is quite unlikely.

The developments of all figures run differently in both stories. Joanna’s decision affects everyone involved. Joanna’s girlfriend, for example ends up being a successful artist in one storyline, while in the other she gives up her bohemian life and takes on a „decent“ and “adult” job.

I found the idea for the book very appealing. However, it was a bit chaotic in the implementation. I’ve rarely seen a more exhausting character than Joanna. I have no problem with unsympathetic characters, but Joanna is annoying. I could not handle her exhausting stupidity. For the first quarter, I would have awarded only one star. Since the last half was much easier to read I give it 2 Stars. However, I will not read another book by the author in the future.

The Other Couple – Sarah J. Naughton

34673638  4 Stars

18 months ago I read „Tattletale“ and liked it very much. That’s why I was so happy when I saw that there was a new book from Sarah J. Naughton.

Again, we are spoiled as a reader with a complex story. The author writes very fluently and adds many details to her story. Some of the characters remain a bit superficial. I did not warm to Asha either. She is a very strong character and very lifelike with all her faults. I was only slightly disturbed by her paranoia and her constant thinking about sex. She is very self-absorbed. At the same time, these mistakes makes her very human. But I don’t have to like the main character to enjoy a book.

The story is interwoven and complex, but also somewhat unrealistic. Nevertheless I have read the book very quickly and enjoyed it. It stands out beneficially from many simple and straightforward written thrillers precisely because the stroy is so involved. It’s kind of different, not so mainstream. But above all, the author can write very well, so that you like to follow their slightly overdrawn story quite happy. I’m looking forward to her next book.

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