In Her Shadow – Mark Edwards

39890691  3 Stars

I am a huge Mark Edwards fan and I would read anything that he writes. His ability to weave paranormal and haunting elements into his books in a gripping and believable way is remarkable. I enjoyed his last book “The Retreat” very much. So I was excited to get my hands on his new book.


The story begins very strong and it holds the suspense for quite a while. But somehow the story turns into a hectic race. I enjoyed the part with the paranormal thing and watching Jessica’s ordinary live become creepy. I love it when it looks all so supernatural but there also is the chance of a logical explanation. But as soon as Jessica decides that there is more to the dead of her sister the story goes downhill. Jessica really got on my nerves with her jumping around and accusing one after the other to be a murderer. Actually, I did not mind that the book suddenly turned into a whodunit-story. It was more that it seems to me that the second part of the book was done with less preciseness. It felt that the story needed further elaboration. Everything is just happening very conveniently. I just did not buy how this all worked out.


Mark Edwards writing is solid and he drew me again into his story. But I did not love this book as much as his others. It still is a good book but it feels like it wanted too many things and failed to elaborate some parts. But I still would read more from Mark Edwards because he is still a very good writer.


Bad Apple – Zoje Stage

39683426 3 Stars

I expected this book with great anticipation because it was so incredibly hyped among the bookbloggers. However, I tried not to overstate my expectations. Because often I’ve been disappointed in such hyped books already.

Review contains minor spoilers

We get to know the Jensen family. Alex, Suzette and daughter Hannah. Unfortunately, they are not the perfect little family they look like. Mother and daughter have somehow entered a psychological warfare over Alex’s affection. Hannah, only 7 years old, refuses to speak. Simply because she does not want to communicate with words. Physically she is alright and healthy. She is highly intelligent, but varies between premature and very childish behaviour. She is capable of making clever conclusions, but on the other side, she often does not understand that her behaviour makes the exact opposite impression on the adults around her.

While Hannah is an interesting character after all, I had massive problems with the parents. Alex is a bit squishy somehow. But Suzette, I disliked her very much. Her Crohn’s disease is certainly terrible, but I found the heavy emphasis on the book tiresome. Some reviewers evidently found this topic especially notable. For me, however, it was just remarkably boring. Personally, I do not need such a detailed description, especially if it seems out of place, as here. The book is a dark domestic drama. The disease has certainly shaped the character of Suzette. But somehow it seemed more like a profound personal tragedy to push into the story. And give Hannah another starting point for harming her mother.

The problem with this book is that it is somehow not harmonious. On the one hand, it is a disturbing story about a sociopathic child who wants to do serious harm to her mother in order to keep her father to herself. Suzette would like to have Alex for herself, too. She quarrels with her motherhood on so many levels and it turns the story in a circle. Hannah is evil. But she is a child. She loves her. But actually she would like to get rid of her again. But she must not think that. This is how the same lines of thought always turn in a circle. Even after something happened, she worried about her child in a moment, only to think again a few minutes later that Hannah was trying to hurt her. Alex is just as inconsistent. This eternal back and forth of the two has annoyed me pretty much. Maybe that is what you feel as a parent but it somehow did not work in favour of the story.

The conclusion is also a little undecided. I somehow hoped for something, a twist maybe. Of course, Suzette as an adult wins this duel in the affection of Alex. But the end leaves it open, if it could perhaps go on with this very strange family.

I can not quite join he hype around this book. Yes, it is a dark and uncomfortable story. The basic idea is good. The author can also write very fluently. The pages flew just like that. For a long time, it’s all about how and with what Hannah will harm her mother. There is little story development there. Personally, the descriptions of Suzette’s disease are way too much. That was too much unnecessary information for me that did not contribute to the story. Reading this book is not a waste of time. But it is not a big loss if you skip it. It certainly did not deserve the big hype because it is too indecisive and inconsistent. But the author definitely can write well, and with all the dislike I felt for her characters, they are remarkable and memorable. I would read another book from her. Because despite all of its flaws, I think that I will remember this story for a long time.

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

Jo Spain – The Confession

34941666  3 Stars
In this book the question is not who the perpetrator is. We will learn that very soon at the beginning of the book. The question is why he did it.

A young man enters the house of a married couple and hits the man with a golf club. The wife is sitting motionless and shocked. The young man immediately goes to the police and hands himself in. However, he claims that he does not know who he killed. From this unusual initial situation, a complex story unfolds slowly. The victim, Harry, and his wife Julie have a toxic relationship. Both are not likeable characters. We only get to know Harry through the eyes of his wife. Julie is one of the three narrators. JP, the perpetrator, and Alice Moody, one of the investigating officers, are the others. The story is intricate and quite full of surprises. Unfortunately it is told very slowly and the tension is moderate. The story is full of unsympathetic characters. JP is emotionally handicapped by his difficult childhood. His sister is the only one he really cares for. About Harry, the victim, we learn so much negative that I would have liked to have hit him over him with a golf club myself. But especially Julie is a repulsive person. Weak, selfish and blinded to her husband, she is one of the most unsympathetic fictional characters I’ve ever seen.

The book is told fairly slowly and has quite a bit of length. I would have liked a little more tension. At times, the crime story takes a back seat. It’s all about Julie and her toxic relationship with her husband and JP, who gets into his personal grief. The story is unique, but for me it was a little too slow.

You Were Made For This – Michelle Sacks

38905969  4 Stars

What a depressing story. If you are intend reading this book, be prepared for a very dark story. Almost a bit dreamlike the three main characters Merry, Frank and Sam tell us the story. Their perception of things is quite different. All three have their flaws and even serious mental problems. Nobody is sympathetic. In fact, they are all three very dreadful and disturbed personalities.


Sam gets his pregnant wife Merry to move with him to a small house outside Stockholm. Sam has just lost his job, although he tells everyone that he wants to change his career. Merry has had many different jobs. Basically, she drives through life and lets her respective partner influence her wherever she is going. She is a passively aggressive character. She likes other people to make decisions for her. Sam and Merry pretend to each other that they are the perfect little family with their little son and their nature-loving life in Sweden. Then Frank, Merry’s childhood friend, comes to visit them for a few weeks. The two have a toxic relationship. They bring out the worst in each other.


I found the story very depressing. Especially from the beginning I felt so incredibly sorry for the little boy. Whether Merry suffers from depression or lack of empathy, I do not know. All three characters are disturbed in their own way. And their relationship to each other is anything but friendly. The story is really appalling, but as a reader I was spellbound and kept reading. It’s not a fun read. But as a creepy and atmospheric psycho thriller, the book actually works very well.


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

The Other Woman – Sandie Jones

36212848   2 Stars

Emily meets the man of her dreams in a bar. Her romance is very serious very quickly. Everything would be fantastic if it were not Adam’s mother. Already from the first encounter Emily feels that Pammie does not like her. With all the tricks she tries to torpedo the relationship.

The summary sounds irresistible. Who is better suited as a villain than a mother in law who maliciously tries to alienate her son from his girlfriend. Unfortunately, I have no patience for whiny and submissive women. And Emily is such a person. Very quickly red flags appear everywhere and show very clearly that with the whole family, including Adam himself, something is wrong. But Emily thinks she is very smart and tough and thinks she can handle it. Unfortunately, she is in no way. She is naive and completely fixated on marrying this great man by her side.

There was a point in the book where I seriously considered stop reading. Emily became humble and obedient to me at some point. But instead I just flew over a few pages and read on. The book is written in a simple and fluent way so that it just flows by. In addition, Emily luckily came to a point where she then had too much of the whole messed-up family. My hopes got up. Unfortunately only for a short time.

Finally, I did not foresee the twist during my speed reading. But it was also so awkward and unlikely that I would have never imagined it. There could have been another possibility for this whole crude story. The twist was pretty much unbelievable.

Emily is really no example of emancipation and female strength. She is one of those characters for whom all the other characters in the book feel just worship, but as a reader I just think how fragile and whiny she is. Once again a very weak protagonist spoiled a book for me.

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

Not that I could tell – Jessica Strawser

34964878  4 Stars

There seem to be a lot of books about neighbourhoods out there lately. This is about a group of young women who have a spontaneous girl’s night. Shortly thereafter, one of them, Kristin, disappeared with her two children. She was divorced, her husband had already moved out. Still, it looks like she’s packed and just drove away without telling anyone. Or should it just look like that?

The book takes a lot of time with its story. Although there are six women, only two are in focus: Clara and Izzy. Clara also has two small children and leads a harmonious marriage. Izzy is single and has fled to a small town due to personal problems.

This book is in its style close to „Big Little Lies“. It’s not so much a thriller, not a all a psycho thriller. It is a domestic drama. It’s about the two women and how they handle a girlfriend’s disappearance. The slow narration let me deeply immerse myself as a reader in both lives and easily empathize with them. The people seemed very real to me with all their mistakes. I was quickly drawn into the story and I could imagine that I could be friends with these women, too.

Although I enjoyed the slow and very sensitive narrative, I think that the book would have done a bit of streamlining. A little more pace could not have hurt. It was also a bit too much detailed description of an everyday life with small children for my taste. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter left me a bit helpless. But that’s complaining at a high level. Jessica Strawser wrote a very well written and constructed story and I enjoyed reading it.

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