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

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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

The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks

34189556  4 Stars

This was one of my most anticipated books from last year. I received it from NetGalley months ago but I wanted to read it closer to its publishing date and because I had so much other books to read. I’ve read so many raving reviews about it and its twists. So my expectations were high and that is not always a good thing.

 

Sometimes it is good to read reviews and know what you are expecting and sometimes you better avoid knowing too much about a book. Both apply to this book. I was glad that I read so many reviews which praised it twistiness because for the first 40% into it I was a bit disappointed. The pace was extremely slow and it felt like a mediocre psychological thriller. I must admit that I guessed the first twist. I can’t say why because that would be a spoiler. After that the story moved on faster and finally it griped me.

 

So, if I had not read all the frantic reviews, I maybe would have stopped reading. That was the good thing about knowing something about the book: that there was something going to happen. The other good thing is that I did not know much about the story itself and I will not tell anything about it neither. So I kept reading. I desperately wanted to know what the fuss was all about.

 

After finishing the book I understand why the first part was so slow. Everything was built up and we get to know the characters and what is going on, at least you think you know what’s going on.  You think you know the story already: wife, cheating husband, mistress and drama. So the twist will come like a blow into your face. It is kind of a cheap trick how the author built this first part of the book. But it worked. So if you don’t see what the author has in stock for you it is a major surprise. And there are more surprises on the way.

 

What you get here is a well-crafted and twisted domestic drama. My only problems with it were that it started very slow and a bit dragging. I could also not connect to the female main character. I just think she was stupid. All the time until the end even all she went through. But as I said, after struggling my way through half of it I suddenly found it extremely gripping and could not stop reading.

Although I guessed the major twist and being only mildly surprised about the other turns I can say I enjoyed it. It held my attention not right from the beginning but it got better. The story was not as shocking or inventive as I expected but it was a fun read. I would recommend it to anybody who loves a twisted psychological thriller.

The Last Mrs Parrish – Liv Constantine

34043643  4 Stars

This was an easy and quick read and a real page-turner. I would not call it a psychological thriller. It is more a dark and twisted domestic drama and a romance gone wrong. There are a lot of psychological manipulations going on which made the read so entertaining.

 

I think I should not say too much about the story. I jumped into the book with not much of an idea of it and I that was good. At first I thought everything was going too smoothly for Amber and her aim to get between the married couple. But soon I sensed there was something else going on.

 

Envy, greed, betrayal, abuse, psychopaths – name it, you have it here in this book. It is a dark, twisted and disturbing story. I enjoyed reading it.