Category Archives: Mystery/Thrillers

Final Girls by Riley Sager (Review)

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First of all, we need to talk about that cover. Dark forest or trees? Tick. Girl running away? Tick. Mist, dark colours, creepy atmosphere? TICKTICKTICK. I’m a fan of all the clichés. From what I gathered on the internet, Riley Sager is a pseudonym for a previously published author called Todd Ritter (don’t sue me if this isn’t true), and it’s interesting… because:

Aaaand suddenly: 

A little push from Stephen King is all that’s needed to create a bestselling thriller novel, apparently. Oh, and I bought into it. This book is fantastically entertaining. I knew this was a hyped up book and didn’t read the blurb. It’s best to get into Final Girls without any prior knowledge or anticipation of the story.

But if you’d still like to know more about it, well, keep on reading! If you’re a fan of compulsive thrilling reads or slasher films, this is for you. Personally, I’m not a fan of slasher films but I can see myself consuming books in this horrifying genre. For one, slasher stories are less scary on paper. But hey, it’s still creepy. 

So, a little bit about Final Girls: Quincy Carpenter was the sole survivor of a massacre when she was a teenager. All her friends died that night. The media calls her and women who went through similar experiences as ‘Final Girls’, named after the trope in popular horror movies. Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead under mysterious circumstances. Is Quincy next? Final Girls was simultaneously predictable and unpredictable. I thought the ending was satisfying, and one of the best I’ve read this year in thriller novels.

The writing isn’t too bad, though a little generic at times. Coming back to clichés, this novel is full of them. Just a few examples: good girl gone bad, sex hurts for her first time, girls with frenemies. Despite all the eye-rolls and thinking “this is clearly written by a man!” (no offence to men out there) I loved the plot and will look forward to reading Riley Sager’s future novels 😄📚

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Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent (Review)

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⭐⭐⭐  (3.5 stars)

Finally, a thriller without the word “girl” in the title. I’m not averse to those books but it was refreshing to read Liz Nugent’s second novel. Lying In Wait packs a punch – it is original and structured in a way differently to your average thriller. Its opening line: “My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it” pulled me into the crazy, twisted story immediately.

Lying In Wait is set in 1980’s Dublin and follows three narrators: Lydia, wife to the husband in question, Laurence, their son, and Karen, the younger sister of the murdered woman (Annie). As I said, the novel is structured uniquely. It begins with the reader fully aware of what is the ‘ending’ in most traditional thrillers and the reason why the murder took place. The secret is kept under wraps for a while but not for long as Karen is relentless in her search for answers. I enjoyed how messed up Lydia is and how unexpectedly dark she and Laurence are. Nugent also explores class relations, the lax police and mental health systems in Ireland. Highly recommended.

Mystery/Thriller Reviews # 1: Behind Her Eyes & Before I Go to Sleep

Who doesn’t love a good twist? They work when they are done well. Like really, really well. The ending for thrillers can make it to break it for me. For instance, The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle was intriguing and a page turner for sure but the ending was underwhelming. It was clichéd and frankly, dare I say – even a little offensive. I usually don’t have high expectations for thrillers but I pick them up frequently to get out of reading slumps. Works every time.

Behind Her Eyes and Before I Go to Bed have many overlapping elements, and they are set in London with a female protagonist. I gave three stars to Behind Her Eyes and a sad two star rating to the latter. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough was unputdownable… is that even a word? Louise is a single mom. She makes out with a mystery man from the bar one night and turns out, he’s her new boss. Married boss. Oops. Any review of Behind Her Eyes you come across on the internet will mention the crazy ending and yes, the ending is indeed crazy. It’s unbelievably bonkers.

S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Bed sounded so promising. The biggest issue I had with this book was that I wasn’t compelled to pick it up, but I desperately needed to know the ending. It took me about a week to finish. Christine, the victim of a “hit and run case”, wakes up every day not remembering who she is, a twenty something trapped in a forty something body. I admit I enjoyed the bits that talked about memory and Christine’s journal, the whodunnit element. But as I said, I wasn’t compelled to read it. I’d still recommend these books though: they were properly creepy.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware (Review)

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⭐⭐⭐

Lets play a little (bookish) game of two truths and a lie:

1. I will read anything Ruth Ware writes.

2. I am running out of space on my bookshelf.

3. I don’t buy pretty covers.

If you guessed right, #3 is the lie! 😂 The Lying Game is a psychological thriller that had me on my toes the entire time. I was hooked within the first sentence. Ruth Ware’s writing is absolutely fantastic. I fell in love with the eerie, mysterious tone and setting of her debut novel ‘In a Dark, Dark Wood’ and the sense of dread and claustrophobia in her second novel ‘The Woman in Cabin 10’. I felt that the plot in Cabin 10 wasn’t the greatest but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

The Lying Game is about Isa Wilde and her three friends who share a secret, one that comes back to haunt them seventeen years later. It ticks all the right boxes for me: girls boarding school, small town, gossip, mystery and tension. I had a few problems with the main characters though: I didn’t like any of them. Isa is an emotional mess and she’s constantly putting her 6-month old daughter in danger. Thea never seemed to have grown up. Fatima’s character felt like forced diversity. Despite that, I got on board with the slow-burn plot. Ruth Ware is filling the Gillian Flynn hole in my heart.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (Review)

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What a delightfully cozy read! After having conveniently forgotten the ending of the movie adaptation (it’s been a while since I watched it), I decided to pick the novel up. It was a much needed respite after some intense books!

Now, if you know anything at all about the synopsis, you’re most likely thinking “Cozy? Respite? It’s a ghost story!” Yes. Books of a gothic nature are right up my alley. I loved how Diane Setterfield referenced classical gothic books in the novel like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Women in White, and Turn of the Screw. The characters in the story are really bookish and I, nodding along, enjoyed every bit of that.

Margaret is a bookseller and amateur biographer. One day she receives a curious letter from a famous author named Vida Winter, who is nearing her deathbed. Margaret is invited to stay with Vida Winter and write her ‘true’ biography, as the author was previously given to inventing various life stories and telling confusing origin tales to the general public. What follows is a story filled with intrigue, suspense, scandal and ghosts! So much yes.