This series doesn’t seem to have grabbed everyone, but I enjoyed the first part of the series (however ridiculous the scenario seemed) and this more than delivered.
Trying to come to terms with her role in Henry’s death, Greer is back at S.T.A.G.S and needing something to bolster her chances of getting into Oxford. She doesn’t question the timing of events, but we are very suspicious when the first Act of a lost Ben Jonson play is put under her door. Greer is intrigued by the idea of putting on something thought to be so dangerous that it closed the theatres.
Before we know it we are following the preparations for this play, and – of course – things are inextricably linked to Longcross and Henry’s family. We know someone has secrets, and we can’t help but wonder just how this play fits with our current story.
I loved the feeling of a story within a story, and yet we still have a sense of Greer’s story developing in ways that perfectly blend a sense of threat with excitement. It wasn’t clear just who was hiding what, and even at the end there’s a murkiness to this that suggests our understanding of the Order and the threat they pose has more layers to reveal.
I can’t wait to read the final part.
Girl A is not an easy read, but it’s a fascinating one – and on e I will recommend people get their hands on when it’s published (due January 2021).
At the age of fifteen our main character, Lex, fled her home – dubbed the ‘House of Horrors’ by the press – and then people learn the shocking truth about her home life. Now a successful lawyer, Lex has some understandable issues and things she does to protect herself from the trauma she lived through. These become more apparent when she is asked to be the executor of her mother’s will.As Lex deals with the realities of managing an estate of someone who was complicit in her suffering years of neglect and abuse, we see her fracture.
Alongside the focus on Lex in her present, we also learn of the gradual decline in her family situation which, ultimately, resulted in the deaths of some of her siblings and their enduring mental and emotional scars. It’s hard to feel sympathy for the adults in this, but there is an attempt to help us to understand the way this situation developed and to get into the head of the main perpetrators.
I was pleased that the author chose to not dwell on the abuse hinted at. Seen through Lex’s eyes it seemed to be a way of trying to come to terms with her feelings for those she’s interacting with now. While I came to admire Alex’s resolve and courage, it was clear that she was a long way from okay. Her relationship with her older brother, Ethan, was a difficult one and only felt more fragile once we learned of his role in events.
I’m grateful to NetGalley for granting me access to this in advance of publication, and while it’s not a pleasant read it is definitely highly recommended.
Scheduled for release in December 2020, I don’t have to stress how excited I was to get approval for this on NetGalley. McManus has quickly become one of those authors that seems a guaranteed winner for a story that draws you in and leaves you feeling more than satisfied with what you’ve read. Having just finished The Cousins earlier this morning, I can safely say that she’s onto what I think will be another hit.
Having raced through the previous books by McManus, I was struck by the relatively slow-paced start to this. We are in a very different world, but one in which characters are just as duplicitous and where we are waiting for the secrets to be unearthed from the moment we start reading.
Our main characters are Aubrey, Millie and Jonah – cousins who are not close, and who haven’t really seen each other in years. But when they each receive a letter asking them to go and work for their grandmother’s resort for the summer you can’t help but be curious. Even more so when we realise that the cousins have no relationship with their grandmother, and that she cut off her children years earlier (after the sudden death of their father) and has refused contact with them since.
Each of the characters has their own reasons for deciding to agree to this mysterious demand. Once they arrive at the resort, however, it is evident that their grandmother had no idea they were coming. Her best friend seems determined to keep the cousins away from her, and an old man in town – the family doctor – drops a hint that there is more to this story than anyone has been prepared to let on.
Once we get our teeth into the mystery things pick up. We have sections of the story from years earlier, giving details of the original children and their interactions, which offer little clues as to what might have happened and how it might be resolved in the present. As our main characters start to piece together the events leading to the family break-up, the pace really cranks up…until I found myself racing to finish and find out exactly what had happened.
By the time I got near the end I was already knowing this would be a read I’d heartily recommend to others. Rather unexpected, and it offers some resolution of a potential issue with the book, but it also offers a delightful hint that we might not be fully done with this world just yet.
I love it when a book surprises you with something that you just don’t see coming…
In The Search Party we have, essentially, a mystery to solve. But, as one of the detectives in the book says, there’s more than one thing going on and Simon Lelic definitely keeps us guessing on more than one occasion.
What we know at the start is that a young girl, Sadie, has gone missing. Many people in the town assume her boyfriend killed her while others think she’s run away. The police have found her bag near the local river but no sign of a body. The pressure is on. Bizarrely, Sadie’s friends decided to head out into the local woodland to search for Sadie and it would seem another of their group has been killed. It seems someone has something to hide, and Detective Fleet – who has his own history with the town – is under pressure to work out what happened.
Cutting between the stories from the teenagers involved as they’re talking to the police and the view of Detective Fleet, this is really cleverly constructed. We slowly piece together some of the mysteries surrounding the missing girl and subsequent events. We have a character in Fleet that we can’t help but empathise with, and a resolution that nobody would have desired but which shows certain characters in a very different light to the one we’ve seen them in.
Huge thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, Penguin, for brightening up my day with this read.
Fairly standard fare here, which is a shame as this had potential to be so much more.
Jill Newman is about to start her Senior year at the exclusive prep school she has a scholarship to. She is one of the group known as the Players, a hand-picked group of eight that are chosen each year to carry on the tradition. Weekly tasks and challenges to prove your group spirit…and, in exchange, a free pass to tests and advice/shortcuts for life. These are privileged kids for no reason other than someone chose them.
It would be too easy to despise Jill and the group for getting everything handed to them on a plate while those around them work. So the author takes great pains to emphasise Jill is clever, a grafter, and needing her scholarship to set her big plans in motion. She also happens to have been best friends with Shaila, a student who was killed a few years ago. Sympathy vote checked, but that isn’t really enough to overcome the easy pass she and her friends have.
The book focuses on Jill’s internal struggle with what this life offers her. She feels pressure to act a certain way but, deep down, hates everything she represents. How can she move forward if she’s held captive by her present?
The dilemma is solved by Jill’s decision to help an old classmate. Rachel is the sister of the young man who got put away for Shaila’s murder. She is convinced her brother’s innocent and so Jill decides to do the right thing and help try to uncover the truth.
There’s an attempt at a red herring straight out of Pretty Little Liars territory. Fairly early on I had my suspicions as to who might be responsible. Sadly I was proven right and after the ease with which the girls got the confession I can only hang my head at the pitiful job the police did at the time.
This will have its fans. I liked the message it tries to give about working for your successes, but there was just too much that didn’t work for me to really fall under the spell of this one.
In spite of one of the creepiest covers I’ve seen in a while, Little Creeping Things was a pleasure to read.
Our story is that of Cassidy who, when she was little, was rescued from a fire in which her best friend died. Since that time, people in her small town have seen her as something to fear…her nickname Fire Girl ensures she’s not seen as a survivor of an awful event, but the perpetrator of a callous crime. She doesn’t recall many details of this accident, but it has shaped her life in the years since.
Cassidy’s elder brother, Asher, does his best to look out for her, and her best friend Gideon sees beyond the rumours. Unfortunately, when one of the girls who has tormented her most goes missing Cassidy knows things could get difficult…particularly since she was in the woods on the night Melody disappeared, and someone had taken her notebook in which she jokingly made comments about how she could carry out Melody’s murder. She wants to do the right thing, but can she bear the personal cost involved?
Our story focuses on the aftermath of the discovery of Melody’s body and the hunt for who did it. We watch Cassidy under extreme duress, and though we have a number of twists/deceptions we do, eventually, get answers.
Huge thanks to the publishers, Sourcebooks Fire, and NetGalley for letting me read this prior to publication.
One Step Behind is one of those books that promises a lot, but doesn’t quite live up to its promises. It was fine, but it didn’t strike me as particularly memorable.
Our main character is Jenna, a doctor, who is clearly unsettled as she believes someone has been stalking her. She’s been receiving strange emails and calls, and odd gifts have been left on her doorstep. She has contacted the police, who’ve advised her to record any incidents. She catches odd glimpses of the person she believes is responsible, but nothing sufficient to enable the police to arrest him.
One day she is on duty when the man she’s seen following her is admitted into hospital after seemingly being pushed in front of a bus. He’s gravely ill, yet Jenna treats him professionally. She could have let him die, but she didn’t. However, while he’s in hospital Jenna is determined to do whatever is needed to stop this harassment. Finally, I remember thinking, something will move this on.
Unfortunately, what follows was drawn out far longer than really was necessary. It was clear that Jenna was struggling. There were obvious issues with her family and support network, and once we’d established the link between her stalker and someone she knows it was definitely far too transparent to keep us waiting for so long before things finally started to unravel.
Eventually things come to a head. We learn that there’s a lot of messed up people, and most of them don’t really seem to learn anything from this experience.
Thanks to NetGalley for letting me read this in exchange for my honest review.
I’ve loved the Imogen Grey series so far, so was keen to read this standalone by Diamond. It’s a tricky one to review, as there is a lot going on.
Our main character is someone with something to hide. She catches a news report of a girl going missing in Sidmouth, and though she lives in the Lake District she says she has to travel down to sort out things from her past that she thinks are connected to this disappearance. We know no more than that, but we definitely want answers.
Once she arrives in this picturesque town we get a real sense of something hidden, though not enough to help us piece things together with any certainty. I found it odd that people were so keen to spill details of this missing girl to someone they either didn’t know or only vaguely recollected.
While it offered us insight into the narrator, it felt weird to have the split narrative talking about her time in the town as a teenager. We learnt about her friendship with Felicity, the strange events surrounding her teacher and the mysterious Tim who was befriended by her parents though the reasons for this aren’t clear.
As the story progresses it’s apparent that the events of the past are the ones we should be concerned with. If we learn what happened, then the links to the present day will be clearer. When we eventually reach this point it did feel rather abrupt, which jarred a little. It offered some resolution but not quite as I’d hoped for.
The book itself is a read I’d recommend, and I’m grateful to the publishers for letting me read it in advance of publication, but I was hoping for something a little different.