Yesterday – Felicia Yap

Author: Felicia Yap
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Genre/Themes: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Release Date: August 1st, 2017
Format: Book



Imagine a world in which classes are divided not by wealth or religion but by how much each group can remember. Monos, the majority, have only one day’s worth of memory; elite Duos have two. In this stratified society, where Monos are excluded from holding high office and demanding jobs, Claire and Mark are a rare mixed marriage. Clare is a conscientious Mono housewife, Mark a novelist-turned-politician Duo on the rise. They are a shining example of a new vision of tolerance and equality—until…

…a beautiful woman is found dead, her body dumped in England’s River Cam. The woman is Mark’s mistress, and he is the prime suspect in her murder. The detective investigating the case has secrets of his own. So did the victim. And when both the investigator’s and the suspect’s memories are constantly erased—how can anyone learn the truth?


I’ve read a LOT of mysteries and thrillers, but this one grabbed my attention immediately. It sounded a bit like Memento mixed with a domestic thriller and a murder mystery. That is firmly in my wheelhouse and I was really eager to read this. The ratings for this book on Goodreads aren’t very good, but I really enjoyed this novel.

This book alternates between the four main characters in this book, who are the couple, Claire and Mark, the detective in charge of solving the crime, and the murder victim (through her diary). I loved how strong the characterization was. We got to spend so much time with each character that we understood them completely and I liked them all, even at their worst moments. They felt like real people with real problems. They didn’t feel like caricatures or cliches.

Additionally, there were some surprises in this novel that I didn’t see coming. I’ve read so many mysteries that it’s hard to surprise or shock me, but while I did guess part of the ending, I didn’t guess all of it. It was far more unexpected than I thought it would be. However, I did wish there was more world building and I wish I’d understood the science between Monos and Duos a little more. While there were snippets of newspaper clippings/scientific articles strewn throughout the novel, it wasn’t enough to really understand why or how this had happened.

Overall, this is a solid mystery/thriller with a lot of great characters that aren’t what you think they will be. I really enjoyed this book, and will be reading Felicia Yap’s future novels.


The Dinner – Herman Koch

The DinnerThe Dinner
Author: Herman Koch
Publisher: Hogarth
Genre/Themes: Literary Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Release Date: January 2009
Format: Book




It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse – the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.


I’ve heard so much about this novel, especially after it was turned into a movie. Almost everyone I know that has read this book raves about it. I’ve read a Herman Koch novel, Dear Mr. M, previously, so I know what Koch’s writing style is about, but I wasn’t always sure what was happening while I read that book. I felt the same way during this novel.

First off, I love book premises like The Dinner. I love novels that have an underlying sense of tension and dread and Herman Koch is a master of creating books with these kinds of atmospheres. The problem is that he does it too well. A lot of the time, I just wasn’t sure what I was reading. Koch’s books don’t fit neatly into a genre, and there are always things that aren’t fully explained. Most of the time, this doesn’t bother me, but once in a while, I wish his writing was clearer. I also feel a lot of Koch’s expressions and writing is lost in translation.

He is also is masterful at creating unlikable characters. These aren’t the unlikable characters that I found in Gone Girl, they’re even worse. In fact, this book is full of total sociopaths and the things they do are astonishing. There are so many shockers in this novel even though it takes place over the course of a night, and is quite slow paced. It’s unreal how many terrible things occur out of the blue.

I thought the characterization was very strong. I understood all of the characters and their motivations, but I hated them all. I’ve never hated all the characters in a novel before, but there was nobody redeeming in this book. I was still willing to learn about the characters, but I just didn’t care what happened to them.

Overall, this is a really unsettling book. I’ve still got one more of Herman Koch’s books to read and I think I’m going to find that just as creepy as I did The Dinner and Dear Mr. M.

A Stranger in the House – Shari Lapena

A Stranger in the HouseA Stranger in the House
Author: Shari Lapena
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Genre/Themes: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Release Date: July 27th, 2017
Format: Book


Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.


I devoured Shari Lapena’s first novel, The Couple Next DoorWhile I had issues with the book, I still raced to read it and there were a lot of twists that I found shocking, which is why I was extremely intrigued to read her second novel.

Just like The Couple Next Door, this book had a premise that I was very interested in. I don’t know why, but for me, reading domestic thrillers is like eating popcorn. Once I start, I just can’t stop. Since this is a genre that has become very popular recently, it’s hard to find a book that can completely surprise me or do something that hasn’t been done before. Unfortunately, this book didn’t have any twists or unexpected events that I didn’t see coming. Every reveal was so run of the mill and expected.

The characters weren’t especially well developed either. Once again, since we switch between different characters, it’s hard to get a sense for a person and know what they’re really all about. The characterization was a little bit lazy, and a lot cliche’d. I hated every single one of the characters, but especially Tom. He was just such a weak, selfish child. I couldn’t stand how everything he thought revolved around him and how sorry he was for himself.

Once again, I wasn’t fond of the writing or the dialogue of the book. Shari Lapena is not a bad writer at all, but there’s nothing very gripping about her writing style. It’s just very mediocre and bland. Sometimes the dialogue is a little stilted. I think a lot of people enjoy it because it’s direct and succinct, but after reading psychological thrillers by Gillian Flynn and Tana French, I’m expecting more in both characterization and writing.

Shari Lapena novels are fast-paced and enjoyable to read, but they’re pretty typical in terms of plot and writing for psychological thrillers. I don’t think I’m ever going to find another Gillian Flynn or Tana French in the genre again, but I’ll still be reading Shari Lapena’s future works.

Review: You Will Know Me

You Will Know MeYou Will Know Me
Author: Megan Abbott
Publisher: Little Brown
Genre/Themes: Contemporary, Mystery
Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Format: Ebook


Katie and Eric Knox have dedicated their lives to their fifteen-year-old daughter Devon, a gymnastics prodigy and Olympic hopeful. But when a violent death rocks their close-knit gymnastics community just weeks before an all-important competition, everything the Knoxes have worked so hard for feels suddenly at risk. As rumors swirl among the other parents, revealing hidden plots and allegiances, Katie tries frantically to hold her family together while also finding herself drawn, irresistibly, to the crime itself, and the dark corners it threatens to illuminate.


Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of amazing things about Megan Abbott’s books. I’ve heard that she’s extremely talented at writing women and their relationships with each other. Due to these recommendations, I had high expectations for You Will Know Me. While I enjoyed the novel a lot, I found myself a little underwhelmed with some of it.

I’ve always had a soft spot for books about gymnastics or dance. There’s something about sports competing against other women that cause really dynamic, interesting relationships to write about. This novel was full of those strange interactions, and I have to agree that Megan Abbott has an innate talent for getting to the heart of characters and their motivations. She’s able to get into the heads of each of her characters and having them respond to situations and process emotions in a really complex, yet genuine way. While I didn’t like any of her characters as people, I understood them and saw what made them the way they were. I really thought the characterization was spectacular.

The part that left me underwhelmed was the plot. I knew the resolution to the mystery aspect pretty quickly, and I could see all the red herrings as well. I know that the point of this book isn’t really about what happened with the death, but how everyone got to that point, but it still bugged me. I wanted more from the plot, I wanted there to be more to the story. I wanted something original, and I didn’t get that with this book.

Since Megan Abbott’s writing is so beautiful and poetic, and her characterization so raw and intense, I know I’ll be reading her other works. For the most part, I really enjoyed this novel, and I recommend it to those who want a book with great characters and sharp writing.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

Review: The Trophy Child

The Trophy Child
The Trophy Child
Author: Paula Daly
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Genre/Themes: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Format: Ebook



Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.

Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.


This is one of the craziest books I’ve ever read. Paula Daly has already made a name for herself by writing these mystery/thrillers that follow a formula that I’m obsessed with. All of the characters are multi-faceted (often times unlikeable), and the plot always has a few twists.  From the premise of this novel, I thought this book was going to be a standard mystery/psychological thriller, but it was so much better than I was expecting.

Every character in this book is extremely well-written and well thought out. All of them are so deeply flawed that there really aren’t any good or bad characters. They’re all dealing with their own issues and trying to find a place in their family where their main goal is to not disappoint each other. Paula Daly writes the complexity and the problems of a blended family really well. She forces the reader to examine the typical idea of what a family is, and also the many ways a mother can love her child. Even though Karen is a typical “tiger mom”, these mothers love their children and want them to be successful and they show it in a slightly different manner. There’s so much competition between mothers that perhaps they end up showing their love inappropriately. I tried to understand this side of Karen, and a part of me could do so, but it was really hard to like her. It was hard to like any character fully because they all acted selfishly. That was the beauty of the characters though.

The plot was so fast-paced and intriguing that it was almost impossible to stop reading. I thought I knew exactly what this story was going to be about, but there were so many twists and curveballs that the plot was completely different than what I thought it would be. I really liked the whole investigation aspect and how everyone was a suspect, but I was disappointed by the ending. I really hoped for a longer resolution and for the motives to be a little clearer. This is also a British novel so there were slight differences in how they ran their police investigation. Apparently, British police officers don’t carry guns, which I find a little strange.

Overall, this was a nearly perfect mystery novel and I was so addicted to the plot and the wonderful characters. I’m so interested in all of Paula Daly’s future books. She is definitely one of my new auto-buy authors.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

Review: The Couple Next Door – Shari Lapena

The Couple Next DoorAnne and Marco Conti seem to have it all–a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.
Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.
What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family–a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

Whenever books are classified as the next Gone Girlor a new psychological thriller, I’m always hesitant to pick them up. I loved Gone Girl, and I’ve always felt like any other books that claim to be like it are just setting themselves up to fail. They’re never going to reach the same level of success. However, The Couple Next Door, is a very good novel and while it’s not up to Gone Girl standards, it’s the first psychological thriller I’ve read in a long time that actually kept me guessing and wasn’t fully predictable.

I’m a sucker for stories that have a mysterious premise. I think it’s important to go into this novel with as little information as possible about the plot. What I can reveal is that I didn’t see of all of the twists coming and I’m usually very good at predicting what’s going to happen next. I definitely didn’t see the end coming and while I thoughts parts of the novel were a little overkill, overall the plot was so captivating that I had a hard time putting the book down. While I was reading, I kept thinking that this is a plot that would make a fantastic movie.

The book switches narration between of all of the main characters, and while I like that plot device, I wasn’t fond of any of the characters. I didn’t really connect to any of them. The problem was that since the book switched perspectives so often, the reader never fully understood anybody. It was a superficial view of the characterization and I really disliked that.

Another place this book fell short was with the writing. The writing wasn’t bad, but I have a habit of comparing every psychological thriller to Gone Girl, and Gillian Flynn’s writing is almost perfect for me. Shari Lapena writes well, but her writing isn’t as sharp or as acerbic as Gillian Flynn’s writing. You never find yourself in awe of the writing, which is disappointing.

Overall, this is a really interesting, entertaining novel with a lot of unexpected twists. While I do recommend it to people who like mysteries with unreliable narrators, and psychological thrillers, the mediocre writing ensures that it will only be a one-time read. However, I would still be very interested in reading Shari Lapena’s future novels.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

Review: The Widow – Fiona Barton

The Widow When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

I received a review copy from the publisher but this has not affected my review in any way.

In any investigation, there are always so many people affected by the tragedy. This is a multi-viewpoint novel about the fall-out after a little girl is kidnapped. It’s dark, complex, and very haunting. There’s a new genre of books these days after the Gone Girl craze. These novels are from the point of view of a (usually) middle-aged woman, classified as psychological thrillers, and the reader expects a twist at the end. As a genre, I’m immediately drawn to these books because not only are they entertaining, they’re usually sharp and acerbic with some really important observations about our lives.

In this book, the woman the novel centers around is Jean Taylor. Most of the novel is told through Jean’s point of view. As characters ago, I thought Jean was a surprising protagonist. I wasn’t expecting the revelations and she was a lot meeker than I thought she would be. We also see the book from the perspective of the reporter who interviews her and the detective who is investigating the case. They were all very interesting viewpoints to read from, and I thought the use of switching between their perspectives was a really nice addition to the book.

However, even though this is a very important case, nothing very exciting happens in the plot. A lot of the time, I felt it was dull, and it seemed to be racing toward a conclusion that left me underwhelmed. The book switches from the past to the present and the two story-lines eventually merge, but at times it was really clumsily done.

While there was nothing wrong with the writing, there was nothing very impressive about it either. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but I wasn’t very impressed by it and the ending left a bitter taste in my mouth.

This book is classified as the next Gone Girl or Girl on the Train, but it didn’t live up to expectations. While it was interesting, it isn’t a must-read.