I’ve read a lot of books this year. Not sure if I’ve said that in any of the previous book posts. It’s averaged one a week since the weekend before Christmas 2021, even though I binged a few on different days. And there’s more to come.
REWIND – CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD – 7/10
I’ve followed Catherine since she was a self-publishing guru and have only recently caught up with the rest of her books.
Natalie knows there’s something creepy about Andrew, the manager of her isolated holiday cottage. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she finds what she’s looking for…
Andrew is watching his only guest via a hidden camera in her room when the unthinkable happens. A shadowy figure appears on-screen, kills the woman and destroys the camera.
This is an explosive story about a murder caught on film. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…
– Catherine’s third book was stronger than her first two but I felt the ending was sadly lacking in strength. It was powering along until the criminal mastermind’s life started falling apart and then it just went downhill. It was not a strong ending that was all wrapped up the guise of an excerpt of the reporter’s tell all memoir.
– I was also confused by the chapter headings. A timer with either rewind, fast forward, play, stop, or pause as the title. I have no idea whether it meant the timeline of the story, or something completely different just to add to the title and the fact it has to do with secret videos, but I don’t know.
THE NOTHING MAN – CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD – 9/10
At the age of twelve, Eve Black was the only member of her family to survive an encounter with serial attacker the Nothing Man. Now an adult, she is obsessed with identifying the man who destroyed her life.
Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle has just started reading The Nothing Man–the true-crime memoir Eve has written about her efforts to track down her family’s killer. As he turns each page, his rage grows. Because Jim’s not just interested in reading about the Nothing Man. He is the Nothing Man.
Jim soon begins to realize how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won’t give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first …
– This is Catherine’s fourth novel. Strong from start to finish, the last chapter had me in tears even though I also cried a bit throughout.
– Crime is never easy to read about, whether true or fictional, especially when it comes to those who died. Also loved that the bad guy got it in the end even though he made her reveal her part in the story. It was a twist, but not a surprising one. Many things you saw coming, some you did not.
– I loved the way it was laid out inside with the formatting. A book within a book, so you were reading the character’s book while reading the book. LOVED IT!
56 DAYS – CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD – 8/10.
No one even knew they were together. Now one of them is dead.
56 DAYS AGO
Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin and start dating the same week COVID-19 reaches Irish shores.
35 DAYS AGO
When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees a unique opportunity for a relationship to flourish without the scrutiny of family and friends. Oliver sees a chance to hide who–and what–he really is.
Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.
Can they determine what really happened, or has lockdown created an opportunity for someone to commit the perfect crime?
– This is Catherine’s fifth book and while I found it not as twisty as The Nothing Man, I did enjoy it. And god, was there a twist and turn at the end I did not see coming. I figured out who she might have been but did not expect the twist of whose sister she was. Well done.
– I must admit I felt sorry for both of them. Oliver was trying to put his life back together. Ciara’s story made it sound as if she was hiding a deep dark secret of abuse, but wasn’t. I was hoping they’d work, but until that end, when he said what he said…there was no going back. For anyone. And he knew there was no going back for him, so he let himself go. Maybe love could have stood a chance if he’d just kept his mouth shut.
RUN TIME – Catherine Ryan Howard – 8/10
Feeling her stardom fading, struggling soap-actress Adele Rafferty is ready to give up on her dreams when she gets a last-minute offer to play the lead in upcoming horror film Final Draft. Could this be her big break? Will she have redemption for what happened the last time she was on a film set? Adele doesn’t think twice before signing the dotted line.
Adele quickly makes her way to set, deep into the isolated and wintry woods of West Cork, Ireland, miles away from civilization and cell service.
When real life on set starts to somehow mirror the sinister events portrayed in the script, Adele fears the real horror lies off the page. Isolated and unsure who in the crew she can trust, is there anywhere or any time left to run?
– This is Catherine’s sixth book and wow, where to start…
– This book is a bit of a slow burner, depicting the creepy, dark horror of driving on a strange road at night, just to get to a small cabin to notify the two holidayers that you’re filming a movie at the next house over and if they hear any sounds, like screaming, to not worry, because, you know, they’re making a movie…
– The script for the movie is interwoven with the story, and it was the script I was most interested in getting to the deep dark secret of.
– The female lead, Adele… Ugh, just no. I turned off her very quickly, and the insecurities she plagued herself with made me want to punch her in the head and tell her to grow up.
– The gaslighting, the creepy overtones of a cabin in the woods, and yes, that’s been done to death, it compelled me to read to the end to see the final frame.
– Thankfully, no one died in the book. The actual book, not the script in the book, because yeah, people died in that. But they’re fake, so no need to worry.
– The story was wrapped up, and while highly plausible, and clearly probable, it just felt underdone. As though there needed to be something else added or explained. The ending didn’t feel fully cultivated in explanation even though we got the answers. It was a little weak, a little unfinished. A little…unexplained.
– And of course, Adele had to get herself a book deal out of the story, and the real head of the movie company was making the movie of it… It was announced as a press release at the back of the book. And Catherine’s real life brother even got a line in the press release.
No More Words – Kerry Lonsdale – 7/10
Forced to choose between abortion or adoption, Olivia Carson’s younger sister, Lily, runs away from home. Sixteen and pregnant, she never returns. But she writes. Once a year, Lily mails a picture of her son, Josh, to Olivia until his thirteenth year. Then it’s Josh himself who arrives at Olivia’s house, alone, terrified, and in possession of a notarized declaration from Lily. It begins, “In the event I go missing…”
Josh has difficulty talking. He can’t read or write, but he’s a prolific artist, exhibiting skill beyond his age. His drawings are as detailed as they are horrific. Olivia soon realizes Josh’s artwork tells a story. There’s more to his arrival and to Lily’s untimely disappearance than it seems. Using the drawings as a road map, Olivia traces Josh’s path back to his mom. Each drawing sheds light on Lily’s past and reveals a darkness that forces Olivia to question everything she thought she knew about her family.
– An intriguing story that kept me reading, despite the suffocating description that smothered this book. Sometimes saying she was lying on a sofa is easier than flowery prose, but I’ll be reading the follow up to find out more about the family secrets.
Death by Tiara – Laura Levine – 3/10. I mean, ah…yuh! Why wouldn’t I read this book?
For freelance writer Jaine Austen, working behind the scenes at a teen beauty pageant has shown her that sometimes beauty is in the eye of the murderer…
Teen contestant Taylor Van Sant has a talent for singing, but she can’t write a song. So her über-pushy stage mom Heather has hired Jaine to pen lyrics the judges will love. Unfortunately, the hotel hosting Miss Teen Queen America is a dump, the cattiness is out of control, and Candace–the perfectly-coiffed, whip-cracking pageant director–is making even Jaine’s life miserable. When Candace’s assistant Amy is found bludgeoned to death with a silver tiara, there are more suspects than sequins on a pageant gown–and Heather is first on the list. Taylor begs Jaine to help clear her mom’s name, but finding the culprit is going to be trickier than walking the stage in stilettos…
– I read a few of her books years ago, and thought they were okay then, but this one was just annoying.
– The cutsey way her cat “spoke” back to her, the annoying neighbour whose deeds never turned out right, the boyfriend whose family was a pack of rich bitch snobs, and disrespectful to boot.
– The annoying way she wrote how people said things, but then said they didn’t actually. That annoyed the hell out of me. Say it or don’t. And what annoyed me most, was the clumsy klutz routine of her dates, and how she screwed everything up. And why didn’t she stand up to them?
– All of this will make me never read another of her books. The only reason I did read it was because of the title.
Nothing More To Tell – Karen M. McManus 8/10
Four years ago, Brynn left Saint Ambrose School following the shocking murder of her favorite teacher–a story that made headlines after the teacher’s body was found by three Saint Ambrose students in the woods behind their school. The case was never solved. Now that Brynn is moving home and starting her dream internship at a true-crime show, she’s determined to find out what really happened.
The kids who found Mr. Larkin are her way in, and her ex-best friend, Tripp Talbot, was one of them. Without his account of events, the other two kids might have gone down for Mr. Larkin’s murder–but instead, thanks to Tripp, they’re now at the top of the Saint Ambrose social pyramid. Tripp’s friends have never forgotten what Tripp did for them that day, and neither has he.
Just like he hasn’t forgotten that everything he told the police was a lie.
Digging into the past is bound to shake up the present, and when Brynn begins to investigate what happened in the woods that day, she uncovers secrets that might change everything–about Saint Ambrose, about Mr. Larkin, and about her ex-best friend, Tripp Talbot.
Four years ago someone got away with murder. More terrifying is that they might be closer than anyone thinks.
– In her latest stand-alone novel, we once again are placed in high school with the IT crowd who have committed crimes.
– And while the twist at the end was easy to figure out, and the bad guy does not get busted, we must remember they are all teenagers, and teenagers never seem to pay for their crimes. They have screw-ups for parents, screw-ups for friends. There’s always a teacher involved, and plenty of alcohol being consumed like it’s lolly water, even though the legal drinking age in America is 21. Or at least it was the last time I heard about it.
– This was once again a crime-riddled version of Gossip Girl. But at least we don’t get the sex like GG.
– I know it’s her genre, but it’s become repetitive after six books.
– There was a brief mention of crimes and students from previous books.
– There was the rudimentary gay/queer/whatever characters. Boring! I really don’t know why sexuality has to come into anything.
– A local diner. Yawn!
– A local school. Even yawnier!
– The cliques. Bitches be warned!
– Plenty of suspects. All dead ends!
– The good girl who solves the crimes… Has to be a girl!
– Same old same old for Ms. McManus. While I give her kudos for being a great writer and having a knack for telling great stories, the repetitiveness needs to stop. And I get the feeling she’s going woke, and in that, I am not interested.