From Mum with Love by Louise Emma Clarke

From Mum with Love by Louise Emma Clarke

 

42291279Publisher: Aria

Publishing Date: 5th February 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 338

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Mum of one, Jess has had enough of endless diaper-filled days and her husband Chris has just the solution to vent her frustrations – a blog.

Jess loves her daughter more than anything, but sometimes she just wants a little bit of freedom – some time for herself. Cue a laptop, a glass of wine and the beginning of a life-changing journey.

Overnight Jess’s inbox is full of notifications and before long she is officially a ‘mummy blogger’ but this new life comes with its own set of rules and regulations. With Queen of the Bloggers, Tiggy, blanking her in public, people recognizing her on the street and her life decisions suddenly judged by strangers Jess’s idea of ‘me time’ is slowly becoming a full-time job.

Will Jess be able to find the right life/work balance? Or will she wish she’d never turned to a world online?

From the award-winning blogger behind ‘Mum of Boys & Mabel’.

Rating: three-stars

Jess is a stay at home mum to a 14 – months – old daughter. She enjoys her maternity leave but also she realises that she needs something more than that, she needs inspiration and fulfilment. The fact that her husband is working full – time and almost never there doesn’t help. So when he encourages her to type the letters she has written to their daughter since she was born and create a blog, she gives it a thought and then a try. Quickly, she’s overwhelmed by the response and starts to gain the internet fame and followers – but also enemies.

Since I’m a mum myself, I found myself enjoying books with “Mummy” in the title, and about parenthood generally speaking, and this is why “From Mum with Love” caught my eye on NetGalley. Although, of course, you don’t have to be a mum to read this book, oh no! This book is a great, relatable and genuine read – however, I had huge problems with Jessica. She was mostly behaving like a spoiled child and I couldn’t help but wonder how come her husband bears with her. You know, blogging is not everything – or maybe it is, if you are relying on paid co – operations etc and the number of followers is what matters to you – and I’ve learnt long, long time ago that as much as I love blogging and writing about books, I do have a real life, you know, and it is much more worth to me than an odd negative comment. On one hand, Jessica was trying to stay down – to – earth, not let blogging to overwhelm her but on the other she was like a child that was refused a new toy and was presenting us with the biggest tantrum in the world, if something went wrong or differently to what she’s planned. Also, the number of followers sky – rocketing after one post, everybody ecstatic with the blog, awards, advertising happening immediately… I mean, hello? Being always unfair to her husband, taking it out on him, being angry that not everyone else in the blogging community is welcoming her with open arms, that not everybody adores her… Well, that’s life for you, right? I think that the subplot with her sister was much more interesting and I’d love for it to be more developed. But on the other hand, Jess was also a normal woman, just like you and me and had to face the same problems as other people. Her three friends, who we get to know in the story as well, were a breath of fresh air and I really loved them and their interactions.
I totally enjoyed Jess’s letters to her little daughter – they were poignant and moving, and so very honest, capturing all the highs and lows of being a new mum. Also the problems Jess had – apart those brought forth by the blog, of course, as they were simply too shallow for me – sound true to life and realistic.

My problems aside, it was a lovely, and also brutally honest story about being a new parent, and I could easily relate to Jessica and her observations. You know, such books are important, I think, because they show that you’re not the only one thinking/feeling like this – especially when you don’t have any support or just feel uneasy. There are not perfect mothers, no matter what, all of us have better and worse days and hats off to Louise Emma Clarke for telling how it really is. It is about learning what’s really important in life, about ups and downs of parenthood, about how important it is to be honest and to share but also about how to keep your identity, how to stay yourself after such a big change as becoming a baby.

 

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient by Alex Michealides

 

41601079Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 7th February 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

 

Synopsis:

Only she knows what happened.
Only I can make her speak.

**************

I love him so totally, completely, sometimes it threatens to overwhelm me.
Sometimes I think-
No. I won’t write about that.

ALICIA
Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

THEO
Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

Rating: three-stars

 

In “The Silent Patient”, “Sold in 35 territories, film rights snapped up by an Oscar winning production company, and rave blurbs from David Baldacci, Lee Child, A.J. Finn, Joanne Harris and Black Crouch, THE SILENT PATIENT promises to be the debut thriller of 2019” . (publisher) the main character Alicia Berenson is accused of murdering her husband and confined. She spends her sentence in The Grove, a mental care facility for highly dangerous people. After the murder Alicia, a promising painter, stops speaking – not a single word leaves her mouth. Theo Faber is a psychotherapist, somehow obsessed with Alicia and her case. He’s desperate to work with her, to bring her to speak again, to solve the mystery behind her husband’s murder, and so he transfers to The Grove and starts Alicia’s therapy. Will he bring her to speaking? Will the murder’s mystery be solved?

The book introduces us to a bunch of characters but I haven’t felt connection to them, to be honest. I also had a feeling that they’re not well enough developed to get to know them. It is mostly told from Theo’s point of view, occasionally alternating with Alicia’s diary entries. Alicia has been a very promising and already successful artist and her husband Gabriel a photographer. Throughout the book we get some snippets into their life together but I wouldn’t say there is enough information for us to understand why Alicia would/should have murdered him. However, she was convicted – in something that really didn’t feel like a serious trial – because she was found at the scene, with a gun in her hand, covered in blood because she had slit her wrists. Theo behaves like a detective and a miracle – worker in one, looking into her past, interfering with her family and friends, trying to piece together her life, to understand what has happened.

I also think we aren’t given a chance to have an opinion about Alicia – she doesn’t speak, the short diary entries don’t really tell us much about her and mostly all that we know about her comes from Theo and from those he discusses Alicia’s life with, so it’s basically only assumptions.

And so here we are again, with the book I’ve heard about for the first time probably a long time ago. The advertising campaign was absolutely brilliant, it’s impossible to be a book blogger and not being able to know about “The Silent Patient”, but also done in a way that made me feel there are better book bloggers and worse book bloggers, but it’s probably an issue for a separate post. As might be expected, I was desperate – simply desperate – to read this novel, especially after hearing such brilliant things about it from the fellow bloggers. Well, so many people can’t be wrong, right. I think it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that “The Silent Patient” was one of my few most anticipated books for 2019. This all, put together, simply put the book under a great deal of pressure to be honest, and me as well, because I felt as if I must love it. Well, I liked it, but it left me feeling lukewarm. It didn’t wow me. This whole book was actually depending on the final twist that happens at the very end of the story – the twist that you know is going to happen, everybody hints at it, every blurb and review, and so you’re waiting and waiting, and then, well… It happens. Yes, the whole book was really well written, the author tried to pool wool over our eyes adding some new information that made me ask myself and casting negative suspicions at other characters, there was tension and suspense, so theoretically there was everything, preparing you for this huge grande finale. Probably, if I weren’t reading so many brilliant psychological thrillers/mysteries, I’d appreciate “The Silent Patient” much more but I must be already spoiled, and I’ve simply had a feeling that well, I’ve been there, I’ve seen this, it was already done numerous times. Book, to blow me away, must have more than one twist at the end and it has to have a strong, incontestable plot.

But please, please, please do not feel put out by my thoughts! The author is really talented, he has a great way with words and his writing style is absolutely easy to follow, it’s also gripping and it kept me glued to the pages, I simply wanted to read this book. He for sure knows how to tackle the heavier issues, such as mental heath and the care of it, people’s personalities – all kinds of them – relationships, and he easily gets into his characters’ heads. I’m already looking towards his next novel.

 

Dear Rosie Hughes by Melanie Hudson

Dear Rosie Hughes by Melanie Hudson

 

42111683Publisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 1st February 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 226

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 07.02.2019)

 

Synopsis:

A long lost friendship reconnected in letters, laughs and unforgettable life lessons…

Jojo Moyes meets The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in this powerfully moving novel!

The best friendships are worth fighting for…

It’s been fifteen years since Aggie’s friendship with Rosie Hughes ended abruptly. But now she’s heard from the village rumour mill that Rosie is off to war, she knows her best friend needs her more than ever – despite what’s happened between them in the past.

As Rosie faces a desert full of danger and Aggie falls further from the path to love she’ so wants, the two friends write each other letters.

The comfort in their shared words is an anchor to the life they knew before…and the only constant in a world as increasingly unpredictable as the wind.

Rating: four-stars

 

Rosie and Aggie used to be best friends but then fell out of touch after something happened before they went to university. Fast forward 15 years and Rosie signs up to go to the Persian Gulf as a meteorologist and Aggie is a ghost author, suffering from a writer’s block. The two women start to write to each other and in a series of letters and emails we can see the strength of their friendship, as they explore their dreams, hopes and regrets.

I absolutely adored the way the book was written. The letters were sometimes able to tell us more than a conversation, the characters opened much more on the pages than face to face and it made the reading so captivating and interesting. The two main characters were totally different but it was easy to see why they used to be best friends, and also why they lost touch. Rosie’s relationship with her parents was beautiful and I loved their letters to each other, and how they tried to protect the other one. We see Rosie, after all the drama in her life, adapting to her new life in the desert, watching the results of war and the horrors of it. Aggie is the larger than life in this friendship, has brilliant sense of humour and doesn’t treat herself too seriously and is not afraid to laugh at herself. Her dating adventures were hilarious. But there was also a hidden depth to her, the other side – the vulnerable one. She was colourful and there was nothing stopping her, while Rosie wanted just to blend in – but it doesn’t mean that she wasn’t a great character, because she was. Learning about her life, of her losses, of everything that happened to her was heart – breaking. There were of course other lovely characters – Gethyn, Rosie’s parents, Aggies’s new friends at the cafe – even though they were not completely introduced to us, I still had a feeling that I know them, that they are simply good people. They all added tons of depth and humour to the story.

The letters between the characters were mostly short but they contained all the information that we needed, and the informal way of them made the book so easy to read and – actually – really chatty. You don’t always need all the details, I liked that there was room for imagination left to us. The author writes in such a way that you can identify with all the feelings and emotions the characters experience. You feel pain, fear, hope and joy – it is so perfectly captured.

So now. My problem. I loved this book, it was beautiful. Until almost the end. But at the end the author has made a decision that I’ve simply couldn’t agree with – it was a “no” from me. If I were a “normal” reader, and not a reviewer, who also appreciates thousands of other details that made me fell in love with this book, I probably wouldn’t give the book the 4 stars – it would be much, much less, simply because I can’t agree with the decision. I know it wasn’t my decision but still, it crushed me. It left me in pieces. For me, it wasn’t necessary. I appreciate it but don’t understand it. Now I’m going to shut up. But let me repeat that it was a beautiful, poignant, moving story about love, friendship and family, about new beginnings and second chances. About the value of friendship, about making the most of every day. It was charming and emotional, full of different kinds of feelings and emotions and I adored it. Highly recommended!

 

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

 

42900679Publisher: Sceptre

Publishing Date: 24th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 272

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 17.10.2019)

 

Synopsis:

A tale of a single night. The story of a lifetime.

If you had to pick five people to sum up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said and done?

This is the story of Maurice Hannigan, who, over the course of a Saturday night in June, orders five different drinks at the Rainford House Hotel. With each he toasts a person vital to him: his doomed older brother, his troubled sister-in-law, his daughter of fifteen minutes, his son far off in America, and his late, lamented wife. And through these people, the ones who left him behind, he tells the story of his own life, with all its regrets and feuds, loves and triumphs.

Beautifully written, powerfully felt, When All Is Said promises to be the next great Irish novel.

Rating: five-stars

 

“When All Is Said” introduces us to Maurice Hannigan, an 84 year old farmer, paying a final visit to Rainsford House Hotel. It is a place he’s got a lot of memories attached to, mostly unpleasant ones. As he sits at the bar, he toasts five special people in his life. People, who were his inspiration, who were significant to him, who actually shaped him, made him who he is. He tells things as they were, the good and the bad moments, all the mistakes he’s made and that he can’t forget.

Guys, this book simply feels so special – it’s a real gem, this one, and it’s really hard to believe it’s a debut novel by Anne Griffin. The author can so brilliantly well capture all the emotions and beautifully writes about feelings, and it had me captivated and glued to the pages from the very beginning till the end. It was touching, it was poignant, it was funny, and written in this special way that only Irish authors can.

I’ve had a gut feeling how it’s going to end and what Maurice’s plan is right from the start to be honest but still it hit me really hard. I really liked his character, and as the story is told from his point of view at the end he just felt like an old friend of mine. I loved the moments he has chosen to reminisce about, to re – visit again, and the group of people he talked about. They were all significant and special to him, and there was so much love in his words, it was really overwhelming and poignant. Maurice isn’t shy of telling things how they were and he also realises that he has made mistakes – but those were the things that shaped him as a man, as a person.

The writing style is exceptional. It’s flowing, it’s engaging, it’s Irish, warm, uplifting and heart – breaking at once. The author has a special way with words. It was so easy to see the connection Maurice had with all his significant people, his brother Tony, his daughter Molly, his sister – in – law Noreen, his son Kevin and finally, last but not least, his beloved wife Sadie. The bond between him and his brother Tony was a special one, Tony was always there for him, he supported his younger brother and was always there to protect him. He understood that Maurice’s strength lies perhaps not in reading but somewhere else. It’s no wonder that Maurice wanted to be Tony when he grows up… Sadie is the last person he toasts but it’s clear that he fell for her head over hills and it was her death two years before that simply broken him. Sadie was the only woman in his life, he loved her unconditionally and now it breaks his heart to see that there were times that he disappointed her, that he wasn’t there for her. Her sister Noreen, without knowing it, unintentionally and because of her love to “sparkle”, also had an impact on Maurice’s life. Then there is Molly, the daughter that has never been and Kevin, longed – for son who now lives in the States, is a journalist and provides his father with rare whiskies.
Maurice realises that he should have been a much more expressive man, that he missed his chance to tell the people he loved that he loves them.

It was a gorgeous, moving book where everything felt so normal, natural and down – to – earth, and also incredibly honest and genuine. It simply feels human and all the joy and dramas are relatable. It explores the important things in life, such as love, family and friendship, but also forgiveness, heartbreak and hope. It’s emotional, but you also find yourself smiling, often through tears and really, it’s so hard to do this book justice – it’s special, it’s unique, it’s a real gem written from the heart. Highly recommended!

 

Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell

Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell

 

38203743Publisher: Headline

Publishing Date: 24th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

(out on 13.06.2019)

 

Synopsis:

The deliciously uplifting new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of MEET ME AT BEACHCOMBER BAY. Not to be missed by readers of Lucy Diamond and Katie Fforde.

When Mimi first visits her dad’s new home in the Cotswolds, she quickly falls in love with Goosebrook and its inhabitants. (Well, maybe not rude Henrietta, who lets Mimi walk miles in the rain rather than give her a lift.) There’s Paddy, with his flashing eyes and seductive charm. Friendly and funny Lois makes her laugh. And seriously gorgeous Cal is welcoming and charismatic. Mimi would be more than happy to return to Goosebrook if it means bumping into him again…

Time passes and Mimi comes and goes, and concentrates on her career. Yet as their lives continue to intersect over the years and emotions (or relationships) become tangled, it’s Cal who makes her feel most welcome whenever she does return to Goosebrook. But if he’s The One, will it ever be the right time for them both?

Rating: four-stars

 

In “Maybe This Time” we are introduced to Mimi, who’s just leaving London for a few days to visit her Dad in Goosebrook in the Cotswolds. Already the first visit there is very adventurous and includes rescuing a sheep and being totally drenched. But people in Goosebrook – with one exception – are really, really friendly and so Mimi soon finds herself on the way again. However, she doesn’t know that totally different circumstances are awaiting her this time… Fast forward some time and Mimi, after being betrayed by her best friend and her boyfriend, moves in her Dad and Marcus’s house, hoping to start a new chapter in her life. Perhaps with an extremely handsome neighbour at her side?

I loved the characters in this book. Jill Mansell has talent to create relatable, warm and full of life characters that she so easily brings to life and the dynamics between them is captured in such a realistic, true to life way. There are plenty of characters in this novel but they’re all so distinctive and different, and I never had a problem to know who is who and why, and I enjoyed all of them and their own stories. Mimi is so full of life, even though this life likes to challenge her, but she never gives up and I wanted to give her a standing ovation more than once. Even her crush on Cal was so charming – I know some may say, woman, get a grip, you’re old enough, but it involved so many embarrassing moments and jumping to conclusions and I simply loved it. The short period of time when she was working in Puerto Pollensa in Mallorca was hilariously entertaining and I truly enjoyed this bossy side of her. Heck, she was a real renaissance woman, our Mimi, she could do anything she was asked for, and she always did it with a passion. There are of course many other brilliant characters, the already mentioned Cal and his daughter Cora, Mimi’s Dad and Marcus and her new friends Lois, Paddy and Felix, and oh, of course, we can’t forget Henrietta – you can’t help but fell for them all, and you quickly become invested in their lives.

This book has it all what I know I can expect from Jill Mansell: it was light – hearted but with a depth, it was funny but also poignant, it was fast – paced and with brilliantly developed and fleshed out characters. I know that it’s also a bit predictable, but firstly I haven’t read it for its unpredictability, and secondly it was this kind of novel when predictable is good and comfortable. Although guys the author didn’t make it so obvious for the character and the majority of the book I spent wondering, rolling my eyes at “not again!”, wanting to bang my head on the wall – all of this I mean in a positive way! Because it was so obvious that those two should be together but the timing was never right, either there was another relationship, or they weren’t in the same place, mostly in different country. It was simply brilliant!

This is a fast – paced story, sometimes too fast I would say, especially at the beginning when so many things happens, but I was immediately at the heart of this book, drawn in. It took me on a brilliant, entertaining and also thought – provoking ride, with all the ups and down and highs and lows, through some gorgeous settings. Goosebrooks has all what a perfect place needs – it’s idyllic, there is of course this brilliant local pub and people who make this place so exceptional. As usual, the book dealt with a great range of topics and issues but there was not a single moment that it was too much or that I felt confused. It won’t be a surprise to you then when I tell you that Jill Mansell is my auto – buy author, will it. Her books are really worth dropping anything you do and spending some relaxing me – time. I always finished reading her books with a grin on my face, and it was the same with “Maybe This Time”. It was entertaining, funny and sometimes sad and I found myself engrossed in the story. Highly recommended!

 

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey / Blog Tour

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

 

40099420Publisher: Viking

Publishing Date: 10th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

In the award-winning Elizabeth is Missing debut novelist Emma Healey explored grandmother Maud’s attempt to solve a 70-year-old mystery as she succumbed to dementia.

Now, in her dazzling follow-up Whistle in the Dark, we meet Jen, mother to 15-year-old Lana – who has just been found after going missing for four desperate days. Lana can’t talk about the missing days. As her daughter’s life falls apart, Jen turns detective to discover what happened . . .

How do you rescue someone who has already been found?

Jen’s fifteen-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonizing days. When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and the police think the case is closed. The once-happy, loving family returns to London, where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: refusing to go to school, and sleeping with the light on.
With her daughter increasingly becoming a stranger, Jen is sure the answer lies in those four missing days. But will Lana ever reveal what happened?

my-review

Jen Maddox is on holiday with her fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, when Lana goes missing. Four days later she’s found. It seems that nothing really bad has happened – she’s exhausted but there are no signs of violence. However, Lana insists she has no memory of whatever has happened and refuses to talk about it any more. Lana, together with her mother Jen, returns home to London. Jen tries to resume the normal family life but it turns out that it’s easier said than done – she simply needs to understand what has happened, why Lana went missing, what is happening with her younger daughter. She and her husband Hugh are loving parents of Lana and her older sister, they are a normal family, so why does she feel that she let her daughter down as a mother?

What I loved in this book so much was the relationship between Jen and Hugh. And also their characters, even with Jen’s paranoia and her desire to please Lana in every aspect of their lives – but I think this is the way mothers work, no matter what’s happening. Hugh being the laid – back one was perfectly complementing Jen’s parenting ways. They were so great around each other, there was the lovely easiness between them and it was crystal clear that they are the perfect couple.

I was incredibly grateful for the character of Meg, Jen and Hugh’s eldest daughter. She’s pregnant with her first child and she lives on her own but her occasional visits to her family home were the best moments probably. She was down – to – earth and she’s seen things how they were, and I think I simply needed it in the paranoid world of Jen’s and Lana’s depression and moods. Meg seemed to be the only one who was able to see through Lana, to deliver some home truths, to tell her sister some sharper words, and I think Lana deserved it, because, to be absolutely honest, I was not so convinced about her and this whole depression. I don’t know. I couldn’t put my finger on Lana. But we must appreciate the fact that Lana, mostly seen through her mum’s eyes, WAS an interesting, complex and complicated character, clever and with a sense of humour.
Under the mystery of Lana’s disappearance, I think that the main issue of this book was, in fact, Jen’s insecurity to fail as a mother. She was desperate to do everything as best as she could, to be accepted by her younger daughter, and respected as well, and as much as it made me feel angry towards Lana, with the way she has treated her mother, the way she behaved, I could understand Jen’s needs.

This novel was a real slow – burner, so be prepared. There is not much happening action – wise, but as it is a very character – driven book you’re going to receive brilliant, fleshed – out, relatable characters. Also the way Emma Healey writes about parenting, about all the emotional upheavals, challenges and emotions is very realistic and it rings the bell, as so many of her observations and insights are genuine and true. It was not the easiest read, it was too slow and too often it felt repetitive, recycling the same idea over and over again to be honest, but one that will for sure make you think. I also wasn’t sure how to feel about the end but, in retrospection, I think it was probably the only realistic, possible one. It’s not a twist that is going to change your life and make you go all wow, but it is suitable and I liked that Jen has got her closure – she really deserved it! So altogether, “Whistle in the Dark” is a brilliantly observed, humorous and poignant book about parenting, a brilliant mix of fear, family life and dynamics, insecurity. It’s Intriguing and clever, a real read with difference.

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The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

 

cover145117-mediumPublisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 24th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 394

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 19.09.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

Rating: three-stars

 

“The Hunting Party” – and what a phenomenal title this is! – introduces us to a group of thirty – something close friends from Oxford University, who, after their degrees, stayed in touch and made it a tradition to spend time together. This time they gather over the New Year period at a secluded lodge in Scottish Highlands. On New Year’s Day though, the manager of the estate and the gamekeeper discover that one of the guests is missing and is then found dead. It quickly becomes clear that it was not an accident, that a murder has been committed. The place is closed off the world because of the snowstorms, the police can’t arrive and there is a killer among the guests – what’s going to happen now? Are they save?

I’ve been keeping seeing “The Hunting Party” everywhere, guys, everywhere, and well, yes, this whole hype made me desperate to read this book. Add to this the brilliant, chilling premise and I thought, yes, it’s going to be THIS read. Yes, I’m rather careful with books being advertised in such a way because I am always scared that they’re not going to live up to my expectations, as I think that you can expect something really amazing from them but as lately I’ve been rather lucky and so I started to read this book without any trepidation.
And I kept reading, kept reading and reading, finished the book and thought, and? Is this it? Where is the wow? Sadly, it didn’t take me by surprise. Sadly, I didn’t love it as much as I thought I’m going to. There were all the signals it could be a brilliant read. The setting for example, could you imagine a better setting for a psychological thriller than this remote and desolate exclusive hunting lodge, snowed in, next to a loch somewhere deep in Scottish Highlands? Brilliant, no? Also the way it was written, starting with the information that one of the guest has been found murdered, and then going back and forth over the few days revealing all the facts, interactions and dynamics between the characters should make it tense and on the edge, don’t you think? But then came the characters, and as this story was very character – driven they were the make or break of the book. For me, unfortunately, the break. In the end I simply couldn’t care less who’s been murdered and why because all of them somehow deserved this fate and they simply wasn’t worth saving. We have Emma, a relative newbie to the group and hence desperate to prove that she deserves to be their friend, to fit in, Mark’s girlfriend, and who has organized the trip this time. Mark turns out to be a little on the aggressive side – not that he’s aggressive towards Emma but there is this dark side to him. Miranda is the most beautiful, the most attention seeking, the most popular among the group, though she’s also probably the most spoiled and unpleasant but together with Julian, the good looking and successful one they seem to make the perfect power couple. Samira and Giles are married and arrive with their 6 – months – old daughter Priya, though you can’t tell more about them, to be honest, except that they seem to not coping too well with being newly parents. Nick has been in a long – term relationship with Bo, who has a history of being a drug – addict. And the only single among them, the power London lawyer Katie, who’s hiding a secret and has been Miranda’s best friend since schooldays, but recently they don’t see each other too often. There is also the addiction of the other guest at the lodge, two Icelanders, and of course we have Heather, the manager, with her own dramas and traumas, and Doug, the gamekeeper, an ex – marine, suffering from PTSD. Interesting group, no? Well, not so. And between the partying, hunting, drinking and drugs it quickly becomes clear that perhaps they aren’t as close – knit as we were supposed to think, and more and more secrets and lies come to light. Until the day when one of the guest is found dead. Murdered.

I am very, very sad that this story didn’t deliver for me. The pace of the book was slowed down by the very detailed descriptions of the lodge, the place, the food and clothes which – of course very vivid and almost poetically written – didn’t add much to the main plot. Also, maybe because of the writing style, I found it a little disengaging and cold. Whilst I absolutely loved the setting and the brilliantly captured, chilling atmosphere it was still too little to save the book for me, to make me emotionally involved. This dual timeline was also brilliantly written by the author, she didn’t give too much and yet tried to whet my appetite to find out what has happened, and it would work if it weren’t for this group of those petty characters. However, “The Hunting Party” was brilliantly observant. The author explores the dynamics of friendship, digs deep into them, revealing what’s really hidden under the surface – all the murky, dark secrets and lies. Lucy Folley has an incredible talent to capture all the details and nuances and the chilling atmosphere full of uncertainty and insecurity. So if you’re into reading about dysfunctional group of characters, into some mystery and psychological games this is a book for you.