Multiple characters provide tantalising snippets of information in this psychological thriller. Set in Chicago and Sweden, this story has the pacing and sinister elements of a Scandinavian thriller.
All the characters have psychological issues, which makes finding the antagonist difficult. I did work out most the plot before the end, but there were a couple of surprises. What stands out in this story is the unmitigated evil of the antagonist, who is the puppeteer, while all the other characters are puppets to some degree, although few are entirely blameless.
The story’s pace is slow and won’t appeal to everyone, but if you like Scandinavian thrillers this has all the essential requirements.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Born in Sweden, Jessica moved to London at the age of 18 to obtain a BSc Hons degree in Publishing and Business. She worked in publishing in the UK for a number of years before heading to Chicago where she edited a magazine for expats. Back in Sweden, she completed a Masters in Creative Writing. Since 2010, Jessica has taught journalism and media at a local university and has spent the last five years as the marketing and PR manager for a British firm. Last year, she was one of the winners in the Montegrappa Prize for First Fiction at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Jessica is married with three spirited children, and although she’s known for her positivity, her writing tends to be rather dark!
You never know what secrets people are hiding. And when you find out, it’s more sinister than you could ever have imagined.
Isabel: Beautiful. Talented. Bored.
Mathew: Mysterious. Handsome. Dangerous.
For Isabel Archer, dating is a way to pass the time in her otherwise safe and comfortable life. She casts herself as the Perfect Girl for every man she matches with, playing a different girl with a different back-story every night for months. It’s innocent – one goodnight kiss before swiftly deleting each profile – until she goes too far.
Mathew likes playing games too. Only the games he wants to play are the kind you don’t always walk away from.
As Isabel falls hard for Mathew, his lies bring them closer to their downfall. And she won’t see it coming.
Even though I disliked both protagonists in this chilling game playing thriller, I still kept turning the pages, carried on guessing what the endgame was and hated the controlling antagonist. The writing is good, and the characters are complex, the plot keeps it surprises even if they are not as earth-shattering as the blurb suggests.
Rather than a player, Isabel comes across as a victim. Abused at school and bullied, she doesn’t tell and wants to be popular, so glosses over the abuse she suffers; if she doesn’t think about it, it isn’t real. Her New York life is a flop, in a dead-end job with the abuse she has already suffered she is perfect grooming material for Mathew and his boss.
Isabel and Matthew tell the story from alternative points of view, but who is honest and who is lying? Based on control rather than love, the relationships are shallow and sinister. The ending is strange, in-keeping with the book’s ethos. Questions remain, perhaps for a sequel?
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Getting on the cheerleading squad is hard enough without a psycho on the loose…
For Harrow High freshman Dakota Densford, life should be easy. All she has to worry about is talking to cute boys and remembering her locker combination. But when cheerleading tryouts draw near, she learns the cards are stacked against her—spots on the varsity team are limited. Dakota faces her competition head-on, but when her life is threatened, that takes the competition to a whole new level.
High school is never easy, and freshman year is off to a rough start…
Between Dakota’s uniform being ripped up and masked vandals trashing another girl’s house, everyone is suspect. To complicate matters further, Dakota has a thing for Andy McGraw, but she finds him locking lips with another girl.
The harassment continues, and when Dakota finds suspicious flyers inside her best friend’s locker, she doesn’t know what to think. The principal’s unfeeling, overachiever daughter, Brittani Barlow, will do anything to secure her place on the team. But Dakota’s neighbor, on the other hand, definitely fits the profile of a sociopath.
You realise you’re dealing with something sinister, as soon as you read the first page of this story. It’s made all the more shocking, when you realise the antagonist is targeting high school kids. I recognise the importance of being part of the cheerleading team in high school, even though I am not from North America. This story focuses on excellence and the need to belong. The characters are varied and interesting and the setting has a realistic familiarity, which gives the horror moments greater impact. The insight into the antagonist’s mind set and behaviour is intriguing but gives little away. Dakota, the story’s main protagonist faces all the usual high school girl problems; a cheating boyfriend, mean girls and the need to achieve the highest accolade of becoming a varsity cheerleader. The sense of danger and menace facing Dakota and her friends’ increases as the story progresses, leading to a climatic ending that both reveals and conceals the true evil that dominates the story. With a level of suspense and confusion that rivals ‘Pretty Little Liars’, this is an enjoyable read for all ages and I look forward to the next book in the series. I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Besides my family, my greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, holding them, smelling them…well, you get the idea. I’ve always loved to read, and some of my earliest childhood memories are me, tucked away in my room, lost in a good book. I received a five dollar allowance each week, and I always — always — spent it on books. My love affair with writing started early, but it mostly involved journaling and writing silly poems. Several years ago, I didn’t have a book to read so I decided on a whim to write my own story, something I’d like to read. It turned out to be harder than I thought, but from that point on I was hooked. My first and second books were released by Sarah Book Publishing: This Is Not About Love and Grayson’s Ridge. I’m a total genre-hopper. Basically, I like to write what I like to read: a little bit of everything! I reside in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with my husband, three children, and massive collection of books. I have a degree in psychology and worked as a counselor.