The Secret Sister by K.A. Clarke and A.J. Brittan

I’m not sure why a number of people have said this was an ‘easy read’. I found it heartbreaking and so sad at times. Poor Colleen being given up at birth and then losing her little sister Bryony. No wonder her life is so messed up. Poor Celia having lost her baby daughter. Poor Anna having given up her baby. I could go on. Poor everyone! But this was a well crafted and superbly written book. So many red herrings we started to suspect all sorts of people. I know it was written by two different authors writing in different ‘voices’ for Ella and Colleen but after a while I didn’t really notice. I was worried it might interrupt the flow but it never did. I had a couple of reservations but I can’t say more due to spoilers. Just curl up with a hot chocolate and read into the night. Fabulous.
Many thanks to The Pigeonhole for allowing me to read along with the other Pigeons and the authors.

Happy Ever After by C.C. MacDonald

I feel so mixed about this book even though towards the end I couldn’t wait to find out what happened. The problem for me is that both main protagonists are unlikable. Bit like Gone Girl. Charlie is a total prat but I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him when Naomi was upset because they couldn’t afford the 5-bedroom house by the sea she’d told all her posh London friends she was buying. You’re in your thirties with one child! Most people of your age are lucky to get on the housing ladder. She’s greedy and needy and is putting too much pressure on him. They’ve bought a stupid house that needs too much renovation. She doesn’t seem to do anything to help apart from moan about the pigeons. She can’t even spend a day with her daughter without getting in a tizz. Get real Naomi. I almost gave up half way through but then the plot got really clever and twisty and the second half of the book was brilliant. I think the annoying slow start may put people off but stick with it. It’s edge of the seat stuff at the end.
Many thanks to The Pigeonhole for allowing me to read along with the other Pigeons and the author.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

A group of thirty-somethings who were all at Oxford University together share a holiday lodge in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands to see in the New Year. Apart from the ‘friends’ the only other people are Heather and Doug who run the place, Iain the handyman who lives off-site and two strange Icelandics who shouldn’t really be there at all. Hats off to Lucy Foley for creating a group of so-called old buddies who are so unlikable that we would be quite happy if more than one of them got bumped off. One does wonder how any of them got into Oxford, especially Miranda – maybe Daddy had some influential friends. Most of us (thanks to The Pigeonhole for giving us the opportunity for reading along with the other Pigeons) guessed (or hoped) who the victim was, but a stunning twist near the end made it much harder to guess who the killer was. I absolutely loved this book. I couldn’t wait for the next stave to be delivered – I woke up at 5.30am and read the last part before I even had a cup of tea. Brilliant. And thanks to the author for taking part in our ‘comments’. We can be a hard lot to please, us Pigeons, but you excelled yourself.

Close To Home by Cara Hunter

This is the first time I’ve given five stars to a book in ages but Close To Home is worth every star. It was absolutely riveting. I read it with The Pigeonhole (many thanks to them and to my fellow Pigeons and Cara who was commenting along with us). I rarely give five stars to any detective novel but this was something else. On a couple of occasions I stayed up till midnight to get the following day’s stave – including the final part. The ending was unexpected but I can’t say more because that would give away spoilers. Poor Adam and Alex (their back story) and poor Leo is all I’m going to say. You never know who’s innocent and who’s guilty but Barry and Sharon are ghastly though I’m not sure Sharon deserves everything that’s coming to her. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

The Only Child by Mi-ae Seo

Oh boy this could have been so good. The premise of the story is an excellent one and once I managed to understand what was going on (which took a while) it became really gripping. The story that is – because the writing (and I guess it gets lost in translation) is clunky and immature. From my experience of creative writing (I studied it for my OU degree) which is all about show not tell, someone needs a bit of tuition. It’s tell tell tell and so much repetition. There are only so many times you can ask someone if they want a glass of water (no-one seems to drink anything else which I am sure is very admirable from a health point of view but not very believable) or maybe the excessive heat is supposed to add to the tension. It doesn’t. And we get that the child is pale with large eyes and puppy fat cheeks but we don’t need to be told over and over. The main character Seonkyeong is supposed to be a criminal psychologist, but her understanding of her step-daughter, who is a cross between Carrie and Damien from the Omen, is pitiable and even her time with the serial killer shows little expertise. She is, as my later Father-in-law would have said, as dim as a TOC-H lamp, whatever that is. Her husband, a doctor, is also pretty dim and unlikable with it.

But in spite of its flaws I loved it. It certainly pays homage to other books of its genre like The Silence of the Lambs. It even references it. And it would make a great film. It just needs some careful editing, preferably with a sledgehammer.

Many thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. I did enjoy it!