Book review: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

A psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception—and the hottest title at the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair.

A damaged young woman gets the unique opportunity to rent a one-of-a-kind house. When she falls in love with the sexy, enigmatic architect who designed it, she has no idea she is following in the footsteps of the girl who came before: the house’s former tenant.

The eerie parallels in the two girls’ lives lay bare an enthralling story…and make this novel the must-read thriller of the season.

My thoughts:

Have you ever wished someone would write a book that combined the controlling 'romance' of Fifty Shades of Grey with the domestic thriller style of The Girl on the Train? if so you will love The Girl Before!

I'll be honest, I didn't love this book. Although the fast pace kept me interested and the premise was intriguing there were quite a few issues that put me off. The first being that both women seemed interchangeable- which I get is kind of the point but it made it hard to differentiate between each of their voices- they both seemed to have quite different personalities but were never fully explored, and the writing felt very impersonal. A side niggle is that in the chapters focusing on Emma (the girl before) no speech marks were used. I am guessing this was to help separate the two characters but surely there was a better way than forgoing punctuation...

Both women and in fact pretty much all the characters were unlikable. Usually that isn't an issue for me as some of my favourite books feature an unlikable protagonist but I felt like the actions of the two women were unrealistic. Jane was described as a smart woman and yet none of her decisions made sense and seemed stupid. Edward was made out to be a desirable character when I just felt like he was a controlling creep and the fact these woman wanted anything to do with him was beyond me! 

I was also quite uncomfortable with the subject of rape being used as a plot device in the story, and felt it was handled quite badly, as well as a hint of racism.

Overall I gave this 2 stars on Goodreads. I don't want to make this review totally negative- the pacing and story did keep me interested enough to keep reading, but ultimately this was just not the book for me.

If you liked The Girl on the Train then I have a strong feeling you will probably enjoy The Girl Before.

The Girl Before is out now in paperback

[Thanks to Quercus for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review]

Small pleasures.

Sometimes it's good to celebrate the little things, so here are some of my small pleasures over the last week or so...

1. Having six days off from work
2. Chocolate chip muffins
3. New comics
4. Planning uni work in my new diary
5. New Brooklyn 99 episodes going on Netflix
6. Finding some great mental health magazines in Tesco
7. A warm bath on a cold night
8. Cuddles with my cat pal Mr. Lola
9. Getting some nice bargains in the Simply Be sale
10. A cute thank you note from my Nan for her Birthday presents
11. Having a film & curry night with my Dad
12. Cherry and strawberry smoothies

 One of my Simply Be bargains
Mental health magazines in Tesco, and Mr. Lola getting a head rub!

My first selfie of 2018, and I desperately need a haircut!

90's Nostalgia.

1. Everyone having their favourite Spice Girl. (Mine: Sporty)
2. Coming home from school to watch The Animals of Farthing Wood (very tense viewing!) and The Queens Nose.
3. Getting Panda Pops at the school disco.
4. Getting up early in the school holidays to watch the latest episode of the X-Men animated series, and The New Adventures of Superman.

5. Wishing you was April in TMNT, despite that terrible yellow jumpsuit!
6. Buying a Fun Fax at the school book fair and collecting the add on books.
7. Going to the cinema to see Jurassic Park, Matilda, Jumanji, Men in Black...
8. Basically watching any film that featured Macaulay Culkin.

9. Reading Goosebumps books in bed and getting creeped out.
10. Getting My Little Pony, Care Bears and Polly Pocket for Christmas.
11. Spending pocket money in Woolworths on cassette (and later CD) singles.
12. Choosing from your vast video collection of which Disney Sing Along Songs to watch.

13. Never missing an episode of Keenan and Kel. (Who loves orange soda?)
14. Pick'n'mix at Woolworths for a Saturday treat (the stuff of dreams!)
15. Adidas joggers with the poppers down the leg. (And always being paranoid someone would pop them open!)
16. Watching Gladiators on a Saturday night.

17. Getting style advise and room decor inspiration from Clarissa.
18. Listening to the charts on Sunday or watching Top of the Pops on Friday evening to see who was number 1.
19. Hoping your bag of crisps had the £5 note in!
20. Wishing you were as badass as Buffy/ Scully/ Xena/ Lisa Simpson/ Wednesday Addams/Daria.

21. Spending all of school lunch break having Pog battles in the playground.
22. Choosing your breakfast cereal based on the free toy.
23. Using the Argos catalogue to write your Christmas list.
24. Going to the local shop for penny sweets and getting a bag of Bubbly, golf ball bubblegum, Drumstick lollies, chocolate mice, cola bottles and Refreshers.

If you enjoyed that little trip down memory lane why not check out Nineties Boxbusters on Etsy who sell 90's Nostalgia boxes packed with cool 90's stuff and handmade items!

What are your favourite things about the 90's?

Most anticipated reads of 2018.

Here are the 2018 released books I have on pre-order...

Black Mirror Vol.1 edited by Charlie Brooker
Edited by Charlie Brooker, the creator of the hit Netflix original series Black Mirror, this book takes the very essence of the globally acclaimed cult TV show to create new, original, darkly satirical stories that tap into our collective unease about the modern world. This is Black Mirror in book form, allowed to roam through the imaginations of some of the leading names in contemporary fiction. This collection will challenge you to see the world in a different—and more disturbing—light.

You have been warned. . . .

Missing Person by Sarah lotz
Reclusive Irish bookseller Shaun Ryan has always believed that his older brother, Teddy, died in a car accident. It's only on his mother's deathbed that he learns the truth: Teddy, who was gay, fled the Catholic, deeply conservative County Wicklow for New York decades earlier. Shaun finds no sign of him in New York or anywhere else--until he comes across the unsolved murder of a John Doe whose description matches Teddy's.

Desperate for information, Shaun tracks down Chris Guzman, a woman who runs a website dedicated to matching missing persons cases with unidentified bodies. Through Chris's site, a group of online cold case fanatics connect Teddy with the notorious "Boy in the Dress" murder, believed to be one of many committed by a serial killer targeting gay men.

But who are these cold case fanatics, and how do they know so much about a case that left the police and the FBI stumped? With investigators, amateurs, and one sadistic killer on a collision course, Missing Person is Sarah Lotz at her most thrilling and terrifying.

Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage
The parts of Mira Cillo that Ben touched are etched on his soul.

Palm. Hair. Chest. Cheek. Lips. Throat. Heart.

It was the last one that broke her. After her death, Mira sends Ben on a quest for notes she left in the seven places where they touched—notes that explain why she and her sister, Francesca, drowned themselves in the quarry. How Ben interprets those notes has everything to do with the way he was touched by a bad coach years before. But the truth behind the girls’ suicides is far more complicated, involving a dangerous infatuation, a deadly miracle, and a crushing lie.

The Room By the Lake by Emma Dibdin
When Caitlin moved from London to New York, she thought she had left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a foreign city, she is desperately lonely.

Then she meets Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. He lives off-grid, in a lakeside commune whose members practise regular exercise and frequent group therapy. Before long, Caitlin has settled into her idyllic new home. It looks like she has found the fresh start she longed for. But, as the commune tightens its grip on her freedom and her sanity, Caitlin realises too late that she might become lost forever...

The Long Drop by Denise Mina
William Watt wants answers about his family's murder. Peter Manuel has them. But Peter Manuel is a liar.William Watt is an ordinary businessman, a fool, a social climber.

Peter Manuel is a famous liar, a rapist, a criminal. He claims he can get hold of the gun used to murder Watt's family.

One December night in 1957, Watt meets Manuel in a Glasgow bar to find out what he knows.
Based on true events, The Long Drop is an extraordinarily unsettling, evocative and compelling novel from a writer at the height of her powers.

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as The Child Finder, Naomi is their last hope.

Naomi’s methodical search takes her deep into the icy, mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest, and into her own fragmented past. She understands children like Madison because once upon a time, she was a lost girl too. 

As Naomi relentlessly pursues and slowly uncovers the truth behind Madison’s disappearance, shards of a dark dream pierce the defences that have protected her, reminding her of a terrible loss she feels but cannot remember. If she finds Madison, will Naomi ultimately unlock the secrets of her own life?

Plus + Edited by Bethany Rutter
Plus-size fashion is daring, experimental and deeply personal. There's no longer any shame in not fitting the traditional ideals of beauty, as proven by Gabi Gregg, Tess Holliday, Beth Ditto and thousands of bloggers and models around the world.

The online plus-size fashion community is loud, international and confident. Millions of #ootd photos are shared everyday, showing off amazing style and beautiful people. Plus+ gathers together the very best, and celebrates all shapes, sizes and aesthetics a beautiful, sharply designed, glossy collection to inspire everyone, plus-size or otherwise.

Zodiac Starforce Vol.2 Cries of the Fire Prince by Kevin Panetta
After defeating a former Zodiac Member and her mean-girl minions, the girls thought they'd catch a break! But once a mean magical girl, always a mean magical girl and Libra's former best friend wants that power back! Determined to bring the goddess Cimmeria into our dimension, her coven opens a portal to the dark dimension Nephos, only they don't get what they bargained for. A new big-bad has come out to play and demons begin to overrun the town! Zodiac Starforce discovers they aren't the only Zodiac team in the game and together they form a tenuous alliance to find out who's behind the demon infestation.

Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin & Nina Vakueva
When Chris joins the staff at her local record store, she’s surprised to find out that her co-workers share a secret: they’re all members of a secret fight club that take on the patriarchy and fight crime!

Starry-eyed Chris has just started the dream job every outcast kid in town wants: working at Vinyl Mayhem. It's as rad as she imagined; her boss is BOSS, her co-workers spend their time arguing over music, pushing against the patriarchy, and endlessly trying to form a band. When Rosie Riot, the staff's favourite singer, mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show, Chris discovers her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl . . . Her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club! 

Books I want to read in 2018.

This is a selection of the books on my shelf that I'd like to read this year. Last year I picked around 30 books and only ended up reading about half of them so I've kept this list shorter this year. There's a mixture of different genres here and a few graphic novels too. I will be reading Force of Nature by Jane Harper pretty soon as I am taking part in the blog tour in February. Saga vol.8 is on pre order and should be arriving today. Nightfilm is one of the longer books on my shelf, but it's a thriller that sounds amazing so I really want to get to it as it's been on my shelf for way too long. My Best Friends Exorcism is the newest book from Grady Hendrix- I read Horrorstor in 2017 and loved it, it was one of my favourite books of the year so I have high hopes for this one. 

2018 goals.

I hate new years resolutions. In fact I hate new year in general. This year however, I am more than happy to put the hell hole of a year that was 2017 behind me. So a new year and a 'new start' is really appealing right now. Here are a list of things I want to work on in 2018. Oh, and happy new year!

1. Get my 5 a day in. Eat better. Because of certain things that happened earlier in 2017 I have put on a lot of weight. I want to get back to eating healthier. My hair and skin have suffered. I have no energy and a lot of my clothes don't fit. Also my smoothie maker is gathering dust! (and I'm typing this with a big box of Lindor beside me....!)
2. Try and save £50 a month. I am terrible with money, only recently starting to have some savings. I want to really try and save some money each month and buy savings bonds with them so that I can't spend them! Before I buy things I want to think about whether I actually need it, too much of my money goes on impulse purchases.
3. Don't buy so many books. Try and follow the read one, buy one rule. I mentioned this in my reading goals list. My shelves are full to bursting with books I am yet to read- I don't need to keep adding to it.
4. Work on my tbr pile(s). Again I mentioned this in my reading goals. I currently have more than five shelves of tbr books, and there are so many I am excited to read so I look forward to working through them this year.
5. Try and get a distinction this academic year. Last year I was very chuffed to get a distinction at uni and am working hard to try and get one again this year. I have had a lot of stuff go on in 2017 but I really don't want it to effect my grades.
6. Carry on trying to be more social. In 2017 I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and joined a dating site. I went on a date and have talked to some nice people so hope to push myself to do the same this year. I also want to go out more with friends this year too.
7. Keep volunteering. In 2017 I started volunteering at a local mental health charity by running my own bipolar support group. I've really enjoyed it and have met some lovely people so want to carry on doing that.
8. Carry on being in control. I have been dealing with my mental health so much better now and have on the whole had my anxiety in check. When I struggled I was pro-active and set goals to help get through it. Despite 2017 not being a great year, I have handled it well and feel more confident in myself- so that's something!

2017 reading round up & 2018 reading goals.

Reading goals for 2018...

1. Read more comics. I have a huge backlog of comics I need to read from 2017!
2. Focus on quality not quantity. I'm going to set a low goodreads reading goal for this year so that I am not preoccupied with reading as much as I can, rather than what I want to read.
3. Read some long books. This leads on to my next goal- read some of the 500 pages+ books on my shelf. Too often to go for the shorter books.
4. Read more non fiction. I barely read any in 2017, and I have a shelf full of tbr non fiction I want to read. Because I read a lot of textbooks for uni I tend to not want to read non fiction for pleasure, but I'm hoping to at least read a few!
5. Don't buy so many books! I have so many books on my tbr shelves at the moment that I really need to start reading the books I have before buying new ones. It's hard when there are some many great books coming out but I really want to make an effort to curb my book buying this year.
6. If I'm not enjoying a book DNF-it. I have wasted far too much time in 2017 forcing myself to finish books I am not enjoying- when I could be spending the time reading a book I love. I am going to be more ruthless this year.