3.5 star, adult

Review: Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris


Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.

You’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie. 

This one was a truly thrilling one – I had to stop so many times at the intense suspense I was feeling; definitely kudos to the author for being able to create the suspense through her writing!

Behind Closed Doors follows Grace, who seems to have the perfect life to the outside world. An insanely handsome husband, a huge house, a lot of money – what can only be described as perfect. But as we dive back between the present and the past (marked by the chapter), we quickly discover just what lies beneath the surface, behind closed doors. This novel does a great job at exploring how something that looks so perfect from the outside could be so twisted on the inside. Seriously chilling story!

Although this truly was one of the most chilling thrillers I have read in a while, the twists and the plot weren’t altogether too shocking for me. Actually the concept itself was quite unique, how the author pulled this story together – I guess it was only my experience with thrillers that allowed me to accidentally predict the plot. That being said, it’s impressive that this was so thrilling even with its predictability – I guess that speaks to just how twisted and frustrated I felt for Grace. It was definitely a well crafted story, most things explained well, and great foreshadowing and themes that made it feel like a cohesive story. The scariest part was how real it seemed, and how very possible it would be to face the same difficult choices with no right answer.

If you enjoy reading this kind of novel purely for the emotions it can make you feel and the tension it can create, this would definitely be the book for you. However, if you are the type who unconsciously (or consciously) likes to predict the plot and like things being completely unpredictable, this is not the book I would recommend. Overall I would say this book is well written, and I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with it – though I may need a breather – you’ll see what I mean if you read it.

Overall Recommendations

Behind Closed Doors is a well crafted thriller novel that follows Grace as she navigates her “perfect” life. The things she must do to maintain her perfect image…lest what happens? A truly chilling story of a husband and wife that is seemingly perfect in all respects – except for what happens behind closed doors. My main gripe is that it was a bit predictable for me getting towards the end, but at least it still left me wondering how we would get to that point. A very exciting read indeed if you are looking for a truly chilling thriller novel to read!

4.5 star, adult

Review: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The Lying Game: Ware, Ruth: 9781982143411: Books - Amazon.ca

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Yes, another Ruth Ware! She has become an author I always look out for, and so far none of her books have disappointed me. Her thrillers are always incredibly chilling and I am always finding myself flipping through the book quickly trying to finish it in one sitting!

The Lying Game follows a group of four girls, who are now grown women with jobs. The story follows our main character, Isa as she is one day called back to Salten by her old friend who she hadn’t seen in years. A dark past lies between the four girls who were once best friends at school in Salten before they left their separate ways after a tragic incident, never to return. However, one ominous text from the girl who stayed calls them all back to face the ghosts of their past.

The Lying Game is a game that was invented by these girls while they were at school, and it involves (as you may have guessed) lying to peers and authority alike, in order to score arbitrary points for best lies told. There are a main set of rules to the game, and the book outlines each step of the game as sections in the book (e.g. Part 1: Tell a Lie). I found that this was an exceptionally effective way to frame each section of the book, and really set the tone for the suspense. As we go through the rules of the game, it parallels the set up of the lies that come back to haunt all the girls. It truly was a magnificent build up of suspense that I thoroughly enjoyed. The cohesion that this set-up provided was also gripping.

So why not 5 Drink Me Potions? I think one thing that I can knock it for was the predictability of the plot. While it wasn’t particularly obvious or anything, the big reveal for me personally wasn’t particularly shocking – although that’s not necessarily present in every thriller novel anyway. However, for those of you who love to be held in suspense, carrot dangling in front of you for the big reveal, this might just fall short for you. For me, I didn’t mind, since the reveal is really just a part of the denouement, and I enjoyed how everything stepwise came to a climax and resolved itself.

I really enjoyed that this book was a thriller (of course), but also simultaneously a moral story for all fabricating lies can truly come back to bite you, harming yourself and others along the way. It is also a tale of friendship, where a simple text could bring together four friends across cities, dropping their lives for the sake of each other when needed. This is a kind of friendship that isn’t always easy to find, and it was nice to see it reflected here in this story. Last little tidbit from me is that I also really enjoyed the ending and how everything was solved and how the story ended for our imagination. I thought it was a great ending to The Lying Game. Read it for yourself and see what I mean!

Overall Recommendations

The Lying Game follows our protagonist, Isa, as she is pulled back to the scene of her past along with her 3 (ex-)best friends when they receive a text from their friend requesting they come to her aid. These four have a long history together back at school when they used to play the Lying Game, making up fanciful tales and spinning stories about the people around them. Quickly we find out how lies can truly come back to bite you, even spanning years after the lie has been told. What happened in the past to make these girls separate paths, and what was the real truth of that night? Find out in this exciting thriller by Ruth Ware!

3.5 star, adult

Review: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood: Amazon.ca: Ware, Ruth: Books

In a dark, dark wood

Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back.

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room….

Some things can’t stay secret for ever.

Yet another Ruth Ware, albeit one of her oldest ones. I just couldn’t resist, there’s something about her work that draws me in, and need I have any other reason to pick up the novel and read it? Although this may not have be my most highly rated one from her, I was certainly captured by the spookiness of the setting of this thriller – I had very real goosebumps from the beginning all the way until the end.

This story is set in an eerie forest inside an almost entirely glass house, clear from all sides, in supposedly what is a summer getaway spot. The story follows the main character Leonora, who is called to a bachelorette (or hen) party by a friend she left behind long ago to this very house. Immediately as we get to the glass house, something feels off, or at least very creepy. The house is completely surrounded by the dark woods, giving the impression of eyes looking into the house from all sides at all times. Even the bathroom hardly has any privacy. I found that this was a great setting for all the suspenseful action to take place.

For me, the plot felt fairly average, nothing too special about it – there were the usual red herrings, the feeling that any or all of the parties involved could be guilty, and it’s a classic case of the main character suffering from amnesia trying to remember desperately the details of the night before. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the way this thriller was written from its first person perspective. Ruth Ware masterfully crafts all the elements of a thriller – I was genuinely nervous from the first sentence of the book. It made me feel like I was also searching through hazy memories for the truth of that night, which for me marks the feel of a true thriller!

Overall Recommendations:

In a dark, dark wood is a story of our main character, Leonora, struggling to remember what happened on a tragic night in a creepy glass house during a failed bachelorette party. What secrets from the past surface to haunt her at this party, and why can’t she remember what happened? A truly thrilling experience from beginning to end, if you are the type of reader who enjoys the experience of reading through the novel for the way the suspense and tension pulls you along, you will definitely enjoy this book. Despite its relatively normal plot, I was completely spellbound along with Leonora in search of the truth.