Tag: 3.5 stars

Blog Tour: 30 Days in June by Chris Westlake

Today I am sharing my review as a part of the blog tour for 30 Days in June by Chris Westlake.  This is a crime thriller that has a serial killer!

Book Description:

On the 1st day of June 1988, the residents of south Wales were thrown into a state of panic when a married couple were brutally murdered in their own home. The killer, nicknamed Spartacus by the media, did not flee the scene immediately; instead, he stayed to carve Roman Numerals onto his victims’ chests.

This was the beginning of a month-long killing spree, each murder taking a step closer to home.

Seventeen-year-old Jeffrey Allen was to be the final victim, on the final day of the month. Instead, he became the only survivor, and the only real witness. The killings ended as suddenly as they began. Jeffrey relocated to London, changing his name, and his identity, to Marcus Clancy. His past life became merely a dark secret.

On 1st June 2018, 30 years to the day since the first killing, a mysterious figure refers to Marcus by his old name, through closing lift doors.

Is Spartacus back? If so, has he returned to finish what he failed to do thirty years ago?

And so begins 30 days of terror for Marcus Clancy, culminating in dramatic fashion on the final day of June.

30 DAYS IN JUNE is Chris Westlake’s third novel, and his first crime thriller. He is currently writing his second crime thriller and is on schedule to have it completed in 2020.

30 Days in June
Author: Chris Westlake

Published: December 15, 2019
359 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: March 9-27, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Jessica’s Review:

Sign me up: 30 Days in June is a crime novel about a serial killer during the month of June and the story also takes place in 1988 and 2018. The novel starts on June 1st, 1988 with a married couple and their sexually graphic adventures that take an unexpected turn for them.  Throughout the month of June the serial killer Spartacus frightens the immediate area until the final victim survives and then Spartacus disappears.

Fast forward thirty years and the survivor had moved and changed his name then one day he hears his old name, which starts him on a path he did not expect to go on. Is Spartacus back or is this some kind of copycat occurring exactly 30 years later? And if Spartacus in fact is back, what does he want after all this time?    

30 Days in June was a decent read for me. The premise is intriguing and you want to know if in fact Spartacus is back. I was not really attached to Jeffrey/Marcus, so I did not really care what happened to him.  He is an imperfect person and we see this over both time periods. Parts of the novel became a bit mind-numbing for me, but keep with it as when you get to the final few chapters, the story really gets moving and we have a final standoff  with a satisfying conclusion. 

Overall, 30 Days in June has its ups and downs but is ultimately worth it in the end! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Blackwells

About the Author:

After completing a Creative Writing course in 2010, Chris Westlake’s short story, Welsh Lessons, was awarded 1st place in the Global Short Story Award (not bad for the first writing competition he had entered). He followed this up with 1st place in the Stringybark Erotic Fiction Award and 2nd place in the HASSRA Literary Award.

Chris has written three novels. 30 DAYS IN JUNE is his first crime thriller. He is currently writing his second thriller, on schedule to be completed in 2020. He is determined to write many, many more – his main regret is that he didn’t start writing earlier.

Chris considers himself to be a developing author. He is always looking to improve, to make his next novel even better than the last. He is continuously experimenting with different styles, different genres.

Contact Chris:
Email: You can contact Chris at chriswestlakeauthor@hotmail.co.uk. He would love to hear from you!
Website
Twitter: @ChrisWestlake2

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The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Narrators:
Jack Hawkins

Louise Brealey
Published: February 5, 2019
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: February 24- March 3, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband–and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive…

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations–a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

Jessica’s Review:

I had heard good things about The Silent Patient and wanted to give it a read and lucky me: my library offered it on audio! So I grabbed it!

This one has an intriguing premise and we have two narrators in this novel:  Theo Faber and also Alicia via her diary.  I honestly did not care about Theo’s life, I wanted to know what was going on with Alicia. Theo’s story did show how imperfect people can be (yes, even therapists have issues!) which admittedly did make him slightly more interesting.

Unfortunately, I cannot say much more as it would involve spoilers, but when it came time for ‘the big twist’ and a certain something that the said person did, I thought: “You sick *uck!”  OMG, this book made me curse and I am not one to curse like that!  This twist is what saved the novel for me and made it worth the read. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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A Simple Favor: Book Review and Movie Comparison

Author: Darcey Bell
Published: March 21, 2017
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: September 16-24, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Description:

She’s your best friend.
She knows all your secrets.
That’s why she’s so dangerous.

A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.

Jessica’s Review:

Unlikeable and flawed characters are in A Simple Favor, some you don’t like while some you just love to hate!  This was a good one and I listened to the audiobook. Though some parts of it were easy to figure out, I did not know how this one was ultimately going to end. There are three narrators and one is just like Amy Dunne from Gone Girl, you just want to hate her so much!  The three narrators bring us everything we need to know.

My main issue with the novel was a particular relationship that was constantly mentioned. It seemed like it was written to show the flaws of the character and also shock value from Bell. To me it was not needed and actually lessened my enjoyment of the novel. I even debated on DNF’ing (did not finish)  it due to the constant mentions of the relationship.  Another issue I had was that it comes off as a Gone Girl ‘lite’. I read Gone Girl when it first came out for a book club and absolutely loved it.  This was before the hype came out with it and now every other thriller has some form of ‘Girl’ in the title.

I know it is a movie which I watched and the movie comparison will follow. I actually pictured Anna Kendrick as Stephanie and Blake Lively as Emily as I listened to the novel. They seemed perfectly cast based off the audiobook. 


Movie Comparison:

Movie Trailer:

Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

This is a very rare case of the movie is better than the book! OMG, the movie was MUCH better!!  As with all movies, there are minor changes: Stephanie is a vlogger and not a blogger, Emily’s tattoo is different, and the police investigations are different…. But the huge difference is this: They changed the last reel of the film and really improved it from the last quarter of the book!! 

Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick were just perfect as Emily and Stephanie.  Blake captured the character of Emily to a ‘T’ and Anna Kendrick seamlessly played Stephanie’s character in all the ways she was supposed to, especially the annoyance factor of “Hi Moms” on her vlog. 

Yes, the particular relationship I mentioned in my book review is brought to life in the movie, but not the constant occurrences that the book had. We also meet other ‘moms’ in the movie that were not in the book. They brought about comic relief to the movie. 

This is a case where I say read the book first and then see the movie. They are the same story but with the diverging endings, you will have no idea what will happen in the movie.  I highly enjoyed the film.

Purchase Links:
Novel
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Film
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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