Today Kim and I bring you a double review of The Perfect Son by Lauren North. One of us enjoyed it, the other not so much. This is what is great about reviews, we all have different experiences and opinions and even though we read the same book, we can have varying opinions of it.
The Perfect Son
Author: Lauren North
To Be Published: August 13, 2019
A disturbing and shocking debut novel of psychological suspense about a recently widowed mother, her young son, and the lengths she’ll go to in order to keep him safe.
When Tess Clarke wakes up in the hospital the day after her son Jamie’s eighth birthday, she’s sure of these things: She’s been stabbed, her son is missing, her brother-in-law and her grief counselor are involved. But no one is listening to her.
After her husband, Mark, died suddenly in a terrible accident a few months earlier, the only thing keeping Tess together is Jamie. As they struggle to make sense of their new life without Mark, they find joy in brief moments of normalcy like walking to school and watching television together. Life is hard without Mark, but Tess has Jamie, and that’s what matters.
But there in the hospital, confused and surrounded by people who won’t listen, Tess’s world falls apart. To save her son, she must piece together what happened between Mark’s death and Jamie’s birthday, but the truth might just be too much for her to bear.
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway and the cover really intrigued me, so I read it. What surprised me most was how easy to read it was. I finished it in less than 48 hours and I read huge chunks at once. Before I knew it, I was almost finished and I felt like I couldn’t put it down. The emotions were also very overwhelming. I know that many people will react to Tess they way they did with Rachel in The Girl on the Train; that she’s too weak and she’s a set back to women’s independence, and so on. For the record, I also really enjoyed The Girl on the Train.
Tess’s reaction to losing her husband sounds pretty reasonable to me. In fact, I experienced some pretty crazy anxiety while reading the first half of this book. All I could think about was how horrible my life would be if I lost Ivan. I will admit that I didn’t guess the ending of this book. I should have and I feel a little dumb that I didn’t, but in my defense, I had a million theories scrolling in my head through the whole book. I’d get one little detail and then I’d run with it and expand it into the most unlikely scenarios that weren’t even close to reality. Overall, I was happy with the ending.
Obviously, I can’t get into any details, but considering how predictable it actually was, I did enjoy it and was satisfied. I would recommend it to those who enjoy psychological thrillers, just be prepared for that predictability. Thankfully, there were other good things I got from the story other than just solving the mystery. A very good book!
Jessica’s Rating: 2 stars
With an intriguing premise and a “pull you in from the first few lines” introduction, The Perfect Son had promise, but sadly it fell victim to “I read too many thrillers” as I had the big twist figured out from the first few chapters. It was also very slow moving and I was not attached to Tess. I felt for her with the grief she is experiencing, but is she just grieving, is she crazy, or is someone ‘after’ her and her son Jamie?
Tess is yet another unreliable narrator, and by now you know those are mainly a miss for me. Occasionally, the unreliable narrator works for me (see my review for The Woman in Cabin 10 here), but for the most part they miss the mark.
Even the ending had no conclusion; It was as if nothing was learned from the situation. This is North’s debut novel and even though it was not for me, I would give her writing another try.
Kim won two arc copies via Goodreads and she sent me one so we could do a double review.
Author: Shari Lapena
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 29- June 7, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars
A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up. It’s winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell’s Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love.
So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in for the long haul. The power’s down but they’ve got candles, blankets, and wood–a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up–surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one.
They can’t leave, and with no cell service, there’s no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it’s their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there’s nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm.
I absolutely loved The Couple Next Door which was also written by Lapena. An Unwanted Guest had everything needed to pull me in: a very intriguing book description with a great location with complete isolation, and murder mysteries: “Help! There is a killer among us!” This was very much like Clue for me.
But that was where it stopped working for me. Maybe there were too many characters for me to keep up with (I listened to the audiobook version) or maybe it was just too slow moving. I am fine with character driven novels and the character development was superb, but this one just did not work for me. I was not invested with any of the characters. I did choose to finish the novel as I wanted to know the outcome and I was glad I did continue it. That ending was unexpected!! In a way that ending saved the novel for me as I would not have EVER seen that coming.
I will definitely be listening to Lapena’s other novel A Stranger in the House soon.[Top]
Author: Lee Maguire
Published: October 21, 2018
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: June 9-16, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Meet Bryce Davison, a gifted psychologist who can heal any troubled mind-except his own.
You see, Bryce’s life is falling apart. His marriage is crumbling. His insomnia brings only half-sleep and troubled dreams-visions of dark and buried memories he’d rather forget or ignore completely. And the new female patient in his psych ward just might be more trouble than he’s able to cope with.
…and now he has a stalker.
Somebody’s been watching Bryce for a long time. Somebody who knows his life inside and out-his fears, his regrets, his greatest longings and deepest despairs. Somebody with access to his most private places-his workplace, his home, his family…anywhere Bryce might have felt safe.
They do their dirty work in the shadows… and they want Bryce Davison dead.
So Bryce has got to get his life together. To save his patients. To save his family. To save his marriage…and his life.
Because no matter how close Bryce gets to the deadly truth, the enigmatic stalker is always closer than he thinks.
Closer Than You Think is the first novel in the Broken Minds series by Lee Maguire. Maguire takes what he knows from his occupation and brings us the main protagonist of Dr. Bryce Davison. Dr. Davison is far from perfect himself, as his personal life is in chaos and now he is dealing with a stalker…. Or could it be something more, or does Dr. Davison need some psychological services himself?
Despite some grammatical and spelling errors in the arc copy that I received, which were hopefully corrected by the publication day this past October, I really enjoyed this novel. It was definitely suspenseful but not so much a thriller. I wondered how far things were going to go with Davison’s situation. Who is going to get hurt next and in what way? Who is behind everything that is going on? And is somehow Davison himself responsible for what is going on?
My only negative thought as I was reading was: “If you kill the dog, I’m gonna riot!” I worried for Max the whole novel; I did not want anything to happen to her.
At first Dr. Davison was not very likeable nor came off as professional as he was supposed to be. He just seemed to be too much of a troubled man to be a psychologist. Eventually, I did grow to like and root for him: I wanted a good ending for him. The last 20 or so pages of the novel were totally unexpected! Everything was put together and wrapped in a nice bow.
Some may see the totality of the novel a bit far-fetched, but I enjoyed it. As this is the first in the series, I look forward to reading more of Dr. Davison’s stories.
Special thanks to TCK Publishing for sending me an arc copy to read and review.