I picked up Sweet Damage and was hooked by the second page: gorgeous, evocative writing (in parts reminding me of Kirsty Eagar), an effortlessly likea...moreI picked up Sweet Damage and was hooked by the second page: gorgeous, evocative writing (in parts reminding me of Kirsty Eagar), an effortlessly likeable Aussie male protag, gothick-y and twisty plot (I did not guess the reveal), above all this book does what it's genre should do best: sucks you in and keeps you up all night. James knows how to plot and how to keep those pages turning. 4am finish for me <3(less)
I really should make a shelf for books centred around amnesia as I seem to be drawn to them :)
This UK debut is making some very big waves around the g...moreI really should make a shelf for books centred around amnesia as I seem to be drawn to them :)
This UK debut is making some very big waves around the globe. Weirdly, I cannot remember why I first added it to my TBR, but I did wait a few months to get through the reservation queue at my library and there's still months worth of people waiting behind me :D
I do love the thriller/suspense genre. What I love about it this: once I start a suspense novel such as this, with mystery elements and an undercurrent of unease, I get sucked in. Before I Go To Sleep is hugely compelling and I read it in two sittings.
It's a 5 star reading experience in the sense that I was caught up in the book and really wanting to not put the damn thing down ( 'please, kids, can't you see I'm reading?' ;)). Very mesmerising.
The thing that always gets to me about the thriller/suspense genre though: those twists (!) the climaxes (!) the revelations (!) and ... the melodrama.
Before I Go To Sleep was pretty typical fare: well written, sharp, mysterious, intriguing. Tightly plotted.
And then, the second half is unleashed. At this point, I am sucked in. At this point, things start unravelling in the story and I am guessing at twists (it is to be expected) and desperate to find out what's really going on (and see if I am right). It is also at this point where the book changes from being believable to being much more dramatic (less believable) entertainment. Although most the villainous melodrama was held off until the climax (thank you). I think it is standard of the genre, and it does make me cringe somewhat. I had a similar experience reading Still Missing ~ a book I loved earlier in the year, despite it's ridiculous and overly ambitious twist-like revelations.
I cannot say I cared for the characters, but I do not read this genre to care for characters. I can say I cared for the situation Chrissie was in and that kind of amnesia is still whirring in my mind. It was rather nightmarish and, in some ways, I prefer to be dead than to live like that :/
In conclusion: 5 stars for the thrilling, unputdownable times. Bump it down to three stars for those moments of melodrama which occasionally leave a bad taste in my mouth. Level it out to 4 stars b/c I don't want to think too hard about this book which was pure entertainment.
I do think it felt incredibly well researched and some aspects of (the amnesia) are truly fascinating and mind-boggling. Also, I will read more of this authors work.
Where Have You Been is a Australian psychological thriller.
Susan's older sister was last seen on the night of her high school formal and her...more3.5 stars
Where Have You Been is a Australian psychological thriller.
Susan's older sister was last seen on the night of her high school formal and her disappearance sparked investigations (which led nowhere) and left her family shattered: eventually her parents divorced, her mother descended into obsession and a mild madness.
Twenty years later, Susan is the picture of domestic bliss: happily married to her college sweetheart, two children & financially well-off. Until her mum dies and leaves half the (sizable) inheritance to her missing (long presumed abducted/dead) sister.
So... dun dun dun... her sister (or an imposter) appears after an announcement in the paper.
And this appearance acts the catalyst for a series if events that rock Susan's whole world.
This catalyst causes the main characters in the story to review their lives and beliefs and re-visit their past. There's some quieter domestic kind of mid-life crisis and questioning of their lives and happiness in general. But the driving force of the story is the bubbling undertones that Susan's sister is not who she says she is and not to be trusted. That she will end up taking more than just the money...
I was equally compelled and frustrated while reading this. Things that were obvious to the reader remained cloudy to the characters. I suppose this added suspense with that feeling of dread but it also made me want to scream at the characters for making such dodge-y and plain idiotic choices. They were gullible and far too trusting and easily allowed themselves to be used (although I suppose if they made the right choices, there would be no premise for the story).
I felt the suspense was handled really well (and was perhaps the main reason I read it so fast ~ it wasn't for love of the characters). I loved the different (often short) changes of POV. I had wished for it to be a little more creepy/climatic than what it was ~ although I do not think that was the author's intent.
I quite enjoyed the prose ~ it was often sparse ~ crisp and sharp ~ reminiscent of Lisa McMann's style in the WAKE, FADE, GONE books ~ although not as constant or intense.
This book has been long-listed for the Ned Kelly award :D
For some reason i am pairing in my mind with Rebecca's James ~ which is a YA/cross-over thriller also set in Sydney ~ although largely different in themes and audience it had a similar vibe.(less)
As I Wake is rather unlike any book I have ever read. The cover matches the contents brilliantly, it’s smokey and mysterious, gorgeous and a little bi...moreAs I Wake is rather unlike any book I have ever read. The cover matches the contents brilliantly, it’s smokey and mysterious, gorgeous and a little bit eerie and, like the girl on the front, I felt head-achey trying to get my mind around it.
I really do love Elizabeth Scott. Every book she writes, she surprises me: she does have a signature writing style but sometimes it is funny, cute or quirky, other times heartfelt and other times barren yet full of depth. As I Wake is written in a sparse style of prose, so the reader is instantly dropped into the plot with no preamble or reasoning.
It opens with a girl in a world she does not remember, having headaches and memories of another world, another life. Nothing makes sense to Ava, and Scott puts her readers firmly in Ava’s shoes: I felt like the plot was swirling around me and it was hard to grasp all the pieces ~ just like Ava was struggling to make sense of it. Plot-wise, you have to discover for yourself but it is a little bit The Adoration of Jenna Fox, parallel universe-y, dystopia, soft sci-fi elements, a dash of contemporary high school and there’s a love story in there too :)
The whole thing has an incredibly eerie undertone. At times I felt uneasy, hopeless. Yet there were brief moments of beauty and compassion among the sadness and confusion.
Like the writing, the world building is sparse. It is very much about one girl in this one crossroads moment of her life. The world(s) are not explained, details are sketchy ~ what it strong is the mystery, the emotions, the sensations of it all. It was hard for me to picture everything, but I still felt pulled into the story.
This book may frustrate many readers. But I am firmly an Elizabeth Scott fangirl. I just love her stuff. Anyone else may not have been able to pull this off in so few words, with only splashes of detail and barely-there explanations for plot twists and turns. But I thought it was gorgeous and compelling and I honestly felt swirly while reading it, and it has a strange lingering effect now. It is odd, that’s for sure, but it worked for me :)
Conclusion: this is rather like a book you read while having a dream, all swirly and out of reach. It was a dream-like reading experience. Regarding the love story, it is more surreal and fairytale-vibe than true, but I easily slipped into it, I think it matched the whole thing superbly (and I always fall for Scott's boys. She has a swoony gift).
I don’t know if this is the book for you *shrugs* but maybe my review has evoked a little of how this book felt for me. I am going with 3.5 stars and rounding up to 4 b/c it's Elizabeth Scott (and I can be biased like that) (less)