#BookReview : Judenrein by Harold Benjamin #Judenrein #Thriller

Judenrein by Harold Benjamin
Publication Date : March 25th 2020
Publisher : Intrados Publishing
Genre : Dystopia / Thriller
Pages : 386

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Zack Gurevitz has had a checkered past. A Yeshiva boy, turned Green Beret, turned junkie, excommunicated by his one-time faith and now the potential savior of people he doesn’t even like.

As a white supremacist movement stealthily takes the reins of power in America, it is again the Jews who are made out as scapegoats. Stripped of wealth and citizenship, they are made to live in 21st century ghettos that hark back to a sinister and murky past that many had thought would never return.

But things are about to get much worse. With the revealing of a planned terror attack that will place the blame firmly at Jewish feet and condemn millions to death, Zack is contacted by Jewish leaders in Detroit, begging for his help.

Reluctantly he agrees and before long he is mired in a conspiracy that will have far reaching consequences for his country, the Jewish population and even his own sanity.

As the clock ticks down, can Zack find a way to avert a looming disaster? Who is behind the conspiracy? And can he really trust anyone?

*** Note: I received e-ARC via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to publisher and NetGalley. ***

Judenrein was terrifying dystopia thriller set in 21st century America run by Neo Nazi White Supremist. It was about white supremacy, fascism, right-wing extremism, Nazism, and terrorism.

Writing was gripping, easy to follow, and to the point. Short chapters made it fast paced and quick read. It was written in multiple third person narrative mainly from main characters’ perspective -Zack and Agent Matthews- and also intermittent secondary characters and villain’s POV.

Book started with a man being shot that made me think who he was and why. Next we are taken back 5 days back from where all story started introducing readers to each characters, their current life and what is going on in America after rise of Pete Kasprzyks and how ex-military neo-nazis were now working in government planning terror attack.

Zack was G battalion’s best Jewish solider, now was on methadone program. He saw Jewish being homeless, jobless, penniless and stateless after rise of Pete and country supporting his ‘88wh1te’ white supremist group while labelling every Jewish terrorist or supporter of terrorist organisation. He didn’t know why he was spared from Jewish hate but when he was found by orthodox Jewish leaders at Detroit compound and was given a mission to find out more about attack, things got worse for him.

Agent Matthews was hedge fund manager who made her way up the rank of FBI. She was put on administrative leave after a mission went wrong but she was given another chance through off the book assignment which was from Colonel Hollis Weld.

Now Weld was the one who orchestrating whole performance of terror attack. But how and when was mystery. I was curious to find out what Weld’s plan was, how her and his men were going to use Zack and Agent Mathews and how they both would discover Weld’s plan and stop it.

Zack was amazing throughout the book. He gave Rambo feel, surviving on his own many harrowing situations and discovering villains’ plan as he went deeper in his mission. His encounter with Matthews were fun to read. Agent Matthews was not sure if Zack murdered her partner or not and how he was involved but when her suspicion about Weld and his junkies were confirmed she started believing Zack. I liked the way she found out the truth and how she helped Zack. They made great duo in book. I wish I could see them more. I liked Zack’s friends Wiggy who was brilliant hacker and Rosenblatt, Zack’s childhood friend living in Jews camp in Detroit.

This was plot driven story. Characters were there to play their role. If you want to connect with characters, you would be disappointed. There wasn’t much background story, only enough information about them to keep the story going and to understand their current situation and mental state. But still they were realistic and I enjoyed reading their part in story and made me root for Zack and Matthews.

World was frightening and yet interesting to read. Jews, blacks, Latinos were rounded up in a camp striped off their rights and citizenship after catalysing crisis and making Jews a threat to nation. White supremist were now planning third phase of Reichsadler with ultimate goal of making America Judenrein (free of Jews) forever and non-white free. I was shocked at seeing these supremist repeating history with their extremely racist view and behaviour.

It was baffling to see people electing a racist president and believing all they said throwing their logic out of window. It was all very prophetic and vividly written with a bit about Jews culture and religion. It made me think can this really happen, can people be that stupid to elect such president and believe every word he says and drive their hate towards particular community in name of patriotism? Answer is simple and terrifying, yes or maybe.

Mystery and suspense were brilliant. I wasn’t sure what their whole plan was. Characters were misled along with reader, were put in situations that made me anxious for them and kept me wondering how the hell they were going to stop the attack.

Events before and after climax were action packed and adrenalin inducing. They made me impatient to read all detail on what characters were doing and how they were carrying out action. I just wanted to reach to important point. End was good but also unbelievable. I’m struggling to believe how they wrapped or rather covered whole thing after Zack and Matthews saved the day.

Overall,

Judenrein was powerful, thought-provoking, and fast paced thriller filled with suspense and action packed. I highly recommend this to fans of dystopia thriller.

Book Links : Goodreads | Amazon
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I hope you enjoyed this review. Let me know what do you think about the book, if you have read this already or going to add it to TBR? Have you read a book featuring supremist government or Nazism?

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#BookReview : Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry #BlogTour #DontTurnAround #Thriller @vintagebooks @jazminamarsh @jessbarryauthor

Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry
Expected publication Date : July 30th 2020
Publisher : Vintage Publishing, Random House UK
Genre : Thriller
Pages : 320

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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The riveting follow up to Jessica Barry’s debut Freefall—a controversial, of-the-moment thriller about two women fighting for their right to live.

322 miles of road. 6 hours. 2 strangers. 1 killer. Too many secrets.


Midnight. Cait Monaghan and Rebecca McRae are on a desolate road that slices through the New Mexican desert. They’ve never met before tonight. Both have secrets to protect. Both of their lives are in danger.

When a truck pulls up fast behind them, they assume it’s punk teenagers or run-of-the-mill road rage, but it soon becomes clear that whoever is driving the truck is hunting them for sport—and they are out to draw blood.

As the miles unspool and the dangers mount, the pasts they’ve worked so hard to keep buried have come back to haunt them. Someone wants one of them dead. But which one? And given the lives the two women have been leading, that someone could be almost anyone.

If Cait and Rebecca are going to survive, they’ll have to learn to trust one another—and themselves. But trust is a costly business, and they’ve both paid the price before. . . . 


*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Jasmine @ Vintage, PRH UK for tour invite and review copy. ***

Don’t Turn Around was intriguing, fast paced thriller that revolved around Cait and Rebecca’s 322 miles journey from Lubbock to Albuquerque. It was about social media abuse and trolling, suffocating relationship, abortions and women’s feeling about, patriarchy and people’s judgement.

Don’t Turn Around was written in third person narrative from Cait and Rebecca’s alternative POV with past and present and chapters counting down the miles from Lubbock to Albuquerque. Writing was compelling, tense, and atmospheric with dangers on the road and past that was going to catch up these women.

Plot was most interesting. I haven’t read a thriller that took place on road and in car. It started with Cait picking up Rebecca from her house in the middle of night who was supposed to take her to Albuquerque at the centre of Sisters of Service. At first I wasn’t sure what this service was about and why they took so much precaution and swore the confidentiality but as the book progress and we read the past stories of characters we know what was going on.

First few chapters were all about character building and telling readers what was going on in their life, what happened to them in past and how they came to be in present situation. We don’t see much conversation between characters until the truck hit their jeep and tried to take them off the road. After that hit things started to reveal one by one, we see what Cait was hiding and why Rebecca needed to take Sister of Service’s help.

I was curious to find out who was driving the truck. There were intermittent chapters from other characters of the book created tension and made me think who from these characters was after these women. Past chapters gave the clear idea on why and yet there were enough surprises that I couldn’t guess.

Characters and mystery were intriguing. Both Cait and Rebecca were flawed, scared with what was happening to them and yet they were stronger than they thought. I felt for Cait who was victim of abuse. She wrote an article about it that took her life downhill. I did feel she was making mistake as soon as she went after that musician. She was being honest in article, admitted she went willingly and wrote how she felt violated and yet people were trolling her telling she deserved it and should die! I was shocked at people’s reaction to it. Right or wrong nobody deserve this. The level of threat scared me and made me anxious for Cait and yet she was brave to carry on with her life until everything got worst. I admired her for being conscientious even though she felt rage and vengeance and doing right thing and sticking with Rebecca after knowing her story. She kept feeling guilty for writing that article but it’s those people trolling her should feel guilty.

Rebecca was most relatable character and I really felt bad for her. She was nice and lovely wife who loved her job as teacher in school, her hometown California and her father but she left it all for her single-minded husband, Patrick, who wanted to make career in politics from his hometown Texas. Once they moved there and things started to go left for Rebecca. It was clear she wasn’t happy with this change in life and in Patrick and I was surprised that idiot husband ignored that. Life of politician’s wife was not for her and I felt bad how both Patrick and his manager belittle her and made her feel bad for not doing it right. I wanted to shake her tell her just leave him, you don’t have to do this for him. And then there were many miscarriages and present condition. She was timid, too yielding for my liking. She was sensitive with world’s reality and death of her parents and yet it was amazing to see how a child can make a woman strong beyond her limits. I loved her for sticking with Cait and helping her even after knowing her secret and I admired her for what she did in climax and at the end.

Men in this book were written to hate. Every single men this book thought what they do and think is above everyone, especially women. I hated Ken for passing judgement on what Cait did and about women going to abortion clinic. Mike for driving his anger of injustice and losing love to totally wrong direction, Patrick for thinking he had right over deciding what Rebecca should do about her body and over baby, and that bastard manager who thought he was most clever of all. I hated those pro-life protestors who didn’t even want to see in what condition women went to abortion centre, what it felt to be violated, how it is for women to carry a child of abuse or even worst a child that is going die or born with condition that make child and mother suffer for whole life. It was outrageous to read their thoughts.

Mystery was cleverly written. There were lots of red herrings. It turned out different than what I expected but in good way. I couldn’t guess who was driving the truck until climax. And goodness that villain was clearly maniac and delusional. Last 25% of the book was full of action and chase. I enjoyed reading this adrenaline inducing part. When they came out of it there was another shock. I knew Rebecca’s husband planned something and other men in book but what happened was unexpected. End was perfect.

Why 4 Stars-

My only complaint is he way women fought even after accident was a bit implausible. I mean you can’t just get up and drive after you are beaten badly in such condition.

Overall,

Don’t Turn Around was riveting and fast paced thrill ride with amazing characters and thought-provoking theme. I definitely recommend this.

About author:

Jessica Barry is a pseudonym for an American author who has lived and worked in London for the past fifteen years. Look for Me (previously published as Freefall), her debut thriller, has sold in more than twenty-two territories around the world and has also secured a major Hollywood film deal.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Pre-order | Amazon.UK | Amazon.com | Amazon.in
Affiliate Link : Book Depository


I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this book and my reviewhave you read this book already or going to add it to TBR. Have you read a Road Trip Thriller?

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Dark Waters (Monica Kennedy #2) by G.R. Halliday #DarkWatersBook @HarvillSecker @GR_Halliday

Dark Waters (Monica Kennedy #2) by G.R. Halliday
Publication Date : July 16th 2020
Publisher : Harvill Secker
Genre : Scottish Noir / crime fiction
Pages : 384

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The haunting new novel from G. R. Halliday, author of FROM THE SHADOWS, shortlisted for THE MCILVANNEY DEBUT PRIZE

THREE MISTAKES. TWO MURDERS. ONE MORE VICTIM TO GO . . .

Annabelle loves to drive. It helps her escape her world, her past. Speeding on a mountain road in the Scottish Highlands, she sees a little girl step out in front of her. She swerves to avoid her. The next thing Annabelle remembers is waking up in a dark, damp room. A voice from the corner of the room says ‘The Doctor will see you now’.

Scott is camping in the woodlands in the Scottish Highlands – but in the middle of the night, he hears something outside his tent. When he goes out to have a look, a little girl is standing among the trees, staring right at him. Scott is never seen again.

When a dismembered body is discovered, DI Monica Kennedy gets called to the scene immediately. After six months away from the Serious Crimes team, they need her back on board.

As Monica searches for the murderer, another body is found. Monica knows the signs . . . She’s on the hunt for a serial killer.

Perfect for fans of James Oswald, Ann Cleeves and Val McDermid.

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Mia @vintagebooks for tour invite and providing review copy. ***

Dark Waters was dark and disturbing crime thriller, second novel in Monica Kennedy series that revolved around another serial killer case. It was about juggling work and family life, haunting and unsettled past and history, unsolved and mysterious murders, and real demons of the world-humans.

This first line was chilling and it should have prepared for what’s going to come in the book- “When she still had all arms and legs, Anabelle liked to drive.”

Writing like previous book was engaging and vivid that took me to dark mountains and of Highlands that were both beautiful and menacing. I’m really glad to read in author’s note Glen Turrit and Little Arklow doesn’t exist outside this book but place were based on Glen Strathfarrar and it doesn’t look as dreadful from pictures as it sound in book. This book was even darker than first one. This is not for squeamish readers or those who feel claustrophobic by reading tunnels and caves under mountains. Let me give a little warning, there’s cannibalism. Plot was brilliant. It was told in third person narrative from Annabelle and Monica’s perspective and occasionally we also see other victim’s perspective.

Annabelle travelled from London to Highlands for thrill ride on single track road- beautiful but secluded- from one gate of Glen Turrit across the hydro dam to another gate near Strathcarron. But on this route, where she wasn’t expecting anyone, she saw a girl that made her swerved the car that collided to a tree. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in damp and dark room, injured and kidnapped! Just within few chapters Scott, Canadian traveler was abducted after seeing a girl. Simultaneously, we see what was going on in Monica’s life after previous case that ended horribly, working in traffic department, and giving Lucy lot of time. But then she got call from her boss Hately who needed her in new case. They found dismembered body near dam, at bank of river Beauly. Within 2 days another body, same condition, close to another hydro power station. I was curious to find out who was the killer, whose bodies they found, was it Scott or someone else, who was that girl and why she was working with a killer, if Monica could find killer before he kills Scott or Anabelle, or if Anabelle can find a way to escape.

Monica was once again was great. I liked the way mother’s concerns and guilt were portrayed through her and Lucy’s relationship. Monica’s strength and vulnerability, how stress of new changes in Lucy and her nightmares were affecting her and the case, was realistic to read. Her intuitions related to case was brilliant. What I liked most was a glimpse in her past that showed her relationship with her father. I feel there is more about her to be revealed in next books. I had complain about her too frequent height reference in previous book but in this one it was better, not too often and didn’t appear unexpectedly.

I like Crawford in this book. We don’t know his full story yet but that was balanced by Fisher’s story. We know a bit about Fisher and his real life. It was surprising to know how that connected him to this murder case. Annabelle was caring and clever. She had parents issue and it was sad to see how her parents behaved and treated her and how deeply it affected her. Even after what she was enduring in killer’s den, she felt empathy towards Marcus and even in worst condition she was selfless. She didn’t deserve what happened to her. Villain was worst nightmare imaginable. The story he shared and what was revealed everything related to him was terrifying.

I enjoyed description of all Highland locations, a bit about hydro dam, its history and stories related to it, intermittent chapters’ from victims that cleared the mystery behind what exactly happened to them and why, and lastly that maze of underground tunnels and those chapters about it and Annabelle’s experience in there. Author did amazing job with tension, suspense, and twist and turns. Suspects were few but yet I couldn’t guess who the killer was until around 40% of the book and yet I couldn’t connect the dots and figure out why these particular victims until Monica’s last interview with suspect.

Climax was tense, blood chilling and adrenaline inducing. I was literally yelling at characters at this point thinking why it was taking so much time. I almost lost hope for Anabelle and it was not clear if she will live or not till the end. It felt so unfair what happened at the end but at the same time it felt realistic.

Why 4.5-

There are still more to characters and not all their stories were told in this book but I hope to read that in  next books in series.

Overall,

Dark Waters was clever, horrifying, fast paced and well written sequel with vivid and gruesome description and beautiful yet dangerous setting.

Books Links:

Goodreads | Pre-order | AmazonUK | Waterstones

Affiliate Link : Book Depository


I hope you enjoyed this review. Let me know what do you think about the book, if you have read this already or previous book in series, and Which is your favorite book set in Scotland.

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#BookReview : All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault #AllthePrettyThings #Mystery #Thriller @PRHGlobal #BooksTeacupnReviews

All the Pretty Things by Emily Arsenault
Publication Date : March 17th 2020
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Genre : YA / Mystery-Thriller
Pages: 352
Stars : ★★★☆☆

For fans of Sadie and The Cheerleaders comes an all new thriller about a boy who turns up dead under suspicious circumstances and the one girl who may be the key to solving the mystery of his untimely death.


For Ivy, summer means roller-coaster season, spinning cotton candy at the Fabuland amusement park, and hanging out with her best friend, Morgan. But this summer is different.


One morning, Morgan finds a dead body. It’s their former classmate and coworker Ethan. To make matters worse, Morgan is taken to a hospital psych ward only days later, and she’s not saying much–not even to Ivy.


The police claim that Ethan simply took a bad fall, but Ivy isn’t convinced and realizes it’s up to her to get answers. What she finds is unsettling–it’s clear that some people aren’t being honest about Ethan’s last night at Fabuland. Including Morgan. And the more secrets Ivy uncovers, the closer she gets to unraveling dark truths that will change her life forever. 

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

All the Pretty Things was YA small town mystery that revolved around Fabuland amusement park, Ethan’s death and reason behind Morgan’s silence. It was about workplace harassment, health risks at amusement park, motivated perception and ignorance.

Writing was easy, intriguing and good but not best. Setting of Fabuland- amusement park in small town, Danville was fabulous. Story was first person narrative from Ivy’s POV.

All the Pretty Things started with Ivy receiving news about her best friend- Morgan. She discovered dead body of coworker and classmate on her way to Fabuland. Soon they found Morgan but she wasn’t herself and was admitted in psych ward. She wouldn’t talk to anybody, not even to Ivy. She just vaguely pointed her questions about Ethan’s death. To find out what happened to Ethan and how it affected to Morgan, Ivy carried out her own investigation. And what she found out in process was disturbing that might change her life. The story was all about what was the mystery behind Ethan’s death and Morgan’s distressed state, Why she would shut out her best friend, and what Ivy discovered at the end.

Mystery behind Morgan’s state was clear. I could figure out what might have happened to her. Within few chapters I also could see who might have caused her distress. As for Ethan’s death that was tricky in first half but easy to figure in second half. First half was all about introduction of Fabuland, Ivy’s family, her friendship with Morgan, Fabuland employees who were mostly young high school students and Ivy’s class mates, her father’s nature and dreams, and mainly Ivy’s investigation. This part was a bit slow.

Characters were interesting but not in depth. We see the world and characters through Ivy’s eyes and we know them only with their connection to mysteries so it was really hard to know or connect with characters, even with Ivy. 

 Ivy was okay, she was mostly playing Nancy Drew and piping her thoughts on what she found out. I couldn’t exactly say if she liked working at Fabuland or not or if she was working their out of love for her father- It seemed like combination of all of these. I didn’t like her for judging her brother as he didn’t came back to work at Fabuland and for taking side with her father without knowing whole story. At one point she was developed for her age- responsible daughter and helping her father and other employees, while at some point she was naïve and saw the world and her family’s issue through what she perceived as child during her parents’ divorce. And I can’t imagine how she couldn’t see her father’s vulgar language and behavior. One thing I liked was her reaction to truths she discovered. It was realistic and her decision at the end was perfect.

Best part of the book was setting. Amusement park was described wonderfully. Roller coasters, carousel, spin rides, cotton candy, ice cream parlor, food zone, water rides, princess parade, and sparkly doughnuts- All The pretty Things were there at this park. And I loved new ideas in promoting the park, fun activities and giveaways. And beneath those pretty things there was darkness and shadiness that made the story atmospheric. I liked the way author represented workplace harassment and possible health risk and accidents at amusement park. Through Ethan’s story it was also shown importance of health assessment and parent permission for under age kid before giving them job.

In second half, Ivy not just solved mystery of Ethan and Morgan but also reason behind why her brother Jason wouldn’t join them this summer and never work for their father. Winnie’s story and revelation at climax was perfect. Loved Ivy’s development and the way she accepted her ignorance and took right step at the end. End was perfect. I loved that big revelation just before end, slight different from what I guessed but I enjoyed it.

Why 3 Stars-

It wasn’t exactly thriller. I would say it was more like cozy mystery with a bit darkness. Plus it was easy to predict who was culprit because there was only one person who behaved wrong and inappropriately.

Dialogues were not good. All conversations started with huh, uh-huh, umm…! I lost count how many times these words were used. It really made conversations dull.

As I said above in characters part, there was no feel or connection to characters. Book was first person narrative but I know and see everyone else except main character. Maybe because it was more plot driven but characters were important part so I was expecting to know them better, at least Ivy and Morgan.

Overall, All the Pretty Things was simple and quick read with had great setting and interesting plot but predictable and not exactly a thriller. If you want an easy mystery, love amusement park and mystery in it with a little creepy feel, go ahead.

Book Links:

Goodreads

Affiliate Links: Amazon.(IN) | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Book Depository

What do you think about the book? Have you read it already or any book by the same author? Have you read a book set in amusement park?

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#BookReview : Pretty Things by Janelle Brown #PrettyThings #Mystery #Thriller @PRHGlobal #BooksTeacupnReviews

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown
Publication Date : April 21st 2020
Publisher : Random House
Genre : Mystery Thriller
Pages : 496
Stars : ★★★★☆ (4.25)

Two wildly different women – one a grifter, the other an heiress – are brought together by the scam of a lifetime in a page-turner from the New York Times bestselling author of Watch Me Disappear.

Nina once bought into the idea that her fancy liberal arts degree would lead to a fulfilling career. When that dream crashed, she turned to stealing from rich kids in L.A. alongside her wily Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina learned from the best: Her mother was the original con artist, hustling to give her daughter a decent childhood despite their wayward life. But when her mom gets sick, Nina puts everything on the line to help her, even if it means running her most audacious, dangerous scam yet.

Vanessa is a privileged young heiress who wanted to make her mark in the world. Instead she becomes an Instagram influencer—traveling the globe, receiving free clothes and products, and posing for pictures in exotic locales. But behind the covetable façade is a life marked by tragedy. After a broken engagement, Vanessa retreats to her family’s sprawling mountain estate, Stonehaven: a mansion of dark secrets not just from Vanessa’s past, but from that of a lost and troubled girl named Nina.

Nina’s, Vanessa’s, and Lachlan’s paths collide here, on the cold shores of Lake Tahoe, where their intertwined lives give way to a winter of aspiration and desire, duplicity and revenge.

This dazzling, twisty, mesmerizing novel showcases acclaimed author Janelle Brown at her best, as two brilliant, damaged women try to survive the greatest game of deceit and destruction they will ever play. 

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

Pretty Things was slow-burn mystery thriller that revolved around two women from different background, one a con with plan of heist and other rich heiress spending her time in loneliness. It was about grift, con, gap between rich and poor and their mindset about it, social media and its illusion, pretty things and its not-so-pretty reality, dysfunctional family, friendship, love, deceit and betrayal.

Writing was beautiful, descriptive and often lyrical. I love it when there’s more than just story and characters. Deep, thought provoking and meaningful messages and quote worthy line are something I always appreciate it most in book and this had it in abundance.

Plot was interesting. Story was first person narrative from Nina and Vanessa’s perspective. They were given few chapters each sharing their view points on their present situation, telling their life story, how their path collided and what happened after that.

Pretty Things had intriguing beginning with Nina swindling a young rich Russian along with her Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina conned rich people to pay her mother’s medical bill, but had set of rules- “Don’t take too much and only con those who deserve it and can afford to replace things they stole”. But when police came knocking at her door and sending her on run, they had to break the rules for one last big grift with more than enough cash that can help her mother’s treatment and give her new start. So, they decided to con Vanessa Liebling, young privileged heiress of Liebling estate, Stonehaven at Lake Tahoe. Now Nina has history with this place and she hated Lieblings. I was curious to find out what was the history, why she hated the rich and specially Lieblings so much, what they did to Nina?

This was character driven story. Most part of the book was character building and development. First 50% of the book told about present life of characters, their childhood, past, what happened in their lives that shaped their present and their mindset. This was slowest part and long chapters didn’t help in speeding the story.

All characters were flawed, complex and complicated. It was interesting to read their life stories, their mindset, insecurities and strength. The story was written in such way that my likeness scale kept tipping from left to right.

At first I didn’t like Nina. She was presumptuous, judgmental and selfish. She saw the world in only two shades, poor and rich and defined life based on that. Her judgement was fractured once she got involved with Vanessa in real life, living with her at Stonehaven with her.

The cold judgement she formed based on Vanessa’s Instagram v-life warmed eventually and she saw the reality of Vanessa’s life, her pain and emotions. I liked her development from this point onward. After major turning point she discovered many secrets that shattered the definition of world she created. I loved her for trying to do right thing at the end, taking decision that was hard for her. It steered her away from what she did whole life. At the end I loved her.

It’s easiest to judge from distance. That’s why the Internet has turned us all into armchair critics, experts at the cold dissection of gesture and syllable, sneering self-righteously from the safety of our screens. There, we can feel good about ourselves, validated that our flaws weren’t as bad as theirs, unchallenged in our superiority. Moral high ground is a pleasant place to preach, even if the view turns out to be rather limited in scope.

Vanessa was vulnerable, lonely woman desperate for love and appreciation. She was privileged and she knew she could get everything with money and looks. She used it to hide her flaws, her insecurities and lack of any talent. Circumstances lead her towards Instagram influencer life that gave her fame and illusion of world where people loved her and appreciated what she did, until it was shattered by one tragedy after other. She believed what her parents said and taught and one of those thing was Nina Ross ruined her brother- Benny’s life.

It was easy to like her and empathize with her. Her only flaw was she had low self-esteem and lot of self-doubt. She was naïve and stupid. Maybe not totally but I didn’t like how she turned blind eye to all the signs. But then again I liked her once the fog of naivety was cleared and she started using her brain.

Benny was diagnosed schizophrenic but he was most smart and sane person in the book. I felt for him. I wish he stood up against his dad all those years ago but at the same time I could see he was just boy whose parents didn’t understand him.  

I blame adults for everything wrong happened to Vanessa, Benny and Nina. Liebling family was typical rich dysfunctional family and had major impact on Benny’s mental condition and Vanessa’s self-esteem, while Nina’s mother was no better.

Perspective is, by nature, subjective. It’s impossible to climb inside someone else’s head, despite your best-or worst-intentions.

What I liked most was characters’ background and development and description of Lake Tahoe. It was both beautiful and atmospheric setting. Along with the luminous water of the lake, beautiful peaks of mountains, there lurked the darkness and coldness of Stonehaven. I liked the descriptions of Stonehaven and all the antiques there.

Another thing I loved was deep insights on social media and rich life, how people view it from outside and how the reality of pretty things are so different when you get close to it, and how actions of parents causes horrible consequences for their children.

Second half was brilliant, fast paced with surprises and twists that made me appreciate that slow first half. I liked character development and redemption arc in this part. The way Vanessa and Nina realized their mistakes and cleared misunderstanding was amazing. Turning points, surprises and twists were well written without giving away true intentions of characters and what they were going to plan next, and how they will come out of the mess they created.

Nothing is ever as pure as it seems at first glance; there is always something more complicated to be found when you peel back the unmarred surface of pretty things.

Climax was tense, surprising and brilliant. At this point I knew what they were going to do and what will be the end. End was good. I like it when characters get what they deserved. Epilogue was best, I liked how characters pulled their life together and tried to form a bridge over their differences.

Why 4.25 star-

First half was too slow. It took me more than 1 hour to read 10% of the book. I thought I would rate this book 3 or 3.5 at 50% of the book but then I loved second half and I could see how important the first half was, it helped in understanding characters and what was going on in their mind. I appreciated all those back stories. But then there was a little repetitiveness in first half which was, I think, because of narration style.

Overall, Pretty Things was impressive, deceitful, and twisted tale of two women with lots of secrets. I recommend this to fans of this genre, specifically those who don’t mind slow pace and descriptive, philosophical writing.

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What do you think about the book? Have you read it already or any book by the same author? Have you read a book(s) featuring social class differences and if so which is your favorite?

Happy Reading!

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