Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter

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#1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

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This is the second book that I have read from Karin Slaughter who is the mistress of crime dramas in my opinion. Although I am new to her, I have moved her to my top five favourite authors list.

My research has indicated that this author mostly writes a series, which has quite a few volumes in it. I’m not ready to embark a new series at the moment, so I am working my way through her standalones first. Pretty Girls is set in Georgia in the modern-day. It tells the story of a family that has been torn apart by tragedy and the two sisters who stumble across each other again now, nearly two decades later. At first I worried that this would be very similar to her book The Good Daughter, but this isn’t the case at all.

One of my favourite aspects of this book is that the author regularly flashes back in time, to the years immediately following Julia’s disappearance. Here, we can listen to the narrator, speaking from Father’s perspective to his missing daughter, as if reading his journal. We experience how he mourns her. How he still searches for her, never giving up in his efforts, although, the same cannot be said for hope. How their child’s loss tears apart a family, a marriage, and the lack of a body denies any chance at closure.

I think this was a very emotional way to look back on the past and inform the readers of the characters’ backstories. It gives the Dad a voice, as he is deceased in the present. It also shines a light on why marriages tend to end following the loss of a child, how it tears them a part. Julia’s parents look at each other and see a father who gave his daughter rides on his shoulders, a mother who rocked her babies to sleep with a smile. Neither can look at the other parent and separate them from them from Julia.

I felt that Pretty Girls was a little slow in pace at first. This could be partially due to the fact that I would have made different choices than Lydia and Claire did as they started to investigate Paul’s actions. But the book IS nearly 700 pages as well. That is a lot of time to spend in one story. So, SO worth it though. This book kept me guessing and thoroughly engaged from start to finish. I’m already try to peddle it to friends and family because I think it is such a great book.

Ms. Slaughter is the Queen of twists and turns. Just as you think you know how the book is going to play out, there is a sharp left turn. I like books that allow me to think, to ponder different directions it could take, as long as I don’t always turn out to be right. The main thought that kept popping into my head throughout Pretty Girls was “do you really think that that was a coincidence, anymore”?

Pretty Girls is a fantastic example of domestic noir. Definitely a recommended read for anyone looking to sink their teeth into something a bit longer and darker than your typical fiction. This is one of those books that had me yelling out loud at my phone at times. It is a wild ride with graphic violence but the story is amazing.

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xx

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My (Not So) Perfect Life…

my not so perfect life

Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?

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Sophie Kinsella is my favourite British writer by far. Her novels are always on-trend with modern-day life and completely relatable to me, as a woman and a young professional. Her books are laugh-out-loud funny and a great way to cheer up. Considering I usually read dark romances or heavy erotica, it is a lovely treat to sit down and read something completly different when Kinsella releases a new novel.

My (Not So) Perfect Life is the most recent book to be released and one that I have devoured. Kinsella’s books are fast-paced page-turners, filled with good feels, awkward situations and a happy ending.

When Katie is laid off from her job in London she is devastated. It may not be the perfect position, but she is starting out in the field of her dreams, living in the “best” city in the world and learning loads everyday. The last thing she wants to admit to her beloved father is that she has failed, especially since he is all too eager to have Katie move home and live locally.

This experience is similar to one I went through a couple of years ago. I was working a shitty job in the field of my dreams, learning and putting in time until I could rise up in the ranks. Then I was laid off (five days before Christmas mind you!) and absolutely devastated. Looking back, I can say that it is one of the hardest – and best – things that I have ever been through because it made me grow as a person and I have ended up in a better place. But at the time, I thought the world was ending and that I was the biggest failure going, much as Katie does.

My (Not So) Perfect Life was a real win for me. I am a country girl at heart and totally into the organic and environmentally-friendly lifestyle that is trendy at the moment. The fact that this was so heavily favoured in Katie’s branding of her parents’ new glamping business, and the fact that most of the book took place in the country, made this country-girl shine.

Some of the plot is overly predictable, but that isn’t what you are reading a Sophie Kinsella book for. This isn’t a book full of mystery or intrigue. The story is character-driven, as the author unravels new layers of each of the characters and focuses on the relationships between them.

If you are a fan of Kinsella and think you have read all of her books, check out the ones under her pen name of Madeleine Wickham.

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xx