Review: the woman in the window | another ‘meh’ thriller

the woman in the windowTitle: The Woman in the Window
Author: A.J. Finn
Published in January 2018 by William Morrow
Genre: mystery, thriller (adult)
Rating: ★★★ – it was okay

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems. 

my thoughts on - review black (1)

I read The Woman in the Window because it was one of the most talked about thrillers of 2018. Before all the weird stuff about the author surfaced, or anyone talked about its similarities to thrillers published in recent years. Everyone seemed to absolutely rave about this book, so I figured I’d give it a try. I’m happy I got a copy from the library because this ended up being just okay for me.

I’ve wanted to expand my reading to the mystery and thriller genre for a while, so I hop on every recommendation possible. Since this was a Goodreads Choice Award nominee and predicted to be a winner, I had quite high expectations.

The book follows Anna, who has agoraphobia and thus spends every day inside her big house in New York. Did anyone else wonder how she afforded to live there? Because I certainly did! Anyways, that’s beside the point. One of the things she does to pass the time is observe her neighbors through the windows of her house. One day, she witnesses a horrific act in her new neighbor’s living room. She calls the police, who turn up and find absolutely nothing. But Anna is sure she saw something happen.

This is not the first time I’ve read a ‘thriller’ with an unreliable main character. In fact, the main character of this book seriously reminds me of the one in The Girl on the Train. There, I said it. Is there no other way to make our main character seem untrustworthy than by making her an alcoholic? I don’t struggle with addiction, and luckily never have. However, that makes it a very frustrating reading experience for me. The entire time, Anna is saying that no one believes her, and that she doesn’t feel all that well but she wants to be someone everyone can trust. She ‘solves’ her dizzy spells and amnesia by downing three times the recommended amount of medicine and 3 bottles of wine a day. She clearly says that she needs her mind to be clear for the next hour, and decides the perfect way to achieve that is by gulping down a bottle of pinot noir. Sigh. I can’t count the amount of times I had to read the words pinot noir or wine in this book. She must have drank an entire wine cellar by the end of it.

Anna being an alcoholic is pretty much the only reason no one believes her. That, and the fact they didn’t find any evidence of a crime, of course. Her agoraphobia seems to only be used as a tool to further the plot: since she can’t go outside, she can’t really investigate either. I do like that this book talks about support groups, therapy and medication for mental illnesses, but hate the fact that all three are used to further the mystery and crime in this novel.

I could see 70% of the twists and reveals coming from kilometers away. And I don’t read thrillers often. I have watched a lot of shows like Criminal Minds, so maybe that helped. While I was surprised by the big reveal at the end of the book, I simply couldn’t care enough about the characters to actually be invested in the way it turned out.

There were also some parts of the story I found simply implausible. You’re really telling me that this woman lives alone in a big house in New York City, downs bottles of expensive wine a day, and doesn’t have to worry about money? Okay. Even if she got a large sum of money from the thing that happened in her past, a lifestyle like that will make a serious dent in your bank account after years. She can really see what’s on someone’s laptop screen through her windows, from the opposite side of the street? Wow, 20-20 vision for sure. Why does no one have curtains, for fuck’s sake? Once you start noticing these little unlikely things, the story starts to become more and more frustrating.


All in all, I was left disappointed by The Woman in the Window. While I don’t think it was a bad book by any means, I fail to see why everyone loves it so much. The main character is incredibly frustrating and not very interesting, so I quickly lost interest in what happened to her. The little implausibilities made me question the story more than I should have, and took away from my reading experience. I wouldn’t call this book awful or bad, but I wouldn’t recommend it to others either.

Have you read The Woman in the Window? What did you think of it? Can you recommend me some thrillers who don’t depend on the main character being an alcoholic to make them untrustworthy? 

Books that freak me out (but aren’t necessarily scary) | #TopTenTuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Today is a Halloween/creepy freebie! I don’t read a lot of thrillers, nor am I easily scared by books, so I decided to adapt the topic a bit. I’m going to talk about books that freak me out, for one reason or another. Let’s talk about them.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers
This book freaked me out because it’s so real. It tells the story of a girl who was raped by her town’s “golden boy”. It freaks me out because it unfortunately happens to so many people around the world, and the way we react to it and still blame the victims terrifies me. How we refuse to put blame on the rapists, and refuse to offer support to victims. How we act like it’s the victim’s fault. It all scares me to death.

This Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil #1) by Emily Suvada
Once again, this isn’t really a traditionally scary book. However, when I stop and think about the events that happen in this book, I find myself freaked out. This is a dystopian story in which a virus breaks out. It’s airborne, and once you are infected you turn into a zombie-like creature until you explode. It’s scary because viruses are terrifying, especially with the resistance to antibiotics they’re building up.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
This is a creepy book because it truly showcases the worst of humanity. Some of the worst, at the very least. This is about a girl whose brother killed her entire family when she was nine/ten, and has spent the past  10+ years in prison. The violence and lack of human decency in this is just… scary.

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga
I love this YA thriller trilogy, and I feel like not enough people have read it. It’s about a guy called Jasper who was raised by his dad, who is actually a serial killer. He subtly raised Jasper to be the perfect killer, just like he was. Can you imagine??

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
The reason this book freaked me out is because it made me put myself in the situation of the main characters just like The Secret History by Donna Tartt did. In both novels, you know that what they did is ‘wrong’. But would I really make a different choice? What would I do? It made me think about the darkness we all have inside of us, and that scares me.

Gravity by Tess Gerritsen
This is the second book about a virus on this list. That’s the stuff that freaks me out, guys. The realistic things like viruses, serial killers and humans. However, this book is also set in space on the ISS. Several crew mates have been sent to the ISS when an unknown and ‘alien’ virus breaks out. What do you do? You’re stuck in space with this deadly thing you can’t even see. How do you even get out of there??

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
This didn’t freak me out in the scared way, but the idea of it left me feeling gross and disgusted. If you haven’t heard of this book, it’s about a brother and sister who fall in love. Yeah. Ew. Forbidden is an incredible novel, even though the topic really creeps me out.

Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff Vandermeer
Another one that freaks me out because it’s a mix of science, fantasy, and the unknown. Listen, we’ve fucked up the Earth in so many ways already. Who knows what the hell we’ll end up doing to it next. Combine that fact with this weird thing that’s happening without any explanation whatsoever, and I’m left scared.

Mindhunter by John Douglas
Like I mentioned before, serial killers terrify me. I think they scare everyone, to be honest. I’ve always been interested in serial killers and profiling (I promise it’s not as weird or creepy as it sounds), which is why I picked this book up years ago. This was written by someone who helped set up the profiling unit of the FBI, and who dealt with American serial killers. These people are horrifying. The way their minds work is just… I can’t deal with it.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
Once again, serial killer book. Look, you have to agree that they are some of the scariest people on this planet! This book freaked me out because at the time it was written they still hadn’t caught the so-called Golden State Killer. Only after decades could they figure out who had broken in to all these homes, raped all these women, and killed all these people. The idea that for decades people have been walking past someone who has done these horrific things scares the life out of me.


That’s it, 10 books that freak me out! With all of these, it’s more the ideas behind them and the content that made me feel scared or uncomfortable, instead of the books actually being meant to be scary or creepy. Have you read any of these? What scares you?

Review: Night Film | A Must-Read Mystery

night-filmNight Film by Marisha Pessl
Published: 30.01.2014 by Windmill Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 5/5 stars – ★★★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

Driven by revenge, curiosity, and a need for the truth, McGrath, with the aid of two strangers, is drawn deeper and deeper into Cordova’s eerie, hypnotic world.

review

I’ve had this book on my shelf for such a long time. I bought it at least a year ago at a book fest near me, because it was only like €4. I’ve been in a mystery/crime/thriller mood lately, so I thought it was time to pick this up. Especially with the #spookathon that was happening. I actually read it during the readathon, and flew through it. It exceeded my expectations by far. 

I don’t really want to say too much about the plot, because you need to dive into this mystery knowing as little as possible. All you need to know is that a woman called Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in New York. Her death is ruled a suicide, but investigative journalist Scott McGrath doesn’t believe that. Ashley is the daughter of one of the most famous movie directors in the world, Stanislas Cordova. He’s also the most elusive, as no one even knows what he looks like. His movies are banned because they are so trippy and horrific, that they are watched in underground showings. 

This book was so eerie and atmospheric. There is this whole horror-vibe because of the Cordova family, and I was immersed. Honestly, I couldn’t put it down. This book also includes mixed media. It’s not just text, but has pictures, police reports, websites, text messages, etc. in it. That just made the mystery that much more realistic, in my opinion. I felt like I was an investigative journalist too, gathering evidence alongside Scott.

I read this 500-page book in 2 days, and that’s only because I had stuff to do on the first day so I couldn’t continue then. I just had to know what happened to Ashley, what would happen to Scott. What is the truth? Is the truth an interpretation?

I think the author just captured the atmosphere of the story so well. Because it’s all about this elusive family and their horror/cult movies and following, you want this story to feel like a horror story too. And it did. It felt trippy, weird and horrifying all at once. I didn’t just question whether the main character was starting to lose his mind and see things, I started wondering whether I was too. I couldn’t even distinguish reality from suspicion or interpretation at one point, which just makes me tip my imaginary hat to the author. 

I think this is an incredible mystery novel, and everyone should read it. The mixed formats make it more realistic, and truly make you feel part of the investigation. The characters are complex and interesting -and I don’t just mean Ashley. They all are.

2 Mystery Mini Reviews | Call After Midnight & The Silkworm

call-after-midnightCall After Midnight by Tess Gerritsen
Published: 01.01.1987 by Mira
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: Newlywed Sarah Fontaine must join forces with special agent Nick O’Hara to find her husband Geoffrey, who is presumed dead, and as they journey to Europe to discover the truth, they become the pawns in a deadly game of espionage.

review

I bought a copy of this in a secondhand shop in Dublin because a) it was super cheap and b) I love Tess Gerritsen’s mysteries. And it seemed to be about 300-330 pages at first. Until I realized that the last 60 or so pages are previews of two of her other books.

This book only has like 250 pages! For a mystery book, I feel like that’s difficult. In my opinion, a mystery needs time to develop and build the tension, and this book lacked in that department because of the length. 

In general though, I quite liked the mystery. It starts with an assassin murdering an assassin. And then Sarah gets a call. Her husband has been found dead in a hotel in Berlin. Only Sarah thought he was in London. She doesn’t believe he died, and wants to find out what happened -which is where Nick O’Hara from the U.S. State Department comes in. I had fun with the mystery -even though I had to suspend my disbelief at times.

The biggest reason I only gave this book 3 stars -aside from the length- is the romance, and how prevalent it was. First of all, Sarah had only married Geoffrey 2 or 3 months ago. She had only known him for 6 months. How do you marry someone you’ve only known for 6 months? That aside, she discovers some things about Geoffrey that make her believe she never really knew him. (I’ll try to hold in my DUH! here). And that’s where the romance with Nick starts. And I feel bad for not liking the romance, because I LOVED Nick’s character. He was an honest, smart and kind person. But you can’t fall out of love with someone in a few days, and fall in love with an entirely new person! Especially when you are a) so dependent on the new person and b) he must be intertwined with your husband’s tragedy in your mind.


the-silkwormThe Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith
Published: 19.06.2014 by Sphere

Genre: Mystery, Crime
Rating: 4/5 stars – ★★★★
Goodreads

Synopsis: When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced. 

review

I didn’t particularly love the first book in this series, so I didn’t purchase the books. And I was kind of hesitant to continue. But a few weeks ago I went to my local library, and saw a copy of it there. I’ve been in a mystery/thriller mood lately so I figured I’d give it another try. And I really enjoyed this one! 

First of all, I loved the mystery in this book. It included the publishing/author world, which is always a plus to me. It’s about this author who goes missing -and his wife asks Cormoran to find him and bring him home. Along the way, you discover more about Owen and his works. He seems like a horrible person, and not that great of an author either, so there are many people who can be seen a suspects. By the end of the book, I didn’t even feel sorry for him anymore. I thought that he kind of deserved what happened to him -although maybe not in such detail… I never guessed who was behind the crime, so I was completely taken by surprise at the end. 

Then, there are the characters. I think that my biggest problem with the first book is that I didn’t connect to Cormoran at all. I found him much more relatable in this book. I was most definitely rooting for him: not just because he was helping this old and lonely woman, but also because he’s not afraid to stick it to those he hates/doesn’t respect. I also love Robin, his assistant, so I was glad to see her take a big(ish) role in this book. I hate Matthew though, can we just get rid of him? I feel like he doesn’t respect her enough. 

I was so pleasantly surprised by this book! I’ll definitely pick up the third book on my next trip to the library. 

Review: Damage Done

damage doneDamage Done by Amanda Panitch
Published: 21.07.2015 by Random House Children’s
Genre: Mystery, YA
Rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads | Bookdepository

I received this book for free from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after. Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend. After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

review

First, I’ll say that I redacted the synopsis from Goodreads before adding it here. I feel like you’ll get even more from this story if you only know what is said above.

PLOT

Don’t worry, I won’t mention anything from the actual story line here. I feel like this is one of those books that works best if you know almost nothing about it. That way, you just go in without prejudice, following the Julia’s story. 

Let me just say that I absolutely loved the story line of this book. It really made an impression on me, as a YA mystery-thriller. And no, I didn’t put the YA there in a derogatory manner. I just meant that while I have been creeped out by some adult thrillers and TV shows, I’m not easily creeped out. Yet this book made me uncomfortable at times, made me cringe and grimace. It’s an impressive feat, in my opinion. 

I was captivated by this story. I kept reading for a while, instead of studying -oops- and finished within a few hours. I did guess some of the big twists after a while but the ending and true plot still managed to surprise me. 

CHARACTERS

I don’t really know whether there’s anything I can truly say about the characters. I’ll only talk about Julia because that’s the only person mentioned in the synopsis.

So, Julia. I don’t know how to feel about her. I was on an emotional roller coaster with regards to this character while reading. I loved her, I disliked her, I admired her, I felt bad for her. All of those things, I felt within a few hours. I did write one status update while reading this, when I was at about 30%, saying: “I don’t like how she emotionally manipulated her best friend into driving her somewhere”. That’s definitely true. All the relationships in this books are so grey-area. They are good, yet have some really bad aspects to them. 

The only thing I’ll say, is that I’m disappointed in the role of the parents. Like, really. What’s the matter with you two? 


I would highly recommend this mystery novel. If you pick it up, don’t read more of the synopsis that I showed you. It won’t spoil you, but it may take away some of the added mystery. It was a captivating read, that made me cringe and grimace all the way through.