• Book Review

    The Villa by Rachel Hawkins | Book Review

    The Villa by Rachel Hawkins | Book ReviewThe Villa by Rachel Hawkins
    Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group on January 3, 2023
    Genres: Fiction / Gothic
    Pages: 288
    Format: eBook

    As kids, Emily and Chess were inseparable. But by their 30s, their bond has been strained by the demands of their adult lives. So when Chess suggests a girls trip to Italy, Emily jumps at the chance to reconnect with her best friend.

    Villa Aestas in Orvieto is a high-end holiday home now, but in 1974, it was known as Villa Rosato, and rented for the summer by a notorious rock star, Noel Gordon. In an attempt to reignite his creative spark, Noel invites up-and-coming musician, Pierce Sheldon to join him, as well as Pierce’s girlfriend, Mari, and her stepsister, Lara. But he also sets in motion a chain of events that leads to Mari writing one of the greatest horror novels of all time, Lara composing a platinum album––and ends in Pierce’s brutal murder.

    As Emily digs into the villa’s complicated history, she begins to think there might be more to the story of that fateful summer in 1974. That perhaps Pierce’s murder wasn’t just a tale of sex, drugs, and rock & roll gone wrong, but that something more sinister might have occurred––and that there might be clues hidden in the now-iconic works that Mari and Lara left behind.

    Yet the closer that Emily gets to the truth, the more tension she feels developing between her and Chess. As secrets from the past come to light, equally dangerous betrayals from the present also emerge––and it begins to look like the villa will claim another victim before the summer ends.

    Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the infamous summer Percy and Mary Shelley spent with Lord Byron at a Lake Geneva castle––the birthplace of Frankenstein––The Villa welcomes you into its deadly legacy.

    I’m not sure what happened here but I feel like the author was off her game with this one. I’ve really enjoyed most of Hawkins’ books in the past. I was a massive fan of her YA Hex Hall series back in the day, and was thrilled (ha) to see she was going to tackle the thriller genre next. I liked her previous thrillers. This one… not so much. It didn’t feel like a thriller at all, more of a domestic suspense, perhaps? I’m really struggling to categorise it.

    I found the whole thing to be very boring, and not only did it have flashbacks scenes that I just didn’t care about, it also had the dreaded “novel within a novel”, which I HATE. I’m disappointed in this one!

  • Book Review

    People to Follow by Olivia Worley | Book Review

    People to Follow by Olivia Worley | Book ReviewPeople to Follow by Olivia Worley
    Published by St. Martin's Publishing Group on October 31, 2023
    Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Thrillers & Suspense / Psychological
    Pages: 352
    Format: eBook

    In Olivia Worley's pitch-perfect debut, People to Follow, ten teen influencers come to a remote island to star in a reality show, but when one of them winds up dead, they realize that this time, the price of getting “cancelled” could be their lives.

    A reality show on a remote Caribbean island. Ten teen influencers. One dead body.

    Welcome to “In Real Life,” the hot new reality show that forces social media’s reigning kings and queens to unplug for three weeks and “go live” without any filters. IRL is supposed to be the opportunity of a lifetime, watched closely by legions of loyal followers. But for these rising stars--including Elody, an Instagram model with an impulsive streak; Kira, a child star turned fitness influencer; Logan, a disgraced TikTok celeb with a secret; and Max, a YouTuber famous for exposés on his fellow creators--it’s about to turn into a nightmare.

    When the production crew fails to show up and one of their own meets a violent end, these social media moguls find themselves stranded with a dead body and no way to reach the outside world. When they start receiving messages from a mysterious Sponsor threatening to expose their darkest secrets, they realize that they’ve been lured into a deadly game...and one of them might be pulling the strings.

    With the body count rising and cameras tracking their every move, the creators must figure out who is trying to get them canceled--like, literally--before their #1 follower strikes again.

    People to Follow is a fun, fast paced thriller in which influencers are dropping dead left and right on a remote island. I had so much fun trying to figure out who was behind the murders, and this reminded me a lot of the vibe of Bodies Bodies Bodies (although less sarcastic and on the nose) with young people running around a mansion on a private island.

    There are multiple points of view in this book, which I feel was the only downside. I would have preferred to have focused on just one or two characters, but there were four POVs in total and it all got a bit much because they all sounded the same. I don’t think thrillers generally need more than two POVs.

    I read this book in pretty much one sitting and that’s how you can tell it’s a decent thriller book! I’ll be adding this one to my list of recommendations.