Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

Before I go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

This is a much-hyped thriller debut, that has been reviewed by several bloggers and got high praises. I think it got a bit more hype than is warranted. Nevertheless this is a great novel that deserves 5 stars anyway.

According to the cover of the book, the movie rights have been sold to Ridley Scott. Which means that a movie may or may not be made of this book in the near or far future. I think it would make a great movie!

Before I Go To Sleep: What it is about

Christine wakes up every morning not knowing were she is and who the man is next to her in bed. Every morning she learns anew that she’s had an accident years ago and can only retain memories of one day. As soon as she goes to sleep, she forgets everything again.

Unbeknownst to her husband Ben, she is in contact with a doctor, a neurologist, who is trying to help her improve her memory. He calls her every morning to tell her she has a journal hidden in her closet, which she reads and adds to. She also meets with the doctor every few days.

Through the journal, she realises that she sometimes has memories from the past and by reading the journal each morning she learns about herself and her past. She discovers that there is something strange going on. Her husband doesn’t seem to tell the truth about certain events. Is this just to protect her from learning about dramatic situations? Or is it so he himself doesn’t have to keep telling her the same stories over again?

Whilst this book starts off in a quiet way, eventually it turns into a thriller where Christine’s life isn’t safe.

Before I Go To Sleep: What I thought

I almost gave this book 4 stars, because it didn’t live up to the hype. But after careful thinking, I decided that wasn’t fair. The book was very good, but not quite as I expected. The thrilling element only started towards the end of the book. Early on, it was clear that some things didn’t make sense, but they were easily explained away. So, rather than sitting on the edge of my seat from the start (so to speak), which I had expected, I read a beautiful book about a woman with a memory problem and her attempts to find out more about the past.

The book is very well written and although the individual entries in the journal are a bit long (I wouldn’t think she’d have the time to write that much on a day), they told me all I wanted to know and nothing more. In other words, it never became boring.

I did some courses on memory during my psychology study so this topic is extra interesting for me. At first, the memory loss that Christine had seemed improbable to me, but then the doctor in the book actually said how rare Christine’s situation was, and so, it immediately was believable again!

I found it strange that Christine didn’t have much of a drive to do anything during her days, but later realised that she was busy enough figuring out who she was, etc. I wondered whether she chose the same clothes from the wardrobe every day as she wouldn’t know what she’d worn the day before.

A fast and good read, very believable. Only the end was a little too convenient for my taste.

Rating: 5/5 stars

I got this book: free from Harper publishers (ARC)

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 360

First published: 2011 (June)

Genre: thriller

Extras: There is a facebook page for this book and there may be another facebook page with excerpts of the book (that page didn’t work for me, but you try!).


Goodreads Choice Awards: Don’t Forget To Vote

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Vote now for your favorite books!

Have you voted yet for the Goodreads Choice Awards? You can nominate your favorite book of 2011 or vote for books that have been nominated already. You can do so until coming Sunday:

Opening Round: October 31 – November 13, 2011
Voting open to 15 official nominees, and write-in votes can be placed for any eligible book.

After that,

Semifinals: November 14 – November 20, 2011
The top 5 write-in votes in each category become official nominees. You can vote for one of the now 20 nominees in each category. Additional write-ins no longer accepted.

Finals: November 21 – November 30, 2011
The field narrows to the top 10 books in each category, and you have one last chance to vote.

Winners will be announced in December.

I’ve voted, though not in all categories, as in some categories I hadn’t read any (good) books. There are about 20 categories and you can vote in as many or as few as you like.

Lifting the veil:

  • I voted for State of Wonder (Ann Patchett) in the Favorite Book of 2011 category. In hindsight, there were a few other books that I could have nominated but of the books that were already nominated, this was my favorite.
  • In Mystery & Thriller, I voted for Before I Go To Sleep (S. J. Watson). It was already listed, but this was definitely my favorite thriller anyway.
  • In Science Fiction, I voted for When She Woke (Hillary Jordan) (no relation to the book above!).
How about you? Have you voted?

Book Review: The Book of You by Claire Kendal

The Book of You by Claire KendalThe Book of You: What it is about

From the publishers: “His name is Rafe, and he is everywhere Clarissa turns. At the university where she works. Her favorite sewing shop. The train station. Outside her apartment. His messages choke her voice mail; his gifts litter her mailbox. Since that one regrettable night, his obsession with her has grown, becoming more terrifying with each passing day. And as Rafe has made clear, he will never let her go.

Clarissa’s only escape from this harrowing nightmare is inside a courtroom—where she is a juror on a trial involving a victim whose experiences eerily parallel her own. There she finds some peace and even makes new friends, including an attractive widower named Robert, whose caring attentions make her feel desired and safe. But as a disturbingly violent crime unfolds in the courtroom, Clarissa realizes that to survive she must expose Rafe herself. Conceiving a plan, she begins collecting the evidence of Rafe’s madness to use against him—a record of terror that will force her to relive every excruciating moment she desperately wants to forget. Proof that will reveal the twisted, macabre fairy tale that Rafe has spun around them . . . with an ending more horrifying than her darkest fears.”

The Book of You: What I thought

A very good read, scary from the start. Not that Rafe, the stalker, is doing anything threatening, but he’s just so creepy. He follows Clarissa around, knows exactly where she will be at certain times. Only the court room where she is a juror in a court case is a place where she can escape him.

I found the guy so creepy and unbelievably persistent. Thinking about it, I could not imagine anyone to be that openly a stalker, but in the story, it did feel believable. A little less believable was the fact that Clarissa didn’t want to take any action (e.g., go to the police) until she had a good case against Rafe. She had read in some leaflets about stalkers what you needed to do before going to the police. I thought she was taking that a step too far. It made the story unnecessary scary because Rafe, meanwhile, does become threatening. Also, why didn’t Clarissa go online to talk with other victims of stalkers or ask for advice?

Even so, the story is an engaging read. I had to know how this would end. The court case is about a woman who is a victim of men in a different way, and the statements from the victim and the witnesses have an impact on how Clarissa sees her own case. The scenes in the court room are moments of reflection for Clarissa and time away from Rafe. For the reader, these moments of relative quiet were also pleasant. They slowed down the main story, but not in an annoying way. It was interesting to see how Clarissa thought about the trial.

According to the publisher, this is a book for readers who loved Before I Go to Sleep, The Silent Wife, and Into the Darkest CornerI read the first and the last, and I do agree. If you liked those, you’ll love this one, too.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (good to very good)

Number of pages: 368

First published: 2014

I got this: from the publishers, Harper

Genre: thriller

 

The Best Books of 2012

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I’ve read 203 books in 2012. I had a great year with some wonderful books. How to choose the best ones? I made a list of all 5 star books I reviewed in 2012 and then crossed off books until I ended up with a number of books that I all found equally good, in their own way.

So, here are the books I consider my best fiction reads for 2012, in no particular order – except for the first one: Ready Player One is standing out for me as a book I lived rather than loved. In the days that I was reading the book, even when I was doing other things, the characters in the book stayed alive for me in a sort-of alternate universe. Only when I’d finished the book I could shake off this feeling. In other words, it totally got under my skin. That, for me, is a great book.

Click on the titles to see my reviews

Overall favorite of 2012:

Ready Player One by Ernest ClineReady Player One by Ernest Cline. Science fiction.

This book is about a world in which most people use an online system, OASIS, for their daily living. Wade Watts is 18 years old and spends all his time there. He’s looking for a treasure that has been left behind by the inventor of OASIS.

Through playing old-fashioned computer games and movies, he gets closer to the treasure, but the powerful Sixes, who work in a large team, are on his tail. They will stop at nothing to get to the treasure.

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Other favorites in no particular order:

Mudbound by Hillary JordanWaterline by Ross RaisinThe Death of Bees by Lisa O'DonnellThe Univited Guests by Sadie Jones

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. Historical fiction. Laura moves from the city to an isolated farm in the 1940s, that her husband wants to run. But Laura is culture-shocked. Their tenants are black sharecroppers, and things turn sour when the son comes back from the war in Europe, where he was treated as an equal.

Waterline by Ross Raisin. Literary fiction. A newly widowed man can’t stand staying in the house where he lived with his wife. When he also loses his job he decides to leave. His circumstances deteriorate rapidly.

The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell. Contemporary fiction. Two teenage girls bury their parents in the back garden and try to get on with life. With the death of their neglective parents, it seems the girls’ lives are improving, but what will happen when the bodies are found, as they inevitably will?

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones. Historical fiction. Early 1900s and the impoverished occupants of a country manor aren’t happy to find a group of stranded rail travellers on their doorstep.

Heaven and Hell by Jón Kalman Stefánsson.  Historical fiction, literary fiction. A beautiful story about a twenty-year old boy who loses his best friend when they are out at sea finishing in the dark, freezing, sea near Iceland

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling. Contemporary fiction. A death in the parish council leaves a small town in search for a new candidate. Many people get involved.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. Contemporary fiction. A woman lives in small-town Appalachia where nothing much happens, until she finds a large colony of butterflies in the woods. The whole world comes to her small town.

Room by Emma Donoghue. Contemporary fiction. A little boy and his mother have been spending years in a room, kidnapped by a man. Will they ever escape?

Heaven and Hell by Jón Kalman StéfanssonThe Casual Vacancy by J. K. RowlingFlight Behavior by Barbara KingsolverRoom by Emma Donoghue

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Mystery/Thriller

Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen. A well-known female politician was captured five years ago and put in a concrete prison. Detective Carl Mork and his Syrian cleaner are solving cold cases and end up on the trail of the kidnappers.

Before I Go to Sleep by S. L. Watson. (re-read) A woman wakes up every morning not remembering who she is and who the man next to her in bed is.

Mercy by Jussi Adler-OlsenBefore I go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

Nonfiction:

The Discovery of Jeanne Baret by Glynis Ridley. History. In the 1760s, a young French peasant woman sails around the world dressed as a man. Jeanne Baret travels as the assistant of the botanist Philibert Commerson, with whom she has had a relationship that started when they worked together in France.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. When the hurricane Katrina hits, a man stays behind in New Orleans to look after people, animals and houses.

Between a Rock and a Hot Place by Tracey Jackson. Fifty is not the new thirty and Tracey Jackson tells you why.

The Discovery of Jeanne Baret by Glynis RidleyZeitoun by Dave EggersBetween a Rock and a Hot Place by Tracey Jackson

Are any of these books your favorites too?

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