Mini Book Reviews: My Dark Vanessa | The Other Passenger | One Step Behind | Who Did You Tell?

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

This was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and it absolutely lived up to my hopes for it! It follows Vanessa both in the present day and in the past when she had a relationship with her teacher Jacob Straynewhile she was still a student. Vanessa hears that a woman who went to the same school has accused Strayne of grooming and abusing her and she wants Vanessa to also come forward. She is stunned because she believes her and Strayne were in a loving relationship. As the novel progresses it’s very uncomfortable to read how Strayne clearly groomed Vanessa, and to see how she viewed it as a mutual attraction. It’s also hard to read how she has remained friends with him in all the years since. Over the course of the book Vanessa is forced to confront what happened between her and Strayne and it’s devastating. This book is so stunningly written and it never shies away from the reality of what happened to Vanessa. This is a book that will really stay with me and I highly recommend it.

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish

I love Louise Candlish’s writing so have been looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint! The novel follows Jamie and his wife Claire, and a younger couple they become friends with, Kit and Melia. Claire and Jamie live in a big posh house that Claire inherited but Kit is obsessed with money and status. The novel opens with Jamie being questioned as Kit has disappeared and it seems he was the last person to see him. The timeline then goes back and forth between the present day and the year previous when the two men first met and became friends. This novel is increasingly dark and twisted and I loved that! Everyone in this book seems to be obsessed with status and where they are in relation to others which makes them so unlikeable and yet fascinating at the same time. Nothing is quite as it seems with this one, it keeps you guessing! I recommend it!

One Step Behind by Lauren North

I read and loved Lauren North’s previous novel The Perfect Betrayal so I was excited to read her new one. This book follows two women – Jenna and Sophie. Jenna is a busy A&E doctor and mum of two. She seems to have a perfect life but now someone is stalking her. She is increasingly anxious about the stalker and tries to find out more about them. Then one day he arrives in A&E after a serious accident and she is the doctor in charge. She has to decide if she’s treat him like any other patient or take matters into her own hands. Sophie is feeling increasingly trapped in her relationship. She loves the apartment they share but her boyfriend is tracking her movements and wanting her to account for where she has been every minute of the day. I was curious if the two women’s lives would interconnect and what would happen with Jenna’s stalker. I was gripped by this one and found it a fast-paced read. The first half is quite a slow-build and then the book starts accelerating – I really liked this pacing, it made me feel like I was trapped in this situation with Jenna. I recommend this one!

Who Did You Tell? by Lesley Kara

I’ve previously read and loved The Rumour by this author so was looking forward to this one, and I did really enjoy it. It follows Astrid who is a recovering alcoholic and as a result of her problems is back living with her mum. She joins a local AA meeting and there meets two women – Rosie and Helen. She hits it off with one but is quickly suspicious of the other. She also soon feels like she is being followed and watched. I do love an unreliable narrator so loved how I wasn’t always sure about whether Astrid was telling us the truth of what happened. I enjoyed seeing Astrid trying to make a new life for herself and felt for her when she agonised over how much of her past she should reveal, and when. I did see where this book was going from early on but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment as I was keen to know if Astrid was going to be okay in the end. Plus there was more than meets the eye when the denouement does come!


36 thoughts on “Mini Book Reviews: My Dark Vanessa | The Other Passenger | One Step Behind | Who Did You Tell?

  1. Isn’t it great when a book you’re really looking forward to actually lives up to its promise, Hayley? I’m always happy when the next book by an author I like is as good as the book before. And these sound suspenseful and well-plotted!

  2. I like Louise Candlish, so The Other Passenger is going on my list. I also couldn’t stop reading My Dark Vanessa, even though it was dark and a bit disturbing.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you 🙂 They were all great reads, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
      Ha! Yes definitely still friends. Newcastle are doing what they always do and falling apart. I really hope Watford can push on now and stay up. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you. xx

        • I don’t understand them sacking him either, it seemed ridiculous with two games to go at that point and when he hadn’t lost the dressing room. I see tonight didn’t go well… I’ll keep everything crossed for you on Sunday. xx

          • I think he had a fall out with the board. It’s really shocking. But let’s hope next season in the championship we have a squad of players who want to play for the team. It’s crazy. I hope we stay up but we have Arsenal 🤦🏻‍♀️ xx

          • It’s such a shame. I know, I think you have the hardest game of the three teams that could go down. You never know though… I’m going to be a Watford fan for the day and will be cheering your team on. xx

          • I was gutted for you on Sunday – I was willing Watford on and they gave such a good fight in that last game. I hope our teams meet again in the premier league (I suspect if the takeover doesn’t happen that we’ll be relegated next season). x

          • I hope you don’t get relegated! Plus there are always cup games LOL. It is a shame but when you watch our players, half of them had already started thinking about leaving and had no spark. Bar a few players we would have been dead in the water xx

          • That’s true! 🙂 Takeover is off so I expect half of our players to be gone before the new season. I know what it was like in the seasons when we were on the verge of relegation, it’s horrible when you can see half the players have already left in their own minds. Who’d be a football fan eh?! xx

          • I come from a long line of rugby players and fans but I can’t stand it. Definitely rather be a football fan! lol I’m so sick of the rubbish owner at Newcastle, I want to say I’m done with it until he’s gone but it’s so hard when you’re such a fan of the sport and have supported a team for so many years. Urgh! Thank you 🙂 xx

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