Cover Image: Apartment 303

Apartment 303

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Member Reviews

This one is slow burn, not romantically, but with the tension building the psychological suspense. I am not the biggest fan of an unreliable narrator, but this was well written, a page turner and had interesting characters, but for me it was a bit too slow, and the suspenseful moments and resolutions were a little too late in the story. You know things are going to be held back in a psychological suspense book, but when they are held back until the very end makes it feel not as suspenseful and that it just wraps up quickly, which I think was a bit of a let-down for me.

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This book has been one that had been sitting on my list to read for a while as the cover caught my attention after reading Riley Sager's Lock Every Door. This book is set in an apartment building as well. In Apartment 303 lives Rory Johnson who is suffering from PTSD and OCD, it is so bad that she also has slight agoraphobia. With her trauma, she believes that when people get too close to her, they die and that it's all her fault. That is until she meets two of her fellow neighbours Farrah and Simon. The pair of them get to know Rory and soon she finds herself opening up and having the desire to become part of society once again. That is until she spots her father on a surveillance video, how can that be when he is dead? Rory is convinced it's her dad and he is after her as she starts to smell triggers in her apartment like cigarette smoke etc. As the book goes along though, we notice that Rory's aunt Lucinda is determined a bit too much to have Rory stay in the comfort of her own home and not get any better. She is also quite dismissive of Rory, which makes me think there is more to the story. When bits and pieces of Rory's life start to come to light and certain memories, she regains her confidence to finally stand up for herself. However, someone close to Rory doesn't want that to happen and will even go as far as to kill her and those around Rory. Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins was a fast-paced book and a great psychological thriller which has made me now want to go back and read Kelli's backlist of books.

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I really enjoyed Hawkins’s debut, Other People’s Houses, so I grabbed this when it was available on Netgalley (thanks to them and Harper Collins for my copy).

The book is told completely from the first person POV of Rory who has rarely left her apartment building in about five years. With hints of Rear Window, Rory has a telescope set up on her verandah with a view of a homeless camp opposite her building. When one of the men is murdered, Rory suspects it had something to do with her and her history with her abusive father.

I think the book overall was much better than the much lauded Woman in the Window which, most likely, it will be compared to. Unlike the characters in that book, however, Rory and her mates are all very likeable. Also unlike that book the plot, and the direction it takes to escalate the tension, never felt far fetched.

I’ve had to temper this review - spoilers! - but one thing I will say is that I thought a few outcomes were fairly obvious from early on and, unfortunately, that’s probably what shaved off a star from my rating.

I still really enjoyed the book though. It’s a definite page turner. I read it in record time. Be prepared to sit up late in the night to get to the end.

4 out of 5

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This one had me enthralled from the moment I started reading! Rory is 26 and is basically a prisoner in her small Sydney apartment thanks to her OCD and PTSD. With only a small group of people she trusts, Rory's manages her disorders by walking her dog Buster on the roof of the apartment block, making paper cranes and watching the homeless people in the building next door. Rory's safe existence is threatened when she suspects someone from her past is watching her. Then Buster disappears and one of her friends is attacked. This one kept me guessing as to who the culprit was. A very enjoyable read.

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Rory never leaves her apartment and lives with her little dog Buster. When her young neighbour Farrah comes over to introduce herself, they soon become fast friends but someone and something sinister is after Rory and those she's closest too. The story is a slow burn and I was thrilled throughout. Love love love!

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Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins is captivating story that had me spellbound.

Rory lives with her little dog, Buster, in a third floor apartment in Sydney Australia. She suffers from mental health issues and avoids people as much as possible. Rory thinks she is safe but starts to question where she is and what she is doing. The journey that Rory undertakes is a struggle and the reader becomes mesmerised by her and her situation.

The story is well developed and there a range of characters that enhance the story. In particular Rory’s neighbour Simon and new found young friend Farrah become integral to the plot’s development. Rory’s aunt Lucinda adds a bit of spice and Ron the doorman at the apartment complex adds humour and positivity. The story builds slowly but the climax is very exciting and unexpected.

An enjoyable read.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from HarperCollins Publishers Australia via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#Apartment303 #NetGalley

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Thankyou to Netgalley, the publisher and Kelli Hawinks for allowing me to read this ARC.
This is my first title by this author but will be reading more from her.
I thought the story line was unique and that's what drew me in.
I like the look of the front cover and thought it looked cool!
I enjoyed the short chapters and found them quick and easy to read.
I felt like the author describes the story so well that i can imagine the apartment myself and found it to very realistic.
I enjoy the twists and turns that have you guessing and enjoyed the ending.
Thankyou again.
5/5 stars.

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I knew I had to read Kelli’s new book as soon I heard she wrote another one and I wasn't disappointed.

Rory lives in a high security apartment building in Sydney with her companion dog Buster. For her safety and also because she has OCD, PTSD, and anxiety she doesn’t leave the apartment very often or at all. Rory is a watcher and always enjoys looking in at the homeless people across the road and has some amazing nicknames for them all (some I had a few giggles about). A murder of one of the homeless men makes Rory on edge, especially when other things start happening and don't add up.

What I enjoyed:
* Slow burn thriller with a curve ball at the end.
* The apartment setting was written perfectly and it painted a picture for the story.
* I found the chapters nice and quick to read.
* I absolutely adored the friendship Rory has with Farrah.

Thank you Harper Collins Australia and Netgalley for a gifted copy of this book for my honest book review.

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I received an advance copy of Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins as well as a final copy so I gave my mother the former to read before I got to it... and she read it very very quickly (within a day, while I was with her) and loved it.

I very much enjoyed this novel and Hawkins does a great job at muddying the already-murky waters of Rory's life with a misdirection or three. On one hand I kinda guessed who was up to some of the nefarious exploits (given they seemed to have an agenda of sorts), but I certainly didn't guess why, or how they played out against other elements of the plot. Hawkins is able to keep threads completely hidden, revealing them just when we think we've got it worked out.

But what I really loved about this book by Hawkins is how sympathetically she presents Rory's character and her mental illness. There are some labels thrown about but we learn she doesn't leave her apartment and takes her beloved dog to the rooftop of her apartment building to walk laps. How many laps depends on a range of factors... but always configured with some meaning, to Rory.

She thinks her compulsive behaviour is getting better until the murder of a homeless man across the street. And it's then she believes she sees her father who disappeared over a decade before. As is often the case - it's the bad (the murder and memories of her father and family) combined with the good (a  friendly 14 year old teenager who develops a delightful and supportive friendship with Rory as well as a new neighbour Simon) that push her out of her comfort zone and to the precipice of change: for better or worse.

I'm not particularly visual but Hawkins is able to describe the 'glowing pylons' of the Sydney Harbour bridge and the shadows the skyscrapers cast over the car-park turned tent city for homeless people opposite Rory's apartment building. I also enjoyed the way Rory gives the men names (Skinny Santa, Slouchy Ricky Gervais) and backstories - imagining their once-different lives. Like her own, I guess.

As I mentioned, I'd kinda guessed at part of this, but it's far more complex than I'd expected and I liked that Hawkins doesn't offer us something too simplistic as it's not always about good and evil. Sometimes it's more ethically challenging when there's no one person to blame, or when someone feels they're doing the right thing, but it ultimately doesn't turn out that way.

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I very much enjoyed the author's first two books, so I was looking forward to her latest work. Unfortunately this one didn't really hit the mark for me. I found it a very slow burn and felt the action started fairly late in the book. I did keep those pages turning at speed though, because I really wanted to see where the story was going, so the suspense was good. The ending fell a bit flat for me, however.

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Having loved Kelli Hawkins last two offerings I was beyond excited to get my hands on Apartment 303. It certainly didn’t disappoint, starting off as a slow burn through the first half we learn of Rory, a young woman suffering from OCD and post traumatic stress disorder. The scene is set with a murder outside her apartment and who might be responsible, and as the story heats up the pace moves with it.

The second half had me flipping pages to get to the conclusion as everything seemed to explode at once. How does it all tie in and is Rory safe in her apartment watching it all unfold? Apartment 303 is a terrific thriller and one that will have you reading long into the night. Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Collins AU for this early reading copy.

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“Left, right, left. Breathe.”

What a fascinating book Apartment 303 has turned out to be. This is a powerful story of strength over adversity, courage and determination plus a willingness to accept ones faults, face them down and fight on regardless. Heroes come in many guises and Rory Campbell displays true fighting spirit all the while struggling to leave the sanctuary of apartment 303 in the Panorama building.

But remember, this is a crime novel, so while you’re enjoying the way in which Rory copes through her fears there is, somewhere along the way, a crime being committed and it will have serious consequences.

Rory is a recluse. She’s 26 years old and suffers from a form of OCD triggered by a traumatic event that is also a type of PTSD. She lives almost exclusively within her apartment in inner-city Sydney with her companion dog Buster. Counting, finger tapping, constantly checking the oven hasn’t been left on and that the doors have been locked are the norm as she gets on with her days.

She works for her private investigator aunt, Lucinda, compiling agents' notes into more readable formats and likes to keep an eye on the homeless who bed down across the road from her apartment. Although she has developed for herself a relatively comfortable, predictable lifestyle safely hidden away in her apartment, she is troubled by nightmares from her past. When she hears that one of the homeless men from across the road has been murdered, all of the triggers to her fears are fired. She could be at risk of unraveling all of the progress she’s made with the past traumas perhaps coming back to plague her.

This is a moving story of a woman simply trying to overcome the demons in her mind, determined to live as normal a life as possible. The fact that this is a first person narrative and we get a real sense that she is constantly being deceived by the sneering voice inside her head means we kind of have to take what we’re being told with a grain of salt.

Apartment 303 is a finely crafted suspense story that, first, provides just enough background to become invested in the main characters. These characters include 14 year old Farrah, who lives directly above Rory, and Simon, who has just moved into the apartment next door. They appear to be valuable allies, providing great support for the fragile Rory.

For the majority of the story, we get a building sense of danger that emanates from Rory’s first person narrative. The fear that her father, an abusive man, may have found her, the unease caused by the new doorman who just “seems a bit off”, Lucinda’s new boyfriend, Alex, who stands too close when he talks to her. All of these things may be nothing, but then again, they could be something terribly sinister.

In slow building novels of suspense, solid character development is important and that’s where Kelli Hawkins succeeds. From Harold, the homeless man living across the road to the wonderfully caring Ron, the downstairs security guard, they are each well described and given an authentic voice. It would do well to understand that there are no unimportant characters in this story.

The twists, when they came, were sprung with commendable deftness, bringing together quite an array of seemingly unrelated threads to create a tightly woven, and somewhat sordid, plot of betrayal.

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5/5 🌟

Thanks to Netgallery and HarperCollins AU for an ARC of Kelli Hawkins’ Apartment 303.

I originally was not 100% sure if I’d get into this one as I did struggle with one of Hawkins’ previous novels. However, this one really grabbed me through the description of the plot, so I thought why not give Hawkins another go.

I must say I am glad I did, as while it was a slower pace than what I usually would read, it definitely built suspense. In addition, Hawkins has definitely continued to improve the character development and as such I really enjoyed Rory’s character. I really love a good psychological thriller and we see this through being placed behind the main narrator Rory who comes across as an unreliable yet fierce narrator. Not only did we get to explore Rory’s experience of the world around her as she tries to overcome fears and past trauma, we also get to see her very cute companion Buster who is well written in the story. I found this novel had me wanting more, guessing what would happen next and was hard to put down!

Also as a senior educator I would love to use extracts of this to show my senior students how to build psychological characters, and this would be a really great example they could easily access.

Keep your eyes out as this is being published on March 8!

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Rory suffers from OCD, anxiety and PTSD and does not leave her apartment block at all. When a homeless man is murdered across the street, Rory is convinced someone from her past is to blame. 

Here's another buddy read that most of us completely failed at. We had a schedule but the majority of us were so into this book that we ended up reading on and finishing well before the scheduled end date. Kelli Hawkins has written another entertaining thriller that had me turning the pages at rapid speed because I was so keen to find out what was going to happen next. Highly recommend!

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I was sucked into this psychological thriller instantly and barely paused as I devoured it. I didn't know who to trust, including our protagonist, right up until it all came together at the end.
Well done, Kelli Hawkins, on another devourable aussie thriller.

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This is the first Kelli Hawkins book I've read, and I enjoyed it very much. It's a slow-burn thriller, but it's also a page-turner. I needed to know what was going to happen at the end. It had me staying up late to finish it. That's the sign of a great thriller.

The main character, Rory, is suffering from OCD, PTSD, and anxiety. She doesn't like to leave her apartment, which is a small apartment is a very secure building in inner Sydney. I won't go into all the details of how she has the apartment, or why she has PTSD. That detail is an important part of the plot, so it's best if you discover it yourself. While having a main character who is housebound is not new, it has become a bit of a trope, Hawkins uses the setup so well in this book. You feel Rory's frustration about her situation. She doesn't wallow in self-pity. She doesn't feel like other characters you read in other books that have a similar setup. And I liked that. There's a lot to like about Rory as a character, and she is an engaging character.

The mystery in this book, is something from Rory's past back to torment her, is gripping. There are two things that make it so: the thought of your safe place not being so safe, and the character reactions to events in the book. The mystery also starts to open up Rory's world a little, as new people begin to fill her life. But with that also comes the opposite feeling, that her life is becoming constricting, as Rory starts to imagine threats from many of the people in her life.

Red herrings abound in this story. Thank goodness they are real red herrings, and not random events dressed up as red herrings. Kelli Hawkins used them so well in this book, and that makes me certain this story as planned well. The book had me trying to work out the truth before I read the conclusion. I have to report that I didn't guess correctly, but after reaching the end, it now has me wondering if I missed something important, or if the clues weren't in the book.

A shout out has to go to Buster, who is Rory's dog. For an animal in a book, Buster is amazing. I think that's due to how important he is to Rory. He's her companion, her comfort. He's also written with a strong personality of his own. He did feel more a person than a god - or maybe that's just me.

One thing that irked me a little in this book is how the dialogue is written. At times, it felt stilted, too formal. Especially between characters that obviously have some sort of friendship. I thought that a bit jarring.

Thank you to Harper Collins Australia and Netgalley for the free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I have enjoyed both of Kelli Hawkins previous books so I was excited to read her new book, Apartment 303. It was a slower burn thriller, but one that kept me needing more and I flew through it. I loved Rory and her story, such a likeable and strong character in her own way.

Rory is 26 and lives in an apartme Building in Sydney. She doesn’t leave the safety of the building much, trauma in her past has her scared of the outside world. She has her exercise routines, her job that she can do from home and her dog, Buster. What more could she want? She likes to spend her time watching people from her balcony, particularly the homeless across the road. But when one of them is murdered, she realises that perhaps she isn’t as safe as she thought she was. Slowly she starts to try to conquer her fears, and in doing so, starts to make some friends.

You will really feel for Rory and her struggles as this book goes on. It was a great read and really had me hoping things would work out for her.

Thanks to Harper Collins Australia for the advanced copy of this book to read. Publishes on March 8th.

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Apartment 303 is an Australian domestic thriller set in the shadows of the Domain in Sydney's bustling CBD. Centred on twenty-six-year-old Rory, the story follows what she can witness from her vantage point in her third-floor apartment. After witnessing the aftermath of a murder within the homeless community who live across the road, Rory discovers that what she thought was a safe haven might not be quite so safe after all. Knowing who she can trust with her vulnerabilities will be the key to her making it through another day. As a domestic thriller, this is a book that impresses more by its slow reveals rather than potential thrills. Rory is a flawed hero, and has to make connections with other somewhat marginalised characters (I know what it's like to be an ostracised clarinetist!) While some of the plot lines surrounding the minor characters were something I could see coming, the main plot line was well explored, and ultimately uncovered. If thrillers set in Australian cities is something you enjoy, you will enjoy this book!

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‘The apartment building is much fancier than I expected.’

Twenty-six-year-old Rory rarely leaves the safety of her third-floor apartment. She is hypervigilant and relies on her routines and rituals to keep her safe. During the day, Rory works for her aunt’s private investigation business. Rory is a wizard with technology. At night, she walks on the roof of her apartment block with her little dog, Buster. She feels safe, mostly, but wonders about the world she is missing. Across the road, Rory can see the homeless men who doss down there. She imagines histories for them.

Then one night, Rory’s carefully curated world crashes around her. One of the homeless men is murdered. Because of the murder, Rory comes to know first one and then two of her neighbours. But there are dangers as well: some from completely unexpected sources.

Once I picked this novel up, I found it difficult to put down. While I could empathise with Rory’s fears, twists in the story kept altering my thoughts about who Rory could trust. Some dangers (and people) were more obvious than others.

I enjoyed the suspense (mostly) and kept cheering for Rory. And yes, I did see the final twist before it hit me.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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I really don't know what to say about this book as I tried so hard to read it but I found it boring and it really went nowhere for me. I skipped through and still tried to read but it just annoyed me.

I am sorry to say this one is not a book I enjoyed and is not a style I like to read.

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