Psychological thriller

‘While You Sleep’ by Stephanie Merritt #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

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Waterstones   Amazon.co.uk

A house full of secrets…
The McBride house lies on a remote Scottish island, isolated and abandoned. A century ago, a young widow and her son died mysteriously there. Last year a local boy, visiting for a dare, disappeared without a trace.
A woman alone at night…
For Zoe Adams, the house offers an escape from her failing marriage. But when night falls, her peaceful retreat is disrupted—scratches at the door, strange voices—and Zoe is convinced she is being watched.
A threat that lurks in the shadows…
The locals tell Zoe the incidents are merely echoes of the house’s dark past. Zoe is sure the danger is all too real—but can she uncover the truth before she is silenced?

A remote Scottish island, a creepy house, the wind moaning, waves crashing, a terrifying legend and the kind of locals that all go silent when you walk into the pub – what more could you ask for?
Zoe is looking for peace and quiet and isolation so she can get her head together. A beautiful old house miles from anywhere seems ideal. But the house has a mysterious past and the locals are a bit cagey. Strange things begin to happen – but this isn’t bumps in the night and rattling chains; there’s a weird feeling in the house and Zoe’s dreams are vividly erotic and very unsettling.
But this is no Fifty Shades (thank goodness) and the sex is, on the whole, well-written. And what the writer does especially well is to weave a really suspenseful and at times terrifying tale. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the house, the isolation, the fear that Zoe feels are so well portrayed – you feel terrified for her.
I also liked the weaving of myth and history with the reality of the characters’’ present. It’s done really well, and there are two stories going on here, that of Zoe and that of Ailsa, the widow who died a century before. Ailsa’s story is fascinating – it could probably be a whole different novel in itself.
It’s truly a gripping read, well-paced, dark, but fun too if you like to be scared! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

four-and-a-half-stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.

 

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‘The Bad Mother’ by Amanda Brooke #BookReview #FridayReads

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Waterstones  Amazon.co.uk

That’s what he wants you to think…

A good mother doesn’t forget things.

A good mother isn’t a danger to herself.

A good mother isn’t a danger to her baby.

You want to be the good mother you dreamed you could be.

But you’re not. You’re the bad mother you were destined to become.

At least, that what he wants you to believe…

Lucy is pregnant with her first child. She is happy with her husband Adam, and has a strong relationship with her mother who has brought Lucy up since the death of her father. But not everything is as it seems to be.

Lucy, an artist, has left behind her days of festivals, of going out and having fun, and is looking forward to a steady future with Adam, who, at eight years older, seems dependable and steady, who she trusts and who makes her feel safe. But always lurking in her mind is the shadow of her dad, and his depression, and the fear that she could be the same.

As Lucy’s pregnancy continues, she finds herself forgetting things, minor things at first, like losing her keys and leaving the freezer door open. But soon the little slip ups become bigger ones, and she begins to worry that she’s a danger, not only to herself, but to the child she’s carrying.

This is a frustrating read – but only because the reader soon knows exactly what’s going on. I felt so angry on Lucy’s behalf as times, and that, to me, shows what a good book this is. I really cared about Lucy, and wanted her to wake up. The manipulation is so subtle, the undermining and the planting of little seeds of doubt; small things that build and build until Lucy no longer trusts herself. I’ve seen some reviews criticising the book for the way Lucy behaves, questioning how someone so confident could ‘allow’ this to happen. Unfortunately this happens to lots of women, whether they are ‘strong’ or not. And the author writes so well that you can really see how Lucy could end up in the position she’s in.

The relationship between Adam and Lucy is really well developed. Their arguments are authentic and Lucy’s reactions are believable. The shift in the balance of power between them is genuinely unsettling to read. My only quibble is that I wanted to understand more completely how Adam came to be the way he is and I do think that adding more depth to this would really add to the novel.

A difficult subject matter, and not an easy read, but definitely gripping.

four-and-a-half-stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.

 

‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ by Holly Seddon #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

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Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

Robin and Sarah weren’t the closest of twins. They weren’t even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another.

Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches – watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn’t…

And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted – the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she’s just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can’t be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.

But Sarah isn’t the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship…

I seem to be giving almost everything I read four-star reviews at the moment. These are all books I’ve really enjoyed reading, but where something just isn’t quite there. Something stops me from loving the book. And this is one of them.

The premise is really clever – twin sisters, forced apart by circumstances beyond their control, a series of events that cause them to lose contact and to struggle in adult life. The book comes from both viewpoints and is told from the present day and with flashbacks to the past. Sarah and Robin are well-drawn characters and the twists and turns towards the end are clever and surprising.

But I didn’t feel that their past was explored deeply enough. There was a lot more room here to go more deeply, to really get to know that twins and what made them tick. The present day sections around Robin went on for too long and didn’t really add very much to the narrative – I wasn’t convinced by the need for the whole storyline about what she witnesses watching the neighbourhood through her window. And while there are events in the book that explain why Robin is like this, it isn’t clear enough that they have, in fact, affected her in this way.

Sarah’s story, however, seemed a little rushed, and hers was the story that I found more interesting – so that was quite frustrating. And I thought it was too coincidental that all the different strands came together so neatly at the end. And while I appreciate that I read a review copy, there were quite a lot of errors that were very irritating.

It is a good book though, and a very enjoyable one, and I’d read more by the author. This could easily have been a five-star read for me, with a few tweaks and with some cuts here and there and some additions in other places. Really very good, but not outstanding.

4 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy

‘Best Day Ever’ by Kaira Rouda #bookreview #FridayReads

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Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

A loving husband. The perfect killer?

‘I wonder if Mia thinks I have a dark side. Most likely as far as she knows, I am just her dear loving husband.’

Paul Strom has spent years building his perfect life: glittering career, beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in the suburbs.

But he also has his secrets. That’s why Paul has promised his wife a romantic weekend getaway. He proclaims this day, a warm Friday in May, will be the best day ever.

Paul loves his wife, really, he does. But he also wants to get rid of her. And with every hour that passes, Paul ticks off another stage in his elaborately laid plan…

Behind Closed Doors meets Liane Moriarty in this creepy, fast-paced psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming!

This is a really tense, and, at times, deeply disturbing read. I deliberately didn’t look at any reviews before reading, because I wanted to be surprised. And I was.

Paul and Mia are having a weekend away, some time together as a couple. But something isn’t quite right. Paul keeps calling it the best day ever, he seems desperate to make it so, but the dynamics between the couple tell a different story.

As the weekend unfolds, things are obviously falling apart – and Paul’s idea of the best day ever isn’t what the reader expects.

What works so well in this book is that we are in Paul’s point of view – a decidedly uncomfortable place to be. Paul is an unusual narrator. He is vile, and the author does a splendid job of revealing him to the reader. As we get to know him better, we slowly realise what he is and what he’s up to, and this is what makes for some difficult reading – his justifications and his motivations are really hard to accept, but they are completely believable too.

My one issue with the book is that I wasn’t keen on the epilogue. I won’t say too much here for fear of spoilers, but it felt very ‘told’ and, while it was necessary to have this information, from this point of view, I felt that it could have been done in a more interesting way.

That said, I really enjoyed this and would definitely read more by this author.

4.5 out of 5

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy