Tag Archive | psychological

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite

anks so much to thedarkest

Length: 404 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

A completely gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. Fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Before I Let You In will be captivated.

The review: Well, from one standout to the next, and boy was this a standout! Again, this will very likely figure in my ‘best of’ at the end of the year, as it was a book that stayed with me long after I’d moved on.

“The cry for help is ragged and desperate, the voice hitching. There is no one to hear it. A moon hangs so fat it oozes an aura into the sky that almost blots out the stars surrounding it. It looks down on land as flat as an open palm, and as unforgiving as a clenched fist, and gives no answer to the screams of fear and rage that float up to it… ‘Help me! Please! Help!’ There is no one to catch the words. No one, except a lone figure, turning, walking away towards lights int he far off distance.”

And so it starts. The book really begins with Beth, a young teen who’s obviously planned to do something that she hasn’t let her parents in on, as she leaves with her mother to sleep over at her friend’s house. This book thrusts you into every parent’s nightmare, made vivid by the last things, those little everyday occurances that just had to happen before she left-her dad barely said goodbye to her as he was watching tv, her mum doesn’t walk her to her friends door. This is something I always always think of, that the little things that you take for granted, in this case, that her father obviously didn’t think to say a proper goodbye, because little did he know it was going to be a night unlike any other he’d experienced, and then the if only her mother had seen her into her friend’s house.

It is the finer details of this book that keep you hooked, as they search for Beth, then find her, as you sit by her hospital bed, wondering can she hear anything, will she wake up, then as you stand on the doorstep of a house with her mother pleading for someone to tell you they can help you find the attacker or wonder if people you thought were so close to you can even be trusted. I have to admit I struggled with Melanie, the mother, feeling for her so much, but not really liking her as a person. This was especially hammered home as I loved her daughter, Beth, so much.

Some of the chapters were from the point of view of an unknown person, and I have to admit some of it made for slightly violent reading. These, coupled with the unfolding of Beth’s story were real game-changers for me, I was nervous and preparing myself to find out how this had happened to poor, innocent Beth, who was too young to know better. I knew what the end result was, of course, but still willed her to not go where she was headed. Meanwhile I was watching Mel and couldn’t figure out if her deductions were correct because, of course, she was unravelling. The pacing in this was up and down a bit, obviously we had the emotional side of Melanie and Jacob, which was honed in on a lot, to be fair, and some of the people who want a bang bang bang book might have a problem with it, but I was very emotionally invested, so it didn’t matter.

In terms of the whodunnit part- the fact that you had a village of people to look at, and worry about, was excellent, and I was shocked by the gang mentality that sprung up against the people they suspected. The part of the book that held me, though, was when what was to happen, happened, and we heard Beth’s thoughts. I have to say I have not cried like this over a book in some time. I sobbed my heart out for both her and her mum, and it sprang into my head a few times after I’d finished.

I’m split down the centre on the ending, it could have gone either way for me, as in the book could have finished earlier and I’d still have been satisfied, but then the ending that was given sent a bit of a chill so, in the end I was happy out(when the book continued on after the place I expected it to end there was a bit of a ‘what’s going on, why aren’t we finished here?’ but I was jumping the gun. All in all another excellent book that, again (and you’ll be hearing this a lot in the next while as I’ve been extremely lucky book-wise), I’d be very shocked if it didn’t end up in my end of year ‘best of’s.’ Most definitely recommended for exquisite beautiful, emotionally charged writing and settings, tension and chills. Definitely looking forward to the next by Ms. Copperthwaite, Her Last Secret, which, luckily enough, is on my Kindle right now (you can pre-order it here now). Thanks so much to Netgalley and of course the excellent Bookouture for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

Advertisements

Rowan’s Well by C J Harter

rowans

Length: 314 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal buy link for the book

What they say: Who’s the one person you’d trust with your life? Think again.

Mark Strachan has everything: good looks, beautiful, doting wife, great job, loyal best friend… and a secret flaw that goes to his very core. A deep secret he’ll wreck lives to protect.
Mark’s life is about to change. He’s going to commit an act so shocking there’ll be no going back. Unless someone can stop him.
At Rowan’s Well, on North Yorkshire’s rugged cliffs, Mark will force his family, and best friend Will, to face the consequences of loving a man like him.
At Rowan’s Well, it’s hard to tell where love ends and hatred begins…

If you like psychological thrillers with page-turning suspense and shocking twists, you’ll love this.

The review: So to begin we’re not actually beginning at the beginning, but sometime closer to the end of the story, it is ten years after, although what the after is we don’t know. Mark Strachan is telling a story while ‘looking out of the window at the upper floors of the high-security wing opposite’ about an event when he was young to someone whose part in this story we don’t know. His story is vivid and packs a punch almost straight away-I could tell this character had issues and was very likely to be telling of something that had played a part in something he had done (hence the ‘after’) or the person he had become.

We are shot back to twelve years before where Mark is starting in boarding school, noticibly without any of the parental support other have. I think books like this hit me hardest, with characters that would be so different if they had a family who showed them the love they so craved, and Mark is a character I’ll probably be adding to my ‘best of’ list come the end of the year. Luckily, he falls in quickly with the lovely Will, and you get the impression that they’ll both have each other’s backs. We’re shown a lot of how the boys get on and interact, and I really enjoyed both the banter and light/ dark humour. Then things happen, and one fateful night we see Mark saving Will, but at the cost of another lad’s life.

Mark is an interesting character, where Will is an open book, we constantly wonder whether secretly all the bad luck that piles up in stacks around Mark, is actually his own doing. When I say bad luck, there are a number of events that take place over their lives, most involving expanses of water, that are so real, you feel the fear, the panic, that comes with being trapped under water. (There are a number of these, and you do wonder why they choose to stay anywhere near water!!)

The outstanding imagery also left me in no doubt that this was to be a beautiful read (I was to be correct!) Actually, I have to admit here that I can sometimes have to force myself not to skim over imagery, but I couldn’t even consider that here, it was second to none, powerful and vivid and amazing.

We are told there’s something in his eyes that make people nervous, yet the author is pretty excellent at showing us Mark’s point of view, making us worry that all the bad luck that befalls him ISN’T because of him. This is an interesting book because it has a hint of all the light horror stories I read as a teen (I know, you’d never know, would you?!) and it had me hooked.

There is the added dimension of his home life, where we wonder about his mother, and see him gravitate towards Will’s family. The jump comes when both him and Will fall for two women who are twins, and so we know they’re bound together for life. So begins a chapter in Will’s life where he truly has someone to love. I have to admit I read through this somewhat impatiently, and sometimes was confused, in particular as to their family dynamic, which I didn’t find so clear, waiting for something bad to happen, and when it did, when we found out what Mark did, we were placed in a scenario of having to find out if it was intentional, planned. To get Marks viewpoint throughout this, while looking at the prison system and seeing the differing opinions of Mark on the outside and through the prison employee’s eyes, was excellent. Actually it was Mark’s time in prison I enjoyed the most as Mark tried to communicate what had led him to this point, his horrendous past and I really empathised (special mention for Fitz, who broke my heart) and noticed that he was possibly the most human bad guy I have read to date. I read this book as I would watch a film, and the last scenes played out perfectly, with my heart in my throat. If I am to find any issues with this, it’s the descriptions of the timeline, I think I’d have rather to have just been given the dates as opposed to this ‘x years before or after, ‘ but, saying that it probably won’t bother most, I also found some parts a little confusing, but more seasoned readers of this genre will figure it out! I would highly recommend this book.

Ratine: 4.5/5

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

whileyou

Length: 326 pages

Please note that the image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:
Tara Logan adores her perfect little family: husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer. 

But her happiness is shattered when she wakes up one morning in her neighbour’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them. And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee and scared of losing everything she cares about, Tara flees home and stays silent, holding her breath as the investigation grips the neighbourhood.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara starts to wonder if someone in her life knows what really happened that night. When the police turn their questions towards her, Tara realises she has to find out.

But what will it take to uncover the real story, and can she survive the truth?

The Review: Okay. So anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows of my love for all books by Kathryn Croft. (The Girl You Lost’s review is here while The Girl With No Past’s review is  here

This was another book designed to keep you guessing as to who (if not Tara herself) was involved in the murder, this read featuring the demise of her neighbour Lee. From the off I was pulled straight in, as always the characters are everyday people next door types, with varying personality traits that have you wondering what they themselves know, and as a result I was basically suspecting everyone. Throw into the mix her issues with her husband Noah, a very difficult daughter, Rosie, who was the one person I hoped hadn’t been involved in the crime, and the addition of characters as you went on and you were pretty sure it could have been anyone! Central to the story was that Tara couldn’t remember what had happened and had no idea how she woke up next to a dead body and so you didn’t know if she was involved or not.

While You Were Sleeping kept me gripped, and waiting for the ending, but I think a problem was that there were a few too many unlikable characters. Saying that, I kept reading on, being thrown from one conclusion to the next with my head all jumbled, waiting to see what happened. A really enjoyable read, although I have to admit it didn’t quite grab me in the same way as the two books I’ve named above.

Rating: 4/5

Remember Me by @Lyndarenham

rememberme

Length: 292 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: A new neighbour becomes a new friend. She looks up to you. She admires you, but is it you she wants? You begin to wonder if she wants your husband, or even your child. But then you realise, she wants your life.

When Sharni and Tom move into 24 The Pines, it seems like Clare and Chris have the perfect neighbours. Sharni is always there to help, especially with childcare for Clare’s two-year-old, Ben. But Clare can’t shake off the feelings of anxiety that assail her whenever Sharni is near. Is Clare just being overprotective, or are her feelings justified? As Sharni‘s influence touches everyone around her, Clare finds herself fighting for her sanity as well her family.

The Review: First off, I must direct you to my past experiences with Lynda Renham books (hint, I enjoyed them all!). You will note that these are all of the romantic comedy variety so I was surprised, and excited of course, to see this jump into my inbox one day. 

Little Perran Book  2, A Village Romance here  and Book 3 A Summer Romance here

Phoebe Smith’s Private Blog review here

Rory’s Proposal review here

Perfect Weddings review here

Oh and there was an author interview too … (here!)

I must say I really enjoyed this book. As you can see it’s the story of Clare, a lady who with her husband Chris, and beautiful son Ben. When Sharni and Tom move in next door they quickly become friends although rather quickly it’s apparent that Sharni perhaps looks up to Clare too much, beginning to seemingly copy her appearance and interior design. It was nicely done that we had in Clare a character who was so nervous and on edge, and this, coupled with her being on prescription medication meant that we weren’t sure if what was real and what was paranoia. Add to this that you’re also getting Sharni’s point of view and it made for a real page turner!

The friendship of the two women, and the trust that was built up was great, with Clare’s questioning and self doubt very believable and I liked that anything time-line wise that people may have questioned was quickly put to bed. I also like how you questioned everything, in particular the husband’s part in the story. My only issue was that the ending seemed rather abrupt, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. I think this is another one for people who don’t read thrillers a lot and want to slip into the genre without having to read anything too tough. All in all I’m beginning to be a big fan of the big switch from rom com to psychological thriller with such a well done ‘debut’ and I look forward to more of same from Ms. Renham.

Thanks to the author and Raucous Publishing for the book in return for an honest review

Rating: 4.5/5

About the author

thumbnail_pKTCLgh8_400x400LyndaRenham

Lynda’s books on Amazon

Lynda’s website

Lynda on Facebook

Lynda on Twitter   (@Lyndarenham)

The Sister by Louise Jensen

the-sister

Length:336 pages

What they Say:”I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me …”

Grace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s last words, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie …or was there?

The Review: I had heard of this a lot in blogging circles and everyone was gushing so much I had to read it. Little did I know this was going to be one of my favourite thrillers of the year.

The story is told in first person from the point of view of Grace, who is mourning the death of her best friend Charlie. When I say best friends, it is actually more like they’re sisters, they know everything about each other and spend all their time together, however, as you’ll see in the blurb, it turns out that Grace doesn’t actually know everything about Charlie, and is constantly trying to piece together fragments of memories so that she can decipher what Charlie’s last words meant. The story moves between ‘then’ and ‘now’ and I loved that the settings moved from being dark to light, with exceptional descriptions that really put you there and it is dotted with brief flashes of humour that I really appreciated. There are many mysteries to wonder about, and many characters to suspect when things start to go wrong. The only issue I had was something in Grace’s past, which was very much built up and then turned out to be a disappointment, but aside from that I couldn’t fault this book.  A book that very much had you wondering what was going to happen next and who you could trust, I really have to say I loved this and have already bought The Gift by Louise Jensen and can’t wait to read. This book was both a pleasure and a thrill. Highly recommended. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Bookouture for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

 

 

 

The Girl You lost by Kathryn Croft

thegirlyoulost
What they say: Eighteen years ago your baby daughter was snatched. Today, she came back.

A sinister and darkly compelling psychological thriller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Girl With No Past.

Eighteen years ago, Simone Porter’s six-month-old daughter, Helena, was abducted. Simone and husband, Matt, have slowly rebuilt their shattered lives, but the pain at losing their child has never left them.

Then a young woman, Grace, appears out of the blue and tells Simone she has information about her stolen baby. But just who is Grace – and can Simone trust her?

When Grace herself disappears, Simone becomes embroiled in a desperate search for her daughter and the woman who has vital clues about her whereabouts.

Simone is inching closer to the truth but it’ll take her into dangerous and disturbing territory.

Simone lost her baby. Will she lose her life trying to find her?

The review: First off thanks so much to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review. You’ll remember I shouted Kathryn Croft’s praises from the rooftop when I reviewed ‘The Girl With No Past.‘ I really really enjoyed her latest book ‘The Girl you Lost,’ though it was tougher going. It began with every parent’s worst nightmare, the snatching of a baby from a park. This is followed closely by the meeting of Helena/ Grace and I was HOOKED. The book flew by, the percentages on my Kindle increasing swiftly, and my wish to find out what would happen, whether Grace really was Helena and who had taken her, was more of a craving. There were numerous cases that arrived on Simone’s doorstep as she started to look into her new-found ‘daughter’ and I loved that her occupation, a reporter, lent itself to her ability to investigate and wondered which were linked and which weren’t.
I really liked Simone, and another character who I was glad was a ‘goodie(!)’ that I can’t name or it will have to go on the ‘spoiler’ side of things. There were actually a lot of characters, at times slightly difficult to keep up with, but that was, I suppose the nature of the book. I trusted no-one, sure that there was a hand being kept close to someone’s chest. My lack of trust paid off at times and my judgement failed elsewhere, as I zipped through. The length on Amazon said 318 pages, and it is some testament to this book if it truly is that length, because it felt shorter (not short, mind, just shorter!)
Now, the downsides. If you remember correctly there was a moment in The Girl With No Past that I found slightly memorable solely because it was tough going. There are more moments such as that in this book, in fact I winced at one point. There’s sexual attacks in the story that I found to be quite graphic, more by what is insinuated than what is ‘shown,’ and the book is narrated, not only through Simone’s voice, but also that of a predator which at times I found a bit harsh, or maybe grating, I can’t really tell which. While the book took me along with it, there were some scenes teetering on the ‘that’s a bit too much of a coincidence”s side, including the ending, which I’m afraid I guessed, just a little bit before, though I didn’t know it was possible.
So there you go. Enjoyed it even though it messed with my head, and I definitely recommend for those of you who don’t mind the violence I described above. In summation, I will continue to follow Kathryn Croft’s books to see where she goes next.
Rating: 4/5