Review: FEAR

January 24, 2018 in Book Reviews, Psychological Thriller, Translated Literature

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: FEARFEAR by Dirk Kurbjuweit
Published by Orion on 25th January 2018
Genres: Psychological, thriller
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher




Family is everything.

So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help – the police, your lawyer – can’t help you.

You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.

Is there?

FEAR is the story of Randolph Tiefenhaler, a married father of two who works as an architect in Berlin. He and his family live in an upper ground floor flat in the city. It’s upon purchasing this flat that the family find themselves under the scrutiny of their downstairs neighbour, Dieter Tiberius, a man who lives alone and rarely leaves his home. Dieter Tiberius’ notes to the family start off fairly innocuous, but it isn’t long before he is accusing Randolph and his wife of abusing their children. When Randolph seeks help from the police on this slanderous matter he is turned away – they can do nothing to help him. With everything in his life hanging on the words of his downstairs neighbour, Randolph is desperate to find a solution to his Dieter Tiberius problem.

The story is told by Randolph as he looks back on the events of his aforesaid problem. But as readers we spend a lot of time looking at Randolph’s own personal life, his upbringing and marriage in order to understand the man whose family are being stalked.

Originally written in German, the FEAR is the first of Dirk Kurbjuweit’s work to be translated into English. It’s a very interesting concept for a novel, not least because the author is drawing upon his own personal experiences. I think knowing this adds additional weight to the story and, as readers, we begin to wonder what we would do in Randolph’s position?

This was somewhat of a strange book for me in that I found it easy to read and thought-provoking but I really didn’t like Randolph! I grew weary of his selfishness, talk of his father’s guns and his constant reference to class. I don’t know if this is perhaps something in the translation that just didn’t sit with me, but I really disliked the man. Yet I was intrigued, I wanted to know how this Dieter Tiberius had forced a family to such lengths. I would actually have loved to have read some chapters from Tiberius’ perspective!

While I can’t say I was blown away by this book, I certainly found the concept interesting. I suspect that in not caring about the protagonist I probably missed out on much this book has to offer.


Review: The Confession

January 16, 2018 in Book Reviews, Psychological Thriller

I received this book for free from bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The ConfessionThe Confession by Jo Spain
Published by Quercus on 25th January 2018
Genres: thriller
Format: ARC
Source: bookbridgr

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn't know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry's many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

A man walks into the home of multi-millionaire banker Harry McNamara and attacks him with a golf club while wife July sits nearby. By why?

We find out almost immediately that the attacker is JP Carney, but why has he killed Harry McNamara? Through chapters told through the perspectives of JP, Harry’s wife, Julie, and the investigating officer, DS Alice Moody we gradually uncover the lives of our characters until we finally find out the reason why.

I couldn’t put this book down! I’d love nothing more than to go into the plot details with you but, as ever with these kinds of books, just trust me and uncover the story for yourself! I won’t be responsible for spoilers!

I will say though that this book kept me guessing. I found myself speculating on various theories, but was totally wrong. I loved Jo Spain’s writing and the way she slowly introduces us to the lives of Julie and JP.

It’s a thoroughly addictive read from an author who is new to me, but whose other work I will definitely be reading. I think you’ll be seeing a lot of The Confession in 2018.


Review: Good Me Bad Me

October 31, 2017 in Book Reviews, Crime, Psychological Thriller

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Good Me Bad MeGood Me Bad Me by Ali Land
Published by Michael Joseph on 12th January 2017
Genres: Psychological, Crime
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly's mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother's trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother's daughter.

Good Me Bad Me is one of those books that I’ve been seeing all over social media with the general consensus being that readers found it hard to put it down – they were so right!

15-year-old Milly’s mother is a serial killer, and the only person who knows is Milly. It’s Milly who finally tells the police, Milly who is the sole witness and the only person who can see her mother brought to justice.

Milly isn’t her real name though. She’s been given a new identity to help to protect her from the huge media attention and contempt of the public. Only a handful of people know her history – his foster parents and her new headteacher.

She has been put in the care of Mike, a psychologist, and his family as she prepares for the upcoming trial. But Mike’s own teenage daughter, Phoebe, is less than pleased by Milly’s presence, even without knowing her history. Phoebe makes life even harder for Milly as she tries to forge a new life in a new city, a new school, a new family away from her mother’s abusive control.

This book is so hard to put down Told from Milly’s perspective we see a teenage girl trying to fit into a new life, a new school and make new friends. That in itself is a journey, a challenge for any teenager. But then we have the impact of Milly’s history, her battles not to miss the woman who has controlled her life, the woman who has murdered innocent children. We see Milly’s internal battle as she fears she is just like her mother and her preparation for trial, facing that woman again and doing all she can for her mother’s victims.

The writing style in this novel is very interesting and clever, Land adopts a style which seems to reflect the nature of Milly’s mind and further the reader’s experience.

There are so many issues packed into this book, I can in no way do them justice here – strained parental relationships, jealousy, self-harm, drug use, sexual abuse, bullying, all entwined within the story of one 15-year-old.

This is a truly gripping psychological thriller which, though it can be hard to read at times, and is maybe therefore not for everyone, is one that I can’t stop thinking about.


Blog Tour & Review: Dark Water

September 29, 2016 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Psychological Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour & Review: Dark WaterDark Water by Sara Bailey
Published by Nightingale Editions on 3rd October 2016
Genres: Psychological
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

When Helena returns to her childhood home in Orkney to care for her father after a heart attack, she is forced to face memories that she has spent half a lifetime running from. Still haunted by the disappearance of her blood-sister, Anastasia – who vanished during a daredevil swimming incident - Helena must carefully navigate the island that made her, and the old faces that still ask: what really happened that night by the wrecks?





I’m so excited to be a stop on the Dark Water blog tour today! I’ve had the pleasure of reading this novel and it’s a beauty! As I write this the wind is battering the windows and the rain is almost horizontal and I can’t help but feel this is the perfect atmosphere in which to sit down and read Dark Water.



At her father’s behest Helena returns to Orkney to visit. She hasn’t been back there for ten years, not since Anastasia. But her father’s had a heart attack; he needs her. So she leaves her luxurious London life for her childhood home of Orkney.

Upon her return she finally has to face her past, see all those folk she hasn’t spoken to for ten years, and deal with her stepmother, Kate.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As an islander myself I could relate to much of the story – identifying someone with an umbrella as clearly not an islander made me chuckle. It’s a story shrouded in mystery, a slow, meandering tale that, I think, reflects island life.

Most of the story is told through Helena and we traverse time from the present day back to her teenage years. This is how we uncover the story of Helena’s life: the tale of her teenage years, friends, boyfriends, and her return to the island. We see her meeting those faces from the past, one of whom is Dylan, her teenage boyfriend. There are occasional passages written as Dylan, as well as other sections from the point of view of Helena’s stepmother, Kate. Personally, I really enjoyed this narrative style. Bailey absolutely captures and conveys the life of an island teenager -the dramas, the inability to keep anything secret, and that question about the future – to leave the island for college / university or stay with everyone you know and love.

Likewise, Bailey captures that feeling of visiting home when you’ve been away for a while. I had to laugh when Helena saw kids that she felt she knew, turning out to be children of her childhood peers. This is so true; it happens to me all the time!

As for the writing itself, it’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel. Bailey’s writing beautifully sets the island scene. Her writing is very readable and totally immersive.

If you’re looking for a fast paced novel, then this isn’t one for you. If however you want a story full of emotion, of teenage angst, the challenges of adulthood, of tragedy, heartache, parental relationships, loss and friendship then I definitely recommend this stunning debut novel. I’ve never been to Orkney but I felt I could see it through Bailey’s writing.

All in all, this a great novel to curl up with on an autumnal evening. It’ll draw you in from the outset and you won’t be able to put it down.


Review: Lie With Me

July 28, 2016 in Book Reviews, Psychological Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Lie With MeLie With Me by Sabine Durrant
Published by Mulholland on 28th July 2016
Genres: Psychological
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Paul Morris is running out of money, friends and second chances. His literary success of his early 20s is now a distant memory and his new relationship might be his last hope of happiness.

Alice is not like any of the women he's pursued in the past: wealthy, lonely, driven and with links to the heady days of his youth. When Alice invites Paul to her holiday home in Greece with friends and family, he decides to do whatever it takes to make the romance stick.

But the summer is not the idyll he had planned: members of the party seem far from happy about Paul's presence and soon the pool becomes a tableau of tension and unspoken grudges.

To further aggravate the situation, ten years ago, a thirteen-year-old girl went missing on the island, and now a fresh sighting and another attack unsettle the long hot days. It soon becomes apparent that Paul may not be the only person with an agenda... and his dreams of a life worth living may yet turn into a nightmare he cannot escape.

Upon reading the synopsis for this book, I was intrigued. I love a good psychological thriller and the incorporation of a Greek island setting made me pick this up for a summer read. I think it’s pretty perfect as that – an easy to read book that will capture and retain your interest from the outset.

It’s a fairly slow moving novel, which is absolutely fine if that’s what you are in the mood for. The pace certainly picks up towards the end though. As ever, I want to avoid spoilers at all costs, so I won’t dwell on the content of this book for long.

Paul Morris is our narrator. He is reflecting upon what has happened to him, wondering where it all started and simultaneously allowing us to uncover his story. I actually really enjoyed this style of storytelling.

Durrant is clever with Paul’s character. We are never entirely sure of his motives; can we believe what he is telling us? Paul’s womanising nature, his eyeing up of young girls, his conquests and flirtations made him a very difficult character for me to like. I’ve no doubt that this is intentional by Durrant. She balances this side of his character by showing us his vulnerabilities and emotions. Honestly, at times I was repulsed by this man and at others I wanted to give him a hug.

I enjoyed Durrant’s writing. Her descriptions made me feel like I was in that dreary London weather or holidaying on that Greek isle.

Did this novel surprise me? Yes, it did. I think with a novel of this nature you are always trying to solve the mystery as it were, before it’s revealed to you. I had theories, quite a few in fact, but I was wrong!

All-in-all, this is an absorbing, unnerving read. It isn’t action packed but you will become caught up in the story. I hesitate to use that term ‘beach-read’ but I do think this would make a good holiday read. It’s engrossing, well written and easy to read.