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
Goodreads
three-stars

YOU'D DIE FOR YOUR FAMILY.

BUT WOULD YOU KILL FOR THEM?

***

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.

three-stars

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
Goodreads
five-stars

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.

five-stars

Review: Final Girls

August 4, 2017 in Book Reviews, 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: Final GirlsFinal Girls by Riley Sager
Published by Ebury on 11th July 2017
Genres: thriller
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Quincy Carpenter is a Final Girl, the sole survivor of a massacre that killed her five friends. It’s ten years since that horrific night in the woods and Quincy seems to be getting on just fine. She has a successful baking blog, her own apartment, and a lawyer boyfriend. She also has the unwavering support of Coop, the police officer who found her that night.

She is one of only three Final Girls. Lisa and Sam both found themselves the only survivor of horrific massacres years before. Lisa, Sam and Quincy are collectively known as the Final Girls, a term coined by the media.

So when Lisa is found dead, wrists slit in her bathtub and Sam turns up unannounced on Quincy’s doorstep, it becomes apparent that despite having no real memory of that night ten years ago, Quincy isn’t quite as ok as she thought.

Upon reading the synopsis of this book I knew it was one I had to read. Told from Quincy’s perspective, it’s hard to put this book down. Yes, there was the occasional lull in the story but if anything that just served to build the tension more. This, coupled with interspersed chapters from ten years ago, as well as the sudden shift in Quincy’s world following Lisa’s death make this the thrilling read it is. Quincy’s attempts at normal life, baking for her blog and working from home, are a stark contrast to what happens when Lisa dies and Sam appears in Quincy’s life.

This is a well written, gripping thriller that is sure to keep you reading and speculating until the last chapter.

 

four-stars

Blog Tour: If We Were Villains

June 15, 2017 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, 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: If We Were VillainsIf We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Published by Titan on 13th June 2017
Genres: thriller, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he's released, he's greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago.

As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else's story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life.

When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the If We Were Villains blog tour. If you’ve missed the other stops on the tour so far you can find them all at the bottom of this post.

Dellecher Classical Conservatory is an elite art school that is home to Oliver and his six friends; all of whom are in their fourth and final year as theatre students and scholars of Shakespeare. They live, study, act and socialise with one another – their own Shakespeare-loving family.

When we meet Oliver it’s ten years later and he’s just getting out of prison where he has served time for the murder of one of these close friends. He has finally agreed to tell the lead detective the whole, true story.

The novel is structured through Acts and Scenes which tell the story of life at the school, with Preludes that focus on the now and Oliver’s release from prison. I loved this structure, in a book filled with drama, theatrics and plays it fits the theme perfectly.

Now, I studied Shakespeare in school but that was quite some time ago – and even then I’m familiar with only a few of his plays. I was slightly concerned that my ignorance might mean that I wouldn’t enjoy this novel; however I actually enjoyed it very much. I would say though that those more acquainted with Shakespeare or even with theatre as a whole would no doubt enjoy it more.

Our seven characters (I was rather confused at first with all of the names, but I soon caught on) are actors; throughout the year they adopt Shakespearean roles for a variety of plays. Indeed they even converse among one another in quotes at times. However, as the school year progresses it seems that many of the seven are struggling to leave their Shakespearean roles behind, and the line between fiction and reality becomes increasingly blurred.

This is not your typical thriller. Yes, it’s thrilling and gripping but it’s far more than that. Rio weaves her story in conjunction with Shakespearean verse. Indeed she often echoes her characters’ mindsets and actions though their study of The Bard. At first, I’ll admit I struggled a little with this style, but it’s executed so well that I soon became accustomed to the interspersions of verse.

Rio not only expertly combines Shakespeare into her narrative, but also displays her own beautiful writing.

This is quite a rollercoaster read – love, betrayal, envy, passion, friendships, this book has it all – just like the Shakespearean works it echoes.

If We Were Villains Blog Tour

three-half-stars

Review: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

April 4, 2017 in Book Reviews, Contemporary, 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: The Twelve Lives of Samuel HawleyThe Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
Published by Tinder Press on 6th April 2017
Genres: Contemporary, thriller
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

After years spent living on the run, Samuel Hawley moves with his teenage daughter Loo to Olympus, Massachusetts. There, in his late wife's hometown, Hawley finds work as a fisherman, while Loo struggles to fit in at school and grows curious about her mother's mysterious death. Haunting them both are twelve scars Hawley carries on his body, from twelve bullets in his criminal past - a past that eventually spills over into his daughter's present, until together they must face a reckoning yet to come. Both a coming of age novel and a literary thriller, THE TWELVE LIVES OF SAMUEL HAWLEY explores what it means to be a hero, and the price we pay to protect the people we love most.

Told through alternating chapters, past and present, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley slowly uncovers the tale of Samuel Hawley’s life.

Hawley has a daughter, Loo, whom he is raising alone following the death of his wife. Hawley and Loo have constantly been on the move, never living in one place for very long. When they decide to buy a house in Olympus, Loo has to adjust to this new way of life – a new school, a new home and more possessions than she could bundle up into her suitcase.

We follow Loo through present time as she lives this new life with her father. Loo’s is a coming of age tale, getting older and wondering what a mother’s kiss feels like, starting to question who her father is and noticing the way people question the many scars on his body.

Each of Hawley’s gunshot scars tells a tale. In between our present-day chapters with Loo, we learn how Hawley acquired each scar, thus slowly revealing to us Hawley’s history, and piece-by-piece building his story.

I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the way the story unfolded through this unique storytelling style – the history of Hawley’s scar forming the perfect flashback chapters.

Mixed with the innocence of Loo’s childhood we have violence. I mean, if you don’t like to read about violence, then be warned. Yet it’s not all blood and guns, there’s the story of love, loss, grief. There’s the relationship between a father and his daughter, the tale of a father’s protection and a teenage girl trying to find her way in the world.

I have to say that I really loved Hawley. It’s a weird situation – am I meant to like this guy? But I challenge you not to!

This story is brutal in places, heart-wrenching in others. It’s incredibly well written and the characters of Hawley and Loo make for the perfect balance. It’s one of those books where I’m sad to have to leave these characters behind.

four-half-stars