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review 2018-12-11 22:32
Book Review of The Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King
The Lore of Prometheus - Graham Austin-King

John Carver has three rules: Don't drink in the daytime, don't gamble when the luck has gone, and don't talk to the dead people who come to visit.

 

It has been almost five years since the incident in Kabul. Since the magic stirred within him and the stories began. Fleeing the army, running from the whispers, the guilt, and the fear he was losing his mind, Carver fell into addiction, dragging himself through life one day at a time.

 

Desperation has pulled him back to Afghanistan, back to the heat, the dust, and the truth he worked so hard to avoid. But there are others, obsessed with power and forbidden magics, who will stop at nothing to learn the truth of his gifts. Abducted and chained, Carver must break more than his own rules if he is to harness this power and survive.

 

Review 4.5 rounded up to 5*

 

This story is a fantastic mix of action, danger and magic. I loved it!

 

John Carver is an ex-soldier and war veteran. I liked this man a lot. He's someone you want watching your back, but he's seen and done things most civilians don't experience. He's faced danger and sacrificed much to protect others. When his squad was killed in Kabul five years before, his life changed forever. Some call it PTSD, others call it crazy, but John's also known to some as The Miracle of Kabul. To find out why you'll need to read the book. In dire need of funds, he finds himself headed back to Afghanistan as a security consultant. But things are not so simple, and as danger threatens, he will have to embrace his inner power once more.

 

Mackenzie Cartwright is a nurse working in Kabul, kidnapped while heading home after a shift at the local hospital. I liked her a lot too. She has an inner strength that shines through, even when dealing with her capture and subsequent torture.

 

This story is not for the faint-hearted and told through John's and Mackenzie's point of view. I was riveted to the story from the first page and didn't put it down until I finished it. Having read Faithless in 2017, I was expecting a dark, atmospheric tale, and that's what I got, though it was a little less claustrophobic since its set in a desert rather than an underground mine. I could tell a lot of research had gone into the writing of this book, from the military-speak to the weapons used, and everything in between. None of the violence is gratuitous in any way; it only enhances the realistic feel to the story.

Both John and Mackenzie go through hell, so there's little wonder their psyche becomes fractured. I think it was Lewis Caroll, who's character, The Cheshire Cat, said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "We're all a little insane here." What is reality? What is normal? The author explores this concept and adds a twist to it. We know only a fraction of what the brain is capable of, so who's to say that there's no potential for our minds to evolve to use capabilities such as ESP, telekinesis and other paranormal activity. It would be interesting to find out. But it could be several decades, if not a few hundred years before the human mind is understood enough to know if these powers are latent within everyone. Or if it's our perception of the world around us that creates our reality. I find it intriguing.

 

There is a lot of action, particularly towards the middle and end of the book, that had me sitting on the edge of my seat. By the time I reached the end of the book, I felt breathless and was left wanting more. I don't know if the author intends to turn this into a series, but I would be interested to see what John and Mackenzie are capable of together in the future.

 

Graham Austin-King has written an exciting, dark military fiction novel that kept me turning the pages. This book is superb! I think that this book is a lot stronger than The Riven Wyrde Saga and shows this author's growth in confidence as a writer. I love his fast-paced writing style, and the story flowed wonderfully from beginning to end. The characters came alive on the page and felt remarkably lifelike.

 

Although there is mention of sex, it’s not explicitly shown. Nevertheless, I do not recommend this book to young children or those of a nervous disposition, as there are scenes of violence and gore (battle scenes amongst others) that could be very disturbing to some readers. However, I highly recommend this book to older teens and adults alike if you love dark thrillers, military fiction, and/or paranormal fantasy stories that have an X-Men feel to them. - Lynn Worton

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review 2018-12-08 09:01
A great courtroom drama/psychological thriller that will keep you thinking
Anatomy of a Scandal: The brilliant, must-read novel of 2018 - Sarah Vaughan

Thanks to NetGalley and to Simon & Schuster UK for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I got a copy of this book a while back, but I must confess it got buried under tonnes of other books at a time when there were many things on my mind. I kept seeing the book here and there but wasn’t even sure I had a copy any longer. Eventually, as it always happens at the end of the year, I saw a list with recommended reads for the year that ends, with this novel featured prominently, and it was the push I needed to start reading it. I apologise for the delay because it was well worth a read.

The book opens up the 2nd of December 2016, is set in the UK, and is mostly narrated chronologically by a collection of characters. Kate, a QC (the prosecution lawyer in other countries) working in London tells of her experience in court, prosecuting sexual crimes, in the first person. The rest of the characters’ perspectives we get are narrated on the third person, and include those of Ali, a friend Kate met while she was a college student; Sophie, the wife of a junior conservative minister, James, and now stay at home Mum; James himself, the only male account, an upper-class man who always knew his future was golden, and Holly, whose narration starts in 1992, in Oxford. She is a fish out of the water, a young girl from the North, from a modest family, who has managed to get into an Oxford College to study English with a grant, and she suffers a cultural shock at first, although later things seem to look up until… (No spoilers here). It takes a while for all the strands of the story to fit together, although we soon realise there are some coincidences, and some of the people whose narrations appeared disconnected at first, had crossed paths years back.

The author, who as a political journalist has more insight than most people into what goes on in political office and in the government, provides a detailed and totally immersing account of the life of privilege of those who seem destined for “better things” from the very start, and creates very credible and nuanced characters. Vaughan is skilled at describing the atmosphere of the government corridors and of the Old Bailey, and as skilled at shining a light on the characters and their motivations. We have those who feel entitled to everything; characters who keep lying to themselves because they feel they got what they wanted and should now be happy with it, even if it has turned out to be far less ideal than they had always thought; the survivors who reinvented themselves and paid the price of never being completely at ease in their skins, and we have big areas of grey. (I think this book would be ideal for a book club, as there is much to discuss and plenty of controversial topics to keep the conversation going). What is a relationship and what is not? What is love and what is only lust? And central to the whole book, a big question, what is consent? Is it a matter of opinion? Although the definition of the crime seems very clear, when it comes to what people think or “know” in their heads at the time, is anything but.

Although the book is told from different perspectives, it is not confusing to read. Each chapter is headed by the name of the character and the date, and we soon get to know who is who, because their narration and their personalities are very different. That does not mean there aren’t plenty of surprises in the book, and although some we might suspect or expect, the story is well paced, the revelations are drip-fed and make the tension increase, and with the exception of one of the characters (hopefully!), it is not difficult to empathise and share in the thoughts and the moral and ethical doubts of most of the characters. We might think we know better and we would do the right thing but determining what the right thing is can be tough in some cases. And we all compromise sometimes, although there are limits.

I have read some reviews complaining about the amount of detail in the book and they also say that it is slow and nothing much happens. The book is beautifully observed, and the way it explains the ins-and-outs of the trial feels realistic. Perhaps the problem is that we are used to books and movies where everything takes place at lightning speed, and there isn’t a moment to contemplate or observe what is truly happening, beyond the action. This is a thinking book, and there are not big action pieces; that much is true. I have mentioned there are surprises. Secrets are revealed as well, but they surface through digging into people’s memories, or getting them to recognise the truth, not with a gun or a punch. The way we connect with the characters and the layers upon layers of stories and emotions make for a gripping reading experience but not a light one. I have sometimes read books or watched movies that have such a frenzied pace that I always come out at the other end with the feeling that I’ve missed something, some gap or hole in the plot that I would be able to discover if only I were given some time to breathe and think, but that is not the case here. Even the turns of events you might not have expected are fully grounded and make perfect sense, both action-wise and according to the personality of the protagonists. No big flights of fancy here.

This is a book for those who love psychological thrillers, and courtroom dramas that go beyond the standard formula. Although it is a book with strong roots in England, the British Criminal Justice System and the country’s politics, it is so well-written that it will make readers from everywhere think and will inevitably bring to mind cases and well-known characters at a national and international level. Now that I live in Spain, I could not help but keep thinking about the infamous case of “La manada”, where definitions of sexual crimes have become a hot political potato, for very good reason. The debate that the #MeToo has generated should be kept alive, and anything that contributes to that is useful, and if it is a great book, all the better.

I know it is silly, but I was happy to discover that I had finished reading the book on exactly the same date when the book comes to an end, 7th of December 2018. I take that as a sign and look forward to reading many more books by the author.

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review 2018-12-06 17:51
‘The Liar’s Room’ fell flat for me; intriguing premise but set in just one room and animal abuse that I couldn’t get past
The Liar's Room - Simon Lelic

The concept of this book is intriguing: two people are ’stuck’ inside a room until the truth comes out. It reads much like the basis for the plot of the horror movie series ’Saw’ or how it would be to be stuck in a nightmarish panic room.

But in the case of ’The Liar’s Room,’ a dangerous client is keeping a therapist in her office, forcing the truth to come out about her dead son, and has let her know that he is holding her daughter hostage somewhere until she divulges everything.

 

It is extremely rare for me to give up on a book for content, style, pace, just about anything. But I'm afraid to say that this one has broken my streak of finishing books because I do believe I should give them a chance right through until the end. But someone mentioned recently to stop reading a book if you're truly not enjoying it, and I got to a point in this one where I honestly was not enjoying it anymore.

 

What absolutely did it for me was abuse to an animal (a cat) and this followed a fair amount of obscene language that I felt was over the top and ’reaching’ just a bit. I'm not a prude, or naïve by any means, and I'm not scared away by much (I actually read a lot of horror writing), but it felt like this was used as a plot device for shock value and didn't serve enough as part of the storyline. Additionally, the detail, since it was being explained as something being looked back on, was unnecessary and the situation that this happened within was feeling like a continued stretch to me.

I was already having trouble staying with the story going from the therapist office (a static location) to lengthy descriptions of what happened in the past. It wasn't holding my interest how I hoped it would.

 

I hate that I couldn't continue with this but once I got to that point in the book, I had that nasty image in my head and it wouldn't disappear. I can handle just about any horror movie, all the blood and guts, I'm not afraid of heights, needles, snakes, nothing. But don't give me animal abuse.

 

I absolutely want to read Simon Lelic’s other books though; I have several on my TBR list. I'm actually a big fan of psychological thrillers.

This one, however, was not for me.

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/37961294-the-liar-s-room
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review 2018-10-06 00:47
Review: The Wife's Secret by Kerry Wilkinson
The Wife's Secret - Kerry Wilkinson

Published by: Bookouture (10th October 2018)

 

ISBN: 978-1786817075

 

Source: Netgalley 

 

Rating: 5*

 

Synopsis: 

Charley Willis was thirteen years old when her parents were killed in their family home and she was found hiding in a cupboard upstairs. 

Fifteen years later, Charley is marrying Seth Chambers. It should be the happiest day of their lives, a chance for Charley to put her past behind her, but just hours after the ceremony, she is missing.

No one saw her leave. No one knows where she is.

One thing is for certain…Seth is about to discover he doesn’t really know the woman he just married. And his nightmare is only just beginning. 

 

Review:

Oh WOW! I've not read one of Kerry's books for a while and how I've missed them! This deftly woven tale of intrigue caught my attention from the get go and completely ensnared me. I wasn't prepared for what was to unfold as the dramatic plot shared its darkest secrets, told from the perspectives of both Charley's husband Seth, in the present day, and Charley herself, via flashbacks. 

 

With more twists and turns than your average rollercoaster, The Wife's Secret will have you reading way past your bedtime and questioning every disappearance you will ever hear about again. It's full of suspense, familial tension and the author's brilliant attention to detail make this truly outstanding. 

 

 

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review 2018-09-29 02:00
Review: The Wife Before Me by Laura Elliot
The Wife Before Me - Laura Elliot

Published by: Bookouture (22nd August 2018)

 

ISBN: 978-1786816153

 

Source: Netgalley 

 

Rating: 3*

 

Synopsis:

One evening as the sun is setting, Amelia Madison’s car slides into the sea off Mason’s Pier. Her body is never found.

Two years later, Elena Langdon meets Nicholas Madison. She is grieving the loss of her mother, he is grieving for his wife. Together they can help each other.

Now Elena is living with Nicholas. But Elena doesn’t really know him. She doesn’t know what he is capable of.

And she doesn’t know what really happened to Amelia.

Until the day she discovers the torn page of a letter and the words she reads chill her to the bone.

Elena must find the person who wrote these letters if she is to save herself.

 

Review:

When I haven't enjoyed a book as much as average review scores tend to suggest, I do something that's rather out of character for me, and read those other reviews prior to writing my own, in case I've completely missed the point, or fallen asleep at a crucial moment and awoken later having omitted to read some vital shred of the plot that ties the whole book together. 

 

The Wife Before Me has some rave reviews, but I felt so disappointed with it. Some aspects of it I thought were well done, such as the domestic violence. As a survivor and also someone who has worked in DV, I found it to be realistic. However, I found it confusing at times and it was difficult to work out who was narrating. The ending was the biggest disappointment of all, it seemed so illogical. I read the last sentence and, I kid you not, actually said out loud "What?! Is that it?!" I found it contrived and it also felt rushed. 

 

Thanks to Bookouture for the ARC via Netgalley. This is my unbiased opinion. 

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