Psychological Thriller

All posts in the Psychological Thriller category

Blog Tour – Come A Little Closer by Rachel Abbott

Published February 18, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

They will be coming soon. They come every night.

Snow is falling softly as a young woman takes her last breath.

Fifteen miles away, two women sit silently in a dark kitchen. They don’t speak, because there is nothing left to be said.

Another woman boards a plane to escape the man who is trying to steal her life. But she will have to return, sooner or later.

These strangers have one thing in common. They each made one bad choice – and now they have no choices left. Soon they won’t be strangers, they’ll be family…

When DCI Tom Douglas is called to the cold, lonely scene of a suspicious death, he is baffled. Who is she? Where did she come from? How did she get there?

How many more must die? Who is controlling them, and how can they be stopped?

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Maura Wilding and all at Black Dot Publishers for getting in touch and asking me if I’d like to read a copy of the latest Rachel Abbott thriller in exchange for an honest review. Now I have to be honest, I hesitated a little bit initially. I’m a bit of a stickler for reading things in order and (confession time), I haven’t read a single one of Rachel Abbott’s novels before. However, I have read many, many good things from my fellow bloggers about the other books in the series so I threw my normal caution to the wind and thought I’d give it a go. I’m so glad I did as Come A Little Closer is a gripping, thought-provoking read that can easily be read as a stand-alone and at no time at all did I feel I had missed out too many crucial parts of the back stories of our returning characters.

I mean, who could resist wanting to try this book after reading that thrilling synopsis? It begins, as the synopsis suggest with two women sitting in a kitchen in complete silence and another woman who has made a very bad decision on a night out just before she is due to get married. Who are these women and how do they connect to the narrative? All will become clear, but the suspense was already needle sharp and I loved the whole mystery behind these intriguing women. Then we meet our main character, Callie who is attempting to escape a miserable relationship by going on a cruise. She meets an elderly lady whilst on holiday (and a rather intense young man) the former of whom provides an emotional crutch on which she can lean on and spout all her worries about the relationship she has with her horribly leech-like, very persistent and stubborn boyfriend.

Sooner or later however, Callie is forced to return to reality and face her demons, including her boyfriend. What she isn’t expecting is for her life to take such an unexpected and dangerous turn that has her questioning everything, including her own sanity. Combined with all of this, as if this wasn’t enough drama, we have DCI Tom Douglas who is investigating a strange murder of a woman found in the snow and they are unsure whether she took her own life or there are suspicious circumstances involved. When tenuous connections are found to another historical death, Tom must discover what on earth is happening to these women and all these other links in the narrative start to make a horrific kind of sense.

I didn’t mean to make my explanation of the novel so long but honestly, there is so much that could be said about it! From the very first page, you start to understand that you are dealing with a very convoluted story, involving multiple characters with potentially, numerous twists and turns to be had. Essentially, this is exactly what I got from Come A Little Closer. It’s thrilling, occasionally shocking and definitely difficult to stop reading once you get started. I became quite invested in the characters, particularly Callie who I found myself hugely frustrated with at points and terribly sorry for at other times. Sometimes she can be very naive and there were times when I just wanted to shake her and open her eyes as to what was going on or push that little bit of courage into her so that she could finally break away from her situation. As the reader, you kind of know what’s going on pretty early in the novel, but that’s no bad thing – what we really want to know as we absorb the tale is WHY? Of course, Rachel Abbott writes a fascinating enough plot to keep you guessing and surprise you in equal terms by the time you get to the grand finale.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Rachel Abbott, born and raised in Manchester, founded her own interactive media company in the 1980s, before selling it and retiring in 2005. She then moved to Italy where she worked on the renovation of a 15th century Italian monastery, and it was here that, one day, she found herself snowed in and decided to begin writing for pleasure.

This became her debut novel Only The Innocent, which she went on to publish via Kindle Direct Publishing, topping their chart for 4 weeks.

A true self-publishing pioneer, Come a Little Closer is Abbott’s seventh novel. All of her previous thrillers have hit no.1 in the Kindle charts. She splits her time between Alderney in the Channel Islands and Italy.

Find Rachel on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5349971.Rachel_Abbott

on Twitter at: @RachelAbbott

on her website at: http://www.rachel-abbott.com

Thank you once again to Maura Wilding and Black Dot Publishers  for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Come A Little Closer was published on the 15th February 2018 and is available from all good bookshops now. If you want some more fantastic reviews don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers stops for some more fantastic reviews!

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37969850-come-a-little-closer?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Come-Little-Closer-Rachel-Abbott-ebook/dp/B079GYCX7R/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518971261&sr=8-1&keywords=come+a+little+closer+rachel+abbott

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Broken River – J. Robert Lennon

Published February 6, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A modest house in upstate New York. One in the morning. Three people—a couple and their child—hurry out the door, but it’s too late for them. As the virtuosic and terrifying opening scene of Broken River unfolds, a spectral presence seems to be watching with cold and mysterious interest. Soon the house lies abandoned, and years later a new family moves in.

Karl, Eleanor, and their daughter, Irina, arrive from New York City in the wake of Karl’s infidelity to start anew. Karl tries to stabilize his flailing art career. Eleanor, a successful commercial novelist, eagerly pivots in a new creative direction. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Irina becomes obsessed with the brutal murders that occurred in the house years earlier. And, secretly, so does her mother. As the ensemble cast grows to include Louis, a hapless salesman in a carpet warehouse who is haunted by his past, and Sam, a young woman newly reunited with her jailbird brother, the seemingly unrelated crime that opened the story becomes ominously relevant.

Hovering over all this activity looms a gradually awakening narrative consciousness that watches these characters lie to themselves and each other, unleashing forces that none of them could have anticipated and that put them in mortal danger. Broken River is a cinematic, darkly comic, and sui generis psychological thriller that could only have been written by J. Robert Lennon.

What did I think?:

I have to admit, I’ve never heard of Broken River or the author, J. Robert Lennon before so I was delighted when it was the first book from my Daunt Books Annual Subscription that my lovely boyfriend gifted me for Christmas last year. I have made it my mission to read and review each book I receive as part of my Bookish Goals/Resolutions which I posted about in January. I’m always slightly concerned about a book subscription as I have a LOT of unread books on my shelves and I always worry that a book is going to be picked for me that I already own. Well, not only did I not already own Broken River but as I mentioned, I hadn’t even picked up on it being published so I was very excited to check out what it was all about.

It’s clearly a crying shame that I didn’t know about this book as it is a wonderful novel that is written in quite a literary style (i.e. gorgeous!) but has that edge of thriller that keeps you gripped, turning the pages quicker than you might do a “normal” literary novel. In fact, when I first started reading it, I was pretty determined that it was going to be a five star read for me. Unfortunately, I had a minor issue that stopped me from giving it the big five but I still insist that this is a fantastic book that needs to be read by more people.

Broken River is initially the story of a family – Mum, Dad and a young daughter who get into a horrific situation where the parents are killed, inches away from their surviving daughter. The perps responsible for the brutal murders are never found and brought to justice. After the daughter is taken into care, the house becomes abandoned, gathering dust, rodents and other house guests, including your typical teenagers who use it as “party central” and the homeless and drug addicts where it becomes a convenient place to sleep/get high.

This is until a new family moves into the house: Karl, Eleanor and teenage daughter Irina, all of whom have their own issues and deep, dark secrets. As we follow their story, we also learn how they all deceive each other, for one reason or another and witness the struggles of their relationships, particularly when an obsession develops with the murky history of the family that came before them and Irina’s insistence that she has found the previous daughter who saw her parents being murdered in such a terrible way. Of course, this news doesn’t stay quiet for long and the family find themselves embroiled in a now very deadly situation when some people think the secrets and crimes of the past should remain buried.

There’s so many things to love about this book, particularly the writing style and most definitely, the variety of intriguing characters that the author develops beautifully. They’re all flawed in some way, particularly the villains of the piece (of course!) and especially the father, Karl whose little ways and the mistakes he makes, potentially hurting his family forever, really got under my skin and made me cross but I literally loved to hate him. Yes I might have made a little huff of anger at him during several parts of the narrative but who hasn’t groaned at a nasty character that you can’t stand in a novel? For me, that just means that J. Robert Lennon has done his job properly and written people that I can either really connect with i.e. Eleanor, Irina or others that I just want to throw in a river.

Additionally, I thought it was fantastic that he gives some of his more villainous characters quite a human edge and you can really see their regrets about what they might have done in their past and the sticky situation that they feel they can’t run away from in the present time. Personally, there were only a tiny, minuscule part of this novel that I didn’t quite connect with and stopped me from giving it five stars. There were a few chapters interspersed between the main narrative from the point of view of The Observer. He/she watches certain events as if he is with the character at the time and gives a whole new perspective of their actions. Now I really enjoyed this at the beginning and thought it was quite frankly, a genius move by the author. However, the chapters nearer the end starting getting a bit too philosophical for my liking and sadly, it didn’t evoke the same emotions in me as it did at the beginning. Apart from this, I would urge anyone with an interest in literary fiction and crime to try this book, it might just surprise you. It definitely surprised me.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

 

18 Books I’d Like To Read In 2018

Published February 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hi everyone and welcome to a bit of a different post on my blog. I’ve already made some Bookish Goals/Resolutions for the year but I also made a little promise to myself that I would do a random post every month that I have been inspired to participate in from seeing it either on booktube or from a fellow blogger. A lot of the booktubers that I follow have been posting videos about 18 books they would like to read in 2018 and I thought I’d join in with the fun. So, without any further ado, here are the 18 books I’d like to get to this year!

1.) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Jane Eyre is tied for one of my all time favourite classics (with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen). My mum got me a beautiful clothbound classic for my birthday a couple of years ago and I’m definitely due a re-read so I’m excited to read it in this beautiful edition.

2.) The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I’ve read a few John Boyne books now and loved every one of them. I’m really trying hard not to buy hardbacks at the moment but when I read Renee’s @ It’s Book Talk review of it HERE, I bought it immediately. I’m actually reading this very soon as it’s part of the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club 2018 and I’m beyond excited.

3.) The Wisdom Of Psychopaths – Kevin Dutton

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is a non-fiction book that I think does pretty much what it says on the tin. The reason I want to read it this year is that it’s been on my “to read soon,” shelf for too blinking long now. This needs to happen.

4.) Stasi Wolf – David Young

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I went to see David Young talk about this first novel in this series, Stasi Child at Guildford Library last year and was determined to read the second book in the series. Of course, life and other books got in the way but I’m going to make it one of my priorities this year.

5.) Midwinter – Fiona Melrose

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Midwinter was long-listed for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction last year and I always love to read some of the nominees for this fantastic prize, I find such interesting books are picked. This book got a lot higher on my list after I watched a video from one of my favourite book tubers Simon from Savidge Reads who loved this book and sold it to me incredibly well!

6.) The Rest Of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Patrick Ness is one of my favourite authors and I am shamefully behind with his books. That’s a good enough reason for me! I hope to get to his most recent book, Release as well but we’ll see how I get on.

7.) Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is another one of those books that I heard rave reviews about last year and just didn’t get round to reading. I will this year!

8.) End Of Watch – Stephen King

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is a no brainer for regular visitors to my blog. End Of Watch is the third novel in the Bill Hodges/Mr Mercedes trilogy and I’m really excited to see how the story ends. It left on quite the cliffhanger in the second book, Finders Keepers.

9.) Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King and Owen King

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Oh look another Stephen King book! This is Stephen King’s latest release that he wrote with his son, Owen and this cover does not do justice to how beautiful the book is in real life. My boyfriend bought me a copy to cheer me up after a rough year as I was trying to wait for it to come out in paperback. It’s a chunky beast but I’m so glad and grateful he got it for me, now I can read it even sooner!

10.) Charlotte Bronte – Claire Harman

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is a non-fiction account of the life of Charlotte Bronte (as I mentioned before, Jane Eyre is one of my all time favourite classics/books). I have been neglecting my non fiction recently and this is another present from my wonderful boyfriend albeit a couple of years ago – oops. This is why I need to get to it this year!

11.) English Animals – Laura Kaye

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I had been aware of English Animals last year and the cover is obviously stunning but it was only after watching book tubers Mercedes from Mercy’s Bookish Musings and Lauren from Lauren And The Books give glowing reviews for this novel that I knew I had to make time for it this year.

12.) Her Husband’s Lover – Julia Crouch

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I met Julia Crouch at a bookish event a little while ago and she kindly signed my copy of this book and was lovely to talk to. I gave this book originally to my sister to read as she’s a big Julia Crouch fan but now I’m determined to read it for myself, especially after seeing Chrissi’s wonderful review.

13.) The House In Smyrna – Tatiana Salem Levy

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Confession time. This is a review copy that the lovely people at Scribe were kind enough to send me that I thought I had lost and have found recently. I remember why I was so excited to read it when it arrived and I’m definitely going to be checking it out soon.

14.) Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is another non-fiction book that I’ve had on my shelf for a long, long time and I keep meaning to read it but keep getting distracted by other books. It promises to change the way you look at eating meat so I’m intrigued. My boyfriend and sister are vegetarians but I still love the taste of meat…even if I feel very guilty about doing so!

15.) The Man Who Died – Antti Tuomainen

Why do I want to read it this year?:

My lovely blogger friend Stuart from Always Trust In Books sent me some wonderful books and I loved the sound of all of them but I’m especially intrigued by this one, just read his review to see why.

16.) We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Yes, it’s been on my shelves for ages. Sigh! It won a host of awards and was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2014. Plus, I think my sister is quite keen to read it so I need to get started so I can pass it on to her!

17.) The Death House – Sarah Pinborough

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I can’t even remember buying this book (hangs head in shame) but re-reading the synopsis right now and hearing great things about this author from other bloggers I know that I need to start reading some Sarah Pinborough. As I already have this book this seems the perfect place to start.

18.) Miss Jane – Brad Watson

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I bought this book on the London Bookshop Crawl in Oxford last year which I went to with my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads. Of course I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover so it was that I have to admit that initially attracted me. However, the synopsis cemented the deal and I couldn’t resist buying it.

So that’s the 18 books I’d like to read in 2018! I’d love to hear from you guys, have you read any of these books? If you have, what did you think? What books would you recommend I get to sooner rather than later this year? If any other bloggers fancy doing (or have done) their 18 books to read in 2018 please leave your link down below, I’d love to check out what you really want to read this year.

Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn

Published December 17, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows, a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.

What did I think?:

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years or so, you cannot have failed to witness the phenomenon that was Gillian Flynn’s third novel, Gone Girl. When I read it, I was completely blown away, particularly with all the intricate twists and turns that made the narrative so blinking exciting to read. I finished it determined to explore the rest of the author’s back catalogue, to satisfy my impatience in waiting for her to write something else, like RIGHT NOW. Sharp Objects was actually her debut novel and I thought, a great place to start. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed. It didn’t have the “ka-pow” of Gone Girl unfortunately (perhaps I had unrealistic expectations anyway) but it was still a rollicking good read and incredibly dark, definitely not one for those of you sensitive and triggered by certain issues i.e. self harm.

Most of the characters in this novel are disturbed, damaged or broken in some way, shape or form including our main female protagonist, Camille Preaker who returns to her home town as a reporter investigating the murder of two young girls. However, in attempting to unravel the mystery surrounding the tragic deaths, she becomes embroiled in confronting her own demons. This includes trying to repair a fragile relationship with a distant mother and endeavouring to forge some kind of connection with her thirteen year old half sister, Amma. Camille finds out very quickly that her past trials and tribulations are still very much a part of her present and that the toughest and most frightening test of her life may be still to come.

This is another one of those novels that you really can’t say too much about the plot for fear of ruining everything so I’m going to stop there. I will just say that even though I was familiar with Gillian Flynn’s style of story-telling, I was still woefully unprepared for the twisty darkness that lies within this novel. Every single character here has a murky past, is troubled in some way and a lot of the times, is entirely unreliable. Yet this is what made it such a fascinating read, even if I had to muffle exclamations of horror at some points! Personally, I particularly love to hate an unlikeable character and there are plenty of them in this novel to shake your head at, get frustrated and perhaps in some cases, feel a little frightened of. Even Camille herself is far from perfect and had me screaming at her internally quite a few times with the decisions that she made. No, it’s not Gone Girl, that’s true so if you’re expecting that you might be a bit disappointed. However, if you’re in the mood for something deliciously sinister and raw, this should be right up your street.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Hush Little Baby – Joanna Barnard

Published November 17, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When baby Oliver breaks his arm, no-one can (or will) say how it happened.

His mother is exhausted.

His father is angry.

His older sister is resentful.

And they all have something to hide

What did I think?:

First of all, a big thank you to Ebury Press, part of Penguin Random House publishers for sending me a copy of this fantastic thriller in exchange for an honest review. Hush Little Baby was released in August 2017 and apologies that I’m only getting round to reading it now, I certainly won’t make that mistake again with any future novel I happen to read by Joanna Barnard. This book was such a wonderful surprise, exciting, tense and twisty that delves into some very dark places and controversial issues with ease and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment, racing through it in less than twenty-four hours like a woman possessed!

The above synopsis says everything you really need to know concerning what this book is about. As you may know, I’m not one for revealing spoilers so I’m hoping to be as deliberately vague as possible regarding the plot. It’s basically the story of a family – Sally, her husband Richard, their baby Oliver and Oliver’s teenage half-sister Martha. All their lives are turned upside down one night when Oliver has to be rushed to hospital after mysteriously breaking his arm with an injury the hospital are certain is unequivocally not accidental. No one is accepting responsibility for the incident and each member of the family has their own issues to deal with about the night in question i.e. where they were, what they were doing etc. Now social services have become involved and have removed Oliver from his parents to his grandparents custody whilst they try to find out what has happened. Hush Little Baby is a novel where parental responsibilities are questioned, dark secrets are unearthed and the actions of all our characters are revealed slowly and steadily with an ending that will leave you dumbfounded and in my case, slightly unsettled.

This fascinating novel is told in one of my favourite ways, from multiple perspectives. We hear from all three “potentially guilty,” parties in alternating chapters: Sally, Richard and Martha who were all there in some way when baby Oliver was injured. It was quite early on in the story that I began to have opinions on all three persons concerned, all of whom have made mistakes on that night but it’s up to the reader to decide who indeed might have made the biggest mistake. The plot itself deals with multiple issues, apart from the obvious issue of child abuse/neglect, it also explores mental illness, relationship difficulties and there are trigger warnings for self-harm which you should be aware of if you are sensitive to this subject. Because of this, it goes to some incredibly murky depths to paint the picture of what *might* have happened to Oliver and who *may* be to blame.

I have to say it made my emotions go haywire at points, particularly with the character depiction. I wanted to shake one of them at one point, I despised another with a passion and then I wanted to just take another far away from it all. It is the story of what happened to Oliver but mainly, it’s a novel about how a relationship can be affected by a crisis such as this, how people either do or do not take responsibility for their actions and how detrimental your actions can be to another person (or people) without even being aware of it. If you’re after a psychological thriller that is much more about the reactions of characters rather than what actually happened to the child, I would definitely read this book. Personally, I’ll definitely be checking out Joanna’s first book, Precocious on the strength of this one and I can hardly wait.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The House – Simon Lelic

Published November 4, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…

What did I think?:

I remember reading one other novel from Simon Lelic in my pre-blogging days which was called Rupture or alternatively A Thousand Cuts and really enjoyed it, giving it four stars on GoodReads so goodness knows why it’s taken me so long to get round to another one of his books! I borrowed The House from my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads after a bookish trip to Bath when she was reading it and she had so many different facial expressions and reactions whilst she was reading that I was instantly intrigued and begged to borrow it from her. The House has everything you would want from a gritty thriller – unreliable narrators, suspense, mystery, twists and turns and a gripping plot that makes it pretty much impossible to put the book down.

One of my favourite things about this novel is the way in which it is initially written. We hear in alternate chapters from a couple, Jack and Sydney as they recount recent events in their lives that began with them buying a house in London and ended with a murder and the suspicion of the police landing firmly on their doorstep. We learn a little bit about their past lives, in particular Sydney’s traumatic childhood which led to her abusing drugs and unable to trust anyone until she meets the love of her life, Jack. We also learn how they came to buy the house in London, their concerns and misgivings about the process and, crucially, the gruesome discovery that they find when they begin living there which precipitates a host of other events leading to the turbulent situation that the couple find themselves in at the present moment.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot as the beauty of this novel is to go in knowing as little as possible to make the surprises the author springs upon the reader as deliciously astonishing as possible. Luckily, Chrissi didn’t tell me anything (she’s good like that!) but as soon as I saw some of her facial expressions, as I mentioned, I knew I was in for quite the ride and I was right. Simon Lelic writes a fascinating tale where you have no idea what on earth is happening, who to trust/believe and what the possible outcome of such a situation could be and he had me on tenterhooks from the very beginning to the very satisfying conclusion. For me, Sydney felt slightly more fleshed out as a character and I found her back story to be incredibly powerful and moving, especially one scene in particular involving a male character in her life and a gun which sent shivers down my spine. Reading The House has made me definitely want to seek out the author’s other two novels and additionally, makes me hugely excited for anything else he publishes in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Talking About Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land with Chrissi Reads

Published September 2, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

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.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: I started this book a bit before you and told you how disturbing it was. Did you agree with my initial impression? What were your first impressions?

BETH: It was quite funny in a way. You started reading it and then texted me just two words – “Woah dude.” Then I got to the exact same point in the book that you did and texted you exactly the same thing! I know we usually hate comparisons and like that a book should stand on its own but as you said to me, this was one of the most disturbing things I’ve read since Gone Girl, I think. Obviously I don’t want to go into too many details for fear of spoilers but this novel is a lot darker, a lot twistier and more warped than I could have ever expected. You would think I might be expecting this if you read the synopsis? No, I wasn’t prepared for how “wrong,” it was going to get.

BETH: What did you think of the character of Phoebe? Could you sympathise with her at all?

CHRISSI: It’s an interesting question as Phoebe is such a complex character. I felt sorry for her because her home life was pretty horrific. Her mother didn’t have a great bond with her and she was feeling left out when Milly was getting a lot of attention from Phoebe’s parents. That can’t be nice. Especially when Phoebe’s mum gave Milly a gift that Phoebe thought was a precious thing between Phoebe and her mother. However, I didn’t feel comfortable with the bullying that Phoebe and her friends were inflicting upon Milly. Bullying should never be excused in my eyes!

CHRISSI: Ali Land is a Child and Adolescent Mental Health nurse – how do you think this affects the way she has written this novel?

BETH: I think it’s given her a perfect insight into mental illness in children, to be honest. She’s probably seen and experienced some things in her career and understands how a child may view a certain situation, what they might do and what kinds of emotions they might be experiencing as a result. Because of this, the novel came across as very authentic to me and as I mentioned before, I certainly wasn’t prepared for the directions the author took with the story.

BETH: Milly has to give evidence in a court in front of her mother – how do you think this was handled in the novel?

CHRISSI: I thought this was dealt with really well in the novel. Milly wanted to be there in court and this wasn’t disregarded because it was too tough for her. The adults around Milly seemed to listen to her. I also enjoyed how the court scenes were written. I loved how Milly’s mother’s presence was so strong in the novel. It was almost creepy. She felt like an incredibly evil character (what she did was awful!) and her little movements mentioned in the court scene made my skin crawl. I loved how the author made us feel her presence in court (despite Milly not physically seeing her) and how much Milly was aware of it.

CHRISSI: What does this story tell us about the question of nature vs nurture?

BETH: As a scientist (by day!) I probably could have a very scientific answer for you… 😝 but to be honest, I think the book explores both aspects. Is it the genes within us that programme us to be what we are and how we react to certain situations? Or is it the environment outside i.e. how we are brought up, who we interact with that determines our behaviour and actions. If I’m fair, poor Milly didn’t have much of a choice either way considering she was brought up with a serial killer for a mother. It’s how she responds when taken out of that situation however that gets very interesting.

BETH: How would you describe the relationship between Milly and her mother?

CHRISSI: In two words… incredibly unhealthy! I felt like Milly constantly struggled with the feelings towards her mother. It says it all really in the title ‘Good Me, Bad Me.’ Milly was so aware of what was right and wrong. She knew what her mother had done was wrong, yet she still felt a strong pull towards her, despite all of the awful things that had happened to her. Milly really was messed up by her mother and understandably so. Their relationship was toxic. Milly’s mother ‘training’ her daughter for such awful things…

CHRISSI: How does this book compare to others in its heavily populated genre?

BETH: I was a huge fan of this book. I think it stands heads and shoulders above quite a few books in the genre. I don’t know if it’s the writing style, the subject matter or the fact that the author isn’t afraid to go to incredibly dark places but I loved what she did with the story and even though it made me feel intensely uncomfortable and disgusted it was an unforgettable reading experience.

BETH: Would you read another novel by this author?

CHRISSI: I really would! This is such a promising debut novel. I loved how Ali Land didn’t shy away from such an uncomfortable topic.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

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CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

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