Talking About ‘I See You’ by Clare Mackintosh

I See You

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you’re going.

You’re not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .

CHRISSI: What were your initial thoughts before reading this book?

BETH: I was excited! We reviewed Claire’s debut novel I Let You Go as part of our “Talking About” feature and we both really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to reading this one. Particularly when I read the synopsis which sounded so intriguing that I had high expectations for the novel as a whole. Plus I received a copy recently from the lovely Book And A Brew subscription box people and I was trying to make room and time to read it so when it appeared on the Richard and Judy bookclub list (which we follow almost religiously) I was very pleased as I would finally have a chance to get to it.

BETH: What did you make of Zoe’s relationship with her ex-husband Matt compared to her current relationship with Simon?

CHRISSI: A good question! I actually found Zoe’s relationship with Simon to be a little bit too good to be true. I didn’t like Simon much as a character. He grated on me, for some reason! He was jealous of Matt which made things awkward for Zoe. I thought that Zoe got on remarkably well with her ex-husband. She seemed to rely on him a little bit compared to Simon. I guess when you have children together there’s going to be a connection there still, especially if it ends amicably.

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable at all?

BETH: No, not really to be honest. Now I’m wondering if you did? I didn’t really see anything coming, from the start of the book and the reason why women’s photographs were being used in the paper to the end of the novel and the “final reveal” where the perp is unmasked. I always appreciate it when I can’t see things coming and the author manages to surprise me.

BETH: The character of Kelly, a policewoman, is a bit of a “loose cannon,” did you enjoy reading about her story?

CHRISSI: I really enjoyed reading Kelly’s story. I actually liked Kelly. She was a well meaning character even if she was a little bit of a ‘loose cannon’. She was incredibly eager. Her heart was always in her actions and you can’t ask for more than that!

CHRISSI: Zoe is a very ordinary woman – do you think a central character in a thriller needs to be relatable to make the story work?

BETH: Great question! Hmmm, yes I do think they do but I never thought about it in that way before. A normal, relatable character like Zoe who is incredibly ordinary and has the same worries, pressures and flaws as the rest of us made me instantly like her and connect to her story more than I would have done if the character had been entirely alien to me. It made me sympathise with her predicament a lot more and root for her and her family.

BETH: Were you shocked by the final page at all? (no spoilers!)

CHRISSI: TOTALLY! This answers your earlier question to me about predictability. No, I did not see that coming at all. I can imagine that I looked like a cartoon character with their eyes popping out. Yes, that was totally me when reading that final page. I love it when author’s can shock me and Clare totally did that.

CHRISSI: Does this book live up to Clare’s debut?

BETH: Oh gosh. This is where it’s going to get tough. I Let You Go was such a brilliant read that I think it was going to be very difficult to live up to. When I first started I See You, I have to admit to being slightly concerned as it read very slow for me at the start and I kind of wondered when the action would start to kick in. About two-thirds of the way through however, I did become much more invested in the story and, as I mentioned, in Zoe’s character although I did find the ending slightly rushed. Is it as good as her debut? Not quite but it’s still a solid thriller that I’d recommend.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. Even though I felt like this book was a little slow to start, I was captivated before long and the plot twists really got me. That ending as well… superb! Clare Mackintosh is a great writer for this genre and I wouldn’t think twice about picking up her next book!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

Talking About ‘Lie With Me’ with Bibliobeth!

Lie With Me

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

“I suppose what I am saying is, how much do we collude in our own destruction? How much of this nightmare is on me?

You can hate and rail.
You can kick out in protest.

You can do foolish and desperate things, but maybe sometimes you just have to hold up a hand and take the blame.”

Breathless.
Claustrophobic.
Unsettling.
Impossible to put down.

CHRISSI: What was your first impression of this book?

BETH: To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t a great first impression! It was quite a slow start to the story although I had read some GoodReads reviews that mentioned that it got a lot better so I was kind of prepared for this. I was hopeful that it would pick up though and once our main character, Paul finally goes away on holiday with the woman he is seeing, the tension and action crept up a notch.

BETH: The (female) author has chosen to write from a male point of view. How well do you think she achieved this?

CHRISSI: Interesting question. I didn’t even think to take note of the fact that she was writing from a male point of view. To me, that says Sabine Durrant pulled it off. It never even crossed my mind that it was a female writing from a male point of view. Well done, Sabine!

CHRISSI: This novel is built on tension. Discuss how the author builds the tension and structures the novel.

BETH: I’m very wary of giving spoilers but I’ll do my best! I think the opening of the novel is absolutely brilliant. Let’s just say that Paul is in a place that we don’t expect him to be in (being deliberately vague, sorry!) and after this initial chapter, the story goes back in time to the events that occurred in the build up to the situation he now finds himself in. So we know where he ends up but we have no clue initially how on earth he got there! He seems, by all accounts to be a “normal,” man (apart from his compulsive lying, that is) and it makes the reader really rack their brains to try and figure out how and why he got where he ended up.

BETH: Discuss where the line falls between a few acceptable fibs and harmful lying. Is it ever ok to tell a small lie?

CHRISSI: Ooh, another good question. Lies are so difficult, because I would say that you shouldn’t lie if it is going to affect another person. However, sometimes I feel that some individuals need to be protected by a little white lie. It made me think though, is that okay? Is it okay to alter the truth a little to protect someone you care about? Argh, I really don’t know. In the end, the truth often comes out, so is it better to tell the truth from the start even if it causes some hurt? Harmful lying is obviously always a no, no for me, but ‘acceptable fibs’… hmm. It depends on your definition of acceptable. Some might consider something acceptable that others don’t. Ooh, such a good discussion subject and I haven’t even really come up with a decent response. All I’ll say is that line is very very unclear.

CHRISSI: Without spoilers- discuss the ending of the novel – did you see the twist coming?

BETH: Not really, no. I knew something wasn’t right with certain characters but I hadn’t figured out exactly what was going on. It was a big surprise when it came and I was shocked how it ended up. Did he deserve it? Some people might say yes, he wasn’t a very likeable character to say the least! However, what he ends up suffering is incredibly extreme in comparison to what he did wrong in my opinion. Loved the twist though, I’m really glad I didn’t predict it!

BETH: This novel has quite a slow pacing to it, did this affect your enjoyment of the story?

CHRISSI: To be honest, yes it did. I am not a fan of a slow paced novel, especially when I have a lot going on. I like to be picking up a book and immediately flying through the pages. I want something to get back to and want to get back to without worrying that I’m going to be bored. I just don’t think this book’s pacing worked for me, although I know some people really enjoyed it and got over the slow pace.

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

BETH: I thought this book was quite different to other psychological thrillers that I’ve read and I thought it was quite brave in a lot of ways. It read to me almost like a literary psychological thriller (no offence meant to other psychological thrillers). I just mean that the pacing compared to other thrillers was quite slow and you usually find with other books in the genre it’s all quite action-packed and not really focused on character development, unlike Lie With Me. By the end of the book, I actually thought it was the most interesting novel in the genre that I’ve read for a long time and has stayed with me for a while, always a good sign that a book’s got under your skin!

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I’m not sure. It would depend on the subject matter. I thought it was interesting enough, but the pace did affect my enjoyment.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

The One by John Marrs

The One

How did I get it?:
I received it from the publisher. Many thanks to them! This does not affect my opinion of the book!

Synopsis:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes.

One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love.

Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Thoughts:

I was very intrigued to be sent this book through the post.

1

The One centres around a Match test which is a test where your DNA determines who you should be in love with. It’s an interesting concept that’s for sure. Is true love really something that can be determined by Science? I’m sure many scientists (I’m looking at you, Beth) would be interested by that. It’s a premise that really intrigued me and made me think. The story follows the connections made between matches. Some of the connections are confusing to our characters and some people are matched that really surprise others. For example, a man happily engaged to a woman finds himself to be matched with another man.

There are loads of twists and turns within the story and connections that you discover along the way. The characters are so complex and there are some rather shady characters. The story may have a scientific aspect but it’s more about the emotions, so if Science scares you, then don’t be put off by this book.

I first wondered why this book was billed as a psychological thriller, but it really is. I don’t want to say anything else about the plot because I don’t want to ruin it. Like any good thriller, it’s worth not knowing a lot before you jump into the story. There are more genres that this book falls into though. There’s romance and a slice of crime.

I have to admit, at the start I was very confused as there are quite a few characters and even though each chapter is character named, it took me a while to get into their story and work out who was who. As soon as I grasped it though, I was gripped by their stories and wanted to find out their secrets. In this book, every character has a story of their own to be told and I loved exploring them.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

An intriguing idea!

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

How did I get it?:
I received it as my third book from Mr B’s Emporium’s Reading Year

Synopsis:

When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up and begins to read.

But as she turns the pages she is horrified to realize she is a key character, a main player.

This story will reveal her darkest secret.

A secret she thought no one else knew…

Thoughts:

I was sent this book as my third book in my reading year which was purchased for me by my sister Beth from Bibliobeth and my mum. I get a book a month sent to me from the wonderful Mr B’s Emporium. This was one of their picks for me and I was very impressed with it. I think most regular readers of my blog will know that I’m quite a fan of psychological thrillers and this one immediately gripped me.

It centres around Catherine Ravenscroft who seems to have it all. She is married to a devoted husband, Robert and they both have successful careers. They have one son, Nicholas, who has recently moved out of home. He hasn’t lived up to what they want for him, but he is still living an independent life. We read about different periods of time-Catherine in 2013 who is loved and respected but who finds a book on her bedside where she appears to be the main character. The story is about an incident which happened years ago. Catherine is now terrified as she thought she had concealed what had happened to her in the past. As well as Catherine’s perspective, we hear from Stephen Brigstocke, who is a retired teacher and appears to want to destroy Catherine’s life for what happened in the past.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because it would ruin it. That’s why it’s always so tricky to review a psychological thriller. No-one wants to be disappointed by a spoiler! There are characters who you’ll hate in this book, but boy, I loved to hate them.

I really didn’t know who to trust in this story. There are so many twists, turns and curveballs in the way. I was intrigued to see who was going to be telling the truth and what Renee Knight might throw into the plot next. There were some points of the book that really turned my stomach. It certainly is a wonderful psychological thriller because you really don’t know what’s going to happen next.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful psychological thriller- well worth reading!

Blog Tour- My Sister’s Bones

How did I get it?:
I received a copy from the publishers! Thanks to Penguin Random House

Synopsis:

ARE YOU BRAVE ENOUGH TO GO BACK?

Kate Rafter is a successful war reporter. She’s the strong one. The one who escaped Herne Bay and the memories it holds. Her sister Sally didn’t. Instead, she drinks.

But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return to the old family home. And on her first night she is woken by a terrifying scream.

What secret has Kate stumbled upon?
And is she strong enough to uncover the truth . . . and make it out alive?

Thoughts:

Well, well, well…I have to admit that this book surprised me. I have read a lot of psychological thrillers over the last few years and I felt like some were becoming a little same-y until Nuala Ellwood stepped forward with My Sister’s Bones. I was really impressed with this psychological thriller. As soon as I got into the story, I didn’t want to put it down. It was utterly readable. The story is told in three parts which I found to be so easy to read.

It mainly centres around Kate Rafter. Kate is a successful reporter. She has covered the awful events in Syria and has been deeply moved but at the same time a little disturbed from what she has seen. After Kate’s mother died, Kate had to return to sort out some business at home. Her younger sister, Sally, was at home, but Sally has fallen to pieces since their father died prior to their mother dying. Sally spends her days completely drunk. Sally’s own family is fractured. Her daughter Hannah has left home, unable to cope with her mother’s alcoholism. Sally’s husband, Paul, is desperate to encourage Sally to become sober, but there’s so much in the family’s past, it’s certainly a tough job.

This book isn’t particularly a light read but it’s so easy to keep reading despite its horrific content in some places. There’s so much going on in the story. There’s the awful events in Syria (which are incredibly evocative), domestic violence and even more awful things which I can’t begin to explain without ruining the story and that I certainly don’t want to do.

I loved this book because I didn’t know whether to trust Kate, our main protagonist. There are certain moments of the book where I believed in her and other moments which made me question her. I adore that in a book. I love uncertainty. It keeps me thinking and guessing. It certainly wasn’t same-y compared to others in its genre. I may have predicted some of the twist and turns in the story, but I didn’t predict all of them!

I absolutely loved this book which kept me turning the pages. It can feel a little slow to start, but trust me, stay with it and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the read!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

If you’re looking for a fabulous psychological thriller then this one could be for you!

Mother, Mother

Mother, Mother

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

All is not well with the Hurst family. There is gentle teenage daughter Violet, whose experiments with fasting and drugs land her in a psychiatric ward; eight-year-old Will who is smart, funny and caring but has already been labelled autistic and is being home-schooled; and mother Josephine, whose subtly controlling and seemingly innocent manoeuvres may just be the source of everyone else’s despair. And then there’s Rose, the sister who got away. Tired of Josephine’s interferences, Rose ran away from home years earlier and hasn’t been heard from since. But as her mother’s intentions become more terrifyingly clear, Violet begins to wonder whether something far, far worse happened to her older sister.

Thoughts:

As it may be coming clear on my blog, I do love a psychological thriller. I first heard about this book a few years back when Beth and I visited Luna. They both bought a copy of Mother, Mother. Beth then passed it on for me to read. I decided to pick it up during my summer holidays from work. Mother, Mother sounded like an intriguing, grippiing read. Personally, it took me a while to get into the book. It felt like it was taking me ages to get to the action. Mother, Mother slowly pulls you in and makes you very suspicious of the characters.

Mother, Mother uses dual narratives to explore the relationships the Hurst children have with their mother. Rose, the oldest, has run away from home to escape her mother. Violet has been sectioned in a mental health unit due to an incident against her brother, Will, that she has no recollection of. Will still lives at home with his mum. He is homeschooled by her. Will has autism and epilepsy. He adores his mother and is always willing to please her, never realising how highly manipulative she is.

I found Will and Violet’s perspectives intriguing to read. I personally think they are quite unreliable narrators and because of the nature of the story, I was never sure who to believe. They really do form an interesting account of their home life and both are different due to their differing relationships with their mother.

The mother in question, Josephine, is incredibly manipulative. I didn’t trust her from the very beginning. I didn’t believe Will that she was the loving and caring mother that he believed she was. Reading about her made me feel uncomfortable as I tried to work out what on earth was happening. I think every member of the Hurst family was damaged in some way. The father infuriated me at times as although he has his own problems, I wanted him to stand up for his children sooner than he began to.

Mother, Mother is worth reading but be warned, the pace isn’t as fast as you might expect from a psychological thriller. It’s definitely a slow burner.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!- 3.5 stars!

A decent psychological thriller, which’ll have you doubting the characters!

Little Girl Gone

Little Girl Gone

How did I get it?:
It was a gift!

Synopsis:

A baby goes missing. But does her mother want her back?

When Estelle’s baby daughter is taken from her cot, she doesn’t report her missing. Days later, Estelle is found in a wrecked car, with a wound to her head and no memory.

Estelle knows she holds the key to what happened that night – but what she doesn’t know is whether she was responsible…

Thoughts:

I’m a little bit fed up of every psychological thriller being compared to Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train. It’s boring and uninspired. That aside, I did really like the sound of Little Girl Gone, so I found some time to get stuck into the book. I don’t think it’s the best psychological thriller I’ve read but it was definitely well considered and had an interesting subject matter.

Little Girl Gone starts with Estelle Paradise waking up one morning and finding that her little baby Mia has disappeared from her cot. What’s strange is that her nappies, clothes, bottles etc. have also disappeared. Mia goes to the police station but doesn’t actually end up reporting her daughter missing. We later read of Estelle being involved in an accident. She is found with a wound to her head and amnesia. She can’t remember what has happened to Mia and whether she might be involved. The media, of course, have a field day with speculation because Estelle never reported Mia’s disappearance. They begin to blame both parents for their involvement. Estelle goes into a psychiatric unit in order to unravel the truth with the help of a therapist. A lot of information is given to the reader through flashbacks.

I thought Little Girl Gone was a fascinating look at postpartum psychosis. I began to wonder through the use of flashbacks whether Estelle was in some way responsible for Mia’s disappearance. I believe that’s what the author wants you to believe. I certainly didn’t trust Estelle. I do love an unreliable narrator.

I really felt like the author explored the mind of a new mother experiencing postpartum psychosis. I really felt for Estelle and I believe that was down to Alexandra Burt’s writing of a new mum on the edge. I also despaired at the lack of support around for Estelle. It’s so easy to feel negatively about Estelle, especially as you read about some of her darkest thoughts and moments.

For me, the book was too long. Towards the middle of the book I think some of the ‘big reveal’ really slowed down the pace of the story. My interest waned by then. I certainly wasn’t as gripped or invested in the characters at the start. Therefore, even though I would still recommend this book to psychological thriller fans, I don’t think it’s anything stand out in a very populated genre.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Not a stand-out in the genre, but a good psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator!