Follow Me Down by Sherri Smith

Follow Me Down

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Macmillan

Synopsis:

Mia Haas has built a life for herself far from the North Dakota town where she grew up, but when she receives word that her twin brother is missing, she’s forced to return home. Once hailed as the golden boy of their small town, Lucas Haas disappeared the same day the body of one of his high school students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.

All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run?

As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s history is intertwined, Mia will be forced to confront her own demons, placing her right in the killer’s crosshairs.

Thoughts:

This book’s synopsis immediately grabbed me. It won’t be a surprise to many, to know that I really enjoy a thriller. I have read so many in the genre so I feel that every single time I pick up this genre, it has a lot to live up to. I really enjoyed Follow Me Down. I didn’t find it overly predictable or cliche like so many thrillers are becoming.

Follow Me Down centres around Mia who hasn’t had the easiest of childhoods. She struggles with an addiction to pills. Out of the blue, Mia receives a phone call from the police. Her twin brother, Lucas, is suspected of killing a teenage girl. He’s gone missing which certainly makes him a person of interest. Mia is convinced that her brother is innocent, so goes back to her small town to try and clear his name.

I really liked Mia from the start. I loved her determination to prove her brother’s innocence, despite some evidence not being stacked in her favour. I also really appreciated how Mia wasn’t a perfect, flawless character. Mia was carrying a lot of trauma from her childhood and was really trying to make life better for herself.

The reason why I haven’t given this book a four star rating is because it got a little slow towards the middle of the story. Don’t get me wrong, it was easy to read, but nothing really kept me gripped besides my desire to find out whether Lucas was guilty or not. The pace does pick up towards the end, so I would definitely recommend staying with it. I enjoyed Sherri Smith’s writing and I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book from her!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes- 3.5 stars

A decent thriller. It may not be the most fast paced, but it’ll keep you guessing!

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!

Talking About ‘Baby Doll’ by Hollie Overton

Baby Doll

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

Synopsis:

Held captive for eight years, Lily has grown from a teenager to an adult in a small basement prison. Her daughter Sky has been a captive her whole life. But one day their captor leaves the deadbolt unlocked.

This is what happens next…

…to her twin sister, to her mother, to her daughter…and to her captor.

CHRISSI: Hollie Overton is a TV scriptwriter- does this show in the way that she has structured this thriller?

BETH: Yes, I definitely think it does! It’s a fast paced, exciting thriller that had me on the edge of my seat but in the way it was written, it was almost like seeing a film in my head as each scene unfolded. I could picture every character and every moment so completely it was like the images were right there in front of me.

BETH: Discuss the relationship between Lily and Abby before and after her disappearance.

CHRISSI: I actually felt that the relationship between Lily and Abby was quite intense. I don’t know if it’s because they were twins, they had an even stronger connection than ‘normal’ sisters. I felt that their relationship became even more intense after her disappearance. It was clear to me that Abby felt so much love for her sister. She would do anything for her and was eager to protect her. My interpretation was that Abby felt more strongly for her sister, I felt that Lily could potentially be a little manipulative…

CHRISSI: We read a LOT of books in this genre. Do you think that this book stand out in a such a populated genre?

BETH: We certainly do. I think it’s one of our favourite genres to read but there is a risk that the market can get over-saturated with novels that all read like the same book. With Lily being captive for eight years and having had her jailer’s baby it felt very much like Room by Emma Donoghue and I was slightly worried that it was going to be the same thing. Then I was worried that it would have a lot to live up to being compared to Room (which is one of my favourite books ever) and wasn’t going to compare well. Luckily, Hollie Overton throws in many different plot devices and characters that kept it from being too similar. Especially with the ending!

BETH: What do you think Rick’s reasons were for capturing Lily and how do you think his attitude was to women in general?

CHRISSI: Rick honestly made my skin crawl. Just thinking of him now creeps me out and he’s a fictional character. I feel like Rick had an idea of what his perfect, young partner would be and that was Lily. I really disliked his attitude towards women. The fact that he was a teacher as well just didn’t sit right with it, it being my profession. I think he saw women as an object he could just manipulate. Ew. Didn’t like him.

CHRISSI: This book is as much about the consequences that a crime like this can have on a family as it is about the crime itself. Discuss how the different characters react to what has happened.

BETH: Lily’s poor family definitely go through the mill when she is captured and kept hostage for eight years in a basement. They have no idea whether she is alive or dead and their lives are ruined. Her father ends up passing away although the relationship between father and mother appears to be fraught and difficult just after Lily’s disappearance and prior to his death. After that, her mother has casual relationships with a few different men but doesn’t seem to be able to settle down again. Probably the worst affected though is Lily’s twin sister, Abby who blames herself for what happened to Lily, becomes depressed and suicidal and a bit of a “wild child.,” as she struggles to cope with what happened to her sister.

BETH: You’ve given this book quite a high rating. Was there anything about it you disliked?

CHRISSI: Apart from Rick? Ew. I thought that there were some unnecessary scenes in the book. I also didn’t think the relationship between Abby and Wes was overly believable which is why it didn’t get a 5 star treatment from me. I was actually quite surprised that this book has such mixed reviews. I couldn’t put it down!

CHRISSI: Without spoilers, did you predict the ending?

BETH: No way! The author really surprised me, to be honest. I expected this novel to be a bit predictable but right at the end she throws in a major plot twist which I totally wasn’t expecting and which I was delighted by. I had found some parts of the book a teensy bit unrealistic/unbelievable but how she chose to end the novel really altered my opinion of the entire book.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Definitely! I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course! 4.5 stars

 

Sharp Objects

Sharp Objects

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Gone Girl

Synopsis:

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg
Since she left town eight years ago, 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 again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.

HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle
As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

Thoughts:

I have been meaning to read Gillian Flynn’s previously released books after enjoying Gone Girl so much. I had high expectactions, especially when I heard they were amazing. I did really enjoy Sharp Objects but for me, it didn’t quite match up to the Gone Girl experience. I am, however, really excited about reading Dark Places. 

In Sharp Objects we follow Camille who is a reporter in Chicago. Camille is assigned to cover a suspected serial killer case in her old hometown. She knew she had to take it because Camille really needs the job. Camille knew that going home meant facing her mother who she was estranged from. Camille wants to report the case quickly and get back to Chicago, but it’s more complicated than that. Camille finds herself facing her past and confronting demons.

I really thought that Sharp Objects was going to be a bit of a crime book, but it’s much more than that. It does totally turn into a psyschological thriller where you’re left doubting most of the characters and their intentions. We explore mental health and unhealthy relationships. The reader gets to explore the possible motives behind the murders of two young girls. The town is really small, so the police aren’t used to handling such crimes. The trouble is, the secrets go much deeper than anyone might have imagined.

Sharp Objects is incredibly dark as you might expect from an author like Gillian Flynn. Everything has a much darker slant and I felt so uneasy throughout my reading experience. I always feel like Gillian Flynn creates female characters that are so easy to dislike. There were certainly several of them throughout this story. I love being pulled in by strong characters and Gillian Flynn really is a genius at creating such characters!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Strong characters and an uneasy atmosphere makes for a wonderful read!

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!

Talking About ‘The Widow’ with Bibliobeth

The Widow

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

Synopsis:

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

CHRISSI: Discuss the interaction between Kate and Jean and the ethical limits of investigative journalism.

BETH: First of all, I loved how we got to hear the story of The Widow through a number of different viewpoints i.e. The Reporter (Kate), The Widow (Jean) but also The Detective and The Husband so there were a lot of individual voices with their own particular clues as to what was going on. The interactions between Kate and Jean were among the most interesting – Kate is not a terrible person in her own right but she is hell-bent on getting the story she feels she deserves and is very good at manipulating people, especially those who may be slightly weaker than herself so that she gets what she wants. It’s not that she doesn’t care about Jean or her feelings but she realises that she cannot get too emotionally involved as it may cost her the story and at the end of the day, she’s there to do her job. Journalists can often be thought of as vultures, especially in more emotive cases when vulnerable people are hounded and I think, in a way they have to switch off from the more “human” aspects to be able to get a story.

BETH: This is Fiona Barton’s debut novel. How do you think it compares to other debut novels you have read recently?

CHRISSI: Ooh good question. I have read some very good debuts so far this year. I do think Fiona Barton’s stands out as a decent debut. I’ve read quite a few psychological thrillers now, as you know, some of which have been debuts. I feel like it stands up well to other debuts. It’s definitely memorable. It’s made me want to read more from the author.

CHRISSI: Fiona Barton is a former journalist. Do you think that has influenced her writing style?

BETH: I hadn’t realised this previously but looking back on The Widow, I believe it can only have been an advantage for the novel. It is told in short, snappy, very readable chapters that certainly made me want to read “just one more” before closing the book for the night! The style of writing itself was thrilling and although I didn’t particularly warm to any of the characters they were all fascinating enough to keep me reading until the end.

BETH: What are your opinions on the character of Jean? Did you feel sorry for her?

CHRISSI: Another interesting question Beth, you’re rolling them out today. I was very confused with the character of Jean. At times I wondered what she had gone through with Glen. I knew there was something more to the story than first met the eye. During some points of the story, I thought Jean was quite a weak character. I felt like Glen had some sort of hold over her. Then I started to doubt her. I felt sorry for her in some ways but towards the end of the story my feelings began to change towards her. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say anything else. She really was a mixed bag character for me.

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?
BETH: I’m not sure whether predictable would be the right word. I don’t think the author is deliberately keeping anything from us, everything seems to be somewhat out in the open and fairly easy to interpret. I guessed quite early on which character(s) had done wrong, it was just exactly what they did and to what extent that was hidden until the end.

BETH: Do you believe that Glen really loved Jean?

CHRISSI: That’s a hard question to answer because I don’t feel we really ever hear much from his perspective. I would hope he did love Jean, but there’s no real evidence to show this. He certainly doesn’t act like someone madly in love. He comes across as very controlling.

CHRISSI: We read widely in the genre, how does The Widow compare to books in the genre?

BETH: Ooh, yes we do love a good psychological thriller! For me, it holds its own against other books in the genre, I loved the plot-line, the way it was written from multiple viewpoints, the jumping back and forward in time, the characterisation and the exciting final reveal. It’s everything I look for in a thriller and I look forward to reading more from Fiona Barton.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes, I would. I loved the short and snappy chapters and the overall plot.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars