The Escape

The Escape

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Treatment
The Accident
The Lie
The Missing

Synopsis:

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

Thoughts:

I’ve come to realise that C.L Taylor’s books are dramatic and can sometimes a little unbelievable but do you know something? I’m totally okay with that. This is the fifth book I’ve read by C.L Taylor and I can confirm that I’m quite a fan of her writing!

The Escape centres around who has been suffering from agoraphobia for many years. However, Jo has learn strategies to cope with her agoraphobia. She’s able to work as long as she keeps to the rules she has set for herself. Unfortunately, one day Jo loosens the rules by giving a lift to a woman she doesn’t know. The woman’s name is Paula and she gives Jo very little chance to refuse. She has one of Elise’s mittens and gives her a very unsettling warning about looking after her daughter. It turns out that Paula knows her, her husband and her daughter. Jo’s worries heighten as you can imagine and this begins the tension. Jo ends up going to Ireland to lie low, but the trouble just follows her…

Jo isn’t the easiest character to like. I don’t know what it was about her really, but I was desperate for her to have a little more fight in her. However, I still found myself wanting things to turn out well for her. I found her husband a little infuriating too, but this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. There’s something about this author’s writing that I find totally compelling.

C.L Taylor sure has a way of keeping you turning the pages. Her characters are well fleshed out and totally believable, even if sometimes the situations may seem a little exaggerated- it still seems like these could be real people!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

I may not have thought much of these characters, but the story kept me turning the pages!

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The Missing

The Missing

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Treatment
The Accident
The Lie

Synopsis:

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…?

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She’s not the only one. There isn’t a single member of Billy’s family that doesn’t feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn’t until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother’s instinct is never wrong. Or is it?

Thoughts:

With The Missing, I continue my delve into C.L Taylor’s backlist. I’ve been gradually making my way through her books and certainly enjoying my journey into her writing. I’ve found her to be absolutely brilliant at creating some fascinating characters. Not always one you’ll like. Oh no. But completely fascinating all the same.

In The Missing we find out that 15 year old Billy has gone missing. No one seen him leave and six months later they are still searching for him. It’s come to the point where they’re starting to question whether Billy is still alive. We learn about Billy through the family that he’s left behind. We mainly learn through Claire, but we also get a glimpse of Mark, the father and Jake his older brother. They are all struggling to come to terms with Billy’s disappearance. We also get to know Jake’s girlfriend Kira, who is living with the family after experiencing terrible things in her own family. Each character is hiding something and you really don’t know who to trust as a reader. Claire begins to have amnesic episodes that make you question her reliability as a narrator.

As well as Claire’s narration, we also see messages between two characters on an instant messenger/text message format. These were quite intense and some were quite disturbing with some strong language (so be prepared if you’re offended by that!) I guessed one of the characters but I was completely wrong about another. I had assumed something (don’t want to spoil!) that was completely off the mark. Ha!

The Missing is fast paced and a page turner despite it being nearly 500 pages long. I never felt like it was too long. I just kept turning the pages eager to find out what was going on. It may not be my favourite book by her, but I have really enjoyed C.L Taylor’s plots so far. They’re not always predictable which I really appreciate. All too often, these books are quite similar so you can predict where it’s going. I love it when I’m completely wrong! I am certainly looking forward to reading more from this author, soon! 🙂

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A fast-paced read!

The Lie

The Lie

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Treatment
The Accident

Synopsis:

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put her past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves.

Thoughts:

I have been making my way through C.L Taylor’s books after seeing so many of them around. I thought it was time to get around to them. I’m pleased I have because I’ve found another brilliant writer of thrillers! Whilst The Lie isn’t my favourite book by C.L Taylor, it still didn’t take me long to read. It still made my skin crawl a little bit which I’m coming to expect from a C.L Taylor book!

The Lie centres around a character we believe is called Jane. We find out that ‘Jane’ is her new identity. Five years previously, Jane was Emma and she went to Nepal with her friends to cheer up one of her friends. It was definitely not a relaxing holiday and Emma returned needing to change her name. We know from the start that something bad happened to the girls, but the terrible details start to unfold slowly as you read her story. ‘Jane’ feels like she’s moving on with her life with a job she loves and a relationship that’s developing nicely. However, she soon finds out that someone knows about the past and is going to make sure that she can’t forget it!

I thought The Lie was an incredibly dark read with some awful characters. Awful characters that I loved to read about though. I loved how the story unfolded through flashbacks of 5 years ago and present time. It added to the tension of the story. I have to admit that most of the chapters set in Nepal really were menacing. I found them tricky to read at some points, especially when they were becoming increasingly more violent. It became so tense and the cracks in the friendships really started to show. That’s when I began to dislike characters more and more, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story.

I was also intrigued by Emma/Jane’s present day story. I always try and work out who is behind everything during these sorts of stories, but I didn’t quite get there, although I began to have some suspicions. Once again, C.L Taylor does weave a wonderful plot.

I think you’ll enjoy this thriller if you enjoy intense, menacing and uncomfortable thrillers!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Whilst it wasn’t my favourite book from C.L Taylor, I still tore through it desperate to find out what was happening!

The Accident

The Accident

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Treatment

Synopsis:

Sue Jackson has the perfect family but when her teenage daughter Charlotte deliberately steps in front of a bus and ends up in a coma she is forced to face a very dark reality.

Retracing her daughter’s steps she finds a horrifying entry in Charlotte’s diary and is forced to head deep into Charlotte’s private world. In her hunt for evidence, Sue begins to mistrust everyone close to her daughter and she’s forced to look further, into the depths of her own past.

There is a lot that Sue doesn’t know about Charlotte’s life. But then there’s a lot that Charlotte doesn’t know about Sue’s …

Thoughts:

I have heard so much about C.L Taylor’s adult fiction that I made it my mission to get to some of her backlist. This especially became the case when I read The Treatment, the author’s YA release. I loved that book so thought it was time to get to The Accident. I’m pleased I did because I found it to be a completely addictive read. I think I’ve found another thriller author that I adore.

It centres around Charlotte and her family. Charlotte is in a coma after being hit by a bus. Her mother, Sue,  believes it may have been deliberate after reading Charlotte’s diary and finding ‘keeping this secret is killing me.’ Sue is desperate to find out what Charlotte’s secret is. Through Sue’s exploration we find more about Charlotte’s life. We also find out about Sue’s past which is much darker than you first anticipate.

I loved the narration because it had flashbacks to what had happened to Sue in the 1990s when she was with James. A very dangerous partner. As a reader, we learn about Sue’s past and begin to understand her reasons behind her decisions she makes when trying to uncover Charlotte’s secret. I loved reading the diary entries. They were intense and hard to read at points, but still so intriguing to begin to piece the story together. I found Sue to be such an unreliable narrator. She suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which makes you question her every move as a reader. She wasn’t afraid to directly accuse people of being involved with Charlotte’s accident. I loved that her relationship with her husband wasn’t perfect. It was incredibly authentic.

I thoroughly enjoyed the pace of this story. I was constantly turning the pages to try to figure out what had happened to Charlotte. A very decent psychological thriller!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful debut psychological thriller. Its narration really kept me guessing!

The Good Twin

The Good Twin

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Thomas and Mercer

Synopsis:

Mallory Holcolm is an unfulfilled waitress and aspiring artist living in a Queens boardinghouse when she learns something astonishing about her past: she has an identical twin sister named Charly she never knew existed.

Charly is a Princeton graduate, a respected gallery owner, and an heiress married to her handsome college sweetheart, Ben. Charly got everything she ever wanted. Everything Mallory wanted, too. And now it might be easier than Mallory ever imagined. Because Ben has reasons of his own for wanting to help her.

It begins with his startling proposal. All Mallory has to do is say yes.

But as their devious plan falls into place, piece by piece, Mallory learns more about her sister and herself than she ever meant to—a discovery that comes with an unexpected twist. A chilling deception is about to become a dangerous double cross. And it’s going to change the rules of Ben and Mallory’s game to the very end.

Thoughts:

Sometimes I find thrillers really hard to review. This is because you want to give the reader enough to want to read it but you don’t want to spoil the book at the same time. This is totally the way I feel with The Good Twin. I found the book to be incredibly gripping. I flew through it! Whilst I did predict some of the story, I still found it to be a highly enjoyable read.

The Good Twin centres around twins who were separated at birth. Both led a very different life. Mallory grew up with not lot of money. Charly grew up with everything she ever wanted. Charly’s husband, Ben, comes across Mallory one day who is absolutely identical to Charly. Ben has a dark plan that he needs Mallory to help him out with.

As I mentioned, this book is a real page-turner. I quickly managed to read it, desperate to find out whether Ben’s plan was going to work. I did guess what had happened, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment.

The only reason why I haven’t rated this book a 4 star read is because I felt like the characters weren’t as developed as I like them to be. I think Ben was probably the character I thought was the best developed. He was portrayed to be an awful villain and that’s exactly what he was. The twins themselves, weren’t the most likeable. I found some of their decisions to be a little unrealistic, but if you can get past that (which I did) the story itself is still utterly enjoyable.

I did thoroughly enjoy this book and I think that thriller fans would do so as well. There’s enough going on to keep you invested with the story. The lies and deception are simply awful but wonderfully gripping at the same time. I would definitely read more from this author in the future.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Not the most believable book, but gripping nevertheless!

Lullaby

Lullaby

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties.

The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul’s idyllic tableau is shattered…

Thoughts:

This book has been on my radar for a while now. You may have seen it around as The Perfect Nanny which I believe, is its US title. It’s been a very hyped book this year. It definitely sounded like something that I would like to read. I didn’t realise before I had read it that it was based on a real-life nanny who killed the children she was caring for. That makes it even more terrifying.

Lullaby grabs you right from the start because it begins with the two children being murdered. Horrific. The story then goes back to the beginning when Myriam decides to go back to work and hire a nanny despite it not being the most cost effective option. Louise is hired and she seems absolutely perfect. She cooks, cleans and ensures the children are always smartly dressed, polite, happy and tidy. She really is a dream for Myriam and her husband, Paul. They take advantage of her showing her off to their friends during dinner parties that she cooks and hosts. Myriam and Paul can’t imagine life without her. They even take her on holiday with them. Gradually, Louise becomes TOO intense. Myriam starts to question whether Louise is too perfect…and whether there might a dark side to Louise.

I think Lullaby stands out because it’s quietly uncomfortable. You really do feel like you’re just reading about the main characters with not so much plot going on. However, there’s SO much going on and so much underlying tension. I was always waiting for Louise to snap. I knew right from the beginning what she had done but I was desperate to know the build up. I didn’t really ‘get’ the Gone Girl comparison. I think Lullaby stands aside from Gone Girl as it reveals at the start the awful nature of what lies between the pages.

I haven’t read the French original and don’t think I’ll ever tackle it, but I do think this has been translated well in the main part. I love the short and snappy sentences that build tension so beautifully.

I did enjoy Lullaby, it didn’t take me long to read at all. However, it didn’t blow me away as much as I thought it might do. I think the ending is something that put me off. I wasn’t completely satisfied with it. I wanted more about the aftermath, but I guess the author has left that to our own imaginations. I can see why Lullaby is getting the attention that it is.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A disturbing but engaging read!

Talking About ‘The Marriage Pact’ with Bibliobeth!

The Marriage Pact: For fans of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact, and most of its rules make sense: Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .

Never mention The Pact to anyone.

Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples–and then one of them breaks the rules. The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life, and The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule. For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions about this book before starting it?

BETH: A few, yes I did indeed. First of all, it’s on the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club list for 2018 and I normally trust the novels they pick as being compelling reads so I was looking forward to it on that count. Secondly, I’ve heard a lot of good things about this novel from bloggers I admire and whose opinions I trust. As a result, I went into it with slightly raised expectations, expecting a fantastic, memorable read. Now I have such mixed feelings I don’t know where to start!

BETH: Did you believe in Jake and Alice’s relationship? Do you think their marriage will last beyond the novel?

CHRISSI: I did actually. You could tell as a reader that they really did love each other. There were moments when I felt like Jake felt more deeply for Alice than vice versa, but in the main part I did believe in them. Alice did have moments of vulnerability which made me realise how she felt. I thought they both wanted the best out of their marriage. Whether joining The Pact was a way to go about it, I don’t know. As for whether it would last beyond the novel? I’m not sure. They went through so much together and perhaps they’d take the best bits out of The Pact to improve on in the future?

CHRISSI: What do you think motivates people to join cults such as The Pact? What motivates Jake and Alice in particular?

BETH: I have no idea! Personally, I would never be tempted to join a group like this especially when we find out further along the novel what they are really like. Jake and Alice however, although they clearly love each other dearly are motivated to join The Pact as it is advertised to them as simply a way of making sure they have a happy marriage and are unlikely to ever get divorced. They are sold completely on this idea and perhaps Alice feels a bit vulnerable, really wanting her marriage to work. Of course, it all seems completely above board and just a lovely thing to be a participant of, as well as making new friends so they don’t hesitate in signing up.

BETH: What were the best/worst parts of this novel for you?

CHRISSI: Ooh what a tricky question. As I mentioned to you when we were reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to rate it. That’s mainly because some of it I thought was bloody brilliant and other parts made my skin crawl. What I liked about this book was that it certainly kept me turning the pages. I’m not so sure it was always in the right way that I wanted to continue. Mainly I was like ‘WTF am I reading?’ but perhaps that was the author’s intention? It certainly got me thinking and reading. I didn’t want to put it down. The worst parts were when really disgusting things happened to a person and Jake enjoyed (?) it!

CHRISSI: Did you ever feel like this book was too much?

BETH: And so it begins…In a word, yes. At times, I really felt like I had to suspend my disbelief in what was going on to Jake and Alice and this normally wouldn’t bother me in a novel. I love a bit of fantasy, a bit of uncertainty and a thrilling plot that just takes you along for the ride and in some ways, this is exactly what I got. However, at some points I’m afraid to say my eyebrows remained perfectly raised and I just thought erm….really?! I think there’s only so far you can go with pushing the boundaries of what people will believe and if you step over that line, there is a real chance you’re going to lose that reader. Unfortunately by the last third of the book, this was definitely the case with me. Then there were those scenes…… where Alice is chained and being taken away and Jake gets turned on. Then another woman is naked in a jail cell and looks a bit unkempt and has obviously been treated violently, AND HE GETS TURNED ON. I mean, really? Did she have to go all Fifty Shades on us? Quite unnecessary and frankly, a bit warped and creepy. It is a shame because I did really enjoy parts of this novel, it was just these other parts that foxed me a little bit and lowered an otherwise “brilliant” rating.

BETH: Did you find this book thrilling or suspenseful at all?

CHRISSI: For me, thrilling? No. I didn’t think it was a particularly thrilling read because as I mentioned, some parts really didn’t work for me and made me feel uncomfortable in a way that made me want to stop reading. Suspenseful? Totally. I was intrigued and wanted to know what was going to happen next. I really was captivated…just not always in a positive way.

CHRISSI: Are there any rules of The Pact that you think could strengthen a marriage? Are the principles behind the extreme methods sound, or not?

BETH: Apologies for the above rant. I had a few issues! Yes, I think some of the rules were quite good for strengthening a marriage. Things like making sure you go on holiday with each other often to get away from it all. buying a gift no matter how silly every month I think is nice and obviously, prioritising each others feelings and wants and not letting work get in the way to much. However, the extreme methods that The Pact goes to when enforcing these principles are in no way sound and are very frightening. I couldn’t believe that Jake and Alice put up with what they did for so long!

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Tricky one. I really think it depends on the subject matter. She can clearly write but I’m not sure the content is my sort of thing!

Would we recommend it?

BETH: Yes!

CHRISSI: A tentative yes!