A Wild Ride: Fear is the Rider

fear is the rider  Fear is the Rider by Kenneth Cook

What better way to celebrate Australia Day this week than to read and review an outback thriller!

A young man driving from Sydney to Adelaide for work decides to take a short detour into the desert. He turns his hatchback on to a notoriously dangerous track that bisects uninhabited stone-covered flats. 
He’s not far along the road when a distraught young woman stumbles from the scrub and flags him down. A journalist from Sydney, she has just escaped the clutches of an inexplicable, terrifying creature.
Now this desert-dwelling creature has her jeep. Her axe. And her scent…

First Impressions: Oh, I am hooked! You are straight out there on the Obiri Track and I knew my Sunday afternoon had been hijacked!

Highlights: Oh my, what an adrenalin rush! I never would have imagined detail about gear changes and road surfaces would have me enthralled. The only reason I didn’t read this in one sitting is because I had to take little breaks whenever the tension briefly subsided in order to calm my heart!

If I was an editor: There is absolutely nothing to critique about the pacing! I will only say that I would have liked a bit more depth to the myth of the man/monster that was chasing them, and, as for the other solitary characters stumbled across in the frantic chase, I’d have liked them to be a little more interesting and not so cardboard cut out. However, both of these wishes would alter the story and it is fair dinkum brilliant in its current form.

Overall: Kim at Reading Matters summed it up perfectly: Wolf Creek meets Mad Max. I suspect I will be launching straight into Cook’s other novels.

*Kim felt the ending was somewhat unbelievable. I think I was too traumatised by this point to notice.

Thank you to Text Publishing for a copy of the ARC.
UK Reviewers – this will archive on Netgalley on the 27th. I’ve never given out such a warning before so take my recommendation seriously if you want an adrenalin raising outback chase!


Found My Next Series: Fall From Grace

Fall from Grace: #5Fall From Grace by Tim Weaver

When Leonard Franks and his wife retire to the seclusion of Dartmoor, everything seems perfect until Leonard heads outside to fetch firewood from the back of the house and never returns. Nine months later, with the police investigation at a dead end, Leonard’s family turn to David Raker for help but nothing can prepare Raker for what he’s about to uncover because at the heart of this disappearance lies a devastating secret.

First Impressions: It was easy to be drawn into the story. A real page turner!

Highlights: I thought it was well written for a thriller. I usually find myself cringing a bit with some thrillers but this was great. The story was plausible and I loved the way Raker investigates. It may sound dull but I found it intriguing when he described the documents and photos he was examining, looking for clues. I felt like I was watching the best sort of missing person documentary on TV (I’m thinking of you, Disappeared!).

If I was an editor: Luckily the great story overshadows my little quibbles. Firstly, I couldn’t see how a covert visit to the nearby island was necessary. The institution had long since closed down yet Raker was obsessed with getting there to help solve the case. Secondly, others readers love this but I felt that the final unravelling of the mystery went on for a bit too long. I prefer my crime novels to be more restrained rather than it feeling like a surprise matrioskhi doll presenting all sorts of surprise revelations.

Overall: I think I have found a new series to fill the void Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Department Q has left behind!



Steady with the Photographs: Disclaimer

DisclaimerDisclaimer by Renee Knight

What if you realized the book you were reading was all about you? When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up in bed and begins to read. But as she turns the pages she is sickened to realize the story will reveal her darkest secret. A secret she thought no one else knew.

First Impressions: A good page turner and easy read but it didn’t quite meet the ‘unputdownable’ status.

Highlights: The twist! The twist! I didn’t see that coming. It turned the story from a standard thriller to a pretty sad and unsettling story.

If I was an editor: I would want a bit more intrigue scattered about before the twist changes everything. The author of the mysterious novel didn’t seem a fully convincing character and I don’t think the son’s first person chapters necessarily added a lot to the story.

Overall: A good read that suddenly becomes compelling close to the end.

Disclaimer: 4 stars

Thank you to Random House (Transworld) for a copy of the title to review.


Something Different: This is the Water

This is the WaterThis is the Water by Yannick Murphy

In the New England world of junior competitive swimming, parents spend hours driving their children to training and meets. Annie has two girls on the team, a dead brother and a fading marriage. She does not know a killer is lurking at the facility.

First Impressions: I liked the way the first few chapters are like a game of spin the bottle: you heard a little bit about a few of the swim mums and you had to wait to see whose story you would be following for the rest of the novel. The writing style has divided opinion but I really liked it as it is original.

Highlights: I loved the ending. Not just the final actions in the last few chapters, but the last few paragraphs. I closed the book and thought that it was all just a storm in a teacup (no spoiler here, don’t worry). This calm is a really nice comparison to the first few chapters that I mentioned above. I liked the setting – rural, small town New England, very claustrophobic, everything revolving around the swim team. Do junior swimming worlds like this really exist? Gosh, I don’t know!

If I was an editor: I know this novel would divide people like marmite. Even as an individual reader my feelings kept changing: I went from loving it, to being bored with it, to staying up late trying to finish it, all the time not knowing what to make of it. Is all the detail necessary? Yes, of course. No, not really. I can’t decide! Anyway, the important thing for an editor is that this book will get people talking and wanting to share their opinion.

Overall: Unique. I still don’t know if I liked it or not. I think I did!

This is the Water: 4 stars

 Thank you to Bookbridgr for a copy of the ARC to review.

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Upsetting: Her

HerHer by Harriet Lane

 Nina is sophisticated and independent. Completely in control. Emma is a whisper from her past and when Nina sees Emma in the local store she can’t help but involve herself in Emma’s life. What does Nina want from Emma? Will Emma recognise Nina before it’s too late?

First Impressions: I enjoyed this story. It was very easy to get into and while many reviews comment on how it is told from two perspectives, only certain scenes are which means it is not as repetitive as I imagined it to be.

Highlights: This story made a real impression on me but not necessarily for all the right reasons. As I have a young son I found it really disturbing that Nina would get to Emma through so many small anyonmous cruelties to her three year old son. However I did find it compelling reading…

If I was an editor: Why did the story end at least one chapter too short? I had to check to ensure I had the fully copy of the novel – it can’t end now! I immediately thought that this is just laziness on the part of the author but I have thought about the ending much more than I wanted to since finishing the novel so perhaps in this instance it was incredibly successful… I also tell myself that the husband would have been a dominant presence in the actions of the last few paragraphs to make it feel alright…
On a more neutral note I would have liked to see Nina’s sociopathic nature revealed more throughout the novel. Sure, she was obsessed but that’s not the same as sociopathic. Also, while a lot of reviews comment on how Nina’s motivation to attack Emma was weak, I thought it was OK. Some people would hold a grudge and it did need to be an event that was not so defining that Emma wouldn’t recognise Nina.

Overall: Maybe not for those with young children… Definitely one of the better psychological thrillers out there at the moment. I would now like to read Alys, Always to see how it compares.

Her: 4 stars

Thank you to Orion for a copy of the ARC to review.

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Great Ocean Road Thriller: After the Darkness

After the DarknessAfter the Darkness by Honey Brown

To say domestic psychological thrillers are on trend in the publishing world is an understatement. Some, such as Emma Chapman’s How to be a Good Wife, are brilliant but I often find myself somewhat disappointed after reading books in this new genre. After the Darkness sounded intriguing, if only because the thriller aspect is set on The Great Ocean Road, but was I to find it brilliant or disappointing?

Driving home from a holiday along a remote coastal road, Trudy and Bruce pass an art gallery they had never noticed before and decided to pull in to have a look. The gallery does not appear on any tourist map and there are no other visitors in the car park. Once inside, they begin to get a creepy feeling from the both the building and the owner. They were right to feel uneasy…

Trudy and Bruce manage to escape, battered, bruised and still partially drugged. They hope life can return to normal but a man is dead and someone is watching them…

First Impressions: The characters of Trudy and Bruce are incredibly realistic. Their knowledge of construction and building helped to develop their unease and events in the house, and this background information was naturally integrated into the story so it didn’t at all feel contrived.

Highlights:  I thought the author was very clever at subtly scattering little clues here and there. After the one small mistake Trudy and Bruce made in the gallery I was holding my breath for quite some time waiting for them to realise! Their hesitation in immediately contacting the police was fully understandable, as were all their actions after escaping the gallery. In the hands of a less skilled writer, one event in particular could have easily become quite ridiculous but the author obviously has a talent for keeping everything understated and steady. The pace of the story was even throughout and luckily the events in the gallery weren’t too gory for me! Disturbing, but not gory. I had feared a Wolf Creek scenario…

If I was an editor: I would be thrilled to find such a great example of a psychological thriller! I personally didn’t enjoy the character of the youngest daughter but I guess she balances out the siblings and this really is nitpicking. I also don’t know if the cover gives an accurate indication of the content and may turn away some potential readers.

Overall: I want to read more Honey Brown!

After the Darkness: 4 stars


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Adrenalin Hit: I am Pilgrim

9781439177723I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

After reading a few quite heavy books recently, I wanted an action story; a page turner that wasn’t quite 100% mindless. I found it!

Pilgrim is the name of a man who doesn’t exist. Now retired and the author of a book about perfect crimes he is drawn back into action after the discovery of a body in a cheap Manhattan hotel. This crime will take him to the Middle East and help him find a man called the Saracen who is taking the long road to revenge against the USA.

First Impressions: This would make a brilliant film.

Highlights: An incredibly well researched and planned novel. It was completely believable at all turns. I liked the way Hayes kept the story moving backwards and forwards in time so you have to keep your wits about you and piece together the timeline yourself. Hayes has an insider knowledge of all the locations and all the characters were interesting with convincing motivations. A real page turner for the astute reader if ever there was one.

If I was an editor: I did wonder at one point if too many layers were being added to the story. It was a similar feeling to watching a three hour film and yearning for a 94 minute gem from the ‘good old days’. As everything tied together at the end, the plot meanderings were worth it.

Overall: Wow. All the reviews are correct. Satisfying and fun but not necessarily profound. A cut above your average thriller.

I am Pilgim: 4 stars

Thank you to Random House (Transworld) for a  copy of the ARC to review.

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Online Transgressions: The Telling Error

The Telling ErrorThe Telling Error by Sophie Hannah

I think it is impossible for a Sophie Hannah book to have a blurb that does not sound intriguing yet I have only ever managed to read one of her books, Little Face, which I finished while sitting in a park on an unexpectedly sunny day shortly after it was published in 2006. Unfortunately I chose a rather grim day to read The Telling Error so I hope this hasn’t clouded my judgement!

Nicki Clements goes to great lengths to avoid a certain policeman on a school run. She is clearly hiding something. Is it linked to her secret online activities? The next day Nicki is taken to the police station for questioning in relation to the murder of the controversial columnist Damon Blundy. She has no idea what the killer’s cryptic message ‘He is no less dead’ could mean but does that prove she is not involved?

First Impressions: I got into the story really quickly and was curious to discover what it was Nicki was hiding.

Highlights: Sophie Hannah did a really good job of keeping her novel contemporary with the focus on online identities, anonymous news site comments and chat rooms. Although it is easy for a TV show like Sherlock to focus on modern technology with text messages flying back and forth, I think it is a lot more difficult for a novelist to achieve. Despite my comments below, another strength of this novel is that there was enough in the story for me to want to finish it and see the mystery unfold.

If I was an editor: One word: overwritten. Not only were Blundy’s newspaper columns too long but for me there were far too many long discussions hypothesizing who may have had a motive to commit this crime.

Overall: This novel was just not for me although I did want to finish it. Sophie Hannah has a lot of fans but based on other reviews I have read I think her novels are a bit like marmite; different groups of readers love certain novels and dislike others. So many reader factions for one author! Despite this, it seems that most stick with her novels to the end and read all her new releases regardless of how they felt about her previous offering. Now that is a loyal fan base.

The Telling Error: 2 stars

Thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for a copy of the ARC to review.

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Thriller Thursday: The Book of You

Product DetailsThe Book of You by Claire Kendal

This novel has been touted as a psychological thriller for fans of Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep. I found the former disappointing (I was in the one star camp) and I read the latter in one afternoon; it kept me intrigued but I had some issues with the diary format. How will The Book of You fit into this continuum?

Clarissa’s colleague Rafe is making her feel uncomfortable. He appears everywhere she goes and is quite insistent on why the two of them need to spend time together. To an outsider it looks good-natured and harmless so Clarissa keeps a diary of all contact with Rafe. Clarissia is conveniently called for jury duty and relishes an environment where Rafe can’t approach her. However, she begins to realise that the victim in the case has a story that bears similarities with her own. The story alternates between the present day and diary entries until it reaches crisis point…

First Impressions: A very readable novel. The author has a good writing style and I found myself quickly turning the pages.

Highlights: Mystery is created throughout this novel. Can Clarissa trust the members of the jury? Is her romantic interest hiding something? How will the case finally intersect with her own situation? Both the stalking storyline and court case are believable; I never like having to suspend my disbelief! Most importantly, it is definitely a page turner you want to finish in one sitting if you can.

If I was an editor: I would make two suggestions. Firstly, the last part of the novel could have perhaps been more dramatic. Half the novel is Clarissa’s journal and it reads exactly like that: events continue along and complete the story but I personally would have liked more twists and exciting revelations. Secondly, I would have liked the two narrative threads to come together more at the end. This could have made for a  more shocking ending. However, the story reads well and I think I am making these comments only because I started reading the novel without knowing much about it and expected something slightly different to what Claire Kendal created.

Overall: This novel will be a great summer read and will be incredibly popular. It is much more believable and enjoyable than Gone Girl, and similar in style but different in content to Before I Go to Sleep. An imaginatively creepy first novel!

The Book of You: 3 Stars

Thank you to Harper Collins for a proof copy to review.

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Curiously Creepy: Until You’re Mine

Product DetailsUntil You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes


Released today, I anticipate Until You’re Mine will be a popular thriller this year. I really enjoyed reading this novel. It was an easy page turner and I was keen to find out how it would end. It will appeal to anyone who likes thrillers but is squeamish with too much gore or unsettling content.

Claudia, a heavily pregnant woman, is a harried children’s social worker with an ever-growing case load. Her husband is often away completing secret navy missions in submarines so she is left to care for her two stepsons. To ease her burdens she hires Zoe, a live-in nanny who has a secret past. Meanwhile, around Birmingham there have been two attacks on pregnant women and their unborn children. Lorraine and her husband, both detectives, are following all leads and meet a number of curious characters.

As you can imagine all strands of the narrative become entwined as the story progresses. The story alternates between Claudia, Zoe and Lorraine. All three narratives were equally enjoyable but I felt that Lorraine’s personal story away from the investigation was slightly irrelevant as it did not really move the plot along.

The ending was not what I expected and I’m glad there was an interesting twist.  However, I did feel the author spent too long leading me down the wrong path. With the final revelation I had to spend what felt like too much time recalibrating information about one of the characters and still wonder if it is all plausible. Unfortunately I have to remain cryptic, otherwise the revelation will become obvious.

Regardless, the ending is not disappointing and Until You’re Mine will be a good summer read, particularly if you are whiling away some time on holidays!

Until You’re Mine: 4 stars

Thank you to Random House for an advance copy of the title to review.