Coronavirus – Stay Safe and Read

We’re in unprecedented times, every single one of us.

Here in the UK there have been rumours of a lockdown in the coming days; some of you may already be in self-isolation. Across the world we’ve already seen the devastation caused, but let’s not forget – many people and nations HAVE recovered and are getting through this. An official lockdown is unlikely and isn’t something to fear. Just try to stay calm and be reassured that lockdown doesn’t mean, ‘you will be stopped from leaving your house at all,’ it actually alludes to the precaution of leaving your home unless it’s essential.

It’s important to remember that to get through this we need to stick together and push on. Respect the advice we’re being given and respect each other.

Being on lockdown isn’t a punishment, it’s an opportunity to slow the spread of the disease and protect vulnerable people. You don’t need to panic. Try to stay calm.

Stay safe, be careful and respect each other.

How will you pass the time in self-isolation?

Reading?

We’re all in the same boat here. There’s TV and films we can watch, but for how long before filming is suspended or there’s no one to operate the schedule.

But one thing that will last, books!

Here’s a retweet of mine recently that got me thinking:

Books are a great way to pass the time. They’re also a nice way to detach yourself from your surroundings. That’s the key to this – ensure you aren’t stressing about the after effect of the Coronavirus (our economy and way of life), and to entertain yourself whilst keeping yourself and those around you safe.

By reading, you will have thousands, if not millions, of books available to you.

Money is tight for all of us I’m sure in light of Covid-19. But books are affordable, particularly eBooks.

I want to help

You may know or not, but I’ve written some books. you can see those books here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/T-J-Blake/e/B00C2TFFJ8/

This isn’t a sales pitch, but if you enjoy psychological thrillers then do take a look at my novels. I will be trying to make them available for free – to give you guys something to do whilst in isolation.

Also, I have been trawling back through previous book reviews. You can see some of my 3+* star reviews of books I’ve read previously – my recommendations for you below:

Top rated books I’ve read recently

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides = 5* 

Sweetpea by C. J. Skuse = 4*

Believe Me by JP Delaney = 4*

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor = 4.8*

I am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll by = 3.7*

Have you got a book recommendation?

Then please do comment on this blog below. Hopefully we can put together a great list of books for us all to read.

Book Review: “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides

A classic British psychological thriller

Is it odd to call “The Silent Patient” a British psychological thriller? Well it seemed very British to me, it screamed psychological thriller, and it’s a novel that I think we’ll all be reading for many years to come.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The plot

Based on Alicia Berenson, a famous painter who is married to fashion photographer, Gabriel, she has it all. That is, until, one evening, she shoots her husband five times in the face. Since the crime, Alicia decides to earn her name as The Silent Patient – she refuses to talk, completely.

Many psychologists attempt to get her talking, but with no such luck.

Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, has always wanted the opportunity to work with Alicia and get her talking. The opportunity to work with Alicia presents itself to him, and that is the start of a journey for Theo.

But the question remains, will Theo manage to get Alicia to reveal why she did what she did?

Meticulous, smart, unputdownable, suspenseful

I’ll try not to ruin this one for you.

It’s hard because all I want to do is admire the clever writing, which I can’t do without revealing something about this book… but I mustn’t.

So, what can I say about this one without ruining it?

It’s easy to read. I found it really simple to get through. You’re able spectate the story and let it unfold. You can really focus on what is going on and analyse each character as they’re introduced and as they develop.

It’s worth mentioning you will be very paranoid reading this, suspecting everyone and everything.

The plot is intriguing. As you can see above, the plot is different.

Straight away there’s doubts about a seemingly perfect relationship. But then what if it was a happy relationship, then what? How does an innocent man get killed? Worst of all, why did his wife kill him? It’s all too much.

There’s layers to this book. The main plot line is great, but there’s layers to this one. Great layers, like a Victoria Sponge!

You will feel on edge at time. Sometimes you can feel a chill down the spine reading this one. It’s intense at points.

For someone who can’t talk, Alicia as a character is fascinating. There’s so much to her, she’s an enthralling character who you can’t help but admire and be terrified of.

It’ll leave you gobsmacked. Well, I was on the bus when I was left reeling at one particular moment… and that’s all I can say on that.

A great read, my first 5 star novel in some time!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Review: Holiday Readings

Whilst in Santorini for the week, I read three thriller books. Here are my reviews of them below.

Sweetpea by C. J. Skuse

Sweetpea C. J. Skuse

Dark, outrageous, humorous

My wife unintentionally recommended this book to me. She told me about the premise of it to illustrate her dislike of the story and the main character. Her description though caught my attention.

I made a start on the book and quickly thought it was quirky and original. It was a refreshing change to have a foul mouthed, dirty minded female lead in Rhiannon. The best way to describe her is that she has shades of Fleabag and Killing Eve’s Villanelle.
I will say, I believe C. J. is testing the reader early on as the tone of Rhiannon is far more crude in the opening stages of the book. If it’s not for you, just persevere. This risk though didn’t pay off in terms of keeping my wife hooked into the book – she immediately disliked Rhiannon. I, on the other hand, enjoyed it and really took to Rhiannon’s personality and tone of voice.

The story itself is a fresh take on serial killers. We’ve seen it many times before with the likes of Hannibal and the TV series Dexter, but Sweetpea is another extension of that. Similar to Villanelle in Killing Eve.

It’s a book that follows Rhiannon and her devilish ways. I don’t want to say too much more but it is a thrill that keeps you hooked.

Rating: **** (4 stars)

 

Believe Me by JP Delaney

Believe Me JP Delaney

Brilliant start, but lost its way.

Ok so some of the reviews I think are quite harsh. However, the start of this novel is brilliant. If it kept to that tempo throughout the book it would have been one of my favourite reads. Ever.

I finished this book in one day.

The start of it is intoxicating. A really unique premise – the main character, also an actress, Claire, works for a firm of divorce lawyers. A great combination this, actress posing as an easy pick-up in hotel bars to entrap straying husbands to win a case.

We see her in action quickly, fooling a man and getting the job done expertly. But not all is as it seems, because Claire is quickly pulled into a murder investigation, where the man’s wife has been murdered.

I think JP Delaney really portrays a female lead very well. I don’t think she was particularly likeable, but that also made the read interesting because you don’t know who you can trust in the story. Midway through the book, it does lose traction unfortunately and I did find myself reading for the conclusion rather than out of enjoyment.

Rating: **** (4 stars)

 

The Friend by Teresa Driscoll

The Friend Teresa Driscoll

Disappointingly predictable, but I did still want to finish!

It seems that a lot of other readers enjoyed this one. However, I thought it was disappointingly predictable.

If you read the synopsis then the story doesn’t stretch much further than that. I was compelled to read the book as there was more to solve than what the synopsis was letting on. Some nice enough writing and moments in the book, I liked the use of time.

I read this after enjoying ‘I Am Watching You’.

Rating: *** (2.5 stars)

Book Review: “A Stranger in the House” by Shari Lapena (Sorry Shari)

I don’t like giving these reviews… but here’s my truth.

A Stranger in the House Shari Lapena

The less said about this novel the better really. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever read, but it was lacking in so many departments.

The plot was… ok. It wasn’t all that enticing, but it obviously had enough to make me want to know more and read to the end. Part of me thought there was going to be something more underlying here.

My amazon review sums it all up well:

“Cliché after cliché, the characters were dry and ‘the twist’ wasn’t a surprise at all. Disappointing.”

I guessed what was going on very early on. But I read on, hoping that there was going to be a shocking twist.

There wasn’t.

Unfortunately, we’ve all already read and watched these kind of stories before.

** (2 stars)

This was Lapena’s last chance to convince me…

I’m always willing to give books and authors a chance. This was Lapena’s last chance to convince me.

I wasn’t at all fussed with “The Couple Next Door”, but “A Stranger in the House” was the chance to convince me to read more of her work.

Unfortunately, I’ve not been converted. So this will be my last read.

If you thought differently of this novel, then please let me know. I’m interested to know what you like about it.

Book Review: “Watchers” by Dean Koontz

Some great moments of suspense. Ultimately let down by the ridiculousness of the story.

I enjoyed stretches of the book. However, I couldn’t help but realise how ridiculous the story actually was – a talking dog who learnt to read and spell.

I read the remainder of the book to solve the mystery of the dog and the Outsider but, I was left disappointed.

** (2 stars)

Dean Koontz Watchers

Have you read this novel? What did you think? Am I being harsh?

Book Reviews – Holiday Edition: The Taking of Annie Thorne, I am Watching You, The Twisted Tree

I’m now back from my honeymoon in The Maldives, which was amazing!

I wanted to read more, but I was busy snorkelling and exploring the island of Kuredu. A beautiful place. A quick review of that: dreamy. Highly recommend!

However, three books were consumed and I’m most of the way through a fourth novel (a classic apparently) by Dean Koontz!

Three books and a five star rating below.

TOP READ: The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor

Highly recommend. Well written. Dark. Gritty. Mysterious. Addictive.

Joe, a witty yet troubled man, returns to his hometown. It hasn’t changed much. In fact, much of what Joe went through back then seems to be happening again.

I found this book super easy to read. That’s what I liked about it most. The writing was brilliant and because it was so easy to read, it made me read it really quick. Shame really because I wanted more. The story flowed and the characters vivid.

C. J. knows how to build tension. She knows how to create mystery. She most definitely knows how to create a dark atmosphere. That’s what I felt in this book. Arnhill (the hometown) is a dreary place. It was the perfect setting though for this book. The balance between the present and the past offered a great deal of suspense and mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed unveiling the story of Joe’s past and what was to come. And I most definitely did not see the ending coming. Some really nice touches to conclude the book.

Another point, there were some really though provoking quotes in this book which make you just stop and think about your own life. A nice touch also.

I’ve seen some negative reviews for this one, which I am surprised about!

It was a brilliant read, highly recommend.

4.8/5

I am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

Chilling from the start. A great premise which didn’t disappoint.

Two teenagers being teenagers whilst on their way to London. A normal day, a typical trip for teenagers wanting to feel like adults. But it all turns dark. Very dark.

The differing lives we follow all offer an interesting perspective. Plenty of secrets and there are many suspects in the build up to the horrifying conclusion. It was an addictive read and an extremely fast paced story.

Although the many perspectives were at times confusing (a couple being told in first person the others in third) they offered some difference in progressing the story.

3.7/5

More about this book.

The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

Screen Shot 2019-06-04 at 19.04.53

A chilling, dark and gothic short story.

For a 180 page book, it goes into a lot of detail about the characteristics of the locations and characters. Although detailed, it didn’t detract from the narrative, it only aided it.

It’s dark, gothic and chilling. An enjoyable short story.

3.3/5


I’m also reading Dean Koontz’s ‘Watchers’. Review will be coming soon!

Book Review: “A Watched Pot” by Mr Blue

A darkly humorous thriller.

A Watched Pot was a devilishly dark and humours read, which made me chuckle and really drew me in.

The most rewarding reads are those ones that slowly drip feed all the key information into the story beyond your realisation that it’s going to be significant later in the story. A Watched Pot did exactly that. It was a clever narrative and really easy to read. It may have only been short but I really got involved in it. The twist at the end was great. I won’t say too much more on this!

The only way it could have been better is if the writing was stronger in places. I noticed a couple of errors, but it didn’t take away from the read itself, which is why this is still a 4 star review.

I reviewed A Watched Pot after the author provided me with a free ecopy.

**** (4 stars)

A Watched Pot

Book Review: “Kill Someone” by Luke Smitherd

This isn’t a bad 2.5 star review, it just wasn’t for me.

I finished reading this book today. I started reading it a while ago and unfortunately I wasn’t entirely compelled to read it all that often, which is why it took me so long to finish.

The premise is great, I was drawn in quickly. What a bizarre circumstance to find yourself in. A sick game that you can’t escape. Well, you can, but at a cost. The plot and set up of the story was very similar to the Saw movie franchise.

I didn’t connect with the main character at all. I wasn’t concerned for him or really care about him. I was more interested in the reason behind this mad scenario. I could however really imagine, see and even hear both The Man in White and Klaus.

The writing had flicks of greatness, but I thought a lot of it was repetitive. When I reached around 40% of the book I did find myself skim reading, but I was too far in to stop now.

The ending was quite disappointing too.

I hope the author reads this review and takes it constructively. It wasn’t a poor book, it just wasn’t for me. I’m confident that many other readers will enjoy this thriller.

*** (rounded up from 2.5 stars)

Kill Someone Luke Smitherd

Book Review: “Silent Victim” by Caroline Mitchell

The different perspectives made the narrative shine.

I enjoyed the story. I wasn’t blown away by the plot itself, but I did enjoy the differing perspectives in which the story is told. This is what made this book stand out.

The writing I thought was nice and easy to read, it flowed, and because of the differing voices, the character development was really effective.

The stand out development was from the point of view of Luke. We could really get inside his mind and experience his harrowing plan unfold to devastating effect.

And because the different perspectives were so personal to each character, you didn’t always know who to believe!

As I say, the plot as a standalone isn’t the most original. Saying that, the opening premise of the book is, that hooked me in right away.

Finally, something I didn’t like was a moment where one of the characters has a realisation about an event in the book. The connection they make is almost impossible to make that connection. It made me say, “Oh come on, really!?”

All in all, a good read!

**** (3.8 stars)

Silent Victim Caroline Mitchell - T. J. Blake's book review

2019 and ‘DECEPTION’ is still receiving 5 star reviews!

Although I decided to self-publish DECEPTION back in 2016, I’m happy to see that even after three years my readers are still loving it!

A ‘verified purchase’ 5 star review on Amazon.co.uk

5 Star Amazon Review from Georgie

A short and sweet review from Georgie. Chuffed to see that she enjoyed the ride!

DECEPTION’s blurb:

Through the stark and leafless trees, I see her.

I remember the first day I saw her; an instant attraction. I think she’s beautiful. She has such pensive blue eyes; they remind me of a blue sky right before the sun descends. Every time I see her I want to talk to her, I want to get to know her, and I want to be her friend.

She usually completes the lower woodland walk in six minutes and forty-two seconds; she misses the deeper woodlands and goes home, I believe.

I walk down the road at the same speed as her. She reaches the crossroads at the bottom of the road, looks both ways, and then jogs across into the garden of a house. I stop walking and concentrate on which house is hers.

I can’t stare too long but I am intrigued already, I will come back.

A psychological thriller that will not let you look at passing dog walkers the same.

If you would like to read this novel, you can download it here from Amazon. Click the link and it will take you to the right Amazon (UK, US etc.) for you.

Deception: A Love of Lies by T. J. Blake

If you do decide to read DECEPTION then please let me know what you think!