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?

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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!

Every author wants to read an in-depth review about their book!

If you ask an author what they want to achieve in their writing career, especially a self-published author like me, they might say “to be published and have my book adapted into a TV series or movie“. I would be lying if I denied that this is my long term objective… but we also quite like the idea of entertaining readers and hopefully receive positive feedback on our work.

Weirdly, this is kind of my review of a review… Book review inception!

I’m pleased to say that my novel “DECEPTION: A Love of Lies” has received a fantastic review from a reader. It’s not just any review, it’s a thorough analysis. The reader has taken the time to delve deep into studying the plot, setting and characterisation of ‘DECEPTION‘.

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

It was written to be a suspenseful psychological thriller riddled with clues and dark turns. So I’m very proud to see that this was well received by this reviewer and that they enjoyed the ‘DECEPTION’ experience!

Some key points I loved from the review:

Blake is a seed-planter all right. He knows when and how to drop clues, or hints. When to add to the uneasy feeling these create. When to allow said seeds to burst into sprouting life with the twist you’ve been expecting from the very beginning…

The book keeps on teasing us, building the suspense, adding in odd details until we’re crying out for the Bad Thing we know must happen, to happen. Even though we have no idea what it’s going to be.

“If you like atmosphere, you’ll get it by the bucket load in this book. Ditto if you like a slow build, mounting tension, having questions you just have to know the answers to.”

“For writers, the book is a great lesson in economy of style, internal conflict, and how to write an unreliable first person narrator – where the story we get is different the one in the main character’s head.”

Read the full review from Damien – https://damienseaman.com/2018/10/02/who-says-you-cant-start-a-book-with-the-weather/

Thank you so much for the review Damien if you’re reading this!

Book Review: “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn

Atmospheric characterisation and narration. *** (3.5)

It’s dark, gritty, and at times, uncomfortable. But that’s what Gillian Flynn creates purposefully and brilliantly through her atmospheric characterisation and narration.

Of course, I wasn’t introduced to Gillian Flynn until I read Gone Girl, which by the way, I loved. It instantly became one of my favourite books. I wanted more from her. This is when I was attracted to Sharp Objects. Her debut novel.

We are introduced to a Camille Preaker, a young journalist trying to make a better life for herself. Her sister Marian died at a young age and Camille has been battling her own demons. Her family is hurting and so is Camille, but she wants to focus on her career. That is until she’s sent back to her hometown to report on the death of a girl in Wind Gap, Missouri, her hometown. Another girl is missing, and this is thought by her boss, Curry, to be a big story told by a local.

This is not a detective mystery where we follow the police. Law enforcement doesn’t exist in this story.

Camille is investigator, reporter and resident. It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s disturbing, it’s creepy. This is all achieved, in my opinion, from the characterisation.

The story itself is painfully slow. I actually found myself telling my better half repeatedly, ‘nothing has happened’. The last 85% though is where EVERYTHING happens. It came and went as quick as a box of Krispy Kreme donuts!

To conclude, I enjoyed the way the story was told but I thought the book was way too slow.

*** (3.5 stars)

Sharp Objects Gillian Flynn

Holiday Reading – 6 Book Reviews!

I spent 2 weeks chilling in the Lanzarote sun – eating, drinking beer and watching the World Cup. Not only did I gain loads of weight, but I also read a fair few books on my dinky little Kindle.

Without further ado, here are my book reviews of those I read:

Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott: ****

Sleep Tight by Rachel Abbott

Olivia is known to the police. But what happens in this will keep you guessing right until the end!

You’re thrown into the mix with someone who is known to Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas. Olivia Brookes has called the police due to her husband and children disappearing.

In an interesting turn of events, the case ends, but commences once again two years down the line in much weirder circumstances. Tom Douglas is put on the case to solve another issue around this family.

I don’t want to reveal any outcomes as I think it’ll ruin your reading experience. You can, however, guarantee a very mysterious read which draws you in, boggles your mind and keeps you guessing.

****

Behind Close Doors by B. A. Paris: *****

Behind Closed Doors B A Paris

I read this on holiday along with 7 other books. This was the best read… proving anything can happen behind closed doors!

Anything could be happening behind closed doors right now – at your neighbours’ home, a place of work or even behind a closed door in your own home!

Behind Closed Doors was an exhilarating experience. It’s cliché to say, but I couldn’t put the book down.

Everything seems pleasant for Grace. She has a handsome and wealthy husband, and an adorable sister. Although all seems great from the outside, we know that something isn’t quite right; we have the intel of her mind and narrative.

Grace and her husband Jack speak fondly of each other. Individually, they are two likeable and strong characters that people desire to be like. So, what’s their secret to happiness? It’s much darker than you think.

Check out this book. Following Grace was a dark, twisted and psychological test!

*****

The Break Down by B. A. Paris: ***

The Break Down B A Paris

After Behind Closed Doors I had high hopes…

After Behind Closed Doors I had high hopes. Sadly, The Break Down didn’t live up to that standard.

Cass is on her way home from a night out. It’s stormy, her husband tells her not to go back through the woods. She does though. On route, she drives by a car. Has it broken down? Someone is sitting inside but they don’t respond to Cass pulling over. So, Cass continues and arrives home safely.

Cass hears the news that someone died in the woods the same night she passed through it. Consumed by guilt that she didn’t get out the car, Cass can’t ignore her guilty conscience. Even worse, she can’t tell anyone that she saw the woman before she died.

And ever since, Cass is being harassed… she receives calls and forgets things, just like her mother did!

It’s full of twists and it’s methodically planned. However, it is slightly far fetched and I was underwhelmed by the end.

***

Survivor by K. R. Griffiths: *** (3.3 stars)

Survivor K R Griffiths

A book which took too long to get going… But once it did, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

This horror thriller was a little bit of a weird read for me. The main reason being that, for me, it took way too long to get going. I got to around the half way mark and stopped reading. A couple of days later I picked it up again and loved it.

Although Clive is a dark and twisted killer, I quite liked him – he made me laugh. The author did well to make sure that Clive had both a false and accepted personality combined with his real and dark fantasies (which quickly become a reality). It was great to experience Clive. I began to like Clive most after his clever and witty moves outside the coffee shop!

If I didn’t stop reading this it would be a 4 star, but because I struggled to get into the story from the off, it has to be a 3 star.

***

She Did It by Mel Sherratt: ***

She DId It Mel Sherratt

In the world of business, can you trust anyone?

In the world of business, can you trust anyone? You don’t truly know anyone, even those who you think you have a friendship with.

She Did It offers the view of the two main characters, Esther and Tamara. Tamara hires Esther, little does Tamara know who she has hired.

They both have secrets and there’s no telling what is going to happen between these two very different people.

My criticism being that the plot is quite basic and that it doesn’t hit the highest of heights. From psychological thrillers I expect deeper meaning and especially a personal connection with the main characters.

All in all, a book which made me want to finish but didn’t grip me.

***

The Torment Of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus: *****

The Torment of Rachel Ames Jeff Gunhus

This was tormenting for me let alone Rachel Ames!

A novella which hooks you and ensures sure you read it until the end. It’s dark, it’s creepy and it has a cunning end. I swear there were some parts of this book where I was a bit creeped out and it wasn’t meant to do so. It truly is harrowing.

I was reading this with no idea what was going on. I couldn’t decide on whether this was going to be a horror kind of ending or a dark fantasy ending. It’s a clever story which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Rachel isn’t the typical kind of protagonist you might follow in a book, but that’s simply another element to this book which makes it what it is. There is a lot of underlying genres and themes in this book, which you can piece together after the end.

This was tormenting for me let alone Rachel Ames!

*****

 

The last book I started whilst away was Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – I will be publishing my review of this one soon!

Have you written or read a book that you thought was amazing? Recommend it to me!

Book Review: “Secrets and Lies” by Lynda Renham

New home, new village, old secrets… and a haunting spirit?

Flora and Adam McIntosh move to the country. It’s a setting they’re not used to, but they absolutely love it, or at least Adam does. Flora isn’t so keen. She’s torn. She can admire the home’s charming quaintness, but she can’t shake off the feeling of a presence in the home.

The proud villagers are welcoming, but they’re also suffocating. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone knows everyone’s business. Everyone’s doors are open, literally, even if you don’t want them to be.

I did enjoy this book. The premise was great. Wherever Flora was, she wasn’t safe. Nowhere was safe for her. This added a lot of mystery and fear of what was going to happen next. The mix of overfamiliar villagers, secrets, Flora’s inquisitiveness, and a haunting spirit made this story addictive.

There were however a few things about the narrative I didn’t enjoy. Reflection and thoughts. Flora has many of them during the story. They were mostly following the line of questioning of: Is it this? Is it that? Could this happen? Or could this? Maybe this person did this. Maybe that person did that. It was a little much. Let the reader think about these questions, not Flora. Or not Flora as regularly as she does throughout the book.

There was also a twist which I DID NOT see coming. But as I reflect (not as much as Flora) on it, I feel the author cheated a little bit here and there to make this twist impossible to guess, which kind of ruins the fun. A character can’t react a certain way to something and then later in the book it’s revealed that same character already knew about it. Unless I’m misunderstanding the scenes, I would say that’s cheat storytelling. I can’t say too much more without giving away this twist (it’s not the big twist). Hopefully those of you who have read it know what I mean.

Overall, a fair 3 star rating. 4 star for the premise itself, brought down by my little doubts. 

Secrets and Lies by Lynda Renham