Kiss Me First By Lottie Moggach

Title: Kiss Me First

Author: Lottie Moggach

Publisher: Picador

First Published: 2013

Blurb:

A chilling and intense first novel, this is the story of a solitary young woman drawn into an online world run by a charismatic web guru who entices her into impersonating a glamorous but desperate woman.

When Leila discovers the website Red Pill, she feels she has finally found people who understand her. A sheltered young woman raised by her mother, Leila has often struggled to connect with the girls at school; but on Red Pill, a chat forum for ethical debate, Leila comes into her own, impressing the website’s founder, a brilliant and elusive man named Adrian. Leila is thrilled when Adrian asks to meet her, and is flattered when he invites her to be part of “Project Tess.”

Tess is a woman Leila might never have met in real life. She is beautiful, urbane, witty, and damaged. As they email, chat, and Skype, Leila becomes enveloped in the world of Tess, learning every single thing she can about this other woman–because soon, Leila will have to become her. (From Goodreads, 17th January 2014)

Review:

Reading the blurb of ‘Kiss Me First’ I knew I had to read this book! This is a brave first novel, but it is very well done. We are reading about suicide, but rather than stopping someone from killing themselves we are giving them the chance to go without the guilt of leaving their family aware of their death.

Leila begins posting on the forums of Red Pill, a website discussing philosophy and debating ethical issues. Leila feels that she has finally found like minded people, and begins to build a good reputation on the site. Soon she is contacted by the sites founder, Adrian, asking Leila to meet. And so begins ‘Project Tess’. Leila is learning all about Tess. Leila is going to pretend to be Tess after Tess commits suicide.

This hard hitting, very controversial topic just drew me in. At first I was surprised when I realised that this book was written retrospectively in Leila’s voice. But this works well. You begin to build up to understanding why she did what she did, and why she has reached where she currently is. This is a novel that you know has taken a lot of planning, and is skillfully put together.

This was an excellent thought provoking book that I would recommend to those who like psychological thrillers, and for those who want to have a good debate with other readers. Yes, I would say this is a book group novel. Or could lead to good debates in the classroom/lecture.

I can imagine some people will find this novel difficult due to the focus on suicide, but this is such a risky book that would always be the case. If you want a book that will make you think, pick this up.

However, this is all positive, yet I can only give ‘Kiss Me First’ a 4 out of 5. Why is this? Well I expected slightly more for some reason, I felt at points the novel stood still, and didn’t have as much speed as I expect. But despite this I still loved this novel, would read it again, and recommend to people.

4 out of 5.

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Gone Girl By Gillian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

First Published: 2012

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Blurb:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet? (From Goodreads, 19th November 2013)

Review:

I was disappointed with ‘Gone Girl’ after everyone saying it was a fantastic mystery thriller, and it being voted for so many awards in 2012.

Nick’s wife has gone missing, and soon Nick becomes the main suspect. Nick initially seen as an amazing husband but soon this persona begins to unravel. But did Nick kill his wife?

The premise was one that enticed me, and from what everyone was saying I thought ‘yes, this is going to be a book that I will love’.

However, the first half of the novel bored me, but was saved with the twist in events during the second half. I am glad I kept going with ‘Gone Girl’ and would advise others who feel the same as me, just keep going! The second half is fantastic and a real page turner. There are a lot of shocks, and a lot of suspects. A psychological mind warp that makes you really wonder about the nature of people.

‘Gone Girl’ is a well planned and laid out thriller which does keep you guessing and shocking you throughout. But I cannot give ‘Gone Girl’ a high rating due to the slow first half, which nearly caused me to give up.

3 out of 5

Sister By Rosamund Lupton

Title: Sister

Author: Rosamund Lupton

Publisher: Piktus Books

First Published: 2010

Blurb:

When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.

Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered. Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess’s apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister’s life—and all its secrets.

Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficulty with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong. As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder—and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life. (From Goodreads, 22nd October 2013)

Review:

Sister is a fantastic novel with beautiful prose. Rosamund Lupton’s writing is fantastic, with attention to detail that pulled me in instantly.

Imagine your sister dying and it being pronounced a suicide. Imagine that not sitting true with you. Imagine everyone ignoring you, and telling you to just ‘get over it’ without taking you seriously when you believe your sister to have been murdered. Imagine the frustration. Imagine the loneliness. All of this is conveyed fantastically in Sister.

Out of the multiple psychological thrillers I have read, Sister is one of my favorites. There are so many aspects, so many possibilities, whilst the understanding of human nature is spot on.

However, someone I know who tried to read Sister disliked it due to the descriptive writing. If you are one of those who do not get pulled in with fantastically descriptive and technically impressive writing style then Sister is not for you. If, like me, these aspects pull you in, along with the edge of your seat genre Sister is perfect reading. Especially for this time of year.

4 out of 5

Accidents Happen By Louise Millar

Title: Accidents Happen

Author: Louise Millar

Publisher: Atria

First Published: 1st April 2013

Blurb:

Kate Parker has weathered unimaginable horrors—her parents died in a traffic accident on her wedding night, and her husband, Hugo, was murdered in a tragic break-in gone wrong. All she has left is her young son, Jack, and determined to make a better future for him, she attempts to pull her life back together. But are she and her son safe? (From Goodreads 27th June 2013)

Review:

I was slightly hesitant after I began reading and thought ‘am I reading another OCD book right after reading Addition??’ but soon I realised that this was a completely different style of book with some anxiety traits focused on but not OCD. Kate’s adult life has not been easy, and now living alone with her son Jack all she wants is for both of them to be safe, but is Kate focusing too much on her anxieties? Determined to show her in-laws that she is trying to get better for her sake and Jack’s sake she begins to deal with her anxiety. Meeting an acclaimed Scottish Statistician she begins to take a journey towards normality. Her life is getting better, her love life is beginning to heat up, but can it all be too good to be true?

I really enjoyed this book, I found it to be a bit slow at the beginning but by the last quarter it picked up speed, and a lot of speed! This is a psychological thriller that leads you along gently before erupting into pure edge of the seat action.

My best advice for this novel is keep with it. It may seem a bit slow and anxiety focused to begin with but soon you learn more and more about Kate’s life and why she is the way she is, then the pace quickens and quickens before going off into a sprint.
4 out of 5

The Asylum By Johan Theorin

Title: The Asylum

Author: Johan Theorin

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 13th March 2013 (UK Paperback)

Blurb:

‘We don’t talk about sick or healthy people at St Patricia’s. Words such as hysteric, lunatic and psychopath… They are no longer used. Because who amongst us can say that we are always healthy?’

An underground passage leads from the Dell nursery to Saint Patricia’s asylum. Only the children enter, leaving their minders behind. On the other side are their parents – some of the most dangerous psychopaths in the country.

Jan has just started working at the nursery. He is a loner with many secrets and one goal. He must get inside the asylum . . .

What is his connection with one of the inmates, a famous singer?

What really happened when a boy in his care went missing nine years ago?

Who can we trust when everyone has something to hide?

Review:

Okay so it is difficult for me to give reviews of psychological thrillers like this without giving too much away so I think this review may be quite short! But will give it a try!

So I love things to do with asylums, psychiatric hospitals and mental illness therefore the title had me hooked, then I noticed the quote on the cover ‘If you like Stieg Larsson, try a much better Swedish writer’ (The Observer). I love Stieg Larssons Millennium trilogy and thought that this seemed a perfect book for me. But I will say this now – I preferred Stieg Larssons books to The Asylum.

Jan is the protagonist in this novel and initially appears to be a sensible adult who has a good career as a play group/nursery teacher/worker, with only one incident pertaining to a job several years ago. That is the first hook in the story, and soon we learn that Jan is not as perfect as his CV made out.

I found the novel a little slow to begin with but quickly built up pace making you want to keep reading to find out what happened in the past and what was going to happen next. You were anxious as Jan tried to sneak into the Asylum and worried for him in case he got caught. Why is he so desperate to sneak in? What is his connection to the inmate he wishes to contact?

The chapters were quite short so if you are reading at night you might be up rather late as you think ‘just one more chapter’ and this happened to me – was rather tired the next day at work!

This is a very well written novel with some surprise twists and turns to keep you hooked. Definitely pick up if you are a fan of psychological thrillers and keep with it at the beginning because soon you won’t be able to put it down!

4 out of 5!

Shutter Island By Dennis Lehane

  I did things the wrong way round – I saw the film, then read the book. Actually I watched the film about five times before I read the book. The film was almost identical – a very rare thing which we are all aware of. This makes my reading tainted. I hear the voices of Leonardo Dicaprio and Mark Ruffalo as I was reading it and did not have to make up these images or voices myself.

However, onto the actual book. Teddy Daniels (Dicaprio) and Chuck Aule (Ruffalo) are arriving at Shutter Island – an island of the coast of Massachusetts which holds the most severe cases of Forensic Psychiatric Patients (criminally insane). Set in the 1950’s  you get a feel of the turn of the tide in psychiatric care, the introduction of anti-psychotics and newer therapies but still the evidence of the horrors of past ‘care’ and the prevalent psycho-surgery of the time.

A patient has escaped. There is a storm which wrecks the island. Teddy and Chuck are trapped. More and more suspicion,  more and more mystery, more and more enticing. The book grips you and reels you in. A psychological thriller with twists and turns that I did not see.

Okay so you can tell – I liked the film and the book. But the book didn’t have as much of a kick as it would have if I had read it first. I am not wanting to have any spoilers here but I came to a different conclusion at the end than what my partner did. I have never investigated this but either way we both enjoyed it.

SO here is what I would say – Loved it! Would read again! But having seen the film the book doesn’t have the ‘spark’ that it would have done if read first.

If you are a fan of psychological thrillers this is for you. If you have seen the film you won’t get much from the book. So read the book first before you watch the film!

5 out of 5

Room By Emma Donoghue

  Room was one of those novels that when I read the first review in a magazine I knew I would have to read it! Room has won several awards and been shortlisted for quite a few as well! And deservedly so.

Jack was born in Room. Room is all Jack knows. Ma tries. But some days Jack has to occupy himself. Ma has bad days where she hides under the covers and doesn’t move, say or do anythings.

Ma decides that now Jack is old enough and that it is time for them to escape.

This is a book that will keep you turning the pages. A read in one sitting novel.

Do they manage to escape? How would they react to the fast changing world that Ma once lived? Why were they in Room?

A very interesting psychological thriller about the captive life of a woman and her son.

Sometimes ‘Room’ is difficult to read as it is narrated by Jack who is only 5-years-old, but that is what makes this a standout novel. Jack does not see anything wrong with Room. Room is his world. Has everything him and his Ma need. Yes the man sometimes comes. He doesn’t like him but his Ma hides him away whenever he is there.

How would a child develop after being locked away indoors all his life? What will his body not be able to cope with?

As you read this novel you know the author has done her research into such case studies. A well researched and enthralling read that gives you a real understanding of such a tragic situation. With an uplifting ending without ignoring the true uphill struggle both Ma and Jack have to pursue.

4.5 out of 5

Into the Darkest Corner By Elizabeth Haynes

Elizabeth Haynes debut novel and a fantastic one at that! Switching between the past and present of Catherine’s life. In the past she is outgoing, wearing beautiful party dresses, drinking, and flirtatious. Now she is living with severe OCD and can barely function. Spending most evenings checking and rechecking her doors and windows.

Both times have love interests. Lee, a bouncer, undercover police officer and general hard man. And Stuart her new neighbor, is understanding and helps Catherine beginning the road to recovery and a step back into a social life.

As the novel progresses we get a real insight to why Catherine has developed OCD and that the facade which Lee had fooled everyone.

A psychological thriller which demonstrates true understanding and sound research into the subject matter. You will not be able to put it down!

A fantastic novel and a excellent debut.