Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit #BookReview #Thriller

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Title: Fear
Author: Dirk Kurbjuweit
Series: n/a
Format: Digital ARC, 303 pages
Publication Details: Jan 25th 2018 by Orion Publishing Group
Genre(s): Thriller/Mystery;
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

 

‘YOU’D DIE FOR YOUR FAMILY. BUT WOULD YOU KILL FOR THEM?

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Family is everything.

So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help – the police, your lawyer – can’t help you.

You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.

Is there?


Review

Fear is psychological thriller with a difference.

At the beginning of the novel we learn that the protagonist’s elderly dad is in prison for shooting a neighbour who was terrorising his family. What follows is the build-up to how and why he took those measures.

Translated from German, the writing style of this book has a distinct Germanic feel to it which I enjoyed. It’s written from the protagonist Randolph’s sole perspective with a stream of consciousness narration. I’ve enjoyed this style in the past, but I did find Randolph a slightly strange,  monosyllabic narrator which made it hard for me to truly get on his side. I don’t know if this was the intention to create further intrigue (didn’t work for me) or if it was something lost in translation.

It did create suspense though, and I felt for Randolph every time the police and lawyers failed to help him. His complaint was that his neighbour was sending abusive notes to him and his wife, claiming that he knew they were sexually abusing their two children. This is obviously a terrible thing to be accused of if innocent, as we believe them to be.

However, I didn’t understand some of Randolph’s reaction. He basically went into a meltdown and started wondering if it was true. Had he ever touched them inappropriately when bathing them etc. Has his wife? Now, I don’t have children but I’m pretty sure if I did I would know if I’d touched them inappropriately. I mean, WTF.

Also the fact that him and his wife were slightly estranged and didn’t trust each other either made me question them more, added to the weirdness of his childhood stories about his gun-mad dad and always thinking he might shoot someone – I found it hard to relate to any of them. That being said, this all created a lot of intrigue, and along with some very dark, compelling moments, kept me reading.

it wasn’t a quick read, however. I found it a little slow with all the backstory and a bit too long. However, if you enjoyed We Need to Talk About Kevin, and/or want something a little different than your average psychological thriller then definitely give Fear a go! Bit of wait until it’s released though, soz!

unicorn rating 3

Fear is out 25th January 2018, but you can pre-order it now!

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2015 ‘Horror Tag’ Book Reviews (so far) #HorrorOctober

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You know guys, Horror is not just for October, so I thought I would post all the reviews I’ve written so far this year that I included in the ‘Horror’ tag. I kind of thought I’d need to do it in at least two parts but on further inspection I realised just how few horror books I actually read this year (excluding my Horror October picks). Shame on me!

Anyway, as we slide head first into the final few days of October, here are the horror books I’ve reviewed so far this year.

Get Ready to Shudder: Frozen Charlotte

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Author: Alex Bell
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 368 pages
Publication Details: January 5th 2015 by Stripes Publishing
Genre(s): Horror; YA
Disclosure? Yep! I received a copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

We’re waiting for you to come and play….Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind…Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there’s her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn’t be there. The girl that died.

Review

This book actually gave me nightmares (well, it gave me one – it was pretty awesome).

For starters, creepy-ass miniture porcelain dolls with their hands outstretched like they died reaching for you. Dolls that are everywhere, even in the walls. Dolls that whisper. Dolls with needles… But more about them later…I’m getting ahead of myself.

For the purpose of context, I’m a huge horror fan, especially as far as films are concerned, and I’m constantly disappointed that I never find any of them scary any more. I must be desensitised or something. To a certain extent, it’s the same for books, but I do find it easier to get creeped out by a good horror book than a film…and oh my, this book creeped me the hell out, so major props for that!

And it wasn’t just the creep-factor that was good about this book, I literally could not put it down. I was sneakily reading it at work and stayed up wayyy past my bed time to finish it off!

Frozen Charlotte is centred around Sophie and the events which follow her best friend Jay’s sudden death (it’s right at the beginning so hardly a spoiler). Jay downloaded a Ouiji Board app on his phone and he and Sophie play around with it, mocking it, like you do. But when Sophie calls on the only person she knows who has passed away – her cousin Rebecca – things go a bit weird to say the least.

To cut a long (not that long to be fair) story short, the app tells Jay he will die that very night…and of course, he actually does. Cue devastated Sophie trying to make sense of it all through the grief. And what better place to go than to an old converted schoolhouse on the blustering and foggy Isle of Skye.

It is her Uncle James’ home, and the whole family are clearly still suffering the loss of Rebecca. Everything about the place is wrong. From a parrot called Dark Tom who literally screams bloody murder all night long and young Lilias who has a phobia of bones (even her own), who once tried to cut out her collar bone, to Cameron, the musical protégé who got burned during the death of his sister and has never been the same again, and Piper who is trying to hold the whole thing together but is strangely obsessed with the Frozen Charlotte dolls.

I really wish I’d read this book for Horror October instead of Doll Bones. This was exactly the thing I was looking for. It was so good, and so creepy, at one point I had to put it down because I was shuddering so much internally. I couldn’t keep away for long though, I HAD to find out what the hell was going on!

The only tiny grumble I had with it, was that I couldn’t decide how old the characters were. It seemed inconsistent a lot of the time. Sometimes they seemed older than they should be, and then I’d get thrown by talk of first kisses and such, and visa versa. In the same way I couldn’t decide if Frozen Charlotte was aimed at the YA market or just had young characters. But you know what, who cares! It was great!

unicorn rating 4

Originally posted 26/01/2015

The Girl With all the Gifts

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Author: M.R Carey
Series: N/A
Edition: Paperback, 460 pages
Publication Details: June 19th 2014 by Orbit
Genre(s): Horror; Science Fiction
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora. Thanks Dora!

Goodreads // Purchase

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. The Girl With All the Gifts is a groundbreaking thriller, emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.

Review

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***

The Girl with all the Gifts has everything. It’s a great mixture of classic horror, modern dystopia and fast-paced thriller.

I was worried that I’d ruined my experience of it having already read reviews and knowing what the ‘twist’ was, but I don’t think it hindered it at all. Plus, said twist is revealed pretty early on, so it’s not such a huge spoiler.

I was completely engrossed in Melanie’s story, and thought she was a great protagonist. In the beginning I felt sorry for her, being locked up, and the way her and the other children were treated. I think M.R Carey did a great job of bringing Melanie to life as a regular (albeit genius) child, and gradually revealing to the reader, and to Melanie herself that she is in fact a monster – a zombie to be exact.

The use of the school-room setting, Melanie’s genius-like intelligence and her love of stories enables the reader to see her as child first, and a zombie second, making it almost impossible not to root for her the whole way through.

I thought the relationship between her and teacher was kind of creepy at first, as I’m sure was supposed to be point, but they ended up being a great duo.

There were a few moments when I found myself losing interest, but I was quickly pulled back into this action-packed, rollercoaster of a ride. It’s one of the better zombie books I’ve read, and felt fresh and thought-provoking.

Having just started working in a prison, I read this book on another level too. The Girl With all the Gifts raised a lot of questions about imprisonment and human rights. I felt like it proposed many questions about incarceration, rehabilitation, having the mental strength to fight against your inner nature, and being able to embrace your future and let go of the past.

It was a really surprising read, one that I think would make a great book club selection.

unicorn rating 4

Originally posted 11/05/2015

Twisted Dark, Volume 1

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Author: Neil Gibson
Series: Twisted Dark #1
Edition: Digital, 196 pages
Publication Details: April 24th 2012 by T Publications
Genre(s): Graphic Novel; Horror
Disclosure? I downloaded a copy for free from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads // Purchase

The first volume in Neil Gibson’s acclaimed series of twisted tales contains 12 individual and unique stories which are all related. The stories vary from 10 year old girls to Colombian drug lords and everything in between. It is left to the reader to find the connections between the stories – some connections are immediately clear whilst other connection only become clear in later volumes. This series is designed for re-reading. The author describes the genre as psychological thriller, but the books contains horror, dark (at times demented) stories incorporating every human emotion, illegal activity, and brutal reality. Using various illustrators allows each story and character to develop their own form. Twisted Dark has been embraced by the comic book world receiving critical acclaim and a cult following. If you haven’t read one yet, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Review


Oh what can I say about this one!?

I was really intrigued by the idea of this as I’m a horror fan and enjoy some pretty twisted shiz on occassion. LOL. But I just wasn’t feeling it unfortunately.

Twisted Dark contains short stories which all have a dark, twisted reveal at the end, and link together in some way. I thought this was a great idea, and liked the look of the artwork, but it didn’t quite pull it off for me.

I think my main problem with it was that it was trying too hard to be shocking, but it just wasn’t. I think maybe I’m just not the target audience. I can imagine that had I read this when I was 15 and all ‘I hate the world, and everyone in it’ then I would have probably loved it. But, without being in that frame of mind, this just seemed a little…lame.

It also didn’t help that the digital version I had wasn’t great quality and the illustrations were a bit blurry, and the text was quite hard to read sometimes. I tried to look past this, and maybe I would have liked it a little better if the artwork was more appealing, but I still doubt I would have loved it.

I’m glad I gave it a go though, and would recommend it to a younger audience who have more patience than me and will reread it to find all the hidden connections – something I just couldn’t be bothered to do I’m afraid.

unicorn rating 2

Originally posted 23/05/2015

The Curse of Crow Hollow

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Author: Billy Coffey
Series: N/A
Edition: Digital ARC, 414 pages
Publication Details: August 4th 2015 by Thomas Nelson
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Everyone in Crow Hollow knows of Alvaretta Graves, the old widow who lives in the mountain. Many call her a witch; others whisper she’s insane. Everyone agrees the vengeance Alvaretta swore at her husband’s death hovers over them all. That vengeance awakens when teenagers stumble upon Alvaretta’s cabin, incurring her curse.

Now a sickness moves through the Hollow. Rumors swirl that Stu Graves has risen for revenge. And the people of Crow Hollow are left to confront not only the darkness that lives on the mountain, but the darkness that lives within themselves.

Review

I finished this book last week and I’m still not quite sure what I think about it. What I am sure about though, is that Billy Coffey is a talented writer.

Crow Hollow is a small southern town with a secretive, tumultuous past. When a group of teenagers celebrate a birthday in the mountain’s mines, they disturb the equilibrium between the town and the resident weirdo, old Alvaretta Graves.

The younger generation in Crow Hollow grew up swapping fanciful stories about Alvaretta ‘the witch’, but most of them think it’s just small-town superstition… little do they know that their parents know a lot more about the mysterious Alvaretta than they could ever imagine.

I can’t even go into what I liked and disliked about this book without first saying just how much Coffey’s style reminded me of Stephen King. It was uncanny, and actually really distracting because that’s all I could think about the whole way through!

The Curse of Crow Hollow is narrated by a local who is introducing an out-of-towner to Crow Hollow and the events that recently occurred – it was very Needful Things, but worked well.

I loved how a very simple plot of ‘teens partying goes wrong’ becomes something much more complex. There’s superstition, politics, secrets and confessions, and Coffey brings it all together with some great scary moments and well executed spooky atmosphere throughout.

I also really liked the mystery surrounding the parents and what they ‘did’ to Alvaretta in the past. It was interesting to see their reactions when you find out that their children are basically being punished (in some pretty horrible ways) for something they did – it reminded me of A Nightmare on Elm Street a little bit.

The other King-esque trait was the abundance of characters, but unfortunately this is what let it down for me. I didn’t feel the vast amount of characters were developed enough, and I never really cared about any of them individually, which considering what happens to them, is pretty bad, and my interest really waned because of that.

Despite not loving the characterisation (or the whole Christianity thang going on), I really enjoyed Coffey’s style. It made for a really intriguing, atmospheric read, and I’d certainly like to see more from him.

unicorn rating 3

Originally posted 10/08/2015

Beneath the Lake

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Author: Christopher Ransom
Series: N/A
Edition: Kindle, 449 pages
Publication Details: September 10th 2015 by Sphere
Genre(s): Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

Thirty Years Ago: On a camping trip by a remote lake, the Mercer family enjoyed the vacation of a lifetime – until a violent tragedy forced them to make a decision that would haunt them for ever.

This Summer: When the younger Mercers learn their father is dying, the family reunites at the lake, seeking a second chance to put their lives back together. But something is waiting . . .
Four Days of Hell: Also arriving at the lake are estranged son Raymond Mercer and an alluring stranger, Megan, both ignorant of the family’s secrets. Within hours, they are all trapped in a relentless nightmare and fighting for their lives. Some places are better left. Some secrets are better forgotten. Some people are better dead.

Review

Oh, I wanted to like this so much…but it was a bit of a let down. I really liked Ransom’s debut The Birthing House, but I’ve tried a few of his other books and they haven’t had the same impact on me…(that was one creep-ass read). Unfortunately, Beneath the Lake was a similar story for me.

It started off so well! The opening was full of unexplained, extremely bizarre happenings which urged me to read on. Then we are catapulted 30 years ahead without knowing what actually happened that day at the lake- but knowing it was something terrible- and now the estranged Mercer family are planning a reunion there.

It all sounds good right? Well, it was for a while, but intrigue turned to boredom somewhere in the middle and I found it a struggle to get to the end. It just fizzled out for me I’m afraid.

I thought this had an interesting plot, but it peaked too soon, giving way to bad pacing. It did succeed in keeping me guessing for a while, and I did detect a constant uneasiness, but it just wasn’t enough to keep me hooked.

unicorn rating 2

Originally posted 15/09/2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I want to borrow from the library I work in…

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

The topic for this week is: a freebie! As in we can pick our own.

As some of you might know by now, I started a new job last month – my first ever library job, and it’s in a prison library, challenging to say the least. The main difference to a public library is that as we have an adult male population, the books are more tailored to that demographic, and I feel like I need to read more of the kind of books they like to read so I can do a better job of recommending things.

So here are the top ten books I want to read from the library I work in:

1. Papillion ~ Henri Charriére
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Henri Charrière, called “Papillon,” for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 of a murder he did not commit. Sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, he became obsessed with one goal: “escape.” After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, he was eventually sent to the notorious prison, Devil’s Island, a place from which no one had ever escaped . . . until Papillon. His flight to freedom remains one of the most incredible feats of human cunning, will, and endurance ever undertaken.

Charrière’s astonishing autobiography, “Papillon,” was published in France to instant acclaim in 1968, more than twenty years after his final escape. Since then, it has become a treasured classic — the gripping, shocking, ultimately uplifting odyssey of an innocent man who would not be defeated.

 

2. Shutter Island ~ Dennis Lehane
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The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new -partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple-murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane bears relentlessly down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades–with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is remotely what it seems.

 

3. Seventy-Seven: My Road to Wimbledon Glory ~ Andy Murray
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Andy Murray is one of Britain’s best loved athletes. On the 7th July 2013 he became the first British man to lift the Wimbledon trophy for 77 years. His new book, Andy Murray: Seventy-Seven, will take us on a personal journey through his career. Focusing on the last two dramatic years, he will share with us his thoughts on the pivotal moments of his playing career and allow us a glimpse into his world – his intense training regime, his close-knit team and his mental and physical battle to get to the very top. This beautiful and very personal book will be a stunning celebration of Andy’s career so far.

 

4. Tell No One Harlan Coben
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For Dr. David Beck, the loss was shattering. And every day for the past eight years, he has relived the horror of what happened. The gleaming lake. The pale moonlight. The piercing screams. The night his wife was taken. The last night he saw her alive.

Everyone tells him it’s time to move on, to forget the past once and for all. But for David Beck, there can be no closure. A message has appeared on his computer, a phrase only he and his dead wife know. Suddenly Beck is taunted with the impossible- that somewhere, somehow, Elizabeth is alive.

Beck has been warned to tell no one. And he doesn’t. Instead, he runs from the people he trusts the most, plunging headlong into a search for the shadowy figure whose messages hold out a desperate hope.

But already Beck is being hunted down. He’s headed straight into the heart of a dark and deadly secret- and someone intends to stop him before he gets there.

5. Odd Thomas ~ Dean Koontz
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“The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.

Maybe he has a gift, maybe it’s a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd’s otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo’s sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it’s different.

A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world’s worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd’s deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.

Today is August 14.

In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares, and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere.

6. The Count of Monte Cristo ~ Alexandre Dumas
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Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialised in the 1840s.

Robin Buss’ lively translation is complete and unabridged, and remains faithful to the style of Dumas’ original. This edition includes an introduction, explanatory notes and suggestions for further reading.

 

7. Manga Shakespeare
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I really want to read all of these, and my library has most of them…win!

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. In the Woods ~ Tana French
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Dublin 1984 dusk, three children vanish in the woods. One, Rob Ryan, grips a tree trunk in terror, unable to recall any detail of previous hours. Twenty years later, the detective on the Dublin Murder Squad keeps his past a secret. But when a girl 12 is killed in the same woods, Rob and Detective Cassie Maddox — partner and best pal – investigate present and past.

 

 

9. The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel ~ Paulo Coelho
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Andalusian shepherd boy Santiago travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within.

 

10.The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success
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What is a good psychopath? And how can thinking like one help you to be the best that you can be?

Professor Kevin Dutton has spent a lifetime studying psychopaths. He first met SAS hero Andy McNab during a research project. What he found surprised him. McNab is a diagnosed psychopath but he is a GOOD PSYCHOPATH. Unlike a BAD PSYCHOPATH, he is able to dial up or down qualities such as ruthlessness, fearlessness, conscience and empathy to get the very best out of himself – and others – in a wide range of situations.

Drawing on the combination of Andy McNab’s wild and various experiences and Professor Kevin Dutton’s expertise in analysing them, together they have explored the ways in which a good psychopath thinks differently and what that could mean for you. What do you really want from life, and how can you develop and use qualities such as charm, coolness under pressure, self-confidence and courage to get it? The Good Psychopath Manifesto gives you a unique and entertaining road-map to self-fulfillment both in your personal life and your career.

February Finds!

This is a monthly post where I share some of the books that I’ve found through fellow bloggers that I HAD to add to my wishlist immediately. I’m hoping I’ll look back on these posts and remember to buy/request the books (wishful thinking!).

My TBR Pile is out of control so I was a very good girl in February; I only made a note of two books that I want to buy:

Click on the links to go to the original posts.

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Found on: Just a Normal Girl in London
Why: Fairy Tales; The Cover!

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Found on: Cleopatra Loves Books
Why: I say all the time that I should read more Thrillers or Crime novels because I enjoy them so much when I do, but I get side-tracked by other genres. I really love the look of this one!