Book Review: Strangers by C.L. Taylor

Strangers is the newest thriller novel by C.L. Taylor.

As the title may suggest, the book is about strangers, whose lives are drawn together: Ursula, who holds herself responsible for the death of her boyfriend, Gareth, who is receiving postcards claiming to be from his dead father, and Alice, who is being stalked. These three strangers are brought together through unexpected circumstances and find themselves placed in danger. They must stick together in order to survive.

My Photo [Strangers]

I’ve enjoyed plenty of C.L. Taylor’s other books, so I was delighted to be accepted to read and review Strangers on NetGalley.

I really liked the structure of the book. The chapters alternate, introducing the reader to each character one by one. I most enjoyed Ursula’s character; I liked her personality and was most interested when reading about her life and circumstances – especially when she decides to lodge with the creepiest housemate, who is also her landlord.

Strangers is very different to Taylor’s other books, I think. There are hints of mystery and a crime to be solved, but this is very much in the background of the plot and, overall, it is a slower burn.

As a consequence, I don’t know if I could describe this book as genuinely “thrilling”. There are twists and unexpected moments scattered throughout the narrative, but I don’t know if I was ever truly “hooked”.

I would have given Strangers 4 stars but, personally, the climax and ending of the book were disappointing. There were some dramatic moments I enjoyed but, without trying to spoil the book for future readers, I was not convinced by a certain character’s motivations for stalking, violence, and so on. There wasn’t very much to suggest they had “gone crazy”, and I do not think a rational person would have drawn the same conclusions as the character and resorted to that behaviour.

To conclude, Strangers was still good, but I think I’ve read better from C.L. Taylor.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

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I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Avon Books UK.

If you would like to support my blog further, you can click my affiliate link to purchase a copy of Strangers. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

– Judith

Reading The Lowest Rated Book on my Goodreads ‘TBR’ #3: Reviewing The Lodger by C.L. Taylor

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Welcome to another blog post in my mini-series, where I read and explore the lowest rated books on my Goodreads ‘to be read’ list.


The Book

I’ve been reading a lot of C.L. Taylor recently, and I enjoy her work. I will soon be reviewing her newest book, Strangers. Over time, I’ve added quite a few of her books to my Goodreads ‘to be read’ list. When scouring Goodreads for more of her books, I came across, The Lodger, a short story available for free to those who sign up to her newsletter, which you can do here.

The Lodger has an average rating of 3.35 on Goodreads out of 63 ratings. This doesn’t look bad, although readership is clearly small. This is probably due to the fact access to The Lodger requires an email sign-up form; I don’t think the story can be purchased.


The Review

The Lodger is a short thriller with some exciting twists. It focuses on Laura, who is grieving the death of her husband, Steven. When Laura’s home is broken into a friend of a friend moves in as a lodger. However, someone has got their eye on Laura. She’s being watched.

My Photo [The Lodger].jpg

I enjoyed The Lodger.

Admittedly, it took a small while to set up the premise for the story which, unfortunately, left less room for creepy and disturbing things to happen. However, once these things began happening, I was hooked.

I liked Laura’s character, and there were some unexpected twists which shocked me.

My only real issue with The Lodger is that the story is over so quickly; I would love this idea to be developed into a full-length novel. I often say this with short stories I enjoyed!

Overall, I don’t think The Lodger  has a low rating because it’s bad. I think it’s pretty good, but not many have had the chance to read it.


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Have you read The Lodger? What did you think? If not, would you be inspired to read it for yourself?

– Judith

Book Review: Knock Knock by Chris Merritt

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Knock Knock is the new crime thriller by Chris Merritt. It’s also his first book in a police procedural series which focuses on Detective Lockhart and the psychologist Dr Green. Natasha Mayston is found murdered in her home; her body is restrained by cable-ties and she has been choked to death. However, Natasha is not the first victim, and she will be not be the last. Detective Lockhart and Dr Green must work together quickly to understand the mind of a psychopathic serial killer before more women are murdered.

My Photo [Knock Knock].png

I thought Knock Knock was reasonably entertaining, though it did take a while for the story to pique my interest.

This book covers uncomfortable topics, which is worth bearing in mind. I am thinking particularly here of passages of narration from the point of view of a serial killer who defends and justifies violence, murder, and sexual abuse. These parts didn’t put me off, but I did find them quite … difficult to read at times. You’ve been warned.

Something I especially liked about Knock Knock was the way Merritt set up a variety of characters as possible, plausible culprits for the murders. This kept me guessing and I struggled to work out what the truth was and what the red herrings were.

Something I did not like about Knock Knock was Merritt’s characterisation. Every character, upon entering the room, was introduced to the reader with their age,  appearance, personality traits, and background story. This was an information overload and, quite frankly, it was dull. I am never going to remember the details about every character of a book if I’m given them all at once. Consequently, I forgot most of these details almost instantaneously and so they could have just been omitted, in my opinion.

However, I enjoyed the actual narrative of Knock Knock; it was interesting and exciting, whilst gruesome!  

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Bookouture.

If you would like to support my blog further, you can click my affiliate link to purchase a copy of Knock Knock. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

– Judith

Reading The Lowest Rated Book on my Goodreads ‘TBR’ #2: Reviewing The Dinner by Herman Koch

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Welcome back to the second blog post in this series of reading the books on my Goodreads ‘to be read’ list which are curiously low.


The Book

I hadn’t heard of The Dinner by Herman Koch at all, until I came across a post on social media by Stephen King, who recommended it. Coincidentally, I found a copy in a charity shop a few weeks later.

The Dinner has an average rating of 3.22 on Goodreads, a score formed from more than 100,000 star ratings and around 16,000 reviews. It strikes me as a book which readers either love or loathe – I have no idea why this is, and that’s what I’m going to find out.


The Review

The Dinner is about two couples who meet at a restaurant for dinner. Polite, fashionable conversation masks the couples’ true intentions for meeting. Their teenage sons have committed a serious crime. The subsequent police investigation threatens to ruin their lives and reputations forever. Each couple is determined to protect their own child, whatever the cost.

My Photo [The Dinner].jpg

I didn’t get The Dinner.*

* Ironically, nobody eats much dinner at all because everyone keeps leaving the table to whisper to one another, take secret calls, or have private arguments. 

In my opinion, the book was trying to be dark and mysterious, without actually being dark and mysterious. None of the characters were dark, or mysterious, or manipulative. They weren’t likeable, dislikable, or interesting. They just were.

I had read half of The Dinner before the plot really begins – i.e. their sons’ crime is revealed – and, given the amount of build-up I’d read through to get to this point, I was underwhelmed when I finally found out. Again, this book could have been much darker.

I found myself waiting for more to happen, or for the writing to amaze me. Instead, I just found myself getting bored.

My overall impression of The Dinner is confusing, underwhelming and, dare I say it, dull.

The question is: was I underwhelmed because I knew the book was given a low rating in advance, or is it genuinely just not my cup of tea?


Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more content like this, as well as plenty of book reviews.

If you are interested in reading this for yourself, and would like to support my blog further, you can click my affiliate link to purchase a copy of The Dinner. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

Have you read The Dinner? What did you think? If not, would you be inspired to read it for yourself?

– Judith

Book Review: Keeper by Jessica Moor

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

Keeper is the new murder mystery / thriller novel by Jessica Moor.

When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide. But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.‘ (Amazon)

I was immediately hooked by the opening of Keeper, and I had to keep reading.

The narrative structure was particularly good; Moor’s use of alternating narrative perspectives and flashbacks helped the story to flow well, and helped me to work out the  pieces of the puzzle – and what really happened to Katie Straw.

The book focuses heavily on themes of domestic abuse and violence against women. This is an important topic to write about, and I thought the different stories shared by characters at the women’s refuge centre were incredibly powerful, and Keeper highlights that violence and abuse can come in many forms.

Warning: If violence and domestic abuse are issues that may distress you, you may want to reconsider reading this book.

I was deeply invested in Katie’s story – more than I was invested in the police investigation. To me, the police procedural elements didn’t feel as strong. Katie’s story, however, felt raw and real and terrifying in places, and I couldn’t help feeling scared myself. The fact Katie is already dead at the start of the book made it even more tragic; we know how her story ends.

Despite this, I was still shocked by the ending. Wow.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Penguin Books UK.

If you would like to support my blog further, you can click my affiliate link to purchase a copy of Keeper. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

– Judith

Reading The Lowest Rated Book on my Goodreads ‘TBR’ #1: Reviewing The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

This (hopefully) is the first blog post in a mini-series which, as the title suggests, will involve me reading the lowest rated books on my Goodreads ‘to be read’ list and exploring why they might not be so popular or well-received. I have been inspired by a variety of “booktubers” I’ve seen who have also made content like this.


The Book

I came across The People at Number 9 in a charity shop, and the cover caught my eye. I also noticed it was published by HQ, a publishing company which has published several books I have thoroughly enjoyed in the last few years.

The People at Number 9 has an average rating of 3.05 on Goodreads, a score formed from around 1700 ratings and just over 250 reviews. On first impressions, despite its low rating, this data suggests the book is well-liked but hasn’t had a large readership and therefore, hasn’t had as many reviews or ratings. However, I will find out what I truly think after reading it.


The Review

The People at Number 9 is about Sara, a wife and mother who is drawn to her new neighbours, Gav and Lou. They seem to have the most glamorously carefree lives, which makes Sara’s own life look dull and dreary in comparison. Sara decides to befriend the couple and soon, they spend all their time together. However, the longer Sara is exposed to Gav and Lou’s influence, the more Sara wants to change everything to become like them – at the risk of disrupting and upsetting her own family.

My Photo [The People at Number 9].jpg

I was initially intrigued by this blurb, and I thought the explanatory notes at the back of the book about why Everett wrote it were particularly insightful. It’s an interesting idea to explore the lengths people will go to in order to cultivate what they perceive as the “perfect” friendship. However, the story didn’t develop in the way I thought it would.

The People at Number 9 appears to be marketed as a thriller and yet, I didn’t think there were many “thrilling” scenes at all. This may have affected its Goodreads score, as the book could have attracted fans of domestic dramas and thrillers, only to be disappointed. I wish the characters had been darker or more manipulative –  or perhaps Everett could have explored Sara’s growing paranoia and suspicions of Lou further, as their friendship ingrains itself in her life.

Really, nothing much happens to “ruin” Sara’s life. The friendship just doesn’t work out.

I still liked The People at Number 9, but it wasn’t entirely what I had expected.


Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more content like this, as well as plenty of book reviews.

If you are interested in reading this for yourself, and would like to support my blog further, you can click my affiliate link to purchase a copy of The People At Number 9. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

Have you read The People at Number 9? What did you think? If not, would you be inspired to read it for yourself?

– Judith

Book Review: The Deep by Alma Katsu

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

The Deep by Alma Katsu is her newest novel, set aboard the Titanic. There is a growing sense of unease, and passengers become convinced that the ship is haunted – that someone, or something, is waiting for them, lurking in the sea. Then, they hit an iceberg. Years later, Annie Hebbley, a survivor of the Titanic, finds work aboard the Britannic, the Titanic’s sister ship. She cannot forget the fateful night when the Titanic sank, and the memories haunt her daily. Annie is convinced something sinister happened that night, and finds herself asking the question: what really sank the Titanic?

The Deep is an enjoyable mystery / ghost story with some unexpected twists, set against an interesting historical backdrop. It reminded me in style to The Lost Ones by Anita Frank.

I thought Katsu’s idea to suggest ghosts and spirits were onboard the Titanic was creative, though at times the explanations offered for these surreal supernatural occurrences were confusing to understand.

The book follows a number of different characters – some factual, some fictional. I must admit, this was lost on me as I don’t know very much about the Titanic’s passenger and crew anyway. Nevertheless, Katsu’s decision to follow a number of different characters from different social classes was a good one, as it provided fascinating, personalised perspectives of what happened in the build-up to the tragedy, and I particularly liked the characters of Annie Hebbley and Madeleine Astor.

Unfortunately, for me, The Deep was lacking in tension; the Titanic doesn’t sink until 3/4 of the way through the book and, whilst these scenes were very exciting to read, nothing particularly horrifying happens until then. If, however, you enjoy slower-paced books, this might not bother you.

Something else that “bothered” me was that, occasionally, the language or plot seemed anachronistic for the time (1912) and so characters sometimes spoke or behaved as if they were in a modern soap-opera, which made it feel less realistic.*

*Yes, I am complaining about realism in a book about ghosts onboard the Titanic. 

In summary, I thought The Deep was a good book and, even though I have made some critical comments here, I still enjoyed it.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

If you are interested in reading this for yourself, and would like to support my blog further, you can click my affiliate link to purchase a copy of The Deep. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, of Penguin Books.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith