The NetGalley Book Tag

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

For this blog post, I’ve decided to to answer some questions from the NetGalley Book Tag, a tag I’ve seen on a couple of other blogs. I joined NetGalley in late 2018. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, NetGalley is an online service which is free to join, and provides users with advance reading copies to review and promote upcoming releases before they have been published.

1. Which authors do you automatically want to read, regardless of what the books are about?

A few names spring to mind:

  • C.J. Tudor. I read and enjoyed her first novel, The Chalk Man, and requested her subsequent novels: The Taking of Annie Thorne and The Other People. Unfortunately, these requests weren’t successful at the time, but I remain optimistic for future requests.
  • C.L. Taylor. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of C.L. Taylor’s work and I like every book she’s written. Her stories and writing captivate me, and I was thrilled that my request to read her latest novel, Strangers, was approved.
  • Louise Jensen. I requested, read, and reviewed her newest novel, The Family, last year and gave it 4 stars. I then read one of her other books, The Sister, and also liked that too. I am confident I will continue to enjoy the books she releases.

2. What makes you want to request a book that you see on NetGalley?

Usually, I make my requests based on a combination of considerations, including:

  • Genre: Does it contain plot elements, themes, and ideas from genres I already love?
  • Plot Description: Does it sound mysterious and intriguing? Do the characters sound interesting?
  • Author: Am I familiar with the author’s work or reputation (via Twitter or book blogs)?
  • Publisher: Am I familiar with the publishing company? Have I enjoyed books they’ve published in the past?
  • Cover: Does it look like the next best-seller?

3. Do you review every book you read? If not, how do you decide what books to review?

Yes, I do review every book I read; I post the review to NetGalley, Goodreads, Amazon, and this blog. This may sound like a daunting task to some, but I only request books I am sure I will like, and only request a few books at a time. This means I don’t get carried away with NetGalley requests and then find myself with 100 books to review!

4. What was the last book that you received as an advance reading copy (ARC) that you reviewed?

The most recent book I have read and reviewed from NetGalley is We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk.

5. What’s one book that you can’t wait to read?

I am currently working my way through a number of NetGalley reads. My most recently approved request was for The House Share by Kate Helm, which I look forward to reading!

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.

Do you use NetGalley? If so, how would you answer these questions? 

– Judith

This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: The Sister by Louise Jensen

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

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of thrillers – somewhat inspired by a “booktuber” I’ve started watching called BooksandLala, who loves and recommends thrillers – and so this December will be a month of thriller reviews!

A while ago, I reviewed The Family by Louise Jensen. In that review, I mentioned I’d found another one of her books in a local charity shop, called The Sister. I bought it, read it, enjoyed it, so now I’m reviewing it.

The Sister is primarily about Grace, a woman mourning the death of her best friend Charlie. However, Grace discovers Charlie had been keeping secrets from her, and wonders if she truly knew her friend at all. Determined to uncover the truth, Grace starts a campaign to find out more about Charlie’s family. Anna, a woman claiming to be Charlie’s sister, comes forward. Anna is just like Charlie, and the two women quickly become friends, spending all their time together. Anna even moves in with Grace and her boyfriend Dan. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new best friend. Her boyfriend Dan isn’t so convinced and, after Anna moves in, things become to go wrong, and Grace can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t quite right.

I wasn’t sure what to make of The Sister when I first started reading; I didn’t think the opening wasn’t quite as intriguing or engaging as The Family was.

Then, suddenly, a few chapters in, I was hooked.

I love books about paranoia, suspicion, and attempts to separate the truth from the lies. It makes you wonder if the narrator is even a reliable witness, or if the things that they’ve “seen” or “heard” are only inside their head. I love being puzzled in this way.

Although, I did find The Sister slightly frustrating because, to me, it was incredibly obvious that A Certain Character had been orchestrating everything in Grace’s life, and a decent portion of the book consisted of waiting for Grace to figure out what I had already realised much earlier. Nonetheless, I did still enjoy reading Grace’s discoveries and watching her put the pieces together.

I wasn’t majorly surprised by any of the plot twists – partly due to the tagline of The Sister being ‘a psychological thriller with a brilliant twist you won’t see coming’. This meant I was already actively thinking of potential twists, changes, and secrets that could be included within a thriller narrative before I’d even read the book, and so, unfortunately, I did see it coming. 

However, despite these critiques, I was captivated to watch the story unfold and, overall, I still enjoyed The Sister. As I have now read 2 of her books, I can safely say I like Jensen’s writing, ideas, and stories, and so I have added her other books (The Date, The Surrogate, and The Gift) to my ‘to be read’ shelf on Goodreads.

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.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith

This post was last updated in January 2020

Book Review: The Family by Louise Jensen

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

The Family by Louise Jensen is a thriller about exactly that: family. Struggling to cope following the death of her husband, Laura and her teenage daughter Tilly are offered a home at Oak Leaf Organics, a local community. Initially, Laura and Tilly are welcomed as “family” members. However, Laura begins to suspect all is not right at Oak Leaf Organics, uncovering a plethora of secrets and lies. Unfortunately, Tilly has fallen for the community’s charismatic leader, Alex, and refuses to leave his side. Soon, Laura fears they’ll never be allowed to leave the Family.

My Photo [The Family].jpg

I love finding new authors to be enthusiastic about, so I was very excited to be approved for a NetGalley copy of The Family.

I was fascinated by the creepy, cult-like manipulation of the people – the “family” – within the commune, and I was interested in exploring how these manipulative strategies affected Laura and Tilly differently. In parts, this reminded me of The Girls by Emma Cline, a novel which details how girls in the 1960s were attracted to – and manipulated within – communes such as the Manson Family.

The Family is full of secrets and it was infuriating (yet enjoyable) to see the amount of information twisted, warped, and being passed around behind characters’ backs, making it impossible to trust anyone.

However, whilst I very much enjoyed The Family, some parts were a little repetitive. This is due to Jensen’s writing style and characterisation of Laura and Tilly, as each chapter alternates between their perspectives, retelling certain events which omit or focus on particular details, drawing attention to what was or wasn’t said. On the one hand, I did initially like this writing style because it helped to highlight how out of touch they were with each other, arguably justifying why they turn to the “family” members for much-needed love and attention. Laura, as a mother, has no idea what her daughter is truly thinking or feeling. Tilly, as a frustrated teenager, feels as though her mother doesn’t support her enough or ask how she feels. On the other hand, this writing style meant there are quite a few scenes which are repeated with the same dialogue and the same descriptions, which after a while felt repetitive.

My overall impression of The Family is that it is a thrilling novel full of twists and secrets, and I really enjoyed it. By chance, the day after I started reading The Family, I found another of Louise Jensen’s novels in a local charity shop! I immediately bought it, keen to read more of her work.

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 HQ, which is an imprint of Harper Collins UK.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith

This post was last updated in January 2020