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

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 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

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.

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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

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

Book Review: The Silent House by Nell Pattison

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

The Silent House is a compelling new crime thriller novel by Nell Pattison. It is about the Hunter family, whose baby daughter is brutally murdered in the middle of the night. However, the family members are all deaf. No one heard a thing. The police call Paige Northwood, a BSL interpreter, to assist with their investigation by interpreting for the witnesses. The local community is in shock, but Paige has her suspicions about what really happened.

I greatly enjoyed the plot and narrative style of The Silent House. The narrative alternates between the murder investigation taking place in the present day and a series of flashbacks, counting down to the time of the murder. Each flashback bolstered my understanding of the present-day investigation and revealed little details and secrets along the way, allowing me to piece together the mystery myself.

An aspect of The Silent House I found particularly interesting was the information given about BSL and the deaf community, via the narrative voice of Paige Northwood, an interpreter. This was not a topic I knew anything about previously, and so I enjoyed reading about, and learning about, sign language.

I was also struck by the difficulty of Paige’s situation; as the interpreter, she could understand the thoughts and feelings of the suspects in a way that the police officers never could, making it increasingly difficult for her to remain unbiased and professional. This then seeps into the narrative voice; Paige’s sympathies and suspicions become blurred as she gets to know those whom she is interpreting for, making her a changeable and unreliable narrator. I’m not used to this in a crime novel (usually, crime novels cast a police officer or a detective inspector as the protagonist), but I liked the unreliability of Paige’s narration.

However, the downside of casting an interpreter as the protagonist, instead of a police officer, meant that, because The Silent House is still a crime novel, Paige was constantly trying to investigate the murder herself, meddling and nosying for secret information and leads. In my opinion, this was highly inappropriate – Paige is not an investigator, and she knows a great number of the suspects personally – and the police officers expressed this repeatedly, and, every time, Paige refused to listen. Because of this, I struggled to see her as a sympathetic, or even a likeable, character.

I don’t know what a solution to this is would be, though. Would it have been better if Paige had been characterised as a police officer who also knows BSL? Or is that “too convenient” for the plot? I’m not sure.

Anyway, on the whole, I enjoyed The Silent House and would recommend if you are seeking a new, interesting crime novel this year.

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 Avon, a division of HarperCollins.

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 Silent House. This means I receive a small commission if you purchase using my link.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

– Judith

Becoming A ‘Secret Reader’ & Reviewing Framed by S.L. McInnis

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

Towards the end of last year, Hodder Books announced on social media that, provided anyone over the age of 18 based in the UK had the opportunity to become a ‘Secret Reader’, allowing participants early access to e-books from a range of genres. It works as follows: A small number of books from a particular genre are made available for 7 days. The ‘Secret Reader’ can then choose 1 book to read online, or via the Secret Readers App. Once the reader has made their selection and has read more than 10% of it, they have 2 months to finish the book. I decided to sign up.

In the first week, the available books were from the genre of Women’s Fiction. This isn’t a genre I’m particularly interested in (at all), so I let the 7 day period elapse without choosing anything to read.

In the second week, however, the available books were categorised as Crime, Thrillers & Mystery, which caught my attention, and, out of the 6 books available, I chose to read Framed by S.L. McInnis.


My ‘Secret Reader’ Experience 

I should probably start with the positives:

  • In becoming a ‘Secret Reader’, I was granted early access to a new book which I may not have come across otherwise
  • Unlike NetGalley, my access to the book was immediate, and I didn’t have to wait for approval

Unfortunately, those were the only positives I could think of.

There doesn’t seem to be much publicity around being a ‘Secret Reader’ – so much so that it makes you wonder whether it’s even “legit”. I have to admit, I really can’t see much of a need when NetGalley is already so widely popular, well-known, and well used.

However, my biggest problem with being a ‘Secret Reader’ was the functionality of their e-reader app and website. As you cannot download your chosen e-book as a PDF or Kindle file, you are reliant on using their app or website in order to read, which I was disappointed by.

On the Secret Reader App, some of the icons were unclear as to what they were supposed to represent. This is a new, unfamiliar app to me, and for example, I had no idea which button meant “start reading” and which button meant “delete download” – especially as both were represented by images of books / pages. Consequently, I was frustrated to discover I’d accidentally deleting my new book, just as I was getting ready to read it! I also had difficulty adjusting the font size and using the progress bar at the bottom of the page; if I lost my place, it would either drag me too far backwards, too far forwards, or crash entirely. In the end, I gave up on the app and read the book via the Secret Reader website, on my computer, which was not ideal.

My Photo [Secret Readers 2]My Photo [Secret Readers 1]

On the one hand, these technical issues may have just been my experience – my phone or the app could have been playing up on the day I tried to use it, for instance – and I may be making a big fuss over nothing.

On the other hand, I don’t particularly want to risk repeating the experience, and the prospect of reading another full-length novel on a computer screen doesn’t thrill me. With this in mind, whilst I was glad to be able to read Framed, I’m not sure I would be a ‘Secret Reader’ again.


Book Review: Framed 

Framed is a crime thriller / suspense novel which focuses on two women: Beth and Cassy. They were roommates at university, but they both grew apart and moved away. Beth has made a life for herself; she has married and embarked upon a career teaching music. Cassy, on the other hand, is on the run. The LAPD are searching for a culprit in connection with  a quadruple homicide and a botched drug deal. Then, Cassy turns up on Beth’s doorstep, desperate for help.

My Photo [Framed]

On the whole, I enjoyed Framed.

It was easy to read, largely due to the short and simple sentences used throughout. On the one hand, this writing style increased the tension and quickened the pace of the novel in certain scenes but, on the other hand, it risks making the book look a little too simplistically written.

I liked reading the different character perspectives – Beth, her husband Jay, and Cassy – and gradually learning more about their personalities, pasts, and the nature of their relationships with one another. I was less interested in following the police procedural part of the narrative, unfortunately.

I’d say Framed is a slow burner; I was halfway through the book and found myself still waiting for more excitement and more plot development to happen. Nevertheless, I was interested and invested in the story throughout.

The final quarter of Framed is where things get most interesting, and the book is packed full of plot twists. Everything changes – even the narrators aren’t being honest with themselves, or the reader, and this was fun to experience. It did mean, however, that  unravelling the lies and piecing together what actually happened was somewhat confusing.

On the whole though, I thought Framed was an entertaining new crime thriller and I would recommend if you are searching for new books in this genre to read.

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.

Have you had any experience as a ‘Secret Reader’? Would you consider becoming one? 

– Judith

A Day Out in Whitby

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

This is a blog post unlike anything I’ve ever written before!

Last weekend, my husband and I visited Whitby, on the east coast of Yorkshire. The town centre is divided by the River Esk. There is one crossing: Whitby Swing Bridge, which is more than 100 years old! Whitby is famous for many things, including Whitby Abbey, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Captain Cook, and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

I was inspired to write a blog post about our visit by my friend’s travel blog, Jade Braham’s Odyssey.


Weather

It probably sounds ridiculous to visit a northern seaside town in England, in February. Perhaps it was!

When we arrived on Friday afternoon, it was quite drizzly, windy, and grey. The weather did brighten up on Saturday, though, and we enjoyed blue skies and sunshine, although there was a persistent, blustery wind and occasional spots of rain. This probably sounds like the worst time to go on holiday! However, we had expected the weather to be like this, so we made sure to pack warm jumpers, woolly hats, and waterproofs. After all, the reason we came was to enjoy each other’s company and the scenic surroundings – not to get a suntan. In addition, English weather is so changeable that there’s no guarantee the weather in the summer months would be any better! There were also some advantages to visiting at this time of year too, such as cheaper holiday accommodation and quieter tourist attractions.

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We saw a rainbow in the harbour!

Tourist Attractions 

I have been to Whitby on a number of occasions but my husband has never been. As a result, I was keen for us to experience as many of the sights of Whitby as we could!

1. North Yorkshire Moors Railway

The NYMR is an 18 mile heritage railway which operates between Whitby and Pickering. The 1 hour 45 minute journey across the moors is one of the most scenic in the UK. Unfortunately, trains were not operating on the weekend of our visit (much to my husband’s disappointment), but they do run daily from April to October. Along the route, you can look out for the remote Goathland Station, the filming location for “Hogsmeade Station” from the adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

2. Whitby Abbey (+ Dracula

On Saturday morning, we left our B&B, crossed Whitby Bridge, and the climbed the 199 steps to reach Whitby Abbey. Yes, there really are 199 steps, but they are quite shallow and easy to climb; it only took us a few minutes to reach the top. If you do think you would struggle, though, there are handrails and multiple stopping points with benches to rest on. From the top of the cliff, we had beautiful views of the harbour, the sea, and the town below.

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Our view over Whitby from the Abbey.
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A more artistic view of the Abbey.

Whitby Abbey was first built in the 7th century as a monastery for both men and women. At some point in the 9th century, however, it was abandoned, possibly due to Viking invasions. In the 13th century, the monastery was rebuilt in the Gothic style but, following the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, it was once again abandoned. Parts of the Abbey have since eroded and collapsed, leaving the ruins we can see today. You can click here to find out more about this by visiting the English Heritage website.

English Heritage owns and maintains Whitby Abbey, so there is an entrance fee in order to visit it, unless you already have English Heritage Membership. The cost of an adult ticket is £9-£10, which we thought was quite expensive, so we decided to give it a miss. Instead, we walked past the Abbey and down the road, enjoying more sea views as we went. To our surprise and amazement, the stone wall surrounding the grounds was much lower here, allowing us fantastic views and photo opportunities that didn’t cost us a penny! If you want to get closer than we did, however, and explore some of the historical exhibits about Whitby Abbey, you might benefit more from a “proper” visit.

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Our stunning view that cost us nothing!

Whitby Abbey is also the location which inspired some of Bram Stoker’s famous Gothic novel, Dracula. We also briefly visited ‘Bram Stoker’s Bench’, which is situated on Khyber Pass. It is a bench in the location where Stoker supposedly sat and got the idea for his novel. From here, you can see the Abbey looming over the town of Whitby (though we didn’t spot any vampires). Admittedly, this wasn’t incredibly exciting – it was just a bench, after all – but as an English literature student and Gothic horror fan, it was still fun to see.   We also went to see 6 Royal Crescent, the guesthouse Stoker stayed in whilst in Whitby, which is marked with a blue plaque. It’s now private accommodation, though, so we didn’t want to get too close!

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The plaque marking ‘Bram Stoker’s Bench’

If you want to enjoy even more Dracula-themed attractions, you could also visit The Dracula Experience, which promises a tour of the Dracula story with live actors, special effects, and scares. This didn’t particularly appeal to my husband and I – personally, I think it sounds a little gimmicky – but if you want to pay the £4 entrance fee and see for yourself, be my guest.

3. Museums 

There are quite a few museums in the area:

We chose to visit the free ones, as we were quite keen to save money in some areas of our trip; staying in a B&B meant we had to eat lunch and dinner in cafés and restaurants, which automatically increased costs.

First, we went to the Museum of Whitby Jet, which is located inside the Wesley Hall on Church Street. The museum had plenty of information about how Jet is formed, its link to Whitby, and its value. There were also quite a few display cases which featured Jet in its raw form, Jet jewellery, and other novelty items fashioned out of the gemstone, including a dollhouse-sized table and chairs. There are numerous Jet jewellery shops in Whitby – understandably so, because of the tourist industry – but this jewellery is quite expensive, in my opinion.

Secondly, we went to the Whitby Lifeboat Museum on Pier Road, which was once an RNLI boat station.  It was very interesting; there was information about the history of the RNLI itself, case studies about real-life shipwrecks, and even artefacts that had been recovered from these shipwrecks. One of these items was a trunk belonging to a lady who survived the sinking of the SS Rohilla in 1914 – just 2 years after she survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912! If you would like to learn more about the RNLI, you can click here to visit their website.

Both museums were fairly small and they only took us about 15-30 minutes to fully explore each one. This gave us a brief snapshot of some of Whitby’s local history whilst not taking up the entire day, so we could do other things too!

We learnt more of Whitby’s nautical history, despite not visiting the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, when we saw the famous whale bone arch and read the nearby information boards. In the 18th and 19th century, whaling in the Arctic Sea was a particularly lucrative trade, albeit a dangerous one. Many boats departed from Whitby to hunt whales. In 1853, a 20-foot arch was erected from the jawbone of a blue whale to pay homage to Whitby’s whaling history. Over time, the bones eroded, and so they have been replaced with newer jawbones on several occasions.

4. Shops 

In addition to traditional tourist attractions, Whitby also has a lot of shops to browse, such as traditional sweet shops, gift shops, art shops, and plenty more. We each bought a small stick of rock from Jane’s Rock Shop, as I love this seaside tradition and they only cost 25p each.

I paid particular attention to the bookshops, though!

We visited The Whitby Bookshop, an independent bookshop with a pleasing array of non-fiction and fiction from different genres, including an entire section dedicated to horror! Of course, there were plenty of copies of Dracula, as well as other ghost stories and books about folklore. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any secondhand bookshops, though we did browse quite a few charity shops. I managed to pick up a copy of The Surrogate by Louise Jensen, an author I like, for just 50p!

5. Food

On Friday evening, we had booked a table in the Moon & Sixpence for dinner, having liked the look of the menu* and seen positive reviews online.

* We were keen to find places that didn’t just serve fish and chips, as my husband doesn’t like fish! This can be quite a challenge when staying by the coast.

However, when we arrived, it was overcrowded, noisy, and not our style at all. People were pushing past us frantically to get in, and others were pushing past us to get back to their tables from the bar. Drinks were going everywhere, and cocktails were slopping all over the floor. We quickly decided to evacuate.

Instead, we found a wonderful alternative on the other side of the River Esk: Abbey Wharf. It was so much better! It’s a large, spacious restaurant and, though it was busy*, it wasn’t too loud and didn’t feel crowded either. Abbey Wharf overlooks the river and has big glass windows as well as some glass ceiling panels, so we could see lights sparkling on the water and and twinkling in the night sky, which really enhanced the atmosphere. Also, the food was delicious, the service was fantastic, and the prices were reasonable.

* Not long after our impromptu arrival, the restaurant filled completely, so I would recommend booking in advance, if you can.

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Abbey Wharf at night

On Saturday, we went to a café called Sherlocks for lunch, which is located on Flowergate. The business is named Sherlocks because, allegedly, a wealthy family by the surname of Holmes purchased the building in the late 1800s. It is rumoured that a Master S. Holmes would stay here in Whitby, enjoying the sea air and honing his sleuthing skills over a cup of coffee!

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The beautiful wall of books behind our table!

Of course, this is just good fun – Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, not a real person. As a fan of mystery and detective novels, though, it was a nice place to go! If you would like to read more blog posts about the Sherlock Holmes stories, you can find some I’ve written here.

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Sherlocks

Sherlocks is a quirky café that has cosy lighting and plays soft jazz music over the stereo, and is decorated with antique books and ornaments. Upstairs, where we sat, was designed to look like Sherlock’s study! The building itself is a little “higgedly piggedly”, with steep stairs and lots of tables and so, in busier periods, it might feel a little tight for space. I think this is due to the size of the buildings and shops along the entire street of Flowergate; a lot of the buildings are quite tall and narrow. Nevertheless, I think the interior of Sherlocks added to the café’s charm and individuality.

On Saturday evening, we had booked a table in Cosa Nostra, an Italian restaurant on Church Street. It was spacious and nicely decorated, though it was a little loud, despite not being full, because the building’s high ceilings made a slight echo. The pizzas were good, though, and the service was prompt. Our only frustration was that we didn’t have a set waiter, so we didn’t see the same member of staff twice! One waiter took our order, another brought us our drinks, another brought us our food, another came to check our meal was alright, and another brought us the bill! This was a bit disorienting.


Finally, after a day of exploration (and eating), we returned to our B&B to rest – and to read our books! My holiday book of choice was The House Share by Kate Helm, an upcoming thriller novel I received via NetGalley. My husband’s holiday book of choice was Never Say Die by Anthony Horowitz, the newest of the Alex Rider novels.


6. Other Considerations

  • Transport. The easiest way to get to Whitby is by car. There is a railway station, but the only way to reach Whitby by train is via Middlesbrough, which is even further north than Whitby itself, and so this can be a long, long journey. On the other hand, the Esk Valley Line (to Whitby) affords some wonderful scenic views.
  • Accessibility. Whitby has quite a few cobbled pavements and steep hills, which can be climbed with with steps (with handrails) or ramps. We wandered and walked around Whitby as we felt like, but if accessibility or mobility are issues for you, it may be worthwhile planning your route around the town before you set off, to avoid some of the steeper bits!
  • Amenities. We noticed a number of public toilets around the town, but they had a 40p charge. This could be paid with either cash or card, but the machines don’t give change.
  • Dogs. Whitby is a very dog-friendly town; we saw plenty of dog walkers whilst we were out and about. Many shops and cafés are also dog-friendly too, so it’s worth being aware of this if you would feel uncomfortable or scared by dogs.
  • Planning / Cost. It’s sensible to plan in advance where you would like to eat, in order to compare menus, prices, and the quality of food. We mostly used Tripadvisor and personal recommendations to find places we liked the look of (although Tripadvisor let us down when it came to The Moon & Sixpence!)

Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Whitby and would recommend you visit!


Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ to support my blog.

Also, please comment below if you would like to me to write more content like this in the future – I’ve never written any travel blog posts before, and I hoped this would be an interesting mixture of book & travel blog content!

Although I have provided links to the websites of local businesses and tourist attractions, nothing used in this blog post is sponsored or an affiliate.

Have you read Dracula? What did you think? Have you visited Whitby? Would you like to?

– Judith

 

Book Review: A Window Breaks by C.M. Ewan

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

A Window Breaks is the newest thriller novel by C.M. Ewan. Tom and Rachel Sullivan are a married couple struggling to stay together, after a traumatic event threatened to rip their family apart.. A friend suggests they take a family holiday to recuperate, and so they travel to a Scottish lodge with their daughter Holly to rest, relax, and heal. However, they are awoken when they hear sounds in the night – glass smashing, a window breaking. They are under attack.

A Window Breaks was an up-and-down read. It fluctuates between really good bits and really… underwhelming bits.

It takes a small while for the Sullivan family to arrive at the Scottish lodge. Consequently, I wasn’t interested in the events leading up to this because, due to the blurb, I knew the thrills would only begin once the family were at the lodge.

However, once the break-in happens at the lodge, the book is fantastic – for a while. The Sullivan family become involved in a tense game of “cat and mouse” as they attempt to run or hide from the intruders, who wield a deadly array of weapons. They’ve come to kill. Every scene was full of tension, fear, and drama – I felt scared and excited at the same time, and I was glued to my Kindle app.

Then, the pacing slows. Sometimes, this slow pacing is used to give characters a respite, which I completely understand. At other times, in my opinion, it simply adds “filler” – time for the characters to chat or have something explained to them, in order for the vague, secondary mystery plot (which is running through the book in addition to the horror / thriller narrative) to be developed. For me, these sections dragged and spoiled the immersion of the tense, chase sequences.

A Window Breaks continues in this way, fluctuating between fast-paced thriller action and slow-paced exposition until the climax, when all secrets are revealed and mysteries are explained. It was at this point that I realised the plot wasn’t going in the direction I thought it was going. On the one hand, this meant the novel is successfully unpredictable but, on the other hand, it meant I lost interest once I realised the book wasn’t what I expected.

I’ll try not to give too much away for future readers but, in a nutshell, the ending of A Window Breaks was rather disappointing. I had been expecting a thrilling and terrifying home invasion novel – especially given the blurb, tagline, cover, and marketing. A Window Breaks was like a home invasion novel at the beginning and during the middle but, by the ending, it wasn’t much like one at all – it was a convoluted and confusing mystery thriller. I didn’t understand much of the explanations  or “plot twists” and ultimately, it wasn’t what I had hoped it would be.*

* I would have given this a 4 star rating, were it not for the mystery plot and ending. 

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 Pan Macmillan.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith