Sunday Book Review – Where There’s Doubt – A #Psychological #Mystery/Romance by Terry Tyler

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Terry Tyler’s addictive psychological thriller – Where There’s Doubt. This book has been getting a lot of attention around our reading circles, and once I began reading it, I found out why. The protagonist Kate invites into her cozy world of happy seaside living in a small town in Norfolk, England, until her world turns crazy after meeting a new boyfriend on the internet – who turns out to be a sociopathic narcissist whose roots of deceit run deep.

Blurb:

‘I can be anything you want me to be. Even if you don’t know you want it. Especially if you don’t know you want it.’

Café owner Kate is mentally drained after a tough two years; all she wants from her online chess partner is entertainment on lonely evenings, and maybe a little virtual flirtation.

She is unaware that Nico Lewis is a highly intelligent con artist who, with an intricately spun web of lies about their emotional connection, will soon convince her that he is The One.

Neither does Kate know that his schemes involve women who seek love on dating sites, as well as his small publishing business. A host of excited authors believe Nico is about to make their dreams come true.

Terry Tyler’s twenty-fourth publication is a sinister psychological drama that highlights the dark side of internet dating—and the danger of ignoring the doubts of your subconscious.

My 5 Star Review:

Tyler takes us on a psychological ride into the dark side of internet dating. Sweet Kate thinks she’s met her perfect match through meeting Nico while playing chess on ‘Lifeshare’ a social media site. Kate owns a successful cafe by surfside in a Shipden, Norfolk, village  and had recently broke up with a cheating boyfriend, Jackson. Nico was a collector of woman, who used the guise of being a vanity publisher for Indie books because it gave him a boatload of excuses to be unavailable to the many women he seemed to be in relationships with. Think ‘Tinder Swindler’ when envisioning Nico. The story pulls us in because yet again, another internet scammer on the prowl for women seems to be a topic of interest these days.

The author brings in richly crafted characters to drive the story, and gives us a peek into Nico’s psyche to let us in on what makes this conman tick. We get to know the ‘other’ women he’s ensnared with his wiley charms, knowing how to play each one – Polly the low self-esteemed girl who dreams of a fairytale life, Heather, the young grieving widow, Minerva, the lonely, older more secure widow, and the pretty, carefree and fun Kate. And of course we can’t leave out ‘Em’ Nico’s ‘apparent’ ‘real’ girlfriend who assists him to ensnare these other women by doing all the social media profiling for him to make sure his tracks are covered, leading us to think he is doing all this cyber stalking and dating to extort money for ‘them’ both. He cleverly uses Em as his default decoy when with these women, telling them she’s his sister.

Polly is busily planning her wedding with Nico, unaware that his intentions are to get her to spend some of her lottery winnings on a house he wants to buy – for himself. Heather is a young widow living in isolation in the home she shared with the love of her life who has passed on. Wealthy Minerva is smart and realizes handsome Nico is fun to be with, though realizing two decades younger than her, that one day this relationship will probably end, but surely, investing in his publishing business could be a lucrative business adventure. Kate is his favorite he spends most time with, and he’s snagged her heart and trust and goes to deceitful ends to take her to the house he’s pining after, lying to Kate by telling her the house was left to him and his sister in his aunt’s will, adding, the problem is that the house was left to two other cousins and he’d love to buy them out, giving Kate the idea she should buy in so they can live there together. What could go wrong? Plenty!

As the plots thicken and Nico gets sloppy covering his tracks, things begin to happen. Heather begins to feel Nico is pushing a little to hard for her to sell her house to buy into ‘the Grove’ house he supposedly wants to buy his ‘cousins’ out of, and she decides to do some internet surfing and discovers that Nico is a conman. And this is where part two of the book opens up a whole new insidious plot with characters we never would have suspected are part of Nico’s evil ploy.

As the story unfolds, little pieces of his lies are slipping through the cracks and Nico finds himself having to come up with quick coverups. And when the shyte hits the fan, a whole lot of evil is unveiled to us. Don’t even think I’ve given away any spoilers here because the fun begins in this book once Nico is exposed.

Lots of twists and a great conman caper, which sadly, is not so uncommon in today’s world. And a book that was literally hard to put down!

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Movie Review: The Undoing #miniseries – #Whodunit

Welcome to my Sunday Movie Review again. The Undoing is a mini series on HBO, an intense psychological thriller. For those of you who enjoy a good suspense whodunit, this series is for you.

 

My 5 Star Review:

I love a good character study movie. And with a cast of Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant and Donald Sutherland, what’s not to love? Except, when you are used to seeing certain stars in movies who are mostly typecast play someone out of their character realm. But in this series, it demonstrates a great example of what going against the grain is like with Grant’s personified movie image. Grant in this psychological suspenseful role plays an unlikely and unusual character. We get a glimpse of a darker side of Grant in this suspenseful family saga whodunit with Grant as one of the suspected murderers because of who the murder victim was.

So what’s the action? Grant and Kidman are a well-off – ‘seemingly’ happy couple. Grant is an oncologist and Kidman plays a psychologist. They lead busy lives and seem to have a great relationship. But does something sinister lurk in Grant’s head?

A young struggling artist comes into Kidman’s circle on the ‘mom’ board at her son’s preppy school, wanting to join the school board of a private school where she hopes to assimilate her young son into the preppy school and become part of the ‘mom board’. She ‘somewhat’ befriends Nicole and shows up in unpredictable places. Then suddenly the girl is murdered. The show progresses searching for and suspecting some unsuspecting characters – including Nicole and then Hugh. How could we possibly suspect a doctor of oncology who dedicates his life to saving people?

As Grant becomes the main targeted suspect, I, as the audience couldn’t buy it. But not until the last episode (of six), did my suspicion begin to grow. And not til the very end do we get a big surprise in this well written series with great characters and subject matter that will keep you guessing til the last minute.

End-game: there are so many clever possible theories and suspects thwarting guilt, who dunit? A cleverly woven tale to keep you guessing as you may begin to suspect each suspect as guilt continues shifting and had me changing my mind about whodunit. Is Hugh guilty? Was it his son? Was it the dead woman’s husband? The last court episode was like a tennis match of shifting blame. Who’s on your side? Who can you trust?

Grace (Kidman) taking the stand and the twisted last turn of interrogation was the final straw which determined the killer’s fate. Perfect name – Undoing of so much, of a child’s innocence, of a marriage, of trust, and undoing the facade behind people, exposing the farce.

 

 

“Grace Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. She’s a successful therapist, has a devoted husband and young son who attends an elite private school in New York City. Overnight a chasm opens in her life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only a chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.”

The above quote taken from below link to another few trailer scenes at IMDB

https://www.imdb.com/video/vi2746007833?playlistId=tt8134470

 

***

This miniseries was based on a book originally titled – You Should Have Known. I presume once the series became a hit the cover was changed. I’ve read a few comments of almost 3000 4 star reviews, and I think my review is with the majority of 4 and 5 stars. Of course with that many reviews an author is going to take some 2 stars and most of what I read didn’t grasp the psychology of the story. At over 400 pages it became a 6 hour miniseries.

 

 

Blurb:

Read the “rollickingly good literary thriller” and New York Times Bestseller — and watch the most talked about TV series of 2020, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant.

Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. Devoted to her husband, a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, their young son Henry, and the patients she sees in her therapy practice, her days are full of familiar things: she lives in the very New York apartment in which she was raised, and sends Henry to the school she herself once attended.

Dismayed by the ways in which women delude themselves, Grace is also the author of a book You Should Have Known, in which she cautions women to really hear what men are trying to tell them. But weeks before the book is published a chasm opens in her own life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only an ongoing chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.

 

Has anyone here seen this series or read the book? What did you think?

 

©DGKaye2021

bitmo live laugh love

 

Sunday Book Review – A Year in the Life of Leah Brand by Lucinda Clarke

My Sunday Book Review is for Lucinda E. Clarke’s psychological thriller – A Year in the Life of Leah Brand. Leah has certainly had her share of grief in her life, and just when she thinks life has given her a second chance at happiness, her world begins spinning out of control.

 

 

 

Blurb:

Leah’s nightmare began the day the dog died.

A few years earlier a fatal car crash took the lives of Leah’s beloved husband and their two babies, leaving her disabled. Life looked bleak. She was approaching forty, unemployed, broke and desperate.

Then she met Mason. He was charming, charismatic, persuasive, and a successful businessman, well respected in the community. His teenage daughter did nothing to welcome Leah into the family, but life is never perfect.

Then, two years into her second marriage, Leah Brand’s world is turned upside down; inanimate objects in the house move, her clothes are left out for the rubbish collection, pieces of furniture change places, there are unexplained noises and hauntings.

As the disturbances increase, everyone accuses Leah of losing her mind. Soon she begins to doubt herself and she starts to spiral down into a world of insanity. Is she going mad, or is someone out to destroy her? And if so, why?

A gripping, psychological thriller for fans of Mary Higgins Clarke and Louise Jensen.

 

My 4 Star Review:

This is certainly a different type of physcological thriller. Leah Brand is a lovely woman whose life has become a series of crazy mishaps making her life spiral out of control shortly after marrying Mason. After surviving a fatal car accident that took her first husband and two children and one of her legs, Leah’s new life becomes a nightmare.

The story begins when we’re taken into Leah’s life and marriage She’s remarried to Mason, a very unlikeable man whose ex-wife had run off and left him with a teenage terror daughter Belinda and estranged son Leo (who doesn’t show up til late in the book). We’re vaguely informed that Mason’s first wife left him. Slowly Leah becomes unraveled as things start appearing and disappearing in her house to the point where she thinks she might be going crazy. The only friend she has is next door neighbor Andrea, and throughout the book we’re left wondering if even Andrea is a real friend.

There are many unlikeable characters in this book from conniving Mason to his daughter – and plenty more, but no spoilers. There seems to be no place of safety or sanity for Leah as she spends her days trying to figure out what is going on in her life, her home, and with her hot and cold relationship with her narcissistic husband. And without insights about this awful man prior to the start of the story, I continued to struggle with why on earth this lovely woman who has been through so much grief in life – losing her family and putting up with an equally evil mother with dementia, continued to endure the unhappiness she was living.

The story is told from Leah’s perspective – first person, which I enjoy. We get to learn Leah’s thoughts and rationales for actions and surmisings. But despite not knowing why everything is going bizarro in Leah’s world, I found it a tad unbelievable that a smart woman with a head on her shoulders would endure all the shenanigans, and I felt disturbed throughout the book – sign of good writing, but reader frustration. It took the whole book of enduring Leah’s angst to wait for the explanation of the happenings, which ultimately felt a wee bit out of left field when we finally learn some of the story’s mysteries.

The ending didn’t tie up things as I anticipated, once the discoveries were let out of the bag, I assume more will be revealed in book 2 as I’m sure this book was left as a cliffhanger because some of the answers still left room for clarification, leaving me questioning why I was left still suspecting more behind the revelations, as just desserts weren’t doled out and a mysterious disappearance hadn’t fully been resolved.

Without a doubt, Clarke is a crafty writer. She planted lots of red herrings throughout the story along with two minor other characters who brought back the likeability factor – a real friend, Bill, and Aunty Dierdre. These characters offered a breath of fresh air in a story of constant craziness, while feeling sorry for Leah, yet wanting to smack her in the head with a wake-up call to get the hell out of the nuthouse she was living in and away from the people in her life who treated her so bloody poorly. I like to root for the underdog in a story, but I think Leah missed stepping up to the plate. I know not every story has likeable characters, I may just be that reader who it bothers too much.

Well written and definitely a book to keep the pages turning. The only reason for 4 stars is a personal one, not a reflection on the writer who certainly had a vision in mind for Leah’s character. But as a reader, I get flustered by women who stay with abusive men and make excuses for them.

©DGKaye2020

bitmo live laugh love

 

Sunday Book Review – A House Without Windows by Stevie Turner

Sunday Book Review

Book reviews by D.G. Kaye

 

Today’s book review is on author Stevie Turner’s book- A House Without Windows. This book captivated me from the get-go. The story drew me in immediately as the protagonist, Beth, took us right into a nightmare of captivity. I don’t wish to give any spoiler alerts but suffice it to say, the psychological damage that she endures had me reading uncomfortably, yet glued and anxiously hoping through each page she’d be rescued . . . being rescued doesn’t usually mean the events a captured victim experienced will ever go away.

 

 

Blurb:

Dr Beth Nichols thinks she has been held captive by Edwin Evans for about 8 or 9 years now. Amidst her grief she often looks back and thinks about her fiancée Liam; theirs was the greatest romance of all. She lays awake at night staring at the one light bulb that is never switched off, and prays that he is still out there somewhere searching for her…

 

My 5 Star Review:

This book has an unusual storyline with each chapter taking us into the minds and real life thoughts of each character, I could liken this story to the book/movie – Room, but the story isn’t only about ‘the room’ Beth is held captive in, but life after she is freed and the perspectives of every day life after being a victim.

A House Without Windows is the story of Beth Nichols whose compassion as a doctor leads to a scary nightmare in real life when Edwin Evans forms a ploy to kidnap her and keep her locked up all for himself. The story begins as a psychological thriller where Beth’s captivity in a tiny room with no windows becomes her life and the only home she will know for almost ten years,

Turner does a great job of giving us readers a ringside seat into what life is like for Beth, leaving us feeling uncomfortable, anxious, taking us in, almost as though we were that hostage, and wondering how on earth she will ever get out of her hell. Beth is a strong-willed and an intelligent woman, which has much to do with how she manages to stay sane while enduring solitude and the daily abuse, all the while remembering her love for her dear fiancee Liam.

I don’t want to reveal spoilers so it’s better I don’t talk about what happens in the second half of the book. Suffice it to say, I will plant some questions here that came to my mind as I read this captivating book:

Beth: How does one continue on back in the real world when it comes to love and sex and trust?

Beth: How does a mother keep love in her heart for a child who was born from rape?

Amy: How does a child born in captivity adapt to the real world after young childhood years in 4 walls?

Liam: Does true love ever die no matter the circumstance even after moving on and accepting the love of your life is dead?

Joss: Does being born of the spawn of a psychotic maniac carry through the genes?

These are just a few questions that came to mind and will no doubt come to any reader’s mind as they read this book, and as you continue to read those answers will be revealed. Turner has done a fantastic job of fleshing out characters, settings and mood. I would highly #recommend this book!