Underneath by Anne Goodwin

Underneath by Anne Goodwin | Book Review

Title: Underneath
Author: Anne Goodwin
Published: 
May 25, 2017 by Inspired Quill
Genre: Psychological Thriller
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

He never intended to be a jailer …

After years of travelling, responsible to no-one but himself, Steve has resolved to settle down. He gets a job, buys a house and persuades Liesel to move in with him.

Life’s perfect, until Liesel delivers her ultimatum: if he won’t agree to start a family, she’ll have to leave. He can’t bear to lose her, but how can he face the prospect of fatherhood when he has no idea what being a father means? If he could somehow make her stay, he wouldn’t have to choose … and it would be a shame not to make use of the cellar.

Will this be the solution to his problems, or the catalyst for his own unravelling?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I read and reviewed Anne Goodwin’s debut novel Sugar and Snails and enjoyed it. When she contacted me about this thriller, and I love thrillers, I was excited to give it a shot.

rp-plot

We follow the first-person point of view of Steve, a man who buys a house and tries to get his life in order. He meets Liesel and they hit it off right away. She moves in with him and together they decide how they should use the cellar. The cellar is used for a few reasons as Steve tries to fix it up. It isn’t until Liesel gives him an ultimatum: They have kids together or she leaves, that Steve decides to use the cellar as Liesel’s own “home.” He doesn’t want kids, but he doesn’t want to lose Liesel.

It’s an interesting premise for a story and I was intrigued by it. However, it was pretty slow-going in the beginning. Nothing really happened until 150 pages into the story and, at that point, there were only about 100 pages left. Still, we did get flashbacks into Steve’s childhood which showcased how he grew up without a father and potentially why he never wants to be a father himself.

rp-characters

The characters were developed well. I felt for both Liesel and Steve and their own inner problems. Liesel wanted kids after her career didn’t work out and Steve just wanted a simple life with the girl of his dreams and it took a sudden turn for the worst.

Liesel was a go-getter from the beginning. When she decided she wanted something, she went for it as best as she could. This included Steve, her career, and then wanting kids. I loved that about her, but since we were in Steve’s head, I knew that Liesel could do better than him. Still, they had a cute relationship with one another.

To be honest, I couldn’t relate to Steve that well. I didn’t care for him as a character, even though he was the main protagonist and antagonist. I sympathized with him for his childhood, but that was about it. There was just something about him that turned me off from him.

rp-writing-style

The story is told to us in parts as opposed to chapters, which isn’t a bad thing. However, there were no timestamps or dates to indicate where we were and when. Time jumps were used an extra space in between paragraphs and flashbacks had a page break, but that was it. This made it a little confusing to read, but the author does write well regardless.

rp-overall

This was a good read, but I do wish the timeline was a little clearer and I felt more for Steve. Still, it was interesting, especially the ending. It makes you wonder what actually happened and whether your interpretation of the book was real or not. In that sense, it was cleverly written.

Underneath by Anne Goodwin gets…
3 Stars3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“You’ve got to be prepared to fight for what you believe in.” –Anne Goodwin, Underneath

Underneath by Anne Goodwin comes out May 25, 2017. Preorder the book today!

Buy the book:

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What Makes For A Good Psychological Thriller? [Guest Post]

Guests appear on my blog three times a month. If you would like to know more about this, please visit my Guest Bloggers Wanted page.

Today’s post is brought to you by Heena Rathore P. Thanks, Heena!

What Makes For A Good Psychological Thriller? [Guest Post by author Heena Rathore P.]
Image Credit: TC (talkingcomicbooks.com)

When I hear the term ‘psychological thrillers’, I feel a shiver of anticipation run down my spine. Is it just me? I don’t think so; I’m sure that almost everyone who’s read at least two good psychological thriller books (or even movies) feels the same way, especially those who love the genre.

The term itself makes me feel a rush that I just can’t describe; it means anticipation and intrigue, a lot of thrilling action, psychological twists, unimaginable turn of events, gritty situations, incomprehensible acts of self-preservation and a nice ending that’ll definitely blow the mind. At least for me, this is how I feel when I hear this term.

Being a reader and a writer of this stunning genre, I’ve spent a good many years submerged in it. And needless to say, I have read and watched my fair share of good as well as “bad” books and movies in this genre – psychological thrillers. For me, there’s no bad as such, but I guess there are a lot of books or movies that makes you feel like there was so much room for more and that they fell short somehow.

I’ve been observing all the psychological thriller stories (movies and books combined) like a hawk because that’s what writers do. And for me there are a few things that really make a good psychological thriller:

  • Killer suspense.
  • Scary as hell and super creepy antagonist.
  • At least one vulnerable character for whom I can root for.
  • Growth of that vulnerable character into someone who can fight all odds .
  • Spooky and chilly settings.
  • Crazy situations that I would hate to be in, but would be extremely curious about.
  • Mind-numbing anticipation.
  • Building frustration that keeps me on the edge.
  • One hell of a climax that’ll keep the wheels in my mind running even after I’m done with the story.

These are, of course, only a few things that make for a good psychological thriller, but if the author manages to get at least these elements right, the reader is in for a smashing story.

A few handy things that I feel help a lot in making a book a really good psychological thriller:

  • Glimpse into the mind of the killer through a distant or limited POV of the antagonist – just enough to creep out the reader, yet only a glimpse so as not to make the reader feel sympathetic towards him/her.
    You can’t feel scared of someone if you feel sorry for them. Hence, a distant POV works best.
  • Epistolary elements like letters, or diary entries, or random newspaper articles or bits of transcripts or something like that. These things instantly create a wonderful atmosphere full of suspense and intrigue.
  • Creepy and blood-chilling settings. They’ll add a lot of character and weight to the story and create an eerily horrific atmosphere that’ll accentuate the entire story.
  • Strong characters. Always. They’ll make the reader emotionally involved with the story and make everything feel personal. That is one thing a writer can’t afford to go wrong with.
  • Multiple POVs. It’s always better to know the story from different angles and POVs. It adds spark to the story and provides a deeper understanding to the reader helping them to get inside the story.
  • Suspense build-up. Suspense is what takes the story to another level and makes it extremely entertaining. If the author manages to get the balance of suspense and thrills right, then nothing can stop the story from hitting the bullseye.

These elements need a great amount of work, but if done well, they add a lot of weight to the overall build-up of the story.

At the end, the main thing is the story itself, so no matter what you do or how you do it, try to make your story shine and you’ll have a winner at hand.

About Heena Rathore

Author Heena Rathore PHeena Rathore Pardeshi is a novelist, novel critic, as well as a book reviewer. She is also the Editor In Chief at a publishing house and an acclaimed YouTube Podcaster. An award-winning writer, she has won several NaNoWriMos and JuNoWriMos since 2014. .

A fan of crime-thrillers, apocalyptic fiction and slasher movies and series, she draws inspiration from the works of legendary writers such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Sidney Sheldon. She’s also a fan of Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan.

An introvert and freethinker, Heena prefers neatness to chaos – in her fictional themes as well as in her real life. She has a special place for German Shepherds and books in her heart.

Heena is twenty-six years old and lives in Pune, India with her beloved husband, Vishal – a successful entrepreneur, in a house full of books, music, and love. Heena passionately creates vivid fictional worlds; some to read and cherish, and some to live in.

Connect with Heena:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Book:

Deceived by Heena Rathore P.How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.

A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.

A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.

And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, unwittingly to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the mist of deception bred from a long unforgiven betrayal.

Deceived by Heena Rathore P.

deceived

Title: Deceived
Author: Heena Rathore P.
Published: 
Citrus Publishers, June 2017
Genre: Psychological thriller
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

How well do you know your loved ones?

A young girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.
A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.
A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.
And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, unwittingly to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

The author’s publisher contacted me about reading an eARC of the book among other things for the release. I was excited to work directly with the publicist and when I found out the book was a thriller, I was sold. I love mystery and suspense, so I was eager to give this one a try.

rp-characters

I have to admit that I wasn’t too thrilled with a lot of the characters. Ally was a good protagonist and I was able to relate to her through her anxiety. Her father, Stephen, was a great character too. I loved seeing the dynamic between father and daughter.

Steve, Ally’s cousin, appears to help solve the murders even though he stopped talking to Ally when it all happened. They make up after so many years lost, but that’s it. I expected the two of them to get close again, have a lot of scenes of the two of them figuring out the mystery together, but there was barely any of that. After they made up, they only spoke once in a while and that was it. I almost felt as though there was no point to having them be distant in the first place.

I absolutely love Sam, Ally’s roommate, and Max, Ally’s dog. They were the most loyal, trusting, and caring about Ally and everything else. They were crafted really well, as was the killer. His crazy tendencies was very well done.

One nitpick I have about the characters are the names. Ally’s father is named Stephen and her cousin is Steve. Ally’s boyfriend is named Danny while Steve’s assistant is named Donny. I got used to it after a while, but it did get confusing at times. I kept reading “Danny” as “Donny” if I went too fast and then I found myself wondering why Danny was helping Steve. Nothing major, but I felt as though better names could have been chosen.

 

rp-plot

We follow multiple characters throughout this story, each chapter being a different POV. However, the protagonist is Ally, a young woman still grieving over the murders of her mother and younger brother. She has her roommate and best friend and her father, but she’s mainly just trying to move on with her life.

She ends up meeting a guy, Danny, and moves in with him despite her friends not being too thrilled about it. She then begins to realize that he isn’t exactly who she thought he was.

I thought this was such a clever plot and an interesting twist on the typical stalker-killer. We saw through the eyes of the killer, yet that didn’t give anything away. It leaves room for the reader to figure it all out alongside the main characters.

With that said, I did still manage to figure it out long before the killer’s identity was revealed. Things were just a bit too fishy and there weren’t any red herrings. There wasn’t much else for me to go on so it was pretty easy to figure out who the culprit was long before it was revealed. It was predictable because that was the only lead that was given to us, but the author did a great job not revealing any information.

rp-writing-style

The author has a clever way of getting her words across. I found her writing to be easy to follow along and enjoyable to read.

Alternating POVs was a good choice as well. Sometimes they can get confusing when you’re following multiple characters. Not only were we following four characters-Ally, Steve, her journalist cousin, Elizabeth, the 13-year-old who killed her parents, and the killer himself. Elizabeth was from a different timeline. However, it was all well done and written in a certain order so that you wouldn’t feel lost.

rp-overall

I found this novel to be enjoyable and edge-of-your-seat gripping. The writing style and POVs really made the novel what it is and the killer was crafted so well. The novel ended up being much darker than I thought. Somethings the killer did bothered me a bit, but I also have a weak stomach. So take that as you will.

Deceived by Heena Rathore P. gets…
4-stars4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Denial. It’s the only thing that keeps most of us from losing our sanity.” –Heena Rathore P., Deceived

In other news, I’ve challenged myself to read five books between Sunday, February 19 and Sunday, February 26. Feel free to join me and check out my daily updates on Twitter, Tumblr, and my Bookstagram!

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When We Go Missing by Kristen Twardowski

when-we-go-missing

Title: When We Go Missing
Author: Kristen Twardowski
Published:
Createspace, December 2016
Genre: Psychological thriller
How I got the book: I received a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary:

Once, Alex Gardinier was a successful physical therapist and a happy wife. Now she is trapped in a crumbling hospital room. Seven years ago Alex’s ex-husband, Nathan, was convicted of murdering five girls, and he has been rotting in prison ever since. Except the doctors say that Nathan isn’t in prison. In fact, they don’t believe that he is a criminal at all. According to them, Nathan is a devoted husband who visits her every week. But Alex can’t recall ever seeing him at the hospital, and the last time they met he was holding her hostage on a boat.

Maybe the doctors are right – maybe these memories of his crimes are her own personal delusions – but if they are wrong, then Nathan somehow escaped from prison. If they are wrong, he has trapped Alex in a psychiatric ward.

If they are wrong, he is hunting her sister.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

From the moment the author contacted me about her book, I was intrigued. The summary sounded exciting and I love a good mystery/thriller.

rp-characters

I thought all of the characters were well-written and enjoyable to read about. Alex had a good head on her shoulders and I loved the dynamic between her and her sister, Carolyn. I originally thought this book was about Alex, the protagonist, and her crazy husband, Nathan, but as the book went on, I felt as though the story was no longer about Alex. But I’ll talk about when I touch upon the writing style.

Nathan was a good antagonist to the story, but there wasn’t enough background information on him. I would love to know what makes him tick, what makes him do the things he does. I want to know how he got this way in the first place. But, the main background we get on him is how he and Alex met and came to be.

rp-plot

Nathan is a killer and Alex knows it. However, he kidnaps her and throws her into a foreign mental institution to get her out of the way making people believe he’s the victim and Alex is just crazy. I thought it was different and awesome because I started going crazy for Alex since she couldn’t understand anyone at the hospital and she didn’t belong there in the first place. It was definitely an intriguing plot for a story.

rp-writing-style

I liked how the author wrote the story. Each chapter was in the POV of someone else. Alex before finding out Nathan was crazy (the past), Alex after in the hospital (the present), Carolyn, and Alex’s nurse at the hospital.

My only problem with this was, as I said earlier, I started to feel as though the story was no longer about Alex towards the end. Her chapters became less frequent as we focused more on Carolyn and her “relationship” with Nathan. And, that’s where all the action was since Alex was stuck in the hospital, but even the ending of the story was more closure for Carolyn than it was for Alex.

rp-overall

This was an enticing thriller that made sense and was easy and fun to follow with a great cast of characters. I would read more of Kristen Twardowski’s books and recommend this to people who love a good thriller.

When We Go Missing by Kristen Twardowski gets…
4-stars4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“His bark of laughter curdled the air.” –Kristen Twardowski, When We Go Missing

Buy the book:

Amazon

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Meet Heena Rathore P., Author

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Heena Rathore P. to my blog.

Author Heena Rathore P.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thank you, Rachel, for having me on your blog.

I’m an introvert who likes to stay at home 99.9% of the times. I’m a movie buff and watch at least 2 latest releases every week in theatre and the old ones at home in the rest of the week. Being a book reviewer I get to read a lot and over all I read around a 100 books every year (or have done so from that last 3 years) – sometimes more, sometimes less.

My writing style is simple; I believe in writing stories that can be read and understood, and hence, be enjoyed by everyone (and not just literary geniuses.) My writing is a bit on the darker side and that is something that I have no reason for as it comes naturally to me. It’s probably the influence of the kind of books and movies I prefer.

How long have you been writing for?

I started writing in early 2014, so I’ve been writing full time for almost 3 years now.

What is your writing process like?

My writing process is quite simple. I generally keep a fixed timing for writing. In the mornings (either early or between 9-12am) but that’s not the case everyday. Sometimes the inspiration hits in the evening or sometimes in the middle of the dead of the night. So I write whenever I feel like it.

All I need to get going is a scented candle (mild one) and absolute quite. I can then write for hours.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what’s a typical day like for you?

As I said I have a fixed schedule for writing, but that keeps on changing while working on different aspects of the book and also on my mood. But for most of the time this is the schedule I try and stick to – I’m a morning person, so I get up around 6 and make it a point to complete my exercise, yoga, Gratitude practice, and breakfast by 9:00 am. Then I sit for writing on my dining table (I have 2 dedicated study rooms, but the only place my creative mind likes is the dining table.)

I write continuously for 2-4 hours, meditating in between for 5 minutes every 45 minutes. Some days are good, but some days are a struggle, so I make it a point to complete at least 1500 words before getting up from the table. I follow this routine strictly for at least 5 days a week.

Then I read in the afternoons and if I feel like it again, I write for another hour or two in the evening or night again (this happens at least 3-4 days a week.)

Sometimes, if I skip the morning session, I do it in the evenings. Saturdays are mostly dedicated to other things so I write only for an hour on Saturdays. And Sundays are completely dedicated to spending quality time with my husband, so I never write on Sundays, except while participating in WriMos or meeting deadlines.

What motivates you to write?

I am a disciplinarian. The voice inside my head is more than enough to get me through anything, even writing. But on off days, I read stuff about by favorite writers and authors and that seem to work like a charm.

What was the first thing you did when you found out your book was being published?

I cried, a lot! And then I celebrated with a bottle of red wine with my husband.

Are you currently working on anything new?

Yes, I’m presently working on my second novel, Sinister Town. It is a crime thriller with elements of horror and is based on the concept of ritual and cult killings.

If you weren’t a writer, what would your career be?

I guess, Librarian, but I’m quite sure my family wouldn’t have let that happen. So I’ll say that if I would have not left my engineering college for finding the right path for me then I’d still be an Electronics and Telecommunication Engineer.

What is the easiest part of writing for you? What is the hardest part?

Easiest part is writing itself and the revising. And the hardest part is the taxing amount of research that goes into a project. Sometimes the research is fun, but after a while researching about haunted stuff and psychopath and serial killers starts to get overwhelming.

What’s one thing you learned through writing that you wish you knew before you started?

Nothing. 

What is your favorite book or genre? Is there a special book that made you realize you wanted to write?

I love psychological thrillers and dark fantasy genre. I also enjoy apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stuff. So in general, I like dark genre. I wanted to be a writer since childhood, so there’s no single book that made me realize it as such. I guess it was the effect of the sum of all the books I’ve read in my life so far.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

My advice is always the same: Write only if you have a story inside you. Write if you have a passion for sharing that story with the world, and write only if you actually have the guts to sit down and write.
A lot of people don’t realize it, but writing needs a certain level of self-discipline. And if you think writing can be done without any discipline, then you might be able to write for a while, but you’ll never be able to do it consistently for long.

About Heena Rathore P.:

Heena Rathore Pardeshi is a novelist, novel critic, as well as a book reviewer. She is also an ace social media strategist and an acclaimed YouTube Podcaster. An award-winning writer, she has won several NaNoWriMos and JuNoWriMos since 2014.

Heena also manages her own book club, RMFAO on Goodreads.com.

A fan of crime-thrillers, apocalyptic fiction and slasher movies and series, she draws inspiration from the works of legendary writers such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Sidney Sheldon.

An introvert and free-thinker, Heena prefers neatness over chaos – in her fictional themes as well as in her real life. She has a special place for German Shepherds and books in her heart.

Heena is twenty-five years old and lives in Pune, India with her beloved husband, Vishal – a successful entrepreneur, in a house full of books, music, and love. Heena passionately creates vivid fictional worlds; some to read and cherish, and some to live in.

Connect with Heena Rathore P.:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | Goodreads | YouTube

Heena Rathore P.’s Book:

Deceived by Heena Rathore P.

How well do you know your loved ones?

A girl struggling to cope with the murders of her mother and five-year-old brother.

A journalist chasing the ghost of a potential serial killer.

A thirteen-year-old girl who slaughtered her parents.

And a revenge-driven psychopath who is about to destroy everyone’s life.

After 9 years, a young writer is still coping with the brutal murders of her mother and five-year-old brother, as she moves into a house of horrors, unwittingly to start a new life with her lover. Will friends and family be able to redeem Ally out of the impending doom in time? Will her infallible love become the key to the destruction of her already fragile world? Will madness prevail over love; true love over revenge?

Deceived is a gripping psychological thriller that mazes through the deepest, darkest emotions of human mind through the story of a vulnerable girl who treads in the mist of deception bred from a long unforgiven betrayal.

Deceived will be available in 2017.