Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land #Review @ByAliLand @Flatironbooks

Good Mr Bad Me cover

If your mother was a serial killer, what would you do? For fifteen-year-old Milly, the choice is clear: turn her in before she kills again. With her mother safely behind bars awaiting trial, Milly has a chance for a new life. But things are hard and Milly often wonders if she is good… or will she be bad, like her mother?

GOOD ME BAD ME is a chilling psychological thriller, guaranteed to leave you wide-eyed and shivering. The story shattered any vague expectations I had about how the story would progress, and gave me something so much better than anything I could have imagined.

Milly is one of the most complex characters I’ve read recently. It’s tough enough being a teenager, but to have a serial killer for a mom, too? How does a kid even begin to know how she should feel and act around others after living with a killer? Confusion and anxiety are Milly’s constant companions, and the sense of dread she feels about testifying against her mother was echoed by my own. What would come out during the trial, if anything, that wasn’t already known? The suspense had me on the edge of my seat as those final days before the trial counted down. I won’t spoil what happens in the courtroom, but there were some seriously tense moments during Milly’s testimony.

As for the ending… holy smokes! I never saw it coming, and and it was even more explosive due to the shock of it. Brilliant… just brilliant!

It’s hard to believe this is Ali Land’s first novel. (How can that be?!) This most impressive debut showcases her obvious talent for the written word, and it’s a story I doubt I will ever be able to forget. What was particularly striking to me (aside from having written such an amazing book) was the way she chose to write Milly’s inner thoughts during times of stress. It made me think of Stephen King… the way his writing style often breaks all the ‘rules’, and yet it’s wonderfully effective in telling the story.

This is a must read for fans of psychological thrillers. Once you’ve read it, I have a feeling that—like me—you’ll be impatiently waiting for Land’s next novel!

I received an advance reading copy of this book courtesy of Flatiron Books.

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Author: Ali Land

Title: Good Me Bad Me

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Published: September 5th, 2017 by Flatiron Books

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About the Book

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.


About the Author

Author Ali Land
Author Ali Land

After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali Land spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Nurse in both hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia. Ali is now a full-time writer and lives in West London.

Follow Ali on Twitter: @byAliLand

Author photo and bio via Goodreads.

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#BlogTour House of Spines by Michael J. Malone @michaelJmalone1 @OrendaBooks

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Today is my stop on the HOUSE OF SPINES blog tour, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to share my thoughts about this outstanding book.

Ranald McGhie is a financially-challenged writer who comes into an unexpected windfall when he inherits his Great-Uncle Alexander’s home—Newton Hall—and everything in it, including a vast library of books. Divorced and doing his best to cope with mental health issues that coincided with the death of his parents, Ranald is both overwhelmed and grateful for the chance to make a fresh start in his new home. But the moment he arrives, he gets a strange vibe from the house, particularly when he’s near the locked door of the lift. His dreams are filled with images of a mysterious woman who calls to him from within the mirror in the lift—a mirror he can’t see within the lift itself—but he knows it there, just as he knows she is there… waiting for him.

I love the spine-tingling chills caused by a creepy Gothic novel, and Malone provides them throughout with his masterful prose. I felt as uneasy as Ranald as he slowly explores different parts of the house, particularly the older areas with its old-fashioned furnishing that look frozen in time. As much as I wanted him to hurry up and investigate more rooms, it brought a delicious shudder to think about the secrets these rooms might hold and I was reluctant to end my speculations.

Ranald’s mental illness makes him an unreliable narrator at times, though I didn’t realize this right away. When I did, it made me wonder how much of what Ranald perceived as true events actually happened… and if they did, whether or not things happened as he thought that did. I loved the uncertainty this created within the story, and was keen to find clues that might indicate the reality (or not) of the given situation. Ranald isn’t the only unreliable character in the story, either… and that’s all I’ll say about that.

Glimpses of the past provide insight into what happened with Ranald’s parents, and in time, we learn about Alexander’s motivation in leaving Newton Hall to him.  We also get to learn more about previous occupants of the house—which include Ranald’s mother and grandmother, among others—adding new layers to the mystery surrounding Newton Hall.

Other characters include the married housekeeper and gardener, Ranald’s cousins, his ex-wife and (slightly psychic) former neighbor, and select people from the nearby village. The crisp characterizations of each one was fantastic, and made an already great book that much better. I either loved them, or felt suspicious of them instantly, depending on which character it was—and I was fooled into complacency by more than one of them, thinking I had them all figured out. Nope! Not even close, regarding certain ones.

There aren’t enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe how much I loved the ending. It was absolutely NOT what I was expecting to happen at all! What a way to wrap up a book! It was pure perfection.

To put it simply, Michael J. Malone has found a brand new fan in me. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next, because HOUSE OF SPINES was an amazing read. If you haven’t read it yet, trust me when I say you should. You won’t be sorry!

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Orenda Books.

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Author: Michael J. Malone

Title: House of Spines

Genre: Gothic, Psychological Thriller

Published: August 16th, 2017 by Orenda Books

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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About the Book

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman …

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…


About the Author

Michael Malone Photo
Author Michael J. Malone

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Liar by K.L. Slater #Review @KimLSlater @bookouture

Liar cover

Since the death of his wife, Ben has relied on help given by his mother, Judi, who cleans his home and cares for her grandsons regularly. All that changes when Ben meets Amber, however. Judi goes from being a constant presence in their lives to someone they occasionally spend time with—and she knows it’s all because of Amber. But why is she doing it, and what can Judi do about it?

Wow, what a book! LIAR kicks off with a bloody bang—someone covered in blood, dead on the floor, and someone else standing over them with a knife… feeling nothing. The end is literally the beginning. It’s not until the (actual) end of the book that we find out who’s who, and what brought on the murder, because the next chapter starts at the beginning of the story.

Amber and Judi are both unlikable characters to some degree, but that isn’t strictly due to their interactions with one another, in Judi’s case. I was annoyed with her sometimes for being a bit too clingy with her son and grandsons, or for being upset at the way things changed in her son’s home after Amber came along—such as the new furniture. It absolutely made sense that Judi would feel that way about it, given the way she was, but it still got on my nerves. (Or maybe I felt that way because Judi had already annoyed me in other ways? Hmm. Probably.) That’s not to say that I didn’t feel sympathetic towards Judi. I did quite often because—whether she was a clingy mother or not—not being allowed to spend time with your loved ones is a hurtful thing, indeed.

Amber struck me as a manipulative woman with an agenda immediately, and I instantly decided there couldn’t possibly be any redeeming factors about her whatsoever. As I slowly learned more about her, however, I had a feeling there was more to Amber than meets the eye.

A lot happens throughout this story, but the last quarter of the book… holy crap! The twists kept on coming, and just when I thought nothing else could happen that would shock me, it did. I was completely blindsided and blown away by a certain event, and scared away at least one life for each of my cats when I yelled “WHAT?!” at the top of my lungs. I had to go back and reread that portion again, because I couldn’t believe what happened. I never saw it coming, and I loved it!

If you’re ready for an insanely addicting psychological thriller that will knock you off your feet, you need look no further than LIAR by K.L. Slater. This fantastic book hooks you from the start and never lets go. Highly recommended!

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Bookouture via Netgalley.

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Author: K.L. Slater

Title: Liar

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Published: June 16th, 2017 by Bookouture

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About the Book

How far would you go to protect your family?

Single dad Ben is doing his best to raise his children alone, with the help of his devoted mother Judi. Life isn’t easy, but Judi’s family means everything to her and together, they manage.

Then Ben meets Amber. Everyone thinks this is a perfect match for Ben but Judi isn’t sure … there’s just something about Amber that doesn’t add up.

Ben can’t see why his mother dislikes his new girlfriend. And Amber doesn’t want Judi anywhere near her new family. Amber just wants Ben and the children.

The further Judi delves into Amber’s personal life, the closer she gets to shocking secrets that could change everything. And Judi must make a decision that could lead to the most disastrous consequences.


About the Author

kl_slater
Author K.L. Slater

For many years, Kim sent her work out to literary agents but never made it off the slush pile. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating, she received five offers of representation from London literary agents which was, as Kim says, ‘a fairytale … at the end of a very long road!’

Kim is a full-time writer and lives in Nottingham with her husband, Mac.

Author photo and bio via Bookouture.

The Blind by A.F. Brady #Review @AFBradyNYC @parkrowbooks

The Blind cover

Samantha James is a psychologist at Typhlos, a Manhattan mental institution. Even though she appears to have a great life—both professionally and personally—the shameful truth is that Samantha—or Sam, as she prefers to be called—is a mess in more ways than one. She’s an alcoholic with an abusive boyfriend she refuses she leave because she’s convinced she can help him. That’s what Sam does—she tries to save everyone—and she does have the highest success rate with the toughest patients at Typhlos—but she can’t seem to save herself from the wreck her life has become. She manages to hide it at work, until she takes over the care of a patient named Richard, a man no one else can help because he refuses to speak about why he’s there, or even assist with getting the necessary paperwork filled out. Sam is determined to get him talking and find out why he is there… even as the facade of her ‘perfect’ life begins to unravel.

Brady’s debut introduces us to a woman on the brink of disaster thanks to her (unacknowledged) demons stemming from childhood abuse. Sam is beautifully flawed in so many ways, and tries so hard to keep it together that it almost breaks your heart. In Richard, we are given an enigmatic character whose reticence constantly exasperated Sam and hindered her efforts to help him. Over time, it became clear that he had a hidden agenda behind his admission to Typhlos, and it kept me reading for longer stretches than I may have otherwise, in hopes of discovering what that agenda might be.

The story is well-written and kept me engaged, but I have to admit the ending left me feeling a bit frustrated. The story reached a climactic point before the final chapter, but there was no delving into [the thing that happened] and ending the story on a satisfying note. The short chapter that ended the story felt more like an epilogue, the inferred promise of a reveal fizzling out in favor of a quick wrap-up. It’s not that the ending doesn’t work at all—it does—and to be honest, I already knew what was coming regarding that reveal. Still… it was a disappointing ending for me. That may not be the case for other readers, but that’s how I felt.

Despite the lackluster ending, I enjoyed reading this story. I think Brady shows a lot of promise as a writer, all the more so because of her background as a psychologist, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of her work in the future!

I received an advance review copy of this book courtesy of Park Row Books via Edelweiss.

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Author: A.F. Brady

Title: The Blind

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publication Date: October 1st, 2017 by Park Row Books

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


About the Book

With the intensity and rawness of Girl, Interrupted and Luckiest Girl Alive comes this razor-sharp debut, which reveals how one woman can go so far off the deep end, she might never make it back up 

Sam James has spent years carefully crafting her reputation as the best psychologist at Typhlos, Manhattan’s most challenging psychiatric institution. She boasts the highest success rates with the most disturbed patients, believing if she can’t save herself, she’ll save someone else. It’s this savior complex that serves her well in helping patients battle their inner demons, though it leads Sam down some dark paths and opens her eyes to her own mental turmoil. 

When Richard, a mysterious patient no other therapist wants to treat, is admitted to Typhlos, Sam is determined to unlock his secrets and his psyche. What she can’t figure out is why does Richard appear to be so completely normal in a hospital filled with madness? And what, really, is he doing at the institution? As Sam gets pulled into Richard’s twisted past, she can’t help but analyze her own life, and what she discovers terrifies her. And so the mind games begin. But who is the savior and who is the saved? 

In this unexpected and addictive psychological debut, A.F. Brady takes readers into the psyche of a deeply disturbed woman desperately trying to keep her head above water, showing that sometimes what’s most terrifying is what exists in your mind.


About the Author

Author A.F. Brady
Author A.F. Brady

A.F. Brady is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor/Psychotherapist.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brown University and two Masters degrees in Psychological Counseling from Columbia University. She is a life-long New Yorker, and resides in Manhattan with her husband and their family. The Blind is her first novel.