#FraterfestRAT Book Review | “Forget My Name” by J.S. Monroe [A Thriller #JorieReads with trepidation and discovers a #newtomeauthor who gave her a wicked puzzle to solve!]

Posted Saturday, 12 October, 2019 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I was invited to join the Head of Zeus blog tour for the Contemporary Thriller novel “Forget My Name” – except to say, there was a bit of a miscommunication. When the book arrived by postal mail, I was taken completely by surprise – which is why I shared this tweet s/o at the time of arrival. It was a few days lateron where I realised I was on the bonefide blog tour and my review was meant to post the final week of July.

Unfortunate timing on my end – I was quite ill the first three weeks of July whilst as I was starting to recover we had an epic flood nightmare which was due to a plumbing fiasco. Something I spoke about on Twitter and on several top anchors of my blog for different reviews. I was thoroughly spent and my energies to read were dismal. August brought more health afflictions and other stresses including a repeat of plumbing issues – to where, it wasn’t til the final weeks of the month where I could re-direct myself back into a few blog tours I had missed in late July. This was one of the ones I had to push forward in order to give it my proper attention.

I received a complimentary copy of “Forget My Name” direct from the publisher Head of Zeus in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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How I came to be reading “Forget My Name”:

Contemporary Thrillers are ones I love to find new voices in fiction as it is a niche of literature I am most curious about reading. Even if this particular niche of Lit has the tendency to push me outside my zones of comfort as a reader!

When Forget My Name first arrived by postal mail – it came with a curious little postcard and keychain – I love finding what is included with a novel, as authors or publishers sometimes include little surprises with the novels they send. Not everytime, but wickedly enough, whenever I find something other than the book included I get a giggle of joy because I love the inventiveness of some of the surprises! I, cannot have enough bookmarks – I even use the posties (ie. postcards) as markers as I’m reading inasmuch as the business cards! The keychain was an original find – I hadn’t had a custom mini-keychain featuring the cover of a novel previously!

I couldn’t get over the the surprise #bookmail – as at the time, I hadn’t received word I was receiving the book, only that I had requested to be on the blog tour. Therefore, it was a lovely day of expectations – I couldn’t wait to begin reading the novel but at the same time, I felt – did I push the envelope a bit too much for myself as a reader? I mean, this is a seriously psychological suspenseful Contemporary Thriller! I tend to err on caution (usually!) and not select too jarring of a read when it comes to my readings in Suspense & Thrillers; hence why you see my reading more Historical selections than Contemporary! I occupy that Historical niche of the genre quite well – yet whenever it comes to the contemporary and modern side of it? I tend to shirk past those shelves because for whichever reason they are a bit more intense, at times grittier and overall, I get the feeling I may or may not be able to handle what is coming down the pike in the story-line once you get past the opening bridge!

Ergo, my dilemma was how to begin reading Forget My Name – I dove straight into it – devouring the pages faster than I could attach notations about what I was reading. It was a pure read – til I pulled myself away and realised this was going to be one heck of a thrilling ride to read! I reached that section of when she first arrives at the house, is already inside and they’re trying to do a mad dash response to sort out whom this stranger is and what to do with her now that she’s arrived. Or, is that how Monroe wanted us to peer into those initial moments of when all the players come into contact (or return to each other)?

Thrillers are tricky. Perspective is everything. If your not looking at it the right way, you’ll going to find yourself seeing it through altered eyes and therefore altering how the story is meant to be interpreted. The key is to hold on tight and let the story unfold one trepiderious page turn after another!

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#FraterfestRAT Book Review | “Forget My Name” by J.S. Monroe [A Thriller #JorieReads with trepidation and discovers a #newtomeauthor who gave her a wicked puzzle to solve!]Forget My Name
by J.S. Monroe
Source: Direct from Publisher

She is outside your front door.

She got on the train after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, her mind went blank. She couldn't even remember her name.

She says she lives in your house.

Now she's outside Tony and Laura's front door. She is certain she lives in their home.

But they have never met her before.

Would you let her in?

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Crime Fiction, Thriller

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781786698063

Published by Head of Zeus

on 19th June, 2019

Format: UK Edition Paperback

Pages: 496

 Published By:  Published By: Head of Zeus (@HoZ_Books)

Converse via: #ForgetMyName, #Contemporary #Thriller
Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Audiobook & Ebook

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About J.S. Monroe

J.S. Monroe Photo Credit: Hilary Stock

J.S. Monroe read English at Cambridge, worked as a foreign correspondent in Delhi, and was Weekend editor of the Daily Telegraph in London before becoming a full time writer. Monroe is the author of eight novels, including the international bestsellers, Find Me and Forget My Name, both published by Head of Zeus. He also writes under the name Jon Stock.

Photo Credit: Hilary Stock

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My Review of forget my name:

It is hard to imagine what you would do if you suddenly found yourself erased from your identity – where everything you saw, touched, and knew was not as it once were before; to the brink, of being lost in a time-locked stasis of uncertainty. Everyone round you is moving in sync with their own lives, their own realities and yet, you’ve taken a left turn somewhere without notice. This is how Forget My Name begins – on the presumption that an ordinary woman can embark on a journey which begins with a train ticket stuck in her pocket to points unremembered but logically believed to be the place in which she resides.

Part of the opening of this novel reminded me of why I initially was smitten by the premise of Blindspot the tv series? Similar concept (in a way) of how a woman without a (perceivable) memory suddenly is dropped into a life she didn’t ask to live (or so it is believed). The tricky bit here is the same for the series – how to merge the unthinkable with the known bits of the story? When does the perspective alter for us as readers inasmuch as it had for us as watchers of the series? I was on edge awaiting the book to flip the scrip so to speak and re-align a perceptional analysis of the story from a completely different pair of lens than what was being disclosed!

There are small flashes of memory – of Fleur (curiously not a definitive awareness of whom she is but rather a memory of ‘her’) ahead of her collapse. I felt it was not just the mental exhaustion of sorting through a missing gap of memory and identity but the curious way in which what felt like memory was turning into an absence of truth. She found the house, she walked straight to its door and yet, on arrival it was found to be occupied by other people who claim she is unknown as much as she is of them? Their reaction was quite typical – ring the local doctor, trying to get the person sorted and removed from their house quick as possible and yet, I kept thinking to myself, what if this wasn’t being played out as it was being viewed on the surface of it all? Where was the missing layer of insight here – how did these people really know each other and what was the point in having this woman feel like her mind was severely lost without a rudder?

As Laura and Tony come to grips of having this woman in their house – she, in turn, is trying to avoid contemplating why she knows the exact layout of the rooms and the outside space as well. She even finds her way to the bathroom without assistance and that seemed more troubling than she first arrived because who studies the layout of a house they never visit or dwell inside? The questions linger as you read but the intrigue of it percolates underneath the questions, sparking a curiosity of intent to learn the truth as you turn the pages forward. You can’t help but find out more – each page revealling a bit more and giving you more fodder to chew on.

Their encouraged to convince this woman to begin the slow process of recovery – to do ordinary things in case they lead to revelations; about her, about the situation and perhaps even the cause of what triggered the memory loss. For their own sake, Tony and Laura are a curious sort – he’s convinced he’ll get Alzheimer’s as it runs in his family, making him a curator of photographs which he uses to organise his memories like a film reel. Each new photograph is a portal in time, allowing him to not just recollect the time the photo was taken but everything interconnected to it. His wife, Laura has an empathetic soul which is why she reaches out to this unknown woman – trying to assure her things will work out, that all is not yet lost; only misplaced.

It was the unexpected ways in which fractures of truth are starting to reveal themselves that no one is prepared for – not the woman Tony insists on calling Jemma and not Laura, whose frazzled nerves and high levels of anxieties cannot take the possibilities of whom Jemma could honestly be as that truth would crush her soul. Counter to their experiences with this stranger, is the local neighbour Luke who insists he knows her but he calls her by a different name entirely. No one is certain of anything and the unique bit here is that Monroe has given everyone in the plot a reason to forget, a memory not quite as photographically inclined as they’d each prefer and a reasonable bout of doubt to ensure that no one truly knows what is true and what is hearsay.

For her own sanity, Jemma is attempting to right her memory back to a place of recognition; attempting not only to process all the new stimuli in her life but to place things in context. She even took up the idea of Tony’s to begin to journal her experiences; if only to prove whether or not she’d know them after time has passed forward. The interesting bit is that her diagnosis isn’t acute or exact; its plausible due to how she presents herself but it has an absence of what caused the amnesia. Whilst at the same time, in those moments Monroe takes time to insert more sinister overtures into the background of the story – where things are not necessarily as benign as they appear or are they? There is a counter-balancing happening here – where you first believe one route of thought until you see it switched and exchanged for a different cogitation that could lie towards a darker conclusion. In essence, the novel is a chessboard – each move by each of the characters is one step closer to either checkmate or a stalemate.

There is such a cloud of uncertainty hanging over everyone – even the people Laura and Tony confide in about Jemma are at odds to understand what is true and what is fantasy. There are curiosities not to ignore about how Jemma could take-on the back-histories of other persons who do not have innocuous reasons for being in this village. Yet, how would they sort out the truth when there are so many unknowns about her origins? That’s what kept noodling away in my own mind – how to sort truth from fantasy and put the pieces to rights to where everyone could understand what had happened.

Secondary to how Jemma is intersecting with Tony and Laura is the compelling reason why Luke feels attached to her (supposed) homecoming. It is his interest in her and the reasons why he is attempting to source a back-thread of information about her which earnestly kept my interest piqued because it was such a humbled response. He truly only had good intentions inspired by a natural curiosity to sort through his own past for answers he never had the chance to chase down until now. Luke’s version of why she could be here is a calmer truth than the one others are attempting to prove – yet, part of me felt this couldn’t be as easy as Luke hopes it to be – something kept me thinking there is much more to it than that. I just hoped he wouldn’t have his heart broken if he was wrong.

I had a sense that part of this story is anchoured to Tony; after all he’s the bloke whose so keenly invested in the issues of memory (given what befell his father) whilst he has his own curiously daily project of photographing whatever he can to have a record of his hours. He’s also stuffed his attic with boxes – the kind of boxes most would consider a pack rat’s lair but for Jemma – its a more telling story about his internal world. The place where she rooted out his mind and saw a different side of him. It was there, in the attic where I wanted her to see the great cautionary warning of all – she’s gone and had herself locked in a place where Tony controls everything she can and cannot do. For someone whose original intentions was to help you gain your memory back for the humble reason of being a good Samaritan, why then would it lead to this darker route of intrigue? That’s what worried me and I had a feeling Forget My Name still had quite a few more darker corners to twist into my path past this sequence!

Some of my instincts in reading this story and of peeling back the layers Monroe has left for me to find have been uniquely in sync with his plot! Except – the twist he put into the character I’ve been reading about is one I hadn’t quite seen coming but suspected might happen? If that make sense? There is an incredibly layered scene in a park – where you see the scene from different points of perspective – through different characters advantages and disadvantages (due to distance and sight) – all whilst you’re attempting to see past what isn’t been said nor seen. It is there you start to see Monroe’s vision and uncover what he wants you to truly ‘see’ inside the story he’s written.

Blessedly, so far, I am handling all the shocking surprises quite well – I credit this to Monroe’s style. I was a bit afeared he was going to write this like a True Crime or Hard-Boiled Mystery novel – where the gritty bits would be too hard to handle and wherein I might find myself waking up into a chapter where I’d have to DNF the rest of Forget My Name. This hasn’t happened because rather than focusing on how to stress out his readers on the graphic side of where most Thrillers take you visually – he’s gone the other route: this is one heck of a psychological thriller! So much so, the pages can’t be consumed fast enough to sort through the puzzle of what really is going on in this woman’s life! He truly won me over in that moment – where I realised there was more left to be read and that I could honestly handle the ending. I came this far, arrived inside Chapter 64 and I dearly wasn’t going to put the book down again til I read the very last chapter and the very last sentence!

Part of this story deals with a bit of knowledge involving Neurological Science and Cognitive Science – not on an expert level but at least in a passing layperson’s understanding how the brain can become altered through dissociative conditions and how degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s attacks the brain. Monroe goes through the gambit of memory loss throughout the novel which I felt was one of the more compelling aspects of the story; he even includes a small portion on the concept behind a fugue state and the different levels and conditions to amnesia. These are all critical in understanding the hidden layers within the context of the mystery which is permeating throughout the climax – as at the heart of this novel is a guttingly shocking mystery about one character’s obsessive compulsive attraction to dissecting the functionalities of the brain.

As we shift through the fast pacing alighting through the compelling interest of one DI detective (Silas) to hunt down and trace out the truth behind the events which on the surface seem to fit the evidence, we find that sometimes detectives have better instincts than what can physically be seen as the route towards truth. Meaning, because Silas had personal history in his own family involving conditional circumstances inter-related to the case he was working, his inside knowledge gave him an upper edge towards piercing this case together and blowing it wide open in regards to what was truly motivating the key players towards the conclusion.

I even liked how there was a key ‘bait and switch’ moment inclusive to the forward timeline – Monroe excels at giving you a directional trajectory to follow in his footsteps as he’s guiding you into the darker recesses of his story but it is how you choose which step to take after those breadcrumbs which will determine what you understand in the end. Meaning, for each instinct you have to solve this Thriller, don’t be surprised if Mr Monroe leaves you a few secondary routes! For me, this was keen as I don’t always like predictable endings – they give you a sense of loss for feeling short-changed. Monroe on the other hand keeps the tension percolating threading this Thriller to different levels of proportional terror and in the end, leaves you questioning how he even devised the story!

on the contemporary thrilling styling of j.s. monroe:

Mr Monroe has a unique style of how he begins to taunt you a bit with the suspenseful arc of his novel whilst he gives you just enough to chew on to re-contemplate everything you’ve just read! He pulls you through the narrative as if you only have the information the characters have themselves – meaning, the reader is blind to both the truth of the situation and the set of circumstances that led-in to this story. He even switches it up a bit by having you re-think what you think about when it comes to the foundations of the Psychological Suspense genre itself – for a girl who cut her teeth on Hitchcock and classical horror films which were the founding origins of this genre in motion pictures, I must credit Monroe with a seemingly benign yet altogether sinister approach which leaves you rooted in the pages of his novel!

Even when you realise you are more confused than ever about what actually is going on – Monroe has this way of giving you a wicked good read where you feel motivated to turn the pages! Such as the moment when Tony’s wife Laura has felt she can’t deal with the situation anymore involving the mysterious stranger, she takes off for an unexpected holiday; to be with her parents and take some downtime. Meanwhile, Tony doesn’t waste time to re-enter into Jemma’s life – to insist she is re-invited to stay with him and almost pretend as nothing was kicked up between them. And, that is the moment where I questioned everything all over again! Why was he so insistent? What changed his mind and how does this all lead back into the lost identity of Jemma? As you can see Monroe wants you to think about this plot… but are you ready for when he starts to twist it to where you might not wish to turn the next page? Ah, but that is the question isn’t it! How far can you read before you instinctively are unsure if you want to know the conclusion?

Mr Monroe keeps you on the edge of the book – you want to read this in one sitting but if you find yourself unable to do that like I had myself – take your time with the story. You’ll appreciate it more because this is one riddler of a puzzle to sort through! It has different sides of a mirror if you think about it – how the image in the mirror is reflected depends greatly on your point of view and the perspective of the clues, facts and events which lead you to see what you perceive but is that the way in which Monroe wants you to see it? That’s the question truly.

Sorting out Monroe’s layered psychological Thriller is what keeps you turning the pages and questioning the maddening plot straight through to the very last chapter where you’ll run out of questions and be left with a #SpookyReads kind of a Thriller resting on your shelf. It is only then where you can replay the novel back round – re-seeing what you missed the first go-round and understanding Monroe’s style as you re-think everything over again!

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This book review is courtesy of:

head of Zeus

I am everso thankful I received this novel!

It was a firm step outside my comfort zone & curiously #unputdownable from page one!

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Be sure to visit the Twitter feeds for Head of Zeus

to find the rest of the bloggers taking part on this lovely blog tour!

Whilst reading this novel I listened to Evanescence Radio via Pandora – as I found the selections of the station befit a proper Contemporary Psychological Suspenseful Thriller!

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this novel counted towards some of my 2019 reading challenges:

2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission.

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Whilst read in conjunction with this readathon:

#FraterFestRAT banner created by Jorie via Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Marko Blažević

Read my TBR List for #FraterfestRAT 2019!

Follow my #FraterfestRAT Updates via @joriestory [Twitter]

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{SOURCES: Book covers for “Forget My Name”, book synopsis, author photograph of J.S. Monroe, author biography and the blog tour banners were all provided by Head of Zeus and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. 2019 New Release Challenge created by mylimabeandesigns.com for unconventionalbookworms.com and is used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva:  Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna; #FraterfestRAT banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 12 October, 2019 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Contemporary Thriller, Content Note, Crime Fiction, England, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Modern Day, Publishers & Presses (Direct Reviews), Realistic Fiction, Vulgarity in Literature

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