Thursday, 27 October 2016

BLOG TOUR and review - Inside the Whispers - AJ Waines - Fiendishly twisted

BLOG TOUR - Inside the whispers - A J Waines.

Plus my review
and ....
an exclusive excerpt to tempt you

My Review

I’m very excited to be taking part in the blog tour to help bring Inside The Whispers to readers attention.

I adored her previous thriller No Longer Safe and you can read my review of that here.

Inside the whispers is the exciting and tense new novel by AJ Waines and is also the harbinger of a brand new series by this author which I am now immensely looking forward to - featuring clinical psychologist Samantha Willerby.

Ms Waines is ideally placed to write authoritatively on this subject, as a qualified psychotherapist herself and her expertise glows through the pages.

In her first novel in the new series we meet Samantha as she tries to settle in to her new role, working in a hospital helping survivors of disasters suffering post-traumatic stress. When several patients come to see her, all suffering greatly with memories of being involved in a recent tube train fire, it’s hardly surprising that their traumas and memories are all very similar. Until Samantha undertakes her own investigation and discovers that their memories don’t match up with what really happened, and then the suicides begin – and to her horror the people deliberately taking their own lives are the very same people she has been treating.

Sam really struggles to come to terms with this, feeling she should have been able to do something to help them. Her own life isn’t too straightforward and I really grew to know and like Sam making me want to read more about her. She has recently been reunited with her difficult sister Mimi, now calling herself Miranda, who has her own demons to fight. Sam is in a fledgling relationship with the sexy but possessive Con and as we get to know her and her colleagues at the hospital including the enigmatic Leo, it became no clearer to me who she could trust than she finds it herself.

Switching off when she leaves work soon becomes impossible when it begins to infiltrate her own life and affect those around her. She needs to find out why and how people are suffering at the hands of memories of an event which seems not to have happened as it is recollected and before someone else dies.

We are treated to a series of flashbacks of someone seemingly contemplating suicide but it’s not clear who these memories belong to and alongside the main events Sam’s own background is unravelled piece by piece as she and her sister come to terms with their own turbulent pasts which also reveal themselves to be not quite how she remembered things.

This is a book about memories and the after effects of being a witness to trauma. It’s about family and friendship and self-doubt. Oh and did I mention …. It is FIENDISHLY twisted and complex and very clever.  The Authors innate skill with words and ability to use her knowledge of the human mind in all its guises lifts this book from the everyday to the exceptional.

The author tackles some dark and disturbing subjects extremely well including mental health, child abuse and toxic relationships and one big reveal, part way through the book had me literally reeling with shock and in floods of tears – you have been warned, tissues and compassion needed.

We will meet Sam again in book 2 in this series Lost in The Lake.

Author Bio

AJ Waines has sold over ¼ of a million books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. She was a Psychotherapist for fifteen years, during which time she worked with ex-offenders from high-security institutions, gaining a rare insight into criminal and abnormal psychology. AJ Waines is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany (Random House) and USA (audiobooks).

AJ Waines lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. Visit her website and blog, or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.  

What the publisher says

Where the most Dangerous place – is inside your own head…

Following a London Tube disaster, three traumatised survivors turn to clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby, for help – but she’s mystified when their stories don’t add up. Her confusion turns to horror when one by one, instead of recovering, they start committing suicide.

When her partner, Conrad, begins to suffer the same terrifying flashbacks, Sam is desperate to find out what is causing them and a mysterious and chilling crime begins to unravel.

Then the flashbacks begin for Sam…

The first book in the Dr Samantha Willerby Series, INSIDE THE WHISPERS is a tense, haunting Psychological Thriller that will leave your nerves in shreds.

And if all this isn't enough to whet your appetite thoroughly here's an excerpt from Inside the whispers, just for you:

An Extract from Inside the Whispers by AJ Waines - Enjoy ....

I’m ashamed to admit I was running on autopilot for my first patients. I was keen not to miss Jake. At 11.40, I phoned the unit and found out he’d arrived and was still in the consultation room.
Shortly afterwards, I sauntered past the waiting area and spotted him nodding to the receptionist, accepting a small card for his next check-up. He saw me and gave a weak smile. I asked if we could have a private word in my office. I offered him a seat in front of my desk and he sat on his hands looking like a schoolboy hauled up for smoking behind the bike sheds.
‘I know we have another session soon, but I just wanted to check a few details about the fire. I don’t want to ask you anything that might be upsetting, but are you okay to run through a few simple points?’
He looked surprised. ‘Okay…’
‘I’ve been looking at your map,’ I smoothed it out in front of him. ‘And I notice here you’ve marked stairs and here you’ve got the escalators.’
‘Yeah, that’s right – and there are two lifts around here.’
‘When you came off the train and left the platform, were you on a stationary escalator or steps? Can you remember?’
‘Definitely steps,’ he said. ‘I don’t like walking up escalators when they’ve stopped, I always think they’re going to suddenly start up again or go too fast…’
‘But, in the rush to get out, could it be that you didn’t notice you were climbing a static escalator?’
He thought for a second. ‘No – because I went past the escalators, see here?’ he pointed to the map. ‘I saw everyone was crammed onto them and got to the staircase.’
‘Okay…’ My mouth was dry.
‘You said there were flames in the ticket hall – are you absolutely sure about that?’
He responded immediately. ‘God, yeah. I told you, people’s coats were on fire. It was definitely in the hall, because I remember the barriers themselves were burning.’ He started to shake.
‘It’s okay – we’ll stop there. Are you all right?’
He muttered something I couldn’t hear.
‘Let’s take a few minutes.’ I talked him through a simple grounding process to help him re-orientate himself: What day is it? What are you going to do next? Simple questions. He looked confused, but fully recovered by the time he left.

As he shut the door, I plopped down into my chair. I knew now for certain. Jake sounded so genuine and yet his story didn’t make sense. He’d told me he’d climbed up from the Central Line to the ticket hall using the steps. But, there were no steps from the platforms to the ticket hall, coming in from either east or west. I’d checked the area twice and there was access by escalators and lifts, but no steps until you want to leave the ticket hall to reach the mainline concourse.
Another part of his story didn’t add up either. He said people were on fire around him in the ticket hall, whereas the police were emphatic that the flames never got anywhere near there.
I let the silence spill across the room and stared through the seat of the chair where Jake had been sitting. One thing was clear. For some reason, Jake was lying.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Smoke Hunter - Jacquelyn Benson - adventure and romance

My Review

This debut novel is a girls own rip roaring adventure, pure escapism. It’s a jolly good yarn and I enjoyed reading it immensely, despite it being a bit of a mish-mash of styles with tongue in cheek nods to many other works.

It’s just before the turn of the century and Eleonora (Ellie) Mallory is a rarity for her time, an educated woman who longs for adventure and exploration, yet due to gender constraints is prevented from using her education to do what she really longs for and become an archaeologist in the field exploring ancient ruins in far flung places, instead she has to work as an archivist, a back room girl in a rather dull job cataloguing other peoples finds. She is feisty yet innocent, brave and resourceful but just a touch foolhardy.

Leaving her job one day, she happens upon a fascinating old map and an artefact which leads her on an adventure beyond her wildest dreams.

In a steamy. Exotic South American jungle she joins forces with a dashing enigmatic hunk of man – Adam Bates, explorer to search for a mysterious lost city.

He is Indiana Jones coupled with Bear Grylls and Mr Darcy.

She is Lara Croft, Anne of Green Gables and Jungle Jane.

The story is pure Enid Blyton meets H Rider Haggard with a strong leaning towards classic Mills and Boon. It’s mushy and slushy with lashings of buckets of blood and danger galore.

There is excitement, mystery and lots of Derring do. The whole book simmers with chaste passion and unrequited lust. Puzzles worthy of the Crystal Maze rub shoulders with dastardly deeds carried out by absolute cads.

It is terribly tongue in cheek however if you like good old fashioned romance and rip roaring adventure enter the jungles of British Honduras (now known as Belize) with our hapless couple and join them in their search for the Mirror of smoke.

My thanks go to Katie Bradburn @katie_bradburn at Headline for my review copy.

The Blurb

THE SMOKE HUNTER by Jacquelyn Benson brings you the thrills of Indiana Jones, the action of Scott Mariani, the conspiracy of Dan Brown and the authenticity of Clive Cussler. Are you ready to join the adventure? 

'Intrigue and suspense aplenty. A refreshing and original new voice' Scott Mariani

'The illegitimate love-child of Lara Croft and Indiana Jones... Fast-paced and action-packed' Stephen Leather

Chasing a threat born in smoke... 

London, 1898. Archivist Eleanora Mallory discovers a map to a legendary city . But is it the key to unravelling an ancient mystery or a clever hoax?

Compelled to find out, Ellie journeys to Central America - with a merciless enemy hot on her heels.

In a race to uncover the map's secret first, Ellie is forced to partner with maverick archaeologist Adam Bates, a man she's not sure she can trust. Together, they venture into an uncharted wilderness alive with smoke and shadows, where an even greater danger awaits them.

For what lies there whispering to be unearthed has the power to bring the world to its knees.

Join Ellie and Adam as they battle rivers of scorpions, plummeting waterfalls and pre-historic death traps on the journey to uncovering a deadly secret that could shake the fate of the world.

Follow Jacqulyn on Twitter @JBHeartswords

Visit her website

Monday, 24 October 2016

Blog Tour, interview with Cat Hogan and my review of her new book They all Fall Down


I'm thrilled to have been invited to take part in the Blog Tour for They All Fall Down by Cat Hogan, a twisty psychological thriller that draws you in innocently and spits you out screaming.

Firstly I have an EXCLUSIVE interview with the Author where we caht about something we have in common - our love of books (of course)


Here's Cat so we can see who we're chatting with.

Q: Where or how did your love of books begin?         

Cat) I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t have a book in my hand. I was born into a family of bookworms and my mother passed her love of books on to me. She bought me books all the time and for every occasion. 

When I ran out of my own books to read, I would read her stash or sneak into my brother room and pilfer his. To this day, we are all bookworms- this leads to interesting debates around the kitchen table at Christmas time!

Me) … My Mum passed on her love of books too, although as an only child I’m sure it was just to keep me out of her hair!

What are the first books you remember enjoying as a youngster?

I loved Roald Dahl. I’ve lost count how many times I have read all his books and I still have my own copies. I have continued on the bibliophile tradition with my own boys, Joey is 11 and Baby Arthur is three. The younger one in particular loves to have stories read to him.
Enid Blyton was another one I couldn’t get enough of. The Mallory Towers books – I loved them all and wanted to go to Boarding School, just for the midnight feasts. Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys- I read them all. 

As I got older, I discovered Edgar Allen Poe and the classics.

Another author who had a huge impact on my life was Tom McCaughren- an Irish writer. He wrote 16 books in total but his wildlife books were the ones that caught my heart. Run with the Wind was the first in the series. Written in the 80’s at a time where animals were widely hunted for their pelts, the stories are told from the point of view a skulk of foxes and their dangerous encounters with other animals and humans. The series changed me as a person. To this day I am an animal rights supporter- something I have also instilled in my children.

… Ooh I’ve not heard of Tom McCaughren. I adored Enid Blyton too, and when I was little I loved Milly Molly Mandy and Teddy Robinson books, as I got older I really liked Alan Garner which the closest thing to young adults fantasy 50 years ago!

Which books influenced you most to become a writer?

Every book I have ever read- good and bad. It’s a hard question to answer as I could write a novel on books that have influenced me but the urge came from the perspective of a reader rather than a writer. 

There is no better feeling in the world than curling up in front of the fire or in bed and getting absolutely lost in the pages of a book. It is the most wonderful form of escapism and time becomes irrelevant. I wanted to see if I could do that- I wanted to create a world and characters who people could identify with and care about.

… You achieved that with They All Fall down, your characters are very easy to relate to.

and is there a particular author you aspire to be like or admire above all others?

This is an easy one to answer! I am blessed to come from the beautiful Co. Wexford in the SE corner of Ireland. There is a little bit of magic in the air down here. I share the air with several internationally renowned authors from my own home town. Colm Tóibín , John Banville, Eoin Colfer and international playwright Billy Roche are all from Co.Wexford. They paved the way for us and here in my hometown all the arts are encouraged and nurtured. No one bats an eyelid when you tell them you are writing a book or making a movie. 

We are also very proud of our International Festival of Opera, now in it’s 65th year. Roald Dahl’s wife, Felicity, travelled to Wexford in 2010 to be at the world premiere of the Opera inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The magic is everywhere. My aspiration is to continue the tradition of great international writers coming from Wexford- I grew up admiring and worshipping each one of them.

… Exalted company in your neck of the woods Cat.

What books have you loved in the past few years?

For a short while (while I was in the middle of edits and preparation for publication day) the joy of reading left me. Every book I picked up I judged against mine, I studied how that author constructed sentences, how they used dialogue etc. It had to stop- my favourite pastime had turned into study. Now, I’m back to where I used to be. I read for pure pleasure and escapism.

I try my best to support fellow authors in Ireland and as soon as they launch a book I will buy it.

I do love Stephen King and Wally Lamb. I also love Harlan Coben. There are so many wonderful books and authors out there, it’s hard to choose.

Two of my favourite books in the last couple of years have been from Irish author Liz Nugent. Her books ‘Unravelling Oliver’ and ‘Lying in Wait’ have dominated the best seller lists for months- and well deserved too. I love Liz’s style of writing- dark, twisty and very intelligent. I have had the pleasure of meeting her and she is a real lady- and so encouraging. She read They All Fall Down and loved it. High praise indeed!

… I have Unravelling Oliver on my TBR pile – must move it closer to the top. Glad she enjoyed your writing.

and whats next on your TBR (to be read) list?

I have a couple of books on the go at the moment for research purposes. For pleasure, the next on the list is an oldie- and one I absolutely detested when studying English… Jane Austen’s ‘Emma.’

I have hated this book with a passion for years but I want to go back to it and see if my opinion has changed. I’ll let you know about that.

I’m a huge fan of psychology and I read quite a lot of books of that nature. The human condition fascinates me and I’ve always been a real observer. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on ‘The Cyber Effect’ by Mary Aiken. It studies how human behaviour changes online and I think it’s perhaps a book we should all read.

… Good luck with Emma, I must admit I don’t enjoy much classic literature, too much of a Philistine. I’m fascinated by psychology though.

 Whats next for you?

I’m just coming to the end of the first draft of book 2. It’s a sequel of sorts to They All Fall Down. I’m about quarter way through a third book- a stand-alone novel- another dark and twisted tale!

They All Fall Down will be republished in March in mass paperback- fingers crossed it will fly over the water and the sequel will be published in June/July. It’s a busy time.
There’s also talk of a screen play- I will keep you posted on that one too!

… Very exciting news, do keep us posted on both fronts.

Thanks from me to Cat for allowing this insight into her love of books


Ring a ring of Roses – someone wants to play – Who’s not plating the game? Now someone must pay …

This isn’t quite how I remember singing the nursery rhyme when I was little and this book isn’t quite as gentle and romantic as it seems at first! 

It begins as pure romantic fiction, chick lit (if you don’t find that term offensive) It’s very girly, it’s all about single Mum Jen who with her little son Danny moves into a lovely cottage in a sleepy fishing village, left to her by her recently deceased Aunt. She also inherits a lodger, the handsome and almost too good to be true Andy, almost inevitably between the young pair is a frisson of attraction, romance is in the air and Jen’s friends Sal and Tess, who is going through marriage woe’s herself, are keen to encourage Jen into a relationship.

Most of the characters Cat Hogan has created are flawed in some way, from Jen who bears the physical and mental scars of her past, to Tess’s husband Doc who just can’t get his head around loving Tess and doing the right thing by her.

But none are quite as deeply flawed as Andy’s best friend Scott however, like so many fledgling romances two’s company and three’s a crowd and Scott has no time for Jen and sparks fly between Jen and Scott.

But the more Jen tries to pour oil on troubled waters the worse things get and what begins as a nice romantic story set by the seaside becomes a stormy and dangerous fight for survival for her and her little boy.

It’s made immediately apparent that Scott is a thoroughly complex and really nasty piece of work. Oh dear me, he is a flawed and twisted fella, no surprise that he's no angel but how far will he go to get what he wants - and what DOES he want anyway?

This is a clever novel with psychological twists aplenty, it drew me in gently and I thought I was in for an easy read then it suddenly begins to tighten it's grip and become tense and downright scary. Great for fans of flawed characters, emotional story lines and fast paced thrillers.

It's been recently published and you can buy a copy for your kindle or in paperback now.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Good Me Bad Me - Ali Land - Chilling and terrifying

My thoughts

Phew!! Good Me Bad Me is not an easy read yet it is so compelling and chilling I really couldn't put it down. It's a hugely accomplished debut novel I'm proud to help others discover, from an author I'm honoured to claim I was one of the first to read.

This novel takes the reader on a truly chilling and terrifying journey into the psyche of an abused child. Annie, the teenage daughter of a cruel and horrifying Mother has a new identity to protect her whilst her mother stands trial for murder - and not just any old murder - the murder of 9 innocent little children.

Annie has now become Milly and she’s trying to put the past behind her, but many events haunt her and won't let her make a complete clean break with her depraved upbringing.

The ominous and macabre voice of Milly's mother haunts her dreams and subconscious and for all she hates what her parent has done and what she made Milly herself do, she still can't get over the fact that this woman gave birth to her and was her Mum and there are massive conflicts of feeling towards her. The in depth detail of her crimes is mercifully sketched over on the main part though perhaps all the more terrifying for allowing our imaginations to run riot, furnishing the grim facts and embellishing what we know with what we fear.

Milly has been placed in a temporary foster home whilst her mother awaits trial for the cruel and calculated murder of many young children.  Crimes to which Milly was perhaps the only witness, possibly an accomplice she was forced into being an accessory to unspeakable acts under threat of the same being done to her.

Having found the courage to speak up at last, it’s understandable that she is racked with guilt and shame deeply affected by her dreadful childhood. No wonder the foster home she’s placed in has at its head an experienced psychologist who tries to help young Milly come to terms with her own past.

No wonder either that Milly finds it a little difficult to get along with Phoebe the daughter of the foster household, she dreams of having a sister but Phoebe resents her and conflict is the last thing Milly needs, all she really wants  is to be loved, she's a very lonely and confused 15 year old girl who will make your arms ache to hold her, your heart bleed for the childhood which was stolen from her and just occasionally she will make your blood run cold, with her memories, thoughts and behaviour. I was SO rooting for her and felt every moment of anguish alongside her.

Milly's voice is utterly real and believable and despite her being a young girl this is no teenage angst, coming of age story, she has truly had the upbringing from Hell. It's about your past shaping you and the inescapable truth that blood is thicker than water.

When she is good she's very good, but when she's not, is she bad or just very sad?

This is a blow your mind, totally twisty psychological fairground ride, you'll eagerly clamber on and once you get going you'll scream to get off again, but there's no escape from the past, so you'll just have to stay with it right to the tantalizing bitter end.

My advance copy was kindly provided by Netgalley from the publishers Michael Joseph at Penguin to whom I apologize for not reading it sooner but it was well worth the anticipation and wait.

The blurb: taken from Goodreads

SET TO BE ONE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY, CONTROVERSIAL AND EXPLOSIVE DEBUTS OF 2017 - for fans of quality psychological suspense and reading group fiction: once you read this book you'll want to talk about it.

'NEW N A M E .
S H I N Y.
ME . '

Annie's mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother's trial looms, the secrets of her past won't let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name - Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly's mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother's daughter...

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Never Alone - Elizabeth Haynes - creepy and tense

BLOG TOUR - Never Alone - Elizabeth Haynes

I'm thrilled to be part of the blog tour for the hugely anticipated new psychological thriller from Elizabeth Haynes, Author of several highly acclaimed, successful, tense and twisty books including the wonderful Into the Darkest Corner.

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy from the publisher, Myriad Editions (hint .... you can read the first chapter for FREE on their website) and as my contribution to the blog tour here are my humble thoughts on the book ....

My Review

If you like a book that insinuates its way gently into your psyche until it reaches fever pitch then leaves you screaming with terror, this IS that book, it's a real creeper and begins ever so gently in a tranquil rural location in North Yorkshire.

Sarah is a widow, Mum of 2 grown up kids, a son Louis, from whom she is estranged and a daughter Kitty who she is very close to but has flown the nest. She lives in a fairly remote house with a small cottage annexe, high on a hillside on the North Yorkshire moors. I felt a great affinity for the Northern location especially as Sarah frequently visits Thirsk and Northallerton which are just up the road from where I live, so I really felt at home amidst the pages of this book. When you're on home ground everything seems very authentic, I felt as though Sarah was someone I'd met, perhaps she was having coffee with her best friend Sophie in the local tea rooms and I'd spoken to her? Yes the characters are very human which helps them crawl under your skin and take up residence.

Sarah’s best friend Sophie lives not far away from her and when Aidan, an ex of Sarah’s from college days, turns up needing somewhere to stay, she is happy to rent him her recently re-furbished cottage and is not averse to rekindling an old flame she has kept burning for him over the years.

There are frequent visits from a young bloke called Will, a friend of Sarah’s son and the isolated location I was expecting is belied by the title – She IS never alone, there’s always someone hanging around. But there are mysteries surrounding all the characters, everyone has something to hide and even Sarah’s late husband had his secrets, nobody is quite what they seem, everyone has something they wish to keep hidden.

What begins as a rekindled romance soon escalates into a series of passionate encounters, but is it Sarah who’s obsessed with Aidan or the other way round? He’s hot and sexy and seems to be just what she needs to bring her out of her shell, there are quite a few raunchy moments in this book, maybe someone is no better than they should be, as my Mother used to say?

This is a gripping psychological thriller where the pace builds gradually to a rip roaring climax of exceptional tension and terror, it's violent, its sexy and it's incredibly cunning.

The story is told in 3 tenses, Sarah's story, the main part is written in standard 3rd person narrative, then Aidan's is written in a rather strange form of 1st person where he refers to himself as “you” as if he’s taking about himself to himself and this was a little harder for me to follow. Then there is another thread every now and again and this is an unrevealed narrators thoughts in first person. I twigged instantly, whose voice this was, yet it still made for scary reading. Maybe you won't guess who it is, it's deliberately ambiguous and could be any of half a dozen people in the story.

The book is extremely well written and really gripping and I like to think my ability to interpret all the little clues and predict the outcome, stems from a kinship with the authors unique and fascinating style. If you loved Into the darkest corner as I did, you won't fail to thrill to this one.

Never Alone builds to a terrifying crescendo of violence and terror which had me on the edge of my seat, you won’t want to miss this fantastic read.

The Blurb

From the award-winning and bestselling author of Into the Darkest Corner comes a gripping new psychological thriller 
Sarah Carpenter lives with her two dogs in a farmhouse, high on the North Yorkshire moors. Alone for the first time since her husband died and her children left home, she isn’t exactly lonely but welcomes the arrival of an old friend, Aiden Beck, who needs a place to stay.
Aiden clearly has secrets, but then so does Sarah, and that’s no reason not to respond to his warmth and charm. But something doesn’t feel quite right. As the weather closes in, and snowfall blocks the roads, events take a dramatic turn and suddenly Sarah finds herself in terrible danger, unsure of who she can trust.

Blog tour The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker a #Randomthings #BlogTour

Blog tour The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker a #Randomthings #BlogTour Hello blog readers and book lovers. Today I am joining in t...