Friday, 29 May 2015

Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson - BLOG TOUR

I am delighted to be today's stop on the BLOG TOUR for Ragnar Jónasson's Snowblind, which is being published in paperback edition on 15 June 2015 by Orenda Books.

By Ragnar Jónasson
Published by Orenda Books (E-book - 20 April 2015, Paperback - 15 June 2015)
ISBN: 978-1-910633038

Publisher's description
Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors - accessible only via a small mountain tunnel.
Ari Thor Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik - with a past that he's unable to leave behind.

When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust deeper into his own darkness - blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose. Taut and terrifying, Snowblind is a startling debut from from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights.

My verdict
Snowblind is a literary whodunnit. Based in a remote Icelandic town, set against beautiful snow-covered peaks, this is an atmospheric chilling novel.

The town of Siglufjörður is remote at the best of times and becomes virtually isolated during the winter months. Nothing much usually happens in this small community, so none of the locals are suspicious when a tragic fatal accident occurs. But rookie detective Ari Thor, fresh from police training in Reykjavik, has a hunch that something is amiss. When a woman is found unconscious in the snow, there are two cases for him to solve. There are also snowstorms and avalanches for him to contend with, as well as relationship dilemmas.

This is a gentle slow-burning novel, with no graphic violence or big action scenes, and it kept me intrigued all the way through thanks to the sheer magic of its writing. There are beautiful descriptions of a harsh environment, stunning surroundings and a whole host of fascinating characters. There's certainly plenty there to make the reader fall in love with Iceland - and maybe with Ari Thor as well.

This is an excellent debut novel, with several twists and turns, and has been well translated by Quentin Bates. To me, it was like reading a modern-day Icelandic Agatha Christie novel. I look forward to reading meeting Ari Thor again soon.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

The Versions of Us
By Laura Barnett
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (28 May 2015)
ISBN: 978-1474600163

Publisher's description
What if you had said yes? The moments that change everything…

The Versions of Us is a love story told three ways. A young man is walking down a country lane. A woman, cycling towards him, swerves to avoid a dog. On that moment, their future hinges. There are three possible outcomes, three small decisions that could determine the rest of their lives.

Eva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. There is also David, Eva's lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply but cares more about his own talent. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first chance meeting. Lives filled with love, betrayal and ambition, but through it all a deep connection that endures, whatever fate might throw at them.

The Versions of Us explores the idea that there are moments when our lives might have turned out differently, the tiny factors or decisions that could determine our fate, and the precarious nature of the foundations upon which we build our lives. It is also a story about the nature of love and how it grows, changes and evolves as we travel through life.

My verdict
The Versions of Us gives you three very similar love stories for the price of one. Its underlying concept - how one simple decision or a turn of fate chooses the path you lead - has been explored before (e.g. the Sliding Doors film staring Gwyneth Paltrow). In this book, the three stories follow Eva and Jim (and their friends and family) over the next 60 years.

Each version of the story starts off in Cambridge, with 19-year-old Eva riding on her bike and then involved in an incident with a dog. From that moment, each version branches off in a different direction. Yet all three are inextricably linked. Clever little facts, such as relatives and friends, milestone parties, functions and events and clothing choices, give common threads throughout the different versions. It felt like spot the difference (or rather the similarities) when I noticed these.

Laura Barnett has a very descriptive way of writing and weaves emotions into her story with ease. The stories were very well planned and must have been a logistical nightmare to construct, making sure they all followed in unison, like three parallel rivers following similar twisting paths and all set to end at the same point. The characters were all very real and easy to relate to. I found that I liked some characters in one version and hated them in another, due to the tiny differences in the paths they took and choices they made.

I enjoyed all three versions. My only difficulty with the book was trying to keep track of people's relationships and all the children's names and ages in each version. I was very close to making a spreadsheet to help me keep track. Also, I found that sometimes the versions were out of sync, so version three was followed by version two, rather than version one, which confused me slightly. Every time I sat down to read more of the book, I had to have a quick recap in my mind.

Overall, The Versions of Us is an enjoyable well-written story with a satisfying ending that tied up all the loose ends. It's an emotional roller coaster and I read the last few pages with tears in my eyes.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Evil Games by Angela Marsons

Evil Games
By Angela Marsons
Published by Bookouture (29 May 2015)
ISBN: 978-1909490956

Publisher's description
The greater the evil, the more deadly the game…

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim soon finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time - it's personal.

My verdict
Yet again Angela Marsons has written a 5* crime novel. I loved Silent Scream and was so excited to be given the opportunity to read the next one before publication. Evil Games is certainly as good as the first, if not better, and I wish I could give it a higher rating than 5/5.

In Evil Games, we return to DI Kim Stone, the first-rate detective with a damaged past. In her second book, Angela Marsons gives us more background about Kim's horrific childhood, which was hinted about in the previous one. I love Kim's friendship and banter with Bryant, as it brings her softer side to the surface.

This time, Kim has a great adversary in the form of an evil and creepy psychiatrist, Alexandra 'Alex' Thorne. Kim suspects something sinister is going on following a series of seemingly unrelated killings. As Alex delves into Kim's past, this becomes a terrifying game of cat and mouse.

Evil Games is fast-paced writing and kept me intrigued from beginning to end. I can't wait for the third instalment!

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Click here to read my Author in the Spotlight feature with Angela Marsons.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


I am delighted that FERGUS MCNEILL is joining me on my blog today. His three books - Eye Contact, Knife Edge and Cut Out - are published by Hodder & Stoughton

So Fergus, what inspired you to write a book in the first place?
It really happened by accident. Like many people, I'd wanted to be a writer since I was a child at school, but I'd never quite got around to doing the actual writing part. Eventually, I joined a creative writing evening class because I thought it would force me to write regularly… and it did! One term, our tutor set us the challenge of beginning a novel; I started writing some chapters, which later became my first novel Eye Contact, and I suppose I've just kept going ever since.

Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come from feelings, thoughts, pieces of music and a hundred other places. Inspiration is impossible to control, but there are ways that you can encourage it to work for you. For example, I try to write 'on location' as much as possible - making regular visits to areas where my stories take place. It's like walking on to the movie set of my book, and that always seems to spark new ideas and has me reaching for my laptop.

Have your personal experiences influenced your writing? And if so, how?
Many authors look into themselves to find authenticity for their characters. The personality of my series protagonist D.I. Harland is very much defined by a tragic bereavement, and I know that I drew on my own experiences of loss to write those sections in the books. My villains are based on other people - never me! - but I do sometimes base their workplace, or some of their colleagues, on my own ... just don't tell anyone!

Describe your writing style in 10 words or less?
Close third person, fast-forwarding between the interesting bits

Do you have any strange writing habits?
Writing 'on location' is probably my strangest habit, but I also make a point of listening to particular music whenever I write (mostly ambient, soundtracks or neo-classical). I use music as a kind of mental bookmark, avoiding those special songs or albums until the next time I'm writing, when they help me to quickly get back into the thought process I was in previously.

Do you plot out the whole book before you start or just start writing and see where it leads you?
I usually have a reasonable idea where the story is going, but I've learned that the best inspiration often comes later in the journey, and I don't ever want to miss out on something great just because it wasn't in my initial chapter plan. So I treat those early plans as a kind of safety net - they're there in case I don't find anything better, but I'm always looking out for something unexpected as I go along.

What do you consider to be the hardest part of your writing?
I find myself caring far too much about some of my characters, and it can be tough when I know I'm about to put one of them through a difficult time. If it's emotionally rough for them, it's emotionally rough for me, and I've often found myself trembling, or even in tears, at the end of a particularly troubling scene. This wouldn't be so bad, but I'm usually somewhere embarrassingly public - maybe on a train or in a café - when it happens!

Do you read? If so, who are your favourite authors?
I read all sorts of different things, so there are quite a few authors in the frame. My crime favourites are always changing, but I'd have to mention Erin Kelly (The Poison Tree), Ann Cleeves (Raven Black), and Phil Hogan (A Pleasure And A Calling). Outside the crime genre, I love reading early John Le Carré, Philip K Dick, Terry Pratchett and J R R Tolkien.

How has your life changed since becoming a published author?
I thought that being a published author might make me feel more confident about my writing but, if anything, it's just made me even more anxious and insecure. Previously, I didn't have to worry, because I never expected anyone to actually read my books; there's a bit more pressure now. It's not all bad though. I have more Twitter followers now - I'm @fergusmcneill in case you were wondering - and I love chatting with readers so that's a genuine silver lining!

If you were writing a book about your life, what would be the title?
'Not Enough Time. Not Enough Cake.'

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Don't give up! When you're on the outside, it's easy to imagine that there's a secret formula to being published, or some special technique, but there absolutely isn't. The same submission that gets you a three-book-deal has probably gathered a pile of rejection slips first. Just keep going. Good writers that do, always seem to break through eventually,.

And lastly, why should people read your latest book?
I started wondering what might happen if someone wished their life was more like yours - exactly like yours - and what might happen if they lived right upstairs from you. The result is Cut Out, a psychological thriller, featuring my Bristol-based detective Inspector Harland. I really hope people enjoy it.

About Fergus McNeill
As well as writing crime novels, Fergus McNeill has been creating computer games since the early eighties, writing his first interactive fiction titles while still at school. Over the years he has designed, directed and illustrated games for all sorts of systems, including the BBC Micro, the Apple iPad and almost everything in between.

Now running an app development studio, Fergus lives in Hampshire with his wife and teenage son. He is the author of Eye Contact, Knife Edge and Cut Out.

Read Fergus McNeill's blog at, find him on Facebook and follow Fergus on Twitter - @fergusmcneill.

Cut Out
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 23 April 2015

Nigel never meant for it to happen. At first, he just wanted to be Matt's friend. But when he discovers he can hear what is going on in the flat below him, his fascination with his new neighbour drifts into obsession.

Rearranging his furniture to recreate the layout of the rooms downstairs. Buying the same clothes, going through his post, his things. Becoming Matt without him ever knowing.

And it would have been all right, if Matt hadn't brought the girl home.

When things spiral out of control, Detective Inspector Harland has to unravel the disturbing truth. But there's far more to the case than meets the eye...

Read my review of Cut Out here 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

No Other Darkness (DI Marnie Rome 2)
By Sarah Hilary
Published by Headline (23rd April 2015)
ISBN: 978-1472207722

Publisher's description
Two young boys.
Trapped underground in a bunker.
Unable to understand why they are there.
Desperate for someone to find them.
Slowly realising that no-one will…

Five years later, the boys' bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome's career begins.
Her only focus is the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them.
For Marnie, there is no other darkness than this...

My verdict
No Other Darkness is a gripping police procedural. Sarah Hilary isn't afraid to tackle dark story lines and complex relationships. The book explores the impact that violent crime and murder have on people's families and relationships - and the difficulties associated with moving on with life afterwards.

The plot is a sensitive story involving the discovery of the bodies of two young children, who were abandoned in an underground bunker five years earlier. The children's bodies were found in the garden of Terry and Beth Doyle who have a young family themselves, as well as a teenage foster son. DI Marnie Rome and her team need to establish the murdered children's identities before they can look for the perpetrator of this terrible crime.

This fast-moving page turner draws you in from the disturbing prologue. The short chapters keep you reading; it's easy to say just one more chapter and then discover that you have read three or four. The twists and turns keep on coming right until the end, with plenty of surprises for the reader.

Sarah Hilary writes in a highly emotive way; you don't just read what's happening - you can feel it too. DI Rome and her team feel strong emotions for their victims, and their humanity is a central part of the story. The main characters have complicated backgrounds, but they remain realistic and believable.

This is the second in Sarah Hilary's Marnie Rome series. I haven't yet read the first book (although I had already bought it before I received this one). I had no problems understanding the characters or story, and this can easily be read as a standalone.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 22 May 2015

The Art of Staying Dead by Joel Hames

The Art of Staying Dead
By Joel Hames
Kindle edition available from Amazon UK (27 May 2015)

Publisher's description
A prisoner who doesn't exist.
A lawyer who doesn't care.
A secret buried for thirty years.

Sam Williams' idea of an important decision is whether to have another kebab for lunch. He's spent ten years running away from other people's pain, and he's learned not to look back. Sam needs a client, and for a human rights lawyer with a flexible conscience and an impatient landlord, a high security prison seems a decent bet to find one. But now the bodies are mounting up, the decisions are getting serious, and the pain isn't someone else's any more.

Someone wants him dead, the police would like a word, and there's nowhere left in London to hide. If Sam wants to stay alive, he's going to have to stop running and figure out why.

My verdict
Sam Williams could have been a hot shot lawyer until his career went pear shaped. Now, he's trudging through life with a fear of commitment and taking cases from the dregs of society - whatever he can find to make some money. But this changes when  an incident in a high security prison throws his life into turmoil.

The Art of Staying Dead is a well-planned thriller full of conspiracy, politics, murder and violence. The highly descriptive plot sucks you straight into the action from the first page. After the first chapter, the plot then slows down and the story gradually unfolds, leading to several twists and a satisfying conclusion.

Since the book is written in the first person, you get right into Sam's thoughts and feelings, which makes the story come alive. Unlike other protagonists in books with a similar theme, Sam isn't a natural action hero. He can be pretty clueless and disorganised at times, and his thoughts generally run away with him. This means that the writing can be a little wordy in places, but it fits in well with his character.

If you enjoy action thrillers, with political intrigue and a slightly more masculine feel, then this is an ideal book for you.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 21 May 2015


I am delighted that ELIZABETH FORBES is joining me on my blog today. Elizabeth's two books - Nearest Thing to Crazy and Who Are You - are both brilliant psychological thrillers published by Cutting Edge Press. 

So Lizzie, what inspired you to write a book in the first place?
Hi Vicki, and thanks for inviting me onto your Q&A. That's a difficult question. I can't think of anything in particular that inspired me to write, to be honest. I think I just felt the need to express myself in words on paper. I don't know whether other people do this, but I used to dream I was writing stories. And I used to annoy everyone by usually guessing the twists in movies and TV dramas, and imagining what I would do with the characters if I was telling their stories. Then when my children were very young, I was at home with a typewriter (shows how long ago that was!) wondering how to keep myself occupied, so I started to write my first novel just to see 'where it would go'.

Where do your ideas come from?
Maybe something that happens to people around me; perhaps stories in the newspapers or general themes that I think would be interesting to investigate and develop. In Nearest Thing to Crazy, I was interested in the notion of truth in storytelling and the way we all have our own versions of what is the truth. For example, we can go to the same party and have entirely different experiences and recollections of what 'actually' happened. And as it says in the beginning of the book, 'memory can play strange tricks…' So I decided to pitch two narrators against each other and attempt to have the reader not really knowing who to believe. I think this happens in real life. People exaggerate, or add light and shade, or maybe hold back on something that was uncomfortable, so we have a picture, but perhaps not the whole story, of what happened.

Have your personal experiences influenced your writing? And if so, how?
Well, I suppose the fact that I've been through two divorces means that I know how it feels when a relationship is under pressure; and I have experienced living with a husband with a terminal illness, so life hasn't always been easy for me or my children. I think I can tap into those feelings of despair when life is falling apart around you, and I'm just fascinated by the power of the human spirit. Whatever adversity life puts in one's way, our natural instinct is to try and survive it somehow. In Who Are You?, I wanted to explore this survival instinct and the way the mind attempts to deal with trauma, perhaps through denial, or by becoming a kind of artificially constructed 'self' that convinces itself it's OK when actually it isn't at all, if that makes sense!

Describe your writing style in 10 words or less?
Twisty, dark, sometimes drily funny (hopefully) in spare, transparent prose. (At least that's how I'd like it to be!)

Do you have any strange writing habits?
Err, sometimes I have two Jack Russells peering over the keyboard as I type or sitting on my arms, which makes life difficult. I stuff bananas and drink cappuccino coffee from my lovely Nespresso machine. I also have a constant supply of nicotine lozenges and e-cigarettes. I'd love to say I get up at 4am and do four hours work before breakfast, but I'm far too lazy. I procrastinate for hours, play on Facebook and Twitter, surf the internet for research and then eventually face the blank sheet of paper. Ideally I need to have long, interrupted time when the book's in full flow so that I can get into the writing mindset and hope that the characters will start to talk to me. I become seriously anti-social, protecting my writing space by avoiding the phone and praying friends won't drop in unexpectedly. And then I just pray that they'll still be around when it's over.

Do you plot out the whole book before you start or just start writing and see where it leads you?
I have an idea of the theme, the main characters and the basic arc of the story, but I don't do a detailed plot. I prefer not to know how the book will end, because I feel I would subconsciously give away too many hints along the way. And part of the excitement for me is a bit like reading a book: you've got to keep going in order to know how it will end. The downside is that it does make it a bit 'seat of the pants'. I find that however I thought the story was going to progress, it always seems to develop a mind of its own and surprises me.

What do you consider to be the hardest part of your writing?
Overall there's the overriding fear that every word I write is rubbish and nobody will be remotely interested in reading such drivel. Then there's the thinking of the plot, and trying to develop characters and scenes that will move the story forward and keep the reader both involved and satisfied. I wish I had a better imagination and could be one of those writers who has a clear idea of the whole story from beginning to end, with all the bits in-between. But for me, it's like pulling teeth. And when it's all finished, there's the awful post-exam-waiting-for-the-results thing, when you have to wait for the verdict of success or failure. But when the book gets a good reception, it's like giving birth - all the pain's forgotten until the next time.

Do you read? If so, who are your favourite authors?
I had to read a lot of the classics when I was doing my literature degree, and I adored Henry James, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and Joseph Conrad; and Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favourites. The contemporary writers I love include J.M. Coetzee because his prose is clean and pure. It makes me tingle because it's just so perfect. And I love Caroline Smailes because she is brilliant and pushes the boundaries with her novels. I really enjoyed reading Harriet Lane's psychological thrillers because I admire the sense of subtle menace lurking below a seemingly normal domestic environment which she creates. I like Louise Doughty for the same reason. And I read Do No Harm by Henry Marsh, which I thought was both beautifully written and one of the most moving books I've ever read. Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Patrick Gale, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Patrick Suskind are all favourites - I could go on and on because basically I pretty much like everything and anything as long as it's well-written.

How has your life changed since becoming a published author?
It's a mixture of excitement and terror. It's an amazing feeling to have my books in print, and to have people tell me how much they've enjoyed them. I still find it all a bit unbelievable. I'm grateful to anyone who's put the time aside to actually read one of my books. The downside is the agony of fearing that everyone will hate my next book and I'll never, ever be able to write another one. But I'm hoping that this comes with the territory and most writers feel the same way. At least that's what I keep telling myself. I've got to mention THE Book Club on Facebook, which has been a massive support to me - I've been able to connect with lots of readers and receive some really positive feedback, which helps to keep me focused on the next project.

If you were writing a book about your life, what would be the title?
Ha ha - 'Four Wedding and a Funeral' (with apologies to Richard Curtis). Or 'I Just Kept Buggering On'.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Try and write as unselfconsciously as possible and pretend that no one will ever read your wip (work in progress) so you can try to put those horrible feelings of self-doubt aside and just get on with the writing. Just get the words on paper; then at least you'll have something to work with and revise later on. Writing just a few hundred words every day will eventually add up to a full-blown novel. The book won't write itself! Read everything you can - people who write in the same genre, classics, biography, anything. Be a sponge, ready to soak up every experience. And when you're going through a bad one, stay positive because it just might come in useful sometime.

And lastly, why should people read your books?
Ooh, that's a tricky one for me to answer. So can I duck out and just quote the fabulous book blogger Anne Cater: 'Her writing is chillingly unsettling; tense and cleverly paced. Prepare yourself to be consumed by this story, to be terrified and at the same time to empathise with the hidden victims of other people's actions. A triumph!' I couldn't ask for a better plug than that, could I?

About Elizabeth Forbes

Elizabeth Forbes lives with her husband in Herefordshire near the Welsh Border. She has two grown up children who have just started NOT to bring their washing home. She is supported in her writing day by two Jack Russells called Squirt and Stumpy and a Cocker Spaniel called Scooter. Elizabeth studied for a BA in Literature with the Open University, and graduated in 2010 with First Class Honours. She also holds an Open University Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing. She is currently working on her third novel.

Find Elizabeth Forbes's books on her official Facebook page and follow Elizabeth on Twitter - @lizzieforbes.

Nearest Thing to Crazy
Published by Cutting Edge Press (26 June 2013)

Synopsis: Dan and a group of his friends enjoy Sunday lunch together on a perfect summer's day. They're pleased to welcome their glamorous new neighbour and novelist, Ellie, who has rented a house in the village to work on her book. She likes to place herself in the centre of her plots, she says, although it's hard to see what she'll find to write about in this quiet backwater.
As Ellie slots effortlessly into the village social scene, Dan's wife begins to feel increasingly alienated from her friends and isolated from her family but, for the life of her, she can't fathom out why…

Click here to find it on Amazon UK and here for Amazon USA.

Who Are You?
Published by Cutting Edge Press (23 June 2014)

Synopsis: Alex Miller, after years of unaccompanied postings abroad in the service of his country, has finally returned home to his wife Juliet and young son Ben, with the hope of leaving old wounds and memories behind. All Juliet has ever wanted is to get the man she married home for good. At last everything seems perfectly in place to begin the next phase in their married life in their smart new London home.
But Alex's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and irrational, and Juliet suspects that he may be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of his experiences serving with an elite regiment in Afghanistan and Iraq. His refusal to either acknowledge this or obtain professional help drives Juliet to seek support on the internet, finding solace in web forums where she can safely share her innermost fears.
Unable to reach Alex, and finally fearing for both her life and Ben's, she is offered a place of safety through one of her trusted internet contacts. She has no choice but to escape the tyranny of their home in the hope of starting afresh...

Click here to find it on Amazon UK and here for Amazon USA.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

Huntress Moon 
By Alexander Sokoloff
Published by Thomas & Mercer (27 January 2015)
ISBN: 978-1477822043

Publisher's description
FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke is closing in on a bust of a major criminal organisation in San Francisco when he witnesses an undercover member of his team killed right in front of him on a busy street, an accident Roarke can't believe is coincidental. His suspicions put him on the trail of a mysterious young woman who appears to have been present at each scene of the years-long string of 'accidents' and murders, and who may well be that most rare of killers: a female serial.

Roarke's hunt for her takes him across three states, while in a small coastal town, a young father and his five-year-old son, both wounded from a recent divorce, encounter a lost and compelling young woman on the beach and strike up an unlikely friendship without realising how deadly she may be.

As Roarke uncovers the shocking truth of her background, he realises she is on a mission of her own, and must race to capture her before more blood is shed.

My verdict
Huntress Moon is an exceptionally well-plotted crime thriller exploring the fine line between good and evil.

Investigating a series of murders, FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke believes that a serial killer is on the loose. It seems that the highly skilled killer is a woman, yet female serial killers are virtually unheard of. On the surface, the Huntress appears to be a cold, calculating character, but it's possible that there could be more to her than meets the eye. As the story unfolds, it appears that she is on a mission - and is determined that nothing will get in her way.

The book dives straight into the action and doesn't stop, with its fast-paced descriptions and snappy dialogue.  For me, the characters really came alive as the Huntress and Roarke pit their wits against each other. The tension builds up and the two characters get closer to colliding - and when they do, it's quite explosive.

By alternating chapters between the two main protagonists, the author has created an intriguing cat and mouse chase that grabbed my attention all the way through. I didn't want the book to end, so it's just as well there are another two in the series.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Book forCrohns by the forCrohns charity

Book forCrohns
Published by the forCrohns charity (6th May 2015)
ISBN: 978-1500601690

Available from and Amazon UK. All profits will go towards funding a wide variety of research into Crohn's disease.

Publisher's description
Book forCrohns is a 'community in a book' - a one-stop shop for anyone with Crohn's disease, their family, friends and loved ones. It covers all the expected topics such as diagnosis, drugs and surgery whilst also exploring more lifestyle-related topics - having a relationship when you have Crohn's, having children or a career when you have the condition. In addition, there is a chapter written by and for children and young people with Crohn's, and an entire section written by and for the relatives and loved ones of the condition.

Throughout the book, a wide range of medical professionals have written in layman's terms about their area of expertise. Every chapter has numerous real life accounts directly from those with the donation, commented on by a medical expert and each chapter brings you tips and suggestions from those who know best.

About Crohn's disease
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the bowel. It affects around 115,000 people in the UK, most commonly starting between the ages of 15 and 40 and then later at age 60. The symptoms vary in severity and usually flare up and down, but often include abdominal pain, bloody diarrhoea and unintentional weight loss. Some people also experience fever, fatigue and feeling sick or actual vomiting. In around half of Crohn's patients, the disease progresses to a more severe form, with narrowing of the bowel and blockages carrying a risk of infection. People with Crohn's are at an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies, leading to anaemia and/or osteoporosis. Common treatments include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines, specialised diets and possibly surgery.

My verdict
Book for Crohns is an essential reference guide for anyone living with Crohn's disease, whether you have the condition yourself, you are a friend or family member or a healthcare professional in the field. The book is packed full of easy-to-read information, with well-explained medical jargon and scientific terms.

Book for Crohns has three main sections. The first section is devoted to Crohn's disease from a medical point of view, covering the symptoms, treatment, management and living with the disease. The second section looks at Crohn's disease from the point of view of those with the condition, with case studies and testimonies on coping with the diagnosis, having surgery, following nutrition and diet advice and dealing with everyday life situations (e.g. at work, relationships and having children). Alongside these stories, there are relevant facts and guidance from key healthcare professionals. There are also lists of practical tips and suggestions to help you cope with having Crohn's disease. The third section, Crohn's disease from the loved ones, contains experiences of partners and family members. There are also two short chapters covering 'What the future holds' and 'Links and further information'.

If you have been diagnosed with Crohn's disease, or know someone who has, this is an ideal book to give you reliable background information and practical advice. All profits from book sales go towards research into Crohn's disease.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the forCrohns charity in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar

A Man Lies Dreaming
By Lavie Tidhar
Published by Hodder (12 March 2015)
ISBN: 978-1-444-76294-5

Publisher's description
Deep in the heart of history's most infamous concentration camp, a man lies dreaming.

His name is Shomer, and before the war he was a pulp fiction author.

Now to escape the brutal reality of life in Auschwitz, Shomer spends his nights imagining another world - a world where a disgraced former dictator now known only as Wolf ekes out a miserable existence as a low-rent PI in London't grimiest streets.

My verdict
A Man Lies Dreaming has to be one of the most bizarre and imaginative books I have read about the holocaust, and also one of the most fascinating. Imagine if Adolf Hitler never came to power in Germany and ended up in London instead, living as a low-life private investigator with the dregs of society.

There are two stories here. Firstly, that of Shomer, an inmate suffering cruel hardships and the threat of the gas chamber at Auschwitz. And secondly (taking up most of the book) that of 'Wolf' in London, who exists purely in Shomer's imagination.

The book is dark and completed twisted. The vivid descriptions and subject matter are shocking in places, but I found this to be highly addictive reading. I don't often read the historical notes at the back of a book, but I did so in this case, as I wanted to know more about the background of the story.

This isn't your average holocaust-themed book and is certainly not for the faint-hearted. But this is an ideal read if you don't mind graphic and disturbing fiction, and are looking for something very different and completely original.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through Bookbridgr, in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 15 May 2015


is a new Q&A feature on my blog

I am delighted that ANGELA MARSONS is joining me on my blog for my first author interview. Angela is one of my favourite new authors. Both of her DI Kim Stone books - Silent Scream and Evil Games (out on 29th May 2015) - are published by Bookouture. 

So Angela, what inspired you to write a book in the first place?
The first book I wrote was about alcoholism. I was fascinated by the ability of the disease to attach itself to any gender or class. This grew into the novel about a friendship between two very different women who are brought together during their recovery.

Where do your ideas come from?
Normally, they come from a subject that fascinates me. Silent Scream came from my intrigue in a children's home when I was a teenager. Evil Games was born from my interest in the sociopathic personality.

Have your personal experiences influenced your writing? And if so, how?
I think my writing has grown with me. I always wanted to explore emotions and tell stories, but I think now I appreciate the need to treat subjects with the respect they deserve. For example, in Silent Scream I wanted to depict the condition of muscular dystrophy with accuracy and the same with autism in Evil Games. I think earlier in the writing life, I might not have been so diligent.

Describe your writing style in 10 words or less?
Oh, excellent question. I would call it: 'Intensely fast-paced stories with unforgettable characters'.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
Not so much strange habits, but I do like to start a project with a whole new set of exercise books and pencils bought especially for the occasion. I suppose that's just the symbolic start of a whole new journey.

Do you plot out the whole book before you start or just start writing and see where it leads you?
When I start writing I have a vague idea of where I want it to go, but that's subject to change. I love the plot to grow organically as I'm writing the story so that even I don't know where it will end. I once tried planning a book thoroughly and by chapter three I was bored to death. So I knew that method wouldn't work for me.

What do you consider to be the hardest part of your writing?
Tackling difficult subjects but I won't shy away from them because I don't like them. There are scenes that I have found upsetting to write, but I try to treat each subject with sensitivity and respect and without sensationalism.

Do you read? If so, who are your favourite authors?
My favourite authors are Karin Slaughter, Carol O Connell, Val McDermid and a James Patterson now and again.

How has your life changed since becoming a published author?
Oh wow, where to start. I have met so many wonderful people throughout this journey who I now count as good friends. I have been given the unbelievable opportunity to focus on writing full time, which is a dream come true. To be able to call something you do second only to breathing your job is like no feeling on earth. And I even bought an iPhone!

If you were writing a book about your life, what would be the title?
'Mind Your Own Business.' This has been a common thread throughout my life so far. It started at school and has lasted until now. It's a phrase I hear a lot. But I always want to know the details. I want to why, who, how of everything. And it's probably unlikely to change.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Never stop writing and never forget why you do it in the first place. Never allow rejection letters to overshadow your passion to tell a story. Also, there's an old adage - 'Write about what you know'. I'm not sure that's right, especially if you're writing about crime or serial killers! I would advise you to write about something that interests you. It will show in your work.

And lastly, why should people read your next book?
Evil Games features a female sociopath and an epic cat-and-mouse game between two very intelligent women. But has Kim Stone met her match this time?

About Angela Marsons

Angela lives in the Black Country with her partner, their bouncy Labrador and potty-mouthed parrot. Visit Angela's website to learn more or follow her on Twitter.

Read my review of Silent Scream here 

My review of Evil Games will be coming very soon. Here's a taster of my verdict: 
'Evil Games is certainly as good as the first DI Kim Stone book [Silent Scream], if not better, and I wish I could give it a higher rating than 5/5.'

Sunday, 10 May 2015

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

A Place Called Winter
By Patrick Gale
Published by Tinder Press (26 March 2015)
ISBN: 978-1472205292

Publisher's description
In the golden 1900s, Harry Cane, a shy, eligible gentleman of leisure, is drawn from a life of quiet routine into courting and marrying Winnie, eldest daughter of the fatherless Wells clan, who are not quite as respectable as they would appear. They settle by the sea and have a daughter, and conventional marriage does not seem such a tumultuous change after all. When a chance encounter awakens scandalous desires never acknowledged until now, however, Harry is forced to forsake the land and people he loves for a harsh new life as a homesteader on the newly colonised Canadian prairies. There, in a place called Winter, he will come to find a deep love within an alternative family, a love imperiled by war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism.

My verdict
A Place Called Winter is a passionate and powerful novel written by a gifted storyteller. I admit that I haven't read a Patrick Gale book before, but will certainly now be checking out his other novels.

Set in the early 20th century, the book follows the path of a man called Harry Cane.  It's emotional and tragic, with beautiful descriptive passages and sensitive, tender writing. It's a story of forbidden love set against a backdrop of remote Canadian farmlands.

The reader first meets Harry as a patient in a Canadian psychiatric hospital. The book then jumps back and forth in time to uncover the reasons behind his confinement.

Harry is born into a privileged lifestyle in England. He is a shy, gentle man, whose naivety leads him to put too much trust and faith in other people. Following a passionate affair, he is forced to leave his wife and child and seek a new life in Canada.

I read A Place Called Winter in one sitting. This is a moving tale of hardship, violence, determination, betrayal, pride and triumph. It's not always an easy read, but it's certainly a fascinating one.

I received a digital Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, but also treated myself to the hardback as it's such a stunning book (in more ways than one).

Friday, 8 May 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train
By Paula Hawkins
Published by Doubleday (15 January 2015)
ISBN: 978-0857522313

Publisher's description
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cosy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She's even started to feel like she knows them. "Jess and Jason," she called them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves in, but it's enough. Now everything's changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

My verdict
Not many readers of popular fiction won't have heard of The Girl on the Train over the last few months. Following all of the media attention the book has received, I felt that I needed to read it for myself to see what all the fuss is about.

Rachel - the girl on the train - takes the same two journeys every day. To pass the time, she makes up stories about the people she sees on her route, developing an obsession with a particular couple, whom she calls Jess and Jason. The couples' real names are Megan and Scott. They live in the same road as Rachel's ex-husband (Tom), his wife Anna and their baby. When Megan goes missing, Rachel believes that she saw something important on her train journey, but she isn't the most reliable witness.

The Girl on the Train starts off fairly slowly before picking up speed. There are three narrators - Rachel, Megan and Anna. The narrative switches from their different viewpoints and from past to present, and this is clearly marked at the beginning of each chapter/section.

While I enjoyed the book overall, I still couldn't see what all of the hype is about. Yes it's well-written, compulsive reading, but no more than some other psychological thrillers I have read recently (many of which I preferred). The writing really draws you in, and the author has captured Rachel's battle with addiction particularly well.

The Girl on the Train has been compared to Gone Girl and I can see why. The characters are largely unpleasant and/or damaged, which is the draw of both books. In both cases, the story builds up gradually as you read, and there are several twists and turns along the way.

Gone Girl fans will probably love The Girl on the Train - unfortunately I'm not one of them. Yet I would still recommend this book to anyone who also wants to see what the hype is about - they may love The Girl on the Train far more than me. It's a really 'Marmite' book.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Good Girl by Fiona Neill

The Good Girl
By Fiona Neill
Published by Michael Joseph/Penguin (9 April 2015)
ISBN: 978-0718181277

Publisher's description
Fallen in love?
Yet for straight-A student Romy, Ailsa's teenage daughter, there's no escaping the intense attraction she feels towards their youngest son, Jay.

Trusted a stranger?
So when Jay tells Romy his darkest secret, she only wants to help.

Destroyed your family?
But Romy's actions could be the catalyst that tears her world apart...

My verdict
The Good Girl grabbed my attention from the prologue. I was then expecting the book to develop into a psychological thriller, but found it to be a thought-provoking novel instead. It covers controversial and topical issues, particularly teenagers, sex and relationships and the dangers of social media. It's disturbing in places and not a comfortable read.

The book focuses on two very flawed families. I didn't particularly like any of the characters, but then I'm not sure that the reader is meant to. The characters are all troubled in one way or another, leading to complex relationships within (and between) the families themselves.

There are a lot of references to neuroscience and psychology, to explain teenage behaviour and addiction. Although some of this was interesting, at times I felt that it detracted away from the story, slowing it down too much.

Overall, The Good Girl certainly makes you think. It's an intriguing book about privacy and trust, and how actions and events have consequences that may spiral out of control.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher and through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

After the Crash by Michel Bussi

After the Crash
By Michel Bussi
Published by Orion (12 March 2015)
ISBN: 978-0297871422

Publisher's description
On the night of 22 December 1980, a plane crashes on the Franco-Swiss border and is engulfed in flames. 168 out of 169 passengers are killed instantly. The miraculous sole survivor is a three-month-old baby girl. Two families, one rich, the other poor, step forward to claim her, sparking an investigation that will last for almost two decades. Is she Lyse-Rose or Emilie?

Eighteen years later, having failed to discover the truth, private detective Credule Grand-Duc plans to take his own life, but not before placing an account of his investigation in the girl's hands. But, as he sits at his desk, about to pull the trigger, he uncovers a secret that changes everything - then is killed before he can breathe a word of it to anyone...

My verdict
In After the Crash, a baby is the sole survivor of a plane crash. No one can identify exactly who she is, as all photos and medical records were destroyed. She could belong to one of two families as two babies were known to be on board the flight. A private investigator spends 18 years trying to discover the truth.

Overall I enjoyed the book. The story is certainly original and fascinating. It's a little unbelievable in places, with action scenes, murders, bizarre characters etc., and some questions were left unanswered. However, I just went with the flow, determined to discover the baby's identity.

After the Crash has been translated well, although there's a substantial amount of background information at the beginning to wade through. There are some good twists and turns and the identity of the baby came as a surprise.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The Lie by CL Taylor

The Lie
By CL Taylor
Published by Avon (23 April 2015)
ISBN: 978-0007544264

Publisher's description
I know your name's not really Jane Hughes...

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She's happier than she's ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday. But what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put the past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won't stop until they've destroyed Jane and everything she loves...

My verdict
The Lie is a creepy intense thriller filled with twists and turns.

This is the story of four young women. Five years ago, their fragile friendships were put to the test on a holiday to Nepal, as they were sucked into a horrifying experience. In the present day, Jane has changed her name and made a new life for herself in Wales. But the past is now coming back to haunt her. Someone knows the truth and she no longer knows who to trust.

The story switches between the present day in Wales and the past in Nepal. All four women are believable characters, although not necessarily likeable. The author describes the ups and downs of their complex relationships brilliantly, and shows just how easy it is for the bonds of friendship to be manipulated and severed so quickly.

I read The Lie in two sittings and found it difficult to put down. This book gripped me from the first page and left me exhausted, emotional and on edge by the end.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Welcome To Wherever You Are by John Marrs

Welcome To Wherever You Are
by John Marrs
Sold by Amazon (1 May 2015)

Publisher's description
How far would you run to escape your past?

For eight strangers in a Los Angeles backpacking hostel, even the other side of the world isn't far enough.

The craving for a new identity and the chance to start again is something they have in common. But the search for a fresh start isn't as easy as they'd imagined.

And they soon discover that it doesn't matter where you are or who you are - if you can't lay the past to rest, coincidence, fate and deception have a way of catching up with you when you least expect it.

My verdict
I loved John Marr's first book The Wronged Sons. Yet again he has scored a winner.

Welcome To Wherever You Are consists of several interwoven stories of backpackers staying at the Venice Beach International Hostel in Los Angeles. Each of these fascinating characters has secrets that are gradually revealed as the book switches between present and past.

The story is filled with little clues about who the people are and why they find themselves at the hostel. With short chapters and snappy dialogue, the author teasingly pulls the reader along with carefully worded snippets of information. I couldn't put the book down, and loved it from start to finish. All of the characters are really well developed and the intricate plot is so well constructed, something many other authors fail to achieve successfully.

As the story progresses, there's more and more interaction between some of the different characters in the past and present. The book is shocking in places, but still fantastic. Revelations just keep on coming. Some I suspected while others were a complete surprise.

Welcome To Wherever You Are is sheer brilliance. I will be recommending it to everyone I know!

I received a preview copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.