Tag Archives: Psychological thriller

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite #BookReview @BCopperthwait @Bookouture

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Book description

There are some secrets you can never tell.

The last thing to go through Dominique Thomas’s head was the image of her teenage daughter’s face and her heart lifted. Then the shot rang out.

They were the perfect family. Successful businessman Ben Thomas and his wife Dominique live an enviable life, along with their beautiful children; teenager Ruby and quirky younger daughter, Mouse.

But on Christmas Day the police are called to their London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

But when Ruby’s diary is discovered, revealing her rage at the world around her, police are forced to look closer to home for the key to this tragedy.

Each family member harboured their own dark truths – but has keeping their secrets pushed Ruby to the edge of sanity? Or are there darker forces at work?

My review

This is pretty much how I must have looked when I finished Her Last Secret……

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OMG I must applaud Barbara Copperthwaite what a fabulous and twisted psychological thriller Her Last Secret turned out to be. Christmas is a time for families, to make memories, surrounded by unwrapped presents and feeling uncomfortable from eating too much rich food, but then I picked up Her Last Secret and all those Cosy thoughts were obliterated before I even got to the first chapter. Her Last Secret opens when the police are called to the Thomas’s London home, only to discover a horrific scene; the entire family lying lifeless, victims of an unknown assailant.

The reader is taken back a few days before the tragedy, and through various family member’s POV you learn of the disturbing secrets they kept from each other. The Thomas’s  appear to be the “perfect” family living the “dream”, but then the author peels back the layers and reveals a very different picture, some of the characters turned out to be flawed, weak and very unlikable, this is a family whose life was awash with untold secrets and resentment. Some of the characters I loved and some I loathed but they all had one thing in common at different points through this book I found I didn’t trust any of them, (well apart from the adorable Mouse, who deserves a mention because she was just so damn cute) which made for a very disconcerting read.

I do enjoy a book so much more when I find myself experiencing numerous emotions throughout the read, and even better when the emotions are ones I wasn’t expecting to feel. There are many  emotive themes running through this book, you can’t help but feel overwhelming  saddness at what happens  when you are unable to share your thoughts and fears  with those closest to you.

This isn’t a fast paced book by any means, but I’m glad it wasn’t as Barbara Copperthwaite spends time intricately unravelling the mysteries of this family, which in turn heightens the suspense of what’s to come, you know it’s going to be bad, but to the why and wherefore’s, well let’s just say they were definitely worth the wait. I do enjoy a book that challenges me to guess the outcome, just when I thought I had it all figured out Barbara Copperthwaite threw an almighty curveball that left me reeling. Shocking, sad and very twisted this is definitely a book I would highly recommend.

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 408 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (13 Oct. 2017)

 

The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland #BookExtract @ShaliniBoland @Bookouture

 

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This evening I’m thrilled to be part of a group of bloggers who are sharing an extract of The Secret Mother by Shalini Boland. The Secret Mother is published by the fabulous Bookouture on the 9th November 2017, but you can pre-order right now so I’ve included the link futher down this post. Before you read the extract I’ve included a book description of The Secret Mother for you all.

Book description

Tessa Markham comes home to find a child in her kitchen calling her ‘mummy’. But Tessa doesn’t have any children.

Not anymore.

She doesn’t know who the little boy is or how he got there.

After contacting the police, Tessa comes under suspicion for snatching the child. She must fight to prove her innocence. But how can she convince everyone she’s not guilty when even those closest to her are questioning the truth? And when Tessa doesn’t even trust herself…

A chilling, unputdownable thriller with a dark twist that will take your breath away and make you wonder if you can ever trust anyone again. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Sister.

Buying links:     Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

What readers are saying about Shalini Boland:

‘Read in one sitting from 9pm last night until 2:15 am. I literally could not put it down!!!! The story line and the twists and the way it’s written just draws you in completely and you have to know where it’s going I couldn’t read fast enough… absolutely addictive and brilliant and an end I didn’t see coming. This is one book you have to read and it gets 5 huge stars from me!!!!’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

‘What can I say? Just wow. I’m usually never surprised by an ending, but this one blew me away. I am totally in shock and think I’ll have a hangover from this book for a while. A great read that keeps you on your toes until the very last word.’ Stacey Harrell, Goodreads

‘If anyone can have me reading until 2am and finishing a book in less than 48hrs in the school holidays it’s this author… massive five stars from me.’ Sarah Mackins, UK Crime Book Club, 5 stars

‘The ending of this book blew me out of the water, you won’t be able to put this down.’ For the Love of Books, 5 stars

‘The plot is gripping and once you’ve started reading, you have to keep on reading, you need to know how the story will end.’ Bits About Books, 5 Stars

‘… one of the most chilling reads of the year for me.’Ajoobacats Blog, 5 Stars

‘This book should come with a warning… make sure you have enough time to read it in one-sitting because as soon as you’ll pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down!’ Bookishly Ever After, 5 stars

‘This is a brilliant psychological thriller. In fact, it’s one of the best I’ve read. It is full of suspense and has more twists and turns than a fairground ride.’ Jackie Roche, UK Crime Book Club, 5 Stars

‘I thought I knew the direction this story was going go. Then the jaw dropping moment happened!… unputdownable!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 Stars

‘Once again, Boland has managed to blow my mind with all the twists and turns… an outstanding explosive read!’ Mello and June, 5 Stars

‘Great book. I read it in less than 24 hours. I was unable to put it down. The story was fast paced and intriguing.’ Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

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THE SECRET MOTHER
By
Shalini Boland

Chapter One

The street lamps flicker, illuminating the grey pavement mottled with patches of dirty snow and slick black ice. Slushy puddles hug the kerb, cringing away from the hissing, splashing car tyres. It takes all my concentration to keep my balance. My hands would be warmer if I jammed them into my coat pockets, but I need them free to steady myself on walls, fences, tree trunks, lamp posts. I don’t want to fall. And yet would it really be so terrible if I slipped on the ice? Wet jeans, a bruised bum. Not the end of the world. There are worse things. Far worse things.

It’s Sunday: the last exhale of the week. That uncomfortable pause before Monday, when it all starts up again – this lonely pretence at life. Sunday has become a black dot on the horizon for me, growing larger each day. I’m relieved now it’s almost over and yet I’m already anticipating the next one. The day when I visit the cemetery and stand above their graves, staring at the grass and stone, talking to them both, wondering if they hear my inane chatter or if I’m simply talking into the empty wind. In burning sunlight, pouring rain, sub-zero temperatures or thick fog I stand there. Every week. I’ve never missed a Sunday yet.

Sleet spatters my face. Icy needles that make me blink and gasp. Finally, I turn off the high street into my narrow road, where it’s more sheltered and the wind less violent. A rainbow assortment of overflowing bins lines my route, waiting for collection tomorrow at some ungodly pre-dawn hour. I turn my face away from the windows where Christmas tree lights wink and blink, reminding me of happier Christmases. Before.
Almost home.

My little north London terraced house sits halfway along the road. Pushing open the rusted gate, I turn my face away from the neglected front garden with its discarded sweet wrappers and crisp packets blown in from the street, now wedged among long tussocks of grass and overgrown bushes. I thrust my frozen fingers into my bag until they finally close around a jagged set of keys. I’m glad to be home, to get out of the cold, and yet my body sags when I open the door and step into the dark silence of the hall, feeling the hollow of their absence.

At least it’s warm in here. I shrug off my coat, kick off my boots, dump my bag on the hall table and switch on the light, avoiding my sad reflection in the hall mirror. A glass of wine would be welcome about now. I glance at my watch – only 5.20. No. I’ll be good and make a hot chocolate instead.

Strangely, the door to the kitchen is closed. This strikes me as odd, as I always leave it open. Perhaps a gust of wind slammed it shut when I came in. I trudge to the end of the hall and stop. Through a gap in the bottom of the door I see that the light is on. Someone’s in there. I catch my breath, feel the world slow down for a moment before it speeds back up. Could I have a burglar in my house?
I cock my ear. A sound filters through. Humming. A child is humming a tune in my kitchen. But I don’t have a child. Not any more.

Slowly I pull down the handle and push the door, my body tensing. I hardly dare breathe.
Here before me sits a little boy with dark hair, wearing pale blue jeans and a green cable-knit jumper. A little boy aged about five or six, perched on a chair at my kitchen counter, humming a familiar tune. Head down, he is intent on his drawing, colouring pencils spread out around an A4 sheet of paper. A navy raincoat hangs neatly over the back of the chair.

He looks up as I enter the room, his chocolate-brown eyes wide. We stare at one another for a moment.
‘Are you my mummy?’ the little boy asks.
I bite my bottom lip, feel the ground shift. I grasp the counter top to steady myself. ‘Hello,’ I say, my heart suddenly swelling. ‘Hello. And who might you be?’
‘You know. I’m Harry,’ he replies. ‘Do you like my picture?’ He holds the sheet out in front of him, showing me his drawing of a little boy and a woman standing next to a train. ‘It’s not finished. I haven’t had time to colour it in properly,’ he explains.
‘It’s lovely, Harry. Is that you standing next to the train?’
‘Yes.’ He nods. ‘It’s you and me. I drew it for you because you’re my mummy.’

Am I hallucinating? Have I finally gone crazy? This beautiful little boy is calling me his mummy. And yet I don’t know him. I’ve never seen him before in my life. I close my eyes tight and then open them again. He’s still there, looking less confident now. His hopeful smile has faltered, slipping into a frown. His eyes are now a little too bright. I know that look – it’s the one that precedes tears.
‘Hey, Harry,’ I say with false jollity. ‘So you like trains, huh?’
His smile returns. ‘Steam trains are the best. Better than diesels.’ He scrunches up his face in disgust and blinks.
‘Did you come here on the train? To my house?’
‘No. We came on the bus. I wish we did come on the train, the bus was really slow. And it made me feel a bit sick.’ He lays the sheet of paper back on the counter.
‘And who did you come with?’ I ask.
‘The angel.’
I think I must have misheard him. ‘Who?’
‘The angel brought me here. She told me that you’re my mummy.’
‘The angel?’
He nods.

I glance around, suddenly aware that Harry might not be the only stranger in my house. ‘Is she here now?’ I ask in a whisper. ‘Is there someone else here with you?’
‘No, she’s gone. She told me to do some drawing and you’d be here soon.’
I relax my shoulders, relieved that there’s no one else in my home. But it still doesn’t help me solve the problem of who this little boy is. ‘How did you get into the house?’ I ask, nervously wondering if I might find a smashed window somewhere.
‘Through the front door, silly,’ he replies with a smile, rolling his eyes.
Through the front door? Did I leave it open somehow? I’m sure I would never have done that. What’s going on here? I should call someone. The authorities. The police. Somebody will be looking for this child. They will be frantic with worry. ‘Would you like a hot chocolate, Harry?’ I ask, keeping my voice as calm as possible. ‘I was going to make one for myself, so—’
‘Do you make it with milk?’ he interrupts. ‘Or with hot water? It’s definitely nicer with milk.’
I suppress a smile. ‘I agree, Harry. I always make it with milk.’
‘Okay. Yes, please,’ he replies. ‘Hot chocolate would be lovely.’
My heart squeezes at his politeness.
‘Shall I carry on colouring in my picture,’ he says, ‘or shall I help you? Because I’m really good at stirring in the chocolate.’
‘Well, that’s lucky,’ I reply, ‘because I’m terrible at stirring in the chocolate, so it’s a good thing you’re here to help me.’
He grins and slides off the stool.

What am I doing? I need to call the police right now. This child is missing from somewhere. But, oh God, just give me ten minutes with this sweet little boy who believes I’m his mother. Just a few moments of make-believe and then I’ll do the right thing. I reach out to touch his head and immediately snatch my hand back. What am I thinking? This boy has to go back to his real mother; she must be paralysed with worry.

He smiles up at me again and my chest constricts.
‘Okay,’ I say, taking a breath and blinking back any threat of tears. ‘We’ll do the chocolate in a minute. I’m just going to make a quick phone call in the hall, okay?’
‘Oh, okay.’
‘Carry on with your drawing for a little while. I won’t be long.’
He climbs back up onto the stool and selects a dark green pencil before resuming his colouring with a look of serious concentration. I turn away and pad out to the hall, where I retrieve my phone from my bag. But instead of dialling the police, I call another number. It rings twice.
‘Tess.’ The voice at the other end of the line is clipped, wary.
‘Hi, Scott. I need you to come over.’
‘What? Now?’
‘Yes. Please, it’s important.’
‘Tessa, I’m knackered, and it’s hideous out there. I’ve just sat down with a cup of tea. Can’t it wait till tomorrow?’
‘No.’ Standing by the hall table, I glimpse Harry through the doorway, the curls of his fringe flopping over one eye. Am I dreaming him?
‘What’s the matter?’ Scott says this the way he always says it. What he really means is, What’s the matter now? Because there’s always something the matter. I’m his damaged wife, who’s always having some new drama or make-believe crisis. Only this time he’ll see it’s something real, it’s something not of my making.
‘I can’t tell you over the phone, it’s too weird. You have to come over, see for yourself.’
His sigh comes long and hard down the phone. ‘Give me twenty minutes, okay?’
‘Okay. Thanks, Scott. Get here as soon as you can.’

My heart pounds, trying to make sense of what’s happening. That little boy in there says an angel brought him. He says I’m his mummy. But he’s not mine. So where on earth did he come from?
I take a breath and go back into the kitchen. The air is warm, welcoming, cosy. Nothing like the usual sterile atmosphere in here.
‘Can we make hot chocolate now?’ Harry looks up with shining eyes.
‘Of course. I’ll get the mugs and the chocolate. You open that drawer over there and pass me the smallest pan you can find.’
He eagerly does as I ask.

‘Harry,’ I say. ‘Where are your parents, your mummy and daddy?’
He stares at the pans in the drawer.
‘Harry?’ I prompt.
‘They’re not here,’ he replies. ‘Is this one small enough?’ He lifts out a stainless-steel milk pan and waves it in my direction.
‘Perfect.’ I nod and take it from him. ‘Can you tell me where you live?’
No reply.
‘Did you run away from home? Are you lost?’
‘No.’
‘But where’s your house or flat? The place you live? Is it here in Friern Barnet? In London? Close to my house?’
He scowls and looks down at the flagstone floor.
‘Do you have a last name?’ I ask as gently as I can.
He looks up at me, his chin jutting out. ‘No.’
I try again, crouching down so I’m on his level. ‘Harry, darling, what’s your mummy’s name?’
‘You’re my new mummy. I have to stay here now.’ His bottom lip quivers.
‘Okay, sweetie. Don’t worry. Let’s just make our drinks, shall we?’
He nods vigorously and sniffs.

I give his hand a squeeze and straighten up. I wish I hadn’t had to call Scott. And yet I need him to be here when I ring the police. I can’t deal with them on my own, not after what happened before. I’m dreading their arrival – the questions, the sideways glances, the implication that I might have done something wrong. I haven’t done anything wrong, though. Have I?
And Harry… he’ll be taken away. What if his parents have been abusive? What if he has to go into foster care? A thousand thoughts run through my mind, each worse than the one before. But it’s not my place to decide what happens to him. There’s nothing I can do about any of it, because he’s not mine.
I don’t have a child. Not any more.

About the author

Shalini Boland lives in Dorset, England with her husband, two children and their cheeky terrier cross. Before kids, she was signed to Universal Music Publishing as a singer/songwriter, but now she spends her days writing psychological thrillers (in between school runs and hanging out endless baskets of laundry).

THE SECRET MOTHER (published by Bookouture) is now available to pre-order!

Shalini’s debut psychological thriller THE GIRL FROM THE SEA reached No 1 in the US Audible charts and No 7 in the UK Kindle charts. Her second thriller THE BEST FRIEND reached no 2 in the US Audible charts and No 10 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts. It also achieved number 1 in all its categories and was a Kindle All Star title for several months in a row. Shalini’s recent release THE MILLIONAIRE’S WIFE reached No 9 in the Kindle UK charts.

Be the first to hear about her new releases here: http://eepurl.com/b4vb45

Shalini is also the author of two bestselling Young Adult series as well as an atmospheric WWII novel with a time-travel twist.

http://www.facebook.com/ShaliniBolandAuthor
http://www.shaliniboland.co.uk
https://twitter.com/ShaliniBoland

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**Blog Tour** Lily Alone Author interview with Vivien Brown @VivBrownAuthor @HarperImpulse

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Today I’m thrilled to welcome Vivien Brown author of Lily Alone to the book review café as part of the blog tour for this very intriguing book.  You can buy the kindle edition today or it’s out in paperback on the 5th October 2017. Lily Alone is described as a gripping and emotional drama and is published by HarperImpulse. So without further ado here is my interview with Vivien Brown

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Hi Vivien and welcome to the book review café for those readers who haven’t yet heard of you or your book Lily Alone, can you provide us with an introduction? 

Lily Alone is published by Harper Impulse in paperback on 5 October. ebook also available.

Would you leave a very young child at home on their own – knowing that terrible things can happen in the blink of an eye? Lily, who is not yet three years old, wakes up alone with only her cuddly toy for company. She is hungry, afraid of the dark, can’t use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers…

In the flat downstairs, a lonely and elderly woman keeps herself to herself but wonders at the cries coming from upstairs. Lily’s grandmother frets that she can no longer see her granddaughter since the child’s parents separated. Lily’s father hasn’t seen her for a while. He’s been abroad, absorbed in his new job and his new girlfriend…

A young woman lies in a coma in hospital – no one knows her name or who she is, but in her silent 
dreams, a little girl is crying for her mummy…

And for Lily, time is running out.

Where did the idea for Lily Alone come from?

I worked with very young children for many years and loved spending time with them, especially seeing them develop and grow in independence and confidence. But how would a child manage to cope without an adult to love them, protect them, and keep them safe? And what if neighbours just turned a blind eye, not wanting to get involved? We so often hear stories about children being neglected, abused, or having to be taken into care. Lily Alone came out of a combination of all those things.

What was the hardest part of writing of Lily Alone? 

Getting the research right! Writing about relationships and emotions comes easily as I have been writing romance and family stories for women’s magazines for a very long time. But with this novel I had to go into much more detail – about what a three year old can and can’t do, and about medical and social services procedures. Having daughters working in those two professions was a great help.

Do you have any strange writing habits or rituals?

I do like to have exactly the right pen. Even though I write straight to a laptop these days, there are still notes to be made, and I just can’t do it well unless the pen looks and feels right. No fountain pens with messy ink cartridges, and definitely no cheap scratchy see-through biros!

Have you always wanted to be an author, and when did you first realise you wanted to write?

English was my favourite subject at school, and I had the encouragement of a very inspirational teacher called Mr Shearn. I started writing poetry when I was about fifteen, then slowly progressed into fiction, but it was always just a hobby, and I never considered it as a potential paying job. If universities had been offering creative writing degrees back then things might have been different, but I went to work in a bank, and writing stayed in the background for a long time – although it never went away!

Do you write an outline before you start writing? 

I struggle to plan. Editors tend to require a synopsis so I force myself to write one but the finished book looks nothing like that original concept. I know what kind of story I am trying to tell and have a vague notion of the ending I want to reach, but characters develop as I write about them, and things happen on the page that I did not see coming!

How long did it take to get your first book published?

My first novel, Losing Lucy, written under my former name of Vivien Hampshire, took a couple of years to write, and was the subject of my then monthly column in Writers Forum magazine called Book Deal or Bust. Readers followed my progress as I wrote and edited it and tried to get an agent or publisher. In the end, I self-published, and it did get some very good reviews, but I am so happy to have a traditional publishing deal this time around.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Lily Alone passed through the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writers Scheme, meaning I got a full critique from an anonymous published romance author. That was not a good experience for me as the reader clearly hated the book and everything about it. Her negativity could well have put me off completely and consigned the book to the bin, but I asked for a second opinion and the next critique could not have been more encouraging! The best compliment was having the book accepted by first an agent and then by Harper Impulse who wanted to publish it. It just shows that everyone has different opinions and tastes, and it has taught me to take the occasional poor review with a pinch of salt!

What’s the best bit about being an author? and what’s the worse bit?

Being my own boss is great! Working from home, not having to battle the traffic or beg for days off, and being able to write anywhere – by the fire in winter, in the garden on a sunny day, by the pool on holiday, in bed… There really are no worse bits.

And to finish off a couple of quick ones 

Favourite book?

I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh. Tense and surprising!

Favourite author?

Jane Austen, although I do cheat and watch the TV and film adaptations too!

Favourite holiday destination?

The Caribbean, or a nice English country cottage near the sea for shorter trips closer to home

And finally can you describe yourself in five words?

Creative. Solitary. Determined. Home-loving. Granny.

Thank you Vivien for answering my questions and lots of luck with Lily Alone

Thanks so much for having me on the blog today. I hope your readers will take a look at Lily Alone and let me know what they think!

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

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Vivien Brown lives in Uxbridge, Middlesex, with her husband and two cats. For most of her life she has immersed herself in words – as an avid reader, writer, poet, library outreach worker, storyteller, gifter of Bookstart packs to babies and toddlers, creative writing tutor and crossword fanatic.

She enjoys dipping into dictionaries and exploring the meaning of words, and watching and/or taking part in TV quiz shows. In the evenings she loves nothing more than losing herself in a good book, a compelling TV drama or her regular supply of women’s magazine short stories – which all help to provide inspiration and ideas for her own fiction. ‘Lily Alone’ is her debut novel.

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The Surrogate by Louise Jensen #BookReview @Fab_fiction @bookouture

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Today I’m thrilled to be one of the two stops on The Surrogate by Louise Jensen blog tour. Don’t be fooled by the cover, this is one twisted psychological thriller that I devoured in a couple of sittings. The Surrogate in case you didn’t know is published by the fabulous Bookouture and it was published yesterday (27th September) so you don’t even have to wait to get your hands on a copy, just pop over to Amazon and “click”.

Don’t forget to check out Jen’s (fellow book blogger and partner in crime) review over at https://jenmedsbookreviews.com/

Book description

‘You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…

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My review

Ever since I read Louise Jensen’s debut The Sister I’ve been a huge fan of her writing, but OMG The Surrogate her latest and most adventurous book yet puts her firmly on my list of “must read” authors. The Surrogate’s title misled me, I thought it would be a “heart warming” tale, but how wrong could I be! It turned out to be dark and very twisted tale, one that’s  shrouded in lies, buried secrets and betrayal I really think this is the authors best book yet and it definitely one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read this year.

The Surrogate starts so innocently Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream. What appears to be the perfect arrangement soon turns into something much darker, phew the sense of malice radiates from the pages early on and this increases as the plot becomes more complex.

There were numerous characters in The Surrogate but what a dysfunctional bunch they turned out to be. I couldn’t help sympathising with Kat’s plight, I can’t begin to imagine the heartbreak, the emotions and the feelings of failure woman like Kat go through, so desperate are they to have children. I love a book where you find it impossible to trust any of the characters, and I found I couldn’t trust any of them, rather like the main character Kat I found paranoia kicking in as my mistrust of each character grew. Each character seems to be hiding something and I wasn’t wrong, when these secrets begin to surface I found myself lost for words. The Surrogate is told in two time frames and I do enjoy a book that moves between the past and the present, when it’s done well I find it heightens the mystery and suspense as you are never quite sure when the two will collide and Louise Jensen makes sure the two collide in the most shocking and spectacular fashion.

Full of twists and turns I found my head spinning, from the opening chapter I felt a sense of dread that stayed with me until I reached the heart stopping conclusion. The ending may have seemed a little far fetched but when I read a book especially one that holds so many surprises I’m happy to suspend disbelief and “go with the flow”. For me personally a psychological thriller has to have an element of surprise a “OMG” moment, The Surrogate has lots of theses moments and I literally read this book in one sitting. Would I recommend this book? It’s a huge and definite “yes” from me.

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 374 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (27 Sept. 2017)

About the author

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Louise is a USA Today Bestselling Author, and lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat.

Louise’s first two novels, The Sister and The Gift, were both International No.1 Bestsellers, and have been sold for translation to sixteen countries. The Sister was nominated for The Goodreads Awards Debut of 2016. Louise ‘s third psychological thriller, The Surrogate, can be pre-ordered now and will be published in September.

Louise loves to hear from readers and writers and can be found at http://www.louisejensen.co.uk, where she regularly blogs flash fiction.

Follow the blog tour………

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**Blog Tour** The House by Simon Lelic @PenguinUKBooks #BookReview

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Today I am delighted to be hosting The House blog tour. The House is written by Simon Lelic and will be published by Viking Books in paperback on 3rd November 2017. If you can’t wait until then, the eBook version is available now.

 

Book description

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

My review

Moving into your dream home should be the happiest of times right? Wrong!, take Jack and Syd ,their dream home turns into there worse nightmare. This is going to be one of those reviews that may seem vague but in truth it’s a difficult book to review without giving away major spoilers. The one thing I will say is the book description very much leads the reader in the wrong direction, of course the house is pinnacle to the plot, but this novel has far much more to offer. Although the descriptions of the house provide the reader with a creepy and atmospheric setting, it’s the undertone of malevolence that made this novel such a compelling and disturbing read.

The story is narrated in the alternating perspectives of Syd and Jack, the author chooses to narrate The House in a very distinctive style concentrating on the perspectives of Jack and Syd told in the style of a journal. To begin with I found this style of writing difficult to follow at first it appears to be a hotchpotch of memories, thoughts and events. As I got use to the style of writing I found it was actually a very effective ploy as we learn about the backgrounds and personalities of the couple, as well as the progressively mysterious and creepy events that start to take place in their home. It’s only when you reach the second half of the book you realise just how cleverly Simon Lelic has misdirected the reader.

The House has a very gothic feel to it which certainly puts the reader on edge, the sounds, the smells and the secrets hidden within the house add to the anxiety I felt as a reader. I would never have guessed where this novel was heading as the author always manages to keep one step ahead, which I find always heightens my enjoyment of a book. I do love the unexpected and this book certainly has plenty of those “OMG” moments, there were so many twist and turns my head was spinning. This is the first book I have read by Simon Lelic and I’m impressed, The House is complex, creepy full of surprises and definitely a book I would recommend if you like a twisted thriller.

Print Length: 342 pages

Publisher: Penguin (17 Aug. 2017)

Buying links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

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I was born in Brighton in 1976 and, after a decade or so living in London and trying to convince myself that the tube was fine, really, because it gave me a chance to read, my wife and I moved back to Brighton with our three young children. That Barnaby, Joseph and Anja’s grandparents happened to live close enough by to be able to offer their babysitting services was, of course, entirely coincidental.

As well as writing, I run an import/export business. I say this, when people ask, with a wink but I fool no one: I am more Del Trotter than Howard Marks. My hobbies (when I have time for them) include reading (for which I make time, because I can just about get away with claiming this is also work), golf, tennis, snowboarding and karate. My weekends belong to my family (or so my wife tells me), as does my heart.

I studied history at the University of Exeter. After graduating I was qualified, I discovered . . . to do an MA. After that I figured I had better learn something useful, so took a post-grad course in journalism. I know, I know: so much for learning something useful. After working freelance and then in business-to-business publishing, I now write novels. Not useful either, necessarily, but fun and, in its own way, important.

Links to the author: Website     Twitter

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#SheDidIt by Mel Sherratt #BookReview @writermels & author interview

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Today I’m thrilled to have Mel Sherratt pop by and answer some questions about her new psychological thriller She Did It, which is published tomorrow and it’s a book I would highly recommend. So without further ado here’s my interview with the awesome Mel Sherratt……IMG_2790

Hi Mel and welcome back to the book review cafe I’m thrilled to have you here, and can I just say how much I enjoyed She Did It. 

For those readers who haven’t yet heard of you or your book She Did It can you provide us with an introduction.

Hi Lorraine – great to be back. Thanks for having me. I write novels that take you to the heart of the crime. I write psychological suspense, and crime dramas – fiction with a punch.

She Did It is my eleventh crime book, but my second straight psychological thriller. In a nutshell, it’s about two women – one is a murderer and the other one knows. It’s about whose blames who.

Where did the idea for She Did It come from?

I had an idea back in 2014 but was already contracted to write other books so it had to go on the backburner for a while. It started off around the idea of two couples – one of the four is murdered and the other three are all lying to cover everything up. From this it became two women. I do have a strong urge to write that first idea now though.

What was the hardest part of writing She Did It?

It’s the same with every book. When I am drafting out a book, I want to be editing and when I am editing, I want to be working on something new. It’s all hard work – I procrastinate terribly at times. I just have to sit down and do it. There is something great about getting to end of that first messy draft though.

Oh, actually there is a hard part – trying to keep everything in my head, say, when I am 60% through a rewrite and can’t remember everything I have changed.

In She Did It you mention book bloggers and social media. How important do you think both are for authors? 

For me personally, having been a book blogger for four years before being published, I think they are a crucial part of the industry. Book bloggers are so passionate and give up their free time for no more than their love of books. They share their own work, as well as their fellow bloggers, and push awareness about a book around publication time, and afterwards too. I’ve had some fantastic reviews from lots of them. I love the crowd of book bloggers I know and have had the pleasure of meeting a lot of them too.

Why did you decide to write a psychological thriller, rather than “grit lit”?

As I’ve now written fourteen books, my writing style has inevitably changed as I’ve grown. I really enjoyed writing Watching over You – it’s my most controversial book – and for a long time, I wanted to write something different again. One of the characters in She Did It, Esther, wouldn’t leave me alone. When I finally got the chance to sit down and write, her story poured out of me.

I also wanted to write something that was based in a place where most people would know (it’s set in London.) Don’t worry, though, as my love of grit lit will never go. I have the first in a new police procedural series coming out next year. It’s set in my hometown of Stoke-on-Trent and has a serial killer in it. So, there will be plenty of the dark stuff.

Do you have any strange writing habits or rituals?

Only that I have to have new notepad for each book. It’s more about stationery porn really. I can’t walk past a stationer’s without going in and buying at least one notepad. I have a lot of them that I will never use as they are too nice to spoil! (They aren’t really.) One can never have enough notepads, I say.

Have you always wanted to be an author, and when did you first realise you wanted to write?

Yes, for as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to write books. I moved house last year and my mum’s best friend came to see us and as I showed her my office, she said she remembered when I was 9 and she had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said an author then. It took me a fair few years to realize my childhood dream!

Do you write an outline before you start writing? 

Yes, I write a brief story arc for each main character, and then I marry them all together and start writing. I write a very quick and dirty draft (I call it draft zero) of around 50,000 words to get to know the story and the characters and then I do several more drafts to add words, fill in the gaps etc. Things always evolve and the middle might change, but the beginning and endings tend to stay pretty much the same.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Gosh, writing gritty realism gets me a lot of poor reviews. I am used to them now, and think of them as only one person’s point of view. I have over 2000 reviews on Amazon – 85% are 5 star and 4 star but it’s the one star vindictive ones that get to me, especially when a new book goes out. When The Girls Next Door was published last year, one reader who had the book for free gave me a one star on publication day because she hadn’t liked it. It was like someone blowing candles out on my birthday cake! I know I can’t please all of the people all of the time, so now I let it ride over me.

My best compliment is when a reader says they don’t want the book to end as there will be a wait for my next one, and also that they can see it as a TV program as my characters seems so real. That’s awesome for me.

Rapid five

Can you describe yourself in five words? 

Sincere, sensitive, driven, friendly, Northerner.

Favourite food?

Spaghetti bolognaise.

Favourite drink?

Peach schnapps and vodka.

Favourite place?

Kefalos, Kos. My home from home, I’ve been there so many times.

Favourite book? 

Misery, Stephen King.

Thank you Mel for answering my questions and good luck with She Did It, although not that you need it I’m sure it’s going to do really well. 

About the author

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My novels take you to the heart of the crime. I write police procedurals, psychological suspense and crime dramas – fiction with a punch. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, my inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes.

Since 2012, all ten of my crime novels have been bestsellers, each one climbing into the kindle UK top 20 and I’ve had several number ones. I’ve also had numerous Kindle All-star awards, for best read author and best titles.

DETECTIVE EDEN BERRISFORD works in a community intelligence team and helps to gather information and intel for investigations. THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR is the first book, followed by DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU.

TAUNTING THE DEAD is part police procedural/part psychological thriller. It was a standalone for two years but I have now written two more books with Detective Sergeant Allie Shenton as a main character to create a trilogy. FOLLOW THE LEADER is book two and ONLY THE BRAVE is book three.

THE ESTATE SERIES are a mix of psychological suspense and family life with a sprinkling of grit and a dash of menace – where drama meets crime. There are four at the moment, available individually or you can read the first three as a box set. WRITTEN IN THE SCARS, is the latest in the series to be published.

WATCHING OVER YOU is a standalone psychological thriller. It’s dark in places, light in places, disturbing in places too – where obsession and friendship turn into murder.

I also write women’s fiction under the pen name of Marcie Steele. Stirred with Love, The Little Market Stall of Hope and Heartbreak and The Second Chance Shoe Shop are out now.

I live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with my husband and terrier, Dexter (named after the TV serial killer) and make liberal use of my hometown as a backdrop for some of my books. You can find out more at my website http://www.melsherratt.co.uk or I’m on Twitter at @writermels

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Book description

Work colleague. Friend. Killer.
A successful businesswoman, Tamara enjoys her champagne lifestyle to the full. At least, that is the front she displays to the world. As well as being lonely, she’s running out of money. A promising new member of staff brings the injection of fresh blood needed to win the contract that will turn things around.

Working for Tamara is a perfect ruse for Esther. But, along with fake references and qualifications, she also has a plan for revenge.

 

Sensing Tamara’s vulnerability, Esther uses their acquaintance as a way of getting close to someone who hurt her in the past.
Tamara is keeping things secret. Esther has a dark side she is trying to hide. For both of them, lying is a habit.

But when mistakes begin to catch up with Esther, and people start dying, Tamara realises she’s chosen the wrong person to trust as a friend.

My review

I’m a huge fan of Mel Sherratt’s and love her style of writing, She Did It is very much a psychological thriller and errs away from the “grit lit” I’m used to reading by this author, but OMG I’m not going to beat about the bush and it’s going to sound cliched but this is definitely her best book yet. She Did It has all the elements I look for in a psychological thriller, unreliable characters, a plot that messes with the head, and a constant sense of intrigue and malice that keeps the reader on their toes.

From the beginning I became very suspicious of the two main characters Tamara and Esther, different as chalk and cheese they come together to launch and promote a novel for Dulston publishing. It soon becomes apparent Esther is using the work as a ploy to get close to someone who hurt her in the past. On first appearances both women appear vulnerable and fragile, their friendship appears to thrive, unfortunately it’s a friendship based on lies and manipulation, never a good thing in my opinion. Whilst reading She Did It I couldn’t help but thinking there was something sinister a foot and I questioned which of the two women were the more reliable, although at time I must admit I was convinced neither were to be trusted.

Like any good psychological thriller this isn’t a fast paced read, instead the author spends the time enticing the reader with her unreliable characters and slow revealing plot, I found myself constantly wondering where the plot was leading but Mel Sherratt plays her cards close to her chest and reveals just enough to maintain the suspense throughout this gripping book. She Did it is a tale of lies, deceit and misdirection, a constant sense of foreboding makes this an impossible book to put down. Would I recommend this book? You bet I would and I’m already waiting for Mel Sherratt’s next book with baited breath.

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 162 pages

Publisher: Blood Red Books (19 Sept. 2017)

 

Copy Cat by Alex Lake #BookReview @Alexlakeauthor @KillerReads @HarperCollinsUK @flisssity

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Book description

Your stalker is everywhere.
Your stalker knows everything.
But the real problem is that your stalker is you.

Sarah Havenant discovers–when an old friend points it out–that there are two Facebook profiles in her name.

One, she recognizes: it is hers. The other, she has never seen. But everything in it is accurate. Recent photos of her and her friends, her and her husband, her and her kids. Even of her new kitchen. A photo taken inside her house.

She is bemused, angry, and worried. Who was able to do this? Any why?

But this, it soon turns out, is just the beginning. It is only now–almost as though someone has been watching, waiting for her to find the profile–that her problems really start…

My review

Imagine if someone set up a fake Facebook profile in your name, not only that but they posted up to date photographs of your family and inside your home, and wrote things about your life, things only the closest people to you would know, I know it would seriously freak me out! This is pretty much the premise for Copy Cat. From the opening chapter when Sarah Havenant comes across her fake profile she soon realises it’s not an elaborate joke or a mistake, it’s deliberate, she has a stalker who will go to extraordinary lengths to terrorise her and make her life a living nightmare. If you thought the Facebook profile seems creepy, it’s gets a whole lot worse for Sarah.

The short chapters told by an unknown narrator made for a riveting read, full of venom it’s obvious the person is holding a huge grudge, they won’t be happy until they’ve ruined Sarah’s life, as you read more of these chapters you realise this is one seriously warped Individual. As her family and friends begin to doubt her Sarah’s life begins to unravel in the most spectacular fashion, what follows is a very tense and disconcerting read. as to the whom? and Why? Alex Lake weaves an intricate and chilling tale and keeps the reader very much in suspense until the last few chapters. With a large array of suspects, this is one of those novels where you find yourself getting paranoid about each and every character, conjuring up motives at every opportunity.

When I first picked up Copy Cat I thought it had similarities to Friends Request by Laura Marshall with Facebook and social media being the central theme, but that’s where the similarities end Copy Cat is darker, more disturbing and definitely more creepy. I have read a couple of reviews that state the ending is far fetched, yes it probably is but then again when an author writes such a gripping and disturbing book I’m happy to suspend belief, after all at the end of the day it’s a fictional book. This is a very compelling psychological thriller and a sharp reminder about the consequences of sharing our personal information on social media, you only need to read this book to see where it can lead. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers that are unnerving, twisted and gripping then look no further Copy Cat is definitely the book for you.

Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 416 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins (7 Sept. 2017)

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