Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan Book Review

The Doll House: A gripping debut psychological thriller with a killer twist! by [Morgan, Phoebe]


You never know who's watching... 

Corinne's life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it's her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it's a sign.

But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house...

How does the stranger know so much about her life? How long have they been watching? And what are they waiting for...?

A gripping debut psychological thriller with a twist you won't see coming. Perfect for fans of I See You and The Widow.


The Doll House is the debut novel by Phoebe Morgan. It is atmospheric, dark and unsettling in places, perfect for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Tammy Cohen. If you're a fan of psychological thrillers and if you're a fan of stories about sisters, you must read this.

Corinne and her husband Dominic are desperate for a baby. They have been trying for a few years to get pregnant and they are just about to embark on their fourth round of IVF treatment which could be their last hope. Corinne's sister, Ashley is fraught with worry that her partner maybe having an affair; her daughter Lucy is beginning to distance herself and now Ashley is receiving strange phone calls from an anonymous caller. Meanwhile, Corinne is starting to find objects that she believes come from the doll house her father built for her and her sister. Is someone stalking their family and if they are what do they want?

The Doll House was a gripping read. Phoebe's writing draws you into the story and keeps you hooked. I genuinely cared about her character's whilst I was reading. When Corinne was trying for a baby, I actually felt myself go tense when she was taking the pregnancy test which is the sign of great writing, Morgan's prose makes you want to read on and you won't be able to stop until you have turned the final page. I also really felt for Ashley as she battled to keep her daughter from slipping away from them and when it seemed that her world was toppling in on her.

Phoebe also introduces us to a mystery character who's viewpoint the book is also told from. Phoebe creates a great sense of mystery here and she had me wondering who this person was in connection to Corinne and Ashley.

The ending of this book was brilliant, I thought I had it worked out what was going to happen but Phoebe managed to totally surprise me. Her writing had me gripping the end of my seat and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. You won't be forgetting this one in a hurry.

A really enjoyable read. Phoebe Morgan is a talent to watch and I'll be keeping an eye out to see what she does next. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a copy to read.

Publisher: HQ Digital

Publication date: 14th September 2017

Print length: 355 pages


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Road to Publication - Gillian McAllister

I'm delighted to be welcoming Gillian McAllister, bestselling author of Everything but the Truth onto my blog today to talk about her road to publication.

Image result for Gillian McAllister

Do you find that inspiration strikes you in specific places or do ideas come to you everywhere? 

I think perhaps I'm not really a typical author in this way. I tend to get one idea a year, like clockwork, in the dog days of the summer/early autumn, and then I write that and only that. Novels are made up of more than one concept, though, and I do see and write things down often. I went to the cinema last Friday, for example, and I saw a boy, maybe nine, at the Pic N Mix. He turned to his Mum and said, 'I'm just amazed at all the choice!' - he - and his backstory, which I invented - went straight into my novel. 

What do you usually do after you get the first spark of a fresh idea, is it straight to the computer to write the first chapter or straight to a notebook to start planning?

Oh, no. That would be a disaster for me. I'm not a very instinctive plotter, and there's no way I would hit all the plot beats if I didn't plan. I need a pretty intense structure and a clear way forwards, otherwise my characters go for endless coffees and long walks where they 'think things through.'

How long does your first draft usually take to write?

3 months. I don't allow any more. I'm a big fan of getting it down and fixing it later. This - I have observed - is the single biggest barrier to aspiring writers, and I don't wish to let myself get caught up in the perfectionism. As Hemingway said, you have to go straight on through to the end of the damn thing.

Do you celebrate when you finish your first draft and if so how?

I have a week off, usually. Or, I used to, but usually, there are a whole load of things to do. Often my edits come on the previous book. Or there is a backlog of articles, emails I said I would send, VAT returns...I try to consume some popular culture, too, to up the well. A film (I watched The Godfather after I finished the first draft of my second novel, Anything You Do Say, and it really influenced a subsequent draft), some TV, books, though I am never not reading a book.

Is it straight to editing or do you leave your manuscript a while before you pick up the red pen?

I do tend to go straight to editing. I was always in such a rush, when I started out: to finish, to send to agents, to get published...I found it quite disheartening to be told to wait a few weeks. I have not ever really found (contrary to most advice, and so I am wary of saying this!) that I can see my manuscript with clearer eyes thanks to a break, either. The method I do swear by for this is producing a 'visual' of the book, either using tables on the computer or index carding each scene; anything that allows you to see the narrative. That is how I fix my first draft. 

How long do you spend editing before your book is handed over to the printers?

Oh, God. How long's a piece of string? I used to do a rough first draft, a structural edit for my second draft, a polish for my third, and then a read-through on my Kindle. These days, the process is a bit more complicated. With book two, I did two structural re-writes of my own, because one part of the narrative wasn't behaving itself. With book three, I have multiple narrators, so I had to slot in an edit where I concentrated on their (hopefully!) distinct voices. As I tackle more ambitious projects, the drafts seem to multiply. After this, I send to those 'in the know', and of course I get more edits then. I do one or two structural rewrites with my editor, then copy edits, then page proofs, then proof-reader queries. After that, I never look at it again. Barely even a quick flick when I receive my author copy, so paranoid I am that it will contain a horrendous error I failed to spot! 

At what point, prior to publication do you find the nerves start to kick in or do you not get nervous in the approach to publication?

Well, to be honest, I am the sort of person who can be nervous about opening a packet of crisps, so I am always in some heightened state of whatever. I used to wonder why some writers were terrified of publication, though (because I was jealous of them and couldn't see past that) and then, when my own approached, I realised: it's because we are worried it won't sell and/or it will be awfully received. So the first few weeks of it being out for review are especially tough (my God, I was obsessed with Goodreads the December just gone; I took up swimming so I had an hour a week in which I wasn't checking it). And the week of publication, and the first sales figure day, of course. Those are very tough. Exciting and scary, together.

How does it feel when the early reviews start to come in?

Ha, well, it's funny. I have high hopes it'll be different for my second because really, most published novels will have some five stars, lots of four and three, and some two and one. The pattern hardly varies and I hope I retain the perspective of that when my second is out. However, the first few bad reviews do sting. Like overhearing bad things said about yourself, only nobody will give you any sympathy. I think Sarah Perry once said, if you could walk down a corridor with the doors open, and in every single room somebody was gossiping about you - would you not stop to listen? And you do. And it hurts a little bit. But it is also often - more than often - very nice, too. And there is the paradox of being a novelist. 

How long do you wait after finishing your book before starting on your next project?

I'm not very good at not writing. Writing a novel is sort of my thing. In the past, when I was a full-time lawyer (I am now part time) I would reach stages where I absolutely had to take a break, and I was craving an evening of television, a wasted day, a trip to the opticians in which I could sit quietly in the darkness and not be typing. Life is on more of an even keel now, timewise, and so I don't think I will need a month of almost catatonic downtime when I deliver. I will be finishing book three in September and I'll probably start planning book four in October.

And finally how do you celebrate publication day?

Well, in March, my novel was very well placed and I spent the entire day visiting all of the shops that stocked it. It was such fun, to see it in the wild, and I didn't stop getting goosebumps for months. Now, when I see it in Waterstones, it's like seeing an old friend, and I merely nod to it. I also had a launch, which I would recommend for marking the occasion, but probably not for general stress levels. This time, my novel's coming out in two stages - November for Kindle and January for paperback - so I think it will be somewhat watered down, which is welcome, really. It is intense when you 'come out' in fiction to the entire world on one day. This year, maybe I'll take a bath, a walk, and stay off my sodding Amazon ranks.

Thank you so much, Gillian for taking the time to answer my questions. You can purchase Gillian's debut book Everything but the Truth by clicking HERE

You can follow Gillian on Twitter here: @GillianMAuthor


Do you ever check your partner's phone?
Should you?
Are you prepared for the consequences? 

Everything but the Truth is Gillian McAllister's stunning breakthrough thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman's compulsive need to uncover the truth.

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn't even mean to look. She loves Jack and she's pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she's seen it, she can't undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn't Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost? 

The Special Girls by Isabelle Grey Book Review


They are called the 'special girls.' How are they special and why are they chosen?

A doctor is found beaten to death in woods close to a summer camp for young women with eating disorders. The camp is run by the charismatic Professor Chesham. DI Grace Fisher is called in, but is quickly pulled from the investigation - to head up a cold case inquiry involving Chesham himself.

Some years earlier, one of Cheshem's patients made allegations that he sexually assaulted her.

As Grace uncovers the lies that led to the doctor's murder, she discovers the full extent of the damage done to the special girls - and the danger they are still in.


The Special Girls by Isabelle Grey is a very current read. Her book deals with very emotive themes, especially focusing on historic child abuse. The harrowing, sad fact is that there are people out there who do get away with these heinous crimes which has become all too apparent in the world today. And some even take their secrets to their graves.

DI Grace Fisher of the Essex police force is called in when the body of Tim Merrick, a psychiatric registrar is discovered in a wooded area near a camping site used by the hospital he works for. Every year, Tim Merrick’s boss, Ned Chesham, takes a group of young girls to the camping site; the young girls who he is trying to help are suffering from anorexia and eating disorders. A short while after the body of Tim Merrick has been found Grace is called in by the Met to head up a team investigating historical sex abuse which could be linked to her current case. But when the Met appear to brush the results of the investigation under the carpet Grace is determined to get to the bottom of the allegations, no matter what it might cost her.

The Special Girls is the first book by Isabelle Grey which I have read and it certainly won’t be my last. Isabelle’s writing is highly addictive; I found the scenes in which her writing shone was the police interview scenes. The action here is in the dialogue and Isabelle writes this really well, I could feel the tension of the officers who were asking the questions.

I enjoyed reading about the relationship that Grace has with her colleagues. I don’t want to say any more about the plot as I don’t want to spoil the story but I thought her relationship with one other police officer in particular was very well done. 

I’ll definitely be catching up on the first two books in the series and I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next one.  If you’re looking for an exciting new crime series with very addictive writing then I highly recommend Isabelle Grey. 

Publisher: Quercus

Publication date: 6th April 2017

Print length: 384 pages

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The House by Simon Lelic Book Review

The House: The brilliantly tense and terrifying thriller with a shocking twist - whose story do you believe? by [Lelic, Simon]


The hear-stopping thriller about a husband and wife who are hiding something from each other, and from you...This book won't let you go until you've found out the truth. Perfect for fans of Erin Kelly, Gillian Flynn and Fiona Barton.

Whose story do YOU believe? 

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year go. 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 discover in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered outside their back door. And now the police are watching them.





Wow, what an incredible psychological thriller. The House by Simon Lelic surpassed all my expectations. This book is definitely one for you to put on your reading list.

This book is told from two perspectives: Sydney and Jack, a couple who have just moved into their dream home, well Sydney's dream home. Sydney hopes that this will be their chance to settle down together and she expresses hope that this will be their 'forever house.'

What I really liked about this book is the unique way in which the story was told. The story is narrated through Sydney and Jack's thoughts and it is written in diary format. There isn't a lot of dialogue used in the book but I thought this worked really well, Simon's writing was utterly gripping and he gave both Sydney and Jack really unique voices.

Not long after signing the paperwork and moving into their new home, Jack makes a grisly discovery in the attic which he tries to shield Sydney from. From this point on, events begin to spiral out of control and when Sydney makes friends with a girl next door called Elsie the novel really does take a darker turn. Simon pulls some excellent twists out of the bag with this one.

This is one of the best psychological thrillers that I have read. I highly recommend that everyone picks it up and reads it. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me a copy to read.

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 18th August 2017

Print length: 342 pages


The Betrayals by Fiona Neill Book Review


After seven years of silence a letter arrives for Rosie Rankin from the woman she once counted as her closest friend. Lisa is writing to reveal she has been diagnosed with cancer and wants to see Rosie one last time to share a secret she doesn't want to carry to her grave.

Told through the yes of four members of the same family, The Betrayals takes an unflinching look at contemporary family life.

When Rosie's best friend has an affair with her husband the repercussions reverberate through the years. The arrival of a letter from the woman who betrayed her threatens to open up all the old wounds. Her daughter, Daisy's, fragile hold on reality begins to unravel and her teenage son, Max, blames himself for everything that happened. Her brittle ex-husband, Nick, has his own version of events.

As long repressed memories bubble to the surface, the past has never seemed more present and the truth more murky.

Sometimes there are four sides to every story.

Who do you believe?

The moving story of a family destroyed by a secret that has travelled down through the years, The Betrayals, explores the nature of memory and desire and asks whether some things can ever be forgiven.


The Betrayals is the first book by Fiona Neill which I have read. Fiona explores a family’s troubled relationship in this book and it makes for a gripping read. If you’re a fan of family dramas you definitely need to give this book a go.
What I found really interesting about this book was learning about the different perspectives that the character’s had of one another and how their memories of past events differ. Fiona tells the story from the view point of four characters: Daisy, Max, Nick and Rosie. Daisy is shocked in the beginning of the novel when she picks up a letter that is from her parent’s old friend, Lisa, who her Dad left her mother for. Why does Lisa want to get in touch now and why does she want to rake up the past that Daisy would much rather leave behind?
Fiona did a brilliant job with her characters in The Betrayals. Every one of them had their own unique voice and I enjoyed getting to know them all, they are all very different to each other and it was interesting to delve into the family dynamics. What I also found interesting was how their memories of past events differed from each other and this is something we can all relate to and it shows how the mind can choose what to remember and what to block out. This is the case when the story flicks from past to present before the two families, Lisa’s and Nick’s split.
For me, the character’s whose voice was the main pull of the story was Daisy. Daisy is a sufferer from OCD. A few years ago she became very ill and had to see a counsellor, now she fears that she is having a relapse, especially after reading the letter written by Lisa who she believes is the trigger for her illness. I thought that Fiona wrote about the subject of OCD really well. I think we all have those moments where we have to do things a certain way or we can’t sleep at night unless something is checked and checked again. It was really intriguing to see how OCD can develop into a severe illness. I thought it was very believable how Daisy’s OCD affected the rest of her family, particularly her brother Max. This was one of the gripping aspects of the novel which added a lot of tension as Max struggled in places to come to terms with his sister’s illness.
Whilst I was reading I wasn’t sure at all how this novel was going to play out. But I did not see the ending that Fiona had in store for us coming which was really chilling. The only criticism I would have is that I was expecting there to be a more climatic ending between the two families but overall I thought the ending was really well done. 
Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and I am sure that I will be picking up another book by Fiona Neill in the future . Thank you to Ellie Hughes at Penguin for sending me a copy to read. The Betrayals is out now!
Publisher: Penguin
Publication date: 10th August 2017
Print length: 416 pages

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Road to Publication - Fiona Cummins

Today, I'm delighted to be welcoming Fiona Cummins, bestselling author of Rattle to my blog to share her road to publication.

Image result for fiona cummins

Do you find that inspiration strikes you in specific places or do ideas come to you everywhere? 

Ideas come from everywhere and anywhere. I might overhear a conversation, or read something that sparks the kernel of an idea, or witness an argument or an accident. I plunder my own life for things that have happened to me, or an idea might spring from a late-night drinking session with a friend. I once got into a heated exchange at a gig with a stranger, and his put-down was brilliant. It stung at the time, but I later jotted it down to use in a book.

What do you usually do after you get the first spark of a fresh idea, is it straight to the computer to write the first chapter or straight to a notebook to start planning?

I think about it for a while, to see if the central conceit is strong enough, and whether there is enough to sustain a novel-length piece of fiction. I might jot down a few ideas. Mostly, though, I practise writing the first line in my head. I don't start a new book until I'm happy with that.

How long does your first draft usually take to write?

I tend not to think in drafts. I'm not a writer who bashes out a first draft in six weeks. I try to edit as I go along, mainly because I hate editing with a passion (although Trisha Jackson, my editor at Pan Macmillan, is fantastic). I guess it takes me about a year to eighteen months to complete a book that I'm proud of. I aim to turn in as polished a manuscript as possible.

Do you celebrate when you finish your first draft and if so how?

Cold beer. Loud music. 

Is it straight to editing or do you leave your manuscript a while before you pick up the red pen? 

I'll leave it for a bit (depending on how tight my deadlines are) and then I'll reread. My agent will have read it by this point, and my editor too. Then it's back to work.

How long do you spend editing before your book is handed over the printers?

How long is a piece of string? With Rattle it was a few months. The Collector didn't need as much editing.

At what point, prior to publication do you find the nerves start to kick in or do you not get nervous in the approach to publication? 

I am always nervous, and I don't think that will ever change. Writing novels is very exposing because everyone has an opinion. You quickly discover that you cannot appeal to everyone's tastes. But readers who have paid good money for your work are entitled to expect a quality piece of fiction. All you can do is write the best book you can at a given time in your life.

How does it feel when the early reviews start to come in? 

Depends on the reviews. But it is ALWAYS fantastic when a reviewer you respect has something nice to say. And it is particularly encouraging when the first reviews are positive. When the proofs of Rattle went out, I was so churned up inside I could barely eat or drink. But Karen Sullivan from Orenda sent me the loveliest message – it was the first feedback I'd received – and I began to relax a little after that.

How long do you wait after finishing your book before starting on your next project? 

I'm always thinking about my next book. I'm writing Book Three at the moment, but I've got an idea for Book Four that is marinating in the back of mind. I'll probably give myself a month or so to clear my head, but there's always work to be done – copy edits on the most recent book, or on foreign editions; conversations about marketing; interviews and blog pieces to write; heading off to crime festivals to get drunk to appear on panels and meet readers, booksellers, bloggers and other authors...

And finally how do you celebrate publication day? 

Rattle's publication day fell on my daughter's seventh birthday, so I made sure it was all about her. We went out for lunch AND dinner. I didn't feel cheated, though, as I'd had my launch two nights previously at my local independent book store before heading to my favourite bar where I'd hired a band to play until late. It was the best night. I'm hoping to do something similar for the launch of The Collector.

Thank you so much, Fiona for taking the time to answer my questions. You can purchase her debut book Rattle by clicking HERE

You can follow Fiona on Twitter here: @FionaAnnCummins

Rattle: A serial killer thriller that will hook you from the start by [Cummins, Fiona]


A serial killer to chill your bones

A psychopath more frightening than Hannibal Lecter.

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he's just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family's macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey's father and Ella Fitroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London's Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.

It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it's also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Little Girl Lost by Carol Wyer Book Review

Little Girl Lost: A gripping thriller that will have you hooked (Detective Robyn Carter crime thriller series Book 1) by [Wyer, Carol]


Her breath rose and fell in fearful gasps but it was too late. She could already see what she dreaded most. The back seat was empty.

Her little girl was gone.

Abigail lives the perfect life with her doting husband and adorable baby Izzy. But someone knows a secret about Abigail and they want the truth to be told.

When Izzy is snatched from a carpark, it becomes a case for Detective Robyn Carter. Someone has been sending threatening messages to Abigail from an anonymous number. What is Abigail hiding?

Robyn's instincts tell her that there's a connection between Izzy's abduction and two murder's she is investigating. But the last time she acted on impulse her fiance was killed. To break this case and earn her place back on the force, she must learn to trust herself again - and fast. Robyn is on the hunt for a ruthless serial killer. And unless she gets to the twisted individual in time a little girl will die . . .

Gripping, fast-paced and nail-bitingly tense, this serial killer thriller will chill you to the bone. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter. 


Little Girl Lost is a brilliant opening to a new crime series by Carol Wyer featuring Detective Robyn Carter. I have been meaning to get round to this book for a while and having read raving reviews and seen it a lot on social media I was so excited when I finally got round to it, and it didn’t disappoint.

Robyn is taking a break from police work by helping out a former colleague with his new private investigator agency. When they receive a call from a concerned woman who is searching for her husband, Lucas Matthews, Robyn is concerned enough to approach her own colleagues back at the station to open an official police investigation into his disappearance. What starts out as a strange disappearance soon turns into something much, much bigger.

Carol’s writing was really pacy in this book and hugely addictive. There are some unsettling scenes in this book which may put some readers off, but the majority of this book was really enjoyable. I really enjoyed trying to work out what was going to happen, you can see all the pieces of the jigsaw laid out in front of you, but when Carol slots that final piece into place it is really surprising. The book was expertly plotted.

Robyn is an intriguing character. She has suffered from a recent trauma which she is still reeling from, I found her relationship with her former colleague interesting and I can’t wait to read more about her. With the third book on the way this year, I’ll be reading the second one very soon.

An excellent start to a brilliant new series, this is a must read for crime fiction lovers. 

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 19th January 2017

Print length: 412 pages