Chiller Review: The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst

Blurb:

When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.

Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she’s just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.

But Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger…

Foster Child

Bad things seem to follow little Ellie Atkinson around – dangerous things are happening to people who make her angry. Her teachers and fellow students believe she is evil and someone to be feared – but is there more to it?

Imogen Reid, a child psychologist agrees to take on the case of Ellie after recently moving back to her own town of Gaunt with her husband Dan. But as Imogen refuses to listen to people’s warnings about Ellie, she becomes increasingly more obsessed with her. But she hiding a secret of her own…

What I say:

What a wicked mind the author Jenny Blackhurst has!

This story had me gripped from the very beginning with a chilling opening and breath-taking twisty action which didn’t let up until the end.

The author does a fantastic job of capturing the voice of a troubled eleven-year-old girl, who slowly spirals out of control. Ellie is such a fabulous protagonist who becomes increasingly alienated for being ‘strange’ but as she fights back, the town has other ideas. Her voice is so compelling and quite frankly freaked me out. Some of the other characters in this book are just plain creepy and quite sadistic which just added to the horror elements in this story.

I particularly loved the setting of this book; the town of Gaunt, which Ellie is forced to live in and Imogen has moved back to. Gaunt is claustrophobic and suffocating, slowly forcing the characters to breaking point. Imogen is someone who views the town as a complete outsider, having escaped to London for years which gives the reader a glimpse into this creepy place.

The author manages to play with the readers misconceptions and stereotypes as the tale become darker and more terrible than even I could’ve guessed, showcasing the superb writing and wicked mind of Jenny Blackhurst.

The Foster Child definitely got under my skin and had me glued to the pages. This is a story full of chilling characters, a claustrophobic setting and a tightly woven plot full of twist and turns and a dash of horror mixed in. What’s not to love?

To find out more about Jenny Blackhurst follow her on twitter @JennyBlackhurst .

The Foster Child can be ordered from Amazon here or from Waterstones here.

Big thanks to Millie Seaward and Headline for my ARC.

Advertisements

Chiller Review: Shame on You by Amy Henydenrych

51Oo4snyfiLBlurb:

You think you know her . . .
Meet Holly. Social media sensation. The face of clean eating. Everyone loves her. Everyone wants to be her.

Or do they?

When Holly is attacked by a man she’s only just met, her life starts to spiral out of control. Was she targeted because of her online wellness empire, or is there a darker reason behind the attack? He seemed to know her – but she doesn’t know him.

Or does she?

What if Holly isn’t who she seems to be? What if Holly’s living a lie?

But surely we all lie a bit online, don’t we . . .?

Meet Holly Evans, a cancer survivor and celebrity health food blogger who has a army of social media followers. One late afternoon, she meets a handsome, mysterious doctor in a Starbucks and agrees to go on a date with him. But the night ends in the worst way possible when she is attacked. Her attacker seems to know her, but does she know him?

Wow! I really enjoyed this novel which really showed the extent of which we are willing to share our daily lives online and exist in a virtual world to ‘bare’ our souls, as well as the damage this could have on others.

I knew this story would be an absolute corker as soon as I started it – the opening scene really captured my attention and hinted at the dark crime at the centre of this story.

The story is told from Holly’s point of view as she struggles to both rebuild her life and discover why she had been attacked, and her attacker Tyler. As the story unravels it is difficult to decide who I have more empathy for, which just shows the captivating way the author tells the story.

I liked the way this novel played on modern online culture, focusing on the pit-falls of how we portray ourselves online which could lead us open and vulnerable to attack, and the way in which nothing is a secret anymore.

The author creates a beautifully claustrophobic way of telling the story, which is very descriptive and fast-paced with two very distinctive point-of-view character’s. It is also very dark and chilling in places, which I of course loved, and took me as the reader in a very surprising direction.

This is a claustrophobic psychological thriller with a fast-paced, tightly woven plot with two characters slowly spiralling out of control – a brilliant recommended read!

About the author:

71qm20sWyeL._SY200_

Amy Heydenrych is a writer and book blogger based in South Africa. She has been shortlisted twice for the acclaimed Miles Morland African Writing Scholarship. Her short stories and poems have published in multiple anthologies including Brittle PaperThe Kalahari Review and the Short Sharp Stories anthologies. When she is not writing her own fiction, she ghost-writes books and columns for global tech and financial companies. She is currently working on her second novel.

Big thanks to Emily Burns at Bonnier Zaffre and Netgalley for my ARC.

You can order Shame On You on e-book from Amazon here or preorder the paperback here.

To find out more about Amy Heydenrych follow her on Twitter at @AmyHeydenrych.

Chiller Review: All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker

All the wicked girls

Blurb:

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine. Then Summer vanishes.

Raine throws herself into the investigation, aided by a most unlikely ally, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her search becomes.

And perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

Summer lives in the dark, depressing small town of Grace, Alabama. She is a gifted student, the centre of her family’s hopes and dreams. Her twin-sister Raine is the complete opposite – a problem teenager who tends to get herself mixed up in all kinds of trouble, just like her father. But when Summer goes missing one day, Raine must push her troubled life to the side for Summer – because Raine vows to find her sister no matter the cost.

What I say:

I absolutely adored this book and can only describe it as a chillingly addictive masterpiece.

This story is told from Summer’s point of view in the weeks leading up to her disappearance, Raine’s view point set in the present day and Noah. I thought the author managed to capture the voice of each character and managed all three narratives very well.

One of the stand out things for me in this novel was the setting which had a very strong sense of place and really comes to life for me in this novel. The author does a fantastic job of creating a chilling, claustrophobic, bleak and religious backwater town in America. This also becomes apparent through the characters and the harsh climate they are in – there has been a steady decline in employment causing a lot of the townsfolk to survive on scraps of food and struggling to live as the area becomes more and more poverty-stricken. With nothing but their wits to survive, many of the characters in the town turns to religion which has them believing the down-turn in weather is really the apocalypse reeking vengeance.

Within this environment is Raine, Noah and his best friend Purv all trying to find Summer while hiding secrets of their own. I loved all three of these teenage characters who each have a really strong voice while facing up to the many secrets which are slowly revealed over the course of the book.

This is such a compulsive read, with its brilliant characterisation, dark themes and strong setting which really came to life for me. I would definitely recommend for anyone who loves a dark thriller.

Big thanks to Emily Burns and Bonnier and Zaffre Books for an ARC.

All The Wicked Girls is out now and be purchased via Amazon here.

Or Waterstones here.

To find out more about Chris Whitaker follow him on Twitter at @WhittyAuthor .

Blog Tour: Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

Today, I’m delighted to host the next stop on the Anything You Do Say blog tour, written by Gillian McAllister and published by Penguin Random House Publishers. As part of the tour I have a fab Q&A with the author herself.

First up is the blurb:

Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor. 

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

Anything You Do Say.jpg

Welcome to the CKT blog, Gillian.

To start off with, could you tell us about your new novel Anything You Do Say?

Of course. Anything You Do Say is about a woman, Joanna, who receives some unwanted attention in a bar late one night. She leaves, and is sure the man has followed her. As he comes towards her, she lashes out, pushing him down a flight of concrete steps. He lies motionless at the bottom. At this point, two things happen: 1. She realises it wasn’t him 2. The narrative splits, Sliding Doors style, into two strands. In Reveal, Joanna calls 999, confesses, and is charged. In Conceal, she leaves the scene and goes on the run.

How did you come up with the idea for it? It is such a brilliant concept, I’m sure we all wish we thought of it!

Thank you – that’s very kind! I had been toying with the idea of writing a Sliding Doors style novel for months, but I wanted to do something original with it. I am a crime writer, so, one night, as I was taking the bins out (glamorous, I know), I thought: I wonder what a crime slant on Sliding Doors would look like?  And then, that night, I woke at 2.29am and thought: the decision over whether to hand yourself in. That’s honestly how it was born. Strange, I know.

You chose to tell the narrative from two different parallel stories, based on different decisions your main protagonist chooses. Which one did you enjoy writing the most?

I think I preferred writing Reveal, where Joanna hands herself in. It is the more ‘legal’ storyline and the structure of the justice system is a helpful plotting device: there’s police custody, a bail hearing, and then evidence gathering, witness interviewing, and a trial.

I found Conceal much harder. Partly because it was about unintended consequences of actions – which could go anywhere – and partly because it was hard to create tension: what Joanna was most afraid of (being found out) was already happening in Reveal. I re-wrote the Conceal strand three times as a result. Eventually, it came to me: she had to make it much, much worse for herself.

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process, do you plot the story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Or a mixture of the two?

I’m a big plotter. I don’t think I could write psychological thrillers without plotting. I open Microsoft excel, split it into forty boxes, and gradually fill them in, which takes weeks. Inevitably, I stray from it, re-write it, re-work parts of it, but I couldn’t be without my trusty outline: it stays open on my computer for the entire year I am writing the book.

Gillian.png

You also created a regular podcast with Holly Seddon, called The Honest Author’s Podcast (which I love). What was the idea behind this and how did it come about?

What an interesting question! We do have a podcast. We met for the first time at the Killer Women festival in London and became firm friends. I floated the idea of wanting to start a podcast and Holly replied enthusiastically. We decided to give it a go. We had heard of lots of podcasts about writing in general and getting agents but we didn’t know so many about what it’s actually like to be an author. It’s almost a year on and still going strong. Plus, she’s become one of my best friends, and I get to chat to her for a few hours every other week – we just so happen to record it!

 What books would you recommend for the devoted crime reader?

  • You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood
  • Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
  • The Second Sister by Claire Kendal
  • Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon. What these novels have in common is a crime heart surrounded by really brilliant characters – they’re all so authentic.

Are you working on anything at the moment? If socan you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?

I have just finished my third novel, No Further Questions. It’s about a woman who looks after her sister’s eight-week old for the night. The next morning, she discovers the baby has died in her care. The circumstances look suspicious, and she’s charged with manslaughter.

Oh my – sounds so interesting, I’ll be looking out for that one! And finally, do you know which decision you would’ve gone for? Would you have run or would you have told?

Oh, definitely, absolutely Reveal. I’m a lawyer!

Thank you Gillian for letting me grill you, it’s been a lot of fun!

Anything You Do Say isn’t quite out yet, but with the ebook out on 19th October 2017 and the Paperback out 25th January 2018, you can preorder it here.

To find out more about Gillian McAllister follow her on Twitter at @GillianMAuthor.

Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on the tour

Anything You Do Say blog tour banner.jpg

 

Blog Tour Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

Today I am part of the blog tour for Exquisite by Sarah Stovell, published by the wonderful Orenda Books, along with my counterpart Being Anne whose review you can check out here. Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on this epic blog tour!

EXQUISITE-COVER-AW-1-195x300.jpg

Blurb:

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?

We are first introduced to Bo Luxton, a successful writer who is runs a writing course, is married to Gus, twenty-two years her senior with two daughters and lives in a beautiful house in the Lake District.

Alice Dark’s life seems to be at a standstill; she lives in a squalid bedsit in Brighton with a loser of a boyfriend who seems to drink and take drugs and works for cash in hand – she wants more from life.

When the two women meet at the writers retreat Bo is organising, they hit it off and end up staying in touch via email once the retreat is over. As their kinship develops and Bo invites Alice to stay with her a sinister relationship develops.

The novel is told from both women point of view, sometimes via email or telephone along with a characters view point from prison which immediately tells the reader that something bad will happen.

I adored the beautiful imagery and language the authors uses throughout this novel to draw the reader in and sets up a claustrophobic atmosphere which made the action even more chilling.

The author weaves an intricate plot with a brilliant ending I didn’t see coming and does a superb job of creating two such disturbing characters – even now I’m unsure who was telling the truth – or are they both liars?

This is a novel full of tension, toxic passion, breathless pace and disturbing characters – I loved it and cannot recommend this book enough! This is a psychological thriller at the top of its game.

Big thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour and for my ARC.

About the author:

stovell-200x300.jpg

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.

This novel is out now and can be purchased on Amazon here.

Or Waterstones here.

To find out more about Sarah Stovell follow her on Twitter at @Sarahlovescrime

Exquisite blog tour poster (1).jpg

Chiller Review: The One by John Marrs

As today marks the paperback publication of The One by John Marrs (hooray) I thought I would repost my original review. #MatchYourDNA

The Blurb:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

51sLGvpEYQL._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_One simple mouth swab is all it takes. One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for. 

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

My Review:

Oh My – This was such a superb read which had me on the edge of my seat most of the time with all it’s twists and surprises I just didn’t see coming. It is definitely a psychological thriller with a difference.

The One tells the story of five characters who have all taken the Match Your DNA test, but what turns out as a simple DNA swab which millions of other have done previously, quickly turns into something more sinister. Something more shocking than they could ever have imagined.

  • Nick is content with his fiance Sally, or so he thinks, right up until the point she begs him to take the test. But what could possibly go wrong  when he is matched with a straight man?
  • Ellie is a successful businesswoman, closed off from the world but then she is matched. Can she open her heart? And what could go wrong when she does?
  • Jade is matched with a man halfway across the world, but does she have the guts to leave everything behind to meet the love of her life?
  • Mandy is ecstatic when she discovers she has been matched to the man of her dreams, after her past relationships but then she starts looking him up online…
  • Christopher is a psychopath who is so wrapped up in his own project that when he meets his match he is unaware of the effect she will truly have on him.

img_4165

I loved how the author superbly weaves each of the character’s story, giving equal weight to each one while ending each chapter with a smallish-cliffhanger, leaving me as the reader needing to read more. It was one of those books where because of the short chapters you could keep reading another and another, although because I did just that one morning it forced me to literally run to work.

It was a book which really built the tension up from the word go with the author trickling surprise after surprise until you thought you couldn’t take anymore, well until the author wacked me with yet another corker of a twist about halfway through – turning the story completely on it’s head.

I just loved every minute of this book which had me literally gasping out loud with the many surprises and twists I couldn’t keep up with! I’m still not sure whose story was the most disturbing which makes it all the better.

This was a novel so full of high drama which made for a fantastic read! I would recommend for all lovers of psychological crime.

Big thanks to Stephenie Naulls and Ebury Publishing for my ARC.

The One is out in paperback today and you can you get your hands on it from Amazon here

Or from Waterstones here.

To find out more about John Marrs follow him on Twitter at @johnmarrs1

I wonder, would you take the test? I’m not quite sure if I would anymore…

Chiller Review: Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister

Blurb:IMG_4489.JPG

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

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?

Wow! I adored this book and just devoured this.

Rachel (same name as me so what’s not to like ha-ha) has not known Jack that long but she knows he is something special and their relationship is something so bright she can’t begin to describe – she’s even pregnant with his child. But that all changes when one night an email pings onto Jack’s iPad, she didn’t mean to read it. It was an accident. But she can’t undo what she’s just seen, or let it go. As Rachel starts to wonder if Jack has been lying about his past and what he is hiding, she starts noticing small inconsistencies. But as Rachel digs deeper she realises there’s more to his story then he is telling her.

I liked both characters and found them very believable. Even though Rachel’s actions in particular can be somewhat questionable as she seeks to uncover the truth, I could also sympathise with her desperation to know. I also really weirdly liked the character of Jack and could totally understand what led him to do something inexcusable.

This story is told in both the present day and set one year ago which slowly unravels Rachel’s secret, a secret she’s terrified of anyone finding out and I think this is partly why she becomes so obsessed with Jack and his past.

I throughly enjoyed this book and found myself absorbed in Rachel’s and Jack’s world. I especially loved setting of Oban in Scotland was particularly creepy and isolated which created tension and kept me as the reader on my toes.

What I also loved about this book is that the author isn’t afraid to cross into uncomfortable territory and plays on the characters dark secrets to create a compelling story.

The heart of this story is about love and relationships and the depths people would go to uncover the truth. I think what really makes this novel is the ending, it really ties up the story of Rachel and Jack and in a way I wasn’t expecting.

I think this is another fabulous debut Domestic Noir novel which has a heart-breaking romance at the centre of the story but isn’t afraid to take a dark turn. I would definitely recommend this novel for anyone who likes a great psychological thriller.

I will be keeping an eye out for future novels by this author!

I would like to say a big thanks to Michael Joseph, part of Penguin Random House UK for my advanced review copy.

This novel is out now and can be purchased through Amazon here

Or Waterstones here

To find out more about Gillian McAllister follow her on Twitter at @GillianMAuthor.