New Release Spotlight – The Pocket Wife – Interview with Susan Crawford.


The Pocket Wife is a beautifully drawn psychological thriller with a truly intriguing main protagonist. I was lucky enough to get to ask Susan Crawford a few questions about it.


  • Dana is a very compelling character – tell us what inspired you to start her story?

There is so much in the news that demonizes those with diagnosed mental illness. The notion that they are more likely than most to commit a violent crime is a commonly held belief, making the onus of instability all the more difficult for those struggling to maintain a delicate balance in their lives. Bipolar illness is arguably one of the most perplexing, with its strange, compelling energy and wild creativity that can spin into psychosis or crash into a pit of deep despair. For me, even the word bipolar conjures colors from bright reds to dusky greys. I wanted to tell the story from Dana’s point of view, hoping the reader might experience, to some extent, what she was going through and see the world through her eyes.

  • Was there a lot of research involved to get the nuances of bipolar disorder right? 

I got them right for Dana, for this particular character in this particular situation, but, just as everyone is different, every bipolar episode is different. The highs and lows might be similar, but the causes, the triggers, the actual experiences fluctuate. I studied towards a Master’s degree in counseling and I still have an interest in psychology, but most of my understanding of bipolar disorder comes from having friends with this illness. I have watched them swing from mania and unbelievable productive energy to the flatness of depression. I have seen their lives shattered.

  • Which character was your favourite to  write?

    This is a hard question to answer. I enjoyed writing Jack’s parts. He acted as a sort of anchor for the story, and it was interesting and challenging to be inside a man’s head. Ronald was really fun to write because he is such a conflicted character. Still, Dana was my favorite. I loved writing her parts because she was so unfettered and so outside the lines that it was very freeing for me as well. She is quirky and weird, but everything she does makes sense, considering her circumstances and what she perceives as truth.


  • Can you tell us anything about your next project?

My next book takes place in Boston, Massachusetts. It deals with a fatal late-night car crash and the aftermath, when the particulars of the accident are called into question by a zealous insurance investigator. Was the crash an accident, a suicide or a murder? Told in first person by the dead man’s widow and his girlfriend, the story exposes lies, deceit, and misdirection as it shows the struggles of these two women whose lives were toppled by the death of a man who loved them both.


  • One book you recommend to everyone.

There are so many!

  • Tea, coffee or other?

Tea. Definitely. I’m drinking a cup right now!
  3 people living or dead you would love to have a drink with?


Carl Jung, Joan of Arc, and Sylvia Plath

The Pocket Wife is published by Faber and Faber on the 19th March

Dana Catrell wakes from a drunken stupor in time to see an ambulance pull into her neighbour’s house a few doors down. Celia Steinhauser has been murdered. But Dana was at her house only a few hours ago. Celia wanted to show her a photo – a photo of Dana’s husband with another woman – and Dana has blank spots of what happened to the rest of the afternoon . . .

This is a thriller that makes the reader question everything. Dana, we learn, has a history of mental illness and as she descends into another manic episode, the line between what actually happened and what she has imagined becomes blurred.

A gripping domestic psychological thriller for fans of ASA Harrison’s The Silent Wife and Sabine Durrant’s Under Your Skin, The Pocket Wife will stay with you – as all good thrillers do – long after you’ve finished it.


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Liz Currently Loves….The Stranger by Harlan Coben


Publication Date: March 26th 2015 from Orion

Source: Netgalley

The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world.

I am a fan, generally speaking, of this author. I havent loved EVERYTHING but for the most part I never fail to get a darned good yarn when I pick up a Harlan Coben novel – I was especially fond of the Myron Bolitar series and his standalone books always have a gorgeously twisted centre to them, a mysterious edge that means you cannot help getting involved.

With “The Stranger” I was utterly hooked. I read it all yesterday, a one sitting read (well interspersed with real life stuff like feeding the kids) that had me romping through the pages, desperate to know what was going on.

We meet Adam Price, happily married, two great kids, who one day meets a stranger. What this stranger tells him rocks the very foundations of that marriage and sets off an insidious chain of events that will put everything Adam loves on the line.

In classic Coben style we have a seriously addictive mystery element interspersed with some great characters who you want to root for. The really good thing about all the stories is the people that pepper the pages could be anyone – your neighbour, friend, loved one – they are all realistically drawn, often start off with fairly mundane normal lives, then BAM Mr Coben throws them (and the reader) out of that comfort zone and offers up a problem not easily solved.

In the case of The Stranger, there is a strong emotional edge to it – after all, what if someone told you that the person you trust most in the world is not actually trustworthy. What if, then, you start to look back on your life and the events therein with different eyes and a different outlook. This is what Adam faces here – those elements of the tale are cleverly done.

Overall this was really very satisfying. The story twists and turns its way to a stunning conclusion, there is a far wider picture to be had here which is drip fed to us in chapters not devoted to Adam, you may work this one out you may not – but the themes are varied and intelligently interwoven into the plot and this made for a really really great read. One of my favourite Coben novels so far.

Definitely highly recommended. Plus I somehow missed “Missing You” last year so I have that on my pile to read, which makes me very happy.

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Happy Reading Folks!


New Release Spotlight: The Girl in the Red Coat – Interview with Kate Hamer.


Today I am VERY happy to welcome Kate to the blog where she tells us a little more about The Girl in the Red Coat.

  • Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the story.

The whole book really sprang from a very clear image I had – several years ago now. It was a little girl with curly, wayward hair and wearing a red coat. She was standing in a forest and was lost, I was sure of it, but I didn’t know why or how. Then one night in bed the first chapter came to me and I sat up and wrote it in one rush. Surprisingly, the chapter was not in the girl’s voice but her Mum’s – she’d been taken, that’s why she was lost.

It’s so hard to know where these things come from, but what I do know is that I was brought up on a diet of fairy tales. To a certain extent I think Carmel is a little Red Riding Hood, strayed from the path and threatened by wolves.


  • Was it difficult to write from Carmel’s point of view, following as it does her life from quite a young age – maturing as events occurred?

One of the missions in the book was to get eight-year-old Carmel’s voice right. On the one hand she is a child and that needs to be reflected in the voice. On the other I knew she was an intelligent child with her own thoughts and ideas and I didn’t want to ‘talk down’ to her by making her voice too childish. This balance was sometimes tricky – reading it out aloud really helped. In terms of her voice as events unfold though, I found I simply grew with her!


  • Beth was a beautiful character to read from an emotional point of view – was there any research involved in how people can react to the horrific realisation that your child has been abducted?

Quite early on in the writing of the book I made a decision to steer away from researching real life stories – for several reasons. I wanted this to be Beth and Carmel’s story, unique to them and the best way I could see of doing that was writing from the inside of the character, rather than pasting experiences on her – if that makes sense. But also in a funny way I didn’t want to feel I was appropriating anyone else’s experience for the book. This is Beth and Carmel’s story alone.


  • Can you tell us anything about your next project?

It involves another feisty girl – I’m very excited by it and my head is right in it now. So much so that sometimes I have to refocus a bit to talk about ‘The Girl in the Red Coat’!!


  • Favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday.

Oh, catching up on reading every time – Sunday tends to me my day off from writing to recharge the batteries. Other than that going for a long walk with a pub lunch at the end of it. I lead a pretty quiet life!


  • One book you’d recommend to everyone.

That changes as it’s usually something I’ve read recently that’s particularly struck me. At the moment that would be ‘Great House’ by Nicole Krauss – she is an extraordinary writer.


  • 3 people alive or dead you would like to have at a dinner party.

I’d love to invite two authors whose books I run to when I’m feeling a bit down or bruised. The first in a mid-century American writer Betty MacDonald who books such as ‘Anybody can do Anything’ and ‘The Plague and I’ were drawn from her own eventful life. They have such humanity and humour – I love them. The same goes for Stella Gibbons, the author of ‘Cold Comfort Farm.’ The wry humour gets me every time – and I must have read it at least ten times. I think both women would be great fun and would have plenty to talk about with each other.

Lastly, it’s rumoured that I have a relative who founded her own religion. Joanna Southcott believed herself to be bearing the new messiah and attracted a sizable following in the eighteenth century. I’d love to meet her – but I’m not too sure what the other two would make of her!


THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT by Kate Hamer is published on 5th March, £12.99 (Faber & Faber)

Kate Hamer’s stand-out debut thriller is the hugely moving story of an abduction that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Carmel has always been different. Carmel’s mother, Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter’s strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes eight year-old Carmel to a local children’s festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour.

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Happy Reading Folks!

Why We Write – Drop in Feature. Guest Post from Laura Elliott


Today I am pleased to welcome back Laura to the blog telling us why she writes.


Why Do I Write?


I normally ask myself this question when I’m in the middle of writing a book. Inevitably, my characters are clamouring and misbehaving. Their lives have become as fragmented as the scattered pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and they expect me to sort out their problems!

Logically, and from past experiences, I know that I’ve the ability to slot those pieces into place. Somewhere, deep within me, call it my subconscious, my dark depths, whatever, their complete story is waiting to be unpicked. But all I feel is panic as I abandon my desk and go for a long walk.

That’s when the question arises. Why do I write? Why inflict this internal struggle on myself to sort out dysfunctional and complicated imaginary lives when I could be playing golf, tennis, jogging, sky-diving, bog-snorkelling, conquering Mount Everest or, more to the point, working nine-to-five and earning a regular salary?

The usual reasons come to mind. A love of reading that has stayed with me from the day I read my first book. A love of words and a fascination with their ability to enchant, deceive, uplift, deflate, spin a lie, shine a light on truth, reach into our hearts and tug shamelessly at our emotions.

When I was a child I was called a ‘day dreamer,” by my teachers. Day dreaming didn’t help pass exams and my school days were difficult. But I could always retreat into my imagination. It flowed like a river, story after story told to myself as I struggled through my studies, lay down to sleep, travelled by bus and train, stared out at the rain. It seems, looking back to those dreamy days, that all the stories I write have their origins in those early fertile years. Then I grew up. I stopped day dreaming and started paying attention to a previously unnoticed species…boys. The rest is history.

I was a mother of two and expecting my third child when I began to write. Timing has never been my strongest point. Suddenly, that river was in spate again, welling up with all those suppressed stories, now changed into adult format.

Initially, because I had a young family, my Great Novel ended up in a plastic bag. It lurks somewhere in my attic, dusty and forgotten. This is the fate of many first novels and, hopefully, I’ll never stumble across it.

From that initial burst of creativity my career as a journalist began. The features I wrote were short, finished within a day or two. My career developed. I edited magazines. I travelled abroad as part of my work and became increasingly involved in my career. But the yearning to write fiction never left me. Eventually, it was decision time. I gave up journalism and wrote my first book. I haven’t stopped since.

I take short breaks but withdrawal symptoms kick in within a few weeks and I start dreaming about writing. These are not day dreams but vivid sleep dreams. My hand moves across blank pages, filling them with words. I even write in foreign languages, flawless French, Spanish, Italian. The fact that I don’t speak these languages doesn’t stop me believing that I’m writing magnificent prose. Such illusions fade as soon as I open my eyes and those perfect words that flowed so effortlessly thought my unconscious mind are gone in the flash of daylight. Then it’s back to the computer and the reality of being an author…write, edit, delete, cut, copy, paste…head out for a long walk and believe that it will all work out…eventually.

Finally, I guess I write because it’s a passion. Like all passions it’s demanding, compulsive, errs at times on the obsessive and fills me with great joy, especially on days like today when a new book is launched. I hope you enjoy Fragile Lies as much as I enjoyed writing it.


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New Release Spotlight: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough.


Available now from Gollancz

Toby’s life was perfectly normal… until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test.

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House: an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They’re looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it’s time to take them to the sanatorium.

No one returns from the sanatorium.

Today “The Death House” is released and comes highly recommended from me – to celebrate that here are a couple of reviews. Mine of course, but first a short but sweet one from my good friend Hayley who is a huge fan and particularly loved this novel. She does not usually write reviews, personally I think she should! We went to the launch the other week in London so there are also some  lovely pictures for you. Oh and just a heads up – if you buy the book buy a box of tissues at the same time, it is entirely possible you will need them for when the tears flow. Always best to be prepared…


Hayley’s Review:

A beautifully woven tale of hope, friendship, love and family in the unlikely setting of the Death House. I was torn between wanting to know how it would all end and not wanting the book to ever finish.

Yet when it did, as all stories must, I was strangely satisfied (and quite a bit tearful). A spellbinding step into a timeless story. Not wanting to plot spoil for anyone ,I can only insist that you read this book and fall in love with it (and you will I’m sure!!). Another awesome book from the amazing Sarah Pinborough.


Liz’s Review:

The Death House was a marvel of a read, beautifully emotional, so terribly addictive that I read it in one afternoon and just as a warning, will stomp all over your heart and make it bleed.

Toby lives in “The Death House”. Taken from his family having tested positive for the “defective” gene, he spends his days sleeping and his nights wandering. In a place where death seems to be the only possible outcome, Toby has established himself as the leader of his small dorm group, going day to day and waiting for the axe to fall. When a new group of teenagers enter the house however, everything changes as Toby and his companions begin to start living…

I loved the ambience of this one – the kids live the Boarding School life – dormitories, meals, leisure time,lessons – but there is a creepy sense of menace hidden just below the surface. A careful watchfulness that comes across elegantly in the prose – a simple sniff attracting sidelong glances, ever wondering whether the sickness is about to descend and upon whom. There is a formed hierarchy amongst the occupants that ebbs and flows with the days, and for pages you can forget that this is anything other than a coming of age tale, then BAM something hits you right in the gut.

It is all the more intriguing because the threat is so elusive – No-one is clear on what exactly DOES happen to those who end up in the sanatorium, the sickness itself is ambiguous, but the weight of it, the seeming lack of hope, stays with you throughout. There are some very sad moments but there are also some very uplifting ones, reasons to laugh and reasons to cry. The characters are, every single one, outstanding – you will care about what happens to them so much, even the sometimes unlikeable ones. I adored Will and Louis, I even liked Daniel. Jake is magnificent, Toby is captivating, and Clara is so vibrantly alive that you ache for them and the thought that they may not have much time left.

Sarah Pinborough has once again managed to reject that thing which they call genre – everyone reading this gorgeously good story will take something different from it. For me I think it was an all emcompassing love story – not just romantic love but Love, in all its forms and with all its sacrifices, pain and joy.

Brilliant. All the stars in the world and a puppy for this one. Have the tissues handy!


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Happy Reading Folks!



Why We Write – Drop in Feature. Guest post from Angela Marsons

Angie Marsons with Silent Scream Books Image24483265

Today I am pleased to welcome back Angela Marsons, author of the super serial killer thriller “Silent Scream” telling us why SHE writes.

Why I Write – Angela Marsons

This is a question I ask myself all the time. Especially when a crisp, white A4 page both mocks and beckons me as I embark on a new project.

I can’t remember exactly when I discovered a love of words because it feels as though it has always been a part of me. One of my earliest memories at primary school was fighting for a copy of ‘My Sentence Maker’, which only those of us of a certain age will remember.

The treasure itself was an orange folder that opened to reveal laminated word tabs in tidy little rows that could be removed and rearranged to make a sentence. I’m not sure how many words were contained inside the folder but to me every single one of them had a purpose.

During my pre-teen years I would invent situations so that I could explore and then scribble my innermost feelings into my exercise book. I remember a heartfelt letter written to my Dad begging him not to divorce my Mum and imploring him to return to his family. He had only popped out for a Friday night pint but still…

When I was about twelve my English teacher asked me to stay behind after a lesson. I assumed it was for the usual telling off for talking in class. I was already formulating responses and excuses when she said something that I will never forget: that I had a talent with words. I was instantly bemused. Girls in my street didn’t have a talent. They learned to type.

She asked me if I’d like to explore books that were a little above my reading age and I readily agreed. A few days later she handed me a couple of Andrea Newman books: Alexa and Three Into Two Won’t go. These were the first books I read that actually tapped into my emotions, where I became intrinsically involved in the lives of the characters and truly accompanied them on their journey. I was amazed that a collection of words had the power to invoke such intense feelings and interest. And that brought the realisation that that was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the person that used words to make people laugh, cry, get angy. I wanted to take people’s hands and lead them on a journey of discovery.

My love of words and storytelling remained my secret and I did what I was supposed to do. I learned to type.

I bounced from job to job like a pinball shot never daring to actually try and realise my dream until my twenties when my partner and I moved into a one bedroom flat. I returned home from work one evening to find that she had fashioned for me a ‘corner’ of the small bedroom in which I could write.

The desk was a dressing table and the chair was the edge of the bed. But on that dressing table lay exercise books and pencils and folders for notes. To me it was heaven. It was a corner of the world that was exclusively mine. I sat at my desk and picked up a pencil and as my hand began to move across the page I knew I was truly home.

So, quite simply, for me, I write because I have no other choice.

Thank you Angela!


You can get your very own copy of Silent Scream here:

Happy Reading Folks!

When Voss met Holliday….A characterful conversation.


Today we have the release of TWO great books – The Venus Trap by Louise Voss and Black Wood by Susi Holliday – both available now in Ebook. I’ve read both, both are fabulous and I’ll be reviewing them properly before too long. But both novels feature a character named Jo. Are they similar? Well Louise and Susi got together to discuss this and here is what happened….


When Voss met Holliday…



Susi: Hi Louise, nice to see you *chinks wine glass* Let’s talk about how we’ve both got books out today and how they are completely different, but in some ways very similar! We’ve both got a main character called Jo. Mine is darkly funny and a bit unstable. She’s so full of secrets, she can barely function and I’m not sure how anyone puts up with her, to be honest. She’s early 30s but seems younger, because she hasn’t really managed to grow up very well, although a lot of what she faces isn’t entirely her own fault. She’s also unlucky in love, but not quite to the extent that yours is…. How would you describe your Jo?


Louise: Hi Susi! Cheers! I love that we both have dysfunctional Jo’s. Mine isn’t too dissimilar to yours, characterwise. Although they come across very differently on the page, don’t they? Mine is older, in her early 40s, so age has helped rubs the edges off her teenage insecurities and instabilities – not completely, but somewhat. She’s one of these women who has no real confidence in her appearance or abilities, due to those deep-seated insecurities. I feel so sorry for her – she was already almost at rock bottom before a mentally-unstable suitor decides he can’t let her finish with him…


Susi: I’m sure we’ve all had some exposure to mentally-unstable suitors at one point in our lives! Black Wood came about from the vague memory of a disturbing childhood event. Also, I set the book in a fictional version of my hometown, and merged lots of people’s traits to create my characters. How much real life experience do you disguise and put into your book(s)?


Louise: The Venus Trap is also set in a fictionalized version of my hometown. I’d say Jo’s character is one of the more autobiographical that I’ve written, but that the events that shape her and the problems she has are things that for the most part I’ve not personally experienced – oh, apart from Jo losing her dad as a teenager, having her heart broken, and getting divorced. Those bits have an autobiographical slant… so perhaps she’s more like me than I realized when I started writing it!


I think the character of Claudio is the only one I’ve written who absolutely doesn’t bear any resemblance to anybody I’ve ever known. Everything about him is fictional bar one tiny detail: the way his trousers bunch up around his buttocks because of the uptight way he stands – I did notice someone standing like that at a wedding I went to last year. I can’t remember where I got his name, Claudio Cavelli, from (although I was a bit freaked out recently when a woman handed me her business card and her name was Claudia Covelli…! She was very nice though).


Susi: Wow – the autobiographical bits you mention are quite significant… I’m sure there’s a lot of me in Black Wood too, but nothing too specific, more a general feel of how I experienced life where I grew up, until I left in my mid-20s. I did make it to brown belt in karate though, so I was able to write the scene at the self-defence class without much effort. The rabbit skinning part involved research though, via a revolting youtube video that I had to watch-pause-watch about twenty times. Yuck!


We share a theme, in that a childhood experience can have far reaching consequences. Mine involves intentional acts of violence, which I don’t think I can even mention without revealing spoilers! Can you tell us about yours?


Louise: The things we have to do for research – I’m going to have the rabbit-skinning video image in my head all day now… You’re right about the shared theme – and mine also involves an act of violence. Nothing new under the sun, is there? (Although I’m only saying that, knowing how entirely different our two novels ended up being!) The act of violence in mine is when 16-year-old Jo gets jumped on by a stranger in an alleyway, which causes a long-lasting issue for her with trusting her instincts. The other childhood experience she has is, as I said before, bereavement. When that happens to you as a teenager I think it takes decades to recover from– if you ever do.


Susi: I can’t imagine how you could move on from that. You’re very strong. Did you keep diaries as a teen? I did for a few years. I used to write about boys in great detail. It was appalling. I ceremoniously burned them all when I was 18. I don’t know if I was more scared about others reading them, or me reading them myself later on…


Louise: I did. From 11 to about 18 it was a tiny (A5 size) lockable five year diary that only had about six lines of space for each entry. I managed to make it last seven years because I used to not bother with it for months, then write loads, in tiny handwriting – sometimes the entry for one day goes across three years’ worth of spaces on the page for a particular date. It’s really interesting* to look at now because within the same pages are entries moaning about school dinners and homework when I was 11, up to serious boyfriend issues and losing my dad when I was 18 – a sort of condensed overview of my teenage years. After I went to uni my diaries got a lot more lengthy and pretentious…


*when I say‘really interesting’, obviously I mean, really interesting in the way that old diaries are to their author and absolutely nobody else…for about five minutes until the author gets so bored she feels like sticking pins in her eyes…

Here’s a question for you, Susi – who do you most admire on the crime-writing scene at the moment? There are so many good writers around, aren’t there? I currently can’t get enough of Paula Daly and Tammy Cohen, and I think Erin Kelly’s prose is to die for.


Susi: I agree with all of those! I absolutely love Paula Daly – her writing is so effortless, it’s as if a friend is telling you an extended anecdote. I loved Tammy Cohen’s latest, which funnily enough, also involved a love-gone-wrong hostage situation; a bit like yours – except as we’ve said earlier about the comparisons between our books, Dying for Christmas was nothing like yours at all. I love that you can have the same basic idea and run with it in so many different ways. Who do I love at the moment? I think Mel Sherratt is just brilliant, and both Jane Isaac and Rebecca Bradley are ranking high in my ‘ones-to-watch’. I could name a hundred… there is so much talent out there. Notice we both picked three women though? It wasn’t intentional!


Louise: Yes, I’m really enjoying Mel’s new one at the moment, and was very impressed with Rebecca’s debut. Jane is on my TBR pile – have heard so many good things about her books.


I loved Dying For Christmas, but I was so freaked out when I first heard what it was about because it sounded SO similar to The Venus Trap, which I was just editing at that stage. My mind was put at ease when I read it though – like you said, similar premise but very differently handled. I’d just been really worried that Tammy would think I’d nicked her idea! And yes, funny that we’ve only mentioned women. I must say I do prefer thrillers by women on the whole.


What’s your next project –are you working on another thriller? I’m currently finishing up the sequel to From The Cradle with Mark (Edwards). It’s called The Blissfully Dead and will be out in autumn. My other big project for this year is updating and re-publishing all my old solo novels with new covers, which is proving quite time-consuming.


Susi: *SIGH* It’s taken me a long time to get to my next project. I had several false starts, ending up with about 40,000 words – unfortunately not all of them were for the same book! I’m at the early stages of something else now though, something a bit different – a standalone thriller… and assuming that Black Wood does okay, I have a couple of ideas in the pipeline based in the same town, with a new cast of characters. Some will overlap though, Sergeant Davie Gray, in particular seems to be well liked, so we’ll see! Can’t wait for your sequel with Mark, I loved From the Cradle.


Listen to us, we’re like a mutual appreciation society, aren’t we?


Louise: We are! And – good, re Sgt. Gray, I was hoping we’d see more of him. I do love a sexy cop, don’t you? Thank you for your kind words, it’s been great talking to you, and I’m really looking forward to raising a real glass to celebrate our joint launches. Thanks to Liz too for hosting us!


Thank you guys!

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Happy Reading Folks!


Why we Write – Guest Post from Tim Major

C&M goodreadsTim Major profile

Today I am pleased to welcome Tim Major, author of Carus and Mitch, contributing to the ongoing Why We Write feature. Thanks Tim!


Why we write – Tim Major


Some writers say they write because they have to. If they didn’t, they’d combust or go crazy. I don’t have to write. I often don’t even want to write.

I can name a lot of things that I like about writing, though.

I like the sense of building something. I like the weight of a completed story. I like the sense of having created something that now exists in its own right, separate from me. I like its permanence and I like the thought that this story might exist somewhere even after I don’t.

I like the process of writing, at least when it flows. I like the sense of progress in adding more words to words and seeing something take some kind of shape. I like the unexpected details and directions that were never planned. Some writers talk about characters taking charge of the story, but I don’t see it like that. I think that writing a story is more like opening a series of doors. You start writing, you open a door. You come to a series of options, you open another door. Soon enough you’re lost and you have to rely on your instincts.

Before I started writing fiction I kept ideas in notebooks. They weren’t story ideas. They were ideas for art projects, ways to make money, song lyrics. They were mostly awful, but it still seemed a shame that I never saw them through. A lot of those bad ideas have since turned up in stories, where I can see them through to their disastrous ends.

The same applies to dialogue. I suspect that most writers’ heads are filled with imagined conversations, improvements to things that other people say, or rebuttals long after an argument has ended. Writing seems like a healthy way to remove them from your head in order to concentrate on more important things.

It often feels that stories are built from nothing but the seed of an idea. On closer inspection it usually turns out that each story is littered with pieces of memories. Mine are usually either from my childhood or from details I’ve noticed in passing at the time of writing, with not much in between. For me, writing stories is both a good way to channel nostalgia and a good alternative to keeping a day-to-day diary.

There are more straightforward reasons that I like writing. It’s the cheapest hobby I’ve ever had. It’s the simplest, laziest way of having adventures. I like being part of a community of other writers, who are generally encouraging and uncompetitive. I even like sending out completed stories for consideration, which has all of the short-lived, giddy potential of buying a lottery ticket. I like the fact that writing a thousand good words can transform a crappy day into an excellent one.

So, there you go. I write because I like to write.


Tim Major lives in Oxford in the UK with his wife and son. His love of speculative fiction is the product of a childhood diet of classic Doctor Who episodes and an early encounter with Triffids.

Tim’s novella, ‘Carus & Mitch’, will be published by Omnium Gatherum on 23rd Feb 2015. His short stories have featured in Interzone and the Infinite Science Fiction anthology, among others.

Follow Tim via Twitter (@onsteamer), his Goodreads author profile, or the Cosy Catastrophes blog.

About the Book:

C&M goodreads

Carus is only fifteen but since their mum disappeared, looking after her little sister Mitch is her job. There’s nobody else. Not in their house and not outside, either. There’s something out there, scratching and scraping at the windows.

The barricades will hold.

They have to.

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Liz Currently Loves….Half Wild by Sally Green


Publication Date: 26th March 2015 from Penguin.

Source: Netgalley

In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, seventeen-year-old Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world’s most powerful and violent witch. Nathan is hunted from all sides: nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted. Now, Nathan has come into his own unique magical Gift, and he’s on the run–but the Hunters are close behind, and they will stop at nothing until they have captured Nathan and destroyed his father.

I was a HUGE fan of “Half Bad” the first novel in this trilogy, with its extremely addictive story and magical elements, it was definitely one of my favourite reads of 2014. So I was so very happy to get a copy of Half Wild, the sequel and boy was it a good ‘un.

I’m always nervous with middle books  – the phenomena known as “middle book syndrome” can strike and you wonder what happened. That is absolutely NOT the case here, Half Wild is fantastic, a brilliant follow up, adding great depth to both the mythology and the characters and taking you on a wild reading rollercoaster ride with some thrills, some spills, some real emotion and an ending that will drive you beautifully insane.

Here we find Nathan, trying to find Gabriel, work out a way to save Annalise and stay one step ahead of the hunters at the same time. When he joins up with a rebel group of Witches who want to change things, he finds his loyalties tested and will be taken to the limits of his own powers and feelings.

Sally Green has done some terrific world building here over the course of the two novels so far. Taking our world and populating it with Witches and others and giving it a hugely intelligent and authentic political landscape, there are some emotional and highly topical themes explored within some wonderful storytelling,  using some resonant and extremely well drawn characters to help us along the way. I adore Nathan but my heart and soul are with his best friend Gabriel – I certainly do not seem to be alone in that.

One of the huge strengths of this series is the dynamic between these two friends . Much more so than the love story between Nathan and Annalise – although that is done with flair and has a unique streak to it – the relationship between Nathan and Gabriel is the one that keeps you hooked into ALL the characters and the tale. In this instalment Ms Green has thrown a lot of obstacles in the path of these two, not the least of which is the fact that they could die at any moment and it is probably one of the best drawn friendships I have found in YA for a while.

Putting the character interactions aside, the world they live in is both horrific and wonderful – a morality tale which entertains, it is beautifully constructed and will often have you changing sides, first to one then to another. Marcus is a brilliant “anchor” for this, Nathan’s father is the most feared of the Black witches and yet he is not entirely evil. The more dystopian elements of the story – the council and the dehumanizing of one section of society over another, are also extremely well done and all in all it is a truly truly magnificent read.

I loved it. How the heck I’m going to wait for book 3 I do not know. Highly HIGHLY recommended.

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And to wet the appetite for Half Wild


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Blog Tour – Obsession in Death by J D Robb

24785885Romance novelist Nora Roberts

Publication Date: Available Now from Piatkus

Source: Publisher Review Copy

A crisp winter morning in New York. In a luxury apartment, the body of a woman lies stretched out on a huge bed. On the wall above, the killer has left a message in bold black ink: FOR LIEUTENANT EVE DALLAS, WITH GREAT ADMIRATION AND UNDERSTANDING.  Eve Dallas is used to unwanted attention. Famous for her high-profile cases and her marriage to billionaire businessman Roarke, she has learned to deal with intense public scrutiny and media gossip. But now Eve has become the object of a singular and deadly obsession.

I was very happy to be asked to join the blog tour for this title because it brought me back to a series I have always enjoyed – admittedly I have not read every one, Eve Dallas is a character I return to sporadically but I never get lost, always find myself immediately back into Eve’s world and Obsession in Death was no different.

In this instalment, Eve becomes the focus of a killer – disposing of people who he perceives as having done her a wrong. Eve may be used to attention, what with her family ties and her high profile solve rate but this will test her to her limits as she tries to discover which of those in her circle could be hiding a deadly secret.

Set as they are, slightly in the future, I always find these fascinating and well constructed novels with a well imagined world of new technology mixed in with a terrific police prodedural – the best thing I find is the relationships between the characters, most especially that of Eve and Roarke, two equally obsessed people who compliment each other perfectly.

Despite being book 40, you can still easily dive into this series  – here if you like, or choose a previous novel – there is no problem with reading them standalone, or as a set. Which is a pretty good achievement considering how long these have been going- I remember reading Naked in Death years ago and since then I have been in and out of them regularly. Obsession in Death was an excellent addition – the mystery element was beautifully drawn and intriguing, characters both old and new have great depth and substance to them and overall it really was a stonking good read.

A definite recommendation from me for any Crime Fiction fans especially if you like something a little bit different from the standard. Excellent stuff.

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