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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Happy Reading Folks!

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


Happy Reading Folks!


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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Happy Reading Folks!








Author Interview: Angela Marsons – Silent Scream

24483265Angie Marsons with Silent Scream Books Image

Today I am very pleased to welcome Angela Marsons to the blog – Silent Scream is a terrific novel and I was lucky enough to ask her some questions. Here is what she had to tell me.


Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the story.


I wanted to write a storyline that was as dark as the main character. I remembered an old Children’s home in my local area and the mystery that surrounded the occupants. Once the character of Kim Stone was set in my head I was drawn back to the memory and it seemed the perfect case for her to get stuck into.

Kim Stone  is great – did you do a lot of research to give her character an authentic attitude towards her upbringing?


It really worked the other way around. Kim’s character traits came to me first. I wanted a character that is not always likeable but is passionate and driven. I wanted to demonstrate someone lacking in social skills and brash to the point of rude but with a real affinity for the underdog. Then I began to discover why she was that way. What could have happened to her in her earlier life to instil the traits and attitudes she has?

Are you a fan of the “serial killer thriller” yourself?


I do like a good serial killer thriller but I also like a good psychological thriller that explores the psychology and motives behind a crime. I’m fascinated by the subject of profiling and love to read Val McDermid’s Tony Hill series.

Can you tell us a little about what is next for Kim?


Yes, the next book in the series is called Evil Games and sees Kim pitted against a female sociopath who uses her psychiatric patients for experimental purposes.

Desert Island book –


Disclosure by Michael Crichton. The only book that’s ever caused me to phone in sick for work and so much more than the film.

Any writing habits? When I start a new project I like everything fresh and shiny.


New A4 pads and a pack of pencils. I like to lay out the dining table, where I write the first draft by hand. To my left is a pile of research including notes, factual books and snippets. Close by is an A5 pad ready for random thoughts or ideas. It doesn’t necessarily stay this organised but it’s how I start. A mug of Latte Macchiato is never far away.


One thing you wish you were good at but are not.


I would love to be able to paint with watercolours. I enjoy finding stunning views and would love to be able to capture them. Unfortunately the moment I pick up a paintbrush my hand grows nine sizes and develops more thumbs than fingers.


Thank you so much!

My original review for Silent Scream:

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. They had all taken turns to dig. An adult-sized hole would have taken longer. An innocent life had been taken but the pact had been made. Their secrets would be buried, bound in blood …
Years later, a headmistress is found brutally strangled, the first in a spate of gruesome murders which shock the Black Country.
But when human remains are discovered at a former children’s home, disturbing secrets are also unearthed. D.I. Kim Stone fast realises she’s on the hunt for a twisted individual whose killing spree spans decades.

So these days one of my very favourite things to do is try out new Crime fiction. I especially like it if it is the start of a series. And I like it even MORE when you get one as good as this and know that you will probably have many happy reading experiences ahead of you.

In “Silent Scream” we meet Kim, Detective and a bit of a loner, for good reason. She is a brilliant character, flawed as it seems detectives need to be but in a way that makes her very intriguing. When a brutal murder is discovered she finds herself caught up in a case that has its roots in the past and uncovers a killer who has remained hidden for decades.

The main thing for me, with crime fiction, especially when it is a series, is that our main “core” characters are both interesting enough that you want them to appear in further novels, but enough in the background that the story is not all about them. The yin/yang of detective fiction if you like and Angela Marsons has pulled this off extremely well. Kim and her team are all a terrific mix, we learn plenty about them but not too much and there is huge potential for the future. So that is a real plus.

The second thing of course is that the mystery element is intelligent, addictive and well flowing, with enough twists and turns to make it thrilling – again this is done extremely well here, it is a very dark tale at its heart and is highly addictive. It also has an emotionally resonant core that is extremely compelling.

Overall a really really good addition to the Crime fiction genre, I look forward to seeing what is next for Kim and co.

Happy Reading Folks!

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The Abrupt Physics of Dying – Blog Tour

The Abrupt Physics cover copy 2Abrupt Physics Blog Tour BannerPaul Hardisty

Publication Date: Available Now e-book, paperback 8th March from Orenda

Source: Publisher Review Copy

Claymore Straker is trying to forget a violent past. Working as an oil company engineer in the wilds of Yemen, he is hijacked at gunpoint by Islamic terrorists. Clay has a choice: help uncover the cause of a mysterious sickness afflicting the village of Al Urush, close to the company’s oil-processing facility, or watch Abdulkader, his driver and close friend, die. As the country descends into civil war and village children start dying, Clay finds himself caught up in a ruthless struggle between opposing armies, controllers of the country’s oil wealth, Yemen’s shadowy secret service, and rival terrorist factions.

I seriously cannot remember the last time I was this gripped by a thriller – pretty much from the opening pages it sucks you down into the tale and won’t let go – Fantastic writing, a very very intriguing main protagonist and a plot that has its roots in reality.

Mr Hardisty brings Yemen to vivid colourful life, the people and the hardships, the politics and the realities and wraps it up in a beautiful package of really exceptional storytelling, with an authentic edge which means you honestly believe every moment of it. As Clay investigates, desperate to keep his friend alive, what he finds will have far reaching consequences and he finds himself in a race against time.

I admittedly was not sure before I started this – I do tend to avoid the kind of novel that seems like it wants to make a point when all I want is a stonking good read- in the case of “Abrupt Physics” though, Paul Hardisty makes a point AND gives you a stonking good read to boot – there is a message here but it is subtle and makes itself known through the sheer power of the voices he gives his characters. Each one well drawn, each has a tale to tell which adds to the whole and builds a picture, a pretty scary one at that.

Moving away from the moral dilemma and looking at it purely as entertainment, boy does this entertain. By the time I was near the end I was hanging on to every single word, the story unfolds at often breakneck speed and has a really most terrific finale that I still think about now. Clay is a fantastic character, I am so pleased that he will be back – in a bit of a more light hearted side I’ve added him to my list of Literary characters I would definitely marry, although life with Clay would be rather unpredictable to say the least.

Overall this really was an incredible debut – a modern thriller with a literary edge, one that could equally win the highest awards and be the novel everyone is reading on the beach, I truly cannot recommend it highly enough.

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New Release Spotlight: Follow the Leader by Mel Sherratt

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Today I am VERY happy to join the Blog Tour for Mel Sherratt’s “Follow the Leader” in which DS Allie Shenton returns to solve another case. Mel very kindly wrote me a lovely article all about it. This is followed by my review of the book – Enjoy!


Most people know the story around my novel Taunting the Dead and it hitting the Kindle bestsellers list in 2012. It was also the eighth bestselling KDP ebook of that whole year. I, for one, was staggered – even more so because I’d been trying for years to get a traditional book deal to no avail. So what was it about that book? Was it timing? Was it finally being in the right place at the right time? Was it the pricing strategy I used? Or was it because the book was just that little bit different?


When I set out to write Taunting the Dead, my main character Allie Shenton was going to be a family liaison officer. I’d read an article that had peaked my interest about a FLO falling in love with a murder victim’s wife. I read up more about transference –a phenomenon characterised by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another. But as I wrote more of the story, it became clear that Allie would be served better as a detective sergeant and be investigating more people than just the family.


As well as this, a lot of fictional detectives that I was reading about were either alcoholics, divorcees or going through rough patches, or single, unhinged and angry. Now as writers we all know that we couldn’t write about normal, happy cops because there wouldn’t be any tension in the stories – our main character would be dull. So to fit the story that I had decided on, I wanted someone who was in a good stable marriage that could be tested. I wanted Allie’s ‘flaw’ to be that she was attracted to someone that she shouldn’t be. So in Taunting the Dead she has been happily married to her husband Mark for fifteen years.


I’m sure most people at some time during their life have had an attraction to someone who they shouldn’t. Someone somewhere will turn our heads, our stomach will flip over, our inner Goddess (or God) will go phwoaarrr and we’ll be off with the fairies. Yet how many of us would actually act on that feeling? Maybe if someone was having a hard time with their current partner, or if they felt like they were stuck in a rut, and needed a little excitement, they might go for it. But most of us wouldn’t – we’d get through it. We’d do this by reconnecting with the person we’re unhappy with, or finishing a relationship and moving on.


Looking back, when Taunting the Dead was in the top 3 in the overall UK Kindle store in 2012, it was bouncing around with the novel Before I Go To Sleep. I might be wrong, but it feels to me that S J Watson’s book was the start of the era of the unreliable narrator. Ella, one of the main characters in my standalone psychological thriller, Watching over You, is very much like this too – although she writes in a diary and tells of her past, how much do we think is made up as opposed to how much is reality?


So maybe Taunting the Dead is an unreliable narrator book too, so be it with multiple characters. Steph Ryder certainly isn’t likeable. Most of the characters were lying to each other as well as lying to the police, and they weren’t necessarily pleasant characters either. Plus Allie had a crush on a bad guy so she had her flaw too – depending on whether you agree with affairs or not. That was one of the dilemmas in Taunting the Dead – did she or did she not go too far to get to the truth…


Taunting the Dead has been a standalone book for three years. When I got a publishing deal for it, it was then that I decided to write two more books about Allie. Each book has a standalone crime that is solved but there is a sub-plot that starts in Taunting the Dead, goes through a little into book two, Follow the Leader, and is resolved in Only the Brave, book three, which is out in May. Yet a strange thing happened. By the end of these three books, Allie got under my skin so much that I’m now halfway through the first daft of book four with plans for two more.


In Follow the Leader, we see Allie battling with her demons. She knew she was too emotionally involved in the case of Steph Ryder’s murder, so she has some confidence building to do. She needs to stay on the good side of her husband, her colleagues and her boss, plus she is still struggling with the work/life balance because the man who attacked her sister and left her for dead is still out there. She also has a serial killer to catch…


My Review:

A man’s body is found on a canal towpath. In his pocket, a plastic magnet in the shape of an E.
Days later, a second victim is found, this time with the letter V tucked into her clothing.
As the body count rises, the eerie, childlike clues point to a pattern that sends DS Allie Shenton and her colleagues into full alert.

I adored the first Allie Shenton novel – Taunting the Dead- so I was very happy when Mel Sherratt decided to revisit the character in “Follow the Leader” and what we have is a fast paced, intuitive and realistic police drama featuring a terrific main protagonist.

Follow the Leader is not a whodunnit, it is a whydunnit which often is much more interesting and certainly was so here. Dealing with themes of bullying and peer pressure, Mel Sherratt explores the extremes to which such behaviour can affect a life, creating a character who has been pushed over the edge. As Allie and co try to track a killer, we get to see his processes and thoughts, find out about his background and his motivations – this makes for some exciting reading and gives the whole thing a highly addictive quality.

Offset against that, Allie Shenton herself is given a lot more depth, we get a much deeper insight into her personality and background. She has issues – these were given a voice in “Taunting the Dead” but now we have a chance to really dig a lot deeper and find out more about her – she doesnt always make great choices as we discovered in Book One but the reasoning and emotional resonance behind how she is is terrifically well drawn here.

Mel Sherratt has a brilliantly readable writing style, a very definite ability to create characters you care about and give them true psychological depth, whilst at the same time constructing an intelligent and well imagined situation to put them in – constructively speaking this is excellent and will keep you turning those pages to find out what will happen.

I loved this and I am so happy that Allie will be back again – definitely comes highly recommended from me.

Find out more here:

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Purchase Information:

Follow the Tour: Visit here tomorrow A J Waines:


Also Available: Read First


Happy Reading Folks!







Liz Currently Loves….The Storm by Virginia Bergin


Publication Date: 26th Febuary 2015 from Macmillan Childrens

Source: Publisher Review Copy

“I’ll tell you a weird thing about apocalypses – a thing I didn’t even know until I was in one: they seem pretty bad, don’t they? Well, take it from me: they can always get worse.”

Three months after the killer rain first fell, Ruby is beginning to realise her father might be dead . . . and that she cannot survive alone. When a chance encounter lands her back in the army camp, Ruby thinks she is safe – at a price. Being forced to live with Darius Spratt is bad enough, but if Ruby wants to stay she must keep her eyes – and her mouth – shut. It’s not going to happen.

Now I ADORED “The Rain” the first book in this series, so I was really keen to read the follow up – I adored this one as well and the same thing is true of The Storm as was so with The Rain. Its all about Ruby. She is such a terrifically drawn character that you can’t help loving her – although of course it could go the other way. If you love Ruby you’ll love the book. If you don’t you may STILL love the book but for entirely different reasons…

Anyway, in “The Storm” Ruby is having some issues, all alone she goes through something of a mental breakdown and it takes a chance encounter with another person to make her realise this. As she returns more to her own sassy self, she sets off to try and track down her family yet ends up back in the place she once ran away from. Here she discovers dark deeds afoot and in her own indomitable Ruby style she embarks on a rather rambling attempt to sort everything out.

There is a huge amount of character development for Ruby in this follow up novel – in the first one she was kind of shallow, although having to deal with killer rain did make her up her game a bit. By the end of “The Rain” she is growing up – and in The Storm she grows up some more. I have loved watching her from her humble beginnings, where even when everyone was dying around her she still found time to worry about how she looked, to the end of the first book and on into the second as she grows in stature but without losing her totally cool comtemplative edge.

The other side of the story – the apocalypse side – takes on an even more sinister edge and is extremely well imagined.  Human nature being what it is, nothing is straightforward, this part of the plot is cleverly constructed, seen as it is through Ruby’s eyes to give the reader a hint of what lies beneath the surface before Ruby can actually get at the truth. The concept is beautifully frightening and the more “thrilling” aspects of The Storm are really very addictive.

If you liked The Rain you will LOVE this. If you loved Ruby you will be so happy to have her back. Ruby Rocks.

Overall a really really terrific read – I stormed through it (yes that was on purpose) and adored every sassy super moment of it.

Find out more here:

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Purchase Information:

Also Available: Read First.


It’s in the rain…and just one drop will kill you.

They don’t believe it at first. Crowded in Zach’s kitchen, Ruby and the rest of the partygoers laugh at Zach’s parents’ frenzied push to get them all inside as it starts to drizzle. But then the radio comes on with the warning, “It’s in the rain! It’s fatal, it’s contagious, and there’s no cure.”

Two weeks later, Ruby is alone. Anyone who’s been touched by rain or washed their hands with tap water is dead. The only drinkable water is quickly running out. Ruby’s only chance for survival is a treacherous hike across the country to find her father-if he’s even still alive.

My Original Review:


Happy Reading Folks!