Review: The Fear by C. L. Taylor @callytaylor @AvonBooksUK #OvercomeYourFear


Release date: March 22, 2018

Publisher: Avon Books

Genre: Psychological Thriller


When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.

Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.

But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

The million copy Sunday Times bestseller returns with a taut, compelling psychological thriller that will have you glued to the edge of your seat.

Happy publication day to C. L. Taylor, I’m thrilled to be helping to kick off her blog tour today! I have my thoughts about the book to share, but first I have an extract.


I hate surprises. So much so that when Ben rang me at work on Monday and told me to keep the weekend free because he was going to surprise me, I almost ended the call. Instead I pretended to be thrilled.

‘You okay?’ he asks now. ‘You don’t get travel-sick do you?’

If I look pale it’s got nothing to do with the fact that we are rocketing down the A2 in Ben’s battered VW Golf.

‘I’m fine,’ I say. ‘But I wish you’d tell me where we’re going.’

He taps a finger against the side of his nose and smiles. ‘You’ll find out soon enough.’

Ben was never meant to be more than a one-night stand. I figured he’d be straight out of my bed, and my life, the moment our sweat-slicked bodies cooled. But he stuck around. He stayed all night and then insisted on taking me out for breakfast the next day. I said yes, partly because it was less awkward than saying no. Mostly because I was hungry and I didn’t have any food in the house. We ended up staying in the café for over two hours. I learnt that he was a self-employed graphic artist, he’d never been to a gig, and his dad was a massive hypochondriac. He learnt that I was an only child, a project manager for an eLearning company and that my dad had recently died. Ben immediately reached across the table, squeezed my hand and said how sorry he was. When he asked if we’d been close I changed the subject.

I need to go back there at some point, to my childhood home in the rolling green Worcestershire countryside, to clear and clean the farmhouse and put it on the market, but there’s a good reason why I haven’t been back in eighteen years.

Are you intrigued?! You should be, this was a fantastic read!


From the moment I started The Fear I was totally hooked, Taylor drew me into a dark and tangled web and didn’t let me go until the final chapter. Lou was groomed by a much older man when she was a young teenager and now it’s many years later and she’s still struggling to get past it. Grooming is one of those words that sends a chill down my spine as a parent to two girls, the manipulation and abuse associated with it put the fear into me, what an aptly titled book.

This is told from multiple perspectives, Lou both in 2007 and via her diary entries when she was fourteen, then you hear from Chloe, the teenager who Lou fears is being used in the same way that she was and finally, Wendy. You’re never quite sure exactly what Wendy’s angle is or how she fits into the story, but when it’s revealed I did one of those, oohhh I see what you did there moments, super clever! This is extremely fast paced and sharply written, it begs to be read in one sitting as there’s so much tension and anticipation about what will happen next, both in the flashbacks and the 2007 storyline.

I don’t want to discuss the plot much more, just know that if you’re a psychological thriller fan, this is a must read. The characterization is just as strong as the writing and the story is gripping, I really couldn’t ask for more!

The Fear in three words: Absorbing, Shocking and Thrilling.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

#BlogTour The Gardner’s Daughter by Kathryn Hitchins @KathrynHitchins


Release date: March 15, 2018


Motherless nineteen-year-old Ava has always believed brilliant botanist Theo Gage to be her father. But when a chance discovery reveals she is not his daughter, her world falls apart. Determined to discover her true identity, Ava impetuously runs away and enlists the help of inexperienced private detective, Zavier Marshall. Pursued by shadowy figures, she takes on a new name and follows in her dead mother’s footsteps to work at the mysterious Fun World Holiday Camp. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, will Ava survive in a world where she s more valuable dead than alive? Will she discover the shocking truth behind her mother’s death? And will she find her real father before it s too late?

I’m delighted to have on my blog today, K A Hitchins, author of The Girl at the End of the Road and The Key of All Unknown, both short-listed for Woman Alive magazine’s Reader Choice Award 2017. I asked her about the inspiration of her latest novel, The Gardener’s Daughter, released on 15 March 2018.

“It was only when I lost my father and began speaking to friends about what he had meant to me that I realised how many people don’t have a good relationship with their dads, or even had any real contact with them during their childhoods.  I decided I wanted to write a novel about how much our identity is tied up with knowing where we’ve come from.

“A friend had told me of a girl who’d discovered in her teens that she was the result of an extra-marital affair. The other man had backed off when he realised his lover was pregnant with his child. The marriage survived the affair and – after seeing the ultrasound scan – the husband decided to commit himself to raising the baby with his wife. He adopted her officially when she was born, to prevent the biological father coming back on the scene in later years. The girl had a normal and happy childhood, but in her teens her parents told her that her Dad was not her biological father.”

That must have been quite a shock. How did she react?

She was completely devastated: her older sister was her half-sister; her beloved paternal grandparents were not relatives at all. There was a short spell of rebellion before, thankfully, she managed to work through these issues.

So this was the inspiration for your third novel?

Yes. This story fascinated me. I began to realise that many of the positive things in my life were a direct result of the happy and secure upbringing my parents had given me, rather than any intrinsic goodness or talent in me. I decided I wanted to write about identity and how this is affected by the fathers we have – good fathers, bad fathers and absent fathers. My motherless nineteen-year-old heroine, Ava Gage, accidentally discovers she’s adopted when trying to do a good turn for her Godfather. In a fit of anger, she impetuously runs away in search of her biological identity. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, she unearths the shocking truth behind her mother’s death and discovers who her real father is – with a sprinkling of romance and humour along the way!

‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ is a Young Adult thriller. Have you written YA before?

This was my first attempt at YA, but as I have two teenagers at home I thought I would try and write something that would appeal to them. My first novel, The Girl at the End of the Road, is a mystery/romance about a man who loses everything in the credit crunch and goes back home to live with his parents in the Suffolk village of his birth. He bumps into a mysterious woman from his past and discovers that things are not always what they seem, people aren’t always who they appear to be, and a ‘successful life’ depends very much on your perspective.

My second novel, The Key of All Unknown, is the story of brilliant scientific researcher who wakes up in hospital unable to speak or move and with no recollection of what happened to her. Determined to find answers and prove to her family and doctors that she’s not in a persistent vegetative state, she searches for clues in the conversations she overhears and in the fractured memories that haunt her. Slowly realising that nearly everyone she loves or works with has a motive for wanting her dead, her only hope of survival is to discover the truth and unlock the key of all unknown.

I have to admit, that writing YA was more difficult than I envisaged. Having two novels under my belt I thought it would be a breeze to write something for a younger audience but in fact the opposite is true. It isn’t a question of simplifying the writing. Teenagers don’t like to be talked down to, and they won’t waste their time reading something unless they’re gripped from the word go and the storyline relates to the issues in their life.  After all, YA authors aren’t just competing with each other for teenagers’ attention, they’re competing with computer games, YouTube, and social media. Thankfully, the initial pre-release reviews have all been five star, so I must have done something right!

Author Bio

K A Hitchins studied English, Religious Studies and Philosophy at Lancaster University and later obtained a Masters in Postmodern Literatures in English from Birkbeck College, London University. Her debut novel, The Girl at the End of the Road, was published by Instant Apostle in March 2016, followed by The Key of All Unknown in October 2016. Both books were short-listed for Woman Alive magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award 2017, with The Key of All Unknown reaching the final three. Her third novel The Gardener’s Daughter was published on 15 March 2018. She is married with two children and lives in Hertfordshire.

Website Link

Twitter @KathrynHitchins

Facebook Kathryn Hitchins

K A Hitchins, Author page

Instagram kathryn_hitchins

Review: The Baby Plan by Kate Rorick #TheBabyPlan

About The Baby Plan

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 20, 2018)

Smart and funny, The Baby Plan is irresistible! A winner. Susan Mallery, #1 New York Times bestselling author

In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries creator Kate Rorick’s first adult fiction novel, we enter the wild, bewildering world of modern pregnancies. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll shake your head as you wonder where everyone’s sanity went…

Meet the mothers

Nathalie Kneller: Nathalie’s plan: to announce her pregnancy now that she’s finally made it past twelve weeks! But just as she’s about to deliver (so to speak) the big news to her family, her scene-stealing sister barfs all over the Thanksgiving centerpiece. Yup, Lyndi’s pregnant too, swiping the spotlight once more.

Lyndi Kneller:Lyndi’s plan: finally get her life together! She’s got a new apartment, new promotion, new boyfriend. What she didn’t count on, a new baby! She can barely afford her rent, much less a state-of-the-art stroller.

Sophia Nunez: Sophia’s plan: Once she gets her daughter Maisey off to college, she’ll finally be able to enjoy life as make-up artist to one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and girlfriend to one of rocks hottest musicians. But after 18 years she discovers the stork is once again on its way.

Now these women are about to jump headlong into the world of modern day pregnancy. It’s a world of over the top gender reveal parties (with tacky cakes and fireworks); where every morsel you eat is scrutinized and discussed; where baby names are crowd-sourced and sonograms are Facebook-shared. And where nothing goes as planned…

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


I’ve long been drawn to books about pregnancy and motherhood, even well before I had my own kids, but it’s been awhile since I read one this dang good! It reminded me of the chick Lit I used to read when I was younger, sassy and smart with relatable characters and issues, I couldn’t get enough.

This follows three women at very different stages in their lives making it easy to find someone to relate to. Nathalie is a by the rules kind of girl who has everything in her pregnancy planned out perfectly then there’s her sister, Lyndi who is much more laid back, almost too laid back. Sophia already has one child who’s about to graduate high school so a new baby means starting ALL over. Out of them all I liked Sophia the most but all three were well drawn and went through some growth over the course of the book.

Set in L. A. you get a glimpse into the glitzy side of the city as Sophia is a makeup artist for a TV show and you also get to see the over the top personalities and lifestyle choices Cali residents are known for. The modern day look at motherhood is spot on, from online mommy forums to ridiculous gender reveal parties, Rorick nailed every aspect of pregnancy today with humor, this was a funny one y’all! If you enjoy books about friendship, family, parenthood with some sweet and emotional moments add The Baby Plan to your TBR.

The Baby Plan in three words: Witty, Funny and Light.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

About Kate Rorick

Kate Rorick is an Emmy Award winning writer who has worked on a number of television shows, most recently The Librarians on TNT. She was also a writer for the hit web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and authored the two series tie-in novels, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet and The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet. In her other life, she writes bestselling historical romance novels under the name Kate Noble. Kate lives in Los Angeles with her family.

Find out more about Kate at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Review: The Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke @Karenclarke123 @bookouture #BlogTour


Release date: March 15, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Romantic Comedy


Welcome to the Café at Seashell Cove, where you’ll find irresistible home-baked cakes, smiling friendly faces – and maybe even a second chance at love…

When Cassie Maitland needs a holiday from her glamorous but stressful job in event management, she escapes home to gorgeous Seashell Cove, where her family’s cosy café sits perched on the cliffs above sparkling waves and golden sand.

But a lot has changed while Cassie’s been away: her parents have transformed their tired café into a welcoming haven, her friends Meg and Tilly have whole new lives, and old flame Danny’s twinkling eyes and winning smile make Cassie feel even more flustered than they used to.

Keen to throw herself back into local life, Cassie starts to run themed events – including a not entirely successful cat-café day, complete with dozens of felines. Luckily Danny is always around to lend a helping hand, and Cassie soon begins to wonder if her life in London was really all she made it out to be…

Could a new start in Seashell Cove be exactly what Cassie needs?

A heart-warming and hilarious read about friendship, belonging and seaside living. Perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson, Holly Martin and Jenny Oliver.

I’m delighted to be one of the stops on the blog tour for The Cafe at Seashell Cove today!


This book opens with Cassie interrupting her parents in an…AHEM intimate moment and I about fell out of my chair laughing, I just knew I was in for a good time and was I ever right! It was hysterical and really set the tone for how fun this story was. Clarke is one of my favorite authors to turn to when I need a pick me up, she achieves that perfect balance between humor and romance that works so well for me.

Cassie returns home sort of down on her luck, she’s been fired from her London job and her romantic life is pretty stagnant. Instead of the typical plot where the heroine goes home to lick her wounds and get comfort from family, Cassie actually keeps things a secret from then and pretends she left her job willingly and is super happy about it. I love the originality of Clarke’s novels, there’s never anything cookie cutter about them, but she does consistently create lovable and quirky characters that charm me. Cassie’s parents were my favorite they were sweet and doting and always embarrassed Cassie with their affection for each other.

This is set in another idyllic location making it a perfect vacation read, plenty of fun loving moments, a dash of romance and so many laughs my sides were sore after reading! I’m hopeful this is the start to a new series as there were so many characters that I would love to read about again.

The Cafe at Seashell Cove in three words: Charming, hilarious and Effortless.

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Karen Clarke writes romantic comedy novels. Her BEACHSIDE series is set in the fictional seaside town of Shipley and features recurring characters, but each book can be read as a standalone. She is currently working on a new, three-book series set in Devon- the first, The Café at Seashell Cove is out March 15th 2018.

Karen has also written three romcoms with a paranormal twist, all available to download

When she’s not working on her novels, Karen writes short stories for women’s magazines and has had over three hundred published globally. Some of them can be read in her short story collection ‘BEHIND CLOSED DOORS…and other Tales with a Twist’

Karen lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband and three grown-up children.



Author Social Media Links:





Review: The Summer of Secrets by Tilly Tennant @TillyTenWriter @bookouture #BlogBlitz


Release date: March 14, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Romance


Can new love grow when you dig up old secrets?

Recently engaged, Harper Woods wakes up every morning on Silver Hill Farm feeling like the luckiest woman in the world. She has escaped her troubled past, outside the rolling yellow cornfields go on for miles and just downstairs are the gorgeous tea rooms she’s always dreamed of owning.

But Harper is about to discover something that will change her luck forever. For better or worse? She has no idea. Not until an expert can identify whether the jewellery she found hidden in the farm’s foundations is priceless, or utterly worthless…

As news of the discovery spreads through the village, there are others who’d like to lay their claim to the fortune. In particular, Will Frampton, handsome recluse and Lord of Silver Hill House, the crumbling stately home on the other side of the hill in desperate need of renovation.

It seems everyone wants a piece of the sparkling prize hidden under the Silver Hill tea rooms. But as relationships are tested and tea cakes begin to fly, will anyone catch the romance blossoming in the most unexpected of places?

Love and laughter are the biggest reward of them all in this utterly heart-warming romance, perfect for fans of Jane Linfoot, Debbie Johnson and Jenny Colgan.

I’m so pleased to be one of the stops on the blog blitz for The Summer of Secrets today!


Diving into a new Tilly Tennant novel is akin to eating a delicious meal filled with all of my go to comfort foods and The Summer of Secrets did not disappoint! Even though I wasn’t able to take a trip anywhere fun for spring break this year this gem of a book swept me away to a quaint, charming little village which was the next best thing to a real vacation.

Tennant has a real knack for crafting lovable characters that I just can’t get enough of. Harper runs a farm with her best friend Pip and their friendship was so sweet and genuine, I just adored them both. As for the romance there was plenty going on here as Harper is engaged to Shay and there are several other budding relationships but to say more would just spoil it. The portrayal of how these romances unfolds is always so practical and just rings true, I so appreciate that! Tennant always alludes to sex in a classy, subtle way and I really think that makes it even sexier than if she went into detail about what was happening with her characters in the bedroom.

What do I look for in a romance novel? Interesting characters and an intriguing plot to start and this one definitely has that, there’s a light mystery that keep me engaged and plenty of lovely characters to root for. I also want a great setting and the village was adorable and so beautifully described. Finally, I want a bit of humor and a lot of heart and I got more than enough of both here, I always finish her books with a smile on my face and a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. So if you’re a fan of contemporary romance and looking for a vacation read check this one out!

The Summer of Secrets in three words: Sweet, Delightful and Heartfelt.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing. She wrote a novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor, and considers herself very lucky that this enables her to read many wonderful books before the rest of the world gets them.

Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was her debut novel; published in 2014 it was an Amazon bestseller in both the UK and Australia. In 2016 she signed to the hugely successful Bookouture and is currently working on her next Tilly Tennant novel. She also writes as Sharon Sant, where she explores the darker side of life, and Poppy Galbraith, where things get a little crazier.


Author Social Media Links




Review: Hot Mess by Emily Belden #BlogTour


Release date: March 20, 2018

Publisher: Graydon House

Genre: Women’s Fiction


Sweetbitter meets The Devil Wears Prada in this riveting and provocative novel set in the trendy Chicago restaurant scene.

Twenty-something Allie Simon never imagined she’d fall for a recovering drug addict—but that was before she met Benji Zane, Chicago’s hottest up-and-coming chef, who’s known as much for his hard partying ways as for his unparalleled culinary skills. Six months into their relationship, the food and chemistry are out of this world, but the reality of living with a cooking wunderkind hasn’t exactly been all hearts and flowers. Still, Allie’s convinced that her love is the key to fixing this talented man’s broken soul—so when Benji is offered his dream job as chef de cuisine for a new restaurant opening on Randolph Street, Chicago’s foodie hot spot, Allie agrees to invest her life savings in his future. But less than a month after she goes all in, Allie learns a heartbreaking lesson: addicts lie. Benji cracks under the pressure, relapses and disappears, bagging out not only on the restaurant, but on her, too. Left with nothing but a massive withdrawal slip and a restaurant that absolutely must open in a matter of weeks, Allie finds herself thrust into a world of luxury and greed, cutthroat business and sensory delight. Lost in the mess of it all, she can either crumble completely or fight like hell for the life she wants and the love she deserves.

With razor-sharp wit and searing insight, Emily Belden serves up a deliciously dishy look behind the kitchen doors of a hot foodie town.

I’m so pleased to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Hot Mess today! Check out TLC Book Tours for the full schedule.


If you like wickedly delicious humor, a not so perfect love story and mouth watering descriptions of food, Hot Mess needs to be on your TBR! This is told solely from Allie’s point a view, a twenty five year old woman entangled in a dark relationship with a bad boy chef, Benji. I’m not sure if hot mess even accurately describes the total nightmare that is their union, but she believes in Benji despite his drug addiction and selfish behavior. I liked Allie and was totally rooting for her, she’s young and a bit naive but she’s loyal to a fault and she had a sassy side that was great. Benji was ugh, I’ve been in a relationship with a drug addict before and it’s not pretty, Belden did a great job accurately portraying what’s it like to live with an addict.

While much of this book was light and fun it has a dark edgy side that was realistic. As much as I consider myself to be a minor foodie I don’t know much about actually operating a restaurant and the insiders look at the not so glam industry was juicy and fascinating. It’ll also make you hungry and may even cause you to want to binge watch Top Chef, or maybe that’s just me? The writing was solid and full of snark with a side of millennial humor and a dash of social media obsession, what more could you want?! Maybe a bit of romance? Don’t worry, Belden has you covered this is a sexy little read but the romance isn’t the star, the food is! And Allie, she’s a bright little star and the backdrop of Chicago doesn’t hurt either, it adds a hip vibe that was really cool. If you like foodie fiction definitely check this one out, totally recommended.

Hot Mess in three words: Snarky, Sexy and Delicious.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

About the Author:

Emily Belden is an author for powerhouse publisher, Harlequin/HarperCollins. She is represented by famed literary agency, Browne & Miller, along with 44 Blue Productions in Burbank. The SoCal studio is adapting her memoir into a comedic series.


Connect with Emily

Website | Facebook  | Twitter

Review: If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin #BlogTour

About If I Die Tonight Paperback:384 pages
Publisher:William Morrow Paperbacks (March 6, 2018)

Reminiscent of the bestsellers of Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben with a dose of Big Little Lies or Stranger Things an absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense from the author of the highly acclaimed and Edgar Award-nominated What Remains of Me and the USA Today bestselling and Shamus Award-winning Brenna Spector series, in which a seemingly open-and-shut police case with a clear-cut hero and villain turns out to be anything but simple.

Late one night in the quiet Hudson Valley town of Havenkill, a distraught woman stumbles into the police station and lives are changed forever.

Aimee En, once a darling of the 80s pop music scene, claims that a teenage boy stole her car, then ran over another young man who’d rushed to help.

As Liam Miller’s life hangs in the balance, the events of that fateful night begin to come into focus. But is everything as it seems?

The case quickly consumes social media, transforming Liam, a local high school football star, into a folk hero, and the suspect, a high school outcast named Wade Reed, into a depraved would-be killer. But is Wade really guilty? And if he isn’t, why won’t he talk?

Told from a kaleidoscope of viewpoints Wade’s mother Jackie, his younger brother Connor, Aimee En and Pearl Maze, a young police officer with a tragic past, If I Die Tonight is a story of family ties and dark secrets and the lengths we’ll go to protect ourselves.

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


This was one of those books that pulls you in right from the start, it has a powerful prologue and then flips back in time five days earlier. It’s told from a handful of perspectives but I enjoyed hearing from Jackie, mom to two teenaged boys and Pearl, a police officer the most. Jackie was relatable to me and I could feel her anxiety and fear for her sons, it broke my heart to pieces and the author did a fantastic job at showing a mother’s worst fears. You get a sprinkling of police procedural as well with Pearl’s POV and she was exactly the kind of cop I like reading about, flawed and damaged with an interesting backstory but still has a heart of gold.

This book scared me and I don’t mean that in the traditional sense of the word, it scared me in a realistic way as I can easily see this sort of thing happening in real life. Wade is an outcast at his high school, he’s a social pariah and really has no friends. When’s he’s the main suspect after his super popular classmate is hit by a car, what little dignity and solitude he had is shattered. Social media played a huge role in this book, much as it plays a huge part in all of our lives daily and showcased the dark side of it and how powerful it really can be. The gossip, speculation and rumors after the small town of Havenkill are rocked by the accident is unreal, the author likens it to a virus, a disease and that’s such a great comparison as these vicious rumors infect the whole town and impact so many people’s lives.

This was my first book by Gaylin and I’m really impressed, she weaves a compelling story and one that kept my attention the whole way through. This would be a great book club read as it tackles many relevant and current issues such as peer pressure, metal health issues and the negative effects of social media. Recommended for fans of authors like David Bell and Harlan Coben.

If I Die Tonight in three words: Timely, Compelling and Tense.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

Photo by Franco Vogt[/caption]

About Alison Gaylin

Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed and Heartless; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York.

Find out more about Alison at her website, friend her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Review: The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne @SherylBrowne @bookouture #BlogBlitz


Release date: March 8, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Psychological Thriller


You trust her with your family. Would you trust her with your life?

Mark and Melissa Cain are thrilled to have found Jade, a babysitter who is brilliant with their young children. Having seen her own house burn to the ground, Jade needs them as much as they need her. Moving Jade into the family home can only be a good thing, can’t it?

As Mark works long hours as a police officer and Melissa struggles with running a business, the family become ever more reliant on their babysitter, who is only too happy to help. And as Melissa begins to slip into depression, it’s Jade who is left picking up the pieces.

But Mark soon notices things aren’t quite as they seem. Things at home feel wrong, and as Mark begins to investigate their seemingly perfect sitter, what he discovers shocks him to his core. He’s met Jade before. And now he suspects he might know what she wants …

Mark is in a race against time to protect his family. But what will he find as he goes back to his family home?

If you loved reading The Girl on the TrainBehind Closed Doors and The Sister, you’ll love the suspense of The Babysitter. This unputdownable read will have you turning the pages until way after dark.

I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog blitz for The Babysitter today!


I absolutely love the premise for this one, the idea that a couple has let someone into their home to work with their children that has less than honorable intentions, it’s terrifying! Jade seems like the perfect babysitter for Mark and Mel’s children, but she’s too perfect and you know what they say about if something seems too good to be true…

This was an extremely fast paced and exciting read, I read it in just two sittings and only then had to stop to deal with real life otherwise it would’ve been a one sitting read. It had super short chapters which is always a favorite of mine and Jade was the type of character you just love to hate. She was manipulative and deplorable and you know right away she’s up to no good but what intrigued me was wondering what her motivations were and also what her master plan was, what was her end game? I thought I had it all worked out by Browne threw me for a loop with some surprises that were unexpected. I really loved how things all came together in the end and the final chapter was particularly special, clever lady!

The Babysitter in three words: Sinister, Engaging and Sly

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Sheryl Browne brings you powerful psychological thriller and contemporary fiction. SheryI’s latest psychological thriller THE BABYSITTER – the first of a three-book deal – comes to you from fabulous BOOKOUTURE. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and previously writing for award winning Choc Lit, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

So why does Sheryl write in two genres? Quoting E. L. Doctorow, Sheryl says: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights…” This she thinks sums up a writer’s journey, you never quite know where you are going until you get there. You might start with an outline, but a strong character will always divert from the plot. If Sheryl’s not sure where a character is going, she simply has to trust him to show her the way. Plus, according to one reviewer, she also has a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath.

Please do find out more about Sheryl at


and Twitter

Review: The Sandman by Lars Kepler #TheSandman #LarsKepler

Release date: March 6, 2018

Publisher: Knopf

Genre: Crime Fiction


The #1 internationally best-selling thriller from the author of The Hypnotist tells the chilling story of a manipulative serial killer and the two brilliant police agents who must try to beat him at his own game.

Late one night, outside Stockholm, Mikael Kohler-Frost is found wandering. Thirteen years earlier, he went missing along with his younger sister. They were long thought to have been victims of Sweden’s most notorious serial killer, Jurek Walter, now serving a life sentence in a maximum security psychiatric hospital. Now Mikael tells the police that his sister is still alive and being held by someone he knows only as the Sandman. Years ago, Detective Inspector Joona Linna made an excruciating personal sacrifice to ensure Jurek’s capture. He is keenly aware of what this killer is capable of, and now he is certain that Jurek has an accomplice. He knows that any chance of rescuing Mikael’s sister depends on getting Jurek to talk, and that the only agent capable of this is Inspector Saga Bauer, a twenty-seven-year-old prodigy. She will have to go under deep cover in the psychiatric ward where Jurek is imprisoned, and she will have to find a way to get to the psychopath before it’s too late–and before he gets inside her head.


Ahh I’m SO excited to share my thoughts on The Sandman today!! There’s a blog tour going on featuring some of my favorites bloggers and Instagram accounts so be sure and check them out for all sorts of fun content. You may want to check out my Instagram later today too….😜


Allow me to introduce you to my first MUST read book of 2018. If you’re a crime fiction fan you absolutely cannot miss this book, it’s extremely fast paced and exciting, the twists and turns are executed flawlessly and the serial killer is one of the most terrifying I’ve ever read about. If you’re at all hesitant please share your concerns with me because I promise you, if you start this one I don’t think you’ll regret it for one second.

This is the fourth book in a series following Joona Linnea but you can definitely read it as a standalone as I did as each book in the series seems to follow new cases with reoccurring characters. Speaking of characters, this book had some of the most complex, interesting characters I’ve ever encountered. They’re all multilayered and have fascinating histories, I fell a little bit in love with Joona and Saga. Jurek scared the daylights out of me, I probably shouldn’t have finished this at one am when my entire family was asleep but no way was I about to put this one down before I finished!

Much of the story takes place inside a high security psychiatric institution, talk about a creepy atmosphere! There were so many intense, heart pounding scenes that took place inside those walls and they were so well written that I was scared myself. Between the extraordinarily crafted setting and the crisp, precise writing style, I just could not get enough of this one. I’ll close by urging you once again not to miss this one, it’s outstanding!

The Sandman in three words: Gripping, Transfixing and Petrifying.

Overall rating: 5/5 (ALL THE STARS)

Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

About the Author:

Lars Kepler is the pseudonym of critically acclaimed husband and wife team Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril (b. 1966) and Alexander Ahndoril (b. 1967), authors of the internationally bestselling Joona Linna and Saga Bauer series. With six installments to date, the series has sold ten million copies in 40 languages.

The Ahndorils were both established writers before they adopted the pen name Lars Kepler, and have each published several acclaimed novels.

Alexander and Alexandra married in 1994 and have three daughters together. They live in central Stockholm.


Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril was born in 1966, and grew up on the south coast of Sweden. In the early 90s, Alexandra moved to Stockholm to pursue a career in acting though she eventually became an author.

In 2003, she published her critically acclaimed debut novel Stjärneborg (Stjerneborg) about the life of astronomer Tycho Brahe which received the Katapult Prize, Birgitta och Katarina (Birgitta and Katarina, 2006) about the life of Saint Birgitta of Sweden, and Mäster (2009), about the radical socialist August Palm.

In addition to her work as an author, Alexandra has also been a literary critic for two of Sweden’s largest newspapers, Göteborgs-Posten and Dagens Nyheter.


Alexander was born in 1967 and grew up twelve miles north of Stockholm. Alexander studied philosophy, religion, and film at university. His first novel was picked up when he was nineteen.

Before he began writing as Lars Kepler, he had already penned twenty theatre plays, one opera libretto, nine novels including Regissören (The Director, 2006) a novel about Ingmar Bergman. Regissören was nominated for several awards, including the prestigious Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and has been translated into 11 languages.

#BlogTour Fire on the Mountain by Jean McNeil @jeanmcneilwrite @legend_press


Release date: February 15, 2018

Publisher: Legend Press



When NGO worker Nick drops unexpectedly into the lives of Pieter and Sara Lisson, he feels he has found the parents he never had. Nick is enraptured by their lives of splendour and acclaim as much as the stirring setting of the African city where they live, but he soon senses a secret at the heart of his new family. Nick then meets Riaan, the Lissons’ son, and so begins an intense connection that threatens to erupt into a relationship neither had ever considered. In the shadow of the Brandberg, the glowing mountain that stands at the heart of the desert, Nick will discover that his passion for Riaan is not the only fire which threatens his newfound home.

I’m so pleased to be the stop on the blog tour for Fire on the Mountain today! I have an extract to share with you all.



‘Nice part of town,’ the taxi driver said, as soon as I gave him the address. I couldn’t read the tone in his voice – envy, rue, contempt. Perhaps all three.

We began the long ascent of the mountain. I craned my neck to look at the city beneath us. I could see where I had come from now, the wide-mouthed harbour anked by half- nished highways. This was where I’d been marooned for days. Some of the overhead yways simply stopped abruptly halfway along the roadway, like the highest platform in a diving pool. From up here the gigantic Chinese container ships and oil rigs looked so much smaller. I allowed my eye to skate over the ship, but even so my heart lurched as its green hull ashed at me in the mid-day sun.

We kept ascending, so quickly my ears popped. I could smell jasmine and frangipani through the car windows. We wound through tree-darkened avenues. The houses expanded with each metre climbed until they were full- blown palaces. Finally the taxi delivered me to a sandstone- coloured structure perched on the side of the mountain. It looked like a house you might nd in a Dutch village, adapted for life in the subtropics.

‘I didn’t know it was possible to live this far up,’ I said to the taxi driver.

‘It is if you’ve got enough money.’

I buzzed the gate and spoke to a woman’s voice – Sara, I supposed. The gate slid open and we glided up the drive, so steep it felt like being in a funicular. Stout plants clambered over the terraced levels on either side of the driveway; they were spiky and bulbous at the same time, with avid, rubbery leaves.

A blond woman with jade green eyes descended the steps to the house. She seemed to oat; her sense of ownership was that complete. She was long-legged, dressed in white trousers and a sand-coloured blouse.

‘Pieter is out running,’ Sara said, as she gave me her hand. ‘He’s training for the marathon.’

‘Oh.’ I nearly said, but I thought he was a writer. I’d never pictured a writer running a marathon.

‘Come in, let me get you some coffee.’

I dropped my bags. I saw her eye glance at them nervously, as if I had brought dogs and not luggage. She motioned for me to sit in the living room.

When I entered the room I couldn’t help but stop and stand stock-still. My jaw may even have fallen open.

‘Quite the view, isn’t it?’ Her voice, the cool neutrality of it, told me that many a guest had been similarly stopped in their tracks.

The wide arc of the bay was stretched out before us. In the distance was the low, whale-like back of Garzia Island, which even with my slim knowledge of the city I knew was a former penal colony from when the Portuguese were still loitering on this promontory of the planet, hoping for lucre.

To the right of Garzia Island were blonde hills which gleamed like ax in the sun. The mountain with its strenuous attened peak lled an entire window. The living room was glass on two sides. The thought entered and exited my mind, too eeting to matter. People in glass houses.

Sara went to the kitchen. Later she would tell me she asked me to sit down three times that morning but as soon as I sat I stood up again.

I could not tear my eyes away from the mountain. The jagged peak that marked one undulation of its range soared into the sky, piercing a hole in it. Next to the house a date palm towered, its trunk of scaled chocolate bark perfectly offsetting the dark shale of the mountain. Straight ahead was the ocean; off to one side was the harbour, half-hidden behind a headland. My eye rested on it again for a second. The ship, patiently waiting alongside the quay.

I reminded myself it was Saturday. Tomorrow the ship will leave.

‘So,’ Sara began, when she nally got me off my feet. ‘How long are you here for?’

‘I’m not sure. I – I’ve just had a change of plan.’

She nodded, calmly. If she had been English, alarm bells would already have been sounding in her mind: How long will I be stuck with this person? Why does he have so much baggage? Why has a random contact of our niece ended up on our doorstep?

‘Well this is as good a place as any to have your plans change.’ She smiled easily, warmly, I thought. ‘You can certainly stay here as long as you like. We’ve got no one coming until April.’

It was mid-December. ‘It shouldn’t be that long, at least I hope not,’ I said. ‘I’ll just make some arrangements for my trip home, and then let you know.’

‘That’s absolutely ne. It’s a pleasure to have a friend of Ruth’s here.’ Her delivery was unruf ed, awless.

I accepted Sara’s invitation to join her on a walk on the mountain behind the house. She met me at the bottom of the steps. She’d changed into trim shorts. She must have been in her late fties or early sixties but her legs were perfect; there was nothing of the tell-tale bulge of skin at the knees, or those black spidering veins. I stared long enough for her to take my amazement as a compliment, perhaps, because she gave a sudden smile.

We started down the road, which soon ended in a paved cul-de-sac. From it a path led into a sparse forest. It was dry as tinder in areas, the ground parched and weedy. All

the trees and owers we passed were unfamiliar – thick, bulbous owers. They looked water-hungry but somehow thrived in the seasonally dry climate.

We came to a ssure in the mountain. The sound of water cascading came to meet us. The trees parted to reveal a narrow stream.

‘Slaves would come here to wash clothes,’ Sara said. Her voice was complex – rich, melodic, but with a tinge of darkness to it, or perhaps this saturnine note was code for her disapproval of the city’s history.

I looked up, trying to nd the mountain’s summit among clouds. I could feel it, somehow, that this shaded bower had once been a place of hardship. Alongside the river were stone steps, knee-worn through hundreds of years of prostrations, and beside them, at, table-like washing rocks. I could see the interlacing strata of grey mudstone and sandstone, its outer shield dark shale. Then layers of granite: feldspar, quartz, black mica, all glittering in the strange bright light.

Sara smiled. ‘You seem trans xed.’

‘By the mountain? I guess so. I used to be a geologist.’ ‘But now you work for a humanitarian relief organisation.

How does that t in?’

I was used to this comment. I can’t work you out, people

– colleagues, my line manager, strangers met on planes, would say.

‘It’s complicated.’ I offered an apologetic smile.

‘Everything’s complicated.’ Her laugh was itself complex, rueful, rise-above-it-all. ‘Pieter should be back about lunch- time. He’ll need to take a shower and wind down.’

‘Does he often train for marathons?’

‘Oh yes, and cycle races, triathlons, endurance contests. Everyone does that here.’

By everyone she couldn’t have meant the squatter camps I’d seen on the way in from the airport, their faded tutti- frutti shacks, people inside broiled alive by tin roofs in the

summer and congealed in winter. They were enrolled in a different endurance contest.

We arrived back at the house. Sara showed me to their guest at, which was self-contained but attached to the main house through an internal door. She told me they had designed and built the at themselves, and that she used to see her clients there while Pieter worked in his basement of ce.

By then the sun parried the swift ocean clouds for position and shone through, the light bright, carrying within it the promise of a humid heat, should the clouds dissolve. I stood in the light for a minute as Sara undid the three locks and de-activated the house alarm. I registered what was about to happen to me. For a moment, I thought I would be alright. But I could only watch helplessly as the air gathered itself into blackberries, then went dark.

‘We thought we’d lost you there.’

up.It felt like I was lying on concrete. I realised I was. I sat

I opened my eyes into the face of a blond-haired man. He was crouching on one knee. His ngers were wrapped around my wrist. He might be a doctor. There was a clinical glint in his gaze. His voice was familiar, somehow, although I’d never seen him before.

‘Nothing to be sorry about. We’d like you to lie down inside, though. You might nd that more comfortable.’

‘Hey, take it easy.’

‘I’m so sorry.’

‘I haven’t been sleeping well,’ I said, as the man helped me to my feet. ‘I haven’t been eating either.’

‘Not sleeping and not eating, hey?’ His tone was avuncular, but suspicious.

‘I’ve been under a lot of stress – at home.’

‘That’s ne, Nick, don’t worry,’ Sara’s voice came from somewhere behind me. ‘We just want to make sure you’re alright. You fainted stone dead, there.’

I realised the man was Pieter. ‘We’re going to put you in bed and then we’ll call Marina, our doctor.’

‘No!’ I nearly shouted. ‘I mean, I don’t want to put you to any trouble. Please don’t make a fuss. It’s just dehydration. I’ll take a couple of salt sachets. I’m not concussed. I’ll be ne.’

They looked at me in tandem, a double-headed puppet of concern, the same kind-but-wary expressions on their tanned, shining faces. They don’t know you from Adam, I told myself. You have to reassure them.

‘I’ve had some dif cult decisions to make recently, and it’s left me very strung out. But I’m ne, now.’

Sara gave me the sturdy, professional look psychiatrists likely turn on liars.

‘Okay, Nick. But take those salts and get some sleep. We’ll check on you in a few hours.’

When I woke it was late afternoon. My bedroom had a patio door. I opened it and was confronted with a garden, two chairs, and the same panoramic view of the harbour and mountain, although the majestic sweep I’d admired in the living room was curtailed by the curve of the house.

The light lay in gold ribbons on the anks of the mountain. A heat haze had settled over the harbour, blurring the outlines of supertankers. My eye scurried over the quay where the ship was moored but not before I’d seen that it was still there.

I resolved to tell Pieter and Sara the truth, of my fainting spell, why I was here, why I had no idea how long I would stay. They had been kind to me, they deserved to know.

Pieter appeared from around a corner. He wore a crisp white shirt tucked into jeans and a leather belt. He was barefoot and his hair was plastered to his head from his shower. He was very thin – one of those men who are naturally so. You could see the architecture of the bones and muscles in his face.

‘How are you feeling?’ ‘Much better.’

‘You haven’t got a headache?’

‘No, nothing like that. No concussion.’

‘That’s good. I had one once. I came off my bike, just up

there, on the mountain.’

This was the moment in which I would say, Look, I’ve

just made this crazy decision I don’t understand. I’m not supposed to be here, but I’ve got nowhere to go.

We turned our faces in tandem, like sun owers, toward the setting sun.

‘This time of year the sun rises in the sea and sets behind the mountain – we get light all day,’ Pieter said. ‘The people who live on the other side are spared the wind but they get far less light.’

My confession unravelled itself, or it abandoned me, or I let it be carried away by the moment. I had so little experience with secrets, guilty or otherwise. I’d never liked them; a secret was a dripping overheated greenhouse.

‘I’ve never been anywhere the wind is so erce in the summer,’ I said.

‘Not like that in England, is it?’

A dog appeared, a mongrel, or a cross, a bullish dog with a bruiser’s face.

‘Hello, Lucy.’ He turned to me and grinned. ‘The name doesn’t really t the face, does it. But she’s a sweetheart. Arr! Grrr!’ He planted his legs wide apart, a position of mock threat. Lucy went wild with pleasure, charging away, thrilled, then turning on a dime to come back to face the monster.

Behind Pieter I saw a bright light that seemed to zing from inside him in a perfect giant Z, a ash of miniature lightning.

‘What was that?’

‘Transformer.’ Pieter pointed to a sizzling cylinder nestling in a telegraph pole halfway down the road. ‘They often explode – too much load on the system. Don’t be alarmed if the electricity cuts out. We have candles.’

He turned back to the dog, who rushed at him, growling, purple gums bared. For a moment I thought she would bite. But she stuck her head between his calves and squealed with delight.

‘We have rolling electricity cuts, this time of year,’ he went on. ‘They announce them in the paper, supposedly, but it can cut out any time.’

‘Are there shortages?’

‘Ah, if only it were that easy. No, it’s corruption, mis- management. A new government is about to be elected, although we’re in a one-party state, effectively. It makes you appreciate how useful it is to have two political parties contesting each other, however bad either of them will be. At least it bestows symmetry if not a chance for historical dialectic.’

His speech reminded me of the policy analysts in our of ce in London. I wasn’t used to athletic, vital men who were also intellectuals, if that’s what Pieter was. I lived in a country where a certain kind of man got things done, and a certain kind of man thought about things. Perhaps here they could be one and the same.

‘It’s not only power, but other infrastructure.’ He pointed into the harbour. Along its perimeter, an eight-lane highway conveyed sun-glinted cars into the interior like platelets rushing down an artery. Pieter told me that the diving board freeways I’d seen on my way in had been built in a spasm of economic optimism, which had just expired.

‘You are English, aren’t you?’ he peered at me.

‘The way you say it, it’s not a good thing to be.’

‘Well, it might not be, you know. The English don’t

have a good reputation in this country. They quashed the independence movement, then established a colonial system that set the country back a hundred years.’

‘I am,’ I conceded. ‘But I don’t feel very English. I was brought up all over the place – South America, Canada, the Caribbean.’

‘Was your father a diplomat?’

‘My mother, actually.’

‘Ah,’ Pieter gave a thin smile. ‘I fell into that trap didn’t I? Sorry. You know, you don’t look English either. You’re too dark. In fact you don’t look anything.’ He smiled. If I had known him better then I would have said I always felt like someone drawn in pencil. A child’s drawing of a man, maybe. Anyone could take an eraser and rub me out.

‘I’m impressed you still have the energy to play with the dog,’ I said. ‘After all that running.’

Sara answered for him. She emerged from the patio into the full sun, her hair gleaming. ‘Pieter’s got amazing energy. You’ll see.’

I turned to face Sara. ‘It must be so gruelling.’

‘Yes, it is sometimes.’ Sara smiled.

‘No, I didn’t mean… I meant the training.’

Sara only laughed. ‘Get some sleep, Nick. And don’t

forget to rehydrate.’

There was something jarring in her voice, not dismissive

but rather ironic, as if they still did not believe my story. I turned to look into her eyes. The note in her gaze was evaluative – masculine, I would have said until recently, but I realise now that this is a shorthand for something intangible I associate with men: a streamlining of judgement, an absence of empathy, or perhaps better said, a professionalisation of it. Or maybe just something withheld.

I went to bed in their granny at. Despite my fatigue I could not get to sleep for a long time. I listened to the night wind, which sliced sideways along the garden. Through a ssure in the curtain I saw the lights of the city stretched around the bay, a semi-circle of distant ickering candles.

I found myself thinking of Sara, of her contained quality. Her jade eyes and heart-shaped face. She was a professional, well-to-do, elegant woman who drove a Mercedes, but I had a sense this version of her was a decoy.

As I fell asleep that night in my new bed I thought, these are the strangest days I have lived in years, possibly in my

whole life. Here I am, in the house lled with people I don’t know, in a city where I never expected to spend more than a few days, telling lies, or no, that’s not quite right: not telling the truth. Why then do I feel such serenity, as if I have come home?