Extracts

The Woman In The Woods – J.E. Rowney

Happy Publication Day to J.E. Rowney, who’s latest psychological thriller, The Woman In The Woods is released today. I have the honour of sharing an extract of the book with you all as part of the publication day festivities.

BLURB:

Seb is an asshole. Katie is an angel.

When Seb’s night-time activity stretches their relationship to its limits, the couple decide to take a last-chance holiday to see if there’s anything left to be fixed.

The cabin looked idyllic, but behind the soft furnishings and fluffy throws there’s a creeping sense of unease.

They thought they were fighting for their relationship – will they end up fighting for their lives?

You can purchase your copy of The Woman In The Woods HERE

the woman in the woods cover

EXTRACT:

The road to the cabin takes us through Culloton. It’s one of those nowhere places. A name on a map. A village you’d only be aware of if you were a local. The village is not on any route to anywhere. The curtains are closed in the tiny windows of the tiny terraced cottages that line the narrow road. The streetlights seem dimmer here than they do back home. I’d like to say that it’s atmospheric, but really it feels plain eerie, like any minute a fog is going to descend and zombies are going to come thundering down the road. The image isn’t helped by the creepy ass sign that hangs outside the only building with a light on.

Something about it catches my attention.

“Watch the road!” Katie says, nudging me unnecessarily as I turn my head to do a double take.

“Weird name for a pub.” I nod my head towards the rear-view mirror.

She shuffles around in her chair to look over her shoulder.

“Not really,” she says, sounding disappointed. Disappointed in me, not disappointed by the pub. Disappointed that I raised her expectations. You’d think she would be used to it.

‘The Woman in the Woods’. Maybe it’s not such a weird name, but something about it gave me a chill. Must have been my melodramatic, zombie-creating brain at work. If you have a dull life and dull thoughts, you have to start making things up.

“Maybe we can come down for drinks one night?” I take a shot at turning things around.

Katie grunts a response that could mean yes or no. I give up.

She’s got her feet up on the dashboard now. I’ve told her, more than once, not to do that, but she doesn’t listen. That’s a lie. She clearly did listen, because she’s taken her shoes off. Instead of her dirty Birkenstocks, she’s resting her bare soles on the dash. She’s got the seat pushed back as far as it will go, but she’s still scrunch-folded, trying to fit into position in the tiny space.

I can’t let myself get too pissed off about it; I’m concentrating on the road, trying to work out where the turning is. My satnav has already given up trying to guide me. The satellite connection is almost non-existent out here.

“Hey,” Katie says. She jabs a finger into my arm like a small blunt dagger. “Hey,” she repeats as she prods.

I take a hand off the wheel and bat at her as if she were a mosquito.

“Quit it.” I glance at her quickly, looking for long enough to catch her expression. That miserable sulky look I’ve come to know and hate. That look is one of the reasons we are here.

“Answer me then,” she buzzes.

I take a deep breath and try to remember what it was that she asked me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author photo jerowneyJ.E. Rowney spent several years in the cold Yorkshire hills, but now lives on the south coast of England. She spent ten years working as a midwife before turning in her gloves to become an author.

She is an award winning poet, and also enjoys writing short stories. In May 2020 she was the winner of the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction.

“Charcoal,” her first novel, was published in 2012 to wide critical acclaim, and was a bestselling novel on Amazon within days of release.

She spends lots of time writing in coffee shops, so if see her, say hello.

Ms. Rowney says: “I always dreamed of being a writer, until I realised that I was. Then I started to write.”

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Book Review

The Chalet – Catherine Cooper

Today, I am joining the blog tour for The Chalet by Catherine Cooper. Many thanks to Catherine, and to Harper Collins, for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

BLURB:

Four friends. One luxury getaway. The perfect murder.

“I was gripped from start to finish” Cass Green

French Alps, 1998

Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.

20 Years Later

Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret.

Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.

Someone knows what really happened that day.

And somebody will pay.

An exciting new debut for anyone who loves Ruth Ware, Lucy Foley, and C.L. Taylor

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

The Chalet Cover Image

REVIEW:

Told from multiple points of view, and spanning the years from a skiing accident in 1998 through to the present day, The Chalet is a carefully constructed thriller that put me in mind of Lucy Foley’s The Hunting Party.

In the mismatched gathering of people staying at the chalet of the title in 2020, Catherine Cooper creates a well constructed cast of characters, each with something to hide, and with a different reason for wanting to be at the ski resort. Whilst I found more than one character thoroughly unlikeable, their presence served to increase the tension throughout the book, whereas the characters I found myself liking added a warmth to the story that is sometimes missing from books of this nature.

I sped through this book, unable to put it down in my eagerness to tie all the stories together, and uncover who was connected to the events of 1998 and how. Before you start reading this book, make sure you have plenty of time for a good long reading session, because I don’t think you will be able to stop reading once you start.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Catherine Cooper Author PicCatherine Cooper is a freelance journalist writing for many national newspapers and magazines, specialising in travel. Most recently she has written several ski pieces for the Guardian and is currently compiling a 50 best holidays round up for the Telegraph. She also makes regular appearances as a talking head on daytime TV. She lives in France with her husband and two teenage children, and is a keen skier.

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Book Review

One Step Behind – Lauren North

Today’s review is of Lauren North’s psychological thriller, One Step Behind. Many thanks to Lauren and Random House for my copy of the book which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

Jenna is a wife, a mother, a doctor. She’s also the victim of a stalker.

Every time she leaves her house, she sees him. Disturbing gifts are left at her door. Cruel emails are sent to her colleagues. She has no idea who this man is but she feels powerless against him.

Until the day he is brought into her hospital after a serious accident, and Jenna is given the chance to find out once and for all why this man is tormenting her. Now, the power is all hers.

But how many lines is she willing to cross to take back control of her life?

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REVIEW:

When I am not reading fantasy books, my other favourite genre has to be psychological thrillers, and I am always on the lookout for books from this genre that offer something a little bit different. One Step Behind is just such a book, and is one that I read cover to cover in just one sitting. Once I started reading, I simply couldn’t stop until I knew who was terrorising Jenna and why.

Lauren North captures the terror that victims of stalking must feel in a way that will probably have me looking over my shoulder and double checking the back seat of my car for a while. Throughout the book there is an insidious paranoia about all men that the author has created to reflect how Jenna must feel, and this made me distrustful of each of the male characters at one point or another.

One Step Behind is a brilliantly constructed psychological thriller that just goes to show that you never know who can be trusted and who is just hiding behind a public persona.

One Step Behind is out now and you can buy your copy here.

You can read more about Lauren and her books on Goodreads

Book Review

The Stolen Sisters – Louise Jensen

Time for another Louise Jensen review (yes, you guessed it, I love her!), with her latest thriller, The Stolen Sisters. Many thanks to HQ for my copy of the book which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

Three little girls missing. One family torn apart…

Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.

Twenty years ago these three sisters were taken. What came after they disappeared was far worse. It should have brought them together, but how can a family ever recover?

Especially when not everyone is telling the truth . . .
 

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REVIEW:

I am sure I say it every time I review one of Louise’s books that she just gets better and better, and with every new book she releases, I have a new favourite. The Stolen Sisters is no exception to this, and in my opinion is Louise’s best book yet.

Told in turns by sisters Carly and Leah, the story of the Sinclair sisters slowly unfolds with Carly’s chapters recounting the events surrounding their abduction, and Leah picking the story up in the present day, when fresh fears surround them. At just 13 at the time of their abduction,  you can feel the terror in Carly’s chapters, and how responsible she feels for keeping 8 year old twins, Leah and Marie safe. Their experiences are almost unimaginable and yet Louise captures them in such a way that you feel you are right there with them. As we catch up with the now grown up sisters in Leah’s chapters, the long-term damage of their ordeal becomes apparent as they each battle their own demons and struggle with their own secrets.

As harrowing as the details of the abduction are, it is the aftermath and the fact that their experiences have driven the sisters apart rather then pulling them closer together that is truly devastating. They all just seem so broken and alone.

As the story unfolds and the extent of the betrayals suffered by each of the sisters is revealed, my heart just broke for them time and time again.

Always the master of a great thriller, Louise introduces a depth of emotion to this book that makes it so much more than just a psychological thriller. 

The Stolen Sisters is out now and you can order your copy here.

You can find out all about Louise’s other brilliant books on Goodreads.

Book Review

The Perfect Couple – Jackie Kabler

Today I am joining the blog tour for psychological thriller, The Perfect Couple by Jackie Kabler. Many thanks to Jackie for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

The perfect couple … or the perfect lie?

A year and a half ago, Gemma met the love of her life, Danny. Since then, their relationship has been like something out of a dream. But one Friday evening, Gemma returns home to find Danny is nowhere to be seen.

After two days with no word from her husband, Gemma turns to the police. She is horrified by what she discovers – a serial killer is on the loose in Bristol. When she sees the photos of the victims she is even more stunned … they all look just like Danny.

But the police aren’t convinced by Gemma’s story. Why has no one apart from Gemma seen or heard from Danny in weeks? Why is there barely a trace of him in their flat? Is she telling them the truth, or are there more secrets and lies in this marriage than meets the eye?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

The Perfect Couple Cover

REVIEW:

Right from the start of this book, I was suspicious – can any relationship be as perfect as Gemma would have us believe? With no signs of Danny ever having even been in Bristol, I must admit the old grey matter was working overtime coming up with questions and possible answers as to what was really going on.

I enjoyed the writing style of alternating between Gemma telling her story in the first person and the police investigation being unveiled in the third person. For me this switching back and forth really helped me to build an image of Gemma and had me wondering how much her account could be trusted, and at times whether she even knew the answer to that herself.

The Perfect Couple is an intricately woven story that keeps building and building as more and more discoveries about a supposedly perfect relationship are made. It is my favourite type of psychological thriller – I thought I had it all worked out and knew exactly where the story was going, but my goodness, I was wide of the mark! I would love to know if other people found themselves in the same boat.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Jackie Kabler was born in Coventry but spent much of her childhood in Ireland. She worked as a newspaper reporter and then a television news correspondent for twenty years, spending nearly a decade on GMTV followed by stints with ITN and BBC News. During that time, she covered major stories around the world including the Kosovo crisis, the impeachment of President Clinton, the Asian tsunami, famine in Ethiopia, the Soham murders and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Jackie now divides her time between crime writing and her job as a presenter on shopping channel QVC. She has a degree in zoology, runs long distances for fun and lives in Gloucestershire with her husband.

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Book Review

Ring Fenced – Zach Abrams

I’ve got an interesting one for you all today in the form of Ring Fenced by Zach Abrams. Many thanks to Zach, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Sex. Money. Power. Control. Benjamin wants it all.

He is Bennie, a loving husband and father; Benjie, a beloved son. He climbs the ladder as Ben, a corporate banker, and rakes in money as a bestselling author. And when he wants to escape it all, Benjamin styles himself as Jamie — the lover of a beautiful musician.

His life, in a word, is perfect. But after years of keeping his separate personae a secret, cracks begin to appear in the façade.

When an unexpected series of events topples Benjamin’s carefully crafted world, his separate lives collide with dire consequences.

ring fenced cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Creativia

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Ring Fenced is on an Amazon Countdown  Promotion – selling at 99c /99p  from  11-15 Sept 2019

REVIEW:

Just recently I seem to have had a spate of books where I am finding it difficult to put into words how I felt about them. Not because I didn’t enjoy them, more because they are so very different to what I normally read, and have proved to be quite thought-provoking. Ring Fenced is no exception to this.

Each of Benjamin’s personae is delightfully  hateful – smug, arrogant, devoid of emotion towards the people he is deceiving, and I was just willing him to get his comeuppance. He really was a character that I loved to hate and who I had little sympathy for. This is unusual for me as I can usually find at least one redeeming feature in a character, but not Benjamin. It was quite a liberating feeling to be honest.

For a large part of the book, Zach Abrams’ writing has a detached, almost clinical feel to it, but I felt that this was representative of Benjamin’s own dispassionate view of what goes on around him. This is evidenced by the fact that when the writing moves to follow other characters, and as Benjamin’s life (or lives) start to unravel around him, the emotion really starts to show through.

As much as I took pleasure in hating Benjamin, I fell in love with his (Benji’s) family and a part of me longed to belong in the warmth that Hanna’s home created. They made such a wonderful contrast to Benjamin’s cold nature.

Ring Fenced is an interesting read and I particularly loved the ending. I’m not going to give anything away here, but I would love to sit down with Zach Abrams so I could quiz him about all the questions that the epilogue left me with!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ring Fenced - zachHaving the background of a successful career in commerce and finance, Zach Abrams has spent many years writing reports, letters and presentations and it’s only fairly recently he started writing novels. “It’s a more honourable type of fiction,” he declares.

Writer of the Alex Warren Murder Mystery series, set in Scotland, Zach has also written the psychological thriller ‘Ring Fenced’ and the financial thriller ‘Source’, as well as collaborating with Elly Grant on a book of short stories.

Zach is currently producing a non-fiction series to help small businesses -using the collective title ‘Mind Your Own Business’. The first, ‘So, You Think You Want to be a Landlord’ is already available.

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Blog

She’s Not Gone – Sarah Northwood

In the course of my writing adventure and my meanderings through Facebook (okay, the hours I spend gossiping about books and writing in the Fiction Cafe groups), I was lucky enough to get chatting with the lovely Sarah Northwood. Sarah is a talented writer and poet, and I am absolutely thrilled that she is allowing me to share some excerpts from her psychological thriller, She’s Not Gone. Let’s start with the blurb though, so you know what to expect.

ebook cover from Brian

BLURB:

A gripping psychological thriller with a twist of evil and a slice of the supernatural. 

When Daryl charms his way into Katie’s life, sweeping her off her feet, she thinks she’s found the love of her life. Until he cuts her off from her friends and starts to control everything in her life, right down to the food she puts on her plate.

There is a monster inside of Daryl that plays on his insecurities, and the monster is ready to come out and play. 

Will Katie make the most important decision of her life before it’s too late? 

Who will protect her when she discovers Daryl’s deadly secret?

Sounds great doesn’t it. If you are tempted by the blurb, you can buy Sarah’s book here. Now for the fun part where we get a sneaky peek of what is hiding between the pages.

She's not gone promo 1

Excerpt from Chapter one

The pavement is awkwardly narrow for us to walk side-by-side but we do it because that’s what he wants and I don’t want to risk upsetting him more. The two of us butt up closely together to avoid stepping into the road, so tightly to each other that barely a sliver of light separates our limbs. I’m on the uncomfortable side of the road—closest to the roaring traffic hurtling past us—as we stroll past the pub on the other side. I barely breathe, moving like a soldier with a deadly fear of explosive mines on either side of me. I half push up against him, terrified down to my core that I will stumble out into the road, and half recoil away from him. The pub is freshly painted and gleaming, it looks the same as it always does apart from the fresh coat of paint. The whitewashed bricks, the sign and an open door inviting would-be patrons to step inside its welcoming aromas. Daryl raises his arm to wave at someone who is smoking a cigarette and they wave back smiling. They don’t think anything is wrong, we’re just a happy couple walking together but they can’t see my face from there.

Even if they could, I’m invisible. Nothing more than a discarded wrapper blowing on past. Like me, I suppose the pub needs a lot of maintenance to keep up appearances. It too is perilously close to the danger that hurtles past every day.

SOME THOUGHTS FROM KATIE:

Should I blow out onto the road like the rubbish I am? Would it sweep me away and into the shadows?

I wonder if there were bars on the windows and doors, would I feel more trapped? Would I be able to tell the difference?

He’s going to kill me.

Am I the cause? Am I unlovable?

Oh, I knocked into the door handle. I tripped on my bag. Clumsy me!

Whoever this is, is dead.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Sarah Northwood is a multi-talented author, who not only writes poetry but is a dab hand at writing music too. Her love and passion for poetry is never more prominent than in her first children’s poem book, “Unicorns are real and other cool poems.” More recently Sarah has expanded her interests, and has three further published fiction works for adults. Despite covering the genres; horror, thriller and contemporary fiction, all of her works embrace deep and believable characters that will have you wanting to read more and sometimes cowering for the shadows in fear of what’s to come.

“Growing up in a little town, I was surrounded by animals and a loving family. However I never quite knew what I wanted to be when I was older. I’ve spent most of my working career working in science until a new life beckoned. Now I believe in never growing up! I am a Wife and Mum to two wonderful girls, who rock my world, they inspire me every day. I enjoy writing stories for children and adults. In particular I’m a fan of romance, rhyme, poetry and composing songs. In addition I also work part time at my local school, which I love! I have a trusty companion, Charlie, who is my King Charles spaniel. Wherever my adventures take me, he is by my side.”

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