Dear Amy –  Helen Callaghan

Dear Amy – Helen Callaghan

We’ve been hearing a lot about this book at Compelling Reads so were very excited when we opened our post to find a beautiful little package of this book accompanied by the letters from missing Bethan.

Bethan went missing nearly 2 decades ago, some thought she’d simply run away from home following an attack on her grandmother, whilst others fear she may have been killed.

In present day student Katie has also gone missing, another presumed teenage runaway & when letters arrive at the desk for the agony aunt colum of Dear Amy, Margot (teacher and agony aunt) is spooked.

Told from the perspective of Katie as she is abducted and alluding to her experiences whilst there and also from Margot’s as she deal with the letters and becomes part of the enquiry into what happened to Bethan all those year ago.

We learn as the story progresses of Margot’s own experiences from a bad childhood, drug addiction and homelessness and struggles with breakdowns.  Now she is dealing with a divorce and she’s off her medication but she is sure that their is something in the letters from Bethan and perhaps Bethan may even be someone that she knew in her younger life.

I loved the little insights into how Margot’s experience has shaped her – the glimpses in to her time with the nuns and friendship with Angelique. You can understand that she feels she’s worked hard to be in the teaching position she is now in and doesn’t want her past to be revealed and threaten her way of life.  However it is clear that she is still affected by mental health issues.

The story is very cleverly written and has a bit of a twist that you may not see coming!  This book certainly had me gripped and I was chilled by the actions of the abuctor.  Although he isn’t featured much you get a sense for the psychological damage he caused any surviving victims.

My favourite psychological novel so far this year!

Dear Amy Book Cover Dear Amy
Helen Callaghan
Michael Joseph
16th June 2016

In her guise as 'Dear Amy', agony aunt for a local newspaper, Margot Lewis has dealt with all sorts of letters - but never one like this...

Dear Amy,

I've been kidnapped by a strange man.
I don't know where I am.

Please help me,
Bethan Avery

This must be a cruel hoax. Because Bethan Avery has been missing for nearly two decades.

But as the present-day search intensifies for another missing schoolgirl, Margot is unnerved enough to take the letter to the police, hoping they will dismiss it as a sick joke.

Instead, they let Margot in on a little secret. One that confirms her darkest fears and tangles her up in the search for the sender, which could save one young girl's life and cost Margot her own...

The Long Shadow – Mark Mills

The Long Shadow – Mark Mills

This book has been shifted around my to read pile for quite a while now, and during a clear out I came across it again and it looked the ideal book to break up a series of romantic novels.

Ben Makepeace is a divorced father of one, struggling to find someone to back his latest scripts.  When he gets a call from his agent to arrange a meet with a multi-millionaire interested in his latest project he isn’t expecting to run in to an old school friend.

As a child Ben boarded at a boys school and his parents somehow become guardians to fellow pupil Jacob, Jacob is a strange boy who is manipulative and later found to be stealing from the other boys – hoarding his collection under the floorboards in another part of the school.  Having lost contact after school Ben is shocked when millionaire Victor turns out to be none other than Jacob.

Although the back cover suggests this is some kind of psychological suspense stemming from some event at school if I’m honest the book didn’t really live up to the expectations I’d set for it.  Most of the book features flash backs to the boys time at school and although there are some indicators that Jacob is a little odd it didn’t really fully explain why he’d be out for revenge in such a big way (and the conclusion with the reason kind of felt as if it had come out of nowhere).

It’s only really the last 100 or so pages when the action really happens and although the plot was interesting and held me to the end, I felt myself rushing through without feeling invested in the characters.

The Long Shadow Book Cover The Long Shadow
Mark Mills
Headline Review
27th March 2014

Blood brothers or sworn enemies? You never forget what the fight was about... THE LONG SHADOW is a stunning depiction of resentment and revenge.

Ben Makepeace has barely thought of Jacob since school. What he remembers is a competitive, manipulative boy, impinging on his life.

Now Ben is the wrong side of forty with a young son to support and in need of a backer. A call to meet hedge-fund billionaire Victor Sheldon is promising, but there's a surprise in store - Victor is Jacob, now firmly entrenched in a gilded world of riches and glamour. History can cast a long shadow and while Ben believes his childhood is well over, he soon discovers the roots of the past dig deep.

BLOG TOUR: Saving Sophie – Sam Carrington

BLOG TOUR: Saving Sophie – Sam Carrington

Saving Sophie is without a doubt a psychological thriller, and one which is not to be missed. The book opens with a short shocking prologue which sets the tone for the rest of the novel and boy does is deliver.

Seventeen-year-old Sophie returns home from a night out, incoherently drunk and escorted by police officers, much to the despair and anger of her parents. We soon learn that one of Sophie’s friends never made it home from the night out and then the body of a young girl is discovered. Whilst Sophie initially remembers nothing, she begins to receive a series of emails which start to trigger more sinister memories of something far more horrific. Someone out there is watching both her and her friends, no-one is willing to talk about that night. Sophie’s mum Karen soon becomes convinced that Sophie and her friends know far more about the young girl than they are admitting and she decides to investigate. But what she discovers horrifies her and makes for some truly compelling reading.

The story is told from the perspectives of Sophie, Karen and DI Lindsay Wade, something which I feel adds real depth to the plot and really enabled me as a reader to get into the minds of the characters and in to the plot. The characters are complex, fascinating and realistic. Each had their purpose and role, their depths and secrets making this a truly compelling page turner and a fantastically clever debut psychological thriller. I was kept on the edge of my seat and desperately turning the page to learn more and discover what exactly did happen that night.

Saving Sophie is a complex, superbly written psychological debut not to be missed, the plot grips from the outset and only grows stronger with its many twists and turns which make this an edge of your seat read, it certainly ends with the mother of all shocks. While a crime thriller with the main theme of the plot the hunt for the killer of the young girl, the underlying themes of family relationships and their secrets makes this an incredible complex and fascinating read.



Saving Sophie Book Cover Saving Sophie
Sam Carrington

A teenage girl is missing. Is your daughter involved, or is she next?

Your daughter is in danger. But can you trust her?

When Karen Finch’s seventeen-year-old daughter Sophie arrives home after a night out, drunk and accompanied by police officers, no one is smiling the morning after. But Sophie remembers nothing about how she got into such a state.

Twelve hours later, Sophie’s friend Amy has still not returned home. Then the body of a young woman is found.

Karen is sure that Sophie knows more than she is letting on. But Karen has her own demons to fight. She struggles to go beyond her own door without a panic attack.

As she becomes convinced that Sophie is not only involved but also in danger, Karen must confront her own anxieties to stop whoever killed one young girl moving on to another – Sophie.

A taut psychological thriller, perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and I Let You Go.

The Good Kind Of Bad – Rita Brassington

The Good Kind Of Bad – Rita Brassington

With thanks to the author for allowing us a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.  Billed as a psychological thriller I thought this would be a good book to break up my romantic novels.

The Good Kind of Bad A Clarke leaves her boring finance at the alter and moves across the world where she accepts the marriage proposal of the first guy she meets (in a bar).  Becoming Mrs Petrozzi however it not all she hoped, clearly a girl who is used to having money and spending it on designer gear she’s now leaving on the wrong side of the tracks in an apartment with a husband who may or may not have gangster dealings.

Her only friend Nina at work also has gangster issues of her own as her fiancé is a dirty cop, using dirty money to buy her the next must have pair of shoes, or whisk her off on another holiday.  It seems Mrs Pertrozzi attracts drama – but soon it’s the wrong kind.

When husband Joe reveals himself as an alcoholic wife beater she flees to the safety of handsome hero cop Evan, but things take a dramatic turn and the two end up with a huge secret to keep.  Only some secrets are bound to come up.

This is a book which has lots and lots of twists to the story, it’s mentioned at one point that Mrs Petrozzi has some previous mental health issues so I was expecting the whole story to be in her imagination to be honest, as it did seem a bit too much was thrown into the plot.  However it was a good read that kept me awake on my train journey to work!


The Good Kind Of Bad Book Cover The Good Kind Of Bad
Rita Brassington

Secrets don't stay secret for long...
She spent her whole life being the perfect daughter, the perfect girlfriend, and was all ready to become the perfect wife.
But after ditching her fiancé at the altar and escaping to Chicago, she marries smouldering stranger Joe Petrozzi three weeks after meeting him in a bar. At least this time, there’s no chance of cold feet.
Married life starts out great: there’s the new job, a gorgeous, enigmatic husband and money's not an issue.
So what if she’s kept a few secrets from Joe – like where all her money came from. Joe’s been keeping secrets from her, too.
But his might just get her killed.

Twisted River – Siobhán MacDonald –  Guest Post

Twisted River – Siobhán MacDonald – Guest Post

With thanks to the publishers for allowing us a copy of this book in exchange for review – caught by the blurb for this book we accepted and pushed this one to the top of the reading pile.

Twisted river features two families who swap houses in order to go on holiday.  There are the Irish O’Briens and American’s the Harveys.  Both families are wanting the holiday for different reasons and both seem to be hiding some secrets – this is obvious from the outset of the book where we are straight in at the action as Oscar Harvey deals with a body in his boot, but just whose body is it?

We’re then scooted back in time and the story unravels – I enjoyed that it was told from the perspective from different members of the family and this also helps with the twists in the story as you read the story twists and turns and just when you think you know what is happening you find the author has another surprise up her sleeve.

The characters are strong throughout the story and you can’t help but feel for the kids (particularly young Fergus who is bullied due to his autism).  The book probably has the most appropriate title ever for the way it weaves! One to recommend!

Twisted River Book Cover Twisted River
Siobhán MacDonald
18th April 2016

She would never have fit as neatly into the trunk of his own car.’

An unmissable psychological thriller about two families in crisis and a house swap gone terribly wrong

Limerick, Ireland: Oscar Harvey finds the body of a woman in a car boot, beaten and bloody. But let’s start at the beginning…

Kate and Mannix O’Brien live in a lovely Limerick house they can barely afford. Their autistic son is bullied at school and their daughter Izzy wishes she could protect him. When Kate spots a gorgeous New York flat on a home-exchange website, she decides her family needs a holiday.

Hazel and Oscar Harvey, and their two children, live on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Though they seem successful, Hazel has mysterious bruises and Oscar is hiding something.

Hazel is keen to revisit her native Limerick, and the house swap offers a perfect chance to soothe both troubled marriages.

But this will be anything but a perfect break. And the body is just the beginning.

BLOG TOUR: The Teacher – Katerina Diamond

BLOG TOUR: The Teacher – Katerina Diamond

WOW! The Teacher is a gripping thriller which seriously makes you consider again whether you can trust the people around you. The Teacher starts with the hanging of the head teacher of a local boys school. We quickly discover that he has a pretty big secret and this is the start of something big. One by one big names within the community are murdered in the most gruesome and bloody ways.

Detective Adrian Miles has gained a new partner in the shape of DS Imogen Grey, both have messed up massively in previous cases and as punishment have been teamed together. And whilst both are under strict instructions to keep away from one of Adrian’s old suspects, both find themselves pulled in to his world and a case like nothing they have ever seen before. Bodies begin to turn up everywhere and they begin to question if they chasing a serial killer, one who is torturing his victims. It soon becomes apparent that everyone is hiding a secret, and it is up to Adrian and Imogen to work if and how they are all connected, are the victims all known to each other?

From early on we learn who is behind the murders, which simply adds to the addictiveness of this compelling read. I was desperate to keep on reading and uncover the reasons behind why these murders were happening and why the brutality and torture behind them. I was certainly not disappointed, the plot was so much deeper and detailed than even I was prepared for and certainly makes for a gruesome and chilling read.

I did find it tricky keeping track of all of the different characters and their parts in the story as a whole, as each has a chapter and tells their own side of the story. But by the end it really makes sense and actually it was a really clever way of telling this story, making it a deeply chilling read which delves in the past of its characters, bringing them alive.

There were a few shocking moments which did make me think wow! No one was who they first appeared to be and the plot and murders were extremely detailed. But do not let this put you off. This was a truly incredible and compelling read, which had me hooked from start to finish. I loved uncovering the secrets and what made the characters tick, I loved that no one was who they first appeared to be. This book is like a jigsaw puzzle, as all the bits come together and you get to see the full picture, you can fully appreciate how clever and beautiful this book is. An impressive debut and I certainly look forward to more from Katerina Diamond.

Blog tour banner (1)

The Teacher Book Cover The Teacher
Katerina Diamond

You think you know who to trust?
You think you know the difference between good and evil?

You’re wrong …


The body of the head teacher of an exclusive Devon school is found hanging from the rafters in the assembly hall.

Hours earlier he’d received a package, and only he could understand the silent message it conveyed. It meant the end.

As Exeter suffers a rising count of gruesome deaths, troubled DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles must solve the case and make their city safe again.

But as they’re drawn into a network of corruption, lies and exploitation, every step brings them closer to grim secrets hidden at the heart of their community.

And once they learn what’s motivating this killer, will they truly want to stop him?


This is a psychological crime thriller in a class of its own.

Warning: Most definitely *not* for the faint-hearted!


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