2017 · commercial fiction · crime · fiction · Michael Joseph · psychological thrillers

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

Good me bad me

When Annie hands her mother over to the police she hopes for a new start in life – but can we ever escape our past?


Annie’s mother is a serial killer. The only way Annie can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

With a new foster family and a new name – Milly – she hopes for a fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be. But as her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of Milly’s past won’t let her sleep . . .

Because Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water…

15-year-old Milly is not your average teenage girl with a normal upbringing. Quite far front it. Having spent her childhood living with her abusive mother – both abusive to her and other people’s children, Milly – formerly known as Annie, is sent into foster care and awaits her mother’s trial.

This is an intensely gripping book. The starting point: Milly’s mother abducting, abusing and eventually killing innocent children from a refuge centre where she works, allows us to understand or at least get a glimpse into the psychological state of Milly and how she has internalised the abuse, which is often seen through her trauma coming back to haunt her. The plot centres around Milly, though Milly’s narrative voice is constantly addressing her imprisoned mother. The push and pull of what’s right and wrong is at the forefront as Milly fights with her thoughts and tries to do the right thing, despite being the daughter of a psychopathic killer.

When Milly is taken in by her foster parents: Mike and Saskia (until the lead up to her mother’s trial) we see Milly struggle with bullying at school, experience her self-harm herself as a way of releasing intense emotional pain, and of course, follow her throughout this mental journey to the lead up, during and after her mother’s trial. Milly longs for acceptance and a normal life and it’s easy to sympathise with her. But Milly isn’t a complete angel herself – she’s made mistakes, which become exposed as the plot unravels. But for a unreliable narrator, it is clear that she’s a deeply disturbed by her mother’s abusive behaviour and as a reader, it’s disturbing to see a teenager normalise some of these destructive behaviour traits.

The book reminded me that the roles of parents in being good role models is absolutely vital in order for children to grow up to be mentally stable members of society. I’m sure there are many children in similar situations to Milly who are suffering due to a destructive upbringing. I salute Ali Land for writing about mental health and psychological trauma in young people in such an elegant and honest manner.

Towards the closing of the novel, Milly’s actions do surprise me and also makes me fear her swell as do some of the characters but it does go to show that destruction from a very young age, where that is abuse: sexually, mentally and/ or seat, can be dangerously normalised. Milly knows what she is doing is wrong but couldn’t help herself  because that’s all she’s seen from her mother.  The opening and closing lines of the book were poignant and all that is in-between will keep you hooked as it did me. Would recommend, but not for the faint-hearted.

Good Me Bad Me was published by Michael Joseph in August 2017.




commercial fiction · fiction · HQ Stories · new reads · romantic comedy

New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan

sarah morgan new york actually

Meet Molly

New York’s most famous agony aunt, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. The only love of her life is her Dalmatian, Valentine.

Meet Daniel

A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no-one can get hurt. But then he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning….

If you’re looking for a romantic comedy that ticks all the right boxes and proves to be a light and easy read, then there’s really no need to look any further – this is the book you need to get your hands on. 

The plot focus on Molly, a british behavioural psychologist that runs a blog under the pseudonym, Aggie, answering all of New York’s relationship issues. She has the love of life, Valentine, her cute Dalmatian. Life is just as she wants it to be until she meets Daniel,  renowned divorce-lawyer whose persistence and charm coax Molly out of her shell. When Molly takes Valentine for a walk in Central Park, Daniel can’t help but notice Molly and a strong desire to meet this woman becomes apparent. Both Valentine and borrowed dog, Bruttas help the two come together time and time again in the park, though this is not a whirlwind romance from the start.  That’s the best thing about this novel, Sarah really plays out the sexual tension as well as Daniel chasing Molly for her attention: he first buys her coffee, then coaxes her to a dinner and when things do really wrong the Valentine, he’s hands-on and ready to help Molly.

It is clear that Molly is equally attracted to Daniel though she refrains from leading with her emotions. A mysterious and painful past makes Molly conscience of getting herself and Daniel hurt. Both characters have some psychological issues linked to their childhood that become unravelled when they get to know one another. Both characters are deceitful without intentionally wanting to hurt the other person. Despite this, love pulls them together and they’re both exactly what they need from each other.

This novel is the right amount of hooks and drama to pull you all the way through to the end. I couldn’t put it down. The subplots tie in nicely to the main plot and you can’t help but fall in love with Daniel – he’s the epitome of your ideal man. This was my first read of Sarah Morgan’s novels but it won’t be my last, that’s for sure!

New York, Actually was published by HQ Stories in 2017.

commercial fiction · fiction · HarperCollins Publishers · Women's Fiction

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter


COW [n.]

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can – though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror.

When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all.

Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd.

The Cows is a powerful novel about three women – judging each other, but also themselves. In all the noise of modern life, they need to find their own voice.

So what did I think about this most-raved-about book? Loved it. Devoured in two sittings. The story centres around three women: Tara, Cam and Stella – women who don’t know each other but become connected through shared experience of what it’s actually like being in woman in the modern world. Cam is a successful, award-winning blogger, famed for her feminism and for her outspoken honesty. She’s passionate about being childless and wants to tell all the other women out there that they too have choices.

Tara is a TV documentary maker and a single mother to her six- year old daughter, Annie. Stella is a PA to an award-winning photographer and struggles to deal with the loss of her twin sister, Alice and who she is without her twin sister. Three women, different in their own ways with three different stories, which are woven together beautifully.

The novel is set in a social media world, which highly resonates with the world we live in today, where a person can go from unknown to trending in a mere 60 seconds. Dawn explores the themes of motherhood to masturbation and everything else in between that whichever female picks this book up can relate to it in one way or another.


This was definitely a page turner of a read. Dawn has an art for story-telling as she seamlessly weaves three different lives together beautifully, with humour and honesty about what is actually means to be a woman in 2017. Ladies, go get you copy, and don’t follow the heard. Be you! That’s the message I got and I think it’s relevant and needed now more than ever.

The Cows was published by HarperCollins in April 2017.


commercial fiction · fiction · Penguin Random House UK · psychological thrillers

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena



‘Meticulously crafted and razor-sharp. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR lingers long after you turn the final page’ HARLAN COBEN

Fast-paced and addictive, THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR announces a major new talent in thriller writing.

You never know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn’t want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn’t stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You’ll have the baby monitor and you’ll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She’s gone.

You’ve never had to call the police before. But now they’re in your home, and who knows what they’ll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

A fast-paced, page turning psychological thriller with a unique story centred around the kidnapping of a baby. There are many psychological thrillers out there that focus on a baby or a child being in some kind of danger, and while this is the case in this novel, you would never guess who could possibly take a baby.

Six month old Cora has been taken from her crib while she slept in her nursery of her parent’s upstate New York home. She has been taken in the middle of the night while her parents were attending a dinner party next door.

Cora’s parents, Anne and Marco, had not intended to leave their baby alone when they agreed to attend their next door neighbours’ birthday dinner. A sitter had been booked but then she cancelled. The childless couple next door had clearly stated that this was an adult only event. Marco, keen to enjoy an evening out, persuades Anne that they should attend the dinner party but take the baby monitor with them and take turns to check up on sleeping Cora every thirty minutes.

When they eventually returned late at night, drunk on wine and irritated by each other’s behaviour at the party, Marco and Anne find their front door ajar and their daughter gone.

The novel allows the readers to discern each of the main characters thought processes, which is really interesting. We have the mother, heaping guilt on herself for her port partum depression, for not appreciating the perfect baby, for allowing her husband to persuade her to go out without their child when she knew it was the wrong thing to do. We have the father, schooled and numbed, fearful of the impact this will have on his already fragile wife and their relationship, fully aware that the police investigation will bring to light financial troubles that he has kept secret from Anne. We also have the lead detective, meticulously carrying out his investigation, aware that in cases like these, the parents are most often to blame.

Anne has wealthy parents and hope that by offering money to the kidnappers, she’ll be able to get her baby back. But there is so much more than just a kidnapping that unfolds within this novel. The Couple Next Door also explores the delicate relationship between husband and in laws, deception, lies, heart ache and lastly appreciation.

This is definitely a good thriller. Why? Well, because I was hooked all the way through the novel. The plot had little to no holes, and it moved at a good pace. The events and layers of other issues were woven seamlessly and I couldn’t get through this novel quick enough. I could never also anticipate the twists that had me absolutely gripped.

The Couple Next Door was publishing by Transworld, Penguin Random House in April 2017.


commercial fiction · fiction · HarperCollins Publishers · new reads

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

I really enjoyed reading this novel and have been waiting for it to be available to review on NetGalley for months!

Quite a lot of commercial fiction is now exploring the issues of mental illnesses but yet I’m surprised it’s taken until now to finally explore loneliness and thank you to Gail for achieving this so beautifully and seamlessly through Eleanor Oliphant.

To me, the most striking thing about this book is the character Eleanor Oliphant – she is an extremely well developed character that I can imagine seeing her on the big screens. As the reader, you do live inside Eleanor’s head, which was particularly interesting to me, though she’s not a cool character or that likeable in the beginning. Despite her articulate judgements of other people and her throughs of her own nature, you can’t help but like her. Why? Well, because she’s different and she’s figuring out who she is throughout the novel. And besides, being different is good, we need to celebrate it more. You end up caring about her and as the plot unfolds, it’s easy to realise that her grating qualities are only a product of doing mechanism to a much wider mental issue. Eleanor is undeniably an unreliable narrator, but it didn’t seem to bother me because through reading the novel, I got to understand her, and she is the most important character.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine and the most she says it, the more she ends up believing it. Eventually, she believes it so much that she can’t seem to recognise let alone deal with how her past and her relationship with her mother is affecting her adult life.

This is a beautifully written book that takes you on an emotional roller coaster. Full of kean observations of the human condition, it has a well developed plot that moves at a good pace and even takes you on a few twists and turns. Towards the end of the book, you can’t help but fall in love for Eleanor for the changes she makes. The novel really is a journey to discovery and I was truly touched by Eleanor.

Thank you to HarperCollins for allowing me to review this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine was published in May 2017.




commercial fiction · fiction · Women's Fiction

The Idea Of You by Amanda Prowse


With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter thinks she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But becoming parents proves much harder to achieve than Lucy and Jonah imagined, and when Jonah’s teenage daughter Camille comes to stay with them, she becomes a constant reminder of what Lucy doesn’t have. Jonah’s love and support are unquestioning, but Lucy’s struggles with work and her own failing dreams begin to take their toll. With Camille’s presence straining the bonds of Lucy’s marriage even further, Lucy suddenly feels herself close to losing everything…

This heart-wrenchingly poignant family drama from bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: in today’s hectic world, what does it mean to be a mother?

I read this book without having actually read much about it, though knowing it was women’s fiction, that was just about all I knew. This book focuses on a couple that are trying to get pregnant and follows their journey through a few heart-breaking misscariages. I’ve not read much or thought so much about what it must feel like to have a misscarriage but Amanda captures the pain and heart-broke so beautifully through her protagonist Lucy. I really feel for Lucy because she feels a strong desire to get pregnant and every time it happens for her, she ends up loosing the baby and I can only imagine how difficult and strenuous that can be for a couple.

An extra layer of difficult is added for Lucy when her step daughter, Camille from France comes to stay for a few weeks in the holiday. Lucy struggles to form a relationship with the sixteen-year old and slowly starts to feel like an outsider in her own home. She does everything she possibly can to make Camille feel welcome and at home, but the effort and respect is not reciprocated as Lucy had hoped. When Camille meets Dex from her part-time job, we learn that she falls pregnant – and this news turns both Lucy’s and Jonah’s world upside down. Nevertheless, Lucy finds the strength to support Camille through the pregnancy, even though she has to watch another woman go through exactly what she has yearned for. This had to be the most exciting part of the novel for me because it was unexpected and gaged my interest (I only wish it came a bit sooner, as the plot started to feel stagnant half way through). I think it’s very mature and kind-hearted of Lucy to support Camille and give her all the tiny clothes (she had kept onto of her wardrobe for her own baby) to Camille.

We learn that Lucy has secrets of her own, and this ties in very nicely with the structure of the book – after each chapter, Lucy writes a small section about her thoughts and feelings about getting pregnant. But later on in the novel, we understand the reason for this as it does have a wider purpose and I thought it ties in beautifully with the wider plot – won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it.

I liked Lucy and Jonah’s characters as I think Amanda portrays marriage realistically though them – it’s not a bed of roses and it can get quite complicated and it was nice to be given the truth rather than a fairytale. I also liked the portrayal of a woman going through misscariages and Lucy’s journey in accepting  not having a baby and finding happiness in all that she currently has. It was nice to see that  Lucy  could  nurture and mother Camille once their relationship strengthened that she realised that she didn’t need to give birth to feel like a mother after all.

The Idea Of You was published in March 2017 by Amazon.



Bookouture · fiction

Revenge by Nigel May


If you keep dangerous secrets you’ll pay the ultimate price…

In the South of France, playground of the rich and famous, world renowned chef Dexter Franklin is organising a night to remember. As he opens the doors to his exclusive restaurant for the first time, he’s handpicked a list of guests, as hot and dazzling as the St Tropez sun itself:

Mew Stanton: Fashionable, beautiful and a notorious TV chef, Dexter’s ex-girlfriend has all the ingredients for success. As her books fly off the shelves, a secret from her past is about to surface with explosive consequences. 

Holly Lydon: Ex girlband star who has fallen on hard times. Forced to make ends meet she’s having to sleep her way to the top. Now she’s making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Rosita Velázquez: Brazilian actress extraordinaire and girlfriend of Dexter’s brother, Leland. When she’s in town everybody needs to know about it, but this is one show-stopping entrance she’ll live to regret.

Three women have a past with Dexter and a grudge to bear against him. As fireworks ignite in the jet set capital of Europe, there’s murder on the menu. Who will be served their just desserts?

The sun is setting in the South of France. Pour yourself a glass of champagne and sit back for a read of revenge, regrets and shocking revelations that will have you hooked to the very last page.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Nigel May as it was one of the books I was helping to represent at the literary agency I was working for. This is by far one of those drama-filled, very character-drive and action-packed book that you can’t seem to put down and you even miss your tube stop (happened to me) because of it!

Revenge has a deep element of mystery woven throughout. It begins by Dexter Franklin sending invites to a whole host of versatile characters to her newest restaurant opening in the hear of St.Tropez. Determined to make the eve of the restaurant opening a success, he invites the right mix of people. The five characters which the entire book focuses on all have a hidden past which gets pulled to the forefront as we’re told why they’re each invited by Dexter.

Though each character is distinct in their own ways, they each have had encounters with each other and a past that begins to piece the present plot into making much more sense. I thought focusing on five charters might get a bit confusing and messy but trust me, it was put together so eloquently and because the characters were unique, it worked very well. The chapters were Nigel goes back into the past to explore the characters past adds to the present and also allows us to get a better understanding of each of the five characters – as nobody is perfect, no matter how much they may appear to be on the surface, everybody has skeletons hidden in the closet.

Throughout Revenge, there is a real sense of tension building up and towards the end of the book, Nigel indeed, finishes with a big bang. Nigel has a talent for taking universal themes: love, betrayal, dreams, desires and weaving these ideas seamlessly through well-developed characters and plot.

I can’t wait to see what else comes from Nigel May. I’d recommend Revenge for anyone who is prepared to jet off to St. Tropez for some action-packed tension and drama.

Revenge was published by Bookouture in 2017.