Skip to content

Watching You By Lisa Jewell

Watching You‘Watching You’ is the latest book by ‘Sunday Times’ bestselling author, Lisa Jewell.

You’re back home after four years working abroad, new husband in tow. You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now you’re crashing in your big brother’s spare room. That’s when you meet the man next door. He’s the head teacher at the local school. Twice your age. Extraordinarily attractive. You find yourself watching him. All the time. But you never dreamed that your innocent crush might become a deadly obsession. Or that someone is watching you.

With a title called ‘Watching You’, I knew the latest book from Lisa Jewell would be a dark read, but nothing quite prepared me for the sinister twist to the tale that chilled me on the final page.

The story is primarily through the eyes of Joey, Jenna and Freddie, all people who keep a close eye on their community. Joey has recently moved back home from Ibiza with a new husband in tow. She’s trying to settle down to the quieter pace of life, but finds herself distracted from the handsome headteacher who has just moved into the area and has turned the heads off quite a few people. Jenna lives alone with her single mother who’s convinced someone is watching her. Jenna has to be adult of the family and deal with her mother’s paranoia, as well as look out for her best friend who has developed a crush on the new headteacher whilst Freddie, the son of the new principal, enjoys nothing more than observing and recording world around them. He knows a different side to his father and is tired of seeing people in awe of this supposedly charismatic man.

Since ‘The Third Wife’, I have found that Lisa’s books get considerably darker and I thought ‘Then She Was Gone’ was dark but then I read this and thought, wow this is twisted.

The story starts at the present moment, when a body is found and sets the scene perfectly as it backtracks through the narrative of the three main characters all with different perceptives of the situation and the people involved.

The different perspectives are a clever addition to the tale and give an interesting slant to story, keeping the reader on their toes. For me, I found the characters to be suspicious and regularly found them to be quite untrustworthy at times and this really keeps the reader absorbed as secrets and situations are revealed.

I was so fortunate that I had a day off work so I could absorb myself in this book as it really did need my undivided attention. A taunt thriller filled with paranoia, suspense and plenty of untrustworthy characters, ‘Watching You’ is a claustrophobic and dark story that will have you looking at your neighbours in a new light. Like a fine wine ageing, Lisa just gets better and better with each book.

You can buy Watching You from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

You Were Made For This By Michelle Sacks

You Were Made For This ‘You Were Made For This’ is Michelle Sacks’ debut novel.

Doting wife, devoted husband, cherished child. Merry, Sam and Conor are the perfect family in the perfect place. Merry adores baking, gardening, and caring for her infant son, while Sam pursues a new career in film. In their idyllic house in the Swedish woods, they can hardly believe how lucky they are. What perfect new lives they’ve built for themselves, away from New York and the events that overshadowed their happiness there. And then Merry’s closest friend Frank comes to stay. All their lives, the two women have been more like sisters than best friends. And that’s why Frank sees things that others might miss. Treacherous things that unfold behind closed doors. But soon it’s clear that everyone inside the house has something to hide. And as the truth begins to show through the cracks, Merry, Frank, and Sam grow all the more desperate to keep their picture-perfect lives intact.

When Merry and her husband Sam up stick from New York to Sweden, to the house that his deceased aunt left him. He thinks, it’s the perfect start for them with their new baby Connor, whilst Sam chases the dream of becoming a film director, Merry is left at home with the baby. Whilst Sam is away, Merry struggles with being a mother and pretending that she’s the perfect stepford wife, so when her best friend Frank plans to visit, she jumps at the chance for company.

Frank and Merry have a strange relationship. Their best friends but constantly are trying to outdo one another. When Frank visits, she’s surprised at how adept Merry has adjusted to her new life in the middle of no-where, but also finds herself jealous of Merry’s life and wants it for herself. Whilst Merry is trying to hide her struggles of parenthood as well as hide her mistrust of Frank as she settles into her role as Aunt Frank.

The story is written through the eyes of Merry, Sam and Frank and gives an insight into all of the characters and how all of them are hiding something and they’re not quite as perfect as we are all lead each other to believe. They are all unsettling in their own ways, Sam’s viewpoint of women and the relationship between Frank and Merry is toxic. Having been friends for 30 years, they know each other’s ticks and pretend to be best friends, but really they prefer to tear each other down, particularly Merry, who’s not as sweet and wholesome as she pretends.

The story is set in the wilderness of Sweden and this adds a lonely atmospheric touch to the story, as Merry spends most of her time alone until Frank turns up.

‘You Were Made For This’ is an exploration of motherhood and friendships, a story of lies and obsession, this story is deeply unsettling throughout. With believable characters and narrative, this psychological thriller about damaged characters and lives makes for brutal reading

You can buy You Were Made for This from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Sticks And Stones By Jo Jakeman

Sticks And Stones‘Sticks And Stones’ is Jo Jakeman’s debut novel.

Imogen’s husband is a bad man. His ex-wife and his new mistress might have different perspectives but Imogen thinks she knows the truth. And now he’s given her an ultimatum: get out of the family home in the next fortnight or I’ll fight you for custody of our son. In a moment of madness, Imogen does something unthinkable: she locks her husband in the cellar. Now she’s in control. But how far will she go to protect her son and punish her husband? And what will happen when his ex and his girlfriend get tangled up in her plans?

I started reading this book late one evening and from page one, I was completely absorbed in this tense thriller about revenge.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Imogen, the second wife of Phillip Rochester, to the outside world, he’s a highly regard policeman but behind closed doors, he’s a cruel and callous man who treats all the women for fall for his charms like crap. The story starts at the Phillip’s funeral and then flashes back to past leading up his death.

Phillip has left Imogen for a younger model called Naomi, although she’s upset that her little boy will grow up in a broken home, Imogen is glad to be away from Phillip’s wicked ways and is almost sympathetic Naomi, who will take her place. But as both Imogen and Phillip come to loggerheads over the terms and conditions of the divorce, Imogen sees red when Philip threatens to take their son Alistair away from Imogen and claim that she is an unfit mother. Enraged at this accusation, Imogen’s maternal instinct kicks in and she manages to imprison Phillip in the cellar when he fell down the stairs. But, when things can’t get any worse Naomi and Phillip’s first wife called Ruby turn up and end up being involved in Imogen’s crazy plans.

This has got to be one of my favourite debuts of 2018, it’s edgy, fast paced with a great narrative. The chapters are quite short in parts, so it was easy to get consumed and most ended on a twist that left me bursting for more. Imogen is a great character. At the start of the story, she’s quite a timid and meek character, who never quite got over the death of her father. She’s the subject of abuse from not only Phillip but also her mother, who’s quite a harsh woman who regularly likes to remind Imogen of her failures in life. But as the story progresses, we see her develop in a strong and determined woman who will stop at nothing to keep her little boy safe, even if that involves the unlikely help of her ex-husbands ex lovers. Phillip is absolutely horrendous, vile and callous, I hated him and was gleeful when the women got their revenge on him, for all the abuse he had caused them through the years.

Cleverly written with amazing characters, ‘Sticks And Stones’ is a compelling story, riddled with tension throughout and fascinating characters, this simple story of revenge was impossible to put down.

You can pre-orderSticks and Stones from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 12th July 2018.

Sam Carrington

Sam Carrington By James Huntley‘Saving Sophie’, was Sam’s debut psychological thriller, published in September 2016. It became a Kindle eBook bestseller, with the paperback hitting ‘The Bookseller Heatseeker’ chart at #8. Sam was named an Amazon Rising Star of 2016. Her next psychological thriller, ‘Bad Sister’, publishes in October 2017 in ebook and December in paperback.

  1. To readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing
    I live in Devon with my husband and three children. I worked for the NHS for 15 years, during which time I qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree I went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. My experiences within this field inspired my writing. I left the service to spend time with my family, and to follow my dream of being a writer. I began writing short stories, then decided I wanted to move on to novels. The first manuscript I produced is now my ‘novel-in-a-drawer’ one, as although it gained agent interest, it didn’t get published. I entered the opening chapters of my next novel, ’Saving Sophie’, into the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger award and it was longlisted. This novel became my debut psychological thriller, published by Avon, HarperCollins. My second, ‘Bad Sister’ was published in ebook on October 5th and will come out in paperback 14th December.
  2. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    I’d love to have authors of varied genres at my book club. I used to only read crime and psychological thrillers before I joined my local book group seven years ago. Now, thanks to the members putting forward an array of books, I have pushed myself and sometimes read out of my comfort zone! So, with that in mind I’d like some crimies – Val McDermid would be great, Sharon Bolton – as she’s one of my favourite authors, then from the psychological genre, Louise Jensen and Lisa Hall (who is hilarious) and from the historical genre, Anna Mazzola, whose novel ‘The Unseeing’ proved to be one of the most-talked about novels in our group (we spent a long time discussing the book club questions, rather than just drinking wine!) I’d love some dark, horror types too – so Stephen King would be fab, alongside Chris Carter, whose novels I found to be pretty scary.
  3. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    When I get that germ of an idea that grows and takes shape in my head – then the early excitement of getting the first chapters down on the page (or on screen!) The first draft of a novel takes me about six months – I enjoy this first stage more than editing.
  4. Was there ever a book that you read, that didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it and left you disappointed?
    I hate mentioning books in a negative way – so won’t name it! But yes, there was a particular book that everyone I knew was raving about and I couldn’t wait to read, then when I did, it kind of fell flat for me. I’m not sure quite what it was, the style of writing, or the ending that didn’t work for me. It was made into a film and it was one of those very rare occasions where I preferred the film to the book.
  5. If you were starting your writing journey again, would you do anything differently?
    No, I don’t think I would. Looking back, the way my journey progressed was about right – I learned about rejections, I wrote a novel that is now in ‘the bottom drawer’ and kept at it until I had written something I was proud of. Everything that happened along the way either made me a better writer, or helped me develop personally. I also had time to learn more about the publishing world along the way. I wouldn’t change it.
  6. Bad Sister

  7. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    Ooh, I’ll often pick up books in shops and read the first lines, deciding there and then whether I’m going to buy it. So, there have been a lot of favourites, or ones that have gripped me from those opening few words. An example would be:
    ‘When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily’.
    This is the highly shocking and emotive beginning to Alice Seabold’s ‘The Almost Moon’. I was never sure how I felt about the novel, but that opening line stayed with me.
  8. From books and films, who has been your favourite bad guy?
    All-time favourite has to be Hannibal Lecter (from the books, film and TV series!) I think Hannibal’s complex character is pure brilliance and for me, he’s the most chilling character ever written. He is closely followed by Joe Carroll (played by the excellent James Purefoy) from the TV series, ‘The Following’. Charismatic, intelligent, completely creepy – all of which makes for compelling viewing!
  9. What do you think makes a good crime book?
    An unusual crime, lots of red herrings, pacey and suspenseful writing, great characters (I don’t have to like them, but I do need to be intrigued by them/their motives), an ending that leaves some things to the imagination.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    I’d take some from my TBR pile – I have about one hundred on my various shelves at home that I need to read! Three I haven’t got to yet are:
    ‘The Trouble with Goats and Sheep’ – Joanna Cannon
    ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ – Gail Honeyman
    ‘Broken Monsters’ – Lauren Beukes (Although that might set my nerves on edge if I was alone on a desert island!)
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    I think that’s going to be personal and specific to each individual writer. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. For example, one thing I need to develop is my description – I often leave out details in favour of faster pace, however for my reader to build up a picture and visualise the place and characters, this needs to be weaved in. I do have several ‘how to’ books on writing and there are plenty of writing courses to help develop your skills. Ultimately, I feel the more you write, the better you’ll become and if you take on board feedback and constructive criticism, then the process might be quicker!
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    Coffee.
  13. And finally do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website.
    I’ve written book three – it is due to go to my publisher very soon! This story follows Alice and Deborah – who are both mothers trying to find their way through a tragic event. Alice is the mother of a young man who is responsible for the death of Deborah’s son, who he came into contact with through an online gaming community. Connie Summers returns as the psychologist who is helping Alice manage her guilt – but Alice is convinced she can help Deborah through her grief, because in her mind they have both lost their sons.

Follow Sam Carrington on Twitter Sam Carrington for updates or check out her website at Sam Carrrington

Watching Edie By Camilla Way

Watching Edie‘Watching Edie’ is Camilla Way’s debut novel.

Edie is the friend that Heather has always craved. But one night, it goes terrifyingly wrong. And what started as an innocent friendship ends in two lives being destroyed. Sixteen years later, Edie is still rebuilding her life. But Heather isn’t ready to let her forget so easily. It’s no coincidence that she shows up when Edie needs her most.

NOW
Edie or Heather?
Heather or Edie?

Someone has to pay for what happened, but who will it be?

‘Watching Edie’ is one of the most highly anticipated thrillers of 2016, so much so that the kind people at Harper Collins sent out a stress kit to help readers deal with the terror of gripping tale, including a candle, face mask and a packet of Horlicks, everything to keep the reader relaxed whilst reading the story.

The story is about old best friends Edie and Heather, who suddenly meet up years after they left secondary school. Heather is a loner at school, coming from a strict religious background she is subject of bullying and she is delighted when popular newcomer Edie befriends her and introduces her to her new group of friends, but things turn nasty when Edie falls in with a bad crowd and she leaves her new best friend behind,

I loved this story and in particular, how cleverly it was written, as the story is written in two tenses and each of the tenses is seen through the narrative of both women. The past tense is seen through the eyes of Heather, a quiet, strange girl, who becomes infatuated with Edie and their new friendship. With her strict parents, she is not used to have a friend and isn’t sure what way to deal with it and looks after Edie to the point of worshipping. Heather’s story is about their time at secondary school, when Edie first entered her life and the situations they got into during this time. Meanwhile Edie’s perspective is seen during the present tense, when she has moved on with her life, living as a single mum in London, she is struggling to cope with being a new mother and is shocked when Heather suddenly turns up on her door offering a helping hand.

The story flows at a short and snappy pace with each chapter altering between a past and present tense and gives the reader, a full insight into how the once innocent and fun friendship transformed in something a lot more darker and sinister.

The characters are great, particularly Heather, a complex and eager young girl, who longs to fit in but struggles socially with those around her. With her naive way of thinking, this often leads to bullying and her being victimised in someway which does make for sad reading as she battles with emotions and new people. Edie, is seen as the victim of the story, as we read about a woman who is running from her past, constantly looking after her shoulder, struggling with her new role as a mother, she reflects on her past, particularly when Heather returns and old feelings and memories arise.

I read this story in a day, I couldn’t put it down, with its complex characters and addictive storyline, this psychological thriller explores the darker side of friendship and betrayal, an emotional rollercoaster with a truly tremendously twist, ‘Watching Edie’ is a powerful debut novel that pulls the reader in. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

You can pre-order Watching Edie: The most unsettling psychological thriller you’ll read this year from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 28th July 2016.