If you’ve been stressed out and counting the hours (minutes, seconds …) till your holiday the last thing you want is more stress from picking the right books to take with you!

But there are so many red hot sizzlers of reads out there, how do you pick the books to pack into your luggage? It’s a tough call, so to help you out I thought I’d do a top ten selection of my favourite reads from the past few months to give you a bit of a head start.

And so, after A LOT of deliberation, these are my top ten “must pack” reads.

**drum roll**

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If you love super smart and sparkly fun non-fiction … then REACHER SAID NOTHING by ANDY MARTIN is the perfect companion to lie back on your beach towel with.

Through Andy’s eyes, you’ll get a backseat view of Lee Child as he writes his most recent bestseller – MAKE ME. It’s a captivating snapshot of the life of Lee Child during the writing process – illuminating how his life and his writing feed into each other – and a lesson in thriller writing distilled through the expert observations and analysis of Andy Martin. REACHER SAID NOTHING is an honest, access-all-areas study of a writer at the top of their game, and a damn entertaining read – an absolute must for Reacher fans and aspiring writers too. If you’re a fan of crime thrillers this is a book you just have to read!

Read my review of REACHER SAID NOTHING here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Andy on Twitter @andymartinink

 

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If you love your crime to come with a heavyweight emotional sucker-punch … you’ll need IN HER WAKE by AMANDA JENNINGS in your rucksack when you head off to the British seaside.

It’s a remarkable book – part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age story, it entices you in with a gloriously rich web of secrets and mystery, and holds you spell bound right through to the final heart-wrenching revelation. Beautifully written, IN HER WAKE is a story of toxic relationships, family betrayals and self-discovery. It’s both gritty and tragic, and achingly emotive and heart-warming. A stunning read.

Read my review of IN HER WAKE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Amanda on Twitter @MandaJJennings

 

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If you love a classy whodunit with a psychological twist … be sure to take DIE OF SHAME by MARK BILLINGHAM with you when you load the truck to drive Route 66 on your road trip.

Told across two timelines, the story follows the police investigation, led by no-nonsense DI Nicola Tanner, into the murder of a member of a North West London addiction therapy group in the ‘NOW’. While in the ‘THEN’ it shows the group, and its members’ lives, as they were in the weeks leading up to the murder of one of their own. It’s a book that explores the lasting effects of addiction, the guilt of having to live with the consequences of actions you may have little recall of taking, and of each person’s battle to find and keep (or get back) their place within the world. It also shows the lengths that some people will go to in order to hide their secrets and take their revenge. For police procedural fans, the investigation narrative is as rich with detail and as tensely pacey as you’d expect from a crime-writing master of the genre. Gritty, thought provoking and utterly addictive!

Read my review of DIE OF SHAME here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mark on Twitter @MarkBillingham

 

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If you love a modern luxury twist on the classic locked room mystery … take THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by RUTH WARE along for the ride when you journey on the Orient Express.

It tells the story of Lo Blackwood who has been given the career opportunity of a lifetime – attending the press launch of a new boutique cruise ship and writing about her experience on its maiden voyage. But in the days leading up to the cruise her flat is burgled while she’s sleeping, and her relationship with her boyfriend, Judah, hits the rocks. Unsettled and exhausted, Lo makes her way to the ship, convinced some rest and recuperation will help her feel better. But things don’t work out like that. Against the backdrop of ultimate luxury – white velvet, raw-silk, chandeliers with over two thousand Swarovski crystals – and the breath-taking natural beauty of the Norwegian fjords, Lo finds herself facing the possibility she’s trapped on a boat, cut off from the outside world, and one of the other passengers is a murderer. THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 brings the classic locked room mystery bang up to date, with creepiness and ever increasing dread oozing from the pages. It’s packed with suspense and twisty with tension to the final page.

Read my review of THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 over on the @deadgoodbooks website here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ruth on Twitter @RuthWareWriter

 

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If you love gritty American noir … a copy of BLACK NIGHT FALLING by ROD REYNOLDS is essential reading while you’re waiting for your date to arrive in that back street whiskey bar.

The second book in the Charlie Yates series is another noir-drenched belter of a thriller. “Having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast, reporter Charlie Yates finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.” I think that if Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald had co-written a book it might have been rather like BLACK NIGHT FALLING. Darkly gritty, authentically compelling, this is a flawless treat of a thriller.

You’ll be able to read my review of BLACK NIGHT FALLING when in comes out in August. In the meantime, click here to pre-order it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Rod on Twitter @Rod_WR

 

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If you love seeing beneath the cash and the glitter thrillers … then EXPOSURE by AVA MARSH will keep your eyes wide open as you lounge by the rooftop pool.

At the start of the book, porn star Kitty Sweet is in prison for double murder, but she’s never told the secret of what really happened. When a long lost friend visits, bringing some upsetting news, Kitty’s offered some sessions with a therapist. She figures why not, she’ll turn up and play along. It’s hard to squeeze EXPOSURE into a single sub-genre – it’s a thriller for sure; a tale of deceit, and exploitation, and murder. It’s also a tale of friendship, of love and of heartbreak with a real emotional core. And the twist at the end, well, let’s just say it’s not many books that can make me cry – and this one did!

Read my review of EXPOSURE here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Ava on Twitter @MsAvaMarsh

 

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If you love high adrenaline action thrillers … then you’ll want to take THE TIME TO KILL by MASON CROSS with you when you jet-ski back to your yacht.

This is the third book in the Carter Blake series, and it’s one hell of a read! The story starts with Blake accepting a new job – finding an employee of an internet tech company who’s gone AWOL with a piece of ground-breaking software. But as he starts tracking his target, Blake isn’t aware that he himself is firmly in the sights of his old employers – Winterlong – and that they’ll stop at nothing to neutralize the threat they now believe him to be. THE TIME TO KILL is an adrenaline rush from the first page to the last. Packed with stunning set-piece action sequences, and an emotional punch as you discover more of the rather mysterious Blake’s backstory, this cinematic action thriller is like reading Reacher crossed with Bourne plus added fabulousness.

Read my review of THE TIME TO KILL here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Mason on Twitter @MasonCrossBooks

 

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If you love your police procedurals packed with ghostly wonder … you’re going to need JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVDIENCE OF GHOSTS by AK BENEDICT to accompany you on that London city getaway you’re planning (maybe you’ll even be tempted to try some mud larking).

Every once in a while you read a book that enthralls you, wrapping you up tight inside its world and holding you spellbound throughout the entirety of the story. For me, this is that book. “Maria King knows a secret London. Born blind, she knows the city by sound and touch and smell. But surgery has restored her sight – only for her to find she doesn’t want it. Jonathan Dark sees the shadowy side of the city. A DI with the Metropolitan Police, he is haunted by his failure to save a woman from the hands of a stalker. Now it seems the killer has set his sights on Maria, and is leaving her messages in the most gruesome of ways. Tracing the source of these messages leads Maria and Jonathan to a London they never know. To find the truth they’ll have to listen to the whispers on the streets.” Quirkily original, with deeply drawn unique characters and a brutally magical London setting, this story has you traversing all the emotions from darkness to delight with a gut wrenching honesty – rather as if you’ve been kissed and sucker punched all at the same time, but in a good way.

Read my review of JONATHAN DARK OR THE EVIDENCE OF GHOSTS here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Alexandra on Twitter @ak_benedict

 

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If you love twisty-turny legal thrillers … take THE PLEA by STEVE CAVANAGH on your New York city break – you could even visit some of the locations in the book while you’re there.

The second book in the Eddie Flynn series, THE PLEA, sees con-man-turned-criminal-defence-lawyer Eddie Flynn facing another terrifying situation: persuade social media genius David Child to become his client and get him to plead guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, or the FBI will make sure Eddie’s wife goes to prison for involvement in an illegal scheme operated by her law firm that she had no direct knowledge of. But Eddie suspects that David Child is innocent, and he won’t send an innocent man to jail. Eddie sets out to prove David’s innocence, and to protect his own family. Problem is, there is more than one bunch of bad guys after David, and some are closer to home than even Eddie might think. With an urgent, time pressured feel from the get-go, electric courtroom scenes, stunning action sequences and the witty and unique character of Eddie Flynn, THE PLEA a tremendous read.

Read my review of THE PLEA here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Steve on Twitter @SSCav

 

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If you love heart-racing creepiness in your thrillers … WILLOW WALK by SJI HOLLIDAY is the book to pack for that walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands.

This is the second book in the Banktoun trilogy. Set in a small town community in Scotland where everyone knows each other’s business and secrets are deeply held, Sergeant David Gray is investigating a series of deaths linked to legal highs, while also trying to work out what is going wrong in his relationship with girlfriend, Marie.

This twisty, turning police procedural has a strong psychological twist, and tackles some controversial issues. It’s a gritty tale of obsession, revenge and escape. Chillingly nuanced, and pulse-poundingly suspenseful, it’s totally unputdownable.

Read my review of WILLOW WALK here. Click here to buy it from Amazon. And be sure to follow Susi on Twitter @SJIHolliday

 

So don’t forget to pack your books in your suitcase (or pack them virtually onto your Kindle) and have a fab summer hols!

 

Cut to the Bone

What the blurb says: Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls. And she’s missing. She’s an adult – nothing to worry about, surely? Until the video’s uploaded. Ruby, in the dirt and pleading for her life.

Who better to head up the investigation than the Met’s rising star, Detective Inspector Kate Riley? She’s leading a shiny new team, high-powered, mostly female and with the best resources money can buy. It’s time for them to prove what they can do. Alongside her, Detective Sergeant Zain Harris – poster boy for multiracial policing and the team’s newest member – has his own unique contribution to make. But can Kate wholly trust him and when he’s around, can she trust herself?

Ruby’s millions of fans are hysterical about what may have happened to her. The press is having a field day and as the investigation hurtles out of control in the glare of publicity, it becomes clear that the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much, much darker than anyone could have imagined in their worst nightmares.

And the videos keep coming . . .”

CUT TO THE BONE is the latest debut coming out of Bonnier’s Twenty7 Books imprint, and it’s an outstanding edition to their line-up. Utterly contemporary, with a rapid pace and nail-biting tension from the get-go, it’s a super-twisty police procedural that kept me guessing right until the end.

The story starts with the disappearance of superstar vlogger, Ruby Day. This is a novel hot on technology – it’s bang up to date – but the human element is strong too, and Ruby’s story is heartbreakingly compelling. Bullied at school, Ruby turned to vlogging as a way to overcome her demons and help others. When her subscribers grew, she was catapulted into the spotlight, and with that came loyal fans, but also hangers on, and those looking to exploit her for profit. When she goes missing, DI Riley and DS Harris have a number of possible suspects who each has a stake in Ruby, but who would profit most from her disappearance? As the investigation cranks up, and more videos of Ruby in distress are released, it becomes clear that beneath the surface of Ruby’s business relationships and personal relationships there are darker, and seedier, motives than any of them could have possibly imagined.

The two main characters – DI Kate Riley and DS Zain Harris – make for an interesting pairing. Both damaged by the events in their past, they’re equally suspicious of others and find it difficult to trust people. They’re also both exceptional at what they do, and determined to get to the truth, and for justice to prevail (even if Zain’s version of justice may be a little more ‘hands on’ at times). Their origins – finding out why Kate Riley had to leave America and start over in the UK, and why Zain Harris is struggling to fit into his new role as a DS in Riley’s team – are fresh and original, and really made me want to spend time with them.

CUT TO THE BONE is perfect for readers who like their police procedurals fast paced, twisty-turny, and served with a side order of grit. I loved it, and can’t wait to read the next in the series.

CUT TO THE BONE is out in eBook now. You can buy it from Amazon here

Check out my interview with Alex Caan here and be sure to follow him on Twitter @alexcaanwriter

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Today I’m delighted to be joined by the fabulous Claire Seeber who has agreed to let me grill her about her latest thriller – THE STEPMOTHER.

Welcome, Claire!

Your latest book THE STEPMOTHER is out now, could you tell us a bit about it?

It’s a kind of spin on Snow White and a look at whether the age-old adage ‘the evil stepmother’ is justified, or a skewed take on a complicated relationship – and why the stepmother is always the outsider (and the father never gets blamed!). It’s also about mental health, I suppose, as in what drives us to the edge; and about familial relationships generally – it centres around two sisters, Jeanie & Marlena, who’ve had a raw deal growing up. That may or may not have pushed them to extreme behavior as adults…and it’s about jealousy, generally.

I found THE STEPMOTHER a real page turner. The relationship between the two sisters, and their unique voices, really hooked me in. What was your inspiration for creating them?

Thank you! I originally wanted to make Marlena the central character (the younger sister, who is a newshound, very career driven, has blotted her copy book in the phone hacking scandal) and I was more interested in her trying to find out what had happened to the girl who’d run off to join ISIS. But my editor was a bit worried Marlena was too ‘controversial’, I think – she’s quite spiky! So I came up with Plan B…tell the first part of the story from Jeanie’s point of view, because she’s (possibly) more sympathetic…and I made it more about families generally. But I managed to sneak the ISIS bit in too J

Within the narrative, you use a twist on a well loved fairy tale to great effect. Did you enjoy fairy tales as a child? And, if so, what are your top three?

Yes, I loved fairy tales, though I wasn’t a particularly girly girl, but I loved books generally. My dad worked in publishing when I was little (he had nothing to do with my writing career though, I ought to add!) and he brought us an amazing big hard-backed fairy-tale book, which I loved. Also all the old Ladybird books, I can still remember Cinderella’s dresses from those, and I also remember Rose Red and Snow White! My favourite…hmm. The ones I remember most are Little Red Riding Hood, The Little Mermaid and probably Cinderella – but having said that, I chose Snow White because I was so interested in the relationship between the child and the stepmother, & the obvious jealousy it causes in that tale.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process – do you plot everything out first, or just dive in and we where the story takes you?

A bit of both. It depends on my deadline really. I had to be super discliplined on THE STEPMOTHER because I had very little time to write it in. I had to make myself a plot outline and stick to it, and having that as a reference point was handy. I’ve written books with no plot outline, and I think it makes me feel more panicked!

What’s your favourite part of the writing process and why?

Probably just making it up as I go along on the first draft, and feeling like ‘ooh I’m onto something here’ and being really lost in the process. That’s when I really love it and it feels a bit like flying.

“Grip Lit” is a label that’s started being put on a lot of thrillers these days. As a well established writer of psychological thrillers do you see Grip Lit as something new within the genre, or just an new label?

Just a new label and a slightly irritating one at that!! It’s something I’ve pondered a lot as my first novel was written in 2004, before this whole ‘domestic noir/ grip lit’ became such a ‘thing’. Now the media heralds it as new, ‘specially since Girl on A Train, and I think – what’s new about reading the voice of women like us, telling us how it really is?! Worrying about relationships and drinking too much and fancying the wrong people, with some crime / plot twists thrown in?! It’s a bit galling, to be honest, when I’ve been doing it for about twelve years now!

And, finally, what does the rest of 2016 hold for you?

Well, having written 6 psychological thrillers, much as I love them – and I do – I’d like to do something hopefully new…still in the thriller area, but quite different. It’s written, and it’s with my agent – but you’ll have to watch this space because I’m so superstitious, I don’t want to jinx it, not because I’m being precious J !! And I probably will write another pysch thriller but I’m not sure what yet!

Sounds very intriguing! I can’t wait to read it.

A massive thank you to Claire Seeber for popping over to the CTG blog and letting me grill her (I owe you a drink, Claire).

To find out more about Claire and her books visit her website here and be sure to follow her on Twitter @claireseeber

To buy THE STEPMOTHER from Amazon, click here

 

Cut to the Bone

Today I’m super excited to be hosting a stop on the CUT TO THE BONE Blog Tour. The lovely Alex Caan has joined me on the CTG blog to chat about all things writing, reading and to tell me what it’s really like being a debut author.

Welcome, Alex!

I always read about writers knowing from a young age they wanted write. What do you think? And when did you decide to do it professionally?

For me I think it was about 8 I remember starting to write stories and wanting to be a writer. I think I saw Roald Dahl in his shed on Blue Peter (I know the glamour of my youth!) sharpening his pencils and writing his stories, and that made me realise it could actually be a career. Like so many though I didn’t have the confidence to pursue it, until I hit thirty and decided if I wanted to pursue my dreams it was now or never. So I joined writing groups, did short courses and eventually an MA. But from trying to make this my profession to the publication of ‘Cut to the Bone’ I think it’s taken me a decade of hard graft.

CTG pauses a moment, adds up years: thirty plus a decade … then says [in shock] there is no way you’re fourty!!!!

But, seriously, I’ve talked to quite a lot of authors who’ve said it’s taken them about ten years of ‘apprenticeship’ before getting published. So, you did an MA (like me). How did you find it?

Ha, thank you I think! Mine was a general MA and I spent most of it trying to write the next great Booker winner style novel. Only towards the end, when I had to submit a novel for my dissertation did I have the confidence to write something I really wanted to. I think I learnt a lot about how to cope with criticism, and constructive criticism. And I knew nothing about the business of publishing, how to approach agents and how the process works. The MA helped greatly with that.

Yes, that’s a really great point – I found it gave me a much better understanding of the world of publishing too. And the ‘writing what you want’ thing you mention is key, I think, it’s easier to find your own voice that way perhaps.

America. Why?

My reality especially as a teenager was dire. I think it’s why I connected with the character of Ruby so much, that sense of alienation and being an outsider, which I think both Kate Riley and Zain Harris also share. And when you’re growing up in a deprived inner-city area, and having a tough time, the American Dream is just so big and brash and seductive. The TV, films and especially the novels. Everything just seemed so exciting, even the grittiest thrillers had a touch of glamour. Plus the country was always so different depending where you were, so New York was different from LA, and both different from Texas and Boston. However, I’ve never been and I thought my novel would read as a poor pastiche if I tried to fake it. Instead-I transported Kate Riley from her New England/Washington past to London. That will give me I hope the vehicle to tell stories about America as her past comes back more strongly in future novels. And once I’ve been!

Oh yes, you absolutely must go! I can’t wait to discover more about Kate Riley’s past. And I get what you mean about the gritty but glamorous US-set films and TV shows. I’ve spent a lot of time in the States, and have family out there, so I’m more confident writing about the locations and such, although I do spend a lot of time checking my facts are correct – and getting my Step Mom to say things ‘in Amercian’ for me to ensure I’m getting the phrasing right!

What’s the weirdest research you did?

I ended up wandering around the South Downs late at night while on a work trip to Winchester once. And I think I spent about four days watching YouTube vlogs non-stop. I was by the end of it an honorary teenager, and my world-view was all over the place. But none of this is as exciting as your stint as a bounty hunter!!

An ‘honorary teenager’ – brilliant! But from what you’ve said, you wanted to experience some of what your characters do in order to write about it, and I guess that’s the same with me and the bounty hunting!

Who would you use your taser on?

So far everyone’s been lovely…so far…but I might borrow it if I start meeting writers who act like erm not very nice people (am determined not to swear).

Ha ha! Yes, you’re very welcome to borrow it, so long as you promise to give it back! In return, what advice can you give me as someone approaching publication as a debut?

So advice for you as a debut. I think you’re already leagues ahead of so many writers, the most difficult part for me was breaking into the crime world. Everyone seems to know everyone, and I was terrified. Thank you for your advice by the way, it really helped. So I think you’ve done all of that, and people have so much respect for you already, and I really feel like your novel has a buzz around it. It will really hit the ground running. What I would say, and what I’m failing to do fully, is enjoy it. The nerves make it difficult, the idea that people you have no control over will review it, how much it sells, Tv deals etc etc. Try and ignore all that if you can. And practice your ‘I didn’t win the oscar face’ if you get a questionable review. I have to remember how subjective reading is, and not to take it personally. If someone’s bought the novel and spent the time to read it, they are entitled to feel any way they want to about it.

*blushes* *goes off to practice I didn’t win the oscar face* *returns* – thank you, that’s great advice. I do hope you get to enjoy the experience. Your debut, CUT TO THE BONE, is a fantastic novel.

Speaking of which, can you summarise your novel for readers in a paragraph?

Cut to the Bone is about Ruby Day, a vlogger with millions of fans who goes missing. An elite new unit of the Met are called in under questionable circumstances to investigate, led by Kate Riley, Zain Harris and the rest if her team. What starts of as a misisng person’s case soon escalates into a creepy hunt for a kidnapper, as videos are anonymously uploaded of Ruby pleading for her life. And the kinapper has issued a threat that she won’t be the only one.

It’s a great read, folks. Be sure to watch out for my review next week.

And finally, I don’t believe I swear more than you. Are you sure you counted all bad words? Anyway, my next novel I am determined to swear less. What’s your resolution?

Ha! I think you swear more on the page and less in real life perhaps. I’m the other way around – I edit my sweariness on the page, but in real life I am a pottymouth. Perhaps my resolution should be to even the two out a little more!

And, sadly, that’s all we have time for.

A huge thank you to the wonderfully talented Alex Caan. To keep up with all his news, follow him on Twitter @alexcaanwriter

A bigger thank you to you though for letting me part of the iconic CTG blog, and I can’t wait to read Deep Down Dead (not that this is a MASSIVE hint to get me a proof copy or anything…)

CUT TO THE BONE is out now. You can buy it from Amazon here

And be sure to check out the rest of the fabulous CUT TO THE BONE Blog Tour stops …

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What the blurb says: “Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships. No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work. And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.

But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage. Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all. After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending…doesn’t it?”

There are a lot of psychological thrillers around at the moment, so it was a real pleasure to read THE STEPMOTHER which makes a quirkily original addition to the sub-genre.

It tells the story of Jeanie, a single mum, who has recently married Matthew, who has custody of the children from his first marriage – Scarlet and Luke. As they start married life, and try to join their families together, Jeanie starts to feel increasing unwelcome in the family home. At first she explains same strange situations as teething problems and her own paranoia, but as the weeks and months pass, and increasingly bizarre and macabre things occur, it becomes very clear that someone doesn’t want Jeanie around. The question is, how far will they go to get rid of her?

The story is split between Jeanie’s viewpoint and that of Marlena – Jeanie’s younger and bolder sister – and uses a twist on the classic fairy tale of Snow White within the narrative, to great effect.

Jeanie is an immediately likable character. She’s human and flawed, a hopeless romantic even though life hasn’t been so great to her, and a devoted mother to her teenage son, Frank. I liked her, and wanted things to work out for her with her new marriage and blended family.

This, combined with the dark undertones, sense of impending doom and creeping dread that permeates the chapters, makes THE STEPMOTHER highly compelling and unputdownable.

THE STEPMOTHER is out now. To buy it from Amazon click here

To find out more about Claire Seeber and her books visit her website here and follow her on Twitter @claireseeber

And be sure to drop by the CTG blog on Friday when I’ll be posting my interview with Claire …

 

 

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Today I’m handing over the reins at CTG HQ to a fabulous new crime blogger and crime writer – Sam Dennis. I met Sam earlier this year when she was in her second term on the City University London Creative Writing MA, and about to start her own crime fiction blog.

Today Sam’s talking about why she picked City University for her MA …

I’ve always known I wanted to write books one day but I wasn’t very good at it. I have plenty of half-finished stories, characters begging to tell their stories and book ideas in various notepads, diaries, scrap pieces of paper, etc. but I kept on getting stuck. One day I decided to search for a course that could help me. I came across City University London’s course and immediately felt intimidated by the prestige and the amount of work I’d have to do – to write a full-length novel sounded terrifying but I knew it was something I had wanted from a young and so I applied.

Fast-forward to today and I’m a few weeks away from finishing my first year. It’s been very intense but extremely rewarding Creative Writing MA. (They haven’t paid me to say that.) It’s not your average course and although I had done my research about how much writing we’d have to do in the first year, it was a bit of a culture shock to have to write between 1,000 – 2,000 words a week. Before this course I had starting writing many stories but had never really planned a story from beginning to end – I didn’t think you needed to, I thought it ‘just came to you in a dream’. That’s where the course came in and turned my scribbles into fully fledged idea that could one day (I hope) be published.

What I love about City’s course is that we focus solely on crime fiction, our teachers are published crime novelists so they’re more than qualified to give advice and teach us how to write, but more than that, we have regular visits by some of the best crime writers also. In our bi-weekly workshops we don’t spend time searching for ‘meaning’ – although we do have some hilarious conversations about what was going through the authors head when they wrote a particular scene – instead we think about the immediate questions the author poses, how they create tension, whether we need to like the main character or not (we do), the twists and turns, and then we think about how we can do the same for our novels and actually do it. In the beginning I was so scared and nervous to share my work and had immediately dismissed it but then everyone’s feedback encouraged me and let me know we’re all a bunch of dark people who enjoy writing about and discussing gruesome things.

As we’re almost at the final hurdle of the first academic year I’m now at the stage where I’m writing my first novel – I never thought I’d get to this point. We had to spend a lot of time planning and plotting, working on the characters and throwing plenty of curveballs at them, and it’s been a great help. I’m very much a plotter so I absolutely loved that part of the course. But this is the bit that really counts and where everything I’ve learnt from September 2015 to today will see me through writing my novel from start to finish so that it’s completed by September 2017. It’s amazing to me that I will have written over 100,000 words.

I’m completely sold to crime thriller books and spend a lot of my time reading, reviewing, discussing, recommending them alongside studying and writing one of my own. It’s very surreal. What I’d say to anyone who’s toying with the idea of writing a crime thriller novel and would like a little guidance on how to do so, invest in yourself and do this course – you won’t be disappointed at all. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made so far and I’m excited to see where my book takes me one day.

A massive thank you to Sam Dennis for taking the helm of the CTG HQ today. 

You can catch Sam blogging about all things crime fiction over on her fabulous site www.thiscrimebook.com and be sure to follow her on Twitter @SmDee13

For more information about the brilliant Creative Writing MA offered by City University London (Twitter – @citywriting), hop over to their website here

 

 

 

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Shush, *don’t tell anyone*, but today I’m moonlighting over at the awesome http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk and talking about Ruth Ware’s new psychological thriller THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 – it’s a pacey page turner, packed with suspense and twisty with tension; a fabulously contemporary locked room mystery.

To find out more hop over to Dead Good Books and check out my review here

*tell everyone*