The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

ten thousandI love this story. It is what every child holds deep in their imagination. What every inner child sat inside an adult screams for. Imagine doors, just random doors in the middle of nowhere, somewhere and even here. Doors that lead to other places, countries and people. Doors driven by the invisible magic in the world, but only visible to a few.

There’s a moment in the story when Harrow balances the readers on the precipice of whether what January is experiencing is real or fiction. A fictional narrative drummed up by the trauma of grief and the pain of neglect. A young girl who has had episodes of delusions over the years or is that what Locke would have us believe.

It all seems too far-fetched to be true. Doors in the middle of fields that lead to other places.  A book that tells the story of a young girl who happens upon the opening of a door at the right time and then spends years trying to reestablish a connection made within moments. Moments that haunt her and set her on an incredible path to discover the truth.

This book has incredible depth and beauty. It’s the kind of story that inspires both the young and old, and creates readers. It allows readers to step further than they believed – one page at a time. Magic of old and blood magic of new.

It’s YA fantasy, but I would recommend it for younger readers too. Fantasy melded with historical fiction with an essence of literary fiction.

Buy The Ten Thousand Doors of January at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orbit; pub date ecopy 10 Sept. 2019, Hardcover pub date 12 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @AlixEHarrow on Twitter, on Goodreads, Visit

How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid

This is book 11 in the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series, and after reading this one I absolutely will have to go back and re-read previous one. Tony is sat in jail for killing someone and Carol has retired from the police force. What the heck happened?

Breathing fresh air and new ideas into a long-term series isn’t easy when you have a huge solid fan-base. Readers don’t always like drastic changes. Kudos to McDermid for giving readers what they need without them being aware that they need it.

Putting Tony back to square one by destroying his reputation, his career and severing his important relationships is a gutsy move. It’s also one that allows the series to develop in multiple directions. Perhaps not in the way readers expect, but hey that is what makes McDermid such a popular writer.

As Tony resigns himself to life behind bars he also tries to spend it wisely and in a way that supports his fellow prisoners. Unfortunately his very academic and privileged way of thinking can come across as pompous, despite his good intentions.

Meanwhile on the outside members of the old team get a chance to prove themselves whilst out from under the large shadow of Hill and Jordan. Adjusting to a new boss and team isn’t as easy as it sounds. Jordan also has to try and come to terms with the repercussions of multiple traumatic events in order to move forward.

This time the author brings a more reflective read, as opposed to a crime and violence heavy read to the table. In a way McDermid is giving Hill and Jordan a moment to breathe in the chaos. A chance to re-evaluate their relationship and friendship. It will be interesting to see where the author takes the series and characters going forward.

Buy How the Dead Speak at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publication date in UK: 22 August 2019. Publisher: Little, Brown. Buy at Amazon com. Buy at Little Brown.

Follow @valmcdermid on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit

Read my reviews of Out of Bounds and Insidious Intent by Val McDermid.

The Seer’s Curse by J.J. Faulks

seers curseThe Seer has his own agenda, which is kind of ironic really when you think of how so-called mediums can convince their clients to lean towards certain decisions. Self-fulfilling prophecies used on an entire village, it’s quite a clever ruse. Unfortunately his plan includes having an innocent child isolated from her friends, family and village.

With a mass or herd mentality the rumour of a supposed curse gains a lot of speed and the Chinese whisper communication method helps to flame the fires of paranoia. Soon every death, every illness and the diminishing food supply is blamed upon the child born under a dark cloud of sorrow and death.

The story of Orleigh is interspersed with short tales of mythology, not of the Greek variety, but rather an entire world of mythology built by Faulks for this story. I liked the idea of the myths being told to teach morals or show an example of good behaviour. The stories within a story. However there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. The author uses the feature too often, which detracts from the characters and the rest of the story.

Aside from that this is a very strong debut. The author and the plot both have a lot of potential. The characters are memorable and I am looking forward to seeing where the author takes Orleigh and Piprin. Faulks is a natural storyteller, who isn’t afraid to be innovative and follow through with bold ideas.

Buy The Seer’s Curse at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @jj_faulks @matadorbooks


29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

29 secondsWhat I enjoyed most about 29 Seconds is the way the author changed the playbook.

As a reader you think you know exactly what kind of read you’re in for after the introduction to Sarah and the predator at her heels, then suddenly the focus changes entirely.

The topic of sexual harassment is on the tip of everyone’s tongue at the moment, due to the revelations about Weinstein and quite a few other Hollywood bigwigs. The #MeToo movement has resulted in a landslide of women and men coming forward to talk about their experiences at the hands of abusers.

Sarah finds herself, like many other women, in a daily struggle to avoid the advances of the man in charge of all of her possible career advancements. Technically it doesn’t mean she can’t get a promotion or be acknowledged for her academic achievements if she is willing to do what he wants and when he wants it. Imagine being blackmailed for sexual favours every single day and trying to fight the systemic abuse our society ignores on a major scale.

How many times are the victims demeaned, destroyed and ridiculed when they try to expose the abusers. To Invalidate and blame the victim is the name of the game. Not really surprising that victims don’t speak out against their abusers.

For me the most intriguing part of the premise was the question. I’ll admit I pondered what my response would be, would have been fifteen years ago and which person I would pick. So the answer for me is a yes, and I wouldn’t worry about it like Sarah or suffer from a guilty conscience either. By the way don’t tell the police I said that.

Logan writes a captivating story, which is driven by the protagonists desperation and fear. It’s a premise, which will make readers think and definitely talk about the book. Both the sexual harassment and the possibility of a crime without repercussions are excellent standalone topics for a story, but together they make an exceptional read.

Logan knows how to capture the heartbeat of public opinion and describe exactly what we wish for in the dark recesses of our minds. The only thing I want to know is, where is my Russian?

Buy 29 Seconds at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @TMLoganAuthor @BonnierZaffre

Watching Edie by Camilla Way

watching edieOne of the most interesting elements of this story is the fact the author hasn’t created a black or white situation.

There are many shades of grey, and in this case those shades relate directly to whether the characters are good guys or bad guys. The truth is, there is no clear answer to that question.

The reader feels sympathy with Edie, because of the hard situation she finds herself in. She is a single woman, who is about to become a single mother. When the baby does eventually arrive she is overwhelmed and clearly needs a friend.

Heather seems like the great alternative to a support system, despite the troubled past she and Edie share. Seems like the perfect solution. Edie needs help and Heather wants to help. Does she really want to help though?

Heather has a tendency to stalk, get violent and blackout. She is creepy and clearly unstable. Would you want her to take care of your newborn baby?

Throughout the book Edie has flashbacks to a time when she and Heather were friends and also to some terrible event that ended said friendship.

What it comes down to is who you think is guilty of the greater crime or wrong-doing. There are things that are unforgivable or so inhumane that they leave a deep dark stain on anyone involved in them. Some wrongs can never be righted.

Watching Edie will make you question everything and everyone. It is a nicely paced and well-developed psychological thriller, and despite the fact the reader can probably guess the traumatic secret the two of them are hiding, it is still a compelling read.

Buy Watching Edie at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

insurgentAs I have mentioned before I am a little late to the series, despite having the books in the house for ages. I must say I have enjoyed the read then again I am a sucker for dystopian settings.

This is the second part in the Divergent series. You can definitely see the influence this series has had on other books and vice versa. Also the obvious parallels to the Hunger Games (HG was released first). It’s an eclectic mixture of dystopian and sci-fi.

I believe the two series have given YA dystopian literature a huge platform, whilst inspiring many other authors to bend the boundaries of this particular genre.

The Tris in this book is a bit of an emotional wreck. A wet blanket who acts without thinking and spends a lot of time doubting her choices. Gone is the strong sense of survival from the first book.

In my review of the first part I mentioned how I felt the compulsory love match took away from the interesting dystopian plot. In this book their relationship is a wee bit on the rocky side.In fact Four does not seem to understand her at all.Their attitudes and decisions are incompatible, although one could argue that Four has just been really good at hiding his real intentions.

It is a typical in between book. A lot of information to fill in the blanks and set up the last book. The first sets up the story, the second gives us an overall view on the situation and the last one is the culmination of the revolution.

Definitely a series both younger and older readers will enjoy

Buy Insurgent at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Divergent, the first in the Divergent Trilogy series by Veronica Roth.

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

undergroundThe most worrying element of this story is the plausibility of this scenario. What could have been and what could still be.

The topic of racism is at the forefront of society, as we watch the civil unrest in the US rise and the topic of refugees cause conflict in Europe.

The truth is racism has always been an underlying issue in the US. The civil movement, segregation and slavery isn’t really that long ago. So this story is en-vogue in a sense, and the premise is a red flag with absolutely realistic scenarios.

In this book slavery was never abolished. in fact it has become a well oiled industry. It is also supposedly a humane industry, but hey it’s slavery and greedy men will always exploit the vulnerable.

Instead of humane treatment, the slaves, known as PBL’s ‘person bound by labour’ suffer pain and humiliation at the hands of their captors. Some of them are even killed, despite it being illegal to do so.

Victor was once a PBL who escaped the injustice of his situation only to be forced into a new kind of slavery. He is what the Kapos were to the concentration camp inmates. He is a betrayer to his own people. It’s his job to hunt down the ones who are lucky enough to escape.

I like the fact Winters has had the gumption to take the idea back to the beginning of the end and change the historical narrative. This is what half of the country wanted and what it could possibly have evolved into under a different set of circumstances.

To be completely frank the Pigmentation Taxonomies really struck a chord with me. It or the descriptions bring the inhumanity of it all to the forefront: moderate charcoal, brass highlights #41, moderate chestnut, sunflower highlights #142 or twilight, purple tone #122.  It objectifies all of them in a way I can’t even begin to fathom and could never relate to.

Underground Airlines serves as a stark reminder of the race issues that simmer under the surface and how much damage the social philosophy of eugenics has caused and continues to cause. We are one race, the human race.

As I said, it’s a powerful thought-provoking premise and read.

Buy Underground Airlines at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Blog-Tour: All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Today is my turn on the Blog-Tour for Wendy Walker’s intriguing thriller All is Not Forgotten!

About the Author

Wendy Walker is a practicing divorce attorney in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. She published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and edited multiple compilations for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series before writing her debut psychological thriller, All is Not Forgotten.

How can people connect with Wendy Walker on social media?

She has an email which can be found via her website:

Twitter handle is @Wendy_Walker, Facebook is: on Goodreads

Buy All is Not Forgotten at Amazon UK

You can follow the tour with @HQStories or @Wendy_Walker just look for #NotForgotten

About the Book

You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime. Jenny’s wounds have healed. An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack. She is moving on with her life. That was the plan. Except it’s not working out. Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching. And she’s getting worse. Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial. It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack. And that could destroy as much as it heals.

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call ‘Breaking the Ice.’

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms want to know) I just read an ARC of a book called The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel. It is a family drama/thriller that captures the essence of family dysfunction and the ripple effects that last for generations. Fabulous!

The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? The last movie I got to see without my three teenage sons was Brooklyn (yes – I went with a girlfriend!). It was gorgeous and moving and yet so simple. Great film making!

Are you more of a Game of Thrones or Outlander gal? (Combinations are possible) I have to admit, as unpopular as this will make me with some of your readers, that while I appreciate the wonderful characters and epic settings of those shows, I tend to enjoy television that is more real world. House of Cards, Homeland, The Americans and for comedy I am totally addicted to Catastrophe!

Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet? I am so tempted right now to answer in a way that will make me seem profoundly intellectual but the honest, suburban mom answer is George Clooney!

Something you treat yourself to, now and again? (Cream éclairs totally count) Dinner with a close friend. There is something about letting everything out with someone who knows you well, who holds your history, and whom you trust completely (over a glass of wine, of course) that is absolutely blissful.

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. There are some really interesting answers though. I am a fan of Homeland, House of Cards and Newsroom, so I totally get the interest in real world TV. 

Now let’s talk about All is Not Forgotten.

I particularly enjoyed the angle you chose to approach this topic from; usually the focus is on the victim, in All is Not Forgotten you make the reader sit on the balcony of the arena and watch with the rest of the characters, as the story unfolds…

How did you come to the decision to tell the story in this way? What was the intention behind taking this approach? I had two objectives when I set out to write this book. The first was to provide a substantive exposition of the underlying issue – which is memory science and the treatment of trauma following a criminal assault. The second was to tell the story in a unique way that would capture a reader’s attention completely but also feel like an engaging conversation with a friend. I plotted each character’s story using coloured note cards and stacked them sequentially. But then I layered them into the chapters at times when they felt organic to the story. That way, the information did not get out of order, but it was delivered to the reader with the structure I designed.

Charlotte and Tom both react to the situation in vastly opposing ways, which causes a lot of friction throughout the book – did this predicament make up part of your initial idea, or was it something you came to later on? Everything in this novel was carefully plotted. But, as I wrote, the characters did become more complex. I knew Charlotte and Tom would have that tension and I knew the basic psychological reasons behind it. What evolved as I wrote were the details of their back stories and how their childhoods fed their underlying personalities which are the basis of the conflict. The good Charlotte/bad Charlotte dynamic, for example, came about because of the way I was writing her story and how the narrator needed to explain things to her so he could help her understand. I loved that angle so much that I went back and gave it more substance throughout the earlier chapters.

You’ve obviously researched deeply into the use of drugs in the treatment of PTSD and trauma in regards to erasing memories. Did you find your own views on the use of this kind of treatment changing the further you delved into this? Did you make any unexpected or surprising discoveries along the way? I was surprised at how advanced the science had become since I first read about it back in 2010. But the basic dilemma I saw for crime survivors remained the same. Anything that is intended to alter or erase a memory will conflict with the ability to seek justice and come to terms with the feelings of violation that are inherent in those experiences. My views on this did not change – I think the ability to mitigate PTSD is absolutely amazing and worthwhile. But it will pose difficult decisions for people whose traumas involve criminal assaults.

Even if a treatment such as this does have a positive effect in cases of PTSD, physically and psychologically it negates the possibility of conviction, which raises quite a significant ethical question. Are these sorts of divisive dilemmas at the heart of all of the stories you write? I try very hard to structure my novels around issues that will resonate in readers on a personal level. In All Is Not Forgotten, I hope readers will think about this dilemma every time they read about memory science and even in their every day lives as they wonder what they would choose for themselves or for their children. Dilemmas in relationships and families and society as a whole make us stop and think and feel things, and for me that is what can make any story worth reading.

The big question of the hour comes down to whether it is better to forget or remember all the details of a traumatic event: if you were in Jenny’s shoes, which option do you think you would take? This is always a tough question for me. I would absolutely choose to mitigate the emotional component with some of the treatments that are available now. Reconsolidating memories of trauma in therapy to reduce the emotional pain they hold seems to me to be life saving for many people. That said, I do not think I would choose to erase the factual memory if that became possible. And I would not do anything that would impede justice. For me, personally, that would be a priority.

Thank you for answering all the questions, even the odd ones!


I have to hand it to Walker, she certainly doesn’t pull any punches. Her story is vicious in a sense that this is the sad reality for many young women. Being treated like a piece of meat, being used and abused, being exploited and having to adapt their behaviour to not become a victim, has been the norm for many years.

Jenny is pushed into coping with the rape. In a way it seems as if her parents do her an even bigger injustice by pressing the delete button on her memories. Her mother wants to shove the experience under the carpet and her father is mainly concerned with vengeance. So having the memories erased causes instant conflict between Charlotte and Tom, because only one person is getting what they want. Begs the question, where does that leave the poor victim in this scenario?

Eventually it all leads to a complete burnout for Jenny. Not being able to come to terms with the assault leaves its mark on the young girl. Finally she gets the help and support she needs in the form of therapy. The therapist sees the case as a personal challenge and possible milestone in his career. He seems more interested in solving her case or rather helping her to remember for his own benefit.

Makes you wonder whether the therapist’s ego actually takes a higher place in the scheme of things. His ability to discover, heal and be right seems to dominate the entire scenario.

In that regard he isn’t really that different from her parents. Both Tom and Charlotte have agendas and goals, which are driven by their own frame of reference and past experiences. Overall it becomes clear just how little everything is about the actual victim. It’s about Tom’s need for revenge, Charlotte’s need to look normal for society, the therapist’s need to succeed, but hardly ever really truthfully about Jenny coming to terms with the rape.

The therapist also allows the feelings of his own past assault to steer and guide the conversation and therapy with all of them. This makes him anything but objective, and certainly a less than wise choice in the healing process. He feels elation and excitement every time Jenny remembers a piece of the puzzle.

It’s an engrossing read because the topic is controversial and the twist is a shocker. I enjoyed the cat and mouse pace, despite figuring out said twist. Walker has added a subtle layer of complexity to her psychological thriller, which made it a memorable reading experience and a breath of fresh air.

Buy All is Not Forgotten at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

the fire childTremayne keeps the reader guessing when it comes to which one of the happily married couple is slightly deranged. At certain points of the story it is quite hard to decide whether David or Rachel should win the trophy for the most bizarre and crazy character.

What Tremayne does really well is describe the surroundings.You can almost see yourself walking through the majestic rooms and the countryside. The landscape, the house, the mines and also the history of the miners.

I think the reality of miners lives, both in and out of the mines, is often trivialized. In this story the author gives an accurate sense of the stark brutality and hardship of that way of life, and also the riches reaped from the work of said miners.

One of the things that peeved me was the reaction to the assault. Why the assault wasn’t enough to warrant the exclusion, which is just so typical of our society.

I would have liked to have seen more focus on the myth or reality of being a fire child, I felt as if the rest of the story overpowered that element of the tale.

The Fire Child is a mixture of mystery, a smidgen of paranormal and a large portion of important social justice issues.

Buy The Fire Child at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

baby dollIt doesn’t happen often, but now and again I will read a book that annoys me. Part of it was because it was a good premise, however it wasn’t very well executed. Far too much gratuitous drama and attention on minor characters.

The other part was just overall annoyance at the plot and characters in general.

That in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You know what they say, if you’re talking about a book it must have had something in it that moved you, made you angry or just plain annoyed you.

The way Lily was allowed to make decisions above police procedures, just for an extra dramatic scene, was unrealistic. That her first instinct wasn’t to call the authorities at all, and yes I do understand her paranoia, was a little hard to swallow.

I also understand the author wanting to emphasis how families are completely torn apart by crimes such as this one. Saying that, there was way too much focus on Lily’s mother and her choice of boyfriend. It gave nothing to the story.

The story would have been tighter and more enjoyable if the focus had remained on Lily and her abductor. Focusing on the victim-blaming and victim-shaming mentality of the media and society. The way people would rather believe the word of a proven rapist and abuser, because he is an upstanding member of society, rather than believing the word of a young damaged woman.

This is exactly what Overton tries to do, but those elements are drowned out by the mother and the Abby’s personal drama.

The end was slightly muddled in a sense that Overton could have taken it in a variety of interesting directions. Abby implying Lily may feel something other than hate for her abductor for instance. It opened so many doors on a moral and psychological level.

The author has great ideas they just need to be reined in and given more structure and direction.

Buy Baby Doll at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.