Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Book Review: Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

Skin DeepSkin Deep by Liz Nugent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Skin Deep isn’t what I expected. It’s billed as a psychological thriller and in my view it isn’t. I’ll explain why in a moment.

Firstly, I’ll give my views on what it IS. It’s the dramatic tale of a woman’s life from a damaged childhood on a remote island, through tragedy and trauma to middle age. The narrative is driven by one woman, Delia, focusing on her family and the impact she has on the lives of others she touches during her life’s journey. It’s about survival and the lengths Delia will go to in order to protect herself. It’s about character and we get to know the many complicated and contradictory layers of Delia’s personality as she moves from place to place, country to country, trying to escape her past and reinvent herself in her new setting.

There’s a dead body, but this only plays a small part at the beginning, to hook in the reader, re-appearing within the context of the story at the very end. The novel is extremely gripping, it’s full of drama.

For those interested in why it isn’t a psychological thriller, in my opinion, a psych thriller usually involves an unreliable narrator of some kind – here, Delia is unlikeable, but at no point in the story are we misled by her narrative. Or anyone else’s. Delia pretty much tells it straight, in terms that are hard-edged and always without emotion. There’s no play on the anxiety of a victim. Unlike a psych thriller, there are no attempts to create tension in the audience, to create dissonance between what the reader ‘knows’ and what the character hasn’t yet worked out. Yet, it IS a page-turner - because Delia’s life is fraught and we watch her stagger from one disastrous situation to another. If you like Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley character, you’ll no doubt enjoy this.
Highly recommended!


View all my reviews

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AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author

  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Thursday, 11 April 2019

New Book coming June 2019!


I've been busting a gut to let you know I've submitted my next book to my publisher, Bloodhound Books and they loved it! It's due for release on 28 June 2019. So do Save the Date!

ENEMY AT THE WINDOW is in production as I write...


It's a standlone psychological thriller and I'm looking forward to sharing the jacket blurb and cover artwork with you in the months ahead!

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AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author

  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Mini Book Review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

The Bones of YouThe Bones of You by Debbie Howells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful, tender, touching, deviant, harrowing murder mystery! Love a psychological thriller that can be savoured because the quality of the language is so good, rather than 'raced through' because the plot alone holds a book together. Highly recommended.

View all my reviews

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author

  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Monday, 14 January 2019

Book-Deal signed in 12 hours and other News!

I love the beginning of the year. I can't wait to take down the festive decorations with Christmas behind us and clear the decks. No more presents, mince pies, terrible nostalgic television programmes. No more tinsel, bits of glitter on the carpet and Quality Street.


I'm not a misery guts at Christmas, (honestly!) but like many, I'm always relieved when it's over. When I can restore the house to how it should be and turn my energies to what's next. As a former psychotherapist, I have a profound interest in renewal, fresh starts and reinvention. There's a point on New Years Eve, just as Big Ben is about to bong, when you can take a breath in, one year, and breathe it out in the next! What a thought! That idea sends tingles up my spine.

With thoughts about new directions at the forefront of my mind, I thought I'd share a snapshot of what I'm working towards in 2019! But first, I need to backtrack a few months...

In October and November, my three Samantha Willerby Mystery Series books (two re-launches and one brand new novel) were released within the space of four weeks. It was a huge amount of work and I was absolutely shattered afterwards. I'm so grateful to my publishers, Bloodhound Books, for terrific new covers and for getting it all together on time. During the same period, I was polishing the first draft of my next novel, a standalone psychological thriller.



As many of you who follow me on social media will know, my husband and I took in an elderly and poorly cat in October. She'd been abandoned and left starving on the streets where my sister-in-law lives. We spent several turbulent weeks going back and forth to the vet wondering if she'd make it. I'm pleased to say Lucy is doing really well, as I write this.

Little Miss Lucy looking adorable

In November, I spent several days caught up in selection for jury service (thankfully, with the help of my publisher, the judge excused me on the grounds of being a self-employed author), then I was badly bitten by a local Tomcat (trying to protect Lucy in a fight), which sent me to hospital and my local GP several times, as my hand was infected. 


Aside from not being able to type, the antibiotics and painkillers made me feel sick and disoriented; they also sent my taste buds all over the place (couldn't face tea or coffee anymore - wine was okay!) Christmas came as a much needed break - but I also had my draft to finish. As a result I worked on it on Christmas Day and every day during the holidays, in fact. No complaints from me, I should say. My husband was pleased too, as it kept me out of his kitchen.

I LOVED working on it and finished it yesterday.

I told my publisher about it and within twelve-hours, we signed a two-book deal for the new standalone and 'book four' in the Sam Series! I couldn't be more thrilled. With so many horror stories flying around at the moment: publishers dropping big name authors, publishers demanding that authors shift genre altogether - I'm incredibly grateful for a publisher who is happy to take my books as they are. Such a relief, especially as in the past, I've had a lot of professional pressure to write 'something different', 'something better', even 'something without the psychological stuff'. Ahem... given that fifteen years' experience as a psychotherapist is my USP, that wasn't too encouraging!


So, right now, my new thriller has been sent off to my beta-readers for their feedback on the plot. And I'm beavering away gathering ideas for Sam book four. That will be my 10th novel to be published. I haven't written a word of it yet, but it's already started to bubble away in my brain. I'm looking forward to getting together with Sam and Miranda again, to see how their turbulent relationship pans out and also to catch up with Sam's love life. Will Terry turn out to be the man of her dreams in book four? And what terrifying scrapes will Sam get herself into this time, I wonder?

So, that's where 2019 is heading for me! I wanted to say a big 'thank you' to everyone who has left lovely comments about my books on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and through my Newsletter. Lots of readers say they can't wait to get hold of the next in the series and that is extremely heartening. It makes such a difference to know there are people out there waiting to read the next books I write. I will put my heart and soul into them, I promise.

Wishing everyone a Healthy, Happy and Peaceful 2019!

The new thriller is due for release end June, 2019
Join my Newsletter for updates!

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AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author

  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Mini Book Review: The Keeper of Lost Things - Ruth Hogan

Sometimes, I need a break from reading thrillers and dark mysteries. Here's my antidote to the  twisted and chilling underworld of crime I usually read and write about!

The Keeper of Lost Things The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A joyful, feel-good story with unusual non-heroic characters. There's a tender, bittersweet storyline about collecting and returning lost random items: umbrellas, hair clips, buttons. Each item has its own little story and there's a second entirely separate thread which comes together, poignantly, with the first, at the end.

I love the writing style; gentle, thoughtful, unusual and exquisite! I spread my reading of this beautiful book out so that every day, I looked forward to re-entering the world of lost things as a refuge from everyday life! Completely transporting.

View all my reviews

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author

  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Saturday, 24 November 2018

How Working in a Safe-House helped me write Thrillers

I can honestly say that when it comes to personal experience of the ‘criminal mind’, fact, for me, is just as chilling as fiction. That’s because before I became an author, I'd been a psychotherapist for fifteen years, working from time to time in a safe-house for ex-offenders. The residents were from high-security institutions; women who had served sentences for arson, stabbings, suffocating and all manner of fatal attacks.


Since then, I’ve been transforming my hair-raising experiences into psychological thrillers and my latest, Perfect Bones, was released by Bloodhound Books on November 8th. It’s my eighth thriller and I’m delighted to say I’ve now sold nearly half-a-million books worldwide.

So, how has your writing been influenced by working at the safe-house?

Surprisingly, I came away from my encounters with these women feeling more sad, than disturbed. The women had grown up with stabbings, shootings and muggings; they knew no other kind of life. Most had a fragile personality-type, were easily led and got involved with criminal activity because their brothers/sister/mothers lived that life too. Often anti-establishment, they were seeking leadership, gang-culture, excitement and risk-taking. More often than not, they were simply looking for a sense of “family” and belonging.


Since working in the safe-house, I’m inclined to cast women rather than men as the culprits in my books, but they’re never ‘monsters’. While I write about killers and serial killers, they aren’t thugs or callous maniacs. There’s very little violence and gore in my books and far more about harrowing mind-games and dark, driven motives behind the radical acts involved. I’m also fascinated by the differences between law-abiding citizens and those who cross the line into serious crime. I love writing about characters' inner struggle for revenge, their tortured reasons for keeping secrets and telling lies! As a result of all this, I hope my books show a good degree of humanity.

How ‘safe’ was it?

The ‘safe-house’ wasn’t necessarily safe for everyone! During one of my visits, a woman set fire to her room and others self-harmed, as cooking knives and personal property was available as part of the rehabilitation process. Most residents were on antipsychotic medication or drugs for anxiety or depression, so mood-swings was an issue.


The location and confidentiality was very strict, as you can imagine – a place for the women to re-adjust to the idea of integrating back into society. I was there to offer a listening ear for personal problems and fears of going back ‘outside’.

Spending time in that volatile setting was tough, but it gave me lots of raw material to slip into my novels!  

Tell us about your new thriller!

In Perfect Bones, the sole witness to a gruesome attack – a teenage artist living on a narrowboat – is traumatised and can't utter a word. That’s when gutsy protagonist, psychologist Samantha Willerby, is given seven days by the police to coax information from him about the killer. When he finally makes a sketch, it's not what anyone expects – but by then another murder has been committed...


One of the techniques I used in the safe-house was art therapy and in the novel this method is used for the mute witness. The reader has to watch and wait for the artist to show what he saw.

I was deeply affected by the individuals I met in the safe-house and still wonder what happened to them and how their lives turned out. Did they re-offend and end up back inside? Did they turn their lives around? As an author, I like to pose the question ‘how would you react in this tricky situation?’ just as, when I think of those women, I wonder how I would have turned out if I’d had their dysfunctional backgrounds, violent environment and deprivation to cope with.

Perfect Bones is available at all Amazon outlets.

This interview was first published on the Crime Readers' Association website.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author

  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub

Thursday, 8 November 2018

BRAND NEW: Perfect Bones is OUT Today!


‘Oh my gosh! One of the very best psychological stories I have read. 5 stars’
Carol, Goodreads reviewer
 

 

(ebook 99p/99c on Amazon for short period)
Also from Amazon in paperback - or order from Waterstones, Barnes & Noble
 

PERFECT BONES:

The Hunt for a serial killer on the Regent's Canal


Is the killer on the loose…or standing right beside you?

When art student, Aiden Blake, witnesses a gruesome attack on a London towpath, the police need him to identify the assailant without delay. But there’s a problem: refusing to leave his canal boat and traumatised by the shock, Aiden is rendered mute by the horror of the event and can’t speak to anyone.

In a desperate bid to gain vital information before Aiden’s memories fade, The Met call in Clinical Psychologist and trauma expert, Dr Samantha Willerby, giving her only seven days to get a result. When Aiden finally starts to communicate through his art, however, the images he produces are not what anyone expects and before Sam can make sense of them, another murder takes place.

With her professional skills stretched to the limit and the clock ticking, Sam strives to track down a killer who is as clever as she is – someone who always manages to stay one step ahead.

A Samantha Willerby Mystery, Perfect Bones is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat Psychological Thriller that will leave you glancing over your shoulder. It can easily be read as a stand-alone novel and will appeal to fans of authors like Ruth Ware, Clare Mackintosh and C.L. Taylor.


What Readers are saying about Perfect Bones:

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AJ Waines is a No 1 International Bestelling Author
  •  Nearly half-a-million copies sold worldwide
  • Girl on a Train  #1 Bestseller on Kindle in UK and Australia (2015 & 2016) 
  • No Longer Safe  #1 in 'Crime Noir' [30,000 sold in the first month]
Awarded Kindle KDP Top 10 'most-read Author' in UK 2016 & 2017

Blog Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest  * Goodreads * Newsletter * Bookbub