Joanne MacGregor – Author Guest Post & Giveaway

Joanne MacGregor

Joanne MacGregor, one of South Africa’s favourite authors, meets us today to describe what her qualifications and experience as a clinical psychologist brings to her writing.

I love Joanne’s books and am always anticipating the next one. To see why I love them check out my reviews of my favourites: The Law of Tall GirlsRecoilScarred and Hushed.

Thank you, Joanne, for guest posting on Crushingcinders.


Meet Joanne MacGregor

Joanne MacGregor


Writers always bring themselves — their hopes, fears, experiences — to their stories, and I am no exception. By profession, I’m a Counselling Psychologist in private practice, dealing primarily with adult victims of crime and trauma. It’s tough work and to combat creeping burnout, I started writing fiction several years ago.

I think that being a psychologist helps me have a deeper understanding of human nature and the problems that can occur. Many of my characters (like many people in real life) have problems of, for example, anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress. And I think I write more accurately about this because I know what it looks and feels like. I think (I hope!) that my writing, guided by my learning and experience, is deeper, more nuanced, more complex and realistic when it comes to psychological issues.

Because I live in a society with high rates of inter-personal violence, I’ve heard the accounts of people who’ve experienced the real thing (or have relatives who have). I no longer have the stomach for graphic violence in books — the sort of “torture porn” that puts you in an almost complicit ride-along with the evil serial killer as he mutilates and brutalizes. I won’t write those books either. Rather, I like to explore the character’s life and psyche after the event, showing the psychological and emotional consequences that victims of trauma are left to deal with. This aspect is often neglected in genre fiction — too often characters are bereaved, tortured, assaulted and experience all kinds of dramatic agonies, but are up and running, and pretty much back to normal by the next chapter. Take it from someone who listens to pain for a living: that’s not how it works in real life.

My own training and experience as a psychologist obviously also influences how I write therapy scenes in my fiction — those, too, are regularly portrayed in very inaccurate ways in fiction.

While my characters are informed by my knowledge of personality types, psychological traumas and psychopathology in general, I’m religious about keeping the specifics of my therapeutic work and my fiction-writing completely separate. My clients’ confidences are sacrosanct – they go into a locked vault in my brain and will never appear in one of my fictional characters or stories. What happens in therapy stays in therapy! I have no difficulty keeping them separate. My parallel jobs of writer and psychologist occupy very different head-spaces in me. I do them in separate physical locations, use different parts of my brain, and even do them on different days of the week.

I do get a kick out of writing characters who are psychologists, and who are not themselves unhinged, callous, or unprofessional in any of the clichéd ways so popular in fiction and Hollywood tropes. My psychologists are ethical experts, though flawed and inevitably impacted by the weight of the pain and cruelty they hear and absorb on a daily basis. It has always bothered me that psychologists in books and movies are so often portrayed as severely dysfunctional, sexually predatory and unethical. Most of us are really nice, compassionate, responsible and (mostly) sane professionals!

Joanne Macgregor  (Author, Psychologist)


Dark Whispers

Joanne MacGregor


Joanne’s latest book is an adult thriller called Dark Whispers and is on sale on Amazon for 99c (US).  This sale ends on Sunday 29 May 2018.


Between the anaesthesia and the awakening, are the dark whispers…

When a patient in hypnosis describes an experience of mental torture and physical mutilation at the hands of a doctor, psychologist Megan Wright decides to investigate. Determined to find out the truth and stop the abuse, but bound to silence by the ethics of confidentiality, Megan will need to confront the dark mind of a dangerously disturbed man in a deadly battle of wits and wills. – abstract from


The Giveaway

Please note that the book Joanne MacGregor is giving away is an adult thriller and not suitable for young readers.

Giveaway 1 (open internationally)

Joanne MacGregor is giving away 2 ebook copies of her new book, Dark Whispers (an Adult Thriller).

Giveaway 2 (open to South African Residents only)

Joanne MacGregor is giving away 1 print copy of her new book Dark Whispers (an Adult Thriller) to a South African resident with a local postal address.

To Enter

To enter the giveaway answer the following question in the comments. Entries close Sunday 6 May 2018 at 24h00 South African time UTC+2

Joanne MacGregor

South African residents please let us know in the comments that you are #proudlySouthAfrican to be eligible to win the print copy.


The scenario in Dark Whispers is of slipping into helpless unconsciousness, knowing you’re at the mercy of a monster. That’s a scary situation! What scares you?


Adding to Your TBR – April 2018

  1. TBR April 2018

Adding to Your TBR – April 2018

TBR – To Be Read tower/list 

Just a couple of days late… I did it! Almost. With travelling for 42 hours through four countries, surprise visitors and a grand-slam crash of my laptop’s motherboard it is impressive this post got posted at all. Have a good month and happy reading!


The Forgotten Ones by Steena Holmes

Expected: 1 April 2018

The abstract promises dark, sinister secrets and the early reviewers on Goodreads describe The Forgotten Ones as compelling and heartbreaking.

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The Forgotten Ones by Steena Holmes


Elle is a survivor. She’s managed to piece together a solid life from a childhood of broken memories and fairy tales her mom told her to explain away bad dreams. But weekly visits to her mother still fill Elle with a paralyzing fear she can’t explain. It’s just another of so many unanswered questions she grew up with in a family estranged by silence and secrets.

Elle’s world turns upside down when she receives a deathbed request from her grandfather, a man she was told had died years ago. Racked by grief, regrets, and a haunted conscience, he has a tale of his own to tell Elle: about her mother, an imaginary friend, and two strangers who came to the house one night and never left.

As Elle’s past unfolds, so does the truth—if she can believe it. She must face the reasons for her inexplicable dread. As dark as they are, Elle must listen…before her grandfather’s death buries the family’s secrets forever. – Abstract from Goodreads


The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan

Expected: 3 April 2018

Every month while compiling this list there is always at least one book that stands out as a HAVE to read-ASAP. This month The Bakers Secret is The One.

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TBR April 2018


On June 5, 1944, as dawn rises over a small town on the Normandy coast of France, Emmanuelle is making the bread that has sustained her fellow villagers in the dark days since the Germans invaded her country.

Only twenty-two, Emma learned to bake at the side of a master, Ezra Kuchen, the village baker since before she was born. Apprenticed to Ezra at thirteen, Emma watched with shame and anger as her kind mentor was forced to wear the six-pointed yellow star on his clothing. She was likewise powerless to help when they pulled Ezra from his shop at gunpoint, the first of many villagers stolen away and never seen again.

In the years that her sleepy coastal village has suffered under the enemy, Emma has silently, stealthily fought back. Each day, she receives an extra ration of flour to bake a dozen baguettes for the occupying troops. And each day, she mixes that precious flour with ground straw to create enough dough for two extra loaves—contraband bread she shares with the hungry villagers. Under the cold, watchful eyes of armed soldiers, she builds a clandestine network of barter and trade that she and the villagers use to thwart their occupiers.

But her gift to the village is more than these few crusty loaves. Emma gives the people a taste of hope—the faith that one day the Allies will arrive to save them. – Abstract from Goodreads


Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

Expected: 3 April 2018

This book has been on and off this list since I started compiling it three weeks ago. I am really not sure about it. Early reviewers have lavished high praise and something about it makes me think of Big Little Lies, so hoping it is as good as promised.

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TBR April 2018


The author of The Garden of Small Beginnings returns with a hilarious and poignant new novel about four families, their neighborhood carpool, and the affair that changes everything.

As the longtime local carpool mom, Frances Bloom is sometimes an unwilling witness to her neighbors’ private lives. She knows her cousin is hiding her desire for another baby from her spouse, Bill Horton’s wife is mysteriously missing, and now this… 

After the shock of seeing Anne Porter in all her extramarital glory, Frances vows to stay in her own lane. But that’s a notion easier said than done when Anne’s husband throws her out a couple of days later. The repercussions of the affair reverberate through the four carpool families–and Frances finds herself navigating a moral minefield that could make or break a marriage.Abstract from Goodreads


Queens of Fennbirn by Kendare Blake

Expected: 3 April 2018

Prequel to the brilliant Three Dark Crowns, these two-in-one novellas explore Fennbirn’s secrets and promises insight into the queens and their complicated journey to the beginning of the story.

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TBR April 2018


Uncover the sisters’ origins, dive deep into the catastrophic reign of the Oracle Queen, and reveal layers of Fennbirn’s past, hidden until now.

The Young Queens: Get a glimpse of triplet queens Mirabella, Arsinoe, and Katharine during a short period of time when they protected and loved one another. From birth until their claiming ceremonies, this is the story of the three sisters’ lives…before they were at stake.

The Oracle Queen: Everyone knows the legend of Elsabet, the Oracle Queen. The one who went mad. The one who orchestrated a senseless, horrific slaying of three entire houses. But what really happened? Discover the true story behind the queen who could foresee the future…just not her own downfall. – Abstract from Goodreads


Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

Expected: 3 April 2018

With exceptional early reviews on Goodreads this book stands out and begs to be read.

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TBR April 2018


The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhood, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.  – Abstract from Goodreads


Relative Strangers by Paula Garner

Expected: 10 April 2018

Families, secrets, twists… lots of drama. Looking forward to discovering the answers.

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TBR April 2018


Why is there a gap in Jules’s baby album? A wry and poignant coming-of-age novel about finding the truth in lies, salvaging hope in heartbreak, and making peace with missing pieces.

Eighteen-year-old Jules has always wished for a close-knit family. She never knew her father, and her ex-addict mother has always seemed more interested in artistic endeavors than in bonding with her only daughter. Jules’s life and future look as flat and unchanging as her small Illinois town. Then a simple quest to find a baby picture for the senior yearbook leads to an earth-shattering discovery: for most of the first two years of her life, Jules lived in foster care. Reeling from feelings of betrayal and with only the flimsiest of clues, Jules sets out to learn the truth about her past. What she finds is a wonderful family who loved her as their own and hoped to adopt her — including a now-adult foster brother who is overjoyed to see his sister again. But as her feelings for him spiral into a devastating, catastrophic crush — and the divide between Jules and her mother widens — Jules finds herself on the brink of losing everything. – Abstract from Goodreads


Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert

Expected: 10 April 2018

Huge praise from the early reviewers must mean something! Plus, just look at the cover. Stunning!

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TBR April 2018


Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined.

Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.

When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him. – Abstract from Goodreads


Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst

Expected: 10 April 2018

Very promising! I can’t wait to listen to this one on Audible.

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TBR April 2018


Karen, Eleanor, and Bea have been best friends since childhood. They know everything about each other’s lives, or at least they think they do. Now in their thirties, though their lives are beginning to diverge: Eleanor is a young wife and mother who is struggling to cope with her many responsibilities; Bea is happy being single—or so she lets people think; and Karen is a psychiatrist who, despite the secrets in her past, considers herself the anchor of the group.

But when she takes on a new patient with issues she just can’t quite put her finger on, she begins to realize she may have put her dearest friends in danger. Because her patient knows more about these three women than anyone outside their circle possible could. Or should…-  Abstract from Goodreads


The Garden of Blue Roses by Michael Barsa

Expected: 17 April 2018

This one appeals in a slightly weird Gothic way. A very bland cover and a title that reminds me of the dusty forgotten books in the corner of my parents bookcase. But something about the abstract caught my attention. Have your read it?

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TBR April 2018


A car lies at the bottom of an icy ravine. Slumped over the steering wheel, dead, is the most critically acclaimed horror writer of his time. Was it an accident? His son Milo doesn’t care. For the first time in his life, he’s free. No more nightmarish readings, spooky animal rites, or moonlit visions of his father in the woods with a notebook and vampire make-up.

Or so he thinks.

Milo settles into a quiet routine—constructing model Greek warships and at last building a relationship with his sister Klara, who’s home after a failed marriage and brief career as an English teacher. Then Klara hires a gardener to breathe new life into their overgrown estate. There’s something odd about him—something eerily reminiscent of their father’s most violent villain. Or is Milo imagining things? He’s not sure. That all changes the day the gardener discovers something startling in the woods. Suddenly Milo is fighting for his life, forced to confront the power of fictional identity as he uncovers the shocking truth about his own dysfunctional family—and the supposed accident that claimed his parents’ lives. – Abstract from Goodreads


The Girl I Used to Be by Mary Torjussen

Expected: 24 April 2018

Another psychological thriller to add to my definitely, maybe list.

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TBR April 2018


The morning after real estate agent Gemma Brogan has dinner with a prospective client, she’s furious at herself for drinking so much. But there will be more to regret than a nasty hangover.

She starts receiving mementos from that night: A photo of a hallway kiss. A video of her complaining about her husband. And worse…much worse. The problem is she doesn’t remember any of it.

As the blackmailing and menace ramp up, Gemma fears for her already shaky marriage. The paranoia, the feeling that her life is spiraling out of control, will take her back to another night–years ago–that changed everything. And Gemma will realize just how far the shadows from her past can reach… – Abstract from Goodreads


Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Expected: 24 April 2018

A YA Fantasy from debut author is always exciting. I found the book trailer and was instantly skeptical – it could easily have been a scene straight out of Twilight. What do you think?

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TBR April 2018


Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.  – Abstract from Goodreads


Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Expected: 24 April 2018

A companion to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (recently adapted to movie as Love, Simon) this full length novel follows Leah, Simon’s best friend. I loved Simon vs HSA and am expecting great things from Leah on the Offbeat.

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TBR April 2018


Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended. – Abstract from Goodreads

Adding to Your TBR – March 2018

TBR March 2018Adding to Your TBR – March 2018

TBR – To Be Read tower/list 


What’s on your TBR March 2018? Another month, another list. I’m going to need insomnia or immortality… anyone with a potion?


By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell

Expected: 6 March 2018

I am hoping that this book is more like The Night Circus which I loved and less like Carnival which I didn’t.

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TBR March 2018


Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other travelling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for. 

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss. – Abstract from Goodreads




More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

I loved Letters to the Lost so this is a must-read.

Expected: 6 March 2018

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TBR March 2018


Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling. – Abstract from Goodreads



The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

Expected: 6 March 2018

An exceptionally topical subject and great early reviews suggest this thoughtful book is going to be brilliant.

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TBR March 2018


In his final days, beloved and ailing patriarch Miguel Angel De La Cruz, known affectionately as Big Angel, has summoned his entire clan for one last legendary birthday party. But as the party approaches, his mother, nearly one hundred, dies herself, leading to a farewell doubleheader. 

Across one bittersweet weekend in their San Diego neighborhood, the revelers mingle among the palm trees and cacti, celebrating the lives of Big Angel and his mother, and recounting the many tales that have passed into family lore, the acts both ordinary and heroic that brought them to a fraught and sublime country and allowed them to flourish in the land they have come to call home. The story of the De La Cruzes is the American story. This indelible portrait of a complex family reminds us of what it means to be the first generation and to live two lives across one border. Teeming with brilliance and humor, authentic at every turn, The House of Broken Angels is Luis Alberto Urrea at his best, and it cements his reputation as a storyteller of the first rank. – Abstract from Goodreads



Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Expected: 13 March 2018

Another thriller with the victim in a coma… I featured two in my Jan18 TBR post. After the disaster of If I Die Before I Wake, I am slightly reluctant. But… Sometimes I Lie has had fantastic early reviews on Goodreads.

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TBR March 2018


My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me: 
1. I’m in a coma. 
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore. 
3. Sometimes I lie. 

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth? – Abstract from Goodreads




The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

Expected: 13 March 2018

Mixed reviews on Goodreads, but there’s something intriguing about the book. Holding thumbs its a good read.

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TBR March 2018


Cassandra Bowden is no stranger to hungover mornings. She’s a binge drinker, her job with the airline making it easy to find adventure, and the occasional blackouts seem to be inevitable. She lives with them, and the accompanying self-loathing.

When she awakes in a Dubai hotel room, she tries to piece the previous night back together, already counting the minutes until she has to catch her crew shuttle to the airport. She quietly slides out of bed, careful not to aggravate her already pounding head, and looks at the man she spent the night with. She sees his dark hair. His utter stillness. And blood, a slick, still wet pool on the crisp white sheets. Afraid to call the police–she’s a single woman alone in a hotel room far from home–Cassie begins to lie. She lies as she joins the other flight attendants and pilots in the van. She lies on the way to Paris as she works the first class cabin. She lies to the FBI agents in New York who meet her at the gate. Soon it’s too late to come clean-or face the truth about what really happened back in Dubai.

Could she have killed him? If not, who did? – Abstract from Goodreads



The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

What a beautiful title. I would have read this book just based on that, but it sounds very good and has excellent early reviews on Goodreads.

Expected: 20 March 2018

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TBR March 2018


Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love. – Abstract from Goodreads



Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Expected: 20 March 2018

A difficult subject with a vital message outstanding early reviews suggest a book not to be missed!

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TBR March 2018


When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid.

The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean. – Abstract from Goodreads





The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti

Expected: 20 March 2018

Despite a terribly drab cover, this sounds like an intense read.

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TBR March 2018


Pietro is a lonely boy living in Milan. With his parents becoming more distant each day, the only thing the family shares is their love for the Dolomites, the mountains that hug the northeastern border of Italy.

While on vacation at the foot of the mountains, Pietro meets Bruno, an adventurous, spirited local boy. Together they spend many summers exploring the mountain’s meadows and peaks and discover the similarities and differences in their lives, their backgrounds, and their futures. The two boys come to find the true meaning of friendship and camaraderie, even as their divergent paths in life— Bruno’s in the mountains, Pietro’s in cosmopolitan cities across the world—test the strength and meaning of their connection– Abstract from Goodreads





The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Expected: 20 March 2018

A dark, Gothic, historical fiction thriller to knock your socks off!

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TBR March 2018


Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . . – Abstract from Goodreads



Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Expected: 27 March 2018

I love Ally Carter’s books which are always packed with adventure, fun, mystery and friends with the addition of espionage or action-packed heists.

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TBR March 2018


Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. No phone. No Internet. And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it’s okay. After all, she’s the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full. Until Logan shows up six years later . . . And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly. Maddie still really wants to kill Logan. But she has to save him first. – Abstract from Goodreads



Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

Expected: 27 March 2017

This book reminds me of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, an author who I have grown to love for her ability to bring characters alive and gives voice to their insecurities.

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TBR March 2018


When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.

By Monday morning, one of them is gone.

Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.

As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else. – Abstract from Goodreads



Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Expected: 27 March 2018

This book has exactly the type of messed-up, gritty, vulnerable characters that I adore.

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TBR March 2018


For Penny Lee high school was a total non-event. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other. – Abstract from Goodreads

Flash Reviews Vol 1 – The Romantic One

Romantic One

The Romantic One

Flash reviews will I hope be a regular feature at Crushingcinders and in time for Valentine’s Day here is Vol 1 – The Romantic One.

Writing book reviews is actually a lot harder than I anticipated when I started blogging. Writing isn’t my strong point and neither is sharing my opinion publicly. Then the tentacles of depression, which tend to sneak up on me without warning, snuff out any form of creativity resulting in irregular posting.

These flash snippets of my book thoughts are short, sharp-ish and to the point. They are not published as stand-alone reviews on my blog but usually shared on Goodreads, Social Media and online book outlets.

Any ARC (advanced review copy) reviews were shared with the publisher.


A Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen

A heartwarming story with complex, layered and very realistic characters and a rich storyline.
I really liked the way the author handled time, fast forwarding at just the right places throughout the book so the story spans several years and the reader is kept on their to

es.4 star tiny flash reviews

Published: 9 January 2018    Read: 17 December 2017

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Romantic One


The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . . something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too.

Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful – Abstract from Goodreads


Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Published: 7 March 2017   Read: 13 December 2016

This is a fast-paced, emotional read stuffed full of angst, longing, regret, nostalgia, all packed into the last seven days of Sophia’s expat life in Japan. Full of feels and a slither of insight into Tokyo through expat eyes. 4 star tiny flash reviews

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Romantic One


Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say goodbye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye? – Abstract from Goodreads



Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

A feel-good story sprinkled with humour. This was just what I needed to get me out of a reading slump. I have liked all of Sarah Dessen’s books but this is my favourite. Complex, fun characters, an unusual setting, interlinking relationships and wit = a great book! 5 star tint flash

Published: 6 June 2017   Read: 20 May 2017

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Romantic One


Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants. 

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself. – Abstract from Goodreads



The Trouble with Flirting by Rochelle Morgan

A lighthearted, feel-good romance. Perfect for the Summer holidays. 4 star tiny flash reviews

Although part of The Trouble Series each book is a stand-alone.

Published: 1 October 2014   Read: 17 September 2014

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Romantic One


Labelled a nerd for most of high school, Livi sees her first year of university as a chance to redefine herself. She can finally enter the popular crowd and maybe even land herself a super hot boyfriend. But Livi’s about to discover that the price of popularity may be more than she’s willing to pay, and that what—and who—she wants most has always been right in front of her. – Abstract from Goodreads






By Your Side by Kasie West

As always Kasie West has delivered a sweet, heartfelt YA contemporary romance. Although I do think the characters didn’t appreciate their weekend venue as much as I would have!

Published: 31 January 2017  Read: 9 May 2017

Goodr4 star tiny flash reviewseads    Amazon(UK)  Book Depository 

Romantic One When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.  – Abstract from Goodreads  – Abstract from Goodreads


The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

French Girl

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott


“Kate, do you remember that summer?”

I loved The French Girl. Bulging with tension and suspense, I couldn’t put it down and spent the hours away from the book barely functioning as mind swirled around with the possibilities – who did it?

A cold fear is twisting my insides…

The characters individual traits and the relevant events of the past are revealed gradually. An unreliable narrator whose memories are vague, insecurities corrosive and emotions in turmoil. Put together these burn into palpable tension.

Looking back the most striking thing about her is that she knew I didn’t like her and she didn’t care.

Although other reviews describe it as slow, and its not a fast-paced, gripping the edge of the seat thriller, I was captivated throughout.

… his face is starkly bleak; one could photograph him and name it A Study in Grief.

The French Girl is my first 5-star read of 2018 and just what I needed to catapult me out of a six-week reading slump.

We’re now in a macabre version of pass the parcel; when the music stops nobody wants to be holding this prize.

5 star


Title: The French GirlFrench Girl

Author: Lexie Elliott

Publication Date: 20 February 2018

Publisher: Berkley Books 

Source: Review copy


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They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway–until they met Severine, the girl next door. 

For Kate Channing, Severine was an unwelcome presence, her inscrutable beauty undermining the close-knit group’s loyalties amid the already simmering tensions. And after a huge altercation on the last night of the holiday, Kate knew nothing would ever be the same. There are some things you can’t forgive, and there are some people you can’t forget, like Severine, who was never seen again. 

Now, a decade later, the case is reopened when Severine’s body is found in the well behind the farmhouse. Questioned along with her friends, Kate stands to lose everything she’s worked so hard to achieve as suspicion mounts around her. Desperate to resolve her own shifting memories and fearful she will be forever bound to the woman whose presence still haunts her, Kate finds herself buried under layers of deception with no one to set her free. – Abstract from Goodreads

The fact that I received a complimentary advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Disclaimer: The quotes appear in my review copy and may not appear in the final version.

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