#BlogTour | #BookReview: You Die Next by Stephanie Marland @TrapezeBooks #YouDieNext #damppebbles

you die next.jpg“A group of urban explorers stumble into a murderer’s kill room in a derelict film studio. Terrified, they run, thinking they are safe. Then a message appears on their video channel: Who dies next?

As DI Dominic Bell and his team investigate the series of murders in hidden locations across London, they fail to find the connection between the victims. The only person who can help is Clementine Starke, an academic researching adult thrillseekers. However, Clementine is haunted by dark and violent obsessions, including her former relationship with DI Dominic Bell.

As the body count rises, Clementine Starke and DI Dominic Bell form an uneasy alliance to hunt the killer. But as they close in on their prey, and things turn personal, Clementine has to decide which side of the law she’s really on.

A cat-and-mouse thriller for fans of Mark Billingham, Sarah Hilary and Rachel Abbott that unfolds in a number of terrifying hidden locations across London. Readers who enjoyed Thomas Harris’s Hannibal series will be thrilled by the deadly relationship between DI Dominic Bell and Clementine Starke.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the You Die Next blog tour.  You Die Next is the second book in the Starke and Bell series written by a favourite author of mine, Stephanie Marland (also known as Steph Broadribb). You Die Next was published by Trapeze Books earlier this month in eBook, audiobook and paperback formats.  I received an eARC copy of You Die Next which has in no way influenced this review.

I am a huge fan of this author’s writing no matter what guise it takes.  Be it home-grown amateur sleuth, Clementine Starke, and her favourite obsession, DI Dominic Bell.  Or whether it’s a trip stateside with kick-ass bounty hunter, Lori Anderson.  Stephanie Marland knows how to tell a story and I, for one, enjoy reading them.  Here’s my review of the first book in the Starke and Bell series, My Little Eye, to prove it.  When I discovered that book two in the Starke and Bell series was imminent, I knew I had to get a copy.

And I’m so very glad I did.  I have to be honest, I think I preferred the second outing of this intriguing duo a touch more than the first.  Both Dominic Bell and Clementine Starke are fascinating characters and I cannot wait to see where Marland takes them.  From book one to book two they’ve taken a step (or rather Clementine has!) towards the dark side and I love that!  That’s what I want from a series of crime novels – something a little different, something that’s going to make me sit up and take note.  There’s so much potential here, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

The plot focuses on a group of urban explorers who one day stumble upon a grisly murder scene.  Being in the act of breaking the law themselves they fail to notify the police but the guilt eats away at some of them.  Then subtle yet threatening messages start appearing on their video feeds.  The plot was interesting and kept me gripped throughout. I loved the set-up of the murders and the way individuals within the group were picked off one by one.  The reveal of whodunit was a complete surprise and I spent a lot of my time whilst reading coming up with motives and suspects.  I was wrong…a lot!

Would I recommend this book? I would, definitely.  However, I’ve read both books in this series and I’m not sure if You Die Next works as a standalone.  By going straight to book two you will miss a lot of background information about Clementine and Dominic so I would recommend you start with My Little Eye first and then move onto You Die Next.  Stephanie Marland is a must read author for me and this is a must read series.  I can’t wait for book three to be published.

You Die Next by Stephanie Marland was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 4th April 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesGoodreads |

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stephanie marlandStephanie Marland has worked in the University sector for over ten years and published research on how people interact and learn together in virtual environments online. She’s an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and an avid reader of all things crime fiction, blogging about books at http://www.crimethrillergirl.com. Steph also writes the Lori Anderson action thriller series (as Steph Broadribb) for Orenda Books.

Author Links: | Crime Thriller Girl | Facebook | Twitter |

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski @borstinski @cobaltdinosaur #GuestReview #MamasGone #TheLagottiFamily

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“When children grow up, the parents must die

California gang leader Mary Lou has built a criminal empire while her adult children are desperate for their mother’s attention and love.

As her mental faculties wane, Alice and Frank Jr must acknowledge their mother is not the woman she once was and that they need to step up and take the helm, despite the stark differences between them.

But their sibling rivalry blinds both of them to their weaknesses which threatens the family when the Russian mob moves into the state. How can they fend off those attacks while fighting to decide who will lead the family now their dear Mama’s gone?”

Hello my bookish friends. I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today to my guest reviewer’s stop on the Mama’s Gone blog tour. Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi is the fourth book in The Lagotti Family series and was published earlier this week on 18th March 2019. I’ll hand straight over to my guest reviewer, Ryan (or ‘the husband!’).

Starting a post on damppebbles is always tricky. It’s a great blog [Emma: You have to say that!] and I always worry whether my review is going to get it a bad reputation? But after reading Mama’s Gone, a mob crime thriller, I’m not so worried! I’m considering up and leaving damppebbles, setting up my own blog, making some money out of the marks and building my own blogging mob empire.

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski is effectively the fourth book in the Lagotti Family series. However, having read it, I would not have known this. It reads well as a standalone with plenty of back story and character history. The book moves at a rapid pace, starting with a shooting before bringing out what has gone before. The four main characters are each clearly cast; hard working Alice, lazy Mama’s boy Frank, reliable Bobby and of course Mama. Mama runs a traditional mob; drugs, prostitution and gambling but with two children growing up as rivals to be the successor and Russian mobs moving in, what will happen? Will the traditional mob be victorious as it has been so many times in the past or is a new dawn coming?

I must admit by the end of the book I didn’t really like any of the characters. Normally I like a good anti-hero but the author does a great job of showing the multiple flaws of each character. Too much loyalty in one, a ruthless streak for succeeding in another and what some would call a pathological streak in yet another. The book cleverly draws the story forward quickly with each small battle a character faces adding to the story. As we near the crescendo the characters not only have to fight with the outside world but also inside the family as Mama slowly loses her grip on the helm of the family organisation.

I have to say I liked the story. It read well as a standalone and bought some distinct characters into being. The author wasn’t afraid to let his characters live and die by their bloodthirsty, ruthless decisions. Decisions of a mob character rather than your typical reader and watching this happen from the other side of a kindle screen worked well! If crime is a genre you enjoy this will be an easy read for you and I recommend it to all.

However, as I reach the end of this review I can confirm I enjoyed the book but I’m not brave enough to be a mob boss, so I will just thank everyone for reading and quietly creep out before anyone notices!

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi was publsihed in the UK on Monday 18th March 2019 and is available in eBook format: | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson @FaberBooks #BeforeSheKnewHim

before she knew him.jpg‘They had a secret, the two of them, and there was no better way to start a friendship than with a secret.’

When Hen and Lloyd move into their new house in West Dartford, Mass., they’re relieved to meet, at their first block party, the only other seemingly-childless couple in their neighborhood, Matthew and Mira Dolamore. Turns out they live in the Dutch Colonial immediately next door.

When they’re invited over for dinner, however, things take a sinister turn when Hen thinks she sees something suspicious in Matthew’s study. Could this charming, mild-mannered College Professor really be hiding a dark secret, one that only Hen, whose been battling her own problems with depression and medication, could know about? Lloyd certainly doesn’t seem to believe her, and so, forced together, Hen and Matthew start to form an unlikely bond. But who, if anyone, is really in danger?

From its deeply unsettling opening, Peter Swanson, the master of contemporary domestic thrillers, fashions a novel as brilliant, dark, coruscating and surprising as Patricia Highsmith and Ira Levin at their very best.

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to the first stop on the Before She Knew Him blog tour.  Before She Knew Him is the latest release from a favourite author of mine, Peter Swanson, and was published by Faber Books on 7th March 2019.  I received a free ARC of this book which has in no way influenced my review.

Peter Swanson is a must read author for me.  If you haven’t read The Kind Worth Killing then you’re really missing out.  It’s one of the books I recommend ALL the time when asked.  Swanson’s other books are equally as good.  Check out my reviews for Her Every Fear and All The Beautiful Lies by clicking the links.  When I heard Faber & Faber were about to publish Before She Knew Him I dropped everything else I had scheduled to read it!

Before She Knew Him is another example of what a master Swanson is at writing characters.  The book is all about Henrietta (or Hen to absolutely everyone) and her new neighbour, Matthew.  Both characters have ‘something’ about them which immediately intrigued me.  I wanted to know what was going to happen, what their story was going to be.  Being new to the neighbourhood Hen and her husband Lloyd attend a block party where it is plainly obvious that they are unlike their new neighbours.  They don’t have children whereas everyone else does.  There is one other childless couple present at the party though; Matthew and Mina.  Mina invites Hen and Lloyd to dinner one evening and feeling obliged, they go.  Whilst on a tour of the Dolamore’s house Hen sees something which takes her breath away.  She knows Matthew’s deep dark secret…

Before She Knew Him is a wonderful slow burn of a novel which held my attention from beginning to end.  I felt invested in the characters.  I liked Hen’s obsession with the morbid and macabre, how events in her past made her the perfect unreliable narrator.  I liked how polished Matthew’s character was and his ability to justify his secret dark side.  I also thoroughly enjoyed how convinced I was by the story.  There is one particular twist in the story which made me gasp out loud.  Before She Knew Him was a very satisfying read.

Would I recommend this book?  I would if you’re after a psychological thriller that is chock full of suspense with really interesting characters.  You won’t necessarily like them but oh boy, you’ll want to see their story through to the end.  An intriguing page-turner of a plot where the characters are everything.  Another blinder from a brilliant author and I can’t wait to see what Swanson has for us readers next.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Before She Knew Him.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 7th March 2019 and is available in hardcover, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

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Peter_Swanson_2016-01Peter Swanson is the author of five novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year;  All the Beautiful Lies and Before She Knew Him. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science FictionThe Atlantic MonthlyMeasureThe GuardianThe Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: Purged by Peter Laws @AllisonandBusby #Purged

purged“Matt Hunter lost his faith a long time ago. Formerly a minister, he’s now a professor of sociology writing a book that debunks the Christian faith while assisting the police with religiously motivated crimes.

On holiday in an idyllic part of Oxfordshire where wooden crosses hang at every turn, Matt’s stay becomes sinister when a local girl goes missing, followed by further disappearances. Caught up in an investigation that brings disturbing memories to the surface, Matt is on the trail of a killer who is determined to save us all.”

There are several people in the book world whose opinions I completely trust.  If they say ‘read this book’ then that is exactly what I will do.  The fabulous Liz of Liz Loves Books recommended this one to me so I treated myself and purchased a copy.  Purged is the first book in the Matt Hunter series written by Peter Laws and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Matt Hunter is a very interesting character.  He trained as a minister, initially choosing to dedicate his life to God and his beliefs.  Only for those beliefs to vanish.  Now a professor of sociology and slogging his guts out on a book which won’t write itself, he heads with his family to a quaint Oxfordshire village for a break.  The destination isn’t chosen at random though and whilst there Matt’s wife, Wren (an architect), is to come up with plans to renovate the Hobbs Hill church.  What the couple don’t realise initially is exactly how important the church is to the Hobbs Hill locals.  Arriving at their picturesque cottage they notice a number of wooden crosses dotted about the place.  The biggest surprise is yet to come though in the form of local Pastor, Chris Kelly.  A face Matt recognises all too well.  When local women start to disappear Matt unwittingly becomes involved in the investigation.  Will he be able to work out what’s happening to the women before the killer strikes too close to home…?

This is a wonderful slow-burn of a novel that I kept wanting to return to.  It opens with a terrifying scene that sets the tone for the book from start to finish.  The reader discovers that Matt has experienced horrors in his own past and these are skillfully drip-fed to the reader as the book progresses, making sure you keep turning those pages.  As much as I loved Matt I felt the total opposite about Pastor Chris, who came across as self-absorbed, frustratingly ignorant and quite creepy.  The other thing I absolutely loved was the small, isolated (slightly creepy) community feel of the setting.  The fact that the fictional village is set in Oxfordshire just added to the enjoyment for me.

Would I recommend this book? I would and I will be making a point of downloading the second and third books in the series as well.  I need me more Matt!  The author’s love of the horror genre shines through and although I would label Purged as a crime thriller it does have a nod or two to the horror genre as well.  You can’t go wrong with a horror-esque crime thriller in my book!  As debuts go, it’s a cracker of a book.  A well-written, creepy page-turner that I heartily recommend.  Thanks Liz for putting Purged on my radar!

Purged by Peter Laws was published in the UK by Allison & Busby on 16th February 2017 and is available in paperback, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

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peter laws.jpgPeter Laws is an author, journalist, film critic and YouTube horror host. He’s also a church minister with a taste for the macabre. He’s the creator of the acclaimed Matt Hunter series of horror tinged crime thrillers. Hunter is an ex-vicar turned atheist academic, who helps the police solve religiously motivated crimes. The first in the series, ‘Purged’, had Matt on the trail of a Christian serial killer, who fast tracks his victims to heaven by baptising them, then killing straight after. The sequel, ‘Unleashed’, pulls Matt into a world of poltergeists and the supernatural, though he insists a flesh and blood killer is at work. Unleashed won ‘Thriller of the Year’ in the Fully Booked awards for 2017. In the third Matt Hunter novel, ‘Severed’, Matt has to contend with a bizarre pseudo Christian cult.

He’s also the author of the acclaimed non-fiction book The Frighteners: Why We Love Monsters Ghosts Death and Gore. It’s available from Icon Books in the UK and Skyhorse in the US.

He writes a monthly column in the print magazine The Fortean Times and hosts the popular podcast and YouTube show The Flicks That Church Forgot which reviews scary films from a theological perspective. He also does quirky cover versions of obscure horror songs on there, so why not drop by. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgZZklJNcUEZplFDboNho6g

Author Links:FacebookTwitterInstagram |

#BookReview: Watching Edie by Camilla Way @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #WatchingEdie

watching edie.jpg“THERE ARE SOME FRIENDS YOU’LL NEVER FORGET…
NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY

BEFORE
Edie is the friend that Heather has always craved. But one night, it goes terrifyingly wrong. And what started as an innocent friendship ends in two lives being destroyed.

AFTER
Sixteen years later, Edie is still rebuilding her life. But Heather isn’t ready to let her forget so easily. It’s no coincidence that she shows up when Edie needs her most.

NOW
Edie or Heather?
Heather or Edie?

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

I remember when this book was first published and how much love there was for it.  It was one of those books where everyone was talking about it.  I was even asked by a few blogger friends if I had read it.  The answer of course was I hadn’t but oh boy, did I want to!  I received a free copy of Watching Edie from the publisher which has in no way influenced my review.

Watching Edie is a tale of friendship and obsession which I found totally riveting.  Edie was one of the popular girls at school; beautiful, rebellious and everything Heather wanted to be.  So imagine Heather’s surprise when Edie starts talking to her.  After all, Heather doesn’t consider herself to be special in any way.  The girls strike up a friendship which is probably a little more one-sided than it should be.  But something terrible happens and the girls part ways under a dark cloud.  Several years later Edie is still trying to quieten the demons from her past so when someone knocks on her door the last person she expects it to be is Heather.  Heather seems to have not changed, does not mention their past and is keen to revive their childhood friendship.  But Edie is wary.  Something just doesn’t feel right and she would prefer to avoid Heather, and memories of their past, at all costs…

This is a great story and I enjoyed reading Watching Edie.  I found myself taking sides (which probably makes me a terrible person) and I wanted Heather to just leave Edie alone and just let her get on with her life.  The reader doesn’t discover until near the end of the book what catastrophic thing happened to the characters and the cause of Edie’s shock at seeing Heather again.  The build-up to the reveal is done so very well with a palpable sense of unease from the start of the book to the end.  My mind was creating all kinds of scenarios and I frequently asked myself what could have happened to these two characters.  By the end, I was absolutely kicking myself.

The story is told in ‘Before’ and ‘After’ chapters.  It was interesting how we only hear from Heather in the ‘Before’ and Edie in the ‘After’ chapters giving the reader a great insight into both of these characters lives, thoughts and feelings.  Heather’s obsession with Edie made my skin crawl at times but I guess many of us can relate to that.  Wanting the popular girls in school to be our friends, to be accepted (or maybe that’s just me!).  Despite not liking Heather I really did sympathise with her after I had met her mother.  What a horrible woman!

Would I recommend this book?  I would, particularly if you like a character-driven psychological thriller.  There are characters to love and hate in this novel.  The ending was shocking and I’m glad the author took the story in the direction she did.  It’s a compelling read and I will make a point of reading more from Camilla Way in the future.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Watching Edie.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Watching Edie by Camilla Way was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 6th April 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

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camilla way.jpgCamilla Way was born in Greenwich, south-east London, and studied Modern English and French Literature at the University of Glamorgan. Her father was the poet and author Peter Way. Formerly Associate Editor of the teenage girls’ magazine Bliss, she is currently an editor and writer on the men’s style magazine Arena. Having lived in Cardiff, Bristol, Bath and Clerkenwell, she now lives in south-east London.

Author Links: Twitter|

#BookReview | Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella @TitanBooks #Halloween

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“The official novelization of the highly anticipated revamp of the classic horror film Halloween.

In 1978, Laurie Strode survived an encounter with Michael Myers, a masked figure who killed her friends and terrorized the town of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night. Myers was later gunned down, apprehended and committed to Smith’s Grove State Hospital.

For forty years, memories of that nightmarish ordeal have haunted Laurie and now Myers is back once again on Halloween, having escaped a routine transfer, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. This time, Laurie is prepared with years of survival training to protect herself, her daughter Karen and her granddaughter Allyson, a teenager separated from her family and enjoying Halloween festivities.”

Woohooo! I love a horror novel. Particularly when I’m in a bit of a reading slump which I have been of late. The folk at Titan Books contacted me about reading a copy of Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella and I jumped at the chance. This is the movie novelisation of the most recent Halloween film released last year and it was a joy to read (a scary nail-biting, nerve-shredding joy!)! I received a free copy of this book but that has in no way influenced my review.

So I have a confession to make. This is bound to lose me a few followers but hey, honesty is the best policy….right? I have never seen any of the Halloween films. I’m going to take this a step further now and make matters even worse. I don’t actually watch horror films because I’m a wimp. I get my horror kicks from the brilliant horror novels I read. Shall I get my coat? 😂 What I do know however is that the Halloween franchise is incredibly popular and Michael Myers is as scary AF! I also have a bit of a thing for ‘final girls’ and Laurie Strode is the ultimate final girl. Am I right? And that’s what I loved about this book, the focus on Laurie and the long-term effects of that terrifying first meeting with Myers back in 1978.

Forty years have passed since that fateful first meeting and Laurie Strode is now a grandmother. Not your average, warm and squishy, ‘run-of-the-mill’ grandmother though. She has lived her life preparing for the day Myers will return. Her family think she’s crazy as the knife-wielding maniac who attacked her all those years ago is safely locked away in a high-security establishment. But Laurie knows it’s not over…

It was fascinating to read about Laurie’s life (or rather, the lack of it). How she has built her own high-security fortress, in particular how affected her daughter Karen was by her strange upbringing and how, as a result, Karen is determined to raise her own daughter, Allyson, differently. But Laurie knows not to let her guard down. It’s only a matter of time before Myers strikes again and this time she has a family to protect as well.

Halloween is full-on, incredibly tense and there is always something happening. I loved how the author was able to to make me feel on edge and nervous about what Myers was up to even when he didn’t feature in the scene. I had a constant sense of impending doom, just waiting for something bad (really BAD!) to happen and I loved it!

Would I recommend this book? I would! It’s gory and gruesome but that should come as no surprise. I have read other horror movie novelisations (without seeing the movie, obviously!) and this is one of my favourites. I was on edge throughout and was disappointed that the book had to end. Terrifying, intense and oh so good.

I chose to read and review a copy of Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella was published in the UK by Titan Books on 23rd October 2018 and is available in paperback, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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I am a married father of three, and reside in Logan Township, New Jersey. Currently, I write full-time (that is, when I’m not working on business, my website design and author promotion business, AuthorPromo.com). While I enjoy writing in the genres of dark fantasy, supernatural thrillers, horror, science fiction, fantasy and mystery, I have been concentrating on horror and supernatural stories in recent years.

The co-authored Wither was my first published novel. Columbia Pictures purchased the film rights to Wither in a preemptive, pre-publication bid. Wither won the Bram Stoker Award in 2000 for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. I followed Wither with the media tie-ins Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ghoul Trouble (2000) and Angel: Avatar (2001).

Next came my stand-alone sequel to Wither, Wither’s Rain (2003). In 2004, I had two novels published, Angel: Monolith and Wither’s Legacy and two standalone novels, Kindred Spirit (2006) and Shimmer(2009), available from Amazon.com and the Passarella Author Store.

I’ve written three original Supernatural (CW) tie-in novels for Titan Books, Night Terror (2011), Rite of Passage (2012), and—my most recent novelSupernatural: Cold Fire (2016), which was preceded by a Grimm tie-in: Grimm: The Chopping Block (2014), based on the hit NBC TV series.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

Author Image and Bio Copyright © John Passarella

#BookReview: Perfect Bones by A.J. Waines #PerfectBones #SamanthaWillerby

perfect bones.jpg“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.”

I am a huge fan of A.J. Waines’ writing and her Dr Samantha Willerby series is one I return to again and again.  When I heard book three, Perfect Bones, was on it’s way to us readers I knew I had to read it.  I received a free eARC copy of this book from the publisher which has in no way influenced my review.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Waines’ Samantha Willerby series then you need to change that and soon.  Perfect Bones is the third book in the series and you can read my reviews of book one, Inside the Whispers, and book two, Lost in the Lake, by clicking the links.  I couldn’t wait to be reacquainted with Clinical Psychologist, Samantha, and her sister, Miranda.

Samantha and Miranda are due to leave for the airport for a much-needed holiday and some much-needed sisterly bonding when Samantha is contacted by the Met to help on an unusual case.  A young woman cycling along a towpath has been very nearly decapitated and is fighting for her life.  There was one witness to the attack, a young artist named Aiden Blake.  Aiden is so traumatised by what he saw he has become mute.  Can Samantha use her knowledge and therapies to help Aiden converse with the police and find the cold-hearted killer? Or is Samantha putting herself at risk and living with a killer….?

I love Samantha.  She’s such a well-rounded character and she absolutely shines from the page. Waines’ own experience as a psychotherapist adds another layer of interest to her Willerby books and Perfect Bones is a great example of this.  And what a subject she has chosen for Perfect Bones!  How can Aiden help the investigation when he is unable to talk? Samantha’s struggles and frustration in trying to understand what Aiden is telling her (through his art) was a total page-turner for me.  The added pressure from her police colleagues to get an answer before the end of the week makes Perfect Bones a tense read.

Perfect Bones is another meticulously planned slow-burn of a book and it’s a great addition to this wonderful series.  The fast-paced ending and final reveal were brilliant (particularly as this was a book where I wasn’t able to guess ‘whodunit’).

Would I recommend this book? I would but I suggest you read the first two books in the series first.  Samantha has a rather complicated relationship with her sister, Miranda, and I think going straight into book three means you miss out on much of their backstory.  The author does give new readers a good idea of what’s gone before but they are great books and worth the investment.  A fascinating book with lots of lovely suspense and a mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed trying to solve.  I can’t wait for book 4!

I chose to read and review an eARC of Perfect Bones.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Perfect Bones by A.J. Waines was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 8th November 2018 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

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WainesAJ6 (1)AJ Waines is a number one bestselling author, topping the entire UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years, with Girl on a Train.

Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, the author now writes psychological thrillers and murder mysteries full-time, with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and Canada (audio books). In January 2019, she signed a new UK two-book deal with Bloodhound Books.

AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and been ranked a Top 10 UK Author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

The author lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. More on AJ’s psychology background here.

Author Links:WebsiteFacebookTwitter |

Author bio © https://sites.google.com/a/awaines.co.uk/aj-waines-crime-fiction-writer/

#BookReview: The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor @MichaelJBooks @DeadGoodBooks #TheTakingofAnnieThorne

the taking of annie thorne.jpg“Then . . .

One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.

Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie.

I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

Now. . .

The email arrived in my inbox two months ago. I almost deleted it straight away, but then I clicked OPEN:

I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again . . .”

The tricky second book.  I was a huge fan of C.J. Tudor’s debut, the totally unmissable The Chalk Man which blew my socks off and left me a little bit in love with Ed, the main character.  I often still think about him and that brilliant ending (book hangover, much?).  So there was nothing on earth that was going to stop me from reading Tudor’s second novel, The Taking of Annie Thorne.  I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher but this has in no way influenced my review.

I loved it.  The Taking of Annie Thorne is just as dark, just as creepy and just as brilliant as The Chalk Man (although I will put my hand up here and confess that I loved The Chalk Man just a teeny tiny smidge more).  There are definite similarities between the two books; a small claustrophobic town, our main protagonist is a teacher (there are other similarities between Ed and Joe which I won’t go into detail about here), strange creepy inexplicable things happening to normal everyday people.  But I enjoyed that, it added to the story for me.

I found our main protagonist to be instantly likeable.  He has a troubled past after discovering his sister, that’s Annie, has changed beyond recognition after she went missing one night.  He’s flawed (definitely flawed) with an addiction to gambling and a penchant for stretching the truth but when he receives an email telling him that ‘it’s happening again’ he feels he must return to the town of his youth and see for himself.  There are elements of the supernatural at play in this novel which would normally turn me right off but the way Tudor has written her story had me engrossed.  I didn’t care that I didn’t really believe in certain aspects of the story.  What is reading if not escapism?  I was captivated from the first page to the last and felt fully invested in Joe’s plight to discover the truth.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely and I suggest if you haven’t read The Chalk Man you download that too.  I’m a huge fan of horror/crime crossover novels and this one is another to add to the favourites list.  Tudor’s writing is sublime and before you know it hours have passed and you’ve forgotten to pick the kids up from school (that didn’t happen…honest!).  Deliciously creepy, totally addictive and the type of book I want to read over and over again.  Don’t miss out on this exceptional book!

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Taking of Annie Thorne.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 21st February 2019 and is available in hardback, ebook and audio formats with the paperback to follow in July (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): ⋆ amazon.co.uk ⋆ amazon.com ⋆ Waterstones ⋆ BookDepository ⋆ Goodreads

about-the-author3

cj tudorC. J. Tudor lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author.

Her first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in thirty-nine territories.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: Creature by Hunter Shea @flametreepress #Creature

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“The monsters live inside of Kate Woodson. Chronic pain and a host of autoimmune diseases have robbed her of a normal, happy life. Her husband Andrew’s surprise of their dream Maine lake cottage for the summer is the gift of a lifetime. It’s beautiful, remote, idyllic, a place to heal.

But they are not alone. Something is in the woods, screeching in the darkness, banging on the house, leaving animals for dead.

Just like her body, Kate’s cottage becomes her prison. She and Andrew must fight to survive the creature that lurks in the dead of night.”

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time you will know that primarily I am a crime fiction blogger. However, when my reading mojo deserts me I turn to the horror genre to kickstart it. Creature by Hunter Shea was one of the first books I turned to when that happened at the end of last year. I had seen some cracking reviews and I wanted to see for myself what the book was all about. I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher but that has in no way influenced my review.

Creature was like nothing else I’ve read in the horror genre before. Yes, this is horror fiction but in a different unexpected way. It’s also a very important love story which ultimately broke my heart. Packed with raw emotion and bucketloads of feeling this book is one we should all read – whether you regularly read horror novels or not. Having finished the book it also became blatantly clear what a personal book this is to the author.

Kate and Andrew are very much in love but Kate is terribly ill suffering from a number of chronic debilitating autoimmune diseases. Knowing that the future isn’t looking too bright Andrew books a three-month break taking Kate from the four walls which imprison her on a daily basis to the peace and tranquillity of a lake-side cabin in Maine’s vast woodlands. What starts out as a dream come true for the couple soon turns into a nightmare. The four walls of their home are quickly replaced by another prison, but this one is altogether more terrifying than they could have ever imagined.

I instantly liked both Kate and Andrew. I admired Kate’s determination to do as much as she could for herself but really felt for Andrew when that determination manifested itself in Kate damaging herself even more. This a slow burn of a read and Shea spends significant time at the start of the book ensuring the reader knows what a struggle life is for this couple. I appreciated that as when the horrors start you feel totally invested in Kate and Andrew. The only other character I should mention at this point is Kate’s dog, Buttons, who is just gorgeous! His dedication to Kate shines through, no matter what.

This is a horror novel though and a horror novel wouldn’t be so without something scary. And oh boy, this is a BIG scary. The writing is tense, taut and descriptive and I found myself holding my breath at certain parts. It’s a little on the gory and gruesome side but you’d be surprised if it wasn’t, right? What I love about Creature is what exactly Shea has achieved here. This is a carefully thought out and well-planned plot and one which I admire greatly. I can’t really say any more without giving away a few spoilers but this book made me want to punch the air with my fist and shout ‘YES!’.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s something completely different to everything else I’ve read in the horror genre, and I expect if I were to read another of Mr Shea’s books that would still be the case. Deeply emotional, totally unexpected and honest. If you don’t tend to read books in the horror genre but have always been intrigued then I suggest you start with this one. A heartbreaking love story and a tale of how chronic illness can tear peoples lives apart.

I chose to read and review Creature. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Creature by Hunter Shea was published in the UK by Flame Tree Press on 6th September 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you):
| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

hunter shea.jpg

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of over 13 (lucky number!) books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Author photo and bio © https://huntershea.com/

#BookReview: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #TheHuntingParty

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“In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.”

There are some books you see and you know you HAVE to read them. It may be a striking cover, it may be an intriguing blurb or it may just be a feeling in your gut that you’re going to miss out on something GREAT if you don’t read a particular book. I can safely say it was all of the above for me when it came to The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a massive fan of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and I had everything crossed that this book was going to have echoes of Christie’s brilliant novel about it. It certainly does but with a wonderfully modern twist to the tale and it stands, two feet firmly on the ground, on its own merit. I love the idea of a group of people completely stranded in a vast inhospitable landscape. People you *think* you know but one of them is a murderer. Who is it? How well do you really know these people? And could you be their next victim…?

University friends Miranda, Katie, Julien, Nick, Giles, Samira and Mark plus the addition of a couple of partners, Bo and Emma, head north from London to the Scottish Highlands for New Year. It’s going to be the holiday of a lifetime, all meticulously planned by prim and proper Emma. However, over the years those strong bonds formed at Oxford have started to break a little. Everyone is busy with their careers or children so it’s tough to find the time to spend together. There’s no escape this New Year though as they’ll be living in each other pockets, miles from anywhere. Just how long will the friends be able to stand each other. How long can they keep the secrets they hide?

The characters and the setting absolutely make this book. The isolation of the Scottish Highlands, teamed with Foley’s very intriguing cast of characters kept me turning the pages at a rate of knots. I can’t say I particularly liked any of them but that never really matters to me. In fact, the more secretive and the more despicable a character is the more I enjoy the book! I wanted to know more, so much so that I read this book in a matter of days rather than the two weeks it’s been taking to finish a novel of late.

The story is told from several viewpoints; those of Miranda the beautiful ‘it’ girl who craves the attention of everyone around her.  Emma, Mark’s girlfriend who is chief organiser of the holiday and a late addition to the group.  Katie, Miranda’s not-quite-so-glamorous BFF.  Heather, the host at the house who has secrets of her own and Doug, the aloof gamekeeper.  Despite using several different voices to tell the story I didn’t find it confusing as all of the narrators stand apart from one another.  They are all very different distinct characters.

What I loved was that the reader discovers there has been a murder fairly early on. Foley, however, manages to keep who the victim is a secret until very near the end of the story. You can’t help speculating though. I make a couple of guesses as I progressed through the book. I won’t mention that there were times when I really hoped it was a certain dastardly character though 😉.  I can’t really put into words how compelling The Hunting Party is so I suggest you get a copy yourself and experience this brilliant book first-hand.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  Without a moment’s hesitation.  It’s creepy and claustrophobic with a brilliant ending.  It’s a perfect example of the books I love to read.  A great page-turner of a book with intriguing characters, a fabulous remote setting and shedloads of suspicion and suspense.  More please! Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review The Hunting Party.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 24th January 2019 and is available in hardback, ebook and audio formats with the paperback to follow later this year (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

about-the-author3

lucy foly.jpgLucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

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