damppebbles.com nominated for the @BloggersBash #ServicestoBloggers award!

Hello my booky friends. We’ve known each other for a while now and I hope, by now, you’ve picked up on how much I love to #sharethebooklove. Part of my daily routine is sharing as many fabulous book reviews and booky posts from fellow bloggers over on Twitter as I can. 

Due (I think) to this love of sharing posts, I’ve been nominated for an award! Whoop whoop ūüéČ.  I am absolutely thrilled to have been nominated for a 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Award!

damppebbles.com is nominated in the Services to Bloggers category and I would be so incredibly grateful if you could spare a moment and vote for me.

The criteria is: Who‚Äôs the kindest blogger of them all? Which blogger goes out of their way to help others? Maybe someone helped you kick start your blog with tutorials or maybe they continually reblogs your posts. Perhaps someone consistently provides useful posts on how to boost your own blog. Or maybe you want to nominate someone who provides a platform for others.

Who do you want to thank for their dedication to other bloggers?

So please, if you haven’t already done so please vote for damppebbles.com (and anyone else you fancy whilst you’re there!). Just click on the Bloggers Bash logo above to vote. Best of luck everyone. Results will be revealed in a glittery ceremony in London on 10th June. Fingers crossed (and THANK YOU!!). Voting closes at 12pm on FRIDAY 2nd JUNE, please make your vote count ‚̧.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Body Breaker by Mike Craven (@MWCravenUK) @caffeinenights

13932097_1782579222021581_758646725_o.jpg“Investigating a severed hand found on the 3rd green of a Cumbrian golf course was not how Detective Inspector Avison Fluke had planned to spend his Saturday. So when a secretive unit from London swoop in quoting national security, he‚Äôs secretly pleased.

But trouble is never far away. A young woman arrives at his lakeside cabin with a cryptic message: a code known to only a handful of people and it forces Fluke back into the investigation he’s just been barred from.

In a case that will change his life forever, Fluke immerses himself in a world of new age travellers, corrupt cops and domestic extremists. Before long he’s alienated his entire team, made a pact with the devil and been arrested under the terrorism act.

But Fluke is only getting started. A voice has called out to him from beyond the grave and he has no intention of ignoring it.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Body Breaker blog tour which I share with the very lovely Jo over at lifeofcri.me.  Body Breaker is the second novel in the DI Avison Fluke series and was published by Caffeine Nights on 25th May 2017.

I am in love.  It’s that simple.  There are a small number of bloggers whose opinion I completely trust.  They only have to mention an author or their books and I’m signing into Amazon! Mike Craven’s books fall into that category.  I’ve had the first book in the series, Born in a Burial Gown on the TBR for a while now and have been desperate to read it.  So when the opportunity to feature on the Body Breaker blog tour arose, I jumped at the chance.

I absolutely fell in love with DI Avison Fluke.  But it wasn’t just our leading man, it was every member of his team as well.  For me, as an avid crime reader, someone who tends to read a lot of police procedurals, this book really grabbed my attention.  That was partly due to a cracking plot and partly due to probably the best investigative team I’ve had the pleasure of reading about.  Not since Mark Billingham’s Tom Thorne have I been this excited and, let’s be honest here, this smitten with a detective.

Something else that was a little different; even though this is the second book in the series (there are 2.5 by the way, two full novels and a novella) I didn’t feel as though I was missing out by not having read the first book.  I find you tend to be left wondering about certain occurrences, things happen and you’re not sure if it relates to something from earlier in the series, almost like you’re always missing…something.   I didn’t feel that at all whilst reading Body Breaker.  It’s the best ‘part of a series standalone’ I’ve read! Saying that, I will be doing all I can to squeeze Born in a Burial Gown into my reading schedule very very soon.

DI Fluke and his second in command, DS Towler are both ex-military.  And despite not serving together, these boys have a strong history together.  As well as the type of friendship where the other would happily die to save his mate.  I loved their relationship as not only was it hilarious in places it brought a warmth to the story.  Each character is unique, each character had their moment to prove their worth to the investigation and I loved it.

What starts out as the discovery of a severed hand on a golf course turns into so much more.  This book took me places I didn’t expect, gave me reading material that was quite different to my normal choices and kept me gripped from the very start to the very end. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough but I also wanted the story to last much longer than its 320 pages!

Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would.  I’m excited to have discovered Avison Fluke and his team.  The author is currently working on a new series and I desperately hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of Fluke for a while (although I am very much looking forward to meeting Washington Poe!).  It’s a thrilling, heart pounding novel which gave me much more than I initially expected.  If I can’t convince you, I’ll hand over to (a very intimidating looking) Mike Craven.  I found this YouTube video online and had to share it with you.

Five out of five stars.

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

Body Breaker by Mike Craven was published in the UK by Caffeine Nights Publishing on 25th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Although he was born in Cumbria, Mike Craven grew up in the North East before running away to join the army as soon as he was sixteen. After training as an armourer for two and a half years (that’s an army gunsmith to you and I), he spent the next ten travelling the world having fun. In 1995 he left the army, and after a brief flirtation with close protection and bodyguarding, decided on a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. In 1999 he joined Cumbria Probation Service as a probation officer, working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later, he took the plunge and accepted redundancy to concentrate on writing full-time, and now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.

Mike‚Äôs first DI Avison Fluke novel, Born in a Burial Gown, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers‚Äô Association Debut Dagger Award and was published on 11th June 2015 by Caffeine Nights. Also available is his award winning collection of short stories featuring Fluke and his colleagues from the Cumbrian Force Major Incident Team, Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody, Challenge Everything. Body Breaker, the hotly anticipated follow up to Born in a Burial Gown, is out on May 25th.

In March 2017, Mike signed a two book contract with the Little, Brown imprint, Constable, for his new series starring the National Crime Agency‚Äôs Washington Poe, an expert in serial killers and seemingly motiveless crimes. The first Poe book ‚Äď as yet untitled ‚Äď will be published in hardback in spring 2018.

Between leaving the army and securing his first publishing deal, Mike found time to keep a pet crocodile, breed snakes, get married, and buy a springer spaniel named Bracken. He lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne, where he tries to leave the house as little as possible. Mike is also one third of Crime Ink-Corporated, a trio of northern writers who take writing out for the community and host events such as England’s first Noir at the Bar.

Mike‚Äôs first DI Avison Fluke novel, Born in a Burial Gown, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers‚Äô Association Debut Dagger Award. He is a member of both the Crime Writers‚Äô Association and the International Thriller Writers‚Äô Association.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Caffeine Nights | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Lies Within by Jane Isaac (@JaneIsaacAuthor) @Legend_Press

9781785079276.jpeg“Be under no illusions by her kind face and eloquent manner‚Ķ This woman is guilty of murder.

Grace Daniels is distraught after her daughter’s body is found in a Leicestershire country lane. With her family falling apart and the investigation going nowhere, Grace’s only solace is the re-emergence of Faye, an old friend who seems to understand her loss.

DI Will Jackman delves into the case, until a family tragedy and a figure from his past threaten to derail him.

When the police discover another victim, the spotlight falls on Grace. Can Jackman find the killer, before she is convicted of a crime she didn’t commit?”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Lies Within blog tour.  The Lies Within is the third book in the DI Will Jackman series written by Jane Isaac and was published by Legend Press on 2nd May 2017.  I have read the second book in the series, Beneath the Ashes which I really enjoyed.  If you missed my review of the wonderful Beneath the Ashes then please click here.

The opening chapter takes you right to the heart of the story.  You’re immediately thrown into a courtroom scene where Grace Daniels, a mother and wife is on trial for murder.  “Be under no illusions by her kind face and eloquent manner‚Ķ This woman is guilty of murder”.  My curiosity was immediately piqued.  Grace came across as a normal, everyday person – not a psychopath (not that psychopaths are normally easy to spot, this I have learnt from being an avid crime reader!).

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.  The main body of the book is pre-trial. It beautifully drip feeds the reader, giving them brief glimpses into how a perfectly pleasant, non-threatening mother could be on the stand for murder.  Grace is a woman with secrets.  She chooses to keep certain parts of her life hidden, from her friends and most definitely from her family.  Then one day a possible link to that past rears its hideous head.  Grace’s daughter, Jo is sexually assaulted, her body dumped by the side of the road.  Grace is distraught and begins to shut those she loves out.  On a rare trip outside of the house, a chance encounter with an old school friend proves the lifeline Grace needs.  Despite Grace and Faye being in different years at school, a strong friendship is formed.  Grace confides in Faye, invites her to stay in her home when work is being carried out to the boiler, the pair become inseparable to the detriment of everyone else.

But then a second body is discovered and Grace is the main suspect.  All of the evidence points to Grace being the killer.  Now all she has to do is prove she didn’t do it.

I loved spending time with DI Will Jackman again, and what a case he finds himself in the middle of.  This time he’s investigating cold cases in Leicestershire rather than his hometown of Stratford upon Avon and I really enjoyed that change of scene.  Particularly when Jackman is re-introduced to beautiful Camela Hanson.  There was a significant amount of chemistry between the two of them in Beneath the Ashes so I was pleased to see the sparks still flying in The Lies Within.  For those not familiar with DI Jackman and his circumstances he is a married man but Alice, his wife, was involved in an accident which has left her suffering from Locked-In Syndrome.  I truly love Jackman’s devotion to his wife but I also like the friction Camela Hanson brings to the story.  I guess I feel quite torn when it comes to Will Jackman and his ladies, ha!

The last one-third or so of this book made it for me.  I absolutely loved the courtroom scenes.  Legal thrillers are normally something I shy away from but having read this exciting, thrilling court-based ending it’s something I will definitely rethink.  I felt as though the investigation into Jo’s murder was only the warm-act for this superb final flourish.  Don’t get me wrong here, I really enjoyed the investigation but oh my, that final third.  I was 100% convinced that Grace was innocent….most of the time.  I probably changed my mind every paragraph or so whilst reading!  And I loved that doubt.  I have so much respect for authors anyway, but if they can make me question a character once I’ve made my mind up, then count me as a fan and destined to buy every future release.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  And even though it’s the third book in the series, I believe The Lies Within can be read as a standalone (although why would you when there are fabulous prequels available!).  A thoroughly enjoyable read and I can’t wait for more DI Will Jackman (and I have my fingers crossed that the next book will feature Carmen Hanson too).

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Lies Within.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Lies Within by Jane Isaac was published in the UK by Legend Press on 2nd May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Jane Isaac lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, in rural Northamptonshire, UK. Her debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, introduces DCI Helen Lavery and was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013.’

The Truth Will Out, the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series, was nominated as ‘Thriller of the Month – April 2014’ by E-thriller.com and winner of ‘Noveltunity book club selection – May 2014’.

In 2015 Jane embarked on a new series, featuring DI Will Jackman and set in Stratford upon Avon, with Before It’s Too Late. The second in the series, Beneath The Ashes, will be published by Legend Press on 1st November 2016 with the 3rd, The Lies Within, to follow on 2nd May 2017.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson (@JoGustawsson) @OrendaBooks

block 46 cover.jpg“Evil remembers…

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.
Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s.

Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again.

Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald?

Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true crime¬†writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Block 46 blog tour today.  Block 46 is written by French author Johana Gustawsson and was published in the UK in paperback format on 15th May 2017 by Orenda Books.

This is one of those books which¬†has been¬†receiving a lot of attention from fellow bloggers and reviewers. ¬†And rightly so! ¬†Block 46¬†had a very different feel to many of the other crime thrillers I’ve read of late. ¬†The ¬†fact the novel is based on true events brings a brand new level of horror and makes the reading experience that little bit more uncomfortable. ¬†Just as it should be when we’re talking about the atrocities¬†committed by the¬†Nazi’s in the Second World War. ¬†You may have read reviews where the fairly graphic violence is highlighted. ¬†Well, yes, it is violent. ¬†But Gustawsson couldn’t have told this¬†story any other way. ¬†To have played certain scenes down would have removed the the impact¬†of¬†Block 46. ¬†This is a book where graphic violence is necessary and sadly, true to the story.

I found Alexis Castells and Emily Roy¬†a very different but fascinating investigative team. Castells is a true crime writer, originally from France but now based in London. ¬†Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police. ¬†I really liked Emily Roy. ¬†She’s precise, straight to the point and the investigation receives 100% of her attention. ¬†There was one point, towards the end of the book, where I realised exactly how much I liked Emily Roy. ¬†It was a real heartwarming moment which I hope the author expands on in the second book (there has to be a back story there, surely!).

Would I recommend this book? ¬†I would, but prepare yourself for what is a very tough read in places. ¬†It’s a dark, unsettling, harrowing novel that will make you stop and think. It certainly had that effect on me. ¬†I loved the twist and would read another novel by Gustawsson in a heartbeat.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Block 46.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th May 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Author bio from orendabooks.co.uk

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |


#BookReview: A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood (@MichaelHWood) @KillerReads

a room full of killers.jpg“Eight killers. One house. And the almost perfect murder‚Ķ

Starling House is home to some of Britain’s deadliest teenagers, still too young for prison.

When the latest arrival is found brutally murdered, DCI Matilda Darke and her team investigate, and discover a prison manager falling apart and a sabotaged security system. Neither the staff nor the inmates can be trusted.

The only person Matilda believes is innocent is facing prison for the rest of his life. With time running out, she must solve the unsolvable to save a young man from his fate, and find a murderer in a house full of killers‚Ķ”

A very happy paperback publication day to¬†A Room Full of Killers author, Michael Wood and the team at Killer Reads. ¬†And congratulations on what is a stunning example of how to write a police procedural. ¬†I’ve read the second book in the DCI Matilda Darke series, Outside Looking In¬†and thoroughly enjoyed it. ¬†This third instalment though is something else altogether. ¬†I absolutely loved it!

The opening scenes are both horrific and heartbreaking. ¬†We’re fleetingly¬†introduced to two children. ¬†We don’t know who they are, how old they are or their circumstances. ¬†All we know is that the older child is suffering from food poisoning and has woken their sibling up after being violently ill. ¬†What follows made my heart ache and my stomach turn. ¬†Such a brilliantly written, attention grabbing opening and way to make sure the reader is giving their absolute undivided attention.

I mentioned in my review of¬†Outside Looking In how much I love¬†DCI Matilda Darke and how wonderfully normal she is in comparison to some other female detectives. ¬†I’m still very much a fan but the shine was taken off a little for me whilst reading¬†A Room Full of Killers. ¬†Matilda is sent to investigate the murder of a high profile teenage killer at a Young Offenders Institute. ¬†But during the investigation she becomes distracted to the point of endangering herself and her team. ¬†I think I invest far too much in my fictional leads as I felt like yelling at my Kindle and telling her to buck her ideas up! ¬†But weirdly, this added to the whole reading experience for me. ¬†(Yeah, I can’t explain it either!)

I spent a long time working out how the prologue fitted with the rest of the story. And then it became perfectly clear and suddenly, the gruesome murder of a teenage killer and the complex ongoing investigation faded into the background a little and I was just as distracted as DCI Darke.  Such a clever novel and full marks to the author for writing such a tense, heart-rending book.

One of the many things I loved about a¬†A Room Full of Killers is that it’s set in Starling House, a young offenders prison. ¬†Meaning the majority of the characters are evil, vindictive killers (the type I love to read about!). ¬†Each of the young men get to tell their story and the reason they have ended up imprisoned. ¬†I loved these chapters. ¬†They’re so well written and despite being relatively short summaries, they tell you everything you need to know about the killers. ¬†Building a clear picture of the evil, sadistic¬†children¬†stuck behind the walls of Starling House.

I loved the mystery element. ¬†I love whodunits and this is a fantastic example of how to plot and build on the suspense. ¬†Would I recommend this book? ¬†Most definitely. I loved this book so I really hope that you get a chance to read it too. ¬†It’s tense, gripping and a completely absorbing read. ¬†I loved the cast of killers and, even though she lost a little of the shine, I still love DCI Matilda Darke. ¬†An excellent book which fans of the police procedural shouldn’t ignore. ¬†I hope we don’t have too long to wait until the fourth book in the series is published!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of A Room Full of Killers.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

A Room Full of Killers by Michael Wood was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 18th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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michael wood.jpgMichael Wood is a proofreader and former journalist in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. His first novel featuring DCI Matilda Darke, FOR REASONS UNKNOWN, was released in the autumn of 2015. The follow-up, OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, was released in May 2016 in ebook format by Killer Reads at HarperCollins.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite (@BCopperthwait) @bookouture

darkest lies cover.jpg“A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness –¬†until the day that Beth goes missing¬†and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk? 

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

A completely gripping psychological thriller with a twist you won‚Äôt see coming. Fans of¬†The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Before I Let You In¬†will be captivated.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the¬†The Darkest Lies blog tour which I share with the fabulous Kate over at¬†Bibliophile Book Club. ¬†The Darkest Lies is written by all-round lovely person and talented author, Barbara Copperthwaite. ¬†I read Barbara’s self published¬†Flowers for the Dead last year and fell in love with her writing (along with her¬†incredibly likeable serial killer, Adam). ¬†If you missed that review or would like a recap then please click¬†here. ¬†So I was very excited to hear that not only had Barbara¬†been snapped up by brilliant publishers Bookouture, she was also about to publish a brand new crime thriller.

And what a thriller! ¬†Flowers for the Dead left such a lasting impression on me that I was maybe a little harsh in my ‘bar-setting’ for¬†The Darkest Lies. ¬†It had to be good, and I mean really, really, unequivocally, stupendously good to merit a five star rating from me (sorry Barbara Copperthwaite, us readers have pretty high, almost unachievable¬†standards sometimes. ¬†It’s not just me, is it…?). ¬†This book took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. ¬†The lies, the deceit, the secrets and the fear. ¬†It was all beautifully done. ¬†But what I loved the most, and what hasn’t happened to me while reading for a LONG time is that I bawled my eyes out. ¬†It was one of those big, ugly cries that is uncontrollable and very snotty. ¬†Now I only tend to read crime and psychological thriller novels so I’m pretty used to bad things happening to good people. And I’ve read some pretty difficult and heartbreaking stuff over the years, but this book…..this book!!! This book was the one to convey¬†the characters pain and¬†turn this badass tough-nut reader into a smushy pile of tears. ¬†Amazing stuff!

Thirteen year old Beth Oak plans to spend the night at her friend’s house. ¬†Mani/pedi’s are on the agenda, lots of giggly girlie talk about boys and a sickening sweet midnight feast. ¬†Well, that’s what Beth is telling her mum anyway. ¬†Beth has other, much more mature things planned for her evening. ¬†But first she needs to escape her mother and make it to the cricket pavilion in time for her date.

Melanie Oak, Beth’s mum is completely oblivious to her daughter’s hidden agenda. ¬†She leaves her outside her friend’s house and heads home to husband, Jacob and her warm bed. ¬†Only in the morning, when she starts to question¬†what time Beth will be home does she realise something is¬†terribly wrong. ¬†Beth is missing. ¬†Beth’s BFF doesn’t know where she is and no one from the village has seen her (despite someone, somewhere always seeing something). ¬†Melanie begins to fall apart, drinking herself into oblivion and pushing friends and life-long neighbours away. ¬†A chance encounter one evening in the local pub gives her the idea to start her own investigation. ¬†After all the police, headed by DS Devonport, aren’t doing anything constructive so what harm could it do? ¬†Will Melanie be able to discover¬†what dark secrets her daughter was keeping and exactly what happened to Beth that fateful evening?

One of the first things which struck me about this book was the use of the second person narrative. ¬†I’ve been pondering on this for a while now, trying to remember the last book I read which took this approach and I can’t think of a single one. ¬†It’s unusual and made the book feel immediately different to other missing child stories.

I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. ¬†There I was watching this once happy and content woman unravel before my eyes. ¬†The anguish, the fear, the fading hope all eating away at what was once a strong family-centred woman. ¬†Oh, and the suspicion. ¬†I loved how suspicious Melanie became of everyone around her. ¬†The turning away of neighbours when they saw her coming down the street. ¬†The strange flickering looks on their faces¬†when they couldn’t escape Melanie’s interrogation. ¬†The guarded sympathy, all wonderfully written to cast suspicion and doubt on most of the villagers.

Despite trying hard to work out what had happened to Beth, I didn’t succeed. ¬†I was surprised (in the best way possible) by the reveal as I certainly didn’t see that one coming. ¬†That however, is not the end of the story. ¬†I had certain suspicions about one aspect of the book so when those suspicions were confirmed it made up for my sleuth powers letting me down in the first instance.

Would I recommend this book? ¬†I loved The Darkest Lies¬†and will heartily recommend it to anyone who will listen. ¬†I adored the closing chapters which made me give a little cheer despite something quite horrific¬†happening. ¬†Although good doesn’t come out of this book completely unscathed, it does eventually win in the end…..just with a little rust and mud taking the shine off of its¬†halo.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Darkest Lies by Barbara Copperthwaite was published in the UK by Bookouture on 12th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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barbara copperthwaite.jpgThe people behind the crime, from the perpetrator to the victim and beyond, are what intrigue Barbara Copperthwaite.

She was raised by the sea and in the countryside, where she became a lover of both nature and the written word ‚Äď the latter leading to a successful career as a journalist. For over twenty years people have kindly and bravely shared with her their real experiences of being victims of crime. Now, through fiction, Barbara continues to explore the emotional repercussions.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Child Taken by Darren Young (@darrenyoungbook) @RedDoorBooks

child taken cover.jpg“One hot summer‚Äôs day, two-year-old Jessica Preston disappears from the beach. The police are convinced she drowned, but Sandra Preston won‚Äôt give up hope that her daughter is still alive. After all, a mother‚Äôs instinct is never wrong.
Is it?

Twenty years later, another child goes missing, and Sandra is approached by a young journalist who raises questions about what really happened to Jessica Preston all those years ago.

But when the journalist discovers someone with an explosive secret, it threatens not only to reveal what‚Äôs been covered up for so long, but puts both their lives in danger.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Child Taken blog tour.  Child Taken is written by debut author Darren Young and published by Red Door Books later this week on Thursday 18th May.

Books about children being involved in something terrible are always a tough read for me. I have two young children of my own so novels where the plot revolves around evil things happening to little people are the stuff my nightmares are made of.  I always feel a little apprehensive when I first start on a book of this sub-genre and it can go either way. I’ll either really enjoy it or it will leave me feeling cold.  Child Taken I thoroughly enjoyed. As much as it is about a child being snatched from her parents and the heartache and devastation that brings, it’s also about love.  It’s very difficult for me to expand on this statement without giving hefty spoilers away so please forgive me for being a bit vague on this one!

The book is divided into several parts, each part starting with the thoughts and feelings of the abductor and Jessica’s mother, Sandra.  Although the main body of the book is set very much in the present, these short emotional insights span the course of 20 years (one year after Jessica was taken, five years after Jessica was taken, etc.).  These sections really added to the emotional weight of the story.  I went from feeling anger at Jessica’s kidnappers to my heart aching for her desperate mother.   I grew to thoroughly dislike the husband.  This mysterious, nameless character however never felt psychologically unstable to me.  His love for his wife never felt obsessive or perverse in any way.  He came across as a perfectly normal bloke who knows the decision they, as a couple, have made is wrong but given the choice between committing a crime and making his wife happy, he chooses his wife.

But what we all want to know is what exactly happened to Jessica that day.  We discover more of her story thanks to Laura, a trainee reporter.  Due to a bout of illness at the newspaper offices Laura is thrown head first into a current missing child investigation. She scours the internet for similar cases and discovers that Jessica Preston went missing 20 years earlier down on the south west coast.  Laura arranges to see the distraught mother and get another perspective, exactly how does it feel to have your child taken from you?  But before heading off on the four hour drive to the south, the missing child is found and the meeting cancelled.  Laura feels distraught at letting Sandra, Jessica’s mother, down so arranges to meet with her in her own time.  Before long Laura is also convinced that Jessica is still alive and vows to find her and write the story of her career. Only when Danni contacts Laura does she have her lead.  Danni is highly suspicious that her father is keeping something life changing from her.  Having recently lost her mother in a horrific accident, Danni’s father suddenly becomes secretive and withdrawn, less of a dad and more of a stranger. Memories of a conversation she shouldn’t have overheard suddenly slip into place like a missing jigsaw puzzle piece.  And despite searching, there is no proof that her parents are actually HER parents.  No birth certificate, no photographs of her as a baby, no proof.  Without realising it, Laura and Danni start to uncover something that someone desperately wants to remain a closely guarded secret. And they are prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure it stays that way…

This is a great story about ordinary people thrown into extraordinary situations and I really enjoyed it.  The story was great but oh my, I loved those closing chapters.  They, for me, made this book.  I was completely hypnotised by what I was reading and there was no way I was going to put Child Taken down.  I was mesmerised and appalled in equal measure by how far one of the characters went to keep their secret.  Incredibly dark and wonderfully tense writing from the author.

In typical damppebbles style I was trying to work out the twist from the moment I met the first character.  I always feel sorry for the author when I’m successful and I felt especially bad this time because it’s such a well written and clever story that I didn’t actually want to be right.  But I was.  Sorry Darren Young.  Being able to predict what was going to happen certainly didn’t spoil the reading experience for me though.  I think, by reading only from the crime genre, I’ve become an overly suspicious person (whoops!) which probably isn’t a good thing.  Probably…

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s a great debut and I look forward to reading more from Darren Young in the future.  Whilst this is a tense and foreboding crime novel, the most overwhelming theme for me was how far some will go for the person they love.  And how completely terrifying that can be.

Four out of five stars.

Child Taken by Darren Young is published by Red Door Publishing on 18th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author2

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Author information courtesy of darrenyoungauthor.com

Darren Young was born in 1971 in the West Midlands and now lives in Nottingham with his wife, Luisa and their two children, Alessio and Emilia.

His background is in customer service, working in financial services and then as a consultant in the UK and Europe, then later a director with CSN. He has a master’s degree in business administration.

He‚Äôd always enjoyed writing ‚Äď he used to chronicle his family holidays as a child ‚Äď and, in his spare time, along with the occasional game of tennis, he wanted to try his hand at writing a real book but didn‚Äôt think there was enough room in his already busy life to fit it in.

Luckily, he found a sympathetic coffee shop and plenty of encouragement from those around him and he began working on Child Taken at the end of 2014 after hearing a radio news bulletin whilst in the car and having an idea before the end of the journey that is 95% intact in the published book.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |


#BlogTour | #BookReview: Death’s Silent Judgement by Anne Coates (@Anne_Coates1) @urbanebooks

deaths silent judgement.jpg“Death’s Silent Judgement is the thrilling sequel to Dancers in the Wind, and continues the gripping series starring London-based investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge.

Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her dental practice.

With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend’s brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer.

But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer…”

I am absolutely delighted to be part of¬†the¬†Death’s Silent Judgement blog tour today alongside the lovely Linda of¬†Linda’s Book Bag. ¬†I would also like to wish author, Anne Coates and publisher Urbane Books a very happy publication day! ¬†I read and reviewed the first book in the Hannah Weybridge series,¬†Dancers in the Wind last year. ¬†If you missed that review or would just like a reminder, click¬†here¬†to read my thoughts. ¬†I really enjoyed the first book so was thrilled to be asked to join the blog tour for¬†Death’s Silent Judgement.

Being reacquainted with Hannah Weybridge once again was great. ¬†Dancers in the Wind has very much stayed with me since I read it last year and I often just stop and think about Hannah. ¬†She’s a struggling journalist but also a single mum to one year old Elizabeth. ¬†In the first book Hannah just seemed to attract trouble wherever she went so I was keen to see if the same would happen in the second book. ¬†And it certainly does! Hannah discovers her friend’s recently murdered body in a church basement. ¬†Her friend, Liz Rayman, has recently returned from a stint volunteering at an outpost in Somalia. ¬†On her return to London and as a qualified dentist, she was recruited by the local parish priest to offer free dental treatment to those living on the streets. ¬†But whilst the priest is¬†absent one evening, Liz is brutally murdered. ¬†All of the signs point to one of the homeless people Liz was trying to help but Hannah can’t and won’t believe that theory. ¬†Tasked by Liz’s mother to investigate, Hannah sets out to discover exactly why her friend was so brutally killed. ¬†But what Hannah doesn’t realise is that she’s getting involved in something much bigger than she expects. ¬†This goes way beyond the murder of her friend and into darker territory than she ever imagined.

I found the¬†Dancers in the Wind¬†to be quite a gritty, raw read. ¬†Unfortunately between the first and the second book something has been lost. ¬†I’m afraid to say that I didn’t get that edginess this time around. ¬†Hannah came across as a nice, middle class mother who could easily afford to employ a nanny to look after her child whilst she went undercover in Cardboard City for a few hours, only to return to her comfortable home and sleeping baby. ¬†I felt as though she had lost a lot of the ‘struggle’ which I really liked in the first book.

It may of course be something to do with the friction and the chemistry created by love interest DI Tom Jordan being completely absent.  Tom was working in the US throughout much of the story and was only available by telephone.  I really missed having this character involved in the investigation.

There is a new DI in Tom’s place for Hannah to deal with but I found her quite contrary. DI Claudia Turner blows hot and cold and I couldn’t work her out at all. ¬†I hope Tom returns in the next book and DI Turner is only seen in passing. ¬†When I think of this series I always tend to think of Hannah AND Tom so was maybe a little disappointed that the hunky DI felt too far away to be properly involved.

Something I haven’t mention in this or my previous review is that these books are set in the early to mid-nineties which I love. ¬†There were several points when I thought ‘Oh, why doesn’t Hannah do that?’ only to realise that THAT hadn’t been invented back in 1994! ¬†I left school around 1994 and¬†I was just starting to take an interest in the world around me so it does feel a little nostalgic and who doesn’t love a little nostalgia in their reads?

The plot was fast moving and kept my attention from start to finish. ¬†Even now, several days after finishing¬†Death’s Silent Judgement I feel there are loose ends which I can’t tie up in my own mind. ¬†Now this may to enable a third book in the series but I am left feeling a little confused and wondering.

Death’s Silent Judgement is the second book in the Hannah Weybridge series so I would recommend reading¬†Dancers in the Wind¬†first so you get to know the characters and their backgrounds.

Would I recommend this book? ¬†I would. ¬†I love Anne Coates’ writing and I would read more of Anne’s work in a heartbeat. ¬†Dancers in the Wind is, in my opinion, the superior book but this one is definitely worth a read.

Three and a half out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of¬†Death’s Silent Judgement. ¬†The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Death’s Silent Judgement by Anne Coates was published in the UK by Urbane Publications on 11th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats |¬†amazon.co.uk¬†|¬†amazon.com¬†|¬†Waterstones¬†|¬†Goodreads¬†|

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about the author2

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Author photo and information taken from Anne Coates’ website

All my life I have loved reading and writing. As a child I devoured books (following my mother’s example) and was encouraged by the Deputy Head at my secondary school. It was a brand new school and the actual library was not then open so books were stored in a room off his study. He allowed me to exchange books whenever I wanted which seemed an amazing privilege.

After reading for a degree in English and French, I came to London to begin my career and never left. Having worked for various publishers, I then moved to magazine journalism before becoming a freelance writer, editor and translator.

My first non-fiction books were written after the birth of my daughter Olivia (who is still known to friends as Libby) and some have been inspired by her or various stages in her life. It is an absolute joy for me that she shares my love of books, theatre, cinema as well as wining and dining.

My freelance journalism has led me to some strange places ‚Äď for example a gas platform in the North Sea via helicopter ‚Äď but I love how it has also informed my fiction. The idea for Dancers in the Wind emerged after I had interviewed a prostitute and then wondered ‚Äúwhat if‚Ķ‚ÄĚ.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |



#BlogTour: Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty (@Hardisty_Paul) @OrendaBooks

Reconciliation for the Dead cover.jpeg“Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu‚Äôs newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier. It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed. Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the¬†Reconciliation for the Dead blog tour today which I share with the lovely Jen over at¬†Jen Med’s Book Reviews. ¬†Reconciliation for the Dead is the third book in the Claymore Straker series and is proving to be a hit amongst bloggers and crime reviewers. ¬†I have read the second book in this series,¬†The Evolution of Fear and thoroughly enjoyed it.

To celebrate¬†Reconciliation for the Dead‘s release on 30th May I have a cracking guest post from author, Paul E. Hardisty. For those new to Claymore Straker it provides a little more information about the series so far¬†and explains why Paul Hardisty is so well equipped to write on these topics. ¬†So without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Paul…

Corruption’s Fearful Reach
Paul E. Hardisty

My career as a hydrologist and environmental engineer has taken me all over the world, and much of my work has taken place in poor, developing countries where basic things like clean water, sanitation, and freedom from religious and political persecution are non-existent, or exist only as rumour. And all too often, the root cause of the poverty and inequity in these places is not a lack of resources, but widespread corruption, not only inside government, but within the institutions responsible for the welfare of society, such as the police, the medical services, local government, regulatory and planning bodies of all kinds, and within poorly-regulated industries. In my work and travels, I have seen first-hand what corruption does to people. It strips wealth from the poorest in society, and accumulates it unrelentingly with the powerful and rich. It drives the plunder of natural resources and destruction of the environment, and it systematically silences those who would speak up to expose it.

My first novel, the CWA John Creasy Dagger award short-listed The Abrupt Physics of Dying, is set in Yemen during the 1994 civil war, in the wake of huge oil discoveries in the east of the country. New found wealth, and the opportunity for plunder, drove widespread corruption and war. Corruption takes many forms, of course, and is certainly not restricted to the developing world. My country of Australia has been scandalised on a regular basis by revelations of corrupt practices in government and industry, each time with regular expressions of shock that ‚Äėit could happen here.‚Äô But wherever it is practiced, corruption always depends on one powerful weapon: fear.

My second novel, The Evolution of Fear, explores how those who seek to manipulate society for their own ends use fear, in all its many forms, to control us, silence us, and even in the extreme, to get us to vote for things that are not in our own best interest. Shakespeare famously wrote: ‚ÄúOur fears do make us traitors.‚ÄĚ By using fear, the corrupt forces in society force us to abandon our principles, and betray the things we care about.¬† Faced with a legitimate threat of bodily harm or death over a social issue, few among us would choose to stand and fight. But often, the threats are subtler, more carefully veiled: lose your job, get passed up for that promotion or bonus, suffer public humiliation or bullying or slander. Invariably, whatever form the coercion takes, those that choose to stand up and fight, more often than not, pay the price.

My new novel, Reconciliation for the Dead, (the third novel in the Claymore Straker series), is set in apartheid-era South Africa, during the early 1980’s, a time of institutionalised racism, war, and civil insurrection. As a young soldier in the South African army, fighting the communist insurgency in Angola, Clay comes face to face with a crime so horrific that it changes him forever. Set on a course he cannot change, Clay confronts the deep-seated corruption embedded in the system, and eventually must decide whether to stay and fight, or run, and hope that the information he carries might eventually make a difference.

The Claymore Straker novels are thrillers, which puts them in the ‚ÄúCrime‚ÄĚ genre. But the crimes that Clay confronts are legal crimes, and at their root is deep-seated corruption, perpetuated by fear.

Thank you for such an interesting guest post,¬†Paul. ¬†I can’t wait to read¬†Reconciliation for the Dead so look out for a review on the ¬†blog soon.

Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author2

Paul Hardisty.jpegCanadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

Author Links: | Twitter |


#BookReview: The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (@ali_oliva) @MichaelJBooks

the last one.jpg“She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.

When Zoo agrees to take part in a new reality TV show, In The Dark, she knows that she will be tested to the limits of her endurance. Beating eleven competitors in a series of survival tasks deep in the forest will be the ultimate challenge before she returns home to start a family.

As the contestants are overcome by hunger, injury and psychological breakdown, the mind games to which Zoo is subjected grow dark beyond belief. This isn’t what she signed up for: the deserted towns and gruesome props. Is this a game with no end? alone and disoriented, Zoo must summon all her survival skills – and learn new ones as she goes . . .”

Oh flipping heck! ¬†I absolutely loved this book. ¬†It’s was a bit of a change for me. ¬†Yes, it’s described as a crime thriller but it’s so much more than that. ¬†I would describe this book as multi-genre rather than a crime thriller. ¬†Crime thriller, horror, YA, dystopian, romance, survival….so many genres covered in one unsettling but completely mesmirising¬†book. ¬†Weeks later and I’m still thinking¬†on the themes in this novel. ¬†It did a very good job of scaring the you know what out of me too, bravo Alexandra Oliva.

Zoo wants a monumental¬†challenge before settling down with her husband and starting a family. Well, that’s what she’s telling people anyway! ¬†So when the opportunity to appear on a new reality show arises, Zoo jumps at the chance. ¬†The show is a massive undertaking. ¬†Twelve contestants are thrown together in the wilderness with the barest of survival skills. ¬†The aim, to be the last one standing, to survive in the wilderness the longest. ¬†For those who can’t cope there is a key phrase which when uttered makes a producer appear and whisk them away to civilisation. ¬†But what if something catastrophic were to happen after filming starts. ¬†Something that changes life, as Zoo knows it, for ever…

I adored Zoo. ¬†Her resilience, her attitude, virtually everything about this character really appealed to me. ¬†The only thing I found slightly frustrating was Zoo’s refusal to accept the obvious, but then why should she? ¬†She was only seeing a fraction of the picture I was!

I sat from start to finish on the very edge of my seat. ¬†I had a feeling of impending doom which only worsened the further I progressed through the pages. ¬†I was expecting something in particular to happen, but¬†it didn’t. ¬†Oh my gosh, Oliva knows how to keep you teetering on the edge. ¬†I wasn’t at all disappointed that I couldn’t work out what was going to happen. ¬†As a crime fan I automatically try and work out how the story will end so it’s always good to be¬†proved completely wrong.

I loved the way the media are¬†portrayed in this novel. ¬†They manipulated everything the viewer saw and heard. ¬†They made their favourites look great whilst leaving certain characters looking shameful and totally egocentric. ¬†The complete control these nameless characters had over the other characters was powerful stuff and made me question exactly how much we see in these ‘reality’ shows is actually true and how much is manipulated content.

The ending of this novel broke my heart. ¬†Was I completely satisfied by the conclusion? Well, no. ¬†Probably not but that just left me wanting more. ¬†We all love a happy ending but sometimes no matter how much you want it, you aren’t going to get it. ¬†By the way, Zoo’s real name isn’t Zoo. ¬†The author has labelled each character with a mangled version of their job description. ¬†Zoo works in an animal park with school groups, not necessarily¬†a zoo. ¬†Other characters are called Rancher, Waitress, Air Force…

The chapters alternate between the past and the present.  The past being the start of filming when all of the contestants were working together and learning their new survival skills.  The present chapters feature only Zoo and her fight to survive to the end.  She has no idea how much time has passed, she has no idea where she is.  All she knows is that no matter what is thrown at her, no matter how many mangled props she comes across, she must fight to the end.  No matter how bad her nightmares become.

Would I recommend this book? ¬†Daft question really. ¬†I loved this book and can see it featuring on my top books of 2017 list. ¬†It made me nervous, it confronted my worst fears, it was everything I didn’t expect it to be! ¬†So very well written. ¬†Zoo will stay with me for a long, long time to come. ¬†What an experience!

Five out of five stars.

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

The Last One by Alexandra Oliva was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 29th December 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author2

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Author photo and information courtesy of Goodreads.com

Alexandra Oliva grew up in a small town deep in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. A graduate of Yale University, she also earned an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School University and undertook intensive wilderness survival training while researching The Last One. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their brindled pup, Codex. The Last One is her first novel.

Alexandra can be easily reached via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her website.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |