#CaseClosed: #February2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles

Hello! Remember me? I’m the book blogger who hasn’t really posted very much this month (but has been reading like a machine, for some reason!). The one that likes crime fiction but gets irked when people get the name of her blog wrong (damppebbles, one word – no capitals)? Anything? No, well, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if you have forgotten me. I haven’t been very ‘present’ this month for which I apologise.

It’s been a bit of a funny one, truth be told. The half term holiday always slows my reading down but this half term I had to organise a rather last minute birthday party for my four-year-old on Valentine’s day because he was suddenly having grommets and a tonsillectomy on the Friday of half term week. Then, of course, we had a very sad little man for the following week which was complicated when hubby came home from work on the Monday with this darned ‘flu that’s going around at the moment. Grumpy man child plus grumpy man – not easy. Then as the husband is getting (gradually, slowly) better I come down with a vicious case of tonsillitis myself. Gah! That’s all I could say, by the way. GAH! So to cut this incredibly long and boring story short, I have been reading but finding the time (or, whilst ill myself) the inclination to sit down at the laptop and write a few reviews was near impossible. A grumpy Emma is probably ten times worse than a grumpy man child and a grumpy man put together, after all.  My apologies dear reader. I hope March will prove to be a jam-packed bookish month on the blog.

So, what did happen? I took part in FIVE blog tours during February:

All five stops were review stops:

Past Echoes by Graham Smith | Force of Nature by Jane Harper | The Reunion by Samantha Hayes | Kiss Me, Kill Me by J.S. Carol | The Pact by S.E. Lynes |

I managed one review for around publication day and that was for The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave.

the memory chamber

I still absolutely flipping love that cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?! And what a very different subject for a book. Worth checking out if you’re looking for something a bit different.

So now I hope you see why I am so disappointed with the number of blog posts I have published this month. A measly six, I mean….SIX!!

Two very gorgeous things did happen though. I was sent a fabulous Valentine’s Day gift from the lovely folk at Dead Good Books. Look at how magnificent it is – but I totally failed to acknowledge the delivery or share it on social media, harumph.  Thank you Dead Good Books, I absolutely love my gift! So many beautiful things 😍😍.  Dead Good are focussing on helping us all find a little more time for ourselves this year and see reading as the perfect way to do that.  I have to say, I couldn’t agree more!  Reading IS the perfect hobby to help us all relax a little more.

I also won the fabulous Bibliobeth‘s fifth blogiversary giveaway.  My prize was to pick any five books and Beth would get them sent to me!  Yup, you heard that right – ANY FIVE BOOKS!!  I spent A LOT of time deciding on the five and here they are in all their glory.  What do you think?  Have you read any of them?  My thanks again to Beth for her super giveaway.  Still thrilled to have won and it was a few weeks ago now!


In other news, I have been accepting books and blog tours like nobodies business so have made the decision to reset my year of tackling the TBR starting tomorrow – 1st March 2018.  If you missed my original post (aka failed plan) then click HERE.  No new books and limited blog tours allowed from now on until 1st March 2019!  Eek!

I think that’s about it for February.  All that’s left to do is name my book of the month…


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I had four five star reads this month so it was a tough choice but I have picked….

kiss me kill me

Kiss Me, Kill Me by J.S. Carol is my book of the month for February!  I love James Carol’s books, they always have a great hook which keeps me glued to the pages from start to finish.  And oh, the emotions I felt reading this one.  Talk about a mixed bag!

“It’s superb, incredibly entertaining and really quite disturbing in places. I was completely smitten with Carol’s characters in this novel but in quite different ways…I loved this book. Love, love, loved it!”

That’s it from me for February.  Make sure you pop back tomorrow when I will be joining the blog tour for Blue Night by Simone Buchholz.  Then on Friday I will be sharing my review of Stav Sherez’s The Intrusions as Stav and a bevvy of other fabulous authors will be appearing at First Monday Crime on Monday 5th March in London.  Make sure you grab a ticket now so you don’t miss out!

Wrap up warm lovely people, it’s a bit chilly here at the moment but with only a sprinkling of snow, and I will see you on the other side (or maybe I should just say ‘March’).


#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Pact by S.E. Lynes (@SELynesAuthor) @bookouture #ThePact

the pact.jpg“You made a promise to your sister. It could destroy your daughter.

The Daughter 
15-year-old Rosie lies in hospital fighting for her life. She’s trying to tell her mother what happened to her, and how she got there, but she can’t speak the words out loud. 

The Mother
Rosie’s mother Toni has a secret. She had a traumatic childhood, and she and her sister Bridget made each other a promise thirty years ago: that they could never speak the truth about what they went through as children, and that they would protect each other without asking for help from others, no matter what…

Rosie was Toni’s second chance to get things right: a happy, talented girl with her whole life ahead of her. Having lost her husband in a tragic accident, Toni has dedicated her life to keeping Rosie safe from harm. 

But Rosie has plans that her mother doesn’t know about. She has dreams and ambitions – of love, of a career, of a life beyond the sheltered existence that her mother has created for her. But the secrets Rosie has been keeping have now put her life in danger. 

The Pact
In order to save Rosie, Toni may have to break her lifelong promise to her sister… and open doors to her past she hoped would remain closed forever. 

The Pact is a chilling psychological thriller about the lies we will tell to save our children. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Apple Tree Yard and The Sister.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on The Pact blog tour, which I share with two fabulous bloggers; Jen over at Jen Med’s Book Reviews and Kaisha over at The Writing Garnet.  The Pact is written by one of my favourite authors, S.E. Lynes and was published today by Bookouture so I would like to take this opportunity to wish all involved a very happy publication day!  S.E. Lynes wrote one of my very favourite books of 2016, the incredible Valentina which put her well and truly on my radar as an author.  Last year Lynes signed a deal with the mighty Bookouture and published her first book with them, Mother, towards the end of 2017.  For a reminder of my review, please click HERE.

When I heard a second Bookouture release was in the pipeline from Susie Lynes I jumped at the chance to read it.  And flipping heck, I was not disappointed.  One of my favourite things about The Pact is how uneasy the reader feels from pretty much page one.  I felt very apprehensive, I could sense something wasn’t quite right with the picture Lynes was painting for me and I loved it!  If you’re a fan of suspense then this is a must-read.

We meet Toni, widowed mother of one teenage daughter, Rosie.  Rosie is a budding theatre star but lacks the confidence to push herself to the glittering heights others feel she could achieve.  Not helped by Toni, her overprotective mother.  Lending a more pragmatic and considered point of view to proceedings is Toni’s older sister, Bridget. Both Bridget and Toni have been through a lot; a traumatic childhood featuring unimaginable abuse for Toni, for Bridget the need to protect her sister from the horrors but feeling a constant failure.  That’s where the pact came in.  A promise made many years ago that no matter what, the two sisters would look after each other and not rely on the help of others.  But the pact could be the sisters undoing….

I absolutely loved Bridget.  She became a bit of a superhero for me and at times I found myself cheering her on as I read (thankfully this all happened in my head otherwise my family may have been giving me the odd strange look!).  I totally believed in Lynes’s characters; I could picture them, I could hear their dialogue in my head (more strange looks but from everyone reading this, this time haha!) and I truly felt for them.  I didn’t like Toni as much as I liked Bridget but that was due to her overbearing, smothering nature.

Lynes has cleverly used the vocabulary used by the ‘yoof’ of today along with text speak and emojis when writing Rosie’s interactions with friends.  All in all, this added to the believability factor making shy, naive young Rosie all the more real for me.  Throughout the pages of The Pact my heart broke for her in many different ways.

As usual, I was looking out for clues from the very start of the book and was able to see where a couple of storyline threads were heading.  Can I give you some advice?  Don’t do what I did.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it superbly gripping from start to finish despite being able to see where things were going.  I wonder how much it would have knocked my socks off if I hadn’t been doing that.  Really, don’t do what I did.  Read it with an open mind and see where Lynes takes you.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, definitely.  Very emotional, incredibly tense and a wonderful, wonderful read focussing on modern day fears and a parent’s worst nightmare.  I wanted to hide behind my hands at points whilst reading, peeking out from behind my splayed fingers.  Lynes is a very talented writer and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Pact by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 27th February 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

S E Lynes Author PhotoAfter graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BookReview: The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave (@HollyACave) @QuercusBooks #MemoryChamber

the memory chamber.jpg“YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. 


True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity re-living your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.

Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.

But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…”

Wow, what a fascinating read The Memory Chamber is.  Once again I have stepped a little out of my comfort zone for this book but I’m rather liking this new, less restricted approach I’ve got going on at the moment.  I like to think I’m broadening my horizons as a reader, what do you think?

The Memory Chamber is, by and large, a futuristic thriller.  An intricate, considered and somewhat addictive thriller.  But there were other genres nudging their way in.  A smidge of romance, a sprinkling of sci-fi (or if you prefer speculative fiction) and a scattering of techno-thriller.  An interesting combination and one that held my attention from start to finish.

Imagine if you never died.  Imagine, providing you have the money and the desire (of course!), that someone could preserve and sculpt your most precious memories which you would then live for all eternity.  Your body would be disposed of but your essence would be captured and locked away in a secure lab.  Reliving the moments that made you the happiest, over and over again.  That’s what Isobel does for a living.  She is a Heaven Architect and will design your perfect Heaven.  But when Isobel meets Jarek the last thing she expects is to fall in love with her client.  Her young, attractive, terminally ill, MARRIED client.  When Jarek’s wife is discovered murdered, Isobel is determined to prove his innocence at any cost and is thrown into a world of suspicion ultimately discovering not all is as she first believed…

If I had to come up with one word to describe The Memory Chamber it would be ‘fascinating’.  The idea of a synthetic Heaven totally piqued my interest and made me read every single word of this book, from start to finish.  Very much like the idea of my recent other ‘science fiction-y’ read, The Feed did.  I’m not normally one for romantic relationships in my stories but the spark between Isobel and Jarek was quite tantalising.  It certainly didn’t put me off finishing the book!  What I would have liked was a little more mystery, but then I’m a crime reader and that’s my thing!

You can’t help but want to talk to others about this book and the ethical questions it raises.  Is the idea of a self-designed Heaven something that appeals to you?  Or would you rather just take your chances and wait to see what’s on the other side?  It’s a very original and brave choice of subject matter by the author and she has handled it incredibly well.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  Particularly if you’re looking for something a bit different.  I found Isobel a little annoying at times, Jarek a little creepy but it all added to the reading experience for me.  And that cover, OH.MY.GOSH – how stunning is that?! Overall an absolutely fascinating journey and I look forward to seeing what Cave gives us next.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Memory Chamber.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave is published in the UK by Quercus Books on 22nd February 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow later this year (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

holly cave.jpgNow living in Bedford with my family, I’m a long way from my roots by the sea, in Torquay, Devon. But I’m a traveller at heart, so who knows how long we’ll stay?

Although my Dad was a writer, and we spent much of my childhood writing and telling stories, I never thought that I could make a career out of it. I studied Biology at Imperial College London, followed by a Masters in Science Communication. After four years as a Contemporary Content Producer at the Science Museum, I turned freelance, quit my job, and headed off on a round-the-world trip with my now-husband. It was the best thing I ever did.

On our journey, I finally found the headspace and time to write my first novel, The Generation, which I self-published a few years later. I built up my science writing portfolio on the road and came back a little bit poorer but ready to start again, this time without any fear of failure.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest |

Author image and bio © https://www.hollycave.co.uk/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Kiss Me Kill Me by J.S. Carol (@JamesCarolBooks) @BonnierZaffre #KissMeKillMe

kiss me kill me.jpg

How far would you go to escape the one you love?

When Zoe meets Dan, he’s everything she is looking for in a man – intelligent, charming, supportive.
It’s only after they’re married that she realises that he’s controlling, aggressive, paranoid.
And there’s no way out.

Or is there?

Zoe knows she has to escape, but Dan’s found her once before, and she knows he can find her again.
But Dan has plans of his own. Plans that don’t necessarily include Zoe.

Be careful who you trust . . .”

I am SUCH a fan of J.S. Carol’s writing. He’s one of my very favourite authors so when an unexpected delivery of book post arrived and his name was on the cover, I have to confess, I whooped for joy! And maybe did a little jig around the kitchen, but unless you have photographic evidence of that it’s not something I’m going to confess to anytime soon.

J. S. Carol is the author of the incredible Jefferson Winter series (click HERE for my review of the fourth book in the Jefferson Winter series, The Quiet Man) plus the awesome standalone thriller The Killing Game). As authors go, I think it’s safe to say that J. S. (or James) Carol is one of my all-time favourites. So I was a little giddy to have his latest release in my paws. So giddy I made a start on it almost straight away (which is kind of unheard of at damppebbles HQ. I regularly leave books on the shelf for large periods of time; some glaring at me, some giving me the eye!) Anyway, to cut to the chase, Kiss Me, Kill Me is published in eBook by Bonnier Zaffre on 22nd February (happy eBook publication day!) and in paperback towards the end of May 2018.

Zoe believes she has met the perfect man in Daniel. He’s everything she has always wanted in a partner. Life is pretty much perfect; Daniel is at her beck and call, he lavishes her with expensive and ornate gifts, and treats her as though she is the centre of his world. So when Daniel proposes, Zoe gleefully accepts. Life is good. They’re married, they’re in love and it’s everything Zoe has always wanted (plus he gives her time and space to write the novel she has wanted to pen for years). But a few weeks into married life things take an unexpected turn and Daniel suddenly starts to show his true colours. He becomes domineering, controlling and threatening. Zoe has no say, no control and no way out. Who can she trust? Who can she turn to, to escape the man she loves?

So, this book made me angry (in a ‘provoking a reaction or an emotion’ way). Reading the chapters set in the present day I was aghast at the way Daniel treated Zoe and in all honesty, it was making my blood boil. To the point where I had to put down Kiss Me, Kill Me on a couple of occasions and just walk away. Regular visitors to my blog will know that I read a lot of crime, which translates to a lot of bad people doing a lot of bad stuff, but this…! This despicable, deviant character with his callous, intimidating behaviour towards this poor woman who had been totally duped into marrying him. Well, this sort of plotline is obviously my breaking point. I felt sick to my stomach for Zoe, I wanted to reach into the pages and rescue her from her nightmare. Hats off to the author for provoking such a strong emotional response in me. Brilliantly written but oh my gosh, hard to read at times.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part is told from Zoe’s point of view; her day to day incarceration, her carefully measured and balanced diet, the way her clothes are laid out for her each and every day. The second part is told from Daniel’s perspective and drops a bombshell on the reader that you really don’t expect. I loved both of these sections. By this time, both Zoe and Daniel had gotten under my skin and I was pretty much obsessed with the pair of them. The third part lost a little of the ‘pull’ that the first two parts had, for me. It was still gripping and I was completely hooked but not in the same way as before.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It’s superb, incredibly entertaining and really quite disturbing in places. I was completely smitten with Carol’s characters in this novel but in quite different ways. There was one section where I could see what was coming but everything else took me completely by surprise. The ending was missing a few undotted i’s and a couple of uncrossed t’s, so it makes me wonder if we will see some of these characters again in a future novel. I certainly hope that is the case! I loved this book. Love, love, loved it!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Kiss Me, Kill Me. The above review is my own unbiased opinion. My thanks to Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre for inviting me to join the blog tour. Keep your eye on the blog next week when I will be featuring a Q&A from the man himself, J.S. Carol!

Kiss Me, Kill Me by J. S. Carol was published in the UK by Bonnier Zaffre on 22nd February 2018 in eBook format with the paperback to follow in May 2018 (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |


about the author3


J. S. Carol is the author of The Killing Game, which has been shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award. As James Carol, he has also written the bestselling Jefferson Winter series. Broken Dolls, the first of these, was published in 2014 to rave reviews and reached #1 on the Amazon fiction and thriller charts. In addition James is writing a series of eBooks set during Winter’s FBI days. Presumed Guilty is the first of these.

James lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children. When he’s not writing he can usually be found in a pair of headphones, recording and producing music.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Reunion by Samantha Hayes (@samhayes) @bookouture #TheReunion

the reunion cover.jpg“They were all there the day your sister went missing. 

Who is lying? Who is next?

THEN – In charge of her little sister at the beach, Claire allowed Eleanor to walk to the shop alone to buy an ice cream. Placing a coin into her hand, Claire told her to be quick, knowing how much she wanted the freedom.

Eleanor never came back.

NOW – The time has finally come to sell the family farm and Claire is organising a reunion of her dearest friends, the same friends who were present the day her sister went missing.

When another girl disappears, long-buried secrets begin to surface. One of the group hides the darkest secret of them all…

If you loved Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, this gripping psychological thriller packed full of twists and turns will be impossible to put down.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Reunion blog tour which I share with the fabulous Meggy over at Chocolate’n’Waffles.  The Reunion is written by Samantha Hayes and was published by Bookouture on 9th February 2018.

Tragedy struck Claire and her family one sunny day at the beach when her thirteen-year-old sister, Lenni went missing.  The family has suffered on a daily basis since that traumatic day, always hoping Lenni will find her way home, but secretly knowing that it is more likely Lenni died all those years ago.  Despite the heartbreak of the past, Claire still remembers her childhood fondly.  She is particularly fond of recounting how involved in her childhood her father was, how he was almost a surrogate father to many of her friends.  But Patrick, her father, is ill.  Having being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s all Claire and her family can do is watch their father fade away.  But Claire has an idea.  She plans to organise a reunion, an opportunity to talk, reminisce and remember the good times and hopefully help Patrick feel a little better, particularly as Patrick’s wife plans to sell the farm as soon as possible.  So Claire contacts her group of friends; Maggie her best friend, Jason her younger brother who has been estranged from the family for a number of years and Nick, her first love and the one who got away.  With the best intentions, she hopes to have a fun-filled week at the family’s idyllic Cornish farm remembering happy times.  But how long can the secrets remain hidden?  After all, the group of friends were all present that fateful day Lenni went missing.  And someone knows something…

I found The Reunion to be an interesting and enjoyable read.  It’s a slow burn of a tale and I enjoyed meeting Hayes’s strong cast of characters, soaking up the dramatic and dreamy setting and searching for the elusive clues as to what happened to Lenni on that heartbreaking day.  I must say, however, and I’m sure I will be in the minority on this one but Claire, our main protagonist, got on my nerves.  She came across to me as too eager, too darn subservient, and a little too naive for my tastes.  I also hated her husband, Callum, and was desperate for her to stand up to this misogynistic @rs3 of a man.  Grr.  But I always think that’s the sign of a good writer, someone who can make you feel real emotion whether it be positive or negative for their characters.  Other characters I absolutely loved.

The tagline of this book is ‘an utterly gripping thriller with a jaw-dropping twist’.  And oh my gosh, it is rather spectacular.  I didn’t see that coming at all and despite finishing reading The Reunion last week I am still living that twist on a fairly regular basis.  It’s the kind of shock to the system that I LOVE in my thrillers, plus it adds an extra dollop of darkness to the story.  Absolutely flipping brilliant!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s a strong psychological thriller with a killer twist.  Great characters, a breathtaking setting and if you like a slow build to a staggering conclusion then you will absolutely love it.  I would happily pick up another book written by Samantha Hayes and get lost in her words.

Four out of five stars.

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

The Reunion by Samantha Hayes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 9th February 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

samantha hayes.jpgSamantha Hayes grew up in a creative family where her love of writing began as a child. Samantha has written eight thrillers in total, including the bestselling Until You’re Mine. The Independent said “fantastically written and very tense” while Good Housekeeping said “Her believable psychological thrillers are completely gripping.” Samantha’s books are published in 22 languages at the last count.

When not writing, Samantha loves to cook, go to the gym, see friends and drink nice wine. She is also studying for a degree in psychotherapy. She has three grown-up children and lives in Warwickshire.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Force of Nature by Jane Harper (@janeharperautho) @LittleBrownUK @kimberleynyam #ForceOfNature

force of nature.jpg


Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Force of Nature blog tour. Author Jane Harper’s debut, The Dry, was such a hit among readers last year that many of us have been eagerly anticipating this second book in the Aaron Falk series. In fact, The Dry was a favourite on many ‘books of 2017’ lists and was mentioned several times as part of my #R3COMM3ND3D2017 feature. I read and reviewed The Dry towards the end of 2017 and thoroughly enjoyed the desolate small-town feeling Harper conveys in her writing, along with the struggle to cope during a long and exhaustive drought.

I guess the question is, was Force of Nature worth the wait? Oh yes. It was definitely worth the wait. I would go as far as saying I preferred Force of Nature to The Dry marginally. But then, I’m a sucker for survival stories. I devour books where we humans are pushed to our limits in the most extreme of circumstances.

Having read both of Jane Harper’s novels what stands out the most is how she excels at writing the landscape and setting of her tales. In The Dry we had drought-struck Kiewarra. In Force of Nature we have the Giralang Ranges with lots of wild, overgrown bushland ready and waiting to show you your worst nightmare!

Ten colleagues at BaileyTennants are pushed out of the comfort of the office and into the inhospitable and unforgiving wilderness. Two teams up against each other; five men and five women. The retreat, organised by professional outfit Executive Adventures is totally safe – after all, they’ve been doing this for years and haven’t had any problems (well, no major problems anyway). But when the group of women veer from the correct trail, they blunder further away from civilisation and closer to the hidden dangers of the bush. Tensions fray, accidents happen and food and water supplies rapidly dwindle. Then Alice goes missing. What happened to Alice? Has she made it back to base? Is she safe?

I loved the suspense of this novel. One of the best whodunnits I’ve read in a while. I was highly suspicious of all the characters from start to finish and oh my gosh, I couldn’t stop turning the pages! Federal Agent Aaron Falk and colleague Carmen are aware of Alice before she becomes a missing person. Without her employer’s knowledge, Alice has been assisting Falk in investigating BaileyTennants by providing the much-needed hard evidence. At least, as far as Falk was concerned business owners Daniel and Jill Bailey weren’t aware of their employees double-cross. But now with Alice missing, questions need to be asked. The author has created so many red herrings and double bluffs that the outcome could be any one of several different options. An incredibly well-written and dramatic piece of crime fiction.

Despite this book being part of the Aaron Falk series I personally felt the story wasn’t really about Falk. Yes, we do discover more about this intriguing character, more about his upbringing and his strained relationship with his father. But for me, my focus whilst reading was entirely on this disparate group of five women. They held my attention 100%. I adored the flashback sequences where the reader gets to see the uncomfortable friction between the colleagues. In fact, I think I preferred these sections to the chapters set during the search for Alice. I didn’t particularly like any of the women but I felt as though I was there, with them, tramping through the Australian bush.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. Force of Nature can easily be read as a standalone but why would you bother when you can also read the excellent The Dry. I loved the desolation, the gradual loss of hope emanating from Harper’s characters as they plunged deeper and deeper into unknown territory and the masterful way the suspense builds throughout the story. Atmospheric, unsettling and gripping from start to finish.

Five out of five stars.

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

Force of Nature by Jane Harper was published in the UK by Little, Brown on 8th February 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links)
| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Thursday 8th February

about the author3

jane harper.jpg

Jane Harper was born in Manchester in the UK, and moved to Australia with her family at age eight.

She spent six years in Boronia, Victoria, and during that time gained Australian citizenship.

Returning to the UK with her family as a teenager, she lived in Hampshire before studying English and History at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

On graduating, she completed a journalism entry qualification and got her first reporting job as a trainee on the Darlington & Stockton Timesin County Durham.

Jane worked for several years as a senior news journalist for the Hull Daily Mail, before moving back to Australia in 2008.

She worked first on the Geelong Advertiser, and in 2011 took up a role with the Herald Sun in Melbourne.

In 2014, Jane submitted a short story which was one of 12 chosen for the Big Issue‘s annual Fiction Edition.

That inspired her to pursue creative writing more seriously, and that year she applied for an online 12-week novel writing course.

She was accepted with a submission for the book that would become The Dry.

Jane lives in St Kilda with her husband and daughter.

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

Author image and bio © http://janeharper.com.au/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Past Echoes by Graham Smith (@GrahamSmith1972) @Bloodhoundbook #PastEchoes

Past Echoes 1.2_preview.jpeg

“Jake Boulder is back and he’s tasked with tracking down a man due to inherit a small fortune. Not only that, he must also reveal the secret which forced a young woman to flee New York some forty years ago. The evidence he needs is hidden in a safety deposit box and while Boulder has the key, the only clue he has for box’s location is a series of numbers etched onto the key and a mysterious list of names.

Boulder has his work cut out since he must also locate his estranged father, Cameron MacDonald, so that Cameron can donate bone marrow to Boulder’s half-brother John.

In a game of cat and mouse, he must solve the case and find the two men without alerting those who control New York’s underworld.

Can Boulder survive against both the mafia and a professional hitman, in what is his toughest case yet?”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Past Echoes blog blitz. Past Echoes is the third book in the Jake Boulder series, is written by Graham Smith and was published by Bloodhound Books on 1st February 2018. I am such a fan of this series. If you want an entertaining, action-packed read then pick up a Jake Boulder thriller. Just to prove my point, here are my reviews of book one Watching the Bodies and book two The Kindred Killers.

I was eagerly anticipating book three in the series, particularly as The Kindred Killers finished on such an explosive note. And oh boy, I was not disappointed. In my opinion, this is by far the best Jake Boulder book in the series so far. I was completely entranced from start to finish. The main plot point in Past Echoes reveals a more emotional side to this lean, mean, fighting machine. And, in a strange way, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Boulder’s softer side. Although it didn’t last very long and he was back to planning revenge missions and beating the ‘you know what’ out of people in no time!

Past Echoes starts by referring back to the events of The Kindred Killers. I asked myself whether this would hinder a new reader to the series, diving straight in with book three. It always helps when you start at the beginning of a series but I am well known for accidentally (sometimes on purpose *snigger*) starting part way through. My advice is, and will always be, start at the beginning. Watch the characters grow, find out their backstory. Don’t MISS anything. But, saying that, Past Echoes ‘could’ be read as a standalone but only because Smith does an excellent job of filling in the gaps for new readers. Although I can guarantee, if this is the first Jake Boulder book you pick up, you WILL want to read the first two in the series as well. Guaranteed!

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was the way the author sets up the story so you think it’s going to go in one particular direction. He then completely wrong-foots you so you’re suddenly on this unexpected, intense and utterly thrilling rollercoaster ride of terror and reading delight. I loved it.

Before I sign off I would like to mention one more thing. The inclusion of Cameron MacDonald, Boulder’s estranged father. A stroke of genius on the author’s part because if you didn’t love Boulder before, once you’ve met his @r5e of a father, you won’t be able to stop yourself from feeling a little for him. Cameron is the lowest of the low. He plays a key role in Past Echoes but I hope this is the last we see of him for some time. I always enjoy it when an author includes a character for us readers to hate. In this case, Cameron fits the bill perfectly. The tension, the unpleasantness MacDonald brings. Oooh, he’s a nasty piece of work…

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. Plus book one, plus book two. Buy the set, they’re superbly gripping with a lead character you can’t help but love. Easily Smith’s best Jake Boulder novel! I couldn’t tell whether Boulder was going to live, or die in a blaze of burning bullets and that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Raw, evocative and deliciously intense. I loved it!

Five out of five stars.

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

Past Echoes by Graham Smith was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 1st February 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |


about the author3

Graham Smith Author Pic

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and two novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

2018 will be a busy year for Graham as he has the third Jake Boulder being published and a Harry Evans novel and novella.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009.

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, eight attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |