#BookReview: Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines (@AJWaines) @Bloodhoundbook #DontYouDare

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“What if your daughter becomes your enemy?

When barmaid, Rachel, discovers her soon-to-be-married daughter, Beth, pinned down by a stranger in the pub cellar, Rachel lashes out in panic and the intruder ends up dead. In desperation, Rachel convinces Beth they should cover up the crime and go ahead with the planned wedding in one month’s time.

Rachel, however, has her own reasons for not involving the police.

Hiding their dreadful secret is harder than they both imagined and as the big day approaches and the lies multiply, Beth becomes a liability. Rachel looks on in dismay at the hen party when, after too many drinks, Beth declares she’s about to make a special announcement. But before Beth can say a word she disappears…

When two people share a chilling secret can both hold their nerve?”

I am a HUGE fan of A.J. Waines’ independently published series about clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby. Huge, I tell you! If you missed them the first time then here are my reviews of Inside the Whispers (book #1) and the more recent Lost in the Lake (book #2). So I was thrilled for A.J. (or Alison) when I heard she had secured a two-book deal with the independent crime fiction publisher, Bloodhound Books. The first book in that deal, Don’t You Dare, was published in the UK yesterday so a very happy (belated) book birthday to Alison and the team at Bloodhound Books!

Don’t You Dare has an eye-opening and really rather shocking first chapter which draws the reader into the story immediately. From then on in, I was hooked. We meet Rachel, mother to Beth who had her daughter at the tender age of 15. Beth is now in her early twenties and aspires to be an actor. But when Rachel walks into the pub where she works and finds her daughter being brutally attacked in the cellar, her instincts take over and she does everything (and anything) to protect her child. Including accidentally killing a man. Accidents happen though. After all, her daughter was being viciously attacked. Rachel lashed out to save Beth, she pushed the attacker, he fell and hit his head. Anyone would have done the same thing to save their child, right? Wrong, because Rachel convinces Beth that they need to lie about the accident and hide the body. And there the thread starts to unravel, destroying the most precious of relationships; the destruction of a mother and daughter…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’m ashamed to admit that I became quite addicted to watching things spiral out of control for Rachel and Beth. At times, I had the same feeling as watching a tense drama on the television (peeking out from behind my hands). I wanted to find out what was going to happen but at the same time, it was tough to watch the devastation one terribly bad decision could wreak on such a strong bond.

I struggled to like Beth. As a twenty-something young woman, she felt quite childish and selfish. It was all about her and her career but I guess many of us acted that way at that age. (To be honest, my early twenties seem so long ago it’s hard to remember!) Did I like Rachel? I’m not sure. I did at the start of the book but I think my feelings changed for her as the story progressed. Rachel makes some pretty crazy decisions throughout the story and I can *kind of* understand her reasoning for doing some of the things she does (not hiding a body though, I really can’t understand that! 😱).

There’s very little downtime for the reader in Don’t You Dare. The plot moves at an addictive pace and keeps the reader hooked, waiting for the next bombshell to hit or the suspense to mount even more. The ending was totally unexpected and did leave me a little baffled. I didn’t see it coming (and being me, I was looking for clues). I’m sitting here, writing this review asking myself, ‘Really?!’. But I do appear to be the only early reader who has commented on this so I’m putting it down to being ‘just me’!

Would I recommend this book? I would. Told in the voices of both Rachel and Beth, Don’t You Dare is a very readable, hard to put down psychological thriller. Full of devastating secrets, the reader watches from afar as lives shatter and relationships crumble. I REALLY enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the next book (be it a standalone psychological thriller or the next Dr Sam book) from the pen of A.J. Waines.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Don’t You Dare. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 8th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.

Authors Links: | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter |

#BookReview: Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley (@RebeccaJBradley) #DeadBlind #DIRayPatrick #Prosopagnosia

dfw-rb-db-cover-mid.jpg“How do you identify a ruthless killer when you can’t even recognise your own face in a mirror? 

Returning to work following an accident, Detective Inspector Ray Patrick refuses to disclose he now lives with face blindness – an inability to recognise faces.

As Ray deceives his team he is pulled into a police operation that targets an international trade in human organs. And when he attempts to bring the organisation down, Ray is witness to a savage murder. 

But it’s a killer he will never remember.

The pressure mounts as Ray attempts to keep his secret and solve the case alone. With only his ex-wife as a confidant he feels progressively isolated.

Can he escape with his career and his life intact?”

I recently had the pleasure of reading Fighting Monsters, the third book in the DI Hannah Robbins series written by ex-police detective turned author, Rebecca Bradley.  I said in my review of Fighting Monsters how it was the first full novel by Bradley which I had read.  I also said that I was keen to go back and read books one and two in that series, which (you’ve guessed it!) I haven’t done.  But, in an effort to redeem myself, I have just completed Dead Blind, a brand new standalone from Bradley with a fascinating lead character in DI Ray Patrick.

‘Why so fascinating?’, you may be asking.  DI Patrick was involved in a traumatic car accident whilst in pursuit of a killer.  The accident resulted in several badly broken bones, a colleague who is scarred for life (which he feels 100% responsible for) and a knock to the head.  Not just any old run-of-the-mill knock to the head though.  Prosopagnosia.  I obviously need to work on my knowledge of medical conditions as I had never heard of prosopagnosia.  Even in layman’s terms, I was a bit unsure what ‘face blindness’ actually meant for the sufferer.  Oh, the things I have learnt from reading this book.

At times my heart broke for Ray, the way he had to deal with situations that for the majority of us don’t require any real thought, things we take for granted; such as seeing your children, your partner, your friends and colleagues.  I couldn’t help but put myself in Ray’s shoes as he approached situations which he knew were going to cause him problems.  For example, any time he meets his long-term girlfriend. He knows it’s her because of her voice, her perfume, the smell of her shampoo, he recognises her clothes but when he looks at her face….nothing.  There is no connection there.  And imagine how difficult life would be if you were a senior police officer trying to catch a cold-blooded killer.  Someone only you’ve seen, someone who killed a young man in front of you and someone you now have to pick out of an identity parade.  This is the first time I have met a character with prosopagnosia and I thoroughly enjoyed what Bradley has done with him!

I liked Ray.  I wanted to thump him at times though.  I could see his reasons for wanting to keep his condition secret, and the story wouldn’t have had quite the same edge to it but flipping heck, man!  I would be terrified to tell my employer something like that too (although my employer is my children, and they’d probably just shrug and carry on squabbling over whose turn it was to choose a television programme!).  Sharing is caring, or something like that anyway!  What I did love was the bubbling, will they/won’t they between Ray and his ex-wife, Helen.  From Helen’s point of view, it seemed to be a fairly certain ‘they really won’t’ but I was never 100% sure, I *think* she could be tempted to rekindle her love affair with Ray, just for old times sake.  I’m not a fan of any kind of romantic liaison in my crime reads but this one could be interesting…

The investigation Ray and his team were carrying out was an interesting one.  This book is so much more about the characters rather the investigation, which was a rather pleasing change.  After all, we know whodunit fairly early on.  It’s just whether Ray can get his identifiers lined up in time to catch the killer, and exactly how long he can keep his condition a secret for…

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I really enjoyed it and hope (fingers crossed) that Bradley has lots more adventures in store for Ray and his team.  I want to read more about these characters; they intrigue me.  I will be sad if my path doesn’t cross with DI Ray Patrick’s again.  If you’re a fan of a character-driven police procedural then make sure you pick up a copy of Dead Blind.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, with Rebecca Bradley at the helm you get a certain amount of realism that others fail to achieve.  Her experience as a police detective adds so much to the detail of the story.  Slick, absolutely fascinating and very readable.  Great stuff.

Four out of five stars.

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

Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley was published in the UK on 8th May 2018 and is available in eBook format (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about the author3

rebecca bradleyI live in Nottinghamshire with my family and two Cockapoos Alfie and Lola, who keep me company while I write. I need to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if I could, I would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

After 16 years service, I was recently medically retired from the police service where I finished as a detective constable on a specialist unit.

My first crime novel, Shallow Waters is set in Nottingham. The lead protagonist is DI Hannah Robbins. Because the novel is written in first-person narrative you get a pretty good feel for who she is.

I blog about my writing, policing, social media, occasionally the above disorders and anything else that springs to mind. It’s a loosely connected place inside my head and it’s possible anything could come out. I would genuinely love to see you around and to hear your thoughts.

To keep up-to-date with all news, receive exclusive content, updates, and giveaways, sign up to the mailing list HERE.

Author Links: | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter |

Author Image and Bio © http://www.rebeccabradleycrime.com/about/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Retreat by Mark Edwards (@mredwards) #ThomasandMercer #TheRetreat

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“A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.”

The warmest of welcomes to damppebbles today and to my stop on The Retreat blog tour. The Retreat is the latest release from one of my favourite authors, Mark Edwards, and is available to purchase from 10th May onwards. You can catch my reviews of some of Mark’s previous books by clicking the following links (be warned, there may be a spot of fangirling): Follow You Home, The Devil’s Work & The Lucky Ones (I have read more than these three, but they were pre-blog so no reviews to share. Shame on me!).

Normally, after finishing one of this author’s books, I sit back and think, ‘Wow, could that happen to me!?’. I didn’t do that this time, which is probably something I should be relieved about. The story felt a little more ‘fictional’ than others before it, but that’s neither here nor there. This is another fantastic addition to Mark Edwards’s catalogue of outstanding psychological thrillers. How does he do it?! Time and time again! (Honestly, if you’ve never read anything by this author then you are seriously missing out!).

You may know me as a die-hard crime fan but I’m also a massive fan of the horror genre and The Retreat is billed as a psychological thriller with a horror twist. If the word ‘horror’ puts you off then don’t fret, it’s a not a gruesome, gory slasher fest (which I love, by the way). The horror is provided by a small community’s fear of its own fables. A myth handed down through the generations, from parent to trusting, mesmerised child about a witch; the Red Widow. The Retreat shows the reader the terrifying consequences of an urban legend, and the uncomfortable power an adult has over a child’s beliefs to tease…and terrify. And ultimately, what terrible damage can be done.

Lucas Radcliffe is our main protagonist and possibly my favourite lead in a book ever. He’s a horror writer, recently bereaved after the horrific death of his girlfriend and following his one bestseller is struggling to get anything he’s even remotely proud of down on paper. That’s why a trip to Nyth Bran, a new writers retreat seems like such a good idea. Particularly as it is just down the road from where he grew up as a child and he knows Beddmawr fairly well. That’s where he meets Julia, widowed owner of the writers retreat and mother of missing daughter, Lily. Life hasn’t been kind to Julia; her daughter disappeared and was believed to have drowned in the River Dee, her husband leapt in to save his daughter only to drown himself. Julia firmly believes that Lily is still alive and convinces Lucas who sets out on his own mission to find the truth. That’s when the strangest things start happening at Nyth Bran and to the residents of Beddmawr…

Most of the chapters in the book are narrated in real time, but every so often the reader gets to hear from Lily before she went missing back in 2014. I thoroughly enjoyed these chapters and marvelled at how well Edwards managed to replicate an 8-year-old girls voice (I have a 7-year-old daughter myself so feel I’m fairly well qualified to comment!).

Would I recommend this book? I would. Read this and every single other book written by Mark Edwards as I can guarantee, you will not be disappointed. If you’re looking for a book to make you feel a little on edge, a book to take you to places you never imagined and to witness deeds you never foresaw, then give The Retreat a go. Such a compelling, well-written and accomplished book and one I devoured in just over 24 hours. Mark Edwards remains one of my very favourite authors and can’t seem to do anything wrong in my eyes.

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

The Retreat by Mark Edwards was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 10th May 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please be aware, the following links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.

His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date. This was followed by What You Wish For (2014), Because She Loves Me (2014; also a No.1 bestseller in the UK) and Follow You Home(2015).

He also co-writes with Louise Voss. Their novels are: Killing Cupid (2011); Catch Your Death (2011); All Fall Down (2012); Forward Slash and a series featuring Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon, starting with From the Cradle (2014) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). Read more about Voss & Edwards.

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.

When he’s not writing or looking after children, Mark reads a lot, devours TV box sets and spends far too much time on Twitter and Facebook, where he loves chatting with readers. He also wishes he had more time to do the activity he loves most: karaoke.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: Pressure by Betsy Reavley (@BetsyReavley) @BloodhoundBook #Pressure

Betsy Reavley - Pressure_cover_high res.jpg“When the submarine departed, none of the ten people on board knew it would turn into a nightmare.

Trapped on the sunken vessel on the bottom of the ocean and unable to escape, one of them is discovered dead. The tension escalates as the survivors realise there is a murderer among them, who is preparing to strike again and again…

With mounting desperation, people begin to turn on each other. While they struggle to identify who is responsible, each must contend with their own past, the claustrophobia and the secrets they are hiding. 

But who is who?  And which of them will be next to die? 

Below the surface, the pressure is building and time is running out…”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Pressure blog blitz.  Pressure is the latest release from author and entrepreneur, Betsy Reavley.  I absolutely fell in love with the magnificent The Optician’s Wife, one of Reavley’s earlier releases which, if you haven’t read yet then you really should get yourself a copy!  My love for The Optician’s Wife always makes Betsy Reavley’s books something to look forward to for me.  Pressure is published today so a very happy book birthday to Betsy and the team at Bloodhound Books.

I found Pressure to be lots of fun; lots of blood-soaked, terrifying, ‘impending sense of doom’ fun.  My absolute favourite type!  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I am a sucker for crime/horror crossover books (I flipping LOVE them!).  And although this isn’t really a horror novel I had that feeling while reading, that fear in the pit of my stomach, that uncertainty and that glorious unease a good horror book can give to its reader.  What you may not know about me is that I am a terrible claustrophobic; I can’t even play ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ at my children’s birthday parties as having my eyes covered makes me panic.  If like me you tend to suffer from an intense fear of confined spaces then Pressure should probably come with a health warning.  It’s about a submarine.  Not only is it about a submarine, it’s about a submarine which fails and sinks to the ocean floor with ten people onboard.  And one of them is a murderer, slowly killing the others off, one by one.

I loved the setup of this book.  I’m a huge fan of stories where the characters are trapped, with little to no chance of escape and one sadistic soul is offing them in disturbing and unique ways.  Parts of Pressure reminded me of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None with a cast of devilish characters hiding their dastardly secrets from the rest of the world.  I spent my time reading Pressure and ATTWN not being sure who the murder was.  Reavley has done a masterful job of throwing in some very convincing red herrings along the way and boy, did I fall for them!

Each chapter is either told from a child’s perspective, told in real-time as the bodies mount on the submarine or, is one of the characters giving a brief snapshot into their background, a fleeting glimpse into their past and often the wrongs they have committed.  The chapters narrated by the child are hard-hitting and difficult to read at times.  The unknown narrator tells a tale of extreme abuse, of a mother’s hatred for their child and of a life lived very much alone.  As the child grows into a young adult the reader gets to see how this horrific abuse has contributed towards and helped cause unending damage to this young mind (nature or nurture, I’m not sure).

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It was a compelling read and just the sort of book I love to lose myself in.  Being really rather grisly in places just added to the enjoyment for me.  As I progressed towards the end I was starting to feel a sense of disappointment, I believed I had guessed what was going to happen next and it wasn’t what I would have chosen.  But I was wrong, and the ending couldn’t have been better.

Four stars out of five.

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

Pressure by Betsy Reavley was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 4th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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about the author3

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Author of  The Quiet Ones, The Optician’s Wife, Frailty, Carrion, Beneath the Watery Moon and the poetry collection The Worm in the Bottle. Betsy was born in Hammersmith, London.

As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire.

She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer.

In her early twenties she moved to Oxford, where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller.

Betsy says “I believe people are at their most fascinating when they are faced by the dark side of life. This is what I like to write about.”

Betsy Reavley currently lives in London, with her husband, 2 children, dog, cat and chickens.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |