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

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“When children grow up, the parents must die

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: Purged by Peter Laws @AllisonandBusby #Purged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links:FacebookTwitterInstagram |

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

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

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

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

NOW
Edie or Heather?
Heather or Edie?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: Twitter|