20 Books of Summer Challenge 2019 #20BooksofSummer2019 #amreading #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer2019

Call me a glutton for punishment but after my complete failure to get anywhere near completing Cathy’s #20BooksofSummer challenge (check out her BRILLIANT blog at 746 Books) last year I’m going to take the plunge and try again this Summer. But, having realised that compared to many bloggers I am a slow reader, and having realised that for 6 of the 13 weeks I have two small people running about the house screaming for my undivided attention, maybe 20 books in 13 weeks was a bit of a big ask. Fifteen books, however, feels a little more manageable. So this year I will be aiming to read 15 glorious books over the Summer months.

If you have a superbly good memory then you may recognise some of the following titles from my 2018 challenge (still not read a year on *book blogger guilt!*). It was a joy to choose my 15 books and I could have easily picked more but rules is rules! I’ve chosen 5 physical books and the rest have been sitting on my NetGalley for aeons gathering dust. I have a plan though. Read the physical copies first as they will be easier when the kids aren’t at home all the time and then move onto the ebook copies for the Summer Holidays. I have put some thought into this despite how it looks, lol!

Halcyon by Rio Youners
Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan
Scrublands by Chris Hammer
The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

Bird Box by Josh Malerman
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
Yesterday by Felicia Yap
Stone Cold Heart by Caz Frear
Halfway by B.E. Jones

The Proposal by S.E. Lynes
The Mayfly by James Hazel
The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore

So there we have it! My fifteen beautiful books in all of their shimmery, shining glory. Have you read any of them? Which ones did you love? Are you taking part in the challenge this year? I’d love to see your books so please feel free to leave a link to your challenge post in the comments!

I think they’re a good mix of dark, dark and a bit more dark which should suit me down to the ground, lol! At the time of writing this post, I have absolutely no reading commitments whatsoever for the remainder of the year so I ‘should’ in theory be able to do this (in theory…..).

If you would like to join in with the challenge too then there’s still plenty of time as we don’t kick off until 1st June. Go on, give it a try. How hard can it be, right…? ūüėČ

Wish me luck and I’ll see you on the other side!

15 books of summer

Advertisements

#FirstMondayCrime: The Panel – June 2019 #BlindDatewithaBook @1stMondayCrime #damppebbles @TimWeaverBooks @TheAngelaClarke @doug_johnstone @HaningtonPhan

Hello bookish friends! I hope you’re starting to get ‘that Summer feeling’ with the lovely warm weather we’re having at the moment in the UK (I’m sure if you live outside the UK you’re very used to warm weather but it’s something us Brits rejoice in whenever the temperature rises about 12 degrees!).

What better way to celebrate the arrival of Summer (however brief it is this year!) than with an evening of crime fiction – First Monday crime fiction at that!¬†Sounds like a perfect plan to me.¬† June’s First Monday will be the last before the hardworking team take a small siesta before returning in the Autumn, so don’t miss out.¬† And there’s an extra special bookish treat in June with the return of fan favourite, Blind Date with a Book.¬† Find the perfect book to take on your holibobs with you!¬† You can either visit this page¬†to reserve your FREE ticket or scroll down for more information.

Let’s see what bookish delights the team have in store for us on Monday 3rd June…

tim weaver.pngTim Weaver is the Sunday Times bestselling author of ten thrillers, including I Am Missing and You Were Gone. Weaver has been nominated for a National Book Award, selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, and shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library award. He is also the host and producer of the chart-topping Missing podcast, which features experts in the field discussing missing persons investigations from every angle. A former journalist and magazine editor, he lives near Bath with his wife and daughter.

LowResS01_Angela_Clarke_064_V02-213x300.jpg

Angela Clarke is the¬†Sunday Times¬†bestselling author of the Social Media Murders series. Her debut¬†Follow Me¬†was named Amazon’s Rising Star Debut of the Month, longlisted for the CWA’s Dagger in the Library, and shortlisted for the Good Reader Page Turner Award. Angela has appeared on CBS Reality’s¬†Written In Blood, on stage for BBC Edinburgh Fringe and on BBC News 24’s Ouch comedy special¬†Tales From the Misunderstood, at Noirwich, Camp Bestival, Panic! (in partnership with the Barbican, Goldsmiths University and the¬†Guardian), at City University, at HM Prisons, and she hosts BBC 3 Counties¬†Tales From Your Life, and the Womens’ Radio Station Three Books show. She won the Young Stationers’ Prize 2015 for achievement and promise in writing. A sufferer of EDS III, Angela is passionate about bringing marginalised voices into publishing. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

doug-johnstone1-2012-pic-credit-chris-scott-smaller-file.jpg

Doug Johnstone is an author, journalist and musician based in Edinburgh. He’s had eight novels published, most recently Crash Land. His previous novel, The Jump, was a finalist for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his other novels have been award winners and bestsellers, and he’s had short stories published in numerous anthologies and literary magazines. His work has been praised by the likes of Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Irvine Welsh. Several of his novels have been optioned for film and television. Doug is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow. He’s worked as an RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University, taught creative writing at Strathclyde University and William Purves Funeral Directors. He mentors and assesses manuscripts for The Literary Consultancy and regularly tutors at Moniack Mhor writing retreat. Doug has released seven albums in various bands, and is the drummer for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He also reviews books for The Big Issue magazine, is player-manager for Scotland Writers Football Club and has a PhD in nuclear physics.

peter-hannington-headshot
Peter Hanington is the author of A Dying Breed and A Single Source. He has worked as a journalist for over twenty-five years, including fourteen years at the Today Programme and more recently The World Tonight and Newshour on the BBC World Service. He lives in London with his wife and has two grown-up children.


And overseeing everything will be Jake Kerridge. Not to be missed, I’m sure you’ll agree! The event will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 3rd June¬†at¬†
City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Whisper Man by Alex North @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 #TheWhisperMan #damppebbles

the whisper man.jpg“If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window…”

Hello bookish friends Рwelcome to the blog and to my stop on The Whisper Man blog tour.  The Whisper Man by Alex North is set to be published by Michael Joseph in hardcover, audio and eBook formats on 13th June, with the paperback to follow later in the Summer.  Let me tell you now, this is a book you need to get a copy of!  I received a free ARC copy of The Whisper Man but this has in no way influenced my review.

Well, this is an absolutely cracking read and a strong contender for my book of the year!¬† You know when you see a book and you just know, without any shadow of a doubt, that you’re going to LOVE it.¬† That happened to me at a crime fiction festival last year when I won a book.¬† I could choose between this and another title.¬† A very naughty publicist (who shall remain nameless) talked me into taking a different book against my better judgement and since then I have been hankering after a copy of¬†The Whisper Man.¬† I haven’t read the other book yet, by the way, and it’s got some awesome reviews.¬† I was drawn to this one though and should have gone with my gut!

This a wonderfully creepy and dark read which I powered through – probably quicker than anything else I’ve read this year.¬† There’s a definite horror vibe about it which just added to my overall enjoyment of the book.¬† But what I loved most were our lead characters, Tom and Jake, who absolutely shone from the pages.¬† Tom and his 7-year-old son, Jake, don’t have the easiest of relationships.¬† Rebecca; wife, mother and the glue which held the family together, died suddenly leaving the pair of them to fend for themselves.¬† Jake discovered his mum’s body slumped at the bottom of the stairs.¬† Something that would traumatise most adults. He misses his mum terribly and has a new found fear of the stairs.¬† Which is why Tom decides a fresh start is what they need.¬† They leave the painful memories and the frightening stairs behind and move to the sleepy village of Featherbank.¬† But Featherbank has a dark past of its own.¬† The Whisper Man killed a number of young boys fifteen years ago.¬† And now another boy has gone missing.¬† Bewildered by Jake’s behaviour normally, Tom is even more confused when Jake starts acting even stranger…

I absolutely loved this book and will be sending people barmy by recommending it all of the time!¬† The characters are just superb.¬† I loved Tom and my heart ached for little Jake (I have kids around the same age) but there are other equally as brilliant characters in this book.¬† I have to mention DI Pete Willis who I adored.¬† A man with many regrets and forever searching for the one boy he couldn’t find.¬† He has a troubled past which he tortures himself with on a daily basis and deals with an addiction which he takes one step at a time.¬† Then there’s Frank Carter, an evil psychopath who revels in his past as The Whisper Man and who longs to be remembered for what damage he did.¬† Brilliant, just brilliant!

You need this book in your life.¬† It’s brilliantly creepy, edgy and chock full of surprises.¬† I was totally smitten from the moment I read the first page.¬† The characters are outstanding, the plot hooks you in in a matter of minutes and the writing is just sublime.¬† Not forgetting the seemingly-quaint yet overwhelmingly sinister setting of Featherbank.¬† This book has definitely left its mark on me.¬† I loved it and it’s going to take something extra special to knock it off the top spot.

Would I recommend this book? You have to ask…?!¬† Most definitely.¬† It gave me chills and made my heart ache for Tom, Jake and their struggling relationship.¬† Full of some of the most memorable characters I have ever met in a book – I loved it (do say if I’m repeating myself!).¬† Completely unforgettable, impossible to put down and absolutely everything I want from a book.¬† I am in love.

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

The Whisper Man by Alex North was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 13th June 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats with the paperback to follow in August (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

Whisper Man Blog Tour Banner

about-the-author3

Alex North was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and prior to becoming a writer he worked there in their sociology department.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor @ZaffreBooks #TheDangerousKind #damppebbles #1in100People @Tr4cyF3nt0n

the dangerous kind

“Perfect for fans of Anatomy of A Scandal, He Said/She Said, and Belinda Bauer,The Dangerous Kind is at once a gripping thriller and a stunning portrayal of the monsters that live among us.

One in 100 of us is a ‘potentially dangerous person’ – someone likely to commit a violent crime. We all know them: these charmers, liars and manipulators. The ones who send prickles up the back of our neck. These people hide in plain sight, they can be teachers, doctors, holding positions of trust, of power.

Jessamine Gooch makes a living tracking the 1 in 100. Each week she broadcasts a radio show that examines brutal offences, asking if more could have been done to identify and prevent their perpetrators.

But when she agrees to investigate a missing person case involving a young mother, she is drawn into a web of danger that will ultimately lead to the upper echelons of power, and threaten the safety of her own family.”

Woah, that was one hell of a ride!

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Dangerous Kind blog tour. The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor and was published in hardback on 16th May 2019 by Zaffre Books. I received a free ARC of this book but that has in no way influenced my review.

I need to rewind a little here first. Back in June 2016, a mere six months into my ‘career’ (if I can call it that!) as a book blogger, I was invited to join a blog tour for a debut Bonnier Zaffre author and her book, My Husband’s Son. I wasn’t able to review at the time (although I did at a later date) so offered to host a guest post instead. And what a guest post it was. It nearly broke my poor little WordPress blog. It still, to this day, gets regular hits. Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it before: The Bugaboo in the hall: Does having kids make it harder to be a writer? It’s so heartfelt, so wonderfully honest and I fell a little bit in love with it.

But what a gigantic leap Deborah O’Connor has made from her terrific debut to this, her latest book which is being billed as the thriller of the year. Uncomfortable, unsettling and so incredibly different to what came before. It’s a dark tale and, I’ll be perfectly honest, I found it hard to read at times due to the distressing subject matter but blimey – what a book! The Dangerous Kind is a multi-layered story of modern times and the terrible, destructive things adults can do. A highly emotional read but one which will stay with me for time to come.

Jessamine Gooch is a radio broadcaster who hosts a late night crime show. Potentially Dangerous People takes a retrospective look at past crimes and asks if it was possible to stop the act from being committed. Were there warning signs in the perpetrator’s behaviour? Could measures have been taken to intervene and stop the violence before the atrocity took place? Jessamine is a well-known broadcaster so she isn’t surprised when she is cornered outside Broadcasting House by a fan. Except the fan wants more than an autograph. Her friend, Cassie Scolari, has gone missing. Cassie’s husband has a history of abuse and Marnie is convinced he has something to do with Cassie’s sudden disappearance. Jessamine knows not to get involved, although her curiosity is piqued. She can’t help but wonder what happened to Cassie when life changes dramatically for her. With time on her hands, Jessamine starts to dig into Cassie’s past only to make some startling discoveries. Focussing on her investigation, Jessamine neglects to notice that her own daughter, Sarah, is starting a dangerous relationship of her own…

Chapters are told either in the modern day, in a specific character’s voice, or are flashback chapters set in the early 00s. The flashback chapters, which are mostly narrated by Rowena, are harrowing and the ones I found the most difficult to read. Although my heart broke on several occasions, O’Connor has pitched it just right. I was disgusted by the goings-on, yet I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. However, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The subject matter is distressing but the author has masterfully told her story in a compelling, sympathetic and non-gratuitous way. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, O’Connor has made such a massive leap from her debut to The Dangerous Kind. This book gave me shivers and has left its mark on me for a long time to come. Oh, how I wept at one particular scene (I can feel myself welling up just typing this). The Dangerous Kind is an incredibly brave piece of fiction and absolutely devastating. Superb!

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 16th May 2019 and is available in hardback, audio and ebook format (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

Deborah O Connor Blogtour FINAL

about-the-author3

deborah o'connor.jpg

Deborah O’Connor read English at Newnham College, Cambridge before going on to become a television producer. Having worked on everything from The Big Breakfast to Big Brother she produced the BAFTA award-winning poetry documentary Off By Heart and is currently the head of factual development at TV production company, CPL.

Born and bred in the North-East of England, she now lives in East London with her husband and three-year-old daughter.

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #YourDeepestFear #damppebbles

Your Deepest Fear

“‘Sara! Remember! Victoria and Albert. All I can say. They’re here. They’re-‘

These are the last words Sara Prior will ever hear from her husband.

As DS Nathan Cody struggles to make sense of the enigmatic message and solve the brutal murder, it soon becomes clear that Sara is no ordinary bereaved wife. Taking the investigation into her own hands, Sara is drawn into a world of violence that will lead her in a direction she would never have suspected.

For Cody, meanwhile, things are about to get personal in the darkest and most twisted ways imaginable . . .”

The warmest of welcomes to the blog today and to my stop on the Your Deepest Fear blog tour which is also publication day! Wishing David Jackson and the Zaffre team the happiest of publication days. Your Deepest Fear is available to purchase in hardcover and eBook today! I received a free eARC of the book but that has in no way influenced my review.

If you’re new to damppebbles then there is one thing you should know. I LOVE (LOVE, LOVE!) the DS Nathan Cody series from David Jackson. It’s one of my two absolute favourite, must read, OMG there’s a new book coming out – put life on hold, series. I have been a huge fan of Cody and Jackson’s brilliant writing, since the first book. You can check out my reviews of the first three here: A Tapping at My Door, Hope to Die and Don’t Make a Sound.

I’ve given every single book in this series five out of five stars so far, so that’s a lot of pressure on Your Deepest Fear. I won’t keep you in suspense; this is another blinder of a novel which I devoured. And, of course, another cracking five-star read. You just can’t go wrong with the DS Cody series.

I love the relationship between DS Cody and his DC, Megan Webley. The plots Jackson selects for his books are always exciting and total page-turners, but his characters (and I’m including the supporting characters here too) are absolutely outstanding. They live and breathe in my head as Jackson paints the scene for me. Cody and Webley are my absolute favourite fictional crime-fighting duo – without a doubt.

The pair have been through a lot together (including being a couple at one point) and the chemistry between them really adds to the books. I did miss Megan a little in Your Deepest Fear. She was very much present and part of the main storyline but the focus of the novel meant that the interaction between the two wasn’t at the forefront of the story. Flipping heck, this one was Cody’s battle and oh boy, he fought it alone.

And what a battle it was! If you’re new to this series then Your Deepest Fear can be read as a standalone as Jackson provides enough background that new readers should have a good idea of what has gone before. But by coming straight in at book four you will be missing out. Do yourself a favour and just purchase all four books in the series in one hit (it must be payday soon, right?). You can thank me later ūüėČ.¬† Anyway, I digress.¬† Cody has a battalion of evil little demons which have been gnawing away at his mental health and hanging over him like a rather unwelcome storm cloud since book one.¬† I feel¬†Your Deepest Fear is the book readers of this series have been waiting for a while now as Cody is put into some pretty frightening situations and has to face up to the fact that his life will never be the same again.¬† He also to make some pretty horrific decisions so we get to see the kind of man he really is. I was on the edge of my seat throughout and read with trepidation.¬† I had everything crossed that Cody would come out of the end of this book in one piece.¬† Does he? Well, you’ll have to find that out for yourself.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, and all of the other books in the series as well.¬† If you’re a crime fiction fan then you need these books in your life.¬† This is another gripping addition to a thoroughly enjoyable, top-notch series.¬† I would even go as far as saying this is the best book in the series (despite the lack of Megan Webley).¬† Highly, highly recommended.

I chose to read and review Your Deepest Fear.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 16th May 2019 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow later this year (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Waterstones | Goodreads |

David Jackson Blogtour Poster 2

about-the-author3

david jacksonI was a latecomer to fiction writing, having spent most of my adult life producing academic papers and reports. After some limited success entering short story competitions, I submitted the first few chapters of a novel to the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Awards. To my great surprise, the book was not only short-listed but given the Highly Commended accolade, which stimulated the interest of agents and publishers and eventually led to the publication of PARIAH. Since then, I have written several more crime thrillers, the most recent of which are set in my birth city of Liverpool. I still have a day job in Liverpool as a university academic, but now live on the Wirral with my wife, two daughters and a British Shorthair cat called Mr Tumnus.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BookReview: The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor @ZaffreBooks @1stMondayCrime #TheDangerousKind #damppebbles

the dangerous kind.jpg

“Perfect for fans of Anatomy of A Scandal, He Said/She Said, and Belinda Bauer,The Dangerous Kind is at once a gripping thriller and a stunning portrayal of the monsters that live among us.

One in 100 of us is a ‘potentially dangerous person’ – someone likely to commit a violent crime. We all know them: these charmers, liars and manipulators. The ones who send prickles up the back of our neck. These people hide in plain sight, they can be teachers, doctors, holding positions of trust, of power.

Jessamine Gooch makes a living tracking the 1 in 100. Each week she broadcasts a radio show that examines brutal offences, asking if more could have been done to identify and prevent their perpetrators.

But when she agrees to investigate a missing person case involving a young mother, she is drawn into a web of danger that will ultimately lead to the upper echelons of power, and threaten the safety of her own family.”

Woah, that was one hell of a ride!

Welcome my bookish friends to damppebbles. What are your plans for Tuesday? Nothing exciting? Then why don’t you head on over to First Monday Crime (on a Tuesday!) in London and hang out with some fabulous crime authors and brilliant book lovers? Appearing this month for your delectation are Chris Carter, Deborah O’Connor, Mark Billingham, Vanda Symon and Laura Wilson. It’s every crime fiction fans dream come true (well, it’s mine anyway ūüėć). More details to follow on the event after I’ve tried to put into words how I felt about Deborah O’Connor’s brilliant new thriller, The Dangerous Kind (or click here).

I need to rewind a little here first. Back in June 2016, a mere six months into my ‘career’ (if I can call it that!) as a book blogger, I was invited to join a blog tour for a debut Bonnier Zaffre author called Deborah O’Connor and her book, My Husband’s Son. I wasn’t able to review at the time (although I did at a later date) so offered to host a guest post instead. And what a guest post it was. It nearly broke my poor little WordPress blog. It still, to this day, gets regular hits. Here’s the link if you haven’t seen it before: The Bugaboo in the hall: Does having kids make it harder to be a writer? It’s so heartfelt, so wonderfully honest and I fell a little bit in love with it.

But what a gigantic leap O’Connor has made from her terrific debut to this, her latest book which is being billed as the thriller of the year. Uncomfortable, unsettling and so incredibly different to what came before. It’s a dark tale and, I’ll be perfectly honest, I found it hard to read at times due to the distressing subject matter but blimey – what a book! The Dangerous Kind is a multi-layered story of modern times and the terrible, destructive things adults can do. A highly emotional read but one which will stay with me for time to come.

Jessamine Gooch is a radio broadcaster who hosts a late night crime show. Potentially Dangerous People takes a retrospective look at past crimes and asks if it was possible to stop the act from being committed. Were there warning signs in the perpetrator’s behaviour? Could measures have been taken to intervene and stop the violence before the atrocity took place? Jessamine is a well-known broadcaster so she isn’t surprised when she is cornered outside Broadcasting House by a fan. Except the fan wants more than an autograph. Her friend, Cassie Scolari, has gone missing. Cassie’s husband has a history of abuse and Marnie is convinced he has something to do with Cassie’s sudden disappearance. Jessamine knows not to get involved, although her curiosity is piqued. She can’t help but wonder what happened to Cassie when life changes dramatically for her. With time on her hands, Jessamine starts to dig into Cassie’s past only to make some startling discoveries. Focussing on her investigation, Jessamine neglects to notice that her own daughter, Sarah, is starting a dangerous relationship of her own…

Chapters are told either in the modern day, in a specific character’s voice, or are flashback chapters set in the early 00s. The flashback chapters, which are mostly narrated by Rowena, are harrowing and the ones I found the most difficult to read. Although my heart broke on several occasions, O’Connor has pitched it just right. I was disgusted by the goings-on, yet I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. However, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The subject matter is distressing but the author has masterfully told her story in a compelling, sympathetic and non-gratuitous way. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, O’Connor has made such a massive leap from her debut to The Dangerous Kind. This book gave me shivers and has left its mark on me for a long time to come. Oh, how I wept at one particular scene (I can feel myself welling up just typing this). The Dangerous Kind is an incredibly brave piece of fiction and absolutely devastating. Superb!

I received a free ARC of The Dangerous Kind but this has not influenced my review in any way.

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 16th May 2019 and is available in hardback, audio and ebook format (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

First Monday Crime:
Deborah O’Connor will be joining the panel for May’s First Monday Crime event on TUESDAY 7th May 2019. Deborah will be appearing alongside Chris Carter, Mark Billingham, Vanda Symon and Laura Wilson. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on TUESDAY 7th May at City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

about-the-author3

deborah o'connor.jpg

Deborah O’Connor read English at Newnham College, Cambridge before going on to become a television producer. Having worked on everything from The Big Breakfast to Big Brother she produced the BAFTA award-winning poetry documentary Off By Heart and is currently the head of factual development at TV production company, CPL.

Born and bred in the North-East of England, she now lives in East London with her husband and three-year-old daughter.

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Innocent Ones by Neil White @HeraBooks #TheInnocentOnes #damppebbles

the innocent ones.jpg

“Three lives cut short. Two decades of silence. One evil secret.

By day, the park rings with the sound of children‚Äôs excited laughter. But in the early hours of the morning, the isolated playground is cloaked in shadows ‚Äď the perfect hiding place to conceal a brutal murder.

When London journalist, Mark Roberts, is found battered to death, the police quickly arrest petty thief, Nick Connor. Criminal defence lawyer, Dan Grant, along with investigator Jayne Brett, are called to represent him ‚Äď but with bloody footprints and a stolen wallet linking him to the scene, this is one case they‚Äôre unlikely to win.

Until help comes from an unlikely source…when the murder victim’s mother says that Connor is innocent, begging Dan and Jayne to find the real perpetrator.

Unravelling the complex case means finding the connection between Mark‚Äôs death and a series of child murders in Yorkshire over twenty years ago. Father of two, Rodney Walker, has spent years in prison after being convicted of killing of 6-year-old William and 7-year-old Ruby back in 1997.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on The Innocent Ones blog tour. The Innocent Ones was published by Hera Books on 24th April and is the third book in the Dan Grant and Jayne Brett series written by Neil White. This, however, is the first book in this particular series that I have read (not the first book I’ve read by this author, mind you) and it works perfectly well as a standalone. I was given an eARC of The Innocent Ones but this has in no way influenced my review.

When I first agreed to take part in this blog tour there were two things I wasn’t aware of. Number one; it’s the third book in the series but as I mentioned up there ‚¨ÜÔłŹ‚¨ÜÔłŹ, that really wasn’t a problem and I enjoyed it as a standalone.¬† The second thing; I wasn’t aware it was a legal-esque type thriller. Which is daft really as I know author Neil White is a qualified lawyer and it goes to prove that I don’t always read the blurb too carefully (plus I’ve read other books by White and they’ve been more along the lines of a police procedural).¬† Again, not a problem for me as I LOVE a legal thriller.

I guess what I’m saying is apart from having read and enjoyed a few other books by White many moons ago, I started¬†The Innocent Ones with no preconceived ideas (just my usual high expectations, lol!).¬† And I thoroughly enjoyed it.¬† It’s was surprising, gripping and beautifully dark.¬† According to the author’s notes at the end of the novel this is the third and final book in the series, which is a shame.¬† At least I can console myself by reading the first two books in the trilogy.

Defence lawyer, Dan Grant, is tasked with defending low-life local scum, Nick Connor.¬† But instead of Connor’s usual petty misdemeanours, this time the charge is murder.¬† Journalist Mark Roberts was found bludgeoned to death in the local park and left to die in a congealing pool of blood.¬† Despite some pretty damning evidence to the contrary, Nick claims he’s innocent.¬† It’s a big step though, from theft to murder, and Dan is convinced Connor didn’t do it.¬† Helped by the fact Dan is approached by the mother of the victim who says she believes the wrong man is on trial and she wants Dan and his investigator, Jayne, to find the real killer.¬† It’s not long before Dan and Jayne are digging up a cold case from 20 years ago, upsetting the residents of a small Yorkshire town and discovering that not everything is as it first seems…

I loved Dan and Jayne.¬† What a team!¬† There’s obviously a fair bit of backstory behind Jayne’s past which is one of the reasons I want to read the first two books in this trilogy.¬† Not knowing the ins and outs didn’t hamper my enjoyment though – the author provides new readers with a good overview.¬† I loved the setting too.¬† I love small town American mysteries and sometimes find their British counterparts can’t really compare.¬† That’s not the case with¬†The Innocent Ones.¬† I loved the claustrophobia of the two towns, the secrets hidden within the small communities.

Would I recommend this book? I most certainly would.¬† When I was doing ‘real life’ I was thinking about the plot and characters, wanting to get back to the story and find out what was going to happen next.¬† I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Dan and Jayne and I look forward to making a start on the first book in the trilogy soon.

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

The Innocent Ones by Neil White was published in the UK by Hera Books on 24th April 2019 and is available in eBook format (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | GoogleBooks | Goodreads |

IMG-20190219-WA0005

about-the-author3

neil white.jpgNeil White was born and brought up around South Yorkshire. He left school at sixteen but studied for a law degree in his twenties, then started writing in 1994. He is now a lawyer by day, crime fiction writer by night. He lives with his wife and three children in Preston.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You Die Next price blog tour

about-the-author3

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

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

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

Mama's Gone - High Resolution.jpg

“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‚Äôs 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 |

MAMA'S GONE banner

about-the-author3

FullSizeRender.jpg

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.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

BSKH_BLOG (3)

about-the-author3

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 Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The 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 |