#BookReview: Afraid Of The Light – Crime Fiction Anthology in aid of the Samaritans | #AfraidOfTheLight #Samaritans #damppebbles @NolanDom

afriad of the light.jpg“Some people are scared of the dark. But it’s the light that exposes the secrets.

A young boy with nightmares faces up to his demons. A deathbed confession turns the world on its axis. A five-year-old watches his parents bury a body in the garden. A soldier returns from the war to find the horror isn’t yet over.

Afraid Of The Light brings the imagination of fourteen bestselling crime writers together in a collection that will keep you up all night. From a deadly campfire game to a holiday gone wrong, to an AI assistant with a motive and a love affair that can only end in murder, this is a gripping, twisty set of stories to send a shiver down your spine.

“The stories are wildly entertaining in their own right, but they also address the concerns and fears we all feel: isolation and loneliness; guilt and grief; justice and punishment. And perhaps most importantly of all: redemption and hope.” — Alex North”

Hello my bookish friends and welcome to Friday on damppebbles. I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my review of a very special book with you today. It’s no secret that I spend my life on Twitter. I think I may have mentioned that before. So when I saw a tweet from brilliant author, Clare Empson, asking for crime fiction bloggers (that’s me!) to read a hot new crime anthology – featuring 14 bestselling authors and with a foreword by Alex North – all in aid of the Samaritans, I couldn’t resist the call! I wanted ‘in’. And oh my goodness, I’m so glad I did! This is a gripping collection of shorts from some of the best writers out there and I couldn’t put it down. I received a free eARC of Afraid Of The Light but that has in no way influenced my review. (But I’ve since purchased a copy because it’s only 99p at the moment and all proceeds go to the Samaritans.)

I do enjoy a short story collection. They’re easy to read alongside a full length novel, and rarely do I finish one in one sitting. That was my plan when reading Afraid Of The Light. To dip in and out of the book over the course of a week or so. That was the plan. The plan was deeply flawed. Little did I know, when I picked this book up on a lazy Saturday afternoon during lockdown, that it was absolutely impossible to put down and I’d have it read in a few hours. This is an absolutely brilliant and engaging collection of devilish stories from some of the best crime writers out there. Some I’ve read before, some whose books are on my TBR and some I’ve wanted to read for a while.

I won’t pick a favourite as that’s actually really hard to do (because they’re all excellent) but standout reads for me were Adam Southward’s ARE YOU LISTENING?, which is the first story in the book and sets a high benchmark along with the tone for the rest of the collection. Dominic Nolan’s DADDY DEAREST, which had me wondering where the story was going only to drop a pretty hefty bombshell. And Heather Critchlow’s DROWNING IN DEBT,  which has the most wonderfully satisfying ending. Other firm favourites include; SHEEP’S CLOTHING by Robert Scragg, which leads the reader down one path only to provide the most beautiful and well written twist. This one left me reeling a little! Jo Furniss’s TO EVIL OR NOT TO EVIL shows us a futuristic world where your thoughts and feelings are on display to all and it’s not only the people in your life you need to watch.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. I thoroughly enjoyed Afraid Of The Light and will be recommending it to everyone. There’s not a single dud in the collection and I couldn’t help but lose myself in this wonderful book. All of the stories offer something new and if you haven’t read any of the contributing authors work before, then here’s a perfect opportunity to get a sampler AND make a small donation to a wonderful charity which does so much for so many. Highly recommended.

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

Afraid Of The Light was published in the UK on 21st April 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats: | amazon.co.uk | amazon.comGoodreads |

CONTRIBUTORS
Are you Listening? – Adam Southward
Daddy Dearest – Dominic Nolan
Deathbed, Beth Dead – Elle Croft
Loveable Alan Atcliffe – S R Masters
Sleep Time – Phoebe Morgan
Coming Home – N J Mackay
Sausage Fingers – Victoria Selman
Just a Game – Rachael Blok
Drowning in Debt – Heather Critchlow
To Evil or Not to Evil – Jo Furniss
Sheep’s Clothing – Robert Scragg
Frantic – Clare Empson
Planting Nan – James Delargy
Shadow – Kate Simants

All author royalties from the sale of this anthology will be donated to the Samaritans.

Samaritans is a charity working across the UK and Ireland to reduce the number of people who take their own lives and help people who are struggling to cope with how they’re feeling or with life’s challenges. When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year.

You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit http://www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

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#BlogTour | #BookSpotlight: Art and Soul by Claire Huston (@ClaraVal) @rararesources #ArtandSoul #damppebbles

Hello bookish friends and welcome to a brand new week on damppebbles. Today I am delighted to have something a little different for you. Here at damppebbles HQ we like to focus our attention on the darker side of fiction. You may have noticed! However, I am thrilled to be taking part in the Art and Soul blog tour today. Art and Soul is a heart-warming and uplifting romance novel written by the fabulous Claire Huston. Claire is not only a brilliant debut author, she’s also a fantastic blogger who shares her bookish thoughts and mouth watering bakes on her blog. If you don’t already follow Claire then that needs to change!

As part of the blog tour celebrations I am delighted to be sharing a book spotlight with you today. Let’s find out more about Art and Soul…

Layout 1A heart-warming, uplifting romance served with a generous slice of cake. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell, Katie Fforde and Cathy Kelly.

There’s no problem Becky Watson can’t fix. Except her own love life…

Struggling single mother Becky Watson longs to revive her career as a life-fixer, working miracles to solve her clients’ problems, no matter how big or small. Since the birth of her two-year-old son she has been stuck preventing wedding fiascos for the richest and rudest residents of the Comptons, a charming, leafy area of southern England known for its artistic heritage.

So when semi-reclusive local artist Charlie Handren reluctantly hires Becky to fix his six-year creative slump, she’s delighted to set him up with a come-back exhibition and Rachel Stone, the woman of his dreams.

Though they get off to a rocky start, Becky and Charlie soon become close. But as the beautiful Rachel becomes Charlie’s muse, Becky is forced to wonder: will giving Charlie everything he wants mean giving up her own happily ever after?

What do you think? Sounds good, doesn’t it? Art and Soul by Claire Huston was published by Goldcrest Books on 23rd April 2020. At the time of publishing this post, it’s only 99p to download on Amazon so don’t miss out!

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Claire Huston author photo 2020My name’s Claire Huston (pronounced as in “Houston, we have a problem”).

My debut novel – an uplifting contemporary romance – is out now in ebook and paperback. You can read more about that in Art and Soul (or head straight over to Amazon to buy it now!)

I live in the Midlands, UK, with my husband and two children. I work as a Spanish-English translator and when I’m not struggling to write, I try to read, bake, and generally keep chaos at bay.

I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.

If you’d like to get in touch, please use the contact form below or leave a message down in the comments. You can also find me on TwitterGoodreadsFacebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

#CoverReveal: Midtown Huckster (Alex Cohen #3) by Leopold Borstinski @borstinski #MidtownHuckster #AlexCohenSeries #damppebbles

Hello my bookish friends. I hope you’re keeping well at this strange time. I have a brilliant cover reveal for you today and it’s for a series I LOVE! I am delighted to be sharing the cover of MIDTOWN HUCKSTER with you, which is book three in the fantastic Alex Cohen Series written by Leopold Borstinski. I have read and enjoyed the first two books – The Bowery Slugger and East Side Hustler – so cannot wait to get my mitts on MIDTOWN HUCKSTER.

Before I reveal the gorgeous cover (which fits perfectly with the first two books in the series), here’s the blurb:

Can you keep your gelt and freedom when the cops have enough evidence to take you down?

1930s Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen runs Murder Inc for Lucky Luciano. After the death of Prohibition he must find a new way to make money, just as the cops are baying at his heels. When Luciano goes down for racketeering, Alex loses his protection and is arrested for tax evasion-he must decide between saving his skin and ratting out his friends.

If he chooses prison time then his gang will fall apart and he will end up with nothing. If he squeals then he will have to flee the city he loves and the family he once adored. What would you do in a world where nobody can be trusted and you have everything to lose?

The third book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical noir novel, which plunges you deep into the early days of narcotics trafficking and the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s piercing crime fiction delivers a fix to every reader like heroin from a needle.

I cannot wait to travel to 1930s New York with Alex and find out what dastardly deeds he and his gang are getting up to. If you’re new to the Alex Cohen Series then each book covers a decade in Alex’s life, starting with his landing on the shores of America in The Bowery Slugger. They’re well worth a read and I highly recommend them.

So let’s have a look at that cover…

3 Midtown Huckster High Res 1930

I love it! Look how fantastic the three covers look together 😍

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MIDTOWN HUCKSTER will be published by Sobriety Press on 16th July 2020. Pre-order your copy of the book NOW (please note, 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.ukamazon.com |

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FullSizeRenderLeopold 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: The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen @canelo_co #TheCloserYouGet #damppebbles

the closer you get“Is a marriage worth saving – whatever the cost?

Ruby didn’t plan to have an affair. She doesn’t love her husband, but wouldn’t set out to steal someone else’s. Yet when she met Harry they simply couldn’t keep apart. Now, she’s brave enough to leave her marital home and start again, and so is Harry. Or so she thinks.

Waiting at a hotel for her lover to arrive, Ruby realises she has made a mistake. Harry won’t come. He will never leave his wife.

What Ruby hasn’t worked out is that someone else knows all about the affair. They have been watching Ruby’s every move. They are determined to punish her. And they are even closer than she thinks…

Don’t miss this taut and gripping novel packed with edge-of-your-seat tension and a tale of love that goes badly wrong, perfect for fans of Shalini Boland and Lisa Hall.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen as part of the blog tour. The Closer You Get was published in digital format on 21st April 2020 by Canelo. I received a free digital eARC which has in no way influenced my review.

If you’re looking for a character-driven domestic suspense novel to get your teeth into, then look no further, dear reader. You have found it. What a cracking book this is! I have to be honest and confess to not reading many domestic thrillers of late. I seem to be leaning back towards my first love, crime and serial killer fiction, so reading The Closer You Get reminded me exactly how good the genre is, how devilish and despicable the characters can be and how I should really be reading A LOT more.

Ruby is a very relatable character and I warmed to her almost immediately. Despite the fact she’s out the door, with her bags packed, when we first meet her. Leaving her husband of ten-plus years for another man. It’s quite clear to the reader though that there’s something else going on here. Something which we haven’t yet been made party to. After, very decently I think, waiting for Tom to return home, explaining that she’s been unhappy for a while now, and departing the marital home, she heads to a local hotel to wait for her new love, Harry, to join her. But he doesn’t show. So she waits some more. And he still doesn’t show. Your heart sinks for Ruby. You can imagine the anguish she’s going through, the realisation as it dawns on her that something isn’t right. Ruby is alone, heart-broken and homeless. But then strange things start happening to her. It seems someone else knows her secret and is going to make her pay…

It’s not often I write an expletive in my notes whilst reading a book. But I did as I read The Closer You Get. I’m not going to reveal the word but looking back at my notes now, I wouldn’t change a thing! There are some characters in this book who will really get under your skin and make you want to scream. Manipulative, controlling and detestable people who the author has written so very well. You can’t help but hate them! They made the book for me. I  couldn’t wait to see what terrible event was going to befall poor Ruby next.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s a gripping domestic suspense thriller and I was hooked from the first page. The ending is very satisfying and exactly what I hoped for. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book and I will definitely be reading more from Mary Torjussen in the future.

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

The Closer You Get by Mary Torjussen was published in the UK by Canelo on 21st April 2020 and is available in digital format (please note, 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 | Goodreads |

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Mary_Torjussen_Author_PhotoMary Torjussen has an MA in Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and worked for several years as a teacher. She is the author of two novels, Gone Without a Trace and The Girl I Used to Be, and her new novel will be published in 2020. She writes dark, gripping thrillers and her debut novel, published in several international territories, has been optioned for television by Ecosse Productions.

 

#BookReview: The White Road by Sarah Lotz @HodderBooks #TheWhiteRoad #damppebbles

the white road.jpg“Adrenaline-junkie Simon Newman sneaks onto private land to explore a dangerous cave in Wales with a strange man he’s met online. But Simon gets more than he bargained for when the expedition goes horribly wrong. Simon emerges, the only survivor, after a rainstorm trap the two in the cave. Simon thinks he’s had a lucky escape.

But his video of his near-death experience has just gone viral.

Suddenly Simon finds himself more famous than he could ever have imagined. Now he’s faced with an impossible task: he’s got to defy death once again, and film the entire thing. The whole world will be watching. There’s only on place on earth for him to pit himself against the elements: Mt Everest, the tallest mountain in the world.

But Everest is also one of the deadliest spots on the planet. Two hundred and eighty people have died trying to reach its peak.

And Simon’s luck is about to run out.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of my latest #bookhangover and the reason that I’m currently ‘book-less’ (because nothing else at the moment could possibly be as good as this book!), the incredible The White Road by Sarah Lotz. I am a huge fan of Lotz’s writing and have loved both The Three and Day Four. I’m not very good when it comes to Goodreads but both of these books sit proudly on a very exclusive shelf called ‘favourites’. The White Road will definitely be joining them there. I received a free ARC of The White Road but that has in no way influenced my review.

The White Road is sublime. Atmospheric, creepy and I was living the story from the opening paragraphs alongside our protagonist, Simon Newman. Simon and his mate, Thierry have started a website. In probably not the smartest of moves, they decide that filming the scene of a horrific caving accident, where three young lads died, could create the buzz they’re after, show their audience exactly what they’re about and get the site a few extra hits. The Cwm Pot caves are closed off to the general public because of the danger, but that’s OK because Simon has found an odd bloke called Ed on the internet who has offered to take him into the caves for a small fee. Once underground, things start going horribly wrong for the pair and Simon starts to wonder exactly what type of person he has stranded himself hundreds of feet underground with. Simon manages to escape the icy depths of Cwm Pot, frozen and traumatised by the whole experience. And with the camera footage which, of course, goes viral. The thrill of his new found fame and the adoration of the masses pushes Simon and Thierry on further, looking for the next big high and viral video. When Thierry suggests filming the dead on Everest, Simon doesn’t immediately jump at the idea – but he doesn’t refuse either and sets Thierry a challenge to raise the funds for the trip. Before long Simon is heading for base camp on Mount Everest. But this time, he may not be so lucky…

This book is so, so good and I relished every moment I had with it. Simon is a chancer, a bit of a lad and his morals are a little on the dubious side but I really liked him. As the book progressed I started to feel sorry for him and wished he had a little more backbone to stand up to Thierry and his astonishingly bad ideas. But Thierry had made his own, somewhat incomparable, sacrifices and Simon was committed. Taking on Mt. Everest without some form of knowledge or training seems like the most barmy of ideas but off the reader heads with Simon to Base Camp. I felt nervous for him, apprehensive, and the sense of impending doom gave me palpitations. The White Road really gets under your skin and it’s going to be impossible to forget this one!

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, without a moment’s hesitation. I loved this book because the characters felt so very real to me. I loved this book because it’s like nothing I’ve read before. I loved this book because I think this is my first (literary) trip to Mt. Everest and I find it fascinating the need some people have to conquer the mountain, to risk life and limb, to push your body to it’s absolute limits. It’s chilling, it’s atmospheric and it’s totally involving. Impossible to put down, impossible to forget. An outstanding piece of fiction.

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

The White Road by Sarah Lotz was published in the UK by Hodder Books on 18th October 2018 and is available in hardcover, audio, paperback and digital formats (please note, 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.comWaterstonesFoyles | BookDepositoryGoodreads |

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sarah lotz.jpgSarah Lotz is a screenwriter and novelist with a fondness for the macabre and fake names. Incapable of holding down a ‘proper’ job, over the years she’s painted outrageous frescos for dubious casinos, written scripts for South Africa’s first full-length sci-fi cartoon show and lived homeless on the streets of Paris as a teenage runaway.

Among other things, she writes horror/thriller novels under the name S.L. Grey with author Louis Greenberg, a YA pulp-fiction zombie series with her daughter, Savannah, under the pseudonym Lily Herne, and quirky erotica novels with authors Helen Moffett and Paige Nick under the name Helena S. Paige.

Stephen King said her solo novel The Three was ‘really wonderful’ (which made her cry in a very very good way) and Day Four was published in the U.K by Hodder & Stoughton in May, 2015.

She likes cake, scruffy dogs, fast cars and sitting in her attic making stuff up.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: The Watch List by Joseph Mitcham (@MitchamJoseph) #TheWatchList @cobaltdinosaur #damppebbles

SMALLER watch list cover new

“Sixty-eight dead and nearly 300 injured in a hostile vehicle and bomb attack on a community festival in Birmingham, the country is in shock.

Battling the mental turmoil of the aftermath, Alex, a former Army communications specialist, stumbles across the UK Terror Watch List – he cannot resist the challenge of stealing the list from under the nose of his contract supervisor, Lucy Butler, a razor sharp and headstrong Intelligence Corps corporal with big ambitions.

Wrestling with his conscience and the ethics of tackling unconvicted suspects, Alex enlists the help of famed former UK Special Forces Warrant Officer, Craig Medhurst. Alex struggles to win the respect of Craig’s core team, but together they hatch a daring plan to act on their selected targets.

Can Alex use his charm to persuade Corporal Butler to join them?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am handing the keys over to my trusty sidekick and guest reviewer, Ryan, who is sharing his review of The Watch List on the final day of the blog tour. The Watch List was self-published by the author, Joseph Mitcham, on 2nd December 2019 and Ryan received a free review copy of the book which hasn’t influenced his review. Let’s see what he thought…

The Watch List by Joseph Mitcham is a fascinating book about temptation and ethics. It put me in mind of the “Choose your own adventure books” of my youth, but this time the lead character had already taken the decisions and the reader is watching events play out.

Alex, as the main character, is a confident and high skilled IT specialist with a background in the army. Called in to fix an inter-service IT system he finds he has a dilemma. The UK Terror Watch List is on the system and Alex knows he has the skills to take it without anyone knowing. The author does a great job of communicating the mix of guilt, fear and excitement swirling through Alex as he reaches his decision. But then we see more choices; decision 2, what to do with the list? Decision 3, share his secret with Lucy Butler or not? Each decision has consequences, and when he takes them, the circumstances and subsequent decisions seem to flow out of Alex’s control.

I really enjoyed this book. The author has started with an interesting premise and built it into a strong story where good and bad can sometimes appear similar, and is very dependent on perspective. Mitcham doesn’t shy away from making his characters have difficult ethical discussions. Wrestling with their conscience on whether to take action against those who have, as yet, done nothing wrong except believe something different from Alex’s growing band of vigilantes.

The characters in this story are well written and all come to the mission with different approaches. Alex, as an information specialist, starts off by being fascinated with the challenge of gaining the list. But then he becomes involved in ensuring that the communications are right. Now I never thought I would find the planning and methods of communications for a mission interesting, but the methods used here are fascinating and the author brings an educated perspective to this often overlooked area of a story. Lucy Butler is an enigma, strong and forthright but never clearly on anyone’s side. What is she planning and will she stop Alex’s plans in their track? Finally Craig, ex-special forces, quick with decisions and deadly in his execution of them, can he be trusted not to go too far?

So, going back to the ‘choose your own adventure’ books. Should you read this book – choose ‘yes’ and you will have chosen well. You’ll find an interesting book with a great story and strong characters.

Ryan chose to read and review a free digital copy of The Watch List. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

The Watch List by Joseph Mitcham was published in the UK on 2nd December2019 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, 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 | Goodreads |

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Joseph Mitcham - reduced

Joseph Mitcham served with the British military in elite and technical units for over 16 years. His service not only gave him a thorough tactical and technical understanding of some of techniques and processes employed in his first novel, it also provided him with the opportunity to develop himself, earning a first class honours degree in business leadership by the end of his service.

The inspiration for writing ‘The Watch List’ was taken from personal experiences from the roles that he has served in and characteristics from some of the people that he has served with. Joseph has written an incredible, yet compellingly credible story that plays out in our world as he sees it today.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Into Darkness by T.J. Brearton (@BreartonTJ) #InkubatorBooks #IntoDarkness #damppebbles

draft1-2020-0351-Garret-Ryan-(for-T.J“They have been judged. The verdict – guilty. The sentence – death.

Two beautiful young women are found strangled, their bodies meticulously washed and groomed. The only thing they have in common – both worked as reporters for local TV stations. 

A coincidence? Or something more sinister?

Rookie Special Agent Shannon Ames is assigned to the case and soon impresses with her brilliant intuition and startling ability to think outside the box. 

But as Shannon takes a more prominent role in the investigation, she finds herself drawn into a deadly dance with a master of deception, a serial killer whose victims all work in media – journalists, influencers, reporters. 

Shannon’s superiors are convinced it’s part of some grand attack on the free press, but she has a hunch these killings are much more targeted. And she follows that hunch – straight into the heart of darkness…

Into Darkness is a gripping mystery thriller that will keep you up all night as it races towards its shocking conclusion. Perfect for fans of David Baldacci, Robert Dugoni and Lisa Regan.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be taking part in the Into Darkness blog tour and sharing my review of the cracking first book in the Shannon Ames Thriller Series. Into Darkness is written by T.J. Brearton and was published by Inkubator Books on Sunday 12th April 2020. I received a free eARC of Into Darkness but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’ve been wanting to read a book by T.J. Brearton for some time now. He’s an author I see mentioned often on blogs and in bookish Facebook groups. I even have a couple of his books on the terrifying TBR, but y’know…time and all that (#bookwormproblems). So when the opportunity arose to read Into Darkness, the first book in a brand new series from one of my favourite publishers, I just couldn’t say no. And what a cracking read it is! There’s nothing I love more in my crime fiction than a kick-ass female lead (and a serial killer, got to love a serial killer….🤷). Shannon Ames is something else and I absolutely loved her (the book also features a serial killer so win/win!).

Shannon is a rookie FBI Agent stationed in NYC. She’s smart, gutsy and she’s come a long way from her humble beginnings as a farm girl in The Adirondacks. Still grieving the loss of her brother, which left the relationship between Shannon and her mother strained, she arrives at Williamsburg’s 90th precinct ready to help the NYPD investigate the disappearance of Monica Forbes. Monica is a local television news reporter and is the second reporter to have gone missing. The first, Eva Diaz, was found wrapped in black bin bags and slung over a fence after being meticulously washed by her killer. Time is running out for Monica and you just know that the situation isn’t going to end well. As the death toll starts to rise, with more and more media personalities and influencers falling victim to a sadistic killer, Shannon’s colleagues jump to some startling conclusions. But Shannon has her own ideas and it’s down to her to stop the killer, no matter what it takes…

Shannon is feisty and spirited and I loved her. I also absolutely adored NYPD detective, Luis Caldoza. The chemistry between Ames and Caldoza is wonderful to read and their obvious spark really added something to the story for me. The pacing in this book is fantastic. The reader is carried along as the action takes place on the page with beautifully written peaks and troughs. There are some absolute heart-stopping moments and for me, one moment in particular made me gasp out loud. I really liked where the author took the story and the motive he gave his killer for carrying out his horrific deeds. It was fascinating to watch the story unfold.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would and I look forward to reading the second book in the Shannon Ames Series soon. If you’re looking for a new crime thriller series to follow then I heartily suggest you give this one a go. It’s a thrilling roller-coaster ride of a read and Shannon is a really likeable protagonist and someone the reader can get behind. Recommended.

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

Into Darkness by T.J. Brearton was published in the UK by Inkubator Books on 12th April 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, 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.comGoodreads |

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brearton author photo 500x500T.J. Brearton’s books have reached half a million readers around the world and have topped the Amazon charts in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. A graduate of the New York Film Academy in Manhattan, Brearton first worked in film before focusing on novels. His books are visually descriptive with sharp dialog and underdog heroes. When not writing, Brearton does whatever his wife and three children tell him to do. They live happily in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate, New York. Yes, there are bears in the Adirondacks. But it’s really quite beautiful when you’re not running for your life.

T.J. is the author of Dead Gone and many other crime thrillers. INTO DARKNESS will be his first novel published with Inkubator Books.

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #WeBeginattheEnd #damppebbles

We Begin at the End.jpg“‘YOU CAN’T SAVE SOMEONE THAT DOESN’T WANT TO BE SAVED . . .’

Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.

Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.

Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.

Murder, revenge, retribution.

How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?”

The warmest of welcomes to the blog today and to my stop on the We Begin at the End blog tour. We Begin at the End is the highly anticipated new release from Chris Whitaker and was published by Zaffre Books in hardcover on 2nd April. The paperback is set to follow in October. I received a free eARC of We Begin at the End but that has in no way influenced my review.

We Begin at the End is the most beautiful, captivating and exquisite book I have ever read. My heart broke. I cried big, ugly, snotty tears and I was left wanting to relive the whole experience, from beginning to end, again. This is a stunning piece of fiction and if you don’t read it for yourself then you’ll never know exactly how astonishing it is. Hell, if this book doesn’t make it to the top of my best books of 2020 then we have been blessed with some truly incredible books this year.

The outlaw, Duchess Day Radley. The most perfect character to grace crime fiction. At only 13 years of age she has the guts and the intelligence to do things most adults wouldn’t dream of. But she’s also a 13 year old hot-headed kid who makes some pretty catastrophic mistakes. I adored her. I finished We Begin at the End a few weeks ago now but Duchess remains with me still. Her mother, Star, repeatedly tries and fails to be a good mom to her two kids. Which means Duchess has to step up and take charge. It’s heart-breaking stuff, hence the big, fat, ugly tears. Duchess’s relationship with her younger brother, Robin, was so touching, so beautiful. She’s his protector, she looks out for him because their mother can’t and does such an admirable job that every scene involving the pair of them tugged at my heart strings. When a caring, responsible adult eventually enters their lives in the form of their grandfather, it’s an absolute joy to watch six-year-old Robin blossom. Duchess’s wariness and her slow thaw towards grandfather Hal just made me admire her even more. But some people just aren’t destined to find happiness and history has an unfortunate knack of repeating itself…

Before I go any further with this review I must mention Chief Walker, or Walk as he’s known to the locals. Tragedy struck Cape Haven 30 years ago when Sissy Radley, sister to Star, was killed. Walk, who even then had aspirations to become the local police chief, was part of the search party. Walk’s best friend, Vincent King, was accused of Sissy’s murder. But Walk never gave up on Vincent and now, thirty years later, Vincent is due to be released from jail. And I think that tells you everything you need to know about Walk. Another beautifully drawn character who leaps from the pages of the book and into the reader’s mind. When tragedy hits Cape Haven for a second time, Walk is pushed to the sidelines of the investigation. Before long, he decides that if the truth is to be found, then he’s the man to uncover it. Such compelling reading and I lived every. single. moment.

Would I recommend this book? This book is perfection. I will be driving people crazy recommending We Begin at the End to them. It ticks so many boxes for me; set in small town America – tick, full of the most enchanting and interesting characters – tick, a devilish mystery at it’s heart – tick, leaves me with the biggest emotional bookish hangover – tick. This book is a masterpiece and if you only buy one book this year based on my reviews then please, PLEASE make it this one. I really wish I had the words to convey what a stunning book this is. Absolutely outstanding.

I chose to read and review an eARC of We Begin at the End. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 2nd April 2020 and is available in hardcover, digital and audio formats (please note, 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 | WaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

Chris Whitaker

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chris whitakerChris Whitaker was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. His debut novel, Tall Oaks, won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Chris’s second novel, All The Wicked Girls, was published in August 2017. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd @TransworldBooks @1stMondayCrime #TheMemoryWood #damppebbles

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Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.

Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.

Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.

As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .”

A very warm welcome to the blog today and to my review of The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd. Now, had life been relatively normal (normalish) then tonight would have seen the first First Monday Crime Night of the year. But we’re all on lock down so it’s obviously not happening (#StayHomeSaveLives #StayHomeStaySafe). That doesn’t mean we can’t shout about the brilliant authors who were due to appear though, no siree! Sam Lloyd, author of the haunting The Memory Wood, was due to be taking part this evening so I, of course, leapt at the chance to read this INCREDIBLE book. I have to be completely honest with you here. As soon as I saw this book, before I’d even read the blurb, I knew I had to read it. The cover gave me chills. I received a free ARC of The Memory Wood but that has in no way influenced my review.

The Memory Wood had my attention as soon as I set eyes on it; that stunning cover, the intriguing blurb. You know when you get ‘that’ feeling about a book…? You just know that it’s going to be something special? You don’t know how you know, you just do? That’s the feeling I had about The Memory Wood. Expectations were high. Oh, the pressure! And I wasn’t disappointed one jot. What a mesmerising, creepy crime thriller. Full of tension and dread. I absolutely loved this book!

Elijah lives with his family at the Game Keeper’s Cottage in the grounds of Rufus Hall, near the Memory Wood. Elijah’s life is quiet and sedate. He doesn’t attend school but he has a love of words and likes to think that makes him cleverer than the average 12-year-old. One day, while exploring a crumbling cottage in the wood, Elijah makes a discovery. Thirteen year old, Elissa. Chained to the floor and desperate to escape, Elissa pleads with Elijah to help her. But Elijah knows he can’t help and he can’t really understand why she is so desperate to leave. After all, they’ve only just met! In Elissa he sees a friend, a confidant and someone to spend his time with. He’s enchanted by her. But Elissa isn’t the first girl Elijah has discovered chained up beneath the cottage. And Elijah knows what happened to the other children when they refused to play by their captor’s rules…

I thoroughly enjoyed The Memory Wood. It was everything I hoped it would be and maybe even a little bit more on top! The author has done a wonderful job of making his reader feel they are there, living in the wood with these strange characters. The story is told from three perspectives; Elijah, Elissa and the detective in charge of finding Elissa, Detective Superintendent Mairead MacCullagh. I loved DS MacCullagh and thought the author made her even more interesting with the addition of an issue you don’t see every day. I hope this isn’t the last we see of MacCullagh as I would gladly read an entire series with her as the lead character. Elissa, the kidnapped 13-year-old, is an incredible character. Wise beyond her years with an intelligence to match. I loved how emotionally strong she was in the face of adversity. How every action was considered in detail and how determined she was to escape the clutches of her captor. Astute and spirited, she’ll be difficult to forget – that’s for sure! And poor, troubled Elijah. My heart broke for him.

The plot moves along at a steady pace and I was keen to find out how Elijah and Elissa’s story was going to end. There are a couple of ‘gasp-out-loud’ moments which turn the book on its head for the reader and I loved them! Cat and mouse game? Yes, definitely. But it’s more intricate, more detailed, more involving than that. Game of chess anyone? (Chess features quite heavily in the story so it only seemed fair….)

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s a beautifully written, unsettling and atmospheric novel and I devoured it. With characters that will leave their mark on you, whether in a good way….or a not so good way, this book will be hard to forget. And if anyone ever utters the words ‘say you understand’ to me ever again then I may have a heart attack right there and then. Those three words will forever send chills down my spine. Highly recommended.

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

The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd was published in the UK by Bantam Press on 20th February 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, 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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Sam Lloyd grew up in Hampshire, making up stories and building secret hideaways in his local woods. These days he lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons and a dog that likes to howl. The Memory Wood is his debut thriller.

#BookReview: Wilderness by B.E. Jones (@bevjoneswriting) @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault #Wilderness #damppebbles

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It’s easy to die out there. It’s easy to kill too.

Two weeks, 1,500 miles, three opportunities for her husband to save his own life.

It isn’t about his survival – it’s about hers.

Shattered by the discovery of her husband’s affair, Liv knows they need to leave the chaos of New York to try to save their marriage. Maybe the roadtrip that they’d always planned, exploring America’s national parks, just the two of them, would help heal the wounds.

But what Liv hasn’t told her husband is that she has set him three challenges. Three opportunities to prove he’s really sorry and worthy of her forgiveness.

If he fails? Well, it’s dangerous out there. There are so many ways to die in the wilderness. And if it’s easy to die, then it’s easy to kill too.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of my very favourite reads from 2019 with you today – the absolutely brilliant WILDERNESS by B.E. Jones. Wilderness sailed into my top ten(ish) books of the year with ease, and I still can’t stop talking to people about it (when I get to see them that is, which isn’t often at the moment!). Wilderness is on the brink of being published in paperback so I’m shouting louder than ever! It really gets under your skin and I LOVE it! We may not be able to leave the house at the moment but that doesn’t mean we can’t travel to the National Parks in the US with Liv and Will, and see if Will manages to save his marriage…..and his life!

Here’s my review:

I received a free eARC of Wilderness but that has in no way influenced my review.

I loved this book. It’s the first book I’ve read by B.E. Jones but I can safely say that it won’t be the last. Boy, can this author write a dark and dangerous character! If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you will know that I am a sucker for characters. The plot and the setting (which are both brilliant in this novel, by the way) can be ‘okay’ providing the characters stand tall and leap from the page. I want living breathing people who make me feel something – that’s not asking too much, is it? Wilderness is a cracking example of exactly how to write incredible, believable characters and also tick the all-important plot and setting boxes with confidence and flair! I absolutely loved Liv. I’m still not entirely sure I was supposed to love her as she’s very much a character on the edge. But hey, I do like a dark undertone and it’s often the more complex creations who appeal to me more!

Liv and her husband, Will, are living the dream. Following Will’s promotion, they up-sticks from picturesque Wales and move to the hustle and bustle of New York City. Everything is perfect…until Liv discovers that her husband has been unfaithful with a colleague. Will apologies for his error of judgement and promises it will never happen again. And then it does. Liv is utterly heartbroken and enraged by the deceit and immediately starts to plan her revenge. One ‘dream’ holiday to America’s national parks and three chances for Will to prove he’s sorry. If he fails, well…..sometimes terrible accidents happen in the wilderness, don’t they?

The plot, the characters, the setting, the cover, the blurb – I loved absolutely everything about this book. It’s very likely it will feature in my top 10 books of the year list in December. Liv is pushed to her absolute limit – the repercussions of which were fascinating to watch. I couldn’t look away as she slowly unravelled before my eyes and I HAD to find out how the story would end. It’s not often I wish for a happy ending in my books but I was desperate for life to turn out OK for Liv. Does it? Well, you’ll have to get hold of a copy of Wilderness and find out for yourself.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It’s one that shouldn’t be missed and the perfect Summer holiday read partly due to the fabulous setting (maybe not the murders!). Speaking of the setting, I loved how the author conveyed the stark contrast between the two locations in the US. You have the wide open space of the national parks versus the built up and somewhat claustrophobic feeling of New York City. It’s all so beautifully written that you can’t help but ‘live’ the locations with the characters. An absolute joy to read! Highly recommended.

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

Wilderness by B.E. Jones was published by in the UK by Constable on 4th April and is available in paperback, audio and digital 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 |

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photo of Bev

Beverley Jones was born in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, and started her ‘life of crime’ as a reporter on The Western Mail before moving into TV news with BBC Wales Today.

She covered all aspects of crime reporting before switching sides as a press officer for South Wales police, dealing with the media in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.

Now a freelance writer she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales.

Wilderness, her sixth crime novel follows the release of Halfway by Little Brown in 2018.

Bev’s previous releases, Where She Went, The Lies You Tell, Make Him Pay and Fear The Dark are also available from Little Brown as e books.

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