#BlogTour | #BookReview: 17 Church Row by James Carol @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #17ChurchRow #damppebbles

17 Church Row: We all have darker instincts . . . (Paperback)

“Three years ago, Nikki and Ethan Rhodes suffered a devastating loss when their four-year-old daughter Grace was tragically killed in a road accident. Ethan, a radio personality, escapes into work, leaving Nikki to care for their remaining child, Bella, who hasn’t spoken since that day.

Seeking a fresh start, the family moves into a revolutionary new house designed by renowned architect, Catriona Fisher. The house features a state-of-the-art security system, along with every amenity you could dream of.

For the Rhodes’ this is a chance to finally pick up the pieces and get on with their lives in a place where they feel totally safe.

But what if 17 Church Row isn’t the safe haven that they think it is?”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop (one of the first two stops!) on the 17 Church Row blog tour. 17 Church Row is the latest release from the brilliant James Carol and it will be published in paperback later this week. I received a free eARC of 17 Church Row but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a huge fan of James Carol’s writing. If Mr Carol writes it, you can guarantee I’ll be reading it as soon as humanly possible. His Jefferson Winter series is absolutely sublime and his standalone novels (of which 17 Church Row is one) are all thrilling, captivating reads. If you’ve never picked up a James Carol novel then you’re really, REALLY missing out.

Nikki Rhodes took her eyes off her twin daughters for only a split second, and that was all it took for tragedy to strike. Nikki knows their lives have changed forever when she hears the screeching of tyres and sees the front door swinging wide open. Learning to rebuild their lives after the loss of Grace is the toughest thing they’ve had to face, but particularly for Bella – Grace’s twin sister – who hasn’t spoken since the accident. When Ethan suggests they move house, leaving behind the painful memories, Nikki doesn’t know what to do for the best. But radio DJ, Ethan has found the perfect house for them – 17 Church Row in Kensington. It’s the house of the future and architect, Catriona is looking to build many, many more. Having a media star like Ethan Rhodes move into her project is a gold mine. You just can’t buy that kind of publicity! 17 Church Row is a futuristic abode decked out with the latest in AI technology. The house is run by ‘Alice’ who can answer to your every whim and is always one step ahead of you. The pain of losing Grace will be with the family forever. Bella is their number one priority now and they have to do everything they can to make her life as happy and as fulfilled as possible. And there’s always the chance that this change of scene could be the catalyst to get Bella to talk again. But what if their new safe haven isn’t as safe and secure as they believe…?

If memory serves I’ve said this before: Woah! If this is the future then I’m locking myself in a library and NEVER, EVER leaving! The last time I said that it was about self-driving cars. I think it’s fair to say I feel the same about self-driving houses! Oh.My.Goodness. This futuristic thriller is one scary read and I’m quite happy in my very normal, very non-AI house – thank you very much! If you had presented 17 Church Row to be me before I read this book I would have bitten your hand off. Modern, sleek, visually stunning. Carol paints a beautiful aesthetic with his words. But I’ve read the book. You can keep your all-singing, all-dancing house!

This is an entertaining thriller and with some interesting characters. I really felt for Nikki who was punishing herself on a daily basis over her daughter’s death. To want to escape the memories but at the same time not feel able to leave them behind, what a tough decision to make. And poor little Bella broke my heart on a number of occasions. I did feel one of the characters was only part of the story to move the plot along – a bit like being a red jerseyed ensign about to embark on your first mission with Captain James T. Kirk to an alien planet. You’ve had a few lines, played a small part and now we all know you’re going to get in in the neck! It wasn’t a huge surprise for me when something questionable happened to them. The architect, Catriona, is also super creepy…yuck!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would recommend all of James Carol’s books as they are all brilliant. If you’re in the mood for something a little bit different then this is the book for you. It’s quite terrifying to think this is how we could be living in the future. Quite an eye-opener. And yes, my Alexa is now in the bin….

I chose to read and review an eARC of 17 Church Row. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

17 Church Row by James Carol was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 14th November and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

James Carol.png

about-the-author3

James+Carol+(head+and+shoulders)

James Carol was born in Scotland, where he spent his early years. He moved to England in the eighties and has lived there ever since. At various times he has worked as a guitarist, sound engineer, guitar tutor, journalist, and a horse riding instructor.

Broken Dolls, the first Jefferson Winter thriller, was published in 2014 and has sold a third of a million copies and been translated into twelve languages. This was followed by three other Jefferson Winter thrillers and a trilogy of novellas set during Winter’s FBI days.

James has also written three standalone thrillers. The first of these, The Killing Game was shortlisted for a CWA Ian Fleming Dagger award.

When he’s not writing, James can usually be found in his recording studio where he is currently writing and recording the first Dream Nation album.

James lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, two children, a dog and a horse.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Safe House by Jo Jakeman @HarvillSecker #SafeHouse #damppebbles

SH_7.jpg“NOT EVERYONE DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE . . .

The morning after a terrible storm, a woman turns up in a remote Cornish village. She calls herself Charlie, but it’s a name she’s only had for a few days. She keeps herself to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. Because Charlie has a secret.

Charlie was in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. But Lee Fisher wasn’t a murderer to her; he was the man she loved. Convinced of his innocence, Charlie said she was with him the night a young woman was killed. This sacrifice cost her everything.

And now she has a chance to start again. But someone is watching her, waiting for her, wondering if she’s really paid the price for what she did.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Safe House blog tour. Safe House is the second book from Jo Jakeman and it’s published in hardcover and ebook formats today! The happiest of publication days to Jo and the team at Harvill Secker. I received a free eARC of Safe House but that has in no way influenced my review.

Charlie Miller is a woman with a lot to hide. What’s the best thing to do when you’ve made a number of terrible mistakes and want to forget your past? When you walk down the street of the town which you’ve lived your entire life in and people spit at you? You obviously up sticks and move to a different part of the country! Charlie Miller moves her meagre belongings to Penderrion in Cornwall and starts afresh. But Charlie Miller is a brand new creation. A new identity to help ex-convict Steffi Finn fit in. Steffi has just been released from HMP Hillstone for providing a false alibi for her partner, Lee Fisher. But that’s in the past. No one knows who Charlie really is. Or do they….?

I enjoyed this slow-burn psychological suspense novel. I found Charlie, despite her faults, easy to like and the setting, the beautiful and dramatic Cornish coastline, played as much a part in the story as the characters themselves. With Jakeman’s vivid descriptions I could picture myself stood on the cliffs overlooking the turbulent waves.

There’s a wonderful sense of impending danger and unease throughout the novel which comes from three angles. The lawyer husband of Jenn who seems to recognise Charlie on first sight, the unknown narrator who appears a handful of times throughout the novel and from Ben Jarvis who seems hellbent on trying to track Charlie down. For what purpose the reader is left wondering.

Would I recommend this book? If you like a lighter, edging on women’s fiction thriller, then yes – this is a book for you. Charlie’s neighbours were great characters and I enjoyed the community spirit they embodied – particularly Aubrey who was my favourite character in the book (and had very little community spirit about him but he was fond of Charlie and I think we all know or have known an Aubrey). An entertaining read to while away an Autumnal afternoon.

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

Safe House by Jo Jakeman was published by Harvill Secker on 31st October 2019 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats (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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

Blog Tour Poster.jpg

about-the-author3

Jo-Jakeman-Author-Photo-e1521628233205.jpg

JO JAKEMAN was the winner of the Friday Night Live 2016 competition at the York Festival of Writing. Born in Cyprus, she worked for many years in the City of London before moving to Derbyshire with her husband and twin boys. Safe House is her second novel and Sticks and Stones was her debut thriller.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Ghoster by Jason Arnopp @orbitbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #Ghoster #damppebbles

ghoster.jpg

“Kate Collins has been ghosted.

She was supposed to be moving in with her new boyfriend Scott, but all she finds after relocating to Brighton is an empty flat. Scott has vanished. His possessions have all disappeared.

Except for his mobile phone.

Kate knows she shouldn’t hack into Scott’s phone. She shouldn’t look at his Tinder, his texts, his social media. But she can’t quite help herself.

That’s when the trouble starts. Strange, whispering phone calls from numbers she doesn’t recognise. Scratch marks on the door that she can’t explain.

And the growing feeling that she’s being watched . . .”

Hello my bookish lovelies. Welcome to damppebbles and to my stop (one of the first stops!) on the epic Ghoster blog tour. Ghoster is the latest release from Jason Arnopp and will be published in ebook tomorrow (that’s Tuesday 22nd October) and paperback on Thursday 24th October (just in time to add it to your Hallowe’en reading list!). I received a free eARC of Ghoster but that has in no way influenced my review.

Jason Arnopp is a name that has been known to me for a while. If you’re a fan of horror fiction then you can’t have missed his previous novel, The Last Days of Jack Sparks. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading it myself yet but it’s waiting patiently on my bookshelf and as soon as I have a little downtime then it’s my next book of choice. So Ghoster was my first foray into the dark mind of Mr Arnopp and what a wonderful spooky experience it was. Reading Ghoster, if anything, has made me even more keen to get stuck in.

Paramedic Kate Collins is a modern woman who is a bit ballsy, very likeable but also very lonely. She also has an addiction many of us can relate to; her phone. A world where a hundred friends are ‘there for you’ but you don’t actually know a single one of them in person. A world where accumulating ‘likes’ is everything. So much so, that you view life through the lens of your phone’s camera – rather than actually live it. Following an incident at work Kate decides to dump her smartphone and buy a basic Nokia. She also takes herself off to Wales to a digital detox retreat. It’s here she spots a familiar face. Scott is a guy she super-liked on Tinder earlier in the year. He blanked her but now he’s here! They begin chatting, find out they have lots in common and before long they’re arranging to meet again in Leeds where Kate lives. Romance slowly blossoms and a few months later Scott asks Kate to move in with him to his luxurious seafront apartment in Brighton. Kate agrees without a moment’s hesitation and moving day looms. But then Scott vanishes. He doesn’t answer Kate’s calls or her texts. Kate’s first thought is that he’s lying dead in a ditch somewhere so rushes down to Brighton with all of her worldly possessions and a moving van in tow, only to find his apartment completely bare. No Scott. None of Scott’s stuff. Apart from one thing. His phone. Against her better judgement and after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, Kate hacks into Scott’s phone. What she discovers will change her life forever…

This is a well-written, easy to devour supernatural thriller that had me turning the pages at the rate of knots. I really liked Kate but also found her utterly annoying at times. She is a little bit needy but then I think I would have completely fallen to bits a lot sooner if I were in the same situation. I loved how current Arnopp has made this story and I’m afraid I recognised myself in Kate a little – I think many people will. How often do YOU have to check your phone? Ghoster is also a stark reminder that dating in this day and age is a darn complicated business! It seems a lot has changed in the last 12 years since I first met my other half.

Once I warmed to Kate (which didn’t take long) I knew I had to see the journey through with her. I just had to know what was going on. Where the strange calls were coming from, what the blue things were and what was the cause of the strange scratch marks on the door. Her search for missing Scott takes up a large proportion of the novel and the mystery element was intriguing. I did find myself wanting Kate to quit moaning a couple of times and just get on with it. I understand that she was torn by the ethics of the situation but we all know she’s going to do it so stop questioning things and get on with it, Kate! We’re with you every step of the way! I loved the last section of the book though, particularly the diary chapters when the reader discovers a lot more about one of the characters. My heart broke. When everything is laid bare for the reader you can’t help but feel sad that things were not meant to be – because they would have been flipping awesome.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s a fun and entertaining novel which I enjoyed. Arnopp has created a book which, if you use a smartphone, will make you think long and hard about how much you use it and whether you *could* actually manage without it. I don’t think I will be putting my phone in the bin just yet though! Not until the strange whispering phone calls start anyway. I am even more excited to read The Last Days of Jack Sparks now and can certainly see why Arnopp’s books are so incredibly popular.

Ghoster by Jason Arnopp was published in the UK by Orbit Books on 24th October 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

Ghoster Poster 23 Aug.png

about-the-author3

jason-arnopp.jpg

Jason Arnopp is the author of the Orbit Books novel The Last Days Of Jack Sparks, which has been described as “a magnificent millennial nightmare” (Alan Moore), “scarier than watching The Exorcist in an abandoned asylum” (Sarah Lotz) and “The Omen for the social media age” (Christopher Brookmyre). Director Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code) optioned the film rights shortly after the book’s 2016 release.

Arnopp co-wrote the official behind-the-scenes book Inside Black Mirror with Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones.

Why not check out his four shorter-form fiction titles? These are:
— Beast In The Basement, a suspenseful, mind-blowing thriller novella
— A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home, a chilling and groundbreaking short story set in YOUR home
— Auto Rewind, a dark, emotionally charged thriller novelette
— American Hoarder, a supernatural creep-fest available only when you join the author’s free mailing list at JasonArnopp.com

Arnopp previously wrote and executive-produced the Lionsgate feature film Stormhouse and script-edited the Peter Mullan feature The Man Inside. He has also written for the worlds of Doctor Who (BBC), The Sarah Jane Adventures (BBC) and Friday The 13th (New Line Cinema).

In his past life as a rock journalist, he interviewed the likes of Bon Jovi, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne and Guns N’ Roses. He was once surrounded by angry guards holding semi-automatic weapons at The Vatican. His Slipknot biography, Slipknot: Inside The Sickness, Behind The Masks, was released in 2001 and is now available as a Kindle Edition. Arnopp has also written a guide to journalistic interviewing, entitled How To Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne And Everyone Else, which is also out on Kindle.

Arnopp’s latest non-fiction book is From The Front Lines Of Rock. Available in the Kindle Store now, it gathers 30 of his favourite interviews he wrote as a rock journalist, with the likes of Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Korn, Kiss, Faith No More, Garbage, Nine Inch Nails and Green Day.

When you sign up for Arnopp’s free newsletter at JasonArnopp.com, you can also download his short story American Hoarder for free. You might also want to check out his YouTube channel by searching for his name there. What a wonderful world.

#BookReview: All Fall Down by Tom Bale @bookouture #AllFallDown #damppebbles

all fall down.jpg“You tried to save a life. Now you’re fighting to save your own.

It’s the perfect Sunday. Summer sunshine, a barbecue with the kids. 
But a knock on the garden gate and two words, ‘HELP ME’, changes everything.

When loving parents Rob and Wendy Turner let a dying man into their home, and do their best to help him, they think pure chance led him to their house. But soon their lives are threatened in ways they could never have imagined … and then the first anonymous letter arrives, forcing them to question all they know. 

Someone is watching.
Someone is waiting.
They will stop at nothing.

Rob and Wendy will do anything to keep their family safe, but their children Georgia, Josh and Evan are teenagers now, with their own hidden lives. 

Everyone has secrets, but how can you save your family, if you don’t really know them?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles.  I am delighted to be reviewing the tense and twisty All Fall Down by Tom Bale today.  All Fall Down was published by Bookouture in September 2016 and is available in paperback, ebook and audio formats.  I received a free eARC of this book via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

I read and reviewed Tom Bale’s See How They Run shortly after starting my blog over three years ago and rather enjoyed it.  All Fall Down had a lot to live up to and I am delighted to confirm that it didn’t disappoint at all.  In fact, it surpassed my expectations with jaw-dropping scene after jaw-dropping scene as the story reached its climax.  I love Bale’s books in that respect.  His characters are so beautifully, brilliantly normal but they somehow end up in the most terrifying, heart-stopping scenarios.

Rob and Wendy Turner and two of their three teenage children are spending a sunny Summer afternoon in the garden enjoying a Barbecue.  Pretty normal, right? Until someone starts banging on their fence, pleading to be let in.  Their gut reaction is to help so they fling the gate open only for a badly beaten man to stagger into their garden.  They try their best to save him with their basic first aid skills but he dies.  What they believe was a chance encounter turns out to be anything but.  What secrets are the family hiding?  And could they be deadly…?

I thoroughly enjoyed All Fall Down.  The plot is gripping and moves at a good pace to keep the reader turning the pages.  The characters are superb and you feel as though you’re living the nightmare with the Turner family.  The story took off in directions I never expected and for that, I loved this book.  There were so many highlights.  There were also a number of uncomfortable moments which made my skin crawl, all brilliantly written.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would.  If you like to read about extraordinary things happening to normal people then you will love All Fall Down.  The only quibble I had was that the end felt a little drawn out.  I would have liked everything tied up a little quicker but that’s just me.  All in all, a compelling page-turner of a family thriller which kept me spellbound from start to finish.

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

All Fall Down by Tom Bale was published in the UK by Bookouture on 1st September 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (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.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

about-the-author3

tom bale.jpgTom Bale worked in a variety of jobs (and also had a demanding spell as a househusband) before realising his lifelong ambition to be a full-time writer. He is the author of nine novels including the bestsellers SEE HOW THEY RUN and ALL FALL DOWN. His latest book, ONE DARK NIGHT, is available now. A keen cyclist and sea swimmer, he lives in Brighton.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterFacebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Family by Louise Jensen @HQstories #TheFamily #damppebbles

the family.jpg

ONCE YOU’RE IN, THEY’LL NEVER LET YOU LEAVE.

Laura is grieving after the sudden death of her husband. Struggling to cope emotionally and financially, Laura is grateful when a local community, Oak Leaf Organics, offer her and her 17-year-old daughter Tilly a home.

But as Laura and Tilly settle into life with their new ‘family’, sinister things begin to happen. When one of the community dies in suspicious circumstances Laura wants to leave but Tilly, enthralled by the charismatic leader, Alex, refuses to go.

Desperately searching for a way to save her daughter, Laura uncovers a horrifying secret but Alex and his family aren’t the only ones with something to hide. Just as Laura has been digging into their past, they’ve been digging into hers and she discovers the terrifying reason they invited her and Tilly in, and why they’ll never let them leave…”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Family blog tour. The Family is the latest release from one of my very favourite authors, Louise Jensen and was published by HQ in paperback on Thursday 3rd October. I received an ARC copy of The Family but that has in no way influenced my review.

Louise Jensen is an incredible writer. If you haven’t discovered her books yet then you and I need to have serious words. They’re perfectly plotted family-driven psychological thrillers that leave you on the absolute edge of your seat. Only for Jensen to throw something completely unexpected and deliciously twisty your way, leaving the reader gasping and wanting more. They’re insanely good and the release of a new Louise Jensen book is a highlight of my year. So you can imagine how much I was looking forward to reading The Family. And oh boy, it didn’t disappoint.

The Family does have a slightly different feel to Jensen’s other books. There are twists and turns galore and a family is at the forefront of the action, as I have come to expect from this author. I found the pace to be quite different though. This is a slow and intoxicating unravelling of a clever and well-plotted story which held my attention from start to finish. I really felt for our main protagonist, Laura. Recently bereaved and on the brink of losing her livelihood, she is barely holding things together. Wanting to make sure she and 17-year-old daughter, Tilly, still had somewhere to call home she reaches out to her deceased husband’s family – only for them to shun her. Rapidly running out of ideas, Laura turns to charismatic Alex, asking for help. Alex has the legal know-how she needs and he and the Oak Leaf Organics community welcome Laura and Tilly with open arms. But not everything at Oak Leaf Organics is as perfect as it first appears. How does Alex know everything about Laura’s life? And exactly how close are Tilly and Alex becoming?

There are so many secrets for the reader to get their teeth into in this book. And secrets are what Jensen is the master of. Laura’s story is beautifully presented to the reader. You feel you have a fairly good idea of who is who and what is going on. Only for Jensen to pull one of her brilliant sleight of hand moves on you. Actually, in reality, you know nothing. And that is why Louise Jensen’s books are a joy to read. The Family is another example of how adept Jensen is at what I would assume is a difficult skill to master. You think you’ve got the measure of these characters, but you haven’t.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about The Family is the way Jensen puts a mother/daughter relationship under the microscope. This book was all about Laura and Tilly for me. I had several moments of ‘what if this was MY 17-year-old daughter? What would I do in Laura’s situation?’. There are some really powerful emotive parts to the story. Some I can understand because I’m a mum too. Some I thankfully will never understand. And there’s one twist, towards the end of the book, which very nearly broke me. That’s going to stay with me for a while to come.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. In fact, I suggest you just go and purchase every book Louise Jensen has written because they are all outstanding. Jensen remains one of my absolute favourite authors and I am now counting down the days until her next book is released. The Family is a very compelling, very real read that draws you in until the very final page. Highly emotive, chock full of delicious secrets and another incredibly readable book from the pen of Ms Jensen.

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

The Family by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by HQ on 3rd October 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

The Family - Blog Tour Banner.jpg

about-the-author3

louise jensen.jpeg

Louise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift, The Surrogate and The Date. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s fifth thriller, The Family, will be published in Autumn 2019 by Harper Collins.

The Sister was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award. The Date was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize 2018. The Surrogate has been nominated for the best Polish thriller of 2018. The Gift has been optioned for a TV film.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BookReview: The Passengers by John Marrs @EburyPublishing #ThePassengers #damppebbles

the passengers.jpg

“Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?”

Woah! If this is the future then I’m locking myself in a library and NEVER, EVER leaving again! (Actually, I *may* do that anyway…) Welcome to damppebbles today and to my review of a book which has proven to be hugely popular, The Passengers by John Marrs. I received a free eARC of this book via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

I should probably admit that this is the first John Marrs novel I’ve read. I know how popular his books are, and I even organised a blog tour for his last release, so I’m kicking myself for not having read anything by him before. BECAUSE I LOVED THE PASSENGERS!! What a novel, what a terrifying yet brilliant novel this is. I think what makes it even scarier is the fact that you can envisage this being our future. This is where we are headed if technology keeps developing at the rate it currently is. And that’s flipping terrifying. All of my smart devices, including my phone and my Fitbit, are going in the bin. And you will never ever get me in a driverless car. End of.

The Passengers is set in the not too distant future which gives the author a little more room to manoeuvre with his story as there are inventions in Marrs’ future world which don’t exist in the present. I expect driverless cars will be the norm in the future but for now, let us bask in the knowledge that we are safe from the horrific idea of a vehicle propelling us around at high speed which we or no other human being has any control over.

Eight lives. Set on a collision course. Picked at random. Or are they? The Government are proud of their driverless car system. For once, the UK is leading the way while the rest of the world watches. Road traffic accidents are down, the number of fatalities due to RTAs have been reduced. The system is infallible. That is until hackers find their way into the technology and set eight random cars on a collision course. A secret government jury is thrown into the limelight when they are told they can save one of The Passengers. But only one. Interfere with the cars or try and stop the collision and there will be consequences. Severe consequences. But not everything is as it first seems and when people are putting across their best side, who knows what other terrible secrets they are hiding from the world. The Jury and the public must decide who lives and who dies…

Not only is this a terrifying book but I also found it absolutely fascinating. There are some pretty evil, unlikable characters in this novel but probably the most repulsive is the general public who eagerly have their say via social media. That mob mentality takes over and oh boy, it’s terrifying. Unwittingly, mental health nurse Libby becomes embroiled in the hackers plan to terrorise the world when she is called to be part of the secret government jury. What she doesn’t expect is to recognise one of The Passengers, which turns her world upside down and puts her in an impossible situation. I liked Libby. I wanted to do the right thing and kick some MP butt! She did come across as a little whiny at times but in the same situation, I think I would be a little whiny too.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved it. There was one aspect that I struggled with but I’m not going to go into detail about that now. I love the concept of this book, normal people being picked off one by one for the terrible secrets they keep. The way the novel takes a good hard look at society and how much information we dish out to third party companies without a seconds thought and the way, when tucked safely behind a screen and are completely anonymous, we turn on each other in the worst way possible. So easy to read, so hard to put down. If this is the future then I’m going to start looking for that library to lock myself in. Absolutely brilliant.

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

The Passengers by John Marrs was published in the UK by Ebury Publishing on 30th May 2019 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats with the hardcover 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 |

about-the-author3

John Marrs

John Marrs is the author of #1 bestsellers The One (soon to be made into a film with Urban Myth Films), The Good Samaritan (shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards 2018), When You Disappeared, and Welcome to Wherever You Are. After working as a journalist for 25-years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time writer.

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

#BookReview: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager @EburyPublishing #LockEveryDoor #damppebbles

lock every door 2“You’ve been offered a luxury apartment, rent free. The catch: you may not live long enough to enjoy it…

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents. 

These are the only rules for Jules Larson’s new job as apartment sitter for an elusive resident of the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile private buildings and home to the super rich and famous.

Recently heartbroken and practically homeless, Jules accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

Out of place among the extremely wealthy, Jules finds herself pulled toward other apartment sitter Ingrid. But Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her. Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story – but the next day, her new friend has vanished.

And then Jules discovers that Ingrid is not the first temporary resident to go missing…

Welcome to the Bartholomew…You may never leave.”

A very warm welcome to the blog today and to my review of Lock Every Door by Riley Sager.  Lock Every Door was published by Ebury Publishing on 25th July 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats.  I received a free eARC via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

I felt anxious about reading Lock Every Door.  Let me give you a little of the backstory.  Riley Sager’s Final Girls is one of the most INCREDIBLE books I have EVER read.  Here’s my review of Final Girls so you can see how much I loved it. I still recommend it to everyone today and it’s one of the few books I would pick up and read again (and again!).  So I was excited to read this author’s second novel (under his nom de plume), Last Time I Lied.  With hindsight, I think my expectations were too high when I started LTIL which led me to be a *little* harsh in my critique of it. I’m sorry Mr Sager.  There are so many readers out there who prefer Last Time I Lied to Final Girls but isn’t that the beauty of reading – it’s subjective.  So knowing I was going to be reading the third novel by this author (which I was excited about, by the way, but also a little anxious), I was keen to separate my feelings about the first two novels from Lock Every Door and read it as though it was written by a brand new author to me (does that make sense?).  Anyway, to cut a long, dwindling story short, I really enjoyed Lock Every Door. But I’m not going to compare it to either of this author’s first two books.

Jules Larsen has landed on her feet after splitting up with her boyfriend and losing her job.  She’s going to be an apartment sitter at an exclusive New York apartment building for 3 months, where the rich and famous spend their days.  Not only will she live the life of luxury, but they are also going to pay her four thousand dollars a month!  It’s a win-win situation.  But there are rules she must stick to; no visitors, don’t talk to or discuss the other residents and no nights away from the apartment.  Jules understandably feels the rules are a little strict but this is an opportunity not to be missed.  Particularly as her favourite book, which she often shared with her missing sister, Heart of a Dreamer, was set at the Bartholomew.  But the Bartholomew is rumoured to have many dark secrets and the longer Jules spends living there, the more concerned she becomes.  And when a friend and fellow apartment sitter goes missing, Jules knows that not everything is as it first seemed…

This a wonderful gothic thriller which sends shivers down the reader’s spine.  Poor Jules.  I really felt for her as she seemed to have the worst luck.  First, you’re dumped, then you lose your job and then you move into the apartment from hell thinking it’s the answer to your prayers. Oh, and there’s a strong chance you won’t survive the ordeal.  I was immediately intrigued by the plot and was trying to plan in my own mind where the story was going to go.  The Batholomew is a character all by itself with it’s creaky barred elevator and the demonic-looking gargoyles on every corner.  The eeriness of the setting really added to an already creepy story and I found myself totally immersed in the author’s tale.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes.  It’s a compelling gothic chiller which I struggled to put down.  I strongly suggest you give this author’s other books a go too (whoops, wasn’t going to mention them!) as they’re worth reading.  I loved the ending which was very satisfying and a lot of fun. I would have been disappointed if this book had finished any other way.  Chilling, dark and hard to put down. Recommended.

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

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Ebury Publishing on 25th July 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats (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.ukWaterstonesBook Depository  | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

pseudonymRiley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Riley’s first novel, FINAL GIRLS (called “The first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King), was published in 2017 in the United States, the United Kingdom and more than twenty countries around the world.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

 

#BookReview: Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay @HQstories #ElevatorPitch #TakeTheStairs #damppebbles

elevator pitch.jpg“It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets.

Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world – and the nation’s capital of media, finance, and entertainment – is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men and women working in offices across the city refuse leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.

Who is behind this? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find the answers . . .

Pulsating with tension, Elevator Pitch is a riveting tale of psychological suspense that is all too plausible . . . and will chill readers to the bone.”

Welcome to damppebbles today and to my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year, Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay. Elevator Pitch is published in hardcover, audio and ebook formats today! Happy publication day to Linwood Barclay and the team at HQ. I received a free eARC copy of Elevator Pitch via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

I love the idea behind this book. A maniac takes control of Manhattan’s elevators finding clever and inventive ways to kill random strangers. But to what end? Ah well, you’ll just have to read the book and see for yourself. And it’s not just any old city that’s being terrorised either. It’s one of the most vertical cities in the world – New York. The thought that the next elevator (or lift to any Brits reading this, lol!) you took could lead to your terrifying and grisly death immediately grinds a busy, thriving city to a dramatic halt. Or if you look at it from another angle; you live on the 38th floor of a skyscraper and the lifts are taken out of service because of the danger. You’re trapped. Unable to leave your apartment – and if you do, that’s a heck of a lot of stairs to tackle to get home again. Are you fit enough? Will your heart take the climb? What if you have children? Such a wonderful premise for a book and, as it’s a Linwood Barclay novel, it’s very well written too.

The reader is introduced to reporter Barbara Matheson who is so beautifully flawed that I was immediately on her side. She is opposed to the current Mayor, Richard Headley, and fights to prove that he’s corrupt and no good for the City via her Manhattan Today column. We also get to spend a good deal of time with the Mayor and discover that despite his poor reputation, he does have a softer side. That is until he opens his mouth and belittles his poor son, Glover. Then you have the discovery of a fingerless body on the High Line (I had to Google the High Line to find out what it was) and Detectives Bourque and Delgado are sent to investigate. And finally, Eugene Clement and his wife are on an anniversary break to New York. Except Eugene is the leader of a pressure group called The Flyovers; is this trip business or pleasure? These different threads run alongside each other for a large proportion of the book. They were all interesting and I was, of course, looking out for how the different threads fitted together. But I would have liked the story to move along a little faster than it did.

There are red herrings galore and the author has done a wonderful job of duping his readers into thinking they know where the story is going when in truth, we really don’t. There are some beautifully written twists at the end of the book which gave me goosebumps. Elevator Pitch is a well written slow burn of a novel until you get to the last few chapters when things really HOT up! There are things about this novel which I will remember for a long time to come. But is it wrong to have wanted more elevator tragedies? A little more blood spilt? Probably, but you must be used to me by now, dear reader 😂🤣.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. I love the premise and it’s well written. I’ve been incredibly nervous using a lift ever since I read Elevator Pitch. A totally feasible, panic-inducing and very enjoyable read. Recommended.

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

Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay was published in the UK by HQ on 5th September 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats (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.ukWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

about-the-author3

linwood barlcay.jpgLinwood Barclay is an international bestselling crime and thriller author with over twenty critically acclaimed novels to his name, including the phenomenal number-one bestseller No Time For Goodbye. Every Linwood Barclay book is a masterclass in characterisation, plot and the killer twist, and with sales of over 7 million copies globally, his books have been sold in more than 39 countries around the world and he can count Stephen King, Shari Lapena and Peter James among his many fans.

Many of his books have been optioned for film and TV, and Linwood wrote the screenplay for the film based on his bestselling novel Never Saw It Coming. He is currently working with eOne to turn the Promise Falls trilogy into a series. Born in the US, his parents moved to Canada just as he was turning four, and he’s lived there ever since. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Neetha. They have two grown children. Visit Linwood Barclay at www.linwoodbarclay.com or find him on Twitter at @linwood_barclay.

#BookReview: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson @BloomsburyRaven #NeverHaveIEver #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (7/15)

never have I ever

“It starts as a game at a book group one night. Never Have I Ever… done something I shouldn’t.

But Amy Whey has done something she shouldn’t. And Roux, the glamorous newcomer to Amy’s suburban neighbourhood, knows exactly what that is.

Roux promises she will go away – if Amy plays by her rules.

But Amy isn’t prepared to lose everything. She’s going to fight back, and in this escalating game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my review of Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson. Never Have I Ever was published on 8th August 2019 by Raven Books and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats. I chose Never Have I Ever as my seventh #15BooksofSummer challenge read and received a free eARC of this book but that has in no way influenced my review.

It’s not often I read a ‘teaser’ or sample of a book. I prefer to read the entire thing from start to finish, at my own (some would say, very slow) pace. So when a teaser of Never Have I Ever appeared on NetGalley I planned to walk on by. But that didn’t actually happen. I found myself drawn to this book so I broke the habit of a lifetime and downloaded the first chapter. Looking for something to kill an hour one day in between moving the kids from one after school activity to another, I started to read my short snippet of Never Have I Ever. I was instantly drawn into the world of these women with the interloper in their midst. The exotic Roux who usurped the mumsy book club leader, Charlotte, and made herself very much at home in Amy’s basement having recently moved into the local rental. Roux instantly ruffles a number of feathers, flatters a number of the more timid women and makes her mark on the group. But as the alcohol flows some of their most closely guarded secrets are revealed, all for the momentary thrill of shocking their peers. A game of ‘never have I ever’ takes a more sinister twist and Amy is left wondering exactly what mysterious Roux knows about her past. And that’s where the first chapter ended (!) and I was left hankering after the rest of the story. Thankfully my NetGalley request was approved shortly after that so I didn’t have to wait *too* long for the rest of Roux and Amy’s story!

And what a story it is! This is a wonderful multi-layered book and I was completely drawn in to the lives of the characters. I loved Amy and her sass. I desperately wanted her to succeed in her plan to win the game and keep her dark past hidden from her family and maintain the life she had built for herself. But I also adored Roux who is darkness and wickedness personified. Good..ish versus evil. The battle is well and truly ON in Never Have I Ever and I savoured every last minute of it. This is an engrossing book with a brilliant plot but the characters are everything. If you don’t feel invested in Amy’s plight by the end of the book then I’m afraid you’ve done it all wrong.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes! But brace yourself for the unexpected. I don’t want to say anything else about the plot as I already feel I’ve said too much. However, the ending is perfect. I couldn’t work out how the author was going to finish this Battle Royale between these two brilliant adversaries but Jackson does it with absolute aplomb. One of the most fascinating psychological suspense novels I have read in a long time. Amy and Roux have made themselves at home in my memory and I don’t think they’ll be moving out anytime soon.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Never Have I Ever. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson was published in the UK by Raven Books on 8th August 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links (they’re starred*) 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 |

15 books of summer

about-the-author3

joshilyn jackson.jpg

New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson’s newest book, Never Have I Ever, will launch in July of 2019. You can check out her previous eight novels and other work here. Joshilyn’s books have been translated into a dozen languages, have won SIBA’s Novel of the Year award, have three times been #1 Book Sense Pick, have twice won Georgia Author of the Year awards, have three times been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and have been a finalist for the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction.

A former actor, Jackson reads the audio versions of both her own novels and the books of other writers; her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, won three Earphones awards, made the 2012 Audible All-Star list for highest listener ranks/reviews, and garnered three Listen Up awards from Publisher’s Weekly.

She serves on the board of Reforming Arts, a nonprofit that runs education-in-prison and reentry programs. Reforming Arts fosters the development of critical and creative thinking skills, encouraging students to build livable lives both during and post-incarceration. Through this organization, Joshilyn has taught creative writing, composition, and literature inside Georgia’s maximum security facility for women.

Joshilyn learned to scuba-dive in order to write Never Have I Ever, and now she and her husband Scott are both avid divers. They live in Decatur, Georgia with their two kids, two entitled cats, and a modestly-sized dog.

Author photo and biog © https://www.joshilynjackson.com/

#BookReview: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner @BoroughPress #MissingPresumed #damppebbles

missing presumed.jpg

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog today and to my review of Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner. Missing, Presumed was published by The Borough Press in 2016. I received a free eARC of this book via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

Erin Kelly describes this book as beautifully written. I couldn’t agree more. Missing, Presumed feels quite different to other books in the genre. Steiner presents a pretty bleak story but with such style and eloquence that you can’t help but be captivated. This is a slow burn police procedural with a less than perfect detective set in a wintery Cambridgeshire. There was a heck of a lot of buzz about this book when it was first published so I knew I just had to read a copy and find out more. I’m very glad I did.

DS Manon Bradshaw made this book shine for me. On the verge of hitting the big ‘four-oh’ Manon is determined to find a husband (I’m sure a committed partner would be enough in all honesty, lol!). She’s fed up with her life and feeling so lonely, so turns to internet dating to find Mister Right. Only finding Mister Very Wrong, Mister Oh No and Mister You Must Be Joking! Falling asleep every night to the crackle and hiss of her ‘borrowed’ police scanner. When Edith Hind is reported missing Manon is one of the first to hear the report over her scanner, and it’s only around the corner so she gets dressed and heads out into the chilly night. What she finds is a scene that causes some concern; the coats in the hallway are disturbed, the front door is open, Edith’s phone and keys have been left behind and there are a few ominous looking blood spots in the kitchen. An investigation to find missing Edith is launched led by Manon’s Major Incident Team but they’re aware time is running out. When it’s revealed the missing woman is the daughter of Lord Ian Hind, physician to the Queen and is good friends with the Home Secretary, the team know the case is going to be big news. Can Manon and the team find the missing woman before it’s too late…?

The book is written from multiple viewpoints which include Edith’s mother, Miriam, Manon and a wonderful colleague of Manon’s, DC Davy Walker. I loved Davy – what a nice young chap! Manon’s DI, Harriet Harper, is also a great character I loved the relationship between the two of them. I didn’t like any of the Hinds who all come across as pompous, self-serving, self-entitled fools. Even the devastated Miriam failed to stir any sympathy within me. The other character I loved was Fly, a young boy who, having lost his brother, is taken under Manon’s wing. Their relationship absolutely blossoms and it’s a joy to watch.

The investigation was slow going and at times I would have liked things to happen a little quicker. The reveal was quite a shocker but I relished it. It was very satisfying and I wouldn’t have wanted the book to end any other way with hindsight.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. It’s beautifully written and a wonderful character driven novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book by Susie Steiner. An intriguing mystery with a wonderfully flawed lead character who I hope to see a lot more of in the future.

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

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner was published in the UK by The Borough Press on 25th August 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and eBook formats (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 |

about-the-author3

susie steiner.jpg

Susie grew up in north London, studied English at university and trained as a journalist. She worked in newspapers for 20 years, 11 of them on staff at The Guardian. Her first novel, Homecoming, was published by Faber & Faber to critical acclaim in 2013. Her second, Missing, Presumed was a Sunday Times bestseller which introduced detective Manon Bradshaw. It was a Richard & Judy book club pick and has sold 250,000 copies to date in the UK. Missing, Presumed was selected as one of the Guardian’s, Wall Street Journal’s and NPR’s standout books of 2016. It was shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year 2017. Persons Unknown, the sequel to Missing, Presumed, is her third novel – also a Richard & Judy book club pick and also long-listed for the Theakstons. The third in the Manon trilogy is called Loss of Life and is due out in May 2020. Susie has written extensively about losing her eyesight to Retinitis Pigmentosa. She is registered fully blind and lives in London with her husband and two children.

Author image and biog © http://www.susiesteiner.co.uk/

Author Images: | Website | Twitter |