#BookReview: Hangman by Daniel Cole (@Daniel_P_Cole) @TrapezeBooks @orion_crime @Lauren_BooksPR

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“A detective with no one to trust
A killer with nothing to lose

18 months after the ‘Ragdoll’ murders, a body is found hanging from Brooklyn Bridge, the word ‘BAIT’ carved into the chest.

In London a copycat killer strikes, branded with the word ‘PUPPET’, forcing DCI Emily Baxter into an uneasy partnership with the detectives on the case, Special Agents Rouche and Curtis.

Each time they trace a suspect, the killer is one step ahead. With the body count rising on both sides of the Atlantic, can they learn to trust each other and identify who is holding the strings before it is too late?”

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Daniel Cole’s debut crime thriller, Ragdoll. I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the inventive ways Cole came up with to kill off a number of the characters. It’s no secret that I like my crime thrillers edging on horror with lots of bodies and lots of blood, so Ragdoll held a lot of appeal for me. The second book in the Ragdoll series, Hangman immediately became a must-read. I just had to see what the author was going to do with his characters next…

And the answer is, he completely ignored his lead protagonist and focussed solely on a supporting member of his cast. Not what you would expect, right? I’ve seen Hangman mentioned in places as Detective Fawkes #2. It really isn’t though. Fawkes hardly features in this novel and I absolutely flipping LOVED it! My one bugbear with Ragdoll was that I felt very little for either Fawkes or his sidekick, Emily Baxter. If anything, Baxter irritated me with her fawning over Fawkes and her (ugh) neediness. Having read Hangman from cover to cover I have completely changed my mind about her. I love the new ‘slightly more damaged than she was before’ Emily Baxter. Her sarcastic manner, her bossiness, her ‘don’t actually give a damn!’ attitude and her secretiveness. I really like this new Baxter and hope she doesn’t change back to her old, puppy dog ways in book three when Fawkes *may* return.

Baxter isn’t the only character I loved in Hangman. I’ve already mentioned that Fawkes isn’t really present. However, Baxter is instructed to work alongside the FBI and CIA as her current investigation spans continents and has links to the famous Ragdoll case she ‘heroically’ solved. Curtis (the FBI agent) and in particular Rouche (the CIA operative) really brought something to the story. We get to see Baxter’s newfound barriers crumble a little as she warms to Rouche. I’m not sure there is any point in the story where she trusts him but I really enjoyed the relationship between the two.

I have to say, I found the story a little far-fetched in some places but in all honesty, I didn’t actually give a hoot as I was utterly captivated by the characters and what was going to happen next. Daniel Cole had my full attention from start to finish and to me, that is more important than a little artistic licence. I also loved the humour Cole has written into the pages of Hangman. This is the first book in a long time that I found myself quietly chuckling along to.

Would I recommend this book? Totally. I loved it. I preferred it to Ragdoll. I loved seeing things from Baxter’s perspective and I hope the *possible* return of Fawkes in book three doesn’t reduce her character to what it was in book one. I would be devastated. So utterly gripping I couldn’t put this book down. I described the need to keep turning the pages of Ragdoll as similar to catnip. Well, the author has done it again but this is super strength catnip! A perfect read for me.

Five out of five stars.

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

Hangman by Daniel Cole was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 22nd March 2018 and is available hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

daniel cole

Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer, and most recently for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Ragdoll is his first novel. He lives in Bournemouth, England.

Author Links: | Twitter |

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#BookReview: The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne | @bookouture #TheBabysitter

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“You trust her with your family. Would you trust her with your life?

Mark and Melissa Cain are thrilled to have found Jade, a babysitter who is brilliant with their young children. Having seen her own house burn to the ground, Jade needs them as much as they need her. Moving Jade into the family home can only be a good thing, can’t it?

As Mark works long hours as a police officer and Melissa struggles with running a business, the family become ever more reliant on their babysitter, who is only too happy to help. And as Melissa begins to slip into depression, it’s Jade who is left picking up the pieces.

But Mark soon notices things aren’t quite as they seem. Things at home feel wrong, and as Mark begins to investigate their seemingly perfect sitter, what he discovers shocks him to his core. He’s met Jade before. And now he suspects he might know what she wants …

Mark is in a race against time to protect his family. But what will he find as he goes back to his family home?

If you loved reading The Girl on the Train, Behind Closed Doors and The Sister, you’ll love the suspense of The Babysitter. This unputdownable read will have you turning the pages until way after dark.”

The Babysitter is the first Bookouture release from Sheryl Browne, having previously published her work with ChocLit. Having met Sheryl a couple of years ago (she’s such a darling), I was keen to read her latest book. I also took part in the blog blitz for The Babysitter when it was first released by hosting an extract. You can read that post by clicking HERE.

First up, I can see this book being huge. It’s a well-written psychological thriller with an antagonist you will love to hate. Mark and Melissa Cain are likeable enough characters if maybe a touch too nice (or maybe clueless) at times. Everything that follows all comes down to personal taste. And to prove that point I will link to a number of very positive reviews, written by my blogger peers, at the end of this review. I wanted to love this book. Really, I did. I certainly didn’t hate it, but I struggled to find any love for it either. I feel like I’m heading towards a reading slump at the moment and the only type of fiction that grabs my attention, that gets any kind of real interest from me is on the darker side. For me, The Babysitter is the total opposite of dark fiction (although there was one scene with a pig, which I can safely say was my favourite part!).

I did thoroughly enjoy the prologue which, if you read the extract I featured on publication day, you will see hints at some fairly dark themes. I think I wanted more of that and less of the happy little middle-class family. Aspects of Jade’s character I really liked; her malevolence, her deviousness and her anger. But other characters were just too nice, too naive and too accepting for my tastes. And I certainly wouldn’t want DI Mark Cain involved in any investigation I was part of! This story is not all sweetness and light, by the way. I feel that’s how I’m making it sound but it really isn’t. One of the characters is fairly evil in their intentions and disgustingly manipulative. I’m afraid it just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted a lot more.

Would I recommend this book? I’m not sure. If, like me, you prefer to read darker tales then no, this book isn’t for you. But if you enjoy psychological thrillers then don’t let me put you off – I would hate for that to happen. I read the book from start to finish despite not being fully invested. And in all honesty, I would pick up another book written by Sheryl Browne without a moment’s doubt.

What other reviewers are saying about The Babysitter: Jen Med’s Book Reviews | Chelle’s Book Reviews | Novel Gossip | Sweet Little Book Blog |

The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne was published in the UK by Bookouture on 8th March 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about the author3

sheryl browne

Sheryl Browne brings you powerful psychological thrillers and contemporary fiction. Sheryl’s latest psychological thriller THE BABYSITTER – the first of a three-book deal – comes to you from fabulous BOOKOUTURE. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and previously writing for award winning Choc Lit, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

So why does Sheryl write in two genres? Quoting E. L. Doctorow, Sheryl says: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights…” This she thinks sums up a writer’s journey, you never quite know where you are going until you get there. You might start with an outline, but a strong character will always divert from the plot. If Sheryl’s not sure where a character is going, she simply has to trust him to show her the way. Plus, according to one reviewer, she also has a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell (@Caroline_writes) #ThomasandMercer @midaspr #SilentVictim

silent victim.jpg“Emma’s darkest secrets are buried in the past. But the truth can’t stay hidden for long.

Emma is a loving wife, a devoted mother…and an involuntary killer. For years she’s been hiding the dead body of the teacher who seduced her as a teen.

It’s a secret that might have stayed buried if only her life had been less perfect. A promotion for Emma’s husband, Alex, means they can finally move to a bigger home with their young son. But with a buyer lined up for their old house, Emma can’t leave without destroying every last trace of her final revenge…

Returning to the shallow grave in the garden, she finds it empty. The body is gone.

Panicked, Emma confesses to her husband. But this is only the beginning. Soon, Alex will discover things about her he’ll wish he’d learned sooner. And others he’ll long to forget.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Silent Victim blog tour.  Silent Victim is the latest release from one of my favourite authors, Caroline Mitchell.  I have been a fan of Mitchell’s writing for some time now but this (I’m ashamed to admit) is the first of her standalone psychological thrillers I have read.  I normally go giddy over her superb police procedurals which, being a former police detective, have bucketloads of realism in them.  But this…..this wonderfully addictive piece of fiction blew me away!  There was something so different, so beautifully dark about the writing that I was pretty smitten from the very first page.

We meet Emma (great name, there aren’t enough ‘Emma’s’ in the books I read!), our lead character whilst she is burying a body!  The reader immediately knows that this is not a normal night out for Emma and disposing of bodies in her palatial back garden is not something she does to pass the time.  I could feel the character’s disbelief, the sheer terror of the situation and the realisation of what she had done.  If the prologue of Silent Victim doesn’t draw you head first into this compulsive story then there’s no hope left for you I’m afraid.

Life is….good for Emma, her husband and their young son, Jamie.  Alex, Emma’s husband is desperate to return to the North though, to Leeds where he was born and spent many happy years.  So when a promotion lands in his lap, he grabs it with both hands.  Emma would like to make a clean break of it too, but is fully aware of the secrets buried in her garden.  Going behind Emma’s back Alex manages to find an eager cash buyer for their home and starts the search for a suitable property in Leeds.  The implications of what this could mean hit Emma hard.  What if the new owners discover the shallow grave on their property?  She would certainly go to prison, and who would care for Jamie then?  Moving the remains is the only answer, she needs to hide them somewhere they will never be found.  But when Emma returns to the burial site, there is something missing.  A body.  Where are the remains of the teacher who groomed her when she was 15?

Wowsers!  What a book.  I feel emotionally drained and quite exhausted after reading Emma’s story.  But what an addictive and thrilling story from the pen of Ms Mitchell.  I couldn’t put this one down, nor did I actually want to.  Normal life was officially put on hold!

I was repulsed by smarmy, manipulative Luke and his despicable treatment of teenage Emma.  The way he spun her so many revolting lies until he got what he wanted and then pushed her aside as if she were a mere inconvenience.  My heart broke repeatedly for teenage Emma, I could really feel her hurt.  Saying that, Emma is a very troubled character from start to finish but I very much liked her.  I can’t say the same for her husband, Alex.  I would be fuming if my husband sold our house from underneath us without consulting me first.  Alex made a couple of other decisions without Emma’s involvement at other points throughout the book and boy, did it wind me up!

Would I recommend this book?  Definitely.  It’s brilliantly paced, stuffed full of suspense and you never really know what to expect next.  I loved how utterly horrible Luke Priestwood, Emma’s teacher, was.  A firm favourite for ‘villain of the year’ in my eyes and a character for us readers to despise.  But he wasn’t the only one with a touch of the darkness within and that, for me, added so much to the story.  Mitchell’s writing goes from strength to strength.  I absolutely flipping loved it!

Five out of five stars.

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

Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell was published in the UK by Thomas and Mercer on 1st March 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

Other books by Caroline Mitchell I reviewed on damppebbles: | The Silent Twin | Death Note | Sleep Tight | Murder Game |

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about the author3

caroline mitchellAn international #1 and USA Today bestselling thriller author, Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family in a village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time, with over half a million copies of her books sold.

As well as her crime series, Caroline also writes stand-alone psychological thrillers. The most recent, Silent Victim reached the Amazon number 1 spot in the UK, US and Australia. Her highly anticipated DI Amy Winter series is published by Thomas & Mercer. The first book in the series, Truth and Lies, launches on 13th September. Her works have been translated into four different languages and one of her books is featured as an interactive app, due for release in 2018.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#Poll: I love #NetGalley but…HELP!

I have something completely different for you this evening.  A step away from the usual book reviews, blog tours and CaseClosed posts I usually subject you poor souls to.

You may (or may not) know about the wonderful, if slightly addictive, reading resource known as NetGalley.  NetGalley helps readers of influence (I still laugh and blush a little when I think that includes me, ha!) discover and share the latest book releases with their audiences.  Totally awesome, right?  That is until you have 40 titles on your shelf, some of which have been there for coming up to two years *hangs head in shame*.

‘What can I do about this?’, I thought to myself.  Well, my ‘new books ban’ is supposed to help me steer clear of adding any new titles to my shelf.  That’s one step.  I then thought how fun it would be for YOU LOT to choose what I read next.

So ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourself (it’s a long list)!  You can choose as many books as you like and I will endeavour to read them in the order you, my lovely readers, select (most votes, first etc).  The poll will close on Thursday 8th March so you have a couple of days to make your decision.  What fun, huh?  My reading future is in YOUR hands…

(Oh, and I’ve taken all of my blog tour reads out.  It seemed the right thing to do.)

#BookReview: The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave (@HollyACave) @QuercusBooks #MemoryChamber

the memory chamber.jpg“YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. 
YOU CAN PRESERVE A HANDFUL OF SPECIAL MEMORIES FOR EVER. 
WHICH ONES WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

**********

True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity re-living your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.

Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.

But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…”

Wow, what a fascinating read The Memory Chamber is.  Once again I have stepped a little out of my comfort zone for this book but I’m rather liking this new, less restricted approach I’ve got going on at the moment.  I like to think I’m broadening my horizons as a reader, what do you think?

The Memory Chamber is, by and large, a futuristic thriller.  An intricate, considered and somewhat addictive thriller.  But there were other genres nudging their way in.  A smidge of romance, a sprinkling of sci-fi (or if you prefer speculative fiction) and a scattering of techno-thriller.  An interesting combination and one that held my attention from start to finish.

Imagine if you never died.  Imagine, providing you have the money and the desire (of course!), that someone could preserve and sculpt your most precious memories which you would then live for all eternity.  Your body would be disposed of but your essence would be captured and locked away in a secure lab.  Reliving the moments that made you the happiest, over and over again.  That’s what Isobel does for a living.  She is a Heaven Architect and will design your perfect Heaven.  But when Isobel meets Jarek the last thing she expects is to fall in love with her client.  Her young, attractive, terminally ill, MARRIED client.  When Jarek’s wife is discovered murdered, Isobel is determined to prove his innocence at any cost and is thrown into a world of suspicion ultimately discovering not all is as she first believed…

If I had to come up with one word to describe The Memory Chamber it would be ‘fascinating’.  The idea of a synthetic Heaven totally piqued my interest and made me read every single word of this book, from start to finish.  Very much like the idea of my recent other ‘science fiction-y’ read, The Feed did.  I’m not normally one for romantic relationships in my stories but the spark between Isobel and Jarek was quite tantalising.  It certainly didn’t put me off finishing the book!  What I would have liked was a little more mystery, but then I’m a crime reader and that’s my thing!

You can’t help but want to talk to others about this book and the ethical questions it raises.  Is the idea of a self-designed Heaven something that appeals to you?  Or would you rather just take your chances and wait to see what’s on the other side?  It’s a very original and brave choice of subject matter by the author and she has handled it incredibly well.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  Particularly if you’re looking for something a bit different.  I found Isobel a little annoying at times, Jarek a little creepy but it all added to the reading experience for me.  And that cover, OH.MY.GOSH – how stunning is that?! Overall an absolutely fascinating journey and I look forward to seeing what Cave gives us next.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Memory Chamber.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave is published in the UK by Quercus Books on 22nd February 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow later this year (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

holly cave.jpgNow living in Bedford with my family, I’m a long way from my roots by the sea, in Torquay, Devon. But I’m a traveller at heart, so who knows how long we’ll stay?

Although my Dad was a writer, and we spent much of my childhood writing and telling stories, I never thought that I could make a career out of it. I studied Biology at Imperial College London, followed by a Masters in Science Communication. After four years as a Contemporary Content Producer at the Science Museum, I turned freelance, quit my job, and headed off on a round-the-world trip with my now-husband. It was the best thing I ever did.

On our journey, I finally found the headspace and time to write my first novel, The Generation, which I self-published a few years later. I built up my science writing portfolio on the road and came back a little bit poorer but ready to start again, this time without any fear of failure.

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

Author image and bio © https://www.hollycave.co.uk/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Reunion by Samantha Hayes (@samhayes) @bookouture #TheReunion

the reunion cover.jpg“They were all there the day your sister went missing. 

Who is lying? Who is next?

THEN – In charge of her little sister at the beach, Claire allowed Eleanor to walk to the shop alone to buy an ice cream. Placing a coin into her hand, Claire told her to be quick, knowing how much she wanted the freedom.

Eleanor never came back.

NOW – The time has finally come to sell the family farm and Claire is organising a reunion of her dearest friends, the same friends who were present the day her sister went missing.

When another girl disappears, long-buried secrets begin to surface. One of the group hides the darkest secret of them all…

If you loved Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, this gripping psychological thriller packed full of twists and turns will be impossible to put down.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Reunion blog tour which I share with the fabulous Meggy over at Chocolate’n’Waffles.  The Reunion is written by Samantha Hayes and was published by Bookouture on 9th February 2018.

Tragedy struck Claire and her family one sunny day at the beach when her thirteen-year-old sister, Lenni went missing.  The family has suffered on a daily basis since that traumatic day, always hoping Lenni will find her way home, but secretly knowing that it is more likely Lenni died all those years ago.  Despite the heartbreak of the past, Claire still remembers her childhood fondly.  She is particularly fond of recounting how involved in her childhood her father was, how he was almost a surrogate father to many of her friends.  But Patrick, her father, is ill.  Having being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s all Claire and her family can do is watch their father fade away.  But Claire has an idea.  She plans to organise a reunion, an opportunity to talk, reminisce and remember the good times and hopefully help Patrick feel a little better, particularly as Patrick’s wife plans to sell the farm as soon as possible.  So Claire contacts her group of friends; Maggie her best friend, Jason her younger brother who has been estranged from the family for a number of years and Nick, her first love and the one who got away.  With the best intentions, she hopes to have a fun-filled week at the family’s idyllic Cornish farm remembering happy times.  But how long can the secrets remain hidden?  After all, the group of friends were all present that fateful day Lenni went missing.  And someone knows something…

I found The Reunion to be an interesting and enjoyable read.  It’s a slow burn of a tale and I enjoyed meeting Hayes’s strong cast of characters, soaking up the dramatic and dreamy setting and searching for the elusive clues as to what happened to Lenni on that heartbreaking day.  I must say, however, and I’m sure I will be in the minority on this one but Claire, our main protagonist, got on my nerves.  She came across to me as too eager, too darn subservient, and a little too naive for my tastes.  I also hated her husband, Callum, and was desperate for her to stand up to this misogynistic @rs3 of a man.  Grr.  But I always think that’s the sign of a good writer, someone who can make you feel real emotion whether it be positive or negative for their characters.  Other characters I absolutely loved.

The tagline of this book is ‘an utterly gripping thriller with a jaw-dropping twist’.  And oh my gosh, it is rather spectacular.  I didn’t see that coming at all and despite finishing reading The Reunion last week I am still living that twist on a fairly regular basis.  It’s the kind of shock to the system that I LOVE in my thrillers, plus it adds an extra dollop of darkness to the story.  Absolutely flipping brilliant!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s a strong psychological thriller with a killer twist.  Great characters, a breathtaking setting and if you like a slow build to a staggering conclusion then you will absolutely love it.  I would happily pick up another book written by Samantha Hayes and get lost in her words.

Four out of five stars.

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

The Reunion by Samantha Hayes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 9th February 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

samantha hayes.jpgSamantha Hayes grew up in a creative family where her love of writing began as a child. Samantha has written eight thrillers in total, including the bestselling Until You’re Mine. The Independent said “fantastically written and very tense” while Good Housekeeping said “Her believable psychological thrillers are completely gripping.” Samantha’s books are published in 22 languages at the last count.

When not writing, Samantha loves to cook, go to the gym, see friends and drink nice wine. She is also studying for a degree in psychotherapy. She has three grown-up children and lives in Warwickshire.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Force of Nature by Jane Harper (@janeharperautho) @LittleBrownUK @kimberleynyam #ForceOfNature

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“FIVE WENT OUT. FOUR CAME BACK…

Is Alice here? Did she make it? Is she safe? In the chaos, in the night, it was impossible to say which of the four had asked after Alice’s welfare. Later, when everything got worse, each would insist it had been them.

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged landscape is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Force of Nature blog tour. Author Jane Harper’s debut, The Dry, was such a hit among readers last year that many of us have been eagerly anticipating this second book in the Aaron Falk series. In fact, The Dry was a favourite on many ‘books of 2017’ lists and was mentioned several times as part of my #R3COMM3ND3D2017 feature. I read and reviewed The Dry towards the end of 2017 and thoroughly enjoyed the desolate small-town feeling Harper conveys in her writing, along with the struggle to cope during a long and exhaustive drought.

I guess the question is, was Force of Nature worth the wait? Oh yes. It was definitely worth the wait. I would go as far as saying I preferred Force of Nature to The Dry marginally. But then, I’m a sucker for survival stories. I devour books where we humans are pushed to our limits in the most extreme of circumstances.

Having read both of Jane Harper’s novels what stands out the most is how she excels at writing the landscape and setting of her tales. In The Dry we had drought-struck Kiewarra. In Force of Nature we have the Giralang Ranges with lots of wild, overgrown bushland ready and waiting to show you your worst nightmare!

Ten colleagues at BaileyTennants are pushed out of the comfort of the office and into the inhospitable and unforgiving wilderness. Two teams up against each other; five men and five women. The retreat, organised by professional outfit Executive Adventures is totally safe – after all, they’ve been doing this for years and haven’t had any problems (well, no major problems anyway). But when the group of women veer from the correct trail, they blunder further away from civilisation and closer to the hidden dangers of the bush. Tensions fray, accidents happen and food and water supplies rapidly dwindle. Then Alice goes missing. What happened to Alice? Has she made it back to base? Is she safe?

I loved the suspense of this novel. One of the best whodunnits I’ve read in a while. I was highly suspicious of all the characters from start to finish and oh my gosh, I couldn’t stop turning the pages! Federal Agent Aaron Falk and colleague Carmen are aware of Alice before she becomes a missing person. Without her employer’s knowledge, Alice has been assisting Falk in investigating BaileyTennants by providing the much-needed hard evidence. At least, as far as Falk was concerned business owners Daniel and Jill Bailey weren’t aware of their employees double-cross. But now with Alice missing, questions need to be asked. The author has created so many red herrings and double bluffs that the outcome could be any one of several different options. An incredibly well-written and dramatic piece of crime fiction.

Despite this book being part of the Aaron Falk series I personally felt the story wasn’t really about Falk. Yes, we do discover more about this intriguing character, more about his upbringing and his strained relationship with his father. But for me, my focus whilst reading was entirely on this disparate group of five women. They held my attention 100%. I adored the flashback sequences where the reader gets to see the uncomfortable friction between the colleagues. In fact, I think I preferred these sections to the chapters set during the search for Alice. I didn’t particularly like any of the women but I felt as though I was there, with them, tramping through the Australian bush.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. Force of Nature can easily be read as a standalone but why would you bother when you can also read the excellent The Dry. I loved the desolation, the gradual loss of hope emanating from Harper’s characters as they plunged deeper and deeper into unknown territory and the masterful way the suspense builds throughout the story. Atmospheric, unsettling and gripping from start to finish.

Five out of five stars.

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

Force of Nature by Jane Harper was published in the UK by Little, Brown on 8th February 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links)
| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Thursday 8th February

about the author3

jane harper.jpg

Jane Harper was born in Manchester in the UK, and moved to Australia with her family at age eight.

She spent six years in Boronia, Victoria, and during that time gained Australian citizenship.

Returning to the UK with her family as a teenager, she lived in Hampshire before studying English and History at the University of Kent in Canterbury.

On graduating, she completed a journalism entry qualification and got her first reporting job as a trainee on the Darlington & Stockton Timesin County Durham.

Jane worked for several years as a senior news journalist for the Hull Daily Mail, before moving back to Australia in 2008.

She worked first on the Geelong Advertiser, and in 2011 took up a role with the Herald Sun in Melbourne.

In 2014, Jane submitted a short story which was one of 12 chosen for the Big Issue‘s annual Fiction Edition.

That inspired her to pursue creative writing more seriously, and that year she applied for an online 12-week novel writing course.

She was accepted with a submission for the book that would become The Dry.

Jane lives in St Kilda with her husband and daughter.

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

Author image and bio © http://janeharper.com.au/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BookReview: The Feed by Nick Clark Windo (@nickhdclark) @headlinepg #NeedTheFeed #TheFeed

the feed.jpg

“Tom and Kate’s daughter turns six tomorrow, and they have to tell her about sleep.
If you sleep unwatched, you could be Taken. If you are Taken, then watching won’t save you.
Nothing saves you.

Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams.
If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?

For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore.

The threat is closer than they realise…”

Not my usual fare, I know, but when I read the blurb of The Feed and when I witnessed the fantastic PR stunt the folks at Headline pulled the day they revealed this book on Twitter, I knew I HAD to read it. (And if you’re wondering what the stunt was, the Headline twitter ‘feed’ went down. Their profile picture was a solid black square, their twitter header was the same. Something had gone ‘seriously wrong’ and it was fascinating to see how people reacted. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea and whoever was manning the Headline timeline that day. It was pitched perfectly and worked a treat!)

The Feed is a dystopian thriller with a hefty dose of sci-fi added to the mix. Like I said, not my usual fare but I think it’s good to step out of your comfort zone every now and then, especially for a genre reader like myself. I tend to enjoy dystopian thrillers, there’s often a very strong crime component in many dystopian tales which will always appeal to me. However, the sci-fi element did make me a little nervous.  I am not a sci-fi reader, I have very little experience of reading sci-fi (does Douglas Adams count?) and I felt a little out of my depth. But I was so keen to read The Feed that I put these feelings to one side. And I fell head over heels in love with the start of this book. I was smitten. I loved learning what The Feed meant to the characters encapsulated in this strange online world, in particular to Tom and Kate our lead characters. I loved the idea of the Feed and I was well and truly gripped. So gripped I couldn’t stop telling my husband about the Feed, reading sections out to him while he politely smiled and nodded.

When the Feed went down I was on the edge of my seat, lost in this new savage world and I didn’t want to put the novel down. What the characters lost was heartbreaking, so clearly a destructive addiction ready to tear it’s users apart. Powerful, thought-provoking and very intense writing from this talented debut author.

The writing throughout the book is superb. The author has a talent for creating a scene in his reader’s minds, so sharp and so crisp. The issues raised in the book gave me a lot to think about. I want to talk to other readers about this book and that’s always a good sign, right? (In fact, I would love to know. If you have read The Feed, would you want to be enabled or would you be a Resister? Let me know in the comments.)

I will say one thing. I loved, loved, loved the start of this book. The middle section and the end were well written but I found myself losing interest a little. I loved the author’s ability to transport you to a world where you wouldn’t necessarily want to live or stay for any amount of time. But I was just a smidge disappointed with the middle section and the conclusion. I keep asking myself whether this book just wasn’t for me but then I remind myself how much I enjoyed the start, so that can’t be the case.

Having sat here staring at the screen for a few minutes I think I’ve worked it out. The Feed ‘COULD’ happen. It’s something that ‘may’ be in our future. We’re already all glued to our phones and tablets 24/7 so would it be such a great leap to move to something like the Feed? Maybe not. The later sections of the book I think I found harder to believe and that may be where my problem lies. Regular readers of the blog will know that I like my crime reads to be real (for example, I struggle with certain supernatural elements) and that may be the issue for me here. I didn’t believe enough and that could be why my attention waned. Going back to my earlier question and flipping it a little, maybe I’m not the right type of reader for this book…?

Would I recommend this book? This is a well written, interesting novel which raises a lot of pertinent questions. I would recommend it, yes. And I would pick up a second novel by author Nick Clark Windo in a heartbeat. I strangely love the idea of the Feed in a fictional sense. I’m not so sure about in an actual, physical sense though. What do you think? This book really got me thinking and I liked that!

Four out of five stars.

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

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo was published in the UK by Headline Books on 25th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow later this year) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | (please note, the above Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links)

about the author3

nick clark windo.jpeg

Nick Clark Windo studied English Literature at Cambridge and acting at RADA, and he now works as a film producer and screenwriter. Inspired by his realisation that people are becoming increasingly disconnected from one another, and questions about identity and memory, The Feed is his debut novel. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: Final Girls by Riley Sager (@riley_sager) @EburyPublishing #MyBookof2017 #PaperbackPublicationDay #FinalGirls

final girls“FIRST THERE WERE THREE

The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma.

THEN THERE WERE TWO

But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced o her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or…

CAN THERE ONLY EVER BE ONE?

All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

An unbelievably gripping psychological thriller full of twists you’ll NEVER see coming. Fans of In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, The Girl Before by JP Delaney and Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear will love Final Girls.”

Eeeeekkk!  I am one happy little book blogger as my absolute FAVOURITE book of 2017 (and a new resident on my ‘favourite books of all time’ list) is published in fabulous paperback today!  The mighty FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager is now available in paperback and I cannot wait to see a copy on the shelves.  There will be shrieking and there will most certainly be purchasing.  I have an eBook copy but oh my gosh, I would KILL for a physical copy on my bookshelves!

Anyway, enough of my fangirling (for a moment!).  To celebrate the paperback publication of this awesome book (it’s awesome, buy a copy!).  I want to republish my review from last year.  Oh.my.gosh. I just LOVE this book!

my review2

I am feeling quite giddy today.  Giddy because it’s been a long time since a book has resonated with me quite like the mighty Final Girls did.  Having recently turned the last page I feel drained, I feel bereft, I feel strangely empowered, I want to shout from the rooftops exactly how much I enjoyed reading this incredible piece of fiction.  I think it’s fair to say I LOVED Final Girls by Riley Sager!

From the moment I saw that cover, read the blurb and read a couple of early reviews I knew this was going to be a new favourite read.  In a very egotistical way, it feels as though it was written just for me.  I say that because it’s everything I WANT in a book.  You know that age-old advice to wannabe authors?  They say write the book YOU would want to read?  Well, I’m afraid that won’t be happening for me because this is the book I want to read and it’s been written!  I actually feel envious of those that haven’t  read Final Girls yet – I would give almost anything to be able to read this book for the first time again!

Quincy Carpenter is a Final Girl.  Not by choice, no one chooses to be a Final Girl.  There are two other women who lay claim to the title, thanks to two separate massacres several years apart.  Quincy is the newest addition to the exclusive little group and the most reluctant to adopt the title.  She would rather forget everything that happened to her and her friends that fateful night in the woods.  She barely remembers what happened anyway thanks to selective memory loss, and that’s just fine by her!  When the original Final Girl, Lisa Milner, turns up dead in an apparent suicide bid, Quincy is stunned.  She cannot understand why Lisa would take her own life after everything she survived at her sorority house in Indiana.  She’s even more shocked when elusive, mysterious Samantha Boyd – the only other remaining Final Girl shows up at her apartment.  Having hidden from her family and, well, life for years now Quincy cannot understand why Samantha all of a sudden wants to get to know her.  Has Lisa’s suicide brought the two survivors together? Or is it something else completely….?

Where to start..?!  I’m normally a fan of the characters in a book but this time it was more about the situation, for me.  Ninety percent of the time I really liked Quincy, but she also irritated me with her refusal to accept or even acknowledge her past.  For this reason I despised her attorney boyfriend, Jefferson, and Quincy’s negligent mother for encouraging her to look to the future, not the past and suggesting she try her best to be ‘normal’.  Samantha was mysterious from the moment she arrived in the story and I couldn’t for the life of me work out what she was up to.

I absolutely loved the flashback sections where the reader is transported to that night in the woods ten years ago.  There is the most wonderful horror movie vibe about the events of that night which made me feel nervous and apprehensive, despite having a fair idea of what was going to happen.  The pressure mounts as Quincy begins to slowly recall her memories, filling in some pretty frightening gaps and realising what secrets she has kept since that blood filled night.  It’s fantastically written and so very well done.  I loved it!

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  It’s a new favourite and one I will be driving everyone around me crazy with!  I’m so excited that this book exists – it’s perfect and I want everyone to read it so you can all see how awesome it is as well.  Brilliantly addictive, deliciously dark and everything I want in a book! Superb.

Five out of five stars.

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

Final Girls by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Ebury Press on 25th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.comWaterstones | Goodreads | (Please note, the above Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links).

about the author3

riley sager.jpgRiley 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 |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker (@Bookwalter) @bookouture

Keep-Her-Safe-Kindle.jpg“How far would you go to protect your child?

Maggie’s daughter Penny is her whole world… and she’d do anything to protect her. So when Maggie wakes one night to find a strange woman in her home, she runs to lock herself in her bedroom with her child. But Maggie knows why she’s come… 

Someone has been targeting mothers and offering them a choice: do as he says or their child disappears. This stranger in her home has until dawn to follow his orders… but Maggie too has the ‘choice’ to make. Can she put the pieces together to stop the cycle before her time is up?

An edge-of-your-seat thriller that will keep you guessing until the last page. Perfect for fans of Adam Croft and Tess Gerritsen.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my stop on the Keep Her Safe blog tour.  Keep Her Safe is written by Richard Parker and is the third of Parker’s books published by the mighty Bookouture.  I am a great fan of Richard Parker’s writing having previously read and reviewed his other two Bookouture releases, HIDE AND SEEK and FOLLOW YOU.  I loved Follow You so much, it made it onto my Top Ten Books of 2017.

So, with this in mind, I was excited to make a start on Keep Her Safe.  Really, REALLY flipping excited.  And what a book!  What an absolutely brilliant hook!  Richard Parker has done it again, he’s created the stuff nightmares are made of.

Having sat here for 10 minutes staring at a fairly empty screen I have realised that this is going to be a hard review to write.  Not because I didn’t enjoy the book (I loved the book!) but because I don’t want to be the one dishing out spoilers left, right and centre.  There are things not mentioned in the blurb above which are key to the storyline.  Now I could bring them into my review but that seems totally unfair to you, the reader.  So I’m going to be as vague as possible and say that the impossible situation Parker’s characters get themselves into was the killer hook for me, it was everything and made me fall head over heels in love with this book!  Where Parker’s ideas come from, I would LOVE to know.  It really is the stuff of nightmares.

The beginning is shocking, dark and quite disturbing.  It made me think, ‘what if…?’.  The end took me to places I never expected it to.  It comes like a bolt out of the blue and knocks you sideways.  I promise you won’t see it coming.  I have to be 100% honest at this point and confess that at times, during the middle section, I did find my attention drifting a little.  There was lots of action but the initial hook had been blunted a little and the focus of the story had shifted elsewhere.  Still a terrific piece of writing but after the intense, high drama of the opening chapters, I guess I wanted more of that and less of the ‘comrades joining together against a common enemy’ (all very cloak and dagger but I’m trying to be vague, hahaha).  The spikiness of the story was suddenly less…spiky.  I liked the spikiness, I would have liked a little more spike in the main body of the story.  I’ll shut up now….

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!  It’s brilliant and the slightly slower middle section doesn’t change my opinion of that.  If you want a book that will, in parts, leave you breathless with shock then this is the one.  Totally gripping, very unexpected and leaves you asking yourself, ‘what would I do?’.  Another BRILLIANT thriller from the pen of Richard Parker.  I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next!

Five stars out of five.

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

Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker was published in the UK by Bookouture on 11th January 2018 and is available in eBook format (the following amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

Keep Her Safe - Blog Tour.jpg

about the author3

RichardParkerPicRichard Parker was formerly a TV script writer, script editor and producer before turning his hand to penning twisted standalone thrillers.

KEEP HER SAFE is the latest book to be published by Bookouture on January 11th 2018.

HIDE AND SEEK was his fifth book published in August 2017.

FOLLOW YOU was his fourth psychological thriller. Reviewers are saying it’s Bookouture’s darkest crime novel to date.

STALK ME was his third and rode high in the UK and US charts.

SCARE ME was his second. Hollywood movie rights have been acquired by major US studio, Relativity Media. Star of PRISON BREAK and screenwriter of dark horror thriller STOKER, Wentworth Miller, has written the big screen adaptation.

STOP ME, Richard’s darkly fiendish debut, was shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award.

Author Links:Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website |