#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

Advertisements

#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 |

the reunion.jpg

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

force of nature.jpg

“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 |

#BookReview: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney (@alicewriterland) @HQStories

sometimes I lie.jpgMy name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me: 
1. I’m in a coma. 
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore. 
3. Sometimes I lie. 

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?”

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney was such a huge book with an impossible to ignore buzz about it earlier this year.  I bit NetGalley’s hand off when I realised it was up for request.  Little did I know at the time that I would have to wait MONTHS before finding the time to read it.  My FOMO* really kicked in when, stood with a very good friend at Harrogate during the Dead Good Reader Awards I happened to mention my suspicion that the lady stood to my left was the author, Alice Feeney.  Well, my friend came over all giddy and went up to Alice immediately to introduce herself and commend her on Sometimes I Lie.  Yup, FOMO sucks.  I shall also mention that just behind Alice stood C. L. Taylor and to our right was the incredible Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books with one of my all-time favourite authors, Steph Broadribb!  This is the only time in my life I will ever get to namedrop so please let me have my moment, will you?

But I digress.  What I’m trying to get across (and probably failing) is that I was so very keen to read this book but time was against me.  That was until I was caught waiting for what seemed like hours at the dentist without a book.  And there, sat on my Kindle, was Sometimes I Lie.  The responsible book blogger would have opted for their next January blog tour read, but I couldn’t remember what was next so I went with what I wanted to read instead.  Plus I was at the dentist and it felt like I was being kind to myself ahead of the agonising filling which was coming my way!

I was immediately suspicious of the main protagonist, Amber Reynolds.  Before the reader turns to the first page they are made aware by the cover, by the blurb, that Amber sometimes lies.  Now, I am a naturally suspicious person – not helped by mostly reading books about people doing bad, underhand things in order to save their own skin or to enhance their own enjoyment of life.  So much so that when my husband was asked as a favour to take a couple of items of clothing to a meeting he was attending overseas for a colleague, I asked him if he’d checked the lining of the suit for any hidden drugs.  Am I weird?  Maybe.  So I was on high alert, trying to work out what, in Amber’s case, was true and what was not.  I totally failed.  All I did was over analyse everything instead of just relaxing and enjoying the book.  My advice to you if you intend on picking up a copy of Sometimes I Lie is don’t scrutinise every little thing – just enjoy it because it’s a corking story.

Amber Reynolds is in a coma.  She cannot move, cannot speak, cannot blink but she hears nearly everything that happens in her hospital room.  I really enjoyed the way the author has provided the reader with three different viewpoints; Amber’s as she lies uncommunicative in her hospital bed, a look at the events leading up to the accident and diary entries from a somewhat sinister, unknown child 20 years or so ago.  Amber cannot remember what happened to put her in the coma.  She overhears conversations which confirm she was in a car accident but she was the only victim.  So until Amber wakes up and remembers, the incident will remain a mystery.

Chock full of twists that seem to come out of nowhere and leave you wondering ‘how did that happen?’, or ‘gosh, I really didn’t see that coming!’, this is a complex psychological thriller which leaves the reader feeling both a little mystified but also fully satisfied.  I loved the character of Amber, even when she was doing odd, unexplainable things.  I was still rooting for her.  I did manage to work out one aspect of the book about half way through but until my suspicions were confirmed, I did frequently doubt myself.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  Fans of the unreliable narrator will adore this twisty, turny read.  I spent the entire time I was reading Sometimes I Lie wondering exactly how much I actually knew about Amber and her story.  The answer in hindsight, ‘not a lot!’.  Complex, intricate, highly original and difficult to put down.  I can’t wait to read more from Alice Feeney.

Four stars out of five.

*FOMO = Fear of Missing Out

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

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney was published in the UK by HQ on 23rd March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please be aware that the following Amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.comWaterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

alice feeney.jpgAlice Feeney is a writer and journalist. She spent 15 years at the BBC, where she worked as a Reporter, News Editor, Arts and Entertainment Producer and One O’clock News Producer.

Alice is has lived in London and Sydney and has now settled in the Surrey countryside, where she lives with her husband and dog.

Sometimes I Lie is her debut thriller and is being published around the world in 2017.

Author Bio © https://www.alicefeeney.com/

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Wrong Child by #BarryGornell @orionbooks @orion_crime @BenWillisUK

the wrong child.jpg“Twenty-one of the 22 children in a rural village die in a disaster. By chance, the ‘wrong’ child, Dog Evans, lives. Crippled with survivor’s guilt, his parents abandon Evans to a feral life at the margins. He is shunned by those left behind, for whom his presence is a daily insult, a reminder of unbearable loss.

As the action moves from past to present and back, we learn what took place and its shocking consequences for both Dog Evans and the wider community. Gornell’s forensic gaze dissects the lives of the bereaved, fractured relationships and existences frozen the day their children died….

Deborah Cutter, separated from her husband, John, numbs her pain with alcohol and sex. Local postman Nugget holds tight to the hope that the Evans house contains valuable secrets. Parish priest Father Wittin is an embarrassing irrelevance….

As grief turns to rage, the villagers’ insatiable desire for catharsis, one final blood sacrifice, becomes unstoppable. The master of ‘rural noir’, Barry Gornell has created a mesmerising, heartbreaking examination of rural life with a remarkable note of hope within the darkness.”

Oh. My. Gosh.  Oh. My. Flipping. Gosh!  I recently read a book which totally blew me away and surpassed every other read to make it to the number one spot on my ‘books of the year’ list.  Little did I expect at the time that a similar thing would happen, only a month or so later!  The Wrong Child by Barry Gornell is a book I have seen mentioned on only a small number of blogs.  This is a travesty.  More people need to read this exceptional book.  More people need to immerse themselves in the dark and destructive world of Dog Evans and the broken people left behind.

On a fateful snowy day, the roof of the local school collapses killing everyone inside.  Everyone except Douglas ‘Dog’ Evans.  So many young lives snuffed out in the blink of an eye, children ranging in age from 5 to 12.  How would you expect a small town of close-knit neighbours and friends to react to such a disaster? Lots of support, revering the lone survivor?  Certainly not, not when the survivor is Dog Evans.  Dog Evans is The Wrong Child.  Of all the children to survive, why did it have to be him?  Dog becomes the emblem of everything the town has lost, everything that’s missing and the reason why every single day hurts.

The reader meets Dog Evans some seven years later.  No longer is he an adolescent thirteen-year-old but a young man, approaching his twentieth birthday.  Dog has been abandoned by his parents, as a child,  left to fend in every which way for himself.  The sheer guilt of being Dog’s parents has driven them away.  The reader questions the morality of Dog’s parents, Shep and Rebecca as they apparently willingly walk away from their one child.  It’s only as you progress through the story that the author begins to give you snippets of information, glances into the past and expertly begins to build this small town’s painful story.

Each chapter is either set in the present day, seven years after the incident, or the past.  The chapters set in the past focus on each of the children killed that day and the lead up to the tragedy.  What I found incredibly eerie and unsettling was that each chapter is headed by a partially burnt photo of the child the chapter is about.  This is a devastating tale in itself but these photos added so much more emotion for me.  My heart ached for these fictional children.  I was mesmerised.

The town is one hundred percent guilty and to watch these characters deal with that guilt in their differing ways was a riveting experience for me.  The priest, Father Wittin, was a particularly interesting case (I can’t say any more, buy the book to find out what I’m on about!).  A glance into the dark side of human nature…

Would I recommend this book?  Oh my goodness, I will go on about this book for YEARS to come.  It’s hypnotic and so beautifully dark.  I was enchanted and disgusted in equal measure, it’s absolutely everything I want in a book.  I am traumatised but I LOVED it.  I could not put this book down, nor did I want to.  Easily one of my books of the year (one for the books of all time list..?).  I was left heartbroken that it was over.  Absolute literary perfection!

Five out of five stars.

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

The Wrong Child by Barry Gornell was published in the UK by Orion Books on 2nd November 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

BarryGornell_900.jpgBarry Gornell was born in Liverpool and now lives on the West Coast of Scotland. He is a novelist/screenwriter, ex fire-fighter, truck driver and bookshop manager. His short films Sonny’s Pride and The Race were broadcast on STV. Graduating from the University of Glasgow Creative Writing Masters programme in 2008, he was awarded a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Bursary in 2009. His short fiction has been published in The Herald newspaper, Let’s Pretend, 37 stories about (in)fidelity, Gutter 03 and Gutter 04The Healing of Luther Grove was his first novel followed by The Wrong Child, which was originally published by Scottish press Freight Books in 2016.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Mother by S.E.Lynes (@SELynesAuthor) @bookouture

Mother-Kindle.jpeg“How far would you go for the perfect family?

When Christopher Harris climbs into his family’s dusty attic, he finds a battered old suitcase containing a letter. Inside the letter is a secret; a secret about his mother that changes everything. 

Every mother loves their child. Every child deserves to be loved. But Christopher has grown up so lonely it hurts. 

Finally, Christopher thinks he has a chance at happiness. A happiness he will do anything to protect, whatever the cost…

An unputdownable thriller about the lies we tell and the secrets we keep, Mother will hold you breathless until the very last page and leave you reeling. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Apple Tree Yard.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn, and the final stop, on the Mother blog tour.  Mother is the brand new psychological thriller from one of my favourite authors, S.E. Lynes.  I absolutely fell head over heels in love with Susie’s debut, Valentina.  So much so, I encouraged my own mum who is brand new to the psychological thriller genre to read it.  Needless to say, she loved it!  It also featured highly on my ‘top books of the year’ list in 2016.  If you would like a recap or if you missed it the first time, check out my review of Valentina HERE.

This is S.E. Lynes first release with Bookouture.  It is also one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year.  No pressure, huh?!  I can’t deny, my expectations were high.  I felt nervous, excited and a little apprehensive as I started to read the first page on my Kindle.  The prologue is wonderfully violent and immediately appealed to my darker side.  However, from there the story takes a more sedate turn.  The writing, as I would expect from S.E. Lynes, is excellent.  I just wanted something more to happen.  I’ll lay my cards on the table as I’m one for 100% honesty in reviews, I really struggled with the first half of this book.  Not all psychological thrillers are a thrill-a-minute joyride, I understand that.  I have enjoyed the slow build to a shocking conclusion.  I have enjoyed a particular character’s torment as their impending comeuppance looms with sharp fangs in the shadows.  I just didn’t get that with the first half of Mother.  Something, for me, was missing in that first half.  However, the second half was a different story altogether, I absolutely loved the second half of this book.

The reader is introduced to a young man by the name of Christopher Harris.  Christopher finds out by chance that he is adopted.  Something he has secretly known for many years.  After all, he doesn’t ‘fit’ with his family.  The discovery is made just as departs his Morecambe home for Leeds University.  Turning his back on his parents, Margaret and Jack, and their reserved way of life, he heads out into the big wide world with one mission; to find his birth mother.  Christopher is a restrained chap so follows the correct procedures in his search, an emotionally charged search which leads him to Liverpool and to the arms of Phyllis, the mother he’s always wanted.  Christopher is a new man.  He dresses differently, he behaves differently, his life is finally what he has always wanted it to be.  But when someone threatens his perfect life, Christopher needs to act.  How far will he go to make sure his life remains perfect…?

Christopher doesn’t tell his own story which I thought was an interesting way for the author to tell his tale.  The detective in me spent most of the first half trying to work out who the narrator was and I’m pleased to say I got it right fairly early on (but then convinced myself otherwise as the story progressed!).  I found the relationship between Christopher and his birth mother, Phyllis, a little odd.  Actually, scrap that, it was uncomfortably intense which is why I think I struggled to connect with any of the characters in Mother.  I desperately want to talk about the second half of the book but fear in doing so I’ll be dropping spoilers left, right and centre.  So I’ll just say the last half of the book is deliciously dark and quite surprising.

Would I recommend this book?  I love Lynes’s writing and I would pick up another book by the author in less than a heartbeat.  However, I did find the first half quite slow but I’m so glad I persevered as the last half is really rather wonderful.  Christopher’s story took a little too long to get going for me.  But that’s just me, you may have a totally different experience.  I would recommend this book but with a caveat, that being the first half may not grab you as would hope.  Stick with it, it’s worth it.

Four stars out of five.

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

Mother by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 22nd November 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

MOTHER - Blog tour.jpeg

about the author3

S E Lynes Author Photo.pngAfter graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington. Her first novel, Valentina, published by Blackbird Digital Books, came out in July 2016. Her follow up novel, Mother, is published by Bookouture.

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell (@Caroline_writes) @bookouture

Murder-Game-Kindle (1).jpg“A serial killer is playing a terrifying game of life or death with his victims. After he captures them, a countdown begins. He marks the time by sending clues to the whereabouts of the women he has taken in three disturbing images: alive, tortured, dead. 

In a race against the clock, East London Detective Ruby Preston must play the twisted killer’s terrifying murder game and decipher the clues before more women die… 

But this isn’t the first time the police have seen such a sickening crime. The notorious Lonely Hearts Killer, Mason Gatley, was put behind bars ten years ago for murdering six women in exactly the same chilling way. Desperate for more information, Ruby persuades her boyfriend, Nathan Crosby, to use his criminal connections to set up a dangerous meeting. Because to catch this killer, she needs to think like one… 

But the closer Ruby grows to the dark and charming Mason Gatley, the more worried her team become. Is Mason really helping her catch the killer? Or is he lining Ruby up to be his next victim?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Peter James will be hooked by this dark and utterly disturbing thriller, packed with twists until the final page.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to the blog today as I am one of seven blogs kicking off the Murder Game blog blitz.  Make sure you check out these other awesome blogs taking part in day one of the tour; Novel DeelightsMy Chestnut Reading TreeNovel GossipChapter in my LifeI Love Reading and I Dig Books (And Dirt).  And the rest of the blog blitz is shaping up rather nicely, so don’t miss out! 

Murder Game is the third book in the Detective Ruby Preston series written by Caroline Mitchell and published by Bookouture.  I am such a fan of this series and have reviewed both of the previous books on damppebbles in the past (click HERE for my review of book one, Death Note and click HERE for my review of book two, Sleep Tight).  My love for Ruby and her tough guy beau, Nathan is pretty darn strong so there was no way on earth I was going to miss this latest instalment.

The first two books shine so brightly for me because they’re exactly what I enjoy reading; a delusional yet completely different serial killer in each book with a pretty consistent M.O.  The killer knows what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and they’re going to keep on doing it until Ruby and DI Downes catch them.  Perfect!  The reader is introduced to another dark and evil mind in Murder Game but this time there’s a rather sinister twist.  Convicted of six murders, named The Lonely Hearts Killer and stuck behind bars for a few more years, Ruby has the displeasure of meeting Mason Gatley.  It seems their latest offender is basing his crimes on Gatley’s from back in the day (DI Downes was a DC at the time so we’re talking a few years ago!).  I loved the tension Gatley brought to the pages of Murder Game.  What a thoroughly loathsome character but I have to confess to secretly enjoying Ruby’s stand-offs with the vile killer!

What makes this series stand out head and shoulders above others is the relationship between Detective Sergeant Ruby Preston and the love of her life, local gangster, Nathan Crosby.  The chemistry between the two characters really sparks and my reaction to them in the first book really surprised me, especially as romantic relationships don’t really work for me in crime fiction (if I wanted soppy stuff I would read romance – that’s my opinion anyway!).  I felt that chemistry was lacking a little in Murder Game.  It certainly wasn’t as full on or as intense as the first two novels and I missed it.

If I’m honest, I felt the entire Crosby family were a little absent in this latest instalment.  Murder Game focuses more on the investigation rather than the relationships between the characters.  With any other series this would have pleased me no end but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed.  I wanted more of Nathan’s mother and her inherent dislike of Ruby because she’s a copper.  More of Nathan’s caustic, sadistic brother, Lenny who always lends a vile edge to the story.  I really felt their absence.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  If you’re a fan of the serial killer thriller then you really must read this series because it’s incredibly special and one of my all-time favourites.  I adore Ruby Preston and I adore Mitchell’s writing.

Four out of five stars.

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

Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell was published in the UK by Bookouture on 31st October 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

Murder Game - Blog Tour 2.jpg

about the author3

IMG_6478USA Today Bestselling Thriller Author.

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her family, parrot and two dogs in a pretty 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. Published by Bookouture and Thomas & Mercer, she now writes full time and all her books have become number 1 best sellers in their categories.

Her fast-paced DC Jennifer Knight thrillers carry a hint of the supernatural and are weaved from Caroline’s personal experiences in the police and paranormal.

Set in Shoreditch, London, her DS Ruby Preston series is described as “terrifying, addictive serial killer thrillers”.

 Caroline also writes psychological thrillers, the most recent, Witness, has been described as “thrilling, tense, exciting, dark and twisted in the best possible way”.

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