#BlogTour | #BookReview: Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner (@Ronnie__Turner) @HQDigitalUK #LiesBetweenUs #WhereIsBonnie?

Lies Between Us.jpg“Will they ever learn the truth? 

Three people, leading very different lives, are about to be brought together – with devastating consequences . . .

John has a perfect life, until the day his daughter goes missing.

Maisie cares for her patients, but hides her own traumatic past.

Miller should be an innocent child, but is obsessed with something he can’t have.

They all have something in common, though none of them know it – and the truth won’t stay hidden for long . . .

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Shari Lapena and Lisa Jewell.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Lies Between Us blog tour (‘epic’ blog tour, I should say!).  Lies Between Us is Ronnie Turner’s debut and oh my, what a debut it is!  Published by HQ Digital at the start of October, Lies Between Us is available to purchase in eBook and audio formats NOW!

Full disclaimer here, Ronnie Turner is not only a fabulous debut author she’s also a fabulous book blogger who I consider to be a friend via my book blogging circles.  That, however, has not influenced this review at all.  I may have been a little more excited to read the book, what with knowing the author, but that’s where it ends.  And I WAS excited, really really excited.

What a book!  What an emotive, chilling read. I became totally engrossed in it.  Many of you will know that I am mummy to two small people.  My daughter is around the age of Bonnie in Lies Between Us which makes what happened to her all the more horrifying for me.  Turner’s writing made me want to hold my children tighter at night to keep them safe from the world.  It made me want to relish every single moment I spend with them and it made me realise how utterly grateful I am that they are safe.  The despair emanating from the pages as the reader experiences John’s hopelessness and fear for missing daughter, Bonnie, was palpable.  I really couldn’t believe I was reading a debut!

I like a darker feel to my novels, it’s true.  I’m often left disappointed though as what I want from a novel and what others want is quite different.  I want authors to push it that extra notch and make their characters so despicable they make my flesh crawl (I may be in the minority on this one though).  Turner has created a character that surpassed all expectations.  Miller.  Miller made my skin crawl and called out to my black heart.  He is so unlikable that I actually loved him!  By far the stand out character of the book for me and one that will stay in my mind for a long time to come.  The story is told from three separate points of view; John, Maisie – an ICU nurse and Miller.  The Miller chapters were my favourite and I looked forward to reading them more than the other characters.  He made me feel so uncomfortable, and I loved it!

I’m sorry to say there is a ‘but’ though.  I was really enjoying this book until I got to the end of the story.  When I reached the end all I felt was confusion.  I had my suspicions throughout but even with this in mind, the ending felt odd.  I would have like a little more explanation.  Maybe I missed something obvious (it’s very possible).  The following morning after finishing the book I was still chewing the ending over, trying to put the pieces in the right order and come up with something that worked for me.  But I’ve failed.  I can’t get my 40-year-old brain to fathom this one out, sorry Ronnie.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  As debuts go it’s really rather outstanding.  I absolutely loved 95% of this book (it’s just the ending which has thrown it a little for me).  It’s full of raw emotion and so deliciously chilling.  If you love to hate characters then Miller is the boy for you!  Brilliantly creepy, I would pick up another book by Ronnie Turner without a second thought!

Four out of five stars.

Lies Between Us by Ronnie Turner was published in the UK by HQ Digital on 1st October 2018 and is available on eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Goodreads |

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Author Photo 2.jpgRonnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author. Ronnie now lives in Dorset with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. She is currently working on her second novel.

Ronnie’s debut novel, Lies Between Us, will be published by HQ Digital in October 2018.

Author Links:TwitterFacebookInstagramWebsiteGoodreads |

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards (@mredwards) @AmazonPub @midaspr #InHerShadow

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“Isabel’s life seemed perfect. Successful business, beautiful house, adoring husband. And then she was dead.

For four years Jessica has never doubted that her sister Isabel’s death was an accident. But when Jessica’s young daughter seems to know long-forgotten details about her aunt’s past, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that there’s a more sinister truth behind the tragedy.

As Jessica unearths disturbing revelations about her sister, and about the people she loved and trusted most, it becomes clear Isabel’s life was less than perfect and that Jessica’s might also be at risk.

Did someone murder Isabel? Are they now after Jessica and her family? The key seems to lie in the hands of a child. Can Isabel reveal the truth from beyond the grave, or is the answer closer to home?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the In Her Shadow blog tour. In Her Shadow is the latest release from bestselling author, Mark Edwards, and is set to be published by Thomas & Mercer later this week on 4th October 2018.

When Mark Edwards publishes a book, I read it. It’s that simple really. He’s an author whose writing I am happy to return to again and again. To prove my point, here are my reviews of Mark’s previous books; Follow You Home, The Devil’s Work, The Lucky Ones and The Retreat. I’ve also read ‘The Magpies’ which started it all for me a few years back. All wonderful, immersive pieces of fiction and highly recommended.

Making a start on Mark Edwards’s latest book is a strangely nerve-wracking experience for me. I have loved everything I have read by this author so far. Will this be the first book to disappoint? Will I love it as much as the others? Well, the answer to those two questions is that it did NOT disappoint but I maybe didn’t love it as much as his previous releases. Let me explain. Once again, Edwards has penned a highly readable, family focussed psychological thriller. What he does best in my opinion. However, this book has an overarching paranormal element to it, and the inclusion of any kind of paranormal ‘activity’ in a novel tends to leave this reader feeling cold. But that’s me. Your feelings on the matter may be completely different to mine and that, I find, is one of the joys of reading, and books in general. Saying that, the paranormal elements to the story were extremely well done and at points I felt shivers run down my spine – particularly in the first half of the book. Little Olivia really did freak me out.

Edwards really knows how to write a fully formed, living, breathing character. I was drawn to Jessica and her deceased sister, Isabel. In fact, I would go as far as saying Isabel was my favourite character in the book. There are wonderful flashback sections throughout so what I’m saying isn’t completely crazy (read the blurb if you’re not sure what I’m talking about). I loved her feistiness, her boundless self-confidence and her ambition. Also her strong sense of right and wrong. Jessica very much pales in her sister’s shadow. Olivia was also a firm favourite, despite the fact she did send shivers down my spine at points. I couldn’t get over how authentic Edwards made her voice.

Would I recommend this book? I would but why recommend one when you can recommend them all! I felt there was a stronger lean towards the ‘women’s fiction’ genre in In Her Shadow which I have nothing against but it’s really NOT my thing. It’s also a little sexy which again, I could have done without. However, Mark Edwards is a supremely talented writer and if you haven’t read any of his books yet then we need to have serious words. A strong family driven thriller which I enjoyed. Recommended.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of In Her Shadow. The above review is my own honest unbiased opinion.

In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 4th October 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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EDWARDS 7 TS 28

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.

His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date. This was followed by What You Wish For (2014), Because She Loves Me (2014; also a No.1 bestseller in the UK) and Follow You Home(2015).

He also co-writes with Louise Voss. Their novels are: Killing Cupid (2011); Catch Your Death(2011); All Fall Down (2012); Forward Slash and a series featuring Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon, starting with From the Cradle (2014) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). Read more about Voss & Edwards.

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.

When he’s not writing or looking after children, Mark reads a lot, devours TV box sets and spends far too much time on Twitter and Facebook, where he loves chatting with readers. He also wishes he had more time to do the activity he loves most: karaoke.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham (@AlisonBelsham) @TrapezeBooks #TheTattooThief

the tattoo thief cover.jpg“A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Tattoo Thief blog tour.  The Tattoo Thief is the debut novel from Alison Belsham and was published in paperback by Trapeze Books on 20th September 2018.  It is also one of my most eagerly anticipated reads of the year after I heard about it from fellow bloggers and bookish folk at Harrogate Crime Festival last year.  No pressure, eh?

If you’re a regular visitor to damppebbles.com then you will know that I like my reads to err on the darker side of fiction.  In fact, I would go as far as saying, the darker – the better, for me!  So I was immediately drawn to this book following the mention of ‘flaying’ in the blurb.  But there was more to it than that.  Yes, it sounded a little on the gruesome side but it is also about something that I find utterly fascinating.  Tattoos.  Now, I don’t have any tattoos, nor am I brave enough to go out and get one.  But I can’t help but be intrigued and find myself casually gazing at tattooed folk from afar, trying to work out what designs they’ve had permanently inked onto their bodies.  So in other words, this book absolutely sang out to me.

The Tattoo Thief is an unexpected, somewhat surprising mix.  Some parts were dripping in beautifully vivid descriptions of blood-soaked gore, the pain the victim suffers, the process the killer goes through flaying their victim and what happens next (read the book to find out what this is).  And then you have DI Francis Sullivan, a young DI in his late twenties who is purer than the driven snow.  A devout Catholic, a stickler for the rules and a complete goody-two-shoes who is tasked with investigating the terrifying spate of horrific murders to hit Brighton.  Out of his depth, much?  You bet he is.  Especially as his more senior and experienced DS is nipping at his heels.  Looking for the moment when he can knock DI Francis Sullivan from his wobbly perch and take his DI crown.  But I kind of liked that; a bit of ying and yang, a touch of light and dark.  It worked for me.

This was an enjoyable read but I found the characters hard to like (particularly DCI Bradshaw who is an @rse and unbelievably reckless!).  Even the unlucky Marni Mullins was difficult to warm to, although I really wanted to like her.  It’s not often that I come across a fellow diabetic in the novels I read so that did help…sort of.  Maybe I read too much crime fiction but on a number of occasions I wanted to shake Marni hard and scream ‘you’re going to do WHAT??’ in her face.  Crime fiction 101, lady!

Please don’t get me wrong.  This is a wonderful debut and a very gratifying read.  I’m also very much looking forward to Belsham’s next release which is published in 2019!  I absolutely love the idea behind this book.  This is the type of storyline I adore and Belsham has done a great job of bringing it to fruition.  I just found the twists a little obvious (but then I was looking for them because that’s the kind of annoying thing I do, grrrr!).

Would I recommend this book?  Yes, absolutely.  I am so pleased I read The Tattoo Thief.  It’s a wonderful debut, and I really enjoyed the light vs dark aspect (but I will always want it to be darker. It’s fine, I know I’m weird).  If you’re a little squeamish or nervous about graphic crime novels then this may not be the book for you (although I dare you to give it a go!).  An absolutely fascinating read.  Recommended.

Four out of five stars.

The Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 20th September 2018 and is available on paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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alison belsham.jpgAlison Belsham initially started writing with the ambition of becoming a screenwriter-and in 2000 was commended for her visual storytelling in the Orange Prize for Screenwriting. In 2001 she was shortlisted in a BBC Drama Writer competition. Life and children intervened but, switching to fiction, in 2009 her novel Domino was selected for the prestigious Adventures in Fiction mentoring scheme. In 2016 she pitched her first crime novel, The Tattoo Thief, at the Pitch Perfect event at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and was judged the winner. After signing with agent Jenny Brown, The Tattoo Thief was bought by Trapeze books and published in May, 2018.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Author image and biog © http://www.alisonbelsham.com/

 

 

damppebbles #BookReview: Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager @EburyPublishing #LastTimeILied #20BooksofSummer

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“Have you ever played two truths and a lie?

It was Emma’s first summer away from home. She made friends. She played games. And she learned how to lie.

Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned. . .

Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.

Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all. . .

A gripping new thriller that you won’t be able to put down with a plot that will keep you guessing. If you enjoyed A. J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window, you’ll love Last Time I Lied”

Of all the books in all the world that are due to be published in 2018, THIS book was my most eagerly anticipated read. I could not wait to get my paws on Last Time I Lied. Why, you ask? Well, dear reader, it’s because Riley Sager’s debut, Final Girls, blew my mind. It was my number one book of 2017, it’s claimed a top space on my favourite books of ‘ALL TIME’ list and it left me with the biggest book hangover I have ever experienced! I loved it. Actually, I more than loved it. I became quite obsessed with it. Have you read Final Girls? No? You REALLY should…

But this isn’t a review of Final Girls. This is its follow-up and I have a confession to make. I’ve had Last Time I Lied on my NetGalley TBR since the start of the year. I bet you’ve been there. You’re so looking forward to reading a book but you’re nervous too, really flipping nervous. Will it live up to its predecessor? Am I expecting too much? (Yes.) Have my expectations been blown wildly out of proportion? (Yes.) Will I cope if the book disappoints me? (Most probably not.) You know what I’m talking about, right?

I was nervous making a start, really flipping nervous. My nerves were somewhat calmed by discovering that our lead character is called Emma (brilliant name, more Emmas are needed in books! Might have said that before). The reader discovers that Emma attended Summer Camp at the tender age of thirteen. She made friends, learnt new skills, discovered boys and suffered one of the most devastating events of her young life. Her three cabin mates; Vivian, Natalie and Allison snuck out early one morning, never to return. Traumatised well into her adult life by the events and the guilt of 15 years ago, Emma turns to art and becomes a well-known painter. Each forest scene she creates contains the three missing girls, painted over in great swathes of green and brown oil paint. Surprisingly, her latest benefactor is Mrs Francesca Harris-White, multi-millionairess and head of Nightingale Camp where the devasting events of 15 years ago happened. Harris-White is reopening the camp and wants bygones to be bygones, so invites Emma to return to Camp Nightingale as an art instructor. Emma feels she wants to put the past behind her and returning to the scene of the crime will help lay the ghosts of 15 years ago to rest. But memories run long and someone knows that Emma lied all those years ago…

Before I go any further I want to get something out of my system. I enjoyed reading Last Time I Lied, it’s a great book and it will have an army of fans singing its praises, but I’m afraid it didn’t get anywhere near close to Final Girls in my opinion. I’m so upset, so sad that I didn’t love Last Time I Lied. This is proper #bookbloggerproblems territory here, people. I feel absolutely rotten that I didn’t love this book and I’m kicking myself for missing what others have seen and loved. So much so, I am – for the first time in a LONG time – considering re-reading in the next few weeks!

It’s weird, I didn’t really relate in any way to Quincy’s story in Final Girls (but loved everything about it) and I really struggled to connect with Emma’s story. I can’t quite understand what the massive difference is between these two books for me. What I do know is this book is not Final Girls. It was never going to be Final Girls. I just realised that too late and my experience of Last Time I Lied suffered because of it (hence the planned re-read!). It’s a good read, it just doesn’t compare to its mighty predecessor.

I found the ‘whodunit’ a little obvious. There were several times when the author made me doubt myself but I always came back to the same conclusion and in the end I was right. The story moved along at an enjoyable pace and I wanted to discover what was going to happen next, but I had moments where I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading or it all seemed a little too far-fetched. There was a wonderful twist towards the end of the book that I didn’t see coming and it really satisfied my need for something a bit darker to happen. However, the author skillfully uses flashbacks again in this book to tell his protagonist’s frightening tale and create a vivid picture for the reader of their palpable fear which I couldn’t fault.

Would I recommend this book? I would. But I’d make sure you read Final Girls first as that is by far the superior book (IMHO). It’s an interesting tale, Emma intrigued me but became a little too whiny for my tastes at times. My heart was 100% with the devilishly devious Vivian and I could read about her all day long! I’m so glad I read Last Time I Lied. It was enjoyable, and I will recommend it in the future. There was a wonderful ‘horror movie’ element to Final Girls which I really missed in Last Time I Lied. It lacked a certain darkness that Final Girls had and I missed it enough for it to be a ‘thing’ for me. I’m sorry.

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

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Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Ebury Press on 12th July 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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pseudonym

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

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

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite (@BCopperthwait) @bookouture #ThePerfectFriend

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“She’ll do anything for you…

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.

My husband has left me.

My children won’t speak to me.

My friend Carrie is the only person I have.

She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.

She’d never do anything to let me down.

Would she?

I am a huge fan of Barbara Copperthwaite’s books. I have read nearly all of them (except one, Invisible) and every single book I have read has been a five-star read. Here are the reviews to prove it; Flowers for the Dead, The Darkest Lies and Her Last Secret. The other notable thing this author tends to do, more often than not, is to make this tough, ‘ard as nails crime reader bawl like a baby (she also made me fall in love with a serial killer but we won’t mention that 😉)! In essence, when Barbara Copperthwaite writes a book, I jump through hoops to read it.

So did The Perfect Friend live up to my very high expectations? Of course it did. It’s a Barbara Copperthwaite novel, duh! We meet Alex who immediately confesses to the reader that she is a liar. I don’t know about you but as an avid reader of crime and psychological thrillers, I’m always on the lookout for lies and half-truths from the characters I share my time with. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m overly suspicious and trust no-one who lives their life between the covers of a book. So knowing full well that Alex is a self-confessed liar I was immediately on my guard. But, with this at the forefront of my mind, I couldn’t help but like her. She is hiding some absolutely massive porkies and I did gasp when I discovered what they were, crikey! Amongst the inner turmoil, the secrets and the deceit, Alex is trying to make amends for something terrible she did; another secret she needs to keep at all costs! This particular secret involves her new best friend, Carrie who is terminally ill and who she met at the local support group. When anonymous threatening parcels start to arrive at Carrie’s house, Alex steps in and does everything she can to protect her best friend. But instead of helping, Alex starts to become suspicious. Something just don’t add up….

Copperthwaite has created a wonderful sense of unease in The Perfect Friend. It’s difficult to put your finger on why you feel so uncomfortable whilst reading but it’s there, peering over your shoulder making you feel twitchy. This is another brilliant, twisty read and I just knew something big was going to happen but couldn’t for the life of me work out where the author was going to take the story. I have to confess that I found some parts of the book a little difficult to believe but I was enjoying it so much that I just shrugged and threw myself straight back into the story. After all, it IS fiction. And yes, you may be wondering if the author managed to make me cry this time. She did, but only a little. I managed to keep the big ugly sobbing inside cos I’m ‘ard. 😬

Would I recommend this book? I would, but I would recommend all of Copperthwaite’s books because you can easily get lost in her stories. The Perfect Friend is a highly entertaining read which kept me turning the pages, desperate to find out what was going to happen to these two women. Full of twists, you never really know what to believe and Copperthwaite has surpassed herself in keeping her readers firmly on their toes. Highly recommended.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite was published in the UK by Bookouture on 5th July and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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barbara copperthwaite

Barbara is the Amazon and USA Today bestselling author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE, FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD, THE DARKEST LIES, and HER LAST SECRET. Her latest book is THE PERFECT FRIEND.

More importantly, she loves cakes, wildlife photography and, last but definitely not least, her two dogs, Scamp and Buddy (who force her to throw tennis balls for them for hours).

Having spent over twenty years as a national newspaper and magazine journalist, Barbara has interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. She is fascinated by creating realistic, complex characters, and taking them apart before the readers’ eyes in order to discover just how much it takes to push a person over a line.

When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs.

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

#BookReview: Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge @MichaelJBooks #DIHelenGrace #HideandSeek #20BooksofSummer

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“Prison is no place for a detective
Helen Grace was one of the country’s best police investigators.
Now she’s behind bars with the killers she caught.

Framed for murder
She knows there is only way out:
stay alive until her trial and somehow prove her innocence.

Locked up with a killer
But when a mutilated body is found in the cell next door,
Helen fears her days are numbered.

A murderer is on the loose.  And she must find them.  Before she’s next . . .”

If you’re a regular visitor to the blog you may be aware that I am a MASSIVE fan of a strong, kick-ass female lead character. Particularly police officers; senior female coppers are one of my favourite hooks when it comes to crime fiction. So when I decided to take on the 20 Books of Summer challenge it seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch up with a few of my favourite detectives and with a number of series that I have unfortunately unwittingly fallen behind on.

DI Helen Grace has always been a firm favourite of mine. Hide and Seek is the sixth book in the DI Helen Grace series and my new favourite. Despite reading book five in the series, Little Boy Blue over two years ago, the plot and that breathtaking ending have been playing on my mind. Yes, it’s true, I have spent the last two years wondering about the general health and well-being of a fictional character! Book blogger problems taken to a whole new level, maybe?!

If you’re new to this series let me tell you, it is incredibly difficult to start this review as anything I say, anything I hint at could be (is) a massive spoiler regarding a previous book (the massive spoiler is also mentioned in the blurb so don’t look 🙈)! I will be as vague as possible and hope you don’t mind. Helen Grace finds herself somewhere no copper wants to be, in an environment as hostile as they come. I could make a couple of witty puns about a fall from ‘Grace’ but I won’t torture you, dear reader. I have been champing at the bit to find out what was going to happen to our battered and bruised hero and all I can say is wow, just WOW! I loved the environment Arlidge has immersed his lead character in, I really enjoyed the motley cast of characters she met on her journey into the pits of Hell and I’m sorry, I’m going to say it, I loved Helen’s fall from ‘Grace’, dangit!

Whilst Helen is otherwise engaged, her right-hand woman the tenacious DS Charlie Brooks, is out trying to right a few wrongs. The two plots run seamlessly alongside one another and I was compelled to keep turning the pages, flitting between the two investigations at breakneck speed. I had a fair idea of whodunit from early on in the book but I was completely wrong. The author has added some very believable red herrings which I fell for; hook, line and sinker.

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s true – this is my favourite DI Helen Grace adventure so far. However, I’m not sure this book will work all that well as a standalone. There is a heck of a lot of history that won’t necessarily make sense to readers starting with Hide and Seek. My advice would be to start at the beginning and get to know Helen Grace from book one. I guarantee you will fall head over heels in love with her, just like I did. Oh, and don’t read the blurb. It gives far too much away in my opinion 😉

Four and a half stars out of five.

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Hide and Seek by M.J. Arlidge was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 29th December 2016 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last fifteen years, specializing in high-end drama production, including the prime-time crime serials Torn, The Little House and Silent Witness. Arlidge also pilots original crime series for both UK and US networks. In 2015 his audio exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a Number One bestseller.

His first thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek, and Love Me Not.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

Author image and bio © https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/m-j-arlidge/96806/

#BookReview: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #20BooksofSummer #TheMarriagePact #Giveaway

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“First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes your first big mistake.

How far are you willing to go for the perfect relationship?

Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered a mysterious wedding gift – membership of a club which promises its couples will never divorce.

Signing The Pact seems the start to a perfect marriage.

Until one of them breaks the rules.

The marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Because The Pact is for life.

And its members will do anything to make sure no one leaves . . .”

Michelle Richmond’s The Marriage Pact has been on my bookish radar for some time now. It was mentioned as part of my #R3COMM3ND3D2017 feature where I immediately added it to the TBR. I was then lucky enough to receive a paperback copy from the lovely Dead Good team as a Valentine’s Day treat (more about that later!). And then, of course, I kept seeing some really good reviews. Bearing all of this in mind, it was a natural addition to my #20BooksofSummer challenge.

I absolutely love the concept of this book. I love it when weird, life-altering, mostly catastrophic things happen to normal, run-of-the-mill people. Just me then? Oh… Anyway, the thought of a newlywed couple suddenly being trapped in a pact with a group of controlling strangers, having to live by the rules of the group (no matter how humiliating or demeaning) and managing to break the rules without even trying was something I had to read about. I’ll admit, the plot is a little far-fetched but d’you know what? I was just after an entertaining read, something a little different to my much-loved detective fiction and that’s exactly what I got with The Marriage Pact. A highly entertaining read.

When I was able to find time to sit down and read The Marriage Pact I found it an incredibly easy read, flying through the pages in great chunks and not realising that hours had passed. I was desperate to see what awful predicament Jake and Alice were going to find themselves in and what terrifying punishment they were to be subjected to. At times I found myself feeling really quite uncomfortable; as though I was intruding on a young couple’s most personal moments. I was also irked that many of the odd punishments were meted out to Alice, the wife, where little seemed to happen in the beginning to Jake, the husband, (he doesn’t get away scot-free but I do believe Alice suffers a lot more than her husband). I’m a huge fan of a strong female lead in my novels and Alice had so much potential with her punky, free-spirited background but she never really got going in my eyes. Was she diluted because of her marriage to Jake or was the pact to blame? I guess we’ll never know

I’m afraid I really struggled with the ending of The Marriage Pact. Things were going great guns and I was engrossed in the terrible punishments The Pact were dishing out to our beleaguered couple, but then the ending happened and I had a bit of a ‘huh?’ moment. For a thriller, the ending is quite sedate and I will be totally honest here and say I was a little disappointed. I had an inkling that the story was building up to ‘that ending’ but had hoped the author would pull something utterly mesmerising and unexpected out of the bag. It’s a well-written book with a nice ending. My black heart, unfortunately, wasn’t quite satisfied with a nice ending.

Would I recommend this book? I enjoyed 90% of The Marriage Pact and it’s only because I’m a fan of the darker side of fiction that I think I was a little disappointed with the ending. I would recommend this book but to readers who maybe err towards the gentler side of thriller fiction. It’s well written with a really interesting concept (although a little far-fetched at times) but most of all, I found this book entertaining and that’s exactly what I was after. I liked it!

Three out of five stars.

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

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GIVEAWAY:
The lovely folk at Dead Good sent me a paperback copy of The Marriage Pact but I decided to read my eARC (it’s a long story which involves adjusting (or not!) to new varifocal glasses which I won’t bore you with!). So I have an unread paperback copy of The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond which I am going to give away to one lucky UK winner!

To be in with a chance all you have to do is leave a comment below. It’s that simple. The winner will be selected at random and will need to provide their postal address so I can send them their prize. The competition will close at midday on Monday 25th June 2018 and the winner will be notified shortly afterwards. There is no cash alternative. Good luck everyone!

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond was published in the UK by Michael Joseph Books on 14th December 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBooks formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels and two award-winning story collections. Her books include the 2017 psychological thriller THE MARRIAGE PACT, which has been sold in 30 languages and was a Sunday Times bestseller in the UK; GOLDEN STATE, the critically acclaimed novel that imagines modern-day California on the brink of secession from the United States; the international bestseller THE YEAR OF FOG; and the story collection HUM, winner of the Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. Her novels are set in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives, and in the South, where she grew up. Michelle was born and raised in Alabama and has made her home for eighteen years in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and son.

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

Author Image and Bio © http://michellerichmond.com/

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Date by Louise Jensen (@Fab_fiction) @bookouture #TheDate #Prosopagnosia

the date“One night can change everything. 

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her. 

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her…

From the no. 1 bestselling author of The Sister, The Gift and The Surrogate, The Date is a gripping page-turner that will keep you awake until the early hours. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and Before I Go To Sleep.”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today because I’m kicking off The Date blog tour, eeek!  The Date is the fourth book written by one of my very favourite authors, Louise Jensen.  And if that wasn’t enough, it’s publication day too so a very happy book birthday to Louise and the folk at Bookouture!  I’ve read and reviewed all of Jensen’s previous books and I can’t recommend them highly enough; The SisterThe Gift & The Surrogate.  If you want a guaranteed emotive, twisty, shocker of a read then look no further than Ms Jensen.

With this in mind, I was really looking forward to making a start on The Date.  Ali is heading out on her first date since reluctantly separating from her husband, Matt.  The following morning she wakes dazed and confused, slowly realising that something terrible has happened, that she’s been subjected to an unknown trauma.  The effects are devastating, the doctors tell Ali that she now suffers from prosopagnosia; face blindness.  Now I have to be honest here.  I have recently read another book where the main character suffered from the same condition.  I have no experience of face blindness myself and struggle to visualise how sufferers live their lives but I think, having that previous experience (albeit reading a book!) did diminish the shock factor.  The news of Ali’s new condition didn’t hit me as hard as it would a reader coming to prosopagnosia for the first time.  However, what really resonated with me was how utterly terrified Ali was.  She has no memory of the date which changed her life forever.  She’s broken and bruised and suddenly, thanks to the face blindness very, very alone and she can’t trust anyone.  Absolutely terrifying.

Jensen is a master at making you think one thing whilst doing some clever sleight of hand under the table so you’re never really sure what to expect.  I don’t think I have ever been as surprised as I was at the end of The Surrogate, Jensen’s previous book.  Which put me on my guard this time around.  I was obsessed with looking for clues and hints.  I’m delighted to confirm that once again the author worked her seemingly effortless magic and I was miles out in my predictions.  I had concocted all manner of possible scenarios, all but the one it actually was!

Ali’s past is a lot more complicated than it first seems and I enjoyed reading the flashbacks to her childhood.  As childhoods go, Ali’s wasn’t the greatest but again, for reasons you do not expect at first.  It was fascinating to see the events which made her the woman she is, the birth of the guilt she carries so heavily as an adult.  I felt enormously sorry for her many times throughout the book but strangely, I struggled to like her.  Ali is a character who will be loved by many readers but for me, she lacked gumption; I wanted her to be a little more kick-ass and a little less whiny and timid.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, but then I would highly recommend ALL of Jensen’s books as she is a step above most other writers in the same genre.  The Date is bursting at the seams with shedloads of delicious intriguing suspense. The ending was an absolutely perfect fit for the story and I can’t stop picturing that final scene in my head and wondering to myself….

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

The Date by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Bookouture on 21st June 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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about the author3

15183346Louise Jensen is the Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate.

To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List.

Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

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

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (@MWCravenUK) @LittleBrownUK #ThePuppetShow #WashingtonPoe

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“Welcome to the Puppet Show . . .

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless.

When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of.

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant, but socially awkward, civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive …”

A little over a year ago I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a book called Body Breaker written by Mike Craven (that’s Mike Craven as in M.W. Craven, if you were wondering what odd tangent I was meandering off at!), and it was an absolute joy to read from start to finish. I pretty much fell in love with Craven’s protagonist, DI Avison Fluke. Then I heard Mike was about to release a new book called The Puppet Show, featuring a brand new detective with a brand new publisher (to Craven, that is). Now I openly admit, I was intrigued. After all, what crime fiction fan wouldn’t be? Particularly when I heard the main character of The Puppet Show is called Washington Poe (what a name! Where does this author get inspiration from for his character’s names? He appears to err on the unusual which is a rather splendid thing IMHO). Then, as if by magic (I pressed a button on NetGalley) a copy of The Puppet Show arrived on my Kindle and the deal was sealed. Washington Poe and I were destined to meet…

And truth be told, I flipping love him as much as I love DI Fluke. Craven certainly knows how to write and develop a character to the point where they jump off the page at the reader. I was smitten from early on; particularly as we meet Poe after he has shunned modern life and is living with his loyal pet dog, Edgar, in a semi-converted shepherd’s croft in the middle of nowhere (for ‘nowhere’ read Cumbria or the Lake District! Please don’t hurt me Cumbrians, it does sound pretty vast, lonely and desolate from Craven’s illustrative descriptions and I’ve never visited 😉). Suspended from work following his last (bodged) case and awaiting the result of an internal investigation and an IPCC inquiry, Poe has pretty much decided that his past is very much behind him and that his future lies in Herdwick Croft with Edgar, and the sheep. But that was before Cumbria’s latest serial killer, The Immolation Man made matters personal. Whether he wants to or not, Poe must return to the Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) and to a case that could easily be the death of him.

I have a bit of a thing for serial killer novels. They’re my favourite, particularly if they are a smidge on the gory side as well (which this book is). I also thoroughly enjoy books which make you think the plot is heading one way and then totally flips things over and makes you gasp in surprise when you end up somewhere you didn’t expect (which again, this book did). Another thing I love is a cast of well-written, individual, stand out characters who all add something to the story (yup, that’s The Puppet Show). I loved this book.

As I’ve mentioned Washington Poe’s supporting cast it would be rude to ignore them. First and foremost, Tilly Bradshaw is a shining star and will appeal to nerds far and wide. Her intelligence and her awkwardness are a delight to read and I hope she makes future appearances with Poe as her sidekick! Beleaguered DI Stephanie Flynn is now her ex-bosses boss (!) which makes things somewhat tricky between her and Poe at times. He’s a little reckless and likes to follow the evidence anywhere, whereas Flynn likes to play by the book. I would LOVE to read a prequel to The Puppet Show and see the dynamic between the two of them before Poe was demoted from DI to DS and Flynn was promoted. Not dropping any hints here, Mike…

Would I recommend this book? I would, most definitely. If you’re a fan of crime fiction, if you can stomach a drop of blood or a pool of melted human fat (OK, it is a little grisly in places and you may need a slightly stronger stomach than I’ve alluded to in this paragraph, but for me I loved the gruesome touches to this book. Plus the author provides a wealth of information about burns and the effect of fire on a human body) then you will enjoy this well-written, engrossing crime thriller. I struggled to put it down and I’m left wanting more Washington Poe and more Tilly Bradshaw. I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven was published in the UK by Constable on 7th June 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Although Mike Craven was born in Cumbria in 1968, he grew up in the North East, going to the same school as Newcastle and England centre-forward, Alan Shearer, before running away to join the army. He believes, but has no proof, that his little sister moved into his bedroom before the train had even left the station. He trained for two years as an armourer (that’s gunsmith to you and I) before spending the next ten being paid to travel the world and drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol.

In 1995, sick of writing postcards and having fun, he decided it might be time to do something a bit more sensible. And it doesn’t get more sensible than doing a law degree. So he did Social Work instead. Two years later, as pimply-faced, naive social worker he started working in Cumbria as a probation officer. Sixteen years, and a few promotions, later he is still there, although as a crime writer, he now has different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.

Mike’s first DI Avison Fluke novel, Born in a Burial Gown, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award and will be out on 11th June, published by Caffeine Nights. His collection of short stories featuring Fluke and his colleagues from the Cumbrian Force Major Incident Team, Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody, Challenge Everything, is out now.

In March 2017 Mike signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown for his new Washington Poe series. The first book, The Puppet Show, will be released in hardback under his new name, M .W. Craven, in June 2018.

In between joining the army and securing a publishing deal, Mike found time to have a pet crocodile, survive cancer, get married, and buy a springer spaniel named Bracken. He wanted to call him Gimli but was told to grow up. He lives in Carlisle where he tries to leave the house as little as possible and gets annoyed by people who say “it’s too cold to snow” and “watch that swan, its wings can break your arm”.

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

#BookReview: Sevens Heaven by Ben Ryan (@benjaminryan) @wnbooks @orionbooks @cobaltdinosaur #GuestReview #SevensHeaven #Rugby #Fiji

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The incredible story of how one man inspired a nation of underdogs to achieve sporting greatness.

It is late summer 2013. Ben Ryan, a red-haired, 40-something, spectacle-wearing Englishman, is given 20 minutes to decide whether he wants to coach Fiji’s rugby sevens team, with the aim of taking them to the nation’s first-ever Olympic medal. He has never been to Fiji. There has been no discussion of contracts or salary. But he knows that no one plays rugby like the men from these isolated Pacific islands, just as no one plays football like the kids from the Brazilian favelas, or no one runs as fast as the boys and girls from Jamaica’s boondocks. He knows too that no other rugby nation has so little – no money and no resources, only basic equipment and a long, sad history of losing its most gifted players to richer, greedier nations.

Ryan says yes. And with that simple word he sets in motion an extraordinary journey that will encompass witchdoctors and rugby-obsessed prime ministers, sun-smeared dawns and devastating cyclones, intense friendships and bitter rows, phone taps and wild nationwide parties. It will end in Rio with a performance that not only wins Olympic gold but reaches fresh heights for rugby union and makes Ben and his 12 players living legends back home.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT for damppebbles! Sport. Rugby to be exact. Not my usual fare. If you’re talking about a maul (it’s a rugby term, honest!), then for me it’s being mauled to a bloody, gruesome death. Not a bit of a scuffle on the rugby pitch…

When I first met my husband (over ten years ago now) he devoured books as quickly as I did. He was also a huge crime fiction fan, like me. But he’s not anymore and he hardly ever reads either which I find quite sad. But, he does LOVE rugby. So when I spotted a rugby book on NetGalley, it seemed like fate. My husband was excited about reading this book and that is a wonderful thing.

So, without further ado I am thrilled to welcome my other half, Ryan, to the blog today with his review of Ben Ryan’s Sevens Heaven

I love watching rugby almost as much as @damppebbles loves books! I watched it with my Dad when I was little, in bars at Uni, and now I try to teach my kids what’s going on for the 10 minutes their attention is held! My experience has taught me that there are 3 almost universal rules to being a rugby fan;

  • The commentators are almost always biased against your team
  • In 15-a-side everyone loves watching the Barbarians (an international charity invitation team who play carefree entertaining rugby) and
  • In 7-a-side rugby everyone’s first or second team is Fiji.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, 7-a-side rugby debuted and in the final Fiji beat Great Britain with a sublime display of entertaining, flowing and ruthless rugby. This book tells the journey of Englishman Ben Ryan who receives an unexpected tweet, goes through an unorthodox interview process and then coaches this wonderful team to 2 World Sevens Series and finally Fiji’s first Olympic medal.

This book is fascinating. Whether you are interested in rugby, the country of Fiji, Ryan’s philosophy of coaching or how a team which everyone loved watching went from mercurial to world-beaters, you will love this book. Even if you don’t like rugby I challenge you not to be inspired by the journey that you read about, the friendships, the highs and lows, and challenges overcome.

We follow Ben Ryan and his squad through personal hardships, injuries, family tragedies. We see trust grow, being repaid by some yet broken by others. We see reflections of the differences in culture, Ben learning what inspires these players from a Fijian culture, initially alien to him, to perform and train while he reflects on the many differences with the England squad he coached previously. We learn how rugby inspires the country of Fiji and how after the awful events of Cyclone Winston, which bought devastation to the Islands, the 7’s team carried a nation’s hopes into the world’s biggest sporting arena.

I have never understood how authors writing about real events can engender so much emotion into what the reader already knows to be true, but reading about the Olympic final is so wonderfully joyful you feel you have to share it.

Am I going to run out and buy a Fijian 7’s jersey – maybe! Am I going to tell everyone I know who likes rugby, or reads leadership books or sports books about THIS book? YES! Am I going to tell anyone who stands next to me at the coffee machine that they should read this book? YES! Do I think you should go on this journey too? I think you know! A remarkable story, wonderfully told and bound to bring a smile to many people.

5 Stars.

OK, I’m impressed – great review. It seems you’ve been taking notes after all 😉 Something a little different for the ‘pebbles today but I’ve rather enjoyed the change. I hope you have too.

Ryan chose to read and review an eARC of Sevens Heaven. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Sevens Heaven by Ben Ryan was published in the UK by W&N Books on 31st May 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Ben Ryan is the most successful men’s rugby sevens coach in the world, the only coach winning Continental, World and Olympic titles. Ben has been working at the top end of international sport for over a decade. Ben’s achievements are well documented and include many personal and professional accolades.

Ben’s move to Fiji saw him coach the 7s team to Olympic Gold with the team given the prodigious accolade from the IOC as the best male team performance at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Ben was named Ratu Peni Raini Latianara in Fiji, became Chief in the province of Serua, and was awarded the Companion of the Order of Fiji, the highest order attainable on the Islands. Ben is the Pacific Person of the Year and was short-listed for World Rugby Coach of the Year.

Ben’s coaching across the years has included England Counties (Head Coach), various invitational 15-a-side teams, South West Schools, England U18s, and coaching all England senior and age-grade scrum-halves in their personal technical and tactical skill sets. Ben has also been a regular guest coach at Premiership clubs and academies.

Ben is an RFU Level 1-4 qualified rugby coach, beginning his coaching career in the 15-a-side game. After playing professionally for Bedford Blues and West Hartlepool in the Premiership, Ben went on to begin a teaching career before being appointed as Director of Rugby at Newbury RFC (see The Guardian write up here). Ben’s forward-thinking approach to coaching soon enabled Newbury’s top team to enjoy promotion into the Championship, becoming one of the top 20 teams in the country.

Ben is an ambassador for HSBC and Fiji Airways, and currently a consultant for many world-class organisations, both within and outside the sporting world. Ben thinks differently, empowering individuals with the tools to make real change in the way they lead their lives.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |