#BlogTour | #BookReview: After She’s Gone by Maggie James (@mjamesfiction) @TAsTPublicity

WebsiteAfter She's Gone BLOG.jpg“Lori Golden’s family have had more than their fair share of troubles. But through it all, Lori and her sister, Jessie, have always supported each other. Then Jessie is killed. And Lori’s world turns upside down.

Devastated, Lori struggles to cope with her loss, and to learn to live in a world without her bright, bubbly sister by her side. Around her, her already fractured family start to fall apart. And, as Lori and her mother try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, secrets long thought buried are coming painfully to light.

Faced with the unthinkable, Lori is forced to ask herself how well she really knows those who are left behind…”

I am thrilled to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my turn on the After She’s Gone blog tour.  I have been wanting to read a Maggie James novel for quite some time now, so I was over the moon when I was asked to feature on the After She’s Gone blog tour.

So I guess the most important question is, did I enjoy my first experience of a Maggie James novel?  I most certainly did.  I found Maggie’s writing style very easy to read which meant that I breezed through After She’s Gone in two short days (that’s quick for me).  I found her characters interesting, particularly Lori Golden who I instantly warmed to.  Saying that, at times I did find Lori a little too naive which was frustrating, but then I’m a die-hard crime fan and tend to read the very worst of people which makes me overly suspicious of everyone!  I went through different emotions when it came to Dana Golden, Lori’s mother.  At times I really liked her, felt for her with her ongoing treatment for kidney failure.  At other times I’m afraid I despised the woman.

I found the sections about becoming a living donor very interesting and found this particular sub-plot really held my attention.  So much so that I was able to have a conversation with a lady at my son’s preschool who is considering becoming a living donor for her sister.  The investigation into Jessie’s death was also very compelling reading, but I’m afraid I worked out who the killer was quite early on. This tends to happen to me sometimes but it rarely spoils the story.  It just proves what an ace detective I’m becoming after all this time (ha!).  It certainly didn’t spoil the story for me on this occasion.  The author does a stellar job of trying to wrong foot you and made me question my decision at several turns along the way.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I found After She’s Gone a compelling read and I wouldn’t hesitate to read another book by Maggie James.  In fact, I have added Blackwater Lake to my #terrifyingTBR and I’m looking forward to it.  Interesting plot, strong characters and tons of suspense.

Three and a half out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of After She’s Gone. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

After She’s Gone by Maggie James was published in the UK by Lake Union Publishing on 16th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

 

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney (@trisha460) @bookouture

the missing ones cover.jpg“The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror. 

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how? 

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal. 

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger? 

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice. 

Fans of Rachel Abbott, Karin Slaughter and Robert Dugoni will be gripped by this page-turning serial killer thriller, guaranteed to keep you reading late into the night.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Missing Ones blog tour.  The Missing Ones is the debut novel from Patricia Gibney and features kick-ass Detective Inspector Lottie Parker.  The lovely Susan over at Books From Dusk till Dawn is also featuring on the blog tour today, so make sure you pop over and give her a follow (if you don’t already that is!).

DI Lottie Parker is thrown into the middle of an investigation and begins to flounder from the very start.  Her two victims are very obviously connected somehow, but what that connection is is beyond Lottie and her team.  Lottie is struggling with her own life having recently lost her husband and being the sole carer to her three teenage children.  Regular disagreements with her interfering, overbearing mother don’t help the situation.  But Lottie knows she needs to find justice for the victims and throws herself head first into the investigation.  Before long her attention is drawn to St Angela’s children’s home where, in the 70’s and 80’s evil roamed the corridors.  Run by the Catholic Church, St Angela’s holds terrifying secrets that someone doesn’t want shared.  How far are they, and most importantly, how far is Lottie prepared to go?  Far enough to put her own children into mortal danger…?

This is a chilling read.  The subject matter is hard going at times but handled incredibly well by the author.  The sections where you’re reading about the children of St Angela’s are pretty intense but well written, creating an air of unease and uncomfortable expectation.

I loved the setting.  I have read a number of outstanding Irish crime thrillers this year and this one stands strong alongside them.  It’s an incredibly atmospheric read and you feel as though you are there, traipsing through the snow with Lottie and her team.

DI Lottie Parker is in an intriguing character and one I would like to read more of.  I felt I could sympathise with her situation but her parenting skills really irked me at times. She’s doing the best she can with the situation she’s in but I felt she neglected her children a lot of the time in favour of the job.  Now, I don’t claim to be super-mum but c’mon Lottie…they’re your kids!  Saying that, the story-line would have faltered quite early on without her questionable parenting, so I can understand why it was necessary for her to be so work focused.

Lottie’s relationship with DS Boyd is an interesting one.  They’re colleagues and sparring partners, yes.  But there’s something else there too.  They do have a brief personal past together and I wonder if this is something we will see built upon in future books.  There’s definitely friction there along with a rather large dollop of chemistry.

I found the plot compelling and whenever I had to put the book down, I wanted to get straight back to the story.  There is a lot of action (which can only be a good thing), with twists and turns along the way to wrong foot you.  I’m afraid I was able to tell ‘whodunit’ quite early on in the story but this didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, particularly if you’re a fan of dark crime fiction or have a penchant (like me!) for Irish crime.  It’s a good solid start to what promises to be a cracking new series and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Four out of five stars.

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

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney was published in the UK by Bookouture on 16th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Patricia yearned to be a writer after reading Enid Blyton and Carolyn Keene and even wanted to be Nancy Drew when grew up. She has now grown up (she thinks) but the closest she’s come to Nancy Drew is writing crime!

In 2009, after her husband died, she retired from her job and started writing seriously. Fascinated by people and their quirky characteristics, she always carries a notebook to scribble down observations.

Patricia also loves to paint in watercolour and lives in the Irish midlands with her children.

Author Links: Website | Twitter |

 

#GuestReview: Splintered by Kelly Miller (@MillerMystery) @BookaholicDee

splintered.jpg“Life turns from barely tolerable to complete hell when Maddy Eastin’s impulsive plan to win back the attention of her absentee father backfires. Word of her scheme spreads through her high school, but when mockery escalates to cyberbullying, Maddy and her failed stunt become headline news. But the worst is yet to come…

A disturbed man is fighting the overwhelming urge to surrender to his true nature—a moral code molded by a sadistic father who taught him that a girl needs proper training to become the perfect subservient woman. As he watches Maddy on the evening news, his already fractured psyche completely splinters. She’s the girl he’s been waiting for.

When Maddy disappears, she’s labeled a runaway even though her mother believes it was foul play. Will the detectives investigating Maddy’s disappearance find her before it’s too late? Or has she already fallen prey to the vicious stranger hunting her?”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today for another of my fantastic guest reviews.  Today I welcome relatively new blogger Dee to damppebbles.  Dee can be found over at Novel Deelights and despite being new to the blogging community she’s already a firm favourite.  If you don’t already then please give Dee a follow.

Dee has very kindly read and reviewed Splintered by Kelly Miller for me.  But before we find how what Dee thought about the book, here’s some more information about Dee:

dee.jpgI have the attention span of a gnat. Or as I like to call it “ooh shiny disease”. Think of me as a magpie who sees some sparkly thing and is off. But put a book in my hands and I’m a completely different person. I’ll be able to concentrate like there’s no tomorrow. Shoot a canon off next to me and chances are I won’t hear it. That’s how much I love reading and how much books mean to me. They calm me, they help me escape reality for a bit. But most of all, they’re now enabling me to meet some wonderful new people in the blogging community. Thank you for the warm welcome and support!

You’re a very welcome addition to our little community Dee.  So without further ado, here’s what Dee thought about Splintered by Kelly Miller:

All actions have consequences.
Fifteen year old Maddie is not only struggling with the harsh teenage hormones but also with the recent divorce of her parents. It’s been five months since she’s heard anything from the father. One morning, Maddie claims someone tried to kidnap her. Is she telling the truth?
Her mother, Lily, isn’t having a good time either. Forced to move house and take on another job after her divorce, she struggles to deal with her own issues as well as her daughter’s.
Then there’s Hank, who had a brutal childhood at the hands of a predator for a father. Hank has been trying to do the right thing while all the while taking care of his brain damaged brother but can he keep it up?
Naturally when Emma sent me her list to choose a book from, I checked out links for descriptions. This one caught my eye as the premise sounded interesting. Unfortunately, the description listed on amazon and Goodreads is almost the entire plot. I kid you not. Which is a shame as I think I would have otherwise enjoyed this one a lot more than I did. As it is, I just kept waiting for something to happen that I didn’t already know was coming and sadly that didn’t start until about 60% into the book.
The chapters switch back and forth between five characters which I felt wasn’t entirely necessary. While they flowed nicely from one to the next, some I thought of as mere fillers that didn’t particularly move the story along. Then when the action finally hit in the last chapters, it was all quite rushed. It left me wondering if maybe the story hadn’t worked better as a drama focusing on the mother/daughter relationship between Maddie and Lily.
As I said, for me, it was slightly ruined by pretty much knowing the entire plot but I think you might enjoy it if you go in blind. Friendly reminder: DO NOT read the book description! I may have been a little disappointed but I still I rated it 3 stars on Goodreads.
Thank you lovely Emma for my copy of this book and for having me on your blog. 🙂
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Thanks for your honest and considered review Dee, and it was a pleasure having you visit!
Splintered by Kelly Miller was published in the UK by Kindle Press on 26th January 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |
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kelly miller.jpegWriting has always been in my blood. Since the age of thirteen when I coauthored a cheesy romance novel in a blue, spiral bound notebook, I knew I wanted to pursue writing as a career. But somewhere along the way, I lost my voice. Sure I could craft a witty email or write marketing copy for other authors, as I did in a previous job, but to write that great American novel seemed just out of reach.

As is often happens, life simply got in the way. I got married, had three children, and adopted a black Labrador. As a stay-at-home mom, I was lucky to get an hour a day to myself. And when I found those few precious minutes, they were spent reading a good book. A voracious reader, I’ve been researching the mystery and suspense genres for more than two decades.

 It was in my search for my own identity after staying at home with the kids that ultimately lead me back to my love of writing. I started my journey towards publication in August 2010. The first draft only took four months to write, but was followed by an enormous amount of time rewriting, and an even longer time searching for a publisher. Determination, perseverance, and God’s blessing made my publishing dream a reality. I signed a contract with Black Rose Writing on May 18, 2012 and my first mystery novel, Dead Like Me, debuted in November 2012. The second instalment in the Detective Kate Springer series, Deadly Fantasies, debuted December 19, 2013. Since that time, the book’s rights have reverted back to me and I’ve gone indie!

 A third mystery novel, “Splintered,” debuted in January 2016. In this story, I introduced my readers to a whole new set of characters. “Splintered” was chosen as a 2015 Kindle Scout winner and the e-book and audio book will be published by Kindle Press.

 As time got tight with starting a part-time job while keeping up with my three kids and husband, I switched over to writing on a smaller scale. I began writing novelettes which will eventually be put into a box set called My Nightmare Series. Each will feature a new psychopath and will revolve around a different color that’s integral to the story. The first is called My Blue Nightmare is only available for FREE when you sign up for my newsletter. Tee second is My Emerald Nightmare and comes out in the Spring of 2017. (Bio taken from Kelly Miller’s website.)

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour #BookReview: Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French (@KFrenchBooks) @bookouture


cover maplemead.jpg“Welcome to Chapelwick, a leafy English town in the hills of Shropshire, where chocolate pecan cookies come with a helping of sabotage.

Maplemead Castle is crawling with ghosts, and the new owners need them gone. When Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency arrive on scene, they quickly identify the troublemakers swinging from the chandeliers… literally.

A century ago, stunning trapeze artist Britannia Lovell plunged to her death, and has done every night since. But did she really just fall, or was there something more to her demise?

Forced to work with Leo Dark, her scoundrel ex, and infuriating, irresistible reporter Fletcher Gunn, Melody’s investigative powers are under strain (i.e. lost in a pink mist of lust and confusion). She needs her team on top form, but best friend Marina’s cake pipeline goes AWOL, assistant Artie’s distracted by a giant sausage roll, and the pug is scared witless by a lion.

Somewhere, hidden in the castle, is a heart-breaking secret, but what will it take to find it? And is there a chance it could set Britannia free, or is she doomed to repeat her last fateful act forever?”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Mystery at Maplemead Castle blog tour.  This is the second book in the Chapelwick Mysteries series written by author, Kitty French.  Now, I’m a self confessed crime fan.  I like my crime gritty, with lots of blood spilt and the occasional character’s guts too (if I’m lucky!).  The gorier, the better for damppebbles.  But I have a secret (not really secret) addiction.  And that’s the Chapelwick Mysteries series of cozy crime.  I absolutely adored the first book in the series (you can read my review by clicking here but please note, the cover and title of the first book have changed since I wrote my review and it’s now called Skeletons of Scarborough House.  AND it’s only 99p at the moment, so what are you waiting for?!).

Oh my gosh, Kitty French has done it again with the second book in the series!

Starting this book felt like meeting old friends again.  I absolutely love every single character in this novel.  From the converse and jeans wearing, unlucky in love, bad-ass businesswoman Melody to the pimply, awkward young Artie to the slightly psychotic, fan-twins Nikki and Vikki.  Melody and the gang are back on the case and that dear reader, makes me feel good!

Melody and her team of unusual suspects are called to assist in the removal of ghosts from Maplemead Castle.  Maplemead Castle has recently acquired new owners in the form of Lady Lolo and husband Barty.  They purchased the castle over the internet without seeing it, as only eccentric Americans (or the insane) can do!  What they didn’t bargain for is the resident spooks who are driving away business.  And potential clients, aka Hollywood bigwigs, are refusing to step foot in Maplemead until an exorcism as has taken place.  Well, no.  That’s not how Melody goes about her ghost-busting.  Nor does it involve large ghost hoovers only to then deposit Timothy Claypole in the bank of eternal ghoul, a la Ghostbusters™ (mixing my ghost based programmes there AND showing my age in one fell swoop.  If you don’t know who Timothy Claypole is, I suggest you google ‘Rentaghost’).

Melody Bittersweet sees dead people and she uses her unique ability to find out why the ghosts she is investigating are still tethered to the mortal world.  Unfortunately Melody’s ex-boyfriend, Leo Dark, has the same gift but he uses it to promote his television career leaving Melody in his dust.  The competition between Leo and Melody isn’t so strong in this book and I did miss that constant sparring a little.  But Leo has his own problems this time around and it was good to see Melody step up and take charge of the situation.

I should mention Fletcher Gunn.  Ace, investigative reporter, naysayer of anything he can’t physically see and the one man who makes our heroine go weak at the knees.  Talk of a man’s nether regions would normally make me give up on a book.  Normally, that is.  Not this time.  It’s a pretty recurrent theme as the chemistry between Melody and Fletch is through the roof.  I was chuckling away to myself, hoping the husband wasn’t going to ask what I was finding so funny!

Would I recommend this book? I thoroughly enjoyed Mystery at Maplemead Castle.  It was so much fun and a complete joy to read.  My heart ached at times, the next moment I was laughing out loud.  A perfect mix of great storytelling, the very best characters and the perfect setting.  Highly recommended.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Mystery at Maplemead Castle.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French was published in the UK by Bookouture on 17th March 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Kitty French lives in the Black Country with her husband, two young sons and two crazy cats. She’s a lover of all things romantic – songs, music, and most of all, books. Her USA Today best-selling Lucien Knight series topped the erotic chart on both sides of the pond, and she also writes romantic comedy as Kat French for Avon, HarperCollins.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Place That Never Existed by @Jim_Ody_Author | @emmamitchellfpr

The Place That Never Existed.jpg“For Paul and Debbie it was meant to be the happiest time of their lives. A small village wedding in front of their family and friends, followed by a quiet honeymoon in Devon.
Not everyone had been happy to see them together. A woman from their past refused to accept it. Her actions over the previous year had ended in tragedy, and had almost broken the happy couple apart.
Now, away from it all in a picturesque log cabin, Paul and Debbie look forward to time spent alone together… But she has found out where they are, and she will stop at nothing to make sure that the marriage is over… forever.

But Huntswood Cove isn’t just a beautiful Devonshire fishing town, it has its own secret. Recently, people have begun to disappear, only to turn up dead in suspicious circumstances. The locals begin to question what is going on.

Soon everything strange points to the abandoned house in the woods. The house that nobody wants to talk about. To them, it is the place that never existed.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Place That Never Existed blog tour. Towards the end of last year I took part in the Dark Minds blog tour.  Dark Minds is a charity collection of short stories from the very best crime writers, and one of those who contributed was author Jim Ody.  After reading Jim Ody’s short story I knew I wanted to read more by this author so was thrilled when the opportunity arose to read and review The Place That Never Existed.

This book and I got off to a rather shaky start.  It took me a little while to warm to the author’s style but before long I was enjoying Debbie and Paul’s adventures in deepest, darkest Devon.  Over time I found I warmed to the couple and wanted to know about the strange things which were happening to them.  Particularly with regards to Paul’s ex-lover.  The characters found in the small village also interested me, with their well-kept secrets and strange ways.

I was happily enjoying the book but then, I’m afraid, the ending happened.  The ending of this book is like nothing I have read before (and I’m not 100% sure I would want to read again).  I felt there were several unanswered questions which were left hanging.  I like my crime novels to have a certain realism to them but I’m afraid I found it impossible to believe the conclusion of this book.

Saying that, I think I am in the minority because I’ve read so many fantastic reviews of this novel.  Many of which highlight and praise the different ending.  Jim Ody’s writing is good, his characters are believable but I’m afraid this book and I just didn’t gel.  I also found one particular story-line quite predicable, which doesn’t normally tend to spoil a book for me and isn’t part of the reason this book and I didn’t click.

With the assurance that it doesn’t feature a similar conclusion, I would read another book written by Jim Ody as I think he’s a good storyteller and I liked the humour included in the novel.  Would I recommend this book?  If you’re looking for a crime thriller with something quite different then yes, I would.  If however you like a certain amount of realism in your reads then maybe look elsewhere.  Or if you’re an Oxford United fan….don’t read this book if you’re a U’s fan!

Three out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of The Place That Never Existed.  The above review is my own honest, unbiased opinion.

The Place That Never Existed by Jim Ody was published in the UK by Hambrook Press on 1st December 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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As a child Jim wanted to be a truck driver – more specifically Kris Kristofferson in the movie ‘Convoy’, however somehow this never happened, nor did he ever smuggle moonshine in Hazzard County, find treasure with his buddies in the Goondocks, or hunt sharks on Amity Island. He did win ‘The Spirit Of Judo’ award as a seven-year-old, and have published his design of a ‘Dog-Walking Machine’ in an English text book at the age of ten; so every cloud and all of that…

Jim has had poems and articles published on a number of websites, and for eight years, was a weekly music reviewer for a popular music website where he got to meet bands and see free gigs.

Jim has published two books ‘Lost Connections’ and ‘The Place That Never Existed’, and had his short story, ‘The Moth In The Jar’ selected and published in the charity anthology ‘Dark Minds’.

Jim lives with his wife and three children in Swindon, Wiltshire, and is currently writing his next novel ‘A Cold Retreat’ (due out in summer 2017); and more than likely eating chocolate. And watching football.

Author Links:Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia (@MejiaWrites) @QuercusBooks

9781784295769.jpg“Eighteen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. When she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Sheriff Del Goodman, a close friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers: it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives, Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the Hattie behind the masks, and what happened in that final year of her life. . .

Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity; about the line between innocence and culpability; about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman blog tour.  The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is written by new author Mindy Mejia and published in the UK by Quercus Books.  My thanks to Olivia Mead at Quercus for asking me to be a part of the blog tour.

When I read the blurb of this book, I just had to read it.  Then I saw the cover design and heard the title and it was a foregone conclusion.  Interestingly, this book is being released in other parts of the world with the title ‘Everything You Want Me To Be’.  Having read the book I can see why it’s been called that but I much prefer the UK title.  I think it works on so many different levels.

Anyway…regular readers will know that I have a penchant for Japanese and German crime fiction.  What trumps both of those settings is my love of crime fiction set in small town America.  I just LOVE IT! No, I mean REALLY LOVE IT!!  I like to read books that feature a Sheriff, I like to see how the Sheriff copes with a major investigation with next-to-no high-tech resources at hand, I like to read about a small town crumbling under the suspicion of it’s neighbours.  The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman was a great read for me and one I devoured in the space of two short days (I’m a slow reader, that’s quick!).

Hattie is 17 going on 27.  She’s very different to her peers.  She’s an actress and a good one at that.  So good that her acting ability seeps into her everyday life and relationships.  Each chapter is told from a different perspective; you have Hattie before her imminent demise. Sheriff Del Goodman who is a family friend of Hattie’s parents and is working flat out to solve the murder.  And Peter Lund who has recently moved to the sleepy farming town of Pine Valley with his wife, Mary.

I really enjoyed the way that the story is built up.  Each chapter provides you with that little extra piece of information that wasn’t known before.  I found Hattie a very difficult character to like and I’m still not 100% sure about my feelings for her.  At times I became quite fond of her and at other times she seemed to be the most unlikable character in the story.  My favourite of all the characters was Peter Lund who may not be the popular choice among other reviewers.  I felt Peter had ended up in a life that was not his and one he would not have chosen for himself, and I sympathised with him.  His emotion felt very real to me.  I also liked Del Goodman for his good, honest attitude and his battle with his emotions whilst trying to find the killer of his friend’s daughter.

This story is primarily a love story but it’s also very much about manipulation and those we choose to show our true selves to.  Would I recommend this book?  Definitely.  I finished reading The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman several days ago and it’s still very much with me.  It’s a haunting tale and heartbreaking in places too.  Very much recommended.

Four out of five stars.

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia was published in the UK by Quercus Books on 9th March 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Mindy Mejia received her MFA from Hamline University and published her first novel, The Dragon Keepers with Ashland Creek Press. She lives and writes in Minnesota.  The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is her first book to be published in the UK.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski (@ConcreteKraken) @OrendaBooks

SIX STORIES BF AW.jpg“1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame … As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Six Stories blog tour which I share with the lovely Inge over at The Belgian Reviewer.  I am absolutely delighted because I CANNOT wait to talk to you about this book!  To say I’m a fan is a bit of an understatement. Now, Matt Wesolowski is a new author to me but I heard about this book towards the end of last year and instantly knew that I had to read it.  Matt’s background is predominantly in the horror genre so I knew this was going to be something special and by golly, it certainly was!

I can’t remember the last time I read a book that chilled me to the core.  I couldn’t, but I can now.  Six Stories took me to the edge and I absolutely flipping loved it.  I even felt the need to tweet about this book and see how others were finding it:

Ah, that need to discuss a book you’re loving.  I don’t think I’ve done that before.  I was thrilled to see a good number of replies from fellow bloggers and reviewers all saying how utterly absorbing and chilling they found this book.

I can’t begin to explain what it is about Six Stories that makes it such a sublime read (but I’m going to give it a go anyway!).  First off Matt Wesolowski is a master of unease.  He creates it and shapes it beautifully.  Normal, everyday people going about normal, everyday things…only for something completely unexpected to be added to the mix, something shocking.  You never know whether it’s safe to start breathing normally again or whether you should be bracing yourself for the next unexpected twist.  It’s almost impossible to know what to believe.  The evidence is all laid out before you, so that should be it right? Believe what you want to believe, I can’t tell you what’s right and what’s….well, read Six Stories for yourself and experience the book.  You won’t regret it.

I absolutely loved the format of this book which is completely different to anything else I have read of late.  The ‘witness’ podcasts are fascinating and incredibly easy to read which meant I stormed through this book, despite wanting to make each minute count.  I loved the conversational style of the podcasts and was looking for new clues in each statement.  I’m not sure I found any but I was certainly looking.  In between the podcast chapters are chapters relating to the experience and emotions of Harry Saint Clement-Ramsay who found the decaying corpse of Tom Jeffries one year after his disappearance.  Some chapters are in the past and explain why he and his upper class pals were out roaming Scarclaw Fell in the dead of night with dogs and lamps.  Others are in the present and detail Harry’s thoughts and feelings since the initial broadcast of the first podcast.  I felt these chapters really added to the story and were necessary – giving that extra vital background information.

I felt truly scared at points and heartily commend Matt Wesolowski for his use of tension.  The plot doesn’t really slow at any point and keeps you teetering on the edge.  I couldn’t get enough of this book and I can guarantee that I will read it again in the future (one of those rare books that gets a second read!).  Well, that’s if I can forget about Nanna Wrack in the meantime.  Creepiness at it’s very best!

Would I recommend this book?  Six Stories is my current favourite read of the year so far and it’s going to take an awful lot to knock it from it’s top spot.  It’s so different, so utterly unique that it deserves to be read by all crime thriller fans (and horror fans too!).  You’ll be missing out if you don’t pre-order this book today.  Go on, you know you want to.  Otherwise Nanna Wrack may pay you a visit….

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th March 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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image001 (1).pngMatt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

Author Links:Orenda Books | Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: Little Bones by Sam Blake (@samblakebooks) @BonnierZaffre

little bones.jpg“Attending what seems to be a routine break-in, troubled Detective Garda Cathy Connolly makes a grisly discovery: an old wedding dress – and, concealed in its hem, a baby’s bones.

And then the dress’s original owner, Lavinia Grant, is found dead in a Dublin suburb.

Searching for answers, Cathy is drawn deep into a complex web of secrets and lies spun by three generations of women.

Meanwhile, a fugitive killer has already left two dead in execution style killings across the Atlantic – and now he’s in Dublin with old scores to settle. Will the team track him down before he kills again?

Struggling with her own secrets, Cathy doesn’t know how dangerous – and personal – this case is about to become…”

That blurb!  I love that blurb.  When I was offered the chance to read Little Bones there was no way I was going to say no.  I also remembered a number of influential bloggers being totally smitten with this book when it was first published last year as an eBook.  So I just had to see for myself.

And the verdict?  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It has a good, strong story-line with believable and maybe more importantly, likeable characters.  The opening chapters with the discovery of the bones grab your attention and you’re not released from the story until the very end.  Probably muttering the words…’woah’ or ‘…seriously?…’ under your breath.

Cathy Connolly is a very likeable lead protagonist who is only made more human by the situation she finds herself in.  I instantly warmed to Cathy and was cheering her on from start to finish (for those who have read the book, particularly at the end….!).  When Cathy is called to what seems like a run-of-the-mill burglary, she is shocked to discover what appears to be small bones sewn into the hem of a wedding dress.  But it’s not the only case Cathy and her boss, DI Dawson O’Rourke are tasked with investigating.  They are also on the hunt for a cold blooded killer from overseas who has reportedly landed in County Dublin.  I really enjoyed the relationship between Cathy and O’Rourke.  There’s a deep understanding between these two characters which I found very appealing.  I’m keen to see where Sam Blake will take this particular relationship.

The author has managed to spin several seemingly unconnected threads throughout the story and I couldn’t work out how they were all going to tie together.  But they do, and the bringing together and the rounding up of the these sub-plots is done with great style.  I want more Cathy Connolly and I’m excited to see that book two in the series is due for release later in the Spring.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  It’s a dark, chilling read and I really enjoyed it.  Cathy Connolly is instantly likeable and I can’t wait to read more from Sam Blake soon.  Definitely a debut writer to watch out for.

Four out of five stars.

Little Bones by Sam Blake was published in the UK by Twenty7 | Bonnier Zaffre on 23rd February 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, who is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but has lived at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland for (almost) more years than she lived in the UK. Married to a retired member of An Garda Siochana she has two children, three cats and a fish, and runs the world’s only national writing resources website, as well as a publishing consultancy – she is Ireland’s leading literary scout.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#GuestReview: Nowhere Girl by Ruth Dugdall (@RuthDugdall) @Legend_Press @Tracie_Delaney

nowhere girl.jpg“When Ellie goes missing on the first day of Schueberfouer, the police are dismissive, keen not to attract negative attention on one of Luxembourg’s most important events.

Probation officer, Cate Austin, has moved for a fresh start, along with her daughter Amelia, to live with her police detective boyfriend, Olivier Massard. But when she realises just how casually he is taking the disappearance of Ellie, Cate decides to investigate matters for herself.

She discovers Luxembourg has a dark heart. With its geographical position, could it be the centre of a child trafficking ring? As Cate comes closer to discovering Ellie’s whereabouts she uncovers a hidden world, placing herself in danger, not just from traffickers, but from a source much closer to home.”

Have I ever mentioned that my TBR is pretty darn scary?  Hmmm…think about it, it may be difficult to remember (hahahaha).  OK, so I mention my #terrifyingTBR in virtually every post I write, and I can guarantee that it’s not getting any smaller.  Hello, my name is Emma and I’m a book addict.  So it’s time to do something about it and I will do that with the help of some incredibly generous, amazing guest bloggers and reviewers.

And the first willing volunteer (notice I didn’t say ‘victim’!) is the very lovely Tracie Delaney over at Passionate About Books.  Not only is she a fantastic blogger but she’s just about to release her debut novel!

IMG_1003.jpegHere’s everything you need to know about the very lovely Tracie:

I’ve been obsessed with books for as long as I can remember. As a child, I could be found with one of two things in my hand; a book or a bridle (I was an avid horse rider in my younger years).

Reading is a wonderful form of escape. I love the way books transport you to different worlds and allow you to be a part of so many character’s lives.

I blog and write under the pseudonym Tracie Delaney. My first novel, Winning Ace, is due out in May 2017.

And here’s Tracie’s review of Nowhere Girl by Ruth Dugdall:

When I offered to read and review Nowhere Girl for Emma Welton over at the fabulous damppebbles.com, I had expected a new arrival on my Kindle. So when an actual book arrived in the post, I was super excited. The first thing I did on opening the package? I opened the book and sniffed the pages. Now, to non-book people, that would seem very odd, but to us book-types? The most normal thing in the world!

When seventeen year old Ellie Scheen goes missing at the local fair in Luxembourg, the police don’t appear to be taking the disappearance seriously. After all, this isn’t the first time Ellie has gone missing.

And when a witness at the fair reports that she saw Ellie’s mother, Bridget, hit her daughter and, on further investigation, it doesn’t seem to have been the first time, the police start to focus their attention on Bridget.

Cate Austin, the partner of Olivier Massard, the detective in charge of the case, doesn’t think the police are taking Ellie’s disappearance seriously and so decides to investigate Ellie’s disappearance for herself.

 My Review

The blurb of this book really intrigued me and I was very much looking forward to reading it. However, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. The story is intriguing and all the elements of a great novel are there, but it just didn’t hit the mark.

The present tense style of writing is not one of my favourites, but I can easily get past that for a great story, but in this novel, I found it rather distracting. The pacing of the novel was extremely slow. If 20,000 words had been cut during editing, it wouldn’t have hurt the story; in fact, it would have helped to create a faster paced novel with more tension and intrigue. The pacing picked up as we reached the climax of the novel—as it should—but at least seventy five percent of the novel was too slow for my tastes.

I also found it difficult to connect to any of the main characters, apart from Amina, a young Algerian girl smuggled illegally into Luxembourg in the hope of a better life. It was almost like watching a movie through a pair of net curtains. You could kind of see what was going on, but the detail was missing. I wanted to get deep inside the character’s minds, to really feel what they were feeling and experience their terror, horror and panic at what was happening, but the author fell short in translating that closeness from page to reader.

Despite the novel’s blurb telling us that Cate decides to investigate matters for herself, I found she was very easily persuaded onto a different path. With a few sharp words from Olivier, Cate seemed to oscillate between half-hearted attempts to find out what happened to Ellie, and then, just as quickly, she would decide she couldn’t do anything. In those moments, her purpose in the novel seemed to consist of taking her daughter to school and walking the dog. Again, it was the last quarter of the novel where Cate digs her heels in and, despite her better judgement telling her to leave well alone, she finally finds the grit and determination to bring Ellie home.

This novel deals with very serious subjects; the hopelessness of people in certain parts of the world, the risks they will take to secure a better life for themselves and the horrifying reality of the hidden crime of child trafficking. However, for those concerned with that subject, it is dealt with very sympathetically, and there is only hints of what is going on, rather than graphic description.

I wouldn’t put anyone off reading this novel if, like me, they are intrigued by the blurb. The very parts that didn’t suit me may be exactly  what others love to read.

My heartfelt thanks, once again, goes to Emma Welton at damppebbles.com for giving me the chance to read this novel.

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Thank you so much for your fantastic review Tracie.  I rather like this guest reviewer lark so if you are a blogger or reviewer and would like to read one of my (many) books then please let me know and I’ll send you my epic book list.

Nowhere Girl by Ruth Dugdall was published in the UK by Legend Press on 31st October 2015 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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ruth dugdall.jpgRuth studied English at university and then took an MA is Social Work. Following this she worked in the Criminal Justice System as a social worker then as a probation officer. Part of this time was spent seconded to a prison housing serious offenders. She continues to work within the Criminal Justice System, most recently in Luxembourg.
Ruth’s novels are informed by her experience and are “authentic and credible”.

Author Links:Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Cursed by Thomas Enger (@EngerThomas) @OrendaBooks

9781910633649.jpg“What secret would you kill to protect? When Hedda Hellberg fails to return from a retreat in Italy, where she has been grieving for her recently dead father, her husband discovers that his wife’s life is tangled in mystery. Hedda never left Oslo, the retreat has no record of her and, what’s more, she appears to be connected to the death of an old man, gunned down on the first day of the hunting season in the depths of the Swedish forests. Henning Juul becomes involved in the case when his ex-wife joins in the search for the missing woman, and the estranged pair find themselves enmeshed both in the murky secrets of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families, and in the painful truths surrounding the death of their own son. With the loss of his son to deal with, as well as threats to his own life and to that of his ex-wife, Juul is prepared to risk everything to uncover a sinister maze of secrets that ultimately leads to the dark heart of European history.

Today I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Cursed blog tour.  Cursed is written by Thomas Enger and is the fourth book in the Henning Juul series (but the first one I have read which should come as no surprise to regular visitors!).  I do love nordic noir and have previously indulged in the literary delights of Gunnar Staalesen, Agnes Ravatn and other talented Scandinavian authors.  So with this in mind, I was excited to read Cursed.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Thomas Enger has created a mesmerising tale which draws you in from the opening pages and keeps you glued to the story throughout; all the way to the thrilling conclusion. And what a way to end a novel!  I’m already champing at the bit for book five in the series.

My heart really went out to Henning Juul who I immediately liked.  Henning isn’t your usual crime thriller hero as he’s an investigative crime journalist and not a harried detective.  It was a refreshing change for me to be reading a novel which wasn’t set in the midst of a major police investigation.  The relationship between Henning and his ex-wife, Nora Klemetsen broke my heart at times.  And the tragedy suffered by the estranged couple I found a hard read.  Henning’s all-consuming desire to discover who was responsible for his young son’s death had me riveted and cheering him on from the comfort of my sofa.  Particularly with the introduction of Nora’s new partner, Iver and their earth shattering news.

There are many different threads to the story and it’s hard at times to see how they will all come together.  But come together they do in an explosive finale.  The pictures painted by the author are so clear that you can’t but help feel you’re there, living the action with them.

I loved the different characters of the Hellberg family.  Each one individual and each with their own secrets.  But how far are they prepared to go to keep those secrets?  Well, you’ll have to read Cursed for yourself and find out!

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  If you’re anything like me and love to read books where at the centre of the crime you find a wealthy, secretive and controlling family then you will love Cursed.  Fantastic, believable characters…some you will love, some you will loathe.  Beautifully atmospheric, completely gripping and full of intrigue. Orenda Books, you have another gem of a novel on your shelf and I can’t wait for book five.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Cursed.  My thanks to Orenda Books for providing me with a copy.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Cursed by Thomas Enger (translated by Kari Dickson) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th February 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook editions | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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(c) Ingrid Basso

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2009, which became an international sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In 2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller called THE EVIL LEGACY, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

Author Links: Website | Twitter |