#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Bowery Slugger by Leopold Borstinski (@borstinski) #TheBowerySlugger #AlexCohenSeries #damppebbles

1 Bowery Slugger Hi Res 1910A turn-of-the-century Jewish boy punches his way into the gangs of New York.

When Alex Cohen arrives in 1915 America, he seizes the land of opportunity with both hands and grabs it by the throat. But success breeds distrust and Alex must choose between controlling his gang and keeping his friend alive. What would you do if the person you trusted most is setting you up to die at your enemies’ hands?

The first book in the Alex Cohen series is a violent historical novel, which rips through the early years of the Jewish New York mob. Leopold Borstinski’s gripping crime noir beats at the chest of every reader with a bloody fist.”

A very warm welcome to damppebbles today and to my stop on The Bowery Slugger blog tour. The Bowery Slugger is the first book in the Alex Cohen series by Leopold Borstinski and was published on 10th November 2019 by Sobriety Press. I received a free eARC of The Bowery Slugger but that has in no way influenced my review.

I occasionally indulge in a little historical crime fiction. Not often enough though, not as frequently as I would like. Which was why I was so excited to make a start on The Bowery Slugger. Set in the 1910s, The Bowery Slugger is the first book in Borstinski’s Alex Cohen series. Teenage Alex has recently landed on the shores of America after a long and arduous sea crossing from his native Ukraine. Quickly discovering the streets of America aren’t paved with gold, Alex realises that providing for his family is his responsibility. Using skills he acquired at home he falls in with the gangs of the Bowery and soon makes a name for himself…

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Bowery Slugger. With its violent opening, I was hooked from the first page and sucked into Alex’s world. The author’s vivid descriptions made it easy for this reader to be whisked back in time to the Bowery in the 1910s, and I loved it! When I wasn’t reading this book, I was thinking about it and keen to return to Alex’s gritty, violent world.

I really liked Alex, but I often tend to prefer the darker characters in the books I read. I was expecting there to be more violence in this book than there actually is but I wasn’t disappointed. Alex’s lifestyle draws him into some tricky situations and he reacts, for him, accordingly. None of the violence in this book is over the top or gratuitous and it fits perfectly into the story.

Alex’s flirtation with his neighbour, Rebecca, was a great sub-plot which softened Alex’s edges a little. I was surprisingly entranced by their ‘will they/won’t they’ relationship as I’m not a fan of romance in the books I read. But it added another layer to Alex Cohen which I enjoyed.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. This a great start to what promises to be a brilliant new historical crime series and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. The ending of The Bowery Slugger came maybe a little too quickly, but I can see exactly why the author ended the novel that way and how it will lead into the second book. Gritty, compelling and oh so good! Highly recommended.

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

The Bowery Slugger by Leopold Borstinski was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 10th November 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats | amazon.co.ukamazon.comNookGoodreads |

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FullSizeRenderLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17 Church Row by James Carol was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 14th November and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview | #GuestReview: A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza: In Dead Flat Major by Pete Adams (@Peteadams8) #ABarrowBoysCadenza #KindHeartsandMartinets @cobaltdinosaur @NextChapterPB #damppebbles

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“Surviving a terrorist explosion, a tutu incident, and a night of celebratory drinking, hungover hero DCI Jack Austin proposes an ill-advised alliance with a newly-turned criminal informant.

After a string of high-profile murders is committed, Austin goes deep undercover – and uncovers a villainous scheme that threatens the Star Chamber.

His world turned upside down, Austin needs to rely on courage, skill and improbable luck. But can he bring the perpetrators of the far-reaching scheme to justice?

Surviving a terrorist explosion, a tutu incident, and a night of celebratory drinking, hungover hero DCI Jack Austin proposes an ill-advised alliance with a newly-turned criminal informant.

After a string of high-profile murders is committed, Austin goes deep undercover – and uncovers a villainous scheme that threatens the Star Chamber.

His world turned upside down, Austin needs to rely on courage, skill and improbable luck. But can he bring the perpetrators of the far-reaching scheme to justice?”

Welcome to damppebbles. As Emma is off counting up the brilliant #R3COMM3ND3D2019 recommendations (and no, I couldn’t type that after one too many beverages!) she’s received in the last couple of days, I’ve jumped into the review hot seat to bring you my thoughts on A Barrow Boys Cadenza. I received a free eARC of A Barrow Boys Cadenza but that has in no way influenced my review.

If you’re the sort of person who remembers these things and looks for patterns, you’ve probably been expecting this review. Having read and reviewed the first and second books in the series (Cause and Effect and Irony in the Soul) and thoroughly enjoyed them, the chances of seeing me pop up with my review of book three were quite high. If you thought this then you have an intuitive mind, one that would fit right in at the station with the Community Policing Team. If you haven’t previously had the pleasure of reading a Pete Adams’ novel then I suggest starting at the beginning, mainly for reading pleasure but also because it is exactly what our central character, Jack, wouldn’t do!

The third book marks a change for me in the Community Policing Team. They have moved from being solely ‘Jack’s team’ with a single leader, to a well-formed team where each member’s voice is heard. The team comes before the individual for each of them. With this in mind you have to question whether Jack is actually the central character or just a hub for developing the other voices. In this book, the emotional development of Jack continues as we see more of his relationship with Amanda, we find out more revelations from Jack’s past, and the personalities of the rest of the team are really shining through. And of course, there is a sinister plot, a crime spree, nefarious daring-do and criminal masterminds to bring to justice!

The plot and character development through the first three books has been seamless, building from low-level crime (don’t ask Jack about mangoes!) through to religious murder, drugs and gun-running, and in this third book the full background to how these crimes link together is revealed. Jack has to tackle his largest foe yet and whether he is dodging bullets in a dockside shootout or trying to infiltrate UK politics, his unique style allows for plenty of laughter and action.

A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza seems to bring the first major storyline to a close, and I will be reading book four, Ghost and Ragman Roll: Spectre or Spook? to find out what Community Policing get up to next. I so enjoy Pete Adams writing and would happily recommend it to everyone. Adams has created characters that by A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza you feel you know, care for and would happily go for a drink with. I’m three books in, with two to go – where will Jack and Amanda take us next? I, for one, can’t wait to find out.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza by Pete Adams was published by Next Chapter Publishing in ebook and paperback formats on 28th July 2019 (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Pete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book, and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some eight years ago, and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his tenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales.

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.

Pete lives in Southsea with his partner, and Charlie the star-struck Border terrier, the children having flown the coop, and has 3 beautiful granddaughters who will play with him so long as he promises not to be silly.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: The Whisper Man by Alex North @MichaelJBooks @1stMondayCrime #TheWhisperMan #FirstMondayCrime #damppebbles

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“If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window…”

Hello bookish friends. I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today because I get to share one of my favourite books of the year with you! The brilliant Alex North will be appearing at First Monday Crime this month which is the perfect excuse for me to shout about The Whisper Man for a second time. Scroll down to find out who else will be appearing at First Monday alongside Alex on Monday!

I received a free ARC copy of The Whisper Man but this has in no way influenced my review.

Well, this is an absolutely cracking read and a strong contender for my book of the year! You know when you see a book and you just know, without any shadow of a doubt, that you’re going to LOVE it. That happened to me at a crime fiction festival last year when I won a book. I could choose between this and another title. A very naughty publicist (who shall remain nameless) talked me into taking a different book against my better judgement and since then I have been hankering after a copy of The Whisper Man. I haven’t read the other book yet, by the way, and it’s got some awesome reviews. I was drawn to this one though and should have gone with my gut!

This a wonderfully creepy and dark read which I powered through – probably quicker than anything else I’ve read this year. There’s a definite horror vibe about it which just added to my overall enjoyment of the book. But what I loved most were our lead characters, Tom and Jake, who absolutely shone from the pages. Tom and his 7-year-old son, Jake, don’t have the easiest of relationships. Rebecca; wife, mother and the glue which held the family together, died suddenly leaving the pair of them to fend for themselves. Jake discovered his mum’s body slumped at the bottom of the stairs. Something that would traumatise most adults. He misses his mum terribly and has a new found fear of the stairs. Which is why Tom decides a fresh start is what they need. They leave the painful memories and the frightening stairs behind and move to the sleepy village of Featherbank. But Featherbank has a dark past of its own. The Whisper Man killed a number of young boys fifteen years ago. And now another boy has gone missing. Bewildered by Jake’s behaviour normally, Tom is even more confused when Jake starts acting even stranger…

I absolutely loved this book and will be sending people barmy by recommending it all of the time! The characters are just superb. I loved Tom and my heart ached for little Jake (I have kids around the same age) but there are other equally as brilliant characters in this book. I have to mention DI Pete Willis who I adored. A man with many regrets and forever searching for the one boy he couldn’t find. He has a troubled past which he tortures himself with on a daily basis and deals with an addiction which he takes one step at a time. Then there’s Frank Carter, an evil psychopath who revels in his past as The Whisper Man and who longs to be remembered for what damage he did. Brilliant, just brilliant!

You need this book in your life. It’s brilliantly creepy, edgy and chock full of surprises. I was totally smitten from the moment I read the first page. The characters are outstanding, the plot hooks you in in a matter of minutes and the writing is just sublime. Not forgetting the seemingly-quaint yet overwhelmingly sinister setting of Featherbank. This book has definitely left its mark on me. I loved it and it’s going to take something extra special to knock it off the top spot.

Would I recommend this book? You have to ask…?! Most definitely. It gave me chills and made my heart ache for Tom, Jake and their struggling relationship. Full of some of the most memorable characters I have ever met in a book – I loved it (do say if I’m repeating myself!). Completely unforgettable, impossible to put down and absolutely everything I want from a book. I am in love.

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

The Whisper Man by Alex North was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 13th June 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats with the paperback to follow in December (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads | Foyles |

First Monday Crime:
Alex North will be joining the panel for November’s First Monday Crime event on Monday 4th November 2019. Alex will be appearing alongside Louise Candlish, Abir Mukherjee, Victoria Selman and Sophie Goodfellow. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 4th November at City University, College Building, Room A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

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Alex North was born in Leeds, where he now lives with his wife and son. He studied Philosophy at Leeds University, and prior to becoming a writer he worked there in their sociology department.

Author Links: | Twitter |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safe House by Jo Jakeman was published by Harvill Secker on 31st October 2019 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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

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

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“Kate Collins has been ghosted.

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

Except for his mobile phone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ghoster by Jason Arnopp was published in the UK by Orbit Books on 24th October 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#BookReview: Soon by Lois Murphy @TitanBooks @lydiagittins #Soon #damppebbles

soon.jpgA gripping literary horror novel about the death of a haunted town, for fans of Richard Matheson. Winner of the Aurealis Award for Best Horror, shortlisted for the Colin Roderick Award.

On winter solstice, the birds disappeared, and the mist arrived.

The inhabitants of Nebulah quickly learn not to venture out after dark. But it is hard to stay indoors: cabin fever sets in, and the mist can be beguiling, too.

Eventually only six remain. Like the rest of the townspeople, Pete has nowhere else to go. After he rescues a stranded psychic from a terrible fate, he’s given a warning: he will be dead by solstice unless he leaves town – soon.”

Welcome to the blog today and to my review of the fantastic Soon by Lois Murphy.  Soon is published by Titan Books in the UK today.  Wishing the author and the folk at Titan Books a very happy publication day.  I received a free ARC copy of Soon but that has in no way influenced my review.

I love a spot of horror. You can’t beat a gripping horror novel, which is exactly what Soon is. It’s the kind of novel that works its way under your skin. When you’re not reading it, you’re thinking about it. When I had finished this book I felt bereft and I wanted to return to the Australian town of Nebulah and the company of Pete, our main protagonist, immediately. Which is kind of odd because Nebulah is haunted. Big badass haunted. Haunted with a capital H-A-U-N-T-E-D.

The story is set in the late 1990s and virtually all residents of this once thriving town have gone. They’ve either had the peace of mind to grab whatever they can and leave, or they’re dead.  Three residents remain; Pete, who has nowhere else to go, Milly, who won’t leave because it would break her heart, and Li, who is too stubborn and won’t be driven out.  Every day during the daylight hours in Nebulah is pretty much like yours or mine. Every night is a terrifying nightmare which they pray they will survive. Because as the sun falls, the mist arrives. The mist will terrify and taunt you. Close your windows and lock your doors because if it gets in, or you leave the safety of your home, it will tear you to shreds. The residents have to drown out the sound of the mist’s claws scratching at the windows every night. A good night’s sleep is a long-forgotten luxury. It calls their names and pretends to be the people they love the most. The mist will show you what it wants you to see. Beguiling to some, horrifying to others. The only thing it wants to do is destroy you. Ignored and ostracised by the Government, their pleas for help are firmly ignored. Outside of Nebulah, Nebulah no longer exists.

So when Pete ends up helping a visitor to the isolated town get away from the terrors in time, she issues a stark warning. He must leave Nebulah or he will die. And he must leave SOON.

This is a truly captivating novel which drew me in from start to finish. The unease and the uncertainty the author creates is a joy to read and I savoured every single second of this book. I was right there at the heart of Nebulah with the characters as they realised the sun would set soon and they were rapidly running out of time… It’s a beautifully written piece of fiction where everything works perfectly; the place, the characters, the gripping plot and of course, the terrifying mist. I wanted to return to this book again and again to get my next Nebulah fix.

I adored Pete. Far from perfect in many ways, I really felt his connection to the remaining residents. Having been shunned by his own daughter for his past failings, his love and respect for his friends, Milly and Li, really shone through. Despite retiring as the local police officer, the added burden of that responsibility – particularly as the next available officer was several hours drive away – still weighed heavy on his shoulders.

Would I recommend this book? I would. I would also recommend it to non-horror readers too as yes, there are a couple of gory scenes but in comparison to many horror novels there really aren’t that many and it’s more about the isolation, the grief and the regret. This is a totally engrossing piece of literary horror fiction and I adored it. I may become as obsessed with this book as I am with Josh Malerman’s Bird Box – you have been warned. Such an atmospheric, beautiful and beguiling novel. Don’t miss this one.

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

Soon by Lois Murphy was published in the UK by Titan Books on 15th October 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesGoodreads |

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lois-murphy-1Lois Murphy’s first novel, Soon, won an Aurealis Award for Best Horror and was shortlisted for the Colin Roderick Award.

Lois has travelled widely, most recently spending six years exploring Australia in a homemade 4WD truck, working mainly in small or remote towns. Lois currently lives near Melbourne, Victoria.

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All Fall Down by Tom Bale was published in the UK by Bookouture on 1st September 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

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

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterFacebook |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Family by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by HQ on 3rd October 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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

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

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

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: The Lagotti Family Series by Leopold Borstinski (@borstinski) @cobaltdinosaur #TheLagottiFamily #damppebbles

Boxset 3D.jpgTwo generations and four decades in the lives of Frank, Mary Lou and the rest of the gang

The Heist: After leaving Baltimore Penitentiary, Frank’s get rich quick scheme to rob a bank requires his girlfriend, Mary Lou to sleep with an inside guy and for his gang to stay together long enough to take down the vault. Meanwhile Mary Lou falls for the inside man and can’t decide whether to go with him or Frank. If she chooses the wrong fella she’ll be penniless and wind up dead. How would you choose between a fool and a dreamer?

The Getaway: After ex-con Frank and his girlfriend Mary Lou rob a Baltimore Bank, they must flee across country before the Feds find them and the mob ices them for stealing from an organized crime boss. As they dash to California, trust becomes the most important currency as Frank and Mary Lou grapple to decide whether love is enough to keep them together. And by the time they reach their goal, they must fight to the death to survive hired guns and trained police shooters. If they don’t kill everyone in their way then they will die themselves. Would you risk everything for a sack of greenbacks?

Powder: When Mary Lou takes the proceeds from a bank robbery to start up her heroin dealing business, old enemies circle overhead and threaten the lives of her twins. How will she keep them safe in such a dangerous place and what is she prepared to do to secure her new venture?

Mama’s Gone: When Mary Lou makes some bad decisions, her twins and her husband must decide whether she’s losing her mind. If they can get that cleared up then all they have to worry about is their feud with the Russian mob. And then someone goes and ices the old lady. Who would have the cajones to murder the head of the Lagotti family?”

Happy Friday and welcome to damppebbles. Ryan the guest reviewer here. Emma has let me take over with a review of Leopold Bortstinki’s book as she is looking through all of your lovely R3COMM3N3D2019 suggestions after her post yesterday (she’s also spent a lot of time adding books to her ‘Terrifying TBR’).  So whilst I am here, I thought I would share my review of The Heist. Without further ado, here’s what I thought…..

The Heist by Leopold Borstinski is the first book in The Lagotti Family Series Box Set. Now those of you with a keen memory will remember that earlier this year I reviewed Mama’s Gone, the fourth and final book in the series.  This blog tour offered me the chance for some reader ‘time travel’ and an opportunity to learn more about Frank and Mary Lou’s back story.

It is almost unfair to call Frank and Mary Lou the main characters as this book revolves around a small number of characters who are working to make Frank’s bank robbery a success.  Andrew and Brian represent the hired muscle and Pete, the getaway driver, completes the gang.  The story follows the planning of the job and the reader watches as tensions develop, scores are settled and each character works out how to get the best deal for themselves.  The deceit, plotting and characterisation in this novel are great as you soon realise that not everyone is going to get their way. And some characters are willing to spill a lot of blood to get a few extra dollars.

Outside the plotting is Mary Lou’s growing relationship with the inside man she is seducing to get information on the bank.   As time moves on you start to wonder who’s side she is on; is it Frank’s, Carter’s – the inside man, or just her own!  It has to be said there is a lot of carnal activity in this book and if that is something that you don’t enjoy then I would suggest you read something else.

My favourite aspect of this book was the slow burn. The planning isn’t over in a few days, it takes a lot longer.  Time for emotions to surface, characters to get hurt, plan their revenge and make whatever alliances are required.   In the background is the insidious Frank Snr, a character straight out of the grittiest noir novel, and a gritty noir novel is really what Borstinski has created here.  A novel which sets the platform for the rest of the box set.

So if you want strong characters, gritty noir and a sense of foreboding this is a good place to start. The Lagotti Family Series Box Set is going to show you a lot of twists and turns and probably a lot of blood before you put it down.  But beware, if you enjoyed this you will be straight into The Getaway – book two of this box set, as some plot lines are deliberately left dangling to entice you onwards. Follow them and watch a mob start from a bank job and develop through to an empire.  What are you waiting for?

I chose to read and review a free digital copy of The Heist. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Lagotti Family Series box set was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 30th June 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

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FullSizeRenderLeopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.