#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Pact by S.E. Lynes (@SELynesAuthor) @bookouture #ThePact

the pact.jpg“You made a promise to your sister. It could destroy your daughter.

The Daughter 
15-year-old Rosie lies in hospital fighting for her life. She’s trying to tell her mother what happened to her, and how she got there, but she can’t speak the words out loud. 

The Mother
Rosie’s mother Toni has a secret. She had a traumatic childhood, and she and her sister Bridget made each other a promise thirty years ago: that they could never speak the truth about what they went through as children, and that they would protect each other without asking for help from others, no matter what…

Rosie was Toni’s second chance to get things right: a happy, talented girl with her whole life ahead of her. Having lost her husband in a tragic accident, Toni has dedicated her life to keeping Rosie safe from harm. 

But Rosie has plans that her mother doesn’t know about. She has dreams and ambitions – of love, of a career, of a life beyond the sheltered existence that her mother has created for her. But the secrets Rosie has been keeping have now put her life in danger. 

The Pact
In order to save Rosie, Toni may have to break her lifelong promise to her sister… and open doors to her past she hoped would remain closed forever. 

The Pact is a chilling psychological thriller about the lies we will tell to save our children. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Apple Tree Yard and The Sister.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on The Pact blog tour, which I share with two fabulous bloggers; Jen over at Jen Med’s Book Reviews and Kaisha over at The Writing Garnet.  The Pact is written by one of my favourite authors, S.E. Lynes and was published today by Bookouture so I would like to take this opportunity to wish all involved a very happy publication day!  S.E. Lynes wrote one of my very favourite books of 2016, the incredible Valentina which put her well and truly on my radar as an author.  Last year Lynes signed a deal with the mighty Bookouture and published her first book with them, Mother, towards the end of 2017.  For a reminder of my review, please click HERE.

When I heard a second Bookouture release was in the pipeline from Susie Lynes I jumped at the chance to read it.  And flipping heck, I was not disappointed.  One of my favourite things about The Pact is how uneasy the reader feels from pretty much page one.  I felt very apprehensive, I could sense something wasn’t quite right with the picture Lynes was painting for me and I loved it!  If you’re a fan of suspense then this is a must-read.

We meet Toni, widowed mother of one teenage daughter, Rosie.  Rosie is a budding theatre star but lacks the confidence to push herself to the glittering heights others feel she could achieve.  Not helped by Toni, her overprotective mother.  Lending a more pragmatic and considered point of view to proceedings is Toni’s older sister, Bridget. Both Bridget and Toni have been through a lot; a traumatic childhood featuring unimaginable abuse for Toni, for Bridget the need to protect her sister from the horrors but feeling a constant failure.  That’s where the pact came in.  A promise made many years ago that no matter what, the two sisters would look after each other and not rely on the help of others.  But the pact could be the sisters undoing….

I absolutely loved Bridget.  She became a bit of a superhero for me and at times I found myself cheering her on as I read (thankfully this all happened in my head otherwise my family may have been giving me the odd strange look!).  I totally believed in Lynes’s characters; I could picture them, I could hear their dialogue in my head (more strange looks but from everyone reading this, this time haha!) and I truly felt for them.  I didn’t like Toni as much as I liked Bridget but that was due to her overbearing, smothering nature.

Lynes has cleverly used the vocabulary used by the ‘yoof’ of today along with text speak and emojis when writing Rosie’s interactions with friends.  All in all, this added to the believability factor making shy, naive young Rosie all the more real for me.  Throughout the pages of The Pact my heart broke for her in many different ways.

As usual, I was looking out for clues from the very start of the book and was able to see where a couple of storyline threads were heading.  Can I give you some advice?  Don’t do what I did.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it superbly gripping from start to finish despite being able to see where things were going.  I wonder how much it would have knocked my socks off if I hadn’t been doing that.  Really, don’t do what I did.  Read it with an open mind and see where Lynes takes you.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, definitely.  Very emotional, incredibly tense and a wonderful, wonderful read focussing on modern day fears and a parent’s worst nightmare.  I wanted to hide behind my hands at points whilst reading, peeking out from behind my splayed fingers.  Lynes is a very talented writer and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Pact by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 27th February 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

S E Lynes Author PhotoAfter graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com


#CaseClosed: #January2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles

Hello, my bookish friends. I can’t quite believe today is the last day of January. Normally January is a long, tortuous, grey month but I have to say, it’s been kind of OK for me and the blog this year! I hope you’ve had a good January featuring lots of fabulous books. I’m always looking for recommendations so if you’ve read something rather extraordinary then please let me know in the comments section below.

So, what treats did January hold for damppebbles? #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reached its conclusion and the series ended with a bang on my blogiversary with one of my favourite bloggers, Gordon Mcghie of Grab This Book. If you missed any of the posts then you can catch them all on the R3COMM3ND3D tab at the top of this page. There you will also find the form for #R3COMM3ND3D2018, so once you’ve found three must-read titles published this year, pop back and fill in the form (😉).

My thanks to these fabulous book bloggers and authors for taking part in #R3COMM3ND3D2017 this month:

Joy Kluver of Joy Kluver | Karla Forbes, author of the Nick Sullivan series | Gemma Wiles of Gem’s Quiet Corner | Sarah Swan of Sarah’s Vignettes | Emma Poulloura of Star Crossed Reviews | Karen of Go Buy The Book | Claire Ayres of BrizzleLass Books | Becca Burnton of If Only I Could Read Faster | Rachel Emms of Chillers Killers and Thrillers | Rebecca Foster of Bookish Beck | Ayo Onatade of Shotsmag Confidential | Claire Knight, reviewer at CrimeBookJunkie | Jonathan Mark, author of The Last Messenger | Gordon Mcghie of Grab This Book |

On 14th January I had my second blogiversary and offered up probably the biggest prize you will ever see on damppebbles (until next year when I try and come up with something even BIGGER!). The lucky winner was Sonya Alford who blogs over at A Lover of Books. If you haven’t discovered Sonya’s wonderful blog yet then you must do. Although, she may not be posting for a while after receiving this HUGE book haul (plus an eBook which you can’t see, plus another five paperback books to be sent separately!).


My thanks to Orenda Books, Fahrenheit Press, Jackie Baldwin, Anne Coates, Abigail Osborne and A.C. Hutchinson for their very kind and generous offerings to the prize bundle. You guys made my blogiversary extra special ❤.

I’ve partaken in a few blog tours this month (despite my promise to cut right back!)

All of which were reviews and all were pretty spectacular reading (three x five-star reviews and two x four-star):

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski | Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker | The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer | Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb | This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan |

I also managed a few other bookish posts here and there:

R3COMM3ND3D2017: The After Show Party | Review of If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch | My Final Girls by Riley Sager review was reposted to celebrate the books paperback publication | Review of The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor | Review of The Feed by Nick Clark Windo |

I don’t feel as though I have read enough this month so I’m aiming to really increase the amount of time I spend reading in February. I have lowered my Goodreads challenge target from the usual 100 to 75 this year to take some of the pressure off but I feel as though I’ve already fallen behind. Not good! Any words of advice would be greatly appreciated.

I think that’s it! Not a lot going on but what has been happening has been all good stuff. Which means it’s time for my book of the month…


So far this month I have rated FIVE books as FIVE sparkling star reads. A month of excellent reading, I’m sure you will agree! Most months consist of a couple of five-star reviews here and there, which normally make my choice of Book of The Month rather easy. But not this month. So many stand out reads. But I have made a choice and my book of the month is…..

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Here it is…The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor!

the chalk man

This is another crime/horror crossover which ticked all the boxes for me. I still can’t get over the fact this is the author’s debut and it was plucked from the slush pile! Never lose hope budding authors, NEVER lose hope! I just loved this book from start to finish and I’m currently pining for the lead character, Ed.

“Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It’s so deliciously gripping, chock full of suspense, engrossingly creepy and had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Although I managed to put this book down and walk away from it I really didn’t want to. When I was doing ‘life stuff’ I was thinking about the story, thinking about Eddie and his friends. Trying to see where the story would lead me. I failed, by the way. There was no way I saw THAT coming. WOW! Absolutely brilliant, highly recommended, lots of fun and wonderfully addictive.”

As months go, January 2018 has been an exceptional month for me as I have loved every single book I have read. I hope this continues into February which I’m sure will start with a bang as I am currently reading the third Jake Boulder novel from Graham Smith and Bloodhound Books and absolutely blinking loving it! My blog tour post is scheduled for 3rd February so don’t miss it!

So long January 2018, thank you for being a little bit nicer than other Januarys. I hope, dear followers, that your Februarys are full to the brim of fabulous books.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Joy Kluver (@JoyKluver) #JoyKluver

Once again, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of the readers, subscribers and sharers of my blog (and my blog posts), my fellow book bloggers, the incredible publishing folk and the extremely talented authors who we readers hold in the highest regard, the happiest of New Years.  May 2018 be your brightest, most productive and most sparkly year to date, and may we all look forward to the many wonderful literary tales you have in store for us!

2017 may now be a distant memory but I am delighted to confirm it is not the end of ##R3COMM3ND3D2017.  I was overwhelmed with the number of bookish types wanting to take part in this feature – I had more replies than I had days available!  So instead of doubling up on posts, here and there, I have decided (with the help of my blogger friends) to continue running #R3COMM3ND3D2017 until my blogiversary on 14th January.  Which means another thirteen fabulous posts.  Starting today with another of my favourite book blogs.

Today I am thrilled to welcome the fabulous Joy Kluver to damppebbles.  Joy blogs over at Joy Kulver and has kindly agreed to share her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads with us today.

Without further ado, I’ll hand over to Joy…


Rattle by Fiona Cummins (DS Fitzroy #1)
This was published at the beginning of the year but I had the chance to read it last Christmas. I ‘rattled’ through it and ignored my family for a few days. As well as having one of the creepiest characters I’ve read in a long time, Fiona Cummins is fantastic at creating atmosphere. It’s hard to believe that it’s a debut novel.

eleanor oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
This isn’t really a crime genre book but there is a crime that takes place and that was a big hook for me. Initially, I found the ‘in head’ narrative a bit much but as Eleanor desperately tries to change her life, I found myself rooting for her. This book made me both laugh and cry.


Sealskin by Su Bristow
I love this book! I already knew about the legend of the Selkies (seals that become humans) so I was easily drawn into the story. Su Bristow conjures up the magic of the Scottish Isles with wonderful descriptions and authentic characters. If you’re looking for a book to whisk you away from your everyday life, then you can’t go wrong with Sealskin.


Many thanks for your excellent recommendations, Joy and for joining me today.  I have ‘Rattle’ on the TBR and hope to get to it soon as I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of the sequel ‘The Collector’ at Harrogate in July.

If Joy has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books she recommends then please see the following amazon.co.uk links (these links ARE NOT affiliate links):

Rattle by Fiona Cummins | Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman | Sealskin by Su Bristow |

About Joy:
My Twitter bio reads – Escaping the madness of motherhood through writing crime novels! As well as blogging, I’m writing my own police procedural series featuring DI Bernie Noel. I love going to book events to meet up with other readers, bloggers and writers. I’m part of the First Monday Crime reviewing team and sometimes, I take my homemade cookies to First Monday.

Joy’s Blog and Social Media Links:
Joy Kluver | Facebook | Twitter |

Huge thanks to Joy for joining me today.  Make sure you pop back to damppebbles tomorrow when I welcome Karla Forbes, author of the Nick Sullivan series, with her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Noelle Holten (@nholten40) #CrimeBookJunkie

It is my GREAT pleasure to welcome you to my brand new feature which I plan to run for the rest of the year (or longer if I have enough authors and bloggers wanting to take part!).

What is #R3COMM3ND3D2017?  I don’t know about you but I love those end of the year posts where the booky community list their top ten or top twenty books (I think I had a ‘top twenty-seven books’ last year!).  That’s where #R3COMM3ND3D2017 comes from.  Three books they believe other readers MUST check out.  I don’t want to take away from anyone’s top list of the year – that’s really not the point – but I’m looking for authors and bloggers to recommend three books published in 2017.  Not necessarily their top three, just three standout reads.  And they don’t have to be crime reads either despite damppebbles being a crime book blog.

And to kick the series off I have someone special.  I would go as far as saying she is a crime book blogging superstar and as a blogger, I have followed and respected her opinion for a LONG time.  It is my pleasure to welcome Noelle Holten of CrimeBookJunkie to damppebbles today with her three recommended reads published in 2017:


The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith (Jake Boulder series #2)
I LOVE a good action/crime thriller and this book/series ticks every box. Fast-paced storyline, #killerhook to grab the reader by the throat and of course…Jake Boulder *swoon*. Need I say more? Read my full review here: https://crimebookjunkie.co.uk/2017/09/the-kindred-killers-blog-tour-review-nholten40-grahamsmith1972-bloodhoundbook-boulderunleashed/

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Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #5)
I absolutely cannot resist a strong, kickass female lead and Alexandra Sokoloff never fails to disappoint. This whole series touches upon topics that other people shun away from – but not Alexandra! Cara and Roarke are fantastic characters and although they are on opposite sides of the law, you cannot help but root for both of them. Read my full review here: https://crimebookjunkie.co.uk/2017/10/hunger-moon-review/

fox hunter
Fox Hunter by Zoe Sharp (Charlie Fox series #12)
I had heard about the Charlie Fox series and had a few on my kindle before reading Fox Hunter this year – OMFG- WHY DID I WAIT! Again, another strong, intelligent kickass female lead along with being an action/crime thriller – #BOOM! The storyline was brilliant and kept me turning the pages. I definitely recommend this series! Read my full review here: https://crimebookjunkie.co.uk/2017/10/fox-hunter-blogtour-zoe-sharp/


Thank you, Noelle.  Brilliant recommendations as expected; two of which I have read and one (the Alexandra Sokoloff series, I am DESPERATE to read).  Personally, I can’t recommend the Jake Boulder series by Graham Smith highly enough.

If Noelle has managed to tempt you or if you would like to find out more about the books, then please see the following amazon.co.uk links:

The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith | Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff | Fox Hunter by Zoe Sharp |

About Noelle:
My name is Noelle and I am in my 40’s. I am an avid reader and by that I mean I am never without a book! I am now an ex-Senior Probation Officer having recently left following 17+ years to try something new and exciting.  By night I read all things crime!! My fascination for books started at a young age and I truly feel withdrawal symptoms if I am unable to read for a few days hence the name #crimebookjunkie! I am interested in many genres, my faves being Grit Lit, psychological thrillers and all things murder. I do enjoy Police Procedurals and legal/action thrillers as well. I tend to keep away from Chick Lit and Erotica…however, if forced at gun point I may give just about anything a read. I tend to review on Goodreads, Amazon UK and .com, Netgalley, sometimes BookBridgr and share reviews on Twitter/My CBJ facebook page, Facebook via Crime Fiction Addict, Crime Book Club, Book Connectors and other various book clubs I am a member of. I have been fortunate enough to be put on a few Publishers reviewing lists.

Oh..and I am obsessed with my chocolate Lab Buster and gorgeous Tabby cat Pebbles, who sadly passed away in Oct 2015 (RIP Pebs x). I previously had the pleasure of guest reviewing on the former site http://www.bestcrimebooks.co.uk now known as BCBandMore as the lovely Kat had kindly taken me under her wing whilst my site was under construction. I miss reviewing for her…but thrilled she gave me that nudge!

Noelle’s Blog and Social Media Links:
CrimeBookJunkie | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram |

What an awesome start to my new feature!  I am so excited and I can’t wait to see what other authors and bloggers have chosen as their recommended reads.

If you’re an author, blogger or work in publishing then please complete the following form to be a part of #R3COMM3ND3D2017

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Hope to Die by David Jackson (@Author_Dave) @BonnierZaffre

hope to die.jpg“On a bitterly cold winter’s night, Liverpool is left stunned by a brutal murder in the grounds of the city’s Anglican Cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage.

Put on the case, DS Nathan Cody is quickly stumped. Wherever he digs, the victim seems to be almost angelic – no-one has a bad word to say, let alone a motive for such a violent murder.

And Cody has other things on his mind too. The ghosts of his past are coming ever closer, and – still bearing the physical and mental scars – it’s all he can do to hold onto his sanity.

And then the killer strikes again . . .”

I am thrilled to be today’s stop on the Hope to Die blog tour.  Hope to Die is the second book in the DS Nathan Cody series and one of my most eagerly anticipated reads of the year.  I read the first in the series, A Tapping at My Door last year when it was first released and WOW, I absolutely loved it.  Click here to read my five-star review.  So much so it made it to my books of 2016 list.  I had incredibly high hopes for this second instalment.

And having read (read = devoured) Hope to Die I can confirm that I am not the slightest bit disappointed; this book was well and truly worth the wait!  Dare I even go as far as to say that I preferred it ever so slightly to the first book?  Hmmm……

DS Nathan Cody is one damaged copper.  Having been involved in an undercover mission which went dreadfully wrong several years ago, Cody has yet to shake the guilt and the terrors viciously pummelled into him that night.  A word to the wise, if you feel any sort of unease when it comes to evil clowns then this may not be the book for you.  I am terrified of the blighters but found some strange, perverse enjoyment in reading about Cody’s association with the malicious monsters.  Who knows, you may feel the same way I do!

The incredibly intense first chapter drew me immediately into the book and I consumed the whole thing, from start to finish, in less than 24 hours (which for me is really very quick).  That old cliche, I couldn’t put it down…?  Well, I couldn’t. Nor did I want to.  It was a delight to be back in the Major Incident Team alongside Cody, the formidable DCI Stella Blunt, the kind-hearted yet newly bolshy DC Webley. What an awesome team and yes, I may be a little bit in love with them all.

Called to the scene of a vicious murder in the grounds of a cathedral, the team are left stumped.  Their victim is a single middle aged woman, a teacher of religious studies at the local girls’ school with no skeletons in her closet, no one close enough to bear a grudge. They are left floundering.  Then a second body turns up, this one not so innocent but associated with the Catholic cathedral.  Could the link between these two victims be their beliefs?  Will Cody and the team discover who their twisted killer is before a third victim meets their maker…?

I absolutely loved it.  One of my favourite reads of the year.  It may be that the murders have a religious connotation, which has always appealed to me.  It may be the subtle humour Jackson writes into his character’s narrative or it may just be that it’s an absolutely stonking crime thriller series that I insist you check out.  As I approached the end of the book I had a fair idea of ‘whodunit’ but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment at all.  (I was right by the way.)

Would I recommend this book?  You have to ask?  Absolutely.  This one is definitely on the list of my top reads for 2017.  Cody and Megan have the most wonderful chemistry and I have high hopes for their future (I can hope, anyway!).  A stellar piece of crime fiction which I want all fans of the genre to read and enjoy.  It works perfectly well as a standalone but why bother when you can read the stunning A Tapping at My Door as well.  Brilliant work, well done Mr Jackson.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Hope to Die.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre for asking me to be a part of the blog tour.

Hope to Die by David Jackson was published in the UK by Zaffre on 21st September 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |


about the author3


David Jackson is the author of a series of crime thrillers featuring New York Detective Callum Doyle. His debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Awards. When not writing fiction, David spends his time as a lecturer in a university science department. He also gives occasional workshops on creative writing. He lives on the Wirral peninsula with his wife and two daughters.


Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: If I Die Tonight by A.L. Gaylin (@alisongaylin) @arrowpublishing

If I Die Tonight“There was a time when Jackie Reed knew her sons better than anyone. She used to be able to tell what they were thinking, feeling, if they were lying… 

But it’s as though every day, every minute even, she knows them a little less. Her boys aren’t boys anymore, they’re becoming men – men she’s not sure she recognises, men she’s not sure she can trust.

So when one of her son’s classmates is killed in suspicious circumstances, people start asking questions. 

Was it really a hit and run? A car-jacking gone wrong? Or something much more sinister? 

Now Jackie must separate the truth from the lies.

How did that boy end up on the road? 

And where was her son that night?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today as it’s my turn to host a stop on the If I Die Tonight blog tour.  If I Die Tonight is the latest release from A.L. Gaylin and is published TODAY!  Happy book birthday to both the author and the lovely folk at Arrow Publishing.  I read and reviewed Gaylin’s What Remains of Me last year and was pretty smitten with it (and by the book’s lead, Kelly Lund).  So when I heard A.L. Gaylin was about to release a suspenseful psychological thriller…well, I had to take a look!

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I am a big fan of crime thrillers set in small town America.  If I Die Tonight is set in Havenkill, a small Hudson Valley town where little happens and that’s exactly how the residents like it.  Except tragedy is heading to Havenkill in the form of a hit and run accident.  When Liam Miller is tragically mown down one wet October night following a carjacking, all eyes fall on Jackie Reed’s eldest son, Wade.  Wade is different to his classmates.  He’s artistic, secretive and a bit of a loner with no friends to fight his corner.  His younger brother, Connor is on his side though and will do anything Wade asks of him.  Even dispose of a tied carrier bag in a dumpster at the local Lukoil.  The same bag Wade had hidden in Connor’s closet the night of Liam’s accident.  Jackie soon begins to realise that she doesn’t know her children anymore.  That they have their own lives, their own secrets.  It’s down to Jackie to clear Wade’s name before he’s arrested and made into the local pariah.

One of the things you can always guarantee with an A.L. Gaylin novel is GREAT characters. Some readers are all about the plot, others the setting.  Personally, I’m all about the characters (and the plot and the setting!).  Jackie Reed was someone I could immediately understand and relate to a little.  She’s a working single mother, with little support from her ex-husband.  What I liked most about Jackie though was her heart. There are times throughout the book when the reader is made to question Wade’s innocence. Jackie has a small wobble here and there but she’s pretty steadfast in her belief that her son is innocent.  I loved that.  I could feel her love and belief emanating from the page.  There are a whole host of other brilliant characters in this story too (however, Jackie will remain my favourite!).  I also really liked Jackie’s youngest son, Connor.  Connor’s life changes when his friends suddenly start treating him differently.  I can imagine how much this would hurt as an adult so I was interested to see where Gaylin would take the emotions of a young teen.  He’s an admirable young man and I really liked him.

I was pleasantly surprised by one of the twists.  I had convinced myself that I knew where the story was going but I was actually quite far off of the mark.  The amount of suspicion in the pages of If I Die Tonight was really rather thrilling.  I mentioned before how much I love books set in small town America and that’s because I love the claustrophobia and how the characters suddenly become suspicious of friends and family, always looking over their shoulders.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  I thoroughly enjoy Gaylin’s writing style, her characters are well written and more believable than most and it’s a GREAT plot, chock full of suspense.  After reading two of this author’s books she is now firmly on my list of authors to keep an eye out for.  Highly recommended.

Four and a half out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of If I Die Tonight.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Jasmine at Arrow Publishing for asking me to be part of the blog tour and for my ARC.

If I Die Tonight by A.L. Gaylin was published in the UK by Arrow Publishing, Penguin Random House on 24th August 2017 and is available in eBook format with the paperback available in December 2017 and the hardcover to follow next year | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

AL Gaylin.jpgAlison Gaylin’s first job was as a reporter for a celebrity tabloid, which sparked a lifelong interest in writing about people committing despicable acts. More than a decade later, she wrote and published her Edgar-nominated first novel, HIDE YOUR EYES.

She’s since published eight more books, including the USA Today and international bestselling Brenna Spector suspense series, which has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony and Thriller awards and won the Shamus award.

She lives in upstate New York with her husband, daughter, cat and dog.

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dead to Me by Stephen Edger (@StephenEdger) @bookouture

Dead-To-Me-Kindle.jpg“How do you catch a killer who knows your every move?

The woman lay flat on the table, her face to one side, her wrists bound with thick tape. Deep scratches marked the wood beneath her fingers, now resting cold and still…

When a woman’s body is found in an abandoned bar near the Southampton docks, Detective Kate Matthews is called in to lead the investigation. She must solve this case to prove she is coping with the death of a close colleague. 

Kate knows a pile of ripped up newspaper cuttings discovered at the victim’s house must be a piece of the puzzle, but her team keep hitting dead-ends… Until she finds a disturbing clue that convinces her of three things: The murder is linked to the body of a man found hanging in a warehouse, she is on the hunt for a calculated serial killer, and the killer is watching her every move.

Kate realises there will be another victim soon, and that her own life is in grave danger, but no one else believes her theory. Can she find and stop the most twisted killer of her career, before another life is lost?

An absolutely NAIL-BITING thriller that will keep you guessing to the very last page. Perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, James Patterson and MJ Arlidge.

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Dead to Me blog tour today, which I share with the very lovely Rachel over at Rae Reads.  Dead to Me is written by established author Stephen Edger, is the first book in the new DI Kate Matthews series and was published by Bookouture on 17th August 2017.

I was very keen to read Dead to Me, Stephen Edger’s first release under the Bookouture banner. In all honesty, I’ve been wanting to read Edger’s books for a while now as a highly thought of blogger friend of mine is a rather large fan of his books.  And seeing as I only get to read blog tour books at the moment, this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

We meet DI Kate Matthews who is soon to be divorced (once she signs the papers!), mother to one and recently transferred from the Met to Southampton due to a previous case gone wrong.  So wrong it ended in the death of a young DC colleague.   The kind of wrong that you find it impossible to walk away from.  Kate is a mess; she’s not making her name in Southampton, colleagues have already turned against her and she’s a disastrous mother. All in all, I couldn’t find a lot to like about her.  I like my detectives to be a little, shall we say ‘damaged’ by the job.  I like them to have flaws but oh my, Kate is something else altogether.  I felt there was room for improvement though, that she could grow on me as the story progressed…but then her ex-husband was called away and Kate’s daughter, Chloe was left in her ‘care’.  Chloe is six years old and was the standout character in the book for me.  It may be because I also have a six-year-old but Kate’s decision to leave her child with her ex-husband hit a bit of a raw nerve with me.  Instead of growing to like her, I went the opposite way and my dislike grew dramatically.  However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I did enjoy this book.  Just because you don’t warm to, or like a lead character, that doesn’t mean you will end up hating the book.  This is certainly the case for me, anyway.

The plot was pacy and I appreciated the very different way the author had of killing off one of his victims.  There is also another gory death towards the start which appealed to my darker side.  I really enjoyed Kate’s perseverance, her desire to figure out if and how three very different cases fitted together.  I also really liked her DC, Laura Trotter who felt very real and relatable.  Other members of the team were a little too distant from the main storyline for me to be able to make a judgment.  Although I will say, at one point, I suspected two totally innocent key characters as the murderer.  I was very, very wrong.

This is a good book and I really enjoyed Edger’s story (if not so much his lead protagonist).  However, what I found very hard to digest was the ending of this book and the big reveal.  I really can’t say much as I don’t want to spoil it for future readers.  So I will say that yes, the big reveal came like a bolt out of the blue but it was a little…unbelievable.  It had me sat there for a few minutes, shaking my head and muttering ‘what…?!’ under my breath.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, yes.  I would, without a doubt, read another book written by Stephen Edger.  It’s a great story and others may be able to warm to Kate in a way I wasn’t able to.  And of course, I may be being overly critical of that ending.  After all, it is fiction and if you can’t do the odd out of left field twist, then when can you?

Three and a half stars out of five.

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

Dead to Me by Stephen Edger was published in the UK by Bookouture on 17th August 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Stephen Edger Author Pic.jpgStephen Edger is a British crime writer, who has been writing since 2010. In that time he has written and published eleven novels, and five short stories. He writes mysteries and thrillers focused on crime.

Stephen was born in the north-east of England, grew up in London, but has lived in Southampton since attending university in the year 2000. Stephen works in the financial industry, and uses his insider knowledge to create the plots of his books. He also has a law degree, which gives him a good understanding of the inner workings of the UK justice system.

Stephen is married, has two children, and two dogs. He is passionate about reading and writing, and cites Simon Kernick and John Grisham as major influences on his writing style.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website |

Top bloggers choose a #crime summer read: Emma at damppebbles.com via @northernlass73

I am thrilled to be taking part in Christine’s ‘bloggers choose a Summer crime read’ feature today.

Want to know what summer read I recommend? Hint: it involves a kick ass protagonist and a trek across America!

My thanks to Christine for asking me to take part in her brilliant new feature. If you haven’t already discovered the fabulous http://www.northerncrime.wordpress.com then here’s your chance. You won’t regret it 😍😍.

Just click the link below 👇.

Source: Top bloggers choose a #crime summer read: Emma at damppebbles.com @damppebbles

#CoverReveal: Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza (@RobertBryndza) @bookouture #DetectiveErikaFoster

I am one happy little blogger today.  Why, you ask?  It’s because I am part of the cover reveal team for the fifth Detective Erika Foster novel written by crime fiction superstar, Robert Bryndza.  I adore Erika Foster.  So much so that I am not ashamed to admit to having a complete girl crush on her!

The fifth book in the series is called Cold Blood and will be published by the mighty Bookouture on 20th September 2017.  Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite (as if you need it to do that!):

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before.

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago.

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack.

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer.

Brilliantly gripping, Cold Blood will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath to the heart-stopping and shocking ending.

How good does that sound?  I can’t wait to read Cold Blood.  Roll on September when Erika’s latest adventure will be released.  Make sure you get your copy by pre-ordering now:

UK  http://amzn.to/2uP064T
US  http://amzn.to/2uOLceW

So, without further ado, here is the stunning cover of Cold Blood:


Oh wow!  I absolutely love that cover.  It’s definitely in line to be my cover of the year. What do you think?

about the author3

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Author info and image (c) Robert Bryndza

Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller is the first book in the Detective Erika Foster series. The Night Stalker, and Dark Water are the second and third books in the series, and the fourth book, Last Breath, has just been published. Robert’s books have sold over 2 million copies, and have been translated into 27 languages.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dying to Live by Michael Stanley (@detectivekubu) @OrendaBooks

DYING TO LIVE cover.jpeg“The sixth mystery in the beloved and critically acclaimed Detective Kubu series. Kubu and his colleague Samantha Khama track a killer through the wilds of Botswana on their most dangerous case yet.

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles… but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman? As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow. A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.”

I am delighted to welcome you my stop on the Dying to Live blog tour.  My lovely blog tour buddy today is Sheila over at The Quiet Geordie.  This is the sixth book in the Detective Kubu series and it was a joy to read.  So far I have managed to devour two previous ‘Kubu’ novels; click here for my review of Deadly Harvest and here for my review of A Death in the Family.  Dying to Live was my third journey to glorious Botswana and my third experience of ‘sunshine noir’.  Dying to Live was published by Orenda Books on 12th July 2017.

For those new to this series, the author, Michael Stanley is a writing team of two.  But you would never know.  Every time I pick up a Michael Stanley novel I’m expecting to see the divide between the two voices, to be able to ‘spot the difference’.  But I can’t.  The writing is seamless and wonderfully confident.

I am incredibly fond of Detective David Bengu who most of the characters refer to as ‘Kubu’, the Setswana word for hippopotamus.  He’s not my usual broken, addiction riddled detective –  the type I’m usually drawn to.  He’s a family man who lives by his principles.  I found the sub-plot of his adoptive daughter’s HIV suddenly deteriorating quite hard to read without becoming emotional, but welcomed this revealing insight into Kubu’s home life and his relationship with his wife, Joy.

Something I tend to find with Michael Stanley books is that you always get something different.  For example, the investigation in Dying to Live initially focused on the death of a Bushman.  Which leads us to the Kalahari and into the secretive world of witch doctors.   But the most important thing to note is that this is a GREAT mystery.  I was completely drawn in to the story and loved the different threads of the investigation and the connections made by Kubu and Detective Samantha Khama.  I couldn’t work out whodunit so was rather surprised by the reveal (always a bonus when you don’t see the twist coming!).

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  This is a great series which I will always come back to.  I feel a real warmth towards Kubu and his family, there’s something very reassuring about reading these books.  Saying that, please don’t be fooled into thinking they are fluffy reads because they are most definitely not.  I recommend that you also read Deadly Harvest and A Death in the Family.  Not because you need to as I think Dying to Live works perfectly well as a standalone, but because they are great books.  More Kubu please, Michael Stanley – the sooner, the better :).

Four stars out of five.

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

Dying to Live by Michael Stanley was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 12th July 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Foyles | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Michael Stanley photo.jpgMichael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |