20 Books of Summer 2018 #20BooksofSummer2018 #amreading

I am stupidly excited! Having watched from afar for the past two years I am ready, I am prepped and I am determined to take part in the 20 Books of Summer challenge this year. If you’ve never heard of 20 Books of Summer before then hop on over to the lovely Cathy’s blog at 746 Books and you can find out all you need to know.

The challenge starts on Friday 1st June and participants have until 3rd September to read all 20 books on their lists. Gulp! It’s do-able, right?

20-books

It was a delight to choose my 20 books for the challenge and I’m 99% happy with my list. The odd change may take place here and there (I’m allowed, it’s in the rules!) but hopefully, no one will notice 😉

So without further ado, here are my choices…

Blood City by Douglas Skelton
Cut To The Bone by Alex Caan
Don’t Make a Sound by David Jackson
Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

Heartman by M.P. Wright
Hide and Seek (DI Helen Grace #6) by M.J. Arlidge
Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Normal by Graeme Cameron

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields
Rattle by Fiona Cummins
Sirens (Aiden Waits #1) by Joseph Knox
The Caller (Detective Robert Hunter #8) by Chris Carter

The Dark Inside (Charlie Yates #1) by Rod Reynolds
The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp
The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
The Nightstalker by Sebastian Fitzek

The Rule of Fear by Luke Delaney
The White Road by Sarah Lotz
Unsub by Meg Gardiner
Watching Edie by Camilla Way

So there we have it! What do you think? Have you read any of the books on my list? Any you would recommend starting with?

I can’t wait to make a start, but which one to pick first….?? Hmmm 🤔. If you’re taking part in 20 Books of Summer 2018 then let me know in the comments.

Wish me luck because I’m going to need it 😉. I can’t wait to make a start though!

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#BookReview: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough (@SarahPinborough) @HarperCollinsUK @1stMondayCrime #CrossHerHeart

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“SOMEONE IS LIVING A LIE… BUT WHO?

Is it Lisa?
Haunted by a tragic past, all Lisa wants is a quiet life with her daughter, Ava. And when she meets a new man, things seem to be falling into place. But Lisa is hiding a secret so momentous it could shatter her entire world…

Is it Ava?
When sixteen-year-old Ava saves a young boy’s life, she becomes a local hero. But never in a million years could she have anticipated the fallout of her actions…

Is it Marilyn?
Marilyn has the perfect life. Her husband, her job, her house—she seems to have it all. But she could never admit to her best friend Lisa the lies she tells herself to get through the day…

One moment will change these three women’s lives forever. And the secrets they’ve been keeping could destroy them all.”

Oh.My.Gosh! I’m a broken woman and it’s all thanks to Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough. Now this may come as a shock to many of you as I have a reputation as an on-the-ball crime blogger to uphold but this is the first book I have read by Sarah Pinborough. Her previous release, Behind Her Eyes was a little (<– understatement) popular last year with its #WTFthatending hashtag. I have a copy, I just haven’t managed to find the time to read it yet *hangs head in shame*. So when I heard Sarah Pinborough was appearing at the June First Monday Crime event in London, it was the perfect opportunity to make amends.

And what a book Cross Her Heart is! It’s not often a psychological thriller can bring me to tears but as I said at the start of this review, I am a broken woman. I feel as though I’ve gone ten rounds with a champion heavyweight boxer, beaten and bruised but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I had been warned previously that what you see isn’t necessarily what you end up getting with a Pinborough novel. This author is a master at making you think one thing, pulling the wool completely over your eyes and then going ‘taddah’ and you’re somewhere else entirely different to where you predicted. Top marks for doing it with such aplomb! Many writers try and achieve something similar and they do manage to some degree but this book, this author seem to reach a whole new undiscovered level.

I immediately liked Lisa. I could see a little of myself in her and maybe that was the reason I warmed to her as quickly as I did. She’s an overprotective parent of a sixteen-year-old. She keeps herself to herself, gets on with her life and spends her days fretting about keeping Ava, her daughter, safe. It becomes apparent to the reader that Lisa has a lot of history, that something happened in her past that she’s either running away from or there is someone she’s hiding from. She has secrets but we all have secrets, right? It’s just that some are a lot bigger, a lot more earth-shattering than others though…

Lisa is one of three strong female characters hiding their devastating secrets from the world in this story. Her daughter Ava has her own issues to deal with including an overprotective mother, exams and pressure from her friends to move her relationship with her boyfriend to the next level. Then we also have Marilyn, Lisa’s best friend who’s perfect life isn’t the idyllic picture she paints on a daily basis. I adored all three of these characters. As Pinborough tantalisingly revealed their secrets and dropped another bombshell on her reader, how much I liked them varied quite dramatically – and I found that utterly fascinating.

I do have to mention Daniel and how he totally broke my heart into a million pieces and how, during parts of the book, I had to put it down and walk away and clear my mind a little. I had to have a breather otherwise I would have been a shambolic, sobbing mess in the corner of the room. But as I’m a ‘no spoiler reviewer’ I can’t really tell you anything else about him or his story. If you want to find out more then you’ll have to get a copy of Cross Her Heart.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, yes! What a page-turner of a read. What a brilliant, yet devastating story this is. I was completely hooked and I didn’t want it to end. There were a couple of small points which I struggled to believe but the storytelling is so wonderfully intense and so riveting that I didn’t really care. I was just enjoying a stonkingly good novel! Heartbreaking, emotional, impossible to tear yourself away from and so utterly devastating in places, this book should win awards.

Five out of five stars.

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

Sarah Pinborough will be appearing at the June First Monday Crime on Monday 4th June 2018. Sarah will be appearing alongside Martyn Waites, Lisa Hall, Harry Brett and moderator Jake Kerridge. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 4th June at City University, College Building, A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough was published in the UK by Harper Collins on 17th May 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

sarah pinborough.jpg

Sarah Pinborough is the number one Sunday Times Bestselling and New York Times Bestselling author of the psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes (Jan, 2017). During her career she has published more than 20 novels and several novellas, and has written for the BBC. Her recent novels include the dystopian love story, The Death House, and a teenage thriller, 13 Minutes which has been bought by Netflix with Josh Schwartz adapting.

Behind Her Eyes has sold to nearly twenty territories so far and was sold at auction to the US in a significant deal to Flatiron, Macmillan. There are discussions on going with several movies studios about the film adaptation.

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

Author image and bio © https://sarahpinborough.com/

#CaseClosed: #May2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles #booklove

Hello my bookish friends! It’s not quite the last day of May but I have such a busy schedule on the blog this week that it seemed only right to post my May #CaseClosed a day early (it was that or four days into June which may have resulted in some unusual twitching, haha).

May has been another quiet month on the blog. I’m really struggling to find the time to read and if I’m honest, the thought of sitting down and writing a review is just a little ‘ugh’ at the moment. I took a lovely social media break over the Bank Holiday Weekend so that may become a more regular thing. Do you take regular social media breaks?

During May I took part in five blog tours (plus I have another tour coming your way tomorrow!):

All posts were reviews:
Pressure by Betsy Reavley | The Retreat by Mark Edwards | The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton | The TV Detective by Simon Hall | Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty |

I also reviewed two other books, both for publication day (or as near as dangit!):
Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley | Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines |

And that’s it for May! What an unproductive month it’s been *sigh*. Actually, thinking about it (brooding on it!) I do have other reviews waiting in the wings (It Was Her by Mark Hill for the blog tour on Thursday, When the Waters Recede by Graham Smith for the blog tour on Friday and I’m currently nearing the end of Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough for June’s First Monday Crime) so it’s not as bad as it looks after all! Hoorah!

As for other news, not a lot has happened this month. It was the #BloggersBash awards the other weekend and a number of very good friends won awards. I didn’t but d’you know what? I didn’t expect to. I won the Services to Bloggers category last year and it was time for other people to sparkle and shine. Congratulations to all the winners, you guys are awesome!

Business is good! Just a quick reminder that if you’re a crime author and you’re looking to run a blog tour then give me a shout. I’ve recently started my own blog tour organising business; damppebbles blog tours and I’m currently taking bookings. If you’re a book blogger and would like to find out about the tours I organise then click HERE. Actually, I was wondering where my reading time has gone. I may have just found the answer, lol! (But I’m certainly not complaining!)

Which I think just leaves my book of the month…

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So without further ado, here’s my book of May 2018…

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It’s The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton!

the craftsman

“Our main character, WPC Florence Lovelady, had my full attention from start to finish and I’m left wanting more. What an intriguing, fascinating story and one that will stay with me for some time to come.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. It’s creepy, it’s tense and it’s full of witches! I loved it. I love what the author has done with her story and her characters are an absolute delight. Highly recommended.”

So that’s it from me for now. I have at least two posts a day for the rest of the week so strap yourselves in and hold tight, it’s gonna get busy!

Thanks for dropping by today. I hope you have a sunshine filled June and that the start of Summer is full of fantastic reads.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty (@Hardisty_Paul) @OrendaBooks #Absolution #ClaymoreStraker

absolution“It is 1997, eight months since vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker fled South Africa after his explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Paris, Rania LaTour, journalist, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human rights lawyer, have disappeared. On an isolated island off the coast of East Africa, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches.

So begins the fourth instalment in the Claymore Straker series, a breakneck journey through the darkest reaches of the human soul, as Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, and find those responsible. Events lead them both inexorably to Egypt, where an act of the most shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible.

Relentlessly pursued by those who want them dead, they must work together to uncover the truth, and to find a way to survive in a world gone crazy. At times brutal, often lyrical, but always gripping, Absolutionis a thriller that will leave you breathless and questioning the very basis of how we live and why we love.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Absolution blog tour. Absolution is the fourth book in the Claymore Straker series written by author, Paul E. Hardisty and published by Orenda Books. I had the pleasure of reading ‘The Evolution of Fear‘, the second book in this series back in 2016; you can read that review by clicking HERE. I also took part in the blog tour for the third book, ‘Reconciliation for the Dead‘ with a rather stonking guest post.

It’s been a while since I was last acquainted with the dynamic and dangerous Claymore Straker and oh my goodness, it seems so much has happened to him, near him and because of him in the meantime! But then this is Claymore Straker we’re talking about here and he’s no ordinary man. The reader only has to wait until a mere 4% into the book before the action starts and oh boy, it is a shocker! But then I would expect nothing less from the pen of this highly descriptive and thoroughly accomplished author. One of the things I always enjoy about Paul E. Hardisty’s Straker books is that they are intelligent, well-researched works which the reader can sit back and immerse themselves in. As you’re reading you feel that you’re in safe, knowledgeable hands which only adds to the reading experience.

Chapters alternate between letters from Straker’s lover, Rania and life as it happens to Straker. The chapters which narrate Claymore’s journey are high-octane, thrill rides which leave you wondering what could possibly go wrong next. Will Claymore survive the next gun-toting militant he has the unfortunate pleasure of stumbling upon? Well, you’ll have to read the book for yourself and find out.

I loved the letters from Rania. Early on the reader discovers that Rania never intends on sending the letters to Claymore, which makes them all the more candid. A fascinating glimpse into the mind of a modern Muslim woman, and how her strong belief system supports her through difficult times, and occasionally takes her life in a direction she would rather it not go. I really felt for Rania on many levels. But above all else, her character appealed to me because I always like a kick-ass female character.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a fan of the thriller novel then yes, absolutely! You must read this book, along with the others in the series. As far as thrillers go, this is the most detailed, intelligent and captivating series out there with a heck of a lot of heart added for good measure!

Four out of five stars.

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

Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook format (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

Absolution blog poster 2018.jpeg

about the author3

Paul HardistyCanadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

Author Links: | Twitter |

 

#BlogBlitz | #Giveaway: The TV Detective by Simon Hall (@SimonHallNews) @fahrenheitpress #TheTVDetective

The TV Detective cover“Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.

Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it, so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution. Sadly for Dan it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.

With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is notorious local businessman Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.

As tensions rise Dan comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realise that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.

The TV Detective is the first book in a classic crime series from Simon Hall, who until recently was the BBC Crime Correspondent for the Devon and Cornwall area.”

Hello bookish friends.  For personal reasons, there has been a slight change to The TV Detective blog blitz schedule today so I am welcoming you back to the ‘pebbles for a little bit more The TV Detective love!  You lucky things, you!

On Monday I posted my review of The TV Detective which, if you missed it, you can read by clicking HERE.  Today, however, I am offering one lucky international winner the chance to win an eBook copy of the book.  So if the sound of likeable Dan Groves and the studious, yet suave DCI Adam Breen appeals, and you want to find out more, then here is your chance.

If you need further persuasion then check out these great reviews featured on the blog blitz so far; Bookmark ThatCafe ThinkingThe Irresponsible ReaderLive and DeadlyJuliaPaloozaGrab This Book and Wrong Side of Forty.

To win an eBook copy of The TV Detective all you have to do is follow the instructions in THIS tweet.  Giveaway will close at midday (BST) on 25th May 2018.  One winner will be selected at random and will be notified via Twitter.  The winner will be required to send me their Kindle email address so I may forward an eBook copy of The TV Detective directly to their device.  There is no cash alternative.  Good luck everyone!

The TV Detective by Simon Hall was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 22nd March 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Purchase from Fahrenheit Press |

TV Detective

about the author3

Simon HallSimon Hall is an author and journalist.

He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.

His books – the tvdetective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published.

Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.

Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.

Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.

Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.

Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.

Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.

As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @thetvdetective) and studying pop lyrics.

For more on Simon, see his website – www.thetvdetective.com

Author Links: | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Website |

 

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: The TV Detective by Simon Hall (@SimonHallNews) @fahrenheitpress #TheTVDetective #damppebblesblogtours

The TV Detective cover

“Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.

Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it, so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution. Sadly for Dan it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.

With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is notorious local businessman Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.

As tensions rise Dan comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realise that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.

The TV Detective is the first book in a classic crime series from Simon Hall, who until recently was the BBC Crime Correspondent for the Devon and Cornwall area.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to the start of The TV Detective blog blitz. The TV Detective is the first book in the series of the same name and is written by ex-television news correspondent, Simon Hall. This new and updated edition was published by Fahrenheit Press in March 2018.

What’s that old writer’s adage, ‘write what you know’? Well, that’s exactly what Simon Hall has done in this very readable first instalment of The TV Detective series. Truth and fiction ‘sort of’ collide in this semi-autobiographical tale of a television news reporter. A reporter who contentedly deals with stories involving environmental issues suddenly being thrown into the deep end and having to find his way in the dark and murky world of crime reporting. You see, Simon Hall was a news reporter specialising in the environment until he was moved to the crime beat. Art imitating life, you could say…

Newly appointed crime reporter, Dan Groves is called to a lay-by in the middle of the night to report on a shooting. Unfortunately, being the new kid on the block, he’s missed the main body of the briefing and realises he needs to work on his contacts. What he does learn is that notorious local businessman, Edward Bray has met an untimely end thanks to a shotgun blast to the chest. Groves knows that he’s on the back foot with an investigation that could make or break his new career. That’s when an idea takes root. An idea that’s a bit of a long shot but well worth the ridicule and risk. Miraculously, Groves’ plan is agreed which makes television reporter, Dan Groves, the newest recruit at Charles Cross police station working alongside Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen and the rest of the murder investigation team. Will Dan be able to add anything useful to the investigation or will the crime newbie be thrown out on his ear after the first day? Or could Dan’s skills be used in a different way. Could Dan be the key to solving the case?

I really liked Dan Groves. I expected him to be a bit of a diva what with being a local television celebrity but that wasn’t the case at all. He’s just a normal bloke who ends up working alongside the police, and appearing on TV several times a day! I also very much liked DCI Breen and enjoyed watching the relationship grow into a friendship between Dan and Breen. I would happily read more about these two characters. There’s a good dose of humour and banter between them which added to their overall likeability. However, I would have quite happily done without the excitable puppy that is paparazzo Ellis Hughes, or Dirty El to his friends. Gah, he made my skin crawl!

The TV Detective is set in and around Plymouth and as a once regular visitor to the area, I was enjoying spotting local landmarks and place names. The author managed to hold my attention from start to finish and I was keen to discover what would be the ‘break’ in the case, the clue that helped solve the perplexing riddle.

Would I recommend this book? I would. If you enjoy a well-plotted murder mystery then I heartily recommend you get yourself a copy of The TV Detective. A good all round mystery with a cast of appealing characters that make this an enjoyable read. I would certainly pick up the second book in the series.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review The TV Detective. The above review is my own unbiased opinion. My thanks to Fahrenheit Press for providing me with a review copy of the book.

The TV Detective by Simon Hall was published in the UK by Fahrenheit Press on 22nd March 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Purchase from Fahrenheit Press |

TV Detective

about the author3

Simon Hall.jpg

Simon Hall is an author and journalist.

He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.

His books – the tvdetective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published.

Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.

Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.

Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.

Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.

Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.

Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.

As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @thetvdetective) and studying pop lyrics.

For more on Simon, see his website – www.thetvdetective.com

Author Links: | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton (@AuthorSJBolton) @TrapezeBooks #TheCraftsman #HeWillComeForYou

the craftsman.jpg“Devoted father or merciless killer?

His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago? 
Or is there something much darker at play?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Craftsman blog tour.  The Craftsman is written by Sharon Bolton and was published by Trapeze Books last week, on 3rd May 2018.

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for crime/horror crossover novels, which this most definitely is.  Thanks to social media I saw this book sent to a few lucky early readers at the start of the year and I kid you not, it arrived in its own flipping grave!  How incredible is that?!  I knew there and then that I had to read The Craftsman.  I was pretty much prepared to do ANYTHING to get my hands on a copy (including waiting very calmly and patiently for it to be published!).  So when I was asked to feature on the blog tour, there was no way on this earth that I could say no.

Strangely, and I still can’t quite believe it myself, this is the first book I have read by Sharon Bolton.  I have a copy of Bolton’s Dead Woman Walking on my TBR which I really must get around to.  I loved The Craftsman.  I was immediately drawn into a story that I could not pull myself away from.  Our main character, WPC Florence Lovelady, had my full attention from start to finish and I’m left wanting more.  What an intriguing, fascinating story and one that will stay with me for some time to come.

The book opens with a funeral.  A funeral with a difference as the mourners aren’t there to mourn, they want to prove to themselves that it’s true; Larry Glassbrook is finally dead.  Florence Lovelady, who was heavily involved in the hunt for Glassbrook after he murdered three local teenagers by burying them alive and was key to discovering Glassbrook’s identity, has returned to Sabden in Lancashire to attend the funeral.  Lovelady has been in regular communication with the convicted killer since he was imprisoned.  Glassbrook’s final message, delivered via a short cryptic message, makes Florence wonder whether the arrest, the horrors she experienced all those years ago back in the late sixties, were the doing of Larry Glassbrook or someone much more sinister…

I enjoyed many of the characters in The Craftsman.  But for me, it was ALL about the tough, plucky WPC Florence Lovelady.  It’s the late 1960s and Florence is the first woman to work for the Sabden Police Force.  She’s ‘just a young girl’ in their eyes so is consigned to tea making and typing duties, but she outshines every single other character in the book!  Florence is smart, gutsy and tenacious and tends to run rings around her male colleagues, even when she’s trying not to!  While the men are busy being misogynists, Florence is suggesting filming a re-enactment of the latest victim’s last movements.  While the men are twiddling their thumbs, Florence is creating charts and looking for patterns, searching for the elusive clue to break the case.  Unfortunately, her intelligence, her keen eye and her repeated bouts of good luck put her somewhere she doesn’t want to be.  In the spotlight as one of the main suspects.

Now, this isn’t your everyday serial killer novel.  Nor is it your traditional police procedural.  It may not be everyone’s cup of tea because, at the heart of this story, there be witches.  Sabden, where the story is set, is at the foot of Pendle Hill which has a long history of witches and witch trials.  I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author has taken this long, dark history and used it to grow her character’s experience.  In essence, Florence becomes the focus of a cruel local witch hunt just because she’s more intelligent than her colleagues, more determined, more proactive,…and not a man.

There is so much more I want to tell you about this book.  I could go on for hours telling you about another favourite couple of characters; Daphne and Avril, and the wonderful sparkle they exude.  Oh, and I could tell you how much I enjoyed the main body of the story where the reader is transported to the late sixties (and how I couldn’t help but picture the odd scene from ‘Life on Mars’, the television programme).  This is where you get to meet some of the most misogynistic characters I have ever had the displeasure of encountering in a book.  I wanted to thump most of them.  Thank goodness times have changed!  But if I do continue telling you everything I loved then this will be the longest review I have ever written.  So instead, buy the book and find out the wonders of The Craftsman for yourself.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  It’s creepy, it’s tense and it’s full of witches!  Plus, I don’t know about you, but death by suffocation has always terrified me and I’m a terrible sufferer of claustrophobia.  Which made this book all the more frightening for me.  I loved it.  I love what the author has done with her story and her characters are an absolute delight.  Highly recommended.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 3rd May 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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about the author3

sharon bolton.jpegSharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.

Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.

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

Author Image and Bio © https://www.sharonbolton.com/

#BookReview: Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines (@AJWaines) @Bloodhoundbook #DontYouDare

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“What if your daughter becomes your enemy?

When barmaid, Rachel, discovers her soon-to-be-married daughter, Beth, pinned down by a stranger in the pub cellar, Rachel lashes out in panic and the intruder ends up dead. In desperation, Rachel convinces Beth they should cover up the crime and go ahead with the planned wedding in one month’s time.

Rachel, however, has her own reasons for not involving the police.

Hiding their dreadful secret is harder than they both imagined and as the big day approaches and the lies multiply, Beth becomes a liability. Rachel looks on in dismay at the hen party when, after too many drinks, Beth declares she’s about to make a special announcement. But before Beth can say a word she disappears…

When two people share a chilling secret can both hold their nerve?”

I am a HUGE fan of A.J. Waines’ independently published series about clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby. Huge, I tell you! If you missed them the first time then here are my reviews of Inside the Whispers (book #1) and the more recent Lost in the Lake (book #2). So I was thrilled for A.J. (or Alison) when I heard she had secured a two-book deal with the independent crime fiction publisher, Bloodhound Books. The first book in that deal, Don’t You Dare, was published in the UK yesterday so a very happy (belated) book birthday to Alison and the team at Bloodhound Books!

Don’t You Dare has an eye-opening and really rather shocking first chapter which draws the reader into the story immediately. From then on in, I was hooked. We meet Rachel, mother to Beth who had her daughter at the tender age of 15. Beth is now in her early twenties and aspires to be an actor. But when Rachel walks into the pub where she works and finds her daughter being brutally attacked in the cellar, her instincts take over and she does everything (and anything) to protect her child. Including accidentally killing a man. Accidents happen though. After all, her daughter was being viciously attacked. Rachel lashed out to save Beth, she pushed the attacker, he fell and hit his head. Anyone would have done the same thing to save their child, right? Wrong, because Rachel convinces Beth that they need to lie about the accident and hide the body. And there the thread starts to unravel, destroying the most precious of relationships; the destruction of a mother and daughter…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I’m ashamed to admit that I became quite addicted to watching things spiral out of control for Rachel and Beth. At times, I had the same feeling as watching a tense drama on the television (peeking out from behind my hands). I wanted to find out what was going to happen but at the same time, it was tough to watch the devastation one terribly bad decision could wreak on such a strong bond.

I struggled to like Beth. As a twenty-something young woman, she felt quite childish and selfish. It was all about her and her career but I guess many of us acted that way at that age. (To be honest, my early twenties seem so long ago it’s hard to remember!) Did I like Rachel? I’m not sure. I did at the start of the book but I think my feelings changed for her as the story progressed. Rachel makes some pretty crazy decisions throughout the story and I can *kind of* understand her reasoning for doing some of the things she does (not hiding a body though, I really can’t understand that! 😱).

There’s very little downtime for the reader in Don’t You Dare. The plot moves at an addictive pace and keeps the reader hooked, waiting for the next bombshell to hit or the suspense to mount even more. The ending was totally unexpected and did leave me a little baffled. I didn’t see it coming (and being me, I was looking for clues). I’m sitting here, writing this review asking myself, ‘Really?!’. But I do appear to be the only early reader who has commented on this so I’m putting it down to being ‘just me’!

Would I recommend this book? I would. Told in the voices of both Rachel and Beth, Don’t You Dare is a very readable, hard to put down psychological thriller. Full of devastating secrets, the reader watches from afar as lives shatter and relationships crumble. I REALLY enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the next book (be it a standalone psychological thriller or the next Dr Sam book) from the pen of A.J. Waines.

Four and a half stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Don’t You Dare. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Don’t You Dare by A.J. Waines was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 8th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.

Authors Links: | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter |

#BookReview: Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley (@RebeccaJBradley) #DeadBlind #DIRayPatrick #Prosopagnosia

dfw-rb-db-cover-mid.jpg“How do you identify a ruthless killer when you can’t even recognise your own face in a mirror? 

Returning to work following an accident, Detective Inspector Ray Patrick refuses to disclose he now lives with face blindness – an inability to recognise faces.

As Ray deceives his team he is pulled into a police operation that targets an international trade in human organs. And when he attempts to bring the organisation down, Ray is witness to a savage murder. 

But it’s a killer he will never remember.

The pressure mounts as Ray attempts to keep his secret and solve the case alone. With only his ex-wife as a confidant he feels progressively isolated.

Can he escape with his career and his life intact?”

I recently had the pleasure of reading Fighting Monsters, the third book in the DI Hannah Robbins series written by ex-police detective turned author, Rebecca Bradley.  I said in my review of Fighting Monsters how it was the first full novel by Bradley which I had read.  I also said that I was keen to go back and read books one and two in that series, which (you’ve guessed it!) I haven’t done.  But, in an effort to redeem myself, I have just completed Dead Blind, a brand new standalone from Bradley with a fascinating lead character in DI Ray Patrick.

‘Why so fascinating?’, you may be asking.  DI Patrick was involved in a traumatic car accident whilst in pursuit of a killer.  The accident resulted in several badly broken bones, a colleague who is scarred for life (which he feels 100% responsible for) and a knock to the head.  Not just any old run-of-the-mill knock to the head though.  Prosopagnosia.  I obviously need to work on my knowledge of medical conditions as I had never heard of prosopagnosia.  Even in layman’s terms, I was a bit unsure what ‘face blindness’ actually meant for the sufferer.  Oh, the things I have learnt from reading this book.

At times my heart broke for Ray, the way he had to deal with situations that for the majority of us don’t require any real thought, things we take for granted; such as seeing your children, your partner, your friends and colleagues.  I couldn’t help but put myself in Ray’s shoes as he approached situations which he knew were going to cause him problems.  For example, any time he meets his long-term girlfriend. He knows it’s her because of her voice, her perfume, the smell of her shampoo, he recognises her clothes but when he looks at her face….nothing.  There is no connection there.  And imagine how difficult life would be if you were a senior police officer trying to catch a cold-blooded killer.  Someone only you’ve seen, someone who killed a young man in front of you and someone you now have to pick out of an identity parade.  This is the first time I have met a character with prosopagnosia and I thoroughly enjoyed what Bradley has done with him!

I liked Ray.  I wanted to thump him at times though.  I could see his reasons for wanting to keep his condition secret, and the story wouldn’t have had quite the same edge to it but flipping heck, man!  I would be terrified to tell my employer something like that too (although my employer is my children, and they’d probably just shrug and carry on squabbling over whose turn it was to choose a television programme!).  Sharing is caring, or something like that anyway!  What I did love was the bubbling, will they/won’t they between Ray and his ex-wife, Helen.  From Helen’s point of view, it seemed to be a fairly certain ‘they really won’t’ but I was never 100% sure, I *think* she could be tempted to rekindle her love affair with Ray, just for old times sake.  I’m not a fan of any kind of romantic liaison in my crime reads but this one could be interesting…

The investigation Ray and his team were carrying out was an interesting one.  This book is so much more about the characters rather the investigation, which was a rather pleasing change.  After all, we know whodunit fairly early on.  It’s just whether Ray can get his identifiers lined up in time to catch the killer, and exactly how long he can keep his condition a secret for…

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I really enjoyed it and hope (fingers crossed) that Bradley has lots more adventures in store for Ray and his team.  I want to read more about these characters; they intrigue me.  I will be sad if my path doesn’t cross with DI Ray Patrick’s again.  If you’re a fan of a character-driven police procedural then make sure you pick up a copy of Dead Blind.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, with Rebecca Bradley at the helm you get a certain amount of realism that others fail to achieve.  Her experience as a police detective adds so much to the detail of the story.  Slick, absolutely fascinating and very readable.  Great stuff.

Four out of five stars.

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

Dead Blind by Rebecca Bradley was published in the UK on 8th May 2018 and is available in eBook format (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about the author3

rebecca bradleyI live in Nottinghamshire with my family and two Cockapoos Alfie and Lola, who keep me company while I write. I need to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if I could, I would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis.

After 16 years service, I was recently medically retired from the police service where I finished as a detective constable on a specialist unit.

My first crime novel, Shallow Waters is set in Nottingham. The lead protagonist is DI Hannah Robbins. Because the novel is written in first-person narrative you get a pretty good feel for who she is.

I blog about my writing, policing, social media, occasionally the above disorders and anything else that springs to mind. It’s a loosely connected place inside my head and it’s possible anything could come out. I would genuinely love to see you around and to hear your thoughts.

To keep up-to-date with all news, receive exclusive content, updates, and giveaways, sign up to the mailing list HERE.

Author Links: | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter |

Author Image and Bio © http://www.rebeccabradleycrime.com/about/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Retreat by Mark Edwards (@mredwards) #ThomasandMercer #TheRetreat

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“A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.”

The warmest of welcomes to damppebbles today and to my stop on The Retreat blog tour. The Retreat is the latest release from one of my favourite authors, Mark Edwards, and is available to purchase from 10th May onwards. You can catch my reviews of some of Mark’s previous books by clicking the following links (be warned, there may be a spot of fangirling): Follow You Home, The Devil’s Work & The Lucky Ones (I have read more than these three, but they were pre-blog so no reviews to share. Shame on me!).

Normally, after finishing one of this author’s books, I sit back and think, ‘Wow, could that happen to me!?’. I didn’t do that this time, which is probably something I should be relieved about. The story felt a little more ‘fictional’ than others before it, but that’s neither here nor there. This is another fantastic addition to Mark Edwards’s catalogue of outstanding psychological thrillers. How does he do it?! Time and time again! (Honestly, if you’ve never read anything by this author then you are seriously missing out!).

You may know me as a die-hard crime fan but I’m also a massive fan of the horror genre and The Retreat is billed as a psychological thriller with a horror twist. If the word ‘horror’ puts you off then don’t fret, it’s a not a gruesome, gory slasher fest (which I love, by the way). The horror is provided by a small community’s fear of its own fables. A myth handed down through the generations, from parent to trusting, mesmerised child about a witch; the Red Widow. The Retreat shows the reader the terrifying consequences of an urban legend, and the uncomfortable power an adult has over a child’s beliefs to tease…and terrify. And ultimately, what terrible damage can be done.

Lucas Radcliffe is our main protagonist and possibly my favourite lead in a book ever. He’s a horror writer, recently bereaved after the horrific death of his girlfriend and following his one bestseller is struggling to get anything he’s even remotely proud of down on paper. That’s why a trip to Nyth Bran, a new writers retreat seems like such a good idea. Particularly as it is just down the road from where he grew up as a child and he knows Beddmawr fairly well. That’s where he meets Julia, widowed owner of the writers retreat and mother of missing daughter, Lily. Life hasn’t been kind to Julia; her daughter disappeared and was believed to have drowned in the River Dee, her husband leapt in to save his daughter only to drown himself. Julia firmly believes that Lily is still alive and convinces Lucas who sets out on his own mission to find the truth. That’s when the strangest things start happening at Nyth Bran and to the residents of Beddmawr…

Most of the chapters in the book are narrated in real time, but every so often the reader gets to hear from Lily before she went missing back in 2014. I thoroughly enjoyed these chapters and marvelled at how well Edwards managed to replicate an 8-year-old girls voice (I have a 7-year-old daughter myself so feel I’m fairly well qualified to comment!).

Would I recommend this book? I would. Read this and every single other book written by Mark Edwards as I can guarantee, you will not be disappointed. If you’re looking for a book to make you feel a little on edge, a book to take you to places you never imagined and to witness deeds you never foresaw, then give The Retreat a go. Such a compelling, well-written and accomplished book and one I devoured in just over 24 hours. Mark Edwards remains one of my very favourite authors and can’t seem to do anything wrong in my eyes.

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

The Retreat by Mark Edwards was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 10th May 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please be aware, the following links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |