#BookReview: The Women by S.E. Lynes @bookouture #TheWomen #damppebbles

the women

The night she moves in with Peter, she’s so happy, so exhilarated, so in love. Later, she will remember a much smaller feeling, a tiny one percent in her gut. And she will remember pushing that feeling aside…

Samantha Frayn doesn’t know why Peter Bridges picks her – a nobody with bitten fingernails and a troubled childhood behind her – but she falls quickly. He’s older, charming, likes fine wine and French films, and his beautiful home has real art on its walls.

Peter transforms Samantha’s life in an instant. He sees the better version of herself – the one she’s always wanted to be. It’s only normal that there’s a little friction, when she moves in, over domestic matters like where things are kept, or the proper times to eat, sleep and shower. She’s lucky to be with someone who can help her find a new job, move on from childish friends, and speak with greater sophistication.

But as Samantha notices, more and more, Peter’s temper, she starts to wonder if there might be consequences to breaking the rules of the world he has so quickly built around her.

And then she receives an anonymous note that makes her ask: is she the first woman to feel trapped by Peter? Is she being paranoid, manipulated, or could she be in danger?

You can tell the truth about your life, but someone needs to be listening. Someone needs to trust you. And someone needs to save you from the man you thought you loved.”

Oh I love S.E. Lynes’ writing. Bit of a fangirl moment for you! I’ve read nearly every book she’s written (bar one which is on my #15BooksofSummer list) and you can always guarantee it’s going to be brilliant and hard to put down. The Women is Susie’s latest book and was published by Bookouture on 22nd May. I received a free eARC of The Women but that has in no way influenced my review.

First thing I want to say about this book is I love the cover! If I weren’t already a huge S.E. Lynes fan then there’s a good chance I would be picking up The Women based purely on that brilliant blurb and the stunning cover. The book opens with Samantha and Peter (plus their baby, Emily) on their honeymoon in Rome. The opening is wonderfully tense and sets the scene perfectly. I was intrigued by what had gone before and I couldn’t wait to discover this couple’s story. And what a story it is.

The reader is then flung back in time to when Peter and Samantha first met. Professor Peter Bridges makes Samantha feel as though she’s the only woman in the world at a boring University party. He treats her with respect, listens intently to every word she says and makes her the centre of his universe. Samantha rapidly falls head over heels in love with Peter. He’s a class above the men (boys!) she usually meets with his expensive red wine, limitless supplies of cash, his elegant and sophisticated home and his sporty vintage midnight-blue Porsche. Before long Peter has suggested Samantha moves in with him, which she does leaving BBF and housemate, Marcia, on her own. Life is good for Samantha. Or is it?

What a great story this is with possibly one of the most unpleasant characters I have ever met in a novel. Peter is such a cliche and so utterly repulsive. Lynes has done an excellent job in making him so abhorrent – gah! He made my skin crawl, I was frequently cringing with how revolting he was. I was so desperate for sweet, trusting Samantha to see the light. To realise she was better than the life she was settling for, that not everything was how it seemed – not even to her – and for her to remove baby Emily from her obnoxious father’s influence.

It’s very difficult to say anything about this book without spoiling it for new readers. I will say, however, that the ending of this book was perfect. Had it ended any differently then I think I would have been disappointed. But Lynes has told her story with sensitivity (maybe not when it comes to Peter) and with wonderful little surprises along the way which made me despise ‘Peter the idiot’ even more.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. S.E. Lynes is a great writer and I urge you to read absolutely everything she has written (particularly Valentina). This is a beautifully written book with bucketloads of emotion. S.E. Lynes is a skilled and accomplished writer whose books I will return to again and again and again. Recommended.

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

The Women by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 22nd May 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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S E Lynes Author Photo

S E Lynes is the Amazon best selling author of psychological thrillers, VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT and THE PROPOSAL.

After graduating from Leeds University, Susie lived in London before moving to Aberdeen where she worked as a producer at the BBC before moving with her husband, Paul, and two young children to Rome.

In Rome, she began to write, snatching time where she could. 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, mentoring and lecturing. She has also published two children’s books in Italy.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

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#BookReview: Scrublands by Chris Hammer @Wildfirebks #Scrublands #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (1/15)

scrublands“In an isolated country town ravaged by drought, a charismatic young priest opens fire on his congregation, killing five men before being shot dead himself.

A year later, journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals don’t fit with the accepted version of events.

Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking discovery rocks the town. The bodies of two backpackers – missing since the time of the massacre – are found in the scrublands. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is the one in the spotlight.

Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to uncover a truth that becomes more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.”

Welcome to the blog today and to my review of my first #15BooksofSummer read for 2019 – Scrublands by Chris Hammer.  Scrublands was published by Wildfire Books in January 2019 and is the author’s debut.

As soon as I saw this book I knew I had to read it.  Scrublands called out to me.  Probably because the blurb and the cover ooze that small town isolation I love so much in my novels.  What I didn’t consider was the setting and I should have (particularly with a book called Scrublands).  I’ve read a number of Australian crime fiction novels in the past and the vast, unrelenting Australian landscape always plays a part.  How can it not? It’s something us Brits just can’t comprehend in some respects.  It’s a character in its own right.  The scrublands surrounding the small town of Riversend are as much a part of this story as Martin, our main character, is.

Journalist, Martin Scarsden, is sent by his editor to Riversend.  A dying Australian country town suffering from a prolonged drought whilst trying to recover after a devastating shooting a year ago.  The perpetrator of the attack was the local priest who, without explanation, callously took the lives of a number of local men.  No one claims to know why the priest opened fire.  Martin has been tasked with getting to know the townsfolk and find out how Riversend is coping one year on from the tragedy.  What becomes perfectly clear to Martin is that some of the residents may know more than they’re letting on.  When a second tragedy strikes and the bodies of two backpackers are found, fingers start pointing back to the priest and his unexplained act of violence one year ago.  Once again Riversend and Martin are thrown into the media spotlight.  But someone is determined to keep the town’s secrets.  No matter what…

This is a slow burn of a novel and I have to be completely honest and confess that at times I was desperate for the story to move on a little faster.  Saying that the slow pace did feel appropriate to the setting.  I don’t think I could move particularly fast in scorching heat without a drop of water either!  This is a complex story with many threads running off in different directions but I found it fairly easy to follow what was going on.

Martin Scarsden is an interesting character and one I didn’t warm to (I’m not sure the reader is supposed to like him though).  His suffering of PTSD which is discussed at several points throughout the book made him a lot more ‘human’ in my eyes.  He suffers from a recurring nightmare where he relives a traumatic incident which spanned a number of days.  Yet beats himself up emotionally for being so ‘weak’ when others have suffered a great deal more.  At other times his desire for a story overrode every interaction and relationship, so I appreciated these more introspective moments.

The writing is beautiful and I was able to picture the scenes Hammer describes quite clearly in my mind.  There is one scene in particular where a fire starts in the scrubland near a small number of houses, destroying everything in its path.  The claustrophobic and disorientating black smoke, the fierce heat of the flames and the terror described by the author are of a cinematic quality.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes.  A close-knit community with secrets they want to keep hidden.  A prying journalist in their midst ready to expose the truth no matter what the ramifications and an unsolved mystery at the very heart of it all.  Recommended.

Scrublands by Chris Hammer was published in the UK by Wildfire Books on 11th July 2019 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

15 books of summer

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chris hammer.jpgChris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs. For many years he was a roving foreign correspondent for SBS TV’s flagship current affairs program Dateline. He has reported from more than 30 countries on six continents. In Canberra, roles included chief political correspondent for The Bulletin, current affairs correspondent for SBS TV and a senior political journalist for The Age.

His first book, The River, published in 2010 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the ACT Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Walkley Book Award and the Manning Clark House National Cultural Award.

Chris has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a master’s degree in international relations from the Australian National University. He lives in Canberra with his wife, Dr Tomoko Akami. The couple have two children.

Author Links:Facebook |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dead Inside by Noelle Holten @KillerReads #DeadInside #damppebbles

46902123_2290495507850861_1185184031919046656_nThe killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Dead Inside blog tour.  Dead Inside is one of my most eagerly anticipated books of 2019.  Partly due to the fact the blurb sounds brilliant and partly due to the fact that the author is the fabulous Noelle Holten of CrimeBookJunkie.  I received a free eARC of Dead Inside via NetGalley but that has in no way influenced my review.

Dead Inside is the first book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series set in Staffordshire, and Noelle Holten’s debut.  From the harrowing prologue to the books big reveal, I was on the edge of my seat.  What shines from the pages is the author’s knowledge of her subject matter having worked as a senior probation officer for many years.  I’m guessing that Noelle has probably seen it all!  I also found the probation aspects of the storyline absolutely fascinating as I can’t bring to mind another crime novel that focusses so strongly on this particular part of the criminal justice system.

Following a particularly difficult case involving the apprehension of a serial killer, DC Maggie Jamieson is temporarily transferred to the new Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit (DAHU).  Not long into her first shift she and her colleagues are called to investigate a murder.  The victim is a known offender with a history of violence towards his partners.  The attack seems personal and all avenues need to be investigated so PC Mark Fielding gets in touch with probation officer, Lucy Sherwood.  As the story progressed I found myself focussing less on the police team and more on Lucy.  Lucy lives a double life.  By day she’s a kick-ass probation officer staring down the most hardened criminals.  By night she returns home to her vile, abusive husband who torments her physically and emotionally.  My heart broke for the character.  Trapped because she had convinced herself that staying in the relationship would be the best thing for her husband’s young daughter.  This may be the first book in the DC Maggie Jamieson series but Maggie isn’t in the spotlight here.  It’s all about Lucy, just as it should be.

The other characters in the book are a good mix of people you warm to and people you instantly loathe (it’s really not hard to loathe the abusers in this book!).  I did struggle a little at times with the characters names as the author has used the names of several book bloggers, people I know in ‘real life’.  I found it difficult to picture the character without seeing the ‘real life’ person.  Holten isn’t the first person to do this – it happens a lot – but the number of names used is far greater in Dead Inside.  I felt I had to try a little harder to visualise someone different in my mind.

The big reveal was a complete shock and one I really didn’t expect.  But I loved it!  It felt so satisfying.  The way the situation was also dealt with by the characters involved was also brilliant.  I loved the total lack of shame or reproach – wonderful stuff!  I was able to guess where another of the big storylines was going but I thoroughly enjoyed the way it played out and knowing what was coming didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, yes.  It’s a great start to what promises to be an exciting new series written by an exciting new talent in crime fiction.  The ending of Dead Inside is set up beautifully for book two in the series and I’m already very intrigued.  I can’t wait to get my mitts on a copy.  A compelling read with some fascinating characters at its heart.  Emotional, raw and a complete page-turner.  Recommended.

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

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 31st May 2019 and is available in eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow in August (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

#DeadInside B L O G T O U R

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screenshot-2018-12-03-at-13-14-311Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside is her debut novel with Killer Reads/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Author Links: FacebookTwitterBlogInstagram |

 

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Innocent Ones by Neil White @HeraBooks #TheInnocentOnes #damppebbles

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“Three lives cut short. Two decades of silence. One evil secret.

By day, the park rings with the sound of children’s excited laughter. But in the early hours of the morning, the isolated playground is cloaked in shadows – the perfect hiding place to conceal a brutal murder.

When London journalist, Mark Roberts, is found battered to death, the police quickly arrest petty thief, Nick Connor. Criminal defence lawyer, Dan Grant, along with investigator Jayne Brett, are called to represent him – but with bloody footprints and a stolen wallet linking him to the scene, this is one case they’re unlikely to win.

Until help comes from an unlikely source…when the murder victim’s mother says that Connor is innocent, begging Dan and Jayne to find the real perpetrator.

Unravelling the complex case means finding the connection between Mark’s death and a series of child murders in Yorkshire over twenty years ago. Father of two, Rodney Walker, has spent years in prison after being convicted of killing of 6-year-old William and 7-year-old Ruby back in 1997.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on The Innocent Ones blog tour. The Innocent Ones was published by Hera Books on 24th April and is the third book in the Dan Grant and Jayne Brett series written by Neil White. This, however, is the first book in this particular series that I have read (not the first book I’ve read by this author, mind you) and it works perfectly well as a standalone. I was given an eARC of The Innocent Ones but this has in no way influenced my review.

When I first agreed to take part in this blog tour there were two things I wasn’t aware of. Number one; it’s the third book in the series but as I mentioned up there ⬆️⬆️, that really wasn’t a problem and I enjoyed it as a standalone.  The second thing; I wasn’t aware it was a legal-esque type thriller. Which is daft really as I know author Neil White is a qualified lawyer and it goes to prove that I don’t always read the blurb too carefully (plus I’ve read other books by White and they’ve been more along the lines of a police procedural).  Again, not a problem for me as I LOVE a legal thriller.

I guess what I’m saying is apart from having read and enjoyed a few other books by White many moons ago, I started The Innocent Ones with no preconceived ideas (just my usual high expectations, lol!).  And I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It’s was surprising, gripping and beautifully dark.  According to the author’s notes at the end of the novel this is the third and final book in the series, which is a shame.  At least I can console myself by reading the first two books in the trilogy.

Defence lawyer, Dan Grant, is tasked with defending low-life local scum, Nick Connor.  But instead of Connor’s usual petty misdemeanours, this time the charge is murder.  Journalist Mark Roberts was found bludgeoned to death in the local park and left to die in a congealing pool of blood.  Despite some pretty damning evidence to the contrary, Nick claims he’s innocent.  It’s a big step though, from theft to murder, and Dan is convinced Connor didn’t do it.  Helped by the fact Dan is approached by the mother of the victim who says she believes the wrong man is on trial and she wants Dan and his investigator, Jayne, to find the real killer.  It’s not long before Dan and Jayne are digging up a cold case from 20 years ago, upsetting the residents of a small Yorkshire town and discovering that not everything is as it first seems…

I loved Dan and Jayne.  What a team!  There’s obviously a fair bit of backstory behind Jayne’s past which is one of the reasons I want to read the first two books in this trilogy.  Not knowing the ins and outs didn’t hamper my enjoyment though – the author provides new readers with a good overview.  I loved the setting too.  I love small town American mysteries and sometimes find their British counterparts can’t really compare.  That’s not the case with The Innocent Ones.  I loved the claustrophobia of the two towns, the secrets hidden within the small communities.

Would I recommend this book? I most certainly would.  When I was doing ‘real life’ I was thinking about the plot and characters, wanting to get back to the story and find out what was going to happen next.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Dan and Jayne and I look forward to making a start on the first book in the trilogy soon.

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

The Innocent Ones by Neil White was published in the UK by Hera Books on 24th April 2019 and is available in eBook format (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comGoogleBooksGoodreads |

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neil white.jpgNeil White was born and brought up around South Yorkshire. He left school at sixteen but studied for a law degree in his twenties, then started writing in 1994. He is now a lawyer by day, crime fiction writer by night. He lives with his wife and three children in Preston.

Author Links:TwitterWebsiteFacebookInstagram |

#BookReview: Purged by Peter Laws @AllisonandBusby #Purged

purged“Matt Hunter lost his faith a long time ago. Formerly a minister, he’s now a professor of sociology writing a book that debunks the Christian faith while assisting the police with religiously motivated crimes.

On holiday in an idyllic part of Oxfordshire where wooden crosses hang at every turn, Matt’s stay becomes sinister when a local girl goes missing, followed by further disappearances. Caught up in an investigation that brings disturbing memories to the surface, Matt is on the trail of a killer who is determined to save us all.”

There are several people in the book world whose opinions I completely trust.  If they say ‘read this book’ then that is exactly what I will do.  The fabulous Liz of Liz Loves Books recommended this one to me so I treated myself and purchased a copy.  Purged is the first book in the Matt Hunter series written by Peter Laws and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Matt Hunter is a very interesting character.  He trained as a minister, initially choosing to dedicate his life to God and his beliefs.  Only for those beliefs to vanish.  Now a professor of sociology and slogging his guts out on a book which won’t write itself, he heads with his family to a quaint Oxfordshire village for a break.  The destination isn’t chosen at random though and whilst there Matt’s wife, Wren (an architect), is to come up with plans to renovate the Hobbs Hill church.  What the couple don’t realise initially is exactly how important the church is to the Hobbs Hill locals.  Arriving at their picturesque cottage they notice a number of wooden crosses dotted about the place.  The biggest surprise is yet to come though in the form of local Pastor, Chris Kelly.  A face Matt recognises all too well.  When local women start to disappear Matt unwittingly becomes involved in the investigation.  Will he be able to work out what’s happening to the women before the killer strikes too close to home…?

This is a wonderful slow-burn of a novel that I kept wanting to return to.  It opens with a terrifying scene that sets the tone for the book from start to finish.  The reader discovers that Matt has experienced horrors in his own past and these are skillfully drip-fed to the reader as the book progresses, making sure you keep turning those pages.  As much as I loved Matt I felt the total opposite about Pastor Chris, who came across as self-absorbed, frustratingly ignorant and quite creepy.  The other thing I absolutely loved was the small, isolated (slightly creepy) community feel of the setting.  The fact that the fictional village is set in Oxfordshire just added to the enjoyment for me.

Would I recommend this book? I would and I will be making a point of downloading the second and third books in the series as well.  I need me more Matt!  The author’s love of the horror genre shines through and although I would label Purged as a crime thriller it does have a nod or two to the horror genre as well.  You can’t go wrong with a horror-esque crime thriller in my book!  As debuts go, it’s a cracker of a book.  A well-written, creepy page-turner that I heartily recommend.  Thanks Liz for putting Purged on my radar!

Purged by Peter Laws was published in the UK by Allison & Busby on 16th February 2017 and is available in paperback, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

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peter laws.jpgPeter Laws is an author, journalist, film critic and YouTube horror host. He’s also a church minister with a taste for the macabre. He’s the creator of the acclaimed Matt Hunter series of horror tinged crime thrillers. Hunter is an ex-vicar turned atheist academic, who helps the police solve religiously motivated crimes. The first in the series, ‘Purged’, had Matt on the trail of a Christian serial killer, who fast tracks his victims to heaven by baptising them, then killing straight after. The sequel, ‘Unleashed’, pulls Matt into a world of poltergeists and the supernatural, though he insists a flesh and blood killer is at work. Unleashed won ‘Thriller of the Year’ in the Fully Booked awards for 2017. In the third Matt Hunter novel, ‘Severed’, Matt has to contend with a bizarre pseudo Christian cult.

He’s also the author of the acclaimed non-fiction book The Frighteners: Why We Love Monsters Ghosts Death and Gore. It’s available from Icon Books in the UK and Skyhorse in the US.

He writes a monthly column in the print magazine The Fortean Times and hosts the popular podcast and YouTube show The Flicks That Church Forgot which reviews scary films from a theological perspective. He also does quirky cover versions of obscure horror songs on there, so why not drop by. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgZZklJNcUEZplFDboNho6g

Author Links:FacebookTwitterInstagram |

#BookReview: Watching Edie by Camilla Way @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #WatchingEdie

watching edie.jpg“THERE ARE SOME FRIENDS YOU’LL NEVER FORGET…
NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY

BEFORE
Edie is the friend that Heather has always craved. But one night, it goes terrifyingly wrong. And what started as an innocent friendship ends in two lives being destroyed.

AFTER
Sixteen years later, Edie is still rebuilding her life. But Heather isn’t ready to let her forget so easily. It’s no coincidence that she shows up when Edie needs her most.

NOW
Edie or Heather?
Heather or Edie?

Someone has to pay for what happened, but who will it be?”

I remember when this book was first published and how much love there was for it.  It was one of those books where everyone was talking about it.  I was even asked by a few blogger friends if I had read it.  The answer of course was I hadn’t but oh boy, did I want to!  I received a free copy of Watching Edie from the publisher which has in no way influenced my review.

Watching Edie is a tale of friendship and obsession which I found totally riveting.  Edie was one of the popular girls at school; beautiful, rebellious and everything Heather wanted to be.  So imagine Heather’s surprise when Edie starts talking to her.  After all, Heather doesn’t consider herself to be special in any way.  The girls strike up a friendship which is probably a little more one-sided than it should be.  But something terrible happens and the girls part ways under a dark cloud.  Several years later Edie is still trying to quieten the demons from her past so when someone knocks on her door the last person she expects it to be is Heather.  Heather seems to have not changed, does not mention their past and is keen to revive their childhood friendship.  But Edie is wary.  Something just doesn’t feel right and she would prefer to avoid Heather, and memories of their past, at all costs…

This is a great story and I enjoyed reading Watching Edie.  I found myself taking sides (which probably makes me a terrible person) and I wanted Heather to just leave Edie alone and just let her get on with her life.  The reader doesn’t discover until near the end of the book what catastrophic thing happened to the characters and the cause of Edie’s shock at seeing Heather again.  The build-up to the reveal is done so very well with a palpable sense of unease from the start of the book to the end.  My mind was creating all kinds of scenarios and I frequently asked myself what could have happened to these two characters.  By the end, I was absolutely kicking myself.

The story is told in ‘Before’ and ‘After’ chapters.  It was interesting how we only hear from Heather in the ‘Before’ and Edie in the ‘After’ chapters giving the reader a great insight into both of these characters lives, thoughts and feelings.  Heather’s obsession with Edie made my skin crawl at times but I guess many of us can relate to that.  Wanting the popular girls in school to be our friends, to be accepted (or maybe that’s just me!).  Despite not liking Heather I really did sympathise with her after I had met her mother.  What a horrible woman!

Would I recommend this book?  I would, particularly if you like a character-driven psychological thriller.  There are characters to love and hate in this novel.  The ending was shocking and I’m glad the author took the story in the direction she did.  It’s a compelling read and I will make a point of reading more from Camilla Way in the future.

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

Watching Edie by Camilla Way was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 6th April 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

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camilla way.jpgCamilla Way was born in Greenwich, south-east London, and studied Modern English and French Literature at the University of Glamorgan. Her father was the poet and author Peter Way. Formerly Associate Editor of the teenage girls’ magazine Bliss, she is currently an editor and writer on the men’s style magazine Arena. Having lived in Cardiff, Bristol, Bath and Clerkenwell, she now lives in south-east London.

Author Links: Twitter|

#BookReview | Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella @TitanBooks #Halloween

halloween.jpg

“The official novelization of the highly anticipated revamp of the classic horror film Halloween.

In 1978, Laurie Strode survived an encounter with Michael Myers, a masked figure who killed her friends and terrorized the town of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night. Myers was later gunned down, apprehended and committed to Smith’s Grove State Hospital.

For forty years, memories of that nightmarish ordeal have haunted Laurie and now Myers is back once again on Halloween, having escaped a routine transfer, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. This time, Laurie is prepared with years of survival training to protect herself, her daughter Karen and her granddaughter Allyson, a teenager separated from her family and enjoying Halloween festivities.”

Woohooo! I love a horror novel. Particularly when I’m in a bit of a reading slump which I have been of late. The folk at Titan Books contacted me about reading a copy of Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella and I jumped at the chance. This is the movie novelisation of the most recent Halloween film released last year and it was a joy to read (a scary nail-biting, nerve-shredding joy!)! I received a free copy of this book but that has in no way influenced my review.

So I have a confession to make. This is bound to lose me a few followers but hey, honesty is the best policy….right? I have never seen any of the Halloween films. I’m going to take this a step further now and make matters even worse. I don’t actually watch horror films because I’m a wimp. I get my horror kicks from the brilliant horror novels I read. Shall I get my coat? 😂 What I do know however is that the Halloween franchise is incredibly popular and Michael Myers is as scary AF! I also have a bit of a thing for ‘final girls’ and Laurie Strode is the ultimate final girl. Am I right? And that’s what I loved about this book, the focus on Laurie and the long-term effects of that terrifying first meeting with Myers back in 1978.

Forty years have passed since that fateful first meeting and Laurie Strode is now a grandmother. Not your average, warm and squishy, ‘run-of-the-mill’ grandmother though. She has lived her life preparing for the day Myers will return. Her family think she’s crazy as the knife-wielding maniac who attacked her all those years ago is safely locked away in a high-security establishment. But Laurie knows it’s not over…

It was fascinating to read about Laurie’s life (or rather, the lack of it). How she has built her own high-security fortress, in particular how affected her daughter Karen was by her strange upbringing and how, as a result, Karen is determined to raise her own daughter, Allyson, differently. But Laurie knows not to let her guard down. It’s only a matter of time before Myers strikes again and this time she has a family to protect as well.

Halloween is full-on, incredibly tense and there is always something happening. I loved how the author was able to to make me feel on edge and nervous about what Myers was up to even when he didn’t feature in the scene. I had a constant sense of impending doom, just waiting for something bad (really BAD!) to happen and I loved it!

Would I recommend this book? I would! It’s gory and gruesome but that should come as no surprise. I have read other horror movie novelisations (without seeing the movie, obviously!) and this is one of my favourites. I was on edge throughout and was disappointed that the book had to end. Terrifying, intense and oh so good.

I chose to read and review a copy of Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Halloween: The Official Movie Novelization by John Passarella was published in the UK by Titan Books on 23rd October 2018 and is available in paperback, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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I am a married father of three, and reside in Logan Township, New Jersey. Currently, I write full-time (that is, when I’m not working on business, my website design and author promotion business, AuthorPromo.com). While I enjoy writing in the genres of dark fantasy, supernatural thrillers, horror, science fiction, fantasy and mystery, I have been concentrating on horror and supernatural stories in recent years.

The co-authored Wither was my first published novel. Columbia Pictures purchased the film rights to Wither in a preemptive, pre-publication bid. Wither won the Bram Stoker Award in 2000 for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. I followed Wither with the media tie-ins Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ghoul Trouble (2000) and Angel: Avatar (2001).

Next came my stand-alone sequel to Wither, Wither’s Rain (2003). In 2004, I had two novels published, Angel: Monolith and Wither’s Legacy and two standalone novels, Kindred Spirit (2006) and Shimmer(2009), available from Amazon.com and the Passarella Author Store.

I’ve written three original Supernatural (CW) tie-in novels for Titan Books, Night Terror (2011), Rite of Passage (2012), and—my most recent novelSupernatural: Cold Fire (2016), which was preceded by a Grimm tie-in: Grimm: The Chopping Block (2014), based on the hit NBC TV series.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

Author Image and Bio Copyright © John Passarella

#BookReview: Perfect Bones by A.J. Waines #PerfectBones #SamanthaWillerby

perfect bones.jpg“Is the killer on the loose…or standing right beside you?

When art student, Aiden Blake, witnesses a gruesome attack on a London towpath, the police need him to identify the assailant without delay. But there’s a problem: refusing to leave his canal boat and traumatised by the shock, Aiden is rendered mute by the horror of the event and can’t speak to anyone.

In a desperate bid to gain vital information before Aiden’s memories fade, The Met call in Clinical Psychologist and trauma expert, Dr Samantha Willerby, giving her only seven days to get a result. When Aiden finally starts to communicate through his art, however, the images he produces are not what anyone expects and before Sam can make sense of them, another murder takes place.

With her professional skills stretched to the limit and the clock ticking, Sam strives to track down a killer who is as clever as she is – someone who always manages to stay one step ahead.”

I am a huge fan of A.J. Waines’ writing and her Dr Samantha Willerby series is one I return to again and again.  When I heard book three, Perfect Bones, was on it’s way to us readers I knew I had to read it.  I received a free eARC copy of this book from the publisher which has in no way influenced my review.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Waines’ Samantha Willerby series then you need to change that and soon.  Perfect Bones is the third book in the series and you can read my reviews of book one, Inside the Whispers, and book two, Lost in the Lake, by clicking the links.  I couldn’t wait to be reacquainted with Clinical Psychologist, Samantha, and her sister, Miranda.

Samantha and Miranda are due to leave for the airport for a much-needed holiday and some much-needed sisterly bonding when Samantha is contacted by the Met to help on an unusual case.  A young woman cycling along a towpath has been very nearly decapitated and is fighting for her life.  There was one witness to the attack, a young artist named Aiden Blake.  Aiden is so traumatised by what he saw he has become mute.  Can Samantha use her knowledge and therapies to help Aiden converse with the police and find the cold-hearted killer? Or is Samantha putting herself at risk and living with a killer….?

I love Samantha.  She’s such a well-rounded character and she absolutely shines from the page. Waines’ own experience as a psychotherapist adds another layer of interest to her Willerby books and Perfect Bones is a great example of this.  And what a subject she has chosen for Perfect Bones!  How can Aiden help the investigation when he is unable to talk? Samantha’s struggles and frustration in trying to understand what Aiden is telling her (through his art) was a total page-turner for me.  The added pressure from her police colleagues to get an answer before the end of the week makes Perfect Bones a tense read.

Perfect Bones is another meticulously planned slow-burn of a book and it’s a great addition to this wonderful series.  The fast-paced ending and final reveal were brilliant (particularly as this was a book where I wasn’t able to guess ‘whodunit’).

Would I recommend this book? I would but I suggest you read the first two books in the series first.  Samantha has a rather complicated relationship with her sister, Miranda, and I think going straight into book three means you miss out on much of their backstory.  The author does give new readers a good idea of what’s gone before but they are great books and worth the investment.  A fascinating book with lots of lovely suspense and a mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed trying to solve.  I can’t wait for book 4!

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

Perfect Bones by A.J. Waines was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 8th November 2018 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

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WainesAJ6 (1)AJ Waines is a number one bestselling author, topping the entire UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years, with Girl on a Train.

Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, the author now writes psychological thrillers and murder mysteries full-time, with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and Canada (audio books). In January 2019, she signed a new UK two-book deal with Bloodhound Books.

AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and been ranked a Top 10 UK Author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

The author lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. More on AJ’s psychology background here.

Author Links:WebsiteFacebookTwitter |

Author bio © https://sites.google.com/a/awaines.co.uk/aj-waines-crime-fiction-writer/

#BookReview: Creature by Hunter Shea @flametreepress #Creature

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“The monsters live inside of Kate Woodson. Chronic pain and a host of autoimmune diseases have robbed her of a normal, happy life. Her husband Andrew’s surprise of their dream Maine lake cottage for the summer is the gift of a lifetime. It’s beautiful, remote, idyllic, a place to heal.

But they are not alone. Something is in the woods, screeching in the darkness, banging on the house, leaving animals for dead.

Just like her body, Kate’s cottage becomes her prison. She and Andrew must fight to survive the creature that lurks in the dead of night.”

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time you will know that primarily I am a crime fiction blogger. However, when my reading mojo deserts me I turn to the horror genre to kickstart it. Creature by Hunter Shea was one of the first books I turned to when that happened at the end of last year. I had seen some cracking reviews and I wanted to see for myself what the book was all about. I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher but that has in no way influenced my review.

Creature was like nothing else I’ve read in the horror genre before. Yes, this is horror fiction but in a different unexpected way. It’s also a very important love story which ultimately broke my heart. Packed with raw emotion and bucketloads of feeling this book is one we should all read – whether you regularly read horror novels or not. Having finished the book it also became blatantly clear what a personal book this is to the author.

Kate and Andrew are very much in love but Kate is terribly ill suffering from a number of chronic debilitating autoimmune diseases. Knowing that the future isn’t looking too bright Andrew books a three-month break taking Kate from the four walls which imprison her on a daily basis to the peace and tranquillity of a lake-side cabin in Maine’s vast woodlands. What starts out as a dream come true for the couple soon turns into a nightmare. The four walls of their home are quickly replaced by another prison, but this one is altogether more terrifying than they could have ever imagined.

I instantly liked both Kate and Andrew. I admired Kate’s determination to do as much as she could for herself but really felt for Andrew when that determination manifested itself in Kate damaging herself even more. This a slow burn of a read and Shea spends significant time at the start of the book ensuring the reader knows what a struggle life is for this couple. I appreciated that as when the horrors start you feel totally invested in Kate and Andrew. The only other character I should mention at this point is Kate’s dog, Buttons, who is just gorgeous! His dedication to Kate shines through, no matter what.

This is a horror novel though and a horror novel wouldn’t be so without something scary. And oh boy, this is a BIG scary. The writing is tense, taut and descriptive and I found myself holding my breath at certain parts. It’s a little on the gory and gruesome side but you’d be surprised if it wasn’t, right? What I love about Creature is what exactly Shea has achieved here. This is a carefully thought out and well-planned plot and one which I admire greatly. I can’t really say any more without giving away a few spoilers but this book made me want to punch the air with my fist and shout ‘YES!’.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s something completely different to everything else I’ve read in the horror genre, and I expect if I were to read another of Mr Shea’s books that would still be the case. Deeply emotional, totally unexpected and honest. If you don’t tend to read books in the horror genre but have always been intrigued then I suggest you start with this one. A heartbreaking love story and a tale of how chronic illness can tear peoples lives apart.

I chose to read and review Creature. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Creature by Hunter Shea was published in the UK by Flame Tree Press on 6th September 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you):
| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of over 13 (lucky number!) books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Author photo and bio © https://huntershea.com/

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Without Rules by Andrew Field (@AFwithoutrules) @cobaltdinosaur #WithoutRules

Without Rules cover.jpg“When a professional hitman turns up at Candy’s World to hide, China Mackie discovers her plan to flee from her abusive father has tragically backfired.

A gruesome bloodbath has left four people dead on the streets of a northern city centre on a cold wet Sunday morning.

China knows she’s next to die.

Unless she is more ruthless than everyone else.

She must improvise fast. Seduce her father’s assassin. Plead her case so he helps her escape in a fight to the death where rules don’t matter but the consequences do.”

It is my pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and my guest reviewer’s stop on the Without Rules blog blitz.  My guest reviewer, should you not be familiar with him, is my dear husband Ryan.  Having been a passionate reader when we first met, Ryan is a reluctant reader these days.  So I try and reignite his love of literature by encouraging him to occasionally guest review on the blog.  What sickens me is that he’s actually better at review writing than me! (Not reading, mind.  I am the MASTER of the house at reading!) I’m not here really, a mere figment of your imagination.  It’s all about Ryan and what he thought of Without Rules by Andrew Field…

Sometimes I don’t want to read….Now I admit that is not a usual way to start a book review and Mr Field is probably slightly worried!  But after a day of work, playing with the kids and sorting out a few things in the house I don’t really want to sit down and concentrate on a book.  Without Rules by Andrew Field is probably exactly what I have been needing on evenings like this.  A fast-paced story which sharply cuts between scenes and a story being told from multiple character viewpoints.  This is a story that sucks you in and washes over you without any undue effort from the reader.

Without Rules is unusual for me in that I didn’t really like any of the characters, there was little of your classic all good all action hero, rather we had characters with back stories which became clear throughout the story moving between hero, anti-hero and anti-anti-hero (is that a thing?).  The books main characters Jak and China are thrown together through circumstance at the start of the book, both have motives that are unclear at that stage but as the book develops we see the story unfold for both of them.  Scenes through their own eyes, as well as those of the police and others around them bring multiple story lines together as the story moves along and both have to make decisions that will yield consequences for many.

I would love to read short stories by Andrew Field as he is not afraid to take a character in an unexpected direction at a paragraphs notice. He cleverly moves your feelings towards the characters through the situations they find themselves in and your evolving understanding of their history.  Is it realistic?  Not overly but it has that Jack Reacher style adventure and exuberance to it that makes you go with it and enjoy the ride.   As the blurb says this storle y is not about rules, only consequences!

Would I recommend this book?  I would, this was everything it should be fun, absorbing with an interesting cast of characters who will continually surprise you!

4 stars

Told you. Better at writing reviews than me.  This review really makes me want to read Without Rules!

Without Rules by Andrew Field was published in the UK by Boomslang on 15th October 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Goodreads |

without rules

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Andrew Field new photo.jpgAndrew Field has spent most of his working life as a PR and marketing consultant helping raise the profiles of others. Now the roles are reversed as he steps into the spotlight as the author of Without Rules, a crime thriller about vulnerable people forced to do bad things to escape evil people. “Authors, by the nature of what they do, are relatively introverted. They work in isolation. Inhabit imaginary worlds of their own creation. They can spend ages staring at a computer screen bringing their characters to life. Then they have to become a different person to promote their work and market themselves. Writing is the easy part compared to the marketing, especially when crime fiction has become a very crowded marketplace.”

“From my point of view, professional PR people operate best from behind the scenes. They should never become the story otherwise you’re deflecting attention away from the messages you’re trying to communicate,” says Andrew. “The New Labour experiment, for example, was doomed the minute Tony Blair’s media guru Alistair Campbell generated his own headlines. Bragged about ‘spin’.  Believed his own hype. Ditto Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci’s 10-day tenure as the shortest-serving White House communications director in history – and his “off the record” expletive-ridden rant about his colleagues in Donald Trump’s White House.”

As a PR, Andrew memorably handled Boddingtons Bitter during its “Cream of Manchester” heyday, developing innovative sports and cultural media partnerships with newspapers and TV stations for the beer brand – but also PR’d a fashion entrepreneur who was a convicted armed bank robber and a property developer who did eighteen months prison time for blackmail. “Having a diverse range of clients keeps it interesting. They are all different but the core requirement is to be seen as a believable and trusted information source ready to take advantage of PR opportunities as and when they arise. As a novelist, you look to do exactly the same with your work and yourself.”

“The catalyst for Without Rules was a friend testifying against her father in an abuse case. Although the prosecution was successful, she can never really escape the consequences of what happened to her. She has to find a way of coping for the rest of her life while he was sentenced to two and half years.”

Andrew says crime fiction has a duty to try and educate and as well as entertain. “The memorable books are the ones you’re still thinking about 48-hours after you finished reading.”

Andrew lives, works and plays in Manchester, England, Europe, with his partner, Catherine. He has been a trade journalist in Southampton in his youth. He owned a PR agency in the nineties and early noughties and is now an independent PR, marketing and publishing consultant looking forward to the challenge of becoming the story with the publication of Without Rules.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram | Andrew Field Online Book Shop |