#BookReview: Innocent or Guilty? by A.M. Taylor @0neMoreChapter_ #InnocentOrGuilty #damppebbles

innocent or guilty“Is the right person behind bars?

One morning ten years ago, the town of Twin Rivers changed forever when the body of Tyler Washington was found in the woods. Son of the mayor, star of the high school basketball team – his death struck right at the heart of this tight-knit community.

For Olivia Hall, Tyler’s death heralded the start of her own personal nightmare – her twin brother, Ethan, was arrested for Tyler’s murder. Ten years later, Ethan is still in jail. Olivia is convinced he is innocent, and now, a true crime podcast has taken up his case.

As the podcast digs deeper, secrets, lies and shocking revelations are all uncovered. For the first time, Olivia dares to hope that Ethan may be set free. But if he didn’t kill Tyler, who did? And how far will they go to keep their secrets safe?

Perfect for fans of podcasts Serial, Happy Face and The Teacher’s Pet, and TV shows Making a Murderer, Staircase and Dirty John”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Innocent or Guilty? by A.M. Taylor. Innocent or Guilty? was published by One More Chapter on 12th December 2019 and is available in paperback and digital formats. I received a free eARC of Innocent or Guilty? but that has in no way influenced my review.

I do not listen to podcasts (I also don’t listen to audiobooks – I’ve never really managed to get to grips with them). But I love books which feature a true crime podcast at their heart. Sitting here, thinking about the concept, a few favourites immediately spring to mind. Well budge over, favourites, and make some room for Innocent or Guilty? by A.M. Taylor. There’s something very memorable about this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Olivia and Ethan Hall are twins on the brink of starting their college careers when tragedy strikes, rocking the small town of Twin Rivers. A local teenager, Tyler Washington, is murdered. The sudden death of the town’s golden boy hits everyone hard. But when Ethan Hall, Olivia’s unpopular brother, is arrested for the murder, it turns Olivia’s world completely on its head. Ten years later Olivia is a lawyer and Ethan is still in jail. But she’s determined to prove her brother’s innocence, one way or another. So when the producers of a true-crime podcast come knocking, despite her reservations, Olivia decides to take part and revisit the past. But if Ethan is innocent, the question remains, who REALLY killed Tyler Washington…?

Innocent or Guilty? is told in the past, the present and with brilliant snippets of the podcast, which felt so real to me. With the chapters set 10 years ago, the author beautifully builds the characters’ stories, layer by layer, adding more depth as the story progresses. Giving the reader a clear view of the politics and pressures of life in Twin Rivers in the run-up to Tyler’s murder. I really enjoyed the flashback chapters and getting a glimpse into Olivia and Ethan’s past. The present-day chapters are told mainly from Olivia’s perspective and focus on digging for clues to help free her brother. Working with Kat and Ray, the podcast producers, they come up against many brick walls as the residents of Twin Rivers fight to keep the past buried in the past.

Packed to the brim with secrets and deceit, this is one edge of your seat read which I found hard to put down. The author has created a number of well-written peaks and troughs throughout the book, which kept me turning the pages at a steady pace. After finishing Innocent or Guilty?, I immediately purchased Taylor’s debut, Forget Me Not, which I’m really looking forward to reading.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Innocent or Guilty? is a compelling mystery set in small-town America with a modern twist, and I devoured it. Being Mrs Suspicious, I was able to guess what the big twist was going to be from fairly early on in the book, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment one jot! There were plenty of other surprises along the way to keep me on my toes. I am looking forward to reading more from A.M. Taylor. Recommended.

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

Innocent or Guilty? was published in the UK by One More Chapter on 12th December 2019 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, 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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

Headshot3

Annie May Taylor lives and writes in London. When not making up stories, she writes copy for a living and can most often be found drinking coffee, watching Netflix, and trying to keep up with a never ending TBR pile. She’s been obsessed with mysteries ever since Nancy Drew first walked into her life and would probably have attempted to become a private detective at some point, if only it didn’t involve actually having to talk to people. She has a cat called Domino, ambitions of owning a dog one day, and is as obsessed with My Favorite Murder as you probably are. Writing as A.M. Taylor, her debut psychological thriller Forget Me Not was released by Killer Reads/Harper Collins in October 2018.

#BookReview: Malorie by Josh Malerman @orionbooks #Malorie #damppebbles

malorieIn the old world there were many rules.
In the new world there is only one: don’t open your eyes.

In the seventeen years since the ‘creatures’ appeared, many people have broken that rule. Many have looked. Many have lost their minds, their lives, their loved ones.

In that time, Malorie has raised her two children – Olympia and Tom – on the run or in hiding. Now nearly teenagers, survival is no longer enough. They want freedom.

When a census-taker stops by their refuge, he is not welcome. But he leaves a list of names – of survivors building a future beyond the darkness – and on that list are two names Malorie knows.

Two names for whom she’ll break every rule, and take her children across the wilderness, in the hope of becoming a family again…”

Hello and a very warm bookish welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year with you, Malorie by Josh Malerman. Malorie was published in hardcover, audio and digital formats by Orion Books on 21st July 2020. I received a free eARC of Malorie but that has in no way influenced my review.

Malorie is the sequel to the astonishingly good Bird Box which I read last year. I loved Bird Box. Actually, I more than loved it and it’s the proud holder of the title ‘Emma’s biggest book hangover’. Nothing else on my TBR could even begin to compete with Bird Box for weeks and weeks after. If you haven’t read it, that REALLY needs to change. Which is why I was so excited about reading Malorie.

Having survived the creatures terrifying arrival, and the dawning of a brand new, frightening world, Malorie is still doing everything in her power to make sure she and her two children – Tom and Olympia – remain safe, sane and alive. They’ve followed the rules for 17 long, arduous years and survived when many others haven’t. All because of Malorie; her fear and her paranoia. But the children are teenagers now and Tom, in particular, wants to spread his wings. No teenager, no matter what terrifying world they live in, wants to listen to their mother! So when a stranger turns up at their door with news of the creatures and tales of other people’s experiences, people who lived to tell someone else their story, Tom is all ears. Malorie’s fear drives the stranger away but he leaves behind some papers. Papers which will change everything for Malorie and her children…

Before I go any further, I need to stick my neck out and say I don’t think this book will work as a standalone. I think you need to have read Bird Box, or at least watched the Netflix series (which I admit, I haven’t seen myself), before reading Malorie. Both books are set in a very different world and Bird Box gives you the base you need to enjoy and fully understand the reasons and actions of Malorie in this latest instalment. The reader really needs to understand the character and her motivations to grasp the full impact of this novel.

Before picking up this book and reading the blurb, I was nervous to find out where the author was going to take the story. Malorie and her young children were put through hell on earth in Bird Box, and then some! So I was quite relieved to find out the story had moved on a number of years and both children are now in their mid-teens with their own thoughts, feelings and fears. And although I don’t expect life in the ‘new world’ will ever be the norm (for those who were born before the creatures arrival, anyway), there is more of an understanding and acceptance of the situation. People are still opening their eyes and looking at the creatures. People are still going mad. People are still violently destroying their friends and family as a result. The creatures cannot be beaten. They are not going away. They have to be lived with, like it or not. But the characters have adjusted and I found that fascinating.

I’ve mentioned about ten times already in this review how much I love Bird Box. But Malorie felt a very different book. Did I enjoy Malorie as much as Bird Box? No, but I think that can be said for the large majority of books out there. The pace felt slower, the shocks and surprises fewer, the threat felt reduced from the first book. But what ties the books together so well (apart from the phenomenal Malorie) is the journey. I was completely immersed in the trio’s trek across Michigan. It had me on the edge of my seat waiting for something terrible to happen. And then it does…

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes but I really believe you will get so much more out of it if you’re familiar with Bird Box. Malorie is a good sequel to a book I adore and I’m glad I read it. I’m glad I got to spend a little more time with an unforgettable character. But I have a feeling this may be the last we see of Malorie Walsh. The ending felt a little too neat and tidy for a continuation but we will see. Recommended.

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

Malorie by Josh Malerman was published in the UK by Orion Books on 21st July 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, 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 | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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josh malermanJosh Malerman is the acclaimed author of Bird Box, as well as the lead singer and songwriter for the rock band The High Strung. He lives in Michigan.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram |

#BookReview: Wilderness by B.E. Jones (@bevjoneswriting) @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault #Wilderness #damppebbles

Wilderness_25

It’s easy to die out there. It’s easy to kill too.

Two weeks, 1,500 miles, three opportunities for her husband to save his own life.

It isn’t about his survival – it’s about hers.

Shattered by the discovery of her husband’s affair, Liv knows they need to leave the chaos of New York to try to save their marriage. Maybe the roadtrip that they’d always planned, exploring America’s national parks, just the two of them, would help heal the wounds.

But what Liv hasn’t told her husband is that she has set him three challenges. Three opportunities to prove he’s really sorry and worthy of her forgiveness.

If he fails? Well, it’s dangerous out there. There are so many ways to die in the wilderness. And if it’s easy to die, then it’s easy to kill too.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of my very favourite reads from 2019 with you today – the absolutely brilliant WILDERNESS by B.E. Jones. Wilderness sailed into my top ten(ish) books of the year with ease, and I still can’t stop talking to people about it (when I get to see them that is, which isn’t often at the moment!). Wilderness is on the brink of being published in paperback so I’m shouting louder than ever! It really gets under your skin and I LOVE it! We may not be able to leave the house at the moment but that doesn’t mean we can’t travel to the National Parks in the US with Liv and Will, and see if Will manages to save his marriage…..and his life!

Here’s my review:

I received a free eARC of Wilderness but that has in no way influenced my review.

I loved this book. It’s the first book I’ve read by B.E. Jones but I can safely say that it won’t be the last. Boy, can this author write a dark and dangerous character! If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you will know that I am a sucker for characters. The plot and the setting (which are both brilliant in this novel, by the way) can be ‘okay’ providing the characters stand tall and leap from the page. I want living breathing people who make me feel something – that’s not asking too much, is it? Wilderness is a cracking example of exactly how to write incredible, believable characters and also tick the all-important plot and setting boxes with confidence and flair! I absolutely loved Liv. I’m still not entirely sure I was supposed to love her as she’s very much a character on the edge. But hey, I do like a dark undertone and it’s often the more complex creations who appeal to me more!

Liv and her husband, Will, are living the dream. Following Will’s promotion, they up-sticks from picturesque Wales and move to the hustle and bustle of New York City. Everything is perfect…until Liv discovers that her husband has been unfaithful with a colleague. Will apologies for his error of judgement and promises it will never happen again. And then it does. Liv is utterly heartbroken and enraged by the deceit and immediately starts to plan her revenge. One ‘dream’ holiday to America’s national parks and three chances for Will to prove he’s sorry. If he fails, well…..sometimes terrible accidents happen in the wilderness, don’t they?

The plot, the characters, the setting, the cover, the blurb – I loved absolutely everything about this book. It’s very likely it will feature in my top 10 books of the year list in December. Liv is pushed to her absolute limit – the repercussions of which were fascinating to watch. I couldn’t look away as she slowly unravelled before my eyes and I HAD to find out how the story would end. It’s not often I wish for a happy ending in my books but I was desperate for life to turn out OK for Liv. Does it? Well, you’ll have to get hold of a copy of Wilderness and find out for yourself.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It’s one that shouldn’t be missed and the perfect Summer holiday read partly due to the fabulous setting (maybe not the murders!). Speaking of the setting, I loved how the author conveyed the stark contrast between the two locations in the US. You have the wide open space of the national parks versus the built up and somewhat claustrophobic feeling of New York City. It’s all so beautifully written that you can’t help but ‘live’ the locations with the characters. An absolute joy to read! Highly recommended.

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

Wilderness by B.E. Jones was published by in the UK by Constable on 4th April and is available in paperback, audio and digital 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 |

about-the-author3

photo of Bev

Beverley Jones was born in the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales, and started her ‘life of crime’ as a reporter on The Western Mail before moving into TV news with BBC Wales Today.

She covered all aspects of crime reporting before switching sides as a press officer for South Wales police, dealing with the media in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.

Now a freelance writer she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales.

Wilderness, her sixth crime novel follows the release of Halfway by Little Brown in 2018.

Bev’s previous releases, Where She Went, The Lies You Tell, Make Him Pay and Fear The Dark are also available from Little Brown as e books.

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

#BookReview: The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd @PenguinUKBooks #TheInnocentWife #damppebbles

the innocent wife.jpg“You’re in love with a man on Death Row in Florida, convicted of a brutal murder twenty years ago.

You’re convinced he didn’t do it, and you’re determined to prove it. You’re part of a mass online campaign that picks holes in the case, uncovers evidence of police incompetence, and agitates for this miscarriage of justice to be overturned.

Now you’re married to him, and he’s a free man, his conviction thrown out. You have the rest of your lives to spend together.

You’re overjoyed. After all, he’s innocent.

Isn’t he?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my review of The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd.  This book had a real buzz about it when it was first published in December 2017 (yes it has been on my NetGalley shelf for a while, yes I am a terrible book blogger who reads at a snail’s pace!).  I received a free eARC copy of The Innocent Wife which has in no way influenced my review.

I keep seeing mixed reviews for this book and I just don’t get it.  I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me – reading is subjective.  I totally get that.  I’ll say this though, if you’re anything like me you will love this book.  It has everything I want in a novel.  I loved the small town American feel of it, I loved how the author has used the nation’s love of true crime to give it a more authentic edge, I loved the plot and I loved the characters.  This is turning into an epic year of reading for me; nearly every book I pick up just blows me away!  And that includes The Innocent Wife.

Notorious convicted killer, Dennis Danson, comes to Sam’s attention when questions begin to be raised over the evidence and trial used to convict him and send him to death row.  An online group start petitioning for his release claiming the Red River Police got the wrong man.  Sam does what any normal (!) 30-something would do in this situation and starts corresponding with Dennis.  Before long a strong bond is formed between them and Dennis sends a visiting order.  Sam drops everything, packs her bags and flies off to Altoona Prison to meet Dennis in person, hoping he’s everything his letters lead her to believe he is.  After an awkward start, the couple relax into each others company and before long Sam has extended her visa to allow her to visit Dennis on a regular basis.  Then he’s released and everything changes.  Sam is married to a man she hardly knows.  And what’s more, what she was once certain of, she’s not anymore…

Character, character, character.  I flipping love a bunch of fascinating people!  I really felt for Sam.  I could feel her loneliness, her need to be loved and adored which emanated from the page.  I also found her a little frustrating at times because I wanted her to stop being so drippy and ‘woman-up’ a bit.  That didn’t stop me from wanting to read Sam’s story though.  She intrigued me.  I also loved the mysterious Dennis, although I doubt very much I was supposed to!  There was something quite dark and dangerous about him and that appealed. Other characters were great too such as the true crime documentary filmmaker, Carrie, who welcomes Sam to the US with open arms and then becomes her guardian angel.  She just knows Dennis is innocent and will do everything in her power to prove it.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, yes.  It’s a delicious slow burn of a read and I loved it!  I was absolutely fascinated to see where the story was going to go and I wasn’t at all disappointed.  Gripping, unnerving and it ticked so many boxes for me.  I would not hesitate to pick up another book by Amy Lloyd.  In fact, I can’t wait to read more from this author! Highly recommended.

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

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd was published in the UK by Arrow Publishing on 4th October 2018 in paperback, hardcover, audio 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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amy lloyd.jpgAmy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan University. In 2016 she won the Daily Mail Bestseller Competition for her debut novel The Innocent Wife which, when it was published, became a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Amy lives in Cardiff with her partner, who is also a published novelist.

Author Links:TwitterFacebook |

 

#BookReview: The Chain by Adrian McKinty @orionbooks @orion_crime @Tr4cyF3nt0n #TheChain #DontBreaktheChain #damppebbles

the chain.jpg“VICTIM.
SURVIVOR.
ABDUCTOR.
CRIMINAL.
YOU WILL BECOME EACH ONE.

YOUR PHONE RINGS.

A STRANGER HAS KIDNAPPED YOUR CHILD.

TO FREE THEM YOU MUST ABDUCT SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.

YOUR CHILD WILL BE RELEASED WHEN YOUR VICTIM’S PARENTS KIDNAP ANOTHER CHILD.

IF ANY OF THESE THINGS DON’T HAPPEN:
YOUR CHILD WILL BE KILLED.”

YOU ARE NOW PART OF THE CHAIN

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Chain by Adrian McKinty blog tour.  I was given a free ARC copy of The Chain but that has in no way influenced my review.  My thanks to Leanne Oliver at Orion Books for being able to read minds and know this was a book I was desperate to get my mitts on and to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invite.  This book is a corker.

I spend an awful lot of time on Twitter.  I’m not ashamed of that.  It’s part of being a book blogger and part of the job I do.  There are LOTS of books on Twitter.  It’s a total book-haven with something for everyone.  With that in mind, there are books I see and they don’t interest me (don’t get me wrong, I wish every success to the authors, publishers and everyone else involved – it’s just that I’m a psychological thriller and crime lover and if it doesn’t fall into that category then I let it pass me by).  Then there are the books I see and I know that I HAVE TO READ THEM.  Should I shout that a little louder? I KNOW I HAVE TO READ THEM!  The Chain by Adrian McKinty was one such book.  I saw a GIF.  The deal was done…

How often do you feel like you have a connection with a book before you’ve even read it?  To any of my blogger friends reading this, you may recognise this feeling.  Everyone is talking about a certain book and then the FOMO kicks in and you know you HAVE to read it.  It happens to me a few times a year.  And then the poor book sits on my shelf gathering dust for….well, however long it takes me to remember how much I REALLY wanted to read it.  The ‘gathering dust phase’ didn’t happen with The Chain.  I started reading it the same day it arrived.  I HAD to read this book immediately. I’m not even sure the book was completely out of the envelope before I made a start…

That premise.  How can you resist that premise? I know I couldn’t.  Are chain letters still a thing? I remember receiving a few when I was younger.  They didn’t invoke any kind of fear or compulsion in me.  The only thing they evoked was the desire to chuck the thing in the bin.  But what if the message you received meant your child had been kidnapped?  What if the only way to get your child back was to kidnap another child? And so on and so forth (#DontBreaktheChain).  To save your child you must become a kidnapper and turn another family’s life upside-down causing fear, heartache and untold trauma to so many.  And what if breaking the chain meant your child would die…?

That’s exactly the situation single mum, Rachel finds herself in after allowing her 13-year-old daughter, Kylie, to walk to the bus stop alone.  And there begins Rachel’s nightmare and the start of a compelling, high energy tale about the bad things good people are capable of doing when put under extreme amounts of pressure.  I loved it! It’s got everything you want; likeable and unlikeable characters (actually, the bad guys are pretty despicable characters in all fairness) and a flawless hook that won’t let you go even when you should really be doing ‘life stuff’.  Plus the writing is just wonderful.  Really, really top notch.

I really felt for Rachel but I’m still not sure if I liked her.  I kept wincing as another terrible scenario or choice was forced upon her.  If I could have read the book from behind my hands then I would have done.  Rachel was frequently put into impossible situations and I eagerly watched as she made the only decision she could whilst shaking my head and muttering ‘noooooooo…’ under my breath.  All the time reminding myself that ‘it’s just a book, it’s not real!’.  Exactly how far would YOU go to save your child?

Would I recommend this book? I certainly would.  It’s like nothing else you’ve read before and it will leave its mark on you.  The story is gripping from start to finish and the ending is very satisfying.  I wanted to race through this book yet savour every moment.  I haven’t read a book by Adrian McKinty before but I can guarantee The Chain won’t be the last title I pick up by this author.  A terrifying, edge-of-your-seat read which I highly recommend.  The Chain is going to be massive!

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

The Chain by Adrian McKinty was published in the UK by Orion Books on 9th July 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio 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.comWaterstones | BookDepositoryGoodreads |

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about-the-author3

adrian mckinty.jpgAdrian McKinty is a crime novelist from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

His books have won the Edgar Award, the Anthony Award, the Ned Kelly Award and the Barry Award. Adrian is also a two time Dagger nominee and shortlistee for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year.

He studied law at Warwick University and philosophy at Oxford University before emigrating to New York City in the mid 90s.

Author Links:TwitterWebsiteFacebook |

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BookReview: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #20BooksofSummer #TheMarriagePact #Giveaway

the marriage pact.jpg

“First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes your first big mistake.

How far are you willing to go for the perfect relationship?

Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered a mysterious wedding gift – membership of a club which promises its couples will never divorce.

Signing The Pact seems the start to a perfect marriage.

Until one of them breaks the rules.

The marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Because The Pact is for life.

And its members will do anything to make sure no one leaves . . .”

Michelle Richmond’s The Marriage Pact has been on my bookish radar for some time now. It was mentioned as part of my #R3COMM3ND3D2017 feature where I immediately added it to the TBR. I was then lucky enough to receive a paperback copy from the lovely Dead Good team as a Valentine’s Day treat (more about that later!). And then, of course, I kept seeing some really good reviews. Bearing all of this in mind, it was a natural addition to my #20BooksofSummer challenge.

I absolutely love the concept of this book. I love it when weird, life-altering, mostly catastrophic things happen to normal, run-of-the-mill people. Just me then? Oh… Anyway, the thought of a newlywed couple suddenly being trapped in a pact with a group of controlling strangers, having to live by the rules of the group (no matter how humiliating or demeaning) and managing to break the rules without even trying was something I had to read about. I’ll admit, the plot is a little far-fetched but d’you know what? I was just after an entertaining read, something a little different to my much-loved detective fiction and that’s exactly what I got with The Marriage Pact. A highly entertaining read.

When I was able to find time to sit down and read The Marriage Pact I found it an incredibly easy read, flying through the pages in great chunks and not realising that hours had passed. I was desperate to see what awful predicament Jake and Alice were going to find themselves in and what terrifying punishment they were to be subjected to. At times I found myself feeling really quite uncomfortable; as though I was intruding on a young couple’s most personal moments. I was also irked that many of the odd punishments were meted out to Alice, the wife, where little seemed to happen in the beginning to Jake, the husband, (he doesn’t get away scot-free but I do believe Alice suffers a lot more than her husband). I’m a huge fan of a strong female lead in my novels and Alice had so much potential with her punky, free-spirited background but she never really got going in my eyes. Was she diluted because of her marriage to Jake or was the pact to blame? I guess we’ll never know

I’m afraid I really struggled with the ending of The Marriage Pact. Things were going great guns and I was engrossed in the terrible punishments The Pact were dishing out to our beleaguered couple, but then the ending happened and I had a bit of a ‘huh?’ moment. For a thriller, the ending is quite sedate and I will be totally honest here and say I was a little disappointed. I had an inkling that the story was building up to ‘that ending’ but had hoped the author would pull something utterly mesmerising and unexpected out of the bag. It’s a well-written book with a nice ending. My black heart, unfortunately, wasn’t quite satisfied with a nice ending.

Would I recommend this book? I enjoyed 90% of The Marriage Pact and it’s only because I’m a fan of the darker side of fiction that I think I was a little disappointed with the ending. I would recommend this book but to readers who maybe err towards the gentler side of thriller fiction. It’s well written with a really interesting concept (although a little far-fetched at times) but most of all, I found this book entertaining and that’s exactly what I was after. I liked it!

Three out of five stars.

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

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GIVEAWAY:
The lovely folk at Dead Good sent me a paperback copy of The Marriage Pact but I decided to read my eARC (it’s a long story which involves adjusting (or not!) to new varifocal glasses which I won’t bore you with!). So I have an unread paperback copy of The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond which I am going to give away to one lucky UK winner!

To be in with a chance all you have to do is leave a comment below. It’s that simple. The winner will be selected at random and will need to provide their postal address so I can send them their prize. The competition will close at midday on Monday 25th June 2018 and the winner will be notified shortly afterwards. There is no cash alternative. Good luck everyone!

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond was published in the UK by Michael Joseph Books on 14th December 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBooks formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about the author3

michelle richmond.jpg

Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels and two award-winning story collections. Her books include the 2017 psychological thriller THE MARRIAGE PACT, which has been sold in 30 languages and was a Sunday Times bestseller in the UK; GOLDEN STATE, the critically acclaimed novel that imagines modern-day California on the brink of secession from the United States; the international bestseller THE YEAR OF FOG; and the story collection HUM, winner of the Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. Her novels are set in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives, and in the South, where she grew up. Michelle was born and raised in Alabama and has made her home for eighteen years in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and son.

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

Author Image and Bio © http://michellerichmond.com/

#BookReview: Hangman by Daniel Cole (@Daniel_P_Cole) @TrapezeBooks @orion_crime @Lauren_BooksPR

hangman cover.jpg

“A detective with no one to trust
A killer with nothing to lose

18 months after the ‘Ragdoll’ murders, a body is found hanging from Brooklyn Bridge, the word ‘BAIT’ carved into the chest.

In London a copycat killer strikes, branded with the word ‘PUPPET’, forcing DCI Emily Baxter into an uneasy partnership with the detectives on the case, Special Agents Rouche and Curtis.

Each time they trace a suspect, the killer is one step ahead. With the body count rising on both sides of the Atlantic, can they learn to trust each other and identify who is holding the strings before it is too late?”

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Daniel Cole’s debut crime thriller, Ragdoll. I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the inventive ways Cole came up with to kill off a number of the characters. It’s no secret that I like my crime thrillers edging on horror with lots of bodies and lots of blood, so Ragdoll held a lot of appeal for me. The second book in the Ragdoll series, Hangman immediately became a must-read. I just had to see what the author was going to do with his characters next…

And the answer is, he completely ignored his lead protagonist and focussed solely on a supporting member of his cast. Not what you would expect, right? I’ve seen Hangman mentioned in places as Detective Fawkes #2. It really isn’t though. Fawkes hardly features in this novel and I absolutely flipping LOVED it! My one bugbear with Ragdoll was that I felt very little for either Fawkes or his sidekick, Emily Baxter. If anything, Baxter irritated me with her fawning over Fawkes and her (ugh) neediness. Having read Hangman from cover to cover I have completely changed my mind about her. I love the new ‘slightly more damaged than she was before’ Emily Baxter. Her sarcastic manner, her bossiness, her ‘don’t actually give a damn!’ attitude and her secretiveness. I really like this new Baxter and hope she doesn’t change back to her old, puppy dog ways in book three when Fawkes *may* return.

Baxter isn’t the only character I loved in Hangman. I’ve already mentioned that Fawkes isn’t really present. However, Baxter is instructed to work alongside the FBI and CIA as her current investigation spans continents and has links to the famous Ragdoll case she ‘heroically’ solved. Curtis (the FBI agent) and in particular Rouche (the CIA operative) really brought something to the story. We get to see Baxter’s newfound barriers crumble a little as she warms to Rouche. I’m not sure there is any point in the story where she trusts him but I really enjoyed the relationship between the two.

I have to say, I found the story a little far-fetched in some places but in all honesty, I didn’t actually give a hoot as I was utterly captivated by the characters and what was going to happen next. Daniel Cole had my full attention from start to finish and to me, that is more important than a little artistic licence. I also loved the humour Cole has written into the pages of Hangman. This is the first book in a long time that I found myself quietly chuckling along to.

Would I recommend this book? Totally. I loved it. I preferred it to Ragdoll. I loved seeing things from Baxter’s perspective and I hope the *possible* return of Fawkes in book three doesn’t reduce her character to what it was in book one. I would be devastated. So utterly gripping I couldn’t put this book down. I described the need to keep turning the pages of Ragdoll as similar to catnip. Well, the author has done it again but this is super strength catnip! A perfect read for me.

Five out of five stars.

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

Hangman by Daniel Cole was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 22nd March 2018 and is available hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

daniel cole

Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer, and most recently for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Ragdoll is his first novel. He lives in Bournemouth, England.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb (@crimethrillgirl) @OrendaBooks

DEEP BUE TROUBLE final cover.jpg“Single-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT – Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything – alive and kicking.

Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free.

Following Fletcher from Florida to California, Lori teams up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up, Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything…

Breathlessly paced, and bursting with high-voltage action and edge-of-your-seat jeopardy, Deep Blue Trouble is the unmissable next instalment featuring one of the most memorable and fearless female characters in crime fiction.”

It is my GREAT pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the Deep Blue Trouble blog tour which I share with the fabulous Helen Giles over at Life of a Nerdish Mum.  Please make sure you drop by Helen’s fabulous blog and say ‘hello’ after you’re done here.

Deep Blue Trouble is the second book in the Lori Anderson series written by one of my favourite authors, Steph Broadribb.  The first book in the series, Deep Down Dead made a BIG impression on me last year and you can read my review by clicking HERE.  Deep Down Dead also featured highly on my top ten books of 2017 post.  It’s true, I flipping love Lori Anderson.  This is one of those reviews where you hope everything you say does the book justice.  Fingers crossed…

Of all the books to be published in 2018, Deep Blue Trouble was the one I was really excited about.  Deep Down Dead (Lori Anderson book #1) left such a lasting impression on me that I could not wait to be reacquainted with Lori, her daughter Dakota and her brooding, ‘slightly’ gorgeous mentor/lover, JT.  For those new to this series, Lori Anderson is a kick-ass bounty hunter based in Florida.  She’s tough, she had to be.  Life has thrown a lot of sh!t Lori’s way (excuse the expletive but there’s no other way of putting it!).  Her young daughter is in remission, but there’s always a chance the cancer could return. And, to top off her run of bad luck, JT has been arrested following their last action-packed adventure together.  Lori is under an extreme amount of pressure and boy, does she know it!  When FBI agent Alex Monroe offers Lori a way to free JT from prison (and certain death, one way or another) she begrudgingly takes it.  Having put her daughter in imminent danger previously, Lori leaves Dakota at camp and heads to California in search of Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher.  What she doesn’t expect is a myriad of dead ends, confusing leads and false sightings in ‘bounty hunter hostile’ Mexico.  Can Lori discover where Fletcher is hiding, what he is hiding and with the help of whom before it’s too late…?

Fabulous!  As crime fiction goes this is another wonderfully engaging, thrilling, action-packed read from the pen of Steph Broadribb.  I was hooked from page one and unable to put this book down.  I love everything about Lori, she’s kick-ass through and through. She has a relatable, softer side when it comes to all matters concerning her young daughter, and she carries a flipping TASER!  What more could you want?  What I thoroughly enjoyed this time around was the chemistry and the friction brought about by the inclusion of Californian bounty hunter, Dex McGregor.  Lori has to work with Dex on the instruction of Alex Monroe.  But Dex works very differently to Lori – Dex is a team player but Lori is her own, one woman team.  The tension was palpable, the suspicion high.  Brilliantly constructed by Broadribb.

One of my very favourite things about this series is how deliciously American the narrative is.  I am such a big fan of American crime fiction but Broadribb manages to make me believe more than many other home-grown American writers (Broadribb is British by the way, but has worked in the US).

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  And whilst you’re there make sure you pick up a copy of Deep Down Dead too.  Deep Blue Trouble will work as a standalone but why not read the first book in the series whilst you’re at it.  I promise you won’t regret it.  I said this time last year that, “For me, this is the book that every other book has to beat this year to become my favourite read of 2017.  It’s early days but Deep Down Dead is a long way in the lead at the moment (and we’re not even done with January yet!)”.  Well, the same applies this year.  As things stand at present, Deep Blue Trouble is the book every other book has to beat to be my ‘book of 2018’.  As crime writers go, you can’t get better than Steph Broadribb.  Perfect!

Five out of five stars.

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

Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 5th January 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (the following Amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Steph Broadribb.jpegSteph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens.

Author Links: Crime Thriller Girl | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview | #Giveaway: All The Wicked Girls by @WhittyAuthor @BonnierZaffre @1stMondayCrime

all the wicked girls“Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she’s a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama – especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine.

Then Summer vanishes.

Raine throws herself into the investigation, aided by a most unlikely ally, but the closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous her search becomes.

And perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .”

Wowsers!  If you’re looking for a deeply emotive, delightfully intense and deliciously dark thriller then congratulations good reader, you have just found it.  There are many books which create a buzz.  Some deserve that hype, others…..don’t so much.  What works for Ant* doesn’t necessarily work for Dec*, you get my point I’m sure.  So I was looking forward to reading All The Wicked Girls but I felt strangely nervous too.  Would I ‘get’ this book like other readers have?  Would I fall under its spell when many popular books leave me feeling cold?  Well, yes, of course I would because this book is pure literary magic.

And to kick December off with a bang, I am giving away a copy of All The Wicked Girls to one lucky UK winner.  But more about that later…

Grace, Alabama is a small God-fearing town where teenage twin sisters Summer and Raine Ryan live.  As sisters go, the two girls couldn’t be more different.  Summer is popular and studious, whereas Raine….isn’t.  The town of Grace borders Briar County which is suffering its own living nightmare.  Young, church-going girls are being snatched by ‘The Bird’.  Town legend claims ‘The Bird’ isn’t entirely human.  All that is known for sure is that the police have so far failed to capture the creature.  Then Summer Ryan goes missing leaving only a note behind, which raises even more questions.  Is Summer ‘The Bird’s latest victim?  And what shocking secrets will Raine unearth as she starts her own investigation into Summer’s disappearance? And most importantly, will she ever find her sister alive?

If you’re a fan of the character-driven novel (like me!) then you must get yourself a copy of All The Wicked Girls.  Whitaker’s characters are exquisite, beautiful things full of heart and soul.  The reader is pulled into their world where fear reigns; fear of God, fear of the church, fear of ‘The Bird’ and fear of themselves.  I fell a little bit in love with two of the characters, Noah and Purv, who battle alongside Raine in the search for the truth.  Raine was also a very intriguing character but she’s a little overshadowed by Noah and Purv, her two sidekicks, who shine from the page.  Supporting these three is a cast of incredibly well-written, fully formed and perfectly individual characters.  Chief Black who struggles with a drug and alcohol problem (as well as his past failures), Samson with his unusual looks and peculiar behaviour, the Ryan brothers who stake out Chief Black’s HQ putting on the pressure with the imminent threat of violence, Pastor Bobby and his wife, Savannah – their marriage falling apart while both drown in their own private grief following the tragic loss of their young son.  Such a strong, wonderfully crafted collection of interesting people that I struggled to put this book down.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  This is an emotionally intense thriller which will appeal to so many readers.  Whitaker’s writing is a beautiful thing and I couldn’t get enough of his strong, striking imagery and his captivating prose.  I want more, please.  And soon.  Dark, emotional, unnerving and engrossing.  Superb stuff!

Five out of five stars.

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

Chris Whitaker will be appearing at December’s First Monday Crime event alongside Louise Jensen, Susi Holliday and Mel McGrath.  All expertly moderated by Claire McGowan.  The event takes place on Monday 4th December, 6.30pm at City University, College Building, A130.  Click HERE to book your FREE ticket.  Plus, because it’s December and we’re all starting to feel jolly festive, there will be extra fun and frivolities in store!  Check out the First Monday Crime website for more information.

Giveaway:
To be in with a chance of winning a BRAND NEW, unread ARC of All The Wicked Girls click on the following Rafflecopter link and follow the instructions.  Open to UK and ROI residents only due to postage costs.  Only one winner will be selected.  They will need to provide their postal address to enable me to send their book.  There are no cash alternatives and the giveaway ends at midnight on Tuesday 5th December (GMT).  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker was published in the UK by Zaffre on 24th August 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

*Ant & Dec
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about the author3

chris whitaker.jpgChris Whitaker was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. His debut novel, Tall Oaks, won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Chris’s second novel, All The Wicked Girls, was published in August 2017. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons.

Author Links:Twitter |

#BlogTour | #Giveaway: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (@atticalocke) @serpentstail

bluebird, bluebird.jpg“Southern fables usually go the other way around. A white woman is killed or harmed in some way, real or imagined, and then, like the moon follows the sun, a black man ends up dead.

But when it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules – a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he is drawn to a case in the small town of Lark, where two dead bodies washed up in the bayou. First a black lawyer from Chicago and then, three days later, a local white woman, and it’s stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes – and save himself in the process – before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.”

A very warm welcome to my stop on the Bluebird, Bluebird blog tour.  Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke is published today so a very happy book birthday to the author and publisher, Serpent’s Tail.

To celebrate the release of this exciting new thriller I have one copy of Bluebird, Bluebird to giveaway.  All you need to do is follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter link below:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

The small print:  The winner will need to provide their name and address – the prize will be sent directly from the publisher.  There is no cash alternative.  Competition open to UK residents only I’m afraid.  The winner’s name will be chosen at random on Sunday 1st October 2017 and notified immediately.  Good luck everyone!

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke was published in the UK by Serpent’s Tail on 28th September 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

attica locke

Mel Melcon, Los Angeles Times

Attica Locke’s Pleasantville was the 2016 winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. It was also long-listed for the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction, and made numerous “Best of 2015” lists. Her first novel, Black Water Rising, was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her second book, The Cutting Season, is a national bestseller and the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. A former fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmaker’s Lab, Locke has worked as a screenwriter as well. Most recently, she was a writer and producer on the Fox drama, Empire. She serves on the board of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.

Author image and biography via http://www.atticalocke.com/about/

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |