#BlogTour | #BookReview: Blink by K.L. Slater (@KimLSlater) @Bookouture

blink cover.jpg“What if the person you love most in the world was in terrible danger … because of you?

Three years ago, Toni’s five-year-old daughter Evie disappeared after leaving school. The police have never been able to find her. There were no witnesses, no CCTV, no trace. 

But Toni believes her daughter is alive. And as she begins to silently piece together her memories, the full story of the past begins to reveal itself, and a devastating truth.

Toni’s mind is trapped in a world of silence, her only chance to save herself is to manage the impossible. She must find a way to make herself heard. She must find her daughter. 

A compelling, gripping thriller with a breathtaking twist that will keep you awake until the early hours. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Behind Closed Doors and The Sister. “

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Blink blog tour.  Blink is the second psychological thriller from author K.L. Slater and was published on 16th February by Bookouture.  K.L. Slater is a new author to me so I was full of excitement and apprehension when I first started to read Blink.  To say I was blown away is a bit of an understatement really…

Recently widowed Toni and her young daughter, Evie are leaving their old life behind and moving to Nottingham.  Toni’s mum lives locally and feels her daughter and granddaughter both need a fresh start.  They have a house, Evie is offered a place at St Saviour’s primary school and Toni manages to find a small part time job in a local estate agents doing what she loves.  But Toni has a secret.  A secret which she believes only she knows about.  But others are watching and they’re watching closely enough to work it out for themselves.  Evie is in danger.  Toni’s secret has made her daughter the centre of someone else’s attention and it’s all Toni’s fault…

Outstandingly good!  This is the first book I’ve read in a while that I’ve really immersed myself in.  I went through so many emotions whilst reading which always makes a book a favourite read for me.  There were times I felt genuine sadness and empathy for Toni, and other times I despised her and wanted to give her a good shake!  The chapters are either set in the present day or three years ago and told from several different perspectives.  The chapters narrated by Evie broke my heart, pure and simple.  K.L. Slater manages to write the 5 year old voice so incredibly well that I was near to tears at times.  I should add that I have a 6 year daughter myself so I could easily picture her speaking in a similar way to Evie and having similar thoughts.

The tagline of this book is no understatement; a gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist you’ll never forget.  It sounds like marketing mumbo jumbo and something you should take with a pinch of salt.  Let me tell you though, the tagline, it’s true.  There is a brilliantly crafted twist which makes this book go from a great read to a ‘fantastic, remember it for some time to come read’.  I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading and had to go back and re-read the section again.  It happens so subtly, so beautifully that you almost miss it…only to realise shortly afterwards what is going on.  Superb writing!

Would I recommend this book?  Of course I would.  It’s a completely mesmerising tale which I devoured from it’s shocking buzzing start to it’s explosive end.  I can’t wait to read more from K.L. Slater.  She’s definitely on my ‘authors to watch’ list now.  The characters make this story; from the repulsive TA, Miss Watson to Bryony, the overbearing, hateful boss to Toni, the barely coping, newly single mother.  All brilliant, all wonderfully written.  Blink gave me goosebumps.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Blink.  My thanks to Bookouture and K.L. Slater for providing me with a copy.  The above review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

Blink by K.L. Slater was published in the UK by Bookouture on 16th February 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Bookouture |

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 What readers are saying about Blink:

‘I was excited to start reading this one and once I started I couldn’t stop. I devoured it. Chomped away chapter by chapter until I have hoofed the whole damned lot and you know what? It left me hungry for more …An absolutely stonking 5 stars from me. Jen Med’s Book Reviews

‘This is a novel that those who liked The Girl on The Train and Behind Closed Doors won’t want to miss’ My Little Book Corner

‘I finished this book in nearly one day. I was completely unable to put this book down. Everything about this book sucks you in and doesn’t let go.’ Bombshell Reads

Blink was just BRILLIANT’ It’s All About Books

‘A thrilling roller coaster of a read that will have you gripping on for dear life to see how it will all end’ By the Letter Book Reviews

‘The book had me from the very first sentence and kept hold of me until I finished it…. There are twists galore but on one occasion my jaw actually dropped open as I realised that all was not as it seemed. Fantastic writing, excellent characterisation that has left me salivating for book number three! Five stars.’ Angela Marsons

‘Five stars! This book had me hook line and sinker … this author’s mind is very very clever …’ Sue and her Books

‘WOW,What a corker of a book, gripping story, believable untrustworthy characters and not just one but two totally jaw dropping unexpected twists.’ Nicki’s Life of Crime

‘What a read …The ending took me completely by surprise! In most books, I end up guessing the ending, but this book was spectacular. The book had me gripped from word ‘go’. I couldn’t stop reading …a brilliant brilliant book’Any Excuse to Read

‘a fantastic psychological thriller and I was kept hooked throughout. Lots of twists and turns, an excellent pace and so much suspense and surprise, I didn’t quite know where the book was going at times …couldn’t be anything other than five stars!’ Donna’s Book Blog

‘With bucketfuls of suspense and intrigue Blink is guaranteed to keep the most hardened psychological thriller love on the edge of their seats. Five Stars. ‘ The Book Review Cafe

‘Pure genius!! Blink is everything a psychological thriller should be! K L Slater is in a class of her own …Just when you think you have it figured out, you are knocked out of the park! One of the most mind-bending twists ever, just simply stunning!’ What Rachel Read Next

‘The twist towards the end took me completely by surprise. I actually had to put the book down for a moment and stop before I could carry on. It really took my breath away. K. L. Slater pulled this off brilliantly!’ Hooked from Page One

‘K.L. Slater has done it again with her latest book, Blink. From a creepy beginning to the twisty end, this book keeps the reader on the edge of his or her seat. Hang on for the ride’ Shelf Knowledge

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k l slater.jpgFor many years, psychological thriller author KL Slater sent her work out to literary agents but never made it off the slush pile. At the age of 40 she went back to Nottingham Trent University and now has an MA in Creative Writing.

Before graduating, she received five offers of representation from London literary agents which was, as Kim says, ‘a fairytale … at the end of a very long road!’

Kim is a full-time writer and lives in Nottingham with her husband, Mac.

Author Links:Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington (@sam_carrington1) @CrimeFix

samc“A teenage girl is missing. Is your daughter involved, or is she next?
Your daughter is in danger. But can you trust her?
When Karen Finch’s seventeen-year-old daughter Sophie arrives home after a night out, drunk and accompanied by police officers, no one is smiling the morning after. But Sophie remembers nothing about how she got into such a state.
Twelve hours later, Sophie’s friend Amy has still not returned home. Then the body of a young woman is found.
Karen is sure that Sophie knows more than she is letting on. But Karen has her own demons to fight. She struggles to go beyond her own door without a panic attack.
As she becomes convinced that Sophie is not only involved but also in danger, Karen must confront her own anxieties to stop whoever killed one young girl moving on to another – Sophie.”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Saving Sophie blog tour. You may be feeling a strange sense of deja vu about now, but don’t worry, this is Saving Sophie’s second time on the blog tour circuit and today we celebrate the release of this fabulous book in paperback format!  I was thrilled to be asked to join this tour by Kaisha at The Writing Garnet as I have been rather desperate to read Saving Sophie for some time now.

First up today I have treat for you; an extract from the book for you to read and enjoy. So without further ado…

Extract from SAVING SOPHIE

The picture was of her. Her, wearing the clothes she’d worn last night. And it was no selfie. Sophie threw the phone on her bed, as if it had sent an electric shock through her fingertips. She stared at it, then shook her head a few times, screwing up her eyes, trying to remember. But there was nothing. Who had taken this, and where? What were they intending to do with it, and what ones were to follow?
Standing, feet planted, paralysed in the centre of her messy room, Sophie clenched and unclenched her fists, then clicked her knuckles: pulling down one finger at a time with the thumb of each hand until they cracked.
What should she do? Forcing herself to move forwards, she reached to pick up the phone. Her hands trembled. The picture was still visible. She had to face this, figure it out. Zooming in, she navigated the background in an attempt to see if anything was familiar. It seemed she was in a chair of some sort, legs splayed, slouched back. She guessed from the angle of her body that her head was thrown back; her hair was out of sight. Sophie turned the phone sideways to see it from a different perspective. Apart from the black dress and the blurry dark image on the ankle, which she’d assumed to be her snake tattoo, this photo could be of anyone.
A warm sensation flushed through her. Perhaps it wasn’t her. Any amount of girls had tattoos these days, you couldn’t even see if it was a snake or not. And black dresses weren’t exactly rare. This was someone’s idea of a sick joke. Probably one of the boys taking the piss; could’ve even been Photoshopped. With new-found optimism that it was a prank, Sophie sat down on her rumpled bed and searched the original email for clues as to which of her so-called friends she could thank for frightening her half to death.
It didn’t take long to realise she couldn’t identify the sender. The email address wasn’t a standard one. It looked ridiculously made up, certainly not one she recognised. It’d soon become obvious which of the boys had done it, though, they were incapable of keeping their mouths shut; they must be itching to send a text, Facebook message or tweet so everyone knew about their clever stunt. Oh, how funny they thought they were. Immature arseholes. It wasn’t funny at all, given the fact that Amy still hadn’t rocked up. It was getting worrying now; five thirty and still no sign. Even Amy would’ve slept off a hangover by now.
Sophie reluctantly accessed her Facebook page. Streams of status updates, but none from Amy; none from her friends saying ‘Amy’s back’. For Christ’s sake, Amy, where the hell are you? Sophie got up, her legs leaden with fatigue, and ventured slowly downstairs. Perhaps her mother knew something by now.

‘Have you heard?’ Her mum’s head snapped up the second she entered the room. Sophie’s mouth dried in an instant.
‘No, what?’ Her voice cracked. Something bad has happened. ‘I meant, have you heard anything from Amy yet?’
‘Crikey, Mum.’ Sophie’s hand pressed into her chest as she let out a sharp hiss of air. ‘I thought you meant . . .’
‘Oh, no. Sorry. I spoke to Rachel just now, and she said Erin had been staying at her dad’s a lot at weekends – you didn’t tell me about Erin’s dad moving in with that woman by the way – how come?’
‘Mum. Get to the point.’ Sophie transferred her weight on to one leg and crossed her arms.
‘Right, well, I’m assuming they’re probably together – Erin and Amy – because Rachel said she hadn’t heard from Erin.’
‘Actually, that does make sense. Dan said everyone got to the club except Erin and Amy. Good. That will be it then.’ But saying the words didn’t reassure her. There seemed no logical reason why Amy would bother to walk to Erin’s dad’s when her own house was nearer to town. She wasn’t even convinced they would go home together. They weren’t the best of friends – Amy, being older, had come on to the scene later, after school, and had kind of replaced Erin; becoming Sophie’s new best friend. That had never sat well with Erin. But for now, it was a theory which Sophie was willing to believe.
‘That’s what I’m hoping, Sophie, yes. Although it doesn’t let you off the hook.’
No. She guessed as much. Her mother would be at her every day now, trying to get to the bottom of why she had no memory of the night, why she had ended up wandering the streets alone, what the taxi driver had done to her. It was going to be a nightmare. But, as long as they were all safe – her girls – she could take whatever hassle was headed her way. It could’ve been worse.
Bailey’s deep growl at the window diverted their attention. His ear-grating bark filled the room. Sophie followed her mum to see what had upset him. For the second time in as many nights, there was a police car parked outside the house.
Now what?

Good, huh?  I really hope that’s piqued your interest as it’s a cracking book and definitely worth a read.

Smith & Sons (9)

I’ve been wanting to read Saving Sophie for some time now.  Well, since it appeared on NetGalley earlier this year.  But you know how life goes; sometimes things just don’t happen for one reason or another.  So imagine my joy when I was asked to feature on the blog tour in celebration of the paperback release with Avon Books.  Well, I couldn’t say no!  And I’m very glad I did because this is such an enjoyable read and exactly the book I needed to reignite my dwindling reading mojo.

The Finch family are slowly falling apart.  The relationship between parents Karen and Mike is becoming more strained by the day and 17 year old Sophie would rather keep herself to herself.  But after a night out with friends, Sophie is brought home by the police.  She’s dazed, confused and acting drunk.  But it’s only a couple of hours later, how has Sophie managed to consume that much alcohol in such a short space of time?!  Her parents are unable to make sense out of what she’s saying so she’s bundled off to bed, with her concerned parents planning a confrontation for the following morning.  Sophie wakes feeling worse for wear but is immediately distracted by a news that her friend, Amy is missing.  Then the body of a young woman matching Amy’s description is found.  What really happened on their night out?  And will the inappropriate photographs Sophie receives of herself help her remember?  Exactly what secrets have the Finch family been keeping…?

When I select a book to read, I want to feel ‘something’ and if that feeling is frustration or exasperation, then that’s as good as liking a character in my opinion.  I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to like characters to enjoy a book.  Heck, I read crime and psychological thrillers.  Sometimes I don’t want that warm fuzzy glow!  With that in mind, I instantly disliked husband Mike who came across as a bully and at times, a uninterested negligent father.  Mum Karen was a little whiney and played the part of the victim to perfection.  You find out more about Karen’s back story as you move through the book and I have to say, by the end of the novel, I had really warmed to her.  And as for Sophie, well…she’s 17, more interested in her friends than her family and suffering the hangover from hell.  There’s not a lot to like!

But somehow, somewhere along the line…I started to really like both Sophie and Karen (no change on the Mike front I’m afraid, still don’t like him!).  Karen suffers from agoraphobia which plays a huge part in the storyline.  When her condition was first revealed I thought, ‘how is Sam Carrington going to write this and make it interesting?’.  I’ll tell you, she writes it incredibly well.  At first I was dubious, but the whole story revolves around Karen.  Her dealings with her condition make for interesting reading.  There is a point when Karen’s best friend, Rachel really needs her.  I was in turmoil myself as on one hand I was thinking ‘go to your best friend, she needs you’ but on the other, I was fully understanding of how she was feeling.  Now, if that’s not good writing, I don’t know what is!

There are some rather large twists and turns thrown in to keep you on your toes.  The final showdown was an ‘edge of your seat’ moment for me.  I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading!  And that epilogue, oh it broke my heart.  I sort of saw it coming but that certainly didn’t lessen the impact.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  I loved the twists and turns, the way the characters morph from being really quite irritating to becoming firm favourites of mine and I absolutely loved that this book made me feel something.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Saving Sophie.

Saving Sophie by Sam Carrington was published in the UK by Avon Books on 15th December 2016 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Avon Books |


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Smith & Sons (11)

author-pic-sam-carringtonSam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for fifteen years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she worked for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. Before beginning her first novel, Sam wrote a number of short stories, several of which were published in popular women’s magazines. Other short stories were included in two charity anthologies.
Sam moved quickly on to novel writing and completed her first project within six months. Although this novel attracted attention from agents, it was her next that opened up opportunities. She entered this novel, with the working title Portrayal, into the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award in 2015 and was delighted when it was longlisted.
Being placed in such a prestigious competition was instrumental in her success securing a literary agent. When completed, this novel became SAVING SOPHIE, a psychological thriller which was published by Maze, HarperCollins as an ebook in August. The paperback and audio editions are publishing on 15th December.

Author Links:Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BlogTour: The Mine by Antti Tuomainen (@antti_tuomainen) @OrendaBooks #TheFinnishInvasion

the-mine-cover“A hitman. A journalist. A family torn apart. Can he uncover the truth before it’s too late?

In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life.

A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results … The Mine is a gripping, beautifully written, terrifying and explosive thriller by the King of Helsinki Noir.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on The Mine blog tour and day two of my stint on the Finnish Invasion blog tour (if you missed it I featured a brilliant Q&A with Orenda author Kati Hiekkapelto yesterday, which you can read if you click here).

Regular visitors to damppebbles will know how much I love a guest post (I love a guest post!) so today I have a fabulous post from The Mine author Antti Tuomainen to share with you. Without further ado I’ll hand over to Antti…

Family Matters by Antti Tuomainen

I have just published my third novel in the UK called THE MINE. (It is my fifth novel altogether.) THE MINE is a crime novel, of course, but it is also a family story. It tells the story of a father and a son, a journalist and a hitman. In the beginning of the novel, the father returns to Helsinki, his and his son’s hometown, after having been gone for thirty years.

That set up – the father and the son – was really how THE MINE got its start. It is also something that is common in all my novels. Close relationships, I mean. Looking back, I’ve always written about close human interaction in one way or another – husband and wife torn apart in The Healer, brothers on different side of the law, mother and son in Dark As My Heart, and so forth –  and I’ve always began building my novels through characters and their dilemmas. And of course, the secrets they keep from each other.

And this is where family comes in. Who are we closest to? Who do we most remind? Who do we most love or most hate or both? To make a story as dramatic as possible, the stakes have to be high. THE MINE, then, presents two men, sharing the same blood, from different stages of life. One is young, one is older. One is on the side of ‘good’, one on the side of ‘evil’. Of course, the further along we get in the novel, the more the lines blur.

(They are, in a way, brought together by a mine. It should be said that the actual mine in the novel, while fictional, was indeed modeled after a very real and very catastrophic actual mine in northern Finland. There was a sort of a mining boom in Finland a few years ago and at this time a huge nickel mine in the north was opened. It was, and continues to be, an utter disaster from the beginning. When it was revealed how the business got its start, how it involved politicians and business people in a highly questionable manner and how phenomenally huge was, and continues to be, the tax-payers’ bill I felt I had to ask a few questions.)

The son in THE MINE is a journalist. A question I have many times heard is that if I see myself in him since I did some journalism between being a copywriter and a full time writer of novels. (I do see a slight resemblance in some things, yes, at least when relating to the business of writing.) But for some reason I’ve never heard the question: “Do you see yourself in the father, the sixty-year-old lonely hitman?” I find this strange. Because, obviously, I do.

This doesn’t mean that I approve of what the father is doing: going to work means, to him, killing folks. I don’t think that’s an acceptable way to spend your days. But he is in a very recognizable human situation with the people he feels closest to. They both are. And THE MINE shows these men at crossroads. They are more alike than they would like to admit. They are obsessed. They take pride in their work, and how good they are at it. They stop at nothing, and it costs them. They try to do good, but in trying, they hurt other people. They miscalculate, misbehave, misunderstand. They try their best, they really do. Finally, they are willing to do whatever it takes in behalf of each other. They’re family. I can relate to that. I can understand how their family matters to them, as mine matters to me.

***

Thank you very much for such a wonderful guest post, Antti.  I have a copy of The Mine on my TBR and I can’t wait to read it.  I find your description of the father, the sixty year old lonely hitman very intriguing. And, of course, I adore translated crime fiction!  Watch this space for a review coming your way soon.

The Mine by Antti Tuomainen was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 10th October 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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Smith & Sons (11)

antii-tuomainen-225x300Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labeled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen “The king of Helsinki Noir” when Dark as my Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula. Antti Tuomainen’s latest novel The Mine will be published by Orenda Books in 2016/17.

Author LinksTwitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Frailty by Betsy Reavley (@BetsyReavley) @BloodhoundBook

51uuj5m9qcl-_sx358_bo1204203200_How far would you go to protect your family?

Danny and Libby are about to face every parent’s worst nightmare.

When eight-year-old Hope Bird disappears without a trace, from the idyllic village where she lives, life for her family will never be the same again. Her parents know she would never have gone off alone and the police have no idea where she is. Then a child’s shoe is discovered and the case takes an unexpected turn. Soon a suspect is identified but this is only the beginning.

Will they ever find Hope?”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on Betsy Reavley’s Frailty blog tour.  I was thrilled to be one of the first readers to experience Betsy’s phenomenal last book, The Optician’s Wife in it’s early days.  You can read my review of TOW by clicking here.  Easily one of my books of the year!  Like The Optician’s Wife, Frailty is a standalone psychological thriller and the fifth novel from the pen of Ms Reavley.  I am over the moon to have both Carrion and The Quiet Ones on the #terrifyingTBR which I can’t wait to read as I am such a fan of Betsy’s writing (Frailty has only increased my level of ‘fangirling’).

The Bird family are your average, everyday, normal family.  That is until 8 year old Hope is kidnapped on her way back from the shops one summer’s day.  Her parents, Libby and Danny, are devastated, their lives turned upside down and younger sister, Gracie is left heartbroken and confused.  There are no ransom demands, no clues, nothing for the police to investigate.  That is until one of Hope’s shoes turns up in a bin.  The shoe leads the police to a suspect, someone they’ve had on their radar but no concrete evidence to go on before now.  But is he Hope’s kidnapper?  Danny certainly thinks so and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect his family and get his daughter home…

Betsy Reavley says in the acknowledgements of Frailty that it was the hardest book to write.  I can understand what she means.  As a mother of two, this for me was a difficult book to read.  The subject matter is a tough one.  You can’t help but think, no matter how fleetingly, how you would feel if it was your child that had gone missing.  It’s heartbreaking stuff, particularly as every so often you reach a chapter written from Hope’s point of view.  It will pull on your heartstrings and turn you to mush!  You have been warned.

I found it hard to warm to Danny but I liked and could easily relate to Libby.  Libby and Danny’s search for their daughter was a difficult read and I felt a little bogged down by the emotionally intense chapters.  Had the book only been about their search for Hope then I’m not sure I would have made it to the end.  But I knew with Betsy Reavley at the helm, there would be an almighty twist coming.  And there was!

The last half of this book made it for me.  The decision Danny makes, the completely unexpected outcome….absolutely brilliant.  The book picked up a great pace and I was completely absorbed.  I will say, however, by the time I was two thirds through, I had worked out who had taken Hope (I’m putting this down to my overly suspicious nature and the fact that I live and breathe crime novels; Frailty is not an obvious story and the reveal is quite astounding).

Would I recommend this book?  I would but prepare yourself for a tough read.  My heart ached for Hope. But I felt particularly sad and sorry for her sister Gracie, who seemed to be pushed to one side throughout (I have a Gracie myself, that may be the reason!).  Great twists and I loved the way the story built to that massive ‘Reavley twist’.  Looking forward to reading more from this author soon.

Four out of five stars.

Frailty by Betsy Reavley was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 15th November 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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Smith & Sons (11)

7730760Author of  The Quiet Ones, The Optician’s WifeCarrionBeneath the Watery Moon and the poetry collection The Worm in the Bottle. Betsy was born in Hammersmith, London.

As a child she moved around frequently with her family, spending time in London, Provence, Tuscany, Gloucestershire and Cambridgeshire.

She showed a flair for literature and writing from a young age and had a particular interest in poetry, of which she was a prolific consumer and producer.

In her early twenties she moved to Oxford, where she would eventually meet her husband. During her time in Oxford her interests turned from poetry to novels and she began to develop her own unique style of psychological thriller.

Betsy says “I believe people are at their most fascinating when they are faced by the dark side of life. This is what I like to write about.”

Betsy Reavley currently lives in London, with her husband, 2 children, dog, cat and chickens.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website |

#BookReview: My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor (@deboc77) @BonnierZaffre

6159lmdigml-_sx323_bo1204203200_You’d always recognise your own son. Wouldn’t you?

Heidi and Jason aren’t like other couples.

Six years ago, Heidi’s daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason’s son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together.

By chance, Heidi meets a boy she’s certain is Barney.

But Jason is equally convinced it’s not him.

Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi’s newfound quest for the truth . . “

Back in June 2016 I was thrilled to join the blog tour for this fabulous book.  At the time I was a little snowed under with reviews (erm…OK, I still am!) so featured an incredible guest post from author, Deborah O’Connor.  That guest post, to this day, is the most visited page on damppebbles.  If you would like a reminder of how brilliant it is, or if you missed it the first time round, please click here.

Heidi and Jason are a couple brought together by grief and by the loss of their children. Heidi’s daughter, Lauren was snatched from outside their holiday home and brutally murdered.  One year later, Jason’s son, Barney is taken whilst out with his mum.  Lauren’s body was discovered, Barney has never been found.  Five years later, Heidi sees a child who she is convinced is Barney.  She’s so sure that she takes Jason to the place where she saw him so he can see for himself.  But he’s not so sure.  Surely he would know his own son, get some sort of…’feeling’.  But he doesn’t.  The child is not Barney.  Heidi however is convinced, making it her mission to find out the truth.  But even with the best intentions, will she be able to cope with everything she discovers…?

I’M VERY CONCERNED THAT THE REST OF THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS SO I’M GOING TO LEAVE THIS HERE, JUST IN CASE IT DOES!

I’ve been so busy reading for blog tours over the last few months that I’m afraid this book, despite my strong desire to read it, was put to one side.  Everytime I opened my Kindle, there it was, begging me to read it.  So by the time I found a spare 10 hours (I’m a slow reader) to read My Husband’s Son my expectations were unusually high.  But I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed.  It’s a brilliantly written, eerie psychological thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Jason and Heidi have a strange relationship which made me feel a little uncomfortable.  It felt at times more of a marriage of convenience than one built on love.  A case of ‘Oh, this person understands what I’m going through, they’ll do!’.  I found it hard to warm to both characters, although I will say that I loved Heidi’s determination towards her cause.  Despite being told countless times that she was wrong there was no way she was going to stop looking for Barney.

The other predominant relationship in the book was the one between Tommy and Heidi and boy, did it made my skin crawl!  I was repulsed by Tommy and the invisible hold he seemed to have over Heidi.  I wanted her to run as far away from him as possible and his revolting lecherous ways.  Brilliant writing from Ms O’Connor, it’s not often that this level of disgust is raised within me by one character!

You may have read other reviews that mention a big twist as you approach the end of the book.  You may have also seen reviewers say that they had to go back and read the final chapters a second time.  Well, I can tell you, it’s a corker of a twist and testament once again to the incredible writing and storytelling prowess of Deborah O’Connor.  I was struggling to see how the book was going to end so the reveal knocked my socks off!

Would I recommend this book?  If you’re in the mood for an eerie, heart pounding psychological thriller then make a beeline for My Husband’s Son.  I really enjoyed it and would read more from Ms O’Connor in a heartbeat.  And can you really bear to miss out on THAT twist…?

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of My Husband’s Son.

My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor was published in the UK by Twenty7 on 6th October 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Twenty7Books |

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deborah-oconnor

Deborah O’Connor is a writer and TV producer. Born and bred in the North-East of England, in 2010 she completed the Faber Academy novel writing course. She lives in London with her husband and daughter.

Author Links:Twitter | Website | Goodreads | Facebook |

 

#BlogTour #BookReview: A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley (@detectivekubu) @OrendaBooks

51rRel5hflL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_‘There’s no easy way to say this, Kubu. Your father’s dead. I’m afraid he’s been murdered.’

“Faced with the violent death of his own father, even Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu, Botswana CID’s keenest mind, is baffled. Who would kill such a frail old man? The picture becomes even murkier with the apparent suicide of a government official. Are Chinese mine-owners involved? And what role does the US Embassy have to play?

Set amidst the dark beauty of modern Botswana, A Death in the Family is a thrilling insight into a world of riots, corruption and greed, as a complex series of murders presents the opera-loving, wine connoisseur detective with his most challenging case yet. When grief-stricken Kubu defies orders and sets out on the killers’ trail, startling and chilling links emerge, spanning the globe and setting a sequence of shocking events in motion. Will Kubu catch the killers in time … and find justice for his father?”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the A Death in the Family blog tour.  A Death in the Family is book 5 in the Detective Kubu series written by brilliant writing team, Michael Stanley (Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip).

It’s so good to have Kubu back!  At the start of August I had my first introduction to the very likeable Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu when I reviewed the wonderful Deadly Harvest.  If you missed that review, you can check it out by clicking here.  I was so looking forward to catching up with the man affectionately named ‘hippo’ once again and I was not disappointed!  It was a joy to read this book so soon after Deadly Harvest as the characters and the stunning setting of Botswana, were still fresh in my mind.

Assistant Superintendent Bengu receives a call in the middle of the night telling him that his father is dead.  A parent passing is bad enough but Kubu’s world crumbles when he discovers his father has been murdered.  He’s keen to start working on the case but Director Mabaku puts a halt on any involvement immediately.  Instead Kubu is tasked with investigating the apparent suicide of a government official.  Elsewhere the people of Shoshong are on the brink of catastrophe.  Having been offered jobs, the young men are keen to encourage the expansion of the local Chinese-run mine, but the Chief and Elders are more concerned about upholding tradition.  Anger starts to build and is set to erupt with explosive consequences.  Chock full of suspense, intrigue and corruption; will Kubu manage to find the cause of the official’s death, and more importantly, can he discover who killed his elderly father…?

I was surprisingly saddened by Kubu’s father’s death, having only met him once before in Deadly Harvest.  He seemed like such a kind gentle man that I found his murder quite unsettling (I’d read the back of the book and was fully expecting it – maybe I’m just a softie!).  I fell a little more in love with Kubu this time around, despite him being a relatively normal kind of guy and not my usual dark and dangerous detective.  You find out a lot more about him and what makes him tick in this book.  My feelings towards Samantha Khama haven’t changed one iota, I still dislike the woman!  She really doesn’t do herself any favours in my eyes. So I was rather pleased that Kubu was a touch colder towards her.

The plot was clever, intricate and interesting throughout.  My husband studied geology at university so we had a lovely chat about mining for minerals and rare earth elements (he chatted, I listened…I’m still none the wiser!).

I’m still amazed that two people can write so well together yet make it sound like one voice. Just goes to show what fantastic writer’s Mr Sears and Mr Trollip are!

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would.  I think it works well as a standalone.  I, however, enjoyed it more because the characters and the landscapes were familiar to me.  A cleverly written police procedural which is full of mystery and suspense featuring some wonderful characters – what’s not to love?

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of A Death in the Family in exchange for an honest review.

A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th July 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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A1tzuKdGl0L._UX250_Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award. The next in the Detective Kubu series is A Death in the Family, also published by Orenda Books.  Connect with Michael Stanley via Twitter @detectivekubu.

 

#BookReview: Brick by Conrad Jones (@ConradJones)

51JlDcCMTvL“When a teenager is the victim of an unprovoked attack while walking his dog, a murder investigation begins.

A cruel twist of fate makes his innocent family the targets of a vicious campaign of terror.

As the detectives of Liverpool’s Major Investigation Team try to contain the violence, several key members of an organised crime family begin to topple, causing shock waves across the planet.”

Apologies to those suffering from a sense of deja vu right about now.  My recent jet-setting lifestyle (that’s Great Yarmouth, Tavistock and Newquay!) seems to have sapped my ability to use wordpress (or it’s had an update, or I just pressed the wrong button!). Many thanks to those who liked and shared this post earlier today but here’s the full version, rather than the abridged!

This is a great book which I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.  One of those where you can easily lose a couple of hours by becoming so drawn into the story that you don’t really notice what’s going on around you.  Such a GREAT read and I will be adding Conrad Jones to my ‘authors to keep an eye out for’ list.

Bryn is your average 14 year old lad.  He keeps himself out of trouble, has two older brothers who do the same thing and two fairly useless parents.  He’s a normal, likeable young man.  But life changes for Bryn when he encounters ‘the fat man’ whilst out walking his beloved pet dog, Alice.  After exchanging a few choice words, Bryn is chased through the local park by ‘the fat man’ and his much more athletic avenger.  Bryn suffers the beating of his short life, beaten to a messy pulp.  Exhausted and bloodied but desperate to save his dog, Bryn reaches out for the nearest object to stop the battering and finds a house brick.  Before long a murder investigation is underway and Bryn’s family are the main focus of a revenge driven organised crime family with international links.  Can they survive the reign of terror brought against them…?

Bryn is so lovely that you can’t help feeling shocked by what happens to him throughout the book; from that first savage beating and everything else that occurs after that.  There were some real jaw dropping moments for me, I felt outraged for Bryn.  How could this poor, sweet lad become a murderer (albeit, accidentally).  If you’ve read this book, did you feel the same?  I’d be interested to know.

The links between the crime families were intricate and I enjoyed seeing how one family could easily wipe out another, along with the lengths the characters would go to to protect their own backs.  There’s almost a domino effect going on which I found immensely satisfying.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It has a great plot with characters you will love and characters you will loathe, the perfect balance of good versus evil.  You’ll be cheering Bryn and his family on, hoping they all make it to the end in one piece (do they? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out).  I mentioned it earlier and I will say it again, I will be keeping an eye out for Conrad Jones’s books in the future and I would love to read more of this author’s work.

Four out of five stars.

Many thanks to #TBConFB and Conrad Jones for a copy of Brick in exchange for an honest review.

Brick by Conrad Jones was published in the UK by The Thriller Factory on 25th July 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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cj1Conrad Jones is a best selling thriller writer with three thriller series published.

The Soft Target Series 6 books
The Detective Alec Ramsay Series 6 books
The Hunting Angels Diaries (horror) 3 books.

11 of his books are available in audio and his novels have been translated into six languages.

He is always keen to talk to readers and writers alike, jonesconrad5@aol.com

Facebook: Conrad Jones Author
Twitter: @ConradJones

Beneath The Surface by Heidi Perks

41rHtp6Oe6L._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_“I don’t know where you are…

I don’t know what I’ve done…

Teenager Abigail Ryder is devastated when she gets home from school to find her family gone. Nothing makes sense. Things are missing from the house and her stepsisters’ room is completely empty. But the police think she’s trouble, and when grandmother Eleanor tells her to forget them all and move on, there’s no choice other than face the future – alone.

Fourteen years on, Abi and Adam are a happy couple on the verge of parenthood. But when the past comes back to haunt Abi, the only way forward is to go back and uncover the truth – and reveal the dreadful secrets a mother has been hiding all these years.”

I had heard so many great things about this book that I jumped at the chance to read it.  I can see why people absolutely love it, but I’m afraid I didn’t so much.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great read and I did enjoy it.  It was just missing something for me (when I work out what ‘something’ is I’ll let you know).  I’m still umming and ahhing over my star rating, hopefully I can decide before I reach the end of this review!

Abigail, a sulky teenager, returns home one day after school to find her mother and twin sisters have packed up and left.  Where?  She has no idea.  Luckily her grandmother, Eleanor, is on hand to explain the situation to the police and calm everything down.  She hands Abi a wodge of cash and tells her to get on with her life which Abi does with the aplomb of a teenager; drink, drugs, nightclubs.

Before long Abigail has moved on with her life, but something is missing.  She makes a disastrous decision which leaves her painfully alone.  Deep down she knows what she needs to do, and that’s find her twin sisters.  Fourteen years have passed but she knows it won’t be easy.  Secrets and lies rule her family, they are interwoven into the very heart of it.  She couldn’t find them then, does she have any hope of finding them now…?

The story is told from three perspectives; Abigail, her mother Kathryn and the twins, Hannah and Lauren.  I couldn’t stand Kathryn.  It’s been a while since one character in a book made me feel such repulsion and disgust.  Granted, there were other things going on with her but aaarrggghh…I wanted to shake her.  The obvious villain, Eleanor, didn’t register anywhere near Kathryn on my ‘I don’t like this character’ scale *shudder*.  Abigail’s story is told in the form of letters to her husband, Adam.  I found this a clever way of bringing further layers into this dark story.

Abigail and the girls are well written and I did warm to all three; maybe less towards Lauren but I think that is what Heidi Perks would want.  I loved Abigail’s feistyness, particularly during one scene towards the end of the book (can’t say anymore without spoilers).  I was cheering Abi on and was incredibly pleased when the scene ended the way it did.

I’m afraid to say I did find Beneath The Surface a little obvious in places.  Saying that, I still enjoyed the book – I just gave myself a little pat on the back for spotting what was coming!  The story flows well and I was engaged throughout.  It’s well written and I liked Heidi Perks’ style.  I would definitely read more of Heidi’s work.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, but for me it lacked pizzazz.  I think I wanted a little more oomph but can’t begin to tell you how or where that oomph needed to be!  After some intense pondering I have come to the conclusion that Beneath The Surface and I just weren’t a good match.  It’s a great book, it just wasn’t for me.

Three and a half out of five stars.

Many thanks to Anna at Red Door Publishing for providing me with a copy of Beneath The Surface in exchange for an honest review.

Beneath The Surface by Heidi Perks was published in the UK by Red Door Publishing on 24th March 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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wgf_NGsm_400x400Heidi Perks was born in October 1973 in Bournemouth. She loved writing as a child, and spent many hours making up stories, poems and even magazines that she would sell to her family for 20p.

 She graduated from Bournemouth University in 1997 with a BA (Hons) in Retail Management, and then moved to London to start a career in marketing. But it wouldn’t be long before she moved back to the south coast again, where her career developed further.

 In 2009 her daughter, Bethany, was born, followed two years later by a son, Joseph. Thrown into the new world of motherhood Heidi decided to make some changes to her life. She left her job and in 2012 took pen to paper and starting writing a novel based on an idea she had on holiday six months earlier.

 The following year her application for a place on the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative online Novel Writing Course was accepted. Heidi became one of fifteen writers who were all coming together in an online space with the same dream: to improve their writing and their novels. With the benefit of experienced authors and agents to hand Heidi decided to make the most of the opportunity by starting a new book. And so the first chapters of Beneath The Surface were born.

 With the guidance of agent Sheila Crowley, and the help and support of Clare Christian and Heather Boisseau of Red Door publishing, Heidi is finally realising her dream of seeing her first book in print. Beneath The Surface is due out 24 March 2016.

 Heidi is now writing her next novel.

Connect with Heidi on Twitter @heidiperks1 or visit her website.

*Blog Tour: Review* Outside Looking In by Michael Wood

51-x44K35eL“When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead.

The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.”

I’m thrilled to be today’s stop on the Outside Looking In blog tour.  In true damppebbles style, this is the first DCI Matilda Darke book I have read despite it being the second book in the series (at least I’m not too late to the party with this one!).  And oh my gosh, I love Matilda Darke.  And I love Michael Wood’s style.  Totally readable and very engrossing.

The bodies of a couple are discovered in their car following what looks like a massacre.  He is dead, beyond resuscitating and she is barely hanging onto life.  DCI Matilda Darke is put on the case and soon discovers the victims are Kevin Hardaker and Lois Craven who were having a secret affair for over a year.  But why would someone kill these two fairly normal people, and why with such vengeance and hatred?  Suffering from negative publicity and her own demons, can Matilda discover who killed the couple and why, before anyone else is hurt…?

I should start by saying that DCI Darke has made it onto the illustrious damppebbles #girlcrush list.  I LOVE her.  She’s so wonderfully normal, the kind of person I’d like to pop down to Costa with for a coffee (I would say ‘pub’ and ‘white wine’ but she’s on the wagon!).  Thankfully I have the first book in the series, ‘For Reasons Unknown’ on my TBR so I can get my second fix of DCI Darke, ha ha!  Anyway, enough of my new womance…

The pacing of the plot is spot on with the story unfolding at a thoroughly enjoyable rate.  I wanted to keep turning the pages, I wanted to find out what was going to happen.  There was a moment where I felt pure dread for one character.  I won’t say anymore as I don’t do spoilers but oh my!

The conclusion is gripping and kept me on the edge of my seat.  There is encounter at the end of the book which I hope Michael Wood will be building on in the third book.  I’m looking forward to seeing where that particular story line goes.

This book does work as a standalone but I think it helps (no matter what the series or who the author) to read books in their correct order.  I wasn’t sure whether the missing child case that is mentioned often is something that was covered in book one or if it happened in the distant past.  I think going into a series partway through does leaving you feeling like you’ve missed a couple of important days at school!

I loved the nod to other great crime writers (being a crime fiction fanatic!).  I was hugely jealous of Matilda’s book inheritance and could immediately picture the bookcase she would need (boy, would it be big!).  If anyone would like to donate their crime fiction collection to me, the address is Emma @damppebbles….heh heh.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would but I think starting at book one is the best way forward.  Outside Looking In is totally compelling, thoroughly engaging and you’ll really like DCI Matilda Darke.

Four and a half out of five stars.

Outside Looking In by Michael Wood was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 26th May 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Smith & Sons (11)71KOZKetCmL._UX250_

Michael Wood is a proofreader and former journalist in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. His first novel featuring DCI Matilda Darke, FOR REASONS UNKNOWN, was released in the autumn of 2015. The follow-up, OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, is released in May 2016 in ebook format by Killer Reads at HarperCollins.

 

*Blog Tour: Review* Anything For Her by Jack Jordan

512pzL5FFaL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_

“Sometimes the past comes back to haunt you.

Louise Leighton’s life has fallen apart, all because of one fateful night. Her husband is an adulterer, her sister is his mistress, and soon, Louise will lose everything she owns. But she never imagined she would lose her daughter.

Eighteen-year-old Brooke Leighton is missing. It’s up to Louise and the Metropolitan Police to find her. Has Brooke run away? Or has she been taken against her will? And can Louise aid the investigation without mentioning the night where all of her troubles began?

If she mentions that night, she will incriminate her daughter for heinous crimes. But if she doesn’t, she may never find Brooke; and if she has been abducted, the person who took her may come for Louise, too.

Sometimes the past comes back to kill you.”

I am delighted to be part of the Anything For Her blog tour today.  Many thanks to Jack Jordan for asking me to participate.  Anything For Her is Jack’s debut novel with his second, My Girl, published in July 2016.

The sense of foreboding in this book is spine tingling.  As soon as you start reading you know that something about these characters, something they’ve done, is catastrophic. From start to finish my heart rate increased by a few beats a minutes and I felt tense, waiting…

Louise Leighton’s life is falling apart.  Everything that can go wrong is, and it’s going wrong with bells on it!  Her husband has been cheating on her, with her sister. Her husband is about to be arrested for tax evasion and fraud (seems the husband is to blame for most of her misery!).  She and her family are about to lose everything they own in order to pay her husband’s debts.  But worst of all, Louise has a secret.  Now her daughter is missing and deep down Louise knows it’s all because of THAT night. The night life changed forever for the Leighton family…

This book is chock full of suspense.  It’s an ‘edge of your seat’ read and very hard to put down once you start (I read it in a day which is very quick for me).  The only character I really warmed to was the lovely Dominic, Louise’s young son.  Everyone else has a slightly sinister edge which makes it a challenge to like them.  I really wanted to like Louise but she is so flawed that I failed, miserably.  Plus I’m really not all that sure about her style of parenting!  I’m definitely not a perfect mum myself but, oh my!

I found certain parts of the story quite creepy.  There is one scene (I’m trying very hard to not give anything away for those that haven’t read it yet) where Louise wakes up in bed after a heavy night on the wine to find she is not alone.  Just thinking about it now makes me shudder!

I have Jack Jordan’s new book, My Girl, to read and I’m very much looking forward to it. Even more so after reading this his debut novel.  Oh, and did I mention that I’m on the blog tour for My Girl too?

Four and a half out of five stars.

Many thanks to Jack Jordan for providing me with a copy of Anything For Her in exchange for an honest review.

Anything For Her by Jack Jordan was published in the UK on 21st June 2015 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com |

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Photo by Titus Powell

Jack Jordan lives in East Anglia, England. He is an introvert disguised as an extrovert, an intelligent person who can say very unintelligent things, and a self-confessed bibliomaniac with more books than sense. ‘Anything for Her’ is Jack Jordan’s debut novel.

Connect with Jack via Twitter @_JackJordan_

 

 

 

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