#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: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides @orionbooks @orion_crime #TheSilentPatient #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the silent patient

“Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.

When she shot her husband in the head five times.

Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word.

It’s time to find out why.

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my sixteenth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. The Silent Patient was published by Orion Books on 12th December 2019 and is available in all formats.

So this book is huge. And with all hugely hyped, extremely popular novels, I feel like I’m one of the last people to read it. I’m sure that’s not actually the case but, you know how it is sometimes (back to those #bookwormproblems I often mention). I’ll be honest, I was a bit dubious before making a start on this one. Will it live up to what I’ve heard? Will I see the big twist coming and will that dampen the whole reading experience for me? Read on to find out…

Alicia Berenson is a household name for all the wrong reasons. The seemingly happy, contented artist had everything. Then, one day, she waited for her husband to return home where she shot him in the head five times. Stood with a smoking gun and blood on her hands, she was arrested, found guilty and sent to The Grove, a secure psychiatric hospital in London. Never having uttered a single word. Not to the police, not to defend herself in court, nor to her doctors. Alicia remained silent throughout. What happened that night six years ago remains a complete mystery. But psychotherapist, Theo Faber, believes he has the skill, knowledge and patience to get through to Alicia. To break down the barriers and discover the truth about what happened that fateful night…

Told from Theo’s point of view and diary entries written by Alicia in the run up to the murder, the reader is thrown straight into this compelling story from the very start. We watch as Theo takes tentative steps in trying to connect on some level with Alicia. Often with little reaction from her, or the occasional aggressive and violent outburst. I couldn’t work Alicia out at all. Nothing following the murder is given away in regards to her character or her motivation. What is she thinking, what is she feeling? I had no idea and I think the author has done an absolutely cracking job of writing her so that you are left wondering for a large proportion of the book. The diary entries don’t really help as it’s hard to relate the shell of the woman she becomes with the woman she was before the murder. Despite all of this, I wanted to like Alicia.

This is a very easy to read book and I finished it in a couple of sittings. There were certain aspects of the story where I found my attention wavering though, but it all made sense when I reached the end of the book. I can’t say too much more about that as I’m bound to say something I shouldn’t! If you’ve seen any other reviews of The Silent Patient then you may be aware there’s a fairly substantial twist (it’s a psychological thriller – it comes with the territory, no?) but I felt oddly let down by it. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was that didn’t wow me but I felt a little disappointed. The way the story concluded was very satisfying though.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Silent Patient is a well-written and highly entertaining novel to wile away a few hours and I enjoyed it. With a cast of interesting characters – some you’ll like, others you may loathe – it’s a twisty and compelling book which I would recommend to anyone who hasn’t read it yet (all three of you, lol!).

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was published in the UK by Orion Books on 12th December 2019 and is available in hardcover, paperback, 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 | Foyles | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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alex michaelidesBorn in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother, I studied English literature at Cambridge University and got my MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. I wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and co-wrote The Con is On (2018), starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara. THE SILENT PATIENT is my first novel.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Never Look Back by A.L. Gaylin (@orionbooks) @Tr4cyF3nt0n #NeverLookBack #damppebbles

never look backShe was the most brutal killer of our time. And she may have been my mother…

When website columnist Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it’s a business matter. It’s not. Quentin’s podcast, Closure, focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s, committed by teen couple April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy. It seems that Quentin has reason to believe Robin’s own mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin’s claim is absurd. But is it? The more she researches the Cooper/LeRoy murders herself, the more disturbed she becomes by what she finds. Living just a few blocks from her, Robin’s beloved parents are the one absolute she’s always been able to rely upon, especially now amid rising doubts about her husband and frequent threats from internet trolls. Robin knows her mother better than anyone.

But then her parents are brutally attacked, and Robin realises she doesn’t know the truth at all…”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my stop on the Never Look Back blog tour. Never Look Back is the latest release from the brilliant A.L. Gaylin and it will be available to purchase in paperback later this week (on the 6th February – mark it in your diaries!). If you can’t wait that long – and who could blame you, because it’s brilliant – then it’s currently available in all other formats.

It won’t surprise you to hear that I am a huge fan of A.L. Gaylin’s books. If Alison has written it, then I’ve probably purchased a copy without even reading the blurb. Yup – her books are THAT good. I’m not sure there are many other authors I could say that about. Never Look Back is a stellar addition to Gaylin’s catalogue and I savoured each and every moment of it.

Podcast creator Quentin Garrison is investigating a cold case. A mass killing spree carried out by two teenage lovers known as the Inland Empire Killers, in the late 70s. The terrifying spree finally halted by the death of killers April Cooper and her boyfriend, Gabriel LeRoy, in a fire. But Quentin has his own connection to the tragic events of all those years ago and he needs closure. When a brand new lead is handed to the podcast team, Quentin contacts website columnist Robin Diamond and puts a startling suggestion to her. Robin dismisses the claim as preposterous, but what follows will change their lives forever. How well do we really know those closest to us…?

This is another brilliant character-driven thriller from Gaylin. I was totally immersed in the story from the first page and I struggled to put the book down for any length of time. The first half to two-thirds of the book, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Then the story beds itself in and the pace slows a little but it was just as captivating, just as chilling and just as mesmerising as the beginning.

Told in dual timelines, we see how the accusations affect those involved in the present day. I often found myself asking, ‘how well do we really know the people we’re closest to?’. We also get to see life thorough April’s eyes via letters to her future daughter, Aurora Grace. After all, all April wants from life is to be a mother. Young April Cooper is by far the most fascinating character and despite reading this book a couple of weeks ago, I still think about her often. I really liked her (I am strange and it’s quite normal for me to like the villain in a book) but I also felt sorry for her.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, yes and yes again. I LOVED this book. A.L. Gaylin can do no wrong in my eyes. This is another stunning character-driven thriller which I flew through and have been recommending to everyone since. If you’re looking for a family-focussed suspense novel with secrets and lies galore then you should definitely give Never Look Back a go. After all, how can you resist that tagline…

Never Look Back MMP Blog Tour

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AL Gaylin

USA Today and International Best-selling author Alison Gaylin has been nominated for the Edgar four times. Most recently, her thriller IF I DIE TONIGHT, won the award in the category Best Paperback Original.

Her critically acclaimed suspense novels have been published in such countries as the U.K., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Japan and Romania.

She has won the Shamus and RT Reviewers Choice Awards for her books, and has been nominated for the ITW Thriller, Anthony and Strand Book Awards. Her books have been on the bestseller lists in the US, Germany and Belgium.  NEVER LOOK BACK (March, 2018 from William Morrow) is her eleventh book.

NORMANDY GOLD, the graphic novel she wrote with Megan Abbott, is out from Titan/Hard Case Crime in April, 2018.

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

#R3COMM3ND3D2019 with #Author Margaret Kirk (@HighlandWriter) @orionbooks @orion_crime #WhatLiesBuried #LukasMahler #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #Publishedin2019 #HighlandNoir

Hello, happy Saturday and a very warm welcome to the blog today! I hope you have some bookish plans in store for your weekend. We’re sixteen days into this year’s #R3COMM3ND3D and I am thrilled to welcome our first author of 2019 – Margaret Kirk. Margaret is the author of the Lukas Mahler series and her latest release, What Lies Buried, was published in June this year. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about What Lies Buried after we’ve found out which three books Margaret recommends!

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2019? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors and book bloggers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2019. To make things interesting I have added a couple of teeny, tiny rules this year which are; 1) the book must have first been published in 2019 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes 😉.

Here are the three books Margaret recommends…

the closer I get.jpg

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston
An unsettling twist on the pitfalls of social media – unpredictable and well-constructed.

the devil aspect.jpg

The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell
A stunning Gothic novel set in pre-war Prague. Masterful and utterly compelling.

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Cage (Reykjavik Noir Trilogy) by Lilja Sigurðardóttir
Superbly constructed Nordic crime thriller by a mistress of the craft.

Thanks so much for your great choices, Margaret. I have The Closer I Get on the terrifying TBR and I can’t wait to read it!

If Margaret has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books she recommends, please see the following links:

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston
The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell
Cage by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

About What Lies Buried:What Lies Buried

THE BRILLIANTLY COMPELLING SECOND NOVEL IN THE DI LUKAS MAHLER SERIES

A missing child. A seventy-year-old murder. And a killer who’s still on the loose.

Ten year-old Erin is missing; taken in broad daylight during a friend’s birthday party. With no witnesses and no leads, DI Lukas Mahler races against time to find her. But is it already too late for Erin – and will her abductor stop at one stolen child?

And the discovery of human remains on a construction site near Inverness confronts Mahler’s team with a cold case from the 1940s. Was Aeneas Grant’s murder linked to a nearby POW camp, or is there an even darker story to be uncovered?

With his team stretched to the limit, Mahler’s hunt for Erin’s abductor takes him from Inverness to the Lake District. And decades-old family secrets link both cases in a shocking final twist.

Buy What Lies Buried:
| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Waterstones | Foyles |

About Margaret Kirk:
Runrig and Julie Fowlis fan Margaret Kirk writes ‘Highland Noir’ Scottish crime fiction, set in and around her home town of Inverness.

Her debut novel, Shadow Man, won the Good Housekeeping First Novel Competition in 2016. Described as ‘a harrowing and horrific game of consequences’ by Val McDermid, it was published in 2017. Book 2 in the DI Lukas Mahler series, What Lies Buried, is out now.

Margaret’s Social Media Links:
| Blog | Twitter @HighlandWriter | Facebook |

If you’re a book blogger, author or you work in publishing and have three books published this year that you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/PE483qCyrKEgV5Uq6)

#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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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 Dark Room by Jonathan Moore @orionbooks #TheDarkRoom #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (5/15)

the dark room.jpgThey thought they’d buried their secrets 
Homicide inspector Gavin Cain is standing by a grave when he gets the call. Cain knows there’s something terrible in the coffin they’re about to exhume. He and his team have received a dying man’s confession and it has led them here.

But death doesn’t guarantee silence
Cain is summoned by Mayor Castelli, who has been sent sinister photographs of a woman that he claims he doesn’t know and a note threatening that worse are on their way.

And now light will be shone on a very dark place…
As Cain tries to identify the woman in the pictures, and looks into the mayor’s past, he finds himself being drawn towards a situation as horrifying and as full of secrets as the grave itself.”

Welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted today to be sharing my review of The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore which I have selected as one of my #15BooksofSummer challenge reads.  The Dark Room was published by Orion Books on 27th July 2017 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats. I received an eARC of The Dark Room but this has in no way influenced my review.

I read Jonathan Moore’s The Poison Artist back in 2017 and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was whilst sharing that review that a fellow book blogger, someone whose opinion I really respect, suggested I give The Dark Room a go.  Unfortunately, due to being the slowest of readers and having a burgeoning NetGalley TBR, I have only recently gotten around to it.  The Dark Room felt a little different to The Poison Artist in tone but is still a very enjoyable read.

Inspector Gavin Cain of the San Francisco Police Department is about to get some answers as he stands by the recently exhumed grave of a thirty-year-old corpse.  That is until his Lieutenant calls and orders him to the Mayor’s Office – she’s sending a chopper and there’s no time to waste.  Cain arrives, is introduced to Mayor Castelli and takes what seems like an instant dislike to the man.  The Mayor confides that he has received a number of potentially incriminating photographs in the post along with a threatening note.  These are the first four snaps.  There are another eight to come.  The note suggests that maybe the Mayor would like to commit suicide before the photographs fall into the wrong hands and he is exposed.  Castelli claims to not know who the woman is and wants Cain to discover her identity.  But the Mayor is hiding something and the further back into the Mayor’s past Cain digs, the more secrets he uncovers…

This is a slow burn, noirish thriller set in San Francisco.  The slow drip of information as you watch the case unfold and as Cain joins the dots makes it an enjoyable read.  Helped along by the wonderful setting and the fascinating characters.  And, having read this author before, I can safely say he likes to throw the odd shock twist into the story to give his readers a bit of a start.  Cain is an interesting chap and one I would happily read more of if this were a series (it’s not, it’s a standalone).  He’s a very experienced SFPD Inspector and takes no bull (not even from the Mayor or his Lieutenant).  I don’t feel the reader really gets to know him though.  You learn so much more about his partner, piano teacher Lucy, than you do about him.  Maybe he’s meant to be more of an enigma – after all, there’s only so far you can go with a character when they feature in only one book.  Other characters in the book are well drawn, particularly the Mayor’s daughter, Alexa, who drove me crazy.

The ending absolutely fitted the story and it was the right way for the author to go but I was left feeling a little disappointed.  I think that says more about me than the writing though.  I wanted something a little more showy, more of a BANG than what we’re given.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes.  It’s an absorbing police procedural which pulls you in from start to finish – you just HAVE to know how this one is going to end.  If you’re a fan of a slower paced crime read with a cast of intriguing characters then absolutely, you will enjoy this book.  Recommended.

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

The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore was published in the UK by Orion Books on 27th July 2017 and is available in paperback, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepository | Goodreads |

15 books of summer

about-the-author3

jonathan-moore.jpgJonathan Moore is a Bram Stoker Award nominated author of five novels. His third novel, THE POISON ARTIST, was a selection of the BBC Radio 2 Book Club. His novels have been translated into seven languages.

Before graduating from law school in New Orleans, he lived in Taiwan for three years, guided whitewater raft trips on the Rio Grande, and worked as an investigator for a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C. He has also been an English teacher, a bar owner, a counsellor at a wilderness camp for juvenile delinquents, and a textbook writer.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website |

 

 

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

the craftsman.jpg“Devoted father or merciless killer?

His secrets are buried with him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five out of five stars.

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

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

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about the author3

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

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

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

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

#Giveaway: Hangman by Daniel Cole | @TrapezeBooks | #5star #crimefiction #BookOfTheMonthMarch2018 #UKOnly #Win

hangman cover“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?!

*Sigh*, it’s true.  damppebbles.com IS the blog that just keeps on giving (it’s a hard life being this generous, hahaha).  Last week I was offering a paperback copy of Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic (congratulations to the winner, Lorna Cassidy).  Today I have another stonking book on offer to one lucky UK winner.

This time it is the FABULOUS, the deliciously dark and altogether incredible HANGMAN, book two in the Ragdoll series.  I loved this book.  I mean, I really, REALLY loved this book.  To read my full review, click HERE.  Alternatively, here are a few snippets from my review to whet your appetite:

“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 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.”

“Would I recommend this book? Totally. I loved it.”

Yup, I think I liked it.  If you would like the chance to win a hardback copy of HANGMAN by Daniel Cole please retweet THIS tweet and tag at least three UK book-loving friends.

Giveaway ends at midday (BST) on Thursday 19th April 2018.  The winner will be selected at random and will be contacted via Twitter.  The winner will need to provide their address so I can send the prize.  There is no cash alternative.  The winner’s address will not be stored.  UK entrants only I’m afraid due to postage costs.  Only retweets of my pinned tweet will count.  Shares of this post to social media won’t, I’m afraid.

Good luck everyone!

about the author3

daniel coleDaniel 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 |

#BookReview: Ragdoll by Daniel Cole (@Daniel_P_Cole) @TrapezeBooks

ragdoll.jpg“A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together, nicknamed by the press as the ‘Ragdoll’.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes & Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?”

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole is a book which has been sat on my bookshelf for some time now giving me the eye.  I have been desperate to read this intriguing tale for such a long time, and I have finally managed to do so!  Let’s face it, regular readers of the blog will know that I like my crime fiction with lots of bodies and blood.  In fact, the gorier, the better.  So on hearing that the killer creates a ragdoll made of severed limbs and various other body parts….well, there was no way I could pass this one by!

Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes is a rather notorious figure in the MET.  His career hit an all-time low during the trial of London’s most feared serial killer, The Cremation Killer.  After taking several years to himself Wolf is back in the midst of the action and facing down a new killer.  Except this one has provided a list of the intended victims and the dates they will die, alongside a macabre ragdoll which, coincidentally, points with a long-dead finger to Wolf’s newly leased apartment.  Wolf and his former partner, Detective Emily Baxter are on the case but will they be able to save the victims before it’s too late…?

I really wanted to like both Wolf and Emily Baxter but I’m afraid neither managed to provoke much of a reaction in me, I neither liked them or loathed them.  Out of the two characters, Emily Baxter was the harder to like as she came across as quite needy at times and her desire to be more than colleagues with Wolf was quite stomach churning.  But that’s me, I would happily go without a romantic interest in the books I read for, well, all eternity if I could.  Fawning over a bloke, particularly a bloke like Wolf, made her feel quite cringe-worthy to me.  This may be due to Ragdoll being the first book in the series.  There have been several occasions before where I haven’t like the lead characters in book one, only to warm to them as the series progresses.  I’m excited to see what Cole is planning next, and the good news is we don’t have to wait long.  Hangman, the second Ragdoll book, will be published in March 2018!

What I absolutely loved and what I have to commend the author on, is the fabulously inventive and original ways in which he killed off a number of the characters.  Reading this book and discovering how the next murder was carried out was like catnip to me.  I had to carry on reading, I became quite feverous wanting to know what ingenious way the killer was going to strike next.  Absolutely blinking brilliant from start to finish and I couldn’t stop reading.  I also enjoyed how Cole linked the past and the present, making sure Wolf was fully aware that he was involved in this process, whether he liked it or not!

Would I recommend this book?  Yes, I would.  This is a must read if you’re a fan of grisly crime fiction (a bit like me really!).  I can’t wait to see where Cole will take his characters next, particularly with that chilling last line of Ragdoll.  Incredibly compelling, highly inventive and full of surprises.  I very much enjoyed Ragdoll.

Four out of five stars.

Ragdoll by Daniel Cole was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 19th October 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (the following Amazon links are affiliate links)
| amazon.co.ukamazon.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 |

#BookReview: The Wrong Child by #BarryGornell @orionbooks @orion_crime @BenWillisUK

the wrong child.jpg“Twenty-one of the 22 children in a rural village die in a disaster. By chance, the ‘wrong’ child, Dog Evans, lives. Crippled with survivor’s guilt, his parents abandon Evans to a feral life at the margins. He is shunned by those left behind, for whom his presence is a daily insult, a reminder of unbearable loss.

As the action moves from past to present and back, we learn what took place and its shocking consequences for both Dog Evans and the wider community. Gornell’s forensic gaze dissects the lives of the bereaved, fractured relationships and existences frozen the day their children died….

Deborah Cutter, separated from her husband, John, numbs her pain with alcohol and sex. Local postman Nugget holds tight to the hope that the Evans house contains valuable secrets. Parish priest Father Wittin is an embarrassing irrelevance….

As grief turns to rage, the villagers’ insatiable desire for catharsis, one final blood sacrifice, becomes unstoppable. The master of ‘rural noir’, Barry Gornell has created a mesmerising, heartbreaking examination of rural life with a remarkable note of hope within the darkness.”

Oh. My. Gosh.  Oh. My. Flipping. Gosh!  I recently read a book which totally blew me away and surpassed every other read to make it to the number one spot on my ‘books of the year’ list.  Little did I expect at the time that a similar thing would happen, only a month or so later!  The Wrong Child by Barry Gornell is a book I have seen mentioned on only a small number of blogs.  This is a travesty.  More people need to read this exceptional book.  More people need to immerse themselves in the dark and destructive world of Dog Evans and the broken people left behind.

On a fateful snowy day, the roof of the local school collapses killing everyone inside.  Everyone except Douglas ‘Dog’ Evans.  So many young lives snuffed out in the blink of an eye, children ranging in age from 5 to 12.  How would you expect a small town of close-knit neighbours and friends to react to such a disaster? Lots of support, revering the lone survivor?  Certainly not, not when the survivor is Dog Evans.  Dog Evans is The Wrong Child.  Of all the children to survive, why did it have to be him?  Dog becomes the emblem of everything the town has lost, everything that’s missing and the reason why every single day hurts.

The reader meets Dog Evans some seven years later.  No longer is he an adolescent thirteen-year-old but a young man, approaching his twentieth birthday.  Dog has been abandoned by his parents, as a child,  left to fend in every which way for himself.  The sheer guilt of being Dog’s parents has driven them away.  The reader questions the morality of Dog’s parents, Shep and Rebecca as they apparently willingly walk away from their one child.  It’s only as you progress through the story that the author begins to give you snippets of information, glances into the past and expertly begins to build this small town’s painful story.

Each chapter is either set in the present day, seven years after the incident, or the past.  The chapters set in the past focus on each of the children killed that day and the lead up to the tragedy.  What I found incredibly eerie and unsettling was that each chapter is headed by a partially burnt photo of the child the chapter is about.  This is a devastating tale in itself but these photos added so much more emotion for me.  My heart ached for these fictional children.  I was mesmerised.

The town is one hundred percent guilty and to watch these characters deal with that guilt in their differing ways was a riveting experience for me.  The priest, Father Wittin, was a particularly interesting case (I can’t say any more, buy the book to find out what I’m on about!).  A glance into the dark side of human nature…

Would I recommend this book?  Oh my goodness, I will go on about this book for YEARS to come.  It’s hypnotic and so beautifully dark.  I was enchanted and disgusted in equal measure, it’s absolutely everything I want in a book.  I am traumatised but I LOVED it.  I could not put this book down, nor did I want to.  Easily one of my books of the year (one for the books of all time list..?).  I was left heartbroken that it was over.  Absolute literary perfection!

Five out of five stars.

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

The Wrong Child by Barry Gornell was published in the UK by Orion Books on 2nd November 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

BarryGornell_900.jpgBarry Gornell was born in Liverpool and now lives on the West Coast of Scotland. He is a novelist/screenwriter, ex fire-fighter, truck driver and bookshop manager. His short films Sonny’s Pride and The Race were broadcast on STV. Graduating from the University of Glasgow Creative Writing Masters programme in 2008, he was awarded a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Bursary in 2009. His short fiction has been published in The Herald newspaper, Let’s Pretend, 37 stories about (in)fidelity, Gutter 03 and Gutter 04The Healing of Luther Grove was his first novel followed by The Wrong Child, which was originally published by Scottish press Freight Books in 2016.