#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Invisible by Peter Papathanasiou @maclehosepress #TheInvisible #damppebbles

“Burnt-out from policework, Detective Sergeant George Manolis flies from Australia to Greece for a holiday. Recently divorced and mourning the death of his father, who emigrated from the turbulent Prespes region which straddles the borders of Greece, Albania and North Macedonia, Manolis hopes to reconnect with his roots and heritage.

On arrival, Manolis learns of the disappearance of an ‘invisible’ – a local man who lives without a scrap of paperwork. The police and some locals believe the man’s disappearance was pre-planned, while others suspect foul play. Reluctantly, Manolis agrees to work undercover to find the invisible, and must navigate the complicated relationships of a tiny village where grudges run deep.

It soon becomes clear to Manolis that he may never locate a man who, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist. And with the clock ticking, the ghosts of the past continue to haunt the events of today as Manolis’s investigation leads him to uncover a dark and long-forgotten practice.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the social media splash for The Invisible, the second book in the Detective George Manolis series by Peter Papathanasiou. The Invisible was published by MacLehose Press last Thursday (that’s 1st September 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Invisible but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Corinna at MacLehose Press for sending me a proof copy.

I am a huge fan of Australian crime fiction, it’s become a bit of a passion of mine. This may come as no surprise to regular readers of the blog as I do tend to mention it fairly often 😂. The Stoning, the first book in this series, was a highlight of my reading year in 2021 so I was very much looking forward to being reunited with Detective Manolis once again for his second outing. The Invisible is a very different book to the first in that Manolis goes back to his Greek roots, his parents having emigrated from Greece to Australia prior to George’s birth. The book had a very different flavour, a different feel which I appreciated.

Following a traumatic event at work and suffering from PTSD, DS Manolis is ordered to take leave for a few weeks and give himself time to start healing. He decides the best thing to do is to leave Australia altogether and books a flight to his parent’s homeland, Greece. Upon arrival he discovers one of the locals, a man he was familiar with from previous visits, has gone missing. The only problem is Lefty is an invisible. He has no paperwork, no passport, no bank account. The local police force have been made aware of Lefty’s disappearance but what can they do? According to their records, Lefty never existed. Working undercover, Manolis immerses himself in the Greek lifestyle and begins to ask questions of the locals. But how do you find a man who doesn’t exist…?

The Invisible is a well-written slow burn mystery which I enjoyed reading. The first chapter is fraught with danger and tension as Manolis and a favourite character of mine, Constable ‘Sparrow’ Smith, chase down a drug dealer. Their pursuit ends in tragedy with Manolis holding a smoking gun and reliving his ordeal time and time again. When his boss, Paul Bloody Porter, insists he take some vacation Manolis reluctantly agrees and boards a flight to a country which will forever be in his blood, Greece. From here things take a more sedate pace. Manolis is introduced to old friends and new. Fellow Greek-Aussie, Stavros, asks Manolis to investigate Lefty’s disappearance believing his friend to be more efficient than the local police. Working undercover Manolis begins to investigate but soon realises he’s been set an impossible task.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re looking for a fascinating slow burn mystery featuring some outstanding characters and a dramatic, vivid setting then you will enjoy The Invisible. I learnt so much about the Greek way of life; culture, food and drink, religion, history and practices. The mystery aspect of the story is present throughout the book. The reader is initially introduced to Lefty in the prologue and he is referred to throughout the text by the other characters, which helps build a picture of the character in your mind. But how do you go about finding someone who doesn’t exist? This is exactly Manolis’s problem. Every direction he takes, every new lead fizzles out and becomes a disappointing dead end. I was very intrigued about what had happened to Lefty so the denouement came as a surprise. I’m a fan of the Detective George Manolis series so I hope there are more books to come in this fantastic series. No matter what, I look forward to reading more from this author in the future. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Invisible. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Invisible by Peter Papathanasiou was published in the UK by MacLehose Press in 1st September 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Peter PapathanasiouPeter Papathanasiou was born in northern Greece in 1974 and adopted as a baby to an Australian family. His debut book, a memoir, was published in 2019 as “Son of Mine” by Salt Publishing (UK) and “Little One” by Allen & Unwin (Australia). His debut novel, a work of crime fiction, was published in 2021 as “The Stoning” by MacLehose Press (UK) and Transit Lounge (Australia), and in 2022 by Polar Verlag (Germany). Peter’s writing has otherwise been published by The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Seattle Times, The Guardian UK, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Good Weekend, ABC and SBS. He holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from City, University of London; a Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences from The Australian National University (ANU); and a Bachelor of Laws from ANU specialising in criminal law.


📢 Calling all book bloggers, bookstagrammers and authors 📢

#R3COMM3ND3D returns on 1st November 2022 and YOU’RE invited to take part!

The closing date for submissions this year is WEDNESDAY 10TH NOVEMBER so if you would like to take part, please submit your three books via the form below before the 10th.

If you’re not sure what #R3COMM3ND3D is or if you would just like to see a few examples from past years, then please click THIS LINK.

I can’t wait to find out what three 2022 publications you #R3COMM3ND!

#BlogBlast | #BookReview: Those Who Return by Kassandra Montag @QuercusBooks #ThoseWhoReturn #damppebbles

“Amid the desolate wilderness of the Great Plains of Nebraska, a region so isolated you could drive for hours without seeing another human being, sits Hatchery House. Having served as a church, an asylum and an orphanage, Hatchery is now a treatment facility for orphaned or abandoned children with psychiatric disorders. Haunted by patients past and present, only the most vulnerable find a home within its walls.

Dr. Lorelei ‘Lore’ Webber, a former FBI psychiatrist, has almost grown used to the unorthodox methods used at Hatchery House. But when one of her patients is murdered, Lore finds herself dragged into the centre of an investigation that unearths startling truths, shocking discoveries, and untold cruelty. And as the investigation unravels, Lore is forced to confront the past she’s spent her whole life running from – a secret that threatens to undo her entirely.

Darkly riveting and explosive, and with an unforgettable cast of deeply human characters, Those Who Return is a searing psychological thriller of guilt and redemption, set against a landscape as awe-inspiring as it is unforgiving.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the blog blast for Those Who Return. Those Who Return by Kassandra Montag is published by Quercus Books today (that’s Thursday 14th April 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Those Who Return but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Milly at Quercus Books for sending me a finished copy and asking me to join the blog blast.

I have a confession to make. I’m a little obsessed with books set in Nebraska at the moment. So when this book landed on my radar I jumped at the chance to read it. The cover is stunning and the blurb is so intriguing, it was impossible to refuse. So much so that I got stuck in as soon as my copy arrived at damppebbles HQ.

Ex-FBI psychiatrist Dr Lore Webber is still finding her feet at Hatchery House – a treatment facility for orphaned and abandoned children with psychiatric disorders – when the unthinkable happens. She discovers one of her young patients dead in an outlying field. With contacts still within the FBI, she makes the call and brings childhood friend and former lover, Cedar, in to investigate. Before long, Lore’s expertise is needed to help move the case along and she’s reluctantly dragged into proceedings. As Lore digs into the history of Hatchery House, it becomes clear the former church turned asylum turned orphanage has a dark and troubled history. Can Lore and Cedar discover what happened to young Luis before the killer strikes again…?

Those Who Return is a very readable, very engaging novel which I enjoyed losing myself in. The remoteness and the isolation of the unforgiving Nebraskan plains was the perfect setting for the novel, adding an air of loneliness, miles from help, to the story which I really enjoyed. Add to that the midwestern gothic feel of Hatchery House with its dark past and locked rooms, whispered tales of ghosts roaming the halls, its mysterious bell tower and the unpredictable nature of some of its residents and you have a very compelling tale indeed.

I enjoyed spending time with Lore and Cedar and really getting to know these two fascinating, yet complicated characters. I also enjoyed the glimpses the reader gets into some of the residents at the House. I felt the children were all believable characters, each with their own fully formed backstory. Particularly Ezra who broke my heart a little. His interactions with Lore were written incredibly well. As I mentioned, Lore and Cedar ARE both complicated characters with different yet troubled childhoods. Neglected by her mother, Lore is haunted by a death she feels she could have prevented. The grief and the guilt still weigh heavy on her shoulders. Cedar’s path to adulthood was never smooth, but the vicious attack of his older brother is something he and his family still deal with on a daily basis. However, Lore and Cedar have always had each other; whether friends, lovers or FBI colleagues. Less so recently following an FBI raid gone wrong and Lore’s detachment from the bureau. But it’s clear to the reader that these two people have a strong bond distance and time cannot break. I thought the relationship between the two characters was fascinating.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Those Who Return is a wonderfully atmospheric novel which I enjoyed reading. The characters were all well-drawn and interesting. The plot moved at a steady pace to its thrilling conclusion which I admit, I did see coming but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book at all. I enjoyed the time I spent with Those Who Return and would pick up another psychological suspense novel by this author without a second thought. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Those Who Return. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Those Who Return by Kassandra Montag was published in the UK by Quercus Books on 14th April 2022 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 | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Kassandra MontagKassandra Montag grew up in rural Nebraska and now lives in Omaha with her husband and two sons. She holds a master’s degree in English Literature and her award-winning poetry and short fiction has appeared in journals and anthologies, including Midwestern Gothic, Nebraska Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and Mystery Weekly Magazine. After the Flood, her debut novel, will be published in over a dozen languages and has been optioned for a television series.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou @maclehosepress @katyaellis_ #TheStoning #damppebbles

“A small town in outback Australia wakes to an appalling crime.

A local schoolteacher is found taped to a tree and stoned to death. Suspicion instantly falls on the refugees at the new detention centre on Cobb’s northern outskirts. Tensions are high, between whites and the local indigenous community, between immigrants and the townies.

Still mourning the recent death of his father, Detective Sergeant George Manolis returns to his childhood hometown to investigate. Within minutes of his arrival, it’s clear that Cobb is not the same place he left. Once it thrived, but now it’s a poor and derelict dusthole, with the local police chief it deserves. And as Manolis negotiates his new colleagues’ antagonism, and the simmering anger of a community destroyed by alcohol and drugs, the ghosts of his past begin to flicker to life.

Vivid, pacy and almost dangerously atmospheric, The Stoning is the first in a new series of outback noir featuring DS Manolis, himself an outsider, and a good man in a world gone to hell.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou. The Stoning is published in hardcover, audio and digital formats by MacLehose Press today (that’s Thursday 7th October 2021). I chose to read a free ARC of The Stoning which has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Katya at MacLehose Press for sending me a finished copy.

Australian crime fiction. I bloody love it! It’s my new favourite obsession and I’m slowly filling my already very full bookshelves with some fantastic Australian writers. Jane Harper, Chris Hammer and Garry Disher are a few who immediately spring to mind. And now Peter Papathanasiou, who has produced an assured debut featuring a lead character I need more of in my life.

A small Australian town wakes to the horrifying news that a local teacher has been killed in the most brutal and shocking way, she was stoned to death. Local law enforcement is predominantly inept and botches the initial crime scene. Before long DS George Manolis is sent from the city to take control and push the investigation forward. After all, he knows the town like the back of his hand having spent his formative years in the community. But things have changed and it’s not the place he fondly remembers. Racial tensions run high, fingers are pointed and rumours are rife. Manolis needs to see beyond the residents relentless prejudices and find Molly’s killer before it’s too late…

The Stoning is an intriguing page-turner from the first word to the very last. Immersive, atmospheric and quite an eye-opener at times, this tense and unsettling read is an accomplished start to a series I am VERY excited about. DS George Manolis is a strong, likeable lead character who immediately comes up against a town falling apart at the seams. The divisions between the different groups – the indigenous people who have been pushed aside, the predominantly white townsfolk and the much hated immigration detention centre – create a simmering storyline which, at times, is a hard read, but is unapologetically gripping throughout.

Manolis is assisted by a stellar supporting cast. The much maligned Constable ‘Sparrow’ Smith, the only indigenous member of the police force, was a joy. Angry and unforgiving, yet he was the source of several more light hearted moments throughout the book which I really appreciated. Alongside Sparrow is Constable Kerr, the only female member of the team, who has her own cross to bear. I wanted to know more about Kerr and hope she, and Sparrow, feature in future books.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re a fan of well-plotted, intelligent small town mysteries then make sure you add The Stoning to your must read list. Tough going in places due to the subject matter and prejudices of the characters at times but 100% worth it. An accomplished and astute read which will leave you thinking long after the last page has turned. I’m looking forward to seeing where the author takes Manolis next. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Stoning. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou was published in the UK by MacLehose Press on 7th October 2021 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 | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Peter PapathanasiouPeter Papathanasiou was born in northern Greece in 1974 and adopted as a baby to an Australian family. His debut book, a memoir, was published in 2019 as “Son of Mine” by Salt Publishing (UK) and “Little One” by Allen & Unwin (Australia). His debut novel, a work of crime fiction, was published in 2021 as “The Stoning” by MacLehose Press (UK) and Transit Lounge (Australia), and in 2022 by Polar Verlag (Germany). Peter’s writing has otherwise been published by The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Seattle Times, The Guardian UK, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Good Weekend, ABC and SBS. He holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from City, University of London; a Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences from The Australian National University (ANU); and a Bachelor of Laws from ANU specialising in criminal law.

#BookReview: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia @JoFletcherBooks @QuercusBooks #MexicanGothic #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

mexican gothic“The acclaimed author of Gods of Jade and Shadow returns with a mesmerising feminist re-imagining of Gothic fantasy, in which a young socialite discovers the haunting secrets of a beautiful old mansion in 1950s Mexico.

He is trying to poison me. You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me.

When glamorous socialite Noemí Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging to be rescued from a mysterious doom, it’s clear something is desperately amiss. Catalina has always had a flair for the dramatic, but her claims that her husband is poisoning her and her visions of restless ghosts seem remarkable, even for her.

Noemí’s chic gowns and perfect lipstick are more suited to cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing, but she immediately heads to High Place, a remote mansion in the Mexican countryside, determined to discover what is so affecting her cousin.

Tough and smart, she possesses an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerised by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to leave this enigmatic house behind . . .”

Hello and welcome, bookish friends, to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my seventh 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for Mexican Gothic by Silvia Morena-Garcia. Now the observant amongst you may be wondering where review number six has gone. Well, I’ll be sharing that on Thursday but seeing as it’s publication day for Mexican Gothic today (which is 30th June 2020 – happy publication day!), it seemed more fitting to share review seven before review six (that, or I’m just trying very hard to confuse myself!). I chose to read and review an eARC of Mexican Gothic but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’ll be completely honest and say that I didn’t know what to expect from Mexican Gothic. I’ve read plenty of gothic novels over the years. They fit quite nicely into my love of dark fiction. But this book is billed as a historical gothic fantasy/romance and, as a reader of predominantly crime with a splash of horror on the side, this book felt a little like an unknown entity to me. I needn’t have worried. Mexican Gothic is a haunting gothic tale which played straight into my love of the horror genre, taking me on a terrifying journey into the very heart of a creepy old mansion and the sinister family who inhabit its walls.

Party girl and socialite Noemí Taboada is reluctant to follow her father’s wishes and visit her recently married cousin, Catalina, at High Place – a decrepit old mansion on the outskirts of a small Mexican village. But Catalina has written such a strange letter, leaving her family in Mexico City concerned for her mental health and well being, that Noemí feels she has no choice but to go — the promise of a place at University to study anthropology made by her father also helps! When Noemí arrives, she meets Catalina’s strange extended family. They’re guarded. She’s an unwelcome guest in their home but she feels something is definitely wrong at High Place. The more time she spends in the house, the more concerned she grows for Catalina and the more desperate she is to leave. But the more Noemí digs into the history of High Place and the Doyle family, the more frightening secrets she discovers…

I loved tenacious, fiery Noemí. She’s one gutsy woman who won’t be put in a box and behave as the era expects of her. She’s forthright, outspoken and determined to discover what is happening to her cousin and why Catalina reports of seeing ghosts. But getting to Catalina for any length of time is a problem as she’s closely guarded by the family and their staff. Other characters in the book (virtually all of the Doyle family actually) made me feel really uncomfortable, which I loved. I felt particular disgust for creepy old Howard Doyle, the family patriarch, his handsome yet utterly repulsive son, Virgil, and Howard’s niece, the detestable Florence. The scenes in the book between Noemí and Virgil are so brilliantly written, they physically made my skin crawl. Florence’s son, Francis, faired a little better. I wanted to know what his secret was though. What was he hiding from Noemí.

It’s very difficult to talk about the plot of Mexican Gothic without revealing a few spoilers so I’m going to say as little as possible about it. The first half of the book, I found a touch slow. But I think that’s quite true of many gothic novels. You need time to get to know the characters and the setting and make that connection. The second half I loved and sped through the story. When the family secret is discovered, the pace really picks up and I struggled to put this book down. It’s so compelling and I was lost in the world of High Place alongside Noemí.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Mexican Gothic is a chilling read and one I heartily recommend. With that stunning cover, a fierce female lead and a story that takes you places you don’t expect, this is a book not to be missed. Despite my initial reservations, I’m glad I read Mexican Gothic and lost myself for a few hours in the dark and dank corridors of High Place. As settings go, it’s going to be one I remember for some time to come. Recommended.

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

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was published in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books on 30th June 2020 and is available in hardcover 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 |

20-books

about-the-author3

silvia moreno-garciaSilvia Moreno-Garcia is the author of Signal to Noise, named one of the best books of 2015 by BuzzFeed and more; Certain Dark Things, a Publishers Weekly top ten; The Beautiful Ones, a fantasy of manners; and the science fiction novella Prime Meridian. She has also edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu’s Daughters). Born and brought up in Mexico, she now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

 

 

#BlogTour | #Extract: Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia @QuercusBooks #LeaveNoTrace

leave no trace cover.jpg“Ten years after a boy and his father went missing in the wilderness of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, the boy – who is no longer a boy – walks back out of the forest. He is violent and uncommunicative. The authorities take him to Congdon Mental Institution in Duluth, on the edge of mighty Lake Superior.

There, language therapist Maya Stark is given the task of making a connection with this boy/man who came back from the dead. But their celebrity patient tries to escape and refuses to answer any questions about his father or the last ten years of his life. In many ways he is old far beyond his years; in others, still a child.

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world – but at what cost to herself?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Leave No Trace blog tour.  Leave No Trace is the latest release from author Mindy Mejia and was published by Quercus Books on 4th September 2018.  I read and reviewed Mejia’s fantastic The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman last March and thoroughly enjoyed it, so Leave No Trace sits high on the wishlist.

I am thrilled to have an extract from the book to share with you today.  So without further ado, grab yourself a cuppa and dive straight in…

The patient faced the back of the room with his hands on the cement block wall in a push-up position. From the way he stoodwith h is shoulders tensed and legs braced it looked like he was trying to move the entire wall. I took a step closer and noticed his hospital shirt was torn at the bottom and he’d used the missing strip to tie his hair back.

‘Hello, Lucas.’

He remained still for a second, but then surprised me by turning his head. I saw his face in person for the first time.

He wasn’t a boy.

My brain stuttered on that one thought for what felt like a stupidly long time as our eyes met and held. Why did all the media keep calling him a boy? Lucas Blackthorn looked at least as old as me and stood a foot taller. His cheeks were hollow and shaded with the beginning of a beard. His skin was a deep reddish tan, not the pasty white of most of our long-term patients, and his eyes conveyed things that no first session speech therapy could have drawn out: intelligence and caution mixed with undisguised curiosity.

Moving slowly and deliberately, I walked to the bare mattress between us. There was no table, so we’d have to start the flashcards on the bed. He watched my progress, studying my hair. The short, pixie-cut combined with its dyed color grabbed a lot of patients’ attention. One of the men in ward two, a lifer named Big George with a traumatic brain injury, even liked to touch the ends of it that swished in front of my ears. I made sure he stuck to the left side so he didn’t get distracted by the tiny silver hoop earrings along my right ear. Lucas noticed those, too. I watched him catalog every part of me, absorbing the appearance of this outsider to his room, like someone would analyze a newly discovered insect. His gaze paused on the blue fabric bag I carried, his expression unreadable now.

I put a hand on my chest and waited until his attention snapped back to my face.

‘I’m Maya.’ Three syllables. Slow rate, distinct pronunciation. I didn’t smile. I’d never trusted strangers who smiled at me – they always wanted something.   Patting the place where my pulse beat too fast, I nodded and said it again. ‘Maya.’

He swiveled back toward the wall, dismissing the insect. I glanced behind me where Stan was shaking his head through the lead glass. Shrugging, I started to pull out the flashcards when suddenly Stan’s face changed. His eyes widened and his mouth opened in a warning I couldn’t hear.

I hesitated and before I could turn around, a giant force threw me into the wall and something was being looped around my neck. The metal door shrieked as Stan wrenched it open and I was pulled back, my body turned into a human shield. The thing around my neck tightened and I panicked, unable to breathe. Lucas had my arms locked behind me in an impossibly strong grip. I fought against it, desperate to free myself.

‘Keys,’ he said in a hoarse voice. I bowed my body against his, trying to find some slack in the cord around my throat, but met only a column of unyielding muscle. If anything, the cord grew tighter.

My vision started to contract, black creeping in at the edges. I kicked viciously, striking his shins so hard they should have snapped in half, and used the rest of my oxygen in the process. The last thing I saw before everything went dark was Stan’s hand, holding out his ring of keys.

Doesn’t that sound good?!  I’m really looking forward to reading Leave No Trace.

Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia was published in the UK by Quercus Books on 4th September 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

Leave No Trace blog tour poster updated (1).jpg

about-the-author3

mindy mejia.jpgMy name is Mindy Mejia and I’m a writer. I write because, ever since I was six years old, my favorite game has been pretend. My life doesn’t have symmetry, theme, symbolism, or meditated beauty and I gravitate toward these things like a houseplant to the sun. I love the perfect words; I love how “fierce” and “confounded” and “swagger” look on the page and how my chest expands when I read them. I write because I believe in the reality of my fantasies, the truth in my fabrications. I’ve always had stories sneaking around my head, thrillers like THE DRAGON KEEPER and EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, and sometimes I inhabit those stories more than my own life. (Best not to mention that last part to my husband, kids, or boss.)

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave (@HollyACave) @QuercusBooks #MemoryChamber

the memory chamber.jpg“YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. 
YOU CAN PRESERVE A HANDFUL OF SPECIAL MEMORIES FOR EVER. 
WHICH ONES WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

**********

True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity re-living your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.

Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.

But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…”

Wow, what a fascinating read The Memory Chamber is.  Once again I have stepped a little out of my comfort zone for this book but I’m rather liking this new, less restricted approach I’ve got going on at the moment.  I like to think I’m broadening my horizons as a reader, what do you think?

The Memory Chamber is, by and large, a futuristic thriller.  An intricate, considered and somewhat addictive thriller.  But there were other genres nudging their way in.  A smidge of romance, a sprinkling of sci-fi (or if you prefer speculative fiction) and a scattering of techno-thriller.  An interesting combination and one that held my attention from start to finish.

Imagine if you never died.  Imagine, providing you have the money and the desire (of course!), that someone could preserve and sculpt your most precious memories which you would then live for all eternity.  Your body would be disposed of but your essence would be captured and locked away in a secure lab.  Reliving the moments that made you the happiest, over and over again.  That’s what Isobel does for a living.  She is a Heaven Architect and will design your perfect Heaven.  But when Isobel meets Jarek the last thing she expects is to fall in love with her client.  Her young, attractive, terminally ill, MARRIED client.  When Jarek’s wife is discovered murdered, Isobel is determined to prove his innocence at any cost and is thrown into a world of suspicion ultimately discovering not all is as she first believed…

If I had to come up with one word to describe The Memory Chamber it would be ‘fascinating’.  The idea of a synthetic Heaven totally piqued my interest and made me read every single word of this book, from start to finish.  Very much like the idea of my recent other ‘science fiction-y’ read, The Feed did.  I’m not normally one for romantic relationships in my stories but the spark between Isobel and Jarek was quite tantalising.  It certainly didn’t put me off finishing the book!  What I would have liked was a little more mystery, but then I’m a crime reader and that’s my thing!

You can’t help but want to talk to others about this book and the ethical questions it raises.  Is the idea of a self-designed Heaven something that appeals to you?  Or would you rather just take your chances and wait to see what’s on the other side?  It’s a very original and brave choice of subject matter by the author and she has handled it incredibly well.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  Particularly if you’re looking for something a bit different.  I found Isobel a little annoying at times, Jarek a little creepy but it all added to the reading experience for me.  And that cover, OH.MY.GOSH – how stunning is that?! Overall an absolutely fascinating journey and I look forward to seeing what Cave gives us next.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Memory Chamber.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave is published in the UK by Quercus Books on 22nd February 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats with the paperback to follow later this year (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

holly cave.jpgNow living in Bedford with my family, I’m a long way from my roots by the sea, in Torquay, Devon. But I’m a traveller at heart, so who knows how long we’ll stay?

Although my Dad was a writer, and we spent much of my childhood writing and telling stories, I never thought that I could make a career out of it. I studied Biology at Imperial College London, followed by a Masters in Science Communication. After four years as a Contemporary Content Producer at the Science Museum, I turned freelance, quit my job, and headed off on a round-the-world trip with my now-husband. It was the best thing I ever did.

On our journey, I finally found the headspace and time to write my first novel, The Generation, which I self-published a few years later. I built up my science writing portfolio on the road and came back a little bit poorer but ready to start again, this time without any fear of failure.

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

Author image and bio © https://www.hollycave.co.uk/
Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia (@MejiaWrites) @QuercusBooks

9781784295769.jpg“Eighteen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. When she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Sheriff Del Goodman, a close friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers: it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives, Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the Hattie behind the masks, and what happened in that final year of her life. . .

Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity; about the line between innocence and culpability; about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman blog tour.  The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is written by new author Mindy Mejia and published in the UK by Quercus Books.  My thanks to Olivia Mead at Quercus for asking me to be a part of the blog tour.

When I read the blurb of this book, I just had to read it.  Then I saw the cover design and heard the title and it was a foregone conclusion.  Interestingly, this book is being released in other parts of the world with the title ‘Everything You Want Me To Be’.  Having read the book I can see why it’s been called that but I much prefer the UK title.  I think it works on so many different levels.

Anyway…regular readers will know that I have a penchant for Japanese and German crime fiction.  What trumps both of those settings is my love of crime fiction set in small town America.  I just LOVE IT! No, I mean REALLY LOVE IT!!  I like to read books that feature a Sheriff, I like to see how the Sheriff copes with a major investigation with next-to-no high-tech resources at hand, I like to read about a small town crumbling under the suspicion of it’s neighbours.  The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman was a great read for me and one I devoured in the space of two short days (I’m a slow reader, that’s quick!).

Hattie is 17 going on 27.  She’s very different to her peers.  She’s an actress and a good one at that.  So good that her acting ability seeps into her everyday life and relationships.  Each chapter is told from a different perspective; you have Hattie before her imminent demise. Sheriff Del Goodman who is a family friend of Hattie’s parents and is working flat out to solve the murder.  And Peter Lund who has recently moved to the sleepy farming town of Pine Valley with his wife, Mary.

I really enjoyed the way that the story is built up.  Each chapter provides you with that little extra piece of information that wasn’t known before.  I found Hattie a very difficult character to like and I’m still not 100% sure about my feelings for her.  At times I became quite fond of her and at other times she seemed to be the most unlikable character in the story.  My favourite of all the characters was Peter Lund who may not be the popular choice among other reviewers.  I felt Peter had ended up in a life that was not his and one he would not have chosen for himself, and I sympathised with him.  His emotion felt very real to me.  I also liked Del Goodman for his good, honest attitude and his battle with his emotions whilst trying to find the killer of his friend’s daughter.

This story is primarily a love story but it’s also very much about manipulation and those we choose to show our true selves to.  Would I recommend this book?  Definitely.  I finished reading The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman several days ago and it’s still very much with me.  It’s a haunting tale and heartbreaking in places too.  Very much recommended.

Four out of five stars.

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia was published in the UK by Quercus Books on 9th March 2017 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

Blog tour poster  (1).jpg

copy-of-copy-of-smith-sons-1

Mindy Mejia (1).jpg

Mindy Mejia received her MFA from Hamline University and published her first novel, The Dragon Keepers with Ashland Creek Press. She lives and writes in Minnesota.  The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is her first book to be published in the UK.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |