#BookReview: The Disciple by Stephen Lloyd Jones @headlinepg #TheDisciple #damppebbles

the discipleThey are coming…

On a storm-battered road at the edge of the Devil’s Kitchen, a woman survives a fatal accident and gives birth to a girl who should never have lived.

The child’s protection lies in the hands of Edward Schwinn – a loner who must draw himself out of darkness to keep her safe – and her arrival will trigger a chain of terrifying events that no one can explain.

She is a child like no other, being hunted by an evil beyond measure.

For if the potential within her is realised, nothing will be the same. Not for Edward. Not for any who live to see it.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Disciple by Stephen Lloyd Jones with you. The Disciple was published by Headline Books on 6th October 2016 and is available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Disciple but that has in no way influenced my review.

I want to start this review by asking, what the heck have I just read? Someone? Anyone?! I’ve read all 544 pages and I’m still not sure myself but I do know one thing. I absolutely bloody LOVED it!

Edward Schwinn is a loner. Haunted by his tragic past he hides himself away in the Welsh countryside, avoiding human contact at any cost. Until one day he comes across the scene of a horrific accident. Bodies surround him, bent at strange and unusual angles. Death wasn’t kind to these people and what he witnesses will remain scored in his memory forever. He’s drawn to one of the vehicles, opens the door to discover someone he never expected to see. And she’s heavily pregnant. Fleeing the scene and helping the woman to his rundown home, they spend the night hiding from whoever is looking for her. Until she goes into labour. Unknowingly Schwinn has changed his destiny.  He must protect the child from the forces that wish to destroy her. For the sake of all humanity…

The Disciple doesn’t really fit neatly into any one box. As I read this book I felt I was crossing a number of genre lines. There are definitely some wonderful horror aspects to this story. It’s an edgy thriller which had me on the edge of my seat enjoying the delicious sense of foreboding the author gives his reader. Then there were the other ‘less familiar to me’ genres. In places it felt a little bit fantasy (cards on the table: I know nothing about fantasy so perhaps I’m mistaken) and it was hard to miss the sci-fi aspect of the novel. But no matter what The Disciple is, when it comes to labelling, it was a fantastic book and I savoured every second I had with it.

I’m a little bit in love with the main character, Edward Schwinn. Having faced tragedy he has turned his back on the world. But when his moment comes, he steps up to the plate and takes the responsibility laid before him without question or doubt. I think if you look beyond everything else this book, at its heart, has a strong message. You don’t need the same blood running through your veins to be a good parent. I loved Edward’s relationship with the child, Piper. The reader watches it grow over the course of 16 years and it was a truly beautiful thing to witness. I also adored Piper who I think will stay with me for some time to come. There are a number of other fascinating and brilliant characters who leap off the page at the reader (Jolyon in particular). It’s really quite something!

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. I thoroughly enjoyed The Disciple and having checked my bookshelf, I was delighted to find I have The Silenced by the same author on my TBR. This felt a different read for me and it just goes to show that you should step out of your comfort zone every now and then (although I wasn’t aware I would be doing that when I started it, so…..🤷). I wrote six pages of notes whilst reading The Disciple. There’s a lot to take in but I was totally immersed in the story from beginning to end. The Disciple is something very special which had me crying big ugly tears at points. Days later I sit here typing this review and I’m missing the characters. I want to return to the story. I loved it and I think you should read it. Highly recommended.

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

The Disciple by Stephen Lloyd Jones was published in the UK by Headline Books on 6th October 2016 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

Stephen Lloyd JonesStephen Lloyd Jones grew up in Chandlers Ford, Hampshire, and studied at Royal Holloway College, University of London. He now lives in Surrey with his wife, three young sons, a mad cockapoo and far too many books. He’s the author of The String Diaries, Written in the Blood, The Disciple and The Silenced.

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger imyril (@imyril) #TheresAlwaysRoomForOneMore #damppebbles

Hello and welcome to the blog today. It’s Monday which can mean only one thing – it’s time for another brilliant #R3COMM3ND3D2018 post (and you thought I was going to say something about the weekend being over, right?!). Today I am delighted to welcome another fantastic book blogger to damppebbles to share the book love, imyril from There’s Always Room for One More…

But first, let me explain what #R3COMM3ND3D is all about. ‘Books’ is the simple answer 😆! Every year I invite bookish types to share the titles of three books they love with the rest of us.  Any author, any genre – it’s a bit of a free for all, apart from one thing.  The books must have been published in a certain year.  At the moment we’re revealing the top books published in 2018 but on 1st November #R3COMM3ND3D2019  will start when it will be all about this year’s releases.  If you would like to take part then please fill in the form at the bottom of this post!

Without further ado, here are the books imyril has chosen…

the poppy war.jpg

The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R.F. Kuang
A setting that’s not quite early twentieth century China is an unusual and absorbing fantasy setting. Complex characters you’ll love to hate and fear to love, going through the wringer. A harrowing debut with an eye for epic storytelling and historical flavour.
https://onemore.org/2018/09/29/the-poppy-war/

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The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 2) by Jen Williams
I hesitate to dive into a trilogy with book two, but the Winnowing Flame gets my nod for epic fantasy with sci-fi underpinnings and a flair for all-out horror. Vampiric elves, a fire witch, noble barbarians, a middle-aged archaeologist and mythical beasts must fight off a terrifying insectile alien threat or see their world consumed. The characters leap off the page, the lines between good, evil and pragmatic are blurred and I’ve never yelled NO so loudly at the page in my life. This is fantasy writ very, very large – and I think book two is even better than book one. Bonus points for being so dark without ever feeling hopeless or bleak.
https://onemore.org/2018/03/24/the-bitter-twins/

embers of war.jpg

Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell
A full-blooded space opera, peopled by a cast recovering from the trauma of a recent war. A sentient warship filled with regret. A lonely salvage crew who wish to make amends. A planet whose secrets are worth killing for. This is a well-constructed mystery with an almost Banksian setting. I came for the characters; I’ll be seeing out the series for the jaw dropping scope of what they find.
https://onemore.org/2018/03/11/embers-of-war/

Ooooh, once again I am drawn to books outside of my comfort zone and these three look brilliant! Thanks imyril!

If imyril has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books recommended above, please see the following links:

The Poppy War by R.F. KuangThe Bitter Twins by Jen WilliamsEmbers of War by Gareth L. Powell |

About imyril:
I’ve been reading almost as long as I’ve been walking (but I try not to combine the two, because of the bruises). These days I’m a business consultant by day and a bookworm and blogger 24/7. I mostly read SF/F, but I’m happy to be tempted into other genres by a strong story and well-crafted characters. Or tea. And cake. I’m easily tempted.

imyril’s social media links:
There’s Always Room for One More…Twitter @imyril |

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 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

#BookReview: The Feed by Nick Clark Windo (@nickhdclark) @headlinepg #NeedTheFeed #TheFeed

the feed.jpg

“Tom and Kate’s daughter turns six tomorrow, and they have to tell her about sleep.
If you sleep unwatched, you could be Taken. If you are Taken, then watching won’t save you.
Nothing saves you.

Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams.
If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?

For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore.

The threat is closer than they realise…”

Not my usual fare, I know, but when I read the blurb of The Feed and when I witnessed the fantastic PR stunt the folks at Headline pulled the day they revealed this book on Twitter, I knew I HAD to read it. (And if you’re wondering what the stunt was, the Headline twitter ‘feed’ went down. Their profile picture was a solid black square, their twitter header was the same. Something had gone ‘seriously wrong’ and it was fascinating to see how people reacted. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea and whoever was manning the Headline timeline that day. It was pitched perfectly and worked a treat!)

The Feed is a dystopian thriller with a hefty dose of sci-fi added to the mix. Like I said, not my usual fare but I think it’s good to step out of your comfort zone every now and then, especially for a genre reader like myself. I tend to enjoy dystopian thrillers, there’s often a very strong crime component in many dystopian tales which will always appeal to me. However, the sci-fi element did make me a little nervous.  I am not a sci-fi reader, I have very little experience of reading sci-fi (does Douglas Adams count?) and I felt a little out of my depth. But I was so keen to read The Feed that I put these feelings to one side. And I fell head over heels in love with the start of this book. I was smitten. I loved learning what The Feed meant to the characters encapsulated in this strange online world, in particular to Tom and Kate our lead characters. I loved the idea of the Feed and I was well and truly gripped. So gripped I couldn’t stop telling my husband about the Feed, reading sections out to him while he politely smiled and nodded.

When the Feed went down I was on the edge of my seat, lost in this new savage world and I didn’t want to put the novel down. What the characters lost was heartbreaking, so clearly a destructive addiction ready to tear it’s users apart. Powerful, thought-provoking and very intense writing from this talented debut author.

The writing throughout the book is superb. The author has a talent for creating a scene in his reader’s minds, so sharp and so crisp. The issues raised in the book gave me a lot to think about. I want to talk to other readers about this book and that’s always a good sign, right? (In fact, I would love to know. If you have read The Feed, would you want to be enabled or would you be a Resister? Let me know in the comments.)

I will say one thing. I loved, loved, loved the start of this book. The middle section and the end were well written but I found myself losing interest a little. I loved the author’s ability to transport you to a world where you wouldn’t necessarily want to live or stay for any amount of time. But I was just a smidge disappointed with the middle section and the conclusion. I keep asking myself whether this book just wasn’t for me but then I remind myself how much I enjoyed the start, so that can’t be the case.

Having sat here staring at the screen for a few minutes I think I’ve worked it out. The Feed ‘COULD’ happen. It’s something that ‘may’ be in our future. We’re already all glued to our phones and tablets 24/7 so would it be such a great leap to move to something like the Feed? Maybe not. The later sections of the book I think I found harder to believe and that may be where my problem lies. Regular readers of the blog will know that I like my crime reads to be real (for example, I struggle with certain supernatural elements) and that may be the issue for me here. I didn’t believe enough and that could be why my attention waned. Going back to my earlier question and flipping it a little, maybe I’m not the right type of reader for this book…?

Would I recommend this book? This is a well written, interesting novel which raises a lot of pertinent questions. I would recommend it, yes. And I would pick up a second novel by author Nick Clark Windo in a heartbeat. I strangely love the idea of the Feed in a fictional sense. I’m not so sure about in an actual, physical sense though. What do you think? This book really got me thinking and I liked that!

Four out of five stars.

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

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo was published in the UK by Headline Books on 25th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow later this year) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | (please note, the above Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links)

about the author3

nick clark windo.jpeg

Nick Clark Windo studied English Literature at Cambridge and acting at RADA, and he now works as a film producer and screenwriter. Inspired by his realisation that people are becoming increasingly disconnected from one another, and questions about identity and memory, The Feed is his debut novel. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Author Links: | Twitter |