#BlogTour | #BookReview: Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney @HQstories #RockPaperScissors #damppebbles

“Ten years of marriage.
Ten years of secrets.
An anniversary they’ll never forget.

Adam and Amelia are spending the weekend in the Scottish Highlands. The remote location is perfect for what they have planned.

But when their romantic trip takes a dark turn, they both start to wonder – can they trust the one they’re with?

Because every couple tells little white lies. Only for Adam and Amelia, the truth is far more dangerous.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the Rock Paper Scissors blog tour and sharing my review. Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney will be published on Thursday (that’s 19th August 2021) by HQ and will be available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Rock Paper Scissors but that has in no way influenced my review.

I just couldn’t resist. If you’ve read a novel by Alice Feeney before then you’ll just know. If you haven’t read anything by her yet then you’ve gotta get that sorted. Alice Feeney is an utter genius when it comes to the killer twist and every book I’ve read by this author, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. A beautiful blend of domestic drama and psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Amelia and Adam Wright are heading north to the Scottish Highlands for a romantic weekend away with their aging pup, Bob. There’s a lot riding on the weekend. Both sides have their secrets. Both sides have a hidden agenda. On arrival at their destination, a converted and isolated chapel, the place is eerily quiet. Something about the building doesn’t feel right. Before long, strange things start to happen. Tension between the couple increases, what little trust they have between them crumbles. Because the truth is out to make them pay…

Rock Paper Scissors is an eminently readable and highly absorbing book which I thoroughly enjoyed. I do love a secluded, snowy setting and the author gave me chills with her spooky isolated chapel on the banks of a loch. The characters’ desperate and rapidly increasing need to escape the chapel was marvellous and really added to the fear factor. Amelia and Adam are brilliantly written. Adam is instantly unlikable as he has a bit of a superiority complex believing himself to be cleverer of the couple. I couldn’t make my mind up about Amelia. I felt sorry for her at times for having to put up with her obnoxious and self-important husband, but my feelings towards her seemed to change quite dramatically as I progressed through the story.

The reader gets to hear from both Adam and Amelia as their situation spirals out of control. We also get a glimpse into the past in the form of private letters written to Adam every anniversary along with their gifts to each other (using the traditional markers for wedding anniversaries: paper, cotton, leather etc). Initially rosy, things start to decline as the years progress. Taking us up to the present day in all its shocking glory!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Rock Paper Scissors is a twisty, thrilling read which had me gripped from the start. Feeney has done it again and produced another very compulsive novel where she successfully pulls the wool over her reader’s eyes. And damn, she does it with such style! If you’re a fan of the psychological thriller you need to add Alice Feeney to your ‘must read’ list. You won’t regret it! Deliciously devious and a proper page-turner. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Rock Paper Scissors. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney was published in the UK by HQ on 19th August 2021 and is available in 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Alice Feeney is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. Her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, was an international bestseller, has been translated into over twenty languages, and is being made into a TV series by Warner Bros. starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. His & Hers is also being adapted for screen by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films. Alice was a BBC Journalist for fifteen years, and now lives in the British countryside with her family. Rock Paper Scissors is her fourth novel and is being made into a TV series for Netflix by the producer of The Crown. It will be published around the world in 2021.

#BookReview: Sleep by C.L. Taylor @AvonBooksUK #Sleep #damppebbles

“All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

The million-copy bestseller is back in her darkest, twistiest book to date. Read it if you dare! Perfect for fans of Lesley Kara’s The Rumour and Cara Hunter’s DI Fawley Thrillers.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Sleep by C.L. Taylor. Sleep was published by Avon Books on 24th September 2019 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC copy of Sleep but that has in no way influenced my review.

Anna’s world is shattered when on the way home from a team building exercise, the car she’s driving is involved in a major collision. Two of her colleagues die. One is paralysed. Anna walks away with a few cuts and bruises and a whole lot of guilt. Her relationship with her boyfriend was flagging anyway but the trauma, regret and guilt she suffers pushes them over the edge. Newly single and with nowhere to live, Anna makes the decision to change her life completely – moving to the small Scottish island of Rum and starting work in a hotel. But the latest cohort of guests have their own secrets. Trapped by a storm, the hotel is cut-off. And there’s a killer in their midst…

I really felt for Anna who, despite not being responsible for the accident, was living with so much sadness, grief and guilt. The reader watches as it eats away at her, impinging on her life and in particular her sleep. When she starts to feel as though she’s being watched, her boyfriend puts it down to exhaustion and the effects of the accident. I could feel the condescending ‘pat on the head’, the ‘there, there…’ at his empty, meaningless words. The author sets up her introduction to Anna and her life very well. I felt as though, by the time she gets to Rum and starts her new life, that I had the measure of the character. Which meant that when the pace really picked up and the threat is closing in, you couldn’t help but feel invested.

When a catastrophic event happens, it really ramps the tension up. I tried to guess who was responsible but I couldn’t. The author is very adept at throwing lots of red herrings into the story so you end up questioning everything and everyone. On the rare occasion when the characters did venture out of the hotel, the blustery winds and hammering rain were easy to picture thanks to the author’s great descriptions. It’s a very atmospheric read.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. Sleep is a very compelling psychological suspense novel which had me turning the pages faster than most other books I’ve read recently. I liked that the person ‘whodunit’ wasn’t obvious. I thought their reasons behind their actions were utterly chilling. Anna was a terrific protagonist who I was behind all the way. I thought the other characters in the book were all fully formed characters and had their part to play in the story. This is my second book by this author and I would happily read more in the future. Recommended.

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

Sleep by C.L Taylor was published in the UK by Avon Books on 24th September 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014.

She started writing short stories in 2005 and was published widely in literary and women’s magazines. She also won several short story competitions. In 2009 and 2011 her romantic comedy novels (as Cally Taylor) were published by Orion and translated into fourteen languages. HEAVEN CAN WAIT was a bestseller in Hungary and China and HOME FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a feature film by JumpStart Productions. Whilst on maternity leave with her son Cally had an idea for a psychological thriller and turned to crime.

C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son.

#BookReview: Pine by Francine Toon @DoubledayUK #Pine #damppebbles

“They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.

In the shadow of the Highland forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia. In a place that can feel like the edge of the word, she unites the chill of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.”

Welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Pine by Francine Toon. Pine was published by Doubleday in all formats on 1st October 2020. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Pine but that has in no way influenced my review.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past year (and let’s face it, for many of us that would probably have been preferable!) then chances are you’ve seen Pine mentioned before. It’s a huge book. A prize-winning novel, shortlisted for many prestigious crime fiction awards. And rightly so. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like Pine before.

Lauren and her father are driving home one night when a mysterious, unresponsive figure steps out into the road. They bundle her into their truck, take her home to safety and give her a good meal. In the morning, the woman has gone. But only Lauren can remember what happened the night before. Odd occurrences like this aren’t all that unusual in the small town on the outskirts of the pine forest in the Scottish highlands though. Strange things sometimes happen, people go missing without a trace…

I really felt for Lauren who is such a beautifully written character. Her innocence and her maturity broke my heart in equal measure. She really got under my skin and I was repeatedly drawn back to the book to see what was going to happen next. I willed for her to have a happy ending. You’ll have to pick up a copy of the book yourself to see if she does.

For a debut, this is quite an astonishing book. The prose is stunning and the setting is creepy and atmospheric, almost haunting. I would go as far as saying it is a character in it’s own right. There’s a supernatural feel to Pine which had me on the edge of my seat. The author sprinkles unease over her story from start to finish and I loved how the building sense of the unknown drew me into the pages. I was hooked and with Lauren every step of the way.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Pine is a beautiful slow-burn gothic mystery. I’m a huge fan of claustrophobic small town settings and Toon has achieved something great here. It’s haunting and suspenseful, eerie and compelling. A tale of fractured relationships, grief and addiction. Of lives destroyed and of lives with just nowhere to go. As I said earlier, I’ve not read anything like this before and I don’t expect to read anything like it again. Recommended.

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

Pine by Francine Toon was published in the UK by Doubleday on 1st October 2020 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryBookshop.orgthe damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Francine Toon grew up in Sutherland and Fife, Scotland. Her poetry, written as Francine Elena, has appeared in The Sunday Times, The Best British Poetry 2013 and 2015 anthologies (Salt) and Poetry London, among other places. Pine was longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writers Award. She lives in London and works in publishing.

#BookReview: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #TheHuntingParty

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“In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year.

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider

The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.”

There are some books you see and you know you HAVE to read them. It may be a striking cover, it may be an intriguing blurb or it may just be a feeling in your gut that you’re going to miss out on something GREAT if you don’t read a particular book. I can safely say it was all of the above for me when it came to The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a massive fan of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and I had everything crossed that this book was going to have echoes of Christie’s brilliant novel about it. It certainly does but with a wonderfully modern twist to the tale and it stands, two feet firmly on the ground, on its own merit. I love the idea of a group of people completely stranded in a vast inhospitable landscape. People you *think* you know but one of them is a murderer. Who is it? How well do you really know these people? And could you be their next victim…?

University friends Miranda, Katie, Julien, Nick, Giles, Samira and Mark plus the addition of a couple of partners, Bo and Emma, head north from London to the Scottish Highlands for New Year. It’s going to be the holiday of a lifetime, all meticulously planned by prim and proper Emma. However, over the years those strong bonds formed at Oxford have started to break a little. Everyone is busy with their careers or children so it’s tough to find the time to spend together. There’s no escape this New Year though as they’ll be living in each other pockets, miles from anywhere. Just how long will the friends be able to stand each other. How long can they keep the secrets they hide?

The characters and the setting absolutely make this book. The isolation of the Scottish Highlands, teamed with Foley’s very intriguing cast of characters kept me turning the pages at a rate of knots. I can’t say I particularly liked any of them but that never really matters to me. In fact, the more secretive and the more despicable a character is the more I enjoy the book! I wanted to know more, so much so that I read this book in a matter of days rather than the two weeks it’s been taking to finish a novel of late.

The story is told from several viewpoints; those of Miranda the beautiful ‘it’ girl who craves the attention of everyone around her.  Emma, Mark’s girlfriend who is chief organiser of the holiday and a late addition to the group.  Katie, Miranda’s not-quite-so-glamorous BFF.  Heather, the host at the house who has secrets of her own and Doug, the aloof gamekeeper.  Despite using several different voices to tell the story I didn’t find it confusing as all of the narrators stand apart from one another.  They are all very different distinct characters.

What I loved was that the reader discovers there has been a murder fairly early on. Foley, however, manages to keep who the victim is a secret until very near the end of the story. You can’t help speculating though. I make a couple of guesses as I progressed through the book. I won’t mention that there were times when I really hoped it was a certain dastardly character though 😉.  I can’t really put into words how compelling The Hunting Party is so I suggest you get a copy yourself and experience this brilliant book first-hand.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  Without a moment’s hesitation.  It’s creepy and claustrophobic with a brilliant ending.  It’s a perfect example of the books I love to read.  A great page-turner of a book with intriguing characters, a fabulous remote setting and shedloads of suspicion and suspense.  More please! Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review The Hunting Party.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 24th January 2019 and is available in hardback, ebook and audio formats with the paperback to follow later this year (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

about-the-author3

lucy foly.jpgLucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

Author Links:FacebookTwitter | Instagram |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer (@mark_farrer) #TheGoodTheBadTheRugby @cobaltdinosaur

GBR-Front-Cover.jpg“Getting to the truth. By trial… and eror error.

Cullen is on jury duty, and the sleepy Scottish town of Melrose is experiencing a rare crime wave: the famous Rugby Sevens trophy is stolen, a dead body is unearthed, there is a spate of petty arson, and someone drives a van into Gloria’s front room.
Why? And what is her husband doing every night up on Eildon hill?

In this hilarious crime romp, misguided loyalties, thwarted love, and unbelievable gullibility reach crisis point on the one day in the year when the world pays a visit to Melrose.

At the final whistle, Cullen will ensure that justice is done.

Because sometimes twelve good men just isn’t enough.”

A very warm welcome to the blog today and to the final stop on The Good, The Bad & The Rugby blog tour.  I’m once again handing the reins of the blog over to my husband who is my overused and underappreciated guest reviewer!  Here’s what Ryan thought about The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer…

I’ve just read “The Good, The Bad & The Rugby” and am delighted to be reviewing it for damppebbles.  Crime fiction comedy writers can miss the mark in many different ways; focusing on the comedic value rather than the story, humorous twists that are way too obvious and having long periods of story telling between “the funny bits”.   But as I think back on this book I believe Mark Farrer nailed it!  I’m not one of those reviewers who leaves these things to the end, it was 5 stars, my favourite fiction book of the year.

As I read the story it reminded me of Christopher Brookmyre’s work; fantastic characterisation, a well-paced and balanced storyline and lots of laughs.  I think the title is good but hope it doesn’t scare readers off who aren’t rugby fans.   You don’t need to be a rugby fan to enjoy this book.

I don’t know about you but one of my main criteria for judging a book like this is l how I reacted, so let’s do the checklist;

1) Did I laugh out loud? Yes

2) Did I laugh out loud somewhere I would have preferred not to? Yes (seat 13b of flight BA705 Vienna to Heathrow)

3) Did I read bits out to my wife despite not considering context or whether she was interested? Yes

4) Am I sad the books finished? Yes

5) Am I going to tell people about the book? Yes

So five out of five!  I have a sad Kindle staring forlornly at me now, it will surely have more of Mark’s books on it in the near future.

Looking forward to my next adventure with these characters!

I think he liked it! If Mark Farrer’s books encourage my husband to read more fiction then I am over the moon.

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer was published in the UK on 18th October 2018 and is available in paperback 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.uk | amazon.com |

dirty barry

Download Mark Farrer’s novella DIRTY BARRY for FREE via this LINK!

 


UK Only Giveaway:

For your chance to win 2 bookmarks featuring the covers of all four of Mark Farrer’s books, please click the following Rafflecopter link.  Please note this a UK only giveaway.  The 14 winners will be selected at random and your postal address will be passed onto Mark Farrer.  There is no cash alternative.  The giveaway ends of midnight (GMT) on 16th November 2018.  Any personal information stored by the Rafflecopter giveway will be deleted after the winners have been drawn.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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about-the-author3

Mark Farrer.jpgMark was born in Liverpool, studied Computer Science at Hull University, then had a successful career in IT management in London and the South-East for twenty years before moving to Edinburgh in 2001. He continued working in IT until 2015 when he decided to retire from the rat race and focus on becoming a writer. He now spends half his time writing and the other half worrying why he is not yet making money from writing.

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby is Mark’s third comic novel featuring a morally righteous loner called Cullen. He also has a perma-free novella on Amazon, called Dirty Barry, which tells how Cullen and Big Paul first met. He is currently at work on a second novella, called Bronchial Billy.

Mark has three children, one at University, one on a gap year in Ghana, and one still at High School. He lives with his partner Claire, a photographer, near West Linton, in the Scottish Borders.

He likes: his Mini Cooper, songwriting, playing piano, vanilla pannacotta, The Beatles, woodburning stoves, wittertainment, Bill Bailey, #sadmanonatrain, fruit gums, Carl Hiaasen, The Wire, spicy food, Van Gogh, Lindsey Buckingham, oaked chardonnay, House MD, long walks, cinema, reading in bed, florentines, Only Connect, board games, Otis Lee Crenshaw, Budweiser, GBBO, India, cheese, David Armand’s mimes, bookshops, Scandi Noir, Diet Coke, The Economist, Blackadder, good sausages, Dickens, Helena Bonham-Carter (secret crush), the Times crossword, the song mmmbop, and pies.

And lists.

He dislikes: ITV, pinot grigio, tattoos, ballet, ready meals, rap, religion, clutter, artificial raspberry flavouring, marmite, jazz, under-powered showers, people who don’t look after their stuff, opera, sprouts, and waste.

And mashed potato.

He really doesn’t like mashed potato.

Author Links: Twitter | Website | Amazon |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Perfect Dead by Jackie Baldwin (@JackieMBaldwin1) @KillerReads @LoveBooksGroup #PerfectDead

Perfect Dead - high-res - Copy (1).jpg“Each murder brings him one step closer to the perfect death.

Ex-priest, DI Farrell is called on to investigate a gruesome death in rural Scotland. All evidence points to suicide, except for one loose end: every light in the cottage was switched off. Why would he kill himself in the dark?

The question sparks a murder investigation that leads to the mysterious Ivy House, home of ‘The Collective,’ a sinister commune of artists who will do anything to keep their twisted secrets hidden.

And when the remains of a young girl are uncovered on a barren stretch of coastline, Farrell realises that there is something rotten in this tight-knit community. Now he must track down a ruthless killer before another person dies, this time much closer to home…”

I am thrilled to be one of two blogs kicking off the Perfect Dead blog tour today.  Perfect Dead is the second book in the DI Frank Farrell series written by Jackie Baldwin and it’s published by Killer Reads in eBook TODAY!  A very happy publication day to Jackie and the Killer Reads team.

I was a huge fan of Baldwin’s first DI Farrell book, Dead Man’s Prayer.  So much so, that it featured on my books of 2016 list.  Which means that I’ve been waiting for the release of Perfect Dead and Frank’s second outing with bated breath.  For those new to this series our protagonist is DI Frank Farrell, an ex-priest turned Detective Inspector in the Dumfries and Galloway area of Scotland.  Frank is conflicted as he doesn’t really know where his heart truly lies; is he destined to hunt the seedy criminals and lowlifes of the lowland or does he have a much higher, spiritual calling?  What I love most about Frank Farrell is that he is unlike any of the other detectives I tend to read about.  They are more often than not addiction driven, tortured souls but Frank, with his past in the Church, isn’t.  He fascinates me.

I was also delighted to see DC Mhairi McLeod make a welcome return to proceedings.  Her intelligent insight and her wonderfully feisty attitude really added to the story for me this time around.  I liked her character in the first book but I felt she really came to life in Perfect Dead, often leaving DI Farrell in the shadows.

When Frank and Mhairi are called to a suicide in Kirkcudbright something just doesn’t feel right.  Gut instinct and a good investigative brain mean that before long they are treating the artist’s death as suspicious.  The investigation leads to ‘The Collective’s door, a group of uninhibited ‘invite only’ artists who keep themselves to themselves and their secrets well and truly hidden.  Frank’s suspicious suicide was once part of ‘The Collective’ flock, so it’s only natural that he starts asking questions.  But that’s only the beginning.  When the remains of a young woman, missing for several years is discovered nearby, all roads lead to ‘The Collective’.

I really enjoyed how there were several plot threads intricately woven throughout the story and the way the author managed to keep the investigations separate, to a point.  Parts of the story I found a little predictable but then I just can’t help playing amateur detective whilst reading detective fiction (any fiction!).  I was looking for clues from the moment I started to read which is very normal for me.  It certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.  Although I had guessed ‘whodunit’ I really did love the conclusion of Perfect Dead.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I love how Jackie Baldwin writes and her characters are wonderfully unique.  I just can’t help myself when it comes to DI Frank Farrell, there’s something so appealing about him that I will read this series until the author decides she has had enough!  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the team in action again and I can’t wait to see what Baldwin has in store for us next.  A delightfully intricate and enjoyable novel.

Four out of five stars.

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

Perfect Dead by Jackie Baldwin was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 15th June 2018 and is available in eBook format, with the paperback to follow in August (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Jackie_02_by_Kim_AyresJackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer. Her debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, was published by Killer Reads, Harper Collins on 2nd September 2016. The second in the series, Perfect Dead was published on 15th June 2018. For most of her working life, she has been a solicitor specialising in Family and Criminal Law. However, she now practices in Dumfries as a hypnotherapist which is where her novels are set. Married, with two grown-up children, she has filled her empty nest with Golden Retrievers. She can often be found in a forest walking the dogs, covered in mud and with twigs in her hair.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Past Echoes by Graham Smith (@GrahamSmith1972) @Bloodhoundbook #PastEchoes

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“Jake Boulder is back and he’s tasked with tracking down a man due to inherit a small fortune. Not only that, he must also reveal the secret which forced a young woman to flee New York some forty years ago. The evidence he needs is hidden in a safety deposit box and while Boulder has the key, the only clue he has for box’s location is a series of numbers etched onto the key and a mysterious list of names.

Boulder has his work cut out since he must also locate his estranged father, Cameron MacDonald, so that Cameron can donate bone marrow to Boulder’s half-brother John.

In a game of cat and mouse, he must solve the case and find the two men without alerting those who control New York’s underworld.

Can Boulder survive against both the mafia and a professional hitman, in what is his toughest case yet?”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Past Echoes blog blitz. Past Echoes is the third book in the Jake Boulder series, is written by Graham Smith and was published by Bloodhound Books on 1st February 2018. I am such a fan of this series. If you want an entertaining, action-packed read then pick up a Jake Boulder thriller. Just to prove my point, here are my reviews of book one Watching the Bodies and book two The Kindred Killers.

I was eagerly anticipating book three in the series, particularly as The Kindred Killers finished on such an explosive note. And oh boy, I was not disappointed. In my opinion, this is by far the best Jake Boulder book in the series so far. I was completely entranced from start to finish. The main plot point in Past Echoes reveals a more emotional side to this lean, mean, fighting machine. And, in a strange way, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Boulder’s softer side. Although it didn’t last very long and he was back to planning revenge missions and beating the ‘you know what’ out of people in no time!

Past Echoes starts by referring back to the events of The Kindred Killers. I asked myself whether this would hinder a new reader to the series, diving straight in with book three. It always helps when you start at the beginning of a series but I am well known for accidentally (sometimes on purpose *snigger*) starting part way through. My advice is, and will always be, start at the beginning. Watch the characters grow, find out their backstory. Don’t MISS anything. But, saying that, Past Echoes ‘could’ be read as a standalone but only because Smith does an excellent job of filling in the gaps for new readers. Although I can guarantee, if this is the first Jake Boulder book you pick up, you WILL want to read the first two in the series as well. Guaranteed!

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this book was the way the author sets up the story so you think it’s going to go in one particular direction. He then completely wrong-foots you so you’re suddenly on this unexpected, intense and utterly thrilling rollercoaster ride of terror and reading delight. I loved it.

Before I sign off I would like to mention one more thing. The inclusion of Cameron MacDonald, Boulder’s estranged father. A stroke of genius on the author’s part because if you didn’t love Boulder before, once you’ve met his @r5e of a father, you won’t be able to stop yourself from feeling a little for him. Cameron is the lowest of the low. He plays a key role in Past Echoes but I hope this is the last we see of him for some time. I always enjoy it when an author includes a character for us readers to hate. In this case, Cameron fits the bill perfectly. The tension, the unpleasantness MacDonald brings. Oooh, he’s a nasty piece of work…

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. Plus book one, plus book two. Buy the set, they’re superbly gripping with a lead character you can’t help but love. Easily Smith’s best Jake Boulder novel! I couldn’t tell whether Boulder was going to live, or die in a blaze of burning bullets and that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Raw, evocative and deliciously intense. I loved it!

Five out of five stars.

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

Past Echoes by Graham Smith was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 1st February 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Graham Smith Author Pic

Graham Smith is a time served joiner who has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since Christmas 2000, he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland.

He is an internationally best-selling Kindle author and has four books featuring DI Harry Evans and the Cumbrian Major Crimes Team, and two novels, featuring Utah doorman, Jake Boulder.

2018 will be a busy year for Graham as he has the third Jake Boulder being published and a Harry Evans novel and novella.

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer and interviewer for the well-respected website Crimesquad.com since 2009.

Graham is the founder of Crime and Publishment, a weekend of crime-writing classes which includes the chance for attendees to pitch their novels to agents and publishers. Since the first weekend in 2013, eight attendees have gone on to sign publishing contracts.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

#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 |

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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.

#CoverReveal: Shadows by Jackie McLean (@JackieJamxx) @ThunderPointLtd

I am delighted to be part of the cover reveal team for Jackie McLean’s new book, Shadows.  This is McLean’s second DI Donna Davenport crime novel and will be published in eBook on 14th October 2017.  So without further ado, here is the blurb…

A body washed up on Arbroath beach echoes a previous murder. Now a third woman is missing. For DI Donna and her new team, it’s personal. 

 When DI Donna Davenport is called out to investigate a body washed up on Arbroath beach, it looks like a routine murder inquiry. However, it doesn’t take long before it begins to take on a more sinister shape.  There are similarities with a previous murder, and now a woman who is connected with them goes missing.   For Donna, these events become personal, and added to the feeling that she’s being watched, she is convinced that Jonas Evanton has returned to seek his revenge on her for his downfall.  Fearing they may be looking for a serial killer, the trail leads Donna and her new team in an unexpected direction.  Because it’s not a serial killer – it’s worse.

Moving from Dundee to the south coast of Turkey and the Syrian border, this is a fast-paced novel about those who live their lives in the shadows and those who would exploit them.

“Not for the first time, Donna found herself wondering how the hell she had ended up in a situation like this.”

Well….?  What do you think?  Sounds good, doesn’t it.  And now for the cover….

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That’s another book for the terrifying TBR then!  I might as well add Toxic, the first book in the series, which also looks fabulous to the list whilst I’m at it!  No point starting part-way through a series, is there…? 😉

Shadows by Jackie McLean will be published in the UK by Thunder Point Publishing Ltd on 14th October 2017 and will be available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com |

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img_8948-edited_edited.jpgJackie lives in Glasgow with her partner Allison and their dog Loopy.  She has a varied background, including being a government economist, a political lobbyist, and running a pet shop.  She is in and out of prison a lot (in her current job with social work services).  Toxic is her first crime novel, introducing DI Donna Davenport, and was shortlisted in the Yeovil Literary Prize before publication by ThunderPoint Publishing Ltd.  The sequel, Shadows, is about to be published, and she has begun work on the third book in the DI Davenport series (Run).  She runs Get Writing Glasgow, which is a kind of weight watchers for writers, hosted by the Waterstones at Braehead.

Author Links: | Facebook |  Twitter |

 

#CoverReveal: The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange by James Calum Campbell @ImpressBooks1

I am delighted to share the cover of the forthcoming Impress Books release The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange with you today.  #SevenTrials is the second book in the Cameron-Strange series by author James Calum Campbell and is due for release on 1st November 2016.  Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite…

Fox stepped swiftly through the door.  There was an audible click.  And there came the sound of a bolt sliding into place.

What follows is the stuff of nightmares…

Just when the bereaved and troubled Dr Alastair Cameron-Strange rediscovers his life on the other side of the world, the British authorities track him down. They recruit him on a mission which takes him to the farthest reaches of New Zealand, to Xanadu with all its grotesque gargoyles, chief among them Phineas Fox, the American business tycoon whose baleful eye is on the White House.  There’s something not quite right about Mr Fox, and Cameron-Strange, with the help of the beautiful Nikki, is determined to find out what it is.  He survives six ordeals, but will he survive a seventh?

I can’t wait to read this!  It sounds so good and a little different, which can only be a good thing.  And now for that brilliant cover…

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Fabulous cover! You can pre-order The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange by clicking here. Make sure you join me on 1st November when I will have a guest post from author James Calum Campbell as part of the blog tour.

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James Calum Campbell is a doctor-turned-author who divides his time between Scotland and New Zealand. He won the Impress Prize for New Writers 2014 with his debut novel Click, Double-Click. He was born in Glasgow, read Medicine at Edinburgh, and practised in Papua New Guinea, Queensland, and Auckland, where he was Clinical Head of the busiest emergency department in Australasia.