#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Without Rules by Andrew Field (@AFwithoutrules) @cobaltdinosaur #WithoutRules

Without Rules cover.jpg“When a professional hitman turns up at Candy’s World to hide, China Mackie discovers her plan to flee from her abusive father has tragically backfired.

A gruesome bloodbath has left four people dead on the streets of a northern city centre on a cold wet Sunday morning.

China knows she’s next to die.

Unless she is more ruthless than everyone else.

She must improvise fast. Seduce her father’s assassin. Plead her case so he helps her escape in a fight to the death where rules don’t matter but the consequences do.”

It is my pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and my guest reviewer’s stop on the Without Rules blog blitz.  My guest reviewer, should you not be familiar with him, is my dear husband Ryan.  Having been a passionate reader when we first met, Ryan is a reluctant reader these days.  So I try and reignite his love of literature by encouraging him to occasionally guest review on the blog.  What sickens me is that he’s actually better at review writing than me! (Not reading, mind.  I am the MASTER of the house at reading!) I’m not here really, a mere figment of your imagination.  It’s all about Ryan and what he thought of Without Rules by Andrew Field…

Sometimes I don’t want to read….Now I admit that is not a usual way to start a book review and Mr Field is probably slightly worried!  But after a day of work, playing with the kids and sorting out a few things in the house I don’t really want to sit down and concentrate on a book.  Without Rules by Andrew Field is probably exactly what I have been needing on evenings like this.  A fast-paced story which sharply cuts between scenes and a story being told from multiple character viewpoints.  This is a story that sucks you in and washes over you without any undue effort from the reader.

Without Rules is unusual for me in that I didn’t really like any of the characters, there was little of your classic all good all action hero, rather we had characters with back stories which became clear throughout the story moving between hero, anti-hero and anti-anti-hero (is that a thing?).  The books main characters Jak and China are thrown together through circumstance at the start of the book, both have motives that are unclear at that stage but as the book develops we see the story unfold for both of them.  Scenes through their own eyes, as well as those of the police and others around them bring multiple story lines together as the story moves along and both have to make decisions that will yield consequences for many.

I would love to read short stories by Andrew Field as he is not afraid to take a character in an unexpected direction at a paragraphs notice. He cleverly moves your feelings towards the characters through the situations they find themselves in and your evolving understanding of their history.  Is it realistic?  Not overly but it has that Jack Reacher style adventure and exuberance to it that makes you go with it and enjoy the ride.   As the blurb says this storle y is not about rules, only consequences!

Would I recommend this book?  I would, this was everything it should be fun, absorbing with an interesting cast of characters who will continually surprise you!

4 stars

Told you. Better at writing reviews than me.  This review really makes me want to read Without Rules!

Without Rules by Andrew Field was published in the UK by Boomslang on 15th 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 | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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Andrew Field new photo.jpgAndrew Field has spent most of his working life as a PR and marketing consultant helping raise the profiles of others. Now the roles are reversed as he steps into the spotlight as the author of Without Rules, a crime thriller about vulnerable people forced to do bad things to escape evil people. “Authors, by the nature of what they do, are relatively introverted. They work in isolation. Inhabit imaginary worlds of their own creation. They can spend ages staring at a computer screen bringing their characters to life. Then they have to become a different person to promote their work and market themselves. Writing is the easy part compared to the marketing, especially when crime fiction has become a very crowded marketplace.”

“From my point of view, professional PR people operate best from behind the scenes. They should never become the story otherwise you’re deflecting attention away from the messages you’re trying to communicate,” says Andrew. “The New Labour experiment, for example, was doomed the minute Tony Blair’s media guru Alistair Campbell generated his own headlines. Bragged about ‘spin’.  Believed his own hype. Ditto Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci’s 10-day tenure as the shortest-serving White House communications director in history – and his “off the record” expletive-ridden rant about his colleagues in Donald Trump’s White House.”

As a PR, Andrew memorably handled Boddingtons Bitter during its “Cream of Manchester” heyday, developing innovative sports and cultural media partnerships with newspapers and TV stations for the beer brand – but also PR’d a fashion entrepreneur who was a convicted armed bank robber and a property developer who did eighteen months prison time for blackmail. “Having a diverse range of clients keeps it interesting. They are all different but the core requirement is to be seen as a believable and trusted information source ready to take advantage of PR opportunities as and when they arise. As a novelist, you look to do exactly the same with your work and yourself.”

“The catalyst for Without Rules was a friend testifying against her father in an abuse case. Although the prosecution was successful, she can never really escape the consequences of what happened to her. She has to find a way of coping for the rest of her life while he was sentenced to two and half years.”

Andrew says crime fiction has a duty to try and educate and as well as entertain. “The memorable books are the ones you’re still thinking about 48-hours after you finished reading.”

Andrew lives, works and plays in Manchester, England, Europe, with his partner, Catherine. He has been a trade journalist in Southampton in his youth. He owned a PR agency in the nineties and early noughties and is now an independent PR, marketing and publishing consultant looking forward to the challenge of becoming the story with the publication of Without Rules.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Instagram | Andrew Field Online Book Shop |

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damppebbles #BookReview: Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager @EburyPublishing #LastTimeILied #20BooksofSummer

last time i lies

“Have you ever played two truths and a lie?

It was Emma’s first summer away from home. She made friends. She played games. And she learned how to lie.

Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned. . .

Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime.

Because Emma’s innocence might be the biggest lie of all. . .

A gripping new thriller that you won’t be able to put down with a plot that will keep you guessing. If you enjoyed A. J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window, you’ll love Last Time I Lied”

Of all the books in all the world that are due to be published in 2018, THIS book was my most eagerly anticipated read. I could not wait to get my paws on Last Time I Lied. Why, you ask? Well, dear reader, it’s because Riley Sager’s debut, Final Girls, blew my mind. It was my number one book of 2017, it’s claimed a top space on my favourite books of ‘ALL TIME’ list and it left me with the biggest book hangover I have ever experienced! I loved it. Actually, I more than loved it. I became quite obsessed with it. Have you read Final Girls? No? You REALLY should…

But this isn’t a review of Final Girls. This is its follow-up and I have a confession to make. I’ve had Last Time I Lied on my NetGalley TBR since the start of the year. I bet you’ve been there. You’re so looking forward to reading a book but you’re nervous too, really flipping nervous. Will it live up to its predecessor? Am I expecting too much? (Yes.) Have my expectations been blown wildly out of proportion? (Yes.) Will I cope if the book disappoints me? (Most probably not.) You know what I’m talking about, right?

I was nervous making a start, really flipping nervous. My nerves were somewhat calmed by discovering that our lead character is called Emma (brilliant name, more Emmas are needed in books! Might have said that before). The reader discovers that Emma attended Summer Camp at the tender age of thirteen. She made friends, learnt new skills, discovered boys and suffered one of the most devastating events of her young life. Her three cabin mates; Vivian, Natalie and Allison snuck out early one morning, never to return. Traumatised well into her adult life by the events and the guilt of 15 years ago, Emma turns to art and becomes a well-known painter. Each forest scene she creates contains the three missing girls, painted over in great swathes of green and brown oil paint. Surprisingly, her latest benefactor is Mrs Francesca Harris-White, multi-millionairess and head of Nightingale Camp where the devasting events of 15 years ago happened. Harris-White is reopening the camp and wants bygones to be bygones, so invites Emma to return to Camp Nightingale as an art instructor. Emma feels she wants to put the past behind her and returning to the scene of the crime will help lay the ghosts of 15 years ago to rest. But memories run long and someone knows that Emma lied all those years ago…

Before I go any further I want to get something out of my system. I enjoyed reading Last Time I Lied, it’s a great book and it will have an army of fans singing its praises, but I’m afraid it didn’t get anywhere near close to Final Girls in my opinion. I’m so upset, so sad that I didn’t love Last Time I Lied. This is proper #bookbloggerproblems territory here, people. I feel absolutely rotten that I didn’t love this book and I’m kicking myself for missing what others have seen and loved. So much so, I am – for the first time in a LONG time – considering re-reading in the next few weeks!

It’s weird, I didn’t really relate in any way to Quincy’s story in Final Girls (but loved everything about it) and I really struggled to connect with Emma’s story. I can’t quite understand what the massive difference is between these two books for me. What I do know is this book is not Final Girls. It was never going to be Final Girls. I just realised that too late and my experience of Last Time I Lied suffered because of it (hence the planned re-read!). It’s a good read, it just doesn’t compare to its mighty predecessor.

I found the ‘whodunit’ a little obvious. There were several times when the author made me doubt myself but I always came back to the same conclusion and in the end I was right. The story moved along at an enjoyable pace and I wanted to discover what was going to happen next, but I had moments where I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading or it all seemed a little too far-fetched. There was a wonderful twist towards the end of the book that I didn’t see coming and it really satisfied my need for something a bit darker to happen. However, the author skillfully uses flashbacks again in this book to tell his protagonist’s frightening tale and create a vivid picture for the reader of their palpable fear which I couldn’t fault.

Would I recommend this book? I would. But I’d make sure you read Final Girls first as that is by far the superior book (IMHO). It’s an interesting tale, Emma intrigued me but became a little too whiny for my tastes at times. My heart was 100% with the devilishly devious Vivian and I could read about her all day long! I’m so glad I read Last Time I Lied. It was enjoyable, and I will recommend it in the future. There was a wonderful ‘horror movie’ element to Final Girls which I really missed in Last Time I Lied. It lacked a certain darkness that Final Girls had and I missed it enough for it to be a ‘thing’ for me. I’m sorry.

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

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Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Ebury Press on 12th July 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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pseudonym

Riley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Riley’s first novel, FINAL GIRLS (called “The first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King), was published in 2017 in the United States, the United Kingdom and more than twenty countries around the world.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond @MichaelJBooks @PenguinUKBooks #20BooksofSummer #TheMarriagePact #Giveaway

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“First comes love. Then comes marriage. Then comes your first big mistake.

How far are you willing to go for the perfect relationship?

Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered a mysterious wedding gift – membership of a club which promises its couples will never divorce.

Signing The Pact seems the start to a perfect marriage.

Until one of them breaks the rules.

The marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Because The Pact is for life.

And its members will do anything to make sure no one leaves . . .”

Michelle Richmond’s The Marriage Pact has been on my bookish radar for some time now. It was mentioned as part of my #R3COMM3ND3D2017 feature where I immediately added it to the TBR. I was then lucky enough to receive a paperback copy from the lovely Dead Good team as a Valentine’s Day treat (more about that later!). And then, of course, I kept seeing some really good reviews. Bearing all of this in mind, it was a natural addition to my #20BooksofSummer challenge.

I absolutely love the concept of this book. I love it when weird, life-altering, mostly catastrophic things happen to normal, run-of-the-mill people. Just me then? Oh… Anyway, the thought of a newlywed couple suddenly being trapped in a pact with a group of controlling strangers, having to live by the rules of the group (no matter how humiliating or demeaning) and managing to break the rules without even trying was something I had to read about. I’ll admit, the plot is a little far-fetched but d’you know what? I was just after an entertaining read, something a little different to my much-loved detective fiction and that’s exactly what I got with The Marriage Pact. A highly entertaining read.

When I was able to find time to sit down and read The Marriage Pact I found it an incredibly easy read, flying through the pages in great chunks and not realising that hours had passed. I was desperate to see what awful predicament Jake and Alice were going to find themselves in and what terrifying punishment they were to be subjected to. At times I found myself feeling really quite uncomfortable; as though I was intruding on a young couple’s most personal moments. I was also irked that many of the odd punishments were meted out to Alice, the wife, where little seemed to happen in the beginning to Jake, the husband, (he doesn’t get away scot-free but I do believe Alice suffers a lot more than her husband). I’m a huge fan of a strong female lead in my novels and Alice had so much potential with her punky, free-spirited background but she never really got going in my eyes. Was she diluted because of her marriage to Jake or was the pact to blame? I guess we’ll never know

I’m afraid I really struggled with the ending of The Marriage Pact. Things were going great guns and I was engrossed in the terrible punishments The Pact were dishing out to our beleaguered couple, but then the ending happened and I had a bit of a ‘huh?’ moment. For a thriller, the ending is quite sedate and I will be totally honest here and say I was a little disappointed. I had an inkling that the story was building up to ‘that ending’ but had hoped the author would pull something utterly mesmerising and unexpected out of the bag. It’s a well-written book with a nice ending. My black heart, unfortunately, wasn’t quite satisfied with a nice ending.

Would I recommend this book? I enjoyed 90% of The Marriage Pact and it’s only because I’m a fan of the darker side of fiction that I think I was a little disappointed with the ending. I would recommend this book but to readers who maybe err towards the gentler side of thriller fiction. It’s well written with a really interesting concept (although a little far-fetched at times) but most of all, I found this book entertaining and that’s exactly what I was after. I liked it!

Three out of five stars.

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

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GIVEAWAY:
The lovely folk at Dead Good sent me a paperback copy of The Marriage Pact but I decided to read my eARC (it’s a long story which involves adjusting (or not!) to new varifocal glasses which I won’t bore you with!). So I have an unread paperback copy of The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond which I am going to give away to one lucky UK winner!

To be in with a chance all you have to do is leave a comment below. It’s that simple. The winner will be selected at random and will need to provide their postal address so I can send them their prize. The competition will close at midday on Monday 25th June 2018 and the winner will be notified shortly afterwards. There is no cash alternative. Good luck everyone!

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond was published in the UK by Michael Joseph Books on 14th December 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback and eBooks formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of five novels and two award-winning story collections. Her books include the 2017 psychological thriller THE MARRIAGE PACT, which has been sold in 30 languages and was a Sunday Times bestseller in the UK; GOLDEN STATE, the critically acclaimed novel that imagines modern-day California on the brink of secession from the United States; the international bestseller THE YEAR OF FOG; and the story collection HUM, winner of the Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. Her novels are set in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives, and in the South, where she grew up. Michelle was born and raised in Alabama and has made her home for eighteen years in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and son.

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

Author Image and Bio © http://michellerichmond.com/

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty (@Hardisty_Paul) @OrendaBooks #Absolution #ClaymoreStraker

absolution“It is 1997, eight months since vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker fled South Africa after his explosive testimony to Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In Paris, Rania LaTour, journalist, comes home to find that her son and her husband, a celebrated human rights lawyer, have disappeared. On an isolated island off the coast of East Africa, the family that Clay has befriended is murdered as he watches.

So begins the fourth instalment in the Claymore Straker series, a breakneck journey through the darkest reaches of the human soul, as Clay and Rania fight to uncover the mystery behind the disappearances and murders, and find those responsible. Events lead them both inexorably to Egypt, where an act of the most shocking terrorist brutality will reveal not only why those they loved were sacrificed, but how they were both, indirectly, responsible.

Relentlessly pursued by those who want them dead, they must work together to uncover the truth, and to find a way to survive in a world gone crazy. At times brutal, often lyrical, but always gripping, Absolutionis a thriller that will leave you breathless and questioning the very basis of how we live and why we love.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Absolution blog tour. Absolution is the fourth book in the Claymore Straker series written by author, Paul E. Hardisty and published by Orenda Books. I had the pleasure of reading ‘The Evolution of Fear‘, the second book in this series back in 2016; you can read that review by clicking HERE. I also took part in the blog tour for the third book, ‘Reconciliation for the Dead‘ with a rather stonking guest post.

It’s been a while since I was last acquainted with the dynamic and dangerous Claymore Straker and oh my goodness, it seems so much has happened to him, near him and because of him in the meantime! But then this is Claymore Straker we’re talking about here and he’s no ordinary man. The reader only has to wait until a mere 4% into the book before the action starts and oh boy, it is a shocker! But then I would expect nothing less from the pen of this highly descriptive and thoroughly accomplished author. One of the things I always enjoy about Paul E. Hardisty’s Straker books is that they are intelligent, well-researched works which the reader can sit back and immerse themselves in. As you’re reading you feel that you’re in safe, knowledgeable hands which only adds to the reading experience.

Chapters alternate between letters from Straker’s lover, Rania and life as it happens to Straker. The chapters which narrate Claymore’s journey are high-octane, thrill rides which leave you wondering what could possibly go wrong next. Will Claymore survive the next gun-toting militant he has the unfortunate pleasure of stumbling upon? Well, you’ll have to read the book for yourself and find out.

I loved the letters from Rania. Early on the reader discovers that Rania never intends on sending the letters to Claymore, which makes them all the more candid. A fascinating glimpse into the mind of a modern Muslim woman, and how her strong belief system supports her through difficult times, and occasionally takes her life in a direction she would rather it not go. I really felt for Rania on many levels. But above all else, her character appealed to me because I always like a kick-ass female character.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a fan of the thriller novel then yes, absolutely! You must read this book, along with the others in the series. As far as thrillers go, this is the most detailed, intelligent and captivating series out there with a heck of a lot of heart added for good measure!

Four out of five stars.

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

Absolution by Paul E. Hardisty was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook format (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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Paul HardistyCanadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

Author Links: | Twitter |

 

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: Pressure by Betsy Reavley (@BetsyReavley) @BloodhoundBook #Pressure

Betsy Reavley - Pressure_cover_high res.jpg“When the submarine departed, none of the ten people on board knew it would turn into a nightmare.

Trapped on the sunken vessel on the bottom of the ocean and unable to escape, one of them is discovered dead. The tension escalates as the survivors realise there is a murderer among them, who is preparing to strike again and again…

With mounting desperation, people begin to turn on each other. While they struggle to identify who is responsible, each must contend with their own past, the claustrophobia and the secrets they are hiding. 

But who is who?  And which of them will be next to die? 

Below the surface, the pressure is building and time is running out…”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Pressure blog blitz.  Pressure is the latest release from author and entrepreneur, Betsy Reavley.  I absolutely fell in love with the magnificent The Optician’s Wife, one of Reavley’s earlier releases which, if you haven’t read yet then you really should get yourself a copy!  My love for The Optician’s Wife always makes Betsy Reavley’s books something to look forward to for me.  Pressure is published today so a very happy book birthday to Betsy and the team at Bloodhound Books.

I found Pressure to be lots of fun; lots of blood-soaked, terrifying, ‘impending sense of doom’ fun.  My absolute favourite type!  Regular visitors to the blog will know that I am a sucker for crime/horror crossover books (I flipping LOVE them!).  And although this isn’t really a horror novel I had that feeling while reading, that fear in the pit of my stomach, that uncertainty and that glorious unease a good horror book can give to its reader.  What you may not know about me is that I am a terrible claustrophobic; I can’t even play ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ at my children’s birthday parties as having my eyes covered makes me panic.  If like me you tend to suffer from an intense fear of confined spaces then Pressure should probably come with a health warning.  It’s about a submarine.  Not only is it about a submarine, it’s about a submarine which fails and sinks to the ocean floor with ten people onboard.  And one of them is a murderer, slowly killing the others off, one by one.

I loved the setup of this book.  I’m a huge fan of stories where the characters are trapped, with little to no chance of escape and one sadistic soul is offing them in disturbing and unique ways.  Parts of Pressure reminded me of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None with a cast of devilish characters hiding their dastardly secrets from the rest of the world.  I spent my time reading Pressure and ATTWN not being sure who the murder was.  Reavley has done a masterful job of throwing in some very convincing red herrings along the way and boy, did I fall for them!

Each chapter is either told from a child’s perspective, told in real-time as the bodies mount on the submarine or, is one of the characters giving a brief snapshot into their background, a fleeting glimpse into their past and often the wrongs they have committed.  The chapters narrated by the child are hard-hitting and difficult to read at times.  The unknown narrator tells a tale of extreme abuse, of a mother’s hatred for their child and of a life lived very much alone.  As the child grows into a young adult the reader gets to see how this horrific abuse has contributed towards and helped cause unending damage to this young mind (nature or nurture, I’m not sure).

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It was a compelling read and just the sort of book I love to lose myself in.  Being really rather grisly in places just added to the enjoyment for me.  As I progressed towards the end I was starting to feel a sense of disappointment, I believed I had guessed what was going to happen next and it wasn’t what I would have chosen.  But I was wrong, and the ending couldn’t have been better.

Four stars out of five.

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

Pressure by Betsy Reavley was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 4th May 2018 and is available in paperback and eBook formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook |

#Giveaway: Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic | @pushkinpress #PuskinVertigo @tabithapelly #CalebZelic #ResurrectionBay

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“Caleb Zelic can’t hear you. But he can see everything.

The prizewinning debut thriller from the new name in crime

CALEB ZELIC IS ON THE HUNT FOR HIS FRIEND’S KILLER

His childhood friend has been brutally murdered at his home in Melbourne. Tortured by guilt, Caleb vows to track down the killer. But he’s profoundly deaf; missed words and misread lips can lead to confusion, and trouble.

HE NEVER FORGETS A FACE

Fortunately, Caleb knows how to read people; a sideways glance, an unconvincing smile, speak volumes. When his friend Frankie, a former cop, offers to help, they soon discover the killer is on their tail.

IT MIGHT JUST SAVE HIS LIFE

Sensing that his ex-wife may also be in danger, Caleb insists they return to their hometown of Resurrection Bay. But here he learns that everyone – including his murdered friend – is hiding something. And the deeper he digs, the darker the secrets.”

The warmest of welcomes to the blog today bookish friends, and what a wonderful day you have chosen to join me on. Today I have a treat in store for one lucky UK reader. The chance to win a copy of Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic, which is published in paperback TODAY! A very happy publication day to Emma and the folk at Pushkin Press.

Now, I haven’t had the pleasure of reading Resurrection Bay yet but you, yes you, you potentially lucky soul, could be the proud owner of a paperback copy (providing you live in the UK and adhere to the rules of the competition – which aren’t tricky).

All you need to do to enter is retweet THIS TWEET and tag at least 3 bookish friends. I’m always grateful for any shares of my posts but sharing and retweeting this post to Twitter or Facebook does not count 😱. Only retweets of my pinned post on Twitter will be entered into the draw.

The small print: UK residents only. Giveaway closes at midday on Saturday 14th April 2018 (BST). Winner will be selected at random. There is no cash alternative. The winner will need to provide their postal address which I will then forward onto Pushkin Press. The winner’s address will not be held by damppebbles.com.

Good luck everyone!

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Emma Viskic is the author of the multi-award-winning Caleb Zelic series, RESURRECTION BAY and AND FIRE CAME DOWN. RESURRECTION BAY won the 2016 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, as well as an unprecedented three Davitt Awards: Best Adult Novel, Best Debut, and Readers’ Choice. It was iBooks Australia’s Crime Novel of the Year and a UK Financial Times Book of the Year.

Emma studied Australian sign language (Auslan) in order to research the character of Caleb Zelic.

Also a classically trained clarinettist, Emma’s musical career has ranged from performing with José Carreras and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, to busking in the London Underground. She lives in Melbourne and divides her time between writing, performing, and teaching.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Author image and bio © http://www.emma-viskic.com/

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell (@Caroline_writes) #ThomasandMercer @midaspr #SilentVictim

silent victim.jpg“Emma’s darkest secrets are buried in the past. But the truth can’t stay hidden for long.

Emma is a loving wife, a devoted mother…and an involuntary killer. For years she’s been hiding the dead body of the teacher who seduced her as a teen.

It’s a secret that might have stayed buried if only her life had been less perfect. A promotion for Emma’s husband, Alex, means they can finally move to a bigger home with their young son. But with a buyer lined up for their old house, Emma can’t leave without destroying every last trace of her final revenge…

Returning to the shallow grave in the garden, she finds it empty. The body is gone.

Panicked, Emma confesses to her husband. But this is only the beginning. Soon, Alex will discover things about her he’ll wish he’d learned sooner. And others he’ll long to forget.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the Silent Victim blog tour.  Silent Victim is the latest release from one of my favourite authors, Caroline Mitchell.  I have been a fan of Mitchell’s writing for some time now but this (I’m ashamed to admit) is the first of her standalone psychological thrillers I have read.  I normally go giddy over her superb police procedurals which, being a former police detective, have bucketloads of realism in them.  But this…..this wonderfully addictive piece of fiction blew me away!  There was something so different, so beautifully dark about the writing that I was pretty smitten from the very first page.

We meet Emma (great name, there aren’t enough ‘Emma’s’ in the books I read!), our lead character whilst she is burying a body!  The reader immediately knows that this is not a normal night out for Emma and disposing of bodies in her palatial back garden is not something she does to pass the time.  I could feel the character’s disbelief, the sheer terror of the situation and the realisation of what she had done.  If the prologue of Silent Victim doesn’t draw you head first into this compulsive story then there’s no hope left for you I’m afraid.

Life is….good for Emma, her husband and their young son, Jamie.  Alex, Emma’s husband is desperate to return to the North though, to Leeds where he was born and spent many happy years.  So when a promotion lands in his lap, he grabs it with both hands.  Emma would like to make a clean break of it too, but is fully aware of the secrets buried in her garden.  Going behind Emma’s back Alex manages to find an eager cash buyer for their home and starts the search for a suitable property in Leeds.  The implications of what this could mean hit Emma hard.  What if the new owners discover the shallow grave on their property?  She would certainly go to prison, and who would care for Jamie then?  Moving the remains is the only answer, she needs to hide them somewhere they will never be found.  But when Emma returns to the burial site, there is something missing.  A body.  Where are the remains of the teacher who groomed her when she was 15?

Wowsers!  What a book.  I feel emotionally drained and quite exhausted after reading Emma’s story.  But what an addictive and thrilling story from the pen of Ms Mitchell.  I couldn’t put this one down, nor did I actually want to.  Normal life was officially put on hold!

I was repulsed by smarmy, manipulative Luke and his despicable treatment of teenage Emma.  The way he spun her so many revolting lies until he got what he wanted and then pushed her aside as if she were a mere inconvenience.  My heart broke repeatedly for teenage Emma, I could really feel her hurt.  Saying that, Emma is a very troubled character from start to finish but I very much liked her.  I can’t say the same for her husband, Alex.  I would be fuming if my husband sold our house from underneath us without consulting me first.  Alex made a couple of other decisions without Emma’s involvement at other points throughout the book and boy, did it wind me up!

Would I recommend this book?  Definitely.  It’s brilliantly paced, stuffed full of suspense and you never really know what to expect next.  I loved how utterly horrible Luke Priestwood, Emma’s teacher, was.  A firm favourite for ‘villain of the year’ in my eyes and a character for us readers to despise.  But he wasn’t the only one with a touch of the darkness within and that, for me, added so much to the story.  Mitchell’s writing goes from strength to strength.  I absolutely flipping loved it!

Five out of five stars.

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

Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell was published in the UK by Thomas and Mercer on 1st March 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

Other books by Caroline Mitchell I reviewed on damppebbles: | The Silent Twin | Death Note | Sleep Tight | Murder Game |

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about the author3

caroline mitchellAn international #1 and USA Today bestselling thriller author, Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family in a village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, Caroline has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time, with over half a million copies of her books sold.

As well as her crime series, Caroline also writes stand-alone psychological thrillers. The most recent, Silent Victim reached the Amazon number 1 spot in the UK, US and Australia. Her highly anticipated DI Amy Winter series is published by Thomas & Mercer. The first book in the series, Truth and Lies, launches on 13th September. Her works have been translated into four different languages and one of her books is featured as an interactive app, due for release in 2018.

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: 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 | #Giveaway: If I Die Before I Wake by @EmilyKoch | @HarvillSecker @vintagebooks

if I die before i wake.jpg“HOW DO YOU SOLVE YOUR OWN MURDER?

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger. 

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.

A stunning edge-of-your-seat debut novel with an unforgettable narrator.”

I finished reading If I Die Before I Wake a few days ago and I’m still bereft, still heartbroken.  This haunting debut thriller will stay with me for some time, but do you know what? I nearly gave up on it! I’m not really one for discarding books part way through.  Actually, I can probably count the number of books I have ‘DNF’d’ on one hand.

Regular readers of the blog will know that I am a) a crime fiction fan, b) I like character driven fiction and c) I like excitement and action, thrills and spills.  When I started reading If I Die Before I Wake I suddenly started to question how the author was going to keep the story going for 320 pages.  Alex, our main character, is in a coma and has been for a significant amount of time (18 months-ish).  He has spells of being alert, able to see a little, able to smell, able to hear, able to taste the rubber of a gloved hand sponging out his mouth and able to feel.  But he can’t move, can’t communicate.  I didn’t instantly warm to Alex, or his girlfriend, Bea.  As you would expect, the first few chapters of this book paint Alex’s rather dire situation for the reader.  Alex is in a coma.  His girlfriend visits, his family visits, his best mate visits.  I was questioning whether it was worth continuing with Alex’s tale.  He’d been in a coma for so long I couldn’t see him waking up anytime soon.  What was going to happen?  WELL!  Let me tell you something.  I persevered and oh my gosh, I am so glad I did.

You see, I fell a little bit in love with Alex.  Koch has created some astonishingly good characters in If I Die Before I Wake.  I’m not an emotional reader normally. I want blood, guts and gore, shedloads of action and a killer hook (not much to ask for, is it?).  Since I started damppebbles I have cried twice whilst reading.  It was twice, make that three times now.  And I’m not ashamed to admit it was ugly crying.  Snotty, sobby, traumatised, hiccuppy, heartbroken crying.  Wow!  Just WOW!!  And to think I nearly put this book down.  By the time I turned the last page there was so much I loved about this novel.  It wasn’t just Alex I had fallen in love with.  His poor dad made my heart melt, and despite being a bit of a nightmare, I also warmed to his sister, Philippa.

I’m excited to see what author Emily Koch gives us readers next.  If this is the quality of her writing then us bookish types are in for a real treat!

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely! Yes, it’s a thrilling read which is incredibly clever as the main character never leaves his hospital bed (!) but it’s also a highly emotional tale which broke my heart.  The author has excelled at making her reader feel the frustration Alex suffers on a daily basis.  Absolutely flipping brilliant and a contender for my ‘books of 2018’ list!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of If I Die Before I Wake.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

I was very lucky to receive two copies of If I Die Before I Wake from the publisher.  Rather than have the spare sat on my bookshelf unread and unloved let’s have a giveaway!  To be in with a chance to win one hardback copy of If I Die Before I Wake all you have to do is retweet the pinned tweet on my twitter profile and tag a friend you think would like to read this book.  Retweet and tag, it’s that easy.  UK/IRE only I’m afraid as it’s a hardback copy and will cost too much to send overseas.  Giveaway closes on Saturday 20th January 2018 at midday (GMT).  The winner will need to provide me with their address and there is no cash or eBook alternative.  Good luck!

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch was published in the UK by Harvill Secker on 11th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (the following Amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.comWaterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

Emily Koch - pic by Barbara Evripidou

I am an author and journalist living in Bristol, UK, and am represented by Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge and White. My debut novel If I Die Before I Wake is out now, published by Harvill Secker, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Working with writer Alison Powell I am also a founding member of WriteClub – which runs regular creative writing events in Bristol. Check us out – whether you’re a published author or the last thing you wrote was a shopping list.

Email me at mail@emilykoch.co.uk with any queries.

You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Author image and bio © https://emilykoch.co.uk/