Tuesday, 23 July 2019

BLOG TOUR: Life Ruins - Danuta Kot


In a small northern town, girls are disappearing.

You won’t see it in the papers and the police aren’t taking any notice, but the clues are there if you know where to look.

Becca sees that something is wrong, but she’s been labelled ‘difficult’ thanks to her troubled past. So when a girl is so savagely beaten she can’t be identified, and Becca claims she knows who she is, no one will believe her.

With the police refusing to listen, Becca digs for evidence that will prove what she is saying. But her search for justice will put herself and those closest to her in danger – and once she finds the truth, will anyone even listen?


What did I think?

I love the cover of this book; it's so bleak and menacing and perfectly portrays the theme of Life Ruins.  I was completely mesmerised by Danuta Kot's poetic writing from the very first page where she brought the dramatic and dangerous East Yorkshire coastline to life and from that point on, I simply couldn't put this book down.

There are three very intriguing main characters in Life Ruins, that all have interesting back stories.  Kay is a recently widowed foster carer adjusting to life on her own, Becca is her tempestuous foster daughter taking her first few steps into independence and Jared is a troubled young man recovering from an accident.  How their stories intertwine is simply sublime and I read in open eyed awe as the story unfolded, with my heart pounding and my palms sweating as I approached the breathtaking conclusion at breakneck speed.

The story is set in Bridlington, a seaside town on the East Yorkshire coast.  Gone are the days when families would flock to the seaside towns of the UK for their summer holidays and a lot of towns have become run-down because of this.  With no money coming in from tourists, shops close down and the vulnerable people move in.  There is a line in Life Ruins about this that took my breath away and made all the hairs stand up on the back of my neck:  "If you populate an area with prey, the predators will not be far behind."

I found Danuta Kot's writing to be very visual in quite a unique way; not only did she perfectly set out the scene's appearance but she also manages to portray the feelings of the characters.  Not only the characters' emotions, but I sometimes felt as if the landscape itself had hidden emotions that only Danuta Kot could reveal through her vivid imagery.

I think it is a little misleading to say that Life Ruins is a debut novel as Danuta Kot has written books under the names of Danuta Reah and Carla Banks.  I'm pleased it mentioned this in the 'About the author' note below as I'll definitely be adding some of her previous books to my reading queue based on the outstanding quality of Life Ruins.

Tense and gripping, Life Ruins is a powerful, thought-provoking read that perfectly encapsulates the despair and desolation of a run-down town as the predators move in for their prey.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon



About the author:

Danuta Kot grew up with stories. Her Irish mother and her Polish father kept their own cultures alive with traditional tales they shared with their children. For many years, she worked with young people in Yorkshire who were growing up in the aftermath of sudden industrial decline. She uses this background in her books to explore some of the issues that confront modern, urban society: poverty, alienation and social breakdown, using the contexts of the modern crime novel. She has previously written under the names, Danuta Reah and Carla Banks. Danuta was also a former chair of the Crime Writers’ Association. She now works as a senior education consultant, work that involves travel to establish education and training in other parts of the world. She is a regular academic speaker at conferences and literary festivals, and has appeared on radio and television. 






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Sunday, 21 July 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Shadow Man - Mark Brownless


Idyllic memories. A perfect childhood. A secret buried for thirty years.

None of us could remember why we drifted apart – we were always so close at school but then… you know. That was thirty years ago, and I hadn’t thought of my school friends in all that time – it was like I’d been made to forget.

And then the dreams started. Dreams that I knew I’d had before. Horrific dreams of fear and fire and death. Dreams of the Shadow Man, a ghostly urban legend who seemed to hang over my home village like an evil spirit. I’d begun to remember, my memories of back then becoming two-dimensional – a lie to mask what really happened – and I knew we’d have to go back. Back to Janey, because she never left.

What did happen to us back then, and do we really want to know? And what about the supernatural horror lurking in the shadows – could we face the Shadow Man again?


What did I think?

At just under 250 pages, this is a book that you can easily read in one sitting, which is exactly what I did.  Not just because it's a reasonably short book but also because I simply couldn't put it down.

As a pre-teen in mid-1980's, the dual time-frame in this book was very nostalgic for me; it brought back memories of long hot summers riding around on our bikes until 10pm and sledging in the never-ending winters.  This is a huge thought-provoking element of the book; in my memories, it didn't rain in the summer, yet in reality it's summertime in Britain so it'll have rained nearly every day, for as Mark Brownless says, 'our memories edit out the rain'.  It's always intrigued me how a long forgotten memory can appear from a simple trigger, such as a sight, smell or sound.  The human brain is a wonderful, complex organ that stores information and fires it back out at us when we thought we'd lost it forever.

Philippa (Flip) and her friends were spooked by the Shadow Man in their youth, a dark ghostly presence that burned its victims alive.  After leaving their home village, they had forgotten about the Shadow Man but several years later they all shared a common dream and returned home to visit the one friend who never left, Janey.  Something happened to Janey in the past, although none of the girls can quite remember what happened, but remembering this will prove key to catching the Shadow Man once and for all.

This was pretty spooky at times and although I did guess the plot quite early on, I still had an element of doubt as to who or what the Shadow Man actually is.  I think I'd totally bought into the childhood memories and felt how scared the girls were whilst their village was being terrorised.  There was even talk of the possibility of spontaneous human combustion at one point and I remember being fascinated by this hot topic (no pun intended) back in the day.

I deliberated a little over my rating for this one; although I guessed the shocking twist, I still couldn't put it down.  So because I was so hooked, I think it does deserve the full five stars, although realistically it's a 4.5 from me but I never do things by halves.

Nostalgic, thought-provoking, completely addictive and pretty scary at times, The Shadow Man is a must read for anyone who wants something a bit different in a thriller.  I definitely want to read more from Mark Brownless, past and future, and I'm delighted to discover that he has another tales of the unexpected style thriller in his back catalogue.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon



About the author:

Mark Brownless lives and works in Carmarthen, West Wales.

He has been putting ideas on paper for some years now but only when the idea for THE HAND OF AN ANGEL came to him in the autumn of 2015 did he know he might be able to write a book. Mark likes to write about ordinary people being placed in extraordinary circumstances, is fascinated by unexplained phenomena, and enjoys merging thriller, science fiction and horror.

Mark's new novel, The Shadow Man is a terrifying horror thriller imagining what would happen if you found out the memories of your childhood were untrue, and that something sinister was lurking behind the facade of your life. Could you face what had happened back then? Could you face The Shadow Man.

Mark is also fascinated by myths and legends such as those of Robin Hood and King Arthur. This has culminated in the release of his short story series, Locksley, a Robin Hood story.



Twitter : @MarkBrownless




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Saturday, 20 July 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Dead Wife - Sue Fortin


SINCLAIR WIFE DEAD!  HUSBAND CLEARED!

Police have ruled out suspicious circumstances in the investigation into the death of Elizabeth Sinclair, wife of charismatic entrepreneur Harry Sinclair, found drowned in the lake of the family's holiday park.

It's been two years since the Sinclair case closed but when reporter Steph Durham receives a tipoff that could give her the scoop of the year, she's drawn deeper and deeper into the secretive Sinclair family.

Elizabeth's death wasn't a tragic accident.  And the truth will come at a deadly price...


What did I think?

I've read a few Sue Fortin books, so I knew this was going to be a gripping read before I even started it and I'm delighted to say I was not wrong.  I loved the rich and powerful Sinclair family with their deep, dark secrets and Steph's Nancy Drew-like investigation into the death of Elizabeth Sinclair, the wife of middle son, Harry Sinclair.

With flashbacks of Elizabeth Sinclair's life, I found it hard to feel any empathy for her.  She wasn't a very likeable woman; hungry for power and careless with her husband's feelings.  I'm not saying Harry was blameless; if you don't water a plant it will die, but you wouldn't expect your plant to up sticks and plant itself in every garden along the street.  That's my roundabout way of saying Elizabeth was rather promiscuous, but perhaps she was just craving some attention and affection.  We'll never know as she was found drowned in the family lake.  The police ruled out suspicious circumstances, but Elizabeth's mother is sure there is more to this story than meets the eye so she asks Steph to look into it for her.

Steph has a link to the Sinclair case through her parents, but her father is dead and she doesn't get on with her mother.  Steph's relationship with her mother was brilliantly portrayed; I could feel the frostiness in my fingertips as I was reading.  I really liked how this part of the story developed but I can't say any more as it is linked to the main plot.

As Steph secretly investigates Elizabeth's death, the danger levels were ramped up to maximum and I had my heart in my mouth several times.  It felt like the trees had eyes as Steph's movements seemed to be anything but covert and somebody is determined to stop the truth coming out at any cost.  

What a gripping, page-turner!  The Dead Wife is a very intriguing and highly addictive book; with a rich but dysfunctional family at it's core it really would give Dallas a run for its money in the family drama stakes.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon




About the author:


Sue Fortin is an award-winning USA Today and an Amazon best-selling author, an international bestseller and has reached #1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart. Sue writes mystery, suspense and romance, sometimes combining all three. 

Sue was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex where she now lives with her husband, children and grandchidren.


Social Media Links – 



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Friday, 19 July 2019

BLOG TOUR: Call Me Liar - Colette McBeth


You could say it started with vanity. We believed we were special. But the truth is we were simply vulnerable.
Months after landing their dream job, five brilliant young minds are sent on a remote retreat.
But when one of them disappears, they're forced to question why they were brought there in the first place.
And for the first time in their lives, they realise too much knowledge can be deadly . . .
One of them is lying.
One of them is guilty.
No one is safe.


What did I think?

I have read one of Colette McBeth's books before so I picked up this book based purely on the author's talent.  This dark and dangerous tale certainly kept me riveted as when you get told that 'one of them is lying', you don't know who to believe.  There was steam coming off my internal lie-o-meter as it struggled to keep up with all the twists and turns in this fast-paced book.

It feels very much like MI5 when five graduates are hand-picked to work for a private company that identifies security risks in systems.  There's even secrecy among the graduates as each of them are given a client that they must not discuss, not even with each other.  When main character Libby's clients' secrets are exposed in a newspaper, Libby knows her hands are clean so she's like a dog with a bone as she attempts to identify the mole.

To build bridges, and to attempt to expose the mole, they are taken on a team building retreat as this thriller turns into a horror.  I can't think of anything worse!  Just the thought of team building exercises gives me the creeps; you can accuse me of not being a team player but I work perfectly well in a team without having to take part in paintball or orienteering, thank you very much.  If I wasn't already put off by team building retreats, I most certainly am now after events in Call Me Liar get more twisted.

Told from various viewpoints and with little hints that something bad has happened, I found that I effortlessly whizzed through this book.  Where lies are involved, you can never be sure who is telling the truth so, although I had ideas about what was going on, I could never have guessed the outcome.  

Call Me Liar is an utterly compelling psychological thriller that gave my brain a good workout as it twisted and turned through this riveting story.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon




About the author:


Colette McBeth is the critically acclaimed author of psychological thrillers Precious Thing, The Life I Left Behind and An Act of Silence. Colette was a BBC TV News television correspondent for ten years, during which time she covered many major crime stories and worked out of Westminster as a political reporter. She lives on the South Coast with her husband and three children.   

Twitter @colettemcbeth 
Facebook /colettemcbethauthor 







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Saturday, 13 July 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Butcher (Rub-a-Dub-Dub Book 1) - Nathan Burrows


I have an amazing damppebbles blog tour for you today!  It's time for a bit of dark comedy courtesy of The Butcher by Nathan Burrows.  Scroll down to read my review as part of the blog tour.


She thought it was pork. She was wrong.

The first time hapless food inspector Emily Underwood meets butcher Frank Pinch, he’s not got much at all in his display counters. But what he does have is a rather unusual plan to restock his shelves. The next time they bump into each other, he’s won an award for his sausages but is running out of meat.

Can Frank keep up production of his unusually tasty sausages? Will Emily discover the source of Frank’s award-winning meat? And what will happen the next time she tries to inspect his butcher’s shop?

Book 1 in the Rub-a-Dub-Dub trilogy, this deliciously British dark comedy will change the way you look at sausages forever.

What did I think?

As a non-meat eater and much to the chagrin of my family and friends, I have always referred to sausages as being made of hooves and @rseholes and containing no meat at all, so I was really intrigued when I read the synopsis of The Butcher by Nathan Burrows.  It had me at 'She thought it was pork. She was wrong.'  That has to be the best strapline ever!

In a not too distant future, The Butcher is set in Norwich post-Brexit where we Brits can barely afford to eat as everything is so expensive.  The local butcher, Frank Pinch, and his farmer brother, Tom, are struggling to make a living until the pair stumble upon a recipe for some prize winning sausages.  Suddenly Frank goes from having half-empty shelves to having a queue out of the door; news of his amazing sausages spreads far and wide and he even gets a visit from a red-headed celebrity.  Frank and Tom also get a less welcome visit from recently qualified Food Standards Agency inspector, Emily.  Will they pass the inspection or will Emily find out what is really in Frank's sausages?

The humour is very dark and dry which had me laughing along as I read; I was over three quarters of the way through and just thinking that it wasn't laugh out loud funny when I had a huge laugh out loud moment and had to share what I was laughing at.  As much as it is funny, it's actually a very thought-provoking book as you can never really know exactly what you're eating and it always surprises me when people eat pies simply labelled as 'meat'.  What kind of meat is it?  Cow? Horse? Cat? Man?

With the most unlikely serial killers you will ever come across, The Butcher contains more humour than there is meat in a sausage to make a unique comedy crime novel.  If you have a sense of humour, you will LOVE this book; I can't wait to read book 2, The Baker, especially after the little teaser in the back of The Butcher.  I think this is going to be a brilliant trilogy.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:


Buy it for only 99p/99c for a limited time from:
Amazon UK 
Amazon US 
Google Books
Kobo



About the author:

Nathan Burrows is a writer based in Norfolk in the United Kingdom. His debut novel, a legal thriller called 'Blind Justice', was published in March 2018.

He's also the author of a dark comedy trilogy set in Norfolk. The first in the series is 'The Butcher', a deliciously funny story about - amongst other things - sausages. The second in the series is 'The Baker', which features Norfolk's most useless cult. And finally, 'The Candlestick Maker' is about a fitness instructor with a difference.

The next book to be released will be 'Man Down', a return to more traditional thrillers. It's a military story set in Afghanistan which will be released in the Autumn, 2019. Also releasing later in the year is 'Finding Milly', which explores just how far a man will go to find his missing daughter.

Nathan's a keen reader as well as a writer. He occasionally runs marathons, has a Norwich City football club season ticket, and is the proud part-owner of a Daschund puppy called Bertie. 

For more information, visit www.nathanburrows.com


Find Nathan on Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NathanBurrowsUK
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NathanBurrowsUK/
Website: https://nathanburrows.com/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nathan-Burrows/e/B079KS96CQ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1



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Friday, 12 July 2019

BLOG TOUR: From Inside The House - WD Jackson-Smart


Two victims. Brutally murdered in their own home. Body parts taken.

D.I. Graves is back on the case to face his toughest challenge yet. A case with no motive and no suspect, nothing at all that could explain why someone would kill innocent people in such a way.

Then the next victims are discovered. Another pair of bodies. New body parts taken. Again in their own home.

Someone is breaking into houses across the city at night, leaving horror in their wake. It seems to Graves that this could be two serial killers, working together. But how are they choosing their victims? Is any house in London a target? Is anyone safe?

To make matters worse, a journalist is threatening to cause more harm than good with her obsessive push in covering the story to further her career, and someone is targeting Graves personally, seeking revenge against him in relation to an old case.

Can Graves keep himself safe long enough to stop the serial killers before they strike again?


What did I think?

From Inside The House is the second book in the DI Graves series and having read and loved the first book, The Demons Beneath, I couldn't wait to get stuck into this next instalment.  This story sees victims being killed in pairs and bodies left posed at crime scenes.  The police suspect two serial killers working together, rather intriguingly one is a psychopath and one is a sociopath.

You could read From Inside The House as a standalone but there is a continuation of a storyline from the first book, so I think it's better to read The Demons Beneath first to get the full story.  There are definitely enough details included to make sure that new readers aren't disadvantaged though and you could always read The Demons Beneath afterwards to fill in any blanks.

Graves is such a great name for a homicide detective, especially one who almost vomits at the sight of a dead body.  I love the dynamic he has with his partner, Charlie Palmer, which contrasts with the tenuous relationship he has with his sister.  Graves and his sister were close once until a series of events changed Graves' life forever.  His sister does make an appearance at the end which left me with baited breath for the next book!

Strangely enough, I really liked the annoying journalist character, Kelly Malone.  It just shows what a competitive business journalism is and perhaps explains why reporters do what they do in order to get a story.  Kelly even puts her life at risk to get a story just so she can get one over on her rival at the newspaper.  Obviously, I don't imagine such things happen in real life but reporters are like sharks and once they smell blood they can't do anything else but go in for the kill.

With murder scenes described in amazing detail, From Inside The House is flesh crawling in a gory way as opposed to the supernatural element that spooked me in The Demons Beneath.  As with many second novels in a series, it didn't quite manage to knock the first book off the top spot but I have a feeling that things are about to get really interesting for DI Graves.  From Inside The House is gritty, dark and gruesome and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for book 3.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:


Buy it from Amazon



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Thursday, 11 July 2019

The Demons Beneath - WD Jackson-Smart


A detective new to London. A possible serial killer. And a demon?

When a bloody corpse is discovered in a North London park, Detective Inspector Daniel Graves is the man tasked with finding the killer. With no clues and no suspects it seems like a dead end. Then another body turns up and this time it looks like it could be his fault. Has his investigation caused the murderer to strike again? Is he dealing with a serial killer?
As the case gets ever more complicated, a report comes in of another suspicious death but this is nothing like any other Graves has dealt with. All involved are convinced that something supernatural is to blame. A demon. Daniel is no believer but could he be wrong?
With two cases on his shoulders and the truth behind each beyond his grasp, Graves must race against time before both killers, human or otherwise, strike again.


What did I think?

I really enjoyed this book; adding an element of the supernatural makes it a thriller with a difference.  DI Daniel Graves has just moved from Derbyshire to London and boy, has he been thrown in at the deep end; he has two murder cases to investigate, one being linked to the tattoo industry and the other appears to be death by demon.  I do love a bit of unexplained spookiness so I did prefer the demon case over the tattoo one, but I think it made it quite true to life for a detective to be investigating more than one case at a time.

The tattoo case is intriguing but the demon case had me completely riveted; I think you could even make a blockbuster film out of that storyline alone.  Of course the police are looking for a traditional earthly explanation for the death of a person who hired a demonologist to rid their house of the ungodly presence.  Whatever the cause of death, what you can't dispute is the strange goings on in the house that set the tragic chain of events in motion.  I would have liked to investigate this a little further but there's so much going on in the book to capture my attention that it really was an afterthought that I felt the demon story had been left hanging a little.

There are tasty little snippets into Graves' backstory which explain why he became a policeman.  It gives us a good foundation on which I expect his character will grow throughout the series.  I found it a really intriguing characteristic that he's squeamish when he sees a mutilated body - how on earth will he manage to cope in the homicide department?

I always give a book extra marks when it causes me to head off to google something.  In this case it was the 'Enfield haunting' - I had never even heard of it.  Of course I would have only been a child when the actual events took place between 1977 and 1979 but there had been a TV show made about it in 2015 which I haven't seen but now definitely want to.

I just want to say one more thing about the book where I thought that WD Jackson-Smart very cleverly summed up the rise of social media and trolling.  The demonologist turns on her iPad 'Where human beings were just as terrifying as the demons they exorcised'.  Maybe think about it for a second before posting something that would hurt others; you don't want to be in league with a demon after all.

The Demons Beneath is a cracking start to a series; it's fast-paced, intriguing and unique and I can't read to read more DI Graves' investigations.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon