Thursday, April 29, 2021

BLOG TOUR Whatever You Are Is Beautiful by Richard Blandford

A mysterious illness, called HEROS, is sweeping America. It changes those afflicted, stage by stage, into super-powered costumed crimefighters.

Charlie was once one of Britain's favourite TV personalities, known for sneering at the weirder members of society in his cutting-edge documentaries. But now, after a battle with cocaine addiction, he wants to go straight and show his caring side. A programme about this bizarre new disease may be a chance to get his career back on track.

As he films and interviews a number of people with HEROS, or Rosies, as they call themselves, Charlie gets close to many of them, perhaps too close, and starts to question his role as a neutral observer. This may well be a career-changing experience, but not in the way he imagined.

Whatever You Are is Beautiful is a dark comedy, which celebrates difference and explores the immense human capacity for intolerance. It is both cautionary and joyful in equal measure.

I was very happy to join in on the blog tour for this one. 

This book looked quite unusual and grabbed my interest, especially since I love superheroes! The story is set in America, and it’s about a strange phenomenon that is making its way round the states, giving people it affects different powers. 

There are 4 stages to the phenomenon known as HEROS. Charlie is a documentary maker and is travelling around interviewing some of the people who have HEROS. We meet quite a few interesting people along the way, like Bo, who woke up one day, coughed up his Larynx, and a new one replaced it. Or Alex who woke up one day and her hands had been replaced with new ones. I liked the characters and it was interesting to see how they lived with their new abilities. 

It was a good story, and it was good to see the differences between the different stages of HEROS, and seeing the people try to use their abilities for crime fighting. They get costumes made, with layers to protect them etc when they’re out doing their thing. 

There are a lot of adult themes in the book, it mentions sex quite a bit, and even people with HEROS and sexual abilities.

A fun book with a different storyline, I enjoyed it.

About Richard Blandford:

Richard Blandford is the author of the novels Hound Dog and Flying Saucer Rock & Roll and the short story collections The Shuffle and Erotic Nightmares.


He has also studied and taught art history. He has written for the art journals Frieze and Elephant and is the author of the visual history London in the Company of Painters.


He lives in Worthing.



Social Media:






Purchase Links:


Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Google Books:

Damp Pebbles:

Emma Welton
damppebbles | crime book blog
#BloggersBash2017 Services to Bloggers WINNER!
#BloggersBash2018 Best Book Review Blog Nominee!
(reviewing crime thrillers, mystery, suspense, psychological thrillers and horror)



Publishing Information:

Published by Lightning Books in digital format on 24th April 2021

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

WWW Wednesday 28.4.21


Hi again and thanks for coming back to look at this weeks WWW Wednesday. This is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Worlds, and asks 3 questions: What are you currently reading? What have you recently finished? and what do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading? 

I have 3 books on the go right now. our Tsudoku Squad May read of Lace by Shirley Conrad. We started this a week early with there being 3 Saturdays this month, as Lace is huge! I’m also reading The Perfect Lie but Jo Spain for a blog tour next month, and I still have A Del of a Life on my bedside table too.

What have your recently finished reading? 

I only finished one book this past week which was Heidi Swains The Cherry Tree Cafe. An absolutely birlliant book which made me go and buy the next 2!

What do you think you’ll read next?

Next I think I may move onto Heidi Swains second book, Summer At Skylark Farm.

I’m not reading much right now so I’m hoping to get back into it this week.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope I’ve inspired some new reads for you!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao

How do you move forward when everything you love in on the line?

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out--move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam's cellphone just to listen to his voicemail. And Sam picks up the phone.

What would you do if you had a second chance at goodbye?

I received a copy of this from the publisher Wednesday Books, and Netgalley in turn for an honest review. 

I remember seeing Dustin talkin about this book ages go on Twitter, and I knew straight away it was something I would love to read. So when it came available on Netgalley I jumped at the chance of requesting it, and was very happy to be approved.

You’ve Reached Sam is a lovely story about grief, losing someone you love, and coming to terms with moving on. 

It’s something we’ve all wanted isn’t it, one last phonecall or conversation with someone we’ve loved and lost. That’s what made this book sound so interesting. I know I would jump at the chance to talk to my Grandma again, and yet it was something similar to Julie that helped me come to terms with her death quite a while later. No I didn’t talk to her on the phone, but Julie has dreams which she doesn’t realise are actually her way of making sense of things. I had a dream like that and without sounding all cliche about it, I honestly woke up and felt so much lighter.

If you love sad stories with uplifting ends then this is one for you, it had me cry a few times, and smile a lot. We watch through their lives before Sam died, and Julie’s life after. The grief is real, we see her struggle to even talk to other people, let alone be around others much. But we see a beautiful love story in the background, their day trips, the things they do to see the other one smile.

The book reminded me somewhat of The Phonebox at the Edge of The World by Laura Imai Messina, which is another amazing story about talking to loved ones after their passing. Definitely give it a go. 

Thanks again to the publisher Wednesday Books, and Negalley for my advanced ebook.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal

1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell's world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.

But when Jasper Jupiter's Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell's life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper's gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.

In London, newspapers describe Nell as the eighth wonder of the world. Figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air. But who gets to tell Nell's story? What happens when her fame threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her? And as she falls in love with Toby, can he detach himself from his past and the terrible secret that binds him to his brother?

Moving from the pleasure gardens of Victorian London to the battle-scarred plains of the Crimea, Circus of Wonders is an astonishing story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility.

I received a copy of this from the publisher Pan Macmillan, and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

We read this as our Tsundoku Squad Books group April book, and we changed it up a little this month. Instead of splitting it into 4 parts and chatting each week, we decided to split it into 2 parts and chat every 2 weeks. To check out Em’s collective group review and her thoughts click this link

I loved this book, like really loved it. I love stories about the Circus (I wouldn’t go to an animal circus and have never been to one), and was pulled into the dreaminess and magic of it all.

The book is 2 different stories, one is sadness and the shame felt of being different, the sadness of being unseen and seen at the same time, then there’s the magic, love and friendship of the Circus and the performers. Nell grew up knowing she was different, and covered herself in long dresses so no one could see the birthmarks. But when her father sells her to a circus to be one of Jaspers ‘freaks’, everyone sees her. 

I loved Nell. Such a loving girl who wanted nothing more than to be seen as normal. I loved how at home she seemed amongst the others in the Circus, how she cared for them. And her love for Toby was so true. I didn’t like Jasper, he was an arse. But it made for a good baddie if that makes sense. The way he treats the performers as if they’re his pets, something he controls and owns was horrible. Yet in a way you feel for him deep down, you get a kind fo understanding of what went on back when he was in the war, and he turned out the way he did.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and if you like stories of the circus then this is definitely for you. I’d love to see a sequel and see where it goes!

Thank you again to Pan Macmillan and Netgalley for my advanced copy, no as always the author, Elizabeth Macneal.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Boys Don’t Cry by Fiona Scarlett

This devastatingly honest book is the story of two brothers – and how one of them will face growing up without the other.

Joe is 17, a gifted artist and a brilliant older brother to 12-year-old Finn. They live with their Ma and Da in a Dublin tower block called Bojaxhiu or ‘the Jax’. It’s not an easy place to be a kid, especially when your father, Frank, is the muscle for the notorious gang leader Dessie ‘The Badger’ Murphy. But whether it’s daytrips to the beach or drawing secret sketches, Joe works hard to show Finn life beyond the battered concrete yard below their flat.

Joe is determined not to become like his Da. But when Finn falls ill, Joe finds his convictions harder to cling to. With his father now in prison, his mother submerged in her grief, and his relationships with friends and classmates crumbling, Joe has to figure out how to survive without becoming what the world around him expects him to be.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher Faber and Faber, and Netgalley in return for an honest review.

I absolutely devoured this book in 2 sittings, and it destroyed me.

I don’t want to say much and give any of the story away, but you will need tissues here ok. Poor Finn becoming ill and him coming to understand what is making him ill is such a hard thing to read. The emotion you get from him in the book, at a young 12 years old is so moving. But what got me more was the love between the brothers, which is more prominent in the second half of the book. The sketches are a lovely touch too.

Fiona Scarlett has written a great story, full of brilliant descriptions of life in ‘the Jax’, it felt like I was there. The local slang and accents, the residents and the local hooligans, it all is so real. It’s a story of love and hope, and a lot of hard life knocks in there too. I’d definitely recommend you read it, massive thumbs up from me.

Thanks again to Faber and Faber, Negalley, and as always the Author, Fiona Scarlett.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

WWW Wednesday 21.4.21

 Hello again and welcome back to another WWW Wednesday. 

It’s is a meme hosted by the lovely Taking on a World of Worlds, and asks 3 things: What are you currently reading, what have you recently finished reading, and what do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I currently have 2 books on the go. A Del of A Life by David Jason, which I’ve been meaning to get to for ages now. And I started Heidi Swain’s very first novel, The Cherry Tree Cafe. I’m hoping I’m going to love this one (I read her most recent one and loved it), and I will carry on and read them all!

What have you recently finished reading?

I finished 3 books since last week. Cockfighting by Maria Ampuero Garcia, which was a collection of very strange and taboo short stories guaranteed to make you think. I read You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao which was lovely and gave me a few tears. And I devoured Boys Don’t Cry by Fiona Scarlett, which was amazing and heartbreaking and made me cry massive tears. 

What do you think you’ll read next?

I think I’m going to get to The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain next as I have it upcoming for a blog tour. I’m not sure wha else next to be honest!!

Thanks for stopping by guys, until next time!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Many Different Kinds of Love by Michael Rosen


'Will I wake up?'

'There's a 50:50 chance.'

In March 2020, Michael Rosen became unwell. Soon he was struggling to breathe, and he was admitted to hospital with coronavirus. What followed was months on the wards: a month in an induced coma, and weeks of rehab and recovery as the NHS saved his life, and then got him back on his feet. Throughout it all, a diary was kept at the end of Michael's bed, where his nurses wrote him letters of hope and support. And as soon as he was awake, he was ready to start writing his own story.

Combining stunning new prose poems by one of Britain's best loved poets and the moving coronavirus diaries of his nurses, and featuring original illustrations by Chris Riddell, this is a beautiful book about love, life and the NHS that celebrates the power of community and the indomitable spirits of the people who keep us well.

I bought this book at the weekend and was desperate to get round to it. It’s amazing. I read it so quickly but took in every word.

Michael caught Covid back in March 2020 and became very ill, the world knew about it and we were all hoping he would get better and come out of it.

His book is beautiful, and heartbreaking at the same time. I cried during the first part, I cried during the last. Reading the letters and notes the doctors, nurses, carers left for him while he was in his induced Coma made me realise just how many people cared for him during that time. And these people weren’t all ICU Nurses either, some were usually Children’s Speech and Language Therapists, children’s hospital nurses, rehabilitation staff, who had all came in to help the massively overwhelmed ICU staff. We know the NHS got overwhelmed really quickly, we know the virus took over like wildfire and devoured us, and we know how many people went out of their way, out of their comfort zones of their day to day jobs and were fighting on the frontline against this awful awful thing. The letters are lovely, what a beautiful thing for Michael to have, a reminder of a bad time some might say, but I say a reminder of the loving and  gentle care they all gave him when he couldn’t do it himself. I loved reading his entries throughout too, poems, dreams, thought and musings. And of course his beautiful NHS Poem at the end.

I’m so glad Michael got better, he is on the mend and still more than likely facing difficulties of what Covid has done to his body. But he’s here, as he said in his book ‘I’m not dead’, and I’m so grateful. We lost a family member at the start of the pandemic due to Covid, and another family friend later on. I know of many many people who have lost loved ones this past year, who have sat by their family members side or had to FaceTime to say goodbye. I can’t imagine what Emma and their children went through, but I loved reading how much they mean to Michael and what they did to help him get through he coma and fight back.

A beautiful book full of love, sadness and hope. I wish Michael all the best and hope he is doing well now.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

When I Ran Away by Ilona Bannister

When the Twin Towers collapsed, Gigi Stanislawski fled her office building and escaped lower Manhattan on the Staten Island Ferry. Among the crying, ash-covered and shoeless passengers, Gigi, unbelievably, found someone she recognised - the guy with pink socks and a British accent - from the coffee shop across from her office. Together she and Harry Harrison make their way to her parents' house where they watch the television replay the planes crashing for hours, and she waits for the phone call from her younger brother that never comes. And after Harry has shared the worst day of her life, it's time for him to leave.

Ten years later, Gigi, now a single mother consumed with bills and unfulfilled ambitions, bumps into Harry again and this time they fall deeply in love. When they move to London it feels like a chance for the happy ending she never dared to imagine. But it also highlights the differences in their class and cultures, which was something they laughed about until it wasn't funny anymore; until the traumatic birth of their baby leaves Gigi raw and desperately missing her best friends and her old life in New York. 

As Gigi grieves for her brother and rages at the unspoken pain of motherhood, she realises she must somehow find a way back - not to the woman she was but to the woman she wants to be. 

An unforgettable novel about love - for our partners, our children, our mothers, and ourselves - pushed to its outer limits.

I received a copy of this from the publisher Two Roads Books in return for an honest review.

I loved this book. It made me laugh and cry so many times. 

Gigi is amazing. My heart broke for her so much and I related completely to what she was going through in relation to the Post Natal Depression. I remember thinking I could just hug her, she needs someone and she needs space and time. But she is a brave woman too, she moved from New York to London where she knew no one except her other half Harry (and her son), now that takes some courage. I quite liked Harry, especially at the start, and loved how they met under such sad and bad circumstances, which I can only imagine was horrific, yet years later they just knew they were meant to be together.

The start of the book which focuses on The Twin Towers and the death of Gigi’s brother was so sad. It brought back memories of when it all happened. I remember exactly where I was, and still feel just as much sadness now when I think about it.

This book deserves its 5 stars from me, read it.

Thank you as always to Two Roads Books, and Ilona Bannister.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

WWW Wednesday 14.3.21

It’s WWW Wednesday again! 

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Worlds, and so 3 questions: What are you currently reading? What have you recently finished reading? And what do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading 2 books, You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao on Netgalley, which I;ve had my eye on for ages so was very excited to be approved for it. Also reading Cockfight by Maria Fernanda Ampuero, which is a collection of weird short stories

What have you recently finished reading?

This week has been a good reading week. I read 4 books! I read Forget Me Not by Alex Garin which is a lovely graphic novel. I devoured This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech, and my review was up yesterday. I finished our Tsundoku Squad April read of Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal, I couldn’t help but get the las section read early! And yesterday I read Many Different kinds of Love by Michael Rosen, which was brilliant.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Next I think I might move onto The Pefect Lie by Jo Spain as I’m on the blog tour next month for it.  Also A Del of A Life by David Jason, one I’ve been fancying for a while and am looking forward to reading.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope there are some books there that make you want to read them!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

This is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely. 

Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy ... she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants. 

Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad's care. Getting through the dark. 

When these three lives collide - intertwine in unexpected ways - everything changes. For everyone. A topical and moving drama about a mother's love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what's best, about the lengths we go to care for family ... to survive …

I received a proof of this book from Orenda Books and Louise Beech in return for an honest review.

I blasted through this book in a day. I first saw the book when Louise was talking about it on her Twitter account, and as soon as I knew she was writing a story about a young adult with Autism, and she had worked closely with a good friend and her autistic son, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. As a mother of 2 autistic children (on the cusp of becoming teenagers), I love reading stories like this, and seeing how similar they are to our lives. 

Well this one was great. There were so many things that made me say, ‘yep I know that feeling’, or ‘my son/daughter does that!’. I’m obviously nowhere near the sex stuff yet with my kids as they are only 11 and 12, but if this is what to come I’m not ready haha! 

You know from the blurb what this book is about, some may say it’s all about sex. But really it’s about love and understanding, and it brings up some real and huge feelings. I cried like a baby during the last few chapters, and my heart absolutely broke for Sebastian. He just wants to fit in, be a normal young adult and do normal young adult things. But like I always say to my kids, what is normal?  There is no normal. I totally understood where Veronica was coming from and why she done what she done. Would I do it. Probably not haha, but did I get why? Of course. 

I don’t know much else to say apart from read it, love it, understand it, and feel it. It’s full of love, laugh and tears, and is ultimately a beautiful story of growing up seeing the world a little bit different.

Thank you again to Karen from Orenda Books and as always, the author Louise Beech... you made me cry.

Monday, April 12, 2021

All Girls by Emily Layden

An all-girls boarding school in a hilly corner of Connecticut, Atwater is a haven for progressive thinking and feminist intellectuals. The students are smart, driven and worldly; they are also teenagers, learning to find their way. But when they arrive on campus for the start of the Fall term, they're confronted with startling news: an Atwater alumna has made a troubling allegation of sexual misconduct against an unidentified teacher. As the weeks wear on and the administration's efforts to manage the ensuing crisis fall short, these extraordinary young women come to realise that the adults in their lives may not be the protectors they previously believed.

All Girls unfolds over the course of one tumultuous academic year and is told from the point of view of a small cast of diverse, interconnected characters as they navigate the social mores of prep school life and the broader, more universal challenges of growing up. The trials of adolescent girlhood are pitched against the backdrop of sexual assault, consent, anxiety and the ways that our culture looks to young women as trendsetters, but otherwise silences their voices and discounts their opinions. The story that emerges is a richly detailed, impeccably layered, and emotionally nuanced depiction of what it means to come of age in a female body today.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher John Murray Press, and the author in return for an honest review.

I liked the sound of this book, set in an All Girls Boarding school, what fun this could be! The story focuses on a historical allegation of sexual assault and rape, made by a former student against a teacher. The school newspaper/magazine try to get involved and the school try to keep it under wraps as much as they can. We see a lot of similar stories from girls, which all tie into the theme of the book, and it’s what I knew and expected to happen. But the biggest downfall was that there were far too many characters and it took a lot away from the story. I got confused between girls, forgot who was who and what happened to each girl.

I have this 3 and half stars as it has an important theme, but I couldn’t eat past the many voices in the book.

Thank you to John Murray Press and as always the author, Emily Layden.

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Paper Towns by John Green