#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Good Enough Mother by @AnoushkaBeazley | @NeverlandBT

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51ffcgsrlyl-_sx311_bo1204203200_Gatlin – a leafy affluent town; Chelsea tractors and ladies who lunch.

However, all is not as it seems. Drea, a most unnatural mother, struggles to find private school fees for her step-daughter Ava after her boyfriend leaves her for another woman.

Watching the yummy mummies she becomes inspired, hatching a daring and criminal plan…unleashing all hell in the quiet town of Gatlin.

Can Drea survive the fallout and the wrath of the PTA? A satirical and hilarious black comedy about love, motherhood and the human condition.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the The Good Enough Mother by Anoushka Beazley blog tour.  I have been wanting to read this book since I read the amazing reviews when it was first published back in the Summer.  For one thing, just look at that cover!  A number of the reviews I saw said that this book is so much more than you expect it to be.  So I had to take a peek, and I’m rather glad I did.

When I first started reading I’m afraid to say that I was a little disappointed.  I started to feel that fabulous cover with it’s blood splattered knife had conned me and the reviews I’d read must have been written by people who had never read a ‘dark’ novel before in their lives.  It seemed to be a story about the aftermath of a rocky relationship and how the injured party, in this case Drea, was dropped in it by her hopeless boyfriend as he cavorted off to France with a much younger model and WITHOUT his teenage daughter.  The teenage daughter being left in the somewhat unsure, unwilling and unprepared hands of Drea.  But oh, how wrong could I be!?

Drea, despite her numerous failings, decides to step up to the plate and do all she can to make her step-daughter happy.  After all, poor Ava has lost her Dad (albeit to the continent) and Drea is all she has.  After much consideration Drea decides that what makes Ava happy is her private school and her upper class friends (and who wants to subject their step-daughter to even more upheaval and turmoil by moving them to the local comprehensive – not Drea!).  So, with a loose, sketchy plan in mind Drea starts to plot.  And plot she must as school fees are due soon and come in at around £12,000…yikes!

Drea is something else altogether.  I have never met a character quite like her before.  If I could meet one fictional character in real life, I think I would want that character to be Drea.  She’s…..erm….a terrible mother in some respects but the best kind of mother in many others.  She has an ‘I don’t care what you think about me’ attitude, particularly when it comes to the snooty PTA mums.  And she’s prime suspect in a murder investigation!  There were so many things I really liked about Drea.  The way she tries to raise the money for Ava’s school fees was both shocking and funny.  Her relationship with Ava and then with Ava’s friends was heartwarming to read.  I’ve never met a bunch of teenagers in a book that I liked more than Ava, Amelia and Tabatha.  Drea’s new relationship mishaps made me chuckle (particularly the supermarket scene, which still makes me chuckle even now).  Among the laughs and the giggles there is a much darker theme running throughout the story and that is Drea’s obsession with her mum’s suicide and her plan to take her own life.  I found myself hoping that Drea wouldn’t take the 50 paracetamol squirreled away in her bag.

The plot drew me in after that initial shaky start and kept my attention throughout.  I just couldn’t wait to see what Drea was going to do next.  There are many surprises along the way, times when things will happen and you’ll say to yourself ‘well, I never saw THAT coming!’.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, Anoushka Beazley has managed to blend some quite dark themes with brilliant humour to create an edgy yet feel good, uplifting novel that will make all of us mothers feel just a little bit better about ourselves.

Four out of five stars.

If you would like the chance to win one of 10 signed copies of The Good Enough Mother then please click the link below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Good Enough Mother by Anoushka Beazley was published in the UK on 3rd July 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook  formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Anoushka Beazley has a film degree, an acting diploma and a masters in creative writing. She is a full time novelist, lives in North London with three little witches, a lawyer and a Maine Coon.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Uncoiled Lies by Liz Mistry (@LizCrimeWarp) @BloodhoundBook

uncoiled-lies-coverMurder. Love. Corruption. DI Angus McGuire and the team are back and have their work cut out. 

Murdered prostitutes and a turf war between local gangsters takes the investigation into Bradford’s Immigrant communities where tensions run high.

To make matters worse McGuire is juggling an illicit relationship with his boss’s daughter and has fraught family relations.

Who is The Old Man?

What is the link between three dead prostitutes and a long forgotten murder?

Will McGuire and his team get the answers they want or is the uncomfortable truth much closer to home?

I’m very excited to be part of Liz Mistry’s Uncoiled Lies blog tour today.  Back in August I took part in Liz’s tour for her debut novel, Unquiet Souls, and Liz very kindly wrote a brilliant guest post about why crime does it for her.  If you’re new to the blog, or would just like a recap then please click here.

Anyhoo, back to the here and now and Liz’s brilliant new novel.  Today is publication day for Uncoiled Lies so before I do anything else I would like to wish author Liz Mistry and publisher Bloodhound Books a very happy book birthday!

I have an extract from Uncoiled Lies to pique your interest today and leave you wanting more.  So without further ado, let’s have a read and meet Shahid Khan…

 ‘Pick up for fuck’s sake!’ Shahid Khan paced the floor in front of his desk, phone tight to his ear.

When the number he’d dialled went to voicemail yet again, he turned and flung it, scattering the paperwork from his desk onto the floor. With a growl, he kicked the chair that stood nearby.

Anger reverberated through every muscle and laboured pants wracked his body as he tried to control himself. Why wasn’t she picking up? She’d promised him she’d phone at nine. What was she playing at? Shahid didn’t know who he was most angry with – her for letting him down or himself for caring so fucking much. He’d vowed never to let a woman have the sort of hold on him that Millie Green had once had on his dad. When she’d dumped him, and who could blame her after the way he treated her, his dad had been devastated and now here he was dangling on the end of the phone like an idiot. He took a deep breath, bit his lip and reminded himself that Trixie wasn’t like Millie and he was certainly nothing like his dad, but still the anger bubbled in his chest. He knew he’d have to do something about it before he exploded.

‘Fuck!’ He spat the word into the empty room and strode over to the annex in the corner where his punch bag hung – a hulk of malevolent shiny black leather, dangling in ominous silence, lit by a single spotlight casting its shadow over the real oak floor. Not bothering with the boxing gloves that lay on a shelf beside his weights, he thumped a bare-fisted one-two-one rhythm into the bag making it swing widely, forcing him to jump on the balls of his toes to avoid being hit on the rebound… again… faster.

After two minutes of pummelling, he was panting, sweat dripping from his brow. He stopped to catch his breath, relaxed his shoulders and looked at his bloodied knuckles. How many times had his trainer told him always to use the gloves? He flexed his fists, savouring the stinging stretch that made more blood ooze over his hands and gather in the creases between his fingers. Breathing steadier, he walked to the sink, flicked the cold tap on and watched as the water splashed his blood in abstract patterns onto the pristine ceramic – like one of the paint blot paintings Imti used to bring home from school when he was a kid. He smiled remembering how, in the absence of his dad’s loving presence and, with his step-mum’s indifference like a weight on his shoulders, he’d hugged the boy and carefully pinned Imti’s proud offerings all over the kitchen. He’d lost his sister years ago, but he wasn’t going to lose his baby brother – not a bloody chance!

***

Sounds so good!  I have a copy of Uncoiled Lies on my TBR so watch out for a review coming your way soon.

Uncoiled Lies by Liz Mistry was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 26th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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lizAs well as writing crime fiction, Liz is co-founder of and main contributor to The Crime Warp blog, which reviews all areas of crime fiction, interviews crime authors and participates in blog tours.  She is the main publicist for the blog, using social media to promote our presence.

Liz is an ex teacher who has taught in inner city Bradford schools for over twenty years.  Her husband of 27 years is Indian and they have three children.  They live in inner city Bradford and Liz likes to use the rich tapestry of her life in Bradford, combined with her Scottish heritage, in her writing.

She is currently completing her dissertation for an MA in creative writing at Leeds Trinity University and hopes to graduate in December with a distinction.

Author Links:Facebook | Twitter | Blog |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie @TheCrimeVault

51xwtl1oqxl-_sx312_bo1204203200_“A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

The charred body of a policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found in the burnt-out-shell of his car on the Southend seafront.

To DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell of the Essex Police Major Investigation Team, the two events seem unconnected. But as they dig deeper into their colleague’s murder, dark secrets begin to emerge.

Can Pearson and Russell solve both cases, before more lives are destroyed?”

I am delighted to be today’s stop on the Burned and Broken blog tour.  Burned and Broken is author Mark Hardie’s debut novel and introduces us to the formidable crime fighting team of DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell.  The second book in the series titled Truly Evil will be published later this year.

A burnt out car containing the body of DI Sean Carragher is found on the Southend seafront.  His burns are so bad his colleagues can’t even recognise him.  What’s more, DI Carragher was the subject of an ongoing internal affairs investigation, which leads the team to many more questions than it answers.  DS Pearson and DI Carragher’s ex-partner, DC Catherine (Cat) Russell are tasked with leading the investigation.  But the more they dig, the more they realise that they didn’t really know their colleague at all.  And what about young Donna?  In a care home until it was forced to close, now living in her on flat and spending her days obsessing over the death of her friend.  Donna knows who killed Alicia, now all she has to do is prove it to the right people.  She knows it wasn’t an accident, no matter what the police reports said.  It’s down to DS Pearson and DC Russell to discover who murdered their colleague before the body count rises…

I loved DC Cat Russell.  I felt incredibly sorry for her as the realisation dawned that she didn’t really know Sean Carragher at all.  This person who she felt was a friend (and someone to look up to) had let her down repeatedly.  Her regular interviews with internal affairs and DS Pearson’s discovery that Sean and Cat couldn’t have been together when Cat claimed they were, made for uncomfortable reading.  I wanted to love Frank Pearson but there was something….missing for me.  He’s the type of character that I normally, immediately like but it just didn’t happen this time.  Donna made me feel incredibly sad. This is obviously a character with deep psychological issues and I really wanted to warm to her but I’m afraid all I could feel was sadness.  I wanted someone to spot that she was on the edge of a precipice and help the poor girl.

I struggled with the author’s style, having to re-read many sentences several times over to try and understand what was going on.  As I neared the conclusion I found myself enjoying the story more than I had previously.  So much so that when I came to one of those ‘read on for a sneak peek at the author’s next book’ sections that I did actually read on.  Mainly to check that the next book also featured DC Cat Russell (and DS Pearson).

Would I recommend this book?  This is a difficult one.  I did enjoy it and I know that others will absolutely love this book and see things which I have missed.  But on the whole, I’m not sure.  It’s a good police procedural but there are so many GREAT police procedurals out there that it’s a hard one to call.

Three stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Burned and Broken.  Many thanks to Clara Diaz at Little, Brown for providing me with a copy. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie is published by Sphere | Little, Brown on the UK and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback being published in May 2017) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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vcq9gqmt_400x400Mark Hardie began writing full time after completely losing his eyesight in 2002. He has completed a creative writing course and an advanced creative writing course at the Open University, both with distinction.

Author Links: | Twitter |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb (@crimethrillgirl) @OrendaBooks

51dphgk8vsl-_sx324_bo1204203200_“Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong.

The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past. Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on Steph Broadribb’s Deep Down Dead blog tour which I share with the ever so lovely Tracy Shephard over at Postcard Reviews.  I’ve been blogging for just over a year now but one of the very first bloggers I followed and was inspired by was Steph Broadribb (as her alter ego Crime Thriller Girl).  Steph has made a name for herself as a well-respected reviewer, someone whose bookish thoughts you can trust.  So I was absolutely thrilled to hear that she was on the brink of publishing her debut novel.  Deep Down Dead had a real draw for me and I just had to read it!

Lori Anderson is a kick ass bounty hunter.  When offered the opportunity to earn $15,000 to pick up a fugitive and return him to Florida, Lori looks for the catch.  Surely such a simple job shouldn’t have such a high price on it.  But that lump of cash could go a long way to paying her sick daughter’s hospital bills.  Still suspicious, Lori accepts the job only to come face to face with the mugshot of her mentor and ex-lover, JT.  Things are already getting complicated.  To make matters worse, Lori’s usual babysitter is unable to look after Lori’s daughter, Dakota.  Lori reluctantly packs a bag for her little girl and takes her along for the ride.  It’s an easy job so it shouldn’t be a problem having Dakota by her side.  After several days of driving the girls finally arrive at the collection point but things turn nasty and the three thugs holding JT don’t want to give him up without a fight.  It’s only the beginning of a long, complicated and incredibly dangerous drive back to Florida.  Lori fights to protect her daughter and keep a handcuffed JT safe, but that’s easier said than done…

Deep Down Dead is a seriously good book and one that all crime thriller fans should read.  I still can’t comprehend that this is a debut novel.  The writing is confident, skilled and oh boy, can Steph Broadribb tell a good story!  Her characters felt real to me.  The scenes I could picture, in crystal clear clarity, in my head.  If anyone is looking for a book to make into a movie then choose this one.  This book is destined for the big screen!  It’s so wonderfully american that I devoured it.

Oh Lori Anderson, how I want to be you!  Ex-pole dancer turned bounty hunter Lori is the most likeable, most believable heroine I’ve met in a book in a long time.  She fights, she shoots, she beats herself up on a regular basis for not being a good enough mum to her daughter.  This woman carries a taser around with her for goodness sake, and she’s not afraid to use it.  Forget your Wonder Woman, forget your SuperGirl, I want to be Lori.

And then we have JT.  What can I say about JT apart from the fact that his name makes me swoon.  I do believe that I’m becoming a bit soft as I really don’t like relationships in my crime thrillers but I’ve read a number recently where I’m suddenly thinking, I rather like their chemistry.  Well forget all other chemical reactions, JT and Lori make the rest quietly and insignificantly fizzle out, phut.  Their chemistry leaps off the page at you.  They show very little interest in each other but oh wow, it sizzles.  Loved it!

The plot doesn’t really slow down at any stage.  This is a fast moving read and, be warned, it’s addictive.  At times when I had to do other things, all I wanted to do was dive straight back into Deep Down Dead.  I found myself at times daydreaming about Lori, Dakota and JT, replaying scenes in my head.  I particularly loved the sections based in and around the theme park.  They were full of action, I truly felt for Lori and they were dark enough to make me feel on edge.

Would I recommend this book?  Well, yes, of course I would.  For me, this is the book that every other book has to beat this year to become my favourite read of 2017.  It’s early days but Deep Down Dead is a long way in the lead at the moment (and we’re not even done with January yet!).  Absolutely everything I want in my novels, and maybe even a little bit more. Astounded that this is a debut and looking eagerly forward to reading the second book in the series. Superb.

Five out of five stars.

Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 5th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook editions | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Deep, Down, Dead is her debut novel.

Author Links:Twitter | Blog | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell (@Caimh) @McFori_Ink

The Day That Never Comes cover.jpg“Remember those people that destroyed the economy and then cruised off on their yachts? Well guess what – someone is killing them.

Dublin is in the middle of a heat wave and tempers are running high. The Celtic Tiger is well and truly dead, activists have taken over the headquarters of a failed bank, the trial of three unscrupulous property developers teeters on the brink of collapse, and in the midst of all this, along comes a mysterious organisation hell-bent on exacting bloody vengeance in the name of the little guy. 

Paul Mulchrone doesn’t care about any of this; he has problems of his own. His newly established detective agency is about to be DOA. One of his partners won’t talk to him for very good reasons and the other has seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth for no reason at all. Can he hold it together long enough to figure out what Bunny McGarry’s colourful past has to do with his present absence? 

When the law and justice no longer mean the same thing, on which side will you stand?”

The Day That Never Comes is the second book in Caimh McDonnell’s Dublin trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit.

Today I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Caimh McDonnell back to damppebbles as part of the blog tour for his second book in the Dublin trilogy, The Day That Never Comes.  Caimh McDonnell is no stranger to damppebbles.  He first popped by the blog back in September 2016 when A Man With One of Those Faces was released, with a brilliant guest post about comedic crime.  Then, as we were approaching the end of the year, I took a break from my blog tour reading and read A Man With One of Those Faces which I LOVED.  Click here to read my five star review if you missed it.  If my review piqued your interest then it’s only fair to mention that A Man With One of Those Faces is currently on offer at 99p/99c until Monday 30th January (Amazon UK | Amazon US) so what are you waiting for…?

So today I have another brilliant guest post from Caimh McDonnell to share with you. Without further ado, I’ll hand over to man himself…

Why Do We Hurt the Ones We Love?
Caimh McDonnell

Someone asked me recently if, as an author, you start to feel about your characters how parents feel about their kids.

My answer to that is very definitely not. Through two books, I’ve dreamt up numerous colourful and brutal ways to put my trio of central characters in harm’s way. I’ve no children myself, but if you’re doing that, I strongly suggest having a cup of tea and a very stern word with yourself.

That’s not to say you don’t develop affection for your characters, of course you do. It’s like on every author’s shoulder there’s an angel and a devil, with the devil placing these poor souls in danger and the angel hoping they pull through.

I do most of my ‘thinking stuff through’ while out on my daily walks, it is a great way to clear the head by getting away from that dreaded keyboard. It is on these epic sojourns that I’ve worked out, not just the plot of those two books, but a whole intricate backstory that might not ever make its way onto the page but is never-the-less, valuable stuff. Characters need to feel real, and every real person has defining incidents, both good and bad, lurking somewhere in their past.

For example, one of my characters is called DS Bunny McGarry. He is a fast-talking and foul-mouthed bundle of violent malevolence mixed with an inexplicably appealing level of uncouth charm. I have spent a great deal of time thinking through his history. At this point, I have such a depth of knowledge about his upbringing and the things that happened earlier in his career that if I ever need to assume a new identity to go into hiding, I’ll just become him. (Note to self: Probably shouldn’t have revealed that on a blog, Mafia hitmen might be able to Google.)

In the middle of one of my walks earlier this year, that little devil on my shoulder informed me of an incident that happened to Bunny eighteen years ago. I was so shocked that I stopped in the middle of the road and swore loudly, as did the bus driver whose way I was blocking. These days I try and keep my thinking to the part of the walk in the park, it is a lot safer.

The little red so’n’so on my shoulder got that pitchfork right under my skin that day. I must have looked like an absolute lunatic. In fact, keep that in mind next time you’re on public transport. The apparent crazy person sitting beside you talking to themselves, might just be a novelist running through how their main character spent the 1980s.

One of the biggest things I’m learning is that as a writer is that I need to always be digging to find those moments that shock and excite me, in the hope that they’ll have a similar effect on the reader. The risk of getting run over by a bus is a small price to pay. Besides, I live in Manchester – I’ve never seen one of our buses moving fast enough that it could bruise you, never mind kill you.

***

Absolutely brilliant, thanks again Caimh for writing such an interesting piece for damppebbles.  It must be strange for authors when a random reader declares their undying love for one of the their characters.  I haven’t quite got to that point yet but I do tend to get a little overexcited when writing my reviews.  As readers we all enjoy different elements of a book.  For me it’s always about the characters, closely followed by excessive amounts of blood, guts and gore!

The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell was published in the UK by McFori Ink on 23rd January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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caimh_press_pic2-1Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.

His writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created. He was also a winner in the BBC’s Northern Laffs sitcom writing competition.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Follow Caimh’s witterings on @Caimh

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Games People Play by Owen Mullen (@OwenMullen6) @BloodhoundBook

51fe2drwqul“Thirteen-month-old Lily Hamilton is abducted from Ayr beach in Scotland while her parents are just yards away.

Three days later the distraught father turns up at private investigator Charlie Cameron’s office. Mark Hamilton believes he knows who has stolen his daughter. And why.

Against his better judgment Charlie gets involved in the case and when more bodies are discovered the awful truth dawns: there is a serial killer whose work has gone undetected for decades.

Is baby Lily the latest victim of a madman?

For Charlie it’s too late, he can’t let go.

His demons won’t let him.”

I am absolutely delighted to be today’s stop on the Games People Play blog tour.  Games People Play is the first book in the Charlie Cameron series written by author Owen Mullen and published by the incredible Bloodhound Books.  I’m excited to have Games People Play  on my TBR and can’t wait to read it.  Between you and I, I’m hoping to add book 2 in the series, Old Friends and New Enemies to the list soon too.

But there’s no point talking about book 2 when we haven’t celebrated the release of the first book in the series.  So today I have a treat for you, and it’s something that I don’t feel I’ve had enough of on damppebbles recently…it’s a guest post (I do love a guest post!  For new visitors to the blog my husband thinks I should coin the phrase, ‘I do love a guest post’ as my catchphrase.  He’s probably right…)  So without further ado I will hand the floor over to Owen Mullen who is going to tell you about the best and worst things about being an author.

The Best And Worst Things About Being an Author

I started writing with two objectives in mind. First, to join the great cannon of literature, and stand shoulder to shoulder with Dickens and Steinbeck; Mark Twain and Evelyn Waugh. My dream was to see my books on a shelf next to these awesome talents.

And second, I wanted to crack a few bob out of it.

Like anything else there are pros and cons. Taking an idea and developing it into a story with characters that almost become friends and a plot that keeps me interested, never mind anybody else, is a thrill. Getting the result published is another deal entirely.

Often the solitary aspect of writing is described as a down-side. Not for me. I am at my happiest in the worlds I have created; much more comfortable than the real one. And when the story comes together, the hundreds of hours spent creating it is time well spent. In the early days I would print out the final manuscript, with my name neatly typed on the cover, and sit it on the dining-room table. The feeling of satisfaction is hard to understand. I tend not to do that now although there is always a sense of achievement when the work is completed.

These and other pleasures come with writing, but, without doubt, the best experience is when someone – usually a stranger – tells me they have read my book, loved it, and can’t wait for the next one. People have been very kind to me along the way; it is appreciated, and I don’t forget it. I write to be read; otherwise, why bother?

I haven’t had a bestseller – yet – but can imagine that will be another high.

On the other hand, a book doesn’t just happen. It takes commitment, patience and belief, and even then an author might not reach the finish line. I have a routine. I write every morning for five hours, five days a week. No surprise the pages mount up. But I don’t always feel like it. Occasionally I baulk at the discipline required. Some days are more productive than others and the feeling of not quite producing enough isn’t pleasant: like a pain that has to be worked through. At times I would rather squander my time in any way that didn’t involve writing.

And now and then I do just that.

But I always return because this is who I am.

The parts of the process I don’t enjoy are mostly not connected directly with writing stories. The book business is a cruel and impersonal place. Rejection has to be borne because it comes with the territory and until a writer is a commercial success they don’t rate. The realisation that it is a business can be a rude awakening. Not just a business; one steeped in subjectivity. It can be hard to accept that your book is rejected because ‘We have just signed a Scottish author’ or ‘We tried a Scottish author last year and got our fingers burned.’

And unbelievable but true: ‘This book has everything. I know I’m going to regret turning it down.’

Every author I know has a collection of horror tales about how casually their work has been dismissed – often without even being read. I will put my experiences of that on paper when I’m sufficiently detached from the memories. Rejection hurts. And you never get used to it. At least I didn’t. But I kept going.

Though on balance, it’s no contest: the pleasure outweighs the pain. Then there is the knowledge that the longer you do it, the better you become. I feel privileged to be able to entertain folk I’ve never met, and the fact that someone somewhere may be reading an Owen Mullen book at this minute is a unique feeling.

No wonder I love it.

***

Many thanks Owen for such a personal post.  I must say, you are truly committed to your art; writing for five hours a day, five days a week.  Wow!  As for the rejection, that is exactly why I’ve never tried to write my own novel, I just couldn’t take the rejection.  That and the fact that it would be no good!

Games People Play by Owen Mullen was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 16th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Bloodhound Books |

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14949607When he was ten, Owen Mullen won a short story competition and didn’t write anything else for almost forty years. In between he graduated from Strathclyde University with a Masters in Tourism and a degree in Marketing, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; on occasion he still performs. He returned to Scotland to run a management consultancy and a marketing agency. He is an Arsenal supporter and a serious foodie. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow – where the Charlie Cameron books are set – and their villa in the Greek Islands.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson (@ragnarjo) @OrendaBooks #Rupture

41qs39koyul-_sx323_bo1204203200_“1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…

In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.

Haunting, frightening and complex, Rupture is a dark and atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s foremost crime writers.”

Better late than never, isn’t that what they say…

I am delighted to be part of the Rupture blog tour today.  Rupture is written by the incredibly talented Ragnar Jónasson and is the fourth book in the Dark Iceland series.  I’m a little behind with this series as I’ve only read the fantastically claustrophobic Blackout which I loved. If you missed my review please click here for a recap.

Today I have a fascinating post from Ragnar about his favourite thrillers on the big screen.  So without further ado, over to Ragnar…

Classic Thrillers on Screen

In addition to reading classic crime fiction, I’m quite a fan of good films. I’d like to share with you some of my favourite classic thrillers and mysteries (using classic rather freely, referring to movies from the last century).

  1. Seven (1995) – Excellent David Fincher thriller starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Gwyneth Paltrow. Fincher has hardly hit a wrong note since then.
  2. Pulp Fiction (1994) – The Quentin Tarantino epic, his best movie to date, almost every scene a classic.
  3. Die Hard I & II (1988 / 1990) – The ultimate action films, both of them excellent in their own right.
  4. Rear Window (1954) – I am a great fan of Alfred Hitchcock and this is one of hist all time best movie, based on a crime story (short story) by Cornell Woolrich, starring the amazing James Stewart and Grace Kelly.
  5. Rope (1948) – Another classic Hitchcock, based on an excellent crime play by Patrick Hamilton.
  6. The Godfather I & II (1972 / 1974) – Perfect, epic crime stories.
  7. The Thin Man series (1934-1947) – A series of six wonderful mysteries starring classic golden age stars William Powell & Myrna Loy. The first one was based on Dashiell Hammett’s classic novel. Also look out for the interesting 2012 publication of “novellas” which became films in the series.
  8. Rebecca (1940) – Yet another excellent Hitchcock film.
  9. Dr. No (1962) – No list is complete without James Bond, and the first one in the series is one of the best.
  10. The Game (1997) – Another incredibly good David Fincher mystery.

***

Thank you for this interesting post Ragnar.  I think I’ve only managed to watch ‘Seven’ as I’m horribly squeamish and a bit of a wimp!  Following your recommendations however, I will endeavour to watch one or two more!

Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook editions | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

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32b9843or-768x512Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavik in 1976, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavik University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavik, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir, selected by the Guardian as one of the ‘best crime-writing festivals around the world’. Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, and he is currently working on his sixth. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two daughters.

Author Links: Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour |#BookReview: The River at Night by Erica Ferencik (@EricaFerencik) @BloomsburyRaven

51zhxjr-0ml-_sx323_bo1204203200_“Win Allen doesn’t want an adventure.

After a miserable divorce and the death of her beloved brother, she just wants to spend some time with her three best friends, far away from her soul-crushing job. But athletic, energetic Pia has other plans.

Plans for an adrenaline-raising, breath-taking, white-water rafting trip in the Maine wilderness. Five thousand square miles of remote countryside. Just mountains, rivers and fresh air.

No phone coverage. No people.

No help.”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my stop on Erica Ferencik’s The River at Night blog tour.  When I was asked to join the blog tour for this book I just couldn’t say no.  I’m a bit of a sucker for disaster/survival novels and although the plot of The River at Night involves a much smaller cast of characters and it’s really more of a thriller novel than anything else, I couldn’t help but be drawn to it for the same reason I love disaster novels.  A group of normal everyday people suddenly, unexpectedly, being thrown (normally thanks to human error, science or Mother Nature) into the worst kind of situation and seeing if they survive.  Nail biting stuff which is exactly what The River at Night proved to be!

Four friends who don’t see each other enough regularly meet up once a year and go on holiday/vacation together.  The holiday tends to be chosen by Pia who is outdoorsy and adventurous.  Unfortunately for the other three friends, they are neither outdoorsy nor adventurous!  This year Pia has decided to go white water rafting.  (I should say at this point that I am not outdoorsy or adventurous but I’ve always fancied having a go at white water rafting….until I read this book!)  Win Allen and her three friends, Pia, Rachel and Sandra all head out to the Maine wilderness, their backpacks stuffed to the gills with new rafting equipment and chocolate.  Each woman is very different to her friends.  They all have different life experiences and are at different stages of their lives.  But what they all need more than anything else is to spend some quality time together.  The journey starts well as they meet their guide, Rory and he settles them in their base camp for the night.  But before long hostility spikes the air and tempers begin to fray.  Pitted against the Maine rapids, Mother Nature and maybe even each other…will they survive their holiday of a lifetime?

What I absolutely loved about this book is that underneath the action and the adventure, what you actually have is a beautifully written character study of four strong, independent woman and their straining friendship.  The arguments and the tension of so many years come crashing back from the past, old grudges and past upsets are reignited in the worst possible scenario and we get to see who these characters really are.  I loved that the strong, at times, became weak and the weak became strong.  Out of the four female characters Win Allen won my heart through and through.  I saw myself in her more than the others (with maybe a little bit of Sandra in there too).  I found it harder to warm to Rachel and Pia but they are the stronger, more assertive and forthright women of the group.

The plot moved at a steady yet intriguing pace.  I didn’t find this book to be a ‘thrill a minute’ read so if you’re looking for something that will keep your heart pounding and put you on the edge of your seat, you may want to look elsewhere. I found myself happily settling into a steady rhythm when bam, something unexpected happened. Ferencik shows a real skill at lulling you into a false sense of security and then shocking you right back out again.  I enjoyed the author’s intricately descriptive style when narrating the Maine wilderness and the angry, boiling rapids.  But at times, I wanted a little less scene setting and a little more of the fascinating characters and their dialogue.  Saying that, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, particularly if you like your reads with well written, detailed characters.  It has exciting moments but the story is more about the four friends and their ability to cope in this unusual situation putting their friendship to the ultimate test.  There are creepy parts and there is a small amount of animal slaughter which I know many people find hard to stomach, even when fictionalised.  Compelling, heartfelt writing and I can’t wait to read more from Erica Ferencik.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The River at Night.  Many thanks to Joe Thomas at Bloomsbury Raven for providing me with a copy.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik was published in the UK by Bloomsbury Raven on 12th January 2017 and is available in hardback, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback being released later this year) | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Smith & Sons (11)

erica-ferencik-headshotErica Ferencik is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Boston University. Her work has appeared in Salon and The Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio.

Author Links:Website | Twitter |

damppebbles is 1 year old today! #blogiversary #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #giveaway

200Grab yourself a glass of fizz, stick a silly party hat on your head (you look great, honest!), gorge yourself on cake and boogie on down to the dance floor.  All in honour of my little blog.  Today, Saturday 14th January 2017 is damppebble’s first birthday.  Today I celebrate my first ever blogiversary, whoop whoop.  Did I think one year ago today that I would be celebrating this landmark occasion?  Well…no, I didn’t.  I had dabbled in book blogging before and hadn’t got very far.  (If you would like proof then please click here, you have been warned!)

To celebrate I have a fabulous booky prize bundle to giveaway to one lucky winner but more about that in a moment or two.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being a book blogger over the last year.  I have read books that I wouldn’t have had the chance to read otherwise.  I have met the most amazing group of people, also known as the book blogging community and have made some true, lifelong friends.  I have met authors on and offline, OH MY GOSH…AUTHORS!  You wonderfully talented people are my rock stars and if I seemed like a gibbering wreck when  I met you then that’s the reason why.  Utterly starstruck.  I have participated in numerous brilliant blog tours (apologies to anyone I’ve missed)…

giphyI was voted Fahrenheit Press‘ Blogger of the Week (well, fortnight as it turned out but I wasn’t complaining!).  As well as appearing on a number of other fabulous blogs talking about my book obsession.  And I finally made it to a blogger/author meet-up in Birmingham (the first of many I hope, so I can continue to gibber at you lovely authors).  All in all I think my first year has gone rather well!

But enough of my wittering, where are the prizes you ask..?!  I have a rather lovely bunch of Orenda goodies on offer to one lucky winner.

First up I have my original copy of the phenomenal A Suitable Lie, my book of 2016.  If you missed my review then click here.  Oh, and don’t worry.  A very kind person sent me a signed copy of ASL so I do still have one on my bookshelf (phew!).  I also have a crimey magnetic bookmark with the 50 best crime novels.  I’m not sure who they asked as my list would be quite different but it’s an interesting discussion point.  And finally, being sent from damppebbles HQ, there is a pretty turquoise notebook with accompanying pink pencil and butterflies printed on the pages.  It’s lovely and one for the stationery addicts out there.  But wait, there’s more…

The incredibly lovely Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books has offered the winner a SIGNED copy of Rupture by Ragnar Jonasson (paperback published 15th January 2017) and a SIGNED copy of In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings (paperback published April 2016).  A special thank you to Karen for offering such fabulous prizes and wanting to be a part of my first blogiversary.

So there we have it.  What a prize bundle, huh?  So now all you need to know is how to enter.  The giveaway is open to existing and new followers of damppebbles.com.  UK ONLY please (sorry but postage is a killer!).  The winner will need to provide me with their postal address which I will then share with Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books, no one else.  The giveaway ends at midnight (GMT) on 18th January 2017.  Click on the link below to enter.  Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So here’s to my second year as a fully fledged book blogger.  I am honoured by the support I have received over the last year and by the way I have been welcomed into the booky community with open (warm and fuzzy) arms.  For each tweet, retweet, share or mention, each comment, like and follow…thank you!!  I am hugely grateful and still find it hard to believe that there is someone out there who is interested in what I have to say.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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One final thing before you go (if there is anyone still reading at this point!!) here are my most popular posts of the past 12 months.  I’m glad that my most viewed review is also one of my very favourite books, that makes it even more special.

Most visited post (My Husbands Son blog tour, guest post by Deborah O’Connor)
My most visited review (The Optician’s Wife by Betsy Reavley)

Thanks everyone, looking forward to the next year.

p.s. It’s ‘damppebbles’, not damp pebbles or Damp Pebbles or (OMG) DampPebbles.  It’s just like ‘Waterstones’, but better because I’d serve wine 😉

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent (@lizzienugent) @PenguinUKBooks

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lying-in-wait-pb‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’

“Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son.

There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder.

However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants …”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my stop on Liz Nugent’s Lying in Wait paperback blog tour.  I was a very lucky mummy when my two very clever little people (aged 5 and 2 but with impeccable taste!) decided to buy me a copy of Lying in Wait for my birthday last year.  I was absolutely desperate to read this book after the storming reviews doing the rounds following it’s release in eBook format.  DESPERATE!  But as fellow bloggers will confirm, as a book blogger you don’t get to read your own books as often as you would like.  I couldn’t believe my eyes (nor my luck) when I received an email asking me to join the paperback blog tour.  It was meant to be and there was no way I could refuse!

This is a fantastic, well written tale of manipulation, secrets and lies.  Lydia is a woman determined to maintain the status quo; living in a secluded mansion with her adoring husband at her beck and call and spending her days doting on her 17 year old son, Laurence.  But there’s something Lydia needs to make her life even more perfect and it’s something she can only get from Annie Doyle.  How far are Lydia and her husband willing to go?  Annie knows who she is dealing with, she knows Lydia’s husband is a judge and she knows their weaknesses.  Lydia is used to getting her own way though and will do whatever is necessary to protect herself and her son…

When I first started reading this book I really liked Lydia.  Yes, she came across as a bit of a snob but also as someone who cared deeply for her son (and you can’t fault someone for loving their child).  My initial feelings of warmth towards her didn’t last very long.  As the story starts to unfold you realise that Lydia is a very damaged, manipulative woman. Events in her childhood caused deep emotional and psychological scars that can never be healed properly.  By the end of the book I was aghast, full of loathing toward this one character who I had initially liked.  Such superb writing from Liz Nugent.  To go from one emotion to the absolute opposite in 303 pages, now that’s a skill.

Young Laurence soon becomes infatuated with Annie Doyle.  Writing stories about her, keeping newspaper clippings about her disappearance and becoming generally obsessed in a rather unhealthy way.  That obsession is reignited when Annie’s father turns up at Laurence’s place of work.  Laurence recognises him immediately and begins to follow Mr Doyle home, helping him gain extra unemployment benefit and buying him the odd pint in the pub.  And that’s when he meets Karen, Annie’s beautiful model-like sister.  Karen becomes friends with Laurence’s girlfriend but Laurence only has eyes for one lady…

As Laurence blossomed from an obese awkward teenager to a dashing, hard-working young man I began to warm to him (despite the creepy stalker thing!).  The budding relationship between Laurence and Karen made me feel a little uncomfortable at times but strangely, I also wanted them to get together!  I felt he had moved on so much from his strange teenage days that he was almost like a new character, one I was prepared to forgive for his past indiscretions.  Yup, I was a muddle of emotions reading this book!

You get a sense of foreboding, a feeling of impending doom whilst reading Lying in Wait. There’s something about these characters that makes you feel uneasy and gives you a chill.  You expect the very worst to happen and oh my gosh, it does…but never when you expect it to.  An expertly crafted novel that keeps you wondering what will happen next.  I couldn’t see where the story was going and what a shock the conclusion was.  Thoroughly enjoyable reading!

Would I recommend this book?  I definitely would.  Reading Lying in Wait is an experience that I wish all readers could enjoy at least once.  Brilliantly written creepy characters with twists and turns along the way that will keep you guessing.  I can’t wait to read more from Liz Nugent (Unravelling Oliver is waiting for me on my Kindle!).

Four and a half stars out of five.

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent was published in the UK on 26th December 2016 by Penguin UK and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Smith & Sons (11)

liz-nugent-2-c-beta-bajgartovaBefore becoming a full-time writer Liz Nugent worked in Irish film, theatre and television. In 2014 her first novel, Unravelling Oliver, was a No.1 bestseller and won the Crime Fiction prize in the 2014 Irish Book Awards. Her second novel, Lying in Wait, went straight to No 1 in the Irish bestseller charts, remained there for nearly two months and won her a second IBA. She lives in Dublin with her husband.

Author Links: Twitter | Website | Goodreads |