The gift that keeps on giving… #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger @cobaltdinosaur

Following on from my #CaseClosed round-up post yesterday evening and totally embarrassing my husband by announcing to the blogosphere and across social media that his Christmas present to me for the past two years has been a book a month (of his choosing), I have decided to embarrass him further! Hurrah!  I’m going to bow to public pressure (thanks FictionFan and everywhere and nowhere) and reveal the books he has purchased so far.  Now, I’m not sure in what order they were given to me but I’ve tried to put them in some sort of order.  You’ll also see why I have vowed to make sure I read more of them.

1930509_32027183827_8924_n.jpgAnyway, this is Ryan, my husband.  I thought it might help to see a photo of him as you all make your judgement on the books he’s bought me.  He can’t be cross with me as I’m also in the photo (and it’s a few years old so we’re both looking young and carefree!)


Anyhoo, on with the books…

This is the book Ryan gave me at Christmas 2015 along with a little note explaining that I was to receive a book a month for one year (but I enjoyed receiving my books so much that I asked for the same Christmas gift again this year…poor Ryan!).  Here’s the blurb:

loney.jpgIf it had another name, I never knew, but the locals called it the Loney – that strange nowhere between the Wyre and the Lune where Hanny and I went every Easter time with Mummer, Farther, Mr and Mrs Belderboss and Father Wilfred, the parish priest.

It was impossible to truly know the place. It changed with each influx and retreat, and the neap tides would reveal the skeletons of those who thought they could escape its insidious currents. No one ever went near the water. No one apart from us, that is.

I suppose I always knew that what happened there wouldn’t stay hidden for ever, no matter how much I wanted it to. No matter how hard I tried to forget . . .

I read this one (and it was the first book I reviewed on damppebbles!) and gave it four stars.  Click here to read my review (and laugh at my first attempt!)


Next up came Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez.

syndrome e.jpgLucie Henebelle, single mother and beleaguered detective, has just about enough on her plate when she receives a panicked phone call from an ex-lover who has developed a rare disorder after watching an obscure film from the 1950s. With help from the brooding Inspector Franck Sharko, who is exploring the movie’s connection to five unearthed corpses at a construction site, Lucie begins to strip away the layers of what may be the most disturbing film ever made. With more lives on the line, Sharko and Lucie struggle to solve this terrifying mystery before it’s too late. In a high-stakes, adrenaline-fueled hunt that jumps from France to Canada, Egypt to Rwanda, and beyond, this astonishing page-turner, with cinematic echoes from The Manchurian Candidate and the Bourne series, will keep you guessing until the very end.

I read this one too and loved it.  I’m not sure I would mark a book down from a five to a four star read based purely on the characters indulging in romantic liaison nowadays.  It should probably have been a five star read.  Here’s my review.


Dust and Desire by Conrad Williams was another book I managed to read before interest in the blog picked up and I started to read only blog tour books feature on blog tours.

518pjzuij8l-_sx326_bo1204203200_.jpgPI Joel Sorrell is approached by the mysterious Kara Geenan, who is desperate to find her missing brother. Joel takes on the case but almost immediately, an attempt his made on his life. The body count increases. And then Kara vanishes too… as those close to Joel are sucked into his nightmare, he realizes he must track down the killer if he is to halt a grisly masterplan – even if it means sacrificing his own life.

Absolutely brilliant book and a big five stars from me.  I loved it so much that it appeared in my #TBConFB 20/20 list and my top reads of 2016.


Now we’re getting to the books that have sat, neglected on my book shelf for the past year. Starting with this one, Hidden by Emma Kavanagh.

HE’S WATCHING512ewY-V4NL._SY346_.jpg
A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He’s unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman – before it’s too late.

To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety – both for her, and her young niece who’s been recently admitted. She’s heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?

As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman’s next target will be. But he’s there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks…


Another sadly unread book, The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore.

510gJcx7qqL.jpgDr Caleb Maddox is an expert on pain. A leading San Francisco toxicologist, he is mapping the chemical traces that show how much agony a human body can endure. But now a different kind of pain is distracting him from his life’s work – the violent break-up of his relationship with his artist girlfriend, Bridget.

Seeking solace in a secluded bar, he meets a beautiful woman who shares an absinthe with him, then disappears into the night. Instantly obsessed, he starts trawling the hidden byways of the city to try and find her. And when he does, she insists on a bizarre set of rules before he can meet her alone.

But even as he tries to lose himself in Emmeline’s darkly erotic world, Caleb finds himself inexorably drawn back to the study of pain and death. For weeks the police have been fishing corpses out of the bay, with no clue as to how they died, and Caleb’s old friend, medical examiner Henry Newcomb, asks him to decipher the chemical puzzles left in the bloated remains. Soon Caleb discovers evidence of an unspeakable horror connecting all the victims, suggesting that the city is prey to a deranged killer.

And then he discovers that one of the dead men was last seen at the same bar the night he met Emmeline. Suddenly Caleb is plunged into a nightmare where love, madness and murder are clasped in a lethal embrace – and untangling the truth could be the last thing he wants to do.


Ah ha, a book I have read!  I have a bit of a penchant for translated crime, particularly Japanese and German translated crime (you may notice this a little more further down this post).  I was on the brink of buying this book myself when hubby beat me to it.

51qghc5xadl-_sx322_bo1204203200_.jpgJapan, 1936. An old eccentric artist living with seven women has been found dead – in a room locked from the inside. His diaries reveal alchemy, astrology and a complicated plan to kill all seven women. Shortly afterwards, the plan is carried out: the women are found dismembered and buried across rural Japan.By 1979, these Tokyo Zodiac Murders have been obsessing a nation for decades, but not one of them has been solved. A mystery-obsessed illustrator and a talented astrologer set off around the country – and you follow, carrying the enigma of the Zodiac murderer through madness, missed leads and magic tricks. You have all the clues, but can you solve the mystery before they do?

Absolutely loved it! Incredibly clever, a book where you are always looking for clues.  It was a five star read for me and again, featured on all of my top read lists of the year.


Inspector Imanishi Investigates by Seicho Matsumoto is another book waiting patiently for me on the TBR.

51jx+2hf4VL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgIn the wee hours of a 1960s Tokyo morning, a dead body is found under the rails of a train, and the victim’s face is so badly damaged that police have a hard time figuring out the victim’s identity. Only two clues surface: an old man, overheard talking in a distinctive accent to a young man, and the word “kameda.” Inspector Imanishi leaves his beloved bonsai and his haiku and goes off to investigate—and runs up against a blank wall. Months pass in fruitless questioning, in following up leads, until the case is closed, unsolved.

But Imanishi is dissatisfied, and a series of coincidences lead him back to the case. Why did a young woman scatter pieces of white paper out of the window of a train? Why did a bar girl leave for home right after Imanishi spoke to her? Why did an actor, on the verge of telling Imanishi something important, drop dead of a heart attack? What can a group of nouveau young artists possibly have to do with the murder of a quiet and “saintly” provincial old ex-policemen? Inspector Imanishi investigates.


And here’s another that’s still to be read…oh dear.  A Perfect Crime by A Yi.

51+8AXyMTsL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgOn a normal day in provincial China, a teenager goes about his regular business, but he’s also planning the brutal murder of his only friend. He lures her over, strangles her, stuffs her body into the washing machine and flees town, whereupon a perilous game of cat-and-mouse begins.

A shocking investigation into the despair that traps the rural poor as well as a technically brilliant excursion into the claustrophobic realm of classic horror and suspense, A Perfect Crime is a thrilling and stylish novel about a motiveless murder that echoes Kafka’s absurdism, Camus’ nihilism and Dostoyevsky’s depravity. With exceptional tonal control, A Yi steadily reveals the psychological backstory that enables us to make sense of the story’s dramatic violence and provides chillingly apt insights into a country on the cusp of enormous social, political and economic change.


Sebastian Fitzek is my very favourite German author.  I absolutely love his books so I’m surprised that I haven’t found the time to read this one yet!

41ZMU7ABMBL._SY346_.jpgAs a young man, Leon Nader suffered from insomnia. As a nightwalker, he even turned to violence during his nocturnal excursions and had psychiatric treatment for his condition. Eventually, he was convinced he had been cured – but one day, years later, Leon’s wife disappears from their flat under mysterious circumstances. Could it be that his illness has broken out again?

In order to find out how he behaves in his sleep, Leon fits a movement activated camera to his forehead – and when he looks at the video the next morning he makes a discovery that bursts the borders of his imagination. His nocturnal personality goes through a door that is totally unknown to him and descends into the darkness….


I hope you’re starting to see why reading these books from my husband is one of my new year resolutions.  There are some great books just sat on my bookcase, collecting dust. Including this one, The Hollow Men by Rob McCarthy.

51c-YYYe89L.jpgDr Harry Kent: former Army medic, hospital registrar, police surgeon, drug addict and defender of anyone the world would rather brush aside. His critics say he has a weakness for lost causes.

There are some problems Harry can’t solve. His guilt, his lack of sleep, his fractured relationships.

But when he sits down across from a sick teenager, he knows what to do – even if that teenager is armed.

When the negotiations go wrong and the boy is rushed to hospital, Harry soon realises the danger is not over. Someone wants his patient dead, someone who has access to medical records, someone who will stop at nothing to hide the truth.

Harry knows he can’t save everyone. But he won’t stop trying…


Another that needs to be read soon, The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter.

61oYvlbcjjL._SY346_.jpgCalcutta 1837. Young officer William Avery is tasked by his employers-the East India Company-with tracking down disgraced poet and spy Xavier Mountstuart, lost in the jungles of central India. Accompanied by the dissolute and mysterious Jeremiah Blake, Avery is sure the mission is doomed.

When their search leads them into Kali-worshipping Thug territory, the pair are soon fighting for their lives, but impelled to solve the horrifying mystery behind their mission. With death and danger on every side, is it too late for them to save themselves?


Ho hum….here’s another on the TBR, All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford.

51SrMxeF2eL._SY346_.jpgA fresh start. A new home.
A time to make friends. A chance to hide from her past.
University life offers all these things to Pen.
But her secrets define her. And they may yet kill her…

‘The best book I’ve read this year’ Fiona Barton, bestselling author of The Widow
‘Dark, compelling and deep. This is a fantastic debut’ Alex Lake, bestselling author of After Anna


I had been about to buy this one for myself but once again my very clever hubby beat me to it!  Squeals of delight rang forth from damppebbles HQ.  But I haven’t read it…yet.

51-zrXWKeRL._SY346_.jpgThe year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that
he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence. Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows.

Graeme Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary.


Murderabilia by Craig Robertson was my second book in December and doesn’t really fit in with the rest at all.  One of the rules we have is that I can’t have mentioned the book to Ryan (a very clever way to stop from talking about books altogether maybe…?).  He had found it, he had chosen it and was about to press the ‘buy’ button on amazon when I opened my big mouth and said how excited I was to read Murderabilia and how desperate I was for a copy.  Which kind of made it null and void.  So he bought me the book anyway and gave it to me as a ‘normal’ Christmas present (and I see it as my first book of the new year).  I HAD to include it.

51V08R7Z9+L._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe first commuter train of the morning slowly rumbles away from platform seven of Queen St station. Everyone on board is sleepy, avoiding eye contact, reluctant to admit the day has begun. And then, as the train emerges from a tunnel, the screaming starts. Hanging from the bridge ahead of them is a body. Placed neatly on the ground below him are the victim’s clothes. Why?

Detective Narey is assigned the case and then just as quickly taken off it again. Winter, now a journalist, must pursue the case for her. The line of questioning centres around the victim’s clothes – why leave them in full view? And what did the killer not leave, and where might it appear again?

Everyone has a hobby. Some people collect death. To find this evil, Narey must go on to the dark web, and into immense danger …


We’ve made it 2017!  My first book of 2017 was The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel which I have read but haven’t reviewed yet.

513zKetA2sL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgA whole family has been murdered with a pickaxe. They were old Danner the farmer, an overbearing patriarch, his put-upon devoutly religious wife, and their daughter Barbara Spangler, whose husband Vincenz left her after fathering her daughter, Marianne. Also murdered was the Danners’ new maidservant, Marie, who was regarded as slightly simple. Despite the brutal nature of the killings and the small village where it has taken place, the police have no leads. Officially the crime is unsolved. And then a former resident returns home…The Murder Farm is an unconventional detective story. The author interweaves testament from the villagers, an oblique view of the murderer, occasional third-person narrative pieces and passages of pious devotion. The narrator leaves the village unaware of the truth, only the reader is able to reach the shattering conclusion.


Which brings us to my newest book which I received only yesterday (so can be forgiven for not reading yet!)  Black Water Lilies by Michael Bussi.

519I+twqqpL._SY346_.jpgThis is the story of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another. Jérôme Morval, a man whose passion for art was matched only by his passion for women, has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens at Giverny, where Monet did his famous paintings. In Jérôme’s pocket is a postcard of Monet’s Water Lilies with the words: Eleven years old. Happy Birthday.

Entangled in the mystery are three women: a young painting prodigy, the seductive village schoolteacher and an old widow who watches over the village from a mill by the stream. All three of them share a secret. But what do they know about the discovery of Jérôme Morval’s corpse? And what is the connection to the mysterious Black Water Lilies, a rumoured masterpiece by Monet that has never been found…

So what do you think?  Shall I keep him? (of course I’m going to keep him ;)).  I think my husband knows my reading tastes rather well.  The books I have read have all been four or five stars and I know that there are some corkers in the list above.  Have you read any of the books mentioned?  Does your partner do something similar? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

A huge thank you to my gorgeous hubby, Ryan for all of the hard work and time you put into finding these brilliant books for me.  I know that you never take the easy option and always search long and hard for something a little bit different to everything else.  Thank you my lovely man (and I’m sorry for making you do it all again this year…and next year….and the year after that…and so on).

41 thoughts on “The gift that keeps on giving… #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger @cobaltdinosaur

  1. Just caught up on yesterday’s post, Emma, and kudos to your husband for a great idea! I’d love that kind of gift but I doubt my husband would choose books for me unfortunately. I might drop some (very) heavy hints though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well get on with it woman and read them!!! 😄 Seriously, what a lovely husband you have to buy you books – mine would want to keep them out of the house- not bring more in! They all look exciting reads but you need to read Hidden – that is very good xx

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a lovely idea for a gift. Impressive too if he’s not buying you books you’ve already read! I haven’t read many of those though The Loney is on this year’s reading list for my book group. One you really must read is His Bloody Project, it’s brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re the second person to recommend His Bloody Project to me Joanne. Will move that up the TBR 😊. He’s getting to the point where he feels he has to check if I’ve read the book or not. He nearly bought me In Cold Blood and Out in January, both of which I’ve read and LOVED! 😍

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, what an awesome gift. I’m going to mention this to my better half. Let’s see how that goes down! No doubt I’ll see some exaggerated eye rolling ;-). By the way, you must read The Poison Artist. It’s one of those books that keeps jumping into your head for days after you’ve finished it. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😂😂 Maybe I need to appreciate him a little more after all the praise he’s received today! Thanks for the The Poison Artist recommendation. Will move it further up the TBR 😊


  5. Missed yesterday’s post but can I say what a great idea I will be stealing. I have read a few books on the list but would add all of them I think (where they aren’t already on my TBR). Your husband has great taste!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeah ok you can keep him 😛 Haha, he obviously knows you very well and kudos for all his research, managing to get books you haven’t read is probably quite hard. He should give himself a pat on the back 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! I actually think you must have the best husband in the whole world! What fantastic books! Several on my TBR already and I’ve just added The Tokyo Zodiac Murders. I don’t like to be critical but – you don’t deserve him, really you don’t, leaving all those lovely books unread! I hope you feel guilty…!! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: #BookReview: The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel (@AndreaSchenkel) @riverrunbooks – damppebbles

  9. Pingback: #CaseClosed: February 2017 #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles – damppebbles

  10. Pingback: #BookReview: The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore (@JonMooreFiction) @orionbooks – damppebbles

  11. Pingback: #BookReview: The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek (trans. by Jamie Lee Searle) #TheNightwalker #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (6/15) |

  12. Pingback: #BookReview: All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford #AllThesePerfectStranger #damppebbles |

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