#BookReview: Watch Me by Angela Clarke (@TheAngelaClarke) @AvonBooksUK @CrimeFix

watch me.jpg“The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.

YOU HAVE 24 HOURS TO SAVE THE GIRL’S LIFE.
MAKE THEM COUNT.”

Back in February 2016 when damppebbles was still finding it’s feet and I was wondering what I had actually let myself in for by starting a book blog, I reviewed the brilliant Follow Me by author Angela Clarke, the first book in the Social Media Murders series.  If you would like a recap or if you missed it the first time around you can read that review by clicking here.  Please remember I was even more of a novice at this blogging lark than I am now…damppebbles wasn’t even a month old!  Follow Me was a compelling read which I found fabulously dark and brilliantly disturbing.  So earlier this year I was delighted to discover that the second book in the series had been published.

It was so good to be reacquainted with studious detective Nasreen Cudmore and bubbly, in your face Freddie Venton.  Although I must say that I found it hard to recognise Freddie at first.  I hate spoilers and I don’t know whether you’ve read the first book in the series so I’ll be as vague as I can and say that the events at the end of Follow Me changed Freddie and unfortunately not for the better.

In Follow Me I felt Freddie took the limelight, and rightly so.  I really like Freddie’s character as she’s everything I’m not.  In Watch Me it was Nasreen’s turn to steal the show and she does a brilliant job.  This book focuses so much more on the detective’s side of the investigation with Freddie making the occasional contribution.  This really worked for me as I feel I’m much more ‘Nasreen’ than I am ‘Freddie’ (in the same way that I’m much more ‘Monica’ than I am ‘Rachel or Phoebe’).

As in the first book the subject matter was current and handled with great care and respect.  I felt slightly uncomfortable that the victims of the attacks tended to be teenagers but I get the feeling this is what Clarke wants the reader to feel.  I can understand why the author chose to make one of the victims 15 years old as this demonstrates that age is no barrier to this particular crime (in fact, it’s probably more likely to happen to younger teenagers wanting to prove they are all ‘grown up’) but it did make me feel uncomfortable. I applaud the author for having the courage to make her readers squirm.  I, for one, can confirm that this is a book I won’t forget in a while.

I would definitely recommend that you read Follow Me before making a start on Watch Me.  The characters back stories are beautifully laid out in this book and you get to learn everything you need to know about them, apart from what actually happened at the end of the first book.  It’s alluded to throughout but you will be left wondering about the exact details if you haven’t read Follow Me.  Plus I will always recommend that you start with the first book in the series and work your way through.

I loved the conclusion.  It was such a surprise to me and everything I want in my crime thrillers. Great pacing with a fantastic build up, that feeling that you know exactly what’s going on when you haven’t a clue.  Brilliant.

Would I recommend this book?  I would but please make sure you read Follow Me first as otherwise you’ll be left wondering exactly what happened at the end of the first book.  I hold a great deal of affection for Nasreen and Freddie and I can’t wait for more from Angela Clarke.  A great series that all crime fans should make a point of reading.

Four and a half out of five stars.

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

Watch Me by Angela Clarke was published in the UK by Avon Books on 12th January 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author2

angela clarke.jpg

Photo and author information taken by Angela Clarke’s website

I’m a Sunday Times Bestselling author, playwright, columnist, screenwriter and public speaker. My debut crime thriller Follow Me was named Amazon’s Rising Star Debut of the Month January 2016, longlisted for the Crime Writer’s Association Dagger in the Library 2016, and shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Page Turner Award 2016. Watch Me the second instalment in the Social Media Murder Series went straight into the UK paperback chart at number 15 in January 2017. Trust Me the third in the Social Media Series is due out in June 2017.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BookReview: The Quiet Man by James Carol (@JamesCarolBooks) @FaberBooks

the quiet man.jpg“In Vancouver, the wife of a millionaire is dead following an explosion in her own home.

Everyone thinks her husband is responsible, but former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter isn’t so sure. The method is too perfect; the lack of mistakes, uncanny. He’s seen a series of carefully orchestrated murders – once a year, on exactly the same day, a woman dies in a situation just like this one.

That date is fast approaching and Winter knows another victim has been selected. Can he identify the quiet man before he strikes again?”

First of all I would like to wish James Carol and the folk at Faber & Faber a very happy publication day.  The Quiet Man is released into the wild today and I can guarantee this is one that you don’t want to miss!

The Quiet Man features one of my very favourite lead protagonists in the form of ex-FBI profiler Jefferson Winter.  This is the fourth book in the series and I heartily recommend you check out the first three books if you haven’t already done so as they are superb.  No really, they are THAT good!

On one hand, I want to shout about the Jefferson Winter series from the rooftops. But on the other, I want to keep these books just for me.  I don’t want to share!  Weird as that sounds, coming from a self confessed bookaholic who always wants to spread the book love.  I discovered the first in the series several years ago when it was first published and I felt as though I had found something REALLY special.  Something just for me.  But then I heard others speak of James Carol’s books and I felt a little…disappointed.  I wanted to have a strop and shout, ‘but they’re my books’ which of course I didn’t (because they’re not!).  Great news for the author, not so good for me and my beloved stash of Jefferson Winter novels. These amazing thrillers weren’t just my secret discovery anymore.  Many other readers out there felt exactly the same about them as I did…(Obviously, with hindsight, I see the books popularity as something  positive as it has resulted in a brand new book and that, my bookish friends is a very, very good thing!  I also feel quite proud that I saw a good thing early on and I’m now able to introduce new readers to the wonder of Winter and James Carol’s brilliant writing.)

Anyway, enough of my author/series stalking (I could give a few of my fellow bloggers a run for their money as they are well known and fairly vocal about their author stalking. But fear not Mr Carol. I am mostly harmless!).  Let’s crack on with my review…

So, what did I think of the fourth book in the series?  Well they just keep getting better and better.  James Carol is one of my very favourite authors and this latest release proves that (ha! Like proof was ACTUALLY needed!).  For those new to this series, Jefferson Winter can be an acquired taste.  He’s an ex-FBI profiler who didn’t quite ‘fit’ so has gone out to catch the bad guys on his own.  Normally as a consultant, called in as and when needed by local police forces to get to the bottom of a particularly tricky case. Jefferson hunts the killers that no one else can catch.  It helps that he himself is the son of a serial killer, maybe giving him a small insight into the minds of the most evil men and women out there.  And he’s smart.  Really, really intelligent.

This time he is called to Vancouver to assist ex-police officer, Laura Anderton find a once-a-year killer.  Always striking on 5th August and making one of his victims live, whilst the other dies.  I was a little concerned to discover that Winter was hunting someone who killed only once a year.  I was worried the story would lack the action and fast-pace of past novels but I shouldn’t have fretted.  This book is chock full of action from start to finish.  Winter and Laura Anderton immediately build a strong working relationship, sharing ideas and bouncing old and new theories around.  I found the process incredibly fascinating; that examining of the minutiae in the hunt for a sadistic killer.

I was hooked from page one and found it very difficult to put this book down.  The author can do no wrong in my eyes and I can’t wait for future instalments.  It’s a gripping read, full of tension and suspense.  If you’re a thriller fan and haven’t read any of this series before then you are truly missing out.  The Quiet Man can be read as a standalone but why would you do that when you can read the first three books in the series as well?! It just doesn’t make sense!

Would I recommend this book?  Yes, yes I would.  Now stop me if I’ve mentioned this before but not only should you purchase The Quiet Man but you should also pop all of the other books in your basket at the same time!  Oh, and there are novellas too.  Don’t forget the novellas!  This is my ‘go to’ series, centering around one of my all time favourite characters.  I will buy any thriller written by James Carol without reading the blurb.  I am THAT confident that I will love it.  Don’t miss out thriller fans, buy this book!

Five out of five stars.

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

The Quiet Man by James Carol was published in the UK by Faber Books on 4th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author2

81yvufujgtl-_sy200_James Carol was born in Scotland in 1969, where he spent his early years. He moved to England in the eighties and has lived there ever since. At various times he has worked as a guitarist, sound engineer, guitar tutor, journalist, and a horse riding instructor.

The character of Jefferson Winter came about because he wanted to write a series of books that gave him as much freedom as possible. He figured that the more interesting he kept things for himself, the more interesting it would be for the reader.

Although the novels are written as a series, James approaches each book as a stand-alone. Each story is set in a different location, and has a different cast of characters. The beauty of this approach is that the novels can be read out of order.

When he’s not writing, James spends his time training horses and riders. An accomplished guitarist, he relaxes by writing and recording music. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#CoverReveal: One to Watch by Rachel Amphlett (@RachelAmphlett) @emmamitchellfpr

I am absolutely delighted to have a cover reveal to share with you today.  It’s for the third book in the brilliant Detective Kay Hunter series written by talented author, Rachel Amphlett.  I am a huge fan of this series and I can’t wait to read this latest instalment titled One to Watch.  To whet your appetite, here’s the blurb:

Sophie Whittaker shared a terrifying secret. Hours later, she was dead.

Detective Kay Hunter and her colleagues are shocked by the vicious murder of a teenage girl at a private party in the Kentish countryside.

A tangled web of dark secrets is exposed as twisted motives point to a history of greed and corruption within the tight-knit community.

Confronted by a growing number of suspects and her own enemies who are waging a vendetta against her, Kay makes a shocking discovery that will make her question her trust in everyone she knows.

Doesn’t that sound good?  I’ve read the first two books in this series and thoroughly enjoyed both.  They are both fantastic but the second book, Will to Live is a real favourite of mine.  If you would like to read my review of book one, Scared to Death then please click here.  And if you would like to read my review of book two, Will to Live then please click here.

But what about the eagerly anticipated third book?  Without further ado, here’s the cover of One to Watch released 6th June 2017:

One to Watch Cover LARGE EBOOK2.jpg

Another brilliant cover!  I can’t wait to read this book and I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour, so look out for my review on Friday 2nd June 2017.

So what are you waiting for?  Get your pre-order in now!

about the author3

Author

Rachel Amphlett is the bestselling author of the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the new Detective Kay Hunter crime thriller series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel’s novels appeal to a worldwide audience, and have been compared to Robert Ludlum, Lee Child and Michael Crichton.

She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint in 2014.

An advocate for knowledge within the publishing industry, Rachel is always happy to share her experiences to a wider audience through her blogging and speaking engagements.

You can keep in touch with Rachel by signing up to her mailing list via her website (http://www.rachelamphlett.com), or via Facebook (http://on.fb.me/TN7rpu) and Twitter: @RachelAmphlett

#BlogTour | #GuestPost: Watching You by J.A. Schneider (@JoyceSchneider1)

WatchingYou-7a.jpeg“A serial killer texts his victims first. A detective vows revenge. He comes after her.

In the chill of an October night, Detective Kerri Blasco is called to a bizarre murder scene. Leda Winfield, a young volunteer for the homeless, has been shot. Her cell phone displays the frightening text, WATCHING YOU, and into her back, hideously pushed with a hat pin, is a note with the same awful message. Leda’s socialite family and friends insist that no one would have wanted to harm her, but Kerri isn’t convinced.

Until another random young woman is killed in the same way. Kerri and her team profile a monstrous killer who enjoys terrifying his victims before stalking and killing them. But how does he get their phone numbers?

Kerri soon finds that the killer is after her, too, and that the key to finding him may just be in the homeless shelter. When the body count rises, she vows to stop the madman – even if it means battling her own personal trauma, risking her job, her love relationship with her boss Alex Brand, and her life.”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and my stop on the Watching You blog tour which I share with the lovely Susan at Books From Dusk Till Dawn, and my very favourite book blog(ger), Joanne at My Chestnut Reading Tree.  Watching You is the third book in the Detective Kerri Blasco series and is written by talented author, J.A. (Joyce) Schneider.  I have read, thoroughly enjoyed and reviewed the second book in this gripping series. Click here to read my four and a half star review of Her Last Breath (Detective Kerri Blasco #2).

To celebrate the publication of Watching You on 25th April 2017 I have a fantastic guest post from J.A. Schneider to share with you (I do love a guest post!).  So without further ado, I’ll hand over to Joyce…

Advice for Aspiring Writers, by J.A. Schneider

Never give up. Never stop writing. Life will do everything it can to throw you roadblocks and disappointment, but keep at it. It’s hard to maintain the passion in the face of constant rejection, but don’t forget what made you start writing in the first place. Also, avoid comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle. Those “oh-so-lucky best sellers” you see in the top slots on Amazon – 99% of them, anyway – went through decades of rejection and frustration.

Her Last Breath was my eighth book. Readers were finally starting to hear about me. Or maybe it began with my seventh book, Fear Dreams –  but before those two psychological thrillers I wrote the six-book Embryo medical thriller series, which had some success, acquired a small but loyal following, but didn’t resonate as Fear Dreams did. Which, again, was my seventh book. If I had given up after six…

Often, the hardest part is keeping alive the will to keep going. For inspiration and encouragement, two of my favorite author quotes are David Baldacci’s “A writer is always terrified,” and E.L. Doctorow’s “Writing is like driving at night. You can only see as far as your headlights.” Other terrific quotes are Tess Gerritsen’s “Do you have the guts to stay with it?” and Stephen King’s “Just flail away at the g-damn thing.” I have a collection of those quotes on a Word doc which I keep open to the left of my writing draft, and those quotes are my crutch, like friends saying, “Hey, we’ve all been through the same thing!”

That collection of quotes is a comfort, and since those writers have more years of hair tearing and anguish behind them than I do, I’d like to share a few of their encouraging nuggets with you:

Hugh Howey: “Try to worry about the writing and nothing else. Also look at it as a marathon, not a sprint. My bestselling book was my eighth or ninth. As soon as it took off, the rest of my books took off with it. The idea that we can pub one title and it will catch on … your odds are better that you’ll rope a unicorn.”

Lisa Gardner: “It took a good ten years for me to become an overnight success. (Laughter).”

Bella Andre: “Seven years of frustration, my publisher dropped me…”

T.R. Ragan: After 20 years, I began to question my sanity and the whole perseverance thing. I knew this writing business wouldn’t be easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it. But I never thought it would be this hard. By the time I had signed with my second agent and worked with two editors, I decided to stop writing romance and start writing thrillers. I took my frustration with the industry and unleashed it as I wrote my first serial killer novel.”

[When sales of Abducted reached 300,000 (after 20 yrs of tears) Ms Ragan was approached by two of New York’s big five publishers—at long last. “I said, ‘Forget you,’” Ragan recalls, laughing. Instead, she signed with Thomas & Mercer…]

There’s also that wonderful passage from the Bible, Galatians 6:9: ”Do not give up, for in due season you shall reap if you do not tire.” You don’t have to be religious to appreciate that one. It’s pretty powerful.

As a final note I’d suggest that you not show your first draft to others until you’ve reached the end. That first draft is fragile, you’re in the earliest phase of finding your story from the sticky morass of characters and plot threads. Any comments, positive or negative, can affect the way you feel about your story before its mud has cleared for you, in its own time.

So hang in there; keep those imagination wheels turning even if pushed to the back burner. No matter what the stress or distraction, it can also be helpful to keep an old-fashioned notebook, in hand, literally. It just feels good to hold. On bad days, get one sentence into it before the bleep hits the fan again. You’ll feel better. Keep the dream alive.

Thank you, Joyce for this inspiring post.  I love all of those quotes, particularly Lisa Gardner’s which appeals to my warped sense of humour!  I can’t imagine how it feels for a writer to be put through the wringer with their work in progress.  I often struggle to put a 500 word book review together!  I have nothing but respect and admiration for writers.  As Joyce says, keep going.  Us bloggers, reviewers and readers need your words ❤.

Watching You by J.A. Schneider was published in the UK on 25th April 2017 and is available to purchase from Amazon by clicking here.

WatchingYou-Apr7-Medium.jpeg

about the author2

unnamed

J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature – wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.

Author Links: | Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook |