#CaseClosed: #January2018 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles

Hello, my bookish friends. I can’t quite believe today is the last day of January. Normally January is a long, tortuous, grey month but I have to say, it’s been kind of OK for me and the blog this year! I hope you’ve had a good January featuring lots of fabulous books. I’m always looking for recommendations so if you’ve read something rather extraordinary then please let me know in the comments section below.

So, what treats did January hold for damppebbles? #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reached its conclusion and the series ended with a bang on my blogiversary with one of my favourite bloggers, Gordon Mcghie of Grab This Book. If you missed any of the posts then you can catch them all on the R3COMM3ND3D tab at the top of this page. There you will also find the form for #R3COMM3ND3D2018, so once you’ve found three must-read titles published this year, pop back and fill in the form (😉).

My thanks to these fabulous book bloggers and authors for taking part in #R3COMM3ND3D2017 this month:

Joy Kluver of Joy Kluver | Karla Forbes, author of the Nick Sullivan series | Gemma Wiles of Gem’s Quiet Corner | Sarah Swan of Sarah’s Vignettes | Emma Poulloura of Star Crossed Reviews | Karen of Go Buy The Book | Claire Ayres of BrizzleLass Books | Becca Burnton of If Only I Could Read Faster | Rachel Emms of Chillers Killers and Thrillers | Rebecca Foster of Bookish Beck | Ayo Onatade of Shotsmag Confidential | Claire Knight, reviewer at CrimeBookJunkie | Jonathan Mark, author of The Last Messenger | Gordon Mcghie of Grab This Book |

On 14th January I had my second blogiversary and offered up probably the biggest prize you will ever see on damppebbles (until next year when I try and come up with something even BIGGER!). The lucky winner was Sonya Alford who blogs over at A Lover of Books. If you haven’t discovered Sonya’s wonderful blog yet then you must do. Although, she may not be posting for a while after receiving this HUGE book haul (plus an eBook which you can’t see, plus another five paperback books to be sent separately!).

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My thanks to Orenda Books, Fahrenheit Press, Jackie Baldwin, Anne Coates, Abigail Osborne and A.C. Hutchinson for their very kind and generous offerings to the prize bundle. You guys made my blogiversary extra special ❤.

I’ve partaken in a few blog tours this month (despite my promise to cut right back!)

All of which were reviews and all were pretty spectacular reading (three x five-star reviews and two x four-star):

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski | Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker | The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer | Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb | This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan |

I also managed a few other bookish posts here and there:

R3COMM3ND3D2017: The After Show Party | Review of If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch | My Final Girls by Riley Sager review was reposted to celebrate the books paperback publication | Review of The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor | Review of The Feed by Nick Clark Windo |

I don’t feel as though I have read enough this month so I’m aiming to really increase the amount of time I spend reading in February. I have lowered my Goodreads challenge target from the usual 100 to 75 this year to take some of the pressure off but I feel as though I’ve already fallen behind. Not good! Any words of advice would be greatly appreciated.

I think that’s it! Not a lot going on but what has been happening has been all good stuff. Which means it’s time for my book of the month…

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So far this month I have rated FIVE books as FIVE sparkling star reads. A month of excellent reading, I’m sure you will agree! Most months consist of a couple of five-star reviews here and there, which normally make my choice of Book of The Month rather easy. But not this month. So many stand out reads. But I have made a choice and my book of the month is…..

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Here it is…The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor!

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This is another crime/horror crossover which ticked all the boxes for me. I still can’t get over the fact this is the author’s debut and it was plucked from the slush pile! Never lose hope budding authors, NEVER lose hope! I just loved this book from start to finish and I’m currently pining for the lead character, Ed.

“Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It’s so deliciously gripping, chock full of suspense, engrossingly creepy and had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Although I managed to put this book down and walk away from it I really didn’t want to. When I was doing ‘life stuff’ I was thinking about the story, thinking about Eddie and his friends. Trying to see where the story would lead me. I failed, by the way. There was no way I saw THAT coming. WOW! Absolutely brilliant, highly recommended, lots of fun and wonderfully addictive.”

As months go, January 2018 has been an exceptional month for me as I have loved every single book I have read. I hope this continues into February which I’m sure will start with a bang as I am currently reading the third Jake Boulder novel from Graham Smith and Bloodhound Books and absolutely blinking loving it! My blog tour post is scheduled for 3rd February so don’t miss it!

So long January 2018, thank you for being a little bit nicer than other Januarys. I hope, dear followers, that your Februarys are full to the brim of fabulous books.

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#BookReview: The Feed by Nick Clark Windo (@nickhdclark) @headlinepg #NeedTheFeed #TheFeed

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“Tom and Kate’s daughter turns six tomorrow, and they have to tell her about sleep.
If you sleep unwatched, you could be Taken. If you are Taken, then watching won’t save you.
Nothing saves you.

Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams.
If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?

For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore.

The threat is closer than they realise…”

Not my usual fare, I know, but when I read the blurb of The Feed and when I witnessed the fantastic PR stunt the folks at Headline pulled the day they revealed this book on Twitter, I knew I HAD to read it. (And if you’re wondering what the stunt was, the Headline twitter ‘feed’ went down. Their profile picture was a solid black square, their twitter header was the same. Something had gone ‘seriously wrong’ and it was fascinating to see how people reacted. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea and whoever was manning the Headline timeline that day. It was pitched perfectly and worked a treat!)

The Feed is a dystopian thriller with a hefty dose of sci-fi added to the mix. Like I said, not my usual fare but I think it’s good to step out of your comfort zone every now and then, especially for a genre reader like myself. I tend to enjoy dystopian thrillers, there’s often a very strong crime component in many dystopian tales which will always appeal to me. However, the sci-fi element did make me a little nervous.  I am not a sci-fi reader, I have very little experience of reading sci-fi (does Douglas Adams count?) and I felt a little out of my depth. But I was so keen to read The Feed that I put these feelings to one side. And I fell head over heels in love with the start of this book. I was smitten. I loved learning what The Feed meant to the characters encapsulated in this strange online world, in particular to Tom and Kate our lead characters. I loved the idea of the Feed and I was well and truly gripped. So gripped I couldn’t stop telling my husband about the Feed, reading sections out to him while he politely smiled and nodded.

When the Feed went down I was on the edge of my seat, lost in this new savage world and I didn’t want to put the novel down. What the characters lost was heartbreaking, so clearly a destructive addiction ready to tear it’s users apart. Powerful, thought-provoking and very intense writing from this talented debut author.

The writing throughout the book is superb. The author has a talent for creating a scene in his reader’s minds, so sharp and so crisp. The issues raised in the book gave me a lot to think about. I want to talk to other readers about this book and that’s always a good sign, right? (In fact, I would love to know. If you have read The Feed, would you want to be enabled or would you be a Resister? Let me know in the comments.)

I will say one thing. I loved, loved, loved the start of this book. The middle section and the end were well written but I found myself losing interest a little. I loved the author’s ability to transport you to a world where you wouldn’t necessarily want to live or stay for any amount of time. But I was just a smidge disappointed with the middle section and the conclusion. I keep asking myself whether this book just wasn’t for me but then I remind myself how much I enjoyed the start, so that can’t be the case.

Having sat here staring at the screen for a few minutes I think I’ve worked it out. The Feed ‘COULD’ happen. It’s something that ‘may’ be in our future. We’re already all glued to our phones and tablets 24/7 so would it be such a great leap to move to something like the Feed? Maybe not. The later sections of the book I think I found harder to believe and that may be where my problem lies. Regular readers of the blog will know that I like my crime reads to be real (for example, I struggle with certain supernatural elements) and that may be the issue for me here. I didn’t believe enough and that could be why my attention waned. Going back to my earlier question and flipping it a little, maybe I’m not the right type of reader for this book…?

Would I recommend this book? This is a well written, interesting novel which raises a lot of pertinent questions. I would recommend it, yes. And I would pick up a second novel by author Nick Clark Windo in a heartbeat. I strangely love the idea of the Feed in a fictional sense. I’m not so sure about in an actual, physical sense though. What do you think? This book really got me thinking and I liked that!

Four out of five stars.

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

The Feed by Nick Clark Windo was published in the UK by Headline Books on 25th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow later this year) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | (please note, the above Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links)

about the author3

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Nick Clark Windo studied English Literature at Cambridge and acting at RADA, and he now works as a film producer and screenwriter. Inspired by his realisation that people are becoming increasingly disconnected from one another, and questions about identity and memory, The Feed is his debut novel. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor (@cjtudor) @MichaelJBooks #TheChalkMan @1stMondayCrime

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“You can feel it in the woods, in the school and in the playground; you can feel it in the houses and at the fairground. You can feel it in most places in the small town of Anderbury . . . the fear that something or someone is watching you.

It began back in 1986, at the fair, on the day of the accident. That was when twelve-year-old Eddie met Mr Halloran – the Chalk Man.

He gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages for his friends and it was fun, until the chalk men led them to a body.

Thirty years later, Ed believes the past is far behind him, until an envelope slips through the letterbox. It contains a stick of chalk, and a drawing of a figure.

Is history going to repeat itself?

Was it ever really over?

Will this game only end in the same way?”

What a treat! What a prologue! What a flipping brilliant story! If you haven’t quite guessed yet then yes, I am a huge fan of The Chalk Man and something quite incredible will have to make itself known to me for it NOT to make it onto my ‘books of 2018’ list. The bar has been well and truly raised and this little beauty is currently sitting pretty at the top of the book pile. Quite extraordinary and totally mesmerising!

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I love crime fiction with a passion (unhealthy? *shrugs* 😉😜). But I get particularly excited when I find a crime novel with a hint of a horror crossover included, which this is. My book of 2017 was Final Girls because it had a horror movie feel to it, crime with a large dash of spinetingling, nerve-jangling horror.  The Chalk Man has some fantastic horror-esque elements to it but it is to all intents and purposes a crime thriller novel.  I particularly enjoyed the scenes at the fairground which I found shocking and unsettling.  And oh boy, that prologue!  However, I know that many readers switch off when the word ‘horror’ is mentioned.  I’m telling you now, don’t.  Just don’t do it!  Try it, what is there to lose?  Start with The Chalk Man and I bet you fall a little bit in love with the creepiness, with the unease and bucketfuls of suspense Tudor has so expertly crafted.  Go on, I dare you…

The story runs a dual timeline; partly set in 1986 and partly set thirty years later in 2016.  In both the past and the present the reader is introduced to Eddie Adams (or Ed as he becomes known, later in life).  Eddie is a normal kid, messing around with his mates and dreading the end of the school holidays.  His little gang of friends made me quite nostalgic for my bygone childhood days in the late 80s (more early 90s really!).  Except me and my friends didn’t have ‘cool’ nicknames like Hoppo, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Eddie Munster and, erm…Nicky!

I loved the adventure these kids went on.  I mentioned earlier how much I loved the scenes at the fair.  The fair plays a pivotal role in the story as this is where Eddie meets Mr Halloran for the first time.  Mr Halloran is nicknamed ‘The Chalk Man’ by the kids he teaches at the school.  He’s also the reason that Eddie and his little gang start leaving chalk man drawings as secret code for each other.  So when the harmless, benign drawings lead Eddie and his friends to a dead body, there is only one person in the frame for murder.

From the day of the accident, strange things start happening in the small town of Anderbury.  Tudor has masterfully built the tension so you never know what to expect but you’re on the edge of your seat from start to finish.  And this is Tudor’s debut novel!  I can’t wait to see what else the author has in store for us.  Her debut is sublime!

I fell head over heels in love with middle-aged, stuck in his ways, teacher Ed.  Something about this character drew me to him.  I was completely hooked by his story and that of his friends, past and present.  I want to say so much more about this incredible book but I’m on the brink of giving too much away so all I will say is that you need to get yourself a copy of The Chalk Man as it is magnificent and just the sort of book I want to read again and again and again.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.  It’s so deliciously gripping, chock full of suspense, engrossingly creepy and had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  Although I managed to put this book down and walk away from it I really didn’t want to.  When I was doing ‘life stuff’ I was thinking about the story, thinking about Eddie and his friends.  Trying to see where the story would lead me.  I failed, by the way.  There was no way I saw THAT coming. WOW!  Absolutely brilliant, highly recommended, lots of fun and wonderfully addictive.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Tha Chalk Man.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

C.J. Tudor will be appearing at the first First Monday Crime event of the year on Monday 5th February 2018.  C.J. will be appearing alongside Tammy Cohen, Chris Carter, Craig Robertson and moderator Joe Haddow of BBC Radio 2’s Book Club.  The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 7pm on Monday 5th February in the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre, Tait Building, City University London.  Click HERE for more information, directions to the venue and to book your place!

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Penguin Random House – Michael Joseph Books on 11th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please be aware, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | WaterstonesGoodreads |

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cj tudor.pngC. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.

Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, waitress, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and now author. The Chalk Man is her first novel.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: Final Girls by Riley Sager (@riley_sager) @EburyPublishing #MyBookof2017 #PaperbackPublicationDay #FinalGirls

final girls“FIRST THERE WERE THREE

The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma.

THEN THERE WERE TWO

But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced o her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or…

CAN THERE ONLY EVER BE ONE?

All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

An unbelievably gripping psychological thriller full of twists you’ll NEVER see coming. Fans of In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, The Girl Before by JP Delaney and Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear will love Final Girls.”

Eeeeekkk!  I am one happy little book blogger as my absolute FAVOURITE book of 2017 (and a new resident on my ‘favourite books of all time’ list) is published in fabulous paperback today!  The mighty FINAL GIRLS by Riley Sager is now available in paperback and I cannot wait to see a copy on the shelves.  There will be shrieking and there will most certainly be purchasing.  I have an eBook copy but oh my gosh, I would KILL for a physical copy on my bookshelves!

Anyway, enough of my fangirling (for a moment!).  To celebrate the paperback publication of this awesome book (it’s awesome, buy a copy!).  I want to republish my review from last year.  Oh.my.gosh. I just LOVE this book!

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I am feeling quite giddy today.  Giddy because it’s been a long time since a book has resonated with me quite like the mighty Final Girls did.  Having recently turned the last page I feel drained, I feel bereft, I feel strangely empowered, I want to shout from the rooftops exactly how much I enjoyed reading this incredible piece of fiction.  I think it’s fair to say I LOVED Final Girls by Riley Sager!

From the moment I saw that cover, read the blurb and read a couple of early reviews I knew this was going to be a new favourite read.  In a very egotistical way, it feels as though it was written just for me.  I say that because it’s everything I WANT in a book.  You know that age-old advice to wannabe authors?  They say write the book YOU would want to read?  Well, I’m afraid that won’t be happening for me because this is the book I want to read and it’s been written!  I actually feel envious of those that haven’t  read Final Girls yet – I would give almost anything to be able to read this book for the first time again!

Quincy Carpenter is a Final Girl.  Not by choice, no one chooses to be a Final Girl.  There are two other women who lay claim to the title, thanks to two separate massacres several years apart.  Quincy is the newest addition to the exclusive little group and the most reluctant to adopt the title.  She would rather forget everything that happened to her and her friends that fateful night in the woods.  She barely remembers what happened anyway thanks to selective memory loss, and that’s just fine by her!  When the original Final Girl, Lisa Milner, turns up dead in an apparent suicide bid, Quincy is stunned.  She cannot understand why Lisa would take her own life after everything she survived at her sorority house in Indiana.  She’s even more shocked when elusive, mysterious Samantha Boyd – the only other remaining Final Girl shows up at her apartment.  Having hidden from her family and, well, life for years now Quincy cannot understand why Samantha all of a sudden wants to get to know her.  Has Lisa’s suicide brought the two survivors together? Or is it something else completely….?

Where to start..?!  I’m normally a fan of the characters in a book but this time it was more about the situation, for me.  Ninety percent of the time I really liked Quincy, but she also irritated me with her refusal to accept or even acknowledge her past.  For this reason I despised her attorney boyfriend, Jefferson, and Quincy’s negligent mother for encouraging her to look to the future, not the past and suggesting she try her best to be ‘normal’.  Samantha was mysterious from the moment she arrived in the story and I couldn’t for the life of me work out what she was up to.

I absolutely loved the flashback sections where the reader is transported to that night in the woods ten years ago.  There is the most wonderful horror movie vibe about the events of that night which made me feel nervous and apprehensive, despite having a fair idea of what was going to happen.  The pressure mounts as Quincy begins to slowly recall her memories, filling in some pretty frightening gaps and realising what secrets she has kept since that blood filled night.  It’s fantastically written and so very well done.  I loved it!

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  It’s a new favourite and one I will be driving everyone around me crazy with!  I’m so excited that this book exists – it’s perfect and I want everyone to read it so you can all see how awesome it is as well.  Brilliantly addictive, deliciously dark and everything I want in a book! Superb.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read an eARC of Final Girls.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Final Girls by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Ebury Press on 25th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.comWaterstones | Goodreads | (Please note, the above Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links).

about the author3

riley sager.jpgRiley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Riley’s first novel, FINAL GIRLS (called “The first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King), was published in 2017 in the United States, the United Kingdom and more than twenty countries around the world.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan (@eva_dolan) @BloomsburyRaven @BloomsburyBooks #ThisIsHowItEnds

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“There’s plenty of intrigue, sex, and drugs in this fast-paced mystery, set against a backdrop of gentrifying London.

Ella Riordan is a community activist who became famous when she was beaten by police during a social protest. Now Ella is a squatter in a building where the owners are evicting tenants so they can convert it into luxury condos, and she’s determined to stay and defend the few holdout tenants, despite death threats.

One night after a rooftop party with her fellow holdouts, Ella finds a horrible scene awaiting her in her apartment. In a panic, she calls her neighbor Molly, who convinces her that the police won’t believe she’s innocent. Together the two women concoct a gruesome plan to hide the body down the building’s elevator shaft.

But the secret won’t stay buried for long. As truth hangs in the balance, a neighbor tells Molly he had heard Ella arguing with a man in the hallway and mistrust grows between Ella and Molly, as repercussions of that night threaten to change both women’s lives forever.”

It is my pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the This Is How It Ends blog tour. This Is How It Ends is a standalone thriller written by established crime fiction author, Eva Dolan. I have to hang my head in shame and admit I am yet to read any of Dolan’s DI Zigic & DS Ferreira series but I have only ever heard positive things. And I was thrilled to host a guest review of Watch Her Disappear, the fourth book in the Zigic & Ferreira series last year (my thanks to Tracie Delaney for reading and reviewing).

This Is How It Ends is such a clever, well-constructed piece of fiction. I found myself completely absorbed in Ella and Molly’s dilemma. For me, my reading experience tends to be 80 to 90 percent about the people involved. The characters are what appeal to me and oh boy, Eva Dolan sure shows the rest of the literary world how to write real, believable people! Bit by bit, as the story progressed, Molly broke my heart. I felt an odd connection to this 60-year-old woman, a former Greenham Common activist, now a photographer, with her lashings of kohl and her Sex Pistols t-shirts. She’s probably about as far away from me as a person can get. But I got her. And I loved her.

Ella didn’t have the same beguiling effect on me. I felt throughout the book that the reader wasn’t being given enough information about Ella to make a decision. She was aloof, elusive and darn right mysterious. Not helped by the fact that the reader sees very little of the present day Ella in the story. Chapters alternate between Molly and Ella. Molly’s chapters are set in the present, after the discovery of a dead body and after our fearless females have flung him down the lift shaft. Ella’s chapters move backwards through time, showing the reader what happened in the lead up to the party. How Ella and Molly reached this significant point in their lives.

The story is strong, captivating and unexpected. I absolutely loved the setting, the dilapidated high rise block of flats due for demolition so something bigger, shinier and with lots more glass can be put in its place. Dolan paints a very vivid picture of the desolate, decaying surroundings Molly and the dwindling number of other residents find themselves in. The desire to stay and slow the progress of gentrification down, the need to remain in a home they’ve occupied since it was first built or the knowledge they have nowhere else to go, I found very moving. The rats, however, would have put me off years ago!

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s going to be huge. There is something about This Is How It Ends, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, which will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers.  I’ll give it a go though! It’s clever, the relationship between Molly and Ella is something quite spectacular and I loved how the story is pretty much all about the women with the few men playing a less significant role.  A great book and definitely recommended.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of This Is How It Ends. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan was published in the UK by Raven Books on 25th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow later this year) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

eva dolan

Eva Dolan was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger for unpublished authors when only a teenager. The four novels in her Zigic and Ferreira series have been published to widespread critical acclaim: Tell No Tales and After You Die were shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year Award and After You Die was also longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. She lives in Cambridge.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BookReview | #Giveaway: If I Die Before I Wake by @EmilyKoch | @HarvillSecker @vintagebooks

if I die before i wake.jpg“HOW DO YOU SOLVE YOUR OWN MURDER?

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger. 

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.

A stunning edge-of-your-seat debut novel with an unforgettable narrator.”

I finished reading If I Die Before I Wake a few days ago and I’m still bereft, still heartbroken.  This haunting debut thriller will stay with me for some time, but do you know what? I nearly gave up on it! I’m not really one for discarding books part way through.  Actually, I can probably count the number of books I have ‘DNF’d’ on one hand.

Regular readers of the blog will know that I am a) a crime fiction fan, b) I like character driven fiction and c) I like excitement and action, thrills and spills.  When I started reading If I Die Before I Wake I suddenly started to question how the author was going to keep the story going for 320 pages.  Alex, our main character, is in a coma and has been for a significant amount of time (18 months-ish).  He has spells of being alert, able to see a little, able to smell, able to hear, able to taste the rubber of a gloved hand sponging out his mouth and able to feel.  But he can’t move, can’t communicate.  I didn’t instantly warm to Alex, or his girlfriend, Bea.  As you would expect, the first few chapters of this book paint Alex’s rather dire situation for the reader.  Alex is in a coma.  His girlfriend visits, his family visits, his best mate visits.  I was questioning whether it was worth continuing with Alex’s tale.  He’d been in a coma for so long I couldn’t see him waking up anytime soon.  What was going to happen?  WELL!  Let me tell you something.  I persevered and oh my gosh, I am so glad I did.

You see, I fell a little bit in love with Alex.  Koch has created some astonishingly good characters in If I Die Before I Wake.  I’m not an emotional reader normally. I want blood, guts and gore, shedloads of action and a killer hook (not much to ask for, is it?).  Since I started damppebbles I have cried twice whilst reading.  It was twice, make that three times now.  And I’m not ashamed to admit it was ugly crying.  Snotty, sobby, traumatised, hiccuppy, heartbroken crying.  Wow!  Just WOW!!  And to think I nearly put this book down.  By the time I turned the last page there was so much I loved about this novel.  It wasn’t just Alex I had fallen in love with.  His poor dad made my heart melt, and despite being a bit of a nightmare, I also warmed to his sister, Philippa.

I’m excited to see what author Emily Koch gives us readers next.  If this is the quality of her writing then us bookish types are in for a real treat!

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely! Yes, it’s a thrilling read which is incredibly clever as the main character never leaves his hospital bed (!) but it’s also a highly emotional tale which broke my heart.  The author has excelled at making her reader feel the frustration Alex suffers on a daily basis.  Absolutely flipping brilliant and a contender for my ‘books of 2018’ list!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of If I Die Before I Wake.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

I was very lucky to receive two copies of If I Die Before I Wake from the publisher.  Rather than have the spare sat on my bookshelf unread and unloved let’s have a giveaway!  To be in with a chance to win one hardback copy of If I Die Before I Wake all you have to do is retweet the pinned tweet on my twitter profile and tag a friend you think would like to read this book.  Retweet and tag, it’s that easy.  UK/IRE only I’m afraid as it’s a hardback copy and will cost too much to send overseas.  Giveaway closes on Saturday 20th January 2018 at midday (GMT).  The winner will need to provide me with their address and there is no cash or eBook alternative.  Good luck!

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch was published in the UK by Harvill Secker on 11th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (the following Amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.comWaterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

Emily Koch - pic by Barbara Evripidou

I am an author and journalist living in Bristol, UK, and am represented by Peter Straus at Rogers, Coleridge and White. My debut novel If I Die Before I Wake is out now, published by Harvill Secker, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Working with writer Alison Powell I am also a founding member of WriteClub – which runs regular creative writing events in Bristol. Check us out – whether you’re a published author or the last thing you wrote was a shopping list.

Email me at mail@emilykoch.co.uk with any queries.

You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

Author image and bio © https://emilykoch.co.uk/

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb (@crimethrillgirl) @OrendaBooks

DEEP BUE TROUBLE final cover.jpg“Single-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT – Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything – alive and kicking.

Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher, and JT walks free.

Following Fletcher from Florida to California, Lori teams up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up, Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything…

Breathlessly paced, and bursting with high-voltage action and edge-of-your-seat jeopardy, Deep Blue Trouble is the unmissable next instalment featuring one of the most memorable and fearless female characters in crime fiction.”

It is my GREAT pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the Deep Blue Trouble blog tour which I share with the fabulous Helen Giles over at Life of a Nerdish Mum.  Please make sure you drop by Helen’s fabulous blog and say ‘hello’ after you’re done here.

Deep Blue Trouble is the second book in the Lori Anderson series written by one of my favourite authors, Steph Broadribb.  The first book in the series, Deep Down Dead made a BIG impression on me last year and you can read my review by clicking HERE.  Deep Down Dead also featured highly on my top ten books of 2017 post.  It’s true, I flipping love Lori Anderson.  This is one of those reviews where you hope everything you say does the book justice.  Fingers crossed…

Of all the books to be published in 2018, Deep Blue Trouble was the one I was really excited about.  Deep Down Dead (Lori Anderson book #1) left such a lasting impression on me that I could not wait to be reacquainted with Lori, her daughter Dakota and her brooding, ‘slightly’ gorgeous mentor/lover, JT.  For those new to this series, Lori Anderson is a kick-ass bounty hunter based in Florida.  She’s tough, she had to be.  Life has thrown a lot of sh!t Lori’s way (excuse the expletive but there’s no other way of putting it!).  Her young daughter is in remission, but there’s always a chance the cancer could return. And, to top off her run of bad luck, JT has been arrested following their last action-packed adventure together.  Lori is under an extreme amount of pressure and boy, does she know it!  When FBI agent Alex Monroe offers Lori a way to free JT from prison (and certain death, one way or another) she begrudgingly takes it.  Having put her daughter in imminent danger previously, Lori leaves Dakota at camp and heads to California in search of Gibson ‘The Fish’ Fletcher.  What she doesn’t expect is a myriad of dead ends, confusing leads and false sightings in ‘bounty hunter hostile’ Mexico.  Can Lori discover where Fletcher is hiding, what he is hiding and with the help of whom before it’s too late…?

Fabulous!  As crime fiction goes this is another wonderfully engaging, thrilling, action-packed read from the pen of Steph Broadribb.  I was hooked from page one and unable to put this book down.  I love everything about Lori, she’s kick-ass through and through. She has a relatable, softer side when it comes to all matters concerning her young daughter, and she carries a flipping TASER!  What more could you want?  What I thoroughly enjoyed this time around was the chemistry and the friction brought about by the inclusion of Californian bounty hunter, Dex McGregor.  Lori has to work with Dex on the instruction of Alex Monroe.  But Dex works very differently to Lori – Dex is a team player but Lori is her own, one woman team.  The tension was palpable, the suspicion high.  Brilliantly constructed by Broadribb.

One of my very favourite things about this series is how deliciously American the narrative is.  I am such a big fan of American crime fiction but Broadribb manages to make me believe more than many other home-grown American writers (Broadribb is British by the way, but has worked in the US).

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  And whilst you’re there make sure you pick up a copy of Deep Down Dead too.  Deep Blue Trouble will work as a standalone but why not read the first book in the series whilst you’re at it.  I promise you won’t regret it.  I said this time last year that, “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!)”.  Well, the same applies this year.  As things stand at present, Deep Blue Trouble is the book every other book has to beat to be my ‘book of 2018’.  As crime writers go, you can’t get better than Steph Broadribb.  Perfect!

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Deep Blue Trouble.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 5th January 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (the following Amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Steph Broadribb.jpegSteph 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.

Author Links: Crime Thriller Girl | Facebook | Twitter |

damppebbles.com turns TWO! #blogiversary 🎉🎂 #giveaway #damppebbles #bookblogger #amreading

Today is a very special day for me (eek!).  I stopped being excited about my own birthday years ago.  Apparently, that’s what happens when you get OLD so be warned you youngsters!  (As a side note, I have a BIG birthday coming up this year so if you can’t find me in August, then you now know why!).  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t get excited about my little piece of the internet having a birthday, oh no!  Two years ago today I stepped, with trepidation, into the world of book blogging.

What I didn’t realise at the time was how one little hobby was going to completely change my life.  I didn’t realise how much I could fall in love with book blogging and how my love for books and reading would continue to grow and grow.  But most of all and the one thing I really didn’t expect was that I would make real, lifelong friends.  If you’re considering starting your own book blog and you feel you have the time (oh.my.gosh. I promise it will take more time then you’re expecting) then I, as a stroppy, cantankerous, self-centred two-year-old, urge you to do it.  I’ve not regretted starting damppebbles.com for one moment in its two-year existence.

I’ll stop blathering on now.  Two thousand and seventeen was a great year for damppebbles.  More and more people managed to get the name of the blog right (damppebbles, not Damp Pebbles nor DampPebbles).  In fairness people also managed to get it very wrong but hey, there was an improvement which is the important thing.

I won an award!  An actual, real-life award at the Bloggers Bash 2017 where I was named Services to Bloggers winner for 2017.  Thank you so much to everyone who nominated me and then voted for me.  I got this very lovely badge for the blog and this totally gorgeous cup for the coffee:

 

I went to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate which has been a dream for several years now.  It was an incredible experience and one I hope to repeat in the future.  I don’t think I shared any photos with you after the event so here are a few now (some familiar faces):

And I have to share my Harrogate book haul with you because it was a little on the epic side:

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I’ve been quoted in a few books here and there, including on the back cover of AJ Waines’ Lost in the Lake (here’s a picture of the book in real life to prove it):

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All in all, it’s been a pretty wonderful year for damppebbles culminating in something which began as a small idea and grew into something quite huge; R3COMM3ND3D2017.  I published my final post first thing this morning, followed by the after-show party post which you can read by clicking here.

| GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED |

Anyway, I’m sure someone at some point mentioned a giveaway.  And what a giveaway I have for you, you lucky things!  I have a mega book bundle which one lucky UK winner will receive to say thanks for following damppebbles.  If I could send you all books I would but let’s face facts, that would probably bankrupt me and I have a young family to support!  So without further ado, here is what’s on offer…

Paperbacks which will be sent from damppebbles HQ…

Dancers in the Wind by Anne Coates (Hannah Weybridge #1) SIGNED!
Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin (DI Frank Farrell #1) SIGNED!
Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb (Lori Anderson #2)
CWA Anthology of Short Stories edited by Martin Edwards HARDBACK!
House of Spines by Michael J. Malone
The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne
Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski
Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughn
Hydra by Matt Wesolowski (Six Stories #2)
Beneath the Skin by Caroline England

The copies of Dancers in the Wind and Dead Man’s Prayer have been signed by the authors (thank you Anne and Jackie)!

An eBook copy of The Ghost and the Railway by A.C. Hutchinson which will need to be downloaded by the winner via SmashWords:

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And coming directly from Fahrenheit Press are these beauties:

Plus the obligatory stationery and chocolate:

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It’s my giveaway and I’m still completely bowled over by what’s on offer here.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank some incredible people for their very kind and generous donations to this prize package; Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books, Jackie Baldwin, Anne Coates, Abigail Osborne, A.C. Hutchinson and Fahrenheit Press.  Thank you all so much for supporting my little blog.

To win this uber book bundle all you have to do is be following damppebbles.com – either via email or the WordPress reader.  Click on the Rafflecopter link below and follow the instructions!  One UK winner will be selected at random as the winner.  There is no cash alternative.  The winner will need to provide their address and I expect the package will be sent via courier rather than through the post.  I will also need to pass the winners address to Fahrenheit Press so they can send a second package containing the Derek Farrell books and the Jacqueline Chadwick books.  All entries will be checked to make sure they are accurate.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Any questions then please do give me a shout!

Thank you so much to all of my gorgeous fellow book bloggers, the incredibly talented authors, the brilliant publishers and the dedicated book addicts who follow damppebbles.  If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have lasted the two years I have!  You have made every moment brilliant.  When I first started the blog I didn’t expect anyone to follow me and now, here I am with nearly 7,000 twitter followers, just over 700 blog followers, nearly 750 Facebook followers.  It’s a dream come true and I am thankful every single day.  Thank you!  I can’t wait to see what the bookish world has in store for us in 2018!

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#R3COMM3ND3D2017: The After-Show Party #BookBlogger #Author #Publishedin2017 #MustReadBooks #damppebbles

So, that’s it for 2017.  Earlier today I published my very last #R3COMM3ND3D2017 post of the 2017 series (my thanks to the fabulous Gordon Mcghie of Grab This Book for rounding the series off so beautifully).

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 has become such a big part of my life over the last few months (since 16th November when the lovely Noelle Holten of CrimeBookJunkie kicked proceedings off in style with her recommendations).  Since then, I have published 52 #R3COMM3ND3D2017 posts, highlighting a total of 132 individual booksONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-TWO BOOKS…WOW!

I guess the question is, do we have a winner?  A book which was recommended more than any other?  We do!  Actually, we have two winners, both with four votes each.  They are….

Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys & Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I must also mention the brilliant second place runners-up, both of which had three votes each…

All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker & The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen

And here are the rest of the glorious books recommended by the most fabulous authors and dedicated book bloggers as part of #R3COMM3ND3D2017 over the last couple of months…

Wowee, there you go.  Aren’t they gorgeous?!  If you took part in #R3COMM3ND3D2017 and the book you chose isn’t pictured above then please let me know as I was going a little cross-eyed getting them all together (and I do want the above montage to include every book – call me silly, hahaha).

So that’s it, then.  Well, that’s it until November 1st when we start all over again but with this year’s books.  I, for one, cannot wait.  Will there be a runaway leader?  Will it be a plethora of completely different books?  I’m excited, I hope you are too.

If you would like to take part in #R3COMM3ND3D2018 then the form is ready and waiting for your book recommendations.  Although it may be a smidge too early to pick your three now (fourteen days into January….).  Bookmark THIS page and make sure you pop back when you have your three.

My thanks to each and every one of you who took part this time around.  You turned a small idea into something huge and I’m so grateful for your input.  Thank you for making #R3COMM3ND3D2017 something special.  I hope you’ll all join me again later this year for #R3COMM3ND3D2018.  Until then, have a glass of bubbly on me 🍾.

 

 

 

 

 

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Gordon Mcghie (@grabthisbook) #GrabThisBook

It is my great pleasure to welcome one of my very favourite book bloggers to damppebbles today, the super lovely Gordon Mcghie of Grab This Book.  I am particularly thrilled to have Gordon join me as it’s the last #R3COMM3ND3D2017 of the 2017 series and we’re going out with a bang.  Gordon is the person I blame the most for my book buying habit, so if you’re looking to restock your TBR then make a point of following his blog!  You won’t regret it.

Plus, it may be ‘someone’s’ blogiversary today and they’re entering the troublesome twos (expect much foot stamping in the supermarket and the occasional tantrum because the food on my plate all touches! Hahaha).

Anyway, back to #R3COMM3ND3D2017.  #R3COMM3ND3D2017 is where I invite authors and book bloggers to shout about three books they love.  Any three books, providing they were published in 2017.  As I said, this is the last of the 2017 series but #R3COMM3ND3D will return on 1st November 2018 featuring all of the bookish delights we have experienced during this year.  If you would like to take part then make sure you bookmark THIS page and pop back when you’ve found your three books.  Let’s face it, 14th January may be a smidge too early to fill the form in!

Here are Gordon’s choices….

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In The Still by Jacqueline Chadwick (Ali Dalglish Book #1)
Take a feisty Scottish lead character.
Drop her into a remote Canadian town where she is bound to offend the locals with her “forthright” approach to life.
Then pit her against a sadistic killer.
A dark, clever thriller which I could not put down.

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The Lost Village by Neil Spring
I love a good ghost story and Neil Spring writes a damned fine creepy tale.  You may have caught The Ghost Hunters on ITV last year? The Lost Village takes the same lead characters and has them investigating strange occurrences in an abandoned village on Salisbury Plain. Chilling storytelling.

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Tag You’re Dead by Douglas Skelton
Dominic Queste is a smart mouthed investigator who never knows when to keep his mouth shut. Unfortunately his quips and puns will not be enough to keep him out of trouble. Queste is being stalked by a sadistic killer who wants to torment Dom before bumping him off…it is a shame Dom is too busy looking for a butcher to worry about a stalker.

***

Brilliant recommendations, thank you Gordon!  I’ve downloaded ‘The Lost Village’ thanks to your recommendation.  I do love a ghost story.  I already have a Jacqueline Chadwick and a Douglas Skelton on the TBR so I’m even more excited about reading those now.

If Gordon has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books he recommends then please see the following amazon.co.uk links:

In The Still by Jacqueline Chadwick | The Lost Village by Neil Spring | Tag – You’re Dead by Douglas Skelton |

About Gordon:
I am Gordon and I have been running my blog:  Grab This Book since 2014.

In June 2017 I won a UK Blog Award when Grab This Book topped the “Hidden Gem” category – this may be why you have not heard of me!

Gordon’s Blog and Social Media Links:

Grab This Book | Twitter |

Thank you so much for joining me today, Gordon.  My thanks to all of the book bloggers, authors, reviewers and everyone else who has played a part in the success of this series.  It was a tiny idea which has grown into something quite magnificent.  I have LOVED every minute and I cannot wait until we’re on the #R3COMM3ND3D2018 road.  Roll on November 1st 😄.