#CaseClosed: #November2017 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles

Happy last day of November everyone!  Is it just me or has November felt like it has lasted a lot longer than 30 days?!  Maybe it’s because it has suddenly become a lot colder, maybe it’s because I’ve been suffering the loss of my reading mojo this month.

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Who knows.  I will be glad to wave goodbye to the month and welcome December with open arms and chocolatey fingers (yay for Advent calendars, double yay for my first proper Advent calendar in years – my thanks to Dead Good for sending this beautiful thing⬆!).  Please forgive my atrocious photography skills.  You’re looking at the reason I chose to read as my hobby, I don’t think I would have cut it as a photographer!

So back to #CaseClosed and my bloggish goings-on.  November has in one way been a very quiet month for me.  In another way, it’s been wonderfully busy.  I haven’t read very much at all this month and what I have read (bar blog tours), I’ve so far failed to write a review for (boo!).  In other news, my new #R3COMM3ND3D2017 feature has taken off with a rather large, ground shaking bang which I am thrilled about.  I’ll give you a short rundown of the posts so far in a wee while.

I took part in six blog tours during November:

Five were review posts:

Killing State by Judith O’Reilly | The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne | Hell To Pay by Rachel Amphlett | CWA Anthology of Short Stories edited by Martin Edwards | Mother by S.E. Lynes |

And one stop was an extract:

We Have Lost the Chihuahuas by Paul Mathews

With regard to reviews that’s it, I’m afraid.  I think you will all agree, a pretty poor month for me.  The good news (for you, if you like reviews that is) is that I still have three books waiting in the wings which need to be reviewed on damppebbles.  Ragdoll by Daniel Cole, All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker and the absolutely incredible The Wrong Child by Barry Gornell.  Look out for reviews coming your way soon.

So despite not reading very much during November, the blog hasn’t been quiet.  My #R3COMM3ND3D2017 has kept me (and hopefully you) busy.  #R3COMM3ND3D2017 is where I invite book bloggers and authors to share three MUST READ books.  The only stipulation being that they must have been published in 2017.  I am thrilled to have had such an incredible response to this feature and I thank each and every participant, sharer, liker and retweeter for their support.  Thank you!  If you missed any of the posts you can catch up here:

Noelle Holten of CrimeBookJunkie
Nicola Smith of Short Books and Scribe
Joanne Nicholson, author of Positive
Jacob Collins of Hooked From Page One
Katherine Sunderland of BibliomanicUK
Phil Rowlands, author of Siena
Lorraine Rugman of The Book Review Cafe
Amy Sullivan of NovelGossip
Naomi MacKinnon of Consumed By Ink
Jeff Dowson, author of the Jack Shepherd Thrillers
Carmen Radtke writing as Caron Albright, author of A Matter of Love & Death

So far there have been no duplicates so if you’re looking for a book recommendation please do check out the above links as there are 33 brilliant book choices for you to pick from.

One last thing on the #R3COMM3ND3D2017 front; I plan to close the form this coming Sunday evening (3rd December GMT).  If you would like to take part (and I would LOVE for you to take part) then please make sure you have submitted your choices before then.  I am so pleased with how it’s gone this year I will be dragging it, kicking and screaming, back to damppebbles next year.  The form is already up and raring to go for next year, just click HERE to find it.

Changing the subject totally, I am over the moon to confirm that I have managed to steer clear of the dreaded #TwitterJail this month.  I have unfortunately reduced the number of posts I share to Twitter which is keeping the Twitter folk happy but making me a little sad.  Oh well, change sometimes takes time 😢.

And that’s pretty much it for November!  Apart, of course, from my book of the month…

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I’m in a bit of a quandary at this point as I haven’t actually written my review for the most amazing book I’ve read during November – I only finished it today (it’s currently 8pm on 29th November, by the way).  It doesn’t seem right to post it without a review being published so I will pick the best book I’ve read and reviewed (which was also a brilliant read).  My book of the month is….

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Taddah!  CWA Anthology of Short Stories edited by Martin Edwards and published by the incredible Orenda Books!

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If you follow damppebbles regularly then you will know that I am a MAHOOSIVE crime fan.  Crime fiction is what I do.  I don’t tend to read anything outside of the crime genre.  I’m also a massive fan of international crime and that makes this book a perfect read for me.  The contributing authors were given the theme ‘Mystery Tour’ and the result is an engrossing mix of crime at home and away.  I loved it and gave the book an easy five stars!

“If I listed every story I enjoyed then I would be basically giving you the contents page! I love international crime so this was pretty much the perfect read for me.  Chock-full of GREAT stories, written by some remarkably talented people and the perfect Christmas gift for the crime fiction fan in your life.  This is a must-read book.  Don’t miss out!”

And that’s it for this month.  I have no blog tours scheduled for December and a mere two (they are stupendously exciting tours) booked in for January.  I think I’m managing this blog tour and new book ban rather well, even if I do say so myself!  You do have a whole month (bar Christmas Eve, Christmas day and Boxing day) of #R3COMM3ND3D2017 to look forward to though.  Plus my end of year post where I will tell you about my ten favourite books of the year (yes, it may look like thirty books but it’s actually ten.  Honest.  Your eyes may deceive you….it’s TEN!).

So if we don’t speak between now and then have a wonderful Festive season, full of good books and, well, more good books!  Maybe a mince pie or something as well (?).  Tarrah for now.

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#CaseClosed: #October2017 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles

Hello and a warm, squishy welcome to my October #CaseClosed post where I look back on the month just gone and wonder why I didn’t read more books!  I know, I’m letting the side down.  Who needs sleep anyway….? Heh heh!

October was a rather exciting month for me.  Y’all be sick to the back teeth of this soon (maybe you are already!) but I decided to have a bit of a new books and blog tour ban to enable me to make a more substantial dent in the terrifying TBR.  To keep my FOMO at bay I have a list of 20 authors whose books and tours I am allowed to partake in.  So, how did I do in my first month?

In October I was part of FOUR blog tours (compared to my twelve tours in September I think I’ve done alright!):

All four were review posts:

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite | Fox Hunter by Zoe Sharp | Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister | Murder Game by Caroline Mitchell |

But the blog wasn’t empty, oh no!  I featured these publication day reviews (or as near as dammit to publication day!):

The Visitors by Catherine Burns | Sleep No More by P.D. James | The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell | Two Dark Tales: Jack Squat and The Niche by Charles Lambert |

And I also got to read these beauties, all of which have been sitting on my terrifying TBR for some time encouraging me to cheat on my scheduled reads with their come-hither looks:

The Corruption of Chastity by Frank Westworth | Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart | Final Girls by Riley Sager | The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis | The Dry by Jane Harper | Follow You by Richard Parker |

And last but by no means least, I shared a cover reveal post for the latest book in the Kay Hunter series titled Hell To Pay.  Isn’t it a stunner? Keep an eye out for my stop on the tour in mid-November.  Really looking forward to reading this one!

Hell to Pay Cover MEDIUM WEB

All in all, I have rather enjoyed my first month of being able to choose what I read and when I read it.  I think it’s given me a much-needed boost to my confidence and has reminded me exactly why I love (LOVE!) reading so much.

Saying that there has been one rather negative knock to the damppebbles armour which has caused me a lot of upset.  Two words; Twitter Jail!  Ugh.  Twitter jail, for those that haven’t heard of such a thing before, is more commonly known as Shadow Banning or Ghost Banning.  During the month of October, I have been in Twitter Jail at least once a week and nearly every weekend.  I laughed it off to start with but it got to the point where it became no longer funny.  I could tweet to the masses but I couldn’t speak to an individual or a group of people.  As soon as I added someone’s Twitter tag to my tweet I was silenced.  After a little bit of detective work, I discovered that I share, on average, 102 tweets containing a URL to Twitter on a daily basis, 102 TWEETS!  I thought I could beat the system.  I can’t.  I thought I could find a clever way to get around the problem.  I couldn’t.  So I have come to realise that I can’t share posts like I have been doing which is quite upsetting for me.  I’ve been told to share no more than 20 posts a day.  But how do I go from 102 to 20…..?!  All ideas welcome, I’m reaching out to you dear damppebbles visitor so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.  At the moment I am considering a spreadsheet which randomly generates 20 blogs a day.  I may be thinking about this waaaaaaaaaay too much……!

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If you’re a regular visitor to the blog or you follow me on Twitter I don’t think my Book Of The Month is going to come as a massive surprise.  I have found a book which may well become my book of the year and it rightly deserves a place on my favourite books EVER list.  That book is…..

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Taddah!

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There we go, no big surprise really.  I fell head over heels in love with this gorgeously creepy mix of crime and horror.  It was absolutely everything I’ve ever wanted in a book and felt almost like it was written especially for me.  I adore it and if you haven’t read Final Girls yet then you MUST!

“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.”

So there we have it, my bookish October in a mere 900 words (or so!).  I may be a little quiet as we start November; I have a number of blog tour reads all bunched together halfway through the month so will be concentrating on getting them all read and reviewed in time.  After that, and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, I have NO blog tours scheduled – no tours in December, no tours in the New Year.  I know it won’t stay that way (especially as Steph Broadribb and Orenda Books are releasing the new Lori Anderson book in the coming months and that’s one book/tour I ain’t missing!) but it’s quite an exhilarating feeling.

Have a warm and cosy November filled with the very best books.  Tarrah for now!

 

 

#CaseClosed: #September2017 #BookOfTheMonth #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles

Hello my bookish beauties.  You may be asking yourself exactly what you have stumbled upon, what the heck is #CaseClosed…?  Well, let me tell you.  Back at the start of the year I had this terrific idea where I would summarise the goings on of damppebbles in a monthly post.  It was a great idea, so great I only managed to post three times before collapsing in a bedraggled book strewn heap!  Okay, so I suffered a little blogger burn-out earlier this year but that was then and this is now…

My big news is that I have decided to drastically reduce the number of blog tours and new books I accept for review.  It’s not a total ban as my FOMO would end up kicking my butt.  It’s more of a (severe) cut-back on what I currently do.  I have found that I am only reading for blog tours at the moment and I have lost all choice.  My next read is already planned for me according to what is next in my diary.  Isn’t one of the many joys of reading finishing one book and deciding which to pick up next?  I think so, and I really miss having that choice.  I absolutely love blog tours and that’s 90% of the problem; I hate to say no to publishers and blog tour organisers, but that’s where my list of 20 authors comes in.  I have a list of 20 authors whose work I cannot live without.  If one of the authors on the list publishes a new book then I can purchase a copy.  If I am lucky enough to be asked to join their tour, then I can say yes without fretting.  It will also keep the dastardly FOMO at bay (I hope).

Oh yeah, and I’m aiming to do this for one whole year – until 1st October 2018.  You may think I’m crazy (you could be proven right) but this feels the only way to make sure I get some of the older books on my TBR read.  After all, some very lovely patient authors have been waiting a year and a half for a review from me….EEK!

Anyway, what’s been happening in September you may ask.  Quite a lot, actually.  I think I’ve been accepting more tours knowing that from 1st October I won’t be to do as many.  Desperately squeezing in as many as possible before my October deadline!

In September I took part in 12 blog tours:

Ten review posts:

Hide and Seek by Richard Parker | Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech | The House by Simon Lelic | A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward | Lost in the Lake by A.J. Waines | The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith | Race to the Kill by Helen Cadbury | House of Spines by Michael J. Malone | Hope to Die by David Jackson | The Surrogate by Louise Jensen |

Two content posts:

Scorn by Paul Hoffman (extract) | Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (giveaway) |

Two cover reveals:

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite | Shadows by Jackie McLean |

I’m over the moon that I managed to squeeze in two publication day (or near as dammit!) reviews:

The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan | The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans |

And I also reblogged two of my older reviews in celebration of First Monday Crime returning on Monday 2nd October (click either of these links to reserve your FREE place):

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards | Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear |

Now I know I’m not the most frenetic of bloggers but I’m really impressed with how much I’ve managed to squeeze in this month.  I still have a few reviews to type up so look out for reviews of Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart, Sleep No More by P.D. James and The Visitors by Catherine Burns coming your way soon!

It’s all very exciting, it’s now time for my book of the month.  I’ve seen many of my fellow bloggers select a book of the month and I ALWAYS look forward to seeing what they have chosen.  Which made me think, why don’t I include a Book of the Month post in #CaseClosed.  I’d be silly not to!

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There have been several standout books this month and some of you may have an inkling about what I’m going to choose.  There were two sublime reads which were fighting for the top spot.  However, my book of the month for September is….

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a patient fury

My other choice (which shall remain a secret 😉) will have lots of other bloggers voting it their book of the month which is why I wanted to support Sarah Ward’s wonderful DC Connie Childs series.  If you haven’t had the chance to meet DC Childs and DI Sadler then you MUST!

“Honestly, my favourite crime series out there at the moment and I urge you to get yourself a copy of A Patient Fury.  You won’t regret it.  Sheer brilliance.”

HERE is a link to Sarah Ward’s amazon.co.uk author page should you wish to purchase a copy or three (you won’t regret).

So that’s it for another month. I’m looking forward to those Autumnal evenings, cosied up at home with a great book and a glass of wine (obviously, I meant tea there, not wine 😶).  I have a couple of blog tours coming up in October (only a few, mind).  Otherwise, I hope to dazzle you all with considered and thoughtful reviews of some cracking crime thrillers.

Come back and visit damppebbles.com soon!

#CaseClosed: March 2017 #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles

We may be one fifth of the way through April already but that’s not going to stop me from posting my monthly summary post, oh no!  Rules. Ha! They’re made to be broken, right?  That or I’m just a disaster at the moment and can’t get myself organised enough to publish my #CaseClosed posts on the first of the month.  I should probably add it to my extensive list of goals I shared with you last month…now there’s a thought!

Happy April everyone!  I’m delighted to report that the weather here in the UK has become more ‘Spring-like’ and I have finally managed to defrost after a long, cold Winter.  My kids have finished for the Easter break (I know, how early?!!) which means the amount of reading and blogging I’ll be doing over the next week and a half will be significantly reduced, boo!  But I get to spend time with the children, yay!

During March I managed to read the grand total of 11 books!  For those that have a vague memory of the ‘goals’ I set myself last month…goal one – tick.  I also managed to read Dark Houses by Helen H Durrant which is the book I’ve had on my NetGalley shelf the longest (goal two – tick) as well as one of the books my husband gave me as part of my Christmas present, The Poison Artist by Jonathan Moore (goal three – tick).  As for goal four….well, let’s not even go though (hehehehe).

So, what happened on the blog last month?  I was absolutely thrilled to welcome some incredibly talented guest reviewers to damppebbles.  I featured reviews of Nowhere Girl by Ruth Dugdall and Watch Her Disappear by Eva Dolan from the lovely Tracie Delaney at Passionate About BooksMadam Tulip by David Ahern from Nicki over at Nicki’s Book BlogSplintered by Kelly Miller from the gorgeous Dee over at Novel DeelightsThe One by John Marrs which could end up being Sam over at Clues and Reviews top read of the year! And The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti from Helen Claire over at baattyaboutbooks.  Thank you to all my guest reviewers for volunteering to help reduce the #terrifyingTBR.  I am eternally grateful.

I took part in 10 blog tours during March:

Of these six were reviews:

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski | The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman | The Place That Never Existed by Jim Ody | Mystery at Maplemead Castle by Kitty French | The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney | After She’s Gone by Maggie James |

And four were either guest posts or extracts:

Dead Embers by Matt Brolly | The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury | Deadly Game by Matt Johnson | Boundary by Andree A. Michaud |

I also hosted a series spotlight for the lovely Sheryl Browne and her new crime thriller series featuring DI Matthew Adams.

And on top of all of that, I actually managed to read and review some non-blog tour books…WOAH!

You can find links to my review of Dark Houses and The Poison Artist above.  Here are my thoughts on Little Bones by Sam Blake and Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett.

In other news I made my 200th post to the blog.  I’m sure many of my fellow bloggers achieved this a very long time ago but as a slow reader I was rather proud.

I plan to set myself the same goals this month as last so keep an eye out for a review of The Rule of Fear by Luke Delaney as that’s the oldest resident on the NetGalley shelf at the moment.  I haven’t decided which of my Christmas present books I’ll read but I can share my April book with you:

51UlDLJK0OL._SY346_.jpg“This was meant to be the perfect trip. The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship.

A chance for travel journalist Lo Blacklock to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse.

Except things don’t go as planned.

Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.

Exhausted and emotional, Lo has to face the fact that she may have made a mistake – either that, or she is now trapped on a boat with a murderer…”

I’ve been hankering after this book for some time so it was good that I never mentioned it to the hubby (otherwise he wouldn’t have bought it for me, ha!).  Have you read it?  What did you think?

On a slightly more grumpy note, I have decided to reduce the number of blog tours I feature on.  I think I’m starting to suffer from the dreaded blogger burnout as I’ve found it hard going writing reviews and sharing the book love of late.  Hopefully this is just a temporary thing but I think I need to take a break (particularly from social media for a while). I know I’m not the only one who feels like this as several of my blogger friends have said they feel exactly the same.  I will try to do as much as I’ve always done, but you may notice a dip in the number of posts I share.  I’m sorry.  I really do want to spread the #booklove and support my fabulous fellow bloggers but I’m running out of time each day and the kids sulk when I make any kind of move towards my phone.  Grump over, normal(ish) service to resume (kind of!).

Well, that’s it my lovelies for another #CaseClosed.  Have a fabulous April, one and all.

 

#CaseClosed: February 2017 #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger #damppebbles

Flipping heck, did anyone see where February went?  I know it’s a short month but that was taking the mickey a little!  Happy March everyone.  I’m already feeling the pressure with my monthly Case Closed posts. Started hyperventilating when I realised that I won’t have space in the damppebbles schedule until the 4th March (surely that’s too late for a summary post, isn’t it?).

I had hoped to find time to write this post yesterday and I was going to say how Spring is very obviously on it’s way here in the UK as the sun was shining and there was a feeling of change in the air.  But I ran out of time, so here I sit today staring out at the dull, grey cloud-filled sky waiting for the next downpour to hit and hoping it won’t be at school pickup time!  Oh, and I have the heating on again today as it’s freezing.  Good ol’ blighty, eh?

So what happened at damppebbles HQ in February?  Well, not a lot if I’m honest.  I read the grant total of SIX books (yes, you read that correctly…six books).  Now, I’m not a fast reader but even for me that’s appalling!  My reading mojo may be making a quick break for the door which is a bit of a shame seeing as I have a diary full of blog tours this month.

Last month I took part in 10 fantastic blog tours:

Of these five were reviews:
A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward | No Safe Home by Tara Lyons | City of Good Death by Chris Lloyd | Blink by K.L. Slater | Cursed by Thomas Enger |

And five were guest posts, extracts etc.:
Death Games by Chris Simms (extract) | The Watcher by Netta Newbound (guest post) | Sealskin by Su Bristow (guest post) | Dare to Remember by Susanna Beard (guest post) | The Follower by Koethi Zan (character spotlight) |

I also (amazingly, when you note how few books I read last month) managed to squeeze in a couple of non-blog tour reviews too!   Here they are:

 

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson | Kill The Next One by Federico Axat | The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel | The Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici |

There was one more book which I haven’t mentioned above as I didn’t feel I could review it positively and therefore didn’t want to include in on the blog (it’s also to blame for my not reading very much this month as it took me two weeks from start to finish!).  I have reviewed it on Goodreads though.

And of course, how could I forget the post that gave my husband a big head.  My the gift that keeps on giving post where you lovely lot said lovely things about my lovely husband and his cracking taste in books.  This is his choice for March:

The Investigation by [Lee, Jung-myung]

Fukuoka Prison, 1944. Beyond the prison walls the war rages; inside a man is found brutally murdered.

Yuichi Watanabe, a young guard with a passion for reading, is ordered to investigate. The victim, Sugiyama – also a guard – was feared and despised throughout the prison and inquiries have barely begun when a powerful inmate confesses. But Watanabe is unconvinced; and as he interrogates both the suspect and Yun Dong-ju, a talented Korean poet, he begins to realise that the fearsome guard was not all he appeared to be . . .

As Watanabe unravels Sugiyama’s final months, he begins to discover what is really going on inside this dark and violent institution, which few inmates survive: a man who will stop at nothing to dig his way to freedom; a governor whose greed knows no limits; a little girl whose kite finds her an unlikely friend. And Yun Dong-ju – the poet whose works hold such beauty they can break the hardest of hearts.

As the war moves towards its devastating close and bombs rain down upon the prison, Watanabe realises that he must find a way to protect Yun Dong-ju, no matter what it takes. This decision will lead the young guard back to the investigation – where he will discover a devastating truth . . .

At once a captivating mystery and an epic lament for lost freedom and humanity in the darkest of times, The Investigation – inspired by a true story – is a sweeping, gripping tale perfect for fans of The Shadow of the Wind.

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Has anyone read it?  He’s running out of choice with regards to Japanese crime fiction (I’m sure there are thousands but they’ve not been translated!) so he’s moved onto Korean crime fiction.

Speaking of which (in a roundabout way), I’m currently looking for guest reviewers and bloggers to help reduce my #terrifyingTBR. If you or someone you know would be interested in reading one of my books and then writing a cracking review, then please be in touch (Facebook, Twitter or email).

To encourage me to read the books at the bottom of the #terrifyingTBR I’ve decided to set myself a number of monthly goals.  Goal no.1: The first one is to read at least nine books a month, otherwise all other goals fail before I’ve even started.  Goal no. 2: Each month I will read the one book which has been on my NetGalley shelf the longest (or the two books if I don’t have many blog tours (ha!)).  Goal no. 3: I will endeavour to read at least one of the books my husband has given me over the last year and a bit.  Goal no. 4: There was a goal no. 4 but I’ve deleted it and banished it from my mind (it was ‘no more books’, if you’re wondering!!).

So there we have it.  Goodbye February 2017, it was brief…and a bit cold.  Hello March, please be warmer and bring me lots of time to read (and some cracking books too…yah boo sucks to you, Goal no. 4!).

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 very gorgeous 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!)

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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.

SHE’S WAITING
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).

Case Closed: January 2017 #amreading #amreviewing #bookblogger

It’s a new year, yay!  And with a new year comes the C word (…change of course…!).  I’ve given the blog a mini makeover, I’ve celebrated my first year as a blogger and removed the ‘newbie’ tag that has protected me somewhat for the past 12 months and, wait for it…I’ve decided to introduce a monthly summary post!  Those of you that have been around for a little while now (thanks for sticking with me guys) may have a vague, foggy memory of a damppebbles summary post before.  It lasted the grand total of one month.  I hope to improve upon that this time and maybe stretch it to two, possibly three months…ha!

Anyhoo, this is a monthly recap post and not an attempt to become Mystic Emma.  We’ll see how it goes (just don’t hold your breath!).

It’s been a little quiet on the blog this month but that’s because I have been frantically reading for some cracking blog tours, scheduled for January and February.  My month (my year!) started with probably one of my proudest moments as a blogger; having a stop on a Simon Kernick blog tour, cue the fangirl moment!  I’ve taken part in a number of absolutely brilliant blog tours during January and count myself as one very lucky little blogger:

Of these, six were reviews (here are the links):
The Bone Field by Simon Kernick | Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent | The River at Night by Erica Ferencik | Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb | Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie | The Good Enough Mother by Anoushka Beazley

And four were guest posts or extracts:
Rupture by Ragnar Jonasson | Games People Play by Owen Mullen | The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell | Uncoiled Lies by Liz Mistry |

I also had my first blogiversary post which had such a phenomenal response. A staggering number of views and so many best wishes which I am eternally grateful for, thank you! Congratulations to my giveaway winner…Hemmie Martin (sorry for the delay in getting your prizes to you Hemmie, they will be with you soon).

And so I begin my second year of book blogging, hooray!

I have a couple of (rather late) new years blog resolutions which I would like to share with you so that I may try that little bit harder to stick to them.  For my Christmas present in 2015, and 2016, my husband very kindly offered to buy me a book a month.  There are rules though.  Rule number one is that I must not have mentioned or asked for the book he buys (impossible!).  Rule two is that he chooses the book, I have absolutely no say whatsoever (eek!) and rule three is that I must read the book (well, duh).  Well, duh indeed as I have completely failed to read the majority of books he purchased for me last year.  So my first resolution of the year is to make sure I read the books he buys.  My second resolution is to read more of the books I WANT to read, rather than the books I feel I have to read.  Simple, huh?  We’ll see.

And finally, I would like to remind all published crime writers that I am more than happy to host guest posts on the blog (I do love a guest post!).  I’m not a fast reader so there are spaces on the blog which need to be filled.  Why not fill them with your wonderful, inspiring, interesting words.

Thanks for January 2017 lovely booky people.  Let’s make February even better 😉