#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Noelle Holten (@nholten40) #CrimeBookJunkie

It is my GREAT pleasure to welcome you to my brand new feature which I plan to run for the rest of the year (or longer if I have enough authors and bloggers wanting to take part!).

What is #R3COMM3ND3D2017?  I don’t know about you but I love those end of the year posts where the booky community list their top ten or top twenty books (I think I had a ‘top twenty-seven books’ last year!).  That’s where #R3COMM3ND3D2017 comes from.  Three books they believe other readers MUST check out.  I don’t want to take away from anyone’s top list of the year – that’s really not the point – but I’m looking for authors and bloggers to recommend three books published in 2017.  Not necessarily their top three, just three standout reads.  And they don’t have to be crime reads either despite damppebbles being a crime book blog.

And to kick the series off I have someone special.  I would go as far as saying she is a crime book blogging superstar and as a blogger, I have followed and respected her opinion for a LONG time.  It is my pleasure to welcome Noelle Holten of CrimeBookJunkie to damppebbles today with her three recommended reads published in 2017:

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The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith (Jake Boulder series #2)
I LOVE a good action/crime thriller and this book/series ticks every box. Fast-paced storyline, #killerhook to grab the reader by the throat and of course…Jake Boulder *swoon*. Need I say more? Read my full review here: https://crimebookjunkie.co.uk/2017/09/the-kindred-killers-blog-tour-review-nholten40-grahamsmith1972-bloodhoundbook-boulderunleashed/

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Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers #5)
I absolutely cannot resist a strong, kickass female lead and Alexandra Sokoloff never fails to disappoint. This whole series touches upon topics that other people shun away from – but not Alexandra! Cara and Roarke are fantastic characters and although they are on opposite sides of the law, you cannot help but root for both of them. Read my full review here: https://crimebookjunkie.co.uk/2017/10/hunger-moon-review/

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Fox Hunter by Zoe Sharp (Charlie Fox series #12)
I had heard about the Charlie Fox series and had a few on my kindle before reading Fox Hunter this year – OMFG- WHY DID I WAIT! Again, another strong, intelligent kickass female lead along with being an action/crime thriller – #BOOM! The storyline was brilliant and kept me turning the pages. I definitely recommend this series! Read my full review here: https://crimebookjunkie.co.uk/2017/10/fox-hunter-blogtour-zoe-sharp/

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Thank you, Noelle.  Brilliant recommendations as expected; two of which I have read and one (the Alexandra Sokoloff series, I am DESPERATE to read).  Personally, I can’t recommend the Jake Boulder series by Graham Smith highly enough.

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

The Kindred Killers by Graham Smith | Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff | Fox Hunter by Zoe Sharp |

About Noelle:
My name is Noelle and I am in my 40’s. I am an avid reader and by that I mean I am never without a book! I am now an ex-Senior Probation Officer having recently left following 17+ years to try something new and exciting.  By night I read all things crime!! My fascination for books started at a young age and I truly feel withdrawal symptoms if I am unable to read for a few days hence the name #crimebookjunkie! I am interested in many genres, my faves being Grit Lit, psychological thrillers and all things murder. I do enjoy Police Procedurals and legal/action thrillers as well. I tend to keep away from Chick Lit and Erotica…however, if forced at gun point I may give just about anything a read. I tend to review on Goodreads, Amazon UK and .com, Netgalley, sometimes BookBridgr and share reviews on Twitter/My CBJ facebook page, Facebook via Crime Fiction Addict, Crime Book Club, Book Connectors and other various book clubs I am a member of. I have been fortunate enough to be put on a few Publishers reviewing lists.

Oh..and I am obsessed with my chocolate Lab Buster and gorgeous Tabby cat Pebbles, who sadly passed away in Oct 2015 (RIP Pebs x). I previously had the pleasure of guest reviewing on the former site http://www.bestcrimebooks.co.uk now known as BCBandMore as the lovely Kat had kindly taken me under her wing whilst my site was under construction. I miss reviewing for her…but thrilled she gave me that nudge!

Noelle’s Blog and Social Media Links:
CrimeBookJunkie | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram |

What an awesome start to my new feature!  I am so excited and I can’t wait to see what other authors and bloggers have chosen as their recommended reads.

If you’re an author, blogger or work in publishing then please complete the following form to be a part of #R3COMM3ND3D2017

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: Hope to Die by David Jackson (@Author_Dave) @BonnierZaffre

hope to die.jpg“On a bitterly cold winter’s night, Liverpool is left stunned by a brutal murder in the grounds of the city’s Anglican Cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage.

Put on the case, DS Nathan Cody is quickly stumped. Wherever he digs, the victim seems to be almost angelic – no-one has a bad word to say, let alone a motive for such a violent murder.

And Cody has other things on his mind too. The ghosts of his past are coming ever closer, and – still bearing the physical and mental scars – it’s all he can do to hold onto his sanity.

And then the killer strikes again . . .”

I am thrilled to be today’s stop on the Hope to Die blog tour.  Hope to Die is the second book in the DS Nathan Cody series and one of my most eagerly anticipated reads of the year.  I read the first in the series, A Tapping at My Door last year when it was first released and WOW, I absolutely loved it.  Click here to read my five-star review.  So much so it made it to my books of 2016 list.  I had incredibly high hopes for this second instalment.

And having read (read = devoured) Hope to Die I can confirm that I am not the slightest bit disappointed; this book was well and truly worth the wait!  Dare I even go as far as to say that I preferred it ever so slightly to the first book?  Hmmm……

DS Nathan Cody is one damaged copper.  Having been involved in an undercover mission which went dreadfully wrong several years ago, Cody has yet to shake the guilt and the terrors viciously pummelled into him that night.  A word to the wise, if you feel any sort of unease when it comes to evil clowns then this may not be the book for you.  I am terrified of the blighters but found some strange, perverse enjoyment in reading about Cody’s association with the malicious monsters.  Who knows, you may feel the same way I do!

The incredibly intense first chapter drew me immediately into the book and I consumed the whole thing, from start to finish, in less than 24 hours (which for me is really very quick).  That old cliche, I couldn’t put it down…?  Well, I couldn’t. Nor did I want to.  It was a delight to be back in the Major Incident Team alongside Cody, the formidable DCI Stella Blunt, the kind-hearted yet newly bolshy DC Webley. What an awesome team and yes, I may be a little bit in love with them all.

Called to the scene of a vicious murder in the grounds of a cathedral, the team are left stumped.  Their victim is a single middle aged woman, a teacher of religious studies at the local girls’ school with no skeletons in her closet, no one close enough to bear a grudge. They are left floundering.  Then a second body turns up, this one not so innocent but associated with the Catholic cathedral.  Could the link between these two victims be their beliefs?  Will Cody and the team discover who their twisted killer is before a third victim meets their maker…?

I absolutely loved it.  One of my favourite reads of the year.  It may be that the murders have a religious connotation, which has always appealed to me.  It may be the subtle humour Jackson writes into his character’s narrative or it may just be that it’s an absolutely stonking crime thriller series that I insist you check out.  As I approached the end of the book I had a fair idea of ‘whodunit’ but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment at all.  (I was right by the way.)

Would I recommend this book?  You have to ask?  Absolutely.  This one is definitely on the list of my top reads for 2017.  Cody and Megan have the most wonderful chemistry and I have high hopes for their future (I can hope, anyway!).  A stellar piece of crime fiction which I want all fans of the genre to read and enjoy.  It works perfectly well as a standalone but why bother when you can read the stunning A Tapping at My Door as well.  Brilliant work, well done Mr Jackson.

Five out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Hope to Die.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Imogen at Bonnier Zaffre for asking me to be a part of the blog tour.

Hope to Die by David Jackson was published in the UK by Zaffre on 21st September 2017 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

 

David Jackson is the author of a series of crime thrillers featuring New York Detective Callum Doyle. His debut novel, Pariah, was Highly Commended in the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Awards. When not writing fiction, David spends his time as a lecturer in a university science department. He also gives occasional workshops on creative writing. He lives on the Wirral peninsula with his wife and two daughters.

 

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: If I Die Tonight by A.L. Gaylin (@alisongaylin) @arrowpublishing

If I Die Tonight“There was a time when Jackie Reed knew her sons better than anyone. She used to be able to tell what they were thinking, feeling, if they were lying… 

But it’s as though every day, every minute even, she knows them a little less. Her boys aren’t boys anymore, they’re becoming men – men she’s not sure she recognises, men she’s not sure she can trust.

So when one of her son’s classmates is killed in suspicious circumstances, people start asking questions. 

Was it really a hit and run? A car-jacking gone wrong? Or something much more sinister? 

Now Jackie must separate the truth from the lies.

How did that boy end up on the road? 

And where was her son that night?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today as it’s my turn to host a stop on the If I Die Tonight blog tour.  If I Die Tonight is the latest release from A.L. Gaylin and is published TODAY!  Happy book birthday to both the author and the lovely folk at Arrow Publishing.  I read and reviewed Gaylin’s What Remains of Me last year and was pretty smitten with it (and by the book’s lead, Kelly Lund).  So when I heard A.L. Gaylin was about to release a suspenseful psychological thriller…well, I had to take a look!

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I am a big fan of crime thrillers set in small town America.  If I Die Tonight is set in Havenkill, a small Hudson Valley town where little happens and that’s exactly how the residents like it.  Except tragedy is heading to Havenkill in the form of a hit and run accident.  When Liam Miller is tragically mown down one wet October night following a carjacking, all eyes fall on Jackie Reed’s eldest son, Wade.  Wade is different to his classmates.  He’s artistic, secretive and a bit of a loner with no friends to fight his corner.  His younger brother, Connor is on his side though and will do anything Wade asks of him.  Even dispose of a tied carrier bag in a dumpster at the local Lukoil.  The same bag Wade had hidden in Connor’s closet the night of Liam’s accident.  Jackie soon begins to realise that she doesn’t know her children anymore.  That they have their own lives, their own secrets.  It’s down to Jackie to clear Wade’s name before he’s arrested and made into the local pariah.

One of the things you can always guarantee with an A.L. Gaylin novel is GREAT characters. Some readers are all about the plot, others the setting.  Personally, I’m all about the characters (and the plot and the setting!).  Jackie Reed was someone I could immediately understand and relate to a little.  She’s a working single mother, with little support from her ex-husband.  What I liked most about Jackie though was her heart. There are times throughout the book when the reader is made to question Wade’s innocence. Jackie has a small wobble here and there but she’s pretty steadfast in her belief that her son is innocent.  I loved that.  I could feel her love and belief emanating from the page.  There are a whole host of other brilliant characters in this story too (however, Jackie will remain my favourite!).  I also really liked Jackie’s youngest son, Connor.  Connor’s life changes when his friends suddenly start treating him differently.  I can imagine how much this would hurt as an adult so I was interested to see where Gaylin would take the emotions of a young teen.  He’s an admirable young man and I really liked him.

I was pleasantly surprised by one of the twists.  I had convinced myself that I knew where the story was going but I was actually quite far off of the mark.  The amount of suspicion in the pages of If I Die Tonight was really rather thrilling.  I mentioned before how much I love books set in small town America and that’s because I love the claustrophobia and how the characters suddenly become suspicious of friends and family, always looking over their shoulders.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  I thoroughly enjoy Gaylin’s writing style, her characters are well written and more believable than most and it’s a GREAT plot, chock full of suspense.  After reading two of this author’s books she is now firmly on my list of authors to keep an eye out for.  Highly recommended.

Four and a half out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of If I Die Tonight.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Jasmine at Arrow Publishing for asking me to be part of the blog tour and for my ARC.

If I Die Tonight by A.L. Gaylin was published in the UK by Arrow Publishing, Penguin Random House on 24th August 2017 and is available in eBook format with the paperback available in December 2017 and the hardcover to follow next year | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author3

AL Gaylin.jpgAlison Gaylin’s first job was as a reporter for a celebrity tabloid, which sparked a lifelong interest in writing about people committing despicable acts. More than a decade later, she wrote and published her Edgar-nominated first novel, HIDE YOUR EYES.

She’s since published eight more books, including the USA Today and international bestselling Brenna Spector suspense series, which has been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony and Thriller awards and won the Shamus award.

She lives in upstate New York with her husband, daughter, cat and dog.

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dead to Me by Stephen Edger (@StephenEdger) @bookouture

Dead-To-Me-Kindle.jpg“How do you catch a killer who knows your every move?

The woman lay flat on the table, her face to one side, her wrists bound with thick tape. Deep scratches marked the wood beneath her fingers, now resting cold and still…

When a woman’s body is found in an abandoned bar near the Southampton docks, Detective Kate Matthews is called in to lead the investigation. She must solve this case to prove she is coping with the death of a close colleague. 

Kate knows a pile of ripped up newspaper cuttings discovered at the victim’s house must be a piece of the puzzle, but her team keep hitting dead-ends… Until she finds a disturbing clue that convinces her of three things: The murder is linked to the body of a man found hanging in a warehouse, she is on the hunt for a calculated serial killer, and the killer is watching her every move.

Kate realises there will be another victim soon, and that her own life is in grave danger, but no one else believes her theory. Can she find and stop the most twisted killer of her career, before another life is lost?

An absolutely NAIL-BITING thriller that will keep you guessing to the very last page. Perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, James Patterson and MJ Arlidge.

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Dead to Me blog tour today, which I share with the very lovely Rachel over at Rae Reads.  Dead to Me is written by established author Stephen Edger, is the first book in the new DI Kate Matthews series and was published by Bookouture on 17th August 2017.

I was very keen to read Dead to Me, Stephen Edger’s first release under the Bookouture banner. In all honesty, I’ve been wanting to read Edger’s books for a while now as a highly thought of blogger friend of mine is a rather large fan of his books.  And seeing as I only get to read blog tour books at the moment, this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

We meet DI Kate Matthews who is soon to be divorced (once she signs the papers!), mother to one and recently transferred from the Met to Southampton due to a previous case gone wrong.  So wrong it ended in the death of a young DC colleague.   The kind of wrong that you find it impossible to walk away from.  Kate is a mess; she’s not making her name in Southampton, colleagues have already turned against her and she’s a disastrous mother. All in all, I couldn’t find a lot to like about her.  I like my detectives to be a little, shall we say ‘damaged’ by the job.  I like them to have flaws but oh my, Kate is something else altogether.  I felt there was room for improvement though, that she could grow on me as the story progressed…but then her ex-husband was called away and Kate’s daughter, Chloe was left in her ‘care’.  Chloe is six years old and was the standout character in the book for me.  It may be because I also have a six-year-old but Kate’s decision to leave her child with her ex-husband hit a bit of a raw nerve with me.  Instead of growing to like her, I went the opposite way and my dislike grew dramatically.  However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I did enjoy this book.  Just because you don’t warm to, or like a lead character, that doesn’t mean you will end up hating the book.  This is certainly the case for me, anyway.

The plot was pacy and I appreciated the very different way the author had of killing off one of his victims.  There is also another gory death towards the start which appealed to my darker side.  I really enjoyed Kate’s perseverance, her desire to figure out if and how three very different cases fitted together.  I also really liked her DC, Laura Trotter who felt very real and relatable.  Other members of the team were a little too distant from the main storyline for me to be able to make a judgment.  Although I will say, at one point, I suspected two totally innocent key characters as the murderer.  I was very, very wrong.

This is a good book and I really enjoyed Edger’s story (if not so much his lead protagonist).  However, what I found very hard to digest was the ending of this book and the big reveal.  I really can’t say much as I don’t want to spoil it for future readers.  So I will say that yes, the big reveal came like a bolt out of the blue but it was a little…unbelievable.  It had me sat there for a few minutes, shaking my head and muttering ‘what…?!’ under my breath.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, yes.  I would, without a doubt, read another book written by Stephen Edger.  It’s a great story and others may be able to warm to Kate in a way I wasn’t able to.  And of course, I may be being overly critical of that ending.  After all, it is fiction and if you can’t do the odd out of left field twist, then when can you?

Three and a half stars out of five.

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

Dead to Me by Stephen Edger was published in the UK by Bookouture on 17th August 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Stephen Edger Author Pic.jpgStephen Edger is a British crime writer, who has been writing since 2010. In that time he has written and published eleven novels, and five short stories. He writes mysteries and thrillers focused on crime.

Stephen was born in the north-east of England, grew up in London, but has lived in Southampton since attending university in the year 2000. Stephen works in the financial industry, and uses his insider knowledge to create the plots of his books. He also has a law degree, which gives him a good understanding of the inner workings of the UK justice system.

Stephen is married, has two children, and two dogs. He is passionate about reading and writing, and cites Simon Kernick and John Grisham as major influences on his writing style.

Author Links: Facebook | Twitter | Website |

Top bloggers choose a #crime summer read: Emma at damppebbles.com via @northernlass73

I am thrilled to be taking part in Christine’s ‘bloggers choose a Summer crime read’ feature today.

Want to know what summer read I recommend? Hint: it involves a kick ass protagonist and a trek across America!

My thanks to Christine for asking me to take part in her brilliant new feature. If you haven’t already discovered the fabulous http://www.northerncrime.wordpress.com then here’s your chance. You won’t regret it 😍😍.

Just click the link below 👇.

Source: Top bloggers choose a #crime summer read: Emma at damppebbles.com @damppebbles

#CoverReveal: Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza (@RobertBryndza) @bookouture #DetectiveErikaFoster

I am one happy little blogger today.  Why, you ask?  It’s because I am part of the cover reveal team for the fifth Detective Erika Foster novel written by crime fiction superstar, Robert Bryndza.  I adore Erika Foster.  So much so that I am not ashamed to admit to having a complete girl crush on her!

The fifth book in the series is called Cold Blood and will be published by the mighty Bookouture on 20th September 2017.  Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite (as if you need it to do that!):

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before.

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago.

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack.

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer.

Brilliantly gripping, Cold Blood will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath to the heart-stopping and shocking ending.

How good does that sound?  I can’t wait to read Cold Blood.  Roll on September when Erika’s latest adventure will be released.  Make sure you get your copy by pre-ordering now:

UK  http://amzn.to/2uP064T
US  http://amzn.to/2uOLceW

So, without further ado, here is the stunning cover of Cold Blood:

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Oh wow!  I absolutely love that cover.  It’s definitely in line to be my cover of the year. What do you think?

about the author3

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Author info and image (c) Robert Bryndza

Robert Bryndza is the author of the international #1 bestseller The Girl in the Ice. The Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller is the first book in the Detective Erika Foster series. The Night Stalker, and Dark Water are the second and third books in the series, and the fourth book, Last Breath, has just been published. Robert’s books have sold over 2 million copies, and have been translated into 27 languages.

In addition to writing crime fiction, Robert has published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels. He is British and lives in Slovakia.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Dying to Live by Michael Stanley (@detectivekubu) @OrendaBooks

DYING TO LIVE cover.jpeg“The sixth mystery in the beloved and critically acclaimed Detective Kubu series. Kubu and his colleague Samantha Khama track a killer through the wilds of Botswana on their most dangerous case yet.

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles… but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman? As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow. A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.”

I am delighted to welcome you my stop on the Dying to Live blog tour.  My lovely blog tour buddy today is Sheila over at The Quiet Geordie.  This is the sixth book in the Detective Kubu series and it was a joy to read.  So far I have managed to devour two previous ‘Kubu’ novels; click here for my review of Deadly Harvest and here for my review of A Death in the Family.  Dying to Live was my third journey to glorious Botswana and my third experience of ‘sunshine noir’.  Dying to Live was published by Orenda Books on 12th July 2017.

For those new to this series, the author, Michael Stanley is a writing team of two.  But you would never know.  Every time I pick up a Michael Stanley novel I’m expecting to see the divide between the two voices, to be able to ‘spot the difference’.  But I can’t.  The writing is seamless and wonderfully confident.

I am incredibly fond of Detective David Bengu who most of the characters refer to as ‘Kubu’, the Setswana word for hippopotamus.  He’s not my usual broken, addiction riddled detective –  the type I’m usually drawn to.  He’s a family man who lives by his principles.  I found the sub-plot of his adoptive daughter’s HIV suddenly deteriorating quite hard to read without becoming emotional, but welcomed this revealing insight into Kubu’s home life and his relationship with his wife, Joy.

Something I tend to find with Michael Stanley books is that you always get something different.  For example, the investigation in Dying to Live initially focused on the death of a Bushman.  Which leads us to the Kalahari and into the secretive world of witch doctors.   But the most important thing to note is that this is a GREAT mystery.  I was completely drawn in to the story and loved the different threads of the investigation and the connections made by Kubu and Detective Samantha Khama.  I couldn’t work out whodunit so was rather surprised by the reveal (always a bonus when you don’t see the twist coming!).

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  This is a great series which I will always come back to.  I feel a real warmth towards Kubu and his family, there’s something very reassuring about reading these books.  Saying that, please don’t be fooled into thinking they are fluffy reads because they are most definitely not.  I recommend that you also read Deadly Harvest and A Death in the Family.  Not because you need to as I think Dying to Live works perfectly well as a standalone, but because they are great books.  More Kubu please, Michael Stanley – the sooner, the better :).

Four stars out of five.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Dying to Live.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Dying to Live by Michael Stanley was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 12th July 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Foyles | Goodreads |

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about the author3

Michael Stanley photo.jpgMichael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #Extract: Guilty by Laura Elliot (@Elliot_Laura) @bookouture

cover.jpg“It begins with a phone call. It ends with a missing child.

On a warm summer’s morning, thirteen-year-old school girl Constance Lawson is reported missing. 

A few days later, Constance’s uncle, Karl Lawson, suddenly finds himself swept up in a media frenzy created by journalist Amanda Bowe implying that he is the prime suspect. 

Six years later …

Karl’s life is in ruins. His marriage is over, his family destroyed. But the woman who took everything away from him is thriving. With a successful career, husband and a gorgeous baby boy, Amanda’s world is complete. Until the day she receives a phone call and in a heartbeat, she is plunged into every mother’s worst nightmare. 

An utterly compelling psychological thriller that will keep you guessing to the very last page. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl and Sarah A. Denzil’s Silent Child.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Guilty blog tour which I share with the lovely Jen over at Jen Med’s Book Reviews.  Guilty is written by novelist, Laura Elliot and was published by Bookouture on 22nd June 2017.

Today I am thrilled to have the prologue of the book to share with you.  So without further ado, let’s crack on…

GUILTY by Laura Elliot
Prologue

 The night has laid claim to Cherrywood Terrace. Street lamps pool the pavements and burglar alarms wink from the walls of slumbering houses. A chink of light escapes between old Mr Shannon’s bedroom curtains. He never sleeps at night, or so he tells her, staying awake with crosswords and books of poetry in case death comes calling in the small hours to catch him unawares.

In the room next door her parents are sleeping. Her father’s faint, rhythmic snoring is the only sound to break the silence as she rummages through the clutter at the bottom of her wardrobe. From deep in the toe of a boot she has outgrown, she removes a phone and reads the last text she received. The one she has ignored until now. The challenge is clear. It’s dangerous, high-risk, reckless, unnecessary. She doesn’t have to take it on yet, even as she repeats these words to herself, she feels a coiling excitement, the giddy fever of knowing she can do it – will do it – and no one will ever call her a coward again.

She shoves cans of spray paint and a torch into her backpack, along with the phone. Better change her trainers for boots. Turnstone Marsh will be swampy in places. She pauses on the landing. Madness, she thinks. Why am I doing this? But anger has pushed her this far and it remains the barb that drives her down the stairs.

Out on the terrace she hesitates and looks towards a house on the far side. She was there earlier, silently entering and leaving the same way. She shrugs the memory aside and walks swiftly to the end of the terrace where a pedestrian lane provides a short-cut to Turnstone Marsh.

It’s darker here. Her footsteps sound too loud. The wind tosses her hair as it tunnels between the high walls on either side of her. She sees it flailing in the shadow cast before her and pauses, afraid she is being followed. All is silent when she looks back. No footsteps behind her, none coming towards her. She reaches the end of the lane and crosses the road to the marsh.

Bells of white bindweed flutter like spectres in the roadside hedges and she hesitates, torn between the desire to return home and burrow under her duvet and the need to continue on and complete the challenge. She climbs an embankment and jumps down on to the spongy grass. The humps and hollows of the marsh are familiar to her. This is where she used to ride her mountain bike when she was younger, but her surroundings look different now, eerie and threatening. She takes the torch from her backpack and sweeps it over the jagged outline of Toblerone Range. She remembers the struggle to cycle to the top peak, then the exhilarating ride across the humps. The thrill of descending without stopping or falling off. Now, she is facing an even bigger challenge and she is anxious to complete it before her parents awaken and discover she is missing.

She follows the path by the river. The ground is firmer here, safer than walking along the grassy trails. At the end of the marsh, she crosses Orchard Road and stops outside the haunted house. The gate is padlocked. She shines her torch along the boundary wall and finds a gap where the bricks that have broken away provide her with a foothold to climb over.

The outside walls of the house are covered in graffiti. Last year, the front door was removed and used for a Hallowe’en bonfire. At the entrance, the smell of mildew forces her to a standstill. She asks herself once again why she has taken on such a senseless dare. It’s white-knuckle, crazy stuff. A man died in this house. Seven days dead before he was discovered by the postman. His ghost could be waiting inside, ready to wail at her when she steps over the threshold. Even if ghosts don’t exist, there will be rats watching her, waiting to bite.

She turns to leave, then changes her mind. She must go forward if she is to reclaim her position with The Fearless. She climbs down the steps into the basement. In the beam from her torch, she sees old, mouldering furniture, rusting pots and pans. She almost trips over a horse’s saddle. Slashed open, its fleece, scraggy as a crow’s nest, spills from the interior. She takes the cans of paint from her backpack. The walls are already covered in graffiti, stupid swirls and squiggles and angles and curses. That’s just vandalism. She believes graffiti should have a purpose. It should make a statement. A protest against authority, particularly parents who’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young. She positions her torch on the floor and sets to work.

It’s done. She videos her art with the Fearless phone. The cover loosens and flaps against her hand. Impatiently, she pulls the phone free and films the junk strewn across the basement. This will add atmosphere to her video. Paws skitter across the floor. She sprints towards the stairs.

At last, she’s out in the open. The fresh air feels damp on her skin and she can breathe freely again. The anger that gave her the courage to complete the challenge turns to relief but she feels regret, also. She has broken a promise she made to someone special. She pushes this stab of guilt aside and argues with herself that friends are more important. Belonging matters. And she will be back in the circle again – right in its centre – after tonight.

A briar snags her jeans. In the darkness, it feels as if a hand has gripped her ankle to prevent her escaping. She bends and pulls at the material, swears softly as the phone slips from her hand into the long grass. By the light of the torch she finds it. The cover has fallen into a patch of thistles. Prickly leaves sting her fingers as she tries to pluck it free. She leaves it there, anxious to be gone from this spooky, derelict site.

She clambers through the gap in the boundary wall and jumps down on to Orchard Road. Once outside, she videos the gate and the exterior of the bleak house where the ghost of Isaac Cronin roams through the mouldy rooms.

She presses record on her phone and shouts, ‘A message to The Fearless. It’s done. No one can ever call me chicken again.’ She spins across the road, giddy with triumph and a story she is longing to tell. The moon pearls the sky, shining coldly and mercilessly down on the last exhilarating moments of Constance Lawson’s young life.

Doesn’t that sound good?  I can’t wait to read Guilty.  I hope having a peek at the prologue has drawn you in and you’re eager to read more!

Guilty by Laura Elliot was published in the UK by Bookouture on 22nd June 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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about the author2

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Laura Elliot is an Irish novelist and lives in the coastal town of Malahide, Co. Dublin. She loves travelling. The beautiful South Island of New Zealand was the inspiration for her setting in The Prodigal Sister. The Burren in County Clare became the mysterious setting for Stolen Child and the Broadmeadow Estuary behind her home provides the background for The Betrayal. She has worked as a journalist and magazine editor
Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

damppebbles.com nominated for the @BloggersBash #ServicestoBloggers award!

Hello my booky friends. We’ve known each other for a while now and I hope, by now, you’ve picked up on how much I love to #sharethebooklove. Part of my daily routine is sharing as many fabulous book reviews and booky posts from fellow bloggers over on Twitter as I can. 

Due (I think) to this love of sharing posts, I’ve been nominated for an award! Whoop whoop 🎉.  I am absolutely thrilled to have been nominated for a 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Award!

damppebbles.com is nominated in the Services to Bloggers category and I would be so incredibly grateful if you could spare a moment and vote for me.

The criteria is: Who’s the kindest blogger of them all? Which blogger goes out of their way to help others? Maybe someone helped you kick start your blog with tutorials or maybe they continually reblogs your posts. Perhaps someone consistently provides useful posts on how to boost your own blog. Or maybe you want to nominate someone who provides a platform for others.

Who do you want to thank for their dedication to other bloggers?

So please, if you haven’t already done so please vote for damppebbles.com (and anyone else you fancy whilst you’re there!). Just click on the Bloggers Bash logo above to vote. Best of luck everyone. Results will be revealed in a glittery ceremony in London on 10th June. Fingers crossed (and THANK YOU!!). Voting closes at 12pm on FRIDAY 2nd JUNE, please make your vote count ❤.

#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.