The #damppebbles Top Ten (sort of!) of 2019 #amreading #amreviewing #amblogging #Bestof2019 #TopReadsof2019 #BookRecommendations #bookblogger

Hello dear book friends and welcome to one of my very favourite posts of the year! As it’s the last day of 2019 I wanted to share my top reads of the year with you before we welcome the New Year with open arms and raised glasses. It’s also a very good opportunity to thank you for your support this year. When I first started damppebbles nearly FOUR years ago I had no idea the impact it would have on my life. Reading has always been my passion but I’ve never really discussed books with other people (mainly because I didn’t know anyone who was as keen on reading and books as I was!). The book community welcomed me with open arms and I am truly grateful for that every day. Thank you for following my blog and being interested in my bookish thoughts. I expected maybe ten or so people to follow damppebbles (and I would have been incredibly happy with that) but to have over 120 x that many followers is just mind-blowing. Thank you, thank you and thank you again.

I will be taking a step back from blogging next year. I have been suffering from a small reading slump recently and it’s taking me a couple of weeks to read one book. That wouldn’t be so bad if I were then finding the time to review the book immediately afterwards. But I’m not. Currently, I have fourteen reviews to write and I can’t seem to find the time, the words or the drive to write them. So I’m removing the pressure and not giving myself any deadlines for the foreseeable future. I hope you understand. I do plan on returning but not for a few months.

If you’re a book blogger and part of the damppebbles blog tours family then fear not! I will be in touch with more glorious books for you soon. My blogging break will not affect DBT in the slightest and I plan to continue being your Fairy BookMother long into the future. If you’re a book blogger and you’re NOT part of damppebbles blog tours then here’s your chance to sign up! Plus if you sign up, follow me on Twitter and retweet this tweet then your name will be entered into the draw to win a small book haul worth £20 from Book Depository (giveaway is international but Book Depository must ship to you – ends 00:00 GMT 31st January 2020). If you tag four book blogger friends as well you’ll get a bonus entry. And don’t forget to have a peek at the damppebbles blog tours page over on the blog and see if anything takes your fancy.

Anyway, I digress. We’re here for my top books of the year post and not my Oscars acceptance speech, lol!

My top ten books of 2019 list is actually eleven books long but I’m hoping no one notices. Previously I’ve made it a strange rule to not include a book that’s due to be published in the following year. But I realise now that that’s just pure CRAZY. After all, I’m unlikely to go back two years to compile my ‘end of the year’ books list. So that stops right here, right now. What makes it even more iffy is that I haven’t written a review for the 2020 release I’m going to feature in this list yet. Yup – it’s one of the fourteen….

So in no particular order unless otherwise stated, here are my favourite reads of 2019…

the hunting party

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  Without a moment’s hesitation.  It’s creepy and claustrophobic with a brilliant ending.  It’s a perfect example of the books I love to read.  A great page-turner of a book with intriguing characters, a fabulous remote setting and shedloads of suspicion and suspense.  More please! Highly recommended.
My Review of The Hunting Party

the good daughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
This book really is something quite special.  I was completely emotionally involved with it from start to finish and savoured every single word of The Good Daughter.  I didn’t want it to end and could have happily read another 500 pages or so.  There are so many brilliant moments within the story; young Charlotte’s palpable fear and indecision when the moment to escape comes – leaving her older sister to certain death, the wonderful twist fairly early on in the book that you just don’t see coming, the relationship between Charlotte and her father, when Lenore, Rusty’s secretary’s, story is revealed to the reader.  So many fantastic little touches that when added together make something truly magnificent.  It’s also very dark with a number of terrifying and upsetting scenes.
My Review of The Good Daughter

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Wilderness by B.E. Jones
I loved this book.  It’s the first book I’ve read by B.E. Jones but I can safely say that it won’t be the last.  Boy, can this author write a dark and dangerous character!  If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then you will know that I am a sucker for characters.  The plot and the setting (which are both brilliant in this novel, by the way)  can be ‘okay’ providing the characters stand tall and leap from the page.  I want living breathing people who make me feel something – that’s not asking too much, is it?  Wilderness is a cracking example of exactly how to write incredible, believable characters and also tick the all-important plot and setting boxes with confidence and flair!  I absolutely loved Liv.  I’m still not entirely sure I was supposed to love her as she’s very much a character on the edge.  But hey, I do like a dark undertone and it’s often the more complex creations who appeal to me more!
My Review of Wilderness

the whisper man

The Whisper Man by Alex North
You need this book in your life.  It’s brilliantly creepy, edgy and chock full of surprises.  I was totally smitten from the moment I read the first page.  The characters are outstanding, the plot hooks you in in a matter of minutes and the writing is just sublime.  Not forgetting the seemingly-quaint yet overwhelmingly sinister setting of Featherbank.  This book has definitely left its mark on me.  I loved it and it’s going to take something extra special to knock it off the top spot.
My Review of The Whisper Man

the taking of annie thorne

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor
Would I recommend this book? Most definitely and I suggest if you haven’t read The Chalk Man you download that too.  I’m a huge fan of horror/crime crossover novels and this one is another to add to the favourites list.  Tudor’s writing is sublime and before you know it hours have passed and you’ve forgotten to pick the kids up from school (that didn’t happen…honest!).  Deliciously creepy, totally addictive and the type of book I want to read over and over again.  Don’t miss out on this exceptional book!
My Review of The Taking of Annie Thorne

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman
I devoured this book in a few short hours. I very occasionally say it doesn’t take me long to read a book (more often than not it takes me AGES as I’m a slow reader for a book blogger) but this is by far my quickest read in a long time. I could not put this book down and I flew through the pages like my life depended on it. I was mesmerised by Malorie’s incredible story and wanted to see what was going to happen but also savour my time with this courageous woman struggling through an unimaginable scenario. The publishers say this book will haunt you long after reading and they are so right. I’m traumatised by Bird Box and I love it! If you haven’t watched the film but you have a vague idea of the concept then you must read this book. I don’t think you truly ‘get it’ until you’re living it with Malorie and the children. Oh my gosh, it’s buried deep down in my soul. Absolutely superb!
My Review of Bird Box

blood song

Blood Song (Roy & Castells #3) by Johana Gustawsson
I can’t quite put into words how special these books are and how talented Johana Gustawsson, and the translators (in this case David Warriner), are. Some writers tell you a story, while others take you on a journey and that’s exactly what Gustawsson does in her novels. There is always a historical element to her stories and it’s always something that will make you stop and think. In Blood Song the story jumps from Franco’s Spain in the 1930s to the present day with spine chilling effect. At times, I was wondering what the connection would be. How the past and the present would collide. Then all the perfectly placed pieces fall into place and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
My Review of Blood Song

soon

Soon by Lois Murphy
This is a truly captivating novel which drew me in from start to finish. The unease and the uncertainty the author creates is a joy to read and I savoured every single second of this book. I was right there at the heart of Nebulah with the characters as they realised the sun would set soon and they were rapidly running out of time… It’s a beautifully written piece of fiction where everything works perfectly; the place, the characters, the gripping plot and of course, the terrifying mist. I wanted to return to this book again and again to get my next Nebulah fix.
My Review of Soon

the last widow

The Last Widow (Will Trent #9) by Karin Slaughter
When you first start this book you have no idea what sort of ride you’re going to be taken on or even what to expect.  All I’ll say is get comfy and buckle your seatbelt as it’s gonna get bumpy! Sara and Will are thrown head first into the darkest reaches of humanity, layer upon layer of the worst humankind has to offer, which can make for uncomfortable reading at times.  The author builds the story in the most marvellous way and I was completely entranced by Slaughter’s writing and her characters, as well as frequently appalled too.
My Review of The Last Widow

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The Guest List by Lucy Foley
I haven’t actually written my review of The Guest List yet but after reading the brilliant The Hunting Party I was keen to get stuck into this one. Oh.My.Gosh! If you enjoyed The Hunting Party you are going to love The Guest List. Quite possibly the biggest book hangover I have ever had. Get it pre-ordered as it will be released in February 2020!

And my book of 2019 is…

black summer

Black Summer (Washington Poe #2) by M.W. Craven
Oh.My.Goodness.  I have been waiting some time (…a year, maybe?) for this second Washington Poe novel and it was absolutely outstanding!  I would even go as far as saying it’s better than the brilliant The Puppet Show, which is no mean feat!  I couldn’t put it down, nor did I want to.  Every spare moment, no matter how small, was dedicated to reading this utterly marvellous book.  I am addicted to Tilly and Poe.  You’d be crazy to not get yourself a copy of this book, which can be read as a standalone, but why would you buy just one when you can also immerse yourself in the superb The Puppet Show as well!
My Review of Black Summer

So many absolutely outstanding books. If you’re a crime or horror fan then I heartily recommend you add all of these cracking titles to your TBR. I’ve had an incredible bookish year and I cannot thank the brilliant authors and publishers enough. I’ve read so many standout novels this year that it’s been tough to whittle it down. I cannot wait to see what 2020 brings.

I couldn’t sign off without sharing my favourite bookish photo of 2019 which was taken at Harrogate and features my #blogbestie, Jo of My Chestnut Reading Tree along with superstar authors Peter Swanson and M.W. Craven. I love this photo and it always makes me smile.

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Have an incredible New Year, bookish lovelies, and I will see you on the other side. I’ll be sharing my #R3COMM3ND3D2019 After-Show Party post in the next week or so, so keep an eye out for that. I’m really looking forward to revealing the most recommended book of 2019 as chosen by 57 book bloggers and authors. Wishing you a New Year filled with everything you could hope for. Lots of love, Emma @damppebbles x

 

 

#CoverReveal: Needle Song by Russell Day (@rfdaze) @fahrenheitpress #NeedleSongBook #FahrenheitPress #FREEShortStory

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today and to a rather special cover reveal.

Back in 2017 Fahrenheit Press, the utterly awesome independent crime fiction publisher launched a competition for new and established writers from around the world. They wanted to create a short story anthology and asked for submissions.

They were inundated with entries and a panel of six intelligent and highly esteemed crime fiction fanatics (I wasn’t on the panel but it sounds like I should have been!) whittled the anonymous entries down to 15. The result? NOIRVILLE, Fahrenheit Press’ very own crime anthology, was born! You may wonder why I’m telling you this but stick with it…

The winner of the competition and the writer whose story was awarded first place by the judges was Russell Day. In second place was….well, Russell Day. Yup, you read that right. Russell Day entered two stories in the competition and placed first and second. (And for the sake of clarification, yes, Russell did enter two stories into the competition!)

Obviously, Fahrenheit Press HAD to sign Russell Day and today’s cover reveal is for NEEDLE SONG, the first novel from this exciting debut author. But only one of Russell’s stories made it into NOIRVILLE. How do you fancy reading the other one? You do? Then read on…

FREE RUSSELL DAY SHORT STORY IN EXCHANGE FOR A TWEET:
To receive a copy of Russell Day’s award-winning story, make sure you’re following @damppebbles (so you can receive the DM with the download links) and then tweet the following (copy and paste):

NEEDLE SONG by Russell Day (@rfdaze) published by @fahrenheitpress in eBook on Monday 30th April! #NeedleSongBook | @damppebbles
https://fahrenheit-press.myshopify.com/products/russell-day-needle-song-ebook-kindle-version

No retweets, it has to be a shiny new tweet otherwise it won’t count! Any problems then please contact me on Twitter (@damppebbles).

And now for the cover reveal. Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite…

Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn’t her husband.

Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it.

Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.

No one except Doc.

Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth – but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.

I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here’s the cover…

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I love that cover (those arms and tattoos belong to the author himself!) and I cannot wait for the blog tour which will be coming your way soon.

If you would like to get your mitts on a copy of Needle Song then you won’t have long to wait. Needle Song will be published in eBook on Monday 30th April 2018 with the paperback to follow a week later.  If you fancy being quick off the mark and pre-ordering, then click HERE.

about the author3

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Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.

Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.

Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s always been a miserable bastard.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#Win 50+ eBooks in @fahrenheitpress 1st birthday #giveaway | @damppebbles

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********COMPETITION NOW CLOSED********

One year ago on 10th September 2015 a brand spanking new crime fiction publisher was born.  Now as a crime fiction fan you can imagine how happy a publisher dedicated to my genre makes me.  Fahrenheit Press are ‘Bad seeds.  Renegades.  Debasers.  Your mother was right about us’, well that’s what their Twitter profile says about them anyway and I LOVE it!

13438922_1456638627694875_2077840715170179855_nBack in June I was bowled over to be named Fahrenheit Press’s Book Blogger of the Week (or fortnight as it turned into, woohoo!).  Honoured was an understatement and what an amazing thing for a publisher to do, make a fuss of us bloggers.  This -> picture makes up my desktop background and it makes me smile every time I start up the laptop.  Thank you Fahrenheit.  You may be the ‘Hot Punk Publishers’ but I think you’re rather lovely.

Whilst researching Fahrenheit I found  this chris-mcveigh-225x300cracking interview with Head Honcho Chris McVeigh on Digital Book World.  For me, this tells you everything you need to know.  May Fahrenheit be producing brilliant crime fiction titles for many, many years to come.  Happy birthday Fahrenheit Press!

And to celebrate Fahrenheit’s first birthday, Chris is generously giving away a number of subscriptions to the Fahrenheit Press Book Club.  Here’s your chance to win EVERY book Fahrenheit Press publish in 2016 in eBook format!  Yup, you read that right – EVERY BOOK FAHRENHEIT PRESS PUBLISH IN 2016 in eBOOK FORMAT!!  That’s a massive saving of£48 or €66 or $75!  I know!  It’s such an amazing, generous prize.  Want to win it?  Of course you do!

To be in with a chance of winning EVERY book published by Fahrenheit Press in 2016 (expected to be 50+) all you have to do is follow me on Twitter (@damppebbles) and RT my pinned tweet about the competition.  There will only be one winner and that winner will need to provide me with their email address so Chris @ Fahrenheit can contact you about your prize.  There are no cash alternatives and please note, the prize is eBooks only.  The giveaway will close at midnight BST on Wednesday 28th September 2016. Good luck everyone!

 

*Blog Tour: Review* Outside Looking In by Michael Wood

51-x44K35eL“When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead.

The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.”

I’m thrilled to be today’s stop on the Outside Looking In blog tour.  In true damppebbles style, this is the first DCI Matilda Darke book I have read despite it being the second book in the series (at least I’m not too late to the party with this one!).  And oh my gosh, I love Matilda Darke.  And I love Michael Wood’s style.  Totally readable and very engrossing.

The bodies of a couple are discovered in their car following what looks like a massacre.  He is dead, beyond resuscitating and she is barely hanging onto life.  DCI Matilda Darke is put on the case and soon discovers the victims are Kevin Hardaker and Lois Craven who were having a secret affair for over a year.  But why would someone kill these two fairly normal people, and why with such vengeance and hatred?  Suffering from negative publicity and her own demons, can Matilda discover who killed the couple and why, before anyone else is hurt…?

I should start by saying that DCI Darke has made it onto the illustrious damppebbles #girlcrush list.  I LOVE her.  She’s so wonderfully normal, the kind of person I’d like to pop down to Costa with for a coffee (I would say ‘pub’ and ‘white wine’ but she’s on the wagon!).  Thankfully I have the first book in the series, ‘For Reasons Unknown’ on my TBR so I can get my second fix of DCI Darke, ha ha!  Anyway, enough of my new womance…

The pacing of the plot is spot on with the story unfolding at a thoroughly enjoyable rate.  I wanted to keep turning the pages, I wanted to find out what was going to happen.  There was a moment where I felt pure dread for one character.  I won’t say anymore as I don’t do spoilers but oh my!

The conclusion is gripping and kept me on the edge of my seat.  There is encounter at the end of the book which I hope Michael Wood will be building on in the third book.  I’m looking forward to seeing where that particular story line goes.

This book does work as a standalone but I think it helps (no matter what the series or who the author) to read books in their correct order.  I wasn’t sure whether the missing child case that is mentioned often is something that was covered in book one or if it happened in the distant past.  I think going into a series partway through does leaving you feeling like you’ve missed a couple of important days at school!

I loved the nod to other great crime writers (being a crime fiction fanatic!).  I was hugely jealous of Matilda’s book inheritance and could immediately picture the bookcase she would need (boy, would it be big!).  If anyone would like to donate their crime fiction collection to me, the address is Emma @damppebbles….heh heh.

Would I recommend this book?  I most certainly would but I think starting at book one is the best way forward.  Outside Looking In is totally compelling, thoroughly engaging and you’ll really like DCI Matilda Darke.

Four and a half out of five stars.

Outside Looking In by Michael Wood was published in the UK by Killer Reads on 26th May 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Michael Wood is a proofreader and former journalist in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. His first novel featuring DCI Matilda Darke, FOR REASONS UNKNOWN, was released in the autumn of 2015. The follow-up, OUTSIDE LOOKING IN, is released in May 2016 in ebook format by Killer Reads at HarperCollins.