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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five out of five stars.

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

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

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

about the author3

Emily Koch - pic by Barbara Evripidou

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

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

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

You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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

Advertisements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely.  And whilst you’re there make sure you pick up a copy of Deep Down Dead too.  Deep Blue Trouble will work as a standalone but why not read the first book in the series whilst you’re at it.  I promise you won’t regret it.  I said this time last year that, “For me, this is the book that every other book has to beat this year to become my favourite read of 2017.  It’s early days but Deep Down Dead is a long way in the lead at the moment (and we’re not even done with January yet!)”.  Well, the same applies this year.  As things stand at present, Deep Blue Trouble is the book every other book has to beat to be my ‘book of 2018’.  As crime writers go, you can’t get better than Steph Broadribb.  Perfect!

Five out of five stars.

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

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

Deep Blue blog poster 2018.jpg

about the author3

Steph Broadribb.jpegSteph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens.

Author Links: Crime Thriller Girl | Facebook | Twitter |

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

haul.jpg

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

20180113_154240.jpg

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

| GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED |

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

Paperbacks which will be sent from damppebbles HQ…

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

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

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

the ghost and the railway.jpg

And coming directly from Fahrenheit Press are these beauties:

Plus the obligatory stationery and chocolate:

20180113_161606.jpg

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Any questions then please do give me a shout!

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

giphy (6).gif

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Here are Gordon’s choices….

in the still.jpg

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

the lost village.jpg

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

tag you're dead.jpg

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

Gordon’s Blog and Social Media Links:

Grab This Book | Twitter |

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

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #Author Jonathan Mark (@jonmark1956) #TheLastMessenger

I am delighted to welcome the author of The Barnabas Trilogy, Jonathan Mark, to damppebbles today.  The first book in the trilogy, The Last Messenger was published in 2017 and is an action-packed historical thriller.  Jonathan has kindly agreed to share his #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads in the penultimate post of the series.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 is an opportunity for book bloggers and authors to share and shout about three must-read books.  The only requirement, the books must have been published in 2017.

Here are Jonathan’s choices…

three daughters of eve.jpg

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak
A fascinating exploration into the nature of faith and friendship from the perspective of three young Muslim women. One is a devout Muslim and one breaks all the rules. Peri the central protagonist is stuck in the middle, confused about her faith. She falls in love with an Oxford professor who leads the three friends to question everything including God, Life and Islam.

the ministry of utmost happiness.jpg

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy
The Booker prize winner has done it again with this charming love story about Anjum who is a member of the Old Delhi Hijara (transgendered) community. It is funny and heartbreaking in equal measure and gives a wonderful insight into the complexities of the Indian tradition and culture.

birdcage walk.jpg

Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore
The final novel of Helen Dunmore before she died is probably her best. Set in Bristol at the time of the French Revolution, she captures the style of writers of that period and tells the story of a wife who is caught under the spell of her husband who stands to lose everything he has worked for in Bristol’s housing boom in Clifton. It is a historical psychological thriller.

***

Great recommendations, Jonathan and thank you for joining me today.

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

Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak | The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy | The Birdcage by Helen Dunmore |

About Jonathan:
After nearly forty years working in finance in the City of London, he retired early to pursue his long-held ambition to write novels. He lives in Essex with his wife Lin. He also spends long periods in Cornwall where the restless seas and wild coastline provide inspiration for many stories, just as they did for Daphne du Maurier. To kick-start his writing career he completed an MA in Crime and Thriller writing at City University London. At the time, this course was the only creative writing MA in the country which focused on commercial crime fiction. The Last Messenger was the novel submitted to complete the MA. It is a story which evolved from a novel collecting dust in his desk drawer for over twenty years. Literary Agents advised that there was no longer a demand for conspiracy thrillers. Therefore, it is with a streak of bloody-minded and perhaps misguided optimism that he’s published this book.

About The Last Messenger:
the last messenger.jpgCRETE 1941 – A LOST SECRET IS DISCOVERED

During the German invasion of Crete, an air raid destroys a church revealing an ancient Christian scroll buried under its foundations. It is discovered by Callidora, a young Cretan shepherdess. She meets Hans, a German paratrooper who helps her understand the significance of the scroll. Callidora’s family accuse her of collaboration with the enemy and disown her. While Hans’ commanding officer, Captain Wolfgang Kohlenz, will stop at nothing to force Callidora to reveal the scroll’s secret.

LONDON 2005 – A GLOBAL CONSPIRACY

Richard Helford, an MI6 analyst caught up in the London bombings, helps Masood, a Muslim dying from injuries sustained by the bomb on the Piccadilly line. Masood appears to recognise Richard, who wonders whether they’d met in Iraq when he’d worked there during the occupation by Allied forces. Richard had returned to London, traumatised after his SAS bodyguard was killed by a suicide attack. The London bomb begins to trigger his recollection of the incident in Iraq which had previously been lost in his memory. As Richard searches for answers he discovers a family secret which draws him into a conspiracy of global significance.

What is the connection?

If its secret is revealed, it will invoke the terrifying predictions of the Book of Revelations. The book that predicts the end of the world. Arab terrorists want the prophecy revealed but the CIA, Mossad and MI6 want it destroyed.

What is the conspiracy of The Last Messenger?

amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

Jonathan’s Social Media Links:
Website | Twitter |

My thanks to Jonathan for joining me today.  Make sure you stop by tomorrow when I will be welcoming one of my favourite bloggers, Gordon Mcghie of Grab This Book.  Plus it’s my blogiversary!

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer (@kate_hamer) @FaberBooks

the doll funeral.jpg“My name is Ruby. I live with Barbara and Mick. They’re not my real parents, but they tell me what to do, and what to say. I’m supposed to say that the bruises on my arms and the black eye came from falling down the stairs.

But there are things I won’t say. I won’t tell them I’m going to hunt for my real parents. I don’t say a word about Shadow, who sits on the stairs, or the Wasp Lady I saw on the way to bed.

I did tell Mick that I saw the woman in the buttercup dress, hanging upside down from her seat belt deep in the forest at the back of our house. I told him I saw death crawl out of her. He said he’d give me a medal for lying.

I wasn’t lying. I’m a hunter for lost souls and I’m going to be with my real family. And I’m not going to let Mick stop me.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today as it’s my stop on The Doll Funeral blog tour.  The Doll Funeral is the second book written by Kate Hamer.  Her first, The Girl in the Red Coat, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Prize in 2015.  I had the pleasure of meeting Kate Hamer at the 2017 Wantage (Not Just!) Betjemen Literary Festival in October.  Hearing Hamer talk about her characters, her thought processes and how Ruby blossomed into life made me keen to read this beautifully haunting tale.

Ruby is different.  Ruby is able to see and communicate with the dead.  She has also had a harrowing upbringing.  A number of unsightly bruises and marks which need to be hidden away; she has time off school when the bruises get really bad but it’s OK, Barbara and Mick tell her what to say.  It’s never the truth.  The truth would cause too many questions, too many problems.  On her thirteenth birthday, Barbara and Mick share some news.  Ruby is adopted, she’s not their ‘real’ daughter.  The confirmation that she doesn’t belong fills Ruby with joy and she runs into the garden singing.  But this is just the beginning for Ruby.  She needs to find out where she belongs.  She must find her birth parents as she’s sure they want her back.

Ruby’s tale is a very emotional one.  So many issues that an adult would find it hard to cope with, dropped onto the shoulders of a thirteen-year-old child.  I personally struggled at times to see Ruby as a child in my mind’s eye.  Her wisdom, actions and attitude were more suited to a person in their late teens, a young adult, maybe? Perhaps Ruby is just one of those characters who are old before their time.

I thoroughly enjoyed the flashback sequences where we meet Ruby’s parents before her birth.  Seeing how her young mother, Anna, coped with the unplanned pregnancy.  The decisions that had to be made and the undoing of all of those decisions once the precious bundle of a newborn baby was placed in Anna’s arms.  Anna’s story broke my heart and I will remember it for some time to come.  Along with the names of Ruby’s adoptive parents, Mick and Barbara, but for completely different reasons.

The author has a knack of writing such beautifully descriptive and atmospheric prose that I was able to forgive some of the more far-fetched supernatural aspects of the story.  I want to put this out there so we’re all clear; I am a non-believer of ghosts and ghoulies.  Always have been and always will be unless someone can show me hard evidence of the spirit world existing.  I often struggle with a supernatural element in a book.  Sometimes it works for me, other times it doesn’t.

Would I recommend this book?  I would but it’s best to approach this novel thinking of it as a gothic ghost story (it crosses many genres but gothic ghost story prepares you for what lays ahead).  It’s enchanting, dark and multi-layered.  I would very much like to read Hamer’s debut now and compare the two works.

Four out of five stars.

The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 4th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (the following amazon links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

DF blog tour (2).jpg

about the author3

kate hamer.jpgKate Hamer grew up in the West Country and Wales. She studied art and worked for a number of years in television. In 2011 she won the Rhys Davies short-story prize and her short stories have appeared in various collections. Her debut novel The Girl in the Red Coat was published in 2015. It was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Prize, the British Book Industry Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, and the Wales Book of the Year. It was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been translated into sixteen different languages. Kate now lives with her husband in Cardiff.

Author Links:Goodreads | Website | Twitter |

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #Reviewer Claire Knight (@clairekreads) #CrimeBookJunkie

It is my great pleasure to welcome the lovely Claire Knight to damppebbles today.  Claire has been the awesome guest reviewer over at CrimeBookJunkie for a while now, alongside the fabulous Noelle Holten, and joins me today to share her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 is a chance for book bloggers, reviewers and authors to share three recommended reads.  Three must-read books they want to share with the rest of us.  The only stipulation being, the books must have been published in 2017.

Here are Claire’s choices…

enter the dark.jpg

Enter the Dark by Chris Thomas
Oh Lordy, this book!!! It is so different and dark. Every time I think about it, it draws me back in! The concept of the book is justice but not a form of justice that you have seen before. Live broadcast justice on the dark web. It’s just ingenious!

Maria in the Moon cover

Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech
This is not exactly a crime novel, but it’s a dark and emotional read. I adore Louise Beech’s writing, it’s addictive. She’s not someone to be pigeonholed, she is in a genre of her own!

forget me not.jpg

Forget Me Not by Kierney Scott
Alongside the Jake Boulder series by Graham Smith, this book has reignited my interest in Stateside crime novels. This book is brutal with the murders, packed with tension and a total rollercoaster! How is this the author’s first crime novel?

***

Awesome recommendations, thank you Claire.  I’ve already downloaded ‘Enter the Dark’ thanks to your mini review above.  Sounds just my cup of tea!  And ‘Forget Me Not’ is now on the wishlist. (And I also loved ‘Maria in the Moon – pretty much a full house really!)

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

Enter the Dark by Chris Thomas | Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech | Forget Me Not by Kierney Scott |

About Claire:
I’m Claire and I’m a guest reviewer over at Crimebookjunkie. I have loved crime fiction since I discovered the secret seven and famous five before moving onto true crime and then into the more adult crime fiction.

Claire’s Social Media Links:
CrimeBookJunkie | Twitter |

Watch out for Claire’s very own blog coming to the internet on 1st February.  We’re sad you’re leaving CrimeBookJunkie Claire, but can’t wait to see your brand spanking new blog!

My thanks to Claire for joining me today.  Make sure you stop for the penultimate #R3COMM3ND3D2017 tomorrow when I welcome author Jonathan Mark.

#BlogBlitz | #BookReview: Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker (@Bookwalter) @bookouture

Keep-Her-Safe-Kindle.jpg“How far would you go to protect your child?

Maggie’s daughter Penny is her whole world… and she’d do anything to protect her. So when Maggie wakes one night to find a strange woman in her home, she runs to lock herself in her bedroom with her child. But Maggie knows why she’s come… 

Someone has been targeting mothers and offering them a choice: do as he says or their child disappears. This stranger in her home has until dawn to follow his orders… but Maggie too has the ‘choice’ to make. Can she put the pieces together to stop the cycle before her time is up?

An edge-of-your-seat thriller that will keep you guessing until the last page. Perfect for fans of Adam Croft and Tess Gerritsen.”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to damppebbles today as it’s my stop on the Keep Her Safe blog tour.  Keep Her Safe is written by Richard Parker and is the third of Parker’s books published by the mighty Bookouture.  I am a great fan of Richard Parker’s writing having previously read and reviewed his other two Bookouture releases, HIDE AND SEEK and FOLLOW YOU.  I loved Follow You so much, it made it onto my Top Ten Books of 2017.

So, with this in mind, I was excited to make a start on Keep Her Safe.  Really, REALLY flipping excited.  And what a book!  What an absolutely brilliant hook!  Richard Parker has done it again, he’s created the stuff nightmares are made of.

Having sat here for 10 minutes staring at a fairly empty screen I have realised that this is going to be a hard review to write.  Not because I didn’t enjoy the book (I loved the book!) but because I don’t want to be the one dishing out spoilers left, right and centre.  There are things not mentioned in the blurb above which are key to the storyline.  Now I could bring them into my review but that seems totally unfair to you, the reader.  So I’m going to be as vague as possible and say that the impossible situation Parker’s characters get themselves into was the killer hook for me, it was everything and made me fall head over heels in love with this book!  Where Parker’s ideas come from, I would LOVE to know.  It really is the stuff of nightmares.

The beginning is shocking, dark and quite disturbing.  It made me think, ‘what if…?’.  The end took me to places I never expected it to.  It comes like a bolt out of the blue and knocks you sideways.  I promise you won’t see it coming.  I have to be 100% honest at this point and confess that at times, during the middle section, I did find my attention drifting a little.  There was lots of action but the initial hook had been blunted a little and the focus of the story had shifted elsewhere.  Still a terrific piece of writing but after the intense, high drama of the opening chapters, I guess I wanted more of that and less of the ‘comrades joining together against a common enemy’ (all very cloak and dagger but I’m trying to be vague, hahaha).  The spikiness of the story was suddenly less…spiky.  I liked the spikiness, I would have liked a little more spike in the main body of the story.  I’ll shut up now….

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!  It’s brilliant and the slightly slower middle section doesn’t change my opinion of that.  If you want a book that will, in parts, leave you breathless with shock then this is the one.  Totally gripping, very unexpected and leaves you asking yourself, ‘what would I do?’.  Another BRILLIANT thriller from the pen of Richard Parker.  I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next!

Five stars out of five.

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

Keep Her Safe by Richard Parker was published in the UK by Bookouture on 11th January 2018 and is available in eBook format (the following amazon links are affiliate links) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

Keep Her Safe - Blog Tour.jpg

about the author3

RichardParkerPicRichard Parker was formerly a TV script writer, script editor and producer before turning his hand to penning twisted standalone thrillers.

KEEP HER SAFE is the latest book to be published by Bookouture on January 11th 2018.

HIDE AND SEEK was his fifth book published in August 2017.

FOLLOW YOU was his fourth psychological thriller. Reviewers are saying it’s Bookouture’s darkest crime novel to date.

STALK ME was his third and rode high in the UK and US charts.

SCARE ME was his second. Hollywood movie rights have been acquired by major US studio, Relativity Media. Star of PRISON BREAK and screenwriter of dark horror thriller STOKER, Wentworth Miller, has written the big screen adaptation.

STOP ME, Richard’s darkly fiendish debut, was shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award.

Author Links:Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website |

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #Blogger #Reviewer & #CrimeFiction #Commentator Ayo Onatade (@Shotsblog)

It is my great pleasure to welcome the fabulous Ayo Onatade of Shotsmag Confidential to damppebbles today.  If you’re a fan of the crime genre (and why wouldn’t you be?!) then you must start following Shotsmag Confidential as it’s non-stop crime fiction – absolute heaven.  I am thrilled to have Ayo join me today to share her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 is an opportunity for book bloggers and authors to shout loudly about three of their favourite books.  The only proviso being, the books must have been published in 2017.

Here are Ayo’s choices…

bluebird, bluebird

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke (Highway 59)
A brilliantly written thriller that is the first in a new series where two killings expose small town tensions for a hard drinking black Texas Ranger. Injustice and institutional racism laid bare.

grandville force majeure.jpg

Grandville Force Majeure by Bryan Talbot (Grandville Series)
An anthropomorphic steampunk roller coaster of thrills, humour, and mystery graphic novel that brings to the fore the enjoyment of cross-genre fiction.

killing is my business.jpg

Killing is My Business by Adam Christopher (LA Trilogy)
This is the second book in a trilogy that features a PI turned hitman who is also the last working Robot.  Set in the 1960’s this is a mash-up science fiction and a noir mystery novel. Fascinating and intriguing a brilliant book if your reading tastes lean towards cross-genre fiction and you can also appreciate the Chandleresque atmosphere of the series.

***

Brilliant recommendations, Ayo, thank you!  I have ‘Bluebird, Bluebird’ on my TBR and cannot wait to get to it.  The other recommendations I have added to my wishlist!

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

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke | Grandville Force Majeure by Bryan Talbot | Killing is My Business by Adam Christopher |

About Ayo:
Ayo Onatade is a freelance crime fiction critic and blogger. She has written a number of articles on different aspects of crime fiction and has also given papers on the subject as well. She has an eclectic taste in crime fiction, which runs the gamut from historical crime fiction to hardboiled and short stories. Her research interests include historical fiction especially crime fiction and crime fiction literary criticism. She is also a visiting lecturer at Kingston University.

Ayo’s Blog and Social Media Links:
Shotsmag Confidential | Twitter | Facebook | shotsmag.co.uk |

My thanks to Ayo for joining me today.  #R3COMM3ND3D is sadly drawing to a close for 2017.  But make sure you join me again tomorrow when I welcome the awesome Claire Knight, guest reviewer over at CrimeBookJunkie.