#BookReview: The Curator by M.W. Craven @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault #TheCurator #WashingtonPoe #damppebbles

the curator“It’s Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6

Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.

And nothing will ever be the same again . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year with you, The Curator by M.W. Craven. The Curator is the third book in Craven’s superbly good Washington Poe series (or, as everyone seems to refer to the series, Tilly and Poe) and is published in hardcover, audio and digital formats today (4th June 2020) by Constable. I received a free eARC of The Curator but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’ve been waiting a whole year (and a bit) for The Curator to arrive on my kindle. And what’s the first thing I do when it does? I simper a little because I finally have a copy – the wait is over! – and then I try to pretend it’s not there. Crazy, right? I was so keen to read this book but at the same time, I was really, really nervous. What if I didn’t enjoy it? What if I rushed in and didn’t savour it (it’s a flipping long wait ’til the next one, that’s for sure!)? And that, I think, is the sign of an incredibly talented author who has built the beginnings of a series into something that, for the reader, is extra special. Reading The Curator, for me, was an event. Something to look forward to. Something to anticipate and savour every minute of. Something to remember. And I loved it. Craven can do no wrong in my eyes.

DS Washington Poe, Tilly Bradshaw and a heavily pregnant DI Stephanie Flynn of the National Crime Agency are called back to Cumbria to investigate a perplexing case. Severed fingers. What appears to be three pairs from three individuals, left over the Christmas period in the most surprising of places. On further investigation it’s confirmed that one finger in the pair was removed antemortem, the other finger was removed postmortem. But that’s only a tiny piece of the puzzle. The female victims were drugged, the male victim wasn’t. And a note was left with each set of fingers with the hashtag #BSC6. The team – even with Tilly’s immense intelligence and analytical brain – are initially baffled. But then through a little supposition and a lot of analysis, a suspect emerges. But what the suspect tells them turns everything upside down. This isn’t any run of the mill serial killer, this is the Curator…

Another absolutely cracking novel from the crime fiction mastermind that is M.W. Craven. I loved this book and savoured every darn second I had with it. I could have easily read this book in a couple of sittings but I slowed down to ensure I enjoyed every twist and turn. Craven appears to be one of those crime writers who doesn’t shy away from digging the depths of the internet to find strange and unusual ideas for his novels, which he then twists and shapes into crime fiction gold. The Curator is solid proof of that. An intriguing and intricate setup, followed by an edge of your seat hunt for the bad guy, culminating in a devilishly dark twist that you won’t see coming.

Even when I had my suspicions about who the killer was, there was another unexpected gut punch just waiting around the corner. Such a clever well-written book that hooks you in from the get-go and doesn’t let go until the shocking finale.

Tilly and Poe are wonderful creations who have been firm favourites of mine since the very first book. I’ve loved watching their friendship and working relationship grow over the last couple of years. The chemistry and the bond they have, makes for compelling reading. The humour and the wit the author includes in the story adds a few lighter moments to what is a brilliantly dark and twisty story. Expertly paced, skilfully written and all in a setting to die for (literally!).

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, categorically, YES! If you’re a crime fiction fan and you haven’t met Tilly and Poe yet, then that has to change. The Curator can easily be read as a standalone but if you’ve not read any of the books before, why not treat yourself to the entire series?! Be whisked away to deepest, darkest Cumbria and meet two totally unforgettable characters who you will grow to love and admire. I loved this book and I’m counting down the days until Dead Ground is published next year. Another stunning novel from an accomplished writer and I’m really excited to see what the future holds (let’s hope it’s a lot more Tilly and Poe!).

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

The Curator by M.W. Craven was published in the UK by Constable on 4th June 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

16473225_743395339158440_999373164873613480_n (1)M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .

M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

20 Books of Summer Challenge #20booksofsummer20 #amreading #amreviewing #damppebbles #bookblogger

“Call me a glutton for punishment but after my complete failure to get anywhere near completing Cathy’s #20BooksofSummer challenge (check out her BRILLIANT blog at 746 Books) last year I’m going to take the plunge and try again this Summer.”

That’s how I started my last #20BooksofSummer post in May 2019. Seems only fitting that I start this year with the same bewildered, naive, unjustified belief in myself 😂. In 2018 I failed to read twenty books so I sensibly cut it down to fifteen for the following year. I failed that too. So, continuing the sensible approach I took last year, I should cut it down further to ten for 2020, right? Heck no. Where’s the fun in that?! This year, the year of the quarantine, I’m going for the big one again – twenty books in three months. Twenty books in THREE months. I’m hoping the more I say it, the less scary it will sound. TWENTY books in three months. Nope, still scary. 🤣

Our lovely host as always is the fabulous Cathy. If you would like to take part yourself then you’re very welcome to join in – the more, the merrier. More information about #20BooksofSummer can be found HERE and if you decide to take the plunge, add your sign up list to this post.

This year my list is basically 75% of my NetGalley shelf plus two other books I need to read for July and August. One is a blog tour read, the other was sent to me by the publisher. In theory, if I read the eighteen books on my NetGalley shelf, then I only have six NG books left to read – hurrah! It’s taken me so, so, SO long to reduce my shelf that I feel a lot more determined than I normally do. I’m ready to kick NG butt! Here are my beautiful books…

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Halfway by B.E. Jones
The Proposal by S.E. Lynes
The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters

The Betrayals by Fiona Neill
Written in Bones by James Oswald
The Hunted by Gabriel Bergmoser
Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch
Tattletale by Sarah Naughton

Midtown Huckster by Leopold Borstinski
Blood Lines by Angela Marsons
Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan
Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham
The Secret by Katerina Diamond

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia
The Guest House by Abbie Frost
The Home by Mats Strandberg
The Search Party by Simon Lelic
The Shadow Friend by Alex North

Gorgeous aren’t they? Have you read any of them? Which ones did you love? Are you taking part in the challenge this year? I’d love to see your books so please feel free to leave a link to your challenge post in the comments!

Wish me luck. I think I’m going to need it. I’m going to try and write a #20booksofsummer20 update post at the end of each month to keep track of how I’m doing. Wish me luck for that too, I’m not the best at monthly posts. If you would like evidence, please search for #CaseClosed on the blog 😬

If you would like to join in with the challenge too then there’s still plenty of time as we don’t kick off until 1st June. Go on, give it a try. How hard can it be, right…? 😉

Wish me luck (really, I’m begging you!) and I’ll see you on the other side!

20-books

#BookReview: The Guest List by Lucy Foley @fictionpubteam @harpercollinsuk #TheGuestList #damppebbles

the guest list“On an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.

Old friends.
Past grudges.

Happy families.
Hidden jealousies.

Thirteen guests.
One body.

The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.

All have a secret. All have a motive.
One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted to be sharing my review of the astonishingly good The Guest List with you today. The Guest List was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 20th February 2020 and is available in hardcover, digital and audio formats with the paperback to follow in September. I received a free eARC of The Guest List but that has in no way influenced my review.

I was a huge fan of Foley’s The Hunting Party when it was released last year. So much so, it made it onto my top ten (ish) books of 2019! So I was really looking forward to getting stuck into this latest release. It did not disappoint one jot! I loved The Guest List. Before I started reading, I was struggling with my reading mojo. Its bags were packed and were sat by the front door. It was determined to leave. Then I picked up this book, absolutely fell in love with it and my reading mojo has been content ever since. The magical healing power of Lucy Foley’s words and characters!

I was a little surprised to find that The Guest List is in a very similar format to The Hunting Party. A group of people gather in a remote location. All of the characters have secrets of their own and a motive for committing a murder. You know someone is going to die — but you don’t know who the victim is until near the end of the book, nor whodunit! Honestly though, who cares?! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – I was always told.

Jules Keegan and Will Slater are getting married, and it’s going to be the showbiz wedding of the year. The venue is a crumbling Folly on a remote island off the Irish coast, but wedding planner, Aoife, has everything under control. This is her first big gig and she’s hoping the glitz and the glam of the occasion will bring in lots of future business. But despite the smiling faces on the outside, bitter rivalries and jealous feuds burn deep within the hearts of the guests. This will be the wedding of the year, but for all of the wrong reasons. Spirits are high, the alcohol flows and murderous revenge is planned…

This is a wonderfully entertaining book which I absolutely devoured. I loved it and it got a special mention on my top ten (ish) books of 2019 for being so utterly brilliant. I love a good mystery and this is a truly excellent one. The story is told from several points of view. Each chapter revealing a little more of why it’s narrator could indeed be a murderer. Once again, the identity of the victim is not revealed until the end of the book and it worked so well, keeping me on the edge of my seat! Between you and I, there were a number of dastardly characters I was hoping it would be!

Foley really uses her setting to optimum effect creating an eerie and atmospheric stage for her characters. The setting is as much a part of the story as the characters are, with the swirling winds, the desolate beaches, the raging storms and the cries of the cormorants circling overhead. It’s not hard to imagine the isolation and the solitude the characters on the island feel. Particularly when things start to go badly wrong.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s wonderful and such an entertaining read. The ending is very satisfying (much like the entire book really) and if it hadn’t already featured on my top books of 2019 list then it would be a strong contender for this year’s selection (maybe it still will feature – it was published this year, after all!). Foley is a very talented writer, this is such a brilliant book and I highly recommend you check this one out.

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

The Guest List by Lucy Foley was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 20th February 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

lucy folyLucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

Author Links:FacebookTwitter | Instagram |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #WeBeginattheEnd #damppebbles

We Begin at the End.jpg“‘YOU CAN’T SAVE SOMEONE THAT DOESN’T WANT TO BE SAVED . . .’

Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.

Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.

Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.

Murder, revenge, retribution.

How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?”

The warmest of welcomes to the blog today and to my stop on the We Begin at the End blog tour. We Begin at the End is the highly anticipated new release from Chris Whitaker and was published by Zaffre Books in hardcover on 2nd April. The paperback is set to follow in October. I received a free eARC of We Begin at the End but that has in no way influenced my review.

We Begin at the End is the most beautiful, captivating and exquisite book I have ever read. My heart broke. I cried big, ugly, snotty tears and I was left wanting to relive the whole experience, from beginning to end, again. This is a stunning piece of fiction and if you don’t read it for yourself then you’ll never know exactly how astonishing it is. Hell, if this book doesn’t make it to the top of my best books of 2020 then we have been blessed with some truly incredible books this year.

The outlaw, Duchess Day Radley. The most perfect character to grace crime fiction. At only 13 years of age she has the guts and the intelligence to do things most adults wouldn’t dream of. But she’s also a 13 year old hot-headed kid who makes some pretty catastrophic mistakes. I adored her. I finished We Begin at the End a few weeks ago now but Duchess remains with me still. Her mother, Star, repeatedly tries and fails to be a good mom to her two kids. Which means Duchess has to step up and take charge. It’s heart-breaking stuff, hence the big, fat, ugly tears. Duchess’s relationship with her younger brother, Robin, was so touching, so beautiful. She’s his protector, she looks out for him because their mother can’t and does such an admirable job that every scene involving the pair of them tugged at my heart strings. When a caring, responsible adult eventually enters their lives in the form of their grandfather, it’s an absolute joy to watch six-year-old Robin blossom. Duchess’s wariness and her slow thaw towards grandfather Hal just made me admire her even more. But some people just aren’t destined to find happiness and history has an unfortunate knack of repeating itself…

Before I go any further with this review I must mention Chief Walker, or Walk as he’s known to the locals. Tragedy struck Cape Haven 30 years ago when Sissy Radley, sister to Star, was killed. Walk, who even then had aspirations to become the local police chief, was part of the search party. Walk’s best friend, Vincent King, was accused of Sissy’s murder. But Walk never gave up on Vincent and now, thirty years later, Vincent is due to be released from jail. And I think that tells you everything you need to know about Walk. Another beautifully drawn character who leaps from the pages of the book and into the reader’s mind. When tragedy hits Cape Haven for a second time, Walk is pushed to the sidelines of the investigation. Before long, he decides that if the truth is to be found, then he’s the man to uncover it. Such compelling reading and I lived every. single. moment.

Would I recommend this book? This book is perfection. I will be driving people crazy recommending We Begin at the End to them. It ticks so many boxes for me; set in small town America – tick, full of the most enchanting and interesting characters – tick, a devilish mystery at it’s heart – tick, leaves me with the biggest emotional bookish hangover – tick. This book is a masterpiece and if you only buy one book this year based on my reviews then please, PLEASE make it this one. I really wish I had the words to convey what a stunning book this is. Absolutely outstanding.

I chose to read and review an eARC of We Begin at the End. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 2nd April 2020 and is available in hardcover, digital and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | WaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

Chris Whitaker

about-the-author3

chris whitakerChris Whitaker was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. His debut novel, Tall Oaks, won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Chris’s second novel, All The Wicked Girls, was published in August 2017. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger Zoé O’Farrell (@zooloo2008) #ZooloosBookDiary

A very good morning to you all.  I hope your Monday is looking to be a good one and the week ahead full of wonderful bookish delights.  A very warm welcome to today’s #R3COMM3ND3D2018 post.  I am delighted to welcome the fabulous Zoé O’Farrell of the brilliant Zooloo’s Book Diary to the blog today.  I haven’t been following Zoé’s blog all that long really but it has fast become one of my favourites.

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 is a chance for book bloggers, authors and those who work in publishing to share the book love.  Are there three books which immediately spring to mind?  Three books you think everyone else MUST READ?  That’s what #R3COMM3ND3D2018 is all about…providing the three books you choose were published this year in 2018!

Here are Zoé’s choices…

the lion tamer who lost.jpg

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech
OMG why wouldn’t I recommend this book? Anyone who has read the review I wrote would see I was just in tears throughout.  In fact, I do not even know if my review makes sense, I just cried when I wrote it. It is such a beautiful love story, I am really protective over Ben and Andrew, they are my happy place for sure.
http://zooloosbookdiary.co.uk/bookreview-of-the-lion-tamer-who-lost-by-louise-beech-louisewriter-orendabooks-teamorenda-liontamerwholost

medium wave

Medium Wave by Rose Zolock (Becky Moran #1)
This is the first blog tour I ever took in so it will always have a special place in my heart. It was a supernaturally one and I was hooked by this book, I even got to chat the author a little on Twitter about it! This book gave me the biggest shivers and goosebumps…still just thinking about it! I can’t wait for the second book in this series!
http://zooloosbookdiary.co.uk/bookreview-of-medium-wave-by-rose-zolock-rosezolock-rararesources

do no harm.jpg

Do No Harm by L.V. Hay
This was a toss-up between two books that have given me book hangovers..and I highly recommend both can I name the other one?! [Sorry Zoé, only three!].  Anyway, this book gave me such a hangover it chilled me to the core! I actually wanted to cancel my weekend plans just to keep reading this (I didn’t but it was close!) This book is just unbelievable so many red herrings and when you get to the end….well jaw stayed on the floor for a few days! OMG left my mouth quite a lot.
http://zooloosbookdiary.co.uk/bookreview-of-do-no-harm-by-lv-hay

Great choices, thanks Zoé.  I loved seeing the reactions to The Lion Tamer Who Lost, there was so much love!  Do No Harm is on the TBR and I’m really looking forward to reading it as I thoroughly enjoyed The Other Twin by L.V. Hay.

If Zoé has managed to tempt you with her recommendations, or if you would like to find out more, then please see the following links:

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech | Medium Wave by Rose Zolock | Do No Harm by L.V. Hay |

About Zoé:
Well, I am human and I go by the name of  Zoé (Zooloo being the nickname), a mother to a gorgeous little spitfire who is 4 years old and she definitely keeps me on my feet!

I am a wife to a soldier and have had to move around with him, but in his current posting we have found home surrounded by the White Cliffs of Dover and I have a cat which I am slightly obsessed with.

I could list the “normal” interests that everyone has like ‘listening to music’, ‘watching sports’, ‘watching TV and movies’ or ‘socialising with my friends’ but in truth, these are my interests outside of reading. I am OBSESSED with TV and movies, in another life, I would be a movie critic. I LOVE music, and I do love a good gig (I could bore you more!). I am an AVID sports watcher, football season ticket holder for Watford FC (promise they are real), and probably more boring watching the cricket. Finally, I do love socialising with my friends which is how my blog started…..I think they got bored with me talking about books…or generally talking!

Zoé’s Social Media Links:
Zooloo’s Book Diary | Twitter @zooloo2008 | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads |

#R3COMM3ND3D is full for this year so I’m sorry to say I’m not taking any more submissions.  Fret not though, #R3COMM3ND3D will return next year in the guise of #R3COMM3ND3D2019.  But until then we have lots more book recommendations to come.  If your TBR ends up touching the ceiling then don’t say I didn’t warn you…

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger Yvonne Bastian (@yvonnembee) #MeandMyBooks

It’s Sunday, it’s the 18th November and it’s another fabulous #R3COMM3ND3D2018 post!  I hope your Sunday is going well so far.  For those in the UK it won’t really have had a chance to get going yet as this post is scheduled for 7.30am and we’ll all hopefully still be in the land of nod (unless you have young children of course, then you will have been up for hours!).

I am delighted to welcome a fabulous blogger (another favourite!) to damppebbles today to share their #R3COMM3ND3D2018 picks, Yvonne Bastian of Me and My Books.  If you haven’t checked out Yvonne’s blog then you must!  I always enjoy reading her reviews.

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 is a chance for book bloggers, authors and those who work in publishing to shout about three books they love.  There’s a catch though, the books must have been published this year in 2018.  That’s the only rule.  All three books must be 2018 titles.

Here are Yvonne’s choices…

sunset over the cherry orchard.jpg

Sunset Over The Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas
This book definitely transported me. It took me to the rural setting of Spain as I followed the main character through her journey. This book had a fantastic story line, an atmospheric and picturesque setting, some great local details and I just fell in love with the characters, the story, the setting and the …well everything.
https://vonnibee.com/2018/08/28/sunset-over-the-cherry-orchard-by-jo-thomas-jo_thomas01-bookreview/

the craftsman

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton
If there was a book that made me feel claustrophobic then this is it. Not only does it have a local history aspect that has been brilliantly woven into the story, it has the most wonderful descriptions that had me on the edge of my seat. The story is one that comes full circle as details are filled in about the characters. A spine tingler and skin crawling book that I loved.
https://vonnibee.com/2018/08/03/the-charftsman-by-sharon-bolton-bookreview/

dear mrs bird.jpg

Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearce
This was such a great book to read as I followed Emmy on her journey to become a Lady War Correspondent only to discover that the job was not quite what she expected. There were some great fun moments in this story set during World War II. I liked the way the author mixed the good and the bad to create a story that had me hooked as well as sniggering, crying and grinning as I turned the pages.
https://vonnibee.com/2018/04/01/bookreview-dear-mrs-bird-by-aj-pearce-ajpearcewrites-panmacmillan-netgalley/

Great choices, thanks Yvonne.  This is the second mention for the brilliant The Craftsman which is now joint first with Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon, The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven and Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh.  All four books have two votes each.  Will one of these titles be crowned the winner of #R3COMM3ND3D2018?  We’ll have to wait and see…

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

Sunset Over The Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas | The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton | Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearce |

About Yvonne:
I’m Yvonne and I have a mountain of a problem…its called my TBR but thankfully I know I’m not alone. I live in Cornwall and I am a avid book reader, reviewer and Book Blogger. I love reading a whole range of different genres that cover a multitude of different subjects. I like a book that will transport me, that will show me new and interesting things, that will scare the pants off me, that will have me laughing and or crying, that will have me on the edge of my seat and inspire me, that will challenge my thoughts, that will leave me wanting to read more by the author. Choosing just three books is a hard thing to do, actually choosing three out of most things in life is hard, but only three books!! Yes I am a book reader and I love being a book reader 🙂 [Sorry Yvonne, you’re not the first to say so, lol]

Yvonne’s Social Media Links:
Me and My Books | Twitter @yvonnembee | Facebook |

#R3COMM3ND3D for this year is full! There are still lots of wonderful book recommendations to come though, between now and the end of the year.  So make sure you pop back tomorrow for more bookish delights!

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger Donna Maguire (@dmmaguire391) #donnasbookblog

Hurrah for the weekend! Welcome to today’s #R3COMM3ND3D2018.  Joining me today is another of my favourite bloggers (it’s true, I do love book bloggers!) the very lovely Donna Maguire of donnasbookblog. If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking Donna’s blog out then you must. She reads so many books that there are always a number of new reviews every day. I don’t know how Donna does it but I would love some lessons!

If you’re new to this feature then let me explain.  #R3COMM3ND3D2018 is where I invite bookish folk to share three titles they think the rest of us should make a point of reading.  It doesn’t have to be your three absolute favourite books, just three that you love so much you have to recommend them.  The only stipulation being the three books you choose must have been published after 1st January 2018.  They all have to be 2018 publications.

So without further ado, here’s what Donna has chosen…

the puppet show.jpg

The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (Washington Poe #1)
It was an amazing book to read!!
https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/my-bookreview-of-the-puppet-show-by-m-w-craven-thepuppetshow-mwcravenuk-littlebrownuk/

jar of hearts.jpg

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
It is a dark, twisted, gritty and a thrilling read – and I loved it!!
https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/my-bookreview-for-jar-of-hearts-by-jennifer-hillier-jarofhearts%e2%80%8b-jenniferhillier-minotaurbooks/

th1rt3en.jpg

Th1rt3en by Steve Cavanagh (Eddie Flynn #4)
It has a brilliant hook and it completely lived up to all the hype for me!
https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/06/blogtour-review-of-th1rt3en-by-steve-cavanagh/

Fantastic choices, Donna. I ADORE The Puppet Show and it will most definitely feature on my books of the year list.  I have Th1rt3en on my TBR and I’m really looking forward to reading it, and I’ve added Jar of Hearts to my wishlist!

If Donna has managed to tempt you or if you would like to find out more about the titles she recommends then please see the following links:

The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven | Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier | Th1rt3en by Steve Cavanagh |

About Donna:
I’m Donna and I blog over at donnasbookblog. I have been blogging for 3 years now taking part initially in the odd blog tour and sharing my reviews, I went on maternity leave in May 2017 before having my daughter, Ava in July 2017 and started to really actively blog and things have really taken off since then. In my day job I work with a lot of legal paperwork so blogging takes me away from that and gives me an avenue to escape. My husband works shifts with his job so I read an awful lot after putting Ava to bed and can normally get through a book a day!

Donna’s Social Media Links:
donnasbookblog | Twitter @dmmaguire391 | Facebook |

If you’re a book blogger, author or publisher and would like to take part in #R3COMM3ND3D2018 please complete this form:

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton (@AuthorSJBolton) @TrapezeBooks #TheCraftsman

the craftsman.jpg“Devoted father or merciless killer?
His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago? 
Or is there something much darker at play?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Craftsman blog tour.  Now some of you may be experiencing a spot of deja vu here but fret not, you’re not seeing double.  Yes, I have published my review for the EPIC The Craftsman before but that was to celebrate the release of the book in hardcover.  Now we’re back, still celebrating, but this time it’s for the paperback release.  New cover, same book, still an absolute MUST READ.

So without further ado, here (for the second time) is my review of one of my favourite reads of 2018 (it’s long, so make yourself comfy)…

Regular visitors to the blog will know that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for crime/horror crossover novels, which this most definitely is.  Thanks to social media I saw this book sent to a few lucky early readers at the start of the year and I kid you not, it arrived in its own flipping grave!  How incredible is that?!  I knew there and then that I had to read The Craftsman.  I was pretty much prepared to do ANYTHING to get my hands on a copy (including waiting very calmly and patiently for it to be published!).  So when I was asked to feature on the blog tour, there was no way on this earth that I could say no.

Strangely, and I still can’t quite believe it myself, this is the first book I have read by Sharon Bolton.  I have a copy of Bolton’s Dead Woman Walking on my TBR which I really must get around to.  I loved The Craftsman.  I was immediately drawn into a story that I could not pull myself away from.  Our main character, WPC Florence Lovelady, had my full attention from start to finish and I’m left wanting more.  What an intriguing, fascinating story and one that will stay with me for some time to come.

The book opens with a funeral.  A funeral with a difference as the mourners aren’t there to mourn, they want to prove to themselves that it’s true; Larry Glassbrook is finally dead.  Florence Lovelady, who was heavily involved in the hunt for Glassbrook after he murdered three local teenagers by burying them alive and was key to discovering Glassbrook’s identity, has returned to Sabden in Lancashire to attend the funeral.  Lovelady has been in regular communication with the convicted killer since he was imprisoned.  Glassbrook’s final message, delivered via a short cryptic message, makes Florence wonder whether the arrest, the horrors she experienced all those years ago back in the late sixties, were the doing of Larry Glassbrook or someone much more sinister…

I enjoyed many of the characters in The Craftsman.  But for me, it was ALL about the tough, plucky WPC Florence Lovelady.  It’s the late 1960s and Florence is the first woman to work for the Sabden Police Force.  She’s ‘just a young girl’ in their eyes so is consigned to tea making and typing duties, but she outshines every single other character in the book!  Florence is smart, gutsy and tenacious and tends to run rings around her male colleagues, even when she’s trying not to!  While the men are busy being misogynists, Florence is suggesting filming a re-enactment of the latest victim’s last movements.  While the men are twiddling their thumbs, Florence is creating charts and looking for patterns, searching for the elusive clue to break the case.  Unfortunately, her intelligence, her keen eye and her repeated bouts of good luck put her somewhere she doesn’t want to be.  In the spotlight as one of the main suspects.

Now, this isn’t your everyday serial killer novel.  Nor is it your traditional police procedural.  It may not be everyone’s cup of tea because, at the heart of this story, there be witches.  Sabden, where the story is set, is at the foot of Pendle Hill which has a long history of witches and witch trials.  I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author has taken this long, dark history and used it to grow her character’s experience.  In essence, Florence becomes the focus of a cruel local witch hunt just because she’s more intelligent than her colleagues, more determined, more proactive,…and not a man.

There is so much more I want to tell you about this book.  I could go on for hours telling you about another favourite couple of characters; Daphne and Avril, and the wonderful sparkle they exude.  Oh, and I could tell you how much I enjoyed the main body of the story where the reader is transported to the late sixties (and how I couldn’t help but picture the odd scene from ‘Life on Mars’, the television programme).  This is where you get to meet some of the most misogynistic characters I have ever had the displeasure of encountering in a book.  I wanted to thump most of them.  Thank goodness times have changed!  But if I do continue telling you everything I loved then this will be the longest review I have ever written.  So instead, buy the book and find out the wonders of The Craftsman for yourself.

Would I recommend this book?  Most definitely.  It’s creepy, it’s tense and it’s full of witches!  Plus, I don’t know about you, but death by suffocation has always terrified me and I’m a terrible sufferer of claustrophobia.  Which made this book all the more frightening for me.  I loved it.  I love what the author has done with her story and her characters are an absolute delight.  Highly recommended.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 18th October 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

The Craftsman paperback blog tour.jpg

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sharon boltonSharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.

Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram |

#BookReview: Inside the Whispers by A.J. Waines (@AJWaines) @Bloodhoundbook #InsideTheWhispers

A.J. Waines - Inside the Whispers_cover_high res.jpg“The most dangerous place is inside your own head…

Dr Samantha Willerby, a specialist in Post Traumatic Stress, has never seen anything like this before. Following a fire on the London Underground, three survivors seek her help but although unmistakably traumatised, their stories don’t match the facts. Are they ‘faking it’? Sam’s confusion turns to horror when one by one, instead of recovering, they are driven to suicide.

When her lover, Conrad, begins to suffer the same terrifying flashbacks, Sam is desperate to find out what’s causing them. As a mysterious and chilling conspiracy begins to unravel the nightmares begin for Sam…”

Happy Monday book lovers!  I am delighted to be able to reshare my review of the outstanding Inside The Whispers, book one in the Samantha Willerby Mystery series, by A.J. Waines with you today.  Inside The Whispers has been republished by Bloodhound Books today so it had to be done – particularly as this book was one of my favourite reads of 2016.

Now for a short disclaimer; you may or not be aware that I recently started working for the brilliant Bloodhound Books as their Publicity and Social Media Manager.  I read and reviewed Inside The Whispers back in 2016 and nothing about my review (apart from the cover and the first couple of lines) has changed.  You can see the original by clicking HERE.  

Here are my thoughts from October 2016…

Hospital based clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willberby is starting to feel alarmed.  Sam helps patients after they suffer trauma, talking through their experiences and helping them learn to cope with what has happened to them.  Three of her patients suddenly recall a traumatic  escape from an underground fire, but that was not the reason they were initially referred to Sam.  Being the consummate professional she does all she can to help them come to terms with the harrowing events, but things aren’t adding up.  Samantha takes it upon herself to do a little investigating in her spare time, only to confirm her suspicions.  No matter what her patients say, they couldn’t have been in the tube fire.  Then, one by one, her three tube patients commit suicide.  What could Sam have done differently?  Full of remorse, she starts to notice similar signs in her boyfriend.  Then he starts to recount memories from a tube station fire which Sam knows he didn’t experience. Can Dr Willberby work out what is going on before her boyfriend becomes the next victim…?

Before I say anything else, I have to shout from the rooftops that I loved this book! Now, I’m no expert in clinical psychology (or any psychology for that matter!) but if the theories in this book are real then crikey, that’s seriously scary stuff.  If they are not real, then I am more than happy to suspend my belief and you should do the same.  An absolutely brilliant read!

Dr Samantha Willerby is now one of my favourite fictional characters.  And how refreshing to have a clinical psychologist as the lead character.  The budding new relationship between Samantha and her sister, Miranda was wonderful to read. Although having not seen each other for many years things start out quite strained and I did feel a little uncomfortable at times.  Miranda is also a brilliant, well written character who I hope will make a return in any Dr Willerby sequels.  There were several other brilliant characters featured who I either loved, or loved to hate!

The plot was twisty and it grabbed my attention with both hands.  When I was busy doing other things (like feeding my children) I was thinking about this book.  I didn’t want to put it down, it was so good.  I’m fascinated by psychology so this book was a real treat for me.  It was my first A.J. Waines read but it certainly won’t be my last.

Five out of five stars.

Many thanks to A.J. Waines for providing me with a copy of Inside the Whispers in exchange for an honest review.

Inside the Whispers by A.J. Waines was published in the UK by Bloodhound Books on 15th October 2018 and is available to purchase for a mere 99p/99¢ for a very limited time from Amazon.

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WainesAJ6 (1)AJ Waines is a number one bestselling author, topping the entire UK and Australian Kindle Charts in two consecutive years, with Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, the author is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in UK, France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and Canada (audio books).

Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and has been ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband. Find her books here and visit her website and blog, or join her on Twitter, Facebook or on her Newsletter.

Her next thriller, Lost in the Lake, will be re-released by Bloodhound Books on 24 October 2018.

Authors Links: | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards (@mredwards) @AmazonPub @midaspr #InHerShadow

in her shadow cover.jpg

“Isabel’s life seemed perfect. Successful business, beautiful house, adoring husband. And then she was dead.

For four years Jessica has never doubted that her sister Isabel’s death was an accident. But when Jessica’s young daughter seems to know long-forgotten details about her aunt’s past, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that there’s a more sinister truth behind the tragedy.

As Jessica unearths disturbing revelations about her sister, and about the people she loved and trusted most, it becomes clear Isabel’s life was less than perfect and that Jessica’s might also be at risk.

Did someone murder Isabel? Are they now after Jessica and her family? The key seems to lie in the hands of a child. Can Isabel reveal the truth from beyond the grave, or is the answer closer to home?”

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on the In Her Shadow blog tour. In Her Shadow is the latest release from bestselling author, Mark Edwards, and is set to be published by Thomas & Mercer later this week on 4th October 2018.

When Mark Edwards publishes a book, I read it. It’s that simple really. He’s an author whose writing I am happy to return to again and again. To prove my point, here are my reviews of Mark’s previous books; Follow You Home, The Devil’s Work, The Lucky Ones and The Retreat. I’ve also read ‘The Magpies’ which started it all for me a few years back. All wonderful, immersive pieces of fiction and highly recommended.

Making a start on Mark Edwards’s latest book is a strangely nerve-wracking experience for me. I have loved everything I have read by this author so far. Will this be the first book to disappoint? Will I love it as much as the others? Well, the answer to those two questions is that it did NOT disappoint but I maybe didn’t love it as much as his previous releases. Let me explain. Once again, Edwards has penned a highly readable, family focussed psychological thriller. What he does best in my opinion. However, this book has an overarching paranormal element to it, and the inclusion of any kind of paranormal ‘activity’ in a novel tends to leave this reader feeling cold. But that’s me. Your feelings on the matter may be completely different to mine and that, I find, is one of the joys of reading, and books in general. Saying that, the paranormal elements to the story were extremely well done and at points I felt shivers run down my spine – particularly in the first half of the book. Little Olivia really did freak me out.

Edwards really knows how to write a fully formed, living, breathing character. I was drawn to Jessica and her deceased sister, Isabel. In fact, I would go as far as saying Isabel was my favourite character in the book. There are wonderful flashback sections throughout so what I’m saying isn’t completely crazy (read the blurb if you’re not sure what I’m talking about). I loved her feistiness, her boundless self-confidence and her ambition. Also her strong sense of right and wrong. Jessica very much pales in her sister’s shadow. Olivia was also a firm favourite, despite the fact she did send shivers down my spine at points. I couldn’t get over how authentic Edwards made her voice.

Would I recommend this book? I would but why recommend one when you can recommend them all! I felt there was a stronger lean towards the ‘women’s fiction’ genre in In Her Shadow which I have nothing against but it’s really NOT my thing. It’s also a little sexy which again, I could have done without. However, Mark Edwards is a supremely talented writer and if you haven’t read any of his books yet then we need to have serious words. A strong family driven thriller which I enjoyed. Recommended.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of In Her Shadow. The above review is my own honest unbiased opinion.

In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards was published in the UK by Thomas & Mercer on 4th October 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

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EDWARDS 7 TS 28

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.

His first solo novel, The Magpies (2013), reached the No.1 spot on Amazon UK and has sold 300,000 copies to date. This was followed by What You Wish For (2014), Because She Loves Me (2014; also a No.1 bestseller in the UK) and Follow You Home(2015).

He also co-writes with Louise Voss. Their novels are: Killing Cupid (2011); Catch Your Death(2011); All Fall Down (2012); Forward Slash and a series featuring Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon, starting with From the Cradle (2014) and The Blissfully Dead (2015). Read more about Voss & Edwards.

Mark grew up on the south coast of England and starting writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year before returning to the UK and starting a career in marketing. He now writes full-time and lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat, Billie, who was named after an actress from Doctor Who.

When he’s not writing or looking after children, Mark reads a lot, devours TV box sets and spends far too much time on Twitter and Facebook, where he loves chatting with readers. He also wishes he had more time to do the activity he loves most: karaoke.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |