Review of the Year

Yes, it’s that time of year again, only this year I’m offering a different round-up to my usual offering.  In the past, along with many other bloggers, I’ve listed my Top 10 (or in my indecisive year – 15) books of the year. This year I’m passing on that option. Not because I haven’t read any worthy books, but rather because I’ve read so few to make a fair comparison. The reasons for this have already been well documented so I’ve no intention of regurgitating it here (for those not in the know, see here). I’ve managed a paltry (by my standards) 33 this year, although with a fair wind and a couple of hours this evening I’m hoping it might hit 34! Of those at least 12 are still waiting to be reviewed, and they include some crackers. So in the interest of balance and fairness I shall give a montage shout later to all the books that have entertained, informed, delighted, transported, shocked and generally made me happy this year.

So what are you going to do?  I hear you cry! Well I decided to offer up a general book and blog review of my year, and, looking back, despite all the difficulties it has been a pretty good one – so here goes.

 

Book events

 

Book launch for Whiskey, Tango Foxtrot by Gina Kirkham

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

In July, I toddled off to Waterstones in Liverpool to attend the launch for Gina’s second book, featuring the exploits of  PC Mavis Upton. I’d attended the launch for her first book, the hilarious (and yet also touching)  Handcuffs, Truncheon and A Polyester Thong, in May 2017.  On that occasion I finally had the chance to meet the Urbane author I’d been having my funny, offbeat and sometimes surreal late night Twitter conversations with. Since then, we’ve met up again and had many more funny and offbeat conversations (thankfully not always in the public domain) and I’m happy to now call her a friend. I was therefore delighted to see Gina taking the stage again to bring book two into the world. Having ‘sold out’ of books at the previous event, I was pleased to see that Waterstones had learnt their lesson, and Gina was kept busy signing books to the delight of the once again, supportive and impressive turn out. The books are as funny and warm as Gina, and I wholeheartedly recommend them. Sadly the review of the first and reading of the second fell victim to my annus horribilis  but that will be rectified.

SV202389

 

Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – Harrogate 

A busy month for me in July as I also attended the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.  This was my second attendance having loved it so much last year. I’ve already written up my review of this so rather than repeat, I’ll share the link and leave you with a mini montage of my memories. Needless to say, my accommodation is already booked for next year. My OH will be putting in an appearance next time and my friend Sheila will be coming along with another friend, so the more, the merrier!

 

East Riding Festival of Words

While the festival took place over several days and venues, my interest was in the Dead Good Day series of panels which took place in Beverley on 20th Oct. The day was hosted by crime author (and fellow Hullensian) Nick Quantrill, another one who didn’t move quick enough to escape the Five on Friday net! The day was a brilliant series of panels featuring some of my favourite’s namely Stephen Booth, Doug Johnstone, Luca Veste, Stuart Neville, Chris Brookmyre & Marisa Haetzman (aka Ambrose Parry), Val McDermid, Mark Billingham and David Mark. If that wasn’t enough the day was rounded off in the evening by a concert featuring the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers. A fabulous day for what has to have been the best £25 I’ve ever spent (just don’t mention the book purchases). In addition I got to meet up again with the lovely Anne Cater and her partner.

 

A Year of Firsts

My First Author/Blogger Meet Up

While I’ve clearly met other authors and bloggers at various book events, I’d never attended an officially designated author/blogger meet up. So in September, putting on my bravest face and wearing my ‘I’m not nervous at all’ attitude I caught the trains to Stoke on Trent. Here I met up with my fellow attendees at the event hosted by Kerry Ann Parsons and Steph Lawrence at the North Stafford Hotel. Needless to say it was a lovely event. I met some old friends which settled my nerves and enabled me to present a fairly normal and competent face to my new ones –  although maybe they should be the judge of that.  Happily the next one is already in my diary for the New Year. Should you fancy joining us it’s at the same venue on 16th February between 11am and 4pm if you want to drop in.

 

My First Book Cover Quote 

This year saw my first ever cover quote – I was delighted, excited and proud in equal measure. Thank you Liza Perrat for the privilege and trusting me to grace the cover of The Swooping Magpie. It’s a great read and you can read my review here.

Swooping Magpie

First ‘interview’ appearance on another blog

Many thanks to Caryl over on Mrs Bloggs’ Books who kindly invited me to a special Christmas Afternoon Tea. I’ve never featured on anyone else’s blog before (other than a blog post link) so it was really special to be asked. It made a change to reveal my thoughts on something other than books (or my health) and I really appreciated the invite.

 

Blogging Highlights

 

Nomination and Award in Annual Bloggers Bash Awards

I was surprised, not to mention, delighted to have been nominated for the award of Most Inspirational Blog in the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards. When the results were announced I was even more delighted to have been awarded second place. As my friend and fellow (far more prolific) blogger Alison Drew came first, it was an honour. Many thanks to all who voted for me.

 

Most viewed blog post

My most viewed blog post (not just this year, but ever) was a piece I posted in June called Privilege vs Entitlement. It came about as a result of various episodes of blogger bashing (not to me personally) and a week of various blogger related Twitter storms. I normally scroll by and don’t get involved, but just occasionally I feel the need to vent and this was one of them. It wasn’t planned, it was an off the cuff response typed up while I waited for my friend to arrive before we went off the theatre that night, then away on a reading retreat for the following two days. It clearly hit a nerve and the number of positive responses it invoked was heartening. Less so was the thought that perhaps I’m wasting my time planning and preparing posts lol.

 

Favourite personal achievement

This was an easy one, it has to be the growing success of my First on Friday features. When the first one went live in August 2017, it had been the result of producing a Q&A that was a little bit different. I didn’t anticipate that it would still be running well over a year later, and for the past 3 months become a weekly rather than fortnightly feature. My biggest excitement had to be asking Linwood Barclay and not being turned down. The fact that he did a ‘special’ mini version for me was just epic. Having so many great crime authors at Harrogate agree to take part and actually follow through has also helped to grow the audience for the feature. I know many people now look forward to reading the varied responses and it has introduced readers to new authors which is a result. I shall be endeavouring to maintain the feature and have a list of authors in the pipeline, so here’s to 2019!

My Reading Year

As previously mentioned this will be a pictorial shout out to the lovely books I’ve read this year. All of them worth a read.

Book Subscriptions

October saw the demise of the Bookchoice subscription service offering both e-book and audio book choices. This had been a fantastic service offering excellent choices and value for money. From the beginning I’d never really understood how the model could work as I didn’t see where the money was being made. Perhaps it needed a much bigger take up for the economics to pan out, I see that it’s still operational in other areas. It was good while it lasted and left me looking at other ways to part with my money. This year saw me take up two new (to me) book subscription services.

 

The Unbound Reading Club

This was a new initiative launched in the summer by Unbound, a crowdfunded publishing initiative. Essentially they are a  team of publishers, writers, editors, designers – you name it – helping people bring their ideas to life. They take care of the whole process, from manuscript editing to shipping the first editions. As a reader I’ve previously looked at their website and considered helping an author achieve their dream of having a book published. What has normally stopped me, is the number of available projects and sheer indecision. Then along comes the Unbound Reading Club and problem solved. This is a feature that allows procrastinators like me, to help make books happen without having to make a direct choice.

The cost is a £25 per year and for that you’ll receive a free e-book per month. The selection so far has been interesting and varied and I’m more than happy with the choices. A fuller review of the service can be found here. Meanwhile, have a look at the books I’ve received so far.

 

Reading in Heels

The Reading in Heels subscription box costs £10 per month (plus p&p of £2.40) and comprises a paperback book, the expert edit and membership of the digital book club. Rather controversially they chose to sell their service by telling subscribers to expect the best in contemporary, literary fiction – never chick lit or crime… This of course was not well received in some quarters, but it was one of the reasons I decided to subscribe. However, before you all take umbrage, it’s precisely because I do read crime and chick lit (though I hate the term) that I chose to subscribe. By avoiding these genres I felt this service was more likely to offer me something I hadn’t already bought. The expert edit is a monthly surprise of  3-4 beauty and lifestyle treats. This latter is a little extra that I really look forward to, and really adds to the value of the box.

I’ve not done formal unboxings of the offerings so far, but fellow blogger Karen, at Books and Me! has so I’ve linked to her posts for October, November and December to give you an idea of what to expect.

 

 

So that was an over view of my year. If you’re still with me so far, many thanks – I think you deserve a stiff drink now! I very much appreciate all the love and support my little blog has recieved over the year. I used to think of myself as a reader that wrote reviews and not a blogger, but as the reviews have been few and far between and people still keep coming back, maybe I can call myself a blogger after all. It puts me in some very good company and it’s a happy place to be.

All that’s left is to wish you all the very best for the coming year. I’m sure it won’t be without it’s challenges or opportunities (depending on your viewpoint)  – damn I promised not to mention Brexit, but whatever it brings I hope it includes good health, happiness and lots of reading!

clipart-happy-new-year-77915.jpg

 

 

Advertisements

It’s beginning to look like … the second festive update.

divider-christmas-divider-ljgayq-clipart

This is the second update to the blogs  posted on 7th and  15th November. New books added appear at the top.

If this is the first time you’ve seen this feature the rules for inclusion are simple, basically they have to be books that I am likely to read myself. I’ve also excluded short stories and novellas – I’ve made the cut off point 150 pages. I’ve also imposed a price limit, not least because I’d be here until Christmas if I included everything. So nothing listed was over £1.99 as this post went to press.

The items appear in random order, so don’t apply value judgements to those appearing earlier, or later in the list. I could, I suppose, have put them in alphabetical author order but hey, I didn’t – I like to live dangerously for an ex librarian. The reality is, I’m juggling several wish lists on Amazon to try to keep track of last year’s titles, this year’s additions and one for possibles that need monitoring for price drops so I couldn’t cope with the added complication.

I appreciate there will be titles that enter the above criteria, just as some others will fall out, so expect an update at some stage.

So sit back, enjoy and please remember that Kindle prices change all the time, so just double-check the price before clicking.

christmas-graphics-and-animated-gifs-elewwq-clipart

A Festive Reading Round Up for 2018

(click on the image for a non-affiliated buying link)

Items added 24th November 2018

 

A Merry Little ChristmasSecond Chance CafeSeven Days of Us

 

The Little Church by the SeaThe Christmas Stocking and Other StoriesIt_s a Wonderful Night

 

The Best Little Christmas ShopChristmas at Liberty'sFour Weddings And A White Christmas

Christmas at Strand HouseWinter_s Children

Items added 15th November 2018

 

The Winter That Made Us

 

In the Bleak MidwinterA Wartime ChristmasMolly's Christmas Orphans

 

A Christmas WishHello from the GillespiesWish Upon A Christmas Cake

 

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter WonderlandA Daughter's Christmas WishChristmas at Borteen Bay

 

Married by ChristmasIt Must Have Been the MistletoeTwelve Days of Christmas

 

Christmas on the CoastThe Christmas CottageI'll Be Home for Christmas

 

Christmas at The Chocolate Pot CaféCharlee and the Chocolate ShopSaving Mr Scrooge

 

 

Original listing from 7th November

 

Coming Home to the Comfort Food CaféA Ration Book Christmasmarry-me-tomorrow-by-carla-burgess

 

A Christmas Day at the OfficeSleigh Bells in the SnowA Christmas to Remember

 

 

A Cottage in the CountryThe Parisian Christmas Bake OffA Little Sugar, A Lot of Love

 

Snow Angel CoveA Town Called ChristmasThe Great Christmas Knit Off

 

A Winters ChildNever Kiss a Man in a Christmas JumperA Miracle on Hope Street

 

The Christmas WishThe Little Christmas Teashop of Second ChancesA Dad of His Own

 

No One Cancels ChristmasOne Magical ChristmasA Special Kind of Advent

 

Snowflakes Over Holly CoveSnowflakes over Moon CottageThe Finch Family Christmas Holiday 8

 

Watch for Me at ChristmasOne Day in DecemberWhat Happened to Us

 

A Winter Beneath the StarsAnother Day in Winter‘Tis the Season to be Single

 

Winter Without YouThe Snow GlobeThe Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove

 

Coming Home to Maple CottageJust For ChristmasDreaming of Christmas

 

One Winter's DayHappily Ever After at the Dog & DuckA Little Christmas Charm

 

Covent Garden in the SnowChristmas at the Little Cottage on the HillChristmas At Snowdrop Cottage

 

It Started With ChristmasChristmas on Lily Pond LaneCupcakes for Christmas

 

Christmas at Mistletoe CoveChristmas at Butterfly CoveChristmas at Lilac Cottage

 

We'll Always Have ChristmasChristmas Under a Cranberry SkyLove and Lies at The Village Christmas Shop

 

Christmas at The Little Knitting BoxLove at the Northern LightsA Cosy Candlelit Christmas

 

Christmas at the Little Village BakeryWhat Happens at ChristmasComing home for Christmas

 

One Christmas Kiss in Notting HillChristmas at the Log Fire CabinA Proper Family Christmas

 

Ninety Days to ChristmasSnowed in at The Little Duck Pond CafeChristmas at The Little Duck Pond Cafe

 

A Second Christmas WishSnowflakes and Mistletoe at the Inglenook InnAll I Want for Christmas

 

Bella's Christmas Bake OffSnowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second ChancesSnow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake

 

A Gift from the Comfort Food CaféChristmas Wishes and Mistletoe KissesLittle Christmas Faith

 

Song for St NicholasChristmas at Conwenna CoveChristmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove

 

Christmas at the Lucky Parrot Garden CentreChristmas on the Little Cornish IslesCosy Cottage Cafe

 

Little Bit of Christmas MagicOne Day in DecemberThat Christmas Feeling

 

Christmas at the Dancing DuckJo and Clara's Christmas CountdownJessica's Christmas Kiss

 

Christmas at Bay Tree CottageBeachside ChristmasProper Family Christmas

 

Canal Boat Cafe ChristmasCosy Christmas Chocolate ShopChristmas at the Second Chance Chocolate Shop

 

From Paris with Love this ChristmasChristmas ProjectFairy Tale for Christmas

 

I won't be Home for ChristmasChristmas for OneVery Merry Manhattan Christmas

 

Christmas CrackerChristmas Cake CafeMake a Christmas Wish

 

Cardiff Christmas ClubSilver Bells Christmas PantomimeA Christmas Romance

 

Christmas at Mistletoe Cottageone-christmas-in-parischristmas-spirit-by-susan-buchanan

 

cold-feet-at-christmas-by-debbie-johnsoncoras-christmas-kiss-by-alison-maychristmas-at-the-little-wedding-shop-by-jane-linfoot346_

 

lizzies-christmas-escapeall-i-want-for-christmaschristmas-promise

 

yorkshire-christmasSleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas FairMince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market

 

Little Village ChristmasWinter at the Dog and DuckReturn of the Christmas Spirit

 

Together for ChristmasNo-one Ever Has Sex on Christmas DaySnowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel

 

A Cotswold Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like … the first festive update.

divider-christmas-divider-ljgayq-clipart

This is the first update to the blog post posted on 7 November. New books added appear at the top.

If this is the first time you’ve seen this feature the rules for inclusion are simple, basically they have to be books that I am likely to read myself. I’ve also excluded short stories and novellas – I’ve made the cut off point 150 pages. I’ve also imposed a price limit, not least because I’d be here until Christmas if I included everything. So nothing listed was over £1.99 as this post went to press.

The items appear in random order, so don’t apply value judgements to those appearing earlier, or later in the list. I could, I suppose, have put them in alphabetical author order but hey, I didn’t – I like to live dangerously for an ex librarian. The reality is, I’m juggling several wish lists on Amazon to try to keep track of last year’s titles, this year’s additions and one for possibles that need monitoring for price drops so I couldn’t cope with the added complication.

I appreciate there will be titles that enter the above criteria, just as some others will fall out, so expect an update at some stage.

So sit back, enjoy and please remember that Kindle prices change all the time, so just double-check the price before clicking.

christmas-graphics-and-animated-gifs-elewwq-clipart

A Festive Reading Round Up for 2018

(click on the image for a non-affiliated buying link)

 

Items added 15th November 2018

 

The Winter That Made Us

 

In the Bleak MidwinterA Wartime ChristmasMolly's Christmas Orphans

 

A Christmas WishHello from the GillespiesWish Upon A Christmas Cake

 

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter WonderlandA Daughter's Christmas WishChristmas at Borteen Bay

 

Married by ChristmasIt Must Have Been the MistletoeTwelve Days of Christmas

 

Christmas on the CoastThe Christmas CottageI'll Be Home for Christmas

 

Christmas at The Chocolate Pot CaféCharlee and the Chocolate ShopSaving Mr Scrooge

 

 

Original listing from 7th November

 

Coming Home to the Comfort Food CaféA Ration Book Christmasmarry-me-tomorrow-by-carla-burgess

 

A Christmas Day at the OfficeSleigh Bells in the SnowA Christmas to Remember

 

 

A Cottage in the CountryThe Parisian Christmas Bake OffA Little Sugar, A Lot of Love

 

Snow Angel CoveA Town Called ChristmasThe Great Christmas Knit Off

 

A Winters ChildNever Kiss a Man in a Christmas JumperA Miracle on Hope Street

 

The Christmas WishThe Little Christmas Teashop of Second ChancesA Dad of His Own

 

No One Cancels ChristmasOne Magical ChristmasA Special Kind of Advent

 

Snowflakes Over Holly CoveSnowflakes over Moon CottageThe Finch Family Christmas Holiday 8

 

Watch for Me at ChristmasOne Day in DecemberWhat Happened to Us

 

A Winter Beneath the StarsAnother Day in Winter‘Tis the Season to be Single

 

Winter Without YouThe Snow GlobeThe Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove

 

Coming Home to Maple CottageJust For ChristmasDreaming of Christmas

 

One Winter's DayHappily Ever After at the Dog & DuckA Little Christmas Charm

 

Covent Garden in the SnowChristmas at the Little Cottage on the HillChristmas At Snowdrop Cottage

 

It Started With ChristmasChristmas on Lily Pond LaneCupcakes for Christmas

 

Christmas at Mistletoe CoveChristmas at Butterfly CoveChristmas at Lilac Cottage

 

We'll Always Have ChristmasChristmas Under a Cranberry SkyLove and Lies at The Village Christmas Shop

 

Christmas at The Little Knitting BoxLove at the Northern LightsA Cosy Candlelit Christmas

 

Christmas at the Little Village BakeryWhat Happens at ChristmasComing home for Christmas

 

One Christmas Kiss in Notting HillChristmas at the Log Fire CabinA Proper Family Christmas

 

Ninety Days to ChristmasSnowed in at The Little Duck Pond CafeChristmas at The Little Duck Pond Cafe

 

A Second Christmas WishSnowflakes and Mistletoe at the Inglenook InnAll I Want for Christmas

 

Bella's Christmas Bake OffSnowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second ChancesSnow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake

 

A Gift from the Comfort Food CaféChristmas Wishes and Mistletoe KissesLittle Christmas Faith

 

Song for St NicholasChristmas at Conwenna CoveChristmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove

 

Christmas at the Lucky Parrot Garden CentreChristmas on the Little Cornish IslesCosy Cottage Cafe

 

Little Bit of Christmas MagicOne Day in DecemberThat Christmas Feeling

 

Christmas at the Dancing DuckJo and Clara's Christmas CountdownJessica's Christmas Kiss

 

Christmas at Bay Tree CottageBeachside ChristmasProper Family Christmas

 

Canal Boat Cafe ChristmasCosy Christmas Chocolate ShopChristmas at the Second Chance Chocolate Shop

 

From Paris with Love this ChristmasChristmas ProjectFairy Tale for Christmas

 

I won't be Home for ChristmasChristmas for OneVery Merry Manhattan Christmas

 

Christmas CrackerChristmas Cake CafeMake a Christmas Wish

 

Cardiff Christmas ClubSilver Bells Christmas PantomimeA Christmas Romance

 

Christmas at Mistletoe Cottageone-christmas-in-parischristmas-spirit-by-susan-buchanan

 

cold-feet-at-christmas-by-debbie-johnsoncoras-christmas-kiss-by-alison-maychristmas-at-the-little-wedding-shop-by-jane-linfoot346_

 

lizzies-christmas-escapeall-i-want-for-christmaschristmas-promise

 

yorkshire-christmasSleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas FairMince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market

 

Little Village ChristmasWinter at the Dog and DuckReturn of the Christmas Spirit

 

Together for ChristmasNo-one Ever Has Sex on Christmas DaySnowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel

 

A Cotswold Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like … a festive reading round up 2018.

 

divider-christmas-divider-ljgayq-clipart

I know, I know, it’s only early November, and trust me, I’m normally the first to object to the C word being uttered in my household before December 1st. However, even I have to acknowledge that in the world of books, that word normally makes an early appearance. How else would readers get their sticky mitts on their wintry, festive reads in time. So in the spirit of the forthcoming season here’s my round-up.

The festive reading list first appeared in 2016 and proved to be my most popular blog post, as the same happened last year, I’d be daft not to do it again.

The rules for inclusion are simple, basically they have to be books that I am likely to read myself. I’ve also excluded short stories and novellas – I’ve made the cut off point 150 pages. I’ve also imposed a price limit, not least because I’d be here until Christmas if I included everything. So nothing listed was over £1.99 as this post went to press.

The items appear in random order, so don’t apply value judgements to those appearing earlier, or later in the list. I could, I suppose, have put them in alphabetical author order but hey, I didn’t – I like to live dangerously for an ex librarian. The reality is, I’m juggling several wish lists on Amazon to try to keep track of last year’s titles, this year’s additions and one for possibles that need monitoring for price drops so I couldn’t cope with the added complication.

I appreciate there will be titles that enter the above criteria, just as some others will fall out, so expect an update at some stage.

So sit back, enjoy and please remember that Kindle prices change all the time, so just double-check the price before clicking.

christmas-graphics-and-animated-gifs-elewwq-clipart

A Festive Reading Round Up for 2018

(click on the image for a non-affiliated buying link)

 

 

Coming Home to the Comfort Food CaféA Ration Book Christmasmarry-me-tomorrow-by-carla-burgess

 

A Christmas Day at the OfficeSleigh Bells in the SnowA Christmas to Remember

 

 

A Cottage in the CountryThe Parisian Christmas Bake OffA Little Sugar, A Lot of Love

 

Snow Angel CoveA Town Called ChristmasThe Great Christmas Knit Off

 

A Winters ChildNever Kiss a Man in a Christmas JumperA Miracle on Hope Street

 

The Christmas WishThe Little Christmas Teashop of Second ChancesA Dad of His Own

 

No One Cancels ChristmasOne Magical ChristmasA Special Kind of Advent

 

Snowflakes Over Holly CoveSnowflakes over Moon CottageThe Finch Family Christmas Holiday 8

 

Watch for Me at ChristmasOne Day in DecemberWhat Happened to Us

 

A Winter Beneath the StarsAnother Day in Winter‘Tis the Season to be Single

 

Winter Without YouThe Snow GlobeThe Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove

 

Coming Home to Maple CottageJust For ChristmasDreaming of Christmas

 

One Winter's DayHappily Ever After at the Dog & DuckA Little Christmas Charm

 

Covent Garden in the SnowChristmas at the Little Cottage on the HillChristmas At Snowdrop Cottage

 

It Started With ChristmasChristmas on Lily Pond LaneCupcakes for Christmas

 

Christmas at Mistletoe CoveChristmas at Butterfly CoveChristmas at Lilac Cottage

 

We'll Always Have ChristmasChristmas Under a Cranberry SkyLove and Lies at The Village Christmas Shop

 

Christmas at The Little Knitting BoxLove at the Northern LightsA Cosy Candlelit Christmas

 

Christmas at the Little Village BakeryWhat Happens at ChristmasComing home for Christmas

 

One Christmas Kiss in Notting HillChristmas at the Log Fire CabinA Proper Family Christmas

 

Ninety Days to ChristmasSnowed in at The Little Duck Pond CafeChristmas at The Little Duck Pond Cafe

 

A Second Christmas WishSnowflakes and Mistletoe at the Inglenook InnAll I Want for Christmas

 

Bella's Christmas Bake OffSnowflakes, Iced Cakes and Second ChancesSnow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake

 

A Gift from the Comfort Food CaféChristmas Wishes and Mistletoe KissesLittle Christmas Faith

 

Song for St NicholasChristmas at Conwenna CoveChristmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove

 

Christmas at the Lucky Parrot Garden CentreChristmas on the Little Cornish IslesCosy Cottage Cafe

 

Little Bit of Christmas MagicOne Day in DecemberThat Christmas Feeling

 

Christmas at the Dancing DuckJo and Clara's Christmas CountdownJessica's Christmas Kiss

 

Christmas at Bay Tree CottageBeachside ChristmasProper Family Christmas

 

Canal Boat Cafe ChristmasCosy Christmas Chocolate ShopChristmas at the Second Chance Chocolate Shop

 

From Paris with Love this ChristmasChristmas ProjectFairy Tale for Christmas

 

I won't be Home for ChristmasChristmas for OneVery Merry Manhattan Christmas

 

Christmas CrackerChristmas Cake CafeMake a Christmas Wish

 

Cardiff Christmas ClubSilver Bells Christmas PantomimeA Christmas Romance

 

Christmas at Mistletoe Cottageone-christmas-in-parischristmas-spirit-by-susan-buchanan

 

cold-feet-at-christmas-by-debbie-johnsoncoras-christmas-kiss-by-alison-maychristmas-at-the-little-wedding-shop-by-jane-linfoot346_

 

lizzies-christmas-escapeall-i-want-for-christmaschristmas-promise

 

yorkshire-christmasSleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas FairMince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market

 

Little Village ChristmasWinter at the Dog and DuckReturn of the Christmas Spirit

 

Together for ChristmasNo-one Ever Has Sex on Christmas DaySnowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel

 

A Cotswold Christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Criminally Good (or should that be bad?) Harrogate Book Haul @TheakstonsCrime

SV202467

After Harrogate last year, I returned home with more books than I anticipated and this year vowed not to do the same – ha! that went well. On Saturday I was shopping in Harrogate for a light weight re-usable bag I could take my clothes home in, as my wheel-able suitcase was full of books! As it transpired my suitcase got its own lift home, which was just as well as I’d never have juggled my case, bag, rucksack and walking stick on the train! So thanks to Robert/Bob Barker for playing chauffeur for me.

Where did my plans go so wrong? Well anyone who follows my Book Hauling posts will know it’s been getting seriously out of hand – wait until you’ve seen this month’s haul (aside from these). So it was never going to be easy. In addition I think I’ve let my dark side slip over the past year. As well as not reading at all for a good 6 months, when I did read, not surprisingly it was lighter, cheery optimistic stuff. When I got to Harrogate I realised I’d been out of the loop – was I the only person who hadn’t heard of  Will Dean? Well actually no, there was my non crime reading friend Sheila of course, but then I had to point out Lee Child to her. So while I’m not the speediest reader, I could usually be relied upon to have the book on my Kindle at least, even if I hadn’t read it. But I realised there were so many books that I’d missed, that as well as the many freebies, I also had a mini spending spree. While I did pick up some Kindle bargains, the rest were all in hard copy so no hiding those from the OH. It’s amazing how handing him a signed ‘Jack Reacher’ can smooth the way. That and the fact that my suitcase had already arrived before me so I’d been rumbled. So sit back, grab a cuppa and see if there’s anything you fancy or might have been missed. For those more hard-core readers, sorry you might be disappointed, I might be re-exploring my darker side, but I’m still a wimp at heart.

 

Pre-publication Goodies 

 

To Catch a KillerTo Catch a Killer by Emma Kavanagh (due 24th January 2019)

I’ve been watching you DS Alice Parr.

I saw you trying to save the poor young woman you found in the park.

The woman I tried to kill.

I’ve been waiting for you to find her family. To find someone who cares about her.

But you can’t can you?

You’ve never had a case like this.

I know everything about you. You know nothing about me.

Even though I’m the man you’re looking for.

And you will never catch me..

 

No Way OutNo Way Out by Cara Hunter (due 20th Dec 2018)

DID YOU SEE ANYTHING ON THE NIGHT THE ESMOND FAMILY WERE MURDERED?

From the author of CLOSE TO HOME and IN THE DARK comes the third pulse-pounding DI Fawley crime thriller.

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked.

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.

Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?

Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.

Because this fire wasn’t an accident.

It was murder.

 

The Trailing SpouseThe Trailing Spouse by Jo Furniss (due 14th August)

Do you really want to know the truth?

Amanda Bonham moved halfway around the world to be with the man she loves. Although expat life in Singapore can be difficult, Edward Bonham is a dream husband and a doting father to his teenage daughter, Josie.

But when their maid dies in an apparent suicide—and Amanda discovers the woman was pregnant and hiding a stash of drugs prescribed to Edward—she can’t help but wonder if her perfect husband has a fatal flaw. And if he can’t resist temptation under their own roof, what does he get up to when he travels?

Camille Kemble also has questions for Edward. Recently returned to Singapore, Camille is determined to resolve a family mystery. Amid a jumble of faded childhood memories, she keeps seeing Edward’s handsome face. And she wants to know why.

For one woman, the search for answers threatens everything she has. For another, it’s the key to all she lost. Both will follow his trail of secrets into the darkness to find the truth.

 

Freefall.jpgFreefall by Jessica Barry (due 31st January 2019)

Surviving the plane crash is only the beginning for Allison.

The life that she’s built for herself – her perfect fiancé, their world of luxury – has disappeared in the blink of an eye. Now she must run, not only to escape the dark secrets in her past, but to outwit the man who is stalking her every move.

On the other side of the country, Allison’s mother is desperate for news of her daughter, who is missing, presumed dead. Maggie refuses to accept that she could have lost her only child and sets out to discover the truth.

Mother and daughter must fight – for survival and to find their way through a dark web of lies and back to one another, before it’s too late…

 

The Whisper ManThe Whisper Man by Alex North (due 13 June 2019)

If you leave a door half-open, soon you’ll hear the whispers spoken…

Still devastated after the loss of his wife, Tom Kennedy and his young son Jake move to the sleepy village of Featherbank, looking for a fresh start.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago a twisted serial killer abducted and murdered five young boys. Until he was finally caught, the killer was known as ‘The Whisper Man’.

Of course, an old crime need not trouble Tom and Jake as they try to settle in to their new home. Except that now another young boy has gone missing. And then Jake begins acting strangely.

He says he hears a whispering at his window…

 

She Lies in WaitShe Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge (due 10 January 2019)

Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust?

“A dark, deep, terrific thriller and a scorching portrait of friendship and its betrayal” Nicci French

On a hot July night in 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and young Aurora Jackson is dazzled to be allowed to tag along.

Thirty years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens is called to the scene, but he already knows what’s waiting for him: Aurora Jackson, found at long last.

But that’s not all. The friends have all maintained their innocence, but the body is found in a hideaway only the six of them knew about.

It seems the killer has always lurked very close to home…

 

Giveaways and Wins

 

The Old YouThe Old You by Louise Voss

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface … and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.
But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

 

 

The Tattoo ThiefThe Tattoo Thief by Alison Belsham

A policeman on his first murder case
A tattoo artist with a deadly secret
And a twisted serial killer sharpening his blades to kill again…

When Brighton tattoo artist Marni Mullins discovers a flayed body, newly-promoted DI Francis Sullivan needs her help. There’s a serial killer at large, slicing tattoos from his victims’ bodies while they’re still alive. Marni knows the tattooing world like the back of her hand, but has her own reasons to distrust the police. So when she identifies the killer’s next target, will she tell Sullivan or go after the Tattoo Thief alone?

 

The PartyThe Party by Lisa Hall

When Rachel wakes up in a strange room, the morning after a neighbour’s party, she has no memory of what happened the night before. Why did her husband leave her alone at the party? Did they row? Why are Rachel’s arms so bruised? And why are her neighbours and friends so vague about what really happened?

Little by little, Rachel pieces together the devastating events that took place in a friend’s house, at a party where she should have been safe. Everyone remembers what happened that night differently, and everyone has something to hide. But someone knows the truth about what happened to Rachel. And she’s determined to find them.

 

Presumed DeadPresumed Dead by Mason Cross

‘What do you know about the Devil Mountain Killer?’

THEN

Adeline Connor was the Devil Mountain Killer’s final victim. After she was gunned down, the murderer disappeared and the killing spree ended.

NOW

Carter Blake has been hired to do what he does best: to find someone. But this time he’s hunting a dead girl – Adeline Connor’s brother is convinced she’s still alive.

But this town doesn’t want an outsider digging up old business. And as Blake gets deeper into the case, it starts to become clear that the murders didn’t ju st stop fifteen years ago.

The killer is on the hunt again.

 

The Killing HabitThe Killing Habit by Mark Billingham

How do you catch a killer who is yet to kill?

We all know the signs. Cruelty, lack of empathy, the killing of animals. Now, pets on suburban London streets are being stalked by a shadow, and it could just be the start.

DI Tom Thorne knows the psychological profile of such offenders all too well, so when he is tasked with catching a notorious killer of domestic cats, he sees the chance to stop a series of homicides before they happen.

Others are less convinced, so once more, Thorne relies on DI Nicola Tanner to help him solve the case, before the culprit starts hunting people. It’s a journey that brings them face to face with a killer who will tear their lives apart.

 

Savages, The WeddingSavages:The Wedding by Sabri Louatah

A Saturday in May. Paris.

It’s the eve of the French presidential elections – ‘The Election of the Century’ say the newspaper headlines – and Chaouch, the nation’s first Arab candidate, has victory in his sights. It has been a long campaign, and with his wife Esther and daughter Jasmine by his side, he spends the remaining hours with close advisors in a hotel in Nimes. Much of the dinner table chatter revolves around Jasmine’s boyfriend; Fouad Nerrouche, a well-known actor with the same Algerian origins as her father, who has just publicly endorsed Chaouch’s candidacy. However shallow it may seem, it’s difficult to ignore the influence of celebrity support in this complex and unpredictable race . . .

The same day. Saint-Etienne.

The Nerrouche family is frantically preparing for a grand wedding, and Fouad himself is there to help out. But younger cousin Krim – who has recently lost his job – is becoming increasingly agitated, and no one knows why. As the day goes on, it becomes clear that the cousin’s problems go far deeper than unemployment. Krim has been stealing from a local gang leader and after being discovered, found himself indebted to his powerful cousin, Nazir – Fouad’s brother. Nazir is a very shady figure, and is heavily involved in a dark underworld of crime. Together, their plans will cause Fouad’s two very different worlds to meet in a way no one would have dared to imagine. Within a few hours, the threads start to unravel, and the collision between the destiny of a family and the hopes of a country becomes inevitable.

 

Or the Bull Kills YouOr the Bull Kills You by Jason Webster

Either you kill the bull, or the bull kills you – traditional proverb.

Chief Inspector Max Cámara hates bullfighting but one hot afternoon in Valencia he has to replace his boss, judging a festival corrida that stars Spain’s most famous young matador. That night, he is summoned back to the bullring where the young matador’s dead body now lies, naked and mutilated.

As the city prepares for Fallas, the five day festival of fireworks and celebrations, and the politicians work feverishly towards an election, Cámara hunts down his prey through the city’s streets and bars. But as he follows the trail of death, money, corruption and sex in search of the killer, he must also battle his own demons and desires…

 

Then She Was GoneThen She was Gone by Lisa Jewell

She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. 
She had her whole life ahead of her. 
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.

Ten years on, Laurel has never given up hope of finding Ellie. And then she meets a charming and charismatic stranger who sweeps her off her feet.

But what really takes her breath away is when she meets his nine-year-old daughter.

Because his daughter is the image of Ellie.

Now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.

What really happened to Ellie? And who still has secrets to hide?

 

Insidious IntentInsidious Intent by Val McDermid

‘Murdered people don’t kill themselves . . .’

A quiet night on a country road. The stillness shattered by a car engulfed in flames, and a burned body discovered in the driver’s seat. As the investigation unfolds, DCI Carol Jordan and psychological profiler Tony Hill quickly realise that this is more than just a tragic accident. And so begins the hunt for a truly terrifying killer, someone who believes he is invisible, untraceable and untouchable.

As other victims are found to have met the same terrible fate, and with more women at risk, Tony and Carol are drawn into a dark and twisted web of fear and revenge that will force them to question their own ideas of justice . . .

 

Book purchases

 

The Twenty-ThreeThe Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay

The day begins like any other Saturday – a shower, coffee, breakfast. But suddenly, all hell breaks loose in the town of Promise Falls. People are dying in the street – the hospital and emergency services are overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Is it mass food poisoning, a virus, or something more sinister? Has someone, rather than something, caused this?

Detective Barry Duckworth is already investigating two murders and an explosion at the town’s drive-in. He starts to wonder if these crimes and the new attacks are connected to the mysterious incidents in Promise Falls involving the number twenty-three.

But who is sending these deadly messages, and how can they be stopped?

 

Those We Left BehindThose We Left Behind by Stuart Neville

DCI Serena Flanagan is forced to confront a disturbing case from her past: the murder conviction of a 12-year-old-boy who has just been released from prison

DCI Serena Flanagan hasn’t heard the boy’s name in years.

Not since the blood on the wall and the body in the bedroom.

Not since she listened as he confessed to brutally murdering his foster father.

But now Ciaran Devine is out of prison and back in her life. And so is his brother, Thomas – the brother that Flanagan always suspected of hiding something.

When Ciaran’s probation officer comes Flanagan with fresh fears about the Devines, the years of lies begin to unravel, setting a deadly chain of events in motion.

 

The LostThe Lost by Mari Hannah

‘He was her child. The only one she’d ever have. It would kill her to learn that he was missing.’

Alex arrives home from holiday to find that her ten-year-old son Daniel has disappeared.

It’s the first case together for Northumbria CID officers David Stone and Frankie Oliver.

Stone has returned to his roots with fifteen years’ experience in the Met, whereas Oliver is local, a third generation copper with a lot to prove, and a secret that’s holding her back.

But as the investigation unfolds, they realise the family’s betrayal goes deeper than anyone suspected. This isn’t just a missing persons case. Stone and Oliver are hunting a killer.

 

Game Point (DCI Bennett Book 4)Game Point by Malcom Hollingdrake

DCI Bennett faces the most harrowing case of his career. A psychopath, who escaped capture, is hell-bent on revenge and executes a series of events that will not only impact on Bennett physically but will have emotional and professional consequences.

A body is found with its fingers amputated, then an investigative journalist, embroiled in the pornography and drugs scene, is murdered.

Bennett’s team is faced with some baffling evidence. Hatpins and bicycle spokes become pivotal to the inquiry but the police struggle to connect the evidence.

It is only when a Detective Sergeant from the team is kidnapped that Bennett realises that he is the true target.

Can Bennett solve the case before it’s too late? How many people will he lose in the process?

 

Sleeping in the GroundSleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson

shocking mass murder occurs at a wedding in a small Dales church and a huge manhunt follows. Eventually, the shooter is run to ground and things take their inevitable course.

But Banks is plagued with doubts as to exactly what happened outside the church that day, and why. Struggling with the death of his first serious girlfriend and the return of profiler Jenny Fuller into his life, Banks feels the need to dig deeper into the murders, and as he does so, he uncovers forensic and psychological puzzles that lead him to the past secrets that might just provide the answers he is looking for.

When the surprising truth becomes clear, it is almost too late.

 

The Midnight LineThe Midnight Line by Lee Child

Jack Reacher is having a bad day.
It would be a dumb idea to make it worse. 
Reacher sees a West Point class ring in a pawn shop window. It’s tiny. It’s a woman cadet’s graduation present to herself. Why would she give it up? Reacher was a West Pointer too, and he knows what she went through to get it.
All he wants is to find the woman.
He’ll have to go through bikers, cops, crooks, and low-life muscle.
If she’s ok, he’ll walk away. If she’s not … he’ll stop at nothing.
Best advice: stay out of his way.

 

Kindle Purchases

 

The Perfect FriendThe Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite

She’ll do anything for you…

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.
My husband has left me.
My children won’t speak to me.
My friend Carrie is the only person I have.
She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.
She’d never do anything to let me down.
Would she?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page. Fans of Behind Closed DoorsSometimes I Lie, and The Girl on the Train will be captivated.

 

Still LifeStill Life by Louise Penny

The discovery of a dead body in the woods on Thanksgiving Weekend brings Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his colleagues from the Surete du Quebec to a small village in the Eastern Townships. Gamache cannot understand why anyone would want to deliberately kill well-loved artist Jane Neal, especially any of the residents of Three Pines – a place so free from crime it doesn’t even have its own police force.

But Gamache knows that evil is lurking somewhere behind the white picket fences and that, if he watches closely enough, Three Pines will start to give up its dark secrets…

 

No Further QuestionsNo Further Questions by Gillian McAllister

The police say she’s guilty.

She insists she’s innocent.

She’s your sister.

You loved her.

You trusted her.

But they say she killed your child.

Who do you believe?

 

Her Name Was RoseHer Name was Rose by Claire Allan

Her name was Rose. You watched her die. And her death has created a vacancy.

When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.

And then she makes a decision she can never take back.

Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?

But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.

 

I, WitnessI, Witness by Niki Mackay

They say I’m a murderer.

Six years ago, Kate Reynolds was found holding the body of her best friend; covered in blood, and clutching the knife that killed her.

I plead guilty.

Kate has been in prison ever since, but now her sentence is up. She is being released.

But the truth is, I didn’t do it.

There’s only one person who can help: Private Investigator Madison Attallee, the first officer on the scene all those years ago.

But uncovering the truth means catching a killer.

 

It Was HerIt Was Her by Mark Hill

Twenty years ago, Tatia was adopted into a well-off home where she seemed happy, settled. Then the youngest boy in the family dies in an accident, and she gets the blame.

Did she do it?

Tatia is cast out, away from her remaining adopted siblings Joel and Poppy. Now she yearns for a home to call her own. So when she see families going on holiday, leaving their beautiful homes empty, there seems no harm in living their lives while they are gone. But somehow, people keep ending up dead.

Did she kill them?

As bodies start to appear in supposedly safe neighbourhoods, DI Ray Drake and DS Flick Crowley race to find the thinnest of links between the victims. But Drake’s secret past is threatening to destroy everything.

 

ThirteenThirteen by Steve Cavanagh

‘To your knowledge, is there anything that would preclude you from serving on this jury?’

Murder wasn’t the hard part. It was just the start of the game.

Joshua Kane has been preparing for this moment his whole life. He’s done it before. But this is the big one.

This is the murder trial of the century. And Kane has killed to get the best seat in the house.

But there’s someone on his tail. Someone who suspects that the killer isn’t the man on trial.

Kane knows time is running out – he just needs to get to the conviction without being discovered.

 

The Devil's ClawThe Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman

Following a traumatic incident in London, Jennifer Dorey has returned to her childhood home in Guernsey, taking a job as a reporter at the local newspaper.

After the discovery of a drowned woman on a beach, she uncovers a pattern of similar deaths that have taken place over the past fifty years.

Together with DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, they follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to ‘Fritz’, the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier. His work, painstakingly executed, has so far gone undetected.

But with his identity about to be uncovered, the killer now has Jennifer in his sights.

 

Dark PinesDark Pines by Will Dean

An isolated Swedish town.

A deaf reporter terrified of nature.

A dense spruce forest overdue for harvest.

A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods.

It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together. Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings twenty years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.

 

Behind Her EyesBehind her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Louise

Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets…

David

Young, successful and charming – Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife…

Adele

Beautiful, elegant and sweet – Louise’s new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her.

But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks… Is David really the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears?
Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them?

 

Death In The WoodsDeath in the Woods by Bernie Steadman

Soon after DI Hellier returns home to Exeter under a cloud, the body of a talented young singer is found in the woods.

When her death reveals links to the boss of a recording studio, a predatory gang and a school music teacher, Hellier knows he has his work cut out.

Before any more innocent people are put in danger, Hellier will need to untangle the web of lies and work out which of many suspects are guilty of murder.

But will he solve the case in time?

 

A Fatal ObsessionA Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin

Oxford, 1960. There’s a murderer on the loose and two unlikely heroes are poised to solve the case.

Meet Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday – smart, enthusiastic and always underestimated.

In the hope of getting her out of the way, Trudy’s senior officer assigns her to help coroner Clement Ryder as he re-opens the case of a young woman’s death. She can’t believe her luck – she is actually going to be working on a real murder case.

Meanwhile, the rest of the police force are busy investigating a series of threats and murders in the local community, and Clement can’t help but feel it’s all linked.

As Trudy and Clement form an unlikely partnership, are they going to be the ones to solve these crimes before the murderer strikes again?

 

The Scent of GuiltThe Scent of Guilt by Tony J Forder

Twelve years after he left Peterborough under a cloud, DI Bliss returns to the city and the major crimes team. Having spent years policing organised crime, Bliss is plunged straight into the heart of a serial murder investigation.

Meanwhile, Penny Chandler has been promoted to DS and has been working in

London on the Met’s sexual crimes team. But when two rapes are reported on her old patch in Peterborough, Chandler volunteers to interview the victims.

Chandler joins the hunt for the attacker and soon notices a possible link between the rapes and Bliss’s murder investigation. Could the same man be responsible?

Just as both cases seem to stall, a call comes in from an ex-policeman who knows of unsolved cases in the USA with a similar MO. Bliss finds himself travelling to California to hunt for a killer whose reach may have stretched further than anyone could possibly imagine.

But in order to catch the murderer, Bliss must discover the killer’s motive. A motive which should have remained buried in the past…

 

If you made it this far, thanks and well done – you’ll probably need another cuppa now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Theakston Old Peculier Writing Festival, Harrogate 19-22 July 2018 @TheakstonsCrime

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I first ventured to Harrogate to tangle with the murder and mayhem of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. It’s been a hell of a year and I wasn’t always sure that I’d manage to attend this year, but Yorkshire grit and all that, meant I wouldn’t be giving up easily. The events of the last year has also made me a bit more gung-ho, so expect shameless fangirling and some exciting news for fans of Five on Friday.

Thursday 19th July

This year I was accompanied by my friend Sheila, who is not a crime reader (apart from Agatha Christie) but has always wanted to attend a literature festival. As Harrogate just happened to be the place that Agatha disappeared to, it seemed like the ideal way to combine the two. As part of their Incident Room programme, Orion publishers had arranged a handy session for first time visitors so that was the first item on our agenda.

Afternoon Tea.jpg

This was an ideal ice-breaker with hints and advice as what to do, to make the most of your time at the Festival. Sheila seemed to hear only one piece of advice which was talk to people. If you see someone on their own, walk up and chat to them. I spent half of the time looking for where she’d disappeared to, as every time I turned my back she was usually chatting away to complete strangers, not all of whom were on their own. But she had fun! The added bonus with this session came in the form of tea and scones – always welcome.

Noir_at_the_Bar_Harrogate_2018.jpg

Following our mini afternoon tea, it was down to The Blues Bar for Noir at the Bar. A great way to get in the mood. While not an official festival event, it hosts a number of authors that are usually attending as participants or visitors. The pub is usually full of authors, readers and bloggers, so there is always guaranteed to be someone you recognise. It took a while to actually get inside this year, as my blogging bestie Sue was outside with friends when we arrived. It was a bit of an emotional reunion, but so lovely to meet up again after last year.

Sue at the Blues Bar

Following a bite to eat it was back to the beer tent at the Old Swan. Always a great place to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and do a spot of author stalking! Luckily several were saved by the discovery of a surprise event.

SV202466

I was aware that Mark Billingham had put a band together but not who the band members were  – well it turns out they are all pretty formidable crime writers. Not knowing what to expect, it was a surprise to discover that musically they are pretty impressive and the singing ain’t that bad either. Though perhaps Luca Vesta singing Britney Spears was a step too far. With a set that featured crime theme related songs it was a fun hour of entertainment. I have to say that hearing Val MacDermid sing Twa Corbies unaccompanied was also a joy.

SV202414

Not a bad start to the Festival given that we hadn’t arrived until mid afternoon.

Friday 20th July

As last year,  I met up for coffee at Betty’s with another friend that I met for the first time last year. We originally met on Facebook, via the page of an author that we’re both friends with. We managed to natter for nearly three hours before saying a sad goodbye, not least because she’s moving to France.

It was then onto a book signing at Imagined Things, a lovely little independent bookshop  located in the beautiful Westminster Arcade. The bookshop hit the headlines last month following an abysmal day for sales of £12.34, and a Twitter plea for support. Since then a number of authors have arranged signings. Today was the turn of  Yorkshire author Malcolm Hollingdrake who has written a series of crime novels set in Harrogate.

Malcolm imagined things

It was then back to the Old Swan for a short interval before the next panel.

New Talent

SV202426

An interesting panel and I was delighted to discover I already 2 of the 4 books featured.

Earlier last month I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to read Lesley Kara’s debut novel The Rumour (due out in December). Harrogate saw the pre-launch of the book and a chance for the early readers to get together with Lesley, and her publishing team, Sarah Adams and Alison Barrow for drinks. I know, I’ve hit the big time lol. Some of you may have seen the picture on Twitter where we recreated the cover. My feet are bottom left!

The Rumour.jpeg

Following swiftly on was the Dead Good Reader Awards.

Dead Good Reader Awards

Last year, a record number of readers voted in the Dead Good Reader Awards which celebrated best police procedural, best adapted book and most unreliable narrator.

This year it was back by popular demand, with six new award categories.

The Holmes and Watson Award for Best Detective Duo:

dead good reader awards 2018

Winner: Ruth Galloway and Harry Nelson – Elly Griffiths

Shortlist:
Arthur Bryant and John May – Christopher Fowler
Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles – Tess Gerritsen
Ruth Galloway and Harry Nelson – Elly Griffiths
Marnie Rome and Noah Jake – Sarah Hilary
Rosie Strange and Sam Stone – Syd Moore
Gino Rolseth and Leo Magozzi – P J Tracy

The Whodunnit Award for the Book That Keeps You Guessing:

dead good reader awards 2018

Winner: Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Shortlist:
I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards
Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh
Skin Deep by Liz Nugent
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The Cabot Cove Award for Best Small Town Mystery:

dead good reader awards 2018

Winner: The Chalk Man by C J Tudor

Shortlist:
A Murder to Die For by Stevyn Colgan
Dark Pines by Will Dean
The Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman
Hell in a Handbasket by Denise Grover Swank
The Dry by Jane Harper
The Chalk Man by C J Tudor

The Wringer Award for the Character Who’s Been Put Through It All:

dead good reader awards 2018

Winner: Jack Reacher – Lee Child

Shortlist:
Jack Reacher – Lee Child
Frieda Klein – Nicci French
Lottie Parker – Patricia Gibney
Ruth Galloway – Elly Griffiths
Michael Devlin – Tony Kent
David Raker – Tim Weaver

The House of Horrors Award for Most Dysfunctional Family:

dead good reader awards 2018

Winner: Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Shortlist:
Little Sister by Isabel Ashdown
Blood Sisters by Jane Corry
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land
Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh
The Good Samaritan by John Marrs

The Dead Good Recommends Award for Most Recommended Book:

dead good reader awards 2018

Winner: The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths

Shortlist:
I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths
Killer Intent by Tony Kent
Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister
The Fear by C L Taylor
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Still a couple of those I need to get my hands on yet, but some great titles on those shortlists if you’re looking for ideas. The event is also a great opportunity to ‘win’ books and try not to look too jealous when you don’t get your hands on a book you really want.

A note here for co-ordinators of this event if it takes place again next year. As all tickets need to be paid for, and are in addition to the Rover passes. This means in theory 100 tickets = 100 people. I was therefore a little annoyed to arrive to find all the goody bags had been handed out, which means fewer bags than attendees. While bags were cobbled together they contained books being given away in the tent anyway, so not really equitable in my view.

 By now it was time to venture into town for some much-needed sustenance before yet again hitting the beer tent before the final event of the evening.

Room 101

As anticipated this was as funny and entertaining as we’d hoped. It came with the added bonus of being sat next to a lovely couple that we chatted too on several occasions for the rest of the Festival. Yes Fiona Erskine that’s you, along with your other half, who shall forever be called John!

Well a pretty packed and thoroughly enjoyable day was had by both of us, so we decided to call it a day and amble back to the B&B, hitting our beds just before midnight.

Saturday 21st July

An early start after a late night is never good, but it had to be done as our first panel was as 10am.

Saturday Gameshow

Steve Cavanagh and Luca Veste present a regular podcast as Two Crime Writers and a Microphone. This morning they were hosting a very special podcast in the form of a game show not 100 miles away from Pointless. However for copyright purposes and the fact that  Richard Osman was one of the special guests, we were treated to the newly christened game show ‘Senseless’. The provision of bacon butties on the way in was also an added bonus to the already star-studded guest list comprising Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Alison Belsham, Mason Cross, Emma Kavanagh, Alex Michaelides, and Chris McGeorge in addition to the aforementioned.

The winners were, perhaps not unsurprisingly Mark Billingham and Val McDermid, who were not in the least competitive.

This afternoon, the main item on the agenda was Afternoon Tea at Betty’s for Sheila’s birthday. Before then it was time to catch up in (yes you’ve guessed it, the beer tent!)

SV202450 SV202451

Afternoon tea, was a very special, occasion and another thing to be ticked off the Harrogate list. Being in town also gave me the opportunity to go shopping for a bag to et my clothes home in. The rather large book haul, I’d racked up in the past couple of days, meant they’d have to go in the suitcase (note to self for next year – jumbo case required).

As part of Sheila’s birthday present I’d also bought tickets for the author dinner.

Author Dinner

This turned out to be another entertaining event and we had the lovely Lisa Hall as our designated author. The tongue in cheek script required us to name the murderer of Tony Granite – a large manly actor taking on the role of a somewhat diminutive character per the series of books the film was based on. (Did you see what he did there?). While we named the correct person, it appeared our reasoning was far too devious. We’re all making sure our plot doesn’t feature in any future outings by the author’s present. So after a fun evening it was back to the beer tent!

Sunday 22nd July

Sunday seems to have come around far too quickly, and it was time for out final panel with Steve Mosby and Sophie Hannah. Another interesting and enjoyable session.

Sophie Hannah

So another Festival was over, but of course this round-up wouldn’t be complete without a round up of fangirling pictures. Apologies in advance – far more than last year as I was far braver this year. Thanks to all who helped make this festival a great one, you know who you are, and hope to see you all next year.