First Blog Birthday đźŽ‰

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Just a quick post to mark one year of the blog. My blog was created (originally as TraceyBookLover) on 31 January 2014. It was nearly removed a few weeks later after some destructive criticism but thanks to encouragement from other bloggers I persevered.

I set up the blog as a place for reviews of books I’ve read and a place to keep track of them, alongside Goodreads.

What I didn’t expect, and have thoroughly enjoyed, is the sense of community among book bloggers. I’ve had a lovely year picking up recommendations and comparing notes – not always agreeing but always being entertained and engaged. I can sincerely recommend blogging as a fulfilling hobby.

In the coming year there will be less activity on the blog as I aim to clear my (96 book) TBR pile. I’ll only be posting reviews for ARCs and authors’ most recent books.

Coincidentally the blog clicked past 8,000 views today. Thank you to everyone who’s visited and I’m looking forward to lots more blogging in future.

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Follow The Leader by Mel Sherratt. Read January 2015.

To be published 10 February 2015 – A welcome return for DS Allie Shenton from Taunting The Dead.
“A man’s body is found on a canal towpath. In his pocket, a plastic magnet in the shape of an E.
Days later, a second victim is found, this time with the letter V tucked into her clothing.
As the body count rises, the eerie, childlike clues point to a pattern that sends DS Allie Shenton and her colleagues into full alert.
The race is on. Allie and the team must work quickly to determine where the killer will strike next.
The rules are simple but deadly—to catch the killer, they must follow the leader.”
I have mixed feelings about knowing whodunnit right from the start, but in this case the author has dealt with the “I know something you don’t know” method so skilfully that the tension racked up relentlessly throughout the book. I enjoyed the way each character, even minor ones, was described in a way that gave them depth and believability. On finishing the book my first thought was that I hope this will be a series that runs and runs – Allie has already become one of my favourite fictional crime fighters.
I recommend Follower The Leader to fans of gritty and gripping crime fiction and would suggest reading Taunting The Dead first but this isn’t essential.
Thank you to the publisher, via Netgalley, for the advance copy e-book.

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Author Event – Tess Gerritsen & Paula Hawkins at Bolton Library

I was thrilled when I heard that Bolton was one of the stops on Tess Gerritsen’s tour to publicise Die Again. It’s only 13 miles away from where I live and we don’t get many book events round here. I was even happier when I learned that Paula Hawkins would be joining in this event on publication day for her debut novel The Girl on the Train.

The venue was excellent – a lecture theatre for the presentation, followed by refreshments and book signing. Paula read from her book, an intriguing passage that gave a teasing taste of her great psychological thriller. Tess then gave a talk about what inspires her books and finally there was time for a few audience questions.

I took the opportunity to have a couple of books signed and Tess didn’t even mind signing my e-reader cover (the best solution I’ve come up with for how to get a Kindle book signed).
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Thanks to everyone involved in organising this enjoyable event and the opportunity to meet some of my favourite book people. Here’s a few photos of my 2-for-1 on authors, plus a certain well known book PR from Transworld Publishers, Alison Barrow.

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Second Life by S J Watson. Read January 2015.

“She loves her husband. She’s obsessed by a stranger.
She’s a devoted mother. She’s prepared to lose everything.
She knows what she’s doing. She’s out of control.
She’s innocent. She’s guilty as sin.
She’s living two lives. She might lose both . . .”
Had I been handed this book in a plain wrapper, without being told the author, I would’ve thought it a decent enough psychological thriller. However, on the heels of Before I Go To Sleep and surrounded by all the hype given to this follow up novel, I have to say I was a little disappointed.
The basic premise – woman signs up to online dating sites to try and follow in the tracks of her sister – has been done before (see for example Forward Slash by Louise Voss & Mark Edwards), and other aspects of the plot were reminiscent of several books I’ve read (including Paul Pilkington’s Emma Holden trilogy).
I struggled with the first half of the book mainly because I’m becoming jaded with female lead characters who make unbelievably stupid choices. Having said that I’m glad I persevered because the second half was a good read. The action moved up a gear and I felt myself drawn in as I’d hoped to be all along.
Thank you to the publisher, via Netgalley, for the advance copy e-book.

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What Got You Hooked on Crime, Tracey Walsh?

Delighted to be included in a great feature on the ‘findingtimetowrite’ blog.

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TraceyAfter a rather busy start to the New Year, fraught with drama and sadness for my adoptive home France, it’s time to return to an old favourite of mine: being nosy about other people’s reading habits. Time to meet another online friend – welcome, Tracey Walsh! Tracey is one of those people who always seems to have just read those books I have only just heard about – and her recommendations have taken me to many new places. She reads, blogs and tweets tirelessly about crime fiction and has even created a fantastic map of the UK with her personal crime fiction favourites on her Crime Reader Blog.  You can also find Tracey on Facebook.

How did you get hooked on crime fiction?

I have happy childhood memories of Enid Blyton’s “The Five Find Outers” as my first mystery series. Then, in my teens, I binge-read dozens of Agatha…

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The Crooked House by Christobel Kent. Read January 2015.

One of the most shocking openings to a crime novel I can remember.
“Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get…But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme Grace, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote and dilapidated house on the edge of a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else’s – or so she thought.
Then one night a terrible thing happened in the crooked house, a nightmare of violence out of which Alison emerged the only witness and sole survivor and from which she has been running ever since.”
This book has a wonderfully constructed plot and a cast of characters that bring the story to life and hooked me in from the start.
The setting for most of the action is described so well I felt as if I was there watching the story develop.
The only thing I struggled with was that flashbacks/memories merged with current events, to-ing and fro-ing so fast it made my head spin.
Apart from that, an absorbing read that I would highly recommend. Thank you to the publisher, via Netgalley, for the advance copy e-book to review.

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No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary. Read January 2015.

A masterclass in developing crime fiction series characters.
“Two young boys.
Trapped underground in a bunker.
Unable to understand why they are there.
Desperate for someone to find them.
Slowly realising that no-one will…
Five years later, the boys’ bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome’s career begins.
Her only focus is the boys. She has to find out who they are and what happened to themFor Marnie, there is no other darkness than this…”
Sarah Hilary draws the reader in from page 1 with the same elegant writing style as her first novel, Someone Else’s Skin. This time we learn a little more about the recurring characters’ lives – teasing amounts to keep us hooked for the next instalment.
The case the team is faced with is heartbreaking and horrifying but I had to read every detail. For the first time in ages I had to read late into the night to finish the book – I simply wouldn’t have slept if I’d left it unresolved.
I believe that Marnie and the team are to be brought to our TV screens which will bring millions of new fans. I hope some of them try the books too as they are a real treat for crime fiction fans.
I’d recommend No Other Darkness to readers who enjoy an in-depth crime story with a psychological twist. I’d also recommend reading Someone Else’s Skin first as I always believe in reading a series in order, otherwise you miss out on the character development.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the proof copy to review. 

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I was very pleased to hear that a quote from this review Is included in the final proof copy of the book (the review was written when the blog was called Crime Reader Blog):

  (photo courtesy of Northern Crime)

 

   

Bout of Books 12

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This is my ‘wrap up’ post for Bout of Books 12 (My 3rd BoB readathon).

For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

My Goals

I usually read about 1 or 2 books per week. For the readathon week I was aiming to read at least 3 and possibly 4 books, to kick start my assault on my to-be-read mountain. In the end I only managed to read 1.5 books but I enjoyed the week, especially linking up with others on Twitter to set our own mini targets.

Books to Read

These were the books on my TBR:

The Crooked House by Christobel Kent
Second life by SJ Watson
The Burning by Jane Casey
Disclaimer by Renee Knight

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Daily Progress Tracking

Monday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages read today: 75
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Total Number of pages read: 75
Books: The Crooked House by Christobel Kent

Challenge 1: Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt
Find a book with the following criteria on a bookshelf:
1. Find an author with the same initials as you
Tim Weaver
2. Find a book with the color yellow on
it
Want You Dead by Peter James
3. Find an author’s name with the letter “S” in it
Sarah Hilary
4. Find a book with a female protagonist
A Dark And Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton
5. Find the longest book you own
The Lost Symbol 670 pages
6. Find a book with a map in it or on it
Dead Scared by Sharon Bolton
7. Find a book with a face on it (photograph or illustrated)
The Liar’s Chair by a Rebecca Whitney
Bonus: Find something on your shelf that isn’t a book.
My car documents

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Challenge 2: New Year’s Resolutions
Whether you have made reading resolutions or want to use general life resolutions you have made over the New Year holiday, pick books with titles that relate to each of your resolutions. You can post as many or as few as you would like:

Just one for me:
Dead Simple by Peter James
My reading resolution this year is simply to read all the books I already have before buying any more. (Though I did sneak 3 pre-orders in). This means reading 96 books in the year which I’ve set as my Goodreads Challenge target.

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Tuesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages read today: 50
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Total Number of pages read: 125
Books: The Crooked House by Christobel Kent

Challenge: Top 10 Recommendations
For more information about today’s challenge please visit http://treesofreverie.com/post/107288766633/bout-of-books-12-challenge-top-10-recommendations

To see my 10 recommendations please click here.

Wednesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages read today: 243
Total number of books I’ve read: 368
Total Number of pages read: 1
Books: The Crooked House by Christobel Kent

Challenge: Character Coupling
The rules – You must take two characters from two different books and put them together in a relationship. Make sure you list the book and author that the characters comes from.
You must explain why you put them together.
The relationship is up to you (friendship, romantic, parental, etc.), let’s just keep it appropriate, please.
Characters must come from different books and series.

I’d send Matilda from Roald Dahl’s book of the same name, to Hogwarts to be best friends with Hermione from the Harry Potter series by J K Rowling.
My reason is they both love reading & learning and could help each other with their magical powers.

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Thursday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages read today: 77
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Total Number of pages read: 445
Books: The Crooked House by Christobel Kent
Second Life by S J Watson

Challenge: Synopsis Challenge:

My synopsis for Christobel Kent’s THE CROOKED HOUSE.
“As a young teenager Esme was the sole survivor of a family massacre.
As Alison she has created a new life for herself.
Circumstances conspire to take her back to the scene of the tragedy
How will she cope?”

Friday
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Number of pages read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Total Number of pages read: 445
Books: The Crooked House by Christobel Kent
Second Life by S J Watson

Saturday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages read today: 61
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Total Number of pages read: 506
Books: The Crooked House by Christobel Kent
Second Life by S J Watson

Sunday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages read today: 58
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Total Number of pages read: 564
Books: The Crooked House by Christobel Kent
Second Life by S J Watson

Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley. Read January 2015.

A gritty and realistic police procedural debut.
“When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.
Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team on the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.”
I love discovering new favourite crime authors and Rebecca Bradley is now amongst them. DI Hannah Robbins is a character with hidden depths that I hope to learn more about in many future instalments.
Some of the events in this book are truly horrifying and not easy to read, but this serves to focus attention on the unenviable job of today’s police force.
I would recommend this book to all crime fiction fans especially if you enjoy Leigh Russell’s Geraldine Steel series which has a similar hard-hitting style.
My copy was purchased from Amazon Kindle Store.

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Have They Got You Covered? – Crime Fiction Map of the UK

Just for fun I thought I’d create a crime fiction map (yes, I know I’m odd),
I made a start by plotting the towns & cities where some of my favourite fictional crime fighters work (only those based in, or with strong links to, real locations) and I’m hoping some of my book loving friends will help me to add more. This is a work in progress so please feel free to comment or tweet with your suggestions. With thanks to those who’ve made suggestions: @PaulaHWrites @LeighRussell @crimeworm1 @cleo_bannister @John_BHarvey @CathStaincliffe @OnceALibrarian @bookaddictshaun …becoming too numerous to mention.

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View map online

In roughly north to south order:

1 – SHETLAND: Jimmy Perez (Ann Cleeves)

2 – LEWIS: Finn MacLeod (Peter May)

3 – INVERNESS: DS Joe Galbraith (Helen Forbes)

4 – ABERDEEN: Logan MacRae (Stuart McBride)

5 – ARBROATH: DI Donna Davenport (Jackie McLean)

6 – DUNDEE: DI Shona McKenzie (Wendy H Jones); DS Bill Murphy & DC Louise Walker (Chris Longmuir); DS Tom Guthrie (Allan L Mann)

7 – EDINBURGH: Rebus (Ian Rankin); Louise Monroe (Kate Atkinson); DI Tony McLean (James Oswald)

8 – GLASGOW: Alex Morrow (Denise Mina); Anderson & Costello (Caro Ramsay); Lou Perlman (Campbell Armstrong)

9 – KELSO: Zoe Moreland (Janet O’Kane)

10 – GALLOWAY: Marjory Fleming (Aline Templeton)

11 – NORTHUMBERLAND: Vera Stanhope (Ann Cleeves); Rutherford & Pax (Sam Alexander)

12 – NEWCASTLE: Kate Daniels (Mari Hannah); DS Abigail Foulkes (Alison Gray); Helen Riley (Jaycee Brown)

13 – BELFAST: Sean Duffy (Adrian McKinty)

14 – LAKE DISTRICT: Joanne Aspinall (Paula Daly); Hannah Scarlett (Martin Edwards); Annie Graham (Helen Phifer)

15 – BLACKPOOL: Henry Christie (Nick Oldham)

16 – YORK: Ian Peterson (Leigh Russell)

17 – LEEDS: Alan Banks (Peter Robinson); Kate Shackleton (Frances Brody)

18 – HULL: Aector McAvoy (David Mark); Joe Geraghty (Nick Quantrill); “H” Blackburn / DCI Marlowe (Alfie Robins)

19 – MANCHESTER: Scott & Bailey (Cath Staincliffe); Tom Douglas (Rachel Abbott); Kate Simms (A D Garrett); Marie Donovan (Alex Walters); Molyneux (Stewart Spaull)

20 – LIVERPOOL: Murphy & Rossi (Luca Veste)

21 – STOKE-ON-TRENT: DS Allie Shenton (Mel Sherratt)

22 – NOTTINGHAM: Charlie Resnick (John Harvey); DI Hannah Robbins (Rebecca Bradley)

23 – DERBY: DI Brook (Steven Dunne)

24 – BIRMINGHAM: Bev Morris / King & Quinn (Maureen Carter)

25 – ABERYSTWYTH: Louie Knight (Malcolm Pryce)

26 – NORWICH: Shaw & Valentine (Jim Kelly)

27 – PETERBOROUGH: Zigic & Ferreira (Eva Dolan)

28 – NORTHAMPTON: DCI Helen Lavery (Jane Isaac)

29 – CAMBRIDGE: Jackson Brodie (Kate Atkinson); Gary Goodhew (Alison Bruce)

30 – AYLESBURY VALE: Archer & Baines (Dave Sivers)

31 – OXFORD: Morse (Colin Dexter)

32 – LONDON: Marnie Rome (Sarah Hilary); Geraldine Steel (Leigh Russell); Tom Thorne (Mark Billingham); Lacey Flint (Sharon Bolton); Frieda Klein (Nicci French); Kizska & Kershaw (Anya Lipska); Ellen Kelly (Sheila Bugler); Maeve Kerrigan (Jane Casey); Patrick Lennon (Louise Voss & Mark Edwards); Hakim & Arnold (Barbara Nadel); Hatton & Roumande (D E Meredith); Adam Dalgliesh (P D James); Alice Quentin (Kate Rhodes)

33 – CARDIFF: Amy Lane (Rosie Claverton); Fiona Griffiths (Harry Bingham)

34 – BRISTOL: Jack Caffery (Mo Hayder); Ray Stevens (Clare Mackintosh); DI Harland (Fergus McNeil); Jenny Cooper (M R Hall)

35 – EXMOOR: Jonas Holly (Belinda Bauer)

36 – PORTSMOUTH: Joe Faraday (Graham Hurley)

37 – BRIGHTON: Roy Grace (Peter James); Mirabelle Bevan (Sara Sheridan)

38 – PLYMOUTH: Wycliffe (W J Burley)

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