#R3COMM3ND3D2020 with #BookBlogger Lisa from Read and Rated (@ReadandRated) #ReadandRated #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Welcome to Friday on damppebbles! The weekend is in touching distance and, as it’s Black Friday, bargains galore are to be had. But…asking for a friend…are books included in the Black Friday deals? 🤔

Today I am delighted to welcome a fabulous book blogger to share the book love. It’s the very lovely Lisa of Read and Rated. Lisa’s blog is absolutely gorgeous and well worth checking out. Head on over, say hi and hit the subscribe button.

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2020? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors, book bloggers and bookstagrammers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2020. To make things interesting I have added a couple of teeny, tiny rules this year which are; 1) the book must have first been published in 2020 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes. 😉

Here are the three books Lisa has chosen…

R3C20 The secrets of strangers

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman
Such a simple concept and yet utterly spellbinding. I loved it. All the feels with this one.
Lisa’s Review of The Secrets of Strangers

R3C20 Three Hours

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton
Ah this book! It broke me in places, being a mum of two boys will have had something to do with that… I just felt every emotion, it is a beautiful yet awful book. Wonderful.
Lisa’s Review of Three Hours

R3C20 stolen children

Stolen Children by Michael Wood
There is a missing child in this series and the author had made this feel so real that I am utterly desperate for him to be found. Fabulous crime thriller that I hope to one day see on TV – like Vera. This is a massively under appreciated series.
Lisa’s Review of Stolen Children

Three brilliant choices, thanks Lisa. I’ve read (and really enjoyed) Stolen Children and I have Three Hours on my terrifying TBR, which I can’t wait to read. And this is the second time we’ve seen The Secrets of Strangers so, along with She Lies Close by Sharon Doering and The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor, it’s now in join first place! I wonder if one of these three books will be our eventual winner!

If Lisa has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books recommended above, please see the following links:

The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton
Stolen Children by Michael Wood

About Lisa:
I’m ‘that‘ girl, you know the one who always has her nose in a book. The one who always has a book on the go. The one who is reading a different book every time you ask her ‘what ya reading?’; I am her, she is me. I am also the girl who collects authors on twitter – you can find me there as @ReadandRated (where I mainly focus on books….) and also as @CoffeeCurls (where other stuff filters in too).

At ReadandRated.com you can find honest reviews and ratings for books. I also post reviews onto Good Reads, you can access my account there via the widget on the right had side of this blog, and I post reviews onto Amazon. If I review a book for you and you want a review posted onto a particular site just let me know.

Taking part in #R3COMM3ND3D has been difficult as it is SO hard to narrow the answers down to just three books. I would add to this that ANYTHING by Amanda Jennings, Jane Isaac, Lisa Hall, Simon Kernick, Stuart MacBride, Rob Ashman, Noelle Holten and Alison Bruce (to name but a few) is also highly recommended. [Ahem, hold up there! Are these extra #R3Cs?? Adjudictor…??? 😲😂]

I live very near Cambridge with my wonderful family which consists of one great bloke, two great boys and two purrrfect cats and a beautiful black Labrador. The rest of the time I am slightly fixated with cats, coffee and books.

Lisa’s Blog and Social Media Links:
| Read and Rated | Twitter @ReadandRated | Twitter @CoffeeCurls | Facebook | Instagram @readandratedbookreviews |

If you’re a book blogger, bookstagrammer or an author and you have three books published this year which you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/kHTQeQdiUNZTsW4d6)

#R3COMM3ND3D2020 with #BookBlogger Sarah Swan (@Sarah_Swan2) #SarahsVignettes #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Before I go any further I would like to wish all of my American followers a very happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have a wonderful day!

It’s day 26 of this year’s #R3COMM3ND3D and what a gorgeous collection of books we’ve had so far. Adding to the #R3C masterpiece today, I am delighted to welcome another brilliant book blogger. It’s the lovely Sarah of Sarah’s Vignettes. If you don’t already subscribe to Sarah’s blog make sure you head on over and change that.

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2020? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors, book bloggers and bookstagrammers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2020. To make things interesting I have added a couple of teeny, tiny rules this year which are; 1) the book must have first been published in 2020 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes. 😉

Here are Sarah’s three #R3COMM3ND3D2020 picks…

R3C20 below the big blue sky

Below the Big Blue Sky by Anna McPartlin
Below the Big Blue Sky is the sequel to The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes – one of my all time favourite books. It follows Molly Hayes and her family as they navigate life after Rabbit dies from cancer.

The story was everything I had hoped it would be: big-hearted, amusing, compassionate, emotional, and truly Irish. You will laugh through the tears and feel the warmth, compassion and love of the Hayes family radiate from the pages.

Although it is a sequel, it could be read as a stand-alone as Anna McPartlin has carefully weaved enough back story in for each character. However, I do think that it’s worth reading The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes or listening to the audio version to understand this family and their quirks. It will make you appreciate the story even more.
Sarah’s Review of Under a Big Blue Sky

R3C20 the life we almost had

The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley
The Life We Almost Had is not a typical love story but it is Adam and Anna’s love story. It is beautiful, heartbreaking, poignant, and sprinkled with a bit of magic.

It is a page turner and could easily be read in one sitting. It has short chapters, which keeps up the pace of the story and some longer ones where it is necessary. There are some heart pounding moments. Just when you think you’ve worked out where it’s going, Amelia Henley pops in a plot twist and bam! You’re off in a completely different direction. The intricacies in the plot and the rich level of detail show that Amelia Henley knows her characters and their stories inside out. This makes for a brilliant read!
Sarah’s Review of The Life We Almost Had

R3C20 under a wartime sky

Under a Wartime Sky by Liz Trenow
Set mainly in Felixstowe, Under a Wartime Sky starts in 1936 and tells the story of how radar was developed at Bawdsey Manor, Suffolk, in the run up to WW2. It is told through the eyes of 2 characters: Kathleen Motts, a local girl, and Vikram Mackensie, a scientist recruited to work on the radar. The story also follows their friendship and slow burning love story whilst telling Bawdsey’s story.

I love books and films set in World War II and I thought I knew a lot about it. However, before reading Under a Wartime Sky, I had never heard of Bawdsey Manor and knew nothing about the important work of the scientists, engineers and WAAF radar operators did there during WW2 and how they helped Britain to win the war.

I loved how Liz Trenow brought Bawdsey’s story, Kathleen and Vikram’s friendship, and the social history of the time together into an enjoyable and important historical read.
Sarah’s Review of Under a Wartime Sky

Some lovely choices, thank you Sarah. I’m delighted to see The Life We Almost Had on your list as, although I haven’t read it myself, I’m a huge fan of the author under another guise.

If Sarah has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books recommended above, please see the following links:

Below the Big Blue Sky by Anna McPartlin
The Life We Almost Had by Amelia Henley
Under a Wartime Sky by Liz Trenow

About Sarah:
Hi, I’m Sarah. I have been reading from a very early age and before I could read, I was always flicking through picture books – I’m sure I was born with a book in my hand!

I read a wide range of genres and I am willing to try most genres once, but I do keep going back to both contemporary and historical fiction more than anything else.

Books are a big part of my life and I started my blog, Sarah’s Vignettes, and my social media pages so I could share my love for them.

Sarah’s Blog and Social Media Links:
| Sarah’s Vignettes | Twitter @Sarah_Swan2 | Facebook | Instagram @sarah_swan22 |

If you’re a book blogger, bookstagrammer or an author and you have three books published this year which you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/kHTQeQdiUNZTsW4d6)

#BookReview: Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims @gollancz #ThirteenStoreys #damppebbles

thirteen storeys

“You’re cordially invited to dinner. Penthouse access is available via the broken freight elevator. Black tie optional.

A dinner party is held in the penthouse of a multimillion-pound development. All the guests are strangers – even to their host, the billionaire owner of the building.

None of them know why they were selected to receive his invitation. Whether privileged or deprived, besides a postcode, they share only one thing in common – they’ve all experienced a shocking disturbance within the building’s walls.

By the end of the night, their host is dead, and none of the guests ever said what happened.
His death remains one of the biggest unsolved mysteries – until now.

But are you ready for their stories?”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of the excellent Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims. Thirteen Storeys is published by Gollancz today (that’s 26th November 2020) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Thirteen Storeys but that has in no way influenced my review.

Some books pass you by. They’re instantly forgettable and not your thing at all. Other books – like Thirteen Storeys – have the ability to stop you dead in your tracks and make you feel like you’re missing out on something incredibly special if you don’t read them. I saw this book reviewed on another blog and it absolutely sang to me. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t get the cover out of my head. I feel like I’m being very melodramatic but oh well, it felt like there was an actual real life connection between me and Thirteen Storeys. And what a corker of a read it was!

Normally at this point in one of my reviews I would recap the blurb for you. I’ve decided to not do that when it comes to Thirteen Storeys as the publisher’s blurb tells you everything you need to know and I think my ‘take’ on it wouldn’t add anything. In fact, I’m concerned I may say something I shouldn’t so, to save my blushes, please refer to the blurb if you haven’t done so already 😂

This cracking book opens with a newspaper report on the anniversary of the death of multi-billionaire, Tobias Fell. Fell’s many achievements – including the commission of a high rise tower block in Whitechapel, Tower Hamlets called Banyan Court which, incidentally, is the home of many of the guests – is noted. But what the reporter really draws attention to is Fell’s very unusual and highly suspicious death. Witnessed by thirteen guests at a very exclusive dinner party, no one is really sure how he died (quite so horrifically) and one thing is for sure, they are certainly not going to talk about it. Each chapter tells the story of one of those thirteen guests in the lead-up to that notorious dinner party. Giving the reader a tantalising and intriguing glimpse into thirteen very different lives and what ultimately connects them. There are strange and creepy goings-on at Banyan Court and the author has done a masterful job of creating an outstanding cast of characters, all of whom pull the reader into their world.

Each story is individual and stands tall, but the tendrils of Banyan Court run through them all with familiar characters appearing all over the place and memorable events being seen from different view points. I loved this book and found the author’s approach very refreshing. It’s a short story collection, but not. All of the events and characters in Thirteen Storeys are under one big horror laden umbrella. It’s a very clever and well-written novel.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Thirteen Storeys is a beautifully written contemporary horror novel that I know for sure will leave its mark on me. I don’t remember reading anything like this before and it was an absolute delight. The excitement I felt as I approached the end of the book, having lived through the characters’ trauma with them, was palpable. I couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to Fell. It was a thrilling ride and I was deeply satisfied with the stomach-churning conclusion. I loved this book and would happily read more by this author. Highly recommended.

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

Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims was published in the UK by Gollancz on 26th November 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 | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3
Jonathan Sims is a writer, performer and games designer whose work primarily focuses on the macabre, the grotesque, and the gentle touch of creeping dread. He is the mind and the voice behind acclaimed horror podcast The Magnus Archives, as well as story-game design duo MacGuffin & Co., and some of your favourite nightmares. He lives in Walthamstow with the two best cats and an overwhelming backlog of books that he really should get round to.

#R3COMM3ND3D2020 with #BookBlogger Veronika Jordan (@cookiebiscuit) #CookiebiscuitsBlog #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Hello my bookish friends and welcome to another cracking day of #R3COMM3ND3D2020. Today I am delighted to welcome a blogger I discovered earlier this year. It’s the very lovely Veronika Jordan of Cookiebiscuit’s blog. I am such a huge fan of Veronika’s blog and reviews. If you don’t already subscribe then that must change! You won’t regret it.

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2020? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors, book bloggers and bookstagrammers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2020. To make things interesting I have added a couple of teeny, tiny rules this year which are; 1) the book must have first been published in 2020 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes. 😉

Here are the three books Veronika chose…

R3C20 the miseducation of evie epworth

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
For someone like me who grew up in the sixties (though I am quite a bit younger than Evie) I found this book absolutely hilarious. Laugh out loud at times. The characters are richly drawn often to the point of caricature, but not enough to be unbelievable. And some of Evie’s ‘misadventures’ will have you crying with laughter. But one of the stand-out things for me about the book is how the author has managed to capture perfectly the ‘playful’ (his word) voice of a 16 year old girl in the sixties.
Veronika’s Review of The Miseducation of Evie Epworth

R3C20 miss benson's beetle

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
This story will stay with me for a very long time. It’s warm and funny and sad and evokes every emotion you can think of. I loved it.
Veronika’s Review of Miss Benson’s Beetle

R3C20 when the music stops

When the Music Stops by Joe Heap
Every now and again I come across a book that is so unique, so different, that I am left reeling. When the Music Stops is one of those books. Towards the end I was totally overwhelmed and had to take a break or I would have started crying and not been able to stop. Even writing the review made me cry. It is rare for a story to have such a profound effect on me and make me feels so happy and sad at the same time. This is one book I will definitely read again (and I almost never do that).
Veronika’s Review of When the Music Stops

Wonderful choices, thank you Veronika. That’s the second time The Miseducation of Evie Epworth has been chosen (and twice in two days!) so that makes it the joint leader with She Lies Close by Sharon Doering. Woohoo, the race is on!

If Veronika has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books recommended above, please see the following links:

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
When the Music Stops by Joe Heap

About Veronika:
My name is Veronika Jordan. I live in the Cotswolds with my husband and an elderly Jack Russell named Pancake. I have two sons and three beautiful granddaughters. I write poetry and short stories and have published a book of short stories and a novella. I also paint a bit which seems to take up much of my free time. I am also an avid book reviewer as you can see from my recent posts. I review on Goodreads, Amazon, NetGalley and here on my blog. I hope you enjoy my reviews.

Veronika’s Blog and Social Media Links:
| Cookiebiscuit’s blog | Twitter @cookiebiscuit | Facebook | Instagram @cookiebiscuit10 |

If you’re a book blogger, bookstagrammer or an author and you have three books published this year which you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/kHTQeQdiUNZTsW4d6)

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Where is Tony Blunt? by Joseph Mitcham (@MitchamJoseph) @cobaltdinosaur #WhereIsTonyBlunt #damppebbles

Where is Tony Blunt_ cover Final High resHas the hornets’ nest been kicked too hard? Having taken down some of the most dangerous members of the UK Terror Watch List – Alex is persuaded to return to help track down the unrelenting Islamist terror organisation ‘the Interest Group’ – Tony Blunt is the only lead.

Where is Tony Blunt? The apparently radicalised former Paratrooper has gone to ground without a trace. Alex finds himself at the heart of the effort to find him. Working with a multi-agency force to track him down, can they find Blunt before he executes his masterpiece?”

Hello! Ryan here. Emma has left me in charge of the blog so I can share my review of Joseph Mitcham’s second book in the Atrocities Series – Where is Tony Blunt? – with you.  I enjoyed the first book, and was keen to find out what happened next…

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Where is Tony Blunt? but that has not influenced my review.

Joseph Mitcham has done it again. Another excellent book which builds to a powder-keg conclusion. Mitcham is an author who trusts his readers. He recognises that not many readers want continual action, and is prepared to blend slow build pressure and fast action strands together into his books.  This book bubbles up to perfection as slowly the atrocities planned by Tony Blunt become clear and we realise that the opportunity for Alex, John, Lucy and the team to stop him is held on a knife-edge.

If you enjoyed The Watch List you have to read Where is Tony Blunt?  After a cleverly written prologue to give us more back story on the mysterious Blunt, we are reunited with Alex in the café where The Watch List ended. Alex is an interesting choice as the lead character for these books. Rather than the go-getting, confident and charismatic leader so many authors choose as their main character, he is a techie who is often having to perform at his best to keep up with others when the action starts.

Mitcham creates a strangely forlorn villain in Blunt. From the prologue there is a temptation towards sorrow for this social misfit, but as the book evolves it becomes clearer that his history has led him to a place where he doesn’t want pity. He wants revenge. It was fascinating to see his doubts in his own ability – certainly he was no egotistical supervillain as you see in some stories, but a human plagued by the same self-doubts many feel in their day to day lives. But I assure you by the end of the book, your pity for this evil character will have gone completely!

The characters are once again well written and the team trying to stop Blunt’s attack are well balanced and generally likeable, yet clash against each other as group tensions and individual priorities threaten the operation.

I would happily recommend this book. The ending may leave room for the next instalment so book me in for that as this is a series that is growing in stature and quality and Mitcham must be one to watch for the future.  Is he on your watch list?

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Where is Tony Blunt? The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Where is Tony Blunt? by Joseph Mitcham was published in the UK on 12th November 2020 and is available in paperback 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 | amazon.com | Goodreads |

where is tony blunt banner

about-the-author3

Joseph Mitcham - reducedJoseph Mitcham served with the British military in elite and technical units for over 16 years. His service not only gave him a thorough tactical and technical understanding of some of techniques and processes employed in his first novel, it also provided him with the opportunity to develop himself, earning a first class honours degree in business leadership by the end of his service.

His debut novel, The Watch List, was published in 2019.  The inspiration for writing ‘The Watch List’ was taken from personal experiences from the roles that he has served in and characteristics from some of the people that he has served with. Joseph has written an incredible, yet compellingly credible story that plays out in our world as he sees it today.

#R3COMM3ND3D2020 with #BookBlogger Kate (@TheQuickandthe4) #TheQuickandtheRead #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Happy Tuesday and welcome to day 24 of #R3COMM3ND3D2020. Time for a quick TBR check: mine is groaning under the weight of the last 23 days but it’s holding out. How is yours doing? Today I am delighted to welcome another brilliant book blogger to share three of their favourite reads published in 2020, it’s Kate of The Quick and the Read. I love Kate’s blog so if you don’t already subscribe, head on over and correct that now!

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2020? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors, book bloggers and bookstagrammers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2020. To make things interesting I have added a couple of teeny, tiny rules this year which are; 1) the book must have first been published in 2020 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes. 😉

Here are the three books Kate chose…

R3C20 cows can't jump

Cows Can’t Jump by Philip Bowne
This was one of my surprise treats of 2020 – a coming-of-age story with lots of laughs and a real emotional punch. Suicidal cows, a European road trip set against a Brexit backdrop and a brilliant cast of characters – this one stayed with me long after the final page.
Kate’s Review of Cows Can’t Jump

R3C20 the miseducation of evie epworth

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
I was totally unprepared for this glorious, funny and sweet story with one of the most fabulous (and gorgeously naive) heroines of the year. Evie is a wonderful guide to her 1960s Yorkshire world and her dysfunctional family – I could not put this down.
Kate’s Review of The Miseducation of Evie Epworth

R3C20 a tomb with a view

A Tomb With a View: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards by Peter Ross
Far beyond a simple visitors’ tour of graveyards, Peter Ross explores the stories behind various burial grounds – from ossuaries to formal Victorian cemeteries, war graves to the rituals surrounding death in different belief systems. It sounds like it might be depressing, but this is a book absolutely bursting with life, interesting stories and plenty of food for thought.
Kate’s Review of A Tomb With a View

Thanks so much, Kate. I love the look of all three of your picks. Particularly A Tomb With a View which sounds fascinating.

If Kate has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books recommended above, please see the following links:

Cows Can’t Jump by Philip Bowne
The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
A Tomb With a View by Peter Ross

About Kate:
New(ish) to book blogging but life-long bookish. Always on the look-out for my next read!

Kate’s Blog and Social Media Links:
| The Quick and the Read | Twitter @TheQuickandthe4 |

If you’re a book blogger, bookstagrammer or an author and you have three books published this year which you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/kHTQeQdiUNZTsW4d6)

#R3COMM3ND3D2020 with #BookBlogger ChopperCrimeBooks (@chopcrimebooks) #ChopperCrimeBooks #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Hello and welcome to a brand new shiny week on damppebbles. Lots more brilliant #R3COMM3ND3D2020 books heading your way over the next seven days but first, let’s meet today’s participant. I am delighted to be welcoming another fairly ‘new to me’ blogger to share their three #R3COMM3ND3D2020 picks. It’s Ben from ChopperCrimeBooks. Let’s face it, you can never have too much crime fiction in your life so head on over and hit subscribe.

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2020? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors, book bloggers and bookstagrammers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2020. To make things interesting I have added a couple of teeny, tiny rules this year which are; 1) the book must have first been published in 2020 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes. 😉

Here are the three books Ben has chosen…

R3C20 bad people

Bad People (Tom Nolan #1) by Craig Wallwork
Has a mixture of Crime, Horror and Thrills. Such a fantastic read.
Ben’s Review of Bad People

R3C20 mr nobody

Mr Nobody by Catherine Steadman
Again a fantastic debut. Completely screws with your mind. Loved it.
Ben’s Review of Mr Nobody

R3C20 pine

Pine by Francine Toon
Really well written for a debut. The story is chilling and eerie and to be honest I found it haunting.
Ben’s Review of Pine

Great choices, thanks Ben. I have Pine on my terrifying TBR and the other two are going straight on the wish list!

If Ben has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books recommended above, please see the following links:

Bad People by Craig Wallwork
Mr Nobody by Catherine Steadman
Pine by Francine Toon

About ChopperCrimeBooks:
Ben Thomas ChopperCrimeBooks. Reviewer of Crime, Mystery, Thriller and Horror Reads. Husband, Dad and Mental Health Nurse.

ChopperCrimeReads Blog and Social Media Links:
| ChopperCrimeBooks | Twitter @chopcrimebooks | Instagram @choppercrimebooks |

If you’re a book blogger, bookstagrammer or an author and you have three books published this year which you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/kHTQeQdiUNZTsW4d6)

An Island by Karen Jennings #GuestPost #KarenJennings @HhouseBooks #AnIsland #damppebbles

An Island Cover“Samuel has lived alone for a long time; one morning he finds the sea has brought someone to offer companionship and to threaten his solitude…

A young refugee washes up unconscious on the beach of a small island inhabited by no one but Samuel, an old lighthouse keeper. Unsettled, Samuel is soon swept up in memories of his former life on the mainland: a life that saw his country suffer under colonisers, then fight for independence, only to fall under the rule of a cruel dictator; and he recalls his own part in its history. In this new man’s presence he begins to consider, as he did in his youth, what is meant by land and to whom it should belong. To what lengths will a person go in order to ensure that what is theirs will not be taken from them?

A novel about guilt and fear, friendship and rejection; about the meaning of home.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joined by Karen Jennings, author of the literary fiction novel An Island. An Island was published by Holland House Books on 12th November 2020 and is available in hardcover, paperback and digital formats.

Without further ado, I will hand over to Karen…

A Violent History
Karen Jennings

                The history of Europe’s relationship with Africa is long and violent, yet it was at the Berlin Conference in 1884 that the Scramble for Africa reached its zenith. The continent was officially sliced up and shared out amongst various European powers, the borders of these new countries set at random with no care for ethnic or social groups and traditions. What followed was oppressive leadership, unconcerned with the development of the colonies. The sole aim was to exploit the land and its people for the benefit of the colonisers. When, in the latter parts of the twentieth century, Africans began to rise up and demand their independence, a slow and oftentimes reluctant relinquishing of power occurred – not without bloodshed and vindictiveness. In fact, in some places, such as Guinea, the departing colonisers took whatever they could carry; all the rest, such as medicine, office equipment, telephones and lightbulbs, was destroyed. What was left behind, however, included embedded traditions of authoritarian systems in which rulers and officials wielded vast personal power. It is little wonder then that many new African nations found freedom meant not much more than a change from one authoritarian system to another, whether under corrupt and inept governance or the tyranny of military dictatorships.

Unfortunately, what pride and hope there had been at the dawn of independence was often quashed by these new systems, as well as by the lack of resources and qualified professionals, which meant that infrastructure and amenities could not be improved. Added to this were legacies of illiteracy, poverty, natural disasters and fragile links between ethnic and political groups that led to countless cruel and destructive civil wars across the continent. For many, life in Africa still continues to be a daily challenge and millions of people have either chosen to emigrate or have been compelled to flee, sometimes to neighbouring countries or else to wealthier nations like the United States, Australia or those in Europe. Disturbed at this influx, foreign governments have introduced harsh restrictions on who can enter their borders, and have fuelled an alarming rise in nationalistic and xenophobic thinking in western nations.

But we cannot pretend that xenophobia is not present in Africa too. With people already failed by their governments, many living in terrible poverty, battling unemployment, without proper housing or regular access to food and clean water, dissatisfaction has led to horrific xenophobic attacks. In my own country of South Africa, we have seen terrible cases spanning two decades, the most recent being in September of 2019 when foreigners were assaulted and killed in certain hot- spots, their businesses attacked and looted. More than 600 Nigerians were evacuated from the country for their own safety, though they were by no means the only foreign nationals that were under threat.

In my novel, An Island, I have attempted to engage with the dark history that many African nations share, the ramifications of which are felt to this day. Because of the complexity of the historical influences, I chose to tell the story in as simple a way as possible, using as location a small fictional island off the coast of Africa, never revealing to which country that island belongs. I dislike the pervasive western notion that Africa is a single country, an idea that reduces the vibrant cultures, societies, languages and traditions to all being one and the same. The intent behind An Island was never to take part in that reductionism. Rather, I hoped that through focusing the action of the novel on two key characters and their interactions within the confines of this small space that it would allow significant relevant historical influences to be seen as irrevocable and undeniable aspects in the life of the protagonist, but without the risk of specific events, historical figures and political policies overshadowing his thoughts, emotions and behaviour. By those means I wished to examine what the influence of such a history might be on an individual – most specifically, what might drive a seemingly ordinary person to violence?

It is worth noting, as I write these words during a time of global lockdowns, that borders have been consistently closing between nations in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. There is very real fear, which we all carry within us now, of being endangered by infected foreigners. In the early months of the pandemic xenophobic incidents occurring worldwide, such as Chinese-Americans being attacked at a rate of 100 a day and their businesses boycotted, while international cruise ships were unable to find a port that would allow them to dock. Soon the centres of infection moved from Europe and the United States to Africa, which has limited resources to combat the spread of COVID-19 and to treat those who fall ill. Millions are projected to die. While several western nations have pledged financial assistance or the postponement (even cancellation) of loan repayments, the fact remains that the coming months will be devastating for the people of Africa, and one cannot predict how vulnerable and desperate communities might react in order to protect themselves and their families from those that they consider a threat. Moreover, what does the future look like for Africans across the globe? As the infection rate rises on the continent, what effect will that have on immigrants and refugees in foreign lands?

In short, what might individuals of any nation do to protect their homes from outsiders?

Many thanks for joining me today, Karen, and for writing such a fascinating piece. I’ll be sure to check An Island out.

An Island by Karen Jennings was published in the UK by Holland House Books on 12th November 2020 and is available in paperback 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 | Foyles | Book Depository | Holland House Books | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

Karen JenningsKaren Jennings is a South African author. She holds Masters degrees in both English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town, and a PhD in English Literature from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her debut novel, Finding Soutbek, was shortlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for African Fiction. In 2014 her short story collection, Away from the Dead, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International short story competition. Her memoir, Travels with my Father, was published in 2016, and in 2018 she released her debut poetry collection, Space Inhabited by Echoes. Karen is currently living in Brazil with her Brazilian husband, and last year completed post-doctoral research at the Federal University of Goiás on the historical relationship between science and literature, with a focus on eusocial insects. In September 2019 her new novel, Upturned Earth, will be published by Holland Park Press. Karen is also affiliated with the mentorship programmes run by Writivism and Short Story Day Africa, both of which promote writing in Africa. Broadly speaking, Karen’s interests lie in colonialism, historically and in the lasting impact that it has had on the continent of Africa and beyond. She is particularly concerned with the quiet lives of the everyday people who have been mostly forgotten by the politicians, big businesses and the rest of the world. In this way, she strives to give the ordinary a voice that can be heard and appreciated.

The idea for An Island came to Karen during an afternoon nap at a writers’ residency she was attending in Denmark in 2015. In her sleep, she saw an old man, fiercely defending his island against interlopers. At the time, there was a vast amount in the news about the Syrian Refugee Crisis, which extended to what became known as Europe’s Refugee Crisis. There was a great global outcry against xenophobic responses and calls for humanitarian aid for Syria’s refugees. At the same time, there was almost nothing about refugees from Africa – not about what drove them to flee their nations, or what their dreadful experiences were, nor about their deaths or their futures. Karen chose to explore the relationship between refugee and landowner, but within an African setting, where xenophobia is as rife as in Europe, though it often manifests itself in different ways despite largely being born of colonialism. By reducing the action of the narrative to two characters, Karen felt that a complex issue could be rendered in simple ways that allowed for a focus on individual experiences.

#R3COMM3ND3D2020 with #BookBlogger Jo Robertson (@jocatrobertson) #MyChestnutReadingTree #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Hello and welcome to the blog on this autumnal Sunday. It’s day 22 of #R3COMM3ND3D2020 and today I’m delighted to welcome one of my favourite people in the book world to share three of their top 2020 picks with us. It’s my #blogbestie and all-round fabulous person, Jo of My Chestnut Reading Tree. If you don’t already subscribe to Jo’s blog then that must change (right now!). You won’t regret it!

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2020? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors, book bloggers and bookstagrammers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2020. To make things interesting I have added a couple of teeny, tiny rules this year which are; 1) the book must have first been published in 2020 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes. 😉

Here are the three books Jo recommends…

R3C20 the silent daughter

The Silent Daughter by Emma Christie
This book totally blew me away! The Edinburgh setting and the themes of family, forgiveness and identity delivered a tale of multiple twists and turns with one of the most unexpected endings I’ve come across recently. I’ve not stopped thinking about this beautifully crafted book since I finished it.
Jo’s Review of The Silent Daughter

R3C20 she lies close

She Lies Close by Sharon Doering
I’ve always been drawn to a missing child mystery but this psychological thriller is a much darker themed novel than it initially appeared. The theme of obsession features strongly throughout the narrative and challenges our ideas of motherhood and how far would you go to protect the ones you love. Brilliant characterisation for this fabulous debut novel really made it a 5 star read for me.
Jo’s Review of She Lies Close

R3C20 someone's listening

Someone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass
Another debut psychological thriller that I absolutely loved. It had a unique feel to the storyline with an unlikable and unreliable narrator and some truly shocking twists. It’s an unputdownable and compulsive read that picks you up in its whirlwind of a plot and spins you around till it spits you back out again, breathless and full of awe for such a cleverly complex read.
Jo’s Review of Someone’s Listening

Thanks so much, Jo. All three of your picks are going straight on the wishlist! Plus, very exciting, this is the second time we’ve seen She Lies Close by Sharon Doering so we have a leader!

If Jo has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books recommended above, please see the following links:

The Silent Daughter by Emma Christie
She Lies Close by Sharon Doering
Someone’s Listening by Seraphina Nova Glass

About Jo:
I’m a psychological thriller loving Nana who loves blogging about the books I have read. My Chestnut Reading Tree was 4 years old this year and although my circumstances have changed and I now work full time as a Teaching Assistant, I still love sharing my thoughts about the best twisty books on the market!

Jo’s Blog and Social Media Links:
| My Chestnut Reading Tree | Twitter @jocatrobertson | Facebook | Instagram @jojororomaman |

If you’re a book blogger, bookstagrammer or an author and you have three books published this year which you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/kHTQeQdiUNZTsW4d6)

#R3COMM3ND3D2020 with #BookBlogger EmmabBooks (@EmmabBooks) #EmmabBooks #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Hello my bookish friends and welcome to damppebbles. It’s Saturday and the weekend is finally here…phew! I’m delighted to welcome a brilliant book blogger to share three of their favourite 2020 releases with us today, it’s the lovely Emma of EmmabBooks. I love Emma’s blog so make sure you give her a follow if you don’t already.

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2020? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors, book bloggers and bookstagrammers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2020. To make things interesting I have added a couple of teeny, tiny rules this year which are; 1) the book must have first been published in 2020 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes. 😉

Here are Emma’s three #R3COMM3ND3D2020 picks…

R3C20 american dirt

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
I recommend this novel to everyone as it gives an insight as to why people risk their lives for an uncertain future in a different country. It is a well written and moving story, though caused controversy when it was first published.
It has made me appreciate how lucky I am to have grown up in a peaceful and safe country.
Emma’s Review of American Dirt

R3C20 away with the penguins

Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior
I recommend this uplifting book because the characters were interesting and very different to each other, and their story was beautiful. I enjoyed learning about Adélie penguins, and it made me dream of being able to visit them myself (unlikely to happen). Veronica changes her life, in a wonderful way, at the age of 85 – and that was inspiring.
Emma’s Review of Away with the Penguins

R3C20 how to disappear

How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister
This exciting psychological thriller shows how anyone’s life can change in a moment; in this case Lauren’s daughter is a witness to something that makes them go into witness protection, and leave everything and everyone (including the dog) behind. An exciting, tension building story!
Emma’s Review of How to Disappear

Thanks so much, Emma. I love the sound of all three books.

If Emma has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books recommended above, please see the following links:

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior
How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister

About EmmabBooks:
I have been reviewing books since 2015, and love the discipline of stopping and thinking about a book for my review. I try to read a range of genres, but for me the most important thing about a book is that I learn something new from it. If I also start talking to friends about it, it’s guaranteed to get a 5* rating from me.

EmmabBooks Blog and Social Media Links:
| EmmabBooks | Twitter @EmmabBooks | Facebook | Instagram @emmabbooks |

If you’re a book blogger, bookstagrammer or an author and you have three books published this year which you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/kHTQeQdiUNZTsW4d6)