#BookReview: The Appeal by Janice Hallett @ViperBooks #TheAppeal #damppebbles

the appeal“IN A TOWN FULL OF SECRETS
SOMEONE WAS MURDERED.

SOMEONE WENT TO PRISON.

AND EVERYONE’S A SUSPECT.

CAN YOU UNCOVER THE TRUTH?

Dear Reader – enclosed are all the documents you need to solve a case. It starts with the arrival of two mysterious newcomers to the small town of Lockwood, and ends with a tragic death.

Someone has already been convicted of this brutal murder and is currently in prison, but we suspect they are innocent. What’s more, we believe far darker secrets have yet to be revealed.

Throughout the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons and the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick’s life-saving medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. Yet we believe they gave themselves away. In writing. The evidence is all here, between the lines, waiting to be discovered.

Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth?

The standout debut thriller of 2021 that delivers multiple brilliant twists, and will change the way you think about the modern crime novel.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of the utterly captivating The Appeal by Janice Hallett. The Appeal is published by Viper Books today (that’s 14th January 2021) and is available in hardcover and digital formats, with the paperback to follow in the Summer. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Appeal but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early proof of the book.

The Appeal is quite a feat! Writing and publishing a book doesn’t strike me as a simple thing to do (more like a mammoth, complicated one) and I give massive kudos to anyone who achieves it. Authors, you have my everlasting respect. But to write THIS book…WOW! The Appeal is like nothing I’ve read before and, if the fascinating yet unusual format catches on, I don’t think another author will be able to achieve the heady heights of sheer brilliance Hallett has reached in this, her debut. It’s very early in the year to be saying this but, if you only listen to one of my book recommendations this year, please, please, please make it this one. Get yourself a copy of The Appeal.

Normally at this point in a damppebbles review I would give my take on the plot. However, The Appeal is a very different reading experience and everything you need to know is written in the blurb. I started this book without a clue what to expect. I hadn’t looked the book up online, I hadn’t read the back or the inside cover. And from the opening introduction, I was intrigued. A murder, you say? Someone possibly wrongly convicted? Sounds pretty ‘normal fare’ for us crime fiction readers so far, right? But then it starts to get really interesting. The book, the story, is told using emails, reports, messenger transcripts and other digital forms of communication. All of it. From start to finish. It’s a brilliant achievement and I take my hat off to the author. To tell such an intricate story with so much detail in this format must have taken one heck of a lot of work and planning. The cherry on the top is that you, the reader, are tasked with solving the case. The evidence is laid before you and you need to read between the lines, spot the hidden truths in amongst the recovered conversations. The Appeal is something very special and I devoured it.

The book is set around an amateur dramatics group called The Fairway Players. Quite early on we’re given a list of those who make up the Players, which made my heart sink a little as there are quite a few names (along with their ages and their relationship to other members of the group). My ageing brain isn’t as quick or as capable as it used to be. So at this point, I did something I don’t normally do. I put a page marker in my copy of the book so I could refer back to the list if I needed to. Including the list so early in the book is a masterstroke. It’s then repeated later on as well which I think really helped cement who everyone is. Before long I was reading the email conversations between Hallett’s wonderfully written characters quickly and with ease.

And what a group of characters they are! The author has created an absorbing character study that shows exactly how ‘human’ humans can be. Flawed, deceitful, selfish and secretive. Unendingly loyal and protective. The email exchanges between these people are both fascinating and uncomfortable at times. You see scenarios from different points of view. Situations are ever so slightly changed in their retelling so the author of the email looks a little bit better than they would have done otherwise. One character’s desperation is utterly cringeworthy and, oh my gosh, the way they speak to each other…. Well, I was astounded! I felt on edge reading these exchanges, I wanted to know more as it was clear we were cleverly being drip-fed information bit by bit. What was going on behind the scenes, what secrets were we not party to? I loved it. Everything about The Appeal worked for me.

Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would, yes. I’ve barely scratched the surface of The Appeal in this review. I’ve not mentioned Roderick Tanner QC, Femi or Charlotte. I’ve not mentioned the fundraising drive to raise money for Poppy’s Appeal. I’ve not mentioned that there are no traditional chapters in this book (which I found a little mind bending until I got used to the format). And I’ve also not mentioned that you don’t find out who has been murdered until around two-thirds of the way through the book. Nor who has been put in prison for the crime.

The Appeal is a very clever, all-consuming novel which I struggled to put down. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about the characters. For the duration of my time with this book, I was 100% in its pages and now I’ve finished it, I feel a little bereft. For the record, I failed to work out whodunit. I spent a large proportion of the book hoping the author was actually going to tell us who the culprit was as I was flummoxed and if it was down to me, the appeal wouldn’t have been solved. I may not have solved the case but I had a few suspicions about a few other things and I was right about those so not all is lost. An absolutely outstanding piece of clever, brilliantly written crime fiction that deserves all the awards. I savoured every single moment I had with The Appeal. This is a book you need on your reading list. This is a book everyone is going to be talking about and oh boy, does it deserve it. Compelling and utterly irresistible. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Appeal. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Appeal by Janice Hallett was published in the UK by Viper Books on 14th January 2021 and is available in hardcover 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

janice hallettJanice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat, a psychological thriller starring Cillian Murphy, Thandie Newton and Jamie Bell. The Appeal is her first novel.

#BookReview: Q by Christina Dalcher #QBook #damppebbles

“It begins as a way to make things fairer. An education system that will benefit everyone. It’s all in the name of progress.

This is what Elena Fairchild believes. As a teacher in one of the government’s elite schools for children with high ‘Q’ scores, she witnesses the advantages first-hand.

But when Elena’s own daughter scores lower than expected, she is taken away. Elena follows her to her new home. A government institute.

What she finds there makes Elena question everything. Because this world is about perfection – and that comes at a terrible price.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my first review of 2021 with you which is for Q by Christina Dalcher. Q is published by HQ in paperback format today (that’s 7th January 2021). I chose to read and review a free ARC of Q but that has in no way influenced my review.

I have mixed feelings about Q. On the one hand the writing is powerful, the story immersive and the subject matter is highly emotive. On the other, I didn’t like any of the characters apart from one (one character in particular made my blood absolutely boil to the point he nearly sent me into a screaming rage) and despite frequently wanting to return to the book, I found myself needing to take regular breaks to calm my blood pressure and just stop thinking! Q is a devastating story which could, in fact, be all too plausible. I have Vox by the same author on my TBR and I now know that it’s going to break me, but I can’t wait to read it!

A new system has been implemented in the US which grades adults and children according to their intelligence, family standing, their income (or the income of their parents) and their attendance rate, among other things. Students and staff in the ‘new and improved’ school system are subjected to monthly high ranking tests to determine their individual ‘Q Score’.  The ‘Q’ is everything and can make or break a family in many ways. But that’s not something teacher Dr Elena Fairchild needs to worry about. Her husband, Malcolm, is the Deputy Education Secretary and her two daughters – teenage Anne and 9-year-old Freddie – are successful. But Elena has always had concerns over Freddie who is struggling with the pressure and suffers regular panic attacks come test day. Having slightly smudged Freddie’s prenatal Q score, Elena is always watchful over her younger, slightly less able daughter. And then Freddie fails the monthly test and is sent from her ‘green’ tiered middle school to a ‘yellow’ state school – the lowest of the low. Completely cut-off from seeing or speaking to her daughter, Elena does the only thing that makes sense. She fails her own test and gets sent to the same isolated school in Kansas. But what if everything you thought you knew wasn’t actually true? What if you’re now part of an evil, despicable plan to change humanity forever…?

Elena is an interesting character and I wanted to like and sympathise with her situation but there were certain things about her which irritated me no end. For example, despite the dawning realisation of the situation she finds herself in, she appeared to be part of the problem, alongside a teenage Malcolm. The flashbacks to ‘then’ detail a time when Elena and Malcolm were friends at school. Bullied and harassed for being nerds, the last in line for the school canteen, missing out on social events – you know how these things go when you’re a kid. The popular kids versus the not so popular kids. So a colour card system is introduced (oh the power these teenagers have in their school!) which soon puts the popular kids at the back of the queue. I guess I felt Elena only stepped up to the mark when her own family were affected, which I think is what the author was going for. A case of everything is hunky dory providing it doesn’t affect me…. But I also think the author wants you to side with this determined female lead, see the wrong she has done, forgive past decisions and cheer her on as she battles onward. But I just couldn’t. Elena Fairchild was past redemption for me. Nothing she said or did would save her.

In Q I met quite possibly the most frustrating, despicable and controlling character I have ever met in fiction – Elena’s husband, Malcolm Fairchild. He made my blood boil. The way he treated his wife and children, particularly Freddie, made me feel deeply uncomfortable and I hated him with every ounce of my being. I don’t think a book has ever affected me the way Q has. I went from being angry to being frustrated to being sad that the book was over and sobbing quietly to myself. I don’t cry often at the end of books and to be honest, I was surprised I did at Q but I think it really got under my skin.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I found Q to be a difficult read but I became so emotionally involved with the story and, despite not liking the characters, there was an attachment of some sort there which left me feeling a little bereft once I had finished the last page. The subject matter is highly emotive and the story-telling doesn’t pull any punches which I applaud Dalcher for. I found Q to be a very compelling novel despite wanting to throw it through the window several times because it made me angry (I hope that’s what the author wants her readers to feel!). I would have liked Elena to be a little less agreeable and to have a little more sass. She felt almost ‘sheep-like’ at times and that frustrated me no end. But, that aside, this is a very readable book which will be hard to forget. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Q. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Q by Christina Dalcher was published in the UK by HQ on 7th January 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio, 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreadsBookshop.org |

Christina Dalcher is a linguist, novelist, and flash fiction writer living in the American South. She has over 100 publishing credits in the UK, US, and Australia. Recognitions include first prize in the Bath Flash Fiction Award (February 2019), second prize in the 2016 Bartleby Snopes Dialogue-Only Contest, and nominations for The Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions.

Her flash fiction appears in The Molotov Cocktail Prize Winners’ anthology, Whiskey Paper, Split Lip Magazine, (b)OINK, Five2One Magazine, and several others.

Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency represents Christina’s novels, including the international best seller VOX.

Christina lives with her husband and the ghosts of several dogs and cats.

To read more about her, or see samples of her work, please visit http://www.christinadalcher.com

The damppebbles Top Ten (sort of!) of 2020 #amreading #amreviewing #amblogging #Bestof2020 #TopReadsof2020 #BookRecommendations #bookblogger #damppebbles

Hello bookish friends and welcome to my final post in a year many of us would rather forget. What a stinker, eh? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the year may have been a big pile of crud but the books have been outstanding, There have been some real beauties published this year and I’ve had the pleasure of reading some fabulous titles. Personally, I have immersed myself in fiction to escape what has been going on around us and as a result – despite having the hubby working from home and home-schooling the kids from March to September – I’ve read more books this year than I have in the last couple of years. Woohoo!

I also managed to complete the #20booksofsummer20 challenge which I have never  even come vaguely close to doing in the past. Being a slow reader I didn’t believe it was possible for me to reach the heady heights of Cathy at 746 Books‘ ‘read 20 books in three months’ challenge. Seems all I needed was a lockdown and a target, who knew?! I set myself a target of reading 25% a day which was tough to stick to but by Jove, it worked!

Other blog achievements this year included getting into the groove with posting regularly, which in turn has resulted in more visits and views than last year. And that leads me nicely into thanking YOU for your support.  When I first started damppebbles nearly FIVE years ago I had no idea the impact it would have on my life. Reading has always been my passion but I’ve never really discussed books with other people (mainly because I didn’t know anyone who was as keen on reading and books as I was!). The book community welcomed me with open arms and I am truly grateful for that every day. Thank you for following my blog and being interested in my bookish thoughts. I expected maybe ten or so people (in other words, my family) to follow damppebbles (and I would have been incredibly happy with that) but to have over 140 x that many followers is just mind-blowing. Thank you, thank you and thank you again. Your shares, retweets, likes and comments mean the world to me (and yes, I know I’m terrible at replying to comments. I honestly try and keep up 😬😂).

Anyhoo, top ten books of the year and I’m hoping you can’t count 🤭. Here they are in all their gorgeous, sparkly (sometimes gory) glory and in no particular order…

The Hunted by Gabriel Bergmoser
I bloody loved it and I couldn’t put this book down! The Hunted is a terror filled, edge of your seat whirlwind and I was completely immersed in the story from beginning to end. I know some readers baulk at the idea of reading a horror novel but I urge you to give this one a try. Yes, it’s bloody and a little gruesome but it’s such an enthralling, gripping, unsettling story that will worm it’s way under your skin. You don’t want to miss out on this book. An outstanding horror novel that I heartily recommend.
My Review of The Hunted

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
I loved Home Before Dark and I think it will stay with me for some time to come. I’ve come to expect a lot from Sager’s novels (thanks to the magnificent brilliance that is Final Girls) and although I doubt any book (by any author) will ever come close to Final Girls in my eyes, Home Before Dark gets a lot closer than most. It’s absolutely marvellous and I expect it will feature on my ‘top reads of 2020’ list. I loved Home Before Dark and highly recommend you give it a go if you’re not afraid of things that go bump (or in this case THUD – tap, tap, tap…) in the night. Chilling, engaging and deliciously tense. Highly recommended.
My Review of Home Before Dark

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica (translated by Sarah Moses)
Would I recommend this book? I would, most definitely, but it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s savage, brave, unsettling and utterly unflinching fiction at it’s very best. The way the ‘special meat’ is treated is inhumane and stomach churning and makes me question the way livestock is treated. Vegetarianism could be the way forward for me following this novel! If you’re looking for a book which is dark, disturbing and wholly involving then this is it. Bazterrica does not spare her reader and I absolutely loved it! Highly recommended. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you…
My Review of Tender is the Flesh

Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
This one is going on the list of favourite books of all time. You don’t have to be a crime fiction aficionado to enjoy this tense and intoxicating read (I’m certainly not). I will say though, that if you’re planning on reading any of the books which feature on Malcolm’s list, then you might want to do that first as there are a few spoilers and an outline of each is given by the author for those who haven’t read them. This book is so much more than you expect and I savoured every moment of it. I urge you to pick up a copy of Rules for Perfect Murders, whether you consider yourself to be bookish or not. It’s a wonderful, thoroughly entertaining homage to the crime and mystery genre and I couldn’t put it down. Nor did I want to. Tightly plotted and packed full of delicious suspense with a character I fell head over heels in love with. Highly recommended.
My Review of Rules for Perfect Murders

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen
I loved The Stolen Sisters. It’s the most enjoyable, absorbing and exciting psychological thriller I have read in a long time. I was 100% in the pages of this book living the story alongside the characters. A highly emotive read that is incredibly tense and the ultimate page-turner. Did I mention that I loved The Stolen Sisters? Oh well, worth mentioning again. I loved The Stolen Sisters! Louise Jensen is a superb writer. It was an absolute joy to read this book and I will savour the memory of it for a long time to come. Highly recommended.
My Review of The Stolen Sisters

The White Road by Sarah Lotz
The White Road is sublime. Atmospheric, creepy and I was living the story from the opening paragraphs alongside our protagonist, Simon Newman. Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, without a moment’s hesitation. I loved this book because the characters felt so very real to me. I loved this book because it’s like nothing I’ve read before. I loved this book because I think this is my first (literary) trip to Mt. Everest and I find it fascinating the need some people have to conquer the mountain, to risk life and limb, to push your body to it’s absolute limits. It’s chilling, it’s atmospheric and it’s totally involving. Impossible to put down, impossible to forget. An outstanding piece of fiction.
My Review of The White Road

Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims
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.
My Review of Thirteen Storeys

The Mayfly (Charlie Priest #1) by James Hazel
The Mayfly is brilliant and I’ve already downloaded the second book in the series. I loved the chapters set at the end of the Second World War. The unease the author creates is palpable. I didn’t see the big reveal coming but it was perfect and done very well. The entire plot had me hook, line and sinker. If you love tense, gutsy crime novels with just about the right amount of ‘grisly’, you will love The Mayfly. Crime fiction at its finest. Highly recommended.
My Review of The Mayfly

Halfway by B. E. Jones
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, yes! Without a moment’s hesitation. I loved Halfway and I’m so glad I read it. I loved the entire book but I really enjoyed the ending, which was blood-soaked and so very satisfying. I think one of the most impressive things for me though was how the author managed to completely change my opinion of two of the main characters as the end of the book approached. Beautifully written, utterly compelling and really quite addictive. Highly recommended.
My Review of Halfway

I also wanted to give a special mention to The Appeal by Janice Hallett which is being published in January by Viper Books. It’s not officially ‘on the list’ because it’s not published yet but please, please make sure you get hold of a copy…

The Appeal by Janice Hallett
The Appeal is a very clever, all-consuming novel which I struggled to put down. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about the characters. For the duration of my time with this book, I was 100% in its pages and now I’ve finished it, I feel a little bereft. An absolutely outstanding piece of clever, brilliantly written crime fiction that deserves all the awards. I savoured every single moment I had with The Appeal. This is a book you need on your reading list. This is a book everyone is going to be talking about and oh boy, does it deserve it. Compelling and utterly irresistible. Highly recommended.
My Review of The Appeal will be published on 14th January 2021

And my book of 2020 is…

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

What utter gorgeousness and all in one blog post. I heartily recommend that you read all of these wonderful books. They all have something very special about them and have brightened an otherwise difficult year for me.

Have a peaceful and safe New Year, bookish lovelies, and I will see you on the other side. I’ll be sharing my #R3COMM3ND3D2020 After-Show Party post in January which will feature all 144 books chosen, along with our illustrious winner – the mighty We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker (don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but it’s my book of the year, without a shadow of a doubt 😜) – so keep an eye out for that. Thank you for your support through a difficult year. You are AMAZING! Stay safe, stay bookish and keep reading. Lots of love, Emma @damppebbles x

Fancy buying one of the books on my top ten(ish) of the year? Then please check out my Bookshop.org affiliate page: Bookshop.org/shop/damppebbles

#R3COMM3ND3D2020 with #Author Joy Kluver (@JoyKluver) #JoyKluver #DIBernadetteNoel #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Hello. How the heck are you? It’s been a few days since we last spoke. If you celebrated, how was your Christmas? I hope, despite it not being quite what many of us initially planned, it was a good one and you received bookish delights galore. Today marks day 53 of #R3COMM3ND3D2020 and the FINAL post of the 2020 season. It’s been a tough old year for many of us but the books have been outstanding and helped many of us escape what’s been going on around us. I have loved sharing your #R3COMM3ND3D2020 picks since 1st November more than ever. Thank you to everyone who has liked, shared, retweeted and commented on the posts. You make #R3COMM3ND3D something very special. But the show’s not over just yet…

Today I am thrilled to welcome a brilliant blogger and soon-to-be debut author to share three of their favourite books published this year. It’s the fabulous Joy Kluver who shares her love of (mostly) crime fiction over at Joy Kluver. It’s Joy’s birthday today so I would like to take this opportunity to wish her a very happy birthday 🥳. I hope you have a lovely day. Joy is also on the brink of publishing her debut novel with Bookouture in February next year so keep an eye out for the first book in the DI Bernadette Noel series. Personally, I can’t wait to read it and it’s high on my most eagerly anticipated books of 2021 list.

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 Joy chose…

The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford
The Lost Lights of St Kilda is a sweeping love story that will cross oceans and decades. It is a moving and deeply vivid portrait of two lovers, a desolate island, and the extraordinary power of hope in the face of darkness.
Joy’s Review of The Lost Lights of St Kilda

Body Language by A. K. Turner
Novels set in mortuaries have been around for quite a while but there’s a new girl in town and her name is Cassie Raven. With dyed black hair, piercings and tattoos, she’s not your average mortuary technician. And thank goodness for that. A.K. Turner has breathed fresh life into a setting that has to remain within the rules of science.
Joy’s Review of Body Language

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
This is my book of the year. Chris Whitaker immerses us in the lives of Duchess Day Radley and her younger brother, Robin. Aged 13 and 5 respectively at the beginning of the story, their lot in life is pretty bad. It’s an epic tale of revenge and redemption. The writing is utterly sublime and quite honestly, it’s not just my book of the year but one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Joy’s Review of We Begin at the End

Brilliant choices, thanks so much Joy. I am absolutely over the moon to see We Begin at the End on your list as that makes it the clear winner of #R3COMM3ND3D2020 with FIVE votes. Huge congratulations to Chris Whitaker and the team at Zaffre Books. A very worthy winner as, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, it’s my book of the year without a shadow of a doubt (😉).

If Joy 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 Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford
Body Language by A.K. Turner
We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

About Joy Kluver:
I’m a blogger and soon to be published author! My debut novel featuring DI Bernadette Noel will be published by Bookouture in February 2021. But I’ll still be sharing the book love on my blog.

Joy’s Blog and Social Media Links:
| Joy Kluver | Twitter @JoyKluver | Facebook |

That’s all folks! Well, for #R3COMM3ND3D2020 anyway. I’m off to write my ‘books of the year’ post now which I may or may not get whittled down in time to post before the end of 2020 😜. If I don’t, I hope you have a very happy New Year. Thank you for your support over the last twelve months. It means the world to me. You are AMAZING!

Don’t forget to start making a list of those 2021 releases as #R3COMM3ND3D will return towards the end of next year. It might not be exactly the same as the last few years – not sure in what way yet – but it will return in one form or another. Stay safe, stay bookish and keep reading. Love ya!

#R3COMM3ND3D2020 with #Author Terry Tyler (@TerryTyler4) #TheVisitor #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. It’s the final day of #R3COMM3ND3D2020 before Christmas and what a treat I have in store for you. Before I introduce today’s guest though I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful Christmas if you’re celebrating over the next week.

Today I am delighted to welcome author Terry Tyler to share three of her favourite books published this year. Terry’s most recent release – The Visitor – was chosen only last week by Sue at Sue’s Musings and is a compelling post-apocalyptic murder mystery set in a pandemic. Sign me up, sounds like my kind of book!

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 Terry has chosen…

The End of the Road by Anna Legat
This is my favourite sort of post apocalyptic story – shocking and bleak, and all about the characters. Each one is a story in itself.
Terry’s Review of The End of the Road

Nest of Ashes by G. Lawrence
I’m Tudor addicted, and Gemma Lawrence’s fictional accounts of the wives of Henry VIII are the best I’ve read. I can’t wait for Book 2!
Terry’s Review of Nest of Ashes

Plumas de Muerte: Tequila Journals and Dreams by Phil Motel
A memoir about a time when the author was living in a motel, working at a tedious desk job and drinking far too much. It’s real life, warts and all. One of those writers who can make the mundane fascinating to read.
Terry’s Review of Plumas de Muerte: Tequila Journals and Dreams by Phil Motel

Three really interesting choices and a few additions to the terrifying TBR. Thanks so much, Terry.

If Terry 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 End of the Road by Anna Legat
Nest of Ashes by G. Lawrence
Plumas de Muerte: Tequila Journals and Dreams by Phil Motel

About The Visitor:
In 2024, a mystery virus ravages the entire world. ‘Bat Fever’ is highly contagious and one hundred per cent lethal.

A cottage tucked away in an isolated Norfolk village seems like the ideal place to sit out a catastrophic pandemic, but some residents of Hincham resent the arrival of Jack, Sarah and their friends, while others want to know too much about them.

What the villagers don’t know is that beneath Sarah’s cottage is a fully-stocked, luxury survival bunker. A post-apocalyptic ‘des res’.

Hincham isolates itself from the rest of the country, but the deaths continue―and not from the virus. There’s a killer on the loose, but is it a member of the much-depleted community, or somebody from outside? Paranoia is rife, as friend suspects friend, and everybody suspects the newcomers.

Most terrifying of all is that nobody knows who’s next on the list…

The Visitor is Terry Tyler’s twenty-second Amazon publication, and is set in the same world as her Project Renova series, while being a completely separate, stand-alone novel.

amazon.co.ukamazon.comGoodreads |

About Terry Tyler:
Terry Tyler is the author of twenty-two books available from Amazon, the latest being The Visitor, a post-apocalyptic murder mystery set in the same world as her popular Project Renova series. She is a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team, and likes to read historical fiction (12th-16th century), fiction about the collapse of society and bleak dystopian futures, and non-fiction based on travel, sociological and anthropological subject matter.

Terry enjoys a TV binge – she is a Walking Dead obsessive, and also likes South Park, political/historical/crime documentaries, crime thrillers, and series that feature Travis Fimmel and Jason Momoa striding across barren landscapes. She lives with her husband in the North East of England.

Terry’s Blog and Social Media Links:
Terry Tyler Book Reviews | Twitter @TerryTyler4 |

#R3COMM3ND3D2020 is now closed. Fifty-four brilliant book bloggers and authors have shared three of their favourite 2020 books with us (I have one more post left to share on 29th December). I hope you’ve found a book (or five!) to add to your TBR. #R3COMM3ND3D will return next year in the form of #R3COMM3ND3D2021 so start making a note of any cracking 2021 releases now and keep an eye out for the sign-up form from June onwards. Thank so much to everyone who has taken part, shared, retweeted and generally supported the feature. YOU make it something special ❤️

#R3COMM3ND3D2020 with #BookBlogger Julie Morris (@book_problem) #ALittleBookProblem #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Hello bookish friends and welcome to a brand new week on damppebbles. It’s day 51 of #R3COMM3ND3D2020 and I’m sad to say that we’re nearing the end of this year’s feature. But what a blast it’s been! If you’re an author or a book blogger and would like to shout about three books published in 2020 which you love then fear not, there’s still a smidge of time left to do it. I have a mere four spaces left so if you fancy taking part, pop your details and your books on the form at the end of this post.

Today I am delighted to welcome another fabulous book blogger to share the book love. Joining me on this wintry Monday is the fantastic Julie of A Little Book Problem. Julie’s blog is absolutely superb and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Head on over and give her a follow if you don’t already. You won’t regret it, I promise!

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 Julie’s three #R3COMM3ND3D2020 picks…

Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies by The Secret Barrister
I’ve gone with two non-fiction titles this year. For me, it has been a year of increased non-fiction reading, I think I’m trying to make sense of a nonsensical world. As an ex-lawyer, I know how important the law is to the daily lives of everyone, and it frustrates me how little understanding many people have of the law and how it protects them, and how much nonsense and fake news floats around that people take as gospel. This book seeks to address some of those myths, and inform people of why the law is important, and it does it brilliantly. It is my book of the year.
Julie’s Review of Fake Law

Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver
This book just blew me away with its originality. I sometimes wish I could have a peek in Will Carver’s mind and see how his brain works because he comes up with ideas no one else would ever dream up. Every one of his books is unique, and he outdid himself with this one. Narrated by Evil itself, its one of those book you never forget once you’ve read it. Orenda has fast become my favourite publisher, because of output like this.
Julie’s Review of Hinton Hollow Death Trip

More Than a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Another non-fiction title, this one a must read for every forty-something woman who wants to feel understood. This book made me laugh and cry, quite a feat for a non-fiction title. Like having a slightly drunken conversation about life with that friend you’ve known forever. I’d like to give a copy to every middle-aged woman I’ve ever met and say, ‘See, you ARE normal!’
Julie’s Review of More Than a Woman

Three fantastic choices, thank you Julie. This is the second time we’ve seen Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver which puts it in joint third place along with She Lies Close by Sharon Doering, The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor and Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton.

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

Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies by The Secret Barrister
Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver
More Than a Woman by Caitlin Moran

About Julie:
Julie has been blogging at A Little Book Problem for four years. She hosts three popular guest features on her blog, as well as reviewing books and rambling about various un-bookish matters. She was recently named the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Media Star for 2020.

Julie’s Blog and Social Media Links:
A Little Book ProblemTwitter @book_problemFacebookInstagram @alittlebookproblem |

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 Anne Williams (@Williams13Anne) #BeingAnne #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Hello and welcome to Sunday on damppebbles! I hope you have a good book on the go this weekend. It’s day FIFTY of #R3COMM3ND3D2020 and today I am absolutely delighted to welcome a bookish gem to share their three #R3COMM3ND3D picks with us. It’s the fabulous, award-winning Anne of Being Anne. Anne is one of the loveliest people you could meet and an absolute superstar. If you don’t already subscribe to Anne’s posts, then make sure that changes!

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 Anne has chosen…

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin
A book filled with magic, and not only because of the sublime writing – and the characters are stunning. I loved this book – there’s a delicious darkness about it, but also a lightness that makes your heart sing, with a final note of hope that will long remain. Stunning.
Anne’s Review of Wild Spinning Girls

The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford
A quite remarkable dual timeline story, beautifully written: one of its threads, perhaps the most dominant one, focuses on the community eking out a living on the island of St Kilda. The descriptions of the natural world and the impact of the seasons are exceptional – and it’s also a stunning and moving love story. Quite unforgettable.
Anne’s Review of The Lost Lights of St Kilda

The Memory by Judith Barrow
This could have been a really difficult read with its focus on that emotional maelstrom that dementia brings – further complicated by the way the characters’ lives have unfolded, with a single significant memory driving an ever-present hatred that underpins the story. The way it’s structured is absolute perfection, one timeline focused on a slow-moving 24 hours, the other following all the memories. Powerful and compelling, a story superbly told, and an entirely unforgettable emotional experience.
Anne’s Review of The Memory

Three absolutely stunning books, thank you Anne. All three of your choices would make beautiful Christmas gifts.

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

Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin
The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford
The Memory by Judith Barrow

About Anne:
Anne Williams is a book blogger and reviewer, at Being Anne: the blog is now approaching eight years old. She lives in Wetherby in Yorkshire, and took early retirement six years ago to do everything she enjoys, including reading and reviewing as many books as she possibly can, and indulging herself with exotic holidays. Life changed a little few years ago, when she became carer for her mother: the travel had to stop for a while, but nothing can come between Anne and the reading. Her blog won the Best Pal award at the Annual Bloggers’ Bash for three years running, and she was delighted to win the RNA’s Media Star of the Year award in 2019.

Anne’s Blog and Social Media Links:
| Being Anne | Twitter @Williams13Anne | Facebook |

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 Duncan (@ExoticCrimeFict) #ExoticFictionReader #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Hello bookish friends and welcome to Saturday on damppebbles. How are your Christmas preparations going  if you celebrate? Less than a week to go until the big day and I FINALLY mention Christmas 😂.

One of the things I love most about #R3COMM3ND3D is getting to meet new bloggers. Today I am delighted to welcome another fairly ‘new to me’ blogger to share their three #R3COMM3ND3D2020 picks with us, it’s Duncan of Exotic Fiction Reader. I’m a huge fan of translated crime fiction and I’ve already found some great recommendations over on Duncan’s blog.

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 Duncan’s three #R3COMM3ND3D picks…

The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard
Set in the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, translated from the French by David Warriner, this is a rich and absorbing story of a Mexican detective investigating the disappearance of a fisher woman in a remote and tight-lipped community. Family feuds, misplaced loyalty and fabulous landscapes each play their part in a fabulous read.
Duncan’s Review of The Coral Bride

Summer of Reckoning by Marion Brunet
Translated by Karen Gregory, this is the story of two French sisters living in a small town near Avignon. A place where suspicion jealousy, resentment and racial prejudice lead to tragedy. The novel is so striking as Brunet accurately articulates human thought and interaction in all its inconsistencies in such a powerful and realistic way.
Duncan’s Review of Summer of Reckoning

Like Flies From Afar by K. Ferrari
One day in the life of Argentine mobster Luis Machi who discovers an unknown enemy had left him with a unsuspected problem that he urgently needs to dispose of. The prose, translated by Adrian Nathan West, is fast and unrelenting. It’s like a roller-coaster ride in Machi’s two hundred thousand dollar BMW, just don’t check in the boot!
Duncan’s Review of Like Flies From Afar

Thanks so much, Duncan. Three great picks which are going straight on the terrifying TBR!

If Duncan 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 Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard
Summer of Reckoning by Marion Brunet
Like Flies From Afar by K. Ferrari

About Duncan:
A long term reader of fast paced thrillers, I gradually found myself less enthusiastic for predictable storylines and locations. Then I discovered there is another world out there as started to get my crime fix overseas. I am now a keen reader and reviewer in mainly translated crime and some literary fiction from around the world. The more exotic the location, the better, we can travel further in the literature we read.

Duncan’s Blog and Social Media Links:
Exotic Fiction ReaderTwitter @ExoticCrimeFictFacebook GroupBookshop.org |

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 Eva (@noveldeelights) #NovelDeelights #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2020

Hello and welcome to Friday on damppebbles. It’s day 48 of this year’s #R3COMM3ND3D and my TBR is bowing under the weight of all of the brilliant new books which have been added since 1st November. Joining me today is one of my favourite bookish people. It’s the absolutely fabulous Eva of Novel Deelights. Eva’s blog is a treasure trove of treats for us book lovers so if you don’t already subscribe to her posts, make sure you change that right away!

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 Eva’s three 2020 picks…

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
I wasn’t able to put it into words when I first read it and I’m still unable to now. Whitty is one of a kind and everyone needs to be sprinkled by his magic. (Does that sound wrong? 🤔)
[DP: Erm….. 😳]

I Am Dust by Louise Beech
One of the many joys in picking up a book by Louise Beech is that you never know what to expect. This extremely talented author criss-crosses and combines genres like no other. The one thing you CAN always count on is truly glorious and beautiful writing. And quite possibly the need for tissues at some point or other. I Am Dust left me speechless. I loved it. I don’t know what more I can say.
Eva’s Review of I Am Dust

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins
In the midst of all the craziness this year brought, it took a special kind of book to hold my attention. Magpie Lane managed that effortlessly. An atmospheric and brilliantly plotted character-driven psychological thriller that captivated me from start to finish.
Eva’s Review of Magpie Lane

Three fantastic choices, thanks Eva. We Begin at the End has now streaked ahead of everyone else and is in the lead with four votes. But this is the third time we’ve seen I Am Dust so watch out Chris! I am, of course, over the moon to see all of the love for We Begin at the End as, stop me if I’ve mentioned this before, it’s my book of the year without a doubt! It’s also worth mentioning that Louise Beech’s Call Me Star Girl was joint-second place winner alongside Blood and Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson last year!

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

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
I Am Dust by Louise Beech
Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

About Eva:
Eva, reader of books (occasionally), blogger of reviews (rarely), drinker of wine (often)

Eva’s Blog and Social Media Links:
Novel DeelightsTwitter @noveldeelightsInstagram @noveldeelights |

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)

#GuestReview: Cooking for Cannibals by Rich Leder (@richleder) @LaughRiotPress @cobaltdinosaur #CookingForCannibals #damppebbles

Fountain of youth? More like murderous medication!

Carrie Kromer pushes the boundaries of science, not her social life. The brilliant behavioral gerontologist’s idea of a good time is hanging out with her beloved lab rats and taking care of her elderly mother and the other eccentric old folks at the nursing home. So no one is more surprised than Carrie when she steals the lab’s top-secret, experimental medicine for aging in reverse.

Two-time ex-con Johnny Fairfax dreams of culinary greatness. But when his corrupt parole officer tries to drag him from the nursing home kitchen, the suddenly young-again residents spring to his defence and murder the guy—and then request Johnny cook them an evidence devouring dinner to satisfy their insatiable side-effect appetite.

As their unexpected mutual attraction gets hot, Carrie and Johnny find themselves caught up with the authorities who arrive to investigate the killing. But even more dangerous than the man-eating not-so-senior citizens could be the arrival of death-dealing pharmaceutical hitmen.

Can Carrie and Johnny find true love in all this bloody madness?

Cooking for Cannibals is a dark comic thriller with a heaping helping of romance. If you like fast-paced plots, unconventional characters, and humor that crosses the line, then you’ll have a feast with Rich Leder’s wild ride.”

Welcome to damppebbles. Ryan here again. I’m sure you have a favourite book in the “Gerontologist and Cook” genre and are fearing it is a saturated market (🤪). But read on, for this is a novel not be missed!  Cooking for Cannibals is fast paced, thought provoking, humorous and characterful, and will leave you scouring the book sites and book shops for more from Rich Leder.

Leder has created a comic novel the likes of which Carl Hiaasen would be proud of. Brilliantly characterised characters, larger than life miscreants, a situation that no matter how twisted it seems can always be wrung further, sucking helpless readers in to find out what is going to happen next.

Carrie and Johnny are two interesting lead characters. As the blurb explains, you wouldn’t expect to find that they know each other. So when the storyline throws them together, facing everyone and everything private pharma can throw at them, they make an interesting pairing!  If you had an age reversing drug rejuvenating the inhabitants of an old folks home and needed to keep it quiet, you would not want your main confident to be someone this different from you who you didn’t trust, but that’s exactly the situation Carrie and Johnny end up in.  I loved how well we got to know these two characters, their feelings, drives, doubts and thoughts on the various situations they found themselves in.  Something a standalone novel allows is that ability for an author to draw everything out of a character rather than having to save some secret backstory or character flaw for the next book.  Leder doesn’t just wring his characters out, he puts them through hell and back for the delectation and delight of the reader.

This is one of those rare books that I couldn’t put down. It delighted me every time I picked it up and it’s probably the only book I’ll ever read where I think the cannibals are in the right!  If you are looking for escapism after a rotten 2020. If you want to sit back and be entertained by a colourful cast on an incredible adventure, then this is your 2020 tonic!  A fantastic book from an author that I will happily return to.

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

Cooking for Cannibals by Rich Leder was published in the UK by Laugh Riot Press on 14th January 2021 and is available in digital format (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.ukamazon.com |

Rich Leder has been a working writer for more than three decades. His credits include 19 produced movies—television films for CBS, Lifetime, and Hallmark and feature films for Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Tri-Star Pictures, Longridge Productions, and Left Bank Films—and six novels for Laugh Riot Press.

He’s been the lead singer in a Detroit rock band, a restaurateur, a Little League coach, an indie film director, a literacy tutor, a magazine editor, a screenwriting coach, a wedding guru, a PTA board member, a commercial real estate agent, and a visiting artist for the UNCW Film Studies Department, among other things, all of which, it turns out, was grist for the mill.

He resides on the North Carolina coast with his awesome wife, Lulu, and is sustained by the visits home of their three fabulous children.