#BookReview | #GuestReview: Appetite For Risk by Jack Leavers (@jackleavers) @cobaltdinosaur #AppetiteForRisk #damppebbles

9781912881505.jpg“With Saddam Hussein deposed and an entire country in need of rebuilding, former Royal Marine John Pierce hears the siren call of adventure and opportunity. His fledgling UK business is struggling to support his young family and he has connections in the Iraqi capital – fate seems to point one way. 

In early 2004, Pierce rolls the dice when he jumps into a taxi in Jordan and heads for the turmoil of postwar Baghdad to grab a share of the reconstruction gold rush. But when Iraq spirals into the hell of a full-blown insurgency, he must rely on his wits and his local friends if he’s to evade the rampant bloodshed. 

As the action rolls across the blood-stained Iraqi landscape and embraces London’s seedy underbelly, Pierce tangles with the authorities at home and finds himself thrust into the heart of British and American covert operations against Al-Qaeda in Iraq. 

Having set out with little more than ambitious goals and an appetite for risk, can a determined ex-bootneck survive the mounting chaos unscathed and succeed in hitting the jackpot?”

It’s me! I’m back! Did you miss me?  I know Emma was here wasn’t she…talking about murders, detectives, thrillers and horror characters and the ever-growing TBR (honestly it’s huge). Well, she has a well-deserved break today, sitting with her feet up, Kindle on and waiting for the right time to open the wine [DP: What?! Seeing as this review will go live at 7am on a Sunday it’s a little early for that!]! whilst I tell you about something a little bit different!  Appetite For Risk is Jack’s Leavers debut novel, and it is clear this is an author with tales to tell.   Leavers’ novel takes us around Iraq with his main character, John Pierce, an ex-marine turned security consultant who puts in himself in dangerous situations to make money to support his family.  There is a strong air of realism for many of the characters in this book, as though they are closely based on friends of Jack Leavers, the atmosphere and locations he describes also feel so realistic that you are let with a sense of visiting somewhere you have never been.

John Pierce is a great main character.  He is not an all-action hero defeating Al Qaeda with little more than a penknife. He is a normal ex-soldier (if there is such a thing!) with an eye to the future and working hard to create his own business.  There was something endearing about the way John Pierce recognises his weaknesses and failures but cannot always convert them to successes – a realism that is lost in too many books of this genre.

The storytelling is also done well. Jack Leavers gradually lets characters develop in the book allowing you to decide who John can trust and who has more sinister plans.  There were two or three characters I expected to re-appear in the book after certain scenes, but come the end I realised that I had fallen for some clever red herrings.  The end was a surprise for me and I don’t want to provide spoilers but I can say it took me a couple of days to come to terms with it and decide it was clever and probably one of the most realistic endings I had read in a long time.

Would I read a second Jack Leavers book? I would!  I am sure John Pierce has more adventures in him and my suspicion is that Jack himself has more tales he would like to share!  This is a well-told story about one man in a dangerous situation, told by someone you would probably want with you if you were there too!

I read an eARC of Appetite for Risk.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Appetite For Risk by Jack Leavers was published in the UK by the Book Guild on 28th July 2019 and is available in paperback and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBook Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

jack leaversJack Leavers is a former Royal Marines Commando with over thirty-years’ experience in the military, private security, corporate investigations, maritime counter-piracy, and risk management. His varied career has included numerous deployments to conflict zones around the world such as Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, trouble spots in Africa, and the Somali pirate-infested waters of the Indian Ocean.

He continues to work in challenging environments and has now begun to pen novels inspired by some of the more enterprising projects that got the green light, and other audacious plans that didn’t.

When knuckling down to write, he’s normally based in London, UK.

Website: jackleavers.com
Twitter: @jackleavers

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #Author Anne Coates (@Anne_Coates1) @urbanebooks #SongsofInnocence #HannahWeybridge #damppebbles

Hello and welcome to damppebbles.  Happy Friday to you! I hope your weekend is overflowing with bookish delights.  I am delighted to welcome a wonderful author to the blog today, the ever so lovely Anne Coates.  Anne writes the brilliant Hannah Weybridge series which I have read and reviewed on the blog before.  Here’s my review of the first book in the series, Dancers in the Wind, along with a guest post written by Anne.  I have book three, Songs of Innocence waiting patiently for me on the shelf and I can’t wait to read it!

What is this #R3COMM3ND3D I speak of? It’s a chance for booky people to share the bookish love and shout about three must-read titles. Any book, any author, any genre, any publisher, one catch. The book must have been published in a certain year.  I’m currently sharing the book love from 2018 following an unexpected bout of illness but watch out for #R3COMM3ND3D2019 which will start on 1st November.  If you would like to throw your hat into the ring then please fill out the form below (places are limited).

Without further ado, here are Anne’s choices…

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Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey
It’s worth persevering with Ms Healey’s second book for the ending. It was a slow start for me but the quality of the writing kept me reading. The theme of a mother trying to help her depressed teenage daughter, who had disappeared for a few days and returned with no knowledge of what had happened, links in to the need in our society to embrace mental health issues.

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Skin Deep by Liz Nugent
Loved reading this, especially the opening set in the South of France where Cordelia Russell’s life has fallen apart. Leaving a corpse in her home, she sets out to find help from her one-time good-time friends and ends up at a glittering party… Ms Nugent creates a backstory of her character’s childhood and and builds up the sense of foreboding until the past meets the present with horrendous consequences. Fabulous story-telling skills.

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Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh
Loved the concept of the serial killer being on the jury and found the detail of how the killer operated and disguised himself fascinating. The fact that I guessed who it was didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book as I wanted to know how it was going to be resolved and my anxiety levels shot up as the plot evolved. Great tension-building writing.

Some excellent choices, thanks Anne.  I have read but not yet shared my review of Thirteen.  It’s such a good book!

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

Whistle in the Dark by Emma HealeySkin Deep by Liz NugentThirteen by Steve Cavanagh |

About Songs of Innocence by Anne Coates:
songs of innocence.jpgA woman’s body is found in a lake. Is it a sad case of suicide or something more sinister? Hannah Weybridge, still reeling from her friend’s horrific murder and the attempts on her own life, doesn’t want to get involved, but reluctantly agrees to look into the matter for the family.

The past however still stalks her steps, and a hidden danger accompanies her every move.

The third in the bestselling Hannah Weybridge thriller series, Songs of Innocence provides Hannah with her toughest and deadliest assignment yet…

| amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesHive |

About Anne Coates:
As a journalist, Anne interviewed all types of people and some of their situations made her think “What if…” And so, investigative journalist Hannah Weybridge was born… Anne had previously written seven non-fiction titles and two collections of short stories. She lives in London with three demanding cats and enjoys reading, going to the theatre and cinema, wining and dining.

Anne’s Social Media Links:
WebsiteTwitter @Anne_Coates1Facebook |

If you’re a book blogger, author or you work in publishing and have three books published this year that you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/PE483qCyrKEgV5Uq6)

 

#BookReview: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing #MyLovelyWife #damppebbles

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The twist at the end of the first chapter made me read through the nightJane Corry

Introducing the next generation of domestic thriller…

“Every marriage has secrets. Everyone has flaws. Your wife isn’t perfect – you know that – but then again nor are you.

But now a serial killer is on the loose in your small town, preying on young women. Fear is driving your well-behaved young daughter off the rails, and you find yourself in bed late at night, looking at the woman who lies asleep beside you.

Because you thought you knew the worst about her. The truth is you know nothing at all.

This is a thriller like nothing you’ve read before…”

A very warm welcome to damppebbles today and to my review of an incredibly popular debut, My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing. My Lovely Wife was published by Michael Joseph on 2nd May 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and eBook formats with the paperback to follow in October. I received a free ARC of My Lovely Wife but that has in no way influenced my review.

When you’re talking psychological thrillers, I think there’s something about the seemingly mundane and ordinary that sparks an interest in me. I like secrets. I like to try and work out what is going to happen before the first clue is even laid before the reader. Yes, I am a wannabe detective but then I guess many of us crime fiction fans are, right? And that’s why I had to read this book. The blurb grabbed my attention immediately. I wanted to know more. My interest was well and truly piqued. I HAD to know what deep, dark secrets the pages of My Lovely Wife held.

This is an enjoyable read. It’s not long into the book before the first curveball is flung at the unsuspecting reader. I found myself to be quite thrown, taken aback even, but in an ‘oooooh, what’s going on here?’ – interest well and truly piqued – kind of way. From that moment forward I felt a wonderful sense of impending doom as the wannabe detective side of me kicked in and was drawing all sorts of conclusions…

It’s very difficult to say anything about the plot of this book without giving away a shed load of spoilers so I’m going to avoid that by telling you as little as possible about it and stick to my observations and how I felt about it. What I can tell you is that book is told from the point of view of the nameless husband (that’s right, we never actually discover his name, which was interesting because I picked up on this fairly early on and was on tenterhooks throughout looking for it!). He and his wife, Millicent, plus their two children who are in their early teens live, what on the surface, appears to be a fairly quiet life in Florida. She’s a real estate agent and he’s a tennis coach. But they have secrets! Oh boy, do they have secrets! I enjoyed this book but there were several aspects of this ‘secret’ which I struggled with. I couldn’t quite get my head around how it was so normal for them. How two random people who met on an aeroplane 15 years ago could haphazardly fall into the life they led and be completely OK with it. There were no discussions on the ethics of the situation between the two of them, no attacks of conscience and not once did they seen to doubt their situation (nothing significant anyway). Everything felt far too normal for me. I wanted peaks and troughs, I wanted questions and insecurities, moments of pure panic when the realisation hit home, but they just weren’t there. In truth, Millicent and the unnamed husband fit too nicely into the ‘normal’ box and it felt a little odd to me. Maybe I need my psychopaths a little crazier! There was one other twist which I could see coming but I’m putting that down to reading a shedload of psychological thrillers with unreliable narrators.

My heart ached for the couple’s young daughter who slowly starts to fall apart as the situation begins to worsen. Jenna goes from being a high achieving 13-year-old to an unstable child who unwittingly takes extreme measures to cope with how she’s feeling. She ends up meeting with a psychologist several times a week whilst her parents make excuses to not take her to the doctor’s office. Her parents watch as their bright young over-achiever starts to slowly deteriorate, but it changes nothing.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s an interesting read and one which, despite my reservations, I powered through. I found the ending a little obvious but I was on the lookout from the first word for that big twist. The final scenes in this book are superb and the book finished on a real high for me because of the wonderful way the author ended her story. I’m amazed this is a debut and I will pick up Samantha Downing’s next book without a moment’s hesitation. Recommended.

I chose to read and review an ARC of My Lovely Wife. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing was published in the UK by Michael Joseph on 2nd May 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and eBook formats with the paperback to follow later this year (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

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photo by Jacqueline Dallimore

Born in the Bay Area and now living in the Big Easy, I consider both to be home. Along the way I went to school, worked a few jobs and learned a thing or two. Throughout it all, I wrote. Never studied writing, it’s just a hobby that grew into a passion. A dozen books later, my first novel will be published in 2019. My Lovely Wife is not the first one I wrote, it’s the first one I submitted (trust me, the other eleven are terrible).

When I was a kid, my mom brought me to the library every two weeks. I checked out a stack of new books and new worlds. The best thing was becoming so absorbed in a book I couldn’t put it down. I walked around with it in front of my face, I took it to the bathroom, the kitchen, the book came with me wherever I went. I tripped, ran into walls and stubbed my toes because I never watched where I was going.

This is why I write. I want to tell stories that make people walk into walls.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website | Facebook |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer @cobaltdinosaur #BaseCowboys #damppebbles

Cowboys“BASE COWBOYS is a comic crime trilogy set in the Scottish Borders. It is the sixth laugh-out-loud book in the CULLEN series written by Borders author Mark Farrer and will appeal to readers of Christopher Brookmyre, Carl Hiaasen, Nick Spalding or Tom Sharpe. The book tells the stories of three amoral ne’er-do-wells, their unfortunate and accidental intrusion into Cullen’s life, and the imaginative ways he finds of ensuring (his) justice is done:

Dirty Barry
The first casualty of adultery is… the tooth!
Barry Sullivan is a sordid dentist who resorts to blackmail to keep his string of married women in line. But now Cullen has toothache – and a very different interpretation of the dental code of practice.

Bronchial Billy
Meet Billy – the fastest gun in a vest.
Billy is a geriatric slum landlord desperate to win first prize in a Country & Western gunfight competition. But his trigger-happy birthday celebrations provoke Cullen, and now Billy must pay. Will he meet his High Noon at the Grand Ole Opry or will he go out with a bang? Whatever happens, there’s sure to be fireworks.

Pale Ale Rider
There’s trouble brewing…
Tyler is a teenage tearaway with the eyes of a serial killer. But when he decides to rob Big Paul’s local pub, he gets more than he bargained for. Will Tyler lose his bottle, or just get smashed? Cullen thinks he’s seen dead eyes like those before, and now he has a plan: he’s not bitter, he’s just a little twisted.

Emma has very kindly left me with the keys to the blog today to review Mark Farrer’s Base Cowboys.  This collection of three novellas centre around Cullen who I first met when reviewing The Good, The Bad and The Rugby.  Farrer is a great author whose comedy characters have just the right balance of realism whilst erring on hilarious caricatures.  I wasn’t sure how I would find 3 novellas versus a full novel but it was a nice change of style.  Each of the novellas works on its own but reading them in this way helps you dive into Farrer’s world and stay there until the end and you have to make your way back to the real world.

Cullen is an enigma and these novellas allow a focus on the other characters with Cullen only entering the story to help put things back to his version of right.  Each of the stories brings a new villain from the repulsive Barry Sullivan, dentistry’s very own Lothario to the meanest landlord in the area, Bronchial Billy.  Mark Farrer’s evil characters are clever parodies and I am sure they will show characteristics where each reader will say “I know someone like that”. Fan Favourite ‘Big Paul’ also makes his return in these stories, lumbering through the narrative with an awareness of the situation that is normally sub-optimal but makes for great set pieces.  Cullen’s affection for Big Paul, one of his few friends, is clear and the two make an unlikely double-act with no doubt who provides the brains and who provides the brawn!

For me, Tyler in “Pale Ale Rider” was the worst of the bunch, a schemer with grand plans but little attention to detail when it came to planning.  Seeing him pitted against Cullen, you weren’t quite sure how Cullen could get to him without getting hurt, but it made the last 40 pages of the book fly past.

Would I recommend Farrer’s books? Absolutely, they are a joy to read.  I look forward to reading more in the future and hope new readers choose this series and encounter these wonderful characters in equally wonderful situations for themselves!

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

Base Cowboys by Mark Farrer was published in the UK by Funny Business Press on 21st July 2019.

about-the-author3

Mark FarrerMark Farrer is the author of six comedy novels and novellas, each set in the Scottish Borders with a distinctive Scottish backdrop – whether salmon farming, textile mills, Rugby Sevens or the Scottish criminal justice system. His books are multi-stranded storylines involving larger-than-life characters, whose plans and incompetence inevitably exceed their wits. All feature an itinerant loner, Cullen, who lives off the grid and finds himself inadvertently drawn into someone’s crazy scheme, only for his own (very individual) sense of right and wrong to be offended. That’s generally when things start to go wronger.

 

#BookReview: The Women by S.E. Lynes @bookouture #TheWomen #damppebbles

the women

The night she moves in with Peter, she’s so happy, so exhilarated, so in love. Later, she will remember a much smaller feeling, a tiny one percent in her gut. And she will remember pushing that feeling aside…

Samantha Frayn doesn’t know why Peter Bridges picks her – a nobody with bitten fingernails and a troubled childhood behind her – but she falls quickly. He’s older, charming, likes fine wine and French films, and his beautiful home has real art on its walls.

Peter transforms Samantha’s life in an instant. He sees the better version of herself – the one she’s always wanted to be. It’s only normal that there’s a little friction, when she moves in, over domestic matters like where things are kept, or the proper times to eat, sleep and shower. She’s lucky to be with someone who can help her find a new job, move on from childish friends, and speak with greater sophistication.

But as Samantha notices, more and more, Peter’s temper, she starts to wonder if there might be consequences to breaking the rules of the world he has so quickly built around her.

And then she receives an anonymous note that makes her ask: is she the first woman to feel trapped by Peter? Is she being paranoid, manipulated, or could she be in danger?

You can tell the truth about your life, but someone needs to be listening. Someone needs to trust you. And someone needs to save you from the man you thought you loved.”

Oh I love S.E. Lynes’ writing. Bit of a fangirl moment for you! I’ve read nearly every book she’s written (bar one which is on my #15BooksofSummer list) and you can always guarantee it’s going to be brilliant and hard to put down. The Women is Susie’s latest book and was published by Bookouture on 22nd May. I received a free eARC of The Women but that has in no way influenced my review.

First thing I want to say about this book is I love the cover! If I weren’t already a huge S.E. Lynes fan then there’s a good chance I would be picking up The Women based purely on that brilliant blurb and the stunning cover. The book opens with Samantha and Peter (plus their baby, Emily) on their honeymoon in Rome. The opening is wonderfully tense and sets the scene perfectly. I was intrigued by what had gone before and I couldn’t wait to discover this couple’s story. And what a story it is.

The reader is then flung back in time to when Peter and Samantha first met. Professor Peter Bridges makes Samantha feel as though she’s the only woman in the world at a boring University party. He treats her with respect, listens intently to every word she says and makes her the centre of his universe. Samantha rapidly falls head over heels in love with Peter. He’s a class above the men (boys!) she usually meets with his expensive red wine, limitless supplies of cash, his elegant and sophisticated home and his sporty vintage midnight-blue Porsche. Before long Peter has suggested Samantha moves in with him, which she does leaving BBF and housemate, Marcia, on her own. Life is good for Samantha. Or is it?

What a great story this is with possibly one of the most unpleasant characters I have ever met in a novel. Peter is such a cliche and so utterly repulsive. Lynes has done an excellent job in making him so abhorrent – gah! He made my skin crawl, I was frequently cringing with how revolting he was. I was so desperate for sweet, trusting Samantha to see the light. To realise she was better than the life she was settling for, that not everything was how it seemed – not even to her – and for her to remove baby Emily from her obnoxious father’s influence.

It’s very difficult to say anything about this book without spoiling it for new readers. I will say, however, that the ending of this book was perfect. Had it ended any differently then I think I would have been disappointed. But Lynes has told her story with sensitivity (maybe not when it comes to Peter) and with wonderful little surprises along the way which made me despise ‘Peter the idiot’ even more.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. S.E. Lynes is a great writer and I urge you to read absolutely everything she has written (particularly Valentina). This is a beautifully written book with bucketloads of emotion. S.E. Lynes is a skilled and accomplished writer whose books I will return to again and again and again. Recommended.

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

The Women by S.E. Lynes was published in the UK by Bookouture on 22nd May 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

S E Lynes Author Photo

S E Lynes is the Amazon best selling author of psychological thrillers, VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT and THE PROPOSAL.

After graduating from Leeds University, Susie lived in London before moving to Aberdeen where she worked as a producer at the BBC before moving with her husband, Paul, and two young children to Rome.

In Rome, she began to write, snatching time where she could. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University.

She now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing. She has also published two children’s books in Italy.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger imyril (@imyril) #TheresAlwaysRoomForOneMore #damppebbles

Hello and welcome to the blog today. It’s Monday which can mean only one thing – it’s time for another brilliant #R3COMM3ND3D2018 post (and you thought I was going to say something about the weekend being over, right?!). Today I am delighted to welcome another fantastic book blogger to damppebbles to share the book love, imyril from There’s Always Room for One More…

But first, let me explain what #R3COMM3ND3D is all about. ‘Books’ is the simple answer 😆! Every year I invite bookish types to share the titles of three books they love with the rest of us.  Any author, any genre – it’s a bit of a free for all, apart from one thing.  The books must have been published in a certain year.  At the moment we’re revealing the top books published in 2018 but on 1st November #R3COMM3ND3D2019  will start when it will be all about this year’s releases.  If you would like to take part then please fill in the form at the bottom of this post!

Without further ado, here are the books imyril has chosen…

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The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R.F. Kuang
A setting that’s not quite early twentieth century China is an unusual and absorbing fantasy setting. Complex characters you’ll love to hate and fear to love, going through the wringer. A harrowing debut with an eye for epic storytelling and historical flavour.
https://onemore.org/2018/09/29/the-poppy-war/

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The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 2) by Jen Williams
I hesitate to dive into a trilogy with book two, but the Winnowing Flame gets my nod for epic fantasy with sci-fi underpinnings and a flair for all-out horror. Vampiric elves, a fire witch, noble barbarians, a middle-aged archaeologist and mythical beasts must fight off a terrifying insectile alien threat or see their world consumed. The characters leap off the page, the lines between good, evil and pragmatic are blurred and I’ve never yelled NO so loudly at the page in my life. This is fantasy writ very, very large – and I think book two is even better than book one. Bonus points for being so dark without ever feeling hopeless or bleak.
https://onemore.org/2018/03/24/the-bitter-twins/

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Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell
A full-blooded space opera, peopled by a cast recovering from the trauma of a recent war. A sentient warship filled with regret. A lonely salvage crew who wish to make amends. A planet whose secrets are worth killing for. This is a well-constructed mystery with an almost Banksian setting. I came for the characters; I’ll be seeing out the series for the jaw dropping scope of what they find.
https://onemore.org/2018/03/11/embers-of-war/

Ooooh, once again I am drawn to books outside of my comfort zone and these three look brilliant! Thanks imyril!

If imyril 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 Poppy War by R.F. KuangThe Bitter Twins by Jen WilliamsEmbers of War by Gareth L. Powell |

About imyril:
I’ve been reading almost as long as I’ve been walking (but I try not to combine the two, because of the bruises). These days I’m a business consultant by day and a bookworm and blogger 24/7. I mostly read SF/F, but I’m happy to be tempted into other genres by a strong story and well-crafted characters. Or tea. And cake. I’m easily tempted.

imyril’s social media links:
There’s Always Room for One More…Twitter @imyril |

If you’re a book blogger, author or you work in publishing and have three books published this year that you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/PE483qCyrKEgV5Uq6)

 

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger Paul Cheney (@halfmanhalfb00k) #HalfmanHalfbook #damppebbles

It’s Friiiiday! Welcome to damppebbles and to another brilliant #R3COMM3ND3D2018 post. I am delighted to welcome a favourite blogger of mine to the blog today, Paul Cheney who blogs over at Halfman, Halfbook.  I love Paul’s blog for several reasons.  The first is the name of it because, well, we all are, aren’t we? Half-book! And secondly, because Paul reads and reviews mainly non-fiction (I think his is the only non-fiction blog I follow…)

So what’s this #R3COMM3ND3D thing all about then? It’s a chance for bookish types to share the book love.  Three books they love and want to shout about.  Really, really love.  Any author, any publisher, any genre, but they must have all been published in the same year.  I’m currently sharing the posts from last year (2018) but on 1st November #R3COMM3ND3D2019 so if you would like to take part please fill in the form below.

Here are Paul’s three choices…

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21st-Century Yokel by Tom Cox
This is a wide ranging and occasionally random chat about his thoughts on the countryside, scarecrows and his very LOUD DAD. Very funny and honest.
[DP: *cough* I’m going to ignore the fact that this book was actually published in 2017 and not 2018…]
http://halfmanhalfbook.co.uk/review/review-21st-century-yokel/

the last wilderness.jpg

The Last Wilderness: A Journey into Silence by Neil Ansell
The Last Wilderness feels like a spiritual journey and he connects deeply to the landscape each time he visits, but it is tinged with the remorse that he has of no longer being able to hear the birdsong as his hearing fails. It is a beautiful book to read, he has a knack of teasing out all that he sees around him into the most exquisite prose.
http://halfmanhalfbook.co.uk/review/review-the-last-wilderness-a-journey-into-silence/

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The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
This is a heartwarming and inspiring story of a couple’s fight back against a life-changing legal decision that left them totally penniless. Winn writes with an honesty that is quite moving, she is open with her feelings and her thoughts about the people she meets on their walk and the events that led to them walking the South Coast path.
http://halfmanhalfbook.co.uk/review/review-the-salt-path/

Great choices, Paul.  Thank you.  I LOVE the cover of The Last Wilderness. How gorgeous is that?!

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

21st-Century Yokel by Tom CoxThe Last Wilderness by Neil AnsellThe Salt Path by Raynor Winn |

About Paul:
I have always loved all things about reading and books, and cannot walk past a bookshop or library without popping in; just to look, you understand.

I read all types and genres of books, but my real passion is for non-fiction, in particular travel, natural history, history and science. I also love science fiction and fantasy and try to read some contemporary fiction along the way too.

I have been writing for Nudge Books as their voice of Book Life for two years now.

Paul’s Social Media Links:
Halfman, HalfbookTwitter @halfmanhalfb00k |

If you’re a book blogger, author or you work in publishing and have three books published this year that you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/PE483qCyrKEgV5Uq6)

#BookReview: The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd @PenguinUKBooks #TheInnocentWife #damppebbles

the innocent wife.jpg“You’re in love with a man on Death Row in Florida, convicted of a brutal murder twenty years ago.

You’re convinced he didn’t do it, and you’re determined to prove it. You’re part of a mass online campaign that picks holes in the case, uncovers evidence of police incompetence, and agitates for this miscarriage of justice to be overturned.

Now you’re married to him, and he’s a free man, his conviction thrown out. You have the rest of your lives to spend together.

You’re overjoyed. After all, he’s innocent.

Isn’t he?”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my review of The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd.  This book had a real buzz about it when it was first published in December 2017 (yes it has been on my NetGalley shelf for a while, yes I am a terrible book blogger who reads at a snail’s pace!).  I received a free eARC copy of The Innocent Wife which has in no way influenced my review.

I keep seeing mixed reviews for this book and I just don’t get it.  I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me – reading is subjective.  I totally get that.  I’ll say this though, if you’re anything like me you will love this book.  It has everything I want in a novel.  I loved the small town American feel of it, I loved how the author has used the nation’s love of true crime to give it a more authentic edge, I loved the plot and I loved the characters.  This is turning into an epic year of reading for me; nearly every book I pick up just blows me away!  And that includes The Innocent Wife.

Notorious convicted killer, Dennis Danson, comes to Sam’s attention when questions begin to be raised over the evidence and trial used to convict him and send him to death row.  An online group start petitioning for his release claiming the Red River Police got the wrong man.  Sam does what any normal (!) 30-something would do in this situation and starts corresponding with Dennis.  Before long a strong bond is formed between them and Dennis sends a visiting order.  Sam drops everything, packs her bags and flies off to Altoona Prison to meet Dennis in person, hoping he’s everything his letters lead her to believe he is.  After an awkward start, the couple relax into each others company and before long Sam has extended her visa to allow her to visit Dennis on a regular basis.  Then he’s released and everything changes.  Sam is married to a man she hardly knows.  And what’s more, what she was once certain of, she’s not anymore…

Character, character, character.  I flipping love a bunch of fascinating people!  I really felt for Sam.  I could feel her loneliness, her need to be loved and adored which emanated from the page.  I also found her a little frustrating at times because I wanted her to stop being so drippy and ‘woman-up’ a bit.  That didn’t stop me from wanting to read Sam’s story though.  She intrigued me.  I also loved the mysterious Dennis, although I doubt very much I was supposed to!  There was something quite dark and dangerous about him and that appealed. Other characters were great too such as the true crime documentary filmmaker, Carrie, who welcomes Sam to the US with open arms and then becomes her guardian angel.  She just knows Dennis is innocent and will do everything in her power to prove it.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, yes.  It’s a delicious slow burn of a read and I loved it!  I was absolutely fascinated to see where the story was going to go and I wasn’t at all disappointed.  Gripping, unnerving and it ticked so many boxes for me.  I would not hesitate to pick up another book by Amy Lloyd.  In fact, I can’t wait to read more from this author! Highly recommended.

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

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd was published in the UK by Arrow Publishing on 4th October 2018 in paperback, hardcover, audio and eBook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |

about-the-author3

amy lloyd.jpgAmy Lloyd studied English and Creative Writing at Cardiff Metropolitan University. In 2016 she won the Daily Mail Bestseller Competition for her debut novel The Innocent Wife which, when it was published, became a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Amy lives in Cardiff with her partner, who is also a published novelist.

Author Links:TwitterFacebook |

 

#BookReview: The Chain by Adrian McKinty @orionbooks @orion_crime @Tr4cyF3nt0n #TheChain #DontBreaktheChain #damppebbles

the chain.jpg“VICTIM.
SURVIVOR.
ABDUCTOR.
CRIMINAL.
YOU WILL BECOME EACH ONE.

YOUR PHONE RINGS.

A STRANGER HAS KIDNAPPED YOUR CHILD.

TO FREE THEM YOU MUST ABDUCT SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.

YOUR CHILD WILL BE RELEASED WHEN YOUR VICTIM’S PARENTS KIDNAP ANOTHER CHILD.

IF ANY OF THESE THINGS DON’T HAPPEN:
YOUR CHILD WILL BE KILLED.”

YOU ARE NOW PART OF THE CHAIN

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to my stop on The Chain by Adrian McKinty blog tour.  I was given a free ARC copy of The Chain but that has in no way influenced my review.  My thanks to Leanne Oliver at Orion Books for being able to read minds and know this was a book I was desperate to get my mitts on and to Tracy Fenton for the blog tour invite.  This book is a corker.

I spend an awful lot of time on Twitter.  I’m not ashamed of that.  It’s part of being a book blogger and part of the job I do.  There are LOTS of books on Twitter.  It’s a total book-haven with something for everyone.  With that in mind, there are books I see and they don’t interest me (don’t get me wrong, I wish every success to the authors, publishers and everyone else involved – it’s just that I’m a psychological thriller and crime lover and if it doesn’t fall into that category then I let it pass me by).  Then there are the books I see and I know that I HAVE TO READ THEM.  Should I shout that a little louder? I KNOW I HAVE TO READ THEM!  The Chain by Adrian McKinty was one such book.  I saw a GIF.  The deal was done…

How often do you feel like you have a connection with a book before you’ve even read it?  To any of my blogger friends reading this, you may recognise this feeling.  Everyone is talking about a certain book and then the FOMO kicks in and you know you HAVE to read it.  It happens to me a few times a year.  And then the poor book sits on my shelf gathering dust for….well, however long it takes me to remember how much I REALLY wanted to read it.  The ‘gathering dust phase’ didn’t happen with The Chain.  I started reading it the same day it arrived.  I HAD to read this book immediately. I’m not even sure the book was completely out of the envelope before I made a start…

That premise.  How can you resist that premise? I know I couldn’t.  Are chain letters still a thing? I remember receiving a few when I was younger.  They didn’t invoke any kind of fear or compulsion in me.  The only thing they evoked was the desire to chuck the thing in the bin.  But what if the message you received meant your child had been kidnapped?  What if the only way to get your child back was to kidnap another child? And so on and so forth (#DontBreaktheChain).  To save your child you must become a kidnapper and turn another family’s life upside-down causing fear, heartache and untold trauma to so many.  And what if breaking the chain meant your child would die…?

That’s exactly the situation single mum, Rachel finds herself in after allowing her 13-year-old daughter, Kylie, to walk to the bus stop alone.  And there begins Rachel’s nightmare and the start of a compelling, high energy tale about the bad things good people are capable of doing when put under extreme amounts of pressure.  I loved it! It’s got everything you want; likeable and unlikeable characters (actually, the bad guys are pretty despicable characters in all fairness) and a flawless hook that won’t let you go even when you should really be doing ‘life stuff’.  Plus the writing is just wonderful.  Really, really top notch.

I really felt for Rachel but I’m still not sure if I liked her.  I kept wincing as another terrible scenario or choice was forced upon her.  If I could have read the book from behind my hands then I would have done.  Rachel was frequently put into impossible situations and I eagerly watched as she made the only decision she could whilst shaking my head and muttering ‘noooooooo…’ under my breath.  All the time reminding myself that ‘it’s just a book, it’s not real!’.  Exactly how far would YOU go to save your child?

Would I recommend this book? I certainly would.  It’s like nothing else you’ve read before and it will leave its mark on you.  The story is gripping from start to finish and the ending is very satisfying.  I wanted to race through this book yet savour every moment.  I haven’t read a book by Adrian McKinty before but I can guarantee The Chain won’t be the last title I pick up by this author.  A terrifying, edge-of-your-seat read which I highly recommend.  The Chain is going to be massive!

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

The Chain by Adrian McKinty was published in the UK by Orion Books on 9th July 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstones | BookDepositoryGoodreads |

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about-the-author3

adrian mckinty.jpgAdrian McKinty is a crime novelist from Belfast, Northern Ireland.

His books have won the Edgar Award, the Anthony Award, the Ned Kelly Award and the Barry Award. Adrian is also a two time Dagger nominee and shortlistee for the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year.

He studied law at Warwick University and philosophy at Oxford University before emigrating to New York City in the mid 90s.

Author Links:TwitterWebsiteFacebook |

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger Ivana (@TheNovelette) #TheWritersBlock #damppebbles

Happy Monday! I hope the week ahead is full of brilliant books (and if you’re heading to Harrogate later this week then I’ll see you there!).  There’s a good chance I’ll be adding to your terrifying TBR today as I’m delighted to bring you another fantastic #R3COMM3ND3D2018 post! Today I am thrilled to welcome Ivana of The Writer’s Block to damppebbles to share her three top picks from 2018.

But first, let me explain what #R3COMM3ND3D is all about. #R3COMM3ND3D is a chance for bookish types to share the book love. Three books from one year that they really must shout about.  At the moment we’re concentrating on books published last year but come 1st November we’ll be all about 2019.  If you would like to take part then please pop your books, the reasons why you love them and your social media details on the form below.

Without further ado, here are Ivana’s choices…

hangman.jpg

Hangman by Jack Heath
This book was just captivating, shocking, entertaining, perhaps THE best reading experience I have ever had!! (I gave it a 7-Star Review it was just that amazing!)

the date

The Date by Louise Jensen
Bookouture Books are just awesome! This book keeps you guessing until the very end! I always like that!

#fashionvictim.jpg

#FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar
This book was dark humor, fashion culture, pop culture references, psychological thriller, and murder on steroids!! Which made it so, so good!! One of the best books I have ever read!

Great choices, Ivana – thank you! Hangman is going straight onto the wish list and it’s great to see The Date by Louise Jensen make another appearance.

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

Hangman by Jack HeathThe Date by Louise Jensen#FashionVictim by Amina Akhtar |

About Ivana:
Book Blogger, Book Trailer Creator, Virtual Book Festival Organizer.

Ivana’s Social Media Links:
The Writer’s Block Twitter @TheNovelette |

If you’re a book blogger, author or you work in publishing and have three books published this year that you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/PE483qCyrKEgV5Uq6)