#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Sarah Swan (@Sarah_Swan2) #SarahsVignettes

I am delighted to welcome another fabulous book blogger to damppebbles today who is, once again, fairly new to me – the wonderful Sarah Swan of Sarah’s Vignettes.  Sarah’s blog is well worth a visit if you haven’t had the pleasure yet.  Sarah has kindly agreed to share her three #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 is where I invite book bloggers and authors to pop over to damppebbles HQ and shout about three favourite books.  Any author, any genre – the only thing to tie the books together is that they must have been published last year, in 2017.

Here are Sarah’s choices…

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The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick
Simply stunning! A story of love, war, loss, family and betrayal, set in beautiful Cornwall, The Returning Tide tells two interconnecting stories: one of sisters Amelia and Adele, living in Cornwall, during World War II, and, one of Lara, in the present day, living in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and of her trip to Cornwall to trace her Great-Grandfather’s steps during World War II. It is extremely well-researched and beautifully written. If I had not known otherwise, I would have thought the author was writing from her own life experiences. The depth of feeling in telling this story increases with each turn of the page, so much so, I was in tears by the end of it. It takes a lot for a book to make me cry and this is testament to Liz Fenwick’s sophisticated, elegant, and heartfelt writing style. This is a story that will stay with me for a long time.

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Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady
A super modern day retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion! I think it is brave to take such a Classic and make it contemporary. Brigid Coady does this so well, sticking to the main plot points and throwing in some twists and turns which kept me reading. As I got further into Persuading Austen, I forgot that it was based on a classic, and the story took on a new form, gained it’s own identity. Brigid Coady’s writing is super – it is real and from the heart. There is so much humour too! This all allowed for the story to flow really well and I finished the book in 2 days (that’s quick for me!). Persuading Austen made me laugh out loud, cry, empathise, and sympathise. It made me happy. It made me sad. Most of all, Persuading Austen is a book which left me smiling and happy at the end of it – and what a wonderful feeling that was. I absolutely loved this book!

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The Lost Girl by Carol Drinkwater
The Lost Girl is well-crafted, extensively researched, beautifully written, and full of raw emotion. On Friday 13 November 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred across Paris. Suicide bombers targeted the Stade de France football stadium, and there were other bombs and mass shootings at cafes and restaurants. Over 1000 concert goers were taken hostage at the Bataclan theatre and 89 of them were shot dead. I first heard what had happened when I was scrolling through Twitter and saw lots of tweets with the hashtag #PortesOuvertes, Open Doors, from people offering help of accommodation, transport, food, water, etc. I quickly turned on the news to find out what was going on and watched in horror at poor, innocent, people desperately trying to escape the Bataclan in any way they could and listened to their horrifying screams echoing across a city which was so scarily quiet. In The Lost Girl, Carol Drinkwater writes so vividly about this night and the events surrounding it that you finish the novel feeling as though you have lived through it yourself. She is a great storyteller and writes with such depth and rich description that I became completely immersed in the story from the opening paragraph and forgot about the real world away from the book.

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Fantastic recommendations, thank you so much for joining me today Sarah.  I’ve added ‘The Lost Girl’ to my wishlist.  Not a book I would normally consider (and it feels quite a way outside of my comfort zone) but the way you describe the story has me intrigued.  I want to read this book following your mini-review.

If Sarah has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books she recommends then please see the following amazon.co.uk links:

The Returning Tide by Liz Fenwick | Persuading Austen by Brigid Coady | The Lost Girl by Carol Drinkwater |

About Sarah:
Hello, I’m Sarah. I adore books and I am a keen photographer.

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

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

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

From an early age, I have loved taking photographs and with the advent of social media, I love sharing them with family and friends. In early 2016, I was having a conversation with a dear friend about a recent day trip and the photographs I had taken, during which she said I should share my photographs wider and write about the stories behind them. So from time to time, I post on my blog about general experiences in my life, which will be based around my own personal photographs. You will also find that most of the pictures of books on my blog are taken by me.

Sarah’s Blog and Social Media Links:
Sarah Vignette’s | Facebook | Twitter |

My thanks to Sarah for joining me today.  Make sure you stop by tomorrow when I welcome Emma Poulloura of Star Crossed Reviews to damppebbles with her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads.

 

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Gemma Wiles (@GemmaWiles) #GemsQuietCorner

It is my great pleasure to welcome another ‘new favourite’ blogger to damppebbles today, the very lovely Gemma Wiles of Gem’s Quiet Corner.  Gemma hasn’t been blogging very long but she’s already made her mark and I, for one, love her blog.  Gemma has joined me today to share her three #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 is a chance for book bloggers and authors to share three standout reads from 2017.  That’s it!  It’s that simple.  Three favourite reads published in 2017.

Here are Gemma’s choices…

dead woman walking

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton
Who would think a book involving peacocks, nuns and a hot air balloon could make such a corker of a read. This book just starts at a 100 miles an hour and never gives in. I love it when I’m reading a book where I just don’t have a single clue how everything is going to come together, or how it even can – and then when it does all fit together you are just sat open-mouthed, thinking WOW!

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This Love by Dani Atkins
Dani’s writing, storytelling and characters are always so beautiful. This book is essentially a book about the different types of love: family, friendships, that new love at the start of a relationship. She writes about tragedy and sadness, but when you close the book after those final pages, you’ll find you feel positive and uplifted. I’m not someone who shows their emotions much, so when a book leaves me in complete floods of tears, the author has certainly managed to work her magic.

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Perfect Remains (DI Callanch #1) by Helen Fields
In my crime reading I look for something that has strong detectives and a brutal killer (who I get a good insight into their heads and a strong POV from) which is exactly what I got in this first book of the series. The killer is probably the most clever, twisted and disturbing one I’ve come across in books this year – whilst reading it’s fair to say I’ve never felt so protective of my teeth! Gorgeous, French D.I Callanach, and strong, feisty D.I Ava Turner make a fabulous team, and I love seeing how their relationship grows throughout this book.

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Awesome recommendations, Gemma, thank you so much for joining me today.  I am desperate to read ‘Perfect Remains’ and ‘Dead Woman Walking’.  Both of which I am pleased to say I have on my TBR, yay!

If Gemma has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the book she recommends then please click the following amazon.co.uk links:

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton | This Love by Dani Atkins | Perfect Remains by Helen Fields |

About Gemma:
My name is Gemma and I’m in my early 30’s. I work nights in an adult health and social care setting, I have an 11 year old son, and I am owned by a cat called Milo!

I’ve only been blogging for a few months (started in August) but I’ve loved books ever since I was a little girl when my gran used to take me to work with her, at her cleaning job in Easingwold library. She’d do her jobs whilst I’d have the whole library to myself! I enjoy many genres: Crime, Police Procedurals, Thrillers, Mystery, and well written Romantic Comedy and Chick-Lit.

Besides books, I’m a tea addict, crazy cat lady and have slight obsessions with buying pyjamas and pretty bedding sets!

Gemma’s Blog and Social Media Links:
Gem’s Quiet Corner | Twitter |

Huge thanks to Gemma for joining me today.  Make sure you stop by tomorrow when I welcome the fabulous Sarah Swan of Sarah’s Vignettes to damppebbles with her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Rachel Broughton (@rae_reads1) #RaeReads

It is my pleasure to welcome the lovely Rachel of Rae Reads to damppebbles today.  Rae Reads is well worth a visit if you haven’t discovered Rachel’s wonderful blog yet.  I thoroughly enjoy her reviews and I’m thrilled to have Rachel join me today to share her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 picks.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 is a chance for book bloggers and authors to champion three books published in 2017.  That’s it as far as rules go, the book must have been published in 2017.

Here are Rachel’s choices…

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The Many Colours of Us by Rachel Burton
There is such a hopeful feeling to the story that I couldn’t help but be drawn in and I loved the main characters Edwin and Julia. The writing is descriptive with a lovely emotional edge, it really is a brilliant debut.

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Letters to Eloise by Emily Williams
Emily Williams has a lovely descriptive writing style that had me continually turning the pages. Along with creating a wonderful character in Flora who is so engaging, her story definitely held an emotional hold over me.

the man who died

The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen (translated by David Hackston)
I loved how matter of fact the main character Jaakko is and it was so much fun going on this madcap journey with him. The story is cleverly written and at times darkly funny which I really appreciated. Highly recommended!

***

Thank you so much for these brilliant recommendations, Rachel.  And it’s good to see Antti Tuomainen’s ‘The Man Who Died’ popping up again.  I really must get myself a copy!

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

The Many Colours of Us by Rachel Burton | Letters to Eloise by Emily Williams | The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen |

About Rachel:
My name is Rachel or if you like you can call me Rae and I’m married with two children. They definitely keep me busy so being a book blogger helps to keep me sane(ish) I started blogging in December 2015 and I can’t believe how fast the time has gone.

My favourite genres are romance, mystery, historical fiction & thrillers. I’ve always been a book worm so my blog is a wonderful way to share my love of reading xx

Rachel’s Blog and Social Media Links:

Rae Reads | Twitter | Facebook |

Huge thanks to Rachel for joining me today.  Thrilled to welcome Nicki Maguire of Secret Library Blog to damppebbles tomorrow with her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads so make sure you pop back tomorrow!

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Karen Cole (@karlou) #HairPastAFreckle

It is my great pleasure to welcome another awesome book blogger to damppebbles HQ today – the lovely Karen Cole of Hair Past A Freckle.  I haven’t been following Karen’s blog as long as some others but I’ve become such a fan of her reviews.  I also like her blog because it has a slightly different sounding name.  (I can empathise Karen, I’m regularly asked why I chose to call my blog damppebbles!).

Karen has very kindly agreed to share her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads with us today.  #R3COMM3ND3D2017 is where I invite book bloggers and authors to share three of their favourite books published in 2017.  It’s that simple – three books, all published in 2017.

Here are Karen’s choices…

the man who died

The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen
What can I say about this book to really do it justice? The Man Who Died is my top read this year and it will be a book I’ll be talking about for years. A deliciously dark black comedy thriller, it is beautifully written and juxtaposes the laughs with moments of tension and poignant truths. I defy anybody not to warm to Jaakko Kaunismaa, a mushroom entrepreneur who discovers he has been slowly poisoned and decides to investigate his own murder. With unique (and grisly!) deaths, dry wit and touching observations, this really is one of those books I want to thrust into the hands of anybody who ventures into a bookshop. See my full review here: https://hairpastafreckle72.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/blogtour-bookreview-man-who-died-by.html

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The Cardinal’s Man by M.G. Sinclair
I loved this fictional biography that follows the life of Sebastian Morra, a dwarf born into poverty who rises to become a trusted ally of Cardinal Richelieu. M.G. Sinclair vividly brings 17th century France to life, from the abject poverty of many citizens driven to the brink of starvation by the relentless Thirty Years War, to the opulence of Louis XIII’s court and the power battles and intrigue behind the throne. Starkly visceral yet beautifully written and there’s some real tension here too so this could be the ideal book for thriller lovers looking to try historical fiction! See my full review here: https://hairpastafreckle72.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/blogtour-bookreview-cardinals-man-by-mg.html

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Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfař
With a Nutella loving giant arachnid alien, the Velvet Revolution that saw the end of Communism in Eastern Europe, childhood memories of rural Czechoslovakia and a marriage on the rocks, this is definitely the most unique book I’ve read this year! Jaroslav Kalfař blends the fabulously absurd with a riveting social history. Ultimately about a young man who must confront his past; it might be strange but this beautifully written book combines sci-fi, historical and literary fiction and is weird, funny and touching. See my full review here: https://hairpastafreckle72.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/book-review-spaceman-of-bohemia-by.html

***

Thank you so much for joining me today, Karen and for your great recommendations.  I really must get myself a copy of ‘The Man Who Died’ as it’s popping up on #R3COMM3ND3D2017 fairly often.  And in all honesty, ‘grisly deaths’ are two of my trigger words!

If Karen has managed to pique your interest or if you would like to find out more about the titles she has recommended, please see the following amazon.co.uk links:

The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen | The Cardinal’s Man by M.G. Sinclair | Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfař |

About Karen:
My name is Karen and when I’m not reading or blogging about books I’m a teaching assistant and midday supervisor in a primary school. I live in Dorset with my husband, three daughters, and a dog, cat, rabbit and tortoise. Before I had my children I was a veterinary nurse in a mixed practice. I started Hair Past A Freckle in 2013, it was originally going to be a blog about anything and everything but I found I loved being a book blogger. The name is taken from something my dad used to say, it refers to either not knowing or not caring about the time – I’m sure most people reading this will have lost track of time when engrossed in a book so it seems apt!

Karen’s Blog and Social Media Links:

Hair Past A Freckle | Twitter | Facebook |

My thanks to Karen for joining me today.  Make sure you stop by again tomorrow when I welcome the awesome Rachel Broughton of Rae Reads to damppebbles with her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 picks!

 

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Emma Littlefield (@LittlefieldEmma) #OneReadersThoughts

How was your Christmas bookish friends?  I hope you had a wonderfully festive time with the people you care about, and you are now the proud owner of lots of lovely new books to read.  I can’t quite believe it’s all over for another year!  Still, New Year is on the horizon which means my ‘Top 10 Books of the Year’ post is imminent, shortly followed by my second-year blogiversary!

And, thank goodness we’re back to #R3COMM3ND3D2017 which I have sorely missed over the last couple of days.  Goodness knows how I will cope when the middle of January arrives and I wave goodbye to #R3COMM3ND3D until November 2018!  Anyway, enough of my wittering.  Today I am delighted to welcome another fabulous book blogger to damppebbles with her  #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads.  Emma Littlefield blogs over at the wonderful One Readers Thoughts, which if you haven’t discovered yet then you must!

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 is an opportunity for book bloggers and authors to shout about three books published in 2017 which they loved,  I’m all about sharing the book love and what better way to do that than ask my bookish peers to share their most loved reads.

Here are Emma’s choices…

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The Last Day of Emily Lindsey by Nic Joseph
I thought this was a clever plot, which wove the past and present together so well that I was kept guessing until the very end. The characters were well drawn and the setting, which included a cult, completely drew me in.

the binding song

The Binding Song by Elodie Harper
An excellent debut. It was a perfect read as the nights started to draw in. There are great characters, a prison setting which made for a dark story, and a supernatural twist which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

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Forgotten by Nicole Trope
Whilst there a more than a few books out there with the missing children and frantic parents, I haven’t read any as well written as this. It looks at it from the points of view of the parents, police, and the abductor. It’s tense from the first page and I couldn’t put it down,

***

Excellent choices, thank you Emma.  I really enjoyed the atmospheric feel of ‘The Binding Song’ and would pick up another book written by Elodie Harper in a heartbeat.

If Emma has tempted you or if you would like to like to find out more about the books she has recommended, please see the following amazon.co.uk links:

The Last Day of Emily Lindsey by Nic Joseph | The Binding Song by Elodie Harper | Forgotten by Nicole Trope |

About Emma (and my favourite bio of the series so far!):
I’ve been a book blogger for about three years (with a few breaks for “blogger burnout”). I love to read, and sometimes I don’t feel like I do much else. I read a lot of books where people end up dead but anything that catches my eye will get read including non-fiction. I would live in the library if I could but the librarians might find that a bit strange.

Emma’s Blog and Social Media Links:
One Readers Thoughts | Twitter |

My thanks to Emma for joining me today.  Join me again tomorrow when Karen Cole of ‘Hair Past a Freckle’ book blog will be joining me to share her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads!  See you tomorrow my bookish lovelies.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Anne Williams (@Williams13Anne) #BeingAnne

It is my pleasure to welcome one of the loveliest people in the booky world to damppebbles today, the lovely Anne Williams of Being Anne….  Anne’s blog was one of the first I followed when I started damppebbles all those years ago (OK, only two years!) and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.  Anne has kindly agreed to share her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads with us today.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 is an opportunity for authors and book bloggers to share three must-read titles with the rest of us.  The only stipulation being, the books must have been published this year – in 2017.

Here are Anne’s choices…

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Not Thomas by Sara Gethin
If you’d told me that I’d sit, totally rapt, reading a book written in the voice of a five year old child, seeing a dreadful world of drug culture, violence and neglect through his eyes and from his unique perspective – well, I really wouldn’t have believed you. This book was just stunning. Read my full review here: http://wp.me/p7NhnN-Ms

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Snow Sisters by Carol Lovekin
And another stunner? The most exquisite writing – imagery, descriptions, detail drawn from nature, all breath-taking in their beauty. There’s magic woven into this book too – it’s there in the narrative, but it’s also there in the writing. Read my full review here: http://wp.me/p7NhnN-SC

zenka

ZENKA by Alison Brodie
From the sublime to… the totally unexpected! A wildcard for my third choice – a Hungarian pole dancer, gangland crime and a totally preposterous story, told with warmth, humour, and tremendous panache. I never thought I’d like this book in a month of Sundays – but I absolutely loved it. Read my full review here: http://wp.me/p7NhnN-Ww

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Thank you so much, Anne.  All brilliant choices and I’ve had my eye on ‘ZENKA’ for a while now.  Keep seeing some truly great reviews.

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 amazon.co.uk links:

Not Thomas by Sara Gethin | Snow Sisters by Carol Lovekin | ZENKA by Alison Brodie |

About Anne:
My name is Anne (as you’ve probably guessed…) and I live in the beautiful market town of Wetherby in West Yorkshire. I haven’t always lived here though – I’m originally from a village near Bangor in North Wales. I worked as a civil servant (DWP) for more years than I care to remember, in my later years working in project and change management, and in marketing and communications. But I’m now 62 years of age, retired for the last three years, and – although I care for my 92 year old mum some of the time – can spend my time doing all the things I most enjoy. My first passion has always been reading – I now enjoy spending much of my time doing just that, writing about books on Being Anne, and discussing them with blogging and reading friends. The blog is now nearly five years old – transferred last year to the WordPress platform, from Blogger, where it had over 220,000 views. I was so thrilled to win the Best Pal Blog Award at the 2016 Annual Bloggers’ Bash – and I was thoroughly delighted to win it for a second time in 2017. I also really enjoy doing a monthly book review slot on local community radio, and run the local U3A Book Group. I travel regularly to book related events – and am lucky to be invited to some of the best launches and parties. My second passion is travel – I live for my holidays, usually long haul, and really love to visit places where other people might not have been.

Anne’s Blog and Social Media Links:

Being Anne… | Twitter | Facebook |

No #R3COMM3ND3D2017 for the next couple of days because it’s Christmas, yay!  But make sure you check in again on 27th December when I will be welcoming Emma Littlefield of One Reader’s Thoughts to damppebbles.  Have a wonderful Christmas; full of friends, family and books and I’ll see you on 27th December. ❤🎄

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Jo Robertson (@jocatrobertson) #MyChestnutReadingTree

If you’re looking for a reason to start your own book blog, well…I could give you several.  But the top of that list would be the incredible friendships you make with likeminded bookish folk.  I count myself incredibly lucky in that respect as I have made many lifelong friends and one very special #blogbestie.  Jo Robertson is one of the nicest people you could meet and she’s stonkingly good at blogging.  Pop over to My Chestnut Reading Tree and see for yourself.

Jo has kindly agreed to share her three #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads with us today.  #R3COMM3ND3D2017 is where I invite book bloggers and authors to share the book love and recommend three must-read titles published in 2017.

So without further ado, here are Jo’s choices…

all the wicked girls

All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker
This book made me cry at the end just with the sheer desolation of it actually being over. The writing is breathtakingly brilliant and the darkly despairing storyline plus a cast of characters that sprang to life off the page made this an unputdownable masterpiece. I’m still thinking about it now and can’t even bear to put it away on my bookshelf-it’s still sitting in front of me on my desk! Without giving too much away….oh okay I will then-its my book of the year!

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My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland
This book is something very special indeed. A crime solving duo on separate sides of the law with a fabulous chemistry even though they never meet till much nearer the end. It has a very current feel due to the use of social media and the media in general and the author has created some brilliant characters that you can’t help but cheer on – even though their methods of investigation are somewhat questionable! My Little Eye will leave you desperate for more from this author who is writing under her crime thriller pen name.

Her-Last-Secret-Kindle

Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite
One of those books that, as you’re reading it, you are torn between wanting to put it in the freezer so you don’t have to know how it ends or racing to the end doing an “elastoplast read” hoping that if you rip through it quickly it won’t hurt as much! It’s darkly addictive with a plot that will plunge into your heart like a knife! You may want to read it through your fingers at times but you will want to know exactly what happens to this very normal family that causes the horrific event described in the first few pages of Her Last Secret.

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Fabulous choices as expected, Jo!  Thank you for joining me today.  I’m a huge fan of both ‘All The Wicked Girls’ and ‘Her Last Secret’ and I CANNOT wait to read ‘My Little Eye’ as I have a treasured ARC copy which the author signed for me in Harrogate <3.

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

All The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker | My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland | Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite |

About Jo:
I’m Jo and I blog at My Chestnut Reading Tree where I review mainly crime and women’s fiction. I’m a mum of 3 and Nana to 4 and married to Mr Grumpy Scotsman for 30 years next year. I live in Cheshire and work part-time in my local primary school inbetween looking after all my little munchkins. I also eat lots of chocolate and drink gallons of tea daily.

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

Make sure you join me again tomorrow when I will be welcoming author Tracie Delaney to the blog with her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #BookBlogger Kate Noble (@TheQuietKnitter) #TheQuietKnitter

When I started damppebbles in January 2016 the one thing I didn’t expect was to make some incredibly good friends.  I wasn’t aware of the community of like-minded individuals whose love of books holds friendships strong like glue.  From blogging, I have made some very dear friends but there are two ladies I can always count on to make me smile when I’m in a grump or to help me out with a tricky blog based question or advice.  Two stupendously good blogger friends and I am thrilled to have them both feature on the damppebbles, one today and one tomorrow.

First up is the gorgeous Kate Noble of The Quiet Knitter who has absolutely no idea exactly how good she is at this blogging lark and how much we all appreciate her.  Kate’s blog (obviously) is one of my favourites so if you haven’t discovered The Quiet Knitter yet then you must!

Kate joins me today with her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 choices.  #R3COMM3ND3D2017 is where I ask book blogger and authors to name three must-read titles published this year (that’s 2017).

Here are Kate’s choices…

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The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie
A very special book that has taken up a place in my heart, I fell in love with the stories of each of the characters and became so invested in them that it felt like they came alive. The wonderful writing drew me in and captured my attention completely. The exploration of the characters is so wonderfully done, the research that has gone into this book shines through and it’s almost magical to read.

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Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell (A Prequel to the Dublin Trilogy)
Two words – Bunny McGarry! This is a character that I took a huge liking to in previous books and when I heard he was the star of this book I was ecstatic! But that aside, this is also a very well written crime novel with some incredibly important themes. Relationships are so vital in this book and the clever way they are written is awesome to see. I also really loved the way that Caimh McDonnell writes, it’s like he’s sitting sharing the story with you over a coffee (or pint), easy flowing, humorous & utterly brilliant!

block 46 cover

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson (translated by Maxim Jakubowski)
One of my most heart stopping, shock inducing, tear jerking reads. There’s something so “wow” about this book that I’m beginning to regret picking it, how do I sum this up? Utterly despicable killer, so cold and ruthless who leaves me feeling so cold and creeped out, heart wrenching tales of concentration camps under Nazi rule, a complex murder investigation – what’s not to love?! Such a powerful book and a bloody brilliant read!

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Thank you so much for joining me today, Kate and for your terrific recommendations.  I’ve read the first book in ‘The Dublin Trilogy’ and it was a hair’s breadth from featuring on my top reads of 2016 list.  And I can completely understand what you mean about ‘Block 46’.

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

The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie | Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell | Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson |

About Kate:
My name is Kate, I’m mum to 1 human child of the toddling variety and 2 canines (a border collie and a border collie x). I’ve had a fascination with books for as long as I can remember and most of my spare time is spent either reading or knitting. I live in a wee village in the countryside which is a huge change for a city girl!

Kate’s Blog and Social Media Links:
The Quiet Knitter | Twitter |

Join me tomorrow when I will be welcoming my #blogbestie, Jo Robertson of My Chestnut Reading Tree to damppebbles with her three #R3COMM3ND3D2017 picks.

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 with #Author Rachel Sargeant (@RachelSargeant3) #ThePerfectNeighbours @KillerReads

I am delighted to welcome author Rachel Sargeant to damppebbles today.  Rachel has kindly agreed to share her three #R3COMM3ND3D2017 reads with us but before we get to the nitty gritty, I would like to take this opportunity to wish Rachel and the team at Killer Reads a very happy publication day.  Rachel’s third book The Perfect Neighbours is released in eBook today with the paperback to follow in January, yay!

#R3COMM3ND3D2017 is where I invite authors and book bloggers to shout about three reads they have loved this year.  The only stipulation being that they must have been published during 2017.

Here are Rachel’s choices…

the child.jpg

The Child by Fiona Barton
I adore the author’s no-nonsense prose. No overwriting in sight. Barton draws on her experience as a journalist not only in her writing style but also in her plot. London-based journalist Kate, the protagonist in Barton’s first novel The Widow, is back and on the trail of a human interest story, when the skeleton of a new-born baby is unearthed on a building site. There are no car chases or damsels in distress and our heroine Kate is an ordinary fifty-year old married mum. Bravo. This author is becoming one of my favourites.

Sweet Little Lies

Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear
I like a good police procedural but I’ve read so many that they are starting to seem the same. This one was a breath of fresh air. Young detective, Cat Kinsella, finds herself investigating a murder with current links to her father and also harking back 18 years to a holiday she had as a child visiting her late mother’s family in Ireland. The murder mystery at the heart of the book was perfectly paced with an excellent ensemble cast of wise-cracking police investigators at the helm. This is sure to become the first in a classic series.

welcome to lagos.jpg

Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo
The dark opening chapter describing two soldiers’ desertion from an army that made them torch villages and kill the inhabitants leaves the reader in no doubt that dark times are ahead in this novel. However, from the moment these two characters set off on their journey to Lagos and hook up with three other runaways – a middle-class housewife, a vulnerable girl and a rebel without a cause – the author presents a warm, humorous and characterful tale of resilience, adaptability and vibrancy that still manages to be a realistic depiction of despair, corruption and violence. More than any other book I read this year, this one showed the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.

***

Excellent choices, thank you Rachel.  I really enjoyed Caz Frear’s ‘Sweet Little Lies’ and am really looking forward to more Cat Kinsella in the future.

If Rachel has managed to tempt you or if you would like to find out more about her choices, please see the following amazon.co.uk links:

The Child by Fiona Barton | Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear | Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo |

About Rachel:
I’ve been writing as a hobby for a long time and have just had my third novel The Perfect Neighbours published. I’m a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and have been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. My stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. I spent several years living in Germany, teaching English and swimming, and I now live in Gloucestershire with my husband and children. When I’m not at work (as a school librarian) and not writing, you’ll find me swimming or reading, but rarely both at the same time.

About The Perfect Neighbours:

the perfect neighboursBuilds from a creeping sense of unease to a jaw-dropping climax and a denouement I defy anyone to see coming.’ Chris Curran, author of Her Deadly Secret

The perfect neighbours tell the perfect lies… When Helen moves to Germany with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to join the ex-pat community of teachers from the local International School. But her new start is about to become her worst nightmare. Behind the shutters lies a devastating secret… As soon as the charming family across the way welcome Helen into their home, she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Then Gary starts to behave strangely and a child goes missing, vanished without a trace. When violence and tragedy strike, cracks appear in the neighbourhood, and Helen realises her perfect neighbours are capable of almost anything.

amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Goodreads | HarperCollins |

Rachel’s Social Media Links:

Website | Twitter | Facebook |

My thanks to Rachel for joining me today.  Tomorrow I am thrilled to welcome book blogger Helen of Baatty About Books with her #R3COMM3ND3D2017 choices.

 

One GLORIOUS Louise Jensen post (@fab_fiction) @1stMondayCrime @bookouture @TheCrimeVault

Some of you lovely folk may be aware that I am one of the ‘First Monday Crime’ blogger team.  First Monday Crime is a brilliant event held for crime fiction fans on the first Monday of the month in London.  To find out more, visit their website by clicking HERE.  One day I hope to make it along myself so I’ll hopefully see you there 🙄.

When I heard that Louise Jensen is appearing at the event in December, well, I squealed with glee.  You see, I am a MAHOOSIVE fan of Louise’s work.  She is a superb writer and I want other readers to discover her incredible books (my mum thinks I’m on commission, I can assure you I’m not!).  So I came up with the idea of sharing all three of my Louise Jensen reviews in one glorious post.  Three stupendous books, three enthusiastic damppebbles reviews…

the sisterGrace hasn’t been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie’s words the last time she saw her, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie’s. It soon becomes clear that there was a lot she

didn’t know about her best friend.

When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie’s father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie’s sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan’s home.

But something isn’t right. Things disappear, Dan’s acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace’s mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?

There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie . . . Or was there?

This is a psychological thriller and a half!  Huge congratulations to the author, Louise Jensen, as this is her debut novel, what an achievement!  No pressure Louise but you’ve set the bar incredibly high for yourself!

Grace and Charlie are childhood best friends.  On her first day at her new school, Grace encounters a classroom bully who is immediately put in his place by the forthright Charlie.  From there builds an unbreakable friendship, BFF together forever.  But, six years after burying their precious memory box, Charlie is dead.  Grace finds it impossible to cope with the grief, pushing everyone away and gradually falling to pieces. In a bid to help her accept Charlie’s death she decides to find Charlie’s wayward father. It’s something Charlie always wanted to do herself and it feels the right thing for Grace to do.  That’s when the mysterious Anna walks into Grace’s life.  Anna claims to be Charlie’s half-sister but before long she has ensconced herself firmly in Grace’s life.  Grace is overjoyed, she finally has a link to Charlie again.  Or does she…?

Wowsers!  This is a stonking, heart-stopping read and I loved it.  I couldn’t put it down (I refused to put it down more like!).  I loved Louise’s style and I wanted to keep reading, no matter what else was happening around me.  The story was so engaging that I became transfixed with Grace’s tale, wanting to discover what strange occurrence was going to happen next.

I didn’t really warm to any of the characters, except for Grace’s grandfather who was just lovely.  Grace was a little too needy for me.  Charlie would probably be my favourite but she’s only present for a small percentage of the novel so I’m not sure she counts.  As for Dan, Grace’s boyfriend, he needs to man up, grr!  Anna is just sinister with a capital S and thinking about her makes me shudder.  I didn’t want to like any of this lot though, that’s part of the appeal of a psychological thriller.  What’s the point in having likeable characters?

The plot moves at an enjoyable pace.  There are twists and turns along the way which keep you on the edge of your seat.  It’s pretty darn perfect, in my opinion.

Would I recommend this book?  Oh yes, without a doubt.  It’s a creepy tale of when good intentions turn bad.  It had my heart racing and I didn’t want to stop reading for anything.  A fabulous debut and I cannot wait to see what Louise Jensen has in store for us next.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Sister by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Sphere on 24th August 2017 and is available in paperback format.  Previously published in eBook and audio formats by Bookouture| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

51ssdz2lgl-_sy346_Jenna is given another shot at life when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie. Eternally grateful to Callie and her family, Jenna gets closer to them, but she soon discovers that Callie’s perfect family is hiding some very dark secrets…

Callie’s parents are grieving, yet Jenna knows they’re only telling her half the story. Where is Callie’s sister Sophie? She’s been ‘abroad’ since her sister’s death but something about her absence doesn’t add up. And when Jenna meets Callie’s boyfriend Nathan, she makes a shocking discovery.

Jenna knows that Callie didn’t die in an accident. But how did she die? Jenna is determined to discover the truth but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.

Jenna is critically ill and needs heart replacement surgery.  The worst possible news at a time when donor organs are scarce.  Luckily for Jenna, a heart becomes available and the transplant goes well.  But Jenna can’t stop thinking about whose heart now beats inside her chest.  She is desperate to meet with the family and they don’t hesitate to arrange a meeting after she gets in touch.  Against the advice of her therapist, Jenna goes to meet Tom and Amanda.  It’s an uncomfortable start but Jenna feels she owes this couple and refuses to walk away.  Then the dreams start, along with other strange feelings and what appear to be memories…things Jenna herself never experienced. Jenna knows that something isn’t right.  The way she is told Callie, her donor, died doesn’t tally with what she’s seeing in frightening visions.  Jenna decides that Tom and Amanda need closure to stop the hurt they’re suffering, and Jenna is the right person to deliver that closure.  So she starts to investigate; attempting to tie the feelings, the dreams and what little evidence she has together.  But the deeper she digs, the more secrets she uncovers. What really happened to Callie?  And how far is Jenna willing to go to find out…?

First off, I want to say that I find it very hard to believe in some of the theories affecting Jenna in this book.  I seem to have a scientific head on my shoulders and try as I might, sometimes (most times!) I can’t submerge myself in unproven theories.  But I want to put that side of things away for now and comment on other aspects of this novel.  I absolutely ADORE Louise Jensen’s writing.  Jensen has a way of pulling you in, the way her words flow is sublime and that is exactly what she has achieved once again.  She is such a gifted storyteller and one of my very favourite writers.  Full stop.  I had highly anticipated the release of this book after falling head over heels in love with The Sister and I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed, despite the scientific noggin!

I absolutely adored Jenna, the lead protagonist.  That drive and determination for her cause gave me goosebumps at times.  I love a strong, spirited female lead in my books and Jenna fits the bill nicely.  Strangely, that same determination did also annoy me a little.  Particularly when she was pushing away ex-boyfriend, Sam and best mate, Rachel in her bid to give Callie’s parents closure.

As I have come to expect from Louise Jensen’s writing, you never really have a hold on exactly who the bad guy/gal is or his/her reasons for being the bad guy/gal until the reveal.  The Gift is full to the brim of twists and turns.  There was an audible gasp from me at one point; I was so shocked by what I was reading!  Brilliantly crafted twists which send your brain into overdrive as you try and guess what will happen next.  But I bet you can’t…

Would I recommend this book?  I most definitely would (and grab yourself a copy of ‘The Sister’ whilst you’re at it!).  Sleek, assured writing that pulls the reader into the story from the opening pages until the shocking conclusion.  Superb!

Four and a half stars out of five.

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

The Gift by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Sphere on 16th November 2017 and is available in paperback format.  The Gift was originally published in eBook and audio formats by Bookouture | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | WaterstonesGoodreads |

And last but by NO MEANS least….

the surrogate coverShe can give you everything you want… But can you trust her?

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents. All they want is a child to love but they are beginning to lose hope. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives them one last chance.

Kat and Lisa were once as close as sisters. The secrets they share mean their trust is for life… Or is it?

Just when the couple’s dream seems within reach, Kat begins to suspect she’s being watched and Nick is telling her lies.

Are the cracks appearing in Kat’s perfect picture of the future all in her head, or should she be scared for the lives of herself and her family?

How far would you go, to protect everything you love?

Dare I say this is Jensen’s best book to date?  Y’know what, I think I dare!  The Surrogate has become my very favourite of Louise Jensen’s books knocking the incredible The Sister from the top spot.  If this one doesn’t end up on my list of top ten books of the year then there is something seriously wrong with me.

Kat is desperate for a baby.  Unable to have her own child she turns to adoption to fill the baby-sized hole in her heart.  But when it all falls through she is devastated.  After all, she has decorated the nursery for Dewei and is a familiar (rather too well-known) face in Mothercare.  The second attempt to adopt Mai also falls through leaving Kat at her wit’s end.  And then Lisa miraculously appears in her life.  Unsure of her intentions to start with, Kat is wary of her ex-best friend.  The women have a murky past which Kat fears has not been forgotten.  Before long, Lisa is entertaining Kat with tales of how she acted as a surrogate for a friend, how she gave birth to baby Gabrielle and then willingly handed her over.  How she feels more of an aunt towards the baby than the infant’s birth mother.  Kat can see a way out of her predicament, a way in which she can finally have the baby she so craves.  All she has to do is convince husband Nick and make sure she keeps Lisa happy and relaxed, totally stress-free.  But exactly how far is Kat prepared to go for that little bundle of joy…

There are so many surprises in The Surrogate that I became dizzy with joy while reading.  You think you know what’s going on, where the story will lead you but in reality, you know nothing!  Jensen has created a wonderfully intricate web of lies and half-truths with bucketfuls of creeping paranoia.  I loved it! (I may have said that already…)

The thread of malice woven through many of the character’s relationships was sublime.  The reader is frequently given glimpses into Kat’s teenage years at school and her interaction with the younger Lisa.  We also get to see how Nick, Kat’s husband was raised by his parents and how, due to injury and the inability to work, Nick’s father begins to mistreat his son.  Both episodes are unsettling and add so much emotion to the story.  I found myself becoming more and more invested in Kat and Nick, knowing something awful was heading their way but not knowing exactly what.

And WOAH, that ending.  Hugely satisfying, totally unexpected and I can guarantee it will stay me for some time to come.  I had my own ideas of how I wanted the story to end but what Jensen has given the reader blows everything else out of the water.  Absolutely superb!

Would I recommend this book?  Without a shadow of a doubt, I would.  If you are a fan of the psychological thriller then you MUST get yourself a copy of The Surrogate.  Louise Jensen just keeps getting better and better and I am so excited about what she has in store for us in the future.  You’ve set the bar even higher now, Louise.  No pressure!  A superb, twisty read that I wish I could give more than five stars to.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by Bookouture on 27th September 2017 and is available in eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

So there you go, a plethora of Louise Jensen loveliness.  Three cracking books, three reviews.  I think it’s fair to say I’m a fan, Louise!

Louise Jensen will be appearing at December’s First Monday Crime event alongside Chris Whitaker, Susi Holliday and Mel McGrath.  All expertly moderated by Claire McGowan.  The event takes place on Monday 4th December, 6.30pm at City University, College Building, A130.  Click HERE to book your FREE ticket.  Plus, because it’s December and we’re all starting to feel jolly festive, there will be extra fun and frivolities in store!  Check out the First Monday Crime website for more information.

about the author3

Louise Jensen author pic - no creditLouise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead.

Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots.

Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, sons, a dog and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Blog | Facebook |