#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger Norrie (@norrie_reads) #ReadingUndertheBlankie #damppebbles

Hello! Welcome to damppebbles and another brilliant #R3COMM3ND3D2018 post. I’m back sharing the book love after a brief break to celebrate anniversaries (10 years!) and birthdays (not going to disclose the years on that one 😉). Today I am delighted to welcome the ever so lovely Norrie of Reading Under the Blankie to share her #R3COMM3ND3D2018 picks. If you haven’t discovered Norrie’s blog yet then what are you waiting for? 😍

‘What is this #R3COMM3ND3D thing you speak of?’ I hear you cry! Well, it’s about the book love and sharing three books you think everyone else should read.  Any author, any genre, any publisher…but with one catch. The books must have been published in the same year.  At the moment we’re sharing the 2018 book love but come 1st November it will be all about 2019.  If you’re a book blogger, author or publisher and would like to take part in #R3COMM3ND3D2019 then please scroll to the bottom of this post and fill in the Google form.

Without further ado, here are Norrie’s choices…

the retreat.jpg

The Retreat by Mark Edwards
When it comes to suspense, Mark Edwards is one of my go-to guys. He just gets it, you know, like he can see into your soul.

and so it begins

And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott
This is such a cleverly plotted, delicious thriller! Part courtroom drama, part murder mystery, this will appeal for a wide range of crime fiction fans.


Tangerine by Christine Mangan
Set in 1950s Morocco, Christine Mangan’s debut is an unnerving story of obsession, deception and some serious gaslighting. Also a great spin on frenemies!

Thanks so much, Norrie. I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed The Retreat by Mark Edwards and I’m adding your other two choices to my wishlist!

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

The Retreat by Mark EdwardsAnd So It Begins by Rachel Abbott |  Tangerine by Christine Mangan |

About Norrie:
Book lover, cat hugger, coffee drinker, capable of eating half a cheesecake in one sitting. Best not to approach before she had her breakfast.

Loves a good thriller, but would probably not touch romance with a stick. Based on the amount of crime fiction she’s read, could probably solve a crime. Or not, but she would certainly try. Loves science fiction and secretly dreams about joining the Starfleet since she was fourteen.

Norrie’s Social Media Links:
Reading Under the BlankieTwitter @norrie_readsInstagram |

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 Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (@MWCravenUK) | @GoldsboroBooks #GlassBell Award 2019 Shortlist #damppebbles


“Welcome to the Puppet Show . . .

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless.

When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of.

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant, but socially awkward, civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive …”

Hello and a warm welcome to damppebbles. I am absolutely delighted to be bringing you my review of the utterly magnificent The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven again today to celebrate this corker of a book being shortlisted for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award. The Puppet Show is up against five other brilliant titles; VOX by Christina Dalcher, Snap by Belinda Bauer, Our House by Louise Candlish, Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg- Jephcott and The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. The winner will be announced by Goldboro Books on Monday 16th September.

Launched in 2017, the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award is awarded annually to an outstanding work of contemporary fiction, rewarding quality storytelling in any genre. The winner of the Glass Bell will receive £2,000 in prize money, and a handmade, engraved glass bell. The jury of ten consists of team members from Goldsboro Books, DHH Literary Agency and The Dome Press. There is no fee, nor limit to the number of books that a publisher may submit, allowing both established and debut authors a chance to win. The inaugural winner was Chris Cleave, for his extraordinary Everyone Brave is Forgiven (Sceptre), the moving and unflinching novel about the profound effects that the Second World War had on ordinary citizens back at home in Britain. Last year, the award went to John Boyne for his sweeping, poignant and comedic odyssey of post-war Ireland, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (Transworld).

Without further ado, here’s my review of The Puppet Show:

A little over two years ago I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a book called Body Breaker written by Mike Craven (that’s Mike Craven as in M.W. Craven, if you were wondering what odd tangent I was meandering off at!), and it was an absolute joy to read from start to finish. I pretty much fell in love with Craven’s protagonist, DI Avison Fluke. Then I heard Mike was about to release a new book called The Puppet Show, featuring a brand new detective with a brand new publisher (to Craven, that is). Now I openly admit, I was intrigued. After all, what crime fiction fan wouldn’t be? Particularly when I heard the main character of The Puppet Show is called Washington Poe (what a name! Where does this author get inspiration from for his character’s names? He appears to err on the unusual which is a rather splendid thing IMHO). Then, as if by magic (I pressed a button on NetGalley) a copy of The Puppet Show arrived on my Kindle and the deal was sealed. Washington Poe and I were destined to meet…

And truth be told, I flipping love him as much as I love DI Fluke. Craven certainly knows how to write and develop a character to the point where they jump off the page at the reader. I was smitten from early on; particularly as we meet Poe after he has shunned modern life and is living with his loyal pet dog, Edgar, in a semi-converted shepherd’s croft in the middle of nowhere (for ‘nowhere’ read Cumbria or the Lake District! Please don’t hurt me Cumbrians, it does sound pretty vast, lonely and desolate from Craven’s illustrative descriptions and I’ve never visited 😉). Suspended from work following his last (bodged) case and awaiting the result of an internal investigation and an IPCC inquiry, Poe has pretty much decided that his past is very much behind him and that his future lies in Herdwick Croft with Edgar, and the sheep. But that was before Cumbria’s latest serial killer, The Immolation Man made matters personal. Whether he wants to or not, Poe must return to the Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) and to a case that could easily be the death of him.

I have a bit of a thing for serial killer novels. They’re my favourite, particularly if they are a smidge on the gory side as well (which this book is). I also thoroughly enjoy books which make you think the plot is heading one way and then totally flips things over and makes you gasp in surprise when you end up somewhere you didn’t expect (which again, this book did). Another thing I love is a cast of well-written, individual, stand out characters who all add something to the story (yup, that’s The Puppet Show). I loved this book.

As I’ve mentioned Washington Poe’s supporting cast it would be rude to ignore them. First and foremost, Tilly Bradshaw is a shining star and will appeal to nerds far and wide. Her intelligence and her awkwardness are a delight to read and I hope she makes future appearances with Poe as her sidekick! Beleaguered DI Stephanie Flynn is now her ex-bosses boss (!) which makes things somewhat tricky between her and Poe at times. He’s a little reckless and likes to follow the evidence anywhere, whereas Flynn likes to play by the book. I would LOVE to read a prequel to The Puppet Show and see the dynamic between the two of them before Poe was demoted from DI to DS and Flynn was promoted. Not dropping any hints here, Mike…

Would I recommend this book? I would, most definitely. If you’re a fan of crime fiction, if you can stomach a drop of blood or a pool of melted human fat (OK, it is a little grisly in places and you may need a slightly stronger stomach than I’ve alluded to in this paragraph, but for me I loved the gruesome touches to this book. Plus the author provides a wealth of information about burns and the effect of fire on a human body) then you will enjoy this well-written, engrossing crime thriller. I struggled to put it down and I’m left wanting more Washington Poe and more Tilly Bradshaw. I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Five out of five stars.

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

The Glass Bell 2019 poster - shortlist.jpg

The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven was published in the UK by Constable on 7th June 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |


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Although Mike Craven was born in Cumbria in 1968, he grew up in the North East, going to the same school as Newcastle and England centre-forward, Alan Shearer, before running away to join the army. He believes, but has no proof, that his little sister moved into his bedroom before the train had even left the station. He trained for two years as an armourer (that’s gunsmith to you and I) before spending the next ten being paid to travel the world and drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol.

In 1995, sick of writing postcards and having fun, he decided it might be time to do something a bit more sensible. And it doesn’t get more sensible than doing a law degree. So he did Social Work instead. Two years later, as pimply-faced, naive social worker he started working in Cumbria as a probation officer. Sixteen years, and a few promotions, later he is still there, although as a crime writer, he now has different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals.

Mike’s first DI Avison Fluke novel, Born in a Burial Gown, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award and will be out on 11th June, published by Caffeine Nights. His collection of short stories featuring Fluke and his colleagues from the Cumbrian Force Major Incident Team, Assume Nothing, Believe Nobody, Challenge Everything, is out now.

In March 2017 Mike signed a two-book deal with Little, Brown for his new Washington Poe series. The first book, The Puppet Show, was released under his new name, M .W. Craven, in June 2018.

In between joining the army and securing a publishing deal, Mike found time to have a pet crocodile, survive cancer, get married, and buy a springer spaniel named Bracken. He wanted to call him Gimli but was told to grow up. He lives in Carlisle where he tries to leave the house as little as possible and gets annoyed by people who say “it’s too cold to snow” and “watch that swan, its wings can break your arm”.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter |

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #Author Heleen Kist (@hkist) #InServitude #damppebbles

Hello! How was your weekend? I hope it was chock full of some fantastic books. It’s Monday which can mean only one thing – time for another fabulous #R3COMM3ND3D2018 post! Today I am delighted to welcome a brilliant author to the blog, the lovely Heleen Kist. Heleen’s debut novel, In Servitude, was published last year and if you would like to find out more then scroll on down to the bottom of this post.

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 is a chance for bookish types to share the book love. If you could pick any three of your favourite books to shout about, what would they be? Any author, publisher or genre. #R3COMM3ND3D2018 has one rule though. That rule being the books must have been published in 2018.

Here are Heleen’s three choices…


Corrupted (Charles Holborne Legal Thriller #4) by Simon Michael
Loved the 1960s setting, which opened my eyes to historical crime fiction, and the mix between the real-life Cray brothers and the fictional story worked extremely well.

perfect silence

Perfect Silence (A DI Callanach Thriller #4) by Helen Fields
It’s the fourth in a series of strong police procedural. This one is particularly gruesome but you still get a warm feeling from the will-they-or-won’t-they nature of the relationship between the two main characters.

stoned love

Stoned Love (Sam Batford #2) by Ian Patrick
I loved the opening of this book – rats and drugs! – which set the scene for a hard-boiled tale of undercover corruption. This is the second in the Sam Batford series, but I read it as a stand-alone.

Brilliant choices, Heleen. Thank you. Both Perfect Silence and Stoned Love have been chosen before so they’re both going on the terrifying TBR!

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

| Corrupted by Simon Michael | Perfect Silence by Helen Fields | Stoned Love by Ian
Patrick |

About In Servitude:in servitude.jpg
When Grace’s beloved sister Glory dies in a car crash, her life spirals out of control. She discovers Glory was indebted to a local crime lord and laundering money through her café. What’s worse, Grace is now forced to take over.

Defying her anxiety, Grace will stop at nothing to save herself and those Glory left behind from the clutches of Glasgow’s underworld. But her plans unravel when more family secrets emerge and Grace is driven to question everything she believed about her sister – even her death.

IN SERVITUDE is a gripping roller coaster of family, crime and betrayal. Perfect for lovers of page-turning suspense.

amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones

About Heleen:
Heleen Kist is a Dutch businesswoman who lived all over the world while growing up and for her career. Then she fell in love with a Scotsman and his country, and now writes about its (sometimes scary) people from her garden office in Glasgow.

Her debut psychological suspense novel ‘In Servitude’ won a silver medal for Best European Fiction at the Independent Publishers Book Awards 2019, was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2019, and was shortlisted for The Selfies 2019, the UK publishing industry’s first award for self-published authors.

She was selected as an ‘up and coming new writer’ and awarded a Spotlight at Bloody Scotland 2018, the International crime writing festival.

Heleen’s Social Media Links:
| Twitter @hkist | Website | Facebook |

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 David (@Bluebookballoon) #BlueBookBalloon #damppebbles

Happy Friday! I’m so glad the weekend is nearly here. Do you have plans? Lots of lovely books I hope. I am thrilled to welcome one of my favourite book bloggers to damppebbles today to share their #R3COMM3ND3D2018 picks, the brilliant David of Blue Book Balloon.  No one has ever made me want to read Fantasy novels as much as David has (he does read and review other genres, I should probably add that). If you haven’t already, please check out his brilliant blog.

So what’s this #R3COMM3ND3D2018 thing all about then? Allow me to explain.  #R3COMM3ND3D is all about the book love.  It’s a chance for bookish folk to choose three books they think the rest of us should make a point of reading.  Any genre, any author, any publisher – indie, self or traditionally published.  The only stipulation is that the three books must all have been published in the same year.  At the moment we’re concentrating on 2018 but come 1st November I’ll make a start on sharing the 2019 picks! If you would like to be involved please complete the form at the bottom of this post.

Without further ado, here are David’s choices…

city of brass.jpg

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty
Magic and adventure grounded in reality – basically, everything you ever loved about Middle Eastern stories and legends, but in a modern fantasy and without the orientalism.

before mars.jpg

Before Mars (Planetfall #3) by Emma Newman
The third book set in Newman’s SF Planetfall universe, this is a largely self-contained adventure. It captures the human spirit of survival on a harsh planet and combines that with a mystery/ thriller plot that’ll leave you guessing till the end.

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The Sing of the Shore by Lucy Wood
Sea, salt, the beach… Cornwall is idyllic, no? Well not in these short stories. Deep rooted in place they examine life in England’s most remote county from all angles, always suffused by a sense of the weird and the possible. I can’t recommend Wood’s writing to highly, read this and then her earlier novel Weathering and collection Diving Belles.

These all look brilliant, thanks David. A couple of additions to the TBR here I think!

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

The City of Brass by S.A. ChakrabortyBefore Mars by Emma NewmanThe Sing of the Shore by Lucy Wood |

About David:
Originally a physicist, I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up an office. Trying to read my way out again. I live in the heart of Midsomer Murders country and my wife is the Vicar, so I probably won’t be here for long.

David’s Social Media Links:
Blue Book Balloon Twitter @Bluebookballoon |

If you’re a book blogger, author or you work in publishing and have three books published this year (2019) that you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/PE483qCyrKEgV5Uq6)

#BookReview: Her Last Tomorrow by Adam Croft #HerLastTomorrow #damppebbles

her last tomorrow.jpg“Could you murder your wife to save your daughter?

Nick and Tasha are a couple held together by their five-year-old daughter. Until one ordinary morning, when Ellie vanishes amid the chaos of the school run.

When Nick receives a ransom note, his world is turned upside down.

It tells him he can have his daughter back, but first he must murder his wife.”

I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today and to another NetGalley review.  Today I’m putting Her Last Tomorrow by Adam Croft under the spotlight.  Her Last Tomorrow was published in paperback, audio and eBook formats most recently in June 2018 and I received a free eARC copy via NetGalley.  This has in no way influenced my review.

Her Last Tomorrow is the first book I’ve read by Adam Croft and I enjoyed it.  After all, how could you resist that tagline, huh? ‘Could you murder your wife to save your daughter?’ I absolutely flipping love it! Imagine being put in that situation, imagine being made to choose between your partner and your child.  That’s exactly what happens to Nick when, in his care, his 5-year-old daughter, Ellie, is taken.  Snatched in broad daylight from the car whilst he dashes back into the house for something.  Nick is assured she is safe and well and he can have her back.  Providing he kills his wife, Tasha…

Tasha is a pretty unlikable character but that doesn’t justify how easily Nick (who I liked to start with) comes to the decision that he is actually going to go through with the kidnapper’s demands.  He is going to kill his wife to ensure the safe return of his daughter.  But then he starts to plot and plan Tasha’s downfall only to realise it’s not going to be as easy as he originally thought.  The police detective investigating Ellie’s kidnapping is also suspicious of Nick.  Why has he been seen hanging around a notorious local pub patronised by local thugs when his young daughter is missing.  Meanwhile, Tasha’s world gradually falls apart and instead of the hard-nosed businesswoman, we start to see a much more emotional and human side to her.  I still didn’t like her though.

In fact, I don’t think I liked any of the characters in this book but that’s never really an issue for me.  I’m not a reader who has to have a bond with a character to enjoy a novel.  This, even for me (Mrs Slow-Reader), was a fairly quick read.  I will say, however, that I found the plot and the writing a little simplistic at times.  But it is what it is; a very commercial, entertaining read which has sold a shedload of copies and will continue to do so because it’s good.  If a little far fetched in places (hey, it’s fiction!).

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would if you’re looking for a quick and easy, uncomplicated read to while away a few hours.  I found it fascinating to see how my opinion of the characters changed as the story moved on.  I just wish the story and the characters had a little more oomph to them.  Overall I enjoyed Her Last Tomorrow and found it a short but entertaining read.

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

Her Last Tomorrow by Adam Croft was published in the UK on 14th June 2018 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.ukamazon.comWaterstonesBookDepositoryGoodreads |


adam croft.pngWith more than 1.5 million books sold to date, Adam Croft is one of the most successful independently published authors in the world, and one of the biggest selling authors of the past few years.

His 2015 worldwide bestseller Her Last Tomorrow sold more than 200,000 copies across all platforms and became one of the bestselling books of the year, reaching the top 10 in the overall Amazon Kindle chart and peaking at number 12 in the combined paperback fiction and non-fiction chart.

His Knight & Culverhouse crime thriller series has sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide, with his Kempston Hardwick mystery books being adapted as audio plays starring some of the biggest names in British TV.

In 2016, the Knight & Culverhouse Box Set reached storewide number 1 in Canada, knocking J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child off the top spot only weeks after Her Last Tomorrow was also number 1 in Canada. The new edition of Her Last Tomorrow also reached storewide number 1 in Australia over Christmas 2016.

During the summer of 2016, two of Adam’s books hit the USA Today bestseller list only weeks apart, making them two of the most-purchased books in the United States over the summer.

In February 2017, Only The Truth became a worldwide bestseller, reaching storewide number 1at both Amazon US and Amazon UK, making it the bestselling book in the world at that moment in time. The same day, Amazon’s overall Author Rankings placed Adam as the most widely read author in the world, with J.K. Rowling in second place.

In January 2018, Adam’s bestselling book to date, Tell Me I’m Wrong became a worldwide bestseller and has since gone on to sell more than 250,000 copies.

Adam has been featured on BBC television, BBC Radio 4BBC Radio 5 Live, the BBC World ServiceThe GuardianThe Huffington PostThe Bookseller and a number of other news and media outlets.

In March 2018, Adam was conferred as an Honorary Doctor of Arts, the highest academic qualification in the UK, by the University of Bedfordshire in recognition of his achievements.

Adam presents the regular crime fiction podcast Partners in Crime with fellow bestselling author Robert Daws.

Author biog and image © https://www.adamcroft.net/

Author Links:TwitterWebsiteFacebook | Instagram |




#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger Joy Kluver (@JoyKluver) #JoyKluver #damppebbles

Hello book fans! Happy Monday and here’s to a great week with bookish treats galore. I am delighted to welcome another fabulous book blogger to damppebbles today, the ever so lovely Joy Kluver.  If you’re a fan of crime fiction then make sure you check out Joy’s blog.  You won’t regret it.

Let me explain what #R3COMM3ND3D is all about.  It’s a chance for book bloggers, author and publishers to share the book love.  An opportunity to shout about three brilliant books the rest of us MUST read. They can be written by any author, published in any way and be in any genre (or a mix thereof).  There is a catch though.  The books must all have been published in the same year; 2018 to be precise. But make sure you look out for #R3COMM3ND3D2019 starting on 1st November! Fill in the form below if you would like to take part later this year but please note, places are limited.  When they’re gone, they’re gone!

Here are Joy’s three choices…

the good doctor of warsaw.jpg

The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elisabeth Gifford
I think this is possibly the best fiction book I’ve ever read about the Holocaust. Based on the true story of Dr Janusz Korczak and his work in a Warsaw orphanage during WW2, the narrative is both uplifting and heart-breaking. I warn you now – you will need tissues!

salt lane

Salt Lane (DS Alexandra Cupidi #1) by William Shaw
This is the first in a new series from William Shaw featuring DS Alex Cupidi. We first met her in The Birdwatcher but she was clearly meant to be a leading lady. Shaw manages to weave multiple threads together as DS Cupidi searches for a killer.

a house of ghosts.jpg

A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan
Don’t let the W.C. fool you! This is William Ryan and if you’ve read The Constant Soldier, then you’ll know to expect a cracking plot, an atmospheric setting and memorable characters. A thriller/whodunit with a good dose of ghosts makes this the perfect read for an autumn/winter’s afternoon.

Wonderful recommendations, thanks Joy. I’ve added two of your three to my wishlist without a moment’s hesitation!

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

The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elisabeth GiffordSalt Lane by William ShawA House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan |

About Joy:
Escaping the madness of motherhood by writing and reading crime novels.

Joy’s Social Media Links:
Joy KluverTwitter @JoyKluver |

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 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…

the poppy war.jpg

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.

the bitter twins.jpg

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.

embers of war.jpg

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.

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…]

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.

the salt path.jpg

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.

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 |


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 |


#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 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 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)