#BookReview: You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll @ViperBooks #YouHadItComing #damppebbles

“WOULD YOU SAVE THE MAN
WHO DESTROYED YOUR LIFE?

When paramedic Megan Lowe is called to the scene of an attempted murder, all she can do is try to save the victim. But as the man is lifted onto a stretcher, she realises she knows him. She despises him. Why should she save his life when he destroyed hers?

Jess Foster is on her way home when she receives a text from Megan. Once best friends, the two women haven’t been close for years, not since the night when they were just the teenage girls whom no-one believed; whose reputations were ruined. All Jess can think is, you had it coming.

Now Megan and Jess are at the centre of a murder investigation. But what secrets are they hiding? Can they trust one another? And who really is the victim?

Perfect for fans of C.L. Taylor, Lucy Foley and Lisa Hall, You Had It Coming is a thrilling tale of suspense and dark secrets.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll. You Had It Coming is published by Viper Books today (that’s Thursday 13th May 2021) and is available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of You Had It Coming but that has in no way influenced my review.

I couldn’t resist this book when I saw it pop up on NetGalley. That striking cover and the blurb grabbed my attention. I haven’t read any other books by this author before so I was excited to make a start.

Megan Lowe, an experienced paramedic, is called to attend a shooting. On arrival the victim, William Newson, is unconscious and bleeding out quickly. Megan and her partner, Lucas, do everything they can for their patient. It’s only when they’re loading him into the ambulance that Megan gets a really good look at the man whose life is hanging on by a thread. And recognises him as the one who ruined her life. Megan contacts Jess and shares the shocking news. She’s stunned to hear her ex-friend’s bitter, angry words. Surely she couldn’t have anything to do with William’s attack? Before long, both woman are thrown deep into a murder investigation where everyone is a suspect. Everyone had a motive. After all, William had it coming…

I really enjoyed You Had It Coming and devoured it in the space of a few days. The story is told from three view points: Megan, Jess and Detective Sergeant Bridget Kennedy. I particularly enjoyed hearing from Bridget about the ongoing, ever-widening search for the killer. Bridget came across as an intelligent, dedicated officer but she appeared a little out of her depth whilst trying to reduce the very large list of suspects. Only to add a few more names as new characters were introduced and new links were discovered. I thought the author did an excellent job of making Bridget seem very human. Every avenue has to be investigated to find the truth and Bridget did just that. I loved her determination and doggedness.

Megan and Jess were also very well-written characters. I could feel their pain as the past was once again dug up and gone over with a fine tooth comb. I empathised with both woman as they found themselves slap bang in the middle of a murder investigation as prime suspects. I wanted them both to be innocent but the author cleverly makes you doubt everyone. After all, revenge is a dish best served cold. I thought the author dealt sensitively with the subject matter and the far reaching devastation caused that night.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. You Had It Coming is an intriguing mystery that hooked me in from the get-go. I loved the Australian setting, the characters were all multi-layered and interesting individuals and the plot kept me turning the pages. I was able to work out whodunit in the first half of the book but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment. The air of suspicion created by the author amongst family and friends is wonderful. Trust no one. I thoroughly enjoyed You Had It Coming and would happily read more. So much so, I’ve downloaded another of Carroll’s novels which I hope to make a start on soon. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of You Had It Coming. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll was published in the UK by Viper Books on 13th May 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

B.M. Carroll (also known as Ber Carroll) was born in Blarney, a small village in Ireland. The third child of six, reading was her favourite pastime (and still is!). Ber moved to Sydney in 1995 and spent her early career working in finance. Her work colleagues were speechless when she revealed that she had written a novel that was soon to be published. Ber now writes full-time and is the author of ten novels. Over the last few years, Ber’s writing has become darker and more suspenseful (probably reflecting her state of mind). Her most recent novels The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy, Who We Were, and You Had It Coming (May/June 2021) are published under B.M. Carroll.

You can find out more about Ber by visiting her website http://www.bercarroll.com
or by checking out her Facebook page

WWW Wednesday | 12th May 2021 #WWWWednesday #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Hunger by Alma Katsu
After having travelled west for weeks, the party of pioneers comes to a crossroads. It is time for their leader, George Donner, to make a choice. They face two diverging paths which lead to the same destination. One is well-documented – the other untested, but rumoured to be shorter.

Donner’s decision will shape the lives of everyone travelling with him. The searing heat of the desert gives way to biting winds and a bitter cold that freezes the cattle where they stand. Driven to the brink of madness, the ill-fated group struggles to survive and minor disagreements turn into violent confrontations. Then the children begin to disappear. As the survivors turn against each other, a few begin to realise that the threat they face reaches beyond the fury of the natural elements, to something more primal and far more deadly.

Based on the true story of The Donner Party, The Hunger is an eerie, shiver-inducing exploration of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.

What did you recently finish reading?

Dead Ground (Washington Poe #4) by M.W. Craven
Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused – he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp – but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.

As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim’s background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene – and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken . . .

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Invitation by A.M. Castle
Thirteen guests. One killer. No escape.

On an island on the coast of Cornwall, cut off from the mainland by the tides for most of the day, thirteen old friends meet at Tregowan Castle for a weekend of revelry.

By the next evening only twelve are still alive.

Amongst them is a killer – but who? As a storm traps them on the island and past betrayals and grievances are revealed, nerves fray and friendships begin to fracture.

But with no escape and no way of calling for help it’s only a matter of time before the killer strikes again. And when everyone is keeping secrets, anybody could be the next victim…

Perfect for fans of Lucy Foley’s The Guest List and Agatha Christie.

#BookReview: The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan @HQstories @1stMondayCrime #TheWildGirls #damppebbles

“In a luxury lodge on Botswana’s sun-soaked plains, four friends reunite for a birthday celebration…

THE BIRTHDAY GIRL
Has it all, but chose love over her friends…

THE TEACHER
Feels the walls of her flat and classroom closing in…

THE MOTHER
Loves her baby, but desperately needs a break…

THE INTROVERT
Yearns for adventure after suffering for too long…

Arriving at the safari lodge, a feeling of unease settles over them. There’s no sign of the party that was promised. There’s no phone signal. They’re alone, in the wild.

THE HUNT IS ON.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan. The Wild Girls was published on 15th April 2021 by HQ and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free copy of The Wild Girls which has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to HQ and First Monday Crime for sending me a review copy of the book.

The fabulous Phoebe Morgan will be appearing alongside a host of other brilliant authors later today – Monday, 10th May 2021 at 7.30pm – over on the FM Facebook page. More information further down this post!

Four friends torn apart by one fateful night two years ago. Their lives have taken very different paths. Grace has become a hermit, hiding away from everyone and everything. Alice is drowning in debt and if truth be told, is unhappy in her relationship. Hannah is finally a mum to Max after years of trying and lots of heartache. And Felicity has moved to New York and is living a perfect, glamorous life (no surprise there!). When an expensive looking invitation arrives for each of the women, they’re shocked to discover that Felicity is offering them an olive branch in the form of an all expenses paid long weekend in Botswana to mark her 30th birthday. After careful consideration, all three friends accept and board the 11 hour flight to a different world. But when they arrive, exhausted, at their exclusive lodgings something doesn’t feel right. There’s no sign of Felicity, there’s not another soul to be seen. They have no idea where they are and their phones aren’t working. This dream holiday could turn out to be the death of them…

What a thoroughly entertaining book The Wild Girls is. I found it to be very readable and quite the page-turner. I admit, I initially took a bit of a dislike to the main characters but that didn’t stop me from enjoying their tale. I warmed to Grace the most over the course of the book, despite the fact she’s quite naïve and timid at times. Each of the four friends has a very defined role in their group, as you would expect, and as the story progressed she came out of her shell more and more. The more I read, the more I liked her.

The Wild Girls is full to the brim of secrets. I really enjoyed the uncertainty the author packs into the story. The reader finds out early on that something went wrong between the four friends to shatter their very tight-knit friendship. It’s not until later on in the story that you find out what happened and why. It was very clever the way the author put blame in one way or another on all four characters (although the blame on one character was self imposed – I don’t think anyone else would blame her for what she did!). I also really liked the way I was never 100% certain about anything.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Wild Girls is a very readable psychological crime thriller which I can see being a huge hit. This is the second book I have read by Morgan (the first being her debut – The Doll House) and I would happily read more of this author’s work. I loved the setting which gave the story a wonderful isolated edge. It was different and a hook in itself for me. I had hoped for a slightly different ending but it wasn’t to be – it felt a smidge flat after everything that proceeded it (perhaps I missed something). Still a very entertaining, compelling read. Recommended.

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

The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan was published in the UK by HQ on 15th April 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

First Monday Crime
Phoebe Morgan will be joining the panel for May’s First Monday Facebook event on Monday 10th May 2021. Phoebe will be appearing alongside Tina Baker (author of Call Me Mummy), James Delargy (author of Vanished), Marion Todd (author of What They Knew) and asking the questions will be William Shaw. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 10th May via the First Monday Facebook page.

Phoebe Morgan is a bestselling author and editor. She studied English at Leeds University after growing up in the Suffolk countryside. She has previously worked as a journalist and now edits commercial fiction for a publishing house during the day, and writes her own books in the evenings. She lives in London and you can follow her on Twitter @Phoebe_A_Morgan, Instagram @phoebeannmorgan, Facebook @PhoebeMorganAuthor or find her blog about publishing and writing at http://www.phoebemorganauthor.com.

WWW Wednesday | 5th May 2021 #WWWWednesday #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford
A fresh start. A new home.

A time to make friends. A chance to hide from her past.

University life offers all these things to Pen.

But her secrets define her. And they may yet kill her…

What did you recently finish reading?

Cuban Heel (Alex Cohen #5) by Leopold Borstinski
Would you work with the devil to build a paradise on Earth?

Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen joins long-time friend and business partner, Meyer Lansky to recreate Las Vegas in 1950s Havana. When dictator President Batista gives them the opportunity to build their dream casino complexes, Alex must choose between dancing with this devil or being in debt to the Italian mob.

If he takes the mafia money then he will be tied to the men who planned his earlier downfall and removed his mentor, Lucky Luciano from the syndicate. If he refuses their investment then he will be beholden to the tinpot generalissimo and his bloated ego. But Alex knows that there is more at stake than mere gelt–now he has his family surrounding him and they will suffer the ultimate price if he makes a bad decision.

The fifth book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical thriller novel, which tears at the heart of the Jewish mob’s role in pre-revolution Cuba. Leopold Borstinski’s piercing crime fiction gives each reader the shocking skinny into the building of modern America.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Camp Slaughter by Sergio Gomez
It’s a local legend. No one is sure if this “Camp Slaughter” place is real or not. But a group of college kids renting out a cabin deep in the woods of Pennsylvania will soon realize the truth. They’ll realize the danger, too. Or rather, the cannibal out in the woods will bring the danger to them…

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Cuban Heel by Leopold Borstinski (@borstinski) #CubanHeel #AlexCohenSeries #damppebbles

“Would you work with the devil to build a paradise on Earth?

Jewish gangster, Alex Cohen joins long-time friend and business partner, Meyer Lansky to recreate Las Vegas in 1950s Havana. When dictator President Batista gives them the opportunity to build their dream casino complexes, Alex must choose between dancing with this devil or being in debt to the Italian mob.

If he takes the mafia money then he will be tied to the men who planned his earlier downfall and removed his mentor, Lucky Luciano from the syndicate. If he refuses their investment then he will be beholden to the tinpot generalissimo and his bloated ego. But Alex knows that there is more at stake than mere gelt–now he has his family surrounding him and they will suffer the ultimate price if he makes a bad decision.

The fifth book in the Alex Cohen series is an historical thriller novel, which tears at the heart of the Jewish mob’s role in pre-revolution Cuba. Leopold Borstinski’s piercing crime fiction gives each reader the shocking skinny into the building of modern America.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Cuban Heel by Leopold Borstinski as part of the blog tour. Cuban Heel was published in paperback and digital formats by Sobriety Press on 3rd April 2021. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Cuban Heel but that has in no way influenced my review.

Cuban Heel is the fifth book in the author’s Alex Cohen Series and if you’re a fan of historical crime or mob fiction then these books are a must read! Each book (starting with The Bowery Slugger) covers a decade of Cohen’s life from his teenage years on the mean streets of the Bowery to Cuban Heel, the latest release, which sees Cohen move to Cuba to make his mark in the 1950s. There are a further two books planned in the series and I, for one, cannot wait to read them.

Cohen and pal, Meyer Lansky, have moved to Cuba to continue to build on their Las Vegas success and make Havana their own tropical paradise. Lansky has been cultivating a relationship with Fulgencio Batista so when the dictator overthrows the existing president in a coup, and takes control of the island, Lansky is able to pull the right strings to ensure everything falls into the correct place. Over the years, Lansky and Cohen build a formidable empire of casinos and entertainment venues for the rich and famous to throw their money away in. But with increasing and ever present political unrest, Cohen must keep his interests, and most importantly, his family safe, to ensure the gelt keeps rolling in. With added pressure from the Italian commission and frequent talk of the Castro brother’s uprising, Alex Cohen will have to fight to save what’s important to him…

I love the Alex Cohen series. Cuban Heel is a great addition to a fascinating and immersive series which I will be sad to see come to an end. The author cleverly takes real events and historical figures and mixes them up with his own fictional characters to great effect. The reader really shouldn’t really like Alex Cohen. He’s a violent and aggressive man who will snuff out a life if it benefits him or he’s been instructed to do so. There’s just something about him though that is, gosh, endearing…? Can a merciless killer be endearing? I think that’s part of the appeal of this series. I have read every single book so far and I’ve been with Cohen every step of the blood-soaked way, yet I somehow feel a fondness towards him. Which is testament to the author’s brilliant writing. I am 100% invested in this series.

I will confess that my knowledge of this time in history is a little patchy. However, I am a lot more clued up since reading Cuban Heel. In fact, I don’t think I’ve read a single Alex Cohen book and not at some point Googled the real-life characters or events to find out more. Not only does Borstinski provide his readers with a fascinating, page-turner of a story but I always come away from one of his books feeling I have a deeper understanding of that period in history.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Cuban Heel is a great addition to the Alex Cohen Series. I do feel you could read it as a standalone but when there are four brilliant books before this one, why not indulge a little and get hold of the entire series. I loved that Cohen has become a reformed family man reuniting with his ex-wife, Sarah, and two of their sons, David and Moishe, along with Alex’s estranged sister, Esther. The book has a very strong sense of family which we haven’t seen from Cohen before. It was great to see his protective, softer side. As you would expect from a book about gangsters, there is violence but I thought it was toned down a little this time (compared to the earlier books). It’s official, I’m an Alex Cohen fan! I can’t wait to see where the 1960s take Alex. Be assured, wherever it is, I’ll be along for the ride! Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Cuban Heel. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Cuban Heel by Leopold Borstinski was published in the UK by Sobriety Press on 3rd April 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesamazon.com |

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#BookReview: The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave @ViperBooks #TheLastThingHeToldMe #damppebbles

“IT WAS THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME: PROTECT HER

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his new wife, Hannah: protect her. Hannah knows exactly who Owen needs her to protect – his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. And who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As her increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, his boss is arrested for fraud and the police start questioning her, Hannah realises that her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey might hold the key to discovering Owen’s true identity, and why he disappeared. Together they set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realise that their lives will never be the same again…

A beautiful and thrilling mystery, perfect for readers of Lianne Moriarty and Celeste Ng.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. The Last Thing He Told Me will be published by Viper Books tomorrow (that’s Tuesday 4th May 2021) and will be available in hardcover and audio formats, with the ebook publishing next week and the paperback to follow later this year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Last Thing He Told Me. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early copy.

After an unexpected whirlwind romance, Hannah Hall and Owen Michaels have married. Hannah has left her life in New York City and moved into Owen’s house boat in Sausalito, Northern California, to start building a life together. Except there’s one problem. Owen’s sixteen year old daughter, Bailey, is not a fan of her new stepmother and she’s not afraid to make her feelings known. Hannah is desperate for some kind of connection with the teenager but no matter what she does, Bailey shows no sign of softening. And then Owen disappears leaving only a note: ‘PROTECT HER’. His boss is arrested for fraud and fingers are beginning to point in Owen’s direction. Hannah is repeatedly questioned about her husband’s whereabouts, but she knows nothing. Who is Owen really? Does Bailey’s childhood hold the key to figuring out where he’s vanished to? And how well do we really know the people we’re closest to…?

The Last Thing He Told Me is a beautifully written mystery which captivates the reader from the start. Hannah and Owen live an almost idyllic existence and I was enchanted by their lives. I particularly liked Hannah who, despite her own parental traumas, seemed keen to be there for an uncommunicative and stroppy teen no matter what was thrown at  her. There are some wonderful moments of interaction between Hannah and Bailey scattered throughout the book, many of which gave me a warm glow. The return plane journey being one of my favourites.

I loved that the book didn’t go in a direction I was expecting. The unravelling of Owen’s past was very compelling reading and I was always keen to return to the book and find out what juicy titbit Hannah and Bailey had discovered and how it would link to the next reveal. The suspense the author conveys is palpable and I was on the edge of my seat throughout, asking myself ‘who is this man and why would he leave his wife and daughter alone?’. All is revealed to the reader and it is completely unexpected.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re looking for an intriguing mystery laden with bucket loads of suspense and family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me fits the bill perfectly. I was captivated by Hannah and Bailey’s hunt for the truth. It’s an emotional and beautifully written novel about sacrifice and what makes a parent. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Last Thing He Told Me. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave was published in the UK by Viper Books and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Laura DaveLaura Dave is the bestselling author of several critically acclaimed novels including Eight Hundred Grapes and The First Husband. Her work has been published in eighteen countries, and five of her novels, including The Last Thing he Told Me, have been optioned for film and television. She resides in Santa Monica, California.

Her new novel, The Last Thing He Told Me, will be released on May 4th, 2021.

#BookReview: The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird @boroughpress #TheEndOfMen #damppebbles

“Glasgow, 2025.  Dr Amanda Maclean is called to treat a young man with a mild fever. Within three hours he dies. The mysterious illness sweeps through the hospital with deadly speed. This is how it begins.

The victims are all men.

Dr Maclean raises the alarm, but the sickness spreads to every corner of the globe. Threatening families. Governments. Countries.

Can they find a cure before it’s too late? Will this be the story of the end of the world – or its salvation?

Compelling, confronting and devastating, The End of Men is the novel that everyone is talking about.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird. The End of Men is published by The Borough Press today (that’s Thursday 29th April 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The End of Men but that has in no way influenced my review.

Oh.My.Goodness! This book is incredible. After the last year or so, you’ll understand why I have been purposefully avoiding all fiction which involves a virus or a pandemic. Too close to home. Far, far too close to home. But Sweeney-Baird’s debut intrigued me. I love dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. However, I don’t read anywhere near enough. The End of Men has without doubt reignited my love of this compelling, thought-provoking genre. This book is an absolute must-read!

On a normal shift in A&E, Dr Amanda Maclean makes a shocking discovery. Male patients and staff in the hospital are coming down with a mystery illness which, within a few days, kills them. Dr Maclean recognises the risk and tries to put emergency measures into place to control the spread of the virus. But she’s thwarted at every turn by those higher up the food chain. Before long the virus – named by Dr Maclean as the Plague – is taking over and spreading faster than anyone could imagine. As the World struggles to find a vaccine, the question on everyone’s lips is: could this be the end of men….?

Absolutely superb and frighteningly real. The author has included a note at the start of the novel which explains how the book was written before COVID came into our lives. I wonder how the author felt as she watched the news stories building day by day. The virus in The End of Men is, of course, not the same as COVID but there are similarities which can’t be ignored.

Anyway, enough talk of COVID. I only mentioned it because I think it’s impossible to ignore our own experience of a pandemic when you’re discussing a book about a pandemic! So instead let’s imagine a world where virtually everyone you meet is female. All of the men – the husbands, the sons, the fathers, the brothers, the uncles – have died. A few men are immune but the odds aren’t great, only 1 in 10. Every other male is guaranteed to die because there is no stopping the Plague. Women carry the virus but don’t become ill. There is no vaccine, shielding can help but only for so long. It’s a death sentence and there’s nothing that can be done. Now think of all of the professions where the large majority of people qualified are men (not exclusively men but the majority). Pilots, electricians, refuse workers, the army, the police force, the list goes on. The implications of the author’s scary new world are far reaching and it was a real eye opener for this reader. The slow realisation of what no men would, in reality, actually mean.

The End of Men is the true definition a page turner. I couldn’t put this book down as I was desperate to find out what revelation the author was going to share with me next. We follow the lives of several woman and watch how grief, uncertainty and a complete change in lifestyle affect them. Some, surprisingly, for the better. For a lot of the woman in this novel, the painful loss of some or all of their family, was devastating. My heart broke on several occasions and I particularly felt for Catherine. Catherine is an anthropologist who features throughout the book and decides to record the stories of the Plague for future reference. I loved Catherine who was unapologetic in her grief, devoted to her loving husband and adorable son. I looked forward to hearing from her and I longed for her story to finish on a high note. Whether it does or not, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The End of Men is a must read for all. Intelligent, poignant, devastating and totally absorbing. This is another stunning debut for 2021 which I heartily recommend. Another strong contender for my ‘books of the year’ list. I struggled to put this one down and on the odd occasion where I did, I was desperate to pick it up again and return to the author’s world. Such an emotional, well thought out and captivating piece of fiction that I hope flies off the shelves. It absolutely deserves to! Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of The End of Men. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird was published in the UK by The Borough Press on 29th April 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Christina Sweeney-Baird was born in 1993 and grew up in North London and Glasgow. She studied Law at the University of Cambridge and graduated with a First in 2015. She works as a corporate litigation lawyer in London. The End of Men is her first novel.

WWW Wednesday | 28th April 2021 #WWWWednesday #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Hermit by S.R. White
HE DISAPPEARED FOR 15 YEARS…UNTIL THE DAY OF THE MURDER.

After a puzzling death in the wild bushlands of Australia, detective Dana Russo has just 12 hours to interrogate the prime suspect – a silent, inscrutable man found at the scene of the crime, who disappeared without trace 15 years earlier.

But where has he been? Why won’t he talk? And exactly how dangerous is he? Without conclusive evidence to prove his guilt, Dana faces a desperate race against time to persuade him to speak. But as each interview spirals with fevered intensity, Dana must reckon with her own traumatic past to reveal the shocking truth . . .

Compulsive, atmospheric and stunningly accomplished, HERMIT introduces a thrilling new voice in Australian crime fiction, perfect for fans of Jane Harper’s THE DRY and Chris Hammer’s SCRUBLANDS.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Nice girls can do bad things…

When Ambrosia first arrives at prestigious college Wesleyan, she’s desperate to fit in. But Amb struggles to navigate the rules of this strange, elite world, filled with privileged ‘nice’ young women – until she meets the charismatic but troubled Sully, with whom she forms an obsessive friendship.

Intoxicated by Sully’s charm and determined to impress her, Amb finds herself drawn deep into her new best friend’s dangerous manipulations. But if she wants to play Sully at her own game, Amb has no idea just how devastating the consequences will be…

Deeply unsettling and compulsive, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a gripping exploration of the brutal lengths girls will go to, to take what they think they are owed.

What do you think you’ll read next?

All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford
A fresh start. A new home.

A time to make friends. A chance to hide from her past.

University life offers all these things to Pen.

But her secrets define her. And they may yet kill her…

#BookReview: The Con Season by Adam Cesare #TheConSeason #damppebbles

“Horror movie starlet Clarissa Lee is beautiful, internationally known, and…completely broke.

To cap off years of questionable financial and personal decisions, Clarissa accepts an invitation to participate in a “fully immersive” fan convention. She arrives at an off-season summer camp and finds what was supposed to be a quick buck has become a real-life slasher movie.

Deep in the woods of Kentucky with a supporting cast of B-level celebrities, Clarissa must fight to survive the deadly game that the con’s organizers have rigged against her.

A demented, funny, bloody, and strangely-poignant horror novel from the acclaimed author of Tribesmen, Zero Lives Remaining, and Mercy House.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Con Season by Adam Cesare. The Con Season was published on 16th August 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited which is where my copy came from.

I love horror but I’m quite particular in my choices. I prefer slasher horror with a crazed serial killer, human or otherwise, setting about a bunch of innocent and unsuspecting victims with wild abandon — rather than vampires, ghosts or ghoulies. I read Cesare’s first YA slasher, Clown in a Cornfield, last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. To the point where I was keen to read more. So imagine my delight, when I saw this book grinning malevolently at me from the Kindle Unlimited library. I just couldn’t resist!

Aging horror movie star, Clarissa Lee, is no longer the first name on everyone’s lips when it comes to casting a new movie. Except, perhaps, unless you’re talking about ‘the mother role’ or *gasp* ‘the grandmother role’. She’s a regular on the convention scene but it barely brings in enough to support Clarissa’s lavish lifestyle. When she’s invited to join a ‘fully immersive’ convention, an experience labelled by the organisers as something completely different to everything else out there, she drunkenly agrees. But on arrival at the venue – a deserted summer camp deep in the Kentucky woods – everything is not as it first appears. Surrounded by fellow has-beens and wannabes, Clarissa has a fight on her hands. A fight for her life…

The Con Season is bloody marvellous, literally. It’s a high energy page-turner which I could not put down. And at just over 200 pages, there’s a heck of a lot packed into this fast and thrilling read. I love the idea behind this book. A group of desperate starlets out to earn a few easy dollars turn up to discover they’re the main event. The ‘fans’ aren’t there for autographs and selfies (well, there are selfies involved but not the kind you would expect). They’re there to see their movie heroes meet a disgusting and bloody end at the hands of their very own slasher. All controlled by a group of sick minds behind the scenes and one kidnapped film director (who else is going to work the cameras for the souvenir DVD!). This book is not for the faint hearted or the squeamish but I was hooked from beginning to disgusting end.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Con Season is a guaranteed page-turner which I think most horror fans will enjoy. OK, it’s a bit crazy and you do have to suspend your disbelief but who the heck cares? I wanted an entertaining blood-soaked read and I found it in The Con Season. I would happily pick up another book by this author based on the two I have read by him so far. Recommended.

The Con Season by Adam Cesare was published in the UK by Black T-Shirt Books on 16th August 2016 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukBook DepositoryGoodreads |

Adam Cesare is a New Yorker who lives in Philadelphia. He studied English and film at Boston University.

His work has been featured in numerous publications, including Shroud Magazine. His nonfiction has appeared in ParacinemaFangoria, The LA Review of Books and other venues. He also writes a monthly column for Cemetery Dance Online.

His novels and novellas are available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all other fine retailers.

You should buy some.

#BookReview: The Islanders by S.V. Leonard @CaneloCrime #TheIslanders #damppebbles

The Islanders coverHer dream escape is about to become a nightmare…

Kimberley King has spent the last five years trying to outrun the reason she left the police force. Her life is a mess and she’s desperate for change. So when she is randomly selected for the new series of the hit show LoveWrecked, she can’t pass up the chance to win the £100,000 prize. All Kimberley needs to do is couple up with one of her fellow contestants, win the infamous LoveWrecked challenges, and she will have enough cash for a fresh start.

But the island isn’t the paradise she was promised and within hours, one of the contestants is dead. Then the announcement comes: one of the islanders is a murderer and Kimberley must find out who, live on television. For every hour it takes her, one more person will die.

The game is rigged, everyone is hiding secrets, and time is running out…

An addictive and unputdownable crime thriller, perfect for fans of Lucy Foley and T.M. Logan.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of a cracking debut – The Islanders by S.V. Leonard. The Islanders was published by Canelo Crime in paperback and digital formats on 11th March 2021. I chose to read a free eARC of The Islanders but that has in no way influenced my review.

Oh.My.Gosh! This book 😍. As soon as I laid eyes on The Islanders I knew I was going to read it, and read it soon. Sometimes, as a reader, you pick up a book and you feel it was written for you. That’s how I felt about this particular novel. I LOVE the premise. I’m a huge fan of a certain book by a certain legendary author and there are fabulous little nods here and there to that great piece of crime fiction. I’ve never watched Love Island though, which I believe is the other influence. Other lust infused dating shows, perhaps 😳. But not Love Island.

Kimberley King’s life has taken a downturn. Following an incident which continues to haunt her, she waved goodbye to the police force, her friends and colleagues, and started a new life as a barmaid. And now she’s been sacked for turning up late repeatedly. Everything is wrong, nothing is right. Until a talent scout from the hugely popular dating show LoveWrecked turns up out of the blue and asks her to take part in the latest series. It’s going to be LoveWrecked‘s greatest ever season after being absent for five long years. And the contestants will all be chosen at random to mix things up a little! Kimberley really needs the £100,000 prize so reluctantly agrees. Following the contestants’ arrival on the island paradise, after a night of heavy drinking, they awaken to find one of their number dead. It’s Kimberley’s job, as an ex-police officer, to find out who the killer is. But the clock is ticking. Failure to find the murderer will result in another islander being killed, every hour, on the hour, until Kimberley makes her denouement. It’s a race against time and the World is watching…

Marvellous stuff! This book didn’t need to try very hard to get me hooked. It was eminently readable, pulling me along for a rip roaring ride full of delightful reveals and cleverly placed shockers. OK, it may be a little far-fetched, but who the flip actually cares?! It was 100% entertaining and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Kimberley King is a desperate women, yes, but the thought of spending the Summer on a secluded Greek island, sunning yourself, eating delicious food and drinking copious amounts of wine would certainly appeal to me at the moment as well. Not too sure about the ‘famous LoveWrecked challenges’ or the TV cameras following you everywhere you go though! Kim isn’t the most likeable character, and I wanted to give her a good shake at one point, but I did find myself rooting for her. The other characters are an interesting bunch. I got really excited at the start of the book as the reader is told there are twenty LoveWrecked contestants being lined up. Knowing what was to come, I was in my element – looking forward to what initially promised to be a bit of a blood bath (yes, I’m quite peculiar it seems!). But only five contestants actually make it to the island (and a couple of crew) before things start to go very, very wrong. Still, that probably makes the book more palatable for more normal readers and a lot more manageable.

I was completely smitten with the plot of The Islanders. Hook, line and sinker. It’s paced beautifully with something always going on to keep the intrigue levels high. I was also keen to see who would get the chop (quite literally) from the show next. Interestingly, my guess as to whodunit always seemed to be the next person to die! By the time I approached the end of the book, I was completely clueless. So when the reveal came, their identity was a surprise. However, the killer’s motivation was not.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Islanders is a fantastically written, very readable, totally engrossing debut which I devoured with glee. This book made my dark heart happy and that’s all you can ask really. It’s a compelling page-turner which hooks the reader in with ease and keeps you transfixed from start to finish. Recommended.

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

The Islanders by S.V. Leonard was published in the UK by Canelo Crime on 11th March 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.comWaterstonesFoylesGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

about-the-author3

SV LeonardS.V. Leonard grew up in the little coastal town of Formby, a suburb of Liverpool. She studied Classics at Oxford University and has been lucky enough to live in Australia, Poland, and Malaysia. She is now based in London. When not writing, she can be found breaking out of escape rooms; doing historical walking tours of London; or drinking wine.