#BookReview: The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker @HutchinsonBooks @najmafinlay #TheFirstDayofSpring #damppebbles

‘So that was all it took,’ I thought. ‘That was all it took for me to feel like I had all the power in the world. One morning, one moment, one yellow-haired boy. It wasn’t so much after all.’

Chrissie knows how to steal sweets from the shop without getting caught, the best hiding place for hide-and-seek, the perfect wall for handstands.

Now she has a new secret. It gives her a fizzing, sherbet feeling in her belly. She doesn’t get to feel power like this at home, where food is scarce and attention scarcer.

Fifteen years later, Julia is trying to mother her five-year-old daughter, Molly. She is always worried – about affording food and school shoes, about what the other mothers think of her. Most of all she worries that the social services are about to take Molly away.

That’s when the phone calls begin, which Julia is too afraid to answer, because it’s clear the caller knows the truth about what happened all those years ago.

And it’s time to face the truth: is forgiveness and redemption ever possible for someone who has killed?

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker. The First Day of Spring is published by Hutchinson today (that’s Thursday 24th June 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The First Day of Spring which has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Najma at Hutchinson for sending me an early copy of the book.

Oh. My. Gosh! The First Day of Spring is completely mesmerising and utterly devastating. I was smitten early on and I couldn’t bear to be parted from the book until I closed the last page. This is an exquisite fiction debut from an author to watch. A beautifully written tale featuring unforgettable characters but with a darkness at its heart. I flipping loved it!

Chrissie is eight years old. Chrissie has a big secret – she killed a boy. But she can’t tell anyone what she did. Otherwise she won’t be able to do it again and have the fizzy feeling it gave her in her tummy. Fifteen years later, Julia is doing the best she can for her five year old daughter, Molly. She worries constantly that she’s not doing enough. Every scratch, every bump could result in social services taking Molly away. So the last thing Julia needs is for Molly to break her arm and end up in hospital under the watchful eye of a doctor. Shortly after Molly’s accident the phone calls start. Someone knows the truth. Someone knows what happened fifteen years ago. It’s finally time for Julia to face her past…

The First Day of Spring is a stunning piece of fiction which is heightened to a new level thanks to the voice of eight- year-old Chrissie. The author has managed to create an unforgettable character who, despite being a killer, worked her way into my heart. The neglect Chrissie suffers thanks to her distant and damaged mother, Eleanor, is devastating. The simple things a child needs to grow and flourish are not provided. Chrissie is unloved and unwanted, and boy, does she know it. Eleanor makes this plainly clear to everyone, including her own long-suffering daughter. One scene in particular, where Eleanor decides she’s had enough, is absolutely heart-breaking. Everyone in the small community could do more to help the child. Her clothes are tatty, she never wants to go home and she eats her friend’s parents out of house and home. But is the abuse and neglect suffered by Chrissie reason enough to kill? Can a child be held 100% accountable for their actions when they don’t fully understand what they’ve done?

Julia is desperate to make sure Molly experiences a very different childhood to her own. The desire to be different, to make a change, to break the cycle and provide everything her daughter needs motivates her to keep going. But she also sees Molly as punishment for the past. She’s reminded constantly of what she did. I so desperately wanted things to work out for Julia and Molly. With social services peering over their shoulders and the threat of losing Molly ever present, I was captivated by their journey from the moment I met them.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely, yes. I devoured The First Day of Spring. When I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about the characters. It’s a dark and unsettling read which I don’t think will be a good fit for everyone due to the difficult subject matter but this reader absolutely loved it. Chrissie broke my heart time and time again. The author’s writing is immersive and totally believable which made Chrissie, Julia and Molly come to life before my very eyes. I don’t think I’ll be able or willing to forget The First Day of Spring. Haunting, compelling and utterly devastating. Highly recommended.

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

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker was published in the UK by Hutchinson on 24th June 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 |

Nancy Tucker was born and raised in West London. She spent most of her adolescence in and out of hospital suffering from anorexia nervosa. On leaving school, she wrote her first book, THE TIME IN BETWEEN (Icon, 2015) which explored her experience of eating disorders and recovery. Her second book, THAT WAS WHEN PEOPLE STARTED TO WORRY (Icon, 2018), looked more broadly at mental illness in young women.

Nancy recently graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Experimental Psychology. Since then she has worked in an inpatient psychiatric unit for children and adolescents and in adult mental health services. She now works as an assistant psychologist in an adult eating disorders service. The First Day of Spring is her first work of fiction.

WWW Wednesday | 23rd June 2021 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #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?

Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Charlie Jordan is being driven across the country by a serial killer. Maybe.

Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board, who also has a good reason for leaving university in the middle of term. On the road they share their stories, carefully avoiding the subject dominating the news – the Campus Killer, who’s tied up and stabbed three students in the span of a year, has just struck again.

Travelling the lengthy journey between university and their final destination, Charlie begins to notice discrepancies in Josh’s story.

As she begins to plan her escape from the man she is becoming certain is the killer, she starts to suspect that Josh knows exactly what she’s thinking.

Meaning that she could very well end up as his next victim.

A game of cat and mouse is about to play out. In order to win, Charlie must do only one thing . . . survive the night.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler
When the plane crashed, 160 people perished. Now someone is killing off the survivors.

Five years ago, a horrific airline disaster made headlines around the world. On the anniversary of the fatal crash, a number of those who were spared gather to mark the occasion. By morning, Nick Gilbert, a celebrity chef and one of the party, lies dead. Detective Rachel Lewis leads the investigation and within days another survivor is stabbed to death. It seems certain that a killer is targeting the lucky eight.

Clodagh Kinsella recovered from the injuries she sustained in the crash, but lost her sister that day. The bereavement shared by Clodagh and her sister’s husband led them to a romance of their own. Yet lately, Clodagh knows something isn’t right. As the noose tightens on the group and Rachel comes across more questions than answers, it’s only a matter of time before Clodagh will have to face the consequences of a mistake she made before the plane went down…

A tense and gripping crime thriller, perfect for fans of Lesley Kara and Mari Hannah.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Seat 7a by Sebastian Fitzek (translated by Steve Anderson)
Germany’s king of the thriller takes to the skies with a terrifying and twisted new novel.

You know your fear is irrational, you’ve checked the statistics. Flying is safer than driving – nineteen times safer. Irrational, perhaps. But you’re not wrong.

Mats Krüger is terrified of flying. But his daughter, Nele, is about to give birth to his first grandchild, so, for once, he’s taking the risk and making the thirteen-hour flight from Buenos Aires to Berlin.

Of course, he’s taken precautions. He’s bought the five statistically safest seats on the plane, as well as seat 7A – the spot where you are most likely to die in a plane accident – so no one can sit there. Just in case.

But Mats has to give up seat 7A to another passenger. Moments later, he receives a phone call. Nele has been kidnapped. The caller has a single demand.

Convince the pilot to crash the plane. Or Nele dies.

#BookReview: Hostage by Clare Mackintosh @BooksSphere #HostageBook #damppebbles

“You can save hundreds of lives.
Or the one that matters most . . .

The atmosphere on board the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney is electric. Celebrities are rumoured to be among the passengers in business class, and the world is watching the landmark journey.

Flight attendant Mina is trying to focus on the passengers, instead of her troubled five-year-old daughter back at home – or the cataclysmic problems in her marriage.

But soon after the plane takes off, Mina receives a chilling anonymous note. Someone wants to make sure the plane never reaches its destination. They’re demanding her cooperation . . . and they know exactly how to get it.

It’s twenty hours to landing.
A lot can happen in twenty hours . . “

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Hostage by Clare Mackintosh. Hostage is published by Sphere today (that’s Tuesday 22nd June 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Hostage but that has in no way influenced my review.

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a huge fan of books with a disaster theme to them. I LOVE them. The complete lack of control the characters have. The gut wrenching knowledge of the situation they’re in. And in the case of Hostage, the intense claustrophobia pressing down on the characters heightening every situation, every twist and turn. There was no way on this earth I was going to be able to resist Hostage, and I loved every second I spent with this immersive thriller.

Mina Holbrook is part of the cabin crew for the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney since 1989. It’s a momentous occasion and one she had to fight for, if only to avoid an uncomfortable lead up to Christmas with her estranged husband, playing happy families. Flight 79 will be remembered forever…but not for the reasons everyone is expecting. A couple of hours into the twenty hour flight, Mina receives a note which changes everything. She must help a hijacker access the flight deck. It goes against everything she believes in, everything she trained for. But the hijacker knows exactly how to get Mina’s co-operation. She has a choice to make; save many lives or just the one…

What a page-turner! I was completely engrossed in Hostage from beginning to end and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride (although I won’t be getting on a plane anytime soon!). It’s a gripping, heart-stopping thriller and I devoured it quicker than anything else I’ve read recently. I struggled with how I felt about Mina. Ultimately she’s put in a very difficult position and makes a choice that I could completely understand. Was it the right decision? Who knows! But I disliked her for it despite it being the decision many of us would also make. Thank goodness this is fiction and not real life. However, after that first event, I started to warm to her again and I think that’s a mark of the author’s excellent writing.  She’s a villain, yes, but she’s not the biggest one by far!

I couldn’t stop thinking about this book when I wasn’t reading it. The pull it had over me was great and I was desperate to find out what terrible event was going to happen next. The reader gets a few short insights into the other passengers lives before the flight and this really helped build their characters for me. There are shocks and surprises galore but I had my suspicions about one aspect of the book which proved to be correct. It didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the story at all though. If anything, it added an extra thrill to the big reveal.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Hostage is a gripping thrill-ride of a read which I devoured with glee. There were certain points in the book where I had to suspend my disbelief a little but again, it’s a cracking story so does it really matter. I was entertained. I will admit to shedding a tear at one point but I can’t tell you where or why. You’ll just have to read this cracking novel for yourself! This is the first book I’ve read by this author but it won’t be my last. An edge of your seat thriller which I highly recommend.

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

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh was published in the UK by Sphere Books on 22nd June 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 |

With more than two million copies of her books sold worldwide, number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016.

Both Clare’s second and third novels, I See You and Let Me Lie, were number one Sunday Times bestsellers. All three of her books were selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club. Clare’s latest novel, After the End, was published in June 2019 and spent seven weeks in the Sunday Times hardback bestseller chart.

Clare’s latest thriller, Hostage, will be published in June 2021.

Together, Clare’s books have been published in more than forty countries. Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

#BookReview: Passenger List by J.S. Dryden @TrapezeBooks #PassengerList #damppebbles

“A missing plane.
A cabin full of suspects.
One woman’s quest for the truth.

When Atlantic Airlines Flight 702 disappears mid-flight between London and New York, the world is stunned. With the public clamouring for answers, authorities seem at a loss as to how to explain the plane’s disappearance.

There were 256 passengers on Flight 702, with many carrying dark secrets on board with them. Could one of them hold the truth behind the plane’s disappearance?

College student Kaitlin Le’s beloved twin brother Conor was on that plane. She refuses to believe the official statements, or to join her parents in their blind acceptance of Conor’s death.

But as she journeys deeper into the murky heart of what really happened on board that plane, it becomes clear she’s drawing attention to herself. And there are some people who would rather the truth behind the fate of Flight 702 stayed buried…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Passenger List by J.S. Dryden. Passenger List will be published by Trapeze Books next week (that’s Thursday 24th June 2021) and will be available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Passenger List but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a huge fan of disaster based thrillers and mysteries, particularly those featuring a hijacked or missing plane. So when I saw this book, it absolutely screamed my name. This is the third plane-based thriller I have read this month (but only the second I’ve reviewed so far on the blog) but it’s slightly different in its approach to the first two, both of which involved a hijacking. Passenger List is more of a fast-paced mystery. I was swept up into Kaitlin Le’s story and oh boy, it was one heck of a ride!

Kaitlin Le refuses to acknowledge the presumed death of her twin brother, Conor. Conor was a passenger on Atlantic Airlines Flight 702 which disappeared during a scheduled flight from London to New York. She’s his twin, surely she would know if he had perished. But with the authorities sticking to one story, Kaitlin has a battle on her hands. Turning her back on her education and her place at Vassar, partly funded by her roommate, Amelia, Kaitlin heads to New York to dig deeper into what happened to flight 702 and ultimately, to find Conor. No matter what it takes…

Kaitlin Le is one tenacious and persistent woman! Where others would have walked away for fear of their life, Kaitlin refuses to give up. I loved her drive. It made for an exciting and thrilling read. She’s pretty reckless at times and gets herself into some terrifying scrapes but she keeps going. Ably assisted by a small group of fascinating characters (an investigative journalist, an ex-FBI agent, an ambulance-chasing lawyer) all of whom help move the story along and add something interesting to the tale.

On analysing the passenger list and digging a little deeper, Kaitlin is able to come up with several possible reasons as to why the flight changed course and vanished. I liked the variety this gave the story. Leads had to be investigated, the truth uncovered (as much as possible) before Kaitlin could decide whether it was worth taking her idea forward. There were a couple of points in the book where I felt things got a little far-fetched but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story at all.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. After reading several plane-based thrillers of late Passenger List‘s different approach made a thoroughly enjoyable change. I found the book easy to read and hard to put down, so much so that I sped through it in a little over 24 hours. A gripping, thrilling read which I heartily recommend to fans of plot-driven mysteries. Just don’t blame me if you never step foot on a plane again! Recommended. (And if you’re a fan of podcasts I believe there’s an accompanying series which you can listen to via the author’s website or your favourite podcast outlet.)

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Passenger List. The above review is my ow unbiased opinion.

Passenger List by J.S. Dryden was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 24th June 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 |

Thumanbay_by The Masons-57.jpegJohn Dryden is a writer, director and executive producer. He created the fiction podcast PASSENGER LIST, a mystery thriller about a plane that disappears mid-flight between London and New York, and the historical fantasy series TUMANBAY which has run for four series. He has written and directed many audio drama series for the BBC including the thrillers SEVERED THREADS, A KIDNAPPING, PANDEMIC and THE RELUCTANT SPY. He has also dramatised and directed for BBC Radio 4 a Sony Award winning dramatization of Charles Dickens’ BLEAK HOUSE, Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE and Vikram Seth’s A SUITABLE BOY.

WWW Wednesday | 16th June 2021 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #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 Beach House by Beverley Jones
The perfect place to hide. Or so she thought . . .

When Grace Jensen returns to her home in the ocean-front town of Lookout Beach one day, she finds a body in a pool of blood and a menacing gift left for her: a knife, a coil of rope and handcuffs.

The community of Lookout Beach are shocked by such a brutal intrusion in their safe, close-knit community – particularly to a family as successful and well-liked as the Jensens – and a police investigation begins to find the trespasser.

But Grace knows who’s after her. She might have changed her name and moved across the world, deciding to hide on the Oregon coast, but she’s been waiting seventeen years for what happened in the small Welsh town where she grew up to catch-up with her.

Grace might seem like the model neighbour and mother, but nobody in Lookout Beach – not even her devoted husband Elias – knows the real her. Or how much blood is on her hands.

What did you recently finish reading?

Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams
What if your mother had been writing to a serial killer?

A convicted murderer with a story to tell

Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.

A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth

Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.

A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.

If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further blood shed, she’ll have to confront a monster.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay
It all started with one little lie . . .

Jane and Marnie have been inseparable since they were eleven years old. They have a lot in common. In their early twenties they both fell in love and married handsome young men.

But Jane never liked Marnie’s husband. He was always so loud and obnoxious, so much larger than life. Which is rather ironic now, of course.

Because if Jane had been honest – if she hadn’t lied – then perhaps her best friend’s husband might still be alive . . .

This is Jane’s opportunity to tell the truth, the question is:
Do you believe her?

Crime Time FM: On the Sofa with Victoria @VictoriaSelman #OnTheSofaWithVictoria #CrimeTimeFM #damppebbles #Podcast

Hello bookish friends and welcome to damppebbles. Today I have something a little different to share with you which I am VERY excited about. As an avid podcast subscriber and a lover of all things crime fiction, I was delighted to hear that the fantastic Crime Time FM are adding another brilliant string to their bow in the form of a new panel show hosted by the fabulous, bestselling author Victoria Selman. Every fortnight, starting TODAY, Victoria will be chatting to household names in crime fiction, as well as rising stars in the genre. Joining Victoria today are two of my favourite authors, Alex North and Sarah Pinborough, so make sure you don’t miss it! Read on for more information…

This June, bestselling thriller author, Victoria Selman will be joining Crime Time FM to host, On the Sofa with Victoria – a new arrow in the quiver of the popular podcast currently presented by Barry Forshaw and Paul Burke.

Victoria’s show will bring audiences panel-style discussions between some of the most exciting names in contemporary crime fiction including Mark Billingham, Sarah Pinborough, CJ Tudor and Chris Whitaker- as well as emerging voices and rising stars such as Abigail Dean, Will Carver and Dominic Nolan.

Each fortnight, she’ll be chatting to authors and industry insiders about everything from serial killers to series fiction kicking off with an examination of supernatural crime crossovers with Sarah Pinborough and Alex North entitled, Anything Can Happen.

Victoria says: ‘I’m thrilled to be joining Barry and Paul on Crime Time FM and can’t wait to explore the huge breadth of themes within crime fiction alongside such an exciting array of guests.’

On the Sofa with Victoria will launch on 15th June. Crime Time FM currently features one on one author interviews with Paul Burke (In Person with Paul) and film and TV reviews with Barry Forshaw (Barry’s Blu-rays).

The trio of hosts will also be getting together on a regular basis for chats about book news, discussions of upcoming events and reviews.

Fancy a sneak peak of today’s episode, Anything Can Happen (Supernatural Crime Crossovers)? Of course you do…

ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN- Sarah Pinborough (BEHIND HER EYES) & Alex North (THE WHISPER MAN) discuss supernatural crime crossovers, Scooby Doo and ‘that’ ending.

On the Easy Fix Charge
Sarah Pinborough: Supernatural crime crossovers have to have the rules and beats of a crime novel. You have to have the clues. You can’t just pull it out of the bag.

Sarah Pinborough: If you’re going to blend your genres, you have to decide which is the dominant genre.

Alex North: Just because a book has supernatural elements, that doesn’t mean anything goes. It just means it has a slightly different set of rules.

On the Evolution of the Crossover
Alex North: Serial killers are a stand-in for vampires.

Alex North: Scooby Doo was about unmasking the monster but there was always something rational going on.

On Alex’s Books
Sarah Pinborough: The supernatural in Alex’s books is like a splash of Tabasco in a Bloody Mary. It’s there to add a little bit of ‘extra’ but it’s not the vodka.

I cannot wait to listen to this new series on Crime Time FM and I hope you feel the same. Head on over to your favourite podcast outlet to download!

#BookReview: All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford #AllThesePerfectStrangers #damppebbles

“You don’t have to believe in ghosts for the dead to haunt you. You don’t have to be a murderer to be guilty….

‘This is about three deaths. Actually more, if you go back far enough. I say deaths, but perhaps all of them were murders. It’s a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So let’s just call them deaths and say I was involved. This story could be told a hundred different ways.’

For Penelope Sheppard, university offers an escape from her troubled past. Running from a life weighed down with scandal and tragedy, Pen sees this as the ideal place to reinvent herself among perfect strangers. Life in her new halls of residence feels like a wonderland of sex, drugs, and maybe even love. But all too soon Pen realises you never can run far or fast enough. And when Pen’s secrets are revealed, the consequences are deadly….

Little by little, through Pen’s flawed narration and tantalising diary entries, secrets, truths and lies come to light, and a dangerous dilemma unfolds, twisting and turning until the very last page.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford. All These Perfect Strangers was published by Simon & Schuster in paperback, audio and digital formats on 25th August 2016.

If you’ve been following my blog for some time and you have a very VERY good memory you may remember my husband’s brilliant Christmas gift to me several years ago. All These Perfect Strangers was one of the books Ryan chose and I’ve been keen to make a start on it.

Penelope Sheppard has secured a bursary at Scullin College against the odds. Several years earlier she was present when a police officer was shot and killed. The small town she lives in hates her and has never forgiven the crime, particularly the family of the accused – Pen’s best friend Tracey. But Scullin is a fresh start with new people. Pen can blend in and only reveal what she chooses to her new friends. But the past has a habit of catching up with you and before long, someone else is aware of what happened to Pen all those years ago…

I never used to be a fan of the unreliable narrator but that’s changed over the years and oh my gosh, All These Perfect Strangers does it so well. From the start, you can’t be sure what Pen is telling you is true or a twisted version of the truth. Parts of the story are told via diary entries which Pen is instructed to keep by her psychiatrist, Frank. But Pen wants to keep the truth close to her chest so ‘edits’ events accordingly in their reading. Due to the structure of the book I was never sure if I was reading fact or Pen’s fiction which really helped add to the suspense.

All These Perfect Strangers is a tale of secrets and lies, of guilt and blame. It’s structure was a little confusing at times as there are three distinct periods of time covered by the author and I found myself unsure which time period I was in . As I began each chapter, I was on the lookout for a character or a location to confirm where in Pen’s history I was, which I found a little distracting. The flashbacks to the shooting and preceding events are clear but the other two time slots; Pen at university and Pen at home following the events at Scullin, weren’t as obvious.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. All These Perfect Strangers is a compelling book which I really enjoyed. A twisty tale chock full of secrets, lies and deceit and a very well-written unreliable narrator. The more I got to know Pen, the more I liked her. By the end of the book, I was 100% on her side. I loved the Australian setting, I really enjoyed that the book was set in the late 80s. All in all, a great debut which I recommend.

All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 25th 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Aoife Clifford is the author of the novel All These Perfect Strangers, published in Australia and the United Kingdom by Simon & Schuster and by Penguin Random House in the United States.

Born in London of Irish parents, she grew up in New South Wales, studied Arts/Law at the Australian National University, Canberra and now lives in Melbourne.

Aoife has won two premier short story prizes for crime fiction in Australia – the Scarlet Stiletto (2007) and the S.D. Harvey Ned Kelly Award in 2012, among other prizes. She has also been short listed for the UK Crime Association’s Debut Dagger. In 2014 she was awarded an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for her novel, All These Perfect Strangers.

#BookReview: Falling by T.J. Newman @simonschusterUK #Falling #damppebbles

“You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Falling by T.J. Newman. Falling is published by Simon & Schuster today (that’s Thursday 10th June 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Falling but that has in no way influenced my review.

Woah! I mean, WOAH! What a book! I’ve discovered in recent years that I’m a huge fan of novels which feature a disaster at their heart. I have a particular love of plane-based hostage situations. Stranded at 30,000 feet, there’s no escape and someone else is pulling the very delicate strings. One wrong move and….BOOM! So much so, Falling is the first of three flight-based thrillers I’m featuring on damppebbles this month. And it’s by far the best. I didn’t want to be separated from this book for a single second.

Captain Bill Hoffman boards flight CA416 to New York with a heavy heart. He knows he’s in trouble with his wife, when he left the house things were strained between them but for Bill, it’s impossible to say no to the Chief Pilot. Missing his son’s Little League opener is something he’ll have to come to terms with. Despite the tension at home, it’s another normal day for Bill. Nothing out of the ordinary. Until he receives a devastating message. His family have been taken hostage. In order for them to live, Bill must crash the plane killing everyone on board. Bill has an impossible decision to make and the clock is ticking…

Falling is a superb debut. Tense, scarily real and absolutely relentless. The book starts with a bang. The author throws the reader straight into the deep end. You have no idea what came before but you have a fair idea of what’s coming next. By far, the best opener to a book I’ve read in a long, long time. Although the action does grind down a gear or two after our initial introduction to Bill, the tension remains ever present. As the situation the crew are in becomes clear, as the pressure mounts, the book builds to a heart-stopping climax. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I was living and breathing this book alongside the characters. Totally believable, completely engrossing and the ultimate thrill-ride.

As an ex-flight attendant the author has used her extensive knowledge (and a little artistic flair!) to create a pulse-pounding reading experience which I loved. I felt fully invested in the characters. Strong, capable Bill who everyone believes will do the right thing (whatever that is!), the fearless cabin crew who not only have a flight full of anxious, scared passengers to deal with but also the promise of the hijackers ‘back-up plan’. And not forgetting Bill’s family, his wife, Carrie, who has a suicide vest strapped to her but still manages to remain outwardly calm and in control for the sake of her two children – 10 year old Scott and baby, Elise. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of and I loved every heart in my mouth second.

Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would, yes. If you’re looking for a thrilling, high concept, intense and all-consuming read then make sure you get yourself a copy of Falling. It’s true, I won’t be stepping foot on a plane anytime soon but don’t let that stop you 😂! Highly, highly entertaining. I was completely captivated from that blisteringly good start to the heart-stopping, ‘read behind your hands’ end. A definite contender for my ‘books of the year’ list without a doubt. Shedloads of suspense, a fast and pacey plot and a cast of characters I felt fully invested in. Sublime! Highly recommended.

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

Falling by T.J. Newman was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 10th June 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 |

T.J. NewmanT. J. Newman, a former bookseller turned flight attendant, worked for Virgin America and Alaska Airlines from 2011 to 2021. FALLING is her first novel.

WWW Wednesday | 9th June 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 Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized—someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Forevers by Chris Whitaker
What would you do if you knew the world was going to be destroyed by a huge asteroid in one month? The mesmerising YA debut from acclaimed crime writer and New York Times Bestselling author of We Begin at the End.

They knew the end was coming. They saw it ten years back, when it was far enough away in space and time and meaning.
The changes were gradual, and then sudden.

For Mae and her friends, it means navigating a life where action and consequence are no longer related. Where the popular are both trophies and targets. And where petty grudges turn deadlier with each passing day. So, did Abi Manton jump off the cliff or was she pushed? Her death is just the beginning of the end.

With teachers losing control of their students and themselves, and the end rushing toward all of them, it leaves everyone facing the answer to one, simple question…

What would you do if you could get away with anything?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams
What if your mother had been writing to a serial killer?

A convicted murderer with a story to tell

Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.

A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth

Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.

A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.

If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster.

#GuestReview: Black Rose (Larkin’s Barkin #1) by Pete Adams @Peteadams8 @NextChapterPB @cobaltdinosaur #BlackRose #damppebbles

“Existence is about survival.

A continually bullied runt of a youngster, Chas Larkin discovers his chutzpah and decides to take on the London gangs.

In the sleazy and violent East End of 1966 London, he is unwittingly assisted by Scotland Yard and MI5, who use the boy to delay an IRA campaign in the city. Together with the mysterious DCI Casey, an enigma amongst the bomb-damaged slums, they stir the pot of fermenting disquiet.

But can Chas achieve his midsummer night’s dream of total revenge?

Black Rose is a story of matriarchal might, of superstition, of a lucky charm tainted with malevolent juju, and of a young man’s smoldering anger and thirst for retribution.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I’m handing the blog over to my guest reviewer, Ryan, who is going to share his thoughts on Black Rose: A Midsummer Night’s Chutzpah (Larkin’s Barkin #1) by Pete Adams. Black Rose was published by Gumshoe on 31st January 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats. Ryan chose to read and review a free eARC of Black Rose which has in no way influenced his review.

Over to Ryan…

Pete Adams, fresh from the enjoyable Kind Hearts and Martinets and DaDa Detective Agency series, has turned his attention to the London of the mid 60’s. In this new environment, Adams has created two families at war for generations, but who own pubs next to each other and are both nervously watching a new family try to establish dominance on their patch. We meet a new police officer, DCI Casey, who appears in the local nick with his eyes on a potential local tie to the IRA and at the heart of it all is Chas Larkin.  Young, limping, angry and waiting for a chance of vengeance. All the ingredients for a fantastic crime thriller with characters and humour that will keep you smiling long after you’ve finished the story.

Given this synopsis there are two ways in which an author can take this story. Some would create a dark, gritty thriller filled with suspense, double crossing and grim faces. Pete Adams is not that author! Pete creates wild characters filled with eccentricity and life who bounce off the page. He then puts them in situations which can appear gently surreal whilst building a top class plot around the whole package.  If you are after pure escapism of the highest class this is a great book for you.

Black Rose, whilst the start of a new series, delivers as a standalone. The two main protagonists we follow throughout the book are the mysterious DCI Casey from Ireland who is on a zealous mission to stop the IRA carrying out atrocities in the heart of London by stopping the flow of funding and weapons. And Chas Larkin, seen as the local invalid, unloved and unwatched as he plans and schemes with the enigmatic Roisin Dubh – the Black Rose. A blur of energy, which seems to consistently lead to death and explosions, the Black Rose is the Devil on Chas’s shoulder, but what does she really want?

I loved this new novel from Pete Adams. It was the ‘pick me up’ read I needed and demonstrates that it is possible to bring together satirical characters, humorous scenarios and excellent plotting. The whole book will leave you wanting more, whether that is the next book in the Larkin’s Barkin series or one of Adams’s other series then that is up to you and your Kindle!  Highly recommended.

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

Black Rose: A Midsummers Night’s Chutzpah (Larkin’s Barkin #1) by Pete Adams was published in the UK by Gumshoe on 31st January 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.comWaterstonesGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Pete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book, and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some eight years ago, and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his tenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales.

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.

Pete lives in Southsea with his partner, and Charlie the star-struck Border terrier, the children having flown the coop, and has 3 beautiful granddaughters who will play with him so long as he promises not to be silly.