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.

WWW Wednesday | 21st 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?

You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll
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.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Wild Girls by Phoebe Morgan
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.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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.

#BookReview: Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton #ThreeHours #damppebbles

“THREE HOURS TO SAVE THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege.

Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news.

In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton. Three Hours was published by Penguin Books on 29th October 2020 and is available in all formats. I couldn’t resist this book after seeing so many wonderful reviews.

However, I have been umming and ahhring about writing my review. Why? Because Three Hours absolutely broke me. Never has a book had such a powerful effect on me. It’s a sublime read but utterly devastating. I loved it but it ended up changing my mood.  It made me terribly sad and I hugged my kids just that little bit tighter because of it. Three Hours will stay with me forever.

On a snowy December day, oblivious to what is about to happen, the parents of Cliff Heights School drop their children off believing it to be just like any other school day. Only an hour later, the children start texting and tweeting their parents. There’s a gunman in the school. They’re terrified and hiding for their lives. The parents rush to the school but they’re turned away by the police, they feel helpless and can only watch from afar. The clock is ticking…

I’ve never read such a tense, compelling novel before. My heart was in my mouth from the very start and it stayed there throughout. I was living and breathing the story alongside the characters, like a movie playing in my mind. And the terror felt real. It was insane how deeply this book burrowed its way into my being. It was such an intense, emotional experience reading Three Hours.

I felt there were two sides to this story. You have the human side; the kids and teachers trapped in the school in fear for their lives, the parents being kept at a distance whilst being utterly helpless. And then you have the technical side; the police analysing every move the gunman makes, trying to pre-empt any demands and the reasons for carrying out such a horrific act. I loved the juxtaposition of these two faces – emotional versus technical and scientific. It’s a true race against time and I was on the edge of my seat throughout.

I had a feeling I knew where one of the plotlines in the book was heading but it still broke my heart into a million pieces when the truth was revealed. The author has written such an immersive, current and hypnotic novel. The bravery shown by the kids, the resilience and determination shown by the teachers, and the heartbreak shown by the parents makes for absorbing reading.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Reading Three Hours was such an experience for me that it will be impossible to forget. Beautifully written, full of drama and shedloads of terror-filled suspense. I devoured the book. It affected me greatly. Recommended.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton was published by Penguin Books on 29th October 2020 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.uk | WaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Rosamund Lupton is the author of four novels.

Rosamund Lupton graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. After reviewing books for the Literary Review and being invited to join the Royal Court Theatre, she won a television play competition and subsequently worked as a screen writer. Her debut novel Sister, was a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, has been translated into over thirty languages and has international sales of over 1.5 million copies. It was the fastest-selling debut of 2010 by a British author, and was winner of the Richard and Judy Best Debut Novel of 2011 Award and the Strand Magazine Critics First Novel Award. Film rights of Sister are currently under option.

Lupton’s critically acclaimed second novel Afterwards also went straight into the Sunday Times bestseller lists and was the No. 2 Sunday Times fiction bestseller of 2011. The Quality of Silence her third novel was a Sunday Times best seller and a Richard & Judy bookclub pick

Her new novel Three Hours is a Sunday Times top ten best seller and a best book of 2020 in the Sunday Times, the Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Stylist, Red & Good Housekeeping. It’s a Times and Sunday Times thriller of the month.

#BookReview: The Last Girl by Goldy Moldavsky @EMTeenFiction #TheLastGirl #damppebbles

“Scream meets Gossip Girl with a dash of One of Us is Lying!

When it comes to horror movies, the rules are clear:
– Avoid abandoned buildings, warehouses, and cabins at all times.
– Stay together: don’t split up, not even just to “check something out.…
– If there’s a murderer on the loose, do NOT make out with anyone …

New girl Rachel Chavez turns to horror movies for comfort, preferring them to the bored rich kids of her fancy New York High School. But then Rachel is recruited by the Mary Shelley Club, a mysterious student club that sets up terrifying Fear Tests; elaborate pranks inspired by urban legends and horror movies.

But when a sinister masked figure appears, Rachel realises that her past has caught up with her. It’s time for the ultimate prank to play out …”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Last Girl by Goldy Moldavsky. The Last Girl was published by Electric Monkey yesterday (that’s Thursday 15th April 2021) and is available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Last Girl but that has in no way influenced my review.

Everything about this book called to me. I’m a huge fan of the Final Girl trope and like to dabble in the odd spot of horror fiction every now and again (OK, it’s fairly often!). So as soon as I saw that fabulous blood splattered, yellow cover and read the blurb, I knew I had to read The Last Girl. Yes, I may be a smidge out of the books YA age range but so flippin’ what! I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining homage to horror movies.

Rachel Chavez has a secret. Something terrifying happened to her and she lives with the trauma and the memories every day. Turning to horror movies for comfort she struggles to come to terms with what she did that fateful night one year ago. Following a move from Long Island to an exclusive private school in Manhattan, Rachel struggles to adjust to her new surroundings. There’s no denying it, she’s the new girl at school and just doesn’t fit in. She is neither privileged nor popular and only there because her mother is on the staff. But she finds a friend in Saundra who is determined to help her get to know a few people and drags Rachel unwittingly along to every party going. At one such party Rachel sees something she perhaps shouldn’t and is introduced to The Mary Shelley Club: a group of ill-fitting teens who like to watch horror movies and test whether the horror tropes they love so much can actually play out in real life by staging dramatic and terrifying pranks they like to call Fear Tests. But it soon becomes clear that Rachel can’t run from her past….

If you’re a horror movie fan this is a must read! You will love the references and the discussions which take place between the characters. I’ve seen the grand total of zero horror movies [I kid you not! I was present once in the room when Scream played out on the TV – there was another teen slasher about Valentine’s Day too but I can’t remember what that was called!] and I absolutely devoured it. I may not have seen the movies but I’m familiar with many of the characters and what happens in the more popular films. For the more obscure references Google was my friend!

The Last Girl is a terrific book. It didn’t take me long to warm to Rachel who I thought, despite what she had gone through (and her rather intense horror movie obsession), was a pretty normal, likeable kid. The other characters in the book are all very well drawn, particularly the members of the Mary Shelley Club – Felicity, Freddie, Bram & Thayer – who all had their own strong, identifiable personalities and idiosyncrasies. Some of the kids were popular, others weren’t. Some were at the school as part of a scholarship, others were there because Mummy and Daddy were part of the New York elite. Despite being quite tightknit during meetings, outside they pretended not to know each other and I really liked that. It added to the whole mystical exclusive club vibe the author does so well. The themes of ‘fitting in’ and feeling the need to belong run strong through this novel. As someone who perhaps didn’t always fit, I felt I could relate to Rachel’s awkwardness at times.

However, I have to say as a responsible, *ahem* mature adult, the idea of the Mary Shelley Club is a terrible one (bloody marvellous as a piece of fiction – truly terrible in real life). But I couldn’t help but enjoy every moment of it which probably makes me an awful human being! I loved seeing how the club re-enacted the popular tropes. The effort they put in to their ‘pranks’ was true dedication to the cause.  I’m a keen amateur sleuth – regular readers of damppebbles may already know this – but this is the first book in a while where I’ve not set out to find out ‘whodunit’. I just went with the flow of the story without trying to second guess what was going to happen next and why. And I loved where this novel took me. Whilst the big reveal didn’t come as a huge surprise there were aspects of it which I found quite shocking. I don’t think I’m quite over it yet!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Last Girl was a thoroughly entertaining read. I was expecting a full-on teen slasher but what I got was a clever mystery laden with great horror movie references featuring a group of teens I actually started to care about, despite their obsession with fear and their insatiable need to terrorise people. A well-written page turner. A story that stuck its meat hooks into me from early on and kept me riveted from start to finish. I would happily read more from this author and will be on the look out for future releases. Recommended

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

The Last Girl (aka as The Mary Shelley Club) by Goldy Moldavsky was published in the UK by Electric Monkey on 15th 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsthe damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Goldy Moldavsky was born in Lima, Peru, and grew up in Brooklyn, where she still lives. Her novels include the New York Times bestseller, KILL THE BOY BAND, NO GOOD DEED, and the upcoming THE MARY SHELLEY CLUB (Henry Holt Books, 2021); her love of 80s movies, 90s boy bands, and horror flicks hugely influences her work. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @goldywrites.