WWW Wednesday | 8th February 2023 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #BookTwitter #booktwt #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. 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 Wilderness Retreat by Jennifer Moore
As Bella drops her son off at university, she’s devastated. It’s been the two of them ever since Asher was born. The only thing helping her through is an upcoming week-long wilderness retreat in Sweden, a surprise gift from her sister and Asher.

The lodge is modern and luxurious – but the surrounding forest is foreboding. Named Dead Man’s Forest after the legend of a local bandit left to die inside a wooden coffin, there are rumours that, on quiet nights, you can still hear the scratching of his fingernails against the lid.

When someone begins leaving unsettling notes, and a figure from her past comes back to haunt her, Bella’s unease grows. This certainly isn’t the restful retreat she signed up for. And when another guest suddenly disappears, Bella fears she might not make it home alive…

Don’t miss this gripping psychological thriller about a blissful holiday that turns into a nightmare, perfect for fans of The Sanatorium and The Guest List.


What did you recently finish reading?

The Last Orphan by Gregg Hurwitz
As a child, Evan Smoak was plucked out of a group home, raised and trained as an off-the-books assassin for the government as part of the Orphan program. When he broke with the program and went deep underground, he left with a lot of secrets in his head that the government would do anything to make sure never got out.

When he remade himself as The Nowhere Man, dedicated to helping the most desperate in their times of trouble, Evan found himself slowly back on the government’s radar. Having eliminated most of the Orphans in the program, the government will stop at nothing to eliminate the threat they see in Evan. But Orphan X has always been several steps ahead of his pursuers.

Until he makes one little mistake…

Now the President has him in her control and offers Evan a deal – eliminate a rich, powerful man she says is too dangerous to live and, in turn, she’ll let Evan survive. But when Evan left the Program he swore to only use his skills against those who really deserve it. Now he has to decide what’s more important – his principles or his life.


What do you think you’ll read next?

Freeze by Kate Simants
ON THE TOUGHEST REALITY SHOW ON TELEVISION
A KILLER IS HIDING OUT OF SHOT

Frozen Out is set to be a TV sensation. On a small ship off the coast of Greenland, eight contestants will push themselves to breaking point for a £100,000 prize.

The show is Tori Matsuka’s baby. After years working her way up the ladder, she’s finally launching her own production company with Frozen Out, and the late nights, the debts, the strain on her relationship will all be worthwhile. Everything is riding on the next twelve days. For camerawoman Dee, it’s a chance to start again after the tragedy that tanked her undercover journalism career. Not even Tori, her oldest friend, knows the full truth of why Dee left her previous job, and she plans to keep it that way.

But as errors and mishaps mount on set, tempers among the cast and crew start to fray. And when one of the contestants is found dead, only Dee realises the death wasn’t natural – and from what she’s seen from behind the camera, it won’t be the last. As the Arctic ice closes in around them and all chance of escape is cut off, it becomes clear that although the world outside wants them dead, it’s the secrets inside the ship that might cost them their lives.

Packed with suspense from the first page to the last, Freeze is a must-read for fans of Shiver, The Sanatorium and One By One. This thriller isn’t just chilling: it’s sub-zero.

#BookReview: Exiles by Jane Harper @panmacmillan #Exiles #damppebbles

“A mother disappears from a busy festival on a warm spring night.

Her baby lies alone in the pram, her mother’s possessions surrounding her, waiting for a return which never comes.

A year later, Kim Gillespie’s absence still casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather to welcome a new addition to the family.

Joining the celebrations on a rare break from work is federal investigator Aaron Falk, who begins to suspect that all is not as it seems.

As he looks into Kim’s case, long-held secrets and resentments begin to come to the fore, secrets that show that her community is not as close as it appears.

Falk will have to tread carefully if he is to expose the dark fractures at its heart, but sometimes it takes an outsider to get to the truth. . .

An outstanding novel, a brilliant mystery and a heart-pounding read from the author of The DryForce of NatureThe Lost Man and The Survivors.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Exiles by Jane Harper. Exiles was published yesterday (that’s Thursday 2nd February 2023) by Macmillan and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read a free eARC of Exiles but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am the BIGGEST fan of Australian crime fiction. If you’re a regular visitor to the blog then that may not come as much of a surprise to you. I try to prioritise Aussie crime fiction above everything else and read as much as humanly possible, because it’s become a bit of a passion (obsession?!) for me. What started me on my journey, waaaay back in 2017, was picking up a copy of The Dry, the first book in the Aaron Falk series by Jane Harper. From there on in, I was officially hooked. Harper’s latest release is the long awaited third book in the superb Aaron Falk series. I had been so looking forward to meeting up with Falk again that I felt a little apprehensive starting Exiles. But there was no need to worry. Exiles is literary perfection from start to finish and I loved every single moment I spent in the Marralee Valley.

Kim Gillespie tragically disappeared on the opening night of the Marralee Valley Annual Food and Wine Festival, leaving her young baby, Zoe, alone and unattended in her pram. Now, one year later, and with the shadow of Kim’s disappearance still hanging over the small community, Aaron Falk has arrived in the Valley to join Kim’s friends and family as they welcome a new addition to the family. Falk has finally managed to get a much deserved break from the AFP’s Financial Division but despite being on leave, his interest is piqued by Kim’s story.  The more he digs into what happened that day, the more confusing things become. Witness statements are muddled, sightings don’t quite ring true and those closest to Kim aren’t telling the whole truth. It’s down to Falk to peel back the layers of this small community and discover the secrets they’re desperate to keep hidden…

Exiles is an utterly compelling, completely engrossing mystery which delivers on every count. Harper creates the most beautifully drawn, believable characters who are thoroughly engaging and pull the reader into their world. You live each and every moment alongside them and for a fan of character-driven novels (that’s me!), it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. Add to the superb characterisation the compelling mystery which has you questioning everyone you meet along the way, plus Harper’s incredibly vivid, almost dreamy setting and you have a top notch mystery novel from the Queen of rural Australian crime. It was such a joy to be reunited with Falk again after the previous two books. There’s something so eminently likable about him and I enjoyed seeing him in a much more relaxed environment. This is the third and final book in this trilogy and the author has ended Falk’s journey on the most perfect note. A very satisfying conclusion to a must-read set of books.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would definitely recommend Exiles plus the earlier books in the series – The Dry and Force of Nature (not forgetting the two standalone non-Falk novels – The Lost Man and The Survivors, which are also excellent) to all mystery fans. Harper’s writing is exquisite, her characters are a masterpiece and the way she tells a story is captivating from the first word to the last. The mystery unfolds at a gentle pace, tension building throughout the book until you reach the startling conclusion. A highly entertaining, thoroughly immersive read which I devoured with utter glee. Jane Harper remains one of my favourite authors and if you haven’t discovered her books yet then I urge you to change that as soon as you can. Perfection on a page! Highly recommended.

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

Exiles by Jane Harper was published in the UK by Macmillan on 2nd February 2023 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (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 shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Jane Harper is the international bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man.

Jane is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year.

Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with The Dry in production as a major motion picture starring Eric Bana.
Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

WWW Wednesday | 1st February 2023 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #BookTwitter #booktwt #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. 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 Last Orphan by Gregg Hurwitz
As a child, Evan Smoak was plucked out of a group home, raised and trained as an off-the-books assassin for the government as part of the Orphan program. When he broke with the program and went deep underground, he left with a lot of secrets in his head that the government would do anything to make sure never got out.

When he remade himself as The Nowhere Man, dedicated to helping the most desperate in their times of trouble, Evan found himself slowly back on the government’s radar. Having eliminated most of the Orphans in the program, the government will stop at nothing to eliminate the threat they see in Evan. But Orphan X has always been several steps ahead of his pursuers.

Until he makes one little mistake…

Now the President has him in her control and offers Evan a deal – eliminate a rich, powerful man she says is too dangerous to live and, in turn, she’ll let Evan survive. But when Evan left the Program he swore to only use his skills against those who really deserve it. Now he has to decide what’s more important – his principles or his life.


What did you recently finish reading?

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones
Jade Daniels faces down a brutal serial killer in his pulse-punding tribute to the golden era of horror cinema and Friday the 13th from the New York Times-bestselling, multiple-award winning Jones.

Four years after her tumultuous senior year, Jade Daniels is released from prison right before Christmas when her conviction is overturned. But life beyond bars takes a dangerous turn as soon as she returns to Proofrock. Convicted Serial Killer, Dark Mill South, seeking revenge for thirty-eight Dakota men hanged in 1862, escapes from his prison transfer due to a blizzard, just outside of Proofrock, Idaho.

Dark Mill South’s Reunion Tour began on December 12th, 2019, a Thursday.

Thirty-six hours and twenty bodies later, on Friday the 13th, it would be over.

Don’t Fear the Reaper is the page-turning sequel to My Heart Is a Chainsaw from New York Times bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones.


What do you think you’ll read next?

The Wilderness Retreat by Jennifer Moore
As Bella drops her son off at university, she’s devastated. It’s been the two of them ever since Asher was born. The only thing helping her through is an upcoming week-long wilderness retreat in Sweden, a surprise gift from her sister and Asher.

The lodge is modern and luxurious – but the surrounding forest is foreboding. Named Dead Man’s Forest after the legend of a local bandit left to die inside a wooden coffin, there are rumours that, on quiet nights, you can still hear the scratching of his fingernails against the lid.

When someone begins leaving unsettling notes, and a figure from her past comes back to haunt her, Bella’s unease grows. This certainly isn’t the restful retreat she signed up for. And when another guest suddenly disappears, Bella fears she might not make it home alive…

Don’t miss this gripping psychological thriller about a blissful holiday that turns into a nightmare, perfect for fans of The Sanatorium and The Guest List.

#BookReview: Kill Creek by Scott Thomas #KillCreek #damppebbles

“At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, is the Finch House. For years it has remained empty, overgrown, abandoned. Soon the door will be opened for the first time in decades. But something is waiting, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests…

When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt will become a fight for survival. The entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them a part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Kill Creek by Scott Thomas. Kill Creek was published by Inkshares on 31st October 2017 and is available in paperback and audio formats.

Regular readers of the blog may be aware that as well as being a crime fiction fan I also love horror fiction. I tend to lean towards slasher horror but to be honest, if it’s creepy and dark there’s a good chance I’ll want to read it. Which is why when Kill Creek came onto my radar I ordered a copy straight away. There was just something about the synopsis which really appealed to me.

Sam McGarver is starting to get stressed. His agent and his publisher are putting the pressure on for his latest manuscript but if truth be told, he’s got nothing. He feels his career is floundering and he’s having to supplement his income with a teaching job. That’s when he receives a mysterious message from someone calling themselves only Wainwright. Wainwright is a content creator and owner of WrightWire, an online video streaming platform. He wants to interview Sam live on air, which is nothing new. Sam is an established horror writer with a large fan base. He receives similar requests all the time. But Wainwright wants to conduct the interview at Kill Creek, a notorious abandoned – many would say haunted – house in Kansas on Halloween night. Sam reluctantly agrees to the interview only to discover that he is not alone. Joining the party are three other famous horror writers, all with very different styles. But what on the surface looks like a cheap publicity stunt turns into something much more terrifying…

The first thing to say about Kill Creek is that, as far as I can tell, it doesn’t seem to be available in digital format so I purchased and read the paperback copy. Not something I would normally pass comment on but the paperback really is quite special in its design with cover flaps and deckled edges. I think I’ve only ever been tempted once before to mention the quality production of a novel so that singled the book out immediately.

I really liked Sam from the moment I met him. I could tell that there were secrets there, he had a dark edge to his character, which the reader isn’t made party to until much later in the book. But he came across as a nice guy, struggling with writer’s block whilst watching his marriage crumble. From very early on, I wanted Sam to succeed. I really enjoyed how the author has brought together four writers of modern day horror but they’re all so completely different in approach and character. T.C. Moore, who the reader also gets to know fairly well, writes erotic, shock-filled horror. I wanted to like her as the only female writer in the group but it was tough. However, saying that, I do believe and often say that you don’t need to like the characters in a book to enjoy their story. The other two writers I found myself comparing to actual, real life writers. I couldn’t stop myself! Daniel Slaughter writes teen horror and Sebastian Cole is the grand master of modern day horror. I wonder if you came up with the same two names there as I did! 🤭

The plot is well paced with enough intrigue to keep the reader fully in the story and reading into the small hours. In the second half of the book things really ramp up and I found myself on the edge of my seat. I felt a connection with the four authors by this point so when things start to go very wrong for them, I felt it. I wanted them to make it out alive, whether they do or not is something you’ll have to find out for yourself!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Kill Creek is an intriguing tale full of menace and suspense which I enjoyed. Fictional stories about books or writers seem to really appeal to me so I’m very glad I gave this book a go. I did find the way the author labels two of the characters a little jarring and repetitive at times (Sebastian is ‘old’, Daniel is ‘fat’) and some of the descriptions of T.C. made me feel quite uncomfortable (yes, she’s an erotic fiction writer and yes, she is not a prude by ANY stretch of the imagination but it was just a little too cringey in places). However, I did enjoy Kill Creek and would recommend it to fellow horror fans.

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas was published in the UK by Inkshares on 31st October 2017 and is available in paperback and audio 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 DepositoryGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Scott ThomasScott Thomas is the Stoker-nominated author of Kill Creek, which was selected by the American Library Association’s reader committee as the top horror book of 2017. Originally from Coffeyville, Kansas, Scott attended the University of Kansas where he earned degrees in English and Film. He has written TV movies and teleplays for various networks including Netflix, Syfy, MTV, VH1, the CW, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and ABC family. Scott was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for his work on R.L. Stein’s The Haunting Hour. He lives in Sherman Oaks, California with his wife and two daughters. Violet is his second novel.

#BookReview: The July Girls by Phoebe Locke @Wildfirebks #TheJulyGirls #damppebbles

“Every year, on the same night, another girl disappears without a trace.

Lex’s wife is missing.

She left for work the morning of a terror attack in London, and no one’s seen her since. Was Olivia among the victims or did she meet a different fate?

Addie has a secret.

That same day, her dad came home covered in blood. Addie thought he’d been hurt in the attacks, but her sister Jessie found the missing woman’s purse in his room.

Jessie says she wants to help.

She takes a job as a nanny at Lex’s house, looking after his baby. But she’s not telling him the truth. And she’s getting a little too comfortable living Olivia’s life…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The July Girls by Phoebe Locke. The July Girls was published by Wildfire Books on 25th June 2020 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The July Girls but that has in no way influenced my review.

There was so much buzz around The July Girls when it was first published in hardcover back in 2019. I remember seeing a number of brilliant reviews from fellow bloggers, all encouraging me to read this book. So when I had a short break in my planned reading schedule I made a point of picking it up. And I’m so glad I did.

Ten-year-old Addie lives with her older sister, Jessie, and her dad in a rundown flat in Brixton. Life is tough. Their dad is never home and when he is, he’s usually in a foul mood. But Addie and Jessie have each other. The bond between the two sisters is strong, Addie worships her sibling. But Addie has a secret. On the same day terrorists detonated bombs across London their dad, Paul, came home covered in blood. She thought at first he’d been hurt in the attacks but other things don’t quite add up. Wracked with worry, she tells Jessie, and the girls search Paul’s room only to find a woman’s purse hidden away in a cubbyhole behind Paul’s bed. What happened to Olivia? Was she a victim of the 7/7 attacks? Or is she the latest victim of killer and serial abductor Magpie…?

The July Girls is a very readable, gritty tale of secrets and lies. I do enjoy the odd serial killer thriller but this is a completely different take on things, seen from a different angle and taken in a different direction which I enjoyed. Addie is a superb character who we meet for the first time days before her 10th birthday. Jessie promises an evening of pizza and ice cream which Addie is of course excited about, but then the 7/7 terrorist attacks hit London and everything changes. My heart broke for Addie as she wandered the streets of London alone, seeing the impact the bombs had on her community. During this time she’s unable to contact Jessie, she’s lost and alone, and her fear is palpable. These heart wrenching scenes really drew me into the story and connected me to the character. I so desperately wanted to help her, wrap her up in a hug and look after her.

I really enjoyed the way the author has written Addie’s character over the years, growing and changing as time marches on. Her behaviour, her emotions, her outlook and her dialogue all mature with her over a nine year period which I thought was very well done. What I loved most about this book though was that it wasn’t at all predictable. Everything about it felt spontaneous and surprising. The end reveal knocked me for six and I certainly did not see it coming!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The July Girls is a gripping story full of menace and suspense which kept me reading all day long. I loved the originality of this novel, along with how unpredictable I found it. I thought the story was intricately plotted and beautifully considered. This is the first book by this author I have read but it certainly won’t be the last. I will definitely be making a point of purchasing the author’s debut thriller The Tall Man as I really connected with Locke’s writing style. All in all, an excellent thriller which I recommend.

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

The July Girls by Phoebe Locke was published in the UK by Wildfire Books on 25th June 2020 and is available in hardcover, 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 |

Phoebe LockePhoebe Locke is a full-time writer, part-time doer of odd jobs. These jobs have included Christmas Elf, cocktail waitress, and childminder. Her first novel (written as Nicci Cloke), Someday Find Me, was published in 2012 and her second, Lay Me Down, in 2015. She has also written three novels for young adults: Follow Me Back (2016), Close Your Eyes (2017) and Toxic (2018).

She lives and writes in Cambridgeshire, and her debut psychological thriller is The Tall Man.

WWW Wednesday | 25th January 2023 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #BookTwitter #booktwt #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. 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?

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones
Jade Daniels faces down a brutal serial killer in his pulse-punding tribute to the golden era of horror cinema and Friday the 13th from the New York Times-bestselling, multiple-award winning Jones.

Four years after her tumultuous senior year, Jade Daniels is released from prison right before Christmas when her conviction is overturned. But life beyond bars takes a dangerous turn as soon as she returns to Proofrock. Convicted Serial Killer, Dark Mill South, seeking revenge for thirty-eight Dakota men hanged in 1862, escapes from his prison transfer due to a blizzard, just outside of Proofrock, Idaho.

Dark Mill South’s Reunion Tour began on December 12th, 2019, a Thursday.

Thirty-six hours and twenty bodies later, on Friday the 13th, it would be over.

Don’t Fear the Reaper is the page-turning sequel to My Heart Is a Chainsaw from New York Times bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones.


What did you recently finish reading?

Make Me Clean by Tina Baker
She will leave your surfaces sparkling.
But she may well leave you dead…

Maria is a good woman and a good cleaner. She cleans for Elsie, the funny old bird who’s losing her marbles, with the terrible husband. She cleans for Brian, the sweet man with the terrible boss. She cleans for the mysterious Mr Balogan, with the terrible neighbours.

If you’re thinking of hiring her, you should probably know that Maria might have killed the terrible husband, the terrible boss and the terrible neighbours. She may also have murdered the man she loved.

She didn’t set out to kill anyone, of course, but her clients have hired her to clean up their lives, and she takes her job seriously – not to mention how much happier they all are now. The trouble is, murder can’t be washed out. You can only sweep it under the carpet, and pray no one looks too closely…

Darkly funny and completely gripping from the first page to the last, Make Me Clean is one thriller you won’t be able to scrub from your mind. Perfect for fans of Harriet Tyce, Fiona Cummins and My Sister the Serial Killer.


What do you think you’ll read next?

The Last Orphan by Gregg Hurwitz
As a child, Evan Smoak was plucked out of a group home, raised and trained as an off-the-books assassin for the government as part of the Orphan program. When he broke with the program and went deep underground, he left with a lot of secrets in his head that the government would do anything to make sure never got out.

When he remade himself as The Nowhere Man, dedicated to helping the most desperate in their times of trouble, Evan found himself slowly back on the government’s radar. Having eliminated most of the Orphans in the program, the government will stop at nothing to eliminate the threat they see in Evan. But Orphan X has always been several steps ahead of his pursuers.

Until he makes one little mistake…

Now the President has him in her control and offers Evan a deal – eliminate a rich, powerful man she says is too dangerous to live and, in turn, she’ll let Evan survive. But when Evan left the Program he swore to only use his skills against those who really deserve it. Now he has to decide what’s more important – his principles or his life.

#BookReview: The Drift by C.J. Tudor @MichaelJBooks #TheDrift #damppebbles

Survival can be murder . . .

Hannah awakens to carnage, all mangled metal and shattered glass. Evacuated from a secluded boarding school during a snowstorm, her coach careered off the road, trapping her with a handful of survivors.

Meg awakens to a gentle rocking. She’s in a cable car stranded high above snowy mountains, with five strangers and no memory of how they got on board.

Carter is gazing out of the window of an isolated ski chalet that he and his companions call home. As their generator begins to waver in the storm, the threat of something lurking in the chalet’s depths looms larger.

Outside, the storm rages. Inside each group, a killer lurks.

But who?

And will anyone make it out alive? . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Drift by C.J. Tudor. The Drift was published by Penguin Michael Joseph last week (that’s Thursday 19th January 2023) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read a free eARC of The Drift but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am such a HUGE fan of C.J. Tudor’s books. I have read and loved every single one since the author’s phenomenal debut, The Chalk Man, hit bookshelves in 2018. C.J. can do no wrong in my eyes with every thrilling new book going beyond my *ahem* very high expectations (eek, the pressure!). You just cannot go wrong with a book by this author and this latest release proves that, in abundance! The Drift is thoroughly captivating with clever storytelling and intricate plotting. Another tense and addictive addition to Tudor’s catalogue of work!

Normally at this point I would give you my take on the blurb. But this is a very difficult book to summarise due to just how darn clever it is. So I’ll just refer you to the publisher’s blurb which is waaaaay better than anything I could write and tells you a lot of what you need to know. The Drift is an apocalyptic/dystopian horror thriller set in the not so distant future following the outbreak of a virus which has killed billions. In this hell-like new world the reader is introduced to three main characters, each in a unique, snow-bound setting. Hannah is one of the survivors of a coach crash. The coach was heading to The Retreat. Then there’s Meg who is stranded in a cable car, on its way to The Retreat. And finally Carter, who is a resident at The Retreat. The reader visits each setting and gets to know what makes the three main characters tick. There’s plenty of backstory, plenty of insight into their current predicaments and plenty of interesting developments along the way. Meaning all three leads felt fully fleshed out and totally believable. Their situations also felt scarily plausible, which is a very frightening thing to say! Is that due to living in a post-pandemic world ourselves? I do wonder. Whilst not all of the main characters were particularly likeable I did find myself gradually warming to the two women. But there was a feeling that I couldn’t shake that I wasn’t seeing the whole picture…

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved The Drift and know it is going to be one of my top books of the year come December. It’s a chilling, atmospheric read where the author has once again excelled at drawing the reader in and immersing them in a thoroughly riveting, nigh impossible-to-put-down thriller. With well placed touches of horror throughout, sky high tension and thrills aplenty, The Drift will no doubt become a bestseller. And deservedly so! It’s one of those ‘one more chapter’ books where you can’t and don’t want to stop reading but promise yourself ‘just one more chapter’ before realising it’s 3am and you need to go to work in a few hours! Chock-full of perfectly written suspense and with a killer twist in the tale, it was everything I was hoping for and so much more. C.J. Tudor knocks it out of the park every time. I said it before and I’ll say it again, Tudor can do no wrong in my eyes. A perfectly plotted tale of survival against the odds with a beautifully written overarching sense of dread and impending doom which I couldn’t get enough of. I loved every single second of The Drift. Highly recommended.

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

The Drift by C.J. Tudor was published in the UK by Penguin Michael Joseph on 19th January 2023 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (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 shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

C. J. Tudor lives in Sussex, England with her partner and daughter.

Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voiceover and dog-walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much.

#BookReview: The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett @ViperBooks #TheMysteriousCaseoftheAlpertonAngels #AlpertonAngels #TheAlpertonAngels #damppebbles

Open the safe deposit box.
Inside you will find research material for a true crime book.
You must read the documents, then make a decision.
Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the sad story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. Believing they had a divine mission to kill the infant, they were only stopped when the girl came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than stand trial, while mother and baby disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed; if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. And the story of the Alperton Angels is far from over.

From the bestselling author of The Appeal and The Twyford Code comes a stunning new mystery for fans of Richard Osman and S.J. Bennett. The devil is in the detail…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is published by Viper Books today (that’s Thursday 19th January 2023) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later in the year. I chose to read a free ARC of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Rosie at Viper Books for sending me a proof copy.

A new book by Janice Hallett is a very exciting prospect indeed. The author has given the mystery genre a flipping good shake in the last few years with her mesmerising plots and different style of delivery. If you’re not sure what I mean by ‘different style of delivery’ then please allow me to explain. All three of Hallett’s books, The AppealThe Twyford Code and now, The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels, have been told through the use of written communication. So letters, emails, transcripts, social media messaging etc. It provides a completely different experience for the reader, it’s so skilfully executed and I love what Hallett is doing. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is a novel I have been looking forward to with bated breath for nearly a year now (since finishing The Twyford Code) and it delivered on every count…and many, many more. Fasten your seatbelts, this is going to be a very enthusiastic review!

Upon opening the book the reader is given a task. In your hand you hold a key. The key opens a safety deposit box. Inside that box you will find comprehensive research material for a true crime book about the notorious Alperton Angels. You’re asked to read everything and make a decision: 1) return the documents to the box and lose the key so it can never be opened again, or 2) take the documents to the police. What will you do?

True crime writer, Amanda Bailey, is looking for something completely different to cover. When her agent suggests a book about the heart breaking case of the Alperton Angels from 2003, Amanda is sold. The baby that was involved in the case (and was considered by the cult members to be the anti-Christ) is about to turn eighteen and can finally talk about the experience. What a scoop that would be! But Amanda is not alone in her search for the baby. Oliver Menzies, an ex-colleague she has a strong dislike of, is also searching for the Alperton baby. Forced to work together, they begin to realise that memories are fragile and often, people recall events very differently. Every avenue they turn down leads to a dead end. Every hint or clue they’re given turns out to be a dud. Someone somewhere must know something and Amanda will do whatever it takes to discover the truth…

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is sublime in concept, execution and delivery. Utterly intriguing, highly original and impossible to put down. Yes, this book IS responsible for the dark circles under my eyes and yes, it’s because I chose reading over sleep! I find there’s not a lot of choice to be had when the book is this bloody good! As with previous books, I quickly became comfortable with the different style the story is presented in, powering through the pages, unable to tear myself away. Once again, I appreciated the comprehensive list of characters near the front of the book disguised as an ‘interview wish list’ but found myself not referring to it so much this time around. There was no need as I was able to bring to mind all of the characters with ease, their relationships to one another and their place in the story. Which brings me around nicely to talk about the characters. Amanda is a career driven woman who I often felt pushed others feelings aside for her own personal gain. Saying that, she can’t be all that bad as her ex-assistant, Ellie Cooper, the woman tasked with typing up her audio transcripts, seems to have a real soft spot for her. Ellie was my favourite character in the book. Which is a strange thing to say as she really isn’t involved in any of the action. Ellie does however add her own personal thoughts and observations to Amanda’s transcripts and there was a real warmth and fondness to her words which I very much enjoyed. Ellie also brings a touch of humour. I don’t know how Janice Hallett does it though. How do you give the reader a real sense of your characters when all you have to make them come to life are a few emails and WhatsApp messages? It blows my mind. Janice, you’re a genius!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. One million times over. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is devilishly good (geddit? 😉). I’m a huge fan of books featuring cults and their enigmatic leaders so I was always going to love The Alperton Angels. I just didn’t realise how much. It’s an utterly intriguing story delivered by a master storyteller in their superb trademark style and I LOVED it. Hugely creative, totally addictive and beautifully intricate. You need this book in your life (and why not pick up the author’s first two books whilst you’re there?!). Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett was published in the UK by Viper Books on 19th January 2023 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (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 shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office, and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and cowrote the feature film Retreat.

WWW Wednesday | 18th January 2023 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #BookTwitter #booktwt #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. 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?

Make Me Clean by Tina Baker
She will leave your surfaces sparkling.
But she may well leave you dead…

Maria is a good woman and a good cleaner. She cleans for Elsie, the funny old bird who’s losing her marbles, with the terrible husband. She cleans for Brian, the sweet man with the terrible boss. She cleans for the mysterious Mr Balogan, with the terrible neighbours.

If you’re thinking of hiring her, you should probably know that Maria might have killed the terrible husband, the terrible boss and the terrible neighbours. She may also have murdered the man she loved.

She didn’t set out to kill anyone, of course, but her clients have hired her to clean up their lives, and she takes her job seriously – not to mention how much happier they all are now. The trouble is, murder can’t be washed out. You can only sweep it under the carpet, and pray no one looks too closely…

Darkly funny and completely gripping from the first page to the last, Make Me Clean is one thriller you won’t be able to scrub from your mind. Perfect for fans of Harriet Tyce, Fiona Cummins and My Sister the Serial Killer.


What did you recently finish reading?

Woman, Eating by Claire Kohda
Lydia is hungry.

She’s always wanted to try sashimi, ramen, onigiri with sour plum stuffed inside – the food her Japanese father liked to eat. And then there is bubble tea and the vegetables grown by the other young artists at the London studio space she is secretly squatting in. But Lydia can’t eat any of this. The only thing she can digest is blood, and it turns out that sourcing fresh pigs’ blood in London – where she is living away from her vampire mother for the first time – is much more difficult than she’d anticipated.

Then there are the humans: the people at the gallery she interns at, the strange men who follow her after dark, and Ben, a goofy-grinned artist she is developing feelings for. Lydia knows that they are her natural prey, but she can’t bring herself to feed on them.

If Lydia is to find a way to exist in the world, she must reconcile the conflicts within her – between her demon and human sides, her mixed ethnic heritage, and her relationship with food, and, in turn, humans.

Before any of this, however, she must eat.


What do you think you’ll read next?

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones
Jade Daniels faces down a brutal serial killer in his pulse-punding tribute to the golden era of horror cinema and Friday the 13th from the New York Times-bestselling, multiple-award winning Jones.

Four years after her tumultuous senior year, Jade Daniels is released from prison right before Christmas when her conviction is overturned. But life beyond bars takes a dangerous turn as soon as she returns to Proofrock. Convicted Serial Killer, Dark Mill South, seeking revenge for thirty-eight Dakota men hanged in 1862, escapes from his prison transfer due to a blizzard, just outside of Proofrock, Idaho.

Dark Mill South’s Reunion Tour began on December 12th, 2019, a Thursday.

Thirty-six hours and twenty bodies later, on Friday the 13th, it would be over.

Don’t Fear the Reaper is the page-turning sequel to My Heart Is a Chainsaw from New York Times bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones.

#BookReview: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix @TitanBooks #HowtoSellaHauntedHouse #damppebbles

Your past and your family can haunt you like nothing else… A hilarious and terrifying new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Final Girl Support Group.

When Louise finds out her parents have died, she dreads going home. She doesn’t want to leave her daughter with her ex and fly to Charleston. She doesn’t want to deal with her family home, stuffed to the rafters with the remnants of her father’s academic career and her mother’s lifelong obsession with puppets and dolls. She doesn’t want to learn how to live without the two people who knew and loved her best in the world.

Mostly, she doesn’t want to deal with her brother, Mark, who never left their hometown, gets fired from one job after another, and resents her success. But she’ll need his help to get the house ready for sale because it’ll take more than some new paint on the walls and clearing out a lifetime of memories to get this place on the market.

Some houses don’t want to be sold, and their home has other plans for both of them…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix. How to Sell a Haunted House is published by Titan Books today (that’s Tuesday 17th January 2023) and is available in hardcover and digital formats. I chose to read a free eARC of How to Sell a Haunted House but that has in no way influenced my review.

This time last year I was aware of horror author Grady Hendrix but I hadn’t read any of their books. And then I picked up a copy of The Final Girl Support Group and, oh boy, I was officially smitten. Now I have a collection of Grady Hendrix books on the bookshelf that I’m merrily working my way through (look out for my review of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires coming to the blog soon!). It’s safe to say the publication of a new GH book has quickly become one of my yearly reading highlights. All in the space of a few months! So it should come as no surprise that I jumped at the chance to read How to Sell a Haunted House. And I loved every creepy, phobia inducing minute of it!

Single parent, Louise, receives a call from her brother, Mark, informing her that their parents have died in a tragic accident. Louise is devastated but reluctantly packs a bag, leaves her five year old daughter, Poppy, with her ex and heads to Charleston to take control of matters. But on arrival it becomes clear to Louise that Mark is planning on doing things his own way. Including sidelining his sister at every turn. He’s planned the funeral and now all that’s left to do is clear out the family home so it can be sold to the highest bidder. Mark wants no fuss or sentimentality. But Louise feels differently. She wants to honour the memory of her parents, taking time to sort and clear their possessions. The house contains a lifetime of memories. And dolls. Dolls that seem to turn up in the most unlikely of places. As do her mother’s homemade puppets. Louise and Mark may be hoping for a quick sale but the house has a different idea altogether…

How to Sell a Haunted House is an utterly compelling, thoroughly creepy read with exquisite characterisation which I found nigh impossible to be parted from for any length of time. I was so drawn into Louise and Mark’s story. I felt desperately sorry for Louise who seemed to be overlooked in favour of her younger sibling throughout their childhood, only for adult Mark to throw his toys out of the pram at the most inappropriate moment. My blood pressure rose as Mark did everything in his power to usurp his big sister. Removing any and all power she held at a time when emotions were raw and relationships were incredibly fragile. But, of course, it’s only as the reader progresses through the book that we get to really understand these beautifully crafted siblings and see what lurks beneath the surface.

Out of all of the horror tropes one of the scariest, for me, is the creepy ass doll. Only mildly creepier is the haunted puppet. There’s not much in it really but the puppet is definitely the more sinister of the two. And How to Sell a Haunted House proves my point in abundance. Hendrix has literally created a monster. Part of me wanted to hide in the wardrobe from the malevolence of nasty little Pupkin. But I couldn’t put the book down! I was completely immersed in the horror that was happening before me and I loved every chilling moment.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. How to Sell a Haunted House is my favourite Grady Hendrix novel so far, but I don’t think you can go wrong in picking up one of this author’s books. Everything I have read to date has been thoroughly entertaining, a whole lot of fun, perfectly pitched and pretty darn memorable. I do think, at times, the pace moved a little slower than in previous books but that’s never a problem, providing the characters speak to me. And they certainly did! I was swept away by the author’s clever storytelling to a world of stuffed squirrels and invisible dogs and weirdly, I didn’t want to leave. All in all, How to Sell a Haunted House is a winner for me. I loved the characters, I loved what the author put the characters through and I loved that it was all just a little bit bonkers, in the best way possible. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of How to Sell a Haunted House. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix was published in the UK by Titan Books on 17th January 2023 and is available in hardcover 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 shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Grady HendrixGrady Hendrix is the author of the novels Horrorstör, about a haunted IKEA, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, which is like Beaches meets The Exorcist, only it’s set in the Eighties. He’s also the author of We Sold Our SoulsThe Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, and Final Girl Support Group!

He’s also the jerk behind the Stoker award-winning Paperbacks from Hell, a history of the 70’s and 80’s horror paperback boom, which contains more information about Nazi leprechauns, killer babies, and evil cats than you probably need.

And he’s the screenwriter behind Mohawk, which is probably the only horror movie about the War of 1812 and Satanic Panic.