#BookReview: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse @1stMondayCrime #TheSanatorium #damppebbles #FirstMondayCrime

EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse again in conjunction with the lovely folk at First Monday Crime. The fabulous Sarah Pearse will be appearing alongside a host of other brilliant authors this coming Monday, 12th April 2021 at 7.30pm over on the FM Facebook page. More information further down this post!

The Sanatorium was impossible to resist! That intriguing title, the striking, atmospheric cover, the enticing blurb. It screamed my name so I had to read it. This is the second book I’ve read set in the Alps in the space of a month but it gave me a whole different set of chills.

Detective Elin Warner and her boyfriend are staying at an isolated boutique hotel in the Swiss Alps. The hotel itself has an unnerving history, having started its life as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. Her estranged brother has surprisingly invited Elin to his engagement party. He’s marrying a childhood friend of hers, the glamorous Laure. Elin is happy to leave the UK for a while as, following her last case, something happened which made her doubt her future in the police force. But on arrival, nervous Elin is instantly put on edge even more by the imposing setting. The pressing snow storm doesn’t help her feel any safer. The relationship between Elin and her brother, Isaac, is tense and a missed dinner invitation causes more upset. But the following morning, Isaac reports Laure missing. The snow storm and the risk of avalanches cuts off all access to the hotel as the search for Laure continues. They’re on their own. Elin needs to step up and take control of the situation. Which, despite feeling hesitant, she feels ready to do. Until they discover the body…

Poor Elin. From the start of The Sanatorium she’s on the edge and that doesn’t really change very much as the story progresses. She’s a troubled woman who carries the tragic death of her brother at the age of 8 in her heart and her mind. The real reason for her decision to reconnect with her estranged other brother becomes very clear to the reader. She wants the truth and the only person who can give it to her is Isaac. Her grief has moulded and shaped her into the woman she is today. Elin is an interesting character who at times I really liked and admired.

The mystery aspect of The Sanatorium was interesting and it kept me turning the pages. I adored the setting. I love isolated, claustrophobic settings in novels and this one is done particularly well. The snowy mountains feel as though they’re pressing in on the hotel and the unpredictability of the avalanches was really wonderful. Picturing the icy scenes in my mind gave me goosebumps! Marvellous stuff.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would recommend The Sanatorium to anyone who enjoys a locked-room mystery with a bit of an icy twist. The plot moves at a steady pace and keeps the reader turning the pages. I enjoyed reading The Sanatorium and I would gladly read more from this author. It’s a chilling, atmospheric mystery which I was happy to lose myself in. Recommended.

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

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse was published in the UK by Bantam Press on Thursday 18th February 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

First Monday Crime
Sarah Pearse will be joining the panel for April’s First Monday Facebook event on Monday 12th April 2021. Sarah will be appearing alongside David Fennell (author of The Art of Death), Matt Wesolowski (author of Deity), David Baldacci (author of A Gambling Man) and asking the questions will be Dr Noir – Jacky Collins. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 12th April via the First Monday Facebook page.

Sarah Pearse lives by the sea in South Devon with her husband and two daughters. She studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick and worked in Brand PR for a variety of household brands. After moving to Switzerland in her twenties, she spent every spare moment exploring the mountains in the Swiss Alpine town of Crans Montana, the dramatic setting that inspired her novel. Sarah has always been drawn to the dark and creepy – remote spaces and abandoned places – so when she read an article in a local Swiss magazine about the history of sanatoriums in the area, she knew she’d found the spark of the idea for her debut novel, The Sanatorium. Her short fiction has been published in a wide variety of magazines and has been shortlisted for several prizes.

WWW Wednesday | 7th 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?

Kill River by Cameron Roubique
In the summer of 1983, thirteen-year-old Cyndi and her three new-found friends, Stacy, Zack, and Brad decide to sneak away from their summer camp in the middle of the night by rafting down the nearby rivers. After spending a tense night lost in the woods, the four teenagers stumble into a mysterious water park that appears to be completely empty.

At first they are thrilled to have the rides all to themselves, at least until one of them disappears. Soon they discover that they are trapped in the park, and a dark figure is stalking them from the shadows, picking them off one by one. Once night falls, Cyndi will have to fight to escape the park, a masked maniac, and a living nightmare.

Kill River is a wild water park ride filled with blood, gore, and ’80s nostalgia. Slasher fans rejoice, old school horror is back!

What did you recently finish reading?

The Con Season by Adam Cesare
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.

What do you think you’ll read next?

#BookReview: Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone #Mirrorland #damppebbles

“The most dangerous stories are the ones we tell ourselves…

No. 36 Westeryk Road: an imposing flat-stone house on the outskirts of Edinburgh. A place of curving shadows and crumbling grandeur. But it’s what lies under the house that is extraordinary – Mirrorland. A vivid make-believe world that twin sisters Cat and El created as children. A place of escape, but from what?

Now in her thirties, Cat has turned her back on her past. But when she receives news that one sunny morning, El left harbour in her sailboat and never came back, she is forced to return to Westeryk Road; to re-enter a forgotten world of lies, betrayal and danger.

Because El had a plan. She’s left behind a treasure hunt that will unearth long-buried secrets. And to discover the truth, Cat must first confront the reality of her childhood – a childhood that wasn’t nearly as idyllic as she remembers…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone. Mirrorland was published last week (on Thursday 1st April 2021) by The Borough Press and is available in audio and digital formats with the hardcover to follow later this month and the paperback in October. I chose to read a free eARC of Mirrorland but that has in no way influenced my review.

This book has so much appeal. I couldn’t resist that gorgeous cover and the intriguing blurb. However, once I made a start on Mirrorland, I began to question whether I was the right reader for this book. It’s incredibly rare that I DNF a book once I’ve started, and I really wanted to like Mirrorland, so I persevered. And oh my gosh, I’m so glad I did. Otherwise I would have missed out on one heck of a twisted story!

Identical mirror twins, Ellice and Catriona, have lost touch with each other as the years pass. Catriona lives in the US and doesn’t speak to Ellice, who lives in the family home on the outskirts of Edinburgh. But then Ellice goes missing. She sailed her boat from the harbour on the Firth of Forth and hasn’t been seen since. Which prompts Catriona’s immediate return to her home town. The search for Ellice is in vain. She’s disappeared without trace. That is until Catriona starts to receive strange, anonymous messages. A treasure hunt no less! It’s time for Catriona to confront her past, to recall memories which she had long since buried and find out what has happened to her sister…

So what was it about Mirrorland that made me question whether I was the right reader? A lack of imagination on my part is the most honest answer I think. The book is written in the past – when the twins were young children – and the present. It was the ‘past’ sections I struggled with as the girls have created a magical world within 36 Westeryk Road which, to a child’s mind, makes perfect sense. These scenes are fantastical, abstract, full of the things that add to the wonderment of childhood (pirates, the tooth fairy, witches, clowns *shudder at the clowns*). But I couldn’t understand their placement, to an extent, and why the author was spending so much time building a picture of the twins playing together, as children do. As you progress through the book it all makes perfect sense but at the time, I just wanted to get to the juicy stuff; the lies, betrayal and danger!

There is a good reason for these scenes and I can see that now with hindsight. It’s all part of the author building her characters and their story. I wish I had appreciated it more at the time.

Catriona is a fascinating character who I can’t claim to have liked – she does some pretty awful things – but I could empathise with her to a degree. Other characters in the book are well-written. My favourite character was DI Kate Rafiq who is tasked with discovering what happened to Ellice, alongside DS Logan. What a formidable team they made! I loved that Rafiq was there for Catriona when she was needed the most.

The plot has plenty of twists and turns, many of which I didn’t see coming and was left reeling after their reveal. The more you dig, the darker things become and I adored that. It’s a complex story which you need to dedicate time to – to savour what the author is sharing with the reader. It’s a beautiful piece of fiction and it needs to be appreciated.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Mirrorland is a deliciously dark debut. Its gothic tones are done to perfection with the creepy old house on Westeryk Road. I became completely invested in finding out the truth and my heart went out to Catriona as she made shocking discovery after shocking discovery. It’s a devilishly twisted tale and I’m so glad I read it. Recommended.

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

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone was published in the UK by The Borough Press on 1st April 2021 and is available in digital 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Scottish writer Carole Johnstone’s debut novel, Mirrorland, will be published in spring 2021 by Borough Press/HarperCollins in the UK and Commonwealth and by Scribner/Simon & Schuster in North America.

Her award-winning short fiction has been reprinted in many annual ‘Best Of’ anthologies in the UK and the US. She has been published by Titan Books, Tor Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and PS Publishing, and has written Sherlock Holmes stories for Constable & Robinson and Running Press.

Carole is represented by Hellie Ogden at Janklow & Nesbit UK and Allison Hunter at Janklow & Nesbit (US).

More information on the author can be found at carolejohnstone.com

#BookReview: Tall Bones by Anna Bailey @DoubledayUK #TallBones #damppebbles

tall bones“When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Tall Bones by Anna Bailey. Tall Bones is published today (that’s Thursday 1st April) by Doubleday Books and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read a free eARC of Tall Bones but that has in no way influenced my review.

Gosh, I loved this book. I’m currently suffering a bit of a book hangover and I can’t stop thinking about it. I was instantly drawn to the stunning cover and the promise of small town secrets. It delivered ten-fold. You’ve got to read it!

Seventeen year old Abi Blake waves goodbye to her best friend, Emma Alvarez, and assures her she’ll be able to get home safely. Emma, fearful for her friend’s safety, reluctantly leaves. The following morning there’s no sign of Abi. Everyone in the small town of Whistling Ridge has a secret. Everyone has their own version of events from the night Abi disappeared but no one is willing to talk. What happened to Abi Blake that fateful night out at the Tall Bones…?

Absolutely gorgeous and utterly glorious. From the opening chapters this book had a hold over me and I savoured every moment I spent with it. It’s such a beautifully written piece of fiction which managed to completely entrance me. I loved it and I can easily see this book featuring in my top reads of the year, if not my absolute top pick for 2021.

My heart broke for Emma who is consumed with guilt after leaving Abi at the Tall Bones. She turns to drink to try and numb the hurt and the humiliation but no matter how much she drinks, it doesn’t stop the pain. And that’s how she meets Rat Lăcustă who she helplessly falls in love with. Rat is young, spirited and exotic. And not the slightest bit interested romantically in Emma which only brings her more heartache. In Emma, the author has created a young woman at her most vulnerable, and she touched my heart.

But Emma and Rat are only the beginning of a cast of characters who all stand tall from the page. The Blake family made me feel such a strong mix of emotions. I adored Jude, Abi’s younger brother, broken by those who should love him the most but still loyal to a fault. Abi’s mother, Dolly, made me furious in one breath for not acknowledging or stopping what was going on right in front of her eyes. In the next breath I couldn’t help but feel for her. Stuck in a loveless marriage and feeling completely trapped. Yes, her actions were unforgiveable but I wouldn’t wish her life on anyone. Noah, Abi’s older brother, was beautifully drawn. As he begins to realise who he is and what is important to him, he is shunned by the small town community he calls home and gossiped about at every opportunity. His blossoming relationship with Rat was both tentative and intense and I thoroughly enjoyed how the author wrote their interactions. A true love story. And finally we have Samuel Blake, Abi’s father. A cruel and aggressive man who made my blood boil with his  hatred and discrimination. He uses the bible and the church’s teachings to justify his atrocious treatment of his wife and sons without remorse.

The plot pulls the reader into the story to the point where it’s hard to put the book down for any length of time. When I wasn’t reading Tall Bones, I was thinking about it. It consumed me totally and I’m so glad it did. When I say ‘I will remember this book for some time to come’ that feels like a massive understatement. This is one of those books which has left its permanent mark on me.

Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would, yes. Tall Bones is a haunting, beautiful but ultimately dark read that I devoured with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. Its themes can be quite unsettling and upsetting at times, particularly later in the book, but it’s an astonishing debut. I’m so happy I took a chance on this one but I also feel bereft that it’s over. I miss Whistling Ridge (although once you’ve read the book you’ll wonder why). I’m a sucker for a small town American crime novel and this is an absolutely superb one. Shame, secrets, love and lies as the tagline says. What more could you want? Highly recommended.

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

Tall Bones (also known as Where The Truth Lies in the US) by Anna Bailey was published in the UK by Doubleday on 1st 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 |

Anna Bailey grew up in Gloucestershire and studied Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, before moving to Texas and later Colorado. In 2018, she returned to the UK where she enrolled in the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course. She currently works as a freelance journalist in Cheltenham, where she lives with her three cats.

WWW Wednesday | 31st March 2021 #WWWWednesday #damppebbles

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

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

What are you currently reading?

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird
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.

What did you recently finish reading?

greenwich park

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner
Helen has it all…

Daniel is the perfect husband.
Rory is the perfect brother.
Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.

And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.

When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.

Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret…

Masterfully plotted and utterly addictive, Greenwich Park is a dark, compelling look at motherhood, friendships, privilege and the secrets we keep to protect ourselves.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh
You can save hundreds of lives.
Or the one that matters most . . .

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

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

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

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

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Last Seen by Joy Kluver @bookouture #BooksonTour #LastSeen #damppebbles

Last-Seen-KindleA little girl is missing from under her mother’s nose. She’ll be scared and vulnerable – if she’s still alive. But no one is helping us search. No one wants to give us information. No one even seems surprised. What’s going on?

Detective Bernadette Noel came to this quiet rural corner of south-west England from London to lie low after a high-profile prosecution led to death threats against her family. But she has barely settled in when the call comes. A woman’s voice, shrill with terror and thick with tears: ‘Help – it’s my daughter, Molly – I only had my back turned for a minute… She’s gone!’

A child abduction is about as far from lying low as it gets, and her boss wants to assign a different detective. But there’s no way Bernie’s not taking the case – she can’t miss this chance to prove herself.

Five-year-old Molly Reynolds has been snatched from the playground in the village where she lives. Normally in cases like this the community is an asset – eager to help search and full of local knowledge. But although Molly’s mother Jessica is in anguish, the other villagers don’t seem to want to know.

As details emerge, Bernie discovers a possible link to a shocking crime that has never been solved, and which the locals have never forgotten. But what exactly is the connection to Molly’s abduction? Cracking a cold case is the only way to find out – and meanwhile time is running out for Molly.

A dark and compelling crime thriller that will have you reading late into the night. If you like Val McDermid, D.S. Butler or Angela Marsons, you’ll love Joy Kluver.

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated releases of the year with you – Last Seen by Joy Kluver. Last Seen was published on 26th March 2021 by Bookouture and is available in paperback, digital and audio formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Last Seen but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Bookouture for an early copy and asking me to be part of the blog tour.

Last Seen is Kluver’s debut novel and what a cracking start it is! It was a joy to meet DI Bernadette (Bernie) Noel – new to the area and newly promoted – as she took on her first case with Wiltshire Police, the desperate search for a missing five-year-old child. This is a very assured debut from an author to watch!

Shy and sensitive Molly Reynolds has been warned about stranger danger by the adults in her life. But that doesn’t stop her from being snatched from the local park, mere feet from her mother’s turned back. New to Wiltshire Police, DI Bernie Noel, is tasked with finding the girl and reuniting her with her family. But Bernie’s search is hampered at every turn by the folk of Ottersfield who seem uncaring, uninterested and reluctant to take time out of their busy schedules to help find the child. Why would a village react like that? Bernie and the team are at a loss. Every lead turns out to be a dead end. Until Bernie discovers the disappearance of another child twenty-five years earlier. Are the two cases connected and will Bernie find Molly in time…?

I really liked DI Noel who came across as a very relatable, very real character. Not only has Bernie got a challenging case on her hands but the author hints throughout the book of a troubled past which intrigued me. There are references to Bernie’s life in London and a case which still visibly haunts her. And all of this on top of the search for little Molly! The reader also gets to discover more about Bernie’s family which isn’t all sunshine and rainbows (pretty normal then!). These well-plotted layers add up to a very likeable new detective who I’m looking forward to spending more time with in the future.

The characters who form Bernie’s team are also well-written and I felt they all contributed to the story. DS Kerry Allen has a heart of gold but won’t take cr@p from anyone. Matt Taylor is a young, ambitious detective constable who personally, I liked the most. I hope he features in future books. Although he’s not officially part of the team (he should be!), Sergeant Alan Turner was just wonderful! And lastly, we have DS Dougie Anderson who I couldn’t work out (I don’t think I was the only one!). He seemed totally obnoxious one minute, only to turn sweetness and light the next! I think DI Noel and DS Anderson have a very interesting future ahead of them, although fingers crossed it’s not a romantic one! 

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Last Seen is a compelling read featuring an intriguing new detective. I loved the secrets, the deceit and the small town apathy Bernie finds in Otterfield. Normally, when a child goes missing it’s all hands to the pumps, but not in this case and the reasons behind the residents complete lack of interest kept me turning the pages. It’s a great start to a new series and I’m excited to see what is in store next for DI Noel and the team. Recommended.

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

Last Seen by Joy Kluver was published on 26th March 2021 and is available in paperback, digital 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.ukamazon.comApple BooksKoboGoogle BooksGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Last Seen - BT Poster

about-the-author3

joy kluverJoy Kluver has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. More recently she’s been escaping the madness of motherhood by turning her hand to crime novels. A book blogger, she’s also part of the First Monday Crime team and if you’ve been to any of their events it’s likely you’ve eaten one of her cookies. She also organises author talks for her local library. Joy lives in SW London with her husband and three children. ‘Last Seen’ is her debut novel and the first book in the DI Bernadette Noel series.

Joy is represented by Anne Williams at the Kate Horden Literary Agency.

WWW Wednesday | 24th March 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?

mirrorland

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
The most dangerous stories are the ones we tell ourselves…

No. 36 Westeryk Road: an imposing flat-stone house on the outskirts of Edinburgh. A place of curving shadows and crumbling grandeur. But it’s what lies under the house that is extraordinary – Mirrorland. A vivid make-believe world that twin sisters Cat and El created as children. A place of escape, but from what?

Now in her thirties, Cat has turned her back on her past. But when she receives news that one sunny morning, El left harbour in her sailboat and never came back, she is forced to return to Westeryk Road; to re-enter a forgotten world of lies, betrayal and danger.

Because El had a plan. She’s left behind a treasure hunt that will unearth long-buried secrets. And to discover the truth, Cat must first confront the reality of her childhood – a childhood that wasn’t nearly as idyllic as she remembers…

‘The love child of Gillian Flynn and Stephen King. In Mirrorland nothing is as it appears and the kaleidoscope twists and turns will have you frantically turning the pages until you reach the gasp-out-loud ending’ GREER HENDRICKS, bestselling co-author of The Wife Between Us

What did you recently finish reading?

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey
When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….

What do you think you’ll read next?

greenwich park

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner
Helen has it all…

Daniel is the perfect husband.
Rory is the perfect brother.
Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.

And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.

When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.

Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret…

Masterfully plotted and utterly addictive, Greenwich Park is a dark, compelling look at motherhood, friendships, privilege and the secrets we keep to protect ourselves.

#BookReview: The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward @ViperBooks #TheLastHouseonNeedlessStreet #damppebbles

“This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies.

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it’s not what you think…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review (mini review may be the best description – or perhaps burblings) of The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. The Last House on Needless Street was published by the fabulous Viper Books last week on 18th March 2021. I received a free ARC of The Last House on Needless Street but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early copy.

I am a keen advocate of book reviews (goes without saying really, running a book blog where 95% of what I publish is reviews). Book reviews help readers find a hidden gem. Book reviews give readers an insight into what to expect before committing to reading. Book reviews are awesome. PLEASE DON’T READ ANY REVIEWS OF THIS BOOK, INCLUDING THIS ONE. There, I’ve said it. I’ve broken the rules 😮. Not sure what to do with myself now…

Oh, you’re still here? Normally at this point in a damppebbles review I give you my take on what the book is about. I can’t do that with The Last House on Needless Street. I really hope I’m piquing your curiosity here because you do NEED to read this book but what I’m aiming for, my hope for you, is that you go into this book without any prior knowledge of the story. PLEASE DON’T READ ANY FURTHER! I read a few reviews before starting the book so I went in suspicious (honestly, stop reading this review NOW!!) and when I say ‘suspicious’, I considered every single possible option as the story played out in front of me. Unfortunately, I was able to work out where the author was going to take certain aspects of the story so they didn’t have the same wow-factor which I know other early readers have experienced (I’m a highly suspicious person, it’s a serious flaw). I still savoured every single second of the book though, it has that effect.

What can tell you about The Last House on Needless Street? This is a beautiful, heart breaking piece of fiction that smashes boundaries. It was captivating and enchanting. Terrifying and horrific. I loved it but felt desperately uncomfortable at times. If I could read it all over again without having read those reviews in the first place, I would pay good money to do so. Of course, you may not be the same as me and you may be able to forget that you ever saw this review (I won’t be offended – in fact I’d even encourage it – or any others that you may happen across). Please, when you crack this book open, go in with a clear, open mind and enjoy every second of Ward’s spellbinding tale. It will be so worth it.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Last House on Needless Street needs to be read by everyone. Please don’t let the mention of gothic or horror put you off. It’s dark and unsettling, worms its way under your skin and stays there malevolently grinning at you. It’s brave and totally addictive. A slow burn story that will be impossible to forget. Despite my few good guesses, by the end of the book I was a completely broken woman. The author’s writing is sublime. The power of her words took my breath away. What the writer exposed me to devastated me. The Last House on Needless Street is something very special and I suggest you do whatever you can to get hold of a copy. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Last House on Needless Street. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward was published in the UK by Viper Books on 18th March 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year (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 Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreadsthe damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

CATRIONA WARD was born in Washington, DC and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia.

Stephen King praised her upcoming gothic thriller, saying: ‘The buzz building around Catriona Ward’s THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET is real. I’ve read it and was blown away. It’s a true nerve-shredder that keeps its mind-blowing secrets to the very end. Haven’t read anything this exciting since GONE GIRL.’ THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET is published 2021 by Viper (UK) and Tor Nightfire (USA).

Ward’s preceding novel LITTLE EVE won the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award, as well as the August Derleth Prize at the British Fantasy Awards, and was a Guardian best book of 2018. Her debut RAWBLOOD also won the 2016 August Derleth, making her the only woman to have won the prize twice. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. ‘The Pier at Ardentinny’ was shortlisted for the ALCS Tom Gallon Trust Award organised by the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in London and Devon.

#BookReview: Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson @FaberBooks #EveryVowYouBreak #damppebbles

“After a whirlwind, fairytale romance, Abigail Baskin marries freshly-minted Silicon Valley millionaire Bruce Lamb.

For their honeymoon, he whisks her away to an exclusive retreat at a friend’s resort off the Maine coast on Heart Pond Island.

But once there, Abigail’s perfect new life threatens to crash down around her as she recognises one of their fellow guests as the good looking, charismatic stranger who weeks earlier had seduced her at her own Bachelorette party…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson. Every Vow You Break is published today (that’s Thursday 18th March 2021) by Faber Books and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Every Vow You Break but that has in no way influenced my review.

I LOVE Peter Swanson’s novels. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! He’s a favourite author of mine and picking up his latest release for the first time is one of the highlights of my year. His books are chock full of delicious suspense and always have a wicked twist in their tale. I heartily recommend ALL of his books – particularly The Kind Worth Killing and the absolutely stunning Rules for Perfect Murders which made it onto my ‘best books EVER’ list after being published last year.

Abigail Baskin is getting married! She’s all loved up (sort of) and heading off to California for her hen party (Bachelorette party for any US readers!) with a group of friends to let her hair down and wave goodbye to singledom. Following a night of delicious food and good wine, Abigail starts to chat with Scottie, a good-looking and charming divorcee. One thing leads to another, the wine flows and they end up in bed together. Abigail realises her mistake and hurries home to husband-to-be, Bruce, wracked with guilt, determined to forget it ever happened and make their marriage work. Until she starts to see Scottie everywhere she turns; in New York, at her wedding and most shockingly of all, Scottie is a fellow guest at the exclusive resort Bruce has chosen as their honeymoon destination. Why is Scottie following Abigail? What’s his agenda and will his presence on Heart Pond Island result in Abigail’s perfect life crashing down around her…?

This is a fantastic slow burn suspense novel which I found very readable. Swanson takes time and care to paint a picture of Abigail and Bruce’s lives together. You get to know Abigail particularly well and what makes her tick, before the author blows the couple’s worlds apart. When the bomb is dropped, OMG, it’s a big un! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough – I had to find out how things were going to end. I was gripped and loving every second of my reading experience.

I grew to like Abigail over the course of the novel. I will admit I wasn’t an instant fan but my judgement was based more on her indiscretion and my own personal feelings about cheating on a partner. I was hoping she would get her comeuppance. However, I quickly changed my mind as the story progressed. Oh boy, did I change my mind!!

I did have one tiny niggle about this book and you’re probably going to think I’m crazy! The use of the word ‘pond’. To me, as a Brit, a pond is a small, stagnant body of water. Probably infested with frogs, algae and water slugs (are they a thing?). In Every Vow You Break, characters are swimming and sailing on the pond which seemed to me to be vast. Isn’t that a lake? Perhaps it’s a UK vs US thing. Anyway, my point is, the use of the word jarred me a little every time it was used as what I pictured in my own mind didn’t seem to match with what the book was telling me. Maybe I’m just odd. Maybe I have no knowledge whatsoever of ponds and I should just shut up now…

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Every Vow You Break is a great addition to Swanson’s back catalogue. The author remains one of my absolute favourites and I’m already looking forward to his next book. Every Vow You Break has a very interesting twist which drew me in to the story. At times I was on the edge of my seat, at other times I was furious with the characters. My blood was boiling. All in all, another brilliant reading experience from the master of suspense. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Every Vow You Break. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson was published in the UK by Faber Books on 18th March 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Peter Swanson is the author of seven novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, Every Vow You Break. His books have been translated into over 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Yearn To Fear by Chas Murrell (@MurrellChas) @cobaltdinosaur #YearnToFear #damppebbles

“The greatest scientific invention of modern times…
Capable of curing humanity…
But more adept at controlling it…

Sydney scientist, Marcus Hall, is developing a radical 5G Wi-Fi receiver for CSIRO. With access to secretive Lamarr computer chips – this technology promises billions to repair Australia’s ravaged economy. On a caffeine boosted whim, he inadvertently discovers a therapeutic breakthrough in neuroscience. Or so he thinks…

His seemingly trustworthy lab partner, Henry, is an unlikely Australian spy. His official duty is keeping tabs on the project and their Lamarr chips. But the whole project is now classified top-secret.
Marcus remains blissfully unaware of the many secrets surrounding him, until he witnesses the graphic murder of a colleague. Could this event reveal Henry as a master deceiver and ruthless double agent? Will the scientific discovery be fatal for Marcus, those he loves, and the one he yearns for? Marcus faces a soul tearing dilemma: is the only means of stopping the carnage to weaponise his prototype?

Foreign intelligence agencies realise the top-secret breakthrough is priceless. One particular spy leads the race to seize the invention. A psychological master of the long game, espionage, and extortion, his only rule according to Kung Fu: Win.

Friend and foe alike confront this psychotic mastermind. All will FEAR him, but is their FEAR real? Only the next six minutes will tell…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I’m handing the blog over to my guest reviewer, Ryan, who is going to share his review of Yearn to Fear by Chas Murrell as part of the blog tour. Yearn to Fear was published on 18th November 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats. Ryan chose to read and review a free digital copy of Yearn to Fear but that has in no way influenced his review.

Yearn to Fear is the debut novel from Chas Murrell and what is very impressive about this book is that Chas has his own distinct style already. Yearn to Fear is not a formulaic spy thriller, nor is it a dry police procedural. Rather it is a character driven espionage, spy thriller with weapons! It’s intriguing, it’s different and it’s well worth a read!

Yearn to Fear follows Marcus and Henry as they work at CSIRO on a new telecommunication chip. The work isn’t showing promising results but after one experiment they discover the unexpected power of the Lamarr chip. The chip can bring benefits to the users and the potential market is suddenly much bigger than the 5G companies. This is something that everyone wants to get their hands on and they will stop at nothing to get it!

Once we realise the power of the chip, the reader is plunged headlong into an exciting adventure where everyone we met in the first half of the book suddenly starts to show their true colours. When you have something every government would kill for, who can you trust? Each character starts to evolve; we see what drives them, we see more of their true purpose and that means things will get messy. Throw in a handful of heavies, some special ops and of the course the local police and you get a story you will not want to put down. I felt intrigued as to where this was going to go, who was really out to get who, and who may not be who they seem. There were definitely twists and surprises in this one that left me shocked.

I must say I found the first half of the story a little slow. The character building and the scientific explanation of what the Lamarr chip may or may not be doing felt carefully paced. However Murrell is teeing up the story for an explosive second half and what promises to be an interesting sequel. Not once as a reader did I feel overawed by the science, or the implications. The author moved the plot along at a rapid pace without befuddling the reader.

The interesting benefit of setting a story around a massive research institute like CSIRO is that you are allowed very intelligent characters.  Leaps of logic that in other books would seem out of place, were cleverly explained by the author. The ‘good guys’ didn’t just have to rely on serendipity and bullets in this novel. Brains were allowed and the mental chess game with the enemy spy made for entertaining reading.

I would recommend Yearn to Fear to anyone looking for a different take on the spy thriller and looking to find a new go-to author.

Ryan chose to read and review a free digital copy of Yearn to Fear. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Yearn to Fear by Chas Murrell was published in the UK on 18th November 2020 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.comWaterstonesdamppebbles bookshop.org shopGoodreads |

Chas Murrell has been a Police Officer, Senior Fire Commander, Customs Coastwatch surveillance mission co-ordinator, heavy machinery mechanic, emergency medical technician/ instructor, film extra, and General Manager of an event company. He has published academic papers on liquid hydrogen and held a worldwide provisional patent for a nonlinear mathematical calculation. He survived Australia’s largest gas BLEVE in 1987, and has provided operational support to some of Australia’s largest natural disasters in North Queensland.

On a personal level he has suffered from relentless and debilitating migraines all his life, is father to four and pop to two. He and his artistically entrepreneurial wife live in Tasmania, which looks very much like Scotland and they wouldn’t have it any other way. A direct descendant of Robert the Bruce (King of Scots), history runs deep in Chas’s veins, along with a profound knowledge of both World Wars. You may even come across him online playing World of Tanks.

In his Australian spy thriller books you will get to know Chas’s knowledge of technology, intrigue, crime, espionage, weaponry, banter, romance and even whisky… yet above all, there is believability and no loose ends.