WWW Wednesday | 21st December 2022 #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 Shards by Bret Easton Ellis
LA, 1981. Buckley College in heat. 17-year-old Bret is a senior at the exclusive Buckley prep school when a new student arrives with a mysterious past. Robert Mallory is bright, handsome, charismatic, and shielding a secret from Bret and his friends, even as he becomes a part of their tightly knit circle. Bret’s obsession with Mallory is equalled only by his increasingly unsettling preoccupation with The Trawler, a serial killer on the loose who seems to be drawing ever closer to Bret and his friends, taunting them with grotesque threats and horrific, sharply local acts of violence.

Can he trust his friends – or his own mind – to make sense of the danger they appear to be in? Thwarted by the world and by his own innate desires, buffeted by unhealthy fixations, Bret spirals into paranoia and isolation as the relationship between The Trawler and Robert Mallory hurtles inexorably toward a collision.

Gripping, sly, suspenseful, deeply haunting and often darkly funny, The Shards is a mesmerizing fusing of fact and fiction that brilliantly explores the emotional fabric of Bret’s life at 17 – sex and jealousy, obsession and murderous rage.


What did you recently finish reading?

Devil’s Way (Kate Marshall #4) by Robert Bryndza
THE TRUTH HIDES IN THE DARK

Kate Marshall’s investigation into a young boy’s disappearance sends her down an unexpectedly twisted path in a riveting thriller by multi-million bestselling author, Robert Bryndza. 

When Private Investigator Kate Marshall is rushed to hospital after being pulled into a riptide current in the sea, the near-death experience leaves her shaken. During her recovery, she befriends Jean, an elderly lady on the same ward. Jean tells the harrowing story of how her three-year-old grandson, Charlie, went missing eleven years ago during a camping trip on Dartmoor.

By the time Kate is well enough to go home, she’s agreed to take on the case, but when Kate and her trusty sidekick Tristan start to look at the events of that fateful night, they discover that Jean has a dark past that could have put Charlie in jeopardy.

Was Charlie abducted? Or did he fall into Devil’s Way? A rushing river that vanishes into a gorge close to where they were camping.

When Kate and Tristan discover that a social worker who flagged concerns about Jean and her daughter was found brutally murdered shortly after Charlie vanished, it makes them question everything they thought they knew about the family…

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she’s always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they’re as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.

One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn’t felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind—and Patricia has already invited him in. 

Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted—including the book club—but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighbourly kindness gone wrong.


What do you think you’ll read next?

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett
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..

After all, the devil is in the detail…

#BookReview: The Night Shift by Alex Finlay @AriesFiction @HoZ_Books #TheNightShift #damppebbles

“What connects a massacre at a Blockbuster video store in 1999 with the murder of four teenagers fifteen years later?

It’s New Year’s Eve of 1999 when four teenagers working late are attacked at a Blockbuster video store in New Jersey. Only one survives. Police quickly identify a suspect, the boyfriend of one of the victims, who flees and is never seen again.

Fifteen years later, four more teenagers are attacked at an ice cream store in the same town, and again only one makes it out alive.

In the aftermath of the latest crime, three lives intersect: the lone survivor of the Blockbuster massacre, who is forced to relive the horrors of her tragedy; the brother of the fugitive accused, who is convinced the police have the wrong suspect; and FBI agent Sarah Keller, who must delve into the secrets of both nights to uncover the truth about the Night Shift Murders…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Night Shift by Alex Finlay. The Night Shift was published by Aries Fiction, part of Head of Zeus, in paperback format on 1st September 2022 and is also available in hardcover, audio and digital formats.

Something about The Night Shift really appealed to me. And I know exactly what it was. This book centres around a massacre which took place in a Blockbuster Video store on New Year’s Eve 1999, followed by a similar event which took place in an ice cream store fifteen years later. Everything you need to know about why I purchased and immediately read a copy of this book is in that previous sentence. Everything! The nostalgia called to me. And I can’t help it but books featuring serial or spree killers really intrigue me. There was no way I was going to let this one pass me by!

New Year’s Eve, 1999. The world holds its breath waiting to see if the dawn of the new millennium will result in untold technological chaos around the world. In Linden, New Jersey, tragedy strikes when the night shift staff of the local Blockbuster Video store are viciously attacked, leaving all but one of them – Ella Monroe – dead. Fifteen years later Ella has trained to become a therapist, helping others deal with trauma. So she’s the perfect person to call when a second attack, this time in a Linden ice cream store, leaves three of the night shift dead, and only one of the teens – Jesse Duvall – alive. The two attacks are so similar it’s hard to believe they’re not connected. But what is the connection? FBI Agent Sarah Keller is determined to uncover the truth…

The Night Shift is a very compelling psychological mystery with excellent characterisation, multiple intriguing points of view and a heart pounding ending. The story is told from three very different perspectives which makes for a riveting read. We have Ella who was the sole survivor of the 1999 Blockbuster attack. Ella is now a therapist helping other victims of trauma come to terms with what has happened to them. She’s also a mess, drinking and partying ’til the early hours whilst her unknowing fiancé is away from home. FBI Agent Sarah Keller is working with the local police force to find a link between the massacre in ’99 and the more recent ice cream parlour attack. I really liked Sarah and would go as far as saying she was my favourite character. However, she’s 8.5 months pregnant with twins and I can’t help but feel that were this not fiction, she wouldn’t be chasing down the bad guys and driving in high speed car chases! It’s also worth mentioning that this is the second (maybe more, I don’t know for sure) appearance Agent Keller has made in one of this author’s books but I didn’t discover that until I’d finished reading. It didn’t make a jot of difference to me. I felt the author told me everything I needed to know. There were no holes in her story. The third point of view is Chris Ford’s, formerly Chris Whitaker. Chris’s older brother, Vincent, was initially arrested for the Blockbuster attack fifteen years ago but the police let him slip through their fingers. Vincent hasn’t been seen since but could he be responsible for this latest attack? Chris is now a lawyer and is determined to find his brother and prove his innocence. The characters are all very well drawn, they’re interesting and really play their part in the story well.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Night Shift is a compelling mystery which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I would pick up another of this author’s books without a moment’s hesitation. In fact, I’ve already added Every Last Fear to my wish list as I’ve been told how good it is by several trusted bloggers. The Night Shift is a well-plotted, well-written tale which had me glued to the pages wondering how things were going to turn out for the characters. And what a magnificent ending! I loved it, every single nail-biting second. Marvellous stuff! The Night Shift was a fantastic introduction to an author I will make a point of reading again. Gripping, compelling and very intriguing. Recommended.

The Night Shift by Alex Finlay was published in the UK by Aries Fiction on 1st September 2022 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 |

Alex FinlayAlex Finlay is the pseudonym of an author who lives in Washington, D.C. His 2021 breakout thriller, Every Last Fear, was an Indie Next pick, a LibraryReads selection, an Amazon Editor’s Best Thriller, as well as a CNN, Newsweek, E!, BuzzFeed, Business Week, Goodreads, Parade, PopSugar, and Reader’s Digest best or most anticipated thriller of the year. Alex’s work has been translated into more than a dozen languages and optioned for film and television.

#BookReview: The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell @TransworldBooks @cobaltdinosaur #TheStrangerTimes #damppebbles #GuestReview

“There are dark forces at work in our world (and in Manchester in particular), so thank God The Stranger Times is on hand to report them . . .

A weekly newspaper dedicated to the weird and the wonderful (but mostly the weird), it is the go-to publication for the unexplained and inexplicable.

At least that’s their pitch. The reality is rather less auspicious. Their editor is a drunken, foul-tempered and foul-mouthed husk of a man who thinks little of the publication he edits. His staff are a ragtag group of misfits. And as for the assistant editor . . . well, that job is a revolving door – and it has just revolved to reveal Hannah Willis, who’s got problems of her own.

When tragedy strikes in her first week on the job The Stranger Times is forced to do some serious investigating. What they discover leads to a shocking realisation: some of the stories they’d previously dismissed as nonsense are in fact terrifyingly real. Soon they come face-to-face with darker forces than they could ever have imagined.

The Stranger Times is the first novel from C.K. McDonnell, the pen name of Caimh McDonnell. It combines his distinctive dark wit with his love of the weird and wonderful to deliver a joyous celebration of how truth really can be stranger than fiction.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am handing the blog over to my guest reviewer, Ryan, who is going to share his thoughts on The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell. The Stranger Times was published by Transworld Books on 6th January 2022 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats.

Over to Ryan to find out what he thought…

The Stranger Times is the first book in the Stranger Times series by C.K. McDonnell, published in January 2022, the sequel, This Charming Man, has already been published with the third book, Love Will Tear Us Apart, to follow in early 2023.  The Stranger Times is set in Manchester and revolves around the highly dysfunctional workforce of a low circulation newspaper which focuses more on UFOs, ghosts and monster sightings than who is this weeks prime minister!

This initial story centres around Hannah Willis. Recently divorced and looking for a new start in life she applies for a job as assistant editor at a paper she knows very little about.  The characterisation in this novel is absolutely wonderful. Each character is deep, flawed and relatable (although if you relate to the main villain of the piece then it may be time to reconsider things!).  Hannah is a brilliant character with the fatalistic energy of Arthur Dent from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. She is thrown into a world so far removed from what she is used to, but somehow adapts to whatever life throws at her.  Her Editor, Vincent Banecroft, is the type of boss that any company with a functional HR Department would have got rid of years ago, but The Stranger Times doesn’t have much that is functional at all. Whether it’s the Editor, journalists or the printing press itself!  Her new colleagues are a mixed bunch – from the irrepressible office manager Grace, who somehow keeps the unmanageable managed, through to the journalists Ox and Reggie. Reporting duo’s are often fictionally portrayed as fearless, intuitive and knowledgeable yet our team are more at home pursuing possessed toilets than investigating real danger on their doorstep.

No newspaper is complete without a major story to pursue and when a friend of the paper meets an untimely demise in suspicious circumstances, the misfits of the Times decide to investigate in their own inimitable way. They don’t trust the police to pursue all lines of enquiry, particularly when that line of enquiry involves ‘facts’ which seem too fantastical to even the most open minded of journalists.

I am delighted that this book is the start of a series, and I can only hope it is more than the three titles already available to us readers! The characters, setting and story were wonderful. An escapist fantasy set in one of the grittiest parts of Manchester.  Wonderful storytelling with laugh out loud moments. McDonnell has set a new benchmark for quality urban fantasy that other authors will be compared to. 

Without a doubt I would recommend The Stranger Times to anyone looking for a book that will provide escapism, humour and a great story.  I cannot wait to read This Charming Man and find out more about the characters’ backstories during their new vampire based adventure. Certainly my most enjoyable book of the year and the start of a series that I am so excited about.

The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell was published by Transworld Books on 6th January 2022 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 shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

C. K. McDonnellC.K. McDonnell is the paranormal pen name of the Irish bestselling author Caimh McDonnell. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, Caimh is a former stand-up comedian and TV writer. He performed all around the world, had several well-received Edinburgh shows and supported acts such as Sarah Millican and Gary Delaney on tour before hanging up his clowning shoes to concentrate on writing. He has also written for numerous TV shows and been nominated for a Kid’s TV BAFTA.

When not writing about the adventures of the staff at The Stranger Times in his adopted home of Manchester, he is the author of the Increasingly Inaccurately titled Dublin Trilogy of books and the various spinoffs, all of which have been Amazon bestsellers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Caimh lives in Manchester with Wonderwife and their two dogs. To find out more about him, visit whitehairedirishman.com, and to find out more about The Stranger Times, and to join the mailing list for updates plus a free short story collection, go to TheStrangerTimes.com.

Also check out The Stranger Times podcast, available almost everywhere, and featuring short stories set in the world of The Stranger Times, written by C.K. and read by some of the finest stand-up comedian talent that are willing to do it for the money.

WWW Wednesday | 14th December 2022 #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?

Devil’s Way (Kate Marshall #4) by Robert Bryndza
THE TRUTH HIDES IN THE DARK

Kate Marshall’s investigation into a young boy’s disappearance sends her down an unexpectedly twisted path in a riveting thriller by multi-million bestselling author, Robert Bryndza. 

When Private Investigator Kate Marshall is rushed to hospital after being pulled into a riptide current in the sea, the near-death experience leaves her shaken. During her recovery, she befriends Jean, an elderly lady on the same ward. Jean tells the harrowing story of how her three-year-old grandson, Charlie, went missing eleven years ago during a camping trip on Dartmoor.

By the time Kate is well enough to go home, she’s agreed to take on the case, but when Kate and her trusty sidekick Tristan start to look at the events of that fateful night, they discover that Jean has a dark past that could have put Charlie in jeopardy.

Was Charlie abducted? Or did he fall into Devil’s Way? A rushing river that vanishes into a gorge close to where they were camping.

When Kate and Tristan discover that a social worker who flagged concerns about Jean and her daughter was found brutally murdered shortly after Charlie vanished, it makes them question everything they thought they knew about the family…


What did you recently finish reading?

Dead Man’s Creek by Chris Hammer
Old bones sink – but secrets always rise to the surface.

Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her hometown, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder – a ‘file and forget’.

But this is no ordinary cold case, her arrival provoking an unwelcome and threatening response from the small-town community. As more bodies are discovered, and she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her, Nell realises that finding the truth could prove more difficult – and dangerous – than she’d ever expected.

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more treacherous her path becomes. Can she survive to root out the truth, and what price will she have to pay for it?

Gripping and atmospheric, Dead Man’s Creek is a stunning multi-layered thriller from Chris Hammer, the award-winning author of Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year Scrublands (2019) and Times Crime Book of the Month Opal Country (January 2022).

Kill For It by Lizzie Fry
How far would you go for the thing you want most?
Would you… kill for it?

Cat Crawford is not especially good at her job.
 
Erin Goodman is the woman Cat wants to be when she’s older – smart, successful, and the best part? She’s earned it – nothing was ever handed to Erin on a plate, or to Cat.

But Erin doesn’t notice Cat. Not until something awful happens and Cat, finding herself in the right place at the right time, writes the article that goes viral. Now she’s got Erin’s attention.

The difference is, Cat knows Erin is onto her. And Cat is more than happy to toy with her colleague, especially if it gets her an even bigger story to report on.

In the game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.


What do you think you’ll read next?

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she’s always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they’re as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.

One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn’t felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind—and Patricia has already invited him in. 
 
Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted—including the book club—but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighbourly kindness gone wrong.

#BookReview: Hunting Evil by Chris Carter #HuntingEvil #damppebbles

Every story has a beginning…

They met for the first time in college. Two of the brightest minds ever to graduate from the prestigious Stanford University. They met again in Quantico, Virginia. Robert Hunter has become the head of the LAPD’s Ultra Violent Crimes Unit. Lucien Folter has become the most prolific and dangerous serial killer in FBI history.

Hunter caught Lucien. He’s been in prison for years. But Lucien has just escaped. And he’s angry. He’s going to make the man who put him away suffer.
 .
That person … is Robert Hunter.

And every story must come to an end…

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Hunting Evil (Detective Robert Hunter #10) by Chris Carter. Hunting Evil was published by Simon & Schuster on 19th March 2020 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats.

For those of you with a good memory you may recall that Hunting Evil was one of the books I chose for my 20 Books of Summer Challenge this year. (Let’s face it, no one but me is gonna remember that, but still… 😂.) Carter’s Robert Hunter series is one of my very favourite crime series (I know, how many times can you use the word ‘series’ in one sentence?) out there, so I was a little disappointed I didn’t manage to get around to it. But I did promise in my challenge wrap up post that I would put the effort into reading the handful of books I missed. Which meant this was the first book I selected when a short break in my reading schedule came up. It’s the tenth book in the series and in a way (which the author discusses himself at the start of the novel) it’s a sequel to An Evil Mind (Robert Hunter #6). To get the full impact of this book I think it’s important that you’re familiar with the characters of An Evil Mind, the history between them and the background they share.

Lucien Folter, ex friend and college roommate of Detective Robert Hunter and now the most evil serial killer on US soil, has escaped from a high security prison leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. After Hunter finally managed to capture Folter several years ago, Folter has been biding his time, waiting for the perfect moment to make his escape. And what an escape it was! Now all Folter wants is to be reunited with the man responsible for his incarceration and his number one obsession, Detective Hunter. He intends to make Robert’s life hell on earth and he’ll stop at nothing to achieve that. And he’ll enjoy every single second of Robert’s suffering. Detective Hunter will pay the ultimate price….

I LOVE the Robert Hunter series. It’s one I always recommend to readers looking for a action-packed, thrilling read. It’s dark and gruesome, all the things I love in a book! I love this series. But I struggled with Hunting Evil. First off, these books tend to be a little fantastical in parts but in this latest instalment, I feel the author (who I respect and admire greatly) went a little OTT. Certain events felt a lot more theatrical than they normally are and that left me shaking me head with a frown on my face.

For those that haven’t read any of the books in the series Robert Hunter is a highly intelligent, highly driven man who sees the solution to problems others don’t. I would LOVE to see Robert’s character move on and develop from that a little. I’m beginning to find him quite flat and one dimensional. He feels very robotic to me but I can see why that appeals to readers and why the author writes Hunter that way. Perhaps this isn’t a series for me anymore, which makes me terribly sad. Other characters in the book are well-written and my love for Robert’s partner in the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit, Carlos Garcia, continues to grow.

Would I recommend this book? If you’ve read An Evil Mind, don’t mind stories with a large dollop of artistic license and you’re looking for a book that will entertain from start to finish then yes, I would recommend Hunting Evil. I’m glad I’ve read it. I certainly won’t be giving up on the series yet and I am definitely in the minority here looking at the plethora of five stars on Goodreads. Believe me when I say, this is one of my favourite crime series. If you’d like proof here’s my review of book eight in the series, The Caller. Carter is not afraid to turn his readers’ tummies with a spot of gore here and there, the action never stops and the author always comes up with the most fascinating and unique ways to kill lesser characters off. There is no one else out there doing what Chris Carter is with his series. No one. These books make great reading and I still stand by that. This one just wasn’t for me.

Hunting Evil by Chris Carter was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 19th March 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.uk | WaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Chris CarterBiographies can be an absolute drag, so I won’t bore anyone with a long life story.

I was born in Brasilia, Brazil where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, I moved to the USA where I studied psychology with specialization in criminal behaviour. During my University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all male exotic dancing group.

I worked as a criminal psychologist for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where I swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well-known glam rock bands, I decided to try my luck in London, where I was fortunate enough to have played for a number of famous artists. I toured the world several times as a professional musician.

A few years ago I gave it all up to become a full-time writer.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook |

#R3COMM3ND3D2022 The After Show Party #BookBlogger #Author #Bookstagram #writingcommunity #bookcommunity #Publishedin2022 #MustReadBooks #booktwt #WhatToRead #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #amreading #amreviewing

Hello bookish friends and welcome to the social highlight of the year (🤔 if I keep saying it, it must be true, right?!), the #R3COMM3ND3D2022 after show party! The annual-ish recap of everything #R3COMM3ND3D where we get to gaze fondly upon the books that were chosen by twenty-nine brilliant bookish types (plus me) and announce the winner or…*audible gasp*…winners!

Of course, if you’re new to the blog you may be wondering what #R3COMM3ND3D is, so allow me to explain. It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors, book bloggers and bookstagrammers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2022.

Waaaaaay back at the start of November book blogger Lorna of On The Shelf Reviews kicked things off for us with three cracking recommendations. By the time the feature finished on 30th November thirty days had passed and twenty-nine brilliant bookish folk (plus me) had recommended the grand total of 86 books. Eighty-six recommendations is pretty epic, right? Particularly as this year’s #R3C was a shortened, mini version.

So, let’s gaze upon the beautiful #R3COMM3ND3D2022 covers in all their splendiferous glory. Aren’t they gorgeous?!

A thing of beauty, I’m sure you’ll agree! If you took part in #R3COMM3ND3D2022 and the books you chose aren’t here then please get in touch.

You can read all of the individual posts by clicking HERE and scrolling down to 2022 or, if the thought of scrolling feels like a lot of effort, click HERE instead.

But let’s talk winners and find out what the most #R3COMM3ND3D book, or books, of 2022 were. A combination of a much shorter #R3C and the high quality of reading material published this year meant that there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for one book to rise above the rest. So 2022’s most #R3COMM3ND3D book is actually FOUR books! I give you our #R3COMM3ND3D2022 winners – the most recommended books of the year!

🏆 Huge congratulations to The Girl from Guernica by Karen Robards (MIRA), Nothing Else by Louise Beech (Orenda Books), Love and Other Human Errors by Bethany Clift (Hodder & Stoughton) and WAKE by Shelley Burr (Hodder & Stoughton) 🏆

Four very deserving titles which I hope you’ll keep an eye out for and add to your reading list at the first opportunity. One of these beauties I’ve read, the other three are going straight on the TBR. Have you read any of these cracking novels? What about the other #R3COMM3ND3D2022 books? How many do you have on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

#R3COMM3ND3D will return next year in the form of #R3COMM3ND3D2023 (🤩) and you can help influence how it will run! If you’ve taken part in #R3COMM3ND3D since it began in 2017 and have 20 seconds to spare, please complete this survey (it’s so short, blink and you’ll miss it!): https://forms.gle/gBCgTVVwwhtLmQ4q7

The biggest of thanks to all of the book bloggers, bookstagrammers and authors who took part in #R3COMM3ND3D2022 and whittled their favourite reads down to three (an impossible task, I know!). Thank you for all of the likes, retweets, shares and comments – every single one is always appreciated. And enormous thanks to everyone who has filled in the survey so far (all six of you 😂). I’m hugely grateful for your feedback and the incredibly kind comments about the feature (although there is NO pressure to add a comment – you can skip that bit if you’re in a hurry).

Your support means everything to me and I’ll be forever grateful for the love a crazy idea I had six years ago has received from the book community. Book people really are THE BEST PEOPLE! 💜💜💜

Now’s let paaaarrrrtttttty!

Paul Rudd Reaction GIF by Saturday Night Live

WWW Wednesday | 7th December 2022 #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?

Dead Man’s Creek by Chris Hammer
Old bones sink – but secrets always rise to the surface.

Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her hometown, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder – a ‘file and forget’.

But this is no ordinary cold case, her arrival provoking an unwelcome and threatening response from the small-town community. As more bodies are discovered, and she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her, Nell realises that finding the truth could prove more difficult – and dangerous – than she’d ever expected.

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more treacherous her path becomes. Can she survive to root out the truth, and what price will she have to pay for it?

Gripping and atmospheric, Dead Man’s Creek is a stunning multi-layered thriller from Chris Hammer, the award-winning author of Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year Scrublands (2019) and Times Crime Book of the Month Opal Country (January 2022).


What did you recently finish reading?

Black Widows by Cate Quinn
Aged nineteen, devout Rachel marries fundamentalist Mormon, Blake Nelson, and moves to a remote homestead in rural Utah. Isolated and alone, Rachel obeys her husband’s advice to keep sweet and prepare for End of Days.

Soon after their disappointing wedding night, Blake takes his second wife – emotionally-troubled, jailbait, Emily. Though it’s not until the arrival of third wife Tina, a reformed junkie-stripper from Vegas, that the bitter rivalry sets in.

Out in the desert, the only thing the sister-wives have in common is an obsession with their righteous husband. Until, that is, Blake’s body is found, brutally murdered near his favourite fishing spot, his wedding finger missing.

As police dig deeper, it seems a hot-bed of bitter tensions bubble beneath the pious Mormon exterior. Blake’s sister-wives just couldn’t keep sweet. But which was capable of murder?

Inspired by true events, this gripping tale of religious polygamy peeks under the covers of a real-life Mormon fundamentalist cult.


What do you think you’ll read next?

Kill For It by Lizzie Fry
How far would you go for the thing you want most?
Would you… kill for it?

Cat Crawford is not especially good at her job.

Erin Goodman is the woman Cat wants to be when she’s older – smart, successful, and the best part? She’s earned it – nothing was ever handed to Erin on a plate, or to Cat.

But Erin doesn’t notice Cat. Not until something awful happens and Cat, finding herself in the right place at the right time, writes the article that goes viral. Now she’s got Erin’s attention.

The difference is, Cat knows Erin is onto her. And Cat is more than happy to toy with her colleague, especially if it gets her an even bigger story to report on.

In the game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg @MichaelJBooks #NobodyButUs #damppebbles

“He’s a well-respected college professor. She’s a young and eager-to-please student.

He knows she would do anything for him. She knows his certainty is his weakness

He thinks he’ll get what he wants. She thinks he’ll get exactly what he needs.

Two liars.
One twisted path.
A game of cat and mouse.
BUT WHO IS THE HUNTER? AND WHO IS THE PREY?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg. Nobody But Us was published by Penguin Michael Joseph in paperback format on 10th November 2022. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Nobody But Us but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Jen and Sriya at Penguin Michael Joseph for sending me a proof copy.

THIS BOOK! As soon as I laid eyes on Laure Van Rensburg’s debut thriller I knew I had to read it. That cover is glorious, the blurb is so utterly intriguing and the tagline was pretty unforgettable – meet 2022’s most f*cked up couple! I couldn’t wait to get stuck into Nobody But Us and oh boy, it delivered on every count and more.

Ellie and Steven have finally managed to find a gap in their busy schedules to get away for a few days and celebrate their six month anniversary. They’re heading to an isolated cabin in the woods, many miles away from the hustle and bustle of New York. It will be the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together and really get to know each other. A perfect weekend for a perfect couple. Except, that’s not quite the truth. Ellie and Steven are far from perfect. They both have secrets. They’re both liars…

Dark and intoxicating, Nobody But Us is an exquisite yet deeply unsettling read which pulled me into its pages instantly and didn’t let go until the brutal end. The tension the author conveys is palpable. I felt as though I was on a precipice and at any moment the ground could fall away beneath my feet. Who would make it out of the cabin alive? Would either of them? Both of them? Neither of them? The drama was pinpoint sharp, the dance of these two adversaries towards the denouement, full of danger and anger, was utterly compelling. I didn’t want to be parted from this story for any amount of time but when I was, it was ALL I could think about.

Told in the present with flashbacks to the past, the author ensures the reader gets the full uncomfortable picture of what led these two characters to this point. And with a small cast of characters we really get to know the bones of Van Rensburg’s creations. The propulsive plot and with suspense building throughout it felt as though I was watching a movie play out before me. Precariously balanced on the edge of my seat and with my heart in my mouth.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Nobody But Us is an exceptional debut and I’m excited to see what this author publishes next. Very unsettling, hugely character driven – just how I like my thrillers – and near impossible to be parted from for any length of time. The pace of the novel draws the reader into the story and puts you on edge immediately. You never really know what direction the author is going to take next and as an avid reader of thrillers, that is a wonderful thing! I loved the isolated setting (also a fan of thrillers where help is nowhere near) and the perfectly placed twists and turns. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Nobody But Us. I found it refreshing, sophisticated and utterly captivating. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Nobody But Us. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg was published in the UK by Penguin Michael Joseph on 10th November 2022 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop | damppebbles amazon.co.uk shop | damppebbles amazon.com shop |

Laure Van RensburgLaure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 & 2019 Bath Short Story Award.

#BookReview: Bone White by Ronald Malfi @KensingtonBooks #BoneWhite #damppebbles

“A landscape of frozen darkness punctuated by grim, gray days.
The feeling like a buzz in your teeth.

The scrape of bone on bone. . .

Paul Gallo saw the report on the news: a mass murderer leading police to his victims graves, in remote Dread s Hand, Alaska.

It’s not even a town; more like the bad memory of a town. The same bit of wilderness where his twin brother went missing a year ago. As the bodies are exhumed, Paul travels to Alaska to get closure and put his grief to rest.

But the mystery is only beginning. What Paul finds are superstitious locals who talk of the devil stealing souls, and a line of wooden crosses to keep what s in the woods from coming out. He finds no closure because no one can explain exactly what happened to Danny.

And the more he searches for answers, the more he finds himself becoming part of the mystery. . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Bone White by Ronald Malfi. Bone White was published by Kensington Publishing on 25th July 2017 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats.

In the last couple of years I have become a huge fan of Ronald Malfi’s writing. So much so, the author’s latest book – Black Mouth – was one of the three books I chose for my #R3COMM3ND3D2022 post yesterday. Both Come With Me and Black Mouth are exceptional, unforgettable horror reads which I strongly recommend you pick up if you’re a fan of the genre. And if you’re a lover of short stories you won’t go wrong with Ghostwritten which is also excellent. So of course I was going to delve into this author’s back catalogue and visit a few of their earlier books. Bone White is the first of Malfi’s earlier books I have managed to get a copy of. But based on my enjoyment of this, and the author’s more recent works, it certainly won’t be the last!

When a bedraggled yet vaguely familiar face makes an unexpected appearance in the local diner one night muttering and covered in blood, the locals of Dread’s Hand are shocked. When he speaks of killing people and willingly leads detectives to the burial site, the spotlight falls on the small Alaskan town. Paul Gallo is desperate to find his twin brother Danny whose last known location was on the outskirts of Dread’s Hand. Seeing the news reports of the serial killer and watching the footage of the forensic teams excavating the burial site is too much for Paul. He packs a bag and heads straight to Alaska. But on arrival Paul discovers Dread’s Hand is like no other town. The locals are hostile and secretive, no one speaks of the horrors uncovered in the woods and he can’t help but notice the lines of crosses placed near the edge of the woodland. To find closure Paul needs to discover if his brother was one of the serial killer’s victims. But Dread’s Hand and its strange residents aren’t going to make life easy for him…

Bone White once again proves to the reader what an exceptionally talented writer Ronald Malfi is. The setting, the characters and the plot couldn’t have been any better. They were moulded and sculpted into the best versions of themselves giving the reader an unforgettable reading experience. It seems to be something this author achieves time and time again. I saw some similarities between the town in Black Mouth and Dread’s Hand. The thing that stood out the most though was how Dread’s Hand is as much a character in the story as Paul, or Detective Jill Ryerson are. It felt as though it was a living, breathing, terrifying thing which I, of course, LOVED!

The plot is well paced keeping the reader within the story and turning the pages late into the night. Although, the more I progressed into the book, the more unsure I became about reading just before bed. Paul’s story is a chilling, creepy one with a well-written sense of impending doom which had me imagining all sorts of nasties before I turned out the light!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re a horror reader and you haven’t experienced Bone White then that needs to change. Paul is a such a well-crafted character that he felt real to me. I could feel his grief, his desire for answers no matter what that meant, for closure of any description. And despite the last turbulent years of their relationship, the strong brotherly bond between the twins. I loved the small town feel of the novel, the way the community turned their back on Paul and the isolation he experienced. This is another cracking novel from a favourite author of mine who excels at writing the three key elements of a novel: place, character and plot. The author really knows how to tell a riveting and compulsive story. Reading a Ronald Malfi novel is always an experience, a memorable one at that, and I don’t think as readers we can ask for anything more! Highly recommended.

Bone White by Ronald Malfi was published by Kensington Publishing on 25th July 2017 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop | damppebbles amazon.co.uk shop | damppebbles amazon.com shop |

Ronald Damien MalfiRonald Malfi is the award-winning author of several horror novels, mysteries, and thrillers. He is the recipient of two Independent Publisher Book Awards, the Beverly Hills Book Award, the Vincent Preis Horror Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, and his novel Floating Staircase was a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Maryland and tweets at @RonaldMalfi

#R3COMM3ND3D2022 with Me! #BookBlogger Emma @damppebbles #BookRecommendations #publishedin2022 #booktwt #whattoread #damppebbles

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. It’s so lovely to see you! I hope your Wednesday is going well so far. It’s day 30 of #R3COMM3ND3D2022 and the final day of this year’s series 😭 I can’t believe it’s over already! The last month has flown past but what a beautiful book-filled month it’s been. I’ve enjoyed every single moment of #R3COMM3ND3D2022 and I hope you have too, as well as adding a few books here and there to your TBR!

I decided to change a few things about #R3C this year and moved the deadline for submissions from December to early November. As a result, I wasn’t quite able to fill all 30 spots. So today, dear reader, I’ll be sharing my own three #R3COMM3ND3D2022 picks. We were so close. A mere squeak away, but I see that as a positive thing as I now get to talk to you about three books I LOVED this year. But first…

As mentioned, I made a few changes to #R3C this year and I would love to hear your thoughts about the shortened version. If you’ve taken part in #R3COMM3ND3D at any point over the last six years I would be enormously grateful if you could complete this very short survey. I promise it won’t take very long. There are only four questions and they’re multiple choice: https://forms.gle/ZLAt6WyyWBGtjjai6

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2022? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors, book bloggers, reviewers and bookstagrammers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2022. To make things interesting there are a couple of teeny, tiny rules; 1) the book must have FIRST been published in 2022 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes 😉

Here are the three books I recommend…

WAKE by Shelley Burr
Oh. My. Word! I loved this book. Atmospheric, packed full of mystery and brimming with suspense. It’s an absolutely glorious debut which consumed my days and had me blurry eyed in the morning after staying up far too late to finish it! I was well and truly gripped by this compelling piece of well-written crime fiction and I savoured every single second I spent in Mina McCreery’s company. Beautifully tense, truly unforgettable and the ultimate page turner.
My Review of WAKE

More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez
More Than You’ll Ever Know is a superbly written debut which ticked all of the boxes for me. The entire book worked. But the characters, they were EVERYTHING. A sublime novel which, if you’re a fan of beautifully written literary mysteries you will devour. I was completely entranced and captivated by this stunning novel.
My Review of More Than You’ll Ever Know

Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi
Black Mouth is a captivating, emotional, yet creepy story of childhood trauma and how, as we get older, the nightmares we faced as children can still be just as frightening, the memories just as destructive. The characters are sublime, the setting was perfect and the writing is divine. Completely absorbing, totally immersive, I was addicted to this book from the moment I cracked the spine.
My Review of Black Mouth

I have so much love for these three books and I hope, should you get the chance to read any of them, that you love them as much as I do.

So that’s it for now. The 2022 series of #R3COMM3ND3D has sadly come to an end. The books have been chosen and revealed, and what a magnificent bunch they are! Make sure you keep an eye out for the After Show Party post which, if all goes to plan, should be with you in the next couple of weeks. We’ll take a look at all of the books chosen and reveal our winner (or winners). The biggest, heartfelt thanks to everyone who took part in the feature, and to everyone who shared, retweeted and liked the posts on Twitter and Instagram. The love #R3COMM3ND3D receives from the book community means the world to me.

*Psst* And if you’ve taken part in #R3C over the last 6 years please don’t forget to complete the survey: https://forms.gle/ZLAt6WyyWBGtjjai6. Thank you so much 🤗