#BookReview: My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones @TitanBooks #MyHeartisaChainsaw #damppebbles

“A gripping, bloody tribute to classic slasher cinema, final girls and our buried ghosts, combining Friday the 13th, the uncanny mastery of Shirley Jackson, and the razor wit of the Evil Dead.

The Jordan Peele of horror fiction turns his eye to classic slasher films: Jade is one class away from graduating high-school, but that’s one class she keeps failing local history. Dragged down by her past, her father and being an outsider, she’s composing her epic essay series to save her high-school diploma.

Jade’s topic? The unifying theory of slasher films. In her rapidly gentrifying rural lake town, Jade sees the pattern in recent events that only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror cinema could have prepared her for. And with the arrival of the Final Girl, Letha Mondragon, she’s convinced an irreversible sequence of events has been set into motion.

As tourists start to go missing, and the tension grows between her community and the celebrity newcomers building their mansions the other side of the Indian Lake, Jade prepares for the killer to rise. She dives deep into the town’s history, the tragic deaths than occurred at camp years ago, the missing tourists no one is even sure exist, and the murders starting to happen, searching for the answer.

As the small and peaceful town heads towards catastrophe, it all must come to a head on 4th July, when the town all gathers on the water, where luxury yachts compete with canoes and inflatables, and the final showdown between rich and poor, past and present, townsfolk and celebrities, slasher and Final Girl.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones. My Heart is a Chainsaw was published by Titan Books on 7th September 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of My Heart is a Chainsaw but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am addicted to slasher fiction. There’s no two ways about it. I am well and truly hooked on the idea, the concept and the execution (🤭). Books featuring a crazed serial killer, of this realm or…elsewhere…will always get my full, undivided attention. So my heart soared when I saw the latest book by Stephen Graham Jones. My Heart is a Chainsaw was an absolute must read for me, particularly as I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Final Girl by the same author (and I have The Only Good Indians waiting patiently for me on the TBR!).

Jade Daniels is the horror chick. She lives, breathes, dreams in horror movies. She loves all horror but slashers are her true obsession. Her knowledge is beyond encyclopaedic and it consumes every moment of her life. Which equips her perfectly to notice things happening in her small lake-side town that others may miss. Things which confirm, to Jade at least, that catastrophe is heading straight to Proofrock in the form of a slasher. Now all Jade has to do is convince everyone else before it’s too late…

You know when you read a book and it’s nothing like you expected it to be? That’s sort of where I am with My Heart is a Chainsaw. I really enjoyed the story, I adored Jade, the writing was powerful, chock-full of emotion and multi-layered. But I found it a little slow going to start with, which of course, isn’t a bad thing. Just unexpected having read another of the author’s books (which is actually a crazy thing for me to say as who writes the same book twice? That would be barmy!). My Heart is a Chainsaw is a true work of art though and it’s well worth picking up. I can’t imagine how long it took the author to write this novel – the care and attention, the precision, it all shines through.

Jade is a stones throw from failing high school so she composes a series of essays for her state history teacher, Mr Holmes, in return for extra credit. The subject matter is, of course, slasher movies which she intricately examines, pulling themes and explaining theories to her beleaguered teacher who is on the brink of retirement. These essays are a wonderful addition, informative and enlightening in their content. They run alongside Jade’s day to day dealings with the other residents of Proofrock and her investigation into what she believes is a certainty, the forthcoming slasher. I enjoyed the time I spent with Jade. I couldn’t help but like her. She’s the unpopular kid, the odd one who everyone keeps at a distance.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. My Heart is a Chainsaw is a beautifully written love letter to the slasher genre which I thoroughly enjoyed. I appreciated that the author has given his readers a chance to get to know Jade properly so you’re fully invested in the character as you approach the end of the book. The ending was sublime. Meticulous and so cleverly staged that I was fully in the moment, right by Jade’s side. I feel a little bereft now it’s all over but Jade will stay with me for some time to come. Gutsy, gruesome and utterly captivating. Emotional and really quite haunting. Recommended.

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

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones was published in the UK by Titan Books on 7th September 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Stephen Graham JonesBorn and raised in Texas. In Boulder, Colorado now. Forty-nine. Blackfeet. Into werewolves and slashers, zombies and vampires, haunted houses and good stories. Would wear pirate shirts a lot if I could find them. And probably carry some kind of sword.

#BookReview: Five Minds by Guy Morpuss @ViperBooks #FiveMinds #damppebbles

“SHARING A BODY CAN BE MURDER

The Earth’s spiralling population has finally been controlled. Lifespans are limited to eighty years, except for those who make an extreme choice: to become a commune. Five minds sharing one body, each living for four hours at a time. But with a combined lifespan of nearly 150 years.

Alex, Kate, Mike, Sierra and Ben have already spent twenty-five years together in what was once Mike’s body, their frequent personality clashes leading to endless bickering, countless arguments, and getting themselves stranded on a Russian Artic freighter. Wanting to buy upgrades for their next host body, they decide to travel to a Death Park where time can be gambled like money. But things go very wrong when Kate accepts a dangerous offer, and one of them disappears.

Someone is trying to kill off members of the commune. But why? Is one of them responsible? Or is an outsider playing a deadly game? It’s hard enough to catch a murderer. It’s almost impossible when you might be sharing a body with them…

This brilliant murder mystery blends classic crime with speculative fiction in a stunning debut.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Five Minds by Guy Morpuss. Five Minds was published by Viper Books yesterday (that’s Thursday 2nd September 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Five Minds but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to the team at Viper Books for sending me a proof copy.

Speculative fiction with a cracking, cleverly woven mystery to boot! Who could resist? Not me, that’s for sure. I haven’t dabbled in a lot of speculative fiction in the past but what I had read has been delightfully mind-bending and from the masters of the genre. Five Minds is no exception. Five Minds proves that Morpuss is up there with the greats. As my daughter would say…Mind. Blown 🤯

In a bid to reduce the ever-growing population of the earth, measures are put in place where at 17 years old you need to decide how you’re going to live the rest of your life. But also, when you’re going to die. The choices are simple: become a hedonist, play hard and die young at 41-42. Become a worker, work all of your life and drop down dead of exhaustion…at some point. Become an android, have your mind moved to an artificial body and die around 79-80. Or, the least popular option of all, become part of a commune. Five minds in one body, each taking 4 hours of the day as their own. Choose a host and then, 25 years later, choose another. But live for 141-142 years. That’s the decision Kate, Alex, Sierra, Mike and Ben make. From the moment they meet, it’s clear there are tensions amongst the group. When Kate makes a risky decision without consulting the others, strange things start to happen and one of the five disappears. Is someone out to kill the commune, or is the threat much closer to home…?

There are so many things to love about Five Minds. The author has set the action in a ‘death park’. The dark and dingy death parks are where the desperate gather to earn a few more years by eliminating (permanently) their competitor/s in a game of skill, strength or smarts. I loved the setting. It felt grubby and somewhere only those at the end of their tether go in a last ditch attempt to survive just a little bit longer (only to be killed in their first game!).

The characters, despite sharing the one body, all stand tall from the page. I was concerned, at points, that it may get a little confusing but that’s not the case at all. Kate was my favourite of the ‘minds’. She seemed to have her head screwed on (😂) and be the driving force, which I liked. I also really liked Sierra for her dark and dangerous edge. I shouldn’t. She’s a terrible person who does some pretty heinous, unforgivable things but I liked the juxtaposition between her and Kate. I felt they were opposite ends of the spectrum. Five Minds is very easy to read, either in one sitting or over the course of several. All I know is that I was always keen to return to this strange and inventive world.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Five Minds is like nothing I have read before and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I spent with it. Cleverly plotted and beautifully thought out. The author’s imagination is clearly off the scale and I loved being part of this strange, new world. A pacey, intelligent story with a clever, twisty mystery at its heart. Effortlessly crossing genres, this speculative fiction murder mystery is a must read! I look forward to reading more genre-bending fiction from Mr Morpuss in the future. Recommended.

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

Five Minds by Guy Morpuss was published in the UK by Viper Books on 2nd September 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Guy Morpuss

Guy is a London-based barrister whose cases have featured drug-taking cyclists, dead Formula 1 champions and aspiring cemetery owners.

His favourite books involve taking a twist on reality, and playing with the consequences. Which led to his debut novel, FIVE MINDS, about five people sharing one body – possibly with a murderer.

His second novel, BLACK LAKE, will be published in 2022.

He is currently working on his third novel, HIGHLIGHTS.

Guy lives near Farnham, England, with his wife and two sons. When not writing he can usually be found walking or running in the Surrey Hills.

#BookReview: The Chateau by Catherine Cooper @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #TheChateau #damppebbles

“They thought it was perfect. They were wrong…

A glamorous chateau

Aura and Nick don’t talk about what happened in England. They’ve bought a chateau in France to make a fresh start, and their kids need them to stay together – whatever it costs.

A couple on the brink

The expat community is welcoming, but when a neighbour is murdered at a lavish party, Aura and Nick don’t know who to trust.

A secret that is bound to come out…

Someone knows exactly why they really came to the chateau. And someone is going to give them what they deserve.

The Sunday Times bestseller is back with a rollercoaster read, perfect for fans of Lucy Foley and Ruth Ware.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Chateau by Catherine Cooper. The Chateau is published in digital format by HarperCollins today (that’s Tuesday 31st August 2021) and will be available in audio and paperback from Thursday 2nd September. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Chateau but that has in no way influenced my review.

Holy moly, The Chateau packed a bigger punch than I expected! I have Cooper’s debut crime thriller, The Chalet, on my TBR thanks to a number of very positive reviews from fellow bloggers. So when I saw the author’s latest book, The Chateau, available to request on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it! And I’m so glad I did. The Chateau is a wonderfully tense and compelling book which I struggled to put down.

Aura and Nick’s marriage is struggling. Following an incident in London, they’ve decided to start afresh and move to the French countryside with the aim of renovating a crumbling chateau and turning it into a chambre d’hôtes. It’s Aura’s dream come true and she’s keen to raise their two young sons in such an idyllic setting. But when one of their neighbours is murdered, uncomfortable questions need to be asked. The local ex-pat community is put under a spotlight and the newcomers don’t feel safe anymore. After all, they’ve got lots to hide from their new friends. Several devastating secrets which could change everything. But someone knows. And it’s time to make Aura and Nick pay…

The Chateau is a deliciously dark read which I thoroughly enjoyed. With lots of well-drawn characters to loathe and lots of beautifully uncomfortable situations, it was an absolute delight to lose myself in! I never knew what was round the corner for Aura and Nick and was on the edge of my seat waiting for the next well-timed, dark revelation to be dropped.

Aura and Nick aren’t the most likable of lead characters but oh boy, they’re very well-written, eliciting from me all of the emotions I hope the author wanted me to feel. Both characters made my blood boil for different reasons, both were horribly flawed and I absolutely delighted in disliking them! As the story progresses and as the reader discovers more about this couple, you can’t help but want them to fall from grace. Get their comeuppance and suffer, just a tiny bit. But what I’ve discovered from reading my first Catherine Cooper novel is that this author isn’t afraid to push the boundaries and take things a step further than some other writers would. And I loved that. I really, really loved that!

Written in three parts, the reader gets to discover exactly what the ‘incident’ in London was and it’s a shocker. The build up to and the devastating aftereffects of one stupid mistake are covered in page-turning detail. My heart broke for one of the characters, and I despised another with all my being! I couldn’t stop reading, I had to know how things were going to end.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Chateau is a hugely addictive and compulsive read which hooked me in. I couldn’t tear myself away from this one and I’ll be thinking about it for a while to come. I ADORED the ending. Perfection. I love it when an author is able to completely surprise me and Cooper did just that. The Chateau delivered in spades from start to finish. I revelled in my dislike of Aura and Nick, more so as the book progressed. A fantastically dark page-turner which I highly recommend.

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

The Chateau by Catherine Copper was published by HarperCollins on 2nd September 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Catherine CooperI am a freelance journalist living in the South of France with my husband and two teenage children. We moved from London in 2009 so that the children could grow up bilingual and we could all ski more, and to enjoy a more relaxed pace of life.

I learned to ski on a school trip when I was 14 and have loved it ever since.

I’m an avid thriller reader and have been since I discovered Agatha Christie as a child.

The Chalet is my first published full-length novel, though I have also written several (unpublished) thrillers for teens and a (what used to be called) chick lit novel set in TV production.

Other than skiing and reading I love travel, theme parks (the pic on this page was taken on a rollercoaster in Spain) and I spend far too much time on social media. Some of my other favourite things include Alan Partridge, sparkly flip flops and salt and vinegar crisps.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney @HQstories #RockPaperScissors #damppebbles

“Ten years of marriage.
Ten years of secrets.
An anniversary they’ll never forget.

Adam and Amelia are spending the weekend in the Scottish Highlands. The remote location is perfect for what they have planned.

But when their romantic trip takes a dark turn, they both start to wonder – can they trust the one they’re with?

Because every couple tells little white lies. Only for Adam and Amelia, the truth is far more dangerous.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the Rock Paper Scissors blog tour and sharing my review. Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney will be published on Thursday (that’s 19th August 2021) by HQ and will be available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Rock Paper Scissors but that has in no way influenced my review.

I just couldn’t resist. If you’ve read a novel by Alice Feeney before then you’ll just know. If you haven’t read anything by her yet then you’ve gotta get that sorted. Alice Feeney is an utter genius when it comes to the killer twist and every book I’ve read by this author, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. A beautiful blend of domestic drama and psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Amelia and Adam Wright are heading north to the Scottish Highlands for a romantic weekend away with their aging pup, Bob. There’s a lot riding on the weekend. Both sides have their secrets. Both sides have a hidden agenda. On arrival at their destination, a converted and isolated chapel, the place is eerily quiet. Something about the building doesn’t feel right. Before long, strange things start to happen. Tension between the couple increases, what little trust they have between them crumbles. Because the truth is out to make them pay…

Rock Paper Scissors is an eminently readable and highly absorbing book which I thoroughly enjoyed. I do love a secluded, snowy setting and the author gave me chills with her spooky isolated chapel on the banks of a loch. The characters’ desperate and rapidly increasing need to escape the chapel was marvellous and really added to the fear factor. Amelia and Adam are brilliantly written. Adam is instantly unlikable as he has a bit of a superiority complex believing himself to be cleverer of the couple. I couldn’t make my mind up about Amelia. I felt sorry for her at times for having to put up with her obnoxious and self-important husband, but my feelings towards her seemed to change quite dramatically as I progressed through the story.

The reader gets to hear from both Adam and Amelia as their situation spirals out of control. We also get a glimpse into the past in the form of private letters written to Adam every anniversary along with their gifts to each other (using the traditional markers for wedding anniversaries: paper, cotton, leather etc). Initially rosy, things start to decline as the years progress. Taking us up to the present day in all its shocking glory!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Rock Paper Scissors is a twisty, thrilling read which had me gripped from the start. Feeney has done it again and produced another very compulsive novel where she successfully pulls the wool over her reader’s eyes. And damn, she does it with such style! If you’re a fan of the psychological thriller you need to add Alice Feeney to your ‘must read’ list. You won’t regret it! Deliciously devious and a proper page-turner. Recommended.

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

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney was published in the UK by HQ on 19th August 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Alice Feeney is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. Her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, was an international bestseller, has been translated into over twenty languages, and is being made into a TV series by Warner Bros. starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. His & Hers is also being adapted for screen by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films. Alice was a BBC Journalist for fifteen years, and now lives in the British countryside with her family. Rock Paper Scissors is her fourth novel and is being made into a TV series for Netflix by the producer of The Crown. It will be published around the world in 2021.

#BookReview: The Heights by Louise Candlish @simonschusterUK #TheHeights #damppebbles

FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF OUR HOUSE, WINNER OF THE CRIME & THRILLER BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD, COMES A NAIL-BITING STORY OF REVENGE, OBSESSION AND VERTIGO.

He thinks he’s safe up there. But he’ll never be safe from you.

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Tower Bridge, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him.

Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.

Because you’re the one who killed him. It’s time to confess what we did up there.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Heights by Louise Candlish. The Heights is published by Simon & Schuster today (that’s Thursday 5th August 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Heights but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’m ashamed to admit that The Heights is only the second book by this author I have read (most of her other crime/psychological thrillers ARE on my terrifying TBR waiting patiently for me). But one thing I know for sure, after having only read two of Candlish’s books, is that you are in for one helluva treat when you pick up one of her novels. Expertly crafted, totally absorbing and utterly readable. The Heights was no exception.

Lighting consultant and high place phenomenon (HPP) sufferer, Ellen Saint, is doing her best to avoid looking out of the window, reminding herself to concentrate on her latest client’s lighting needs, when something catches her eye. Looking out of the window, Ellen glances across to the penthouse suite of The Heights, an exclusive apartment building with a private roof terrace, and sees someone she never expected to see. Kieran Watts. The man who caused Ellen such extreme heartache and grief is standing on top of the building opposite. But that can’t be true because Kieran Watts is dead. Ellen killed him…

The Heights is hugely compulsive and draws the reader in from the get-go. Ellen’s grief and her thirst for revenge is a living and breathing entity and once you’re in, you’ll definitely want to stick around to see where the author takes you. Ellen is a fascinating character who is expertly written. I may not have liked her but I certainly sympathised with her. How can you ever get over the loss of a child?

Shortly after Ellen’s teenaged son, Lucas, is introduced to school newcomer, Kieran, things start to go wrong for her happy little brood. Lucas, who was on track for a place at Oxbridge, suddenly starts to behave differently. He stays out all night drinking, smoking and taking drugs. Ellen believes Kieran is the catalyst for this change, particularly as he so obviously despises Ellen and takes great pleasure in making her feel uncomfortable at every opportunity. That and because he’s been in care for a while now. His recent move to a new foster carer puts him firmly in their orbit. But then tragedy strikes and there’s only one person to blame. Kieran Watts. Ellen’s hatred of the boy is palpable. There’s only one course of action she can take. Kieran Watts must pay for what he did…

Another corker of a read from this author – the queen of the killer twist! I found The Heights to be a very absorbing, very emotional tale. What would you do in Ellen’s position? How far can grief push a person? If The Heights is anything to go by, I think the answer to the second question is ‘to the extremes’.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. The Heights will leave you dizzy but in the best way possible. The setting really added to the story (coupled with Ellen’s uncontrollable need to throw herself off of tall buildings!). The characters were all well-written and I enjoyed spending time with them (even the unpleasant ones!). And the pace was perfectly managed from beginning to end. The ending was hugely satisfying and I would pick up another book by this author faster than you can say ‘HPP’. Recommended.

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

The Heights by Louise Candlish was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 5th August 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 |

Sunday Times bestselling author Louise Candlish was born in Northumberland and grew up in the Midlands town of Northampton. She studied English at University College London and has lived in the capital ever since. She is the author of 14 novels, including the thriller Our House, winner of the British Book Awards 2019 Crime & Thriller Book of the Year and shortlisted for several other awards. A #1 bestseller in paperback, ebook and audiobook, it is soon to be a four-part ITV drama, produced by Red Planet Pictures. Her new release The Other Passenger, a Hitchcockian tale of adultery and double crossing set among the Thames river commuters, is also in development for the screen. Louise’s first Richard & Judy Book Club pick, it has been longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2021.

Louise lives in Herne Hill in South London with her husband, teenage daughter and fox-red Labrador, Bertie. Besides books, the things she likes best are: coffee; TV; salted caramel; tennis; lasagne; old heavy metal; ‘The Archers’ (but not the lockdown monologues); white wine; Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or, failing that, a Starbar). Her favourite book is Madame Bovary.

Author photo by Jonny Ring

#BookReview: Survive the Night by Riley Sager @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity #SurvivetheNight #damppebbles

“Charlie Jordan is being driven across the country by a serial killer. Maybe.

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

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

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

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

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

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Survive the Night by Riley Sager. Survive the Night is published by Hodder & Stoughton today (that’s Thursday 29th July 2021) and is available in audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Survive the Night but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am currently suffering the biggest book hangover thanks to the divine Survive the Night. Regular readers of damppebbles may be aware that I am a huge Riley Sager fan. Sager’s debut, Final Girls, is one of my very favourite books (I have a Final Girls wallet!). Home Before Dark, which was published last year, was one of my favourite books of 2020. If Riley Sager writes it, I want to read it. Getting my mitts on a copy of Survive the Night sent me a little giddy with joy. I devoured this book. I feel bereft now that it’s over. But one thing’s for sure, I know nothing else I read for a while is going to come anywhere close to topping Survive the Night.

Charlie has had enough of College and wants to return to the comfort of her home and Nana Norma. Her boyfriend, Robbie, isn’t able to drive her to Youngstown for a few more days but Charlie can’t wait any longer. Putting her trust in a stranger, she advertises on the ‘ride board’ for a lift. Which is where she meets Josh Baxter. He seems nice enough. She’s cautious, of course. As a movie buff and a Film Theory student, she knows what can happen when you climb into a car with a stranger! She’s desperate to return home though. The need to escape Olyphant University and everything that happened there is great. So she reluctantly accepts the risk. Telling herself over and over again to be smart, be brave and be careful. But as the journey progresses, Charlie starts to think she’s made a terrible mistake. Could Josh be a serial killer after all…?

The first thing I need to say about Survive the Night is that it felt quite different to the author’s previous books. I would classify Sager’s books as predominantly mysteries, but mysteries which err on the side of horror. Survive the Night felt more crime noir than any of his previous novels. Movies play a big part of the plot, which may have given the book a different feel. Or it may be the overall vibe of the story (the long drive into the night with a complete stranger). Or perhaps it’s because it’s set in 1991 and the author has excelled at putting an aged/retro feel into his text (no matter what you say, 1991 wasn’t THAT long ago! Thirty years is nothing, right…? 😬). I can’t put my finger on exactly what gives Survive the Night its utterly hypnotic and immersive appeal, but I loved it. If this is the direction the author has chosen to go in, then I’m all for it!

I adored Charlie. If you’re a fan of the unreliable narrator then oh boy, you need to get yourself a copy of this book! Charlie, having lost both parents in a car accident when she was younger, and having to deal with the trauma of a double funeral, now experiences ‘movies in her mind’. Hallucinations to the rest of us. These vivid scenes play out in front of her and only afterwards, when she has ‘come to’ does she realise they weren’t real. Unfortunately for Charlie, the occurrence and the clarity of these ‘movies’ is on the increase. Which Josh uses to his advantage…

I was a little concerned, before starting the book, that a tale about a six hour long road trip could end up being a little dry. I needn’t have worried. It’s anything but! As realisation dawns on Charlie, an intricate game of cat and mouse begins in the confines of Josh’s Grand Am. The tension builds beautifully, unease and suspicion mount and it’s a glorious, hypnotic thing!

Would I recommend this book? 100%, YES! I loved Survive the Night. Everything about it was perfection on a page. The twists are weaved into the story masterfully. One in particular I was able to guess but as you can see, it certainly didn’t spoil my reading experience at all. Plus there are lots of other really clever little details thrown into the story to keep you gripped and turning the pages. Sager has excelled himself. I feel as though I lived this book alongside the characters. Absolutely bloody marvellous! Tense, all absorbing and utterly captivating. Highly recommended.

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

Survive the Night by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Hodder and Stoughton on 29th July 2021 and is available in 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 |

Riley Sager is the award-winning pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.

Now a full-time author, Riley’s first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, became a national and international bestseller and was called “the first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King. Translation rights have been sold in more than two dozen countries.

Riley’s next three books, THE LAST TIME I LIED, LOCK EVERY DOOR and HOME BEFORE DARK, were instant New York Times bestsellers. His upcoming thriller SURVIVE THE NIGHT will be published this summer.

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”

#BookReview: Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK #DogRoseDirt #damppebbles

“What if your mother had been writing to a serial killer?

A convicted murderer with a story to tell

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

A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth

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

A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

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

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

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams. Dog Rose Dirt is published today (that’s Thursday 22nd July 2021) by Harper Collins and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow in 2022. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Dog Rose Dirt but that has in no way influenced my review.

There was no way on this earth I was going to be able to resist this book. The cover is stunning, the title is quite different to everything else out there so it immediately grabbed my attention, and the words ‘serial killer’ had me downloading a copy faster than you could say, well, ‘serial killer’!

Heather Evans receives dreadful news which sends her rushing back to the town, and the house, she grew up in. Her mother, who Heather readily admits she hasn’t really seen or spoken to for a while, has committed suicide. The note she left was confusing. Heather can’t quite believe it’s true but begins the unenviable task of packing up her childhood home. But sifting through the mundane, Heather finds letters going back years between her mild-mannered mother and the notorious serial killer known to all as The Red Wolf, Michael Reave. It makes no sense. But ex-journalist Heather is determined to find out why her mother has been sharing such personal correspondence with a convicted killer for decades. Particularly as the body of a woman has just been found, decorated with flowers, just as Reave used to do with his victims…

Heather’s story and her search for the truth had me glued to the pages throughout this intriguing crime debut. How well do we really know those we’re closest to? Probably not as well as we think! And that’s one of the main hurdles Heather has to cross in the unravelling of her mother’s life. Due to the recent bout of killings, which undeniably have a link to Reave in their similarity, Heather arranges to meet with the Red Wolf. She plans on using her journalistic skills to get the truth about her mother from the killer and discover more about their shared friendship, along with finding out her mother’s state of mind before she took her own life and wrote that strange suicide note. But Michael is intent on only sharing fables and morbid fairy tales which confuse and frustrate Heather, along with the police team investigating the recent murders.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Dog Rose Dirt is a well-written slow burn mystery which I found to be a compelling page turner. Some aspects of the story I guessed from fairly early on. Others I didn’t. This is the author’s debut crime novel but she’s an established writer in a different genre, which shows in the construction of the story and the narrative. Heather isn’t the most appealing of central characters but she had a rawness and a realness about her which I really appreciated. I don’t think you have to fall in love with a lead to become part of their story, I’ve said something along these lines many times before, but I was cheering her on. I wanted her to discover the truth, whatever that would be. I enjoyed Dog Rose Dirt and I would happily read more crime fiction written by this author. I hope there’s more to come. Recommended.

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

Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 22nd July 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow in 2022 (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 |

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Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their small ridiculous cat. A fan of pirates and dragons from an early age, these days she writes character-driven fantasy novels with plenty of banter and magic, and dark unsettling thrillers with strong female leads. In 2015 she was nominated for Best Newcomer in the British Fantasy Awards. She is represented by Juliet Mushens of Mushens Entertainment.

The Copper Cat trilogy consists of The Copper Promise, The Iron Ghost and The Silver Tide – all published by Headline in the UK – and the first two books in the trilogy are available in the US and Canada, published by Angry Robot. Both The Iron Ghost and The Silver Tide have also been nominated for British Fantasy Awards, and she is partly responsible for founding the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, a social group that meets in London to celebrate a love of fantasy.

Her second fantasy series, the Winnowing Flame trilogy, kicked off with The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twins, and ended with The Poison Song in May 2019. The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twins both went on to win the British Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy Novel in their respective years. When not cursing herself for writing really long books, she can be found writing advertising copy for books, or selling books. It’s all about books, really.

Her latest novel, Dog Rose Dirt, a thriller, will be published in July 2021 in the UK by HarperCollins, and in the US by Crooked Lane under the title A Dark and Secret Place. It has also sold in Germany, Brazil and Spain. Interests outside of reading and writing include drawing witches, playing video games, and watching cartoons. She has a particular passion for animation and history, and will bore you to death about either if she gets half a chance.

#BookReview: The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler @CaneloCrime #TheLuckyEight #damppebbles

“When the plane crashed, 160 people perished. Now someone is killing off the survivors.

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

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

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

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler. The Lucky Eight will be published in paperback and digital format by Canelo Crime on Thursday (that’s 22nd July 2021). I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Lucky Eight but that has in no way influenced my review.

I love disaster thrillers and mysteries, particularly those featuring a plane crash/disappearance/hijack. If you’re a regular visitor to damppebbles you may have noticed a teeny tiny increase in the number of books I’ve read recently featuring aircraft. I can’t help it, I love them! But what I’ve really enjoyed about all of these books is that they all take a slightly different approach. And that’s certainly the case with The Lucky Eight. Because, at heart, I’m a crime fiction nut and I adore police procedurals and mysteries. And that’s where The Lucky Eight absolutely shines.

Five years ago Air Euro Flight 975 crashed on landing at Gatwick airport killing all onboard except for eight ‘lucky’ survivors. Every year, on the anniversary of the crash, the survivors meet in remembrance of those they lost. But by the following morning, one of the group, a notorious celebrity chef, is dead. Detective Inspector Rachel Lewis of the Surrey and Suffolk Major Crime Team is tasked with investigating what happened to Nick Gilbert. Tensions run high amongst the group and Rachel has her work cut out. Before long, another of the survivors is found stabbed to death. The pressure is on. Can Rachel and her team discover who wants the lucky eight dead before it’s too late…

The Lucky Eight is a well-written crime thriller with an intriguing mystery at its heart. DI Rachel Lewis and DC Ade Benjamin are thrown into the deep end and have to pick apart a group which, although not the best of friends, have a strong bond and secrets they would prefer to keep. I found the character of Clodagh absolutely fascinating. Her sister, actress Vivienne Kinsella, died when the plane crashed. Clodagh, also on the plane at the time of the incident, has had memory problems ever since. She knows deep down that something happened, something she did contributed to the accident but her memory refuses to recall what it was.

I really liked DI Rachel Lewis but I loved her colleague, DC Ade Benjamin, who I felt had a bit more grit to her. Rachel, being the boss, does everything by the book. Whereas Ade felt a little less formal in her approach. I do hope this isn’t the last we see of these two characters as they make quite a formidable team and I would really like to spend some more time with them, Ade in particular. There were also plenty of characters to dislike including career obsessed Adam and creepy Simon.

Speaking of the characters, I felt a smidge confused at times because there are quite a few characters and they are all connected in different ways (lovers, ex-lovers, siblings). But as soon as I got into the rhythm of the book it all clicked into place, so I put full blame for the confusion on my own shoulders. I would also say it’s a little slow at the start as it felt like it took a while for the chef’s death to be confirmed as murder. But as soon as Rachel is made SIO, the investigation really picks up the pace.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I enjoyed The Lucky Eight and would happily read more by this author. It’s an intriguing mystery which had me glued to my Kindle. I did have an inkling as to who was behind the murders but the reasons why came as a complete surprise, and I loved that.  All in all, an entertaining read which I recommend.

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

The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler was published in the UK by Canelo Crime on 22nd July 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Sheila BuglerI’m the author of the Ellen Kelly and Dee Doran crime novels. My first stand alone novel, The Lucky Eight, is published in July 2021.

I grew up in a small town in the west of Ireland. After studying Psychology at University College Galway, I left Ireland and worked in Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland, Argentina and London before finally settling in Eastbourne, where I now live with my husband, Sean, and our two children.

#BookReview: The Beach House by Beverley Jones (@bevjoneswriting) @TheCrimeVault @LittleBrownUK #TheBeachHouse #damppebbles

The perfect place to hide. Or so she thought . . .

When Grace Jensen returns to her home in Lookout Beach one day, she finds a body in a pool of blood and a menacing gift left for her.

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

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

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

The hottest, edge-of-your-seat summer thriller, perfect for fans of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and The Holiday by T. M. Logan.

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Beach House by Beverley Jones. The Beach House was published by Constable on 24th June 2021 and is available in digital format with the paperback to follow in 2022. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Beach House but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a HUGE fan of Beverley Jones’s writing. Her previous two books, written as B.E. Jones, Halfway and Wilderness (as a side note, Wilderness has since had a bit of a make-over and is now called The Perfect Break) have both featured on my top books of the year list. They’re intelligently written psychological thrillers with a strong sense of place, and characters who stand tall from the page. I am delighted to confirm that The Beach House is no exception. Jones has produced another dark and engrossing thriller which I devoured with glee.

Grace Jensen has worked hard to create the perfect life for her and her family. Returning to her gorgeous beach front house on Lookout Beach one day, she makes a shocking discovery. A body on her kitchen floor, covered in blood. The body is distressing enough, but the objects carefully placed on her kitchen worksurface send a very clear message. Grace knows it’s time. After seventeen years of being careful, of building a new life, her past is finally catching up with her. No one knows what Grace did all those years ago, not even her devoted husband, Elias. And Grace will do anything to keep it that way…

Jones has excelled herself once again in creating an intriguing psychological thriller where character and setting have equal batting. I loved Grace. I was instantly attracted to the dark edge the character exudes. There’s just something about her which appealed to me (not sure what that says about me!) and if memory serves, something similar happened with the main character in The Perfect Break. Jones is able to create characters who worm their way under your skin. Whether you like them or loathe them doesn’t really matter, you certainly won’t be able to forget them! I thoroughly enjoyed discovering Grace’s secrets, which are intriguingly drip-fed to the reader over the course of the book. The need to find out what catastrophic event had led Grace halfway around the world had me turning the pages faster than most other books I’ve read recently. I couldn’t put The Beach House down, nor did I want to!

The author has set the story on the coast of Oregon and it’s clear Jones is both familiar and fond of her chosen backdrop. Despite never having visited myself, I was able to picture the dramatic landscape easily. Regular readers of damppebbles may be aware that I’m very much a character focussed reader but when an author completely captures the feel and the atmosphere of their setting, particularly one as dramatic and striking as this, it deserves to be mentioned. The author transported me to a different location and in these COVID-restricted times, I’m very grateful for that.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Beach House is a gripping tale of secrets, lies and obsession and I devoured it in a couple of short sittings. I found Grace, as the book’s lead character, to be intriguing and utterly captivating. I think I’m a little bit in love 😳. As the story unfolds, the tension ramps up with a dramatic and thrilling denouement which I thought was a perfect conclusion to Grace’s story. I loved The Beach House and I know that it will be the third book by this author, in as many years, to make an appearance on my top books of the year list. Compelling, addictive and hugely entertaining. Highly recommended.

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

The Beach House by Beverley Jones was published in the UK by Constable on 24th June 2021 and is available in digital format with the paperback to follow next 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 Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Beverley Jones, also known as B E Jones, is a former journalist and police press officer, now a novelist and general book obsessive. Bev was born in a small village in the South Wales valleys, north of Cardiff. She started her journalism career with Trinity Mirror newspapers, writing stories for The Rhondda Leader and The Western Mail, before becoming a broadcast journalist with BBC Wales Today TV news, based in Cardiff. She has worked on all aspects of crime reporting (as well as community news and features) producing stories and content for newspapers and live TV.

Most recently Bev worked as a press officer for South Wales Police, dealing with the media and participating in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.

Perhaps unsurprisingly she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and her insight into the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales.

Her latest novels, Where She Went, Halfway and Wilderness, are published by Little Brown under the name BE Jones. Wilderness has recently been optioned for a six part TV adaptation by Firebird Pictures. Her seventh novel, The Beach House, is due for release in June 2021 under the name Beverley Jones. Chat with her on Goodreads.co.uk under B E Jones or Beverley Jones and on Twitter and Instagram @bevjoneswriting Bev is represented by The Ampersand Agency.

#BookReview: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix @TitanBooks #TheFinalGirlSupportGroup #damppebbles

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

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

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

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix. The Final Girl Support Group is published today (that’s Tuesday 13th July 2021) by Titan Books and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Final Girl Support Group but that has in no way influenced my review,

The Final Girl Support Group, with its perfect cover, intriguing blurb and kick-ass concept, gave me palpitations at first sight. Everything about it screamed my name and cried out to be read. I just had to get my mitts on this book. And I’m so very, very glad I did! I completely ignored the rest of my TBR. Forgot about my planned schedule and ignored all other commitments until I closed the final page. If you follow damppebbles regularly you’ll know that I love blood-soaked slasher novels and have a bit of a girl crush on the final girl trope, so this book ticked so many boxes for me as a reader.

Six legendary final girls meet in secret with their therapist to talk over their experiences and support each other. Yes, there are disagreements, fallings out and a lot of bickering, but the women have something which bonds them together and Lynnette, in particular, finds comfort in the meetings. Until one day, one of the women fails to attend group. Before long, it becomes clear that their secret meetings are no longer a secret. Lynnette is convinced someone has their sights set on the group. Now, all she has to do is convince the others and make it, in one piece, to the end…

I loved reading The Final Girl Support Group. It was a full-on, high energy read which I devoured in no time at all because I found it very hard to put down. I was a little bit smitten with Lynnette who, because of her experiences, is a smidge traumatised (obsessive, paranoid…goes without saying really!). I also found her a little frustrating at times but that only added to my enthusiasm. The other ‘girls’ are an eclectic, flawed mix and I thoroughly enjoyed finding out their stories. These aren’t your normal, every-day final girls though. These six (there should be seven but no one mentions Chrissy…) are the most famous final girls in America and for good reason. I won’t reveal anymore. You’ll need to read the book to find out why but I loved all of the detail Hendrix puts into each character. They’re all beautifully drawn, all different and unique in their own ways, they would be strangers in a different life, but the bond held between these woman is strong. That connection, that duty to each other, was what I loved most about the book.

The Final Girl Support Group has a totally absorbing, relentless pace to it which I adored. I was completely invested in the story and the characters from the moment I started reading. I was able to guess one aspect of the plot but I still savoured every minute I spent with this book. It didn’t spoil my enjoyment at all because there was always more to come, more fantastically placed thrills and spills to make me keep turning those pages late into the night.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Final Girl Support Group was one helluva ride which I devoured quickly because I couldn’t bear to be parted from it for very long. I’ve not read a book by Grady Hendrix before but it’s clear this is a writer who knows how to tell a good story. I was hooked (😂 poor choice of word in a way, perhaps…) into Lynnette’s monstrous world and I didn’t want to leave. Absolutely flipping bonkers but so, so good! Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Final Girl Support Group. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix was published in the UK by Titan Books on 13th July 2021 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 |

Grady HendrixGrady Hendrix is the author of the novels Horrorstör, about a haunted IKEA, and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, which is like Beaches meets The Exorcist, only it’s set in the Eighties. He’s also the author of We Sold Our SoulsThe Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, and the upcoming (July 13!) Final Girl Support Group!

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

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

You can listen to free, amazing, and did I mention free podcasts