#BlogTour | #BookReview: The House of Whispers by Anna Kent @HQstories @midaspr #TheHouseofWhispers #damppebbles

Once you let her in, she’ll never leave…
Some secrets aren’t meant to be kept…

When Grace returns to Abi’s life, years after they fell out at university, Abi can’t help but feel uneasy. Years ago, Grace’s friendship was all-consuming and exhausting.

Now happily married, Abi’s built a new life for herself and put those days behind her. And yet as Grace slips back into her life with all the lethal charm she had before, Abi finds herself falling back under her spell…

Abi’s husband, Rohan, can’t help but be concerned as his wife’s behaviour changes. As their happy home threatens to fall apart, he realises that there’s something deeply unnerving about Grace. Just what influence does this woman have over his wife, and why has she come back now?

A chilling story of guilt and obsession from Anna Kent.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining The House of Whispers blog tour and sharing my review. The House of Whispers by Anna Kent was published by HQ on 5th August 2021 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The House of Whispers but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Becky at Midas PR for sending me a proof copy.

The House of Whispers is an exquisitely written tale which I devoured in a few short sittings. I couldn’t get enough of this book for many glorious reasons and I’m so glad I read it. Chilling, emotional and deliciously intense, I loved it!

Abi and Grace met at university several years ago and became friends. Until something happened and the friendship fractured. It’s been years since Abi last heard from Grace but now she’s returning to the UK from Australia and she wants to stay with Abi until she’s back on her feet. But their friendship always felt one-sided to Abi. Grace was controlling and self-centred, the friendship didn’t make Abi feel good about herself at all. When Rohan, Abi’s husband, leaves for New York on a temporary work placement, the prospect of having Grace around feels more appealing than not, so she moves in. Soon Rohan notices a change in Abi. The things which were once important to her, don’t seem to matter anymore. Her artwork takes over her life and everything else comes second. Rohan starts to question the hold Grace has over Abi as he watches his wife change before his very eyes. Who exactly is Grace and will life for Abi ever be the same again…

An utter joy to read. The House of Whispers hooked me in from the start and didn’t let me go until the final thrilling denouement. Poor Abi. Feeling like an outcast the moment she stepped foot on campus and then reluctantly falling in with popular and controlling Grace, led me to feel things were never really going to turn out well for her. I really warmed to Abi. The author has created a perfectly flawed but incredibly human character and I desperately wanted her to escape the clutches of her obnoxious friend.

The story is told beautifully with the slow unravelling of Abi following Grace’s arrival. I was bewitched by the author’s storytelling and completely captivated. The house adds a slightly creepy, sinister feel to proceedings – gothic in feel and tone – and done so well. Other characters in the book bring in a host of emotions which I appreciated. It’s hard to like Rohan at times. I felt he was quite smothering towards Abi, a little patronising perhaps and a little sexist in his approach. I often felt he was more in love with Abi’s art than Abi the person but he was well-written and elicited the emotions in me I think the author intended.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved The House of Whispers. It’s a creepy, chilling, intoxicating read which worked its way under my skin. I have to admit to seeing something somewhere (no clues, I don’t want you to do the same!) which made me approach this book slightly differently (I’m saying no more!) and unfortunately I was able to see one of the twists coming because of that. However, this is a beautiful, compelling novel which I savoured every second of. I loved the ending – it was a perfect way to conclude Abi and Grace’s story. In fact, I loved everything about The House of Whispers. Highly recommended.

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

The House of Whispers by Anna Kent was published in the UK by HQ on 5th 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Anna Kent has worked as a journalist, magazine editor and book editor as well as enjoying a stint as a radio producer. She’s written for numerous publications at home and abroad, including the Daily Telegraph, where she was a contributor for six years. Brought up in the South East, she loves to travel while maintaining a base in Gloucestershire. She’s married with two children.

WWW Wednesday | 11th August 2021 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #damppebbles

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

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

What are you currently reading?

Five Minds by Guy Morpuss
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.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Chateau by Catherine Cooper
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.

What do you think you’ll read next?

We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin
Ten years ago, homecoming queen Trumanell Branson vanished.
Her farewell message?
A bloody handprint left on a wall.
_______

Back then, the police cleared her brother Wyatt of any crime. But now a TV documentary has judged otherwise. And old suspicions are reignited.

Yet when Wyatt finds a lost girl wandering a lonely highway, he convinces himself she’s a sign. Someone to lead him to his sister. To clear his name.

Watching him is police officer Odette Tucker. She’s got history with the Branson family. And she knows they must tread carefully.

Odette is determined to solve both cases, but will digging into this town’s deeply buried secrets do more harm than good?

And what will happen when the shocking truth is finally exposed?

We Are All the Same in the Dark is the nail-biting thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author, perfect for anyone obsessed with HBO’s Mare of Easttown.

#BookReview: Seat 7a by Sebastian Fitzek (trans. Steve Anderson) #Seat7a #damppebbles

“You know your fear is irrational, you’ve checked the statistics. Flying is safer than driving – nineteen times safer. Irrational, perhaps. But you’re not wrong.

Mats Krüger is terrified of flying. But his daughter, Nele, is about to give birth to his first grandchild, so, for once, he’s taking the risk and making the thirteen-hour flight from Buenos Aires to Berlin.

Of course, he’s taken precautions. He’s bought the five statistically safest seats on the plane, as well as seat 7A – the spot where you are most likely to die in a plane accident – so no one can sit there. Just in case.

But Mats has to give up seat 7A to another passenger. Moments later, he receives a phone call. Nele has been kidnapped. The caller has a single demand.

Convince the pilot to crash the plane. Or Nele dies.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Seat 7a by Sebastian Fitzek (translated by Steve Anderson). Seat 7a was published in paperback format last Thursday (that’s 5th August 2021) by Head of Zeus and is also available in hardcover and digital formats.

If you’re a regular visitor to damppebbles then you may be aware that I have a bit of a thing for plane/flight based thrillers at the moment. I think this is the sixth book (possibly seventh…) I’ve read in recent months where the action is based around a plane being hijacked, crashing or going missing. I love them. I’m also a fan of Fitzek’s thrillers so Seat 7a was a must read for me.

Psychiatrist, Mats Krüger, is able to cure many of his patients ailments but what he’s never been able to do is rid his own intense fear of flying. When his estranged pregnant daughter, Nele, is scheduled to give birth Nele requests Mats’ presence at her side. His flight is booked. The date has arrived. Now all he has to do is get on the thirteen hour flight from Buenos Aires to Berlin. But what Mats doesn’t know is that his daughter has been kidnapped. Partway through the flight he receives a call telling him that for his daughter and grandchild to live, Mats must make the plane crash before it reaches its destination…

What I’ve loved about my recent plane thriller readathon is that despite having a plane as one of the main plot points of the story, they’ve all been quite different reads. At no point have I felt that I’ve read the story before, under a different title with a different author. That’s certainly the case with Seat 7A. Fitzek has taken the plane thriller and done something really quite different with it. I will say that if you’re looking for a story based in reality then there are certain aspects of this story which you may find hard to believe. But if you’re looking for something that’s thoroughly entertaining then oh boy, you’ve found it!

The opening prologue immediately pulls the reader into the story. You want to know what’s happened and who is being spoken about. The pace doesn’t really let-up from that point forward. I was intrigued and I wanted to know more. As Mats boards the plane the reader discovers the extent of his phobia. He’s purchased several seats as at different points during the flight, were it to crash, there is a specific seat which is deemed to be the safest. Mats plans to move to each seat to ensure he survives, not realising at this point that he will be responsible for any forthcoming disaster. But that doesn’t include seat 7a. Seat 7a is the most dangerous seat on the plane, which he gives to another passenger following a mix up with her booking. On boarding however, Mats’ carefully planned coping mechanism fails, when he discovers another passenger asleep in one of his seats…

I really enjoyed the ‘weapon’ the author gives Mats in order to crash the plane. It was completely different to everything else I’ve read out there and provided a very juicy psychological aspect to proceedings.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Seat 7a is a gripping psychological thriller which I enjoyed from start to finish. If you haven’t read a Fitzek novel before I would advise you to go in with an open mind and just go with the flow. There were a couple of phrases used which perhaps worked better in their original German. I found them a little jarring at points but overall the translation was great. I have several more Fitzek novels on my TBR including Passenger 23 which is set on a cruise ship. I think that will make a nice change from the plane thrillers 😂. Lots of fun, highly entertaining and quite a ride! Recommended.

Seat 7a by Sebastian Fitzek (translated by Steve Anderson was published in the UK by Head of Zeus on 5th August 2021 and is available in hardcover, 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

ImageSebastian Fitzek was born in Berlin in 1971. After going to law school and being promoted to LL.D., he decided against a juridical profession for a creative occupation in the media. After the traineeship at a private radio station he switched to the competition as head of entertainment and became chief editor later on, thereafter becoming an independent executive consultant and format developer for numerous media companies in Europe. He lives in Berlin and is currently working in the programme management of a major capital radio station.

#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

WWW Wednesday | 4th August 2021 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #damppebbles

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

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

What are you currently reading?

Mimic by Daniel Cole
1989
DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winter are on the trail of a twisted serial killer with a passion for recreating the world’s greatest works of art through the bodies of his victims. But after Chambers almost loses his life, the case goes cold – their killer lying dormant, his collection unfinished.

1996
Jordan Marshall has excelled within the Metropolitan Police Service, fuelled by a loss that defined her teenage years. Obsessed, she manages to obtain new evidence, convincing both Chambers and Winter to revisit the case. However, their resurrected investigation brings about a fresh reign of terror, the team treading a fine line between police officers and vigilantes in their pursuit of a monster far more dangerous and intelligent than any of them had anticipated…

What did you recently finish reading?

The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton
Charlotte and Sam were partners. In life, and in crime. They never stole from anyone who couldn’t afford it. Wealthy clients, luxury cruise ships. It was easy money, and harmless. At least, that’s what Charlotte told herself, until the world caved in on her.

But now, years after she tried to put that past life behind her, it comes rushing back when her estranged ex-husband Sam suddenly goes missing – and someone threatens to expose what they did.

Desperate to escape whoever is tormenting her, Charlotte takes a job as events planner for an engagement party onboard a superyacht in the Caribbean. For a while, her plan seems to have worked, nothing but open ocean and clear skies ahead. Until it becomes clear that she’s no longer a thousand miles away from harm.

Because whoever is behind it all is onboard too. And now there’s nowhere left to run.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Chateau by Catherine Cooper
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.

#BookReview: Perfect Strangers by Araminta Hall @orionbooks #PerfectStrangers #damppebbles

“FRIENDS TELL EACH OTHER EVERYTHING. DON’T THEY?

Everyone wants perfection.
But there is no such thing.

Nancy has the perfect life. She is bright, beautiful and rich with an adoring husband and daughter.

At least that’s what it seems on the outside to her two best friends.

But then Nancy is murdered.

And as the lies start to unravel, they realise they never knew their perfect friend at all.

She clearly had as many secrets as they do…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Perfect Strangers by Araminta Hall. Perfect Strangers was published by Orion Books on 8th July 2021 and is available in hardcover (under a different title: Imperfect Women), paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free copy of Perfect Strangers but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Yadira at Orion Books.

Eleanor, Nancy and Mary met at university and became best friends. Now in their forties, the bond between the women is still strong but life has taken them in different directions. Eleanor is a committed career woman, Nancy is wealthy and lives a perfect life with her perfect husband, Robert. Mary is a downtrodden wife who lives only for her three children. When Nancy is murdered, the lid is lifted from her perfect life and her friends discover that they may not have known her quite as well as they believed…

I’ve been wanting to read an Araminta Hall novel for a while now so I jumped at the chance to read Perfect Strangers. And I’m so glad I did. Perfect Strangers is a beautifully written, intelligent unravelling of three complex lives which I found to be an immersive read. Hall dissects the intricacies of being a woman with a deft hand and I was drawn into the lives of these three fascinating women.

This is very much an introspective novel where we see into the characters’ lives, experience their thoughts and feelings at first hand and watch as long held secrets are discovered. How well do you really know those closest to you? I think I’ve asked this question many times on the blog before and the answer remains the same. Probably not as well as you think! As the years pass by, the friendship held by the three women deteriorates. Bonds not quite as strong as they once were. They put themselves first and don’t always care about the implications of their actions on the others. They’re selfish, manipulative and deceitful. But aren’t we all, to a degree?

The author has written the story around the murder of Nancy, but the reader hears from all three women in glorious detail. Interestingly, the focus of the book isn’t really on solving Nancy’s murder but analysing the past and present, the implications of certain events and about coming to terms with not really knowing the people you care about the most. Perfect Strangers has a deliciously slow build to it with an intimate feel, and it’s a book I enjoyed.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Perfect Strangers is a cleverly written examination of the lives of three very different women and what makes them tick. If you’re looking for an intricate novel which explores the lives of its main characters in beautiful detail, this is definitely the book for you. There are characters within the pages you will warm to (I loved Mary for many different reasons) but there are also characters to loathe. I loved the visceral reaction a couple of the male characters evoked within me. Wonderful stuff! I would read another book by this author without a moments hesitation. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free copy of Perfect Strangers. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Perfect Strangers by Araminta Hall was published in the UK by Orion Books on 8th 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads |

Araminta HallAraminta Hall began her career in journalism as a staff writer on teen magazine Bliss, becoming Health and Beauty editor of New Woman. On her way, she wrote regular features for the Mirror’s Saturday supplement and ghost-wrote the super-model Caprice’s column.

#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.”

WWW Wednesday | 28th July 2021 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #damppebbles

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

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

What are you currently reading?

The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton
Charlotte and Sam were partners. In life, and in crime. They never stole from anyone who couldn’t afford it. Wealthy clients, luxury cruise ships. It was easy money, and harmless. At least, that’s what Charlotte told herself, until the world caved in on her.

But now, years after she tried to put that past life behind her, it comes rushing back when her estranged ex-husband Sam suddenly goes missing – and someone threatens to expose what they did.

Desperate to escape whoever is tormenting her, Charlotte takes a job as events planner for an engagement party onboard a superyacht in the Caribbean. For a while, her plan seems to have worked, nothing but open ocean and clear skies ahead. Until it becomes clear that she’s no longer a thousand miles away from harm.

Because whoever is behind it all is onboard too. And now there’s nowhere left to run.

What did you recently finish reading?

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
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.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Mimic by Daniel Cole
1989
DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winter are on the trail of a twisted serial killer with a passion for recreating the world’s greatest works of art through the bodies of his victims. But after Chambers almost loses his life, the case goes cold – their killer lying dormant, his collection unfinished.

1996
Jordan Marshall has excelled within the Metropolitan Police Service, fuelled by a loss that defined her teenage years. Obsessed, she manages to obtain new evidence, convincing both Chambers and Winter to revisit the case. However, their resurrected investigation brings about a fresh reign of terror, the team treading a fine line between police officers and vigilantes in their pursuit of a monster far more dangerous and intelligent than any of them had anticipated…

#BlogTour | #BookReview & #AuthorInterview: Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan @TitanBooks @Sarah_Mather_15 #GoodNeighbours #damppebbles

“A sudden tragedy pits neighbour against neighbour and puts one family in terrible danger.

Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world. But when the Wilde family moves in, they trigger their neighbours’ worst fears. Arlo and Gertie and their weird kids don’t fit with the way Maple Street sees itself. As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and neighbourhood Queen Bee Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes. Suddenly, it is one mother’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.

A riveting and ruthless portrayal of suburbia, Good Neighbours excavates the perils and betrayals of motherhood and friendships and the dangerous clash between social hierarchy, childhood trauma, and fear.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the Good Neighbours blog tour. Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan was published by Titan Books on 13th July 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats.

First up for you today I have an interview with Sarah Langan, followed by my review of this fabulous book.

Hello Sarah, welcome to damppebbles. First of all, please can you tell us about Good Neighbours

Hi! Good Neighbours is about a misfit family who scrimp for years to buy the most run-down house on a suburban cul-de-sac – a piece of the American Dream. But they’re greeted with hostility, and when a sinkhole opens in the middle of the block, a vicious neighbour spreads a rumour about them. The rumour’s so awful that the rest of the neighbours feel obliged to believe it, in order to protect their children. They become a mob, and by the end, an entire family is murdered in cold blood. Good Neighbours is the story of what happened, and why.

What three words would you use to describe Good Neighbours?

Engrossing. Funny. Scathing.

Which character was the most challenging to write? I really felt for the entire Wilde family – my heart broke for them as the situation spiralled out of control.

Rhea Schroeder, the alpha dog next door neighbour, was the most challenging character. I sympathize with her, but her thoughts get so incredibly ugly. It was hard to inhabit her, when writing those moments.

Where do you find inspiration for your books?

I think about the world, and current events, and I try to distil those things into a simpler metaphor. So, the radicalization of America is represented by a small cul-de-sac in Good Neighbours.

Do you have any rules for writing you would like to share?

None! No rules!

If Good Neighbours was made into a movie, which famous actors would play Gertie and Rhea? Have you cast any of the other characters in your mind?

We’ve now got a wonderful person attached to play Rhea and also produce, and I’ve very, very excited. We’re incredibly lucky to have her, and I wish I could brag about it!

As for the rest of the cast, what matters to me is that the actors engage with the role. I’d hate to narrow my options by naming anyone, specifically. I feel like it ought to be open – I’d love to be surprised.

*This is all if it happens. But maybe it’ll happen!

Which band would you choose to headline the soundtrack for the movie adaptation?

I’m so hopelessly out of touch that this is another one I should probably leave to someone more qualified. But I like David Bowie, Karen O, and Tobacco.

Who is your writing hero?

I love Megan Abbot, Jennifer Egan, EM Forester, and Somerset Maugham. I love work that is both unflinching and humane.

Which book do you always recommend to fellow readers/writers?

Mockingbird, by Waler Tevis. Also, When Late the Sweet Bird Sang, by Kate Wilhelm

What advice would you give to someone considering taking the plunge and attempting to write their first novel?

Don’t worry if you have no idea what you’re doing. None of us have any idea. Just write it.

If you could have a dinner party and invite three other writers (living or dead), who would you invite?

Jane Austen, Mary Shelly, and Edith Wharton. I’d be fascinated to see if and how they got along. And also, just utterly fascinated.

I’d be utterly amazed, too, if every woman represented in Judy Chicago’s Feminist Dinner (an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/dinner_party) suddenly appeared at the table.

What’s the one question you wish I had asked and what’s the answer?

I had Greek yogurt and pancakes for breakfast. I’m endlessly quitting coffee and then drinking it again. It’s a vicious cycle. My kids have been home from school for more than 400 days. I feel like I’ve been living in a cave since quarantine started. It’s making me a little slap-happy, and I really hope things get better soon.

Thank you so much for joining me today, Sarah. Read on to find out what I thought about Good Neighbours.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Good Neighbours but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Sarah at Titan Books for sending me an early copy and inviting me to join the tour.

I absolutely loved Good Neighbours. From the moment I saw the cover and read the blurb, I knew I had to read this book. Sometimes you just know, right? This is one of those books which called to me and I couldn’t wait to dive in. So much so, I started reading it the day it landed on the doormat! And from that point forward, I really struggled to put it down.

The Wilde family are new to Maple Street, Long Island. Gertie’s dreams of a settled suburban life are finally coming true. But the residents of Maple Street aren’t so keen on the new arrivals. They don’t quite ‘fit’ in their picture-perfect neighbourhood. Still, ex-beauty pageant queen, Gertie does her best to make it work for her and her family. She befriends top dog, Rhea Shroeder, and starts to feel settled. Life is finally good for the Wildes. That is until a sinkhole appears in the park opposite the close-knit community’s street and Rhea’s daughter, Shelly, falls in. Suddenly there’s a reason to blame the newcomers. The shocking news of Shelly’s disappearance opens the floodgates and before long, accusations are flying. Neighbour turns on neighbour. Friend on friend. As the hatred for the Wilde’s escalates, it’s down to Gertie to prove that not everything is as rosy as it may first appear in paradise…

Good Neighbours is a deliciously dark, visceral tale of suburbia which I devoured with utter glee. It’s so beautifully sinister, so packed full of menace, it was impossible to tear myself away from it. I was fully immersed in the drama of Maple Street and it’s living, breathing characters. I was sat on their shoulders watching, as step by step, the situation spiralled out of control. To the point where I had to put the book down a couple of times as the impending sense of dread and despair built, just to catch my breath and to prolong the inevitable. My heart was 100% with the Wilde family and I couldn’t see them getting out of this unscathed, if at all. And that very nearly broke me.

The story is set in 2027 and the reader watches as things slowly but surely fall apart for the Wildes. One accusation made in the heat of the moment, one word said in pure anger and frustration, one word meant to hurt and cause the deepest of wounds, begins the street’s campaign of unrelenting, unjustified hate. I was swept up into the story and completely mesmerised by what was taking place on the page in front of me. I loved it! In amongst the day to day drama of Maple Street in 2027, there are newspaper reports dated 10 years later which give the reader extra detail, along with snippets from a book where some of the neighbours get to explain their thinking at the time of the sinkhole. Truths are very much rewritten and memories are altered. Guilt is a funny thing.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Good Neighbours was a hugely enjoyable book which I loved losing myself in. The ending was perfect. The whole darn book was pretty perfect. If you’re a fan of intelligent psychological thrillers with characters who get under your skin, if you love books which make you feel something, then you’ve got to get yourself a copy of Good Neighbours. Absolutely beautifully written, divinely dark and chock full of delicious menace. I’m off to check out Langan’s back list as I can’t wait to read more books by this author. Highly addictive, highly recommended.

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

Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan was published in the UK by Titan Books on 13th 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Sarah grew up on Long Island, got her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, her MS in environmental toxicology from NYU, and currently lives in Los Angeles with her family and house rabbit.

Her next novel GOOD NEIGHBORS is out now.

Bram Stoker award winner for outstanding novel in 2007 – The Missing. Bram Stoker award winner for outstanding short story in 2008 – The Lost. Bram Stoker award winner for outstanding novel in 2009 – Audrey’s Door.

#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.