#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: The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton @Wildfirebks @RosieMargesson #TheExHusband #damppebbles

“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.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the blog tour for The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton. The Ex-Husband was published by Wildfire Books yesterday (that’s Thursday 19th August 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Ex-Husband but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Rosie at Wildfire Books for sending me a proof copy.

It’s no secret that I’m a little obsessed with flight-based thrillers at the moment. I think I’ve read most of the new releases (that I’m aware of!). But I was thinking, perhaps I should take a mini-break from planes for a while. And then I saw this beauty – The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton – being discussed on the socials. I couldn’t help myself! A thriller based around cruise liners and an exclusive superyacht. I had to read The Ex-Husband. It called to me. And I loved every second of it.

Charlotte and Sam are a couple…and a couple of con-artists! They work the cruise liners, selecting wealthy targets, convincing them to part with large sums of their cash. Sam is a master of the con. Charlotte is learning the ropes but she’s a natural. She’s happy to do whatever it takes (within reason, of course) to achieve the lifestyle she believes they deserve. Plus, they’re not actually hurting anyone. Not really. Their targets are extremely wealthy so what does it matter if Charlotte and Sam siphon off a little for themselves. But not everything is perfect in paradise and tensions build between the couple, to the point where their marriage dissolves and they lose touch. Charlotte is trying to rebuild her life – on the straight and narrow – as an events planner when she discovers Sam has gone missing. Threatening anonymous messages begin to arrive. Could it be Sam trying to frighten her? Or one of their marks perhaps? She desperately tries to contact her ex-husband but to no avail. Someone knows what they did and they’re going to make Charlotte pay…

Absolutely flipping marvellous! I loved The Ex-Husband. With its pacey storyline, luxurious Caribbean setting and well-drawn characters, I became instantly hooked. It was the perfect escapist read for me. Whisking me off to the beauty and elegance of a superyacht on a tour of the islands. Granted, I’m not sure I would swap places with Charlotte as the situation she found herself in was quite hairy but I thoroughly enjoyed watching from afar and soaking up the opulence.

Charlotte is a great lead character and I enjoyed spending time in her company. She was perhaps a little naïve (they did nothing wrong, honest guv!) and her obsession with Sam was quite intense, despite their break-up, but I was rooting for her all the way. The other secondary characters all add to the story, leaving the reader constantly guessing who is behind the mysterious threats. There are plenty of possibilities, let me tell you! Who can Charlotte trust? Where exactly is Sam and how much danger is Charlotte in? Time is most definitely running out…

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to the Caribbean with Charlotte and the crew of the Cleobella. The Ex-Husband is a twisty read which I was more than happy to lose myself in over a couple of sittings. I loved the impending sense of doom, the threat on the horizon the author conveyed and the way in which the tension builds as the clock ticks down. This is the first book I have read by this author but I can guarantee it won’t be the last. A well-written psychological thriller with a beautifully exotic feel which I adored. Fabulous escapism fiction, exactly what I needed. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Ex-Husband. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton was published in the UK by Wildfire Books on 19th August 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Karen Hamilton caught the travel bug after an early childhood spent abroad (Angola, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy) and having worked as cabin crew for a major airline.

In 2006, she and her husband put down roots in Hampshire UK and four years ago, she later gave up flying to raise their three sons and concentrate on her writing.
In 2009, she decided to ‘become a writer.’

The Perfect Girlfriend is her first novel (released March 2018).

#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.

#BookReview: The Forevers by Chris Whitaker @HotKeyBooksYA @molly_holt #TheForevers #damppebbles

“What would you do if you knew the world was going to be destroyed by a huge asteroid in one month? The mesmerising YA debut from acclaimed crime writer and New York Times Bestselling author of We Begin at the End.

They knew the end was coming. They saw it ten years back, when it was far enough away in space and time and meaning.
The changes were gradual, and then sudden.

For Mae and her friends, it means navigating a life where action and consequence are no longer related. Where the popular are both trophies and targets. And where petty grudges turn deadlier with each passing day. So, did Abi Manton jump off the cliff or was she pushed? Her death is just the beginning of the end.

With teachers losing control of their students and themselves, and the end rushing toward all of them, it leaves everyone facing the answer to one, simple question…

What would you do if you could get away with anything?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Forevers by Chris Whitaker. The Forevers is published by Hot Key Books today (that’s Thursday 8th July 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 The Forevers but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Molly at Hot Key Books for sending me an early copy.

It’s no secret that my book of last year (and probably EVER!) is We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker. The book broke my heart into a million pieces and will remain with me forever. I heartily recommend everyone reads it. And I’m not the only fan as it was also the runaway winner of #R3COMM3ND3D2020, Thriller of the Month at Waterstones and it recently won the CWA Gold Dagger. But we’re not here to talk about WBatE! We’re here to talk about Whitaker’s stunning new YA novel, The Forevers. Chris excels at writing memorable teenage characters in his adult fiction so his first YA novel was a thoroughly exciting prospect and one I couldn’t wait to read!

Mae is seventeen and about to die. Along with the rest of her friends, her family and probably most of the world. Asteroid Selena is hurtling towards earth and is due to crash into the planet in 30 days time. But this isn’t new news. The world has been aware of its impending destruction for 10 long years. Attempts have been made to redirect Selena. So far, all attempts have failed. As the deadline approaches, emotions within the small community are heightened. Several teenagers take their own lives. But did Abi Manton jump or did someone intentionally kill her? Mae is determined to find out what happened to her childhood friend. But the devastating secrets she uncovers along the way will have far reaching consequences for the local community…

The Forevers is a beautifully written, emotional tale of grief and loss, of secrets and lies, and of falling in love. Of facing your own mortality and in Mae’s case, staring it down. It’s about belonging, about having something to cling on to when all hope has gone and about being true to yourself. All of the books I have read written by this author have left their mark on me. The Forevers is no different. It made me question my own mortality in a way. It made me consider how I would feel in the same situation as Mae, and how I would spend my last thirty days. What I found fascinating was the path the author chose to take his characters down. It probably isn’t the one you would immediately expect. I can promise you they don’t all head to Alton Towers and ride Oblivion until they puke (which is probably what most of the teenagers I know would do!). I loved the steady, intriguing pace of the book. I was fully immersed in Mae’s investigation, following in Abi’s footsteps to try and find out what had really happened to her once-friend. All the i’s were dotted and the T’s crossed and it all just felt….right.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Forevers is a beautifully dark but totally beguiling story. I sobbed big, fat, ugly tears at points throughout the novel which just goes to prove that the author has pitched it just right for this reader, because books don’t normally make me cry (unless it’s a book by Chris Whitaker it seems!). Reading The Forevers felt to me like I had been on a journey – it had been an experience – which is a feeling I think most writers aim to leave their reader with, but doesn’t always happen. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed The Forevers and I cannot wait to see what the author writes next. One thing is for sure, I will be at the front of the queue to read it! Highly recommended.

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

The Forevers by Chris Whitaker was published in the UK by Hot Key Books on 8th July 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digitals 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 |

Chris Whitaker lives in the United Kingdom with his wife and three young children. When not writing he works part-time at a local library, where he gets to surround himself with books.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Rule by David Jackson @ViperBooks #TheRule #FollowTheRule #damppebbles

“MY DAD SAYS BAD THINGS
HAPPEN WHEN I BREAK IT…

Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants pie and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen.

Daniel will be twenty-three next week. And he has no idea that he’s about to kill a stranger.

Daniel’s parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn’t know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die…

Because they’ll do anything to protect Daniel. Even murder.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Rule by David Jackson. The Rule is published by Viper Books tomorrow (that’s Thursday 1st July 2021) and is available in hardcover and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read a free ARC of The Rule but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early copy and for inviting me to join the blog tour.

I am a HUGE fan of David Jackson’s writing and I always look forward to a new book from this author. Jackson knows how to tell a compelling story and his characters leap off the page at the reader. His latest release, The Rule, is no exception. Well defined characters, who I felt an instant bond with, are thrown into a pulse pounding story of survival and keeping one step ahead. I loved The Rule.

The Timpson family live in a small flat in an undesirable area but dad, Scott, has dreams of moving his family away from the gangs of lads who gather in the lobby and the overpowering smell of urine in the communal lift. The Timpson’s make the best of the life they have, living by one very important rule. When Daniel accidentally breaks the rule, the Timpson family decide to do whatever it takes to protect their son. Even if it involves murder…

Daniel is such a wonderful character who I instantly warmed to. Before any of the action actually kicked off I was feeling apprehensive about what was to come and protective towards him. Scott and Gemma’s love for their son shines from the page and I knew this was a family I would root for until the end. And what an end! From one terrible decision, the story unfolds at a blistering pace and captivates the reader from beginning to end. I couldn’t look away as life spiralled out of control for these gentle people as both sides of the law come knocking at their door.

Not only does the reader get to see things from the Timpson’s perspective but we also get inside the mind of the detective in charge of the case, Detective Inspector Hannah Washington, as the spotlight on her intensifies and she struggles to find a lead. I thought all of the characters in the book were brilliantly written, you really get a feel for what makes them tick.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Rule is an absorbing piece of fiction with well-crafted characters and an engaging plot. Jackson has done it again, without a doubt. If you’re a crime fiction fan and you haven’t read one of this author’s books before then that really must change. An emotional and gripping story which hooked me in from the get-go. I continue to be a HUGE fan of this author’s work and I can’t wait to see what Jackson comes up with next! Recommended.

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

The Rule by David Jackson was published in the UK by Viper Books on 1st July 2021 and is available in hardcover 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 |

David Jackson is the author of nine crime novels, including the bestseller Cry Baby and the standalone The Resident. When not murdering fictional people, David spends his days as a university academic in his home city of Liverpool. He lives on the Wirral with his wife and two daughters. Find him @Author_Dave.

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

#BookReview: The Survivors by Jane Harper @LittleBrownUK #TheSurvivors #damppebbles

“Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on a single day when a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that haunts him still resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal town he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a community which is bound, for better or worse, to the sea that is both a lifeline and a threat. Between them all is his absent brother Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge in the murder investigation that follows. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Yesterday was a very good day for book lovers. There were some absolutely cracking books published on Thursday 21st January 2021. So today I am delighted to be sharing my review of another eagerly anticipated release of 2021 with you, which is The Survivors by Jane Harper. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Survivors but that has in no way influenced my review.

I absolutely adore Jane Harper’s books. Reading The Dry a few years ago, which was Harper’s debut, ignited a love of Australian crime fiction in me which burns bright to this day. The publication of a new Jane Harper novel is a big thing for me and something I always look forward to. Harper is a master of her craft and The Survivors is another intoxicating and beautifully intense mystery to add to her superb back catalogue. If you love crime fiction, you MUST read Harper’s novels.

Kieran Elliot has returned to Evelyn Bay with his young family to help his mother pack up the family home. His father’s illness is worsening – he’s become a danger to himself – so he’s being moved into residential care. Kieran’s mother needs to downsize and move closer to her husband. But returning to the small town he grew up stirs up old memories. He’s never really escaped the guilt and the regret but it’s a lot more difficult to avoid when everyone you meet knows what happened all those years ago. When a body is discovered on the beach the police are called to investigate. But the town of Evelyn Bay is full of secrets and tragedy is never far away….

Once again the author has excelled at making the three main elements of a novel the very best they can be. The plot is intriguing and keeps you turning the pages. The characters are all very normal people who, despite living a world away, you feel you can relate to in some way. And the setting is always as much a part of the story as the characters. I tend to favour characters in the books I read. I like character-driven stories with people who stand tall from the page. But there’s such a strong sense of place in Harper’s novels that you can’t help but fall in love with the drama and the danger of her settings. The crashing waves and the surging tides in The Survivors give a claustrophobic feel to proceedings which I couldn’t get enough of. It’s a thing of beauty and one of the many reasons Harper is one of my favourite authors.

This isn’t a ten thrills-a-minute novel but a confidently written slow unravelling of an older unsolved disappearance and a much more recent tragedy. Add to the mix the affection the reader feels for Kieran as we watch him struggle with his grief and all in all, this is one cracking read. The author takes her reader’s hand and leads them through the lives of her very real feeling characters until you’re part of their day to day lives – watching the drama play out from afar.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you love crime fiction then I heartily recommend The Survivors (alongside all of Harper’s other novels). I wasn’t able to work out the big reveal but I’m glad that was the case. It was shocking and saddening in equal measure. I think having an inkling of where the story was going would have spoilt that a little bit for me. Another masterclass from Jane Harper on how to write an all-round stunning novel. I couldn’t fault The Survivors and I’m now hoping I won’t have to wait too long until Harper publishes her next book. Whenever that happens, consider me first in line! Highly recommended.

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

The Survivors by Jane Harper was published in the UK by Little, Brown on 21st January 2021 and is available in hardcover, digital and audio formats with the paperback to follow in September (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.orgGoodreads |

Jane Harper is the internationally bestselling author of The Dry and Force of Nature. Her third book, The Lost Man, was released in October 2018.

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

Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with film rights sold to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea.

Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads |

Review © Emma Welton | damppebbles.com

#BookReview: Bitter Sun by Beth Lewis @BoroughPress #BitterSun #damppebbles

It all started when we found the body.
Then nothing was ever the same.

The Dry meets Stand by Me and True Detective in this stunningly written tale of the darkness at the heart of a small mid-Western town and the four kids who uncover it.

In the heatwave summer of 1971, four kids find a body by a lake and set out to solve a murder. But they dig too deep and ask too many questions.

Larson is a town reeling in the wake of the Vietnam draft, where the unrelenting heat ruins the harvest, and the people teeter on the edge of ruin.

As tension and paranoia run rife, rumours become fact, violence becomes reflex. The unrest allows the dark elements of the close-knit farming community to rise and take control.

And John, Jenny, Gloria and Rudy are about to discover that sometimes secrets are best left uncovered…”

Hello my bookish friends and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of the beautifully written Bitter Sun by Beth Lewis with you. Bitter Sun was published by Borough Press on 7th March 2019 and is available in all formats.

I saw Bitter Sun mentioned on a number of blogs last year and my FOMO well and truly kicked in. I really can’t help myself when it comes to literary crime fiction at the moment and as soon as I clapped eyes on this book, I knew I had to read it. And oh my goodness, I’m so glad I did. Heartbreaking and emotive, this is a wonderfully consuming piece of fiction which I lost myself in.

A group of young teenage friends make a harrowing discovery one day whilst wasting time down by the lake. The body of a young woman. Their discovery is both horrifying and fascinating. They’re repulsed but drawn to the corpse. No one seems to particularly care who the victim is or why she was killed. So the friends take it upon themselves to find out. From the point of their shocking discovery and for the rest of their lives, life will never be the same for John, Jenny, Gloria and Rudy…

Set in a small, claustrophobic mid-Western town in the early 1970s, Bitter Sun is an all-consuming novel about family, friendship and the cruel hand fate can deal you, among other things. This is a powerful, character-driven coming-of-age novel which, in parts, broke me. Our lead character is John Royal. At the ripe old age of 13, John holds sole responsibility for the family farm (unless you count the endless ‘pigeon pa’s’ who fly in, sh!t all over the place and then fly out again!) and is determined to return it to its former glory. His mother is a man-hungry drunk who has all the time in the world for her son but a confusing, turbulent, sometimes hateful relationship with John’s younger sister, Jenny. It makes for uncomfortable reading at times but the author shows the reader exactly how things stand between these two characters. Poor John, who adores both his mother and his sister, is very much stuck in the middle of this warzone.

The day the kids discover the body is the day everything changes. John sees a new side to his sister. She reacts strangely to the discovery and he struggles to understand what is going on. The friends, as one would expect from a group of 13-year-olds in this situation, make the wrong decision – making a bad situation ten times worse. From here, the intricate unravelling of these four lives begins. We see life in Larson over several skin-blistering Summers. Each year brings more change, more bad news, more revelations. My heart ached for John. The author has done an exceptional job in writing this character. I wanted to look after him, protect him from more hurt and shield him from more bad news.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Bitter Sun is an engrossing tale which really got under my skin. Heartbreaking at times and chock full of emotion, it was exactly the right book at the right time for me. If you’re a reader who thinks characters are key then get yourself a copy of this beautifully written novel. I can promise you, you won’t regret it. Completely immersive, unforgettable and utterly mesmerising. Recommended.

Bitter Sun by Beth Lewis was published in the UK by The Borough Press on 7th March 2019 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 | Goodreads |


Beth Lewis was raised in the wilds of Cornwall and split her childhood between books and the beach. She has travelled extensively and has had close encounters with black bears, killer whales, and Great White sharks. She has been, at turns, a bank cashier, fire performer, juggler, and is currently a Commissioning Editor at a leading London publisher. Her debut novel, The Wolf Road, was shortlisted for the inaugural Glass Bell Award. Bitter Sun is her second novel.

#BookReview: Stone Cold Trouble by Amer Anwar @dialoguebooks #StoneColdTrouble #damppebbles

stone cold trouble“Trying – and failing – to keep his head down and to stay out of trouble, ex-con Zaq Khan agrees to help his best friend, Jags, recover a family heirloom, currently in the possession of a wealthy businessman. But when Zaq’s brother is viciously assaulted, Zaq is left wondering whether someone from his own past is out to get revenge.

Wanting answers and retribution, Zaq and Jags set out to track down those responsible. Meanwhile, their dealings with the businessman take a turn for the worse and Zaq and Jags find themselves suspected of murder.

It’ll take both brains and brawn to get themselves out of trouble and, no matter what happens, the results will likely be deadly. The only question is, whether it will prove deadly for them, or for someone else . . . ?”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of a highly anticipated new release – Stone Cold Trouble. Stone Cold Trouble is the second book in Amer Anwar’s Zaq and Jags series and is published by Dialogue Books today (that’s 24th September 2020). I chose to read and review a free eARC of Stone Cold Trouble but that has in no way influenced my review.

I loved (LOVED!) Brothers in Blood, the first book in this series. It was really gritty but wonderfully refreshing and original too, with tons of heart. I felt a little apprehensive about starting Stone Cold Trouble based purely on how much I loved book one (Stone Cold Trouble is one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year, no doubt about that!). But could the author do it again? You betcha. Anwar’s follow-up is another brilliantly written piece of page-turning fiction and I loved it.

Zaq Khan, despite his best efforts, can’t seem to avoid trouble. When his best mate’s uncle, Lucky, asks for his help in returning a family heirloom, Zaq and Jags find themselves dealing with a powerful businessman whose bodyguards are always spoiling for a fight. When Zaq’s brother, Tariq, is viciously attacked, all attention is moved to his own family and to Tariq’s ICU bedside. Zaq can’t help feeling though that someone from his own troubled past is trying to send him a clear message. Zaq is determined to make those responsible for his brother’s critical condition pay, no matter what it takes. Will Zaq and Jags be able to find the person responsible and wreak revenge, before it’s too late….

I am 100% invested in these characters and their very eventful lives. I love Zaq and Jags and will happily read this series for as long as the author writes it. There is so much crammed into this story that there’s never a dull moment. Even when Jags is, once again, making something for Zaq to eat (it happens a fair bit) the banter between the two characters is so entertaining and the imagery is so clear, you’re swept up into the story and enjoying every single moment. Although I will say this book did, at points, make me feel quite hungry!

The streets of Southall, West London, live and breathe on the pages of this book. The author whisks you away to his version of an area he obviously loves and it was an absolute joy to read. The inclusion of Punjabi words and phrases really added to the reading experience for me. I loved how the plot unfolded and how once again, Zaq and Jags find themselves knee-deep in a compelling mystery. I felt I was tagging along with the lads every step of the way as they unpicked what had happened and why. There’s a wonderful sense of unease and tension throughout which kept me on the edge of my seat. Culminating in a brilliant nerve-wracking finale.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I would recommend Stone Cold Trouble and Brothers in Blood. Brilliantly written Asian noir with great, satisfying dollops of grit and a big ol’ heart to boot. Refreshing, original, gutsy fiction and I bloody love it! Highly recommended.

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

Stone Cold Trouble by Amer Anwar was published in the UK by Dialogue Books on 24th September 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

amer anwarAmer Anwar grew up in West London. After leaving college he had a variety of jobs, including warehouse assistant, comic book lettering artist, driver for emergency doctors and chalet rep in the French Alps. He eventually settled into a career as a designer/creative artworker producing artwork mainly for the home entertainment industry. He has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London and is a winner of the Crime Writers” Association Debut Dagger Award. Brothers in Blood is his first novel. Stone Cold Trouble is his second.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

#BookReview: The Home by Mats Strandberg (translated by Agnes Broome) @JoFletcherBooks @QuercusBooks #TheHome #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the home“Once inseparable, Joel and Nina haven’t spoken in twenty years.

When Joel’s mother Monika develops dementia, he has no choice but to return to his home town. Monika needs specialist care, and that means Pineshade – which also means Joel is going to have to deal with his one-time best friend, for Nina works there.

It’s not long before Monika’s health deteriorates – she starts having violent, terrifying outbursts, and worse, she appears to know things she couldn’t possibly know. It’s almost as if she isn’t herself any more . . . but of course, that’s true of most of the residents at Pineshade.

Only Nina and Joel know Monika well enough to see the signs; only by working together can they try to find answers to the inexplicable . . .

The Home is an eerie story about love, friendship and the greatest fear of all: losing control of ourselves . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my fifteenth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Home by Mats Strandberg (translated by Agnes Broome). The Home is published by Jo Fletcher Books later this week on 6th August 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review an eARC of The Home but that has in no way influenced my review.

The Home is a compelling, immersive piece of quality fiction and it absolutely broke my heart. As a contemporary horror novel it also made me very uneasy and gave me chills. It ticks all the boxes in that respect. But this isn’t a fast-paced thrill ride featuring the same old, same old we’ve all seen time and time again. Oh no. It’s a beautifully written tale featuring some of the most exquisitely drawn characters I’ve had the pleasure to meet in fiction. A very memorable read and one I relished spending time with.

Joel Edlund has made the very difficult decision to put his mother, Monika, in a nursing home specifically for people suffering from dementia. His mother, who lived on her own until a heart attack, has become a danger to herself after the onset of dementia. Joel has his own poor excuse of a life back in Stockholm and he wants to return, leaving his mother in the capable hands of the staff at Pineshade nursing home. But before he leaves he needs to pack up his mother’s house and instruct estate agents to put it on the market. He can’t escape the past as he clears out trinkets and mementoes his mother has kept over the years. Nor when he goes to visit his mother, as his ex-best friend from his teenage years, Nina, works at the home. He hoped he’d never see her again after their friendship broke down so irreparably. But during his strained visits, Joel starts to notice a distinct change in his mother. Her health is worsening, strange things are happening and she’s not the same woman who arrived at the home only a short time ago. Joel isn’t the only one to notice how strangely Monika is behaving. Nina, who used to see Monika as a second mother, is just as concerned. What has happened to make her act in such an odd way? And how does she know the deepest, darkest secrets of the staff at the home…

I always get excited about a book when the characters stand out from the page for me, and this is a wonderful example of some truly beautiful creations. The characters in The Home are everything. They broke my heart, they made me smile and they scared the bejesus out of me. I became completely involved in their day to day lives. So much so, I think I may have fallen a little bit in love with some of the residents of Pineshade. But please don’t get me wrong. This is a dark and frightening tale of losing ourselves and of losing control. Our main characters, Joel and Nina, were also very well-written and I enjoyed seeing them begin to relate to one another again after so much time apart.

This isn’t a thrilling, high-octane read but a slow meander through the very different, but fascinating, lives of a group of interesting people who all end up, for one reason or another, under the same roof. The pace suited the book perfectly and I was more than happy to lose myself for a few hours in Pineshade and Skredsby. The Swedish setting was something a little different and I lapped it up. I’m a fan of translated fiction which meant The Home gained another big tick from me!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re considering reading horror fiction for the first time I think The Home would be an excellent place to start. It’s creepy and unsettling, with bucketloads of eerie and I loved it. When I knew where the story was heading (this was quite near the end) I could tell what the final twist was going to be but that didn’t take anything away. I really enjoyed reading The Home and it’s going to stay with me for some time to come. I think I’m still a little bit in love.

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

The Home by Mats Strandberg (translated by Agnes Broome) was published in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books on 6th August 2020 and is available in paperback and digital format (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 | Goodreads |

20-books

about-the-author3

I have always loved horror. As a kid, I preferred the Grimm fairytales over the Disney versions, and when I was ten years old I discovered Stephen King. I devoured his terrifying stories with much gusto (even while breaking out in stress-related hives).

The love of horror has stayed with me. Also my love of books. I write for children, teens and adults.  To me, it isn’t really that different. It’s all about characters, and what happens when ordinary people find themselves in extraordinary situations.

Author image and bio © http://matsstrandberg.com/