#BookReview: When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins @panmacmillan #WhenIWasTen #damppebbles

“Twenty-one years ago, Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were killed in what has become the most infamous double murder of the modern age.

Their ten year-old daughter – nicknamed the Angel of Death – spent eight years in a children’s secure unit and is living quietly under an assumed name with a family of her own.

Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down her older sister, compelling her to break two decades of silence.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and journalist Brinley Booth, a childhood friend of the Carter sisters, is tasked with covering the news story.

For the first time, the three women are forced to confront what really happened that night – with devastating consequences for them all.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins. When I Was Ten was published by Pan Macmillan in paperback format on 30th December 2021 and is also available in hardcover, audio and digital formats.

I have been wanting to read When I Was Ten since it first landed on my radar last year. Having finished one book, I was in a strange ‘nothing really appeals…’ mood and was looking for something a little dark and a little uncomfortable to get my teeth into. Which is when this book suddenly sprang to mind! Without a second thought, I downloaded a copy and made a start straight away. And what a devastating and utterly compelling story When I Was Ten is. I absolutely loved it!

Twenty-one years ago Richard and Pamela Carter were viciously murdered in their beds. The case became infamous, partly due to the respect held by the local community for Dr Carter – the local GP – but mainly because the killer was their youngest daughter. After spending time in a secure unit for children, the daughter assumed a new identity and started a new life. But now a documentary crew have found the older of the two sisters and questions are being asked. The Angel of Death is back in the spotlight, the last place she ever wanted to be, and her new life is about to come crashing down around her…

Oh my goodness, When I Was Ten is SO GOOD! This is, I’m ashamed to admit, the first book I’ve read by this author despite being told repeatedly by fellow readers for years that I would love her books. They were right.  I loved the story, the characters and Cummins’ writing. So much so, I plan to download the author’s entire back catalogue as soon as I’m physically able to.

When I Was Ten centres around the Carter sisters and their friend and neighbour from 21 years ago, Brinley Booth. Told in the past and the present, we get to hear from journalist Brinley as she decides whether to reveal her connection to the biggest story of the year to her boss. In doing so, she knows it’ll give her failing career a real boost. But does she really want to dredge up difficult memories from that time again? Particularly as Brinley knows more than she’s letting on. We also get to hear from Catherine as her carefully created life crumbles around her. As her daughter and husband realise who has actually been head of their family for the last twelve years. How well do we really know those we’re closest to? There are also deeply unsettling flashbacks to the past which show the reader how the Carter sisters were treated by their supposedly perfect parents in their nice big house. It makes for difficult reading at times but I couldn’t tear myself away!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. When I Was Ten is dark and twisty and absolutely everything I love about crime fiction. There were a number of brilliantly written surprises along the way, some which left me with my jaw on the floor. I thought the characters were very well-written and really pulled the reader into the story. The book is paced beautifully, encouraging ‘just one more chapter’ before turning out the light. But before you know it, half of the night has passed and you know you’ll be living on coffee and fumes come the morning *true story* (it was so worth it though 😉)! When I Was Ten is undoubtedly one of my favourite reads of 2022 and fans of family centred crime thrillers should put this one top of their wish list. You’ll be missing out on something quite special if you don’t! Hugely compelling, immensely readable, heart breaking and unexpectedly emotional, and impossible to put down. Loved it. Highly recommended.

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins was published in the UK by Pan Macmillan on 30th December 2021 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Fiona CumminsFiona Cummins is an award-winning former Daily Mirror showbusiness journalist and a graduate of the Faber Academy, where she now teaches her own Writing Crime course. She is the bestselling author of five crime thriller novels, all of which have received widespread critical acclaim from household names including Val McDermid, Lee Child, David Baldacci, Martina Cole and Ian Rankin. Three of her novels have been optioned for television.

Rattle, her debut, has been translated into several languages and Marcel Berlins wrote in The Times: ‘Amid the outpouring of crime novels, Rattle is up there with the best of them.’ Fiona was selected for McDermid’s prestigious New Blood panel at the 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, where her novel was nominated for a Dead Good Reader Award for Most Exceptional Debut. A sequel, The Collector, was published in February 2018 and David Baldacci described it as ‘A crime novel of the very first order’.

Her third novel – standalone thriller The Neighbour – was published in April 2019. Ian Rankin called it ‘creepy as hell’. Her fourth novel When I Was Ten, an Irish Times bestseller, was published in April 2021. Into The Dark, Fiona’s fifth novel, will be published in April 2022 and was described by Sarah Vaughan, author of Netflix smash-hit Anatomy of A Scandal, as ‘Complex. Inventive. Twisty. Unsettling.’

When Fiona is not writing, she can be found on Twitter, eating biscuits or walking her dogs. She lives in Essex with her family.

#BookReview: Sundial by Catriona Ward @ViperBooks @ThePigeonholeHQ #Sundial #damppebbles

You can’t escape the desert. You can’t escape Sundial.

Rob fears for her daughters. For Callie, who collects tiny bones and whispers to imaginary friends. For Annie, because of what Callie might do to her. Rob sees a darkness in Callie that reminds her of the family she left behind. She decides to take Callie back to Sundial, her childhood home deep in the Mojave Desert. And there she will have to make a terrible choice.

Callie is afraid of her mother. Rob has begun to look at her strangely. To tell her secrets about her past that both disturb and excite her. And Callie is beginning to wonder if only one of them will leave Sundial alive…

A gripping gothic masterpiece from the bestselling and award-winning author of THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET, SUNDIAL is a must-read for fans of GIRL A and SHARP OBJECTS.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Sundial by Catriona Ward. Sundial was published by Viper Books on 10th March 2022 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 eARC of Sundial but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to The Pigeonhole for providing me with a copy.

The Last House on Needless Street was, without a doubt, one of the biggest books of 2021. It’s been shortlisted for awards, the rights have been sold all over the world, it topped the charts, it featured on several TV book clubs, the film rights have been optioned and most importantly of all (in my opinion, anyway) it was the joint winner of #R3COMM3ND3D2021. It’s HUGE and rightly so. So it goes without saying that the latest release from Ward and Viper Books was going to be a must read for many. Myself included. I could not wait to read this book!

Rob and Irving have two beautiful daughters, rewarding teaching careers, they live in a good neighbourhood and take the utmost care of their house. Life, on the outside, looks perfect for the Cussens family. But Rob knows the truth. There’s something about her eldest daughter, Callie, which puts her on edge. To the point where she feels her other daughter, Annie, isn’t safe. When the proof arrives, Rob makes the decision to move Callie as far away from her sibling as possible for a few days and drives to her family home of Sundial in the Mojave Desert. In the isolation of the desert, surrounded by painful, difficult memories and the ghosts of her family, Rob will have to make the hardest decision she’s ever made….

Dark and disturbing, Sundial was an absolute dream to read. I adored every unsettling moment I spent amongst the pages of this exquisite novel. The author is a master at writing highly complex, utterly intriguing, yet deeply flawed characters who, over time, reveal their true selves, and it makes for compulsive reading. I adored Rob. It’s clear from the moment she and Callie arrive at Sundial that her past, and her family, were very different to the norm. Dysfunctional is an understatement! The more the reader discovers, the more shocking things become. I’m loathe to say too much in fear of giving something away that I shouldn’t. There are so many well-plotted layers to this novel that each chapter brings a new revelation. Something to twist and shape what you thought into something new and different which makes for a thrilling, unpredictable reading experience.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Sundial is highly original, darkly compelling and totally twisted (in the best way possible). The pressure really was on for the author following the huge success of The Last House on Needless Street but by George, she’s gone and done it again! Sundial is a very different beast to its predecessor but I think I preferred it ever so slightly. Both books are superb but I think this one, for me, takes the edge. The setting is very well drawn, I could feel the heat of the Mojave Desert blistering my skin. The characters have real depth and I felt as though they were living and breathing in front of me. The plot flowed beautifully, keeping me within the pages and occupying my thoughts when I wasn’t reading. Addictive, uncomfortable at times but truly stunning in concept and delivery. Psychological horror at its absolute finest and this book firmly puts Ward on my ‘must read’ author list. I’m excited to see what Catriona Ward delivers next! Highly recommended.

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

Sundial by Catriona Ward was published in the UK by Viper Books on 10th March 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

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

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

Her next book, SUNDIAL will be published by Nightfire (US) and Viper (UK) in March 2022.

Ward’s second novel LITTLE EVE won the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award, as well as the August Derleth Prize at the British Fantasy Awards, and was a Guardian best book of 2018. LITTLE EVE will be published in the US by Tor Nightfire in October 2022.

Ward’s debut RAWBLOOD also won the 2016 August Derleth, making her the only woman to have won the prize twice. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. ‘The Pier at Ardentinny’ was shortlisted for the ALCS Tom Gallon Trust Award organised by the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in London and Devon.

#BookReview: This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel @MichaelJBooks #ThisMightHurt #damppebbles

“Natalie Collins always has a plan.
Her troubled younger sister Kit rarely does.

Until Kit finds Wisewood, a secretive self-help retreat on a secluded Maine island. It promises you’ll leave a better, braver version of yourself.

But why does it forbid contact with the outside world? Why are there no testimonies from previous guests? Natalie fears it is some kind of cult.

Then, after six months of silence, she receives an email from Wisewood:

Would you like to come tell your sister what you did – or should we?

Who is digging into the sisters’ past? How did they discover Natalie’s secret? A secret that will destroy Kit.

She has no choice but to go to Wisewood, to find out if this place of healing has more sinister motives.

But as she’s about to discover, Wisewood is far easier to enter than to leave . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel. This Might Hurt was published by Penguin Michael Joseph last week (Thursday 3rd March 2022) 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 This Might Hurt but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Gaby at Penguin Michael Joseph for sending me a proof copy.

I thoroughly enjoyed Wrobel’s debut, The Recovery of Rose Gold, when I picked it up towards the end of 2021. The twisted mother/daughter story really wormed its way under my skin and I loved Wrobel’s deeply flawed characters. I was excited to read more by the author so was beyond delighted to receive an ARC of This Might Hurt, which I made a start on as soon as humanly possible!

Natalie Collins is a confident and assured businesswoman. She strives for the best and does everything she can to make it happen. Unlike her sister, Kit, who is emotional and a little bit needy. When Natalie receives an email from Wisewood Wellness and Therapy Centre concerning her sister, she’s immediately alarmed. The tone of the email is threatening, suggesting Natalie should tell Kit her secret before someone else does. In an attempt to control the situation and save Kit’s fragile feelings, Natalie drops everything and goes to Wisewood, despite knowing that visitors are most definitely NOT welcome nor permitted. On arrival it’s clear that not everything is as it seems. The set-up appears…cultish. The retreat members seem….brainwashed. What has Kit got herself into and will the sisters ever get themselves out…?

This Might Hurt is a suspense-laden story with themes of sisterhood, grief and vulnerability featuring two very different women, going about their lives and dealing with a recent trauma in very different ways. The reader gets to hear from a third, unknown younger voice as well and whilst I was keen to find out more about Natalie and Kit, the younger voice, for me, absolutely stole my attention. The unknown child is subjected to mental and physical cruelties by her heinous father who she and her sister, Jack, refer to as Sir. He pushes the child to be the best she can be and punishes her greatly for any failings (and there are many). As a result, the child turns to magic and begins to idolise Houdini. After all, Houdini managed to escape which is exactly what she hopes to do! I enjoyed Natalie’s chapters as she made her way to Wisewood but I REALLY looked forward to hearing from the unknown narrator. She had a new and unique voice which hooked me in and held my attention.

As a fairly avid reader of crime fiction and psychological thrillers I’m always thinking ahead when I read. Trying to work out how certain aspects of the plot will eventually fit together. I couldn’t for the life of me work out what part the unknown narrator would play but Wrobel brings everything together beautifully, ensuring all loose ends are expertly tied off.

There were many things I loved about This Might Hurt. The contrast between the two sisters, the isolation of the Wisewood island just off the coast of Maine, seeing exactly how far a manipulative and highly convincing person can push a bunch of intelligent but insecure individuals, and of course the cult/commune aspect (I do love fiction based around cults!). The setting really was very atmospheric and I could feel the chill air on my skin as things took a downturn for Natalie. The sense of being watched and constantly monitored was ever present. Wonderful stuff!

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. I enjoyed This Might Hurt with it’s fascinating characters, intricate plot and different setting. Wrobel writes the uncomfortable family dynamic very well and This Might Hurt, alongside The Recovery of Rose Gold, prove her talent beyond doubt.  A compelling read where the manipulation and control being dished out will send shivers down your spine and make you squirm. Very entertaining, highly original and full of tension. I look forward with baited breath to the authors next book. Recommended.

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

This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel was published in the UK by Penguin Michael Joseph on 3rd March 2022 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow (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 |

Stephanie WrobelStephanie Wrobel is the author of Darling Rose Gold, a USA Today and international bestseller that has sold in twenty-one countries and was shortlisted for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Wrobel grew up in Chicago and now lives in London. This Might Hurt is her second novel.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: All For You by Louise Jensen @HQstories #AllForYou #damppebbles

“MEET THE WALSH FAMILY

Lucy: Loving mother. Devoted wife. And falling to pieces.
Aidan: Dedicated father. Faithful husband. And in too deep.
Connor: Hardworking son. Loyal friend. But can never tell the truth.

Everyone in this family is hiding something, but one secret will turn out to be the deadliest of all . . .

Can this family ever recover when the truth finally comes out?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the All For You blog tour. All For You by Louise Jensen is published by HQ today (that’s Thursday 20th January 2022) and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of All For You but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Louise for sending me a proof copy.

Louise Jensen is one of my very favourite authors. I adore her psychological thrillers because you’re always guaranteed to be hit by a big twist you didn’t see coming. The kind of jaw dropping surprise that makes an already great story, unforgettable. Jensen really knows how to get under the skin of her characters making them totally believable and fully formed, ensuring each and every time you pick up a book by this author, you’ll have the best kind of reading experience.

The Walsh family are doing their best but the cracks are beginning to show. Mum, Lucy, is at her wits end having given up a successful career to look after poorly son, Kieron. Older son, Connor, is trying to get on with his life despite being gradually eaten away by guilt. Dad, Aiden, has his own secrets which his family must never discover or the repercussions could be devastating. But there’s no hiding from the truth. All secrets end up being revealed in the end. And for the Walsh family, it could tear them apart…

Absolutely bloody marvellous! The author has done it again and written a completely gripping, thoroughly engaging family based thriller with one heck of a killer twist. Jensen is such a clever writer, not giving the slightest hint as to where she’s going to take the story and then BAM! The reader is knocked for six and I loved it. I mentioned above that Jensen’s thrillers are memorable and I doubt I’ll forget this one in a hurry.

The characters, as I have come to expect from a Louise Jensen novel, stand tall from the page. I found Lucy difficult to like to start with. She’s very preoccupied (as I expect you would be with a critically ill child) with Kieron’s health and well-being. She’s pushy and a little overbearing at times. Often neglecting seventeen year old Connor who, following a recent traumatic event in his own life, still needs his mum. I should add that I warmed to Connor upon meeting him so that most likely influenced my feelings towards Lucy too. Husband Aiden has his own problems and I thoroughly enjoyed the way his story is written, with unexpected twists and turns. How can one family hold so many devastating secrets?

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. You can’t go wrong with a Louise Jensen thriller and All For You is no different. A fantastically paced, tense and twisty tale which had me gripped from page one to the final word. The characters and dialogue are superbly written, the plot was completely addictive — I had to find out where the author was going to take the story, and the twists left me giddy with joy! I certainly will not be able to get over that big ol’ juicy twist for a while. Wow! Louise Jensen continues to be one of my very favourite authors. She can do no wrong, a master storyteller. Highly recommended.

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

All For You by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by HQ on 20th January 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 |

Louise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers ‘The Sister’, ‘The Gift’, ‘The Surrogate’, ‘The Date’, ‘The Family’ & ‘The Stolen Sisters’. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s seventh thriller, ‘All For You’, will be published in 2022 by Harper Collins.

Louise has been nominated for multiple awards including Goodreads Debut Author Of The Year, The Guardians ‘Not The Booker Prize’, best polish thriller of 2018 and she has also been listed for two CWA Dagger awards. All of Louise’s thrillers are currently under option for TV & film.

Louise also has a penchant for exploring the intricacies of relationships through writing heart-breaking, high-concept love stories under the pen name Amelia Henley. ‘The Life We Almost Had’ was an international best seller. her latest release ‘The Art of Loving You’ is out now.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

#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

#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 |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite @bookouture #TheGirlintheMissingPoster #BooksonTour #damppebbles

“24 June, 1994 – Nineteen-year-old Leila Hawkins runs from her father’s birthday party into the stormy night wearing her sister Stella’s long red coat. Some say she was crying, others swear they saw her get into a passing car. Nobody ever saw her again.

Present – This time every year, on the anniversary of that fateful night, Stella decorates the small seaside town she grew up in with pictures of her beautiful missing sister. But after twenty-five years, is it even worth hoping someone will come forward? Perhaps the upcoming documentary will spark people’s memories by reuniting all the guests who were there the night Leila went missing.

As old friends gather and long-buried secrets begin to surface, the last thing Stella ever expects is a direct response from someone claiming they took Leila. They want private details of Stella’s life in return for answers. But as the true events of the night of the party play out once again, who is lying? And who is next?

From the bestselling author of The Perfect Friend, this absolutely gripping psychological thriller will keep you up all night and leave you sleeping with the light on. If you loved Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Wife Between Us this book is for you!”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite – one of my most eagerly anticipated releases of the year! The Girl in the Missing Poster was published on 23rd February and is available in paperback, digital and audio formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Girl in the Missing Poster but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Bookouture for an early copy of the book.

I was giddy with excitement to have a brand new Barbara Copperthwaite novel in my mitts. I’m a huge fan of this author’s books and I highly recommend them all (although – ashamed as I am to admit it – I haven’t read Invisible yet…but it’s on the terrifying TBR!). Copperthwaite is one of my ‘go to’ authors and this latest novel – The Girl in the Missing Poster – marks her triumphant return!

Twenty-five years ago, on the night of her father’s 50th birthday party, Leila Hawkins grabbed what she thought was her new red coat and ran into the night. She was never seen again leaving her family, and in particular her nineteen-year-old twin Stella, lost and devastated. Every year, on the anniversary of Leila’s disappearance, Stella covers the town of Mereford in MISSING posters, all in the hope that someone will have a shred of new information to help Stella understand what happened that fateful night. Her plight brings her to the attention of a true crime documentary filmmaker and despite her reluctance, Stella agrees to take part and help raise awareness of her search. But the documentary does more than raise awareness. When Stella receives an email from someone claiming to be Leila’s killer, she knows she has to play the situation carefully and find out everything she can. But to get the information she craves, Stella has to share personal details with the killer. The more she learns, the more fearful she becomes. How far will Stella go to find the truth…?

Absolutely blimmin’ marvellous! I thoroughly enjoyed The Girl in the Missing Poster with its true crime focus and its immersive plot. The reader is drawn into Stella’s tale of – dare I say it – obsession and grief and is taken for one heck of a ride. Stella is all kinds of reckless and I adored her. I loved that the author hasn’t sugar coated Stella’s need for answers at all. This is what she needs and she’ll do whatever it takes to get the answers – BOOM! Brilliantly done.

Throughout the book there are transcripts from the documentary which help shed some light on what happened that fateful night twenty-five years ago. There are also emails from the person claiming to be Leila’s killer and it was these emails which had me on the edge of my seat. As the story progresses the level of wickedness coming from this person was palpable and I loved it.

My heart really went out to Stella who is unable to move on or live her own life because she feels half of her is missing. Her struggle to let someone new into her life added an interesting extra dimension to the book which – and I’m not a reader who enjoys any kind of romantic relationship in my novels – I enjoyed. Should Stella trust him though? I certainly didn’t. I didn’t trust any of the characters and that included Stella (psychological thriller 101, surely?! 😂).

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Girl in the Missing Poster is a thrilling, gripping read which I didn’t want to put down. I lived this tale alongside the characters and savoured every moment of the story. Stella is a very memorable character and I loved her determination (obsession) and her fearlessness (recklessness). A joy to read and I highly recommend it.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Girl in the Missing Poster. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Girl in the Missing Poster by Barbara Copperthwaite was published in the UK by Bookouture on 23rd February 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.ukWaterstonesBook DepositoryGoodreadsthe damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Barbara is the Amazon and USA Today bestselling author of psychological thrillers INVISIBLE, FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD, THE DARKEST LIES, and HER LAST SECRET.

More importantly, she loves cakes, wildlife photography and, last but definitely not least, her two dogs, Scamp and Buddy (who force her to throw tennis balls for them for hours).

Having spent over twenty years as a national newspaper and magazine journalist, Barbara has interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. She is fascinated by creating realistic, complex characters, and taking them apart before the readers’ eyes in order to discover just how much it takes to push a person over a line.

When not writing feverishly, she is often found hiding behind a camera, taking wildlife photographs.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen @HQstories #TheStolenSisters #damppebbles

the stolen sisters“Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?

Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.
 
Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of the brilliant The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen with you, and help kick off the amazing blog tour alongside the fabulous Emma Mitchell. My thanks to HQ for the blog tour invitation and eARC of the book. The Stolen Sisters will be published on 1st October 2020 and will be available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Stolen Sisters but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a HUGE Louise Jensen fan. I have read every single psychological thriller she has written, and will continue to do so because she is a master storyteller. I was really, REALLY looking forward to reading The Stolen Sisters and I was not disappointed. I loved this book. It gave me everything I was hoping for and so much more.

Carly, Marie and Leah Sinclair. Three sisters who went through hell twenty years ago when they were snatched from outside their home by two men and locked up in a dank and dilapidated room for days on end. Miraculously, the girls managed to escape, but that was only the beginning. Hell left their prison with them and followed them all the way home. Now, twenty years older, each of the sisters is bearing the brunt of those traumatic days as captives. Leah’s compulsions threaten to destroy her marriage and take her young son from her. Marie’s drinking problem has spiralled out of control, and Carly has never forgiven herself for not protecting her younger twin sisters enough and won’t let anyone get close to her. And let’s not forget the secrets. How much longer can the truth be kept hidden…?

The Stolen Sisters is an astonishingly good book and I savoured every moment I had with it. When I wasn’t reading this book, I was thinking about it. Pondering on the girls’ situation, trying to work out where the author was going to take the story (I failed at that, by the way) and generally relishing the author’s ability to tell a blimmin’ good story. It’s an absolutely cracking novel and if you love a family-driven psychological thriller, make sure you grab a copy. You won’t be disappointed.

The story is told from the past – we watch as the girls are taken from near their house at the tender ages of 13 and 8 – and the present day – where the reader witnesses the devastating long-term effects of the trauma suffered by the girls all those years ago. Leah’s compulsions, and how they impinge on her life, are eye-opening. The reader gets to see the gradual increase and deterioration of her condition as the anniversary looms. I found her anxiety and fear palpable. So cleverly written by the author. Out of all the characters in the book, we most closely follow Leah so I found myself warming to her more than the other two sisters. The majority of the chapters from the past are told from Carly’s point of view and my heart absolutely ached for her. Her disappointment in herself for not protecting her sisters enough and the mother role she took on whilst the girls were trapped, it almost broke me.

If you’ve read books by this author before you will be aware that she is a master at deceiving her reader (in the very best way possible). This is another wonderful example of why Jensen’s books are so incredibly popular. I had no idea where the story was going but when we got there, WOW! Dark and twisted – just how I like my books. I certainly didn’t see that one coming! I was gripped from start to finish. Even though it’s clear from the outset that the girls escape, the chapters set in the past still had me on the edge of my seat.

Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would, yes. I loved The Stolen Sisters. It’s the most enjoyable, absorbing and exciting psychological thriller I have read in a long time. I was 100% in the pages of this book living the story alongside the characters. A highly emotive read that is incredibly tense and the ultimate page-turner. Did I mention that I loved The Stolen Sisters? Oh well, worth mentioning again. I loved The Stolen Sisters! Louise Jensen is a superb writer. It was an absolute joy to read this book and I will savour the memory of it for a long time to come. Highly recommended.

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

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen was published in the UK by HQ on 1st October 2020 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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louise jensenLouise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift, The Surrogate and The Date. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s sixth thriller, Stolen Sisters, will be published in Autumn 2020 by Harper Collins.

The Sister was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award. The Date was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize 2018. The Surrogate has been nominated for the best Polish thriller of 2018. The Gift has been optioned for a TV film.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

#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 |

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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: Tattletale by Sarah J. Naughton @TrapezeBooks #Tattletale #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

tattletale“One day changes Jody’s life forever. She has shut herself down, haunted by her memories and unable to trust anyone. But then she meets Abe, the perfect stranger next door and suddenly life seems full of possibility and hope.

One day changes Mags’s life forever. After years of estrangement from her family, Mags receives a shocking phone call. Her brother Abe is in hospital and no-one knows what happened to him. She meets his fiancé Jody, and gradually pieces together the ruins of the life she left behind. But the pieces don’t quite seem to fit…

Packed with twists and turns, this gripping psychological thriller will make you question whether we can ever really trust the ones we love.

Hello and welcome bookish friend to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my seventeenth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for Tattletale by Sarah J. Naughton. Tattletale was published by Trapeze Books on 21st September 2017 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review an eARC of Tattletale but that has in no way influenced my review.

So this book was a whole lot darker than I ever expected it to be! I like to read fiction that errs on the dark side but with this book, I had to put it down and take a break a couple of times. It’s a great book and I enjoyed reading it, but it got under my skin. The way the best fiction does.

Mags returns to the UK following her brother’s horrific accident. He’s on life support and she’s been told to prepare for the worst. She goes to the hospital, meets her brother’s devastated fiancee for the first time and tries to come to terms with what has happened. Mags and Abe were never close as children. More like rivals really, out to get the other in trouble as much as possible with their controlling and aggressive father. The divide between the siblings seems too wide now though, and Mags wants to change that before it’s too late. So she moves into Abe’s flat, spends time with Jody, his fiancee, and starts to discover things she never knew about her brother. But not everything fits. Not everyone is telling Mags the truth. Then she discovers something which makes no sense at all. Who is lying to Mags and why…?

The chapters are broken down into sections and told from one of four perspectives; Jody – Abe’s fiancee, Mags, Mira – a neighbour, and an unknown young female narrator whose chapters are harrowing and difficult at times to read. This is probably the most appropriate point in my review to do something I don’t normally do, and that’s issue a warning. This book contains some very distressing scenes of sexual abuse and rape against children. For that reason, it’s not going to be for everyone.

The plot doesn’t stop moving from the moment you open the book and I was immediately sucked into the story. The opening packs a punch with its vivid imagery and intriguing characters. There’s a feeling though that you, as the reader, aren’t party to everything that’s going on, or gone on before. You’re missing…..’something’, but what is it? It’s a very intriguing start and the book had its hooks in me from then on. The wonderful sense of impending doom helped as well. I do love a sense of foreboding!

There isn’t a lot I can say about the characters without putting my foot in it so I won’t go into detail. But I will say, I couldn’t decide if I liked or loathed Mags. Mags is the character we spend the most time with and at times I think it may have been a bit of both. She was quite judgmental and superior for a large proportion of the book, which riled me. She rubbed me up the wrong way and I don’t think there was any going back from that point.

Would I recommend this book? I would yes, But please heed my warning about the abuse if that’s something you like to avoid in your fiction. It has its place in this novel but it’s a tough read. Tattletale is a multi-layered, intense read for fans of the psychological suspense genre and one I enjoyed. I did find the ending a smidge far-fetched but as I always say, if you can’t stretch the limits a little in fiction, when can you? I also saw one of the twists coming but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of this book as there were plenty more twists and turns coming my way that did surprise me. Recommended.

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

Tattletale by Sarah J. Naughton was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 21st September 2017 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 |

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Sarah J. Naughton

Sarah Naughton’s debut novel, The Hanged Man Rises, was shortlisted for the Costa children’s award. It was followed by a second young adult thriller, The Blood List. Her thrillers for adults, Tattletale and The Other Couple (Orion) are Amazon bestsellers. Sarah lives in London with her husband and sons.