#BookReview: One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke @HarperCollinsUK #OneoftheGirls #damppebbles

“ONE IS A LIAR.
ONE IS A STRANGER.
ONE IS A CHEATER.
WHO IS A KILLER?
We were dying for a holiday . . .

The six of us arrived on that beautiful Greek island dreaming of sun-drenched beaches and blood orange sunsets, ready to lose ourselves in the wild freedom of a weekend away with friends.
On the first night we swam under a blanket of stars.
On the second night the games began on our clifftop terrace.
On the third night the idyll cracked, secrets and lies whispering on the breeze.
And by the final night there was a body on the rocks below . . .
Who would kill for it?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke. One of the Girls is published by HarperCollins today (that’s Thursday 26th May 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow. I chose to read and review a free eARC of One of the Girls but that has in no way influenced my review.

I thoroughly enjoyed Clarke’s previous thriller, The Castaways, last year. I found it very compelling with great characters and I loved the ending. So much so, I can still remember it clearly now. So when I saw the author was about to publish a new book I leapt at the chance to read it. And it’s now safe to say Clarke is firmly on my ‘must read author list’ because I LOVED One of the Girls.

Lexi is getting married! And to celebrate, her best friend, Bella, has convinced her a hen party would be brilliant idea. They and four of Lexi’s friends are heading to the Greek island of Aegos for four nights and some much needed time away from ‘real life’. But when the women arrive, it’s clear the cracks are already starting to show. Everyone has secrets. This group of six woman have more than most. And by the end of their exotic getaway, someone will be dead and someone will be a killer…

I flew through this book, completely absorbed and soaking up the Greek sun with this disparate group of women. I can’t express how much I loved everything about it. The characters are all so different but they work so well together. An odd group of women brought together to celebrate Lexi, but you can feel the tensions simmering under the surface and you can’t help but ask yourself ‘what is actually going on here?’. That intrigue, that sense that there was so much more to come, really hooked me into the story.

Lexi is a sweetheart and it’s clear to the reader why these women have travelled for hours to celebrate her forthcoming nuptials. Bella, her maid of honour and self-appointed best friend, is such a character! Obnoxious and brassy, I really liked her but I think I’ll be in the minority on that one. She’s spoilt and demanding, utterly frustrating at times. But I thought she was written so well. She elicits an emotional response from the reader and I appreciated that. The other women, who I won’t go into detail about here otherwise this review will be as long as the book (!), are fantastic creations. All individual personalities, all with their own totally believable backstory, all with their own heartaches and simmering resentments.

The plot is paced beautifully and I was in the story from the moment I picked the book up to the moment I put the book down. This is one of those novels I enjoyed so much that I was sad when it was over (although, in truth, I did race to the conclusion keen to find out how things would end so it was my own darn fault really!). There are many twists and turns along the way, some I was able to see coming, others knocked me for six and I loved that moment of shock the author delivered.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved One of the Girls and I’ll probably re-read it in the future as I’m keen to return to Aegos and be reunited with this fascinating, eclectic group of women and their complicated friendships. The setting was exquisite (yes, I’m desperate for a holiday!), the plot was so well drawn and thought out but the characters absolutely did it for me. They felt like real people and I was watching an edge-of-your seat TV drama play out before me. Clarke is such a talented writer and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next. A hugely compulsive read featuring divine characters and their bubbling resentments which I couldn’t get enough of. Totally addictive. I loved it! Highly recommended.

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

One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 26th May 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Lucy Clarke

Lucy Clarke is the bestselling author of six psychological thrillers – THE SEA SISTERS, A SINGLE BREATH, THE BLUE/NO ESCAPE, LAST SEEN, YOU LET ME IN and THE CASTAWAYS. Her debut novel was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick, and her books have been sold in over 20 territories.

Lucy is a passionate traveller, beach hut dweller, and fresh air enthusiast. She’s married to a professional windsurfer and, together with their two young children, they spend their winters travelling and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut, using the inspiration from the wild south coast to craft her stories.

#BookReview: The Echo Man by Sam Holland @HarperCollinsUK #TheEchoMan #damppebbles

“The murders have begun…
Across England, a string of murders is taking place. Each different in method, but each horrifying and brutal.

But the killer is just getting started…
Jess Ambrose is plunged into the investigation when her house is set ablaze. With her husband dead and the police pointing at her, she runs. Her only hope is disgraced detective Nate Griffin, who is convinced Jess is innocent.

And he’s going to shock the world…
Soon, Jess and Griffin discover the unthinkable; this murderer is copying the world’s most notorious serial killers. And now, imitation isn’t enough. The killer dubbed The Echo Man is ready to create his own masterpiece, and it will be more terrifying than anything that has come before…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Echo Man by Sam Holland. The Echo Man is published by HarperCollins next week (that’s Thursday 14th April 2022) and will be 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 The Echo Man but that has in no way influenced my review.

There was no way on earth I was going to be able to resist this book! Serial killer thrillers are my absolute go-to sub genre and I would happily read nothing but serial killer thrillers all year long if I had the chance. The Echo Man absolutely screamed my name so as soon as I got hold of a copy, I got stuck in. I couldn’t resist!

Jess Ambrose is thrown from her seemingly perfect yet boring life into a terrifying situation when her house burns down. Her husband was trapped in the blaze and didn’t survive but thankfully, Jess was able to rescue her young daughter. With her daughter in intensive care, Jess immediately realises that she is the prime suspect for setting the fire so she makes a run for it. What Jess doesn’t realise is that the fire was set by a serial killer who is carrying out multiple murders, all inspired by some of the worst killers of our time. With the help of disgraced ex-police detective, Nate Griffin, can they work out the twisted killers next move? And stop him before he creates his own deadly masterpiece…?

The Echo Man is one helluva debut which serial killer thriller fans will devour with glee. It’s dark, it’s definitely disturbing and it’s going to fly off the shelves, without a doubt. The concept of this book ticks so many boxes for me. As I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of the serial killer thriller but bringing real life cases into the story really escalates the plot into something I don’t think I’ve experienced before. I was turning the pages at a rate of knots, keen to discover what dastardly deed would befall the helpless victim next. Which real life case would inspire our killer and would I manage to keep my lunch down for a bit longer! And I don’t jest there, there are some pretty tummy turning scenes in this book so if you’re not of a strong disposition, this may not be the book for you.

The characters are well written and kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn’t particularly warm to any of them but being a dark and edgy crime thriller, I don’t believe relatable characters are always a necessary requirement. I want my crime fiction characters to shock and surprise me with their actions, be unpredictable yet driven – be it catching a killer or fulfilling their dastardly MO. After all, they’re treading a dangerous line which I, in real life, don’t want to be a part of. Warm and fluffy is NOT an option in crime fiction. I found Nate Griffin the most interesting and compelling of the cast. Following a frenzied attack the previous year which left his wife dead and him badly injured, Nate is now addicted to painkillers and his supply steadily runs out over the course of the book. But that doesn’t stop Nate from wanting to catch the killer, alongside his former colleagues in the force – DCI Cara Elliot and DS Noah Deakin. All of the characters play their part well and make this debut quite the page turner!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Echo Man is a very readable novel which I enjoyed immersing myself in. The writing is excellent, the storyline is well plotted and very compelling. However, I did have a couple of tiny bug bears which interrupted the flow for me a little. The female characters in the book are referred to by their first names. The male characters tend to be referred to by their surnames. It was most noticeable with DCI Cara Elliot, compared with DS Nate Griffin and DS Noah Deakin. She was Cara, they were Griffin and Deakin. The ending also felt a little sudden, almost as though the story wasn’t quite done. It may be there is more to come and if that is the case, that makes sense. But for me, as it stands, I was a little disappointed by the ending. But they are teeny tiny personal quibbles and don’t take away from the fact this is a cracking debut which crime thriller fans should make a point of reading. I truly believe this book is going to be HUGE. Recommended.

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

The Echo Man by Sam Holland was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 14th 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Sam HollandHaving always been fascinated with the dark and macabre, Sam Holland’s love of reading was forged in the library through Stephen King, Dean Koontz and James Herbert. A self-confessed serial killer nerd, Holland studied psychology at university then spent the next few years working in HR, before quitting for a full-time career in writing. The Echo Man is the result.

#BookReview: The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley @fictionpubteam @harpercollinsuk #TheParisApartment #damppebbles

“Welcome to No.12 rue des Amants

A beautiful old apartment block, far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower and the bustling banks of the Seine.

Where nothing goes unseen, and everyone has a story to unlock.

The watchful concierge
The scorned lover
The prying journalist
The naïve student
The unwanted guest

There was a murder here last night.
A mystery lies behind the door of apartment three.

Who holds the key?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley. The Paris Apartment will be published later this week on Thursday 3rd March by HarperCollins in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow later this year. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Paris Apartment but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a huge fan of Lucy Foley’s mystery novels. Her previous two books (The Hunting Party and The Guest List) both managed, on two completely separate occasions, to pull me out of a reading slump with their clever plotting, atmospheric settings and intriguing cast of characters. The publication of Foley’s latest novel has quickly become one of the most anticipated highlights of my reading year. So I couldn’t wait to get stuck into The Paris Apartment.

Jess arrives in Paris looking forward to escaping her life back home whilst spending some quality time with half-brother, Ben. Ben isn’t so keen however, having built himself a new life as a journalist in Paris and now living in an exclusive apartment block. When Jess arrives at No.12 rue des Amants though, something is amiss. Ben, who promised to be there, is nowhere to be seen and something just isn’t quite right. Jess’s concern for Ben grows as days pass without word from her brother. She begins to search for clues as to his whereabouts, reaching out to the other residents, seeking help and information. The other residents of the apartment block are reluctant to get involved though leaving Jess facing dead-end after dead-end. Can Jess discover the fate of her brother and unearth the secrets of the Paris apartment….?

Twisty, chock full of suspense and with shedloads of intrigue. The reader gets to meet Ben as he prepares for his half-sister’s arrival, only for him to suddenly vanish. From that moment on the reader is drawn into this compelling mystery and watches as Jess tries to make sense of Ben’s disappearance and the scarce clues left behind. Foley once again manages to lull her readers into a false sense of security, pulling the wool masterfully over our eyes only to whip the carpet out from beneath our feet at the most surprising moment. I loved the twists and turns throughout the book. Foley’s books always provide an exquisite moment when you realise all is not as it seems. It’s shocking, it’s heart stuttering and I love the thrill of the reveal.

The Paris Apartment bears many hallmarks of Foley’s previous mysteries but this one did feel different to me. In previous books the setting has been isolated and enclosed. The characters are left to deal with what’s happening to them very much alone and miles from help. The main setting in The Paris Apartment does provide a similar sense of isolation with the heavy, locked gates and the ever-watchful, ever-present concierge. However, the author also has the thriving metropolis of Paris to play with providing Jess with a myriad of new opportunities to investigate and new characters to introduce throughout the story. Definitely a Lucy Foley book but…different. ‘Good’ different.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Paris Apartment is an intriguing mystery novel which I enjoyed reading. I warmed to Jess over the course of the book and I loved discovering more about the peculiar residents of No.12 rue des Amants, along with their deep, dark secrets. Well-paced with a somewhat eerie setting and plenty of fascinating characters, I found The Paris Apartment to be a very readable novel with tons of suspense and twists galore. Recommended.

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

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley was published in the UK by HarperCollins 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.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Lucy Foley is the No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party and The Guest List, with two and a half million copies sold worldwide. Lucy’s thrillers have also hit the New York Times and the Irish Times bestseller lists, been shortlisted for the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year Award at the British Book Awards, selected as one of The Times and Sunday Times Crime Books of the Year, and The Guest List was a Reese’s Book Club choice. Lucy’s novels have been translated into multiple languages and her journalism has appeared in publications such as Sunday Times Style, Grazia, ES Magazine, Vogue US, Elle, Tatler, Marie Claire and more.

#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.

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

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

A convicted murderer with a story to tell

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

A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth

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

A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 22nd July 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow in 2022 (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

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

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

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

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

#BookReview: The Castaways by Lucy Clarke @HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #TheCastaways #damppebbles

“A SECRET BEACH.
A HOLIDAY OF A LIFETIME.
WISH YOU WERE HERE?

THINK AGAIN…

It should be like any other holiday.

Beautiful beaches.
Golden sunsets.
Nothing for miles.

You’ll never want to leave.
Until you can’t…

Gripping, twisty and full of sun-soaked atmosphere, THE CASTAWAYS will whisk you far away to the island – and never let you go.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Castaways by Lucy Clarke. The Castaways will be published in paperback format on Thursday (that’s 8th July 2021) by HarperCollins and is also available in hardcover, audio and ebook. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Castaways but that has in no way influenced my review.

Well, this book delivered a whole lot more than I was expecting! I’m a bit of a weirdo in that I’m fascinated by air disasters and regular readers of damppebbles may have noticed an increase in books with a plane crash, hijack or disappearance as the theme featuring strongly over the last month or so. I think an abundance of Sunday lunchtime ‘reality’ shows in my youth taught me that if you’re a castaway, you probably got to be one following the sinking of your boat (or the producers dropped you and a number of other overly attractive ‘survivors’ off earlier that morning 🤭). That is not the case in this gripping page-turner of a thriller, no siree. One uninhabited island and one small passenger plane en-route to an exclusive Fijian resort make for a compelling tale which hooked me instantly.

The blurb doesn’t give a lot away but this is a book about guilt, about the bond held between two sisters, it’s about perseverance, about obsession and about falling in love. It also has a deliciously dark vein running through its pages. After all, this is not the intended trip to paradise the characters originally set out for. The need to survive against all odds, the threat strangers can bring, the lies we tell and the secrets we keep all contribute to a fascinating and engaging storyline. I thoroughly enjoyed The Castaways and discovering more about sisters, Lori and Erin.

Lori, following her recent separation from her husband, books a holiday for her and Erin at an exclusive island resort in Fiji. The night before their flight from the mainland to the resort, they argue. The following day, Lori goes to board the plane but Erin doesn’t show. A nervous flyer, she boards anyway, casting a wary eye over her fellow travellers. Something doesn’t feel right, one or two of the other passengers are making her nervous, and rightly so. Partway to the island, the flight disappears leaving Erin distraught and full of guilt. It should have been both of them on that plane. Whatever happened to Lori, she went through it alone. Erin, a journalist, becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her sister. Guilt pushes her on. But the trail gradually goes cold. Until two years later, when a survivor is found…

The Castaways has a cast of skilfully written characters and an atmospheric setting which I thoroughly enjoyed. I don’t want to say too much about this book as I feel, because of the brief blurb, that anything I do say could unintentionally be a spoiler. So I’ll keep the rest of this review short and sweet because I already feel as though what I’ve said could be bordering on spoiler territory (although the title of the book – The Castaways – does provide a little reassurance).

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Castaways is a compelling story told with confidence. I really loved the ending, it wasn’t at all what I was expecting but it felt strangely right following what had come before. All in all, a very readable, very entertaining tale which I recommend.

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

The Castaways by Lucy Clarke was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 8th July 2021 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Lucy ClarkeLucy Clarke is the bestselling author of six psychological thrillers – THE SEA SISTERS, A SINGLE BREATH, THE BLUE/NO ESCAPE, LAST SEEN, YOU LET ME IN and THE CASTAWAYS. Her debut novel was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick, and her books have been sold in over 20 territories.

Lucy is a passionate traveller, beach hut dweller, and fresh air enthusiast. She’s married to a professional windsurfer and, together with their two young children, they spend their winters travelling and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut, using the inspiration from the wild south coast to craft her stories.

#BookReview: Girl A by Abigail Dean @HarperFiction @HarperCollinsUK @1stMondayCrime #GirlA #FirstMondayCrime #damppebbles

Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of the most talked about books of 2021 so far – Girl A by Abigail Dean. Girl A was published by HarperCollins on 21st January 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free copy of Girl A but that has in no way influenced my review.

Abigail Dean is one of the authors appearing at March’s First Monday event over on Facebook (the first gathering – although online – for 2021!). Read on to find out more and how you can get involved!

Girl A is a hugely popular book, and rightly so. It is exquisitely written, emotional and pulls the reader into the story of the Gracie children. It’s a book I was keen to read following a couple of really enticing blog reviews, and I’m so glad I did.

Lex Gracie is a survivor. A survivor of child abuse. She and her six siblings are the infamous Gracie children who were discovered in a house of horrors near Manchester. Malnourished, abandoned and neglected by their cruel, deluded parents. But Lex escaped and ran for help. And now she’s Girl A – her identity hidden from the press and the watching world. Her life picked apart and put back together again, along with the lives of her siblings. Years later, following the death of her mother, Lex is made executor of her estate and finally has to confront her past and the house which became her prison. The dream, with her sister Evie, is to turn the house of horrors into a community centre. But to do that Lex must visit each of her siblings and get them to sign on the dotted line. Can Lex relive her traumatic past to make a positive change for her future…

Lex is such a complicated character but I really enjoyed spending time with her. Despite numerous sessions with a psychologist, she still bears the painful scars of her traumatic past. And who could blame her?! Her distance from her siblings, except Evie, aides her continual healing. The reader watches on as she is no longer able to avoid the difficult confrontations she’s managed to distance herself from for years. For me, the journey with Lex, spending time with her and discovering what made her tick, was the highlight of Girl A.

The story is told in the past – from the early days when life was fairly quiet for the small Gracie family, all the way through to Lex’s brave escape – and the present, with an adult Lex meeting with her siblings after so many years and working out how to make them agree to the community centre. Each sibling bears their own scars, their own allegiance to a brother or sister who helped soften the horror they were suffering at the time. The dynamics of the family are very intriguing and the reader is drawn into the story with ease. There’s always a question mark over what really happened during the children’s imprisonment; those overheard conversations from another room, the bangs and crashes and the sudden, threatening silences.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Girl A is an emotional and compelling read which I think true crime fans will particularly enjoy. It’s not a book of twists and turns (although I will say that I was able to work out one of the major twists a smidge before it was revealed) but a well-drawn and considered exploration of a trauma survivor’s life. Defined forever by another person’s twisted ways. An exciting debut novel from a writer to watch. Recommended.

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

Girl A by Abigail Dean was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 21st January 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 |  WaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsthe damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

First Monday Crime
Abigail Dean will be joining the panel for March’s First Monday Facebook event on Monday 1st March 2021. Abigail will be appearing alongside Nadine Matheson (author of The Jigsaw Man), Tim Glister (author of Red Corona), Femi Kayode (author of Lightseekers) and asking the questions will be Leye Adenle. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 7.30pm on Monday 1st March via the First Monday Facebook page.

Abigail Dean was born in Manchester, and grew up in the Peak District. She graduated from Cambridge with a Double First in English. Formerly a Waterstones bookseller, she spent five years as a lawyer in London, and took summer 2018 off to work on her debut novel, Girl A, ahead of her thirtieth birthday. She now works as a lawyer for Google, and is currently writing her second novel, The Conspiracies.

Girl A sold in the UK after a 9-way auction, and also sold at auction in the US. The novel has since been acquired in 27 other territories, and television/film rights have sold to Sony. Johan Renck, director of Chernobyl, is attached to work on the television adaptation of Girl A.

Abigail has always loved reading, writing, and talking about books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AbigailSDean.

#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 |

The Stolen Sisters

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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: Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough @HarperCollinsUK #DeadToHer #damppebbles

dead to her“Something old

Marcie’s affair with Jason Maddox catapulted her into the world of the elite. Old money, old ties, old secrets. Marcie may have married into this world – but she’ll never be part of it.

Something new

Then Jason’s boss brings back a new wife from his trip to London. Young, attractive, reckless – nobody can take their eyes off Keisha. Including Marcie’s husband.

Something you can never, ever undo…

Some people would kill for the life Marcie has – what will she do to keep it?”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my review of Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough. Dead To Her is due to be published in hardcover a week from today (that’s 6th August 2020) with the paperback set to follow next year (the digital version has been available since June). I received a free ARC of Dead To Her but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’m a slow reader. I tend to read advance review copies a month at the most before the book is published. And in all honesty, thinking that far ahead can be a struggle at times! In reality, it’s maybe a week or two before the book is published. With Dead To Her, however, I read it at the end of July last year. There were two reasons for this. 1) It’s a Sarah Pinborough novel and 2) I promised my copy to a fabulous friend after I’d finished it (long story, best I don’t bore you). Anyhoo, I digress. I was keen to read this book anyway, but having spent some time last July with one of Sarah Pinborough’s biggest fans, her enthusiasm completely rubbed off on me and I was even more desperate to read Dead To Her. And what a memorable book!

After a rocky start in life, Marcie has managed to leave her past behind and move into the Savannah elite. Granted, she had to have an affair with successful businessman Jason Maddox and usurp his ex-wife to do it, but it was a price she was prepared to pay. After all, she adores her husband (and the life that comes with his success). They’re rich, popular in the set and going places but she’ll never truly ‘belong’. When Jason’s boss brings a new wife home from England, all eyes – including Jason’s – turn to Keisha. She’s younger, more beautiful, spontaneous and fun – everything Marcie used to be before age played its hand. It’s hard not to notice the chemistry between Keisha and Jason. Is Marcie about to lose everything she has worked so hard for? How far will she, and others, go to keep their secrets…

I’ve read Sarah Pinborough’s Cross Her Heart which absolutely broke me. But this…! This is something completely different. Very, very, ‘totally unexpected’ different. This is sexy, this is scary and this is 100% full on. It made me blush at points but I was delighted to see that the author had given things a bit of a shake-up and made her story instantly memorable. I can’t really say too much about the characters as I’m concerned that because of the way the story is set out, I’ll stupidly give something away I shouldn’t. So all I’ll say is that Marcie is a great character and one I really liked. Other characters were pretty repulsive including William Radford IV whose treatment of his new wife, Keisha reminded me of how others would treat a worthless possession. I really felt for Keisha throughout the book as she’s such a fragile soul.

This is a slow burn psychological suspense novel with an intriguing and beguiling plot. It’s so different to everything else I’ve read, that I perhaps struggled with it a little more than other readers will. The steaminess of the novel didn’t help in that respect but I can see many readers absolutely loving the different angle Pinborough has taken with Dead To Her. I’m afraid I could see the ending coming from a mile off which meant I finished the book on a ‘hmmm’ instead of a ‘wow’. But I enjoyed the story the author told me.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you’re into character-driven suspense novels but with a full-on, sexy plot to back it all up, then you should enjoy Dead To Her. It’s a little bit crazy but entertaining. A very memorable read and I can’t wait to see what Pinborough has in store for us next. Recommended.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Dead To Her. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 6th August 2020 and is available in hardcover and ebook formats (please note, some of 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* | Book Depository* | Goodreads |

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sarah pinborough

Sarah Pinborough is the number one Sunday Times Bestselling and New York Times Bestselling author of the psychological thriller Behind Her Eyes (Jan, 2017). During her career she has published more than 20 novels and several novellas, and has written for the BBC. Her recent novels include the dystopian love story, The Death House, and a teenage thriller, 13 Minutes which has been bought by Netflix with Josh Schwartz adapting.

Behind Her Eyes has sold to nearly twenty territories so far and was sold at auction to the US in a significant deal to Flatiron, Macmillan. There are discussions on going with several movies studios about the film adaptation.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook |

#BookReview: The Guesthouse by Abbie Frost @fictionpubteam #TheGuesthouse #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the guest house“Seven guests. One Killer. A holiday to remember…

A dark and addictive psychological thriller about seven strangers who find themselves cut off from civilization in a remote guesthouse in Ireland…

Not all the guests will survive their stay…

You use an app, called Cloud BNB, to book a room online. And on a cold and windy afternoon, you arrive at The Guesthouse, a dramatic old building on a remote stretch of hillside in Ireland. 

You are expecting a relaxing break, but you find something very different. Something unimaginable. Because a killer has lured you and six other guests here and now you can’t escape. 

One thing’s for certain: not all of you will come back from this holiday alive…”

Hello and a very warm welcome to the blog. Today I am delighted to be sharing my tenth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Guesthouse by Abbie Frost. The Guesthouse was published by HarperCollins in January 2020 and is available to purchase in all formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Guesthouse but that has in no way influenced my review.

When I first saw the cover of this book and read the blurb, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. I was keen before, but then I discovered that it’s actually written by an already established crime author but because it’s a little different to her other books, it’s been written under a pen name. Everything about this book sang to me. I’m a real sucker for the secluded, eerie setting, a group of people who know very little about one another, only for them to start dying in suspicious circumstances – one by one. Who is the killer? How much do you trust these strangers? Does one of them hold your life in their hands…?

Hannah is in mourning after the sudden death of her partner, Ben. The fact he discovered, shortly before he died, that Hannah had cheated on him, led friends and family to blame Hannah for his death. She needs to get away from Ben’s friends and have some time to grieve, so she decides to go ahead with a week-long trip to The Guesthouse in Fallon, Ireland, she had booked with Ben a few weeks before his accident. Not only does she feel she deserves a break but she has her own personal reasons for visiting the area. On arrival in Ireland, her relaxing holiday doesn’t get off to the best start. She meets the other guests staying in the house. Some she warms to, others she doesn’t. Hannah can’t fully relax though. She hears a child crying in the night and there are other strange things about the house. Dated rooms with holes in the floor and peeling wallpaper, a creepy gardener who refuses to talk to the guests, areas of the house are completely closed off behind padlocked doors. Nothing really seems to fit with the exclusive holiday destination she read about online. Plus the other guests, aren’t all they first appear to be…

The Guesthouse is a well-written psychological suspense novel which opens with a bang. The prologue throws the reader straight in to the (near) end of the story and I was immediately intrigued to know what had gone before. How had Hannah ended up in this terrifying situation? Who – or what – was chasing her? I was gripped and on the edge of my seat. The reader is then whisked back in time to 6 days before the events of that fateful night to watch from afar as Hannah makes her way to Fallon. She drinks too much, has little regard for her own personal safety and seems to have pretty much given up on life. I should have sympathised with her, but I didn’t. I couldn’t warm to Hannah at all, I’m sorry to say.

The other guests staying at the accommodation were all well-written characters. I was curious to find out what their stories were and how everything was going to tie together. Rosa, the mother of the small family staying at The Guesthouse, made my blood boil. She was so utterly frustrating, totally infuriating and I loved her! Her husband, Liam, made my skin crawl. I do love it when a character provokes a strong reaction in me!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Guesthouse is a creepy psychological suspense novel which was very entertaining. It’s a smidge far-fetched, a couple of the plot points felt a little *too* convenient but hey, it’s fiction and if you can’t be a little creative in fiction, when can you be? Normally not warming to a lead character isn’t an issue for me but this time, I felt it hampered things a little. I really wanted to feel more for Hannah, but I couldn’t. I still enjoyed the book though and would pick up another by this author (under either name 😂) in a heartbeat.

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

The Guesthouse by Abbie Frost was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 9th January 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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abbie frostAbbie Frost (the pen name of author Chris Curran) was born in London but now lives in St Leonards-on-Sea near Hastings, on the south coast of England, in a house groaning with books.

She left school at 16 to work in the local library – her dream job then and now – and spent an idyllic few months reading her way around the shelves. Reluctantly returning to full-time education, she gained her degree from Sussex University.

Since then, she has worked as an actress, script writer, copy editor and teacher, all the time looking forward to the day when she would see her own books gracing those library shelves.