#BookReview: The Buried by Sharon Bolton @orionbooks #TheBuried #damppebbles

“AN OLD ENEMY IS LAID TO REST . . . AND A NEW CRIME IS DISCOVERED

Florence Lovelady, the most senior serving policewoman in Britain, visits convicted serial killer Larry Glassbrook in prison. Larry is coming to the end of his life but has one last task for Florence: to learn the identity of the remains discovered at children’s home Black Moss Manor. The town Florence escaped narrowly with her life still holds many secrets. Will she finally learn the truth? Or will time run out for her first?

The latest Florence Lovelady thriller, set shortly after the bestselling first novel The Craftsman in the chilling, new series from Richard and Judy bestseller Sharon Bolton”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Buried by Sharon Bolton. The Buried is the second book in The Craftsman Series and was published by Orion Books in hardcover, audio and digital formats last week (that’s Thursday 10th November 2022). I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Buried but that has in no way influenced my review.

The Buried is the much-anticipated sequel to one of my favourite books of 2018, The Craftsman. I say sequel but it’s more of a prequel combined with a sequel. Which is a very impressive achievement! As soon as this book landed on my radar, I knew I had to read it. One of the things I loved most about the first book was the character of Police Constable Florence Lovelady. So the chance to be reacquainted with her and to return to creepy Sabden at the foot of the Pendle Hills, where witchy goings on were regularly reported, was an opportunity I could NOT miss!

Serial killer, Larry Glassbrook, has been in prison for thirty years for murdering three teenagers. The police officer responsible for his capture, Florence Lovelady, was a lowly probationary WPC and the first and only female officer working out of Sabden at the time. Now she’s the most senior serving female officer in the Met and despite their history, Florence has been keeping in regular contact with Larry. But Larry is ill and is nearing the end of his life. With the discovery of children’s remains near Black Moss Manor, a children’s home that was closed in 1969, Larry has one last task for Florence. To discover the identity of the victims. Because according to Larry, the children buried near Black Moss died more recently than official channels are claiming. But to carry out Larry’s final request, Florence must return to Sabden. The town that almost destroyed her…

A cleverly written police procedural told in the past and the present with a witchy twist. The Buried is everything I hoped it would be. It was a joy to be reunited with Florence Lovelady again – older, wiser and forever tied to Sabden, no matter what she does to sever that tie. Something I do need to say before I go any further though is that I strongly recommend you read The Craftsman before picking up The Buried. A lot happened in the first book and. whilst the author ensures the reader is briefed enough to follow the flow of the story, there were moments where I, as someone who read The Craftsman four years ago, found myself getting muddled. With hindsight, I wish I had re-read The Craftsman first before making a start on the prequel/sequel. Looking at other reviews, it seems other readers feel the same. But that does not take away from the fact that this is a cracking second book in the series and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. But please make sure you’re familiar with the storyline of The Craftsman before making a start on The Buried. I enjoyed the dual timeline and hopping from the late 60s to the late 90s. The characters were once again expertly drawn, as I have come to expect from this author. The plot was well paced with an overarching feeling of dread permeating the pages of the book from the very start, all the way to the tense conclusion. The author excels at writing suspenseful plots which pull the reader into the narrative and keep them hooked, wanting to discover how the story will end. I truly hope this isn’t the last we see of Florence and Sabden. I’m such a fan of this unique series and I find myself preferring the author’s setting, plot and characters to more traditional police procedurals. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to crime fiction fans who are looking for something a little different. But make sure you read The Craftsman first! Recommended.

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

The Buried by Sharon Bolton was published in the UK by Orion Books on 10th November 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 shopdamppebbles amazon.co.uk shopdamppebbles amazon.com shop |

Sharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.

Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.

#BookReview: Family Business by Jonathan Sims @gollancz @orionbooks #FamilyBusiness #damppebbles

“JUST ANOTHER DEAD-END JOB.
DEATH. IT’S A DIRTY BUSINESS.

When Diya Burman’s best friend Angie dies, it feels like her own life is falling apart. Wanting a fresh start, she joins Slough & Sons – a family firm that cleans up after the recently deceased.

Old love letters. Porcelain dolls. Broken trinkets. Clearing away the remnants of other people’s lives, Diya begins to see things. Horrible things. Things that get harder and harder to write off as merely her grieving imagination. All is not as it seems with the Slough family. Why won’t they speak about their own recent loss? And who is the strange man that keeps turning up at their jobs?

If Diya’s not careful, she might just end up getting buried under the family tree. . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Family Business by Jonathan Sims. Family Business is published by Gollancz today (that’s Thursday 13th October 2022) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Family Business but that has in no way influenced my review.

After reading Sims’s debut, Thirteen Storeys, a couple of years ago I’ve been keeping an eye out for more from this fantastic writer. There was something about Thirteen Storeys which grabbed my attention immediately, a feeling in my gut that this was most definitely an author to watch. So, when Family Business landed on my radar, I jumped at the chance to read it. Pushing my current read aside and not really bothering to read the blurb before getting stuck in. It’s a Jonathan Sims novel after all! And I’m so glad I did. Addictive, dark and unsettling, I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in Sims’s world once again.

Diya Burman’s world has fallen apart following the death of her best friend and flatmate, Angie. Diya no longer knows who she is, nor how to live her life, quitting her job and spending her days depressed and alone. When she is offered a job with Slough and Sons she reluctantly accepts, knowing that at some point she’ll need to start paying the bills. But Diya has no experience in the Slough family business, which is cleaning up after someone has died. As Diya learns the ropes, she begins to notice that some jobs are a lot more intense and upsetting than others. She notices a strange man hanging around outside where they are working, and Diya herself starts to have strange, unexplained visions. Determined to find out what’s going on she starts to dig a little deeper into the Slough family history. But the past is best left alone, and Diya had better be careful otherwise this job will be the death of her…

Family Business is a very well-written supernatural horror with bucketloads of suspense to keep the reader on their toes and turning the pages. This book felt quite different to the author’s debut in that we really get to see the bones of his characters in this latest release. Whereas the format of Thirteen Storeys only allowed for a tantalising glimpse into the characters’ lives. And oh boy, I loved the author’s characterisation. Diya Burman, in particular, felt a fully fleshed out, living, breathing person and I was fully immersed in her journey. I was willing her on, perched on the edge of my seat wondering where the author was going to take the story. I hadn’t a clue what was going to happen to Diya and the Slough family. But I was gripped and there was no way I was going to put the book down until I knew the truth!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Family Business is a well-written, compelling novel with themes of grief, the sanctity of memory and a hard look at social inequality. The book moves at a steady pace drawing the reader into the plot and enabling them to get to know the characters well before the explosive ending. There is a deeply unsettling sense throughout the book of something unstoppable heading your way. Something that can’t be explained, something you don’t really want to think about until you inevitably come face to face with it. And I loved how the author was able to achieve that palpable menace throughout, that incoming malevolence. Marvellous stuff! Family Business is a very readable, very powerful novel which drew me in and didn’t let go until the terrifying end. Dark, suspenseful and will leave the reader with lots to think about. Recommended.

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

Family Business by Jonathan Sims was published in the UK by Gollancz on 13th October 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 | damppebbles amazon.co.uk shop | damppebbles amazon.com shop |

Jonathan Sims is a writer, performer and games designer whose work primarily focuses on the macabre, the grotesque, and the gentle touch of creeping dread. He is the mind and the voice behind acclaimed horror podcast The Magnus Archives, as well as story-game design duo MacGuffin & Co., and some of your favourite nightmares. He lives in Walthamstow with the two best cats and an overwhelming backlog of books that he really should get round to.

#BookReview: The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell @orionbooks #TheSoundofHerVoice #damppebbles #20booksofsummer22

Detective Buchanan remembers every victim. But this one he can’t forget.

The body of a woman has been found on a pristine New Zealand beach – over a decade after she was murdered.

Detective Matt Buchanan of the Auckland Police is certain it carries all the hallmarks of an unsolved crime he investigated 12 years ago: when Samantha Coates walked out one day and never came home.

Re-opening the case, Buchanan begins to piece the terrible crimes together, setting into motion a chain of events that will force him to the darkest corners of society – and back into his deepest obsession…

Shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Best Crime Novel of the Year award, The Sound of Her Voice is a brilliantly gripping crime thriller for fans of Sirens by Joseph Knox, Streets of Darkness by A.A. Dhand, Stuart Macbride and Ian Rankin.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell. The Sound of Her Voice was published in the UK by Orion Books on 28th November 2019 and is available in paperback format. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Sound of Her Voice but that has in no way influenced my review.

The Sound of Her Voice follows Detective Matt Buchanan over the course of his twenty year (or thereabouts) police career. From his days as a rookie cop being called to a shooting, only to discover the victim is his best friend from police training, bleeding out on the asphalt, to the case which still haunts him to this day – the disappearance of a teenage girl twelve years earlier. Buchanan torments himself with his failure to solve Samantha’s disappearance and reunite her, one way or another, with her grieving family. He remembers every case he’s been involved in, but Samantha’s case is the one that hits the hardest. So when Buchanan spots similarities between a new case and Samantha’s disappearance, it leads him on a path he never expected and fuels an obsession which will consume him…

The Sound of Her Voice is a dark, gritty slice of New Zealand noir which I found both gripping and very unsettling. The book is set out quite differently to other detective novels with the story starting fairly early on in Buchanan’s career. The disappearance of Samantha doesn’t feature strongly until much later in the novel, which made me feel as though I was reading a collection of interconnected short stories featuring the same cast. Matt is assigned a case, he does the leg work and brings the investigation to a close. Then the process starts again. Matt Buchanan is a complex character and the reader gets to see the different facets of his personality throughout the novel. He’s clearly a troubled man with the weight of the world on his shoulders but I loved how edgy, how driven and how reckless he could be at times.

The different format of the book means the pace of the novel doesn’t really let up at any point, keeping the reader fully immersed in Buchanan’s dangerous world. I very much enjoyed the setting, being a fan of Aussie crime fiction (yes, I’m aware they’re quite different countries but they’re neighbours and that counts for something 😂). I’ve read crime novels set in New Zealand before but this felt quite different, in a good way.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Sound of Her Voice is a dark and gritty read which I enjoyed. It felt incredibly authentic and true to life, nothing was sugar coated and I loved the honesty of the author, an ex-detective himself. The themes within the book are dark and won’t be for everyone. There were moments I had to put the book down and take a breather because it was tough going but I did enjoy the book and would read more by this author. Recommended.

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

The Sound of Her Voice by Nathan Blackwell was published in the UK by Orion Books on 28th November 2019 and is available in paperback format (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryBook DepositoryGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Nathan BlackwellNathan Blackwell was raised on Auckland’s North Shore and attended Westlake Boys’ High School before commencing a ten-year career in the New Zealand Police. Seven of those years were spent as a Detective in the Criminal Investigation Branch, where he was exposed to human nature at its strongest and bravest, but also at its most depraved and horrific. He investigated a wide range of cases including drug manufacture, child abuse, corruption, serious violence, rape and murder. Because some of his work was conducted covertly, Nathan chooses to hide his true identity.

#BookReview: The Collective by Alison Gaylin @orionbooks #TheCollective #damppebbles #20booksofsummer22

How far would a mother go to right a wrong?

Camille Gardener is a grieving and angry mother who, fives years after her daughter’s death, is obsessed with the man she believes to be responsible.

Because Camille wants revenge.
Enter: the Collective.

A group of women who desire justice above all else.

A group of women who enact revenge on the men who have wronged them.

But as Camille gets more involved in the group she must decide whether these women are the heroes or the villains.

And if she chooses wrong, will she ever get out alive?”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Collective by Alison Gaylin. The Collective is published by Orion Books in paperback format today (that’s Thursday 11th August 2022) and is also available in audio and digital formats.

I am a huge fan of Alison Gaylin’s books (also written under A.L. Gaylin), The Collective being the fourth of her standalone thrillers which I’ve read. And in all honesty, if I wasn’t already a fan, there would be no way on this earth that I would be able to resist the pull of this book! That striking red cover with the silhouettes, that utterly intriguing tagline on the US version (it’s ‘no killer goes unpunished’ if you haven’t already seen it) and that ‘grab you by the throat’ blurb. Getting hold of a copy of this book became a priority!

Camille Gardener is a woman consumed by grief following the death of her 15-year-old daughter, Emily, five years earlier. She blames high achieving college student Harris Blanchard for Emily’s death but Harris is the college’s golden boy and has never been held to account. When Camille is approached by a stranger and given information about a Facebook group called Niobe for grieving mothers, she signs up. But the group is different to others she’s joined in the past. Their anger matches her own, the women openly discuss the most horrific deaths they can imagine for those they feel are responsible for their child’s death. But Niobe is only the start. Before long Camille is introduced to the Collective and things start to spiral out of control. Camille has been accepted into the Collective, but there’s a good chance she won’t make it out alive…

The Collective is so GOOD! Gaylin has once again produced an absolute page turner of a novel which I found near impossible to put down. Camille is a fascinating character and I watched, open mouthed, as she dug herself deeper and deeper into what felt like an inescapable hole. My heart was in my mouth and I was on the edge of my seat wondering how far things were going to go for the character. The more I read, the more I liked her. The more I read, the more I needed to know about the Collective. Gaylin has written such a brilliantly addictive thriller and I flew through the pages, desperate to find out where the author was going to take this misguided, grief-stricken woman. And oh my gosh, what a perfect ending.

The book is set around the Hudson Valley and I really enjoyed Gaylin’s vivid descriptions of the area. The setting felt like a complete contrast to the dark events unfolding before me on the page. Proof that terrible things can happen to nice, normal people. And terrible is a pretty massive understatement when it comes to some of the grisly ways the members of the group fantasise about killing off those responsible for their children’s deaths. Oh my goodness, you wouldn’t want to cross any of those moms!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Collective is an utterly captivating, highly addictive read which hooked me in from the opening pages and didn’t let go until the shocking end. Such a thrilling plot, skilfully executed, featuring terrific characters and jaw-dropping twists. The Collective demonstrates how raw, how powerful, how completely destructive one woman’s grief can be when fed. It’s certainly a dark read but I thoroughly enjoyed the ride! Full of suspense, secrets and overflowing with revenge. Gaylin has done it again and I remain a huge fan. Highly recommended.

The Collective by Alison Gaylin was published in the UK by Orion Books on 4th August 2022 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Alison Gaylin is the Edgar and Shamus award-winning author of 12 books and many short stories. A USA Today and international bestseller, she lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Mimic by Daniel Cole @orionbooks @eturns_112 #Mimic #damppebbles

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

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

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be joining the Mimic blog tour and sharing my review. Mimic by Daniel Cole was published by Orion Books on 19th August 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC copy of Mimic but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Ellen at Orion Books for sending me a finished copy.

I am a HUGE fan of this author’s books. His Ragdoll Series featuring Detective ‘Wolf’ Fawkes is superb and I heartily recommend it if you’ve not had the pleasure of reading it yet. Mimic is a brand new standalone novel featuring a new team of detectives but with Cole’s trademark wit, ingenuity and perfect pacing. I absolutely LOVED Mimic.

DS Benjamin Chambers is called to a very unusual scene where the deceased has apparently taken their own life by choosing to freeze to death. On closer inspection, it becomes clear to Chambers that not everything is as it first appeared. This is the first victim of a twisted killer who is using his victims to recreate famous works of art. Partnered with the near-hopeless PC Adam Winter, Chambers sets out to catch the killer before he adds more bodies to his collection. But the investigation falters, Chambers is nearly killed in action and as a result, the case goes cold. Fast forward seven years to 1996 and police trainee, Jordan Marshall, is determined to crack the case. She calls in the help of now ex-detective Adam Winter and eventually persuades DS Chambers to take another look at the evidence. But it’s not long before new ‘masterpieces’ start appearing. The killer has returned to finish off what he started and it’s down to Marshall, Chambers and Winter to stop him in his tracks, before it’s too late….

Absolutely bloody marvellous! By far the best police procedural I have read this year. I loved everything about Mimic from the moment I cracked open the first page to its breath-taking conclusion. I was 100% hooked and completely immersed in the story. Expertly written, featuring some of the most interesting characters I have come across in a long time and I hope this isn’t the last we see of this brilliant crime-fighting trio. There were moments where I laughed out loud, moments where my smart watch was beeping at me because my heartrate was, apparently, too high (pah!) and moments where I just couldn’t tear myself away from the story. I loved this book.

Chambers, Winter and Marshall were the perfect team. Each bringing their own strengths (I’m still trying to work out what Winter’s strengths were but he was my favourite character! 😂) to a tricky investigation which kept me turning the pages late into the night. I know the Ragdoll Series has a lot of fans (me being one of them) but I’m going to be controversial here and say that Mimic is my favourite book by this author. I was completely smitten with DS Chambers. Winters had me chuckling to myself with lots of well-timed hilarity and Marshall’s growth as a detective had me rooting for her.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Mimic is a perfectly paced, expertly balanced novel. An absolute joy to read from start to finish. I loved the retro feel the author gave the story by setting it in the 80s and 90s (I’m obviously FAR too young to remember them myself! 🙈). I thought the characters were superb and I would love to see more of them in the future. The investigation was fascinating and I loved the addition of the hand drawn images at the end of each chapter (so even if you’re not an art aficionado, you can see what the killer created!). This is an absolute must-read for crime fiction fans and I will be recommending it to everyone! Highly recommended.

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

Mimic by Daniel Cole was published by Orion Books on 19th 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 | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Daniel Cole (@DanielColeBooks) is the Sunday Times bestselling author of the Ragdoll trilogy, which has now been published in over thirty countries. A TV adaption is currently in the works and his fourth novel is due to be published late-summer 2021. He has worked as a paramedic, an animal protection officer, and with the beach lifeguards, but for the past five years has been describing himself on paperwork as a ‘full-time writer’.

He lives on the south coast of England and divides his time between the beach and the forest.

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

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

Everyone wants perfection.
But there is no such thing.

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

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

But then Nancy is murdered.

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

She clearly had as many secrets as they do…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect Strangers by Araminta Hall was published in the UK by Orion Books on 8th July 2021 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads |

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

#BookReview: Malorie by Josh Malerman @orionbooks #Malorie #damppebbles

malorieIn the old world there were many rules.
In the new world there is only one: don’t open your eyes.

In the seventeen years since the ‘creatures’ appeared, many people have broken that rule. Many have looked. Many have lost their minds, their lives, their loved ones.

In that time, Malorie has raised her two children – Olympia and Tom – on the run or in hiding. Now nearly teenagers, survival is no longer enough. They want freedom.

When a census-taker stops by their refuge, he is not welcome. But he leaves a list of names – of survivors building a future beyond the darkness – and on that list are two names Malorie knows.

Two names for whom she’ll break every rule, and take her children across the wilderness, in the hope of becoming a family again…”

Hello and a very warm bookish welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year with you, Malorie by Josh Malerman. Malorie was published in hardcover, audio and digital formats by Orion Books on 21st July 2020. I received a free eARC of Malorie but that has in no way influenced my review.

Malorie is the sequel to the astonishingly good Bird Box which I read last year. I loved Bird Box. Actually, I more than loved it and it’s the proud holder of the title ‘Emma’s biggest book hangover’. Nothing else on my TBR could even begin to compete with Bird Box for weeks and weeks after. If you haven’t read it, that REALLY needs to change. Which is why I was so excited about reading Malorie.

Having survived the creatures terrifying arrival, and the dawning of a brand new, frightening world, Malorie is still doing everything in her power to make sure she and her two children – Tom and Olympia – remain safe, sane and alive. They’ve followed the rules for 17 long, arduous years and survived when many others haven’t. All because of Malorie; her fear and her paranoia. But the children are teenagers now and Tom, in particular, wants to spread his wings. No teenager, no matter what terrifying world they live in, wants to listen to their mother! So when a stranger turns up at their door with news of the creatures and tales of other people’s experiences, people who lived to tell someone else their story, Tom is all ears. Malorie’s fear drives the stranger away but he leaves behind some papers. Papers which will change everything for Malorie and her children…

Before I go any further, I need to stick my neck out and say I don’t think this book will work as a standalone. I think you need to have read Bird Box, or at least watched the Netflix series (which I admit, I haven’t seen myself), before reading Malorie. Both books are set in a very different world and Bird Box gives you the base you need to enjoy and fully understand the reasons and actions of Malorie in this latest instalment. The reader really needs to understand the character and her motivations to grasp the full impact of this novel.

Before picking up this book and reading the blurb, I was nervous to find out where the author was going to take the story. Malorie and her young children were put through hell on earth in Bird Box, and then some! So I was quite relieved to find out the story had moved on a number of years and both children are now in their mid-teens with their own thoughts, feelings and fears. And although I don’t expect life in the ‘new world’ will ever be the norm (for those who were born before the creatures arrival, anyway), there is more of an understanding and acceptance of the situation. People are still opening their eyes and looking at the creatures. People are still going mad. People are still violently destroying their friends and family as a result. The creatures cannot be beaten. They are not going away. They have to be lived with, like it or not. But the characters have adjusted and I found that fascinating.

I’ve mentioned about ten times already in this review how much I love Bird Box. But Malorie felt a very different book. Did I enjoy Malorie as much as Bird Box? No, but I think that can be said for the large majority of books out there. The pace felt slower, the shocks and surprises fewer, the threat felt reduced from the first book. But what ties the books together so well (apart from the phenomenal Malorie) is the journey. I was completely immersed in the trio’s trek across Michigan. It had me on the edge of my seat waiting for something terrible to happen. And then it does…

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes but I really believe you will get so much more out of it if you’re familiar with Bird Box. Malorie is a good sequel to a book I adore and I’m glad I read it. I’m glad I got to spend a little more time with an unforgettable character. But I have a feeling this may be the last we see of Malorie Walsh. The ending felt a little too neat and tidy for a continuation but we will see. Recommended.

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

Malorie by Josh Malerman was published in the UK by Orion Books on 21st July 2020 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 | Goodreads |

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josh malermanJosh Malerman is the acclaimed author of Bird Box, as well as the lead singer and songwriter for the rock band The High Strung. He lives in Michigan.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram |

#BookReview: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides @orionbooks @orion_crime #TheSilentPatient #20booksofsummer20 #damppebbles

the silent patient

“Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.

When she shot her husband in the head five times.

Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word.

It’s time to find out why.

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my sixteenth 20 Books of Summer review with you, which is for The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. The Silent Patient was published by Orion Books on 12th December 2019 and is available in all formats.

So this book is huge. And with all hugely hyped, extremely popular novels, I feel like I’m one of the last people to read it. I’m sure that’s not actually the case but, you know how it is sometimes (back to those #bookwormproblems I often mention). I’ll be honest, I was a bit dubious before making a start on this one. Will it live up to what I’ve heard? Will I see the big twist coming and will that dampen the whole reading experience for me? Read on to find out…

Alicia Berenson is a household name for all the wrong reasons. The seemingly happy, contented artist had everything. Then, one day, she waited for her husband to return home where she shot him in the head five times. Stood with a smoking gun and blood on her hands, she was arrested, found guilty and sent to The Grove, a secure psychiatric hospital in London. Never having uttered a single word. Not to the police, not to defend herself in court, nor to her doctors. Alicia remained silent throughout. What happened that night six years ago remains a complete mystery. But psychotherapist, Theo Faber, believes he has the skill, knowledge and patience to get through to Alicia. To break down the barriers and discover the truth about what happened that fateful night…

Told from Theo’s point of view and diary entries written by Alicia in the run up to the murder, the reader is thrown straight into this compelling story from the very start. We watch as Theo takes tentative steps in trying to connect on some level with Alicia. Often with little reaction from her, or the occasional aggressive and violent outburst. I couldn’t work Alicia out at all. Nothing following the murder is given away in regards to her character or her motivation. What is she thinking, what is she feeling? I had no idea and I think the author has done an absolutely cracking job of writing her so that you are left wondering for a large proportion of the book. The diary entries don’t really help as it’s hard to relate the shell of the woman she becomes with the woman she was before the murder. Despite all of this, I wanted to like Alicia.

This is a very easy to read book and I finished it in a couple of sittings. There were certain aspects of the story where I found my attention wavering though, but it all made sense when I reached the end of the book. I can’t say too much more about that as I’m bound to say something I shouldn’t! If you’ve seen any other reviews of The Silent Patient then you may be aware there’s a fairly substantial twist (it’s a psychological thriller – it comes with the territory, no?) but I felt oddly let down by it. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was that didn’t wow me but I felt a little disappointed. The way the story concluded was very satisfying though.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Silent Patient is a well-written and highly entertaining novel to wile away a few hours and I enjoyed it. With a cast of interesting characters – some you’ll like, others you may loathe – it’s a twisty and compelling book which I would recommend to anyone who hasn’t read it yet (all three of you, lol!).

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was published in the UK by Orion Books on 12th December 2019 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Foyles | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

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alex michaelidesBorn in Cyprus to a Greek-Cypriot father and English mother, I studied English literature at Cambridge University and got my MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. I wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and co-wrote The Con is On (2018), starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara. THE SILENT PATIENT is my first novel.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Never Look Back by A.L. Gaylin (@orionbooks) @Tr4cyF3nt0n #NeverLookBack #damppebbles

never look backShe was the most brutal killer of our time. And she may have been my mother…

When website columnist Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it’s a business matter. It’s not. Quentin’s podcast, Closure, focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s, committed by teen couple April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy. It seems that Quentin has reason to believe Robin’s own mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin’s claim is absurd. But is it? The more she researches the Cooper/LeRoy murders herself, the more disturbed she becomes by what she finds. Living just a few blocks from her, Robin’s beloved parents are the one absolute she’s always been able to rely upon, especially now amid rising doubts about her husband and frequent threats from internet trolls. Robin knows her mother better than anyone.

But then her parents are brutally attacked, and Robin realises she doesn’t know the truth at all…”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my stop on the Never Look Back blog tour. Never Look Back is the latest release from the brilliant A.L. Gaylin and it will be available to purchase in paperback later this week (on the 6th February – mark it in your diaries!). If you can’t wait that long – and who could blame you, because it’s brilliant – then it’s currently available in all other formats.

It won’t surprise you to hear that I am a huge fan of A.L. Gaylin’s books. If Alison has written it, then I’ve probably purchased a copy without even reading the blurb. Yup – her books are THAT good. I’m not sure there are many other authors I could say that about. Never Look Back is a stellar addition to Gaylin’s catalogue and I savoured each and every moment of it.

Podcast creator Quentin Garrison is investigating a cold case. A mass killing spree carried out by two teenage lovers known as the Inland Empire Killers, in the late 70s. The terrifying spree finally halted by the death of killers April Cooper and her boyfriend, Gabriel LeRoy, in a fire. But Quentin has his own connection to the tragic events of all those years ago and he needs closure. When a brand new lead is handed to the podcast team, Quentin contacts website columnist Robin Diamond and puts a startling suggestion to her. Robin dismisses the claim as preposterous, but what follows will change their lives forever. How well do we really know those closest to us…?

This is another brilliant character-driven thriller from Gaylin. I was totally immersed in the story from the first page and I struggled to put the book down for any length of time. The first half to two-thirds of the book, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Then the story beds itself in and the pace slows a little but it was just as captivating, just as chilling and just as mesmerising as the beginning.

Told in dual timelines, we see how the accusations affect those involved in the present day. I often found myself asking, ‘how well do we really know the people we’re closest to?’. We also get to see life thorough April’s eyes via letters to her future daughter, Aurora Grace. After all, all April wants from life is to be a mother. Young April Cooper is by far the most fascinating character and despite reading this book a couple of weeks ago, I still think about her often. I really liked her (I am strange and it’s quite normal for me to like the villain in a book) but I also felt sorry for her.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, yes and yes again. I LOVED this book. A.L. Gaylin can do no wrong in my eyes. This is another stunning character-driven thriller which I flew through and have been recommending to everyone since. If you’re looking for a family-focussed suspense novel with secrets and lies galore then you should definitely give Never Look Back a go. After all, how can you resist that tagline…

Never Look Back MMP Blog Tour

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AL Gaylin

USA Today and International Best-selling author Alison Gaylin has been nominated for the Edgar four times. Most recently, her thriller IF I DIE TONIGHT, won the award in the category Best Paperback Original.

Her critically acclaimed suspense novels have been published in such countries as the U.K., France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Japan and Romania.

She has won the Shamus and RT Reviewers Choice Awards for her books, and has been nominated for the ITW Thriller, Anthony and Strand Book Awards. Her books have been on the bestseller lists in the US, Germany and Belgium.  NEVER LOOK BACK (March, 2018 from William Morrow) is her eleventh book.

NORMANDY GOLD, the graphic novel she wrote with Megan Abbott, is out from Titan/Hard Case Crime in April, 2018.

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

#R3COMM3ND3D2019 with #Author Margaret Kirk (@HighlandWriter) @orionbooks @orion_crime #WhatLiesBuried #LukasMahler #damppebbles #BookRecommendations #Publishedin2019 #HighlandNoir

Hello, happy Saturday and a very warm welcome to the blog today! I hope you have some bookish plans in store for your weekend. We’re sixteen days into this year’s #R3COMM3ND3D and I am thrilled to welcome our first author of 2019 – Margaret Kirk. Margaret is the author of the Lukas Mahler series and her latest release, What Lies Buried, was published in June this year. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about What Lies Buried after we’ve found out which three books Margaret recommends!

So, what is #R3COMM3ND3D2019? It’s about sharing the book love. It’s a chance for authors and book bloggers to shout about three (yes, *only* three) books they love. They can be written by any author, in any genre and published in any way (traditionally, indie press or self-published). But there is a catch. All three books must have been published in 2019. To make things interesting I have added a couple of teeny, tiny rules this year which are; 1) the book must have first been published in 2019 and 2) special editions and reissues do not count. I like to keep you lovely people on your toes 😉.

Here are the three books Margaret recommends…

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The Closer I Get by Paul Burston
An unsettling twist on the pitfalls of social media – unpredictable and well-constructed.

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The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell
A stunning Gothic novel set in pre-war Prague. Masterful and utterly compelling.

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Cage (Reykjavik Noir Trilogy) by Lilja Sigurðardóttir
Superbly constructed Nordic crime thriller by a mistress of the craft.

Thanks so much for your great choices, Margaret. I have The Closer I Get on the terrifying TBR and I can’t wait to read it!

If Margaret has managed to tempt you, or if you would like to find out more about the books she recommends, please see the following links:

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston
The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell
Cage by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

About What Lies Buried:What Lies Buried

THE BRILLIANTLY COMPELLING SECOND NOVEL IN THE DI LUKAS MAHLER SERIES

A missing child. A seventy-year-old murder. And a killer who’s still on the loose.

Ten year-old Erin is missing; taken in broad daylight during a friend’s birthday party. With no witnesses and no leads, DI Lukas Mahler races against time to find her. But is it already too late for Erin – and will her abductor stop at one stolen child?

And the discovery of human remains on a construction site near Inverness confronts Mahler’s team with a cold case from the 1940s. Was Aeneas Grant’s murder linked to a nearby POW camp, or is there an even darker story to be uncovered?

With his team stretched to the limit, Mahler’s hunt for Erin’s abductor takes him from Inverness to the Lake District. And decades-old family secrets link both cases in a shocking final twist.

Buy What Lies Buried:
| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | BookDepository | Waterstones | Foyles |

About Margaret Kirk:
Runrig and Julie Fowlis fan Margaret Kirk writes ‘Highland Noir’ Scottish crime fiction, set in and around her home town of Inverness.

Her debut novel, Shadow Man, won the Good Housekeeping First Novel Competition in 2016. Described as ‘a harrowing and horrific game of consequences’ by Val McDermid, it was published in 2017. Book 2 in the DI Lukas Mahler series, What Lies Buried, is out now.

Margaret’s Social Media Links:
| Blog | Twitter @HighlandWriter | Facebook |

If you’re a book blogger, author or you work in publishing and have three books published this year that you want to shout about then please complete the following form (or click this link: https://forms.gle/PE483qCyrKEgV5Uq6)