#BookReview: Little Nothings by Julie Mayhew @BloomsburyRaven #LittleNothings #damppebbles

“With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Liv Travers never knew real friendship until she met fellow mums Beth and Binnie. The three women become inseparable as they muddle through early parenthood together.

Then along comes Ange. Ambitious, wealthy and somehow able to do it all.

Under Ange’s guiding presence, the group finds new vigour and fresh aspirations – bigger houses, better schools, dinners at exclusive restaurants. But Liv can’t keep up and is increasingly edged out.

When the four families take a three-week trip to a luxurious holiday resort, Liv seizes the opportunity to reclaim her place at the heart of the group, only to discover the true, devastating cost of a friendship with Ange.

Set over the course of a single, life-changing trip to a Greek island paradise, Little Nothings is a sly, suspenseful novel about female bonds turned toxic, and the desperate ends one woman will go to keep her friends close – and her enemy closer.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Little Nothings by Julie Mayhew. Little Nothings is published by Raven Books today (that’s Thursday 12th May 2022) and is available in hardcover and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Little Nothings but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to the team at Raven Books for sending me a proof copy.

Let’s face it, with us all being stuck at home for the past two years the thought of going overseas for a few days, soaking up the sun and drinking cocktails by the pool probably appeals a lot more than it has before. It certainly does to me anyway! So when I first laid eyes on this book, the cover alone called my name. Look how glorious it is! I then checked out the blurb and knew I HAD to read this book. A toxic friendship set against the stunning backdrop of Corfu? Yes please!

Liv Travers has always struggled to make friends. Even at school she was often the one left out. Going into adulthood, nothing changed. The concept of making friends just alluded Liv. That was until she met Binnie and Beth at a baby group. Suddenly something clicked and the three women became as thick as thieves. And Liv finally understood what she had been missing all these years. And then along came Ange. Confident, more than competent, excelling at everything and the new focal point of the group. And for Liv, something changed. So when Ange suggests the four families head to an exclusive resort in Corfu for three weeks, they can’t say no. But the trip is far from paradise for Liv, and the true cost of being friends with Ange soon becomes devastatingly clear…

Little Nothings is a divine tale of female friendships gone horribly wrong and oh my gosh, it blew me away. I loved every single second, every single word of this book from its agonising start to its jaw-dropping conclusion. Although her neediness did often make me cringe a little, I adored Liv. There was just something about her that I, and perhaps I shouldn’t admit to this, understood? She’s such a well-written character. So much so she felt very real to me. The other characters in the book are also excellent. The mere mention of Ange’s name made my blood pressure rise. There was a wonderful sense of uncomfortable apprehension as I waited to see what awful slight, what dastardly lengths she had gone to to put Liv well and truly in her place. Stunning!

I was fully immersed in the story from the moment I picked up the book and met Liv. As the story progresses the reader gets to discover more about Liv and Pete’s history and what they’ve both had to face over the preceding months. Why this holiday has become such a big event for them, why they’ve pushed so hard to get to Corfu when really they should be over a thousand miles away at home, and how what they were expecting, what was promised, was a big, fat, ugly lie. All of those little nothings, all of those hurtful comments which were covered up and brushed aside with a smile, all of the times things have gone wrong. Well, they all add up.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I ADORED Little Nothings and I know it will feature in my top books of the year list in December. Everything worked for me. The characters stood tall from the page and I don’t think I’ll forget any of them in a hurry. The pace of the book made sure that I was turning the pages late into the night – way past my bedtime. The setting was perfect and the descriptions were beautifully vivid enabling me to picture the scene with ease. I loved everything about this book. Every last little detail. Highly recommended.

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

Little Nothings by Julie Mayhew was published in the UK by Raven Books on 12th May 2022 and is available in hardcover 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 |

ImageJulie Mayhew is a journalist who became an actress (because she wanted more creative ways to tell stories), who became a scriptwriter (because she couldn’t find enough brilliant roles for women).

She is an award-winning novelist, an award-nominated radio dramatist and has written short stories and stage plays to critical acclaim. As a participant in the BFI Network x BAFTA Crew programme, Julie now also writes and directs for the screen.

Born and raised in Peterborough, home is now Hertfordshire. She is mum to two boys. Her best friend is a border terrier called Connie.

#BookReview: Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber @panmacmillan @ed_pr #OutofHerDepth #damppebbles

There are summers that could change your life.
There are summers that could end it.

Meet Rachel.
An unassuming young woman from a quiet London suburb.

Picture the scene:
A summer job at the beautiful Villa Medici in the Tuscan hills.
A group of glamorous teenagers, used to a life of privilege.
Lavish parties, heady sun-soaked days, backstabbing and bedhopping.

Until someone goes too far.
And nothing will ever be the same.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber. Out of Her Depth will be published by Pan later this week (Thursday 28th April 2022) and will be available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of Out of Her Depth but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Emma at EDPR for sending me a proof copy.

Rachel is a gifted student who has earned a spot at Cambridge to study languages. Her Italian is a little rusty though so her tutor encourages her to take a Summer placement working in an exclusive Villa for wealthy guests at the foot of the Tuscan Hills. It’s a dream come true for Rachel; the luxury, the extravagance is unlike anything she’s experienced before. And then she meets Diana. Beautiful, charming and entitled, Rachel is immediately swept up in the magnificence of her new friend. Rachel is living a life so far removed from her own, basking in Diana’s glow. Drink, drugs and sex aplenty, the girls have it all. Until someone goes too far. Until the night when everything changes…

I LOVED THIS BOOK! Love, love, loved it! Completely absorbing, utterly addictive and truly sublime in every sense. The characters felt real, the setting was vividly drawn, hypnotising in its beauty and decadence, and the plot had me turning the pages at a rate of knots, keen to find out how things were going to end. And oh my gosh, what a perfect ending the author has created. Absolutely gripping and deliciously uncomfortable. Marvellous!

Told in the past and the present, the reader meets Rachel twenty-one years after her fateful Summer in Florence. She’s a changed woman having failed to reach the heady heights she set her sights on in her teenage years. Rachel is a university dropout, working as a language teacher in an exclusive girls school. Her life is mundane, her desire to live a more perfect life eats away at her and the past is impossible to forget. And that’s when a face from Villa Medici, a face she’s tried so hard to forget, makes a shocking reappearance. Old feelings surface, resentment builds and fear drives her forward. I sympathised so much with the present day Rachel and adored the way the author has written her. She’s frustrating, she’s obsessive and she’s haunted by a past she can’t escape. I found I was hanging on Rachel’s every word, her every action. Compelled to see what she would do next and how far things would go. I loved it.

The author builds the suspense incredibly well putting the reader on edge from the moment Rachel and Diana meet in the Villa. I enjoyed the fact that the author brings wealthy, entitled Diana down to the same level as Rachel by making her a maid/waitress at the Villa. And that’s where the similarities end between the two characters. Their friendship starts out as you would expect, two young women left to their own devices in stunning surroundings having the time of their lives. One a leader – used to being the centre of attention. One a smitten follower. But as the Summer months progress, facades slip. The author writes her characters so subtly that it still comes as a huge shock to the reader with one act in particular making me gasp out loud.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. I loved Out of Her Depth and can see it featuring on my top books of the year list. It’s a highly addictive, sophisticated and atmospheric thriller that has left its mark on me. Everything worked. The characters felt real, their interactions were very convincing, the setting – well, I’m booking my holiday to Florence this year! – and the plot drew me into the story, and kept me within the pages even when I should have probably been cooking dinner for the kids (don’t worry, they were fed 😂). I loved this book and will be recommending it to everyone, starting with YOU! If you enjoy psychological thrillers featuring toxic friendships then you need this book in your life. It was a thrilling, uncomfortable, unnerving, tense joy to read and I highly recommend it.

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

Out of Her Depth by Lizzy Barber was published in the UK by Pan on 28th April 2022 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 |

Lizzy BarberLizzy Barber studied English at Corpus Christ College, Cambridge University. After ‘previous lives’ acting and working in film development, she is now the Head of Brand and Marketing for a restaurant group, working with her brother, a restaurateur.

Her debut novel, MY NAME IS ANNA / A GIRL NAMED ANNA (US), is the winner of the Daily Mail First Novel Competition, and was published by Penguin Random House in 2019. OUT OF HER DEPTH will be published in April 2022.

Lizzy lives in London with her husband, George, food writer and strategy consultant, and their son, Marlowe, born January 2019.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What three words would you use to describe Good Neighbours?

Engrossing. Funny. Scathing.

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

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

Where do you find inspiration for your books?

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

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

None! No rules!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is your writing hero?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan was published in the UK by Titan Books on 13th July 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

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

Her next novel GOOD NEIGHBORS is out now.

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

#BookReview: The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn @HQstories #TheGirlsAreAllSoNiceHere #damppebbles

“Nice girls can do bad things…

When Ambrosia first arrives at prestigious college Wesleyan, she’s desperate to fit in. But Amb struggles to navigate the rules of this strange, elite world, filled with privileged ‘nice’ young women – until she meets the charismatic but troubled Sully, with whom she forms an obsessive friendship.

Intoxicated by Sully’s charm and determined to impress her, Amb finds herself drawn deep into her new best friend’s dangerous manipulations. But if she wants to play Sully at her own game, Amb has no idea just how devastating the consequences will be…

Deeply unsettling and compulsive, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a gripping exploration of the brutal lengths girls will go to, to take what they think they are owed.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn. The Girls Are All So Nice Here was published in hardcover, audio and digital formats by HQ on 1st April 2021. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Girls Are All So Nice Here which has in no way influenced my review.

I wanted to read this book because I’m struggling a little with my reading mojo at the moment and I was looking for something different to my usual fayre (of police procedurals and blood soaked horror). I was keen to shake things up a little and oh boy, this book was a perfect pick! The Girls Are All So Nice Here is an intoxicating tale of obsession and manipulation which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Ambrosia ‘Amb’ Wellington is ready to do whatever it takes to fit in at college: the exclusive Wesleyan. Her dream is to become an actor so she knows how to change her personality to fit in. She’s been doing it throughout her high school career so it’s no big deal. When she meets Sloane ‘Sully’ Sullivan, Sully’s charisma pulls Ambrosia into her web. Sully is different to everyone she knew back home and Amb can’t get enough of her magnetism. Ambrosia is desperate to stay in Sully’s orbit, she craves her approval, so transforms herself into Sully’s mirror image. But Sully is a deeply troubled young woman whose constant manipulations push Ambrosia to the limit. Reunited for the 10 year reunion, will Sully’s hold over Ambrosia still be as strong? And what exactly did happen that fateful night…?

Wow! Some of the characters in The Girls Are All So Nice Here are truly horrible people but I couldn’t help but enjoy their darkness (just a little). The author has created some devastatingly cruel and vindictive characters and I lapped it up! I found Ambrosia to be a fascinating character who despite not being solely responsible for her actions, seemed happy enough to accept her new life and just go along with everything Sully suggested. I still haven’t worked out if she’s insanely needy or if she arrived at Wesleyan with a dark streak of her own.

The story is told in the past – leading up to the devastating event which changed the lives of those living in Butts C – and the present – as Ambrosia reluctantly prepares to attend the 10 year reunion with her husband. Amb believes she’s not the same person she was in college, she doesn’t want to return to Wesleyan (she certainly doesn’t want her husband to discover her secret!) and refuses to even consider the reunion. Until an anonymous card arrives telling her she must attend as ‘they’ need to talk about what they did that night. I really enjoyed both the flashbacks and watching as Ambrosia’s present-day, perfect life began to unravel and the realisation of what really happened starts to take hold. I found everything about the book so intriguing and utterly compelling. I was desperate to find out what had happened to leave such a catastrophic mark on these young lives.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a well-written exploration of toxic, poisonous friendships and the lengths some people will go to to belong. The control Sully has over Ambrosia is very unsettling, makes for uncomfortable reading at times and I loved it! I found it interesting to see the same characters 10 years later as, despite Ambrosia’s claims, nothing had really changed. They still went to extreme lengths to cover their own backs. Brilliantly done. Utterly irresistible. Bold and fearless. Shocking, dark and full of menace. I’m still thinking about this one days after finishing it. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Girls Are All So Nice Here. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn was published in the UK by HQ on 1st April 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Laurie Elizabeth Flynn is a former model who lives in London, Ontario with her husband and their three children. She is the author of three young adult novels: Firsts, Last Girl Lied To and All Eyes On Her, under the name L.E. Flynn.

Her debut adult fiction novel, The Girls Are All So Nice Here, will be released in 2021. It has sold in eleven territories worldwide and has been optioned for TV by AMC.