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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Forevers by Chris Whitaker. The Forevers is published by Hot Key Books today (that’s Thursday 8th July 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow next year. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Forevers but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Molly at Hot Key Books for sending me an early copy.

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

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

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

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

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

The Forevers by Chris Whitaker was published in the UK by Hot Key Books on 8th July 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digitals formats – with the paperback to follow next year (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

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

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

WWW Wednesday | 7th July 2021 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Dark by Emma Haughton
ONE DEAD BODY. TWELVE SUSPECTS. TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR DARKNESS.

In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose.

A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the opportunity to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.

The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all.

And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes . . .

What did you recently finish reading?

Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan
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.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The House of Whispers by Anna Kent
Once you let her in, she’ll never leave…

Some secrets aren’t meant to be kept…

When Grace returns to Abi’s life, years after they fell out at university, Abi can’t help but feel uneasy. Years ago, Grace’s friendship was all-consuming and exhausting.

Now happily married, Abi’s built a new life for herself and put those days behind her. And yet as Grace slips back into her life with all the lethal charm she had before, Abi finds herself falling back under her spell…

Abi’s husband, Rohan, can’t help but be concerned as his wife’s behaviour changes. As their happy home threatens to fall apart, he realises that there’s something deeply unnerving about Grace. Just what influence does this woman have over his wife, and why has she come back now?

A chilling story of guilt and obsession from Anna Kent.

#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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rule by David Jackson was published in the UK by Viper Books on 1st July 2021 and is available in hardcover and digital formats – with the paperback to follow in 2022 (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

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

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

WWW Wednesday | 30th June 2021 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Seat 7a by Sebastian Fitzek (translated by Steve Anderson)
Germany’s king of the thriller takes to the skies with a terrifying and twisted new novel.

You know your fear is irrational, you’ve checked the statistics. Flying is safer than driving – nineteen times safer. Irrational, perhaps. But you’re not wrong.

Mats Krüger is terrified of flying. But his daughter, Nele, is about to give birth to his first grandchild, so, for once, he’s taking the risk and making the thirteen-hour flight from Buenos Aires to Berlin.

Of course, he’s taken precautions. He’s bought the five statistically safest seats on the plane, as well as seat 7A – the spot where you are most likely to die in a plane accident – so no one can sit there. Just in case.

But Mats has to give up seat 7A to another passenger. Moments later, he receives a phone call. Nele has been kidnapped. The caller has a single demand.

Convince the pilot to crash the plane. Or Nele dies.

What did you recently finish reading?

Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Charlie Jordan is being driven across the country by a serial killer. Maybe.

Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board, who also has a good reason for leaving university in the middle of term. On the road they share their stories, carefully avoiding the subject dominating the news – the Campus Killer, who’s tied up and stabbed three students in the span of a year, has just struck again.

Travelling the lengthy journey between university and their final destination, Charlie begins to notice discrepancies in Josh’s story.

As she begins to plan her escape from the man she is becoming certain is the killer, she starts to suspect that Josh knows exactly what she’s thinking.

Meaning that she could very well end up as his next victim.

A game of cat and mouse is about to play out. In order to win, Charlie must do only one thing . . . survive the night.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan
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.

#BookReview: The Hunger by Alma Katsu @TransworldBooks #TheHunger #damppebbles

“After having travelled west for weeks, the party of pioneers comes to a crossroads. It is time for their leader, George Donner, to make a choice. They face two diverging paths which lead to the same destination. One is well-documented – the other untested, but rumoured to be shorter.

Donner’s decision will shape the lives of everyone travelling with him. The searing heat of the desert gives way to biting winds and a bitter cold that freezes the cattle where they stand. Driven to the brink of madness, the ill-fated group struggles to survive and minor disagreements turn into violent confrontations. Then the children begin to disappear. As the survivors turn against each other, a few begin to realise that the threat they face reaches beyond the fury of the natural elements, to something more primal and far more deadly.

Based on the true story of The Donner Party, The Hunger is an eerie, shiver-inducing exploration of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Hunger by Alma Katsu. The Hunger was published by Bantam Press on 21st February 2019 and is available in all formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Hunger but that has in no way influenced my review.

This book has been sat on my shelf for far too long. I’ve been wanting to read it for such a long time so when a break in my planned reading came up, I grabbed the chance. And I loved it. The author’s compelling twist on a documented historical event was both intriguing and chilling.

It’s 1846  and a group of pioneers, many who are strangers, make the gruelling trek from Springfield, Illinois to California. Loaded with only the possessions they could carry, they start their brave trek across America. Tensions are high, rivalries are ever present and the fight for supremacy within the group is constant. George Donner, the group’s reigning leader, is given a choice. A crossroads. He’s warned against taking the less well-known route and told, for the sake of his party, to keep to the well-travelled path. Seasoned travellers repeatedly advise against it and warn of the dangers. But Donner decides to stick to his plan, sealing the fate of those he’s travelling with. What Donner doesn’t realise is that it’s not just the rapidly changing elements that pose a risk. There’s something else out there. Something deadly, and it has it’s sights set on the Donner Party…

I loved The Hunger. So much so, that approximately a quarter of the way through the book, bewitched by the author’s writing and completely absorbed by the story, I ordered myself a copy of Katsu’s latest book, The Deep. I loved that The Hunger is partly based on a true story but given an extra creepy twist. The story of the Donner Party is, in itself, quite harrowing but the author’s spine-tingling addition to the tale creates a piece of fiction which is both deeply unsettling and beautifully dark. I devoured it and days later, I’m still thinking about the book.

As a Brit living in the modern age (trains, planes and automobiles!), I personally struggle to get my head around the massive undertaking the Donner Party took when they left Springfield in April 1846. But thanks to Katsu’s exquisite writing, vibrant imagery and her ability to put her reader in the scene with the characters, I closed the back cover of this novel a little awestruck and feeling as though I had learnt something. Tensions run high, trust between the party is at an all-time low and the threat of the unknown was impossible to escape. As the weather closes in, as the snow drifts begin to build, I could see no escape for the party.  The claustrophobia and the periI were palpable. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Hunger is like nothing else I have read before and I can’t wait to make a start on The Deep (if it’s anything like The Hunger I know I’m going to be in for a huge treat!). I found The Hunger to be a completely engrossing and spell-binding read which I heartily recommend to horror fans. The ending was perfect and took my breath away. I adored this book and I’m kicking myself because it’s taken far too long for me to get around to reading it. Something truly special which has left its mark on me. Highly recommended.

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

The Hunger by Alma Katsu was published in the UK by Bantam Books on 21st February 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Alma KatsuAuthor of THE DEEP, a reimagining of the sinking of the Titanic, and THE HUNGER, a reimagining of the Donner Party’s tragic journey (Putnam);
THE TAKER, THE RECKONING and THE DESCENT (Gallery Books). The Taker was selected by ALA/Booklist as one of the top ten debut novels of 2011.

#BookReview: The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker @HutchinsonBooks @najmafinlay #TheFirstDayofSpring #damppebbles

‘So that was all it took,’ I thought. ‘That was all it took for me to feel like I had all the power in the world. One morning, one moment, one yellow-haired boy. It wasn’t so much after all.’

Chrissie knows how to steal sweets from the shop without getting caught, the best hiding place for hide-and-seek, the perfect wall for handstands.

Now she has a new secret. It gives her a fizzing, sherbet feeling in her belly. She doesn’t get to feel power like this at home, where food is scarce and attention scarcer.

Fifteen years later, Julia is trying to mother her five-year-old daughter, Molly. She is always worried – about affording food and school shoes, about what the other mothers think of her. Most of all she worries that the social services are about to take Molly away.

That’s when the phone calls begin, which Julia is too afraid to answer, because it’s clear the caller knows the truth about what happened all those years ago.

And it’s time to face the truth: is forgiveness and redemption ever possible for someone who has killed?

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker. The First Day of Spring is published by Hutchinson today (that’s Thursday 24th June 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The First Day of Spring which has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Najma at Hutchinson for sending me an early copy of the book.

Oh. My. Gosh! The First Day of Spring is completely mesmerising and utterly devastating. I was smitten early on and I couldn’t bear to be parted from the book until I closed the last page. This is an exquisite fiction debut from an author to watch. A beautifully written tale featuring unforgettable characters but with a darkness at its heart. I flipping loved it!

Chrissie is eight years old. Chrissie has a big secret – she killed a boy. But she can’t tell anyone what she did. Otherwise she won’t be able to do it again and have the fizzy feeling it gave her in her tummy. Fifteen years later, Julia is doing the best she can for her five year old daughter, Molly. She worries constantly that she’s not doing enough. Every scratch, every bump could result in social services taking Molly away. So the last thing Julia needs is for Molly to break her arm and end up in hospital under the watchful eye of a doctor. Shortly after Molly’s accident the phone calls start. Someone knows the truth. Someone knows what happened fifteen years ago. It’s finally time for Julia to face her past…

The First Day of Spring is a stunning piece of fiction which is heightened to a new level thanks to the voice of eight- year-old Chrissie. The author has managed to create an unforgettable character who, despite being a killer, worked her way into my heart. The neglect Chrissie suffers thanks to her distant and damaged mother, Eleanor, is devastating. The simple things a child needs to grow and flourish are not provided. Chrissie is unloved and unwanted, and boy, does she know it. Eleanor makes this plainly clear to everyone, including her own long-suffering daughter. One scene in particular, where Eleanor decides she’s had enough, is absolutely heart-breaking. Everyone in the small community could do more to help the child. Her clothes are tatty, she never wants to go home and she eats her friend’s parents out of house and home. But is the abuse and neglect suffered by Chrissie reason enough to kill? Can a child be held 100% accountable for their actions when they don’t fully understand what they’ve done?

Julia is desperate to make sure Molly experiences a very different childhood to her own. The desire to be different, to make a change, to break the cycle and provide everything her daughter needs motivates her to keep going. But she also sees Molly as punishment for the past. She’s reminded constantly of what she did. I so desperately wanted things to work out for Julia and Molly. With social services peering over their shoulders and the threat of losing Molly ever present, I was captivated by their journey from the moment I met them.

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely, yes. I devoured The First Day of Spring. When I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about the characters. It’s a dark and unsettling read which I don’t think will be a good fit for everyone due to the difficult subject matter but this reader absolutely loved it. Chrissie broke my heart time and time again. The author’s writing is immersive and totally believable which made Chrissie, Julia and Molly come to life before my very eyes. I don’t think I’ll be able or willing to forget The First Day of Spring. Haunting, compelling and utterly devastating. Highly recommended.

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

The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker was published in the UK by Hutchinson on 24th June 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Nancy Tucker was born and raised in West London. She spent most of her adolescence in and out of hospital suffering from anorexia nervosa. On leaving school, she wrote her first book, THE TIME IN BETWEEN (Icon, 2015) which explored her experience of eating disorders and recovery. Her second book, THAT WAS WHEN PEOPLE STARTED TO WORRY (Icon, 2018), looked more broadly at mental illness in young women.

Nancy recently graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Experimental Psychology. Since then she has worked in an inpatient psychiatric unit for children and adolescents and in adult mental health services. She now works as an assistant psychologist in an adult eating disorders service. The First Day of Spring is her first work of fiction.

WWW Wednesday | 23rd June 2021 #WWWWednesday #bookblogger #amreading #damppebbles

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading.

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Charlie Jordan is being driven across the country by a serial killer. Maybe.

Behind the wheel is Josh Baxter, a stranger Charlie met by the college ride share board, who also has a good reason for leaving university in the middle of term. On the road they share their stories, carefully avoiding the subject dominating the news – the Campus Killer, who’s tied up and stabbed three students in the span of a year, has just struck again.

Travelling the lengthy journey between university and their final destination, Charlie begins to notice discrepancies in Josh’s story.

As she begins to plan her escape from the man she is becoming certain is the killer, she starts to suspect that Josh knows exactly what she’s thinking.

Meaning that she could very well end up as his next victim.

A game of cat and mouse is about to play out. In order to win, Charlie must do only one thing . . . survive the night.

What did you recently finish reading?

The Lucky Eight by Sheila Bugler
When the plane crashed, 160 people perished. Now someone is killing off the survivors.

Five years ago, a horrific airline disaster made headlines around the world. On the anniversary of the fatal crash, a number of those who were spared gather to mark the occasion. By morning, Nick Gilbert, a celebrity chef and one of the party, lies dead. Detective Rachel Lewis leads the investigation and within days another survivor is stabbed to death. It seems certain that a killer is targeting the lucky eight.

Clodagh Kinsella recovered from the injuries she sustained in the crash, but lost her sister that day. The bereavement shared by Clodagh and her sister’s husband led them to a romance of their own. Yet lately, Clodagh knows something isn’t right. As the noose tightens on the group and Rachel comes across more questions than answers, it’s only a matter of time before Clodagh will have to face the consequences of a mistake she made before the plane went down…

A tense and gripping crime thriller, perfect for fans of Lesley Kara and Mari Hannah.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Seat 7a by Sebastian Fitzek (translated by Steve Anderson)
Germany’s king of the thriller takes to the skies with a terrifying and twisted new novel.

You know your fear is irrational, you’ve checked the statistics. Flying is safer than driving – nineteen times safer. Irrational, perhaps. But you’re not wrong.

Mats Krüger is terrified of flying. But his daughter, Nele, is about to give birth to his first grandchild, so, for once, he’s taking the risk and making the thirteen-hour flight from Buenos Aires to Berlin.

Of course, he’s taken precautions. He’s bought the five statistically safest seats on the plane, as well as seat 7A – the spot where you are most likely to die in a plane accident – so no one can sit there. Just in case.

But Mats has to give up seat 7A to another passenger. Moments later, he receives a phone call. Nele has been kidnapped. The caller has a single demand.

Convince the pilot to crash the plane. Or Nele dies.

#BookReview: Hostage by Clare Mackintosh @BooksSphere #HostageBook #damppebbles

“You can save hundreds of lives.
Or the one that matters most . . .

The atmosphere on board the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney is electric. Celebrities are rumoured to be among the passengers in business class, and the world is watching the landmark journey.

Flight attendant Mina is trying to focus on the passengers, instead of her troubled five-year-old daughter back at home – or the cataclysmic problems in her marriage.

But soon after the plane takes off, Mina receives a chilling anonymous note. Someone wants to make sure the plane never reaches its destination. They’re demanding her cooperation . . . and they know exactly how to get it.

It’s twenty hours to landing.
A lot can happen in twenty hours . . “

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Hostage by Clare Mackintosh. Hostage is published by Sphere today (that’s Tuesday 22nd June 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Hostage but that has in no way influenced my review.

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a huge fan of books with a disaster theme to them. I LOVE them. The complete lack of control the characters have. The gut wrenching knowledge of the situation they’re in. And in the case of Hostage, the intense claustrophobia pressing down on the characters heightening every situation, every twist and turn. There was no way on this earth I was going to be able to resist Hostage, and I loved every second I spent with this immersive thriller.

Mina Holbrook is part of the cabin crew for the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney since 1989. It’s a momentous occasion and one she had to fight for, if only to avoid an uncomfortable lead up to Christmas with her estranged husband, playing happy families. Flight 79 will be remembered forever…but not for the reasons everyone is expecting. A couple of hours into the twenty hour flight, Mina receives a note which changes everything. She must help a hijacker access the flight deck. It goes against everything she believes in, everything she trained for. But the hijacker knows exactly how to get Mina’s co-operation. She has a choice to make; save many lives or just the one…

What a page-turner! I was completely engrossed in Hostage from beginning to end and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride (although I won’t be getting on a plane anytime soon!). It’s a gripping, heart-stopping thriller and I devoured it quicker than anything else I’ve read recently. I struggled with how I felt about Mina. Ultimately she’s put in a very difficult position and makes a choice that I could completely understand. Was it the right decision? Who knows! But I disliked her for it despite it being the decision many of us would also make. Thank goodness this is fiction and not real life. However, after that first event, I started to warm to her again and I think that’s a mark of the author’s excellent writing.  She’s a villain, yes, but she’s not the biggest one by far!

I couldn’t stop thinking about this book when I wasn’t reading it. The pull it had over me was great and I was desperate to find out what terrible event was going to happen next. The reader gets a few short insights into the other passengers lives before the flight and this really helped build their characters for me. There are shocks and surprises galore but I had my suspicions about one aspect of the book which proved to be correct. It didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the story at all though. If anything, it added an extra thrill to the big reveal.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Hostage is a gripping thrill-ride of a read which I devoured with glee. There were certain points in the book where I had to suspend my disbelief a little but again, it’s a cracking story so does it really matter. I was entertained. I will admit to shedding a tear at one point but I can’t tell you where or why. You’ll just have to read this cracking novel for yourself! This is the first book I’ve read by this author but it won’t be my last. An edge of your seat thriller which I highly recommend.

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

Hostage by Clare Mackintosh was published in the UK by Sphere Books on 22nd June 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

With more than two million copies of her books sold worldwide, number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016.

Both Clare’s second and third novels, I See You and Let Me Lie, were number one Sunday Times bestsellers. All three of her books were selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club. Clare’s latest novel, After the End, was published in June 2019 and spent seven weeks in the Sunday Times hardback bestseller chart.

Clare’s latest thriller, Hostage, will be published in June 2021.

Together, Clare’s books have been published in more than forty countries. Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

#BookReview: Passenger List by J.S. Dryden @TrapezeBooks #PassengerList #damppebbles

“A missing plane.
A cabin full of suspects.
One woman’s quest for the truth.

When Atlantic Airlines Flight 702 disappears mid-flight between London and New York, the world is stunned. With the public clamouring for answers, authorities seem at a loss as to how to explain the plane’s disappearance.

There were 256 passengers on Flight 702, with many carrying dark secrets on board with them. Could one of them hold the truth behind the plane’s disappearance?

College student Kaitlin Le’s beloved twin brother Conor was on that plane. She refuses to believe the official statements, or to join her parents in their blind acceptance of Conor’s death.

But as she journeys deeper into the murky heart of what really happened on board that plane, it becomes clear she’s drawing attention to herself. And there are some people who would rather the truth behind the fate of Flight 702 stayed buried…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Passenger List by J.S. Dryden. Passenger List will be published by Trapeze Books next week (that’s Thursday 24th June 2021) and will be available in paperback, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Passenger List but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a huge fan of disaster based thrillers and mysteries, particularly those featuring a hijacked or missing plane. So when I saw this book, it absolutely screamed my name. This is the third plane-based thriller I have read this month (but only the second I’ve reviewed so far on the blog) but it’s slightly different in its approach to the first two, both of which involved a hijacking. Passenger List is more of a fast-paced mystery. I was swept up into Kaitlin Le’s story and oh boy, it was one heck of a ride!

Kaitlin Le refuses to acknowledge the presumed death of her twin brother, Conor. Conor was a passenger on Atlantic Airlines Flight 702 which disappeared during a scheduled flight from London to New York. She’s his twin, surely she would know if he had perished. But with the authorities sticking to one story, Kaitlin has a battle on her hands. Turning her back on her education and her place at Vassar, partly funded by her roommate, Amelia, Kaitlin heads to New York to dig deeper into what happened to flight 702 and ultimately, to find Conor. No matter what it takes…

Kaitlin Le is one tenacious and persistent woman! Where others would have walked away for fear of their life, Kaitlin refuses to give up. I loved her drive. It made for an exciting and thrilling read. She’s pretty reckless at times and gets herself into some terrifying scrapes but she keeps going. Ably assisted by a small group of fascinating characters (an investigative journalist, an ex-FBI agent, an ambulance-chasing lawyer) all of whom help move the story along and add something interesting to the tale.

On analysing the passenger list and digging a little deeper, Kaitlin is able to come up with several possible reasons as to why the flight changed course and vanished. I liked the variety this gave the story. Leads had to be investigated, the truth uncovered (as much as possible) before Kaitlin could decide whether it was worth taking her idea forward. There were a couple of points in the book where I felt things got a little far-fetched but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story at all.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. After reading several plane-based thrillers of late Passenger List‘s different approach made a thoroughly enjoyable change. I found the book easy to read and hard to put down, so much so that I sped through it in a little over 24 hours. A gripping, thrilling read which I heartily recommend to fans of plot-driven mysteries. Just don’t blame me if you never step foot on a plane again! Recommended. (And if you’re a fan of podcasts I believe there’s an accompanying series which you can listen to via the author’s website or your favourite podcast outlet.)

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Passenger List. The above review is my ow unbiased opinion.

Passenger List by J.S. Dryden was published in the UK by Trapeze Books on 24th June 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 |

Thumanbay_by The Masons-57.jpegJohn Dryden is a writer, director and executive producer. He created the fiction podcast PASSENGER LIST, a mystery thriller about a plane that disappears mid-flight between London and New York, and the historical fantasy series TUMANBAY which has run for four series. He has written and directed many audio drama series for the BBC including the thrillers SEVERED THREADS, A KIDNAPPING, PANDEMIC and THE RELUCTANT SPY. He has also dramatised and directed for BBC Radio 4 a Sony Award winning dramatization of Charles Dickens’ BLEAK HOUSE, Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE and Vikram Seth’s A SUITABLE BOY.