#BookReview | Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest by Aisling Fowler @HarperCollinsCh @TinaMories #Fireborn #damppebbles

“Set in the snowy northern forests of an imagined prehistoric world, Fireborn is the middle-grade debut of the decade. At turns exciting, funny and heart wrenchingly sad, it marks the introduction of an unstoppable new voice in children’s storytelling.

Twelve has spoken the Pledge and now she is a Huntling. She has given up her name to train in the art of fighting monsters and keeping the peace, and she won’t get to choose a new one until she has earned it.

But when the Lodge’s walls are breached for the first time, and a little girl is taken, Twelve is the only one interested in going after a child . . .

Teaming up with Dog, the Stone Guardian of the Lodge, Twelve ends up on an epic adventure that will change her life, her name – and her entire world.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest by Aisling Fowler. Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in hardcover, audio and digital formats today (that’s Thursday 30th September 2021). I chose to read and review a free ARC of Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Tina at HarperCollins Children’s Books for sending me a proof copy.

Well, I say ‘me’ but if I’m being truthful, Tina didn’t send a copy to me. She sent it to my 10 year old daughter who saw the book on my Twitter feed and fell in love. She was so excited to read it. It went to school with her, she showed it to her class and told them all about Twelve. It was a complete and utter joy to see how much she enjoyed reading this book. So I had to give it a read myself! I’ll share my thoughts in a tick but first of all, here’s what G thought…

Fireborn is a brilliant book about persevering, courage and friendship. I love how the Frozen Forest challenges Twelve because it keeps on changing and moving around her. The book had a lot of twists and turns. My favourite character is Widge, Twelve’s pet squirrel because he’s really cute, friendly and loyal. The book made me feel excited and nervous for Twelve. I love how there are so many flashbacks from Twelve’s life before she joined the Hunting Lodge. It made me feel as though I knew Twelve really well. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy magical fantasy. I really enjoyed Fireborn by Aisling Fowler and hope for more adventures with Twelve and her friends soon!

What a rip-roaring adventure the author has created for her wonderful lead character! There is so much to love about Fireborn. First of all, it’s perfectly pitched at its young audience with so many thrills and spills along the way. The author’s world building hit all the right notes providing stunning spectacles of magic and fantasy which even I, as a more mature reader *ahem*, found exciting and thoroughly engaging. I couldn’t help but like Twelve. She’s a renegade, a fighter and she’ll do what she thinks is right – no matter what the consequences. I loved her fire. Driven by the loss of her family and a thirst for revenge, she’s exactly the kind of hero I wanted to read about as a kid.

I really enjoyed how the author paired Twelve with characters who were her opposite and then dropped them into scenarios where their individual strengths shone. Enabling the characters to see the best in their counterparts. I enjoyed watching Twelve slowly thaw towards the other characters in the book. Realising over time that the people she disliked the most could, in fact, become friends. There are some truly wonderful twists along the way which I didn’t see coming. Twelve, alongside Dog, the magical, invincible guardian of the Hunting Lodge meet a host of well-drawn magical creatures in the forest who are out to put an end to their quest.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest is an exciting, tension filled read which my daughter and I both loved. This thrilling middle grade fantasy whisks its readers away to another world, full of magical creatures and dark delights. Wonderful characters, brilliant twists and some very impressive world building with a strong female lead at the helm. Absolutely marvellous and we can’t wait to catch up with Twelve again soon 🔥. Highly recommended.

I chose to read and review a free ARC of Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest by Aisling Fowler was published in the UK by HarperCollins Children’s Books on 30th September 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 |

ⓒ Claire Bradshaw

Aisling wishes that she had grown up in a magical, mountainous kingdom, but was actually raised in Surrey on a diet of books and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her early ‘adventure’ stories involved surprisingly little action and her first novel (3 pages long) was politely declined by publishers at age 11. After earning a BSc in Biology and working as a support worker and then a nurse, the idea for her debut novel, Fireborn, came to her as she moved back and forth between London and the US. Now based in Hackney, when she is not reading or writing, Aisling loves cooking and plotting adventures (for herself as well as her fictional characters). Fireborn will be published by HarperCollins in 2021.

#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: Survive the Night by Riley Sager @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity #SurvivetheNight #damppebbles

“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.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Survive the Night by Riley Sager. Survive the Night is published by Hodder & Stoughton today (that’s Thursday 29th July 2021) and is available in audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Survive the Night but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am currently suffering the biggest book hangover thanks to the divine Survive the Night. Regular readers of damppebbles may be aware that I am a huge Riley Sager fan. Sager’s debut, Final Girls, is one of my very favourite books (I have a Final Girls wallet!). Home Before Dark, which was published last year, was one of my favourite books of 2020. If Riley Sager writes it, I want to read it. Getting my mitts on a copy of Survive the Night sent me a little giddy with joy. I devoured this book. I feel bereft now that it’s over. But one thing’s for sure, I know nothing else I read for a while is going to come anywhere close to topping Survive the Night.

Charlie has had enough of College and wants to return to the comfort of her home and Nana Norma. Her boyfriend, Robbie, isn’t able to drive her to Youngstown for a few more days but Charlie can’t wait any longer. Putting her trust in a stranger, she advertises on the ‘ride board’ for a lift. Which is where she meets Josh Baxter. He seems nice enough. She’s cautious, of course. As a movie buff and a Film Theory student, she knows what can happen when you climb into a car with a stranger! She’s desperate to return home though. The need to escape Olyphant University and everything that happened there is great. So she reluctantly accepts the risk. Telling herself over and over again to be smart, be brave and be careful. But as the journey progresses, Charlie starts to think she’s made a terrible mistake. Could Josh be a serial killer after all…?

The first thing I need to say about Survive the Night is that it felt quite different to the author’s previous books. I would classify Sager’s books as predominantly mysteries, but mysteries which err on the side of horror. Survive the Night felt more crime noir than any of his previous novels. Movies play a big part of the plot, which may have given the book a different feel. Or it may be the overall vibe of the story (the long drive into the night with a complete stranger). Or perhaps it’s because it’s set in 1991 and the author has excelled at putting an aged/retro feel into his text (no matter what you say, 1991 wasn’t THAT long ago! Thirty years is nothing, right…? 😬). I can’t put my finger on exactly what gives Survive the Night its utterly hypnotic and immersive appeal, but I loved it. If this is the direction the author has chosen to go in, then I’m all for it!

I adored Charlie. If you’re a fan of the unreliable narrator then oh boy, you need to get yourself a copy of this book! Charlie, having lost both parents in a car accident when she was younger, and having to deal with the trauma of a double funeral, now experiences ‘movies in her mind’. Hallucinations to the rest of us. These vivid scenes play out in front of her and only afterwards, when she has ‘come to’ does she realise they weren’t real. Unfortunately for Charlie, the occurrence and the clarity of these ‘movies’ is on the increase. Which Josh uses to his advantage…

I was a little concerned, before starting the book, that a tale about a six hour long road trip could end up being a little dry. I needn’t have worried. It’s anything but! As realisation dawns on Charlie, an intricate game of cat and mouse begins in the confines of Josh’s Grand Am. The tension builds beautifully, unease and suspicion mount and it’s a glorious, hypnotic thing!

Would I recommend this book? 100%, YES! I loved Survive the Night. Everything about it was perfection on a page. The twists are weaved into the story masterfully. One in particular I was able to guess but as you can see, it certainly didn’t spoil my reading experience at all. Plus there are lots of other really clever little details thrown into the story to keep you gripped and turning the pages. Sager has excelled himself. I feel as though I lived this book alongside the characters. Absolutely bloody marvellous! Tense, all absorbing and utterly captivating. Highly recommended.

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

Survive the Night by Riley Sager was published in the UK by Hodder and Stoughton on 29th July 2021 and is available in 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 |

Riley Sager is the award-winning pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.

Now a full-time author, Riley’s first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, became a national and international bestseller and was called “the first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King. Translation rights have been sold in more than two dozen countries.

Riley’s next three books, THE LAST TIME I LIED, LOCK EVERY DOOR and HOME BEFORE DARK, were instant New York Times bestsellers. His upcoming thriller SURVIVE THE NIGHT will be published this summer.

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”

#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 Beach House by Beverley Jones (@bevjoneswriting) @TheCrimeVault @LittleBrownUK #TheBeachHouse #damppebbles

The perfect place to hide. Or so she thought . . .

When Grace Jensen returns to her home in Lookout Beach one day, she finds a body in a pool of blood and a menacing gift left for her.

The community of Lookout Beach is shocked by such a brutal intrusion in their close-knit neighbourhood – particularly to a family as successful and well-liked as the Jensens – and a police investigation to find the trespasser begins.

But Grace knows who’s after her. She might have changed her name and moved across the world, deciding to hide on the Oregon coast, but she’s been waiting seventeen years for what happened in the small Welsh town where she grew up to catch-up with her.

Grace might seem like the model neighbour and mother, but nobody in Lookout Beach – not even her devoted husband Elias – knows the real her. Or how much blood is on her hands.

The hottest, edge-of-your-seat summer thriller, perfect for fans of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and The Holiday by T. M. Logan.

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Beach House by Beverley Jones. The Beach House was published by Constable on 24th June 2021 and is available in digital format with the paperback to follow in 2022. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The Beach House but that has in no way influenced my review.

I am a HUGE fan of Beverley Jones’s writing. Her previous two books, written as B.E. Jones, Halfway and Wilderness (as a side note, Wilderness has since had a bit of a make-over and is now called The Perfect Break) have both featured on my top books of the year list. They’re intelligently written psychological thrillers with a strong sense of place, and characters who stand tall from the page. I am delighted to confirm that The Beach House is no exception. Jones has produced another dark and engrossing thriller which I devoured with glee.

Grace Jensen has worked hard to create the perfect life for her and her family. Returning to her gorgeous beach front house on Lookout Beach one day, she makes a shocking discovery. A body on her kitchen floor, covered in blood. The body is distressing enough, but the objects carefully placed on her kitchen worksurface send a very clear message. Grace knows it’s time. After seventeen years of being careful, of building a new life, her past is finally catching up with her. No one knows what Grace did all those years ago, not even her devoted husband, Elias. And Grace will do anything to keep it that way…

Jones has excelled herself once again in creating an intriguing psychological thriller where character and setting have equal batting. I loved Grace. I was instantly attracted to the dark edge the character exudes. There’s just something about her which appealed to me (not sure what that says about me!) and if memory serves, something similar happened with the main character in The Perfect Break. Jones is able to create characters who worm their way under your skin. Whether you like them or loathe them doesn’t really matter, you certainly won’t be able to forget them! I thoroughly enjoyed discovering Grace’s secrets, which are intriguingly drip-fed to the reader over the course of the book. The need to find out what catastrophic event had led Grace halfway around the world had me turning the pages faster than most other books I’ve read recently. I couldn’t put The Beach House down, nor did I want to!

The author has set the story on the coast of Oregon and it’s clear Jones is both familiar and fond of her chosen backdrop. Despite never having visited myself, I was able to picture the dramatic landscape easily. Regular readers of damppebbles may be aware that I’m very much a character focussed reader but when an author completely captures the feel and the atmosphere of their setting, particularly one as dramatic and striking as this, it deserves to be mentioned. The author transported me to a different location and in these COVID-restricted times, I’m very grateful for that.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Beach House is a gripping tale of secrets, lies and obsession and I devoured it in a couple of short sittings. I found Grace, as the book’s lead character, to be intriguing and utterly captivating. I think I’m a little bit in love 😳. As the story unfolds, the tension ramps up with a dramatic and thrilling denouement which I thought was a perfect conclusion to Grace’s story. I loved The Beach House and I know that it will be the third book by this author, in as many years, to make an appearance on my top books of the year list. Compelling, addictive and hugely entertaining. Highly recommended.

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

The Beach House by Beverley Jones was published in the UK by Constable on 24th June 2021 and is available in digital format 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Beverley Jones, also known as B E Jones, is a former journalist and police press officer, now a novelist and general book obsessive. Bev was born in a small village in the South Wales valleys, north of Cardiff. She started her journalism career with Trinity Mirror newspapers, writing stories for The Rhondda Leader and The Western Mail, before becoming a broadcast journalist with BBC Wales Today TV news, based in Cardiff. She has worked on all aspects of crime reporting (as well as community news and features) producing stories and content for newspapers and live TV.

Most recently Bev worked as a press officer for South Wales Police, dealing with the media and participating in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning.

Perhaps unsurprisingly she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and her insight into the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales.

Her latest novels, Where She Went, Halfway and Wilderness, are published by Little Brown under the name BE Jones. Wilderness has recently been optioned for a six part TV adaptation by Firebird Pictures. Her seventh novel, The Beach House, is due for release in June 2021 under the name Beverley Jones. Chat with her on Goodreads.co.uk under B E Jones or Beverley Jones and on Twitter and Instagram @bevjoneswriting Bev is represented by The Ampersand Agency.

#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.

#BookReview: Falling by T.J. Newman @simonschusterUK #Falling #damppebbles

“You just boarded a flight to New York.

There are one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard.

What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight your pilot’s family was kidnapped.

For his family to live, everyone on your plane must die.

The only way the family will survive is if the pilot follows his orders and crashes the plane.

Enjoy the flight.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Falling by T.J. Newman. Falling is published by Simon & Schuster today (that’s Thursday 10th June 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Falling but that has in no way influenced my review.

Woah! I mean, WOAH! What a book! I’ve discovered in recent years that I’m a huge fan of novels which feature a disaster at their heart. I have a particular love of plane-based hostage situations. Stranded at 35,000 feet, there’s no escape and someone else is pulling the very delicate strings. One wrong move and….BOOM! So much so, Falling is the first of three flight-based thrillers I’m featuring on damppebbles this month. And it’s by far the best. I didn’t want to be separated from this book for a single second.

Captain Bill Hoffman boards flight CA416 to New York with a heavy heart. He knows he’s in trouble with his wife, when he left the house things were strained between them but for Bill, it’s impossible to say no to the Chief Pilot. Missing his son’s Little League opener is something he’ll have to come to terms with. Despite the tension at home, it’s another normal day for Bill. Nothing out of the ordinary. Until he receives a devastating message. His family have been taken hostage. In order for them to live, Bill must crash the plane killing everyone on board. Bill has an impossible decision to make and the clock is ticking…

Falling is a superb debut. Tense, scarily real and absolutely relentless. The book starts with a bang. The author throws the reader straight into the deep end. You have no idea what came before but you have a fair idea of what’s coming next. By far, the best opener to a book I’ve read in a long, long time. Although the action does grind down a gear or two after our initial introduction to Bill, the tension remains ever present. As the situation the crew are in becomes clear, as the pressure mounts, the book builds to a heart-stopping climax. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I was living and breathing this book alongside the characters. Totally believable, completely engrossing and the ultimate thrill-ride.

As an ex-flight attendant the author has used her extensive knowledge (and a little artistic flair!) to create a pulse-pounding reading experience which I loved. I felt fully invested in the characters. Strong, capable Bill who everyone believes will do the right thing (whatever that is!), the fearless cabin crew who not only have a flight full of anxious, scared passengers to deal with but also the promise of the hijackers ‘back-up plan’. And not forgetting Bill’s family, his wife, Carrie, who has a suicide vest strapped to her but still manages to remain outwardly calm and in control for the sake of her two children – 10 year old Scott and baby, Elise. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of and I loved every heart in my mouth second.

Would I recommend this book? I most definitely would, yes. If you’re looking for a thrilling, high concept, intense and all-consuming read then make sure you get yourself a copy of Falling. It’s true, I won’t be stepping foot on a plane anytime soon but don’t let that stop you 😂! Highly, highly entertaining. I was completely captivated from that blisteringly good start to the heart-stopping, ‘read behind your hands’ end. A definite contender for my ‘books of the year’ list without a doubt. Shedloads of suspense, a fast and pacey plot and a cast of characters I felt fully invested in. Sublime! Highly recommended.

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

Falling by T.J. Newman was published in the UK by Simon & Schuster on 10th 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 |

T.J. NewmanT. J. Newman, a former bookseller turned flight attendant, worked for Virgin America and Alaska Airlines from 2011 to 2021. FALLING is her first novel.

#BookReview: Dead Ground by M.W. Craven @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault #DeadGround #WashingtonPoe #damppebbles

“Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused – he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp – but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.

As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim’s background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene – and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of Dead Ground by M.W. Craven. Dead Ground is the fourth book in the Washington Poe series, it’s published today (that’s Thursday 3rd June 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Dead Ground but that has in no way influenced my review.

Flipping heck, another absolutely stonking book from the pen of M.W. Craven. He can do no wrong in my eyes! Dead Ground is the fourth book in the Washington Poe series (although we all know the series is unofficially called ‘Tilly and Poe’, right?) and it’s an intense and gripping page turner of a read. I devoured it’s 448 pages in a little over 24 hours because it was impossible to put down. If you’re a crime fiction fan and you haven’t picked this series up yet, then you need to correct that ASAP!

In the middle of fighting for his beloved shepherd’s croft, moments before the magistrate delivers his final decision, two mysterious men enter the court room and summon Tilly and Poe to their vehicle. Poe is reluctant to leave but powers far superior to those he normally answers to have made the call. It doesn’t take Poe long to work out who the men are and where they are taking them. But the ‘why’ remains unclear. Until they’re shown grisly crime scene photos of a man beaten to death inside a brothel. As Tilly and Poe begin to scratch the surface, nothing seems to make sense. Who was the victim and why are MI5 so interested in him? As they dig deeper, it’s clear the pair are uncovering something with far reaching and dangerous implications…

Dead Ground was an absolute joy to read! It’s twisty and thrilling and all the things I want in my crime fiction. I adore both Tilly and Poe. The dynamic between the two characters is just perfect. Craven has created two very different people who bring out the best in each other, and spending time with them is like being reunited with old friends. I loved the banter, the sense of friendship and loyalty, and how the author evokes such strong feelings of fondness for them in his readers. By far the best crime fighting duo out there (and I will fight you if you disagree 😂).

Tilly and Poe are once again in deep. Nothing is ever simple, nor easy for these two. But if you’ve got a complicated case which needs solving, I can’t think of two people I’d rather have working it!  The author has written an exciting and intense story with several seemingly unconnected threads which had me on the edge of my seat. The investigation is on an epic scale and I couldn’t help but wonder how the author was going to tie everything together at the conclusion of the book. But oh boy, does it all come together. And when you think it’s all solved, there might just be another fantastic, unexpected twist to add to the mix!

Would I recommend this book? Most definitely. The entire series is magnificent and I heartily recommend you get your mitts on all four books. Dead Ground is a compulsive and irresistible addition to an outstanding series. I fall a little more in love with these characters with each book so I’m counting down the days until book five is released next year (fingers crossed!). Poe stands head and shoulders above his counterparts in the same genre, and with the help of the incredible Tilly, they are a force to be reckoned with. A must read for all crime fiction fans, do whatever it takes (within legal boundaries and reason, of course!) to get hold of a copy. I promise, you’ll be hooked before you know it! Highly recommended.

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

Dead Ground by M.W. Craven was published in the UK by Constable on 3rd June 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats with the paperback to follow in November (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 |

M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .

M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.

#BookReview: The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird @boroughpress #TheEndOfMen #damppebbles

“Glasgow, 2025.  Dr Amanda Maclean is called to treat a young man with a mild fever. Within three hours he dies. The mysterious illness sweeps through the hospital with deadly speed. This is how it begins.

The victims are all men.

Dr Maclean raises the alarm, but the sickness spreads to every corner of the globe. Threatening families. Governments. Countries.

Can they find a cure before it’s too late? Will this be the story of the end of the world – or its salvation?

Compelling, confronting and devastating, The End of Men is the novel that everyone is talking about.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird. The End of Men is published by The Borough Press today (that’s Thursday 29th April 2021) and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of The End of Men but that has in no way influenced my review.

Oh.My.Goodness! This book is incredible. After the last year or so, you’ll understand why I have been purposefully avoiding all fiction which involves a virus or a pandemic. Too close to home. Far, far too close to home. But Sweeney-Baird’s debut intrigued me. I love dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction. However, I don’t read anywhere near enough. The End of Men has without doubt reignited my love of this compelling, thought-provoking genre. This book is an absolute must-read!

On a normal shift in A&E, Dr Amanda Maclean makes a shocking discovery. Male patients and staff in the hospital are coming down with a mystery illness which, within a few days, kills them. Dr Maclean recognises the risk and tries to put emergency measures into place to control the spread of the virus. But she’s thwarted at every turn by those higher up the food chain. Before long the virus – named by Dr Maclean as the Plague – is taking over and spreading faster than anyone could imagine. As the World struggles to find a vaccine, the question on everyone’s lips is: could this be the end of men….?

Absolutely superb and frighteningly real. The author has included a note at the start of the novel which explains how the book was written before COVID came into our lives. I wonder how the author felt as she watched the news stories building day by day. The virus in The End of Men is, of course, not the same as COVID but there are similarities which can’t be ignored.

Anyway, enough talk of COVID. I only mentioned it because I think it’s impossible to ignore our own experience of a pandemic when you’re discussing a book about a pandemic! So instead let’s imagine a world where virtually everyone you meet is female. All of the men – the husbands, the sons, the fathers, the brothers, the uncles – have died. A few men are immune but the odds aren’t great, only 1 in 10. Every other male is guaranteed to die because there is no stopping the Plague. Women carry the virus but don’t become ill. There is no vaccine, shielding can help but only for so long. It’s a death sentence and there’s nothing that can be done. Now think of all of the professions where the large majority of people qualified are men (not exclusively men but the majority). Pilots, electricians, refuse workers, the army, the police force, the list goes on. The implications of the author’s scary new world are far reaching and it was a real eye opener for this reader. The slow realisation of what no men would, in reality, actually mean.

The End of Men is the true definition a page turner. I couldn’t put this book down as I was desperate to find out what revelation the author was going to share with me next. We follow the lives of several woman and watch how grief, uncertainty and a complete change in lifestyle affect them. Some, surprisingly, for the better. For a lot of the woman in this novel, the painful loss of some or all of their family, was devastating. My heart broke on several occasions and I particularly felt for Catherine. Catherine is an anthropologist who features throughout the book and decides to record the stories of the Plague for future reference. I loved Catherine who was unapologetic in her grief, devoted to her loving husband and adorable son. I looked forward to hearing from her and I longed for her story to finish on a high note. Whether it does or not, you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The End of Men is a must read for all. Intelligent, poignant, devastating and totally absorbing. This is another stunning debut for 2021 which I heartily recommend. Another strong contender for my ‘books of the year’ list. I struggled to put this one down and on the odd occasion where I did, I was desperate to pick it up again and return to the author’s world. Such an emotional, well thought out and captivating piece of fiction that I hope flies off the shelves. It absolutely deserves to! Highly recommended.

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

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird was published in the UK by The Borough Press on 29th 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.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Christina Sweeney-Baird was born in 1993 and grew up in North London and Glasgow. She studied Law at the University of Cambridge and graduated with a First in 2015. She works as a corporate litigation lawyer in London. The End of Men is her first novel.