#BookReview: Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner @BloomsburyRaven #GreenwichPark #damppebbles

“Helen has it all…

Daniel is the perfect husband.
Rory is the perfect brother.
Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.

And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.

When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.

Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret.

Masterfully plotted and utterly addictive, Greenwich Park is a dark, compelling look at motherhood, friendships, privilege and the secrets we keep to protect ourselves.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner. Greenwich Park is published today (that’s Thursday 15th April 2021) by Raven Books and is available in hardcover and digital formats. I chose to read a free ARC of Greenwich Park but that has in no way influenced my review. My grateful thanks to Raven Books for sending me a copy of the book.

Greenwich Park is a book which is impossible to resist. I mean, have you SEEN that cover with the stark white and vivid green?! Gorgeous. And then you have the blurb which intrigues the reader, piquing your interest to the point where you have to find out more. I was looking forward to reading this one A LOT, particularly as it’s one of Raven Books lead titles for the year. And oh boy, it’s a creeping, compelling and ultimately satisfying read which I could not put down. The debut authors are absolutely smashing it this year!

Helen has the perfect life. Daniel, her architect husband, adores her, they live in a beautiful house in exclusive Greenwich Park and they’re expecting their first baby after years of tragedy. Life is good and quite literally perfect in every way. So when Helen decides to book herself, Daniel, Helen’s brother, Rory and his pregnant wife, Serena, into an NCT class, Helen is full of hope and excitement. But they all cancel at the last minute leaving poor Helen alone. That is until single mum-to-be Rachel arrives and takes an instant shine to lonely Helen. Rachel is over the top, brash and domineering. She’s the opposite of Helen in every way. But Helen is far too polite, far too British to get rid of Rachel. Before long, Rachel worms her way into Helen’s perfect life and wants to know everything about her marriage to Daniel, her friends and her family. And she will stop at nothing to discover every little secret….

I was completely drawn into this book from the very start. Helen is an interesting character if not a little needy and naïve in her approach to life. She’s also quite frustrating in her pursuit of perfection (a little smug at times perhaps?) and how generally nice she is. But I kind of liked her, in a strange sort of way. She’s certainly not the type of character who normally appeals to me – I like a darker edge – but she’s so well written that I couldn’t help but warm to her. Rachel has something mysterious and dark about her which I really liked. I couldn’t work out her motives for worming her way into Helen’s life which kept me turning the pages, looking for that elusive clue. One aspect of Rachel felt a little obvious but it all added to the big question – WHY was she doing this to sweet, naïve Helen?!

The ending of Greenwich Park is one of the most satisfying, most fitting endings I’ve read for some time in a book, and I loved it. You know those ‘memorable last lines in a book’ lists you sometimes see?  THIS book needs to be on that list. It was perfect and I closed the back cover with a smile on my face. The author does an excellent job of tricking the reader into thinking that’s it, story over. But that’s not the case. There’s a more juicy detail to be told and I thoroughly enjoyed the reveal. Superbly done!

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Greenwich Park is a fantastic debut from an author to watch. I was hooked by Helen and Rachel’s story, desperate to find out the reasons behind Rachel’s actions. I found Greenwich Park to be a very addictive and compelling page turner with a deliciously dark edge. A fantastic story full of well-written characters which piqued my interest from the outset and kept me hooked until the hugely satisfying ending. Highly recommended.

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

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner was published in the UK by Raven Books on 15th April 2021 and is available in hardcover and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook Depositorybookshop.orgGoodreadsdamppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Katherine is a London-based author and journalist. She studied History at Cambridge University, graduating with a First,  then completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Newspaper Journalism. Since then she has been working as an investigative reporter and latterly an editor. Her work has been published in many national papers, and she most recently worked at The Times, where she was the joint Head of News.

While working as an undercover reporter, Katherine won the Cudlipp Award for public interest journalism and was nominated for a string of others. She was also commended by a committee of MPs for ‘the highest standards of ethical investigative reporting.’

Katherine was inspired to write her debut novel about the complexity of female friendships after attending NCT classes when pregnant, and her experience of sudden intimacy with complete strangers. She spent her maternity leave juggling looking after her newborn daughter with completing the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course, with her final manuscript attracting the interest of sixteen different literary agents.

Katherine lives in Hackney, East London, where she grew up, with her husband and two daughters. Her favourite things (other than books) include tea, the north Cornish coast, France (especially Provence), yoga, the rightmove app, daytime property programmes (especially Love it or List it with Kirsty and Phil), walking, open fires, red wine and ravioli.

#BookReview: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (@stu_turton) @BloomsburyRaven @BloomsburyBooks #SevenDeathsofEvelynHardcastle #SevenDeaths @1stMondayCrime

seven deaths cover.jpg

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…

Oh.My.Gosh! How to review this delightfully odd, somewhat insane and utterly beguiling piece of crime fiction…? *Pondering. I’m pondering here people, give me time to ponder*. Erm…..

Well, it was a wonderful read and you should definitely purchase a copy. Thank you for your time, and goodnight!

Exit GIF-downsized_large.gif

Okay, maybe not the most extensive book review you may read today but that’s pretty much all you need to know; that’s my ‘take home’ message’ for Seven Deaths. It is utterly mesmerising as a novel and I do have to wonder exactly how Stuart Turton’s brain works. No, let’s not go there.

Aiden Bishop is in his own living hell. He’s trapped in Blackheath, a dilapidated manor house owned by the Hardcastle family. Every night he falls asleep and wakes the next day in a brand new body. Every day is exactly the same for Aiden; the day Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered at 11pm by the reflecting pool. He’s inhabiting ‘hosts’, strangers to him who have come to Blackheath for a rather macabre party. Aiden knows something isn’t quite right, he battles on a daily basis with his hosts. Their personalities sometimes pushing Bishop to the back, resulting in moments where he is not in control. Aiden is tasked by the Plague Doctor to solve the murder. He must report to the masked man at 11pm, tell him who killed Evelyn and he will finally be free. Will Aiden be able to solve the murder or will he be banished to a life of repetition. The same people, the same day, the same horrific murder, never able to remember who he is and, most importantly, what he’s left behind…

Honestly, I’m a little flummoxed about where to start. At no point whilst reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle did I ever, truly, feel like I knew what was going on. This is an incredibly clever piece of fiction which I imagine took a significant amount of time to write. I think it was my friend Joanne at My Chestnut Reading Tree who I first saw compare this book to Quantum Leap. I just want to jump to my feet here and now nodding enthusiastically at you, giving you a look that says ‘YES! Flipping YES!’. This book reminded me so much of Quantum Leap. Quantum Leap plus Groundhog Day with a hefty dose of the classic murder mystery. Time hopping, body leaping and I’m going to have to say it again, OH.MY.GOSH, what a mystery! If you’re a fan of historical crime, if you’re a fan of the mystery novel then you must experience this book. It’s so different, so deliciously complex, so….well, GENIUS! And in a mere 500+ pages as well.

I am fully aware that this is a very different type of review from me today but that’s because The Seven Deaths is unlike anything I have read before. This is such a brilliant tale, so intricate and devilish that I have to recommend it highly. Not only do we have the very likeable Aiden Bishop leaping from day to day and body to body we also have the evil Footman, lurking around every corner ready to slash Aiden’s throat (or rather, his host’s throat) as soon as look at him. I loved the tension the Footman brought to the story; he was also the bringer of gore (and I do love a bit of gore in my books!) which made him a firm favourite in my eyes.

Would I recommend this book? I would. Oh flipping heck, the pressure you have placed upon yourself Mr Turton with that tricky second novel. I think many of your readers will be waiting with baited breath to see what you pull out of the hat next time. What a bar you have set. What an incredible debut. Bravo!

Four and a half stars out of five.

Stuart Turton will be appearing at the April First Monday Crime on Monday 9th March 2018. Stuart will be appearing alongside John Connolly, Rachel Abbott, Leigh Russell and moderator Barry Forshaw, one of the UK’s leading experts on crime fiction and film. The event is FREE of charge and will be held at 6.30pm on Monday 9th April at City University, College Building, A130. Click HERE to book your FREE ticket or hop over to the First Monday Crime website for more information.

My thanks to Beth over at the fantastic Bibliobeth. My copy of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was part of the prize package I won to celebrate her fifth blogiversary. If you haven’t done so already then please check Beth’s blog out – I love it!

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was published in the UK by Raven Books | Bloomsbury Books on 8th February 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

stuart-turton-author-shot_2.jpg

Stuart is the author of a high-concept crime novel and lives in London with his amazing wife, and drinks lots of tea.

What else?

When he left university he went travelling for three months and stayed away for five years. Every time his parents asked when he’d be back he told them next week, and meant it.

Stuart is not to be trusted. In the nicest possible way.

He’s got a degree in English and Philosophy, which makes him excellent at arguing and terrible at choosing degrees. Having trained for no particular career, he has dabbled in most of them. He stocked shelves in a Darwin bookshop, taught English in Shanghai, worked for a technology magazine in London, wrote travel articles in Dubai, and now he’s a freelance journalist. None of this was planned, he just kept getting lost on his way to other places.

He likes a chat. He likes books. He likes people who write books and people who read books. He doesn’t know how to write a biography, so should probably stop before we start talking about his dreams or something. It was lovely to meet you, though.

Author Links: | Twitter |

Author image and bio © http://www.dhhliteraryagency.com/stuart-turton.html

#BlogTour | #BookReview: This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan (@eva_dolan) @BloomsburyRaven @BloomsburyBooks #ThisIsHowItEnds

this is how it ends.jpg

“There’s plenty of intrigue, sex, and drugs in this fast-paced mystery, set against a backdrop of gentrifying London.

Ella Riordan is a community activist who became famous when she was beaten by police during a social protest. Now Ella is a squatter in a building where the owners are evicting tenants so they can convert it into luxury condos, and she’s determined to stay and defend the few holdout tenants, despite death threats.

One night after a rooftop party with her fellow holdouts, Ella finds a horrible scene awaiting her in her apartment. In a panic, she calls her neighbor Molly, who convinces her that the police won’t believe she’s innocent. Together the two women concoct a gruesome plan to hide the body down the building’s elevator shaft.

But the secret won’t stay buried for long. As truth hangs in the balance, a neighbor tells Molly he had heard Ella arguing with a man in the hallway and mistrust grows between Ella and Molly, as repercussions of that night threaten to change both women’s lives forever.”

It is my pleasure to welcome you to my stop on the This Is How It Ends blog tour. This Is How It Ends is a standalone thriller written by established crime fiction author, Eva Dolan. I have to hang my head in shame and admit I am yet to read any of Dolan’s DI Zigic & DS Ferreira series but I have only ever heard positive things. And I was thrilled to host a guest review of Watch Her Disappear, the fourth book in the Zigic & Ferreira series last year (my thanks to Tracie Delaney for reading and reviewing).

This Is How It Ends is such a clever, well-constructed piece of fiction. I found myself completely absorbed in Ella and Molly’s dilemma. For me, my reading experience tends to be 80 to 90 percent about the people involved. The characters are what appeal to me and oh boy, Eva Dolan sure shows the rest of the literary world how to write real, believable people! Bit by bit, as the story progressed, Molly broke my heart. I felt an odd connection to this 60-year-old woman, a former Greenham Common activist, now a photographer, with her lashings of kohl and her Sex Pistols t-shirts. She’s probably about as far away from me as a person can get. But I got her. And I loved her.

Ella didn’t have the same beguiling effect on me. I felt throughout the book that the reader wasn’t being given enough information about Ella to make a decision. She was aloof, elusive and darn right mysterious. Not helped by the fact that the reader sees very little of the present day Ella in the story. Chapters alternate between Molly and Ella. Molly’s chapters are set in the present, after the discovery of a dead body and after our fearless females have flung him down the lift shaft. Ella’s chapters move backwards through time, showing the reader what happened in the lead up to the party. How Ella and Molly reached this significant point in their lives.

The story is strong, captivating and unexpected. I absolutely loved the setting, the dilapidated high rise block of flats due for demolition so something bigger, shinier and with lots more glass can be put in its place. Dolan paints a very vivid picture of the desolate, decaying surroundings Molly and the dwindling number of other residents find themselves in. The desire to stay and slow the progress of gentrification down, the need to remain in a home they’ve occupied since it was first built or the knowledge they have nowhere else to go, I found very moving. The rats, however, would have put me off years ago!

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s going to be huge. There is something about This Is How It Ends, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, which will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers.  I’ll give it a go though! It’s clever, the relationship between Molly and Ella is something quite spectacular and I loved how the story is pretty much all about the women with the few men playing a less significant role.  A great book and definitely recommended.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of This Is How It Ends. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

This Is How It Ends by Eva Dolan was published in the UK by Raven Books on 25th January 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback to follow later this year) | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

thisishowitends_tourtwitterasset_v3.jpg

about the author3

eva dolan

Eva Dolan was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger for unpublished authors when only a teenager. The four novels in her Zigic and Ferreira series have been published to widespread critical acclaim: Tell No Tales and After You Die were shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year Award and After You Die was also longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. She lives in Cambridge.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#BlogTour |#BookReview: The River at Night by Erica Ferencik (@EricaFerencik) @BloomsburyRaven

51zhxjr-0ml-_sx323_bo1204203200_“Win Allen doesn’t want an adventure.

After a miserable divorce and the death of her beloved brother, she just wants to spend some time with her three best friends, far away from her soul-crushing job. But athletic, energetic Pia has other plans.

Plans for an adrenaline-raising, breath-taking, white-water rafting trip in the Maine wilderness. Five thousand square miles of remote countryside. Just mountains, rivers and fresh air.

No phone coverage. No people.

No help.”

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you to my stop on Erica Ferencik’s The River at Night blog tour.  When I was asked to join the blog tour for this book I just couldn’t say no.  I’m a bit of a sucker for disaster/survival novels and although the plot of The River at Night involves a much smaller cast of characters and it’s really more of a thriller novel than anything else, I couldn’t help but be drawn to it for the same reason I love disaster novels.  A group of normal everyday people suddenly, unexpectedly, being thrown (normally thanks to human error, science or Mother Nature) into the worst kind of situation and seeing if they survive.  Nail biting stuff which is exactly what The River at Night proved to be!

Four friends who don’t see each other enough regularly meet up once a year and go on holiday/vacation together.  The holiday tends to be chosen by Pia who is outdoorsy and adventurous.  Unfortunately for the other three friends, they are neither outdoorsy nor adventurous!  This year Pia has decided to go white water rafting.  (I should say at this point that I am not outdoorsy or adventurous but I’ve always fancied having a go at white water rafting….until I read this book!)  Win Allen and her three friends, Pia, Rachel and Sandra all head out to the Maine wilderness, their backpacks stuffed to the gills with new rafting equipment and chocolate.  Each woman is very different to her friends.  They all have different life experiences and are at different stages of their lives.  But what they all need more than anything else is to spend some quality time together.  The journey starts well as they meet their guide, Rory and he settles them in their base camp for the night.  But before long hostility spikes the air and tempers begin to fray.  Pitted against the Maine rapids, Mother Nature and maybe even each other…will they survive their holiday of a lifetime?

What I absolutely loved about this book is that underneath the action and the adventure, what you actually have is a beautifully written character study of four strong, independent woman and their straining friendship.  The arguments and the tension of so many years come crashing back from the past, old grudges and past upsets are reignited in the worst possible scenario and we get to see who these characters really are.  I loved that the strong, at times, became weak and the weak became strong.  Out of the four female characters Win Allen won my heart through and through.  I saw myself in her more than the others (with maybe a little bit of Sandra in there too).  I found it harder to warm to Rachel and Pia but they are the stronger, more assertive and forthright women of the group.

The plot moved at a steady yet intriguing pace.  I didn’t find this book to be a ‘thrill a minute’ read so if you’re looking for something that will keep your heart pounding and put you on the edge of your seat, you may want to look elsewhere. I found myself happily settling into a steady rhythm when bam, something unexpected happened. Ferencik shows a real skill at lulling you into a false sense of security and then shocking you right back out again.  I enjoyed the author’s intricately descriptive style when narrating the Maine wilderness and the angry, boiling rapids.  But at times, I wanted a little less scene setting and a little more of the fascinating characters and their dialogue.  Saying that, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would, particularly if you like your reads with well written, detailed characters.  It has exciting moments but the story is more about the four friends and their ability to cope in this unusual situation putting their friendship to the ultimate test.  There are creepy parts and there is a small amount of animal slaughter which I know many people find hard to stomach, even when fictionalised.  Compelling, heartfelt writing and I can’t wait to read more from Erica Ferencik.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The River at Night.  Many thanks to Joe Thomas at Bloomsbury Raven for providing me with a copy.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik was published in the UK by Bloomsbury Raven on 12th January 2017 and is available in hardback, eBook and audio formats (with the paperback being released later this year) | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Goodreads |

unnamed-1

Smith & Sons (11)

erica-ferencik-headshotErica Ferencik is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Boston University. Her work has appeared in Salon and The Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio.

Author Links:Website | Twitter |