#BookReview: The Rosary Garden by Nicola White @ViperBooks #TheRosaryGarden #damppebbles

“It was Ali who found the body of a murdered newborn baby, hidden in the garden of her convent school. In an Ireland riven by battles of religion and reproduction, the case becomes a media sensation, even as the church tries to suppress it. But this is not the first dead baby Ali has found.

For Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine, the pressure to discover the identity of the dead child is little help against a community with secrets to protect. Gina knows all too well how many of Ireland’s girls are forced to make difficult decisions in terrible circumstances, silenced by shame. Is Ali one of those girls? Because what evidence there is, points to Ali herself…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of The Rosary Garden by Nicola White. The Rosary Garden was published by Viper Books on Thursday 21st January 2021 and is available in paperback and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free ARC of The Rosary Garden. My grateful thanks to Viper Books for sending me an early copy of the book.

Nicola White first came to my attention when the first book in her Vincent Swan series – A Famished Heart – was chosen as a #R3COMM3ND3D2020 pick by author Rachel Sargeant. I said then how much that first book appealed to me. So when the opportunity to read this second Vincent Swan Mystery – set in Ireland in the 1980s – arose, I grabbed it with both hands.

Teenage Ali and her friend, Fitz, make a shocking discovery in the garden shed at their convent school. The body of a newborn baby. Detective Vincent Swan of the Murder Squad is called to investigate the grisly scene but because of Ireland’s turbulent history between religion and a woman’s rights, the case becomes an instant media storm. Particularly when it’s discovered that this isn’t the first dead baby Ali has discovered. The nuns are quick to absolve themselves of any blame. Swan struggles to find a link between his suspects and the child. Nothing seems to make any sense and the investigation falters. But someone is hiding a very dark secret. Someone knows what happened to the baby…

The Rosary Garden is a dark, beautifully written, emotional story which kept me turning the pages. It works perfectly well as a standalone. I haven’t read the first book in the series but I didn’t feel I was missing out. I will be rectifying that though and reading A Famished Heart as soon as I can. The author has skilfully managed to bring her reader into the lives of these characters to the point where they felt so very real to me. I watched as Vincent Swan struggled to find a link to the baby, as Ali was caught up in the media frenzy, wrung out by the press who claimed their pound of flesh and then left on her own to pick up the pieces. The way Ali was treated at times was appalling but sadly I feel this is how life was for young women in Ireland (and elsewhere) in the 1980s.

The subject matter isn’t something everyone is going to be comfortable with. The heart-breaking scenes the author paints are made to make the reader think about life for a young unmarried woman in Ireland in the 1980s and she does it with aplomb. If you’re looking for a book to make you feel something, The Rosary Garden is definitely it. The mystery aspect of the book flows steadily from the very beginning and I instantly liked Detective Vincent Swan, who is having his own issues at home, as well as investigating a very emotional and prominent case. The story builds gradually layer by layer and I was on the edge of my seat as the story edged ever closer to the end. And what an ending! It was a perfect fit and very satisfying.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. The Rosary Garden is a very compelling and beautifully written heart-felt mystery which I devoured quicker than most other reads of late. There was something quite addictive about the characters and their story. You’re never really quite sure who to trust and I really enjoyed that. I would happily pick up another book by this author and I look forward to reading A Famished Heart soon. Recommended.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Rosary Garden. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Rosary Garden by Nicola White was published in the UK by Viper Books on 21st January 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 | damppebbles Bookshop.org Shop |

Nicola White won the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award in 2008 and in 2012 was Leverhulme Writer in Residence at Edinburgh University. The Rosary Garden won the Dundee International Book Prize, was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, and selected as one of the four best debuts by Val McDermid at Harrogate. She grew up in Dublin and New York, and now lives in the Scottish Highlands.

#BookReview: Bitter Sun by Beth Lewis @BoroughPress #BitterSun #damppebbles

It all started when we found the body.
Then nothing was ever the same.

The Dry meets Stand by Me and True Detective in this stunningly written tale of the darkness at the heart of a small mid-Western town and the four kids who uncover it.

In the heatwave summer of 1971, four kids find a body by a lake and set out to solve a murder. But they dig too deep and ask too many questions.

Larson is a town reeling in the wake of the Vietnam draft, where the unrelenting heat ruins the harvest, and the people teeter on the edge of ruin.

As tension and paranoia run rife, rumours become fact, violence becomes reflex. The unrest allows the dark elements of the close-knit farming community to rise and take control.

And John, Jenny, Gloria and Rudy are about to discover that sometimes secrets are best left uncovered…”

Hello my bookish friends and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of the beautifully written Bitter Sun by Beth Lewis with you. Bitter Sun was published by Borough Press on 7th March 2019 and is available in all formats.

I saw Bitter Sun mentioned on a number of blogs last year and my FOMO well and truly kicked in. I really can’t help myself when it comes to literary crime fiction at the moment and as soon as I clapped eyes on this book, I knew I had to read it. And oh my goodness, I’m so glad I did. Heartbreaking and emotive, this is a wonderfully consuming piece of fiction which I lost myself in.

A group of young teenage friends make a harrowing discovery one day whilst wasting time down by the lake. The body of a young woman. Their discovery is both horrifying and fascinating. They’re repulsed but drawn to the corpse. No one seems to particularly care who the victim is or why she was killed. So the friends take it upon themselves to find out. From the point of their shocking discovery and for the rest of their lives, life will never be the same for John, Jenny, Gloria and Rudy…

Set in a small, claustrophobic mid-Western town in the early 1970s, Bitter Sun is an all-consuming novel about family, friendship and the cruel hand fate can deal you, among other things. This is a powerful, character-driven coming-of-age novel which, in parts, broke me. Our lead character is John Royal. At the ripe old age of 13, John holds sole responsibility for the family farm (unless you count the endless ‘pigeon pa’s’ who fly in, sh!t all over the place and then fly out again!) and is determined to return it to its former glory. His mother is a man-hungry drunk who has all the time in the world for her son but a confusing, turbulent, sometimes hateful relationship with John’s younger sister, Jenny. It makes for uncomfortable reading at times but the author shows the reader exactly how things stand between these two characters. Poor John, who adores both his mother and his sister, is very much stuck in the middle of this warzone.

The day the kids discover the body is the day everything changes. John sees a new side to his sister. She reacts strangely to the discovery and he struggles to understand what is going on. The friends, as one would expect from a group of 13-year-olds in this situation, make the wrong decision – making a bad situation ten times worse. From here, the intricate unravelling of these four lives begins. We see life in Larson over several skin-blistering Summers. Each year brings more change, more bad news, more revelations. My heart ached for John. The author has done an exceptional job in writing this character. I wanted to look after him, protect him from more hurt and shield him from more bad news.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Bitter Sun is an engrossing tale which really got under my skin. Heartbreaking at times and chock full of emotion, it was exactly the right book at the right time for me. If you’re a reader who thinks characters are key then get yourself a copy of this beautifully written novel. I can promise you, you won’t regret it. Completely immersive, unforgettable and utterly mesmerising. Recommended.

Bitter Sun by Beth Lewis was published in the UK by The Borough Press on 7th March 2019 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |


Beth Lewis was raised in the wilds of Cornwall and split her childhood between books and the beach. She has travelled extensively and has had close encounters with black bears, killer whales, and Great White sharks. She has been, at turns, a bank cashier, fire performer, juggler, and is currently a Commissioning Editor at a leading London publisher. Her debut novel, The Wolf Road, was shortlisted for the inaugural Glass Bell Award. Bitter Sun is her second novel.

#BookReview: The Last by Hanna Jameson #TheLast #damppebbles

the last“THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT HAS ENDED

You and nineteen other survivors hole up in an isolated Swiss hotel.

You wait, you survive.

Then you find the body.

One of your number has blood on their hands.

The race is on to find the killer…BEFORE THE KILLER FINDS YOU.”

Hello and a very warm welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of The Last by Hanna Jameson with you. The Last was published by Penguin Books on 1st August 2019 and is available in all formats. I received a free ARC of The Last but that has in no way influenced my review.

I do love me a post-apocalyptic thriller! But I know what I like and conversely, what I don’t like. I read a book earlier this year which claimed to be a dystopian thriller. It was a whole lot of thriller and not a lot of dystopian. I wanted to find out how the characters coped with their ‘new normal’. I wanted to see conflict, fear and adjustment to the setting and the new ways of life. So I was a little apprehensive starting The Last. Would this book be much of the same? I’m delighted to confirm that The Last is far superior to the book I read earlier this year as Jameson puts her characters, their experience and their adjustment to the new ways, front and centre.

Historian Jon Keller is at a conference in a Swiss hotel when the bombs hit. It’s everyone’s worst nightmare come terrifyingly true. The nuclear bombs wipe out large proportions of the US, where Jon calls home, along with a large proportion of Europe. Thankfully Switzerland seems largely unaffected but who knows what kind of state the world is outside the hotel doors. The original number staying at the hotel has dwindled leaving twenty guests to come to terms with what has happened to them and forge a new life within the walls of L’Hotel Sixième. Roles have been redefined, the work is tough and everyone has to adjust to the new way of living. While investigating a problem with the water supply, Jon discovers a body in the water tank. The stark truth of the matter becomes worryingly clear. Within this small community, where they’ve come to depend on each other so much, one of them is a killer….

Now I know I referred to The Last as a post-apocalyptic thriller earlier in this review but it’s not really a thriller. It’s a well-written, slow build character study of people put in the worst scenario imaginable. The reader gets to watch as they struggle to survive, let alone cope with their new world from the comfort of their armchair. But, it’s a little too close to the knuckle in some respects and feels plausibly real. The mystery aspect of the story isn’t really the main crux of the book either but it’s an interesting storyline which gives Jon something to obsess over. And obsess over it he does. The mystery into who killed the girl almost completely consumes him.

I found Jameson’s characters really interesting to read about. Although I struggled to like any of them. But I’m not sure that’s necessarily what the author wants her readers to feel anyway. They’re all individuals coping the best way they can. Yes, they’re selfish, suspicious and on edge but that just added to my enjoyment of the book. The claustrophobic feel of the situation was absolutely marvellous and I thoroughly enjoyed the group’s plight (turns out I’m a horrible person taking enjoyment in others misfortune, good job they’re fictional characters really!).

The ending of this book threw me a little. I was expecting something big and bold but I didn’t get it. I felt the ending let the book down a little. The reader travels so far with these characters, you get to know them even if you don’t like them, and then…well – I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil the book for other readers but I was a little disappointed.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. If you like your novels character-driven then absolutely, The Last is a book you should read. I enjoyed the post-apocalyptic elements. I wanted them to go out exploring what was left of Switzerland and they did exactly that, with trepidation and caution. Some of their encounters were nail-biting and I loved the unease and tension in these sections away from the hotel. As I said previously, there was just enough of this strange new world to satisfy me. All in all, an intriguing premise that hooked me from the start. Recommended.

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

The Last by Hanna Jameson was published in the UK by Penguin Books on 1st August 2019 and is available in hardcover, paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

Hanna Jameson’s fourth novel, part murder mystery and part post-apocalyptic thriller – THE LAST – is out now with Viking in the UK and Simon & Schuster-Atria Books in the US. The Last is the story of an American academic searching for the truth about a girl who has been murdered in his Swiss hotel in the aftermath of a nuclear war that has destroyed most of the Western world.

Jameson had written the first draft of her debut, award-nominated novel – SOMETHING YOU ARE – at just seventeen. Something You Are and two further novels in the series – GIRL SEVEN and ROAD KILL – are available now in the UK, Germany, Japan, and the Netherlands.

She lives in London currently, working on screenwriting projects. She likes whiskey, history, and emotionally taxing TV shows.

#BookReview: The Curator by M.W. Craven @LittleBrownUK @TheCrimeVault #TheCurator #WashingtonPoe #damppebbles

the curator“It’s Christmas and a serial killer is leaving displayed body parts all over Cumbria. A strange message is left at each scene: #BSC6

Called in to investigate, the National Crime Agency’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw are faced with a case that makes no sense. Why were some victims anaesthetized, while others died in appalling agony? Why is their only suspect denying what they can irrefutably prove but admitting to things they weren’t even aware of? And why did the victims all take the same two weeks off work three years earlier?

And when a disgraced FBI agent gets in touch things take an even darker turn. Because she doesn’t think Poe is dealing with a serial killer at all; she thinks he’s dealing with someone far, far worse – a man who calls himself the Curator.

And nothing will ever be the same again . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be sharing my review of one of my most eagerly anticipated books of the year with you, The Curator by M.W. Craven. The Curator is the third book in Craven’s superbly good Washington Poe series (or, as everyone seems to refer to the series, Tilly and Poe) and is published in hardcover, audio and digital formats today (4th June 2020) by Constable. I received a free eARC of The Curator but that has in no way influenced my review.

I’ve been waiting a whole year (and a bit) for The Curator to arrive on my kindle. And what’s the first thing I do when it does? I simper a little because I finally have a copy – the wait is over! – and then I try to pretend it’s not there. Crazy, right? I was so keen to read this book but at the same time, I was really, really nervous. What if I didn’t enjoy it? What if I rushed in and didn’t savour it (it’s a flipping long wait ’til the next one, that’s for sure!)? And that, I think, is the sign of an incredibly talented author who has built the beginnings of a series into something that, for the reader, is extra special. Reading The Curator, for me, was an event. Something to look forward to. Something to anticipate and savour every minute of. Something to remember. And I loved it. Craven can do no wrong in my eyes.

DS Washington Poe, Tilly Bradshaw and a heavily pregnant DI Stephanie Flynn of the National Crime Agency are called back to Cumbria to investigate a perplexing case. Severed fingers. What appears to be three pairs from three individuals, left over the Christmas period in the most surprising of places. On further investigation it’s confirmed that one finger in the pair was removed antemortem, the other finger was removed postmortem. But that’s only a tiny piece of the puzzle. The female victims were drugged, the male victim wasn’t. And a note was left with each set of fingers with the hashtag #BSC6. The team – even with Tilly’s immense intelligence and analytical brain – are initially baffled. But then through a little supposition and a lot of analysis, a suspect emerges. But what the suspect tells them turns everything upside down. This isn’t any run of the mill serial killer, this is the Curator…

Another absolutely cracking novel from the crime fiction mastermind that is M.W. Craven. I loved this book and savoured every darn second I had with it. I could have easily read this book in a couple of sittings but I slowed down to ensure I enjoyed every twist and turn. Craven appears to be one of those crime writers who doesn’t shy away from digging the depths of the internet to find strange and unusual ideas for his novels, which he then twists and shapes into crime fiction gold. The Curator is solid proof of that. An intriguing and intricate setup, followed by an edge of your seat hunt for the bad guy, culminating in a devilishly dark twist that you won’t see coming.

Even when I had my suspicions about who the killer was, there was another unexpected gut punch just waiting around the corner. Such a clever well-written book that hooks you in from the get-go and doesn’t let go until the shocking finale.

Tilly and Poe are wonderful creations who have been firm favourites of mine since the very first book. I’ve loved watching their friendship and working relationship grow over the last couple of years. The chemistry and the bond they have, makes for compelling reading. The humour and the wit the author includes in the story adds a few lighter moments to what is a brilliantly dark and twisty story. Expertly paced, skilfully written and all in a setting to die for (literally!).

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, categorically, YES! If you’re a crime fiction fan and you haven’t met Tilly and Poe yet, then that has to change. The Curator can easily be read as a standalone but if you’ve not read any of the books before, why not treat yourself to the entire series?! Be whisked away to deepest, darkest Cumbria and meet two totally unforgettable characters who you will grow to love and admire. I loved this book and I’m counting down the days until Dead Ground is published next year. Another stunning novel from an accomplished writer and I’m really excited to see what the future holds (let’s hope it’s a lot more Tilly and Poe!).

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

The Curator by M.W. Craven was published in the UK by Constable on 4th June 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

16473225_743395339158440_999373164873613480_n (1)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.

20 Books of Summer Challenge #20booksofsummer20 #amreading #amreviewing #damppebbles #bookblogger

“Call me a glutton for punishment but after my complete failure to get anywhere near completing Cathy’s #20BooksofSummer challenge (check out her BRILLIANT blog at 746 Books) last year I’m going to take the plunge and try again this Summer.”

That’s how I started my last #20BooksofSummer post in May 2019. Seems only fitting that I start this year with the same bewildered, naive, unjustified belief in myself 😂. In 2018 I failed to read twenty books so I sensibly cut it down to fifteen for the following year. I failed that too. So, continuing the sensible approach I took last year, I should cut it down further to ten for 2020, right? Heck no. Where’s the fun in that?! This year, the year of the quarantine, I’m going for the big one again – twenty books in three months. Twenty books in THREE months. I’m hoping the more I say it, the less scary it will sound. TWENTY books in three months. Nope, still scary. 🤣

Our lovely host as always is the fabulous Cathy. If you would like to take part yourself then you’re very welcome to join in – the more, the merrier. More information about #20BooksofSummer can be found HERE and if you decide to take the plunge, add your sign up list to this post.

This year my list is basically 75% of my NetGalley shelf plus two other books I need to read for July and August. One is a blog tour read, the other was sent to me by the publisher. In theory, if I read the eighteen books on my NetGalley shelf, then I only have six NG books left to read – hurrah! It’s taken me so, so, SO long to reduce my shelf that I feel a lot more determined than I normally do. I’m ready to kick NG butt! Here are my beautiful books…

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Halfway by B.E. Jones
The Proposal by S.E. Lynes
The Killer You Know by S.R. Masters

The Betrayals by Fiona Neill
Written in Bones by James Oswald
The Hunted by Gabriel Bergmoser
Her Husband’s Lover by Julia Crouch
Tattletale by Sarah Naughton

Midtown Huckster by Leopold Borstinski
Blood Lines by Angela Marsons
Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan
Her Last Breath by Alison Belsham
The Secret by Katerina Diamond

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia
The Guest House by Abbie Frost
The Home by Mats Strandberg
The Search Party by Simon Lelic
The Shadow Friend by Alex North

Gorgeous aren’t they? Have you read any of them? Which ones did you love? Are you taking part in the challenge this year? I’d love to see your books so please feel free to leave a link to your challenge post in the comments!

Wish me luck. I think I’m going to need it. I’m going to try and write a #20booksofsummer20 update post at the end of each month to keep track of how I’m doing. Wish me luck for that too, I’m not the best at monthly posts. If you would like evidence, please search for #CaseClosed on the blog 😬

If you would like to join in with the challenge too then there’s still plenty of time as we don’t kick off until 1st June. Go on, give it a try. How hard can it be, right…? 😉

Wish me luck (really, I’m begging you!) and I’ll see you on the other side!

20-books

#BookReview: The Guest List by Lucy Foley @fictionpubteam @harpercollinsuk #TheGuestList #damppebbles

the guest list“On an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.

Old friends.
Past grudges.

Happy families.
Hidden jealousies.

Thirteen guests.
One body.

The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.

All have a secret. All have a motive.
One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. I am delighted to be sharing my review of the astonishingly good The Guest List with you today. The Guest List was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 20th February 2020 and is available in hardcover, digital and audio formats with the paperback to follow in September. I received a free eARC of The Guest List but that has in no way influenced my review.

I was a huge fan of Foley’s The Hunting Party when it was released last year. So much so, it made it onto my top ten (ish) books of 2019! So I was really looking forward to getting stuck into this latest release. It did not disappoint one jot! I loved The Guest List. Before I started reading, I was struggling with my reading mojo. Its bags were packed and were sat by the front door. It was determined to leave. Then I picked up this book, absolutely fell in love with it and my reading mojo has been content ever since. The magical healing power of Lucy Foley’s words and characters!

I was a little surprised to find that The Guest List is in a very similar format to The Hunting Party. A group of people gather in a remote location. All of the characters have secrets of their own and a motive for committing a murder. You know someone is going to die — but you don’t know who the victim is until near the end of the book, nor whodunit! Honestly though, who cares?! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – I was always told.

Jules Keegan and Will Slater are getting married, and it’s going to be the showbiz wedding of the year. The venue is a crumbling Folly on a remote island off the Irish coast, but wedding planner, Aoife, has everything under control. This is her first big gig and she’s hoping the glitz and the glam of the occasion will bring in lots of future business. But despite the smiling faces on the outside, bitter rivalries and jealous feuds burn deep within the hearts of the guests. This will be the wedding of the year, but for all of the wrong reasons. Spirits are high, the alcohol flows and murderous revenge is planned…

This is a wonderfully entertaining book which I absolutely devoured. I loved it and it got a special mention on my top ten (ish) books of 2019 for being so utterly brilliant. I love a good mystery and this is a truly excellent one. The story is told from several points of view. Each chapter revealing a little more of why it’s narrator could indeed be a murderer. Once again, the identity of the victim is not revealed until the end of the book and it worked so well, keeping me on the edge of my seat! Between you and I, there were a number of dastardly characters I was hoping it would be!

Foley really uses her setting to optimum effect creating an eerie and atmospheric stage for her characters. The setting is as much a part of the story as the characters are, with the swirling winds, the desolate beaches, the raging storms and the cries of the cormorants circling overhead. It’s not hard to imagine the isolation and the solitude the characters on the island feel. Particularly when things start to go badly wrong.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s wonderful and such an entertaining read. The ending is very satisfying (much like the entire book really) and if it hadn’t already featured on my top books of 2019 list then it would be a strong contender for this year’s selection (maybe it still will feature – it was published this year, after all!). Foley is a very talented writer, this is such a brilliant book and I highly recommend you check this one out.

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

The Guest List by Lucy Foley was published in the UK by HarperCollins on 20th February 2020 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

lucy folyLucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.

Author Links:FacebookTwitter | Instagram |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker @ZaffreBooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #WeBeginattheEnd #damppebbles

We Begin at the End.jpg“‘YOU CAN’T SAVE SOMEONE THAT DOESN’T WANT TO BE SAVED . . .’

Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.

Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.

Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.

Murder, revenge, retribution.

How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?”

The warmest of welcomes to the blog today and to my stop on the We Begin at the End blog tour. We Begin at the End is the highly anticipated new release from Chris Whitaker and was published by Zaffre Books in hardcover on 2nd April. The paperback is set to follow in October. I received a free eARC of We Begin at the End but that has in no way influenced my review.

We Begin at the End is the most beautiful, captivating and exquisite book I have ever read. My heart broke. I cried big, ugly, snotty tears and I was left wanting to relive the whole experience, from beginning to end, again. This is a stunning piece of fiction and if you don’t read it for yourself then you’ll never know exactly how astonishing it is. Hell, if this book doesn’t make it to the top of my best books of 2020 then we have been blessed with some truly incredible books this year.

The outlaw, Duchess Day Radley. The most perfect character to grace crime fiction. At only 13 years of age she has the guts and the intelligence to do things most adults wouldn’t dream of. But she’s also a 13 year old hot-headed kid who makes some pretty catastrophic mistakes. I adored her. I finished We Begin at the End a few weeks ago now but Duchess remains with me still. Her mother, Star, repeatedly tries and fails to be a good mom to her two kids. Which means Duchess has to step up and take charge. It’s heart-breaking stuff, hence the big, fat, ugly tears. Duchess’s relationship with her younger brother, Robin, was so touching, so beautiful. She’s his protector, she looks out for him because their mother can’t and does such an admirable job that every scene involving the pair of them tugged at my heart strings. When a caring, responsible adult eventually enters their lives in the form of their grandfather, it’s an absolute joy to watch six-year-old Robin blossom. Duchess’s wariness and her slow thaw towards grandfather Hal just made me admire her even more. But some people just aren’t destined to find happiness and history has an unfortunate knack of repeating itself…

Before I go any further with this review I must mention Chief Walker, or Walk as he’s known to the locals. Tragedy struck Cape Haven 30 years ago when Sissy Radley, sister to Star, was killed. Walk, who even then had aspirations to become the local police chief, was part of the search party. Walk’s best friend, Vincent King, was accused of Sissy’s murder. But Walk never gave up on Vincent and now, thirty years later, Vincent is due to be released from jail. And I think that tells you everything you need to know about Walk. Another beautifully drawn character who leaps from the pages of the book and into the reader’s mind. When tragedy hits Cape Haven for a second time, Walk is pushed to the sidelines of the investigation. Before long, he decides that if the truth is to be found, then he’s the man to uncover it. Such compelling reading and I lived every. single. moment.

Would I recommend this book? This book is perfection. I will be driving people crazy recommending We Begin at the End to them. It ticks so many boxes for me; set in small town America – tick, full of the most enchanting and interesting characters – tick, a devilish mystery at it’s heart – tick, leaves me with the biggest emotional bookish hangover – tick. This book is a masterpiece and if you only buy one book this year based on my reviews then please, PLEASE make it this one. I really wish I had the words to convey what a stunning book this is. Absolutely outstanding.

I chose to read and review an eARC of We Begin at the End. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker was published in the UK by Zaffre Books on 2nd April 2020 and is available in hardcover, digital and audio formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | WaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

Chris Whitaker

about-the-author3

chris whitakerChris Whitaker was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. His debut novel, Tall Oaks, won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Chris’s second novel, All The Wicked Girls, was published in August 2017. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons.

Author Links: | Twitter |

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger Zoé O’Farrell (@zooloo2008) #ZooloosBookDiary

A very good morning to you all.  I hope your Monday is looking to be a good one and the week ahead full of wonderful bookish delights.  A very warm welcome to today’s #R3COMM3ND3D2018 post.  I am delighted to welcome the fabulous Zoé O’Farrell of the brilliant Zooloo’s Book Diary to the blog today.  I haven’t been following Zoé’s blog all that long really but it has fast become one of my favourites.

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 is a chance for book bloggers, authors and those who work in publishing to share the book love.  Are there three books which immediately spring to mind?  Three books you think everyone else MUST READ?  That’s what #R3COMM3ND3D2018 is all about…providing the three books you choose were published this year in 2018!

Here are Zoé’s choices…

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The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech
OMG why wouldn’t I recommend this book? Anyone who has read the review I wrote would see I was just in tears throughout.  In fact, I do not even know if my review makes sense, I just cried when I wrote it. It is such a beautiful love story, I am really protective over Ben and Andrew, they are my happy place for sure.
http://zooloosbookdiary.co.uk/bookreview-of-the-lion-tamer-who-lost-by-louise-beech-louisewriter-orendabooks-teamorenda-liontamerwholost

medium wave

Medium Wave by Rose Zolock (Becky Moran #1)
This is the first blog tour I ever took in so it will always have a special place in my heart. It was a supernaturally one and I was hooked by this book, I even got to chat the author a little on Twitter about it! This book gave me the biggest shivers and goosebumps…still just thinking about it! I can’t wait for the second book in this series!
http://zooloosbookdiary.co.uk/bookreview-of-medium-wave-by-rose-zolock-rosezolock-rararesources

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Do No Harm by L.V. Hay
This was a toss-up between two books that have given me book hangovers..and I highly recommend both can I name the other one?! [Sorry Zoé, only three!].  Anyway, this book gave me such a hangover it chilled me to the core! I actually wanted to cancel my weekend plans just to keep reading this (I didn’t but it was close!) This book is just unbelievable so many red herrings and when you get to the end….well jaw stayed on the floor for a few days! OMG left my mouth quite a lot.
http://zooloosbookdiary.co.uk/bookreview-of-do-no-harm-by-lv-hay

Great choices, thanks Zoé.  I loved seeing the reactions to The Lion Tamer Who Lost, there was so much love!  Do No Harm is on the TBR and I’m really looking forward to reading it as I thoroughly enjoyed The Other Twin by L.V. Hay.

If Zoé has managed to tempt you with her recommendations, or if you would like to find out more, then please see the following links:

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech | Medium Wave by Rose Zolock | Do No Harm by L.V. Hay |

About Zoé:
Well, I am human and I go by the name of  Zoé (Zooloo being the nickname), a mother to a gorgeous little spitfire who is 4 years old and she definitely keeps me on my feet!

I am a wife to a soldier and have had to move around with him, but in his current posting we have found home surrounded by the White Cliffs of Dover and I have a cat which I am slightly obsessed with.

I could list the “normal” interests that everyone has like ‘listening to music’, ‘watching sports’, ‘watching TV and movies’ or ‘socialising with my friends’ but in truth, these are my interests outside of reading. I am OBSESSED with TV and movies, in another life, I would be a movie critic. I LOVE music, and I do love a good gig (I could bore you more!). I am an AVID sports watcher, football season ticket holder for Watford FC (promise they are real), and probably more boring watching the cricket. Finally, I do love socialising with my friends which is how my blog started…..I think they got bored with me talking about books…or generally talking!

Zoé’s Social Media Links:
Zooloo’s Book Diary | Twitter @zooloo2008 | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads |

#R3COMM3ND3D is full for this year so I’m sorry to say I’m not taking any more submissions.  Fret not though, #R3COMM3ND3D will return next year in the guise of #R3COMM3ND3D2019.  But until then we have lots more book recommendations to come.  If your TBR ends up touching the ceiling then don’t say I didn’t warn you…

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger Yvonne Bastian (@yvonnembee) #MeandMyBooks

It’s Sunday, it’s the 18th November and it’s another fabulous #R3COMM3ND3D2018 post!  I hope your Sunday is going well so far.  For those in the UK it won’t really have had a chance to get going yet as this post is scheduled for 7.30am and we’ll all hopefully still be in the land of nod (unless you have young children of course, then you will have been up for hours!).

I am delighted to welcome a fabulous blogger (another favourite!) to damppebbles today to share their #R3COMM3ND3D2018 picks, Yvonne Bastian of Me and My Books.  If you haven’t checked out Yvonne’s blog then you must!  I always enjoy reading her reviews.

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 is a chance for book bloggers, authors and those who work in publishing to shout about three books they love.  There’s a catch though, the books must have been published this year in 2018.  That’s the only rule.  All three books must be 2018 titles.

Here are Yvonne’s choices…

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Sunset Over The Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas
This book definitely transported me. It took me to the rural setting of Spain as I followed the main character through her journey. This book had a fantastic story line, an atmospheric and picturesque setting, some great local details and I just fell in love with the characters, the story, the setting and the …well everything.
https://vonnibee.com/2018/08/28/sunset-over-the-cherry-orchard-by-jo-thomas-jo_thomas01-bookreview/

the craftsman

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton
If there was a book that made me feel claustrophobic then this is it. Not only does it have a local history aspect that has been brilliantly woven into the story, it has the most wonderful descriptions that had me on the edge of my seat. The story is one that comes full circle as details are filled in about the characters. A spine tingler and skin crawling book that I loved.
https://vonnibee.com/2018/08/03/the-charftsman-by-sharon-bolton-bookreview/

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Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearce
This was such a great book to read as I followed Emmy on her journey to become a Lady War Correspondent only to discover that the job was not quite what she expected. There were some great fun moments in this story set during World War II. I liked the way the author mixed the good and the bad to create a story that had me hooked as well as sniggering, crying and grinning as I turned the pages.
https://vonnibee.com/2018/04/01/bookreview-dear-mrs-bird-by-aj-pearce-ajpearcewrites-panmacmillan-netgalley/

Great choices, thanks Yvonne.  This is the second mention for the brilliant The Craftsman which is now joint first with Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon, The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven and Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh.  All four books have two votes each.  Will one of these titles be crowned the winner of #R3COMM3ND3D2018?  We’ll have to wait and see…

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

Sunset Over The Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas | The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton | Dear Mrs Bird by A.J. Pearce |

About Yvonne:
I’m Yvonne and I have a mountain of a problem…its called my TBR but thankfully I know I’m not alone. I live in Cornwall and I am a avid book reader, reviewer and Book Blogger. I love reading a whole range of different genres that cover a multitude of different subjects. I like a book that will transport me, that will show me new and interesting things, that will scare the pants off me, that will have me laughing and or crying, that will have me on the edge of my seat and inspire me, that will challenge my thoughts, that will leave me wanting to read more by the author. Choosing just three books is a hard thing to do, actually choosing three out of most things in life is hard, but only three books!! Yes I am a book reader and I love being a book reader 🙂 [Sorry Yvonne, you’re not the first to say so, lol]

Yvonne’s Social Media Links:
Me and My Books | Twitter @yvonnembee | Facebook |

#R3COMM3ND3D for this year is full! There are still lots of wonderful book recommendations to come though, between now and the end of the year.  So make sure you pop back tomorrow for more bookish delights!

#R3COMM3ND3D2018 with #BookBlogger Donna Maguire (@dmmaguire391) #donnasbookblog

Hurrah for the weekend! Welcome to today’s #R3COMM3ND3D2018.  Joining me today is another of my favourite bloggers (it’s true, I do love book bloggers!) the very lovely Donna Maguire of donnasbookblog. If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking Donna’s blog out then you must. She reads so many books that there are always a number of new reviews every day. I don’t know how Donna does it but I would love some lessons!

If you’re new to this feature then let me explain.  #R3COMM3ND3D2018 is where I invite bookish folk to share three titles they think the rest of us should make a point of reading.  It doesn’t have to be your three absolute favourite books, just three that you love so much you have to recommend them.  The only stipulation being the three books you choose must have been published after 1st January 2018.  They all have to be 2018 publications.

So without further ado, here’s what Donna has chosen…

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The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven (Washington Poe #1)
It was an amazing book to read!!
https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/my-bookreview-of-the-puppet-show-by-m-w-craven-thepuppetshow-mwcravenuk-littlebrownuk/

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Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
It is a dark, twisted, gritty and a thrilling read – and I loved it!!
https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/my-bookreview-for-jar-of-hearts-by-jennifer-hillier-jarofhearts%e2%80%8b-jenniferhillier-minotaurbooks/

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Th1rt3en by Steve Cavanagh (Eddie Flynn #4)
It has a brilliant hook and it completely lived up to all the hype for me!
https://donnasbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/06/blogtour-review-of-th1rt3en-by-steve-cavanagh/

Fantastic choices, Donna. I ADORE The Puppet Show and it will most definitely feature on my books of the year list.  I have Th1rt3en on my TBR and I’m really looking forward to reading it, and I’ve added Jar of Hearts to my wishlist!

If Donna has managed to tempt you or if you would like to find out more about the titles she recommends then please see the following links:

The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven | Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier | Th1rt3en by Steve Cavanagh |

About Donna:
I’m Donna and I blog over at donnasbookblog. I have been blogging for 3 years now taking part initially in the odd blog tour and sharing my reviews, I went on maternity leave in May 2017 before having my daughter, Ava in July 2017 and started to really actively blog and things have really taken off since then. In my day job I work with a lot of legal paperwork so blogging takes me away from that and gives me an avenue to escape. My husband works shifts with his job so I read an awful lot after putting Ava to bed and can normally get through a book a day!

Donna’s Social Media Links:
donnasbookblog | Twitter @dmmaguire391 | Facebook |

If you’re a book blogger, author or publisher and would like to take part in #R3COMM3ND3D2018 please complete this form: