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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Links: | Twitter | Website |

The damppebbles Top Ten (sort of!) of 2020 #amreading #amreviewing #amblogging #Bestof2020 #TopReadsof2020 #BookRecommendations #bookblogger #damppebbles

Hello bookish friends and welcome to my final post in a year many of us would rather forget. What a stinker, eh? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the year may have been a big pile of crud but the books have been outstanding, There have been some real beauties published this year and I’ve had the pleasure of reading some fabulous titles. Personally, I have immersed myself in fiction to escape what has been going on around us and as a result – despite having the hubby working from home and home-schooling the kids from March to September – I’ve read more books this year than I have in the last couple of years. Woohoo!

I also managed to complete the #20booksofsummer20 challenge which I have never  even come vaguely close to doing in the past. Being a slow reader I didn’t believe it was possible for me to reach the heady heights of Cathy at 746 Books‘ ‘read 20 books in three months’ challenge. Seems all I needed was a lockdown and a target, who knew?! I set myself a target of reading 25% a day which was tough to stick to but by Jove, it worked!

Other blog achievements this year included getting into the groove with posting regularly, which in turn has resulted in more visits and views than last year. And that leads me nicely into thanking YOU for your support.  When I first started damppebbles nearly FIVE years ago I had no idea the impact it would have on my life. Reading has always been my passion but I’ve never really discussed books with other people (mainly because I didn’t know anyone who was as keen on reading and books as I was!). The book community welcomed me with open arms and I am truly grateful for that every day. Thank you for following my blog and being interested in my bookish thoughts. I expected maybe ten or so people (in other words, my family) to follow damppebbles (and I would have been incredibly happy with that) but to have over 140 x that many followers is just mind-blowing. Thank you, thank you and thank you again. Your shares, retweets, likes and comments mean the world to me (and yes, I know I’m terrible at replying to comments. I honestly try and keep up 😬😂).

Anyhoo, top ten books of the year and I’m hoping you can’t count 🤭. Here they are in all their gorgeous, sparkly (sometimes gory) glory and in no particular order…

The Hunted by Gabriel Bergmoser
I bloody loved it and I couldn’t put this book down! The Hunted is a terror filled, edge of your seat whirlwind and I was completely immersed in the story from beginning to end. I know some readers baulk at the idea of reading a horror novel but I urge you to give this one a try. Yes, it’s bloody and a little gruesome but it’s such an enthralling, gripping, unsettling story that will worm it’s way under your skin. You don’t want to miss out on this book. An outstanding horror novel that I heartily recommend.
My Review of The Hunted

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
I loved Home Before Dark and I think it will stay with me for some time to come. I’ve come to expect a lot from Sager’s novels (thanks to the magnificent brilliance that is Final Girls) and although I doubt any book (by any author) will ever come close to Final Girls in my eyes, Home Before Dark gets a lot closer than most. It’s absolutely marvellous and I expect it will feature on my ‘top reads of 2020’ list. I loved Home Before Dark and highly recommend you give it a go if you’re not afraid of things that go bump (or in this case THUD – tap, tap, tap…) in the night. Chilling, engaging and deliciously tense. Highly recommended.
My Review of Home Before Dark

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica (translated by Sarah Moses)
Would I recommend this book? I would, most definitely, but it’s not going to be for everyone. It’s savage, brave, unsettling and utterly unflinching fiction at it’s very best. The way the ‘special meat’ is treated is inhumane and stomach churning and makes me question the way livestock is treated. Vegetarianism could be the way forward for me following this novel! If you’re looking for a book which is dark, disturbing and wholly involving then this is it. Bazterrica does not spare her reader and I absolutely loved it! Highly recommended. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you…
My Review of Tender is the Flesh

Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson
This one is going on the list of favourite books of all time. You don’t have to be a crime fiction aficionado to enjoy this tense and intoxicating read (I’m certainly not). I will say though, that if you’re planning on reading any of the books which feature on Malcolm’s list, then you might want to do that first as there are a few spoilers and an outline of each is given by the author for those who haven’t read them. This book is so much more than you expect and I savoured every moment of it. I urge you to pick up a copy of Rules for Perfect Murders, whether you consider yourself to be bookish or not. It’s a wonderful, thoroughly entertaining homage to the crime and mystery genre and I couldn’t put it down. Nor did I want to. Tightly plotted and packed full of delicious suspense with a character I fell head over heels in love with. Highly recommended.
My Review of Rules for Perfect Murders

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen
I loved The Stolen Sisters. It’s the most enjoyable, absorbing and exciting psychological thriller I have read in a long time. I was 100% in the pages of this book living the story alongside the characters. A highly emotive read that is incredibly tense and the ultimate page-turner. Did I mention that I loved The Stolen Sisters? Oh well, worth mentioning again. I loved The Stolen Sisters! Louise Jensen is a superb writer. It was an absolute joy to read this book and I will savour the memory of it for a long time to come. Highly recommended.
My Review of The Stolen Sisters

The White Road by Sarah Lotz
The White Road is sublime. Atmospheric, creepy and I was living the story from the opening paragraphs alongside our protagonist, Simon Newman. Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, without a moment’s hesitation. I loved this book because the characters felt so very real to me. I loved this book because it’s like nothing I’ve read before. I loved this book because I think this is my first (literary) trip to Mt. Everest and I find it fascinating the need some people have to conquer the mountain, to risk life and limb, to push your body to it’s absolute limits. It’s chilling, it’s atmospheric and it’s totally involving. Impossible to put down, impossible to forget. An outstanding piece of fiction.
My Review of The White Road

Thirteen Storeys by Jonathan Sims
Thirteen Storeys is a beautifully written contemporary horror novel that I know for sure will leave its mark on me. I don’t remember reading anything like this before and it was an absolute delight. The excitement I felt as I approached the end of the book, having lived through the characters’ trauma with them, was palpable. I couldn’t wait to find out what had happened to Fell. It was a thrilling ride and I was deeply satisfied with the stomach-churning conclusion. I loved this book and would happily read more by this author. Highly recommended.
My Review of Thirteen Storeys

The Mayfly (Charlie Priest #1) by James Hazel
The Mayfly is brilliant and I’ve already downloaded the second book in the series. I loved the chapters set at the end of the Second World War. The unease the author creates is palpable. I didn’t see the big reveal coming but it was perfect and done very well. The entire plot had me hook, line and sinker. If you love tense, gutsy crime novels with just about the right amount of ‘grisly’, you will love The Mayfly. Crime fiction at its finest. Highly recommended.
My Review of The Mayfly

Halfway by B. E. Jones
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, yes! Without a moment’s hesitation. I loved Halfway and I’m so glad I read it. I loved the entire book but I really enjoyed the ending, which was blood-soaked and so very satisfying. I think one of the most impressive things for me though was how the author managed to completely change my opinion of two of the main characters as the end of the book approached. Beautifully written, utterly compelling and really quite addictive. Highly recommended.
My Review of Halfway

I also wanted to give a special mention to The Appeal by Janice Hallett which is being published in January by Viper Books. It’s not officially ‘on the list’ because it’s not published yet but please, please make sure you get hold of a copy…

The Appeal by Janice Hallett
The Appeal is a very clever, all-consuming novel which I struggled to put down. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about the characters. For the duration of my time with this book, I was 100% in its pages and now I’ve finished it, I feel a little bereft. An absolutely outstanding piece of clever, brilliantly written crime fiction that deserves all the awards. I savoured every single moment I had with The Appeal. This is a book you need on your reading list. This is a book everyone is going to be talking about and oh boy, does it deserve it. Compelling and utterly irresistible. Highly recommended.
My Review of The Appeal will be published on 14th January 2021

And my book of 2020 is…

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
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.
My Review of We Begin at the End

What utter gorgeousness and all in one blog post. I heartily recommend that you read all of these wonderful books. They all have something very special about them and have brightened an otherwise difficult year for me.

Have a peaceful and safe New Year, bookish lovelies, and I will see you on the other side. I’ll be sharing my #R3COMM3ND3D2020 After-Show Party post in January which will feature all 144 books chosen, along with our illustrious winner – the mighty We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker (don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but it’s my book of the year, without a shadow of a doubt 😜) – so keep an eye out for that. Thank you for your support through a difficult year. You are AMAZING! Stay safe, stay bookish and keep reading. Lots of love, Emma @damppebbles x

Fancy buying one of the books on my top ten(ish) of the year? Then please check out my Bookshop.org affiliate page: Bookshop.org/shop/damppebbles

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


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


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 |