#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 |

#BookReview: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart (@elockhart) @HotKeyBooks

genuine fraud.jpg“From the author of the unforgettable bestseller WE WERE LIARS comes a suspenseful new psychological thriller – the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. 
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. 
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. 
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.”

I confess.  I’m one of those people.  I judge a book by it’s cover.  Well, in a good way of course!  If the cover appeals to me then I will read the blurb and see if the story appeals as well.  That was the case with Genuine Fraud.  That cover is so eye-catching that I secretly hoped the blurb would be ‘my kind of thing’.

As you’re reading my review of Genuine Fraud I think it’s safe to say it ticked the right boxes!  And what a wonderfully fun read it was.  Yes…it’s a little dark, a little murderous but you can’t help but immerse yourself in this fast-paced, thrilling tale.

The first thing to say is that the story is told in reverse.  The reader starts at the beginning of the book with chapter 18.  Towards the end of the novel, you find a chapter 19 which fills in a few of the blanks.  I don’t think I have read a book presented in this format before and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was exciting and different, each chapter revealing a little more of what actually happened to the characters.  I was questioning everything.  I believed no one.  Wonderfully compulsive.

I’ve seen a number of mixed reviews for this book.  Many of the readers have previously read one or more of the author’s novels.  I don’t fall into that category and E. Lockhart was a brand new author to me.  From what I’ve seen, Genuine Fraud is quite different to the author’s other works and maybe that’s the problem?  Starting Genuine Fraud with no previous experience may have helped me.  I’ve also seen many comparisons to The Talented Mr. Ripley.  Well, here’s a bombshell for you, I’ve neither read the book nor seen the film!  I will be totally honest with you now and confess to absolutely no knowledge of the plot.  None.  Nada.  Zilch.  Maybe that helped me enjoy this book a little more than others, maybe I missed a number of subtle nuances others got.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I managed to read Genuine Fraud in a day.  It would have been fairly easy to read it in less time than that had I not had a family to feed and care for.  I enjoyed my first experience of E. Lockhart’s writing and I’m looking forward to adding We Were Liars to the TBR in the future.  It’s a gripping, multilayered read which I found compulsive and thrilling.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review a copy of Genuine Fraud.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart was published in the UK by Hot Key Books on 5th September 2017 and is available in hardcover and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

e lockhart.jpg

Author Image and bio (c) http://www.emilylockhart.com/about-e/

I am the author of We Were Liars,  Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and the Ruby Oliver quartet: The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book,  The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live BoyfriendsHow to Be Bad was co-written with Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski.


Disreputable History was a Printz Award honor book, a finalist for the National Book Award, and recipient of the Cybils Award for best young adult novel. We Were Liars is a New York Times bestseller. It won the Goodreads Choice Award and was Amazon’s #1 YA novel of 2014.

I have a doctorate in English literature from Columbia University. My field was 19th-century British novel.  In 2013 I chaired the committee on Young People’s Literature for the National Book Awards. I currently teach creative writing at Hamline University’s low-residency MFA program in Writing for Children.

Author Links: | Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook |