#BookReview: Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson @FaberBooks #EveryVowYouBreak #damppebbles

“After a whirlwind, fairytale romance, Abigail Baskin marries freshly-minted Silicon Valley millionaire Bruce Lamb.

For their honeymoon, he whisks her away to an exclusive retreat at a friend’s resort off the Maine coast on Heart Pond Island.

But once there, Abigail’s perfect new life threatens to crash down around her as she recognises one of their fellow guests as the good looking, charismatic stranger who weeks earlier had seduced her at her own Bachelorette party…”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to share my review of Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson. Every Vow You Break is published today (that’s Thursday 18th March 2021) by Faber Books and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats. I chose to read and review a free eARC of Every Vow You Break but that has in no way influenced my review.

I LOVE Peter Swanson’s novels. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! He’s a favourite author of mine and picking up his latest release for the first time is one of the highlights of my year. His books are chock full of delicious suspense and always have a wicked twist in their tale. I heartily recommend ALL of his books – particularly The Kind Worth Killing and the absolutely stunning Rules for Perfect Murders which made it onto my ‘best books EVER’ list after being published last year.

Abigail Baskin is getting married! She’s all loved up (sort of) and heading off to California for her hen party (Bachelorette party for any US readers!) with a group of friends to let her hair down and wave goodbye to singledom. Following a night of delicious food and good wine, Abigail starts to chat with Scottie, a good-looking and charming divorcee. One thing leads to another, the wine flows and they end up in bed together. Abigail realises her mistake and hurries home to husband-to-be, Bruce, wracked with guilt, determined to forget it ever happened and make their marriage work. Until she starts to see Scottie everywhere she turns; in New York, at her wedding and most shockingly of all, Scottie is a fellow guest at the exclusive resort Bruce has chosen as their honeymoon destination. Why is Scottie following Abigail? What’s his agenda and will his presence on Heart Pond Island result in Abigail’s perfect life crashing down around her…?

This is a fantastic slow burn suspense novel which I found very readable. Swanson takes time and care to paint a picture of Abigail and Bruce’s lives together. You get to know Abigail particularly well and what makes her tick, before the author blows the couple’s worlds apart. When the bomb is dropped, OMG, it’s a big un! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough – I had to find out how things were going to end. I was gripped and loving every second of my reading experience.

I grew to like Abigail over the course of the novel. I will admit I wasn’t an instant fan but my judgement was based more on her indiscretion and my own personal feelings about cheating on a partner. I was hoping she would get her comeuppance. However, I quickly changed my mind as the story progressed. Oh boy, did I change my mind!!

I did have one tiny niggle about this book and you’re probably going to think I’m crazy! The use of the word ‘pond’. To me, as a Brit, a pond is a small, stagnant body of water. Probably infested with frogs, algae and water slugs (are they a thing?). In Every Vow You Break, characters are swimming and sailing on the pond which seemed to me to be vast. Isn’t that a lake? Perhaps it’s a UK vs US thing. Anyway, my point is, the use of the word jarred me a little every time it was used as what I pictured in my own mind didn’t seem to match with what the book was telling me. Maybe I’m just odd. Maybe I have no knowledge whatsoever of ponds and I should just shut up now…

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. Every Vow You Break is a great addition to Swanson’s back catalogue. The author remains one of my absolute favourites and I’m already looking forward to his next book. Every Vow You Break has a very interesting twist which drew me in to the story. At times I was on the edge of my seat, at other times I was furious with the characters. My blood was boiling. All in all, another brilliant reading experience from the master of suspense. Recommended.

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Every Vow You Break. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson was published in the UK by Faber Books on 18th March 2021 and is available in hardcover, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | Waterstones | Foyles | Book Depository | bookshop.org | Goodreads | damppebbles bookshop.org shop |

Peter Swanson is the author of seven novels, including The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger, Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, Every Vow You Break. His books have been translated into over 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BookReview: Creature by Hunter Shea @flametreepress #Creature

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“The monsters live inside of Kate Woodson. Chronic pain and a host of autoimmune diseases have robbed her of a normal, happy life. Her husband Andrew’s surprise of their dream Maine lake cottage for the summer is the gift of a lifetime. It’s beautiful, remote, idyllic, a place to heal.

But they are not alone. Something is in the woods, screeching in the darkness, banging on the house, leaving animals for dead.

Just like her body, Kate’s cottage becomes her prison. She and Andrew must fight to survive the creature that lurks in the dead of night.”

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time you will know that primarily I am a crime fiction blogger. However, when my reading mojo deserts me I turn to the horror genre to kickstart it. Creature by Hunter Shea was one of the first books I turned to when that happened at the end of last year. I had seen some cracking reviews and I wanted to see for myself what the book was all about. I received a free eARC of this book from the publisher but that has in no way influenced my review.

Creature was like nothing else I’ve read in the horror genre before. Yes, this is horror fiction but in a different unexpected way. It’s also a very important love story which ultimately broke my heart. Packed with raw emotion and bucketloads of feeling this book is one we should all read – whether you regularly read horror novels or not. Having finished the book it also became blatantly clear what a personal book this is to the author.

Kate and Andrew are very much in love but Kate is terribly ill suffering from a number of chronic debilitating autoimmune diseases. Knowing that the future isn’t looking too bright Andrew books a three-month break taking Kate from the four walls which imprison her on a daily basis to the peace and tranquillity of a lake-side cabin in Maine’s vast woodlands. What starts out as a dream come true for the couple soon turns into a nightmare. The four walls of their home are quickly replaced by another prison, but this one is altogether more terrifying than they could have ever imagined.

I instantly liked both Kate and Andrew. I admired Kate’s determination to do as much as she could for herself but really felt for Andrew when that determination manifested itself in Kate damaging herself even more. This a slow burn of a read and Shea spends significant time at the start of the book ensuring the reader knows what a struggle life is for this couple. I appreciated that as when the horrors start you feel totally invested in Kate and Andrew. The only other character I should mention at this point is Kate’s dog, Buttons, who is just gorgeous! His dedication to Kate shines through, no matter what.

This is a horror novel though and a horror novel wouldn’t be so without something scary. And oh boy, this is a BIG scary. The writing is tense, taut and descriptive and I found myself holding my breath at certain parts. It’s a little on the gory and gruesome side but you’d be surprised if it wasn’t, right? What I love about Creature is what exactly Shea has achieved here. This is a carefully thought out and well-planned plot and one which I admire greatly. I can’t really say any more without giving away a few spoilers but this book made me want to punch the air with my fist and shout ‘YES!’.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes. It’s something completely different to everything else I’ve read in the horror genre, and I expect if I were to read another of Mr Shea’s books that would still be the case. Deeply emotional, totally unexpected and honest. If you don’t tend to read books in the horror genre but have always been intrigued then I suggest you start with this one. A heartbreaking love story and a tale of how chronic illness can tear peoples lives apart.

I chose to read and review Creature. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Creature by Hunter Shea was published in the UK by Flame Tree Press on 6th September 2018 and is available in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audio formats (please note, some of 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 | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |

about-the-author3

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Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. He’s a bestselling author of over 13 (lucky number!) books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Author photo and bio © https://huntershea.com/

#BookReview: All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson (@PeterSwanson3) @FaberBooks #AllTheBeautifulLies

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“On the eve of his college graduation, Harry is called home by his step-mother Alice, to their house on the Maine coast, following the unexpected death of his father.

But who really is Alice, his father’s much younger second wife? In a brilliant split narrative, Peter Swanson teases out the stories and damage that lie in her past. And as her story entwines with Harry’s in the present, things grow increasingly dark and threatening – will Harry be able to see any of it clearly through his own confused feelings?”

I am a huge (HUGE!) Peter Swanson fan. The Kind Worth Killing is one of my all-time favourite books and I ALWAYS recommend it to people (have you read it? You haven’t? You really should!). So, understandably, I always look forward to the next release from Mr Swanson. I didn’t have the blog when I read The Kind Worth Killing so I, unfortunately, don’t have a review to share with you (it would be an awful lot of fangirling!). I do, however, have a review of Swanson’s last book Her Every Fear which despite reading over a year ago now, I can still remember with pinpoint accuracy.

Needless to say, I was incredibly excited to hear the next Peter Swanson novel, All The Beautiful Lies, was due for imminent release. I HAD to read it, and soon! Unfortunately, because I’m an idiot, publication day passed me by but I picked up my copy and made a start as soon as I realised my epic mistake. And I have to say, it’s quite a different read from Swanson’s other books. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why that is but have so far failed. I enjoyed it, but maybe not as much as The Kind Worth Killing or Her Every Fear. It’s a little darker maybe, but that would encourage me if anything. I’m really not the best person to ask on these things but I wonder if it was a departure from the usual commercial fiction I’m used to reading and that’s what felt unfamiliar about the book.

Please don’t get the wrong idea here, I did thoroughly enjoy All The Beautiful Lies. I think I was thrown a little by the very different tone from an author whose writing I have come to know well. The story was a lot more about the intense and somewhat uncomfortable relationships between the characters. And the setting, the blustery Maine coastline, was almost a character in its own right. I’m not saying these are elements not normally included in a Peter Swanson novel. What I AM saying is that it/they felt strangely different in All The Beautiful Lies. But nothing ever stays the same and if you’re a writer churning out the same old thing, time and time again, then you’re not going to last very long in a competitive, inventive industry such as publishing.

Hmmm, yes! I liked it. It got under my skin but in a different way to the author’s other books.

Harry is called back to Maine days before he is due to graduate from college. Alice, his stepmother bears terrible news. Harry’s father has died suddenly; a freak accident whilst he was out on his evening stroll along the clifftop path. Harry is devastated by his father’s death and rushes to Alice’s side. He’s always tried to have a normal relationship with his stepmother but that can difficult when she’s only 13 years older than him and Harry can’t help but find her attractive. Alice needs Harry around her; to cook for, to clean for and to run Harry’s father’s rare book shop. But Harry doesn’t want to be a replacement for Bill. He’s a young man and despite having no clue what he wants from his life, he knows it’s not Kennewick, Maine. Unbeknownst to Harry, Kennewick is full of secrets and it’s frightening how far some people will go to keep it that way.

Alice is probably my favourite character in the book. Personally, I’m not one for your ‘run of the mill’ types and she certainly couldn’t be described that way. I looked forward to the sections where I would discover more about her past and get a glimpse into what made Alice the woman she became. There was also a delicious sense of dread hanging over these chapters which I thought was perfectly written. I felt nervous, but at times couldn’t explain why.

Harry also gets to tell his side of the story which I was a little less interested in. I neither liked nor disliked Harry. Yes, he was key to the plot but Alice was the far superior character in my eyes. Drippy, somewhat naive characters will never get my vote though.

Would I recommend this book? I would. It’s different to what I have come to expect from the author but I liked it. Has it surpassed The Kind Worth Killing in my eyes? Well, no. That’s going to be quite a mammoth feat to achieve (not saying it’s not possible though!). I found this book interesting, a little uncomfortable in places and very intense. It’s not going to be for everyone but it could be for you, so give it a go. Oh, and the ‘fountain of youth’ references throughout the book were fan-flipping-tastic!

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read an ARC of All The Beautiful Lies. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

All The Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson was published in the UK by Faber & Faber on 5th April 2018 and is available in hardcover, eBook and audio formats (please note, the following Amazon and Waterstones links are affiliate links): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

about the author3

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Peter Swanson is the author of four novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, All the Beautiful Lies. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine.

A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |