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

“Helen has it all…

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

And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#BookReview: Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson @BloomsburyRaven #NeverHaveIEver #damppebbles #15BooksofSummer (7/15)

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“It starts as a game at a book group one night. Never Have I Ever… done something I shouldn’t.

But Amy Whey has done something she shouldn’t. And Roux, the glamorous newcomer to Amy’s suburban neighbourhood, knows exactly what that is.

Roux promises she will go away – if Amy plays by her rules.

But Amy isn’t prepared to lose everything. She’s going to fight back, and in this escalating game of cat and mouse, there can be only one winner.”

Welcome to damppebbles and to my review of Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson. Never Have I Ever was published on 8th August 2019 by Raven Books and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats. I chose Never Have I Ever as my seventh #15BooksofSummer challenge read and received a free eARC of this book but that has in no way influenced my review.

It’s not often I read a ‘teaser’ or sample of a book. I prefer to read the entire thing from start to finish, at my own (some would say, very slow) pace. So when a teaser of Never Have I Ever appeared on NetGalley I planned to walk on by. But that didn’t actually happen. I found myself drawn to this book so I broke the habit of a lifetime and downloaded the first chapter. Looking for something to kill an hour one day in between moving the kids from one after school activity to another, I started to read my short snippet of Never Have I Ever. I was instantly drawn into the world of these women with the interloper in their midst. The exotic Roux who usurped the mumsy book club leader, Charlotte, and made herself very much at home in Amy’s basement having recently moved into the local rental. Roux instantly ruffles a number of feathers, flatters a number of the more timid women and makes her mark on the group. But as the alcohol flows some of their most closely guarded secrets are revealed, all for the momentary thrill of shocking their peers. A game of ‘never have I ever’ takes a more sinister twist and Amy is left wondering exactly what mysterious Roux knows about her past. And that’s where the first chapter ended (!) and I was left hankering after the rest of the story. Thankfully my NetGalley request was approved shortly after that so I didn’t have to wait *too* long for the rest of Roux and Amy’s story!

And what a story it is! This is a wonderful multi-layered book and I was completely drawn in to the lives of the characters. I loved Amy and her sass. I desperately wanted her to succeed in her plan to win the game and keep her dark past hidden from her family and maintain the life she had built for herself. But I also adored Roux who is darkness and wickedness personified. Good..ish versus evil. The battle is well and truly ON in Never Have I Ever and I savoured every last minute of it. This is an engrossing book with a brilliant plot but the characters are everything. If you don’t feel invested in Amy’s plight by the end of the book then I’m afraid you’ve done it all wrong.

Would I recommend this book? I would, yes! But brace yourself for the unexpected. I don’t want to say anything else about the plot as I already feel I’ve said too much. However, the ending is perfect. I couldn’t work out how the author was going to finish this Battle Royale between these two brilliant adversaries but Jackson does it with absolute aplomb. One of the most fascinating psychological suspense novels I have read in a long time. Amy and Roux have made themselves at home in my memory and I don’t think they’ll be moving out anytime soon.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Never Have I Ever. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson was published in the UK by Raven Books on 8th August 2019 and is available in hardcover, audio and ebook formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links (they’re starred*) which mean I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk* | amazon.com | Waterstones* | BookDepository* | Goodreads |

15 books of summer

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling novelist Joshilyn Jackson’s newest book, Never Have I Ever, will launch in July of 2019. You can check out her previous eight novels and other work here. Joshilyn’s books have been translated into a dozen languages, have won SIBA’s Novel of the Year award, have three times been #1 Book Sense Pick, have twice won Georgia Author of the Year awards, have three times been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and have been a finalist for the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction.

A former actor, Jackson reads the audio versions of both her own novels and the books of other writers; her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, won three Earphones awards, made the 2012 Audible All-Star list for highest listener ranks/reviews, and garnered three Listen Up awards from Publisher’s Weekly.

She serves on the board of Reforming Arts, a nonprofit that runs education-in-prison and reentry programs. Reforming Arts fosters the development of critical and creative thinking skills, encouraging students to build livable lives both during and post-incarceration. Through this organization, Joshilyn has taught creative writing, composition, and literature inside Georgia’s maximum security facility for women.

Joshilyn learned to scuba-dive in order to write Never Have I Ever, and now she and her husband Scott are both avid divers. They live in Decatur, Georgia with their two kids, two entitled cats, and a modestly-sized dog.

Author photo and biog © https://www.joshilynjackson.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four out of five stars.

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

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

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eva dolan

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

Author Links: | Twitter |