I have some news. I received an email from NB Magazine inviting me to submit an entry into their Blogger’s Book Prize 2021 competition. Bloggers chose a book from 2020 that they loved from either the NB Magazine long-list or of their own choosing and then submitted a review with the chance of being picked as one of the six shortlisted bloggers.
I suffer from self-doubt regarding my reviews, anyone who follows my blog and my Twitter account will know that and I wasn’t going to enter. Entries closed on the 19th of February, I’d seen a few tweets from bloggers saying that they had entered and I put out a tweet wondering if I should bother and if I could kick my self-doubt to the side long enough to actually seriously consider entering. The general consensus was that, yes, of course, I should enter and that my reviews are great, it’s funny how people think what you write is great while you, yourself think, for lack of a better term that it is crap.
One of the replies also mentioned that I’d got nothing to lose by submitting a review? True, very true and I admit that it took me a while to realise it, I’m not the brightest bulb, often running on a dim wattage.😂 Doubting yourself is tiresome, it’s draining and it also plays on your mind, but it made me think, what had I got to lose? The answer, nothing, nothing at all. When I realised that I thought ‘what the hell‘ or, being honest, I have a penchant for swearing and it was more likely that I thought ‘f#ck it‘ and I decided to enter.
I hadn’t read any of the books on the long-list, but I had read lots of absolutely amazing books that were released in 2020 that I could choose from. Out of all the great books that I read last year, there were a few that left a lasting impression on me, but there was one that stood above the rest We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker.
We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker.
Published by Zaffre on April 2nd, 2020.
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?
I had to slightly edit my original blog review, at times I ramble and NB Magazine wanted a 100 word (maximum) elevator pitch and a 500 word (maximum) review. I cut some of the waffle, trimmed some of the excess words, used an edited final paragraph for the elevator pitch and made my submitted review sleek and sexy.
You’ve perhaps already guessed the result of me submitting my review, I was chosen as one of the six shortlisted bloggers!!! Are you shocked?!?! I sure was and I still am! I didn’t expect to be chosen, I didn’t think about it, I had put the competition out of my mind and then, I got the email and damn! I mean, there are so many terrific bloggers out there, who would choose my review from my little nobody blog? Well, they did and I’m honoured. You only have to check out the other five shortlisted bloggers to know that I’m punching above my weight and that I’m an imposter when compared to them. I guess, for once my words were good enough and that my love for We Begin at the End shone through in my review.
Below you can see my elevator pitch and then my review for We Begin at the End.
We Begin at the End elevator pitch:
We Begin at the End is not simply a book that you read, it is a journey, an experience and as you walk beside the characters, as you see through their eyes and feel their pain it is a story that you live, breathe and you will care. You will care about the story, about those involved and you will care so much about Duchess Day Radley who, for me, is the tattered and torn outlaw heart of We Begin at the End.
We Begin at the End review:
Thirty years ago fifteen-year-old Vincent King was convicted of killing seven-year-old Sissy Radley. He is set to be released from jail and will return home, to the small town of Cape Haven. No matter how far behind you it is, you can’t escape from or run from the past, it will always be there a part of you, haunting and shaping you. For the small-town community, the killing is a tragedy that is still felt in the present. The death shattered those involved and even though the pieces have been put back together, the cracks, the scars still remain.
The two main characters in We Begin at the End are thirteen-year-old Duchess Day Radley and Chief Walker/Walk the Chief of Police in Cape Haven who are supported by a cast of believable, well-drawn and flawed characters. Duchess looks after her younger brother Robin taking on the role of mother as their actual mother Star, battling her demons isn’t up to the job of motherhood. Duchess is protective of Robin and Whitaker has crafted a touching relationship between the two siblings with the barbed wire of Duchess being blunted with Robin and her softer side, her vulnerability coming through towards him. Duchess classes herself as an ‘outlaw’. She is determined, tenacious, resilient and far older than her young years. She is spirited, stitched together and there is an intensity to her, a storm and a fire burns inside her. Walk is the opposite he is calm, measured, set in his ways and staid, he is a good person. Vincent and Walk were childhood best friends, not born of the same blood but brothers and for thirty years he has carried the weight of the past around with him.
We Begin at the End is a dark and evocative book that features a mournful, poignant and emotionally charged story of broken people living broken lives. The story shows the struggle to survive and that life is full of hardship and pain. It is a story of actions and their consequences, of love and loss, of sadness and sorrow, of bad choices, second chances, remorse and regrets, revenge and redemption. There are motes of hope, of compassion and of light penetrating the darkness included. As you reach the end Whitaker leaves you with a warm feeling that even fractured souls can mend and of colour returning to the lives of some of those involved in the tragic events that you have witnessed.
The story told by Whitaker is emotionally charged and character-driven. It is not fast-paced, it is a slow-cooked story that simmers, that takes its time and gives you ample opportunity to become acquainted with the characters. It is a layered, powerful and weighted story that ranks high on the emotional scale. It is a genuinely moving story that reaches out, that breaks you, that lingers and that stays with you long after you have turned the final page.
Now comes the sell! The six shortlisted bloggers are champions for the books that they submitted. I’m championing We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker. Yes, I know, the irony, you have me, a terrible blogger championing a terrific book! I absolutely loved We Begin at the End and if you have likewise read and loved We Begin at the End too then I would really appreciate it if you would vote for it in the Blogger’s Book Prize 2021 competition. If you haven’t read We Begin at the End, then, there are five other books and their reviews in the shortlist to check out that you might have read and loved and so, if you have read and loved one of them then you will choose to vote for that book, that’s cool. You might not have read any of the shortlisted books, if so, if you read the reviews and one of the books above the others piques your interest and stands out then you might vote for that particular book, again, that’s cool.
Regardless of whether you will vote for We Begin at the End or another of the shortlisted books please do check out the Blogger’s Book Prize 2021 competition as it is helping to spread the love for six books that six bloggers loved and that’s what we do, we pimp books, we shout about books and WE. SHARE. THE. BOOK. LOVE.
Voting for the Blogger’s Book Prize 2021 competition opened today on Monday 8th of March at 6pm and will run for ten days closing on March 18th, 2021.
The link to the voting page for you to cast your vote, hopefully for me, Chris Whitaker and We Begin at the End is !!HERE!! And, the link to my individual blogger page on the NB Magazine website with my profile and my We Begin at the End review is !!HERE!!