Book Review: In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

In 5 Years

I’d seen this book on a list of ‘books that will be big in 2020’ – or words to that effect – so asked NetGalley for an advance review copy, and my wish was granted.  Here’s the blurb:

“Perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day, this heart-breaking story of love, loss and life will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about destiny…
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Kohan has been in possession of her meticulously crafted answer since she understood the question. On the day that she nails the most important job interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfect man, she’s well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.
That night Dannie falls asleep only to wake up in a different apartment with a different ring on her finger, and in the company of a very different man. The TV is on in the background, and she can just make out the date. It’s the same night – December 15th – but 2025, five years in the future.
It was just a dream, she tells herself when she wakes, but it felt so real… Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.
That is, until four and a half years later, when Dannie turns down a street and there, standing on the corner, is the man from her dream…
In Five Years is a love story, brimming with joy and heartbreak. But it is definitely not the love story you’re expecting.”

I LOVED this book.  It twists and turns and is really emotional – but not in a typical ‘love story’ way.  It is a love story – but with many different types of love.  I don’t want to say too much or give too much away, as you really need to be lead by the book.  I devoured it in just a few days, as I was desperate to know what happens.

Right the way through you’re on a timeline to see if the events of December 15th 2025 were just a weird dream or actually happened – so you kind of know what you’re aiming for! And that just succeeds in building the tension significantly – SURELY it can’t be true??

I liked Dannie as a character (most of the time) and empathised with her as being a coper – and when there is a massive crisis for her or her friends, turning into full on organiser / Monica from Friends control freak.  That is exactly what I do too!  It makes you feel like you’re ‘helping’ (even if it can be seen as being bossy?!)

Also – I had one of those totally weird experiences whilst reading this which makes you feel like you’re Mystic Meg (showing my age there!) or your brain is being tapped.  Until a fortnight ago I had never heard of DUMBO in New York – but since then it’s been EVERYWHERE.  For those of you who are like me 2 weeks ago, this is the area called ‘Down Under the Manhatten Bridge Overpass’, DUMBO for short – in Brooklyn) So, first I spotted it tagged in a random Instagram #travelgram post, then BrummyMummyof2 tagged herself there in her Instastories on a trip to NYC with her gorgeous family, then the lovely Lucy from Lil’s Parlour did the same!  And THEN it featured in this book – where thankfully it was explained (as I hadn’t been uncool enough to ask Emma or Lucy where it was!)

Overall I really enjoyed this book.  It as an escapist, quick read, with an interesting premise.  I won’t give away the ending – but I really liked it.  I will definitely look out for other books by this author in the future.

Thanks NetGalley for my copy in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

I am 45 years of age – but my parents still ask me for a Christmas list each year!  This year I asked for a new mixing bowl (so that our one plastic bowl didn’t have to double up as the family popcorn bowl and sick bowl #classy) and a copy of Adam Kay’s new festive book Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas (having loved his debut novel – This Is Going To Hurt).  The parentals came up trumps with a nest of mixing bowls (fancy!), this book – and some coasters and a bottle of gin #winningatChristmas

So here we go!  First – the blurb:

“A short gift book of festive hospital diaries from the author of million-copy bestseller This is Going to Hurt

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat . . . but 1.4 million NHS staff are heading off to work. In this perfect present for anyone who has ever set foot in a hospital, Adam Kay delves back into his diaries for a hilarious, horrifying and sometimes heartbreaking peek behind the blue curtain at Christmastime.

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a love letter to all those who spend their festive season on the front line, removing babies and baubles from the various places they get stuck, at the most wonderful time of the year.”

 

Twas the nightshift

I’ve read this in one sitting this evening whilst enjoying a festive break to Centerparcs (and thus far with no need for medical intervention – although there is still time in the next 36 hours).

This book is FABULOUS.  Totally in the same vein (pun intended) as Adam’s (I’m calling him by his first name as he didn’t make it to consultant rank?! #relevantjoke #Gerry) first book – and just as great.

There is – as expected – the slightly gross descriptions (candy cane as a dildo anyone?!) and language – but that just makes it more enjoyable.

There are definitely some LOL moments – and I read a few sections to my husband whilst giggling ridiculously!

There is one deeply moving section of a few pages – with a message beforehand so people can skip it if they think it could be triggering – which really makes you think how medical professionals – who HAVE  to make themselves immune to most things to simply function – would be emotionally traumatised by events they have to be a major part of.  Massive respect to them.

So this blog post is also a thank you to all of the NHS staff working this festive season – and to everyone else who has to buckle up and get on with work at antisocial times with the elderly, infirm and mentally ill (my niece and nephew at a care home and Wetherspoons respectively)

 

 

Book Review: The 24 Hour Cafe by Libby Page

As part of a reading challenge I had to read a book written by someone with the same name as me – and I LOVED The Lido by Libby Page.  So when I saw her next book was out – I asked for an advanced review copy from Netgalley and was granted my wish, in exchange for a review – so here is my review!

The 24 Hour Cafe

First of all, the blurb:

“Welcome to the café that never sleeps. Day and night Stella’s Café opens its doors for the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It is many things to many people but most of all it is a place where life can wait at the door. A place of small kindnesses. A place where anyone can be whoever they want, where everyone is always welcome.

Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They work at Stella’s but they dream of more, of leaving the café behind and making their own way in life.

Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café; a day when Hannah and Mona’s futures will be changed and their friendship tested. Today is just the start, but it is also marks a conclusion. Because all beginnings are also endings. And all endings can also be beginnings…”

Initially I wondered how this was going to work – as it appeared to be a chapter per hour that the 24 cafe was open.  There was only so much making coffee and wiping tables that would be interesting – but I need not have worried!  Although that is the premise of the chapters – there are lots of flashbacks to historical events that help shape the current position of the protagonists.

The main characters narrating the chapters are Hannah and Mona – friends and colleagues – and you learn about how they met and their back story as the 24 hour progresses. This is interwoven with the lives of the customers to the cafe – who are wide ranging.

Just as with The Lido, Ms Page has a brilliant way of writing about normal life and making it interesting and endearing.  I found that with most of the characters I was immediately invested in their futures.

I have to say I though Hannah should have had a bit of a slap on numerous occasions by Mona – deffing out your girlfriends for a bloke is such a shortsighted thing to do – but it is incredibly well written and believable.

The descriptions of the café itself are excellent – and you really feel like you’ve been and sat in one of its booths. If I ever walk out of Liverpool St Station I’ll be looking around for Stella’s!

All of the customers are interesting, and the interactions between them and the staff members are written beautifully – and I absolutely LOVED that the final chapter is a year down the road and you find out what has happened / is happening to loads of them.  I also love the fact it isn’t all hearts and flowers and happy endings dished out to everyone – it is real, and true, and what actually happens to people IRL.

This is a fabulous, escapist read – with no violence, graphic sex, bad language (I don’t think – although I guess it’s all relative..) – just a really lovely book.  I would highly recommend you buy it when it comes out in January 2020.

Book Review: Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain

Dirty Little Secrets

I am part of a book club which is mostly on Facebook.  A subset of us occasionally meet up IRL – but mostly we just share books we’ve read online.  Now a large number of groupies had read this book – to the point that I had total FOMO and had to purchase it, even without reading the blurb, as I trust their judgement on books!

But for you – here is the blurb:

“Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.
In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.
There’s just one problem.
Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.
The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.”

It is a great book – and, as expected, I did really enjoy it!

Each chapter is told from the perspective of either Olive or a different person who lives in the gated community or one of the 2 police officers investigating the case.  It twists and turns and you can quite believe that any of the residents were responsible for Olive’s demise.  There are lots of ‘dirty little secrets’ out there!  The residents are all very different with their own issues and all are written really well – even if none of them are particularly likeable!

However, Olive is definitely not likeable – although I did feel sorry for her at times.

I really liked the relationship between the 2 detectives as well.  The older bloke nearing retirement – and the up and coming younger female cop – who clearly had secrets in her past too.

The pace builds and builds and kept me keen to read on to find out what had happened.

Overall a good read – and I’d definitely look at books by this author again.  As with most recommendations from the book club – a winner!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

 

The Music Shop

The other week I was ‘post checking’ for my parents whilst they were on holiday.  Much like my mother, I can’t let a situation go unexplained – so bear with! I spotted this book in their hallway and asked if I could borrow it.  Mum explained it wasn’t theirs, but my Dad couldn’t read it at the moment because of an eyesight problem he has, and their friends were in no rush to have it back – so it was fine for me to borrow it.  (#neverknowinglyunderexplained)

I’d read previous books by Rachel Joyce – so thought it would be a lovely, pleasant read on holiday.

Here’s the blurb:

“1988. Frank owns a music shop. It is jam-packed with records of every speed, size and genre. Classical, jazz, punk – as long as it’s vinyl he sells it. Day after day Frank finds his customers the music they need.

Then into his life walks Ilse Brauchmann.

Ilse asks Frank to teach her about music. His instinct is to turn and run. And yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with her pea-green coat and her eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems. And Frank has old wounds that threaten to re-open and a past he will never leave behind …”

I really enjoyed this from start to finish.  As with Rachel Joyce’s previous books, it’s really well written – and a lovely escapist read.  The fact that it talks about music was also great – as I’m a huge fan of lots of genres of music.

Frank is the main character, and his relationship with Ilse is the centrepiece of the story – but there is a whole host of ‘chorus’ parts that are wonderful.  A tattooist, two undertakers, a Polish baker, the Saturday boy, a café waitress – to name but a few.  The interactions between them all are beautifully observed and feel very real – you are rooting for the whole band of them.

Some of it is just lovely, and some is really moving.  I did weep a couple of times – particularly at the end.  Whilst set in 1988 – and then more recently – it does show how the British High Street has changed over the decades too.

The Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah is fundamental to the story line and is a piece of music I love (randomly, Alexa decided to play it for me the other evening which was lovely!)  I was rehearsal pianist for a production of it way back when I was in sixth form – and because the tenor section were rubbish, I had to bang out their notes – so consequently that is the part I always end up singing along #randomfact

I was not wrong in my expectations, and this is a lovely, escapist, pleasant read – in a world where more of those are needed!

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Postcard by Zoe Folbigg

The Postcard

I’d seen this on Netgalley and it really appealed – but I realised it was a sequel, and I am a dyed in the wool rule follower – so went on a hunt for ‘The Note’ first!  I found it for free on Amazon and so quickly devoured – and enjoyed that first.  Now here is the blurb for The Postcard:

“A year after the kiss that brought them together in a snowy train-station doorway, Maya and James are embarking on another journey – this time around the world.
The trip starts promisingly, with an opulent and romantic Indian wedding. But as their travels continue, Maya fears that ‘love at first sight’ might not survive trains, planes and tuk tuks, especially when she realises that what she really wants is a baby, and James doesn’t feel the same.
Can Maya and James navigate their different hopes and dreams to stay together? Or is love at first sight just a myth after all… “

I read the first chapter and was completely confused and thought I’d been hoodwinked – as it was seemingly totally random!  However, it soon became evident that there were two stories running concurrently which I suspected would link up further on (which they did!)

As well as following Maya and Train Man’s story, and the story of Manon (the one I thought had hoodwinked me!) it also follows the story of Maya’s BFF, Nena, back in London who is starting life as a mother.  The inter connection of them all was done really well (and whilst I know the story of Maya and Train Man is true to life – I wondered how much of this, and the interconnecting stories, was too?)

The descriptions of places on Maya and James’s travels was great – and really evoked the feeling of being there (even if ‘there’ involved self administered colonics!!!) but equally Nena’s story – drowning in life with a newborn – was also really believable.

As with the first book in the series, it was an easy read that kept me intrigued and wanting to read on and I enjoyed it.

I was lucky enough to be given an advanced review copy from Netgalley – but you can buy this later this week!  (But I would recommend reading The Note first to appreciate The Postcard fully)

My 7 year old always asks what I’m reading – and so she knows it’s been The Note followed by The Postcard – so she’s been coming up with suggestions for the next book in the series – The Piece of Paper, The Book etc etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Note by Zoe Folbigg

The Note

 

I’d seen the book ‘The Postcard by Zoe Folbigg’ on Netgalley – but on further investigations saw this was a sequel to The Note – and I am a bit of a rule follower #understatement – so it didn’t seem right to start at the second book.  I hopped onto Amazon – and saw I could borrow it for free – so 2 books for nothing – on to a winner!!

Here’s the blurb:

“Love at first sight – based on the true story of one girl and her ‘train man’…
One very ordinary day, Maya Flowers sees a new commuter board her train to London, and suddenly the day isn’t ordinary at all. Maya knows immediately and irrevocably that he is The One.   Every day they go through the same routine; he with his head in a book and her dreaming of their happily-ever-after. But eventually, Maya plucks up the courage to give Train Man a note asking him out for a drink.
And so begins a story of sliding doors, missed opportunities and finding happiness where you least expect it. Based on the true story that everyone is talking about, The Note is an uplifting, life-affirming reminder that taking a chance can change everything… “

This is a lovely, easy, inoffensive read.  It follows the story of Maya and her friends and family – and ‘Train Man’! It twists and turns, and there are lots of ‘sliding doors’ moments – but it’s enjoyable throughout.  Given it’s based on a true story, and the author’s Amazon page says she now lives with Train Man and their kids – you kind of know it’s got to come good – but it certainly takes a convoluted way to get there!!

It was a fun, escapist read.  It’s not going to win any literary awards – but sometimes it’s good to read something light and fluffy that does exactly what it says on the tin.  And it was free from Amazon library or something (I am such a technophobe sometimes) so that’s got to be good!!

A perfect summer beach read.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Just Eat It by Laura Thomas PhD

Just Eat It

I saw this book recommended by Helen Thorn of The Scummy Mummies fame – who is also famous for her @HelenWearsASize18 insta posts, and the Fat Lot Of Good podcasts (I admit, I sound like a slightly stalkerish fan….).  She is a real advocate of body positivity – and uses the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards on a regular basis.   As I am very easily lead, I immediately bought the book (I have a number of times bought items of clothing Helen has been photographed wearing too #numberonefan).  I expected it to be funny, entertaining, sweary and interesting (pretty much sums up Helen too) – and the book is all of those things.  It’s also MASSIVE and FULL of references to medical studies etc.  I hadn’t expected quite so much content – and was surprised – but also delighted (as I am a total information geek at heart).

Here is the blurb on the book:

“Just Eat It isn’t just a book. It’s part of a movement to help us take back control over our bodies. To free us from restrictive dieting, disordered eating and punishing exercise. To reject the guilt and anxiety associated with eating and, ultimately, to help us feel good about ourselves.

This anti-diet guide from registered nutritionist Laura Thomas PhD can help you sort out your attitude to food and ditch punishing exercise routines. As a qualified practitioner of Intuitive Eating – a method that helps followers tune in to innate hunger and fullness cues – Thomas gives you the freedom to enjoy food on your own terms.

There are no rules: only simple, practical tools and exercises including mindfulness techniques to help you recognise physiological and emotional hunger, sample conversations with friends and colleagues, and magazine and blog critiques that call out diet culture.

So, have you ever been on a diet? Spent time worrying that you looked fat when you could have been doing something useful? Compared the size of your waistline to someone else’s? Felt guilt, actual guilt, about the serious crime of . . . eating a doughnut? You’re not alone. Just Eat It gives you everything you need to develop a more trusting, healthy relationship with food and your body.”

I started reading it with an open mind.  I had to concentrate quite hard as it’s quite medical and technical – it’s not a laugh a minute ‘just stuff your face with doughnuts’ that I was expecting – and this was a very pleasant surprise.  I also liked the fact that whilst the author is clearly incredibly well educated – she also isn’t averse to a bit of swearing – nutribollocks being a particular favourite!!

However, when I got to page 95 I was quite concerned that Laura Thomas could actually read my mind when she said:

“It becomes tempting to think that a diet will be the solution: maybe if you just lose Xlbs you’ll be happy with your body and then you can give this intuitive eating thing a go.  But here’s the thing. Dieting doesn’t fix poor body image.  It doesn’t heal your relationship with food.”

The stuff on intolerances was also really interesting – and I’d actually heard of some of this as my sister has done quite a lot of research into IcG and IcE readings – she lives in Germany where intolerance testing seems much more tolerated (pun intended!) in the mainstream than it is in the UK.

I also thought it really really interesting that the book is written by a nutritionist – but she is adamant that food is not medicine. To quote directly:

“Nutrition can play an important role in helping prevent and manage certain conditions, but so can exercise, reducing alcohol intake, getting better quality sleep, reducing stress, stopping smoking, being gifted genetically, having strong social bonds / community, therapy, not being poor (as though it was a simple choice), living somewhere that isn’t super polluted (again, like it’s a choice), oh yeah and ACTUAL MEDICINE.  Part of the issues with the food is medicine rhetoric is that it can inadvertently put people off seeking pharmacotherapies by creating a culture of shame around prescription medicines.  Antidepressants are a perfect example, there is so much stigma around them (and mental health more generally), yet for some people they are lifesaving.”

 I am so glad I read a hard copy of this book – there are a lot of corners folded over as there was so much I felt should be quoted in a review as it was just so insightful!  Although I possibly could just have regurgitated the entire book and this blog would be a sea of blue to show you how much I loved it!

Historically I have been successful at low carbing (successful being I lost weight from it………..) – and met lots of good friends through this way of eating – but I did LOVE LOVE LOVE the quote “And I mean this isn’t based on actual science, but there seems to be a direct correlation between being on a low-carb diet and being a complete prick on Twitter.” !!!

This way of eating also introduced me to a good friend who at one point was morbidly obese, and had many health conditions that all of the professionals said were as a result of her weight.  Over a number of years she lost a truly mind-blowing amount of weight due to bariatric surgery – but were her medical issues solved?  One was – but by no means all. Saying ‘you need to lose weight’ was the easy option that has now been taken away from her medics.

Whilst I’ve been reading the book, Laura Thomas has raised significant support against the Cancer Research UK ad campaign that obesity CAUSES cancer.  I have to say I agree that this run of adverts does leave a sour taste and perpetuates the fat shaming that is prevalent throughout society.  From personal anecdotal evidence, in the last few years 3 friends have died from cancers, and a further handful of friends have beaten the horrid disease. NONE OF THEM WERE OBESE. .  The full open letter from Laura Thomas and a bunch of other experts is here.

Chapter 9 stated that pigs are smarter than your average gym bro – and having just acquired 2 piglets I would have to concur.  Yes, when you feed them they stuff their faces and shovel up food like there’s no tomorrow – BUT – they know when to stop!  They don’t eat until they vomit, they don’t HAVE to finish the bowl of food.  These pigs are naturally intuitive eaters!

62407350_10157778057484363_4650191220574781440_n

The book looks at movement in a bigger body.  It talks about the fact that “There’s an enormous fat -phobic double standard in society, where fat people are ‘expected’ to work out (because fat people should want to lose weight, duh), yet are often excluded from the conversation around activity and not given access to the same tools and resources as thin people.  For example, not having sports bras or active wear available in your size.”  It also talks about larger people being embarrassed to eat in public as they expect people to judge them. I have to say I was embarrassed to be seen reading this book in public – as I expected people to read the title and assume I obviously had no problem with ‘just eating it’ given my size…………

BUT – it’s given me a lot to think about.  I finished reading this book whilst away for a few days with my husband.  I decided to give myself permission to EAT ALL THE FOOD. But this didn’t mean I went into a total binge-fest. Bizarrely, because I’d decided I could have anything – I didn’t drink creamy cocktails all day – I had the gin based cocktail that sounded (and tasted!) lush.  I ordered the steak and chips – but didn’t feel I had to clean my plate – and left a bit of both.  This was totally weird.  I was eating when I was hungry and until I felt full – not eating just because it was the right time of day, and not eating everything in front of me because I’d paid for it……..

I also posted a photo of myself in my swimming costume on social media.  It was when our eldest daughter had texted to say that her horses need new kit – as you can see, we both totally agreed!  This is me in a swimming costume. This is me who has carried 4 amazing babies. This is me who likes wine / chips / cake. THIS IS ME. (Full on Keala Settle at the side of the pool due to wine consumption in a very hot Dubai!!)

66451845_10157802658159363_5780892591616688128_n

My husband also commented that I walked around the swimming pool with way more confidence than I usually would (to be honest, this could have been a fast strut due to the ground burning my feet – but we’ll take the compliments when they come!)

This book has given me so much food for thought (pun deliberately intended again!).  I think I will revisit the book again and again – and will definitely investigate some of the recommended social media accounts and podcasts.  There is so much more to life than trying to fit into a smaller pair of knickers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper

I loved the debut novel ‘The Songs of Us‘ by Emma Cooper that was published last year – so when the publisher emailed to ask if I’d like an advanced review copy of her second book I jumped at the chance!

 

The First Time I Saw You

Here’s the blurb:

“Lost:
Six-foot-two Irish man who answers to the name Samuel McLaughlin. 
Has weak shins and enjoys show tunes.
If found, please return to Sophie Williams.
Before Sophie met Samuel she saw the world in grey. 
Before Samuel met Sophie, he never believed in love at first sight.
When they first meet, something tells them they are meant to be. 
But fate has other ideas.
Now they have lost each other and can’t see a way back. 
But they’ve already changed each other’s lives in more ways 
than they ever expected…”

I was slightly nervous before I started reading this that I wouldn’t love it as much as Emma Cooper’s first book – and that had a very distinct USP – and I wondered how she’d follow that – and if she’d have a ‘difficult second album’ issue going – but my fears were totally unfounded!

It starts off in Washington – somewhere the husband and I visited a couple of years ago – and whilst you don’t have to have been to enjoy the book, I loved imagining the places.  I also should confess that the fact Sophie is an accountant was very exciting – as that’s what I trained to do, and you don’t often get accountants as main characters.  I think I’ve mentioned before I’m still annoyed that the TV programmes This Life was based around lawyers rather than accountants – as we had a very similar life in the mid 90s!  Anyway – I digress…………

The book is told from Sophie and Samuel’s point of view week by week – so often you’re hearing the same story from the other person’s point of view – which is really clever.

The settings change – with Shropshire, Wales and Derry also featuring.  (Clearly I imagined Samuel’s family in Londonderry to be exactly like characters from the fabulous TV show ‘Derry Girls’) And one of my friends is going to be very excited that her home town of Machynlleth features!!  But the different geography provides excellent settings.

Rather than having one ‘Sliding Doors’ moment, there are multiple cases throughout the book where Sophie and Sam’s stars aren’t quite aligned – but I found that added to the pace of the book and really made me want to read on.

Whilst the book is based on the two main characters, their relationships with their families and friends are also explored.  I particularly liked the different relationships they had with their respective sisters.  Sam’s parents – Mr and Mrs McLaughlin – are lovely – and I think I might refer to the husband as Mr Price henceforth!

There are some big emotional themes running through the whole book – but without the unusual-ness of Melody’s singing from ‘The Songs of Us’ – and all are integral to the story.  I don’t want to include any spoilers by telling you what they are though……

The epilogue had me WEEPING last night – which seems to be the same effect all of Emma Cooper’s books have had on me – but that is definitely the sign of a good book.

All in all I would thoroughly recommend this book to everyone and anyone!

A big thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC.

 

 

Book Review: Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Then She Vanishes

I was emailed by the publisher to ask if I’d like to read this new thriller.  I’ve not read anything by Claire Douglas before, but the blurb appealed – so I said ‘yes please’!

Here is the aforementioned blurb:

“THE ONLY THING MORE SHOCKING THAN THE FIRST CHAPTER . . . IS THE LAST. .
Everything changed the night Flora Powell disappeared
Heather and Jess were best friends – until the night Heather’s sister vanished.
Jess has never forgiven herself for the lie she told that night.
Nor has Heather.
But now Heather is accused of an awful crime. And Jess is forced to return to the sleepy seaside town where they grew up, to ask the question she’s avoided for so long:
What really happened the night Flora disappeared?”

The book is set in the present day (well, actually 2012 – but it feels like the present day) and then back in the mid 90s.  It flicks between the two time periods really well – and totally evokes the feeling of that time.  I was a similar age to the characters in the 90s and the references – particularly to music and clothing were spot on!

The chapters are told from different characters perspectives which also keeps the momentum up.

It was one of those books that you want to read quickly to see how it all develops.  The twists and turns are so exciting.  Just when you think you’ve sussed what’s going on – another curved ball is thrown!  I can’t tell you too much about the plot without giving it away – and you need to be shocked as a reader as it unfolds!

The literary style is not high brow – but that didn’t matter to me – I just enjoyed the storyline and it’s fast pace.

The characters all had flaws – and sometimes you wanted to give some of them a good shake – but I was still interested to see what happened to them all – and the relationships between them.

The blurb had said the only thing more shocking than the first chapter is the last – and I have to say that because of that I’d kind of guessed what was going to happen – but only right near the end of the book.

Overall a great read and I would recommend downloading it when it comes out on Kindle next week.  I’ll also be checking out the authors back catalogue in the future.

A massive thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my advanced review copy in return for a review.