THE LAST LIBRARY by Freya Sampson

You can tell a lot about a person from the library books they borrow

Library assistant June knows a lot about the regulars at Chalcot Library, yet they know very little about her. When her mum – the beloved local librarian – passed away eight years ago, June stepped into her shoes. But despite their shared love of books, shy June has never felt she can live up to the village’s memory of her mum. Instead, she’s retreated into herself and her memories, surviving on Chinese takeaways-for-one and rereading their favourite books at home.

When the library is threatened with closure, a ragtag band of eccentric locals establish the Friends of Chalcot Library campaign. There’s gentlemanly pensioner Stanley, who visits the library for the computers and the crosswords, cantankerous Mrs B, who is yet to find a book she approves of, and teenager Chantal, who just wants a quiet place to study away from home. But can they compel reclusive June to join their cause?

If June wants to save the library, she finally has to make some changes to her life: opening up her heart to friendship, opportunities and maybe even more . . .


Title : The Last Library
Author : Freya Sampson
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Zaffre Books
Release Date : September 2, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Sense of community
Platonic feels brimming
Save the books!

This was a sweet contemporary fiction about a small town sense of community with a oddly mixed but comfortable bunch of characters. June was the lost soul at the centre of this tale, the librarian who had never got over her mother’s death, stuck in a kind of stasis.

June was definitely a likeable character with what seemed to be some social anxiety. She held herself back from life and sometimes that was frustrating but she had some people around her that gently nudged her from her comfortable spot.

I really loved Stanley and Alex. Stanley in particular had the most appealing storyline and he made my heart crumble. There were also some incredibly irritating characters, an aloof cat and lots of books to offset the annoying characters.

This was an easy contemporary read, low concentration needed and perfect for a weekend or day’s immersion.

Libraries are like a net, there to catch those of us in danger of falling through the cracks.

Thank you to Zaffre Books for the review copy.

WOULD I LIE TO YOU? by Aliya Ali-Afzal

From fresh new voice Aliya Ali-Afzal, Would I Lie to You? is a page-turning, warm and funny debut about what happens when you have your dream life – and are about to lose it.

At the school gates, Faiza fits in. It took a few years, but now the snobbish mothers who mistook her for the nanny treat her as one of their own. She’s learned to crack their subtle codes, speak their language of handbags and haircuts and discreet silver watches. You’d never guess, at the glamorous kids’ parties and the leisurely coffee mornings, that Faiza’s childhood was spent following her parents round the Tooting Cash ‘n’ Carry.

When her husband Tom loses his job in finance, he stays calm. Something will come along, and in the meantime, they can live off their savings. But Faiza starts to unravel. Raising the perfect family comes at a cost – and the money Tom put aside has gone. When Tom’s redundancy package ends, Faiza will have to tell him she’s spent it all.

Unless she doesn’t…

It only takes a second to lie to Tom. Now Faiza has six weeks to find £75,000 before her lie spirals out of control. If anyone can do it, Faiza can: she’s had to fight for what she has, and she’ll fight to keep it. But as the clock ticks down, and Faiza desperately tries to put things right, she has to ask herself: how much more should she sacrifice to protect her family?

A tense, funny and page-turning debut from a fresh new voice in fiction, Would I Lie to You? is perfect for readers of Adele Parks, Celeste Ng, and Kiley Reid.


Title : Would I Lie To You?
Author : Aliya Ali-Afzal
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 416
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Head of Zeus
Release Date : July 8, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
A house of cards
Spiral of lies
Social pressures

What a angsty read this was. Would I Lie To You plunged you into the privileged life of Faiza, Tom and their family. That privilege soon turned to difficulty in a spate of difficult life turns that brought the spotlight to all the things Aliya had been brushing under the carpet and hiding.

I have to say there were times I found the spiriling descent of Faiza’s desperation to cover things up pretty anxiety-provoking but I couldn’t look away. These changes in their family’s life was accompanied by a backdrop of social pressures, school tuition fees, older parents and job hunting.

Faiza was a character that in some ways was hard to like, but she had endearing characteristics that made you want to see her claw her way out of this hole she’d dug. There were events and experiences that she encountered with regards to her race and gender that were simply awful to read.

I would classify this as a women’s fiction/contemporary read that was sometimes suspenseful. The plot had depth and complexity and the characters were very well honed. If you’re looking for a read that keeps your attention with good pace, Would I Lie To You will meet your needs; it’s an impressive debut.

Thank you to Head of Zeus for the early review copy.

MALIBU RISING by Taylor Jenkins Reid

From the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six . . . Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over–especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud–because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own–including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.


Title : Malibu Rising
Author : Taylor Jenkins Reid
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Cornerstone Books
Release Date : May 27, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 2.5 star review

Headlines:
Family dysfunction
Sibling strength
Predictable storyline

I anticipate anything written by TJR, I’ve read all her books except one and enjoyed them, so I guess it was inevitable that one day, one would not hit the mark for me. I’m super sad I didn’t enjoy this and my experience is definitely an unpopular opinion but valid all the same.

This was a story told between two past eras, one was 1960s and the other was 1980s. At first, I didn’t like the 1960s but I did slip into it eventually. The story focused on the Riva family, a famous father, a damaged mother and siblings that stuck together.

This dead beat father was revolting in his apathy, he wasn’t a positive part of the story and his actions became unsurprising. I felt that eventually, this family were fighting against history repeating itself. The siblings themselves were resillient thanks to Nina who held centre stage.

This was a family saga, all told and unfortunately, it just didn’t appeal to me. The story direction became utterly predictable, so that I felt I just needed to see the story through. On ending, I didn’t feel much satisfaction, in fact, the ending felt a little to convenient for my taste.

There are triggers in this book galore and please look for the reviews that cite them or DM me for details.

Thank you to Cornerstone for the early review copy.

THE COUPLE by Helly Acton

Millie is a perfectionist. She’s happy, she’s successful and, with a great support network of friends and family (and a very grumpy cat), she’s never lonely. She loves working at a big tech firm and is on track be promoted to her dream role. The last thing she needs is romance messing up her perfectly organised world.

Besides, normal people just don’t have romantic relationships. Everyone knows that being in a couple is a bit . . . well, odd. You know, like having a pet snake or referring to yourself in the third person. Why rely on another person for your own happiness? Why risk the humiliation of unrequited love or the agony of a break-up? No, Millie is more than happy with her conventional single life.

So, when Millie lands a new project at work, launching a pill that prevents you falling in love, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. That is, until she starts working with Ben. He’s charming and funny, and Millie feels an instant connection to him.

Will Millie sacrifice everything she believes in for love?


Title : The Couple
Author : Helly Acton
Format : Paperback ARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Zaffre Books
Release Date : May 27, 2021

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
The war of singledom versus coupledom
Banter for days
A question of ethics

If you asked me what genre The Couple was, I’d describe it like this: rom-com/women’s fiction with side serving of dystopia. Have I read anything quite like it before? No. Did it deliver? Oh, yes.

Unusually, I’d recommend that you read the blurb before you start, otherwise you might not find your footing with the context easily because of that smattering of dystopia. I loved the context, the flipping on reality of singles and couples. I thought it was so clever to question the grand ethics of the world in this story and the idea of oxytocin. This was definitely a more feminist world than we live in.

Love is an illness. Love can make you miserable. Love can push you over the edge.

All that aside, the two characters at the fore, Millie and Ben brought a light and funny narrative. Ben especially was all the good guy you might need, alongside Millie’s cautious nature. Their friendship was fun and genuine and it was enjoyable to see changes happen. They had a natural chemistry and they had banter. The texting dialogue was amusing.

Helly Acton has a signature style of writing and is really good at telling an innovative story you can buy into. Fans of The Shelf won’t be disappointed with her second book.

I loke The Couple (not a typo).

Thank you to Zaffre Books for the review copy.

SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid

A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.


Title : Such A Fun Age
Author : Kiley Reid
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 310
Genre : Contemporary
Publisher : Bloomsbury
Release Date : January 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Messy, intricate plot
Who’s the baddie?
Characters to make your skin crawl
Thought provoking

I thought this was such a clever read, the plot was beautifully messy and it left the reader guessing and guessing at which side was the one to vouch for. One thing I knew from early on was that was that Emira was down to earth, humble and I needed her to come out of this in good shape.

Such a Fun Age was a hugely thought-provoking read. Overt racism started this story but more subtle and insiduous racism was what continued the story. I started by thinking that Kelley was a good guy but I found myself constantly questioning that. I thought Alix was icky from the start and I couldn’t shake off that feeling of discomfort and disingenuous characterisitics. Briar was a bright light in this book and her relationship with Emira was gorgeous.

One of the things that drove me mad (but was well written) was the infantilising of characters, calling one character in particular ‘girl’ when this person had done nothing but demonstrate their maturity. The sense of superiority of another character insensed me. The fetishisation theme felt important representation.

This book will leave you with questions, thoughts and some conclusions too. I found the writing engaging but it did take a little while to get into it; once I did, it was unputdownable. I definitely recommend this read to get you thinking and engaged with subtle behaviours of superiority and other issues that are so relevant to contemporary life.

THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS by Jodi Picoult

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She’s on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband, but a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, her beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, where she helps ease the transition between life and death for patients in hospice.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a job she once studied for, but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation wherever they want to go. The obvious option for Dawn is to continue down the path she is on and go home to her family. The other is to return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways–the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn’s two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried beside them. Dawn must confront the questions she’s never truly asked: What does a life well-lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices…or do our choices make us? And who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are right now?


Title : The Book of Two Ways
Author : Jodi Picoult
Format : eARC
Page Count : 416
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date : October 20, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ 


Micky’s 2 – 2.5 star review

This was a very frustrating read for me. I intially liked the story and the concept but over the first half, I became disillusioned with the plot and the over academic approach to the Egyptology storyline. As the title indicates, The Book of Two Ways narrates two diverging stories or possibilities for Dawn.

Dawn was a death doula and having some insight into this role through my professional life, I can say that this aspect of the story was well researched. However, I prefer not to be immersed in death and dying in fiction because it consumes a lot of my day job, so that may explain my dislike in part. I didn’t love the storyline of Win because of the reasons I’ve just explained.

I did enjoy parts of the Egypt timeline/storyline but I think readers will either love or hate this because again, it is written is significant academic depth which isn’t really what you expect of women’s fiction. What I did like was Dawn as a character, a women who’d lost her way and identity. I didn’t always like her choices but I did champion her and Wyatt.

I tend to either love or dislike Jodi Picoult’s books and unfortunately this one was the latter. I’m really interested to hear other people’s thoughts on this though.

BLOG TOUR – THIS GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND by Ayesha Malik

Everyone has a place they call home. But who gets to decide where you belong?

For years Bilal Hasham and his wife Mariam have lived contented, quiet lives in the sleepy rural village of Babbel’s End. Now all that is about to change.

On her deathbed, Bilal’s mother reaches for his hand. Instead of whispering her final prayers, she gives him a task: build a mosque in his country village.

Mariam is horrified by Bilal’s plan. His friends and neighbours are unnerved. As outrage sweeps Babbel’s End, battle lines are drawn. His mother’s dying wish reveals deeper divisions in their village than Bilal had ever imagined.

Soon Bilal is forced to choose between community and identity, between faith and friendship, between honouring his beloved mother’s last wish and preserving what is held dear in the place that he calls home.


Title : This Green and Pleasant Land
Author : Ayisha Malik
Format : eARC/ALC
Page Count : 464
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Zaffre
Release Date : October 1, 2020 (paperback)

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

This was a poignant, real and sometimes witty story about legacy, identity, community separation and togetherness. THIS GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND centred on community and family. This was an own voices exploration of muslim main characters navigating an often stuffy English village life. It was enjoyable and kept my attention most of the time.

Bilal and his family were navigating a recent bereavement, deathbed promises and guilt built on top of that legacy. Bilal decided that this promise to build a mosque in his little patch of England would be followed through and the journey to seeing this to fruition was the meat of this story. The characters around Bilal, his family, his community connections were witty and rich, full of prejudice and yet sometimes supportive. These characters were an eclectic mix and some were just plain eccentric.

What engaged me most was the laughs it brought to me as I identified with the struggles that Bilal had with the people around him and just how hard this goal would be to achieve. The descriptions and dialogue were rich and vibrant. The story gentle wove the familial and community philosophies, prejudices and politics into everyday life; just as it really is. An enjoyable read.

I had a eARC and audio review copy and so I did a combination read of both. The narration was good throughout and captured the nuances of the characters and dialogue, so I would recommend both formats.

Thank you to Compulsive Readers Tours and Zaffre for the early review copies.

THE RETURN by Nicholas Sparks

#1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with a moving new novel about an injured army doctor and the two women whose secrets will change the course of his life.

Trevor Benson never intended to move back to New Bern, North Carolina. But when a mortar blast outside the hospital where he worked as an orthopedic surgeon sent him home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries, the dilapidated cabin he’d inherited from his grandfather seemed as good a place to regroup as any.

Tending to his grandfather’s beloved bee hives while preparing for a second stint in medical school, Trevor isn’t prepared to fall in love with a local . . . yet, from their very first encounter, Trevor feels a connection with deputy sheriff Natalie Masterson that he can’t ignore. But even as she seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains frustratingly distant, making Trevor wonder what she’s hiding.

Further complicating his stay in New Bern is the presence of a sullen teenage girl, Callie, who lives in the trailer park down the road. Claiming to be 17, she works at the local sundries store and keeps to herself. Discovering that she was once befriended by his grandfather, Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances of his grandfather’s death, but she offers few clues – until a crisis triggers a race that will uncover the true nature of Callie’s past, one more intertwined with the elderly man’s passing than Trevor could have ever anticipated.

In his quest to unravel Natalie and Callie’s secrets, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness . . . and that in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.


Title : The Return
Author : Nicholas Sparks
Format : eARC
Page Count : 296
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Sphere
Release Date : September 29, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Nicholas Sparks excels on the quirky, small-town feel with this book. He created some rather ordinary characters, at first glance uninteresting and at second glance, they were everything I wanted to read.

The protagonist Trevor, recovering veteran and retired doctor had a life that was secluded, involved focus on recovery, health and bees. Bees…honestly, I adored this aspect of the story, the foundation and focus it brought to all the characters in the book . And my favourite character? Trevor’s grandpa, what a man. Alongside Trevor, there were a small cast of characters and they were all interesting, especially Natalie and Callie.

This was a story of why a loved one died mid-adventure and what he was up to, who was Callie and why was she so closed up and why was Natalie the way she was. It was a tale cleverly woven together, I felt like I almost got there with some of my guesses but they were just out of reach. When the reveals came, I was all ‘oh my’.

I actually only acrued two cry counts for this Sparksy. I don’t cry easily at books but Sparks can usually eek out a little more from me. That said, I was glad not to be a weeping wreck.

THE RETURN was a generally enjoyable, quirky, small-town story with grief, illness, bees, romance and that signature lament. It was pretty wholesome and it left a good feeling on completion.

Thank you to Sphere, Little Brown UK for the early review copy.

DEAR EMMIE BLUE by Lia Louis

In this charming and poignant novel, teenager Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky, only to fall head-over-heels for the boy who finds it; now, fourteen years later, the one thing Emmie has been counting on is gone for good, and everything she planned is up in the air.

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? A story filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over


Title : Dear Emmie Blue
Author : Lia Louis
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : Women’s Fiction
Publisher : Trapeze Books
Release Date : August 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

This is my summer read of 2020. FACT.

I picked up this DEAR EMMIE BLUE and I could not put it down, at all. Okay, there were moments to pause, look at the wall and process my feelings but that was the only break I took. This book had a light start followed a sneak attack of of more serious themes that were all fabulous-ness. DEAR EMMIE BLUE had characters to cling onto, a story that sunk me into immersion and it was one that made me hope like mad for Emmie.

At first, Emmie made me wonder if she was weak, a sap, the loyal friend being trampled on. Little did I know Emmie, because as I grew to know her better, she had such depth of spirit, a fighting character and that loyalty of hers was amazing. I came to adore her, cheer for her and want the best of things for her.

Emmie had a very quiet and hard working life, an absolute mess of parental proportions and a past trauma to navigate. She was supported in all things by Lucas and the Moreau family as a whole, but Lucas’ brother was a loyal friend, in the background, full of integrity. I’m saying nothing more because the whole story is orientated around these friendships. The story is rich, deep and wonderful with a good slice of heartache.

DEAR EMMIE BLUE had me feeling all the emotions, brimming over my kindle, onto my tissue (at times) and into my friend’s DMs. This book was written so well, so balanced with character development to die for, story to be wrapped up in and all of the feels. I am completely bowled over by it and I want to sing from the rooftops about how good it is. So good, you just have to read and discover it for yourself. Lia Louis wrote beautifully, realistically and with heart, I am dying to devour more from her.

Don’t come into this expecting all light, come in to this and fasten your seat belt…you won’t regret it.

Thank you to Trapeze Books for the early review copy.

THE SHELF by Helly Acton


Everyone in Amy’s life seems to be getting married (or so Instagram tells her), and she feels like she’s falling behind.

So, when her boyfriend surprises her with a dream holiday to a mystery destination, she thinks this is it — he’s going to finally pop the Big Question. But the dream turns into a nightmare when she finds herself on the set of a Big Brother-style reality television show, The Shelf.

Along with five other women, Amy is dumped live on TV and must compete in a series of humiliating and obnoxious tasks in the hope of being crowned ‘The Keeper’.

Will Amy’s time on the show make her realise there are worse things in life than being left on the shelf?

A funny, feminist and all-too-relatable novel about our obsession with coupling up, settling down and the battle we all have with accepting ourselves, The Shelf introduces the freshest new voice in women’s fiction. 


Title : The Shelf
Author : Helly Acton
Narrator : Daisy Edgar-Jones
Format : eARC/audio
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Release Date : July 9, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I didn’t expect to enjoy this one as much as I did considering I’m not a fan of reality shows but with the protagonist, Amy as an insider and almost a victim of the show, this was super clever. A great concept, good writing and fantastic narration, THE SHELF turned out to be a winner for me.

I mostly listened to the audio on this one but also a little ebook (ARC) too at night when I just had to carry on with the story. This story is a woman in a relationship’s worst nightmare of dumping alongside a reality TV show. It provoked some serious irritation in me on behalf of Amy but this was an unfolding story, with character development and resilience to come. It was also a story of sisterhood and I really appreciated that.

What stopped this from feeling a too tragic or morose was the with which Helly Acton told the story. Amy had an awakening and with that came a more quippy character who could laugh at herself and her outlook on life. I love a flawed character (aren’t we all) and Amy delivered on that. I would have loved to have known a bit more about the red flag development in the epilogue. The other characters in the house brought a fair bit of hilarity.

What was a constant theme was the misogyny underwriting the whole of the TV show, get ready to feel irritated and incensed by that. I have to admit the whole time I was listening, I was imagining the big brother house and that helped me.

The narration was exceptional and if you’re a fan of Normal People from Netflix you will recognise Daisy Edgar-Jones voice. She brought character, tonation and spirit to this listen and she brought the characters alive.

I’m not 100% certain what genre to call it but I’m not sure that’s important, however I’d go with contemporary women’s fiction. It’s definitely a read to pick up and a great debut from Helly Acton.

Thank you to Bonnier Books for the ALC.