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Just Between Friends By Rosie Nixon

Just Between Friends‘Just Between Friends’ is the latest book by Rosie Nixon.

Aisha Moore is eight months pregnant. She’s thrilled, and a little scared. Not least because her husband Jason hasn’t quite wrapped his head around the fact. Lucy is having her first child too. She has finally got her wish – although the circumstances aren’t quite what she had hoped. Oscar will be a great dad though, won’t he? When the two women join the same baby group, they quickly become friends and before long they’re confiding in each other. Only there’s one thing Lucy hasn’t told Aisha. And while a baby may turn your life upside-down, a secret this big will change everything.

This is the second book that I’ve read by Rosie Nixon and I must admit it was a really interesting and completely different from her previous book called ‘The Stylist’.

The story is seen through the narrative of 2 first time mothers called Aisha and Lucy who meet at a Baby Group and become friends on this shared journey of becoming first time mothers. Aisha is happily married to Jason who’s longed for a child for a number of years, whilst Lucy conceived her baby through IVF whilst being broken up from her partner.

Both women have different stories and are coping differently to the new changes in their lives. It’s fascinating to read they’re perceptions are off each other. Aisha sees Lucy as glamorous and Lucy is envious of how easily Aisha has adapted to motherhood and how placid her baby is compared to Lucy’s little boy.

This book is completely different to Rosie’s previous books, which are always lighthearted and escapist story. ‘Just Between Friends’ is a deep exploration of relationships and there was a sense of suspense and unease that weaved seamlessly through each page.

There’s an underlying twist in the story, that was great to read, I guessed part of it but wasn’t completely right, so that made the book a far from predictable read.

The characters are relatable and interesting to read, as we joined them on their first trip into motherhood. Although the story is primarily a suspense story, there are elements of humour and wit in the story when the women meet for the first time at their baby group. The leader of the class is an outspoken and opinionated character who was prone to shouting “vagina”.

A smart and engaging story that is riddled with drama, secrets and dirty nappies, ‘Just Between Friends’ is a sharp and witty story that made for compelling reading with every snappy chapter.

You can pre-order ‘Just Between Friends’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops from 12th November 2020.

Mixed Up By Tineka Smith and Alex Court

Mixed UpTineka Smith always knew that growing up Black in America meant certain restrictions. Don’t talk back to white people; expect to be stopped by the police; always be on your guard. So, when she moved to the UK – and fell in love with Alex Court, a white man – she wondered if things might be different. When Alex proposed to Tineka, it was the easiest decision in the world. What he didn’t anticipate was the reaction – sometimes subtle, sometimes overt – from friends and strangers alike. Nor did he expect to have to think about Tineka’s race, and his own white privilege, every single day. Tineka has always felt the burden of calling out and educating people, only now she has to teach her new husband at the same time – asking him to see, hear and think with a new perspective about the things he had never noticed before. But what does this mean for Tineka and Alex’s relationship? With anecdotes, analysis and honest conversations, Mixed Up has the pair attempting to navigate their new and challenging world, confronting race and relationships in the 21st century head on.

‘Mixed Up’ is the first book that I’ve listened to on Audible and it was a book that triggered a lot of thoughts and emotions on my daily commute.

It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a difficult year with the pandemic that has taken over the world but it’s also the year that there has been a more prominent shift in attitudes of what it means to be a person of colour in the 21st century.

With the deaths of George Flloyd and Breonna Taylor, people are standing up for the treatment of black people and protesting for equality across the world.

This book could have easily been a love story, boy meets girl, fall in love and live happily ever after, but instead this book is frustrating of acceptance, racism and denial.

The book is seen through the narrative of interracial married couple Tineka Smith and Alex Court and they discuss honestly and frankly the complexities and racism that they have experienced in their relationship.

They give their opinions on situations that they have been in, the different perspectives and why they chose to behave in the way that they did and this, honestly makes for interesting and frustrating listening.

I think the stories that particularly effected me where the interactions between Tineka and Alex, when she felt he didn’t support her and me as a woman, I also felt that way. I was frustrated and disappointed that he didn’t support her on the train when an elderly woman questioned the way, she was sitting and when a supposed friend, critiqued her work ethic and Alex didn’t back her then. It’s interesting listening to them talk about those situations and how they both reacted in the way that they did and their own version of events.

I felt such sympathy for Tineka, as a woman we’re already being judged on our gender but for her, she also has to deal with being a black woman and falling in love with a white man. Her stories are hard hitting and honest and it makes for fascinating listening as she challenges Alex on his behaviour and he acknowledges that he should have behaved differently in certain scenarios. Tineka is not only receiving judgement from white people, but also people from her own race when a black man spat on her after seeing her kiss her white husband.

Hard-hitting and showing that the 21st century is still from far accepting the reality of interracial couples’. Mixed Up’ gives a sad and frustrating insight into the consequences of an interracial relationship, the judgement and the questions that they face and highlights the easier life that people in a same race couple easily take for granted.

You can buy ‘Mixed Up’ from Amazon

Parents And Teachers By Sarra Madderson

Parents And Teachers‘Parents And Teachers’ is the latest book by Sarra Madderson.

At two of London’s most exclusive prep schools, there are strict rules against parents fraternising with teachers. Well, that’s the theory, in any case. Jenna, a Year 3 teacher at St Cuthbert’s, catches the eye of the school’s highest-profile parent, a world-famous action movie star, with far-reaching consequences. Meanwhile, over at Chiltern House, Astrid is still licking her wounds after her husband left her. Her daughter’s PE teacher, Callum, may be her best chance of rediscovering her joie de vivre.
Astrid’s friend Natalia, whose life revolves around motherhood these days, finds herself questioning everything she’s taken for granted when her husband becomes embroiled in a #MeToo scandal. Really, the only ones behaving themselves are the kids …

If you’re a looking for a saucy read on these cold nights, then look no further as ‘Parents and Teachers’ is a hot treat!

This is the second that I’ve read by Sarra Madderson in recent months after devouring ‘Food for Thought’ in one sitting and this latest book was just as glorious.

The story is primarily seen through the narrative of 3 women, 2 are mothers with daughters at St Cuthbert’s and the other is a teacher and they are all breaking one cardinal sin – they are all committing sins.

Jenna is one of the most loved teachers at the school and her head has been turned by the arrival of Hollywood star Jackson Chapman who’s little boy called Rollo is in her class, she falls for Jackson’s charm. After her husband Mark broke her heart, Astrid has never been with another man but then PE teacher Callum Pearce wins her over with his dashing looks and Irish charm, Astrid begins to live again. Finally Natalia runs a busy home whilst her husband Lorenzo brings home the bacon but when he’s suspended for making unwanted sexual advances towards female staff, she begins to question their relationship and just what a type of man she has married.

I loved this book, the characters are great particularly Callum with his rogue behaviour and Irish wit. I enjoyed his interaction with Astrid and how he helped rebuild her confidence even though she’s already a beautiful successful fashion designer, but she’s lost sight of herself due to her husband’s infidelity. Natalia’s story is a harsh reminder of the #MeToo movement and how men think it’s perfectly fine to behave in a predatory fashion around women. I liked Jenna as she got the opportunity to fulfil most people’s fantasy of being with a celebrity and an attractive one at that!

‘Parents and Teachers’ is a deliciously fun and scandalous story that delivers the perfect distraction from the impending lockdown. Filled with risqué moments, wit and glorious characters, this book is a must for fans of Jilly Cooper and Fiona Walker.

You can buy ‘Parents And Teachers’ from Amazon

The Pretenders By Agatha Zaza

The Pretenders‘The Pretenders’ is the latest book by Agatha Zaza.

Jasper is ready to surprise his brother; Holly is ready to celebrate their engagement. Anne tags along for fear of missing out, and John might just be going for another drink. But Edmund and Ovidia had other plans for their Saturday. Over the course of one day, these couples must own up to the secrets they’ve been hiding from one another and the lies they’ve been telling themselves. And face the devastating consequences.

It’s difficult to go into a lot of detail about this book as it’s quite easy to give a lot away.

It’s seen from the perspective of Edward and Ovidia, they are at a crossroad in their relationship. After many years together, they have been faced with a situation that has made them doubt through the strength of their relationship, as well as on this particular day, they have to make a difficult decision.

But on this day, Edward’s younger brother, Jasper has called around to share the exciting news of becoming newly engaged to Holly. Included in this day of celebrations is Anne and John, who are friends of the brothers. But the day quickly becomes sour when Jasper discovers that Edward is seeing Ovidia, the famous ex who broke Jasper’s heart who Holly only recently healed. This makes the already tense and sad day, a more complex and dramatic meeting.

The characters are intriguing in this story. I warmed to Edward with his quiet intensity and love towards Ovidia that he’s trying to hold back from. I deplored Jasper, he’s self absorbed and as the story progresses, he gets even more narcissistic and absorbed in his problems rather than those around him. His relationship with Edward is complicated, although Edward sees out for his brother and wants to protect him, Jasper is caught up in his own drama that he is unable to see beyond his own jury and recognise his brother’s psi and this makes for upsetting reading as Jasper seemed unaware of other people’s pain.

Ovidia is an interesting person, she paints a different character behind closed doors and it’s evident that like Edward, she is also struggling. Other supporting characters in the story make for interesting reading as Anne wonders about her own relationship and Holly is questioning her love for Jasper.

I was hooked from the start with this book, with each chapter, a new secret is revealed making this bold and dramatic debut a shocking noir. Brilliantly written and heartbreakingly honest, ‘The Pretenders’ is a compelling and reflective debut that touches on love, relationships and recovering from domestic violence that made for tender and upsetting reading in parts. This family drama had me enthralled from the first page.

You can pre-order ‘The Pretenders’ from Amazon and will be available from good bookshops from 5th November 2020.

Inside Out By Chris McGeorge

Inside Out‘Inside Out’ is the latest book by Chris McGeorge.

Cara Lockhart has just commenced a life sentence in HMP North Fern – the newest maximum security women’s prison in the country. She was convicted of a crime she is adamant she didn’t commit. One morning she wakes up to find her cellmate murdered – shot in the head with a gun that is missing. The door was locked all night, which makes Cara the only suspect. Cara needs to clear her name, unravelling an impossible case, with an investigation governed by a prison timetable. But as Cara starts to learn more about North Fern and the predicament she is in, she finds connections between the past and present that she never could have imagined. Indeed it seems that her conviction and her current situation might be linked in very strange ways.

I spent today reading ‘Inside Out’ and I have to admit it’s one of the best crime thrillers that I’ve read in a while, with so many twists weaved throughout that I was unable to put it down.

The story is primarily about Cara who’s just been moved to a new prison facility called North Fern. It’s a new concept prison with out actual access to the outdoors with screens projecting fake sunshine and the outside. But Cara and her cellmate Barnard are convinced that there’s something sinister at work at North Fern and when Barnard is found dead, all fingers point to Cara, even though she is innocent. Cara is trying to prove her innocence as well as stay away from the other inmates who hate her for her alleged crime.

Cara is an interesting character, she’s quiet and keeps to herself. She’s known as ‘The Butcher’ for brutally killing 2 children, even though she’s always denied it. Other inmates turn on her or fear her for her crimes.

I loved this story, it’s so chillingly written with creepy characters and horrible scenes of mental torture and hallucinations that made for unsettling reading. Every Saturday, the inmates were made watch the same film for movie night called ‘Rain on Elmore Street’ and the distress was evident on each page of how this ordeal made them feel.

The story is seen from the perspective of other characters and this really pulls the story together in the end and has led Cara to the situation that she’s in.

A fantastic thriller with unreliable characters and narratives that really pulled the reader in. ‘Inside Out’ is a complex and cleverly crafted book that is a real page turner and was impossible to put down until I reached the final page.

You can pre-order ‘Inside Out’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 29th October.