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The Split By Laura Kay

The Split‘The Split’ is the latest book by Laura Kay.

Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless… but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily’s cat. After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again.

I started this book last night and I reluctantly had to put when I had to go to bed.

This debut even though it’s about heartbreak is fun, uplifting and incredibly warm-hearted.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Al and begins at the moment that her girlfriend Emily breaks up with her. Heartbroken, Al returns home to Sheffield with Malcolm the cat for company, even though he’s technically Emily’s cat.

Back under her dad’s roof, Al is at a loss at what to do next with her life, disinterested in a career, her passion is for baking and is delighted when an opportunity to work in a bakery arises. Her childhood friend Jeremy is also recovering from heartbreak after his boyfriend broke up with him. Together, they find solace in each others pain and decide the best way to get over heartbreak is to do a 13 mile marathon even though they’ve never ran a day in their lives. It’s through running that Al, meets Jo and thinks that she might help with the heartbreak and distract her from emailing Emily.

I adored this book with all my heart, it’s a genuine love story and life affirming book all rolled into one. I loved Al, she’s kind, witty and has a lovely nature. I loved her interaction with Jeremy, their banter and support for each other when things got tough. I enjoyed their nostalgia journeys as they reminisced their school years and struggling with their sexuality.

Laura has written a wonderful story, flowing at a lovely pace with relatable characters and scenarios and eager dogs and moody cats. I loved this book from start to finish, wonderfully written ‘The Split’ is a fantastic debut about recovering from heartbreak and finding yourself along the way. I thoroughly recommend this book and fully understand why it’s one of Quercus’ lead debuts of 2021.

You can pre-order ‘The Split’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 18th March 2021.

Space Hopper By Helen Fisher

Space Hopper‘Space Hopper’ is Helen Fisher’s debut novel.

Although Faye is happy with her life, the loss of her mother as a child weighs on her mind even more now that she is a mother herself. So she is amazed when, in an extraordinary turn of events, she finds herself back in her childhood home in the 1970s. Faced with the chance to finally seek answers to her questions – but away from her own family – how much is she willing to give up for another moment with her mother?

Helen’s debut novel is a beautifully written story about about new beginnings and second chances.

When Fay discovers an old box of memories in the attic which results in a strange accident, she finds herself reliving her life and getting to see her mother who died when she was only 8.

This book is a beautiful story that really strikes a chord with the reader. Fay is a wonderful character, she’s kind with a huge heart but misses her mother greatly and relishes on the opportunity to relive her life and spend some more time with her. The story is a tender box and the main character being the the Space Hopper box that has travelled with her through the years filled with memories and photographs of happy times.

Beautifully written and heartfelt with poignancy and tender moments throughout, ‘Space Hopper’ is a bittersweet story about grief, love and made for genuinely uplifting reading.

You can buy ‘Space Hopper’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Girl A By Abigail Dean

Girl A ‘Girl A’ is the debut novel by Abigail Denton and highly anticipated book from Harper Collins.

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

‘Girl A’ is the highly anticipated debut from Abigail Dean and it’s Harper Collins big book of 2021. During the week, Harper Collins had its fiction showcase and front and centre was ‘Girl A’ with Abigail Dean excitedly announcing that the book was being optioned for a series having caught the attention of the people behind the hit television series’Chernobyl’.

I spent last weekend absorbed in this dark and gripping story that made for unsettling reading at times.

The story is primarily seen through the narrative of Girl A who is Alex Gracie, the eldest daughter in the Gracie family, who was the first to escape her controlling and abusive parents. She then brought the rest of her siblings to safety. Now, 20 years later, after years in prison her mother has died leaving her estate to Gracie to sort. Now, Gracie has to make contact with her siblings who all sent to new homes when they were rescued and decide what to do with the old family homestead.

I loved this story and can truly understand the hype that comes along with it. Alex is a great protagonist telling the story of her siblings, both in past and present tense that makes for thrilling and disturbing reading as she recounts the physical, emotional and psychological that her deeply religious father inflicted upon the family, whilst her mother detached herself from the situation. Through starvation and chained to beds, this book detailed horrific manners of abuse that makes the book fascinating to read. The story reflects on the how the children have adapted their lives, some have never recovered from the trauma whilst others have used the situation to their advantage being from the ‘House of Horrors’ family, claiming celebrity status. Of the siblings Lex, Ethan, Delilah, Gabriel, Noah and Evie, Lex has maintained a strong relationship with her youngest sister Evie and its makes for tender reading their moments together, both in the past and present.

A fantastic piece of writing that really gets under the reader’s skin, ‘Girl A’ is haunting psychological thriller that pulls you in more with every page. With twists, shock and scenes of a sensitive nature, this book will be your next book obsession.

You can buy ‘Girl A’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Chalet By Catherine Cooper

The Chalet‘The Chalet’ is the debut novel by Catherine Cooper.

French Alps, 1998. Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns. 20 years later. Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting. Someone knows what really happened that day.

Catherine’s debut novel is a fast paced and action packed novel that made chilling reading.

The story is written in past and present sequences leading up to the discovery of a body in the French Alps. This all happens when Ria and her husband Hugo are there, when Hugo is trying to encourage new clients with his holiday business. He’s deeply in love with his wife Ria, but Ria isn’t as committed as he is and sees the life as more of an convenience.

There are multiple narratives in the story and one of the narratives is particularly interesting as they aren’t revealed but they have a huge role in the story and throughout the story. I’m found myself trying to guess scenarios and culprits and was pleasantly that each time I was wrong, proving this is far from a predictable story.

There’s a wide range of personalities in the story and Catherine has a skill of creating multiple dislikable characters that make for sad and unsettling reading.

Chillingly written and a book that I consumed in one seating, ‘The Chalet’ is a claustrophobic and atmospheric story that was a thrilling adrenaline journey from the very beginning.

You can buy ‘The Chalet’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

If I Had Your Face By Frances Cha

If I Had Your Face‘If I Had Your Face’ is the debut book by Frances Cha.

Navigating this hyper-competitive city are four young women balancing on the razor-edge of survival: Kyuri, an exquisitely beautiful woman whose hard-won status at an exclusive ‘room salon’ is threatened by an impulsive mistake with a client; her flatmate Miho, an orphan who wins a scholarship to a prestigious art school in New York, where her life becomes tragically enmeshed with the super-wealthy offspring of the Korean elite; Wonna, their neighbour, pregnant with a child that she and her husband have no idea how they will afford to raise in a fiercely competitive economy; and Ara, a hair stylist living down the hall, whose infatuation with a fresh-faced K-Pop star drives her to violent extremes.

Over the last while, I’ve developed a bit of an interest in the Korean culture, particularly the K Pop genre and the obsession with achieving perfection physically. So, when I was offered the chance to read a book about Korea and the culture, I jumped at the opportunity.

The story is seen through the narrative of 4 women who all live in the same building. 3 of them are friends, Ara, Kyuri and Miho are friends whilst Wonna lives in the apartment below them.

Ara is a mute hair stylist, who lost her hearing in an attack, Kyuri is a room salon girl who entertains men at bars, pouring drinks and making them feel welcome as well as other job requirements, Miho is an aspiring artist who’s returned from studying in America with her boyfriend and Wonna is a terrified first time mother.

The story flows between the friendships and the neighbour, seamlessly going from each narrative only to come together neatly in the end.

The story is beautifully written with vivid descriptions of the town, the fashion and women themselves, Frances has a stunning flow with her writing that conjures up imagery with her descriptions.

The characters are wonderful to read and all flawed in their own way but all striving for perfection. Although Ara is unable to speak, she is one of the most sought after stylists. Although she appears meek, she is quick to write down her viewpoint. Kyuri is stunning, having created the perfect version of herself, she wishes for love, but sadly it is unrequited. Miho has used the death of her friend to make her art, she’s a bohemian character with a free whilst Wonna comes across as quite an unlikeable character who’s cold towards her husband, but she’s terrified of losing her baby and puts all her emotions into the baby.

I loved this story, from the vivid imagery, the characters and the dialogue, I was enthralled by it all. It was fascinating to read the extent of which women will go to achieve perfection, from the surgeries to the changing colour of the skin. It was also equally sad to read how much pressure they were under in their physical appearance as well as the traditional pressure of settling down and becoming a wife and mother.

With a cover that is my favourite of 2020, ‘If I Had Your Face’ is an unique tale. Observational and insightful, this book is a compelling debut that is culturally fascinating to read.

You can buy ‘If I Had Your Face’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.