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Last One At The Party By Bethany Clint

Last One At The Party‘Last One At The Party’ is the debut novel by Bethany Clift.

The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself). But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own. Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.

To be honest, when I initially started reading this book, I found it a bit difficult and scary to get into. That’s purely because, the story is based around the woman being the sole survivor when an illness wipes out the world and she’s left alone with only a dog for company. With currently being in a pandemic and I did wonder about the publishers logic with thinking about the release of the book during a pandemic, but on reflection, in comparison to the illness called 6DM, life could be considerably worse.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of a woman, who’s name is never given as she tries to find civilisation outside London, stealing cars along the way hoping to find more survivors. Instead, she meets a scruffy Golden Retriever called Lucky, who offers her companionship and something to live for, whilst she tries to find a home and food for them.

Bethany is a great writer, she’s vivid with her descriptions, from the state of the world to the crippling death from 6DM which makes for horrific reading and occasionally I did find myself having to take a break from the gore, even though the sharp and snappy chapters did encourage me to keep going.

The woman has no name in the story, which is interesting as it made her relatable in a sense and it felt like the reader, themselves was the sole survivor. The story is written in past and present tense and this gives background to her and how she has become the woman that she is now. Her battles with mental health, her insecurity and fears and now she has to confront all these fears alone, as she deals with juggling between taking her own life or finding something to live for. She’a a strong and determined woman and her strength shines through with each challenge she’s faced with, when her phone dies, the electricity powers off or when she is faced with killer seagulls. The woman is a witty character and she delivers incredible one linters throughout, injecting some mirth into this dystopian tale.

Addictive, gory and filled to the brim with vomit and diarrhoea, ‘Last One At The Party’ is a fantastic debut. It’s a strangely uplifting and inspiring story about the end of the world that stays with the reader long after they reach the final page.

You can buy ‘Last One At The Party’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Asking For A Friend By Andi Osho

Asking For A Friend‘Asking For A Friend’ is the debut novel by Andi Osho.

Forty-something Jemima’s life is on track – well, sort of, she just need to bat her niggly ex away for good.Twenty-something Meagan is in the midst of her five-phase plan and is nearly ready for phase three: a relationship. While thirty-something Simi has had more it’s not yous than any I dos. These best friends decide it’s time to ditch the dating apps and play the love game by their own rules. They’re going to ask people out in real life…but only for each other. What could possibly go wrong?

If you’re looking for a book filled with sass and wit, then look no further as Andi’s debut novel delivers this plus much more.

The story is about about 3 best friends called Jemima, Simi and Meagan who are all at major turning points in their lives. Jemima is struggling with the third book in her mystery story, her editor wants romance but that area in Jemima’s life is obsolete, but once returning from America she meets Chance, a handsome Australian who loves her books. Simi is heartbroken after another failed relationship and Jemima and Meagan is there to pick up the pieces whilst recovering from heartbreak, Simi is trying to establish her acting career with the help of her best friend and agent, Meagan but like her love life is failing miserably. Meanwhile Meagan is enjoying having a casual relationship with Todd and avoiding any mention of a serious relationship. On a night out, the women decide that they are going to partners for each other and so starts the drama of dates, new beginnings and discovery about their friendship.

I really enjoyed this book, it’s fun, witty and packed with attitude that made for really delightful reading. The women are great characters with a great mix of personalities that really highlighted the dynamics of female relationships. I found myself really engaging with Jemima, as an aspiring author, I was drawn to her writing and the dilemma of finding stories for her characters, whereas Meagan was feisty with a real attitude that really made me admire her honesty. All characters had relatable traits, I even found myself sympathising with Simi and her struggles with relationship.

‘Asking For A Friend’ is a cleverly written and a fun packed story exploring the complexities of female relationship that made for witty and loud out reading.

You can buy ‘Asking For A Friend’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.

The Flipside By James Bailey

The Flipside‘The Flipside’ is the debut novel by James Bailey.

When Josh proposes in a pod on the London Eye at New Years’ Eve, he thinks it’s perfect. Until she says no. And they have to spend the next 29 excruciating minutes alone together. His life is falling apart. Realising he can’t trust his own judgment, Josh decides from now on he will make every decision through the flip of a coin. Maybe the coin will change his life forever. Maybe it will help him find the girl of his dreams.

I was raging with myself when I started this book late one evening, as soon as I started I was snorting throughout and knew it was going to be an enjoyable story. So, the following day I put some time aside to properly delve it and boy, was it worth it.

The story starts at the point that Josh proposes to his girlfriend called Jade, having booked a pod on the London Eye, he wants it to be a magical. But by the time he has stepped off the London Eye, he’s single, homeless and jobless. With his tail between his legs Josh leaves the busy streets of London for the pub quizzes of Bristol as he tries to get his life back in order with his best friends, Jake and Jessie and the help of a 50p coin that he is convinced will help him make the best decisions in his life. But whilst supporting Jessie taking part in the London Marathon, Josh runs into a woman who affectionately becomes known as ’Sunflower Girl’ as they met in an art gallery and with the aid of the 50p coin and his best friends, finds himself flying across Europe hoping to meet her again.

Right from the start, this book was a fun and fresh story and it’s refreshing to see a man writing about romance and Josh has done is superbly with, the witty dialogue, the colourful characters and the hilarious scenarios that Josh gets into dependent on the flip of the coin.

The characters are completely fun and relatable, where they were are a point in their lives where it’s expected to know who and what you want to do be doing with your life. Josh approaches this pressure and questions with humour and for this, made the book a charming read. His parents are equally as fun, with his buying shop bought Victoria Sponge but adding some more jam to prove the illusion that she made it herself and his dad was a regular Del Boy with scams and moneymaking ideas at every opportunity. One thing, I loved was the dynamics of Josh’s friendship with Jake and Jessie, I loved it when the friends got together as the banter between was always honest and fun, but even though they think Josh is mad with the 50p flipping, they support him and are there for him along the way.

There are many parts of this story that I enjoyed but I really loved accompanying on his search across Europe to find ’Sunflower Girl’ and when it took him to Paris, I loved the vivid descriptions of ‘Shakespeare and Company’, a wonderful bookshop that I also visited on my own visit to Paris, so reading these entries were a welcome return.

I loved this debut and the concept behind it and would love to read more about Josh and his friends as they embark on new adventures in their lives. A deliciously fun and fresh story which is a welcome distraction from what is going on in the world, ‘The Flip Side’ is a roller coaster of a story, or should I say a London Eye. Packed with banter, drama and a seriously cute rabbit called Jeremy, I found this quick witted and cleverly written book to be the perfect pick me up, no matter what side your coin falls on.

You can buy ‘The Flipside’ from Amazon for 99p on the Kindle Store and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 20th November 2020.

Cracked By Louise McCreesh

Cracked‘Cracked’ is by Louise McCreesh’s debut novel.

Jenny Nilson hasn’t seen her former psychiatrist Phillip since she left the Hillside Psychiatric Unit eight years ago. She wanted to forget everything about her time there, so she kept her secrets buried deep. Especially from her new husband. But now the police are knocking at her door with evidence of her involvement in Phillip’s death. It seems as though everything she’s kept hidden is about to spill out. Jenny desperately needs to speak to old friends, and old enemies, from those dark years. Because they are the only ones who know what really happened at Hillside, and about the dark secret that Phillip kept for them all – that this is not the first death.

Cracked is Louise McCreesh’s debut novel and pardon the pun, but it is quite the cracking read.

The story is written in the past and present tense and is seen through the narrative of Jenny, who was once a patient at Hillside Psychiatric Unit when she was a teenager. Now she’s married to a policeman, an aspiring journalist and her time in Hillside is a distant memory, until one of her therapists is brutally murdered and she has to face up to the life that she left behind.

It’s during her time at the unit, that something terrible happen and this tragedy creates a bond between Jenny and 6 other people who now in the present tense are all suspects in the brutal murder.

This is a cleverly crafted story with an interesting protagonist. Jenny is in Hillside after trying to take her own life and is trying to get to the root of her unhappiness, she’s friends with Tom, Tony, Heidi, Alicia and Olivia who are all struggling with their own demons and their problems make for upsetting reading as they lash out at each other and put each other down and throughout their narrative, you can feel their anguish and pain.

In the present tense, Jenny has to face up to the life that she hid from others particularly her husband and finds herself the centre of the case when her own case file goes missing from the unit.

The story is a tense and compelling rollercoaster of a book that is set against the backdrop of a psychiatric unit that does make for a desperate and bleak setting. With short and snappy chapters that pull the reader in and unreliable characters that makes everyone a suspect, ‘Cracked’ is a sensitive and poignant story about mental health, how fragile it is and how easily a person can crack.

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

The Octopus By Tess Little

The Octopus‘The Octopus’ is Tess Little’s debut novel.

When Elspeth arrives at her ex-husband’s LA mansion for his 50th birthday party, she’s expecting a crowd for the British film director. Instead, there are just seven other guests and Richard’s pet octopus, Persephone, watching over them from her tank. Come morning, Richard is dead. In the weeks that follow, each of the guests come under suspicion: the school friend, the studio producer, the actress, the actor, the new boyfriend, the manager, the cinematographer and the ex-wife, Elspeth herself. As stories of Richard’s past surface, colliding with Elspeth’s memories of their marriage, she begins to question not just who killed Richard, but why these eight guests were invited, and what sort of man would want to trap this mysterious, intelligent creature.

This book is a quirky whodunnit tale with an unlikely lead in a shape of an octopus.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of Elspeth and begins at the moment that she arrives at her ex husband’s 50th birthday. The party is a small one for the the narcissist and cruel man containing old and new friends and and old and new lovers. It’s whilst at this party that Richard dies and all 8 friends find themselves suspects in a crime.

The story flows back and forth in past and present tense. Flashbacks to when Elsapeth meets Richard and falls in love with the handsome director but only she knows his cruelty and need for perfection and when he hurts her one too many times, she flees with their only daughter called Lillie. Even though Richard subjected her to physical and mental abuse, Elsapeth always maintained that he was the perfect father and husband. Flashbacks not only feature the relationship between Elsapeth and Richard but also the night when Richard died and how everyone who attended that night all had motive to kill Richard.

Randomly in the background of all this drama, there lurks a huge Octopus called Persephone and her eerie presence throughout the story, really adds a chilling atmosphere to the story. She’s the only creature that really knows what happens that night.

The story is well crafted, fill a room with 8 people all with motives and throw in a great big hulking octopus and this will certainly grab the readers attention. Tess’s attention to detail is prevalent throughout the story and the level of research dedicated to octopus, was truly fascinating.

The past and present tenses to the story make for great reading, as Elsapeth deals with her own hatred for Richard and coming to terms with others, all whilst living in the public eye.

A story of murder, drama and suspense, with a stunning cover, The Octopus’ is an unique debut about the abuse of power and how easily a person can snap when forced.

You can pre-order ‘The Octopus’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 20th August 2020.