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What Fresh Hell By Lucy Vine

What Fresh Hell‘What Fresh Hell’ is by Lucy Vine.

Meet Lilah Fox. She’s on the hen do from hell. Then she gets a message (44 of them, actually) from her best friend with big news: she’s getting married in six months. Oh, and Lilah’s her maid of honour. Which means she just got signed up for.

Lucy Vine is a relatively new author for me, I’ve read 2 of her books and have 2 more of her books to look forward to reading.

In this book we meet Lilah, who’s at the age where her life is filled with weddings and hen weekends, her bank account is being drained due to wedding gifts and the constant question being directed at her is when she will she be next? Her once laid back best friend has announced her wedding in 6 months and is determined that Lilah will make it the best wedding ever.

I adore Lucy’s books, her books read like a spokesperson for women of a certain age, where marriage and settling down is expected not trying to get further in their career and enjoying being single and child free.

Her writing is fresh and honest and makes for instantly relatable reading that is easy to sink into and connect with on so many levels.

I loved Lilah, she’s fun, outgoing and packed with wit and finds it impossible to say no hence the debilitating bank account. Her boyfriend is a sweetheart and her divorced parents hate each other and mostly talk to each other with the most inventive insults ever. Lilah is a generous character and she’s easily taken advantage off by, her friends, family and workplace. But as the story progresses, we see Lilah struggle with keeping others happy and putting others before herself.

This book is a riot from start to finish, with boisterous characters, fantastic one liners and scenarios that are instantly relatable and over the top. Lucy’s writing is sharp, quick witted and really connects with her readers.

If you’re looking for perfect escapism story that will lift your spirits and distract from the drama outside, I’d wholeheartedly recommend ‘What Fresh Hell’ and every other book by Lucy Vine.

You can buy ‘What Fresh Hell’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Last Night By Mhairi McFarlane

Last Night’Last Night’ is the latest book by Mhairi McFarlane.

Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed have been friends since they were eighteen. Now in their 30s, the four are still as close as ever, Thursday pub quiz night is still sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed. Maybe Eve should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed sometimes thinks about it too. Then one night, in an instant, all their lives change forever. And, as Eve learns she didn’t know her friends as well as she thought, she also discovers she isn’t the only person keeping secrets.

When it comes to books by Mhairi, you’re guaranteed to read a book packed with classic one liners, fantastic and relatable protagonists that you instantly connect with and a plot that will make you snort throughout.

But in Mhairi’s latest book, it’s filled with her trademark quirky characters and storyline but she also touched on grief and loss.

Eve has has a group of 4 best friends since secondary school. Susie, Justin and Ed. Eve and Ed have had a bit of complicated relationship after admitting feelings for each other but it never went anywhere. The 4 have maintained a tight friendship through the university years and now they’re in their mid 30’s. One night after a ritual pub quiz, the quartet is tragically changed leaving Eve question the friends that she thought she knew so well.

The story is seen through the narrative of Eve as she deals with the realisation that she didn’t really know her friendship group and finds herself finding solace in Finlay, Susie’s older brother who she was lead to believe is the bad guy.

I adored Eve, she’s fun, outspoken and heartbroken for the life that she used to have. The story is a romantic comedy as Eve and Finlay get to know each other under unexpected circumstances, but there are darker undertones to the story that does make for emotional reading in parts. Other supporting characters such as Finlay made for a delicious inclusion in the story, an estranged model that was always labelled the bad guy in Susie’s family. As Eve and Finlay tentatively get to know each other, their interactions make for tender and fun moments.

I love Mhairi’s writing, she has a skill of creating fantastic stories with such engaging characters that you instantly fall in love with and become friends with. As per her previous books, the story is packed with creative dialogue and one liners that made me giggle throughout.

‘Last Night’ is a beautifully written and observational story about heartache and friendship delivered with Mhairi’s wit and charm that made for genuinely uplifting and emotional reading.

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

The Best Is Yet To Come By Katy Collins

The Best Is Yet To Come‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ is the latest book by Katy Collins.

Izzy has always taken everything in her stride but motherhood is proving more difficult than she thought. She keeps telling herself it’s just a phase but the dark clouds are starting to appear. Neighbour and widower Arthur might be in the winter of his life but he’s not ready to be packed off to a care home. He’s determined to do things his way. When Izzy hears about Arthur’s big move, she offers to help. But Arthur isn’t telling her the whole story. It takes courage to admit you need a friend and when you feel invisible, all you need is a ray of hope. After all, what if the best is yet to come?

If you like stories of new beginnings and friendship, then this book is for you.

The story is seen from the perspective of new mum Izzy and her elderly neighbour called Arthur, who she rescues one night when he falls over. The story centres around their unlikely friendship as they both deal with milestones in their lives, Izzy is adjusting to becoming a first time mother and Arthur is clearing out his home, two years after his wife’s death to move into a retirement village.

The pair are a lovely duo and scenes with together make for really sweet reading. Arthur and Pearl were unable to have children, so Izzy and her baby Evie give him the opportunity to be a grandfather figure which he dotes on immensely. Izzy is a relatable character, she expected motherhood to come naturally but she has struggles that her husband Andrew seems oblivious to which was very frustrating reading. She finds a kinship in Arthur and their shared project which gives them something to concentrate on and bond over.

The story alternates between the perspectives of the pair and it’s uplifting to see them grow in friendship as well as confidence as Izzy gets more comfortable with the mother role.

This story is a beautifully written one that flows at a lovely pace, captivating the reader with moments of poignancy and nostalgia. Emotional and heartfelt, ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ is a life affirming story of hope, forgiveness and will certainly strike a chord with its relatable and engaging characters.

You can buy ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Dog Days By Erica Waller

Dog Days‘Dog Days’ is the latest book by Erica Waller.

Dog Days is a novel about those small but life-changing moments that only come when we pause to let the light in. It is about three people learning to make connections and find joy in living life off the leash.

I spent a lazy Sunday with my head in this book. A beautifully written story tackling sensitive subjects such as grief, mental health, domestic abuse as well as sexuality.

The story is seen through the perspective of three characters, George, Lizzie and Dan. Grumpy old man George, who throughout the story made me think of George from the Pixar film called ‘UP’. George has a gruff and ignorant nature and is at a loss when his wife Ellen dies suddenly. George is used to having Ellen, making his meals, washing his clothes and without Ellen there to do these things for him, George’s life stops at a standstill with only a beautiful little Dachshund puppy called Poppy to keep him company. Ellen thoughtfully bought Poppy as something for George to focus on as well as help him lose weight and get some exercise. It’s at his lowest that Betty comes into George’s after receiving complaints about Poppy’s barking and comes to George’s rescue much to his disgust. Betty is a warm-hearted and bubbly woman who loves to help others and the pair of bicker constantly with George protesting against Betty’s help and Betty fighting against with wonderfully sweet and creative language.

Lizzie has turned up at a women’s shelter with her little boy called Lenny, but has yet to reveal her story. She’s a quiet intense woman who misses her old life of being a primary school teacher and is at her most comfortable sharing facts and information with people. She’s not a dog lover but part of leaving at the shelter is to take elderly Jack Russell Terrier called Maud for walks. Maud knows that Lizzie isn’t used to dogs and does all she can to offer friendship and comfort to Lizzie.

Dan is at crossroads with his sexuality and when Atticus comes to his counselling sessions, Dan has to finally confront his thoughts much to his own fears. Dan is a wonderful character, he’s kind, shy and outspoken Atticus helps Dan finally feel comfortable with himself. Dan has a beautiful Golden Labrador called Fitz, a loyal companion who accepts Dan, no matter his sexual orientation.

All three people are facing real struggles in their lives and as they face them, there’s a four legged there to offer a hug or lick at their lowest ebbs. I absolutely adored this book and I found myself racing through it, purely for George’s perspective as he was the most amazing character. He’s a traditional man, with an old-fashioned mindset. Ellen did everything for him but he cared for Ellen in his own way, crafting pieces of furniture for her that made her delighted. His relationship with Betty was truly clever and fun reading as they battled with each other, but they brought some joy and company to their lives. Out of the three characters, George was the man with no interest in dog but as the story progresses, we see the shutters come down and he grows to love the tiny dog and the company she provides. Another beautiful element to the story, was the inclusion of letters to George from Ellen that she left for him after her death. These letters make for tender reading, as she’s offering guidance and support with gentle reminders of things that need sorted. These letters usually arrive when George is at his lowest.

As a dog lover myself, this book wholeheartedly proves the comfort and companionship that dogs provide, they offer no judgement and will love you unconditionally. This book was a joy to read from the start to finish. Filled with wit, tenderness and moments that will genuinely break your heart and give you hope, Ericka has written a book that handles hard hitting issues with grace and sensitivity, ‘Dog Walks’ is a book that stays with you long after you reached the final page.

You can pre-order ‘Dog Days’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 11th March 2021.

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.