Friday 30 September 2016

Reviewed: The Mountain in My Shoe by Louise Beech

TITLE: The Mountain in My Shoe
AUTHOR: Louise Beech
PUBLISHER: Orenda Books

PUBLICATION DATE: September 30, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

A missing boy. A missing book. A missing husband. A woman who must find them all to find herself.

On the night Bernadette finally has the courage to tell her domineering husband that she's leaving, he doesn't come home. Neither does Conor, the little boy she's befriended for the past five years. Also missing is his lifebook, the only thing that holds the answers. With the help of Conor's foster mum, Bernadette must face her own past, her husband's secrets and a future she never dared imagine in order to find them all.

The Mountain in My Shoe is so powerful in its emotion, it drew me into the story straight away and I was moved, shocked and completely captivated all the way through to the final page. I read and loved Louise’s debut How to Be Brave, but this book is very different and I liked that about it because I didn’t know what to expect, and so the author had me in the palm of her hand as she both surprised and consumed me with her beautiful second novel. Though there are some upsetting themes in this book, it appears above all to be a book about hope and the true meaning of family, and I absolutely loved it.

Bernadette is all set to leave her husband, Richard. He is abusive with both his words and actions and she has finally brought herself to walk out on him. But Richard doesn’t come home, and he’s not the only one. Conor, a boy brought up through the care system and who Bernadette has befriended, doesn’t arrive home either. What’s more, Conor’s lifebook is missing too. Bernadette discovers that to unravel the mystery of all three disappearances, she first needs to face up to and address her own life.

The Mountain in My Shoe alternates in chapters – from Bernadette or Conor’s perspective to extracts from the Book. Conor’s lifebook was a very moving piece of this novel. It’s honest and stays true to real-life stories of children who have spent their life in and out of care, with various different foster families. Stories from Conor’s lifebook are often sad, but not always. There is humour and creativity in Conor’s life, and he is an inspired child right from the moment we begin reading. The Book shows his true character and as the reader, have you fighting for his safe return to where he truly belongs. The lifebook is a very special piece of the novel.

Though the beginning of this book intrigued me, it was with the next chapter and the one after that and so on that I realised I had become incapable of putting the novel down, so engrossed by the engaging characters and the heart-achingly poignant story they were telling. Louise’s writing is an absolute joy to read. Her characters have real depth and emotion to them and the way she captures their feelings and their lives, both the ups and downs, makes me believe in each one of them completely as they, though fictional, are very real and human.

The structure, the narrative and the prose are all outstanding and there is a flow to Louise’s writing even when alternating between present day and the story in the ‘Book’ which has me transfixed. The Mountain in My Shoe comes across as such an effortless read yet the story inside is thought-provoking and unforgettable. The author has evidently put her heart and soul into writing this book and it was worth it. The Mountain in My Shoe is haunting and memorable, but most of all, it’s another unmissable novel from Louise Beech.

Thursday 29 September 2016

Reviewed: Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra

TITLE: Only Daughter
AUTHOR: Anna Snoekstra

PUBLICATION DATE: September 22, 2016

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In 2003, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Winter disappeared.

She’d been enjoying her teenage summer break: working at a fast food restaurant, crushing on an older boy and shoplifting with her best friend. Mysteriously ominous things began to happen―blood in the bed, periods of blackouts, a feeling of being watched―though Bec remained oblivious of what was to come.

Eleven years later she is replaced.

A young woman, desperate after being arrested, claims to be the decade-missing Bec.

Soon the imposter is living Bec’s life. Sleeping in her bed. Hugging her mother and father. Learning her best friends' names. Playing with her twin brothers.

But Bec’s welcoming family and enthusiastic friends are not quite as they seem. As the imposter dodges the detective investigating her case, she begins to delve into the life of the real Bec Winter―and soon realizes that whoever took Bec is still at large, and that she is in imminent danger.

Only Daughter is a creepy, chilling novel that had me gripped from page one. I loved the concept to this story and for that reason I couldn’t wait to read it. I was hooked and read this book so quickly, but the story wasn’t over for me then as the events over the course of this book still linger on my mind now. Though there are moments that feel far-fetched or a bit contrived, I won’t hesitate to recommend this book for its disturbing entertainment factor and the many surprises along the way.

The book begins with a desperate young woman in trouble with the police. She has a bit of a trick up her sleeve to escape punishment, however, by confessing to be her lookalike and missing person, Rebecca Winter. Only she doesn’t realise that being Rebecca Winter would bring way more trouble than she was in before.

I was really hooked on this story. Every time I put the book down, I was genuinely excited to pick it up and start reading again. I did this all day until I’d finished. As we see this woman slot into Bec’s old life, with her parents and brothers, things get weirder and nothing seems to add up. Whilst I spent the first two third of this book trying to figure out what had happened to Bec, I spent the final third of the book wincing and squirming as the tension and suspense soared to make this one of the most unsettling books I’ve read.

The narrative switches between imposter Rebecca’s life and the life of the real Rebecca, in the days leading up to her becoming a missing person. Through both characters’ perspectives, there was a sense of danger which only increased in intensity the further through the book I was. For someone who is also nine times out of ten disappointed by the way a thriller ends, the ending to Only Daughter was brilliantly executed and also had me cursing that the book was over!

Character-wise I went through this book changing my mind all the time over whether I liked or disliked almost every single character. The way the book is written had me questioning everyone and there wasn’t a character I didn’t have my suspicions over at some point during the course of the book. That and the fact I didn’t guess almost anything correctly at all was one of the reasons I couldn’t put Only Daughter down. It’s so rare to find a truly unpredictable thriller – but this one definitely hit the spot.

With that being said, there were times I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book. Especially when reading the real Bec’s story, parts of it didn’t feel particularly relevant and I much preferred reading the imposter’s tale. But when I finished the book, I realised that things made more sense to me now. I would love to re-read Only Daughter now I know the truth and spot all the clues and hints the author included, because there was absolutely no chance I was going to work out the mystery when reading it first time around.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Guest Post: The Killer in Me by Michael Robotham

TITLE: Close Your Eyes
AUTHOR: Michael Robotham

PUBLICATION DATE: September 22, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

I close my eyes and feel my heart begin racing
Someone is coming
They're going to find me

A mother and her teenage daughter are found murdered in a remote farmhouse, one defiled by multiple stab wounds and the other left lying like Sleeping Beauty waiting for her Prince. Reluctantly, clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin is drawn into the investigation when a former student, calling himself 'the Mindhunter', jeopardises the police inquiry by leaking details to the media and stirring up public anger.

With no shortage of suspects and tempers beginning to fray, Joe discover links between these murders and a series of brutal attacks where his victims have been choked unconscious and had the letter 'A' carved into their foreheads.

As the case becomes ever more complex, nothing is quite what it seems and soon Joe's fate, and that of those closest to him, become intertwined with a merciless, unpredictable killer . . .egins to face her darkest fears and shatter her fragile dreams. But can she ever truly break free from her gilded cage and learn to love again?

I'm excited today to be hosting the brilliant Michael Robotham on my blog to celebrate publication for his latest novel, Close Your Eyes.

The Killer in Me
by Michael Robotham

So far I’ve killed about twenty-eight people, although it’s hard to be completely sure without digging up the bodies and doing a head count. I have shot, drowned, electrocuted, blown-up, beaten, stabbed, incinerated, strangled, smothered and tortured victims. Some were innocent, others got exactly what they deserved.

Don’t think for a moment that my psychological thrillers are steeped in mayhem and violence. I don’t write about serial killers who bathe in gore, or who scoff body parts with fava beans and chianti.

Instead I write the sort of stories that make you jump when the phone rings, or check that you’ve locked the doors, or only read in the daylight.

As a crime writer I’m under constant pressure to keep the bodies coming and normally only murders will suffice because no other crime is so final. You cannot make recompense for killing someone. There is no eye for an eye. There is no taking it back.

Which begs the question:

Have you ever fantasised about killing someone? 

Be honest now. What about that speeding driver who cuts you off in traffic and almost causes an accident? Surely you wouldn’t mind seeing him go under a truck. What about your bullying boss, who makes you work ridiculous hours or claims the credit for your suggestions? Haven’t you ever pictured yourself slipping anti-freeze into his smoothie? What about when your husband or wife gets on your nerves, refusing to admit their wrong or belittling your efforts? Just for a moment, haven’t you thought about nudging them under a bus, or pushing them down the stairs?

In separate studies, two psychologists Douglas Kenrick and David Buss asked people if they have ever fantasised about killing someone. The demographic they chose (university students) had exceptionally low rates of violence, yet between 70 and 90 per cent of the men, and between 50 and 80 per cent of the women, admitted to having at least one homicidal fantasy in the preceding year.

These were just fantasies of course, but it does make you wonder. I have homicidal fantasies on a weekly basis. I get to kill people for a living, which is far more satisfying than squeezing a stress ball or twiddling worry beads. Before I married I would despatch my ex-girlfriends. Not I get rid of lanky teenage boys who take my daughters to the formal and dump them before the end of the night.

The brilliant Irish crime writer John Connolly has been known to kill off people who talk too loudly on their mobile phones, or who are rude to waitresses. I’ve killed bigots, sexists and homophobes, which can be particularly satisfying.

Sadly, some of my victims are blameless and my heart bleeds for them. In my newest novel CLOSE YOUR EYES a mother and her teenage daughter are found dead in a remote Somerset farmhouse - one of them eviscerated in a Ripper-like fashion on the sitting room floor, while the other is left lying like Sleeping Beauty in her bed, surrounded by stuffed toys. In the pages that follow, there are more victims – men and woman who are choked unconscious and have the letter ‘A’ is carved into their foreheads.

The question for my hero, clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is whether these an acts of hatred or revenge. Are victims being targeted for what they’re done, or what they represent?

There will be bodies, there will be tears, there will be justice and there will be hope because the pen is mightier and deadlier than the sword.

CLOSE YOUR EYES (Sphere) is available in paperback on September 22, 2016

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Reviewed: Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin

TITLE: Christmas under a Cranberry Sky
AUTHOR: Holly Martin
PUBLISHER: Bookouture

PUBLICATION DATE: September 22, 2016

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Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

It’s September and I have just finished my first Christmas book of the year, and although that feels far too early there isn’t an author better at getting you in the Christmas spirit than Holly Martin. Christmas under a Cranberry Sky is as expected, a festive, wonderful wintery tale and the setting of Juniper Island is built up to be so idyllic that it gives Lapland a good run for its money as far as dreamy Christmas escapes go.

Piper is a hotel reviewer and after her last stay was at a hotel she couldn’t recommend in the least, her stay at Stardust Lake Hotel is something altogether different. The place and the people are charming, the location is enchantingly beautiful and the hotel is also run by Piper’s first love, Gabe Whitaker. Piper hasn’t seen Gabe in twelve years and things didn’t end on good terms for them. A tragic incident was the beginning of the end for their relationship but with Gabe now back in Piper’s life, at least for the duration of her hotel review, the chemistry between them is quick to resurface.

There was a lot to love about this novel. Everything, from the setting to the characters, made Christmas under a Cranberry Sky a special kind of read. One thing I liked about this book was how Piper and Gabe talked about the circumstances when she left almost straight away, without making us wait for ages. This made their connection and the backstory feel more realistic, because even though many authors like to keep us in suspense in similar situations, realistically if someone disappeared for twelve years without telling you why, when they re-appear you’re going to want to know what happened. There was still, of course, a fair few moments I wanted to bang their heads together, but knowing their circumstances early on opened up the story and made it more of that heart-warming, satisfyingly romantic novel – the kind many readers have come to love from Holly.

The characters were also a joy to read about. I liked both Piper and Gabe, as well as Gabe’s family, but my favourite was Gabe’s young daughter Wren. She was simply the sweetest character who tugs at your heartstrings and I loved her involvement in the story the most.

One of the best things about Holly’s books are that no matter how magical and fairy-tale like they appear, she makes me believe in all the things she writes about. I can feel all the emotions and experience the setting and the various things which happen during the course of the book. Holly’s style of writing is just perfect for Christmas books as it is impossible to not feel festive when reading Christmas under a Cranberry Sky. Her attention to detail and descriptions and inventive imagination creates a wonderland you’d just love to experience yourself. And regardless of what time of year you read Christmas under a Cranberry Sky, you are bound to feel full of cheer and festive spirit.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Review & Giveaway: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

TITLE: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
AUTHOR: Phaedra Patrick

PUBLICATION DATE: September 22, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

40 Years of Marriage.
8 Golden Charms.
One Man’s Journey of Discovery.

Having been married for over 40 years, 69-year-old Arthur Pepper is mourning the loss of his wife. On the anniversary of her death, he finally musters the courage to go through her possessions, and happens upon a charm bracelet that he has never seen before.

What follows is a surprising adventure that takes Arthur from London to Paris and India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met, a journey that leads him to find healing, self-discovery, and love in the most unexpected of places.

Today is paperback publication day for The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick and I'm happy to be hosting my review and a giveaway for the book as part of the blog tour. Read below for my thoughts on the book, and comment on this post before the end of the month for your chance to win one of two copies! 

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is one of those truly lovely novels that are really quite impossible to forget. The premise to this book is a really interesting and thought-provoking one and I loved following the characters of Arthur Pepper and even his late wife, Miriam. It’s a charming and thoroughly heart-warming read.

Arthur Pepper has been widowed and he is desperately lonely following the death of his wife. He has little contact with his children and their encouragements for him to clear the house and move on feel, to him, like an extra cruel kick in the teeth. However, when he does start sorting through Miriam’s belongings, he finds in the bottom of a box that he’s never seen before, a charm bracelet that he’s also never seen before. His curiosity is piqued and with his first phone call to India, he begins to investigate. That’s when a beautiful, witty and poignant story begins to blossom, and from then on I was hooked on The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper to the stage that I refused to put the book down.

I really loved the author’s writing and the way she sensitively but honestly handles a grief-ridden, lonely character in Arthur. I felt the portrayal of Arthur’s feelings were very realistic, right up-to and including the dark humour he still possesses which endeared his character to me even more. Arthur is a difficult character not to care for and throughout this book, I felt like I could feel and connect with all his emotions as he battled his way through life, and the new life he had without Miriam in it.

Though Miriam is no longer alive, it was her part in the book that I enjoyed reading the most. Early on, we’re aware that she lived this life that even Arthur knew nothing about, and this was an extremely fascinating and engaging aspect to the book. Miriam’s mysteries led to so many adventures for Arthur which made me love both the characters even more. Some parts may have been a bit over-the-top, and some parts I enjoyed more than others, but generally the things the characters got up to in this book were great fun to read about. Miriam was definitely a fully-fledged character even though she had died before the story begins and the adventures Arthur embarks on because of her and this hidden charm bracelet made me laugh and at times maybe wipe away a tear or two as well.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is an emotionally charged novel and a memorable one at that. Throughout the book and the adventures of Arthur, there is a tale of discovery, not just of the mysterious life he knew nothing about but of himself, and as Arthur begins to see things differently, this reader found it all very thought-provoking too. I think the author captured the feelings of an older generation brilliantly, and I found Arthur just as engrossing a protagonist as the younger characters I normally read about, if not more so. This book isn’t just about Arthur and Miriam, either, and there is a whole wonderful cast of characters which entertained me throughout. The story the author writes really does justice to the life of Arthur Pepper – and I found that I really adored this book from beginning to end.

Don't forget: Comment on this post for the chance to win your own copy of Arthur Pepper!

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Guest Post: S.C. Stephens on writing passion: how to stoke the fire

TITLE: Furious Rush
AUTHOR: S.C. Stephens

PUBLICATION DATE: August 23, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

For Mackenzie Cox, racing motorcycles is in her blood. Born into a family legacy, she's determined to show the world that she has inherited her father's talent in this male-dominated sport. The last thing Kenzie needs is to be antagonised by her rival team's newest rider, Hayden Hayes. Hayden, exceedingly arrogant and outrageously attractive, immediately gets under Kenzie's skin and she can't help but be distracted.

As Kenzie and Hayden push each other on the track, the electric energy between them off the track shifts into an intense - and strictly forbidden - attraction. The only rule between their two ultra-competitive teams is zero contact. Kenzie needs a win, and she also needs to stay away from Hayden. Unfortunately for her though, one thing has become all too clear: she can't.

Fuelled by passion, driven by desire, Hayden and Mackenzie both want to win more than anything else. Except for, maybe, each other. But anger, jealousy and extreme competitiveness aren't their only obstacles . . .

Writing passion: how to stoke the fire

For me, the near-miss moment can be so much hotter than the actual moment. A touch, a look, a word...the tiniest thing can build a lot of heat between characters. I love holding onto that tension for as long as possible. It draws the reader in, keeps them interested, and makes the inevitable cave between the couple so much more satisfying.

We all reminisce about what it’s like to fall in love—the will we-won’t we confusion and excitement that heightens every emotion, especially when you’re falling in love for the very first time. That’s one of the reasons why I like to write characters in their 20s. That first experience with reallove is a gut-wrenching, anxiety-inducing, passion-filled rollercoaster—and one of the best, most enthralling feelings in our lives.

In FURIOUS RUSH, I had the opportunity to start something new and to tell the story of a different kind of epic romance. Hayden and Kenzie live in a high-stakes world of professional motorcycle racing. They have an immediate attraction to each other, but multiple obstacles keep them from truly understanding each other. Their journey is filled with tension, angst, emotion, uncertainty, and ultimately, hope.

Furious Rush was published by Sphere on August 23. Find it here

Sunday 11 September 2016

Extract: Sunshine on a Rainy Day by Bryony Fraser

TITLE: Sunshine on a Rainy Day
AUTHOR: Bryony Fraser

PUBLICATION DATE: September 8, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

It’s Zoe and Jack’s first wedding anniversary party. They’ve got an announcement! They’re getting divorced.

Marriage isn’t for everyone – something that Zoe and Jack discovered only after they’d walked down the aisle. Bad timing, huh?

So now they’re stuck together in their once harmonious marital home, neither one of them willing to move out of their lovely house.

With Zoe’s three sisters always wanting a say, and Jack’s best friend trying his best to fix things between them, misunderstandings arise. Tempers flare. ‘Accidents’ happen…

Zoe and Jack are going to be lucky if they’re still alive when the twelve months are up. But maybe things aren’t quite as final as they seem?

Today I'm taking part in the blog tour for Sunshine on a Rainy Day by Bryony Fraser, which I am reading at the moment! Below I share a little teaser of an extract from the book - and make sure to check out the rest of the blog tour too.

The rest of the reception was a blur. I noticed that Liz, my maid of honour, was there without her boyfriend. She hadn’t said that Adam couldn’t come, but she didn’t mention his notable absence, so neither did I, sensing it wasn’t something she wanted to discuss. Instead she cooed over my bag, gasping as I explained that Mum and Dad had insisted the bride should have a special gift on her wedding day. Esther, my responsible, married eldest sister, who had our dad’s smaller stature and our mum’s gentle stubbornness, had been clapping her hands with glee when Dad handed me the box last night, having received a CĂ©line bag (also second hand) when she’d got married four years ago – it had swiftly become her nappy bag when William was born a year later. Ava, taller and quieter, the next eldest, looked on with peaceful, happy excitement, while Kat, the youngest of us four by four years, bold and foot-stamping ever since Mum and Dad brought her home from the hospital, had stood with folded arms and bright purple pursed lips while I’d lifted the layers of tissue paper to find an old, impossibly soft, black Chanel 2.55 handbag.

‘Now, it’s not brand new,’ Dad had said, apologetically.

We’d all laughed. ‘Dad! It’s beautiful. Thanks, Mum. Thanks, Dad.’

I hadn’t expected it. My wedding to Jack seemed so different, somehow, to Esther and Ethan’s, that I’d had no idea I’d get any kind of present. Their wedding had been all any of us had talked about for months – a happy event which had been a given since they’d got together – but ours just seemed to have arrived, surprising even me. I didn’t think anyone would take it as seriously, somehow. And yet this bag! I’d slept with it on my bedside table, intending it to be the first thing I saw when I woke up that day, but in the end that honour had fallen to the breakfast tray Mum had brought up to me, with her coral necklace from her own wedding day on the side plate next to the boiled egg.

Friday 9 September 2016

Reviewed: The Ex Factor by Eva Woods

TITLE: The Ex Factor
AUTHOR: Eva Woods

PUBLICATION DATE: September 8, 2016

Amazon - Goodreads

Is it possible to freecycle love?

Modern dating is hard, especially when all you meet are liars, oddballs, men who wear Superman pants and men who live with their mums.

So why not date someone who already comes pre-approved? Just because your friend’s ex wasn’t right for her doesn’t mean that he won’t be right for you. That’s Marnie’s new plan for herself and her three best friends, perennially single Helen, recently divorced Rosa and cynical lawyer Ani.

Through bad dates and good, the four friends begin to realise that there are advantages to dating pre-screened men…but there can be some serious pitfalls to falling for your friend's ex

I loved the fresh, original concept in The Ex Factor. Four single women – all aware, at least, that dating a friend’s ex is against all kinds of girl code – get caught up in a somewhat crazy scheme where each friend picks an ex of theirs for their chosen friend to date. What ensues is a frantic, whirlwind tale of chaos, drama, friendship, disastrous dates and maybe just a bit of romance.

Helen, Rosa and Ani are all single but at very different stages in that aspect of their lives. Helen is basically married to her cat – who, yes, does share her surname on his very own Facebook profile – and she is quite comfortable sat in her very tidy home watching boxsets. That is, when she’s not working, and her job entails a dating site specifically for people who are already married. Rosa is separated from her husband David after he cheated on her with a twenty year old intern at their workplace, called Daisy. She can barely bring herself to think about that without crying, and dating again is definitely not something on her agenda. Ani, though, has been dating. In fact she’s had more first dates in a year than most people would have in a lifetime. But Ani, fairly cynical towards romance due to being a divorce lawyer, is very particular towards men and doesn’t really ever agree to a second date unless the first one went perfectly, which also never happens.

But when Marnie, their friend who’d disappeared for a couple of years, returns back to London, Helen, Rosa and Ani know they cannot avoid the chaos that comes with Marnie’s character. Though reluctant at first, they soon all agree to the Ex Factor idea, and the madness begins…

I really enjoyed this book. It was an entertaining read and at times had a very comical outlook on friendship and dating and what happens when those lines are blurred and you enter that typical no-go area of dating your friend’s ex. There were lots of laugh-out-loud moments and giggles provided by a group of friends and their dating woes. If you are currently settled in a happy relationship, this book will make you very pleased about that, and if you are currently dating, maybe online, or you just find yourself fancying the ex of one of your friends, The Ex Factor will probably fill you with a bit of dread and fear and attempt to put you off for life, whilst also showing that maybe some of these dating stories do have a happy ending after all.

There are a lot of characters in this book and that’s maybe a bit of an understatement. There’s Marnie, Ani, Rosa and Helen. And their exes. And their current crushes. And their bosses and colleagues and in some cases, family. Then when you think that they are also swapping exes, it was for a large amount of this book fairly tricky to keep up and to remember which character Tom was relevant to, or who Simon has been seeing etc etc. This was, I suppose, always going to be the case but that didn’t make it any easier to keep up. For the most part I really enjoyed this book but there were times I felt it was dragging – not really the story, which had a good pace throughout – but more the time I spent trying to remember the importance of each character. About two thirds through, I gave up trying to remember and found I flew through the rest of the book that way, caught up in the light-hearted, witty story without needing to try and remember who everyone was.

I really liked all four of the main characters, although my favourite character was actually one of their dates. Marnie was maybe the most difficult to like but she was quite mysterious and intriguing and I liked how I never really knew what to expect from her. Ani was quite cynical but I liked her – and I loved the way the story ended for her. Rosa seemed to be the most honest and down-to-earth of the friends and I found that I cared for her character the most out of the friends, although she was closely followed by Helen, who never seemed to shy away from her true self – being anxious and a bit of a geek were actually pretty relatable traits.

One of my favourite aspects of this book was its unpredictability – there were so many dates involved that for a couple of the friends I was guessing at how things would work out for them right until the end. Overall, I found The Ex Factor to be a fun and escapist book – ideal for a lazy weekend or a holiday read on the beach. I’m looking forward to reading more from the author.

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