The Story of Our LivesTitle: The Story of Our Lives

Author: Helen Warner

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Harlequin Books

The Blurb

They think nothing can tear their bond apart, until a long-buried secret threatens to destroy everything.

Every year they have met up for a vacation, but their time away is much more than just a bit of fun. Over time, it has become a lifesaver, as each of them struggles with life’s triumphs and tragedies.

Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa have been best friends since they were girls. They have seen each other through everything—from Sophie’s private fear that she doesn’t actually want to be a mother despite having two kids, to Amy’s perfect-on-the-outside marriage that starts to reveal troubling warning signs, to Melissa’s spiralling alcoholism, to questions that are suddenly bubbling up around the paternity of Emily’s son. But could a lie that spans just as long as their friendship be the thing that tears them apart?

The Review

One of my favourite genres of fiction is one that is focused on friendship groups. I love the love of romantic fiction but there is something special about the friendship between women. It can be both a curse and a cause for celebration and that is exactly what Helen Warner examines in her novel The Story of Our Lives.

The Story of Our Lives focuses on the friendship group Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa and how their friendship group grows, alters, falls apart and falls back together again over the course of a few decades. Warner throws massive curve balls at her readers throughout the novel and pulls the rug from under your feet far too many times. With several ‘shocked face’ moments and me screaming at the book several times I can honestly say that The Story of Our Lives put me through the emotional ringer.

The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner is available now.

4 Stars

 

The DeviantsTitle: The Deviants

Author: CJ Skuse

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Mira Ink/Harlequin

The Blurb

When you set out for revenge, dig two graves

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

The Review

I’ve read a lot of books this summer; some have been bad, most have been good and some have been bloody excellent. My latest read, The Deviants by CJ Skuse – an author I had never come across before but came highly recommended by Clare over at A Book and Tea – was bloody excellent.

With Clare’s recommendation in mind I started reading The Deviants.

Holy moly.

I can honestly say that I have never read such an intense YA thriller before. The story centres upon five people who were really close as children but with the passing of time have mostly drifted apart; due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control their lives begin to interweave again and once that happens the steady foundations that they have built begin to crumble apart.

CJ Skuse has written a very clever story of secrecy and lies, friends and enemies, and how life always throws you in at the deep-end. It is, by far, one of favourite books of the year. The Deviants is full of shock twists and turns and it really did blow my mind. I am sure it will blow yours too. If you like your YA fiction to pack a punch and to leave you a bit breathless then The Deviants needs to be your next read.

The Deviants by CJ Skuse is available now.

For more information regarding CJ Skuse (@CeejaytheAuthor) please visit www.andrewnurnberg.com/authors/c-j-skuse/

For more information regarding Mira Ink (@mira_booksUK) please visit www.miraink.co.uk.

5 Stars

Remember My NameTitle: Remember My Name

Author: Abbey Clancy

Publisher: Harlequin (UK) Limited/Mira UK

Pages: 352 Pages

The Blurb

From the moment Liverpool teenager Jess stars in the school musical, she knows that she’s GOT to be a star. Fast forward a few years and the closest the now 22 year old Jessica has got to stardom is as a children’s entertainer – which is where she meets Jack, uncle to the spoiled 5 year old birthday princess, who spots Jessica’s talent and offers her a job with a record label. But that means that she’ll have to leave her family and her home and move to London – where she quickly finds that the streets aren’t quite paved with gold. And as she spends her days making tea for bitchy PR girls and her nights in a mouldy studio flat, Jessica wonders if leaving Liverpool for London has been a terrible mistake.

Attending an industry party – unfortunately only to serve canapes – Jessica’s fortunes suddenly change when Vogue, the singer due to perform at the event drops out. Before she knows it, Jessica volunteers to stand in and takes centre stage. After a dazzling performance, she is surrounded by people wondering who this amazing new talent is. What’s more, her star turn has been captured by the press and she has become an overnight sensation.

Plunged into the crazy world of glitz and glamour, Jessica’s life is transformed but as her star rises, she loses touch with her roots. Jessica’s teenage dreams of stardom may have come true, but at what cost?

The Review

Now, I may be biased because I come from the greatest city in the world but I do love a good book set in Liverpool. And that is exactly what you get from Abbey Clancy’s debut novel Remember My Name.

The story centres on Jessy Malone, a young girl with a big dream and who unfortunately has never had a chance to have her talents seen…except by children as she performs at birthday parties dressed as Disney princesses. Hardly rock and roll. However, a chance encounter changes all that and Jessy’s life is changed beyond comprehension.

Suddenly Jessy has to figure out who she is: Jessica, the down to earth family girl from Liverpool or Jessika the newest musical sensation?

The great thing about Remember My Name (besides the celebration of Liverpool) is that the whole “fish out of water” storyline reads so truthfully. You totally buy into the fact the Jessy’s head is turned by all the madness and that it would be easy to forget the person that you once were. I think it also helps that we live in a world of instant (and social) media. It is no longer a hard slog for a lot of singers who are plucked from obscurity and thrown in at the deep end. Furthermore, we are allowed to see Jessy at her most vulnerable and (arguably) her most real.

Remember My Name is a really enjoyable read and it is a rags to riches story that really packs a punch. It is a must for summer. It is as essential for your trip to the beach as your sun lotion!

Remember My Name by Abbey Clancy is available now.

Follow Abbey Clancy (@OfficialClancy) on Twitter.

Follow Mira UK (@mira_booksUK) and Harlequin (@HarlequinBooks) on Twitter and for more titles visit www.mirabooks.co.uk and www.harlequin.com

4 Stars

The Curious Charms of Arthur PepperThe Blurb

In this poignant and curiously charming debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure 

Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.

But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as 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 hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.

Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a joyous celebration of life’s infinite possibilities.

The Review

Sometimes a book will come along that will be so charming and endearing that when you turn the final page you feel content. This is the feeling that The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper gives you. It is, for want of a better word, lovely.

Arthur Pepper is a widower who is drowning since his wife’s death. A year after Miriam’s death, Arthur is encouraged by his children to have a cathartic clear out of Miriam’s things. Among her clothes he finds a charm bracelet and sets about discovering things about his wife that he never knew.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a story of discovery and also one of growth. It is different in that it is a 69 year old man who is still growing – not physically, but certainly, emotionally. As Arthur embarks on this journey he discovers things about his wife but more importantly, he discovers things about himself too.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is wonderful because we can all imagine that Arthur Pepper is our granddad, father or, one day, ourselves. He is a man dealing with the pain of losing the love of his life but trying to move forward. It is a beautifully told story and Phaedra Patrick has created a story and characters that have the ability to resonate with everyone who picks up this book.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is available now.

Follow Phaedra Patrick (@phaedrapatrick) on Twitter.

5 Stars

The Blurb

Never date your best friend.

Always be original.

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be clichés so they even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow; But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green.

It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover they’ve actually been missing out on high school.

And maybe even on love.

The Review

Having read (and loved) Let’s Get Lost in 2014, I was eager to get my hands on a copy of Adi Alsaid’s new novel Never Always Sometimes. Now obviously, Alsaid had a lot to live up to; Let’s Get Lost was a brilliant road trip book and an adventure I would gladly take again. Thankfully, Never Always Sometimes did not show any signs of second album syndrome. In fact, I think it outshines Let’s Get Lost.

The story is of an unbreakable friendship between Dave and Julia. Friends for five years they have always been loners together. However, in the final weeks of high school they try to cram in as many clichéd high school experiences before they graduate. It is through this experience that feelings are felt for the first time, feelings are hurt and relationships become broken.

Never Always Sometimes is wonderful. Our two protagonists, Julia and Dave are presented so well that you feel like you are watching your own friends going through this treacherous high school experience. You frequently want to bang their head together and tell them what you think. What I think is very clever but very subtle is the way that Alsaid uses their familial back story to shape the people that they have become but without using it as a justification tool. Smooth move Alsaid!

The story is about acting out teenage clichés but that is one thing that Never Always Sometimes definitely is not. The story is fresh; it pops off the page and urges you to read on. Personally, I wish I had friends like Dave and Julia when I was in school. It would have made it a lot more of an enjoyable experience.

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid is available now.

Follow Adi Alsaid (@AdiAlsaid) on Twitter.

Never Always Sometimes