In Twenty YearsTitle: In Twenty Years

Author: Allison Winn Scotch

Pages: 322 Pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

The Blurb

Twenty years ago, six Penn students shared a house, naively certain that their friendships would endure—until the death of their ringleader and dear friend Bea splintered the group for good. Now, mostly estranged from one another, the remaining five reluctantly gather at that same house on the eve of what would have been Bea’s fortieth birthday.

But along with the return of the friends come old grudges, unrequited feelings, and buried secrets. Catherine, the CEO of a domestic empire, and Owen, a stay-at-home dad, were picture-perfect college sweethearts—but now teeter on the brink of disaster. Lindy, a well-known musician, is pushing middle age in an industry that’s all about youth and slowly self-destructing as she grapples with her own identity. Behind his smile, handsome plastic surgeon Colin harbors the heartbreaking truth about his own history with Bea. And Annie carefully curates her life on Instagram and Facebook, keeping up appearances so she doesn’t have to face the truth about her own empty reality.

Reunited in the place where so many dreams began, and bolstered by the hope of healing, each of them is forced to confront the past.

The Review

In Twenty Years is the first book that I have read by Allison Winn Scotch but it certainly won’t be my last. I loved this story.

It is about how our expectations of the future versus the reality often careen down very different paths. In Twenty Years focuses on five friends (Colin, Owen, Catherine, Annie and Lindy) who all turn up at their old university digs at the behest of Bea, their friend who died seventeen years ago. When they are there they start to reveal their true selves and not the picture perfect portrait in which they have previously presented their lives.

It is at their Alma Mata that they start confronting old grievances, present dramas and try to remember the hopeful, optimistic people that they once were.

In short, In Twenty Years is a wonderful book. It is a great read for those who are maybe a little dissatisfied with how their life has turned out; it is a reminder that life is what you make of it and that you have to make it count every day.

I really loved In Twenty Years. It was such a satisfying book. You loved all the characters but equally recognised their flaws. I think what impressed me most about Allison Winn Scotch’s reunion story is that she made the narrative unambiguously ambiguous. You had the closure you needed from the main story thread but the fact that not everything was tied up in a neat little bow made it all the more realistic; the cast of characters who made up In Twenty Years still had issues that they needed to resolve. This made it all the more realistic and as a reader I really appreciated this.

If I was going to describe this book to someone I would say it is a more readable and less macabre version of The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Much more readable, accessible and honestly it is just a much better story.

In Twenty Years deserves a place on your summer reading list.

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch is available now.

For more information regarding Allison Winn Scotch (@aswinn) please visit www.allisonwinn.com.

4 Stars

Paris Time CapsuleThe Blurb

New York–based photographer Cat Jordan is ready to begin a new life with her successful, button-down boyfriend. But when she learns that she’s inherited the estate of a complete stranger—a woman named Isabelle de Florian—her life is turned upside down.

Cat arrives in Paris to find that she is now the owner of a perfectly preserved Belle Époque apartment in the ninth arrondissement, and that the Frenchwoman’s family knew nothing about this secret estate. Amid these strange developments, Cat is left with burning questions: Who was Isabelle de Florian? And why did she leave the inheritance to Cat instead of her own family?

As Cat travels France in search of answers, she feels her grasp on her New York life starting to slip. With long-buried secrets coming to light and an attraction to Isabelle de Florian’s grandson growing too intense to ignore, Cat will have to decide what to let go of, and what to claim as her own.

The Review

Paris Time Capsule is a stunning story with roots found in real life events. The story centres on Cat, a photographer from New York who inherits an apartment in France from a distant friend of a deceased relative. She embarks on a journey to give the rightful heirs their inheritance. Along the way she has to deal with handsome men, difficult sources and follow the trail across France to figure out the mystery of the abandoned apartment. It is such a rush.

The plot is so seamlessly interwoven with the real life historical events that you cannot help but become completely immersed in this world and indeed the mystery. You become desperate to find out some answers and it keeps you turning the pages long after you should have closed the book and turned out the lights.

Cat is a perfect heroine: giving, loyal and utterly confused – we like a few flaws – and she tries her hardest to be a good person but she cannot deny her true feelings and her emotional connection to Paris. So when things go a bit pear shaped we forgive her actions.

Overall, Paris Time Capsule is a truly escapist novel with a fascinating history attached to it and a thoroughly good read.

Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey is available now.

35 Stars

Synopsis

With £50,000 at stake, Zoe and Greg Milton enter a competition that will change their lives forever. However, the chance to win comes at a cost – that cost is their dignity. The Milton’s have entered Fat Chance, a contest hosted by their local radio station which has the couple pitted against other overweight twosomes all in hope of winning the grand prize. How far will Zoe and Greg go to win?

Review

Nick Spalding never fails to entertain me. His books have the uncanny knack of making you realise just how funny and ridiculous real life situations can be. With his latest literary offering, Fat Chance, we can see that he is just as on form as ever.

The issue of being overweight is one that we don’t like to talk about. People who are skinny can’t know and will never know just how horrible it is to be overweight. Unless you have experienced it yourself, you just do not know. For the sake of total disclosure I, myself, lost two and half stone a few years back and I can vouch for the wonderful new world that being skinny opens up for you. However, I do not belong to the Kate Moss school of thought that nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels – Ms Moss clearly hasn’t eaten my cheesy pasta bake!

In writing it is hard to get that balance right. The balance of not sounding condescending or sounding like you pity the larger person or like a know it all that offers unhelpful and downright annoying advice. Fortunately, Spalding’s approach to the subject is one of empathy without making you feel belittled.

Don’t get me wrong, the one thing that Spalding excels in is making you feel shame. Every embarrassing event his characters go through, you equally feel. There were moments that I had to put down the book because I was too mortified to read on but that is actually the reason that I love his books. He can make me cringe with just a paragraph. For that I salute you Nick Spalding!

This book has the potential to entertain a wide berth of readers, from the skinnymalinks to the tubbos, the chubbychasers to the flabulous ones. If you are larger than a size 6 you will appreciate the things that Greg and Zoe; if you are one of those blessed with a brilliant metabolism then maybe it will make you think twice before you judge those who are larger.

Fat Chance by Nick Spalding is available now.

You can follow Nick Spalding on Twitter @NickSpalding

Fat Chance

Synopsis

When Sarah stops at the Jazz Club ‘G-Spot’ she doesn’t expect to fall in love at first sight. But that is exactly what happened. As soon as saxophonist Evan takes to the stage she is smitten. Luckily for her the feeling is mutual. However, Evan has just been offered the biggest opportunity of his career. He has been given the chance to play sax on The Police’s reunion tour, travelling the world for a year. Can Evan and Sarah’s love transcend distance and time?

Review

What Might Have Been is Matt Dunn’s eighth romantic comedy novel but I have to admit it is the first of his that I have ever read. I always find that I read multi-perspective books a little bit more critically than I do when the book has a solo protagonist. It is so easy for a writer to not have clearly defined voices for his characters; however, Dunn seems to have done that perfectly. Both Sarah and Evan come across individually and even still manage to maintain parts of themselves in the crossover chapters.

I guess that the reason why stories like this are ever so popular is because we all have our own version of ‘what might have been.’ That long lost love who we often think about in drunken hazy ways. The one who we look at through rose tinted spectacles and forget all of their flaws and bad points. With What Might Have Been, Dunn gives you hope and a chance to chase a happy ending and essentially make you wonder ‘what if?’ What if you had chased your love like Evan does with Sarah, would things have ended differently? The story is so very easy to relate to.

The story is told in a good way allowing you the chance to care for both characters plights. Admittedly, I did get a little bored of the will-they-won’t-they dilemma in the middle but then Dunn threw a dramatic third act twist in that picked up the momentum once again. I do also think that the characterisation of Sarah was a little clichéd. She had abandonment issues, thus explaining all her subsequent decisions seemed a little too easy for me and in the middle of the story she became a tad whiny. To be fair though, so did Evan.

Overall, What Might Have Been is a good read. It isn’t going to change your life but it might just change your day.

What Might Have Been by Matt Dunn is available from August 12th, 2014.

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