cropped-Cartoon-Lisa-1.jpgTitle: Freshers

Author: Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Chicken House

The Blurb

Phoebe has been waiting all summer for uni to start and her life to finally begin. And knowing Luke Taylor is going to be there too makes the whole thing even more exciting….

But Luke’s relationship is secretly falling apart and campus life isn’t proving to be the escape he thought it would be.

When the two collide in the madness of Freshers’ Week, everything changes – and they both get sucked into each other’s worlds in the most messy, intense and hilarious ways imaginable…

The Review

I’ve been in a reading lull this summer. The books that I have read were good but none of them had me engaged or really rooting for the characters. I was reading for reading’s sake and was not really blown away by any of the books I read.

Then came Freshers.

Freshers is the latest release from Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison. One of their earlier releases, Lobsters, was my favourite book that I read last year and so I was eagerly awaiting Freshers and it did not disappoint.

Freshers is set in York University and centres around our two protagonists Luke and Phoebe. Luke and Phoebe knew each other in high school/sixth form and whilst Luke knew Phoebe as someone who was just there, Phoebe has been butt-monkey in love with Luke since year 9.

Inevitably, their first year of uni sees them intertwine with friendship groups, courses and nights out. But can their bourgeoning friendship last the length of their course?

Now, I loved Freshers. I didn’t have the traditional university experience. I was classed as a mature student even though I was only 22 when I started university. I didn’t move into the halls so I didn’t get that experience and I didn’t do one Freshers’ event at all. I know, my university experience sounds so lame. It wasn’t. I just had a different set of friends who I spent time with and I only went out with my uni friends twice in three years. That night was pretty epic which ended with a hot guy who looked like Jesus getting my details on a napkin but sadly not falling madly in love with me.

What I felt that I got from Freshers by Ivison and Ellen was the university experience that I probably should have had. It is, honestly, one of the funniest books that I have read this year.

Long live the writing partnership of Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison.

Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison is available now.

For more information regarding Lucy Ivison please visit her Twitter page @lucivision.

For more information regarding Chicken House (@chickenhsebooks) please visit www.chickenhousebooks.com.

5 Stars

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