Title: Last Night

Author: Mhairi McFarlane

Pages: 16 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

Two best friends. One missed chance. And a night that changes everything.

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…

The Review

There has not been a Mhairi McFarlane book that I have read that I did not like. Last Night is no exception.

On the surface you could read it as a love story which in essence it is but I think it is a love story to friends rather than lovers. It focuses on Eve and her best friend Susie and how certain actions can often do damage that might be unfixable. It is about how when things go wrong those bonds of friendship can often be harder to forgive than the ones in a romantic relationship.

I loved the character of Eve. She was unashamedly herself. Kooky, offbeat, and had a mouth that didn’t always work in conjunction with her brain. She was a fun character to read.

Last Night is not a book that will change your life but it will make your day brighter.

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane is available now.

For more information regarding Mhairi McFarlane (@MhairiMcF) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Sunburn

Author: Chloe Michelle Howarth

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Verve Books

The Blurb

Sunburn is an astute and tender portrayal of first love, adolescent anxiety and the realities of growing up in a small town where tradition holds people tightly in its grasp. An atmospheric LGBTQIA+ love story and coming-of-age novel with the intensity of Megan Nolan’s Acts of Desperation, the long hot summer of André Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name and the female friendships of Anna Hope’s Expectation.

It’s the early 1990s, and in the Irish village of Crossmore, Lucy feels out of place. Despite her fierce friendships, she’s always felt this way, and the conventional path of marriage and motherhood doesn’t appeal to her at all. Not even with handsome and doting Martin, her closest childhood friend.

Lucy begins to make sense of herself during a long hot summer, when a spark with her school friend Susannah escalates to an all-consuming infatuation, and, very quickly, to a desperate and devastating love.

Fearful of rejection from her small and conservative community, Lucy begins living a double life, hiding the most honest parts of herself in stolen moments with Susannah.

But with the end of school and the opportunity to leave Crossmore looming, Lucy must choose between two places, two people and two futures, each as terrifying as the other. Neither will be easy, but only one will offer her happiness.

The Review

One of my favourite tropes in books is the trappings of friendship. This probably stems from constantly struggling with friendship groups throughout my life but enough about me. Sunburn by Chloe Michelle Howarth is the story of Lucy, a young girl on the verge of womanhood who is struggling to find her place among her friends. The things that she knows she should be interested in don’t seem to hold her attention and the things that she knows should be forbidden are all she can think about. Especially her best friend Susannah.

Essentially Sunburn is a coming of age story about two friends exploring their sexuality, first love, small town mentality versus the modern world. It is a sumptuous tale that reads like a warm summer day. Hazy and introspective in all the right parts and I really enjoyed the story.

Sunburn by Chloe Michelle Howarth is available now.

For more information regarding Chloe Michelle Howarth (@ChloeMHowarth) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Verve Books (@VERVE_Books) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: When We Were Young

Author: Dawn Goodwin

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Head of Zeus

The Blurb

Four best friends. One of them is dead. Are their secrets safe? 

Uni friends Stacey, Paula, Bev and Valentina used to be inseparable until one weekend before graduation when nothing was ever the same again.

Thirty years later, reunited at Valentina’s funeral, Stacey receives a letter written by her late friend asking for one last wish… that the three friends go back to where things fell apart and finally bury the hatchet.

As they revisit their old haunts of their uni days and follow a series of clues left by Valentina, their friend’s death begins to look suspicious and it is up to them to find out what happened – but they all have secrets to hide.

They say good friends are hard to come by, but when there is so much at stake and someone is lurking in the shadows, how do you know who is a friend and who is a foe?

The Review

One of my favourite things to read about is friendship. I love a story which looks at the nuances of friendship so imagine my excitement when I picked up When We Were Young and along with friendship I get the added element of a murder mystery.

When news of Valentina’s death comes the panic of Stacey, Paula and Bev rises. See, the four girls have a secret, one which one of them has taken to the grave…or has she.

When We Were Young looks back at toxic friendship and how one persons obsession can land others into a whole world of trouble.

This is a great book to read and allows you to remember the friendships of your youth and begin to wonder whether they were are innocent as you thought.

When We Were Young by Dawn Goodwin is available now.

For more information regarding Dawn Goodwin (@DGoodwinAuthor) please visit www.dawngoodwin.com.

For more information regarding Head of Zeus (@HoZ_Books) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Girl Friends

Author: Holly Bourne

Pages: 444 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

“Men see women in two separate categories. There are the women they sleep with, and the women they fall in love with. And they will treat you differently based on that.”

From the day they first meet as teenagers Fern and Jessica are best friends. Despite their differences, they are there for each other throughout everything, navigating the difficulties of growing up and fitting in. That is, until Jessica crosses a line that Fern can’t forgive.

But now, more than ten years later, Jessica has unexpectedly reappeared in Fern’s life.

A lot has changed for them both – but can their relationship be different now they are older? Is it possible for either of them to rewrite the role that they have been cast in? Or will their shared history ultimately be doomed to repeat itself?

Set between the present day and the past, GIRL FRIENDS is a blisteringly funny and devastating novel: both a joyful celebration of female friendship and a razor-sharp look at the damage we can all cause to those we claim to love the most.

The Review

There are some books that really resonate with you. You see yourself in a character or you empathise with a storyline. Girl Friends by Holly Bourne did that for me. Besides being set during my the same timeline as my teenage to new adult years, the things that happened or events experienced are similar to things that I went through. Mainly spending my summers at the Leeds festival (whoop whoop) and struggling with a friendship.

Friendship is the main theme of Girl Friends and Holly Bourne explores how the relationships between friends can be both a source of comfort but equally can be toxic. It looks at how they seem in real time but also how with hindsight we can see all the bad things. Sometimes at the detriment of the good memories.

The friendship between Fern and Jessica is both all consuming and fraught with difficulty. Fern’s insecurities put strain on their adult relationship but Bourne has countered this showing us all of the things that Jessica did in their friendship to make Fern feel the way she did.

When reading the story I got so invested in their relationship. I knew I disliked Jessica’s actions but there were obviously fueled by her insecurities. I felt for Fern but she showed her absolute worst side by her jealousy but I couldn’t help feel for her.

I really feel that Holly Bourne has tapped into what it is like to have a complex friendship with someone. How it can be all consuming and can make and break you on a daily basis. How that friendship can bring out the best in you and also bring out the absolute worst in you at the same time. And how if that friendship ends it can be the biggest heartbreak you ever feel. Reading Girl Friends felt cathartic for me. I’ve never had resolution with my broken friendship but it felt good reading something that validates my feelings.

Girl Friends by Holly Bourne is available now.

For more information regarding Holly Bourne (@holly_bourneYA) please visit www.hollybourne.co.uk.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit www.hodder.co.uk.

Title: The Nicest Girl

Author: Sophie Jo

Pages: 196 Pages

Publisher: UCLan Publishing

The Blurb

Sixth-former Anna Campbell is the go-to girl when anyone needs anything. Teachers, friends, random strangers… It never occurred to her that she could say no. After all, Anna Campbell’s always been too ‘nice’ to say no. But Anna is sick of being that girl, the nice girl, and she’s going to do something about it. Only, is she prepared to risk losing everything she cares about – even herself – along the way…? A novel for anyone who’s ever struggled to put themselves first.

The Review

What do you do when everyone sees you as a bit of a doormat? This is the question that protagonist Anna Campbell is asking herself. She is there for everybody because she has a pathological inability to say no or to let people down. Not only is she carrying the burden of being a teenager doing her A-Levels but she has to buddy up with the new kid, is pressurised into taking a job that she really doesn’t have time for and deal with a needy best friend and quite frankly it has all got a bit much for her.

We all know an Anna – some of us might even be an Anna – which is why The Nicest Girl is so relatable. We desperately want Anna to grow a backbone and stand up for herself but know that it could come at a cost.

I really enjoyed this short YA story. It was sensitive and handled difficult issues such as toxic friendship in a really approachable way. Sophie Jo got to the crux of the issues whilst still maintaining the dignity of her characters. I did hope for more resolution from other secondary characters like Ryan and her tertiary characters (Sophie’s friends) were interesting enough to have their own plot lines explored – maybe in a multiverse or short story?

The Nicest Girl is a good, solid YA that deserves a place in all libraries.

The Nicest Girl by Sophie Jo is available now.

For more information regarding Sophie Jo (@sophiejowrites) please visit her Twitter account.

For more information regarding UCLan Publishing (@publishinguclan) please visit their Twitter account.