Girl 99 by Andy Jones

Girl99Synopsis

When Tom’s girlfriend walks out on him the day before Christmas, he feels humiliated but not necessarily heartbroken. Sadie wasn’t, after all, The One. If we’re being precise, she was number eighty-five.
 
And so, for reasons that are only mostly wrong, Tom embarks on a mission to bring his number of encounters up to a nice neat one hundred.
 
Over the course of his quest he sleeps with a colleague, a colleague of a friend, a friend of a friend, a friend of a friend’s wife, the estate agent selling his flat and several more besides.
 
Everything is going, if not well, then at least according to plan…and then Tom meets Verity. Whether she’s The One remains to be seen, but she’s certainly more than just another number.

Review

I’ve read the first two books by Andy Jones and they were both very good, so I was definitely looking forward to this one. It has a slightly lighter tone than the other two, but still has the same sense of fun, and I was soon relaxing as I delved into the story.
 
The writing is as sharp and observant as the other two. You have the funny moments, even when it’s also quite bad at the same time, there is some humour to it.
 
I was worried initially that I wouldn’t like Tom because I couldn’t relate to his objective and at the start he was more about the numbers than the people in one way, but I was stupid for worrying. I actually really liked him, he’s flawed (aren’t we all?!) but likeable. I loved reading about him and his family. As he was a fair bit older than his sister, it left him in the middle a bit, but he stuck up for his sister a lot which was great to see. Also to see his sister grow as well, especially when going on
 
This book also stars El, who also starred in Andy’s book ‘The Two of Us’, but this book is set before then, so El’s illness is less progressed. This didn’t stop the emotion being there. el’s relationship with Phil was absolutely heartbreaking. It added a bit more depth, to a story that is relatively light hearted.
 
This book was a fairly quick read that offers a lot of heart, but also the sense of fun I’ve come to enjoy from Andy’s books, even more so than the other books given the lighter overall tone.
 
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Published by: Lake Union
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
 
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andyjones_croppedAbout The Author

Andy Jones lives in London with his wife and two little girls. During the day he works in an advertising agency; at weekends and horribly early in the mornings, he writes fiction.
 
You can find Andy on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram as andyjonesauthor
 

The Secret Lives Of The Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain

secretamirsistersSynopsis

The eagerly awaited debut novel from the much-loved winner of The Great British Bake Off
 
The four Amir sisters – Fatima, Farah, Bubblee and Mae – are the only young Muslims in the quaint English village of Wyvernage.
 
On the outside, despite not quite fitting in with their neighbours, the Amirs are happy. But on the inside, each sister is secretly struggling.
 
Fatima is trying to find out who she really is – and after fifteen attempts, finally pass her driving test. Farah is happy being a wife but longs to be a mother. Bubblee is determined to be an artist in London, away from family tradition, and Mae is coping with burgeoning Youtube stardom.
 
Yet when family tragedy strikes, it brings the Amir sisters closer together and forces them to learn more about life, love, faith and each other than they ever thought possible.

Review

First off, I love the Bake off, so was clearly intrigued when I found out Nadiya was releasing another book, but not cooking or baking, oh no, it was women’s fiction. So would this book be as good as her cakes look? The answer would be yes.
 
The writing is sharp and funny and certainly kept me reading as all the characters were relatable in someway. They evoked sympathy, annoyance and a whole range of emotions. We hear from all four sisters at separate times, each is distinct from each other and it was interesting to see the inner workings of a family that were close knit, but equally, secretive at the same time. Each sister having to navigate pleasing their parents with their own struggles.
 
While we hear from all four sisters, the main focus is on Fatima. She is shy and incredibly self-conscious. I completely warmed to her and connected with how she was feeling, relating to her weight issues and it also saddened me how disconnected she seemed from the family. You could tell she loved her sisters and parents dearly, but always worried they looked down on her, because of how useless she felt. I think her driving instructor, Ash was a great influence on her.
 
I also really liked Mae, despite doing something incredibly naïve which hurts her family, I think it shows the age difference between the sisters, and I can imagine the fascination i’d have with youtube and twitter etc. if I was that age. She clearly meant no Malice.
 
I felt sympathy for the secret Farah was keeping, and then to have her world turned upside down with all the uncertainty must be very hard.
 
The only thing I wish was that there was more conclusion to Bubblee’s story, we didn’t really get to know her as much as the other sister’s I feel, it does lead me to hope there is a sequel about her, and maybe more from Mae. As I said this book mainly focused on Fatima, and actually there was a fair bit on Farah too, so I think another book focusing on Bubblee and Mae would be perfect.
 
Overall I really enjoyed this book, I could barely put it down. It was funny, completely true to life, you can definitely imagine each of these characters being alive, as if it was an autobiography rather than fiction. More please!
 
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Published by: HQ
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
 
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Falling by Julie Cohen

falling-juliecohenSynopsis

Can you imagine keeping a secret so devastating, you couldn’t even tell the people you love?
 
Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years.
 
Jo’s secret could smash apart the ‘normal’ family life she’s fought so hard to build.
 
Lydia’s could bring her love – or the loss of everything that matters to her.
 
Grandmother, mother and daughter – three women whose lives are falling apart. But one summer’s day, a single dramatic moment will force their secrets into the open.
 
Can they save each other from falling?

Review

I’ve never read a book by Julie Cohen, and judging by the amount of praise I read about Julie’s books, I was clearly missing out so I was eager to make amends and start with this book.
 
Julie’s writing is fantastic. She manages to create a mixture of emotions. The first chapter, I felt concern for Honor, then jumping straight to the second chapter I found myself laughing as Jo attempts to get him on the bus with two young children, on a day where nothing is going right and much later on I found myself crying, with a whole load of feelings in the middle.
 
The three viewpoints means we get to know the three women’s secrets in great detail, ensuring we feel for them, especially Lydia and Honor. Personally for me, I didn’t really get why Jo’s secret was really such a big deal, I know it breaks a promise with her 16 year old daughter, but then again, I have the advantage of knowing why Lydia was so adamant about this promise in the heat of the moment, and also, I think it’s a very motherly thing and I’m not a mother, nor am I terribly broody so I think if I was then I would get it.
 
Honor starts out as grumpy and as snobby as her reputation promises. Her distaste for Jo, her daughter-in-law, couldn’t be more obvious. However she knows she needs help, so has to reluctantly accept Jo’s offer. Despite her grumpiness, I always felt it had a tinge of loneliness to it. It was hard to dislike Honor when reading her chapters. However her barbed comments when Jo was commentating sometimes felt a bit mean.
 
Jo is one of those people who is generally upbeat and a people pleaser. She clearly hopes her upbeat attitude rubs off on other people, and her need to please people means she worries and then has the tendency to flap about, much to the annoyance of Honor and Lydia.
 
This was also to her detriment. She never found time for herself, or think about what she wants from life. In her mind she was a housewife or mother, and that’s all she needed to be. But as cliché as it is to ‘find yourself’, I wish she had spent some time doing just that, before she met Richard, or while she had the au-pair to help out with the two young children.
 
Lydia’s chapters mostly start with an inner monologue where you soon start to learn her secret, and for me her story was my favourite. Her secret was so huge, especially for someone who is only 160 and seeing her struggle pulled on my heart-strings at times. I did like seeing her bond with Honor towards the middle-end of this book, it was great reading their scenes together.
 
While I probably seem really harsh on Jo, I did like all three women pretty equally. They clearly needed each other and it was a simply beautiful story. A fantastic read that made me feel a real mix of emotions, as I hoped it would.
 
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Published by: Transworld

Gratefully received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
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Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

Flawed-coverSynopsis

Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.
 
But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.
 
In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

Review

I have loved all of Cecelia Ahern’s adult books and have done since I first read ‘P.S. I Love You’ many years ago. When I found out she was writing a YA dystopian I was excited to say the least. I have read a few (though not many) dystopian books and have loved them all, well apart from ‘Insurgent’, the second book in the divergent series (one of my few DNF books). My expectations were high, and they were not disappointed.
 
The book was a really interesting premise, anyone found to be flawed in a moral or ethical dilemma (though not necessarily an illegal act, there is still prison) is branded on one of five body parts, each with a relation to your flaw. For example, if you’ve lied your tongue is branded, if you’ve overstepped the line then your right foot sole is branded. Everyone who isn’t flawed looks down on the flawed, and ignore the injustices that the flawed system has. It imposes sets of rules on the flawed, making them wear armbands, only allowing basic food (bar one luxury a week), not allowing travel abroad are among the few mentioned, and every perfect person isn’t allowed to aide the flawed.
 
This clearly draws parallels with Nazi Germany and it’s not hard to see the ‘flaws’ and injustice in their system. This is ever more apparent as we read Celestine’s point of view. At first we see her struggle with how she feels knowing that a flawed person lives on her street, even though she doesn’t think the reason she was found flawed was just, and knows the woman and her daughter well. At one point she was conflicted about whether to say hi to her friend, would it be seen as helping her ‘flawed’ mother? It was slightly tough to read, but over the first part of the book you see her being conflicted a lot. She is a very logical person, and often sees things as black and white, but when she breaks the rule and gets into trouble, you find yourself cheering, seeing some brightness, despite what happens after.
 
The supporting cast were for the most part great. I loved Celestine’s parents. Judge Crevan was domineering and imposing as you’d expect. I was also surprised by one character in particular, Art. He wasn’t what I expected. I will be really interested to read what happens to him.
 
While I wish there was more lore telling in this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I was very surprised that this book got to me emotionally, I felt a mixture of emotions, something I didn’t expect. I felt angry, shocked, a few glimpses of warmth, and there were even a few moments where I teared up. I cannot wait till book 2, it will be on my ‘buy immediately’ list for sure.
 
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Published by: Harper Collins Childrens
Gratefully received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
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