Perfect Girl – Michele Gorman

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9/10: Fab cover. Much better than the striped-shirt coffee-stained alternate version, which doesn’t make any sense to me…

“Carol can just about keep her nose above water, but her life is sinking fast. Her mum treats her like the family’s personal assistant, her sister has just saddled her with impossible wedding planning and her boyfriend is so busy with work that he’s got her single-handedly running their relationship. Not that her job is any easier. As the only woman on the bank’s trading floor she spends twelve-hour days trying not to get sworn at or felt up. From the outside everything might look all right but her life is unravelling at the seams. Then, just when she thinks her colleagues can’t sink any lower, they break their own record. What’s a nice girl like Carol doing in a life like this? Something’s got to give and, for once, it’s not going to be Carol…”

I downloaded Perfect Girl as a holiday read a few months ago now, but I’ve only just got around to properly reading it (as I tend to re-read books on holiday… Thus rendering my large amount of new ebook purchases virtually redundant. But there we go). Once I started it, I found it hard to put down and was finished within a day or so. A nice, simple read – though the main character put me off somewhat…

Carol, working in the male-oriented industry of stock trading, juggles many things every day: the demands of her sexist, bullying boss – and the emotional tussles that come with working with him; trying to see her also-busy boyfriend Ben; her best friend Harriet’s tragic lovelife; her demanding sister Marley, who is engaged and relying heavily on Carol to achieve the perfect wedding; her nightmare parents, who expect Carol to plan their holiday for them and get annoyed if she dares to not help – ‘It’s for your dad’s health, Carol, but if you’re too busy to help out your parents…’) and her sort-of sister Zoe. It’s fair to say that Carol has a full plate; she’s also a complete pushover. Sacrificing her own needs for everyone else’s, Carol is always on the move and often forced to do things she doesn’t  want to do.

Things seem to be looking up for her – her big invention at work could see her company redefine the way stock trading is done and she’s finally plucked up the courage to ask Ben to move in with her – but no sooner does she make progress at work that she falls foul of some of her colleagues, and Zoe turns up on her doorstep, putting a hitch in her romantic plans with Ben. And none of the 10+ holiday cottages that she picked out for her parents, even though they meet their exacting criteria, will do…

Once Carol finally snaps and turns down the demands of her high-maintenance family, it seems like things can only get better – 2/3 ain’t bad – but when work and her relationship with Ben come under threat too, it seems like her perfect life – and her persona as the perfect girl – that she’s worked so hard to create is all about to come crashing down around her ears. Can Carol get her life back together or is everything she’s worked so hard to keep lost forever?

I enjoyed Perfect Girl; I loved the book’s fluid and easy style, and found Michele Gorman’s dialogue witty  and her characters well-drawn. But I simply couldn’t get on board with Carol’s attitude and how much of a pushover she was – and as I often note in my reviews, sympathising with the protagonist is half the battle won for the author. I also thought she ended up with totally the wrong love interest – the decision Carol makes feels a little forced and rushed – but that’s purely my opinion (I can’t resist a nerdy coder). Those gripes aside, Perfect Girl is well worth a read; it’s as a good escapist novel with not only lots of humour but an interesting insight into the stock trading industry.

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Twenties Girl – Sophie Kinsella

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8/10. Not my preferred style, but a classic Kinsella!

“Lara has always had an overactive imagination. Now she wonders if she is losing her mind. Normal twenty-something girls just don’t get visited by ghosts! But inexplicably, the spirit of Lara’s great aunt Sadie – in the form of a bold, demanding Charleston-dancing girl – has appeared to make one last request: Lara must track down a missing necklace Sadie simply can’t rest without. Lara’s got enough problems of her own. Her start-up company is floundering, her best friend and business partner has run off to Goa, and she’s just been dumped by the love of her life. But as Lara spends time with Sadie, life becomes more glamorous and their treasure hunt turns into something intriguing and romantic. Could Sadie’s ghost be the answer to Lara’s problems and can two girls from different times end up learning something special from each other?”

I’ve always been a big fan of Sophie Kinsella’s novels (perfect chick-lit escapism) but somehow I’ve missed out on Twenties Girl – until it got put into our new work library and I snapped it up.

Once I started reading, true to form, Kinsella’s writing pulled me in straightaway and didn’t let go. Unlike her other books, this novel has a supernatural theme. At the funeral of her 105-year-old great aunt Sadie, Lara – who didn’t know her aunt at all, along with the rest of her family, including her super-famous entrepreneur uncle Bill – suddenly hears a voice. And it’s belonging to a girl… who has suddenly appeared in the service room… dressed in very authentic-looking twenties clothes. She’s desperately looking for a necklace, and two things become quickly clear: that the girl is the ghost of Lara’s great aunt, Sadie, and that Lara is the only one who can see her. As Sadie’s pleadings become ever more frantic, Lara stops the cremation in its tracks to give herself time to find the necklace. It seems that Sadie won’t be able to rest in peace until she’s reunited with her beloved piece of jewellery – but finding the necklace isn’t going to be easy, and she hasn’t got long until the funeral is rescheduled. Lara barely remembers Sadie, and she starts on a wild goose chase to find it, with Sadie helping her along the way.

As things in her own life start to go awry – the recruitment business she founded with her friend Natalie is going belly-up after Natalie goes abroad indefinitely to ‘find’ herself, she’s desperately trying to get back together with the love of her life, and she’s running out of money – Lara slowly makes progress. But there are a few more hurdles that are going to get in the way. From a serious American businessman to a mysterious barking dog and her mysterious rich uncle, Lara is going to need all the help that Sadie can give her to track the elusive trinket down…

Fun, flirty and witty, Twenties Girl will remind all readers of some important things. First, that it’s never too late to change your fate; secondly, that getting everything you think you want isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; and third – that it’s important to treasure your family (unless they’re evil crooks…) as they’re not going to be around forever. Heart-warming and ultimately uplifting, this is a staple Kinsella read that should stay on your bookshelves.

The Ice Twins – S. K. Tremayne

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Cover: 6/10. Good use of colour, but way too much going on.

“A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives. But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity – that she, in fact, is Lydia – their world comes crashing down once again.”

This is a review from my lovely friend and fellow KCARAB blogger, Jane.

When identical twin Lydia falls to her death, grieving parents Angus and Sarah Moorcroft, grasp at the chance of a new start in Scotland with their surviving daughter, Kirstie.

The pressures of bereavement are already sinking the Moorcroft’s marriage when Kirstie suddenly announces that she is actually Lydia – claiming it was Kirstie who died.

Is the remaining twin just a desperately sad little girl clinging to a lost sister by pretending to be her? Or are the parents, driven by their unspoken guilt about the night of the accident, desperate to regain the ‘favourite’ twin they thought they’d lost?

As Kirstie’s behaviour becomes ever more challenging, Angus and Sarah are forced to consider the horrifying possibility that they have indeed mistaken the identity of their own child. They know one of their daughters died – but which one..?

Moving to a remote island, far from bringing them respite, starts to blur everyone’s perspective. As a terrifying winter storm sweeps towards the island, the family, already stretched taut, shatter. Is Sarah going mad or is Lydia back to haunt them? When the storm passes, what will remain?

Creepy and compelling, this is the perfect read for a chilly winter’s night.

A truly creepy tale of mistaken identity, guilt and grief that takes a young family from London to a remote Scottish island. The Ice Twins is a suspenseful thriller with an eerie setting and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy, and to Jane for the review.

In a Dark, Dark Wood

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Cover: 9/10. An exemplary blend of colour and monochome and pitch-perfect for the genre. 

“Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since the day Nora walked out of her old life and never looked back. Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen party arrives. A weekend in a remote cottage – the perfect opportunity for Nora to reconnect with her best friend, to put the past behind her. But something goes wrong. Very wrong. And as secrets and lies unravel, out in the dark, dark wood the past will finally catch up with Nora…”

I’m not going to lie – in fact I’m going to put it straight out there – and admit: I chose this purely based on cover. My partner gave me a WHSmiths voucher and I knew exactly what it would go on. I walked in, looked at the books on offer, and decided on In a Dark Dark Wood straight away (after having a quick fondle of all of them, of course). Not a decision I regret at all.

The book plunges us right in to the life of Nora (short for Leonora –novelists really do like bringing the archaic names back to life), who has just received an unexpected invite to the hen do of her former best friend. Not a wedding invite, mind – just to a catch-up weekend in the remote depths of Northumberland, and a geometric, modern cottage called The Glass House (FYI, what I think the book should actually have been called – it would have got a 10/10 vote if so). Nora isn’t sure whether to go – it’s been a decade since she talked to Clare – but after talking to another old friend, Nina, her curiosity is piqued and she decides to accept the invite extended by ‘Flo’ – Clare’s maid of honour, who is organising the getaway.

But soon she regrets not simply deleting the email once it arrives. Cooped up in an unsettling house in the depths of a tangled wood, in the company of Nina, the sharp-tongued playwright Tom, recent mother Melanie, the rather manic Flo, and Clare – the guest of honour, the bride-to-be, and someone Flo seems obsessed with (“Clare’s perfect, do you know what I mean? It’s easy to want that for yourself, and feel like imitation is the way to get it.”) Nora tries hard to gel with the group, but things start unravelling faster once she finds out that Clare’s husband-to-be is no less than her former boyfriend James; someone Nora was once very much in love with, and who dumped her by text years ago. Fast-forward Melanie leaving to be with her family, some mysterious footprints in the snow outside in spite of The Glass House’s isolated location, some alcohol and a ouija board, and everything suddenly takes a horrific turn for the worse. A break-in in the middle of the night disturbs everyone. Flo, whose aunt owns the house, is determined to defend it with a gun – (“It’s loaded with blanks”) – but the situation devolves even further when someone shoots at the intruder with what is clearly a real bullet. And the intruder isn’t even a real intruder – it’s someone they all know very well, and it’s someone who is now dying in the middle of the night, and in the middle of the woods.

The book flips between the group’s actions at the house and Nora being kept in at the hospital, interviewed by the police about what really happened that night. But with everyone who was there giving different testimonies, Nora’s memory loss and multiple injuries, and with more than one of them hovering on the brink of death, the truth is getting harder and harder to find… Who shot at the intruder, and who replaced the blanks in the gun with real bullets? Is it an unexpected series of events… or a perfectly executed crime?

In a Dark, Dark Wood keeps you guessing as everyone’s motives, actions and personalities come into question. Ruth Ware’s sizzling pace and dialogue hurries the story along (I read this in two short sittings and even hushed my partner when he dared to speak during the closing chapters) whilst her characterisations are a pitch-perfect mix of plausible innocence and possible guilt. Unreliable narrators are rife in fiction at the moment, but Ware has managed to achieve what even The Girl on the Train didn’t; genuine tension that lingered long after I closed the book, a true un-put-downable writing style, and a plot that kept me guessing until the real culprit came forward. Definitely one to have on your bookshelf, even if just for the beautiful cover.

An unexpected absence…

Hi guys!

A quick apology for KCARAB fans as I haven’t been very active in recent months. A perfect storm of moving house, family goings-on and a very busy period at work meant that I had very little to no spare time to read books, let alone review them.

I’m planning to come back full-strength in 2016 though; I already have some reviews waiting to be uploaded, and my aim this year is to make more time for reading and share my thoughts on the books I’ve loved – even those I’ve enjoyed a little less. I’m also adding cover votes to each book, as we all contradict the popular, well-worn ‘don’t judge a book’ phrase.

If you have any book suggestions for me, please let me know – I love a good romance novel in my downtime, plus a chilling thriller (I’ve really hopped on the unreliable narrator bandwagon) or a good piece of dystopian/speculative fiction (I love Margaret Atwood); even crossover YA fiction (The Book Thief was supposed to be a young adult novel…).

I’m also thinking of expanding my blog a little further in terms of reviewing book-based films (often very sadly lacking compared to their paper counterparts) and I’m toying with the idea of writing a novel myself. Working in publishing dispels many fantasies you may have about one day creating your own book, but I feel inspiration nibbling at my brain that deserves to be given air.

Thanks for sticking with me during an unexpected downtime and stay tuned!

Keeping calm and reading books,

Sarah

The Sisters – Claire Douglas

25041402“One lied. One died. When one sister dies, the other must go to desperate lengths to survive. After a tragic accident, still haunted by her twin sister’s death, Abi is making a fresh start in Bath. But when she meets siblings Bea and Ben, she is quickly drawn into their privileged and unsettling circle. As Abi tries to keep up with the demands of her fickle friends, strange things start to happen – precious letters go missing and threatening messages are left in her room. Is this the work of the beautiful and capricious Bea? Or is Abi willing to go to any lengths to get attention?”

On my way to the airport for a brief holiday, I picked up The Sisters for something to read on the plane. Although I usually, and reluctantly, take my Kindle with me on holiday (to combat baggage restrictions), the cover caught my eye and the blurb intrigued. Crime and thriller novels aren’t usually my preferred genre, but something told me that Claire Douglas’ novel would be right up my street.

The story is narrated mainly through Abi, whose life is in tatters after the unexpected death of her beloved twin sister, Lucy. Abi can’t stop thinking about her, and she sees her everywhere. She mistakes a girl on the street – Bea – for Lucy, and approaches her, quickly drawn in to Bea’s Lucy-like manners and likeness. When Bea invites her to a public showing of her jewellery at her house in Bath, Abi can’t refuse. Enchanted with the spacious house, which Bea owns with her twin brother Ben, and rents rooms out to others, Abi quickly accepts when Bea offers her an upcoming room – rent-free. Hoping to put Lucy’s death behind her and move on with her life, Abi moves in, finding romance with the handsome Ben. But there’s something odd about the relationship between the twins, and once Abi starts seeing Ben, Bea starts acting oddly towards her and their close, happy friendship becomes a thing of the past. A chain of increasingly unsettling events make Abi feel like she may not be welcome in the house anymore – but who is the culprit? Is it the work of Bea, one of the other renters, or could it be Abi herself…?

The Sisters is very cleverly written, alternating from two unreliable narrators – Abi, written in first person, and Bea, written in the third person – that you keeps you guessing as you turn the pages. Similar in places to Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep, Douglas weaves a menacing undertone throughout the book, subtly and masterfully increasing tension until the explosive denouement. Gripping, insular and well-paced, The Sisters is one of 2015’s must reads.

Techbitch – Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Techbitch “Imogen Tate, editor-in-chief of Glossy magazine, is a legend in the fashion world. But when she returns from a sabbatical to find her twenty-six-year-old former assistant, Eve Morton, behind her desk, she realises times are changing. Eve announces she has been brought in to turn Imogen’s beloved magazine into an app. With herself at the helm. In this terrifying new world, Imogen is almost invisible, but she isn’t ready to give up her hard-earned career without a fight. Even if it means going to war with a ruthless Techbitch…”

When I received my copy of Techbitch, I was immediately impressed by its production values. Even though it’s just a proof copy, Penguin have gone to town on this book, using a clear acetate cover, with the title and author name, wrapped around the book. When it’s taken off, all we see is the cover image: the New York skyline, which is very fitting for this book, as I imagine it’s the view Imogen Tate sees when she looks out of her window at Glossy – the beloved magazine that she edits. When she comes back to the office following a half-year medical leave, she’s surprised to see an old face – Eve Morton, her once-treasured assistant. But Eve has evolved, into a glossy, tech-savvy, iPhone-wielding ‘Techbitch’ who has been hired by Glossy‘s owners to turn the magazine into an app, embracing the increasingly digital society we live in – a change that has hit the publishing industry probably the hardest.

But Imogen has no idea how to tweet something, or Like something, and she thinks a hashtag is some kind of food. How is she going to turn Glossy into an app? While she struggles to embrace all of the new technology surrounding her, she’s also having difficulties with Eve. Once a sweet, grateful girl, desperate to help, she’s now a manipulative, conniving woman who is doing everything she can to show Imogen up whilst she tries to ‘update’ the magazine – even though she’s driving it into the ground by not knowing how Glossy works, not treating her staff properly and trying to do business in a tacky, pushy manner – the exact antithesis of Glossy.

As Imogen grits her teeth and gets on with it, she’s having problems at home, too. She’s barely around to see her husband and her daughter, a once happy and bright child, is being bullied so badly that it’s destroying her self-esteem. The bully is hiding behind a fake name – but when their identity is revealed to Imogen, she knows exactly what she has to do to get her family – and her career – back on track…

Techbitch is a fast-paced, witty read that delivers a satirical attack on our increasingly, sometimes ridiculously, technology-ridden society. With its cast of razor-sharp characters that will make you grateful for your sane (by comparison) colleagues, scatterings of genuine sartorial advice and unputdownable writing, this is an addictive read that should be on every female twentysomething’s shelf. You won’t just love it; you’ll Like it.

Many thanks to Penguin for the review copy.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

fangirl-rainbow-rowell-cover-677x1024“Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. Without Wren, Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend and a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible…”

I love Rainbow Rowell’s books. Attachments was more of a hit for me than Eleanor & Park (slightly too much on the bitter side of bittersweet) and as soon as I started reading it, Fangirl quickly started vying for the top spot.

Protagonist Cath is feeling lost and out of place at University of Nebraska, where she has just arrived. Her twin sister Wren is also attending the university, but, tired of sharing everything, she decides to room separately.

All Wren wants to do is cut loose and try out new things for herself, but it isn’t so easy for shy, introverted Cath, who feels lost without her perpetual shadow. Avoiding her brusque roommate Reagan and her almost offensively charming boyfriend Levi, Cath retreats, surviving on protein bars stashed away in her room and getting lost in her Fiction Writing class assignments. She also retreats into the world of Simon Snow – the fictional character in her favourite magical book series (Fangirl‘s Harry Potter). She’s Cath by day and Magicath by night, a fan-fiction author with hundreds of thousands of hits on her alternative Simon storyline Carry On, Simon.

As Cath’s worries start to stack up – she’s barely leaving her room, her hardly hears from her sister, who seems intent on drinking herself into oblivion, she’s getting in trouble in Fiction Writing for using her fan-fiction stories and, on top of all of that, her dad’s mental health starts to deteriorate. Left on his own back in Omaha – Cath and Wren’s mother abandoned them when they were eight – Arthur Avery takes a turn for the worrying, resulting in Cath rushing home to take care of him. Unhappy with her life back at college, she’s determined to drop out and move home – but her father adamantly refuses.

It’s a good thing, too, as his breakdown sparks off a chain of events that will change Cath’s life forever. Can she finally overcome her anxieties and let love in? Will Wren calm down her wild partying ways and start speaking to Cath again – and how will Carry On, Simon end?

Poignant, tender and ultimately heart-warming, Fangirl will hit the mark with every teenage girl – especially the ones who sometimes don’t think that their hair looks nice enough, that their t-shirts are too lame and that there are cooler things to do in life than drink yourself stupid. Cath is a warm, relateable and – in her own way, with her own collection of charming idiosyncracies and her moral standpoint – model protagonist.

Attachments still definitely wins out on the adult fiction side, but Fangirl definitely ticks every box for pitch-perfect YA reading.

Brooklyn Girls: Angie – Gemma Burgess

untitled“Angie James is lost. A regular poster girl for Generation Screwed, being 22 isn’t what she expected. What happens when having fun isn’t, you know, fun? In the Brooklyn townhouse she shares with her best friends, Angie wants to figure out what to do with her life. But wild parties, bad dates, dead-end jobs, demanding fashionistas and even true love just keep getting in the way… Who knew adulthood would be so damn grown-up?”

Earlier in the year, I reviewed the first book in the ‘Brooklyn Girls’ series – Pia – which I unexpectedly loved, and I was excited to get started on Angie. As one of Pia‘s most mysterious, troubled characters, I was interested to learn more about her backstory.

Troublesome Angie is a fashionista with a penchant for drama and a slash-and-burn way of dealing with her problems. Her story starts a couple of months before her twenty-third birthday when, over a leisurely breakfast, Angie’s mother announces that she’s divorcing her father – a revelation that leaves Angie feeling hollow. She heads home where she hopes to find one of the girls, but they’re all at work – unlike Angie, they’re all employed.

“All I want – no, all I need – is to forget about everything that’s wrong with my life. I need to escape.”

A few days later, Angie is aboard a boat in Turks and Caicos after an invite from her friend Stef and a split-second decision. But some drugs and a few drinks later, Stef isn’t looking so friendly any more… Another split-second decision later, Angie’s jumped off the boat and is swimming back to shore, leaving all of her possessions behind. However, the land she thought was so close is a lot further away. Luckily one of the boat crew, Sam, is paddling after her in a dinghy and rescues her. It seems like he could be the white knight Angie desperately needs. Bolstered by her feelings for Sam, Angie starts to knock other parts of her life into shape. As she gradually starts turning things around, she begins to face her problems head on rather than running away. But when a new revelation threatens to unbalance everything she has been working so hard to achieve, can she keep her cool, or will she resort to her old methods of ‘dealing’ with her problems…?

Much like PiaAngie is funky, fresh and cool, laced heavily with Burgess’ surefire wit, sparkle and irresistible narrative style. I await the next in the series, Coco, with bated breath…

Many thanks to Quercus for the review copy.

Never Google Heartbreak – Emma Garcia

Never Google Heartbreak“When her fiancé Rob breaks off their engagement for the third time, Viv does what any girl would do – she Googles heartbreak. Confronted by tales of misery, she decides to set-up her own self-help website for the broken-hearted. But as Viv passes through the three essential stages of grief (denial, vodka, disastrous haircut), she becomes determined that it’s not too late to try and get Rob back. When things get out of hand after a drunken declaration of love at an extremely inappropriate moment, Viv’s scruffy, tequila-swilling best friend Max is there to pick up the pieces. Viv starts to realise that maybe the real thing has been under her nose all this time, and now – one ex and a massive error of judgement later – she has to face the question: What’s the craziest thing you’ll do for love?”

At the start of Never Google Heartbreak, Viv Summers’ hopes are high. She’s about to marry her handsome boyfriend Rob after two false starts and everything is booked and organised. But then deja vu strikes when he announces he can’t go through with it – for the third time. Determined to shock him into finally making it down the aisle, Viv breaks it off and moves out. But what starts out as a tactical plan ends in heartbreak when she realises that Rob has already got a new girlfriend and – horror of horrors – there’s suddenly a flashy engagement ring on her third finger… Suddenly, a temporary break has become a permanent lifestyle choice and all of Viv’s plans to prise him away from his new, beautiful girlfriend end in misery. The rest of her life isn’t going too well either – her job is going down the pan, and her grandmother, who basically raised Viv due to her noncommittal, absent parents, is starting to experience ill health.

As Viv tries everything she can think of to get Rob back – including trying to make him jealous by attending a wedding they’ve both been invited to with her friend Max – she’s working on hernew website, Never Google Heartbreak, which offers break-up and relationship anecdotes for newly-single singletons worldwide. Each chapter starts with a great selection of quotes on different topics, like ‘Top Tips to Look Your Best’, ‘Ten Dos and Don’ts to Impress Your Ex’ and ‘What Women Want’. But things take a turn when things suddenly happen between her and Max and feelings she’s never noticed start to surface, and they take their friendship to the next level. Everything’s looking up for Viv, until Rob comes back onto the scene, and Max disappears. Things at work and with Viv’s grandmother get even worse, and everything comes to a head when Viv realises for once and for all that she doesn’t want to be with Rob. She wants to be with Max. But he’s nowhere to be seen…

Never Google Heartbreak is, like all other books in the same genre, slightly predictable in its formula. But with unique new components – like the website, Max’s disappearance and Viv’s PR campaign to get him back – Emma Garcia gives chick-lit a refreshing new twist. It’s genuinely hard to tell what’s going to happen towards the end and I found myself racing to get there and find out what happens. Heartbreak is a well-known subject amongst most of the public and Viv is a relatable, friendly character the reader can sympathise with. The book ended very well but I’d love to see a Max-and-Viv centred sequel, as Max is a complex, interesting character we don’t quite get to the bottom of. More, please, Emma Garcia! (And an Où est Max t-shirt I can wear, if you please. I think we all need a little more Max in our lives.)

Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for the review copy.