The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper

The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper

 

 

36389285Publisher: Headline

Publishing Date: 20th September 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

If Melody hadn’t run out of de-icer that day, she would never have slipped and banged her head. She wouldn’t be left with a condition that makes her sing when she’s nervous. And she definitely wouldn’t have belted out the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ in assembly at her son’s school.

If Dev hadn’t taken the kids to the zoo that day, then the accident wouldn’t have happened. He wouldn’t have left Flynn and Rose without a dad. Or shattered the love of his life’s heart.

But if they hadn’t seen the missing person report that day, they might never have taken the trip to Cornwall. And, in the last place they expected, discovered what it really means to be ‘Us’.

Rating: five-stars

Life hasn’t been kind for the King family. Melody is trying her best after her husband Dev mysteriously disappeared years ago. Flynn, having suffered facial injuries and being blind in one eye in end result has his own battles to fight at school, as well as his sister Rose. Melody, following an unfortunate accident, has a very unusual and embarrassing habit of launching into song when she’s stressed or in anxiety. Rose is desperate to find her father and when she comes across a notification about a missing person, a whole new chapter in the King’s family life begins…

Ah, feck it, guys, what a gorgeous, poignant and at the same time funny book it was! I’ve never supposed it’s going to end in this way, and even though I felt disappointed how it turned out – I didn’t want it to end like this – No. Way. Please. No. Just. No – but I accepted the way the author decided to wrap this story up. It didn’t spoil the book for me – it’s really hard to explain, to be honest, because you may say, what, you didn’t like the ending and yet you loved the book, hello? Yes, it’s exactly like this, because I totally, absolutely fell for Melody and it was just so unfair, but on the other hand it signed the story off in a beautiful, poignant way.

It is this kind of book that you’re going to devour in one sitting, wanting to read one chapter more and more. Yes, there were moments that I thought it drags too much, it focused too much on Melody’s condition and it felt as if it was repeating itself, and also the moments when Melody was singing, especially the quoting of the songs almost line after line were too much for my liking, but you know, those were only a few minor problems and altogether it was simply beautiful – an emotional roller – coaster journey, full of tears and laughs. It was funny and heart – wrenching, and it’s going to break your heart, mend it and break it again – be prepared and have your tissues at the ready.

This story is told in the first person’s narration, from the four main characters points of view. Those four characters are Melody, her children Flynn and Rose and her missing husband Dev. They all had beautiful, distinctive voices full of personality and the way they were telling their stories was heart – breaking. I immediately fell for them all and to see what they’re all going through, their stress, it was so sad. Emma Cooper has written all those feelings and emotions in such a beautiful, realistic way and you really have a feeling that you’re sitting in the characters’ heads. Melody was absolutely brilliant, full of life and so vibrant and I loved how she was around her children and how she fought for them. Flynn, such a typical teenager but with a huge heart in the right place. And Rose, the troubled Rose who tried to solve her problems in her own way – such a perfectly imperfect family that is going to stay with you for a very long time. The bond between the family is beautiful, so poignant and the way the children went to protect their mother was simply heart – wrenching.
I’m not sure how the author did this, but she has written a book where you just feel a part of the characters’ world, you feel as if you know them from inside out, all their problems and luck become yours. It doesn’t happen often that I feel that way when reading the book. I also loved that it has a darker side, challenging characters in some really difficult situations. It wasn’t too light, but is also wasn’t heavy, just the perfect mix of everything you look for in your books.

“The Songs of Us” was a truly surprising novel, full of twists and turns, sad but also incredibly uplifting. The characters were portrayed in very realistic way and they were very true to life, full of flaws and facing thousand little battles and showing what a real family looks like. It had a refreshing, unique storyline written in a sensitive, gentle way. Bitter – sweet and close to life, it’s going to make you laugh out loud and cry crocodile tears. A story of love, hope, broken hearts, forgiveness and second chances, about awful coincidences and fate playing with your life, an astonishing tale about unconditional love and loss, grief, relationships and family dynamics. Powerful and honest and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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Friend of the Family by Tasmina Perry / Blog Tour

Friend of the Family by Tasmina Perry

 

 

41027488Publisher: Headline

Publishing Date: 20th September 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Suspense, Mystery

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of THE POOL HOUSE, this dark and twisty pageturner is perfect for fans of BBC’s THE REPLACEMENT, THE GIRLFRIEND by Michelle Frances and THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE.

You trust your friend, so you’d trust her daughter. Wouldn’t you…?

When an old university friend gets in touch with a request for work experience for her daughter, magazine editor Amy agrees. Twenty-year-old Josie walks into Amy’s office, moves into the basement of her Notting Hill house and is soon helping out with her children after Amy’s nanny is hit by a car. It seems the natural thing therefore for Amy to invite Josie on the family’s annual to Provence. When a series of things start to go wrong in their luxurious villa, Amy begins to suspect that Josie isn’t quite the friendly presence she appears. But when no one, not even her husband believes her, she realises she will have to play Josie at her own game in order to expose her true intentions…

Don’t miss this gripping, addictive read. You’ll never see a houseguest in the same way again…

My Review

Amy Shepherd has done well for herself – she has a lovely family and a great job as editor of a popular women’s magazine “Verve”. When a friend from her childhood, Karen, gets in touch with her, Amy is surprised but also happy. Karen hasn’t done as well as Amy, and so Amy finds herself agreeing to give Karen’s daughter Josie some work experience at her magazine. Not only this – she also puts her up at her home for the time.
However, with Josie’s arrival things seem to go belly up for Amy and her family on all counts – things begin to unravel and Amy starts to wonder, who has she let into her home? Is Josie sabotaging her life? And if so, why?

It’s a real coincidence that simultaneously I’ve been reading two books with the same leading focus of attention – inviting an old friend/daughter of a friend to your house, opening your door and heart and opportunities. What I find really good is the fact that they both were on the same level of suspense and interest.

The mystery, the “I Invited her in, I want her out” went somehow astray on the pages between Amy’s job and the banter. I wanted more tension, more puzzles to solve, really more things that could have really indicated that Josie was the real intruder. There was a moment that I felt desperate with Amy, I though she has Josie – obsession that looks very unhealthy. I can remember a book with a similar subject matter and also that it kept me on my tenterhooks, I felt all kind of emotions and I wanted this “bad girl” out so badly – here, however, it was mostly a story about Amy’s career life and it really, and sadly, lacked in the tension, suspicion, mystery. Yes, I haven’t see the final twist coming – it was a great surprise but the execution was too weak for my liking, and the things happened so quickly and too conveniently to make me feel satisfied.

What I really adored in this book was the way the characters were written – they were brilliantly developed and their personality trails were so well captured! They were not immediately – or not at all – likeable but the times when I though that you have to adore the characters to enjoy the book are long gone, I actually appreciate it more when the characters are not easy to like but they’re drawn in such a way that you feel a part of their world and you’re immediately wrapped up into their lives and relationships, and it was like this in this novel. They were mostly very smug and very self – satisfied, they all made mistakes, they all had tons of money and they always found their ways out, coming up smiling. They were not the ones to appreciate what they have, taking things mostly for granted.

“Friend of the Family” was a sharp observed and honest story about bold and beautiful, about rich and glamorous eventually felling off their high horses. The author is a great story teller and has a way with words, her dialogues flows effortlessly and her writing style is rich and sparkly. It was a stylish and elegant book about revenge, obsession and unjust accusations and how little it takes to destroy someone’s life.

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A Little Bird Told Me by Marianne Holmes / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, hope you are doing well on this rainy Sunday – well, at least it’s rainy here, but it’s great, I’ve been missing rain so much. And what a better way to spend such a day than to curl up with a book or read an extract from one? Here I have the Prologue to “A Little Bird Told Me” by Marianne Holmes, debut novel that is already getting many raving reviews. Enjoy!

 

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PROLOGUE

They say I’ll never find her.

Kit says it doesn’t matter because we still have each other but not a day goes by when I don’t long for the truth.

I feel her absence aching and flowing through the gaps in our story where the pieces don’t mesh. I see her presence in the spatter of freckles on Kit’s nose and the straight curtain of hair I can’t keep out of my eyes.

They say no one knows where she is.

What they really mean is, they couldn’t find her. I know that’s true because I’ve read the news reports. But there is one person who knows where she is.

 ‘Family is blood and pain,’ he said, ‘and, one day, I will hunt you down and teach you the meaning of that.’

His breath was bitter with the smell of cigarettes, his eyes spilling sparks of fury and the scar on his cheek stretched and twisted as he spoke. Or it might have. I read about that too, long after Matthew took us far away from here.

I will hunt you down,’ he said, and I know he will.

If I’m ever going to find her, this is my last chance. But if I start looking, he’ll come looking for us. I can’t help that – there’s something I need to put right.

Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn’t you want to know about the other half?

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Because Mummy Said So by Shari Low / Blog Tour + Guest Post

Because Mummy Said So by Shari Low

 

35820113Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 25th January 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Parenting & Families, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 07.02.2019)

 

Synopsis:

The era of the yummy mummy has finally gone and in order to celebrate this, Shari Low has taken a baby wipe to the glossy veneer of the school of perfect parenting and written Because I Said So to show us the truth about motherhood in all of its sleep-deprived, frazzled glory. This is a book that every experienced, new or soon-to-be parent will relate to – well, hallelujah and praise be those who worship at the temple of Febreze.

For over a decade, Shari wrote a hugely popular weekly newspaper column documenting the ups, downs and bio-hazardous laundry baskets of family life. Because I Said So is a collection of her favourite stories of parenting, featuring superheroes in pull up pants, embarrassing mistakes, disastrous summer holidays, childhood milestones, tear-jerking nativity plays, eight bouts of chickenpox and many, many discussions that were finished with the ultimate parental sticky situation get-out clause… Because I Said So.

My Review

“Because Mummy Said So” is close to life, painfully realistic and hilarious read. It is a compilation of short essays the author has written for her column and they tell us about life with two young boys, about being family – in a very realistic and brutally honest way. Oh yes, Shari Low really tells how it is – that life with young children can be very, very embarrassing but she also shows the soft side of such life, of being a part of family and how richer and fuller your life becomes when the children arrive. 

I am also a mum and I’ve also experienced many, many embarrassing moments with my daughter so I could really relate to those essays.However, I don’t know if it’s because Shari Low is a writer that she can simply better notice such situations or her boys are much more accident prone than my daughter because I can’t remember SO many embarrassing situations in my life.   

I could really relate to this book and often identify with it. Some of the stories were funny however some were a bit hit or miss for me, and some felt a bit too overdone but altogether it was a nutshell manual of how it is to be a parent nowadays. The writing style is light and engaging and funny. I would recommend it if you’re a parent and in need of a good laugh and to see that you’re not alone. Refreshing and eye – opening, showing that the era of perfect mothers is truly and really over – hallelujah!

GUEST POST:

I don’t think we’ve ever lived in more judgemental times. With social media, reality TV and glossy advertising campaigns, it seems like we’re constantly surrounded by examples of impossibly fabulous lives.

Not that having a skewed idea of perfection is a new concept.

Growing up, I always thought being a writer would be an impossibly glamorous life. I wanted to have the excitement of a Jackie Collins heroine, wear leopard print on a daily basis, and live a scandalous existence being wooed by heartthrobs who hung on my every word.

And did I mention I’d have twelve nannies for my perfectly behaved children, who would think I was the best mother ever?

Sorry. I’ve always been both shallow and deluded. It’s a personality flaw.

Of course, the reality bore no resemblance to those adolescent fantasies. I didn’t start writing until I was thirty, when – by some miracle – I managed to get a book deal and found out I was pregnant on the same day.

Ah the thrill! Followed by the wonderful but daunting reality check of real-life motherhood. Two babies in two years later, ‘excitement’ was getting through a whole day without at least one child being sick on me. The only ‘scandalous’ activity was smuggling them into a fast food restaurant for some chicken nuggets and pretending I’d fed them organic rice cakes. My dealings with leopard print involved a costume for the school show, hastily constructed with six hours notice, and David Attenborough wouldn’t have been impressed with the results. Those nannies and the perfectly behaved children? They never materialised. Instead I got two hilarious wee boys, and the husband and I muddled through, careering from one parenting mishap to another. Oh, and absolutely no-one hung on my every word. In fact, by the tenth time I’d asked them to brush their teeth in the mornings, I began to wonder if I was invisible.

However, I loved every minute of it. Even the ones that came with sleep depravation and a toxic laundry basket.

Along the way, I wrote more than twenty novels and a weekly column about the perils of parenting.

You see, I’m not afraid to admit it. My name is Shari Low and I’m an imperfect parent.

My weekly tales were a fight back against that illusion of perfect motherhood, a giggle for those in the same boat, and a rude gesture in the direction of those who judge us mums for making mistakes.

Now, my very favourite episodes are all together in Because Mummy Said So, a collection of memories spanning pregnancy to the day my eldest left home last year. Sniff. Every hilarious disaster, crisis, and mortifying moment is in there.

It’s a pick me up for the exhausted new parent, a giggle for mums who are navigating the minefield of the school years and a bit of nostalgia for the empty nesters.

And most of all, it’s a funny, real life distraction from all those impossible, manufactured images of perfection.

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The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd / Blog Tour

The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd

 

 

38470197Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 20th September 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

A deeply emotional new novel from the bestselling author of Thursdays in the Park

Is the one you tried to forget the one you can’t live without?

Stella once thought that if she never saw Jack again, it would be too soon.

But life has other plans for her and her stubborn, handsome ex-husband.

Looking after their daughter in a time of need, Stella finds herself unwillingly reunited with the man she shared the best years of her life with – followed by the worst.

Where tragedy once tore them apart, now Stella and Jack are being drawn back together. But each of them has a new partner and a new life.

Should they fight temptation?

Should the past remain the past?

Or are some loves simply meant to be?

Rating: four-stars

Stella and Jack used to be the perfect couple – happy and totally in love. Until one day, when the tragedy happened. After that, their marriage has slowly started to fall to pieces  to eventually end in divorce. Fast forward many years and they both live their own lives with new partners and even though they have a daughter, they don’t often meet. However, it’s going to change – Eve is pregnant and needs their help. As there are many unfinished business between them, are they going to rekindle their friendship – or more – for the sake of Eve and their grandson Arthur? What is going to happen? Can they put the past to rest and focus on the present, or look even further, in the future? 

I think the author has brilliantly captured the way relationships work, and admittedly different kinds of relationships. No matter if it was a marriage or mother – daughter, or exes, if people involved were young or older, they always sounded completely realistic, with all their ups and downs and thousands of problems – the book explores them all, in a true to life way. Because of this, the characters also felt so very honest and genuine and it was really easy to fell for them and to root for them. They made mistakes and they often pushed you to your own limits, often I didn’t understand their decisions, but they were all the time real and genuine in this what they’re doing. 

Hilary Boyd’s writing style is simply beautiful. I immediately felt a part of this story. She paints a very realistic portrait of family’s dynamics. There were moments and scenes where I literally had a lump in my throat and felt my heart breaking into thousands little pieces – the book is sad, yes, it’s also sometimes tragic but it is also full of light, hope and it’s uplifting, and all those feelings and emotions are perfectly balanced. She writes so perceptively and brings all the emotions and feelings effortlessly to the pages.

My only problem was that the book was simply too long. The idea has been reformulated and remodelled through many different words, situations, events and there came a moment it was like chewing a gum, it felt as if we were going around in circles, as if the author has been trying hard to built on more elements to something that is already completely utilised. But altogether, “The Anniversary” was a beautiful, elegantly written story about second chances, families and relationships. About love and loss, about grief and hope, about finding happiness again. Full of compassion and understanding and with a great depth to it and I enjoyed it very much. Highly recommended!

 

 

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I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

 

 

39084613Publisher: HQ

Publishing Date: 20th September 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

A gripping story of friendship and betrayal from international best-selling author Adele Parks

‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

This dark, unsettling tale of the reunion of long-lost friends is thoroughly gripping exploration of wanting what you can’t have, jealousy and revenge from Sunday Times bestseller Adele Parks.

Rating: three-half-stars

Mel and Abi used to be best friends but then Mel dropped out of university due to her unplanned pregnancy. They haven’t seen each other for over 17 years – Mel has given birth to a son, Liam, is now married to Ben and they have two daughters together. Abi has done well in her job – she’s been living a celebrity lifestyle in LA with her husband Rob. However, she’s now divorcing him, after finding him in bed with another woman. This is when Mel receives an unexpected email from her former friend and immediately invites her over, opening the doors of her home and her own heart. But – did Abi get in touch because she really needed her friend, or is there more to this than meets the eye?

This book is full of sharp observations and it brilliantly captures different kinds of relationships. What I enjoyed probably most was the fact that the author presents us both sides of the story – I must admit, it takes a lot of time to learn what Abi’s hidden agenda was but I simply guessed it in the meantime, and well, yes, it may change your mind a little about her character. The alternating perspectives of not only Mel and Abi, but Mel’s husband, son and his girlfriend provided much deeper account of what’s happening and what the characters really think and feel, and you really start to think who is the real victim in this story – because there are always two sides to each story.  It was the moment that I started to feel very sorry for her. The next strong point of this book is of course Adele Park’s writing style. She writes with ease and in interesting way.

However, the characters lacked depth, I expected them to be much more three – dimensional and relatable. I didn’t care for them and I was not as invested in their lives as I’d like to. Yes, some of their decisions made me feel real desperation but I wasn’t emotionally connected to them. 

The problem is, when the book is so strongly advertised and it gets brilliant quotes that you start reading it with incredibly high expectations – especially when it’s written by such a fantastic author like Adele Parks. I read this book at the same time as I was reading another novel with exactly the same subject matter – old friends coming back into your life and turning into a very challenging one to say the least – sadly, any of those book was this what I was hoping for. Last year I read Claudia Carroll’s “Our Little Secret”, a book with the same keynote, and I can still remember how much tension there was in her novel, how much I hated the antagonist, how much I vibrated and felt all kinds of emotions – this is what I so missed in “I Invited Her In”. In my opinion, the idea was here but it lacked in development. Somehow, I just couldn’t fall for Mel, I couldn’t sympathise with her, the story itself was too predictable for my liking and to be honest, there was not any twist that would make me go “wow”. The end also seemed too rushed and just too happy – endish. I’m sorry, I really hoped I’m going to love this story. don’t get me wrong, it was not a bad book, it’s far away from it, it’s probably my expectations being set really high. It was maybe because the “thing” happening was not SO very controversial, at least not for me, that it left me a little lukewarm.

“I Invited Her In” was an interesting story about friendship and boundaries, about revenge, secrets, lies, jealousy and forgiving and it’s to my regret that I’m not in the minority that raves about it. However, it was a satisfying read that I’m sure the hard – core fans of Adele Parks will love. It was well written, I really liked the writing style and the author has a great way with words and altogether, I was intrigued to see how it was all going to play out.

The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning

The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning

 

 

39844198Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 6th September 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A hilarious contemporary retelling of the classic society novel, VANITY FAIR, featuring the irrepressible Becky Sharp

Beautiful, brilliant, ruthless – nothing can stop Becky Sharp.

Determined to leave her poverty-stricken roots behind her, Becky Sharp is going to take every opportunity offered to her to climb to the top. Whether it’s using her new BFF Amelia Sedley to step up into the rarified world of London’s upper classes, or seducing society’s most eligible bachelors, Becky Sharp is destined for great things – at any cost…

From London to Paris and beyond, the world is there for Becky’s taking – even though some people are determined to stop her along the way…

Rating: four-stars

This story follows Becky Sharp – a runner up on Big Brother, nanny, Instagram influencer to eventually become a philanthropist. But Becky worked hard for all of this – or did she? Relying only on herself, that is until she senses a chance and someone with more money… or another someone, with even more money? Using other people or simply being ambitious? I haven’t read the original “Vanity Fair” so I am probably in the minority that won’t be comparing those two books, and also I didn’t recognise any of the scenes and couldn’t compare the characters, but I’m sure there are similarities, and also, even without reading the “first” book, I can assure you that I totally adored this modern take on “Vanity Fair”.

Even though I was not particularly found of the characters! However, I fell for Becky and I felt sorry for her and in the next second I simply hated her. Becky was incredibly intriguing character, and Sarra Manning has so brilliantly captured all of her attributes! She was a champion of disguising her true self and so you could never be sure which of the faces you’re going to see; she for sure knew how to behave in a particular company. It depended on the person she was with and how influential they were. I don’t think we have ever come across Becky’s true colours guys, she has provided regular doses of the level of sincerity and really, I think, no, I am sure that the only person she cared about was herself. She was a master of using people and sweet – talking them. Yet – she was likeable! I might have not loved her but I had feelings of warmth and somehow I wanted to protect her. Weird, no? She schemes and manipulates in a perfect way and yet you just want to cheer her on. She truly knows what she wants and doing anything just to get her way, actually almost always getting what she wanted. She’s unbreakable.

Sarra Manning’s writing style is brilliant. The pace of the novel in fast and there are twists and turns that you’ll never see coming. The plot was hooking, I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see what’s going to happen. There were moment that it was ridiculous and hilarious, as well as some of the very colourful characters that really made me feel all kinds of emotions.

This book could go on and go, it was a kind of never – ending story, and personally I would love to see what Becky has got herself into – I think it ended in one of the most exciting moments, and our Becky implied that she’s not to rest on her laurels, oh no. But also, this end was not satisfying for me – there was a huge build up but then I had a feeling that it turned into … nothing. So really, if Ms Manning were to write a sequel to “The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp” I’d be probably the first one in the virtual queue to read it.

“The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp” was a book full of scandals, rich people and celebrities, revenge, coincidences. It was partly really bonkers crazy but this is why I enjoyed it so much, as it sat with this book so well. It was sharp and brutally honest about modern life and current priorities. It was juicy and relying strongly on social satire, and Sarra Manning has brilliantly portrayed this what makes it this satire – demeanours, the mentality, the greed and self – obsession in this Instagram era, celebrity obsessions, being famous because of being famous. It’s full of sharp and so fitting and relevant observations – highly recommended!