How Far We Fall by Jane Shemilt (Blog Tour)

How Far We Fall by Jane Shemilt

 

37806850Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 28th June 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 4384

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 20.09.2018)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From the author of bestselling phenomenon Daughter comes a thrilling exploration of a marriage consumed by ambition and revenge . . .

The perfect couple

Meeting Albie gave Beth a fresh start – a chance to leave her past behind. Now she has her new husband; an ambitious, talented young neurosurgeon.

The perfect marriage

Their marriage gives Beth the safe haven she’s always wanted – with just one catch. Albie has no idea of the secrets she’s keeping. He doesn’t know that years ago, Beth had an affair with Ted, the boss helping Albie’s star ascend. Nor that the affair’s devastating ending will have consequences for their own future.

The perfect storm

So when Ted’s generous patronage begins to sour, Beth senses everything she’s built could crumble. And she sees an opportunity. To satisfy Albie’s ambitions, and her own obsessive desire for revenge . . .

She’ll keep her marriage and her secret safe.

But how far will the fall take them?

 

My Review

 

Albie and Beth are married. Unknown to Albie, Beth has had a relationship with Albie’s boss, Ted, that ended rather dramatically. Between Albie and Ted, they have potentially found a cure for a fatal children brainstem tumour, however Albie doesn’t know what to think when Ted starts to take credits for his development, discoveries and hard work – Ted is more than a boss to Albie, he’s his mentor and friend, so he’s really hurt. This is where Beth senses her chance for a revenge – but is this going to change her and Albie’s lives for ever? How far will they fall?

The characters in this book were not the most likeable ones. They were all full of flaws, keeping secrets and telling lies and in fact not a single one of them would hesitate to bring the others down in the name of their career or revenge. But I think that Ted was the most obstinate of them all, being at the top of his game and being able to do anything to remain there. The story is mostly told from Beth and Albie’s points of view. Right from the beginning we know that something happened to Beth and she’s seeking revenge. We can also have a guess what it was that happened and with whom, and all my suspicions were confirmed. Beth was dreaming of a career as a surgeon but she’s a theatre nurse, however right now she’s enjoying her life, spending most of her time in her garden. Albie is a surgeon, working hard on finding a cure for cancer. Meeting him was like a fresh start for her – however here, guys, I am still not sure if Beth truly loved Albie from the beginning, or was it only the awareness that he was Ted’s best friend that made Albie interesting for her? Nevertheless, their characters were not too straightforward and it was so very well described how they affect each other. However, she brilliantly showed how human her main characters are – how lost they are, how helpless in the world and angry, but also how calculating they can be. Shemilt captured in an incredibly great way the conflicts of the characters, how tangled they felt, how important loyalty was to them and how far would they go to not inflict problems.
However, I think I’ve never warmed to any of them. They might have been in relationships and had feeling to each other but somehow they came across as clinical and without emotions, without conscience. I just didn’t get them fully – as well as the end, that didn’t sit with me at all.

But I don’t know guys, I can’t put my finger on what it was but I just felt confused by this story. However, it was a read with a difference and I can certainly say that never before have I read a story like this. It was confusing for me, yes, but it also was intense and interesting. It was dark and mysterious, and there were many moments that it was too medical for my liking, with many, many very detailed descriptions of procedures. There was also the case of the rats, like in animal testing, and while it felt really uncomfortable, hats off to the author for pulling it off like this, giving all the options and presenting both points of view, those of the researchers and those of the petitioners, without judging them. But back to this medical stuff – it was very literal and especially some of the descriptions of operations were really realistic. and I mean, really.

“How Far We Fall” was a thought – provoking story about ethics, morals and how far we – yes – fall to get our revenge. About power and revenge and ambition. It wasn’t predictable, oh no, on the contrary, I had no idea how it will proceed and in which direction it’s going to take us. The author has incredible way with words, the story is written in simple, short sentences but they’re exceptionally eloquent and she easily brings to life all the things she writes about. You’re going to feel hate, uncertainty, repulsion, anger and compassion. It was slow – burning but multi – layered. Tense and taut, and full of provocative questions about ethics and the author has created a claustrophobic, dark and heavy atmosphere and complex, multi – layered story. Recommended!

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A Winter Retreat at the Paris Cheese Shop by Victoria Brownlee

A Winter Retreat at the Paris Cheese Shop by Victoria Brownlee

 

39294807Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 3rd May 2018

Series: The Paris Cheese Shop #1

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 69

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

Who needs love when you can eat cheese?

Heartbroken and on the cusp of turning 30, Ella decides to pack her bags and move to Paris, somewhere she had visited when she was a different, more adventurous person.

It’s on the streets of beautiful, romantic City of Light that she finds her heart’s true desire: cheese. For Ella, her local fromagerie becomes a safe haven and she finds herself being drawn back there day after day.

But in a strange city, being friendless and not able to speak the language, has she bitten off more than she can chew?

A heart-warming and joyful romance, for fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Sophie Kinsella.

Rating: three-stars

“A Winter Retreat at the Paris Cheese Shop” is the first instalment in the four parts “The Paris Cheese Shop” series by a brand new and very promising author Victoria Brownlee. It quickly sets the scene and introduces us to Ella who, like many, many other literature heroines, thinks she’s living a dream with her boyfriend in the sunny Melbourne and lovely apartment, making plans for the future and waiting for THE question to be popped. However, as it often happens, everything suddenly changes. After quickly coming to terms with the new situation, Ella finds herself in Paris, starting her new life there.

It was the cover of this novel that made me click the “request” button – it’s simply gorgeous, I just love the pastel colours. Well, this and the fact that it’s about cheese, and not about another shop selling cupcakes or another bakery – big brownie points for choosing cheese as the snack here!
The characters’ introduction seemed very, very brief and very, very quick, actually everything in this novella happened like a flash. There was not will they/won’t they, should she/shouldn’t she and so on, no, there was the idea and its immediate realisation. I couldn’t help thinking that Ella would do much, much better without Paul, who came across as very selfish and unlikeable. I can’t say much about Ella herself, to be honest, as I just have a feeling that I wasn’t given the chance to get to know her yet. But she seems a nice, determined girl who hasn’t forgotten how to be spontaneous and how to enjoy life.

Everything in this short story happened very conveniently and run smoothly, there weren’t any twists or surprises. The writing was very easy to follow but I was missing some depth to it and I didn’t warm to it completely but I do hope that in the next parts the missing “something” is going to appear on the pages – because this novella left me wanting to read the next parts to see what’s going to happen.

 

 

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

 

34198503Publisher: Penguin Ireland

Publishing Date: 5th April 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The sinister new novel from the No 1 bestselling author of Unravelling Oliver and Lying in Wait.

‘Once I had cleared the bottles away and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out of the flat.’

Delphine Hamilton is a fake. She has been living on the Côte d’Azur for ten years, posing as an English heiress. However, her alimony is running out, her looks are fading, and her wealthy lovers are fewer and further between.

Down to her last euros, and desperate to get out of her apartment, Delphine decides to spend the day at the Negresco where she is caught stealing another guest’s meal. He takes pity on her and invites her to a party.

The guests are young and beautiful and Delphine feels her age, and is achingly conscious of her worn out dress. But after a few lines of cocaine and multiple cocktails, she is oblivious to everything.

Hours later, as dawn is breaking, she wakes up on the floor of a deserted hotel penthouse. She makes her way home through the back streets.

Even before she opens the door she can hear the flies buzzing and she realizes that the corpse in her bedroom has already begun to decompose …

Liz Nugent’s new novel is the dark, twisted and shocking story of what takes Delphine from an island childhood in Ireland to ruination in a grotty flat in Nice.

Rating: three-stars

I’ve never read anything by Liz Nugent before and the premise to “Skin Deep” was brilliantly dark and intriguing, and I didn’t hesitate long before hitting “request” button. And this book started marvellously. It had me glued to the pages and the more I was reading the more I couldn’t believe what I’m seeing and with what a manipulative character we’re dealing with. Then the second part came and it was as if I’ve just started reading a different novel. Totally different in tone, felt too flat, somehow weird and I wasn’t sure what about.

It started with a murder, which is really not a spoiler, as it literally happens on the first pages. Then it quickly takes us back in the past and we get to know Delia’s background and history, and so I was guessing it’s taking us slowly to the act of the murder itself. But guys, it was mentioned again only on the last few pages. So the whole drama just simply disappeared, it didn’t feel in any way important and significant, it was something that happened and so what? It didn’t make me sad, or teary, it was then immediately explained who the victim is (though I’ve almost immediately guessed it) – as it wasn’t ever mentioned through the whole story, which is understandable, you just haven’t thought about it, so there was no tension and no questioning yourself who and why. It was really confusing and I’m still not sure what to do with it.

Liz Nugent has, of course, excelled here in the character’s portrayal and its development. She has created a manipulative and self – absorbed Delia that you just can’t warm to throughout the whole story, but I guess it was intended. I’ve never felt sympathy nor empathy to Delia and yes, I do understand where she was coming from, what with her dotting father all the time telling her she’s “The Queen” and that she’s gorgeous, and I mean when you hear it all the time as a child you’re prone to believe it, but then you grow up and heck, you start to think for yourself, right? And Delia O’Flaherty didn’t. Using and abusing people only because of the fact that you’re beautiful? Delia was like a reverse Midas – whatever she’s touched turned not into gold but into tragedy and drama. She was destructive and her actions were awful.
Delia was of course not the only character in the book but she has dominated the whole story. The other characters were more or less likeable but almost all of them fell quickly under her spell.

Altogether, “Skin Deep” was a bleak, disturbing read but I’m really glad I’ve read it. It was a read with a difference, and Liz Nugent’s writing style is vivid and addictive. This powerful read pushing the boundaries, evoked many dark emotions in me, as it itself was a dark, sinister tale.

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave / #BlogTour

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave

 

35561669Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 22nd February 2018

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Thriller, Fantasy

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.
YOU CAN PRESERVE A HANDFUL OF SPECIAL MEMORIES FOREVER.
WHICH ONES WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity reliving your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.

Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.

But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…

The Memory Chamber is a thrilling and original story which vaults the reader into a world that is terrifyingly close to our own, where we can avoid everything we fear – even death itself. But can we ever escape the truth?

Rating: three-stars

 

When I’ve read the synopsis to “The Memory Chamber” I was truly intrigued – just imagine, you can create your own custom – made heaven for when you died, made only of memories that are dear to you – absolutely intriguing and unique idea! If you have enough money and you’re not a criminal, you can have your private heaven created – it’s absolutely new and refreshing.   

Isobel is a Heaven Architect and she loves her job. She’s the best at her job. She creates those custom – made heavens for her customers. Isobel spends a lot of time with her dying clients, chasing their memories, creating new ones, only to make sure they have a perfect time after their deaths. And she’s really good at this.  But one day she fells in love with one of her customers – Jarek, married- mutually. It’s going to cause problems, but also there are some changes on the horizon and Isobel starts to doubt in her chosen career, asking herself it’s moral or not anymore.

It turned out that “The Memory Chamber” is not my typical kind of read, that there is an element of almost sci – fi to it, but it was too late, I was already deep into the story, and so I kept reading. It was also one of my problems with this book because it felt as if the story takes place in a very computerised future, but I didn’t have any idea when it is and what has actually happened with the world that the people are being chipped, that they only need to press at their ear to answer a phone call and I was honestly expecting the people to wear clothes made of silver foil and reproduce by touching fingers. I wanted to know what has happened that caused all those changes. 

It didn’t work for me on all levels as much as I thought it’s going to. The idea is brilliant, we’ve agreed on this already, but there are too many holes in the plot and it felt too wafer thin, too superficial. There were twists and turns but I had a feeling they were opened with a kick but their development and delivery felt too flat, as if the idea was missing. There is no build up to the great feelings Isobel has to Jarek and vice versa and it made me feel a little confused. Isobel also changes her mind so very suddenly, without a word of explanation. The characters didn’t leave any impression on me. I couldn’t connect with them, I didn’t know their backgrounds and histories, they felt artificial and like some kinds of robots. Then we have the subplot of the murder. While the author has tried to mess a little with us and do our heads in, the limited number of characters didn’t make it difficult to guess who was really the assassin. This thread, actually really important for this story, neither impressed nor impacted me.

On the other hand, I liked how controversial and difficult topic the author decided upon. She isn’t afraid to deal with the ethical questions, who should be allowed to have such heaven after their death, who has a right to own an artificial heaven at all, who should be allowed in their memories for ever and if they should give the go ahead for being there… It’s really all a bit sci – fi and complicated but after reading the story you’re completely going to see what the whole heaven – idea is about. All the aspects, ethical, moral, religious are explored from every possible angle and there is really not much place for imagination. 

Together with my review copy I’ve received a note with some intriguing questions, and one of them was if, after reading the book, I’d change my memories for my own heaven. No, I wouldn’t! I’m happy to have some brilliant, warm and uplifting memories and I’d love to have them in my heaven. 

The story truly picked up in the last part, maybe the last 100 pages or so but it felt like reading a different novel then. Before it was slow and about artificial heavens, then it was quick, sometimes too quick, about solving a murder. It was, however, too late for me to change my mind about this story – I wanted to be drawn from the very beginning and it didn’t happen. 

It’s hard to tell what this book was really about – it was neither about friendship, nor love, nor family… However, it was a tale that provides tons of things to reflect on, to mull over, making you think and ask questions about what’s important to you. In fact I really am not sure what to think about it. The science aspect of the story was too much for me and the talk about neurons and other things meant nothing for me. There was so much potential to “The Memory Chamber” but for me it didn’t deliver. It was an interesting, different read, that’s for sure and it’s certainly one of the reasons you should read it for yourself – because maybe it’s the case of it’s not you, book, it’s me.

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Last of the Summer Moët by Wendy Holden

Last of the Summer Moët by Wendy Holden

 

 

51q8w2bwg1elPublisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 1st February 2018

Series: Laura Lake Novel #2

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction, Humour

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover (out on 08.03.2018)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Top reporter Laura Lake has struck journalistic gold.

She’s discovered a super-exclusive English village where the rich and famous own weekend retreats. Where film stars, Turner-prize winners and Cabinet ministers park their helicopters outside the gastropub and buy £100 sourdough loaves from the deli.

Outsiders are strictly forbidden. But luckily Laura’s best friend Lulu, a logo-obsessed socialite with a heart as huge as her sunglasses, suddenly fancies a quiet life in the country. The door to this enchanted rural idyll opens for Laura. Revealing a great professional opportunity.

Can Laura write an exposé before the snobbish villagers suss her true identity? And before the world’s poshest pub quiz triggers a political scandal not seen since Profumo?

Rating: three-stars

To be totally honest, I was afraid if this book, “Last of the Summer Moët” is going to be something for me – I tried to read the first novel in the series and I gave up but this time I just wanted to read it with an open mind and let the author to take me on one of the most farcical journeys ever. I think it’s not a read for everybody – it’s so crazy and so ridiculous, you could say too crazy and too ridiculous, and it’s probably not going to hit all funny bones. It wasn’t my kind of read but I liked it – maybe because I already knew what I can expect from Laura, so it didn’t take me by such a great surprise. Yes, I skipped some passages, and there were moments that it was just too much of everything for me, but I finished the story and I also smiled when reading it. Even though it is a second book in the series, you can positively read it as a stand – alone.

So Laura Lake is back. Laura, the deputy editor of the glossy magazine, Society. She keeps hearing about a very secret village Great Hording, populated by the Britain’s best – top managers, bank chefs, actors, writers, government ministers… Could be a big story for Laura, right? So with the help of her best friend Lulu she infiltrates the village and discovers many secrets and events that should never see the light of day. In the meantime, an old enemy appears at work again, ex – boyfriend playing the new James Bond resurfaces again and the present boyfriend comes and goes as he wants.

To absolutely, totally enjoy it, the fact that it was too far – fetched and there were many characters whose actions were not relatable at all stood in the way. Some of the features for the “Society” magazine were not only verging onto the bizarre, they were bizarre. And I understand that it is fiction but the plot has to at least have some threads that seem real and relatable. However, even with the plot being so overdone, with the characters trying to outdo each other in every aspect of life, with a top – secret village that doesn’t appear on any map, the author handles everything mostly really well. All the different strands of plot and storyline at the first sight seemed to have nothing in common, however in the end they come together and all this far – fetched on many levels aside, there comes a moment that you take it all as a normal thing – you just get used to all this ridiculousness and hilarity and overdoing, and to your surprise the story makes sense.

Laura is probably the most sane element of this story and I liked her humour and her resilience. The thing that didn’t work so much for me was her in and out relationship with Harry who kept disappearing, and I must admit that it was more irritating than intriguing.

There were tons of very eclectic characters in this story, especially in out top secret village Great Hording, and I didn’t even try to keep track of them, to be honest, and I don’t think it was necessary. Probably because of the great number of them, they just felt a little under – developed. Some of the descriptions were too over – done and I just had a feeling that the author has tried too much.

Altogether, it was a light and entertaining read, albeit not totally right up to my alley when it comes to the sense of humour and sometimes absurd plot. Nevertheless it can hit your funny bone and I’d really recommend to you to read this book – it’s different, it’s unusual and sometimes this is all what we need.

The Pets at Primrose Cottage Part 4 by Sheila Norton

The Pets at Primrose Cottage: No Place Like Home by Sheila Norton

 

35269557Publisher: Ebury Digital

Publishing Date: 15th February 2018

Series: Pets at Primrose Cottage #4 (read my review of part 1 here,  part 2 here , and part 3 here )

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 78

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

PART FOUR of a serialised novel – a charming and romantic story about living the simple life and the joy of animals.

With Emma’s past threatening to ruin her life in quiet Crickleford, she’s running out of options. If people – especially Matt, her reporter friend – find out her secret, it might force her to leave the place she’s come to think of as home.

When flooding strikes the town while Emma is looking after an elderly couple’s dog, she has to take her biggest risk yet – but could this be the one that blows her cover for good? And if it does, can Crickleford – and Matt – ever accept Emma for who she truly is?

Rating: three-stars

And so here we come to the final instalment in the “Pets at Primrose Cottage” series, which is a pity actually, as it was a nice and relaxing read and I grew fond of the characters, both human and animal ones.

There was – again – a lot of focus on Emma’s pet sitting and events that happened in the village, such as flood, and I was afraid that revealing Emma’s big secrets will get overshadowed but no, it was delivered in a very nice way and it didn’t feel too rushed or too short. However, and I must add this, in comparison to the huge built – up in the last three part, the reveals of both secrets didn’t take me so much by surprise. It was something that I was expecting and to be honest I was hoping for a great surprise, an explosion, something that would hit me and leave me unconscious for a few days. But no – those were mediocre secrets. To be frank, I was also a little disappointed with Emma. First all people in the cafe got to know what’s her problem is, and I mean ALL PEOPLE, because the whole village was there, and all people wanted to help, and Emma says she feels actually OK now everything is out and she doesn’t want to do anything with this problem. I mean, hello? First she’s blaming herself for everything, thinks about herself “stupid” and when everything is out she wants to do nothing about it. I thought, well Emma, I was expecting more from you. I mean, she didn’t have to go to university, and it was great she felt good in her own skin but she’s just condemning herself for limitations in my humble opinion. However, standing ovation to Emma for the way she has treated some of the people in her life, I always knew there is fire in this girl.

As always, the writing style was incredibly engaging and easy to follow, descriptive and warm. The ending was brilliantly happy – ever – after and I really liked it. All the questions were answered in this part and everything came smoothly to an end, all the loose ends of the plot and conflicts are neatly wrapped up. Altogether, it was a feel – good novella and enjoyable read.

Home by Amanda Berriman

Home by Amanda Berriman

 

38457392Publisher: Doubleday

Publishing Date: 8th February 2018

Source:  Received from publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Jesika is four and a half.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn’t draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

Rating: three-stars

“Home” is Amanda Berriman’s debut novel and I knew I want to read it as soon as I’ve received an email from NetGalley with a short extract from it. It is not the easiest book – storyline – wise – but it is also a read that will have you gripped and that won’t let you go.”Home” was not the easiest read. It made my stomach turn and I wanted to slap one of the characters with my bare hands. It was heart – breaking, probably because it was so close to reality, and I think the fact that the author handed over the narration in the little Jesika’s hands made it even more harder and it totally mess with our emotions.

Jesika, as a narrator, works brilliantly. She’s not too mature even though she knows a lot – she’s just a very sensible, vulnerable child that experiences things that she shouldn’t experience. Seeing world through her eyes is authentic and genuine and honest and you are immediately drawn in – we see things through the four – year – old girl’s perspective and those things are perfectly portrayed. We can totally relate to what it is to be a four – year – old and how it is to be a child in this grim reality where the adults not always take you seriously, how it is to be powerless, how hard it is to attract adult’s attention to what is really important. The way Amanda Berriman got into Jesika’s head and told us this story is actually breath – taking.

However, I am in minority here with my opinion, I know, and while I absolutely, totally appreciate what the author has tried to achieve with her story, it just didn’t work for me on all the levels. I am not sure what Amanda Berriman wanted to tell us here and on what should I focus. The two main storyline, the one about Jesika and her family and then Jesika and her friend Paige felt for me under – developed. They were started off but the execution has felt for me here. The subplot with Paige annoyed me incredibly, I just couldn’t believe that her mother didn’t see the obvious. There were parts in this story that I reckon were not necessary, like Jesika spending time at the foster family – I just think this book could do without it.

But even though it was a hard book to read because of the topics it touches upon, a sense of building dread because you know what’s coming, it was easy to read. The writing style is seamless and it effortlessly transports us to Jesika’s world and it is very realistic. It is not overdone, actually it is worryingly close to life and you easily imagine all the things happening. However, it is not only doom and gloom, as there are some uplifting things in the story as well – the power of friendship, of finding allies when you’re not expecting it at all.

Altogether, “Home” was absorbing, gripping and heart – breaking read with realistic characters that you quickly fell for and with very realistic topics, pointing at the importance of being open and of communication between parents and children. Written with a lot of understanding and subtlety and ultimately I think it was me, and not the book that wasn’t quite right. It was a powerful read and I can’t put my finger on what was wrong for me but it just didn’t work for me as much as I’d like it to. However, don’t let me to dispirit you, just go and read this book and you’ll see for yourself how powerful and emotional it is. I am already looking forward to Ms Berriman’s another book.