Book review: Close to Home by Cara Hunter

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Close to Home
By Cara Hunter
★★★★★
Pub date: 14th December 2017
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK

I finished this book last week and I am still thinking about it. It’s just too good to be true. I have been reading a lot of thrillers / crime novels recently but this one… this one will really stay with me.

The story revolves around Daisy Mason, an eight-year-old who vanishes from her family’s Oxford home during a costume party. Detective Inspector Adam Fawley knows that nine times out of then, the offender is someone close to home. And Daisy’s family is certainly strange – her mother is obsessed with keeping up appearances, while her father  is cold and defensive under questioning. And then there’s Daisy’s older brother, so withdrawn and uncommunicative…

DI Fawley works against the clock to find any trace of the little girl, but it’s as if she disappeared into thin air–no one saw anything; no one knows anything. But everyone has an opinion, and everyone, it seems, has a secret to conceal.

But how can a child go missing without trace? They’re all certain it was Daisy on a flower costume at the party…

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I wasn’t expecting Cara Hunter’s first novel to be so good. I didn’t plan to get so hooked but this thriller was really incredible.

I really liked how the book was plotted and developed. Nothing is what it appears in this investigation but Hunter knows how to guide us (through flashbacks and interviews) in order to gain insight into Daisy’s family and what led to her disappearance.

The chapters and events move quickly and in an engaging manner. I felt completely part of the plot and I found myself questioning the incidents, interviews and suspects at all times. The way in which the author presents our current social media trends was also fascinating – with Facebook and Twitter posts that represent the public opinion while the suspects undergo trial.

The writing is crisp and immersive and the story feels real. I was completely hooked, reading chapters fast, wanting to know what happened and who was responsible. I also liked DI Fawley and his team – how they gathered the information and came up with clues and evidence.

As the chapters went by, I kept changing my mind and couldn’t decide who the perpetrator was. I was clueless, I honestly had no idea – and that was brilliant because it kept me intrigued, wanting to find out the truth.

You’re in for a real twist when the book comes to its end too!
Congratulations to the author, this was just brilliant! I cannot wait to read her new book – In the Dark – which will be published in July 2018.

Grab your copy of Close to Home here!

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Book review: The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

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The Choice – Embrace the Possible
By Dr. Edith Eva Eger
★★★★
Pub date: 7th September 2017
Publisher: Ebury Publishing, PRH UK

I have a lot of books to read. I carefully update my Goodreads’ lists when I hear about a title that sounds interesting and I add it to my to-read pile so… when I finished I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh and felt in the mood for something different, I scrolled down my list and found this one. The title and synopsis sounded promising so I decided to buy the eBook and see where it was going to take me.

This book is Edith Eger’s memoir. In 1944, when she was only sixteen years old, Edith and her family were sent to Auschwitz. There, she endured unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. Over the coming months, Edith’s bravery helped her sister to survive, and led to her bunkmates rescuing her during a death march. When their camp was finally liberated, Edith was pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.

Today, Edith Eger is an internationally acclaimed psychologist whose patients include survivors of abuse and soldiers suffering from PTSD. In The Choice, she shares her experience of the Holocaust and the remarkable stories of those she has helped ever since.
In her memoir, Edith also explains how many of us live within a mind that has become a prison, and shows how freedom becomes possible once we confront our suffering.
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I had never heard about the author before reading her book but she really is remarkable. And so is The Choice, which I can only describe as beautifully-written, warm and compassionate.

The book is organised into four sections: Prison, Escape, Freedom and Healing. In the first three, Dr. Edith Eger tells us her story and shares her experiences in Auschwitz, what happened when the II World war was over, how she found her way back home and how her life evolved as a survivor. It would be enough for her to just share the events that she witnessed and how she coped with the pain and sorrow but Edith Eger goes further. In Healing, she tells us about her experiences with her patients and the truths she’s discovered along the way.

Edith Eger will make you change your way to look at your life and your choices. She’ll make you realise that there is no hierarchy when it comes to suffering and that everyone’s pain needs to be addressed. She does not judge. Instead, she tries to help people to be free and liberate them from the prisons they’ve created in their minds.

Only us hold the key that will allow us to be free and to do that, we have to take responsibility for our lives. Life is about choices and today, in this present moment, we cannot change what we did, what happened to us or the choices we made. But we can choose how to live now. Everyone has had to deal with the consequences of making bad choices bur we cannot judge ourselves, we have to release ourselves from judgement, accept our feelings and reclaim our innocence, loving ourselves for what we truly are ‘human, imperfect and whole’.

There’s so much power and strength within us. And, as Dr. Edith Eger says, we can choose to be free.

A story to remember and re-read in the months to come – there’s so much I still want to learn from the author.

You can read more about The Choice here
Don’t forget to get your copy on Amazon!

Book Review: Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton

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Everything I Know About Love
By Dolly Alderton
★★★★
Pub date: 1st February 2018
Publisher: Penguin

I don’t know how I first came across this book, or who mentioned it on Twitter or how I found who Dolly Alderton is but I am so glad I did.

Alderton is an award-winning journalist who has written for numerous publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, GQ, Marie Claire, Red and Grazia. From 2015-2017 she was a dating columnist for The Sunday Times Style. She is co-host of The High Low Show, a weekly pop culture and current affairs podcast, and also writes and directs for television. This is her first book and… who would have thought?

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I enjoy reading non-fiction titles so much (!) but it’s true that it takes me longer time to go through them. I guess fiction is easier to get hooked on. This didn’t happen with Everything I Know About Love, though. Dolly Alderton’s first book is funny (and serious), silly (and smart), sweet (and sour) happy (and sad), and above all, it made me feel whole.

First of all, Alderton can write and what I mean by this is that some of her paragraphs felt so real that I decided to write them down in my own journal. I could relate to her feelings and to so many of her cultural references (internet / MSN messenger / living in a damp flat in London…etc). This is a selling point of the book because, as the chapters go by,  the author’s experiences become your own and she has the power to make you feel exactly what she is feeling: it doesn’t matter if you are from London or Barcelona, if you are 20 or 44, if you are timid or outgoing or if you are a party girl or spend your nights relaxing at home–  We’ve all gone through what Dolly’s explaining in her memoir.

The author has tried it all (really) and, in the book, she vividly recounts falling in and out of love, wresting with self-sabotage, getting drunk, going to therapy, getting dumped, finding a job… – in fact, she recalls what is like to become a grown-up *with all its highs and lows*.
Throughout the chapters, Alderton made me laugh. And she made me cry.
I also started recognising some of her behaviours in myself and understood the importance of loving oneself and this was her best lesson. The author taught me things that I already thought I knew – and it was a great discovery.

‘This is a book about bad dates, funny nights out, messy days, good friends and – above all else – about recognising that you and you alone are enough’ and I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

If you only read a book next year, you have to make it this one!

You can read more about Dolly Alderton here.
And don’t forget to get your copy here!

 

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to the publisher, it was wonderful!

Book Review: It Started with a Tweet by Anna Bell

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It Started with a Tweet
By Anna Bell
★★★★
Pub date: 7th December 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

When it comes to books, I read loads of different genres but oh… give a chick lit novel anytime! I adore Lucy Diamond’s books (particularly The House of New Beginnings and The Year of Taking Chances) so I was excited when I got a digital copy Anna Bell’s new book. Bell is well known for being the author of The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart (Bonnier Zaffre, £7.99) and has been named as the new ‘queen of romantic comedy’.

It Started with a Tweet tells the story of Daisy Hobson, who literally lives her whole life online. A marketing manager by day, she tweets her friends, instagrams every meal and arranges (appalling) dates on Tinder. But when her social media obsession causes her to make a catastrophic mistake at work, Daisy finds her life going into free-fall…
Her sister Rosie thinks she has the answer to all of Daisy’s problems – a digital detox in a remote cottage in Cumbria, that she just happens to need help doing up. Soon, too, Daisy finds herself with two welcome distractions: sexy French exchange-help Alexis, and Jack, the brusque and rugged man-next-door, who keeps accidentally rescuing her.

But can Daisy, a London girl, ever really settle into life in a tiny, isolated village? And, more importantly, can she survive without her phone?

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When I started reading the book I hadn’t had a look at the the blurb so I didn’t know what the book was about but that’s exactly what I liked about it – I was not expecting anything that happened in the story and it turned out to be one of the funniest books I’ve read all year.

I liked its warmth and the characters, particularly our heroine, Daisy (she’s just hilarious) and her sister Rosie. I could relate to the journey they both go on in so many ways. It’s a journey of self-discovery that is not only well-written but also believable. I also liked the romantic elements of the story (of course) and didn’t expect a few things that happened with both Alexis and Jack.

The descriptions of Cumbria and the beautiful English countryside were something I really enjoyed. They took me back to the time I spent in Yorkshire surrounded by  green fields and being taken back there was wonderful, tbh.

This book is chick lit at its best with a good lesson hidden between the pages.
Five stars (also because I read it when I needed it most).

You can read more about It Started with a Tweet by clicking here.
And don’t forget to get your copy here!

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to the publisher, it was the funniest of books!

Book review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz
By Heather Morris

★★★★
Pub date: 11th January 2018
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

I try to read as many books as I can and some people will understand me when I say that my to-read list increases by the day. I buy books when I still got tons at home. This one I didn’t buy, though. I received the ebook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. So here it goes:

The Tattooist of Auschwitz tells the incredible story of the Lale, the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved.

Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew and this is why he is taken from his home country, Slovakia, to Auschwitz in 1942. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tätowierer– the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance.

His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good. This is the story of Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov, a real-life Holocaust survivor.


When I was around 17 years old, I read The Diary of Anne Frank, a book that changed my life. It’s true,  Anne’s story changed me for good and during many years I studied and read a lot about Second World War: how it developed, its repercussions and of course the Holocaust. I’ve read multiple non-fiction titles on the matter and I also visited Auschwitz and Auschwitz II Birkenau in Poland many years ago. No soul is prepared to learn about what happened there.

When I read about The Tattooist of Auschwitz on social media, I instantly knew I wanted to read this one but I honestly didn’t expect to find such a story.
Full of beauty and hope, the book is based on years of interviews that author Heather Morris conducted with Lale Sokolov, our protagonist.

Throughout the chapters we learn about Lale, where he comes from, his family, his feelings and how he ends up becoming the tattooist of Auschwitz. We discover how was life in the concentration camp and we are present when he first meets Gita and falls in love with her. The omniscient narrator helps us understand what is going on at all times and that’s why I never found myself lost in the story.

This is a difficult story that will keep the reader hooked from its very beginning. What is going to happen to Lale? Will he see Gita next week? Is it true what they say about the gas chambers? Will he live to see another day? The Holocaust is a difficult topic but it is something that it’s important to know – and read – about.

The message that the book gives us is heart-wrenching, illuminating and unforgettable. In fact, Lale’s story is unforgettable – just as all of the stories of those who ended up in a concentration camp during the war.

What I liked the most was not only that it was beautifully written but that the book is based on a true story. So yes, it is history and real facts and it is about love and about friendship and about sadness, and joy. It’s about our history – one that we all hope will never repeat itself.

Lale’s and Gita’s story is worth knowing so thank you, Heather, for putting it down on paper. And thank you to the publishers for seeing the potential of this book and bringing it to life.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz will be published in January 2018.
You can pre-order your copy here

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to the publisher, it was extraordinary.

Book review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Thirteen Reasons Why 
By Jay Asher

★★★★
Pub date: 6th August 2009
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s

So many good books out there, so little time to read them all, right? I agree. However, if you’re going to choose just one book to read this summer, make it this one.

If you follow my blog, you’d have noticed that the books I talk about are the ones that I really liked but mostly, titles that I loved reading. And I really loved Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

This YA novel revolves around  17-year-old Clay Jensen, who returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and crush – who committed suicide two weeks earlier.  Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them and if he listens, he’ll find out why.

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I am sure you’ve heard about Thirteen Reasons Why. I am sure you’ve heard about Clay Jensen and Hannah Baker. I know because it’s been all over the place – Netflix launched the TV adaptation a few months ago and it is just so good that a lot of people have decided to read the book as well.

I must confess that I watched the series before reading the book and that I was hooked from the first episode. The same didn’t happen with my friends who told me that they didn’t connect with the characters at all.  Well, of course they didn’t. We are 27 years old and they are supposed to be 10 years younger than us. It is a YA novel – its aimed at young adult readers. And the same happens with the series.

I connected with the characters though, and the actors. I think most of them do a pretty good job and I really (really!) enjoyed watching the series. So I decided to give the book a try and I was not disappointed at all.

I am not going to lie, I was expecting exactly the same story… but they are different. If you read the book first and watch the series afterwards (or viceversa) you’ll find that things are not the same in the book and in the TV adaptation. That happens all the time, though and it’s normal because they have different ways of telling a story and you have to keep the viewers (and readers) hooked from the very beginning.

The plot is not only great but the way the story is told is amazing. I liked how Clay thinks about Hannah and how much you get to understand his feelings. You understand more of what happens to Hannah in the TV series so I definitely recommend watching the series too because it develops the characters a bit more – which is really interesting.
The series is much more explicit than the book and probably aimed at older viewers.

Suicide is a dark topic but it is also something that needs to be talked about. I read so many opinions around the internet and I’ve heard everything. However, I honestly don’t think the book idolises what Hannah did and neither does the series. Both state that, in spite of everything… what Hannah did was her choice.

It was the suspense and the feelings of the characters that kept me hooked. I wanted to know why Hannah did what she did. Did she really have thirteen *valid* reasons to end her life?

I guess it’s your turn to decide.

You can read more about Thirteen Reasons Why here.
And if you feel like reading it, click here to buy the book.

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to the publisher, it was such a shocking story!

 

Book review: Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

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Not That Kind of Girl
by Lena Dunham

★★★★
Edition: Paperback
Published: 23/02/2017
Publisher: Fourth State

 

I have read loads of books since the beginning of 2017. Well, not as many as I’d have liked but it’s been a busy year. However, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on a particular book that made me smile and laugh. It made me feel nostalgic and I ended up taking it everywhere with me: to the office, on the tube and even to some dates with my boyfriend where I hoped to have the chance to open it up while I waited for him to arrive…

This book claims to be for readers of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris and it is a collection of hilarious, poignant, and extremely frank  personal essays written by Lena Dunham – the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO’s ‘Girls’.

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If you type ‘Lena Dunham’ or ‘GIRLS’ on Google, you would find thousands of sites about them. There is so much that is being said on both the author and her series. What is true and what isn’t? You need to find out for yourself and create your own opinion, and that’s what Lena Dunham has taught me: it is fine to have your own voice so in spite of all the bad reviews out there, let me tell you that I found this book witty, interesting, charming and funny. The book is divided in essays and yes, I got lost in some of them but eventually I found myself again, laughing so much I thought I was going to cry.

I’ve run into a lot of people who don’t like Lena Dunham. In reality, I didn’t find her that interesting at the beginning either. I thought – is her only purpose to appear naked in every episode of her series? But you know what? I don’t really care. There are so many hot girls who appear naked everywhere and what if she wants to show her own body and put herself out there? I say YES to that. She’s hot and intelligent and deserves credit not only for the series she created, but for the lessons she teaches everyone of us.

Yes, that is her. Yes, she puts herself out there and shows everyone that you shouldn’t (even for one second) be ashamed of who you are. Even if you are not a size 8, if you have anxiety, OCD or kissed a girl back when you were at school. So what? You are gold, and precious and kind.

And no, this book didn’t changed my life but I enjoyed it. I found myself there (as I am sure a lot of people did) and Lena Dunham has some great life lessons to teach us all. If you liked GIRLS, give it a go because you’ll like this. She lives up to her voice and that’s nice.

So here’s to you Lena, five big, shiny stars.

You can read more about Not That Kind of Girl here
And if you feel like reading it, click here to buy the book.

 

Book review: Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand

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Happy People Read and Drink Coffee
by Agnes Martin-Lugand

★★★★
Edition: Paperback
Published: 07/07/2016
Publisher: Allen & Unwin

The first time I saw this book was in Waterstones Piccadilly, in London, and I loved the title, really – and the cover. I didn’t buy it then, though. A friend of mine mentioned it last month when I was visiting Madrid and it was then when I decided to give it a go…

The book tells the story of Diane, who has  a charmed life as a wife and mother and who is the owner of a literary cafe in Paris called Happy People Read and Drink Coffee. But when Diane suddenly loses her husband and daughter in a car accident, her whole world is shattered. Trapped and haunted by her memories, Diane withdraws from friends and family, unable and unwilling to move forward.

A year after the accident, Diane shocks her loved ones by leaving Paris to move to a small town on the Irish coast to rebuild her life alone. There she meets Edward, a brooding, handsome photographer who lives next door. Initially Edward resents Diane’s intrusion into his solitary life, but before long they find themselves drawn to each other . . .

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This is a heartbreaking and uplifting story and I can say that I loved every word. It is an easy read in the sense that the story moves fast but it is also very sad to read what happens to Diane and how she lives after the car accident because she is clinically depressed and doesn’t work. She also spends her days in bed, drinking coffee, smoking and remembering her husband and daughter. However, when she decides to leave Paris and moves to Mulranny, in Ireland, her life changes.

Yes, she finds a new man. Edward but even though I really liked Diane, I found him very rude and disturbing but I must say I did like how their story develops. I won’t tell how it ends but I admire this book because it shows hope and bravery. It is not unrealistic and Diane doesn’t move on, forgets her husband and finds a new love in a short period of time – instead, the story focuses on how she finds herself again, her path and how she grows to accept what has happened to her.

Highly recommended, this is an enlightening novel that won’t leave you indifferent. I couldn’t have found a better novel to finish 2016 – because after the hard year that we’ve left behind, this book has shown me that there’s still hope, and a reason to keep fighting.

You can read more about Happy People Read and Drink Coffee here.
And if you feel like reading it, click here to buy the book.

Book review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Finding Audrey
by Sophie Kinsella

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Edition: Hardback
Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishers UK
★★★★★

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella was a book that I remember seeing on the shelves numerous times. Its attractive and mysterious cover made me think of Audrey Hepburn but the truth is, I never really looked at it properly. It was one of my colleagues who told me about the author and her books and highly recommended it. So when I found a hardback copy of the novel at YALC’s book swap last summer, I decided to give it a go. And I’m very happy I took the time to find Audrey, really.

Sophie Kinsella’s first YA novel revolves around a fourteen-year-old girl who cannot leave her house. This is, of course, Audrey. An anxiety disorder disrupts her daily life and she wears sunglasses all the time. She can’t even take off her sunglasses inside the house. Then her brother’s friend Linus stumbles into her life. With his friendly, orange-slice smile and his funny notes, he starts to entice Audrey out again – well, Starbucks is a start. And with Linus at her side, Audrey feels like she can do the things she’d thought were too scary. Suddenly, finding her way back to he real world seems achievable. Be prepared to laugh, cry, dream and hope with Audrey as she learns that even when you feel you have lost yourself, love can still find you…

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I loved this book so much!  The above blurb does not make it justice, I promise. Finding Audrey has been recently been added to my All-Time-Favourites and it will remain there. There’s no much I can say except that it is funny – I was laughing out loud while reading it – that I loved the characters (all of them) and that it is believable, sweet and inspiring. This book raises its voice and presents the reader with a main character who suffers from an anxiety disorder, a main character who is depressed – and that, I think, is really powerful.

This is not your typical YA novel – mind you, give me a typical YA novel any time! – and that is very beautiful. Yes, there is Linus and the feelings she develops for him but the book is much more than that: it’s a story about courage, family, respect, understanding, support, friendship, mental health and finding oneself. Please, read it – this book is SUNSHINE.

Book review: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle
By Dodie Smith

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Published: 1948
Edition: Paperback
Publisher: Vintage Classics
★★★★★

A few weeks ago I visited Portobello Market and walked around the streets looking for some vintage furniture for my new house. When I couldn’t find any that I liked and I was starting to think my trip has been all in vain, my boyfriend suggested (obviously trying to cheer me up a bit) visiting Waterstones in Notting Hill. The trouble that I have with Waterstones is that I can’t come in and not buy books. But this time I told myself that there wasn’t anything that I wanted to buy immediately. Little did I know that I was about to come across this book… this beautiful and extraordinary little book.

I Capture the Castle tells the story of Cassandra Mortmain and her family. She writes in her journal almost every day and wittily describes life growing up in a crumbling castle, with her father who suffers from writer’s block, her glamorous but ineffectual step-mother and her vain but beloved sister Rose. When two visiting Americans arrive, all of their lives are turned upside down, and Cassandra falls in love for the first time.

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This book is like having a cup of hot chocolate while its raining outside. It’s like waking up to a beautiful spring morning and that’s why I give it 5 brilliant stars.

What I liked about it was its simplicity, the exquisite writing and the different characters that you get know while reading chapter after chapter. I liked Rose – in spite of everything – I liked her very much and I could relate to her feelings as well as Cassandra’s.

This book not only made me want to abandon the city and move to the English countryside  for good but it also made me remember what I felt when I was 17 years old and I fell in love for the first time.

I cannot recommend it enough. Cassandra’s story will stay with you long after the last page is turned.  I really didn’t guess what was going to happen to the characters and I was quite surprised with the ending… that last sentence is memorable.

Give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.