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4.3 out of 5 stars41
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Three friends, Lucy, Tina and Natalie have been close for years, and one New Years Eve share their life plans with each other - their hopes, dreams and ambitions for the future, and hope that they will all get exactly what they want and need. Fast forward ten years, and things are very different from how they were a decade ago, but have each of the women got what they crave? Lucy craves stability and a happy home and family life, Tina wants success in her career and to be an independent woman and Natalie just wants to meet Mr Right and settle down and live a happy life with the one she loves. Will any of the women have got their happy ever after ending?

I really liked the way this book was written. Mercer makes sure to divide the story equally between the three women, and weaves them together in such a way that they stand alone as their own stories, but at the same time relies on the friendship of the women to bring it all back together again and be a cohesive story. We meet the women when they are in their twenties, and all hopeful for what life has ahead of them. When we meet them later, things have greatly changed in different ways, and so has the women's friendship too, a fact which felt realistic as of course no matter how close we are at one point in our lives, things change as we all move in our lives in different directions, and this part of the book felt extremely well put together.

I liked each of the characters for different reasons, and the strength each of them found to overcome the various obstacles within their stories - I'm not going to reveal a lot about what happens to them because I think it's more fun to read about the things happening as you go through the book. My favourite character was Tina which surprised me as I didn't really like her at first at all, yet Mercer really turns her around and made me sympathetic towards her a lot more, she was a very believable characters also, in her feelings and her behaviours. I struggled to warm most to Natalie, as I felt I couldn't get that into her story - she felt like she got the least "air-time" in the book for some reason. Lucy was almost the one who held it all together for me, and it was nice to see how their friendship remained important to them, and they valued it in different ways as their lives took different directions.

I think a lot of women will be able to relate to this book in different - it's a book that can appeal to a wide range of readers, and is a very successful novel. I think it's a strong debut with a great narrative, and a storyline (or three!) that draws you in and doesn't throw you back out again until you've turned the last page. It isn't a book with an obvious happy ending in lots of ways, and I enjoyed trying to work out what the three women were going to do next, and how their decisions would impact on those around them too. It's a great novel, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading Mercer's future novels, of which I hope there will be more soon! A great novel, and a must-read.
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on 13 January 2013
Stop the Clock begins with a prologue. It's New Year's Eve 1999 and we find out about Lucy, Tina and Natalie's dreams/ambitions.

Ten years later it's Spring 2009. We begin with Lucy, who is meeting Tina and Natalie and feeling faded and worried that she's not as glamorous as her two friends. It is Tina's column on The Post that causes friction and Lucy returns home sooner than planned. At home she finds something that turns her world upside down.

Next we spend time with Natalie. She's off to antenatal class to meet Richard (the boyfriend in the blurb who is now her husband). Later on in the story, it is someone at these classes whose actions cause a life changing evaluation to be made.

Finally we spend time with Tina. We learn about her career, her colleagues and her love life.

In alternating chapters we spend time with each character as they confront hidden fears and live their lives. It's not until our characters are together at New Year's Eve ten years later that they finally confide in each other and share what's really happening to them.

The characters are stereotypical and the narration of third person enables the reader to identify with each character when they are apart and when they are together. My favourite has to be Tina. Although Lucy and Natalie have their own demons to confront and each grow and learn to live in the world as who they are, Tina is the one who I felt was the most honest with herself.

We witness some traumatic scenes as we journey through their lives. Natalie's birth experience and Tina's immediate decision and change of mind spring to mind. Their own parents play a part too not only in the time of their lives now but also the role models they were in childhood.

I loved the way the author has the characters examining their emotions. True to life, it's unusual for us to feel an isolated emotion as it's usually a confusion of tangled emotions. This is acknowledged by our characters.

Another thing I liked ... the nuggets of wisdom hidden within the pages. For example on page 364 when Tina is waiting to go in to be interviewed by HR and her editor at The Post:

"You couldn't let the inevitability of last spoil the sweetness of first, or put you off, or deter you."

Love it!

With life changing events confronted including relationship breakdowns; betrayals; close family illnesses; birth/fertility; sexual gender preference and addictions, Stop the Clock will pull you in and involve you wholeheartedly in Lucy, Natalie and Tina's lives.

I have no hesitation in recommending you add Stop the Clock to the reading pile.

I would like to thank Alison Barrow at Transworld for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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on 22 August 2012
Stop the Clock is the debut novel from author Alison Mercer and tells the story of three close friends, Lucy, Tina and Natalie and how their lives have turned out. But did things map out as they'd planned and if so, are they happy?

We first meet the three friends on New Year's Eve at the turn of the Millennium, Tina and Natalie are both single whereas Lucy is married to Adam with a baby. During the evening all three look ahead to the future to where they'd like to be... Lucy wants to be a good wife and mother; Tina wants to have a successful journalism career and Natalie wants to have the life Lucy has as a wife and mother.

Ten years on they do appear to have achieved the lives that they had wished for but none of them seem particularly happy with their choice. And soon all three women have to re-evaluate their lives as they come to grips with the curveballs that are thrown in their path.

I'm sure that we can all relate to at least one of these three women, or maybe you are a combination of a couple of them. This book is an honest portrayal of how the choices we make have an impact on our lives and those around us.
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on 18 March 2013
Alison Mercer's debut novel is my favourite kind of first book: fun and fast paced, with heart (and, as is rarely the case, soul). Set between London and Cornwall, it's a highly relatable tale of female friendship and by the end most readers will wonder; "which one am I?".

I finished reading it with a smile, a tear and a strong desire to move back to the South coast. Having had the pleasure of meeting the author, it also inspired me to pick up a pen and start writing again. Modern life is incredibly busy but we should all allow ourselves the time to pursue our dreams whether that's having 2.4 children and a rich husband, the best and most demanding job in the world or a writing desk by a sunny window.

At 27, I think I'm probably a little younger than the target demographic but I still found the characterisation to be incredibly true-to-life. Following hot on the heels of dedicated career women 10-20 years our seniors I find that most young women I know have done a 180 degree turn and aspire to be stay-at-home mothers and have children before 30. I often question this trend and hope nobody minds if I'm a bit selfish and keep my husband to myself for more than one year. Torn between wanting to "have it all" or revealing a secret desire to either work full-time forever or give up work completely at the first sign of a positive pregnancy test, I think most of my peers would enjoy this too. It may not change their lives, but it should make them stop to think and maybe even wish to stop the clock themselves.

If this review tempts you I recommend ordering two copies: one for yourself, and one for everyone who asks to borrow it!
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From looking at the title and the back cover, I was very interested in reading Stop The Clock, and I raced through the book, and had finished it in a day and a bit because it was so gripping!

We start the story with three friends on New Years Eve 1999, just about to enter the Millennium and wondering what the new era, and life will bring them. Lucy is married with her first baby, and desperately wants to be the perfect mother, dedicating herself to creating the ultimate home for her family to share many good memories to come. Tina is a career-driven girl who is determined not to be tied down by a family or husband, as she's quickly ascending in her job and hopes to one day see her name as a byline in a national newspaper. Plus, the top-secret affair she's recently embarked on leaves her free to chase her dreams and do what she wants without worry. Natalie is at a stage in her life where she is keen to settle down with her boyfriend Richard, follow in Lucy's footsteps and have a life of happiness.

The reader is then transported ten years forward to Spring 2009. All three ladies appear to have exactly what they wished for on New Years Eve, but is it enough? And is it quite what they wanted? From here follows a truly gripping and enthralling story of love, friendship, and the bonds that keep us tightly woven together, but can so easily break us apart.

Alison Mercer has written a brilliant and captivating tale of three women's individual stories, linked together through friendship and effortlessly changing from one woman's perspective to another's. I really liked Lucy, Natalie and Tina's personalities, how they were very different but at the same time had similarities. Tina was by far my favourite, at the start I wasn't keen on her character at all but as the story progressed I really felt I understood her and I was really rooting for her nearer the end of the story too.

This is a fantastic story from Alison Mercer that keeps you hooked right until the last pages.
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on 4 September 2012
This is a book which needs your undivided attention! Very difficult to put down even at 1am! Gripping and often messy real life adventure of 3 friends in their thirties, beautifully written. Funny, sad, uplifting, honest insights to their lives, loves and losses. Some difficult issues faced head on and handled sensitively. Looking forward to next novel from Alison Mercer, until then, this debut novel will find its way in to Christmas stockings for all my friends and family this year!
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on 12 November 2012
Stop the Clock opens on New Years Eve 1999. As three friends Lucy, Natalie and Tina pose for a photo on the beach they cannot imagine how much their lives will changes over the next decade.

Tina is determined to work her way up the career ladder, Lucy craves a stable family life and Natalie would like to settle down and be happily married with children. How will their lives really turn out ten years later?

I enjoyed the way that Mercer has successfully divided the narrative, so that each of the three main characters have an equal part. It made me feel that I knew each one well and allows the reader to form strong opinions of each person. The characters are so well formed that I think that readers will find one that they feel they can relate to their own lives or circumstances. The storyline is really addictive to read and I did not want to put it down. I would love to read a sequel to this novel to find out what will happen to their lives further into the future.

This is such an amazing debut novel - I can't wait to read more from Alison Mercer.
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on 24 March 2013
This is for me the best debut novel of 2012. The writing style, superb editing and the three interwoven stories of Lucy, Tina and Natalie are wonderful. Loved the cover illustration too!

This book is sharp, witty, poignant and very up-to-date, also mercifully free of the kind of foul language and sex which seems to be permeating debut chick lit books at present. The back cover summary is accurate so you know exactly the main threads of the story, again refreshing for a 2012 book.

The characters are not instantly likeable but their stories have you gripped from the beginning and as the book progresses you do come to either empathise with them or have sympathy for their situation and one of the three will become your favourite.

I look forward to Alison Mercer's second book due out later this year, she can really write and her editor is a genius, many congratulations to you both!
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on 10 July 2013
Stop the clock Follows the lives of three best friends during the most testing times of their existence so far. All secretly struggling and scared to tell each other the truth. After Lucy, Natalie and Tina give each other their 10 year plan, will they have stuck to it.

I have to be honest and say at times this book did drag for me. It seemed to lose its way a bit during the middle. It did pick up again though and I was happy to continue with it and enjoy it. The plots are good and the characters strong, reliable and extremely different which brings a lot of diversity into the plots. They have been divided enough so you get to know each of the characters personally and as a trio.

Overall the book is a nice, straight read with a few twists along the lines.

I recommend this book if you enjoy romance, struggles and friendship.

4/5
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on 11 November 2012
At first I thought the book was going to be disappointing as the start was slow and the story line quite predictable, however the pace quickened and the characters and their individual lives became much more interesting & realistic, I didn't want the book to end. Good debut novel.
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