The Hot Flash Club (Hot Flash Club Series #1)

The Hot Flash Club (Hot Flash Club Series #1)

by Nancy Thayer


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345469168
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/23/2004
Series: Hot Flash Club Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 138,641
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Nancy Thayer is the author of thirteen novels, including Custody, Between Husbands And Friends, An Act Of Love, Belonging, Three Women at the Water’s Edge, and Everlasting, which was a Main Dual selection of the Literary Guild. Her work has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Her first novel, Stepping, was made into a 13-part series for BBC Radio and her ghost novel Spirit Lost has been optioned and produced as a movie by United Image Entertainment. In 1981 she was a Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers Conference. She has lived on Nantucket Island year round for nineteen years with her husband Charley Walters.

Read an Excerpt


It was while Faye was gathering donations for the community tag sale that she realized, with a shock, that any stranger going through her house would think she was obsessive, anal-retentive, or, at the very least, eccentric.

Although, if the stranger were a female around Faye’s age—fifty-five—she would probably understand what could appear to others as an unhealthy mania for clothes.

Naturally, Faye’s clothing hung in the large walk-in closet of her bedroom.

Also, in the guest bedroom closet.

And in the closet of her daughter’s bedroom, for Laura was twenty-eight, married, and had left only a few of her favorite childhood things at home.

Faye’s clothes did not hang in the attic, because when she and Jack bought the house thirty years ago, they converted the attic into a studio where Faye painted. But more of Faye’s clothes were hung, folded, or bundled in plastic wardrobes in the spacious linen closet at the end of the hall.

So much clothing!

She felt appalled, and slightly guilty.

It wasn’t just that Faye, like most women, changed her wardrobe for summer and winter and fall, or that, like many other women, she had casual clothes for daily life and some elegant suits for the various committees she sat on, and a few gorgeous dresses for the events she had attended with Jack, a corporate lawyer and head of his own prestigious Boston firm. It wasn’t only that she had Christmas sweaters and tennis skirts and the black velvet evening cloak that had been her mother’s, so how could she possibly part with it? Or that she’d kept the expensive, elegant raincoat she’d bought on a trip to London with Jack, where she’d torn the hem, stepping out of a black cab on the way home from the theater. She intended to mend it, but she hadn’t yet found time to do so. In the meantime, she’d bought another raincoat or two, to serve until she mended the London one. It wasn’t that during this long, gloomy spring, she’d bought, on an impulse, another raincoat, a rain slicker of cheery, cherry red.

It was that she had so many clothes for so many seasons and reasons in so many different sizes.

The size 12s were in Laura’s bedroom.

The size 14s were in the guest bedroom.

The size 16s were in the linen closet.

The size 18s were in her own closet, right next to her husband’s clothing. It was his clothing that had gotten her started on this spree in the first place.

One long year ago, Jack, her darling Jack, had died of a sudden heart attack, at the age of sixty-four.

In the middle of the night, Jack had sat up in bed, turned on the light, and said to Faye, “Don’t forget—” then clutched his chest and fell on the floor.

Don’t forget what? Faye wondered. It kept her awake at night, it made her walk right past her townhouse, it bit at her thoughts like a tack in her shoe. Don’t forget I love you? Don’t forget to tell Laura I love her? Don’t forget to look in the secret door in the Chippendale cabinet? (She’d looked there and found nothing.)

“He was sleeping,” her son-in-law Lars assured her. “He might have been dreaming. He might have been thinking something nonsensical, the ways dreams can be, like don’t forget to feed the giraffe.”

Now, a year after his death, her friends, and Laura, too, insisted that it really was time to part with his things. Laura and Lars had taken what they wanted. The rest, they reminded her, should not languish in her house when they could be useful to so many others. So Faye was diligently preparing to donate his clothes to the community fair. Most of them, anyway. She would keep a few items: his old robe, worn at the elbows, no good to anyone else, and so comforting to her, and the blue Brooks Brothers shirt he looked so handsome in. The rest she really would give away.

And she absolutely would give away some of her own clothing, too. At least the size 10s.

Although, Faye wondered, collapsing on the carpet and leaning against the bedpost—because her bedroom chairs and the bed were covered with clothing she’d sorted through—would giving away the size 10s be admitting she’d never be that size again? Would it be like giving up?

All her life, her weight had gone up and down more than the scales of a Tchaikovsky concerto.

Well, more up than down.

Faye loved to eat and never lost weight without fierce determination and control. Usually she weighed the most in early January, after the ounces and inches from the feasts and celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s had accumulated, like a confetti of cellulite, onto her hips. She weighed the least in the summer, when the combination of dread of appearing in public in a bathing suit, and anticipation of light, floaty summer dresses, had driven her to diet down a size or two.

But three years ago, she’d had a hysterectomy for fibroid tumors—that had been wonderful, she’d lost several pounds while lying down! On doctor’s advice, she took the hormone replacement therapy that had been touted as a wonder drug until, a year ago, the same HRT was suddenly reviled as toxic by a hysterical press. She stopped using it, and now she weighed as much as she had when she was nine months’ pregnant.

She hadn’t been eating more than usual or exercising less. Just the opposite: Determined not to go creakily into old age, she exercised regularly. In general, she led an active life. In spite of that, and her increasing attention to what she ate, fat collected around her arms and thighs, under her chin, on her bottom and hips, and rose on her stomach, warm and rounded, like a freshly baked loaf of bread.

Long ago, Faye had vowed not to compare her physique to the skeletal models in magazines—her healthy body provided her with so many pleasures, why should she criticize it? She decided she’d try to cut down on fats and eat more veggies.

And she was trying.

But another loss had struck her, hard. Faye hadn’t told anyone about this, not Laura or her closest friends, because speaking of it might make it real, might make it lasting.

For thirty years, Faye had been a talented, respected artist whose contemporary Impressionist still lifes sold as fast as she could fin- ish them, making her quite well off, which she didn’t even need to be, since Jack, a successful corporate attorney, made more than enough money. It wasn’t the money that mattered anyway, it was the work, it was the daily mix of discipline, inspiration, knowledge, and risk that made painting so important to her. Through her painting, she interpreted the world. Through her painting, she expressed her gratitude for the luminous mysteries of any normal day.

Nine months after Jack’s death, Faye decided she must put an end to her grieving and try to paint again. After all, painting was one of the joys of her life. Jack would want her to paint. So she climbed the stairs to her third floor studio, set up a still life of red pears in a silver bowl, pulled on her smock, readied her paints, and lifted her brush. Several hours later, she stood perplexed and more than a little frightened by what she saw on the canvas. It was muddy, thick, dull.

She waited a few days, then tried again. But for the first time ever, painting was work, and at the end of the day, what she’d accomplished was not even mediocre.

Have patience, she told herself. Her mind needed time to remember its talents.

But time didn’t help, nor did patience. Playing Rachmaninoff in her studio didn’t help, nor did so many infusions of ginseng and other helpful herbs that she expected little green twigs to curl out her ears. The gift of painting, which had sustained her all her life, had simply vanished, and she had no idea whether it would ever return.

She refused to believe this loss was connected to Jack’s death. Her love for Jack had been the main catalyst for her work. Even though he was gone, her love for him remained as constant as it had when he was alive, and she believed that somewhere he knew this and continued to love her, too.

No. She was certain the loss was connected to her age, to her failing hormones, to the same physiological changes that added weight to her body and blotted her memory like random whiteouts of Liquid Paper.

Because she believed that happiness was at least in some part simply a choice, she refused to mope about it, she didn’t mention it to anyone, and she kept trying, climbing up to her studio, stand- ing in front of a canvas with her paints. She could joke about the changes in her appearance—the increasingly white hair, thinning lips, and her weight—but her inability to paint was a real source of concern. Was her artistic talent shrinking, shriveling, curling up and dying, like a brilliant older friend of theirs crippled with Parkinson’s? If she couldn’t paint, she couldn’t be herself, Faye. It was a terrifying thought.

Shortly after she stopped hormone replacement therapy, a new torment appeared in her life. Hot flashes. At unexpected times of the day, an invisible match slashed up her body, igniting her into such incandescence she was always surprised smoke didn’t come out her ears. It also fried her brain, disconnecting reason from emotion. No matter how firmly her mind assured her it would pass, her instincts told her she would detonate unless she ripped all her clothes off now. During the day she dressed in loose layers of cotton she could tear off in a moment, and in the winter, she often stepped out on her back porch in her cotton tank top, luxuriating in the freezing air.

It happened at night, too. She’d awake in a panic of heat, and after she’d thrown off the covers and flung off her nightgown, she’d lie there panting, waiting to explode. Later, when she’d cooled off, she’d lie staring at the other side of the bed, where Jack had lain, his reliable bulk rising before her like a shield against the dark night. She’d pull his pillow to her and fall asleep, hugging it tight.

Perhaps that explained her sudden inability to paint. Perhaps her mind was overwhelmed from loneliness, lack of sleep, and a general hormonal storm.

She wished she could talk this over with her husband. Jack had loved her passionately, no matter what she weighed. Jack had been Faye’s best friend, her favorite companion. He’d made her think. He’d made her laugh. After thirty-five years of marriage, he’d still been able to make her breathless in bed. He’d made her want to paint. He’d supported—he’d championed her painting.

In her grief after his death, weight had fallen from Faye like her tears. But over the past long, brutally severe, winter, she’d gained it all back, and more. The nights were lonely, and a box of chocolates, or a plate of buttery cinnamon toast, were good company. The coldest days were warmed by a bowl of homemade clam chowder and a piece, or two, of apple pie, or a cheese omelet with bacon, hash browns, biscuits, and honey.

So here she was, at the end of March, wearing her largest size—and finding it too tight.

Still, no self-pity! Faye ordered herself. She had so much to be thankful for. Her health, her friends, and especially, above all, her lovely daughter, wonderful son-in-law, and adorable granddaughter. She knew she was fortunate to be so close to them.

So she pulled herself to her feet, turned her attention to her bed, and diligently, mercilessly, sorted through her clothes.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a pounding. She hurried down the stairs, smoothing her white hair back into its low ponytail, and opened the front door.

Her daughter stood there, with Megan in her arms and tears pouring down her face.

“Laura!” Faye exclaimed. “What’s happened? Is Megan all right?”

Laura reeled into the front hall, the diaper bag swinging from her arm, her thick dark hair tumbling around her shoulders, her nose bright red. Baby Megan’s knitted cap had slipped down, covering one eye and part of her face. Her lower lip was quivering.

“Laura!” Faye said. “Tell me! What’s wrong?”

“It’s Lars!” Laura cried. “I think he’s having an affair! Oh, Mommy, I just want to die!”

A powerful punch of emotions—relief, anger, sympathy—knocked the wind right out of Faye. When she could get her breath, she said, “Let me have Megan.” Lifting her granddaughter into her arms, she led the way into the living room and, settling on a sofa, began unwrapping the baby from her fleecy snowsuit.

Laura collapsed on the other side of the coffee table, slender shoulders shaking as she sobbed. “It hurts so much, Mommy!”

Faye made Megan a safe little nest in the corner of the sofa, surrounded by cushions, handed her the TV remote control to play with, then rose and poured her daughter a glass of sherry.

“Drink this.”

“I don’t want—”

“Drink it, Laura. You’ve got to calm down. You’ll frighten Megan.”

Laura took a sip and choked.

“Take a deep breath,” Faye suggested, making her voice nursery-stern even though she felt like weeping herself.

Her poor daughter looked absolutely wretched, her eyes and nose swollen, her skin blotchy.

Lars, having an affair? Faye couldn’t believe it. Lars was wonderful. Jack had loved Lars, and Jack had been an acute judge of character. Jack would be pleased to know how helpful and patient and understanding Lars had been over the past year. Holding Laura in his arms as she wept and wept. Standing strong and silent between Faye and Laura at the funeral, a ready shoulder for either woman. Never once complaining when Laura’s visits to her mother turned into overnight stays in those early weeks when Faye couldn’t bear to be alone in an empty home. Welcoming Faye into their house so she could help cook and keep things running the first week after Megan’s birth. Oh, how Faye wished Jack had lived long enough to see his beautiful baby granddaughter.

“Take another sip of sherry,” Faye said. Pulling an armchair close to the sofa, she sat at right angles to Laura and took her hand. “Sweetie. Why do you think he’s having an affair?”

“For weeks, when I called his office or his cell phone, he hasn’t picked up. He’s had to ‘work late’ almost every night. He sneaks in when he thinks I’m asleep and takes a shower before getting into bed. He always used to shower in the morning!”

This didn’t sound good, Faye silently agreed. She made cooing noises at Megan, who was deep in baby-fierce concentration, attempting to get the remote control to her mouth.

“Sometimes I can smell perfume on him.”

“Have you asked him about it?”

“Once. A week ago. He denied it. But if he is—oh, Mommy,” Laura cried. “What am I going to do?”

“Sweetie.” Faye moved across to wrap her lovely daughter in her arms. “You haven’t been getting much sleep lately, being up all hours with Megan. Maybe you’re overreacting.”

“I just found this,” Laura said. From her purse, she took out what looked like a plastic playing card.

“What is it?”

“A ‘key’ to a hotel room.” Laura handed it to her.

Faye studied it. A magnetic strip on one side, the Ritz-Carlton logo on the other.

“The Ritz is close to his office,” Laura said. Grimly she continued, “I know who it is. The receptionist. Jennifer D’Annucio. I saw the way she looked at him at the office Christmas and New Year’s parties. She gave him a Hermès tie for Christmas.”

“How can you be sure it was she—?”

“I asked him! He said when everyone in the office drew ‘Secret Santas, Jennifer D’Annucio got his name. He said she has a cousin who works at Hermès, and she got a discount.”

“That’s all possible, Laura.”

“Mom, I looked through his credit card receipts. In December he charged a gold bracelet at Cartier. I didn’t get a gold bracelet!” Laura pounded her fists on her knees. “I hate him!” She jumped up and paced the room. “I’ll show him! I’ll sleep with Joe Foster.”

“Joe Foster?”

“Another lawyer in his office. They hate each other. They’re terrible rivals. Joe always flirts with me at parties. He’s a slimy sleazy little weasel.”

“Then why would you want to sleep with him?”

“Because it’s the worst thing I can imagine doing to Lars.”

“Sounds like the worst thing you could do to yourself.” Faye took a deep breath. “All right, now. Let’s be sensible. You don’t want to have sex with a slimy sleazy little weasel, Laura. You don’t want to do anything until you’re sure that Lars is fooling around.”

“And when I get proof”—Laura’s eyes filled with tears—“I’ll file for divorce.”

“Hold on a minute. Let’s take one step at a time. You’ve got to think of Megan.”

Laura looked over at her baby, propped in the corner of the sofa. Megan leaned forward, mouth open and drooling, brought the remote control toward her mouth with both hands and great concentration, and whacked herself on the nose. Turning crimson, she wailed.

“Poor baby,” Faye cooed, gathering her grandchild in her arms.

“She does this every night.” Laura sighed, and tossed back the rest of her sherry.

“Hits herself in the face with a remote control?”

“No, goes into a two-hour tantrum.”

“This is the beginning of a two-hour tantrum?”

Laura nodded miserably. “I’ve called the pediatrician. He said it might be colic, although at four months she’s a little old for colic. She had a checkup just last week, and she’s in perfect health. But every evening she does this for two hours. Then she falls asleep, and I can’t wake her. She sleeps until two or three in the morning, then wakes up and is bright and chipper and won’t go back to sleep until six, when Lars is waking up. I feel like a zombie.”

“Oh, my poor darling,” Faye said. Rising, she brought the scream- ing baby to her shoulder and walked her, patting her back, an instinctive act that had undoubtedly been passed down through the genes since primitive woman. “Why didn’t you tell me about this before now, Laura?”

“Because you’ve already helped so much! I’m an adult! I should be able to solve my problems myself!” She stamped her foot, looking terribly young and vulnerable.

Faye moved Megan to the other shoulder. “Does Lars help with Megan?”

“She screams even louder with Lars. I think she’s hurt his feelings.”

“At least his eardrums,” Faye muttered wryly.


“You slept through the night when you were a month old,” Faye admitted, feeling irrationally guilty for having had it so easy.

“I know! So what am I doing wrong?”

“It’s not a question of—”

“I shouldn’t blame Lars if he is having an affair.” Laura’s tears started up again. “My breasts hang, I haven’t had the time to shave my legs since Megan was born, and all I can talk about is the color of her poop. I’ve gotten all saggy and boring! Probably not even Joe Foster would want me now.”

“Nonsense,” Faye said briskly. “You’re the same beautiful, wonderful girl you’ve always been. All young mothers feel this way, overwhelmed and exhausted. It will get better. You’ll see.”

“How can it get better if Lars is having an affair?” Laura wept.

“Darling,” Faye said, raising her voice to make herself heard over Megan’s wailing, “you don’t know he’s having an affair.” Her heart broke in half as she looked at her daughter. Laura did look saggy—she sagged as she sat there, weeping. Never had Laura looked so terrible, and pity moved through Faye’s heart like a rumbling, rolling boulder, weighing her down so heavily that she slumped into an armchair, unable to stand.

Megan wailed even louder.

If only Jack were still alive. He would know exactly what to do. Faye knew she had to do something. But what?

Table of Contents

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The Hot Flash Club 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
GrammaMikkik More than 1 year ago
then you will find youself here, I'm guessing. I read so many books, I have trouble remembering them unless they are VERY special. This one touched my soul. You will be here and you will recognize your friends. And you will feel better for it.
NinaSNS More than 1 year ago
Since I am now a "woman of a certain age," I could relate to a lot of how the characters felt. This was a really enjoyable, fun book to read. Can't wait to read the other Hot Flash Club books.
JennyLinskey More than 1 year ago
I read the first "Hot Flash Club" book. I found it to be very entertaining and original. The characters are witty and clever. The best part is they are realistic and even remind me of people I know.
I am now reading the 2nd book but have not finished. So far it is just as witty for the most part. There are some sad things in it too--i.e. Claudia and her terminal cancer.
I am glad to have been introduced to these books by a friend who told me they were great.
I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. When I was in my thirties, I asked my son to please tell me if I ever started acting like my mother. When I was in my forties, he told me and I cried. Now I'm 53. He told me again and I said,'YES!'. He's now 32 and I'm going to send him a copy and make him read it and answer questions that only someone who read it would know the answers to! I'm lucky enough to have finally found a husband who understands, and loves me enough to shut up if he doesn't. Anyone who gives this book less than 5 stars is either to young to understand, in denial, or too old to remember. But how could one forget...
afanDC More than 1 year ago
I have read the book years ago. I have tld all of my hot flash friends about the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this quick reading book about many different types of characters and their lives. I did not want it to end when it did, and will read the next book in the series to see where the characters go... Enjoyable, light with a different type of writing style.
LovesBooksKW More than 1 year ago
I absolutely enjoyed this book. It was a quick easy read, and was fun to get lost in these womans lives. Very entertaining!
CynthiaWW More than 1 year ago
Most women will find a character to relate to in this book, if not, they know someone like one of the characters. It's fun to follow them and watch the transformations along the way. Alice, Faye, Marilyn, and Shirley become "friends" that you want to catch up on their lives and find out what they do next. This book is a fast read and flows well, can't wait to start the next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a new author for me. I was impressed by how much research she did in developing her characters and hitting it head on. Could not put the book down. Excellent Read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
wonderful book...just loved it...the next one is just as good!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first Nancy Thayer book. I usually reach for the mystery novels but chose this for a quick light read. I read it in two days and I now can't wait to get the sequel to the HFC. I identified with all four characters in some form being a 50+ myself! I highly recommend this book for a fun read for any age.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Normally I reach for a mystery but this was a page turner. The more I read the more I wished for a HFC of my own. Now I'm anxious to read other books written by this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this delightful book. I enjoyed it a immensly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book fun to read and hard to put down. I hope that there is a sequel, because the ending left me wanting to know more about these great women, their friendship and futures.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a true delight if you're approaching or have reached Hot Flash land. Written by, for and about us select females who can really appreciate the story. The characters ring true, the plot is involved enough to make it hard to put down and there's laughs galore. One of those books you hate to see come to an end. A definite keeper to re-read. Hopefully, there will be a sequel !
Guest More than 1 year ago
The four middle aged women meet at a Boston party where they share doubts about their future in light of recent defeats. The quartet hits a chord and vows to help one another, forming the aptly named Hot Flash Club....................................... Faye the widowed artist feels as if she cannot paint anymore. However, helping scientist Marilyn solve a locked door mystery goes a long way for her to recover her confidence.............................. Marilyn caught her long time spouse cheating and has doubts about her son¿s fiancé. She feels people reject her because of her intelligence. However, Faye shows her how to reach her artsy side and Shirley teaches her the art of relaxation through massage.................................... Shirley the masseuse wants her own spa as she carries her work table from client to client. Alice helps her see her real worth while Faye and Marilyn encourage her to seek some of her dreams........................................ Alice receives boosts of confidence from her new pals and unkinking massages from Shirley. She for the first time in a four decade business career competes for a job against a younger healthier female................................. With each other to assist one another the foursome regroup to overcome hot flashes and life¿s curveballs and find friendship, support, and a renewal of spirit........................... Though the use of flashbacks tell how one of the protagonists got to the current situation, that technique slows down the flow of the story line. Still the four key players are solid and fans will enjoy this middle age chorus line chick lit tale.................................... Harriet Klausner
macjam47 26 days ago
The Hot Flash Club is about four middle age women and the various issues each faced as they aged and about how they adjusted to life under their own individual circumstances. Of course, one of the main issues each was faced was the man, or lack of a man, in their lives. They came together by chance and had dinner and lots of wine and chocolate. It was then they decided to keep meeting, mostly for the wine and chocolate, to help each other in their adjustment to their current situations. Alice took on the role of spearheading the group. A lot happens in the story, but to keep from giving too much away, I will not delve into the nitty-gritty of the book. There are a lot of humorous and relatable situations, and I must admit, I found myself laughing out loud at times. The author did a wonderful job fleshing out the stories of these four midlife women. By the end of the book, you will feel you have a personal relationship with each. If you enjoy women’s fiction with humor sprinkled throughout, this is a book you’ll want to read. As a side note, I read the second book in the series, The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again, and was substantially disappointed. Because the first part of the book lacked in keeping the characters straight for the readers (my book club had the same issues with The Hot Flash Club), I am giving this book 4 stars.
KatheeVZ on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I just couldn't get into this one. Not sure why, but I just couldn't. Not saying it's not a good book, but I couldn't get past chapter 5 1/2. I read the first four chapters - learning about each woman, but when I started on the 5th chapter, I lost interest.
RefPenny on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Faye, Shirley, Marilyn and Alice seem to have little in common apart from their age but when they meet by coincidence they realize that between them they have the ability to help each other with their problems. A friendship soon develops and by the end of the book they are all feeling stronger and more confident. This is an engaging and often amusing book although some of the plot lines are a little implausible. All of the characters are sympathetic and you find yourself wanting them to succeed in their individual endeavors. Great holiday reading.
SkyGreene More than 1 year ago
It was a nice change to read about women in their 50s and 60s instead of women in their 20s struggling through life. The book was light and an easy read. Each character had their own story and issue but they merged together after forming their HFC. I had a hard time remember who went with what issue until about 3/4 of the way through the book. How some of the stories wrapped up at the end were a bit quick and it seemed like I had missed something (like when/how did Alan and Jennifer not only get to know each other, but fall in love?), but overall, I liked how it ended and recommend it as a fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nelli stood in a bus, waiting to get off, sighing softly because she has to wait so long.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jahJH More than 1 year ago
must read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lindsie More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by Nancy Thayer, and I have to admit I am quite impressed! The writing style is perfect. The story is quite catchy- you cant put it down. I can't wait to read the second book of the series!