Title: Queenie

Author: Candice Carty Williams

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Trapeze

The Blurb

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

The Review

Queenie is a fabulous story of a young girl who is trying to find her place, find who she is and do so with the added discomfort of the gentrification in the world as she knows it.

I loved Queenie. Whilst I cannot state that I know what it is like to be black (a stupid thing to say, I know) I felt that throughout Queenie that Carty Williams has made the experience of being a girl in her 20s so relatable. I am no longer in my mid-20s but boy would this book have been handy when I was struggling to translate that difficult time in my life.

For me, one of the best things about Queenie is that although she goes through a lot you finish the story feeling hopeful.

I really hope Queenie gets optioned for a TV series. It was so damn good.

Queenie by Candice Carty Williams is available now.

For more information regarding Candice Carty Williams (@CandiceC_W) please visit www.candicecartywilliams.com.

For more information regarding Trapeze (@TrapezeBooks) please visit instagram.com/trapeze_books/

Title: Monsters in the Mirror – 1: Beyond the Mirror

Author: AJ Hartley

Pages: 424 Pages

Publisher: UCLan Publishing

The Blurb

Darwen Arkwright’s world is turned upside down when he is forced to move from a small English town to Atlanta in the United States of America. Feeling out of place and struggling to fit in at school, Darwen seeks solace in a mysterious shop full of mirrors. It’s there that he discovers the ability to step through mirrors in to different worlds – worlds beyond his wildest imagination. Darwen befriends creatures including Moth, a tiny being with mechanical wings, but he soon learns that there is a terrible darkness threatening this new world…and only he can save it. The problem with doors is that they open both ways. There are monsters inside, and some of them are trying to get out…

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I read Monsters in the Mirror a couple of months ago and even as I write this review I remember how impressive it was as a middle grade fiction.

Monsters in the Mirror is the story of Darwin Arkwright. He has just moved from a small city in England to America to live with his aunt. He is dealing with the loss of his parents, living in an unusual place, having to go to a new school and make new friends. Oh and he has a mirror that leads to another world filled with monsters.

Sounds a bit random but for a middle grade fantasy this is pretty good stuff. Darwen soon realises that he has a mission within this other world and with a small circle of close friends he manages to start out on his epic adventure.

There were some aspects of this book that were truly terrifying. Some of the monsters are so creepy that I, a fully grown adult, was creeped out by. AJ Hartley has managed to make the monsters sinister but also very original. I often think that monster stories can be overdone but Hartley sets the correct tone and allows the imagination of the reader to soar.

This is a really good middle grade novel. I am looking forward to the sequel.

Monsters in the Mirror by AJ Hartley is available now.

For more information regarding AJ Hartley (@authorajhartley) please visit www.ajhartley.net.

For more information regarding UCLan Publishing (@publishinguclan) please visit www.uclanpublishing.com.

Title: “I’m Fine?!” – Navigating Chronic and Mental Illness; without Faking ‘Fine’

Author: Kathleen Nicholls

Pages: 157 Pages

Publisher: Independently Published

The Blurb

Let’s face it, living with chronic illness is hard enough. Throw in mental health issues and that’s a whole other ball game most of us are too exhausted to play. I want to shed light on the often unspoken correlation between poor mental health and chronic illness. I aim to show you there is life after a diagnosis or either (or both), and how to adapt and thrive despite it all.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Having IBD is hard. It is damn hard. What is even harder is all the additional crap (pun intended) that comes along with it.

For some (and most definitely me) is the stress, anxiety, and emotional distress that can also come with having an IBD.

Kathleen Nicholls is the perfect person to talk about this topic because she has IBD and has suffered because of it.

I found I’m Fine comforting because someone else gets it on the same level as I do. Anxiety is different for everyone but knowing that someone else has similar symptoms due to the same underlying problem makes me feel less alone.

“I’m Fine?!” – Navigating Chronic and Mental Illness; without Faking ‘Fine’ by Kathleen Nicholls is available now.

For more information regarding Kathleen Nicholls (@kathfantastic) please visit www.kathfantastic.com.

Title: Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys

Author: Viv Albertine

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: St Martin’s Press

The Blurb

Viv Albertine is a pioneer. As lead guitarist and songwriter for the seminal band The Slits, she influenced a future generation of artists including Kurt Cobain and Carrie Brownstein. She formed a band with Sid Vicious and was there the night he met Nancy Spungeon. She tempted Johnny Thunders…toured America with the Clash…dated Mick Jones…and inspired the classic Clash anthem “Train in Vain.” But Albertine was no mere muse. In Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys., Albertine delivers a unique and unfiltered look at a traditionally male-dominated scene.

Her story is so much more than a music memoir. Albertine’s narrative is nothing less than a fierce correspondence from a life on the fringes of culture. The author recalls rebelling from conformity and patriarchal society ever since her days as an adolescent girl in the same London suburb of Muswell Hill where the Kinks formed. With brash honesty—and an unforgiving memory—Albertine writes of immersing herself into punk culture among the likes of the Sex Pistols and the Buzzcocks. Of her devastation when the Slits broke up and her reinvention as a director and screenwriter. Or abortion, marriage, motherhood, and surviving cancer. Navigating infidelity and negotiating divorce. And launching her recent comeback as a solo artist with her debut album, The Vermilion Border.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. is a raw chronicle of music, fashion, love, sex, feminism, and more that connects the early days of punk to the Riot Grrl movement and beyond. But even more profoundly, Viv Albertine’s remarkable memoir is the story of an empowered woman staying true to herself and making it on her own in the modern world.

The Review

I would be lying if I said that I knew who Viv Albertine was before I read Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys. Don’t get me wrong, I had heard of The Slits but I didn’t know who the individual members were.

I bought Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys based on the cover and fell into this amazing no-holds-barred autobiography that was flush with life experience and honesty that it made me want to know more.

Albertine does not obscure her life experiences. She bears all her scars to the world and it gives the reader an insight into what happens when the music stops.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys is one of the most honest, endearing works of autobiography that I have ever read and I implore you to pick up a copy whether you are a music fan or not.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine is available now.

For more information regarding Viv Albertine (@viv_albertine) please visit www.vivalbertine.com.

For more information regarding St Martin’s Press (@StMartinsPress) please visit us.macmillan.com.

Title: Others – Writers on the Power of Words to Help us See Beyond Ourselves

Author: Charles Fernyhough

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Unbound

The Blurb

It doesn’t take much familiarity with the news to see that the world has become a more hate-filled place. In Others, a group of writers explore the power of words to help us to see the world as others see it, and to reveal some of the strangeness of our own selves.

Through stories, poems, memoirs and essays, we look at otherness in a variety of its forms, from the dividing lines of politics and the anonymising forces of city life, through the disputed identities of disability, gender and neurodiversity, to the catastrophic imbalances of power that stands in the way of social equality. Whether the theme is a casual act of racism or an everyday interaction with someone whose experience seems impossible to imagine, the collection challenges us to recognise our own otherness to those we would set apart as different.

Contributors include: Leila Aboulela, Gillian Allnutt, Damian Barr, Noam Chomsky, Rishi Dastidar, Peter Ho Davies, Louise Doughty, Salena Godden, Colin Grant, Sam Guglani, Matt Haig, Aamer Hussein, Anjali Joseph, A. L. Kennedy, Joanne Limburg, Rachel Mann, Tiffany Murray, Sara Novic, Edward Platt, Alex Preston, Tom Shakespeare, Kamila Shamsie, Will Storr, Preti Taneja and Marina Warner.

The Review

Much like the recent release Common People by Unbound, Others is a collection of essays, short stories, and poems of what it is like to be ‘other’.

What I learned from reading this wonderful collection is that there are so many relatable ways to feel other and that by sharing these kind of stories is so important because it makes you feel less alone.

Please support Unbound publishers because they really do release great books and support brilliant undiscovered writers.

Others – Writers on the Power of Words to Help us See Beyond Ourselves by Charles Fernyhough is available now.

For more information regarding Charles Fernyhough (@cfernyhough) please visit www.charlesfernyhough.com.

For more information regarding Unbound (@Unbounders) please visit www.unbound.com/books.