Title: Honor Code

Author: Kiersi Burkhart

Pages: 312 Pages

Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group

The Blurb

Sam knows how lucky she is to be part of the elite Edwards Academy. As she dreams of getting into Harvard one day, she’s willing to do anything to fit in and excel at the private high school. Even if that means enduring hazing, signing up for a sport she hates, and attending the school dance with an upperclassman she barely knows.

But when she learns the high cost of entry, will Sam be willing to bury the worst night of her life in order to “keep the community sacred”? As the line between truth and justice blurs, Sam must find out for herself what honor really means.

The Review

The things people will do to fit in. That is the initial basis of Honor Code by Kiersi Burkhart. When you are faced with the dilemma o being ostracised or being part of something bigger Sam knows the choice she has to make. She is new to Edwards Academy – a high school that pretty much guarantees your acceptance into any elite college. But Sam soon comes to realise that it is easy to lose yourself in the expectations of school life, how easy it is to befall victim to more sinister goings on.

Honor Code is brilliantly dark and twisty. Burkhart looks at the tradition of honor codes in schools along with the current victim blaming culture that is seen in many college campuses in America. She uses alienation and broken friendships to look at the desperate nature that being lonely and alone as a teenager along with the problems that teens face.

This book does not leave you feeling comfortable. You are pushed way out of your comfort zone but it is necessary to get the point across. It does make for uncomfortable reading but it is so damn good.

Honor Code by Kiersi Burkhart is available now.

For more information regarding Kiersi Burkhart (@kiersi) please visit her Twitter page.

Title: Curtains Down at her Majesty’s – The Death of Queen Victoria in the Words of Those Who Were There

Author: Stewart Richards

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: The History Press

The Blurb

‘Her Majesty the Queen breathed her last at 6.30 p.m., surrounded by her children and grand-children.’

With this notice, pinned to the entrance gate of Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s doctors announced the death of the most powerful woman in the world, who had sat on her throne and ruled through more than six decades. Her rule had seen her kingdom spread to become the world’s biggest empire, had seen massive change in society and leaps forward in technology. It is little surprise that the death of one who had ruled for all of many people’s lives created chaos, shock and mass outpourings of grief across the country.

Here author and researcher Stewart Richards has delved through the archives to put together the definitive view of Victoria in her final days, through the immediate reaction and aftermath of her death, to the state funeral of 2 February 1901. Based entirely on fascinating first-hand accounts, The Death of Queen Victoria offers a truly unique insight into the events of that tumultuous few days and is a volume that no enthusiast should be without.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Curtains Down at her Majesty’s is a fascinating and factual account of the days preceding the death of Queen Victoria and the days of mourning and the funeral that followed.

This isn’t a work of fiction. Author Stewart Richards has meticulously gone through diary entries, letters, telegrams, newspaper articles of the people who were there: Queen Victoria’s family, her physicians and her subjects.

What is revealed is how the pomp and ceremony surrounding royal deaths is conducted and it gives insight in how the current monarchy was created.

A truly fascinating read for those who love the Victorian era and the monarchy.

Curtains Down at her Majesty’s – The Death of Queen Victoria in the Words of Those Who Were There by Stewart Richards is available now.

For more information regarding The History Press (@TheHistoryPress) please visit www.thehistorypress.co.uk.

Title: The Familiars

Author: Stacey Halls

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Zaffre

The Blurb

IN 1612 IN LANCASTER, ENGLAND, THE HUNT FOR WITCHES IS RAMPANT…

BUT IN A TIME OF SUSPICION AND ACCUSATION, TO BE A WOMAN IS THE GREATEST RISK OF AL

1612 Pendle Hill

Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth is with child again. As the mistress of Gawthorpe Hall, she is anxious to provide her husband with an heir. But none of her previous pregnancies have come to term. Then she discovers a hidden letter from her physician that warns her husband that she will not survive another pregnancy.

Distraught over the frightening revelation, Fleetwood wanders the woods of Pendle Hill, where she meets a young local woman named Alice Gray. A midwife, Alice promises Fleetwood she can help her deliver a healthy baby. But soon Alice is drawn into the frenzied accusations of witchcraft sweeping the countryside. Even the woodland creatures, the “familiars,” are suspected of practicing the dark arts. Can Fleetwood trust that Alice is really who she says she is?

As the two women’s lives become intertwined, Fleetwood must risk everything to prove Alice’s innocence in order to save her own unborn child. The hunt for witches reaches fever pitch. Time is running out. The trials are about to begin. Both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Set against the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612, this rich and compelling novel draws its characters from historical figures as it explores the lives and rights of seventeenth-century women, ultimately raising the question: Is witch-hunting really just women-hunting?

The Review

The Familiars is a story about women. It is set in 1612, a time when women (and occasionally but rarely, men) were accused of witchcraft – something that is often associated with Salem in America equally happened in various parts of Britain. The Pendle Witch Trials provide the backdrop to this story but it is so much more than that.

The Familiars explores the role of women, the role of medicine and the role of friendship – all of which play a part in this evocative story of young Fleetwood Shuttleworth who has to come to terms with her impending motherhood, death, and the insidious role of the patriarchy.

I bloody loved it. I will admit that it is very rare that my reading takes me back further than Victorian times but I am so glad that I picked up this book. It was so evocative and all consuming. I found myself yelling at the book, feeling claustrophobic at times and had a visceral feeling of injustice. It truly is a fabulous story.

The Familiars by Stacey Halls is available now.

For more information regarding Stacey Halls (@stacey_halls) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Zaffre (@ZaffreBooks) please visit www.bonnierbooks.co.uk.

Title: Lanny

Author: Max Porter

Pages: 224 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

Not far from London, there is a village.

This village belongs to the people who live in it and to those who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England’s mysterious past and its confounding present.

It belongs to Mad Pete, the grizzled artist. To ancient Peggy, gossiping at her gate. To families dead for generations, and to those who have only recently moved here.

But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort who has woken from his slumber in the woods. Dead Papa Toothwort, who is listening to them all.

Chimerical, audacious, strange and wonderful – a song to difference and imagination, to friendship, youth and love, Lanny is the globally anticipated new novel from Max Porter.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Lanny is the story of unusual friendships, a missing child, and the fear of the “other”.

Lanny is a young boy who is best described as someone who bangs to the beat of their own drum. He doesn’t quite fit in but he is in no way ostracised. He just is. Lanny is encouraged by his mother to befriend a local artist known as ‘Mad Pete’ because of his interest in art and creating things. Equally, Mad Pete is encouraged by Lanny’s mum.

Max Porter uses this poetic novella to discuss how a seemingly normal village will fall apart in the face of adversity and terror. Porter uses his lyrical style which becomes much more intense as the story progresses to show how prejudices are exposed.

Max Porter has a way of packing a whole lot into very little. He is economical with his word choice and should be applauded for the stories that he tells.

Lanny by Max Porter is available now.

For more information regarding Max Porter (@maxjohnporter) please visit www.maxporter.co.uk.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@faberbooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.

Title: This Book is Gay

Author: Juno Dawson (as James Dawson)

Pages: 271 Pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

The Blurb

Lesbian. Bisexual. Queer. Transgender. Straight. Curious. This book is for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference. This book is for anyone who’s ever dared to wonder. This book is for YOU.

There’s a long-running joke that, after “coming out,” a lesbian, gay guy, bisexual, or trans person should receive a membership card and instruction manual. THIS IS THAT INSTRUCTION MANUAL. You’re welcome.

Inside you’ll find the answers to all the questions you ever wanted to ask: from sex to politics, hooking up to stereotypes, coming out and more. This candid, funny, and uncensored exploration of sexuality and what it’s like to grow up LGBT also includes real stories from people across the gender and sexual spectrums, not to mention hilarious illustrations.

You will be entertained. You will be informed. But most importantly, you will know that however you identify (or don’t) and whomever you love, you are exceptional. You matter. And so does this book.

The Review

This Book is Gay is the first book that I have ever seen that is marketed for teenagers to address LGBTQ+ issues that hasn’t been patronising or written by someone well meaning but clueless about what it is to live as an LGBTQ+ person. Juno Dawson, however, offers honest, witty, and entertaining information within her book This Book is Gay – those who are aware of Juno Dawson (if you haven’t then, seriously, where have you been?) you will know that she has a bit of experience living as an LGBTQ+ woman.

She discusses the often unavailable information about living in this community to an audience who have very limited experience. Those who are either taking tentative steps to understand their part in the LGBTQ+ community or friends and family who also have limited knowledge and want to be supportive.

Juno Dawson addresses the inadequacies in the school system – why is heteronormative sex the only thing taught in schools; she looks at dating and how difficult it can be. She also talks to people who are LGBTQ+ so we don’t feel that her writing is preachy. She is and has lived it and she knows what she is talking about but you don’t feel talked AT.

I firmly believe that This Book is Gay should be issued to schools. Young students who are struggling to find their place would find this book so comforting and feel that there is somewhere that they can feel included. That someone out there, beyond the microcosm of their small world knows what it feels like.

I was genuinely in awe of this book.

This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson is available now.

For more information regarding Juno Dawson (@junodawson) please visit www.junodawson.com.

For more information regarding Sourcebooks Fire (@SourcebooksFire) please visit www.firereads.com.