Title: Prima Facie

Author: Suzie Miller

Pages: 324 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

‘This is not life. This is law.’

Tessa Ensler is a brilliant barrister who’s forged her career in criminal defence through sheer determination. Since her days at Cambridge, she’s carefully disguised her working class roots in a male-dominated world where who you know is just as important as what you know. Driven by her belief in the right to a fair trial and a taste for victory, there’s nothing Tessa loves more than the thrill of getting her clients acquitted.

It seems like Tessa has it made when she is approached for a new job and nominated for the most prestigious award in her field. But when a date with a charismatic colleague goes horribly wrong, Tessa finds that the rules she’s always played by might not protect her, forcing her to question everything she’s ever believed in . . .

The Review

Prima Facie is a sucker punch of a novel.

I think we have all seen the adverts for the play starring the amazing Jodie Comer. Here is the novel for those who, like me, did not manage to get to see it and oh wow does it land.

The novel was a bit of a game of two halves. I found that I struggled with the first half but I think it was because I knew something big was about to happen and I was chomping at the bit to get there. Once I was fully there I was invested and I couldn’t put it down.

Prima Facie is a searing look at the shocking system of how we view victims of sexual assault and how archaic impressions leave a victim feeling like they are on trial and guilty of committing a crime that has been perpetrated on them. It was harrowing at times but mostly it is important!

I fully recommend this novel. Go buy a copy now.

Prima Facie by Suzie Miller is available now.

For more information regarding Suzie Miller (@SuzieMillerWrtr) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House (@penguinrandom) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: The Beholders

Author: Hester Musson

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

The Blurb

June, 1878. The body of a boy is pulled from the depths of the River Thames, suspected to be the beloved missing child of the widely admired Liberal MP Ralph Gethin.

Four months earlier. Harriet is a young maid newly employed at Finton Hall. Fleeing the drudgery of an unwanted engagement in the small village where she grew up, Harriet is entranced by the grand country hall; she is entranced too by her glamorous mistress Clara Gethin, whose unearthly singing voice floats through the house. But Clara, though captivating, is erratic. The master of the house is a much-lauded politician, but he is strangely absent. And some of their beautiful belongings seem to tell terrible stories.

Unable to ignore her growing unease, Harriet sets out to discover their secrets. When she uncovers a shocking truth, a chain of events is set in motion that could cost Harriet everything, even her freedom…

The Review

The Beholders by Hester Musson is a time travelling novel…well not in the traditional sense but in the sense that the reader is taken back in time to another life in Victorian Britain. 

When Harriet takes a position in a stately manor for a powerful family she realises that the lifestyle of the rich aren’t always as easy as they seem. 

Dripping with mystery and intrigue, The Beholders really shines a light on the secrets held by those with power and how keeping up appearances is the only way to retain power. 

I really enjoyed The Beholders. It was a good read with plenty on the page to keep you gripped. 

The Beholders by Hester Musson is available now.

For more information regarding 4th Estate (@4thEstateBooks) please visit www.4thestate.co.uk.

Title: Bad Men

Author: Julie Mae Cohen

Pages: 314 Pages

Publisher: Bonnier Books

The Blurb

Saffy Huntley-Oliver has a secret. A secret that she is deeply ashamed of. It’s not the fact that she’s a serial killer in her free time. In fact, she’s quite proud of that. After all she’s only killing the bad men. She is making the world a better place.

No, her secret is far worse than that. Saffy has a messy, inexplicable, uncontrollable crush. So while she’s busy plotting her next murder, she also has the much harder task of figuring out how to get a boyfriend.

But if there’s one thing Saffy knows, it’s how to get her man . . .

The Review

Bad Men is a funny book. I could leave the review at that but I won’t.

You have heard of boy math. You have heard of girl math. Now we need to look at killer math. Saffy Huntley-Oliver is a bit of a sociopath. She has spent her life as a vigilante. She murders men who she thinks shouldn’t be alive anymore. When Saffy falls in love with a crime podcaster she sets about staging a meet cute with very bad consequences.

Julie Mae Cohen has really struck a funny note with this book. I love the concept and the delivery was excellent. It reminded me of the Sweetpea series by CJ Skuse. Saffy is a seriously intimidating protagonist who you cannot help but love. There were things she did – not the murdery things, this isn’t a confession – that I totally understood and I have to applaud Julie Mae Cohen for creating such a memorable character. I only wish there were more stories featuring Saffy Huntley-Oliver.

Bad Men. Buy it now!

Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen is available now.

For more information regarding Julie Mae Cohen (@julie_cohen) please visit www.julie-cohen.com.

For more information regarding Bonnier Books (@bonnierbooks_uk) please visit www.bonnierbooks.co.uk.

Title: The Four

Author: Ellie Keel

Pages: 435 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

ONE SECRET COULD DESTROY THEM ALL

Powerful. Sinister. Heart-wrenching. Unmissable.

We were always The Four. From our very first day at High Realms.

The four scholarship pupils. Outsiders in a world of power and privilege.

It would have made our lives a lot easier if Marta had simply pushed Genevieve out of our bedroom window that day. Certainly, it would have been tragic. She would have died instantly.

But Marta didn’t push her then, or – if you choose to believe me – at any other time. If she had, all of what we went through would not have happened.

I’ve told this story as clearly as I could – as rationally as I’ve been able, in the circumstances, to achieve. I don’t regret what we did. And I would do it all again.

The Review

One of my all time favourite settings for a story is in a school. This has always seemed particularly strange to me as in my day job I work in a school so you would think that I would want to escape from that setting. The thing is that when a school setting is explored well – and believe me, Ellie Keel has done this very well – it does become escapism…just not in the relaxing way.

The Four is the story of four young scholarship students who have won the educational lottery. They get to attend one of the most elite schools for free. Here they will make friends and rub shoulders with some of the most important people of the future cultivating relationships that they can use as they grow older. What they soon realise though is that they will always be “other” and will not fit in with the wealthy elite and due to this their lives are made increasingly difficult by their peer and their educators. It is sink or swim for these four teenagers but will the drive to succeed come at a deadly cost.

Ellie Keel has done a masterful job of showing how hierarchy and privilege can be so detrimental and hurtful and this is one of the ways in which I feel that Keel has presented the school setting so well. Whilst my school is not an elite academy you still see these social rules even today.

What’s more is that Keel keeps you on the edge of your seat praying for the underdogs to succeed. She really makes you care for these characters. Equally, she shows the reader that where you start off in life doesn’t always have to be your destination.

I was so eager and excited to read The Four. It was one of the books I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint.

The Four by Ellie Keel is available now.

For more information regarding Ellie Keel (@elliekeel1) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Julia

Author: Sandra Newman

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Granta Publications

The Blurb

Julia is a bold feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four that goes beyond Winston Smith’s story to finally reveal what life in Oceania was like for women.

London, chief city of Airstrip One, the third most populous province of Oceania. It’s 1984 and Julia Worthing works as a mechanic fixing the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth. Under the ideology of IngSoc and the rule of the Party and its leader Big Brother, Julia is a model citizen – cheerfully cynical, believing in nothing and caring not at all about politics. She routinely breaks the rules but also collaborates with the regime whenever necessary. Everyone likes Julia. A diligent member of the Junior Anti-Sex League (though she is secretly promiscuous) she knows how to survive in a world of constant surveillance, Thought Police, Newspeak, Doublethink, child spies and the black markets of the prole neighbourhoods. She’s very good at staying alive.

But Julia becomes intrigued by a colleague from the Records Department – a mid-level worker of the Outer Party called Winston Smith – when she sees him locking eyes with a superior from the Inner Party at the Two Minutes Hate. And when one day, finding herself walking toward Winston, she impulsively hands him a note – a potentially suicidal gesture – she comes to realise that she’s losing her grip and can no longer safely navigate her world.

Seventy-five years after Orwell finished writing his iconic novel, Sandra Newman has tackled the world of Big Brother in a truly convincing way, offering a dramatically different, feminist narrative that is true to and stands alongside the original. For the millions of readers who have been brought up with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, here, finally, is a provocative, vital and utterly satisfying companion novel.

The Review 

Often, with memorable works of literature, it is our tertiary characters that have more interesting stories to tell. Julia from 1984 is one of those characters. Sandra Newman has decided to tell this story in her novel Julia. 

Like in 1984, Julie works for the Ministry of Truth and she wears her anti-sex sash but behind the dystopian rules we find out what Julia really thinks and how she is surviving living in this nightmarish society.

Told with a feminist slant, we see how women fare in male dominated societies and it is hard not to draw comparisons to real life. 

I really enjoyed this re-telling and wish more authors would pluck characters from novels and tell their side of things. 

Julia by Sandra Newman is available now. 

For more information regarding Granta Publications (@GrantaBooks) please visit www.granta.com.