Title: Wundersmith

Author: Jessica Townsend

Pages: 404 Pages

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group

The Blurb

Return to the magical world of Nevermoor, where Morrigan Crow’s adventures continue.

‘An extraordinary story full of magics great and small’ Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of THE GIRL OF INK AND STARS

Morrigan may have defeated her deadly curse, passed the dangerous trials and joined the mystical Wundrous Society, but her journey into Nevermoor and all its secrets has only just begun. And it’s important to remember that not all magic is used for good . . .

Perfect for fans of the Harry Potter series and His Dark Materials, this series takes readers into an extraordinary world, setting hope and imagination alive.

The Review

When I first read Nevermoor it completely blew my mind. Here it was. That new series that I had been waiting for. A fantasy book that didn’t leave me feeling disappointed or a bit flat. I wanted a one way ticket to Nevermoor.

And then Wundersmith was announced and I was in my applecart of happiness. I pre-ordered my copy and I waiting patiently by the letterbox on release day and then it was delivered. Hurrah.

And then I put it on my bookshelf and forgot to read it. 

I know. I am a terrible person. 

However, with the release of the third book in the series Hollowpox happening imminently I decided to grab Wundersmith and get lost in the wonderful world of Nevermoor once again.

In Wundersmith we see Morrigan beginning to grow up. She has started attending the Wundrous Society and has to deal with the everyday problems of being a kid and people being mean but also with the deathly blackmail that is being sent to her friends. They have to decide whether they will keep Morrigan’s secret even if it comes at a cost.

I really enjoyed Wundersmith. Morrigan has to learn to stand on her own two feet. Jupiter – her mentor – is otherwise engaged with serious Nevermoor situations and hasn’t got time for what Morrigan believes to be school girl problems. She has to toughen up. 

Whilst she is toughening up we still see her vulnerability and her need to feel included. It is her vulnerability that makes her so likeable. 

Townsend also uses Wundersmith to reveal more and more of this magical world she has created and the more you learn about it the more you wish you were a character in the novel.

Whilst I probably enjoyed Nevermoor more than Wundersmith I can say that Townsend has kept the magic alive with her second descent into this fictional world and it has made me even more keen to read Hollowpox. 

Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend is available now.

For more information regarding Jessica Townsend (@digressica) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Hachette Children’s Group (@HachetteKids) please visit www.hachettechildrens.co.uk.

Title: Noughts and Crosses

Author: Malorie Blackman

Pages: 479 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Two young people are forced to make a stand in this thought-provoking look at racism and prejudice in an alternate society.

Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought — a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. Against a background of prejudice and distrust, intensely highlighted by violent terrorist activity, a romance builds between Sephy and Callum — a romance that is to lead both of them into terrible danger. Can they possibly find a way to be together? 

The Review

I work in a high school library. I have walked past the B shelf a hundred thousand times (probably more) and yet I never picked up Noughts and Crosses. I had read other books by Malorie Blackman and really enjoyed them – Pig-Heart Boy has stuck with me since reading it – yet I just never picked up the book that she is probably best known for. How stupid am I?

A year 9 class that I work with are reading Noughts and Crosses as their set text this year and I wanted to get a head start on it. Only, I couldn’t put it down. I soared through it, barely stopping to eat and drink. Blackman had me on the edge of my seat, my heart was constantly in my throat, I cried, I yelled, I lost the ability to breathe. That is how powerful a writer Blackman is. I have never known a writer to build tension the way she does and man alive she got my heart racing.

Noughts and Crosses is sensational. There are so many amazing ways I could describe it but I would come across as hyperbolic and insincere. The only thing I can say with absolute certainty is that you must read it. It is as relevant know (if not more so) than when it was originally released. 

It should be a crime that a book that has racism as a central theme can be so relevant 20 years after its initial release. Hopefully, stories like Callum’s and Sephy’s can have an impact on today’s youth and make positive changes for the future.

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman is available now.

For more information regarding Malorie Blackman (@malorieblackman) please visit www.malorieblackman.co.uk.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Back to Amy

Author: Charles Moriarty

Pages: 224 Pages

Publisher: Cassell

The Blurb

Breathtaking photographs of Amy Winehouse on the cusp of fame, including many never-before-seen images

Rare, open and honest, this collection of nearly100 photographs by Charles Moriarty shows Amy Winehouse as you’ve never seen her before.

Consisting of two shoots spread across London and New York in the lead-up to the release of her debut album Frank, these beautiful images capture a sense of fun, mischief and style, giving an early glimpse of a star in the making. The collection includes many photographs that have never been seen before.

With a foreword by Asif Kapadia, Academy Award-winning director of the documentary Amy, and containing contributions from people close to Amy during her career, this book is a celebration of the enduring spirit of a truly special artist.

The Review

The story of Amy Winehouse’s meteoric rise to fame and indeed the crash and burn that led to the death of on of the most talented singer/songwriters of my generation. 

What is beautiful about Back to Amy is that we get to see Amy before she was ravaged by her demons. You get the impression that Moriarty struggled with releasing this book. He seemed torn between showing Amy at her cleanest and how he wants her to be remembered against selling his memories. Personally, I am glad that we got to see these pictures and got to hear about Amy from people in her life who got to see the best side of her.

Back to Amy is a beautiful book and a lovely celebration of her short life. 

Back to Amy by Charles Moriarty is available now.

For more information regarding Charles Moriarty (@charlesmoriarty) please visit his Twitter page.

Title: More than a Woman

Author: Caitlin Moran

Pages: 277 Pages

Publisher: Ebury Press

The Blurb

The author of the international bestseller How to Be a Woman returns with another “hilarious neo-feminist manifesto” (NPR) in which she reflects on parenting, middle-age, marriage, existential crises—and, of course, feminism.

A decade ago, Caitlin Moran burst onto the scene with her instant bestseller, How to Be a Woman, a hilarious and resonant take on feminism, the patriarchy, and all things womanhood. Moran’s seminal book followed her from her terrible 13th birthday through adolescence, the workplace, strip-clubs, love, and beyond—and is considered the inaugural work of the irreverent confessional feminist memoir genre that continues to occupy a major place in the cultural landscape.

Since that publication, it’s been a glorious ten years for young women: Barack Obama loves Fleabag, and Dior make “FEMINIST” t-shirts. However, middle-aged women still have some nagging, unanswered questions: Can feminists have Botox? Why isn’t there such a thing as “Mum Bod”? Why do hangovers suddenly hurt so much? Is the camel-toe the new erogenous zone? Why do all your clothes suddenly hate you? Has feminism gone too far? Will your To Do List ever end? And WHO’S LOOKING AFTER THE CHILDREN?

As timely as it is hysterically funny, this memoir/manifesto will have readers laughing out loud, blinking back tears, and redefining their views on feminism and the patriarchy. More Than a Woman is a brutally honest, scathingly funny, and absolutely necessary take on the life of the modern woman—and one that only Caitlin Moran can provide. 

The Review

I am a little bit in love with Caitlin Moran. Okay, this is an understatement. I love her that much that I know the my gentleman friend would understand if I left him for her (please don’t ask me to). I truly believe that she is my patronus and that one day if evil should befall me and I should call on her that she would be by my side, fag in hand, sarcastic comment at the ready. That is just how much I love her. In my eyes, she can do no wrong. For that reason alone I knew I would love More than a Woman. Fortunately for Caitlin Moran, her writing warrants that love.

In More than a Woman we see the more grown up Caitlin Moran. She has changed in the past 10 years since How to be a Woman was released. Her opinions have changed, her lifestyle has changed, many things are different now but what is great about Caitlin Moran is that she is willing to accept change, admit that she has changed her mind and still own it. She is an example to us all.

Some of the later chapters did leave me feeling broken and there is a sadness that maybe isn’t seen as much in her earlier works. It makes you want to wrap her up in a great big hug and tell her that it will all be okay. 

I really loved More than a Woman and I think Caitlin Moran is consistently brave with her writing. It is for that reason that I believe people love and believe in her.

More than a Woman by Caitlin Moran is available now.

For more information regarding Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) please visit www.caitlinmoran.co.uk.

For more information regarding Ebury Press (@EburyPublishing) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Ghosts

Author: Dolly Alderton

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.

A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.

Dolly Alderton’s debut novel is funny and tender, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships, family, memory, and how we live now.

The Review

I’m just going to say it. I LOVED GHOSTS.

Now with that out of the way let me tell you why. Ghosts by Dolly Alderton is a story of modern dating. The trials and tribulations, the changes that have taken place over the past few years, the advancement of online dating. But it is also much more than that. It is a story of changing relationships – how life can come between even the best friends. It is the developing and every changing story of family dynamics. But, again, it is much more than that. It is a story of independence.

It was so multilayered and all in 336 pages.

The novel went from happy to sad back to happy in warp speed. You are really taken on a journey with protagonist Nina Dean. For me, the most heartwarming and heartbreaking moments were the scenes with her father. The love and respect that she has for him seemed to be paralleled in the desire to find a partner who lived up to his standard.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton was such a joy to read. It is one of my favourite reads of 2020 and I cannot wait to see what Alderton produces next.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton is available now.

For more information regarding Dolly Alderton (@dollyalderton) please visit linkt.ree/dollyalderton.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.