Salt to the SeaTitle: Salt to the Sea

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Pages: 393 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s/Puffin

The Blurb

It’s early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories. Fans of The Book Thief or Helen Dunmore’s The Siege will be totally absorbed. This inspirational novel is based on a true story from the Second World War. When the German ship the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk in port in early 1945 it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board. Nearly all were drowned. Ruta Sepetys, acclaimed author of Between Shades of Grey, brilliantly imagines their story.

The Review

Salt tothe Sea by Ruta Sepetys broke my heart.

This is a bold statement to make but there are few books that have made me emote in the same way. It is a fictional account of the real life events that happened during the Second World War. It is a story of how people of different nationalities – most of who were opposed to each other due to their countries government ruling – come together in times of adversity.

Sepetys explores the frailty of life and the spirit of human nature in Salt to the Sea. At times I had to remind myself to breathe because the story had me gripped. It truly is an astounding novel and a very real contender for this year’s Carnegie Greenaway award for which Salt to the Sea has been nominated.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is available now.

For more information regarding Ruta Sepetys (@RutaSepetys) please visit www.rutasepetys.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House UK Children’s (@RHKidsUK) please visit www.randomhousechildrens.co.uk.

For more information regarding Puffin Books (@PuffinBooks) please visit www.puffin.co.uk.

For more information regarding The CILIP Awards (@CILIPCKG) please visit www.ckg.org.uk.

5 Stars

A Book for HerTitle: A Book for Her

Author: Bridget Christie

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK/Cornerstone

The Blurb

Bridget Christie is a stand-up comedian, idiot and feminist. On the 30th of April 2012, a man farted in the Women’s Studies Section of a bookshop and it changed her life forever.

A Book For Her details Christie’s twelve years of anonymous toil in the bowels of stand-up comedy and the sudden epiphany that made her, unbelievably, one of the most critically acclaimed British stand-up comedians this decade, drawing together the threads that link a smelly smell in the women’s studies section to the global feminist struggle.

Find out how nice Peter Stringfellow’s fish tastes, how yoghurt advertising perpetuates rape myths, and how Emily Bronte used a special ladies’ pen to write Wuthering Heights.

If you’re interested in comedy and feminism, then this is definitely the book for you. If you hate both then I’d probably give it a miss.

The Review

I love reading books by feminists and I find that I become a bit of an armchair feminist whenever I read them. In particular, I like feminist books that use humour juxtaposed with the very real debates over feminist rights.

That is why I really enjoyed Bridget Christie’s A Book for Her. In the book, Christie discusses serious topics such as Female Genital Mutilation and Rape Culture. She also discusses farts. This silly balance made A Book for Her such a delightful tonic.

If you enjoy reading A Book for Her then you should also check out her stand up performances.

A Book for Her by Bridget Christie is available now.

For more information regarding Bridget Christie (@BridgetChristie) please visit www.bridgetchristie.co.uk.

For more information regarding Random House UK (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

35 Stars

The Lesser BohemiansTitle: The Lesser Bohemians

Author: Eimear McBride

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Crown Publishing/Hogarth

The Blurb

The captivating, daring new novel from Eimear McBride, whose astonishing debut novel, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, was an international literary phenomenon and earned the author multiple awards and recognition.

Upon arrival in London, an eighteen-year-old Irish girl begins anew as a drama student, with all the hopes of any young actress searching for the fame she’s always dreamed of. She struggles to fit in — she’s young and unexotic; a naive new girl — but soon she forges friendships and finds a place for herself in the big city.

Then she meets an attractive older man. He’s an established actor twenty years her senior, and the inevitable, clamorous relationship that ensues is one that will change her forever.

A redemptive, captivating story of passion and innocence set across the bedsits of mid-nineties London, McBride holds new love under her fierce gaze, giving us all a chance to remember what it’s like to fall hard for another.

The Review

When I first started reading The Lesser Bohemians I didn’t like it. Even as an avid reader, I have never come across this writing style before and I won’t lie to you it got me cross. There were unfinished sentences and thoughts and I will admit I just thought that Eimear McBride was writing in this style to be artsy and different. I found it to be a pretentious style of writing. However, my mama didn’t raise no quitter so I persevered and I am awfully glad that I did.

The overall story is really good. The relationship between the two main characters is developed nicely over time and you can feel the struggles of this bourgeoning relationship because of the age different and life experiences.

Therefore, I liked the story as a whole but the writing style is just not my cup of tea.

The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride is available now.

For more information regarding Eimear McBride please visit www.eimearmcbride.com.

For more information regarding Crown Publishing (@CrownPublishing) please visit www.CrownPublishing.com.

For more information regarding Hogarth Books (@HogarthBooks_UK) please visit www.vintage-books.co.uk.

3 Stars

The Undertaker's DaughterTitle: The Undertaker’s Daughter

Author: Kate Mayfield

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Gallery/Threshold

The Blurb

What if the place you called “home” happened to be a funeral home? Kate Mayfield explores what it meant to be the daughter of a small-town undertaker in this fascinating memoir evocative of Six Feet Under and The Help, with a hint of Mary Roach’s Stiff.

The first time I touched a dead person, I was too short to reach into the casket, so my father picked me up and I leaned in for that first, empty, cold touch. It was thrilling, because it was an unthinkable act.

After Kate Mayfield was born, she was taken directly to a funeral home. Her father was an undertaker, and for thirteen years the family resided in a place nearly synonymous with death. A place where the living and the dead entered their house like a vapor. The place where Kate would spend the entirety of her childhood. In a memoir that reads like a Harper Lee novel, Mayfield draws the reader into a world of Southern mystique and ghosts.

Kate’s father set up shop in a small town where he was one of two white morticians during the turbulent 1960s. Jubilee, Kentucky, was a segregated, god-fearing community where no one kept secrets—except the ones they were buried with. By opening a funeral home, Kate’s father also opened the door to family feuds, fetishes, and victims of accidents, murder, and suicide. The family saw it all. They also saw the quiet ruin of Kate’s father, who hid alcoholism and infidelity behind a cool, charismatic exterior. As Mayfield grows from trusting child to rebellious teen, she begins to find the enforced hush of the funeral home oppressive, and longs for the day she can escape the confines of her small town.

In The Undertaker’s Daughter, Kate has written a triumph of a memoir. This vivid and stranger-than-fiction true story ultimately teaches us how living in a house of death can prepare one for life.

The Review

I genuinely do not know what to make of The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield. I’m torn between two emotions. One, if you imagine that it is a fictional story it is quite palatable in its unassuming nature. It is a quiet novel that reveals what life is like during a certain time and place and how social changes are juxtaposed with the death surrounding the undertaker’s home. However, knowing that it is a memoir and that the above observations still count the more pressing question comes to my mind – who actually needs to read this?

That sounds terribly unfair and this is not a question of whether or not The Undertaker’s Daughter is well written – it is. It is just that as a reader I don’t know Kate Mayfield to want to read about her life. Gosh, that sounds awfully cruel but it is the truth. If The Undertaker’s Daughter was a fictional text I would have enjoyed it a bit more. Knowing that it is a memoir of someone that I don’t know just makes me wonder why I would be reading it.

The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield is available now.

For more information regarding Kate Mayfield (@KateMayfield) please visit www.katemayfield.com.

For more information regarding Gallery (@GalleryBooks) please visit www.instagram.com/gallerybooks.

3 Stars

The Finding of Martha LostTitle: The Finding of Martha Lost

Author: Caroline Wallace

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK/Transworld Publishers/Doubleday

The Blurb

Martha is lost.

She’s been lost since she was a baby, abandoned in a suitcase on the train from Paris. Ever since, she’s waited in station lost property for someone to claim her. It’s been sixteen years, but she’s still hopeful.

In the meantime, there are mysteries to solve: secret tunnels under the station, a suitcase that may have belonged to the Beatles, the roman soldier who appears at the same time every day with his packed lunch. Not to mention the stuffed monkey that someone keeps misplacing.

But there is one mystery Martha cannot solve. And now the authorities have found out about the girl in lost property. Time is running out – if Martha can’t discover who she really is, she will lose everything…

The Review

The Finding of Martha Lost is the most charming book that I have in a very long time. There, I’ve said it. It is absolutely gorgeous, unusual and inspired.

Martha Lost is a young girl who lives in Liverpool Lime Street Station. She has grown up believing that she is the Liver Bird of Lime Street and as the legend goes if the Liver Birds fly away from Liverpool then the city will cease to exist. Martha has believed the same about herself and Lime Street since she was a child and she struggles to separate the legend from the reality.

The Finding of Martha Lost is a story of discovery. It is about discovering who you are and how you came to be. It is a wonderfully charismatic story with memorable characters and is different from anything I have ever read before.

On a personal level, I found The Finding of Martha Lost interesting because it is set in Liverpool, the place that I was born, grew up and still reside to this day. I loved how Wallace’s love for the city shines through the writing and she hasn’t glamorised Liverpool to make it shiny and attractive. She has used its original features and the city’s greatness shines through.

I will definitely be reading more of Caroline Wallace’s work.

The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace is available now.

For more information regarding Caroline Wallace (@Caroline_S) please visit www.carolinesmailes.co.uk.

For more information regarding Random House UK (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

For more information regarding Transworld Publishers (@TransworldBooks) and Doubleday Books (@DoubledayUK) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

4 Stars