Title: How it Was

Author: Janet Ellis

Pages: 427 Pages

Publisher: John Murray Press/Two Roads

The Blurb

Marion Deacon sits by the hospital bed of her dying husband, Michael. Outwardly she is, as she says, an unremarkable old woman. She has long concealed her history – and her feelings – from the casual observer. But as she sits by Michael’s bed, she’s haunted by memories from almost forty years ago…

Marion Deacon is a wife and mother, and not particularly good at being either. It’s the 1970s and in her small village the Swinging 60s, the wave of feminism, the prospect of an exciting life, have all swerved past her. Reading her teenage daughter’s diary, it seems that Sarah is on the threshold of getting everything her mother Marion was denied, and Marion cannot bear it – what she does next has terrible and heart-breaking consequences for the whole family.

The Review

After finishing How It Was by Janet Ellis I was left feeling conflicted. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling and then it hit me. I was unsatisfied. Not by the novel, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading How It Was but Janet Ellis has brilliantly managed to make her reader feel the same sense of ennui that her protagonist feels.

Ellis perfectly balances displaying the humdrum but also making you feel the desire that Marion Deacon feels for a different life. The novels languorous pace highlights the stifled feelings of our protagonist who takes any kind of excitement where she can and her lack of appreciation for the things that she has.

How It Was isn’t a frenetic novel.  You keep pace with the mundane existence of the characters everyday lives which allows you to feel things as they happen. It is a novel that shows the consequences of wanting for more or thinking that the grass is always greener. It is almost a warning of be careful what you wish for.

How it Was by Janet Ellis is available now.

For more information regarding Janet Ellis (@missjanetellis) please visit http://janetellis.com.

For more information regarding John Murray Press (@johnmurrays) please visit www.johnmurraypress.co.uk.

For more information regarding Two Roads (@TwoRoadsBooks) please visit www.tworoadsbooks.com.

Title: Clap When You Land

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Hot Key Books/Bonnier Zaffre

The Blurb

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance – and Papi’s secrets – the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

The Review

I can only imagine that the worst possible thing that could happen to a child is to lose a parent. But imagine losing a parent and with that death learning that they had a whole secret life and that indeed you have another sibling that you knew nothing about. This is the case for Camino and Yahaira. Both learn of each other’s existence when their father dies in a plane crash.

In Elizabeth Acevedo’s new poetry based novel Clap When You Land we look at the bourgeoning relationship between the two sisters as they came to terms with their grief and with each other’s existence. Beside this, Acevedo gives us an insight into the two different worlds: New York – privileged America versus the more dangerous Dominican Republic.

Acevedo really works hard to show this disparity between these two worlds and in the lives of these two girls but also manages to show the reader that even in difficult situations that blood is thicker than water.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo is available now.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Acevedo (@Acevedowrites) please visit www.acevedowrites.com.

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

For more information regarding Hot Key Books (@HotKeyBooksYA) please visit www.hotkeybooks.com.

Title: Let Me Tell You This

Author: Nadine Aisha Jassat

Pages: 144 Pages

Publisher: 404 Ink

The Blurb

The electrifying debut collection from a powerful new voice in UK poetry. Shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2018. Let Me Tell You This is a vital exploration of racism, gender-based violence, and the sustaining, restorative bonds between women, told with searing precision and intelligent lyricism. Nadine takes you on a journey exploring heritage, connection, and speaking out. These poems demonstrate the power of heart and voice, and will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.


The Review

I have been reading more and more poetry over the past year and I have found that I am enjoying it more than ever before.

Let Me Tell You This is the deeply personal collection about the struggle with feeling displaced due to cultural heritage being at odds with British roots. Jassat highlights the ignorance of others and also the privilege f believing that people can say and do anything without consequence and repercussion. It is a study in white privilege.

Jassat bookmarks this by looking at her role as a woman in society and the look at sexism in society. It is her honest study which makes this book a very powerful collection of poems.

Let Me Tell You This by Nadine Aisha Jassat is available now.

For more information regarding Nadine Aisha Jassat (@nadineaishaj) please visit www.nadineaishaj.com.

For more information regarding 404 Ink (@404ink) please visit www.404ink.com.

Title: My Dark Vanessa

Author: Kate Elizabeth Russell

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

The Blurb

Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age.

The Review

It is rare that I will come across a book that makes me feel so deeply uncomfortable but My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell has done just that.

It is the story of Vanessa Wye. We follow her through different periods of her life. Mainly her formative teen years and post high school into adulthood. The story centres on one major event that happens to her as a teenager and how it has had a profound impact on her life thereafter.

At the age of fifteen, Vanessa embarked on a relationship with her English teacher.

Now as an audience we know that this is wrong. It is legally and morally wrong which puts us in the position of feeling that Vanessa has been violated. However, Vanessa doesn’t see it like that. Even as an adult she maintains that nothing was wrong.

This is where our moral dilemma comes in. If we trust our narrator then surely we trust her judgement on this situation. You want to believe in your narrator but your head is battling with what you know is wrong and what you know is right.

My Dark Vanessa is a powerful story but be prepared for it to make you feel uncomfortable.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell is available now.

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

Title: The Love Hypothesis

Author: Laura Steven

Pages: 297 Pages

Publisher: Electric Monkey/Egmont Publishing

The Blurb

An LGBT romantic comedy with a twist from the Comedy Women in Print prize winner Laura Steven, author of The Exact Opposite of Okay. A hilarious love story with bite, for fans of Sex Education, Booksmart, Becky Albertalli’s Love, Simon and Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Physics genius Caro Kerber-Murphy knows she’s smart. With straight As and a college scholarship already in the bag, she’s meeting her two dads’ colossal expectations and then some. But there’s one test she’s never quite been able to ace: love. And when, in a particularly desperate moment, Caro discovers a (definitely questionable) scientific breakthrough that promises to make you irresistible to everyone around you, she wonders if this could be the key.

What happens next will change everything Caro thought she knew about chemistry – in the lab and in love. Is hot guy Haruki with her of his own free will? Are her feelings for her best friend Keiko some sort of side-effect? Will her dog, Sirius, ever stop humping her leg?

The Review

So in high school I was pretty nerdy. I didn’t mind and to be fair people didn’t make anything of it. It was at a time when being nerdy wasn’t considered the cook cache that it is nowadays. I worked in the library, I was slightly chubby and I had flaming red hair. I was – what some people would ironically call – a catch. The reason I am giving you this potted history is because if I had been told during my formative years that  I could take a pill that would make people be attracted to me then hell yes I would have done it. No questions asked.

This is the same for protagonist Caro Kerber-Murphy. She doesn’t feel like she compares to her two best friends who are interesting and beautiful. She fails to get noticed. If she were a colour it would be beige. Ecru at a push. When she finds an advert for a medically approved drug that can make people fall in love with you she jumps on it. Little does she realise that the consequences can be quite damaging.

I really enjoyed reading about Caro and her friends. I loved the inner turmoil that she goes through and how she really just wants to be noticed. I love how Steven used her back story to justify the way she was feeling without ramming it down the reader’s throats. Steven has shown in The Love Hypothesis and in her previous books how she trusts her readers to be able to understand things without spelling them out. As a reader, I appreciate that.

The Love Hypothesis also makes you remember just what falling in love for the first time feels like. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read and one that you can finish in one sitting.

The Love Hypothesis by Laura Steven is available now.

For more information regarding Laura Steven (@LauraSteven) please visit www.laura-steven.com.

For more information regarding Electric Monkey (@EMTeenFiction) please visit www.egmont.co.uk.

For more information regarding Egmont Publishing (@EgmontUK) please visit www.egmont.co.uk.