Modern RomanceTitle: Modern Romance

Author: Aziz Ansari

Pages: 253 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

A hilarious, thoughtful, and in-depth exploration of the pleasures and perils of modern romance from one of this generation’s most popular and sharpest comedic voices

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighbourhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analysed behavioural data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humour book we’ve seen before.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humour with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

The Review

Comedian Aziz Ansari takes a anthropological view at romance in the 21st century in his book Modern Romance. He looks at how it has evolved over the last hundred years and how millennials are finding the dating game just so damn hard.

It is almost taboo to admit that you meet someone on the internet. I know a few people who have met their other half via dating apps or swiping right. They have gone on to have lasting relationships and even got married. The problem is that, ironically, it doesn’t seem an organic way to meet someone. The irony is that more modern romancers dating apps are the new organic. It’s not like in the 70s where you had the slow dance part of the evening, or medieval times when a woman would be promised to a man with a dowry and some cattle.

Ansari’s study is really interesting and at times witty. The overall message is that it doesn’t matter how you meet someone as long as they make you feel good then you should pursue the relationship.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari is available now.

For more information regarding Aziz Ansari (@azizansari) please visit www.azizansari.com.

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

3 Stars

Just the Two of UsTitle: Just the Two of Us

Author: Georgie Capron

Pages: 311 Pages

Publisher: Aria

The Blurb

Lucy is the wrong side of thirty and tormented daily by the idyllic family pictures cluttering up her Facebook newsfeed. All of her friends seem to be getting married and having babies, and yet here she is, resolutely single, and no prospect of creating the perfect family she’s always dreamt of.

How she longs for it to be her turn.

But finding love is complicated, and as time passes she wonders if there might just be another way to make her dreams come true. Is she brave enough to go it alone, or is the fantasy of ‘baby makes three’ just too precious to give up on?

Funny, warm, and a story for our time, Just the Two of Us will make you laugh and cry, and remind you never to give up on love.

The Review

You know what? There were some really good elements to Just the Two of Us by Georgie Capron but there were also some elements that were not so pleasant to read.

Let’s start with the story. The story focuses on Lucy, a woman who is in the latter half of her 30s and wondering why she hasn’t got her ducks in a row. She has a job that she loves but she doesn’t have a man or a baby which is something she is desperate to have. The structure of Just the Two of Us is really good. Capron hits you with a few double bluffs and she does, for the most part, keep you on your toes.

Sadly, at times it felt like the story was being over told. Capron didn’t trust the reader enough to create the world in their own head. I personally felt like I was given every detail. It also felt a bit like reading a list. The writer constantly tells us what is happening and why it is happening. It almost felt like the “and then” scenario. A grossly over exaggerated example is they went for coffee and then they went to the bus stop so they could go home when they got off the bus they used their key to open up the door and go inside before climbing the stairs to enter their flat. Ok, that is a hammed up example but it made me wish the writer trusted me more.

However, one of the things that Capron did well was have a book that celebrated the alternative choices for women. She delicately looks at the world of artificial insemination and discusses it from both sides of the spectrum – the horror of the older generation and the positivity of freedom of choice.

As this is Capron’s debut novel I can forgive a few of her writing indiscretions. However, I will be reading her next novel with ever the watchful eye.

Just the Two of Us by Georgie Capron is available now.

For more information regarding Aria (@Aria_Fiction) please visit www.ariafiction.com.

3 Stars

Change is Gonna ComeTitle: A Change is Gonna Come

Author: Various

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

The Blurb

Featuring top Young Adult authors and introducing a host of exciting new voices, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers on the theme of change is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene.

Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla.

Plus introducing four fresh new voices in YA fiction: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy.

The Review

If I am honest, I am not a huge fan of the short story. I like to be lost in a book for 400 pages and be taken on an emotional rollercoaster as I read. However, sometimes a collection of short stories comes along and it has some real gems within its pages. The latest one of these is A Change is Gonna Come.

It is a collection of stories that gives a voice to the voiceless. The topics range from LGBT love, racism and terrorism among others. They are told from a perspective that we wouldn’t necessarily normally encounter.

As a reader I A Change is Gonna Come extremely interesting. As an educator I found it necessary. I will be reading a selection of these stories to my students.

Covering topics such as racism, terrorism and the LGBT community among others

A Change is Gonna Come by Various is available now.

For more information regarding Stripes Publishing (@StripesBooks) please visit www.littletiger.co.uk.

3 Stars

Ok, so I am about to start my epic Harry Potter reread. I haven’t read the books in ten whole years and I have been promising a reread for ages but now I am actually doing it. Yay!

I’m not going to review these bad boy books because there are no words to accurately describe my utter adoration for the Harry Potter series and equally there is no way I can be neutral about them either so instead I will share my thoughts that happened during my reread.

Here goes:

  • Oh my god. I’m so excited but so very nervous. What if they aren’t as good as I remember? I run the risk of ruining my memories from youth.
  • Oh the covers are so pretty. I don’t want to break the spine. I’ll have to buy myself a new set…to add to the second unopened set that I have upstairs and the new covers of the Philosophers Stone and the illustrated edition…maybe I’m a bit obsessed.
  • Twenty years since The Philosopher’s Stone was released. How is that even possible?
  • “Even muggles like yourself should be celebrating.” (P5) I am so sad that I am a muggle.
  • The introduction of Dumbledore. What a wise old man. I always wanted him to be played by Sir Ian McKellan but Richard Harris was pretty brilliant.
  • Dumbledore is an archaic word for bumblebee. Great word.
  • The Put-Outer is a more subtle version of the clapper. I’ve always wanted a clapper.
  • Professor McGonagall was perfectly cast as Maggie Smith. Fact.
  • Dedalus Diggle – I wonder if he ever gets mentioned again.
  • For 11 years Voldemort put fear in the wizarding community – surely there are 11 books here for the writing. Come on JK! Give the people what they want.
  • When Voldemort was all bad ass was Hogwarts running as usual?
  • “All these things he’s done.” (P13) Re point 10. See JK, the story practically writes itself.
  • “There will be books written about Harry – every child in out worlds will know his name.” (P14) How bloody right you were JK.
  • Hagrid – again perfect casting with Robbie Coltrane.
  • I remember on my second reread of Harry Potter and gasping at all of JK’s cleverness with her reference to Sirius Black – well played JK – well played indeed.
  • Harry has a lightning bolt scar on his head. A few years ago I got really sick which left me with a scar on my chin which I kind of like. My illness was really rare and it nearly killed me but it didn’t. I’m the girl who lived through my illness ergo I am Harry Potter.
  • Mrs Figg – utter legend. If only we had known sooner.
  • JK called on of Dudley’s friends Piers and described him as having a “face like a rat” (P25) – is this JK’s hate for Piers Morgan showing 2 years ago? If so then kudos for the foresight JK!
  • There has been a theory bandied around that the snake in the zoo is Nagini. How mad would that be? But then it said in the information box that it was born in captivity so I guess that poo-poo’s that theory.
  • Harry hopes for a distant relative to save him – oh sob!
  • Harry gets his Hogwarts letter. I have never gotten one. I swear I am not a muggle and if that letter arrived tomorrow and at the age of 34 I had to do seven more years of high school just to go to Hogwarts then dammit I would do it. I wonder if there is a wizarding university?
  • Maybe this is why I am obsessed with getting post? Maybe I am just waiting for that damn Hogwarts acceptance letter.
  • For Harry’s 10th birthday he was given “a coat hanger and a pair of Uncle Vernon’s old socks” – technically Harry is a free wizard now.
  • Is Petunia a non magical magic person? Is she a squib? Or do you have to show no magical talent in a magical family to be a squib?
  • What happened to Harry’s grandparents?
  • “Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die.” (P62) Good god the clues were everywhere.
  • New mention Doris Crockford. Will she get mentioned again? Dammit how does JK keep all of these people in check?
  • I always imagined Diagon Alley to be the most amazing place. Random segue but I am engaged to be married and since I’m not your typical bride I will not be going to watch half naked men shake their tushes or out drinking. No folks I am going to the Harry Potter Studios because then I will feel like I am a wizard. I think it is the closest I will get to being a wizard. Sob!
  • Harry is in Gringotts. The stalagmite/stalactite line has always been one of my favourites from the entire series of books. Even now I still don’t know the difference. I do think that he ride that Harry goes on to get to his vault would make a boss ride. I wonder if they included it in Harry Potter World? Googles it – apparently yes.
  • I like trains. I went to Platform Nine and 3 Quarters but the queue was massive and I was like the oldest person there. I will go again one day and get my picture take and I will do it with aplomb.
  • It’s a shame that Peeves wasn’t in the films. Rik Mayall would have played him brilliantly.
  • Snape was a right nasty sod towards Harry that first Potions lesson. I work in a high school – that form of bullying wouldn’t be tolerated. Believe you me!
  • I’d be crap on a broom. I definitely wouldn’t be on the Quidditch team. Not even the reserves.
  • Halloween sounds magical at Hogwarts…well you know except for the troll.
  • I always loved Oliver Wood’s inspirational pre-Quidditch match speeches. Sean Biggerstaff who played him in the films was quite a fittie. Wonder what he is doing right now? Googles Sean Biggerstaff. He has actually been in a fair few productions. Sadly, I have seen none of them. Ah bygones.
  • The Mirror of Erised chapter is just heartbreaking. Poor Harry.
  • Dammit Harry! Look at your chocolate frog cards. That is where you heard about Nicholas Flamel.
  • Oh man, what I wouldn’t do to have an invisibility cloak. Ok I know what I would do. I would hide under it and just read books all day. No one would be able to find me. Moo hoo haa haa!
  • Dumbledore is right. You can never have too many socks. (P230)
  • Seriously, I have never wanted to be in someone’s mind as much as JK Rowling’s. She gives hints about things that won’t happen for several books. This is totally the Back to the Future Hypothesis. Without a doubt, JK Rowling is a genius.
  • Ron really does have some great one-liners.
  • Of all the pets I’ve ever wanted a dragon has never been on the list. A dinosaur has been but never a dragon.
  • “It is a monstrous thing, to slay a unicorn.” (P277) Well said Firenze!
  • See you can understand why Harry reckons Snape hates him. He threatened to get him expelled.
  • Poor Neville. Little did us readers know how big a part he would play in the overall story.
  • I’m terrified of dogs. This all stems from an incident as a child when a greyhound stalked by whole family. One day my older sister sent me to the shop because Smash Hits! magazine was giving away 100 free stickers. I saw the greyhound ahead of me so I decided to cross the road. The greyhound followed me. So I crossed back and the grey hound followed me. I decided I just needed to be brave and walk past it and as I did the damn dog bit my leg. It didn’t break the skin but when I ran home my sister was more concerned about not having her smash hits. What was worse was that after the dog had bit me it walked away an I swear it was laughing like Dick Dastardly’s dog Muttley off Wacky Races. Now this dog only had one head. If I came across a three headed dog I am pretty sure I would pee my pants. Harry, Ron and Hermione are way braver than me.
  • Quirrell man. What a bitch.
  • Why couldn’t Quirrell touch Harry without burning in pain?
  • Was Voldemeort/Quirrell a horcrux. I forget. I hope I find out in the rest of the story. See this is why a reread is needed.
  • Ah the Quirrell touch question has been answered. Mother’s love.
  • And it is over. I feel pleasantly full. I don’t have a book hangover just book fulfilment. Like when you eat the right amount at a meal without overdoing it and needing your stretchy pants.

Now on to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secreets. Dum dum de dum dum dummm dum.

MY Life on the RoadTitle: My Life on the Road

Author: Gloria Steinem

Pages: 276 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

Gloria Steinem—writer, activist, organizer, and one of the most inspiring leaders in the world—now tells a story she has never told before, a candid account of how her early years led her to live an on-the-road kind of life, traveling, listening to people, learning, and creating change. She reveals the story of her own growth in tandem with the growth of an ongoing movement for equality. This is the story at the heart of My Life on the Road.

The Review

Ok, I’ll admit it. I wanted to read this book because Emma Watson recommended it.

I’m so very glad that I am a victim of pop culture. Steinem’s memoir, My Life on the Road chronicles various points in her life. She takes you on a journey, her journey, and reveals all the wonderful, amazing and sometimes heartbreaking things and people that she encounters.

With her uncompromising beliefs and tenacity you finish reading My Life on the Road desperate to get out there. Out there in the big wide world and have a life changing adventure and to just do a little bit of good.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem is available now.

For more information regarding Gloria Steinem (@GloriaSteinem) please visit www.gloriastinem.com.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.

4 Stars