Title: Last Lesson

Author: James Goodhand

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Blurb

Last year, Ollie Morcombe was a star pupil, popular and a gifted musician.

Then, after the accident, everything changed. Now he’s an outcast, a prime target of the school bullies who have made his life a living hell.

Today – the last day of the school year – he’s brought those bullies a gift. A homemade pipe bomb.

What has driven a model student to plan an unspeakable revenge? And with the clock ticking down to home time, what can anybody do to stop him?

The Review

Last Lesson focuses on Ollie who has been through some massive change in the past 12 months and they have had a profound effect on him and how he is handling life. For Ollie, he can only see one option. To get revenge on the people that have been making his life hell. He plans to kill them all in their last lesson of high school.

What a complex topic wrapped in a really readable novel. James Goodhand has looked at many complicated issues within his novel Last Lesson. He looks at the hierarchy within the school system, he looks at grief and he looks at mental health.

I think what Goodhand has done well with Last Lesson is to look at the complexities of mental health and its correlation with extremism. He has handled it sensitively and without pushing blame or agenda other than trying to help you spot the signs.

It seems strange to say I enjoyed this novel because I shouldn’t have enjoyed a novel which has such a sad message but it is hard not to like it. Goodhand is a great writer who engages you in the story and really makes you care for the characters. It will be interesting to see what he writes next.

Last Lesson by James Goodhand is available now.

For more information regarding James Goodhand (@goodhand_james) please visit his Twitter page.

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

Title: A Good Neighbourhood

Author: Therese Anne Fowler

Pages: 311 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

In Oak Knoll, a tight-knit North Carolina neighbourhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door – an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenage daughter. With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds over an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard. But as they fight, they fail to notice that there is a romance blossoming between their two teenagers. A romance that will challenge the carefully constructed concepts of class and race in this small community. A romance that might cause everything to shatter…

The Review

A Good Neighbourhood is a bold novel about disguised racism in a small town in North Carolina.

It centres on two neighbouring families: The Aston Holt’s – Valerie and her son Xavier and The Whitman’s – local businessman Brad, his wife Julia and their two daughters. Xavier and eldest daughter Juniper have started to have feelings for each other but by embarking on a relationship they are crossing the divide of class, politics and race.

Fowler has taken a risk with this A Good Neighbourhood. Often authors are criticised for writing outside of the boundaries of ‘what they know’ – Fowler, as a white woman –  cannot fully understand racism because racism is so internal and institutionalised therefore her writing cannot be ‘real’. However, to not write about racism is worse. It is almost to ignore it and disregard it as a topic because it doesn’t directly affect her. As you can see, writers are often in a no win situation.

I think Fowler handled the subject of racial division in a very sensitive manner. She shows just how internalised and institutionalised it can be and shows how much of a problem it is especially in specific states in America. We know it is a problem but when it is highlighted – by someone of whatever race – it is surely a good thing if it helps raise awareness and will hopefully – one day  insight change.

A Good Neighbourhood by Therese Anne Fowler is available now.

For more information regarding Therese Anne Fowler (@ThereseFowler) please visit www.thereseannefowler.com.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Super Chill – A Year of Living Anxiously

Author: Adam Ellis

Pages: 120 Pages

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

The Blurb

From former Buzzfeed illustrator Adam Ellis comes a collection of autobiographical comics that follows a year in the artist’s life.

Adam’s comics deal with weightier topics like seasonal affective disorder and struggles with self-esteem, while also touching on the silly and absurd—like his brief, but intense obsession with crystals. With a bright, positive outlook and a sense of humor, Super Chill tells a story that is both highly relatable and intensely personal.

The Review

Anxiety is such a personal thing. It is getting more and more media attention but there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the subject. Adam Ellis’ book Super Chill shows how anxiety affects him. What is brilliant about this small collection of cartons is that it helps you see visual representations of how anxiety and mental health and alls you to not only empathise with a personas situation but make you realise how you really aren’t alone in feeling the way you feel.

Ellis presents his anxiety in many ways. Sometimes it is all consuming and other times he focuses on how ridiculous it is. Overall, Super Chill is a sweet book that reminds us all that we are not alone.

Super Chill – A Year of Living Anxiously by Adam Ellis is available now.

For more information regarding Adam Ellis (@moby_dickhead) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Andrews McMeel Publishing (@andrewsmcmeel) please visit www.andrewsmcmeel.com.

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.