Title: What Rosie Was

Author: Rosie Price

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

When Kate Quaile meets Max Rippon in the first week of university, so begins a life-changing friendship.

Over the next four years, the two become inseparable. For him, she breaks her solitude; for her, he leaves his busy circles behind. But knowing Max means knowing his family: the wealthy Rippons, all generosity, social ease, and quiet repression. Theirs is a very different world from Kate’s own upbringing, and yet she finds herself quickly drawn into their gilded lives, and the secrets that lie beneath. Until one evening, at the Rippons home, just after graduation, her life is shattered apart in a bedroom while a party goes on downstairs.

What Red Was is an incisive and mesmerizing novel about power, privilege, and consent—one that fearlessly explores the effects of trauma on the mind and body of a young woman, the tyrannies of memory, the sacrifices involved in staying silent, and the courage in speaking out. And when Kate does, it raises this urgent question: Whose story is it now?

The Review

What Red Was is a really difficult book to read. This is not because the writing is obscure or hard, not is it because of the triggering subject that it deals with (which believe me could be hard for people to read) but for me it is because of the normalcy of people’s behaviour in the book. The triggering act is a sex attack – normally I wouldn’t do spoilers but to discuss the book I think it needs to be mentioned. As I said previously, there is an acceptance to the behaviour of the attacker. This is not a novel full of shock and awe.

However, what I did find really positive about What Red Was is that amidst all of the hurt and pain caused Rosie Price shows how victims can and must move on. How their lives can be shaped by that one act or that it can be used as one part of bigger, wider story. I am in no way trying to diminish what happened to protagonist Katie, what happened to her in the novel is hideous and abhorrent and no amount of writing can justify it. What I will say is that Rosie Price allows you, the reader, to move on much like Katie does.

What Red Was by Rosie Price is available now.

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

 

Title: All the Lives I Want – Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to be Famous Strangers

Author: Alana Massey

Pages: 257 Pages

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

The Blurb

Mixing Didion’s affected cool with moments of giddy celebrity worship, Massey examines the lives of the women who reflect our greatest aspirations and darkest fears back onto us. These essays are personal without being confessional and clever in a way that invites readers into the joke. A cultural critique and a finely wrought fan letter, interwoven with stories that are achingly personal, ALL THE LIVES I WANT is also an exploration of mental illness, the sex industry, and the dangers of loving too hard. But it is, above all, a paean to the celebrities who have shaped a generation of women–from Scarlett Johansson to Amber Rose, Lil’ Kim, Anjelica Huston, Lana Del Rey, Anna Nicole Smith and many more. These reflections aim to reimagine these women’s legacies, and in the process, teach us new ways of forgiving ourselves.

The Review

All the Lives I Want is a collection of essays that celebrates women. It holds a mirror up to society and shows how women are not so subtly pitted against one another or how they are sexualised or how they are forced into submissive roles. It truly is a book to put fire in your belly.

Part memoir/part journalism, Massey’s penned thoughts percolate in the brain giving you food for thought long after you have finished reading.

All the Lives I Want – Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to be Famous Strangers by Alana Massey is available now.

For more information regarding Alana Massey (@AlanaMassey) please visit www.alanakm.com/books/

For more information regarding Grand Central Publishing (@GrandCentralPub) please visit www.grandcentralpublishing.com.

Title: The Bullet

Author: Mary Louise Kelly

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Gallery Books

The Blurb

Two words: The bullet.

That’s all it takes to shatter her life.

Caroline Cashion is beautiful, intelligent, a professor of French literature. But in a split second, everything she’s known is proved to be a lie.

A single bullet, gracefully tapered at one end, is found lodged at the base of her skull. Caroline is stunned. It makes no sense: she has never been shot. She has no entry wound. No scar. Then, over the course of one awful evening, she learns the truth: that she was adopted when she was three years old, after her real parents were murdered. Caroline was there the night they were attacked. She was wounded too, a gunshot to the neck. Surgeons had stitched up the traumatized little girl, with the bullet still there, nestled deep among vital nerves and blood vessels.

That was thirty-four years ago.

Now, Caroline has to find the truth of her past. Why were her parents killed? Why is she still alive? She returns to her hometown where she meets a cop who lets slip that the bullet in her neck is the same bullet that killed her mother. Full-metal jacket, .38 Special. It hit Caroline’s mother and kept going, hurtling through the mother’s chest and into the child hiding behind her.

She is horrified—and in danger. When a gun is fired it leaves markings on the bullet. Tiny grooves, almost as unique as a fingerprint. The bullet in her neck could finger a murderer. A frantic race is set in motion: Can Caroline unravel the clues to her past, before the killer tracks her down?

The Review

The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly is a fast-paced, twisty-turny thriller that has you guessing until the very last moment.

Caroline Cashion has just found out a massive secret; one that will irrevocably change her life. But with this secret comes a feeling of responsibility, a feeling of aching sadness, and a need for justice. And all it took was one little bullet.

Mary Louise Kelly has created a very likeable protagonist in Caroline Cashion. Even though she is dealing with some very heavy and life altering issues she doesn’t come across as whiny or over dramatic which is certainly a way she could have been written, however, you find yourself rooting for the justice that Caroline seeks.

The Bullet is an enjoyable read. Personally, for me, the ending became a little farcical but saying that I am not too sure where else Kelly could have taken the narrative.

Overall it is a well researched, well written and deeply enjoyable story.

The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly is available now.

For more information regarding Mary Louise Kelly (@NPRKelly) please visit www.marylouisekellybooks.com.

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

Title: The Reunion

Author: Guillaume Musso

Pages: 308 Pages

Publisher: Little Brown

The Blurb

An elite prep school frozen in the snow
Three friends linked by a tragic secret
One girl taken by the night
The French Riviera – 25 years ago

One freezing night, as her campus is paralyzed by a snowstorm, 19-year-old Vinca Rockwell, the most beautiful and glamorous girl at her prep school, runs away with her philosophy teacher, with whom she has been conducting a secret affair.

She will never be seen again.

The French Riviera – present day

Once inseparable, Thomas, Maxime, and Fanny—Vinca’s best friends— have not spoken since graduation. But when they receive a notice from their old school, detailing plans for a new gymnasium and inviting them to come to a class reunion, they know they must go back one more time. Because there is a body buried in the gym’s walls…and they’re the ones who put it there.
What really happened that long-ago winter night? Now nothing stands in the way of the truth.
From France’s #1 bestselling author, Guillaume Musso, The Reunion is a taut and suspenseful thriller that will keep readers riveted until its haunting final page.

The Review

I have said it before but I am the perfect person to read murder mysteries. I never guess who the murderer is, I never see the twists coming, and I am the person who can be found making shocked ‘no way’ noises when something major happens.

This was exactly the same with Guillaume Musso’s book The Reunion. It is the story of a secret that has been kept uncovered for 25 years. The story of a murder that took place n high school and one that is threatened to be revealed with the construction of a new building.

Protagonist Thomas hasn’t got long but he must do everything to stop the secrets of the murder he committed being revealed. However, whilst he races against time, those who he holds nearest to him start to get mysteriously attacked and killed.

The Reunion is a fast paced mystery. You really do fly through the book. The short chapters help build the tension and keep the momentum going. I did find a bit of disconnect between myself as a reader and the characters, almost like I was being kept at arm-length. I don’t know whether this was because things were lost in translation (the original novel was written in French) but sometimes I think the old adage of ‘show not tell’ could have been applied.

Either way, The Reunion is a really good read for those who enjoy a good murder mystery.

The Reunion by Guillaume Musso is available now.

For more information regarding Guillaume Musso (@Guillaume_Musso) please visit www.guillaumemusso.com.

For more information regarding Little Brown (@littlebrown) please visit www.littlebrown.com.

Title: Conversations with Friends

Author: Sally Rooney

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa ask each other endless questions. As their relationships unfold, in person and online, they discuss sex and friendship, art and literature, politics and gender, and, of course, one another. Twenty-one-year-old Frances is at the heart of it all, bringing us this tale of a complex ménage-à-quatre and her affair with Nick, an older married man. You can read Conversations with Friends as a romantic comedy, or you can read it as a feminist text. You can read it as a book about infidelity, about the pleasures and difficulties of intimacy, or about how our minds think about our bodies. However you choose to read it, it is an unforgettable novel about the possibility of love.

The Review

I have read Sally Rooney’s writing out of sync. I started with Normal People – which I enjoyed but thought was a bit of a victim of its own hype. I decided to read Conversations with Friends recently and now I think I get it.

Sally Rooney really does have a writing voice that exudes her talent with every single word. She manages to show the awkwardness of relationships – platonic, familial, and sexual. She frustrates you by the things that she doesn’t say and yet makes you feel compelled to read more.

The story of Frances and her relationships with the people around her are tumultuous and confusing. We watch her grow and develop but never quite being on the same level as her counterparts – whether this is due to age, experience, or social class is left for you to determine but you cannot but help root for her. You want things to end well or her even though you are distinctly aware that Conversations with Friends is not that kind of book.

My one issue with Conversations with Friends is the same issue that I had with Normal People. It is the stylistic choice to flout rules about speech marks. I prefer my books to have them. However, if that is the only complaint to find about a book then I guess that it is worthy of the highest praise.

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney is available now.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.