Genre: Literary Fiction

The Gist: When an eighties one hit wonder pop star commits suicide the people in her life reflect on their time with her and try to figure out what part they may have played in her demise.

Short Review: A piece of political literary fiction that is balanced with a story of music, relationships and trying to make the world a better place.

Long Review: Scabby Queen is a really hard, gritty story set in London and Scotland over a period of 40 years. It is told from multi-perspective from the people who knew Clio Campbell – the one hit wonder and political activist. Clio Campbell has committed suicide and those that saw her at her best and at her worst reminisce about the times she influenced their own lives. 

Kirstin Innes has created a wonderfully unlikable character in Clio Campbell. She really is awful. Yet you cannot feel sorry for her. She is a product of her environment and the situations that she has been involved in, the relationships she has had – especially the ones she had in her formative years with her parents. 

I won’t lie to you, Scabby Queen is not an easy read. You want to love Clio but she makes it really difficult and you will spend a lot of your time yelling at the other characters to realise how toxic she is but it really is a good read.

Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes is available now.

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

Genre: Autobiography

Gist: An autobiography centred around Sofie Hagen’s battle with other people’s opinions about her weight.

Small Review: Sofia Hagen’s memoir is a funny memoir that gets people thinking about how the world is created for ‘skinny’ people and how those of a certain size are not catered for and how the assumption that if you are bigger you are unhappy rather than thinking that their is just more to love.

Long Review: I won’t lie to you. Before reading Happy Fat I had never heard of Sofie Hagen (sorry). I saw the title of her book and I was intrigued. I have struggled and battled with my weight for years. Strangely, I know I am not big and I know that there are others who would like to be my size but the grass is always greener, isn’t it?

What Sofie Hagen proposes in her memoir is that you should love who you are and not get bogged down in what other people think of you. That you should have the courage of conviction to know who you are, what you want and what you like. 

Sofie Hagen does pose the theory that the world is not created for bigger people: small seats on aeroplanes, extended seatbelts for the bigger person, small seats in theatres. She shows how the world isn’t inclusive for a certain strand of people. It is actually quite sad. 

There are moments of comedy genius in this book but there are also moments of real sadness. You do go on a bit of a journey in this memoir. It is most definitely worth a read.

Happy Fat – Taking Up Space in a World That Wants to Shrink You by Sofia Hagen is available now.

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

Genre: YA Fiction/LGBTQIA+

The Gist: A group of friends head off to university. Whilst they begin to lose each other, they also begin to find themselves.  

Short Review: Loveless is the story of friendship that falls apart when they all discover themselves at university. Love, new social groups and dealing with sexuality are all things that impact this story.

Long Review: Georgia and her friends Pip and Jason are off to Durham University. Whilst her friends are off meeting people and having new adventures Georgia realises that she doesn’t feel the same as they do when it comes to new relationships. 

Whilst everyone is pairing off Georgia struggles to find anyone. She starts to question her sexuality. She doesn’t think that she is a lesbian like her best friend Pip; she tries to go out with other best friend Jason but that relationship repulses her. Georgia doesn’t know why she is feeling this way and it is making her miserable. 

I absolutely loved Loveless. For me, Alice Oseman really is the leading voice in talking to teens about sexuality. I learned so much from this book and I know that when I was a teenager my friends and I would have appreciated a book like this that answers questions that we didn’t even know we had.

Loveless is a brilliant book, one that has friendship at the heart and one that is ironically full of love. It was fantastic.

Loveless by Alice Oseman is available now.

For more information regarding Alice Oseman (@AliceOseman) please visit www.aliceoseman.com.

For more information regarding Harper Collins UK (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Genre: Young Adult/Crime

The Gist: After a sexual attack a young girl becomes the victim of malicious gossip.

Short Review: Emma Kennedy thinks that she has it all but when the boy she and her best friend have been pining after starts paying her attention Emma is forced into a toxic situation with devastating results. 

Long Review: Emma Kennedy is a typical high school girl. She is a cheerleader, she is plodding along academically, she has a good circle of friends. Her whole future looks bright. However, when an encounter with the boy she likes turns violent she becomes ostracised by the people she trusts the most.

If I am honest, Girls Like Me is not an original story. There are plenty of others that tackle the same theme. One of the things that I always find I take away from these types of stories is how they are almost cautionary tales. That the girl shouldn’t have allowed herself to get into this situation. The blame often shifts to the female protagonist and the attacker – though at times held accountable – it is the moral tale that girls have allowed themselves to be in these situation that overrides the rest of the narrative. 

Fortunately Kristin Butcher does not dwell on this. Whilst we don’t necessarily see justice done we are left with the potential for hope.

Girls Like Me by Kristin Butcher is available now.

For more information regarding Orca Books Publishing (@orcabooks) please visit www.orcabooks.com.

Title: One, Two, Three, Four – The Beatles in Time

Author: Craig Brown

Pages: 642 Pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

The Blurb

From the award-winning author of Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret comes a fascinating, hilarious, kaleidoscopic biography of the Fab Four.

On April 10th 2020, it will be exactly 50 years since Paul McCartney announced the break-up of the Beatles. At that point, we will be at the same distance in time from 1970 as 1970 was from 1920, the year Al Jolson’s ‘Swanee’ was the bestselling record and Gustav Holst composed The Planets.

The Beatles continue to occupy a position unique in popular culture. They have entered people’s minds in a way that did not occur before, and has not occurred since. Their influence extended way beyond the realm of music to fashion, politics, class, religion and ethics. Countless books have doggedly catalogued the minutiae of The Beatles. If you want to know the make of George Harrison’s first car you will always be able to find the answer (a second hand, two-door, blue Ford Anglia 105E Deluxe, purchased from Brian Epstein’s friend Terry Doran, who worked at a dealership in Warrington). Before she met John Lennon, who was the only Beatle Yoko Ono could name, and why? Ringo. Because ‘ringo’ means ‘apple’ in Japanese. All very interesting, but there is, as yet, no book about The Beatles that combines the intriguing minutiae of their day-to-day lives with broader questions about their effect – complicated and fascinating – on the world around them, their contemporaries, and generations to come.

Until now.

Craig Brown’s 1-2-3-4: The Beatles in Time is a unique, kaleidoscopic examination of The Beatles phenomenon – part biography, part anthropology, part memoir, by turns humorous and serious, elegiac and speculative. It follows the unique “exploded biography” form of his internationally bestselling, Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret.

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

It always surprises me that there can be anything new to say about a bad that split up over 50 years ago. Yet, here is another. One, Two, Three, Four is Craig Brown’s interesting take on The Beatles legacy.

Much like his previous book Ma’am Darling, Brown mixes the truth with fiction. He includes chapters to The Beatles story that didn’t happen but totally sound like they could have take place. 

What is interesting about One, Two, Three, Four is that Brown has come to telling The Beatles story from conception to end with a mix of current events thrown in. He hasn’t come at his writing from the point of view of a fan telling us what impact The Beatles had on his life. Instead, the way in which he writes his book you feel like you are listening to actual conversations between the Fab Four.

The joy of this book is trying to decipher the truth from the lies. Some are easier than others but either way it is a hell of a ride. 

One, Two, Three, Four – The Beatles in Time by Craig Brown is available now.

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