Title: The Operator

Author: Gretchen Berg

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

It’s 1952. The switchboard operators in Wooster, Ohio, love nothing more than to eavesdrop on their neighbours’ conversations, and gossip about what they learn. Vivian Dalton is no different (despite her teenage daughter’s disapproval), and always longs to hear something scandalous. But on the night of December 15th, she wishes she hadn’t. The secret that’s shared by a stranger on the line threatens to rip the rug of Vivian’s life from under her.

Vivian may be mortified, but she’s not going to take this lying down. She wants the truth, no matter how painful it may be. But one secret tends to lead to another . . .

This moving, heart-felt and ultimately uplifting novel brilliantly weaves together an irresistible portrayal of a town buzzing with scandal, and an unforgettable story of marriage, motherhood and the unbreakable ties of family.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Small town sensibility is the subject of The Operator by Gretchen Berg. It is about how life was very different in the 1950s and how even being in a world without social media we are still fascinated by the gossip and lives of others.

The story centres on Vivian who works at the switchboard. Vivian is obsessed with being seen and being values in society but when she listens in to a switchboard phone call and finds out a secret that is about her Vivian begins to understand the adage be careful what you wish for. Her small town world is about to be completely rocked.

Whilst this is a fascinating look at the lives in a small town in America – one that demands social etiquette and rules – I did find the whole thing rather boring and slow placed, however, it is arguable that given the time frame things didn’t work at a speedy pace, it wouldn’t make sense to do so.

Either way, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted too. I think that the cover oversold the story which is a shame.

The Operator is an interesting read but it did not blow me away.

The Operator by Gretchen Berg is available now.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

Title: Born to Run

Author: Bruce Springsteen

Pages: 528 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That’s how this extraordinary autobiography began.

Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs.

He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.

Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.

Rarely has a performer told his own story with such force and sweep. Like many of his songs (“Thunder Road,” “Badlands,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “The River,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” “The Rising,” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” to name just a few), Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I love Bruce Springsteen. My favourite song in the world is Born to Run. I was lucky enough to see him perform at Glastonbury in 2009. Yet I have had his autobiography sitting on my bookshelf for a few years now. I picked it up a few times and then opted for something else instead.

Eventually, I did sit down with the book (a mixture of physical book and audiobook) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Springsteen’s lyricism goes far beyond the song and his way with words plays out in his life story. It is almost like it is one big lyric. I don’t think he knows how to be anything but poetic.

It was interesting to learn about Bruce Springsteen’s earlier life and the events that shaped him to become who he is today. It was also quite moving to be there for the moments that I knew about such as Clarence Clemmons’ death.

Overall, it is a warts-and-all biography worthy of 528 pages of your time.

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen is available now.

For more information regarding Bruce Springsteen (@springsteen) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding (@simonschusterUK) please visit www.simonandschuster.co.uk.

 

Title: She is Fierce – Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women

Author: Ana Sampson

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

The Blurb

A stunning gift book containing 150 bold, brave and beautiful poems by women – from classic, well loved poets to innovative and bold modern voices. From suffragettes to school girls, from spoken word superstars to civil rights activists, from aristocratic ladies to kitchen maids, these are voices that deserve to be heard.

Collected by anthologist Ana Sampson She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women contains an inclusive array of voices, from modern and contemporary poets. Immerse yourself in poems from Maya Angelou, Nikita Gill, Wendy Cope, Ysra Daley-Ward, Emily Bronte, Carol Ann Duffy, Fleur Adcock, Liz Berry, Jackie Kay, Hollie McNish, Imtiaz Dharker, Helen Dunmore, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Christina Rossetti, Margaret Atwood and Dorothy Parker, to name but a few! Featuring short biographies of each poet, She is Fierce is a stunning collection and an essential addition to any bookshelf.

The anthology is divided into the following sections: Roots and Growing Up Friendship Love Nature Freedom, Mindfulness and Joy Fashion, society and body image Protest, courage and resistance Endings

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

As I have gotten older I have come to appreciate poetry more than I did as a child. However, my love isn’t for the written word it is for the chosen nuances. I like studying the poem, looking at the writer and discovering why it was written. What is great about the She is Fierce collection is that some of the work is already done for you. You have the poem, you have it categorised into what type of poem it is and then you have a breakdown of the writer. Brilliant.

She is Fierce is a wonderful collection that is compromised of fantastic female voices. Some poems are familiar but the majority are ones that I certainly hadn’t come across before. It was wonderful to find some new and interesting voices.

This is a perfect collection for the feminist poetry lover in your life.

She is Fierce – Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women by Ana Sampson is available now.

For more information regarding Ana Sampson (@AnaBooks) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Macmillan Children’s Books (@MacmillanKidsUK) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: Come Again

Author: Robert Webb

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Canongate Books

The Blurb

You can’t fall in love for the first time twice . . .

Kate’s husband Luke – the man she loved from the moment she met him twenty-eight years ago – died suddenly. Since then she has pushed away her friends, lost her job and everything is starting to fall apart.

One day, she wakes up in the wrong room and in the wrong body. She is eighteen again but remembers everything. This is her college room in 1992. This is the first day of Freshers’ Week. And this is the day she first meets Luke.

But Luke is not the man that she lost: he’s still a boy – the annoying nineteen-year-old English student she first met. Kate knows how he died and that he’s already ill. If they can fall in love again she might just be able to save him. She’s going to try to do everything exactly the same . . .

The Review

Kate Marsden is grieving. She is grieving hard. Her husband of 28 years – Luke – has just died of a brain tumour and all she wants to do is to join him on the other side.

However, when life gives her a second chance with Luke form the day she first met him at university Kate does everything in her power to save his life. Yet it comes at a cost.

Okay, so this was a risky little story for me because I am not a fan of Groundhog Day and I get myself well stressed out with time travel movies (except Back to the Future). I get really confused and my brain starts to melt a little bit when presented with this kind of story. However, Webb created a story in which the technicality of time travel or other dimensions is secondary to the heart of the story which is the relationship, the love story.

Come Again is broken down in to three parts and I will admit by the third part I was a little unsure as to where the story was going but there is an overriding element of fun that kept me reading. That is definitely the best way to describe Come Again – fun. If you can suspend your disbelief then you will definitely enjoy it.

Come Again by Robert Webb is available now.

For more information regarding Robert Webb (@arobertwebb) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Canongate Books (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.

Title: Diary of Two Nobodies

Author: Giles Wood and Mary Killen

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Virgin Books

The Blurb

Giles is a countryman who relishes solitude. His wife Mary thrives in company and enjoys frequent escapes to London.

After thirty years in a marriage of opposites, Giles and Mary have adapted to a life of domestic misunderstandings within comical misadventures.

In The Diary of Two Nobodies, you will have the unique opportunity to discover, first hand, what occurs when a man who sees himself as a cross between Mr Bean and Basil Fawlty shares his life with a woman who identifies closely with the Queen.

Featuring original illustrations by the artist Giles, himself.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Anyone who watches Gogglebox will be aware of the delightful couple from Wiltshire – Giles and Mary.

I won’t lie to you, they are my favourite couple on the show and I won’t be lying when I say that I kind of want me and my fiancé to have a relationship like they do when we are in our 60s. They are just too damn cute.

Their delightful book Diary of Two Nobodies gives us a glimpse into the domestic life of Giles and Mary through one year. Seeing the same situations from two different perspectives, you become aware how they often fall foul of mixed communication. However, you see how much they truly love each other and how their marriage has lasted.

Diary of Two Nobodies is utterly charming much like Giles and Mary. It is a brilliant gift for fans of Gogglebox.

Diary of Two Nobodies by Giles Wood and Mary Killen is available now.