Title: The Exclusives

Author: Rebecca Thornton

Pages: 378 Pages

Publisher: Bonnier

The Blurb

  1. Freya Seymour and Josephine Grey are invincible – beautiful and brilliant, the two best friends are on the cusp of Oxbridge, and the success they always dreamed they’d share.
  2. Freya gets in touch, looking for a conversation Josephine has run away from for eighteen long and tortured years.

Beginning with one ill-fated night, The Exclusives charts the agonising spiral of friendship gone wrong, the heartache and betrayal of letting down those closest to you and the poisonous possibilities of what we wouldn’t do when everything we prize is placed under threat.

And in the end, as she realises she cannot run for ever, Josephine must answer one question: is it Freya she cannot face, or is it her own darkest secret?


The Review

I do like a good campus novel. I also love a good story about failing friendship. Enter Josephine and Freya. Best friends whose relationship falls apart after a sneaky night out. Freya wants to talk about what happened but Josephine just wants to forget it. When best friends want such different things, can their relationship really last?

Rebecca Thornton really has it the nail on the head with The Exclusives. She shows the pressure that is placed upon young people who have a desire to succeed at any cost. She shows the malicious dynamics between a group of young people. Furthermore, it shows how hormones combined with social situations can and will be overwhelming in an oestrogen filled environment.

The story is told over two time periods – 1996 and 2014. This gives us just enough distance for the secrets to fester enough to become sinister. However, Thornton really does leave you hanging on and on and on and on. Personally, I prefer to be drip fed information, even if it is red herrings throughout the narrative. I prefer a quicker speed. Saying that, this doesn’t hinder the pace of the novel and having it told over the two time frames makes you eager to get back to one of the other of them. I really didn’t want to put the book down. I needed to know what had happened.

Thornton’s The Exclusives really is a satisfying read. You don’t have any loose ends dangling and you aren’t left wondering about the characters. It really, really is a good story.

The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton is available now.

For more information regarding Rebecca Thornton (@RThorntonwriter) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Bonnier (@bonnierbooks_uk) please visit www.bonnierbooks.co.uk.

Title: The Black Flamingo

Author: Dean Atta

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books

The Blurb

This is not about being ready, it’s not even about being fierce, or fearless, IT’S ABOUT BEING FREE.

Michael waits in the stage wings, wearing a pink wig, pink fluffy coat and black heels.

One more step will see him illuminated by spotlight.

He has been on a journey of bravery to get here, and he is almost ready to show himself to the world in bold colours …

Can he emerge as The Black Flamingo?


The Review

The Black Flamingo is a really lovely and engaging story about figuring out who you are. It is the coming of age story of Michael who we watch from early childhood coming to understand who he is: a young gay black man.

Some of those adjectives seem like they shouldn’t be focused on however they are important in the telling of his story. It is how he is perceived as being both black and also as being gay. Not just how society sees him but also how he sees himself.

The Black Flamingo is a gorgeous story told totally through verse. You become captivated by the story telling but also by the beautiful illustrations that accompany the story.

This is definitely a book for those who have struggled to come to terms with an aspect of their lives. It helps create empathy and understanding.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta is available now.

For more information regarding Dean Atta (@DeanAtta) please visit his Twitter page.


Title: City on Fire

Author: Garth Risk Hallberg

Pages: 911 Pages

Publisher: Vintage Books/Penguin Random House

The Blurb

Midnight, New Year’s Eve, 1976. Nine lives are about to be changed forever.

Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, heirs to one of New York’s greatest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by the punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter and his idealistic neighbour – and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park on New Year’s Eve.

Then, on July 13th, 1977, the lights go out.

The Review

Oh boy. What can I say about City on Fire. Well, it’s long. At 911 pages it is a beast of a book. If I had to say something about City on Fire it is that is like a version of Love Actually that tries too hard to be cool.

That probably sounds a bit harsh but hear me out. You have these interconnecting stories that take place over various time frames but all the characters are intrinsically linked to one character who spends the majority of the story in a coma. So far, this actually seems like a pretty interesting set up for a novel. However, you spend the majority of your time trying to keep up with whose story you are currently reading and then what their plot line is. So I kind of felt lost for the majority of the book.

I think City on Fire is a victim of its own length and really struggles to hold your attention.  I was constantly checking to see when the chapter would be over and not because I was excited to get to the next part.

When a book begins to feel like a chore to read then you know that t I not for you. This is not to say that City on Fire won’t be for somebody. There will be readers who will love all the things I disliked about City on Fire but sadly, for me, it failed to hold m concentration.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg is available now.

For more information regarding Garth Risk Hallberg (@GarthRisk) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Vintage Books (@vintagebooks) please visit their Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

Title: This Will Only Hurt a Little

Author: Busy Philipps

Pages: 321 Pages

Publisher: Touchstone

The Blurb

There’s no stopping Busy Philipps. From the time she was two and “aced out in her nudes” to explore the neighborhood (as her mom famously described her toddler jailbreak), Busy has always been headstrong, defiant, and determined not to miss out on all the fun. These qualities led her to leave Scottsdale, Arizona, at the age of nineteen to pursue her passion for acting in Hollywood. But much like her painful and painfully funny teenage years, chasing her dreams wasn’t always easy and sometimes hurt more than a little.

In this stunningly candid memoir, Busy opens up about chafing against a sexist system rife with on-set bullying and body shaming, being there when friends face shattering loss, enduring devastating personal and professional betrayals from those she loved best, and struggling with postpartum anxiety and the challenges of motherhood.

But Busy also brings to the page her sly sense of humor and the unshakeable sense that disappointment shouldn’t stand in her way—even when she’s knocked down both figuratively and literally (from a knee injury at her seventh-grade dance to a violent encounter on the set of Freaks and Geeks). The rough patches in her life are tempered by times of hilarity and joy: leveraging a flawless impression of Cher from Clueless into her first paid acting gig, helping reinvent a genre with cult classic Freaks and Geeks, becoming fast friends with Dawson’s Creek castmate Michelle Williams, staging her own surprise wedding, conquering natural childbirth with the help of a Mad Men–themed hallucination, and more.

Busy is the rare entertainer whose impressive arsenal of talents as an actress is equally matched by her storytelling ability, sense of humor, and sharp observations about life, love, and motherhood. Her conversational writing reminds us what we love about her on screens large and small. From film to television to Instagram and now to the page, Busy delightfully showcases her wry humor and her willingness to bare it all.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life to write this book. I’m just so grateful someone asked. Otherwise, what was the point of any of it??”

The Review

I have always liked Busy Philipps. I first came across her as Audrey on Dawson’s Creek and I thought she was fab and sassy from then on. Whilst I have dipped in and out of her career I have always admired how she presented herself in interviews or on her social media accounts.

I really loved her autobiography This Will Only Hurt a Little. Her warts and all account of how she made her way through the miasmic fug of Hollywood and all the ugliness that comes along with it: whether that be the negative body image issues she has had to endure before getting or being rejected for roles or the absolute criminal behaviour over artistic license. Busy Philipps really has seen it all.

Philipps’ candour is impressive. She doesn’t paint herself as completely innocent in all things, in fact it is her ability to show her less pleasant side that actually makes This Will Only Hurt a Little seem more balanced and therefore more believable.

What is also impressive is that she does not hold back when talking about her colleagues. For those who want to know the uglier side of some of her co-stars then I can guarantee Busy Philipps does not hold back.

Read this. Read it now.

This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Philipps is available now.

For more information regarding Busy Philipps (@BusyPhilipps) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Touchstone (@TouchstoneBooks) please visit www.touchstonebooks.com.

Title: The Authenticity Project

Author: Clare Pooley

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

A story about connection, community, and the kindness of strangers.

Six strangers with one universal thing in common: their lives aren’t always what they make them out to be.

What would happen if they told the truth instead?

Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.

Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story.

Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely.

The Review

What an absolutely gorgeous story! The Authenticity Project is the story of lonely people coming together and being their true selves. It is a story that crosses ages and status and shows that even the most charmed lives have their demons.

The multi-perspective narrative is told by Julian – an old dandy who is utterly miserable who starts the project and benefit greatly from the results. Others who get involved are Monica, Riley, Hazard, Alice and Lizzie. All of their lives are changed because of Julian’s initial impulse.

We follow the cast of characters as we see all of their lives change and watch them grow.

I will admit that as a reader I am unused to new characters being introduced so late in the text however it worked for the purpose of the story.

The Authenticity Project is a wonderful, heart-warming read and is the kind of literary comfort we need at the moment.

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley is available now.

For more information regarding Clare Pooley (@cpooleywriter) please visit www.clarepooley.com.

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