Title: Loud Black Girls – 20 Black Women Writers Ask: What’s Next?

Author: Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

The Blurb

An important and timely anthology of black British writing, edited and curated by the authors of the highly acclaimed, ground-breaking Slay In Your Lane. Slay in Your Lane Presents: Loud Black Girls features essays from the diverse voices of over twenty established and emerging black British writers.

Being a loud black girl isn’t about the volume of your voice; and using your voice doesn’t always mean speaking the loudest or dominating the room. Most of the time it’s simply existing as your authentic self in a world that is constantly trying to tell you to minimise who you are.

Now that we’ve learnt how to Slay in our Lanes, what’s next?

Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené, authors of the acclaimed Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, invite the next generation of black women in Britain – authors, journalists, actors, activists and artists – to explore what it means to them to exist in these turbulent times.

From assessing the cultural impact of Marvel’s Black Panther, to celebrating activism in local communities. From asking how we can secure the bag while staying true to our principles, or how we can teach our daughters to own their voices, to reclaiming our culinary heritage, the essays in Loud Black Girls offer fierce, funny, touching and ultimately insightful perspectives from today’s most exciting black women writers.

The Review

During lock down I read Slay in Your Lane by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené. Feminism is an interest of mine and so I was eager to read it. In my own ignorance I only really ever thought about what feminism meant for me. Sounds strange to say but it was almost as though I saw feminism as a one size fits all thing. How wrong I was. Having read Slay in Your Lane my eyes were opened to how feminism effects everyone – especially those who are (incorrectly) seen as ethnic minorities – feel the impact of feminism and the patriarchy differently. Since then I have tried to read wider on the subject, to learn more and to be able to be more inclusive with my feminism beliefs.

For that reason, Loud Black Girls was a fantastic read. Take away my reason for reading it and it was still brilliant. The voices of the women within the book are diverse, feisty, strong and forthright. The arguments they put forward are powerful. The stories they share are engaging. Furthermore, they are voices that I have mainly never come across and deserve further attention.

And for that reason Loud Black Girls is so very important.

Loud Black Girls – 20 Black Women Writers Ask: What’s Next? by Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené is available now.

For more information regarding Yomi Adegoke (@yomiadegoke) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Uviebinené (@lizuvie) please visit her Twitter page.

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

Title: Consent

Author: Vanessa Springora

Pages: 216 Pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

The Blurb

The devastating and powerful memoir from a French publisher who was abused by a famous writer from the age of thirteen

‘A gut-punch of a memoir with prose that cuts like a knife’ Kate Elizabeth Russell, author of My Dark Vanessa

Thirty years ago, Vanessa Springora was the teenage muse of one of France’s most celebrated writers, a footnote in the narrative of an influential man. At the end of 2019, as women around the world began to speak out, Springora, now in her forties and the director of one of France’s leading publishing houses, decided to reclaim her own story.

Consent is the story of her stolen adolescence. Devastating in its honesty, Springora’s painstaking memoir lays bare the cultural attitudes and circumstances that made it possible for a thirteen-year-old girl to become involved with a fifty-year-old man.

Drawing parallels between children’s fairy tales, French history and the author’s personal life, Consent offers intimate insights into the meaning of love and consent, the toll of trauma and the power of healing in women’s lives.

The Review

Consent by Vanessa Springora is a memoir about her time as a real-life Lolita. Springora describes her life and her relationship with a celebrated writer in France and how as she has grown up she has realised that their relationship was not one based on mutual affection but one that was manipulated by an older man taking advantage of a younger girl. She looks at the power dynamics and how her innocence was lost to this. Springora also looks at the changing attitudes of the time and how something that happened to her wouldn’t be seen as socially acceptable as it was perceived at the time (not completely accepted but far more so than in today’s society).

Consent is part memoir part social commentary about relationships, society and power. Equally, it is about claiming back your own existence and taking your power back. It is only a short book but it is a powerful one.

Consent by Vanessa Springora is available now.

For more information regarding Vanessa Springora (@VSpringora) please visit her Twitter page.

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

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.

Behold 1Title: Behold the Dreamers

Author: Imbolo Mbue

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Random House/Harper Collins

The Blurb

In the vein of Amy Tan and Khaled Hosseini comes a compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy.

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

The Review

To say that Behold the Dreamers is not the usual type of fiction that I read would be an understatement. I usually read books to harbour a level of escapism. It is rare that I choose to read a book with such gritty realism but that is exactly what I got from Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel.

The story follows Jende and Neni, immigrants from Cameroon who are awaiting their legal papers and green card. They have come to New York, eyes full of glitter and heads full of the American dream. However, they soon realise that life in America is not that easy.

What was truly wonderful about Behold the Dreamers was the juxtaposition of African and American values alongside the beliefs and reality about each existence. Jende and Neni believe that life in America is full of hope and that they will live the best life there, whereas the American contingent knows the flaws of these views. We see as the story develops that the people who seem to have everything have not much at all and those with little seem to haveBehold 2 the world.

Behold the Dreamers is a really interesting, well written and compelling novel the likes of which I can honestly say I have never read before. It was an ambitious debut by Imbolo Mbue and one that she has executed with finesse.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue is available now.

For more information regarding Imbolo Mbue please visit www.imbolombue.com.

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

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollins) please visit www.harpercollins.com.

4 Stars

Synopsis

A satirical (if not frighteningly accurate) look at the scientific developments that have the potential to shape our future.

Review

I will never claim to be one of life’s great thinkers. I hold a fair level of intelligence and I can hold my own in topical debate. However, the dirge of my academic life has always been science (closely followed by maths). I just never took to it as a subject. In actual fact I failed my GCSE exam in it but shrugged it off in a “That’s life” sort of way.

As I have gotten older I admit my curiosity has peaked (not enough to re-sit my science GCSE – this was recently offered to me by my former science teacher who is now my colleague in my place of employment) and I take a more active interest in how science shapes our lives.

This inquisitiveness led me to The Shape of Shit to Come. I must say that this is a brilliant book – not just because of the fascinating topics that it covers (robotics, space travel and jellyfish to name but a few) but also because it is damn hilarious. The chapters are peppered with funny little intrusions from the authors and quite frankly their ludicrous interludes provide comic relief to, what comes across as, some seriously scary science.

I still wouldn’t say that I am totally clued up about all the recent advances in science but I know I won’t be put off by books about these contentious issues either. If science is your passion then this is definitely a book for you. If, like me, you have a growing scientific curiosity then give this a try. What you may lack in smarts when it comes to understanding the technical stuff you can more than find amusement in the writing style.

The Shape of Shit to Come by Alan McArthur and Steve Lowe is available now.

The Shape of Shit to Come