Title: How to Be Famous

Author: Caitlin Moran

Pages: 320 Pages

Publishers: Ebury Press

The Blurb

I’m Johanna Morrigan, and I live in London in 1995, at the epicentre of Britpop. I might only be nineteen, but I’m wise enough to know that everyone around me is handling fame very, very badly.

My unrequited love, John Kite, has scored an unexpected Number One album, then exploded into a Booze And Drugs HellTM – as rockstars do. And my new best friend – the maverick feminist Suzanne Banks, of The Branks – has amazing hair, but writer’s block and a rampant pill problem. So I’ve decided I should become a Fame Doctor. I’m going to use my new monthly column for The Face to write about every ridiculous, surreal, amazing aspect of a million people knowing your name.

But when my two-night-stand with edgy comedian Jerry Sharp goes wrong, people start to know my name for all the wrong reasons. ‘He’s a vampire. He destroys bright young girls. Also, he’s a total dick’ Suzanne warned me. But by that point, I’d already had sex with him. Bad sex.
Now I’m one of the girls he’s trying to destroy.
He needs to be stopped.

But how can one woman stop a bad, famous, powerful man?

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

A few months ago I picked up Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Girl off my bookshelf to read. It had been languishing there for about a year and a half and so I decided to give it a read. I was angry at myself afterwards because I bloody loved it. I can’t believe I had not read it yet. The only good thing about this was that I didn’t have to wait long for the sequel How to Be Famous to be published. Hurrah.

I pre-ordered How to Be Famous and waited patiently for my postman to deliver it and whilst I had promised myself that I could read it over the summer when I was off work I just couldn’t wait and I started it immediately.

And you know what?…I bloody loved this book too.

In the further adventures of Dolly Wilde we see a more grown up if not really more mature young lady now living in London. We watch as Dolly makes more mistakes on the path to finding herself. We also see her become more staunchly feminist and we watch as she sets about trying to change the music industry from inside out.

Dolly Wilde is still the loveable sometimes hapless protagonist that we have come to love but this time we see her become more independent. There were times when I had to close the book because sadly Dolly was doing things that I know once I had read about them I couldn’t unread. That is the power of Caitlin Moran. She made me care for Dolly Wilde as if she was a real person, as if she was my friend.

I cannot praise How to Be a Girl and How to Be Famous any higher than I have. They are both contenders for my favourite book of the year. I wish there were more books of this calibre available to young women today.

How to Be Famous by Caitlin Moran is available now.

For more information regarding Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmmoran) please visit www.caitlinmoran.co.uk.

For more information regarding Ebury Press (@EburyPublishing) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/publishers/eburypublishing.

How to Build a GirlTitle: How to Build a Girl

Author: Caitlin Moran

Pages: 354 Pages

Publisher: Ebury Press

The Blurb

My name’s Johanna Morrigan. I’m fourteen, and I’ve just decided to kill myself.

I don’t really want to die, of course! I just need to kill Johanna, and build a new girl. Dolly Wilde will be everything I want to be, and more! But as with all the best coming-of-age stories, it doesn’t exactly go to plan…

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

My favourite genre of book or movie or, heck, even song, is one with a coming of age story at its heart. I love watching a character grow and develop and learn and just become who they are meant to be in this little fictional world. It makes my heart swell bigger than the Grinch’s. And this is exactly what I got from Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl.

Now I know I am a little late to the game on this one but to be fair I have a million books and there is, as of yet, not been a day added to the week allocated for just reading so you will have to forgive me. However, as I pressed pre-order on the sequel to How to Build A Girl (How to Be Famous – out in June) I decided to bump it to the top of the TBR pile and oh my wow I have fallen in love.

Besides being, as I have said, a coming of age story, How to Build a Girl is also a socio-economic study of class. In particular, working class status and what it means to be poor. Moran has made no secret about her unconventional upbringing and you can see how much of her heart and soul is infused in this story and how it actually takes someone who knows about class issues from a realistic vantage to be able to discuss them eruditely.

Moran uses the music of the times to forward the story along and completely immerses you in her world and I, for one, didn’t want to leave. Johanna Morrigan – our protagonist – really is a fictional heroine. One I wish I had to look up to when I was younger. And even though Caitlin Moran could write about the wing span of midgey flies and I would read it because I love her writing style I can honestly say that How to Build a Girl has taken the number one spot as my book of the year so far.

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran is available now.

For more information regarding Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) please visit www.caitlinmoran.co.uk.

For more information regarding Ebury Publishing (@EburyPublishing) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/publishers/ebury.

5 Stars

One Christmas Kiss in Notting HillTitle: One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill

Author: Mandy Baggot

Pages: 448 Pages

Publisher: Penguin/Ebury Publishing/Ebury Press

The Blurb

Curl up by the fire with the ultimate seasonal romance, from the bestselling author Mandy Baggot!

‘I absolutely love Mandy’s books’ Milly Johnson

Imagine the perfect Christmas Kiss…

His strong arms around her waist, her hands on his face, the snow slowly starts to fall…

It’s enough to make Isla Winters cringe! While her sister can’t get enough of this – increasingly common – sight on the streets of London, Isla’s too busy trying to stop Hannah’s wheelchair from slipping on the ice, and making sure she’s not too late to her dream job at Breekers International.

But everything changes with the arrival of Chase Bryan, fresh from the New York office. He’s eager to learn everything about Isla’s beloved Notting Hill, but as the nights get colder, will cosying up to him come at a price?

The Review

There is nothing better than a honest to goodness Christmas romance story and dammit that is what Mandy Baggot has delivered with her brilliant new novel One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill.

Isla works for a company that helps get buildings built. She does this with a good conscience as she tries to get hospitals built and whilst doing that trying to keep the unique fingerprint of London alive but when she gets the chance to work on a new project it seems that a conflict of interest is going to hinder her – and the projects –progress.

Throw into this a 20 year old sister who happens to be in a wheelchair and who desperately wants independence and a hot new boss who Isla is having inappropriate feelings for, she feels like her world is moving too fast and she cannot keep up.

Will this year be Isla’s worst Christmas ever?

I really enjoyed this story and what was brilliant about it is that the character arc came from the secondary protagonist. Isla stayed determinedly herself throughout. She is the heart of the novel and everyone is infected by her Britishness and her sense of history.

One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill was a joy to read and was as much as a lovely romance novel as it was a love letter to a specific area of London.

One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill by Mandy Baggot is available now.

For more information regarding Mandy Baggot (@mandybaggot) please visit www.mandybaggot.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Books UK (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

For more information regarding Ebury Publishing (@EburyPublishing) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/publishers/ebury/.

4 Stars

 

Can'T Believe You Just Said ThatTitle: I Can’t Believe You Just Said That

Author: Danny Wallace

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK/Ebury Publishing

The Blurb

Passive aggression. Road rage. Snarky tweets. Queue-jumpers. Idiots who are #justsaying. Fat shamers. Victim blaming. Furious waitresses who refuse to sell you a hot dog… We are ruder than we’ve ever been.

In this incisive and very funny book, Danny Wallace investigates the new wave of rudeness that threatens to overwhelm us. He travels the world, visiting our rudest critics, interviewing psychologists, psychiatrists, bell boys, cab drivers, bin men, barristers, politicians, a limo driver called José and at least one expert in cooked meat production. In doing so he uncovers the hidden truths behind what makes us rude, whether it can be caught, and how one small moment of rudeness—like being declined a hotdog—can snowball into disaster.

From the jihadist who launched a blistering attack on the “bad manners” of his fellow ISIS militants, to the mayor in Bogota who recruited an army of mimes to highlight inconsiderate driving—this is a very funny and powerful exploration into the way humans work and why it is surely time for an anti-rudeness revolution.

The Review

Firstly, massive thanks needs to be said to Rebecca Hibbert at Penguin Random House who sent me a copy of Danny Wallace’s I Can’t Believe You Just Said That to review.

I am overly polite. I know that I am. I apologise when people bump into me and I profusely thank people when they do the smallest things for me. It is a problem. No not me being polite, it is how I respond to people who are impolite to me. As much as I am polite, I am also the person who will tell people that it is ok that they didn’t thank me when I have done something nice. This usually results in me shouting “YOU’RE WELCOME” down a corridor after I have held the door open for someone.

What I am saying is that manners matter and this is the subject of Danny Wallace’s latest book. He discusses the obsession we have with manners and the impact they have on the success of people. Wallace talks about a plethora of topics from hot dogs to Donald Trump. I Can’t Believe You Just Said That is chock full of expert opinions and is thoroughly researched. This could seem a bit heavy and boring but by gum I haven’t laughed this hard in ages. Wallace manages his information brilliantly and breaks things down to make sure that fact and figures don’t seem dry.

Danny Wallace has written a triumph of a book in I Can’t Believe You Just Said That. It is sharp, witty and just damn funny….and I’m not just being polite.

I Can’t Believe You Just Said That by Danny Wallace is available from 15th June 2016.

For more information regarding Danny Wallace (@dannywallace) please visit www.dannywallace.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House UK (@penguinrandom) and Ebury Publishing (@EburyPublishing) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

4 Stars

MoranifestoThe Blurb

‘I’ve lived through ten iOS upgrades on my Mac – and that’s just something I use to much about on Twitter. Surely capitalism is due an upgrade or two?’

When Caitlin Moran sat down to choose her favourite pieces for her new book she realised that they all seemed to join up. Turns out, it’s the same old problems and the same old ass-hats.

Then she thought of the word ‘Moranifesto’, and she knew what she had to do…

This is Caitlin’s engaging and amusing rallying call for our times. Combining the best of her recent columns with lots of new writing unique to this book, Caitlin deals with topics as pressing and diverse as 1980s swearing, benefits, boarding schools, and why the internet is like a drunken toddler.

And whilst never afraid to address the big issues of the day – such as Benedict Cumberbatch and duffel coats – Caitlin also makes a passionate effort to understand our 21st century society and presents us with her ‘Moranifesto’ for making the world a better place.

The polite revolution starts here! Please.

The Review

I firmly believe (and have done for some time) that I am a little bit in love with Caitlin Moran.

You see, I read her writings or listen to her in interviews and I think to myself “Dammit, yes Caitlin! You have expressed my thoughts far more eloquently than have now let’s go out for a pow-wow and maybe a game of air hockey.” – why the air hockey? Couldn’t say, but I do know that Caitlin and I would shoot the shit something wicked in a musty old arcade.

If I could write…or, indeed, think 3% as astutely as Caitlin Moran does then I would consider myself to be very lucky. She gets me that riled up with optimistic vibes that I almost want to befriend her and encourage her to run for president. The fact that she is British, be damned! I believe she could do it; I know she would win.

Ok, enough fangirling (don’t worry, there may be some more later). Let us look at her latest book: Moranifesto. It is a glorious collection of her articles and it really does invite you to intimately press your nose between the pages of her mellifluous mind. It is a must for avid “woMoran’s” – ok I tried to create a “Cumberbitch” tag name and it didn’t quite work out but you get what I mean – and also for the “Moranovice” < – admittedly, I am a little proud of that one.

Personally, my favourite articles included: “I Can’t Stop Listening to ‘Get Lucky’”, “Everyone Fancies Britain Right Now”, “A Woman’s Monthly Faultiness”, “My Lady Festival Advice”, “Russell T Davies – The Man Who Changed the World, Just a Little Bit”, “Why Can’t Life be More Like a Musical?”, and “All the Lists of My Life”

This is not an exhaustive list and to be fair it doesn’t do justice to just how brilliant Moranifesto is. This is a book that should be issued to teenagers who are trying to figure things out and trying to form their own opinion away from the beliefs that they have been born into. This book could have been called The Things I Wished I Had Known. Where was this book when I was growing up? is the only negative thing I have to say about Moranifesto. This previously gawky teenager could have used it. I implore everyone to pick up a copy of Moranifesto because it is a treasure trove of fantastic writing. I cannot recommend it enough…and now we have the return of the fangirl.

One final thing, Moranifesto gave me one of my proudest moments as an aunty when my one year old niece picked it up and said “book”. I thought to myself, “Yes, I will make a feminist/humanist out of you.”

Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran is available now.

Follow Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) on Twitter.

5 Stars