Title: Lanny

Author: Max Porter

Pages: 224 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

Not far from London, there is a village.

This village belongs to the people who live in it and to those who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England’s mysterious past and its confounding present.

It belongs to Mad Pete, the grizzled artist. To ancient Peggy, gossiping at her gate. To families dead for generations, and to those who have only recently moved here.

But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort who has woken from his slumber in the woods. Dead Papa Toothwort, who is listening to them all.

Chimerical, audacious, strange and wonderful – a song to difference and imagination, to friendship, youth and love, Lanny is the globally anticipated new novel from Max Porter.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Lanny is the story of unusual friendships, a missing child, and the fear of the “other”.

Lanny is a young boy who is best described as someone who bangs to the beat of their own drum. He doesn’t quite fit in but he is in no way ostracised. He just is. Lanny is encouraged by his mother to befriend a local artist known as ‘Mad Pete’ because of his interest in art and creating things. Equally, Mad Pete is encouraged by Lanny’s mum.

Max Porter uses this poetic novella to discuss how a seemingly normal village will fall apart in the face of adversity and terror. Porter uses his lyrical style which becomes much more intense as the story progresses to show how prejudices are exposed.

Max Porter has a way of packing a whole lot into very little. He is economical with his word choice and should be applauded for the stories that he tells.

Lanny by Max Porter is available now.

For more information regarding Max Porter (@maxjohnporter) please visit www.maxporter.co.uk.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@faberbooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.

Title: Normal People

Author: Sally Rooney

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.

This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life.

The Review

For anyone who loves reading it has been near impossible to ignore the hype surrounding Sally Rooney. I was curious to find out if her writing was worth all the fuss.

I would say that the fuss is about 90% accurate.

Normal People is the story of Connell and Marianne, two young adults who are inextricably linked by a class division. They both go to the same school, at times matriculate in the same circles and both live in the same area. The difference is that Connell’s mum works for Marianne’s family. It is a Pretty in Pink class reversal that first leads to the awkwardness between the two characters.

Over the course of 288 pages we see both characters inexplicably enter and leave each others’ lives and whilst in stories of a similar ilk – for example, One Day by David Nicholls – I did not find myself screaming at the pages for the two characters to be together. They were both self-destructive and their union would never end well.

What Rooney does successfully is speak without speaking. She never over explains the characters feelings; she allows the reader find their own way. I just wish I could control her characters more.

Normal People by Sally Rooney is available now.

For more information regarding Sally Rooney (@sallyrooney) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.

Title: Long Way Down

Author: Jason Reynolds

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

AND THEN THERE WERE SHOTS
Everybody
ran,
ducked,
hid, tucked
themselves tight.

Pressed our lips to the
pavement and prayed
the boom, followed by
the buzz of a bullet,
didn’t meet us.

After Will’s brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge. So he gets in the lift with Shawn’s gun, determined to follow The Rules. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in, Will’s friend who died years ago. And Dani, who was shot years before that. As more people from his past arrive, Will has to ask himself if he really knows what he’s doing.

This haunting, lyrical, powerful verse novel will blow you away.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I genuinely believe that YA fiction is opening up conversations about difficult topics to an age group who are on the cusp of forming their own opinions about society. When I was younger, the YA fiction was soft; it skirted around issues and acted like teenagers were too delicate or were unable to discuss difficult topics. Not anymore; the world of literature is a better place for it.

Jason Reynolds discusses knife crime in the book Long Way Down. It is the story of Will who has just seen his brother shot and killed due to gang crime. It is time for him to take his brother’s place on the street. He knows it. He also knows who has killed his brother and he is out for vengeance.

Told entirely in verse, we track Will as he goes to avenge his brother’s murder. We watch as people try to talk him out of his actions. We watch as those people – who are not who you would expect – reveal how gun and gang crime have impacted their own lives.

Long Way Down is hard hitting but it needs to be. It doesn’t paint a happy picture; it is gritty and it is realistic. Long Way Down is, for want of a better word, brilliant.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds is available now.

For more information regarding Jason Reynolds (@JasonRenolds83) please visit www.jasonwritesbooks.com.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.

Title: In Paris with You

Author: Clementine Beauvais (Translated by Sam Taylor)

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

Eugene and Tatiana could have fallen in love. If things had gone differently. If they had tried to really know each other. If it had just been them, and not the others. But that was years ago and time has found them far apart, leading separate lives.

Until they meet once more in Paris.

What really happened back then? And now? Could they ever be together after everything?

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

In Paris with You is one of the nominees for the Carnegie medal in 2019. I have been trying to make my way through the books and since I liked Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais I decided to give it a go.

In Paris with You is told completely in verse form – this is not unusual. At least three others on the long list are told in this format. What is unusual about this is that not only is it in verse form but it has been translated from French.

It is a quirky little love story that slips backwards and forwards from the modern day to the past and tells the story of Eugene and Tatiana. It shows how timing is everything and that we shouldn’t just expect love to happen when we want it to.

I really enjoyed In Paris with You but it is one of those books that due to the verse I wished I had heard read as slam poetry. You read with the beats but I think it would have been better if I had listened to it rather than reading it.

In Paris with You by Clementine Beauvais is available now.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.

Title: What Would Boudicca Do? – Everyday Problems Solved by History’s Most Remarkable Women

Author: Elizabeth Foley and Beth Coates

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Faber & Faber

The Blurb

Tired of being talked over? Of social media making you feel crap? Of the pressure to ‘have it all’ and a hot bod too?

Boudicca stuck up for herself and now she can help you do the same. It is time to start channelling the spiky superwomen of history to conquer today. It is time to turn to women like Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker, Hypatia and Cleopatra, Coco Chanel and Empress Cixi. In this irreverent guide they will help you figure out how to dispatch a loverat, back yourself, kill it at work and trounce FoMo.

With original illustrations by Bijou Karman, What Would Boudicca Do? will make you fired-up and ready for anything.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I am a woman. I am a daughter and a sister but most important to me, I am an aunty. I am determined to a) make my niece love reading as much as I do and b) make sure that she is a strong woman. It is with this in mind that I read as much as I can about the forgotten women of history; the women who made a difference, socially, scientifically, economically or who just made a difference enough to mention.

I want to share these tales with my niece, who at the moment wants to be a princess. I want her to want to be fierce. Whether that is as a princess, as a make-up artist, as a surgeon or as a postal service delivery woman. I do not care what she wants to be when she is older as long as she does it knowing that she is a rock star.

This is why I read books like What Would Boudicca Do? They give me an insight into women of the past that I have no knowledge of. I have read quite a few of these tropes and I must say that What Would Boudicca Do? is up there with the best of them.

What Would Boudicca Do? – Everyday Problems Solved by History’s Most Remarkable Women by Elizabeth Foley and Beth Coates is available now.

For more information regarding Faber & Faber (@FaberBooks) please visit www.faber.co.uk.