Title: A Good Neighbourhood

Author: Therese Anne Fowler

Pages: 311 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

In Oak Knoll, a tight-knit North Carolina neighbourhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door – an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenage daughter. With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds over an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard. But as they fight, they fail to notice that there is a romance blossoming between their two teenagers. A romance that will challenge the carefully constructed concepts of class and race in this small community. A romance that might cause everything to shatter…

The Review

A Good Neighbourhood is a bold novel about disguised racism in a small town in North Carolina.

It centres on two neighbouring families: The Aston Holt’s – Valerie and her son Xavier and The Whitman’s – local businessman Brad, his wife Julia and their two daughters. Xavier and eldest daughter Juniper have started to have feelings for each other but by embarking on a relationship they are crossing the divide of class, politics and race.

Fowler has taken a risk with this A Good Neighbourhood. Often authors are criticised for writing outside of the boundaries of ‘what they know’ – Fowler, as a white woman –  cannot fully understand racism because racism is so internal and institutionalised therefore her writing cannot be ‘real’. However, to not write about racism is worse. It is almost to ignore it and disregard it as a topic because it doesn’t directly affect her. As you can see, writers are often in a no win situation.

I think Fowler handled the subject of racial division in a very sensitive manner. She shows just how internalised and institutionalised it can be and shows how much of a problem it is especially in specific states in America. We know it is a problem but when it is highlighted – by someone of whatever race – it is surely a good thing if it helps raise awareness and will hopefully – one day  insight change.

A Good Neighbourhood by Therese Anne Fowler is available now.

For more information regarding Therese Anne Fowler (@ThereseFowler) please visit www.thereseannefowler.com.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit their Twitter page.

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: I Never Said I Loved You

Author: Rhik Samadder

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

On an unlikely backpacking trip, Rhik and his mother find themselves speaking openly for the first time in years. Afterwards, the depression that has weighed down on Rhik begins to loosen its grip for a moment – so he seizes the opportunity: to own it, to understand it, and to find out where it came from.

Through this begins a journey of investigation, healing and recovery. Along the way Rhik learns some shocking truths about his family, and realizes that, in turn, he will need to confront the secrets he has long buried. But through this, he triumphs over his fears and brings his depression into the light.

I Never Said I Loved You is the story of how Rhik learned to let go, and then keep going. With unique humour and honesty, he has created a powerfully rich, funny and poignant exploration of the light and dark in all of us.

A vital, moving and darkly funny memoir by a powerful new voice in non-fiction.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I really didn’t know much about Rhik Samadder before I read I Never Said I Loved You. I liked the duck on the cover. Yes, I am one of those readers. Having finished reading his book I can honestly say that I am impressed by the frank and candid memoir.

It is a warts and all assessment of life and what has made Samadder – his experiences, his situations, and his decisions. At times it is utterly heartbreaking and then a breakneck speed you re giggling. It is joyous and sad. Samadder strikes a strange balance.

If memoirs of people that you don’t really know are your thing and if – like me – you don’t know much about Rhik Samadder, then you should really give this book a read.

I Never Said I Loved You by Rhik Samadder is available now.

For more information regarding Rhik Samadder (@whatsamadder) please visit his Twitter page.

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

Title: The Sisterhood – A Love Letter to the Women Who Have Shaped Me

Author: Daisy Buchanan

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

‘My five sisters are the only women I would ever kill for. And they are the only women I have ever wanted to kill.’

Imagine living between the pages of Pride And Prejudice, in the Bennett household. Now, imagine how the Bennett girls as they’d be in the 21st century – looking like the Kardashian sisters, but behaving like the Simpsons. This is the house Daisy Buchanan grew up in,

Daisy’s memoir The Sisterhood explores what it’s like to live as a modern woman by examining some examples close to home – her adored and infuriating sisters. There’s Beth, the rebellious contrarian; Grace, the overachiever with a dark sense of humour; Livvy, the tough girl who secretly cries during adverts; Maddy, essentially Descartes with a beehive; and Dotty, the joker obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Race and bears.

In this tender, funny and unflinchingly honest account Daisy examines her relationship with her sisters and what it’s made up of – friendship, insecurity jokes, jealousy and above all, love – while celebrating the ways in which women connect with each other and finding the ways in which we’re all sisters under the skin.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I was about 17 when my sister asked me if I would be a surrogate for her. Not right now. This was a hypothetical situation. My sister knew then (and she still knows) that I have no desire to give birth – it looks painful and messy and I have heard that sometimes you poop. Carla is my sister and I would do anything for her and so I agreed. Fortunately for me my sister didn’t need to call on me and my uterus and gave birth to my gorgeous niece in 2015. However, this story was mentioned because if you have sisters you know what you would do for them. Daisy Buchanan just gets it.

The Sisterhood is a celebration of the sisters we have in life. Buchanan mentions friends that become sisters and she talks in depth about real life siblings. She celebrates each of them for their individuality, she shares stories of their shared past and she shows that sometimes being a sister can be hard.

What is wonderful about this collection of essays is that Daisy Buchanan doesn’t hide behind her words. She shows aspects of her own personality that aren’t always the most desirable qualities but she needs to do that  to help you understand how much you can love your sister but want to thump them in the arm until they squeal too.

It is an amazing celebration of sisterhood that can be found within these pages. Read it, love it, and then buy it for your sister for Christmas.

The Sisterhood – A Love Letter to the Women Who Have Shaped Me by Daisy Buchanan is available now.

For more information regarding Daisy Buchanan (@NotRollerGirl) please visit her Twitter page.

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

Title: Look at Me

Author: Sarah Deguid

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Headline/Tinder Press

The Blurb

Lizzy’s mother died two years ago, leaving a family bereft by her absence and a house still filled with her things. Then, one day, Lizzy finds a letter from a stranger to her father, and discovers he has another child. Lizzy invites her into their world in an act of outraged defiance. Almost immediately, she realises her mistake.

The Review

Ok, so this is a confusing one for me. I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of Look at Me but it is undeniable that the writing was good. I say this because Sarah Deguid genuinely managed to creep me out. Her story telling was exceptional in the sense that the character driven tale was really engaging and you felt Lizzy’s discomfort so fervently that it could quite easily be your own discomfort. So whilst I say I didn’t like the book it was not because it wasn’t good but I was so uncomfortable that it made me not like it which in my view is the sign of good writing.

Sorry Sarah Deguid, I didn’t like your book but in the most positive way.

Look at Me by Sarah Deguid is available now.

For more information regarding Tinder Press (@TinderPress) please visit www.tinderpress.co.uk.

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