The French Whale ExchangeTitle: The French Exchange Whale

Author: Cal King

Pages: 176 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

It’s said that everyone has a book inside them. Cal King doesn’t have just one though; he’s bursting with ideas for everything from children’s books to (in his mind) prize-winning novels.

Unfortunately for Cal, his ideas are all a bit silly. However, refusing to be deterred by rejections from publishers and agents (or the laughter of his girlfriend) he managed to secure a meeting at a top publisher and arrived at their London offices with a head full of dreams and a folder full of concepts.

At the end of the meeting (during which the editor seemed to have the most terrible cough) it was gently suggested that Cal compile his pitches into a collection of ‘terrible book ideas’ for the joke book market. Slightly hurt by this suggestion, but driven by a desperate and all-consuming need for approval, he agreed. And here it is . . .

The Review

Sometimes you just want a bit of whimsy to get you through your day. If this sounds like you, that you are forever on the whimsical hunt then look no further just pick up The French Exchange Whale by Cal King. It is a book about books. Actually it is a book about books that you will never read for they are all the plots to the books that Cal King has never had published.

Now I don’t know what this says about me but some of the story ideas that Cal King put forward actually sounded pretty good and totally books that I would read. Sadly, all of these ideas have been kaiboshed and I don’t think we will find them on the shelves of your local bookshop anytime soon.

You should, however, request this book in your Christmas stocking. It is charming and entertaining. Definitely give it a read.

The French Exchange Whale by Cal King is available now.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit www.hodder.co.uk.

3 Stars

When Dimple Met RishiTitle: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

The arranged marriage YA romcom you didn’t know you wanted or needed…

Meet Dimple.

Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.

He’s rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she’s got other plans…

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI is a frothy, funny contemporary romance set at a coding convention in San Francisco over one exciting summer. Told from the dual perspectives of two Indian American protagonists, Dimple is fighting her family traditions while Rishi couldn’t be happier to follow in the footsteps of his parents. Could sparks fly between this odd couple, or is this matchmaking attempt doomed to fail?

The Review

Some characters are destined to be together. All the stars align, time stops and the only two people in this (fictional) world are your protagonists.

Or, in the case of Dimple and Rishi they have been set up by both sets of parents to fulfil the requirements set in their Indian culture to marry within the race. This is the set up of When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. It is book that looks at how tradition plays part in modern society.

You have Dimple who is determined to break the mould, the glass ceiling, the…everything as long as she doesn’t have to conform to her parental expectations. Rishi is her total opposite in that he wants to carry on the tradition. He wants to be partnered with a good match, fall in love in a practical way. And even though they are worlds apart in their views, when they collide you cannot help but notice the chemistry.

When Dimple Met Rishi is brilliant. It is a modern twist on a will they won’t they story that just keeps giving. The only problem I had with Sandhya Menon’s fabulous YA novel is that 384 pages just wasn’t enough. I wanted more.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon is available now.

For more information regarding Sandhya Menon (@smenonboooks) please visit www.sandhyamenon.com.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit www.hodder.co.uk.

4 Stars

He Said She SaidTitle: He Said/She Said

Author: Erin Kelly

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton/St Martin’s Press/Minotaur Press

The Blurb

Who do you believe? 

He said it was consensual.
The woman said nothing. 
But Laura saw it… 
… didn’t she?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura and Kit interrupt something awful.

Laura is sure about what happened. Later, in a panic, she tells a little white lie – and four lives are changed irreparably.

When the victim turns up on their doorstep, her gratitude spills into dangerous obsession. Laura and Kit decide to run – but Beth knows they have pledged to see every eclipse together. They will never be able to entirely escape her.

As the next eclipse draws near, Laura must confront the fallout from what she saw in the darkness. Confessing will cost her marriage; keeping the secret might prove fatal.

But all secrets, sooner or later, will come to light.

The Review

Oh, there are just some topics in books that are hard to read about and I’m guessing even harder to write about. In this case, that topic is rape. In He Said/She Said author Erin Kelly writes about a case of rape whereby both parties argue different things. He says it was consensual, she says it wasn’t. It is said that in most crimes you are innocent until proven guilty. With rape cases it is the victim who is seen as a liar until proven otherwise. Kelly shines a light on this debate in He Said/She Said.

It wasn’t the fastest paced book which for a thriller I was expecting much snappier timing what I will say is that Kelly has plotted some excellent twists and turn that did leave me gasping out loud with shock.

The paranoia that her character Laura possesses was excellently executed. In fact Kelly’s characterisations across the novel were brilliant. He Said/She Said is just a dark portrayal of how lives can be ruined by lies….but also by the truth.

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly is available now.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit www.hodder.co.uk.

For more information regarding St Martin’s Press (@StMartinsPress) please visit us.macmillan.com/smp.aspx.

For more information regarding Minotaur Books (@MinotaurBooks)please visit www.minotaur.com.

4 Stars

The Soundtrack to my LifeThe Blurb

Dermot O’Leary has always loved music. Throughout his life and career, music has been a constant companion, best friend, confidant and at times, tormentor.

The Soundtrack to My Life is Dermot’s personal memoir of a life in music told through the songs that were playing at key moments in his life. With a wonderful gift for storytelling, Dermot describes his journey from a childhood in Colchester with his Irish family, to some of the biggest jobs in TV and radio in the UK. It’s a story which is accompanied, in every scene, by music.

Dermot would be the first to admit, they are not all great songs. This isn’t Desert Island Discs; the songs chose him, not the other way round. Dermot went to his first gig at the age of nine, and saw Irish troubadour Brendan Shine, he roller-skated to Baby I Can’t Wait by Nu Shooz and got his first job in TV while the Macarana was playing everywhere. Constantly.

But, other songs playing in the background to his life – songs by The Smiths, Elbow, The Pogues or Bruce Springsteen, are tracks & artists which he truly loves and will always love, and not just for the memories they evoke.

Funny, engaging and full of surprises, this is Dermot’s memoir and his essential soundtrack to his life.

(Amazon)

The Review

Let’s face it, we all love Dermot O’Leary and if you don’t then a) you’re in the minority and b) what the heck is wrong with you?

In his brilliant memoir The Soundtrack to My Life, Dermot tells tales of his growing up and associates them with songs (some good, some downright awful) that have shaped his existence. Now some might say, why has this fresh faced presenter of TV and Radio wrote a memoir, he only, like, 12 (I’m possibly being a tad hyperbolic here) but believe it or not but Dermot is in fact in his forties. Furthermore, his career – which makes up a large portion of his memoir – took years of hard graft, perfecting a craft that we, as audience members, take for granted. I know for one I couldn’t present live TV….that doesn’t mean that I don’t pretend to…at home…to my audience of no one….anyway…awkward.

What is really good about this memoir is that you can hear Dermot O’Leary throughout. I know that sounds a little obvious but I have read memoirs that have been written by ghost writers and you get the sense that the subject of the memoir hasn’t really had much input. Not The Soundtrack to My Life. It screams Dermot O’Leary. His little asides seem natural and truly make you smile. Dermot comes across as self-effacing, humble and most importantly (to me, anyway) a true lover of music.

This is a brilliant memoir, even if Dermot is not your favourite person The Soundtrack to My Life makes you think of your own personal soundtrack. Keep your eyes peeled for my soundtrack post coming soon on LisaTalksAbout.com.

The Soundtrack to My Life by Dermot O’Leary is available now.

Follow Dermot O’Leary (@radioleary) on Twitter.

4 Stars

Hot FeministTitle: Hot Feminist

Author: Polly Vernon

Pages: 359 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Staunton

The Blurb

‘Bold, brilliant, sharp and funny…it urges women to be less judgemental of each other and of themselves. It’s an idea that shouldn’t be revolutionary but is.’ Elizabeth Day

Polly Vernon, Grazia columnist, Times feature writer (hair-flicker, Brazilian-waxer, jeans obsessive, outrageous flirt) presents a brave new perspective on feminism.

Drawing on her dedicated, life-long pursuit of hotness – having dismissed many of the rules on ‘good’ feminism at some point in the early 90s – she’ll teach you everything you ever wanted to know about being a feminist when you care about how you look. When part of your brain is constantly monologuing on fashion. When you check out your own reflection in every reflective surface. When your depilation practices are pretty much out of control. When you just really want to be fancied.

Hot Feminist is based on a principle of non-judgment (because there’s enough already), honesty about how often we mess this up, and empowerment through looks. Part memoir, part road map, it’s a rolling, raucous rejection of all those things we’re convinced we shouldn’t think / wear/ feel/ say/ buy/ want – and a celebration of all the things we can.

It is modern feminism, with style, without judgment

The Review

Lately I have been dipping a toe into the pool of feminism. I would like to believe I am a feminist – not a staunch one who burns my bra or throws myself under a horse but I do believe that being female shouldn’t automatically put you at a disadvantage. I believe that we should all have equal rights and my biggest bug bear on this topic is the discrepancy in pay. However, after reading a few books on the topic of feminism, I have realised that I am more of an observer –I’m not a doer. This made me a bit sad.

Salvation has come (in a sense) with Polly Vernon’s book Hot Feminist. In her book, Vernon veers away from traditional feminism and encourages you to create your own style. Vernon argues that it is ok to want to look good and still want equal pay; it is ok to have relationships with men without thinking that they are trying to hold you back; basically, Polly Vernon’s overall message is that it is ok to be a modern day feminist.

I do feel that parts of the central theme went off track in the middle of the book. However, that could be just that the whole section on what you can wear just didn’t interest me personally.

What I did find really encouraging is that Vernon used the opinions of her friends rather than just having her own beliefs dominating the stories in Hot Feminist. Through this you saw how modern day women are still working their backsides off to get equality and doing it when also maintaining a sense of identity.

Hot Feminist is an interesting take of modern day feminism and it is the perfect size to fit in your handbag (tongue, firmly, in cheek).

Hot Feminist by Polly Vernon is available now.

Follow Polly Vernon (@PollyVernon) on Twitter.

For more information about Hodder and Staughton (@HodderBooks) titles please visit the official website www.hodder.co.uk.

35 Stars