Title: How to Say Goodbye

Author: Katy Colins

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

No one is ever happy to see Grace Salmon.

As a funeral arranger, she’s responsible for steering strangers through the hardest day of their lives. It’s not a task many would want – but, for Grace, giving people the chance to say a proper goodbye to the ones they love is the most important job in the world.

From the flowers in the church to the drinks served at the wake,Grace knows it’s the personal touches that count – and it’s amazing what you can find out about someone from their grieving relatives … or their Facebook page. But when she accidentally finds out too much about someone who’s died, Grace is finally forced to step out of the shadows… and start living.

(Goodreads Blurb)

The Review

How to Say Goodbye is the beautiful story of how it is heartbreaking but healing to deal with grief. Our protagonist – Grace Salmon – works as a funeral arranger however, she feels that her job is more than that. Her job is allowing people to say goodbye to their loved ones and making their goodbyes memorable. It is this level of concern and care that leads her in to trouble.

I loved How to Say Goodbye. Considering the setting and topic of the novel it is surprisingly uplifting. We get completely swept up in this small world of grief and the healing power of friendship. 

I am not ashamed to say that I shed a little tear when reading this book. Colins storytelling was simple but effective. Colins adds twists to the story to keep you on your toes which only adds to the drama and serves to keep you reading. How to Say Goodbye is a triumph of a novel.

How to Say Goodbye by Katy Colins is available now.

For more information regarding Katy Colins (@Notwedordead) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQStories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Our Story

Author: Miranda Dickinson

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

Otty has just landed her dream job. She’s about to join the writing team of one of the most respected showrunners in TV. And then the night before her first day, she’s evicted from her flat.

Joe has been working with Russell for years. He’s the best writer on his team, but lately something has been off. He’s trying to get his mojo back, but when his flatmate moves out without warning he has other things to worry about.

Otty moving into Joe’s house seems like the perfect solution to both their problems, but neither is prepared for what happens next. Paired together in the writing room, their obvious chemistry sparks from the page and they are the writing duo to beat. But their relationship off the page is an entirely different story, and neither of them can figure out why.

And suddenly the question isn’t, will they, or won’t they? It’s why won’t they?

An epic and modern love story for our times, we will all see ourselves reflected in Otty and Joe. We are our own biggest barriers and this novel explores what happens when we get out of our own way. And it is glorious.

The Review

Miranda Dickinson is like a warm blanket. All of her books have given me that comforted feeling, like bing wrapped up in a warm hug. She is an author that you can trust to make you feel good and give you the warm and fuzzies. Never more so than with her latest novel Our Story which – I have to say – I think is my favourite book of hers so far.

It is the story of Otty and Joe. Through kismet they became housemates, through living and working together they became friends and through excellent story telling I was yelling at them to become more than that – a classic kiss him/her you fool story played out as I read each page.

It is funny because you know they kind of stories that Miranda Dickinson writes and you know that with this genre that as a reader you have certain expectations which inevitably are met but when a writer can have you guessing to the very last minute if it will happen or not then you know they writer is worth her salt. 

I loved Our Story. It had the perfect amount of give and take, the dual narrative was perfect for the type of story and Dickinson really did make me want to read more but also slow my pace because I didn’t want the story to end. Absolutely fantastic.

Our Story by Miranda Dickinson is available 3rd September 2020.

For more information regarding Miranda Dickinson (@wurdsmyth) please visit www.miranda-dickinson.com.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQStories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Eleven Lines to Somewhere

Author: Alyson Rudd

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

In a world of what-ifs, a connection has been made…

When Ryan spots a young woman on the tube on his commute, he can’t take his eyes off her. Instantly attracted and intrigued, he’s keen to find out more about his mysterious fellow passenger.

The woman he thinks of as Millie spends all day travelling the Underground, unable to leave for reasons unbeknownst to Ryan. For some inexplicable reason, he just can’t shake the feeling he wants to help her escape her endless commute.

This is a story of love and loss from the author of The First Time Lauren Pailing Died, perfect for fans of Anna Hope’s Expectation, David Nicholls’s Sweet Sorrow and Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life.

The Review

Eleven Lines to Somewhere is the story of many people whose lives intersect on the London Underground. It mainly focuses on Ryan who is smitten with a fellow passenger. He desperately wants to make a connection with her but can’t seem to do it in a “normal” way. So he decides to follow her.

What we get with Eleven Lines to Somewhere is an intriguing story much like Love Actually meets Crash in which we all play a small role in each others lives, almost like the butterfly effect.

I will admit that it did take me a while to get into the story of Eleven Lives to Somewhere (almost a quarter of the way through the book) and I did find the constant referencing of which TfL lines were being used a bit tedious – it is probably tittilating for someone who uses the various lines frequently but at times it became a bit dizzying. However, once the story got into its full swing it became an enjoyable read. 

One downside is that Eleven Lines to Somewhere is a mixed bag of resolution. Some of the characters story was rounded off nicely whereas others I felt were left floating in the ether. However, Ryan’s journey is a good story to follow and I enjoyed getting to know this character.

Eleven Lines to Somewhere by Alyson Rudd is available now.

For more information regarding Alyson Rudd (@allyrudd_times) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding HQ (@HWStories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: I Carried a Watermelon – Dirty Dancing and Me

Author: Katy Brand

Pages: 249 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

I Carried a Watermelon is a love story to Dirty Dancing. A warm, witty and accessible look at how Katy Brand’s life-long obsession with the film has influenced her own attitudes to sex, love, romance, rights and responsibilities.

It explores the legacy of the film, from pushing women’s stories to the forefront of commercial cinema, to its ‘Gold Standard’ depiction of abortion according to leading pro-choice campaigners, and its fresh and powerful take on the classic ‘coming of age’ story told from a naïve but idealistic 17-year-old girl’s point of view.

Part memoir based on a personal obsession, part homage to a monster hit and a work of genius, Katy will explore her own memories and experiences, and talk to other fans of the film, to examine its legacy as a piece of filmmaking with a social agenda that many miss on first viewing. One of the most celebrated and viewed films ever made is about to have the time of its life.

The Review

It was the coronavirus isolation of 2020 and everyone was stuck inside and it didn’t occur to me to mind….okay that’s a lie. I was bored (but safe and lucky). So I decided to read I Carried a Watermelon. The reason was two-fold: 1) I like Katy Brand, I think she is funny and 2) I love Dirty Dancing. I don’t just love Dirty Dancing, I LOVE Dirty Dancing. It is a love that a few people have. An obsessive love, a love in which no one can speak badly about Dirty Dancing because I will fall out with them. I got the sense (cleverly through the title of the book and the picture on the cover of Katy Brand brandishing a watermelon) that Katy Brand liked it too.

I Carried a Watermelon is a fantastic memoir – it is funny, light hearted, silly in places but overall it connects with the reader through this shared love of the classic 80s film Dirty Dancing. Brand walks you through her childhood when we relied of video cassettes with the threat of them being worn out or in Brand’s case hidden by her father, the depression – when the remake was made (I wasn’t as brave as Brand – I saw it in snippets, I couldn’t watch the whole thing). But through it all she has this really positive attitude and pro-women-gung-ho-ness about her.

I loved it. I genuinely couldn’t put it down and I am so very jealous that she got to go to the real life Kellerman’s resort.

One thing is for sure, I will not be putting Katy Brand’s I Carried a Watermelon in the corner – that was a bit tenuous but you know what I mean.

I Carried a Watermelon by Katy Brand is available now.

For more information regarding Katy Brand (@KatyFBrand) please visit www.katybrandofficial.com.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Q

Author: Christina Dalcher

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s new elite schools. Her daughters are exactly like her: beautiful, ambitious, and perfect. A good thing, since the recent mandate that’s swept the country is all about perfection.

Now everyone must undergo routine tests for their quotient, Q, and any children who don’t measure up are placed into new government schools. Instead, teachers can focus on the gifted.

Elena tells herself it’s not about eugenics, not really, but when one of her daughters scores lower than expected and is taken away, she intentionally fails her own test to go with her.

But what Elena discovers is far more terrifying than she ever imagined…

The Review

I recently read Vox by Christina Dalcher and was suitably horrified by the world that she created in that story so I was eager to see what else she could do and boy was I impressed.

Q is a dystopian story that managed to scare me senseless. Dalcher’s take on society and eugenics was genuinely terrifying. I think more so because it has happened before and because in the society in which we live I can very easily see happening again if we aren’t careful.

Elena’s story of a mother’s love is at the heart of Q and makes you ache with what she is going through. You love and loathe characters with such ferocity and I think, in Elena’s husband Malcolm, Dalcher has created a villain that I hate nearly as much as I hate Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter.

I think that this book hit home for me because I work in a school and ranking systems are used. Not in the sinister way that are featured in Q but it is something that I am used to seeing. Who is to say that this dystopian ideal is not to be put in place in the future?

Q by Christina Dalcher is available now.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.