Title: Last Lesson

Author: James Goodhand

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Blurb

Last year, Ollie Morcombe was a star pupil, popular and a gifted musician.

Then, after the accident, everything changed. Now he’s an outcast, a prime target of the school bullies who have made his life a living hell.

Today – the last day of the school year – he’s brought those bullies a gift. A homemade pipe bomb.

What has driven a model student to plan an unspeakable revenge? And with the clock ticking down to home time, what can anybody do to stop him?

The Review

Last Lesson focuses on Ollie who has been through some massive change in the past 12 months and they have had a profound effect on him and how he is handling life. For Ollie, he can only see one option. To get revenge on the people that have been making his life hell. He plans to kill them all in their last lesson of high school.

What a complex topic wrapped in a really readable novel. James Goodhand has looked at many complicated issues within his novel Last Lesson. He looks at the hierarchy within the school system, he looks at grief and he looks at mental health.

I think what Goodhand has done well with Last Lesson is to look at the complexities of mental health and its correlation with extremism. He has handled it sensitively and without pushing blame or agenda other than trying to help you spot the signs.

It seems strange to say I enjoyed this novel because I shouldn’t have enjoyed a novel which has such a sad message but it is hard not to like it. Goodhand is a great writer who engages you in the story and really makes you care for the characters. It will be interesting to see what he writes next.

Last Lesson by James Goodhand is available now.

For more information regarding James Goodhand (@goodhand_james) please visit his Twitter page.

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

Title: Super Chill – A Year of Living Anxiously

Author: Adam Ellis

Pages: 120 Pages

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

The Blurb

From former Buzzfeed illustrator Adam Ellis comes a collection of autobiographical comics that follows a year in the artist’s life.

Adam’s comics deal with weightier topics like seasonal affective disorder and struggles with self-esteem, while also touching on the silly and absurd—like his brief, but intense obsession with crystals. With a bright, positive outlook and a sense of humor, Super Chill tells a story that is both highly relatable and intensely personal.

The Review

Anxiety is such a personal thing. It is getting more and more media attention but there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the subject. Adam Ellis’ book Super Chill shows how anxiety affects him. What is brilliant about this small collection of cartons is that it helps you see visual representations of how anxiety and mental health and alls you to not only empathise with a personas situation but make you realise how you really aren’t alone in feeling the way you feel.

Ellis presents his anxiety in many ways. Sometimes it is all consuming and other times he focuses on how ridiculous it is. Overall, Super Chill is a sweet book that reminds us all that we are not alone.

Super Chill – A Year of Living Anxiously by Adam Ellis is available now.

For more information regarding Adam Ellis (@moby_dickhead) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Andrews McMeel Publishing (@andrewsmcmeel) please visit www.andrewsmcmeel.com.

Title: Ten Days in a Mad House

Author: Nellie Bly

Pages: 102 Pages

Publisher: Self Published

The Blurb

Ten Days in a Madhouse is Nellie Bly’s (Elizabeth Jane Cochrane Seaman) account of her ten days in a madhouse in New York in 1887. Bly, in an act of stunt journalism that wold make her famous, pretended to be mildly insane so she would be sent to an asylum to see first hand what one was like.

To begin the process she goes to a rooming house and one night she stays up all night staring at the wall. The stare fest alerts her roommate and scares the homeowner and the next day she fixates on her lost trunk and insists on finding it. At the same time she continually talks about too many foreigners and never having worked, which both seem strange to the working class people she is rooming with. These three things are sufficient for her to land before a judge and eventually in the madhouse where she endures the arbitrary and vindictive rule of the nurses who are little better than street toughs.

At the end of ten days a lawyer from her paper the World secures her release.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I first came across the name Nellie Bly when I read The Address by Fiona Davis. I had never heard of this brave woman before and my curiosity was instantly peaked. You see, I have a long lasting and visceral response to people who end up in asylums – an archaic term I know but I have no issue with people looking after their mental health but it is in asylums and sanatoriums in the 19th and early 20th century that really fascinate me due to the abuse of power within the patriarchy and within the institutions themselves. It makes me really angry when I think about it.

Therefore, when I learned that Nellie Bly put herself in a famous asylum for a news report I couldn’t help but marvel at how gutsy and ballsy she must have been. Equally, she must have been so trusting of her colleagues to get her out eventually. During this time period a woman would have required a man to be her guarantor and if they decided that she was crazy they could have left her to rot. Furthermore, she would have sounded more insane by saying she was sane. It was a risky article to take on.

Whilst there, Nellie Bly uncovered the harsh and degrading ways that people with health conditions were treated and it is without a doubt that her pioneering reportage managed to change the ways of mental health care and pave the way for more professionalism within these places.

Ten Days in a Mad House by Nellie Bly is available now.

Title: It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (and Other Lies)

Author: Scarlett Curtis (ed.)

Pages: 576 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

It’s OK if everything might feel a bit overwhelming.
It’s OK to talk about it.
It’s OK to not want to talk about it.
It’s OK to find it funny.
It’s OK to be human.

Over 70 people have shared their powerful, funny and moving stories exploring their own mental health, including Sam Smith, Emilia Clarke, Candice Carty-Williams and Adam Kay.

One in four of us will experience a mental health issue. This book is here to tell you, or someone you care about, it’s OK.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

In these uncertain times that we live in people are beginning to own their own mental health. None of us, even those we consider to be superhuman, are exempt from sometimes suffering with their mental wellbeing. What is great about this collection edited by Scarlett Curtis is that those people that we often put on a pedestal and see as a hero also have their own demons that they are dealing with.

This is a great collection to dip in an out of when you need that morale boost and when you need to see that other people are dealing with things too. The more our mental health is normalised and seen as something we should be protecting the less stigma there will be around the issue.

It’s Not OK to Feel Blue (and Other Lies) by Scarlett Curtis is available now.

For more information regarding Scarlett Curtis (@sarcurtis) please visit her Twitter page.

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

Title: Queenie

Author: Candice Carty Williams

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Trapeze

The Blurb

Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah in this disarmingly honest, boldly political, and truly inclusive novel that will speak to anyone who has gone looking for love and found something very different in its place.

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

The Review

Queenie is a fabulous story of a young girl who is trying to find her place, find who she is and do so with the added discomfort of the gentrification in the world as she knows it.

I loved Queenie. Whilst I cannot state that I know what it is like to be black (a stupid thing to say, I know) I felt that throughout Queenie that Carty Williams has made the experience of being a girl in her 20s so relatable. I am no longer in my mid-20s but boy would this book have been handy when I was struggling to translate that difficult time in my life.

For me, one of the best things about Queenie is that although she goes through a lot you finish the story feeling hopeful.

I really hope Queenie gets optioned for a TV series. It was so damn good.

Queenie by Candice Carty Williams is available now.

For more information regarding Candice Carty Williams (@CandiceC_W) please visit www.candicecartywilliams.com.

For more information regarding Trapeze (@TrapezeBooks) please visit instagram.com/trapeze_books/