Title: The Dollmaker

Author: Nina Allan

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Quercus Books/Riverrun Books

The Blurb

INFORMATION WANTED ON THE LIFE AND WORK OF DOLLMAKER EWA CHAPLIN AND/OR FRIENDSHIP, CORRESPONDENCE. PLEASE REPLY TO: BRAMBER WINTERS.

Stitch by perfect stitch, Andrew Garvie makes exquisite dolls in the finest antique style. Like him, they are diminutive, but graceful, unique and with surprising depths. Perhaps that’s why he answers the enigmatic personal ad in his collector’s magazine.

Letter by letter, Bramber Winters reveals more of her strange, sheltered life in an institution on Bodmin Moor, and the terrible events that put her there as a child. Andrew knows what it is to be trapped; and as they knit closer together, he weaves a curious plan to rescue her.

On his journey through the old towns of England he reads the fairytales of Ewa Chaplin – potent, eldritch stories which, like her lifelike dolls, pluck at the edges of reality and thread their way into his mind. When Andrew and Bramber meet at last, they will have a choice – to remain alone with their painful pasts or break free and, unlike their dolls, come to life.

A love story of two very real, unusual people, The Dollmaker is also a novel rich with wonders: Andrew’s quest and Bramber’s letters unspool around the dark fables that give our familiar world an uncanny edge. It is this touch of magic that, like the blink of a doll’s eyes, tricks our own . . .

The Review

The rave reviews surrounding The Dollmaker by Nina Allan had totally whetted my appetite. I was eager to read it. I really thought I would enjoy the story – modern day life mixed with fairy tales.

Sadly, I didn’t like it.

I just didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why the fairy tales mirrored reality so precisely that I felt that I was reading the same story over and over again. Then when the two morphed into one I was thrown even more.

I think to read The Dollmaker you really need to be able to suspend your disbelief because if you start questioning things too much, then you, like me, will probably find the whole thing a bit boring and confusing.

The Dollmaker by Nina Allan is available now.

For more information regarding Riverrun Books (@riverrunbooks) please visit www.riverrunbooks.co.uk.

For more information regarding Quercus Books (QuercusBooks@) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: All of This is True

Author: Lygia Day Penaflor

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

When four Long Island teens plot to meet Fatima Ro, the elusive author of their favourite novel, they’re stunned when she befriends them and invites them into her eccentric life. Suddenly their lives seem charmed, and as they grow closer to their idol, they find themselves revealing their darkest secrets to her.

But a year later, Miri, Soleil, Jonah and Penny are shocked to discover that Fatima’s newly released YA novel is based on those same secrets. The revelations are devastating, and they can’t escape the spotlight. The friends’ interview transcripts, emails and journal entries reveal how willing they were to sacrifice everything to win Fatima’s approval – and how those sacrifices led to a tragedy from which one of them will never recover.

The Review

One thing I really like in books is when I have a handful of narrators that all see the story a specific way. They are all unreliable because their truth is not the same as someone else’s. This is why I really enjoyed All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor.

It is a story set in high school so there is already a he-said-she-said element to the narrative. Add in a mystery, an author, and a character in hospital with life threatening injuries then you really do have the making of a good thriller.

What the author really manages to highlight is the fundamental need to be seen and acknowledged. She shows how this is a spectrum depending on the need of the character and how that can be manifested in both good and negative ways.

I really liked All of This is True. I loved the mixed media element of storytelling and how distinct the different character voices where. As far as YA Thrillers go then All of This is True is a brilliant poster book for the genre.

All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor is available now.

For more information regarding Lygia Day Penaflor (@lygiaday) please visit www.lygiadaypenflor.com.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury (@BloomsburyBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

Title: Black Music Greats

Author: Olivier Cachin

Pages: 96 Pages

Publisher: Quarto Publishing Groups

The Blurb

The biggest names … the coolest sounds … the 40 most inspirational movers, shakers, and innovators in black music are here! In this fun, fact-packed book from the 40 Inspiring Icons series, learn how these black musicians changed music, from the creation of blues to the invention of rap.

Meet the Godfather of Funk, the High Priestess of Soul, and the King of Reggae. Learn how Marvin Gaye shaped the sound of Motown, how N.W.A. redefined rap, and what made the Supremes, supreme. From Robert Johnson, who recorded one of the first examples of the blues in 1936, to rap superstar Drake, whose 2012 album Views spent 13 weeks at number one on the US Billboard 200, these are the 40 black artists to be listened to and learned about by all:

Robert Johnson; Nina Simone; James Brown; Sly & the Family Stone; Miles Davis; Diana Ross & the Supremes; The Jackson 5; Marvin Gaye; Stevie Wonder; Aretha Franklin; Earth, Wind & Fire; Isaac Hayes; Tina Turner; Donna Summer; Bob Marley & the Wailers; Prince; Fela Kuti; The Last Poets; Chic; The Sugarhill Gang; Run-DMC; Eric B. & Rakim; Public Enemy; N.W.A.; Whitney Houston; 2Pac; The Fugees; Snoop Dogg; The Notorious B.I.G.; Erykah Badu; Jay-Z; Missy Elliott; Kanye West; Beyoncé; Pharrell Williams; Rihanna; Lil Wayne; Drake; Nicki Minaj; The Weeknd;

Each spread presents a single musician or band, highlighting key facts about their background, most popular songs, most iconic shows, genre-defining techniques, friends, rivals, and nicknames, along with a fun, illustrated depiction of them that calls out elements of their signature style.

With so many icons to choose from, which will you add to your playlist?

The Review

Black Music Greats is a book that looks over the history of music and focuses on black artists who have made a cultural impact. It looks at motown, rap, jazz, soul and many other subgenres. There are so many artists who are mentioned that you know and love that it makes you want to go and listen to their albums

My problem with the book Black Music Greats is that there is very little information given. There just doesn’t seem like enough about each artist. I felt that the above blurb has more narrative than the individual artists.

If I am honest, I was very disappointed.

Black Music Greats by Olivier Cachin is available now.

Title: The Day We Met

Author: Roxie Cooper

Pages: 464 Pages

Publisher: Ebury Publishing

The Blurb

Stephanie doesn’t believe in fate, true love or living happily ever after. She’s content enough being engaged to Matt. But then she meets Jamie, who understands her more than anyone else ever has.

Jamie is happily married to his childhood sweetheart Helen and believes in everything Stephanie doesn’t. So why does he have such a strong connection with Stephanie?

When Stephanie and Jamie meet one fateful weekend in 2006 it will change everything…

Ten years. Two people. One epic love story.

The Review

The Day We Met is a modern day love story in the same ilk as One Day. It tells the love story of Stephanie and Matt – an almost couple. They are two people drawn together but know they cannot be together. Why can’t they be together? Well, they both have partners. Instead, they choose to meet at the same venue every year and get to know each other better.

Ok. This is a difficult one because I really liked The Day We Met. The writing was easy to read; I liked the characterisation; I liked that the multi-perspective narrative really did feel like two separate characters. I also liked the fact that the book came with a playlist to match the moods of the chapters. That is always a big win for me. However, I dislike that I liked the book because of the whole element of extra-marital relations. Roxie Cooper is really clever in that she managed to get me to fall in love with the characters and the story whilst it goes against something I find morally reprehensible.

I really think you should read this book if you enjoy romantic stories. It is a wonderfully written book and one that will leave you questioning your own beliefs while rooting for the protagonists.

The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper is available now.

For more information regarding Roxie Cooper (@toodletinkbaby) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Ebury (@EburyPublishing) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: If Only I Could Tell You

Author: Hannah Beckerman

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Orion Publishing

The Blurb

Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected.

As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?

The Review

Hannah Beckerman has made me ugly cry.

If Only I Could Tell You is a story how one family deals with grief. Audrey’s two daughters have spent 30 years not talking to each other and Audrey has had enough. She is desperate to bridge the gap between her children before it is too late.

Told from multi-perspective and from various different time frames you really do find yourself immersed in the world that Beckerman has woven. She is very good at pulling the rug from under your feet. Things you thought to be true aren’t. You empathise with characters that you don’t necessarily feel that you should. Most of all you feel Audrey’s sense of frustration and the ever pressing notion that time is ticking away.

Hannah Beckerman has done something that I think only a few writers do really well and that is take a really contentious topic and make you see every side of the argument until you cannot decide with whom you should side with. For me, that is a sign of a great writer and an excellent story.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman is available now.

For more information regarding Hannah Beckerman (@hannahbeckerman) please visit www.hannahbeckerman.com.

For more information regarding Orion Publishing (@orionbooks) please visit www.orionbooks.co.uk.