Title: How to Kill Your Family

Author: Bella Mackie

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

I have killed several people (some brutally, others calmly) and yet I currently languish in jail for a murder I did not commit.

When I think about what I actually did, I feel somewhat sad that nobody will ever know about the complex operation that I undertook. Getting away with it is highly preferable, of course, but perhaps when I’m long gone, someone will open an old safe and find this confession. The public would reel. After all, almost nobody else in the world can possibly understand how someone, by the tender age of 28, can have calmly killed six members of her family. And then happily got on with the rest of her life, never to regret a thing.

A wickedly dark romp about class, family, love… and murder.

Outrageously funny, compulsive and subversive, perfect for fans of Killing Eve and My Sister, the Serial Killer.

The Review

It is fair to say that How to Kill Your Family is not an ironic title for this book. In Bella Mackie’s story we meet Grace Bernard who sets out on a pilgrimage to kill the members of her family. All very Ronseal so far. It does what it says on the tin…or the book cover in this case.

Through the story we learn about Bella’s past. About the struggles of her mother and the absentee father and we see where she gets he homicidal motivation.

How to Kill Your Family reminded me of the Sweetpea by CJ Skuse. Yet what made the Sweetpea series so interesting is that the protagonist didn’t necessarily always justify her motivations which for me made the book more enjoyable and whilst I did really like How to Kill Your Family, Grace lacked the lackisdaisical and glib nature to make her a memorable serial killer.

How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie is available now.

For more information regarding Bella Mackie (@bellamackie) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: We Can Do Better than This – 35 Voices on the Future of LGBTQ+ Rights

Author: Amelia Abraham

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK

The Blurb

How can we create a better world for LGBTQ+ people? 35 extraordinary voices share their stories and visions for the future.

We talk about achieving ‘LGBTQ+ equality’, but around the world, LGBTQ+ people are still suffering discrimination and extreme violence. How do we solve this urgent problem, allowing queer people everywhere the opportunity to thrive?

In We Can Do Better Than This, 35 voices explore this question. Through deeply moving stories and provocative new arguments on safety and visibility, dating and gender, care and community, they map new global frontiers in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

Pabllo Vittar pleads for the end of hate murders, Olly Alexander champions inclusive sex education in schools, and Beth Ditto calls for a revolution in representation. Elsewhere, Mykki Blanco sets out a vision to end HIV stigma, Owen Jones demands improved LGBTQ+ mental health services, and Travis Alabanza imagines a world without gender policing.

Moving from the UK and USA to Russia, Bangladesh and beyond, this is a guide to understanding the crucial issues facing LGBTQ+ people today. But it’s also a passionate call to action and an important manifesto for how – together – we can start to create a better future.

Edited by journalist and author Amelia Abraham, with writing from:

Peppermint – Wolfgang Tillmans – Olly Alexander – Jonathan Anderson – Pabllo Vittar – Naoise Dolan – Amrou Al-Kadhi – Shura – Beth Ditto – Owen Jones – Riyadh Khalaf – Tom Rasmussen – Mykki Blanco – Phyll Opoku-Gyimah – Travis Alabanza – Yasmin Benoit – Mazharul Islam – Kate Bornstein – Adam Eli – Shon Faye – Fox Fisher – Hanne Gaby Odiele – Sasha Kazantseva – Andrew Gurza – Holland – Levi Hord – Juliet Jacques – Leticia Opio – madison moore – Matthew Riemer (@LGBT_History) – Vincent Desmond – Juno Roche – Bobbi Salvör Menuez – Carl Siciliano

The Review

During PRIDE month I read a fair bit of LGBTQIA+ writing. Come to think of it a large portion of my reading does link to the LGBTQIA+ community regardless of month. And much like the other texts that I have read We Can Do Better than This really hot home to me how far things have come but equally how far they still have to go.

With impassioned voices fighting the cause, We Can Do Better than This highlights the issues that are still so relevant and that I, as a cis white female, sometimes take for granted. It isn’t my lived experience. What I can do is be an ally.

We Can Do Better than This is a call to arms to get people to join in this fight for equality. It is essential reading and you should read it now.

We Can Do Better than This by Amelia Abraham is available now.

For more information regarding Amelia Abraham (@MillyAbraham) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhouse.com.

Title: The Phone Box at the Edge of the World

Author: Laura Imai Messina

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Bonnier Books

The Blurb

We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue. Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people will travel there from miles around.

Soon Yui will make her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking.

The Review

Nearly every book that I have read that has been translated from another language I have found to be enjoyable. The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina is no exception. It is the story of Yui. She is a survivor of a tsunami yet she is trapped by a tsunami of guilt over the death of her mother and daughter. When she hears of a telephone box that somehow helps victims of grief she is drawn on a pilgrimage to the spot. When she gets there Yui can’t bring herself to enter the phone box and we see her cling on to her guilt.

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World is a gorgeous story that is so hopeful about the future and discusses grief and promises that acceptance of loss does not mean that you are guilty but that life does move on. In allowing herself to move forward with her life she releases herself from survivors guilt.

Overall, The Phone Box at the Edge of the World is a story of loss and hope. The story is so beautifully told that you cannot help but feel uplifted by it.

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina is available now.

For more information regarding Laura Imai Messina (@LaImsiMessina) please visit www.lauraimaimessina.com.

For more information regarding Bonnier Books (@bonnierbooks_uk) please visit www.bonnierbooks.co.uk.

Title: Guard Your Heart

Author: Sue Divin

Pages: 337 Pages

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

The Blurb

Boy meets girl on the Northern Irish border in Guard Your Heart, by Sue Divin.

Derry. Summer 2016. Aidan and Iona, now eighteen, were both born on the day of the Northern Ireland peace deal.

Aidan is Catholic, Irish, and Republican. With his ex-political prisoner father gone and his mother dead, Aidan’s hope is pinned on exam results earning him a one-way ticket out of Derry. To anywhere.

Iona, Protestant and British, has a brother and father in the police. She’s got university ambitions, a strong faith and a fervent belief that boys without one track minds are a myth.

At a post-exam party, Aidan wanders alone across the Peace Bridge and becomes the victim of a brutal sectarian attack. Iona witnessed the attack; picked up Aidan’s phone and filmed what happened, and gets in touch with him to return the phone. When the two meet, alone and on neutral territory, the differences between them seem insurmountable. 

Both their fathers held guns, but safer to keep that secret for now.

Despite their differences and the secrets they have to keep from each other, there is mutual intrigue, and their friendship grows. And so what? It’s not the Troubles. But for both Iona and Aidan it seems like everything is keeping them apart , when all they want is to be together . . .

The Review

Guard Your Heart is a modern day Romeo and Juliet story set in Ireland that shows the modern day impact of the troubles and how years of prejudice still runs rife in the country. In this story Aiden (a catholic) and Iona (a protestant) are thrown together when Aiden is attacked and Iona films it on her phone. She manages to stop the attack by threatening to go to the police with the evidence. Iona and Aiden’s love story starts with this one act of selflessness.

Among this story of forbidden love, prejudice, and religion is a story of class difference. How a persons station in life is determined by so many different factors and the hopelessness that you feel can be overwhelming.

Overall, I really liked Guard Your Heart. At times, I did feel the pacing of the story was a bit slow but the final third of the novel had me reading as fast as I could and making me lose my breath. The sign of great writing in my opinion.

Guard Your Heart by Sue Divin is available now.

For more information regarding Sue Divin (@absolutelywrite) please visit www.suedivin.com.

For more information regarding Macmillan Children’s Books (@MacmillanKidsUK) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: The Education of Ivy Edwards

Author: Hannah Tovey

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK

The Blurb

Adult life is hard. Send help. 

Ivy Edwards is thirty-one years old, funny, shameless, and a bit of a romantic. 

She’s also currently trying not to cry in the office toilet.

Partly because she’s just run out of money for fags. A bit because her mum continues to annoy her. Definitely not because she’s just been dumped by her fiancé.

With her London life in shambles and her family miles away in the Welsh valleys, Ivy doesn’t actually feel like she belongs anywhere.

At least, she has her friends – and a bottle of vodka.

Embarking on a journey of singlehood, Ivy is about to discover that sometimes, having your life fall apart can be surprisingly fun. 

The Review

Oh boy. Well I didn’t hate The Education of Ivy Edwards but I didn’t love it either.

The Education of Ivy Edwards is about a woman called Ivy whose life unceremoniously falls apart when her fiance dumps her. So you are made to feel sorry for Ivy pretty early on, yet as the novel progresses her choices are so frustrating that she becomes unlikable pretty quickly.

There are some good aspects to the story. Her sisters struggle with fertility is interesting as is the failing health of her grandfather. Ivy’s relationship with her mother deserved more attention than it was given.

I really did fail to connect with this book and felt that the redemption or the ‘education’ of Ivy Edwards came far too late in the novel to really turn my opinion around.

The Education of Ivy Edwards by Hannah Tovey is available now.

For more information regarding Hannah Tovey (@hannahctovey) please visit www.hannahtovey.com.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group UK (@littlebrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.