Title: Here is the Beehive

Author: Sarah Crossan

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

The Blurb

It happened,
again and again
and
again and again and again.

Together
apart.
In love
in aching.

Tangled
unravelling.

Ana and Connor have been having an affair for three years. In hotel rooms and coffee shops, swiftly deleted texts and briefly snatched weekends, they have built a world with none but the two of them in it.

But then the unimaginable happens, and Ana finds herself alone, trapped inside her secret.

How can we lose someone the world never knew was ours? How do we grieve for something no one else can ever find out? In her desperate bid for answers, Ana seeks out the shadowy figure who has always stood just beyond her reach – Connor’s wife Rebecca.

Peeling away the layers of two overlapping marriages, Here is the Beehive is a devastating excavation of risk, obsession and loss.

The Review

I have always loved Sarah Crossan’s style of storytelling through verse. I love her young adult stories and she is one of the few writers whose new book releases I will anticipate. However, I did find it hard to connect with Here is the Beehive and I think I know why.

Whereas One and Toffee are primarily for a younger audience, Here is the Beehive is very much a novel for adults. It focuses on the extra-marital affair of Ana and Connor and I think it was the quality of the problem that made me feel disconnected. With the protagonists in Crossan’s YA fiction I think I allow an additional level of sympathy. Whereas, I was very direct with my response to Ana and her problem. She, as an adult, chose to act on her feelings and I just couldn’t marry her actions with my own attitude towards them. I disagreed with the infidelity and therefore found it hard to sympathise with her.

However, I believe that this is actually a strength in Crossan’s case. It takes a talented writer to be able to make me read a book if I actively dislike the main character. That is actually quite impressive.

I think you should read Here is the Beehive and see if you have a similar response. Was it the same as mine?

Here is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan is available from 20th August 2020.

For more information regarding Sarah Crossan (@SarahCrossan) please visit her Twitter page.

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

Title: Very Nearly Normal

Author: Hannah Sutherland

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Avon

The Blurb

From a dazzling new talent in women’s fiction, comes a swimmingly beautiful love story with a little twist in the tail.

Effie’s not perfect. Neither is Theo. But together, they’re pretty close.

Matilda ‘Effie’ Heaton has always felt like she’s swimming against the tide. Everyone around her has life sorted, but Effie’s living with her parents and crying into a wine bottle at night. The only thing she loves is her job at a bookshop, where she can lose herself in other people’s stories.

But then she meets Theo, who knows only too well that life isn’t something to take for granted.

Because Theo has a life-changing secret, and as Effie starts to realise that she’s falling in love instead of falling apart, fate steps in and deals her a new hand. And this time, the stakes are high.

A gorgeous, heart-breaking read for fans of Jojo Moyes and Gail Honeyman.

The Review

I do love a good romantic story, however, as I have gotten older I have found that I need more. I need my romances to have a lot more substance. Enter Very Nearly Normal by Hannah Sutherland – the quirky love story of Effie and Theo.

Effie is, for want of a better phrase, a hot mess. She is the wrong side of her 20s, living at home with her parents, lacks any ambition, has had a handful of previous failures – romantic and career wise – and when we meet her she is on a disastrous Tinder date. She is the antithesis of the person you would want to be.

Enter Theo: A young dude who witnesses the aforementioned date and then starts to ardently pursue Effie. A love story for the ages.

Everything here seems so (very nearly) normal for a romantic comedy check list however Sutherland does make you work for your protagonist and her potential for a happy ending. For the most part, Effie has some really unlikable qualities. She is petulant and whiny, she talks to her mum like she is a piece of dog much that she has stepped in – in fact she is kind of like the living embodiment of the Harry Enfield Kevin character. She is a bit of an arse at times.

However, fall in love with Effie we do. We do this alongside Theo. He breaks through her tough shell and we begin to see the softer side of Effie.

But love is never simple and its course is never smooth. Very Nearly Normal is a bit of a bumpy ride.

I found Very Nearly Normal to be every bit the page turner that you want a novel to be. I fell completely for Effie and Theo and wished all good things for them. They are the kind of characters that you think about long after you have turned the final page and you wonder what happened to them next.

Very Nearly Normal is a brilliant romantic comedy…with a big dollop of substance.

Very Nearly Normal by Hannah Sutherland is available now.

For more information regarding Avon (@AvonBooksUK) please visit www.avonbooks.co.uk.

Title: Us Three

Author: Ruth Jones

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Random House/Transworld Publishers/Bantam Press

The Blurb

The new novel from Ruth Jones, author of the smash-hit, number one bestselling debut, Never Greener.

Meet Lana, Judith and Catrin. Best friends since primary school when they swore an oath on a Curly Wurly wrapper that they would always be there for each other, come what may.

After the trip of a lifetime, the three girls are closer than ever. But an unexpected turn of events shakes the foundation of their friendship to its core, leaving their future in doubt – there’s simply too much to forgive, let alone forget. An innocent childhood promise they once made now seems impossible to keep . . .

Packed with all the heart and empathy that made Ruth’s name as a screenwriter and now author, Us Three is a funny, moving and uplifting novel about life’s complications, the power of friendship and how it defines us all. Prepare to meet characters you’ll feel you’ve known all your life – prepare to meet Us Three.

The Review

What a heart-warming story. Lana, Judith and Catrin are best friends and have been since they can remember but when they begin to grow up and adulthood is on the horizon they inevitably begin to grow apart.

Told in a multi-perspective narrative form and during different time periods Us Three really does give the unique yet universal experience of belonging to a group of friends. Jones has captured the highs and lows of it perfectly.

I really loved reading Us Three. I loved the differentiation between the three main characters and how you didn’t have to work hard to figure out who was speaking – the character voices were so perfectly balanced for their personality. Jones makes it very easy for you to fall into their story. I also love that all you are kept on your toes throughout. You never see what is coming and when events do transpire your mind is blown how you didn’t see it all along. I was truly clueless as to where the plot was going but in the best possible way. Us Three can never be accused of being predictable.

Us Three is a brilliant novel that deals with the complexities of friendship and growing up.

Us Three by Ruth Jones is available from 3rd September 2020.

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

For more information regarding Bantam Press (@BantamPress) please visit www.bantam.press.

Title: Little Deaths

Author: Emma Flint

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

It’s the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.

Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation.

Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can’t help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.

Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive – is she really capable of murder?

Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths by Emma Flint is a gripping debut novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all.

The Review

Hmmm…Little Deaths. I don’t really know what I want to say about this story. It is a fictional story that has been inspired by real life events that looks closely at the relationship between women and the societal standards that they were held to in the 1960s.

Ruth Malone is a working class single mother of two. When she is accused of murder her whole life is scrutinised to determine whether she is guilty or not. They don’t just look at the evidence they look at her personally.

Whilst the writing in Little Deaths was very good, I personally felt that the pacing let it down. In one respect it allowed you to reflect and really empathise with Ruth but in the other respect it meant that the punchier storyline of a crime that had been committed lost some of its importance to the plot.

Little Deaths is an interesting read if you look at it as a social construct of how women are perceived by society and the expectations of how to be a woman.

Little Deaths by Emma Flint is available now.

For more information regarding Emma Flint (@flint_writes) please visit www.emmaflint.com.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

Author: Ruth Hogan

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: John Murray Press

The Blurb

Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, Masha’s life has been forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds comfort in her faithful canine companion Haizum, and peace in the quiet lanes of her town’s lido.

Then a chance encounter with two extraordinary women – the fabulous and wise Kitty Muriel, a convent girl turned magician’s wife turned seventy-something roller disco fanatic, and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice – opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again. But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, her past comes roaring back …

The Review

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan is the kind of book that I would describe as a warm hug. You get yourself completely involved with the intricacies of the lives of the characters and after you have turned the final page there is a nice feeling of satisfaction.

It is a multi-perspective story yet all the characters have lives that interconnect. The main character is Masha is suffering with a loss however it is through her relationships with other people that she can finally start to let go of the past. These fabulous characters show her that there is a future but also a present.

I really enjoyed reading The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes. It was a heart-warming story which makes you reflect on any sadness that you are holding on to. It is the kind of book that makes you feel better – even when you didn’t feel like you were holding on to anything in particular. That is the power of Ruth Hogan’s The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes.

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan is available now.

For more information regarding Ruth Hogan (@ruthmariehogan) please visit www.ruthhogan.co.uk.

For more information regarding John Murray Press (@johnmurrays) please visit www.johnmurraypress.co.uk.