Title: The Stonewall Riots

Author: Gayle E. Pitman

Pages: 224 Pages

Publisher: Abram Kids

The Blurb

This book is about the Stonewall Riots, a series of spontaneous, often violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBTQ+) community in reaction to a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. The Riots are attributed as the spark that ignited the LGBTQ+ movement.

The author describes American gay history leading up to the Riots, the Riots themselves, and the aftermath, and includes her interviews of people involved or witnesses, including a woman who was ten at the time. Profusely illustrated, the book includes contemporary photos, newspaper clippings, and other period objects. A timely and necessary read, The Stonewall Riots helps readers to understand the history and legacy of the LGBTQ+ movement.

The Review

I read a lot of LGBT fiction but one thing that I haven’t read enough about is the history of the LGBT community. I am seriously behind on my non-fiction. From what I have learned through research after reading things in fiction I have picked up bits and pieces but I really need to expand my knowledge of the LGBT+ community and the ongoing battle for equality. This year I plan to change this. My non-fiction reading journey has begun with The Stonewall Riots by Gayle E. Pitman.

I had heard the term ‘Stonewall’ but never quite understood what it meant and its root. After reading The Stonewall Riots I now see how hard the initial fights for rights were and just how institutionalised the homophobia was…and sadly still is.

Pitman’s easy style means that the book can be read and enjoyed by all. It is a book that should be a feature of every school library and be used in PSHE lessons when discussing LGBTQIA+ issues.

If, like me, you are new to the non-fiction element of the history of LGBTQIA+ rights then The Stonewall Riots is a great book to start you off on that journey.

The Stonewall Riots by Gayle E. Pitman is available now.

For more information regarding Abram Kids (@ABRAMSbooks) please visit www.abramsbooks.com.

Title: Furious Hours – Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee

Author: Casey Cep

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK

The Blurb

The stunning story of an Alabama serial killer and the true-crime book that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird

Reverend Willie Maxwell was a rural preacher accused of murdering five of his family members for insurance money in the 1970s. With the help of a savvy lawyer, he escaped justice for years until a relative shot him dead at the funeral of his last victim. Despite hundreds of witnesses, Maxwell’s murderer was acquitted – thanks to the same attorney who had previously defended the Reverend.

As Alabama is consumed by these gripping events, it’s not long until news of the case reaches Alabama’s – and America’s – most famous writer. Intrigued by the story, Harper Lee makes a journey back to her home state to witness the Reverend’s killer face trial. Harper had the idea of writing her own In Cold Blood, the true-crime classic she had helped her friend Truman Capote research. Lee spent a year in town reporting on the Maxwell case and many more years trying to finish the book she called The Reverend.

Now Casey Cep brings this story to life, from the shocking murders to the courtroom drama to the racial politics of the Deep South. At the same time, she offers a deeply moving portrait of one of the country’s most beloved writers and her struggle with fame, success, and the mystery of artistic creativity.

This is the story Harper Lee wanted to write. This is the story of why she couldn’t.

The Review

I have never come across anyone who didn’t love To Kill A Mockingbird. Equally, I have yet to meet someone who wasn’t slightly disappointed with Go Set a Watchman. After all those years of wanting more from Harper Lee her audience weren’t exactly infused with joy with her second release. Having said that, we all would probably have wanted more from Harper Lee.

In Casey Cep’s Furious Hours – Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee we get to see an inside picture of why we had to wait so long for Harper Lee’s work and more importantly how she struggled for decades to write something as good, as important as To Kill a Mockingbird.

Furious Hours is a good read. Casey Cep is a good writer. However, I do feel that Furious Hours could have been much shorter. There was an awful lot of background information given that had very little impact in the overall story of Harper Lee planning to write her novel on a crime that took place. A lot of it was irrelevant.

That being said, Furious Hours is an interesting read, it is well researched and the insight into Harper Lee’s life is fascinating. We finally get an impression of who this reclusive writer was.

Furious Hours – Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep is available now.

For more information regarding Casey Cep (@cncep) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House UK (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

Title: Curtains Down at her Majesty’s – The Death of Queen Victoria in the Words of Those Who Were There

Author: Stewart Richards

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: The History Press

The Blurb

‘Her Majesty the Queen breathed her last at 6.30 p.m., surrounded by her children and grand-children.’

With this notice, pinned to the entrance gate of Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s doctors announced the death of the most powerful woman in the world, who had sat on her throne and ruled through more than six decades. Her rule had seen her kingdom spread to become the world’s biggest empire, had seen massive change in society and leaps forward in technology. It is little surprise that the death of one who had ruled for all of many people’s lives created chaos, shock and mass outpourings of grief across the country.

Here author and researcher Stewart Richards has delved through the archives to put together the definitive view of Victoria in her final days, through the immediate reaction and aftermath of her death, to the state funeral of 2 February 1901. Based entirely on fascinating first-hand accounts, The Death of Queen Victoria offers a truly unique insight into the events of that tumultuous few days and is a volume that no enthusiast should be without.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Curtains Down at her Majesty’s is a fascinating and factual account of the days preceding the death of Queen Victoria and the days of mourning and the funeral that followed.

This isn’t a work of fiction. Author Stewart Richards has meticulously gone through diary entries, letters, telegrams, newspaper articles of the people who were there: Queen Victoria’s family, her physicians and her subjects.

What is revealed is how the pomp and ceremony surrounding royal deaths is conducted and it gives insight in how the current monarchy was created.

A truly fascinating read for those who love the Victorian era and the monarchy.

Curtains Down at her Majesty’s – The Death of Queen Victoria in the Words of Those Who Were There by Stewart Richards is available now.

For more information regarding The History Press (@TheHistoryPress) please visit www.thehistorypress.co.uk.

Title: This Book is Gay

Author: Juno Dawson (as James Dawson)

Pages: 271 Pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

The Blurb

Lesbian. Bisexual. Queer. Transgender. Straight. Curious. This book is for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual preference. This book is for anyone who’s ever dared to wonder. This book is for YOU.

There’s a long-running joke that, after “coming out,” a lesbian, gay guy, bisexual, or trans person should receive a membership card and instruction manual. THIS IS THAT INSTRUCTION MANUAL. You’re welcome.

Inside you’ll find the answers to all the questions you ever wanted to ask: from sex to politics, hooking up to stereotypes, coming out and more. This candid, funny, and uncensored exploration of sexuality and what it’s like to grow up LGBT also includes real stories from people across the gender and sexual spectrums, not to mention hilarious illustrations.

You will be entertained. You will be informed. But most importantly, you will know that however you identify (or don’t) and whomever you love, you are exceptional. You matter. And so does this book.

The Review

This Book is Gay is the first book that I have ever seen that is marketed for teenagers to address LGBTQ+ issues that hasn’t been patronising or written by someone well meaning but clueless about what it is to live as an LGBTQ+ person. Juno Dawson, however, offers honest, witty, and entertaining information within her book This Book is Gay – those who are aware of Juno Dawson (if you haven’t then, seriously, where have you been?) you will know that she has a bit of experience living as an LGBTQ+ woman.

She discusses the often unavailable information about living in this community to an audience who have very limited experience. Those who are either taking tentative steps to understand their part in the LGBTQ+ community or friends and family who also have limited knowledge and want to be supportive.

Juno Dawson addresses the inadequacies in the school system – why is heteronormative sex the only thing taught in schools; she looks at dating and how difficult it can be. She also talks to people who are LGBTQ+ so we don’t feel that her writing is preachy. She is and has lived it and she knows what she is talking about but you don’t feel talked AT.

I firmly believe that This Book is Gay should be issued to schools. Young students who are struggling to find their place would find this book so comforting and feel that there is somewhere that they can feel included. That someone out there, beyond the microcosm of their small world knows what it feels like.

I was genuinely in awe of this book.

This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson is available now.

For more information regarding Juno Dawson (@junodawson) please visit www.junodawson.com.

For more information regarding Sourcebooks Fire (@SourcebooksFire) please visit www.firereads.com.

Title: I’d Rather Be Reading – The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life

Author: Anne Bogel

Pages: 160 Pages

Publisher: Baker Books

The Blurb

For so many people, reading isn’t just a hobby or a way to pass the time–it’s a lifestyle. Our books shape us, define us, enchant us, and even sometimes infuriate us. Our books are a part of who we are as people, and we can’t imagine life without them.

I’d Rather Be Reading is the perfect literary companion for everyone who feels that way. In this collection of charming and relatable reflections on the reading life, beloved blogger and author Anne Bogel leads readers to remember the book that first hooked them, the place where they first fell in love with reading, and all of the moments afterward that helped make them the reader they are today. Known as a reading tastemaker through her popular podcast What Should I Read Next?, Bogel invites book lovers into a community of like-minded people to discover new ways to approach literature, learn fascinating new things about books and publishing, and reflect on the role reading plays in their lives.

The perfect gift for the bibliophile in everyone’s life, I’d Rather Be Reading will command an honored place on the overstuffed bookshelves of any book lover.

The Review

I love reading books about books. Strange really when I could just read the book that the authors of this style of book is actually talking about. I think it is because of that shared connection between booklovers or that saying that seeing a person read a book you like is like the book recommending the person. I don’t know, I just feel that if I were to write a book then it would be one like this.

I’d Rather Be Reading follows author Anne Bogel through her reading life; her time as a child, a young adult, a wife, and a mum. She talks about how books have influenced her or have been there when she needed them. We read about her love of bookshops and libraries and how she has given that gift to her children. It really is joy packaged in 160 pages.

I have read a lot of books of a similar ilk but this has to be one of my favourites. Anne Bogel did a great job with I’d Rather Be Reading.

I’d Rather Be Reading – The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel is available now.

For more information regarding Anne Bogel (@AnneBogel) please visit www.modernmrsdarcy.com.

For more information regarding Baker Books (@ReadBakerBooks) please visit www.bakerpublishinggroup.com/bakerbooks.