The Course of LoveTitle: The Course of Love

Author: Alain de Botton

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Modern love is never easy. Society is obsessed with stories of romance, but what comes after happily ever after?

This is a love story with a difference. From dating to marriage, from having kids to having affairs, it follows the progress of a single ordinary relationship: tender, messy, hilarious, painful, and entirely un-Romantic. It is a love story for the modern world, chronicling the daily intimacies, the blazing rows, the endless tiny gestures that make up a life shared between two people.

Moving and deeply insightful, The Course of Love offers us a window into essential truths about the nature of love.

The Review

Ok, so I don’t really know what I feel about The Course of Love by Alain de Botton. It is definitely one of the following. It is either a) a really genius story about the perils of romantic love and how companionship lasts but the thought of romantic love is a ludicrous notion or b) part novel/part psychoanalysis on modern day relationships.

Either way, The Course of Love was written really well but I just can’t decide if I actually liked it.

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton is available now.

For more information regarding Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) please visit www.alaindebotton.com.

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

2 Stars

 

Letters to my FannyThe Blurb

In this hilarious and candid memoir about twenty-first-century womanhood, Cherry Healey shares outrageous, poignant and eye-wateringly funny confessions.

“This book is a love letter, to my body. In fact it’s several letters – to every part from my brain to my belly. I spent most of my life hating by body. I forced it to survive on a diet of ham; I squeezed it into asphyxiating support pants; I accidentally cut my delicate area whilst trimming my lady garden. But now I’ve realized that it deserves some well overdue TLC.

This book is the story of how I’ve come to understand some vital life lessons, and started to love being a woman. I hope you enjoy it. Except you, Mum and Dad. You should stop reading now. It’s for the best. I promise.”

Warm, honest and heartfelt, Letters to my Fanny will have you gasping in recognition. (Amazon)

The Review

Firstly, I have to get this off my chest. I absolutely detest the word ‘fanny’. Much in the way some people find the words ‘succulent’, ‘moist’ and ‘juicy’ to be repulsive I find fanny much the same way. Unless it is used as a verb. I am strangely ok if someone is ‘fannying’ about but the noun ‘fanny’ turns my stomach and I can’t explain why.

With that in mind, every time the word ‘fanny’ came up in Cherry Healey’s Letters to my Fanny I visibly recoiled but I am nothing if not determined so I persevered; I am awfully glad I did. Letters to my Fanny (shudder) is a really funny, warm and entertaining memoir which exudes the message of positive body image.

There are some graphic descriptions of childbirth that, as someone who is physically terrified of the thought of going through labour, I should probably have veered away from (to be fair Healey did give a warning at the beginning of the chapter).

I did feel that some of the chapters lost its way a little bit. Sections of the book discuss feminism and the inequality of wages between men and women but then slips in to a discussion about diet made me a little sceptical. However, by the end of Letters to my Fanny I realised that the overriding message was just to feel comfortable in your own skin and that, for me, is a very powerful message.

I really enjoyed this memoir and – title aside – it made me feel good.

Letters to my Fanny by Cherry Healey is available now.

Follow Cherry Healey (@cherryhealey) on Twitter.

4 Stars

Hot Little HandsTitle: Hot Little Hands

Author: Abigail Ulman

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Books

The Blurb

Claire finds out she’s pregnant. And decides it’s for a limited time only. Ramona announces her first sexual experience – real or imagined – over a family dinner. Elise and Jenni lost their virginity at twelve and thirteen. Now all they want to do is regain their innocence. Amelia can’t finish her book, so she decides to have a baby. Kira wants to travel to America, but her parents think she’s too young to go alone. Hot Little Hands contains nine pitch-perfect stories about stumbling on the fringes of innocence, and the marks desire can leave. In this wry, exhilarating debut, Abigail Ulman takes us deep into the blurred borders between adolescence and adulthood.

‘A book that every parent will need to keep by their bedside, especially at the weekend, so they can be fully reassured that their young daughters are having a truly good time’ – Colm Tóibín

The Review

I requested Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman from NetGalley because I had read some really good things about the book and the collection of short stories included. If I am honest I wasn’t overly impressed by some of the stories. The art of writing short stories is a skill that is honed and Abigail Ulman has it. No one can argue that. Personally, I didn’t enjoy all the stories. You can’t win them all.

It is not all bad news. Some of the stories in Hot Little Hands were pretty epic and did have me holding my breath. In particular Warmups and Your Charm Won’t Help You Here.

Whilst the short story isn’t my favourite form of writing (I think due to the often ambiguous endings and lack of time to be able to care for the characters) I do respect any writer who can produce them. Although Hot Little Hands didn’t do it or me personally I can see that Ulman is a talented writer and an exciting new voice. I will be intrigued to read more from her in different formats.

Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman is available now.

Follow Abigail Ulman (@abigaileulman) on Twitter.

For more titles from Penguin Books (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

35 Stars

Always With LoveThe Blurb

Sophie’s got used to being the girlfriend of Billy Buskin, the biggest movie star in the world. Sort of.

But when she and Billy take a trip to visit his family in Los Angeles, she quickly discovers she’s totally unprepared for the chaos of Hollywood, the paparazzi and Billy’s controlling mother.

And when Billy extends his stay in LA, leaving Sophie to fly home to Rosefont Hill alone, it seems there’s more than just miles between them.

Now Sophie must decide if they can overcome their differences for good. Because not every love story lasts the distance . . .

The Review

Ahhhh Always with Love.

Always with Love is the latest release from Giovanna Fletcher and revisits previous characters that she created. We are reunited with Sophie May and Billy Buskin. I’m a fan of reading about the same characters. I think it stemmed from my childhood when I loved reading about Mildred Hubble and the girls at Miss Cackles Academy, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield in the Sweet Valley series and I loved saying hello to my friends at The Babysitters Club so for me I was overjoyed to find that I got to read about Sophie and Billy again. I had every reason to be. Always with Love is a sweet story that I finished in two sittings.

It is lovely to see how a relationship develops. So often in romantic literature the couple get together at the end to the chorus of trombones and a win machine so it is always refreshing to see the ‘happily ever after’ rather than just ending a story at that point.

Always with Love shows the progression of Sophie May and Billy Buskin’s relationship as they begin to battle the turmoil of a working relationship when things like family, distance and newcomers try to keep you apart.

If I am honest, during the first part of the story a particular story thread had me unsettled (involving someone trying to keep Billy and Sophie apart – that is all I will say so I don’t spoil anything for readers) and I thought to myself that it was just a déjà vu storyline from Billy and Me but Fletcher throws a curveball and quickly you realise that it will take more than this incident to keep Billy and Sophie apart.

What came next were the trials and tribulations that you get in relationships; Fletcher has her characters try and keep their love alive when they keep coming across obstacles. I have to say, she does it really well. We feel the anguish of both characters who are dealing with forces bigger than they are.

I must admit that I found Sophie to be a little bit difficult to love at times. I probably shouldn’t say that about the protagonist but at times she did come across as a little selfish. I only say this because I find myself in a similar situation as she does (although mine does not happen to be with a Hollywood hunk like Billy Buskin) and I found that at times she was a little uncompromising. However, the flip side is that I could see what she was dealing with ad empathised with her situation.

This all sounds rather cryptic so you will have to read Always with Love to understand…and while you are at it read the rest of Giovanna Fletchers novels. They will make you warm and fuzzy inside.

Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher is available from 4th June 2016.

4 Stars

The Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Tessa, dubbed a ‘Black-Eyed Susan’ by the media, became famous for being the only victim to survive the vicious attack of a serial killer. Her testimony helped to put a dangerous criminal behind bars – or so she thought.

Now, decades later the black-eyed susans planted outside Tessa’s bedroom window seem to be a message from a killer who should be safely in prison.

Haunted by fragmented memories of the night she was attacked and terrified for her own teenage daughter’s safety, can Tessa uncover the truth about the killer before it’s too late?

The Review

I’ve never been a huge fan of the thriller genre. In fact, I would say that up until this year I have only ever read a small handful of thriller books. However, after reading books such as Disclaimer I have found myself dipping not only a toe but a whole foot into the genre…and liking it.

Black Eyed Susans is no exception.

Creepy and sinister from the get go, you are invited into Tessa’s story. She is the lone survivor of a vicious killing spree that has left one man fighting for his life on death row. Tessa, and what she said in court, put him there. But now she has doubts.

Black Eyed Susans is a story of fighting for justice all the while knowing that if she is right and the man currently on death row didn’t commit the heinous murder then the man who tried to kill her is still out there.

And is he the person that keeps planting Black Eyed Susans in her back garden?

Overall, this is a well written, well paced thriller. I was hooked from the get go and frequently had my heart pounding in my chest. If you are like me, you won’t guess the outcome. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I would be the world’s worst detective.

If I am honest, I am not sure if I like how things turned out in the end. Obviously, I don’t want to ruin things for you so when you read it please do come and tell me what you think. However, this is a book that I would recommend to fans of crime thrillers. Gripping to the very last page.

Massive thanks to Francesca Russell who sent me a review copy.

Black Eyes Susans by Julia Hea Berlin is available now.

Follow Julia Hea Berlin (@juliathrillers) on Twitter.

Black Eyed Susans