Title: Good Material

Author: Dolly Alderton

Pages: 345 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Every relationship has one beginning.

This one has two endings.

Andy loves Jen. Jen loved Andy.

And he can’t work out why she stopped.

Now he is. . .

1. Without a home

2. Waiting for his stand-up career to take off

3. Wondering why everyone else around him seems to have grown up while he wasn’t looking

Set adrift on the sea of heartbreak at a time when everything he thought he knew about women, and flat-sharing, and his friendships has transformed beyond recognition, Andy clings to the idea of solving the puzzle of their broken relationship. Because if he can find the answer to that, then maybe Jen can find her way back to him.

Andy still has a lot to learn, not least his ex-girlfriend’s side of the story.

From the bestselling author of Ghosts and Everything I Know About Love: a sharply funny, beautifully observed and exquisitely relatable story of heartbreak and friendship, and how to survive both.

The Review

Good Material left me feeling exposed. It is the story about a break-up of a relationship. Jen and Andy have broken up. Andy is not happy and he is not handling it well. We follow him through his journey of trying to get over the relationship and I won’t lie to you, it is brutal.

If you have ever been through a break-up it will all feel painfully familiar. If you haven’t been through a break-up then it should give you the fear.

Dolly Alderton has written a triumphant novel that hits a different way to any other break-up novel I have ever read.

Good Material by Dolly Alderton is available now.

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

Title: You and Me on Vacation

Author: Emily Henry

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

TWO FRIENDS

TEN SUMMER TRIPS

THEIR LAST CHANCE TO FALL IN LOVE

12 SUMMERS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they’ll never speak again.

11 SUMMERS AGO: They’re forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together.

10 SUMMERS AGO: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver. 

Poppy holds his hand the whole way.

7 SUMMERS AGO: They get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans.

2 SUMMERS AGO: It all goes wrong.

THIS SUMMER: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.

You and Me on Vacation is a love story for fans of When Harry Met Sally and One Day. Get ready to travel the world, snort with laughter and – most of all – lose your heart to Poppy and Alex.

The Review

Although this review won’t be live for a few weeks I am going to tell you about the weather. It is hot. Like hot hot. And I am ginger and I don’t do well in this heat. However, one thing that has kept me sane during this stupid heatwave is reading You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry. It was boss.

It is the story of Poppy and Alex – the epitome of the perfect will they won’t they couple – who are best friends but just cannot seem to take things to the next step where we all know that they belong. Set over many years, fast forwarding and rewinding, we see their love story play out and yes, you, dear reader, will be screaming at these characters to kiss her/him you fool.

Recently, I haven’t read a lot of romance books, they have fallen a little out of favour genre wise for me but dammit You and Me on Vacation was a brilliant step back into the romance story.

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry is available now.

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

Title: Strange Sally Diamond

Author: Liz Nugent

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. She was only doing what her father told her to do, to put him out with the rubbish when he died.

Now Sally is the centre of attention, not only from the hungry media and worried police, but also a sinister voice from a past she has no memory of. As she begins to discover the horrors of her childhood, recluse Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends, finding independence, and learning that people don’t always mean what they say.

But when messages start arriving from a stranger who knows far more about her past than she knows herself, Sally’s life will be thrown into chaos once again . . .

The Review

Strange Sally Diamond is the quirkiest book that I have read this year. That is a big statement being that I am 154 books in but I really believe that no other story has disarmed me as much as this one has.

It focuses on our eponymous character – Sally Diamond – and how she is rather an odd duck. A square peg in a round hole. Sally has been sheltered from the “normal” world but due to unforeseen events now has to confront a society that is very confusing and one that Sally doesn’t know all the rules for.

Strange Sally Diamond is a brilliant story which when you scratch the surface isn’t just about fitting in or conforming but is a story about nature versus nurture. Are we made to be a certain way by our experiences or are these things completely beyond our control?

Strange Sally Diamond is a fascinating read and one that I will be gifting to a lot of people.

Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent is available now.

For more information regarding Liz Nugent (@lizzienugent) please visit www.liznugent.com.

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

Title: In Their Lives – Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs

Author: Andrew Blauner

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Group

The Blurb

The perfect gift for any Beatles fan, In Their Lives is an anthology of essays from a chorus of twenty-nine luminaries singing the praises of their favorite Beatles songs.

The Beatles’ influence—on their contemporaries, on our cultural consciousness, and on the music industry ever after—is difficult to overstate. We all have a favorite song from the band that made us want to fall in love, tune in, and follow our dreams. Arranged chronologically by the date of the song’s release, these essays highlight both the Beatles’ evolution as well as the span of generations their music affected. Whether they are Beatlemaniacs who grew up listening to the iconic albums on vinyl or new fans who stream their favorite songs on their phones, all of the contributors explore that poignant intersection between Beatles history and personal history.

With contributions from twenty-nine authors and musicians—Roz Chast on “She Loves You,” Jane Smiley on “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” Rosanne Cash on “No Reply,” Gerald Early on “I’m a Loser,” Rick Moody on “The End,” Maria Popova on “Yellow Submarine,” David Duchovny on “Dear Prudence,” Chuck Klosterman on “Helter Skelter,” David Hajdu on “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number),” and more—the breadth of the band’s impact is clear. From musings on young love and family strife to explorations of racial boundaries and identity, these essays pay tribute to a band that ran the gamut of human experience in a way no musical group has done before or since.

Timed for the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, this anthology captures the full spectrum of reasons fans still love the Fab Four after all these years.  

The Review

Being from Liverpool it is hard not to notice the impact of the Fab Four on my hometown. However, The Beatles were never forced on me. My parents both missed the hey day of The Beatles both being babies in the 60s. My love of The Beatles is all my own doing.

In Their Lives looks at just how much people love The Beatles based on one song of their choice. It was fascinating to see how much a little piece of music can resonate so much with a person. What was really great about In Their Lives was that people came to the music from different perspectives such as an evocation of memories another purely from a music perspective. The contributors invited you in to their minds to experience the music the way they did and that is such an intimate thing.

In Their Lives is a great collection and has inspired me to write about my favourite song from The Beatles. For me, it will always be This Boy.

In Their Lives – Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs by Andrew Blauner is available now.

For more information regarding Andrew Blauner (@AndrewBlauner) please visit his Twitter page.

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

Title: Man at the Helm

Author: Nina Stibbe

Pages: 313 Pages

Publisher: Penguin UK / Viking

The Blurb

Man at the Helm, the debut novel from Nina Stibbe – the much-loved author of Love, Nina – is a wildly comic, brilliantly sharp-eyed novel about the horrors of being an attractive divorcée in an English village in the 1970s, and a family’s fall from grace . . .

My sister and I and our little brother were born (in that order) into a very good situation and apart from the odd new thing life was humdrum and comfortable until an evening in 1970 when my mother listened in to my father’s phone call and ended up blowing her nose on a tea towel – a thing she’d only have done in an absolute emergency.

Not long after her parents’ separation, heralded by an awkward scene involving a wet Daily Telegraph and a pan of cold eggs, nine-year-old Lizzie Vogel, her sister and little brother and their now divorcée mother are packed off to a small, slightly hostile village in the English countryside. Their mother is all alone, only thirty-one years of age, with three young children and a Labrador. It is no wonder, when you put it like that, that she becomes a menace and a drunk. And a playwright. Worried about the bad playwriting – though more about becoming wards of court and being sent to the infamous Crescent Home for Children – Lizzie and her sister decide to contact, by letter, suitable men in the area. In order to stave off the local social worker they urgently need to find a new Man at the Helm.

The Review

Man at the Helm is a charming novel told from the child narrator’s perspective. It follows Lizzie and her family who have to move to the country after her mum and dad divorce. The scorn and judgement they face from being a family with an unwed mother is indicative of the attitudes of the time.

Whilst trying to find a place in their new home town, Lizzie and her sister are determined to find her mother a new husband. The only problem being that most of the local men are married and their mother is…well…eccentric.

The emotional and financial journey they family go on is laugh-out-loud funny and I spent the majority of the novel chuckling to myself at the misunderstandings that took place.

Man at the Helm is a joyful novel. It’s not one that will tax your brain when reading. It is heartwarming and a perfect read for those wanting a book that isn’t too challenging.

Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe is available now.

For more information regarding Nina Stibbe (@ninastibbe) please visit her Twitter account.

For more information regarding Viking (@VikingBooks) please visit their Twitter account.

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