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.

Title: Not Safe for Work

Author: Isabel Kaplan

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Michael Joseph

The Blurb

You are a young, ambitious, college-educated feminist. And you’ve just landed a job in television.

To climb the ranks, you do whatever it takes:

– Pull all-nighters

– Lean on your powerful mother’s contacts

– Stay in shape at cult-like fitness classes

– Secretly wear your boss’s fitbit to improve his step count – and his temper

You know the rules of this world. When someone senior tells you how pretty you look, you smile and thank him – and make a mental note never to wear that dress alone with him again.

When rumours of an assault start to circle the office, and your close friend confesses her own disturbing experience, you know there is plenty to gain from staying silent.

And all too much to lose through speaking out.

Besides, you know your boss is one of the good guys . . . don’t you?

The Review

I don’t really know how I feel about Not Safe For Work. On the one hand it is an exposing novel about the struggle of millennials and about how it is difficult for them to find their footing in the workplace – putting in ridiculous hours for the tiniest crumb of possible promotion. On the other hand it is about the patriarchal nature of the workplace and how men in positions of power use it to their advantage and see it as cache to do what they want to who they want. On another hand (yes I know I am up to three hands) it is a novel about a toxic relationship between mother and daughter. The problem for me is that at times I don’t really feel that these three threads connected on the page.

Initially, the story was a slow burner but from halfway things started to pick up but still not much really happens. Not Safe For Work is definitely a character driven novel rather than plot driven but even then the characters were slightly problematic for me.

I genuinely don’t really know what I am meant to be feeling which is disheartening when Not Safe For Work seems to have had such great reviews. Maybe it is a case of right book/wrong time.

Not Safe For Work by Isabel Kaplan is available now.

For more information regarding Penguin Michael Joseph (@MichaelJBooks) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Kate in Waiting

Author: Becky Albertalli

Pages: 387 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Blurb

From bestselling YA rom-com queen Becky Albertalli (author of Love, Simon) comes a new novel about daring to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight in love, life and theatre.

[PRINCIPAL CAST LIST] 

Kate Garfield 

Anderson Walker

Best friends, and contrary to popular belief, not co-dependent. Examples:

Carpooling to and from theatre rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. 

Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. 

Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.

But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off-script.

Enter Stage Left: Matt Olsson

He is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.

Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship… 

The Review

I’m just going to put this out there. I love Becky Albertalli. I just love her. Her writing is amazing and her insight into the teenage brain is brilliant. She is one of the leading voices in writing YA fiction and her latest offering Kate in Waiting shows just how good a writer she is.

Best friends Kate and Anderson are notorious for falling for the same person and their latest crush Matt is no different. As Kate and Anderson traverse the tricky halls of high school and hormones they also have to figure out a way of not letting their feelings for Matt ruin their friendship.

Kate in Waiting is the charming will-they-won’t-they story of the year but the will-they-won’t-they in question is Kate and Anderson.

Kate in Waiting is perfect for the theatre geek inside.

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli is available now.

For more information regarding Becky Albertalli (@beckyalbertalli) please visit www.beckyalbertalli.com.

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

Title: Eight Detectives

Author: Alex Pavesi

Pages: 289 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

All murder mysteries follow a simple set of rules. Grant McAllister, an author of crime fiction and professor of mathematics, once sat down and worked them all out.

But that was thirty years ago. Now he’s living a life of seclusion on a quiet Mediterranean island – until Julia Hart, a sharp, ambitious editor, knocks on his door. His early work is being republished and together the two of them must revisit those old stories: an author, hiding from his past, and an editor, keen to understand it.

But as she reads, Julia is unsettled to realise that there are things in the stories that don’t make sense. Intricate clues that seem to reference a real murder, one that’s remained unsolved for thirty years.

If Julia wants answers, she must triumph in a battle of wits with a dangerously clever adversary. But she must tread carefully: she knows there’s a mystery, but she doesn’t yet realise there’s already been a murder . . .

The Review

Eight Detectives is a little misleading to begin with. It took two chapters for me to realise that it was a story within a story. Or stories as the case is. Once I knew that I was in for the ride.

It was a good read and I was enjoying it. Some of the detective stories where a little bit long but I never managed to find the clues that were then highlighted in the long narrative.

The third act twist was very clever and left me open mouthed with shock. A very good book for detective fiction fans.

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi is available now.

For more information regarding Alex Pavesi (@pavesi_alex) please visit www.alexpavesi.com.

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

Title: Barefoot in Babylon – The Creation of Woodstock Music Festival 1969

Author: Bob Spitz

Pages: 480

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Fifty years ago, the Woodstock Music Festival defined a generation. Yet, there was much more than peace and love driving that long weekend the summer of 1969. In Barefoot in Babylon, journalist and New York Times bestselling author Bob Spitz gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Woodstock, from its inception and the incredible musicians that performed to its scandals and the darker side of the peace movement. With a new introduction, as well as maps, set lists, and a breakdown of all the personalities involved, Barefoot in Babylon is a must-read for anyone who was there—or wishes they were.

The Review

Unfortunately a DNF for me.

Barefoot in Babylon should have explored the fun and the excitement of Woodstock but I feel like it was far too heavy and I couldn’t find the fun.

Barefoot in Babylon by Bob Spitz is available now.

For more information regarding Bob Spitz (@BobSpitzNYC) please visit www.bobspitz.com.

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