Title: As You Were

Author: Eileen Feeney

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

Sinéad Hynes is a tough, driven, funny young property developer with a terrifying secret. 

No-one knows it: not her fellow patients in a failing hospital, and certainly not her family. She has confided only in Google and a shiny magpie.

But she can’t go on like this, tirelessly trying to outstrip her past and in mortal fear of her future. Across the ward, Margaret Rose is running her chaotic family from her rose-gold Nokia. In the neighbouring bed, Jane, rarely but piercingly lucid, is searching for a decent bra and for someone to listen. Sinéad needs them both. 

As You Were is about intimate histories, institutional failures, the kindness of strangers, and the darkly present past of modern Ireland. It is about women’s stories and women’s struggles. It is about seizing the moment to be free.

Wildly funny, desperately tragic, inventive and irrepressible, As You Were introduces a brilliant voice in Irish fiction with a book that is absolutely of our times.

The Review

As You Were by Eileen Feeney is the story of Sinéad Hynes. She is currently residing in hospital having been diagnosed with cancer. No one in her family knows. Her day to day life is examined in this story as she traverses the dynamic of the ward that she is on. The old lady opposite who has dementia, the lady believed to have had a stroke and the gentleman who has ended up on an all female ward much to the chagrin of his daughter.

As You Were is brilliantly written and Feeney has elements of Marian Keyes in her delivery and although the over riding theme of the novel is one of sadness it is the small idiosyncratic nature of the characters and the nuances of Irish life that make the story enjoyable.

As You Were by Eileen Feeney is available now.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.

Title: And Now for the Good News…To the Future With Love

Author: Ruby Wax

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

When was the last time that reading the news made you feel good?

Dear Reader,

I know what you’re thinking, is it some kind of macabre joke? Has she been in a coma? How can Ruby Wax write a book about good news when the world is facing the worst disaster since the Plague? 

Let me explain. I began writing in 2018, back when the world’s worries were somewhat different. Climate change, greedy bankers, exam results, crap politicians, mental health: these are still HUGE ISSUES, but even the ancient soothsayers reading pig entrails couldn’t have predicted this.

This is my new mission: to share the green shoots of hope peeping through the soil of civilization. Literacy is at an all-time high, world-hunger is likely to be eradicated this century, technological improvements are saving lives ­- just to scratch the surface. I’ve talked to everyone from leaders to scientists to tech geniuses. I’ve done the research and practiced what I preach. And my conclusion? Behind the clouds, the sun still shines. 

So here’s to the shoots – may they become a blueprint for how the world can shift for the good. Hopefully we’ll learn from them.

Love, Ruby

The Review

Wow. What a truly positive and joyous read. In her book – And Now for the Good News – Ruby Wax looks at world problems and really manages to show how a) they impact our mental health and b) how we can do something about it – both our mental health and helping fix the problems within the world.

If I am honest, I was expecting sardonic wit and humour. The sort of thing you are used to getting from Ruby Wax in her humourous guises. However, what I got was a lot of humour but equally a lot of real life advice. It is not surprising that she had been awarded degrees for her work in mental health.

And Now for the Good News is genuinely uplifting. Wax doesn’t shy away from the darker more difficult topics but equally she makes you see the positivity that life has to offer. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

And Now for the Good News… by Ruby Wax is available now.

For more information regarding Ruby Wax (@RubyWax) please visit her Twitter page.

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

Title: The Idea of You

Author: Robinne Lee

Pages: 372 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

EVERYONE IN THE WORLD KNOWS HIS NAME.

BUT IT’S YOU HE WANTS.

At thirty-nine, Solène Marchand is a devoted mother, a dedicated colleague and a considerate ex-wife.

But it’s a long time since she’s felt like herself.

So when someone comes along who seems to see her – to want her – for who she really is, the attraction is instant. And so begins a jet-setting, earth-shattering secret love affair.

But what if that someone is world-famous sex symbol Hayes Campbell? Captivating frontman of boy band of the moment August Moon – whose face is everywhere. Including Solène’s teenage daughter’s bedroom wall.

Can Solène allow herself to fall for the boy the whole world wants?

OR WILL SHE HAVE TO MAKE A DEVASTATING CHOICE . . . ?

The Review

I was, once again, seduced by a book cover. I looked at The Idea of You by Robinne Lee and I thought This is going to be Almost Famous and Daisy Jones which to me would have been perfect. What I got was a little less than what I was expecting. I got Daisy Jones meets 50 Shades.

The story focuses on Solene, a single mum of one who is reaching her 40th birthday. When she takes her teenage daughter to a concert for the latest boy band she ends up starting a tempestuous relationship with the Lead singer Hayes Campbell. A man 20 years her junior.

Okay, so far as stories go it isn’t bad. The important point that Lee tries to make is that women of a certain age are overlooked and this she does quite well. She has successful women who are independent of men and shows the impact on them, the unfairness of it and the disparity in the way men and women of a similar age are treated.

The Hayes Campbell storyline which is the bulk of the story was a little hard to digest. Mainly because every seen had them having sex in a variety of graphic ways. I did make my vomit face on several occasions. I’m no prude but the way things were phrased had the ‘ick’ factor.

Overall, The Idea of You is an easy read. It is uncomplicated and is the kind of book that you can take on holiday. It isn’t poorly written but due to the amount of sex scenes I personally felt like our protagonist wasn’t as well rounded as she could have been.

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee is available now.

For more information regarding Robinne Lee (@robinnelee) please visit www.robinnelee.com.

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

Title: Conversations on Love

Author: Natasha Lunn

Pages: 297 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

After years of feeling that love was always out of reach, journalist Natasha Lunn set out to understand how relationships work and evolve over a lifetime. She turned to authors and experts to learn about their experiences, as well as drawing on her own, asking: How do we find love? How do we sustain it? And how do we survive when we lose it? 

In Conversations on Love she began to find the answers:

Philippa Perry on falling in love slowly 

Dolly Alderton on vulnerability

Stephen Grosz on accepting change

Candice Carty-Williams on friendship

Lisa Taddeo on the loneliness of loss

Diana Evans on parenthood

Emily Nagoski on the science of sex

Alain de Botton on the psychology of being alone

Esther Perel on unrealistic expectations

Roxane Gay on redefining romance 

and many more… 

The Review

Besides the obvious, I didn’t know what to expect when I read Natasha Lunn’s Conversations on Love. I hadn’t read her columns before and I think I was expecting a love story of sorts. In a way I got that. Natasha Lunn hasn’t tried to trick you. This book really is a book about love with conversations with many people from other writers, to artists, to therapists. It is how love – such a universal feeling – feels different for everybody and that there is no one true way to define it.

What you do get is a broad understanding of how people feel on a daily basis, whether it be the love to a partner, parent or child, Lunn has explored it. Parallel to her conversations is the story of Lunn and the miscarriage that she and her partner suffered. In this aspect, kudos has to be given to Lunn as she has bled her feelings on the page with such purity that her pain feels visceral.

If you are looking for a book that will make you be introspective on the feelings and practicalities of love then Conversations on Love is the book for you.

Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn is available now.

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

Title: Another Life

Author: Jodie Chapman

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

She could be the girl dancing on tables one night, and the next she’d be hiding in the shadows.

Just when I thought I understood her, she would melt away and become a completely new person, and I’d have to start all over again.

That’s how it was with Anna.

_______

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick.

She’s grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits.

So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become.

But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her.

Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life.

But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice between a love that’s endured decades, and the promises they’ve made to others along the way.

The Review

I’m always worried when a book is described as “the new” whatever. The links to previously loved stories inevitably leave a person disappointed. In this sense I feel sorry for Jodie Chapman because her book was described as “the new One Day” which kind of give it unfair expectations to live up to. One day was such a well loved and well known book that it is an impossible standard to reach.

So for that reason I am going to try my hardest to judge Another Life without past book interference. Another Life is pretty good. It follows the relationship between Anna and Nick who’s on-again-off-again romance seems to transcend the years and through external interference and equally their own flaws they can never seem to get it together to make it work. You bounce from side to side thinking that these two need to be together to why they heck are these two trying to be together. You can see that they are good and bad for each other in equal measure.

Whilst Another Life focuses on the relationship between the two characters, it really is Nick’s story. We watch as he grows from boy to man and tries his hardest to be what society expects of him even if it comes at a cost to his personal happiness. Chapman looks at his relationship with women, with his parents – in particular his father, fraternal relationships and many others. This was in interesting choice by Chapman who could have easily written from a female perspective and Another Life would have been a completely different story. It was a bold choice that paid off.

Another Life by Jodie Chapman is available now.

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