Title: Freya

Author: Anthony Quinn

Pages: 464 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK

The Blurb

London, May 1945. Freya Wyley, twenty, meets Nancy Holdaway, eighteen, amid the wild celebrations of VE Day, the prelude to a devoted and competitive friendship that will endure on and off for the next two decades. Freya, wilful, ambitious, outspoken, pursues a career in newspapers which the chauvinism of Fleet Street and her own impatience conspire to thwart, while Nancy, gentler, less self-confident, struggles to get her first novel published. Both friends become entangled at university with Robert Cosway, a charismatic young man whose own ambition will have a momentous bearing on their lives.

Flitting from war-haunted Oxford to the bright new shallows of the 1960s, Freya plots the unpredictable course of a woman’s life and loves against a backdrop of Soho pornographers, theatrical peacocks, willowy models, priapic painters, homophobic blackmailers, political careerists.

Beneath the relentless thrum of changing times and a city being reshaped, we glimpse the eternal: the battles fought by women in pursuit of independence, the intimate mysteries of the human heart, and the search for love. Stretching from the Nuremberg war trials to the advent of the TV celebrity, from innocence abroad to bitter experience at home, Freya presents the portrait of an extraordinary woman taking arms against a sea of political and personal tumult.

The Review

I loved this book.

Freya is the brilliant story of the eponymous character in post-war Britain and her turbulent friendship with Nancy.

Freya is not the most likeable of characters and Quinn has made sure that the reader sees that her flaws are obvious but also that the things that she dislikes most about people, society, and social morals are the faux pas that she keeps producing.

Even though Freya can be very unlikable so can Nancy. You find yourself yelling at both of them as they both make mistakes time and time again. Quinn really shows the truth about friendship. The upsides and the downsides and just how difficult sustaining a friendship can be.

I really loved reading Freya. It is by no means a small book but I wanted more. The story did not need more and I was satisfied with the story as a whole but I just loved it so much. I was bereft when it was over.

Freya by Anthony Quinn is available now.

For more information regarding Random House UK (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.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.

A Book for HerTitle: A Book for Her

Author: Bridget Christie

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK/Cornerstone

The Blurb

Bridget Christie is a stand-up comedian, idiot and feminist. On the 30th of April 2012, a man farted in the Women’s Studies Section of a bookshop and it changed her life forever.

A Book For Her details Christie’s twelve years of anonymous toil in the bowels of stand-up comedy and the sudden epiphany that made her, unbelievably, one of the most critically acclaimed British stand-up comedians this decade, drawing together the threads that link a smelly smell in the women’s studies section to the global feminist struggle.

Find out how nice Peter Stringfellow’s fish tastes, how yoghurt advertising perpetuates rape myths, and how Emily Bronte used a special ladies’ pen to write Wuthering Heights.

If you’re interested in comedy and feminism, then this is definitely the book for you. If you hate both then I’d probably give it a miss.

The Review

I love reading books by feminists and I find that I become a bit of an armchair feminist whenever I read them. In particular, I like feminist books that use humour juxtaposed with the very real debates over feminist rights.

That is why I really enjoyed Bridget Christie’s A Book for Her. In the book, Christie discusses serious topics such as Female Genital Mutilation and Rape Culture. She also discusses farts. This silly balance made A Book for Her such a delightful tonic.

If you enjoy reading A Book for Her then you should also check out her stand up performances.

A Book for Her by Bridget Christie is available now.

For more information regarding Bridget Christie (@BridgetChristie) please visit www.bridgetchristie.co.uk.

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

35 Stars

The Finding of Martha LostTitle: The Finding of Martha Lost

Author: Caroline Wallace

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK/Transworld Publishers/Doubleday

The Blurb

Martha is lost.

She’s been lost since she was a baby, abandoned in a suitcase on the train from Paris. Ever since, she’s waited in station lost property for someone to claim her. It’s been sixteen years, but she’s still hopeful.

In the meantime, there are mysteries to solve: secret tunnels under the station, a suitcase that may have belonged to the Beatles, the roman soldier who appears at the same time every day with his packed lunch. Not to mention the stuffed monkey that someone keeps misplacing.

But there is one mystery Martha cannot solve. And now the authorities have found out about the girl in lost property. Time is running out – if Martha can’t discover who she really is, she will lose everything…

The Review

The Finding of Martha Lost is the most charming book that I have in a very long time. There, I’ve said it. It is absolutely gorgeous, unusual and inspired.

Martha Lost is a young girl who lives in Liverpool Lime Street Station. She has grown up believing that she is the Liver Bird of Lime Street and as the legend goes if the Liver Birds fly away from Liverpool then the city will cease to exist. Martha has believed the same about herself and Lime Street since she was a child and she struggles to separate the legend from the reality.

The Finding of Martha Lost is a story of discovery. It is about discovering who you are and how you came to be. It is a wonderfully charismatic story with memorable characters and is different from anything I have ever read before.

On a personal level, I found The Finding of Martha Lost interesting because it is set in Liverpool, the place that I was born, grew up and still reside to this day. I loved how Wallace’s love for the city shines through the writing and she hasn’t glamorised Liverpool to make it shiny and attractive. She has used its original features and the city’s greatness shines through.

I will definitely be reading more of Caroline Wallace’s work.

The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace is available now.

For more information regarding Caroline Wallace (@Caroline_S) please visit www.carolinesmailes.co.uk.

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

For more information regarding Transworld Publishers (@TransworldBooks) and Doubleday Books (@DoubledayUK) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

4 Stars

Flora BanksTitle: The One Memory of Flora Banks

Author: Emily Barr

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s

The Blurb

You always remember your first kiss. Flora remembers nothing else…

“I look at my hands. One of them says ‘Flora be brave’. I am Flora.”

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day; the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.

Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t have kissed – and the next day she remembers it. The first thing she’s remembered anything since she was ten.

But the boy is gone.

Desperate to hold onto the memory, she sets off to the Arctic to find him.

Why can she remember Drake? Could he be the key to everything else she’s forgotten?

The Review

I love it when I come across a book that opens me up to a brand new world. Granted that kind of happens a lot when you read as much as I do but what has to be said is that Young Adult fiction seems to be pioneering in its attempts to enlighten people to the unusual and tragic.

Take The One Memory of Flora Banks for instance. I’m sure that there have been many books that have been written about memory loss or amnesia. I, myself, have not read any that I can remember. What is certain is that I definitely hadn’t when I was a teenager. Don’t get me wrong, I loved and treasured the series of books that I read as a teen but it is only as an adult that I realise just how much they weren’t very enlightening.

Flora Banks, however, is. Flora is a teenager but she knows very little about her own life. She can’t retain memories and hasn’t had a new memory since the age of 10 when she was in an accident which caused her to experience severe memory loss.

After a party thrown by her best friend Flora kisses a boy. This is something that she remembers and holds on to. She kissed a boy. Days later she still remembers it. After this kiss her whole world as she knows it is thrown into chaos.

The One Memory of Flora Banks is a courageous tale of love, drama, family loyalty, adventure and most of all one of independence. It is a story that will resonate with teenagers (amnesia aside) as we all have had a little bit of Flora Banks in us at some point in our youth.

This is a brave novel that tackles an issue that, without literature and fictionalised accounts, many of us will never come across in our lives. The One Memory of Flora Banks is definitely a novel for your TBR pile.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr is available now.

For more information regarding Emily Barr (@emily_barr) please visit www.emilybarr.com.

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

For more information regarding Random House (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

4 Stars