Title: The Panic Years

Author: Nell Frizzell

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Random House/Transworld Publishers/Bantam Press

The Blurb

The Panic Years: something between adolescence and menopause, a personal crisis, a transformation.

The panic years can hit at any time but they are most commonly triggered somewhere between the ages of twenty-five and forty. During this time, every decision a woman makes – from postcode to partner, friends to family, work to weekends – will be impacted by the urgency of the one decision with a deadline, the one decision that is impossible to take back: whether or not to have a baby.

But how to stay sane in such a maddening time?
How to understand who you are and what you might want from life?
How to know if you’re making the right decisions?

Raw, hilarious and beguilingly honest, Nell Frizzell’s account of her panic years is both an arm around the shoulder and a campaign to start a conversation. This affects us all – women, men, mothers, children, partners, friends, colleagues – so it’s time we started talking about it with a little more candour.

The Review

I am 36 years old. Well, I will be 37 this year and so this book, The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell should, in theory, speak to me.

Nell Frizzell is looking at things that society deems important to a 30+ year old. Things like marriage, children, and early menopause. And whilst I have thought about those things they aren’t necessarily a massive concern. I can see the reasons why Frizzell wrote about them and I admire her candid approach – at times she comes across as a little cuckoo and obsessed with time running away from her – but I think for me personally I didn’t mirror her concerns. I think The Panic Years would be a perfect book for someone looking for reassurance – in particular about becoming a mum – but it didn’t resonate with me because I don’t necessarily want the same things as her.

The Panic Years is well written and I think more books like this are needed. Women need to have their voices heard on subjects that are generally kept quiet and hidden and it needs bold voices like Nell Frizzell and so I admire her greatly for her writing and her honesty.

The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell is available now.

For more information regarding Nell Frizzell (@NellFrizzell) please visit her Twitter page.

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

For more information regarding Bantam Press (@BantamPress) please visit www.bantam.press.

Title: The Authenticity Project

Author: Clare Pooley

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

A story about connection, community, and the kindness of strangers.

Six strangers with one universal thing in common: their lives aren’t always what they make them out to be.

What would happen if they told the truth instead?

Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.

Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story.

Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely.

The Review

What an absolutely gorgeous story! The Authenticity Project is the story of lonely people coming together and being their true selves. It is a story that crosses ages and status and shows that even the most charmed lives have their demons.

The multi-perspective narrative is told by Julian – an old dandy who is utterly miserable who starts the project and benefit greatly from the results. Others who get involved are Monica, Riley, Hazard, Alice and Lizzie. All of their lives are changed because of Julian’s initial impulse.

We follow the cast of characters as we see all of their lives change and watch them grow.

I will admit that as a reader I am unused to new characters being introduced so late in the text however it worked for the purpose of the story.

The Authenticity Project is a wonderful, heart-warming read and is the kind of literary comfort we need at the moment.

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley is available now.

For more information regarding Clare Pooley (@cpooleywriter) please visit www.clarepooley.com.

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

Title: The Illness Lesson

Author: Clare Beams

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

It is 1871. At the farm of Samuel Hood and his daughter, Caroline, a mysterious flock of red birds has descended. Samuel, whose fame as a philosopher is waning, takes the birds’ appearance as an omen that the time is ripe for his newest venture. He will start a school for young women, guiding their intellectual development as he has so carefully guided his daughter’s. Despite Caroline’s misgivings, Samuel’s vision – revolutionary, as always; noble, as always; full of holes, as always – takes shape.

It’s not long before the students begin to manifest bizarre symptoms: rashes, seizures, verbal tics, night wanderings. In desperate, the school turns to the ministering of a sinister physician – just as Caroline’s body, too, begins its betrayal. As the girls’ condition worsens, Caroline must confront the all-male, all-knowing authorities of her world, the ones who insist the voices of the sufferers are unreliable.

Written in intensely vivid prose and brimming with insight, The Illness Lesson is a powerful exploration of women’s bodies, women’s minds and the time-honoured tradition of doubting both.

The Review

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams seemed like my type of book. It was historical fiction at its base but also dealt with other issues. It looked at the sheltered life of women and how they had to conform to man’s whim, it looked at parental control, and it had a mystery element to it.

And it was a good story. I enjoyed it. It did take a while for me to get into the story but once I was in it I really enjoyed it but more for the feminist elements.

The Illness Lesson is a good read and for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams is available now.

For more information regarding Clare Beams (@clarebeams) please visit www.clarebeams.com.

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

 

Title: Mix Tape

Author: Jane Sanderson

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

You never forget the one that got away. But what if ‘what could have been’ is still to come?

Daniel was the first boy to make Alison a mix tape.

But that was years ago and Ali hasn’t thought about him in a very long time. Even if she had, she might not have called him ‘the one that got away’; she’d been the one to run away, after all.

Then Dan’s name pops up on her phone, with a link to a song from their shared past.

For two blissful minutes, Alison is no longer an adult in Adelaide with temperamental daughters; she is sixteen in Sheffield, dancing in her too-tight jeans. She cannot help but respond in kind.

And so begins a new mix tape.

Ali and Dan exchange songs – some new, some old – across oceans and time zones, across a lifetime of different experiences, until one of them breaks the rules and sends a message that will change everything…

Because what if ‘what could have been’ is still to come?

The Review

Okay, so I am conflicted by Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson. Firstly, I do love a good love story especially when the story involves first love that has broken down for whatever reason and then rekindled as adults. I love that those people who once knew one another then have to rediscover each other as adults. I love that.

However, when that comes at the cost of other established relationships I find it hard to feel empathy with the characters. Yes, people are flawed and yes this can happen in real life. I think for me, probably because where I am in my life I know I would feel devastated if my partner rekindled a romance with his first love.

It is a well written book and Jane Sanderson should be proud of what she has produced. Personally, I think I need to know what happened with tertiary characters to be able to fully commit to the romance of Dan and Ali.

Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson is available now.

For more information regarding Jane Sanderson (@SandersonJane) please visit www.jane-sanderson.com.

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

Title: The Woman in Cabin 10

Author: Ruth Ware

Pages: 356 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

From the bestselling author of Richard and Judy pick, In A Dark, Dark Wood comes Ruth Ware’s next compulsive page-turner

This was meant to be the perfect trip.

The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship.

A chance for travel journalist Lo Blackwood to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse, and to work out what she wants from her relationship.

Except things don’t go as planned.

Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat.

Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that she may have made a terrible mistake. Or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer – and she is the sole witness…

The Review

I’ve not read a book by Ruth Ware before but many book bloggers and vloggers have recommended her books over the years so I decided to dip a tentative toe into her writing. You see, there is always the possibility of disappointment when it comes to such high praise. Will you feel the same way? I can honestly say that I enjoyed reading The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware ergo the praise was justified.

I am terrible with thrillers. I will be the person sitting on the edge of my seat blaming every character – even the protagonist – because I can never figure the mystery out. In some ways that makes me the perfect reader for these kinds of novels. The Woman in Cabin 10 is the story of Lo and how she stumbles onto a mystery quite by accident and has to try and solve it herself. The only problem being is that she has no one to help her. She is in the middle of the Norwegian Fjords with no phone signal, no wi-fi and no one to trust on the boat. Anyone that she does speak to thinks she is crazy. And why wouldn’t they? Lo has a history of mental health issues which makes her unreliable. One thing is for sure though is that Lo will not rest until the mystery is solved.

I have always wanted to go to Norway to see the Northern Lights. Ruth Ware has made me question just how much I want to go there now. Her writing was that good that it has freaked me right out. Well played, Ruth Ware.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware is available now.

For more information regarding Ruth Ware (@RuthWareWriter) please visit www.ruthware.com.

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