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: Becoming

Author: Michelle Obama

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Viking

The Blurb

An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America – the first African-American to serve in that role – she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her – from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it – in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations – and whose story inspires us to do the same.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

“When they go low, you go high.” – Michelle Obama.

I am a little bit in love with Michelle Obama. I think she is brilliant. I was really excited to read her biography but it took me a few months to pick it up. I am kind of glad of that because the hype had died down and I was able to enjoy reading it without everyone else’s thoughts buzzing around me.

Becoming is so deeply interesting. Michelle Obama has never stood in the shadow of Obama – partly I think that Barack Obama wouldn’t let her but more so because she is a feisty woman who is not just the previous FLOTUS but she is Michelle freaking Obama.

I genuinely loved this autobiography. Michelle is honest. She was candid about her thoughts about how she didn’t want Barack to run for president. It is lovely to watch their love story unfold. And it is one of the most inspiring reads I have read in a long time.

I really wish Michelle Obama would run for President.

Becoming by Michelle Obama is available now.

For more information regarding Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) please visit www.obama.org.

For more information regarding Viking (@VikingBooksUK) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Hot Little HandsTitle: Hot Little Hands

Author: Abigail Ulman

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Books

The Blurb

Claire finds out she’s pregnant. And decides it’s for a limited time only. Ramona announces her first sexual experience – real or imagined – over a family dinner. Elise and Jenni lost their virginity at twelve and thirteen. Now all they want to do is regain their innocence. Amelia can’t finish her book, so she decides to have a baby. Kira wants to travel to America, but her parents think she’s too young to go alone. Hot Little Hands contains nine pitch-perfect stories about stumbling on the fringes of innocence, and the marks desire can leave. In this wry, exhilarating debut, Abigail Ulman takes us deep into the blurred borders between adolescence and adulthood.

‘A book that every parent will need to keep by their bedside, especially at the weekend, so they can be fully reassured that their young daughters are having a truly good time’ – Colm Tóibín

The Review

I requested Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman from NetGalley because I had read some really good things about the book and the collection of short stories included. If I am honest I wasn’t overly impressed by some of the stories. The art of writing short stories is a skill that is honed and Abigail Ulman has it. No one can argue that. Personally, I didn’t enjoy all the stories. You can’t win them all.

It is not all bad news. Some of the stories in Hot Little Hands were pretty epic and did have me holding my breath. In particular Warmups and Your Charm Won’t Help You Here.

Whilst the short story isn’t my favourite form of writing (I think due to the often ambiguous endings and lack of time to be able to care for the characters) I do respect any writer who can produce them. Although Hot Little Hands didn’t do it or me personally I can see that Ulman is a talented writer and an exciting new voice. I will be intrigued to read more from her in different formats.

Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman is available now.

Follow Abigail Ulman (@abigaileulman) on Twitter.

For more titles from Penguin Books (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

35 Stars