Title: A Berlin Love Song

Author: Sarah Matthias

Pages: 426 Pages

Publisher: Troika Books

The Blurb

Max is 17, a German schoolboy, when he meets Lili, a trapeze artist from a travelling circus that performs every year in Berlin. Lili is from a Romani gypsy family whose life and customs are very different from those of Max and his family. Their friendship turns into love – but love between a member of the Hitler youth and a gypsy is forbidden. As events tear them apart can their love survive? Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, A Berlin Love Song is a love story of passion, unexpected friendship, despair, loss and hope. It exposes the extermination of the Roma and Sinti referred by Angela Merkel as the forgotten holocaust.


The Review

Whenever I read a book that is set during the holocaust I initially forget just how breathtakingly horrific it was. As I read on, I am reminded of the atrocities and the lack of humanity and then I am saddened that mass genocide still happens today.

A Berlin Love Song by Sarah Matthias is an important book. Besides being beautifully written and besides telling a romantic love story it also tells the story of what is known as the forgotten holocaust; a time when it wasn’t only Jewish people who were persecuted but people who were gay, had dwarfism or who were travellers.

A Berlin Love Song tells the story of Max and Lili – two people who should not be together but have fallen in love in difficult circumstances. The message being that love transcends race, time and distance.

I have nothing but praise for this fabulous story. A Berlin Love Song deserves to be read just like the story of how the travelling community were persecuted during World War Two needs to be known.

A Berlin Love Song by Sarah Matthias is available now.

For more information regarding Sarah Matthias (@SarahMatthias7) please visit her www.sarahmatthias.co.uk.

For more information regarding Troika Books (@TroikaBooks) please visit www.troikabooks.com.

Title: Rio Grande, Wisconsin

Author: JoAnn Novak

Pages: 28 Pages

Publisher: Day One

The Blurb

This story was originally published in Day One, a weekly literary journal dedicated to short fiction and poetry from emerging writers.

Frankie is twelve, and she’s feeling a bit too old for family vacations. So on yet another trip to the Wisconsin Dells, she’ll use the rudimentary coping skills available to preadolescents: fake-sleeping in the car, ignoring her parents, tormenting her brother. And, of course, fantasizing about Bill Murray.

Her mother wants Frankie to watch her weight, but the tween refuses to police her body—or to be ashamed of her enjoyment of it. At every opportunity—in the pool, during dinner, at the wax museum—her mom pushes, and Frankie pushes back.

Imaginative and honest, Rio Grande, Wisconsin is a coming-of-age story about the awkward and dysfunctional ways mothers and daughters show love, and how one unique girl attempts to feed the insatiable existential hunger that comes with growing up.


The Review

Oh dear.

I read Rio Grande, Wisconsin unsure about what it would be about but I was intrigued by the cover. What I got was a story that was just a little bit pointless and a lot under-developed. The development of the story, of there being an actual point to the story would have made it more enjoyable but all I felt after reading it from beginning to end was that I had just wasted my time.

Rio Grande, Wisconsin by JoAnn Novak is available now.

Title: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Author: Joshua Ferris

Pages: 340 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

There’s nothing like a dental chair to remind a man that he’s alone in the world . . .Paul O’Rourke – dentist extraordinaire, reluctant New Yorker, avowed atheist, disaffected Red Sox fan, and a connoisseur of the afternoon mochaccino – is a man out of touch with modern life. While his dental practice occupies his days, his nights are filled with darker thoughts, as he alternately marvels at and rails against the optimism of the rest of humanity. So it goes, until someone begins to impersonate Paul online. What began as an outrageous violation of privacy soon becomes something far more soul-frightening: the possibility that the virtual ‘Paul’ might be a better version of the man in the flesh . . .

The Review

So. I won’t lie to you. I didn’t really ‘get’ To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. If I break it down to the sum of its parts it is about a man who lacks a father figure who clings on to the families of the women he dates; the man is a dentist and has his identity stolen and has a mini mental breakdown over it.

So I can understand the separate parts but I don’t know what I was meant to feel afterwards. Therefore, all I can say about To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is that Joshua Ferris is a good writer but I don’t think I am the best audience for his books.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris is available now.

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

Title: Shelf-Love

Author: Ben Dolnick

Pages: 27 Pages

Publisher: Amazon Media

The Blurb

In “Shelf-Love,” Ben Dolnick recounts his feverish, hilarious, occasionally mortifying love for the writing of Alice Munro; an essay for everyone who has ever truly loved a book, and for anyone who has ever thought about writing one.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

What a strange little collection. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about shelf love as a concept. Lord knows I love my shelf so much that I ran out of room. Shelf-Love, the short collection by Ben Dolnick is all about his love for Alice Munro; a perfectly respectable love. I think that Ben Dolnick, to justify the existence of Shelf-Love and to make himself seem a little less fan-boyish should make this a series and celebrate other writers he loves as well. I really enjoyed Shelf-Love but it did leave me feeling that there could be more to this.

Shelf-Love by Ben Dolnick is available now

For more information regarding Ben Dolnick (@bendolnickbooks) please visit www.bendolnick.com.

Title: Love Hurts

Author: Malorie Blackman

Pages: 576 Pages

Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishers UK

The Blurb

Malorie Blackman brings together the best teen writers of today in a stunningly romantic collection about love against the odds. Featuring short stories and extracts about modern star-crossed lovers from stars such as Gayle Forman, Markus Zusak and Patrick Ness, and with a brand-new story from Malorie Blackman herself, Love Hurts looks at every kind of relationship, from first kiss to final heartbreak.

The Review

Love Hurts is an excellent compilation of stories and extracts from some of the most treasured writers of contemporary young adult fiction. What I loved about this collection is that it was broken down into unseen pieces of fiction (short stories) and that the other selection was like a publisher’s sampler which after reading all the extracts I ended up with a list of books that I wanted to find out more about.

I could understand why some people may feel cheated by this – almost like it is a way to make more money but I genuinely found it useful. No point buying every book when I only liked the sample of a few of them.

Love Hurts gets two big thumbs up from me.

Love Hurts by Malorie Blackman is available now.

For more information regarding Malorie Blackman (@malorieblackman) please visit www.malorieblackman.co.uk.

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