Title: Queer – A Collection of LGBTQ Writing from Ancient Times to Yesterday

Author: Frank Wynne (ed.)

Pages: 620 Pages

Publisher: Head of Zeus

The Blurb

LGBTQ writing from ancient times to yesterday selected by award-winning translator Frank Wynne.

Drawing together writing from Catullus to Sappho, from Arthur Rimbaud to Anne Lister and Armistead Maupin, translator Frank Wynne has collected eighty of the finest works representing queer love by LGBTQ authors.

These pieces straddle the spectrum of queer experience, from Verlaine’s sonnet in praise of his lover’s anus and Emily Dickinson’s exhortation of a woman’s beauty, to Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel of her coming out, Juno Dawson’s reflections on gender and Oscar Wilde’s ‘De Profundis’.

With stories, poems, extracts and scenes from countries the world over, Queer is an unabashed and unapologetic anthology, which gives voice to those often silenced.

The Review

I read quite a lot of LGBTQ literature but to be honest it mainly comes from a need to educate. I tend to stick to YA books because I want my students to have an outlet that wasn’t necessarily there when I was a student. I picked up Queer because I wanted to make a more informed and mature choice when it came to my reading choices.

What is brilliant about Queer is that it gives you snippets of stories and then you have the option to follow it up with further reading. I did this and bought other books by the contributors. I especially liked the chronology of the book. It showed that LGBTQ isn’t new. Its not something that has only been around for a short amount of time. As long as there have been people there has been LGBTQ people. I think that will be a comfort to the readers of this book.

Queer is a fantastic collection and I hope that it is only the start and that further collections will be collated in the future

Queer – A Collection of LGBTQ Writing from Ancient Times to Yesterday by Frank Wynne is available now.

For more information regarding Frank Wynne (@Terribleman) please visit www.frankwynne.com.

For more information regarding Head of Zeus (@HoZ_Books) please visit www.headofzeus.com.

Title: Madam

Author: Phoebe Wynne

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Quercus

The Blurb

For 150 years, Caldonbrae Hall has loomed high above the Scottish cliffs as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises that its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.

Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher and new head of department. Rose is overwhelmed by the institution: its arcane traditions, unrivalled prestige, and terrifyingly cool, vindictive students. Her classroom becomes her haven, where the stories of fearless women from ancient Greek and Roman history ignite the curiosity of the girls she teaches and, unknowingly, the suspicions of the powers that be.

But as Rose uncovers the darkness that beats at the very heart of Caldonbrae, the lines between myth and reality grow ever more blurred. It will be up to Rose – and the fierce young women she has come to love – to find a way to escape the fate the school has in store for them, before it is too late.

The Review

Madam by Phoebe Wynne was one of my most anticipated books of 2021. I love campus novels especially when there are unsettling undertones and mysterious elements involved and Madam has both of these things in spades.

It is the story of Rose, a young Classics teacher who has seemingly hit the occupational jackpot by being given the opportunity to work at an elite academy for young girls. However, things are not all that they seem. Pertinent information is kept from Rose as she is initially put on a probationary period. Rose is constantly on the backfoot from the teachers and from the students who know the ways and traditions of Caldonbrae. As Rose discovers the truth she has to come to a decision about the kind of teacher she wishes to be.

Phoebe Wynne has created a deeply unsettling novel. As my suspicions grew and as Iearned more about the academy alongside Rose I felt more and more uncomfortable. When a writer manages to get a visceral response from a reader you know that they have done a great job.

Madam by Phoebe Wynne will be released 13th May 2021.

For more information regarding Phoebe Wynne (@phoebewynne) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Quercus (@QuercusBoks) please visit www.quercusbooks.co.uk.

Title: The Hatmakers

Author: Tamzin Merchant

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Blurb

The first adventure in a spellbinding new magical world.

Cordelia comes from a long line of magical milliners, who weave alchemy and enchantment into every hat. In Cordelia’s world, Making – crafting items such as hats, cloaks, watches, boots and gloves from magical ingredients – is a rare and ancient skill, and only a few special Maker families remain.

When Cordelia’s father Prospero and his ship, the Jolly Bonnet, are lost at sea during a mission to collect hat ingredients, Cordelia is determined to find him. But Uncle Tiberius and Aunt Ariadne have no time to help the littlest Hatmaker, for an ancient rivalry between the Maker families is threatening to surface. Worse, someone seems to be using Maker magic to start a war.

It’s up to Cordelia to find out who, and why…

The Review

What I really love about middle grade fiction is the scope that the writer has. Younger children are more accepting of the weird, wacky and wonderful and that is exactly what you get in the world of The Hatmakers. It is a story about a young girl called Cordelia who has grown up with the intention of following in the family footsteps of becoming a milliner. However, her life plans begin to unravel when her father goes missing. This is the start of her epic adventure of self discovery.

Alongside this you have the story of rival companies – the glovemakers, the shoemakers etc all who have had a mass falling out. It is up to Cordelia and her friends to try and bring them all back together to save their country and also, maybe, save her father too.

The Hatmakers is a cute story but you do have to suspend your disbelief because some of the elements are fantastical. It is lovely to get immersed into a world and know that it is the first in a series of adventures.

The Hatmakers by Tamzin Merchant is available now.

For more information regarding Tamzin Merchant (@tamzinmerchant) please visit her Twitter page.

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

Title: The Moment of Lift

Author: Melinda Gates

Pages: 273 Pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

The Blurb

‘We need this message more than ever’ Malala Yousafzai

The right to:

Spend your own money. Go to school. Earn an income. Access contraceptives. Work outside the home. Walk outside the home. Choose whom to marry. Get a loan. Start a business. Own property. Divorce a husband. See a doctor. Drive a car.

All of these rights are denied to women in some parts of the world.

A Sunday Times bestselling debut from Melinda Gates, a timely and necessary call to action for women’s empowerment.

‘How can we summon a moment of lift for human beings – and especially for women? Because when you lift up women, you lift up humanity.’

In this moving and compelling book, Melinda shares the stories of the inspiring people she’s met during her work and travels around the world and the lessons she’s learned from them. As she writes in the introduction, “That is why I had to write this book – to share the stories of people who have given focus and urgency to my life. I want all of us to see ways we can lift women up where we live.”

Melinda’s unforgettable narrative is backed by startling data as she presents the issues that most need our attention – from child marriage to lack of access to contraceptives to gender inequity in the workplace. And, for the first time, she writes about her personal life and the road to equality in her own marriage. Throughout, she shows how there has never been more opportunity to change the world – and ourselves.

When we lift others up, they lift us up, too.

The Review

I won’t proclaim to know a lot about the Gates family. Besides knowing that Bill Gates owned Microsoft (I think) before reading this book I wouldn’t have been able to tell you much else except maybe the conspiracy theories surrounding the Covid jab but even then that was all conjecture. What I know now after reading The Moment of Lift is that the Gates family seem like pretty alright people.

Okay, so the book is hardly subjective being written by Melinda Gates and therefore being her perspective and highlighting the positives but if we look at the positives as a whole then the work that she does to help people seems pretty great. Educating girls about how to keep themselves safe, how to deliver babies safely in underpriviliged countries. Encouraging young women to get into STEM – on paper it all sounds wonderful.

Even if it turns out that all the conspiracy theories are true the things that you can take from this book is that it is well written and that it does elevate you to think differently about other people and how we all could do with helping others. That is a message that really resonates.

The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates is available now.

For more information regarding Melinda Gates (@melindagates) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Pan Macmillan (@panmacmillan) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Canongate

The Blurb

The touching, funny and heartwarming new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of How to Stop Time and Reasons to Stay Alive.

Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

The Review

It would be fair to say that I have a complicated relationship with Matt Haig’s writing. I have read a few of his books and whilst I have loved his non-fiction – seriously his perspective on mental health is fascinating and so very helpful – I haven’t really managed to get along too well with his fiction. However, at the insistence of a close friend I gave The Midnight Library a go and I have to admit I really, really liked it.

It is the story of Nora Seed – a young girl whose life doesn’t seem to have lived up to the promises of what life should be and due to that she wants her life to be over. She ends up in a place called The Midnight Library which gives her to opportunity to see how her life would be if she had taken different paths.

Now you could say that this is a trope that has been examined before – most notably in It’s A Wonderful Life – however, Haig has a brilliant way of juxtaposing the weird and wonderful with the ordinary and humdrum and he shows Nora Seed seeing how everyone is impacted by her existence in different forms. What is also great is that The Midnight Library is not twee. It is thoughtful and introspective but inviting and engaging.

Reading The Midnight Library has certainly made me more interested in reading more fiction from Matt Haig.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is available now.

For more information regarding Matt Haig (@matthaig1) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Canongate (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.