Title: Bad Men

Author: Julie Mae Cohen

Pages: 314 Pages

Publisher: Bonnier Books

The Blurb

Saffy Huntley-Oliver has a secret. A secret that she is deeply ashamed of. It’s not the fact that she’s a serial killer in her free time. In fact, she’s quite proud of that. After all she’s only killing the bad men. She is making the world a better place.

No, her secret is far worse than that. Saffy has a messy, inexplicable, uncontrollable crush. So while she’s busy plotting her next murder, she also has the much harder task of figuring out how to get a boyfriend.

But if there’s one thing Saffy knows, it’s how to get her man . . .

The Review

Bad Men is a funny book. I could leave the review at that but I won’t.

You have heard of boy math. You have heard of girl math. Now we need to look at killer math. Saffy Huntley-Oliver is a bit of a sociopath. She has spent her life as a vigilante. She murders men who she thinks shouldn’t be alive anymore. When Saffy falls in love with a crime podcaster she sets about staging a meet cute with very bad consequences.

Julie Mae Cohen has really struck a funny note with this book. I love the concept and the delivery was excellent. It reminded me of the Sweetpea series by CJ Skuse. Saffy is a seriously intimidating protagonist who you cannot help but love. There were things she did – not the murdery things, this isn’t a confession – that I totally understood and I have to applaud Julie Mae Cohen for creating such a memorable character. I only wish there were more stories featuring Saffy Huntley-Oliver.

Bad Men. Buy it now!

Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen is available now.

For more information regarding Julie Mae Cohen (@julie_cohen) please visit www.julie-cohen.com.

For more information regarding Bonnier Books (@bonnierbooks_uk) please visit www.bonnierbooks.co.uk.

Title: The Four

Author: Ellie Keel

Pages: 435 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

ONE SECRET COULD DESTROY THEM ALL

Powerful. Sinister. Heart-wrenching. Unmissable.

We were always The Four. From our very first day at High Realms.

The four scholarship pupils. Outsiders in a world of power and privilege.

It would have made our lives a lot easier if Marta had simply pushed Genevieve out of our bedroom window that day. Certainly, it would have been tragic. She would have died instantly.

But Marta didn’t push her then, or – if you choose to believe me – at any other time. If she had, all of what we went through would not have happened.

I’ve told this story as clearly as I could – as rationally as I’ve been able, in the circumstances, to achieve. I don’t regret what we did. And I would do it all again.

The Review

One of my all time favourite settings for a story is in a school. This has always seemed particularly strange to me as in my day job I work in a school so you would think that I would want to escape from that setting. The thing is that when a school setting is explored well – and believe me, Ellie Keel has done this very well – it does become escapism…just not in the relaxing way.

The Four is the story of four young scholarship students who have won the educational lottery. They get to attend one of the most elite schools for free. Here they will make friends and rub shoulders with some of the most important people of the future cultivating relationships that they can use as they grow older. What they soon realise though is that they will always be “other” and will not fit in with the wealthy elite and due to this their lives are made increasingly difficult by their peer and their educators. It is sink or swim for these four teenagers but will the drive to succeed come at a deadly cost.

Ellie Keel has done a masterful job of showing how hierarchy and privilege can be so detrimental and hurtful and this is one of the ways in which I feel that Keel has presented the school setting so well. Whilst my school is not an elite academy you still see these social rules even today.

What’s more is that Keel keeps you on the edge of your seat praying for the underdogs to succeed. She really makes you care for these characters. Equally, she shows the reader that where you start off in life doesn’t always have to be your destination.

I was so eager and excited to read The Four. It was one of the books I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint.

The Four by Ellie Keel is available now.

For more information regarding Ellie Keel (@elliekeel1) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Julia

Author: Sandra Newman

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Granta Publications

The Blurb

Julia is a bold feminist retelling of Nineteen Eighty-Four that goes beyond Winston Smith’s story to finally reveal what life in Oceania was like for women.

London, chief city of Airstrip One, the third most populous province of Oceania. It’s 1984 and Julia Worthing works as a mechanic fixing the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department at the Ministry of Truth. Under the ideology of IngSoc and the rule of the Party and its leader Big Brother, Julia is a model citizen – cheerfully cynical, believing in nothing and caring not at all about politics. She routinely breaks the rules but also collaborates with the regime whenever necessary. Everyone likes Julia. A diligent member of the Junior Anti-Sex League (though she is secretly promiscuous) she knows how to survive in a world of constant surveillance, Thought Police, Newspeak, Doublethink, child spies and the black markets of the prole neighbourhoods. She’s very good at staying alive.

But Julia becomes intrigued by a colleague from the Records Department – a mid-level worker of the Outer Party called Winston Smith – when she sees him locking eyes with a superior from the Inner Party at the Two Minutes Hate. And when one day, finding herself walking toward Winston, she impulsively hands him a note – a potentially suicidal gesture – she comes to realise that she’s losing her grip and can no longer safely navigate her world.

Seventy-five years after Orwell finished writing his iconic novel, Sandra Newman has tackled the world of Big Brother in a truly convincing way, offering a dramatically different, feminist narrative that is true to and stands alongside the original. For the millions of readers who have been brought up with Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, here, finally, is a provocative, vital and utterly satisfying companion novel.

The Review 

Often, with memorable works of literature, it is our tertiary characters that have more interesting stories to tell. Julia from 1984 is one of those characters. Sandra Newman has decided to tell this story in her novel Julia. 

Like in 1984, Julie works for the Ministry of Truth and she wears her anti-sex sash but behind the dystopian rules we find out what Julia really thinks and how she is surviving living in this nightmarish society.

Told with a feminist slant, we see how women fare in male dominated societies and it is hard not to draw comparisons to real life. 

I really enjoyed this re-telling and wish more authors would pluck characters from novels and tell their side of things. 

Julia by Sandra Newman is available now. 

For more information regarding Granta Publications (@GrantaBooks) please visit www.granta.com.

Title: Fleishman is in Trouble

Author: Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Pages: 373 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

Finally free from his nightmare marriage, Toby Fleishman is ready for a life of online dating and weekend-only parental duties. But as he optimistically looks to a future that is wildly different from the one he imagined, his life turns upside-down as his ex-wife, Rachel, suddenly disappears.

While Toby tries to find out what happened – juggling work, kids and his new, app-assisted sexual popularity – his tidy narrative of a spurned husband is his sole consolation. But if he ever wants to really understand where Rachel went and what really happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen it all that clearly in the first place . . .

The Review

I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I began reading Fleishman was in Trouble but quickly realised that I was in for a bit of a ride. It is the story of recently divorced Toby Fleishman who wakes up one morning to find that his ex-wife has sneaked the children into his apartment and has disappeared. What happens next is a funny series of events and watching as Toby struggles to find his pace as a single father. 

Fleishman is in Trouble is very much a character driven novel as not much actually happens throughout the story however we do delve into our main characters life, his way of thinking and the ennui he feels about being an adult. 

It was an interesting story but it was often hard to empathise with Toby and there were times when I questioned his decisions. Overall, it was an enjoyable read.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner is available now.

For more information regarding Taffy Brodesser-Akner (@taffyakner) please visit www.taffyakner.com.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Keanu Reeves is Not in Love with You – The Murky World of Online Romance

Author: Becky Holmes

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Unbound

The Blurb

One woman’s hilarious and fascinating quest to expose the truth behind fraudulent Twitter profiles: romance scammers beware, you have met your match!

Online romance fraud is a problem across the globe. It causes financial and emotional devastation, yet many people refuse to take it seriously. This is the story of one middle-aged woman in a cardigan determined to understand this growing phenomenon. 

No other woman has had so many online romances – from Keanu Reeves to Brad Pitt to Prince William – and Becky Holmes is a favourite among peacekeeping soldiers and oil rig workers who desperately need iTunes vouchers. By winding up scammers and investigating the truth behind their profiles, Becky shines a revealing, revolting and hilarious light on a very shady corner of the internet. 

Featuring first-hand accounts of victims, examples of scripts used by fraudsters, a look into the psychology of fraud and of course plenty of Becky’s hysterical interactions with scammers, this is a must-read for anyone who needs a reminder that Keanu Reeves is NOT in love with them.

The Review

With a title like Keanu Reeves is Not in Love with You you would expect this to be a really funny comedic novel about the perils of online fraud and Becky Holmes definitely delivered on that front. There were moments of this book that I laughed out loud. Becky Holmes really has got the funniest comebacks. 

The best way I can describe this book is a bit of a sad sandwich. When you are holding your stomach giggling Becky Holmes blindsides you with the harsh realities by showing you the true devastation with real life stories.

Keanu Reeves is Not in Love with You is a funny book with a serious message and is definitely worth a read.  

Keanu Reeves is Not in Love with You – The Murky World of Online Romance  by Becky Holmes is available now.

For more information regarding Becky Holmes (@deathtospinach) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Unbound (@unbounders) please visit www.unbound.com.