Title: How to Be Brave

Author: Daisy May Johnson

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Pushkin Press

The Blurb

A fizzingly funny, heartfelt middle-grade novel about a resourceful girl, her impractical mother and a kidnapping mystery.

Calla’s mum has never been normal. She’s been known to go out in a lab coat and slippers and often forgets to perform basic tasks because she’s been thinking about ducks. When a job offer arrives to study her beloved birds in the Amazon rainforest, Calla knows her mum has to go. Nervously, she agrees to go to boarding school.

She quickly learns that trouble is afoot in this odd convent school. A mean new headmistress is imposing horrible rules and making everyone eat Brussels sprout cake, and the students are itching to revolt. As Calla makes new friends and gets drawn into their rebellious plot, she keeps waiting for her mum to call. She will, won’t she?

Exuberantly funny and brimming with heart, How to Be Brave is a riotous celebration of the power of resourceful girls, stories and the right biscuit at the right time.

The Review

One of the tropes in books that I have loved since I was a little girl is main character forced to go to boarding school. The books of my youth made them seems o magical with midnight feasts and a gaggle of new friends and ultimately some evil to conquer. Daisy May Johnson’s How to be Brave plays into this so very well that it sparked in me a long forgotten love.

It is the story of Calla, a young girl who has taken up residence in a boarding school while her mum goes on an expedition of a life time. However, through this multigenerational tale we also see that nefarious people are in this school with an evil agenda to complete.

How to be Brave is a survival story and shows how collectively people can conquer evil. It is a joyous romp and leaves you smiling.

A very heart warming story.

How to be Brave by Daisy May Johnson is available now.

For more information regarding Daisy Mae Johnson (@chaletfan) please visit www.didyoueverstoptothink.com.

For more information regarding Pushkin Press (@PushkinPress) please visit www.pushkinpress.com.

Title: Lipstick and Leather – On the Road with the World’s Most Notorious Rock Stars

Author: Kim Hawes

Pages: 332 Pages

Publisher: Sandstone Press

The Blurb

What do Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Elvis Costello, Rush and Chumbawamba have in common?

Kim Hawes, pioneering female tour manager.

Through hard work, hard partying and hard times, Kim refused to conform to others’ expectations. She hurled a TV through the glass ceiling of the male dominated music industry, blazing a trail for young women today.

This is no ordinary tale of life on the road.

The Review

When I was younger I had one ambition in life and that was to stand at the side of the stage at rock concerts and gigs and to follow a band on tour. Blame Almost Famous. I craved it so much but alas it wasn’t the life I ended up having.

It is still something I wish had happened but I have come to terms with the fact that it hasn’t happened for me. One of the ways that I deal with that blow is to read rock memoirs so that I can experience things vicariously. Lipstick and Leather was a perfect read for me in that respect. I was never going to be a musician or a roadie but I would have loved to have been a tour manager like Kim Hawes.

Lipstick and Leather is a warts and all memoir about what life on the road was like. She shows you the highs but brings you back down to reality with the lows. What you get when you read Lipstick and Leather is a sense that Kim Hawes has no regrets over the experiences that she had. She recognises the privilege of her experience and knows that very few get to do what she did. However, rather graciously she has invited you to ride pillion with her in her memories. What a gloriously rock and roll time she had.

I’m envious but thankful for the vicarious experience.

Lipstick and Leather – On the Road with the World’s Most Notorious Rock Stars by Kim Hawes is available now.

For more information regarding Kim Hawes (@KimTM) please visit www.kimtm.com.

For more information regarding Sandstone Press (@sandstonepress) please visit www.sandstonepress.com.

Title: I’m Sorry You Feel That Way

Author: Rebecca Wait

Pages: 380 Pages

Publisher: Quercus Books

The Blurb

For Alice and Hanna, saint and sinner, growing up is a trial. There is their mother, who takes a divide-and-conquer approach to child-rearing, and their father, who takes an absent one. There is also their older brother Michael, whose disapproval is a force to be reckoned with. 

There is the catastrophe that is never spoken of, but which has shaped everything . . .

As adults, Alice and Hanna must deal with disappointments in work and in love as well as increasingly complicated family tensions, and lives that look dismayingly dissimilar to what they’d intended. They must look for a way to repair their own fractured relationship, and they must finally choose their own approach to their dominant mother: submit or burn the house down. And they must decide at last whether life is really anything more than (as Hanna would have it) a tragedy with a few hilarious moments.

From the author of the Waterstones Book of the Month Our Fathers comes a compelling domestic comedy about complex family dynamics, mental health and the intricacies of sibling relationships.

The Review

Family dynamics are always fascinating. I look at my own family and I have to laugh at who talks to who, who doesn’t talk to who, who the black sheep are (yes are, it’s a big family) and who has these annoying foibles that we just let be. Every family has a dynamic that is unique to them. This is the crux of Rebecca Wait’s I’m Sorry You Feel That Way. It is about the nuances that all families have and how they can impact you on a daily basis.

The dynamics for Alice and Hanna parallel their mothers relationship with her sister and overall the matriarch seems to filter down her “special ways” which impact the rest of the family. It is such an interesting story, especially with the multi generational perspective.

I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy I’m Sorry You Feel That Way as much as I did. This one will linger with me for a while.

I’m Sorry You Feel That Way by Rebecca Wait is available now.

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

Title: The Details

Author: Ia Genberg

Pages: 176 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

A famous broadcaster writes a forgotten love letter; a friend abruptly disappears; a lover leaves something unexpected behind; a traumatised woman is consumed by her own anxiety.

In the throes of a high fever, a woman lies bedridden. Suddenly, she is struck with an urge to revisit a particular novel from her past. Inside the book is an inscription: a message from an ex-girlfriend.

Pages from her past begin to flip, full of things she cannot forget and people who cannot be forgotten. Johanna, that same ex-girlfriend, now a famous TV host. Niki, the friend who disappeared all those years ago. Alejandro, who appears like a storm in precisely the right moment. And Birgitte, whose elusive qualities shield a painful secret.

Who is the real subject of a portrait, the person being painted or the one holding the brush? The Details is a novel built around four such portraits, unveiling the fragments of memory and experience that make up a life. In exhilarating, provocative prose, Ia Genberg reveals an intimate and powerful celebration of what it means to be human.

The Review

Whenever I read translated fiction I always marvel at just how different it is. Ia Grenberg’s The Details is a book full of poetic language and gorgeous reflective sentences but nothing actually happens. I’ve read books that do the same thing and found them extremely annoying but The Details was a one sitting read for me and I was intoxicated by this world that Grenberg had created in her interlinked stories.

I feel like this is one of those books that you can come back to at various points in your life and find something new that you had missed the first time round, where something that was maybe throw-away at one age suddenly becomes so important at another.

I think this book will get a reread in a few years time.

The Details by Ia Genberg is available now.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

Title: The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels

Author: Janice Hallett

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

The Blurb

Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the sad story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. Believing they had a divine mission to kill the infant, they were only stopped when the girl came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than stand trial, while mother and baby disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed; if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. And the story of the Alperton Angels is far from over.

From the bestselling author of The Appeal and The Twyford Code comes a stunning new mystery for fans of Richard Osman and S.J. Bennett. The devil is in the detail…

The Review

I have read Janice Hallett’s previous books The Appeal and The Twyford Code and I really enjoyed the format. Hallett’s unique way of telling stories through mixed media is really engaging. However, I was starting to wonder if it was getting a bit….samey.

I was wrong.

Her latest book, The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels, is by far her best in my opinion. It looks at the unsolved case of the Alperton Angels, a cult that set about trying to convince a vulnerable young girl to sacrifice a child.

It is a story about coercion, about police corruption, about the ethical nature of journalism and it was brilliant. Janice Hallett is a master a drip feeling you enough clues to keep you guessing.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is a bloody good page turner.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett is available now.

For more information regarding Janice Hallett (@JaniceHallett) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Serpent’s Tail (@serpentstail) please visit www.serpentstail.com.