Title: The Smash-Up

Author: Ali Benjamin

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Quercus

The Blurb

After years spent in the city, working with his business partner Randy on Bränd media, Ethan finds himself in the quiet, closed-off town of Starkfield. His wife Zenobia is perpetually distracted by the swirling #MeToo politics, the Kavanaugh hearings, and her duties to the feminist activism group she formed: All Them Witches. Ethan finds himself caught between their regular meetings at his home and the battle to get his livewire daughter Alex to sleep.

But the new, stilted rhythm of his life is interrupted when he receives a panicked message. Accusations. Against Randy. A slew of them. And Ethan is abruptly forced to question everything: his past, his future, his marriage, and what he values most.

Unrelenting in its satire, The Smash-up jolts you into the twisted psyche of successful brand advertising, where historic exploitation is only ever a panicked phone-call away. With magnetic energy and doses of comic wit, Benjamin creates a world of social media algorithms, extreme polarization, the collapsing of identity into tweet-sized spaces, and the spectre of violence that can be found even in the quietest places.

The Review

The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin kept appearing on my Twitter feed. It was lauded as the latest new voice and a must read book and so I bought into the hype and requested it from NetGalley. Once again – because when so many people are singing a books praise – the Tweeters were right. The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin is not a comfortable read. The dichotomy of opposing forces – Masculinity verses Feminism (not the traditional opposite of femininity) is central to the development of the story and what Benjamin has managed to do so successfully is give both sides of the argument merit. Her take on feminism is brilliant, moving, intense, heartbreaking and, at times, all too real. This is especially powerful in the stream of conscious ramblings of Zen. Meanwhile, Ethan’s helplessness and inability to have any control reflects the worries of modern man.

The Smash-Up really is a powerful story that generously lends equal importance to topics that invariably lack equality.

The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin is available now.

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

Title: Love is for Losers

Author: Wibke Brueggemann

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

The Blurb

A laugh out loud look at first love, loss and trying to avoid the girl of your dreams. What a stupid expression that is in the first place: To fall in love. Like you fall into a ditch or something. Maybe people need to look where they’re going. As far as Phoebe Davies is concerned, love is to be avoided at all costs. Why would you spend your life worrying about something that turns you into a complete moron? If her best friend Polly is anything to go by, the first sniff of a relationship makes you forget about your friends (like, hello?), get completely obsessed with sex (yawn) and talk non-stop about a person who definitely isn’t as great as you think they are. So Phoebe decides isn’t going to fall in love. Ever. But that was before she met Emma.….. Love is for Losers is a hilarious, life-affirming novel about all the big stuff: love, sex, death, family, heartbreak, kittens, and kisses that turn the whole world upside down.

The Review

Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann is a brilliant story about love and loss. It covers a whole spectrum of issues such as losing your best friend to first love, LGBT representation, disability representation, parental issues among many many others.

The story follows Phoebe Davies who is a little bit of an outsider. She isn’t really comfortable with anyone but her close circle of friends and family however when she is forced to widen that circle we see her grow and Phoebe see’s how good life can be if you stop being so judgemental and let people in.

Phoebe is your classic flawed character. She is likeable but some of the things she does are not. She is quick to judge and sentence people when they act in a way that she deems inappropriate and she is always getting the wrong end of the stick but oddly it is these failures that make you like her and make her seem much more human.

I really enjoyed Love is for Losers. It is a great addition to the YA genre.

Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann is available now.

For more information regarding Wibke Brueggemann (@WibkeBrueggemann) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Macmillan Children’s Books(@MacmillanKidsUK) please visit www.panmacmillan.com.

Title: Toksvig’s Almanac 2021 – An Eclectic Meander Through the Historical Year

Author: Sandi Toksvig

Pages: 360 Pages

Publisher: Trapeze

The Blurb

Toksvig’s Almanac is intended merely as a starting point for your own discoveries. Find a fabulous (or infamous) woman mentioned and, please, go looking for more of her story. The names mentioned are merely temptations. Amuse-bouches for the mind, if you like. How I would have loved to have written out in detail each tale there is to be told, but then this book would have been too heavy to lift.’

Let Sandi Toksvig guide you on an eclectic meander through the calendar, illuminating neglected corners of history to tell tales of the fascinating figures you didn’t learn about at school.

From revolutionary women to serial killers, pirate nuns to pioneering civil rights activists, doctors to dancing girls, artists to astronauts, these pages commemorate women from all around the world who were pushed to the margins of historical record. Amuse your bouche with:

Belle Star, American Bandit Queen

Lady Murasaki, author of the world’s first novel

Madame Ching, the most successful pirate of all time

Maud Wagner, the first female tattoo artist

Begum Samru, Indian dancer and ruler who led an army of mercenaries

Inês de Castro, crowned Queen Consort of Portugal six years after her death

Ida B. Wells, activist, suffragist, journalist and co-founder of the NAACP

Eleanor G. Holm, disqualified from the 1936 Berlin Olympics for drinking too much champagne

These stories are interspersed with helpful tips for the year, such as the month in which one is most likely to be eaten by a wolf, and the best time to sharpen your sickle. Explore a host of annual events worth travelling for, from the Olney Pancake Race in Wiltshire to the Danish Herring Festival, or who would want to miss Serbia’s World Testicle Cooking Championship?

As witty and entertaining as it is instructive, Toksvig’s Almanac is an essential companion to each day of the year.

The Review

I love Sandi Toksvig. My love for her knows no bounds and all I really want to do is tickle her brain. She just knows so many amazing things and her latest book Toksvig’s Almanac is proof of that. It is a celebration of all the amazing – and times not so valued or remembered – fascinating things that women have done through the years. These women have been forgotten or hidden by history and it seems that Toksvig will not stand for it. I, for one, salute this.

I learned so much about so many women that I knew so little about when I read Toksvig’s Almanac. So many things have been forgotten or shoved to one side or retold to suit a patriarchal society that I know that I need books like this to help me understand the basics of a broader picture.

Toksvig’s Almanac really is the gift that keeps on giving. It is not a one time read. This could be read over and over again and it gives you a scope of things to research further. It is a book for all girls and one that should be gifted to everyone you know.

Toksvig’s Almanac 2021 – An Eclectic Meander Through the Historical Year by Sandi Toksvig is available now.

For more information regarding Sandi Toksvig (@sanditoksvig) please visit www.sanditoksvig.com.

For more information regarding Trapeze (@TrapezeBooks) please visit www.instagram.com/trapeze_books/.

Title: The Power of Privilege – How White People Can Challenge Racism

Author: June Sarpong

Pages: 128 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

The death of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests have made clear to everyone the vicious reality of racism that persists today. 

Many of those privileged enough to be distanced from racism are now having to come to terms with the fact that they continue to prosper at the detriment of others. Having spent the last four years researching, writing, and speaking about the benefits of diversity for society, June Sarpong is no stranger to educating and challenging those that have been enjoying the benefits of a system steeped in systemic racism without realising its true cost.

In The Power of Privilege, June will empower those fortunate enough not to be ‘otherised’ by mainstream Western society to become effective allies against racism, both by understanding the roots of their privilege and the systemic societal inequities that perpetuates it. The Power of Privilege offers practical steps and action-driven solutions so that those who have been afforded privilege can begin undoing the limiting beliefs held by society, and help build a fairer future for all.

The Review

I was absolutely blown away by Diversify by June Sarpong when I read it. Where I was expecting a book about the history of racism – which to be fair could have been full of anger and hurt – what I got was a very measured, practical guide to modern day racism across the spectrum and advice on how we can help to stop it – starting with the classroom. In her pocket sized book The Power of Privilege, June Sarpong discusses another, often ignored side of racism – privilege. 

It is easy to get confused by the term and become instantly defensive but it is a concept that needs further discussion and understanding and also acceptance that society has been built on white privilege. The sooner people accept that, the more likely institutionalised racism will hopefully come to an end. 

I listened to The Power of Privilege on audiobook and what I appreciated was that June Sarpong narrate it herself. This allowed her to get her points across more accurately than if someone else had narrated it for her.

The Power of Privilege isn’t an exhaustive read, yet it is an important one.

The Power of Privilege by June Sarpong is available now.

For more information regarding June Sarpong (@junesarpong) please visit www.junesarpong.co.uk.

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

Title: The Boston Girl

Author: Anita Diamant

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Scribner

The Blurb

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

The Review

I adored The Boston Girl. It is the story of Addie – a young, 1st generation Jewish girl who is living in America and trying to discover who she is meant to be and navigate in a world so very alien from what her family once knew. A difficult feat in any situation but even more so in a world that is rapidly changing as it was at the birth of the 20th century.

Addie recounts her life with all the struggles that you would expect a young woman to go through – growing up, love, relationships, family drama, death and much more but with the additional cultural difficulties to make it just that little bit harder.

What is brilliant is that Addie’s life journey parallels history – the war, the pandemic etc and because of her story, as a reader you get intimate details of all the historical drama.

The Boston Girl is brilliant. An absolute gem of a book.

For more information regarding Anita Diamant (@AnitaDiamant) please visit www.anitadiamant.com.

For more information regarding Scribner (@ScribnerBooks) please visit www.scribnerbooks.com.