Title: The Christmas Appeal

Author: Janice Hallett

Pages: 203 Pages

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

The Blurb

One dead Santa. A town full of suspects. Will you discover the truth? Christmas in Lower Lockwood, and the Fairway Players are busy rehearsing their festive pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, to raise money for the church roof appeal. But despite the season, goodwill is distinctly lacking amongst the amateur dramatics enthusiasts. Sarah-Jane is fending off threats to her new position as Chair, the fibreglass beanstalk might be full of asbestos, and a someone is intent on ruining the panto even before the curtain goes up. Of course there’s also the matter of the dead body. Who could possibly have had the victim on their naughty list? Join lawyers Femi and Charlotte as they read the round robins, examine the emails and pore over the police transcripts. Will the show go on?

The Review

Oh Janice Hallett. I feel like I have just been for a visit with old friends!

The Christmas Appeal takes us back to Lower Lockwood and our favourite amateur actors. This time the Fairway Players are putting on a performance of a pantomime – oh no they’re not – sorry I couldn’t resist. Once again we are faced with the temperamental egos of the players along with a dead body. What could possibly go wrong?

I really enjoyed The Christmas Appeal. It was such a tonic – funny, dry and full of warmth. Perfect for when the weather outside is cold and yuck.

The Christmas Appeal 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.

Title: This Could Be Everything

Author: Eva Rice

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

It’s 1990. The Happy Mondays are in the charts, a 15-year-old called Kate Moss is on the cover of the Face magazine, and Julia Roberts wears thigh-boots for the poster for a new movie called Pretty Woman

February Kingdom is nineteen years old when she is knocked sideways by family tragedy. Then one evening in May she finds an escaped canary in her kitchen and it sparks a glimmer of hope in her. With the help of the bird called Yellow, Feb starts to feel her way out of her own private darkness, just as her aunt embarks on a passionate and all-consuming affair with a married American drama teacher.

THIS COULD BE EVERYTHING is a coming-of-age story with its roots under the pavements of a pre-Richard Curtis-era Notting Hill that has all but vanished. It’s about what happens when you start looking after something more important than you, and the hope a yellow bird can bring… 

The Review

My favourite kind of book is a coming of age story. I just love the elements of it. Having Eva Rice – one of my safety authors – releasing a coming of age story is like a dream for me. This Could Be Everything is more than a coming of age story though. It is a story of loss, of grief, of insecurities that all centres around February and her formative years.

February is dealing with a lot of loss and the things that have happened to her have make her develop agrophobia. Through a chance meeting with a boy and a yellow canary February’s journey of self discovery starts.

I would be lying if I said this was my favourite Eva Rice novel but I did enjoy it. I enjoyed the randomness of the storyline and I was genuinely kept on my toes. I didn’t know how it was going to end.

This Could Be Everything is definitely worth a read.

This Could Be Everything by Eva Rice is available now.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster (@SimonBooks) please visit www.simonschuster.com.

Title: Lovestruck

Author: Laura Jane Williams

Pages: 410 Pages

Publisher: Century Publishing

The Blurb

This isn’t one love story. It’s two.

Becca Calloway is calling it: she’s ready for Mr Right, and she’s ready now.

She even goes as far as to hold a manifestation ceremony for him – and when she receives a text from her ex five minutes later, she knows it’s a sign.

The problem is, she doesn’t know which way it’s pointing…

Should Becca reply and reignite things with her old flame Mike? Or delete and block, moving forward with the new man in her life?

Becca has one choice, with two ways this could go. And in Lovestruck, you’re about to see them both…

The Review

Lovestruck was a really interesting take on a romance story. It is the story of Becca Calloway and how she wants to find the love of her life. And just like buses, three new loves appear all at once …sort of (I had to be really careful how I phrased that).

Told over parallel alternative timelines we see Becca navigate love with Mike, Carlos and Noah. Which one will Becca choose – even she doesn’t know.

So, often I have issues with the sort of groundhog day style of writing but Williams has been very clever about it and has actually managed to make you root for all three men AND still like the protagonist.

My one problem with Lovestruck is that while it was a good story I was able to put it down. It took me far longer than it normally does to read a book. I liked it but I didn’t manage to fully invest in it. I am glad I read it and the writing was really good it just didn’t engage me the way I was expecting it to.

Lovestruck by Laura Jane Williams is available now.

For more information regarding Century Publishing (@centurybooksuk) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: You Could Be So Pretty

Author: Holly Bourne

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Usborne

The Blurb

BEAUTY COMES AT A PRICE. AND GIRLS MUST PAY.

In Belle and Joni’s world there are two options for girls:

One, follow the rules of the Doctrine like Belle: apply your Mask, work hard to be crowned at the Ceremony, be a Pretty.

Or two, fight the rules like Joni: leave your face bare, work hard to escape to the Education, be an Objectionable.

But maybe there is a third option…

If Belle and Joni work together, can they destroy the rules and set themselves free?

Uglies meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this visionary and timely dissection of the beauty industry.

The Review

Holly Bourne is one of those writers whose books I will pick up without reading anything about them. I trust her as an author and I like to go into her stories without any preconceived ideas. And wow, what a read. You Could Be So Pretty is a powerful dystopian exploration of what it is like to be a teenage girl in modern society.

Looking at several aspects of being a teenager – academic expectations, beauty expectations, the control of social media and the power of ‘likes’, how information about sex is consumed. All of this whilst packaging it within a patriarchal society. It is a dystopian novel but as someone who works with teenagers I can also see how alarmingly accurate this dystopian world is.

You Could Be So Pretty is a perfect gateway novel to more adult texts such as The Handmaid’s Tail and Vox. It will be a book I demand our school library buys and I will make sure it gets into the hands of our teenagers. It is a must read.

You Could Be So Pretty by Holly Bourne is available now.

For more information regarding Holly Bourne (@holly_bourneYA) please visit www.hollybourne.co.uk.

For more information regarding Usborne Publishing (@Usborne) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Rouge

Author: Mona Awad

Pages: 383 Pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

The Blurb

For as long as she can remember, Belle has been insidiously obsessed with her skin and skincare videos. When her estranged mother Noelle mysteriously dies, Belle finds herself back in Southern California, dealing with her mother’s considerable debts and grappling with lingering questions about her death. The stakes escalate when a strange woman in red appears at the funeral, offering a tantalizing clue about her mother’s demise, followed by a cryptic video about a transformative spa experience. With the help of a pair of red shoes, Belle is lured into the barbed embrace of La Maison de Méduse, the same lavish, culty spa to which her mother was devoted. There, Belle discovers the frightening secret behind her (and her mother’s) obsession with the mirror—and the great shimmering depths (and demons) that lurk on the other side of the glass.

Snow White meets Eyes Wide Shut in this surreal descent into the dark side of beauty, envy, grief, and the complicated love between mothers and daughters. With black humor and seductive horror, ROUGE explores the cult-like nature of the beauty industry—as well as the danger of internalizing its pitiless gaze. Brimming with California sunshine and blood-red rose petals, ROUGE holds up a warped mirror to our relationship with mortality, our collective fixation with the surface, and the wondrous, deep longing that might lie beneath.

The Review

Okay, I don’t really know what I have just read to be honest. Rouge is the story of Belle who is dealing with the loss of her mother. That is about as much as I got from this story.

It was just plain weird.

The magic realism elements were beyond my understanding, I know they are a metaphor but I just sat perplexed as I read it. The whole Tom Cruise thing. I don’t know what I was expecting but needless to say I don’t think I got what the point of the novel was.

I really don’t know what to say about this book.

It has an enticing cover.

Rouge by Mona Awad is available now.

For more information regarding Simon & Schuster (@SimonBooks) please visit www.simonandschuster.com.