Title: All My Mothers

Author: Joanna Glen

Pages: 473 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

MEET EVA MARTÍNEZ-GREEN, AN ONLY CHILD FULL OF QUESTIONS ABOUT HER BEGINNINGS.

Between her emotionally absent mother and her physically absent father, there is nobody to answer them. Eva is convinced that all is not as it seems. Why are there no baby pictures of her? Why do her parents avoid all questions about her early years?

When her parents’ relationship crumbles, Eva begins a journey to find these answers for herself. Her desire to discover where she belongs leads Eva on a journey spanning decades and continents – and, along the way, she meets women who challenge her idea of what a mother should be, and who will change her life forever…

The Review

My favourite tropes in books are, in no particular order: 1) coming of age stories; 2) road trip/travel stories; and 3) family mystery stories. I was rather fortunate then to read All My Mothers by Joanna Glen which uses each of these tropes.

All My Mothers is the absolutely gorgeous story of Eva Martinez-Green. Eva does not feel right. Things feel off in her life and she cannot quite figure out why. When she compares her family to others she sees that there is a disconnect. This makes her desire for a “normal” family all the more intense.

Throughout All My Mothers we see Eva searching for her identity and in doing so she uncovers information about herself and her family that leads her down a path of self discovery. The book follows her from a small child to adulthood and we see her development physically and emotionally.

I adored this book. Joanna Glen is so good at painting a picture that you want to live in yourself and she had me hooked from the very first page.

All My Mothers by Joanna Glen is available now.

For more information regarding Joanna Glen (@JoannaGlenBooks) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (@HarperCollinsUK) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Tennis Lessons

Author: Susannah Dickey

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Doubleday Books

The Blurb

The darkly funny, fiercely honest debut novel about a spirited young misfit and her rocky road to womanhood, stopping at each year along the way.

You’re strange and wrong. You’ve known it from the beginning.

This is the voice that rings in your ears. Because you never say the right thing. You’re a disappointment to everyone. You’re a far cry from beautiful – and your thoughts are ugly too.

You seem bound to fail, bound to break.

But you know what it is to laugh with your best friend, to feel the first tentative tingles of attraction, to take exquisite pleasure in the affront of your unruly body.

You just need to find your place.

From dead pets and crashed cars to family traumas and misguided love affairs, Susannah Dickey’s revitalizing debut novel plunges us into the private world of one young woman as she navigates her rocky way to adulthood.

The Review

Tennis Lessons by Susannah Dickey is a moving story about the enduring nature of friendship. It is a coming of age story about navigating your formative years whilst being an outsider, or at least leaning on the periphery. 

There are many good things about this novel. The teenage turmoils are handles in a blatant way. Dickey doesn’t hide behind euphemisms, she shows how difficult it can be. She talks about period, bullying, sex etc with honesty and condor and Tennis Lessons is all the better for it. 

Tennis Lessons is a novel for the outsider, the one who grew up not quite fitting in. It is a good story.

Tennis Lessons by Susannah Dickey is available now.

For more information regarding Susannah Dickey (@SusannahDickey) please visit www.unitedagents.co.uk/susannah-dickey.

For more information regarding Doubleday Books (@DoubledayUK) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: Charlie and Me – 421 Miles from Home

Author: Mark Lowery

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Piccadilly Press

The Blurb

Thirteen-year-old Martin and his younger brother Charlie are on a very special journey. They’re going to be travelling 421 miles all the way from Preston to the very tip of Cornwall. By train, bus and taxi, they are determined to get there in the end; and they’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the dolphin that regularly visits the harbour there. But is that the only reason they are going?

It’s a journey that’s full of challenges and surprises. Martin adores his brother Charlie but he’s not like ordinary kids. He’s one in a million. He was born far too early, and ought to have died. And cheeky, irrepressible, utterly unique Charlie is always keeping Martin on his toes – especially on this crazy trip they are now on. Martin is doing his best to be a good big brother, but it’s hard when there’s something so huge coming once they get to Cornwall …

An unforgettable novel that is by turns funny and heartbreaking.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Oh my days. What a beautifully emotional story.

I bought seven copies of Charlie and Me: 421 Miles from Home. You may think “Seven? That’s a bit excessive.” Let me explain. I run a book club for my students and this book is on the Carnegie Long List for 2019 and I am trying to get through as many of them as possible before the short list is announced.

I gave it to my students having only read two chapters but I was enchanted already. This story of brotherly love was so funny and sweet and realistic that I knew that I was going to love it. My students did too. All of them came to me telling me that they loved it, that they laughed and that they cried. Charlie and Me: 421 Miles from Home really pulls at your heartstrings.

It is both a road-trip novel and a coming of age story which are two of my favourite kinds of tales. I really hope that Charlie and Me: 421 Miles from Home makes the Short List. It definitely deserves a place.

Charlie and Me: 421 Miles From Home by Mark Lowery is available now.

For more information regarding Mark Lowery (@HelloMarkLowery) please visit www.marklowery.co.uk.

For more information regarding Picadilly Press (@PiccadillyPress) please visit www.picadillypressblog.wordpress.com.

How to Build a GirlTitle: How to Build a Girl

Author: Caitlin Moran

Pages: 354 Pages

Publisher: Ebury Press

The Blurb

My name’s Johanna Morrigan. I’m fourteen, and I’ve just decided to kill myself.

I don’t really want to die, of course! I just need to kill Johanna, and build a new girl. Dolly Wilde will be everything I want to be, and more! But as with all the best coming-of-age stories, it doesn’t exactly go to plan…

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

My favourite genre of book or movie or, heck, even song, is one with a coming of age story at its heart. I love watching a character grow and develop and learn and just become who they are meant to be in this little fictional world. It makes my heart swell bigger than the Grinch’s. And this is exactly what I got from Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl.

Now I know I am a little late to the game on this one but to be fair I have a million books and there is, as of yet, not been a day added to the week allocated for just reading so you will have to forgive me. However, as I pressed pre-order on the sequel to How to Build A Girl (How to Be Famous – out in June) I decided to bump it to the top of the TBR pile and oh my wow I have fallen in love.

Besides being, as I have said, a coming of age story, How to Build a Girl is also a socio-economic study of class. In particular, working class status and what it means to be poor. Moran has made no secret about her unconventional upbringing and you can see how much of her heart and soul is infused in this story and how it actually takes someone who knows about class issues from a realistic vantage to be able to discuss them eruditely.

Moran uses the music of the times to forward the story along and completely immerses you in her world and I, for one, didn’t want to leave. Johanna Morrigan – our protagonist – really is a fictional heroine. One I wish I had to look up to when I was younger. And even though Caitlin Moran could write about the wing span of midgey flies and I would read it because I love her writing style I can honestly say that How to Build a Girl has taken the number one spot as my book of the year so far.

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran is available now.

For more information regarding Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) please visit www.caitlinmoran.co.uk.

For more information regarding Ebury Publishing (@EburyPublishing) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/publishers/ebury.

5 Stars

Title: Release

Author: Patrick Ness

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Walker Books

The Blurb

A startling and tender novel about how to let yourself love and set yourself free by Patrick Ness, the twice Carnegie Medal-winning author of A Monster Calls. Today will change Adam Thorn’s life. Between his religious family, unpleasant boss and his ex-boyfriend, the bindings of his world are coming undone. And way across town, a ghost has risen from the lake. Is there time for Adam to find his release?

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

For years I have avoided books written by Patrick Ness. You may be wondering why. He is a celebrated author after all; prize-winning even. However, about 8 years ago I read his book The Knife of Never Letting Go and I hated it. I just didn’t get it. So since then I have avoided his books.

I work in a school and spend the majority of my time trying to raise literacy levels; I work in the school library and spend the rest of my time in school discussing books with students and encouraging them to read. Now, with the Carnegie short list announced I decided it was time I gave Patrick Ness another chance. I picked up the book Release as my first read and man I have to tell you my humble pie tastes fantastic.

Release is amazing.

It is not what I expected at all. Ness deals with themes of identity, first love, sexuality, and growing up. His characters are alive on every page. I was transported to this Podunk religious town and I felt the oppressiveness that Adam felt.

Release really is a great story that I urge you to read.

Release by Patrick Ness is available now.

For more information regarding Patrick Ness (@Patrick_Ness) please visit www.patrickness.com.

For more information regarding Walker Books (@WalkerBooksUK) please visit www.walkerbooks.co.uk.

4 Stars