Title: The Rachel Incident

Author: Caroline O’Donoghue

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

The Blurb

The Rachel Incident is an all-consuming love story. But it’s not the one you’re expecting. It’s unconventional and messy. It’s young and foolish. It’s about losing and finding yourself. But it is always about love.

When Rachel falls in love with her married professor, Dr Byrne, her best friend James helps her devise a plan to seduce him. But what begins as a harmless crush soon pushes their friendship to its limits. Over the course of a year they will find their lives ever more entwined with the Byrnes’ and be faced with impossible choices and a lie that can’t be taken back…

The Review

I’ve read books by Caroline O’Donoghue before and I have really enjoyed them but none as much as I liked The Rachel Incident.

The Rachel Incident is a delicious coming of age drama set in Ireland. It deals with topics such as friendship, first love, inappropriate crushes and mostly how devastatingly hard it can be to grow up. How there isn’t a guide book on how to do it correctly and how so many mistakes can be made and just how easily that can happen.

Rachel – for all her undesirable qualities – is such a likable protagonist. You want her to be successful and happy but you know that journey isn’t going to be smooth and you ride right beside her all the way through. You see the good, the bad and the downright ugly but you still root for her.

O’Donoghue’s characterisation is majestic and I became so involved with these characters lives. I wanted more. I wanted to be friends with them all. As a reader, I was on the periphery. I wanted to be in the inner circle.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Rachel Incident and would completely recommend it to anyone and everyone.

The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue is available now.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

Title: Liccle Bit

Author: Alex Wheatle

Pages: 217 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

The Blurb

What’s worse than hiding a secret? Liccle Bit’s about to find out…

Venetia King is the hottest girl at school. Too bad Lemar is the second shortest guy in his year. Everyone calls him Liccle Bit, and his two best friends, McKay and Jonah, never tire of telling him he has no chance with girls. Things aren’t much better at home. His mum is permanently hassled, his sister a frustrated single mum and his dad moved out years ago. Liccle Bit wishes he could do something – anything! – to make life better. A new phone would be a start… 

When Venetia starts paying Liccle Bit attention, he secretly hopes he’s on a fast track to a first date. Unfortunately, as a new gang war breaks out, he finds himself on a fast track to something much more sinister. South Crongton’s notorious gang leader has taken an interest in Liccle Bit. Before he knows what’s happening, he finds himself running errands. But when he hears about a killing on the estate, Liccle Bit is forced to question his choices. How can he possibly put things right?

The Review

If you want a realistic hard hitting drama for kids you really should look no further than Alex Wheatle. He manages to deal with real issues that happen in socially deprived areas and make them seem realistic – not overly dramatic but with enough clout to know that the consequences will be dire.

Liccle Bit focuses on Lemar and how he unwittingly ends up on the cusp of criminal activity. Torn between loyalty and a want to better his circumstances Lemar ends up getting involved in things that should not concern a young teenage lad.

Alex Wheatle uses his stories as moral tales to show that there are much better things that a person can be doing with their time than be getting themselves caught up in a life of crime. I didn’t mean for that to rhyme.

Liccle Bit by Alex Wheatle is available now.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

Title: Same Old Girl

Author: Sylvia Patterson

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

The Blurb

How does the big stuff in life truly change us?

In late 2019, Sylvia Patterson was a celebrated pop journalist, still merrily writing about the musical greats. But with the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease, a global pandemic and the collapse of her industry, life was about to take a drastic turn.

It was a misadventure that would teach her many things. The power of friendship, the shock of mortality and what happens when love is tested. How a walk in the park, a spontaneous dance and a TV hero can save your life. How your perspective can shift on everything, from work, family and music, to what truly makes you happy. And what really happens when your body, never mind your kitchen, falls apart.

The follow-up to the Costa-shortlisted I’m Not with the Band, this is Sylvia’s unflinching, poignant and gallows-funny odyssey through the mid-life trials we all face, as she tries to answer the big question: would it all change her, or would she stay that same old girl?

The Review

I have been envious of Sylvia Patterson for a while. She had the rock and roll life style that I could only dream of – standing at the side of the stage of music history and getting to write about it for a job. I was extremely jealous and I hoovered her book I’m Not With the Band a few years ago. When I saw that another book was going to be released I was eager to read it and wondered what part of Patterson’s life I would be envious of next. Well, I got my eye wiped.

Same Old Girl is not focused on music but is focused on Sylvia Patterson’s cancer diagnosis and how she dealt with it. Through her own inner strength combined with the love she got from family and friends and the tireless work of the NHS Sylvia Patterson documents this journey. And whilst I can honestly say that I am not jealous of this things she has been through but if I ever do find myself in that position I hope that I handle it with the grace and power that she did.

Same Old Girl is a brilliant memoir.

Same Old Girl by Sylvia Patterson is available now.

For more information regarding Sylvia Patterson (@SylvPatterson) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

Title: Mean Baby – A Memoir of Growing Up

Author: Selma Blair

Pages: 299 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

The Blurb

Selma Blair has played many archetypal roles: gullible ingenue in Cruel Intentions. Preppy ice queen in Legally Blonde. Fire-starter in Hellboy. Muse to Karl Lagerfeld. Face of Chanel. Cover model. Advocate for the multiple sclerosis community. But before all of that, Selma was known best for being one thing: a mean baby. In a memoir that is as wildly funny as it is emotionally shattering, Selma Blair tells the captivating story of growing up and finding her truth. 

The first story Selma Blair Beitner ever heard about herself is that she was a mean, mean baby. With her mouth pulled in a perpetual snarl and a head so furry it had to be rubbed to make way for her forehead, Selma spent years living up to her terrible reputation: biting her sisters, lying spontaneously, getting drunk from Passover wine at the age of seven, and behaving dramatically so that she would be the center of attention. 

Although Selma went on to become a celebrated Hollywood actress and model, she could never quite shake the periods of darkness that overtook her, the certainty that there was a great mystery at the heart of her life. She often felt like her arms might be on fire, a sensation not unlike electric shocks, and she secretly drank to escape. 

Over the course of this beautiful and, at times, shocking memoir, Selma lays bare her addiction to alcohol, her devotion to her brilliant and complicated mother, and the moments she flirted with death. There is brutal violence, passionate love, true friendship, the gift of motherhood and, finally, the simultaneous devastation and surprising salvation of a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. In a voice that is powerfully original, fiercely intelligent, and full of hard-won wisdom, Selma Blair’s Mean Baby is a deeply human memoir and a true literary achievement.

The Review

I have read a lot of autobiographies. I like the nosy insight into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. However, I am fully aware that the choices of what stories are included in these books are a mixture of the highlight reel of someone’s life and the carefully selected stories that paint the writer in the best light. Selma Blair appears to do the opposite. In her autobiography, Mean Baby, she points out every flaw that she has and she owns it. She talks about the strange and unusual things she did as a child and a young adult and she reflects on why she did these things (the main reason being ‘just because’) and she shows you her warts and all self. It is refreshing but also painful at times to watch her reveal herself as she slowly peels layers of her skin off to show the true Selma. Impressive but harsh.

I don’t think I have ever had such a visceral response to an autobiography but Selma Blair manages to have an impact.

Whilst the stories are difficult what is ultimately the saving grace of this hard story is seeing just how thankful Selma Blair is for the things that have happened to her and the people in her life that have helped her along the way.

Mean Baby is an autobiography that will stay with me for a long time.

Mean Baby – A Memoir of Growing Up by Selma Blair is available now.

For more information regarding Selma Blair (@SelmaBlair) please visit her Twitter Page.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit www.littlebrown.co.uk.

Title: Permanent Record

Author: Mary H K Choi

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK

The Blurb

On paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.

Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.

When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Leanna and Pablo turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.

The Review

Permanent Record is a sort of reverse Cinderella story between a young man, Pablo who is struggling to try and fit in to his position as adult and Leanna who is a celebrity who is confused by her desire for normality without losing the fame and fortune she has accrued.

Let’s start with Pablo: He is a college dropout, seriously in debt, can’t figure out what he wants to do but knows that he wants to make a fortune doing it. He wants to be successful but does not want to accept that success is hard work. He has a complicated relationship with his family and often screws up monumentally.

Leanna is a pop star/childhood sensation who cannot cut her hair without making global news. She longs for normality but actually doesn’t know how to be normal because her normal is so different from everyone else’s that she often acts selfishly without realising that she cannot solve her problems by throwing her wealth around.

They make an unlikely pair but as a reader you really root for them to be together. My one negative about the book isn’t really a negative about the book. That sounds a bit confusing but her me out. I am not a young adult. I enjoy YA fiction but I am a fully grown adult in my thirties and at time I didn’t quite understand the vernacular used by the characters. That is on me though. Mary H K Choi is writing for a very different age group who would know about the things that I found confusing.

Permanent Record is a really good story that has two highly flawed but likeable characters. Make sure you add it to your to be read list.

Permanent Record by Mary H K Choi is available now.

For more information regarding Mary H K Choi (@choitotheworld) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Little, Brown Book Group (@LittleBrownUK) please visit their Twitter page.