Title: The Beholders

Author: Hester Musson

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: 4th Estate

The Blurb

June, 1878. The body of a boy is pulled from the depths of the River Thames, suspected to be the beloved missing child of the widely admired Liberal MP Ralph Gethin.

Four months earlier. Harriet is a young maid newly employed at Finton Hall. Fleeing the drudgery of an unwanted engagement in the small village where she grew up, Harriet is entranced by the grand country hall; she is entranced too by her glamorous mistress Clara Gethin, whose unearthly singing voice floats through the house. But Clara, though captivating, is erratic. The master of the house is a much-lauded politician, but he is strangely absent. And some of their beautiful belongings seem to tell terrible stories.

Unable to ignore her growing unease, Harriet sets out to discover their secrets. When she uncovers a shocking truth, a chain of events is set in motion that could cost Harriet everything, even her freedom…

The Review

The Beholders by Hester Musson is a time travelling novel…well not in the traditional sense but in the sense that the reader is taken back in time to another life in Victorian Britain. 

When Harriet takes a position in a stately manor for a powerful family she realises that the lifestyle of the rich aren’t always as easy as they seem. 

Dripping with mystery and intrigue, The Beholders really shines a light on the secrets held by those with power and how keeping up appearances is the only way to retain power. 

I really enjoyed The Beholders. It was a good read with plenty on the page to keep you gripped. 

The Beholders by Hester Musson is available now.

For more information regarding 4th Estate (@4thEstateBooks) please visit www.4thestate.co.uk.

Title: Bad Men

Author: Julie Mae Cohen

Pages: 314 Pages

Publisher: Bonnier Books

The Blurb

Saffy Huntley-Oliver has a secret. A secret that she is deeply ashamed of. It’s not the fact that she’s a serial killer in her free time. In fact, she’s quite proud of that. After all she’s only killing the bad men. She is making the world a better place.

No, her secret is far worse than that. Saffy has a messy, inexplicable, uncontrollable crush. So while she’s busy plotting her next murder, she also has the much harder task of figuring out how to get a boyfriend.

But if there’s one thing Saffy knows, it’s how to get her man . . .

The Review

Bad Men is a funny book. I could leave the review at that but I won’t.

You have heard of boy math. You have heard of girl math. Now we need to look at killer math. Saffy Huntley-Oliver is a bit of a sociopath. She has spent her life as a vigilante. She murders men who she thinks shouldn’t be alive anymore. When Saffy falls in love with a crime podcaster she sets about staging a meet cute with very bad consequences.

Julie Mae Cohen has really struck a funny note with this book. I love the concept and the delivery was excellent. It reminded me of the Sweetpea series by CJ Skuse. Saffy is a seriously intimidating protagonist who you cannot help but love. There were things she did – not the murdery things, this isn’t a confession – that I totally understood and I have to applaud Julie Mae Cohen for creating such a memorable character. I only wish there were more stories featuring Saffy Huntley-Oliver.

Bad Men. Buy it now!

Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen is available now.

For more information regarding Julie Mae Cohen (@julie_cohen) please visit www.julie-cohen.com.

For more information regarding Bonnier Books (@bonnierbooks_uk) please visit www.bonnierbooks.co.uk.

Title: The Four

Author: Ellie Keel

Pages: 435 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

ONE SECRET COULD DESTROY THEM ALL

Powerful. Sinister. Heart-wrenching. Unmissable.

We were always The Four. From our very first day at High Realms.

The four scholarship pupils. Outsiders in a world of power and privilege.

It would have made our lives a lot easier if Marta had simply pushed Genevieve out of our bedroom window that day. Certainly, it would have been tragic. She would have died instantly.

But Marta didn’t push her then, or – if you choose to believe me – at any other time. If she had, all of what we went through would not have happened.

I’ve told this story as clearly as I could – as rationally as I’ve been able, in the circumstances, to achieve. I don’t regret what we did. And I would do it all again.

The Review

One of my all time favourite settings for a story is in a school. This has always seemed particularly strange to me as in my day job I work in a school so you would think that I would want to escape from that setting. The thing is that when a school setting is explored well – and believe me, Ellie Keel has done this very well – it does become escapism…just not in the relaxing way.

The Four is the story of four young scholarship students who have won the educational lottery. They get to attend one of the most elite schools for free. Here they will make friends and rub shoulders with some of the most important people of the future cultivating relationships that they can use as they grow older. What they soon realise though is that they will always be “other” and will not fit in with the wealthy elite and due to this their lives are made increasingly difficult by their peer and their educators. It is sink or swim for these four teenagers but will the drive to succeed come at a deadly cost.

Ellie Keel has done a masterful job of showing how hierarchy and privilege can be so detrimental and hurtful and this is one of the ways in which I feel that Keel has presented the school setting so well. Whilst my school is not an elite academy you still see these social rules even today.

What’s more is that Keel keeps you on the edge of your seat praying for the underdogs to succeed. She really makes you care for these characters. Equally, she shows the reader that where you start off in life doesn’t always have to be your destination.

I was so eager and excited to read The Four. It was one of the books I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint.

The Four by Ellie Keel is available now.

For more information regarding Ellie Keel (@elliekeel1) please visit her Twitter page.

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

Title: Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS – A Memoir

Author: Derek Frost

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Watkins Publishing

The Blurb

This is the tale of a devastating pandemic, of lives cut painfully short; it’s also a love letter.

Derek, a distinguished designer and J, his husband, a pioneering entrepreneur and creator of both The Embassy Club, London’s answer to Studio 54, and iconic Heaven, Europe’s largest gay discotheque, met and fell in love more than 40 years ago. 

Their lives were high-octane, full of adventure, fun and fearless creativity. Suddenly their friends began to get sick and die – AIDS had arrived in their lives. When they got tested, J received what was then a death sentence: he was HIV Positive. While the onset of AIDS strengthened stigma and fear globally, they confronted their personal crisis with courage, humour and an indomitable resolve to survive. J’s battle lasted six long years. Turning to spiritual reflection, yoga, nature – and always to love – Derek describes a transformation of the spirit, how compassion and empathy rose phoenix-like from the flames of sickness and death. Out of this transformation also came Aids Ark, the charity they founded, which helped to save, amongst the world’s most marginalised people, more than 1,000 HIV Positive lives.

This is a story of joy and triumph; about facing universal challenges; about the great rewards that come from giving back. Derek speaks for a generation who lived through a global health crisis that many in society refused even to acknowledge. His is a powerful story chronicling this extraordinary time.

The Review

I have read quite a few books about AIDS – both fiction and nonfiction – and I am always hit afresh with just how awful this time period was and the impact it had on society.

Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS by Derek Frost is a firsthand account of what it was like to be a young gay man during this period. He talks about the fear and the anger but he also celebrates the community of his friends who were all struggling/fighting the same fight and how they came together to offer comfort.

There are moments in this book that feel like you are taking repeated punches to the gut, mostly when Frost drops into the chapter the next person who died, then the next, then the next. It felt relentless to read so I cannot image what it felt like to live through.

It sounds so obvious to say but the more I read about this time period the more I am confronted with individual stories. It is hard to imagine everyone’s individual lives when so, so many were killed by this horrific illness. More exposure to the stories of those who died is needed.

Living and Loving in the Age of AIDS – A Memoir by Derek Frost is available now.

For more information regarding Watkins Publishing (@watkinsbooks) please visit www.watkinsbooks.com.

Title: Two Like Me and You

Author: Chad Alan Gibbs

Pages: 300 Pages

Publisher: Borne Back Books

The Blurb

Edwin Green’s ex-girlfriend is famous. We’re talking cover-of-every-tabloid-in-the-grocery-store-line famous. She dumped Edwin one year ago on what he refers to as Black Saturday, and in hopes of winning her back, he’s spent the last twelve months trying to become famous himself. It hasn’t gone well.

But when a history class assignment pairs Edwin with Parker Haddaway, the mysterious new girl at school, she introduces him to Garland Lenox, a nursing-home-bound World War II veteran who will change Edwin’s life forever. 

The three escape to France, in search of the old man’s long-lost love, and as word of their adventure spreads, they become media darlings. But when things fall apart, they also become the focus of French authorities. In a race against time, who will find love, and who will only find more heartache?

The Review

Life has done the dirty on Two Like Me and You. Why, you ask. Well because this is a damn good YA fiction and I don’t think enough people know about it. And they should. Because it is damn good.

The story follows Edwin Green as he tries to win his famous ex-girlfriend back. In this brilliant coming of age story Edwin learns about the past, travels the world and maybe breaks a few laws along the way.

I really wish this book was more well known. Chad Alan Gibbs is a brilliant writer and I cannot wait to read more of his work.

Two Like Me and You by Chad Alan Gibbs is available now.

For more information regarding Born Back Books (@BorneBackBooks) please visit www.bornback.com.