Title: My Absolute Darling

Author: Gabriel Tallent

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

‘You think you’re invincible. You think you won’t ever miss. We need to put the fear on you. You need to surrender yourself to death before you ever begin, and accept your life as a state of grace, and then and only then will you be good enough.’

At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall;
That chaos is coming and only the strong will survive it;
That her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world.
And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her with him.

She doesn’t know why she feels so different from the other girls at school;
Why the line between love and pain can be so hard to see;
Why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done
And what her daddy will do when he finds out …

Sometimes strength is not the same as courage.
Sometimes leaving is not the only way to escape.
Sometimes surviving isn’t enough.

The Review

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is an intoxicating, overwhelming, and intense novel about a young girl on the cusp of young womanhood and the claustrophobic life she leads under the firm hand of her father.

Turtle Alveston has lived alone with her father since her mother’s death. She has been sheltered from the everyday ordinary by her father and instead taught survival skills such as shooting. She is isolated and her world revolves around her insidious relationship with her dad.

My Absolute Darling is a coming of age novel in the most twisted and uncomfortable of ways. For me, the novel had an issue with pacing. For the first half I felt like it was very slow going but that did reflect the smallness and slowness of Turtle’s world. Then the story snowballed and it was the end. For a reader, it can be quite off-putting.

My Absolute Darling is a very disturbing novel. If you are planning on reading it then please be aware that there are a few triggering elements to the story.

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is available now.

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

Title: The Seventh Train

Author: Jackie Carreira

Pages: 153 Pages

Publisher: Troubador Publishing Limited

The Blurb

What if you can’t stand where you are because there’s nothing there? What if you don’t want to end up anywhere else in case that’s empty too? When life has lost its road map, sometimes the only way to get back on track is to get back on the rails.

The Seventh Train is a ride – a ‘road movie’ on the railways. It’s a journey that Elizabeth invented; the only original thought she has ever had in her previously uneventful life. Unbeknown to her, she is not travelling alone. If only she’d pretended that the spare seat was taken.

With a wonderfully eclectic cast of characters, The Seventh Train takes its passengers on a journey from the tragic to the strange, arriving finally at hope. By turns heart-breaking, thought-provoking and hilarious, this tale is a life-affirming exploration of the human spirit via the British railway timetable!

The Review

The Seventh Train is a clever circular book that mixes a colourful cast of characters with weird and wonderful stories. They all take place on trains or in train stations which, personally, I find fascinating and oddly romantic.

Our protagonist, Elizabeth, is a little bit closed off but she finds her wall of safety penetrated by others who without even knowing it have saved her from herself.

I really enjoyed The Seventh Train. It is a perfect one sitting read.

The Seventh Train by Jackie Carreira is available now.

For more information regarding Jackie Carreira (@JCarreiraWriter) please visit www.jackiecarreira.co.uk.

Title: The Dollmaker

Author: Nina Allan

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Quercus Books/Riverrun Books

The Blurb

INFORMATION WANTED ON THE LIFE AND WORK OF DOLLMAKER EWA CHAPLIN AND/OR FRIENDSHIP, CORRESPONDENCE. PLEASE REPLY TO: BRAMBER WINTERS.

Stitch by perfect stitch, Andrew Garvie makes exquisite dolls in the finest antique style. Like him, they are diminutive, but graceful, unique and with surprising depths. Perhaps that’s why he answers the enigmatic personal ad in his collector’s magazine.

Letter by letter, Bramber Winters reveals more of her strange, sheltered life in an institution on Bodmin Moor, and the terrible events that put her there as a child. Andrew knows what it is to be trapped; and as they knit closer together, he weaves a curious plan to rescue her.

On his journey through the old towns of England he reads the fairytales of Ewa Chaplin – potent, eldritch stories which, like her lifelike dolls, pluck at the edges of reality and thread their way into his mind. When Andrew and Bramber meet at last, they will have a choice – to remain alone with their painful pasts or break free and, unlike their dolls, come to life.

A love story of two very real, unusual people, The Dollmaker is also a novel rich with wonders: Andrew’s quest and Bramber’s letters unspool around the dark fables that give our familiar world an uncanny edge. It is this touch of magic that, like the blink of a doll’s eyes, tricks our own . . .

The Review

The rave reviews surrounding The Dollmaker by Nina Allan had totally whetted my appetite. I was eager to read it. I really thought I would enjoy the story – modern day life mixed with fairy tales.

Sadly, I didn’t like it.

I just didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why the fairy tales mirrored reality so precisely that I felt that I was reading the same story over and over again. Then when the two morphed into one I was thrown even more.

I think to read The Dollmaker you really need to be able to suspend your disbelief because if you start questioning things too much, then you, like me, will probably find the whole thing a bit boring and confusing.

The Dollmaker by Nina Allan is available now.

For more information regarding Riverrun Books (@riverrunbooks) please visit www.riverrunbooks.co.uk.

For more information regarding Quercus Books (QuercusBooks@) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: All of This is True

Author: Lygia Day Penaflor

Pages: 432 Pages

Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Blurb

When four Long Island teens plot to meet Fatima Ro, the elusive author of their favourite novel, they’re stunned when she befriends them and invites them into her eccentric life. Suddenly their lives seem charmed, and as they grow closer to their idol, they find themselves revealing their darkest secrets to her.

But a year later, Miri, Soleil, Jonah and Penny are shocked to discover that Fatima’s newly released YA novel is based on those same secrets. The revelations are devastating, and they can’t escape the spotlight. The friends’ interview transcripts, emails and journal entries reveal how willing they were to sacrifice everything to win Fatima’s approval – and how those sacrifices led to a tragedy from which one of them will never recover.

The Review

One thing I really like in books is when I have a handful of narrators that all see the story a specific way. They are all unreliable because their truth is not the same as someone else’s. This is why I really enjoyed All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor.

It is a story set in high school so there is already a he-said-she-said element to the narrative. Add in a mystery, an author, and a character in hospital with life threatening injuries then you really do have the making of a good thriller.

What the author really manages to highlight is the fundamental need to be seen and acknowledged. She shows how this is a spectrum depending on the need of the character and how that can be manifested in both good and negative ways.

I really liked All of This is True. I loved the mixed media element of storytelling and how distinct the different character voices where. As far as YA Thrillers go then All of This is True is a brilliant poster book for the genre.

All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor is available now.

For more information regarding Lygia Day Penaflor (@lygiaday) please visit www.lygiadaypenflor.com.

For more information regarding Bloomsbury (@BloomsburyBooks) please visit www.bloomsbury.com.

Title: Black Music Greats

Author: Olivier Cachin

Pages: 96 Pages

Publisher: Quarto Publishing Groups

The Blurb

The biggest names … the coolest sounds … the 40 most inspirational movers, shakers, and innovators in black music are here! In this fun, fact-packed book from the 40 Inspiring Icons series, learn how these black musicians changed music, from the creation of blues to the invention of rap.

Meet the Godfather of Funk, the High Priestess of Soul, and the King of Reggae. Learn how Marvin Gaye shaped the sound of Motown, how N.W.A. redefined rap, and what made the Supremes, supreme. From Robert Johnson, who recorded one of the first examples of the blues in 1936, to rap superstar Drake, whose 2012 album Views spent 13 weeks at number one on the US Billboard 200, these are the 40 black artists to be listened to and learned about by all:

Robert Johnson; Nina Simone; James Brown; Sly & the Family Stone; Miles Davis; Diana Ross & the Supremes; The Jackson 5; Marvin Gaye; Stevie Wonder; Aretha Franklin; Earth, Wind & Fire; Isaac Hayes; Tina Turner; Donna Summer; Bob Marley & the Wailers; Prince; Fela Kuti; The Last Poets; Chic; The Sugarhill Gang; Run-DMC; Eric B. & Rakim; Public Enemy; N.W.A.; Whitney Houston; 2Pac; The Fugees; Snoop Dogg; The Notorious B.I.G.; Erykah Badu; Jay-Z; Missy Elliott; Kanye West; Beyoncé; Pharrell Williams; Rihanna; Lil Wayne; Drake; Nicki Minaj; The Weeknd;

Each spread presents a single musician or band, highlighting key facts about their background, most popular songs, most iconic shows, genre-defining techniques, friends, rivals, and nicknames, along with a fun, illustrated depiction of them that calls out elements of their signature style.

With so many icons to choose from, which will you add to your playlist?

The Review

Black Music Greats is a book that looks over the history of music and focuses on black artists who have made a cultural impact. It looks at motown, rap, jazz, soul and many other subgenres. There are so many artists who are mentioned that you know and love that it makes you want to go and listen to their albums

My problem with the book Black Music Greats is that there is very little information given. There just doesn’t seem like enough about each artist. I felt that the above blurb has more narrative than the individual artists.

If I am honest, I was very disappointed.

Black Music Greats by Olivier Cachin is available now.