Title: The Two Lives of Lydia Bird

Author: Josie Silver

Pages: 369 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Two love stories. One Impossible Choice. 

Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’ve been together for almost a decade, and Lydia thinks their love is indestructible. 

But she’s wrong. Because on her 27th birthday, Freddie dies in a tragic accident.

So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob til her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to live her life well. So, enlisting the help of his best friend and her sister Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world and starts to live – perhaps even to love – again.

But then something unbelievable happens, and Lydia gets another chance at her old life with Freddie. But what if there’s someone in her new life who wants her to stay?

A heart-breaking, uplifting story for fans of PS I Love You and Me Before You, this gorgeously romantic novel will make you laugh, cry and remind you of what a wonderful gift it is to love and to be loved.

The Review

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird asks the question if you could change the past, would you?

Meet Lydia, she has just lost the love of her life, Freddie, in a cruel accident. When dealing with her grief she finds that she can still see, speak to, live with Freddie but it may come at a cost.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird made me smile so much. It was such a sad story but one that really made me think about what I would do in that situation. It reminded me of the Alan Rickman movie Truly Madly Deeply. It hold a bright light up to just how wonderful and indeed excruciating love can be.

Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a must read.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver is available now.

For more information regarding Josie Silver (@JosieSilver_) please visit www.josiesilver.com.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: When You Call My Name

Author: Tucker Shaw

Pages: 368 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House Children’s UK

The Blurb

A heartrending novel about two gay teens coming of age in New York – perfect for fans of It’s a Sin and Adam Silvera.

It’s 1990 in New York City.

Adam is falling in love for the first time. Ben is leaving home for the last.

Drawn by the city’s irresistible energy, the boys are swept up into the queer scene, where the potential for life and love seems limitless.

But as the shadows of prejudice gather, Ben and Adam discover how their newfound community is facing the looming threat of AIDS, which will touch their lives more closely than they ever could have imagined. 

Heartbreaking yet hopeful, When You Call My Name tells the story of the moments that break our hearts and the people who make us whole – and shows how together we burn brightest in times of darkness.

The Review

Oh my wow. I loved When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw.

Tucker Shaw’s novel tells the story of two young men living during the turn of the decade from the 80s into the 90s in New York. The AIDS pandemic was on the rise and emotions were running high within the LGBT+ community and outside of it. Ben and Adam met through a chance encounter and form an unusual friendship that is tested by the world around them. Can Adam and Ben maintain their friendship in a world that is constantly changing?

I read a lot of LGBT+ fiction. It is something that I am passionate about. As an ally, I feel the best way that I can educate myself of the LGBT+ community is by learning the stories – whether they be fiction or non-fiction – and opening myself up to knowing the history. When You Call My Name is a fictional story but it is not too far from the truth. There will have been Bens and Adams all over the world going through what they went through which is why stories like When You Call My Name are vital.

For me, the absolute power in this book comes from very certain moments. It is not what Tucker Shaw has had his characters say. The power comes in what was not said – the Pinter pauses that say so much whilst saying absolutely nothing at all. That was writing at its most perfect.

When You Call My Name had me in absolute bits. It has shot to the top spot in my books of 2022.

When You Call My Name by Tucker Shaw is available now.

For more information regarding Tucker Shaw (@tucker_shaw) please visit www.tuckershawwrites.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House Children’s UK (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

The Course of LoveTitle: The Course of Love

Author: Alain de Botton

Pages: 240 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Modern love is never easy. Society is obsessed with stories of romance, but what comes after happily ever after?

This is a love story with a difference. From dating to marriage, from having kids to having affairs, it follows the progress of a single ordinary relationship: tender, messy, hilarious, painful, and entirely un-Romantic. It is a love story for the modern world, chronicling the daily intimacies, the blazing rows, the endless tiny gestures that make up a life shared between two people.

Moving and deeply insightful, The Course of Love offers us a window into essential truths about the nature of love.

The Review

Ok, so I don’t really know what I feel about The Course of Love by Alain de Botton. It is definitely one of the following. It is either a) a really genius story about the perils of romantic love and how companionship lasts but the thought of romantic love is a ludicrous notion or b) part novel/part psychoanalysis on modern day relationships.

Either way, The Course of Love was written really well but I just can’t decide if I actually liked it.

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton is available now.

For more information regarding Alain de Botton (@alaindebotton) please visit www.alaindebotton.com.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

2 Stars

 

Letters to my FannyThe Blurb

In this hilarious and candid memoir about twenty-first-century womanhood, Cherry Healey shares outrageous, poignant and eye-wateringly funny confessions.

“This book is a love letter, to my body. In fact it’s several letters – to every part from my brain to my belly. I spent most of my life hating by body. I forced it to survive on a diet of ham; I squeezed it into asphyxiating support pants; I accidentally cut my delicate area whilst trimming my lady garden. But now I’ve realized that it deserves some well overdue TLC.

This book is the story of how I’ve come to understand some vital life lessons, and started to love being a woman. I hope you enjoy it. Except you, Mum and Dad. You should stop reading now. It’s for the best. I promise.”

Warm, honest and heartfelt, Letters to my Fanny will have you gasping in recognition. (Amazon)

The Review

Firstly, I have to get this off my chest. I absolutely detest the word ‘fanny’. Much in the way some people find the words ‘succulent’, ‘moist’ and ‘juicy’ to be repulsive I find fanny much the same way. Unless it is used as a verb. I am strangely ok if someone is ‘fannying’ about but the noun ‘fanny’ turns my stomach and I can’t explain why.

With that in mind, every time the word ‘fanny’ came up in Cherry Healey’s Letters to my Fanny I visibly recoiled but I am nothing if not determined so I persevered; I am awfully glad I did. Letters to my Fanny (shudder) is a really funny, warm and entertaining memoir which exudes the message of positive body image.

There are some graphic descriptions of childbirth that, as someone who is physically terrified of the thought of going through labour, I should probably have veered away from (to be fair Healey did give a warning at the beginning of the chapter).

I did feel that some of the chapters lost its way a little bit. Sections of the book discuss feminism and the inequality of wages between men and women but then slips in to a discussion about diet made me a little sceptical. However, by the end of Letters to my Fanny I realised that the overriding message was just to feel comfortable in your own skin and that, for me, is a very powerful message.

I really enjoyed this memoir and – title aside – it made me feel good.

Letters to my Fanny by Cherry Healey is available now.

Follow Cherry Healey (@cherryhealey) on Twitter.

4 Stars

Hot Little HandsTitle: Hot Little Hands

Author: Abigail Ulman

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Books

The Blurb

Claire finds out she’s pregnant. And decides it’s for a limited time only. Ramona announces her first sexual experience – real or imagined – over a family dinner. Elise and Jenni lost their virginity at twelve and thirteen. Now all they want to do is regain their innocence. Amelia can’t finish her book, so she decides to have a baby. Kira wants to travel to America, but her parents think she’s too young to go alone. Hot Little Hands contains nine pitch-perfect stories about stumbling on the fringes of innocence, and the marks desire can leave. In this wry, exhilarating debut, Abigail Ulman takes us deep into the blurred borders between adolescence and adulthood.

‘A book that every parent will need to keep by their bedside, especially at the weekend, so they can be fully reassured that their young daughters are having a truly good time’ – Colm Tóibín

The Review

I requested Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman from NetGalley because I had read some really good things about the book and the collection of short stories included. If I am honest I wasn’t overly impressed by some of the stories. The art of writing short stories is a skill that is honed and Abigail Ulman has it. No one can argue that. Personally, I didn’t enjoy all the stories. You can’t win them all.

It is not all bad news. Some of the stories in Hot Little Hands were pretty epic and did have me holding my breath. In particular Warmups and Your Charm Won’t Help You Here.

Whilst the short story isn’t my favourite form of writing (I think due to the often ambiguous endings and lack of time to be able to care for the characters) I do respect any writer who can produce them. Although Hot Little Hands didn’t do it or me personally I can see that Ulman is a talented writer and an exciting new voice. I will be intrigued to read more from her in different formats.

Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman is available now.

Follow Abigail Ulman (@abigaileulman) on Twitter.

For more titles from Penguin Books (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

35 Stars