Title: Conversations on Love

Author: Natasha Lunn

Pages: 297 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

After years of feeling that love was always out of reach, journalist Natasha Lunn set out to understand how relationships work and evolve over a lifetime. She turned to authors and experts to learn about their experiences, as well as drawing on her own, asking: How do we find love? How do we sustain it? And how do we survive when we lose it? 

In Conversations on Love she began to find the answers:

Philippa Perry on falling in love slowly 

Dolly Alderton on vulnerability

Stephen Grosz on accepting change

Candice Carty-Williams on friendship

Lisa Taddeo on the loneliness of loss

Diana Evans on parenthood

Emily Nagoski on the science of sex

Alain de Botton on the psychology of being alone

Esther Perel on unrealistic expectations

Roxane Gay on redefining romance 

and many more… 

The Review

Besides the obvious, I didn’t know what to expect when I read Natasha Lunn’s Conversations on Love. I hadn’t read her columns before and I think I was expecting a love story of sorts. In a way I got that. Natasha Lunn hasn’t tried to trick you. This book really is a book about love with conversations with many people from other writers, to artists, to therapists. It is how love – such a universal feeling – feels different for everybody and that there is no one true way to define it.

What you do get is a broad understanding of how people feel on a daily basis, whether it be the love to a partner, parent or child, Lunn has explored it. Parallel to her conversations is the story of Lunn and the miscarriage that she and her partner suffered. In this aspect, kudos has to be given to Lunn as she has bled her feelings on the page with such purity that her pain feels visceral.

If you are looking for a book that will make you be introspective on the feelings and practicalities of love then Conversations on Love is the book for you.

Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn is available now.

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

Title: Another Life

Author: Jodie Chapman

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

She could be the girl dancing on tables one night, and the next she’d be hiding in the shadows.

Just when I thought I understood her, she would melt away and become a completely new person, and I’d have to start all over again.

That’s how it was with Anna.

_______

Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick.

She’s grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits.

So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation – hints of the people they hope to become.

But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she’s ever believed in, and everyone she’s ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn’t stop her.

Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick’s life.

But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice between a love that’s endured decades, and the promises they’ve made to others along the way.

The Review

I’m always worried when a book is described as “the new” whatever. The links to previously loved stories inevitably leave a person disappointed. In this sense I feel sorry for Jodie Chapman because her book was described as “the new One Day” which kind of give it unfair expectations to live up to. One day was such a well loved and well known book that it is an impossible standard to reach.

So for that reason I am going to try my hardest to judge Another Life without past book interference. Another Life is pretty good. It follows the relationship between Anna and Nick who’s on-again-off-again romance seems to transcend the years and through external interference and equally their own flaws they can never seem to get it together to make it work. You bounce from side to side thinking that these two need to be together to why they heck are these two trying to be together. You can see that they are good and bad for each other in equal measure.

Whilst Another Life focuses on the relationship between the two characters, it really is Nick’s story. We watch as he grows from boy to man and tries his hardest to be what society expects of him even if it comes at a cost to his personal happiness. Chapman looks at his relationship with women, with his parents – in particular his father, fraternal relationships and many others. This was in interesting choice by Chapman who could have easily written from a female perspective and Another Life would have been a completely different story. It was a bold choice that paid off.

Another Life by Jodie Chapman is available now.

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

Title: Because of You

Author: Dawn French

Pages: 382 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock . . . midnight.

The old millennium turns into the new.

In the same hospital, two very different women give birth to two very similar daughters.

Hope leaves with a beautiful baby girl.

Anna leaves with empty arms.

Seventeen years later, the gods who keep watch over broken-hearted mothers wreak mighty revenge, and the truth starts rolling, terrible and deep, toward them all.

The power of mother-love will be tested to its limits.

Perhaps beyond . . .

Because of You is the remarkably poignant story perfect for every Dawn French fan, told with her signature humour, warmth and so much love.

The Review

Hope and her baby girl Minnie live a contented life. It is jus the two of them, mum and daughter and life has been brilliant. However, when Minnie becomes pregnant at 17 her whole world begins to unravel and the only person who can answer her questions is Hope.

Because of You is the 6th book by Dawn French and I have to say her writing just keeps getting better and better. Because of You hooked me in from the first page. The premise blew me away and the choices that she had her characters make opened a can of worms in my head. It makes you question your own decisions. What would you do in the same situation? Would you do the same? Dawn French has been so very clever in making us empathise with a character that has essentially done something wrong and you accept the decisions that she has made.

Her characters are well thought out and develop well over the chapters. In particular, Anna grows so much and as she comes into her own you cannot help but admire her.

Because of You is a really enjoyable read that deals with some hard issues. It is a must read and it is not surprising that it has recognised by different book clubs and awarding bodies.

Because of You by Dawn French is available now.

For more information regarding Dawn French (@Dawn_French) please visit her Twitter page.

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

Title: How to Be a Husband

Author: Tim Dowling

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

A riotously funny book about how to be a good husband (not like he would know) by Tim Dowling, star columnist for The Guardian. Think Nick Hornby meets Dave Barry—with a hint of Modern Family.

This is not a self-help book. Tim Dowling doesn’t have any solid advice for you on how to be a man—he tried hard to become one for a while, but in the end he just got older. This is simply the story of how, in the course of ten bewilderingly short years, Dowling went from a bachelor’s life in New York City to becoming an ex-pat in London, solidly married and the father of three young boys. It’s also an examination of what it means to be a husband in the twenty-first century—and what is and isn’t required to hold that office these days.

Tim Dowling has been exploiting his family in his writing for years, ever since it became clear that readers of his weekly column at The Guardian couldn’t get enough stories about his acerbically witty spouse and their rambunctious offspring. Dowling writes brilliantly about his wife and marriage, from the first days of their whirlwind courtship to the matter-of-fact way in which they decided to tie the knot, and keeping the “magic” alive after ten years together. Being a husband and father in the era of “The End of Men” isn’t easy, and Dowling continues to struggle to find ways to remain relevant to his family (hint: proficiency at DIY never hurts).

How to Be a Husband is a joyous and poignant read—a personal memoir about falling in love, moving to another country, having children, and staying together through money troubles and times of grief—that also just so happens to be devastatingly funny.

The Review

How to Be a Husband was a real eye opener to the way some men think. I don’t know how to be a wife yet as I am unmarried but what I got from this collection is that marriage and love span a lifetime if you are lucky and the travails that go with it will shape and mould the relationship. Who you are as people, as a couple, will be very different to who you started out as being and more than anything it will be an interesting journey.

How to Be a Husband by Tim Dowling is available now.

For more information regarding Tim Dowling (@IAmTimDowling) please visit his Twitter page.

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

Genre: YA Fiction

The Gist: The sequel to the novel Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman.

Small Review: Knife Edge focuses on Jude’s story directly after Noughts and Crosses and we see how the main characters have developed and changed. Jude’s aggression and desire for revenge has intensified in this explosive sequel.

Big Review: I really loved Noughts and Crosses. I read it recently as part of the classroom curriculum for year 9 and have shoved it into everybody’s hands since then because it was just brilliant. 

The sequel, Knife Edge, whilst not as impactful as Noughts and Crosses however it was fantastic to be reunited with the beloved characters again and seeing how they had developed since the first book. 

When we are reunited with Jude we see that he hasn’t learned from the consequences of his involvement with the LM (Liberation Militia) and is currently in hiding and away from his fellow resistance fighters. He is out for revenge and is determined to make everyone pay.

Meanwhile, Sephy has had to grow up and do it fast. She needs to start looking after herself and her family and she is doing that without the life of privilege that she is used to. She is still reeling from her experiences and she is suffering mentally. 

Where Noughts and Crosses had the shock value, Knife Edge is a lot more grown up. More real life dramas are being dealt with and we see new dimensions to the characters.

It is honestly such a good series and I think this book was needed to set up the rest of the series. I cannot wait to read the rest.

Knife Edge by Malorie Blackman is available now.

For more information regarding Malorie Blackman (@malorieblackman) please visit www.malorieblackman.co.uk. 

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