Title: Lessons in Chemistry

Author: Bonnie Garmus

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.

Like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

The Review

Well that was deeply satisfying.

Bonnie Garmus’s novel Lessons in Chemistry is the story of Elizabeth Zott. Friend. Mother. But most importantly she is a scientist. Time hasn’t been kind to Elizabeth Zott. She was born in the wrong era when women were meant to be subservient and they certainly weren’t meant to practise the sciences. But Elizabeth Zott breaks the mould. When she gets the opportunity to present her own cookery show she takes on the challenge in the only way she knows how…by making it an experiment.

Lessons in Chemistry is up there as one of my favourite books of the year. I took my time with this novel, I didn’t want to hoover it because I had heard so many amazing things and I am so glad that I did because it was a phenomenal look at the expectations of society and how if you give people a chance they can surprise you.

Lessons in Chemistry is an absolutely corker of a novel and one I know will be in my top ten of the year.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is available now.

For more information regarding Bonnie Garmus (@BonnieGarmus) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House (@ramdomhouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.

Title: Wahala

Author: Nikki May

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK

The Blurb

Sex and the City‘ with a killer edge for fans of QUEENIE, EXPECTATION and MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER

See me, see trouble

Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London. They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English, though they don’t all choose to see it that way.

Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her ‘urban vibe’ yet again.

When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them.

Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself.

A darkly comic and bitingly subversive take on love, race and family, Wahala will have you laughing, crying and gasping in horror. Boldly political about class, colorism and cooking, here is a truly inclusive tale that will speak to anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.

The Review

Okay. Wahala is a hard one for me to review because I liked it but there were some things that I didn’t like about it. Yeah.

I really liked the premise of the story: a new girl infiltrates a group of friends and chaos ensues. I am all for stories like this. The character development was great. Each character had clearly defined roles – you knew the voices of the three protagonists. Again another plus.

The thread of the protagonists wanted what the others had – really clever and relatable. Again another positive.

For me though the problem lay with the pacing. There was too much exposition and character development to the detriment of the plot. The action took place in the last 100 pages. Before I knew it the story was over and I kind of felt cheated.

What is good that you can the kind of writer that Nikki May is going to be and that is quite exciting. I am really intrigued to see what more Nikki May has to offer.

Wahala by Nikki May is available now.

For more information regarding Nikki May (@NikkiOMay) please visit www.nikki-may.com.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.

Title: We Can Do Better than This – 35 Voices on the Future of LGBTQ+ Rights

Author: Amelia Abraham

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Random House UK

The Blurb

How can we create a better world for LGBTQ+ people? 35 extraordinary voices share their stories and visions for the future.

We talk about achieving ‘LGBTQ+ equality’, but around the world, LGBTQ+ people are still suffering discrimination and extreme violence. How do we solve this urgent problem, allowing queer people everywhere the opportunity to thrive?

In We Can Do Better Than This, 35 voices explore this question. Through deeply moving stories and provocative new arguments on safety and visibility, dating and gender, care and community, they map new global frontiers in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

Pabllo Vittar pleads for the end of hate murders, Olly Alexander champions inclusive sex education in schools, and Beth Ditto calls for a revolution in representation. Elsewhere, Mykki Blanco sets out a vision to end HIV stigma, Owen Jones demands improved LGBTQ+ mental health services, and Travis Alabanza imagines a world without gender policing.

Moving from the UK and USA to Russia, Bangladesh and beyond, this is a guide to understanding the crucial issues facing LGBTQ+ people today. But it’s also a passionate call to action and an important manifesto for how – together – we can start to create a better future.

Edited by journalist and author Amelia Abraham, with writing from:

Peppermint – Wolfgang Tillmans – Olly Alexander – Jonathan Anderson – Pabllo Vittar – Naoise Dolan – Amrou Al-Kadhi – Shura – Beth Ditto – Owen Jones – Riyadh Khalaf – Tom Rasmussen – Mykki Blanco – Phyll Opoku-Gyimah – Travis Alabanza – Yasmin Benoit – Mazharul Islam – Kate Bornstein – Adam Eli – Shon Faye – Fox Fisher – Hanne Gaby Odiele – Sasha Kazantseva – Andrew Gurza – Holland – Levi Hord – Juliet Jacques – Leticia Opio – madison moore – Matthew Riemer (@LGBT_History) – Vincent Desmond – Juno Roche – Bobbi Salvör Menuez – Carl Siciliano

The Review

During PRIDE month I read a fair bit of LGBTQIA+ writing. Come to think of it a large portion of my reading does link to the LGBTQIA+ community regardless of month. And much like the other texts that I have read We Can Do Better than This really hot home to me how far things have come but equally how far they still have to go.

With impassioned voices fighting the cause, We Can Do Better than This highlights the issues that are still so relevant and that I, as a cis white female, sometimes take for granted. It isn’t my lived experience. What I can do is be an ally.

We Can Do Better than This is a call to arms to get people to join in this fight for equality. It is essential reading and you should read it now.

We Can Do Better than This by Amelia Abraham is available now.

For more information regarding Amelia Abraham (@MillyAbraham) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhouse.com.

Title: Tall Bones

Author: Anna Bailey

Pages: 344 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.  

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him. 

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….

The Review

I really struggled to write the review to Tall Bones. Anna Bailey has created a truly chilling story about small town mentality and how bible-belt principles are still present and toxic in society.

In this chilling tale we follow a small town in the wake of the disappearance of a young girl called Abi. No one seems to know where she is. Her disappearance is shocking and drives her community to come together to rid themselves of outsiders who they blame for the young girls disappearance.

Tall Bones is a shocking look at prejudice and how religion – when enforced in certain ways – can have an extreme and detrimental effect on community.

Tall Bones is a fantastic read. It is disturbing and highlights how human nature is often more terrifying than supernatural characters in horror fiction.

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey is available now.

For more information regarding Anna Bailey (@annafbailey) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.

Title: To Be A Gay Man

Author: Will Young

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

In To Be a Gay Man, Will Young speaks out about gay shame, revealing the impact it had on his own life, how he learned to deal with it, and how he can now truthfully say he is gay and happy.

We know Will as a multi-platinum recording artist, Olivier-nominee, and the first winner of the Idol franchise. But his story began long before his first audition. Looking back on a world where growing up being called gay was the ultimate insult and coming out after a lifetime of hiding his sexuality, Will explores the long-lasting impact repressing his true self has had.

As Will’s own story demonstrates, internalised shame in childhood increases the risk of developing low self-worth, and even self-disgust, leading to destructive behaviours in adult life. 

Will revisits the darkest extremes he has been to, sharing his vulnerabilities, his regrets, tracing his own navigation through it all and showing the way for others who might have felt alone in the same experience.

Here you will find a friend, champion and mentor, breaking taboos with frank honesty, and offering invaluable practical advice on overcoming the difficult issues too often faced within the LGBTQ+ community.

The Review

I always wonder with celebrities who write books how much of what they say is the truth and what is made up and – more importantly – what it kept back. For the first time they are in control of the narrative of their own story rather than being at the hands of headline grabbing journalists with questionable morals. With Will Young’s To Be A Gay Man I really feel that he has bled his life on to the pages of his book.

To Be A Gay Man shows Will Young at his most vulnerable. He talks about his sexuality, how the shame of this affected his mental health and his descent into needing to seek medical care because he lost control. The terrible thing about all of this is that they things that caused his distress are not things to be ashamed of and speaks volumes about how the society we live in still treats ‘the other’ with disdain that when you identify with this mythical ‘other’ you develop internal hatred. It really is heartbreaking.

Will Young should be congratulated on his candour in To Be A Gay Man. This is the kind of book that will help others.

To Be A Gay Man by Will Young is available now.

For more information regarding Will Young (@willyoung) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit www.randomhousebooks.com.