Monday, 27 March 2017

Book Review: This is How it Always is

This Is How It Always Is
By Laurie Frankel
Published by Headline
Published in hardback and ebook
Paperback is forthcoming

This is How it Always Is is a book you need to read. Laurie Frankel's latest novel is a complex and powerful novel about gender, families and the way secrets turn to lies.

Rosie and Penn have always wanted a daughter especially after having four sons. They try one last time, and Claude is born. Five sons all full of beans, charging through the house.

Life is busy, full of noise, happiness and chaos for this big family. Claude announces one day, he wants to be a girl when he grows up. Rosie and Penn let Claude wear dresses, grow long hair, wear bikinis in the summer, and dream of becoming a princess. Claude's parents are happy for Claude to be whoever he or she wants. Claude's brothers and grandma are accepting, and do not question Claude's transformation.

Yet, the problems begin at school with the teachers wanting to follow protocol, demanding Claude make a definitive answer on gender. The shock spreads across their neighbours and friends. Everyone has an opinion and they are willing to express their views. Frankel takes the reader on a bold journey as the family as they battle for acceptance, becoming wrapped in secrets, lies and insecurities. The families frustrations and triumphs are so detailed and amazing. This is a family who deserves to find their place within this world.

Rosie and Penn face an impossible dilemma - should Claude change or should they try to change the world. Frankel will have you thinking about the way we define ourselves in a world with ingrained expectations on how we should live and behaviour.

This is a touching, thought-provoking novel full of warmness and joy as a family struggle to find a place in their community. This is How it Always is can be purchased from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy to review by the publisher.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Goodbye February...

Erm, so I’ve only read three books in February. It felt like more… but I’m guessing the stats are right. Don’t worry, I have excuses!

It was my birthday so I dragged that out for as long as possible, seeing family, friends, eating cake.

Plus, I spent most of the month writing a brand-new chapter for my novel. I wasn’t expecting that… I know it sounds cheesy but I woke up with the idea and now it’s fully formed.  I’m only four chapters away from finishing this draft and I’m hoping this is the year I can finally be happy with the novel.

The Eleventh Letter – Tom Tomaszewski
This haunting tale of a psychotherapist as delves back into a case from twenty years ago where a mysterious woman is accused of murdering her friend and her friend’s husband. Part ghost story, part love story. Lies, murder and intrigue. The truth and reality bends inside out, leaving the reader wondering what is the truth to this story.

Young Hearts Crying – Richard Yates
I love Richard Yates novels. He explores the way people set out to find the ‘American Dream’ but end up realising that the reality isn’t like a dream. Everyone around Michael and Lucy seem happier and connected to their ‘art’. This novel explores Post-war America, relationships with each other, with art, mental health issues during the 1960s and 1970s as well as looking at the push and pull of creativity while trying to maintain a family and job. This is a fantastic novel.

Hold Back The Stars – Katie Kahn
Adrift in space, clinging to each other, Carys and Max look back at their relationship on how they found each and were pulled apart by the utopia they live in. Katie Kahn’s debut novel is a crossed between Gravity, One Day along with hints of Logan’s Run. This gripping novel is full of questions about the society we live in now and how it could evolve into a supposed utopia, a unique love story full of hope and fighting for what you believe in.

Don't forget Orlando Ortega-Medina stopped by to take part in the Imaginary Bookshop series. You can read the interview here.

Right, lets continue with March which is going to be a barrel of laughs as I’ve decided to give up chocolate for lent (I’m not religious but I love a challenge). Don’t ask me why… it felt like a good idea at the time.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Book Review: Books For Living

Books For Living: A Reader's Guide To Life
Will Schwalbe
Published by Two Roads
Available in Hardback
Forthcoming in paperback

The world can be a lonely place even though we live in a connected world when you can't see someone on your timeline or in real life who has the same interests. You’re left with that feeling of being the last one left – the last reader. But Books for Living answers that question - no, you’re not the last reader left.

Will Schwalbe’s latest book, Books for Living, is a passionate, intimate, love letter to reading and books. He explores the power of books to shape our lives in times of crisis, contemplation and joy. Books have been a pillar in his life, and Schwalbe is opening the door and letting the reader find out his reading habits.

Asking a reader about their favourite book brings on sweating, mumbling and a mind going completely blank BUT the best question to ask is ‘what are you reading?’. This is the most joyous question to ask a reader. This is Schwalbe's response to this question, and it makes you feel like you're exploring someone else’s bookshelves – without realising it you’re putting your heart and soul on display and this is what Schwalbe is doing with this book. The reader gets a glimpse into the books which have influenced Schwalbe and shaped his outlook in life. He talks about the books which were there for him when his mother was dying, books to help him through school, books to say when it’s okay to be different.

Schwalbe points the reader in the direction of books to remind us that it’s okay to demand space and solitude, books to remind us to enjoy life and its small joys. Books to remind us to carry on living, be open to possibilities. This book contemplates if books can save lives. I think they can – either offering advice or escape in times of heartache, crisis or when there are turning points in our lives. Books can also guide us towards the life we want.

Books For Living contains a full range of book recommendations from the classics to Man Booker winners. My wish list is already bulging from the books Schwalbe talks about. At the moment, my list contains The Power of Habit (which I own but haven’t read), Azar Nafisi’s Reading in Tehran, and read more Daphne du Maurier.

This book is full of personal stories and recommendations and would be an ideal gift for any reader. Books For Living is available from your favourite bookshop.

This book was sent to me via Bookbridgr.