More lockdown reads.

Remember when I wrote some quick fire reviews of books I read during my shielding days? Well, here are some I read after I was told by my GP that I could ‘be normal’ (ha, as if)…

The Black Flamingo, by Dean Atta.

I read this before the end of May, so when the BLM movement was dominating social media* and folks were asking for recommendations of books by Black authors, I was delighted to see this one was being shouted about. It’s a beautiful story written in verse, about a boy coming to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen, and then getting into drag at university.

Thank you to the friend who sent me this via my Amazon wishlist!

*BLM is still very much on my social media radar, because I follow people who rightfully won’t let it be buried again until the next unjust killing goes viral. Read my Black Lives Matter blog post here.

Oh No, Bobo! By Donna David.

This picture book was sent to me by the very kind author. That doesn’t affect my opinion that it was a lovely story, and while I wasn’t 100% on the wording of it at times, I appreciated that it was a cleverly told tale about the importance of asking permission.

The Strangeworlds Travel Agency, by L.D. Lapinski.

A truly brilliant fantastical story about a young girl who finds escape and friendship in a bizarre little shop full of suitcases through which you can jump in and out of other worlds! L.D is a wonderful writer, and I can’t wait for the next installment in this series.

*This novel may be meant for younger readers, but I found it such a joy to read and have recommended it to folks of all ages.

The Flatshare, by Beth O’Leary.

Believe the hype. I could just leave it at that to be honest, but let me get a little deeper – this is a pretty high concept contemporary about a man and a woman who share a flat and a bed, due to their respective money issues, and while they don’t meet in person, they develop a relationship through sticky notes left on cupboards and pillows. I was also pleasantly surprised by the other story lines, including a manipulative ex-boyfriend, career wobbles and another (very old) love story.

Thank you to Quercus Books for sending me this hardback many moons ago, and apologies it took me so long to read it.

Under a Dancing Star, by Laura Wood.

Yep, I read her YA novel ‘A Sky Painted Gold’ at the beginning of lockdown, and after so many people telling me to read this one too – and a very kind soul sending it to me via my Amazon wishlist! – I finally did. So, Bea and Ben meet in Italy, where Bea has been sent by her parents to stay with her uncle in the hopes that she’ll learn something and mature somewhat, and conduct an experiment – a summer romance. It’s essentially a prequel to Much Ado About Nothing, aka my favourite Shakespeare play. How could I NOT love it?

Laura’s next book, ‘A Snowfall of Silver’ comes out this October, and I will obviously be front of the queue to grab a copy.

The Princess Saves Herself in This One, by Amanda Lovelace.

So this is actually a reread; I do love a good literary tradition, and obviously when silly Timehop reminded me that late June is when, for the past two years, I have read this book and marked the poems that resonate with me the most, obviously I had to do it again. What did I find out about myself, this time round? Well, this year I seem to be a little less bitter.

There we have it. That was alright, wasn’t it? I like doing short reviews. I worry way too much when I’m writing longer ones that I haven’t got every little bit in, or done the book justice – but this way, I’m keeping it light and hopefully piquing your interest.

Please consider shopping at indie bookshops in this difficult time; the bigger book boys don’t need your money as much, trust me. My friend Leena recently highlighted a whole bunch of indies on her InstagramBooks Are My Bag are always shouting out smaller shops, and as always I want to recommend The Big Green Bookshop and A Great Read UK, both of whom are online and don’t just have the best offers, but also the friendliest service. And my local pals (Hastings area), check out Rother Books in Battle, and Hare & Hawthorn in Hastings old town. Have I missed any? Comment below, or tweet me!


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