Albert Entwistle is a private man with a quiet, simple life. He lives alone with his cat Gracie. And he’s a postman. At least he was a postman until, three months before his sixty-fifth birthday, he receives a letter from the Royal Mail thanking him for decades of service and stating he is being forced into retirement.
At once, Albert’s sole connection with his world unravels. Every day as a mail carrier, he would make his way through the streets of his small English town, delivering letters and parcels and returning greetings with a quick wave and a “how do?” Without the work that fills his days, what will be the point? He has no friends, family, or hobbies—just a past he never speaks of, and a lost love that fills him with regret.
And so, rather than continue his lonely existence, Albert forms a brave plan to start truly living. It’s finally time to be honest about who he is. To seek the happiness he’s always denied himself. And to find the courage to look for George, the man that, many years ago, he loved and lost—but has never forgotten. As he does, something extraordinary happens. Albert finds unlikely allies, new friends, and proves it’s never too late to live, to hope, and to love.
Oh my, this novel brought up all the emotions! And I absolutely loved it! Wonderful, vibrant characters, a sweet story line, personal growth, and a search for a lost love – what more could I want?
This novel was beautifully plotted, and while it was slow to start but I found it worked for me. In that wonderfully trundling slowness I saw how Alberts life was for him as he trudged through his day to day routine. There was something so beautifully simple about the story that made it even more charming for me. There was a lot of depth to story that shone through in both the plot and the characters. The characters in this story are what really brought the joy for me, and I loved the side characters and how fleshed out they were just as much as Albert which was so nice.
I loved that the story was told from two different points in Alberts life – I found switching between the two helped me to understand Albert more. It was interesting seeing how his early life and his relationship with his parents then affected him so much later in his life. This is so true of so many gay men of that time that it makes the story all the more heartbreaking. Though it was heartbreaking with a hopeful end, which I really loved. The end of this edition of the novel also included some interviews with gay men of Albert’s age with similar stories to Albert’s. I think this was a really lovely addition at the end.
Despite the very painful reality of Albert’s situation and his story, there is some really clever humour amongst the heartfelt or emotional moments of self reflection. These moments really make this novel an absolute joy to read!
Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title was published 31st May 2022.
‘Oh hello darling, and welcome to The Book of Non-Binary Joy! This book is here to help you be yourself – free from judgement and expectation – as you unlock more joy in your life. Take my hand, and let’s start your journey of self-love today.’
Whether you are at the start of your journey or have been on the wild ride of gender introspection for a long time, this guide is here to help you thrive as your authentic – and most fabulous – non-binary self. With personal stories, valuable insights and interactive sections, this inspiring book covers a wide range of topics, including mental health, pleasure, fashion, understanding your past, allyship privilege and self-expression.
Written with warmth and unapologetic humour, and with bold illustrations throughout, Ben Pechey has created the ultimate safe space for you to embrace your non-binary life and start living.
Strangely it took me a while to finish this one. When I first started I thought it would be a quick, easy read, but somehow it was quite the opposite. I think it was the style of writing for me, it was to a certain extent very conversational, but there was a lot to absorb. This wasn’t a bad thing entirely, all of which was covered in this book I found to be really insightful. For me, a lot of it was reinforcing ways of thinking that I already had (or was trying to embody), but some parts did show me different ways of exploring (and accepting) my own gender identity.
What I liked most about this book was the way it was organised. The book covered topics all to do with gender and understanding who you are. From Understanding Your Past to Self-Expression, as well as Social Media which I think is something really important to cover. Each topic was covered in a really accessible way, and included anecdotes as well as a summary at the end of each chapter. As well as this, there is a really great list of resources in one of the last chapters for those who might want to know more (I want to point out that as this was originally published in the UK, the resources are UK based, but helpful – in some cases – none the less). This book also recommends some further reading on the topic of gender identity which I will definitely have a look at.
I think part of the reason that it took me a while read this is that I found the narrative voice a little grating. While it is conversational, I found it to be a little pushy. Despite this, I think that some people might find this a lot easier to read than other more factual (or even clinical) books on gender identity. I also found that while there were quite a few topics covered, the information seemed to be talked about at a surface level. Again, I think this would be helpful for some, but I was left wanting more from the book.
On the whole this is a really well thought out book, and great for someone who is just starting to question their identity, and needs a place to start. It is a wonderful safe space to explore their gender identity and what it means for them. It is accessible, and, as the title says, is an exploration of the joys your gender identity can bring you.
Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 19th May 2022.
The Bolvar Union provides everything a good citizen needs, only asking one thing in return: total devotion to the State. Teenage best friends Adan Testa and Bo Shen have other ideas. They plan an unlikely heist to earn their way over the wall, escaping Bolvar before serving their mandatory five years in the Bolvar Union Defense Force. But Adan doesn’t know he possesses a secret talent that no one has seen in the five centuries since the First Explorers colonized Neska. And when the Union discovers Adan’s hidden gift, they’ll do anything and everything they can to discover his secret. Even if it kills him.
Fans of Alex London’s Proxy or M.R. Carey’s Ramparts Trilogy won’t want to miss this engaging and inclusive sci-fi dystopian thriller.
Founder’s Mercy was such a fun read! I loved the concept of the dystopian future on the backdrop of past colonists to the planet with varying results. The alternating chapters switching between of the present day and the captain’s log from the first settlers of the planet made for an interesting read. Especially when I made connections between the information being revealed in the logs and the events of the novel’s chapters.
While the plot was gripping and exciting, I think my favourite thing about this novel were the characters. I loved following Adan and Bo in their bid to escape their constrictive lives under the thumb of ‘The Union’. A body of government that claims to have their citizen’s best interests at their focus, but it doesn’t always seem that way. The friendship between these two main characters was wonderful to read amongst the dark backdrop if the setting. The friendship itself was so genuine and caring. The other main supporting characters were all so interesting to read, and I loved learning more about them all and following their crazy journey.
There were some little things I found with this novel that I had a small issue with. These were things that didn’t take away from the plot too much but were noticeable to me as a fellow writer. I didn’t feel they affected the narrative voice much, but without them would have enhanced the work. I also found the romances to be a little rushed – they seemed to develop very quickly. I know this can happen (I’m not that cold hearted). I just felt that a little more time (timeline time) spent with the romances might have made them more believable to be. Don’t get me wrong, the relationships were sweet, and I am totally onboard and emotionally invested. No turning back now!
Something I really loved was the casual inclusion of pronouns within the character’s conversations when they introduced themselves. I also loved how Adan would use neutral pronouns for people he met until he knew for sure. This is something I would love to see more of in other novels.
Overall, I love how much fun this novel was to read. It had a high stakes plot, secrets and lies everywhere you look, and some exciting scenes to read. The romances were really sweet, and I loved all the characters and their depth. I recommend this for those who enjoy dystopian sci-fi with strong plotting and some really fun characters.
Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title was published 22nd March 2022.
As a young, queer, plus-size person, Essie Dennis has spent a lot of time feeling like they weren’t enough – not queer enough, not feminine enough, not perfect enough. When they took to social media to share how they felt, they were overwhelmed by how many others felt the same.
I look too masculine to be non-binary I look too feminine to be a lesbian Am I too fat for drag?
Inviting you to challenge accepted beauty standards and the concept of ‘the perfect body’, Essie takes everything they have learned on their journey to self-acceptance and body satisfaction to help guide you towards loving your queer body. From gender, sexuality and reclaiming your body, through to food, politics, social media and fatphobia, this radical book starts a conversation about body image and mental health that queer people are so often left out of.
I really do feel that I read this book at the right time for me (not that I think there would ever a wrong time for me to read this). I have always had issues with my body – before I realised I was queer, and still now. While I have always had love and support from friends and family, I haven’t granted myself that same support and self-love. This book prompted to do some deep thinking on my own self-image and how my queerness is tangled with it, and how I haven’t been treating myself the way I should. This is something I really appreciate.
I found Queer Body Power to be really insightful and written in such a way that I didn’t feel I was being lectured. Essie Dennis has such a warm and friendly tone to the way that they write, it meant I didn’t feel like I was reading a ‘non-fiction’ book but that I was involved in a conversation. This conversational tone was really brought forward with the inclusion of stories from other queer people. Reading the range and diversity in the stories they had to tell added a depth to the book which I loved.
The exploration of how societal expectations to do with the concepts of femininity and masculinity can be harmful to one’s sense of self and body-image was so interesting to read. It really made me think about the way my presentation has been constantly changing, and how that change was possible reflective of a label I was trying to fit into at the time – however damaging the goal was to my physical and mental health. I loved the selection of focus chapters that they decided to explore. Especially those on gender roles, food, fatphobia, and fashion.
Queer Body Power is a book I think everyone should read at some point – queer or not. This book made me smile, it made me cry, and ultimately it made me think about my own body issues and their source. Thank you Essie Dennis for writing and putting together this honest, raw, and thought-provoking read.
Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 21st March 2022.