Q&A With Melanie Blake, Author Of The Thunder Girls

Melanie Blake is a pretty big deal – when you hear the term self-made woman she embodies it. As if being one of the UK’s leading music and entertainment managers wasn’t enough, Melanie has now turned author with the much anticipated novel. The Thunder Girls is here and it’s set to be the perfect summer read.

When I was asked to partner with Midas PR I jumped at the chance and a brilliant launch party I was able to get Melanie to answer a few questions.

Q: What was the main motivation for writing this novel? 

A: The characters had been in my consciousness for as long as I can remember and in a way their voices were so powerful, I had no choice but to tell their story. I do feel like The Thunder Girls are real and I guess I’m sort of like a medium they’ve shared their story through. Often when I would write, their voices were so strong I would find myself typing away almost in a trance and even when I read it back to edit, I was so engrossed- I knew I was onto a winner.

Q: Female friendship is at the centre of the novel, why do you think this isn’t something widely seen in novels? 

A: Publishers – lots of men are in power in publishing which is why you see so many male crime writers and not so many women writing about crime. What they fail to understand is that friendships are what make or break our lives so everyone who’s ever lived can identify with my book because we’ve all had those relationships, good and bad.

Q: Who were your writing inspirations? 

The women that influenced me to write in my early career where Jackie Collins, Lynda La Plante, Martina Cole, Judith Krantz, Jilly Cooper and Helen Fielding.

Q: Your characters are working class – what’s your advice for the modern working-class women? 

A: Never accept “no” for an answer. Never expect anyone to validate you. There’s an inherent stigma against working class, which is why you see so many successful working class and regional people often change their accents once they become successful. I never wanted to be part of ‘that club’. Being different is what makes us unique, despite what anyone tells you, never change. I spent my whole life being told “no” and when I stopped asking for approval, I started getting what I wanted. No-one is in charge of your own destiny but yourself. It doesn’t matter where you’re, from if you have a dream you must follow it.

Q: Do you consider this a feminist book? 

A: 100% – although on initial reading you don’t realise it is until you get halfway through. I’m not going to spoil the story but to say that it’s clear by the way it ends that these women know their own minds and bow to no man.

Q: And finally, what is one thing you want people to take away from reading this book? 

A: I want them to feel like they’ve been on an adventure, a white-knuckle rollercoaster ride that has moved them, made them laugh, made them cry, shocked them and warmed their hearts all at the same time, there’s a lot going on in this book.

A huge thank you to Melanie, Pan Macmillan, EDPR and Midas PR for this opportunity and my copy in exchange for this interview.

The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake is out now, published by Pan Macmillan, priced £7.99 in paperback original. 

Book Review: The Hormone Diaries: The Bloody Truth About Our Periods – Hannah Witton

If you haven’t noticed, I think Hannah Witton is a great YouTuber and also seems like a lovely person. I’ve watched her channel for a few years now and loved her first book, Doing It so when she announced a book tied to her series The Hormone Diaries, I was in.

The book is a great mix of informative and funny with some great notes from Hannah around the edges. While this is definitely aimed at an older audience (hooray!) I still learnt so much, and this is from someone who’s been having periods for about 12 years at this point. There was so much I didn’t know!

Covering letters from Hannah’s followers around the world they addressed to things you might not expect like, ‘Dear my period’, ‘Dear my pill’ and ‘Dear menstrual cup’ . While it is amusing it’s also great to see so many experiences of hormones, contraception and the like. I found myself laughing, sympathising and nodding along the whole way through this book.

What I didn’t expect to feel when reading was powerful. I wanted to get up and shout I AM A MENSTRATOR because, if you think about it, we’re pretty badass. And although, in my opinion, periods are shit, most contraception is a nightmare and the thought of giving birth makes my vagina scream in protest – our bodies are bloody marvelous.

This is probably the most inviting book I’ve read in a long time in regards to the gender spectrum. Hannah doesn’t just assume that everyone who has a period identifies as a woman. She has used inclusive language throughout which is definitely the way forward. While I’m a cis female I can understand how this can be a big thing for others. Go Hannah!

It’s worth pointing out that thanks to Hannah and her book I’m now part of a wonderful group on Facebook where we all talk about hormones and periods. It’s fantastic and I’m so glad so much conversation has come out of this book – and will continue to!

Is it any surprise that I gave this 5 stars. A great book and, once again, Hannah has pulled it out of the bag. I highly recommend this to anyone who gets a period or has to battle with estrogen on a regular basis.

Book Review: The Sun Does Shine – Anthony Ray Hinton

As a poor black man in the deep south, Anthony Ray Hinton, didn’t stand a chance when the police accused him of multiple murders. Despite the fact he had a solid alabi, the gun they claimed he had used hasn’t been fired in decades and didn’t match the bullets used. Despite his innocence he spent decades on death row inching closer to death before finally being declared a free man.

Throughout the pages I found myself getting angry, frustrated and upset with the lack of care that the justice system had towards this man. The fact that they would not acknowledge the racist actions of the people within their institution is, frankly, disgusting. But that in itself is the power of this memoir.

It was important that Ray showed that he does have his own flaws. It would have been easy to portray himself as squeaky clean, instead he owns up to the dodgy checks or the stolen car in his youth. Should he have done them? No. But he did and he admits it. Those actions, however, do not make him a murderer, simply an easy target for injustice.

There were times that I felt conflicted Ray spoke with kindness about the men around him, despite the fact that some were rapists and murderers but, he reminded the reader, not all were guilty. Some of them yes, but not all. At the end of the book there is a list of all of the people on death row, I read every single one of them and broke down in tears. There will be people in that list who are innocent – who may die.

I gave this memoir, 5 stars, I felt so emotional while reading it as well as angry. The fact that it took so long for Ray to be freed, how much of his life he missed is disgusting. That said, this is an incredibly important read because these are stories that need to be heard. I urge you to read this to really learn about the injustices.

What I Read June 2019

What I Read in June 2019

Hello, hello, hello!

June turned out to be a fantastic month for new releases, out of the 8 books I got through, half of them were new and I loved all 4! So, let’s crack on with what I read in June.

First up, Saved as Draft by N.D. Chan this was send to me by the publisher via Netgalley and is a mix of poetry and prose on their own relationships. I gave this 3 stars, while there were parts I enjoyed it wasn’t that memorable for me.

Next was a book I knew I needed as soon as I read, Royals – now renamed Prince Charming, the first in the series earlier this year. All I will say is enemies to lovers with a bisexual protagonist. It’s really sweet and I read it in a matter of hours – 5 stars.

It’s been a really long time since I read Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone and I used to read it every summer growing up, I was feeling a bit down so I thought going back to one of my favourite books of all time was a good idea. I fell back into the world and of course it’s a 5 star read. Duh!

I also picked up some new poetry in June, now I will admit this was a cover buy. It is such a beautiful cover, I couldn’t say no. This Is The Journey was great introduction to Alison Malee, I’ll be trying her other works to see how I get on, I gave this 3 stars.

I listened to Phoebe Robinsons second book Everything’s Trash But It’s Ok after loving her first last year. Phoebe is absolutely hilarious but also has some great points about burnout, body image and recent politics. I’d highly recommend the audiobook because Phoebe is hilarious, 4.5 stars.

Also this month (a great one for new releases) was the amazing Hannah Wittons latest book The Hormone Diaries – The Bloody Truth About Our Periods. This was an excellent look at hormones, periods and sex and once again Hannah has done a great job, 5 stars and a review coming soon!

My final two books I didn’t think would make it by the end of the month that drove me INSANE because they are two of my most anticipated reads. Red, White and Royal Blue is one of the best, sweetest and most wonderful books. It’s up there as one of my favourites. The fictional First Son of the United States falls in love with the Prince of Wales. If that doesn’t pull you in I don’t know what will.

And finally some of my faves, The Try Guys , released their first book The Hidden Power of F*cking Up which went right in as a New York Times Number 1! This book is all about trying, failing and everything in between. I love their Youtube channel and they have done so well in the first year of a new business, a tour, a book. They are on FIIIIIIIRE! 5 stars, it really made me think about what I was doing with myself and how important failing is.

A good month for reading I think! What did you read? Let me know in the comments below.

Book Review: Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Told through interviews with the band and those closest to them, the history of Daisy Jones & The Six is laid bare, although some accounts vary. Each band member takes us through the late 60s and early 70s telling a story of what those years meant to them and ultimately what destroyed them.

I’d heard people say they fell in love with this book but I didn’t know how much I would fall in love with this book. Within a single novel I knew that Taylor Jenkins Reid was going to be one of my favourite authors – I immediately downloaded a few of her books in audiobook format after finishing Daisy Jones.

The fact that Jenkins Reid has been able to write an entire book in interviews and not leave out anything or feel like the reader is missing out was incredible. I also felt like we could really get to know each individual character, understand them and their motives and it really rounded out the plot.

It may come as a surprise to some, but my favourite character was Camilla. She was absolutely incredible, a strong woman who knew her own heart and did what was best for her and her relationships. She was a voice of reason and I just loved her so, so much. To be fair this is a novel full of incredible women, so there’s a lot of love all around.

This novel lived in my head for weeks after reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I made my own 70s playlist and wondered about what would have happened after. It is the sign of a truly great novel and great writer for that to happen. The band felt so real, personally, I’d love for the songs written in the book to be performed by recording artists for us to enjoy.

Is it any surprise that I gave this novel 5 stars? This was probably my favourite book of the year so far (in close competition with The Seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo, another novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid). I truly felt like this was real, I wanted to go and listen to music by The Six, hear Daisy’s soul in her voice. Absolutely incredible and I’ve been trying to make everyone read it.

Book Review: Prince Charming (Royals) – Rachel Hawkins

It isn’t every day that your older sister is set to marry a member of the royal family, but that’s the position that Daisy and her family find themselves in – and she wants no part of it. She’s happy with her florida life, her mermaid red hair and staying out of the paparazzi’s way. But, when a whiff of scandal comes for Daisy she’s shipped off the Scotland…and it’s just the beginning of a royal rollercoaster.

I picked this up at YALC last year, but didn’t get around to it until earlier this year and I’m kicking myself for waiting that long! This is a light story but one that is a lot of fun and has a healthy dose of romance. When I bought my copy the novel was called Royals, this has been update this year to Prince Charming, with a new cover to die for.

First things first, our protagonist, Daisy, is an absolute delight. She’s hilarious but also glaringly normal – which is why you relate to her so much. There’s no rule book on what to do if you become in laws to the royal family or how to get on with the aristocracy when it’s a whole different world – I know I would struggle!

When Daisy meets the younger royals and their friends, Prince Seb, Monty and the rest of the ‘Royal Wreckers’ is when the fun really begins. As Monty is instructed to teach Daisy the royal ropes, he finds his work cut out for him. Daisy doesn’t fit the role of the traditional lady, but it’s because of that she can teach them a thing or two.

I really enjoyed seeing the relationship between Daisy and her older sister Ellie evolve throughout the book. It’s clear at the start they are very different people with different priorities but they need each other – even if they don’t always see it. I wish we saw more of the sister relationship in YA, this is part of the reason the novel really stood out for me.

I gave this 5 stars, this was an absolute joy to read. It had the perfect amount of romance, comedy and royalty for me to enjoy. I’ve recommended this to a lot of people and I will continue to. Keep an eye out for my review of the next book in the series (!!) following the roommate of Princess Flora.

The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag 2019

As of the morning of 1st June I had read a total of 47 books this year, according to Goodreads I’m 6 books ahead of schedule for my 100 book goal (although, really I’d like to get 120). I feel like that’s a good variety to post the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag! I also did this tag last year and it was really fun. So let’s see what I’m loving this year.

Best Book Of The Year So Far

So far I think it’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo! I know I’m so late to the party and I actually read Daisy Jones & The Six first but Evelyn is my favourite.

I listened to this on Audible and the narration was absolutely perfect, I was listening to it every waking moment and got through it super quickly and now I recommend it to everyone.

A New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

Red,White and Royal Blue is probably my most anticipated read of the summer. I’ve been watching everyone in the US raving over this book and I am so desperate for my copy! An LGBTQ romance with a royal element? Gimme, gimmie, gimmie!

Most Anticipated Release Of Autumn/Winter

I loved P.S I Love you and the fact that there is going to be a follow up made me so happy. So, of course I’ve ordered Postscript by Cecelia Ahern which comes out the day after my birthday. Seems like a good start to turning 25.

Biggest Disappointment Of The Year So Far

I hate this questions but it has to be The Mermaids Voice Returns In This One by Amanda Lovelace. I loved her previous 2 poetry collections in the series The Princess Saves Herself In This One and The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One and I love mermaids but this just seemed rushed to me unfortunately.

Biggest Surprise So Far

Your Heart Is The Sea was sent to me by the publisher and I’ve read Gill’s poetry before and it was okay but then this came in the post. This is the first collection I’ve felt a deep connection with, I felt like this was written for me. I related to every page and really hope to read more of this from Gill in the years to come.

New Favourite Author

Taylor Jenkins Reid

I’m obsessed with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books. I got through 2 full novels and a shorter story within a matter of weeks. The characters are so alive and lived within my head for a long time after I finished reading.

So, I’m slowly making my way through all of her books and I’ll be watching her social media for her next amazing book, although as Daisy Jones came out not so long ago I know it’ll be worth the wait!

Your Newest Favourite Character

There is no character that jumps out as my new favourite so far!

A Book That Made You Cry

The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton is about a man who spends decades in prison not only for a crime he didn’t commit, but could not have been involved in at all. His only crime was being poor and black and this was a tough read. A beautifully written book that broke my heart.

A Book That Made You Happy

Are you ready for one of the CUTEST books you’ve ever read? Heartstopper by Alice Oseman made my heart so happy it’s a really sweet graphic novel about friendship and love. So, so, sweet.

The Most Beautiful Book So Far

Out of books I’ve read it’s Five Feet Apart not only is this a beautifully written (and emotional) book, this cover is absolutely beautiful it’s such a delicate design too. Love, love, love it.

What have you loved so far this year? I’d love to hear your recommendations below!