The television show Peaky Blinders brought Birmingham’s interwar backstreets to life when it introduced us to the violent and compelling Shelby family. Noted historian and Brummy-born Carl Chinn delves into the Black Country’s archives to find out who the real peaky blinders were, separating fact from fiction and showing what a devastating effect this early 20th century gang violence had on working class Birmingham, and how it spilled onto the nation’s racecourses.
Annie’s mother is a serial killer. After years of abuse and being witness to her mother’s crimes, Annie has a new name: Milly. And she has a new life. Living with a rich foster family complete and attending an exclusive girls school, Milly tries to find a normal life amidst the stress of her mother’s impending trial. On of this, her foster sister, Phoebe, isn’t happy with her new family’s new adopted stray and makes sure Milly knows this at every opportunity. Soon Milly begins to wonder how much like her mother she really is.
Richard S. Kennedy, E. E. Cummings’ official biographer, compiles a selection of over 100 of the poet’s works. Covering a range of topics, each subject is introduced by Kennedy with brief biographical contextualisation and some of Cummings’ original artworks.
During the summer of 1969, four siblings hear of a curious fortune teller who can predict the day you die. Pooling their pocket money and eager for a cure to the monotony of the long summer, they seek her out, entering her cramped and crowded apartment one by one. Simon, the youngest, enters first, followed wild-haired Klara, sensible Daniel, and finally the eldest, Varya, nervously follows her siblings. They come out the other side forever changed by what they heard. Over the next five decades, the fortunes they were told shape each of the siblings’ lives, pushing the power of their familial bond to the limit.
Sofia’s mother, Rose, has spent most of her life in what she describes as excruciating pain, yet simultaneous numbness. Unable to get to the bottom of her illness, Sofia and Rose spend thousands of pounds, remortgaging their home in the process, to travel to the enigmatic Dr. Gomez in arid Spain in the hope that he may offer an explanation and some relief for Rose’s condition. Up until this point, Sofia had been sleeping on a camp bed in the storeroom of the coffee shop she worked in, after dropping out of her PhD program. A keen anthropologist, Sofia quietly studies those whom she meets in this little Spanish town, whilst battling with her own identity issues. She quickly becomes involved with an intriguing German seamstress, but struggles to determine whether her emotions are that of love or obsession.
Drawing on her personal experiences of growing up fat and constantly dieting, Virgie Tovar teaches others to reject that same mindset. She discusses diet culture, fat phobia, sexist fashion and more, arguing that we must unlearn what society has taught us since childhood in order to embrace our bodies, and to learn that it is fine to be fat.
Ella is drifting through her 20s, with the distinct feeling that she’s not where she should be. She watches as her girlfriend, Alix, succeed in her art and make plans to take her work abroad, while Ella herself fails to produce more than one painting a year, despite her similar artist aspirations. Instead, she finds herself bouncing from one care-giving job to another, privy to the most private moments of people in need. She takes on the task of caring for Jill, a client slightly younger than her usual charges who is left mentally diminished following a tragic accident. Ella is struck by the tenderness with which Jill’s husband, Bryn, cares for her, and the quiet friendship that develops between the two of them as Ella returns each day to help where she can. As she continues to observe their marriage each day, Ella finds herself questioning her own relationships with those around her.
Inspired by the film of the same name, Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke brings this nightmarish fairytale to book form. In Spain during the summer of 1944, the aftermath of the civil war plays out in the forests, in between the trees and under the cover of darkness. Republican rebels hide out in the woods, hunted by the capitán and his soldiers who make an old mill their base. Ofelia and her mother, who is heavily pregnant and very weak, arrive at the mill to be reunited with Captain Vidal, Ofelia’s new stepfather. Most do not take notice of her, the cruel capitán is irritated by her presence, but under the ground, creatures are stirring – they sense the return of the long-lost Princess Moanna. Ofelia discovers an overgrown labyrinth and meets the Fawn, who sets her three tasks to prove she is the missing Princess. Ofelia’s love of fairytales guides her, but things soon become far more sinister than they ever did in her storybooks.
Carol Ann Duffy’s award-winning 2011 poetry collection, The Bees, was Duffy’s first publication as Poet Laureate. It explores a variety of topics and themes, all bound together by the subtle symbolism of the bee.
When leading physics professor Helen Clapp begins receiving texts from her college best friend, Charlie, she starts to doubt everything she thought she knew about science and about life. After all, Charlie’s dead. As Helen becomes more involved in the lives of Charlie’s grieving husband and daughter, she begins to uncover things she had long forgotten, not only about Charlie, but also herself.