Recommended Reads June 2023

This month, my recommendations are a mix of new reads on my TBR and a few favourites released this year.

Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer By Jeffrey Bokaeye

Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer is a fun and nostalgic, music-fuelled adventure set on a South London estate in the 90s, heavily inspired by Jeffrey’s childhood growing up in Brixton. Eleven-year-old Kofi is trying to make his way through school, earn pocket money and stay out of trouble on his estate. A natural entrepreneur, Kofi spots an opportunity in his best friend Kelvin’s amazing photographic memory – and the fact that he can remember every single line of a song he’s heard only once… Introducing PAPER JAM – a fanzine packed full of song lyrics.

Publish Date: 1st June
Publisher: Faber & Faber

Tiger Work by Ben Okri

Inspired by environmental activism, Tiger Work blends fiction, essay and poetry to make a powerful and very personal appeal for change.

If we continue to live as we do now, Ben Okri argues in this evocative collection, there will be no world left for us to fix. He imagines messages, sent to us from beyond the end, from those who saw it coming – from Africa, Europe, the Americas and the rest of the world – exhorting us to change now.

This is a collection comprising two poems and six prose pieces – three short stories, an essay, a letter, and an interview. It has Ben’s classic blend of storytelling, fantasy and magic.

Publish Date: 20th June 2023
Publisher: Other Press

You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again.

It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career.

She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honour her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?

Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.

Originally Published Date: 25th Jan 2022
Publisher: Other Press

Mad World: The Politics of Mental Health by Micha Frazer-Carroll

Mental health affects us all, and yet it remains elusive as a concept.
Does getting a diagnosis help or hinder it? How is mental well-being, which is often incredibly personal, driven by widespread societal suffering? Can it be a social construct and real at the same time?

These are some of the big questions Micha Frazer-Carroll asks as she reveals mental health to be a political issue that needs deeper understanding beyond today’s ‘awareness raising‘ campaigns.

Exploring the history of asylums and psychiatry; the relationship between disability and broader liberation movements; alternative models of care; the relationship between art and mental health; law and the decarceration of mental health, Mad World is a radical and hopeful antidote to pathologization, gatekeeping and the policing of imagination.

Publish: 20th June 2023
Publisher: Pluto Press

Empire Windrush: Reflections on 75 Years & More of the Black British Experience by Onyekachi Wambu

In June 1948 the SS Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury, carrying with it the hopes and dreams of hundreds of young men and women from the Caribbean. It was both a point of departure and a historic transformation, a moment which influenced generations of writers and artists and produced much poetry, prose, fiction, journalism and influential essays.

In this groundbreaking collection, journalist and writer Onyekachi Wambu collates some of the best and most significant writing from the 75 years following the arrival of Empire Windrush. Featuring a preface by Margaret Busby, and new writing from Bernardine Evaristo, Mike Philips and Dan Hicks, Empire Windrush conjures a unique journey through the British past, present and future, via the prism of the Black imagination.

Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 22nd June 2023

Promise Boys by Nick Brooks

The Urban Promise Prep School vows to turn boys into men. As students, J.B., Ramón, and Trey are forced to follow the prestigious “program’s” strict rules. Extreme discipline, they’ve been told, is what it takes to be college bound, to avoid the fates of many men in their neighbourhoods. This, the Principal Moore Method, supposedly saves lives.

But when Moore ends up murdered and the cops come sniffing around, the trio emerges as the case’s prime suspects. With all three maintaining their innocence, they must band together to track down the real killer before they are arrested. But is the true culprit hiding among them?

This gripping thriller shines a glaring light on how the system too often condemns Black and Latinx teen boys to failure before they’ve even had a chance at success.

Publish Date: 2nd February 2023
Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Glow Up, Lara Bloom: the secret diary of a teenage catastrophe! by Dee Benson

My name is Lara Bloom and this is my life …

Meet Lara Bloom – the best friend you never knew you needed. This is her diary . . .

When Lara meets a super-cute new boy Caiden, she begins to think that the way to his heart is to give herself a glow-up. But her friends are not impressed. You should never glow up for a boy, only for yourself!

As Lara and her friends embark on their project of empowerment and self-love, Lara shares her innermost thoughts with her online journal. How can she keep her hair under control when she’s playing football? Why is she so fast on the pitch yet so uncoordinated off it? And how will she ever convince Caiden to take an interest in her?
With her worries safely locked in her top-secret journal, Lara is on track to unlock the glow-up of her dreams. Surely nothing could possibly go wrong . . .?!

Publish Date: 2nd February 2023
Publisher: Hot Key Books

Fire Rush. By Jacqueline Crooks

Yamaye lives for the weekend. When she can go raving with her friends at The Crypt, an underground club in the industrial town on the outskirts of London. A young woman unsure of her future, the sound is her guide – a chance to discover who she really is in the rhythms of those smoke-filled nights. In the dance-hall darkness, dub is the music of her soul, her friendships, and her ancestry.

But everything changes when she meets Moose, the man she falls deeply in love with, and who offers her the chance of freedom and escape.

When their relationship is brutally cut short, Yamaye goes on a dramatic journey of transformation where past and present collide with explosive consequences.

Publish Date: 2nd March 2023
Publisher: Vintage Publishing

The Breakfast Club Adventures: The Ghoul in the School by Marcus Rashford

There’s something strange going on at school . . .

The Breakfast Club Investigators haven’t managed to solve a mystery in months and Marcus is worried that the group is going to break up! So when Gbenga, the captain of the school basketball team, comes to ask for their help Marcus knows this might just be the Investigator’s last chance to prove themselves.

The basketball team have had a streak of bad luck, and Marcus and his mates are sure there’s more going on than meets the eye. As the mystery deepens and they uncover one surprising clue after another, they discover that someone – or something – has cursed the basketball team! Can Marcus and his friends solve the mystery in time?

Publish Date: 27th April 2023
Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Lolly Luck by Ellie Daines

Lolly is Lolly Luck by name, lucky by nature. She always wins magazine competitions, scratch cards and any game you can think of. But when Lolly’s dad loses his job and then the family home, Lolly’s luck starts to change. And when she overhears her parents arguing, she learns a secret that will change her life forever.

Publish Date: 2nd February 2023
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd


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