Saturday, 9 June 2018

May's reading

May was glorious - the summer has finally made an appearance, bringing lovely sunny days,
thunderstorms and colourful flowers everywhere. Plus a bonus of two bank holidays! Not only did I read five books but I also submitted a story that I've been working on for ages.

This month's reads stretch across memoir, graphic novel, modern fiction and two novels set during WWII but are very different - one in London during the Blitz and another in the country, in the marshlands.

I nearly managed six books but I gave up a book this month too - I managed 150 pages but I found myself not wanting to read it, becoming bored with the characters and not feeling excited to read the book. I don't normally ditch books but I really needed too. I have some fantastic books on my shelves, screaming out to be read.


How to be Happy - Eva Woods
I read this over the first bank holiday because sometimes you need something an uplifting book fully of hope, happiness as well as a few tears. How to be Happy tells the story of Annie how has been sad for a long time and can't remember the last time she was last happy. When she becomes friends with Polly life starts to change. Polly has one hundred days to make Annie happy. Annie is convinced this is impossible but then she starts to realise that days are more bearable and happier and that maybe Polly needs her more than she thought. This is a touching read. Perfect for the summer.


The End of the Fucking World - Charles Forsman (not pictured)
Two teenagers dealing with the fear of growing up, and running away from their parents. Disenchanted with life, with echoes to Catcher in the Rye, they set off on a road trip and promises to change their lives. Full of sociopathic teenagers, angst and pain, The End of the Fucking World is a graphic novel that taps right into the fears of growing up.

Hunger - Roxane Gay
This intimate, painful yet admiring memoir, Roxane Gay tells the story of her body and how a devastating violence changes the way she views herself and others. Such a fantastic book on body image, food, the way we internally feel about our bodies, coping with being a victim of rape. An amazing, raw and honest read. I've always struggled with my body image, worrying that I had too many wobbly bits, comparing myself to others. I wish this book was available when I was younger.

Dear Mrs Bird - AJ Pearce
Sit in London during the Blitz, Dear Mrs Bird tells the story of Emmy who wants to desperately be a lady war correspondent but ends up working for a women's magazine, typing up the problem page for Mrs Bird. However, Mrs Bird doesn't want an unpleasantness on her pages yet all of the letters are pleading for help. Emmy can just sit there binning these letters - she needs to help these women asking for advice. I loved Emmy's voice in the book, and the way its full of authentic details and I didn't want to stop reading. Enduring friendships, and ordinary people dealing with extraordinary events. This is a great book.

Call of the Curlew - Elizabeth Brooks 
Had a slight accident with the cover of this book...erm dog ate my homework?!

This atmospheric book tells the story of Virginia, who in 1939, is adopted by a couple living on the of edge of marshland. Shifting sands, warnings not to venture beyond the wall, secrets spoken about behind doors. One day a German fighter plane crashes, and her adopted father does missing when out rescuing the pilot. Her new home becomes a dangerous place to live, and she will spend the rest of her lift dealing with the aftermath. Call of the Curlew will be out at the end of June, and my review will be appearing at the beginning of July as part of the blog tour for this book!

What did you read in May?

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Book Extract: Shelter by Sarah Franklin

Today sees the release of Shelter by Sarah Franklin in paperback. Shelter is inspired by the little-known history of the lumberjills and Prisoners of War who lived and worked together in the Forest of Dean during WWII and formed unforgettable friendships during this time.

Shelter is available from your favourite bookshop.

To celebrate the launch of Shelter we have an extract...

*

Connie stuck her tongue out at the face gurning at her from the faded looking glass on the tallboy. Mud was everywhere, in her eyelashes and streaked down her face like bad rouge. It was going to take some serious spit and polish to get spruced up. For a moment she couldn’t remember why she’d agreed to go to the dance in the first place. But Hetty would kill her if Connie missed tonight’s final fling before the other trainees scattered, and it had been too long since she’d been out dancing. Time to make sure she still knew how.

Connie found the edge of the washcloth, spat on it and rubbed her cheek, twisting sideways to see if she’d improved the situation. Not a hope. She was scuppered – time to brave the water. She moved over to the chest of drawers and poured water from the jug that sat there in the porcelain basin. It was as clear as spring water and as cold, too. Nothing like the brown trickle you’d get back in Coventry.

Connie tangled the brush through her hair until it was stick-straight again and tugged off her drenched socks. When she’d been in the hostel, before she’d been billeted here, some of her fellow lumberjills had made a big song and dance about getting changed as soon as they were home from the woods. They’d swan around putting on dainty tea dresses, or the clean skirts and blouses their mothers had sent them.

Some hope of that for her. Connie yanked open the wardrobe door and stared at its contents. The cupboard still smelled of the forest; maybe she’d stop noticing once all her clothes whiffed like that too.

Nothing would fit. She’d have to wear that yellow dress, though she should have got rid of it months ago. Connie pulled it out, hangers jangling. The trousers and overalls that belonged to Amos’s son bumped into her uniforms, releasing another pong of the countryside into the air.

Connie draped the frock against her overalls and dragged the rickety chair over to the window, craning to catch a glimpse of her reflection. Behind the panes, finger-like twigs tapped at her and she jumped. This place gave her the willies, always something creaking or scratching. Whoever thought the countryside was still and calm hadn’t spent any damn time in it.


*

Sarah Franklin grew up in rural Gloucestershire. She lectures in publishing at Oxford Brookes, is the founder and host of Short Stories Aloud and a judge for the Costa Short Story Award. She has written for The Guardian, Psychologies, The Pool, Sunday Express. In 2014, Sarah was awarded a Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship on the strength of her opening pages of SHELTER, and worked on the novel for a year with Jenn Ashworth, amongst others.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Imaginary Bookshop: Dr Leo Lafferty-Whyte

Today Dr Leo Lafferty-Whyte has popped by to launch his new book, Life Satisfaction and to take part in the Imaginary Bookshop series.

Life Satisfaction shows you how to improve your life, not give up and find satisfaction. Offering ways to set goals and frameworks for lasting success. Leo also shows his personal journey through his approaches to happiness.

*

What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?
The Book Sanctuary


Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
Hidden down an alleyway off a major city street. One of those little alleys that only people who know it’s there would see it. It would be a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the world. Very Diagon Alley.

Would your bookshop have any special features?
Lots of comfortable seats for snuggling up with a blanket for reading. Our chief executive animal (Newfoundland puppy Bear) would greet all customers at the door with love and enthusiasm. There would be coffee and cocktails available as well.

What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?
It would be a social meeting place and more about reading and escaping from the busy modern world than just being a shop.

What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
I’d have lots of philosophy, science, travel, self-help, religious (both traditional and new age), nutrition, history, fitness. I’d ditch sports sections probably – I’m not a huge fan and the competitive vibe would disturb the chilled out inclusive atmosphere I’d be going for.

Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
I’d have both my own books (obviously) but also a selection from inspiring people like Oprah, Oscar Wilde and Richard Branson. It would be a table for inspiration.

If you could run only one author event who would you have? You can pick a living or dead writer. What sort of event would they run?

It would have to be Oprah. I’m a huge fan of hers. Her journey through adversity and transformation into such an inspiring leader is something I hope to echo in my own life, even in a small way. It would be a question and answer event. Relaxed, intimate and full of love.

A customer comes up to your till with a copy of your novel and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
I’d ask them if they are feeling satisfied with their life. If they feel they need a framework to get themselves back on track. If they would like to try something that isn’t based on woo-woo and is a practical guide rather than just an inspiring read. If the answer is yes to all three then I think they would get benefit from delving into it.

What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
Key lime pie. Zesty, sweet and refreshing.

*

Dr Leo Lafferty-Whyte, Ph.D grew up in the North East of Scotland in the 80's and 90's. As a young gay man in a small fishing village he suffered mental and physical abuse on a daily basis. He used his past traumas to fuel his hunger for self-improvement and adopted the life goal of leaving the world a better place than when he entered. After several years’ experience, and receiving his life coaching accreditation, Leo launched Triple ‘H’ Coaching in 2016 and the Triple H Coaching mobile app. In addition he has a degree in Genetics & Immunology from University of Aberdeen and he was awarded a Ph.D in Molecular Oncology from the University of Glasgow. Leo currently lives near Glasgow with his partner and Newfoundland dog, all three of which can often be found hiking a local mountain or relaxing on a woodland walk.


You can buy Life Satisfaction: A Scientist's Guide from your favourite bookshop.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Their Brilliant Careers

Their Brilliant Careers: The Fantastic Lives of Sixteen Extraordinary Australian Writers
By Ryan O'Neill
Published by Lightning Books
Available in hardback
Forthcoming in paperback

We need more books like Their Brilliant Careers. This is a playful, addictive book of a biographies, interlinked, telling the stories of sixteen invented Australian writers.

O'Neill pulls the reader into an imaginary literary scene, blurring the lines between what we consider fiction and non-fiction.

Each story is full of eccentric characters with one customs officer seizing the works of Hemingway and Joyce, rewriting sections and then selling them to publishers while Rachel Deverall who discovers the secret source of Australian literature but suffers a dreadful ending before she can share her research.

O'Neill explores racism, political allegiances, family dramas and rival with the authors in their plotted biographies. Their Brilliant Careers is full of literary references that many book fans will love. Rand Washington, a right-wing writer of racist sci-fi and creator of a cult yet hugely successful has hints of L. Ron Hubbard

O'Neill builds up the layers of the authors with many appearing into each other's biographies, helping to build up a believable thriving literary scene. This brings an authentic feel to the book and could almost fool a casual reader that this is a book of real authors.

Social media has made people very curious about celebrities and we take joy in knowing more about their private lives. However, the internet allows people to curate a styled version of their lives. Their Brilliant Careers is refreshing in a world where people only show their polished sides of their lives as we get to see these authors in their raw state - messy, complicated, no escape from their shady sides of their lives.

Their Brilliant Careers is a witty, addictive, smart read, and this book will definitely not let you go once you start reading. People who love books, and knowing more about the people behind the words will enjoy this book. Their Brilliant Careers is available from your favourite bookshop.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

April's Reading

April gave us a preview of the summer for like three days and then reminded us that England's natural habitat is watercolour grey skies, clouds and drizzle. But we're a couple of days into May and it's looking fantastic already - plus we have two bank holidays so is this the best month?

In April, I managed four books (not all pictured here) and I honestly thought it was going to be less because I've been busy with life - seeing friends, having a horrid cold, going to see the latest Avengers movie - I'm not going to give the plot away but this makes up for the middle of the road superhero movies we've had to suffer to get to this point. I really want to see it again! Not to mention going to the Royal Albert Hall with my sister to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets being played alongside an orchestra. We even managed a trip to the bookshop.

Right, on with the books...

Their Brilliant Careers - Ryan O'Neill
This playful book is a set of stories, linked, telling the story of 16 (invented) Australian writers. I found I couldn't put this book down as it really pulls you into the lives of these characters. A review of this is currently being written in my head so should appear here within the next week or so.

Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman
Most of my Norse knowledge has faded over time and replaced by Marvel versions so it was great to read this collection of short stories exploring the Norse Gods.

The Cactus - Sarah Haywood
Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion will love the protagonist, Susan Green. Just like the characters in Simsion's and Honeyman's novels, she is eccentric, annoying but sweet even before one paragraph has ended. She has a rigid life and it's about to unravel out of her control. This book shows readers how stepping outside our comfort zones can be more interesting and fun rather than living within self-imposed boundaries. You can read my review here.

Dark Places - Gillian Flynn (via kindle)
This was the second book for work's book club. I've never read any of Gillian Flynn's novels before and I've only watched Gone Girl on the telly so it was good to read this. Full of twists and turns, this tells the story of Libby Day as she reluctantly takes on the investigation to work out if it was her brother who murdered their mother and sisters over twenty years ago. I don't normally read thrillers so it was interesting to read this.

Preview on May... I've just given up reading a book for the first time this year. I just couldn't connect with the characters or the plot... so bye bye book. I've got too many unread books to be wasting my time on books that don't tickle me.

Friday, 27 April 2018

The Cactus

The Cactus
By Sarah Haywood
Published by Two Roads
Available in hardback, ebook and audio
Paperback is forthcoming

Sarah Haywood's debut novel, The Cactus, is a novel about letting go of control your life and enjoy the complications and diversions.

Fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion will love the protagonist, Susan Green. Just like the characters in Simsion's and Honeyman's novels, she is eccentric, annoying but sweet even before one paragraph has ended. She has a rigid life and it's about to unravel out of her control.

Prickly on the outside like a cactus, Sarah Green has wrapped herself up in rules and regulations and a seemingly perfect life to protect herself from dealing with emotions. Haywood creates a fascinating and yet frustrating character with Sarah - she is closed off from the real world, living in a tiny bubble, not really wanting to acknowledge the importance of the people in her life.

Sarah's has the perfect life - a flat in London, a job that she loves for its logical angle, a casual arrangement with a man where both of them can avoid emotional ties but have someone to enjoy dinners, theatre and sex. This life is about to be shaken up even though Sarah is fierce and determined not to let her life become tangled up in family politics and lies.

Following the loss of her mother, and the prospect of becoming a mother, Sarah's life starts to unravel. Secrets and lies start to reveal themselves but Sarah starts to see that she has more friends than she thought she needed.

Uncovering family secrets and feuds will unravel Susan's life. This book shows readers how stepping outside our comfort zones can be more interesting and fun rather than living within self-imposed boundaries.

This is an enjoyable, funny and sweet story. You can buy The Cactus from your favourite bookshop.


I was sent a copy via Bookbridgr.

Monday, 9 April 2018

The End of Loneliness

The End of Loneliness
By Benedict Wells
Translated by Charlotte Collins
Published by Sceptre
Available in trade paperback and ebook
Paperback is forthcoming

"The antidote to loneliness isn't just being around random people indiscriminately, the antidote to loneliness is emotional security."

This quote from Benedict Wells' novel, The End of Loneliness, a German bestseller, perfectly sums up this book. This is an incredible story about loss, loneliness, family and love.

Marty, Liz and Jules' childhood is full of warmth, adventure and happiness but this is shattered by the death of their parents in a car crash. 

The tightly-knit family is pulled apart with the children being sent to a grim state boarding school. Here their paths split off, and each one tries to find a way of fighting against the hole of loneliness and fight against crippling grief. Liz becomes a party girl only interested in boys, Marty locks himself away with his computer while Jules floats through school, with only one true friend. Jules fears living, and seems to retreat into a world where his parents are still alive, and he has a happier life. He is nostalgic, much like the main character from Midnight in Paris, longing to be living in the past as this is the only place he is happy.

Like Olivia Laing's The Lonely City, the exploration of loneliness digs deep into the soul and it is fascinating the way Wells pulls apart the many ways loneliness can creep into our lives. Jules is detached from his life, sometimes unable to take the leap from observing to being emotionally involved with life. This fear of living holds him back from being happy with failed jobs, and relationships - running away from commitment, hiding away from society. Yet, there are tender moments when Jules finds happiness, finally marrying the women he has loved since childhood, being a parent.

Wells shows how grief shapes people's lives and the decisions we make when gripped by grief. The End of Loneliness shows how grief never leaves us but morphs into a different shape.

This is a beautifully written and translated novel, full of emotion. I can see this book being on my book of the year list for 2018. End of Loneliness is available from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy via the publisher.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

March's reading

Only three books read in March?!

But last month felt like it stretched for years. Lets blame the horrendous cold I had and the fact it made my concentration levels shrink to less than thirty seconds. Actually, that excuse is the truth.

Lets not forget the adventures to Stonehenge, being the last person on the planet to watch Black Panther (fantastic, go see it), becoming hooked on Booktube, and having a clear out of books and old clothes.

The End of Loneliness - Benedict Wells (translated by Charlotte Collins)
I'm going to be writing a longer review later this week but I should probably give you a heads up and tell you that this book is fantastic. Exploring the themes of loss, loneliness, family and love. This book follows the lives of three siblings after their perfect childhood is shattered by the sudden death of their parents. Grief pulls them apart, sending them in different directions with their lives. This is a fantastic book.

Life Lessons from Remarkable Women - various writers
Finding this book turned into a mission with me walking around four bookshops in London (oh I know, the hardship) before getting my mitts on this. This essential book, in a handy size to carry around in any bag, covers essays on starting over, self love, embracing ambition, grief, motherhood, dealing with mental health. These essays are necessary for the modern world, and are all in bitesize chunks so you can easily read one while on the train. Life Lessons is thought provoking, empowering, a call to arms for women - to raise up and not hide in the shadows. I'm definitely going to be going back to this book, and re-reading these essays.

The Course of Love - Alain de Botton
"That strive to normalize our troubles and show us a melancholy yet hopeful path through the course of love." Part romance, part story on surviving and enjoying a modern relationship, part philosophy. My cat was sick on it twice. I enjoyed the book more than she did.

What books did you read in March?

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Book Review: Here We Are Now

Here We Are Now
By Jasmine Warga
Published by Hodder
Available in paperback and ebook

I really enjoyed Jasmine Warga's previous novel, My Heart and Other Black Holes, and her lovely responses to the Imaginary Bookshop Q&A so I was happy to receive her newest book, Here We Are Now.

Taliah's quiet teenage life is full of being in a band, having a best friend, going to school, being moody. But this is about to be shaken up and for her life to change. 

This is a novel full of angst, heartbreak, families, friends and music. This is Taliah's coming of age story which Warga captures brilliantly with an authentic teenage voice, full of frustration of stepping away from being a child and annoyed that she still isn't an adult.

Taliah has been writing letters to a rock star for years, telling him she knows he is her father. Her mother is protective of the past, trying to build a better life for her daughter and wrap her in cotton wool from the real world. While her mother is out of the country, Julian Oliver, rock star, knocks on the door, saying that he his there to see his daughter, and asking Taliah to come and visit her dying grandfather. This is the adventure she has been waiting for.

Warga looks at the things that can bring together families during times of crisis. This is a journey of self-discovery for Taliah as she deals with the uncertainties in her life, builds confidence and deals with the unease that she feels towards her family. This is also for her to learn that her mother is more than just the person so how looks after her. Her mother also makes mistakes and this self-realisation brings about a maturity in Taliah.

Set across a week in Taliah's life, Warga packs a punch with all of the events that happen, and keeps the momentum building and the pace fast. I found that I could put this book down as I learned more about Taliah and her parent's past.

You can buy a copy from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy via Bookbridgr.com

Monday, 19 March 2018

Marius Gabriel's Imaginary Bookshop


Today Marius Gabriel, author of The Ocean Liner, has popped by to take part in the Imaginary Bookshop series. The Ocean Liner is published this week, and tells the story of Masha and Rachel aboard the SS Manhattan in September 1939, bound for New York. The boar must make it across the Atlantic Ocean and through the danger of German U-boats. Will they achieve their dream of a new life in America?

*

What would be the name of your imaginary bookshop?
Wonderful Novels!

Where would your imaginary bookshop be located?
Oh, I think in London. On the Strand, or perhaps on Piccadilly (though not too close to Hatchards)

Would your bookshop have any special features?
Absolutely no distractions. Silence would be enforced by lady wrestlers, who would put a choke-hold on anyone talking too loud or disturbing the peace. But there would be comfy sofas where customers could sit and browse. Customers who sat too long without buying anything would be swallowed up by special jaws in the sofas, funnelled underground and spat out onto the street. On the way, their credit-cards would be charged £20.

What would make your bookshop different from all of the other ones?
I would try to keep a stock of good second-hand books, especially fine old novels now out of print. And they would be at affordable prices. Anyone who looked shabby, but picked up interesting novels, would be given an automatic discount.

What sections would you have in your bookshop? And what sections would you ditch?
It would be all-inclusive fiction. No non-fiction, coffee-table books or celeb bios. Just novels from Don Quixote onward.

Every bookshop needs a display table. Which books would you have on your display table? Why?
I would display whatever I was reading at the time, as well as all the books on my to-read list. That way, I would have lots to talk about with customers.

If you could run only one author event who would you have? You can pick a living or dead writer. What sort of event would they run?
I would get Kazuo Ishiguro, our wonderful Nobel prize winner, to come and talk about his novels, which are among my very favourites. And we would serve sushi and green tea.

A customer comes up to your till with a copy of your novel and asks you to give them a reason on why they should buy it. What would you say?
I would give it to them for free. And then face my indignant wife.

What sort of cake would you offer when launching your book in your bookshop?
I envisage a huge wedding-cake sort of thing, with ten tiers, and hundreds of little marzipan figurines of famous authors on each level. The inside would be a rich fruit cake, and there would be rainbow icing. The authors would be exquisitely-modelled, but so delicious that lucky recipients wouldn't be able to stop from devouring them.

*

Marius Gabriel’s The Ocean Liner is published by Lake Union Publishing on 20th March. To find out more, click here.

Friday, 16 March 2018

January & February's Reading

I have been hibernating for the past 18 months of winter. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration but winter has been long and when the nights are longer then its harder to pull my bum to the desk and type - it's time for sleeping, reading, having candles burning on the bookshelves while curled up on the sofa.

Right, let's talk about the books I've read for the past two months before March finishes...

January

The Fault in our Stars - John Green
Hazel, in remission from cancer, she keeps herself on the fringes of her life, trying to not make a fuss, tucked away from being a teenager. She knows that the tumour-shrinking medication has been a miracle but she still thinks death is waiting for her. But then Augustus turns up at her cancer support group and her life is about to break out of the confines of her bedroom. This is a sweet, funny and also sad story about being alive and being in love.

Guest - S.J. Bradley
Guest follows Samhain, just as he is breaking into a hotel with his friend, to squat there to escape the horrendous squat they were previously living. This is what Samhain is good at - running away, escaping the truth, turning his back. This is the story of Samhain realising that only he can improve his life and also find out about his past. You can read my review here.

All Grown Up - Jani Attenburg
If you've liked Fleabag or Girls then you're going to like this book. Andrea, a New Yorker, navigates through sex, friendships, work and family. People around her think she's dissatisfied but she enjoys living off-script. This is a modern portrayal of being a woman.

February

Simon - Alex Masters
This was my work's first book for our book club. Alex Masters tells the story of his landlord, the mathematician, Simon Norton. Simon is an eccentric genius obsessed with maths and public transport. This is a marmite book - I enjoyed the learning about Simon's life but I didn't like the way the narrative was broken up with the author interrupting the story.

Before this is over - Amanda Hickie

Amanda Hickie’s novel captures the fears and hysteria of epidemics and the way people slowly unravel in times of crisis. You can read my review here.

Everything I know about love - Dolly Alderton
This collection of essays explore growing up, falling in love, getting dumped, drinking, and ultimately the love of female friendships. This is a great comfort read.

Here we are now - Jasmine Warga
This is a coming of age novel where Taliah discovers her father and a whole new family. This is a story of family, friendship and music. I'll be writing a review soon for this book!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Book Review: Before this is Over


Before This Is Over

By Amanda Hickie
Published by Headline
Available in paperback and ebook

Amanda Hickie’s novel, Before this is Over, captures the fears and hysteria of epidemics and the way people slowly unravel in times of crisis.

Hannah lives a normal life with her husband and two sons, living in the suburbs in Australia. They go to work, they go to school, they own a cat and enjoy watching TV together except that there’s a pantry in their hallway that Hannah is obsessed with.

The news is full of a epidemic in far off places with a death toll increasing with every bulletin. Stockpiling. Stockpiling. Obsessed with germs. But Hannah is a fighter, having survived cancer. There is no way she’s going to lose her family to a simple bug.

The epidemic is getting closer - the city is on lockdown. Hannah lockdowns her family, pulling her children from the school, making her husband work from home, ordering their groceries online, shutting off from the world around them. Counting through their rations, obsessing with news bulletins, keeping the real world at arm's length.

The virus, Manba, begins as a cough, progressing until its terminal. There is no cure, no understanding. Cases rapidly spread through countries. Hickie captures the hysteria and panic in sharp detail as it plays out in the background of this novel. Hickie explores the way people react and behave when put under extreme conditions - losing power, low food supplies. Hannah and her family face a moral dilemma - do they stretch their supplies to feed their elderly neighbour and the little girl from next door.

Hickie builds up the tense with the family, stranded in their own home, estranged from the people who live next door, from the wider community. Their lives and relationships slowly unravel, paranoia spreading quicker than the virus.

The feeling of claustrophobia makes this a tense read - most of the book is located in a small house crammed with Hannah’s family and also the children that come to stay. There is a sense of unease. It doesn’t descend into Lord of the Flies territory but the characters do slowly unravel and lose a sense of self.

Before this is Over isn’t a book with huge plot movement but more about characters and their reactions. This would make a great buy for any of your friends that don’t like travelling on the underground during the winter because of the fear of catching a virus.

Before this is Over is available from your favourite bookshop.


I was kindly sent a copy via the publisher.