Title: The Reading Cure – How Books Restored My Appetite

Author: Laura Freeman

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: W & N

The Blurb

At the age of fourteen, Laura Freeman was diagnosed with anorexia. But even when recovery seemed impossible, the one appetite she never lost was her love of reading. Slowly, book by book, Laura re-discovered how to enjoy food – and life – through literature.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I am fully aware of the restorative power of good books. I once spent nearly six months bed bound and reading my way through my bookshelf. At the time of reading The Reading Cure I am on a 12 week Coronavirus lockdown and I am consuming books at a rapid pace. So whenever I see books that extol the healing power of reading I will always be drawn to them.

What I found with The Reading Cure is a memoir that his heartbreakingly beautiful and a writer – Laura Freeman – who talks about books with such passion that I count help but feel compelled to read more about her.  If I am honest, I didn’t know who Laura Freeman was before reading her book but what I found was a vulnerable girl who was fighting a daily battle but also a girl that was winning. It may not seem that she has massive scream from the roof top victories but the victories that she had were very uplifting to read about.

After reading The Reading Cure I know I will be paying a lot more attention to the food featured in books.

The Reading Cure – How Books Restored My Appetite by Laura Freeman is available now.

For more information regarding W & N Books (@wnbooks) please visit www.weidenfeldandnicolson.co.uk.

Title: Q

Author: Christina Dalcher

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: HQ

The Blurb

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s new elite schools. Her daughters are exactly like her: beautiful, ambitious, and perfect. A good thing, since the recent mandate that’s swept the country is all about perfection.

Now everyone must undergo routine tests for their quotient, Q, and any children who don’t measure up are placed into new government schools. Instead, teachers can focus on the gifted.

Elena tells herself it’s not about eugenics, not really, but when one of her daughters scores lower than expected and is taken away, she intentionally fails her own test to go with her.

But what Elena discovers is far more terrifying than she ever imagined…

The Review

I recently read Vox by Christina Dalcher and was suitably horrified by the world that she created in that story so I was eager to see what else she could do and boy was I impressed.

Q is a dystopian story that managed to scare me senseless. Dalcher’s take on society and eugenics was genuinely terrifying. I think more so because it has happened before and because in the society in which we live I can very easily see happening again if we aren’t careful.

Elena’s story of a mother’s love is at the heart of Q and makes you ache with what she is going through. You love and loathe characters with such ferocity and I think, in Elena’s husband Malcolm, Dalcher has created a villain that I hate nearly as much as I hate Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter.

I think that this book hit home for me because I work in a school and ranking systems are used. Not in the sinister way that are featured in Q but it is something that I am used to seeing. Who is to say that this dystopian ideal is not to be put in place in the future?

Q by Christina Dalcher is available now.

For more information regarding HQ (@HQstories) please visit www.hqstories.co.uk.

Title: Last Lesson

Author: James Goodhand

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House

The Blurb

Last year, Ollie Morcombe was a star pupil, popular and a gifted musician.

Then, after the accident, everything changed. Now he’s an outcast, a prime target of the school bullies who have made his life a living hell.

Today – the last day of the school year – he’s brought those bullies a gift. A homemade pipe bomb.

What has driven a model student to plan an unspeakable revenge? And with the clock ticking down to home time, what can anybody do to stop him?

The Review

Last Lesson focuses on Ollie who has been through some massive change in the past 12 months and they have had a profound effect on him and how he is handling life. For Ollie, he can only see one option. To get revenge on the people that have been making his life hell. He plans to kill them all in their last lesson of high school.

What a complex topic wrapped in a really readable novel. James Goodhand has looked at many complicated issues within his novel Last Lesson. He looks at the hierarchy within the school system, he looks at grief and he looks at mental health.

I think what Goodhand has done well with Last Lesson is to look at the complexities of mental health and its correlation with extremism. He has handled it sensitively and without pushing blame or agenda other than trying to help you spot the signs.

It seems strange to say I enjoyed this novel because I shouldn’t have enjoyed a novel which has such a sad message but it is hard not to like it. Goodhand is a great writer who engages you in the story and really makes you care for the characters. It will be interesting to see what he writes next.

Last Lesson by James Goodhand is available now.

For more information regarding James Goodhand (@goodhand_james) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: A Good Neighbourhood

Author: Therese Anne Fowler

Pages: 311 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

In Oak Knoll, a tight-knit North Carolina neighbourhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door – an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenage daughter. With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds over an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard. But as they fight, they fail to notice that there is a romance blossoming between their two teenagers. A romance that will challenge the carefully constructed concepts of class and race in this small community. A romance that might cause everything to shatter…

The Review

A Good Neighbourhood is a bold novel about disguised racism in a small town in North Carolina.

It centres on two neighbouring families: The Aston Holt’s – Valerie and her son Xavier and The Whitman’s – local businessman Brad, his wife Julia and their two daughters. Xavier and eldest daughter Juniper have started to have feelings for each other but by embarking on a relationship they are crossing the divide of class, politics and race.

Fowler has taken a risk with this A Good Neighbourhood. Often authors are criticised for writing outside of the boundaries of ‘what they know’ – Fowler, as a white woman –  cannot fully understand racism because racism is so internal and institutionalised therefore her writing cannot be ‘real’. However, to not write about racism is worse. It is almost to ignore it and disregard it as a topic because it doesn’t directly affect her. As you can see, writers are often in a no win situation.

I think Fowler handled the subject of racial division in a very sensitive manner. She shows just how internalised and institutionalised it can be and shows how much of a problem it is especially in specific states in America. We know it is a problem but when it is highlighted – by someone of whatever race – it is surely a good thing if it helps raise awareness and will hopefully – one day  insight change.

A Good Neighbourhood by Therese Anne Fowler is available now.

For more information regarding Therese Anne Fowler (@ThereseFowler) please visit www.thereseannefowler.com.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Super Chill – A Year of Living Anxiously

Author: Adam Ellis

Pages: 120 Pages

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

The Blurb

From former Buzzfeed illustrator Adam Ellis comes a collection of autobiographical comics that follows a year in the artist’s life.

Adam’s comics deal with weightier topics like seasonal affective disorder and struggles with self-esteem, while also touching on the silly and absurd—like his brief, but intense obsession with crystals. With a bright, positive outlook and a sense of humor, Super Chill tells a story that is both highly relatable and intensely personal.

The Review

Anxiety is such a personal thing. It is getting more and more media attention but there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the subject. Adam Ellis’ book Super Chill shows how anxiety affects him. What is brilliant about this small collection of cartons is that it helps you see visual representations of how anxiety and mental health and alls you to not only empathise with a personas situation but make you realise how you really aren’t alone in feeling the way you feel.

Ellis presents his anxiety in many ways. Sometimes it is all consuming and other times he focuses on how ridiculous it is. Overall, Super Chill is a sweet book that reminds us all that we are not alone.

Super Chill – A Year of Living Anxiously by Adam Ellis is available now.

For more information regarding Adam Ellis (@moby_dickhead) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Andrews McMeel Publishing (@andrewsmcmeel) please visit www.andrewsmcmeel.com.