The People We Were Before Book CoverThe Blurb

If war is madness, how can love survive?

Yugoslavia, summer 1979. A new village. A new life. But eight-year-old Miro knows the real reason why his family moved from the inland city of Knin to the sunkissed village of Ljeta on the Dalmatian Coast, a tragedy he tries desperately to forget.

The Ljeta years are happy ones, though, and when he marries his childhood sweetheart, and they have a baby daughter, it seems as though life is perfect. However, storm clouds are gathering above Yugoslavia.

War breaks out, and one split-second decision destroys the life Miro has managed to build. Driven by anger and grief, he flees to Dubrovnik, plunging himself into the hard-bitten world of international war reporters.

There begins a journey that will take him ever deeper into danger: from Dubrovnik, to Sarajevo, to the worst atrocities of war-torn Bosnia, Miro realises that even if he survives, there can be no way back to his earlier life. The war will change him, and everyone he loves, forever.

The Review

Wow. What can I say about The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe? My mind has been blown apart by this novel.

Ok, let’s start here:

I was born in 1983. I was raised in Liverpool and I have spent my years trying to consume as much information and knowledge as I could. Yet I knew nothing about the war in Kosovo. Sure I had heard about it on the news but I was too little to comprehend what was happening. This book, The People We Were Before, has changed that somewhat. I’m shocked at my ignorance of a genocide that took place in my lifetime and I knew absolutely nothing about it. Nothing.

The People We Were Before could be described in many ways: a family saga, a romance, a thriller, historical fiction, war story. It cannot be pigeonholed into just one category.

Thorpe’s story focuses on Miro, a young boy whose family has just moved to the Dalmatian Coast with his family amidst the stirrings of political strife. The story develops along with Miro’s change from boy into man; the trials and tribulations that grown up life bring shakes Miro’s world to the very core and his life mirrors the chaos of the warzone that is developing in Dubrovnik.

Thorpe’s character development is tremendous. I truly felt the familial ties between Miro and his brother Goran, I enjoyed the friendships that Miro developed and I fell hopelessly for his love story with Dina. I became part of the story with them. When an author can so seamlessly transport me to another world I know that I am reading something pretty special.

Whilst normally I am a character driven reader it was the descriptions of the abject horrors of war that really packed a punch with me. The panic and the mayhem that Thorpe portrays in The People We Were Before is astounding. My heart was beating wildly throughout most of the book as I felt true panic for Miro and co.

The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe is the most ambitious debut I have read in a long time and fortunately for Thorpe she delivers.

The People We Were Before by Annabelle Thorpe is available now.

5 Stars

The People We Were Before Tour Poster

27 Amy WinehouseTitle: 27 Amy Winehouse (The 27 Club Series Book 1)

Author: Chris Salewicz

Pages: 38 Pages

The Blurb

In 27: Amy Winehouse, the first in a series of exclusive ebooks, acclaimed music writer Chris Salewicz celebrates the life of one of the most talented performers of recent times. In an intimate mini-biography, he explores Amy’s artistic influences and inspirations, her ability to capture the imagination and her appetite for self-destruction. Salewicz provides a startling portrayal of the perils of genius and the true cost of fame. Must the ferociously good die young?

The Review

Chris Salewicz 27 series examines the lives of the talented musicians who all tragically ended up as members of the “27 Club” – a club so named because all of the members died when they were 27. Amy Winehouse is one such member.

Salewicz examines the highlights and pitfalls of Amy Winehouse’s life and all the eventualities that led to her death. He started his book talking about her death and poses the thought that admittedly I had thought at the time. Weren’t we all expecting this death to happen much sooner? Winehouse lived her life on a Molotov cocktail of drink, drugs and dodgy decisions. Yet one thing no one can deny is that she did things of her own volition. As much as we would all love to blame other people – her dad for being controlling, Blake for introducing her to drugs, the paparazzi for hounding her – essentially, like us all, Winehouse had free will and she chose the things that led to her demise.

I was – no, I still am – a fan of Amy Winehouse. Her albums – few that they were – drip with raw emotion, her pain and her truth; they are the verisimilitude of her life. Seeing her live was something else; you never knew which Amy you were going to get. I was lucky enough to see her three times. On one of those occasions she was majestic. The other two are best not spoken of.

27: Amy Winehouse is a fascinating read. It is not judgemental, it tells you what happened, it gives you dates and facts and figures. I think my one criticism is that it can come across as a bit cold. Others have written about this same topic and have managed to be a bit warmer. Other than this personal preference, I thoroughly recommend this book as a quick read.

27 Amy Winehouse (The 27 Club Series Book 1) by Chris Salewicz is available now as are the other five books in the series.

35 Stars

27 Amy WinehouseTitle: 27 Amy Winehouse (The 27 Club Series Book 1)

Author: Chris Salewicz

Pages: 38 Pages

The Blurb

In 27: Amy Winehouse, the first in a series of exclusive ebooks, acclaimed music writer Chris Salewicz celebrates the life of one of the most talented performers of recent times. In an intimate mini-biography, he explores Amy’s artistic influences and inspirations, her ability to capture the imagination and her appetite for self-destruction. Salewicz provides a startling portrayal of the perils of genius and the true cost of fame. Must the ferociously good die young?

The Review

Chris Salewicz 27 series examines the lives of the talented musicians who all tragically ended up as members of the “27 Club” – a club so named because all of the members died when they were 27. Amy Winehouse is one such member.

Salewicz examines the highlights and pitfalls of Amy Winehouse’s life and all the eventualities that led to her death. He started his book talking about her death and poses the thought that admittedly I had thought at the time. Weren’t we all expecting this death to happen much sooner? Winehouse lived her life on a Molotov cocktail of drink, drugs and dodgy decisions. Yet one thing no one can deny is that she did things of her own volition. As much as we would all love to blame other people – her dad for being controlling, Blake for introducing her to drugs, the paparazzi for hounding her – essentially, like us all, Winehouse had free will and she chose the things that led to her demise.

I was – no, I still am – a fan of Amy Winehouse. Her albums – few that they were – drip with raw emotion, her pain and her truth; they are the verisimilitude of her life. Seeing her live was something else; you never knew which Amy you were going to get. I was lucky enough to see her three times. On one of those occasions she was majestic. The other two are best not spoken of.

27: Amy Winehouse is a fascinating read. It is not judgemental, it tells you what happened, it gives you dates and facts and figures. I think my one criticism is that it can come across as a bit cold. Others have written about this same topic and have managed to be a bit warmer. Other than this personal preference, I thoroughly recommend this book as a quick read.

27 Amy Winehouse (The 27 Club Series Book 1) by Chris Salewicz is available now as are the other five books in the series.

35 Stars

The Blurb

It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident.

One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there.

She doesn’t know why she’s in pain.

But everyone else does. Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night.

But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…

The Review

After reading Louise O’Neill’s debut – Only Ever Yours – last year, I was intrigued to see what else she had to offer. In my opinion, O’Neill’s follow up novel, Asking For It, was much more impressive.

Based on any number of real life stories, the narrative follows Emma – a pretty, popular, slightly nasty girl. She knows that she is good looking and she loves the attention that this affords her. However, one night at a party where she is drunk and has taken drugs Emma is sexually attacked.

But if she doesn’t remember it then it isn’t really a crime…is it?

This is the problem that many people who are attacked face. O’Neill is highlighting the injustices in society by which a girl has to assume a paragon of virtue to be believed if she is ever attacked. God forbid a person dresses provocatively or isn’t virginal. Emma isn’t but that doesn’t mean that she deserves to be attacked. Nor does she deserve the backlash from those who don’t believe her.

O’Neill puts it best in Asking For It when she writes:

“They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.”

This is the attitude that we have in society and it is wrong. The victim keeps on being the victim long after the rape has taken place.

This is an important book. I really hope that young adults, male and female get the chance to read it and that it isn’t censored by adults. People need to read Asking For It.

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill is available now.

Follow Louise O’Neill (@Oneilllo) on Twitter.

Asking For It Louise ONeill