Title: Rife – Twenty-One Stories from Britain’s Youth

Author: Nikesh Shukla (ed.)

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Unbound

The Blurb

Young people in this country are facing a chasm of doubt and instability. Mental health problems are widespread, university fees are rising, job opportunities are drying up, and the prospect of ever owning a home is increasingly out of reach. But this generation is noticeably absent from the opinion columns, comment pieces and news reports of the mainstream media.

From the creative minds behind Rife magazine comes this anthology of twenty passionate voices, all under the age of twenty-four, writing across a spectrum of topics that matter to them. It holds a mirror up to the experience of young people in the UK today, with essays on money, mental health, sex, gender, inequality, education, crime and the future.

Bracing, honest and set against what can often seem an apocalyptic backdrop, these stories are nevertheless full of ideas and solidarity to draw on through these uncertain times.

The Review

Rife is a collection of stories about the problems that Britain’s Youth face today. These stories and essays cover mental health, sexual abuse, financial problems among many more. The collection highlights the struggles and shows you how the knock on effect from the previous generation are so impactful today.

I won’t lie, I struggled with this collection. This is for two reasons. The first being that I tried to read it in one gulp and Rife isn’t really the kind of book you can do that in. It needs to act as a palate cleanser. Maybe a commute read. Secondly, I felt that it was a little bit southern-centric. There were a few stories telling how northerners struggle but the majority featured writers living in the south and without trying to create division there is a divide between the north/south experience. However, Rife is a gritty, engaging read and the essays in it shouldn’t be dismissed.

Rife – Twenty-One Stories from Britain’s Youth by Nikesh Shukla is available now.

For more information regarding Nikesh Shukla (@nikeshshukla) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Unbound (@unbounders) please visit www.unbound.com.

Title: Out of Love

Author: Hazel Hayes

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Unbound

The Blurb

A novel for anyone who has loved and lost, and lived to tell the tale.

As a young woman packs up her ex-boyfriend’s belongings and prepares to see him one last time, she wonders where it all went wrong, and whether it was ever right to begin with. Burdened with a broken heart, she asks herself the age-old question . . . is love really worth it?

Out of Love is a bittersweet romance told in reverse. Beginning at the end of a relationship, each chapter takes us further back in time, weaving together an already unravelled tapestry, from tragic break-up to magical first kiss. In this dazzling debut Hazel Hayes performs a post-mortem on love, tenderly but unapologetically exploring every angle, from the heights of joy to the depths of grief, and all the madness and mundanity in between. This is a modern story with the heart of a classic: truthful, tragic and ultimately full of hope.

The Review

When a book has floored me, like truly floored me I usually start my reviews with ‘Every so often a book comes along…’ and I was tempted to start this review the same way but Out of Love by Hazel Hayes needs much much more. It has been nearly 24 hours since I finished reading it and I am still sitting in a state of shock. A post book malaise. A ‘where do I go from here’ness. It was just that bloody good.

It is a relationship book which is the kind of story I like driven by a fantastically flawed protagonist. The story of Lena and Theo is their relationship in reverse. Now, I’m generally a purist when it comes to stories. I like a beginning, a middle and an end and when writers deviate from this or deviate from grammar rules I get very stressed out. However, I loved the narrative choice of Out of Love. It is told in reverse and little nuggets of information is scattered throughout that become relevant earlier on which is in later chapters. Sound confusing? It should be but it just isn’t. Holmes’s magnificent writing makes it work. I am genuinely so very impressed with it.

It is also so very enjoyable when a story opens up new things for you, it could be a reference to another book or music. You get that with Out of Love. It is also one of those books that has those rare ‘profound-drop your-book-and-stare-at-the-wall moments littered throughout. I just loved it.

I can honestly say that Out of Love is going to be one of my books of the year. It will be going on my for-keeps shelf and I am pretty sure it will make its way into the hands of my friends for birthdays and Christmas.

God, I just bloody loved it!

Out of Love by Hazel Hayes is available now.

For more information regarding Hazel Hayes (@TheHazelHayes) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Unbound (@Unbounders) please visit www.unbound.com.

Title: Johnny Ruin

Author: Dan Dalton

Pages: 185 Pages

Publisher: Unbound

The Blurb

Depression can be hell.

Heartbroken and lonely, the narrator has made an attempt on his own life. Whether he meant to or not he can’t say. But now he’s stuck in his own head, and time is running out.

To save himself, he embarks on a journey across an imagined America, one haunted by his doomed relationship and the memory of a road trip that ended in tragedy.

Help arrives in the guise of Jon Bon Jovi, rock star and childhood hero. An unlikely spirit guide, perhaps, but he’s going to give it a shot…

The Review

Okay, I will admit Johnny Ruin by Dan Dalton confused me. It was in the best possible way. I mean how many books that discuss mental health use a mystical figure of Jon Bon Jovi as a spirit guide? Not many, I can tell you.

The story is about a man struggling to deal with his mental health – this is at its very base level but what is developed throughout the narrative is that our protagonist looks at the things that have happened in his life that have been catalysts to his depression or t the things that have led to his depression. It looks at how mental health problems are not quick fixes, they are constant and rolling and you will have good times and bad times. It looks at how the pit of despair can be so vast that you can only see the darkness and not the light at the end of the tunnel.

Chock full of metaphor and allegory, Johnny Ruin is a great short read for anyone who is able to suspend their disbelief. If you struggle with that then Johnny Ruin may not be for you. If, however, you wish to get a more in-depth look at depression then this may give you a small insight into what it is like for one person. 

Johnny Ruin by Dan Dalton is available now.

For more information regarding Dan Dalton (@wordsbydan) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Unbound (@Unbounders) please visit www.unbound.com.

Title: Pure

Author: Rose Cartwright

Pages: 288 Pages

Publishers: Unbound

The Blurb

Rose Cartwright has OCD, but not as you know it. Pure is the true story of her ten-year struggle with Pure O , a little-known form of the condition, which causes her to experience intrusive sexual thoughts of shocking intensity. It is a brave and frequently hilarious account of a woman who refused to give up, despite being undermined at every turn by her obsessions and enduring years of misdiagnosis and failed therapies.

Eventually, the love of family and friends, and Rose s own courage and sense of humour prevailed, inspiring this deeply felt and beautifully written memoir. At its core is a lesson for all of us: when it comes to being happy with who we are, there are no neat conclusions.


The Review

Pure is a fascinating narrative non-fiction about one girls struggle with OCD.

It is a truly eye-opening story that has Rose Cartwright exposing herself and her insecurities with the written word. You really get the feeling that Cartwright has bled out on the page as she relives her experiences.

If I had to sum up Pure in one word it would be brave. I cannot imagine what Rose Cartwright has been through but I am honoured that I got to experience it vicariously through Pure.

Pure by Rose Cartwright is available now.

For more information regarding Rose Cartwright (@RoseCartwright_) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Unbound (@Unbounders) please visit www.unbound.com/books.

Title: Others – Writers on the Power of Words to Help us See Beyond Ourselves

Author: Charles Fernyhough

Pages: 272 Pages

Publisher: Unbound

The Blurb

It doesn’t take much familiarity with the news to see that the world has become a more hate-filled place. In Others, a group of writers explore the power of words to help us to see the world as others see it, and to reveal some of the strangeness of our own selves.

Through stories, poems, memoirs and essays, we look at otherness in a variety of its forms, from the dividing lines of politics and the anonymising forces of city life, through the disputed identities of disability, gender and neurodiversity, to the catastrophic imbalances of power that stands in the way of social equality. Whether the theme is a casual act of racism or an everyday interaction with someone whose experience seems impossible to imagine, the collection challenges us to recognise our own otherness to those we would set apart as different.

Contributors include: Leila Aboulela, Gillian Allnutt, Damian Barr, Noam Chomsky, Rishi Dastidar, Peter Ho Davies, Louise Doughty, Salena Godden, Colin Grant, Sam Guglani, Matt Haig, Aamer Hussein, Anjali Joseph, A. L. Kennedy, Joanne Limburg, Rachel Mann, Tiffany Murray, Sara Novic, Edward Platt, Alex Preston, Tom Shakespeare, Kamila Shamsie, Will Storr, Preti Taneja and Marina Warner.

The Review

Much like the recent release Common People by Unbound, Others is a collection of essays, short stories, and poems of what it is like to be ‘other’.

What I learned from reading this wonderful collection is that there are so many relatable ways to feel other and that by sharing these kind of stories is so important because it makes you feel less alone.

Please support Unbound publishers because they really do release great books and support brilliant undiscovered writers.

Others – Writers on the Power of Words to Help us See Beyond Ourselves by Charles Fernyhough is available now.

For more information regarding Charles Fernyhough (@cfernyhough) please visit www.charlesfernyhough.com.

For more information regarding Unbound (@Unbounders) please visit www.unbound.com/books.