Little Bandaged Days By Kyra Wilder – A Review

Publisher: Picador

Publication Date: 23rd January 2020

When I read the blurb for Little Bandaged Days by Kyra Wilder I had a very distinct feeling that this book would be very much a book for me. I have mentioned this before in previous reviews and I still have plans to write a whole post about the subject, but I love books which centre around a struggling mother.

I think this may be because I struggled myself when I had my two children and did not take easily to early motherhood. Now that my children are way past the baby and toddler years I find myself drawn to books which deal with Post Natal Depression and Post Natal Psychosis. Mainly because I’m safely out of those dark and stormy parental waters. I like to indulge myself in the ‘see, not everyone is a perfect mother’ frame of mind.

In Little Bandaged Days we are essentially watching one woman’s decent into extreme mental illness at the expense of the welfare and safety of her children.

Erika is a thirtysomething mother of two young children, E who is 4 and B who is a baby. She has recently moved to Geneva with her husband M in order for him to take up a new position of employment. He is often working long hours and frequently has to go away for long periods of time, leaving Erika alone in their rented apartment looking after their son and daughter.

Erika struggles from the outset with the Swiss way of life, she endeavours to keep the children quiet and lead a normal, happy family life. She cannot speak much French and so is isolated and spends most of her time cloistered away in the apartment with the children, closing the storm shutters and blocking out the world.

In the oppressive August heat, Erika builds fantasy worlds for her and her daughter to act out, she feels it must surely be ok to keep the children indoors all day if she can make a game out of it. So she invents imaginary worlds, tropical jungles in which her and E are intrepid explorers or a submarine where they travel underneath a sea full of interesting creatures. E initially laps up all this attention from her mother. What child doesn’t love inhabiting an imaginary world?

When Erika does take the children out it is most likely to run (literally) to the shop to buy essentials or to the park where they set up camp on a blanket near the water pump and play in the sand. Whilst at the park Erika often sees a woman with her own two young children who she dubs ‘Nell’ in her head. This woman seems to have her life together and looks from the outside, relaxed and happy. Erika, for her part tries hard to emulate an external picture of contentment with her little family.

When M deigns to come home after working late yet again, or returning from a business trip, Erika tries desperately to make sure everything is perfect, dinner made, his suits dry cleaned and the children quiet and content. This is not always the case and Erika is often left awaiting M’s return until way past the children’s bedtimes and long after the meal she has lovingly prepared has been spoiled.

As time goes on and Erika becomes more and more sleep deprived as a result of a demanding baby B breastfeeding most of the night, she begins to believe that there is something in the apartment. She hears noises and sees eyes in the dark, utterly convinced that there is something or someone out to harm her and her children.

As a result she secludes them all away with even more fervour. Keeping the shutters constantly pulled down and the windows locked firmly despite the searing summer heat.

What we then witness as a reader is a slow and sure descent into what can only be described as madness.

What I loved about this book was the fact that it is told in the first person perspective, so you really feel like you are trapped inside Erika’s head and spiralling down with her. You are never quite sure what is real and what is imagined which keeps you on the backfoot. I found myself thinking about what the children must be seeing and experiencing and whether at first E at least, thinks it’s all a huge fun game. Towards the end of the book there are distinct signs of how E’s feelings have changed towards her mother which only served to make you wonder what she has endured in her short life.

There is no doubt that Erika strives to be the best mother she can be. She wants the picture perfect family life. The husband who adores her and the two perfect children. Not once does she raise her voice at the children. She is infinitely patient and allows E to make mistakes without accusations or recriminations as she believes any good mother should.

Throughout the whole story the behaviour of M is called into question. There are moments where he questions the state of the apartment on his return from a trip. Or drops hints about Erika not going out with the children often enough. And yet as an outside observer I was willing him to wake up and notice just how much his wife was struggling to the detriment to his children. He really needs to open his eyes and take responsibility for that is happening to his family.

‘I need you, I need you here to help me, I said. I need you here with me in this apartment, I need you here at night. But he couldn’t hear me. He couldn’t hear me because I didn’t want him to hear me and I was saying all that into the empty coffee cup, muttering. M wasn’t speaking quietly, his words swarmed up the walls and over me, charging, and taking charge. Black ink and capital letters. Sorry, what’s that? he said, but his phone rang and he had to go….’

Erika is such a fascinating character. We know very little about her past before she had her children. Occasionally she will reminisce about an event in her early relationship with M but we get very little insight into their marriage and who they are as people. We are essentially making judgements about them through Erika’s illness and she is a hugely unreliable narrator.

The writing is at times sparse but also lyrical without being overly flowered up. I got a real Leila Slimani vibe which is a huge positive for me. Some of the sentences really resonated with me and I found myself having to go back and re-read sections and fold down pages so that I could go back to them again if I wanted to.

‘Sometimes it seemed like being a good mother, the best, meant mostly covering yourself over in a layer of smiling and smiling….’

The pacing was also perfect, from an almost dreamlike quality at the outset where there are certain small indicators that all is not as it seems, with a mounting sense of unease and dread taking us to an inevitable point where everything falls apart.

I’m trying to think whether I connected so strongly with this book because of the motherhood links. But if I’m honest I feel that whilst I don’t think this book would be everyone’s cup of tea, a huge majority of people would be able to identify with some element of it. It is such a compelling character study in its own without the motherhood aspect.

I am hugely surprised and excited to learn that this is Kyra Wilder’s debut novel. It feels so sure and strong that I find it difficult to wrap my head around the fact that this is a debut. This makes me massively excited about what she will products in the future. Whatever it is I AM THERE FOR IT!

I cannot recommend this brilliant book enough.

Thank you so much to Alice Dewing and Picador for my review copy. I will certainly be giving it a slot on my forever shelf.

See you all soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx


Zero By Gine Cornelia Pedersen – A Review

I was recently approached by Duncan Lewis from Nordisk Books an independent publisher that specialises in translated literary fiction from the Nordic countries and asked if I wanted a copy of their new publication Inlands by Elin Willows. They also very generously asked if I would like a look at any of their other titles.  I had a peruse and one of the books I was drawn to was Zero by Gine Cornelia Pedersen (and not just for its beautiful cover which is stunning).

When the parcel of books arrived I had a flick through them all and was instantly intrigued by Zero due to the fact that it’s written to look visually almost like poetry.  I read a few random pages and knew that I would have to get stuck in! I treated myself to a bath and this book, which I devoured in one sitting.

We are told the first person perspective story of one (unnamed) woman’s descent into mental illness.  The book opens from when the woman is a 10 year old girl and we gain a little insight into her slightly dark thoughts.  Some of the things she says and does could be explained away as childish musings or simply testing boundaries, however it quickly becomes apparent as we travel through her formative teenage years, that this young girl is not well at all.

She is quite willfully destructive both physically and emotionally.  She sinks into a myriad of toxic habits as her illness takes hold of her. She drinks too much, she abuses drugs, she purposefully puts herself in highly dangerous situations and does not appear to have any fear of the consequences, infact having what she herself considers a death wish.  She has a series of high risk sexual encounters in the main just to be able to feel something.  She falls in and out of love with such ease, bowling along from one ill advised relationship to the next.

She is eventually hospitalised in a secure mental health unit where she is given injections of a drug to ease the symptoms of her paranoid schizophrenia.  She is not always a willing patient and often fights against the medical staff and their need to medicate her. She has a burgeoning desire to become an actress but feels that not only is she trapped by her manic mental illness she is also stultified by the medication which serves in her eyes to only subdue her artistic feelings and dull down her emotions until she almost feels nothing.

This woman is somewhat of an unreliable narrator given her mental illness. We are granted access to her troubled mind when she is having manic episodes, hearing voices, behaving recklessly. But also we are there with her during her slightly more lucid times where we gain brief snatches of the woman she could potentially be.

What broke my heart a little was the fact that we are drip fed fleeting glimpses of how difficult her illness is on her mother and how much her mother loves and worries about her. I cannot begin to imagine how upsetting it must be to see your child in so much pain and not be able to reach out and help them or even just protect them from themselves.

The end few chapters race along in a manic and disorganised way and I wasn’t entirely sure of what was fact and what was fiction. I think this worked perfectly to reflect the frantic disordered thoughts of our protagonist.

This book is by no means an easy read in terms subject matter, however it is cleverly paced and constructed in such a way that you feel you are right there in this poor woman’s troubled mind.

It is a very eye opening read and one that I would thoroughly recommend.

Thank you as always to the publisher Nordisk and Duncan Lewis for sending me my copy to review.

See you all soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xx

Haven’t They Grown By Sophie Hannah – A Review

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Publication Date: 23rd January 2020

Quite a few years ago I discovered Sophie Hannah and her wonderful twisty turny crime thrillers based around a police force in the Culver Valley. The protagonist Simon Waterhouse was such a fascinating character and despite not being a huge police procedural fan I absolutely loved these books. Sophie Hannah has an innate skill of making the unbelievable and inconceivable a reality. In each of her previous books I had absolutely no clue as to what had happened until the big reveal where all the tiny, (minuscule even!) clues were unravelled and exposed.

I’ve also read Sophie Hannah’s stand-alone novel The Orphan Choir which being a spooky little tale was a break away from the crime she writes so well but equally enthralling.

In Haven’t They Grown Sophie has returned to what she is the absolute QUEEN of and that is battering my head! In a good way! In a FANTASTIC way in fact!

When I read the blurb for this book I was so excited! I couldn’t wrap my head around the words I was reading and my mind was blown. I even read the blurb out to numerous people and got their imaginative juices flowing as well! I almost didn’t want to pick it up I wanted to spend a little longer trying to figure out what on earth was going to happen without even having read a single word.

When I eventually did pick it up I was very apprehensive as I wanted it to be as brilliant as I thought it was going to be and luckily in this case it was!

Haven’t They Grown tells the story of Beth, our protagonist. Beth has had a friendship with Flora break down some 12 years before the start of this story. We are not party to why this relationship dissolved but we are aware that Beth and Flora have not spoken in some time. One day, when Beth is dropping one of her children off somewhere she happens to ‘accidentally’ drive by the house she was last aware of Flora living with her husband Lewis and two children Emily and Thomas.

Beth stays long enough to see a woman arrive home. The woman turns out to be Flora, and she’s not alone, she has two children with her who appear to be Emily and Thomas. Beth’s suspicions are confirmed when she hears Flora call the children by the same names.

Emily and Thomas have not changed since Beth last laid eyes on them. But how can this be when she last saw them twelve years ago?!

What follows on from here is Beth’s mission to find out exactly what’s been happening in Flora and Lewis’s family in the long period that she hasn’t seen them and just how on earth the children haven’t changed in twelve years! What starts out as an odd tale to recount to her family, swiftly gathers speed and becomes all consuming for Beth, sometimes at the cost of her relationship with her husband Dom.

I really don’t want to say any more plot wise because I really do think the magic of this book needs to be experienced first hand and should not be spoiled in any way for new readers.

What I loved about this book was not only the gripping premise but the well rounded, fully formed characters. I have a particular adoration for Beth’s teenage daughter Zannah. Now I know that I’m not usually a fan of teenage female characters BUT Zannah is a force of nature and the antithesis of a normal grumpy, angst ridden, moody ass teen. She is almost Beth’s sidekick and is hellbent on helping her mother unravel the mystery of Thomas and Emily. She is wholeheartedly on her mother’s side and wants to prove her right. She is a lovely breath of fresh air.

This book drew me in completely and with its short and snappy chapters it really does fly along. As much as it’s a huge clichè, I really did want to read ‘just one more chapter’ each time.

Sophie Hannah just has a magical way of writing complex yet hugely readable thrillers/mysteries with massively relatable characters. In Haven’t They Grown, Sophie has crafted a wonderfully intricate story which is an absolute gem. I genuinely didn’t have a clue what on earth was going on and really enjoyed the process of trying to piece together the various tiny clues, it never became frustrating and I found myself utterly absorbed.

I will always be a Sophie Hannah fan and I will remain hugely expectant for anything else she creates in the future.  Her books are the some of my most recommended and will continue to be.

This book is an absolute joy and a brilliant reading experience that I would thoroughly recommend!

Thank you to Jenny Platt for having me along on the blog tour. Please do check out what all the others bloggers are saying.

See you all soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xx

My Most Anticipated Books Of 2020

Happy New Year everyone! 2020 is shaping up to be a stellar year publishing wise (I think we say that every year don’t we!) there are SO MANY great books heading our way this year and even as I write this post, more and more fantastic looking books are being brought to my attention.

This post will be a long one for two reasons. Firstly there are quite a few books I want to mention and secondly I will be including the blurb for each book. I’m not usually big on including blurbs on my posts but in cases like this where I haven’t actually read the book yet it is a necessity, so bear with!

I have a mix of fiction, non-fiction and short stories (as always) but the majority are fiction. I have also put them in publication month order. So without further ado, let’s crack on with the books!


Strange Hotel by Eimear McBride – Faber


At the mid-point of her life a woman enters an Avignon hotel room. She’s been here once before – but while the room hasn’t changed, she is a different person now.

Forever caught between check-in and check-out, she will go on to occupy other hotel rooms, from Prague to Oslo, Auckland to Austin, each as anonymous as the last, but bound by rules of her choosing. There, amid the detritus of her travels, the matchbooks, cigarettes, keys and room-service wine, she will negotiate with memory, with the men she sometimes meets, and with what it might mean to return home.

I have never read any Eimear McBride but I have heard great things about her writing. The premise of this one really intrigues me and I’m excited to give her a whirl.

The Foundling by Stacey Halls – Bonnier Books


London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, she is astonished when she is told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

I read Stacey Hall’s The Familiars in 2018 and really enjoyed it. I have a bit of a fascination with the whole idea of foundlings and I think this could be another great piece of historical fiction.



Coming Up For Air by Sarah Leipciger – Doubleday


On the banks of the River Seine in 1899, a young woman takes her final breath before plunging into the icy water. Although she does not know it, her decision will set in motion an astonishing chain of events. It will lead to 1950s Norway, where a grieving toy-maker is on the cusp of a transformative invention, all the way to present-day Canada where a journalist, battling a terrible disease, risks everything for one last chance to live.

Taking inspiration from a remarkable true story, Coming Up for Air is a bold, richly imagined novel about the transcendent power of storytelling and the immeasurable impact of every human life. The legacy of the woman at its heart touches the lives of us all today, and this book reveals just how.

 I must admit that I’m intrigued by the back story for this one. I do enjoy a multi time period narrative and I gave very high hopes for this one!

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell – Tinder Press


On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that one of the children will not survive the week.

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

I don’t think I need to say much about this one! I’ve seen it all over the socials and the excitement and buzz around this book is almost palpable!

The Recovery Of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel – Michael Joseph


Rose Gold Watts believed she was sick for eighteen years.

She thought she needed the feeding tube, the surgeries, the wheelchair . . .

Turns out her mother is a really good liar.

After five years in prison, Patty Watts is finally free. All she wants is to put old grievances behind her, reconcile with her daughter – and care for her new infant grandson.

When Rose Gold agrees to have Patty move in, it seems their relationship is truly on the mend.

But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty won’t rest until she has her daughter back under her thumb. Which is inconvenient because Rose Gold wants to be free of Patty.


Only one Watts woman will get her way.

Will it be Patty or Rose Gold? Mother or daughter?

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book based around the subject of Muchausen Syndrome by proxy (which I find fascinating!) add to this the dynamic of an unusual mother/daughter relationship and I’m there!


The Animals Of Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey – Mantle


Some secrets are unspoken. Others are unspeakable . . .

August 1939.

Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.

Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone – or something – is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.

As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumours of ghosts and curses?

A Manor House? Darkened corridors? Ghosts and curses? YES PLEASE. Enough said.


The Ninth Child by Sally Magnusson – Two Roads


Loch Katrine waterworks, 1856. A Highland wilderness fast becoming an industrial wasteland. No place for a lady.

Isabel Aird is aghast when her husband is appointed doctor to an extraordinary waterworks being built miles from the city. But Isabel, denied the motherhood role that is expected of her by a succession of miscarriages, finds unexpected consolations in a place where she can feel the presence of her unborn children and begin to work out what her life in Victorian society is for.

The hills echo with the gunpowder blasts of hundreds of navvies tunnelling day and night to bring clean water to diseased Glasgow thirty miles away – digging so deep that there are those who worry they are disturbing the land of faery itself. Here, just inside the Highland line, the membrane between the modern world and the ancient unseen places is very thin.

With new life quickening within her again, Isabel can only wait. But a darker presence has also emerged from the gunpowder smoke. And he is waiting too.

I do enjoy books that tell the story of a pregnant woman. Particularly one who has either struggled to get pregnant, stay pregnant struggle to cope after a baby is born. When you add a Fae element to this I am immediately interested!


She Clown And Other Stories by Hannah Vincent – Myriad Editions


These are stories told with a female gaze, showing women striving to be artists, employers, employees, daughters, mothers, sisters, friends, partners, wives and girlfriends. Characters are captured in recognisable moment of real life and in occasional flights of fancy. At the centre of each story is a woman engaged in an act of self-preservation.

In one story a young woman on the cusp of adulthood tries to express the horror and violence she perceives in the world around her, in another a teenage mother struggles to look after her child in the face of her obsession with the baby’s father. One character experiences the freedom of the workplace while another perceives its constraints. One discovers how far her career has pushed her out to the margins of family life while another contemplates retirement. In the title story a woman catches a whiff of what respect and reciprocal attraction feels like.

Women in these stories are exhilarated to discover the joy and surprise of other women’s company, they make bold sexual choices and go on night-time excursions. As grandmothers they give their grandchildren unsuitable presents. These women are at home and on holiday, at work and at play. They are young and they are old, fulfilled and frustrated, professional and amateur, educated and uneducated, knowing and unknowing. Their stories are witty, colourful tales of struggle and success, of yearning and learning.

If you’ve been around for a while you’ll know that one of my favourite books of all time is The Weaning by Hannah Vincent. When I saw she had a short story collection coming out I knew I had to have it! And have it I will!

Rest And Be Thankful by Emma Glass – Bloomsbury


Laura is a nurse in a paediatric unit. On long, quiet shifts, she and her colleagues, clad in their different shades of blue, care for sick babies, handling their exquisitely frangible bodies, carefully calibrating the mysterious machines that keep them alive.

Laura may be burned out. Her hands have been raw from washing as long as she can remember. When she sleeps, she dreams of water; when she wakes, she finds herself lying next to a man who doesn’t love her any more. And there is a strange figure dancing in the corner of her vision, always just beyond her reach.

This is a very interesting one because I didn’t really gel with Peach story wise but I knew Emma Glass could write. Does that make sense? Therefore I want yo give her second book a try and see whether I get on better with it.



Death In Her Hands by Otessa Moshfegh – Penguin


While on her daily walk with her dog in the nearby woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with stones. Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.

Shaky even on her best days, she is also alone, and new to this area, having moved here from her long-time home after the death of her husband, and now deeply alarmed. Her brooding about the note grows quickly into a full-blown obsession, as she explores multiple theories about who Magda was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape. But is there either a more innocent explanation for all this, or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home?

I discovered Ottessa Moshfegh towards the end of 2019 (I know, I know, VERY late to the party!) but I binge read her books after reading My Year Of Rest And Relaxation. I am very excited for this one!


The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi – Mantle


A Sin Eater’s duty is a necessary evil: she hears the final private confessions of the dying, eats their sins as a funeral rite, and so guarantees their souls access to heaven. It is always women who eat sins – since it was Eve who first ate the Forbidden Fruit – and every town has at least one, not that they are publicly acknowledged. Stained by the sins they are obliged to consume, the Sin Eater is shunned and silenced, doomed to live in exile at the edge of town.

Recently orphaned May Owens is just fourteen, and has never considered what it might be like to be so ostracized; she’s more concerned with where her next meal is coming from. When she’s arrested for stealing a loaf of bread, however, and subsequently sentenced to become a Sin Eater, finding food is suddenly the last of her worries.

It’s a devastating sentence, but May’s new invisibility opens new doors. And when first one then two of the Queen’s courtiers suddenly grow ill, May hears their deathbed confessions – and begins to investigate a terrible rumour that is only whispered of amid palace corridors.

This blurb really gets my juices flowing! I’d never heard of the concept of sin eaters before but since receiving a proof copy of this book I’ve done a fair bit of Googling! Which has only served to get my juices flowing even more!


What Have I Done? by Laura Dockrill – Square Peg 


Laura Dockrill had an idyllic pregnancy and couldn’t wait to meet her new baby. But as she went into labour things began to go wrong and Laura started to struggle. A traumatic birth, anxiety about the baby, sleep deprivation, a slow recovery – all these things piled up until Laura (like any new mum) felt overwhelmed.

As many as 8 out of 10 new mums struggle in the weeks after birth. In Laura’s case these feelings escalated scarily quickly into post-partum psychosis. She became paranoid and delusional and had to be institutionalised for a fortnight without her baby. Throughout this time she was haunted by a sense of: ‘What have I done?’, at first as she wondered if she could cope with her baby, and later because she was trying to grasp at reality as she slipped into nightmarish delusion.

Laura’s experience was devastating but this is a hopeful book. Not only has Laura slowly recovered she has come out the other side stronger and more assured about parenting on her own terms. Now she is determined to break the silence around post-natal mental health and with her story tell new parents: you are not alone.

I’ve mentioned lots of times that I enjoy reading books (be they fiction or non-fiction) which tell if struggling new mothers. I was once a struggling new mother myself and so can see myself a lot in these kinds of books. They are sometimes hard to read but I find them cathartic.

Blasted Things by Lesley Glaister – Sandstone Press


WW1 is over. As a nurse at the front, Clementine has found and lost love, but has settled for middle class marriage. Vincent had half his face blown off, and wants more than life offers now. Drawn together by their shared experiences at the Front, they have a compulsive relationship, magnetic and parasitic, played out with blackmail and ending in disaster for one of them.

I absolutely LOVE Lesley Glaister! I think she doesn’t get talked about it appreciated enough. She writes some absolute gems (Honour Thy Father being my all time favourite) and she makes the ordinary extraordinary in quite often a very dark way.


The Harpy by Megan Hunter – Picador


Lucy and Jake live in a house by a field where the sun burns like a ball of fire. Lucy works from home but devotes her life to the children, to their finely tuned routine, and to the house itself, which comforts her like an old, sly friend. But then a man calls one afternoon with a shattering message: his wife has been having an affair with Lucy’s husband, he wants her to know.

The revelation marks a turning point: Lucy and Jake decide to stay together, but in a special arrangement designed to even the score and save their marriage, she will hurt him three times. Jake will not know when the hurt is coming, nor what form it will take.

As the couple submit to a delicate game of crime and punishment, Lucy herself begins to change, surrendering to a transformation of both mind and body from which there is no return.

I have seen The Harpy being talked about on social media and I have only heard good things. Thats all I need. I just want to read it!

I Had A Wolf By The Ears by Laura Van Den Berg – Farrar Straus and Giroux


I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, Laura van den Berg’s first story collection since her acclaimed and prizewinning Isle of Youth, draws readers into a world of wholly original, sideways ghost stories that linger in the mouth and mind like rotten, fragrant fruit. Both timeless and urgent, these eleven stories confront misogyny, violence, and the impossible economics of America with van den Berg’s trademark spiky humor and surreal eye. Moving from the peculiarities of Florida to liminal spaces of travel in Mexico City, Sicily, and Spain, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears is uncannily attuned to our current moment, and to the thoughts we reveal to no one but ourselves.

In “Lizards,” a man mutes his wife’s anxieties by giving her a La Croix-like seltzer laced with sedatives. In the title story, a woman poses as her more successful sister during a botched Italian holiday, a choice that brings about strange and violent consequences, while in “Karolina,” a woman discovers her prickly ex-sister-in-law in the aftermath of an earthquake and is forced to face the truth about her violent brother.

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears presents a collection of women on the verge, trying to grasp what’s left of life: grieving, divorced, and hyperaware, searching, vulnerable, and unhinged, they exist in a world that deviates from our own only when you look too close. With remarkable control and transcendent talent, van den Berg dissolves, in the words of the narrator of “Slumberland,” “that border between magic and annihilation,” and further establishes herself as a defining fiction writer of our time.

I cannot take the credit for this one. The lovely Siobhain @thelitaddict_ gave me a nudge when she saw this one. It’s quite well known that I enjoy a short story collection! All I needed to see were the words ‘sideways ghost stories’…..I’m sold!



Sisters by Daisy Johnson – Jonathan Cape 


Something unspeakable has happened to sisters July and September.

Desperate for a fresh start, their mother Sheela moves them across the country to an old family house that has a troubled life of its own. Noises come from behind the walls. Lights flicker of their own accord. The dank basement, where July and September once made a blood promise to each other, is deeply disquieting.

In their new, unsettling surroundings, July finds that the fierce bond she’s always had with September is beginning to change in ways she cannot understand.

You all know that I adored Fen and Everything Under by Daisy Johnson. There was no way I was going to be anything other than beside myself with excitement for this beauty!


The Quickening by Rhiannon Ward – Trapeze


England, 1925. Louisa Drew lost her husband in the First World War and her six-year-old twin sons in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. Newly re-married to a war-traumatised husband and seven months pregnant, Louisa is asked by her employer to travel to Clewer Hall in Sussex where she is to photograph the contents of the house for auction.

She learns Clewer Hall was host to an infamous séance in 1896, and that the lady of the house has asked those who gathered back then to come together once more to recreate the evening. When a mysterious child appears on the grounds, Louisa finds herself compelled to investigate and becomes embroiled in the strange happenings of the house. Gradually, she unravels the long-held secrets of the inhabitants and what really happened thirty years before… and discovers her own fate is entwined with that of Clewer Hall’s.

A hall……..a seance. SIGN. ME. UP.



Famished by Anna Vaught – Influx Press


In this dark and toothsome collection, Anna Vaught enters a strange world of apocryphal feasts and disturbing banquets. Famished explores the perils of selfish sensuality and trifle while child rearing, phantom sweetshop owners, the revolting use of sherbet in occult rituals, homicide by seaside rock, and the perversion of Thai Tapas. Once, that is, you’ve been bled dry from fluted cups by pretty incorporeals and learned about consuming pride in the hungriest of stately homes. Famished: eighteen stories to whet your appetite and ruin your dinner.

Here I am again with the short story love! This time surrounding food and eating. My other loves! What’s not to like?!?

So there we have it! I hope some of these books will now be on your Bookish radar if they weren’t already.

Just re-reading all those blurbs has stoked up my excitement again!

I can barely contain myself! It’s going to be a bloody good year my bookish pals!

See you all soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xx





Sealed By Naomi Booth – A Review

Publisher: Dead Ink Books

Publication Date: 2 July 2019

I saw various Booktuber’s talking about Sealed by Naomi Booth and it sort of took root in my mind as being a book I could possibly love.  I got super busy in the run up to Christmas and the book fell by the wayside and into the recesses of my tiny mind!  There was one day over the Christmas period where in amongst thinking about cheese and wine and chocolate I thought ‘What was that book I saw being talked about where people’s bodies are sealing up?’……..Hey Mand, maybe the clue is in the title?…….

I put a quick tweet out asking my bookish friends if they knew of the book and the lovely Jordan Taylor-Jones offered to send me a copy for review (the HUGEST of thanks Jordan!).  When it arrived I really wanted to crack into it straight away but also wanted to save it as my first read of 2020…………..

Reader, I caved on December 28th.  I just couldn’t hold off any longer!  Zero willpower, story of my life.

Sealed is set in Australia in the present day or the not too distant future.  We follow Alice and Pete as they relocate out of the city and closer to the remote bush.  Alice is heavily pregnant and obsessed with the effects of pollution, bush fires and the smog of the city.  There have also been reported cases of a new disease called ‘cutis’ whereby people’s bodies are effectively sealing up (think eyes, ears, noses, mouths, genitals…….I know right! *shudder*).

Precious little is known about the disease and many experts are hypothesising about the potential causes.  Alice has been following the news reports avidly and has created her own logs and files surrounding the reported cases.

Pete doesn’t seem to share Alice’s worry’s and is hoping that their move will alleviate some of her concerns and is desperate for them to make a fresh start where the air is clearer and hopefully Alice’s thoughts will be clearer too.

However, it’s not long before Alice is seeing hints of symptoms in the locals.  The GP’s surgery won’t take on new patients and the staff there are cagey as to why. Alice tries to convey her fears and worries to Pete but he brushes them away in the hope of making a new life for their family.

The overwhelming fears that Alice has mean that her thoughts are almost entirely taken up by cutis.  This in turn leads to difficulties with her bonding with her unborn baby which she looks upon as almost a ‘thing’ or a ‘creature’.  Alice’s mother has also recently died and Alice has doubts about her official stated cause of death.  This plays heavily on Alice’s mind throughout.

Pete tries to involve them both in small town life and they begin to socialise with their neighbours and their young son.  Nobody around Alice seems to be overly concerned about cutis and the smog which only serves to make her more anxious.  As her pregnancy progresses and reaches it’s peak, Alice finds herself trapped in the middle of the most horrific nightmare imaginable and fighting for her newborn baby.

What I loved about this book was the fact that the dystopian element was not so far fetched that it couldn’t be feasible.  I am not a huge dysopian reader so I took a bit of a punt on this book in the hope that it wouldn’t be too far beyond the realms of possibility.  On the flip side of this however is the dawning realisation that THIS COULD HAPPEN!

I mean….Ok… probably won’t, but WHAT IF?????……

Scary stuff!

I really felt for Alice as a character.  You can really feel the sheer frustration she feels at not being able to convey to people how serious she knows cutis is.  It’s almost as if she’s living in the middle of a conspiracy and battling to make her voice heard.  There appear to be so many cover ups, not just officially but even her own partner playing down her fears and the creeping onset of his own.

I’ve read other reviews of this book which dub it an eco-horror, and I would agree with this.  The ‘eco’ part of that runs throughout the book but the ‘horror’ really ramps up in the last 25-30 pages!  As we know, Alice is heavily pregnant and what happens when women are heavily pregnant?……….Birth.  Birth in times of serious crisis!  The labour and birth scene (not a spoiler because hello, she’s preggers!) is so visceral and raw and not for the faint hearted!

Naomi Booth has such a stark and beautiful way of writing and I very much enjoy her style. I recently read The Lost Art Of Sinking by the same author and thoroughly enjoyed it. I feel like I am in safe hands with her books and I know I will enjoy anything she writes.

Sealed is a claustrophobic and intense read with an end that will make your toes curl. I loved it and would heartily recommend it!

Thank you so much to Jordan Taylor-Jones for my copy. I can’t wait to read what Naomi Booth writes next!

See you all soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx