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Life Update and Book Review

Hey, long time no speak. I’ve been away for a little while but I’m going to try and get back into writing for myself again. Last year, I left teaching to go back into marketing, and so I became a Copywriter. I think going from one career and jumping back into an old one took more brain space up than I once anticipated, and I’ve ended up neglecting my blog!

 

Never fear though, I did continue with my reading goal and managed to smash my 50 book target for 2023! And I completed a few new crafts – one of which were two embroidery pieces that I now have hung in our living room. And of course, I’ve still been watching lots of films and TV shows, but I’ve also rediscovered my love of watching game playthroughs on YouTube. I actually makes me want to get back into gaming myself, but I haven’t managed to dive back into it yet. Any suggestions?


A little life update from me first. In the last 6 months we’ve welcomed three new additions to the family (no, I haven’t had triplets). We adopted 2 kittens in November last year, Idi and Edgar and we recently got our wild and mischievous Keeshond puppy, Bram. As I type this, he is behind me scattering every single toy out into the office and chewing up my slippers. I’ve managed to decorate a few rooms in our house and made it feel a little more like ‘us’, so that’s also been nice. Oh, and I’m 30 next month – rip my 20s.

 


Now, back to my latest book review. Well, I guess it would be a double book review because it’s a duology. I didn’t expect to find my ‘top book of 2024’ so early in the year (I know that could change, but I doubt it!), but here we are.


The books are by Andrew Shanahan, and they’re called ‘Before and After’ and ‘Flesh and Blood’. They centre around 600 lbs Ben, who has been tucked away in his Manchester flat for years and is suddenly thrust into the world again when, ironically, then world decides to end.

 

In the first novel, we see him fight to survive from his flat as he slowly loses weight and tries to keep his dog Brown alive. It switches from 1st person to 3rd person from chapter to chapter, and looks at Ben’s present life watching the world crumble and how he got into his situation in the first place. It’s sad, frustrating and hilarious all mixed into one and I absolutely loved it.

 

The second novel (hopefully not the last!) follows Ben and Nat – Ben’s story set in the present day and Nat’s set in the past looking at the downfall of civilisation from another perspective (one that was not trapped in a flat whilst the world started burning). It gives us a little more insight into how the end of the world happened and makes us love the characters even more. Honestly, it’s written so well, and the characterisation of Ben and Nat are simply irresistible. I never wanted it to end but also couldn’t wait to see what happened!

 

Honestly, I have not enjoyed a book for such a long time, and I didn’t think that would happen with an ‘end-of-the-world’ novel. I’ve not been a massive reader of apocalypse fiction – not that I haven’t enjoyed them in the past. I mean, I Am Legend was one of my chosen books to study for my dissertation. However, I guess they just haven’t been on my radar much.

 

I chose Before and After because I was searching through the Kindle Unlimited horror section and this came up. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I ended up falling in love with Ben. I was rooting so hard for his survival and was so damned happy when I realised there was a sequel.

 

Flesh and Blood was, in my opinion, even better than Before and After and became more of your typical ‘survival fiction’ that comes with the territory, but I have never felt a book wrench at my heart strings more. I tell you; you will never be able to listen to The Vengaboys – We Like To Party! (The Vengabus) without shedding a tear.

 

Please. Please, please, please. Read these books. They’re only short, so shouldn’t take you long. I promise you; you won’t regret it. I have not been able to shut up about them ever since I finished them because I want to spread the joy as much as possible!


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