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Murder – the lawyer’s tale

The Child Who by Simon Lelic After writing a spec fiction thriller for his second novel The Facility, review here, Lelic returns to give us a different take on familiary territory for his third. His stunning debut Rupture, review here, was a Whydunnit which explored how a teacher came to murder his pupils. The Child Who takes its inspiration Read More

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The return of everyone’s flying car

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce When Mr Tooting is made redundant, he decides he needs a project and, with son Jem’s help, they rebuild an ancient old camper van. Then the plan is to go globe-trotting in it. It needs new vintage sparkplugs though despite all their travails. Off they Read More

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Another quirky fable of men and their work

A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked in by Magnus Mills Don’t you just love the cover of this book?  Having just finished reading it, I love it even more, as it encapsulates the kingdom within its pages perfectly. I can identify its buildings including ‘The Cake’ – the dome-topped concert hall (middle Read More

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A Dark tale of twins: American – in Paris

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive   Comes the Night by Hollis Hampton-Jones Meade and Ben Ho are nineteen year old twins; they are Americans in Paris, rich kids. They have one of those incredibly close, empathic and near telepathic twin relationships. Ben Ho is at art Read More

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Bookgroup Report – Always look on the bright side of life

Candide by Voltaire This short novel is another one of those influential classic books that I had always planned to read. I’d bought a copy in preparation, and ten years later it was still sitting on the shelf. I was really pleased that we chose it at book group, and I’m mighty glad to have Read More

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Class wars in the suburbs – just ‘champion’ …

The Champion by Tim Binding Tim Binding is one of those authors of whom I’ve been aware for a while, and I’ve even got a couple of his books in my TBR piles, but never read any of them.  The publicity blurb for his latest published earlier this year, said ‘The Champion pulsates with black humour Read More

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Gaskella goes graphic …

When I was a student years ago, I was rather fond of the early Cerebus the Aardvark comics, (swords and sorcery with an cute aardvark hero – yes I know!). After that I didn’t read any comics or graphic novels until 2007 when our Bookgroup read one of the classics of the genre, Watchmen – written Read More

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Old reviews from 2011: The start of two dogged detective series…

Cop Hater by Ed McBain Ed McBain is the author who really created the police procedural novel, with his series of fifty-five 87th Precinct books written between 1956 and 2005. In the introduction to Cop Hater, he tells how he came up with the idea of a squadroom of police officers, all with different characters, whom together Read More

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Return of the Living Dead …

It’s that time of year again when I fit a few spooky novels into my October reading plans.  Last year I read only vampire stories – this year I’m ranging more widely for fearsome creatures and I’ve started off with a ‘Teen Gothic’ novel about werewolves… Claire De Lune by Christine Johnson Claire is just a Read More

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Russian echoes of Waiting for Godot

The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin The story in this wonderful novel was inspired by a real event – that of the eighty year old Stravinsky returning to Russia in a ‘for one night only’ comeback concert; the queue for tickets started a whole year before. Set in an unnamed Russian city some time during the height Read More

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A Disintegrating Life in Letters

The Cry Of The Sloth by Sam Savage Savage, whose delightful and quirky first novel, Firmin: Adventures Of A Metropolitan Lowlife was published at the age of 67, has done it again with The Cry Of The Sloth, upping the quirk quotient considerably in this bizarrely funny, yet sad story. Subtitled, ‘The Mostly Tragic Story of Read More

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An eloquently written misery memoir, long but loaded with nuggets of the author’s wit and bite

Closing Time by Joe Queenan I have enjoyed all the Joe Queenan books I’ve read, particularly The Unkindest Cut: How a Hatchet-Man Critic Made His Own $7,000 Movie and Put It All on His Credit Card.  Queenan is a journalist and author, having written for the New York Times and The Guardian amongst others, where his Read More

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A novel of archaeology, food, pandemics and ghosts

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss This novel, published by Granta, is lovely to behold. What you can’t see are the beautiful turquoise blue page edges, and the glossy white fibrils of grassy roots insinuating their way through the bones of the skeleton curled up underneath the title. Luckily I enjoyed reading the book as much Read More

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Sheer Poetry – a remarkable read

Cloud Busting by Malorie Blackman This is unlike any other children’s story I have ever read. A series of 26 short poems, telling the story of Sam and Davey, and all about bullying and friendship, secrets and lies, and the terrible thing that happened one day … Told entirely in Sam’s voice, the poems are Read More

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Beware of black buttons – Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline by Neil Gaiman is a deliciously scary children’s novel that is destined to become an absolute classic. Think Clive Barker for kids, but with a sense of humour and you’re about there. ***SLIGHT PLOT SPOILER ALERT*** Coraline’s family has moved into a new flat. Her parents are too busy to talk to her so Read More

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Bookended by great lines…

People and quizzes often tend to concentrate on opening lines of books all the time. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . . … from Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier being, of course, an absolute classic. But who knows the last line, which just so happens to be beautifully elegaic … Read More

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A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

This is a brilliant novel, but one I found it difficult to enjoy. The title, appropriately for a parody of America’s deep south in the 1960s, comes from master satirist Jonathan Swift and is a perfect description of the book. The author has assembled a cast of grotesques, from aged crones to spoilt housewives, and Read More