Tag Archives: Debut

Science vs Magic in a Dystopian World

all the birds

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders The minute I read the tag-line on the press release for this book, I knew I had to read it: ‘A witch, a scientist and the end of the world’. This novel tries to do something that is not often seen in genre fiction – melding fantasy and urban SF in a dystopian… Read more »

Three shorter reviews

look at me

Trading Futures by Jim Powell Matthew Oxenhay is having an existential crisis. He set his hippy ideals behind him long ago, swapping them for a career in the city, wife, kids, nice house in a nice London suburb. Then it was his 60th birthday, and shortly afterwards he lost his job, but his boss let him keep coming to work… Read more »

An Atwoodian YA tale…

only ever yours

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill It’s rare that a cover quote on a book cover sums up a novel so completely, but the one from Vagenda on one of the paperback editions of Louise O’Neill’s debut novel is near-perfect: ‘Mean Girls meets The Handmaid’s Tale’ But of course I can’t leave it there! The moment I read O’Neill’s second novel, Asking For… Read more »

A novel of one-sided letters…

how you see me

How You See Me by S.E. Craythorne This is the last of my reviews of books I finished reading in 2015; I thought I’d better get a few thoughts down before the memory of reading it fades too much. As Susan said in a recent post, ‘I have a weakness for debuts’ – you never know what you’re going to get…. Read more »

"I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me"

Love & Fallout by Kathryn Simmonds Tessa is one of those middle-aged women that do causes. She co-runs a (failing) green charity running workshops for schools and colleges and she’s always got a local campaign on the go – this time saving the playing field from development. She doesn’t take much time for herself (or her family arguably) and lives… Read more »

5 Characters in Search of a Theme Song

Love, Love Me Do by Mark Haysom Looking at the title and cover of this book, I was expecting something light-hearted, a little bit sixties rock’n’roll, a bit Nick Hornby-ish if you will – and involving a caravan. Well the last bit was right, less so the others. The title, that of the Beatles’ first hit single, is an anchor in… Read more »

Ramble on …

This is my 800th post – Gosh!  That means that in my four and a half years of blogging I’ve posted around 177 times per year. It also works out that I’ve averaged a post every other day – which frankly astounds me! Anyway it is entirely appropriate that my 800th post should be a book review:- Pub Walks in… Read more »

Safe inside the wall?

The First Book of Calamity Leekby Paula Lichtarowicz This interesting debut novel is one of those that defy easy pigeonholing. A group of girls with strange names live in a walled community looked after by Aunty with occasional visits from Mother. They spend their days cultivating roses and vegetables, looking after pigs, and sewing cushions. At first it appears that… Read more »

Minimalism ain't all it's cracked up to be …

Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles This debut novel, published last year, was one of those books I was instantly desperate to read, but somehow couldn’t fit in at the time. The title promised quirkiness and humour, two qualities I adore in a novel. I’m glad I finally read it, for I enjoyed it a lot… Oskar is a successful… Read more »

An unusual friendship

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence Alex Woods is an unique young boy. It’s not that he is prime material for bullying because his single mum is a clairvoyant white witch who runs a new-age shop in Glastonbury, he has a much more bizarre claim to fame that has come to dominate his early life. When Alex was… Read more »

Two Naughty Schoolgirls…

harriet said

Harriet Said by Beryl Bainbridge Harriet Said was Beryl’s first  work written in the late 1950s.  However it ended up as her third published novel, as its darkness struggled to find a publisher initially.  It is the story of two teenaged schoolgirls and what they got up to one summer holiday… The two girls are an odd pairing.  Our narrator, who… Read more »

A tale of two families at war with themselves

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan There is a much used quote of Leo Tolstoy’s from Anna Karenina: -“All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This is particularly true to the two chronicled in this novel. Firstly we meet Meridia. Her mother Ravenna had nearly died giving birth to her, and… Read more »

This is not a Whodunnit, but a Whydunnit!

Rupture by Simon Lelic This is not a normal whodunnit crime novel, it’s a ‘whydunnit’. We know from the start that a mild-mannered school teacher shot and killed three pupils and a teacher before turning his gun on himself. It’s D.I. Lucia May’s case and although it appears to be an open and shut case, she doesn’t believe it’s as… Read more »

An truly original modern fairy tale

The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw This novel is that rare thing – a thoroughly grown-up modern fairy tale that works. It’s also a beautifully designed book with an evocative cover and silver page edging. It is set in a remote cluster of islands around an archipelago called St Hauda’s land which feels as if it’s somewhere like… Read more »

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 as I liked looking at… Read more »

Art for art’s sake?

The Bellini Madonna by Elizabeth Lowry There have been many novels about the search for missing art masterpieces, but few so convoluted as this. It’s written totally in the first person as a confession by Thomas Lynch, a randy old professor of art history who is an expert on the renaissance masters, Bellini in particular. Disgraced from his college, he… Read more »

In life, everything counts …

Addition by Toni Jordan This is another very unconventional love story, (see also Something Beginning With a few posts down). Grace has a form of OCD that makes her count everything and ritualise her life in numbers. This makes doing anything out of the ordinary worrying, and Grace is no longer able to work as a teacher. She lives on… Read more »

A young woman’s A to Z

Something Beginning With by Sarah Salway At first glance you might write this book off as chicklit with a gimmick – for it is written in an A to Z format with entries under key words and phrases. The longest entries are no more than a couple of pages, and they’re all cross-referenced with an index at the back too…. Read more »