Meanwhile at Shiny…

…I’ve had several reviews published recently.

In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant

Sarah Dunant’s latest novel chronicles the last year of Pope Alexander VI’s life. He was, of course, head of the Borgia family in Renaissance Italy. His mad and vicious soldier son Cesare, and daughter about to be thrice-married Lucrezia complete the trio, with Niccolo Macchiavelli observing Cesare from the sidelines on his way to making his own name.

This plot-driven novel is full of historical detail, and paints Lucrezia in a more favourable and feminist light than she is usually portrayed. The pages speed by. Great fun. (9/10)

Read my full review here.

Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby

With its striking cover, this is an unusual and experimental take on a novel about a young man descending into psychosis through grief, anger, drugs – you name it, Matty Corani has tried it, or suffered it.

It starts off almost normally, in a sort of Trainspotting-like way, but as Matty gets more and more out of control it gets dark and weird.

Told as a normal narrative, plus Matty’s psych reports, Matty’s memoir writings and Matty’s visions, it’s an ambitious debut full of imagery from the ancient Greeks and philosophers. (7.5/10)

Read my full review here.

Hit Makers by Derek Thompson

One for fans of Tim Harford, whose latest book Messy I reviewed here.

A book of two halves. In the first, Thompson analyses how hits are made. Familiarity, degrees of newness, exposure – all the psychology that helps to make one song a hit and another, better song a miss.

In the second, he looks at the business of making hits, from the truth about viral hits, about how a hit can make everything else better and so on.

Fascinating stuff, with some great examples cited. (8/10)

Read my full review here.

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