Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday 17 September 2018

Reading round-up August 2018

Reading round-up - August 2018 

I thought I'd be able to get back to posting more regularly but it's been ages again unfortunately. As I've not written any full reviews I thought I'd share a taste of what was a very good reading month for me in August. There was a lovely variety in what I read, everything was enjoyable,  and it was great to read such a quantity as well. I wish I could manage this every month but sadly that doesn't happen. I've read little in September so far, although the one novel I've finished thus far - A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne - was absolutely brilliant and I'd highly recommend it. I read some lovely illustrated children's books, a graphic novel, crime fiction, and a selection of other fiction - historical and contemporary, even some poetry. Additionally there was a compelling memoir, and a very welcome and supportive book on surviving the modern world. Some mostly brief thoughts on them.

The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau - Graeme Macrae Burnet has become a new favourite author since, earlier this year, I read his brilliant novel His Bloody Project, whilst  on holiday up in Scotland. I've since read his other two novels and thoroughly enjoyed both. 

Notes on a Nervous Planet - Matt Haig's book Reasons to Stay Alive (my review is here) was a wonderfully supportive and sympathetic read which I found an awful lot of strength from and this is another book which takes an honest look at the pressures of the modern world and the struggles we may have with it and gives support and hope in coping.

The Case of the Missing Hippo (Fabio the World's Greatest Flamingo Detective 1) - This book is fabulous fun and a very enjoyable read, what a clever imagination.

I Am, I Am, I Am I love Maggie O'Farrell's novels, and really enjoyed this series of 'brushes with death', if enjoyed is the right word. I enjoyed her writing once again, though these many close scrapes are at times frightening, she has come through so much. 

You Sad Feminist - I heard about this poet on Jean's - Bookish Thoughts - book tube channel and thought it sounded up my street, and then I watched a video of the author  Megan Beech reading some of her poetry aloud and was very impressed, as I was when I read this collection. 

The Yark - A children's book I found whilst browsing in Foyles, it caught my eye, translated from French and published in New Zealand, it's a story I enjoyed though be warned it certainly has a dark edge to it. 

The Book Case - Lots to love in this and I will look out for more. Some fab characters especially Daphne. I liked the illustrations a lot. A fair bit of action and adventure to the story.

The Poet's Dog - This is a lovely story that says so much about love/friendship and kindness in so few words. And the main character and narrator is a dog. Perfect.

Stay Where You Are and then LeaveI loved this story from beginning to end, it was moving and very well told. I was sad to leave the characters behind and am wondering what happened to them all next.

Rooftoppers - This was a magical read! I had a tear in my eye at the end. Not sure how I missed this before. 

All We Shall Know'We merged over time into one person, I think, and it's easy to be cruel to oneself.'

I've previously read one book by this author, The Spinning Heart, which I absolutely loved, so I did go into this new book with high expectations I suppose, and I wasn't disappointed. Whilst I think overall I still would say I loved The Spinning Heart most, I absolutely loved reading Donal Ryan's beautiful, lyrical writing again here in All We Shall Know, with his often acutely painful but so on the nose observations about people and about relationships of love and youth and promise gone so bitter and so wrong. I just feel he has a brilliant grasp on people and on what makes people's hearts soar with joy and what absolutely tears people apart in themselves and from each other. I think his writing is at times a class apart and sometimes I stop and reread a sentence or passage numerous times in awe of it. 

Here he tells the story of a woman named Melody Shee, who we learn straight away is pregnant and the father is not her husband Pat but Martin, a young traveller boy. She is in a very dark place in her mind as the novel begins, and we learn of the darkness that haunts her from her past, from schooldays and from her marriage gone sour. The only brightness on the landscape is a new friendship that blossoms between Melody and Mary, a traveller living on the same site as Martin, and to some extent the time Melody spends with her father. This book gave me an insight into a community that I know very little about. The author depicts the way memories of past transgressions haunt us and can come back to taunt us. The tension and atmosphere grows as the weeks of her pregnancy progress. The whole of the passage about marriage vows that is about a page long is amazing. Superb, writing which is both beautiful and so insightful, and amazing how he does this in 150 or 200 pages, and I've already bought two more by this author to look forward to.

Standard Deviation - I really enjoyed this debut novel. I do like a good story of everyday family life set in the present day, and Katherine Heiny has crafted just such a tale here, a really readable story centred predominantly around just a few characters - Graham, his wife Audra, his first wife Elspeth and Graham and Audra's son Matthew. The author has a pacy writing style, and she writes with great humour at times, and makes some very sharp and true observations on modern life, love, marriage, parenting, there's some lovely characterisation. There's also some real sadness, sometimes coming as quite a surprise. Though in some ways it feels as though Graham is the main character, Audra is such a presence that it does feel like she is the most memorable character in the book, and at times I thought Audra was brilliant, though I do think she would also drive me a little mad at times too if I encountered her in the real world. Sometimes I thought, oh she's not really going to say that is she, and then she does, oh my goodness! The development of young Matthew's character was nicely done, his talent for origami. There's some witty and at times acerbic commentary and judgements, often from Graham, on the personalities and behaviours of those he meets, and sometimes you can't help feeling you might have thought the same thing, however unkind, and other times it makes you stop and think about how we judge others based sometimes on very little. It made me think about how we view our relationships. And although there were very sad moments, it really did make me laugh at times. I'd definitely read more by this author. 

The Pavee and the Buffer Girl - I enjoyed this moving graphic novel about outsiders finding each other. 

An American Marriage - A compelling tale and one that makes you think about whose side, if anyone's, you are on. 

Snap - I really enjoyed this, a compelling page turner, some witty lines and enjoyable characterisation, recommended. One of my favourite reads from a few years ago is Belinda Bauer's novel Rubbernecker (my review is here).

Have you read any of these? What was your favourite read over the summer? 

New releases

I'm hoping this autumn will bring more good reads and there are several I'm really excited about over reading the coming weeks, including Lethal White by Robert Galbraith, Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak, Transcription by Kate Atkinson, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton, to name a few. 

Is there a new release you are looking forward to?

Saturday 14 April 2018

Bookish thoughts on The Scandal by Fredrik Backman

The Scandal by Fredrick Backman, translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith.

Synopsis from Goodreads ..

'Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else's forehead and pulled the trigger. This is the story of how we got there.' 

Beartown is a small town in a large Swedish forest.

For most of the year it is under a thick blanket of snow, experiencing the kind of cold and dark that brings people closer together - or pulls them apart.

Its isolation means that Beartown has been slowly shrinking with each passing year. But now the town is on the verge of an astonishing revival. Everyone can feel the excitement. Change is in the air and a bright new future is just around the corner.

Until the day it is all put in jeopardy by a single, brutal act. It divides the town into those who think it should be hushed up and forgotten, and those who'll risk the future to see justice done. At last, it falls to one young man to find the courage to speak the truth that it seems no one else wants to hear.

No one can stand by or stay silent. You're on one side or another.

Which side will you find yourself on?


'So the first thing that happens in a conflict is that we choose a side, because that's easier than trying to hold two thoughts in our heads at the same time. The second thing that happens is that we seek out facts that confirm what we want to believe - comforting facts, ones that permit life to go on as normal. The third is that we dehumanize our enemy.'

I find Fredrik Backman a very insightful writer when it comes to observations of human behaviour. I've read a few of his novels now, I really enjoyed A Man Called Ove in particular, but with The Scandal he has done something a bit different to his previous stories. I think all the others, however they might have touched upon serious or important matters, had a lighter side or tone to them on the whole, but here there is much more of an exploration of the darkness within families, friendships and communities, the buried secrets, the suspicion, the mistrust, sadness at tragic losses, regret at unfulfilled potential. That's not to suggest the world within this novel is without hope though; there are moments of joy in there too, and touching humour, but it felt heavy at times with the pervading rather gloomy and oppressive atmosphere. 

The enclosed, limited, cold and bleak world of this small town in Sweden, Beartown, is really successfully conveyed by Backman, I think the reader gets a full sense of the claustrophobia and limitations that many of the characters experience, the isolation in this rural place surrounded by forest. This is the backdrop against which the story builds. There seems little to celebrate or shout about there, and what matters to the majority of the people there is ice-hockey and the possibility of renewed success of their team would bring about such a lift in spirits, as it did in the past. That's why, when something absolutely terrible happens, so many of the inhabitants are thrown into a moral conflict and the way they emerge from it will show their true colours.

It's a difficult read at times, with the criminal act of rape that is the turning point of the story being very upsetting and shocking. But I found it a very convincing portrayal of a community and of so many different characters, young, middle-aged and older, all drawn so vividly and roundly, all with their own problems, anxieties and passions. The narration jumps around a fair bit to show different reactions and points of view to the unfolding events, and I really liked the variety of characters we come to know. I admit to knowing little about ice-hockey before reading, and although it is intrinsic to the life of the town and the backdrop of the plot, it doesn't matter if it doesn't overly interest you as it is the characters - their actions and motivations, thoughts and secrets - and the themes - friendship, loyalty, honesty, being a parent, bereavement - that really stand out in this tale. 

These characters in The Scandal felt so alive to me as I read, and I kept thinking about some of them whilst I wasn't reading, as well as after I had finished the book. It was certainly a thought-provoking read, and caused a bit of a 'book hangover' for me afterwards, as it didn't feel like anything else was going to capture my thoughts as this had. I borrowed this book from the library so must get a keeper copy one day. 

I was excited to see that there is another novel coming out from the author with the same setting, Us Against You, (Beartown Two) - the title of The Scandal in some versions is Beartown, a direct translation of the original Swedish title I believe.


Some wonderful quotes that stood out for me...

'Another morning comes. It always does. Time always moves at the same rate, only feelings have different speeds. Every day can mark a whole lifetime or a single heartbeat, depending on who you spend it with.'

'When I was little, my dad used to hit me if I spilled my milk, Leo. That didn't teach me not to spell things. It just made me scared of milk. Remember that.'

'So the first thing that happens in a conflict is that we choose a side, because that's easier than trying to hold two thoughts in our heads at the same time. The second thing that happens is that we seek out facts that confirm what we want to believe - comforting facts, ones that permit life to go on as normal. The third is that we dehumanize our enemy.'

'...Ana creeps into the house and wakes the dogs, then takes them as far out into the forest as she can. Then she sits there with her face buried in their fur and cries. They breathe on her neck, lick her ear, nudge her with their noses. She will never understand how some people can prefer other people to animals.'

'If only she hadn't existed, the none of this would have happened, why didn't she think of that?'

'She does what she has done a thousand times in her childhood when the house stank of alcohol and her parents were screaming at each other. She sleeps with the animals. Because the animals have never done her any harm.'

'All men have different fears that drive them, and Peter's biggest one is that he isn't good enough.'

Saturday 10 March 2018

Bookish thoughts on Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Three Things About Elsie is filled with some lovely touches of humour, poignancy, and perceptive observations on life.

As well as this, it invites the reader into a mystery regarding a man from our main character Florence's past.

Florence is in her eighties and living in managed accommodation for the elderly. Elsie is her best friend - this is the first of the three things about her. As the book commences, Florence has fallen in her flat, and she is thinking about recent events in her life, telling us about Elsie, and about another friend in the flats, Jack, and also about a new arrival, a man who brings back past memories for Florence and causes her to embark on solving a mystery buried in her past, if she can just reach within her mind and find the answers. 

Joanna Cannon writes with warmth and in a compassionate, honest way in dealing with dementia and ageing, as well as portraying the bonds of friendship and companionship. 

There are many beautiful observations and expressions once again in Joanna Cannon's writing, as I found there were in the author’s debut novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, but this time, for me, there is a stronger and more compelling story to go with it.

I enjoyed the stories woven in about the side characters of Miss Ambrose and Handy Simon, both with their issues of self-doubt and self-discovery, though I felt I would have liked to know a little more about Jack, for him to have felt just a little more fleshed out as a character. 

The book cover is a lovely appealing design of Battenberg cake which was very tempting every time I looked at the pattern, and the jigsaw pieces emblematic of Florence trying to piece together the past and find that missing piece in her present.

As I said, there were some lovely expressions and thoughts on life, many sentences and passages I marked as I read and which caused me to pause and think, some of which I've shared below.


Some of my favourite pieces of writing from the book:

'She always wore cheerful clothes, it was just a shame her face never went along with it.'

'A small existence, disappeared. There was nothing left to say she'd even been there. Everything was exactly as it had been before. As if someone had put a bookmark in her life and slammed it shut.'

'We'd only been there ten minutes and my mind started to wander. It can't help itself. It very often goes for a walk without me, and before I've realised what's going on, it's miles away.'

'Elsie's father left for the war and returned as a telegram on the mantelpiece.'

'But sometimes life takes you along a path you only intended to glance down on your way to somewhere else, and when you look back, you realise the past wasn't the straight line you thought it might be. If you're lucky, you eventually move forward, but most of us cross from side to side, tripping up over our second thoughts as we walk through life.'

'It's strange, because you can put up with all manner of nonsense in your life, all sorts of sadness, and you manage to keep everything on board and march through it, then someone is kind to you and it's the kindness that makes you cry. It's the tiny act of goodness that opens a door somewhere and lets all the misery escape.'

'It didn't take them long to undo my life. I had spent eighty years building it, but within weeks, they made it small enough to fit into a manila envelope and take along to meetings.'

'...perhaps it's only in the silence that you're able to hear just how loud your own worrying is.'

'Nothing he had a go at seemed to fit. Life sometimes felt like trying on the entire contents of a shoe shop, but all of them pinched your toes.'

Friday 23 February 2018

Back with some Best Books!

Long time, no post, I know. I wasn't sure if I was coming back to write here again. I'm still not sure if I'm back for any length of time, or regularly, so let's just see what happens. I've  still enjoyed reading many of the excellent book blogs I always followed before, though I have been terrible at commenting, for which I'm sorry. 

I thought an interesting post to return with might be my favourite reads of 2017 (in no particular order). 
Underneath the titles, I've posted the comments that I wrote on Goodreads at the time, if any - some I wrote a little, some I didn't write anything. No reflection on the book(s) at all, just whether I managed to write a comment/review at the time or not. 

Favourite reads of 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead

I loved this novel, I thought Colson Whitehead constructed and told his story very well indeed. I liked the longer and shorter parts of the narrative, and the different viewpoints, and I feel he has written a very important, compelling, honest and very readable novel about an absolutely awful part of humanity's past, which should never be forgotten. I felt I learned a lot in reading this novel, and it made me go off and research more about some of the historical events of the period in which this story is set, as well as find out about the underground railroad as it was something I didn't know about previously. 
I became thoroughly immersed in Cora's life and was reluctant to put the book down at times, as I had to know what would happen, despite my fears at what I might found out as I read on. I did find some of the things that happened upsetting, I was appalled by some of the horrendous behaviour and the way people were treated back then. 
I feel this is an important novel to read and I am very glad I have read it; as well as dealing with something which taints our past, it is a gripping, harrowing, well written and engaging story with some wonderful characters, Cora most of all, as well as Caesar, Sam, and others. It definitely deserves the praise it has received. I love the cover design too, very striking and fitting for the book.

The Unseen World - Liz Moore

Marvellous, I loved it. Ada and David will stay with me for a long time, as well as Liston and ELIXIR. Intelligent, thoughtful and compelling read. Love this author.

How to Stop Time - Matt Haig

Pretty darn marvellous. So much feeling and insight into life, especially into how humans repeat mistakes again and again, and uplifting in terms of trying to live in the moment. A really good, and lovely, story. The audio book narrator does a brilliant job too.

Shelter - Jung Yun

A brilliant read, combines so much, beautifully done, and very well written.

The Tidal Zone - Sarah Moss

I loved this book, I thought it was beautifully written, with a compelling and very readable narrative with so much to say about the way we live our lives today; the delicate nature of our health, the weight, relevance and truth of our history, the influence of previous generations and their experiences. 
I found it especially well written and honest when discussing how we get through everyday modern life with its struggles and joys, and there were some delightful touches of humour in there too. 
I loved the interspersed parts about Coventry Cathedral as Adam conducted his research. (The cathedral, as well as some of the area around/near there, is a place that has a special resonance from the past for me, that's another story though, I won't go into it here.) 
I admired Adam for his role, and I think Sarah Moss really conveyed so well the love and devotion he had for his family, as well as the utter turmoil when they were threatened by the frightening health scares.
I also thought she was spot on with many of the current worries and issues troubling our world. I liked that Miriam was a feisty and positive girl who cared about a lot that isn't right with the world. I like the beautiful and striking cover painting too. I'm really excited about reading more novels by this author now, I like her writing style very much. 

The Museum of You - Carys Bray

What a lovely book.

The Son - Phillip Meyer

The Past - Tessa Hadley

What a lovely read, I enjoyed it from the off and then more and more as I read on, and I'm sad now to leave those characters behind, I feel like I'll miss them. 
So beautifully done, so perceptive in writing about people and so enjoyable to read. Just the book I needed right now. And a back catalogue of the author's for me to explore.

The Spinning Heart - Donal Ryan

Absolutely superb.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies - John Boyne

I have read many, though not yet all, of John Boyne's previous novels, both some of his adult and children's work, and I do enjoy his writing style very much, and the way he tells a story. So I went into this new book knowing I would probably like it, but still a little nervous, as it's his longest yet I believe, and as stated in the book, his most ambitious to date. I need not have worried - I thought it was amazing.
John Boyne has depicted Cyril Avery, throughout his life, prior to his birth, through to his death, and everything in between. He deals with some of the major happenings of the century, but these are not brought in in a heavy handed way, but dealt with very well, incorporated sometimes into the foreground, and sometimes into the background of the main story. There are so many characters to love, to admire, to dislike, to hope for, and Cyril is at the heart of it all. As discoveries were made, revelations, and chance meetings that the reader reacted to having the knowledge that Cyril didn't, it all made for a heartbreaking, moving and very involving reading experience. Cyril experiences much pain in coming to terms with his sexuality, in coping with love that is not reciprocated, in being adopted by such an unusual pair as Charles and Maude. I liked the structure of the novel, as we caught up with Cyril every seven years throughout his life, and I liked the first chapter detailing his mother's experiences immediately prior to Cyril's birth. There were so many characters I was sad to leave behind when I finished the book, some that I had mourned for, and some that had been wonderful company, in particular I loved Mrs Goggin, and Maude is fascinating.
A really major achievement by a superb author, this is a beautifully, honestly written, and compelling tale. I am so grateful to have read this book.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith

Absolutely wonderful.

The House by the Lake - John Harding

A fascinating read.

War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

Wow, what a book. 


And my favourite reads of 2016 because I didn't post then either!

Favourite reads of 2016

A God in Ruins - Kate Atkinson

I absolutely loved this book, superb. Moving, stunning, had me in tears. Highly recommended.

Under the Skin - Michel Faber

Fates and Furies - Lauren Groff

A compelling, powerful portrait of a marriage, of two lives. 

I was intrigued by this novel for a while, and I saw great reviews for it by people who loved it, and I also saw reviews where people were not so keen. I kept thinking shall I, shan't I, read it, and eventually I did give in to the temptation because it wouldn't go away. Well this time I was right to trust that little voice in me that said read this book. I thought it was brilliant. 

Lauren Groff writes her story in two halves, first couple of hundred pages tell Lotto's side, under Fates, and the second half of similar length, Furies, gives Mathilde's story. They married at just 22 years old, and the way the novel shines a light on their marriage is superbly done.
I feel that in creating Lotto and Mathilde, in the way she portrays them, Lauren Groff demonstrates that she can brilliantly capture people in all their complexity, and show the intense joys and the immense sadnesses of life.

She has a beautiful writing style, this is intelligent literary fiction, plus she has written a compelling narrative that made this book a real page-turner too. I was drawn in early on and it was fascinating to discover what would happen over the course of their lives together, how their hopes and dreams and expectations would play out as they aged, and to see these lives from both perspectives too.

I'm not very well versed in the aspects of Greek drama that I believe may be in play here, but I understand that the comments in brackets littered in the novel are like a Greek chorus commenting on events/telling us the truth? Anyway, this aspect worked for me too.

Whilst I wouldn't say this was an absolutely perfect novel, I thought it was very good indeed for all the reasons mentioned above - the use of language, the storytelling, the compelling characters. Lotto and Mathilde weren't people I loved, perhaps at times I liked something about them but for the most part I didn't, but they were convincing, and felt real and flawed, and I was invested in their story, wanting to know more, wanting to know what would happen, what was hiding underneath the surface.

I hope this review goes some way to conveying why I really enjoyed this novel. It's the first novel I've read by Lauren Groff, though I've had The Monsters of Templeton sitting on my to be read pile for years, and still plan to read it. After reading Fates and Furies, I'm looking forward to it even more.

The Muse - Jessie Burton

Art, love, friendship, culture, feminism, independence, immigration, war, intrigue, mystery, so much and so well told, absolutely loved this story.

This Must Be the Place - Maggie O'Farrell

Once again, beautiful writing by this author, as with her previous novels, so too with this one - so enjoyable to read and so compelling too. We have a narrative that moves about in time and also we have different narrative voices; after a few sections, getting used to this structure, I loved how we got an intimate picture of several of the characters' lives, and how the story kept being related at different points in time of different characters' lives.

I found all of the different voices convincing and sometimes I was both keen to read the next part by someone else and yet also wanting to know what would happen next to the character I had just read about. If this makes the novel sound confusing, it's not, you soon grasp the various connections within your mind and become engrossed in these characters' lives. The storylines and lives are carefully and cleverly woven together; Maggie O’Farrell is a great storyteller and this is another super read by one of my favourite writers.

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

Loved it. So many reminders of the eighties too. Another successful step outside my reading 'comfort zone'.

My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout

Eligible - Curtis Sittenfeld

Lovely lovely read, I love the original classic and I love this modern day take on it, great fun. 

I don’t always rush to read new versions or modern takes of classic novels, especially when the original novel is one I loved, as is the case here with Pride and Prejudice. I worry that it will spoil my memory of the original, or just feel like it was unnecessary. However, I loved Curtis Sittenfeld’s novel American Wife, have her other novels waiting on my to be read pile, and had to admit to being intrigued by just how she would deliver her updated version of Jane Austen’s most famous novel, with the wonderful characters and story transported to modern day USA. (I believe this is now the fourth of Jane Austen’s novels to have been given a new take by a present day author.)

The story has all you might expect of a modern day tale, gossipy text messages, hi-tech companies, glossy magazines, reality tv shows, and more. I won’t put spoilers or further details here because it’s best to discover them as you read, but I liked her interpretation of pretty much all of them, from Fitzy and Chip to Mr Collins and Kathy de Bourgh. Curtis Sittenfeld brings through many of the characteristics and features that we know so well from Austen’s novel, Mrs Bennet’s anxieties and prejudices, Mr Bennet’s dry humour, Kitty and Lydia’s giggly silliness and flirtatiousness, Mary’s enigmatic isolation, Jane’s beauty and her kind spirit, Liz’s intelligence and thoughtfulness, now with a hip and independent edge to her. So, the characters and plots retain a lot from the original, but are brought cleverly up to date and/or their situations and difficulties made relevant for the present day, with some concerns still relevant in both, eternal human concerns of love, togetherness, loneliness, money, and families. And of course Mrs Bennet still just wants to see her five daughters married well!

It’s a lengthy novel at over 500 pages, but it carries you along and I got through a fair chunk every time I picked it up, so compelling was the need to keep reading and so witting the writing. Some chapters are very short, most are fairy short, and I loved the way it was done. To me it felt both like the classic tale and like a very current, relevant and entertaining contemporary novel, and I thought it was brilliant. 

If you are open to this story being retold do give this a go because it is a lot of fun to read, it skips along at a fine pace and I at least came to love the characters, or laugh at them, or cry with them (especially with Liz), just as much all over again. I hope this review gives some sense of what it’s like, there’s a lot more I’d love to write about but I think then I’d bring a lot of spoilers in. A really great read, such fun!

House of Silence - Linda Gillard

House of Silence is a really gripping read, the story and the setting are both high on atmosphere and mystery. It's a moving, intriguing read that kept me wanting to get back to reading it. I loved it. 

There are some brilliant characters, ones that will stick in my mind, especially Hattie, and the storytelling is layered and clever. There's romance, pain, loss, passion, denial, secrets, mystery - a cracking read.

Coffin Road - Peter May

Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty

Over the past couple of years I've read many of Liane Moriarty's novels, and have loved them all. So I was both very excited and also apprehensive about a new book from her - it will be brilliant won't it? I need not have worried because I thoroughly enjoyed Truly Madly Guilty, another cracker from this superb author. 

More than anything I just feel that she absolutely grasps people and what makes them tick, and she writes so intelligently about relationships, internal thought processes, feelings, and it's wonderful to read someone who 'gets' humans so well. 

Truly Madly Guilty is a compelling read, well-plotted and intriguing, but it is the deftness of touch with regard to her character portrayals, and the understanding of people, of emotions, of joy and desire and sadness and fear and love, that shines through most of all. I can't wait for her next one!

The Red Notebook - Antoine Laurain


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