Please note that you will not find any unfavourable reviews here. I only write reviews on books that I enjoyed reading.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

A Fair Cop by Michael Bunting

This is one of my favourite types of books. The genre has many different names; a true life story, an autobiography, a memoir, non fiction and so on.

A Fair Cop is all of those and more. I fear this review will not do it justice. I have struggled to get into words the impact it has had on me.

Michael Bunting is a very skilled writer, the story grabbed hold of me from the first page and held me engrossed till the very last word. I wanted to read it all in one sitting but the words in A Fair Cop reminded me that it is important to let life get in the way of a book, no matter how interesting the reading may be.

A Fair Cop made me reassess my priorities, revaluate all the things that I held most dear. By the time I finished reading this magnificent book I had a strong urge to hold those I love nice and close but I also felt cleansed and somehow renewed.

Although this book contains one of the most harrowing, shocking tales I have read in the past few years, it is also filled with a raw insight into the ability of the power of 'good' to tuck itself away in places you'd least expect.

Michael Bunting had his eyes opened to this remarkable quality by being stripped of most things that he cherished. In this memoir he shares his new found insight.

Between the covers of this book are some twisted, crazy angry people, many painful insights into the raw emotional and physical brutality of human nature but also and most importantly there are unexpectedly beautiful insights into life, fear, love, hope and kindness.

There are some amazing characters in this book and the most impressive of all is the the author himself with this display of unpretentious inner strength. I suspect that he would want to disagree with that statement as what comes across on every page is the humility of this very talented author.

I am amazed that this is his debut novel and look forward to reading anything else he chooses to write.

I was very pleased to read that Michael is writing another book.

You can read some more traditional style of reviews of A Fair Cop by clicking
here here, here

You can find out lots more about Michael Bunting's writing

A Fair Cop is published by The Friday Project (an imprint of Harper Collins).

You can buy copies from here, here or here

Thursday, 18 December 2008

9987 by Nik Jones

9987 kept me enthralled from start to finish.

I now understand why Caroline Smailes referred to it as 'Cinematic'. This is one to watch and I mean that quite literally. I wouldn't be surprised if this book was made into a movie in the next few years.

The main character is most endearingly disturbed. I know such a thing should be impossible but I challenge you to read the book without thinking the same thing...well for the first half of the novel anyway. I blame Nik Jones's skill at luring the reader into initially believing that his main character is simply a diligent worker, confused, obsessive but generally a well intentioned young man.

Eventually his darker side is revealed but by then the reader has already fallen under the spell of his gentle 'mommy's boy' alter ego. By the last chapter he is clearly, irredeemably and unlovabley psychotic. Even then Nik Jones still managed to shock me with the ending to 9987, perhaps I am too gullible or perhaps I'm not. You'll have to buy a copy and make your own mind up.

I dare you to spend an evening in after reading this without making sure your doors are locked, windows are shut and curtains pulled tightly together.

9987 will be published by
Tonto Books on the 19th January
You can find out more about Nik Jones by
clicking here
You can pre-order your copy of 9987 by
clicking here, here or here

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Bullies, Bitches and Bastards by Eileen Condon and Amanda Edwards

This book made me laugh or cringe every page I read.

It is the perfect stocking stuffer for any adult you know ( at least those who won't be offended by the title). After all who hasn't experienced at least one episode of contact with a bully, a bitch or a bastard in their life?

This book is something that everyone can relate to in a variety of ways; relief that it isn't only happening to them or all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum for those who need to learn not to take themselves so seriously.

It is published by the Friday Project (an imprint of Harper Collins) and you can buy your copies here, here or here. Buy it now and you'll be prepared for some cosy nights in where you can laugh away those post holiday blues.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Writing Therapy by Tim Atkinson

This was a book that went everywhere with me during the time I spent reading it. It is one of the most unique books I have ever read. Once I'd finished reading it I felt a certain smugness, as if I alone had discovered a rare jewel.

The narrator is a young woman who leads the reader on a raw excursion into a joust with madness. Writing is used as a most valuable tool in amongst a battery of less useful therapies. Be warned, this book is not an easy read, it is not junk food for the brain and it demands the attentions of a 'thinking' reader.

The plot is somewhat disturbing and shocking in parts of the book and it twists upon itself in places as Frances uses her own words that she is writing to help her view herself and her behaviours from different perspectives, to help her come to terms with her experiences.

It is said that Jung discovered that drawing mandalas had power to bring order to the psyche and to prevent overwhelming disorientation. Mandalas are thought to transmit positive energies to the people who view them.

This book radiates spiritual energy and could even be regarded as a path to enlightenment by those struggling with writers block. I would postulate that Tim Atkinson's novel 'Writing Therapy' is the mandala of books.

'Writing Therapy' is also ideal for those preparing to write their first full length manuscript. It is an effective 'how to' book cleverly disguised as an innocent novel.

You can buy a copy from all major books stores online or by clicking here or here.
Tim Atkinson's blog is here

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Valentine's Labyrinth by Jamieson Wolf

Valentine's Labyrinth is another triumph by the master story weaver Jamieson Wolf.

Anna loves Valentine

Emprius loves Anna

Valentine loves Asterius

Lady Magnolia loathes everyone

The tale draws the reader deep into the year 270 AD. Between the pages of this book lie lushly decadent experiences.

A magical and sweetly innocent handfasting ceremony conducted in a forest serenaded by the sound of gently ringing bells.

Extravagantly erotic love scenes.

Exceptionally vile and frightening evilness in the form of Lady Magnolia.

This book delivers it all in an enchanting tale of the kaleidoscopic impact of love. Read this and you should find yourself wrapped in a feeling of wellbeing and hope by the time you read the closing sentence.

Valentine's Labyrinth will be available from Cobblestone Press on December 17th.

To find out more about Valentine's Labyrinth
click here

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Leading The Dance by Sarah Salway

I loved this book. The stories overwhelmed me in a myriad of different ways. Readers of my blogs will already know that I am a big fan of short stories and it is no secret that Sarah Salway is an exceptionally talented author. So forgive me if I repeat what others have already said about this magnificent book.

In fact that is all I am going to say about 'Leading The Dance' although I will repeat it one more time; this is a magnificent collection of short stories by an exceptionally talented author.

Click here to do yourself a favour by buying a copy. Click here to find out more about Sarah by visiting her blog.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Old Man on a Bike - Simon Gandolfi

Mr Gandolfi has had ten other books published and the reason for his success was obvious to me before I had finished giggling my way through the prologue of Old Man on a Bike.

With his remarkable insight and searing self awareness, Mr Gandofli reminded me, time and time again, of my grampie Kirkby. Once the patriarch of our family, always my hero, a man who died having forgotten more than I am likely ever to be able to learn.

This book is singularly unique in that it draws the reader inside an older person's mind. I found it an enriching, often comforting and pleasant place to be.

The writing style in Old Man on a Bike is mature and mischievous, gritty, factual and witty. The book is filled with concise, clipped sentences of professional brevity:

'Although travelling, I am on familiar territory. We are always on familiar territory, all of us. Yet we divide ourselves from this reality by erecting fake barriers and boundaries of nationality and race and religion.'

'They infuse their finds in hot water and insist I bath the burns. They are small commanding women. They cook, clean and do the laundry. Disobedience would be foolish.'

'For the past few days I have been pursued by a middle-aged hen. Today the hen slinks into my room while Nora collects my laundry. I discover the hen on my bed. She has laid an egg.'

The book also regularly offers flowing paragraphs of perfect descriptive indulgence. I savoured every word.

I read the last page of this book with a smile on my face and a sense regret that I had reached the end of this enthralling paperback.

Old Man on a Bike is published by
The Friday Project (an imprint of Harper Collins) and is available to buy now.

You can find out more about Mr Gandolfi on his blog and website

Sunday, 9 November 2008

What Choices We Made - Sandy Lender

Somewhat unusally, I am posting about a book which I have not yet read. The reason for this is two fold:

1) I was asked by a friend who has impeccable taste in novels, if I would help promote Sandy's new book which is available at the end of Novemeber.

2) I've read a chapter of the book and it is AMAZING!

For those of you who do not read fantasy and therefore do not know of Sandy's reputation as an author this new book is the first volume of stories set in the universe Sandy created for her best selling novel Choices Meant for Gods. So without further ado I would like to introduce you to Sandy's latest novel:

Would the world of Onweald be the same if Enara had acted differently all those years ago? Join Chariss's early ancestor on the shores that become Arcana. Rescue a dragon and flee a screaming horde of edras demons. Step into a fantasy realm where romance and humor meet sword and sorcery—where choices of the past shape the world of a powerful heroine. Step into What Choices We Made.

It will be available to buy from Amazon and is on my wish list...

Friday, 31 October 2008

Witches - The Written Word

Witches : The Written Word Book One by Jamieson Wolf novel which is published by Cobblestone Press and was released, rather appropriately, on Halloween. Jamieson describes his book as 'Gay Romance' but I am not convinced writing of this quality can be pinned down into a single genre.

I found myself absorbed by the end of the first page, enthralled by the richness and depth of the characters.

The descriptiveness throughout the book is magical, alluring, irresistible. 'Books were strewn all over every available surface, every table. They were sitting on shelves, propping up the furniture. There were more books than he could possibly read in an entire lifetime. A soft breeze blew through the room and ruffled their pages; it sounded as if they were whispering to him, begging him to read them.'

The beautiful vibrancy of Jamiesons' words danced across my mind, enchanting me as I fell deeper into the story. He writes exquisite erotica that defies simple classification. This is a decadent love story that goes beyond this world. It seamlessly crosses the boundaries of different planes of reality and combines fantasy with the grit of the modern world.

How does he manage all this? Your guess is as good as mine and whatever his secret may be, I suspect it will remain just that. Jamieson, like his main character Owen, is truly a master storyteller. I am eagerly anticipating Demons : The Written Word Book Two

Thursday, 30 October 2008

a friend like henry by nuala gardner (title and authors' name all lower case as depicted on book cover)

a friend like henry,written by Nuala Gardner and published by Sourcebooks is a parents' book about autism...with all the fluffy bits removed. Honest, blunt, significant, rewarding. A well written, meaningful and very readable book.

a friend like henry is a book that tells the reader how frustrating, enlightening and magical living with autism can be, both for the person on the spectrum and those that live in the world parallel to ours.
I am happy to say that at no time in this book is it ever implied that Dale should be 'cured' of his autism, it is obvious throughout the book that the search is for coping mechanisms and behavioral modification.

One of the things I enjoyed most was that Nuala does not claim that pet therapy is the only solution to the above dilemma but she does openly and honestly share one way of using an autistic child's obsession to their family's best advantage.

One of the things I disliked the most about this book (besides the use of all lower case for the title and author name), was the way it rewired all my emotions and made me cry every few pages. I found that I had to pace myself through this book by reading it in between several others in order to give my emotions a break. I nearly couldn't continue on reading it at the end but I am not going to tell you why, as it will 'ruin' the ending for you. However, I am happy that I did carry on.

After reading this book I am still convinced that our N3S is still the child most likely to be savaged by a dog but I picked up a few tips encouraging on behavioral modification which we will apply through other mediums.

The section where Dale 'speaks' at the end of the book along with Nuala's afterword are nice twists and are the perfect ending to what I feel is a triumph of literary honesty. This is a very special book.

I speak as both an adult Aspie and a mother of an Aspie child when I say that this book will break your heart into several pieces and then show you interesting new ways to put it back together again.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Something a little different to stuff in those Christmas stockings

I am delighted to be able to show you the front and back cover for this collection of my memories.

This volume contains the stories from my earliest childhood memory up until my late teens when I moved away from home.

I hope to bring you a second collection of stories at a later date but that will all depend on how much interest this volume generates.

I will be using the publication of my memoir as an extension of this blog; a more tangible platform to raise Autism awareness whenever and wherever possible.

Legend Press are publishing this book in collaboration with who in turn have been sponsored by The Arts Council to help writers develop, get noticed and get published.

Somewhat unusually,
the wonderful world of bluechrome, the publisher of my fiction novel 'Without Alice', has also been involved in the publication of 'From Zaftig to Aspie'. I explain how and why on the acknowledgment page at the end of my book.

'From Zaftig to Aspie' will be on sale in December 2008 and I've been told it will be available to order from all major booksellers throughout the UK, US and worldwide, such as Waterstones, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and WH Smiths.

My 'Book Launch for Charity' party will happen in late January 2009 and I will post more details about that later on this year.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Megan Taylor - talented beyond description

Megan's writing makes me want to throw away everything I have ever written and start all over again. I am not sure if that is a bad thing or part of the process of being a better writer...
However, I couldn't possibly do this writer justice by futilely trying to find the right words to describe the music of her writing. I urge you to go read her latest story and see for yourself.
Click here to read, Insects .

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Strangers Waiting by Sally Spedding

Strangers Waiting written by Sally Spedding and published by the wonderful world of bluechrome.

I was hoping to enjoy this crime mystery novel and wasn't disappointed. It is filled with short stories that are mysterious, alluring, enchanting.

Dechets sets the tone for the book, luring the reader in and leaving you longing for more, which are then delivered in a succession of several delightful stories. Strangers Waiting was full on scary, heart in my mouth, edge of my seat, full of suspense type of scary. Minstrel Boy left me with an aftertaste of sadness. I became so engrossed in Sword Lillies that I was somewhat snappish when interrupted while reading. Reserve de Chasse, was eerie enough to have me fighting the urge to look over my shoulder. Blackthorn days, is extremely clever and thoroughly satisfying. Downtime was very plausible and all the more frightening because of that. Mares perfectly depicts the lure of herd mentality. Clan was a splendid finish for this eclectic mix.

This slim volume is the perfect size to enjoy in its entirety during a decadent duvet day. Follow the links at the top of the post to indulge yourself with this calorie free Halloween treat.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Caroline Smaile's Black Boxes

Black Boxes by Caroline Smailes and published by The Friday Project is a book that gives you your money's worth on every page. Once again Caroline has taken one of life's most important and rarely discussed issues and with her very unique voice, made it into a very readable novel.

Black boxes is compelling reading.

I expect readers who are not familiar with Caroline's writing will think that the topic is used to allay one's fear of the situation but as usual she does no such thing. Instead, she bravely examines each nuance of this emotive topic, detailing the root cause and perpetuating factors, following the path of destruction that unrecognised postnatal depression can become.

Although this is not an academic work, it accomplishes what no textbook will ever do and I strongly recommend it as reading for Health and Social Care students. I admire Caroline hugely for writing this book and know that each person who reads it will develop a greater understanding of some very sensitive issues that are very much a part of many people's lives.

Postnatal depression is the main issue but emotional abuse, neglect, bullying, love and hate are also seamlessly blended in this book written from the mother Ana's and daughter Pip's perspective. Pip's voice also speaks for her brother Davie. Ana speaks with imperfect and egocentric hindsight, Pip cries out from the harsh, damaging reality of the present time.

The parallels are sharp, perfectly honed, gleaming. There is white hot pain contained within the pages of this book.

Pip and Davie need a hiding tree, a place to escape the tsunami like destruction of their parent's madness's. Their pain rings out like the tones that can be coaxed from the rim of wet crystal and I found myself reading with the certainty that one of their songs was going to stop.

I challenge you to read Pip's closing words without a tear in your eye...

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Being Normal by Stephen Shieber

I've finished reading Being Normal by Stephen Shieber and published by tonto books (another indie publisher with a preference for their name in lower case, what is that all about?).

When I write finished I should clarify that I started it late one night, forced myself to put it down and get some sleep (and to not pick it up in the morning before work), then finished it on the train to London the very next evening.

I may have had the self restraint to not read it before work but I did talk about it at work and I have to confess that I also emailed several people about it before and during work...I blame Stephen!

This book should come with a warning label on the front cover, 'ADDICTIVE STORIES BARELY CONTAINED INSIDE' .

Stephen writes in a unique voice, one that resonates inside me, quickly convincing me that he KNOWS of what he writes. His skill is obvious in this regard as these stories are written in the first person with male, female and teenage voices. How is it possible to have such a flexible writing stream?

Being Normal is a wonderful book about, well, being normal. It contains all the beauty and ugliness that is part of everyday life, that which we witness happening, which makes us 'tut and tsk' when we see it reported in the media and that which we experience firsthand.

Being Normal sharply lays bare all that which is hidden, grabs you by the shirt collar and holds you captivated long enough for you to have an opportunity to really look at that person that you were so quick to dismiss in the past.

Being Normal offers a safe haven within which you may develop an understanding that there is a plausible reason for the behaviour of others that you may have found disturbing or even that there is an ulterior motive behind the behaviours you may have previously admired.

With his debut novel Stephen has joined the ranks of seriously talented short story writers and I am hoping that he succumbs to an urge to write more books in his distinctive voice.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Joe Stein - Cold Fire, Calm Rage and Another Man's World

Crime fiction novels are my favorite read of all and I am delighted to announce that Joe Stein writes satisfyingly good books. His first novel featuring Garron, an ex-boxer turned bodyguard, Cold Fire, Calm Rage and the sequel, Another Man's World, are published by bluechrome. Joe also writes short stories in many different genres and will occasionally post one of them here.

Garron is an engaging, complex and likeable character despite or perhaps because of the way he behaves in his world. The world he lives in has many more sharp edges than you or I encounter is our daily lives and as expected this has roughed him up, hardened his psyche. The few mentors he has had, have served to sand down his rough edges, making him a more efficient criminal rather than into a reformed 'good guy'.

Garron is an extremely believable character, who questions his actions, loses sleep over his perceived failings as a human and all the while he is behaving the way he must to exist in his dangerous world, there is a gentle element to his makeup which is subtly woven in. The theme of no one being all good or all bad is almost imperceptible but there none the less and I liked the books all the more so for this glimmer of positivity.

Garron has very few friends both by choice and circumstance but those he does have, he values with a fierce, almost palpable, intensity. The lengths he goes to in order to end one friend's debt goes beyond what many people would endure even for family. Garron is a pensive, introspective character whose reflections on life and love are concise and and insightful.

I have Asperger's syndrome which is a form of Autism and because of this, empathy is not one of my stronger characteristics. I have been socially conditioned over the years to know the appropriate responses to other's plights and moral dilemmas. I can usually be relied upon to to voice them at the necessary times but rarely, if ever, do I truly 'feel' for the other person except for a few family members that I am very close to on a daily basis. However while reading Joe's books I could feel myself begin to 'get it', I innately was able to understand why Garron behaved the way he did and why he felt his choices were the only right ones in those circumstances. That, my friends, is some very clever writing indeed.

Garron muses about life in a series of amusing one liners in both novels, my favorite of which is:
'Women have this really upsetting habit of asking very direct questions often in very direct tones.' (In Another Man's World)

Both books made me reflect on what I have and how very lucky I am to be where I am. I was sometimes lost in the world Garron lived in and relieved when I put the book down and realised that I was in my own safe world. These books are hard hitting and brutally blunt at times, no fluff whatsoever can be found within the covers. They appear to have been written for the 'thinking reader', are a sobering read in a few places and all the more valuable for it. I could not say which of the two I like best as both are written in a slightly different 'tone' and each gives Garron depth in equal measures.

My only regret is that there is not (yet?) a 3rd book in this series. My recommendation is that you buy both the books at the same time to prevent the withdrawal symptoms that are inevitable if you have to endure a break between reading Cold Fire, Calm Rage and Another Man's World.

If you enjoy a good crime novel (and I assume you must if you've read this far), then go buy Cold Fire, Calm Rage and Another Man's World! I found one on Amazon for $50.24! I suggest you go
here or here for a more affordable read.

If there are any agents reading this then I suggest you try to get Joe to allow you to represent him. I think that, with the right promotion, Joe Stein's books are good enough to achieve world wide recognition.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Disraeli Avenue

This exquisite novella written by Caroline Smailes will be published as a truly limited edition of 500 hardback books and all 500 books will be signed and numbered.

The pre-order will be available direct from
bluechrome at only £10 and this book should arrive before Christmas, being dispatched on December 01 2008.

Please note that if you order from Amazon you will not receive Disraeli Avenue in time to give yourself and others an extra special Christmas present. Don't wait until the official release in January because this one is going to sell out well before then.

Most importantly, all profit from the sale of Disraeli Avenue will go to
One in Four the charity run for and by people who have experienced sexual abuse.

Click here to pre-order a copy or three.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The State of Me

The State of me, by Nasim Marie Jafry and published by The Friday Project (an imprint of Harper Collins), is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

So I suppose it is now going to seem a bit strange when I explain that it is about a woman's journey through illness!

Somehow, as I read this painful story about a victim of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), Nasmin managed to wrap her words around me and whisk me away on a merry dance. Almost against my will I realised that I was enjoying myself. I don't know how Nasim did it but it happened, time and time again, chapter after chapter.

I know of many readers who are forever raving about how dialogue is what makes a book great but for me it is descriptiveness that brings the story alive. The prose in The State of me is wonderfully descriptive.

Nasim paints images with words:

'A man with a staircase of fat from his neck to his groin was eating ice cream at the next table'.

'A woman with an arse like a shelf was wedging herself into the seat in front. She hated me from the start. I accidentally dunted her seat and she turned round and glared with shark eyes'.

'We lay like spoons and he put his arm round me. I could feel him breathing on my neck. It was like agony iced with hundreds and thousands'.

Two pages into the book I thought 'This is perfection on paper'. Then I had to put the book down for a while as I felt faint with jealousy.

Warning...this book is best read in between the writing of your own novels not during...

For a more traditional book review on The State of me, you can click on either of the following links :
Sally Zigmond's book blog or Caroline Smailes's

I strongly recommend that you make this book one of your must reads for this year.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


Don't be fooled by the innocent looking cover! This book dishes up piping hot surrealism by the ladleful. Best read while imbibing your favorite tipple in order to lubricate your brain to an appropriate viscosity.

It was often 'laugh out loud' funny, though tainted with a disturbing aftertaste of doubt; was it really appropriate to have laughed at that point in the book?

I feel it only fair to warn you that this is the kind of book that works its way into your subconscious and you will find yourself unexpectedly thinking about it.

Like the more notorious roller coasters, the ending leaves you thinking, 'That was a bit scary but whoo hooo what a ride!'. I was left with a somewhat masochistic desire to re-read it in case I had missed any of the subtle nuances the first time round.

Unexpectedly enjoyable from cover to cover with characters I loved and ones I loved to hate!

Doggone, written by Erik Ryman will be published by the wonderful world of Bluechrome on Oct 1st 2008. Get in the queue now for this book which is likely to become a cult classic...'what kind of cult?', did I hear you ask? Well you'll just have to read the book and find out!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Tangled Roots

I've had the privilege of reading a fabulous book, Tangled Roots by Sue Guiney and published by Bluechrome. Sue weaves her story much in the same way as magicians perform their acts during a live stage show.

I read this book with growing anticipation, assuming I knew what was about to happen and eagerly wanting to reach that point. Unexpectedly and with amazing cleverness the words frequently became twisted puffs of a magic spell; blending and wafting before me, clouding my vision only to have turned into something else once I was able to see clearly again.

I would recommend this book to those who take their reading seriously and to those who savour their books. Tangled Roots is unique and very special. I adored each sentence and wish Sue all the success she deserves with this magnificent debut novel.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Gents - an exquisite read

My advice to you would be to not read this book....until you are able to treat yourself to a slice of time which will allow you the luxury of reading it from cover to cover in one sitting.

The main characters in this book reach out from the pages to welcome you into their world. The dialogue is exquisite, crafted in such a way that it burns into your mind. It left me incapable of putting the book down for more than a few minutes without burning with desire to find out what
happened next.

Between the covers of this absorbing book resides an opportunity to observe another world, one that many of us will never enter and that some of us wish they did not have to. It is a tale of strong contrasts. The reader is presented with vicarious experiences such as the sensation of being held at knife point. Yet there is an underlying message of good love and hope, of the potential for realisation of dreams by overcoming fears and looking beyond the situations that threaten to overwhelm. I read the last page with a smile on my face and a feeling of lightness shimmering inside.

Click here to treat yourself to a copy (go on, you know you deserve it!) of this delightful book by Warwick Collins (published by the Friday Project).

Saturday, 28 June 2008

The Suicide Shop

The Suicide Shop by Jean Teule and published by Gallic Books is due for release in July 2008. I first read about it on Scott Pack's blog. Consumed with jealousy over the cleverness of the title, I jumped at the opportunity to review it, hoping to find it was nothing more than a clever title.

It arrived on my doorstep as a spiral bound manuscript. I spent several Aspie moments delighting over how it opened out flat without the usual struggle to break the spine of the book...before I forced myself to stop digressing and got on with discovering the contents of 'The Suicide Shop'.

The blurb describes it as a black comedy, a term I've seen used many times before without grapsing the concept until I read this novel. It is set sometime in the future and tells the tale of a rather morose and dysfunctional family who are perfectly suited to managing the day to day business of their 'suicide shop'. The fact that they have no repeat customers is testament of their skillful sales recommendations to individual customers. The only aberration in their fur lined rut of misery is the youngest child who, from the moment of his birth, is an inextinguishable ray of golden sunshine.

I found the book filled with exquisite imagery: 'Soap bubbles are flying up from it. They rise and fall, float, coloured and shining, in the Suicide Shop. They find their way, carelessly, between the shelving.' 'Something escapes from Mishima's throat like a song that has lost its way.' 'Overexposed in the artificial brightness, he is also haloed by the vibrations of an incredible self-destructive passion.' are just a few examples of the vivid, emotive, literary treasures that await the lucky reader.

The book is only 75 pages long and towards the end I began to feel the story line was becoming slightly tedious in its predictability. I thought that until I reached the startling surprise of an ending! Then I realised how the last chapters had lulled me into making false assumptions in order to hammer the final message home. I recommend this book to everyone simply on the genius of that alone. This book isn't big, but it is clever! Follow the link to Gallic at the top of this post, if you ask nicely they may allow you to reserve a copy so you can beat the rush in July!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

'It does what it says on the tin'

This book had me hooked by the end of the first sentence. The Independent on Sunday's review said it 'Pulls off that most difficult feat of being hilariously funny and frightening at the same time' and that is so true! I have never read anything quite like it but will be looking for more from this author. Chopper is reading it at the moment and he can't bear to put it down (or so he says) ... some people will try anything to get out of a trip to the Science Museum...