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

Saturday, 17 July 2010

WASTED by Nicola Morgan

WASTED isn't the sort of book I would normally read because it's in the young adult category.  However, I follow Nicola on twitter (she makes me laugh, lots) and I noticed that she was getting a lot of reviews for WASTED.  I became intrigued and decided to order a copy, and I am so glad I did. This may be in the YA genre but it is definitely suitable for older adults too.

This very emotive novel is about the choices life throws at you, the sadness and deep joy that comes with growing up and growing wiser. It's all kinds of beautiful.  There are two endings to this novel and I'm betting you can't limit yourself to reading just one of them

Nicola has a WASTED blog here, a blog full of useful tips for writers here and she tweets using this profile:

You can find a copy of WASTED in all good bookshops and get free overseas shipping at The Book Depository

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Like Bees to Honey by Caroline Smailes

Michelangelo finished painting the nine scenes from the book of Genesis on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in 1512 and the Last Judgement on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel in 1541. The scenes interlink in obvious ways and, in more delicate ways, like the scent of wildflower that wafts up and over the air funnel created by your movements as you pass. You only fully experience it once you've begun to purposefully seek the subtleties out.  They are, without a doubt, works of genius produced by a very talented artist. 

What I find astounding is that it has taken several centuries for the literary equivalent to be written. Like Bees to Honey has accomplished with words a work of magnitude comparable to what Michelangelo created with paint. 

This 425 page novel has an aura of breathtaking immensity, of significance on an awesome level.  This is a novel which allows the reader to find the strength to endure the terrifying free fall into forgiveness.  It is also a delicate novel that places gentle kisses on places that hurt, on emotional wounds that need soothing and protection so that they can heal properly.

 Like Bees to Honey will show you in many beautiful ways that people have an infinite capacity to love and why it's sometimes necessary to say 'bye for now'.

You can find out more about Like Bees to Honey by following this link and more about Caroline Smailes by following this link and you can treat yourself to a copy of Like Bees to Honey at any good book store.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Heaven Can Wait

Heaven Can Wait is Cally Taylor's debut novel published by Orion.

I laughed frequently enough to average out to one laugh per page. The novel is 375 pages long and if you believe in the adage that "laughter is the best medicine" then this book should be available for you on perscription.

You may end up calling me psychic (but never psycho please) because I'm going to predict that Cally's going to become a hugely popular novelist worldwide and very very quickly.

You can find out more about Cally here and you can treat yourself to a copy of Heaven Can Wait here or here.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Abattoir Jack by Christopher Neilan

Abattoir Jack is the first novel to be published by Punked Books, a new Indie publisher of trade fiction and non-fiction.

I found myself completely absorbed in this tale of  twenty two year old Jack who is stuck in a  dead end job, struggling to earn enough to pay for the motel room he lives in.  When he is told something he shouldn't have heard, his life begins to change, but the reader is left unaware whether this is for better or worse until the very last page.  I was left thinking "superb, more please". 

If you liked Hound Dog by Richard Blandford then Abattoir Jack is a must read.

If you want to treat yourself to a copy then you can buy one by following this link.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Hector and the Search for Happiness

I've always been an avid reader because it offers me a delightful escape whenever I wish for one.

While the act of reading makes me happy, I've never felt that the contents of a book actually made me feel happy. Not until I read Hector and the Search for Happiness. This 164 page novel tells the tale of a psychiatrist who sets off on a journey around the world to find out what, exactly, makes people happy. In doing so he also discovers what makes him happy. While reading it I realised that this lovely little book made me feel very happy.

I am considering reading it as a bedtime story to my seven year old son but I would say that the content is safely suitable for unsupervised reading by young adults and up. In fact, I think this book defies attempts to categorize it and does something which few books are able to; it crosses the boundaries of age, social class, ethnicity and religion just as happiness itself does.

Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord (translated by Lorenza Garcia) is due to be published by Gallic Books in April 2010. You can pre-order your copy by following this link.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Thaw by Fiona Robyn

Ruth's diary is the new novel by Fiona Robyn, called Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free.

Ruth's first entry is below:

These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It's a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we're being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.

The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they're stuck to the outside of her hands. They're a colour that's difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.

I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I'm giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don't think I'm alone in wondering whether it's all worth it. I've seen the look in people's eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I've heard the weary grief in my dad's voice.

So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I'm Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I'm sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?

Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat - books you have to take in both hands to lift. I've had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I've still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.

Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about - princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad's snoring was.

I've always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I'll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say, 'It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for,' before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It'll all be here. I'm using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I'm striping the paper. I'm near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I'm allowed to make my decision. That's it for today. It's begun.

Continue reading at tomorrow by following this link

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Dawning

The Dawning by Megan Taylor is an indulgent and very focussed read. The story unravels over the space of about 12 hours from New Years eve onwards. 

One family's secrets overflow from the first page and they sweep the reader along. Unfolding with perfect symmetry, the plot is as unsettling as the approach of a summer thunderstorm and as irresistible as the warm summer rain that follows. 

I stayed up late reading this and would then wake during the night thinking about it. It's a great novel and one which I will read again.

You can treat yourself to a copy here or here and you can visit Megan at her blog.