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  From the very page, A J Park’s The First Lie captures our attention. It’s highly readable, fast-paced, with an interesting premise: how far would you go to protect the people and things most important to you? When barrister Paul Reeve comes home after a particularly gruelling day, he finds a dead body draped over … Continue readings

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    What Doesn’t Kill You, fifteen essays by a diverse group of commentators, writers, actors, journalists, explorers, among them, is an insightful look at the beauty of the human spirit. It’s often not an easy read, but it is a necessary one, and there are some lovely pieces, beautifully penned, poignant, moving. Ones that … Continue readings

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    There’s a great sense of nostalgia and loss pervading Tara Gould’s short story, The Haunting of Strawberry Water, published by Myriad Editions as a small format paperback. Paying more than a nod to the Gothic tradition, from the very first words, we are made aware of the narrator’s longing for the mother she … Continue readings

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    The Split, best-selling author Sharon (SJ) Bolton’s new novel, features one of the best of crime-fiction locations, the island of South Georgia, the Antarctic, several hundred miles from the Falkland Islands, where protagonist Dr Felicity Lloyd discovers that sometimes it doesn’t matter how far you run, you just can’t hide. Especially from psycho … Continue readings

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    We are, as we’ve said before, partial to a good piece of historical fiction and Ellen Alpsten’s debut novel, Tsarina, is a veritable beast of a book. Told in the first person, it charts the rise of Catherine I, second wife of Peter the Great, from her humble beginnings as peasant girl Marta … Continue readings

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    Caroline Hulse’s latest book, Like A House on Fire, is an incisive, incredibly funny study of how families behave in crisis. Told from multiple perspectives, the book revolves around a family party, a wedding anniversary with a murder–mystery theme, where pretty much every person has a secret which he or she is guarding, … Continue readings

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  We’re huge Nora Roberts’ fans and are slightly ashamed to admit we came late to the table to her alter ego JD Robb and the fabulous Eve Dallas–Roarke futuristic crime series. Once we discovered them, we rushed through them as we’re also great crime-fiction lovers. Golden in Death, the latest – and fiftieth, fiftieth … Continue readings

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  Every year I get myself a present from my late mama. Something that’s meaningful, occasionally life changing, like the flat I bought and moved into on my birthday four years ago. Mostly though it’s a set of charcoals or a plant. This year it’s Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the … Continue readings

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Jamie Fewery’s new book The Way Back, published by Orion, explores the rather complex subject of family. The Cadogans, his protagonists, open the novel as estranged siblings brought together by the demise of their father. Gerry Cadogan, directing his children even from beyond the grave, forces Patrick, Kirsty and Jessica on a road trip to … Continue readings

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    Melanie Blake’s The Thunder Girls is a good old-fashioned blockbuster in the vein of the late greats, Jacqueline Susann, Jackie Collins, Shirley Conran, Jilly Cooper. So, what’s not to love, really? Centering around the proposed reunion of four members of an 80s’ girl band, Chrissie, Roxanne, Anita and Carly, thirty years after they … Continue readings

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    Journalist Liz Jones ran a campaign to ban skinny models in her former incarnation as editor-in-chief of influential Marie Claire, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the premise of her rather entertaining debut novel, 8 ½ Stone, centres around weight and the quest for happiness. Jones creates a familiar beast in protagonist Pam, … Continue readings

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  I was looking at the book jacket of Damian Barr’s You Will Be Safe Here a few days back, when I reread it, and was struck by how many adjectives have been applied to it by so many great writers, so you’ll forgive me if I repeat some of them in the course of … Continue readings

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  JP Henderson’s Daisy came as a surprise for two reasons. It seemed an unlikely book for No Exit to publish, as it’s not the crime-fiction for which the publisher is most known – and I wasn’t expecting, when I read the précis, for it to be such an enjoyable, funny, bitter–sweet read. And it … Continue readings

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  She saw into cubicles, sounds of birth and tears and life. She saw shells of people, so empty she knew they would not recover. Cops led bad men with tattooed arms and bloodied faces. She smelled the drunks, the bleach, the vomit and shit.”   We love Chris Whitaker. We love his writing. So, … Continue readings

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Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage © Howard Sooley   Happy news! After a period of great uncertainty about its future, Prospect Cottage, Derek Jarman’s Dungeness home, has been saved, following the Art Fund’s £3.5 million-fundraising campaign. A former fisherman’s hut, Prospect Cottage was purchased by visionary Jarman in 1986, the same year in which he was … Continue readings

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