reviews

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  ‘Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave? Wonder no longer. It takes an age …”   There’s nothing better than a good opener and, in this, debut novelist Catherine Steadman doesn’t disappoint, drawing us in from the very first line of the highly acclaimed Something in the Water. (Who … Continue readings

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  ‘All of this started the night Will told us he was going to be a serial killer. He said, ‘Okay, I’ve decided what I want to do when I’m older…’ So begins SR Masters’ psychological thriller, The Killer You Know. It’s a great opening – suitably creepy and attention grabbing. And it’s a clever … Continue readings

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  We’ve already waxed lyrical about how much we love poetry and so Katya Boirand’s collection, Take Me to the Edge, published by Unbound, simply had to be read. It’s an interesting premise, to ask a selection of people, from different walks of life, for five words and then to weave them together into a … Continue readings

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  Sue Lawrence’s Down to the Sea joins the number of novels, at the moment being published, set in dual timelines. Moving between the early 1980s, when the book opens, and the late 1890s, it’s set in the Newhaven area of Edinburgh, by the sea. From the first words, we’re plunged into Rona and Craig’s … Continue readings

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  Set in Edinburgh in the 1840s, Ambrose Parry’s excellent The Way of All Flesh is an utter joy. From the very first line, we are immersed in the Victorian world of Will Raven, a struggling medical student, newly apprenticed to the eminent Scottish obstetrician Dr James Young Simpson. As the city is beset by … Continue readings

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  ‘Proportionality bias is the instinctive notion that a large outcome must have had a large cause. It’s why we find it hard to accept that a princess can simply die in a car crash or that a lone sniper can take down a president. In a world that seems frighteningly chaotic, we crave a … Continue readings

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  When I first heard the premise for Louise Beech’s Call Me Star Girl, Clint Eastwood’s iconic film Play Misty for Me (1971) came to mind – late night DJ with potentially crazed stalker fan, murder, bloody murder, secrets and lies … Certainly, there’s something extremely filmic about the book and, like Eastwood, from the … Continue readings

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  Alice Jolly’s Between the Regions of Kindness takes its title from Naomi Shibab Nye’s poem ‘Kindness’ – ‘how desolate the landscape can be / between the regions of kindness’. Fourteen years in the making, the novel is a moving, rather beautiful in parts, exploration of loss, grief and culpability. Moving between the Second World … Continue readings

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  We’re great Tom Cox fans. We love him, in fact. He first came into our lives on Twitter, when we, like many, many others, followed the hilarious, poignant and sometimes quite daft escapades of his feline friends. This essay collection, 21st-Century Yokel, is, in fact, dedicated to two of them, his (and our) beloved … Continue readings

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  When I first read the precis of Joe Nutt’s The Point of Poetry, I wanted to read it. I’m a poetry gal – read it, write it, love it. Like a great piece of art or music, a poem that resonates is worth its weight in gold and Nutt’s book is a good introduction … Continue readings

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  Archie was fifty-two years old. One of life’s natural procrastinators, he was aware that life was passing him by. It was happening slowly, and without any real abrasion, but even in his positive moments, he acknowledged that he should do something about it. There were essentially four routes for his kind: the factory shift … Continue readings

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  Ester looks around. The world hasn’t changed. People on the pavements are scurrying to and fro. Outside the entrance to Christiania Steam Kitchen a woman is sweeping. A barber is putting a sign outside his shop. This is what dying is like, she thinks. You have gone and the world doesn’t care. You die … Continue readings

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  People talked about Japan as a losers’ paradise for gaijin foreigners, especially males. But I never found it was the case. … Here I was, coming straight from the sack into an untaxing job that left me free of financial concerns. I had friends and a place to live that was convenient, even if … Continue readings

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  There’s something extremely unsettling about Harriet Tyce’s Blood Orange – unsettling, unnerving, compelling. As I read it, I could feel myself getting more and more tense and then angry – at the characters and the situations they put themselves in, yes, but then at myself. So many of the things that the protagonist experiences … Continue readings

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  The rain creates walls in the night. Falling from the sky, they are like mirrors, reflecting and warping the blue light from the police car. Everything spins. The street emerges from the darkness and loses itself behind the harbour lights, and there – right in the middle, just where it suddenly drops downhill – … Continue readings

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