the literary lounge

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  IT’S ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO COME ACROSS AN AUTHOR who we’ve never read before, for no other reason than life’s too short and there are too many good books out there waiting to be devoured. It’s particularly so, if that author fits into the mystery/crime genre, one of our not-at-all guilty and rather favourite … Continue readings

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  ‘I DON’T WANT TO PRODUCE WORK that is a pleasant distraction, then you move on to something else. I would actually like it to … stop their day. To make it an encounter,’ comments artist Marcus Harvey. And, without a doubt, that’s what his art has done since Myra (1995), his portrait of Myra … Continue readings

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  ALL OF US HAVE A FIRST FORBIDDEN BOOK – the one that we never forget, the one that sat so enticingly on the top shelf far out of the reach of small hands. In my case, it was Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls, a big fat white elephant of a book that called … Continue readings

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  SET IN THE AILING TOWN OF BRIDGEFORD, ‘a tiny, inconsequential dot on the landscape of Britain’, where businesses are closing, the streets are littered with scratch cards and local spirit is at all-time low, Gill Hornby’s latest novel, All Together Now, focuses on the power of music to unite. As the town struggles, it’s … Continue readings

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  STEPHEN KING ONCE WROTE that an opening line should scream: ‘Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.’ ‘[I]t is a little like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar.’ Well, Chris Whitaker in his first novel, Tall Oaks, certainly does all that: we’re gripped right from the start. From the very … Continue readings

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  THERE’S A SCENE IN RELATIVITY, Antonia Hayes’ poignant novel, in which 12-year-old Ethan spies a tattoo – E=mc2 – on the arm of Mark, his newly discovered father. ‘What’s that?’ he asks. ‘What does it stand for?’ And after further probing, Mark reluctantly admits that he’d had it tattooed when Ethan was born. ‘It’s … Continue readings

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  WE, WHO ARE FORTUNATE ENOUGH to live in democracies, accept freedom of speech and the civil liberties that we enjoy as our natural and inherent rights. But we are lucky: these rights are, in fact, privileges. Raif Badawi: The Voice of Freedom, Ensaf Haidar’s moving love letter to her activist husband, brings this point … Continue readings

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  THE FAITHFUL COUPLE opens in San Diego, in 1993, where twenty-something Neil is trying, somewhat half-heartedly, to chat up a girl he’s met in the hostel in which he’s staying. He’s unsuccessful, as he’s more interested in Adam, the young man sitting nearby, obviously eavesdropping. The girl wanders off, but Neil and Adam’s friendship … Continue readings

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One of seven children, award-winning novelist Grace Burrowes grew up in central Pennsylvania, reading and roaming the countryside on her horse, Buck. Many years and several degrees later, Grace was a successful child welfare attorney, with more than twenty manuscripts under her belt, when she met Deb Werksman, editorial director at Sourcebooks Casablanca, in a … Continue readings

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  I LIKE LISA KLEYPAS. She’s become a favourite author in the last few years since I was first introduced to her historicals by The Literary Cat, who, to get my attention, purposefully knocked a copy of Seduce Me At Sunrise (Hathaways #2) on to my keyboard from the bookshelf above my desk. It’s thus … Continue readings

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  THE YEAR IS 1786 and Elizabeth ‘Lizzy’ Ward, the protagonist of Joanna Taylor’s novel Masquerade, is a young woman struggling to make her way in Georgian London, a city that’s ruled by money, power and position. Forced to walk the streets of Piccadilly, selling her body to make ends meet, Lizzy dreams of a … Continue readings

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  There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. –Ernest Hemingway   MOST WRITERS WOULD AGREE WITH HEMINGWAY. Although many of us use laptops these days. Writing is job like any other and to be good at it you have to be committed and put the time … Continue readings

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  ROSAMUND LUPTON’S NEW NOVEL, THE QUALITY OF SILENCE, opens in Fairbanks Airport, Alaska, where 10-and-a-half-year-old Ruby and her mother, Yasmin, have just landed, expecting to be met by Matt, Ruby’s wildlife filmmaker father. Instead, they find the police waiting and Yasmin is told the devastating news that Matt has been killed in a ‘catastrophic … Continue readings

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  DJANGO REINHARDT, THE LITERARY CAT, IS DEAD. He took his last breath at 5.45pm on 19 June 2015 in a tiny veterinary surgery in the West Country, falling asleep with my hand stroking his head, much as he had done so many times in our years together. He barreled his way into my life … Continue readings

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    … [S]he took a few cleansing breaths and studied the bridge. Nearly twenty feet long and eight feet wide, the bridge was already stained and varnished. Something was carved into the posts, but she couldn’t make it out. She scratched her head. How had they built such an elaborate bridge overnight without her … Continue readings