Archives for book review

Book Review: The Quarry

I started reading this book with my emotions running high, knowing Iain Banks had completed it so near to death. But I determined to be fair, not to like it just because he died. But I did like it. A lot. The story is full of imagery: the quarry, the actual hole in the ground is the unknown faced by the two key characters: Guy, who is facing death; and his son Kit, who faces life without his father. Both stand on the edge of emptiness. Kit is the key narrator. Described as ‘a bit odd’ and ‘socially disabled’, I liked him straight away. As often with a young narrator, the author puts words of wisdom into the words of an innocent. Perhaps Kit has more self-awareness than his elders. He is certainly an innocent who is learning quickly. The action takes place over one weekend, the limited timespan and setting in the house and edge of quarry give it the feeling of a stage play at times. A group of friends gathers at Guy’s house, to spend time with him as he dies. But there is always a feeling that the adults want something from Kit, that no-one is being
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Categories: Book Love.

More new books coming soon…

Deaf but hearing Granta has signed debut novelist Louise Stern. Kinil, to be published in 2015, tells the story of three siblings Ismael, Rosie and Ceistina who live in a Mayan village in Mexico where the deaf and hearing communicate by sign language.This is Stern’s debut novel, after her acclaimed short story collection Chattering. Stern, who is deaf and grew up a in a non-hearing community in California, writes about arresting characters who just happen to be deaf. Fifth writer signed from Curtis Brown course Antonia Honeywell’s debut novel The Ship has been bought by Weidenfeld & Nicolson from Curtis Brown, Honeywell [below] is the fifth student from Curtis Brown Creative’s novel-writing course to sign a publishing deal. The Ship is the story of a dystopian world where a wealthy man buys a huge ship to transport a handpicked group of 500, including his daughter Lalla, to a safe destination. But as the journey progresses, Lalla challenges her tyrannical father. To be published in February 2015.  Other successful CB students to sign deals are SD Sykes’s Plague Land, Jake Woodhouse’s After the Silence, Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist, and Tim Glencross’s social satire Barbarians. Sculptor publishes first novel Our Endless Numbered
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Categories: Book Love.

Book Review: The Little House

Ruth’s story starts with Sunday lunch at the in-laws and builds slowly, pulling you in relentlessly until you can’t put the book down. It is deceptive in its simplicity, at various points in the story I found myself thinking ‘but they couldn’t do that’ or ‘that would never happen.’ But it does and you believe it. The denouement is startling. This is very different from the historical novels by Philippa Gregory but shares the same aspects of a pageturner: you simply want to know what happens next. Read my review of The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory. ‘The Little House’ by Philippa Gregory [UK: Harper]   If you like ‘The Little House’, try:- ‘The Past’ by Tessa Hadley ‘Lord John and the Private Matter’ by Diana Gabaldon ‘The Knife with the Ivory Handle’ by Cynthia Bruchman And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: THE LITTLE HOUSE by @PhilippaGBooks #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-oN
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Categories: Book Love.

New books coming soon….

Three new novels from fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie. The first, Half a King, will be published by Harper Collins next year and is a coming-of-age tale aimed at young readers. It is the story of Yarvi, youngest son of a warlike king, and is set in an alternative historical world akin to the Dark Ages. Yarvi, born with a crippled hand, cannot live up to his father’s expectations. The three new novels are standalone stories, but are inter-connected and aimed at 12-16 year olds.   The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings will be published in June 2014 by Cutting Edge Press. Her debut novel, Sworn Secret, published by Canvas, has high ratings on Goodreads as a difficult and emotional read leaving some readers in tears. Faber will publish Hanif Kureishi’s new novel in February 2014. The Last Word tells the story of Mamoon, an Indian writer in his seventies, based in England, who faces falling book sales and a wife with expensive tastes. Harry, a young biographer, commissioned to write a book which will revitalise Mamoon’s sales, prompting a struggle to tell the truth. Later this year a film will be released, written by Kureishi, called Le Weekend and starring
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Categories: Book Love.

New books coming out this autumn

William Boyd’s ‘Solo’. James Bond is 45 and in Africa. Stephen King’s ‘Doctor Sleep’. Danny Torrance from ‘The Shining’ is now middle-aged. ‘The Story’ is a compilation of 100 short stories, written by women, and edited by Victoria Hislop. A ‘whydunnit’ from Mark Lawson, ‘The Deaths’ combines social commentary and crime. Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘The Lowland’ is about two brothers growing up in Calcutta.
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Categories: Book Love.

Book review: Life after Life

It’s a while since I read a book I didn’t want to put down, a book that made me continue reading in bed gone midnight. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is that book. Kate Atkinson manages the macro settings and the micro details with ease, from the petty sibling squabbles at Fox Corner to the camaraderie of the ARP wardens in the Blitz. Before I started reading ‘Life after Life’ I read the phrase ‘Groundhog Day’ a few times in reviews, which belittles the intricate weaving of Ursula Todd’s lives. In the way that Logan Mountstuart’s life runs parallel to the great historical moments of the last century, Ursula’s life stories are book-ended by the approach and aftermath of the First and Second World Wars. Ursula, little bear, is an engaging character we see born and die, again and again through her own personal déjà vu.  I wasn’t sure how this was going to work but once I stopped worrying about it and surrendered myself to Ursula, I was transfixed. This is another work of art, as mesmerising as her first Behind the Scenes at the Museum. It is such an ambitious novel, that I can only guess at
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Categories: Book Love.

If books were real, Jackson Brodie…

Jackson Brodie …would drink Taylor’s Yorkshire Gold tea with full-fat milk and two sugars.   ‘Case Histories’ by Kate Atkinson [UK: Black Swan] How would other fictional characters behave, if they were real? Mattie Ross in ‘True Grit’ Sarah Burton in ‘South Riding’ Mikael Blomkvist in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo’ And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: If #books were real, Jackson Brodie would drink tea with sugar: CASE HISTORIES by Kate Atkinson via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-aJ
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Categories: Book Love and If books were real....

A book I love… Any Human Heart

I go back a long way with William Boyd to A Good Man in Africa and An Ice-Cream War. He is a consummate storyteller. But it was Brazzaville Beach that shocked me and made me a fan. I came late to Any Human Heart, I don’t know why. Logan Mountstuart is a fragile everyman who lives through a momentous century who gets involved in history but in off-key ways. I was locked into the story from the beginning with the three boys at school and their challenges to each other: a nifty device of differentiating the three characters. See my review of Sweet Caress. ‘Any Human Heart’ by William Boyd [UK: Penguin] And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: ANY HUMAN HEART by William Boyd #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-gf via @SandraDanby
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Categories: Book Love and On Writing.