Forthcoming Publications

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4 MARCH

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Review of

Two Wrongs by Mel McGrath

4.5star.jpg Thrillers

Sondra was on her way home after work when she saw a young woman looking as though she was going to jump from the Clifton suspension bridge. She talks to her, and Sondra finally persuades Satnam to call her best friend and flatmate, Nevis Smith. Nevis is unworldly and rather reserved - and she can't understand why Satnam hasn't shared her problems with her. She thought they shared everything. Satnam is taken to hospital and Nevis calls her mother, Honor. They've not been on good terms since a discovery Nevis made the previous summer but right now, Nevis needs her mother. Full Review

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Review of

The Khan by Saima Mir

5star.jpg Crime

Jia Khan has alway lived by the motto be twice as good as men and four times as good as white men. This has served her well in her rise through the criminal justice system and by the time she is called home for her sister's wedding after fifteen years in self-imposed exile, she is at the top of her game. Returning to the city of her birth, to old scars and fresh wounds, Jia must confront her past and reconcile her visions for the future with her sense of honour and duty. Full Review

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Review of

If You Kept a Record of Sins by Andrea Bajani and Elizabeth Harris (translator)

4.5star.jpg Literary Fiction

This was an incredibly readable novella, but one that left me a little conflicted. We start as our hero arrives at Bucharest airport, and before we even know his gender or the nature of the person he's addressing in his second person monologue of a narration, we see him picked up by his mother's chauffeur, and carted off to do all the necessary introductions before said mother is buried the following day. The mother was a businesswoman, who clearly left northern Italy and settled in Romania with her (night-time and business) partner, and feelings of abandonment are still strong. And so we flit from current (well, this came out in the original Italian in 2007, so moderately current) Bucharest, to the lad's childhood, and see just what he has to tell her as a private farewell address. Full Review

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Review of

Yolk by Mary H K Choi

5star.jpg Teens

Jayne Baek is a fashion student that's barely getting by. She drinks. She smokes. She makes bad decisions about the men she sleeps with. She's an all-round messy character; and that's her charm. June, on the other hand, is a complete contrast to Jayne. She's a typical older sister: she's smart, thinks she knows it all, and has a successful job. She constantly criticises Jayne for her life choices, and the two have barely kept in contact despite living in the same city for the past two years. This is until June finds out she's sick, and Jayne is the only person she can turn to. The two sisters have to come together and decide how far they'll go to save each other's lives – even if it means swapping identities. Full Review

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Review of

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

5star.jpg Thrillers

A fisherman told him once about the sea having two faces. You have to take them both, he said, the good and the bad, and never turn your back on either one of them.

In 1972, fifteen miles off the coast of Cornwall, three men disappeared without trace from The Maiden Rock Lighthouse in the frigid pause between Christmas and New Year. Jory Martin had taken out a relief keeper, the weather such that the boat [was] rocking and bobbing like a bath toy over the wavelets but they were unable to get any response from the Maiden Rock. It was broken into the next day, but there was no sign of the men. The table was set for a meal for two - and the clocks were stopped at 8.45. Contact with the light had not been possible as the radio was broken. No explanation was ever found for what happened to the men. Full Review

11 MARCH

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Review of

Call Me Red: A Shepherd's Journey by Hannah Jackson

4.5star.jpg Lifestyle

I want the image of a British farmer to simply be that of a person who is proudly employed in feeding the nation. I don't think that is too much to ask.

The stereotypical farmer was probably born on the land where his family have farmed for generations. He's probably grown up without giving much thought as to what he really wants to do: he knows that he'll be a farmer. It's not always the case though. Hannah Jackson was born and brought up on the Wirral: she'd never set foot on a commercial farm until she was twenty although she'd always had a deep love of animals. Her original intention was that she would become 'Dr Jackson, whale scientist' and she was well on her way to achieving this when her life changed on a family holiday to the Lake District. She saw a lamb being born and, although 'Hannah Jackson, farmer' lacked the kudos of her original intention, she knew that she wanted to be a shepherd. With the determination that you'll soon realise is an essential part of her, she set about achieving her ambition. Full Review

18 MARCH

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Review of

The Day the Screens Went Blank by Danny Wallace and Gemma Correll

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Stella and her family. They're just innocently trying to have a Sunday evening in together, watching a film – using three different screens to watch three different things, mind – when poof everything goes blank. And it's not just their home, but the entire south-western village of Mousehole, and not just that, either, but the whole country, if not world. Suddenly people are constantly on their phones – hoping they're first to get a screen back, and not what they were constantly doing on them before. Toasters can toast, but TVs cannot do the V part of their job, and no computer can show its computations. You might think this is going to be a social comedy about people stuck in such a Luddite experience against their will, but no. For the family finally remember Stella's grandma, and see if they can get across country to her. Hence this has to go down as a road-trip book. But not just that, a slapstick road-trip comedy. And more than that, too – for it's a slapstick, high-drama, high-octane road-trip comedy with oodles of cuddly heart that kids of all ages will love. Full Review

23 MARCH

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Review of

The Other Emily by Dean Koontz

4star.jpg Thrillers

Our hero David Thorne is an author, who shares his life between the two US coasts. It's the western coast we're concerned with, a place he has to return to, and a place he has to be able to leave. David lost contact with his partner there ten years ago, when she vanished from a remote road late at night. He's paying for contact with the man he thinks the only suspect, a lifer now, who went a bit Hannibal Lecter, and has a dozen and more unfound Jane Does on his record. David is trying to pry the connection between the murderer and his girl from the man's mind, but to no avail. He's also having a recharge ready for his next hit novel when into the restaurant walks the sheer spitting image, the very embodiment, the virtual resurrection, of his love. What is a man to do? Full Review

1 APRIL

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Review of

Remy: A book about believing in yourself by Mayuri Naidoo and Caroline Siegal

4star.jpg For Sharing

Remy is feeling miserable. He's let himself down again. The school bully Jayden, together with his sidekicks Ryan and Brandon, have been laughing at Remy, calling him names because he is short and has small eyes. They are mean but they are not stupid. They are careful to wind up Remy when nobody can see and then push him just that little bit further when the other kids are around. So, when Remy reacts, it looks as though he was the instigator. And then he gets into trouble at school and the teachers don't believe him when he tries to explain what happened. Full Review

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Review of

Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

This book lets us discover several people in different stages of life in the early 1970s, all vaguely connected. So we have a bullied half-cast boy (as he would have been called then), a girl in a humdrum job wanting to become a singer, and chiefly, Imelda, the third generation of Madame Burova, Tarot-Reader, Palmist and Clairvoyant, to use her family's sea-front booth. The singer, the scryer and the sufferer's mother will all become staff at a revamped holiday camp, but just before then we see Imelda fly solo for the first time in the family stall. We also see her on her last day, fifty years later, in possession of a pair of letters that will change everything for a woman called Billie. Just who is she, and who delivered the secrets about her to Imelda, and why did it have to remain a secret all this time? Full Review

14 APRIL

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Review of

Fifty Sounds by Polly Barton

4.5star.jpg Politics and Society

Where do I start? I could start with where Barton herself starts, with the question Why Japan? Japan has been on my radar for a while and if the world hadn't gone into melt-down I would have visited by now. I may get there later this year, but I am not hopeful. And like Barton, I don't know the answer to the question why Japan? She explains her feelings in respect of the question in the first essay, which is on the sound giro' – which she describes as being, among other things, the sound of every party where you have to introduce yourself. Full Review

15 APRIL

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Review of

Sistersong by Lucy Holland

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

Sistersong is part of a genre I particularly enjoy, the modern retelling of folk and fairy tales. These stories, for most of us, are a cornerstone of childhood and I relish seeing them retold with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective. If handled well these retellings give new life and new meaning to stories that are now becoming increasingly narrow and outdated, fleshing out characters, examining relationships and re-evaluating the role of women. Sistersong is a perfect example of a modern retelling done well, the plot is handled with care, keeping its archaic historical feel but allowing the characters to come to life, to feel real and human, most importantly they feel relatable in a modern world whilst still feeling appropriate for the pre-Saxon age they live in. This is a masterpiece of storytelling and I was captivated from beginning to end. Full Review

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Review of

The Last Girl by Goldy Moldavsky

5star.jpg teens

Rachel Chavez is the new girl at Manchester Prep. A school filled to the brim with the richest children in the city – and Rachel doesn't belong. She's not rich, she has no ties to some royal family in Serbia, and most of all, she spends the majority of her spare time watching horror movies as a source of comfort. She struggles to find anyone to connect with, until one day she stumbles upon the Mary Shelley Club. A secret society with one aim: pull off the best prank in true horror movie style, and unless someone screams, you have failed. Rachel becomes immediately engrossed in the competition. But as the pranks escalate, and Rachel finally feels like she has found her place in this school, things start to go wrong; a masked figure keeps showing up to the pranks, and people begin to get hurt. When the competition then takes a deadly turn, Rachel must figure out who this masked figure is before it's too late. Full Review

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Review of

The Source by Sarah Sultoon

2.5star.jpg Thrillers

1996. Essex. Thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Carly lives in a disenfranchised town dominated by a military base, struggling to care for her baby sister while her mum sleeps off another binge. When her squaddie brother brings food and treats, and offers an exclusive invitation to army parties, things start to look a little less bleak... Full Review

27 APRIL

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Review of

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses by Kristen O'Neal

5star.jpg Teens

Having recently been diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease, Priya has to come to terms with the fact that she may be in constant pain for the rest of her life. She joins Oof Ouch My Bones, an online support group where she talks to a bunch of other teens living with chronic illnesses. They talk about their troubles and help each other out, while also providing an escape to just joke and mess around. When Brigid—one of her closest friends—doesn't respond to the chat for a while, Priya becomes concerned. She decides to steal her parents' car and drive to Brigid's house to check up on her. But what she doesn't expect to find there is a werewolf in the basement – and for that werewolf to be the girl she has been talking to online for the past few months. Full Review

29 APRIL

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Review of

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

4.5star.jpg Women's Fiction

This re-telling of the myth of Ariadne and the Minotaur is interesting and unusual. Jennifer Saint presents the story in a way that is sympathetic to its origins but also appealing to a modern audience. Saint's narrative is told predominantly through the viewpoint of Ariadne, spanning from her childhood to her death, allowing the reader to really connect with Ariadne as a character in her own right rather than just a prop in the heroics of Theseus. Full Review

17 JUNE

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Review of

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

4star.jpg Thrillers

Joseph Knox, known for his series surrounding Detective Aidan Waits, has created a new genre with his latest novel, "True Crime Story". The story follows the disappearance of Zoe Nolan from her university halls of residence. Split into four parts, the reader is taken through the life and disappearance of Zoe through the eyes of her twin sister, other family, friends and professionals, such as the police. The various accounts help the reader get to know Zoe, or at least the Zoe she presented to others. However, the twists and turns at the end of each chapter leave you shocked, confused and unsure of what is true or fabricated. Whose accounts can we trust? Full Review

24 JUNE

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Review of

The Disappearing Act by Catherine Steadman

4.5star.jpg Thrillers

British actress Mia Eliot is on the cusp of success. Great success. If the rumours are true, award season is going to treat her well, acknowledging her for her latest, critically acclaimed production. She's going places but so, unfortunately, is her partner. And the places he's going take him towards lies, deceit and a pretty young thing in the form of his new co-star. It's a good time for Mia to escape, and pilot season in LA provides just the excuse. Full Review

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