Forthcoming Publications

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Review of

The Weight of Loss by Sally Oliver

4star.jpg Literary Fiction

Marianne is grieving. Traumatised after the death of her sister, she awakes to find strange, thick black hairs sprouting from the bones of her spine which steadily increase in size and volume. Her GP, diagnosing the odd phenomenon as a physical reaction to her grief, recommends she go to stay at Nede, an experimental new treatment centre in Wales. Yet something strange is happening to Marianne and the other patients at Nede: a metamorphosis of a kind. As Marianne's memories threaten to overwhelm her, Nede offers her release from this cycle of memory and pain—but only at a terrible price: that of identity itself. Full Review


Review of

Stitched Up by Steve Cole

5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Twelve-year-old Hanh wanted to be a fashion designer. Life in the rural village where she lived with her family was happy, if not prosperous, so when the smartly-dressed man and woman came to the village to offer Hahn a job in Hanoi it was an opportunity not to be missed. Some money changed hands and Hanh was on the mini-bus to Hanoi. Only, Hanh and the other girls were not going to work in a shop, they were to work in virtual slavery in an illegal garment factory. You know those jeans you really wanted: the ones with intricate embroidery and beading on the legs? The ones with the artfully-placed rips and distressed seams that felt so soft when you touched them? It's quite possible that Hanh and her co-workers made them. Full Review


Review of

Looking for Emily by Fiona Longmuir

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Lily. She and her mother have just moved from a city to a tiny seaside town called Edge, and everyone from said mother to her teacher are making demands of Lily that she make new friends. It turns out that she doesn't have any say in the matter, for while pretending when phoning home that she was with someone called Emily, she is unaware her neighbour, Sam, is just about to make herself known, and in a big way. But where does Emily come from? Well, Lily used that name because of what she'd just stumbled into – a mysterious collection of the most mundane objects, in some converted houses behind a most unassuming door, in a place calling itself 'The Museum of Emily'. Sam is completely unaware of this 'museum', too, leaving the two girls to make sure they leave no stone unturned in finding what's behind the intrigue... Full Review



Review of

To Kill a Troubadour (A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel) by Martin Walker

4.5star.jpg Crime

Nobody knows what the truth is any more.

Bruno Courrèges is the police chief for St Denis and much of the Vézère valley and works closely with Commissaire Jean-Jaques Jalipeau (known as 'JJ'), the head of detectives for the départment of the Dordogne. They're not just policemen - they're both deeply committed to the well-being and prosperity of this most beautiful part of France. The discovery of an old, stolen Peugeot, crashed and abandoned in a ditch wouldn't normally have worried them so much had it not been for the strange bullet, with Russian letters stamped on the base, which they found in the car. Oh, and there was a golf ball too, which didn't belong to the owner of the car. A golf bag would be a good place to hide a sniper's weapon. Was there going to be an attempt to kill someone, or were the detectives being pushed in a certain direction? Full Review


Review of

Meredith Alone by Claire Alexander

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

When we first meet Meredith Maggs it's Wednesday 14 November 2018 and she's not left her home for 1,214 days. She'd like to: in fact, she so nearly does. Her outdoor clothes are on and she's even considered which shoes to wear if she's going to catch her train. Then, she can't. She simply can't force herself to leave the safety of her home. She's fortunate that she has a good friend, Sadie, who visits regularly with her two children, James and Matilda. Sadie's a cardiac nurse and full of sound common sense. In fact it was Sadie who gave Meredith her cat, Fred. Groceries are online deliveries and there's also an internet-based support group where you'll find Meredith as JIGSAWGIRL, so you can guess what she does in her spare time. Then Tom McDermott arrives. He's from Holding Hands, a charity which supports people with problems such as Meredith's. Full Review


Review of

The Truth About Lisa Jewell by Will Brooker

5star.jpg Biography

Meet Lisa Jewell, one of the most successful British authors I've never knowingly read. Now meet Will Brooker, one of the thousands of less successful authors I quite confidently never have read. This book starts with the two meeting each other, as well, and shows how 2021 drew the two closer and closer together. The meeting was some unspecified combination, it seems, of her anecdote about cup cakes, the words of her latest book she was reciting, and her being in a black lace mini-dress with gold brocade (certainly a get-up never commonly worn at the author events I get to attend), but pulled Brooker, a professor of cultural studies who has swallowed Roland Barthes, down the rabbit-hole that is Jewell's diverse output. Brooker decides he'd like nothing more than to follow her through a year in the published author's life, working to make a success of the latest title, and struggling with the next in line. Jewell, due diligence appropriately done, agrees. And this is the result. Full Review



Review of

Tomato Love: 44 Mouthwatering Recipes for Salads, Sauces, Stews, and More by Joy Howard

4star.jpg Cookery

Think of it as no-whining dining.

We know it's a fruit rather than a vegetable but the fact that so many people get confused just goes to show how versatile the tomato is. Then there are all the different types, not to mention the cultivars - and you begin to understand why Joy Howard says that she hasn't met one she didn't love. I'd argue with her there - I have no affection for the ones you find in the supermarket next to the ones labelled 'grown for flavour' to distinguish them from the ones that have obviously just been grown for profit. Personally, I'd prefer a tin of tomatoes to those - and Howard makes good use of these. She's not at all precious if you get the taste. Full Review



Review of

Tasting Sunlight by Ewald Arenz and Rachel Ward (translator)

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Sally is a teenager who has run away from an anorexia treatment clinic. She just wants space, and for people to stop questioning her, tiptoeing around her, and trying to fix her without ever truly understanding her. She finds herself on some farmland with a woman called Liss who is in her forties and seems to live alone. Liss is unlike any other adult Sally has ever met. She just accepts Sally as she is, giving her a room to sleep in, and the space to just be. As they work together on the farm, a closeness develops between them, becoming a beautiful, powerful friendship. Full Review


Review of

The Wilderness Cure by Mo Wilde

5star.jpg Lifestyle

It had been on the cards for a while but it was the week-long consumer binge which pushed Mo Wilde into beginning her year of eating only wild food. The end of November, particularly in Central Scotland was perhaps not the best time to start, in a world where the normal sores had been exacerbated by climate change, Brexit and a pandemic. Wilde had a few advantages: the area around her was a known habitat with a variety of terrains. She had electricity which allowed her to run a fridge, freezer and dehydrator. She had a car - and fuel. Most importantly, she had shelter: this was not a plan to live wild just to live off its produce. Full Review

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