Newest General Fiction Reviews

From TheBookbag
Jump to navigationJump to search


One Perfect Morning by Pamela Crane

3.5star.jpg Thrillers

A husband is about to have his throat cut in his own bed. To find out who - and why - we need to go back nine days and twenty years.

Mackenzie, Robin and Lily met when they all went to the same college in Monroeville, Pennsylvania and twenty years later they're still the best of friends. When they first met they called themselves the Spicier Girls as a nod to the famous girl band of the day. Lily would be Adventure Spice, Robin the Homemaker and Mackenzie - well, Mackenzie would be the supporting actress in her own life. She married Owen, her college sweetheart and they have a daughter, Aria, who's now fifteen-year-old. Full Review


The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce

5star.jpg Thrillers

Year six student Robin Spence isn't happy about having to start a new school. She's left the school she loved in New York and now she's going to Ashams in North London. It's very upmarket; places are rare as hens' teeth and as the pupils have all been there forever, they have their established groups. Robin's going to be an outsider. And why is this happening? Well, over a matter of a few days her parents' marriage fell apart. Andrew Spence is staying in New York - he works for a securities firm - and her mother, Sadie Roper, has come back to London to pick up her practice as a criminal barrister. That's easier said than done when you've been out of the market place - and the country - for more than ten years. Full Review


The Readers Room by Antoine Laurain and Emily Boyce, Jane Aitken and Polly Mackintosh (translators)

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

Violaine's publishing house has had a great success, and it was through the slush pile of unsolicited manuscripts. The three people who work in the Readers' Room to sift through what is ninety-nine per cent dross – plus the fourth advisor in her rarefied mansion up the road – all agreed the book would be a huge smash, and so it has proven. But there are several 'howevers' to that. As in, however – Violaine herself is not having life all her own way, for she has been involved in a near-fatal accident, and starts this book coming round from a coma. And, however – despite all urging, the author of the book has never once made themselves known to the publishers in person, and in fact, offered up a most peculiar statement-come-threat in their last email. What is going to befall Violaine, her memory, her staff – and how much is any of it due to the hit novel? And just where the heck did that come from? Full Review


Rodham: What if Hillary hadn't Married Bill? by Curtis Sittenfeld

4star.jpg General Fiction

I was tempted to read Rodham by the success of Curtis Sittenfeld's American Wife. That book wasn't marketed as being a portrait of Laura Bush, but the word thinly-veiled seemed to occur very regularly in reviews. How would Rodham compare? Unfortunately, there is a difference: relatively little was known about Laura Bush, which gave the book a freshness which the first third of Rodham lacks. We've all heard the stories, read the books - about Hillary and particularly about Bill. It's still an interesting concept, though: how would Hillary have fared if she hadn't subsumed her own ambitions into Bill's career, if she hadn't had to carry the burden of all Bill's baggage and if she hadn't left her own run at the presidency so late? Could she have done better without the Clinton surname? Full Review


Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

5star.jpg General Fiction

I've always believed that places and buildings absorb what happens within them and reflect it back; this is how we can tell that a sacred space is sacred. Cate Morris believes a similar thing, she believes that A house absorbs happiness, it blooms into the wallpaper, the wood of the window frames, the bricks: that's how it becomes a home. She is having these thoughts as she packs up her home. She has to leave. A combination of circumstances means that is not only redundant but also homeless. With nowhere else to go, she has called on her late husband's family for help. Just for a few weeks. Full Review


A Life Without End by Frederic Beigbeder and Frank Wynne (translator)

4star.jpg Literary Fiction

I looked at the calendar the other week, and disappointedly realised I have a birthday this year – I know, yet another one. It won't be one of the major numbers, but the time when I have the same number as Heinz varieties looms on the horizon. And then a few of the big 0-numbers, and if all goes well, I'll be an OBE. (Which of course stands for Over Bloody Eighty.) Now if that's the extent of my mid-life crisis, I guess I have to be happy. Our author here doesn't use that exact phrase, but he might be said to be living one. Determined to find out how to prolong life for as long as he wants – he would like to see 400 – he hops right into bed with the assistant to the first geneticist he interviews, and they end up with a child, which is at least a way of continuing the life of his genes, and a motive to keep ongoing. But how can he get to not flick the 'final way out' switch, especially when foie gras tastes so nice? Full Review


The Greenbecker Gambit by Ben Graff

5star.jpg General Fiction

I suppose the odd fleeting sense of loneliness is a price all truly successful people must pay for our gifts. I tell myself that I do so willingly.

Tennessee Greenbecker. Isn't that a name to conjure with? There are hints that it might not have been the name he was given at birth, but many of us have moved on, so far as names go, from the one we were originally saddled with. Greenbecker's life is one of constant reinvention. He tells us that he's the foremost chess player never to have been world champion, and it does seem that he has some considerable talent as far as chess goes. He's determined that he's going to fulfil what he sees as his destiny. He just needs to do some study to be able to beat the current players ranked at numbers one and two in the world. Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana will not stand in his way. Full Review


Daisy by J Paul Henderson

4star.jpg General Fiction

This is the story of Herod S. Pinkney, a rather unusual (yet somehow charming) man who is in search of a woman called Daisy, whom he first sees in an episode of Judge Judy on television and instantly falls in love with her! Rod is writing the novel of his quest, guided by an embittered ex-literary agent who is now clearing glasses in a pub for a living. Determined to find and meet Daisy, the book takes us through Rod's life, introduces us to his friends, and tells us of what happens in his quest for love. Full Review


The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

When we meet Professor Frank Hobbs and his wife, Maggie, Frank is playing chess against his computer, although not very successfully. Maggie, on the other hand, has just taken some pills - eight of them, in fact - and before long she will collapse. When Frank rings the emergency services in Oxford he has a bit of a problem. He has to admit that he and Maggie haven't actually spoken for a while. How long? Well, it's about six months since he spoke to Maggie and he can't really say if it's likely that Maggie has tried to take her own life. Full Review


You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

4star.jpg General Fiction

Eccentric, isolated romance novelist Cassandra Tipp has been missing for a year and has been pronounced legally dead by her lawyers. Her will instructs her niece and nephew to enter her home and find the key to their inheritance in an old manuscript left in her office: the last story she'll ever tell. Full Review


Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

4star.jpg Teens

We might give it our all and crash and burn. But we might win. We might actually change things. And that maybe makes it still worth going for, don't you think? Jaime has been spending his summer helping his cousin with campaigning in time for a special election. When his mother encourages him to go canvassing, he can't think of anything worse. However, Jaime has always wanted to be a politician and decides there is no time like the present to conquer his fear of speaking to the public. Maya is a Pakistani-American Muslim girl who is having the worst summer of her life. Her parents are going through a separation, she has zero plans for the summer to help take her mind off things and her only close friend is permanently busy. To help occupy her, her parents offer to buy her a car if she agrees to go canvassing. The pair could possibly be the worst canvassing duo in history, as neither of them really want to be there, but as the campaign goes on they discover that they care, a lot, about the election - and maybe even about each other? Full Review


A Key to Treehouse Living by Elliot Reed

4star.jpg General Fiction

This is the story of a young boy, William Tyce, who is being raised by his uncle after the death of his mother and his father's abandonment. However, it isn't told in the usual narrative way. Instead, the book is made up of glossary entries, written by William, as a way of describing certain events, situations and emotions. It runs alphabetically, starting with ABSENCE, then moving to ALPHABETICAL ORDER. As I began to read I did find myself thinking 'what on earth?!' but I soon grew used to the style, and was instead caught up in William's story. Full Review


What if They Knew by T R Hendrick

4star.jpg General Fiction

It's 2025. Underneath a lodge in the Blue Mountain resort in Pennsylvania, is a secret facility. Here, Dr Benton and his team are making some critical scientific advances on behalf of the Benefactor, their anonymous funder. Already, the team have succeeded in teleporting small primates from one place to another. But, unbeknownst to the Benefactor, Dr Benton has also coded for another type of teleportation altogether - travel through time. And he's ready to test. If successful, Benton has a very specific use for his technology in mind Full Review


The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H G Parry

4star.jpg General Fiction

Brothers Rob and Charley have struggled to see eye to eye for years - Rob a sensible lawyer who exists in the "normal" world - and Charley a man who is blessed with an ability he can't fully control - one which allows him to bring literary characters into the real world. After years of protecting Charley, Rob wants to discharge his duties and leave Charley to his own devices - but circumstances soon take choices out of both their hands. As literary characters begin to appear everywhere, it soon becomes clear that someone out there shares Charley's powers and intends to use them for nefarious gains. Rob and Charley must team up to stop the madness - in a battle to win before they, the characters and the world reach The End… Full Review


The Wondrous Apothecary by Mary E Martin

4star.jpg General Fiction

Those who have known Alexander Wainwright, the landscape artist famous for his Turner prize-winning The Hay Wagon, and Rinaldo, the renowned conceptual artist would say that they're chalk and cheese, if not sworn enemies. If you've watched the relationship, as has our narrator, art dealer Jamie Helmsworth, you'd have said that they were magnets, drawing and repulsing each other in equal measure. Wainwright was at the socially acceptable end of the artistic continuum, but with Rinaldo, it was all too obvious that there was but a fine dividing line between conceptual art and public nuisance. As time has worn on, he's frequently been brought to the attention of the police. On this latest occasion, we see him charged with arson and theft of The Hay Wagon. Full Review


Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

4star.jpg Teens

Pablo, a college drop-out, is working at a New York bodega. He's massively in debt, he's avoiding his mother, and he finds his joy in creating unusual snacks with random ingredients! Whilst working one evening, he's surprised to discover that the girl he is chatting with as he serves is a super-famous pop star and, as unlikely as it may seem, they start a relationship. With one character who is trying very hard not to be seen or noticed by anyone and the other who is seen and followed and hounded by everyone all over the world, it's an interesting clash as they come together. This isn't just a love story though, and actually it's really just Pab's story, about the journey he takes in his life via his meet-up with Leanna Smart. Full Review


Blood Sugar by Daniel Kraus

4star.jpg General Fiction

This is a difficult read. And not because of the dark subject matter – that'll come later – but because of the way in which it's told. This might put a lot of readers off, and to be honest it'd be hard to blame them. Kraus tells the story in a distinctive voice unlike any other I've read; an erratic dialect with heavy and frequent slang. The immediate effect is disorientating and distracting, and it takes some time to feel natural. It's a struggle to acclimatise to Jody's voice, to get acquainted with his mannerisms, but the story wouldn't be the same without it, and somehow it works. It shouldn't, but it does. Full Review


Be Careful Who You Marry by Lizzy Mumfrey

4star.jpg General Fiction

It was coming up to Halloween in 1987 and a group of sixth-form schoolgirls wondered what they would be doing when they were fifty. When you're only seventeen that seems positively ancient, but Liz was convinced that your entire life depends on who you marry. The only eligible boys were the Young Farmers and the idea of living in a farmhouse and having a couple of children called Will and Olly appealed to Charlotte, or perhaps William and Oliver if you were Elizabeth who was determined to marry the rather superior Patrick Shepley-Botham. The place to start their search was obviously the Young Farmers' Halloween disco that weekend. There was just one problem - there were too many Elizabeths in the class. Full Review


Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

Nothing Important Happened Today is a dark, twisted, difficult read. Stories about cults often are, but this is different; it's written with a sense of style that is quite unlike anything I've read before. I can't remember ever having read a novel with such an odd, distinctive narrative voice. While a slim and relatively small book, the slow-moving nature of the plot makes it feel far larger than its 276 pages. Full Review


The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy

When William Abbey fails to prevent the lynching of a young boy in 1880's South Africa, he finds himself cursed by the grieving mother. A naïve English Doctor, he slowly learns the weight of the curse upon him, as the shadow of the dead boy begins to follow him across the world. Never stopping, always growing – it crosses oceans and mountains in pursuit of William. As he finds himself unable to resist speaking the truths that he hears in others, he also learns that the dark shadow is deadly – and seeks to kill the one he loves the most… Full Review


The Triumph of the Spider Monkey by Joyce Carol Oates

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime, Thrillers, General Fiction

Bobby is an angry, damaged man - damage that came from being abandoned as a baby in a bus station locker, and then being thrown from one foster home or detention centre to another, never far from violence or abuse. Eager to succeed as a musician, he arrives in Hollywood to find his dream - but it soon becomes clear that his paranoid delusions and seething rage will enable a capacity for acts of extreme violence. Unpublished for 40 years, this edition of The Triumph of the Spider Monkey comes combined with a connected novella – Love, Careless Love. Full Review