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Hello from The Bookbag, a book review site, featuring books from all the many walks of literary life - [[:Category:Fiction|fiction]], [[:Category:Biography|biography]], [[:Category:Crime|crime]], [[:Category:Cookery|cookery]] and anything else that takes our fancy. At Bookbag Towers the bookbag sits at the side of the desk. It's the bag we take to the library and the bookshop. Sometimes it holds the latest releases, but at other times there'll be old favourites, books for the children, books for the home. They're sometimes our own books or books from the local library. They're often books sent to us by publishers and we promise to tell you exactly what we think about them. You might not want to read through a full review, so we'll give you a quick review which summarises what we felt about the book and tells you whether or not we think you should buy or borrow it. There are also lots of author [[:Category:Interviews|interviews]], and all sorts of [[:Category:Lists|top tens]] - all of which you can find on our [[Features]] page.
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<metadesc>Book review site, with books from most walks of literary life; fiction, biography, crime, cookery and children's books plus author interviews and top tens.</metadesc>
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<h1 id="mf-title">The Bookbag</h1>
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Hello from The Bookbag, a site featuring books from all the many walks of literary life - [[:Category:Fiction|fiction]], [[:Category:Biography|biography]], [[:Category:Crime|crime]], [[:Category:Cookery|cookery]] and anything else that takes our fancy. At Bookbag Towers the bookbag sits at the side of the desk. It's the bag we take to the library, the charity shop and the bookshop. Sometimes it holds the latest releases, but at other times there'll be old favourites, books for the children, books for the home. They're sometimes our own books or books from the local library. They're often books sent to us by publishers and we promise to tell you exactly what we think about them. You might not want to read through a full review, so we'll give you a quick review which summarises what we felt about the book and tells you whether or not we think you should buy or borrow it. There are also lots of [[:Category:Interviews|author interviews]], and all sorts of [[:Category:Lists|top tens]] - all of which you can find on our [[features]] page. If you're stuck for something to read, check out the [[Book Recommendations|recommendations]] page.
  
There are currently '''{{PAGESINCATEGORY:Reviews}}''' reviews on the site.
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There are currently '''{{PAGESINCATEGORY:Reviews}}''' reviews at TheBookbag.
  
Want to find out more [[About Us|about us]]?
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Want to find out more [[About Us|about us]]? __NOTOC__
  
==New Reviews==
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==Reviews of the Best New Books==
'''For new reviews by genre [[:Category:New Reviews|click here]].'''
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'''For new features [[Features|click here]].'''
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'''Read [[:Category:New Reviews|new reviews by category]]. '''<br>
__NOTOC__
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{{newreview
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|author=Stephen Baker
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|title=They've Got Your Number
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|rating=4.5
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|genre=Popular Science
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|summary=If you are in the slightest bit paranoid, worry that ''Big Brother'' is always watching or like to believe that you are not a number, but a free man (or woman), then this may not be the book for you, as it will do nothing to dispel any of those worries. If, on the other hand, you think 'the mathematical modelling of humanity' sounds like one of the sexiest things ever, and are chomping at the bit to learn more about it, then you might well be interested in what Business Week journalist Baker has to say.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0099507021</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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'''Read [[:Category:Features|the latest features]].''' <!-- INSERT NEW REVIEWS BELOW HERE-->
|author=Rebecca Tope
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{{Frontpage
|title=Fear in the Cotswolds
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|isbn=1780724047
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|title=A Dictionary of Interesting and Important Dogs
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|author=Peter J Conradi
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
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|genre=Pets
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|summary=I struggle to resist a book about dogs, but I did wonder why this one was so ''thin'': given that I've never encountered a dog who wasn't interesting or important - and probably both, I was expecting a massive tome.  But ''A Dictionary of Interesting and Important Dogs'' is actually ''a rich compendium of the world's most significant and beloved dogs'' and it's certainly a rich treasure trove.  We begin with Peter J Conradi's four collies: Cloudy, Sky. Bradley and Max.  They're consecutive rather than simultaneous dogs, but what comes over is Conradi's love for each and every one of them.  I knew that I was in safe hands.
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=1785769294
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|title=Man at the Window (Detective Cardilini)
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|author=Robert Jeffreys
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|rating=4.5
 
|genre=Crime
 
|genre=Crime
|summary=Thea Osborne is a house sitter by professionWhen people go away she moves into their homes and looks after their animals and the property.  This time it's winter and she's spending a month in the Cotswold village of HampnettIt wouldn't be a job for all of us but Thea delights in getting to know the local people and the areaIn the past she's also been involved with the police in solving various cases but it looks as though that might have come to an end as the relationship she had with DS Phil Hollis has crumbledFor the first time Thea feels like an outsider – and a foolish one - when she finds footsteps in the snow which lead to a body in a nearby field.  When the police finally arrive the body has disappeared and the police obviously wonder if she's imagined it all.
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|summary=It's when we read that a young boy is creeping reluctantly to a teacher's bedroom one October night that we realise something is badly wrongNowadays you ''might'' hope that something would be done about it fairly quickly but this was 1965 and child abuse was generally regarded as malicious mischief on the part of the childThe boy would be safe that night though - albeit in the most horrific fashionWhen he reached Captain Edmund's bedroom he found the man dead on the floor, the top of his skull missingThe school's initial reaction was that this was a dreadful accident: there had been a cull of kangaroos in some nearby fields and it was obviously a stray bullet which had killed the Captain.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0749007478</amazonuk>
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}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1786695227
|author=Tad Tuleja
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|title=Invisible in a Bright Light
|title=A Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases
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|author=Sally Gardner
|rating=3
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|rating=4.5
|genre=Home and Family
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|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=Take a look at the cover design of this book, and you'd be mistaken for thinking this was a trivia compendium for all those foreign words that have taken part in our English language since whenever they crossed over from their original homes. But the title is definitely honest, for this is a dictionary book first, for reference, and a browser for the trivia buff second.
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|summary=The beginning of this excellent story will leave the reader more than a little confused: who is the man in the green suit, what is the Reckoning, and why are rows of people in a cave? But stick with it – Ms Gardner is very cleverly letting us experience the same disorientation as our heroine. We watch in dismay as the strange man, who seems to have no eyes, does his best to persuade her to answer his questions. But for some reason Celeste, despite her bewilderment, remains wary and gives nothing away.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0709089562</amazonuk>
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1912374854
|author=Anne Rice
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|title=Violet
|title=Angel Time
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|author=S J I Holliday
|rating=2.5
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|rating=3.5
|genre=General Fiction
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|genre=Thrillers
|summary=Toby O'Dare is an extremely efficient hit man with a passion for music, history and playing his beloved lute. He's also something of a lost soul having turned his back on God many years ago. One day while on a 'job' he is visited by an Angel who offers him a chance at redemption. Toby agrees to become the Angel's human instrument and help save lives rather than take them. He is sent on an assignment to help a Jewish couple accused of murder in 13th Century England.
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|summary=I've never been but understand that travelling is all about meeting new people and forming instantaneous bonds with people in often chance situations. Well that's exactly what happens when the two main/only characters meet in a travel agency in Beijing - Carrie is unsuccessfully trying to get a refund on an extra ticket for the Trans-Siberian train and Violet is trying to unsuccessfully buy a ticket for the same sold-out journey. As the two team up, travelling through Mongolia, Serbia and into Russia, it could've been the start of a beautiful friendship but this a thriller after all so it quickly becomes a tale of obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0701178140</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1912374838
|author=Ian Mortimer
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|title=Nothing Important Happened Today
|title=1415: Henry V's Year of Glory
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|author=Will Carver
|rating=5
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|genre=History
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|summary=The medieval, in fact time-honoured, view of King Henry V as one of England's greatest heroes was propagated though not originated by Shakespeare, and again more recently to some extent by Olivier's portrayal in film.  At least one historian has called him ''the greatest man that ever ruled England''.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0224079921</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Deborah Gregory
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|title=Dancing With The Dead
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|rating=3
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|genre=Literary Fiction
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|summary=I wanted to read ''Dancing with the Dead'', because I'm interested in family history. The blurb on the back of the book also mentioned Gill – our heroine of the piece – was moving from Bristol (my current home) to Lincolnshire (where I was born and brought up). I felt with all these links, the novel could not fail to interest me – but this was not the case.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1904529305</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Miss Read
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|title=Christmas at Thrush Green
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|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Women's Fiction
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|genre=General Fiction
|summary=Set in the rural village of Thrush Green, this book is the latest in a series surrounding familiar characters. There is the feisty Ella Bembridge, who is finally having to admit that old age is creeping up as her eyesight fails. Friends such as Dimity and Charles Henstock are concerned about her, but she refuses to accept any help. Albert Piggott has decided it's time to retire now that his wife, Nelly, is a successful cafe owner and can afford to take care of him! And relative newcomer Phil Hurst and her husband are arranging the local nativity play, despite a number of set-backs. Will everything be in place for Christmas? And will independent Ella make a decision about her future?
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|summary=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.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1409101592</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn= williamabbey
|author=Matt and Dave
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|title=The Pursuit of William Abbey
|title=Yuck's Robotic Bottom
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|author=Claire North
|rating=4
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|rating=3.5
|genre=Confident Readers
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|genre=Paranormal
|summary=It's concerned me for a while that it's relatively easy to pick up early readers for girls – princesses, magic soft toys, mermaids and pets abound – but there's a much smaller choice for boys. It's important too with early readers that the content is ''interesting'' and reading becomes more than just something which you ''have'' to do at school and moves into being fun.  Matt and Dave have found the answer in Yuck.
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|summary=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…
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847382991</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1643785036
|author=John E Smelcer
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|title=The Wondrous Apothecary
|title=The Great Death
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|author=Mary E Martin
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
 
|genre=General Fiction
 
|genre=General Fiction
|summary='As Western Europeans settled Alaska, they brought with them diseases against which the indigenous people had no natural immunity. At the beginning of the twentieth century, fully two thirds of all Alaska natives perished from a pandemic of measles, smallpox, and influenza. No community was spared. In most cases, half of a village's population died within a week. In some cases, there were no survivors. It was the end of an ancient way of life. Natives still refer to the dreadful period as the Great Death.'
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|summary=Those who have known Alexander Wainwright, the landscape artist famous for his Turner prize winning ''The Hay Wagon'', and Rinaldo, 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''.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1842709194</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|author=Mary H.K. Choi
|author=Maxine Barry
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|title=Permanent Record
|title=River Deep
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|rating=3.5
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|genre=Women's Fiction
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|summary=Two young women both have a love of the Thames. Melisande Ray's beloved hotel, the Ray of Sunshine is on the river bank.  It's here that guests come who want to be pampered and looked after in the way that only the best hotels can do well, but when Wendell James checks in to the hotel it's not pampering he's looking for.  He's buying a piece of land not far from the Ray of Sunshine and he's sussing out the competition.  There's something personal in there too – if his new hotel means that the Ray of Sunshine goes under then that would be an added bonus.  There's just a slight doubt in his mind when a red-haired maid catches his eye.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0709088930</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Joe Gores
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|title=Spade and Archer
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|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Crime
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|genre=Teens
|summary=Sam Spade decides, bravely, to set up his one-man detective agencyIt's the 1920s in San Francisco so we have the prohibition era and all that that entails. Many locals, of course, choose to disobey the law, stick two fingers up, so to speak and as a result there's lots of bootleg liquor.
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|summary=Pablo, a college drop-out, is working at a New York bodegaHe'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 relationshipWith 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 togetherThis 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.
   
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|isbn=0349003459
Straight away, it's evident that Sam is a man of few wordsHe has the mannerisms of a cat - stealthy, quick on his feet.  He's also a compulsive chain-smoker, but then again, most people were.  In that era, holding a cigarette was an elegant, almost essential accessory.  How times have changed.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>140911323X</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1609809319
|author=Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark
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|title=Long-Haired Cat-Boy Cub
|title=The Best of Times
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|author=Etgar Keret, Aviel Basil and Sondra Silverston (translator)
|rating=4.5
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|rating=5
 
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=Most children enjoy a good traditional tale and this lovely book by Michael Morpurgo seems to have all the right ingredients – a handsome prince and a beautiful princess who fall in love, get married and live happily ever after. Or do they? Sadly, not long after Prince Frederico marries the lovely Princess Serafina, she becomes very sad. Nobody knows what has caused such great sadness, but poor Prince Frederico is desperate to find a cure for his wife's misery. He tries everything in his power and eventually decides to offer his kingdom to anyone who can make her happy again before she dies of a broken heart. Lots of people come to the palace to try and help but in the end the solution is a simple one provided by some very kind travellers.
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|summary=One day a boy is in the zoo with his father, when the man gets called away on urgent business.  The boy isn't hustled into a cab and taken home first, though, no – he's given hot dog money, and taxi money, and told to just stick around on his own and enjoy himself.  Well, it's no surprise that the orphan-for-an-afternoon sensation the lad feels doesn't make him happy, and so he thinks of a species name for himself, and curls himself up into an empty cage, as if he were a new exhibit. And it's then the drama begins…
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1405232552</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1785785516
|author=Shirley Jackson
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|title=Fucking Good Manners
|title=We Have Always Lived In The Castle
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|author=Simon Griffin
|rating=4.5
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|genre=Literary Fiction
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|summary=Mary Katherine Blackwood, also known as Merricat, is eighteen, and lives with her older sister Constance in the family home where 'Blackwoods had always lived'. Merricat quickly draws the reader into her world by a series of matter of fact but bizarre statements – her likes include her sister and death cap mushrooms, and everyone else in her family is dead. The wealthy Blackwood family has always kept the house 'steady against the world', shutting out other people, and they live near a village. Merricat believes that 'The people of the village have always hated us', and tells us that she hates them too.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0141191457</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Simon Weston
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|title=Nelson to the Rescue
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|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Confident Readers
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|genre=Lifestyle
|summary=Nelson used to pull Mike the Milk's milk float, but he has now retiredHe lives in the stable at the back of the dairy along with a couple of tricky rats, Rhodri and Rhys, a pigeon who has no sense of direction, a frog who thinks he's a secret agent spy and an old racehorse who spends most of his time sleepingRhodri and Rhys find a mysterious message on Mike's fridge and the animals believe that Mike has been invited to Buckingham Palace to receive an MBE. Somehow our hero, Nelson, finds himself travelling down to London, pulling a ceremonial coach for Prince Charles as well as giving a TV interview about his experience.
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|summary=Manners maketh man, they sayIt certainly makes life easier if everybody abides by a set of conventions, some of which are ages old and other which have evolved over time.  Manners are not about how much to tip or how you should behave if you get an invitation to Buckingham Palace, they have nothing to do with class or financial status: they're about getting the basics right before we try to deal with more difficult mattersOf course we all have more relaxed manners when we're with family and friends, but it's best if we learn to distinguish between our public and private lives and to act appropriately''Fucking Good Manners'' aims to help us on the way.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1848510454</amazonuk>
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}}{{newreview
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|author=Elizabeth Baines
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|title=Too Many Magpies
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|rating=4
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|genre=Literary Fiction
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|summary=Becoming a mother brings a whole new world of fear into your life.  Suddenly you see the danger in every situation, and fear and trepidation can be become your constant companions.  In this novella, we meet a young mother who is married to a logical scientistThey attempt to control their children's futures on a scientific basis, growing their own fruit and vegetables, giving their children nothing sugary, eating no eggs for a whole year until any adverse affects from them were disproved.  But after meeting with an enigmatic stranger our young mother begins to struggle as he introduces ideas of freedom into her worldShe begins an affair with him, begins to let things slip at home and with the children, yet finds she is still continuously haunted by the sense of an ever-present danger.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1844717216</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=0008324859
|author=Katherine May
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|title=Fowl Twins
|title=Burning Out
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|author=Eoin Colfer
|rating=4
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|genre=Literary Fiction
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|summary=Violet has it all – a well-paid job, and a luxurious apartment all to herself. Everything is catered for; her meals, her clothes, and her health are all how she would like them to be. But the life she is leading is beginning to take its toll. On the verge of snapping, a drained and somewhat out-of-sorts Violet, withdraws back to her home town. There, she meets someone familiar, a ghost reminding her of how she used to be ten years earlier – a young carefree girl, full of life. Only this isn't a ghost, but a girl living the life Violet once lived – exactly the same. Haunted by the past Violet realizes history is repeating itself and is convinced events will happen again. Events that will in turn haunt the girl.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1906727392</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Amanda Downum
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|title=The Drowning City
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|rating=3.5
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|genre=Fantasy
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|summary=In a nutshell, you're reading this because you're wondering whether The Drowning City is good, bad or mediocre. You've probably glanced at the rating and guessed the latter.  I'm afraid it's not quite that simple. This is a debut that provokes decidedly mixed feelings.  I started off convinced that I was going to love this book. The cover art is effortlessly cool, the premise intriguing, the characters laden with potential for greatness and the backdrop is certainly evocative.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1841498149</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Tove Jansson
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|title=The True Deceiver
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|rating=5
 
|rating=5
|genre=Literary Fiction
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|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=Most people of my age will have come across Jansson's work unwittingly, via the televised renditions of the Moomin tales. The readers amongst us would then have been entranced a few years ago to discover that at last Thomas Teal had set about the translation into English, first of The Summer Book and then of a collection of short stories which were published as 'A Winter Book'.  
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|summary=Relax, everyone – our old friend Artemis may be off planet, but the baddies aren't getting away with skulduggery any time soon because they now have not one but two members of the Fowl family to contend with. Those cute little twins are now eleven (and, frankly, cute no longer) and in this, their first independent adventure, they meet a troll and without even trying manage to make two deadly enemies: a nobleman obsessed with immortality whatever the cost (to other people), and an unusual interrogator-nun. The boys are chased, kidnapped, arrested and even killed (though not for long), all with the help of one trainee fairy.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0954899571</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1472255798
|author=Daniel Kehlmann
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|title=The Bad Fire (Bob Skinner)
|title=Me and Kaminski
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|author=Quintin Jardine
 
|rating=4.5
 
|rating=4.5
|genre=Literary Fiction
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|genre=Crime
|summary=After reviewing several long books, it's been refreshing to read such a fluent yet pared down story as 'Kaminski and Me'. In it, Sebastian Zollner, the obnoxious main character, shoves himself forward in a desperate attempt to research a best seller which will re-ignite his career as an art critic. Kaminski, the proposed subject, was a fashionable painter long ago, but now, ancient and chronically ill, has virtually slid into oblivion.  So the second-rate writer is on a loser unless he can dig up some juicy details to hook the art world and general public.
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|summary=Nine years ago local councillor Marcia Brown took her own life after being accused of shoplifting from a local supermarket. It's always been assumed that she couldn't live with the shame. People were surprised that she committed suicide just before the court case when she had been adamant that she would fight to clear her name. She said that she'd been set up because she was hot on the trail of corruption in the council. Her ex-husband has contacted Alex Skinner, Solicitor Advocate as well as retired Police Constable Bob Skinner's daughter, and asked that she look into clearing Brown's name: it's something which he feels that he has to do in memory of his son who was murdered recently.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847249892</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
  
{{newreview
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{{Frontpage
|author=Louis Barfe
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|isbn=B07X6GLQ3Q
|title=Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment
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|title=See Them Run
 +
|author=Marion Todd
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Entertainment
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|genre=Crime
|summary=Light entertainment is often looked down upon, as if it's a bit naff, tepid and ignorable. What's often forgotten is that it's hugely popular, enjoyable and much of it is of the highest quality. Louis Barfe's Turned Out Nice Again tells the complete story of British light entertainment.
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|summary=D I Clare Mackay is still relatively new to St Andrew's: she was previously at Maryhill Rd station in Glasgow.  She's left quite a lot behind including a relationship that wasn't going anywhere after Tom failed to support her when the chips were down. She also left a nasty situation, of her own making but not her fault, and St Andrew's is a fresh start.  Not long into the job she's faced with a hit and run death and there's little doubt that it wasn't accidental - the card with the number five suggests murder. Andy Robb was married to Sandra.  You could say that they had an open marriage but there seemed to be a lot of the 'open' and very little of the 'marriage' left - on both sides, but would she want him dead?
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1843543818</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 +
{{Frontpage
 +
|isbn=1786540991
 +
|title=The Impossible Boy
 +
|author=Ben Brooks
 +
|rating=4.5
 +
|genre=Confident Readers
 +
|summary=''Oleg and Emma entered their den to find a cardboard spaceship standing where they usually sat. Slowly, the front door opened. Smoke billowed out. And out stepped a boy, dressed in a long coat with an even longer scarf, wound around his neck.''
  
{{newreview
 
|author=Jim Helmore and Karen Wall
 
|title=Oh No, Monster Tomato!
 
|rating=4
 
|genre=For Sharing
 
|summary=Marvin is entering the Great Grislygust Grow-Off, but just like him, his tomatoes aren't growing very big. He takes the only sensible course of action: he sings his tomatoes a song. The results are spectacular. Victory is surely within his grasp.
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>140524741X</amazonuk>
 
}}
 
  
{{newreview
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''"My name's Sebastian Cole," the boy said, "But you already know that."''
|author=Joseph Delaney
+
|title=The Spook's Stories: Witches
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|rating=4
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|genre=Teens
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|summary='Warning: Not to be read after dark,' are the only words on the back of ''The Spook's Stories'', and on the inside flap, 'The Times' warns us that this book is 'seriously scary'...
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The whole thing kicks-off relatively tamely, though, with a story about a young Spook (a sort of monster-hunter) who falls in love with a witch and is forced to bear the consequences when the witch's sister comes to stay and exhibits a taste for the neighbor-children.
+
And indeed they do. Ever since the summer, when their friend Sarah's mother had moved her away, Oleg and Emma have been unable to find a new friend to take her place.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0370329961</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1447281357
|author=Lisa Unger
+
|title=Salvation Lost
|title=Die For You
+
|author=Peter F Hamilton
|rating=3.5
+
|genre=Crime
+
|summary=Best-selling novelist Isabel Connelly is married to successful video game designer Marcus Raine. Or so she thinks. But when her husband fails to return from work, she realises something is wrong. Going to his office to try to find out what happens to him, she gets attacked and ends up in hospital, while his co-workers are killed. Things get worse for her, however, when investigating detective Grady Crowe reveals that Marcus Raine has been dead for several years, and the man she married was using a false identity. Infuriated by the betrayal, and the realisation that she's been living a lie for the past five years, Izzy takes matters into her own hands and sets out to find her husband and work out why he lied to her for so long. Ignoring police warnings, she delves deeper and deeper into a nasty underworld, and finds a tale which has its roots in Prague and rivals anything she could have plotted in one of her novels.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0099522179</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Lisa McMann
+
|title=Wake
+
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Teens
+
|genre=Science Fiction
|summary=Janie is seventeen and studying hard for college. She's also working lots of hours at a local nursing home to earn money for college as it's unlikely her alcoholic mother is going to provide much in the way of resources. College is Janie's only chance at a life better than the one she's lived so far and so you can't blame her for being so single-minded in the pursuit of her goal. Only one thing stands in her way...
+
|summary=In the twenty-third century, humanity is enjoying a comparative utopia. Yet life on Earth is about to change, forever. Feriton Kane's investigative team has discovered the worst threat ever to face mankind – and we've almost no time to fight back. The supposedly benign Olyix plan to harvest humanity, in order to carry us to their god at the end of the universe. And as their agents conclude schemes down on earth, vast warships converge above to gather this cargo. Some factions push for humanity to flee, to live in hiding amongst the stars – although only a chosen few would make it out in time. But others refuse to break before the storm. As disaster looms, animosities must be set aside to focus on just one goal: wiping this enemy from the face of creation. Even if it means preparing for a future this generation will never see.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847385036</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1471186393
|author=Jaclyn Moriarty
+
|title=Photographer of the Lost
|title=The Spell Book of Listen Taylor
+
|author=Caroline Scott
|rating=3.5
+
|genre=Teens
+
|summary=Listen Taylor's father has just moved in with his girlfriend and they are adopted into the Zing family, with all of its delightful eccentricities and unusual behaviour – the Zings meet every Friday night for dinner and then disappear into the garden shed to work on the 'Zing Family Secret'. Marbie Zing is terrified of doing something wrong and losing Nathaniel and Listen. Her sister Fancy is becoming increasingly disillusioned with her home life, and her daughter's year two teacher is coming to terms with a break up. The stories of these people come together to create a tale of life, love, and ultimately, what being part of a family means.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0330446363</amazonuk>
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}}
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+
{{newreview
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|author=F G Cottam
+
|title=The Magdalena Curse
+
|rating=2.5
+
|genre=Horror
+
|summary=Mark Hunter is the sort of father who would do anything for his son. After losing his wife and daughter in a tragic accident, his surviving son Adam has become his whole world. And Adam is an exceptional child – beautiful, incredibly smart and mature beyond his ten years – only recently he's been channelling the voices of the dead. Plagued by horrific dreams, able to speak Russian in the hours after he wakes, drawing occult symbols when he doodles, Hunter believes Adam to be possessed. Doctor Elizabeth Bancroft is sceptical, until she meets Adam, and witnesses the horrors the poor boy endures for herself.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0340980982</amazonuk>
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}}
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+
{{newreview
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|author=Jon Berkeley
+
|title=The Lightning Key (Circus Trilogy)
+
 
|rating=4.5
 
|rating=4.5
|genre=Confident Readers
+
|genre=Historical Fiction
|summary=I shall start with a word of adviceWhen you're being hounded by a circus master, and a magician, for the soul of a tiger that's contained in a tiger's egg that's contained in the brain of your teddy bear, and your best friend - a fallen angel - is trying her best to make sure the other angels do not turn on you in a big way - then you're probably living the third book in a fantasy trilogyStill - never mind, the angel's efforts will involve you entering a dream world of flight and cloud cities, the chase after your enemies will take you across the world to desert oases and back, and friends new and old will be on board to help.
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|summary=May 1921.  Edie receives a photograph through the post. There is no letter or note with it.  There is nothing written on the back of the photographIt is a picture of her husband, Francis.  Francis has been missing for four years.  Technically, he has been "missing, believed killed" but that is not something that a young widow can believeShe hangs on the word 'missing', disbelieving the word killed.  
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847384447</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1783784350
|author=Sue Townsend
+
|title=This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History
|title=Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years
+
|author=Esther Rutter
 
|rating=5
 
|rating=5
|genre=General Fiction
+
|genre=History
|summary=Adrian Mole is now 39¼ and living, quite literally, in a pigsty, sharing an all too thin party wall with his parents and working in a bookshop. It's not quite how life was supposed to turn out. As he spends his days wrestling his strong willed 5 year old Gracie into her school uniform, trying to reassure glamorous wife Daisy that life in the provinces is not as bad as she would like to believe, and desperately attempting to talk his mother out of her quest to appear on the vile ''Jeremy Kyle'' show, worrying over his increasingly frequent visits to the toilet is really the last thing he needs. And yet, the worst is still to come. Think a crumbling economy, redundancy, affairs, death, a family member challenging him in the novel writing stakes and a query over the big C – it's going to be a tough year for the Moles, and there's little that ol' Adrian can do except sit back and watch his life spin out of control around him.
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|summary=It was December and Esther Rutter was stuck in her office job, writing to people she'd never met and preparing spreadsheets. The job frustrated her and even her knitting did not soothe her mind.  January was going to be a time for making changes and she decided that she would travel the length and breadth of the British Isles with occasional forays abroad, discovering and telling the story of wool's history and how it had made and changed the landscape. She'd grown up on a sheep farm in Suffolk - '' a free range child on the farm'' - and learned to spin, knit and weave from her mother and her mother's friend.  This was in her blood.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0718153707</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1401286208
|author=Lauren Kate
+
|title=Black Canary: Ignite
|title=Fallen
+
|author=Meg Cabot and Cara McGee
|rating=4.5
+
|genre=Teens
+
|summary=A 17 year old girl at a new school meets a mysterious and impossibly good-looking boy, who she's immediately drawn to. He seems determined to either ignore her or be outright rude to her, until he saves her life, and the two of them end up drawn together. This isn't Stephenie Meyer's ''Twilight'', but it certainly has striking similarities.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0385738935</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
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|author=Gareth Hinds
+
|title=King Lear
+
|rating=3
+
|genre=Graphic Novels
+
|summary=Hound me out of town in a most appropriate manner, but I do not like King Lear.  For me, even as a trained actor, the language is too dense and rich, the set-up too archly unfeasible to create the great tragedy it's thought to be.  To my mind the acclaim and esteem in which it's held is only mirrored by its own over-long, over-blown blustering.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0763643440</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=Paul Theroux
+
|title=A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta
+
 
|rating=3.5
 
|rating=3.5
|genre=General Fiction
 
|summary=Set in India, familiar territory for Theroux, ''A Dead Hand'' tells the story of a travel writer suffering from writer's block (also known as 'dead hand') until a chance letter from an American ex-pat, the mysterious Mrs Unger, relating a story of a mystery of a dead body in a hotel leads him to release his creativity in very unexpected ways. The story is more about obsession and infatuation than it is about the mystery itself as the narrator falls under Mrs Unger's Tantric charms. But does she have more to hide than she's letting on?
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0241144639</amazonuk>
 
}}
 
 
{{newreview
 
|author=Toby Lester
 
|title=The Fourth Part of the World: The Epic Story of History's Greatest Map
 
|rating=4.5
 
|genre=History
 
|summary=In 2003 a map was bought for $10 million, the highest price ever paid publicly for a historical document, by the Library of Congress, where it is now on permanent public display.  No ordinary map, this is sometimes described as America's birth certificate.  It is the sole survivor of a thousand copies printed early in the 16th century, and was discovered by accident in some archives in a German castle in 1901.  The sale and story behind it intrigued Toby Lester so much that he was inspired to discover more, and this book is the result.
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1861978030</amazonuk>
 
}}
 
 
{{newreview
 
|author=Steven Lowe and Alan McArthur
 
|title=Is it Just Me or Has the Shit Hit the Fan?: Your Hilarious New Guide to Unremitting Global Misery
 
|rating=3
 
|genre=Humour
 
|summary=''The banks fell over like fat Labradors running over a wet kitchen floor.''  Surely that is the wackiest, most inappropriate simile for the credit crunch and all it has done for the world.  You won't get any such namby-pamby animal likenesses from these authors, instead with quite a potty mouth on them they will lambast the modern world, the entire banking system, all those who failed to see it coming, and those millions just seemingly waiting for us all to revert to high-interest, high-risk, high-lending capitalism, so they can get back on the expenses train, and back up the rich lists.
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847443656</amazonuk>
 
}}
 
 
{{newreview
 
|author=Andy Stanton
 
|title=What's For Dinner, Mr Gum?
 
|rating=4.5
 
 
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=As soon as heroine Polly turns her back, and leaves the town of Lamonic Bibber for a day at the seaside, Mr Gum falls out with his best friend, causing carnivorous carnage all over the place.  Meat is getting thrown around like it's going out of fashion, and we have to doubt whether Polly and her companions can ever utilise the power of love and put things to rights. Especially as this book does not contain a magic unicorn called Elizabeth.
+
|summary=Meet Dinah Lance. Frustrated that her policeman father will not allow her to try and follow in his footsteps, and seemingly lumbered with being a cheerleader at school, she is desperate to find her voice. But it's actually more a case of her voice finding her, as when she gets frustrated or plain dissed at school her vocal outcry can shatter glass better than any opera singer. You could almost call it a weapon, or a power. But in order for her to call herself a superhero, there has to be a whole path of steps for her to take – one of which will be into her past…
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1405248246</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1789017977
|author=Loose Women
+
|title=Ronnie and Hilda's Romance: Towards a New Life after World War II
|title=Here Come the Girls
+
|author=Wendy Williams
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Home and Family
+
|genre=History
|summary=This is the second volume by the panelists from that nice ITV series, ''Loose Women''. Just as promised on the cover, this book is an entertaining night with the girlsIt turns out that they're just like us. The faces are already familiar and even if you don't know them yet, with nine contributors, you'll soon find a like-minded woman behind one of the celebrity facesThe women are universally warm-hearted and supportive: there will be many a lonely woman who reads this book and feels as if she sat down with a group of friends for the evening.
+
|summary=Ronnie Williams was the son of Thomas Henry Williams (known as Harry) and Ethel WallThere's some doubt as to whether or not they were ever married or even Harry's birthdate: he claimed to have been born in 1863, but he was already many years older than Ethel and he might well have shaved a few years off his age.  For a while the family was quite well-to-do but disaster struck in the 1929 Depression and five-year-old Ronnie had to adjust to a very different lifestyleOne thing he did inherit from his father was his need to be well-turned-out and this would stay with him throughout his life.  He joined the army at eighteen in 1942.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1444700154</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1542015421
|author=Jean Ure
+
|title=The Royal Baths Murder
|title=Fortune Cookie
+
|author=J R Ellis
|rating=4.5
+
|rating=3.5
|genre=Confident Readers
+
|genre=Crime
|summary=Fudge Cassidy and the Cupcake kid are best friendsIf the names remind you of a certain film then you'd be spot on as that's where Fudge's father got the idea fromThey're actually chalk and cheese – Fudge is loud mouthed and opinionated and Cupcake is quiet and thoughtful – but the combination worksThey've just started at secondary school and Cupcake has rather a lot on her plate.  Her brother Joey has muscular dystrophy and his problems are becoming more obviousAdd to this that her father couldn't cope with the problems and he now has another family.  It's just Cupcake, Joey and her mother – and not a lot of money.
+
|summary=When Damian Penrose was murdered there was no shortage of suspects: he was a deeply unpleasant manIn fact the only surprising thing was that there wasn't more of a queue waiting to do the dirty deedWhat was a bit of a headline maker was that Penrose was a crime writer and that he was strangled in the midst of Harrogate's crime writing festivalHe went for a swim at the Royal Baths and never returned, his body being found by the receptionistDCI Jim Oldroyd was the man tasked with investigating the crime.  It would not be the only death, and it was only because of the quick actions of his sergeant, Andy Carter, that Oldroyd's was not one of them.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0007224621</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|author=Daniel Kraus
|author=Jenifer Roberts
+
|title=Blood Sugar
|title=The Madness of Queen Maria: The Remarkable Life of Maria I of Portugal
+
|rating=4.5
+
|genre=Biography
+
|summary=Born in 1734 in Lisbon, at that time the richest and most opulent city in Europe, Maria was destined to become the first female monarch in Portuguese history.  Married to her uncle Infante Pedro, seventeen years her senior, she had six children (outliving all but one of them), and became Queen in 1777.  A conscientious woman, she had the misfortune to be born in during the 'age of reason', when church and state were vying for supremacy.  Instinctively a supporter of the old religion, with a humanitarian approach to state affairs, she was no Queen Elizabeth, no Catherine the Great, and wore her crown rather reluctantly.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>095455891X</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=David Hughes
+
|title=Thomas Wogan is Dead
+
|rating=4.5
+
|genre=Graphic Novels
+
|summary=Well, with a title like that, need I bother with a plot summary?  A man has a day out in Morecambe, then the next thing he knows he's in the ultimate waiting room, with a strange array of animals (a bat, a toad, a sea urchin...), all waiting for... well, something.  Yup, as you didn't need telling, he's dead.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>095580888X</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=Dave Eggers
+
|title=The Wild Things
+
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
 
|genre=General Fiction
 
|genre=General Fiction
|summary=Meet Max. When I say he sometimes gets the wrong end of the stick about adults, or dislikes his mother's new boyfriend, or gets a bit feisty when he feels the need for revenge, I am certainly understating the facts. He is a bit of a rascal to say the least. But all that might change when he finds himself travelling to a strange land of roisterous animals, and ends up installed as their king.
+
|summary=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.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0241144221</amazonuk>
+
|isbn=1789091934
 
}}
 
}}

Revision as of 10:15, 17 November 2019

The Bookbag

Hello from The Bookbag, a site featuring books from all the many walks of literary life - fiction, biography, crime, cookery and anything else that takes our fancy. At Bookbag Towers the bookbag sits at the side of the desk. It's the bag we take to the library, the charity shop and the bookshop. Sometimes it holds the latest releases, but at other times there'll be old favourites, books for the children, books for the home. They're sometimes our own books or books from the local library. They're often books sent to us by publishers and we promise to tell you exactly what we think about them. You might not want to read through a full review, so we'll give you a quick review which summarises what we felt about the book and tells you whether or not we think you should buy or borrow it. There are also lots of author interviews, and all sorts of top tens - all of which you can find on our features page. If you're stuck for something to read, check out the recommendations page.

There are currently 15,319 reviews at TheBookbag.

Want to find out more about us?

Reviews of the Best New Books

Read new reviews by category.

Read the latest features.

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A Dictionary of Interesting and Important Dogs by Peter J Conradi

4star.jpg Pets

I struggle to resist a book about dogs, but I did wonder why this one was so thin: given that I've never encountered a dog who wasn't interesting or important - and probably both, I was expecting a massive tome. But A Dictionary of Interesting and Important Dogs is actually a rich compendium of the world's most significant and beloved dogs and it's certainly a rich treasure trove. We begin with Peter J Conradi's four collies: Cloudy, Sky. Bradley and Max. They're consecutive rather than simultaneous dogs, but what comes over is Conradi's love for each and every one of them. I knew that I was in safe hands. Full Review

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Man at the Window (Detective Cardilini) by Robert Jeffreys

4.5star.jpg Crime

It's when we read that a young boy is creeping reluctantly to a teacher's bedroom one October night that we realise something is badly wrong. Nowadays you might hope that something would be done about it fairly quickly but this was 1965 and child abuse was generally regarded as malicious mischief on the part of the child. The boy would be safe that night though - albeit in the most horrific fashion. When he reached Captain Edmund's bedroom he found the man dead on the floor, the top of his skull missing. The school's initial reaction was that this was a dreadful accident: there had been a cull of kangaroos in some nearby fields and it was obviously a stray bullet which had killed the Captain. Full Review

1786695227.jpg

Invisible in a Bright Light by Sally Gardner

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

The beginning of this excellent story will leave the reader more than a little confused: who is the man in the green suit, what is the Reckoning, and why are rows of people in a cave? But stick with it – Ms Gardner is very cleverly letting us experience the same disorientation as our heroine. We watch in dismay as the strange man, who seems to have no eyes, does his best to persuade her to answer his questions. But for some reason Celeste, despite her bewilderment, remains wary and gives nothing away. Full Review

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Violet by S J I Holliday

3.5star.jpg Thrillers

I've never been but understand that travelling is all about meeting new people and forming instantaneous bonds with people in often chance situations. Well that's exactly what happens when the two main/only characters meet in a travel agency in Beijing - Carrie is unsuccessfully trying to get a refund on an extra ticket for the Trans-Siberian train and Violet is trying to unsuccessfully buy a ticket for the same sold-out journey. As the two team up, travelling through Mongolia, Serbia and into Russia, it could've been the start of a beautiful friendship but this a thriller after all so it quickly becomes a tale of obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships. Full Review

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Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

4star.jpg 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

Williamabbey.jpg

The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North

3.5star.jpg Paranormal

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

1643785036.jpg

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, 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

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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

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Long-Haired Cat-Boy Cub by Etgar Keret, Aviel Basil and Sondra Silverston (translator)

5star.jpg Confident Readers

One day a boy is in the zoo with his father, when the man gets called away on urgent business. The boy isn't hustled into a cab and taken home first, though, no – he's given hot dog money, and taxi money, and told to just stick around on his own and enjoy himself. Well, it's no surprise that the orphan-for-an-afternoon sensation the lad feels doesn't make him happy, and so he thinks of a species name for himself, and curls himself up into an empty cage, as if he were a new exhibit. And it's then the drama begins… Full Review

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Fucking Good Manners by Simon Griffin

4star.jpg Lifestyle

Manners maketh man, they say. It certainly makes life easier if everybody abides by a set of conventions, some of which are ages old and other which have evolved over time. Manners are not about how much to tip or how you should behave if you get an invitation to Buckingham Palace, they have nothing to do with class or financial status: they're about getting the basics right before we try to deal with more difficult matters. Of course we all have more relaxed manners when we're with family and friends, but it's best if we learn to distinguish between our public and private lives and to act appropriately. Fucking Good Manners aims to help us on the way. Full Review

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Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Relax, everyone – our old friend Artemis may be off planet, but the baddies aren't getting away with skulduggery any time soon because they now have not one but two members of the Fowl family to contend with. Those cute little twins are now eleven (and, frankly, cute no longer) and in this, their first independent adventure, they meet a troll and without even trying manage to make two deadly enemies: a nobleman obsessed with immortality whatever the cost (to other people), and an unusual interrogator-nun. The boys are chased, kidnapped, arrested and even killed (though not for long), all with the help of one trainee fairy. Full Review

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The Bad Fire (Bob Skinner) by Quintin Jardine

4.5star.jpg Crime

Nine years ago local councillor Marcia Brown took her own life after being accused of shoplifting from a local supermarket. It's always been assumed that she couldn't live with the shame. People were surprised that she committed suicide just before the court case when she had been adamant that she would fight to clear her name. She said that she'd been set up because she was hot on the trail of corruption in the council. Her ex-husband has contacted Alex Skinner, Solicitor Advocate as well as retired Police Constable Bob Skinner's daughter, and asked that she look into clearing Brown's name: it's something which he feels that he has to do in memory of his son who was murdered recently. Full Review

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See Them Run by Marion Todd

4star.jpg Crime

D I Clare Mackay is still relatively new to St Andrew's: she was previously at Maryhill Rd station in Glasgow. She's left quite a lot behind including a relationship that wasn't going anywhere after Tom failed to support her when the chips were down. She also left a nasty situation, of her own making but not her fault, and St Andrew's is a fresh start. Not long into the job she's faced with a hit and run death and there's little doubt that it wasn't accidental - the card with the number five suggests murder. Andy Robb was married to Sandra. You could say that they had an open marriage but there seemed to be a lot of the 'open' and very little of the 'marriage' left - on both sides, but would she want him dead? Full Review

1786540991.jpg

The Impossible Boy by Ben Brooks

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Oleg and Emma entered their den to find a cardboard spaceship standing where they usually sat. Slowly, the front door opened. Smoke billowed out. And out stepped a boy, dressed in a long coat with an even longer scarf, wound around his neck.


"My name's Sebastian Cole," the boy said, "But you already know that."

And indeed they do. Ever since the summer, when their friend Sarah's mother had moved her away, Oleg and Emma have been unable to find a new friend to take her place. Full Review

1447281357.jpg

Salvation Lost by Peter F Hamilton

4star.jpg Science Fiction

In the twenty-third century, humanity is enjoying a comparative utopia. Yet life on Earth is about to change, forever. Feriton Kane's investigative team has discovered the worst threat ever to face mankind – and we've almost no time to fight back. The supposedly benign Olyix plan to harvest humanity, in order to carry us to their god at the end of the universe. And as their agents conclude schemes down on earth, vast warships converge above to gather this cargo. Some factions push for humanity to flee, to live in hiding amongst the stars – although only a chosen few would make it out in time. But others refuse to break before the storm. As disaster looms, animosities must be set aside to focus on just one goal: wiping this enemy from the face of creation. Even if it means preparing for a future this generation will never see. Full Review

1471186393.jpg

Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

4.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

May 1921. Edie receives a photograph through the post. There is no letter or note with it. There is nothing written on the back of the photograph. It is a picture of her husband, Francis. Francis has been missing for four years. Technically, he has been "missing, believed killed" but that is not something that a young widow can believe. She hangs on the word 'missing', disbelieving the word killed. Full Review

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This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History by Esther Rutter

5star.jpg History

It was December and Esther Rutter was stuck in her office job, writing to people she'd never met and preparing spreadsheets. The job frustrated her and even her knitting did not soothe her mind. January was going to be a time for making changes and she decided that she would travel the length and breadth of the British Isles with occasional forays abroad, discovering and telling the story of wool's history and how it had made and changed the landscape. She'd grown up on a sheep farm in Suffolk - a free range child on the farm - and learned to spin, knit and weave from her mother and her mother's friend. This was in her blood. Full Review

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Black Canary: Ignite by Meg Cabot and Cara McGee

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Dinah Lance. Frustrated that her policeman father will not allow her to try and follow in his footsteps, and seemingly lumbered with being a cheerleader at school, she is desperate to find her voice. But it's actually more a case of her voice finding her, as when she gets frustrated or plain dissed at school her vocal outcry can shatter glass better than any opera singer. You could almost call it a weapon, or a power. But in order for her to call herself a superhero, there has to be a whole path of steps for her to take – one of which will be into her past… Full Review

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Ronnie and Hilda's Romance: Towards a New Life after World War II by Wendy Williams

4star.jpg History

Ronnie Williams was the son of Thomas Henry Williams (known as Harry) and Ethel Wall. There's some doubt as to whether or not they were ever married or even Harry's birthdate: he claimed to have been born in 1863, but he was already many years older than Ethel and he might well have shaved a few years off his age. For a while the family was quite well-to-do but disaster struck in the 1929 Depression and five-year-old Ronnie had to adjust to a very different lifestyle. One thing he did inherit from his father was his need to be well-turned-out and this would stay with him throughout his life. He joined the army at eighteen in 1942. Full Review

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The Royal Baths Murder by J R Ellis

3.5star.jpg Crime

When Damian Penrose was murdered there was no shortage of suspects: he was a deeply unpleasant man. In fact the only surprising thing was that there wasn't more of a queue waiting to do the dirty deed. What was a bit of a headline maker was that Penrose was a crime writer and that he was strangled in the midst of Harrogate's crime writing festival. He went for a swim at the Royal Baths and never returned, his body being found by the receptionist. DCI Jim Oldroyd was the man tasked with investigating the crime. It would not be the only death, and it was only because of the quick actions of his sergeant, Andy Carter, that Oldroyd's was not one of them. Full Review

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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