Newest General Fiction Reviews

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The Life of a Banana by P P Wong

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It has all the makings of a Victorian melodrama. A young girl’s mother dies on her 13th birthday. She and her brother are packed off to live with evil grandmother, strange uncle and flighty aunt. But this is very much a 21st century tale for the protagonist, Xing Li, is a British born Chinese girl. Full review...

Ghost Child by Caroline Overington

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1980s Melbourne. A triple zero (=999) call has been received from a house on a notorious estate. A child is unresponsive. The story of how it happened is sketchy to say the least. And pretty soon, as it turns into a murder enquiry, people want answers. Need answers. Full review...

The Maggie by James Dillon White

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Once upon a time, a Puffer in Scotland was not someone with too many deep-fried Mars bars and too much Bucky under his belt, but instead a small steamer, running errant cargo routes in and out of the great port of Glasgow, and taking small industrial output from one place to another – especially lesser, shallow-drafted harbours the bigger ships couldn't ply their trade in. McTaggart is Skipper to one Puffer, and a particularly rundown one at that. He and his three crewmates are in need of drinking money, as well, so when the rare chance comes of a job, he leaps at it. The job in hand, taking a special consignment to a remote island for a visiting American magnate, should be easy – but all of them, from Marshall the businessman down to the cabin boy, are surprisingly great at conspiring to make it the most drawn-out voyage The Maggie has yet to face… Full review...

The Quick by Lauren Owen

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The Quick is the debut of author Lauren Owen, and set in the gothic world of Victorian London. Owen guides us through the lives of several characters, but specifically James and Charlotte, siblings living in a Yorkshire mansion. Left to fend for themselves due to a dead mother and an absent father, the two grow up close, playing dark games to pass the time. It is only when James, the younger child, moves to London, that the games become very real indeed, and both brother and sister must fight to save not just themselves, but their humanity. Full review...

Remember Me This Way by Sabine Durrant

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People should be sad when their husband or wife dies. It’s just the way things work. Whether it’s a sudden accident or a long time coming deterioration, there should be sorrow and maybe a few tears. But Lizzie is a little bit relieved when Zach dies in a horrible car crash. He was her husband and she loved him but there was more to it than that. Now it’s a year later and, for the first time, Lizzie feels strong enough to visit the scene of the accident. But all is not right when she gets there, and as she pulls at a loose thread, the whole jumper starts to unravel. As she starts to question everything she believed to be true, she can’t help but wonder if the whole story of that night hasn’t quite come out yet. Full review...

I Really, Really Want It by Richard Hennerley

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Andrew Manning is what I would call 'a fixer'. He's got decades of experience in sorting out those little problems which so plague celebrities and, frankly, if he's got to bend the law just a tiny bit - or even more - to earn his crust then that's OK by him. He's wealthy, with a list of clients to die for (and some will...) and happily unfaithful to his long-term partner, Johnny on a regular basis. And Johnny does exactly the same. When we meet Andrew his main problem is Shelley Bright. She's 'England's Sweetheart', chart-topping singer and television star. Andrew prefers to think of her as 'a vicious, avaricious snake, a nasty, nasty piece of work' - and he's probably got the right of it. Full review...

Quarter Past Two On A Wednesday Afternoon by Linda Newbery

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At a quarter past two on a Wednesday afternoon in August Rose disappeared - completely. It didn't look as though there had been a crime - there were no signs of violence and some of her clothes and a rucksack were missing. It was possible that she had simply gone of her own accord: she was beautiful, headstrong and just slightly wilful. Twenty years later her younger sister, Anna has still not come to terms with what happened and it's affecting her whole life. Her relationship with Martin is foundering and she can't make up her mind whether it's what she wants - or doesn't want, with probably a slight bias to the latter. Finally she decides that she must try and find Rose for herself. Full review...

The Ascendant by Alethea Crowe

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The Greek Gods never died - in fact, they are still very much on this planet, causing chaos and interfering with the lives of mortals, albeit on a much smaller scale than in their heyday. Whilst the front cover suggests a thriller much in the vein of The Da Vinci Code or something of its ilk, Alathea Crowe has created something with excellent characters and interesting prose. It's just a shame she didn't stick to the thriller aspect more, as I felt the book lost its hold on me fairly early on. Full review...

Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party by Alexander McCall Smith

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So, Fatty is from Fayetteville in Arkansas and he and his wife Betty do, it has to be said, err on the rather large side. At home in Fayetteville their size causes them no problems but when Betty books her Irish-American husband a trip to Ireland for his birthday the problems begin. Poor Fatty. It seems the calamities start from the beginning of their trip and they are both funny and painful to read at times. Just when you think things can't possibly get any worse for Fatty they do indeed get worse. And then worse again. And again! The escapades are so gently, lovingly written then I felt nothing but sympathy for poor Fatty. Full review...

Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe

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What's that about treating an ending purely as another beginning? When the marriage of Elizabeth's parents ends, the foursome of Lizzie, her older (and wiser beyond her years) sister and kid brother and the mum move to a Leicestershire village to begin again. But things don't start swimmingly – the entire village seems to turn against them and maintain their outsider status. Thinking this down to the D-notice put on their parents (for divorce means a woman being unacceptably short of trustworthiness in the early 1970s) the girls put their efforts into match-making. Little do they realise the lack of options they face – and the life-changing events that arise when they witness a glimmer of success… Full review...

In the Beginning Was the Sea by Tomas Gonzalez

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In the Beginning Was the Sea is the first novel written by Colombian author Tomas Gonzalez. It was written over 30 years ago but the work has only just been translated into English. It tells the story of J. and Elena, two intellectuals who have grown sick of their life of endless parties and highbrow conversations and have decided to move away from the mainland to set up a new life that focuses on nature and the purity of hard work and the elements. They bicker and alienate the locals, and neither of them is prepared for the brutal weather and the microscope that such surroundings put on their less-than-perfect relationship. Full review...

All Cut Up by Bruce Crowther

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Jimmy and his Mum were at the supermarket when she disappeared. He didn't immediately think that it was a problem - after all she was suffering from dementia and out of roughly the last hundred and fifty visits to GetItAll he'd lost his mother on thirty five of them. But - she wasn't usually gone for this long and then there was the nagging worry that she might have become the latest victim of the Acton Axeman - a serial killer who was targeting blond, slightly-plump women wearing green - a description which fitted Jimmy's Mum to a tee. Full review...

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

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A young teacher is kidnapped leaving her family distraught. Wealthy and influential, they call in the big guns to find their daughter, but is there more to the story, and indeed to the family, than meets the eye? Full review...

What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

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Milo is 9 years old and slowly going blind. He lives with his Mum, his Gran and Hamlet the pet pig but not Dad. Milo's Dad lives in Abu Dhabi because Dad made The Tart pregnant. One day, once the emergency services go away, Mum breaks it to Milo that Gran can't live with them anymore and has to go into a home. It doesn't end there though. Milo is on a mission; he and Hamlet will bring Gran back. It's a bit of a difficult mission for a 9-year-old and pig to accomplish alone though so first he needs to convince at least one adult. Good luck Milo! Full review...

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas

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Ajastashatru Oghash Rathod is an Indian fakir or an Indian conman, depending on your viewpoint. The day he decides to buy a new bed of nails he does what any of us would do: jumps on a plane from the Indian sub-continent to Paris with some misappropriated money in order to shop at Ikea. His nefarious means will only go so far, therefore he decides to sleep in the store overnight. What’s the problem? Ikea has bedrooms and everything. However, Ikea also has security which is how Ajatashatru gets to travel around Europe in a less than conventional way chased by a homicidal taxi driver. That's the sort of thing that could happen to anyone though, isn't it? Full review...

Without You by Saskia Sarginson

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Eva is 17 years old and missing following a sailing disaster. Most people presume she died at sea, but her sister Faith has, well, faith. And in fact, Eva is not dead, but she’s not safe either. Held captive on an island just off the coast, she is so near and yet so far from home, and with every day, week, month that passes, her desperation grows. Full review...

The Deaths by Mark Lawson

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In an idyllic enclave in Buckinghamshire, within spitting distance of Milton Keynes, there are four houses. You might even call them mansions, as they are not the sort of homes to which most people can aspire. But the residents are not most people - they are rich and the lives they lead are different. They're not the old aristocracy for whom the houses were built, but the new elite - barristers, business tycoons, bankers, magistrates, doctors. One of their number runs a security business, so they're all protected by expensive security systems and when they leave their little haven it's usually to travel first class to London or on their way to catch a flight. The Eight seem to lead charmed lives - but the financial world is changing and there isn't the money around that there used to be. Full review...

Her by Harriet Lane

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Emma is a harassed young mother to a toddler with another baby on the way. Used to being a successful professional, she is finding it difficult to cope with everything on a daily basis. Therefore, it hardly surprises her to receive a call from a stranger telling her that she has found her wallet which Emma did not even realise that she had lost. Nina calls round with the offending wallet and Emma is immediately drawn to this composed, organised, successful woman whose life seems to epitomise everything that Emma wishes for. However, as their friendship blossoms, it becomes apparent to the reader, although not to Emma, that things are not what they seem. Apparently when Nina first set eyes on Emma, she recognised her as a face from the past, and an unwelcome one at that. We soon discover that Nina has an ulterior motive for befriending Emma as she sets out to seek revenge for something that Emma did many years ago. Full review...

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

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Ove (pronounced 'Oo-veh') is a man of principle who tries to do the right thing, ensure the no parking area remains so, is a good Swedish citizen and tries to be civil to his neighbours (even the foreign ones). However he comes over as a total grump. He was even ousted from his position as Chairman of the Residents Association by a vicious coup. Indeed, he's the sort of person who, when life gives him lemons, finds that they're rotting in the middle. There's so much more to his story than that though; a story that started a long time ago. Full review...

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

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Georgie McCool has always known what she's wanted and pursued it until she has it. She got her dream job writing comedy, she's about to get her own show, and she got her dream guy, Neal.

Only, she's not so sure she has him anymore. Full review...

Shifting Colours by Fiona Sussman

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Celia works as a maid for the Steiners in South Africa; a safe job in a white household for a 'black' to have at a time when the country lurches from suspicion to brutality and back again. At least it was a safe job. The Steiners have decided to move to England and, after difficulty in having their own children, want to adopt Miriam, Celia's youngest child. For so many reasons Celia can't refuse. Rita Steiner promises Miriam an exciting adventure and she promises Celia regular contact. When mother and daughter are miles apart, they both come to realise the same thing: sometimes promises are only as good as the people making them and that goes for promised lands too. Full review...

Touched by Joanna Briscoe

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Rowena Crale and her family have moved to a new home, having uprooted an ill and unwilling mother in law to take possession of it. There are five children in the family...but six if you count young Eva’s imaginary friend. Eva is the family outcast; dressed in her grandmother’s clothes and preparing to attend a different school to her siblings, she is often away from her family, who seem to care little for her or her whereabouts. Full review...

The Good Children by Roopa Farooki

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The Saddeq family are an example of success for their friends and neighbours in Lahore. Mr Saddeq is a doctor with his own practice, sons Sully and Jakie are studying medicine in the US and UK respectively and daughters Mae and Lana have made good marriage matches. However the four 'good' children would view their success differently. Each reacts differently to the futures that their caring father and calculating mother have mapped out for them and plough their own furrows as far as they're permitted but the gravitational pull of home remains a constant through their lives and also, to some extent, for the generation that follows. Full review...

Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston

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Four years ago, a family lost their brother, their older son, their grandchild. One day he was there, and the next he was gone. Missing. Presumed kidnapped or perhaps worse. Their lives have moved on, but their hearts haven’t. Walls have gone up around them, though, to protect from the pain, the crank calls, the false leads. So when news comes that Justin Campbell has been spotted, alive and, seemingly, well, it’s quite a lot to take in. Full review...

Skid by Roland Watson-Grant

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Things have changed in the Beaumont household since they lived in the Louisiana swampland. Skid (or Terence when he's bad), his mother Valerie and brother Frico have moved to an apartment in the city. The two older brothers have left home and the lads' father is still missing, presumed dead, after he disappeared beneath the alligator-filled water back home. The city is a weird place for our hero as he becomes 16. It's just as dangerous as the swamp ever was as gangs that roam the streets seeking outsiders like Skid. Skid is realising that girls can be a problem too, although neighbourly Claire may be a bit different. She worries about him though; it seems that Skid isn't so much a name as a curse. Full review...

Sugar Hall by Tiffany Murray

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Sugar Hall is a place of transitions. It has recently gained new residents – Lilia Sugar, and her children Saskia and Dieter. It has lost several portions of the estate, however – several valuable trinkets, the billiard table – as Lilia has to sell things to keep the family from poverty. But apart from things arriving and things going, there are things moving – possibly the objects left, possibly the butterfly patterns on the wallpapers. And there are things appearing – such as a lot of actual, living insects, and the naked boy who sometimes appears only as a disembodied head to the young exploring Dieter… Full review...