Newest General Fiction Reviews

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Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

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Billie is interning at a foodie magazine with a long history. It’s been based in the same building for many decades, so you can imagine the secrets hidden within the walls. Every recipe they've ever published, for example, is archived, so if you want the special brioche bread and butter pudding you first tasted in winter 1991, you can contact them and ask for the details. That’s part of Billie’s job, and she quite enjoys it, but then something even better comes out of the archives. A series of letters written during the war that send Billie on a mad mystery tour throughout the building and beyond. With a dash of ingenuity, a pinch of spunk and a big ol’ dollop of enthusiasm, will she be able to get to the bottom of the story? Full review...

Mambo In Chinatown by Jean Kwok

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The daughter of an immigrant noodle maker, who lives with her father and younger sister in a one room apartment in Chinatown, is not the sort of person you might imagine as a skilled and elegant dancer. And, indeed, Charlie isn’t any of those things as we meet her. By day she washes pots in her father’s restaurant, by night she encourages her sister Lisa to succeed in school and succeed in a way that Charlie herself wasn’t able to. But she dreams of more, and when an entry level job at a dance school is advertised, she suddenly wants it more than anything she’s ever wanted, ever. Full review...

Ghosts of Manhattan by George Mann

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New York City - 1926.

A world not quite as we know it. America is locked into a cold war with the British Empire, cars are coal powered and prohibition is still in place across New York. A series of horrific murders are committed throughout the city, and the overworked police force are already overworked dealing with the gangsters and criminals that fill the city.

What is needed, is a hero. And that hero is...The Ghost Full review...

Help for the Haunted by John Searles

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Rose and Sylvester Mason make their living from helping the haunted, performing exorcisms and running seminars across America on the subject of the paranormal. When they are murdered in a church, their daughters, Rose and Sylvi, are left negotiating the complex legacy their work has left behind. Full review...

A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman

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On the day that Slava's Russian Jewish grandmother is buried in their new homeland of the US, a letter arrives from the German Conference on Material Claims Against Germany offering her financial restitution for her war years spent in a concentration camp. All she would have needed to do would be to write a letter about her whereabouts and experiences during World War II. It's too late for her but Slava's granddad wants Slava to complete the form in his grandfather's name instead. The fact that Slava's granddad was never in a German concentration camp is immaterial; surely Slava could write something? He's a journalist after all and his granddad did suffer during the war; every Jew in Minsk suffered. This put's Slava's filial devotion to the test but little does he know it's only the beginning. Full review...

Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon

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Thomas Pynchon is a major American novelist. Published for 40 years, his books are always surprising and highly original, and the intense privacy of the author mean that they are often still a mystery when released.

Having read Bleeding Edge, I can confirm that it is still somewhat of a mystery to me. Maxine Tarnow is a great main character - a working mother separated from her husband, she is equal parts sassy to funny, and makes for a reliable companion along the way. Some of the other characters encountered along the way are truly bizarre - Conkling Speedwell probably the most prominent! Full review...

The Revolutions by Felix Gilman

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It is Victorian era London and Arthur Shaw loses his job in the great storm, but in amongst the wind and rain he also finds his future fiancee, a writer by the name of Josephine who has been known to skitter about the outskirts of the occult scene so popular at the time. When a mysterious man turns up at one of the meetings and offers Arthur a job, something seems amiss. What are Arthur and Josephine getting themselves into? Full review...

The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith

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When I finished the fourteenth novel in this series I felt very warm and happy. Things were going so well for all the characters, and it seemed that Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi had reached a wonderful high in their friendship. Of course, these things cannot last and, surprisingly, I found that I was rather glad of the return of some of Mma Makuti's more outspoken nature! Just what is she getting up to this time? Full review...

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...