Newest General Fiction Reviews

From TheBookbag
Jump to: navigation, search

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase

5star.jpg General Fiction

At Black Rabbit Hall, time goes “syrupy slow.” None of the clocks work properly, but an hour at Black Rabbit is said to last twice as long as a London one, and you don't get a quarter of the things done. Every holiday, the Alton family swap the hustle and bustle of London life for this secluded Cornish retreat, a place that is theirs and theirs alone. Full review...

The Underwriting by Michelle Miller

4star.jpg General Fiction

Todd Kent is young, rich, stupidly handsome, and well on his way to the top of Wall Street. When a new dating app called “Hook” decides to go public, Todd is handpicked by Hook’s eccentric founder to lead the project team. Taking brainy analyst Neha, spoilt party-boy Beau, and old flame Tara Taylor with him – the team find themselves thrust into the hectic circumstances of a $14 Billion deal. As Silicon Valley and Wall Street clash, the death of a young girl will find the team at odds with each other – and spinning wildly out of control. Full review...

The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

Welcome to the world of the Meme; the next-generation mobile device. Imagine technology so sophisticated that it could anticipate your needs as soon as they come into your mind. Need to get home? Your Meme will hail a cab. Feeling unwell? The Meme has an app for that. Negative thoughts? The Meme will intercede on your behalf to call family and friends or even 911, if needed. Yes, the Meme is a truly indispensable aid that has revolutionised the way that humans communicate. Critics say that it's destroying human language and verbal interaction, but don't worry: the Meme has an app for that too. If you are lost for words, the Word Exchange will supply you with the word you require. For a small fee of course... Full review...

The Making of Mr Bolsover by Cornelius Medvei

4star.jpg General Fiction

Meet Andrew Lynch. He's a graduate civil servant, then he isn't. He's married, then he isn't. He's a librarian, then he isn’t. He starts, of all things, to live in a handmade camp in the Sussex countryside, and gets a job writing nature notes for a local magazine – until it's clear he's shooting, killing and eating too many of his subjects for his audience's tastes. He turns his efforts to writing politicised letters to the local newspaper, where his nephew is a jobbing hack, which inspires further, more campaigning activities. Yes, it seems that Andrew Lynch's path to the top is foretold – but his fate is most definitely anything but natural… Full review...

Lillian on Life by Alison Jean Lester

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Lillian is in her late fifties, single and childless but you shouldn't - for a moment - allow yourself to think that she has a rather sad life. She's lived through periods of tremendous change in post-war Munich, Paris, London and she's now come to rest, smart and independent, in New York. Born in a time when the expectations of her parents - and of society - were fairly standard as to what a woman should do with her life, she seems always to have had a sense that she would disappoint both if she was to be true to herself. She's hot blooded and sexually uninhibited and certainly ahead of her time in her views. When we first meet her she's waking up next to her married lover and taking stock of her life. Amongst other things. Full review...

Bunderlin by Robert Crompton

4.5star.jpg Crime

As a child Martin had been fascinated and entranced by his neighbour Mrs Bundy's household menagerie. Her son Peter was there too but on the periphery; Martin was just there to visit the animals. In adulthood their paths cross again but this time Peter Bunderlin (as he's now known) isn't so easy to avoid – and Martin's tried! Perhaps if Martin could understand what the heck Peter is up to? Full review...

The Spice Box Letters by Eve Makis

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Katerina's Armenian grandmother Mariam dies leaving her and her mother a journal in Armenian and a spice box full of mysterious letters. They're special to them both because they're the legacy of a much loved relative but totally indecipherable to the monolingually English pair. However a holiday abroad to get over a recent break up brings a random encounter for Katerina. When Katerina meets Ara she also meets the key to her grandmother's secret past. Full review...

Leaving Gilead by Robert Crompton

4star.jpg General Fiction

Tom Sparrow finally does what he's always dreamt of: buying the former Ridley house near his old childhood home. As Tom explores he finds his new house isn't the only link with his past. There's something in the outhouse that takes him back to the days of young love and Susan, the Ridley's daughter. She had been raised in her parents' prohibitive faith as a Gilead Jehovah's Witness which didn't seem a problem to them but they were young and experience wasn't on their side… Full review...

What Was Never Said by Emma Craigie

4star.jpg General Fiction

This story is narrated by Zahra, a teenage girl who spends her early years in her home country of Somalia before her family move to the UK to escape civil war. Inevitably, some traditions travel with them and in the novel Zahra recounts her efforts to protect herself and her younger sister, Samsam, against FGM, a practice that claimed the life of her older sister in Somalia several years previously. Zahra intersperses her account with flashbacks to Somalia and the civil war that drove them away, thus giving a clear picture of the trials that she and her family have faced. Full review...

The Man With The Overcoat by David Finkle

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

Why would anyone - he was soon to ask himself innumerable times - take a coat from a complete stranger only because it had been offered? Skip Gerber steps off the elevator after a long day at work; the foyer of his office building is busy and buzzy and he does not notice the man holding the overcoat until the man hands it to Skip telling him to take very good care of it. Skip unthinkingly grasps the coat and before he has the chance to realise what he is doing - and that he is now holding an overcoat of unknown providence - the man disappears out of the exit door to the building. Full review...

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises by Fredrik Backman

5star.jpg General Fiction

Every 7-year-old needs a superhero. That's just how it is… and for Elsa it's her Gran. When Gran dies, Elsa is surprised and devastated. Granny can't be old - Elsa has only known her for 7 years! Elsa still has to carry out Gran's last wish though; there are letters to be delivered and with each delivery Elsa learns something more about Gran the person behind Gran the superhero. Will it enforce her hero status or destroy it? Full review...

Boo by Neil Smith

5star.jpg General Fiction

Oliver Dalrymple is dead. He realised this the moment he woke up in the rebirthing bed. His friends and tormentors had always called him Boo because of his ghostly pale complexion and now he's finally earned the nickname fully. What he hasn't realised is the way in which he died; he thinks he died of holey heart problems in front of his locker while reciting the periodic table. The location is correct but, meeting Johnny (an equally dead former classmate) reveals, he was actually murdered. What's worse, their murderer has been spotted there in 13 year olds' heaven. Full review...

Cellar by Minette Walters

4star.jpg General Fiction

To my mind, The Dark Room is the most perfect psychological thriller ever written (and I've read lots in this genre). In her later works, Minette Walters seemed to veer away from this particular path to glory as her novels became steadily darker and with increasingly dislikeable characters. So it was quite refreshing to discover that The Cellar was written from the point of view of a rather likeable protagonist. Muna is an African child living in, shall we say, somewhat unusual and very cruel conditions: she was stolen and now lives in captivity. Her voice is compelling and from the first page I found myself wanting her to make good her escape from the dreadful - and sadly all too believable - circumstances in which she finds herself. So, naturally, I admired her cunning and resourcefulness, knowing that these attributes would serve her well. But, of course, this is Minette Walters and nothing is as simple as it first appears. As the story unfolded I found myself questioning who exactly were the victims and who, if anyone, was innocent. Full review...

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

5star.jpg Fantasy

Many years ago, in a village deep in Eastern Europe, the locals live a life of relative peace and happiness - knowing to always avoid the wood that borders their land, and safe in the knowledge that they are guarded by a powerful wizard - the Dragon. Aware that he is the one thing keeping them safe from the dangers of the wood, the villagers take part in a ritual called 'The Choosing' every ten years - when a young girl is sent to serve the wizard for a decade. Agnieszka is of age for the choosing, but nobody fears that she will be picked - her best friend Kasia is pretty and graceful, and sure to catch the eye of the immortal Dragon. However, Agnieszka is not aware of the talents she holds that may attract the wizard - talents that the safety of the entire kingdom may come to depend on for their survival... Full review...

Secrets of the Pomegranate by Barbara Lamplugh

4star.jpg General Fiction

Home in Bristol, Alice gets the news from her sister's partner, Paco. Her sister, Deborah Hardy, was on board one of the trains bombed at Madrid's Atocha station on 11 March. No one can yet confirm whether she is alive or dead. Deb had moved to Granada nearly 20 years ago, after her divorce from Mark's father, and was starting to make a name for herself as a scholar of women in Andalusia's history. Alice and her nine-year-old son Timmy fly to Spain to find that Deb is alive, but in a coma in hospital. Over the weeks she keeps vigil for Deb, Alice lives in her sister's home in Granada and reads her diaries, which proves to be a way of feeling closer to her and learning more about her than she ever knew. Meanwhile, Mark and Paco keep their distance, working through their complicated grief in their own ways. Full review...

The House At The End Of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag

5star.jpg General Fiction

Alba Ashby is a wallflower of a girl; studious, bookish and excruciatingly shy, so when tragedy wields its ponderous bolt, she is less able than most to adjust to life as she now knows it. In one of her midnight walks around historical Cambridge, she finds herself at the door to Number 11 Hope Street. It is house that she has never before seen; quirky and turreted with a wild garden and grandly Victorian in hue and Alba is enchanted by it. So she does something that she would never normally do, in a million years. She knocks on the door. Full review...

At The Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

5star.jpg General Fiction

An indiscretion at a party causes Ellis Hyde's parents to disown him, coming, as it does, hot on the heels of his father not understanding why Ellis has been turned down for war service. To prove he's not a coward, Ellis, his new wife Maddie and best friend Hank leave the US for Scotland. He's determined they will succeed where Ellis' father failed years before: they will find the Loch Ness monster. Maddie isn't as convinced but then she also thinks she knows Ellis. She and the locals at the inn where they're stranded by the global conflict will discover a lot more about him, and indeed themselves. Full review...

The Mountain Can Wait by Sarah Leipciger

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Tom Berry is a quiet man - one who lives for and in nature, spending a half of his year running a small team in remote, isolated forests. The other half he spends tending to his family - a small group whom he brought up almost single handedly, following the departure of his wife. A good, determined man, we learn of Tom's life running forestry teams in remote wilderness, before an accident forces Tom to leave his routine and seek out his son - and both become troubled by the events of the accident, as well as ghosts of the past that may cause more pain than either man had anticipated. Full review...

Based on a True Story by Elizabeth Renzetti

4star.jpg Women's Fiction

Augusta Price, middle-aged, washed up, substance-addicted actress has just left rehab for the innumerable time. Her only friend in the world is her equally washed-up former mentor. Augusta has recently received a sudden upsurge of interest and income when her tell all memoir became a baffling best-seller. Frances Bleeker is an American journalist who came to London with high hopes, that were quickly dashed by the reality of the British magazine market. The two meet when Frances is sent to interview Augusta about her book where Frances realises there’s far more to the story of Augusta’s life than she’s cared to put in words. Needless to say, young, optimistic Frances and self-obsessed, drunk Augusta don’t exactly hit it off at once. But when Frances loses her job and Augusta needs a ghost writer for her new book, the two offer each other a lifeline ... or enough rope to hang themselves. As Frances will learn by delving into her past, people close to Augusta don’t come away unscathed. Full review...

The Romeo and Juliet Killers by Xavier Leret

3star.jpg General Fiction

This is a book that suggests love across the tracks – all the while making the reader ask 'just how chuffing wide are those tracks supposed to be?!' Franky is a hard-done-by schoolboy, whose ultra-Catholic parents are stifling him in all aspects of life, so much so it's likely that when he gets into trouble by witnessing some porn on a friend's mobile phone at school it was really the hardware that he was gawping at in amazement. Hardware is nothing to Daizee, the underage street hooker, who knows what hard stuffs she likes and what she doesn't, and what her punters – and her mother, back when they had a connection – enjoyed, or needed, en route to it. Their unlikely connection is the subject of this gritty novella. Full review...

Boxes by Pascal Garnier and Melanie Florence (translator)

4star.jpg General Fiction

Meet Brice. He's an illustrator, who had picked an ideal house in the country with his journalist wife, only for her to disappear assumed dead on assignment abroad. Therefore he's having to make the move himself, which he does – but without her at the other end he finds it hard to kick his new life into gear. Yes, a cat adopts him, and he gets to know the names of some new people, but that's it. What's more, one of those people is Blanche, attired most suitably in all-white, who herself is missing someone – someone of whom Brice is the spitting image… Full review...

Last Night on Earth by Kevin Maher

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Baby Bonnie is born in London in 1996 to Jay and Shauna but her traumatic birth and the aftermath causes the previously happy couple to separate. Jay looks back searching for how he got to this point and Shauna looks for answers in psychotherapy with a less than orthodox Danish analyst. Meanwhile both share Bonnie and worry about where they go from here. Full review...

When We Were Friends by Tina Seskis

5star.jpg General Fiction

Six friends meet at Bristol University; six very different people from six very different backgrounds. Six lives intertwined in an assortment of ways… break-ups, marriages, careers, motherhood and bereavement; until one night six become five. Full review...

Diary of the Fall by Michael Laub

4star.jpg General Fiction

Diary of the Fall is a story about regret, guilt and resentment. It's told from the point of view of an unnamed narrator, who reflects on not just his own life but also the lives of his father and grandfather. Full review...

The Summer of Broken Stories by James Wilson

5star.jpg General Fiction

England 1950: Soon-to-be-10, Mark Davenant is a typical lad with a typical lad's life. He loves adding to his model train layout, he plays with his mates and walking best friend Barney the dog. It's on one such walk he comes across Aubrey, an elderly writer living in the forest. They build a friendship based on shared stories and imaginings. Not all in the village are accepting though and, when they try to drive Aubrey out, Mark feels himself torn between old loyalties and new. Full review...

The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith

5star.jpg General Fiction

There are some authors who I pick up with a contented sigh, knowing that I am in safe hands. Alexander McCall Smith is currently my favourite, and thank goodness he is so prolific with his writing that my reading habit is fed on a regular basis! This is the tenth novel in the Sunday Philosophy Club series, and we settle down once more to a visit to Isabel Dalhousie in her beloved Edinburgh. Isabel is wondering, perhaps belatedly, if she is sometimes rather judgmental of people. In particular, she’s having an awful lot of qualms about her niece, Cat’s, latest romance. Will Isabel find herself forced to intervene, or can she sit back and let nature take its course? Full review...

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George and Simon Pare (translator)

4star.jpg General Fiction

Monsieur Perdu has a barge on the Seine, and in that barge he has his bookshop. Actually, rather than being a normal sort of bookshop it is more of a chemist's, since he is something of a literary apothecary, prescribing books to his customers that he senses will soothe their souls, and relieve whatever troubles are ailing them. He only has to speak to them a little, sometimes only has to see them, and he instinctively knows which book will help them. Despite his skills, however, he seems unable to diagnose and resolve his own emotional issues and he is, as the translation of his French surname tells us, Mr Lost. Full review...

Flesh and Blood: True Fiction by Marcus Dalrymple

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Brit John Colson is in Mexico teaching, having been invited out there by his godfather and local school owner Carlos Manuel Fermin. John soon settles in, soon forming a love of the country. But then it all changes… Visiting a public toilet at the wrong moment means that John hears a murder being committed beyond his cubicle door. He goes to the police as he would in the UK but this is Mexico; from that moment on John Colson is a marked man. Meanwhile elsewhere in Mexico tourists are being attracted by more than hot sunshine and tacos. Full review...

The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain, Emily Boyce (translator) and Jane Aitken (translator)

5star.jpg General Fiction

Meet Laure. She's a widow in her 40s, who is entering her Parisian apartment building one night when she's mugged, and her handbag stolen. Meet Laurent, a middle-aged bookseller, who happens upon the handbag the following morning in the street, just before the binmen take it away, never to be seen again. More or less snubbed when trying to hand it to the police as lost property, he decides to take it upon himself to reunite the bag with its rightful owner. He has no idea their names are so intimately linked, and despite a lot of things being in the bag (including the titular notebook) there is no cash, no phone and no ID documentation at all. What's more – and what looks like making the idea even more fruitless – he has no idea that Laure has fallen into a coma as a result of the mugging… Full review...

Bitter Sixteen by Stefan Mohamed

5star.jpg General Fiction

Stanly Bird is about to turn sixteen - a solitary teen in a small Welsh town, he has few friends. Unless you count his talking dog, Daryl...

A splitting headache on the eve of his birthday soon develops into incredible powers, and Stanly swiftly finds himself defending his neighbourhood, falling in love, and gaining his first real friends. When jealous rivals, a mysterious figure and a horrific evil come into play though, Stanly finds himself cast away from home, and struggling to save everything he has come to hold dear. Full review...

The Good Girl by Fiona Neill

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Romy is a sixth former who is unremarkable. A good student from a professional family, her aspiration is to become a doctor, and it’s an achievable, rather than lofty goal. Or it was. Because a video has surfaced and it shows Romy doing something that is hardly going to help her medical school application. Or her future career. Or her future life, full stop. For Ailsa, the head teacher, she has the double whammy of trying to keep the school out of the headlines and protect her child who is now at the centre of the controversy. And it’s clearly all the neighbours’ fault. Full review...