Newest General Fiction Reviews

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The Turn of the Tide by Margaret Henderson Smith

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

Harriet Glover is well and truly over Mark after he left her standing at the altar. She's pregnant with Sir Joris Sanderson's child and he's keen to make the relationship permanent, but ghosts from his past return to haunt him, unfortunately at a rather important dinner party. The mystery of 'Amber' really has to be solved and the web of lies which surround her dismantled. Harriet is still being led astray by Tricia Harrington (or so Harriet's mother would have you believe...) and she can't really make up her mind about 'Mr Sanderson', particularly when the man from MI6 is around. She's got a lot to cope with and that's before we even get on to the subject of the Prime Minister's daughter's wedding, which must remain secret. Full review...

The Boy Who Stole Attila's Horse by Ivan Repila and Sophie Hughes (translator)

4star.jpg Literary Fiction

If you pick up a copy of this book you realise how small it is. You'll know, of course, that pockets hardly exist that are normally big enough to hold what we used to call a pocket book, but here is the exception to prove the rule. It's wee. The story is on a hundred pages. The concision is partly down to it starting after the beginning, for we first meet Big and Small, two brothers, once they're stuck down a large well in the middle of a forest. Tasked with a family errand, they're trapped at the bottom of a natural Erlenmeyer flask, and even a desperate move cannot get either out. This is the story of the next three months in their existence, as they brave hunger, delirium, loss of language, and the brute and unstinting human selfishness needed for existence. Full review...

The A-Z of You and Me by James Hannah

4star.jpg General Fiction

Lying in a hospital bed, refusing visits from friends, Ivo is alone. Only his carer, Sheila, provides company - and she asks him to think of a different part of his body for each letter of the alphabet, and then to tell a tale about each one. Full review...

Adult Onset by Ann-Marie MacDonald

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

At midlife, Mary Rose MacKinnon has settled down with her partner, Hilary, and is raising two young children. Opting to fulfill the role of stay at home mum, she has placed her career as an author on hold. What follows is a bid to reconcile this new identity with her former idea of self. Success, however, depends on Mary Rose facing up to the confusions of her past. Full review...

The Minnow by Diana Sweeney

4.5star.jpg Teens

Diana Sweeney's The Minnow is an Australian book aimed at Young Adults that features death, grief, abuse, fear and loneliness. Teenage pregnancy lies at its heart while bereavement, and trying to come to terms with loss, bubbles just under the surface, constantly. But don't be misled. This novel isn't some earnest pedagogical attempt to convey teenage angst and elicit grave pity or understanding from the reader. What rescues it from mawkishness is the beautiful voice of the narrator, Tom (or Holly, if you prefer her real name). Tom doesn't fall prey to self-pity. She simply describes her world as she sees it, matter-of-fact. And the fact that her view is rather unusual (she talks to fish, dead people and her unborn child - and they talk back) doesn't really matter. Nothing can detract from the sheer lyricism of her voice. As a reader, you just have to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride. Full review...

Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre

4.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

Venetia Stanley lives in Seventeeth century London. A celebrated beauty, she has had poems written in honour of her, and portraits painted by one of the leading artists of the time. Married to a handsome, kind and adventurous man, Venetia is kept in a life of luxury, and, at first glance - has everything she could ever have dreamed of. Except Venetia is not happy. A woman who has made her name and fortune because of her beauty, she is convinced that her allure is quickly slipping through her fingers. Signing a pact with an apothecary for his famed restorative 'Viper Wine', Venetia is set on a dangerous path. Full review...

Real Monsters by Liam Brown

5star.jpg General Fiction

Lorna was 12 when she was sent home from school, watched the unfurling events of 9/11 on her TV and recognised her father's office block aflame and falling. Her fight for mental survival started at that moment and the use of alcohol to quell the memories came soon after but then she meets Danny – her life saver. Shortly after this they marry and Danny joins the army. He's sent to fight the monsters, the fundamentalist organisations, which destroyed Lorna's childhood. However when what's left of his unit becomes lost in the desert without food, water or equipment, the focus changes from military victory to personal survival and those monsters are still out there… Full review...

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

4star.jpg General Fiction

This book is essentially a cautionary family tale of four brothers and the way they react to a prophecy about them by the local madman. It is also, in a sense, a coming-of-age story where Ben, the young narrator, is plunged into premature adulthood under the most brutal of circumstances. And it is about brotherly love. None of these descriptions, however, convey the fact that this book is written by an exciting new voice in African literary fiction. Full review...

Ghosting by Jonathan Kemp

5star.jpg General Fiction

Grace Wellbeck is 64 - living on a canal boat in London with her second husband, she lives a relatively settled life of routine. A chance encounter with a man in the street changes everything though - a man who is the spitting image of her first, deceased husband. Is he a ghost? Is Grace going mad? Full review...

Lay Me Down by Nicci Cloke

4.5star.jpg Literary Fiction

It's New Year's Eve and the nightclub is pulsating with sound. The revellers heave and swell in oceanic waves and Jack is preparing to call it a night, when he is presented with Elsa. She is small; delicate and pretty and alluringly confident - a heady combination for a man like Jack - and though he wants, with every fibre of his being, to walk away, to go home and forget her, he doesn't. Full review...

The Ship by Antonia Honeywell

4star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

Sixteen year old Lalla has spent her life in London – mostly inside her family home. Because this is not the London of today, or any other day. When Lalla was seven, the apocalypse arrived; banks crashed, flood defences failed, power failed – and the world could only focus on survival. Now the Nazareth Act is in force and without your identity card, you don’t exist – literally, as you will be shot if you don't produce it. Full review...

The Restoration of Otto Laird by Nigel Packer

4star.jpg General Fiction

The Restoration of Otto Laird is an interesting concept for a story. It pitches an ageing architect against an ageing building that was built early in Otto's career. When Otto makes the trip from Switzerland to London to try and save Marlowe house from demolition, he takes an unwilling journey down his own past. Full review...

The Complex Chemistry of Loss by Ian Walthew

5star.jpg General Fiction

Deep in rural France James Kerr was admitted to a psychiatric clinic. His mental problems were deep and intractable. Superficially he seemed never to have got over the sudden death of his mother and sister when he was a child and after their death his relationship with his father had deteriorated because his father refused to speak of their loss. There were additional factors too: Kerr had spent some time in Afghanistan in a secret capacity. In fact much of his life since he went to university had involved putting up a front, but doing something else in the background. Full review...

Lost and Found by Brooke Davis

5star.jpg General Fiction

Millie Bird keeps a notebook. She writes in it all of the Dead Things that she sees. Her Very First Dead Thing was her dog Rambo. Then there were other things a spider, a Bird… but then there was number 28. The twenty-eighth dead thing than Millie Bird noticed was her Dad. Full review...

Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem

5star.jpg General Fiction

Rose Zimmer, a feisty American communist radical, takes on many good and great causes. These include everything from feminism and racism to the changing course of Stalinism in the American C.P. but most of all; her biggest causes are the people around her. The effects upon them are diverse and devastating. She often propels them to success but at the same time they feel battered and must escape according to their own needs. Her affections are real but invasive. Rose keeps a shrine to Abraham Lincoln. Rose’s self-assertion within the perimeters of the German-designed 20th Century New York suburb of Queens, a multi-cultural suburb and a planned housing development similar to Hampstead Garden City provide the setting for Jonathan Lethem’s Tour de Force. Full review...

The Virtuoso by Virginia Burges

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

The title character of The Virtuoso is Isabelle Bryant, a professional violinist who has earned the affectionate nickname of 'Beethoven's Babe'. She was the youngest-ever winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition and gave her first solo performance, of Beethoven's violin concerto, at Royal Albert Hall. 'Her violin represented another limb to her, it was that precious. It felt so natural, like an extension of her body.' It would hardly be an exaggeration to say that the violin is Isabelle's life. Full review...

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Every family has its tales which are told and retold and in the Whitshank family it was the story of how Abby and Red had fallen in love one beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon in July 1959. It would usually be told on the porch of the Baltimore house which Red's father had built, but on this final time of its telling the circumstances are different. Abby and Red are aging - even the glorious house is beginning to show its age - and decisions have to be made about how to look after them. All the family are there, even Denny, who can generally be relied on to do only what pleases him. Full review...

Black Dog Summer by Miranda Sherry

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

Yesterday, Sally was living in a rambling farmstead with her teenage daughter Gigi. Now Sally is dead, murdered, and Gigi is alone in the world. Full review...

Esperanza Street by Niyati Keni

5star.jpg General Fiction

Joseph's parents send him to work for Auntie Mary and her B&B business on Esperanza Street. Over the years there life for Joseph goes on the way it has for countless other youngsters from this Filipino town of Puerto. His mother may have died too young and Joseph only sees his father one day a week (and has to suffer church for part of that!) but there's a rhythm to the market outside and foreign visitors within Auntie Mary's walls that's familiar and comforting. It's a rhythm that's been there for generations but things change, sometimes with catastrophic results. Full review...

A Word Glittering with Spikes by Nigel McClea

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

We're going to follow the fortunes of two couples (or are they 'would-be couples' or 'might-have-been couples'?) as they navigate the treacherous waters of love. David Castledine's first meeting with Jenny could hardly have been less auspicious: he hit her. He didn't actually mean to hit her but he threw a stick for his aunt's dog to chase and it caught her on the head. Head wounds bleed profusely and this one was no exception, so David had to take her back to his aunt's apartment to clean her up. I suppose there have been worse meetings, but it's difficult to think of one! Full review...

Catherine Certitude by Patrick Modiano, Sempe (illustrator) and William Rodarmor (translator)

4star.jpg Confident Readers

What little I know of Patrick Modiano was gained from the number of 'no, we've never heard of him, either' articles and summaries that came our way when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature at the end of 2014. They suggested his oeuvre was mature, slightly thriller-based but not exclusively so, and asked lots of accumulative questions regarding identity with regard to the Vichy government during WWII. Identity is a lot more fixed in this musing little piece, for the adult voice-over looks back over a wide remove, and says there will always be a little bit of her living the events and situations of the book. Those situations are of a young dance-school attendee, and her loving and much-loved father, living a cosy life in Paris – even if the girl never once really works out what it is her father does for a living… Full review...

A Reverie of Brothers by R D Shanks

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

The castle of Delzean's walls have always protected Emperor Eli, his sons, sister, niece and nephew from the ravages and poverty of the people in the city beyond. However the days may be numbered as a burgeoning revolution has infiltrated its walls thanks to the rebel movement known as The Eyes. Their plan necessitates the unwitting involvement of the spoilt, egotistical aforementioned niece, Princess Ava. Unfortunately there will be collateral damage with tragic effects. Full review...

Tigerman by Nick Harkaway

4star.jpg General Fiction

Battle-weary and suffering from PTSD, 40-year-old Sergeant Lester Ferris is posted to the island of Mancreu to mark time till his retirement. With no family of his own, Lester takes a local lad under his wing; an adolescent who lives his own life through comic books and superheroes in the hope that he can be adopted. Despite Mancreu beginning to churn with more than its customary black marketeering, Lester realises that he has a job on his hands, not only to take care of an island that sees him as a government puppet but also convince someone that he is the stuff of heroism and to convince himself while he's at it. Full review...

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

4star.jpg Dystopian Fiction

The Age of Miracles was one of those much-talked about books that I never got the time to read on its first go around. I'm not sure how I managed that, but I did. Anyway, it got debut author Thompson Walker a seven figure deal after a bidding war and it has dystopian themes, so it is right up my alley and not the sort of thing I'd usually miss. And so, I was happy that Simon & Schuster decided to reissue it for a YA market and even happier that they decided to send me a copy. Full review...

The Seventh Simian by Gary Kurylo

3.5star.jpg General Fiction

Edith has lived alone for many years and she has become irascible and rather anti-social. She avoids even going into the nearby village to do her shopping and the only human being she sees with any regularity is the local shopkeeper who makes grocery deliveries to her and makes an art form of palming off the strange old lady with overpriced, underweight goods. If it weren't for her cat, Edith would have no companionship at all. Full review...

After the Storm by Jane Lythell

4star.jpg Thrillers

Rob and Anna are nearing the Honduras leg of their South American travels. Here they meet Kimberley and Owen, an American couple who charter out their own boat for sailing trips around the local islands. Rob persuades Anna it will be a fun way to end their holiday but Anna isn't so sure. There's something about Owen and Kimberley that makes her hesitant about being shut away on a boat at sea with them. Perhaps it's the way that he never sleeps or the mystery as to why there are no knives in the cutlery drawer. Rob thinks Anna's just overly imaginative, but time will tell. Full review...

We Used to Be Kings by Stewart Foster

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Tom and Jack are 18 today. Not that they have much cause for celebration - stuck in a home for troubled children, they are constantly examined and questioned by doctors, when all they want is to be left alone to live life together. Full review...

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

4star.jpg Teens

Mare is a Red - a race kept in lives of poverty and servitude by the Silvers, a race with wealth and mutant powers that allow them to live lives of luxury. Learning to survive amongst the slum like conditions that the Reds inhabit, Mare is swiftly thrown into the world of the Silvers - one that proves to be more dangerous than she had ever imagined, with treachery, plots and deadly games lurking round every corner. Full review...

The Vanishing Moment by Margaret Wild

4star.jpg Teens

This book appealed to me on various grounds. It is teen fiction (and, joy of joys, devoid of werewolves and dystopia), it is by an Australian author (under-represented on UK shelves), and it involves parallel universes (tantalising philosophical what-ifs). I was intrigued to see if the author could live up to my expectations. Full review...