Newest General Fiction Reviews

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The Lost Child by Suzanne McCourt

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Sylvie lives in a small Australian fishing village with her mum, dad and elder brother, Dunc. However all that is about to change and little Sylvie finds herself in the middle of dramas she neither understands nor controls. Her world may never be the same but she tries to make sense of it, Trollop, clingy mother, moody father and all. Full review...

House of Ashes by Monique Roffey

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There had been unrest in the Caribbean City of Silk in Sans Amen for some time with people growing increasingly belligerent about the perceived corruption of the government. Then the day came when The Leader called the Brothers together and told them that they were going to make history: they would take over the House of Power and the television studios and reclaim what was rightfully theirs. Part of this 'revolution' is Ashes, a quiet, bookish young man who seems to feel most guilty about the lie he told his wife - that he'd be back home for dinner - when he left the house. He'd been swayed by The Leader's rhetoric and finds himself a part of the rag-tag band of ill-trained but probably over-armed young men and teens who invade the House of Power. It would not go as they expected. Full review...

Things We Couldn't Explain by Betsy Tobin

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Jericho, Ohio - 1979.

Annemarie is a clever, funny and spirited girl. Born with sight, she turned blind as a child, but more than compensates for her disability. Living amongst the small-town folk of Jericho, she has a relatively standard, suburban life, schooled at home but more than friendly with many in the town - especially her charming neighbour Ethan.

All is calm, until one day Annemarie finds herself pregnant. Full review...

The Pink House at Appleton by Jonathan Braham

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When we first meet Boyd Longfellow Brookes he's musing over the fact that - however much you might wish otherwise - sounds, smells or small details can evoke the most painful of memories in full Technicolor. On this particular afternoon it was the music - Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No 3 in B minor - which brought back the scene which regularly invaded his dreams and his waking hours. Once again he was the eight-year-old boy whose father was thrashing him with a leather strap whilst his mother wept and Papa demanded to know if Boyd had molested the young daughter of a neighbour. He didn't even know the meaning of molest but the expressions on the faces of those around him told him all he needed to know. Full review...

The Boy from Aleppo who Painted the War by Sumia Sukkar

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This is a book about colour against the grey backdrop of the Syrian civil war. Adam, the 14-year-old narrator, is an artist who describes emotion, people and things in colour. Through colour, he makes sense of the world. So his sister, Yasmine, 'is usually ruby' although at times she is grey or green. Adam’s views are simple, uncomplicated – he says ‘Lying is bad’, ‘I don’t like the war’ and ‘[Paintings] always say the right things’. Full review...

Black Sheep by Susan Hill

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Mount of Zeal is a mining village, and no mistake. Three concentric semi-circular streets align across the side of a hill, like the rows of seats in an amphitheatre, with little thought at all allowed for the life above the crest of the hill, and a lot of effort and dreams focused on the coal mine at the village's core. The Howker family (and how evocative that name is, so akin to the noise of hawking coal dust from one's lungs), and Ted and Rose, the youngest of the clan, in particular, will face the destiny the environment they grow up in gives them – with only the merest glimmers of hope and the faintest of sparks to latch on to as regards a likeable future. But if that is a faint spark, then how safe is it so close to the tinderbox of a coal mine? Full review...


The Night Falling by Katherine Webb

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In the summer of 1921, Leandro returns to his birthplace in Italy. He has made his fortune, and his aim is to transform a crumbling palazzo into an opulent mansion. But the outside world is still reeling from the Great War, and Leandro’s nephew, Ettore, is one of those most in need of help. Reluctantly, Ettore asks his uncle for assistance. But Ettero could not have foreseen what was to come from that request… Full review...

Dear Reader by Paul Fournel and David Bellos (translator)

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Robert Dubois is a publisher of the old school: the books matter - of course they do - but then so does the food and the drink which accompanies the profession. He's had a long career of paper manuscripts, authors and lunches and he fully expects that life will continue in this way until he finally retires, whenever that might be. Then one day an intern presents him with an ereader and nothing will ever be quite the same again, not least his briefcase, which is used to accommodating vast quantities of paper. He's not a Luddite - but getting used to this gizmo is not going to be easy. Full review...

Waiting for Doggo by Mark B Mills

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Daniel didn't quite acquire Doggo by accident. His girlfriend got him from Battersea Dogs' Home but when Clara walked out on him without any notice (well - just a letter...) she told him to take Doggo back. He was, she said 'just a dog. A small ugly dog'. And Daniel was all set to do just that until he discovered that Doggo would quickly be separated from what Dan considered to be a couple of important parts of his anatomy. After a rethink Daniel had a new job as an advertising copywriter which allowed him to take Doggo to work with him and Doggo's career as a 'mental health companion dog' was born. Full review...

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

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To understand Lydia’s death, we need to understand Lydia, and to understand Lydia we need to understand Lydia’s parents. Marilyn, who wanted more from her life than to play the dutiful housewife, who goes to college to study and realise her dreams, not to meet a man (her own mother’s dream for her), goes ahead and, well, she meets a man. That man is James, whose credentials for teaching American history are up for debate, but who nonetheless manages to overcome his background to secure a role doing just that. They settle down and have Nath, then Lydia, then a little while later, Hannah. An unusual family for 1970s Ohio, but a happy one. The children are bright, the home is cosy. Full review...

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

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Deep below the University, the ancient home of magic and learning, a young girl lives amongst the caves, tunnels, and abandoned rooms. In Seven days, her friend will be visiting - one of her few friends, and someone who Auri cannot wait to see. Those seven days are filled with Auri's preparations - her hunt amongst the tunnels and caves for a proper gift, and her thoughts as she goes about her business. Full review...

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

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Jason Fitger (Jay) is a Professor of creative writing and literature at a small university in the American mid-west. He is also a frustrated novelist with a colourful personal history, much of which bleeds into his professional life, with interesting results. Full review...

Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre

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In Iraq any soldier within 5 metres of a roadside bomb explosion will die as even an armoured truck will be torn to pieces. Being within 25 metres of a roadside explosion would be fatal to foot soldiers. Lieutenant Pete Donovan and his US marine unit know this better than anyone. Their job in Iraq is to repair the roads but it's not as simple as it sounds. Every pothole (yes, every pothole) contains a bomb; even the kerbstones could be dummies filled with explosives. That's why every serviceman and woman has it drilled into them: no matter what, no matter where, always watch your fives and twenty-fives. Full review...

The Tower by Alessandro Gallenzi

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Amman, Jordan, and even while the world's tallest building is still being constructed, Biblia are hard at work inside. The global Internet conglomerate is undergoing its efforts to digitise the entire world's knowledge, including a priceless archive held by a local dignitary, when one of the workers involved - on behalf of the Vatican - vanishes, along with some unknown quantities of the works. Enter Peter Simms from England, and a classy Italian colleague, to help relocate whatever it was that was missing - in the face of threats from elsewhere in the Muslim kingdom... Full review...

Emma by Alexander McCall Smith

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When I read about the plan to re-imagine Jane Austen's novels through contemporary, bestselling authors I wasn't entirely sure this was a good thing. Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope? Really? But then, of course, my eyes lit upon the magic author's name, Alexander McCall Smith! Not only had been asked to be involved, but the book he was going to work on was my most favourite Austen book, Emma. What could possibly go wrong? Full review...

Lucy by Alan Kennedy

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Lucy is a painter. Hiding away in Dundee on VE Day, she returns from a disaster of an exhibition to a letter from a figure from her past. Uncle Albert, still in France, wants to sort out his affairs - who will get what after he's dead. The letter sends Lucy on a voyage of discovery - about a past full of art, lost love, found love, grief, war and about what could possibly come next. Set in pre-war London, pre-war and wartime France and windy, rainy Dundee, Lucy is a love story, but it's also a kind of coming-home. Full review...

If I Knew You Were Going To Be This Beautiful, I Never Would Have Let You Go by Judy Chicurel

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Katie and her friends in Elephant Beach, Long Island are going to make the most of summer 1972. High school is behind them, there's booze to be drunk and weed to be smoked. There's also a lot to contend with. This is a working class community, ignored and disenfranchised by those with the money and influence to help. Also the Vietnam War rages on, producing local heroes like Luke and Mitch. For some of the young people the future is a blank canvas, for others their future is foreseen or foreshortened. As for Katie's hopes and dreams, they all revolve around the hope of a date with Luke. Full review...

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

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Rachel Joyce envisions The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy not as a prequel or sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry but as a companion volume. Giving Queenie's side of the story through an extended letter she is writing to Harold from St Bernadine's hospice as she awaits his arrival, Joyce gives readers a new perspective on her character's unrequited love for Harold, a surprising friendship she kept up with his son David until his suicide, and her sudden move from Devon to Northumbria, where she lived in a quaint beachside cottage and maintained her sea garden until she became ill with cancer. Full review...

The Bear by Claire Cameron

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Canadian Claire Cameron was working as a counsellor at Algonquin Park in the early 90's, when a bear attacked and killed two campers. Here, Cameron revisits and re imagines the attack, but gives the campers two children, and tells the story from the perspective of the daughter, Anna. Full review...

Night after Night by Phil Rickman

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It's no surprise that when it comes to reality television, broadcasters are fighting amongst themselves for the next big thing, no matter how tasteless, base, or exploitative it may be. That's the starting point for Phil Rickman's creepy new thriller, as tv producer Leo Defford decides to launch a reality show in a mansion formerly owned by tragically deceased movie star Trinity Ansell, and perhaps haunted by Henry VIII's last wife, Katherine Parr. Full review...

The Green Door by Christopher Bowden

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Clare Mallory is a promising junior barrister working from a prestigious chambers. Life is pretty good. She's not the type to be taken in by psychics but when cards advertising the services of one Madame Pavonia start arriving in the post, her interest is piqued, first by the rainbow spectrum pattern and then by... well, something else. Tempted to visit the fortune-teller at a local fair, Clare is taken aback at Madame Pavonia's reaction to her and rushes out of the tent. Full review...

Twist by Tom Grass

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Twist doesn't know his family. Homeless and on the run from the police, he is swiftly caught up in the world of Dodge, Fagin, Sikes, and Red. As they involve Twist in the dangerous world of Art theft, his skills are pushed to the limits, and his morals are tested by both the murky underworld and the beauty of Red. Full review...

Ashes In The Wind by Christopher Bland

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John Burke and Tomas Sullivan may go to the same primary school in Kerry but even in 1908 they're on two sides of a great divide. John is Anglo Irish protestant and comfortably off, being the heir to Derriquin Castle whereas Tomas is Irish Catholic, living in poverty and raised to feel the resentment of the oppressed. The fact that John has been brought up to believe in Home Rule tragically makes no difference as John, Tomas and their future generations live with the consequences of a centuries old struggle. Full review...

Return to Fourwinds by Elisabeth Gifford

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Two families gather at Fourwinds for the wedding of Nicky and Sarah. Alice and Ralph are as proud of their son as Patricia and Peter are of their daughter. However there are secrets festering behind the celebratory facades and there's nothing like pre-wedding jitters to bring such things bubbling to the surface. Full review...

The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - The Nearly Definitive Edition by Douglas Adams

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There are few series that have garnered such a cult following as 'The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'. Whether the fans have come from the radio series, the (impossibly hard) computer game, or the (well intentioned but not particularly good) film, they are everywhere. Ask a room of people what the meaning of life is, and you can be pretty sure a good few will pipe up with '42' as the answer. Full review...

Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk

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The central character, Madison, is a strangely unlikeable narrator who has been murdered. She finds herself in hell but is able to return to Earth to observe the dramatic goings-on of her celebrity parents, who fit the stereotype of the Brangelina couple - socially responsible, universally famous and obscenely rich. Without giving too much away, Madison is a pawn in Satan’s plan to destroy the earth and ensure everyone goes to hell. This being Palahniuk, the focus is on the comedic possibilities of this scenario rather than the moralistic. Full review...