Richard and Judy Shortlist 2008

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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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Purple prose over vivid description, soap opera over genuine emotional depth. Bookbag didn't enjoy this any more than it enjoyed its predecessor, The Kite Runner. Its weighty setting belies what is in actuality, a pleasant but incredibly light and schmaltzy plot-driven read. Full review...

Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann

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In 1992 Theo wakes in a south American hospital to the knowledge that his girlfriend is dead. He returns to his old world to discover that he's expected to go on living. In the 1917 Moritz Daniecki walks out of a Siberian POW camp with the idea of going home. He has little more than he stands up in...and no idea just how vast Siberia is...but he knows Lotte must be waiting for him. Two stunning and in parts surprising portraits of the power of love. Full review...

The Rose Of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon

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Most likely to appeal to ladies, an absorbing tale of love and betrayal set against the backdrop of the Crimean War. Full review...

A Quiet Belief In Angels by R J Ellroy

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A brilliant evokation of place offsets some self indulgent writing and over-use of literary devices in this story of the multiple murders of children in the mid-twentieth century. Bookbag thinks of this as an 'if there's nothing better' book. Full review...

Notes From An Exhibition by Patrick Gale

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An artist with manic depression, her Quaker husband, and their four children do not have the happiest of times in this book, but the read is surprisingly interesting and highly recommended. Full review...

Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris

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A collective of advertising men encounter a hard task in a comedy of work-place errors that is sparkling while falling flat on its face with a gross misjudgement. Full review...

The Visible World by Mark Slouka

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A beautifully written, sombre, elegiac and occasionally mesmerising if somehow self-indulgent novel of love and grief, fiction and fact, history and memory. Recommended, unless you really like your stories to start at the beginning and end at the end and to be clear as to what, actually, happened. Full review...

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

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Beautifully written with not a word wasted, Great Expectations meets tropical island in this look at the love of reading, the terrors of war, post-colonialism and personal integrity. Highly, highly recommended. Full review...

Blood River by Tim Butcher

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Recreating Stanley's epic expedition through the Congo & along its eponymous river, Tim Butcher explores the modern country and its history. An enthralling rendition of what is effectively the rape of a nation. Buy it for everyone you know. Full review...

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies

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From Rudolf Hess to German POWs, Welsh farm-girls and German Jewish escapees working for the British, everyone in this brilliant WW2-set drama experiences treason or betrayal. The themes are lightly sprinkled across an excellently told story, however, and the whole is just a charm – and highly recommended. Full review...

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