Within the Sanctuary of Wings, Marie Brennan

Sometimes we just need the familiar and the comfortable, don’t we? A warm cuddle of a book. The Natural History of Dragons series by Marie Brennan, of which Within the Sanctuary of Wings is the fifth and, it would appear final, installment, is one of those series. It’s not challenging; it’s a tad formulaic by the fifth…

See What I Have Done, Sarah Schmidt

Lizzie Borden took an axe And gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty-one. Oh, Sarah Schmidt can write! What a strange strange thing to start a review with! But there is writing and there is writing and Sarah Schmidt can write! Not only can she create a…

The Black Book of Secrets, F. E. Higgins

Every year, I determine to teach at least one text which is new to me that year – which with a shrinking pool to choose from at GCSE becomes harder year-one-year – and that is why I have stumbled upon F. E. Higgins’ The Black Book of Secrets. It is an odd little book –…

The Dry, Jane Harper

This book had won a range of prizes by the time I got to reading it: Australia Indie Book and Indie Debut of the Year 2017; Sunday Times Crime Book of the Year; CWA Gold Dagger. It even became the Radio 2 Book Club Choice. I think I read somewhere that film rights have been…

The Loney, Andrew Michael Hurley

There is something very frustrating about this book. It was so close to being great that the fact that it wasn’t great is so disappointing. The premise sounded brilliant: members of a religious community go on a retreat to an isolated location; suspicious and sinister villagers mill around; a young boy is being prayed for…

Oathbringer, Brandon Sanderson

I was concerned about the shift in tone from the end of the second book in The Stormlight Archive, Words of Radiance: Kaladin and Shallan had been lost characters slowly discovering their powers and paths in their own way, interracting with their spren and learning in a softly organic way; as Words of Radiance ends, Knights…

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, Imogen Hermes Gowar

I do love historical fiction and this is one of the best I’ve read for a while! Intricately plotted, rigourously researched and with vivid and well-drawn characters. And none of those elements displaced by any other. And with just a touch of magical realism thrown in. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of Hilary Mantel…

Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng

Sometimes, you read a short story that leaves you wanting more and makes you wish that the writer had extended it to a novel length. With this novel, well written and crafted as it is, I wonder whether it could have been reduced to a short story. Or began life as a short story or…

The Shadows In The Street, Susan Hill

Okay. Please put Lafferton and Bevham in the list of places I don’t want to visit because of their high body count. Midsomer, Stockholm, Lafferton.  Poor Lafferton. I think this, the fifth book in Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailer series, has the third serial killer in the Cathedral city since the first book. I don’t think…

A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman

We all know that old bloke on the corner who glowers at us, the one with a face like a bulldog sucking lemons, the one who barks at us for dropping litter or parking in the wrong place. The one who we suspect goes around the house grumbling about the radiators being on. Hell, I fear…

The Humans, Matt Haig

There’s nothing new or original in this novel. Touches of Doctor Who, perhaps. Touches of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime. Touches, indeed, of Eleanor Oliphant Is Perfectly Fine. An outsider struggles to fit into humam society and ultimately fights to understand what it is to be human. Wrap that up with…

Eleanor Oliphant Is Perfectly Fine, Gail Honeyman

Mental health is a difficult topic to write about. A dangerous topic. It would be very easy for it to trivialise – or even worse, to glamourise – mental illness or trauma.  And there were times here where is was a little concerned that the novel may be going down that route – the love…