Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls
 
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Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

Do you remember reading ‘One Day’? – well, it is 10 years ago that David Nicholls wrote ‘One Day' and had us all fall in love with Dexter and Emma. Now it is time to fall in love with Charlie and Fran. 

Meet the protagonist Charlie Lewis, 16 and in a bad place in his life. His parents separated just months before he had to sit the GCSEs, and he is not happy living with his depressed dad. Summer is here, and Charlie doesn’t know what to do as his friends are moving on with their lives, and the town is kind of too small to be interesting. 

Charlie falls upon wonderful Fran Fisher. She is 17, gone to the posh school in town, and not afraid of being in her own skin. However – if Charlie wants to be with Fran, who is quickly stealing his heart, he has to do theatre sports with a company that sets up Romeo & Juliet in town. As you can imagine, theatre sports is not really Charlie’s thing. Cool boys don’t do theatre, however luckily Fran has taken the lead in Charlie’s life and new doors open up.

Nicholls has written a book that will have your mind drifting back to being 16, school holidays and first loves. It is a mix of humor and heart, and it is a book that nails the attributes that has given Nicholls’ his fans. 

It is not a replica of One Day, but there is a thematic continuity of One Day and Us in Sweet Sorrow and Nicholls’ readers will be happy to spend time with Charlie and Fran. 

Pick it up if you liked…One Day by Nicholls or anything by Nick Hornby. Happy reading!

Reviewed by Lotte Bastholm

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

 

Hannah Gough
Thornhill by Pam Smy
 
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Thornhill by Pam Smy

Thornhill was a chilling tale of friendship and the sole, powerful force that is loneliness. This dark novel tells two haunting tales, one set in the present that is told through writing, the other set in 1982 when the Thornhill Institute was still a healthy business.

The style was very satisfying and dark, sticking with the tone of the story, I personally enjoyed the style and the atmosphere it transmitted. The written parts of this book are formatted like diary entries, with a date and year. This makes the book quite fast and easy to read that makes it appealing for middle-grade as well as young adult readers.

The story starts when the teen Ella moves to the small town where the Thornhill Institute resides when she starts to unpack the boxes she brought from her former house she notices a figure that is staring at him from the grounds of a wrecked building.  She becomes curious and wants to resolve the mystery that this town hides. Meanwhile in 35 years in the past in 1982 the 13-year-old Mary Baines is living in the Thornhill Institute when it was still active and lives in harshly as she is a victim of bullying and hatred. Her only hope resides in making her dolls in her small but cosy room, being inspired by the few books that she owns. However, she cannot sleep with the tapping noises that are produced from her, the person that hates Mary uncontrollably. But as these to stories intertwine the story slowly start to take a more chilling, dark form.

Overall this book was a 4-star for me, the plot was well woven and the art in this book was marvellous, as well as the dark writing in Mary’s perspective.  As well as being entertaining Thornhill made me reflect on many things, and how people that suffer bullying fell as well as what loneliness and fear can do to a young person. The writing style is quite dark atmospheric, and when woven with the illustrations it makes for a dark, atmospheric and thought-provoking read. The only thing that I will say about this book is that it is not that creepy or scary as you may desire, so if you are looking for a classic horror story this may not fully satisfy your tastes.

Being a fan of Brian Selznick, this can be associated with his books due to the format and style, however, this is marketed as a horror story when Brian Selznick’s tales are more inspirational and light. So I recommend this to all readers of Brian Selznick and people who have a will to stay up all night reading a fantastic book.

Happy Reading!

Reviewed by Lahiri Paolella (Aged 13)

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Thornhill by Pam Smy  

Hannah Gough
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
 
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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman manages to be both adorable and absurd and seriously addictive.

It's the perfect quick read that'll keep you uncontrollably smiling, painfully laughing and more times than one filled with disbelief and maybe even a little horror too. 

This refreshing little novel follows the life of thirty six year old Keiko, who’s never had a boyfriend and only ever worked at the same convenience store for 18 years of her life. You'll be sure to fall in love with her quirky personality, as she helplessly drowns in society's expectations and is confronted by everything a woman of her age “should” be. Her parents are after her to get a proper job, her friends desperately want her to get married, and as for Keiko…well she's perfectly happy living in the world of her convenience store! A world in which she's as much a part of the magazine racks and food displays as they are a part of her.

As strange and as peculiar as this novel sounds; it truly is a gem. A book you'll be begging others to read, just so you can discuss how weird and wonderful it really is. 

Reviewed by Vindhya Kathuria

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata  

Hannah Gough
Notes to Self by Emilie Pine
 
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Notes to Self by Emilie Pine

In the first essay of this extraordinary debut collection, the author Emilie Pine, throws you head first into the harsh reality of dealing with an alcoholic parent. 

“Caught between endless ultimatums (stop drinking) and radical acceptance (I love you no matter what) the person who loves the addict exhausts and renews their love on a daily basis.” “It took years of refusing him empathy before I realized that the only person I was hurting was myself.” 

This first piece, Notes on Intemperance, is a painfully honest essay describing the despair, ugliness - and beauty - of a messy parent/child relationship, and conditioned as a reader to look for the happy ending, it is a surprise somehow to realize that there isn’t one. There isn’t a tragic ending either, it is just a sometimes sad, sometimes happy, sometimes ok, always real ending. Just like life itself. 

And that’s the common thread through all the essays. As different as the topics are (infertility, the consequences of parenting, the female body, a wild child life that would scare any parent, and how women are seen and see themselves in a professional environment) what they all have in common is a raw and radical honesty. They are beautifully written, and sometimes painful to read. It’s somehow a relief that it is a collection of short stories, so you can put it down for a couple of days to absorb what you read before going back for more. 

At times, you feel like you are along for the ride as the author tries to figure out life’s ups and (frequent) downs, how to navigate them not just externally but more importantly internally. 

“I could end the story there. I could say that education saved me, and in many ways that would be true. But it would only be part of the truth. Because there are things I’ve left out. And if I’m to tell it, then this is the part where the story turns, and where I find myself, again, asking why I’m telling it all. Let me pause, and just look out the window for a while. Let me stand up and walk away from the desk. Let me take a minute.”

The essays are intensely reflective, beautifully written and often make for difficult and raw reading. However, as personal as the writings are, they are also surprisingly universal and relevant. Emilie Pine has written a collection of essays that will leave most readers with plenty of food for thought.

Happy reading!

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Notes to Self by Emilie Pine  

 

Hannah Gough
The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis
 
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The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

Lewis is one of my absolute favourite writers - he’s such a graceful writer with a dry sense of humor and an unfailing eye for a good story and the humans within it. Often, his approach to a subject is slightly off-beat, coming at it from a slightly different angle, thus unexpectedly illuminating what everyone thought they knew by forcing them to look at it through new eyes.

This one is -highly unusual for him- not about the financial markets but the Trump administration but seen through some of the key agencies (first and foremost, EPA - the United States Environmental Protection Agency - really didn’t know that it is basically home to all of the US’ nuclear stuff. But then again, neither did Scott Pruitt, Trump’s first appointee as head of the agency). If anyone is the unsung hero in Lewis’ tale it is the scientist civil servant, doing what they do, not because they have a political vested interest, nor because they earn a lot (they don’t) but because they care deeply about their field of scientific interest.

Another book which deserves to be widely read - a smooth running civil service machine is really the engine that keeps a state running. Lose or misuse it, and you’ve got “the fifth risk” of collapse.

Reviewed by Pia Eisenhardt

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

 

Hannah Gough
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
 
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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The cover says ‘The perfect thriller’ and it is. 

Theo Faber is a psychotherapist with a mission: make Alicia Berenson speak again. Alicia was a talented artist and married to the love of her life, Gabriel. However, she ended up shooting him 5 times in the head one evening in her studio. She tries to commit suicide, but doesn’t succeed. 

During her trial, she refuses to speak, is convicted of the murder, and locked up in a secure psychiatric unit, The Grove. Silence can speak louder than words, and the finale portrait that Alicia creates draws on the Greek mythology Alcestis. But what actually happened – and what made Alicia kill her love?

Theo is convinced that he can treat Alicia and make her tell her story. He is obsessed with the story and mystery of Alicia, and when a vacancy at The Grove opens up, he finds a way in. He goes over and above the calling and duty of his position to uncover the silence. He starts digging around her past and family. He meets with her cousin, Paul, who has a history of gambling and still lives with his mom in an old house. He meets with people from the art world, and finds that Alicia was on her way up with prices rising. He discovers that perhaps Alicia’s silence goes deeper than the murder of Gabriel. 

The narrative is by Theo, but also includes Alicia’s diary entries. Alicia’s history is unfolded, but it also turns out, bit-by-bit, that Theo himself has had a difficult upbringing. Their parallel stories are well written, and the author has managed to include psychological issues within the psychological theme. 

The ending takes some turns and makes it a highly recommendable psychological thriller. It is well written, perfect pace, and it will keep you guessing as it twists and turns. 

Pick it up if you liked The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Happy reading!

Reviewed by Lotte Bastholm

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

 

Hannah Gough
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
 
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Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

If you want to remain happily mesmerized by the inner workings of Silicon Valley and what you imagine to be cutting edge discoveries made by great young minds working all hours of the day and night in open spaces full of inspirational toys, then don’t read John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood. 

If you want to stay comfortably attached to the myth of tech startups and all the good they want to contribute to society, then don’t read John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood

If you ever believed that the best education, most money and much sought after networks produced the greatest minds, incredible results, and world- and life changing products and you want to keep believing that, then don’t read John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood

If, however, you are up for some myth busting of the extensively researched, well written, fascinating, frightening and exciting kind, then I suggest you run down to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood

The book follows a young ambitious Stanford dropout, Elisabeth Holmes, and her quest to change healthcare in America and fulfill a goal she sets at age 8 to become a billionaire (maybe that right there should have been a red flag) with a new blood taking technique where you can test blood with a single finger prick system and merely one drop of blood. A technique - and device - that turn out to not actually exist. Yes, there is a good deal of science and scientific explanations in the book, but don’t let that scare you off as it is necessary, very well written and not at all difficult to understand. 

The system Holmes, and her company Theranos, are selling is surprisingly (to some) difficult to implement, but Holmes, not one to give up easily, decides to forge ahead, not as one would imagine - or hope - by pulling the product, slowing down, focusing on more research and development, but rather by trying to find a way to continue selling the faulty product by the help of her boyfriend and partner Sunny Balwani, and an intricate web of lies and deception involving participants and investors (all named) that include some of the savviest minds and deepest pockets in America - not to mention an employee burn rate of astronomical and diabolical proportions. The method is simple: as soon as an employee discovers inconsistencies or technical problems and solutions that they find ethically and morally questionable, they are asked to leave, often after being bullied and threatened into signing extensive (additional) non-disclosure agreements.

The book is full of twists and turns, many of them so unbelievable that you couldn’t have made it up. Bad Blood will rival any thriller out there with it’s sociopathic characters, spies in nondescript vehicles, outlandish harassment techniques and overall deplorable and shocking behaviour. 

It would be a ‘merely’ fascinating, intriguing and fun rollercoaster of a read, if it weren’t for the lives that were ruined and the potential frightening consequences to the health of hundreds of thousands of patients had Elisabeth Holmes and Theranos been allowed to continue. Finally, Bad Blood is an indictment of a world infatuated with ‘the new’, with scientific discoveries we dream of but don’t really understand and the danger of a ‘no questions asked’ love affair with tech and the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs of the world. But it is also an important story of the gratitude we all owe to the courageous people who are willing to come forward to reveal difficult truths at their own, very real peril.

Happy reading!

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Bad Blood by John Carreyrou  

 

Hannah Gough
Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It? A Mother’s Suggestions by Patricia Marx and Roz Chast

Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It? A Mother’s Suggestions by Patricia Marx and Roz Chast

Is that the best book title or what? 

A book for all mothers - and sons and daughters of mothers - AND for fans of writer Patricia Marx and cartoonist Roz Chast, both longtime contributors to The New Yorker magazine, this is a small and wonderful book that will make you laugh at the crazy things mothers say to their children under the guise of giving advice and guidance.

Most of us have experienced moments of disbelief at what our mothers have passed on as sage advice or commentary on our lives and some of us have even experienced that (frightening) moment when we realize that those exact same words are coming out of our own mouths to our own children. 

Fortunately for some of us time and distance allows us to be less aghast and more amused by said comments and fortunately for all of us, Patricia Marx’ mother was in a league of her own and Roz Chast has the ability to perfectly illustrate the craziness with love and affection.

“When Daddy and I come up for Parents’ Weekend,” my mother wrote to me one summer I was at overnight camp (I was nine), “you are to stop whatever you ate doing and run up and hug us. Even if you are in the middle of a tennis match. It’s too embarrassing to be the only parents whose daughter doesn’t miss them.”

Happy Funny reading!

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct it? A Mother’s Suggestions by Patricia Marx and Roz Chast  

 

Hannah Gough
Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl
 
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Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl

I started buying Gourmet Magazine in 1998 when I moved to New York; the perfect epicurean magazine to match my new life in the big city, I thought, and I have loved it ever since. My first issues turned into a beloved and probably unnecessarily large collection that survived right until a couple of months ago when Marie Kondo ‘moved in’ and enticed me to give away about half.

Gourmet Magazine was the premier food magazine for decades. First published in 1941 it gained notoriety and a huge following with the arrival of Ruth Reichl as its editor in 1996. Ms Reichl had at that point been the food critic of The Los Angeles Times as well as the New York Times but trying her hand at editing a magazine she had loved since she first came across an issue in a used bookstore at the age of eight, turned out to be a very different job, with more ups and downs, joys and sorrows than she could ever have anticipated.

In her latest memoir, Save me the Plums, Ruth Reichl takes the reader on the journey that turned out to be the rise and fall of Gourmet Magazine, a magazine that under her leadership became THE magazine not just for food lovers, but also for travellers, adventurers and lovers of literature. The Paris, Rome, New York etc issues of Gourmet are legendary, as was her genius idea to invite well known authors to contribute in long form to the magazine’s content pages. Writers like David Foster Wallace who set out to write about The Maine Lobster Festival and ended up writing a now epic piece on human beings’ relationship to killing animals, in this case throwing live lobsters into boiling water. A piece that the editors and publisher feared would drive subscribers, readers and advertisers away in droves, but turned out to bring in merely two complaints and hundreds more readers.

The David Foster Wallace example is just one of many great pioneering stories in the book; tales of courage and doubt, of an ever changing and expanding food scene; of bringing together New York restaurants to feed emergency workers in the wake of 9/11. But more than anything Save me the Plums is full of stories of people for whom food, travel and striving for excellence was their guiding light and what made them love going to work every day. 

Save me the Plums also offers a view into Ruth Reichl’s own family history, growing up with a bipolar mother who was the source of much uncertainty in a little girl’s life and who longed for a life of fame and luxury to which she felt she had been born and a doting, and a loving father who designed books for a living and encouraged his daughter to follow her passion wherever that might take her.

Well, it took her to Gourmet and for that we will be forever grateful. As the cashier at the sandwich shop at New York’s JFK airport said when Ruth Reichl tried to pay for a sandwich the day after the magazine was suddenly and shockingly closed down in October of 2009: “This ones on me,” she said. “I loved that magazine. I’m really going to miss it.”

I still do, and I am grateful for the wonderful issues I cherish - and still use.

Happy Reading!

Reviewed by Isabella

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl  

 

Hannah Gough
A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen
 
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A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen

The book, “A Terrible Country” by Keith Gessen, is an impressive work of fiction that details the life of an immigrant Russian Andrei, whom moves back to Moscow to take care of his grandmother after almost 30 years in the US. The reader learns early on that the grandmother is struggling with dementia, a theme that runs through the entirety of the novel. The two main aspects of the book, are this [dementia] and the trials and tribulations of life in modern day Russia. 

 “A Terrible Country” is saying that refers to how Andrei’s grandmother describes Russia, after having spent the entirety of her life there, starting with the years of Stalin and total oppression. The irony in the novel is that the oppressive state worked better for the grandmother than the new more “democratic” and “liberalistic” regimes that Russia has had since Stalin. This is something Andrei also finds to have a strong resonance through the people he ends up spending his time with. The novel gives an impressive insight in how the daily lives are affected by Putin and the stronghold he also has on the country. Furthermore, Gessen does well to touch upon how the scholars in the country all are able to see how money is what makes the country sick, but still are afraid to leave the world of work and money behind. Even Andrei, we learn, becomes more of an anti-hero in this regard.

 The theme of dementia is also very well covered. Not only does Gessen manage to cover the sickness from both the perspective of Andrei as the family member, but in also in a very clear way from the perspective of the grandmother. The reader feels like Andrei’s experience in Moscow one big metaphor for how the early stages tend to affect the mind. Every time Andrei feels at home in Moscow, or as if the city is finally treating him well, an event occurs which will throw our main character back to square one. This draws clear parallels with the grandmother in the story. As Andrei begins to suspect that she is remembering him, his mother, the country, or in general improve her awareness, the next day will feel completely different. This allows for the reader to get lured into a sense of comfort, only to get shot back to reality, the same way the disease seems to affect the grandmother.

 Overall, a great read. This is especially for other readers fascinated with the current affairs in Russia, and how the people of Russia feel, being called “the puppets of Putin” by the media in the west. Moreover, a very well written intricate story, that will guide you through the life of Andrei.

Reviewed by Gustav Groot

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF A Terrible Country  by Keith Gessen

Hannah Gough
Becoming by Michelle Obama
 
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It’s easy to be cynical about memoirs in general and those of world leaders (and first ladies) in particular.  Did they write them themselves; how much can they truly reveal, how honest can they really be? I therefore embarked on Michelle Obama’s much hyped memoir Becoming with what I deemed to be a healthy dose of skepticism. 

After eight years in the White House we still knew little about Michelle Obama and reading Becoming makes it clear just how intentional that was. She was known to be a private person, a fierce protector of her family; there were rumors of her strong opinions and outspokenness. None of that was a surprise, really. Here was a strong, well-educated woman from the South Side of Chicago moving into the White House as the first African American first lady married to the first African American president. Nothing about that says quiet, shy and retiring.

Michelle Obama’s life is well known by now. How she and her brother grew up in a small upstairs apartment of a small house in Chicago with supportive, loving and, above all, hard working parents. How she arrived at Princeton where she experienced what it was like being the only black woman in the room; how she met Barack Obama at the law firm where she was working; how she soon realized the her husband’s destiny and drive were inevitable, and how he was meant for a different and inescapable kind of greatness that would soon dictate and change not only his but her life forever. 

Becoming feels like a very genuine book. It’s easy to hear Michelle Obama’s voice and to sense the struggles, doubts and major leaps of faith that at times are similar to those of any couple, such as work/life balance discussions, marriage counseling, infertility issues and at times are recognizable only to a very select group of people: those who get to inhabit the White House. While the problems facing Michelle Obama seem surreal at times, the solutions and her inner debate to solve them feels very real and relatable.

Reading Becoming confirmed everything I thought I knew about Michelle Obama. She is strong, she does have strong opinions, she will fight for what she believes in and she is fiercely protective of her family, especially her daughters. 

What I didn’t know and what was surprising was just how honest she was willing to be in her memoir. Also, how outgoing and social she is, how she loves hanging out with her friends and how it took some getting used to being married to a guy, whose idea of a fun Saturday night is to stay home and read a book!

Becoming is a fun, fascinating read about Michelle Obama’s journey from the South Side of Chicago to the White House - and beyond. Its full of fun facts and stories about the importance of family, the struggle to survive, the value of hard work, the beauty of sharing your life with a soul mate and the utter strangeness of being a first lady. 

More than anything the aptly named Becoming shows the strength of a value driven life; of how principles and moral standards instilled in you by your parents and your experiences - good and bad - growing up and making your way in the world shape you and help you become the person you were meant to be. And finally how those same values will guide you and serve as a touchstone when things don’t go as planned. Which as it turns out happens A LOT in politics.

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Becoming  by Michelle Obama  

 

Hannah Gough
Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy by Lara Williamson
 
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Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy by Lara Williamson

Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy is a truly emotional book, with pages and pages filled with intricate writing and detailed descriptions, all communicated through Adam Butters’ hilarious perspective on one particular period of his life. Adam Butters lives in Pegasus Park, is eleven years old, loves comics, and lives with his family, his dad, his mum and his two sisters, Minnie and Velvet, who has an invisible dog. Adam is adopted, and that's no secret for him. However he soon is curious to find out his true origins, his real mum. Somehow he finds out by reading his birth certificate. But that is not enough for Adam, so he sets on a quest to find his biological mother although during it, he is obstacles by many controversial thoughts and events. Adum is however helped by his best friend, Tiny Eric a polish kid who is massive in stature, but has a kind and upright caring heart, and a talent for drawing.  But before that he wants to be a superhero, to make everyone happy especially his mum which is in a very downright negative and sad mood. To become a superhero he has come up with five “easy steps to becoming a superhero”. Not all of them go exactly as planned, and finding his mother gets more and more impossible and challenging. But can Adam become a superhero - and find his mother?

My favourite character in this novel is Adam butters, the magical main character of this story. All due to his caring heart, a lovable family which is very affectionate to him. And his obvious open mind and flexibility to new environments. In second place is Tiny Eric, Adams best friend, his talent for drawing is a treat that I  immensely admired throughout the story , and his humongous heart which is naked to the human eye, however that heart of his does have a few twists and turns which are later revealed in the story. I recommend this book to readers of all family based books, for example The Parent Agency by David Baddiel and I Swapped My Brother On The Internet by Jo simmons which I also reviewed. You can check it out at Books & Company!

Reviewed by Lahiri Paolella (Aged 11)

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy by Lara Williamson  

 

Hannah Gough
Lanny by Max Porter
 
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Lanny by Max Porter

A curious boy; tangled in the trees, wild and free.

Lanny is far from most children his age; playful yet profound, uttering the most deeply philosophical ramblings, through sweet childlike hums and innocent whispers. A boy who almost seems to slip through the fingers of anyone trying to grasp him, the mere idea of Lanny, one that is so incredibly abstract and celestial to even fathom.

Lanny by Max Porter, is one of those books where I have absolutely no idea how to begin to describe it, because of just how confusing, confounding and charming it is. A book that picks apart the inhabitants of a mysterious english village, soaking up its chatter and gossip. A village belonging to Mad Pete, the whimsical village artist, to ancient Peggy, forever prattling at her gate, to little Lanny, always on the move, for his soul craves new soil to taste, new trees to climb, new beginnings and endings.

One of the strangest yet most fascinating books I have read, Lanny by Max Porter is a perfect escape, to a place that seems so close to home yet still so far away.

Reviewed by Vindhya Kathuria

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Lanny by Max Porter  

 

Hannah Gough
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
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While we eagerly await the next season of ‘Big Little Lies’ why not pick up author Liane Moriarty’s latest novel, ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ for what promises to be another surprising rollercoaster ride of a story.

“If you are looking for a page turner then your search is over!

Each character is engaging with all their intricate personalities and of course their many flaws and it is interesting how the reader can so easily make presumptions on a character before knowing the complete back story.

Enjoy your journey to this idyllic health resort but be prepared for a slightly bizarre hiccup along the way. Thankfully Moriarty brings us back on track with a wonderful harmonious conclusion.”

Reviewed by Books & Company reader, Bobbie!

Happy reading!

Isabella Smith
Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants by Mathias Enard
 
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Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants by Mathias Enard

This week’s ‘Book of the Week’ was suggested to us by a regular customer and we were immediately intrigued by its wonderful title: Tell them of Battles, Kings and Elephants. 

The book by Mathias Enard was first published in the writer’s native French in 2010 (Parle-leur de batailles, de rois et d’éléphants) and has now been translated by Charlotte Mandell into English and published in a beautiful edition by Fitzcarraldo Editions.  

It is the story of how Michelangelo – in 1506 a young but already renowned sculptor – is invited by the sultan of Constantinople to design a bridge over the Golden Horn. The sultan has offered, alongside an enormous payment, the promise of immortality, since Leonardo da Vinci’s design was rejected. Based on real historical fragments, Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants is ‘a novella about why stories are told, why bridges are built, and how seemingly unmatched pieces, seen from the opposite sides of civilization, can mirror one another.’

And here is what our customer said of the book: 

 ’A really good, interesting and quick read. It is written in intricate details that transport you to the streets of Constantinople. A really good translation as well. The language used is beautiful throughout the entire book!’

Thanks Gustav for the suggestion and the feedback!

Happy reading! 

RESERVE YOUR COPY OF Tell Them of the Battles, Kings and Elephants by Mathias Enard

 

Hannah Gough
Murder in Midwinter by Fleur Hitchcock
 
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Murder in Midwinter by Fleur Hitchcock

Murder in Midwinter is a hugely entertaining crime novel, with a good dose of suspense, murder, friendship and loyalty added to the storyline and plot.  Maya’s life was quite normal until she took a photograph of a man with ginger curly hair and a lady - both holding guns. When she took the picture the man got a glimpse of her, before the bus drove away from the two, his face giving an emotion communicating the following message; I want to kill you... Then a body was found near where she took the picture at the bottom of the river Thames, the man whose body belonged to looked just like the man that was holding a gun in the picture that she took. That same night Maya's sister, Zahra disappears - leaving no trace from a school Christmas concert. Soon Maya starts to suspect that it could all fit together, the photo, her sister's disappearance - all of it. However the following day Zahra turns up, in front of the school safe and sound. Soon after the police get involved,  interrogating Zahra, seeking more information. When the police are finished they recommend Maya to go to a safe and remote place.

So Maya and her family decide to send Maya to her aunts remote and desolated home. When Maya arrives at the cottage she is welcomed by three dogs (whom she remembers of, from when she was a little girl) and her aunt. Maya soon starts to get anxious and worried about her family safety, and mostly her safety. As Mayas stay continues there is always a policeman on guard, however, she still feels anxious about the fact there is a man somewhere out there that is determined to kill her, Peter Romero. As Mayas worries grow in numbers she is constantly looking out of the window, checking that Peter Romero is not out there. But after a couple of break-ins and shootouts, crazy secrets and acts of friendship it all comes down to a fatal evening, a couple days before Christmas, when all is discovered and all secrets are revealed…

My favorite character in this marvelous crime novel is Maya, I chose her because she astute and sly, has a good sense of humor, but she easily gets things done. My opinion on this novel is that; it is well written, not with too much detail or intense vocabulary so it’s not a challenging read. However, the storyline and plot are quite fantastic.

I recommend this book to all fans or people who enjoy crime and mystery stories, and to people who have read some of Siobhan Dowds novels (I immensely enjoyed the two novels with Ted and his sister Kat as main characters, The London Eye Mystery and The Guggenheim Mystery). There is a new novel coming out by Fleur Hitchcock, Murder At Twilight. So keep tuned!

Reviewed by Lahiri Paolella (Aged 12)

Happy reading! 

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Hannah Gough
The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
 
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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Genre- Science fiction, fantasy, action, dystopian

“He’s so busy looking inside people to find the good that he misses the knife they’re holding in their hand.”- Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds.

Written by Alexandra Bracken, an American New York Times bestselling author, “The Darkest Minds” is a unique book which will captivate you in a world brimming with fantasy, action and thrill. Alexandra Bracken has skillfully woven together words to create scenes of suspense and tension, where hurricanes of emotions are going to rip out of you.

The book takes place in a futuristic United States of America, where a disease known as IAAN - “Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration” - grows rampant in the bodies of ten-year-old children, killing them or leaving them with supernatural powers. Soon enough, ninety-eight percent of children are dead, while the remaining are sent off to rehabilitation camps, where they live under torture and terror, a place where every wrong action is punished. In the camps, the mutated are split  into categories and, among these, the most dangerous (the “oranges”, “reds” and “yellows”), are taken away and never seen again.

On her tenth birthday, Ruby - the main character - is taken away from her parents  by the government army, after she accidentally unleashes her powers of mind manipulation caused by the IAAN disease. However, due to some flaws in the government control system, Ruby escapes her fate of death as an “orange” and lives her life in a rehabilitation camp. When she turns sixteen,  an association of rebels called the “Children’s League” help Ruby escape from the camp. After their successful escape, she ends up with a group of runaway children, as they set off into the country in search for the “Slip Kid”, a child who is said to be able to help them find their parents. But is the “Slip Kid” really who they think he is…?

If you like action-packed dystopian novels where every page results in twists and turns, this is the book for you. I thoroughly enjoyed this page-turner and would recommend it to 12+’s in search for a book which will captivate them from the start to the finish. Furthermore, the story is well written and provides the reader with a strong moral on friendship: true friends stick together in times of need, true friends help each other, true friends allow each other to hope.

“Maybe nothing will ever change us,” he said. “But don’t you want to be around just in case it does?” Alexandra Bracken- Darkest Minds

Reviewed by Marta

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Hannah Gough
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault
 
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The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault

Mesmerised by every loop and every curve; every word, of the letters stacked up high on his desk every night. Letters that didn't really belong to him, but words that felt so close to home he could hardly tell what reality was anymore. Stolen during his morning routine of sorting through the post, saved for his bedtime story, only to be steamed shut and delivered as though nothing had happened, during the next round of morning post.

Trapped in the thoughts of people he would never meet, Bilodo becomes entangled and dangerously fascinated with the conversation between one long distance couple, spoken through the beautiful art of haiku. He lives through their lyrics, feasts on their words. Curiosity churns to chaos, boredom bordering on obsession.

This unsettling yet charming story about love and loneliness, is quite unlike anything I have read before, and whose unusual characters and brilliantly addictive plot still continue to reside in the rooms of my mind.

Reviewed by Vindhya Kathuria

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Hannah Gough
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney
 
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney

This book is the 13th book in the magnificent Wimpy Kid series about Greg Heffley and his family. It is about when it snows so much that there is no school and there is a war with snowball fights and big battles between the lower part of Surrey Street and the top of the hill where Greg lives.  

It is super strange that at the beginning of the book it is scorching hot and it is in winter. Later during the war there is a lot of snow. I couldn't believe that Gary the weather forecast guy still kept his job because every single time he got the forecast wrong. Crazily once he said it was going to be sunny weather and it actually snowed three inches.

What was quite cool is they described the goat man who lived in the woods. He was scary but we never saw him. 

I liked the bit when Greg and his two brothers got a blanket for Christmas. They all wanted it at once, so they had to make a blanket schedule to say when everyone could have the blanket. At first I thought it meant Manny, Greg's younger brother would get the blanket the whole time.

At the start of the book it was so hot they were told at school not to wear shoes inside and then they started playing with their socks. It was funny that every one was playing around with their socks so the socks got put in a box.

It is a really good book and I have already read it two times.

Reviewed by Isaac (Aged 8)

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Hannah Gough
From the Corner of the Oval Office by Beck Dorey-Stein
 
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From the Corner of the Oval Office by Beck Dorey-Stein

You know when you tell yourself you're only going to read one last chapter, yeah... let's just say that didn't quite end up happening. One turned to two turned to four turned to the end turned to what on earth do I do know? From the Corner of the Oval Office, is an incredibly compulsive and fascinating story about one women's accidental career in the Obama White House. Time zones, heartbreak, friendships, glamour and gossip, stuffed into suitcases and unpacked across the world in countless hotel rooms, world leader summits, and bars.

Beck Dorey-Stein offers an intriguing and sometimes painfully embarrassing account of what it was like to work as a stenographer for the Obama administration, all thanks to one suspiciously vague craigslist ad that she randomly stumbled upon in her slumber of unemployment. The West Wing, Oval Office and Air Force One become more than just a fancy name she's heard and turn into a jetlagged, luxurious, crazy chaotic reality, where running alongside president Obama on a treadmill, in various hotel gyms around the world is apparently a thing.

This captivating, hilarious and dangerously addictive memoir, will have you screaming yes we can at the top of your lungs, and will be one you simply cannot put down.  

Reviewed by Vindhya Kathuria

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Hannah Gough