REVIEW: Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation, Tom Bissell

Wednesday, 28 November 2018


In Magic Hours, award-winning essayist Tom Bissell explores the highs and lows of the creative process. He takes us from the set of The Big Bang Theory to the first novel of Ernest Hemingway to the final work of David Foster Wallace; from the films of Werner Herzog to the film of Tommy Wiseau to the editorial meeting in which Paula Fox's work was relaunched into the world. Originally published in magazines such as The Believer, The New Yorker, and Harper's, these essays represent ten years of Bissell's best writing on every aspect of creation—be it Iraq War documentaries or video-game character voices—and will provoke as much thought as they do laughter. What are sitcoms for exactly? Can art be both bad and genius? Why do some books survive and others vanish?

REVIEW: One More Chance, Lucy Ayrton

Monday, 26 November 2018

Dani hasn't had an easy life. She's made some bad choices and now she's paying the ultimate price; prison. With her young daughter Bethany, growing up in foster care, Dani is determined to be free and reunited with her. There's only one problem; Dani can't stay out of trouble. Dani's new cellmate Martha is quiet and unassuming. There's something about her that doesn't add up. When Martha offers Dani one last chance at freedom, she doesn't hesitate. Everything she wants is on the outside, but Dani is stuck on the inside. Is it possible to break out when everyone is trying to keep you in...

REVIEW: The Girl From Blind River, Gale Massey

Thursday, 22 November 2018


Everyone says the Elders family are nothing but cheats, thieves, and convicts—a fact nineteen-year old Jamie Elders has been trying desperately to escape. She may have the natural talent of a poker savant, but her dreams of going pro and getting the hell out of the tiny town of Parsons, New York are going nowhere fast. Especially once she lands in a huge pile of debt to her uncle Loyal. At Loyal’s beck and call until her debt is repaid, Jamie can’t easily walk away—not with her younger brother Toby left at his mercy. So when Loyal demands Jamie’s help cleaning up a mess late one night, she has no choice but to agree. But disposing of a dead man and covering up his connection to the town’s most powerful judge goes beyond family duty. When it comes out that the victim was a beloved athlete and Loyal pins the murder on Toby, only Jamie can save him. But with a dogged detective on her trail and her own future at stake, she’ll have to decide: embrace her inner criminal, or defy it—and face the consequences. 

REVIEW: The Fact of a Body, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Tuesday, 20 November 2018


Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes―the moment she hears him speak of his crimes―she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar. Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky's crime. But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s.

Try a Chapter: Mystery/Thrillers #2

Sunday, 18 November 2018


It's my birthday and I can... read the first chapters of mystery/thrillers if I want to.

REVIEW: Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, Roxane Gay

Friday, 16 November 2018


In this valuable and revealing anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied” for speaking out. Contributions include essays from established and up-and-coming writers, performers, and critics, including actors Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union and writers Amy Jo Burns, Lyz Lenz, Claire Schwartz, and Bob Shacochis. Covering a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation, this collection is often deeply personal and is always unflinchingly honest. Like Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, Not That Bad will resonate with every reader, saying “something in totality that we cannot say alone.” Searing and heartbreakingly candid, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that “not that bad” must no longer be good enough.

REVIEW: Painter to the King, Amy Sackville

Wednesday, 14 November 2018


This is a portrait of Diego Velazquez, from his arrival at the court of King Philip IV of Spain, to his death 38 years and scores of paintings later. It is a portrait of a relationship that is not quite a friendship, between an artist and his subject. It is a portrait of a ruler, always on duty, and increasingly burdened by a life of public expectation and repeated private grief. And it is a portrait of a court collapsing under the weight of its own excess. Unfolding through series of masterly set-pieces and glancing sketches, this is a novel of brilliance, imagination and sheer style -- about what is shown and what is seen, about art and life.

REVIEW: The Classroom, A.L. Bird

Monday, 12 November 2018


Letting go of your daughter for the first time isn’t easy. After years of IVF, Kirsten White is a devoted mum to Harriet and she can’t believe the time has come to send her little girl off to school. But Harriet has now turned five, and she can’t stay Kirsten’s baby forever. It might be hard, but it’s time to entrust her daughter’s care to her new teacher. The classroom is the one place she should be safe. Miriam Robertson has been waiting for the perfect little girl to walk into her class. She’s very picky but when Harriet walks in, Miriam knows: this is the child she’s been waiting for. Harriet knows not to speak to strangers. But her lovely new teacher isn’t a stranger at all. In fact, she’s her new best friend. And you can always trust your friends can’t you? 

End of the Year Book Tag

Saturday, 10 November 2018


Coming in more than a little late, but this tag is absolutely everywhere right now so I thought I would put my penny's worth in. I do not think there has ever been a point in the last five years or so, when I have sat back and not loudly and obnoxiously shared my opinion, so I see no reason to start now.

REVIEW: Genuine Fraud, E. Lockhart

Thursday, 8 November 2018


Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat. Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. A bad romance, or maybe three. Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her. A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

REVIEW: Ayiti, Roxane Gay

Tuesday, 6 November 2018


In Ayiti, a married couple seeking boat passage to America prepares to leave their homeland. A young woman procures a voodoo love potion to ensnare a childhood classmate. A mother takes a foreign soldier into her home as a boarder, and into her bed. And a woman conceives a daughter on the bank of a river while fleeing a horrific massacre, a daughter who later moves to America for a new life but is perpetually haunted by the mysterious scent of blood.