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SNAP by Belinda Bauer

12-year old Jack’s mother is murdered and his father can’t cope, abandoning Jack to look after his two younger sisters. He thinks he knows who did it, but getting the police involved isn’t straightforward when your sisters depend on your burglary skills to feed them. Great characterisation and well plotted. 8.5 out of 10. Oct 2018

The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius

Sally Jones is a gorilla, first mate on a ship in 1920s Portugal. When the Captain is falsely accused of murder, she sets out to prove him wrong but tracking down the person who can prove that is very hard, especially if you’re an ape. A wonderful old-fashioned adventure, drifts in the middle a little. 8 out of 10. Oct 2018

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

84-year old Florence takes a tumble in her flat. Lying there she thinks about the man who recently joined the Cherry Tree care home – she’s sure he died 60 years ago. Is she mad or is there a mystery to be solved? Tender and funny, dealing nicely with dementia though the prose is a little wordy at time. 7.5 out of 10. Oct 2018

Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve

In the distant future, cities on wheels fight each other for survival. Tom and Hester’s adventures as they try to foil London’s attempts to unleash an ancient weapon of unspeakable power. And try to stay one step ahead of an unstoppable robot assassin. Imaginative, lively and exciting. First in series. 9 out of 10. Sep 2018

The Portal by Andrew Norriss

William and Daniel’s parents go missing and the excuse made by their uncle is suspicious. William finds out his dad looked after an intergalactic portal in the basement and William takes over the responsibility, while trying to uncover what happened to his parents. Satisfying mystery. 8 out of 10. Sep 2018

The Legend of Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood

Podkin, Paz and Pook have to flee their warren when the Gorm invades and kill their father. They escape with a magic dagger that has to be kept out of the Gorm’s hands. A great setting, exciting adventures full of fine characters. Start of a series that I can’t wait to continue. 9 out of 10. Sep 2018

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn

A fantasy set in feudal Japan, Takeo is saved from his village’s massacre by Lord Otori and discovers he has secret, magical powers that make him a perfect assassin. Lord Otori wants revenge on Warlord Iida, but inevitably there are complications including a singing (titular) floor and a love story. Part one of five. 7.5 out of 10. Aug 2018

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Harold, recently retired, lives in a joyless marriage. A letter informs him that a dear colleague is dying of cancer. Harold goes to post a reply but decides to walk 600 miles to see his friend. A tender journey full of physical and emotional highs and lows. A story of poignant memories and dealing with past mistakes. 8.5 out of 10. Aug 2018

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin

A planet in permanent winter, peopled by androgynous people who choose their sexuality each month. Genly Ai is an envoy who becomes embroiled in their politics. He has to be rescued by an exiled politician and begins an epic journey across the ice. Memorable world building and contemplation of gender politics. 8 out of 10. Aug 2018

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

Wren lives in a village where the boys hunt her once a year in a warped childhood game. Wren is a witch and the boys are Judges. She goes undercover to find out their secrets and meets a Judge who she falls in love with. Romeo & Juliet. YA romance. Not my cup of tea. 6 out of 10. July 2018

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

A terra-formed planet is selected for an experiment with accelerated evolution. It goes wrong and a breed of super spiders is created. Hundreds of year later, after an apocalyptic war, the last of the humans are on an ark and need a new home. The spiders aren’t keen on sharing. Clever, but long. 8 out of 10. July 2018

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

16-year old Starr is witness to her un-armed friend’s shooting by a policeman. She goes to a posh white-dominated school but lives in a black neighbourhood. There seems no justice for her friend unless Starr speaks out. Brilliant, enlightening, important storytelling of the first order. Great characters. 9 out of 10. July 2018

Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce

Emmy helps an Agony Aunt pen letters during the Blitz, but her boss refuses to answer if there is any ‘unpleasantness’ involved. Emmy takes it upon herself to reply in secret and lands in deep trouble. Very atmospheric, Emmy’s voice is delightful and witty but there’s a serious side to her plucky courage. Loved it. 9 out of 10. May 2018

The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana

When Anna is 12, her sister goes missing and the mystery remains unsolved. Returning to her home village as an adult when her Mum dies, Anna is determined to find out what really happened. Good depiction of village life, but there was no missing clock and the characters didn’t appeal to me. 6.5 out of 10. June 2018

Witchborn by Nicholas Bowling

Alyce’s mother is killed by a witch-finder at the start of the book and she flees to London. She makes a friend, Solomon, and finds out that both Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I are desperate to get hold of her. Quite dark YA, maybe not for younger readers. Enjoyable and well-paced. 8 out of 10. June 2018

Ancillary Justice by Ann Lecke

Brecq is the last surviving avatar of a once-mighty ship, out for revenge. She needs to find a special gun that can defeat Lord Mianaai’s armour and work out why the Lord is seemingly at war with herself.  A slightly baffling story line, told in flash back that slowly makes sense. Excellent world building but didn’t live up to the hype. 7.5 out of 10. Apr 2018

Guilt by Amanda Robson

The story of twins: Zara self-harming and Miranda sensible and trying to look after her sister. When Zara becomes besotted with a new boyfriend, Miranda is torn between happiness for her sister and distrust of the new man. Her fears are founded and the story switches between flash back and Miranda awaiting trial for her sister’s murder. 8 out of 10. Apr 2018

Mad by Chloe Esposito

The start of a trilogy about Alvira Knightley, out-of-control twin sister to Beth. Beth invites Alvie to stay and swap identities for a few hours. The plan goes awry and the number of bodies and bonk scenes soon ratchets up. Mafia, murder, stolen art and Lamborghinis. Clever plot keeps you guessing. Outrageous and thrilling. 9 out of 10. May 2018

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

A toddler survives when Jack kills his family, protected through childhood by a graveyard’s residents. Borrowing heavily from The Jungle Book, but given such a magical, urban fantasy make-over that it’s easy to wallow in Gaiman’s genius. Wonderful characters and plot. 9 out of 10. Apr 2018

Runemarks by Joanne M Harris

A story set in a world after the Norse Gods have been defeated, when young Maddy discovers her own magical powers. A good attempt to use this well-known saga for fantasy purposes. But too many coincidences and innocent bystanders who end up being crucial to the plot. 7 out of 10. Apr 2018

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

A brilliant voice of an intelligent but troubled, lonely woman. Full of dry wit, in its light moments reminiscent of Jerome K Jerome. This is also a story of tragic, buried trauma and of the hope driven by small acts of kindness. Enriching and powerful. 9.5 out of 10. Apr 2018

Tin by Padraig Kenny

A group of mechanical children go on an adventure after one of them goes missing. They track down the country’s expert on robots but must battle the son of another expert. A steampunk version of Wizard of Oz. Great characters, tenderness and imagination. A pacy adventure for middle-grade readers (and me). 8.5 out of 10. Mar 2018

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Months after Anna loses both parents to identical suicides, a note arrives suggesting foul play. She always felt something was not right but will her investigation bring pain or closure? Full of twists and unreliable narration. An easy page turner. 8 out of 10. Mar 2018

The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

Juliette has lost her pilot boyfriend, Nate, but trains to be cabin crew so she can win him back. Nothing will stand in the way of this obsessive stalker. Past traumas emerge but Nate is facing an unstoppable force. An unusual ending. 8 out of 10. Mar 2018

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

A story of a northern village haunted by the disappearance of a teenage girl. Highly unusual omniscient POV writing style where each chapter covers an entire year of events in snippet form. Distancing at first, but entrancing by the end as you get to know the characters and nature’s rhythms. 8.5 out of 10. Feb 2018

The Last Day by Claire Dyer

When Boyd (plus girlfriend) needs to move back in with his ex-wife for financial reasons, an unusual triangular relationship develops, where each person is weighed down by memories of guilt, loss and love. A well-constructed plot, with a twist at the end. Lots of emotion but not overly sentimental. 8.5 out of 10. Mar 2018

The Ice by Laline Paul

Climate change has brought politics and business to the arctic. A dead body is found and the inquest force the deceased friend and business partner to question himself and others’ motives. An intriguing but not quite gripping plot, saved by an exciting ending. 8 out of 10. Mar 2018

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Karou is a 17 year-old art student in Prague, who happens to have been raised by a demon living on the other side of a portal. Karou meets an angel, trying to destroy her demonic foster father. As her memories of a past life flood back to her, a romance with Akiva the angel reveals itself. Heart-rending. 9 out of 10. Jan 2018

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

When a giant hand that pre-dates all human civilisation is discovered, the race to find the other body parts is on. Who left it behind. And will they come back? Is this technology too dangerous for one country to control? Clever and snappy. World War Z for robots. First in a trilogy. The aliens are on their way… 8.5 out of 10. Feb 2018

The Babylon Idol by Scott Mariani

This is ronseal literature: it does exactly what it says on the tin. Ben Hope has made lots of enemies and one of them is out to get him and all his associates. Ben races to save professor Anna Manzini. A deadly race is on to find an ancient golden idol. And the baddies don’t play fair. Enjoyable, if formulaic, page-turner. 7 out of 10. Feb 2018

Dodgers by Bill Beverly

A gripping literary crime novel about East, a teenage black kid in a drugs gang. Sent on a mission to kill a judge with his estranged brother and two others, the road trip reveals much about America, the boy and his choices. Well paced, subtle tension and sympathetic characters. You’re rooting for East despite his misdemeanours. 9 out of 10. Jan 2018

Beetle Boy by MG Leonard

An middle-grade book about a boy called Darkus whose father goes missing in mysterious circumstance. Darkus befriends a beetle that seems to understand him. Lucretia Cutter is a classic villain and Darkus’ mad neighbours are great inventions. Darkus and friends to the rescue! Very enjoyable. 8.5 out of 10. Jan 2018

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone

In the far North kingdom of Erkenwald, the Ice Queen rules, but some children have evaded capture and are planning to fight back. When one of them rescues a girl called Eska, they realise she holds the key to retrieving the Frost Horn and defeating the queen. Enchanting setting, atmosphere and lovely characters. 8.5 out of 10. Jan 2018

2017 books

The Reader on the 6:27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

A charming, quixotic love story about a man who rescues pages from a book pulping machine. He discovers pages from a woman’s diary, falls in love and tries to find her. Full of quirky characters and humour. Think Gaiman after a bottle of Pernod. 8 out of 10. Dec 2017

The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

Murdered bodies turn up just after the Great Fire dies out in London. Harwood is asked to investigate in an atmosphere of recriminations against the roundheads now that the monarchy is restored. Also the story of a young woman, Cat, who flees from her family. Intertwines very nicely. Atmospheric. 8.5 out of 10. Dec 2017

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

The story of an unlikely love triangle. Ellis is forced to work at the local car factory but yearns for beauty. His friend Michael feels the same, but after Ellis marries, Michael disappears for several years. Tragedy happens when he comes back. Evocative writing, clever structure but a lack of action put me off. 6.5 out of 10. Dec 2017

Dr Jekyll & Mr Seek by Anthony O’Neill

An intriguing sequel to Stevenson’s original. Dr Jekyll’s lawyer is about to inherit his fortune, when an impostor turns up claiming to be Dr Jekyll. Mr Seek knows this is false, but cannot persuade others without ruining his friend’s reputation and memory. Atmospheric and well written. 7.5 out of 10. Nov 2017

Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene

A king’s son is foretold to spell his doom and is whisked away before the king can kill him. The son is the reincarnation of the Moon God and lots of people are after him. A complicated story (slow to get going) of tribal hatred, political machinations, warring gods. Cruel and hard to root for any one character, except the giant talking bat. 7 out of 10. Nov 2017

Leviathan by Paul Auster

A writer, Sachs, blows himself up building a bomb, and a fellow author relates the man’s story. Lots of affairs, friendships and falling-outs, but not much happens until a fatal encounter with a man in the wilderness. Sachs finds money and bomb-making equipment and begins his descent. Dense, slightly dull. 6 out of 10. Nov 2017

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Women discover they have the power to use electric jolts to overpower, even kill others. Women take revenge for their centuries of suppression. Male terror groups try to resist. Eve provokes all-out war, hoping for total annihilation and a new beginning for humanity. Good concept, but too preachy and not enjoyable. 6 out of 10. Oct 2017

Doorways by Robert Enright

The Otherside is a parallel universe, hiding in plain sight of our world. Only a few can see the Others and only one can travel there. Bermuda Jones works for an elite organisation trying to keep us safe. But one of the Others is determined to conquer our world. Enjoyable romp. 8 out of 10. Oct 2017

Stranger of Tempest by Tom Lloyd

A group of mercenaries get hired to help a lady escape a city. But she turns out to be an assassin and soon there is an army on their tail. The only route takes the group through a ruined, underground city. And down there, there are worse things than being chased by an army of fanatics. Very enjoyable. 8 out of 10. Oct 2017

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The story of Offred’s life in a totalitarian America. Fertile women are used by the commanders to reproduce. But the resistance and outside world offers hope of escape. What must Offred do to get out? Flashbacks set the scene, revealing just enough each time. Fantastic detail, chilling. 9 out of 10. Sep 2017

Dead Lions by Mick Heron

The second novel about Jackson Lamb and his bunch of misfits in Slough House. An ex-spook is murdered by an ex-KGB man and Lamb suspects there is a sleeper cell ready to be awakened. A high-profile Russian oil baron is visiting London and something’s not quite right. Plenty of twists, humour and pace. 9 out of 10. Sep 2017

Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg

A boy falls to his death from a roof. The police conclude accident, his neighbour, Miss Smilla thinks otherwise. She uncovers a trail to repeated expeditions to Greenland, where not everyone comes back. How is this all related? A strong and unusual voice. Very atmospheric. 8 out of 10. Sep 2017

Miss You by Kate Eberlen

The story of Tess and Gus whose lives keep criss-crossing but never quite meeting up. Relationships come and go, lots of affairs. Tess’ story is really the hard-luck when her mother dies and her autistic sister needs caring for. The men in the story are all unsympathetic. Nice flow to the narrative, good observations about family life. 7.5 out of 10. July 2017

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The animals drive out the farmer and start up their own commune run by themselves for themselves. Well meaning rules are set and everything goes well to start with. But soon the pigs exploit the rules for their own benefit and then fight amongst themselves until, Napoleon becomes a despot. Rules are altered, history re-written. And the masses are down-trodden once again. Biting satire. 9 out of 10. August 2017

How to Write Like Tolstoy by Richard Cohen

Non-fiction, looking at what makes a great novel and how different authors go about achieving this. The editor uses lots of fine examples to discuss beginnings, characters, plagiarism, points of view, dialogue, plot, rhythm, editing and endings. Very insightful. 8 out of 10. August 2017

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Katie Kontent is determined to be a success in late 1930s New York. She is smart & witty but loses her dream man, Tinker Grey, to her best friend. The plot sagged a little in the middle as Katie drifts in and out of relationships but ends very well. Katie finds out the truth about Tinker, reminiscent of the Great Gatsby. This is written in brilliant evocative style. Full of wry humour, Katie is a heroine worth rooting for. 8 out of 10. June 2017

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

A story that flits between just before and after a flu pandemic wipes out 99% of humanity. It centres around Kirsten, who lives in a travelling caravan troupe and a famous film star who died just as the pandemic hit North America. Several of the actor’s friends survived in different ways and their stories are told in flashback. The future is bleak and scary but full of kindness and love too. Moving. 9 out of 10. July 2017

The May Queen by Helen Irene Young

May’s life is dominated by her Ma, especially after her sister, Sophie, disappears with a baby out of wedlock. May’s heart is stolen by the Lord of the Manor’s son, but she thinks he’s responsible for Sophie’s child. WWII breaks out and May becomes a wren, finding another man, but never falling for him. After the war she is re-united with Sophie and the heart-throb. Very distinctive voice, and the era is well-captured. Accomplished debut. 8 out of 10. July 2017

Electric Souk by Rose McGinty

Aisling moves to Arabia to work for the health service there. Her relationships turn out to be troubling and a potential boyfriend seems crooked. The locals are friendlier but who works for the secret police? As the Arab Spring erupts, she needs to flee the country but whom can she trust? Atmospheric & paranoid, but the passage of time is slightly did-jointed. 7 out of 10. May 2017

Valdez is Coming by Elmore Leonard

A black man is killed accidentally for crime he didn’t commit. Bob V.aldez, town constable, tries to win compensation for the man’s widow from Frank the man who wrongly accused the black man. When Frank’s men beat Valdez and leave him for dead, their only problem is they didn’t finish the job. Valdez is coming to get you. Fine, compact storytelling, very satisfying ending. 9 out of 10. May 2017

Beware the Cuckoo by Julie Newman

Three teenage girls growing up in the late 1970s, one of them abused by another’s father. The story flits between that timeline and the present day when two of the girls are reunited with secrets and scores to settle. The dual timeline reveals just enough information each time to maintain the intrigue. Well-paced easy read. 7 out of 10. June 2017

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

Barbara turns herself into Sophie and lands a starring role in a TV comedy, her life-long ambition. Evokes the 1960s London scene nicely along with its blatant sexism, homophobia and clash of establishment vs youth. The dialogue is excellent and the interplay of relationships amongst the cast, writers and director very good. Funny but not hilarious. 7 out of 10. May 2017

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Cora Seaborne’s abusive husband dies and frees her to pursue her interests in science and the natural world. Out in Essex, rumours of a serpent drowning people swirl in the beautifully evocative Victorian mists. A minister of the local parish befriends, Cora, much to the annoyance of her London friends. A story about religion vs science and about dealing with the unknown. 8 out of 10. May 2017

Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan

Two lovers, Carys and Max, are thrown from their spaceship with only 90 minutes of oxygen left. As they struggle to find a way back to the ship they argue and reminisce. A dystopian Earth where young people are meant to serve time for the community before they can settle. Challenging the rules, they are sent into space to be together. Can one of them save the other? I wasn’t that bothered. 6 out of 10. May 2017

The Late Hector Kipling by David Thewlis

A successful artist is jealous of his friend’s nomination for the Turner prize. Hector has a lovely girlfriend and a new exhibition coming up. He thinks he needs some bad news in his life and soon he has more than he can cope with. A self-destructive spiral ensues. Dark, humorous, crackling dialogue and some great one-liners. Ending too downbeat for my tastes. 8 out of 10. Apr 2017

The Alchemist’s Secret by Scott Mariani

The first Ben Hope adventure. Ex-SAS sent on a mission to find an ancient alchemist’s secret that could save the life of a dying child. Soon Hope is trying to stay ahead of the police and a dangerous organisation after the very same thing. Plenty of action and historical code-breaking. Very close to Dan Brown in feel. 7 out of 10. Apr 2017

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

The first Harry Dresden file – he’s a wizard private investigator who helps police solve unusual cases. A missing husband and a grizzly murder are connected, somehow. Magic realism crossed with Ray Chandler gum-shoe detection and lots of action. Harry Potter meets Dirty Harry. Strong cast of supporting characters. Very enjoyable. 8 out of 10. Apr 2017

The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts

A bit like Foucault’s Pendulum, I’m not sure if this is genius or nonsense. High concept sci-fi full of wit and imagination. Some sub-plots irritate and detract. I almost gave up halfway through. A secret institute is researching AI and teleportation, using Kant’s philosophy about The Thing Itself. 2 men on an Antarctic research base, 20 years earlier, are somehow caught up. Good ending, so glad I stuck with it. 7 out of 10. Mar 2017

Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

The story of a gun runner, Ordell Robbie, who uses and disposes of people at will while the police are trying to entrap him. When Ordell asks Jackie Burke (renamed Brown for the film) to smuggle money for him,  and the police want her to help them, Jackie out-foxes them all. Max Cherry, a bail bondsman, wants to help her but stay on the right side of the law. Great story-telling, crossed purposes, razor sharp dialogue. 9 out of 10. Mar 2017

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Darrow is a Red, a miner who lives inside Mars, struggling to make the planet inhabitable for future generations. But in reality, the planet surface has been lived on for decades and the Reds are slaves for the Golds. A rebel group transform Darrow into a Gold and in the first of this trilogy he must pass through the deadly academy as a winner and into a position of power. 9 out of 10. Mar 2017

Slow Horses by Mick Herron

A sharp, intelligent thriller about the forgotten department of MI5 – Slough House – full of supposed no-hopers headed by Jackson Lamb. A hostage due to be be-headed, double-crossings, plots within plots. Full of dry wit and lively characters that make this a cracking read. 9 out of 10. Feb 2017

The Red Dancer by Richard Skinner

The fictionalised life of Mata Hari, as seen through the eyes of people who knew her. The early, disastrous marriage, the re-invention as an exotic dancer and peak in fame. And then as WWI breaks out, the life as a double agent and eventual execution. The narrative structure keeps the subject lively and ephemeral. 7 out of 10. Feb 2017

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The story of a boy coming to terms with his mother’s terminal illness. Bullied at school, an absent father and a strict grandmother pile on the pressure. A monster with attitude – the Green Man – comes to visit, to help in ways that Conor does not expect. Poignant, emotional depth. 9 out of 10. Feb 2017

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land

This is darkness beyond my comfort zone. A daughter turns in her serial-killer mother to the police. But is the girl destined to be like her mum, or can she start a new life with a foster family? Chilling, taught and very well written. Stays with you long after the book is finished. 8 out of 10. Jan 2017

Dune by Frank Herbert

I read this many times in my youth, returned to it for a book club. The plot remains fantastic. The political machinations, the completeness of the setting is so well thought out, it’s completely logical and believable. Full of brilliant characters, heroes and anti-heroes. Stands the test of time well. 9 out of 10. Jan 2017

Journey Into Fear by Eric Ambler

A great story about an engineer dragged into the shady world of espionage at the onset of WWII. Atmospheric, tense, full of well-rounded characters and a nail-biting, satisfactory finish. The 210 pages flew buy. Have ordered more from Ambler – a forgotten genius, front-runner to Fleming, Deighton and Le Carre. 8 out of 10. Jan 2017

2016 books

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The brilliant start to a trilogy that I can’t wait to finish. The Name of the Wind is about a hero, Kvothe, who relates the story of his childhood and magical education. But this is no Potter-derivative. 660 pages and the pace never drops. Full of intelligent depth that doesn’t obstruct the flow. 9 out of 10. Dec 2016

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Wonderfully written dark fairy tale of a wizard in a tower, an evil forest and the coming of age of a young woman who becomes the wizard’s apprentice. Agnieska turns into a very powerful sorceror but she’ll need all that to combat the evil that lives in the forest. Fine fantasy. 9 out of 10. Aug 2016

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Beautiful writing that gives a powerful treatment of memories, time and the enduring love of a couple. All set in dark ages England. The land is wrapped in a strange mist – the breath of a dragon – that helps people forget the horrors of the war just gone. A warrior sets out to defeat the dragon, while a knight tries to keep it safe. 9 out of 10. Mar 2016

The Silent Children by Amna Boheim

The ghostly tale of tragedy and revenge from debut author Amna K Boheim. This book won an indie award and is well deserving of praise. The setting jumps between pre-WW II Vienna and modern-day London. Dark and unsettling at time. 7 out of 10. Nov 2016

Saga Volume 1.

Yes I know I am late to the party – many volumes of enjoyment for me to catch up on. This is a very graphic graphic-novel starting with a humorous birth scene and including plenty of violence and sex. And yet, even with sparse dialogue, it’s full of wit and depth. 9 out of 10. Dec 2016

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

A very famous book – really a novella at 176 pages – about the WWII bombing of the German city Dresden. Vonnegut tells the story of a prisoner of war who after the war gets captured by aliens and starts to slip back and forth through time. Very effective and affecting. 8 out of 10. Dec 2016.

The Rose of Tibet by Lionel Davidson

Evocative, tough as teak adventure full of vivid characters and challenges that push the protagonists to the limit. A monastery, a treasure and a chase that you’ll never forget. Slightly unusual framing device of a journal being pieced together by a writer. 8 out of 10. Jul 2016

The Life Assistance Detective Agency by Thomas Hocknell

Well paced plot with a nice twist at the end. Two detectives go in search of a missing professor who is obsessed with Elizabethan Dr John Dee, and scrying for Angels. Humour and fantasy elements that reminisce of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently. 8 out of 10. Oct 2016

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

The story of two school friends, one a witch, the other a brilliant scientist. An unusual chatty style of writing that is full of humour, intrigue and wild ideas. While the middle drags, the start and ending are great. A bold attempt at fusing sci-fi with fantasy. 8 out of 10. Sep 2016

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Writing that conjures up wonderful and scary images as well as recreating what it is like to be a seven-year old child in an adult world. Fantasy that deals with what makes us who we are and our worth. Short but poignant. 9 out of 10. Jun 2016

Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald

Lots of fine detail about politics, the legal system and fashion as well as the technology behind a moon colony. Everything, even the air you breathe, must be paid for. Feuding families. Slightly ponderous middle. First in a series – not entirely satisfactory as a standalone work. 5 out of 10. Feb 2016

Stasi Child by David Young

Evocative, well researched, detective novel set in East Germany before the Wall came down. The plot proceeds at a good pace, with obstacles typical of the genre, including a failing marriage and an internal cover-up.  7 out of 10. Aug 2016

2015 books