"When God Was a Rabbit" by Sarah Winman published by Headline £7.99 (2011)
Whimsical, funny tale of childhood, growing up, love, life, family and relationships. Spanning generations and decades, this is a charming novel peopled by characters you feel you almost know, and would certainly like to know. And a rabbit called God. A little slow to start, but ultimately beguiling and very readable. CM
"The Girl Savage" by Katherine Rundell published by Faber and Faber £6.99 (2011)
The Storyline is well described and is, mainly, believable. All the characters are fully explored and therefore seemed to come to life in their part of the story. Africa was bright, wild and free in stark comparison to London, which was full of boundaries and rules. A good read. Reviewed by Eleanor Patterson
The Girl Savage is an excellent book. It's an amazing new book by Katherine Rundell. It has a great storyline. Will is a thrilling character and her life is very interesting. If feel like I've been to Africa. Review by Holly, aged 10.
"At the Loch of the Green Corrie" by Andrew Greig published by Quercus £16.99 (2010)
A journey on many levels... a book about a fishing trip? Yes, at the request of Norman MacCaig, cast and retrieve. It is a tribute to MacCaig and it is about a sense of place - Assynt, beloved of both the author and MacCaig. But it is also an emotional journey, a seeking, a musing. It is about friendship, loss, love and land. And all of this tied in with Greig's fine prose. All prose writers should be poets. A very fine book, and it doesn't matter if you don't fish!
"The Hand That First Held Mine" by Maggie O'Farrell published by headline Review £16.99 (2010)
This is highly recommended by the team. Essentially two stories of childbirth and motherhood, it is a wonderful read (even for non-mothers!) peopled with great characters. To quote The Observer: "O’Farrell has a remarkable ability to convey the texture of human emotion with precision." She also has a gift for detailed observation, conveyed in sparsely beautiful prose which is never at the expense of the intense pace of the story. This is her best so far. ***Winner of Costa Novel of the Year Award 2011***
"A Game of Sorrows" by Shona MacLean published by Quercus £12.99 (2010)
Maclean’s second novel, this is a beautifully crafted historical thriller relating the further adventures of Alexander Seaton. Set in 1628, Alexander is drawn back to the land of his mother, an Ulster of curses, murder, fugitive priests, displaced poets, rebellious plotters and agents of the king. His life and liberty are threatened… This second Alexander Seaton novel has a pace which keeps ones attention all the way through, while the flawless historical setting immerses the reader in wild and lawless seventeenth century Ulster . A good read! CM
"Crow Lake" by Mary Lawson published by Vintage £7.99 (2002)
This is a wonderful piece of fiction which grabs ones attention and holds it all the way through. Crow Lake is Mary Lawson's first novel and is all the more stunning for that. Set in remote northern Canada, it is the story of a family growing up in an isolated rural community. It is no ordinary family, and yet it is. The themes are universal, but the approach and language give the novel a voice uniquely its own. The characters will haunt you long after you've read the last page. You won't be able to put it down. And you'll want to read it again... CM
"The Fire Gospel" by Michel Faber published by Canongate £7.99 (2009)
The Fire Gospel is Michel Faber's contribution to Canongates myth series, retellings by contemporary writers of timeless tales, in this case that of Prometheus. In part a pastiche of the da Vinci Code fiasco and partly a tongue in cheek send up of writers and the publishing world, Fire Gospel is a witty fast paced page turner. Its protagonist, Theo is an Aramaic academic anti hero who acquires the fifth gospel when an explosion wrecks an Iraqi museum and the scrolls literally land at his feet. Translating and publishing the work for his own fame and fortune, bring event after sensational event as Arabs, Christians and Amazon customers wreak havoc and torment on the hapless Theo. Short enough to read in one sitting, satire merges into farce in Faber's darkly bizarre tale . SK
"i Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith published by Vintage £7.99
'I write this sitting in the kitchen sink' is the first line of this timeless, witty and enchanting novel about growing up. Cassandra Mortmain lives with her bohemian and impoverished family in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Her journal records her life with her beautiful, bored sister, Rose, her fadingly glamorous stepmother, Topaz, her little brother Thomas and her eccentric novelist father who suffers from a financially crippling writer's block. A timeless classic, this delightful book is always on the shelf - a pleasure to discover for the first time, always a pleasure to re-read. CM
"A Proper Education for Girls" by Elaine di Rollo Published by Vintage £7.99
Set in 1857 between England and India, "A Proper Education for Girls" is a rollicking novel about feisty women, the devotion of sisters and the Victorian obsession with empire, experiments and photography. The central characters are 27 year-old twin sisters with a passion for botany. Lilian, in mysterious disgrace, has been married off to a dreary missionary.
Alice is left at home, curator to her father's monstrous collection of artifacts under the watchful eye of the malevolent Dr Cattermole. "A Proper Education for Girls" is a dazzling debut. Tongue-in-cheek and inventive, comic and horrifying, it illuminates the dark heart of Victorian hypocrisy and selfishness, yet at the same time is engaging and highly enjoyable.
"The Reluctant Fundamentalist" by Mohsin Hamid published by Penguin £7.99
The premise of the book is a conversation in a cafe in Lahore between Changez (a Pakistani who used to live in New York) and an American. Changez narrates his gradual dissillusionment with America, counterbalanced by his love for it and longing to be part of it. This novel is about perceptions and motives, a love story, which leads one to ask the fundamental questions of liberty, justice and equality. This is an extremely well-written, witty, thought provoking novel - a beautifully balanced portrayal of the subtleties of East Vs West. MM
"Run" by Ann Patchett
This is a lovely piece of fiction. Set in Boston, Massachusetts, it is a family saga, drawing in many facets of modern American life. Peopled by quirky and likeable characters, the story draws you in until you can't put it down. At the same time it is thought-provoking with such a light literary touch, that the pleasure is all in the reading.
Published by Bloomsbury. £7.99
"A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khalid Hosseni
The author is a wonderful storyteller. A sequel to the Kite Runner it is not - but a moving tale of Afghanistan's recent history it is. Hosseini weaves a gripping story with an evocative sense of time and place. The characters are given supreme dignity in the face of personal and national disaster. Be prepared to be both thrilled and challenged by this thought-provoking book.
Published by Bloomsbury. £7.99
"The Road Home" by Rose Tremain
A departure from her historical novels, The Road Home is a contemporary tale about a migrant worker coming to Britain to find work. All the characters are meticulously drawn. It is painful and funny by turn, and a really intelligent read.
Published by Vintage £7.99
Quercus Hardback £14.99
A gripping and and beautifully written historical murder mystery. Set in Banff in the 1620's the story centres around the poisoning of a young man, and the determination of Alexander Seaton to find the murderer. It is a convincing world into which the reader is immersed, witch-hunts and all, giving a real feeling of time and place.
Until quite recently a man only needed the signature of their GP to have his wife or daughter sectioned. A light treatment of a dark subject, this novel is impossible to put down. Forget whatever else it was you intended to do.. By turns funny and shocking and peopled by likeable, quirky characters Maggie O'Farrell weaves a moving story of three generations of the women of one family. A hugely satisfying and thought-provoking read.
Set on the island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, during the civil war in the 1990’s, the story is told through the eyes of Matilda, a thirteen-year-old who lives alone with her mother. As a result of the rebellion against the mining compnay, the island is blockaded and all the white people leave with the exception of Mr Watts, who one day appears with a book and announces that he is going to teach. The book is “Great Expectations”, and the story develops from there.
Matilda’s narrative is made all the more powerful by her simplicity. Her portrayal of character, of the island’s beauty and of the spell cast on the children and the community by an extraordinary man who becomes for them the personification of Dicken’s “Mister Pip”, create a vivid picture in the mind of the reader.
This is a magical tale which stays with you long after you have closed its cover.
Ignore the film, which in fact is very good, and read it. This wonderful little book will stop you in your tracks. A really extraordinary achievement by a man with "locked-in syndrome", only able to move an eyebrow, who "dictates" his words letter by painstaking letter. And what words. A beautiful piece of writing and a tribute to the human spirit at its best.
A humorous collection of writing by loveable old curmudgeon Dr Moody. A general practioner in the Scottish borders, this is a collection of his regular articles for a local newspaper, edited by his friend and confidant David Carvel. Prepare to laugh, and be touched, as you meet a cast of colourful characters.
Part thriller, part romance but mostly a tribute to John Buchan, this adventure story will have you gripped from the beginning. Grieg's lovely prose style never fails - this is a pleasurable light read with a dark side and a mystery underneath the mystery.