Less - Andrew Sean Greer

72%
13.10.18

It would have been so easy to find this book and its hapless, Sterne-inspired hero annoying, for it to have fallen on the side of pretension rather than invention. It could have been trite and predictable - and it very nearly is. But it's not. It's really rather wonderful - funny, sharp, warm, wise, and, secretly, subtly, clever and complex.

The City & the City - China MiƩville

66%
05.10.18

This came highly recommended from another editor, and the concept and standard of writing were indeed pretty fantastic, cleverly layered and thought provoking. It was a pity the characterisation was non-existent and the murder-mystery plot really just a means of conveying the complex world of the cities. (Apparently, it's been recently televised and I would be interested to see exactly how they handled it.)

Come to the Edge - Joanna Kavenna

51%
26.09.18

Not as funny or memorable as the cover reviews make out.

Different Class - Joanne Harris

Didn't finish

I wanted to find out exactly when the misdirection promised on the cover was going to materialise but it was so slow as to almost go backwards and I ran out of patience.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Joan Aiken

60%
18.09.18

I read this kids' classic to screen it for my daughter, who was nervous of the eponymous wolves. Turns out they're zombie prototypes, though sadly their significance becomes merely metaphorical as the story progresses into Jane Eyre/Lemony Snicket territory. Readable enough, if rather odd.

Fools and Mortals - Bernard Cornwell

64%
04.09.18

It seems I've never read any Bernard Cornwell before and apparently this isn't typical of his portfolio, but I enjoyed the historical detail, confident prose and mischievous re-imagining of Shakespeare (and his less intelligent but more engaging fictional brother).


Standard Deviation - Katherine Heiny

71%
21.08.18

This was fabulous! It immediately appealed in Waterstones, for some reason, and my instincts were good (for once) as it turned out to be unusually funny and quietly rather wise. One for recommending but with the warning that (spoiler about lack of spoilers) it doesn't really end properly; it just serves up a defined slice of life.

The Original Ginny Moon - Benjamin Ludwig

52%
01.08.18

Stories narrated by autistic teenagers but written by non-autistic adults make me uncomfortable. Yes, writers need to put themselves into other minds but it always comes across as both arrogant and patronising. Although this was quite interesting, it was no exception, though it wasn't just the narrator who was frustratingly annoying.

Clock Dance - Anne Tyler

62%
14.07.18

I love Anne Tyler's writing so much that I got this as soon as it was published (the UK cover isn't as appropriate as this one, presumably the US version). Her books are wise and quirky and well-observed... and this was... yet it seemed unremarkable, even inconsequential. It's really a series of short stories about the central character but doesn't quite hang together as a novel. If it wasn't Anne Tyler, I probably wouldn't be so indulgent.

The Bellwether Revivals - Benjamin Wood

62%
09.07.18

This was on my 'to be read' list for, literally, years. So was it worth the wait? Well, it's very readable, the prose is strikingly lovely at times, and the descriptions are often uniquely evocative. The characters and the plot, however, are vague and ill-defined. Stuff happens; people react; it tails off to a whimper.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here - Patrick Ness

58%
01.07.18

There's no denying that Patrick Ness is among the most accomplished and inventive authors of Young Adult fiction. He's great at developing characters and experimenting with ideas, so the 'off-centre heroism' premise for this was intriguing. But it didn't really work, ending up an uncomfortable mix of sketchy fantasy and teenage angst.

The Silent Companions - Laura Purcell

60%
27.06.18

When I picked this up in Waterstones, three separate booksellers swooped down to convince me of its brilliance. Well, as derivative Gothic horror goes, it's pretty accomplished at ratcheting up the inevitable doom. But the characters, like the sinister 'companions' of the title, are unlikable and two-dimensional, and so much is thrown at the plot that it becomes more creaky than creepy.

Solomon Creed - Simon Toyne

46%
24.06.18

From the British tone of voice in an American setting to the unconvincing characters and incoherent plot, there is nothing very thrilling about this ridiculous thriller.

The Swish of the Curtain - Pamela Brown

67%
13.06.18

With a sudden burst of nostalgia for this childhood favourite, I ordered the new edition from the library. And, while it's not exactly the epic tale of theatre folk I remembered, it's still a delightful, perceptive and engaging account of a group of overachieving children (mostly aged 13+ but teenagers had not yet been invented). It's even more extraordinary for having been written by a 14 year old, evidently an overachiever herself.

The Music Shop - Rachel Joyce

56%
10.06.18

Unlike Joyce's other books, this is sad but not tragic, and [spoiler] even has a happy, cheesy ending, which is unexpected from this author. It's also so slow, with such tedious characters, that I nearly gave up several times. Well-written, of course, but unremarkable.