A Face like Glass - Frances Hardinge

64%
15.04.18

A solid Young Adult fantasy adventure with some imaginative and compelling ideas. It loses its way a little in the middle, and could have done with a more robust copy edit, but generally this seems to be an author to seek out for post-Potter tweens.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

68%
14.04.18

This is the Current Big Thing so, of course, I really wanted to hate it and, indeed, the narrator is incredibly irritating at first. But she mellows (or, more likely, the author forgets to make her quite as annoying) and I enjoyed the redemptive story despite myself. I also liked Glaswegian setting, a surprisingly rare location for bestselling novels.

When the Floods Came - Clare Morrall

66%
08.04.18

As post-apocalyptic, dystopian novels go, this was a lot of fun. A well-imagined situation, with interesting characters. Best not to think about the coincidences and plot holes too much.

The Word is Murder - Anthony Horowitz

66%
17.03.18

In a slightly postmodern twist on the standard murder mystery, the author casts himself in the bumbling Watson or Hastings role to the inscrutable detective. It works well as a mix of autobiography and fiction, and is cleverly plotted enough to provide enough false leads for a satisfying denouement.

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire - John August

53%
13.03.18

John August has produced one of the best structured podcasts I've heard (and I've heard a lot of podcasts) in 'Launch', about the process of writing and publishing this book. He also has a pleasantly engaging and genuine manner. He's so keen and proactive that he may actually read this (unlikely, I know!) which makes it harder than usual to say that this could have been so much better. More focus on the plot, less unnecessary dialogue, more character development, less nostalgic ropecraft. It was just kind of... vague, more like the first third of a longer novel than the self-contained Book 1 in a trilogy. OK, I'm not the target audience so I'll pass it to my daughter and see what she thinks.

Faro's Daughter - Georgette Heyer

52%
06.3.18

Another lovely Georgette Heyer but, while the Regency world was again well created, this isn't a patch on Regency Buck. So much irrational behaviour, and so few empathetic characters. Although I suppose it's hard to create any empathy for an early 19th century lord.

The Children Act - Ian McEwan

50%
25.02.18

Despite having two copies of 'Atonement', I've never read any Ian McEwan books before. I'm not sure I'll read any more in a hurry as this seemed to have little point as a novel. Yes, it raises some questions about the nature of law and the challenges of upholding it, but so does the A-Level textbook I've just edited, and that has pictures.

Once Upon a Time in the North - Philip Pullman

56%
17.02.18

A mini-tale of the wonderful Lee Scoresby and Hester, presumably to give them a little life before their memorable deaths. This being Pullman, it's exquisitely written and produced, but ultimately a little too much is going on in the background to give it a relevant focus.

The Executioner of St Paul's - Susanna Gregory

53%
16.02.18

I wouldn't normally start reading a series on the twelfth book but this seemed intriguing and accessible when I flicked through it at the library. And it was, from a historical point of view, sending me off to find out more about 1665 London. And it didn't matter that I'd not read the books that came before because the main character had no personality, actually a relief after the soapy Elly Griffiths stories. Rather a confusing array of suspects but unusual and diverting, if ultimately forgettable.

The Chalk Pit - Elly Griffiths

49%
14.02.18

The ninth book in the series creaks under the weight of the characters' emotional baggage. Not a great deal happens, except in their heads - the actual crimes seem to be an afterthought. Readable enough, as always, but not a particularly thrilling thriller.

Regency Buck - Georgette Heyer

71%
30.01.18

It seems I love Georgette Heyer's Regency romances as much now as I did when I was 14, when I last read one. The difference is these days I prefer the Regency aspects to the (rather dodgy) romance. So much research, so lightly conveyed. It's not exactly hardcore literature but who cares? It's fabulous escapism.

The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin

59%
25.01.18

It will seem as if I've learned nothing from this self-proclaimed 'stunt non-fiction' classic if I criticise it - and I did pick up a few useful tips - but that is exactly my issue. In general, the recommended path to happiness seems so passive - don't complain, don't steer a situation, don't express an opinion... improve by not improving. I was also put off at times by the general 'look at my perfect family!' sentiments. That said, it was engaging and it's always useful to be reminded of one's good fortune.

The Lunar Cats - Lynne Truss

53%
21.01.18

A nonsensical but surprisingly well-researched romp.

The Pilgrim of Hate - Ellis Peters

51%
06.01.18

Superhero monk? Check. Thwarted lovers? Check. Murder? Check, sort of. Mystery? Check, slightly. Endless descriptions of 12th-century politics? Check, unfortunately.