This is possibly the cleverest book I’ve ever read – The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Thoughts


A new father is obsessed with his baby. Proud, loving, caring, desperate to care for it. But it’s mother does not think it’s a baby. When she commits the unspeakable then disappears, the father is left devastated – but in the middle of his grief and anger is drawn into a far stranger world than he ever imagined, which he must conquer to recover what has been lost.

This is probably the strangest book I have ever read – and certainly one of the cleverest. And also one of the most difficult. I am thoroughly glad I read this book a few months ago and not after my baby has been born (scheduling ahead from maternity leave here…) as I could only just about cope at that moment. It crosses boundaries books don’t usually broach, but follows it up extremely well. I was left shocked, surprised, thrilled, confounded and delighted by different parts of the story, and continue to think of it with complete amazement. What a triumph!

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This book was so much more fun than I thought it would be – Welcome to Lagos by Chibundo Onuzo

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Chike Ameobi is running away from the army. As he heads towards Lagos he finds himself picking up other runaways, and by the time they reach the city there are five of them, including a nervous woman escaping a bad marriage and a boy desperate to be on the radio. Their arrival coincides with a political scandal: the minister of education has disappeared with a large amount of money. Their attempts to create new lives for themselves and find opportunities leads them to consequences they would never have imagined…

I didn’t know what to expect here. I’d been to an event with the author and really liked her so was excited to delve in, but, with complete prejudice which I repent of totally, I expected this to be very worthy, very intense and probably a little boring. It was anything but. The plot was compelling and fascinating, the characters relatable, their interaction convincing and the setting varied. I felt thoroughly pleased to have read this book, and am this very moment thinking through who I should buy it for.

Am I finally getting too old for YA? The (fantastic) Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy – Laini Taylor

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended, teen book reviews, Uncategorized, Writing


Stunning, secretive Karou has lived a strange life in different cities, never putting down roots or having a real family. But that’s because she lives at least half of her life elsewhere – in another world, where a strange monster who is the closest thing she has to a parent sends her on missions to collect teeth. But when angels, and one particular, very handsome angel, crash into her world and a supernatural, inter-universal war that has continued through centuries…

Obviously I can’t really summarise three action and emotion packed books above, but that gives the kind of basic setting. This is a huge, ambitious, far-reaching and cataclysmic trilogy with exceptionally strong world-building, well established foundations and sympathetic characters who weave their way compellingly through gripping circumstances. It’s got gorgeous young adults who fall passionately in love, it’s got supernatural powers, friendship, betrayal, crazy monsters… just all you could possibly need from a YA fantasy series. And in many ways, I loved it. But in the end I think I’m left feeling I’m just a bit too old.

I learned less but felt more than I expected in Gaiman’s Norse Mythology

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The Gods of Asgard live a strange existence; seeking knowledge, battling enemies, trying to contain the nefarious Loki and restrain the hot-headed Thor. Gods, giants, trolls and more plot, scheme, fight and invent in this series of myths spanning from creation through to Ragnarok; the end…

I was really excited to read Gaiman’s retelling of Norse myth. For several reasons: I love Gaiman, I love Norse mythology, and I wanted to know more about it. The book wasn’t quite what I expected. I was looking for more depth, more information and a more cohesive plot. But that’s not what myths are, and soon I found myself bewitched by the simple storytelling and strange world that I was encountering.

Why on EARTH did Persephone Books choose William – An Englishman by Cicely Hamilton as their first ever book?!

Book Reviews, book shops, Book Thoughts, literary london, London, Uncategorized


William’s controlling mother dies suddenly, and his new freedom finds him swept into the world of pre-war socialism. Finding love as well as dogmatically-parroted views in fellow campaigner Griselda, they marry and embark on a lonely, isolated honeymoon in Belgium. When they emerge three weeks later to the local village war has begun, and they encounter soldiers and the brutal reality of war in ways that shatter their previous reality.

It took me a long time to get round to reading this book. I bought it from Persephone Books, and was excited about the concept; the design, the ethos. Rescuing the forgotten, important novels of history written by women. I chose to buy this one, the first selected by Persephone, the first published and neatly labelled No.1 on the back. But something held me back from reading it until now, and my instinct was right. I’m pretty sure it if would be better if this particular book had remained buried by history.

The White Queen totally overruled my anti-Philippa Gregory bias

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, London, Recommended, Uncategorized


Widowed Elizabeth Woodville stands ready to greet her King, her sons in tow and dressed at her most beguiling. The bond they forge leads to a passion that leads her family to the highest position in England – but not a stable one. Elizabeth must plot, scheme and do all in her power to subdue her enemies, please her husband and protect her family, but the odds against her are great…

Historical fiction based on real people is always troubling for me. On the one hand, I appreciate the opportunity to learn about a person and period in a fun and interesting way – but on the other, I resent that thoughts, actions and motives are placed upon them in a way that just cannot be accurate. Imagine someone in four hundred years trying to piece your life together into a story… I don’t think I’d like it much. BUT despite my reservations and long term avoidance of Gregory also due to an aversion to Tudors caused by their over-study in the British history curriculum, I was hooked.

A supernatural historal romp in Alison Goodman’s Dark Days Club

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, literary london, London, Uncategorized

Lady Helen is about to make her entrance into Regency society – but there’s something different about her. She can sense things about people, can tell what is about to happen, can react with lightening speed. She meets Lord Carlston, who tells her she is born to help stop demonic creatures who prey upon innocent lives, and who tries to convince her to join the cause. She is at once attracted to and mistrustful of him, whilst on the side of society and propriety is another suitor…

I don’t really remember the plot of this one fully, but I have many lasting impressions. In lots of ways, it’s a book that does exactly what you’d expect. Lots of interplay between the dark supernatural world and polite society, the occasional emergence of a famous figure, and plenty of heartache for our feisty main character. As such, it wasn’t hugely stupendous or memorable, but was pretty enjoyable.

Five reasons I’m nervous-excited about Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust

Book Thoughts, children's books, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Thoughts

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In case you don’t keep up to date with all the latest in book news, here it is: PHILIP PULLMAN IS BRINGING OUT THE BOOK OF DUST, an ‘equel’ to HIS DARK MATERIALS. Guys, we get to adventure again with Lyra!!!!

I love Northern Lights so much, and the rest of the series not much less. Lee Scoresby. Iorek Bryrinson. The fantastic evilness of Mrs Coulter. The wonderful world Lyra lives in, then colliding with our world and others. I read and re-read these books so so many times as a teenager.

So I should be just over the moon about this, right? But my excitement is definitely tinged with some concerns… here we go:

Films have changed the way we read and write – Hold Back the Stars by Katie Khan

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, theatre, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Thoughts


They’ve got half and hour left. Max and Carys fell in love – but love is not allowed. In their world relationships are only ever short term, and you only live in one place for one cycle. But they’re determined that their love can beat the system and change the rules, taking their case to the highest powers. They are sent on a mission into space together – a mission doomed to disaster. Is love worth it, in the end?

In a plot woven between the present moment and the story of their love, Max and Carys’ predicament fans out around the reader, with the elements of mystery becoming clearer and clearer. This book draws you in very cleverly, with you as the reader rooting for the couple more and more as you learning more about their past, making the outcome of the present moment more and more tense.

Tarnished time travel – All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing Thoughts

Tom lives in a golden world of amazing technology and father is a genius who just invented time travel. Tom is lazy and does not apply himself, but finds himself on the time travel team – then after the love of his life abandons him, he takes her place and goes back in time. He finds himself in an alternate future – in the world we know. Now it’s up to him to return humanity to the future that we always dreamed of…

Gosh! Time Travel books, eh? So confusing!! This book wasn’t too bad though, and any internal mysteries were cleared up at the end. It was clever – but lacking enough warmth or character connection for me to be emotionally invested in what was happening. It became more like a puzzle than a story; I wanted the intellectual satisfaction of knowing the solution, but was not emotionally involved. Which is perhaps why I’m not very good at puzzles.