15 Jan 2018

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Katey Kontent, daughter of an immigrant Russian family, reminisces about her life in New York after seeing photographs of some of her early friends in an exhibition. The story is one of post-depression, pre-2WW New York, of the WASP culture, the at once egalitarian/hierarchical society, and the many choices one makes that define a path through life.

8 Jan 2018

Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry

My last read of 2017 and also one of the best! This novel follows an interesting cast of characters through the streets of New York in 1895 - there is Odile from a Coney Island sideshow searching for her sister Belle, Alphie who has wound up in a grizzly lunatic asylum and Sylvan, a down and out, who finds himself with an orphaned baby.

8 Jan 2018

Edge of Truth by Brynn Kelly

Edge of truth is another adrenaline roller coaster ride from Brynn Kelly, the author who brought us the fantastic mash-up of thriller/romance that was Deception Island. Edge of truth is a story of international conspiracy and war-mongering, played out in the Horn of Africa. Tess Newell is a well -known tele-journalist, unfortunately more known for a high-profile romance break-up than for her journalism. But Tess has uncovered a huge story of corruption and conspiracy, and is desperate to get the story out before the world is plunged into a major conflict - but she has been captured by the conspirators.

27 Dec 2017

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron

Building on research that rehabilitated Neanderthal culture in the popular view, Cameron has created a story around the possible first encounter between a young Neanderthal woman and local homo sapiens. In a parallel story she follows the paleoanthropologist who discovers the female Neanderthal’s remains.

27 Dec 2017

Artemis by Andy Weir

I loved Weir’s geeky but gripping The Martian, and Artemis is a great second novel, this time with the brilliant but flawed Jazz Bahara as the character in all kinds of trouble, who has to use hard science to survive numerous dangers.

18 Dec 2017

The Beat of the Pendulum by Catherine Chidgey

Catherine Chidgey recorded and transcribed a year of her life, and using just those foundwords – from conversations, from the Internet, from TV and movies – wrote The beat of the pendulum. The title comes from a Proust quote, where he described novelists as ‘wildly accelerating the beat of the pendulum’. There is an actual pendulum in Chidgey’s novel, it is of the old style that needs adjusting occasionally for it to keep time accurately, and the year of the novel – 2016 – had to have a second added to make it a full year. Time may be adjusted for accuracy, but it is inexorable.

18 Dec 2017

Heloise by Mandy Hager

“Of all my frustrations with the Christian Church, besides its demonising of women, there are two that most confound me: the preoccupation with unquestioning obedience and the notion of original sin.” So says one of Heloise’s early teachers – a Jew who was forced to convert and who along with her daughter had faced the worst that the patriarchal society of 12th Century France could inflict. And Heloise’s exploration of the life and character of Heloise is unflinching in its descriptions of the endless abuse and disempowerment of women.