February Picks

AkinDonoghue, Emma (2019) Akin. Picador.  Noah is only days away from a long planned 80th birthday trip to his birth city of Nice, when a social worker calls. Noah is obliged to take temporary care of Michael, his eleven year old great-nephew, whom he has never met. The mismatched pair travel to Nice. As Noah tells Michael about their shared family history jet-lag, cultural and generational differences collide, leading to impatience, misunderstandings and arguments. As they work together to solve a wartime family mystery trust evolves. A gentle and lighthearted story with Nice as the backdrop.  Rating: 8.5/10.

Mr NobodySteadman, Catherine (2020) Mr Nobody. Simon & Schuster. When a man without identification or memory, is found unconscious on a Norfolk beach, neuropsychiatrist Dr Emma Lewis, a specialist in memory loss, is called in to assess the patient. A patient, named Mr Nobody, who somehow recognises Emma. This high-profile case will give Emma’s career an international boost, but at the same time expose her past and put her life in danger.  A slow-burn. Rating: 7.5/10.


Ministry of TruthLynskey, Dorian (2019) The Ministry of Truth: A biography of George Orwell’s 1984. Picador. Nineteen Eighty-Four, published in 1949, was George Orwell’s last novel. A chilling warning against totalitarianism, invasive technology, and truth decay. The novel has become a cultural phenomenon with its concepts of “Big Brother”, “Thought Police” and “Newspeak”. In the era of “fake news, “alternative facts”, rewriting history, and facial recognition is Orwell’s speculative nightmare becoming reality?  Lynskey analyses the influence of Nineteen Eighty-Four on ideology and modern culture. Summative, revelatory and cautionary. Rating: 8.5/10.

One DaySilver, Josie (2018) One Day in December. Penguin. One snowy December day Laurie spies “the one” from a bus. This moment of pure magic sets Laurie and Jack on a decade-long bumpy ride to love. You have to embrace your inner romantic to believe that love at first sight is a love that can last a lifetime. Lovely contemporary romance. Rating: 8/10.


The last house guestMiranda, Megan (2019) The Last House Guest. Corvus.  Littleport, Maine, is a summer playground for the rich. Avery is best friends with Sadie, daughter of the wealthy Loman family, and her family’s coastal property manager. When Sadie is found dead the police rule her death a suicide, but Avery doesn’t believe it and sets out to unpick the truth from the lies, with a bit of snooping. As Sadie’s death looks less like a suicide Avery herself becomes a suspect. Menace lurks but leaves you a bit flat. Rating: 8/10.

PerfectCastle, A.M. (2019)  The Perfect Widow. HQ. Louise Bridges has a perfect life, perfect home, perfect children, and a perfect husband. When her husband Patrick dies in a workplace fire, PC Becca Holt becomes suspicious. Louise’s story is not so perfect. Is she the loving wife and mother she portrays, or is she a murderer?  A creepy rambling little tale of obsession.  Rating: 7.5/10.


MIssing girls

Miranda, Megan (2016) All the Missing Girls. Simon & Schuster. Nic must return home to Cooley Ridge, after years way, to care for her father. Days after her return Annaleise goes missing, reawakening old wounds and fears from a decade ago when her best friend Corrine disappeared in similar circumstances. In a story told backwards we slowly unravel shocking secrets of youthful adventures and misdemeanours, and what happened to Corrine and Annaleise. A twisty debut thriller.  Rating: 8/10.

Her Perfect LIesNewton, Lana (2020) Her Perfect Lies. HQ. Beautiful, rich and talented Claire wakes up in hospital after a car accident with no memory of who she is, or what happened to her. She doesn’t recognise the person staring back at her in the mirror, or her husband or her best friend.  She is surrounded by nightmares and lies. As she searches for her past she is forced to face up to dark family secrets. A promising premise that starts off well but loses its way. Unreliable and unlikeable characters. A let down. Rating: 7/10.

All the RageHunter, Cara (2020) All the Rage. Penguin. This fourth DI Adam Fawley procedural begins with a girl abducted off the streets of Oxford. Faith Appleford is attacked, a plastic bag tied over her head, and taken to an isolated location, only to escape, but then the attacker strikes again. There are similarities from an old case, with the same MO, but Adam believes this is the work of a new psychopath. The investigation takes the Thames Valley team down many misdirected paths, then there is a dark twist. The characters, team dynamics, backstory, and impressive research are all part of the compelling nature of this crime series. Complex and unpredictable. Rating: 8.5/10.

The witches are comingWest, Lindy (2019) The Witches are Coming. Allen & Unwin. A strident manifesto for the #MeToo and Trump era that addresses the critical issues of our time. This collection of essays is written largely for an American audience, with many of the cultural nuances and pop culture references unfamiliar to an antipodean crowd. However, there are some fascinating and searingly honest insights into white male privilege, abortion, body shaming, the environment, and wellness ‘flakiness’. “So fine, if you insist. This is a witch hunt. We’re witches and we are hunting for you”.  Strong stuff – fiery and satirical. Rating: 9/10.


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