February Picks

Hawkins, Paula (2021) A Slow Fire Burning. Riverhead Books.

When a young man is found murdered on a London houseboat Laura is immediately suspected. Laura is the damaged one-night stand last seen at the victim’s boat. Laura, Miriam the nosy neighbour who reported the murder, and Carla the victim’s grief-stricken aunt all have connections to the victim, and are resentful of wrongs they have suffered – all have smouldering secrets and are out for revenge. With its cast of unlikeable and unreliable narrators this is a disappointing thriller, with a mystery found wanting. A very slow burn!

Rating: 7.5/10


Marshall, Tim (2021) The Power of Geography: Ten Maps that Reveal the Future of Our World. Elliott and Thompson.

This revelatory book whilst missing the rise of Russian aggression and the Ukrainian crisis, however does identify ten regions, from Ethiopa and Iran to Australia, set to be flash points and shape global politics in the future. Marshall explores the impacts and constraints of human history and geographic features, including climate change, and reminds us to always keep physical landscape in mind in an unpredictable and chaotic ‘flat world’. A primer to learn more.

Rating: 8/10


Mills, Hayley (2021) Forever Young: A Memoir. Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Child movie-star Hayley Mills shares her coming-of-age story, from growing up in a famous theatrical family in post-war Britain to being propelled into stardom by Walt Disney. The star of such iconic movies as Pollyanna and The Parent Trap she became a household name, at the same time was beset with dislocation and unfortunate mismanagement of her earnings. A warm nostalgic chronicle, complete with stories of Tinseltown, that is especially poignant for the baby-boomers who grew up with her as a box-office favourite. Delightful.

Rating: 8.5/10


Tucci, Stanley (2021) Taste: My Life Through Food. Fig Tree.

Stanley Tucci grew up in an Italian American family that spent every night around the table. Tucci already the author of two cookbooks presents a food-focused memoir which reflects his eating life, with anecdotes and recipes. His journey reads like one huge gastronomic adventure, interspersed with tales of his movies, his family life, his famous friends, his travels, and latterly his brush with the big C which could have brought a finality to his passion for the delicious. For obsessive foodies.

Rating: 8/10


White, Christian (2021) Wild Place. Affirm Press.

When Tracie Reed mysteriously goes missing in the summer of 1989 there are rumours of satanic rituals taking place in bushland behind the houses of the small-town of Camp Hill. Local high school teacher Tom Witter becomes convinced that darkness is behind the disappearance and seeks to expose the small town’s malevolent secrets. When Tom and the neighbourhood watch turn their attention to a local pentagram tattooed youth then good people start to do bad things with an unexpected denouement. A misdirected thriller with a sense of fear and foreboding throughout.

Rating: 7.5/10


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