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Monday 29 March 2010

Out Of The Sun

by Robert Goddard

'Out Of The Sun' features the character Harry Barnett who also appeared in Goddard's earlier novel 'Into The Blue'. Harry is older, but by no means wiser in this novel.

The read has all of the usual Robert Goddard trademarks. A pounding plot, a huge cast of increasingly eccentric characters and an international stage. It also has mind boggling detail on the subjects of mathematics, financial forecasting and higher dimensions. It will make your brain hurt.

If you like high-powered stories with plenty of plot and an unusual setting and premise, then this is for you. Ideally you should read 'Into The Blue'first to appreciate the character development of Harry Barnett, but this book does also stand alone. Fans can also now read Harry's third outing - 'Never Go Back'.

The back cover lists a review from The Times saying that this is, ‘Undoubtedly Goddard’s most entertaining book to date’. I’m not sure about this. Yes, it’s gripping, yes it’s a great absorbing read, but at its heart is the story of a father and his tragic relationship with his son. To call it entertainment feels a bit too slight.

If you stick with it through the twists and turns, the emotions and explanations – the end will move you to tears.

Reviewed by Helen M Hunt

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Book news - Orange Prize longlist

The longlist for The Orange Prize for Fiction has been announced today and can be found here.

Have you read any of these books?

Sunday 14 March 2010

My So-Called Afterlife

by Tamsyn Murray

Lucy Shaw has been haunting the gents’ loos in Carnaby Street since being stabbed to death the previous New Year’s Eve. It isn’t fun being stuck in a small underground building that stinks of wee, especially as your only visitors tend to be those of a slightly suspicious or less than hygienic variety and you’re invisible to them all. That is until Jeremy goes to the gents’ and is scared witless when he discovers that not only is there a teenage girl inside, but that she is a ghost.

Despite his dreadful taste in clothes and hopeless sense of humour, Jeremy is Lucy’s only connection with the outside world and she goes along with him when he finds a way to help her escape the confines of the loos for short, then longer periods of time. Jeremy persuades Lucy to go with him to the Church of the Dearly Departed. Here she meets other ghosts. Hep, a poltergeist with an increasing rage against her parents and everyone else, becomes a good friend. A beauty queen takes an instant dislike to Lucy; and Ryan is so handsome and kind, that she is positive he must be her soul mate.

Jeremy is determined to trace Lucy’s murderer and despite not feeling ready to confront her memories of what happened the dreadful night of her murder, she realizes that this madman is more than likely going to do the same thing to another unsuspecting victim. Unable to refuse, Lucy goes along with Jeremy to help him in anyway she can.

This is a Young Adult novel, but having read it in one sitting, I’m sure that whether younger or older, any adult couldn’t help but enjoy this book. The interaction between Lucy and Jeremy is excellent and amusing, and as well as the funny parts of the book and her growing romance with Ryan, there’s the underlying sadness that these characters are ghosts with pain and anguish in their pasts and a need to resolve their own issues before being able to move on.

I thought this book was cleverly written, and as well as entertaining me, it also made me cry, twice. Now I can understand why, when my daughter opened My So-Called Afterlife to have a quick peek inside, she then took it to her room, refusing to give it back until she’d finished it.

I loved it and can’t recommend it enough.

Reviewed by Debs Carr

Sunday 7 March 2010

No Reservations

By Fiona O’Brien

This novel is the sort you can curl up with for a few hours and just forget the world.

Fiona O’Brien takes us straight into the world of waitress Carla Berlusconi and her boss, the lovely Dominic Coleman-Cappabianca. The developing relationship between these two underpins the plot, but along the way we are introduced to a whole raft of other characters.

My favourites included PJ the grieving widower who has been floating untethered since the death of his beloved wife, and his eccentric housekeeper Sheila. Charlotte, wronged wife of property developer Ossie, and her feisty mother Jennifer are also great sympathetic characters.

While loving them, you’ll also love to hate the spoilt Candy, the slightly ridiculous Shalom and her mother, and Tanya, Dominic’s scheming girlfriend.

Warmth bounces from every page of this book. I found it absorbing and intriguing and extremely well-plotted. In particular I was impressed with how all the various plot strands came together in the end.

As I moved towards the last chapter, I didn’t want the book to end. When it did I felt like I was leaving behind a group of close friends.

I’ll certainly be hoping to read more from Fiona O’Brien in the future.

Reviewed by Helen M Hunt