A review of Ishmael’s Oud by Mark Rafidi

Mark Rafidi has tiled every page with a distinct selection of orientation and filled it with spicy metaphors. Sometimes he choses to focus on the father and son, and then flashbacks’, yes-unexpected flashbacks into Ishmael’s past collectively snap each jigsaw piece back in place. With every phrase, sentence and paragraph carefully trimmed and mitered an intriguing story emerges that flows into a family saga of blood and bone.

A review of How to get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Frugality is Howard-Johnson’s stock-in-trade, and since none of her suggestions involve a large outlay, I’d say that picking up a copy of this book is about the most frugal and valuable thing a new author can do in order to generate inexpensive and highly credible publicity. The book is easy to read, and rich with Howard-Johnson’s own considerable experience. Above all, I think the point that she makes about treating the acquiring of reviews, not as an ancillary activity, but an integral part of the promotional campaign and one that cannot be skimped on, is key.

A review of Daintree by Annie Seaton

It’s obvious that Annie Seaton has put great efforts into researching this story and she is well at home with this genre. The characters throughout are all well honed, coming across as credible, and the immaculately portrayed places fully loaded with poisonous snakes, aggressive cassowaries, amusing characters, exotic parrots, random crocodiles, and a selection of assorted frogs. The writing reveals a majestic and ancient rainforest.

A review of Little Nothing by Marisa Silver

With these recurring themes and patterns of place, Silver establishes an internal logic to a book that otherwise often appears random and almost too wondrous. But because of her skill with both description and with the larger structure of the work itself, Silver is able to craft a coherent narrative that works both as a fairytale and a question. Little Nothing leaves a reader both entertained and puzzled; like a work of art should,

A review of The Trespasser by Tana French

Despite the rapid pace at which I tore through this novel—it was just too good to put down—the actual solving of the crime is a slow, suspenseful rise and fall. Reading The Trespasser feels like playing Chutes and Ladders. I work my way towards the goal, find something exciting that lets me climb up the ladder toward the answers, then hit a snag and slide right back to the beginning,

A review of Growing Dark: Selected Stories by Dennis Must

Dennis Must’s Going Dark is a succession of 17 short stories. Must’s writing is expressive, as he approaches the numerous stages of life we all share in the transition from youth to maturity to the inevitable death that awaits us all. The lives in these stories are unrelated, and yet very much the same. The work is at once a multilayered thought provoking psychological frolic in addition to being a deeply seated thoughtful work. Whatever the overview or leitmotif, each portrayal in this work ultimately goes dark as Must probes deep within the core of his intricate, complex characters.

A review of The Kiss and Other Stories by Anton Chekhov

These classic stories have been cast in wonderfully fresh translations by Hugh Aplin. To start with, let me say that it is an attractive package overall: seven stories, an account of Chekhov’s life and his works (the plays as well as the books), a fair few photographs of Chekhov and family, and a select secondary bibliography (to which should be added Rosamund Bartlett’s outstanding biographical work Chekhov: Scenes from a Life).

A review of The Abecedarium of the Artist’s Death by Moussa Kone

Kone’s drawings are beautifully composed and are not without a healthy dollop of black humour (e.g. ‘I is for Ingrid who trusted her friends…’) but for the most part they are quirky and amusing rather than disquieting, as is almost always the case with Gorey. They will raise a wry smile, certainly, but they won’t put you on edge as Gorey’s drawings are wont to do.

A review of The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

From the beginning to the end The Joyce Girl is an enchanting tale, beautifully written. It drew me in and wouldn’t let go; I was caught and trapped right up to the epilogue. And what a cast of characters … their names kept dropping from this book like exotic fruits, starting with James Augustine Aloysius Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Madam Egorova, Alexander Calder, Nijinsky, Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, Stella Steyn, Thomas McGreevy, Pablo Picasso, Dr Carl Gustav Jung, Gertrude Stein, Margaret Morris, John O’Sullivan, Isadora Duncan, and Stirling Calder all get a mention.