Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium opens with the first frost of every winter to provide the city’s children with the most magical of toys. From windup, patchwork animals that seem to truly live, to little wooden soldiers who can fight battles like real men, the Emporium offers an enchanting array of toys that fill children and adults alike with wonder. Cathy Wray arrives aged 16, pregnant and homeless, in search of work and board, and there she remains to become a permanent part of the Emporium family. But unending rivalry between Papa Jack’s sons, Kaspar and Emil, pose a threat to the future of the Emporium. Continue reading “The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale | Book Review”
Charles Dickens is on top of his game – or so he thinks. He’s recently polished a new manuscript and he’s looking forward to welcoming a new baby into the world just in time for Christmas. But then his publishers burst his bubble. His latest book is a flop and he urgently needs to bring in some cash. They insist he write a new, festive book if his career is set to continue. Continue reading “Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva | Book Review”
Lincoln in the Bardo was the 2017 Man Booker Prize winner, and it’s been on my to-read list since then. It tells the story of Abraham Lincoln during the loss of his son, which came at a time when the American Civil War was in full swing. Little Willie Lincoln is just 11 years old when he dies, and he finds himself trapped in a ghostly realm between life and rebirth, along with a bunch of bickering, whinging, whining ghosts. The novel is told through a series of excerpts from newspaper reports, books, journals and diaries, as well as the first-person narration of various ghosts who witness Lincoln entering his son’s crypt and cradling his body. Continue reading “Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders | Book Review”
Alice’s reclusive grandmother is the renowned writer of Tales from the Hinterland, a book of dark fairy tales, but Alice has never really known her. Instead, she has spent most of her life on the road with her mother, running from bad luck which always seems to find them whenever they try to settle down. When her mother is snatched by unsavoury characters from the Hinterland, Alice must delve into the fantastical world of her grandmother’s stories in an attempt to break the curse of bad luck for good. Continue reading “The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert | Book Review”
Sourdough tells the story of Lois Clary, an overworked robotics software engineer whose sanity is saved by sourdough and spicy soup provided by a local sandwich shop. When the owners of the sandwich shop decide to leave the country, they offer Lois the starter of their delicious bread so that she can make her own. She soon embarks on a bizarre new career path, blending robotics with baking in a strange new food market, while attempting to understand why the microorganisms in her sourdough starter seem to have a mind of their own. Continue reading “Sourdough by Robin Sloan | Book Review”
During the middle of an unprecedented snowstorm in 1964, Dr David Henry delivers his wife’s baby with the help of a nurse in his empty clinic. It turns out to be twins. The first baby is a perfect little boy. The second is a girl with Down’s Syndrome. Believing that he is doing the right thing for all involved, David hands the child off to the nurse and asks her to take it to an institution out of town. He tells his wife, Norah, that the baby girl died. The nurse, Caroline, can’t bear to leave the little girl in the cold, clinical institution for the rest of her life. Instead, she goes on the run, starts a new life and raises the child as her own. Continue reading “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards | Book Review”
Aila’s mother has died and her father has been drafted to fight in the war. She and her brother have been shipped off to Sterling, a small town where their mother grew up, to be cared for by a family friend. But Sterling has some secrets.
Every seven years, something goes missing. The town has lost its sense of smell, its ability to see the stars, its reflections and its ability to dream. Aila’s mother was always suspected as a potential cause of the Disappearances, which makes Aila guilty by association. Can she get to the bottom of the bizarre curse and clear her mother’s name? Continue reading “The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy | Book Review”
The Immortalists tells the stories of four siblings who, as children, visit a fortune teller who predicts the dates of their deaths. We follow them through their lives as they find themselves both consciously and subconsciously affected by the prophecies. Continue reading “The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin | Book Review”
I tried to explain John Dies at the End to my husband by describing it as “The Hitckhikers Guide to The Galaxy but with horror instead of sci-fi and way more fucked up,” and I’ll stand by that statement for this review.
Hotel World tells the stories of five women whose lives are intertwined by a single luxury hotel. The first, Sara, died in a tragic accident while working in the hotel, and her spirit floats around the living world, gradually forgetting words and memories of her life whilst her body decomposes in its grave. The second, Else, is homeless; she sits outside the front of the hotel trying to control her raucous coughing while collecting spare change from those who pass her by. Continue reading “Hotel World by Ali Smith | Book Review”