Category Archive: Uncategorized

Mar 10

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Iowa in the late 1990s and a video store clerk – Jeremy – is made aware by the local schoolteacher – Stephanie – that her copy of Targets – a Corman / Bogdonavich film starring Boris Karloff which I’ve never seen but heard a shitload about via Gilbert Gottfried’s podcast – has been tampered with. …

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Mar 09

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

Oh Idaho, you are one shattering novel. It’s a gentle shattering like a child tapping on the shell of a boiled egg. There’s no single punch to the gut but rather a gradual build-up that leaves you devastated. At the heart of the novel – and revealed early in the book – is the death …

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Mar 08

Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson

So what to make of Steve Erickson’s Shadowbahn. It’s already been described as the first post-Trump novel, which is a tad ironic given the President – not named – in Erickson’s near future (the book is set in 2021) is female and it’s under this female President (look, we know it’s Hillary) that America fractures …

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Jan 06

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

Adam Haslett’s Imagine Me Gone spans a fourty year period.  It begins in the 1960s when Margaret, an American living in London, marries John, who while charming and charismatic has also been battling with depression since he was a teen. Moving back to America they have three children, Michael, Celia and Alec. For most of …

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Jan 04

Serious Sweet by A.L. Kennedy

Jon is a public servant in Westminster who hates his job. He’s just left his wife – who was having an affair – and struggles to be a decent father to his daughter. In his spare time he writes love letters (for a small fee) to single women looking for companionship, even if it’s in …

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Jan 03

My Top 10 Books (well 11, actually) for 2016

My blog might be 20 or so reviews behind my Facebook page but I thought I at least report on what were my favourite ten books for 2016 (with an eleventh just for luck and because it’s brilliant). But before I list my favourites for the year here are some stats.  Overall I read 117 …

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Dec 21

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Do Not Say We Have Nothing is an overlong multi-generational saga mostly set in China that deals with more than 60 years of the country’s history, starting with 1949’s Communist Revolution moving onto the Cultural Revolution (1966) and climaxing with the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. In between these major events in Chinese history we …

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Dec 20

The Schooldays of Jesus by J. M. Coetzee

It’s been pointed out to me that this isn’t the best place to start with Coetzee. Not just because this is the second book in a planned trilogy (the first novel being The Childhood of Jesus) but because Coetzee, with his long, distinguished, Nobel Prize winning career has written many a fine novel and this …

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Dec 16

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project is a historical crime novel, set in the 1860s, that takes place, for the most part, in Culduie, a small hamlet in the Scottish Highlands. Through the medium of found documents, newspaper articles and police reports of the time, the book details the brutal murder of 40-year-old Lachlan MacKenzie, 15-year-old …

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Dec 15

Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves

It’s bad form when a reviewer critiques a novel for not being the book her or she wanted.  Unprofessional even.  And yet here I am writing a critique that does precisely that.  It’s not my fault though.  I blame Virginia Reeves for constantly reminding me, teasing me even, with that better novel hiding in the …

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