Leonard and Hungry Paul Review

Summary

Leonard and Hungry Paul is the story of two quiet friends trying to find their place in the world. It is about those uncelebrated people who have the ability to change the world, not by effort or force, but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked in life.

Author: Rónán Hession
Format Reviewed: Paperback
Print Length: 245 pages
Publisher: Bluemoose Books (2019)

Ronan Hession’s debut novel is a delight.

A tale of two seemingly unremarkable people, the novel’s introverted protagonists spin entirely on their own axis to the rest of society.

And yet, despite this, both Leonard and Hungry Paul – the latter’s hungriness remains to be established – are really quite relatable.

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Inside Story Review

Summary

His most intimate and epic work to date, Inside Story is the portrait of Martin Amis’ extraordinary life, as a man and a writer. This novel had its birth in a death – that of the author’s closest friend, Christopher Hitchens.

We also encounter the vibrant characters who have helped define Martin Amis, from his father Kingsley, to his hero Saul Bellow, from Philip Larkin to Iris Murdoch and Elizabeth Jane Howard, and to the person who captivated his twenties, the alluringly amoral Phoebe Phelps.

Author: Martin Amis
Format Reviewed: Kindle Edition (ARC kindly provided by the publisher*)
Print Length: 576 pages
Publisher: Vintage (2020)

Inside Story, Martin Amis’s latest autobiographical novel**, is brilliant at times.

It’s well written and a sombre ennui pervades his entries on late father-figure Saul Bellow and now-departed best friend Christopher Hitchens.

Other times, the novel** falters with frustratingly smug and self-indulgent meanderings.

Such is the nature of autofiction, I suppose.

*Disclaimer: I received a free advance reading copy from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Summary

Reality is a story we tell ourselves. Change the story and you change reality.

In Absurdia charts the seeker’s journey. Intellectually and artistically provocative, it tries to capture ephemera, knowing life is a pastiche with fragile connections.

Author: Glenn Whalan
Format Reviewed: Kindle Edition (ARC kindly provided by the author*)
Print Length: 222 pages
Publisher: Karenza Press (2020)

In Absurdia is a curious novel. It’s also rather rather on-brand for this blog.

But how did I feel about it?

It’s a dizzying, disorientating piece of absurdist fiction that’s harder to pin down than an otter coated in vaseline. After finishing it, I needed a lie down. Conveniently, it was bed time.

At times it’s touching, sometimes hilarious, and other times, it’s really quite bizarre. I’m not entirely sure what just happened. And yet, I enjoyed the time I spent with Glenn Whalan’s debut novel.

*Disclaimer: I received a free advance reading copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Thursday Murder Club Review

Summary

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Author: Richard Osman
Format Reviewed: Kindle Edition (ARC provided by publisher)
Print Length: 382 pages
Publisher: Penguin Viking (2020)

I wanted to love The Thursday Murder Club. I really did.

Like most people, I was drawn to it because of the author. I love Richard Osman; he’s smart, witty, and possibly one of the most pleasant people on television.

So I’m sorry to say that I found The Thursday Murder Club to be a very poor novel.

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Review

Summary

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games.

The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

Author: Suzanne Collins
Format Reviewed: Hardback
Print Length: 528 pages
Publisher: Scholastic (2020)

When Suzanne Collins announced that she was writing a prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy, tongues started wagging.

Would it be about Haymitch’s time in the arena? Would it take place during the Dark Days?

Well, neither apparently. 

Collins instead chose to write a novel about President Coriolanus Snow’s teenage years. Sound unappealing? You’re not alone! It has proven divisive amongst fans.

However, I quite enjoyed The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. It’s a flawed but nonetheless interesting detour through post-war Panem.

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June 2020 Reading Roundup Central City

Summary

When a spate of seemingly identical murders occur across Central City, Detective Vinnie Bayonne and his young sidekick Adam McKenna are tasked with bringing in the murderer.  Meanwhile, ex-con Kane Kulpa struggles to deal with an increasingly violent gangland dispute.

 

Author: Indy Perro
Format Reviewed: eBook (provided by author*)
Print Length: 243 pages
Publisher: Dog’s Name Press (2020)

Central City is a crime fiction novel from writer and ‘recovering academic’, Indy Perro.

A decent debut novel, Central City marvels the reader with its well-developed characters and a remarkable setting that oozes with atmosphere. The narrative, however, doesn’t quite reach these heights.

Regardless, if you enjoy crime fiction, Central City is certainly worth reading.

*Disclaimer: I received a free advance reading copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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May 2020 Reading Roundup The Sound Mirror

Summary

The Sound Mirror spans three familial generations from British Occupied India to Southern England. Through intimately rendered characters, Heidi James has crafted a haunting and moving examination of class, war, violence, family, and shame from the rich details of ordinary lives.

Author: Heidi James
Format Reviewed: Advance reading copy (provided by author*)
Print Length: 230 pages
Publisher: Bluemoose Books (2020)

The Sound Mirror is, without a doubt, my favourite novel of the year so far.

Without spoilers, here’s why.

*Disclaimer: I received a free advance reading copy from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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