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Whichbook of the week

A personal introduction from a Whichbook reader to a book you may not have met before

Children of Earth and Sky

Children of Earth and Sky

Prepare for a long straight sitting! In imaginary places not far removed from Renaissance Europe and Turkey, ordinary people are pushed towards extraordinary destinies. How they cope, evolve and pay the price is what we are made to care about. And I cared so much I didn't want the story to end ...

Posted by Nicole Cornell - more details

Find Me

Find Me

Themes include: genuine horrors of a dystopian society swept by plague affecting only USA, and of a human mind trying to protect itself, real hope as a teenager battles to keep her trust in the power of family love alive despite her own dreadful past. Plus more! An amazing read for those not afraid of a challenge.

Posted by Rosemary Bullimore - more details

Rotten Row

Rotten Row

A collection of interconnected short stories which illuminate life in contemporary Zimbabwe. Stories of violent crime, corruption & so called justice, based loosely around the road of the same name in Harare. From the first story of a hangman to the gossiping women in a hairdressers sharing the news of the stabbing of a friend, we meet vivid characters painted with pathos & surprising humour. Gave me a real insight into another world.

Posted by Dot Cameron - more details

A Ghost's Story

A Ghost's Story

This story takes us into the shadowy world of seances which were hugely popular in nineteenth century Britain and the New World. The contraptions and tricks that were used are all uncovered but the difference with this telling is that it’s seen from the viewpoint of a ghost called Katie. She’s personable, would desperately like people to believe in her and she's in love. I believed in her and I think you will too.

Posted by Janet Scott - more details

Akram's War

Akram's War

Born in England of Pakistani parents Akram does not seem to fit in anywhere. He is the odd one out in the British army, his arranged marriage is not a happy one and now he has agreed to detonate the bomb in his rucksack. If you have ever wondered about radicalisation this is the book for you. Highly topical and thought-provoking but also a real page-turner.

Posted by Paul Cowan - more details

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal

It's not big on plot, but this quirky little story had me laughing and reading aloud snippets to the person I was next to. What starts out as a humorous tale subtly becomes something more philosophical. I felt such empathy with Sonja, a woman whose life has hit a rut; I was very sorry to lose her company at the end of the book.

Posted by Wendy Smith - more details

Cain

Cain

Luke Kennard is someone that you should not ignore. These poems are beautiful and poignant and thoughtful, and are dripping with wisdom and compassion. This is the story of someone facing mental collapse, and somehow coming terms with what has gone wrong in his life. It is worth reading because 'no man is an island' and this shows a way forward. Gloria Gaynor would be proud.

Posted by David Kenvyn - more details

Pigeon

Pigeon

The impoverished landscape of a rural Welsh quarry town forms the backdrop to this gritty and uncompromising coming-of-age story, littered with broken homes, domestic violence, child neglect and delinquency, where finding redemption through the power of words is the only way to escape your present and your past. The novel is elevated from bleakness by a rich atmosphere of Welsh language and culture, which sings off the page.

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

The Return

The Return

This young adult's view of a Civil War and its consequences to everything he has ever known is an interesting read. Whatever your personal political feelings about this subject matter, no one can escape the hardship endured by those fleeing their homes with nothing but the bags they're holding and the clothes on their backs. Touching, innocent, incredibly down-to-earth and extremely relevant to the current plight of the Syrian refugees crisis.

Posted by Karen Pugh - more details

The Natural Way of Things

The Natural Way of Things

Disturbing and extraordinary, this story provokes more questions than it answers. Dealing with misogyny, sex scandals and punishment, nobody is particularly likeable and yet the book is incredibly readable. The writing is poetic, even in the most unsettling situations, & it makes you think about feminism and the position of women in society. The lack of a satisfying resolution left me angry, which I felt was exactly the author’s intention.

Posted by Ruth Ng - more details

The Empress and the Cake

The Empress and the Cake

What a bizarre & disturbing read - but increasing addictive and impossible to look away. A seemingly innocent act of hospitality by an elderly lady towards a young woman she meets in a bakery slowly reveals itself to be something much more sinister. This tiny novel packs a powerful punch of sickening excess, freakish horror & uncomfortable laughter. The dual narrative bounces the reader between centuries - cranking up the surreal to full pitch.

Posted by Fiona Edwards - more details

The Sympathizer

The Sympathizer

If you are of mixed race, you may feel you sit between two worlds. And if your country is torn apart by war, which side do you choose? This dilemma is at the heart of a story of impossibly tested friendships. Told with wry humour, it is nevertheless gut-wrenching and disturbing.

Posted by Nicole Cornell - more details

A Country Road, A Tree

A Country Road, A Tree

A fictionalised version of Irish author Samuel Becket's time spent in France during WW2 and his activities with the Resistance. The writing is very quiet and powerful with minimal emphasis on the action which seems to mirror Becket's character perfectly. Some horrific scenes of the devastation and retribution of war – but at the same time, beautifully atmospheric. I loved it.

Posted by Frances Bell - more details

The Winterlings

The Winterlings

Graphic, gothic and often gruesome – this has the timeless feel of a folk tale. A rural village in Galicia is the setting for the return from exile of two sisters after the Spanish civil war. Superstition and intrigue hint at a violent and sinister past among the local cast of eccentrics and grotesques, adding to the air of unease and foreboding. Though reminiscent of a Brothers Grimm story, this surreal tragicomedy is one for adults only.

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

The Last of Us

The Last of Us

At first glance this apocalyptic story seems like many others of its genre, but is told from the perspective of a young girl. One of only five children left alive, Rona struggles to make sense of what has happened. The remote island setting intensifies the feeling of isolation and the shifting dynamics of the small group of survivors is very realistically portrayed. Visually chilling, this book would also appeal to young adult readers.

Posted by Wendy Smith - more details

Sudden Death

Sudden Death

Blackly, brutally funny take on sixteenth century Europe. Art and power epitomised in Cortez's conquests and the Counter-Reformation, as imagined through a game of tennis. It sounds mad but is really gripping stuff - unless you hate magical realism.

Posted by Rosemary Bullimore - more details

The Seed Collectors

The Seed Collectors

This is a marmite-kind of a book. If you love eccentric characters, a basketful of ideas, plenty of tangents in the narrative and whacky humour, you will love it. If not, you might struggle to know who is who and what it is all about!

Posted by Nicole Cornell - more details

Addlands

Addlands

From 1941 to 2011, three generations of the Hamer family eke out an existence in the Radnorshire hills. But this is not a tale of epic hardships and their brutalising effect on relationships, rather the beauty of land and humanity in symbiosis, observed with a crystal objectivity and delight in the detail of nature and personalities.

Posted by Andrew Fitch - more details

Black Wave

Black Wave

This heady mix of memoir and metafiction takes us from the slacker counterculture of nineties San Francisco to a near-future dystopian Los Angeles, with the world on the brink of environmental apocalypse. Alienation, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity and self-loathing feature heavily, so don’t expect a cosy feel-good trip. This is hardcore entertainment - funny, fearless, insightful and mind-blowing.

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

Feeding Time

Feeding Time

The residents of Green Oaks Residential Home for the elderly decide to take their destiny (what little is left) into their own hands. A good mixture of characters with only their advanced years in common. The Care Home staff, especially the manager, are the deranged ones. The extraordinary, but also imaginary, wartime diaries of resident Captain Ruggles regularly interrupts the story line. An interesting and uplifting debut novel.

Posted by Frances Bell - more details