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Whichbook of the week

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

The Aeronaut's Guide to Rapture

The Aeronaut's Guide to Rapture

Can be read, with satisfaction as three separate, equally fascinating stories featuring three people trying to survive in an impossible situation. But what makes this book really special is the appearance of the author as, like Prospero in The Tempest, he intervenes with possible redemptions. A book to love or to hate I think.

Posted by Rosemary Bullimore - more details

The Gurugu Pledge

The Gurugu Pledge

Mount Gurugu is an unforgiving backdrop and home to hundreds of Africans seeking asylum in Europe. The currency of the novel adds to its potency. Its serious content is tempered by the spark of hope of a better life for all the mountain’s inhabitants. It’s impossible not to be saddened by the plight of those stuck in the mountainous no-man’s land, yet the sense of solidarity is uplifting too.

Posted by Michelle Jenkins - more details

Sour Heart

Sour Heart

Reading like auto-fiction, these coming of age stories are narrated by second-generation daughters of Chinese immigrants to the USA in the 1990s. The sweet and sour tales could easily have lapsed into misery memoir, but the harrowing intimate details of family life on the seamy side of New York are offset by the humorous candour of the child narrators. Just to flag - there is strong language and very explicit scenes of a sexual nature.

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

The World Without Us

The World Without Us

If you want to read about a community that is completely messed up, this is the book for you. One act, the birth of a child, has a profound effect upon the whole neighbourhood. It is like a pebble being thrown into a lake, sending ripples to all sides. This is because there is a secret about the birth of this child, which is not really a secret, especially not to those who made it a secret. This story is about consequences.

Posted by David Kenvyn - more details

The Transition

The Transition

The subject matter of this novel is entirely different to The Handmaid's Tale. However reading both novels certainly gave me a bilious feeling in the pit of my stomach. What is 'out there' watching us? How will our lives turn out? Are we controlled? Let me be like Karl - a chancer in life whose world is turned upside down by The Transition but who is determined to bring it down and expose it for what it really is! An unusual and quirky read.

Posted by Karen Pugh - more details

Room Empty

Room Empty

Love, friendship and the lack of it, is the sometimes tragic background to teenage anorexic, Dani's, frank account of her possibility of recovery. I guarantee that Dani will infuriate you, but you will also be cheering for her and her beloved Fletcher all the way.

Posted by Rosemary Bullimore - more details

The Gallows Pole

The Gallows Pole

Smell the soot, taste the wild garlic, listen to the Yorkshire tongue. You are now in 1767 when the Cragg Vale Coiners defy the establishment. The harsh reality of life on the unforgiving land is about to descend into violence. And to ascend into myth ...

Posted by Nicole Cornell - more details

The End of Eddy

The End of Eddy

Set in a post-industrial wasteland of Northern France, this unsentimental portrait of life in a white underclass community surviving on welfare is also an unrelentingly grim coming of age memoir. The narrator’s outsider status is established from birth as an effeminate boy trying to blend into a brutal macho culture in order to avoid constant bullying. The uncomfortable reading experience is balanced by the inspirational message of the account.

Posted by Anne Horton-Smith - more details

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