November Book Reviews:

The Hoarder by Jess Kidd
Canongate Books £8.99

Up and coming young Irish novelist Jess Kidd’s first book Himself was a promising debut and this, her second novel, can be equally praised for its fresh voice, intriguing plot and memorable characterisation. Care-worker Maud Drennan has the unenviable task of looking after eccentric hoarder Cathal Flood in his decaying jumble filled London town house.

While attempting to persuade him to accept help, she explores the strange labyrinthine interior which lies beyond the gap in the 'Great Wall of National Geographics' and comes across some unsettling questions about the past amongst the mouldering curios. A haunting read, both darkly comic and exotically lyrical.

Evening in Paradise by Lucia Berlin
Macmillan £14.99

Lucia Berlin’s collection of short stories, A Manual for Cleaning Women was published posthumously to great acclaim, and Evening in Paradise is a follow-up selection from Berlin’s remaining stories.

The stories are loosely autobiographical, arranged chronologically to follow the arc of Berlin’s life, and take us from a pair of seven year olds running a scam in El Paso, through the beauty and disillusionment of a young girl’s first romantic liaison, to young wives coping with kids, their husband’s addiction, abandonment, to a furious old woman on the roof of her own house while her family try to celebrate Christmas.

Savage, funny, shocking and beautiful, they present some unforgettable images - the iridescent, sulphurous smoke of the smelter in a mining town, the yellow aromo blossom sticking to a couple’s skin - in concise writing that brings the reader up short with its power. The dark thread of alcoholism runs through many of the stories as well as the brighter threads of love, romantic and maternal, and of beauty found in the most unlikely places. Outstanding.

Poems to Live Your Life By
Edited and illustrated by Chris Riddell
Macmillan £10.99

Chris Riddell, political cartoonist for the Observer, and prolific illustrator and writer of marvellous children’s books, has made a selection of his favourite classic and modern poems about ‘life, death and everything in between’. Exquisitely illustrated, this an absolutely beautiful book and the forty-six poems in this anthology have clearly been selected with great love.

Yeats and Christina Rossetti accompany poems from Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Carol Ann Duffy, Neil Gaiman and Roger McGough to create a very special collection.

The End of the Sky by Sandi Toksvig
Random House Children’s Books £6.99

The second in Sandi Toksvig’s exciting series set in 19th Century USA, following 11 year old Slim Hannigan and her family after leaving their home in Ireland to travel to America in search of a better life. As those who have read the first book, A Slice of the Moon, may remember, our young protagonist dispensed with the name of Rosalind in favour of the Dutch ‘Slim’ meaning smart or clever and these qualities once again help the family on this dangerous journey.
A good page turner suitable for age 9-12.

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