Reviews of the latest books.

Book review: A-Z of Southampton: People-Places-History, Martin Brisland

Book review: A-Z of Southampton: People-Places-History, Martin Brisland

by Sarah Groszewski. Martin Brisland is a highly experienced, qualified local tour guide and founder of See Southampton, so it stands to reason that his latest book, A-Z of Southampton Places-People-History is full of interesting and little-known facts. There seems to be a booming market for local history and local interest writing.  I admit to
Book review: The Man In The Red Coat by Julian Barnes

Book review: The Man In The Red Coat by Julian Barnes

reviewed by Frances Churchward. The title of this book is the title of a painting by John Singer Sargent, painted in 1881, of Samuel Pozzi.  This is a non-fiction history book set during the time of “La Belle Epoque” and draws a very colourful, and not necessarily flattering, picture of many of the characters who
Book review:  Love by Hanne Orstavik

Book review:  Love by Hanne Orstavik

reviewed by Frances Churchward. This is a very short novel totalling 132 pages and the action takes place during the course of one evening during the winter months in Norway. Jon, who will be nine years old the next day, has been accidently locked out of his house by his mother, Vibeke,  who believes that
Book review: A short history of falling: everything I observed about love whilst dying by Joe Hammond

Book review: A short history of falling: everything I observed about love whilst dying by Joe Hammond

reviewed by Frances Churchward. When I first read the blurb inside the cover of this book, I must admit felt somewhat reluctant to read it. The book, amongst other things, charts the author’s progress of motor neurone disease and his experience of living with the disease and moving towards his own death. I am by
Book review: The Wonder Girls by J M Carr

Book review: The Wonder Girls by J M Carr

reviewed by Georgina Lippiett. The Wonder Girls is a fast-paced, full-hearted, total romp of an adventure. The story takes place in England in 1936 and is set against a backdrop of the rise of fascist ideals. The Blackshirts are marching the streets, unrest is in the air and if you’re a young girl without parents,
Congratulations Shirley Library!

Congratulations Shirley Library!

by Chris Richards. Shirley Library, Southampton are Winners of the Best Library Display of the Booker Prize Short List 2019. “The hardest thing to source were the rubber ducks!” says Fran Simonis, who along with colleague Cath Brear of Shirley Library, Southampton, set up the winning display. The competition is managed by The Reading Agency,
Book review: We Are The Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, Jonathan Safran Foer

Book review: We Are The Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, Jonathan Safran Foer

reviewed by Dan O’Farrell. All sensible people care about climate change. We are all worried about it. But are we really worried? Do we actually believe it? This is the central question around which Jonathan Safran Foer’s new non-fiction book revolves. Using examples and anecdotes from both world history and his own family history, Foer
Book review: In The House In The Dark Of The Woods by Laird Hunt

Book review: In The House In The Dark Of The Woods by Laird Hunt

reviewed by Sarah Groszewski. A story worthy of Halloween, the book is an unusual and atmospheric, twisted fairy-tale for adults with a liking for eerie horror and fantasy. Laird Hunt’s seventh novel is a contemporary fairy-tale that follows a young Puritan woman’s journey as she sets off into a forest to pick berries. Under the
Book review: Heaven My Home by Attica Locke

Book review: Heaven My Home by Attica Locke

reviewed by Frances Churchward. The latest book from award-winning Attica Locke is set mostly in Texas shortly after Trump’s election to the presidency. Immediately following the election there appears to be a rise in the activities of the far right. In East Texas, a nine year old boy has gone missing. The boy is the
Book review: The Burning Land by George Alagiah

Book review: The Burning Land by George Alagiah

reviewed by Frances Churchward. The Burning Land is George Alagiah’s first novel. Alagiah is, of course, well known as a presenter of BBC news. Before becoming a news presenter, he worked as a foreign correspondent for the BBC during which time he covered several major conflicts and he has previously published two works of non-fiction.
Book review: Austen Secret by Richard M Jones

Book review: Austen Secret by Richard M Jones

reviewed by Chris Richards. Exciting and satisfying, Richard M Jones presents an adjacent history beginning back over 200 years ago, showing the ripples of choices and snap judgements made down the years in his new fiction novel Austen Secret.  This is the second adventure with Sidney, Ali and Gemma as its lead treasure hunters, following
Book review: The Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Book review: The Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

reviewed by Frances Churchward. Laura Lippman’s latest novel is set in 1960s USA, in times when many women were expected to stay at home and look after house, husband and children.  It was also a time of huge racial discrimination, when attacks on Negro women attracted little attention from the police, newspapers or the public. 
Review: Our Women on the Ground: essays by Arab women reporting from the Arab world, edited by Zahra Hankir

Review: Our Women on the Ground: essays by Arab women reporting from the Arab world, edited by Zahra Hankir

by Alex Thurley-Ratcliff. A first of its kind, this collection of writing by Arab women journalists is both challenging and thought-provoking. It’s not comfortable reading but it’s well worth picking up, because it totally delivers. The nineteen essays cover an enormous range – from Lina Attalah’s “On a belated encounter with gender” which tenderly examines
Review: Outgrowing God: a beginner’s guide by Richard Dawkins

Review: Outgrowing God: a beginner’s guide by Richard Dawkins

by Alex Thurley-Ratcliff. “Should we believe in God? Do we need God in order to explain the existence of the universe? Do we need God in order to be good?” asks the back cover blurb on Richard Dawkins latest book. Dawkins does not just return a list of answers to these standard questions in Outgrowing
Book review: The Rapture by Claire McGlasson

Book review: The Rapture by Claire McGlasson

Reviewed by Sally Churchward. I defy anyone to read even the cover of Claire McGlasson’s debut novel, and not be intrigued.  “This is the Garden of Eden. Hidden in plain sight. It was here in Bedford all along. Welcome to the Panacea Society, a terribly English cult.” McGlasson’s work of fiction is expertly constructed, based
Book review: Lessons in Stoicism by John Sellars

Book review: Lessons in Stoicism by John Sellars

reviewed by Chris Richards. John Sellars’ Lessons in Stoicism is a slim volume introducing Stoicism to a new audience; inspiring readers to become followers. Any and all readers will find wisdom and tangible pathways to contentedness in some form. Like many of the best ideas and wisdom, once found these ideas are obvious, innate and
Book review: RMS Titanic: The Bridlington Connections by Richard M Jones

Book review: RMS Titanic: The Bridlington Connections by Richard M Jones

reviewed by Chris Richards. This history book is about the RMS Titanic and its links to Bridlington in Yorkshire. The tone is sensitive and celebratory of the people who made history over the last hundred years. Richard M Jones was an eleven-year-old boy when his enthusiasm for the Titanic story was sparked. The book is
Book review: The Quarter by Naguib Mahfouz

Book review: The Quarter by Naguib Mahfouz

reviewed by Will Vigar. To my shame, Naguib Mahfouz is not a name I knew before receiving his book ‘The Quarter’. When you consider that he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988, this oversight seems all the more shameful. But rather than descend into a Catholic guilt spiral and spending the rest of
Book review: Dead Popular by Sue Wallman

Book review: Dead Popular by Sue Wallman

reviewed by Georgina Lippiett. Dead Popular is a Young Adult novel set in Mount Norton School, one of the most expensive boarding schools in the country. With its coastal setting and state-of-the-art facilities, the students are entitled, confident and guaranteed to succeed. It’s the beginning of term and Kate Lynette Jordan-Ferreira is the newly appointed
Book review: Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie

Book review: Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie

Reviewed by Chris Richards  You don’t read this story. You feel it. Luan Goldie’s Nightingale Point is visceral, not cerebral. It is powerful, engaging, important, and at times painful. A tale of chances, chaos, and consequences. There are criticisms that can be made but, ultimately, it is perfectly imperfect. Nightingale Point is inspired by a
October Books: how the radical bookshop is booming

October Books: how the radical bookshop is booming

by Sally Churchward. For the staff and volunteers at October Books, there is delicious irony in the fact that the building in which the radical bookshop is now based used to house a bank. “I love it, it’s so ironic,” exclaims volunteer Glyn Oliver, who has been helping with fixing up the new venue, around