Our booksellers share some of their favourite books of the moment…
You’re the One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher
Reviewed by Sarah at Warrington
You’re the One That I Want explores the trials and tribulations of relationships and emotions. Love can be a complex thing and not more so than when it involves a group of friends, secrets and potentially unrequited love.
If you go into this expecting your typical fluffy romance novel then you are in for a surprise. The emotions conveyed feel very genuine and relatable. Even if your experiences have been different and less dramatic than those of the main characters, the quality of the writing is such that it’s easy to understand what they are feeling. There may be a few tears shed throughout the reading of this story – it’s not hard to develop empathy for the experiences of these characters. Although the main focus is the relationship between Maddy and the boys, their friendship and life experiences are also explored. It’s interesting to see relationships and emotions from a male perspective. Plus there’s some awesome nineties nostalgia and a little nod to Giovanna’s first novel ‘Billy and Me’. All in all, a wonderfully accomplished second novel.
If you enjoy this book then you should try One Day by David Nicholls, as it has the same emotional depth. And don’t forget to check out Giovanna’s first novel if you haven’t already.
Eyrie by Tim Winton
Reviewed by Dan Lewis
Tim Winton is an Australian national treasure. No, really – the National Trust of Australia designated him a “Living Treasure”. Ever since his breakthrough hit Cloudstreet, he’s delivered powerful novels grounded in a real sense of place, that place often being the Western Australia of his birth.
Though Eyrie sees him once again return to this familiar landscape, the book has something to say about the broader state of western culture, about what a family is and what it means to be an individual trying to survive whilst doing no harm. Tom Keely is a heart broken man who has determined to prove John Donne wrong by becoming the first man who truly is an island. But, holed up in his eyrie, the high rise apartment block known as The Mirador which towers over Fremantle, he merely sinks into a self-indulgent sulk. Then, quite by accident, he reconnects with a woman from his past, and a young boy called Kai – who is haunted by visions of flight and fall. As he opens himself up to them however he soon realises that there’s a price to pay in all human relationships. If About a Boy had been rewritten by Martin Amis, then adapted for film by the Coen Brothers before being turned into a novelisation by Philipp Meyer – it would have been a colossal mess. Tim Winton’s Eyrie is a studied, carefully-controlled exploration of humans forced to consider the past, present and future of their humanity. Oh, and it contains the best hangover scene since Lucky Jim.
Catastrophe by Max Hastings
Reviewed by Elfarran at Truro
You will not be disappointed if you read Max Hasting’s account of the opening and first months of the First World War. It helps that this is the most exciting period, when the campaign flowed freely and the balance of victory swung between the Central Powers and the Entente before stalemate set in with the “rush to the sea”, but Hastings’ measured account brings clarity and understanding to the politics and military imperatives that brought a century of peace in Europe to an horrific end.
He is quite clear where the pricipal blame lies, and challenges the “Blackadder / War Poet negativity which has characterised our response to the war for most of the intervening period. A conservative view, as you would expect from him, but nevertheless a good start for anyone embarking on a year of commemoration.
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
Reviewed by Erin Britton at Telford
In David and Goliath Malcolm Gladwell sets out to discover, through an interesting selection of case studies, whether having a perceived disadvantage can actually lead to a person (or interest group) being stronger/more successful in the long run.
Through the life stories of a disparate collection of people (some you will have heard of, some you won’t) Gladwell attempts to determine just why some people are able to be incredibly successful while others seem to crash and burn at life. While it might seem obvious that adversity will spur some people on to improve their lot and achieve great things while others let circumstances overwhelm them, Gladwell’s case studies are illuminating as to how exactly success can be achieved and what behaviours can be best adopted to help make the best out of difficult situations.
David and Goliath is an engaging, sometimes provocative, exploration of an intriguing topic and Malcolm Gladwell is, as ever, an informative and clear guide to his subject matter.
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. by Viv Albertine
Reviewed by Kerry Meech
In Viv Albertine’s memoir, Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys., she recalls spending an awkward day wandering around London handcuffed to Sid Vicious, well reading CCCMMMBBB is akin to being handcuffed to Viv as she gleefully drags you through London squats and dive bars, introducing you to the gang of misfits who would later become the poster boys and girls of the punk movement.
However, this memoir is so much more than just an eyewitness account of the music scene of the late 70s and 80s, it is also a refreshingly honest, funny and often uncomfortably brutal account of life post-punk. Nothing can really prepare you for this book –and whilst it may only be the beginning of the Summer I believe I’ve just found my must-read biography of 2014.
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Reviewed by SashaJ at Greenwich
It only took me a few days to finish The Three and when I finished it, well, I decided to never get on a plane ever again.
The Three is a novel that’ll make question every flight or child that ever crosses your path. When a novel starts with four plane crashes in one day, as a reader you know that something strange is afoot.
The opening chapter is set in a Japanese airport, so as someone that frequented a couple of Japanese airports this novel felt eerily relatable. Especially when our first character, Pamela, is overwhelmed and panicked by the unfamiliarities of the airport. The first plane crash is from Pamela’s point of view and the way this chapter is written is truly terrifying and tense. Lotz manages to write an upsetting scene that leaves the reader rattled. For the frequent flyer, the little things like not wanting to disturb fellow passengers and instant jolt of panic you get when you see the seatbelt light turn on seem like trivial things but in the space of a few sentences Lotz puts the reader in a position of peril.
After the opening chapter the first thing readers will notice is the structure of the novel. The Three is constructed from a series of interviews and articles from a number of conflicting and differing points of view. The Three takes readers on a roller-coaster of emotions. The novel deals with grief, fear, suspense, panic and our biggest fear… the unknown.
Around the middle section of the novel the level of hysteria is terrifying. Most of the frenzied opinions coming from the religious community who saw The Three as a sign of the apocalypse. The chapters involving Pastor Len are written with such a details of conviction. The supernatural element is given in such a balanced way that early on as a reader you completely buy into the story and you often start to forget that you’re reading fiction.
I won’t go into the ending of The Three but it certainly wasn’t the ending I expected and the last page will leave the readers going “Oh my goodness…” I think the way the ending is set out can leave it open for interpretation for the reader.”