New Short Book Reviews – August 2017


The shorter I make them, the more people comment on how much they enjoy them. That’s what reading Twitter all day does for you…


Nonetheless… Some are brand new, some already out, all read by me in the last few weeks.


June Caldwell – Room Little Darker

God what a breath of fresh air to read a collection short stories by an Irish author that, in places, literally blow you away and are frequently like nothing else you’ve read in years! Part dark sexuality, part speculative fiction, all wonderfully original. Yes, not for those with dicky tickers or those that find offence easily (another reason I found myself enthralled by them BTW) but new, new, new, original, smart, filthy and wonderful.


Gabriel Tallent – My Absolute Darling

This one is going to divide people and already has. A complex story, back story and future of one teenage girl living with her father in isolation in almost impossible poverty in rural America painted with guns, survivalism, clashes with the world outside, mental health, loyalty and one of the most harrowing scenes I’ve had to read in recent years. One I did not see coming.

You can never, like with last year’s A Little Life, call this “enjoyable”, but it’s certainly one I think you should grab and read as Turtle is one of the most rounded and memorable characters in a long time.


Naomi Klein – No Is Not Enough

Cards on the table here – No Logo (about brands, labour laws, sweatshops) changed my view of the world way back when, The Shock Doctrine (laying bare disaster capitalism’s agenda) did again and This Changes Everything (on climate change and just how close we are to the edge) just coalesced a ton of things I was worried about already.

This takes threads from all of her previous works and brings them together into the surrounds of one man – Donald Trump. It explains why, literally, just saying “no” isn’t enough anymore and then, hopefully, at the end, shows a possible agenda for the future.



Neal Stephenson – Seveneves

Not new but worth the mention as, if you grew up like me reading “hard science” SF in the form of Arthur C. Clarke, this is a thing of beauty and a wonder. It starts (in the first paragraph) with the destruction of the Moon by an unknown force (of nature, not “force” in the sense of army or aliens!) and finishes 5,000 years in the future when the human race returns to reclaim a destroyed planet.

Very intelligent but with fantastically drawn out characters, science, political manoeuvrings and small human moments. Adored it.


Matt Haig – How To Stop Time

Sometimes when you read the premise of something like this you wonder “now why didn’t I think of that?”. It’s because you’re not Matt Haig.

What if there were a tiny portion of the human race who lived for centuries, aging incredibly slowly and being almost invulnerable but weren’t vampires. They were just people. How would you survive people noticing you didn’t age if you were born in the age of witches? How would you make a living? Most importantly, how would you survive without love?

Thoroughly enjoyable, shame I hadn’t read it before Summer as it definitely would have been on the “bring on your holidays” list. Don’t let that stop you now.


Sarah Crossan – Moonrise

I’m going out on a limb here to say that Sarah Crossan’s gorgeous new book straddles the border between YA and adult not because of any content, merely because why judge a story as YA because the main character is a teenager? One kid’s last week visiting his brother on death row for a crime he claims he didn’t commit and how it affects everyone around them. Atmospheric, detailed, real, heartbreaking and told in her own unique prose style.

This may be the best thing she’s ever written.

I’m interviewing Sarah on September 12th and it’s free –


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