Review: The Good People

4/5 – Very good

Life in the Irish countryside when people were full of superstitions which played a huge part in their lives. The fairies possessing people and stopping chickens laying, cows not yielding milk, crops failing. The women gossiping spreading rumours. The sadness and lack of understanding of life and the troubles it brings. The trial of 3 women for possible murder when it was really fear and superstition.

I found it a rollercoaster of emotions. Well written with a good understanding of how people lived and how superstition ruled them.

Maria Bailey


Review: The Wolf Wilder

4/5 – Very Good

Although written for children it is a good read for any age. It was well written, drawing you into the story. The characters seemed real you could almost feel the cold and the story emotional with a magical backdrop. Of Russia in winter you could almost feel the fur and smell the scent of wolves showing them in a light not of fear but as a friend of people. Very enjoyable.

Maria Bailey

Review: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

2/5 – Okay

I can read most books but I am finding this a very hard read. I have just under a 100 pages to go and the only motivation is I like to finish books I have started.

It follows the crew on a space vessel but there is no storyline as such just aliens living and working together. I like the description of the different characters. But it doesn’t come together, hopefully it will in the last few pages. Not sure if I will read it in time for the next meeting.

Maria Bailey

Review: The watchmaker of Filigree Street

4/5 – Very good

I thought this was a lovely read and one that I would recommend. It’s one of those that you read for a little while, enchanted and then the plot deepens and you realise that there is another layer (and more layers) which make it difficult to put down. It’s almost best not to put it down since you need to keep alert as the story moves around and the details come at you thick and fast.

It is wonderfully evocative of the time and the place and the characters are quite alive (along with the mechanical creatures). It made me stop and gasp a couple of times with suprises!

This book is a “keeper” which is my way of deciding if it stays on my bookshelf or not, would I read it again? Oh yes!

Valerie Skelton

Review: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher

Have never been a fan of short stories as feel that it is a difficult genre to master successfully – either you are left wanting more or the story doesn’t get going.

Unfortunately, Hilary Mantell’s foray into the short story genre hasn’t made me change my mind!

Janet White

Review: Gabriel’s Angel

4/5 – Very good

I enjoyed this so much. I found the writing style eloquent and easy to read; if that makes sense. An original concept, very funny use of black humour. Challenges conventional beliefs too.

Liz Smith

Review: Marriage Material

An astonishing debut novel!

Like a good corner shop pick-n-mix, ‘Marriage Material’ is a wonderfully mixed bag. Some sweetness, some sour, and like that unavoidable hard toffee penny, it has a way of periodically jamming your teeth; making you chew over it for hours between sittings.

This book concerns three generations of a Sikh family, centred in a Wolverhampton corner shop. It is dryly funny (the Boys II Men funeral suit dilemma is pitch-perfect) and also wise and insightful and horrifying and just wonderfully brilliant. The characters are well-drawn and believable, particularly Arjan’s mother and Ranjit. It regularly made me evaluate the complexities of integration from political, religious, historical and cultural standpoints, but it also reminded me of the complexities of simply growing up.
Although it covers some heavier issues, it does so with huge heart, and a deftness of touch that marks Sathnam Sanghera out as an author to watch.
This comes highly recommended. The final 20 pages, I’ll confess, left me breathless!

Leilah Skelton

Review: Burial Rites

Immersive, suspenseful… stunning!

Hannah Kent has produced something quite remarkable with her debut novel. We know from the very start the details of the crime committed, and we know the ultimate fate of our narrator, but there is still breath-catching suspense, heart-aching passion, and intrigue throughout.

The prose is poetic, immersive and simply stunning. I’ve not read something so lusciously descriptive in a long while. Kent has brought life to the hard labour and frigid farmsteads of early 19th century Iceland, and made flesh these few long forgotten people in a way that will haunt me for a long while to come.

A cautionary tale of the judgements we make based on the facts presented to us, a quiet curtsey to a historically maligned character, and a love letter to Iceland. The sort of book that makes me excited about what this young author has to offer next!

Simply stunning!

Leilah Skelton

Review: The Spinning Heart


Join us, as we lean metaphorically on the front gates of twenty one small town residents and discover through their often brutally honest monologues, the truth of a murder, an affair, a kidnapping and – most affectingly – an over-arching despair caused by the financial collapse in Ireland.

Each voice is unique and stands to break our assumptions of the character, formed by a brief mentions in preceding chapters. If any book stands as a warning of the dangers of hearsay, this is the one.

Ryan’s writing is clear and concise, though peppered with the most beautiful descriptive prose. This is the sort of book that I could easily have attacked furiously with a highlighter. It is also one that I think will possibly give more with a second reading. Easily one of the best debuts of the year!

Leilah Skelton