Book review: A Thread Of Grace by Mary Doria Russell



The Second World War was a bit confusing if you were in Europe. Sure, it was fine for those countries that weren’t actually occupied or at war, but it was bloody difficult for everyone else, running around listening to rumours about who had capitulated, who was on what side, and, if you were one of the unfortunate refugees, which new group of people had been ordered to kill you. A Thread Of Grace works its way through the harrowing years of the Second World War in Europe, and focuses particularly on the contribution of the Italian people supporting and hiding the fleeing Jewish community.

Book review: Dave Barry’s Money Secrets – Like, Why Is There A Giant Eyeball On The Dollar? by Dave Barry



If this was a pizza, it would be the pizza I’m going to make when I get home, using Lebanese bread as a base so you can eat a whole one (pizza) with many toppings and still feel a bit hungry. Pizza. PIZZA!

Book review: The Witness For The Prosecution And Other Stories by Agatha Christie



Far more satisfying than my last Agatha Christie experience; this collection of short stories, originally published in 1948 (obviously seven years did wonders for her), delves into the supernatural, the mysterious, the psychological, the criminal, and the downright strange.

Book review: Nul Points by Tim Moore



If this was a bottle of wine, it would be a cheap and unprepossessing 2-year-old chardonnay from God-knows-where that grows in splendour right up to the final drop.

Book review: N Or M? by Agatha Christie



Originally published in 1941, N Or M? by Agatha Christie plunges the reader into the world of middle aged irregulars, boarding houses, knitting, and the worst kind of Nazis... English ones.

Book review: A Load Of Old Ball Crunchers by Jo Brand



If this was a stand-up routine, it would be one of those “themed” ones from a festival which is, sometimes despite itself, funny, and actually stands up better than a lot of the other fluff going around.

Book review: Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll



I very much doubt that when Lewis Carroll (aka the reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) rowed down the Thames with the Liddle girls in 1865 and happened to make up a story about Alice to keep them occupied he could possibly have imagined the profound impact his story would still be having on the world, over one hundred years later. Still very much in print, and still being adapted for screen, Alice In Wonderland really has staying power.

Book review: From Sun Tzu To Xbox – War and Video Games by Ed Halter



If this was a videogame, it would be something like Rainbow Six: Vegas—great attention to detail, confidence in its audience, not funded by the Pentagon, but a bit too dry for my tastes (sorry to be so literal, but I know not everybody’s used to using first-person shooter metaphors in their day to day lives, hard as it is to believe).

Book review: The Sign Of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle



The second of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novellas, The Sign Of Four (originally published in 1890), is less with the long-winded-Sherlock-Holmes-single-minded-genius and more with the getting-to-know-the-many-facets-of-Sherlock-Holmes, beginning with his penchant for injecting cocaine to relieve boredom and smattered with his airy ability to quote philosophers in a multitude of languages (happily ignoring the fact that in the previous story, Holmes had no interest in philosophy). The new Sherlock Holmes is certainly an improvement, though.

Mountain Man Dance Moves – The McSweeney’s Book Of Lists by The Editors of McSweeney’s



If this was the beginning of a Miyazaki movie, it would be a montage of bored office workers, each with cheeky-eyed sprites escaping their wasted minds, flitting out the windows and through the skies of the globe to gather together in space as one enormous totally sweet unicorn with a GSOH.

Book review: Are You Experienced? by William Sutcliffe



Ah, India. Land of mystery, spices, saris, exotic religions, “travellers” in their late teens looking to find themselves spiritually on their big adventure before university... and of course, the dope’s really cheap.

Book review: Moab is My Washpot by Stephen Fry



If this was an evening at home, it would be a rainy night spent sitting in your favourite chair by the fire with a thick letter from a fond friend going through difficult times. There’d also be cups of tea and chocolate biscuits.

Book review: Anne Of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery



Anne Of Green Gables may well be falling by the wayside these days, being bypassed for more current reading materials for young girls. When I was about ten, I loved everything Anne Of Green Gables, but I have no idea how I found out about her and whether or not many people are still discovering her. I do know that anyone who grew up with the Anne series will rave about her. To do this review I did go back and re-read Anne Of Green Gables, to take a more grown-up look at her. But whether it’s that I used to love her so much, or that it is just a really great book, I still really enjoyed it.

Book review: King Blood by Simon Clark



If this was a TV mini-series, it would be pitched as “Stephen-King-meets-George-Romero—in Britain!!!! And we can film the whole thing for under two million! Did I say two million? I meant one point five. We’ll hire locals and feed them fairy bread.”

Book review: A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle



A Study In Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was originally published in 1887, and it's still around, reprinted as recently as 2004. Sherlock Holmes sure has stood the test of time, and A Study In Scarlet is one of his most well known stories - probably because it's the world's introduction to the illustrious Sherlock Holmes, and documents his meeting with Watson and their first mystery together, and also because it's a bit longer and more detailed than Doyle's later stories.

Book review: A Bit On The Side by Alan Coren



If this was a member of the pre-war idle rich, it would be Bertie Wooster.

Book review: Mangrove Mama... And Other Tropical Tales Of Terror by Janwillem Van de Wetering



This eclectic little collection of short stories is very Janwillem Van de Wetering - and I feel qualified to say that even though I've only read a total of two of his books now. His personality permeates every corner of his writing, and he has an intriguing style combined with a taste for the bizarre that combines very happily. Having read his bio, I could sort of tell why he was heading in those directions, but it certainly didn't detract from the reading experience.

Book review: Non-Fiction by Chuck Palahniuk



If this was an autobiography, it would be effing awesome, but I’d also like to imagine that Chuck will always be too busy out there doing stuff to pen his own memoirs.

Book review: Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult



Firstly, I’ll qualify this review with a confession that I didn’t quite go into this reading experience feeling impartial. I have read a couple of Jodi Picoult’s other novels (she’s a prolific best seller with millions drooling over her writing capability; she’s pretty difficult to avoid) and I didn’t think they were that great. So I wasn’t overly open minded about this latest reading experience, and she certainly didn’t manage to change my mind with Perfect Match. Although, to be fair, apparently lots of people hated this one, even her fans. So what chance did I have?

Book review: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller



If this was adapted as a sitcom after its first printing in 1961, it would have become Hogan’s Heroes. Does all mainstream satire eventually become a joke about itself? Discuss.

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