Books

Review: Alan Hollinghurst Rating 69%

Review: Alan Hollinghurst

To say that Alan Hollinghurst introduced me to homosexuality in 1988 may be a slightly overstated claim. As a student of a London Music Conservatoire, I thought I was pretty familiar with the gay scene. But on finding a discarded copy of The Swimming Pool Library on a tube train, my eyes were opened to a world well-beyond the camp milieu of my college Student Union. Hollinghurst’s first novel shocked and thrilled in equal measure, and despite the huge class differences between us, I felt this writer was saying something significant.

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Review: Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson Rating 100%

Review: Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson

The 25th anniversary edition of Owl Babies features a text in the front of the book that describes how its authors ‘touched on a timeless truth – capturing the attachment and deep affection between a mother and child with humour and tenderness.’ The back features two quotes from the authors themselves – Martin Waddell comments how the book was inspired by seeing a young child lost in a supermarket, repeating the phrase “I want my mummy” over and over again, which of course became key to the story. He adds also that he hopes he has reassured each child who reads it that their fears are reasonable, and that their loved ones will always be there for them. Illustrator Patrick Benson, meanwhile, talks about the challenge of creating a world that was ‘realistically dark, but ultimately unthreatening’, and about helping to abate a child’s fear of the night and reassure them that their mum will always be there. Judging by the fact that the book has shifted four and a half million copies since its initial publication in 1992, and was subsequently adapted as a short animation for the Channel 4 Schools show ‘Rat-a-tat-tat’, they have clearly succeeded in their aims. 

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Review: Treasure Hunt by Alice Melvin Rating 96%

Review: Treasure Hunt by Alice Melvin

Award-winning Edinburgh-based illustrator Alice Melvin has chosen to mark ten years of her relationship with the Tate Gallery by releasing Treasure Hunt, a keepsake activity book aimed squarely at the over fives. It’s a charming little collection of activities that your child is sure to love, particularly during the autumn and winter months.

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Review: Demi-Gods by Eliza Robertson Rating 65%

Review: Demi-Gods by Eliza Robertson

A few pages into the reading of this book I had to pause to Google “Whatever happened to the speech mark?” This ever-increasing trend seems difficult to avoid, and Bloomsbury are right on it throughout this latest offering from the publishing giant. (Incidentally, Google came up with the answer that forfeiting inverted commas makes the speech more immediate and direct. Whatever, I’m just going to make this sentence more direct by leaving out the full stop)

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Review: Orhan Pamuk Rating 65%

Review: Orhan Pamuk

On a glistening, crisp, mid-September afternoon, Edinburgh had the glorious reminder that the Edinburgh International Book Festival is not just for one month and one month only. Thanks to Booked!, EIBF’s on the road, all year round event schedule, the city was graced with Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author, Orhan Pamuk, who discussed his latest novel, The Red-Haired Woman, with Literary Editor and author, Stuart Kelly. It was quickly established to the audience by his friendly and chatty ease on stage that Pamuk is a man every inch as witty and charming as his books. 

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Review: Philippe Sands, EIBF 2017 Rating 90%

Review: Philippe Sands, EIBF 2017

Prior to last year, Philippe Sands was perhaps best known as the barrister who laid out a methodical take-down of the British government’s legal case for war in Iraq.  In 2005’s Lawless World, Sands displayed a extensive knowledge of international law and legal history, something he would call upon again for the 2016 Baillie Gifford prize-winner East West Street. It is this latest book, a legal history-cum-memoir, which has brought him true international renown, and which drew a sold-out audience to hear him speak at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival.

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Kaite Welsh: It was always going to be in Edinburgh

Kaite Welsh is the author of The Wages of Sin (2017, Tinder Press), a historical crime novel following the exploits of Sarah Gilchrist, a medical student with a murky past. When Sarah believes one of her patients, a prostitute, has been murdered, she knows she is the only one willing to discover the killer. She must navigate the highest echelons of Edinburgh society and the depths of its slums, facing mockery, violence and misogyny along the way, before she can solve the crime. 

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Review: David Bishop and Steve MacManus, EIBF 2017 Rating 80%

Review: David Bishop and Steve MacManus, EIBF 2017

What’s the biggest challenge facing the editor of an iconic comic book?  Steve MacManus and his successor David Bishop, both of whom were long-standing editors of British institution 2000AD, agreed that it was having to act as a buffer between firebrand creators and profit-obsessed management. 

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Review: Patrick Ness, EIBF 2017 Rating 90%

Review: Patrick Ness, EIBF 2017

Promoting his new YA title, Release, Patrick Ness made it to Edinburgh International Book Festival to discuss not writing chosen kid narratives, mental health and a refreshing approach to writing for teenagers. The highly acclaimed and award-winning author spoke at the book festival to an audience of fans allowing them to engage with him on a Q&A level and get a better sense of this new title.

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