Books

Review: Sal by Mick Kitson Rating 85%

Review: Sal by Mick Kitson

Mick Kitson’s debut novel Sal, out this March from Canongate, tells the story of eponymous teenager Salmarina, who after enduring years of abuse by her mother’s boyfriend is forced to take matters into her own hands when he threatens her younger sister, Peppa. She must stop him and flee and, at all costs, she and Peppa must stay together. The book follows the girls’ flight into the depths of the Galloway forest park. Kitson’s spare, McCarthyesque prose tugs the reader along with highly textured procedural details; the making of a camp, the building of a shelter, the gutting of an animal–or a man.

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Review: Feel Free by Zadie Smith Rating 95%

Review: Feel Free by Zadie Smith

After the success of her bestselling novel, Swing Time (published in November 2016), Zadie Smith is back with her second essay collection, Feel Free. Those who have read Smith’s earlier essay collection, Changing My Mind, or any of her many magazine and newspaper articles (many of which are reproduced here in Feel Free) will be familiar with what constitutes a Zadie Smith Essay. As the book’s title, and her earlier collection’s title, suggest, Smith’s essays are an exercise in intellectual freedom. The scope of Smith’s subject matter is swung wide open as she effortlessly moves from wrestling with the political fallout of Brexit to an interview with Jay Z, to examining black consciousness in Jordan Peele’s film, Get Out, to the symbolic ramifications a second bathroom has to the British middle-class, to meeting Justin Bieber.

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Review: Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante Rating 77%

Review: Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante

Troubling Love, Elena Ferrante’s stylish debut, which was translated and published back in 2006, is a much adored find for those that have enjoyed the Neapolitan Novels, as there is a whole following you find of her chic family sagas. Beautifully told, the book explores family themes, abandonment and domestic abuse within this short novel and asks massive questions, which is the pull and hits your intrigue.

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Review: 100 Christmas Colouring Book by Dominika Lipniewska Rating 90%

Review: 100 Christmas Colouring Book by Dominika Lipniewska

Pencils, crayons and even pens at the ready – this colouring book contains luxuriously thick paper. Gone are the days of pen marks bleeding through thin papered colouring books which tear under pressure. Tested with crayons, pencils, felt tips and even the beloved Sharpie marker pen, 100 Christmas Colouring Book illustrated by Dominika Lipniewska and published by Tate, has proven to withstand them all. You no longer need to fear about the illustrations on the next page suffering from ghosting because this beautifully smooth paper absorbs the ink leaving the following page a crisp pearly white.

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Review: A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey Rating 80%

Review: A Long Way From Home by Peter Carey

Peter Carey is perhaps Australia’s most popular and accomplished author. A Long Way from Home is his fourteenth novel and is notable for being the first time Carey is explicitly addressing his cultural and national colonial inheritance. And in his own words, it’s about time: “You wake up in the morning and you are the beneficiary of a genocide […] I’m an Australian author and I haven’t written about this? Well, that just seems pathetic to me.”

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Review: Sugar Money by Jane Harris Rating 70%

Review: Sugar Money by Jane Harris

Sugar Money, set in the midst of the slave trade, tells the story of two slave brothers, Lucien and Emile, who work on a plantation run by Friars in Martinique. The novel opens with the brothers being summoned to see their master, Father Cleophas, and ordered to embark on a mission to return to their homeland of Grenada and smuggle forty-two slaves back to Martinique, as the Friars believe the slaves to have been stolen by English invaders.

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Lemn Sissay: It’s very live in my hand, it means great things to me

Lemn Sissay, reputable and inspirational poet and teacher, recently had his collection of poetry, Gold From The Stone, published by Canongate, and has been seen and heard across the country whether it be at Hay Festival or on BBC World radio. 
Lemn took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with The Fountain about working as a teacher in children’s care homes, the significance of reading for any writer and the importance of the publisher to any writer

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Review: The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich Rating 85%

Review: The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

Journalist, Svetlana Alexievich has done it again after notably being awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”. First published in 1985, Svetlana Alexievich’s hinged account of WW2 as seen not only through the eyes of hundreds of women, but the eyes of women on the Russian front line is a wonderfully insightful and harrowing text.

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Review: I’m Afraid Your Teddy is in Trouble Today by Jancee Dunn and Scott Nash Rating 88%

Review: I’m Afraid Your Teddy is in Trouble Today by Jancee Dunn and Scott Nash

Ever wondered what teddies do when you’re not home? This charming and highly amusing title answers that question. The titular Teddy has caused a bit of a situation. According to the police woman narrating the story, who involves the reader directly by breaking the fourth wall for much of it, a great deal of damage has been done to the house. Teddy called his friends around as soon as he knew he was home alone, and they proceed to cause carnage – from damaging the bed by using it as a trampoline to pouring bubble bath across the floor to having a sliding contest, it culminates in a dance party that has the neighbours complaining. As she describes the various shenanigans, the police woman’s hard shell seems to soften, and by the time she takes Teddy down to the station for questioning she is fondly remembering the one she loved as a child. She is moved to let Teddy and his friends off with a warning.

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Review: On the Night of the Shooting Star by Amy Hest and Jenni Desmond Rating 92%

Review: On the Night of the Shooting Star by Amy Hest and Jenni Desmond

Bunny and Dog live on opposite sides of the fence. Bunny’s house, fur and possessions are various shades of blue, Dog’s are red. Bunny likes cocoa and planting carrots. Dog likes biscuits and hiding his ball. They peek at each other through the fences. Both go to bed with their respective favourite snacks and read, and as they do, they check to see if the lights are on in one another’s houses. The seasons pass, but neither one says hello…until the night both open their doors to get a good look at a shooting star.

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Review: The Valley at the Centre of the World by Malachy Tallack Rating 95%

Review: The Valley at the Centre of the World by Malachy Tallack

Although no stranger to the book world, The Valley at the Centre of the World is the debut novel from Shetland-raised, Glasgow-residing Malachy Tallack. Following his non-fiction offerings of the autobiographical 60 Degrees North and last year’s The Un-Discovered Islands, Tallack’s lyrical language (he is also a songwriter and musician) means it comes as no surprise that he has turned his multi-talented hand to writing novels.

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