WHAT IS THIS PLACE?
This site is my blog of book reviews. Its aim is to help you find novels you’ll enjoy reading.
I review books and identify other books that are, in my opinion, similar in some way. If you’ve read the novel being reviewed and agree with the review, you might like to try one of the other recommendations.
I don’t highlight new books, or books following a trend, or books by the celebrity of the moment. I simply highlight some of my favourite novels of all time, and say why.
HOW IT WORKS
Title of the book and author
A one-line description (no spoilers)
Plot – I like big, engaging stories that hang together perfectly, and keep me wanting to read more and more. If the story doesn’t surpass the humdrum of daily life, it will have to be exquisitely well-written and observed to keep me interested.
Setting – I want to be swept away into the world of the book. I want that world to feel real and obey the rules of its own reality. If it’s ingenious or original, even better.
Characters – I prefer characters who seem like someone you could conceivably meet. The best characters have their own mind and don’t read like a mouthpiece for the author. My favourite characters feel real but do amazing things too.
Writing – Everyone has their own taste for what is good writing. And what is good might change depending on the context of the book. My favourite prose clearly conveys its meaning, has dialogue that rings true, and has a poetry in the turn of phrase and choice of words. I like it when I notice the language used and it makes me think: ‘that’s beautiful, and it’s exactly right’.
Long review – My impressions of the book, more or less organised into coherent sentences. Sometimes contains spoilers, sometimes more of an essay than a review.
Books like this – Other books that to my mind are similar in theme, content, style, tone.
BOOKS I LIKE
The best books communicate beyond their words, conveying thoughts that are not our own, but that resonate with our own personal truths. This blog aims to pick out some books that are works of art, written by masters of the craft of writing. In my opinion, of course.
WHAT I REVIEW
I read all sorts of books all the time, but my main taste is for novels, so that’s what I’m writing reviews about. I’ve tried to separate out genres but I don’t think people should stick to any one genre. Sometimes the greatest novels blur lines between genres anyway. I tend to enjoy escapist fiction more than realism – but you’ll see from my reviews what my personal taste is like, and whether it works for you.
BOOKS I DON’T LIKE
I’ll pick on elements of books that don’t quite work for me, but I don’t write reviews of books I fundamentally don’t like. I would rather recommend than slate.
However, to give you a feeling for my taste, here are a few works that are widely appreciated that I don’t like: anything by the Brontë sisters, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. The reason is the same – the characters feel and act in a hysterical fashion that I just don’t recognise. The protagonists just don’t feel like real people to me with real concerns, I don’t sympathise with them, and it doesn’t interest me to read about them. Another well-loved book I didn’t like is Don Quixote. Slapstick humour doesn’t keep me turning hundreds of pages. Sorry Cervantes.
CAN I REVIEW YOUR NOVEL?
Yes – though the site functionality to enable this is TBC. I’m happy to read books by published or self-published authors once this is up and running. Note: I guarantee I’ll start to read a book at some point, but I won’t guarantee I’ll review it. I don’t finish reading books if I don’t like the writing style in the first few pages, and I don’t review books I don’t like. Also I might not get round to it if I get distracted by something else. But if I love the book it will get reviewed here, sooner or later.