Thursday, 4 September 2014

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

This is masterly and moving. Again, listening to this on audio seemed to somehow add to the effect. Here is one confessional voice, delivering something between a family memoir and a scientific report. I won’t spoiler what makes the family at the heart of this novel unique, but I will say that the book is a heartbreaker. It makes you rethink what it means to be someone’s child or sibling, and what it means to be somebody’s responsibility, and how and why people might fail in that role.

The book moves so beautifully through various time frames, giving us the middle first and the beginning of the end, and the end of the beginning. It is restless, intelligent and told in a jaded tone riven with pain. All the way through it has you hoping against hope that things will work out okay.

Straight to the top of the Magrs Top Ten Novels of 2014, I think.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Ok – I’m back! Back reviewing for the start of autumn 2014… and I’m not sure how regularly, or that I’ll review everything that I read. But I promise to be concise and honest and pithy and HERE on!


It’s been a funny summer of reading. Lots of new, lots of Beach House books that have been waiting for my attention. Lots of actual books, lots of ebooks and – most recently – I’ve been rediscovering the joy of unabridged audio. Which is how I experienced this novel…


I have read almost everything I’ve read by Adriana Trigiani, after discovering her first book in 2002. I think I’ve read almost everything up to and including this one, from a couple of years ago. Her Italian-American family sagas are bustling with lively characters and sub-plots, and then lavish with descriptive passages about food, clothes, sex and shoes. The characters get more numerous and noisome and the description gets more lavish and lengthy as the books go on.

I listened to this one – about a lovelorn shoemaker in Greenwich village – on unabridged audio and I think Trigiani’s writing is even funnier and warmer when listened to. The sumptuous details vie amusingly for air time with the more earthy wit of her secondary characters (especially the marvelous mother and father.) As ever, the trip to Italy at the heart of the book is a highpoint. Was it just me, though, or is our heroine Valentine just a little bit too spoiled and selfish to gain our complete readerly affection..?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Announcing - 'Lost on Mars' - to be published by Firefly Press in 2015!

Today I'm really pleased to announce that the wonderful Firefly Press will be publishing my new kids' book. It's a science fiction adventure called 'Lost on Mars' and it'll be out in May 2015. Here's more details from the Firefly website...

Martian Epic Signing for Firefly

We're delighted to announce we will be publishing Lost on Mars by Paul Magrs in May 2015. Paul is a fantastic author of many books for adults, children and young adults, including Strange Boy, Exchange and Diary of a Dr Who Addict.  (As he is such an addict, and has written five Dr Who novels for BBC books and over twenty original Dr Who audiobooks/dramas, it's also lovely to have the announcement the week we're celebrating Peter Capaldi's new Doctor!)
Lost on Mars is the story of Lora and her family, human settlers on the red planet, as they struggle to survive against terrible odds and is the beginning of a epic series. 'I wanted to write a grand science fiction epic set on another planet, about human beings surviving in incredible new circumstances and encountering mysterious and fascinating new ideas,' says Paul. 'It's a kind of blend of the best elements of classic children's fiction, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books, and Golden Age space operas such as Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.'

Paul said about his inspiration for the book: ‘With my Mars series I want to write a grand science fiction epic set on another planet, about human beings surviving in incredible new circumstances and encountering mysterious and fascinating new ideas. I also want it to be a family story, full of great characters that we come to care for and identify with as they embark on a quest that will take them into the heart of the mystery of the planet Mars.’

Monday, 18 August 2014

The Magrs Top Ten - my novels of the year so far...

I've read roundabout a hundred books so far this year. I'm hoping to get my blog going again soon, after the summer break. But in the meantime - in no particular order - here's my top ten novels of the year so far:
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler
The Fault in our Stars – John Green
Fan Girl – Rainbow Rowell
The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
The Collected Works of A.J Fikry – Gabrielle Levin
The Storyteller – Jodi Picoult
One Night in Italy – Lucy Diamond
The Unpredictable Consequences of Love – Jill Mansell
Doctor Who : Engines of War – George Mann
IQ84 (Books 1 & 2) – Haruki Murakami

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Best Brenda Villains?

Think back – who, in your opinion, is the best Brenda villain or monster?

My top five would be:

5) Karla Sorenson – polymorphously perverse vintage film starlet who unleashed all kinds of chaos with her remake of ‘Get Thee Inside Me, Satan’ in ‘Hell’s Belles’ (2009)

4) Goomba the Bamboo Deity from the Dawn of Time in ‘Something Borrowed’ (2007) Was he wicked or just horribly misunderstood? His brooding presence resided in a set of garden furniture in Sheila Manchu’s beer garden and he ended up enslaving almost all of Whitby as the dreadful Wickerwork Man.

3) Kristoff Alucard. He was washed up on the shore of Whitby in the 1890s and no one’s been able to get rid of him since. Effie’s some-time beau and a bit too dapper for his own good. Brenda wouldn’t trust him as far as she could chuck him, and perhaps she was right.

2) Mrs Claus. The grotesque old bag who rules the Christmas Hotel and makes it forever Yule. She starts out in the series as an out-and-out horror, but maybe she redeems herself by the end, when certain revelations are unwrapped?

1) For me number one has to be Mr Danby – that most persistent of villains. Whether it’s a Deadly Boutique or a muck-raking late night chat show, or a bookshop housing a celestial gateway into the wicked land of Qab – this oleaginous fiend keeps coming up with crackpot schemes designed to suck the life essence out of our two leading ladies. Is he and his dessicated Mother Superior (whom he carries about in a suitcase) still at large? And will we ever find out?

Let me know if I’ve missed anyone even more horrible out…!

Also - there's now a Brenda and Effie facebook page! Do pop along and join!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Proofreading Fester

I've just finished proof-reading Fester's book (and cried at the end again, even though I was sure I wasn't going to.) With this rereading, it's really seeming as if he's about to go his way into the world, and from now on he's not just going to be *our* little cat.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Beach House Books

The summerish weather this past weekend has sent both Bernard Socks and I down to the Beach House. I remembered my plan to read up all the unread books I’ve got hanging around the place. For the past couple of months everything I’ve read has been brand new, and in sparkly e-book form.  I’ve missed the scent of old books and the uncovering of slightly obscure novels that the rest of the world has passed by…

So, I’m hoping that as this summer matures I can start getting back to the more arcane corners of my ramshackle paperback collection. Here’s a bunch of covers to keep you amused…