All That Man Is by David Szalay




David Szalay (born 1974 in Montreal, Quebec) is an English writer.

He was born in Canada, moved to the UK the following year and has lived there ever since. He studied at Oxford University and has written a number of radio dramas for the BBC.

He won the Betty Trask Award for his first novel, London and the South-East, along with the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. Since then he has written two other novels: Innocent (2009) and Spring (2011).

He has also recently been named one of The Telegraph’s Top 20 British Writers Under 40 and has also made it onto Granta magazine’s 2013 list of the Best of Young British Novelists.

A fourth novel All That Man Is was longlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2016.


A magnificent and ambitiously conceived portrait of contemporary life, by a genius of realism.

Nine men. Each of them at a different stage in life, each of them away from home, and each of them striving–in the suburbs of Prague, in an overdeveloped Alpine village, beside a Belgian motorway, in a dingy Cyprus hotel–to understand what it means to be alive, here and now. Tracing a dramatic arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, the ostensibly separate narratives of All That Man Is aggregate into a picture of a single shared existence, a picture that interrogates the state of modern manhood while bringing to life, unforgettably, the physical and emotional terrain of an increasingly globalized Europe. And so these nine lives form an ingenious and new kind of novel, in which David Szalay expertly plots a dark predicament for the twenty-first-century man.

Dark and disturbing, but also often wickedly and uproariously comic, All That Man Is is notable for the acute psychological penetration Szalay brings to bear on his characters, from the working-class ex-grunt to the pompous college student, the middle-aged loser to the Russian oligarch. Steadily and mercilessly, as this brilliantly conceived book progresses, the protagonist at the center of each chapter is older than the last one, it gets colder out, and All That Man Is gathers exquisite power. Szalay is a writer of supreme gifts–a master of a new kind of realism that vibrates with detail, intelligence, relevance, and devastating pathos.


Now this is what I call a good read, a strong read and read with character. It is basically a collection of short stories targeted at men readers, but I found it not only amusing but also enlightening and I feel that more women should pay attention here. On that note, don’t hurry tp judge the book on the first half, because then you’d be left with the opinion of men being an annoying, despicable breed not to be around. Being a certain amount of a tom-boy all my life, I have always taken the man’s side in enlargements and such, for me it was an important eye-opening read. I am not saying I was completely sold to it, but it definitely got my attention.

The book consists of nine stories which present a glimpse in the everyday life of 9 men, of different ages, starting from 17 to 70, coming from different social backgrounds. The characters live in various European cities and each story involves travelling to different places. The author is trying to create a portrait of the universal European Man, to convey the message that, in the end, man is all the same. There are some common themes that link the stories, among them is the way the characters regard time. At the beginning, when they are young the characters regard time with indifference, obsessing about sex, money, fame, career. Later in life they start to regret the missed opportunities, the mistakes they made with their choices, they stress there is no more time to change. In the end, there is the fear of death.

I had a very deep conversation on the matter with my dad, and he confirmed that mostly if the average man had to be described and a certain stereotype created then these would be the generic man this book speaks of… Sadly, I find it a bit too dehumanising, the men in the stories left me disinterested, even bored at times… I have never been so disappointed in a man my whole life, but then again, maybe I have the luck to always be surrounded by special humans.

While I am still on the list of dislikes about the book:

Although, I give credit to the author for the talent, technique and pure language play, there was a serious inconsistency of quality in the stories. I felt that the quality of the stories progressed, the first stories were quite boring and the last two were the best. I wonder if this was the intention of the author. As one grows he becomes sager and life has more meaning, etc. Finally, I did not like how the women were represented. The women in these stories have no personality, they are mainly an accessory for men. Is this what men are looking for? I understand this is a novel about self-absorbed men but it still felt uncomfortable.

Overall, I didn’t find this to be the philosophical and elegiac experience I might have expected. The prose is great, though; I’d certainly read a more straightforward novel by Szalay. This one, though, was a mediocre one for me.



Under A Pole Star by Stef Penney




Stef Penney grew up in the Scottish capital and turned to film-making after a degree in Philosophy and Theology from Bristol University. She made three short films before studying Film and TV at Bournemouth College of Art, and on graduation was selected for the Carlton Television New Writers Scheme. She has also written and directed two short films; a BBC 10 x 10 starring Anna Friel and a Film Council Digital Short in 2002 starring Lucy Russell.

She won the 2006 Costa Book Awards with her debut novel The Tenderness of Wolves which is set in Canada in the 1860s. . As Stef Penney suffered from agoraphobia at the time of writing this novel, she did all the research in the libraries of London and never visited Canada.


Flora Mackie was twelve when she first crossed the Arctic Circle on her father’s whaling ship. Now she is returning to the frozen seas as the head of her own exploration expedition. Jakob de Beyn was raised in Manhattan, but his yearning for new horizons leads him to the Arctic as part of a rival expedition. When he and Flora meet, all thoughts of science and exploration give way before a sudden, all-consuming love.

The affair survives the growing tensions between the two groups, but then, after one more glorious summer on the Greenland coast, Jakob joins his leader on an extended trip into the interior, with devastating results.

The stark beauty of the Arctic ocean, where pack ice can crush a ship like an eggshell, and the empty sweep of the tundra, alternately a snow-muffled wasteland and an unexpectedly gentle meadow, are vividly evoked. Against this backdrop Penney weaves an irresistible love story, a compelling look at the dark side of the golden age of exploration, and a mystery that Flora, returning one last time to the North Pole as an old woman, will finally lay to rest.


On choosing to read this novel you should prepare yourself for a very long read.The book is over 600 pages, definitely not an easy read, and definitely full of many different themes that would appeal to some, but put others away. I paid a lot of attention when reading it, that is why it took me so long to review it. Still, I am not entirely sure whether my annotation would be adequate enough to show the true grandness of this novel.

The writing is of a very high standard. If I have any issues with this book it would be about the pace. The descriptive writing is great however, at times, it seemed to slow the book down for me. The inside story of those early expeditions is fascinating as the tale is gradually told. I would imagine this book would be a “must” for many Steff Penney fans.

Personally, I was a bit taken aback with the huge amount of information that the book bombards you with. But, I am almost entirely sure that was my fault, not the novel’s. I was a bit overworked and definitely not focused enough to fully appreciate the story. The characters are all lovely, strong, determined, life-like, not without a fault, of course, but it is extremely easy to love them and follow their journey.

This is a book to read by a fire, imagining the beauty of snow and ice while immersing yourself in this epic story of adventure and love. It was an enjoyable read, but I felt stretched out of my comfort zone.3FOXGIVEN


Thin Air by Michelle Paver



Born in Malawi to a Belgian mother and a father who ran the tiny ‘Nyasaland Times’, Michelle moved to the UK when she was three. She was brought up in Wimbledon and, following a Biochemistry Degree from Oxford University, she became a partner in a big City law firm. She gave up the City to follow her long-held dream of becoming a writer.

Successfully published as an adult author, the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness (“Wolf Brother”) were her first books for younger readers, followed by her brilliant 5-part series set in the bronze age, Gods and Warriors.

On the adult side, her first ghost story, DARK MATTER, was a UK bestseller and won massive praise from reviewers and readers.

After gaining a degree in Biochemistry from Oxford University, she became a partner in a City law firm, but eventually gave that up to write full-time.

The hugely successful Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series arose from Michelle’s lifelong passion for animals, anthropology and the distant past – as as well as an encounter with a large bear in a remote valley in southern California. To research the books, Michelle has traveled to Finland, Greenland, Sweden, Norway, Arctic Canada and the Carpathian Mountains. She has slept on reindeer skins, swum with wild orca (killer whales), and got nose-to-nose with polar bears – and, of course, wolves.


In 1935, young medic Stephen Pearce travels to India to join an expedition with his brother, Kits. The elite team of five will climb Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain and one of mountaineering’s biggest killers. No one has scaled it before, and they are, quite literally, following in the footsteps of one of the most famous mountain disasters of all time – the 1907 Lyell Expedition.

Five men lost their lives back then, overcome by the atrocious weather, misfortune and ‘mountain sickness’ at such high altitudes. Lyell became a classic British hero when he published his memoir, Bloody, But Unbowed, which regaled his heroism in the face of extreme odds. It is this book that will guide this new group to get to the very top.

As the team prepare for the epic climb, Pearce’s unease about the expedition deepens. The only other survivor of the 1907 expedition, Charles Tennant, warns him off. He hints of dark things ahead and tells Pearce that, while five men lost their lives on the mountain, only four were laid to rest.

But Pearce is determined to go ahead and complete something that he has dreamed of his entire life. As they get higher and higher, and the oxygen levels drop, he starts to see dark things out of the corners of his eyes. As macabre mementoes of the earlier climbers turn up on the trail, Stephen starts to suspect that Charles Lyell’s account of the tragedy was perhaps not the full story…


I admit I read this superb ghost story in one sitting – it’s short enough to do so comfortably. The tension ratchets up notch by notch until it’s almost unbearable by the novel’s climax.
This story has everything. It’s 1935 and a mismatched band of mountain climbers are planning to climb the third highest peak in the Himalaya, Kangchenjunga via the treacherous route that has previously claimed many lives. No-one has yet reached the summit of this mountain, called ‘Big Stone’ by the superstitious Sherpas. Our narrator is Stephen, a doctor and alpinist who is a late replacement, joining his bold brother Kits and the rest of the team including Cedric the dog. It’s clear from the start that there will be sibling rivalry between them, particularly on Kits’ part. Add in the mountain’s legends and climb history and we’re set for a tense adventure even before they make base camp and experience the effects of oxygen deprivation. Could everything that happens afterwards be the effects of altitude sickness and the thin air? Or are there really ghosts?
From the jungle trek from Darjeeling to Camp Four at 22000 feet, Paver shows great story-telling skill as we travel with our narrator Stephen as the tension never lets up for one minute. Masterful and breath-taking!

Thin Air is so full of atmosphere, so absorbing, that it develops its own character very quickly.I do love a good ghost story. And this? This was a VERY good one. Horror can be a pretty tricky genre to balance, especially when involving the paranormal. As a reader, I can’t stand too much of a build-up with very little climax, but I also don’t want supernatural shenanigans flung in my face left, right and centre. Atmosphere and happenings need to be well-timed and intertwined successfully in order to really give me the creeps, and Paver really pulled it off.

I am really sorry I will never be able to read it for the first time again. It was a precious experience. I definitely recommend it to everyone who gets their hands on it! This is not gore-fest horror – it’s all done with things half-glimpsed and subject to interpretation. As we learn more about the history of the previous expedition, the story turns dark and cold indeed, and Paver feeds us the information bit by bit, creating a rising feeling of dread that tingles the spine nicely. By this stage the expedition has reached about 22,000 feet and each of the men is feeling the effects of altitude, so that even the narrator is not sure if what he is experiencing might be a result of hallucination. Paver is excellent at using the extreme weather and physical danger to add to the psychological terror and paranoia that has taken hold of Stephen’s mind.4FOXGIVEN


Revenger by Alastair Reynolds



Alastair Reynolds, former scientist and now full-time writer. Most of what he writes is science fiction, with a strong concern for scientific verisimilitude (although he is prepared to break the rules for the sake of a good story). He has lived in England, Scotland and the Netherlands where he worked as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency until 2004, but now makes his home back in his native Wales.


A superb science fiction adventure set in the rubble of a ruined universe, this is a deep space heist story of kidnap, betrayal, alien artefacts and revenge.

The galaxy has seen great empires rise and fall. Planets have shattered and been remade. Amongst the ruins of alien civilisations, building our own from the rubble, humanity still thrives.

And there are vast fortunes to be made, if you know where to find them.

Captain Rackamore and his crew do. It’s their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, surrounded by layers of protection–and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technologies inside. But while they ply their risky trade with integrity, not everyone is so scrupulous.

Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore’s crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen in particular.

Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future–a tale of space pirates, buried treasure, and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism and of vengeance…


Boy, what a thrill that one was! I have never been much of a sci-fi enthusiast, that’s my boyfriend more likely, I am more or a fantasy gal, but that did not rob me of the joy of reading this novel.

This is my first Alastair Reynolds but apparently fast-paced adventure is his speciality! It is a hell of ride this one, no doubt about it. Mr Reynolds you are a very skilled writer, master of the pen: I was completely lost in the story from the first page and I was always on the look for more stories to pop form around the corner. A magician!

The setting of Revenger is fascinating, and rather than telling us all about it up front, Reynolds does a good job of revealing small details that can ultimately be assembled into a compelling jigsaw. Over the course of the novel he also teases the reader with some tantalising clues as to where the story of future books might be headed.

Comparisons to Mieville’s Railsea, and the Shipbreaker series by Paolo Bacigalupi are totally inevitable and fair. Like them, Revenger is an adventure story packed into a science fiction world. I loved every page as this really is my genre of choice.

Revenger is an action-packed, swashbucking adventure with dashes, perhaps, of steam or even cyber-punk which at the same time, tells a solid space opera story – literally: everything that happens, happens in space: even the ‘worlds’ are not planets but engineered habitations no more than a few leagues in length or breadth. These worlds, numbering in the millions (there are whole books that catalogue them) surround the Old Sun, forming the ‘Constellation’. If there were planets they have been reworked, mined away, over millions of years, during which time umpteen civilisations have flourished and decayed. It’s a bold and exciting setting, giving a convincing depth of history (there are allusions to wars, alien incursions, the return of generation ships from the deep) and also scope for the sort of ship-borne antics you might otherwise get in Stevenson or Ballantyne – but IN SPACE!5FOXGIVEN



The Fight That Started the Movies: The World Heavyweight Championship, the Birth of Cinema and the First Feature Film by Samuel Hawley



Samuel Hawley has BA and MA degrees in history from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and worked in East Asia as a teacher for two decades before becoming a full-time writer. His nonfiction books include The Imjin War, about Japan’s 16th-century invasion of Korea and attempted conquest of China, first published in 2005 and reissued in 2014 (Chinese translation forthcoming); Speed Duel: The Inside Story of the Land Speed Record in the Sixties, now being developed by Company Pictures into a TV miniseries; and I Just Ran: Percy Williams, World’s Fastest Human, named one of the five “Best Sports Books of 2011” by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Hawley has also written fiction, starting with the novel Bad Elephant Far Stream and continuing with the thriller Homeowner With a Gun, now in development as a feature film. In his latest book, The Fight That Started the Movies. Hawley returns to nonfiction to tell the epic story of how the world’s first feature film came to be made.


On March 17, 1897, in an open-air arena in Carson City, Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons fought for the heavyweight championship of the world. The contest was recorded by film pioneer Enoch Rector from inside an immense, human-powered camera called the “Veriscope,” the forgotten Neanderthal at the dawn of cinema history. Rector’s movie of the contest premiered two months later. Known today as “The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight,” it was the world’s first feature-length film.

The Fight That Started the Movies is the untold story of Corbett’s and Fitzsimmons’ journey to that ring in Nevada and how the landmark film of their battle came to be made. It reveals how boxing played a key role in the birth of the movies, spurring the development of motion picture technology and pushing the concept of “film” from a twenty-second peephole show to a full-length attraction, “a complete evening’s entertainment,” projected on a screen.

The cast of characters in the tale is rich and varied. There are inventors Eadweard Muybridge, Thomas Edison, William Dickson and Eugene Lauste, figuring out how to photographically capture and reproduce motion. There are the playboy brothers Otway and Gray Latham, who first saw the commercial potential of fight films, and their friend and partner Enoch Rector, who pushed that potential to fruition. There are fighters Jim Corbett with his “scientific” methods of boxing; Bob Fitzsimmons with his thin legs and turnip-on-a-chain punch; hard-drinking John L. Sullivan and the original Jack Dempsey and the gifted but ultimately doomed Young Griffo. There are loud-mouthed fight managers and big-talking promoters, and Wild West legends like Bat Masterson and Judge Roy Bean when the story heads to the Rio Grande river. And finally, there is the audience, our collective ancestors, discovering that movies were more than just a curiosity to gape at, but a new and enduring form of entertainment to rival the theatre.


As much as I am known for my literary fanaticism among very few of my friends I am also favoured for my movie knowledge extraordinaire. Just kidding, I know bits and pieces of the movie history, but not even close to the understanding I wish I had. Now, having read this wonderful, full of facts book, I can safely say it is an ideal match for students of Movie History, as well as for movie lovers from the common public.

This is what I’d love to call the ideal read – well written, easy to read, interesting and informative. It doesn’t go hard on you with numerous facts, but rather makes you hunger for more with every page. It is an absolutely captivating read!

Even if you are not a history geek, or even a cinema lover you’ll definitely be grabbed by this wonderful, well-researched, and splendidly written read. It throws light on little known( at least to me) historical tidbits and boxers and early movie people. Absolutely, wonderful!5FOXGIVEN


The BBC: Myth of a Public Service by Tom Mills



Tom Mills has a PhD in sociology from the University of Bath where he works as a researcher. His thesis examines how the end of social democracy and the rise of neoliberalism impacted on the BBC. His forthcoming book on the BBC, which draws on his doctoral research, will be published by Verso in 2016.


The BBC: The mouthpiece of the Establishment?

The BBC is one of the most important institutions in Britain; it is also one of the most misunderstood. Despite its claim to be independent and impartial, and the constant accusations of a liberal bias, the BBC has always sided with the elite. As Tom Mills demonstrates, we are only getting the news that the Establishment wants aired in public.

Throughout its existence, the BBC has been in thrall to those in power. This was true in 1926 when it stood against the workers during the General Strike, and since then the Corporation has continued to mute the voices of those who oppose the status quo: miners in 1984; anti-war protesters in 2003; those who offer alternatives to austerity economics since 2008. From the outset much of its activity has been scrutinised by the secret services at the invitation of those in charge. Since the 1990s the BBC has been integrated into the market, while its independence from government and big business has been steadily eroded. The BBC is an important and timely examination of a crucial public institution that is constantly under threat.


I have been waiting a lot for a book like this to come around to the public. Finally, truth put to paper and my heart can calm itself down. The voice of media has always been a strong one, and when it comes to a giant like BBC it is very important for the general public to know, that what it stands for is not always the right thing, or in fact not even the right subject to be portrayed.

I am absolutely in love with this book that  deftly demolishes most of the popular and comforting myths surrounding the BBC. And proves me right in my choice to stay away from a journalism career. Especially, here in Britain. I am sure this read will make many people angry, but I am eternally grateful for having read it. Within the pages of The BBC: Myth of a Public Service you’ll find how Mills highlights a number of factors, including the elite-populated, government-appointed BBC Board of Governors (since 2007, the BBC Trust), the class and educational background of senior management, the fact the government of the day sets the corporation’s budget and decades long vetting of employees conducted by the security services. For the untrained eyed mind-blowing facts, for the more knowledgeable reader a definite nod will occur on almost every sentence.

This a definite must read for all involved in Media Studies or Journalism. I was mostly impressed by the radical reform of the BBC  which according to Mills is much needed: the end of political control over senior appointments and budgets, a more representative workforce and the public commissioning of investigative journalism.

This book is well argued and fact-proofed. No doubt in giving my recommendation to everyone I know.



An Ishmael of Syria by Asaad Almohammad



BORN IN THE 80s, Asaad Almohammad was raised in Ar-Raqqa, Syria. A member of the International Society of Political Psychology and a research fellow, he has spent years coordinating and working on research projects across the Middle East and North Africa. To date he has addressed a number of psychological aspects of civil unrest, post-conflict reconciliation, and deradicalisation. In his spare time Asaad closely follows political affairs, especially humanitarian crises and electoral campaigns. He is especially interested in immigration issues. An Ishmael of Syria is his first novel.


Adam is a tortured soul. Exiled from his homeland, forced to watch the horrors unfold from afar. His family, still living – or surviving – in war-torn Syria struggle daily to feed, clothe, and educate their children.
Adam tries to be a ‘global citizen’ and become a part of his new community in Malaysia, but is constantly faced with intolerance, bigotry, and plain old racism. Opportunities are few and Adam finds himself working long hours for poor pay so that he can help his family.
The increasingly distressing news bulletins, along with Adam’s haunting childhood memories, compel him to examine his own beliefs; in God, in humanity, in himself and his integrity as a reluctant bystander in the worst human catastrophe of the twenty-first century.


I have always associated reading the news with growing up. When I was a kid it always was a big deal for my family, we always fell in deep, profound discussions of the world’s doings and that always resulted in passionate arguments for days. I do believe that especially today it is really important to try to be on top of what is happening, of course with so much going on, that is not an easy task, but it is worthy attempt.

When I read the blurb for Ishmael of Syria I was instantly intrigued. I took me a day to read the book, and one more to reflect on it, because indeed it is a big bite to swallow. The main character of this book, Adam, is a bitter, cynical young man and a native of Syria living in Malaysia. Through his first hand accounts of growing up in Syria and relocating to another country, he shares with the reader his experience of witnessing the public shaming of women and homosexuality and rape, the ignorance and prejudices against him because of his dark skin and his Arabic background, and the struggle and helplessness of watching the destruction of his homeland from afar.

As you can see it is an extremely heavy read, that digs deep into issue that are troubling. It is daring, powerful, provoking and heartbreaking at the same time.This is a grim, uncompromising novel, beautifully but brutally crafted.

If you are looking for a stereotypical western read, you’ll definitely have problems with this one, because it is nothing like journal. The narrative jumps back and forth between past and present, first and third person, Syria and Malaysia. The prose style varies between polished and rough around the edges, and Adam himself swings back and forth between sensible and almost incoherent with rage and sorrow at what his country is undergoing and the international response to it. The overall effect is disjointed and occasionally disconcerting, but the text crackles with energy and emotion.

A definite must read!5FOXGIVEN


A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson



Kate Atkinson was born in York and now lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and she has been a critically acclaimed international bestselling author ever since.

She is the author of a collection of short stories, Not the End of the World, and of the critically acclaimed novels Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Case Histories, and One Good Turn.

Case Histories introduced her readers to Jackson Brodie, former police inspector turned private investigator, and won the Saltire Book of the Year Award and the Prix Westminster.

When Will There Be Good News? was voted Richard & Judy Book Best Read of the Year. After Case Histories and One Good Turn, it was her third novel to feature the former private detective Jackson Brodie, who makes a welcome return in Started Early, Took My Dog.


A God in Ruins is about identity, dutiful love, and above all, self sacrifice. This book, a companion to Life After Life, follows mostly Edward Beresford “Teddy” Todd before and after his Second World War experiences.

In Life After Life Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.


I enjoyed this book profoundly. It’s layered, nuanced, and complex. There’s plenty to explore here — it’s meaty with references to poetry that I have to admit made my hairs stand on edge. Duty, honour, and love are compelling themes and it got me thinking about what sort of life is a good life — what it is that etches your life with meaning? Is forsaking your own happiness and well being for country, spouse, children, and grandchildren the key to a life well lived? For Teddy, it seems so — if only for the reason that a whole life can be erased in the instant.

Atkinson holds the magical power to shape time to fit her story and this one moves seamlessly from Teddy’s last treacherous flights (fewer than half of RAF pilots actually survived World War II) to the 20th and 21st century, where Teddy is a husband, father, and grandfather. We get to meet his daughter Viola, who blames him for her mother’s premature departure and makes a mess out of her own life…and subsequently, the lives of her two children.

The key to this story lies in his title, which comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we awake from dreams.” Wartime is, the author argues, man’s greatest fall from grace and so she walks a fine tightrope: revealing the amazing heroism and self-sacrifice of the men such as Teddy and his crew yet showcasing how (in her own words) “whether our war on savagery did not, in the end, become itself savage as we attacked the very people – the old, the young, women – that civilisation is supposed to defend.” When Ursula asks Teddy, “and how do you define ‘innocence” anyway?”, attention must be paid.

Thou, I must admit I would’ve liked the book to have ended ten pages sooner. As I read the last sentence of “my” ending, my mind immediately went to the ending of D.M. Thomas’s The White Hotel — same theme but Thomas’ rendering had much more of an impact on me. Following Atkinson’s ending (and I understand why she chose it) is an “Author’s Note”. I don’t usually mind these notes, but this detailed one both explained too much and seemed superfluous. I wonder if criticism to Life After Life4FOXGIVEN prompted it.

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Who Guides the Publishing Industry?

Kristen Twardowski


Though diversity in both authors and books has increased in recent years, the publishing industry itself remains fairly homogenous. But what does a typical publishing professional look like? Who are the people who make decisions about editing, publishing, and marketing books?

Last year Lee & Low Books created the 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS) to answer those questions. Over 3400 publishing employees from over 40 North American companies including Bloomsbury Publishing, Macmillan, and Penguin Random House completed the survey. According their survey, the typical publishing employee is a lot like a fictional person who I’ll call Mary.

So who is Mary?


Mary is a white cis-gendered woman. She is straight and non-disabled. Let’s say that Mary began her career in the marketing department of a major publisher. It was the most racially diverse department at the publishing house, and 1 in 4 staff members in it considered themselves to be a race…

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All that We Touch (First Kiss Mystery #3) by Ray Else



American, Texan, Parisian.
Ray Else lived in Paris for 5 years and while there joined a writers group and dared to write with all his heart. A review published by the Sorbonne included his story “Surviving on Mexican Shade”, and the BBC World Service broadcast that same story worldwide. Then he got busy making a living as a programmer for companies like IBM and Rocket Software.

Recently Ray returned to writing with some success. His short story, “First Kiss”, was published by Galley Beggar Press in the UK. The characters in that story inspired his new crime/love triangle/mystery series called First Kiss that includes “Bathing with the Dead”, set in India, “Her Heart in Ruins”, set in Peru, and “All that we touch” which is set in Europe.

Ray has a B.S. in Computer Science and an M.A. in Technical Instruction / Film History. He is married with 4 grown kids and 11 grandkids.

Ray travels widely, to get inspiration for his books – you can check out his travel blog at


For fans of Neil Gaiman and Tom Robbins comes this female wolf in sheep’s skin tale of a woman born to be sacrificed, or born to kill us all.

Betrayed by her husband on a trip to Paris, crowned with sorrow, Fernanda is stolen away by Turkish thugs on a train across Europe. A taciturn FBI agent, along with his new acquaintance C.I. Phoebe Mullins of the London police, who happened to be in town investigating stolen Holy Thorns from the Crown of Thorns, get pulled into the pursuit.

Thrown into a prison for the criminally insane, Fernanda is put on trial before the Patrons of the Sacred Trust for being a dangerous heretic, a kind of human weapon of mass destruction. Unjustly accused, she must make a decision that could impact not only her baby but all mankind.


Honesty comes first: Do not attempt at reading the book unless you have read books one and two… It is full of references to the two previous titles and it might get you confused. It took a while to get on track with all allusions, but after a while I was completely involved in the story.

It is told through dialogues, which makes it perfect play lovers, Thus, there is lots of open page space and the 200 plus pages fly by quickly. The quirky characters are gradually developed via their continued musings and sometimes inane repartee. Overall the structure and inherent seductive strangeness is somewhere between Robbin’s “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues ..” and Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49”. It is a highly addictive read.

It is indeed a very enjoyable read, with unique voice and engaging prose… so much that it almost took me of guard. My expectations weren’t very high to begin with, but I was astonished at the fluency of the narrative. I was expecting another cheesy novel, but it showed to be way deeper than that. Religion, morality – all themes that are never to easy to engage in the novel popped in-between the lines, to engage me.

So many questions, and so many small twist and turns in this book. It’s hard to review it without giving away too much, or too little. I do wish I had read the prior books first, I was a bit behind on a few things that seem to have been covered in them.

It definitely echoes Dan Brown, as it is a very alluring read, it fell a bit flat in the ending, but maybe the reason is there is book four in the writing?! I hope so. It is not a read for everyone, but I believe it will find its public. Different, daring and enjoyable.