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The Girls by Emma Cline

the girls

Out in stores today, The Girls is one of the summer’s most anticipated releases. Emma Cline received a $2 million advance for her debut novel and it is one of those books that everyone is talking about. I was lucky enough to get a galley of the book and also met the author briefly at Book Expo this year. Here is my review…  Read more

In Love and War by Alex Preston

in love and war

In Love and War by Alex Preston
First Published in: 2014. Released in paperback tomorrow
Reviewed by: Jen
Rating: 3.75/5 stars
Find it/buy it here: In Love and War

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Faber & Faber in exchange for my honest review.

In Love and War is Alex Preston’s third novel. Set in Florence, Italy in the 1930s and 40s, it is an epic tale of love and war. Esmond is a young Englishman who has been sent to Florence, in part to escape scandal he brought on his family in England, but primarily to strengthen relationships between the British Union of Fascists and Mussolini’s government. His primary responsibility is to set up a radio station that will promote fascist ideals and highlight important cultural works from Italy. When Esmond arrives in Florence he meets an interesting cast of characters (many of them real historical people like Norman Douglas) who ultimately challenge his original viewpoints and political stance. Read more

Do we still need a Women’s Prize?


A few days ago we announced the winner of the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for fiction. The Bailey’s Women’s Prize was started in 1992 when a group of people within the literary community came together to discuss, and try to remedy, the incredible underrepresentation of women nominated for major literary awards. Since then, there continues to be much dialogue on the underrepresentation of women in the publishing world, but some women authors have also spoken out about the concept of a Women’s Prize.

In 1990 A.S. Byatt denounced the prize as “sexist” and “unneeded.” She claimed that “You couldn’t found a prize for male writers. The Orange prize assumes there is a feminine subject matter – which I don’t believe in. It’s honourable to believe that – there are fine critics and writers who do – but I don’t.” But what Byatt failed to account for was fact that for many years, all the major literary awards were essentially prizes for men since women were consistently being underrepresented in all these awards.

Thankfully, we seem to be making some progress in this area with women starting to be seen more frequently in major literary longlists. The question is do we still need a women’s prize today? We took a look at the last 5 years of Man Booker Awards and here is what we found. Read more

A Perfectly Good Man by Patrick Gale

perfectly good

A Perfectly Good Man by Patrick Gale
First published: 2012 (most recent edition released 2016)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by: Jen
Find it/buy it here: A Perfectly Good Man

Set  in the heart of Cornwall, A Perfectly Good Man is a novel about faith, morality, and what it means to live a good life. The protagonist, Barnaby Johnson is a parish priest who is summoned to the home of a paralyzed young man named Lenny. When he arrives, he learns that he wasn’t called to provide comfort but rather to witness and provide last rites for Lenny who ingested poison while the priest was in his home. Barnaby witnesses the young man die, helpless to do anything other than pray for him. Lenny’s death has impacts for the whole community and Gale draws in various characters to highlight these far-reaching effects.

The novel is told in a nonlinear style with chapters centering around various stages of Barnaby’s life and the final chapter in the book takes place when Barnaby was a child. Barnaby is not a perfect man. He has moments of weakness, crisis, and doubt. Yet despite these moments, he is a good man (hence the title).  The nonlinear style is clever in building up suspense and providing a few moments of shock when the reader realizes how some of the pieces of his life come together. The emotional impact of various events only gain true meaning when certain facts are revealed in later chapters.

I had never read anything by Patrick Gale prior to this book. The publishing house contacted requesting a review stating that they thought I might like it because I had indicated preference for Colm Toibin’s work. There were definitely some similarities in style between the two authors and there is no question that Gale is a supremely talented writer. I enjoyed many things about the book including the writing style, the non-linear style, and the rich character development. The book is heavy on the religious themes — the main character is a priest after all. It’s certainly not heavy-handed or preachy and in fact the major conflict in the novel is a crisis of faith. However, the author has something to say about the power of prayer. I am not a religious person and I don’t particularly care for books with heavy Christian themes. In fact, I explicitly state (on our review page) that I won’t take requests for Christian fiction. I wouldn’t classify this as Christian fiction but it is an exploration of faith: faith tested and faith restored. So it’s a testament that I actually enjoyed it as much as I did.

This book will appeal to those who like beautifully constructed novels that tackle questions of faith. It is a heartfelt novel that is emotionally engaging and interesting. It will also appeal to those who enjoy reading books about ordinary people living in small towns.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Does it appeal to you? Why or why not? Have you read others by Patrick Gale?

2016 Baileys Women’s Prize Winner…

the glorious heresies

The winner of the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for fiction goes to The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney! Many congratulations to Lisa McInerney! Neither Book Worm nor I predicted the winner (we did much better predicting the Man Booker last year). I haven’t read this book but I look forward to doing so in the near future.

The Glorious Heresies is Lisa McInerney’s debut novel. She is from Galway, Ireland and was the author of the award-winning (now defunct) blog Arse End of Ireland. You can read more about her and her work on her website. The Irish Times called her ‘arguably the most talented writer at work in Ireland today’.

You can read Book Worm’s review of the winning book here: The Glorious Heresies.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Did it deserve to take home the prize? Will you be reading it?

YA Review: Flawed Ceceila Ahern


Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
Published in: 2016
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★★
Find it here: Flawed

This ARC was provided by Harper Collins UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found flawed.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything. Read more

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi


I just so happened to snag a signed copy of this book at book expo this year. This book is getting hyped all over the literary community. It comes out today in bookstores all across the U.S. Is it worth the hype? Read more

Bailey’s Prize 2016: Our Predictions

In two days the winner of the 2016 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction will be announced. The prize was founded in 1996 after a group of journalists, reviewers, publishers, librarians, and agents came together to discuss the appalling lack of women authors making it on to the major literary prize lists. Out of this effort, the Women’s Prize was born to bring recognition to the talented women authors who were being overlooked by traditional prizes.

The long list was announced in March and we wrote a post about it that you can read here. In April, the shortlist was announced. The 6 books on the shortlist are: Ruby, A Little Life, The Green Road, The Improbability of Love, The Portable Verblen, and The Glorious Heresies. Book Worm read all 6 nominees and I read half of them. Here are our predictions for the winner.
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Bailey’s 2016 Shortlist Review: The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie


For those of you new to our blog, we (or I should say Book Worm) have been making our way through the Bailey’s Shortlist so we can make our predictions and recommend our favorites to you. Our final contender on the 2016 shortlist is a book that we both read: The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie. In a few days we’ll post our predictions for which book we think will win the Bailey’s Prize for Fiction (to be announced on June 8) along with a ranked list of our favorites. Here’s what we both thought of The Portable Veblen. Read more

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg


Are you looking for a creepy and engaging read with interesting reflections on memory and childhood? You may like this book that comes out today.  Read more