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The Sisters Brothers
(Paperback)
Patrick deWitt
If Cormac McCarthy suddenly developed a sense of humour, or the Coen Brothers decided to adapt Cervantes’ Don Quixote, The Sisters Brothers is what you might get. Eli Sisters is an unhappy man. He’s unhappy with his new horse, Tub. He’s unhappy about his lack of a wife. But mostly, he’s unhappy with his line of work. With his brother Charlie, he is one half of the notorious Sisters Brothers. At the height of the great Californian Gold Rush, the brothers have been tasked with the assassination of a particular prospector, the wonderfully named Hermann Kermit Warm. Along the way the bickering brothers meet a carousel of strange characters and odd situations, all of which lead Eli to question his sorry lot in life. - Christopher
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The Last Hundred Days
(Paperback)
Patrick McGuinness
This is a fictionalised account of the final days of communism in Romania. McGuiness tells the story of an English Professor who has found himself teaching at a Bucharest university in late 1989. He arrives into a totalitarian communist state led by the brainless Nicolae Ceaucescu and his sinister ‘Securitate’. In 100 days time the Ceaucescus will be dead and Romanians will be caught up in a bloody revolution. This novel tells the story of the months leading up to that day. Having been to Romania several times I found so much I could identify with in this novel about the people and their wit, warmth and cynicism! - Andrew
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The Complaints
(Paperback)
Ian Rankin
You may be disappointed if you thought Malcolm Fox, Rankin’s latest protagonist, is a duplicate of Inspector Rebus. Sure he’s middle-aged and grumpy, but he’s teetotal and enjoys his work: he is ‘The Complaints’, policing the police with Internal Affairs. But like Rebus, ‘Foxy’ works a case to the end, which is just as well, since two have simultaneously landed in his lap. A colleague’s credit card details have been logged on a [ahem] questionable website and his sister’s good-for-nothing boyfriend has been found murdered. It wouldn’t be Rankin if the two weren’t linked now would it? - James
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Neverwhere
(Paperback)
Neil Gaiman
You’d think helping a clearly distressed, injured girl out of a cold night, there’d be better thanks than suddenly becoming invisible to your colleagues and losing your flat to some more people who can’t seem to see you. Unfortunately for Richard, this girl is Door, from London Below, and on the run from some truly fantastical characters. So in order to get his life back, he will have to work on some serious suspension of disbelief. Unlike the reader, because Neil Gaiman’s softly quirky and yet darkly edgy voice makes all of it sound like everyday occurrences to us. Of course there’s a Floating Market in Harrods! You’ll never take the tube quite the same way again. - Julia
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Bad Monkeys
(Paperback)
Matt Ruff
The set-up is basic: Jane is an operative for the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons, aka Bad Monkeys. Or is she? Surreality ensues. They’re not half lying about what it says on the back: The Silence of the Lambs meets The Matrix just about hits the nail on the head! A rollercoaster read of the best kind; head-turningly pacy, light of touch, and leaving you wanting just that little bit more without giving you a frustrating ending. If you get a chance to pick up any of Ruff’s other books, do! (Fool on the Hill is actually my favourite, but sadly out of print.) - Julia
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Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in...
(Hardback)
Lewis Carroll; Yayoi Kusama
‘’A polka dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colourful, senseless and unknowing, polka dots are a way to infinity.’’ – Yayoi Kusama. Whimsical dots of all sizes invade the pages of this new edition of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, as illustrated by Yayoi Kusama who refers to herself as the modern-day Alice. Cloth-bound, this version is stunning – I especially like pages 44-51 when the text expands at the alarming rate that Alice becomes taller after consuming the 'Drink Me' potion! - Aida
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The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
(Hardback)
Ayana Mathis
I have a very short attention span for anything that isn't crime fiction but this may have changed my reading habits. Hattie is the matriarch of a large family. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one character, beginning with Hattie and then following the lives of her childrenand a grandchild from the 1920s to the present day. It is not a novel in the traditional sense, more like a collection of short stories where you catch a small glimpse of each life. It is a beautiful, melancholy and very self assured debut. My only criticism would be that it leaves you wishing you knew more about each character as the time spent with each is very short and they are all equally intriguing. - Rebecca
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Gilead
(Paperback)
Marilynne Robinson
A deceptively simple book on the surface, this fictional memoir by the Reverend John Ames. I tend to be a lot more interested in characters than plot, so the fact that nothing much happens doesn't bother me in the slightest, because it's a beautiful, reflective, exploratory piece that gives the reader much food for thought and leaves them with a sense that the world is a pretty grand place, all things considered. It's such a laden word and generally best avoided, but I would actually describe this book as life-affirming. Don't be put off because it may seem religious; I'm not and am rather wary of the possibility - Robinson's philosophical points are universal. - Julia
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Life: An Exploded Diagram
(Paperback)
Mal Peet
This is a brilliant novel. Told from the perspective of Clem remembering a life changing summer as an adult in New York. The majority of the action is set in rural Norfolk during the Cold War where he meets the love of his life, Frankie, the rich daughter of his father’s employer. This could have descended into rosy nostalgia and cliché but Peet is excellent at creating believable characters and strange twists to the tale. He captures the brilliance, boredom and uncertainty of youth with an ending that should make you cry or want to punch someone. - Rebecca
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Bad Faith: A History of Family and...
(Paperback)
Carmen Callil
The sheer volume of work on WWII often makes it difficult to choose what to read. Bad Faith is a sobering account of life in France under German and Vichy rule. Focusing on the life of Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, it gives great insight into how petty prejudices, weaknesses and seemingly insignificant acts of normal human beings, can have devastating consequences. Pellepoix is truly a despicable individual whose actions led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Jews. He is largely forgotten and died in relative peace, unpunished for his crimes, in 1980. Read this. Some people don’t deserve to escape quietly and fall through the cracks of history. If you find this interesting you might want to try Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl by Stephen Bach. She was responsible for Hitler’s propaganda films and also died relatively recently, denying any allegations of collaboration, despite using concentration camp prisoners as extras in her films. She went on to photograph the Nuba in Africa. - Rebecca
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Moon Lake
(Paperback)
Eudora Welty
“All around swam the fireflies. Clouds of them, trees of them, islands of them floating, a lower order of brightness(…)The stars barely showed their place in the pale sky – small and far from this bright world.” This is so short; it almost seems like reading a dream. I’ve gotten into the bad habit of skim reading but this made me slow down. Long, hot, hazy Southern days are perfectly mirrored in the rhythms and cadences of the language. It is a fantastic account of the odd, surreal limbo between childhood and adulthood. - Rebecca
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The Power of the Dog
(Paperback)
Don Winslow
If you find yourself wishing the Wire had never ended and fruitlessly surfing the channels for a satisfactory replacement, look no further. There are a few great books that fill the void but none better, in my opinion, than The Power of the Dog. Taking the drug war to South America, it follows the lives and exploits of CIA agents, drug barons and everyone else caught up in between. Winslow is not especially well known over here but is steadily building a cult following. Read him first before everyone jumps on the bandwagon. - Rebecca
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The Mayor of Casterbridge
(Paperback)
Thomas Hardy
Ever thought about selling your wife? At a country fair in 19th century Wessex, Michael Henchard – brimming with alcohol – trades his wife and baby daughter for five guineas to a sailor. Nineteen years later and now Mayor of Casterbridge, the now teetotal Henchard is haunted by the wrong he cannot right. That is, until, his now-impoverished wife and daughter arrive in town. Although difficult to empathise with, Henchard’s strength in character makes for compelling reading, whilst the richly detailed prose consistently capture the reader’s affections. Classic Hardy. - James
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Stormbreaker
(Paperback)
Anthony Horowitz
Orphaned under what turn out to be mysterious circumstances and subsequently having grown up with an uncle who is actually something quite different than the bank supervisor he said he was, 14 year old Alex Rider finds himself drafted into MI6 service—unofficially, naturally. Sounds like the ultimate adventure, right? But soon the missions become more dangerous and the stakes more personal than Alex may be ready for…. I love these books because they are no-frills, straight-up adventure daydreams just like I had when I was bored in class and staring out the window. The action is relentless, and while the stories do all follow a comfortably familiar formula, Alex is such a sympathetic character that you can’t help but feel for him time and again, especially when he starts riling against The Powers That Be (which is saying something coming from someone who doesn’t generally gel with younger teenagers). Plus, there’s always a bad pun near the end about the baddie’s demise and you really can’t argue with that. – Julia
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The Secret Ministry of Frost
(Paperback)
Nick Lake
A dark adventure, ranging from Ireland to the Artic, with an unusual heroine in Light – half Inuit, half Irish and all albino, The Secret Ministry of Frost is a fantastic debut novel from Nick Lake. Similar to His Dark Materials in the search for a lost father and in the desolate setting, Light’s epic journey into the artic wasteland to confront a force older than mankind, pulls you in right from the very start. The Inuit folklore she thought to be fairy tales merges with reality when Light is drawn into an age-old intrigue between Setna, the ruler of the sea and Frost, king of the cold. The action is relentless and at times brutal, not surprising given that her friends include the Tupilak, half shark, half polar bear, and a Raven God. Frightening (in a good way) and intelligent - all kids’ books should be as good as this. - Rebecca
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Redwall
(Paperback)
Brian Jacques
A brief synopsis: Cluny the Scourge ¬– black hearted and one-eyed to boot – has bandied his horde of vermin together to plunge Mossflower Wood under his tyrannical reign. Only Redwall Abbey stands in his way, and its incumbents – slow to anger, yet fearsome when roused – are ready to fight for their freedom against insurmountable odds. Only the legendary Sword of Martin can swing the balance, and only tenacious young Matthias can complete the perilous quest unscathed. Did I mention Matthias is a field mouse?
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Latest Blog
Books to inspire young women
28/02/2015

Each of our shops is currently featuring a display of books by and about great women, to mark International Women's day on 8th March. Emily, from our Waterloo branch, explores the wealth of recent fiction for younger readers that offers inspirational role models for the next generation of young women.

GUEST BLOG: Little Black Classics
22/02/2015

Simon Winder, Publishing Director at Penguin Press, reveals how he and his team chose the 80 titles that make up the 80-pence Little Black Classics marking the publisher's 80th birthday.

GUEST BLOG: Before and after
19/02/2015

Stuart Prebble, whose production company came up with the idea for TV hit Grumpy Old Men after he read a news article, looks at how lives can be changed irrevocably in seconds, as they are in his new novel, The Insect Farm.

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