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Fiction Book Reviews

The Observations by Jane Harris

The Observations by Jane HarrisThere is no getting away from the fact that there is a whole stack of recent fiction set in the Victorian era and, because of this, Jane Harris’ 2006 novel The Observations, like others in this arena, has its work cut out to be a little different and capture the reader’s imagination.

I got hold of a Kindle copy after receiving a number of recommendations, so my expectations were already set high for the book. Also, since there are a number of the aforementioned stack of books that I have not yet got around to reading, I was looking forward to getting stuck into its nicely weighty 548 pages without having to worry too much about that “oh god, not another” feeling. So, did it live up to all those recommendations?

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Hemispheres by Stephen Baker

Hemispheres by Stephen BakerDo you ever get that glorious feeling of connecting with a book — like it was personally written just for you? Stephen Baker’s excellent first novel Hemispheres hit me just like that. Even from the moment I first saw the cover, as a keen bird watcher myself, I just had a feeling it was going to be right up my street.

But whilst there is a strong birding theme which runs throughout the book, and without doubt it will delight the bird watching fraternity, there is so much more to it than that. It really is a cauldron of human relationships and experience, which the author has cleverly woven into a highly exciting and beautifully intricate storyline.

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The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts by Gary William Murning

The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts by Gary MurningI actually read an earlier draft of Gary William Murning’s latest novel The Realm of the Hungry Ghosts last year (earning myself a kind mention in the acknowledgements into the bargain, cheers Gary!) and have been looking forward to getting my hands on the final published version ever since.

This marks another departure from the tone and subject matter of his previous novels, and perhaps straddles the boundary between Literary Fiction and Horror (but more on that matter below). It is certainly one more piece of evidence which demonstrates this writer’s breadth and adaptability.

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Florence and Giles by John Harding

Florence and Giles by John Harding I actually read John Harding’s novel Florence and Giles late last year, and it is a book that I have really been looking forward to reviewing. In some ways it is tricky to review this type of book, as it would be so easy to spoil the suspense by giving too much away. The enjoyment in writing this one though, comes from the way in which it has revived my memories of its lead character, Florence. She really is a rather wonderful creation, and I actually found myself smiling broadly as I typed this.

Strong and creative characterisation is at the heart of the majority of the books I most enjoy reading, so John Harding was already half way there in having me hooked, but a truly good novel obviously needs so much more than this — did Florence & Giles deliver?

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