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Stephanie Jones

Stephanie Jones

Every week Stephanie reviews the Book of the Week.

As the Coast book reviewer, Stephanie Jones shares her thoughts each week on the latest releases.

Stephanie has a BA (Hons) in history and English literature, and a background in journalism, magazine publishing, public relations and corporate and consumer communications.

Stephanie is a contributor to the New Zealand Book Council’s ‘Talking Books’ podcast series (listen here), and a member of the 2016 Ngaio Marsh Award judging panel. She can be found on Twitter @ParsingThePage.

Latest from Stephanie Jones

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - Lost and Found

    In Lost and Found, neurologist Jules Montague establishes her credentials early: she visited tuberculosis clinics in Guyana as a medical student, teaches each summer in Mozambique, and works in a north London hospital. She is qualified to diagnose any ailment that...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - Differently Normal

    Maddy works at a photo developer’s and dreams of becoming a photographer. Albert loves surfing and indulges his affinity for horses with a job at a Riding for the Disabled stable. In Tammy Robinson’s heartstring-plucking novel Differently Normal, Maddy and Albert,...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - Two Sisters

    In October 2013, two teenage sisters executed a long-simmering secret plot and fled the safety of urban Scandinavia for life inside a quasi-genocidal fundamentalist dictatorship. It’s horror novel material, but Two Sisters: Into the Syrian Jihad is Åsne Seierstad’s...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Stakes

    Following his early work, a well-received crime trilogy set in his Auckland hometown, Ben Sanders drew the notice of American publishers. He made a deal that has latterly produced a new series, with American Blood and Marshall’s Law tracking the escapades of a...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - Nothing Bad Happens Here

    The crime writer Karin Slaughter grew up in a small town in the American South where, she has said, “nothing bad ever happened – it was like Mayberry.” Slaughter has, perhaps not without private amusement, transmuted that serenity into a large catalogue of good...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Immortalists

    “Perhaps nothing would have happened were it not the pit of summer, with a month and a half of boredom behind them and a month and a half ahead.” In the high heat of 1969, a mix of ennui and morbid curiosity leads the four Gold children – Varya, Daniel, Klara and...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Burden of Lies

    Oliver Randall is a banker with a side gig as a procurer of cocaine and sexual services for clients. He eventually goes down for these misdeeds, and six years later, out on parole, he is assassinated in his home. The accused is Tina Leonard, a wealthy property...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - I'll Keep You Safe

    The Outer Hebrides, the island chain off Scotland’s west coast, have long been a lure irresistible to filmmakers and wordsmiths, with one travel writer finding the disjointed thread of land to be “rinsed by a charm as pure as the spread of light off the Atlantic.”...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Woman in the Window

    Dr Anna Fox, the titular figure in A J Finn’s peripatetic thriller The Woman in the Window, lives alone in New York City. She speaks frequently to her husband and daughter, who ceased to live with her after an unspecified event, and constantly observes and photographs...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - A Sovereign Nation

    Some of the fictional intrigue in New Zealand’s halls of power, as described in David Crossman’s A Sovereign Nation, sounds awfully familiar: the deputy leader of the Opposition, Georgina Christiansen, is a charismatic woman in her mid-30s with genuine political...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - An Unremarkable Body

    In An Unremarkable Body, the debut novel by Elisa Lodato, the corpse of a 51-year-old woman is opened and read like a book. The pathologist examines with scrupulous care the bones and flesh, identifying the trace left by an emergency C-section; an earlobe scar...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - Seven Days of Us

    Christmas is a time for family, but probably not in the way Francesca Hornak portrays it in her mostly charming, occasionally madcap novel Seven Days of Us. Thirty-two-year-old doctor Olivia Birch, the elder of two sisters, returns from a medical tour of duty in...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Maid's Room

    The Maid’s Room is a confident and highly readable debut novel about a type of woman largely overlooked in modern literature: the immigrant factotum who is expected by her wealthy employer (term used loosely) to fulfill every common household role, from cleaner...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - Strange Weather

    The novella, as Joe Hill says in the afterword to Strange Weather, his collection of four short novels linked by grace notes of climatic violence, is “all killer, no filler”, with the economy of the short story but the depth of characterisation usually found in...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Wrong Child

    The concept of survivor’s guilt lacks a corollary notion: one that elucidates the conviction among witnesses to a tragedy that the wrong people lived. Barry Gornell’s powerfully discomforting The Wrong Child peers darkly into a small UK village where 21 children...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - Bounty Hunter 4/3

    “War truly is hell. War is just sick. Even worse, war never really ends inside your head.” It is only near the conclusion of Bounty Hunter 4/3, Jason Delgado’s brisk, incendiary memoir of his career as a scout sniper in the United States Marine Corps, that the...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Rooster Bar

    John Grisham, one-time attorney and long-time writer of legal thrillers, has found dozens of ways to manifest the law for dramatic effect: there’s the tyro who uncovers the rotten heart of a law firm in The Firm; the badass who takes on cases no one else will in...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - A Question of Trust

    The sprawling cast of A Question of Trust, Penny Vincenzi’s 17th novel, orbits around Tom Knelston and Diana Southcott, who grew up together in a small Hampshire village where Tom, the middle child of five, earned a grammar school scholarship and Diana enjoyed...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review

    In the specific genre of racy melodrama, Tasmina Perry’s The Pool House is no match for the best of Jilly Cooper, but a scene of a vigorous polo match suggests Perry has a jolly good sense of her audience. She also has a penchant for high-end houses where Something...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - Little Fires Everywhere

    “Every house on Winslow Road held two families, but outside appeared to hold only one.” In the dazzling Little Fires Everywhere, which opens with a burning house and traces the blaze to its ancient inception, Celeste Ng explores the homes and lives of the residents...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye

    The girl with the dragon tattoo meets the woman with the birthmark on her throat in The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, the fifth installment in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series and David Lagercrantz’s second contribution (after 2015’s The Girl in the Spider’s...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - Young Jane Young

    A scene showcasing the perils of online dating also proffers a startlingly clever piece of exposition which, in turn, neatly explains how Aviva Grossman became Jane Young, the protagonist of Gabrielle Zevin’s blistering take on a political sex scandal and its aftermath,...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Break

    Members of the class of 1965 to 1984, known colloquially as Generation X, tend to look back with nostalgic fondness on 1990s TV, when shows such as Blossom and Beverly Hills 90210 bravely took on controversial social issues: teen pregnancy, date rape, abortion,...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - A Killer Harvest

    By the time Joshua is 16 he’s lost two fathers. His biological one was killed before he was born, and his adoptive father, Detective Inspector Mitchell Logan, succumbed to spectacular violence while in the line of duty. On receiving the latter news, Joshua is...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - Friend Request

    A psychological thriller for the social media age, Laura Marshall’s melodrama-tinged Friend Request takes place in London and Norwich in the present day and in the late 1980s, when protagonist Louise Williams is a player in the amateur dramatics society commonly...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - Gather The Daughters

    “I don’t,” said Janice, hiccupping, “think I want to be a woman.” “My goodness, “My goodness, dear, said Mrs Solomon. “As if you had a choice.” The thrill and terror of Jennie Melamed’s apocalyptic horror story Gather the Daughters lies both in what is shown...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - A Talent for Murder

    The facts of the 10-day disappearance of the best-selling novelist of all time are inscrutable and fascinating. They beg for a novel as shocking and bamboozling as any written by Agatha Christie. Unfortunately, A Talent for Murder, the work of British novelist...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Sunshine Sisters

    In Jane Green’s modestly charming The Sunshine Sisters, the landscape never really darkens, despite the troubles at the heart of the story, beginning with the terminal illness of Ronni Sunshine, an aging movie star whose relationships with her three daughters have...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Secrets She Keeps

    Who is the ‘she’ referred to in the title of Michael Robotham’s fierce psychological thriller, The Secrets She Keeps? The list of candidates is even shorter than that of the people willing to become the new FBI director (but I digress). There is Agatha, “unseen,...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Mountain

    The phrase “Nature, red in tooth and claw” springs repeatedly to mind in the reading of The Mountain, Luca D’Andrea’s spine-tingling thriller set in the Dolomites of northeastern Italy. Within that mountain range, as D’Andrea has it, is nestled the village of Siebenhoch,...

  • Stephanie Jones Book Review - The Most Beautiful Woman In Florence

    The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence is subtitled ‘A Story of Botticelli’, and in Alyssa Palombo’s intoxicating novel of 15th-century Italian art and romance, the venerated painter Sandro Botticelli does feature, and the story – or a version of it – of the production...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Saints For All Occasions by Courtney Sullivan

    Flashes of other stories can be glimpsed in Courtney Sullivan’s novel about Irish immigrants to 1950s Boston, Saints for All Occasions – perhaps because the theme of young people giving it all up for less than a promise never loses its urgency, or because the act...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Through the Lonesome Dark by Paddy Richardson

    From a porcelain-smooth introductory passage about the West Coast town of Blackball that could serve as a model of exposition to students of creative writing – this, class, is how you set a stage – to scenes of trench life in World War I, Dunedin writer Paddy Richardson...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Come Sundown by Nora Roberts

    Come Sundown is a new, equine-proximate romantic drama by Nora Roberts, who produces several novels a year (including the J D Robb futuristic crime series) despite apparently being only one person. Romance is her bread and butter, and this edition of the patented...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - House of Names by Colm TÓibÍn

    In Colm Tóibín’s House of Names, there are some names you ought to know: Clytemnestra, the Mycenaean queen mythologized by Aeschylus and Homer; her husband, the king Agamemnon; their daughters, Iphigenia and Electra, and son, Orestes; and Aegisthus, a prisoner...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

    Identity, that maddening puzzle. Since We Fell, Dennis Lehane’s dizzying, dazzling new novel, concerns the mysterious life of Rachel Childs Delacroix, a woman frustrated by the absence of hard data about herself. Rachel’s late mother, Elizabeth, who hovers around...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - How Not To Fall In Love, Actually by Catherine Bennetto

    As the title hints, the invitation posed by How Not to Fall in Love, Actually, the first novel by Christchurch writer Catherine Bennetto, is to laugh along as a young Londoner’s stable-enough urban existence lurches into one pothole and pratfall after another,...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Baltimore Boys by Joël Dicker

    The Baltimore Boys,“at once a prequel and a sequel” according to the author blurb, indisputably offers plenty of bang for a reader’s buck. This artful maze of a novel, Joël Dicker’s second and another, more comprehensive instalment in the life story of writer Marcus...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Chinese Proverb by Tina Clough

    The claustrophobic air of a locked-room mystery pervades the opening sequence of Tina Clough’s third novel, The Chinese Proverb, as a 38-year-old man coaxes a much younger woman out of unconsciousness in a remote Northland cabin. Hunter Grant, a New Zealand Army...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

    “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” goes the famous Tennessee Williams line. And though Grace Holland, the heroine of Anita Shreve’s The Stars are Fire, is a Northeasterner some years younger than the tragic Southern belle Blanche Dubois, she...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Larchfield by Polly Clark

    Wystan Hugh Auden, the British poet known best by his first initials, is restored to his given name and to full, fleshy magnificence by Polly Clark in her debut novel Larchfield. Clark takes as her inspiration Auden’s short spell at the titular prep school in the...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Little Breton Bistro by Nina George

    For a novel which hinges on a failed suicide, Nina George’s The Little Breton Bistro is surprisingly upbeat – but its perky tone will be familiar to readers of her debut, The Little Paris Bookshop, which likewise follows a character enduring an extreme mid-life...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti

    Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane find their contemporary spirit animals in Samuel and Loo Hawley, the father and daughter whose exploits are captured with bloody theatricality in Hannah Tinti’s sophomore novel The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. Or perhaps the...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Brushstrokes of Memory by Karen McMillan

    Inspired by the case of a young British mother who woke from a coma and had forgotten the previous 14 years of her life, Karen McMillan’s Brushstrokes of Memory centres on Rebecca, who wakes in hospital believing she’s 32, happily married, self-employed as a painter...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne

    “I look back at my life and I don’t understand very much of it,” Cyril Avery confesses towards the end of John Boyne’s stupendous The Heart’s Invisible Furies, which unspools Cyril’s life in seven-year increments. We, however, understand everything, such is Boyne’s...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - A Crime in the Family by Sacha Battyany

    Early one April morning, journalist Sacha Batthyany made a most unexpected discovery. A newspaper report dropped on his desk by a colleague told of a party, in the spring of 1945, in a castle in Rechnitz, Austria. Among the guests – German aristocrats and SS officers...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Summary Justice by John Fairfax

    A bonus of working in the fiction subgenre known as the legal thriller is that a good story can be wrought from almost anything, and the lay reader won’t know if you’re defying real legislation or courtroom protocol. I have no idea if the premise of John Fairfax’s...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankle

    Rosie Walsh, ER doctor, mother to four sons and wife to a novelist, dreams of having a little girl, to be named Poppy after the sister Rosie lost to cancer as a child. The baby arrives a boy, Claude, but the story of how Rosie nevertheless gets her wish is Laurie...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Caraval by Stephanie Garber

    A figurative guillotine sits poised above the unblemished neck of Scarlett Dragna, the heroine of Stephanie Garber’s boisterous fantasy novel Caraval. A half-century into the Elantine Dynasty, Scarlett and her sister Donatella live in Trisda, one of the five conquered...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Spook Street by Mick Herron

    John le Carre brought a chilliness to espionage fiction; George Smiley tiptoed around London, his beige timidity disguising devastating spywork. Mick Herron brings the heat, his Jackson Lamb the czar of Slough House and the miscreants therein, who are hanging on...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Shafts of Strife by David Bates

    Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America makes instructive reading today: Charles Lindbergh defeats incumbent President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 general election. Lindbergh had two distinctive traits, a talent for flying and a fondness for National...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney

    What’s not to like about an ultra-high-tech home? Doors lock and unlock at a tap of a smartphone app; the shower starts when you step inside, and runs at your preferred temperature; the lighting glows and dims according to your circadian rhythms. It’s a cocoon,...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

    A soap opera on paper, Jane Fallon’s My Sweet Revenge concerns the marriage of Paula and Robert, who have been together since meeting in drama school 20 years ago. They share a daughter, Georgia, 17, and a comfortable London lifestyle afforded by Robert’s steady...

  • Stephanie Jones - Book Review: The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

    Teen angst meets bloody murder in The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman, Mindy Mejia’s heady novel about a precocious actress whose final performance is as a real-life corpse. Before being found stabbed and disfigured in an abandoned barn in her hometown of Pine Valley,...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb

    F Scott Fitzgerald’s peers might not have thronged immediately to the masterful wordsmithing in The Great Gatsby – the Great American Novel faced mixed reviews and poor sales on its 1925 publication – but for many decades now his influence has been pervasive, his...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

    “On the day that he would first meet Thomas Edison, Paul watched a man burn alive in the sky above Broadway.” Novelist and screenwriter Graham Moore’s opening line in The Last Days of Night recalls the mind-blowing first sequence of Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love –...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Student Body by Simon Wyatt

    Detective Sergeant Nick Knight is a rare bird among detectives in the New Zealand police force. At 32, he has amassed enough experience to be of use in a murder investigation, but he is relatively unjaded even after several years in the adult sex crimes division....

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The March of the Foxgloves by Karyn Hay

    Body positivity was not a concept en vogue in 1890s Britain, but Frances Woodward and her bold best friend Dolly embrace it in Karyn Hay’s enthralling The March of the Foxgloves. The nude photographs keen amateur Frances takes of Dolly (and the unconsenting Benedict...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Can't Help Falling by Kara Isaac

    Aficionados of the light-romance strain of the Mills & Boon catalogue, or of the star-crossed-lovers plotline that is grist to the mills of Cathy Kelly, Erica James and their contemporaries, will find much to like about Can’t Help Falling, Wellington writer Kara...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Goodwood by Holly Throsby

    Goodwood, in Holly Throsby’s staggeringly good debut novel of the same name, “was a peaceful town before the tragedies”, a bucolic world worthy of D H Lawrence in which people lived quietly, if not always happily, and died of natural causes. What the narrator Jean...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

    A quirky love story that embraces the supernatural, On the Other Side is the debut novel of Carrie Hope Fletcher, an English artist of many colours who drew acclaim for her autobiographical, blog-inspired first book, All I Know Now. Read against the backdrop of...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Dunedin by Shena Mackay

    Jack Mackenzie is the priapic sire of Dunedin, Shena Mackay’s 1992 novel (newly reissued by Hachette) about the 1909 arrival of Mackenzie and his wife Louisa in the southern city to tend to a flock in need of ministry. Unprincipled and a bit of a bully, especially...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Muse by Jessie Burton

    The Dutch Golden Age painter Judith Leyster didn’t have it too bad. She was esteemed by her contemporaries during her lifetime, and amassed a body of work that today hangs in the world’s most celebrated art venues, from the Louvre to the Rijksmuseum and London’s...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Crime Writer by Jill Dawson

    Fitzgerald and Amis drank; so did Hemingway, when he wasn’t philandering and hunting African lions. Woolf internalized her agony and walked into the River Ouse in a weighted coat. Pull back the curtain shielding a writer’s life and you risk revealing a cluster...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - End Of Watch by Stephen King

    Suicide is painless, goes the refrain of Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman’s M*A*S*H theme song; it brings on many changes. In End of Watch, the conclusion to Stephen King’s stellar Hodges trilogy, mass killer Brady Hartsfield, whose homicidal career began at the wheel...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Missing Wife by Sheila O’Flanagan

    Vince Naughton may not be as physically violent as Martin Burney, the brutish husband played by Patrick Bergin in the 1991 Julia Roberts vehicle Sleeping with the Enemy, but he’s controlling, possessive, hypercritical and convinced of his own superiority. He tells...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

    A private flight from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City ends 18 minutes after take-off when the plane, carrying eight passengers and three crew members, plunges into the ocean. The only souls to survive the impact are Scott Burroughs, a recovering alcoholic and...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

    A novel with the rhythm and tone of a collection of intertwining short stories, Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be the Place centres on Daniel Sullivan, an American linguistics professor married to Claudette Wells, a half-French actress and film star who, at the height...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Wildlight by Robyn Mundy

    Nature is the star of Wildlight, the evocative new novel by Robyn Mundy, in whose hands the earth and ocean and their respective creatures are celebrated and described with reverent attention. Most of the story takes place on Maatsuyker Island, home to Australia’s...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

    Meet (again) Joe Goldberg, protagonist and antihero of Caroline Kepnes’ blackly comic second novel, Hidden Bodies, a sequel to You, in which Joe made his debut.His family history is opaque, and he gloms on to people he wants to be around; the process of real befriending...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Lost Swimmer by Ann Turner

    On the surface, Ann Turner’s The Lost Swimmer is as lush and inviting as the Mediterranean Sea beside which an Australian archaeology professor and her husband endure one of the least enviable Italian sojourns since Ian McEwan’s The Comfort of Strangers. It all...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

    Opening lines of historical novels don’t come more pregnant with promise than Everyone Brave is Forgiven: “War was declared at 11.15 and Mary North signed up at noon.” From there, Chris Cleave hurtles beyond his previous literary achievements and into a stratosphere...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Under Italian Skies by Nicky Pellegrino

    Once upon a time (in Nicky Pellegrino’s fourth novel, Recipe for Life), a Londoner named Alice decamped to a southern Italian seaside town in the aftermath of a devastating sexual assault in her home. Paying her way by working in the family eateries of an Italian...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Paris of the West by Karen McMillan

    Of metropolises that promise the American dream to bruised yet hopeful migrants, New York City has been the historical vanguard. But on the opposite coast, San Francisco was as magnetic a lure to those seeking to slough off old, hard lives and be born anew. In...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” The words of Kurt Vonnegut ring insistently in the background of The Good Liar, Nicholas Searle’s sly, exquisite novel of identity and retribution. The story of Roy and Betty, who...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

    Literate, lucid and sparklingly readable, A Window Opens, the debut novel of Glamour books editor Elisabeth Egan, is lit up by the author’s uncloaked adoration of her fellow writers. At one point, its protagonist, wandering into a tony New York event, observes...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Rachel’s Legacy by Julie Thomas

    Nuremberg is best known for its role in the Allied-led military tribunals that sifted through the Nazi dregs too slow or disconnected to jump on the ratlines to South America, but it has a happier role in history as the birthplace and erstwhile home of Albrecht...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

    The truth will out, goes the dark promise, and within the camouflage of a newly constructed ideal family is hidden a secret that will blow it all to hell. Gilly Macmillan’s chilly The Perfect Girl (a title soaked in irony) unfolds like a well-constructed horror...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz

    Ever hear of gliomatosis cerebri? For the ontologically inclined, the ‘oma’ will be a giveaway: it’s an extremely rare and always fatal form of cancer with which a 22-year-old novelist, Bibi Blair, is diagnosed in Dean Koontz’s electric thriller Ashley Bell. The...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

    More than fifty years ago, a doctor at the University of Virginia began an investigation that has, to date, amassed more than 2,500 cases of children reporting past-life memories. The children have recounted memories that align with a particular deceased person,...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - In The Cold Dark Ground by Stuart MacBride

    The latest adventures of Logan McRae, contained in Stuart MacBride’s propulsive In the Cold Dark Ground, are a feat of endurance for the Aberdonian police sergeant. By turns he must decide the fate of his girlfriend, who has spent five years in a coma; contend...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Bulibasha by Witi Ihimaera

    Whakahihi (know-it-all) comes the refrain, again and again, from the elders of the teenage Simeon Mahana, whose David-and-Goliath battle with his grandfather Tamihana is the concern of Witi Ihimaera’s award-winning novel Bulibasha, re-released this month in line...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Brotherhood in Death by J D Robb

    A red herring swims through the opening passages of the latest addition to J D Robb’s futuristic procedural series, Brotherhood in Death. Edward Mira, a “bombastic, hard-line” former senator and man about town in 2060s New York City, is discovered beaten and bloodied...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Rebound by Aga Lesiewicz

    The unsympathetic heroine – selfish, self-absorbed, convinced of her universal appeal to men – has a proud place in the literary canon, from Jane Austen to Gillian Flynn. Last year, Jessica Knoll debutedwith Luckiest Girl Alive and a female protagonist as complex...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Coffin Road by Peter May

    The most famous incident in the history of Scotland’s Flannan Isles came just before Christmas 1900, when three keepers vanished from the lighthouse at the peak of Eilean Mòr. The unsolved mystery sets the scene for Peter May’s spooky Coffin Road, in which a bashed...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes

    Maybe it’s not what she intended, but at the close of Marian Keyes’s new collection of essays, Making It Up As I Go Along, I concluded that the author is an uncommonly brave woman. This isn’t to be patronizing or happy-clappy; I doubt Keyes is inclined to indulge...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Open Your Eyes, Jackson Ryder by Rudy Castañeda Lopez

    Not a bildungsroman in the strict sense, because we see the titular character only across a handful of months in the mid-1960s, Rudy Castañeda Lopez’s Open Your Eyes, Jackson Ryder is nonetheless a rich coming-of-age story that evokes the intoxicating mood of southern...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - Inside the Black Horse by Ray Berard

    Who’d have guessed that one of 2015’s most electrifying local crime novels would emerge from the keyboard of a Canuck? In Inside the Black Horse RayBerard, a Cantabrian originally from Canada, enmeshes a “reluctant publican”, North Island gangs, big-city insurers...

  • Stephanie Jones: Book Review - After You by Jojo Moyes

    Sequels can be far from a sure thing, and Jojo Moyes set herself a sizeable task by appending the arresting, if slightly soft-focus, Me Before You with a follow-up centred on Louisa Clark’s life after that novel’s sobering denouement. Happily, but not surprisingly,...

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    The short story is the perfect package for the time-poor reader. In just a few dozen pages, often less, it plops you down in another world that may, depending on the plot, feel like a lullaby, a rollercoaster or a foray into grand absurdism (see Kafka’s novella...

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