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Scottish festivals 2013 - An A-Z of the best summer festivals

17 May 2013

The best festivals of music, film, food, cycling and more taking place in Scotland 2013

When it comes to festivals, Scotland really doesn’t hold back. From Orkney to Byres Road, muddy fields to stately homes, the growing number of them cater to all tastes, styles and budgets. Our A-Z guide profiles Scotland’s best summer jamborees, the…

Iain Banks - The Quarry

6 Jun 20134 stars

Iain Banks' final book skillfully portrays our increasingly digital world with famous black humour

Brought forward for publication following Iain Banks’ announcement three months ago that he is ‘officially Very Poorly’ with terminal cancer, The Quarry initially seems a uniquely difficult read. The fact that one of its main characters is in the final…

Celebrate flash fiction in Edinburgh this June

11 Jun 2013

Small But Perfectly Formed is the approach for National Flash Fiction Day

To those with a foot in the literary scene, flash fiction isn’t a new concept. In fact it’s become so entrenched that there’s now even a national day when it might be celebrated and performed. Edinburgh’s plentiful array of literary promoters are coming…

Top 5 feminist road trip books

10 Jun 2013

Apocalypse Baby, The Borrower, Nellie Bly and Foreign Parts among the best pro-woman travel stories

Apocalypse Baby is the latest novel by Virginie Despentes, subversive writer and filmmaker of Baise-Moi. It focuses on missing teenager, Valentine, and Lucie, the inexperienced private detective hired to find her. When you've finished chasing the pair…

Simone van der Vlugt - Safe as Houses

10 Jun 20132 stars

A well-paced home invasion thriller that ultimately borders on predictable

Functionality of language is key in this tight thriller from best-selling Dutch author Simone van der Vlugt. Mother to five year old Anouk, Lisa finds herself in an unimaginably horrific situation: her isolated country home is infiltrated by a convicted…

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Charlotte Grimshaw - Soon

10 Jun 20134 stars

An efficient, coolly poetic tale of Auckland’s glitterati

Treading a fine line between literary and commercial fiction, Charlotte Grimshaw’s Soon is a nuanced, exciting tale of Auckland’s glitterati. Successful obstetrician Simon Lampton holidays with the Prime Minster, David Hallwright. In the melting…

Iain Macwhirter - Road To Referendum

10 Jun 20134 stars

The political commentator's book is a vital contribution to the discussion on Scotland's future

Iain Macwhirter’s Road to Referendum is easily the most accessible piece of writing concerned with the independence debate. Not only one of the shrewdest commentaries on Scottish politics, it is also an important tribute to the country’s…

Pandemonium: The Lowest Heaven

10 Jun 20134 stars

Science fiction anthology published to coincide with ROG's 'Visions of the Universe'

In this visually beautiful anthology, each short story is inspired by a different object in our solar system, from the sun to the moon to Halley's Comet. Speculative fiction fans will be excited just looking at the contents page, with original stories…

David Shaw Mackenzie - The Interpretations

10 Jun 20133 stars

Gripping mystery novel lacks leading character voice

Told across two decades, The Interpretations explores circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Tom Kingsmill, a runner who starts an organised race across Dalmore's new suspension bridge but never reaches the other side. Local police write the…

Robbie Morrison & Jim Murray - Drowntown: Book One

7 Jun 20133 stars

Story set in dystopian London with enough intrigue to hook you in for next instalment

(Jonathan Cape) Scottish comics writer Robbie Morrison got his first big break, like so many great British writers before him, at 2000AD. He co-created Nikolai Dante, Shakara and Shimura (the final one also served as the mainstream debut of artist…

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Stephen King - Joyland

4 Jun 20134 stars

A nostalgic murder mystery with a supernatural twist from the master of horror

Stephen King is a true phenomenon in the world of publishing. One of the highest-selling authors of all time (with estimated sales of over 350 million), his stories have been adapted into over 50 films and TV series (not counting numerous shorts…

Suzanne Egerton - Out Late With Friends And Regrets

31 May 20133 stars

Effortlessly funny and uplifting story about a woman's fight for her independece

Egerton’s debut is charming and effortlessly funny. She brings her characters to life in such a distinctive way that readers will love rooting for them in their triumphs and heartaches because they remind us so much of ourselves. The novel follows…

Morgan McCarthy - The Outline of Love

31 May 20133 stars

Berkshire born author's second novel is an enjoyable coming of age story with a twist

Raised by her father in the Highlands, Persephone Triebold flees her lonely life for university in London. The sights and smells of the big city are evocatively described as Persephone throws herself headfirst into an alien world of female friendships…

Stuart Evers - If This Is Home

31 May 20133 stars

Author's debut novel explores the haunting power of the past and makes for a compelling read

Stuart Evers’ debut is a novel of contrasts; between reality and dreams, coming and going, want and need. Focusing on the harsh truth that you cannot outrun your past, the book is also a tribute to love in all its forms. Trying to escape the dark…

Lance Weller - Wilderness

31 May 20134 stars

A striking and beautiful historical novel

This debut novel from Lance Weller alternates between 1864 and 1899 and tells the story of Abel Truman, a solider who fought and nearly died for the Confederacy in the American Civil War, before being taken in by two former slaves. It is a bold novel…

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Joseph Smith - Finally My Ambulance

29 May 20132 stars

Smith's short story 'album' is pretentious, mannered and deeply disappointing

A central conceit in Joseph Smith’s first two novels - The Wolf and Taurus - is that they’re told from the point of view of their titular animals. In this new collection - pretentiously described as an 'album' for some reason - only one of Smith’s tales…

George Monbiot – Feral

28 May 20134 stars

A poignant call to rethink the way we use and view our British landscape

The restoration of the Earth’s ecosystems is a key topic in current environmentalism: a positive, hopeful practice in times of huge environmental stress following centuries of alteration and destruction by human hand. Guardian journalist George Monbiot…

Derby Shorts

24 May 20135 stars

Collaborative anthology on roller derby will make you want to get your skates on

Whether you’re new to roller derby, a wannabe rollergirl or a force to be reckoned with on eight wheels, there can be no finer companion to the beautiful game than the new collaborative anthology from For Books’ Sake and the London Roller Girls. Derby…

Horror author Joe Hill introduces his new novel, NOS4R2

16 May 2013

The writer also touches on working with Daniel Radcliffe and being Stephen King's son

The latest novel from author Joe Hill is a full throttle horror story. In NOS4R2, a serial killer prowls both real and imaginary worlds in his Silver Wraith Rolls Royce, abducting children for a hundred year reign of terror. The killer takes his…

James Robertson - The Professor of Truth

16 May 20134 stars

A contemporary story dealing with the aftermath of a Lockerbie-like attack

Twenty-one years after the death of his wife and child in a plane bombing, Dr Alan Tealing remains unconvinced by the official account of this atrocity. Tealing’s obsession with what he calls The Case defines the novel: this is Lockerbie in everything…

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Kate Manning - My Notorious Life by Madame X

16 May 20134 stars

A timely historical drama about abortion and the female body in the Victorian era

After a year of American politicians sounding off about women’s bodies like it was the 19th century, Kate Manning’s novel, inspired by an infamous midwife/abortion provider from that era, comes as a reminder of how grim things used to be. Axie…

Helen Ivory - Waiting for Bluebeard

16 May 20134 stars

The poet's latest collection dissolves the barriers between reality and fantasy

In what is undoubtedly her most bewitching poetry collection to date, Helen Ivory peels away the layers of reality and leaves her reader a tantalising world to explore. Each poem is beautifully woven together to create a dream-like narrative. Through…

Curtis Sittenfeld - Sisterland

15 May 20132 stars

A tense, gripping narrative let down by hard-to-swallow racist and homophobic tendencies

When Kate’s identical twin sister, professional psychic Vi Shramm, has a premonition that a giant earthquake is about to strike their hometown of St Louis, Kate begins to set in motion a plan to protect her family. As Vi gets carried away by the media…

Flash Fiction - Shells by Liam Bell

15 May 2013

Most recent installment in The List's series of ultra-sort stories

The house is built half-in, half-out of the water. At high tide the water laps at the supporting wall beneath their bedroom window. When the wind rises, the breaking waves send spittle and spray up to the rattling glass. Then the tide ebbs out and the…

Jenny Mayhew - A Wolf in Hindelheim

15 May 20134 stars

Former screenwriter Mayhew's debut novel is a strong, atmospheric story set in pre-WWII Germany

War hangs heavy over the small German mountain community of Hindelheim in Jenny Mayhew’s unusual crime novel, set in 1926. WWI has left local constable Hildebrandt crippled and estranged from his adult son, while the war which we know is still to come…