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All Shall be Well; and All Shall be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall be Well by Tod Wodicka

A strange mix of the offbeat and the commonplace, this has an unusual flavour. Burt is into medieval re-enactment but his life falls apart when his wife becomes terminally ill. I found Burt a very frustrating and pathetic character, but also one who you can sympathise with. Unexpectedly moving.

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Once Upon a Time in England by Helen Walsh

Set in 1970's Warrington, this is a beautifully written, intense, absorbing story. As well as bringing to the fore many social issues of the time, it also delves into the complexities of family dynamics. The characters' journeys are wholly believable and I rode alongside them, even though the trip comes to a gut-wrenching finale.

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Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou

Once I had tuned in to the unhinged narrative style with increasingly hysterical repetitions, I was swept into this story with no full stops on the page or boundaries to subjects under discussion in the narrator's head. Both satirical and thought provoking, this is a graphic and alcohol fuelled insight into the lives of those who pass through a less than salubrious Congolese bar.

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Wounded by Percival Everett

This book offers much more than it seems on first impression - as a tale about a hate crime in a small town encompasses personal and family conflict, as well as a budding romance. The murder of a gay man sets off a chain of events forcing horse-trainer John Hunt and others to confront their feelings about homosexuality. This is a violent novel in many ways but also a love story showing the growth of John and Morgan’s relationship, and there are a few flashes of American-style quirky humour - look out for the mule! It's a gripping read that doesn't pull any punches.

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