Whichbook Blog

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Gabriel's Angel by Mark A Radcliffe

What if Purgatory has been replaced by group therapy sessions? And a return to Earth is on offer for the comatose as well as Heaven or Hell? For Gabriel this reality means a mix of Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes - complete with contract killer - and Love Actually - including the aging rock singer. Very, very funny and extremely touching, this is my book of the year so far by miles and, as it's December, everyone will be getting it for Christmas.

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The Mayor's Tongue by Nathaniel Rich

This playful but clever short novel reminds me somewhat of bubble and squeak - parallel plots, dialogue, imagery and characters all cooked together to make a tasty meal. Although technically an easy read, concentration is a must to get your head around the characters (think Dickens at his most descriptive) and how they fit together. The two stories, whilst totally different, both involve the ultimate quest - the search for love. The ending is a treat and completely unexpected for all concerned.

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Wanting by Richard Flanagan

I was puzzled by this book at first. How could Charles Dickens' failing marriage be connected to the subjugation of the Aboriginal inhabitants of Van Diemens Land? His link with ex-Governor Sir John Franklin's widow is tenuous, though it leads to momentous events for him. But as I read on, the connection became clear: it is the danger and destruction brought about by passion, both private and public. While Dickens indulges his passion in pursuit of a young actress, Victorian Empire builders indulge theirs in attempting to create a White Christian society in the Pacific. The Franklins' suppressed passion for a young native girl brings about their disgrace and her downfall, and the passions of the hapless Aborigines are annihilated. While this novel has a sombre theme, I found it compelling, with flashes of beauty and high spirits lifting the mood.

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The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

The human instinct to survive is played out to the upmost in this bleak, yet poignant tale. Mary, alongside her beau Travis, leads a small group of survivors as they defend themselves against the hordes of unconsecrated villagers who strive to infect them. I was captivated by this love story which manages to be both warm and creepy at the same time!

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