Yiyun Li, ‘A Thousand Years of Good Prayers’

In this collection of short stories, Li examines the reality of daily life in modern China, opening our eyes to a world where society is trying to balance the weight of tradition with the fast pace of modern life. In ‘Extra’, a lonely middle-aged woman finds herself abandoned in a wilderness of strangers, dehumanised and…

Lethal White: A Review

Unsettling from the very start, the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series takes a little while to find its feet. When a mentally distressed young man explodes into Strike’s office requesting help on finding out about a crime he may have witnessed as a child, Strike feels compelled to help, in part due to…

Selfie

At the risk of using hyperbole, this book will change the way you look at the world. I can say, without exaggeration, that it is possibly the most interesting book I’ve ever read. Storr sets out to examine raised suicide rates in the west by studying our relationship with the notion of self, starting with…

Northern Ireland: More than Westeros

For those of us in the know (i.e. those of us who grew up there!) Northern Ireland (or the North of Ireland) is more than just a location scout’s dream. We’ve known about the wow factor of our beautiful countryside for years and now it appears the rest of the world is beginning to catch…

Carol Ann Duffy, The World’s Wife: A Review

Although published twenty years ago, this collection still feels incredibly fresh and contemporary. Due to its place on A Level set text lists in the UK, the poems in this collection are probably familiar to many poetry fans, so there’s no need for a long introduction. In this collection Duffy takes a whole host of…

Florist at Midnight

This is a sublime collection, redolent of a masterfully arranged bouquet – no sparsity, beautiful details and gathered together in a way that draws out every nuance. The title poem is full of darkness, sinister in its use of anthropomorphism. This is a feature across the collection as Maguire humanises a number of different plants…

Asylum, Sean Borodale: A Review

Before beginning the collection, I was struck by the title. I knew that it was written while Borodale explored the Somerset caving systems, but I wondered what the connection with Asylum could be – is Borodale making the suggestion that we are safer underground? The sheer number of questions in the opening poem ‘Rehearsal at St Cuthbert’s Swallet’…

John Burnside ‘All One Breath’

Published in 2014, this is Burnside’s 13th (!) collection and weaves familiar topics (death, perception) with the grounded detail so typical of his work. Divided into four sections, the collection moves through a journey of self-exploration – it’s an emotionally tiring read, unsettling and enlightening in equal measure. The opening section is titled ‘Self-Portrait as…

‘The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx’ Review

‘The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx’ is a song to feminism. It’s not a paean as such – it’s too subtle for that in its messages. It feels fresh and surprising even as it twists and turns and puts the reader through a mangle. The opening poem ‘The True Story of Eleanor Marx’ is playful…

Laos Adventures

Visiting Luang Prabang was like stepping into another world – lush jungles and intricate temples. Perfect for recharging the batteries!