Title: The Second Cut

Author: Louise Welsh

Pages: 372 Pages

Publisher: Canongate Books

The Blurb

Auctioneer Rilke has been trying to stay out of trouble, keeping his life more or less respectable. Business has been slow at Bowery Auctions, so when an old friend, Jojo, gives Rilke a tip-off for a house clearance, life seems to be looking up. The next day Jojo washes up dead.

Jojo liked Grindr hook-ups and recreational drugs – is that the reason the police won’t investigate? And if Rilke doesn’t find out what happened to Jojo, who will?

Thrilling and atmospheric, The Second Cut delves into the dark side of twenty-first century Glasgow. Twenty years on from his appearance in The Cutting Room, Rilke is still walking a moral tightrope between good and bad, saint and sinner.

The Review

I am so cross at myself for not knowing that The Second Cut by Louise Welsh is a sequel. I really enjoyed The Second Cut but really wish I had read The Cutting Room first. Not that you need to read The Cutting Room to enjoy The Second Cut. The characters are well drawn out and because it is 20 years later from the first book you don’t really feel like there is connecting threads of plot (I may think differently after I read The Cutting Room).

The story focuses on Rilke and how he manages to get himself entangled in the criminal underbelly of Glasgow and can’t seem to claw his way out of it. The death of a close friend Jojo leaves Rilke the unappealing task of getting rid of the accumulation of Jojo’s life. In doing so, Rilke discovers that Jojo was up to all sorts of dodgy things and it nis now up to Rilke to sort out a dead man’s life.

Funny in places, intense in others – The Second Cut is a must for fans of crime novels.

The Second Cut by Louise Welsh is available now.

For more information regarding Louise Walsh (@louisewelshOO) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Canongate Books (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.

Title: Winchelsea

Author: Alex Preston

Pages: 287 Pages

Publisher: Canongate Books

The Blurb

The year is 1742. Goody Brown, saved from drowning and adopted when just a babe, has grown up happily in the smuggling town of Winchelsea. Then, when Goody turns sixteen, her father is murdered in the night by men he thought were friends.

To find justice in a lawless land, Goody must enter the cut-throat world of her father’s killers. With her beloved brother Francis, she joins a rival gang of smugglers. Facing high seas and desperate villains, she also discovers something else: an existence without constraints or expectations, a taste for danger that makes her blood run fast.

Goody was never born to be a gentlewoman. But what will she become instead?

Winchelsea is an electrifying story of vengeance and transformation; a rare, lyrical and transporting work of historical imagination that makes the past so real we can touch it.

The Review

I read Winchelsea with a bit of trepidation. I like historical fiction but often find some times or places a bit more difficult to read. I don’t know why this is but its my thing, okay? I am glad that I read Winchelsea though because it is damn good.

It is the story of Goody Brown and the corrupt world that she lives in. Throughout the story you are presented with trials and tribulations far beyond your ken that you really do feel like you have been invited into another world.

There were elements that I loved about Winchelsea. It would probably have been a five star read if it wasn’t for the change in voice. The story is told in 3(ish) parts. The first and longest from Goody Brown’s perspective. This I found to be the most engaging. The second voice didn’t engage me as much but it was necessary for the next part of the story and to develop the character of Goody Brown further and to reveal the desperate measures that she had to go to.

Winchelsea is really evocative of time, place and situation and Alex Preston has done an amazing job of transporting the reader with this story.

Winchelsea by Alex Preston is available now.

For more information regarding Alex Preston (@ahmpreston) please visit www.alexhmpreston.com.

For more information regarding Canongate Books (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.

Title: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Canongate

The Blurb

The touching, funny and heartwarming new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of How to Stop Time and Reasons to Stay Alive.

Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

The Review

It would be fair to say that I have a complicated relationship with Matt Haig’s writing. I have read a few of his books and whilst I have loved his non-fiction – seriously his perspective on mental health is fascinating and so very helpful – I haven’t really managed to get along too well with his fiction. However, at the insistence of a close friend I gave The Midnight Library a go and I have to admit I really, really liked it.

It is the story of Nora Seed – a young girl whose life doesn’t seem to have lived up to the promises of what life should be and due to that she wants her life to be over. She ends up in a place called The Midnight Library which gives her to opportunity to see how her life would be if she had taken different paths.

Now you could say that this is a trope that has been examined before – most notably in It’s A Wonderful Life – however, Haig has a brilliant way of juxtaposing the weird and wonderful with the ordinary and humdrum and he shows Nora Seed seeing how everyone is impacted by her existence in different forms. What is also great is that The Midnight Library is not twee. It is thoughtful and introspective but inviting and engaging.

Reading The Midnight Library has certainly made me more interested in reading more fiction from Matt Haig.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is available now.

For more information regarding Matt Haig (@matthaig1) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Canongate (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.

Title: How to Stop Time

Author: Matt Haig

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Canongate Books

The Blurb

‘I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.’

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life.

Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him. The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.


How to Stop Time 
is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

The Review

How to Stop Time is the story of Tom Hazard, a man with a rare medical condition which means that he ages at a much slower rate than most people. He is over 400 years old and has seen things that people have only read about in books. However, his condition puts I’m in danger – danger from scientists, eugenicists, by people who just couldn’t understand. So whilst Tom tries to hide under the radar – not make friends, not fall in love but this proves impossible when he gets a new job in a secondary school.

How to Stop Time is a time travel novel that meets a historical one. We travel through time with Tom Hazard and we meet a cast of historical figures from Shakespeare to F Scott Fitzgerald. At its heart, it is a story about relationships and how we need to keep people close to use regardless of the cost. 

If I am completely honest I am not a huge fan of fantasy novels and How to Stop Time didn’t float my boat the way I wanted it to. I love Matt Haig’s writing – in particular his non fiction/mental health books so I worry that maybe his fiction is not for me. How to Stop Time is written well but the genre as a whole is one that I tend to avoid.  

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig is available now.

For more information regarding Matt Haig (@MattHaig1) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Canongate Books (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.

Title: Come Again

Author: Robert Webb

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Canongate Books

The Blurb

You can’t fall in love for the first time twice . . .

Kate’s husband Luke – the man she loved from the moment she met him twenty-eight years ago – died suddenly. Since then she has pushed away her friends, lost her job and everything is starting to fall apart.

One day, she wakes up in the wrong room and in the wrong body. She is eighteen again but remembers everything. This is her college room in 1992. This is the first day of Freshers’ Week. And this is the day she first meets Luke.

But Luke is not the man that she lost: he’s still a boy – the annoying nineteen-year-old English student she first met. Kate knows how he died and that he’s already ill. If they can fall in love again she might just be able to save him. She’s going to try to do everything exactly the same . . .

The Review

Kate Marsden is grieving. She is grieving hard. Her husband of 28 years – Luke – has just died of a brain tumour and all she wants to do is to join him on the other side.

However, when life gives her a second chance with Luke form the day she first met him at university Kate does everything in her power to save his life. Yet it comes at a cost.

Okay, so this was a risky little story for me because I am not a fan of Groundhog Day and I get myself well stressed out with time travel movies (except Back to the Future). I get really confused and my brain starts to melt a little bit when presented with this kind of story. However, Webb created a story in which the technicality of time travel or other dimensions is secondary to the heart of the story which is the relationship, the love story.

Come Again is broken down in to three parts and I will admit by the third part I was a little unsure as to where the story was going but there is an overriding element of fun that kept me reading. That is definitely the best way to describe Come Again – fun. If you can suspend your disbelief then you will definitely enjoy it.

Come Again by Robert Webb is available now.

For more information regarding Robert Webb (@arobertwebb) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Canongate Books (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongate.co.uk.