‘I, Claudius’ by Robert Graves

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‘Despised for his weakness and regarded by his family as little more than a stammering fool, the nobleman Claudius quietly survives the intrigues, bloody purges and mounting cruelty of the imperial Roman dynasties. In I, Claudius he watches from the sidelines to record the reigns of it’s emperor’s: from the wise Augustus and his villainous wife Livia to the sadistic Tiberius and the insane excesses of Caligula. Written in the form of Claudius’ autobiography, this is the first part of Robert Graves’s brilliant account of the madness and debauchery of ancient Rome, and stands as one of the most celebrated, gripping historical novels ever written.’ Continue reading

‘An Inspector Calls and Other Plays’ by J.B. Priestley

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“‘An Inspector Calls’, first produced in 1946 when society was undergoing sweeping transformations, has recently enjoyed an enormously successful revival. While holding its audience with the gripping tension of a detective thriller, it is also a philosophical play about social conscience and the crumbling of middle-class values. ‘Time and the Conways’ and ‘I Have Been Here Before’ belong to Priestley’s ‘time’ plays, in which he explores the idea of precognition and pits fate against free will. ‘The Linden Tree’ also challenges pre-conceived ideas of history when Professor Linden comes into conflict with his family about how life should be lived after the war.” Continue reading

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood

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‘The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one option: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like all dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire- neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.
Brilliantly conceived and executed,  this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception.’
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‘The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger’ by Stephen King

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“Set in a world of extraordinary circumstances, filled with stunning visual imagery and unforgettable characters,  The Dark Tower series is Stephen King’s most visionary piece of storytelling that may well be his crowning achievement.
This newly revised and expanded edition of
 The Gunslinger, for which Stephen King has written a special introduction and forward, is the mesmerising first book in his spectacular, epic Dark Tower series.
In
 The Gunslinger, Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey into good and evil, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own.
In his first step towards the powerful and mysterious Dark Tower, Roland encounters an alluring woman named Alice, begins a friendship with Jake, a kid from New York, and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.
Both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike,
 The Gunslinger leaves readers eagerly awaiting the next chapter.
AND THE TOWER IS CLOSER… 
  
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‘The Grapes of Wrath’ by John Steinbeck

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“‘I’ve done my damndest to rip a reader’s nerves to rag, I don’t want him satisfied.’ Shocking and controversial when it was first published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer prize-winning epic, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ remains his undisputed masterpiece. Set against the background of Dust Bowl Oklahoma and Californian migrant life, it tells of the Joad family, who, like thousands of others, are forced to travel west in search of the promised land. Their story is one of false hopes, thwarted desires and broken dreams, yet out of their suffering Steinbeck created a drama that is intensely human, yet majestic in its scale and moral vision; an eloquent tribute to the endurance and dignity of the human spirit.” Continue reading

‘The Anti-Death League’ by Kingsley Amis

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‘In this surreal comedy of soldiers and spies, Lieutenant James Churchill and his colleagues find themselves questioning their purpose. Are they for death or against it? These men of action travel between the barracks, the lunatic asylum and the house of an aristocratic nymphomaniac in search of answers. Few know the awful truth about Operation Apollo, the mission they are being trained for, fewer still understand the motives of the powerful psychiatrist Dr Best, who thinks he is surrounded by repressed homosexuals, and none know the identity of the secret agent among them. When the Anti-Death League is founded they are at last offered the chance to rebel and perhaps escape…’ Continue reading

‘His Bloody Project’ by Graeme Macrae Burnet

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‘The year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae.
A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence.
Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows.’
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‘The Good Immigrant’ edited by Nikesh Shukla

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‘How does it feel to be constantly regarded as a potential threat, strip-searched at every airport? Or to be told that, as an actress, the part you’re most fitted to play is ‘wife of the terrorist’? How does it feel to have words from your native language misused, misappropriated and used aggressively towards you? How does it feel to hear a child of colour say in a classroom that stories can only be about white people? How does it feel to go ‘home’ to India when your home is really London? What is it like to feel you always have to be an ambassador for your race? How does it feel to always tick ‘Other’?
Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today,
 The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you- however many generations you’ve been here- but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.
Inspired by discussion around why society appears to deem people of colour as bad immigrants- job stealers, benefit scroungers, undeserving refugees- until, by winning Olympic races, or baking good cakes, or being conscientious doctors, they cross over and become good immigrants, editor Nikesh Shukla has compiled a collection of essays that are poignant, challenging, angry, humorous, heartbreaking, polemic, weary and- most importantly- real.’
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