Book review: Sweet Sorrow, by David Nicholls

This – Nicholls’ fifth novel after the overwhelming success of Starter For Ten, The Understudy, One Day and Us – is a very enjoyable, very good read. In some ways the most severe criticism I might make of it is that it is almost too good. There is a zinger of a line on almost every page; I laughed, I cried, and at some points I did both at once, which is never good in pollen season. It is classic tragicomedy: comedy being tragedy plus time.

Sandra Ireland

Book review: The Unmaking of Ellie Rook, by Sandra Ireland

Ellie Rook, who was brought up at the back of a scrapyard in Aberdeenshire, is summoned home from her new life “abroad” – the blurb says Europe, the novel suggests she has been in Vietnam – when her mother mysteriously disappears, seemingly falling to her death while out walking near the family home.

Euan Cameron

Book review: Madeleine, by Euan Cameron

A disclaimer is necessary. Long ago I decided that I would review a book written by a friend only if it was good and gave me pleasure. Otherwise, like the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, I would pass by on the other side. Euan Cameron is not only one of my closest friends, he was also my publisher and editor of my first five or six novels. Since leaving publishing he has become well-known as a translator of French fiction and biography.

Tracking the Highland Tiger

Book review: Tracking The Highland Tiger: In Search Of Scottish Wildcats, by Marianne Taylor

This book is interesting and irritating in equal measure. Marianne Taylor, a noted photographer and writer on nature, has long been fascinated by the elusive Scottish wildcat. Her search is divided between scientific sections and travelogues about being in Speyside, Ardnamurchan and the Western Isles as she attempts to spot and shoot (with a camera, but the ambiguity of the word is telling) Felis Silvestris Grampia.

Gillian Galbraith

Book review: The End Of The Line, by Gillian Galbraith

Gillian Galbraith is best known as the author of six detective novels featuring Alice Rice, a detective sergeant with Lothian and Borders Police. She has also begun a series featuring Father Vincent Ross, a priest who solves crimes. But prior to taking up writing, Galbraith, after working for a short period as a journalist, was also an advocate who specialised in medical negligence and agricultural law cases.

Diary of a Somebody

Book review: Diary of a Somebody, by Brian Bilston

Brian Bilston is known as the poet laureate of Twitter and has thousands of followers. He has a knack for playing with language but his poems are accessible, witty and touching. The enigmatic poet certainly has an original voice, but for the purposes of comparison, you can detect a touch of Roger McGough, John Cooper Clarke and the delicious silliness of Spike Milligan.

Gordon Kerr

Book review: Partisan Heart, by Gordon Kerr

Gordon Kerr, already the author of several historical non-fiction titles, including on Italy, marks his crime fiction debut with The Partisan Heart. It opens in 1999, with journalist Michael mourning the death of his wife, Rosa, killed in a car accident during a visit by the couple to her brother and his family in a northern Italian town. Returning to the UK, he opens a package addressed to Rosa containing a man’s jacket. But it’s not his. A visit to the Scottish hotel which sent the jacket reveals that Rosa was having an affair with an Italian. So he returns to Italy to search for her lover, while agreeing with his editor to report on the recent kidnapping of a woman while he is there.

Sheena Kalayil

Book review: The Wild Wind, by Sheena Kalayil

Sheena Kalayil’s third novel – its title taken from a poem James Joyce wrote in Trieste which plays a significant part in the book – is a finely-structured family story, set partly in the Indian state of Kerala, partly in Zambia, and partly in the United States. Much of the action takes place when the narrator, Sissy, was a girl of 11 or 12, but there are frequent flash-forwards to her adult life in the US. At the heart of the novel is her parents’ separation and then the mysterious and troubling absence of her father.

Detail from the cover of The Theft of a Decade

Book review: The Theft of a Decade, by Joseph C Sternberg

‘The boomers broke it – but it’s rapidly becoming our mess to clean up,” writes Joseph C Sternberg, a senior Wall Street Journal scribe, in this assertion on the idea that the older generation has effectively robbed the piggy bank of its children and grandchildren.

David Coulthard PIC: Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images

Festival review: Baillie Gifford Borders Book Festival

David Coulthard was worried. His ten-year-old son Dayton had never even seen a kart race track, never mind raced on one. But tomorrow, that was just what he was going to do at Larkhall, where he himself started out, on a track that likes to boast that it is “Where Champions Are Born”. That’s one of the things about book festivals. You can eavesdrop on lives that couldn’t be further from your own.

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