BOOKS: I recently visited a number of London bookshops for a browse and was surprised at the history and character of some little known and famous names alike. Here’s my top 5 list.

RULES FOR THURSDAY LOVERS: The title sounds delightfully cryptic but on second glance says it all really. Yana Stajno’s debut novel bounces along at a rambunctious pace from opening chapter to final paragraph, bringing together two old school pals – the slightly snooty Fiona and more down to earth, personable Angie – at a timeshare event on a London barge.


INSIDE THE WAVE: Helen Dunmore’s Inside the Wave named Costa Book of the Year. Check out my review. 


MANDELBROT THE MAGNIFICENT: Check out my review of Mandelbrot the Magnificent. A child maths prodigy fleeing Poland at the onset of WW2. Read this review to find out why I say ‘this outstanding novelette knows no bounds’.


AGENTS OF DREAMLAND: This genre of science fiction is also gruesome and unerving enough to be comfortably termed horror


THE BLACK PRINCE OF FLORENCE: Official court records from the 1500s show that Renaissance Florence was ruled by the ‘half negro’ duke Alessandro de Medici. Check out my review of Renaissance historian Caroline Fletcher’s book The Black Prince of Florence.


COMPANIONS OF CLAY:  Check out my review of this surreal debut novel about an unconscious man who interrupts the dream states of others. Author Safeena Chaudhry’s book Companions of Clay explores the subconscious, nightmarish dreams and the coma state of a British-born Pakistani male who faces a final reckoning with his estranged family. Click link http:/



SILENT CHILDREN: Ghostly goings on in a Vienna suburb. A letter out of the blue from an estranged mother triggers a quest to unravel a family mystery harking back to the 1930s. Read my book review of Amna K. Boheim’s debut novel here.



SHADOWS IN THE WALL: Check out my review of this 2nd novel by Derek Bates which charts an unfolding political/religious plot from centuries past. If you like your drama injected with a bit of history this review might just be for you!

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LITERATURE: July 8th is the anniversary of the death of poet Percy Shelley. My article looks at how his tragic love life drew him to London and the death of his first wife Harriet Westbrook in The Serpentine River, Hyde Park. Click link

Joseph Severn's portrait of Percy Bysshe Shelley. The radical 19th century poet practiced the politics of the plate. For Shelley and other liberals of his day, keeping sugar out of tea was a political statement against slavery.