Half-and-Half Books: From ‘wow’ to ‘meh’ and back again

By Rosie Wiggins


I recently finished a book called The End of the World Running Club, which I picked up because I convince myself to exercise by pretending I’m surviving an apocalypse and need to train. True story.

After a powerful and truly horrific opening chapter, in which the apocalypse hits in real time and in full devastation, I was ready for a story that would change my life, blow my mind, clear my skin and water my plants. What I got was… not that. But it wasn’t not not that, either.

This is how to handle ‘Half-and-Half’ books: books that leave you gripping the pages with tension in one chapter but falling asleep in another, and flit between the two extremes for their entire run.

Minor spoilers below. 

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Review: The Essex Serpent

I’m a sucker for a book award. I don’t always agree with the verdict, but slap a ‘Winner’ sticker on any novel and it will rocket to the top of my reading list. Call it curiosity, call it elitism, call it argumentative, call it whatever; if a book has been called ‘the best’, I want to find out why.

Hence my reading for this month: Waterstones’ Book of the Year 2016, Sarah Perry’s second novel The Essex Serpent.

Spoilers under the cut!

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Review: Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

The Belgian is back!

Hercule Poirot is one of the most memorable literary detectives of all time. Poet Sophie Hannah has taken on the character in her new Agatha Christie style Poirot series. Her new Poirot story, Closed Casket, sees the Belgian detective solve a bizarre and brutal murder in the house of children’s author Athelinda Playford. Taking on such an iconic character is never going to be easy.

And I’m not about to make it any easier. See what a die-hard Christie fan has to say about this Poirot revival.

Major spoilers under the cut!

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2016 Man Booker Prize

It’s the end of September, kids are back in school, and my mental countdown to Halloween is almost at an end. October not only brings the greatest global holiday of them all (in my opinion); it brings us the 2016 Man Booker Prize, i.e. ‘the best book of the year’.

So, here are the contenders (shortlisted books in bold):

J.M. Coetzee’s The Schooldays of Jesus
A.L. Kennedy’s Serious Sweet
Ian McGuire’s The North Water
David Means’ Hystopia
Wyl Menmuir’s The Many
Virginia Reeves’ Work Like Any Other
Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton
Paul Beatty’s The Sellout
Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen
Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk
Madeleine Thein’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing
David Szalay’s All That Man Is
Graeme Macrae Burnett’s His Bloody Project

In my completely uneducated and wholly amatuer opinion, the ‘best book of the year’ should be the book that really got under your skin, that really left an impression with you. Since thirteen books is a bit much for one review post, I’ll cover the stories that stood out for me, for better or for worse. Any books that I’ve left out you can assume were a solid ‘meh’.

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