SABATINI, Irene        

 C        The Boy Next Door    2009    Novel

I could not handle the constant bland short sentences



 B+      The First Book of Swords           1983    Fantasy

Good idea well executed


 B+      The Second Book of Swords      1983    Fantasy

Characters and settings a bit 2D (or classic), but originality with Gods and swords, and cracker chaotic finish


 B+      The Third Book of Swords    1984     Fantasy

Consistent series


 B+      Woundhealer’s Story The First Book of Lost Swords 1986     Fantasy

Consistent series. Clever interaction between differing magical god-forged swords


 B-       Sightblinder's Story The Second Book of Lost Swords    1987    Fantasy

Disappointing both as episode & continuation


 B+      Stonecutter’s Story The Third Book of Lost Swords  1988     Fantasy

Consistent series. Clever interaction between differing magical god-forged swords


 B+      Farslayer’s Story The Fourth Book of Lost Swords          1989    Fantasy

Consistent series. Clever interaction between differing magical god-forged swords


SACKS, Oliver      

 B-       The Island of the Colour-blind    1996    Travel (Medical; Botany)

Sacks is only as good as his content. This isn’t good content.


SATRE, Jean-Paul          

 B        Nausea     1938    Novel

I kept it, but I can’t remember it and have no desire to read it again


SCHLINK, Bernard         

 B+      The Reader     1997    Novel

Modern German grapples to decide appropriate response to the holocaust


SETON, Anya       

 B        Katherine 1954    Historical Fiction

Dramatisation of common girl’s actual rise to mistress then wife of a 14th C. Duke


SHELLEY, Mary         

 C        Frankenstein 1816    SF

Great concept, tedious, shallow execution



 B+      Eyewall     1991    SF/Short Story

Able development of a scientific idea into a story


SHERRILL, Steve      

 B        The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break 2002     Novel (Magic Realism)

Able ‘Of Mice and Men’ mood, characters, themes; mythic hook largely gratuitous 


SHIELDS, Carol         

 B        The Stone Diaries            1993    Novel

Undeniably able fictional autobiography, but not my thing


 SILVA, Daniel      

 C        Moscow Rules     2008    Action

Some OK scene setting, but stereotype dialogue and characters, and offensively shallow morality



 B+      Jasper Jones       2009     Novel

Engaging coming of age story, rural 70s Australians amped up to Shakespearian proportions


SIMMONS, Dan          

 B+      Hyperion   1989    SF

Space Opera Canterbury Tales


 C        Phases of Gravity      1989    SF?

Promising much, ultimately delivering pap


 B+      Ilium    2003     SF/Action

Starts pretentious, but becomes potent, epic and thrilling


SIMPSON, Dorothy        

 B-            Last Seen Alive    1985    Crime




 B+      The Rosie Project 2013     Novel/Humour (Romance, ASD)

Cashing in on the ASD boom, but deftly



 A-       Gray Lensman           1951    SF

Politically/socially juvenile, but fantastic scope and originality


SMITH, Giles         

 B        Last Requests      2000    Short Story

(in ‘Speaking With the Angel’; Ed. Nick Hornby)

Dark humour improvising a monologue as a death-row canteen lady


SMITH, Wilbur      

 B        The Sound of Thunder

 (Sean Courtney series)     1966    Action/Historical Fiction

Engaging Boer war action, dubious ‘heroic’ character


SMITH, Zadie  

 B-       I’m the Only One 2000    Short Story

(in ‘Speaking With the Angel’; Ed. Nick Hornby)

Vignette of teenager step to identity


SOBEL, Dava       

 B+      Longitude            1995     NF: Biography/Science History

Capable account of interesting scientific history


SOBOL, Donald J.          

 B        Still More Two-Minute Mysteries      1975    Crime/Puzzle

Find the clue to solve each page long case



 A-       Of Mice and Men  1937     Novella

Stinging, poignant, bleak, insightful


STEVENSON, Robert Louis          

 B+      Treasure Island    1881     Action

Hang on! Action aplenty, high body count



 A-       The Crystal Cave (Book 1 in the Merlin saga) 1970    Fantasy

Young Merlin enchantingly evoked


  A       The Hollow Hills (Book 2 in the Merlin saga)  1973    Fantasy

Savouring patient expectation within a thoroughly engaging and consistent structure


 B+      The Last Enchantment (Book 3 in the Merlin saga)   1979     Fantasy

Continues to capably weave around the Arthurian legend



 B        And Be A Villain (A Nero Wolfe Mystery) 1948    Crime

Pleasant. Lightly comic. Introduces Wolfe’s nemesis, Zeck


 B        The Second Confession (A Nero Wolfe Mystery) 1949    Crime

Able without soaring. Touches on McCarthyism issues. Second book to refer to Wolfe’s nemesis Zeck – read it before ‘In the Best Families’


 B+      In the Best Families (A Nero Wolfe Mystery) 1950    Crime

Wonderful departure from conventions of series (but read a few other Wolfe’s first)


 B        Champagne for One (A Nero Wolfe Mystery) 1958    Crime

Pleasant. Lightly comic



 C       Table For Eight    2018    Novel (Romance)

Sad granny fantasy. Seriously, you’re 70 and you still want to base your identity on how sexy you are? Moments of tiny relationship insights in a world of superficiality presented as sophistication. On the (utterly shamelessly promoted) love boat


STURGEON, Theodore

 B+      The Dreaming Jewels            1950     SF/Novella

Mixed treasure: sometimes soars, but climax descends into cliché