Last updated at 14:10 04 March 2008


Starbucked by Taylor Clark (Sceptre, £12.99)

Are you the sort of person who finds it impossible to get through the day without your grande skinny latte, or do you just despair at the sight of yet another green-and-white logo springing up in your local High Street? American journalist Taylor Clark sits more in the second camp, wondering just how Starbucks came to infiltrate our society so effectively.

Much is made of the fact that the chain was started by genuine coffee enthusiasts, keen to show America what real espresso should taste like.

But are we really addicted to their caffeine, or to the copious quantities of milk that tend to come with it and the comfy sofas provided to sit on while drinking it? Taylor's account is certainly readable (if a little relentlessly chirpy) and he's particularly good on the nearreligious pull that Starbucks seems to exert over its most fervent admirers.

However, his focus is — unsurprisingly — overwhelmingly American; Starbucks' blitz of the UK market is dealt with in a couple of paragraphs.

Everything Changes

Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper (Orion, £6.99)

Zachary King is an Everyman made good: 'This is my own doing, this life, with my millionaire playboy housemate and my stunning fiancée with blood as blue as the clear winter sky.' Unfortunately, there are at least three dark clouds on the horizon: he's in love with the wife of his (dead) best friend; his long-absent, scam-artist father has just pitched up on his doorstop wanting to make amends; and it seems increasingly probable that he's battling a lifethreatening disease. Needless to say, Zack's carefully constructed life is about to go horribly wrong.

Everything Changes is a more bloke-ish novel than Tropper's last, How To Talk To A Widower; don't bother reading it for its believable female characters. Nevertheless, as with its predecessor, Tropper writes wittily and warmly about emotions in freefall, without ever becoming too unbearably soppy and saccharine. And — an additional plus — the ending isn't blindingly obvious from the first page, which is no mean feat either.


Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Quercus, £7.99)

A bullied little boy on a bleak housing estate befriends the lonely girl next door. So far, so touching. Unfortunately, Eli is a 200-year-old vampire condemned to live on a diet of fresh blood, and when local residents start to go missing, Oskar fears he knows exactly why. As others gradually come to share his suspicions — including a band of misfits and alcoholics who hang out in a nearby bar — Oskar will have to choose between defending his only true friend or his humanity.

Already a bestseller in his native Sweden, Lindqvist is skilful enough to avoid the obvious vampire clichés, and has written a story that is as much about friendship, family and the lives of the people of this no-hope suburb of Stockholm — the author's home — as it is a straightforward horror novel.

Surprisingly subtle and moving for such a gruesome and disturbing tale, it's no wonder that Lindqvist's debut has drawn comparisons with Stephen King at his best.

Buy a copy of Starbucked

Buy a copy of Everything Changes

Buy a copy of Let The Right One In

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