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Culture Critic: The Winner's Reviews

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Back in April, we invited you to submit reviews of your favourite books by female authors. And after recieving thousands of entries, we crowned Rebecca Cosgriff, an NHS auditor from London, our winner. She wowed us with her thoughts on Emma Donoghue's Room - and was invited to write Stylist's Quiet Night In reviews page. Read her recommendations from the world of books and music below...

Picture credit: Rex Features

Eleven by Mark Watson

You may recognise Mark Watson’s name from TV panel shows such as Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Have I Got News For You and Mock The Week, from his pear cider ads or from his stand-up routine which he performs in a Welsh accent despite being from Bristol. But this, the comedian’s third novel, cements his reputation as a witty, sharply observant writer. Protagonist Xavier Ireland is a late night radio DJ with a Scrabble fetish and a chequered past.

A snowy day in the capital sees Xavier succumb to cowardice when he witnesses a brutal gang assault on a youth. The consequences of Xavier’s inaction reach out across the city as invisibly yet determinedly as radio waves, touching the lives of a number of disparate characters. There’s Julius Brown, a teenage mathematics enthusiast struggling with obesity, an effervescent Geordie cleaner, an estate agent with halitosis, and Murray, Xavier’s inept, stuttering sidekick.

As consequences build momentum, Watson settles into a narrative that is at once droll and devastating, littered with insightful analogies and poignant vignettes of city life. The modern urban dilemma of action versus inaction is deftly woven into an engaging plot, populated with relatable characters. Watson moves from one character to the next and back and forth in time, betraying tantalising details of Xavier’s haunted past, the current predicament of the 11 central characters, and the future of society at large; remaining hilarious throughout.

Eleven is out in paperback 9 June (£7.99, Simon & Schuster)

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

Following his controversial Kitchen Confidential, Medium Raw mixes choice episodes from chef Bourdain’s past with analysis of the present food world: pessimistic advice for wannabe chefs alongside accounts of boozing with the Gadaffis on a Caribbean yacht. Hysterical musings by an x-rated Eeyore.

Out now in paperback (£8.99, Bloomsbury)

Mad by Moonlight by Thomas Tantrum

This second album from the UK indie four-piece blends Kate Bush-style vocals with raucous Ting Tingsesque music. Catchy and often comedic songs fill an album in which all the tracks are potential singles. Sleep stands out with its crisp lyrics and the inevitable toe tapping that accompanies it. Meanwhile, Hot Hot Summer conjures up being in the crowd of a sun-drenched festival.

Out 13 June, £13.99

Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

Mr Fox is cheating on his wife with his imaginary friend. Mr Fox is also a serial killer; his heroines never make it out of a story alive. Oyeyemi has a sharp wit and isn’t afraid to use it. She punctuates the narrative with her protagonist’s own gruesome fairy tales; blurring the line between what you suppose is fact and hope to be fiction.

Out now (£12.99, Picador)

Want to be Stylist's next literary critic? Submit a 100 word book review for the chance to be published on stylist.co.uk.

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