Shiny Linkiness – my recent reviews

I’ve had three reviews published at Shiny New Books this week and last, so thought I’d plug them here. Just click through to read the full pieces. Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li A generational family drama following the trials and tribulations of Jimmy Han, his family and the staff of the Beijing Duck Read More

Caught Between the Light and the Dark

The City in the MIddle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders I really enjoyed Anders’s first novel, All the Birds in the Sky, which was published in 2016 (and reviewed here). In it, she managed to successfully blend a mix of urban SF and fantasy with a coming of age romance – all in Read More

An almost old-fashioned modern gangster novel

The Bothy by Trevor Mark Thomas Someone had warned Tom to stay away from Stephanie’s funeral. A fantastic opening line! I was hooked by this thriller right from the start. I could see it on the big screen in my mind all the way through too. Think of any British gangster film from recent years Read More

Wellcome Book Prize reading #6: Madness and Recovery

Mind on Fire by Arnold Thomas Fanning Subtitled ‘A Memoir of Madness and Recovery’, Fanning’s book tells the story of his battle with depression and bipolar disease. The book begins, however, with an episode from several years later during which he experienced mania and delusions – this prologue, told in a stream of consciousness style, Read More

Dealing with Metrophobia

The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt You won’t find ‘metrophobia’ in the OED yet, but plenty of other places will tell you it means the fear of poetry – not underground railways! Now, I’ve always appreciated an occasional poem: I read the ones in the TLS each week; I can still remember lots of Read More

A modern morality tale

Strike Your Heart by Amélie Nothomb Translated by Alison Anderson Belgian author Nothomb writes taut novellas about flawed heroines that are always interesting (see here and here) and they always read like fables or fairy tales in one sense or another, despite being resolutely modern. Her newest, published last autumn is no different in that Read More

Review Catch-up: Heller, Murakami & Levy

Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller I recently re-read this for Book Group, and was reminded by what a fine novel it is. The affair between a naive art teacher and a fifteen-year-old pupil is a tough subject, given that Heller makes her protagonist quite sympathetic in a way, but the real villain of Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: How to Be Both

Hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in titles will take you to my reviews. So without further ado, our starting book this month is … How to Be Both by Ali Smith I have a confession to Read More

Rathbones Folio Prize Shortlist Announcement

Just a short post today, but I was lucky enough to be invited to the event held at Rathbones HQ near Moorgate last night for the announcement of the Rathbones Folio Prize Shortlist. Thank you to publicists FMcM. Sadly, the weather was cold, windy and drizzly – but the view from inside over the Thames Read More

Blogtour: Paver goes Gothic

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver I’m delighted to be hosting the leg of the blogtour for Michelle Paver’s third adult novel on its publication day! I read and really enjoyed Paver’s first two, both ghost stories reviewed here. The first, Dark Matter was located in the Arctic which was followed by Thin Air set in the Read More

Wellcome Book Prize reading: #5 R&R

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottesa Moshfegh Well, it’s a while since I read a book that I disliked so thoroughly, but felt compelled to read to the end! This book is all sex and drugs, but no rock’n’roll. I’d felt put off reading it before by the ‘school of David’ painting on Read More

The Dylan Thomas Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for this interesting prize (the official website is here) was announced first thing this morning. What is this trend for announcing literary shortlists at 00.00 these days? Anyway, I am rather excited by it, as I’ve read and really enjoyed three of the six titles. Without further ado, here is the shortlist, with Read More

Wellcome Book Prize reading: #4 Amateur

Amateur by Thomas Page McBee McBee, a trans man, takes on the challenge of learning to box to appear in a charity match at Madison Square Gardens. Boxing, until recent years has been seen as a most masculine sport, and as he trains, McBee examines what makes a man and the interrelations between masculinity and Read More

Dylan Thomas Prize Blogtour: Folk

This prize is awarded by Swansea University for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, named for the Swansea-born author, who died aged 39 in 1953. Today is my turn on the longlist blogtour, so without further ado, let me introduce you to: Folk by Read More

Hello World: An evening with Hannah Fry

One of the highlights of this year’s ATOM Science Festival in Abingdon was a lecture by Dr Hannah Fry (here’s her website) based on her latest book Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine which will be published in paperback next Thursday. Hannah will be known to many for her TV documentaries and her long-running Radio 4 series Read More

Reading Ireland Month #1

Cathy at 746 Books and Niall at The Fluff is Raging are our hosts once again for Reading Ireland Month, celebrating Irish literature and culture. I hope to be able to fit in a second book by a certain much-feted young Irish novelist before the month ends, but today here’s my review of… Modern Gods by Nick Read More

Just the job for this young lady…

MI5 and Me – A Coronet Among the Spooks by Charlotte Bingham Back in 1963, the young Charlotte Bingham published a book of humorous memoir called Coronet Among the Weeds. The daughter of the 7th Baron, Clanmorris, it told of Bingham’s experience of ‘The Season’ as a debutante among the chinless wonders, or weeds, as Read More

Wales Readathon #2

The Wales Readathon, aka Dewithon is being hosted by Paula at Book Jotter. It’s running throughout March. Here is what I thought about my second Welsh read this month: New Stories from the Mabinogion: The Tip of My Tongue by Trezza Azzopardi Azzopardi was born in Cardiff to Welsh/Maltese parents. Her first novel The Hiding Place Read More

Wellcome Book Prize 2019: Shadow Panel Shortlist

Since the longlist for the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize was announced, our shadow panel chaired by Rebecca has been reading as many of the books as we could get our hands on. Now we’ve come up with our own shortlist. Drumroll please… In alphabetical order they are: Amateur: A true story about what makes a Read More

Meet the Karenins

Monsieur Ka by Vesna Goldsworthy Back in 2016 I really enjoyed reading Vesna Goldsworthy’s first novel, Gorsky, which updated The Great Gatsby to contemporary Chelsea, aka Chelski due to the influx of Russians. Gatsby became Gorsky and Nick became Nikola – a Serbian bookseller. It was brilliantly done, delivering the doomed romance with great wit Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them… #2

I’ve consulted my master spreadsheet again to bring you some more of my capsule reviews from my pre-blog years. Again, these are all from 2006 or before… Bringing Out the Dead by Joe Connelly This autobiographical novel is relentless, I read it in two sessions, only ending the first as I was completely drained. A Read More

Remembering ‘Mr Preview’

No Minor Chords: My Days in Hollywood by André Previn When André Previn died just a month short of his 90th birthday a couple of weeks ago, the world of music lost one of its real nice guys. I immediately dug out my copy of his Hollywood memoir which was published back in 1991 to Read More

Wales Readathon #1

The Wales Readathon, aka Dewithon is being hosted by Paula at Book Jotter. It’s running throughout March. Having plenty of books by Welsh authors on my shelves it’s a great opportunity to help the TBR piles, if only a little! I hope to read at least two titles, the first of which is below: The Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Arsonist

Hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in titles will take you to my reviews. So without further ado, our starting book this month is … The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper Sadly, this book isn’t out in the Read More

Wellcome Reading #3 – Turing

Murmur by Will Eaves Having read the two entries on the Wellcome Book Prize longlist that I was assigned to (see here and here), I looked to the library to find another and managed to get my hands on Oxfordshire Libraries’ only copy of Murmur. Let me say straight away, given that Alan Turing recently Read More

Shiny linkiness

Graceland by Bethan Roberts It takes courage to fictionalise the life of real people, and to take on someone as famous as Elvis is a challenge. Roberts succeeds in examining the relationship between Elvis and his mother in this fabulous novel, that brings both the man and Gladys to life. Loved it! Read my full Read More

Wellcome Reading 2019 #2 Trauma

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein When I picked this book to read from the Wellcome Book Prize longlist for 2019, I had no idea what an amazing person we would meet within its pages. I just knew that it was the story of a woman who runs a trauma cleaning business in Australia, where Read More

Burne-Jones at Tate Britain

A quick trip to London yesterday to catch the last week of the Edward Burne-Jones exhibition at Tate Britain. (It finishes on 24th – so go now!) Beyond the best-known paintings such as The Golden Stairs and Laus Veneris (above), there was much to take in and admire in the seven rooms of paintings. Here’s a Read More

Wellcome reading 2019 #1 – Polio

Polio: The Odyssey of Eradication by Thomas Abraham In 1988, the World Health Organisation (WHO) together with UNICEF and Rotary International launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). The aim was to rid the world of the polio virus by 2000. Little did they know that it would take billions of dollars and thirty years Read More