Indie Bookshop Week: Katherine Rundell & Lucy Mangan

Each year the bods that run Independent Bookshop Week commission an author to write an essay about books and reading, published as a little single: Philip Pullman, Robert MacFarlane, Julian Barnes, Anne Patchett and Mark Forsyth among them, and initially only available from independent bookshops. These little books have always been a couple of quid Read More

Life as a WPC

On the Line by Alice Vinten We are all fascinated by other peoples’ lives these days. Narrative non-fiction as publishers call the mixture that includes history, politics, biography and memoir – any non-fiction that tells a story. Doctors and surgeons’ memoirs, have been joined by nurses, midwives, chefs, firemen, barristers and more, and now by Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #4

I’ve plundered my master spreadsheet yet again to bring you more of my capsule reviews from my pre-blog years. This batch are all from 2007… Babycham Night: A childhood at the end of the pier by Philip Norman Renowned author and biographer of The Beatles, Philip Norman grew up on the Isle of Wight after Read More

Review Roundup

Catch-up time once again. Some shorter thoughts on some recent reads… The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon I read this as a buddy read with Rebecca at Bookish Beck – do go and read her fab post composed mostly from her twitter thoughts chapter by chapter here, so just a few Read More

A perfectly-formed novella

West by Carys Davies West was shortlisted for this year’s Rathbones Folio Prize, and I’m so glad it was, so that when I spotted the new paperback in my local bookshop I bought a copy. In a mere 149 pages, Davies has written a story of epic scale. It’s just superb! Let me tell you Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Murmur

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 … Murmur by Will Eaves I loved Murmur, and was so happy that Read More

An evening with Claire Fuller at Mostly Books

I went to my local indie bookshop in Abingdon, Mostly Books, for a ‘Book Group’ style event with Claire Fuller, (in the middle above) talking about her third novel Bitter Orange, which is now out in paperback. I’ve read and really enjoyed Claire’s previous two books: her debut Our Endless Numbered Days (see here) and second novel Swimming Lessons (here). I’m Read More

Two from the Library – one yeah, one meh…

One of the great things about borrowing books from the library is that you can take a chance on books – which is what I did recently with a whole load of poetry and novels. The only problem then, is that you might not enjoy them all. Here are thoughts on two of them – Read More

A love letter to his wife

About Alice by Calvin Trillin I was going to choose the only other book I’ve read by Trillin for the letter T in my go at Simon’s Twitter tag #AToZofBooks which I’ve enjoyed doing over the past couple of days, but I got distracted by another author. Tepper Isn’t Going Out (reviewed here), which I read back in late 2008, is a comic masterpiece all Read More

The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen Blogtour

I am delighted to be today’s stop on the blogtour for this delightful book. William Woolf is a letter detective. He’s worked at the Dead Letters Depot in East London for eleven years, one of a team of thirty, dedicated to finding the right home for all the letters and packages that arrive with missing, Read More

Crime Panel Event Night at Mostly Books

Last night was a very special event at Mostly Books – the first time I can remember that four wonderful authors crammed into this small shop with as large an audience as could be fitted in! They were: William Shaw – author of the excellent Alexandra Cupidi series of Kentish crime novels (and the Breen Read More

Review Catch-up

I’m so behind on my reviews, here are two shorter ones… Tony Hogan Bought me an Ice Cream Float before he Stole my Ma by Kerry Hudson This debut novel was our book group read this month. The title is rather off-putting, sounding like a C&W ballad, but it is apt – for the main Read More

An evening with Kate Clanchy and her new book

Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me by Kate Clanchy Some of you may know Kate Clanchy’s work from her super comic novel Meeting the English (see here) or her earlier memoir Antigona and Me (see here), about a refugee who became her cleaner and nanny. She has also published books of poetry Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #3

Plundering my capsule reviews from my pre-blog days on my master spreadsheet – a selection from 2007 for you this time. Hullaballoo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai A funny, gentle and very jolly satire on fake holy men and the followers they attract; almost an Indian Life of Brian! Sampath’s family despair of Read More

Review catch-up

On Presence: Essays | Drawings by Peter Reason and Sarah Gillespie Recruiting Peter to the team of Shiny New Books reviewers was a bit of a coup – in fact he approached us. A retired professor, he has a deep interest in the natural world and humanity’s place in the ecology of the planet. His Read More

British Book Award Shortlists

The British Book Awards run by The Bookseller are the publishing industry’s equivalent of the BAFTAs and are affectionately known as The Nibbies. They celebrate the best British writers, books, publishers and bookshops. The Books of the Year are split into the following categories with one overall winner being picked too: Fiction Debut Crime & Read More

More Poetry – Joe Dunthorne & Heidi Williamson

O Positive by Joe Dunthorne No sooner had I started reading my first novel by Joe Dunthorne, the rather fab The Adulterants (reviewed here), than I discovered he had a book of poetry coming out, and I was keen to see more. O Positive with its blood-red lettering on the front cover, is divided into four sections, one for Read More

Doing Things in Threes…

Why Trilogies are More Satisfying Than Series or Mere Sequels This post was inspired by Rebecca’s one about her general wariness of books that continue their stories (read here). I too, am notoriously fickle in continuing to read novels in series even when I loved the first one or two I read. A case in Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Dry

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 Dry by Jane Harper One of the best debut crime novels Read More

Blogtour – Deadland by William Shaw

I’m delighted to be one of the stops today for the Blogtour celebrating the publication of Deadland, the second Alexandra Cupidi crime novel from William Shaw. I read the first novel, Salt Lane reviewed here, in this series last summer. Set mainly in the Kent marshes near Dungeness, not only did Salt Lane fully introduce the Read More

Rathbones Folio Prize shortlist: There There by Tommy Orange

I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the media tour for the Rathbones Folio Prize shortlist. Of all the diverse books on the shortlist, There There was the one that shouted out to me to read. I’m very happy to be its champion, for it’s different, timely, fascinating and an all round super read. Orange, Read More

Wellcome Book Prize – Shadow Panel Verdict

Our winner rather crept up on us! From our shadow panel conversations as we read and blogged about the official shortlist, although we all enjoyed this book, only one of the five panel members pegged it as their personal favourite. However, it scored highly enough with everyone to come out on top, beating the book Read More

The 1965 Club – take two…

Before I get on to talking about the second book I read for the 1965 Club hosted by Simon and Karen, I thought I’d look back and see which other books I’ve read published that year – there are only a handful, and they are (title links will take you to my reviews): Georgy Girl Read More

Wellcome Book Prize Blog Tour – Amateur

I’m delighted to be part of the Wellcome Book Prize 2019 Blog Tour. Having followed this prize closely for several years now, and participating on the Shadow panel for my second year, I can truly say that this particular literary prize has opened up my mind to consider books outside my scientific comfort zone, and Read More

Blogtour – Under the Rock by Benjamin Myers

Ever since Rebecca reviewed this book in hardback for Shiny (see here), I’ve wanted to read it, (and Myers’s prize-winning novel Gallows Pole which I already had on my shelf). Now out in paperback, in Under the Rock, subtitled ‘Stories carved from the land’, Myers boldly combines nature writing with history, psycho-geography, photography and poetry Read More