Oranges are not the only fruit

Winterson’s powerful debut novel

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson I don’t know how I’ve managed to escape reading Winterson’s debut – I’ve read (and loved) her autobiography Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, (reviewed here), and I very much enjoyed the TV adaptation of this book with Geraldine Fitzgerald playing the fearsome mother. Read More

Throw Away Unopened

Shiny Linkiness

I don’t always have time to link to my reviews over at Shiny New Books, but I have to share this one far and wide. Viv Albertine’s second volume of memoir was published in April. I saw her talk about it at the Faber Spring Party, and she was funny and lovely, and through writing, Read More

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Can you cheat fate?

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin I’ve been itching to read this novel due to its clever premise since I first got my hands on a copy. I’ve finally made time for it. How long would you live your life if you knew the day you were going to die? This is the central question, emblazoned Read More

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20 Books of Summer #6 & #7 – Gavalda & Bourdouxhe for #WITMonth

A double-pronged duo today. I can cross off books 6 & 7 from my 20 Books of Summer list and they are both translated from the French by women translators and thus perfect for Women in Translation month, which is hosted by Meytal at Biblibio every August. Billie by Anna Gavalda Translated by Jennifer Rappaport Read More

Six Degrees Atonement

Six Degrees of Separation: Atonement

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Our starting book this month is … Atonement by Ian McEwan Shocking, I know – but I’ve not read it!  I have seen the film though – and one Read More

Last Chance Hotel

Agatha Christie meets Harry Potter in a fantasy whodunnit…

The Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton I knew that this debut novel for 8-12-year-old children would be something special, as Nicki won the  Times Children’s Fiction Competition in 2016 with this book. Part of the prize was to be published by children’s book specialists, Chicken House, run by Barry Cunningham (who used to work Read More

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Review catch-up:

Playing review catch-up, I have three rather different books for you today… Don’t Skip Out on Me by Willy Vlautin It’s ages since I read this book which I got from the Faber spring party where Vlautin, who is in a band too, sang and played his guitar for the audience. Since then, the film Read More

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Paris in July 2018 take two: Simenon & Laurain

Two short reviews for my second contribution to Paris in July – an annual tag hosted by Thyme for Tea which I love doing each year. A Man’s Head by Georges Simenon Translated by David Coward A Man’s Head was the ninth Maigret novel, originally published in 1931, I read David Coward’s 2014 translation in the new Penguin Read More

Hamid Miralles

20 Books of Summer #4 & #5 – Hamid and Miralles

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid Hamid’s 2017 Man Booker Prize and Rathbones Folio 2018 shortlisted novel is difficult to categorise.  At face value it is a classic boy meets girl, boy loses girl variant, a fable-style romance set in a contemporary Asian city that is not yet at war.  On another level, it is about Read More

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Paris in July 2018 – Vernon Subutex returns…

Paris in July is an annual tag hosted by Thyme for Tea which I love doing each year.  Here’s my first contribution… Vernon Subutex 2 by Virginie Despentes Translated by Frank Wynne This is a sequel to Vernon Subutex 1, which was a real discovery for me in 2017 – you can read my review here.  Read More

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I Spy…

Despite the big pile of books I have to review, I can’t resist a tag/meme/challenge (whatever you prefer to call them), and I found this one by Chris at Calmgrove via Helen at She Reads Novels. The I Spy challenge is very simple: Find a book that contains (either on the cover or in the title) an Read More

Forster and Bannan

20 Books of Summer #3 & #4: Young protagonists

What a Way To Go by Julia Forster I couldn’t resist the cover of this book – it was the ghetto blaster (as we called boomboxes then) on the front and cassette tapes on the back that took me right back to around 1979 when I bought one with my holiday job pay from the Read More

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Events with Books

Back to normal posting soon – I’ve lots of book reviews to catch up on! But here are the bookish events I’ve been at recently… The Last Chance Hotel Book Launch Firstly – the launch party for friend, former bookseller, and now published author Nicki Thornton, whose book for older children (8-11) The Last Chance Read More

Paddy Clarke ha ha ha

Comedy and the Booker Prize

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle Over at Shiny New Books, it has been ‘Booker Week’ – a decade by decade review of (nearly) all the winning titles and some that missed out on the prize. One of my contributions was to re-read and review Roddy Doyle’s winner – Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Read More

Devil in White City

Book Group Report: ‘White’

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson While a spirited pitch for Hari Kunzru’s White Tears was made when we selected our ‘white’ book, we went to a draw and this book from 2003 came out of the hat. Subtitled ‘Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America’, Larson’s book is Read More

Italian Girl

Another dose of Murdoch…

The Italian Girl by Iris Murdoch After being the only person to sort of enjoy parts of The Black Prince (reviewed here) at our book group last month, I was slightly wary of reading another of her novels so soon. But the Great Iris Murdoch Readalong hosted by Liz Dexter was up to her 1964 novel The Read More

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Missing Pieces Blog Tour

I’m delighted to be one of the last stops on the Agora (the new name of Ipso books) blog tour for: Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson This novel was rescued from Ipso Books’s slush pile by an intern, which turned out to be a jolly good thing, for Missing Pieces is an engaging summer read Read More

Salt Lane

Darkness at Dungeness…

Salt Lane by William Shaw This is the first book by William Shaw that I’ve read – he is the author of three crime novels set in the 1960s known as the ‘Breen & Tozer’ trilogy (watch out though – they have different titles in the US and UK, and there are now four in Read More

Concrete Island

20 Books of Summer #2 – a modern day Robinson Crusoe?

Concrete Island by J G Ballard Ballard’s slim novel from 1973 is his own bleak take on Robinson Crusoe being marooned on a desert island.  However, this being Ballard, he has found a way of subverting Crusoe by marooning his protagonist in the middle of a very busy world. Concrete Island is a controlled and Read More

Rites of Passage

The 1980 Booker Prize winner…

Rites of Passage by William Golding Golding’s book divided the Booker judges initially, as it was the first part of a planned trilogy, (the other two volumes were published several years later). Could the prize be given to a part work?  Of course it could – and that has happened several times since in Booker Read More

Best of Beryl

The Booker Bridesmaid & the Best of Beryl

I wrote this piece for Shiny New Books’s Booker Celebrations week – coming to you at the beginning of July, where it’ll be included in a post about many of the wonderful novels that were shortlisted for the Booker Prize but didn’t win. I thought I’d share it here first though… Beryl Bainbridge – Shortlisted Read More

Schimmelpfennig

A novel with a rather long title…

One Clear Ice-cold January Morning at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century by Roland Schimmelpfennig Translated by Jamie Bulloch The worst thing about this book is its cumbersome title – which is actually the beginning of the novel’s first sentence, which continues thus: …just after daybreak, a solitary wolf crossed the frozen river marking the Read More

LBD OK

Two books about fashion and design…

Vogue Essentials: The Little Black Dress by Chloe Fox This book arrived and I couldn’t stop myself from immediately becoming totally immersed in it. The idea is simple – stunning photography from the Vogue archive – from Beaton to Demarchelier via Bailey, models Shrimpton on the cover to Moss and Lily Cole, plus Coco Chanel Read More

Our Souls at Night

20 Books of Summer #1 – Why have I never read Kent Haruf before?

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf Over the years, so many people have sung the praises of Kent Haruf, but he remained undiscovered for me until I got one of his novels at a book sale – then it sat on the shelf until I picked it up for this years 20 Books of Read More

Educated Miss Laila

Review Catch-up…

Life is rather busy, and I’m terribly behind on my reviews. So here is a batch of reviews and links for you… Educated by Tara Westover This memoir of growing up in an unconventional setting and how the author escaped to discover the world outside was absolutely compelling reading, Westover grew up off-grid in Idaho, Read More

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Book Group report: ‘Black’

The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch Our book group has never tackled Murdoch, although back in the day before I joined, they read John Bayley’s memoir of his wife, Iris, so I’m told. Several of us had read various novels by Iris Murdoch before  – indeed I read a whole bunch back in the late Read More