Novellas in November – Part 2

Running Wild by J.G. Ballard This beautifully crafted novella published in 1988 concerns one of Ballard’s favourite themes – life in a community that walls itself away from the rest of the world. It is set in an exclusive housing estate of just ten houses, each on a large plot. The estate is gated, has Read More

Shiny Linkiness: Aug into Sept

Over the past few weeks, I’ve reviewed three cracking new novels for Shiny New Books… … Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale Gale’s latest is just lovely. This novel is a wonderful blend of coming of age story, small-town childhood, friendship and finding oneself, bound up with a love of music, cello music in Read More

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 McEwan playing the fearsome mother. Read More

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

Review catch-up!

I’ve rather a large pile of unreviewed books I read in 2017 to catch up on, so today I have some shorter reviews for you… When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi I love medical memoirs, especially surgeon’s tales, but occasionally a book will come along that will knock you sideways. When Breath Becomes Air Read More

A book I read pre-blog … and Philip Pullman

Clockwork by Philip Pullman In a wonderful interview and Q&A  article in the Guardian on Sunday (do go and read it), author Sarah Perry asks Pullman what he’d most like to be remembered for, and his reply is his novella Clockwork. Then children’s author SF Said then asks why Clockwork?  Pullman replies: It is the most perfectly Read More

Review catch-up

I am still behind on my reviewing, even though I seem to have unlocked my reviewer’s block – so today, I have a trio of short reviews for you… The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick This is a rare case for me of having seen the film before I read the book. I loved Read More

Three Short Novels – Simenon – Fitzgerald – Johnston

Georges Simenon – The Grand Banks Café Translated by David Coward Maigret and Mrs Maigret are about to go on holiday. Mrs Maigret is packing as Maigret reads a letter that’s arrived from an old friend. “…Listen, are you still set on passing our week’s holiday in Alsace?” She stared at him, not understanding. The Read More

20 Books of Summer #5 & 6 – Robinson & Offill

Forgetting Zoë by Ray Robinson I loved Robinson’s first two novels, Electricity and The Man Without (see here). Both followed the lives of troubled young people; very immediate, very British and very touching. With his third novel published in 2010, he did something rather different. In Forgetting Zoë, he moved his storytelling to the USA/Canada, and gives Read More

Getting ‘the day that went missing’ back

The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard Earlier this month I wrote about an evening with Richard Beard at my local indie bookshop, it was a very special experience for an author event. I went away from the evening with my signed copy of his new book of memoir and started reading it there Read More

Wellcome Book Prize Tour – Mend the Living

  Today, I’m delighted to be the first stop on the blog tour for the Wellcome Book Prize 2017. This year’s winner will be announced in London on Monday 24th April – sadly I won’t be able to go to the ceremony – I’ll be doing my first aid training at school, instead of getting Read More

A dead-pan but touching graphic novel …

Mooncop by Tom Gauld Mooncop is a short graphic novel which can be ‘read’ in 10 minutes with its 96 pages, many of which have no text at all. It’s worth taking much more time over though to savour the  wit and  pathos behind  the  simple yet complex drawings.  I  finished it the first time Read More

4 3 2 1 – Go! At last, a review…

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster This is the book I’ve been most excited about since I got my hands on it before Christmas, yet, it has taken until now to review it. My reading of this wonderful, ‘big fat book’ (Auster’s words) has history: I was invited to join an online book group Read More

Why being ‘Messy’ is good for you…

Messy by Tim Harford Tim Harford is a senior columnist at the Financial Times but radio listeners may know him from his programme on BBC Radio 4 – More Or Less – in which he explores, explains and debunks the statistics in everyday life.  His programme is one of my favourites. (Try this episode in Read More

A Talking Head talks about music

How Music Works by David Byrne This book was the highlight of my splurge of non-fiction reading in December. David Byrne, founder and idiosyncratic front man of Talking Heads – one of the best punky/art-rock bands there has ever been, friend and collaborator with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp amongst others, could never be expected Read More

Weekend Bookishness

It’s been a busy month – and some, so I’m glad that school breaks up at the end of next week (although I have two or three more days work to do on the school magazine after that). However, part of that busy-ness has been the Christmas edition of Shiny New Books. In The Eds Read More

‘Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’.’ …

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe in a spectacular pop-up presentation by David Pelham and Christopher Wormell If ever there was a poem that was made for reading aloud, it’s The Raven, Poe’s 1845 masterpiece of rhyme, metre and repetition. (I just adore the rhymes – ‘that is’ and ‘lattice’  in the 6th verse must Read More

Shopgirl – Film & Book

Shopgirl by Steve Martin I adore Steve Martin’s writing – see my review of his tremendous memoir Born Standing Up here, and his 2010 novel An Object of Beauty at my old blog here. I finally got around to reading his first fictional publication Shopgirl, a few weeks ago, and yesterday I watched the film, Read More

AnnaBookBel is 8!

My blog is eight years old today! It started off at Blogspot as Gaskella on September 15th 2008, eventually moving to WordPress. It was still called Gaskella at that stage, but later I changed the title to Annabel’s House of Books. Then, last summer I took the plunge and bought my own domain – annabookbel.net. I paid Read More

Great Characters, Great Adventure, Great Space!

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers This SF novel has been one of the great discoveries of recent years – a self-published kickstarter debut that was picked up by a big publisher and then longlisted for the Baileys Prize earlier this year. The book is now shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Read More

Paris in July: Discovering Antoine Laurain

Paris in July is an annual event hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea – it’s now in its seventh year. I’ve managed to squeeze in a second Parisian read this month… The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain What a discovery this novel and its author were! Feel-good and completely charming, The President’s Hat was the perfect book to Read More

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: Titanic

Every Man For Himself by Beryl Bainbridge My first review for BBRW 2016 is a re-read for me – but no ordinary re-read. The Folio Society has produced a gorgeous new edition of this novel which includes Beryl’s own paintings, the first time her text and paintings have been published together. Every Man For Himself was published in Read More

My gut obsession continues – more food for thought

The Diet Myth by Tim Spector The first book I reviewed this year (Gut by Giulia Enders – review here) was a revelation to me. It created a new obsession – to improve my digestion and gut flora by eating better and hopefully losing some weight along the way. But learning about the anatomy and physiology of the gut Read More

An Atwoodian YA tale…

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill It’s rare that a cover quote on a book cover sums up a novel so completely, but the one from Vagenda on one of the paperback editions of Louise O’Neill’s debut novel is near-perfect: ‘Mean Girls meets The Handmaid’s Tale’ But of course I can’t leave it there! The moment I Read More

Shiny New Books Issue 8

I can’t believe that when our next issue of Shiny New Books comes out at the beginning of April, we will have been going for two whole years! The last issue of our second year is out today and features the winning poem in the first Shiny Poetry  Competition – it’s lovely. Naturally, you’ll find a handful of reviews Read More

The funniest crime novel I’ve read since I discovered Christopher Brookmyre…

One of my lost posts, republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline. Hack by Kieran Crowley If you love Christopher Brookmyre’s Jack Parlabane novels, you’re going to love this one too. Brookmyre’s Quite Ugly One Morning, which I read pre-blog,hooked me from the off – literally from it’s expletive first words! Hack however, begins in a dead-pan manner, Read More

Annabel’s Shelves: A is for…

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Arnott, Jake – The Long Firm Thank you to everyone who suggested authors beginning with ‘A’ for the first read of my Annabel’s Shelves project. Atwood was a very popular suggestion, and I’m sorry to disappoint you but I have Read More

A Graphic Novel Excursion…

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins I read very few graphic novels, but just occasionally one will get my interest – the title of Stephen Collins’s debut book was irresistible. I bought it when it first came out at the end of 2013, but being an A4 sized hardback, it got other books Read More

My Books of the Year 2014 – Part Two – The Blog edit

Yesterday I shared my best reads of 2014 as reviewed for Shiny New Books. Today, I turn my attention to titles reviewed here. The links will return you to my full reviews: – Best Retro-Subversive Laugh-Out-Loud Book Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler So nearly my book of the year, Discovering Scarfolk is just hilarious! Stuck firmly in Read More

Not one, but two reworked fairy tales illustrated by Chris Riddell

I love Chris Riddell’s illustrations and children’s books. Amazingly he has only had one post to himself since I started this blog (see here), although he has featured in several others. Even here, he will be sharing this post with the two authors of some newly published reworked fairy tales… I had put these two Read More