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

unnamed (1)

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

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

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

Sue Black

‘A Life in Death’

All That Remains by Sue Black As one of the world’s foremost anatomists and forensic anthropologists, Sue Black’s life in death has been full of interest. She has been a professor based at Dundee University for years, and, she was appointed as a Dame in 2016 for services to forensic anthropology and she is a Read More

Desert Island Books

My new Desert Island Library – 100 Books

I’ve had a tab entitled ‘Desert Island LIbrary‘ on this blog for ages, in which I imagined if I were stranded on a desert island, which books I’d like washed up onto the shore in a waterproof trunk!  I started off writing short takes on the books to go into this trunk – but it Read More

six degrees poisonwood

Six Degrees of Separation: The Poisonwood Bible

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. Click on the titles to go to my reviews where they exist.  Our starting book this month is the chunky literary bestseller: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver This Read More

Rathbones Folio

From one book prize to another: The Rathbones Folio Prize shortlist

One of the younger book prizes, the Rathbones Folio Prize began life as the Folio Prize,  sponsored by the Folio Society in 2014.  The prize money has varied, but is currently £20,000 sponsored by the investment bank, and this year’s winner will be announced on May 8th. The prize has an interesting and unashamedly literary Read More

McBain Berthon Ishiguro

Review Catch-Up – McBain, Berthon, Ishiguro

Driving Lessons by Ed McBain McBain is most famous for his many 57th Precinct novels, but he has written many other books too. This slim book from 1999 was part of a series of novellas from Orion called Criminal Records. Some were published separately, the others anthologised in one volume edited by Otto Penzler. A Read More

Baltic Books Blog Tour

The Baltic Books Blog Tour #2

This year the Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – are celebrating 100 years of independence with new translations of Baltic Books coming to the UK for the first time and a series of cultural events happening across the UK. The Baltics are also being honoured as the Market Focus at London Book Fair Read More

Revenge Lawn

Book Group Report – ‘Green’

  At the moment, our book group chooses books by picking a key word for members to make pitches based on – we’re currently working our way through some colours. For ‘green’ we had a varied group of suggestions: Plot 29 by Allan Jenkins – a memoir about two brothers rescued from care in the Read More

diary bookseller

Bookselling highs and lows…

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell A couple of years ago, my fantasy of buying a bookshop could have come true – one of my local indie bookshops was up for sale. I just about had the money and the shop was ticking along nicely (thanks to the hard work put in by Read More

Six Degrees Lincoln Bardo

Six Degrees of Separation: Lincoln in the Bardo

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders …is our starting point this month.  Lots of ways to go from here – US Presidents obviously, and having looked Read More

BotY1

Year End Review #6: My Books of the Year!

And finally, in my review of my reading year, it’s my Books of the Year. I saved this post for last, because since Christmas, I have just read a book which had to be added to this list. I tried to keep the list to a dozen, but it’s ended up as 14 – but Read More

Nonfiction

Year End Review #3: Non-Fiction

I decided to give Non-fiction it’s own review this year because I’ve read 20 titles – the highest number I’ve read in a year, making up fractionally under 15% of books read. This is a trend I hope to continue, for I’m enjoying non-fiction more these days, but as you’ll see below – the areas Read More

book-piles

2017 in First Lines

This is a fun meme, giving a snapshot of one’s reading through the year – not necessarily an accurate sample, but fun. The title links will take you to my reviews. January:  Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis ‘They made a silly mistake, though,’ the Professor of History said, and his smile, as Dixon watched, gradually Read More

Bollen Destroyers

Hints of The Night Manager meets Mr Ripley …

The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen I enjoyed Bollen’s second novel, Orient (reviewed here) very much indeed. It was a chunky thriller set on Long Island in the incomers versus long-term residents mould, so I awaited his third with great anticipation. I was glad too to see that it came in at just under 500 pages, Read More

Shiny Aug Posts

My August Shiny posts…

This month I wrote quite a few posts for Shiny New Books, here’s a summary of those I haven’t already mentioned: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce Although a more conventionally plotted ‘will they ever get together’ type of romance than the bestselling The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, (see my review of that here), Read More

Levy and Barry

20 Books of Summer #10 & 11 – Levy & Barry

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy This was the book that brought Deborah Levy to wider attention. Her fourth novel, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. Last year I read her latest novel, Hot Milk which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker, (reviewed here), so I was prepared for a challenging Read More

Barbas

Let the children play…

Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba Translated by Lisa Dillman I had forgotten that it was Spanish Literature Month, but just in time a new arrival has allowed me to take part. This novella, by young Spanish author Barba (right), is  published on Aug 3. He is one of Granta’s Best of Young Spanish novelists, Read More

When Eight Bells Toll

For the love of good old-fashioned adventure…

Here’s the thing. Now we’re through the beginnings of the computer age, and are in the global communications age – don’t you think that (most) modern thrillers have got too technological? And with those technological advances, plots become bogged down with it all, there’s so much telling about the technology necessary to explain what’s happening Read More

Forever

A modern classic teen text?

Forever by Judy Blume Blume wrote Forever back in 1975, long before the YA subdivision in children’s publishing had been conceived of.  Her novel of “first love, first sex and first heartbreak” was a brave one then, resulting in it being banned in many schools and libraries. However it became an underground and later mainstream Read More

20-books

20 Books of Summer

This year, rather than do Book Bingo, I’m going to join in with Cathy of 746 Books and do the 20 Books of Summer challenge. I’ve chosen my 20 books. All are books I’ve acquired, not review copies. I make no apology for none of them being chunky – but choosing slimmer volumes, it might Read More

The Day That Went Missing (397x640)

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

The Day That Went Missing

An evening with Richard Beard at Mostly Books

Last night I was at a rather special author event at my local indie bookshop Mostly Books with local(ish) author Richard Beard.  Mark in the shop had long ago persuaded me to buy Beard’s last novel, Goldsmith Prize shortlisted, The Acts of the Assassins, but sadly I’ve not read it yet – I know I’ll have a Read More

Wake up happy hbk

‘It’s not about the money, money, money’ – Oh yes it is!

Wake up Happy Every Day by Stephen May Last year, when I hosted my second Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week, Stephen May wrote a lovely guest post for my blog about the time he met BB and ended up giving her a piggyback!  (Do click HERE to read it.) It was immediately obvious that May is great Read More

Porter and Bonfiglioli

In Short – some capsule reviews

A pair of shorter reviews for you today – both books are short and begin with G. That’s where their similarity ends though, they couldn’t be further apart in their style! Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter This prize-winning book from 2015 is hard to categorise, other than short – it’s as Read More