Category Archives: Authors B

The new look Shiny is here!

The new style Shiny New Books is back with new reviews for you We have a new site design and a new way of sharing our content with our readers. We’re changing from our former ‘magazine’ format, in which we published lots of new pages in big batches every couple of months (and giving you too much to read 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 to write a conventional memoir… Read more »

Year end review #3: Books of the Year

At the time of writing, I’ve read 140 titles this year – a record and there’ll be some analysis of them in my year end stats post (I know you look forward to those 😉 ). 2016 may be an annus horribilus on the outside, but inside I’ve had my head stuck in a book for a fantastic year of… Read more »

Two shorter non-fic reviews

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately – including some absolute crackers that deserve a whole post to themselves – and I don’t mind saving them to write about for the new year. Meanwhile, today I have two shorter non-fic reviews for you… Set Phasers to Stun by Marcus Berkmann If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll… Read more »

Poetry I wish I’d pledged to…

You Took the Last Bus Home by Brian Bilston I wish I’d spotted this book on Unbound before it was published – I’d definitely have pledged to it, having seen a few of Bilston’s poems on facebook. So, I bought it for myself anyway and what a treat it is for a rare reader of poetry like me. It’s fair… Read more »

The Bookish Time Travel Tag!

I was tagged in this meme which is on it’s travels around the bookblogs by Kaggsy, but it was started by The Library Lizard. I couldn’t not give it a go… 1. What is your favourite historical setting for a book? If you did the stats on books I’ve read, it would probably come up with the 23rd century! That’s… Read more »

When the American Dream is found out…

The Good Guy by Susan Beale I absolutely adore tales set in 1960s American suburbia. There’s something about the more spacious US setting that grabs me in a way that those set in the cramped English equivalent don’t. They are too close to home for I am a product of the 1960s London suburbs; been there, done that! The Good Guy… Read more »

Women in Translation month – a French novella

Marie by Madeleine Bourdouxhe Translated by Faith Evans This gorgeously produced novella with its stunning cover design is turning into one of the sleeper hits of the summer. The cover stood out in the bookshop and I had to buy it – luckily the story inside is just as high quality, (read Jacqui‘s review too). This was my first encounter with Belgian-born… Read more »

‘Till we have built Jerusalem, In Englands green & pleasant Land’

The Countenance Divine by Michael Hughes What a gorgeous cover, eh? Many among you will recognise the title of this novel as coming from Jerusalem – the celebrated hymn with words by Blake and music by Parry. In fact, Blake’s words are taken from the preface to a much longer work, Milton, a Poem. The short poem we now know as Jerusalem,… Read more »

Two Mental Health Issue-led YA novels…

Today, I have two slightly shorter reviews for you of YA novels that explore similar themes: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall The pink cover (available in three shades actually, going from medium to full-on shocking pink) does this novel no favours at all. Concentrate instead on the gilded cage and the heart that doesn’t dare to go out of… Read more »

From the archives: Hotels

When I go on holiday with my daughter these days, we usually try to find apartments as we disturb each other just too much sharing a room!  But, of course, many of my holidays in the past, and probably in future too, will involve staying in a hotel. Many a novel features characters staying in a hotel – here’s a selection… Read more »

Winning the war on holiday…

Third Reich by Roberto Bolano Wanting to join in Spanish Literature Month hosted by Stu and Richard, I grabbed the first book I came to on my shelves which turned out to be my second experience of reading Chilean author Roberto Bolano. My first was reading the confusing and slightly surreal Amulet which I talked about here, my second would… Read more »

“Contains filthy language and immoral behaviour”!

The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill The previous weekend, my daughter was away on a school art trip, so as an antidote to the referendum shock I looked for something to go and see at the theatre. The National Theatre’s new production of The Threepenny Opera was just the ticket – I found an odd seat at the… Read more »

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: Wrap up

This week went so fast! A huge thank you to everyone who joined in, I hope we’ve made some more Beryl converts. A big thank you to Stephen May who told us his rather brilliant anecdote about meeting Beryl too. I’ll add all your reviews to my Reading Beryl page above. Do let me know if I’ve missed you off the list below. Reviews:… Read more »

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine

Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge (1980) Douglas Ashburner is going on holiday. He was surprised that his wife of twenty-six years was happy for him to disappear off to the Highlands for a fortnight’s fishing trip. Leaving her in bed, she waves him goodbye with a ‘queenly gesture of farewell’. Little does she know. His real plans are to fly… Read more »

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: Some notes

I have a wrap-up post planned for tomorrow with links to all your brilliant reviews. Today, a few bits and pieces for you. First, I wanted to mention Huw Marsh’s 2014 book on Beryl in the Writers and their Work series from Northcote House publishers. Marsh is a professor at Queen Mary college, and this is the only easily available… Read more »

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: A Guest Post by Stephen May

I have a real treat for you today in Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week. I was tweeting about the week, when I got a reply from a chap called Stephen May saying “I gave Beryl Bainbridge a piggy back once.” I looked him up, found out that he is the author of several novels – one of which, Wake Up Happy… Read more »

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: An Early Work II

Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge This is Beryl’s second published novel originally published in 1968, which she revised to be republished by Duckworth in 1979, preceding the rewritten version of her earlier novel, A Weekend With Claude. Another Part of the Wood is the story of a holiday from hell. Two families meet up for a cheap… Read more »

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: An Early Novel I

A Weekend With Claude by Beryl Bainbridge This was Beryl’s second novel, but the first to be published in 1967. Her first, Harriet Said, was finally published in 1972. When A Weekend with Claude came out, Beryl was 24, however she radically revised and rewrote it in 1981. It has a dual time-frame with a framing story starting in the book’s… 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 1996, five years after another icy… Read more »