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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

‘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

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

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 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

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 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 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 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 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, 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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