Living on the Edge

Outskirts by John Grindrod Like the author, I am a 1970s product of the Croydon/Surrey borders, so I was particularly interested to read this book, which is part memoir, part history of the Green Belt. Grindrod grew up in a postwar estate that was added to Croydon’s south-eastern outskirts, and in this estate, he lived Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: A Christmas Carol

Better late than never – here’s my go this month.  Hosted 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 … A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Dickens’ classic tale of redemption at Christmas. I could have Read More

The Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year 2018 Bloggers Event

Last year I was privileged to be on the official Shadow Judges Panel for this super award – you can read about my experiences here. One of the key events in the awards calendar each year is the Bloggers Event which is held at the Groucho Club in London, and I was delighted to be Read More

The immigrant experience in a North London estate

In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne Gunaratne’s novel was longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, but sadly didn’t make the shortlist. It has now been shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize – an award that celebrates creatively daring fiction. Daring it is, for never have I read a book where the dialogue 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

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

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

Six Degrees of Separation: The Tipping Point

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 the non-Fiction bestseller… The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell This book, first published in 2000, (which I reviewed here in 2009) was one of Read More

20 Books of Summer 2018

Hosted again by Cathy at 746 Books – her 20 Books of Summer challenge is one I’d followed for a few years, finally taking part last year – I managed 11 out of my pile of 20.  I shall try to better that this summer.  This morning I have picked my pile of twenty books Read More

A Wild Swans for this generation?

Once Upon a Time in the East by Xiaolu Guo It is inevitable that Guo’s memoir, which was shortlisted this year for the Rathbones Folio Prize (which I wrote about here), will be compared with Jung Chang’s brilliant family history and memoir Wild Swans, with Guo adding her story as a young woman from the Read More

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

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

The Power of Fairy Tales: Marina Warner & Sally Gardner

Once Upon a Time by Marina Warner Subtitled ‘A short history of fairy tale’, Warner’s compact volume belies its small size. It’s a tiny hardback, but within its 200 or so pages, the author recounts the rich history behind the beloved fairy tales we all know from their most common (often arguably via Disney film Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Beauty Myth

  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. Click on the titles to go to my reviews.  Our starting book this month is the feminist classic: The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf Wolf’s  bestselling Read More

The Second Outing for the Anti-Miss Marple in Sicily…

  Auntie Poldi and the Fruits of the Lord by Mario Giordano Translated from the German by John Brownjohn I was delighted to encounter the first Auntie Poldi book last year. The adventures of an irrepressible sixty-year-old German lady who retires to her late ex-husband’s ancestral home in Sicily, hoping to “fulfil one of her dearest Read More

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

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  The Ecco Book of Christmas Stories In the run up to Christmas, I’ve been reading short stories from this Canadian anthology, selected and introduced by Alberto Manguel. I thought I’d quote from some of them for Christmas Day, however,  be warned – most of these Christmas stories only have fleeting happy moments (which has Read More

Two excellent thrillers – Moskva and The Ice

Moskva by Jack Grimwood You may know Grimwood through his literary novel The Last Banquet written as John Grimwood, or his fantasy/crime novels written as Jon Courtenay Grimwood. I’ve not read any of them, although I do own The Last Banquet, which I remember was very well received. It’s certainly going up my pile, having Read More

The Princess Bride turns 30!

Although Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman’s novel preceded the film, my first experience of romantic comedy fairytale The Princess Bride (1987) was on a small screen. I missed it at the cinema as it came out during a period in which I rarely went – but I did rent the VHS video from my local blockbuster – those Read More

The Importance of Music to Girls

By Lavinia Greenlaw I adore books that cover musical memories from the 1970s and 1980s, the formative years of my teens and twenties. The 1970s in particular, despite all the horrors they’ve thrown up since, are my musical heartland. Lavinia Greenlaw is a poet and author and is just a couple of years younger than Read More

10 Random Books meme

Simon has resurrected an old meme – in which you pick 10 random books from your library and use them to tell readers about yourself. Here are Simon’s original rules: 1.) Go to your bookshelves… 2.) Close your eyes. If you’re feeling really committed, blindfold yourself. 3.) Select ten books at random. Use more than Read More

“More rabbit than Sainsburys”*…

Fluffy by Simone Lia You might think that a comic about a little bunny rabbit who thinks a chap called Michael is his father is going to be a piece of fluff.   Well, you’d be wrong! Simone Lia was going to be a children’s illustrator, but she met Tom Gauld (whose graphic novel Mooncop I 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

Graham Greene for the 1951 Club

The 1951 Club… …is the fourth in Simon and Karen’s reading years series – and I must say, I’m looking forward to the next decades!  1951 produced a plethora of books on my shelves. I could pick from Asimov, Bradbury or Wyndham in SF&F and there was Mitford’s Blessing, Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel, Taylor’s A Read More

Busy, busy, busy… and meanwhile at Shiny…

My poor blog – I’ve been neglecting it of late, life’s been so busy!  The next couple of weeks should be easier, although my priority will be supporting my daughter in her GCSE revision. Still, we did manage to get to IKEA earlier this week, and I now have a rather lovely new armchair/rug/coffee table Read More

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Room

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, this meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six steps. This month’s starting point is: Room by Emma Donaghue This is a book that I haven’t read (nor have a particular desire to read). However, if the movie adaptation came on Read More

Bookish Delights

Yesterday I was delighted to be invited to attend a bloggers afternoon at the Groucho Club hosted by literary agents PFD to meet and hear some of the authors shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times/Peters Fraser Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award – and you couldn’t hope for a more diverse collection of literary styles 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