Review catch-up

In an attempt to clear my pile of yet to be reviewed books, here are some capsule reviews: Beryl Bainbridge by Master Georgie Many consider Bainbridge’s later novel from 1998 to be her best – it won the ‘Best of Beryl Booker Prize’.  Personally, on a first reading, it didn’t do it for me in Read More

Two recent Shiny reviews…

I’m off to London today for the annual PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year blogger’s do at the Groucho (yes, I’m name-dropping), so here are links to my two Shiny reviews this week. Either would make wonderful Christmas presents…. Eye of the Shoal by Helen Scales Marine biologist Scales, having previously written books 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

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

Review catch up – again – and the problem of remembering!

Two shorter reviews of books I read last year…   Nutshell by Ian McEwan I read McEwan’s novel between Christmas and New Year, and the terrible thing is, I know I really enjoyed it. I know it was funny, outrageous and inspired by a quotation from Hamlet, yet I can’t really remember any detail about 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

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

Two shorter reviews – McInerny and Viskic

The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerny I read and reviewed McInerny’s debut, The Glorious Heresies back in January, and although she paints a bleak picture of life for the dispossesed in Cork, the novel fizzed with sweary, gritty humour. I enjoyed it a lot, and was looking forward to The Blood Miracles. One of the Read More

Smoke, mirrors and a little real magic…

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister Books about magicians, circuses, music hall and vaudeville are irresistible to me – especially those featuring magicians.  I recently reviewed Edith and Oliver by Michelle Forbes (click here), which is set in the British Edwardian music-hall and features an ambitious young magician from Belfast. England had its music-hall tradition 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

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: The Slap

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. This month’s starting point is: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas I’ve not read this book, but shall go with nationality of the author as my first link. Read More

The Horrible History of Historical Hospitals

A Cabinet of Ancient Medical Curiosities by J.C. McKeown I’ve been dipping into this book for some weeks since it arrived unannounced, and each time I’ve picked it up it has entertained magnificently. I took heed and  loved the warning at the end of McKeown’s introduction: For best results, read not more than two chapters Read More

Meet Martine McDonagh…

Martine McDonagh is more than a little bit rock ‘n’ roll – she was manager of British indie pop band James for nearly ten years – designed their daisy logo, and sang backing vocals on their big hit ‘Sit down‘. When Myriad editions offered me a copy of her first novel I have Waited and Read More

Three Short Takes

The Wall by William Sutcliffe Although published as a YA title, and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2014, this novel has crossover appeal – and should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand more about Palestine, Israel and the West Bank settlements. Thirteen-year-old Joshua lives in a town called Amarias in the ‘Occupied Read More

This one gave me the creeps…

I See You by Clare Mackintosh I see you. But you do’t see me. You’re engrossed in your book; a paperback cover with a girl in a red dress. I can’t see the title but it doesn’t matter; they’re all the same. If it isn’t boy meets girl, it’s boy stalks girl. Boy kills girl. 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

4 Stories, 13 views…

Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann My first encounter with McCann, this volume contains some of his shorter fiction: a full novella and three short stories of varying lengths. The titular novella has thirteen short chapters, each prefaced by lines from a poem about a blackbird that inspired the title (Thirteen Ways of Looking Read More

Books Are My Bag & a local book sale – My super Saturday book haul

It’s Books Are My Bag BAMB day at independent bookshops in the UK. Each year the BAMB team commission a limited edition bookbag. Last year was Grayson Perry’s typically challenging but great fun design – see right. This year, however, they have commissioned a bag you can take out without having to check which side Read More

More Shiny linkiness …

It’s been a couple of weeks since Issue 3 of Shiny New Books went live, so I thought I’d highlight the other fiction reviews I wrote for it to you – I hope you’ll click through to read the whole pieces… At the moment, we’re busy putting together our Christmas special which will be out Read More

Looking for 'Chap Last'

Thinkless by Sophie McCook It’s not often that I respond to a direct request from an author to review their book, but Sophie McCook wrote me a lovely note and she and her book sounded worth investigating. Thinkless comes from small publisher Limehouse Books in London, and Sophie who is based in Scotland has written for Read More

Ian McEwan at the Oxford Literary Festival

I come to you hotfoot from the Oxford Literary Festival where, in the domed confines of the Sheldonian Theatre, Ian McEwan was presented the Bodley Medal by Richard Ovenden the current Librarian of the Bodleian Library.  Before the presentation of the medal (which is made from copper from the old roof of the Bodleian, and Read More

A screenplay novelisation …

A Million Ways to Die In The West by Seth MacFarlane There’s no denying it – Seth MacFarlane is very talented. Apart from being very handsome, he’s an award winning animator – having worked for Hanna-Barbera after college, he’s the creator of Family Guy, co-creator/producer of American Dad, the comedy film Ted, and he acts/voices Read More

Old heads on young shoulders, and yet …

Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes Narrated by an eighteen year old photographer, MacInnes’ novel captures the essence of what it was like to be a teenager in London in the late 1950s … Mr Wiz continued, masticating his salmon sandwich for anyone to see, ‘It’s been a two-way twist, this teenage party. Exploitation of the Read More

A man walks into a bar…

The Weir by Conor McPherson Occasionally we like to have a different kind of reading experience in our Book Group, and for this month’s read, we chose a play. This particular choice was  prompted by the fact that the father of one of our number was mounting a production later this autumn. Older plays on the Read More

Gone Girl meets The Secret History – not quite, but a good try

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight When a novel sets itself up on the front cover to be compared to Gone Girl (my review here), and in other places I’ve seen it compared to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, it raises the bar rather high… Kate is a hard-working lawyer and single mum to teenage daughter Amelia, Read More

A portrait of a family’s grief …

After Phoenix by Martine McDonagh I really enjoyed Martine McDonagh’s debut novel I Have Waited and You Have Come, which was a dystopian psychodrama, so I was very happy to read her second novel – but it couldn’t be more different to her first. It’s Christmas, December 1973, and we meet the Jacobs family: lefty Read More

Rewarding YA reading for Grown-ups! Let me persuade you…

I’m in my early fifties prime (!) and I’m not afraid to say that I love reading modern YA books now and then … but only good ones, naturally.  By using the term ‘YA’ here, I’m distinguishing them from those books we usually call ‘children’s classics’ (which still appeal to readers young and old alike).  I’m Read More

Q&A with Sophie McKenzie and a giveaway of her latest teen book…

This week the final part of author Sophie McKenzie’s hard hitting ‘Missing‘ trilogy for teens is published. Missing Me completes the story started in Girl, Missing, and continued in Sister, Missing. The books follow the story of Lauren, who is adopted and has always known that. In Girl, Missing, Lauren is fourteen. One day she Read More

A dystopian psychodrama that packs a punch…

I Have Waited, and You Have Come by Martine McDonagh Set in a near future where global warming has wreaked Mother Nature’s revenge on the Earth and made large parts of the globe uninhabitable due to rising water levels, Rachel lives alone in a old mill in the Yorkshire Dales. Jacob used to live with Read More