Last Chance Hotel

Agatha Christie meets Harry Potter in a fantasy whodunnit…

The Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton I knew that this debut novel for 8-12-year-old children would be something special, as Nicki won the  Times Children’s Fiction Competition in 2016 with this book. Part of the prize was to be published by children’s book specialists, Chicken House, run by Barry Cunningham (who used to work Read More

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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

Educated Miss Laila

Review Catch-up…

Life is rather busy, and I’m terribly behind on my reviews. So here is a batch of reviews and links for you… Educated by Tara Westover This memoir of growing up in an unconventional setting and how the author escaped to discover the world outside was absolutely compelling reading, Westover grew up off-grid in Idaho, Read More

Gringa

A return to Joe Thomas’s Sao Paulo

Gringa by Joe Thomas At around this time last year, I read the first in a new crime series set in Sao Paulo (reviewed here for Shiny).  Joe Thomas lived and taught in São Paulo, the most populous city in the Americas and Southern Hemisphere, for ten years. His observations and experience of living in this Read More

Dard Tag Elsie

Two Short Novels in Translation

One of my ‘Try Harder’ targets this year is to read more in translation. I got the year off to a good start with these two short novels… Bird in a Cage by Frédéric Dard Translated from the French by David Bellos I discovered Dard just over a year ago, when the lovely people at Read More

nutshell bilodo

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

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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

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Year End Review #1: My best discoveries of 2017

  The best authors who were ‘New to me’ in 2017 Today in the first part of my review of the year, I’m going to highlight the new to me authors, several of whom have been writing for years, that have made themselves must-reads for the future. It’s inevitable, but my first discoveries are three 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

SHADOW JUDGE WOB

The PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 2017 – Shadow Judges’ winner!

It’s been a busy month since the members of Shadow Judges panel for this year’s Young Writer of the Year Award received our parcels of the five shortlisted book (above).  Clare, Dane, Eleanor, Rebecca and I have read the lot, blogged about them, discussed them between ourselves and some of us got to meet most of Read More

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PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year shortlist – Sara Taylor

The Lauras by Sara Taylor I do love a road-trip novel, as long as it’s not On the Road, which I dutifully read and yawned through in my twenties. I feel like I’ve read a lot of American road-trip novels – but it appears the majority were pre-blog including Lolita, Fear and Loathing in Las Read More

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Young Writer of the Year Award 2017 – First thoughts…

Well, the Shadow Panel is truly underway. We even got namechecks in The Sunday Times which was a lovely surprise. Now we have the hard task of getting down to the reading. I thought I’d post some very preliminary thoughts about each book. I’ve dipped into them all briefly – and finished one – can Read More

SHORT STORIES TWITTER6

Young Writer of the Year Award 2017 shortlist

After posting earlier this week about my involvement on this year’s shadow panel, today I am delighted to be able to share the shortlist of five books, one of which will win the PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award for 2017. Without further ado, they are: Minoo Dinshaw: Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Read More

Anna Karenina

Starting Anna Karenina again

In my teens, around the time of the wonderful BBC adaptation of War & Peace with Anthony Hopkins as Pierre, and ITV’s Anna Karenina with Nicola Pagett as the doomed heroine, I went through a real Russian phase in my reading. We had copies of most of the Russian greats already in the house as Read More

Monte Carlo

The glamour of the Grand Prix – it’s not real life…

Monte Carlo by Peter Terrin Translated from the Dutch by David Doherty Before I tell you more about this exquisite short novel by Dutch author, Peter Terrin, I’d like to expound briefly on the glamour of the Monaco Grand Prix – it is the one we all love to see, raced over the streets of Read More

Gentleman moscow towles

Towles’ entrancing second novel…

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles Amor Towles’ debut novel Rules of Civility (reviewed here) was one of the best books I read in 2011. Although Towles graduated in English back in the late 1980s, he worked as an investment professional for over twenty years before publishing his first novel. This book was a Read More

name of the family

Meanwhile at Shiny…

…I’ve had several reviews published recently. In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant Sarah Dunant’s latest novel chronicles the last year of Pope Alexander VI’s life. He was, of course, head of the Borgia family in Renaissance Italy. His mad and vicious soldier son Cesare, and daughter about to be thrice-married Lucrezia complete Read More

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Over at Shiny New Books

Harriet and I are beginning to settle into our new routine over at Shiny New Books. We are now publishing new content each Tuesday and Thursday (with occasional other days in the mix to accommodate blog tours etc.). If you don’t have time to visit regularly, why not sign up to the newsletter to receive Read More

Fates and furies

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Fates and Furies

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, this meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six steps. (Here’s my one for last month.) This month the starting book is Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. Fates and Furies is a novel I’ve yet to read. If you look at the Read More

The Reader on the 6-27

I’m still reviewing books read in 2016…

With concentrating on best of posts after Christmas, I got seriously behind reviewing books the I’d read, so here is a ‘twofer’ finishing up my fiction list and leaving just one non-fiction book read in 2016 left to review… The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent Translated by Ros Schwartz Guylain Vignolles is a Read More

revolutionary-road

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Revolutionary Road

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, this meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six steps. (Here’s my one for last month – Never Let Me Go to Electricity by Ray Robinson). This month the starting book is Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Now this is a Read More

stolen-time

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

Clara Vine 4

Clara Vine 4 – War Threatens…

Faith and Beauty by Jane Thynne I was so glad that Jane Thynne extended her Clara Vine series of books beyond the original planned trilogy. This series, centred in 1930s Berlin, with heroine Anglo-German actress-spy Clara, are so thrilling – each addition becomes a must-read for me. You can catch up on my thoughts about the previous Read More

Hen who dreamed

Two novellas for WIT month

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang Translated by Chi-Young Kim, Illustrations by Nomoco This Korean novella has been a huge bestseller and it’s easy to see why. For a start, the cover is divine, the book is physically lovely with French flaps, and Nomoco’s illustrations preface each chapter. All that before you get Read More

solomon creed

One for Jack Reacher fans…

Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne Former TV executive, Toyne, is the author of the Sancti trilogy of apocalyptic conspiracy thrillers which, now I’ve read his new book, I’m keen to explore – they sound so much better than Dan Brown. For me, a good thriller is the perfect palate cleanser between more literary fare. The number Read More

lingua franca

‘What’s in a name?’

Lingua Franca by William Thacker William Thacker? That name sounds familiar… a little digging and he was revealed as Hugh Grant’s character in Notting Hill. Whether William Thacker, author likes sharing his name with the film character, I’ll probably never know … but this William Thacker is a name to watch out for, especially as Read More

Bilodo

The art of haiku and unrequited love…

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault Translated by Liedewy Hawke I‘ve been meaning to read this bittersweet novella ever since Hesperus Press published it in England last autumn. Read now, it made a perfect palate-cleanser between some heavier reads for the new issue of Shiny New Books (out on Thursday 8th Read More

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What did I read pre-blog?

I’ve been doing some maintenance on my master spreadsheet. It contains a record of every book I’ve read since 2007 and some from earlier. I used to write capsule reviews on it – I was able to refer back to my one on Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle just the other day Read More

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The Return of Clara Vine

A War of Flowers by Jane Thynne I am a big fan of the wartime adventures of Anglo-German actress and British spy Clara Vine’s first two outings in Black Roses and The Winter Garden, so I was delighted to get stuck into the third volume of Jane Thynne’s series to see what happened next to Clara. In the Read More