Winterson’s powerful debut novel

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson I don’t know how I’ve managed to escape reading Winterson’s debut – I’ve read (and loved) her autobiography Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, (reviewed here), and I very much enjoyed the TV adaptation of this book with Geraldine McEwan playing the fearsome mother. Read More

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

Wellcome Book Prize Blog Tour

Today, it’s mine and Paul’s (Halfman, Halfbook) turn on the Wellcome Book Prize Blog Tour. Each day two bloggers are covering one of the books on the shortlist for this prize which will be announced on Monday. One will review, the other will host an extract, so head over to Paul’s blog (Halfman, Halfbook) to read a 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

Get ‘Educated’ in Abingdon

Coming soon – an evening with Tara Westover The next book I’ll be reading will be Educated by Tara Westover (right). Published this week, Tara’s memoir is of growing up off-grid in the hills of Idaho sounds fascinating. Her father spent his time preparing for the end of the world, her mother worked as an unqualified Read More

The Beautiful Young Things behaved so badly…

  Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh This was our book group choice this month. Unfortunately we ended up not meeting to discuss it, but the emails swapped afterwards confirmed one thing – none of us loved it, and most found it a perplexing bore. This is strange for I’ve read several other Waughs over the Read More

Ranking Persephones…

While I haven’t managed to read a Persephone book so far during the Persephone Readathon hosted by Dwell in Possibility blog, I have been inspired by Simon’s recent post in which he ranks the Persephone books he has read, which is an amazing 57!  At the end of his post he says ” I’d love it if Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Lincoln in the Bardo

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. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders …is our starting point this month.  Lots of ways to go from here – US Presidents obviously, and having looked Read More

Back in the Panhandle…

  Why Stuff Matters by Jen Waldo I loved Jen Waldo’s first novel, Old Buildings in North Texas which I reviewed for Shiny New Books here (with a Q&A with Jen here).  In it, Olivia, a wise-cracking cocaine addict, is sent back home to Caprock in the Texas panhandle, under her mother’s control as rehab.  Read More

Review catch-up!

I’ve rather a large pile of unreviewed books I read in 2017 to catch up on, so today I have some shorter reviews for you… When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi I love medical memoirs, especially surgeon’s tales, but occasionally a book will come along that will knock you sideways. When Breath Becomes Air 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

Some recent reads in short…

It’s catch-up time again… Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre  While I loved Lemaitre’s Verhoeven trilogy and last year’s superbly creepy Blood Wedding, Three Days and a Life was a slight disappointment. It’s still an excellent suspense novel, but lacks the elements of surprise and immediacy that his others have shown.  It has Read More

It’s the 1968 Club – #2

Chocky by John Wyndham It’s been too long since I read or re-read any John Wyndham novels. I’m sure I have read Chocky before, but to be honest it must have been decades ago and I couldn’t remember anything that wasn’t in the blurb, so I started afresh with this short novel in its latest Read More

Second novel blues? Only the cover!

All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker Former financial trader Chris Whitaker’s first novel Tall Oaks (which I reviewed here) was a confident debut – a tale of small town American life with a great cast of characters surrounding the central mystery of a missing child. It’s been nominated for the CWA John Creasey New Read More

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

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Pride & Prejudice

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. Pride & Prejudice I was desperate to find a non-Austen, non-Colin Firth link but struggled for a while until i came up with (what IMHO) is a cracker. Read More

20 Books of Summer: Books 2 & 3 – experimental

Because I have such a backlog of books to write about, I’ll combine books 2 & 3 of my pile of 20 Books of Summer (see the full list here) into one post… Ablutions by Patrick de Witt Canadian, Patrick de Witt is the author of one of my favourite novels – The Sisters Brothers Read More

A novel life in a day…

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf I’ve been meaning to read Mrs Dalloway for years and years. It’s one of those novels that has influenced so many others that I feel I should read it. However, I will admit I find the idea of Woolf challenging, (only having previous toyed with Orlando).  What made me finally 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

Golden Age crime inspired by Austen…

Darkness at Pemberley by T. H. White On July 18th, it’s the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen. At Shiny New Books, we’re planning posts for every day that week. I’m far from being an Austen scholar, but I do seem to have read my fair share of prequels, sequels and other novels 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

‘Don’t go breaking my heart…’

Fragile Lives by Professor Stephen Westaby I love doctors’ memoirs and those of surgeons in particular. Stephen Westaby’s contribution to the oeuvre, while I’m not accusing him in any way of lacking humanity – far from it, his book is full of emotion and care for his patients – his approach to the challenge of 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

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

Meanwhile, over at Shiny…

I have two reviews from the past couple of weeks, I haven’t shared here yet… The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott Jake Arnott’s novels are moving back in time. He started in the 1960s and 1970s with his Long Firm trilogy, (the first of which I reviewed here), then he moved back to WWII followed Read More

Shiny Linkiness

I can promise more reviews before Christmas, but in the mean time, here are some more links to my reviews in the latest issue of Shiny New Books… Old Buildings in North Texas by Jen Waldo This compact novel had me chortling from the first page. Olivia is a recovering from a heart attack and Read More

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

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