Shiny Linkiness

Eric Idle – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography Yesterday I reviewed Eric Idle’s ‘Sortabiography’ for Shiny.   Read the full review here. He and Michael Palin have always been my favourite Pythons, so I was fascinated to read Idle’s memoir. However, he remains a slippery character – self-deprecating, one who’d rather Read More

‘A Life in Death’

All That Remains by Sue Black As one of the world’s foremost anatomists and forensic anthropologists, Sue Black’s life in death has been full of interest. She has been a professor based at Dundee University for years, and, she was appointed as a Dame in 2016 for services to forensic anthropology and she is a Read More

#ReadingMuriel2018 and the strangest little book!

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark What a strange novella this book is! It’s far from my favourite Spark, but it is possibly the most fascinating. This is because commentators have suggested that it is Spark’s response to the Watergate scandal of 1972 which led to Nixon’s impeachment in August 1974. The story opens 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

Two novellas, vignette style, but oh so different!

I really enjoy a good novella, one-sitting stories. One writing style that seems to particularly suit novellas is a story told in vignettes – each section a paragraph or two, at most a couple of pages. They often cut the story down to the bare bones, leaving you to read much between the lines – Read More

A Timely Thriller…

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan This legal and psychological thriller has been on the receiving end of a lot of hype since its publication a couple of weeks ago. My local bookshop got some advance signed copies in for Christmas, so I got my hands on it early and read it before the 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

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

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 modern novel inspired by Austen

Austenland by Shannon Hale During the week of July 17, Shiny New Books is celebrating Jane Austen. I’ve written a reading list (with help from Elaine) about Austen inspired novels and sequels. A while ago, I shared my full review of Darkness at Pemberley by T.H. White, now here’s Austenland, another book that’ll appear in Read More

Blog Tour – All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

Today, it is my turn on the blog tour for Clare Fisher’s strong debut novel – see the banner at the bottom for all the other ports of call. Fisher’s debut is an interesting take  on a  story we’ve all heard before in which a vulnerable young woman,  who has been bounced from foster home Read More

Meanwhile, at Shiny…

Here are links to my recent posts over at Shiny New Books… Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh This is one of my most-loved TV programmes ever, and the original play is now 40 years old. Penguin have reissued it with a new intro by Leigh – and it still holds up today! Little top up? 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

Two Short Takes

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty I had been planning to read Apple Tree Yard well in advance of the then imminent TV series (preferring to read the book first), but only just made it in time. Suffice it to say, this was a thriller that I raced through in a couple of sessions, finding 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

An assured third novel

All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan This is Irish author Donal Ryan’s third novel, and despite not having read his previous two, it’s clear that he’s an author really getting into his stride for All We Shall Know is both accomplished and a compulsive read. His first novel, The Spinning Heart won major prizes 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

Science vs Magic in a Dystopian World

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders The minute I read the tag-line on the press release for this book, I knew I had to read it: ‘A witch, a scientist and the end of the world’. This novel tries to do something that is not often seen in genre fiction – melding fantasy and Read More

Shiny New Books Issue 8

I can’t believe that when our next issue of Shiny New Books comes out at the beginning of April, we will have been going for two whole years! The last issue of our second year is out today and features the winning poem in the first Shiny Poetry  Competition – it’s lovely. Naturally, you’ll find a handful of reviews Read More

Prim by name and prim by nature …

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera Translated by Sonia Soto I raced through this book – a feel-good romance set in a rather special little Spanish town. Miss Prim, an administrative assistant, decides to apply for a new job: Wanted: a feminine spirit quite undaunted by the world to work as a Read More

The case of the missing disk…

Acts of Omission by Terry Stiastny Thrillers set in the world of modern British politics are not that common compared with those led by the spies who report to the politicians; Acts of Omission is mainly the former. It is the debut novel by a former BBC News reporter who worked in Berlin in the late 1990s and is Read More

The Southern Reach Trilogy – #3

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer What began in Annihilation, follows on in Authority, concludes in Acceptance. Although I’ll give scant details of what happens below, discussing the third part of a trilogy will necessarily reveal small facts you may prefer not to know if you intend to Read More

Dancing the Seasons with Powell #4

Republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost post archive   A Dance to the Music of Time 4: At Lady Molly’s We reach Summer with volume four of Powell’s sequence following the life of Nick Jenkins and his contemporaries.The initial three Spring novels were about growing up and establishing oneself in the world and in The Read More

Dancing the Seasons with Powell #3

Republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost post archive   A Dance to the Music of Time 3: The Acceptance World We come to the third volume in Anthony Powell’s series – the last of the ‘Spring’ books. (If you’d like to catch up with volumes one and two, click accordingly.) The Acceptance World begins with Nick Jenkins meeting Read More

The Southern Reach Trilogy #2

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive   Authority by Jeff Vandermeer I had been planning to eke out my reading of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy over three months but, after the comments on my post about the first volume (see here and third volume here), I couldn’t wait Read More

The Southern Reach Trilogy

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer Having just read Annihilation, the first volume of Vandermeer’s series known as The Southern Reach Trilogy, I think I’m really going to enjoy the other two parts, Authority and Acceptance. This trilogy was published last year – with three months between volumes. They’re lovely Read More

Charlie Mortdecai, volume two

After You With The Pistol by Kyril Bonfiglioli This is going to be a quick post, as you shouldn’t read the second novel in this delightfully Un-PC comedy crime series until you’ve read the first – they follow directly on from each other, but I’m not giving anything away with this quote from near the beginning… To this day Read More

'After the first death, there is no other.' – or is there?

Advantages of the Older Man by Gwyneth Lewis When this short novel popped through the door, I couldn’t resist reading it straight away. Gwyneth Lewis is a poet, author and playwright and I’ve previously read her volume in Seren Book’s New Tales of the Mabinogion series. The Meat Tree is a retelling of the strange and ancient Read More

My first Penelope Fitzgerald read…

At Freddie’s by Penelope Fitzgerald Penelope Fitzgerald is yet another of those lauded middle-brow female novelists from the second half of the twentieth century that I had not yet tackled. I’ve long been a champion of Beryl Bainbridge and Muriel Spark; I’ve added Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Forster, Edna O’Brien, Penelope Mortimer and not forgetting Barbara Read More