Review catch-up – Pickett, Knox and Mackesy

As everyone who works in a school knows, the last few weeks of autumn term are simply manic! Normal lessons are interrupted for Nativity rehearsals, carol service rehearsals, trips, other Christmassy events, then the Nativity production itself which was sweet (as ever) and then this weekend we’ve had our staff outing back to back with Read More

Nemirovsky for the 1930 Club

It’s the latest decade reading club hosted by Simon and Karen.    We’re heading back to 1930 this time – a year that doesn’t feature much on my shelves. I have already read and reviewed two prominent books of that year (click on the titles to go to my reviews): Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh and Read More

In Brief:

Catching up on books read with short reviews… Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi Translated by Geoffrey Trousselot A short Japanese novel about time travel set in a café was always going to have to be read by me! It ticks all the boxes on the face of it, and I was hoping Read More

3 shorter reviews – Bissell, Hunter, Ross

Barnhill by Norman Bissell After the end of WWII, George Orwell left London to live in a remote farmhouse on Jura in the Hebrides. It was there at ‘Barnhill’ that he brought together all the ideas that had been fermenting in his brain into the book that became 1984. Bissell’s novel tells the story of Read More

20 Books of Summer #5 & #6 – Greer & Hustvedt

I’d expected to read more books in July than my list shows, having been on ‘school holidays’ since July 5, (although slaving at home on and off for a fortnight on the School magazine). But then I look at my bed – which is where the books I’m reading tend to sit – and there Read More

In short – some recent reads

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan Oh, what a nostalgia trip this book was. There has been so much love for it all over the blogosphere, and quite right too. I rediscovered so many books I’d forgotten, I might even re-read some of them. There were others I’ve never read but would like to – can you Read More

An evening with Claire Fuller at Mostly Books

I went to my local indie bookshop in Abingdon, Mostly Books, for a ‘Book Group’ style event with Claire Fuller, (in the middle above) talking about her third novel Bitter Orange, which is now out in paperback. I’ve read and really enjoyed Claire’s previous two books: her debut Our Endless Numbered Days (see here) and second novel Swimming Lessons (here). I’m Read More

An almost old-fashioned modern gangster novel

The Bothy by Trevor Mark Thomas Someone had warned Tom to stay away from Stephanie’s funeral. A fantastic opening line! I was hooked by this thriller right from the start. I could see it on the big screen in my mind all the way through too. Think of any British gangster film from recent years Read More

RIP XIII: A Dystopian SF Horror Fantasy

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer I just adored Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy (see here). His ability to create a genre-defying, strange but real feeling version of our world is unparalleled, and he does it again with Borne.  The setting is in the future after some kind of devastating event, involving the Company – a mysterious organisation Read More

20 Books of Summer: 8 & 9 – St John Mandel & Ferguson

The Singer’s Gun by Emily St John Mandel After the brilliance that was Station Eleven (reviewed here), I’ve been keen to read more by the Canadian author, finally managing it with this one, her second novel from 2010.  While The Singer’s Gun differs thematically from Station Eleven, Mandel’s style of writing, with its elegant observational 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

Review catch-up:

Playing review catch-up, I have three rather different books for you today… Don’t Skip Out on Me by Willy Vlautin It’s ages since I read this book which I got from the Faber spring party where Vlautin, who is in a band too, sang and played his guitar for the audience. Since then, the film Read More

Book Group report: ‘Black’

The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch Our book group has never tackled Murdoch, although back in the day before I joined, they read John Bayley’s memoir of his wife, Iris, so I’m told. Several of us had read various novels by Iris Murdoch before  – indeed I read a whole bunch back in the late Read More

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

Back into Lyra’s world…

The Book of Dust, Volume 1 – La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman My, it was good to get back into Lyra’s world. That familiar, yet unfamiliar universe – where humans have an animal counterpart, their daemons; the setting is sort of contemporary, yet steampunky, with landmarks we know set alongside ones that could be 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

Shiny Linkiness

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley I reviewed Pulley’s first novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (reviewed here) for Shiny a couple of years ago, and recently reviewed her second The Bedlam Stacks there too. I loved both books, but after the delight that was Watchmaker,  Stacks goes even further in developing the relationship between Read More

20 Books of Summer #10 & 11 – Levy & Barry

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy This was the book that brought Deborah Levy to wider attention. Her fourth novel, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. Last year I read her latest novel, Hot Milk which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker, (reviewed here), so I was prepared for a challenging Read More

Three Short Novels – Simenon – Fitzgerald – Johnston

Georges Simenon – The Grand Banks Café Translated by David Coward Maigret and Mrs Maigret are about to go on holiday. Mrs Maigret is packing as Maigret reads a letter that’s arrived from an old friend. “…Listen, are you still set on passing our week’s holiday in Alsace?” She stared at him, not understanding. The Read More

Unputdownable, but…

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough Sarah Pinborough is an author I’ve been meaning to read for ages. I have some of her reworkings of classic fairy tales on my shelves, and she’s written a variety of other dark and sexy books for adults, plus YA. Behind Her Eyes falls into the adult dark, psychothriller Read More

YA adventure in Revolutionary France

Blade and Bone by Catherine Johnson This book was published to coincide with October’s Black History Month, so I fear my review is a little late, however, better late than never and this was a YA book well worth reading. Blade and Bone is the sequel to Sawbones which is where we would have first met Read More

The second of two top notch thrillers

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan I read this immediately on the heels of The Woman in Cabin 10 (see here), a second top-notch thriller which more than made up for the disappointment of The Girl on the Train (see here). This psychodrama has double the attraction too… I wonder if you can guess from the Read More

Shiny Linkiness

Today I’ll highlight my fiction reviews from the latest edition of Shiny… Bodies of Water by V.H.Leslie This novella is all about the power of water, and specifically the river Thames. A dual-timelined story in which Kirsten buys a riverside apartment in a development that had been a Victorian hydrotherapy sanatorium where Evelyn had been 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

A Florentine treat

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant I used to have all four of Sarah Dunant’s Italian Renaissance novels on my shelves. I liked the idea of them, as I love Italy, its art and architecture and so on but, I’m not a big reader of historical fiction, so they got forgotten and late last Read More

More from the pre-blog archives…

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Challenging books For a wet bank holiday Monday, I’m revisiting my archives of the capsule book reviews I wrote for myself pre-blog. (For more of these see here.) Having concentrated on 10/10 books in previous posts, I chose some books that I Read More

The one who survived

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin The ARC I was sent of this stylish psychological thriller came bound in black ribbon with a silk flower of the title. I was expecting the book, but wasn’t expecting a daisy – it turns Read More

“What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happening?”

Republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive. The Bees by Laline Paull Writing a novel with animals as your characters is a daring thing. You have to tread a fine line between anthropomorphism and the nature of the beast. If the creatures are to communicate, the author will have to put Read More

An Economic Allegory?

This post was republished in its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost post archive.   The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse by Iván Repila Translated by Sophie Hughes At 110 pages, this short novel in the Pushkin Press Collection is easily read in one session. Once grabbed by this powerful story I Read More

Woolly Jumpers…

This post was republished into its original place from my lost posts archive Breaking the Code by Gyles Brandreth I read this book just pre-blog back in summer 2008. Brandreth’s political diaries from 1990-1997 – the time that he was an MP (Tory, for Chester) were fascinating reading. They recount, with his customary wit, all Read More