Concrete Island

20 Books of Summer #2 – a modern day Robinson Crusoe?

Concrete Island by J G Ballard Ballard’s slim novel from 1973 is his own bleak take on Robinson Crusoe being marooned on a desert island.  However, this being Ballard, he has found a way of subverting Crusoe by marooning his protagonist in the middle of a very busy world. Concrete Island is a controlled and Read More

Crimson Bone

A Pre-Raphaelite thriller

Crimson and Bone by Marina Fiorato A break from my STPFD Young Writer of the Year Award writing today, having finished the five books, we’ve had our judgely huddle and chosen a Shadow Judges’ winner which will be announced on the 29th. I’m a big fan of Marina Fiorato’s historical novels, having read most of Read More

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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

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It’s the 1968 Club! #1

The 1968 Club, hosted by Karen and Simon  is the latest decade and year combo selected for a week of reading books published in that year. I’ve read two for this week (so far), and my first review is of: Colonel Sun by Robert Markham Colonel Sun is the first James Bond continuation novel published Read More

Clockwork

A book I read pre-blog … and Philip Pullman

Clockwork by Philip Pullman In a wonderful interview and Q&A  article in the Guardian on Sunday (do go and read it), author Sarah Perry asks Pullman what he’d most like to be remembered for, and his reply is his novella Clockwork. Then children’s author SF Said then asks why Clockwork?  Pullman replies: It is the most perfectly Read More

cows

A sassy pageturner – smart, fun and thought-provoking

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter Although I don’t really believe in having guilty pleasures as far as choice of reading goes, I don’t read much what marketers call ‘women’s commercial fiction’. When I do read a book that falls into this category, it does feel like a guilty pleasure though and I revel in it, Read More

Nichols Kay

20 Books of Summer #8 & 9 – Nichols & Kay

Crazy Pavements by Beverley Nichols Knowing that Karen and Simon are both fans of Beverley Nichols, it was about time I read one of his books – I picked this one up a couple of years ago, so it was ideal to go into my 20 Books of Summer pile.  Nichols was a prolific writer: Read More

Can You Hear Me

One for #WITMonth at Shiny…

Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello Translated by Alex Valente August is Women in Translation month – and my review of  this debut novel by Italian author Elena Varvello is over at Shiny New Books. A combination of psychothriller and coming of age story that works, brilliantly, these two theme entwine around each other, Read More

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Old colleagues, old friends, old foes

Conflicts of Interest by Terry Stiastny Review & Q&A Terry Stiastny is a former BBC News reporter and she kindly answered some questions for me about her new novel, which follow my review below. I very much enjoyed Terry’s first novel, reviewed here, Acts of Omission is a thoughtful political spy thriller moving between Berlin and Read More

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Two shorter reviews…

Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey This account of a woman becoming afflicted by, and then having to live with extreme photosensitivity is completely harrowing, but suffused with dark humour. The author was enjoying life and had met the love of her life when she started to get burning sensations on her skin after Read More

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Weekend Bookishness

It’s been a busy month – and some, so I’m glad that school breaks up at the end of next week (although I have two or three more days work to do on the school magazine after that). However, part of that busy-ness has been the Christmas edition of Shiny New Books. In The Eds Read More

commitments

More short takes

In an effort to clear my TBReviewed pile, here are two more shorter reviews: The Commitments by Roddy Doyle (re-read) This was our book group choice for last month – when we picked from a shortlist with a ‘Music’ theme. It was a re-read for me, and gosh this story of Jimmy Rabbitte and his Read More

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‘Till we have built Jerusalem, In Englands green & pleasant Land’

The Countenance Divine by Michael Hughes What a gorgeous cover, eh? Many among you will recognise the title of this novel as coming from Jerusalem – the celebrated hymn with words by Blake and music by Parry. In fact, Blake’s words are taken from the preface to a much longer work, Milton, a Poem. The short poem Read More

1938 club

An Ambler for ‘The 1938 Club’

Cause for Alarm by Eric Ambler This week Simon and Karen are hosting their second selected year reading club – and after 1924 last time, 1938 was the year they chose. 1938 is particularly interesting because of the political situation building up to WWII , and the novel I chose to read encapsulates those worries perfectly. Eric Ambler was Read More

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A banned book for Reading Ireland

The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien I’ve been meaning to read more by O’Brien ever since I inherited my Mum’s old Penguins. She was a fan of O’Brien and I really enjoyed her Earthy novel August is a Wicked Month. I had thought to start the Country Girls trilogy sooner but found I was missing the first volume Read More

camille

Irene – Alex – Camille: The Verhoeven trilogy comes full circle

Camille by Pierre Lemaitre Translated by Frank Wynne I was meant to be reviewing this for Shiny New Books‘  in the ‘Extra Shiny’ edition (coming to you on May 12th).  I loved it, it is definitely a ‘Shiny’ book, but it is the final part of a trilogy and I felt it would be too difficult to Read More

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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

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Mothers and Daughters again…

Clara’s Daughter by Meike Ziervogel The relationships between mothers and daughters, or daughters and their mothers – whichever way around you want to put it, is obviously something that fascinates Meike Ziervogel. Her first novella, published away from her own Peirene publishing house was also about a mother and daughter, and the daughter’s own daughter. Read More

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Lost in a good map …

Call of the Undertow by Linda Cracknell Variety in reading is usually my watchword, I try not to read books of a similar vein too close together, yet between Christmas and New Year I managed to read two about women running away from their existing life after life-changing events to sort themselves out. The first Read More

Hornby reading

How to add to your wishlists with Nick Hornby…

This post was combined and republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby One of the easiest ways of adding lots of books to your wishlists, (apart from the recommendations of other bloggers of course), is to read a book about books.  Even better if said book Read More

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The answers are in Africa in this novel …

The Coincidence Authority by J W Ironmonger At first glance this novel may seem like a quirky romance between two unlikely would-be lovers, Azalea and Thomas, who having found each other, get mixed up in Azalea’s quest to analyse what she believes are coincidences that happened to her family, and many father figures. Underneath this Read More

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“The extraordinary happens every day”

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness Having wept like a baby during reading Ness’s last crossover novel, A Monster Calls (my review here) – a story about a young boy coming to terms with love, death and grief, and incorporating magical elements and fables, The Crane Wife – his first full adult novel seems a natural progression. The Crane Read More

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A quiet novel with emotional depth

The Cleaner of Chartresby Salley Vickers The seventh novel by Salley Vickers, The Cleaner of Chartres is the story of orphan foundling Agnès Morel, and the people who come into her life. Before introducing us to Agnès, the novel begins by telling us about the great cathedral, how it burned and was rebuilt by an Read More

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A tale of motherhood across generations…

The Confidantby Hélène Grémillon, translated by Alison Anderson I got a letter one day, a long letter that wasn’t signed. This was quite an event, because I’ve never received much mail in my life. My letter box had never done anything more than inform me that the-sea-was-warm or that the-snow-was-good, so I didn’t open it Read More

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Minimalism ain't all it's cracked up to be …

Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles This debut novel, published last year, was one of those books I was instantly desperate to read, but somehow couldn’t fit in at the time. The title promised quirkiness and humour, two qualities I adore in a novel. I’m glad I finally read it, for I enjoyed it a Read More

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Which side of the fence are you on?

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling Everyone who encounters this book will have a point of view about it. The author is a global phenomenon through the Harry Potter series: she’s worked her way up to being a multimillionaire from being a single mum, and does a lot for charity. Now she’s taken a risk, Read More

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The remote effects of war …

The Coveby Ron Rash. The fighting of WWI may be happening on the battlefields of Europe, but that doesn’t mean that remote communities in America don’t feel a ripple of its effects too… Young men who volunteered are returning home maimed – Hank Shelton lost a hand, and he’s doing his best to renovate the Read More

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A short, sharp German legal thriller…

The Collini Caseby Ferdinand Von Schirach, translated from the German by Anthea Bell The author of The Collini Case, a prominent German defence lawyer himself, honed his writing on short stories – case histories of gruesome and shocking crimes, of people who get away with murder and the like. His first novel, a courtroom drama, Read More

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A fascinating setting for a crime novel…

City Of Veilsby Zoë Ferraris This is the first novel I’ve read set in modern day Arabia. It gives a tantalising glimpse of life in Jeddah, particularly how men and women live, and combines that with a complex crime story. The mutilated body of a woman is found on a beach.  Detective Osama Ibrahim initially Read More

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This tale’s pinned on a donkey …

Caroline: A Mystery by Cornelius Medvei This short novel is a weird and wonderful thing, slightly surreal in parts, but utterly captivating. It is the story of Mr Shaw, who takes his family on their annual vacation where he tries to unwind from his day job in insurance, but is fretting internally (as is his Read More