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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

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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

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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

Man Booker Judges

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

Man Booker Judges

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

Man Booker Judges

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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Russian echoes of Waiting for Godot

The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin The story in this wonderful novel was inspired by a real event – that of the eighty year old Stravinsky returning to Russia in a ‘for one night only’ comeback concert; the queue for tickets started a whole year before. Set in an unnamed Russian city some time during the height Read More

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A Disintegrating Life in Letters

The Cry Of The Sloth by Sam Savage Savage, whose delightful and quirky first novel, Firmin: Adventures Of A Metropolitan Lowlife was published at the age of 67, has done it again with The Cry Of The Sloth, upping the quirk quotient considerably in this bizarrely funny, yet sad story. Subtitled, ‘The Mostly Tragic Story of Read More

Man Booker Judges

An eloquently written misery memoir, long but loaded with nuggets of the author’s wit and bite

Closing Time by Joe Queenan I have enjoyed all the Joe Queenan books I’ve read, particularly The Unkindest Cut: How a Hatchet-Man Critic Made His Own $7,000 Movie and Put It All on His Credit Card.  Queenan is a journalist and author, having written for the New York Times and The Guardian amongst others, where his Read More

Man Booker Judges

A novel of archaeology, food, pandemics and ghosts

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss This novel, published by Granta, is lovely to behold. What you can’t see are the beautiful turquoise blue page edges, and the glossy white fibrils of grassy roots insinuating their way through the bones of the skeleton curled up underneath the title. Luckily I enjoyed reading the book as much Read More

Man Booker Judges

Sheer Poetry – a remarkable read

Cloud Busting by Malorie Blackman This is unlike any other children’s story I have ever read. A series of 26 short poems, telling the story of Sam and Davey, and all about bullying and friendship, secrets and lies, and the terrible thing that happened one day … Told entirely in Sam’s voice, the poems are Read More

Man Booker Judges

Beware of black buttons – Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline by Neil Gaiman is a deliciously scary children’s novel that is destined to become an absolute classic. Think Clive Barker for kids, but with a sense of humour and you’re about there. ***SLIGHT PLOT SPOILER ALERT*** Coraline’s family has moved into a new flat. Her parents are too busy to talk to her so Read More