RIP XIII – Book 2

Dead Funny – ed. Robin Ince & Johnny Mains Horror Stories by Comedians This little book is my second read for R.I.P. XIII (more about that here). It comprises sixteen ‘horror stories written by comedians’ and was published by Salt in 2014, and followed up two years later by Dead Funny: Encore. Short stories and Read More

The Ultimate Toilet Book for Christmas?

Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott I wish I’d thought of the central idea in this book – it’s a classic of pedantry that had me guffawing so many times. Devised by a dad and son combo, it’s aimed firmly at others like them, especially those who grew up from the 1970s 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: ‘White’

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson While a spirited pitch for Hari Kunzru’s White Tears was made when we selected our ‘white’ book, we went to a draw and this book from 2003 came out of the hat. Subtitled ‘Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America’, Larson’s book is Read More

Two novels with a French connection – Chevalier & Magnan

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier This was our Book Group’s choice for this month – ‘Blue’ being the key word we’d picked it by.  This was Chevalier’s first novel, published in 1997, and it is different to all of her others by having a dual timeline, following the stories of two women, centuries apart. Read More

Review Catch-Up – McBain, Berthon, Ishiguro

Driving Lessons by Ed McBain McBain is most famous for his many 57th Precinct novels, but he has written many other books too. This slim book from 1999 was part of a series of novellas from Orion called Criminal Records. Some were published separately, the others anthologised in one volume edited by Otto Penzler. A Read More

Bookselling highs and lows…

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell A couple of years ago, my fantasy of buying a bookshop could have come true – one of my local indie bookshops was up for sale. I just about had the money and the shop was ticking along nicely (thanks to the hard work put in by 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

Hints of The Night Manager meets Mr Ripley …

The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen I enjoyed Bollen’s second novel, Orient (reviewed here) very much indeed. It was a chunky thriller set on Long Island in the incomers versus long-term residents mould, so I awaited his third with great anticipation. I was glad too to see that it came in at just under 500 pages, 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

Opening the doors of perception…

Deviate by Beau Lotto You’d be forgiven for thinking that the improbably named Beau Lotto was a surfer dude from his photo (left). But, perceptions, and assumptions made from them are rarely what you think. Dr Lotto is a renowned neuroscientist attached to UCL in London and Berkeley in the US. He specialises in perception. Read More

Getting ‘the day that went missing’ back

The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard Earlier this month I wrote about an evening with Richard Beard at my local indie bookshop, it was a very special experience for an author event. I went away from the evening with my signed copy of his new book of memoir and started reading it there Read More

An evening with Richard Beard at Mostly Books

Last night I was at a rather special author event at my local indie bookshop Mostly Books with local(ish) author Richard Beard.  Mark in the shop had long ago persuaded me to buy Beard’s last novel, Goldsmith Prize shortlisted, The Acts of the Assassins, but sadly I’ve not read it yet – I know I’ll have a Read More

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

Michelle Paver x 2

Our Book Group choice to discuss this week as our themed ‘Horror/Ghost story’ selection was Michelle Paver’s first adult novel – Dark Matter – subtitled ‘A Ghost Story’. Her second novel, Thin Air – also ‘A Ghost Story’, was published recently too, so I’ll combine thoughts about the two into one post. Firstly, Dark Matter. Published in 2010 Read More

Mavis Cheek Blog Tour

Dog Days by Mavis Cheek Today I’m delighted to be a stop on Mavis Cheek‘s blog tour celebrating the new Ipso Books e-book editions of some of her backlist titles, of which her 1990 novel Dog Days is the latest (my review below). It has been some years since I’ve read any of Mavis’s novels, but I do remember chuckling my way through Mrs. Fytton’s Read More

Three shorter reviews

Trading Futures by Jim Powell Matthew Oxenhay is having an existential crisis. He set his hippy ideals behind him long ago, swapping them for a career in the city, wife, kids, nice house in a nice London suburb. Then it was his 60th birthday, and shortly afterwards he lost his job, but his boss let Read More

My gut obsession continues – more food for thought

The Diet Myth by Tim Spector The first book I reviewed this year (Gut by Giulia Enders – review here) was a revelation to me. It created a new obsession – to improve my digestion and gut flora by eating better and hopefully losing some weight along the way. But learning about the anatomy and physiology of the gut Read More

Shiny Fiction Linkiness

Time to share my Fiction reviews from Issue 8 of Shiny New Books with you – four very different but enjoyable books, click through to read the full reviews, links within the text refer to my previous reviews: The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaitre Best known for his Verhoeven trilogy, Lemaitre has turned from contemporary fare to the end Read More

Catching up on reviewing…

My to be reviewed pile is larger than I like and I don’t want to forget the books – so here are some shorter reviews for you: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics This is one scary novel – published as a YA book but is definitely not for younger teenaged readers! The story is narrated Read More

Annabel’s Shelves: B is for …

Republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Ballard, J.G. – The Drowned World Being on a dystopian reading kick at the moment,  when I finally came to choose my ‘B’ book for my Annabel’s Shelves project, I picked another. There was one author and particular title that just leapt out at Read More

A near-future techno thriller…

Deja Vu by Ian Hocking This novel is one of the first publications from a new indie publisher called Unsung Stories, specialising in ‘genre fiction that defies categorisation’. Déjà Vu is essentially near-future science fiction with a techno-thriller slant to it. It is 2023. Saskia Brandt is a Berlin-based detective in the European FIB. Returning from Read More

A man of letters…

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Dear Lupin… Letters to a Wayward Son by Roger Mortimer and Charlie Mortimer Memoirs told in letters are an endangered species these days. Who still writes letters to their nearest and dearest?  We tend to send a quick e-mail Read More

Christmas Shiny Linkiness …

Today, I’d like to direct you over to my reviews in the Shiny New Books Christmas Inbetweeny.  By the way, have you tried our Shiny Advent Quiz yet? Ideal as a post-prandial competition… But back to my reviews as these books are all too good to leave off mentioning here too: The Islanders by Pascal Read More

Not just a novel of any letters…

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher This novel certainly has one of the most attractive covers I’ve seen in a while – it rather gave me the urge to start colouring it in, but I restrained myself! (Interestingly, between the proof and the finished article, I can see that quite a few of the letters have Read More

The Prisoner meets 1970s public information films – be very afraid…

Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler I love reading creepy novels in autumn, and this year I’ve had the pleasure of not only reading the fabulous Horrorstör (see here), but also the even creepier Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler. Anyone will be able to enjoy this book, but to really get the most out of it, Read More

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

My new reviews at Shiny New Books

The third issue of Shiny New Books came out on Monday. Now it’s time for me to highlight some of my reviews that appear therein and point you in their direction. As it ended up, I didn’t write as many reviews for this edition, but I shall still split them into a few posts in Read More

The world of espionage is a different place now…

The Director by David Ignatius It’s a while since I’ve read a spy novel set inside the various American intelligence agencies, and they make the British MI5 and MI6 seem totally straight-forward in their organisation of roles and responsibilities in comparison. This novel is set mainly in the CIA, an independent agency, which itself has many Read More