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

Reading Ireland month

March is Reading Ireland Month, as always hosted by Cathy at 746 books and Niall at The Fluff is Raging.  I forgot that Tana French in my previous post is Irish, so I’ve actually read two books by Irish authors this month (plus another coming up for Shiny next week). Here’s the second…   From a Low Read More

Aug/Sept Book Group Report: SF & Naval books

Our book group didn’t meet in August as nearly everyone was on hols, so last night we had two books to discuss. The way we pick our books is to  chose a theme two months ahead, then research and next month  present our suggestions, of which one gets picked eventually. SF: Flowers for Algernon by Read More

A modern classic teen text?

Forever by Judy Blume Blume wrote Forever back in 1975, long before the YA subdivision in children’s publishing had been conceived of.  Her novel of “first love, first sex and first heartbreak” was a brave one then, resulting in it being banned in many schools and libraries. However it became an underground and later mainstream Read More

Hit? Or Miss? – The juke box jury is out…

The Forensic Records Society by Magnus Mills Magnus Mills’ new novel is a  beautifully produced thing. It’s seven inches square, and the die-cut dust-jacket is  just  like a  single record sleeve.  Underneath, the front and back covers  have all the  blurb and publishing details on the record label of the  seven inches of black vinyl Read More

‘The honey and cider-vinegar way to health’

Folk Medicine by D.C. Jarvis M.D. Sorting through a pile of old small size paperbacks that came from my mum’s, I came across this gem. My mum was fascinated by health matters in the press, and prone to believing in all sorts of fringe medicine. She had her hair tinted several shades lighter because she Read More

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Revolutionary Road

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, this meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six steps. (Here’s my one for last month – Never Let Me Go to Electricity by Ray Robinson). This month the starting book is Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Now this is a Read More

The immigrants’ shattered American Dream…

Family Life by Akhil Sharma Imagine the excitement of going to America from Delhi to live. Even though life in India was comfortable and full of cricket, America is the dream destination for nine-year-old Ajay’s accountant father. First, his father went, found a job, set up home; then a year later, he sent one-way tickets 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

We’re doomed! Or are we?

A Farewell To Ice by Peter Wadhams One theme that has emerged in much of my reading of late is that of icy and mostly northern climes. From Beryl Bainbridge’s Titanic novel Every Man for Himself to Midge Raymond’s Antarctic penguins in My Last Continent to Eowyn Ivey’s Alaska in To The Bright Edge of the World, then Stef Read More

Clara Vine 4 – War Threatens…

Faith and Beauty by Jane Thynne I was so glad that Jane Thynne extended her Clara Vine series of books beyond the original planned trilogy. This series, centred in 1930s Berlin, with heroine Anglo-German actress-spy Clara, are so thrilling – each addition becomes a must-read for me. You can catch up on my thoughts about the previous Read More

A Soviet Adventure with Dennis Wheatley

The Forbidden Territory by Dennis Wheatley Earlier this year I reported on an afternoon spent at the Groucho Club arranged by literary agents PFD, hearing about the novels of Dennis Wheatley (and John Creasey).  I finally managed to make time to read a Wheatley … The Forbidden Territory was Wheatley’s first published novel in 1933. It was an instant bestseller Read More

First Light – Unbound Launch Party

First Light – a celebration of Alan Garner, ed Erica Wagner I will get back to book reviews very soon, but the book launch I attended last night was very special – and apologies – but I will be name-dropping! I love Unbound books and their crowdfunding publishing model, (see here for a Shiny interview I did with Unbound’s 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

A Japanese Nightmare

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothumb Translated by Adriana Hunter This unsettling novella has an apt title. When I looked it up to see where it might have come from, I found a bible quote (also the source for a work Read More

Sweet sixteen?

The Fever by Megan Abbott When I read Megan Abbott’s previous novel Dare me (reviewed here) last year, I knew she was an author to watch, moving into psychological thriller territory with her tale of High School cheer-leaders, having previously concentrated on 1950s noir.  She seemed to get into the brain of these sporty girls perfectly Read More

No frog in my throat, 'min P'tit'

Frog Music by Emma Donoghue I haven’t read Donoghue’s famous, or even infamous novel Room. I own a copy, but its dark subject matter requires a certain frame of mind to read and we haven’t coincided yet. I was very keen to read her latest novel Frog Music though, as it’s set in San Francisco Read More

From Here to Eternity – first thoughts …

One of the books I’m currently reading is James Jones’s doorstop of a novel From Here to Eternity.  First published in 1951, it’s set in Hawaii, and follows the peacetime exploits of G company in the months immediately preceding Pearl Harbor and the USA’s entry into WWII in 1941. It has just been republished with Read More

“This land is your land, this land is my land…”

Fallen Land by Patrick Flanery The above quote from Woody Guthie seemed to fit the overarching theme of this novel perfectly.  It’s all about the illusion of The American Dream, its transitory nature – it certainly doesn’t last for any of the characters in habiting the land in Patrick Flanery’s accomplished second novel. In a Read More

Safe inside the wall?

The First Book of Calamity Leekby Paula Lichtarowicz This interesting debut novel is one of those that defy easy pigeonholing. A group of girls with strange names live in a walled community looked after by Aunty with occasional visits from Mother. They spend their days cultivating roses and vegetables, looking after pigs, and sewing cushions. Read More

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Or can they?

The Flame Alphabetby Ben Marcus Before Beryl Bainbridge Reading week, I posted about how I’d essentially bought this book on the basis of its cover alone which is rather stunning, and how it would be the first book I read after Beryl. Now, I’ve read it and the question is did it live up to its Read More

Nights at the Theatre

Front Row: Evenings at the Theatre by Beryl Bainbridge From 1992 until 2002, Beryl was the theatre reviewer for The Oldie magazine, and  her reviews have been collected in this volume. Collected columns like these can easily date, however Beryl prefaces each review in her idiosyncratic style with comments about what she’d been doing, or thoughts about arriving at the Read More

A gem of a historical romance out of Africa.

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh You know how sometimes you’re just in the mood for a sprawling romance, a continent-crossing historical epic, that sort of book.  That was me last week, and The Fever Tree is such a book. The novel opens in 1880. Frances Irvine is left destitute upon the sudden death of Read More

The life artistic …

This post was republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson I do enjoy quirky novels. I also enjoy stories about dysfunctional families. The Family Fang is both, and just let me tell you that despite the title suggesting blood and bites in suburbia, c.f. The Radleys by Matt Haig, there are no Read More

Gaskella meets … Charlie Higson

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive Gaskella meets … Charlie Higson This afternoon it was my delight to accompany a party of boys from my school over to the Abingdon school theatre to hear author, actor and comedian Charlie Higson talk about his zombie horror series of books Read More

The mad scientist and his red ray

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. The Fatal Eggs by Mikhail Bulgakov Translated by Roger Cockerell Pre-blog, back in 2006, we read The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov in our book group and I loved it. This novel about the devil coming to a town of Read More

3 from March 2011 – Handler – Reed – Fredericks

Adverbs by Daniel Handler – Lemony Snicket for Grown-ups 3 from March 2011 This author is best known as the writer of the fun Lemony Snicket series of novels for children.  I’ve read the first Lemony Snicket novel, and heard the audiobook narrated by Tim Curry, (I just love his voice!) and one day intend to read the rest of the Read More

Old reviews from 2011 – 2 second novels

The Facility by Simon Lelic Simon Lelic’s first novel, Rupture, (see here) was such a breath of fresh air last year that when I was able to get my hands on an advance copy of his second, I could hardly wait to read it and for the publication date to get near.  Would it be as innovative Read More