Two in short: Tremain and Laurain

Because the authors’ names rhyme, and I haven’t got a huge amount to say about these novels, despite enjoying them both a lot, here’s a twofer for you: The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain This was our book group read, discussed back at the start of the month. It was mostly a hit with our Read More

Two novels in which the protagonist is NOT ‘completely fine’

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman Most people I know who have read this book have loved it – but not everyone, notably Rebecca (who reviewed it here).  I must say that although it was an entertaining read that I sped through, I’m tending towards Rebecca’s view.  You’ve also probably seen all over Read More

An amoral anti-hero for Italian Lit Month

  The Goodbye Kiss by Massimo Carlotto Translated by Lawrence Venuti There’s dark, and then there’s dark! You know what I mean, we’re talking the super-noir of Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me or Simenon’s Dirty Snow here…  Lean and mean novels with an amoral anti-hero at their hearts. This is the case for the protagonist Read More

A return to Joe Thomas’s Sao Paulo

Gringa by Joe Thomas At around this time last year, I read the first in a new crime series set in Sao Paulo (reviewed here for Shiny).  Joe Thomas lived and taught in São Paulo, the most populous city in the Americas and Southern Hemisphere, for ten years. His observations and experience of living in this 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

‘Handmaidesque’…

Given that we’ve all been transfixed by the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, there’s a definite market for ‘Handmaidesque’ dystopian novels at the moment; Gather the Daughters is one such. If I were to pitch it, I’d describe Jennie Melamed’s debut as Handmaid’s Tale meets The Crucible with a hint of Lord Read More

Towles’ entrancing second novel…

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles Amor Towles’ debut novel Rules of Civility (reviewed here) was one of the best books I read in 2011. Although Towles graduated in English back in the late 1980s, he worked as an investment professional for over twenty years before publishing his first novel. This book was a Read More

In Short – some capsule reviews

A pair of shorter reviews for you today – both books are short and begin with G. That’s where their similarity ends though, they couldn’t be further apart in their style! Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter This prize-winning book from 2015 is hard to categorise, other than short – it’s as Read More

Reading Ireland Month

March is Reading Ireland month, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books and Niall at The Fluff is Raging. Being half-Irish (my mum was from Belfast) and thus eligible for an Irish passport should the UK go totally to the dogs, I couldn’t not join in, especially after my post about Irish actor James Ellis’s later Read More

Three Short Takes

The Wall by William Sutcliffe Although published as a YA title, and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2014, this novel has crossover appeal – and should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand more about Palestine, Israel and the West Bank settlements. Thirteen-year-old Joshua lives in a town called Amarias in the ‘Occupied Read More

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

Bookish Delights

Yesterday I was delighted to be invited to attend a bloggers afternoon at the Groucho Club hosted by literary agents PFD to meet and hear some of the authors shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times/Peters Fraser Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award – and you couldn’t hope for a more diverse collection of literary styles Read More

Predictable and disappointing…

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins This won’t be a long review. So much has been said about this thriller already, but I was profoundly disappointed by it, and won’t bother with the film either. Gone Girl was way better, (book and film; my book review here). The story is told mostly through the eyes Read More

When the American Dream is found out…

The Good Guy by Susan Beale I absolutely adore tales set in 1960s American suburbia. There’s something about the more spacious US setting that grabs me in a way that those set in the cramped English equivalent don’t. They are too close to home for I am a product of the 1960s London suburbs; been there, Read More

A life in a day… again and again and again…

Groundhog Day – Book by Danny Rubin, Music & Lyrics by Tim Minchin August has been such a busy month. Not only have I managed to read 19 books, but I managed to go to the theatre twice and forgot to tell you about the first time when I took my daughter to the Old Read More

Pitch: The Time Bandits in Hawaii?

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig Nix Song lives on a tall ship with her father and small band of fiercely loyal crew, refugees from time. Captain Slate is able to ‘navigate’ the ship through time to any where, but only if he has a true and dated map – and each map only Read More

Great Gatsby, it’s Gorsky!

Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy This novel, a bold reimagining of The Great Gatsby relocated to contemporary London, longlisted for this year’s Bailey’s Prize, has turned out to be a bit of a marmite novel. There are roughly three camps of thought about it: Those who love The Great Gatsby and loved what Goldsworthy has done with Gorsky. Those who love The Great Read More

The end of California dreaming?

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins I adore speculative fiction. Show me a post-disaster scenario or near future alternative society and I’m all over it, as they say. Given the puffs on the cover for the author’s first book of short stories, Battleborn, and knowing only that this novel is set in a near-future California 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

Discovering my second brain

Gut by Giulia Enders I still have a small pile of other books to review I read last year, I’ve promoted this one, the last book I finished in 2015, to be the first reviewed in 2016, and will get back to the others soon. I’m notoriously bad at persevering with projects – it’ll be Read More

Something ‘that scares me’…

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith One of the few remaining squares on my summer(!) book bingo card has been crossed off with this novel. I find few ghost stories truly scary and own few horror novels of the type that would 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

Consumer culture gone mad in a warped and very funny novel…

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Get Me Out of Here by Henry Sutton Scanning my TBR shelves for something different to read the other week, I alighted on this novel remembering that Kim had loved it! It was time to return to a novel by Henry Read More

Consumer culture gone mad in a warped and very funny novel…

Get Me Out of Here by Henry Sutton This review has be republished into my original blog timeline from my lost posts archives. Scanning my TBR shelves for something different to read the other week, I alighted on this novel remembering that Kim had loved it! It was time to return to a novel by Henry Read More

A Graphic Novel Excursion…

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins I read very few graphic novels, but just occasionally one will get my interest – the title of Stephen Collins’s debut book was irresistible. I bought it when it first came out at the end of 2013, but being an A4 sized hardback, it got other books Read More

784 pages – Was it worth taking the time to read…

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt It’s very likely that had our bookgroup not picked this novel, that The Goldfinch would have stayed on my shelves, unread, (beside Wolf Hall and The Luminaries), for much longer. I had to read it (well, I could have cribbed notes but didn’t), but I’m so glad I took the time Read More

The myth of Izanami and Izanagi

This post was republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino Translated by Rebecca Copeland My most recent reading of the Canongate Myths series (which now has its own page above) fits in nicely with Women In Translation Month, hosted by Biblibio. I’ve yet to read one Read More

Adapt to Survive, Fail and Die

The Giraffe’s Neck by Judith Schalansky Frau Inge Lohmark is a teacher of biology to teenagers. She is defiantly old school, teaching from the front, chalk and talk – a bit of a dinosaur in the world of education some might say – at risk of dying out. A Darwin devotee, Frau Lohmark does have Read More

Crimes & Casinos, Miami & Puerto Rico – R.I.P. Elmore Leonard

I was sad to hear of the death of Elmore Leonard a week and a half ago. He was 87, and had suffered a stroke earlier in the month. He was one of my favourite crime writers. I liked him particularly for his ability to make me laugh and of course for his distinct style Read More