Category Archives: Title begins with H

Meanwhile at Shiny…

…I’ve had several reviews published recently. In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant Sarah Dunant’s latest novel chronicles the last year of Pope Alexander VI’s life. He was, of course, head of the Borgia family in Renaissance Italy. His mad and vicious soldier son Cesare, and daughter about to be thrice-married Lucrezia complete the trio, with Niccolo Macchiavelli… Read more »

Catching up – Jan and Feb Book Group reviews

I thought it was time I started reviewing the books I’ve read this year, so today I’m catching up with our book group reads discussed in Jan and Feb. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis This was the first book I read this year, managing to squeeze it in just before we met a few days into January. Lucky Jim was published in… Read more »

A Talking Head talks about music

How Music Works by David Byrne This book was the highlight of my splurge of non-fiction reading in December. David Byrne, founder and idiosyncratic front man of Talking Heads – one of the best punky/art-rock bands there has ever been, friend and collaborator with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp amongst others, could never be expected to write a conventional memoir… Read more »

Slightly tepid in style but full of the Gorgon’s rage…

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy This novel was my first encounter with Levy and I’ll confess, I read the book and wasn’t necessarily wowed by it at first. Upon reflection though, the more I thought about it, the more I started to get to grips with some of the themes within, it’s grown on me. The initial premise is simple. Sofia takes… Read more »

Two novellas for WIT month

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang Translated by Chi-Young Kim, Illustrations by Nomoco This Korean novella has been a huge bestseller and it’s easy to see why. For a start, the cover is divine, the book is physically lovely with French flaps, and Nomoco’s illustrations preface each chapter. All that before you get to the heart-warming story within…. Read more »

A great end to a fantastic YA trilogy

Half Lost by Sally Green I’ve loved all three volumes of Sally Green’s Half Bad Trilogy. In the first, Half Bad, we were introduced to the young Nathan Byrn, son of a white witch mother and the most powerful of the black witches as his father. England is controlled by the Council of (white) Witches, and Nathan is approaching his seventeenth birthday… Read more »

A novel of one-sided letters…

How You See Me by S.E. Craythorne This is the last of my reviews of books I finished reading in 2015; I thought I’d better get a few thoughts down before the memory of reading it fades too much. As Susan said in a recent post, ‘I have a weakness for debuts’ – you never know what you’re going to get…. Read more »

Dogs and Downsizing

Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment Originally published in 2009 and brought to the UK last year by Pushkin Press, Heroic Measures is a tale about one weekend in the life of an older couple and their beloved dachshund Dorothy. Ruth and Alex Cohen have lived for 45 years in a co-op, a ‘five-flight walk-up in the East Village’. Bought for five grand, they’ve… Read more »

The funniest crime novel I’ve read since I discovered Christopher Brookmyre…

One of my lost posts, republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline. Hack by Kieran Crowley If you love Christopher Brookmyre’s Jack Parlabane novels, you’re going to love this one too. Brookmyre’s Quite Ugly One Morning, which I read pre-blog,hooked me from the off – literally from it’s expletive first words! Hack however, begins in a dead-pan manner, but it is so tongue… 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 Garnier Translated for Gallic Books… Read more »

A clever parody or a triumph of style over substance?

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix A couple of weeks ago, I got inordinately excited when this book I’d ordered arrived. For all its faults, IKEA is the booklover’s friend. Affordable shelving, in practical and/or posher versions, is what the bibliomane needs (I’m speaking as a 10x Billy owner here – I can construct those boys at speed!). I’m an IKEA fan… Read more »

Half bad? Not at all … it’s all good!

Half Bad by Sally Green This is the latest teen crossover fantasy hit that everyone’s reading, The Hunger Games is so last year dahling! At first I was resistant, but when it was picked for our book group choice, I grasped the mettle and am really glad I did read it. If you read the blurb which mentions witches a lot and… Read more »

Watching the detectives …

Hawthorn and Childby Keith Ridgway This is one of those strange novels that is not quite what it seems; at times it insinuates itself into your being so that you almost feel part of the story, at others you’re left outside the action observing from afar, and sometimes you can’t get your head around it at all. Since its publication in… Read more »

Two Naughty Schoolgirls…

Harriet Said by Beryl Bainbridge Harriet Said was Beryl’s first  work written in the late 1950s.  However it ended up as her third published novel, as its darkness struggled to find a publisher initially.  It is the story of two teenaged schoolgirls and what they got up to one summer holiday… The two girls are an odd pairing.  Our narrator, who… Read more »

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien Now – considering that I last read The Hobbit, aged around twelve, many, many years ago – before starting to re-read the book, ask me what I remember of it apart from Bilbo and Gandalf? I would answer, “Gollum and the ring, and Smaug the dragon, but particularly Gollum.” I was surprised to… Read more »

An influential book from an influential writer …

Howards End is on the landing by Susan Hill That pesky Susan Hill! She’s managed to set the book-blogging world alight with her latest – a memoir about reading the books in her house and the stories they are associated with. HEIOTL, as I shall abbreviate it to, has become a blogging hot topic – but in the nicest possible… Read more »

Power Games in Puritan New England

The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent To be honest, I wanted to get this book out of the way. I didn’t warm to the cover at all, particularly as when you see it in a stack it stares at you; it gave me the willies one morning when I woke up to see it looking at me! The subject-matter of… Read more »

A slow-burning yet rewarding novel

How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall I hugely enjoy reading all the buzz about the Booker Prize, but I normally don’t indulge in any deliberate speculative reading, preferring to pick and choose a select few short/longlisted titles after the event. Today though I can say I’m totally with it just this once, having started to read Hall’s… Read more »

The real King Arthur …

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve Arthurian myth and legend is one of my favourite reading themes.  If asked about my favourite movies, Excalibur [1981] comes 2nd (after The Blues Brothers). I saw that film the week it came out at the Odeon Leicester Square and was immediately smitten with the Arthurian bug.  A few years later having read much of… Read more »