Holiday

Holiday by Stanley Middleton Some time ago, I picked up a copy of Holiday at a book sale, only knowing that it had shared the 1974 Booker prize with Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist. I’d otherwise never heard of Middleton, so I was surprised to find this was the 14th novel of his 44-novel career!  If Read More

Bowie Book Club 1

Duncan Jones’s Bowie Book Club #1

After David Bowie died, (was it really over two years ago? it feels like yesterday), I added my own ‘Bowie Book Club‘ page to my blog with his 100 favourite books. I had no plans to read them systematically, but hoped to read or re-read at least a few of them, and read about some Read More

High Window 2

Book Group Report: “Windows”

The High Window by Raymond Chandler Our key-word for this month’s book choice was ‘Window(s)’.  The other choices pitched into the hat were:  High Windows by Philip Larkin, House without windows by Nadia Hashimi and Microserfs by Douglas Coupland, but Raymond Chandler won out – a great choice for a busy period of the year. The Read More

Lemaitre Spark Weiner

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

How Hard Can It Be

She’s Nailed it!

How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson Allison Pearson’s first novel,  I Don’t Know How She Does It, published in 2002, was an instant bestseller and one of the defining women’s novels of the time about the pressure to have it all.  Her protagonist, Kate Reddy, was a successful fund manager in the City, Read More

name of the family

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 Read More

Garcia Girls

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. Read More

how-music-works

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 Read More

hot-milk

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 Read More

Hen who dreamed

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 Read More

half lost

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 Read More

how you see me

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 Read More

Heroic measures

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’. Read More

hack

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, Read More

Holiday windmill

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

Holiday windmill

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 Read More

half bad

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 Read More

hangover-square

The blackest of boozy pre-war comedies …

This post was republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton Starting in the dying days of 1938, George Harvey Bone, a tall and ungainly young man is spending Christmas with his aunt in Hunstanton hoping she’ll give him some money to keep him and his ‘friends’ going. Read More

harriet said

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 Read More

HHhH

From the archives May 2013: HHhH by Laurent Binet trans Sam Taylor

I reviewed this originally on my old blog in two stages – combined into one post here: Halfway Hangups: HHhH is the book du jour, the one that’s getting the blog-inches, mostly giving it glowing reviews. It won the Prix Goncourt in France, and Mario Vargas Llosa thinks it “magnificent.” For anyone who hasn’t encountered it yet, HHhH Read More

full_moon_02_20001

The Hopkins Manuscript by R C Sheriff

Chicken Licken was right in this dystopia! Last weekend was Persephone Reading Weekend hosted by Claire and Verity. I did start my Persephone reading at the weekend, but didn’t finish until yesterday. But what a book I chose – one of the few by male authors, and a dystopian bit of science fiction to boot – yet it fits Read More

living-dead-2

Twins & Ghosts – a complex combination

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger There was an awful lot written about this book around the time of its publication last year.  I generally prefer to miss all the hullaballoo, to let things settle down for a bit and read books at the time of my choosing. This autumn, I decided to include it in Read More

Hyddenworld spring

There’s a whole Hydden world out there …

Hyddenworld: Spring by William Horwood Back in the early 1980s, I read Horwood’s bestselling animal fantasy about moles – Duncton Wood.  I remember enjoying it immensely, but never read the sequels, and I can’t remember what it was really about apart from religion and war in mole-dom. But it was remembering the enjoyment of the former that Read More

Ogawa Housekeeper

Live for the moment – forget everything

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa translated by Stephen Snyder When I spotted this book, with its quote from my literary hero Paul Auster on the cover, I was hooked. Having read it, I’m delighted I chanced upon it, for I loved this gentle tale of the Professor, his Housekeeper and her son. Read More

Hugo Pepper

A delightfully quirky children’s adventure

The problem with getting into your forties and beyond is that you inevitably need reading glasses.  I managed to lose mine for a whole day this weekend, but luckily I found them this morning – phew!  So yesterday I had to read with my old glasses (which are now perfect for computer work, but no Read More

hollow

All Angst and No Action

The Hollow by Jessica Verday I liked the fact that The Hollow doesn’t have vampires or angels. Instead, it is linked to the ghostly apparitions of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the book itself being set in the same town. Then I started reading, and was immediately irritated by Abigail aka Abbey, who emphasises Read More

Hardball

An evening with Sara Paretsky

Sara Paretsky, the creator of Chicago private investigator V.I.Warshawski, was in town yesterday to coincide with the publication of Hardball, her P.I.’s thirteenth outing.  Arriving, she cut a cool figure, clad in gold and skinny trousers with a trendy leopard-print cap and her short, cropped silver hair. The audience immediately warmed to her, with her Read More