The 1965 Club – take two…

Before I get on to talking about the second book I read for the 1965 Club hosted by Simon and Karen, I thought I’d look back and see which other books I’ve read published that year – there are only a handful, and they are (title links will take you to my reviews): Georgy Girl Read More

Wellcome Book Prize reading: #5 R&R

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottesa Moshfegh Well, it’s a while since I read a book that I disliked so thoroughly, but felt compelled to read to the end! This book is all sex and drugs, but no rock’n’roll. I’d felt put off reading it before by the ‘school of David’ painting on Read More

Reading Ireland Month #1

Cathy at 746 Books and Niall at The Fluff is Raging are our hosts once again for Reading Ireland Month, celebrating Irish literature and culture. I hope to be able to fit in a second book by a certain much-feted young Irish novelist before the month ends, but today here’s my review of… Modern Gods by Nick Read More

Just the job for this young lady…

MI5 and Me – A Coronet Among the Spooks by Charlotte Bingham Back in 1963, the young Charlotte Bingham published a book of humorous memoir called Coronet Among the Weeds. The daughter of the 7th Baron, Clanmorris, it told of Bingham’s experience of ‘The Season’ as a debutante among the chinless wonders, or weeds, as Read More

Meet the Karenins

Monsieur Ka by Vesna Goldsworthy Back in 2016 I really enjoyed reading Vesna Goldsworthy’s first novel, Gorsky, which updated The Great Gatsby to contemporary Chelsea, aka Chelski due to the influx of Russians. Gatsby became Gorsky and Nick became Nikola – a Serbian bookseller. It was brilliantly done, delivering the doomed romance with great wit Read More

Wellcome Reading #3 – Turing

Murmur by Will Eaves Having read the two entries on the Wellcome Book Prize longlist that I was assigned to (see here and here), I looked to the library to find another and managed to get my hands on Oxfordshire Libraries’ only copy of Murmur. Let me say straight away, given that Alan Turing recently Read More

Paris in July 2018 take two: Simenon & Laurain

Two short reviews for my second contribution to Paris in July – an annual tag hosted by Thyme for Tea which I love doing each year. A Man’s Head by Georges Simenon Translated by David Coward A Man’s Head was the ninth Maigret novel, originally published in 1931, I read David Coward’s 2014 translation in the new Penguin Read More

Missing Pieces Blog Tour

I’m delighted to be one of the last stops on the Agora (the new name of Ipso books) blog tour for: Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson This novel was rescued from Ipso Books’s slush pile by an intern, which turned out to be a jolly good thing, for Missing Pieces is an engaging summer read Read More

Review Catch-up…

Life is rather busy, and I’m terribly behind on my reviews. So here is a batch of reviews and links for you… Educated by Tara Westover This memoir of growing up in an unconventional setting and how the author escaped to discover the world outside was absolutely compelling reading, Westover grew up off-grid in Idaho, Read More

Two lonely people, linking their lives in letters…

Meet Me At the Museum by Anne Youngson This novel told in letters took me pleasantly by surprise. Within pages I was hooked and I read it in one extended sitting, shedding a tear along the way as I followed the story of the developing friendship between two lonely middle-aged people.  Tina and Anders are separated Read More

Wellcome Book Prize #5 – Rausing

My penultimate review of the six books shortlisted for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize. The final one for The Vaccine Race will be my stop on the official blog tour, for the prize which starts tomorrow (details above). Mayhem: A Memoir by Sigrid Rausing You may remember much news coverage of the Rausing family, heirs Read More

Reading Muriel 2018 – an early novel

  Memento Mori by Muriel Spark (1959) This is one of the Spark novels I’ve been meaning to read for years – so it’s great to be able to join in on Phase 1 of Heavenali’s #ReadingMuriel2018 year. An added bonus is being able to read from my late mum’s Penguin first edition paperback, yellowed Read More

Two excellent thrillers – Moskva and The Ice

Moskva by Jack Grimwood You may know Grimwood through his literary novel The Last Banquet written as John Grimwood, or his fantasy/crime novels written as Jon Courtenay Grimwood. I’ve not read any of them, although I do own The Last Banquet, which I remember was very well received. It’s certainly going up my pile, having Read More

Smoke, mirrors and a little real magic…

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister Books about magicians, circuses, music hall and vaudeville are irresistible to me – especially those featuring magicians.  I recently reviewed Edith and Oliver by Michelle Forbes (click here), which is set in the British Edwardian music-hall and features an ambitious young magician from Belfast. England had its music-hall tradition Read More

The glamour of the Grand Prix – it’s not real life…

Monte Carlo by Peter Terrin Translated from the Dutch by David Doherty Before I tell you more about this exquisite short novel by Dutch author, Peter Terrin, I’d like to expound briefly on the glamour of the Monaco Grand Prix – it is the one we all love to see, raced over the streets of Read More

A new and irresistible anti-heroine

Mad by Chloe Esposito Mad is the first part in a trilogy by debut author Esposito – to be followed by Bad and Dangerous to Know,  and judging by the first part, I’ll definitely be reading the others. The ARC I received had a fold out front cover with the other two and as you can Read More

Two books about Learning to Drive…

While reading the first of this pair, I was perusing my shelves and found another book that was nominally about starting late in ‘learning to drive’ so the obvious thing was to read both and review them together. These books were especially appropriate to my own situation – I didn’t take my car driving test Read More

Wellcome Book Prize Tour – Mend the Living

  Today, I’m delighted to be the first stop on the blog tour for the Wellcome Book Prize 2017. This year’s winner will be announced in London on Monday 24th April – sadly I won’t be able to go to the ceremony – I’ll be doing my first aid training at school, instead of getting Read More

A dead-pan but touching graphic novel …

Mooncop by Tom Gauld Mooncop is a short graphic novel which can be ‘read’ in 10 minutes with its 96 pages, many of which have no text at all. It’s worth taking much more time over though to savour the  wit and  pathos behind  the  simple yet complex drawings.  I  finished it the first time Read More

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

Not Peake’s peak…

Mr Pye by Mervyn Peake I devoured the three volumes of Gormenghast as a student one summer – that was decades ago. I’ve always meant to revisit it as Karen has done recently, but would really like to find a less pressured time so I can enjoy it again at leisure. However, I spotted another Read More

Why being ‘Messy’ is good for you…

Messy by Tim Harford Tim Harford is a senior columnist at the Financial Times but radio listeners may know him from his programme on BBC Radio 4 – More Or Less – in which he explores, explains and debunks the statistics in everyday life.  His programme is one of my favourites. (Try this episode in Read More

One house, one extended family, many stories

Moving by Jenny Eclair Moving is Jenny Eclair’s fourth novel and is her most accomplished yet, seeing her move from the bittersweet comedy of her brilliant debut, Camberwell Beauty (which I read pre-blog), to a touching drama. Ever the comedian, Moving is still full of wit, but it is definitely not a comedy. Moving is told in Read More

A grown-up Parisian fin de siecle nightmare?

Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick I’ve been a fan of Sedgwick for years – He has primarily written for children and YA audiences until fairly recently. However, reading his YA novels as an adult has never disappointed, (see here, here, here, here and here – Yes, I am a big fan!). Now he is also writing for Read More

Serious Gimmickry…

Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra Translated by Megan McDowell I’m always really drawn to experimental fiction, even if I don’t always get on with it, so once spotted, I was always going to have a go at this book. I know nothing about the author, but Zambra, I gather, is one of the stars of Chilean Read More

Doesn’t go up to 11…

Marshall: The Book of Loud by Nick Harper I love books of trivia and infographics – this book which is subtitled ‘An essential miscellany of musical knowledge’, is aimed squarely at the Christmas market. While fun, it doesn’t really have enough of either trivia or infographics, being saddled with too much filler – more on Read More

Women in Translation month – a French novella

Marie by Madeleine Bourdouxhe Translated by Faith Evans This gorgeously produced novella with its stunning cover design is turning into one of the sleeper hits of the summer. The cover stood out in the bookshop and I had to buy it – luckily the story inside is just as high quality, (read Jacqui‘s review too). This was 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 Read More

Book Group report: Noir

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett To broaden our reading and ensure that don’t keep choosing yet another xxx-prize short/longlisted book each month, we are picking the books we read by topic, and for July it was ‘Noir’. We pick the topic 3 months ahead, then 2 months ahead we pick the book from the Read More

Love among the penguins – Q&A with Midge Raymond

My Last Continent by Midge Raymond Today, I’m delighted to be a stop on Midge Raymond‘s blog tour for her fabulous novel My Last Continent from Text Publishing, which is an adventure romance set in Antarctica. Deb and Keller meet as researchers for a few weeks each year to study the penguins while working for an Read More