Category Archives: Title begins with M

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 »

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 Peake novel on my TBR… 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 which he (re)analyses the apparent… 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 three main parts, each narrated… 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 a different audience – his… 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 writing. This book is structurally… 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 that later. It is nice… 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 my first encounter with Belgian-born… 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 »

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 titles suggested, max one each…. 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 educational cruise company. Theirs is… Read more »

High School Horror in the late 1980s

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix Grady Hendrix’s novel Horrorstör (reviewed here) was a triumph of style – a straight-forward but enjoyable horror story presented as a parody of an IKEA catalogue. This was such a brilliant conceit, it made my list of books of the year in 2014 for its amazing design. What would he do next? * *… Read more »

Kerching! It’s so 1980s

Money by Martin Amis (republished into its original place in my blog time-line from the lost post archive) So, earlier in the summer we were picking a book to discuss at book group and someone suggested The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis. He’s an author we’ve not read in the group before but that title didn’t appeal; individually we’d read a few of his… Read more »

More Shiny linkiness …

It’s been a couple of weeks since Issue 3 of Shiny New Books went live, so I thought I’d highlight the other fiction reviews I wrote for it to you – I hope you’ll click through to read the whole pieces… At the moment, we’re busy putting together our Christmas special which will be out at the beginning of December… Read more »

The other half's story …

Mr Bridge (Penguin Modern Classics) by Evan S Connell Written ten years after  his 1959 novel Mrs Bridge, Connell’s companion piece Mr Bridge tells the story of the Bridge family through the same time period from the 1930s into WWII, but from the husband’s point of view. I read and adored Mrs Bridge a couple of weeks ago (see my review here)…. Read more »

A life unfulfilled, funny but full of melancholy…

Mrs Bridge by Evan S Connell Just before Christmas, I acquired a review copy of the imminent Penguin Modern Classics reissue of Mr Bridge by Evan S Connell. I knew nothing about the book at all, but the synopsis intrigued me. Finding that Connell had previously written Mrs Bridge, and that Mr Bridge was therefore a sequel of sorts, I… Read more »

What a stinker! But in a good way…

Mr Stink by David Walliams After watching the BBC’s enjoyable TV version of Mr Stink at Christmas, I was inspired to read the book to see what Walliams, who adapted his own book for the TV, and put in a cameo as the Prime Minister, was like on the page. I had read somewhere that the book was more ‘Dahlesque’,… Read more »

One for the new year …

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice Take one big happy family; add some horses, a big country manor in Cornwall, plus doses of first love which doesn’t go easily. Shake it up and relocate to London; mix with rock’n’roll and serve with love again. This is the essential recipe for Eva Rice’s new novel, a thick and satisfying… Read more »

A woman scorned …

My First Wife by Jakob Wassermann, translated by Michael Hoffman They often say that truth is stranger than fiction. This novel is apparently no fiction – it’s one of those ‘all names have been changed’ type books!  My First Wife was published posthumously in 1934, and was a thinly veiled account of the author’s first marriage – and that marriage… Read more »