Educated Miss Laila

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

Wellcome Book Prize 2018 shortlist

Wellcome Book Prize Shadow Panel Results…

It’s been a busy month or two of reading the six wonderfully varied books shortlisted for this year’s Wellcome Book Prize. The judges will announce their result on Monday, but today our informal shadow panel is posting its winner, and our winner is:  TO BE A MACHINE by MARK O’CONNELL  Here’s what the shadow panel Read More

Warner Gardner

The Power of Fairy Tales: Marina Warner & Sally Gardner

Once Upon a Time by Marina Warner Subtitled ‘A short history of fairy tale’, Warner’s compact volume belies its small size. It’s a tiny hardback, but within its 200 or so pages, the author recounts the rich history behind the beloved fairy tales we all know from their most common (often arguably via Disney film Read More

Dard Tag Elsie

Two Short Novels in Translation

One of my ‘Try Harder’ targets this year is to read more in translation. I got the year off to a good start with these two short novels… Bird in a Cage by Frédéric Dard Translated from the French by David Bellos I discovered Dard just over a year ago, when the lovely people at 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

Quick Suggs Kehlmann

Review catch-up

I am still behind on my reviewing, even though I seem to have unlocked my reviewer’s block – so today, I have a trio of short reviews for you… The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick This is a rare case for me of having seen the film before I read the book. I loved Read More

Taste of blue light

What happened to Lux Langley?

The Taste of Blue Light by Lydia Ruffles As a portrait of a troubled teenager suffering from the after effects of trauma, the cause of which is not disclosed until near the end, this novel takes the current vogue for YA novels about mental health and runs with it well with a great first line: Read More

Nichols Kay

20 Books of Summer #8 & 9 – Nichols & Kay

Crazy Pavements by Beverley Nichols Knowing that Karen and Simon are both fans of Beverley Nichols, it was about time I read one of his books – I picked this one up a couple of years ago, so it was ideal to go into my 20 Books of Summer pile.  Nichols was a prolific writer: Read More

3 novellas aug 2017

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

To War with Whitaker

Book Group choice for April: Egypt

To War With Whitaker The Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly 1939-45 This month, our topic to choose a title was ‘Egypt’ – any book set in or about anything to do with the country. The nominations were: Death on the Nile – Christie Ice Cold in Alex – Christopher Landon Palace Walk by Read More

revolutionary-road

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Revolutionary Road

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, this meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six steps. (Here’s my one for last month – Never Let Me Go to Electricity by Ray Robinson). This month the starting book is Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Now this is a Read More

travelers

More thrillers from Anne Holt and Chris Pavone

Two more slightly shorter reviews of recent thriller reads… The Travelers by Chris Pavone They don’t come much more multi-layered than this complex thriller, published in March and now available in paperback. Will Rhodes is an award-winning, globe-trotting journalist – writing features for Travelers, a top travel magazine and travel agency. He and wife Chloe live Read More

thin-air

Michelle Paver x 2

Our Book Group choice to discuss this week as our themed ‘Horror/Ghost story’ selection was Michelle Paver’s first adult novel – Dark Matter – subtitled ‘A Ghost Story’. Her second novel, Thin Air – also ‘A Ghost Story’, was published recently too, so I’ll combine thoughts about the two into one post. Firstly, Dark Matter. Published in 2010 Read More

thirteen-ways-of-looking-xlarge

4 Stories, 13 views…

Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann My first encounter with McCann, this volume contains some of his shorter fiction: a full novella and three short stories of varying lengths. The titular novella has thirteen short chapters, each prefaced by lines from a poem about a blackbird that inspired the title (Thirteen Ways of Looking Read More

Semple 3

A Life in a Day… and Some

Today Will be Different by Maria Semple That’s what Eleanor Flood thinks – and it will be different, just not in the way she planned. This is the premise of Semple’s third novel, the follow-up to the hugely successful Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, which I’ve yet to read, but heard a lot of good things about… Read More

lying-in-wait

Two shorter reviews with missing bodies…

Today I have a couple of shorter reviews for you. Both novels I enjoyed reading very much, but ones I don’t want to say too much about to avoid spoiling the drama should you read them! Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent I read Irish author Liz Nugent’s first novel, Unraveling Oliver, a couple of years ago, Read More

Third Reich Bolano

Winning the war on holiday…

Third Reich by Roberto Bolano Wanting to join in Spanish Literature Month hosted by Stu and Richard, I grabbed the first book I came to on my shelves which turned out to be my second experience of reading Chilean author Roberto Bolano. My first was reading the confusing and slightly surreal Amulet which I talked Read More

Garnier edge

French, comic and dark – it’s a Pascal Garnier story…

Too Close to the Edge by Pascal Garnier Translated by Emily Boyce The dark short novels of Pascal Garnier have been a revelation for me (find out more here) so, the moment I got my hands on the latest to be translated by French to English specialists Gallic books, I just had to read it. He Read More

look at me

Three shorter reviews

Trading Futures by Jim Powell Matthew Oxenhay is having an existential crisis. He set his hippy ideals behind him long ago, swapping them for a career in the city, wife, kids, nice house in a nice London suburb. Then it was his 60th birthday, and shortly afterwards he lost his job, but his boss let Read More

The-Trees

The Trees: An Evening with Ali Shaw

Earlier this week, Mostly Books in Abingdon was privileged to be the first audience for Ali Shaw to talk solo about his wonderful new novel The Trees (which I reviewed for Shiny New Books here). The Trees is Ali’s third novel, and this was his third visit to Abingdon, (see also my posts about his visits for The Man Who Rained, and The Girl Read More

three-bedrooms

A double dose of Simenon including his most autobiographical roman dur…

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive. Three Bedrooms in Manhattan by Georges Simenon Last month I had the opportunity to meet John Simenon, Georges’s son at an event celebrating the prolific Belgian author and his work. Apart from all the Maigret novels, Simenon was famed for his romans durs (hard Read More

The Twin

Loneliness and a life wasted?

The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker Translated from the Dutch by David Colmer It’s quite a feat to win a major prize with your first novel, but that’s what The Twin did, taking the prestigious IMPAC Award in Dublin back in 2010. Henk and Helmer are twins – identical in features, but with very different characters. When they Read More

Travelling

Life with the Hawkings

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Firstly, a brief note about time… On Jan 25th, I went to see the film The Theory of Everything – the story of Jane and Stephen Hawking, based on Jane’s memoir.  It was bloody brilliant!  And its two young stars – Eddie Redmayne Read More

Concrete Island

From boys to grown men, a novel about love and friendship

These Things Happen by Richard Kramer A while ago, I was approached by a publicist from the USA who was trying to get some exposure for her client’s book in the UK/Europe – it’s a debut novel, but by an author with an awesome pedigree in the TV world. The book is These things happen by Read More

Concrete Island

Poor but mostly happy …

This Boy by Alan Johnson Politicians’ memoirs are not the norm for me to read when I choose non-fiction. Alan Johnson may be a fine politician, (and many think that Labour would be in a much better place if he had stood to become leader) but this volume doesn’t cover his later career, just his Read More

Concrete Island

Looking for 'Chap Last'

Thinkless by Sophie McCook It’s not often that I respond to a direct request from an author to review their book, but Sophie McCook wrote me a lovely note and she and her book sounded worth investigating. Thinkless comes from small publisher Limehouse Books in London, and Sophie who is based in Scotland has written for Read More

Concrete Island

A Comic Caper of Camelot and Cross-purposes…

The Table of Less Valued Knights by Marie Phillips I read Marie Phillips first novel, Gods Behaving Badly, an hilarious story of the Greek gods and goddesses living out their lives in modern day North London, pre-blog, and I loved it – I can remember that without having to go back to my records. These bickering Read More

Peirene 5

The spirit of Hemingway lives on…

Tomorrow Pamplona by Jan van Mersbergen translated from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson There’s no mistaking it – Tomorrow Pamplona is a very masculine novel. It combines boxing and bull-running with two men on a road-trip; but thankfully, there is much more to it than just those testosterone-fuelled scenarios. With these subjects, you can’t not compare it to Read More

Teller Nesbo Sabato

3 shorter reviews – Nesbo – Sabato – Teller

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive.   The Tunnel by Ernesto Sabato Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden, foreword by Colm Tóibín Ernesto Sabato died recently, just two months short of his one hundredth birthday.  He was regarded as one of the greats of Argentinian literature,  having Read More