A New York story of ancient Egypt…

The Weighing of the Heart by Paul Tudor Owen It’s rare that I accept a direct approach by an author to review their books, but I liked the premise of this book which combined the story of an Englishman in New York with an obsession about ancient Egyptian art, so I said, “yes,” when Paul, Read More

A perfectly-formed novella

West by Carys Davies West was shortlisted for this year’s Rathbones Folio Prize, and I’m so glad it was, so that when I spotted the new paperback in my local bookshop I bought a copy. In a mere 149 pages, Davies has written a story of epic scale. It’s just superb! Let me tell you Read More

Blogtour: Paver goes Gothic

Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver I’m delighted to be hosting the leg of the blogtour for Michelle Paver’s third adult novel on its publication day! I read and really enjoyed Paver’s first two, both ghost stories reviewed here. The first, Dark Matter was located in the Arctic which was followed by Thin Air set in the Read More

Review Catch-up #4 from 2018

This really is the last pair of books I read in the tail end of 2018 – from here-on in it’ll be 2019 reading all the way! But first two book group choices: Firstly the book we read over Christmas and discussed last week, and then February’s book – I’m writing about it now so Read More

Review Catch-up #3 from 2018

Yet another pair of shorter reviews of books I read at the tail-end of 2018. Where Shall We Run To? by Alan Garner I shall be reviewing this book at length for Shiny but it warrants a short write-up here too. I am a big Alan Garner fan (see here), and I can think of Read More

French YA Fantasy – Vol 1 of 4: Can’t wait for Vol 2!

A Winter’s Promise: Vol 1 of the Mirror Visitor Quartet by Christelle Dabos Translated by Hildegarde Serle Publishing YA books is a bit of a departure for Europa Editions, but they’ve taken on the English translation of this French bestseller, and I loved all 492 pages of this first volume. Couldn’t put it down, and Read More

20 Books of Summer #4 & #5 – Hamid and Miralles

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid Hamid’s 2017 Man Booker Prize and Rathbones Folio 2018 shortlisted novel is difficult to categorise.  At face value it is a classic boy meets girl, boy loses girl variant, a fable-style romance set in a contemporary Asian city that is not yet at war.  On another level, it is about Read More

20 Books of Summer #3 & #4: Young protagonists

What a Way To Go by Julia Forster I couldn’t resist the cover of this book – it was the ghetto blaster (as we called boomboxes then) on the front and cassette tapes on the back that took me right back to around 1979 when I bought one with my holiday job pay from the Read More

Review Catch-Up – McBain, Berthon, Ishiguro

Driving Lessons by Ed McBain McBain is most famous for his many 57th Precinct novels, but he has written many other books too. This slim book from 1999 was part of a series of novellas from Orion called Criminal Records. Some were published separately, the others anthologised in one volume edited by Otto Penzler. A Read More

Wellcome Book Prize #3 & #4: Adébáyọ̀ & Mannix

Stay with Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ Adébáyọ̀’s novel is the one fiction selection on this year’s Wellcome Prize shortlist. Although it has much to say about the patriarchal society of Nigeria in the 1980s, it surprised me with how much it does meet the prize criteria of a book that celebrates, ” the many ways Read More

Back in the Panhandle…

  Why Stuff Matters by Jen Waldo I loved Jen Waldo’s first novel, Old Buildings in North Texas which I reviewed for Shiny New Books here (with a Q&A with Jen here).  In it, Olivia, a wise-cracking cocaine addict, is sent back home to Caprock in the Texas panhandle, under her mother’s control as rehab.  Read More

Meanwhile at Shiny…

White Tears by Hari Kunzru I loved Kunzru’s last novel Gods Without Men (reviewed here), so I was really keen to read his latest. White Tears is the story of two young white men who discover and appropriate an old blues song, which drives them to the edge. It’s very thought-provoking and made me examine Read More

20 Books of Summer: Books 2 & 3 – experimental

Because I have such a backlog of books to write about, I’ll combine books 2 & 3 of my pile of 20 Books of Summer (see the full list here) into one post… Ablutions by Patrick de Witt Canadian, Patrick de Witt is the author of one of my favourite novels – The Sisters Brothers Read More

A novel life in a day…

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf I’ve been meaning to read Mrs Dalloway for years and years. It’s one of those novels that has influenced so many others that I feel I should read it. However, I will admit I find the idea of Woolf challenging, (only having previous toyed with Orlando).  What made me finally Read More

‘It’s not about the money, money, money’ – Oh yes it is!

Wake up Happy Every Day by Stephen May Last year, when I hosted my second Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week, Stephen May wrote a lovely guest post for my blog about the time he met BB and ended up giving her a piggyback!  (Do click HERE to read it.) It was immediately obvious that May is great Read More

A new imprint from Head of Zeus and a lovely launch title for it…

The White Hare by Michael Fishwick Head of Zeus, not content with launching their Apollo imprint for reprints last year, have now launched another. Zephyr will be for children’s books and I’m delighted to be the penultimate stop on the blog tour for its launch title, The White Hare, a novel for 12+ by Michael Fishwick. It’s Read More

Three Short Takes

The Wall by William Sutcliffe Although published as a YA title, and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2014, this novel has crossover appeal – and should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand more about Palestine, Israel and the West Bank settlements. Thirteen-year-old Joshua lives in a town called Amarias in the ‘Occupied Read More

Two shorter non-fic reviews

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately – including some absolute crackers that deserve a whole post to themselves – and I don’t mind saving them to write about for the new year. Meanwhile, today I have two shorter non-fic reviews for you… Set Phasers to Stun by Marcus Berkmann If you’ve read this Read More

Catch-up – two shorter reviews

My pile of books read but not reviewed yet is taller than I like, so here are two shorter reviews to catch up a little. Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson Only Hutchinson’s second novel, but you can tell the author has been writing other stuff for ages. Europe in Autumn, published in 2014, is the Read More

The first of two top notch psychothrillers…

After my disappointment last week reading The Girl on the Train (see here), I persevered to seek out a psychological thriller that I did like – and cor blimey – two came along at once, here’s my review of the first … The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware Ruth Ware’s second novel takes the classic Read More

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine

Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge (1980) Douglas Ashburner is going on holiday. He was surprised that his wife of twenty-six years was happy for him to disappear off to the Highlands for a fortnight’s fishing trip. Leaving her in bed, she waves him goodbye with a ‘queenly gesture of farewell’. Little does she know. His Read More

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: An Early Novel I

A Weekend With Claude by Beryl Bainbridge This was Beryl’s second novel, but the first to be published in 1967. Her first, Harriet Said, was finally published in 1972. When A Weekend with Claude came out, Beryl was 24, however she radically revised and rewrote it in 1981. It has a dual time-frame with a framing Read More

The story of a novel and how I got a quote inside it…

What If the Queen Should Die? by John-Paul Flintoff Today, my special subscriber’s copy of another Unbound book arrived. Unbound are a crowd-funding publisher – read my interview with them for Shiny New Books here to find out more. Once you’ve pledged to one book, it’s very tempting to pledge to another… and another. This is the fourth Read More

Coming of age in Hollywood

A Way of Life, Like Any Other by Darcy O’Brien Many book bloggers are fans of the NYRB Classics, and I think I first heard about this short novel from Thomas a tHogglestock and promptly acquired a copy which has sat on my shelves for a while – until encouraged by comments on my yellow TBR pile post Read More

Too clever for it’s own good?

Where there’s love, there’s hate by Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo Translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Kessica Ernst Powell Reviews earlier this year by Jacqui and Kaggsy alerted me to this story, and I picked up a copy from the novella table at Waterstones, Piccadilly on one of my trips to London. This little mystery was the Read More

Two shorter YA reviews

Republished back into my blog’s timeline from my ‘lost post archive’. We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach The world is going to end in ten chapters (weeks?) time when an asteroid called Ardor will crash into the Earth. If you’re a teenager, what are you going to do? There may be no future, so Read More

A modern take on Jeeves & Wooster

This post was edited and republished back into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Wake up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames Jonathan Ames is apparently a bit of a cult author in the USA – as novelist, essayist, columnist, storyteller and creator of a sitcom for HBO called Bored to Death. I’d not Read More

It’s a break-up novel…

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler Daniel Handler, best-known as the author of the Lemony Snicket series of books for children has also written several novels for adults; I reviewed one of them – Adverbs – here. Like Lemony Snicket, Adverbs was quirky and full of off-beat humour. Why We Broke Up is a little Read More

Shirley Jackson Reading Week 2015

  This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. It’s Shirley Jackson Reading Week – hosted by Simon, Jenny and Ana. I had been planning just to scan the posts as my pile of books I must read (e.g. Anthony Powell) is rather large, but what hey! Why not read a book too? It’s not Read More