Kal Wang Swift

Review catch-up!

I’ve rather a large pile of unreviewed books I read in 2017 to catch up on, so today I have some shorter reviews for you… When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi I love medical memoirs, especially surgeon’s tales, but occasionally a book will come along that will knock you sideways. When Breath Becomes Air Read More

SHORT STORIES TWITTER4

PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year shortlist – Sally Rooney

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney This was the title on the Young Writer Award shortlist that I had the most trepidation about reading. Many friends have read and loved it, but, it hasn’t gelled with everyone.  Also, a contemporary novel about modern relationships between four younger people in Dublin – I mean, I’m old Read More

Can You Hear Me

One for #WITMonth at Shiny…

Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello Translated by Alex Valente August is Women in Translation month – and my review of  this debut novel by Italian author Elena Varvello is over at Shiny New Books. A combination of psychothriller and coming of age story that works, brilliantly, these two theme entwine around each other, Read More

Forever

A modern classic teen text?

Forever by Judy Blume Blume wrote Forever back in 1975, long before the YA subdivision in children’s publishing had been conceived of.  Her novel of “first love, first sex and first heartbreak” was a brave one then, resulting in it being banned in many schools and libraries. However it became an underground and later mainstream Read More

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4 3 2 1 – Go! At last, a review…

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster This is the book I’ve been most excited about since I got my hands on it before Christmas, yet, it has taken until now to review it. My reading of this wonderful, ‘big fat book’ (Auster’s words) has history: I was invited to join an online book group Read More

Narcissim for Beginners

Meet Martine McDonagh…

Martine McDonagh is more than a little bit rock ‘n’ roll – she was manager of British indie pop band James for nearly ten years – designed their daisy logo, and sang backing vocals on their big hit ‘Sit down‘. When Myriad editions offered me a copy of her first novel I have Waited and Read More

White Hare

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

v for violet

There’s a girl works down the chip shop swears she knows whodunnit…

V for Violet by Alison Rattle This is Alison Rattle’s fourth YA novel, and it’s a bit of a departure, the other three having been set in the Victorian era. I read and reviewed her second, The Madness, for Shiny New Books (see here), and I enjoyed the doomed romance between classes which turns to Read More

all the birds

Science vs Magic in a Dystopian World

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders The minute I read the tag-line on the press release for this book, I knew I had to read it: ‘A witch, a scientist and the end of the world’. This novel tries to do something that is not often seen in genre fiction – melding fantasy and 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

ed ob 1

A banned book for Reading Ireland

The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien I’ve been meaning to read more by O’Brien ever since I inherited my Mum’s old Penguins. She was a fan of O’Brien and I really enjoyed her Earthy novel August is a Wicked Month. I had thought to start the Country Girls trilogy sooner but found I was missing the first volume Read More

lukavics

Catching up on reviewing…

My to be reviewed pile is larger than I like and I don’t want to forget the books – so here are some shorter reviews for you: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics This is one scary novel – published as a YA book but is definitely not for younger teenaged readers! The story is narrated Read More

grasshopper jungle

Something ‘that scares me’…

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith One of the few remaining squares on my summer(!) book bingo card has been crossed off with this novel. I find few ghost stories truly scary and own few horror novels of the type that would Read More

Young God

A strong new voice…

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive. Young God by Katherine Faw Morris I bought this short novel on Elle’s recommendation after she responded to my post about the number of male authors I tend to read (that post in itself was a response to hers on the same subject). Young God is the debut Read More

Ship

A waterworld

This post has been edited and republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. The Ship by Antonia Honeywell I’m on a watery/eco-thriller/dystopian reading binge at the moment, set off by picking up this novel – I couldn’t resist the colourful cover with its silhouette of a broken London landscape and a nod Read More

Forman

Trending: Tough Issue Lit for Teens

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s orignal timeline from my lost post archive. See, being an eternal optimist, I can’t even bring myself to say the word ‘suicide’ in my blog post title – yet as a subject of teen novels, I’m seeing it and mental health related illness cropping up more and Read More

Dancing Powell

Dancing the Seasons with Powell #1

Republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost post archive   A Dance to the Music of Time 1: A Question of Upbringing Looking out of his window at some workmen around a brazier, Nicholas Jenkins is reminded of the four seasons on Poussin’s celebrated painting (detail above), and the passing of time in his life. Read More

Concrete Island

My Books of the Year 2014 – Part One – the Shiny Edit…

This year for the first time, I’ve split my best of list in two. Having read around 130 books this year, there are too many to feature in just one post and there is an obvious split – today’s first part will feature those books that I’ve reviewed over at Shiny New Books.  Forgive me for continually 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

how-to-build-a-girl

“We gotta get out of this place…”

This post was republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran I’ll start up front by saying that this book is one of the sweariest, wankiest, shaggiest stories I’ve ever read, and it’s narrated by a teenager who is just fourteen at the outset. The Read More

Concrete Island

'Finishing' in 1930s Munich

Winter Games by Rachel Johnson Upon receiving Rachel Johnson’s latest novel, a  tale of toffs being ‘finished’ in pre-war Germany, I dove in straight away and devoured it. The cover refreshingly has a headed young woman with her face showing on, which makes a nice change to the usual headless or back views we’re subjected Read More

Concrete Island

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 Read More

True Grit

Getting the right man for the job …

Republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive – and for the 1968 club. True Grit by Charles Portis This was our Book Group choice for reading in March.  It’s fair to say that while no-one hated it, not everybody loved it like I did.  One thing that we were all agreed on Read More

3 March 2011

3 from March 2011 – Handler – Reed – Fredericks

Adverbs by Daniel Handler – Lemony Snicket for Grown-ups 3 from March 2011 This author is best known as the writer of the fun Lemony Snicket series of novels for children.  I’ve read the first Lemony Snicket novel, and heard the audiobook narrated by Tim Curry, (I just love his voice!) and one day intend to read the rest of the Read More

Jan 2011 2 WWII Reviews

Two 2011 reviews set during WWII: Fallada & Dogar

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada Translated by Michael Hofmann I was put off reading this book for months, anticipating that it would be too difficult, too philosophical, too heavy; also that being 608 pages including appendices it would take too long to read.  I was wrong on all accounts. Alone in Berlin was written in just Read More

Jan 2011 3 Reviews

3 reviews from Jan 2011: Hornby, Jensen & Gaiman

Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby I don’t know how he does it, but there’s something about a Nick Hornby book that so hooks me, that I feel part of the story – I can always identify with some of the characters. Juliet Naked is the story of a lost rock star, a completist fan and his Read More

Woodrell pair

An author I’ll always look out for …

Daniel Woodrell …is barely known in this country, but has started to increase his profile a little with the release of a highly acclaimed film (it won at Sundance) made of his 2006 novel Winter’s Bone.  He’s actually written eight novels, all of them set in the area he knows best – the Missouri Ozarks – Read More

Story Sisters

Sisters are doing it …

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman Elv, Claire and Meg Story are sisters.  They’re extremely close, inventing a language all of their own – Arnish – even their mother is excluded from their fantasy world, and the younger two are always rapt with Elv’s storytelling about the fairy land of Arnelle.  Theirs is a world full Read More

living-dead-2

Return of the Living Dead …

It’s that time of year again when I fit a few spooky novels into my October reading plans.  Last year I read only vampire stories – this year I’m ranging more widely for fearsome creatures and I’ve started off with a ‘Teen Gothic’ novel about werewolves… Claire De Lune by Christine Johnson Claire is just a Read More