In the Woods

What ‘Elle Thinks’ is Right … Tana French is Fab!

In the Woods by Tana French Every time Eleanor of Elle Thinks mentions Tana French (the latest being here), I say ‘I must read one of her books’. Tana French is one of Eleanor’s go-to comfort reads, and she is always recommending her.  Well, now I have read French’s first novel, and I can see Read More

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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

McInerny Viskic

Two shorter reviews – McInerny and Viskic

The Blood Miracles by Lisa McInerny I read and reviewed McInerny’s debut, The Glorious Heresies back in January, and although she paints a bleak picture of life for the dispossesed in Cork, the novel fizzed with sweary, gritty humour. I enjoyed it a lot, and was looking forward to The Blood Miracles. One of the Read More

The Reminders

Unforgettable

The Reminders by Val Emmich Ten-year-old Joan Lennon Sully has Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), a neurological condition. She can remember everything that happened to her in detail – this is biographical rather than photographic memory, she can’t ace exams but can tell  you what she was wearing on any particular day for instance. Joan Read More

All the good things

Blog Tour – All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

Today, it is my turn on the blog tour for Clare Fisher’s strong debut novel – see the banner at the bottom for all the other ports of call. Fisher’s debut is an interesting take  on a  story we’ve all heard before in which a vulnerable young woman,  who has been bounced from foster home Read More

name of the family

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

keeper-lost-things

A debut with a great concept…

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan Laura, reeling from the break-up of her marriage to Vince, goes to work as an assistant to ageing short story author or renown, Anthony Peardew. “When he had interviewed her all those years ago, he had been a tall, muscular man with a full head of dark Read More

commitments

More short takes

In an effort to clear my TBReviewed pile, here are two more shorter reviews: The Commitments by Roddy Doyle (re-read) This was our book group choice for last month – when we picked from a shortlist with a ‘Music’ theme. It was a re-read for me, and gosh this story of Jimmy Rabbitte and his 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

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

only ever yours

An Atwoodian YA tale…

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill It’s rare that a cover quote on a book cover sums up a novel so completely, but the one from Vagenda on one of the paperback editions of Louise O’Neill’s debut novel is near-perfect: ‘Mean Girls meets The Handmaid’s Tale’ But of course I can’t leave it there! The moment I Read More

how you see me

A novel of one-sided letters…

How You See Me by S.E. Craythorne This is the last of my reviews of books I finished reading in 2015; I thought I’d better get a few thoughts down before the memory of reading it fades too much. As Susan said in a recent post, ‘I have a weakness for debuts’ – you never know 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

versions-of-us

The One Version of Laura Barnett

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive. The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett Last night it was a balmy evening in Abingdon – perfect for an author event in the packed courtyard garden of Mostly Books during Independent Bookshop Week. Visiting was Laura Barnett, author of The Versions of Us, a Read More

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The case of the missing disk…

Acts of Omission by Terry Stiastny Thrillers set in the world of modern British politics are not that common compared with those led by the spies who report to the politicians; Acts of Omission is mainly the former. It is the debut novel by a former BBC News reporter who worked in Berlin in the late 1990s and is Read More

miniaturist

Book Group Report on a Dutch Drama…

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton You know how it is with book group choices – sometimes you can’t find a lot to talk about? Well, The Miniaturist ISN’T one of those books! While it’s fair to say that no-one in our group Read More

Virgin Suicides

First person plural…

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides Two things prompted me to promote this novel, which had been in my bedside TBR bookcase for ages, to the top of the pile. Firstly, although not written for teens, I cited it Read More

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"I've been to paradise, but I've never been to me"

Love & Fallout by Kathryn Simmonds Tessa is one of those middle-aged women that do causes. She co-runs a (failing) green charity running workshops for schools and colleges and she’s always got a local campaign on the go – this time saving the playing field from development. She doesn’t take much time for herself (or Read More

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5 Characters in Search of a Theme Song

Love, Love Me Do by Mark Haysom Looking at the title and cover of this book, I was expecting something light-hearted, a little bit sixties rock’n’roll, a bit Nick Hornby-ish if you will – and involving a caravan. Well the last bit was right, less so the others. The title, that of the Beatles’ first Read More

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"…good to get out of the rain."

You all know how I love to use a good quote from a song lyric to introduce a review. There are just so many songs about rain though… but I have two oft-used favourites that always seem to yield an appropriate phrase for me – one is Hotel California by the Eagles; the other, as Read More

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We followed our men to Los Alamos …

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit This is not a novel about the development of the atom bomb, but rather the development of the community surrounding the laboratory which produced the bomb. Most of the scientists who worked at Los Alamos were seconded to the military from all over the country in 1943 Read More

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Always read the small print!

Terms & Conditionsby Robert Glancy Frank has been in a car accident – it turns out it was a bad one, and he’s lost his memory*.  He can’t remember people, but can remember his job**.  He works for the family firm, chaired by his older brother Oscar♦. As he begins to remember things, he realises Read More

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Mix Douglas Adams with Jewish Mysticism, Marco Polo, a dash of the X-Men and time travel for weird fun!

A Highly Unlikely Scenario : Or, a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor If I said that a wacky speculative fiction novel about a 21st century world governed by the philosophies adopted by fast food chains was actually great fun to read, you might begin to doubt my sanity.  I Read More

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A novel of ‘The Troubles’

Harry’s Game by Gerald Seymour I was amazed to find that this thriller from 1975 was Gerald Seymour’s début novel. Because of its setting, it is the kind of book that my late mother would never have read, and we read a lot of thrillers betweeen us in our household back then. She was born and Read More

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A dreamlike novel of longing

Glaciers by Alexis M Smith I couldn’t resist the cover of this short novel the moment I spotted it, and felt it – you can’t see the embossing of figure, her bicycle and the title. There’s a sunny hopeful quality to the cover, and it matches the story perfectly. This debut novel is short with just Read More

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‘I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood’…

The Almost Lizard by James Higgerson I’m twenty-one years old today, and once I’ve finished this little introduction I’m going to kill myself. … Not many can spend their final few weeks on this earth writing their autobiography, a to-the-minute summary of all that has occurred within their lifespan. But most of us leave this Read More

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Travelling Man

Lost Luggageby Jordi Punti, translated from the Catalan by Julie Wark. This is the story of Gabriel Delacruz, orphan, international furniture remover and father to four sons. Four boys – born in four different countries to four different mothers; one German, one English, one French and one Spanish, and all christened the local equivalent of the Read More

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From the Silk Road to Norwood

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson It’s 1923. Evangeline English is accompanying her sister Lizzie as part of a Christian mission to Kashgar, in Western China on the ancient Silk Road route. Eva in turn is accompanied by her trusty bicycle. She keeps a diary about their expedition which she plans to Read More

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Still shocking after all these years …

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks Distractions! I had hoped to read or re-read more Banks books by now. But better late than never, I have returned to the beginning and re-read The Wasp Factory again, and updated my BanksRead page. Published in 1984, I read it for the first time in 1985 when the paperback Read More

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Stirring things up on Martha’s Vineyard

Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann Cousins, Nick and Helena Derringer, grew up spending their summers at Tiger House on the Vineyard. Now WWII has ended, they’re grown up and married, Nick to Hughes, freshly returned from the navy and working in Florida, and newly-wed Helena to Avery, a Hollywood producer. Florida doesn’t suit Read More