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

Grant Wood American Gothic

It’s been a busy week…

I am nearly in possession of a newly rebuilt conservatory. The old one was single glazed and rotting away – you could see the outdoors at the corners of some windows where the wood was falling off. I managed to get a good deal to have all the glass replaced with UPVC, latest technology with Read More

i-see-you

This one gave me the creeps…

I See You by Clare Mackintosh I see you. But you do’t see me. You’re engrossed in your book; a paperback cover with a girl in a red dress. I can’t see the title but it doesn’t matter; they’re all the same. If it isn’t boy meets girl, it’s boy stalks girl. Boy kills girl. Read More

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Bookish Delights

Yesterday I was delighted to be invited to attend a bloggers afternoon at the Groucho Club hosted by literary agents PFD to meet and hear some of the authors shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times/Peters Fraser Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award – and you couldn’t hope for a more diverse collection of literary styles Read More

hughesm-countenancedivineuk

‘Till we have built Jerusalem, In Englands green & pleasant Land’

The Countenance Divine by Michael Hughes What a gorgeous cover, eh? Many among you will recognise the title of this novel as coming from Jerusalem – the celebrated hymn with words by Blake and music by Parry. In fact, Blake’s words are taken from the preface to a much longer work, Milton, a Poem. The short poem Read More

gorsky front

Great Gatsby, it’s Gorsky!

Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy This novel, a bold reimagining of The Great Gatsby relocated to contemporary London, longlisted for this year’s Bailey’s Prize, has turned out to be a bit of a marmite novel. There are roughly three camps of thought about it: Those who love The Great Gatsby and loved what Goldsworthy has done with Gorsky. Those who love The Great Read More

real tigers

The Slow Horses meet the Real Tigers

Real Tigers by Mick Herron This is the third of Mick Herron’s ‘Slough House’ spy novels, following Slow Horses and Dead Lions. Previously, I’d only read the first, Slow Horses (reviewed here), but found that it was alright to jump to the third; the references to the second novel are few and don’t affect the Read More

2016-02-20 Creasey Wheatley Salon (1024x576)

Celebrating John Creasey and Dennis Wheatley

Yesterday I went to another of literary agency PFD’s salons at the Groucho Club, this time to celebrate the books and lives of John Creasey and Dennis Wheatley.  Authors who were read by everyone at their peaks, hugely influential with totally different lives and styles – yet as we discovered, they have a lovely connection… Read More

Grey Squares

Lots of great books to look forward to

I was delighted to be invited to the Faber Spring Launch Party, which was held at a fabulous venue – the crypt on the green of St James Church in Clerkenwell – last night. It was also fantastic to meet up with old friends in Kim, Eric, Simon S and @flossieteacake, and talk to some other lovely people like the ladies from the Sevenoaks Read More

money-amis

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 More

Grey Squares

My Books of the Year 2014 – Part Two – The Blog edit

Yesterday I shared my best reads of 2014 as reviewed for Shiny New Books. Today, I turn my attention to titles reviewed here. The links will return you to my full reviews: – Best Retro-Subversive Laugh-Out-Loud Book Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler So nearly my book of the year, Discovering Scarfolk is just hilarious! Stuck firmly in Read More

Grey Squares

A post Cold-War spy drama

A Spy’s Life by Henry Porter Many moons ago I read Henry Porter’s first novel Rememberance Day (2000) which was a fast-moving spy thriller and I enjoyed it very much indeed. Finally, years later, I’ve read his second – another standalone spy-thriller about an ex-spy who finds out that you can never truly leave your former Read More

Grey Squares

My first Penelope Fitzgerald read…

At Freddie’s by Penelope Fitzgerald Penelope Fitzgerald is yet another of those lauded middle-brow female novelists from the second half of the twentieth century that I had not yet tackled. I’ve long been a champion of Beryl Bainbridge and Muriel Spark; I’ve added Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Forster, Edna O’Brien, Penelope Mortimer and not forgetting Barbara Read More

Grey Squares

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

Grey Squares

I get inside the Groucho Club (briefly)!

Just under a month ago, I blogged about the crowd-funding publisher Unbound and how much I was enjoying pledging my pennies towards getting books published – being a ‘Book Angel’ definitely appeals to me.  (Incidentally, I’ve just done Spotlight on Publishing article with Unbound which will be in the new edition of Shiny New Books Read More

slow horses

Echoes of Le Carré with a sense of humour …

Slow Horses by Mick Herron The other night I was meant to be going to my local bookshop Mostly Books for an event with Mick Herron, winner of the 2013 CWA Gold Dagger for his novel Dead Lions. Instead I ended up in MIU with my daughter who managed to break the fifth metatarsal in her left foot when she Read More

Rev diaries

The Divine Rev. Adam Smallbone …

The Rev. Diaries by The Reverend Adam Smallbone, (by Jon Canter) Now into its third short series on BBC2, the sitcom Rev continues to delight. It is simply hilarious, and absolutely hits the spot every time without being sacrilegious or blasphemous.  What is so lovely about it is that doesn’t make fun of faith per se; its targets Read More

Bottle Factory Outing

Bottling Things Up, or Bottling Out?

The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge A couple of weeks ago, Simon at Savidge Reads chose three books he was going to read before his imminent thirtieth birthday, (and he asked for more recommendations for forty books to read before he is forty.) One of the three was based on a suggestion of mine Read More

balthazar jones

The Yeomen of the Guard off duty …

Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo by Julia Stuart (republished into its original place in the time-line from my lost post archive) I’d picked this book up in a bookshop, and put it down again, thinking it might be a bit twee. Then I was offered a copy by the publisher and after Read More