Hamid Miralles

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

Reading Ireland 2018

Reading Ireland month

March is Reading Ireland Month, as always hosted by Cathy at 746 books and Niall at The Fluff is Raging.  I forgot that Tana French in my previous post is Irish, so I’ve actually read two books by Irish authors this month (plus another coming up for Shiny next week). Here’s the second…   From a Low Read More

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

Edith and Oliver

The Magician and his Wife

Edith and Oliver by Michelle Forbes I managed to miss Forbes’s debut, Ghost Moth, which received rave reviews – something I should remedy having read her second novel. Edith and Oliver is set in the world of the Edwardian music hall and after a flash-forward prologue, begins with a memorable morning after the night before Read More

Wake up happy hbk

‘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

P1040557 (1024x768)

Busy, busy, busy… and meanwhile at Shiny…

My poor blog – I’ve been neglecting it of late, life’s been so busy!  The next couple of weeks should be easier, although my priority will be supporting my daughter in her GCSE revision. Still, we did manage to get to IKEA earlier this week, and I now have a rather lovely new armchair/rug/coffee table Read More

English Animals

Is this how others view Little England…

English Animals by Laura Kaye Reading this sparkling debut, in which Mirka, a young Slovakian woman, finds herself working for an English couple in the depths of the countryside, I couldn’t help thinking of what it was like to listen to The Archers for the first time. All those posh folk going on about pheasant Read More

Wall

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

moving

One house, one extended family, many stories

Moving by Jenny Eclair Moving is Jenny Eclair’s fourth novel and is her most accomplished yet, seeing her move from the bittersweet comedy of her brilliant debut, Camberwell Beauty (which I read pre-blog), to a touching drama. Ever the comedian, Moving is still full of wit, but it is definitely not a comedy. Moving is told in Read More

shopgirl-book

Shopgirl – Film & Book

Shopgirl by Steve Martin I adore Steve Martin’s writing – see my review of his tremendous memoir Born Standing Up here, and his 2010 novel An Object of Beauty at my old blog here. I finally got around to reading his first fictional publication Shopgirl, a few weeks ago, and yesterday I watched the film, Read More

Why we broke up

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

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

Dancing Powell

Dancing the Seasons with Powell #4

Republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost post archive   A Dance to the Music of Time 4: At Lady Molly’s We reach Summer with volume four of Powell’s sequence following the life of Nick Jenkins and his contemporaries.The initial three Spring novels were about growing up and establishing oneself in the world and in The Read More

Dancing Powell

Dancing the Seasons with Powell #3

Republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost post archive   A Dance to the Music of Time 3: The Acceptance World We come to the third volume in Anthony Powell’s series – the last of the ‘Spring’ books. (If you’d like to catch up with volumes one and two, click accordingly.) The Acceptance World begins with Nick Jenkins meeting 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

Throw Away Unopened

"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

Throw Away Unopened

A novel of fragile youth and Sylvia Plath…

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer Meg Wolitzer is best known for her quirky feminist novels about gender politics. I admit I’ve not read any of them, although the comedy aspects of her novel The Position appeal, in which a couple’s children discover that their parents are the creators of a sex manual featuring themselves, this event having Read More

Throw Away Unopened

Rule Britannia …

Expo 58 by Jonathan Coe I’ve long been a fan of Jonathan Coe, enjoying all of the books of his that I’ve read so far, from the broad comedy of What a carve up, to the heartbreak of The Rain Before it Falls, via the 1970s revisited in The Rotter’s Club. I was lucky enough Read More

Throw Away Unopened

“The extraordinary happens every day”

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness Having wept like a baby during reading Ness’s last crossover novel, A Monster Calls (my review here) – a story about a young boy coming to terms with love, death and grief, and incorporating magical elements and fables, The Crane Wife – his first full adult novel seems a natural progression. The Crane Read More

Throw Away Unopened

Gone Girl meets The Secret History – not quite, but a good try

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight When a novel sets itself up on the front cover to be compared to Gone Girl (my review here), and in other places I’ve seen it compared to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, it raises the bar rather high… Kate is a hard-working lawyer and single mum to teenage daughter Amelia, Read More

Throw Away Unopened

“Let all the children boogie”

One of my daughter’s favourite programmes from the noughties was My Parents are Aliens which ran on Children’s ITV from 1999-2006. In it a pair of marooned Valuxians morph into humans and adopt three orphaned children in an attempt to fit in, and experience many funny things as they learn what it is to be human. Read More

Throw Away Unopened

Another visual stunner from Luhrmann

The Great Gatsby – directed by Baz Luhrmann The moment that Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway finally met Gatsby, when Leonardo Dicaprio turned around and smiled that smile, my heart did a little leap, and it confirmed for me that he was perfect for the role, and that this film was going to be totally Read More

Throw Away Unopened

Finding one’s inner animal?

A Man in the Zoo & Lady into Fox by David Garnett Until I encountered the blogosphere, I had only ever encountered David Garnett (1892-1981) as the author of a novel that Andrew Lloyd-Webber based his musical Aspects of Love on. Garnett was part of the Bloomsbury Group. He was lover of Duncan Grant, and his second wife Read More

Throw Away Unopened

A little London loving – 1960s style…

Georgy Girlby Margaret Forster Margaret Forster is somehow one of those familiar authors, although I’ve read any of her books.  Over the last fifteen years or so, I’ve seen several of her books in shops; The Memory Box is a title that stuck in my mind.  Although I’ve no idea how old she is, or Read More

Throw Away Unopened

The other half's story …

Mr Bridge (Penguin Modern Classics) by Evan S Connell Written ten years after  his 1959 novel Mrs Bridge, Connell’s companion piece Mr Bridge tells the story of the Bridge family through the same time period from the 1930s into WWII, but from the husband’s point of view. I read and adored Mrs Bridge a couple of weeks Read More

Throw Away Unopened

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