The Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year 2018 Bloggers Event

Last year I was privileged to be on the official Shadow Judges Panel for this super award – you can read about my experiences here. One of the key events in the awards calendar each year is the Bloggers Event which is held at the Groucho Club in London, and I was delighted to be Read More

Two recent Shiny reviews…

I’m off to London today for the annual PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year blogger’s do at the Groucho (yes, I’m name-dropping), so here are links to my two Shiny reviews this week. Either would make wonderful Christmas presents…. Eye of the Shoal by Helen Scales Marine biologist Scales, having previously written books Read More

Graphic Short Stories, Adrian Tomine style…

Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine I’ve long been a fan of graphic artistTomine’s individual cartoons including covers for The New Yorker like this one (right, which is available as a greetings card!), but I’d never read any of his stories before. Killing and Dying is his 2015 collection of six short stories, written and Read More

Novellas in November Part 1

This year I’m joining in with Novellas in November, a long-running tag now sort of shepherded by Laura at Reading in Bed.  I absolutely love novellas, that extra length over a short story, of say up to 150 pages, gives space for development of plot and characters, but still requires the author to move things Read More

Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

Nonfiction November is being hosted by Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Julie (JulzReads), and Katie (Doing Dewey). through the site What’s Nonfiction?  They have a wonderful programme mapped out for November here. The topic for the second week is “book pairings” – matching a nonfiction book with a fiction one, which Read More

Coming in January – Echoes of Eco

Inspired by the comments on my post the other day on this month’s Six Degrees of Separation tag, I’ve decided to set myself a little project for January, and you’re all welcome to join in.  The starting book for the tag this month was Vanity Fair – and much as I’d love to read that Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Vanity Fair

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Our starting book this month is … Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray Never read it – I ought to though, for I’m sure I’d enjoy it – just Read More

Nonfiction November – My Year in Non-fiction

Nonfiction November is being hosted by Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Julie (JulzReads), and Katie (Doing Dewey). through the site What’s Nonfiction?  They have a wonderful programme mapped out for November here. The topic for the first week is “Your Year in Nonfiction ” in which we’re encouraged to Read More

RIP XIII – Book 2

Dead Funny – ed. Robin Ince & Johnny Mains Horror Stories by Comedians This little book is my second read for R.I.P. XIII (more about that here). It comprises sixteen ‘horror stories written by comedians’ and was published by Salt in 2014, and followed up two years later by Dead Funny: Encore. Short stories and Read More

Beaucoup de Wit(t)!

French Exit by Patrick deWitt One thing’s clear: Canadian author deWitt is incapable of writing the same thing twice. Each of his four novels is unique – from the bartender making notes about his customers for a novel in his debut Ablutions (see here) to the The Blues Brothers meets Deadwood of the fabulous The Sisters Read More

NYRB Fortnight (belated) – Alfred Hayes

I spotted that Lizzy was hosting an NYRB fortnight rather late in the actual fortnight, but I started reading this slim volume on the last day, so it counts in my book! My Face For the World to See by Alfred Hayes Hayes, who was born in London but emigrated to the US as a Read More

Shiny Linkiness

Eric Idle – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography Yesterday I reviewed Eric Idle’s ‘Sortabiography’ for Shiny.   Read the full review here. He and Michael Palin have always been my favourite Pythons, so I was fascinated to read Idle’s memoir. However, he remains a slippery character – self-deprecating, one who’d rather Read More

The 1944 Club and a wartime classic

1944 is the latest year selected by Simon and Karen in their biannual reading years club.  When I looked at my shelves, I didn’t have much choice from this year – Colette’s Gigi, which as a short novella I’ll try and squeeze in, and my choice below were the only ones immediately to hand (although I think Read More

Two in short: Tremain and Laurain

Because the authors’ names rhyme, and I haven’t got a huge amount to say about these novels, despite enjoying them both a lot, here’s a twofer for you: The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain This was our book group read, discussed back at the start of the month. It was mostly a hit with our Read More

The Ultimate Toilet Book for Christmas?

Dear Mr Pop Star by Derek and Dave Philpott I wish I’d thought of the central idea in this book – it’s a classic of pedantry that had me guffawing so many times. Devised by a dad and son combo, it’s aimed firmly at others like them, especially those who grew up from the 1970s Read More

The immigrant experience in a North London estate

In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne Gunaratne’s novel was longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, but sadly didn’t make the shortlist. It has now been shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize – an award that celebrates creatively daring fiction. Daring it is, for never have I read a book where the dialogue Read More

RIP XIII: A Dystopian SF Horror Fantasy

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer I just adored Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy (see here). His ability to create a genre-defying, strange but real feeling version of our world is unparalleled, and he does it again with Borne.  The setting is in the future after some kind of devastating event, involving the Company – a mysterious organisation 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

Who better to talk about the surrealists?

The Lives of the Surrealists by Desmond Morris Surrealism was originally more than an art movement, it was a philosophical code – a way of living that rebelled against the establishment.  Originating in  1920s Paris, following the Dadaists in WWI, it spread world-wide. The term ‘surrealism’ was coined by Apollinaire a few years before two Read More

An understated but moving novel with the cutest cover ever!

If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura Translated by Eric Selland I think the little kitten on this book must rank amongst the cutest cats ever to grace a cover.  What you can’t see from the picture above is that his eyes are highlighted with gold, glinting at you, and daring you to Read More

A standalone thriller that’s far from Slough House…

This is What Happened by Mick Herron This is going to be a short review… Mick Herron is the author of the utterly brilliant Jackson Lamb series of spy novels, following the workers of Slough House, where agents get put out to pasture. (If you haven’t read them, see here, here and here!)  He’s taken Read More

Shiny Linkiness: Aug into Sept

Over the past few weeks, I’ve reviewed three cracking new novels for Shiny New Books… … Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale Gale’s latest is just lovely. This novel is a wonderful blend of coming of age story, small-town childhood, friendship and finding oneself, bound up with a love of music, cello music in Read More

Book Group Report: Purple

The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel Continuing our Book Group selections inspired by colours.  At our June meeting it was time to nominate ‘purple’ books to read in August and discuss at the beginning of September.  Our initial shortlist was: The Colour Purple by Alice Walker Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg (Wioletta being Polish for Read More

Fake or Fortune? Rachman takes on the art market…

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman Engaging from the first page, this is a story with two main themes. Firstly, art and the art market – if this book were to have a subtitle, Fake or Fortune’ couldn’t be more apt, as in that BBC TV programme where art dealer Philip Mould with sidekick Fiona Read More

One challenge ends, another begins: RIP XIII

The RIP Challenge is now in its thirteenth year! I’ve never signed up before, but the basic premise of this one should be a doddle for me given my penchant for dark books as autumn gets into full swing. Find out the full details and participation levels of the challenge here.  The purpose of the R.I.P. Read More

A London Day Out

On the last of our London days out these summer holidays, my daughter and I experienced several real treats (at half-price entry thanks to our Art Fund Passes, which have got a lot of use this summer)… Stop 1 – The House of Illustration – John Vernon Lord and Enid Marx The House of Illustration Read More

Très charmant! J’ai adoré ce roman

With You in Paris by Clémentine Beauvais Translated by Sam Taylor After the excess of English whimsy (thanks for that phrase, Liz!) of The Brontes Went to Woolworths, I needed a palate-cleanser of a read. Usually, I turn to thrillers, but this book on my bedside shelf caught my eye, and it was just the perfect Read More