In short – some recent reads

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan Oh, what a nostalgia trip this book was. There has been so much love for it all over the blogosphere, and quite right too. I rediscovered so many books I’d forgotten, I might even re-read some of them. There were others I’ve never read but would like to – can you Read More

Book Group report – July – ‘Fire’

After the Fire by Will Hill This was our book group choice for July. Our theme was ‘Fire’ – and we all liked the sound of this novel inspired by the Waco cult, not realising that it was a YA book at the time. Over the years we have read a handful of YA novels, Read More

Some not-as-good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #5

For the fifth in my series of posts in which I bring you the short capsule reviews I used to write pre-blog. I’m turning my attention to some novels that didn’t quite make the grade this time. This batch are all from 2007 or earlier. The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun Read More

Two recent science books

Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity by Jamie Metzl Genetic engineering is a controversial topic, and news coverage is generally lacking in proper detail or hopelessly biased one way or another. There are so many scare stories, alongside the fantastic developments that will undoubtedly be helpful to mankind. The words ‘genetic engineering’ Read More

A Catch-up Interlude – My own private film festival

I love movies and I have shelves of unwatched DVDS. This week I’ve been watching a film or two a day – here’s a few words about what I’ve seen… Arrival 12 alien spaceships arrive on Earth, distributed around the globe. Each host nation races to be the first to discover why they are there. Read More

Spooks v Terrorists

A Fatal Game by Nicholas Searle I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Nicholas Searle’s latest novel, for there is not much I enjoy reading more than a spy story. A Fatal Game is Searle’s third novel; his first The Good Liar, a psychological thriller, has been filmed with Helen Mirren Read More

A Mexican tragedy – a thriller as reportage

Call Him Mine by Tim MacGabhann the book you have in front of you now – isn’t quite a nonfiction novel, and it’s most certainly not news, but it’s not quite fiction, either. In Mexico, there’s a strong tradition of the crónica, a hybrid form that owes its subjectivity to reportage, its questioning of onjectivity Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Where the Wild Things Are

Hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. So without further ado, our starting book this month is … Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak As Read More

20 Books of Summer #1 & #2: Rooney & Torday

Red Joan by Jennie Rooney You may remember the case of Melita Norwood, a British civil servant who passed secrets to the KGB for around 30 years after 1937. She wasn’t uncovered until 1999, but wasn’t prosecuted, dying in 2005, aged 93. Red Joan, Rooney’s 2013 novel was inspired by Norwood’s story (the recent film adaptation directed by Read More

Guest Post: TJ Gorton on the inspiration for his novel Only the Dead

Quartet is an indie publisher that always publishes interesting books – indeed they describe themselves as having ‘a fine tradition of pursuing an alternative to the mainstream’. So when I was invited to join the blog tour for their latest novel to be published, I said yes but knowing my review pile was teetering opted Read More

Indie Bookshop Week: Katherine Rundell & Lucy Mangan

Each year the bods that run Independent Bookshop Week commission an author to write an essay about books and reading, published as a little single: Philip Pullman, Robert MacFarlane, Julian Barnes, Anne Patchett and Mark Forsyth among them, and initially only available from independent bookshops. These little books have always been a couple of quid Read More

Life as a WPC

On the Line by Alice Vinten We are all fascinated by other peoples’ lives these days. Narrative non-fiction as publishers call the mixture that includes history, politics, biography and memoir – any non-fiction that tells a story. Doctors and surgeons’ memoirs, have been joined by nurses, midwives, chefs, firemen, barristers and more, and now by Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #4

I’ve plundered my master spreadsheet yet again to bring you more of my capsule reviews from my pre-blog years. This batch are all from 2007… Babycham Night: A childhood at the end of the pier by Philip Norman Renowned author and biographer of The Beatles, Philip Norman grew up on the Isle of Wight after Read More

Review Roundup

Catch-up time once again. Some shorter thoughts on some recent reads… The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon I read this as a buddy read with Rebecca at Bookish Beck – do go and read her fab post composed mostly from her twitter thoughts chapter by chapter here, so just a few Read More

A perfectly-formed novella

West by Carys Davies West was shortlisted for this year’s Rathbones Folio Prize, and I’m so glad it was, so that when I spotted the new paperback in my local bookshop I bought a copy. In a mere 149 pages, Davies has written a story of epic scale. It’s just superb! Let me tell you Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Murmur

Hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in titles will take you to my reviews. So without further ado, our starting book this month is … Murmur by Will Eaves I loved Murmur, and was so happy that Read More

An evening with Claire Fuller at Mostly Books

I went to my local indie bookshop in Abingdon, Mostly Books, for a ‘Book Group’ style event with Claire Fuller, (in the middle above) talking about her third novel Bitter Orange, which is now out in paperback. I’ve read and really enjoyed Claire’s previous two books: her debut Our Endless Numbered Days (see here) and second novel Swimming Lessons (here). I’m Read More

Two from the Library – one yeah, one meh…

One of the great things about borrowing books from the library is that you can take a chance on books – which is what I did recently with a whole load of poetry and novels. The only problem then, is that you might not enjoy them all. Here are thoughts on two of them – Read More

A love letter to his wife

About Alice by Calvin Trillin I was going to choose the only other book I’ve read by Trillin for the letter T in my go at Simon’s Twitter tag #AToZofBooks which I’ve enjoyed doing over the past couple of days, but I got distracted by another author. Tepper Isn’t Going Out (reviewed here), which I read back in late 2008, is a comic masterpiece all Read More

The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen Blogtour

I am delighted to be today’s stop on the blogtour for this delightful book. William Woolf is a letter detective. He’s worked at the Dead Letters Depot in East London for eleven years, one of a team of thirty, dedicated to finding the right home for all the letters and packages that arrive with missing, Read More

Crime Panel Event Night at Mostly Books

Last night was a very special event at Mostly Books – the first time I can remember that four wonderful authors crammed into this small shop with as large an audience as could be fitted in! They were: William Shaw – author of the excellent Alexandra Cupidi series of Kentish crime novels (and the Breen Read More

Review Catch-up

I’m so behind on my reviews, here are two shorter ones… Tony Hogan Bought me an Ice Cream Float before he Stole my Ma by Kerry Hudson This debut novel was our book group read this month. The title is rather off-putting, sounding like a C&W ballad, but it is apt – for the main Read More

An evening with Kate Clanchy and her new book

Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me by Kate Clanchy Some of you may know Kate Clanchy’s work from her super comic novel Meeting the English (see here) or her earlier memoir Antigona and Me (see here), about a refugee who became her cleaner and nanny. She has also published books of poetry Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #3

Plundering my capsule reviews from my pre-blog days on my master spreadsheet – a selection from 2007 for you this time. Hullaballoo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai A funny, gentle and very jolly satire on fake holy men and the followers they attract; almost an Indian Life of Brian! Sampath’s family despair of Read More

Review catch-up

On Presence: Essays | Drawings by Peter Reason and Sarah Gillespie Recruiting Peter to the team of Shiny New Books reviewers was a bit of a coup – in fact he approached us. A retired professor, he has a deep interest in the natural world and humanity’s place in the ecology of the planet. His Read More