A novella for #NovNov and #SciFiMonth

The Strange Bird by Jeff Vandermeer Never has an idiom been less appropriate to apply to a book, than the opportunity with this one to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ as it fits two current tags! Jeff Vandermeer’s novels defy easy categorisation, combining SF with fantasy, horror, dystopias, eco-thrillers and more, demonstrating imagination in Read More

Reviews catch-up: Harris, Murata, Daré & Wigglesworth

My pile of read but not yet reviewed books runneth over, so some shorter notes follow, plus some Shiny linkiness. The Book Lover’s Quiz Book – Novel Conundrums by Gary Wigglesworth My full review of this fun book is over at Shiny, but I’m writing about it here too as it’s an ideal Christmas present Read More

Smoke and mirrors – some novels about Magicians

Novels involving magicians – illusionists and conjurors rather than Gandalf types that is, score highly on my literary theme radar. I love all their skills, sleight of hand and misdirection, the optical illusions, all backed up by patter or a stage presence that fools us. Nowadays, of course, we exclaim in wonderment “how did they Read More

Nonfiction November – Week 3 – Be/Ask/Become the Expert

Week 3: (November 16-20) – Rennie is asking you to Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic Read More

Short Non-Fiction for Novellas in November #NovNov – Bill Bailey!

Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to Happiness Saturday nights have been bright again since Strictly returned to our screens – the absolute highlight not being the fit young things, but the utter seriousness being given to learning to dance given by Bill Bailey, partnered by Oti. (with Ranvir and Giovanni delighting too). Bill is clearly trying Read More

The Searcher by Tana French – Blog Tour

The new standalone crime novel from Tana French, author of the Dublin Murders series (my review of the first here), is that rare thing – a really slowburn multilayered mystery that delves deep into looking at all kinds of relationships – be they friends and family, neighbours, professional, or best kept at arms’ length. The Read More

Nonfiction November – Book Pairings

Week 2 of #NonfictionNov is hosted by Julz Reads with the prompt: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get Read More

Novellas in November – Simenon, Greg & Moss

Today I have what I hope is a first batch of three novella reviews for you, celebrating Novellas in November hosted by Cathy and Rebecca.  The Shadow Puppet by Georges Simenon Translated by Ros Schwartz In a push to get reading through Simenon’s 75 Maigret novels a little more speedily, I’m using all the tags (Paris in July, Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Wild Card

My favourite monthly tag, 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 the titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month it’s a wild card – with the instructions to start with the book Read More

One Translator, Two Novelists – two translated by Hildegarde Serle!

In my rather too large pile of books to write up, I discovered that I had two novels translated from the French by Hildegarde Serle. I’ve so much enjoyed her translations of the first two volumes of the YA Fantasy series The Mirror Visitor by Christelle Dabos (see here and here). I read Valérie Perrin’s Read More

Nonfiction November – My Year in Non-Fiction

This is my third year of taking part in Nonfiction November. Each week has a different theme and is hosted by a different blogger. Week one is to survey your year in non-fiction, prompted by Leann at Shelf Aware. Last year, just over 25% of my reading was non-fiction at 33 books, my best ever. Read More

October Wrap-up and November Plans

Feels like I’m behind on everything this month – too many distractions! I only read nine books above, of which I’ve only managed to write reviews for two! While there were no duds in that pile at all, I’m finding it hard to decide what to say about the others, and you know me – Read More

Guest post from Shiny reviewer Anna Hollingsworth

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Anna Hollingsworth from our Shiny New Books reviewing team to my blog. Anna, who works in journalism, has been reviewing a wide range of fiction for us for several years (click here to be taken to some of her reviews). At Shiny, we only really like to include books that Read More

Two in Translation: One from Romania, one from Germany…

Sword by Bogdan Teodorescu Translated by Marina Sofia Firstly, yes, this novel is translated by the wonderful Marina of the blog Finding Time to Write, and is one of the lead titles from Corylus Books, which was founded last year to bring gems of current European crime fiction to English reading audiences. Secondly, I hope Read More

The kids are alright in this allegorical novel

A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet My Grandma gave me a copy of the Hamlyn Children’s Bible for my ninth birthday (right). I loved that book, and particularly enjoyed all the old testament stories and the now rather cheesy illustrations – indeed I still have it, in fair condition too. So, I can completely understand Read More

Vampire novels I have read – Ranked!

When I was writing my recent review of Vlad by Carlos Fuentes, a literary relocation of Dracula to modern Mexico, I was struck by the large number of vampire novels that I’ve read over the years, especially since I began blogging – probably more vampires than zombies, fallen angels, demons and perhaps even ghosts added Read More

The 1956 Club & a SF short

Minority Report by Philip K Dick I’m sure I’ve read this short story many, many years ago, but I’ve revisited it for the 1956 Club, hosted by Simon and Kaggsy. It was originally published in a SF magazine (right), I have it in a 2002 Gollancz film tie-in edition, of Dick’s stories from the 1950s and 1960s Read More

The 1956 Club & a timely novella

It’s time for the latest reading year in Simon and Kaggsy’s biannual club. Looking on my shelves, I found two books I hadn’t read, the novella The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon and the chunkier A Walk on the Wild Side by Nelson Algren: the slimmer of the two won out this time. Looking at Read More

Season of the Living Dead 2020

It’s October, the nights are drawing in, it’s raining and many of us will turn to reading choices to match that mood. I could sign up to the #RIPXV challenge, but instead I’m resurrecting my own banner from the dead to usher in my ‘Season of the Living Dead‘ 2020. (Search for that tag, or Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Turn of the Screw

My favourite monthly tag, 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 the titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month our starting book is: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James I’ve Read More

This Could be My Book of the Year!

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke We’ve had to wait 16 years for Susanna Clarke to write her second novel, with just some short stories in between. Was it worth the wait or was it a ‘difficult’ second novel? It was definitely the former! Piranesi is one of those uncategorisable novels that has a bit of everything Read More

Review Catch-Up

Not only have I been too busy and mentally wired the past couple of weeks to read much. I’m also way behind on reviewing, so a bit of a catch-up is in order, so two shorter reviews for you today! Firstly though, I watched Susanna Clarke in conversation with Madeline Miller on the Waterstones feed Read More

Weekend Miscellany

Last night I planned to sit in my hotel room in Leeds and read a book – just couldn’t read. I was aching from all the carrying I’d done, and all the noises around me, hotel ones and student ones from the huge accommodation block next door where I’d deposited my daughter earlier, kept me Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Rodham

My favourite monthly tag, 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 the titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month our starting book is: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld A book I’ve not read, Read More

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman – Blog Tour

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Suede bassist Mat Osman’s first novel, The Ruins (see here) which was a mystery involving identical twin brothers and a lost album. It was a brilliant and complex novel full of rock’n’roll. Now it’s early September and it’s Mat’s younger brother’s turn to publish Read More

20 Books of Summer – #16 & #17 & Wrap-up

The 20 Books of Summer challenge runs from the beginning of June to the end of August each year, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books. This is my fourth year of joining in, and my most successful yet, the best I’ve managed before being 15 out of my 20. I always aim to go for Read More

20 Books of Summer #15 – Berners-Lee

There Is No Planet B by Mike Berners-Lee Back in 2010, I read Mike B-L’s first book, How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything reviewed here. Apart from being very informative, I found MB-L (yes, he is the brother of Sir Tim) to be an entertaining host as he talked us through his Read More

The Search Party by Simon Lelic – Blog Tour

The Search Party is Lelic’s sixth thriller, and having loved reading his first three (Rupture, The Facility and The Child Who) I was keen to reconnect with this author. The structure of The Search Party has a lot in common with his stunning debut: Rupture combined police procedural with psychological thriller in a cleverly constructed Read More