Mixed Summer Reading

A twofer today… Yeah! Everyone Is Still Alive by Cathy Rentzenbrink After loving Cathy Rentzenbrink’s heartbreaking but witty memoir The Last Act of Love, (and having her semi-memoir Dear Reader on my shelves which I hope to get to in my 20 Books of Summer 21), I was always going to be interested in reading Read More

My Best Friend’s Secret by Emily Freud – blog tour

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Emily Freud’s debut novel which is ideal summer reading for those who like a psychological drama. As the novel begins, it’s Kate’s wedding day – when she receives the text telling her that he’s not coming. Flash back to several weeks earlier. Ben and Kate arrive Read More

The Beresford by Will Carver – blog tour

I do love a horror novel that has a strong sense of dark humour, (cf my love for the books of Grady Hendrix here, here and here). Somehow I’ve not managed to encounter Will Carver before, but after reading The Beresford I’ll be exploring his back catalogue soon, for this novel is genuinely creepy but Read More

Review Round-up – Thompson, Bythell & Cowen / Hayes

Beeswing by Richard Thompson In the mid-80s I discovered British folk music, thanks to friends Jon and Jan. An essential part of my education was Fairport Convention and Richard Thompson, although it’s fair to say that Thompson’s solo work really took off for me a little later with his wonderful 1991 song 1952 Vincent Black Read More

Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey – Blog Tour

I’m going to say it straight up. If you loved Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife or Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, it’s entirely likely that you’ll also like Meet Me in Another Life. I love all three of them. Silvey’s novel has some similarities to the mechanisms used in both the other aforementioned novels, Read More

Twice by Susanna Kleeman

Mention spec fiction thrillers, conspiracy theories, and secret games to me – and I’ll always be interested – indeed these themes have been a common thread in several books I’ve read this year (see here, here and here in particular). So when approached by Susanna to read her debut novel Twice which features all of Read More

20 Books of Summer 21 #5-6 & other challenges!

Today I’m able to combine reading months once again. Books 5 & 6 of my #20BooksofSummer21 hosted by Cathy also let me take part in Spanish & Portuguese Literature Month hosted by Stu, and Paris in July hosted by Thyme for Tea. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on them. Nada by Carmen Laforet Read More

20 Books of Summer 21 #4 – Living Autobiography with Deborah Levy

The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy Deborah Levy, I think, has become my favourite woman author. She thinks deeply about things; she’s read everything that matters; can talk eloquently about anything, but has a sense of humour; and, for me, she is incapable of writing badly. Reading her ‘Living Autobiography’ trilogy has been a Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Eats, Shoots & Leaves

My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books. Our starting book this month is: Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss Despite being a Read More

20 Books of Summer 21 #3 – A Midsummer’s Novel

Love in Idleness by Amanda Craig This week has seen the summer solstice on the 21st, and Midsummer’s Day on the 24th, so what better time to read a modern take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. ‘Love-in-idleness’ is the name of the flower that Oberon gets Puck to find to squeeze its love potion Read More

The World is at War, Again by Simon Lowe

It’s my turn today on the blog tour for this debut novel published by Elsewhen Press, who specialise in speculative fiction. Simon Lowe has previously published short stories and newspaper pieces; his first novel is a spec fiction comedy involving several ‘Agent Assassins’. It’s perhaps easiest to give a flavour of this novel by describing Read More

A strange hybrid self-help book

The Brain Fitness Book by Rita Carter This is a strange hybrid of a book. While it’s obviously aimed at the middle-aged, I couldn’t quite work out precisely which of us it is aimed at. Let me explain a little about the contents. The book has four main sections. The first, ‘How the Brain Works’, Read More

Families are complicated! ‘One Last Time’ blog tour

One Last Time by Helga Flatland Translated by Rosie Hedger Helga Flatland’s fifth novel, A Modern Family, won the Norwegian Bookseller’s Prize, and was her first to be translated into English by Rosie Hedger. She has been billed as the ‘Norwegian Anne Tyler’, and when offered the opportunity to join the blog tour for her Read More

A super Irish debut – meet Eimear Ryan

Holding Her Breath by Eimear Ryan I’m willing to wager that of all sports, barring US favourites baseball and basketball, that occur in novels, that swimming predominates, and that it’s the number one sport for women characters. I have no real evidence to back this up, but here’s six fairly recent swimming covers (5 novels Read More

Review Catch-up – Tadjo, Fuller and Benson

My review pile runneth over and there are a couple of books that I would have reviewed for Shiny, but I don’t feel I can write a long piece on, so I will cover them here in my review round-up. In the Company of Men by Véronique Tadjo Back in 2014, the world awoke to Read More

Five Novels about Cinema

To celebrate my first going out of an evening in a long time to the cinema to see Cruella – which I loved (it’s like The Devil Wears Prada with extra real teeth: Emmas Stone and Thompson have a whale of a time! – trailer here), here’s five novels I’ve enjoyed about cinema, involving the Read More

20 Books of Summer 21 #1 & #2

I’ve read my first two books – 18 to go, although I have three review books to read next before reading any others that count towards my 20. Here are my thoughts on the first two. #1 The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams When this book was published last year, there was so much love Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Bass Rock

My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books. Our starting book this month is: The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld I’ve not read Wyld’s Read More

Review Catch-up – Dahl, Dooley and Dunn

The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl Translated by Don Bartlett First up a slice of Shiny Linkiness (full review here). Dahl is one of Norway’s finest crime writers, and his newest novel is an historical standalone that edges from crime into espionage, so given my love of all things spy, this was always going to Read More

#QuickReads 2021

Quick Reads, developed by the Reading Agency is celebrating 15 years of the scheme today. That’s 15 years of encouraging those who don’t read, or find reading difficult, as well as those who don’t have time to read much, to pick up one of their novella length £1 books, written by some of our best-known Read More

Genre-smashing with Jonathan Lethem

The Arrest by Jonathan Lethem Lethem may be best-known for his 1999 bestseller Motherless Brooklyn, which I loved and would like to re-read, it’s essentially a detective novel with a young protagonist who suffers from Tourette’s syndrome. However the majority of his output before and since have been less categorisable novels – genre-mash-ups, like his Read More

Back to Dungeness…

William Shaw is one of the few crime authors I automatically want to read now whenever they have a new book out. Although I’ve still got some catching up to do with his earlier ‘Breen & Tozer’ series set in the 1960s, I am up to date and still loving his ‘DI Alexandra Cupidi’ series Read More

The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for the latest addition to Cara Hunter’s DI Fawley series. The Whole Truth is the fifth, and while thanks to the skilful way that some of the necessary explanations from underlying story arc involving Adam Fawley and his wife Alex are incorporated seamlessly into the Read More

Quizzing and the art of writing good quiz questions

A bit about me and quizzing As an inveterate quizzer, and setter of quizzes, I love testing myself against quiz shows on the small screen and radio, and doing quizzes from my quiz books shelf. I applied for ‘Brain of Britain’ (on R4) this year, but didn’t get through – the audition questions were multiple Read More

Book Group report: N is for Nora Ephron

Heartburn by Nora Ephron Our Book Group have reached the second half of the alphabet! May’s book for discussion was the only novel by the creator of peerless romcoms, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, the latter she directed too. She also wrote the screenplay, directed and produced Julie & Julia, the book Read More

The Dylan Thomas Prize 2021 & Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis

This Thursday sees the prize ceremony for one of the most interesting prizes for young writers. Run by Swansea University, The International Dylan Thomas Prize is awarded to the ‘best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under’ – the age of Dylan Thomas at his death. After Read More