Review of the Year #3: Books of the Year!

These days, I’ve given up trying to limit my choices to an established number characteristic of best of lists, long or short. I’ve had a good year of quality reading, awarding 10/10 to no fewer than 26 books – so 20% of my reading approx. Those scores are only snapshots of course, and some books Read More

Three more Novellas for Nov, well Dec now

As I love novellas, I kept on reading them after the end of Novellas in November (hosted by by Cathy and Rebecca). So here are quick reviews of three more, all of which were superb: one each from Irish, French and Italian authors. Academy Street by Mary Costello Costello’s 2014 novella follows in the vein of Colm Tóibín’s Read More

Shiny Linkiness

In the last few weeks, I’ve written four reviews for Shiny New Books, and neglected to mention them here until now. Click on the title below to go straight to my full Shiny review. I’m loving the colour-coordinated covers of these four books too! Numbers Don’t Lie by Vaclav Smil – one for fans of Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret

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 one of Judy Blume’s most enduring titles – Are you there God? 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 – 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

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

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

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

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

A novel of navel-gazing

This Happy by Niamh Campbell Over recent years, Ireland has become a real hot-bed for new literary talent. It goes way beyond the stellar success of Sally Rooney and Baileys winner Lisa McInerny. So when I heard about another Irish debut that sounded really enticing I arranged a copy. I would have picked this book Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: How To Do Nothing

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: How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell As Kate Read More

The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually by Helen Cullen – Blogtour

Last year I read Helen Cullen’s delightful debut, The Lost Letters of William Woolf, reviewed here. This novel about a chap who works at the Dead Letter Depot, reuniting lost letters and parcels with their intended recipients, sometimes years later, was an ideal spring into summer read for me (in paperback) with a great premise Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #12

I haven’t done one of these posts for a couple of months, so here are five books in translation that I read in 2007-8 – pre-blog – and the capsule reviews I wrote then from my master spreadsheet. I was heartened to find more than this handful in translation from countries other than my most-read Read More

Two reviews – a dystopian debut and an Irish crime thriller

The Third Magpie by M.S. Clements The Third Magpie is a dystopian romance set in an insular post-Brexit England, now called New Albany, that is (at least partly inspired by I’d wager, and) approaching Atwood’s Gilead in some of its strictures. Sons are revered, young women are once again chattels, to be married off in Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #11

I am reading lots, but am finding it hard to get into reviewing whilst I’m preoccupied with rebuilding Shiny (which is going well). Thus, I’ve turned once more to my trusty spreadsheet to bring you a selection of my capsule reviews from my pre-blog days. This time, five crime/psycho thrillers that I read in 2006 Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Stasiland

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 – the starting book is: Stasiland by Anna Funder A modern classic book Read More

Des livres en traduction pour les petits enfants

Il y a des ans, j’ai écrit un article de blog sur le sujet des livres traduits en latin, (ici). Récemment, un collègue qui enseigne le français à nos jeunes élèves a obtenu des éditions traduites de livres d’images classiques. Vachement chouette! (as they used to say in France for ‘really cool’!) I can’t resist Read More

The Rathbones Folio Prize: Thoughts on the Shortlist

The Rathbones Folio Prize definitely has a USP: Books are nominated by members of its Academy rather than publishers. The Folio Academy members are mostly writers and critics, nominated by the Prize Foundation or their peers and now number around 250. This leads to a rather different set of books (published in the previous year) Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Wolfe Island

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 – the starting book is: Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar This book hasn’t been published in the Read More

Crime Panel event at Mostly Books

Last night, I went to my local indie bookshop, Mostly Books in Abingdon, for their latest Crime Panel event. We had not just one or two, but five crime authors talking about their work! Olivia Kiernan, CJ ‘Caz’ Tudor, Andrew Wilson, Mick Herron and Dominick Donald. It was such a treat, and thank you to Read More

Year End Review 6: It’s my BOOKS OF THE YEAR!

This year I’ve given up trying to shoehorn my selections into a set number, be it 10, 12 or a baker’s dozen. My list has as many categories as I felt I needed – which ended up as 18 this year. Without further ado, here they are: Best fictional biography: Murmur by Will Eaves – Read More

Year End Review 4: Non-Fiction

I managed to increase the amount of non-fiction I read this year once again – I seem to be going up by one or two NF books per year! So in 2019 I read 33 non-fiction books (up to 25 December), making 25.3% of the total this year. Thanks to taking part in the Wellcome Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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. This month – the starting book is: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll A childhood favourite that I re-read so many Read More

My Most Reviewed Authors & A Reading Week Proposal

I’ve been on half term for the past fortnight, and my major project has been to create a new master index of books read and reviewed since I started my blog, and you can see it on the tab above – the one called ‘Review Index’. Easier said than done to get in a format Read More

In Brief:

Catching up on books read with short reviews… Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi Translated by Geoffrey Trousselot A short Japanese novel about time travel set in a café was always going to have to be read by me! It ticks all the boxes on the face of it, and I was hoping Read More

A dark and complex techno-thriller

This is Gomorrah by Tom Chatfield Published earlier this summer, this techno-thriller was very thought-provoking – it will lead any reader to question the world as portrayed on the web, and how terrorists and hackers are using it to further their own aims by going dark. The plot follows Azi, a hacker from East Croydon Read More

Literary Genre Fiction – let’s discuss

Earlier this week, Rebecca took part in a tag on the subject of literary fiction (see here), and after defining what literary fiction is for you and picking some examples, the tag asks, “Name a brilliant literary-hybrid genre novel.” Rebecca chose The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell – which I read many years ago, and Read More