A feminist fairytale by Sally Gardner

The Snow Song I’ve followed Sally Gardner’s writing career for a long time now, ever since she first started writing (and illustrating sometimes) books for younger children, my daughter adored her Fairy Shopping picture book. Next, she wrote a series of wonderful children’s novels, moving on to YA (I reviewed The Door That Led to Read More

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

Book Group Report: “I” is for Ice by Anna Kavan & 2020 wrap-up

Ice by Anna Kavan was my suggestion. So many bloggers I know have read and loved it, not least Kaggsy, who reviewed recentish reissues of it for Shiny New Books here. First published in 1967, this novella has become an uncategorisable cult classic. There’s a hint of dystopia about it, there’s a hint of cli-fi 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

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

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

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

NOT the Wellcome Book Prize – Two from our Shortlist

So the shadow panel (Rebecca of Bookish Beck, Clare of A Little Blog of Books, Laura of Dr. Laura Tisdall, Paul of Halfman, Halfbook and I) managed to pick half a dozen from the 19 books we longlisted – some picked themselves, others needed a bit of discussion and a deciding vote. The six are: Exhalation by Ted Chiang Invisible Read More

Shiny Linkiness

Today over at Shiny New Books is my review of the wonderful third novel from Natasha Pulley: The Lost Future of Pepperharrow Pulley’s third novel revisits the characters of her first, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (reviewed here) and takes them back to Japan in the late 1880s, where the clairvoyant Keita Mori will be Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Road

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, my links are all on a single theme, which I’ll tell you at Read More

Review Catch-Up

I’ve built up rather a pile of books to catch up on reviewing – it’s all the lovely fault of getting stuck into my Shiny archiving project. So here are some shorter takes to reduce the pile somewhat. Dan Leno & the Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd This was our book group choice this month, 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

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

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #9

I’m getting into my Paul Auster Reading Week reading (17-23rd Feb), so here are some more 2006 capsule reviews from my master spreadsheet. Hope you enjoy them. Jackie Brown (a.k.a. Rum Punch) by Elmore Leonard Originally titled Rum Punch, this novel was reissued and retitled after the Tarantino film of it. If you’ve seen the 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

Six Degrees of Separation: Sanditon

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: Sanditon by Jane Austen I’ve not read Austen’s last, unfinished novel, nor 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

Python at 50, and my Life of Brian story…

Inspired by Calmgrove’s Python post, posted on the actual anniversary of the first ever episode, here’s my own Python tribute a few days late. I was only 9 when Monty Python was first broadcast so was too young to catch it the first time around, but when they repeated it in the later 1970s I Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: A Gentleman in Moscow

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: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles One of my favourite books of recent years. Read More

Two recent reads – one prose, one poetry

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale This was our book group read for August, which we discussed earlier this week – and we scored yet another hit! I certainly loved this novel, and although not all in the group quite shared my enthusiasm for it, everyone seemed to enjoy it. Often, when we all Read More

3 From the Library – Nunez, Greenlaw, Mandel

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez I’m not really much of a dog-lover, but as a mad cat lady in training I do know what it is to bond with an animal. I simply adored this book, which speaks on so many levels about friendship and bereavement, as experienced by humans and animals. The lifelong best Read More

20 Books of Summer #5 & #6 – Greer & Hustvedt

I’d expected to read more books in July than my list shows, having been on ‘school holidays’ since July 5, (although slaving at home on and off for a fortnight on the School magazine). But then I look at my bed – which is where the books I’m reading tend to sit – and there 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

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

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

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