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

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #13

Yet another plundering from my pre-blog capsule reviews on the trusty spreadsheet. Im not quite running out of meaningful reviews yet, so here is another mixed bag from 2007… What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn A gripping first novel about a group of outsiders. From the nine-year-old loner cub-detective Kate, to Kurt the insomniac security Read More

A Rant and a Ramble for the Weekend!

Rant first …. Came down this morning to find a conservatory full of shattered glass. I didn’t hear a thing – most of it landed on the rug! One of the inside panes in the roof had shattered, covering everything with glass shards. A south-facing pane, triangular in shape. My materials science training tells me 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

Six Degrees of Separation: Normal People

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. Our starting book this month is: Normal People by Sally Rooney I haven’t read this 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 – Moor – Edwards – Moss

Thank you to everyone for their kind words about my Shiny cock-up! Much appreciated. About one year’s worth of reviews are now back up for your delectation – five to go – but I’m really enjoying revisiting them and getting links up to date and so on. Meanwhile I have been reading, and here are Read More

Japanese Literature Challenge 13: The Pain of the Clown

Spark by Naoki Matayoshi Translated by Alison Watts Just fitting in at the end of the season of the Japanese Reading Challenge 13, hosted by Dolce Bellezza, here’s my second contribution. (See here for my first.) In recent times, having read several Japanese novels which are understated but still thought-provoking comedies such as The Nakano Read More

Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist Blogtour

Black Car Burning by Helen Mort This is my second post for the Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist Blogtour, and I couldn’t have picked two more contrasting books (my first was Exquisite Cadavers by Meena Kandasamy, reviewed here). They may have been contrasting in subject matter and style, but both were intense and thought-provoking books to 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

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

A review assortment – Lahiri, MacKenzie, Maugham

The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri Translated from the Italian by Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush An London-born American author of Bengali descent, Lahiri moved to Italy where she now writes in Italian – and her husband translated this essay into English, which she then reworked in both Italian and English for its English publication! Complicated, huh? Read More

Review of the Decade

Happy New Year & Happy New Decade! But, before I dive headlong into the 2020s, here’s just one more backwards-looking post to pick out my highlights for each year of the 2010s, well 2010-2018 – I’m considering 2019 done! 2018 Book of the Year: To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine. Something about this memoir 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

Review catch-up – Pickett, Knox and Mackesy

As everyone who works in a school knows, the last few weeks of autumn term are simply manic! Normal lessons are interrupted for Nativity rehearsals, carol service rehearsals, trips, other Christmassy events, then the Nativity production itself which was sweet (as ever) and then this weekend we’ve had our staff outing back to back with Read More

More Novellas in November

I’m doing well with the various November tags and I’m currently reading a German crime novel for German Literature Month. There are a couple more tags and awards to join in reading for too if I can manage it – Margaret Atwood Reading Month and the Sunday Times Young Writer Award coming up in early Read More

Non-Fiction November: Be the Expert: Recent Biographies/Memoirs/Reportage

Week 3 of this year’s Non-Fiction November has the theme of ‘Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert’ in which we can either “share three 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 that you 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

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #7

I do have full book reviews coming soon, but to fill the gap (again), here is another round-up of some pre-blog capsule reviews that I wrote back in 2006 for you. Crucifix Lane by Kate Mosse The world is just the same but also oh so different 11 years into the future in Kate Mosse’s 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

A dystopian response to 9/11

Then by Julie Myerson I read Myerson’s fifth novel, Something Might Happen, back in 2004 – this was before I started writing capsule reviews, but I did make a note about this book, “Emotional and profound,” I wrote, giving it 8/10. That novel explored the effects of a woman’s murder on the local community – Read More

Incoming…

It’s not often that I do one of these posts these days, but I had two recent great charity shop visits. Please note – I refuse to use the words ‘book haul’ to describe my purchases, it’s an ugly term. The word ‘haul’ to me infers a bit of a chore, which buying books can 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

Six Degrees of Separation: Wild card for the hols

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. This month – the starting book is a wild card – the book you ended your last chain with, which for me was: Sharp Read More

Women in Translation – Top 100 – My Nominations

This year for the annual #WITmonth in August, our host Meytal at Biblibio has decided to curate a list of the top 100 women in translation. Everyone is invited to join in and let Meytal know. Here are how it’s going to work: Here are my nominations. Links to my reviews are in the titles: Read More

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

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