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

Indie Bookshop Week: Katherine Rundell & Lucy Mangan

Each year the bods that run Independent Bookshop Week commission an author to write an essay about books and reading, published as a little single: Philip Pullman, Robert MacFarlane, Julian Barnes, Anne Patchett and Mark Forsyth among them, and initially only available from independent bookshops. These little books have always been a couple of quid 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 catch-up

On Presence: Essays | Drawings by Peter Reason and Sarah Gillespie Recruiting Peter to the team of Shiny New Books reviewers was a bit of a coup – in fact he approached us. A retired professor, he has a deep interest in the natural world and humanity’s place in the ecology of the planet. His Read More

Blogtour – Under the Rock by Benjamin Myers

Ever since Rebecca reviewed this book in hardback for Shiny (see here), I’ve wanted to read it, (and Myers’s prize-winning novel Gallows Pole which I already had on my shelf). Now out in paperback, in Under the Rock, subtitled ‘Stories carved from the land’, Myers boldly combines nature writing with history, psycho-geography, photography and poetry Read More

Review Catch-up: Heller, Murakami & Levy

Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller I recently re-read this for Book Group, and was reminded by what a fine novel it is. The affair between a naive art teacher and a fifteen-year-old pupil is a tough subject, given that Heller makes her protagonist quite sympathetic in a way, but the real villain of Read More

Wellcome Book Prize reading: #5 R&R

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottesa Moshfegh Well, it’s a while since I read a book that I disliked so thoroughly, but felt compelled to read to the end! This book is all sex and drugs, but no rock’n’roll. I’d felt put off reading it before by the ‘school of David’ painting on Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them… #2

I’ve consulted my master spreadsheet again to bring you some more of my capsule reviews from my pre-blog years. Again, these are all from 2006 or before… Bringing Out the Dead by Joe Connelly This autobiographical novel is relentless, I read it in two sessions, only ending the first as I was completely drained. A Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Arsonist

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 … The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper Sadly, this book isn’t out in the Read More

Year End Review #6: My Books of the Year!

And finally, in my review of my reading year, it’s my Books of the Year. I always save this post for last, in case there’s a late entry. I’ve given up trying to keep the list to a dozen and have ended up instead with a baker’s dozen, plus some runners up. All of these Read More

Two of the PFD Sunday Times Young Writer Award shortlist…

The winner of the PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in association with the University of Warwick was announced earlier this week.  Adam Weymouth’s non-fiction book, Kings of the Yukon (which I shall be reading next), scooped this year’s prize from an interesting shortlist that was wide open as to who would Read More

Novellas in November – Part 3

Although my normal reading contains a fair smattering of novellas anyway, I’ve loved concentrating on reading novellas this November – here’s my third and final selection for this month: Poor Cow by Nell Dunn Published in 1967, Dunn’s novella is a ‘classic of 1960s London life’ and was her second work of fiction after her Read More

War Horse – an actor’s story…

All Quiet on the West End Front by William Rycroft Firstly, I must declare, I know Will a little.  He used to write a wonderful blog Just William’s Luck (which you can still see) back when he was an actor.  When his long run in the West End hit War Horse ended, he moved into the publishing Read More

The Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year 2018 Bloggers Event

Last year I was privileged to be on the official Shadow Judges Panel for this super award – you can read about my experiences here. One of the key events in the awards calendar each year is the Bloggers Event which is held at the Groucho Club in London, and I was delighted to be Read More

Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

Nonfiction November is being hosted by Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Julie (JulzReads), and Katie (Doing Dewey). through the site What’s Nonfiction?  They have a wonderful programme mapped out for November here. The topic for the second week is “book pairings” – matching a nonfiction book with a fiction one, which Read More

Nonfiction November – My Year in Non-fiction

Nonfiction November is being hosted by Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Julie (JulzReads), and Katie (Doing Dewey). through the site What’s Nonfiction?  They have a wonderful programme mapped out for November here. The topic for the first week is “Your Year in Nonfiction ” in which we’re encouraged to Read More

Who better to talk about the surrealists?

The Lives of the Surrealists by Desmond Morris Surrealism was originally more than an art movement, it was a philosophical code – a way of living that rebelled against the establishment.  Originating in  1920s Paris, following the Dadaists in WWI, it spread world-wide. The term ‘surrealism’ was coined by Apollinaire a few years before two Read More

Shiny Linkiness: Aug into Sept

Over the past few weeks, I’ve reviewed three cracking new novels for Shiny New Books… … Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale Gale’s latest is just lovely. This novel is a wonderful blend of coming of age story, small-town childhood, friendship and finding oneself, bound up with a love of music, cello music in Read More

20 Books of Summer: 8 & 9 – St John Mandel & Ferguson

The Singer’s Gun by Emily St John Mandel After the brilliance that was Station Eleven (reviewed here), I’ve been keen to read more by the Canadian author, finally managing it with this one, her second novel from 2010.  While The Singer’s Gun differs thematically from Station Eleven, Mandel’s style of writing, with its elegant observational Read More

20 Books of Summer #4 & #5 – Hamid and Miralles

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid Hamid’s 2017 Man Booker Prize and Rathbones Folio 2018 shortlisted novel is difficult to categorise.  At face value it is a classic boy meets girl, boy loses girl variant, a fable-style romance set in a contemporary Asian city that is not yet at war.  On another level, it is about Read More

Another dose of Murdoch…

The Italian Girl by Iris Murdoch After being the only person to sort of enjoy parts of The Black Prince (reviewed here) at our book group last month, I was slightly wary of reading another of her novels so soon. But the Great Iris Murdoch Readalong hosted by Liz Dexter was up to her 1964 novel The Read More

Book Group report: ‘Black’

The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch Our book group has never tackled Murdoch, although back in the day before I joined, they read John Bayley’s memoir of his wife, Iris, so I’m told. Several of us had read various novels by Iris Murdoch before  – indeed I read a whole bunch back in the late Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Tipping Point

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps.Our starting book this month is the non-Fiction bestseller… The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell This book, first published in 2000, (which I reviewed here in 2009) was one of Read More

1974 joint Booker Prize winner…

Holiday by Stanley Middleton Some time ago, I picked up a copy of Holiday at a book sale, only knowing that it had shared the 1974 Booker prize with Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist. I’d otherwise never heard of Middleton, so I was surprised to find this was the 14th novel of his 44-novel career!  If Read More

Two novels with a French connection – Chevalier & Magnan

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier This was our Book Group’s choice for this month – ‘Blue’ being the key word we’d picked it by.  This was Chevalier’s first novel, published in 1997, and it is different to all of her others by having a dual timeline, following the stories of two women, centuries apart. Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Poisonwood Bible

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Click on the titles to go to my reviews where they exist.  Our starting book this month is the chunky literary bestseller: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver This Read More

Wellcome Book Prize #3 & #4: Adébáyọ̀ & Mannix

Stay with Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ Adébáyọ̀’s novel is the one fiction selection on this year’s Wellcome Prize shortlist. Although it has much to say about the patriarchal society of Nigeria in the 1980s, it surprised me with how much it does meet the prize criteria of a book that celebrates, ” the many ways Read More