Finishing the 2020 review pile! Hornby-Ryan-Nolan

It’s nearly February, and I realised that I still have three books unreviewed that I read in 2020. How could I leave them that long? I’ve always found that getting my thoughts down about a book soon after reading, not only fixes it more firmly in my mind, but also makes them easier to review, Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Hamnet

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 point is Maggie O’Farrell’s Women’s Prize winning novel Hamnet, which is 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

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

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

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

A Cracking Memoir – Mother by Nicholas Royle, and a DNF

Before I get into talking about specific books, an apology to all the lovely book publicists who have sent me review copies of titles out from mid-August onwards. THANK YOU! I will read and review all the books you’ve sent, but with the crowding of titles coming out on this year’s ‘Super Thursday’ – Sept Read More

Electricity – on page & screen

When I was beginning to think about dipping my toe into the blogging world, there were several blogs I followed religiously including publishing guru Scott Pack’s now-defunct ‘Me & My Big Mouth’. One of the authors he championed was Ray Robinson, whose first novel Electricity was published in 2006. I quickly got myself a copy 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

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

Great Idea but, again I wanted more science…

Body Tourists by Jane Rogers I should be reviewing the pile of books sitting beside me, but having finished this one yesterday, I just had to get my thoughts down straight away. The last book I read by Jane Rogers was her 2011 Booker longisted The Testament of Jessie Lamb (reviewed here). Although I loved Read More

Blog Tour: Richard Russell – Liberation Through Hearing

Richard Russell is the producer and owner of XL Recordings, home of some artists I know well such as Radiohead, Adele, The Gotan Project and the White Stripes, but also a lot of fare that isn’t my normal listening such as The Prodigy, MIA, Dizzee Rascal and more. I may not listen to that second 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

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #10

While I recover from my Auster-thon and finish some more books by other authors, here’s yet another selection from my master spreadsheet of capsule reviews of books I read pre-blog – this batch is from 2007, and there’s still plenty more where these came from! (Buy at Amazon links are all affiliate links, I’ll earn Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Daisy Jones & The Six

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: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid How I loved Read More

Two Short Reviews: Rodriguez Fowler & Bourland

The Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodriguez Fowler I was lucky enough to be on the Shadow Panel in 2017 for this fabulous award that celebrates works by young authors (18-35), having followed it before then, and ever since, naturally. This year’s Shadow Panel also had an interesting set of books to choose from: poetry, a 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

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #8

I’m busy reading a fiction chunkster (no, not the Ellmann!), and several non-fiction titles, so full reviews will have to wait. Instead, here’s more of my notes from 2007 on some books I enjoyed back then… In the place of fallen leaves by Tim Pears Slow to get into, but growing more rewarding with each Read More

3 shorter reviews – Bissell, Hunter, Ross

Barnhill by Norman Bissell After the end of WWII, George Orwell left London to live in a remote farmhouse on Jura in the Hebrides. It was there at ‘Barnhill’ that he brought together all the ideas that had been fermenting in his brain into the book that became 1984. Bissell’s novel tells the story of 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

20 Books of Summer #1 & #2: Rooney & Torday

Red Joan by Jennie Rooney You may remember the case of Melita Norwood, a British civil servant who passed secrets to the KGB for around 30 years after 1937. She wasn’t uncovered until 1999, but wasn’t prosecuted, dying in 2005, aged 93. Red Joan, Rooney’s 2013 novel was inspired by Norwood’s story (the recent film adaptation directed by 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

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

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

Six Degrees of Separation: How to Be Both

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 … How to Be Both by Ali Smith I have a confession to Read More

Shiny linkiness

Graceland by Bethan Roberts It takes courage to fictionalise the life of real people, and to take on someone as famous as Elvis is a challenge. Roberts succeeds in examining the relationship between Elvis and his mother in this fabulous novel, that brings both the man and Gladys to life. Loved it! Read my full Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The French Lieutenant’s Woman

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. Our starting book this month is … The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles I read this many years ago – yes, after the 1981 film with Meryl came out, so early 1980s Read More

Year End Review #2: The Disappointments

The DNF and the DNGS This year I was perhaps, lucky in my reading – there was only one book that I gave up on having got a little way in, despite its fab cover, and that was The Testament of Loki by Joanne M Harris. I won’t dwell on this, but you can read 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

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