20 Books of Summer 21 #12 – Jonathan Lethem

The next two of my 20 Books of Summer 21 reads are both linked by being SF, but SF-ish, in that they are novels by literary authors who enjoy transcending genre and mixing things up. I was going to cover them both in one post – but wrote more than I intended on the first Read More

Genre-smashing with Jonathan Lethem

The Arrest by Jonathan Lethem Lethem may be best-known for his 1999 bestseller Motherless Brooklyn, which I loved and would like to re-read, it’s essentially a detective novel with a young protagonist who suffers from Tourette’s syndrome. However the majority of his output before and since have been less categorisable novels – genre-mash-ups, like his Read More

The Atomics by Paul Maunder

This psychodrama had two great selling points that immediately made me keen to read it. Firstly its timeline is the late 1960s, and secondly it’s set against the backdrop of a nuclear power station. The novel opens with a mystery, that will be explained fully as the story progresses. Frank is out for a walk Read More

Review catch-up!

This spring into summer period is shaping up to be a huge publishing push, as publishers catch-up with COVID-19 delays. It’s nice to see new books spread out over several months too, which I hope means that more will get the attention they deserve. Will they revert to form in September and October though? Woe Read More

We are What We Watch? The Age of Static by Phil Harrison

I’ve found my TV consumption creeping back up a little during lockdown, but it’s nowhere near my peak viewing years which were probably from the 1990s into the 2000s (when kids’ programmes came back into the mix). As I started reading more and blogging, my watching declined, I even dropped Eastenders for a couple of 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

Reviews catch-up: Harris, Murata, Daré & Wigglesworth

My pile of read but not yet reviewed books runneth over, so some shorter notes follow, plus some Shiny linkiness. The Book Lover’s Quiz Book – Novel Conundrums by Gary Wigglesworth My full review of this fun book is over at Shiny, but I’m writing about it here too as it’s an ideal Christmas present Read More

20 Books of Summer #14 – St Aubyn

At Last by Edward St Aubyn – the fifth and final Patrick Melrose novel Reading this sequence of semi-autobiographical novels this summer has been a wonderful experience, despite the challenging events chronicled within their pages. This fifth and final snapshot in the life of Patrick Melrose was published in 2011. As you might expect, it Read More

A new spy series: Meet Thomas Dylan

Awakening of Spies by Brian Landers Today it’s my turn on the blog tour for the first book in a new spy series from Red Door books, written by Brian Landers – a former defence intelligence politico and director of HM Prison Service. With Landers’s pedigree, and given that this book starts in 1973, I Read More

A female revenge story – the first novel from an esteemed film director…

Are Snakes Necessary? by Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman Titan Books ‘Hard Case Crime’ imprint offers an interesting blend of old and new crime fiction, reprinting classics from the 1950s and 60s by authors such as Mickey Spillane, Donald Westlake and Ed McBain (I reviewed McBain’s Cut Me In for Shiny here) alongside new Read More

Blog Tour – Cara Hunter – All the Rage

I discovered Oxford author Cara Hunter last year when she visited my local indie bookshop for a Crime Panel Event. It was fascinating to hear her talk about the genesis of her detective, DI Adam Fawley, and about the way she includes social media and transcripts in her texts. I went on to read the Read More

Review Clear-out! James, Scarfe, Vaughn and Auster

In an effort to make room on my dining table where I work, so we can eat Christmas lunch on it, I’m clearing the pile of books yet to be reviewed, here’s my last batch for 2019: Somewhere Becoming Rain: Collected Writings on Philip Larkin by Clive James When James died a few weeks ago, 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

Finally, a book for WIT month

Scraping in at the tail end of August, I finally managed to read a book for the month-long celebration of Women in Translation, hosted by Meytal at Biblibio. Meytal has also been compiling a top 100 WIT books – everyone was invited to send in their top tens (mine is here) – and the final, Read More

Book Group report – July – ‘Fire’

After the Fire by Will Hill This was our book group choice for July. Our theme was ‘Fire’ – and we all liked the sound of this novel inspired by the Waco cult, not realising that it was a YA book at the time. Over the years we have read a handful of YA novels, 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

A love letter to his wife

About Alice by Calvin Trillin I was going to choose the only other book I’ve read by Trillin for the letter T in my go at Simon’s Twitter tag #AToZofBooks which I’ve enjoyed doing over the past couple of days, but I got distracted by another author. Tepper Isn’t Going Out (reviewed here), which I read back in late 2008, is a comic masterpiece all Read More

Wellcome Book Prize Blog Tour – Amateur

I’m delighted to be part of the Wellcome Book Prize 2019 Blog Tour. Having followed this prize closely for several years now, and participating on the Shadow panel for my second year, I can truly say that this particular literary prize has opened up my mind to consider books outside my scientific comfort zone, and Read More

Shiny Linkiness – my recent reviews

I’ve had three reviews published at Shiny New Books this week and last, so thought I’d plug them here. Just click through to read the full pieces. Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li A generational family drama following the trials and tribulations of Jimmy Han, his family and the staff of the Beijing Duck Read More

Wales Readathon #1

The Wales Readathon, aka Dewithon is being hosted by Paula at Book Jotter. It’s running throughout March. Having plenty of books by Welsh authors on my shelves it’s a great opportunity to help the TBR piles, if only a little! I hope to read at least two titles, the first of which is below: The Read More

Review Catch-up #1 from 2018

I’ve got a pile of books I finished reading in 2018 that I haven’t reviewed yet. Some deserve their own posts, but here’s a pair of shorter write-ups. The Atlas of Disease by Sandra Hempel This is a curious book – ostensibly an ‘atlas’ produced using the latest data available, in which the author charts Read More

Shiny Linkiness

Eric Idle – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography Yesterday I reviewed Eric Idle’s ‘Sortabiography’ for Shiny.   Read the full review here. He and Michael Palin have always been my favourite Pythons, so I was fascinated to read Idle’s memoir. However, he remains a slippery character – self-deprecating, one who’d rather Read More

‘A Life in Death’

All That Remains by Sue Black As one of the world’s foremost anatomists and forensic anthropologists, Sue Black’s life in death has been full of interest. She has been a professor based at Dundee University for years, and, she was appointed as a Dame in 2016 for services to forensic anthropology and she is a Read More

#ReadingMuriel2018 and the strangest little book!

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark What a strange novella this book is! It’s far from my favourite Spark, but it is possibly the most fascinating. This is because commentators have suggested that it is Spark’s response to the Watergate scandal of 1972 which led to Nixon’s impeachment in August 1974. The story opens Read More

The Second Outing for the Anti-Miss Marple in Sicily…

  Auntie Poldi and the Fruits of the Lord by Mario Giordano Translated from the German by John Brownjohn I was delighted to encounter the first Auntie Poldi book last year. The adventures of an irrepressible sixty-year-old German lady who retires to her late ex-husband’s ancestral home in Sicily, hoping to “fulfil one of her dearest Read More

Two novellas, vignette style, but oh so different!

I really enjoy a good novella, one-sitting stories. One writing style that seems to particularly suit novellas is a story told in vignettes – each section a paragraph or two, at most a couple of pages. They often cut the story down to the bare bones, leaving you to read much between the lines – Read More

A Timely Thriller…

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan This legal and psychological thriller has been on the receiving end of a lot of hype since its publication a couple of weeks ago. My local bookshop got some advance signed copies in for Christmas, so I got my hands on it early and read it before the Read More

Second novel blues? Only the cover!

All the Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker Former financial trader Chris Whitaker’s first novel Tall Oaks (which I reviewed here) was a confident debut – a tale of small town American life with a great cast of characters surrounding the central mystery of a missing child. It’s been nominated for the CWA John Creasey New Read More

Starting Anna Karenina again

In my teens, around the time of the wonderful BBC adaptation of War & Peace with Anthony Hopkins as Pierre, and ITV’s Anna Karenina with Nicola Pagett as the doomed heroine, I went through a real Russian phase in my reading. We had copies of most of the Russian greats already in the house as Read More