Two Mental Health Issue-led YA novels…

Today, I have two slightly shorter reviews for you of YA novels that explore similar themes: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall The pink cover (available in three shades actually, going from medium to full-on shocking pink) does this novel no favours at all. Concentrate instead on the gilded cage and the heart that doesn’t Read More

A Florentine treat

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant I used to have all four of Sarah Dunant’s Italian Renaissance novels on my shelves. I liked the idea of them, as I love Italy, its art and architecture and so on but, I’m not a big reader of historical fiction, so they got forgotten and late last Read More

More from the pre-blog archives…

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Challenging books For a wet bank holiday Monday, I’m revisiting my archives of the capsule book reviews I wrote for myself pre-blog. (For more of these see here.) Having concentrated on 10/10 books in previous posts, I chose some books that I Read More

The one who survived

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin The ARC I was sent of this stylish psychological thriller came bound in black ribbon with a silk flower of the title. I was expecting the book, but wasn’t expecting a daisy – it turns Read More

“What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happening?”

Republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive. The Bees by Laline Paull Writing a novel with animals as your characters is a daring thing. You have to tread a fine line between anthropomorphism and the nature of the beast. If the creatures are to communicate, the author will have to put Read More

An Economic Allegory?

This post was republished in its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost post archive.   The Boy Who Stole Attila’s Horse by Iván Repila Translated by Sophie Hughes At 110 pages, this short novel in the Pushkin Press Collection is easily read in one session. Once grabbed by this powerful story I Read More

Woolly Jumpers…

This post was republished into its original place from my lost posts archive Breaking the Code by Gyles Brandreth I read this book just pre-blog back in summer 2008. Brandreth’s political diaries from 1990-1997 – the time that he was an MP (Tory, for Chester) were fascinating reading. They recount, with his customary wit, all Read More

Dancing the Seasons with Powell #2

Republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost post archive   A Dance to the Music of Time 2: A Buyer’s Market So we come to the second volume of Anthony Powell’s sequence of twelve novels. If you’d like to catch up with my summary of the first part follow the link to A Question of Upbringing. Read More

A Miscellany led by more marginalia …

Having dipped into this book often and read all the interviews I wanted to, this tome which I’d got from the charity shop was destined to go back there. Brief Encounters, subtitled ‘meetings with remarkable people’ is a collection of Gyles Brandreth’s interviews carried out for the Sunday Telegraph – he’s an engaging interviewer and Read More

A new historical saga – not for me…

The Brethren by Robert Merle I love the idea of getting stuck into reading an historical saga, I really do. I know I can do sagas spread over many novels – just not historical ones it seems. In particular, I started reading Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles with good intentions here but never progressed onto the Read More

Now it's Sylvia's turn

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath Yesterday I reviewed a new YA novel by Meg Wolitzer called Belzhar (here), in which a depressed young woman was helped back to good health by a special English class that studied Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar and then kept rather special personal journals. Reading this book made Read More

A novel of fragile youth and Sylvia Plath…

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer Meg Wolitzer is best known for her quirky feminist novels about gender politics. I admit I’ve not read any of them, although the comedy aspects of her novel The Position appeal, in which a couple’s children discover that their parents are the creators of a sex manual featuring themselves, this event having Read More

So bleak – thoughts about the Carnegie winner

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks (republished into its original place in the time-line from my lost post archive) I’d been too busy lately to get involved with reading any of the Carnegie shortlisted books this year until the results were announced. The Carnegie Medal for 2014 was recently awarded to Kevin Brooks’ latest novel The Read More

Getting Dublin's Funny Bone Back Off the Black Dog

Brilliant by Roddy Doyle I don’t often read or review books intended for pre-teen children these days – I’m keeping up with my now teenaged daughter in YA reading. However, a book by Roddy Doyle for what they now call ‘middle-grade’ readers (why can’t we still say older children?), is a must, especially as I enjoyed Read More

The grown-up conclusion to Garner’s Weirdstone trilogy

This post was republished into it’s original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. Boneland by Alan Garner Last month I was privileged to attend a lecture given by Alan Garner , and came home enthused to read everything he has written, starting with the ‘Weirdstone Trilogy’.  I’d read the first two books as Read More

Q&A with Jane Thynne, author of ‘Black Roses’

Back in March, I reviewed a fabulous romantic thriller set in pre-WWII Germany. Black Roses by Jane Thynne is the story of Clara Vine, a young actress who goes to Berlin to pursue a film career and ends up as a British spy and confidante of Magda Goebbels, the infamous First Lady of the Third Reich. Read More

Introducing Bernie Rhodenbarr

It’s some years since I read one of Lawrence Block’s crime novels, and then I’ve only read the first twelve of his seventeen Matt Scudder books. In this series alcoholic ex-cop turned private investigator Scudder plies his trade around the shady joints of NYC. Scudder is a very likeable PI, but the books are quite Read More

“Echoed voices in the night she’s a restless spirit on an endless flight”

Baba yaga by Toby Barlow Toby Barlow’s debut, Sharp Teeth, which I capsule-reviewed back in the early days of this blog appears in my Desert Island Library (above). His Sopranos-style story of gang warfare amongst the werewolves in LA, written in the form of a prose poem has stayed with me ever since I read it. Read More

Hollywood Noir down Mexico Way

Bitter Drink by FG Haghenbeck, translated from the Spanish by Tanya Huntingdon. Whenever I read some noir, I know I should read lots more, for I love it, but I get distracted onto other things – I think it’s a dead cert that’ll happen this time too.  Meanwhile, although this slim novel is no masterpiece, Read More

A Tale of Two Women in 1930s Berlin

Black Roses by Jane Thynne Remembering Jane Thynne’s columns and reviews in the Daily Telegraph, and having read that she is married to thriller writer Philip Kerr, I had high hopes of her new novel, set in Berlin during the years preceding WWII. I wasn’t disappointed, for Black Roses is a brilliant historical thriller based Read More

A master class in the art of stand-up

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin In the 1970s, Steve Martin was one of the US’s top comedians, playing sell-out tours to huge audiences, and regularly appearing on Saturday Night Live and the Johnny Carson Show. After eighteen years, worn out by it, and noticing the first empty seats in an audiences Read More

Getting to know Beryl better…

Beryl Bainbridge: Artist, Writer, Friend by Psiche Hughes I will happily go on record to say that Beryl Bainbridge is my favourite author. Earlier this year, I hosted a reading week celebrating her work; you can see my record of that week and a bibliography of Beryl books and reviews on my Reading Beryl page. Read More

A brilliantly entertaining “Not a Sherlock Holmes” novel…

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R King Novels which adopt other authors’ characters can be a bit hit or miss – I think I was the only person who thoroughly enjoyed PD James’s Pride & Prejudice sequel. With the benefit of hindsight, I totally saw it as a continuation of the TV series though, rather than Read More

Bottling Things Up, or Bottling Out?

The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge A couple of weeks ago, Simon at Savidge Reads chose three books he was going to read before his imminent thirtieth birthday, (and he asked for more recommendations for forty books to read before he is forty.) One of the three was based on a suggestion of mine Read More

Man, lost, needs space.

Buzz Aldrin, What Happened to You in All the Confusion? by Johan Harstad, translated by Deborah Dawkin Written in 2005 in Norwegian and newly available in translation, this novel had an irresistible title for me being a bit of fan of all things space related.  However, it’s not really about the Apollo space program, it Read More

The name’s Bond, James Bond.

The Young Bond novels by Charlie Higson Today, there’s a mega author event at Abingdon School’s Amey Theatre for over 600 local children – Charlie Higson, the author, actor and comedian (cough) is coming to talk to them, coinciding with the third installment of his zombie horror series, but more of that in another post… Read More

Of baby factories, orgy-porgy & Shakespeare – Yes, it’s that dystopia!

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley This week, having re-visited one dystopian novel I previously read as a teenager (click here), I was able to fit in another of the biggies of the genre in time for our book group discussion Read More

Two Psycho-thrillers: SJ Watson & Sophie Hannah

This post is combined from two in my lost posts archive, republished into their original place in my blog’s timeline. Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson There is a lot of love out there for this novel. Despite the hype though, given the type of psychological thriller that it is, it was Read More

One of the other bests of Beryl …

The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge. Now I’ve read three novels by the late great Dame Beryl Bainbridge, I can truly say that she has become one of my favourite authors, and I can’t wait to read more. She was a master of succinctly getting to the heart of the matter. Her novels aren’t long in Read More

The Yeomen of the Guard off duty …

Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo by Julia Stuart (republished into its original place in the time-line from my lost post archive) I’d picked this book up in a bookshop, and put it down again, thinking it might be a bit twee. Then I was offered a copy by the publisher and after Read More