A perplexing thriller and a new trope: ‘Nuclear Noir’

The Carrier by Mattias Berg Translated from the Swedish by George Goulding This thriller has a premise and a half to keep you reading. Imagine you’re on a state visit and the agent who is never more than a few feet from POTUS, the agent called Erasmus Levine carrying the briefcase with the nuclear launch Read More

Return to Wigtown

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell Bythell owns Scotland’s largest secondhand bookshop in the self-proclaimed Book Town of Wigtown in Galloway, south-west Scotland. His book Diary of a Bookseller (reviewed here) was a big hit in 2017, and for anyone returning for this second volume, it is comfortingly more of the same. The first 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

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

20 Books of Summer #3 & #4 – Kurkov and Pinol

I’m already behind on reading and reviewing the pile of 20 books I selected (here), but I’m not a challenge completist! Anything that spurs me to reduce my TBR by a book or two is good. Today, I have two in translation for you. The Gardener from Ochakov by Andrey Kurkov Translated from the Russian Read More

A Mexican tragedy – a thriller as reportage

Call Him Mine by Tim MacGabhann the book you have in front of you now – isn’t quite a nonfiction novel, and it’s most certainly not news, but it’s not quite fiction, either. In Mexico, there’s a strong tradition of the crónica, a hybrid form that owes its subjectivity to reportage, its questioning of onjectivity Read More

Two from the Library – one yeah, one meh…

One of the great things about borrowing books from the library is that you can take a chance on books – which is what I did recently with a whole load of poetry and novels. The only problem then, is that you might not enjoy them all. Here are thoughts on two of them – Read More

Review Catch-up

I’m so behind on my reviews, here are two shorter ones… Tony Hogan Bought me an Ice Cream Float before he Stole my Ma by Kerry Hudson This debut novel was our book group read this month. The title is rather off-putting, sounding like a C&W ballad, but it is apt – for the main Read More

Caught Between the Light and the Dark

The City in the MIddle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders I really enjoyed Anders’s first novel, All the Birds in the Sky, which was published in 2016 (and reviewed here). In it, she managed to successfully blend a mix of urban SF and fantasy with a coming of age romance – all in Read More

Review Catch-up #2 from 2018

More shorter reviews of books I read towards the end of 2018… The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story by Christie Watson There are so many books written by hospital doctors these days – of all types. Surgeon’s stories in the operating theatre; junior doctor’s comedic diaries; heart-breaking lives cut short by cancer – they fill shelves Read More

20 Books of Summer #2 – a modern day Robinson Crusoe?

Concrete Island by J G Ballard Ballard’s slim novel from 1973 is his own bleak take on Robinson Crusoe being marooned on a desert island.  However, this being Ballard, he has found a way of subverting Crusoe by marooning his protagonist in the middle of a very busy world. Concrete Island is a controlled and Read More

A Pre-Raphaelite thriller

Crimson and Bone by Marina Fiorato A break from my STPFD Young Writer of the Year Award writing today, having finished the five books, we’ve had our judgely huddle and chosen a Shadow Judges’ winner which will be announced on the 29th. I’m a big fan of Marina Fiorato’s historical novels, having read most of Read More

It’s the 1968 Club – #2

Chocky by John Wyndham It’s been too long since I read or re-read any John Wyndham novels. I’m sure I have read Chocky before, but to be honest it must have been decades ago and I couldn’t remember anything that wasn’t in the blurb, so I started afresh with this short novel in its latest Read More

It’s the 1968 Club! #1

The 1968 Club, hosted by Karen and Simon  is the latest decade and year combo selected for a week of reading books published in that year. I’ve read two for this week (so far), and my first review is of: Colonel Sun by Robert Markham Colonel Sun is the first James Bond continuation novel published Read More

A book I read pre-blog … and Philip Pullman

Clockwork by Philip Pullman In a wonderful interview and Q&A  article in the Guardian on Sunday (do go and read it), author Sarah Perry asks Pullman what he’d most like to be remembered for, and his reply is his novella Clockwork. Then children’s author SF Said then asks why Clockwork?  Pullman replies: It is the most perfectly Read More

A sassy pageturner – smart, fun and thought-provoking

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter Although I don’t really believe in having guilty pleasures as far as choice of reading goes, I don’t read much what marketers call ‘women’s commercial fiction’. When I do read a book that falls into this category, it does feel like a guilty pleasure though and I revel in it, Read More

20 Books of Summer #8 & 9 – Nichols & Kay

Crazy Pavements by Beverley Nichols Knowing that Karen and Simon are both fans of Beverley Nichols, it was about time I read one of his books – I picked this one up a couple of years ago, so it was ideal to go into my 20 Books of Summer pile.  Nichols was a prolific writer: Read More

One for #WITMonth at Shiny…

Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello Translated by Alex Valente August is Women in Translation month – and my review of  this debut novel by Italian author Elena Varvello is over at Shiny New Books. A combination of psychothriller and coming of age story that works, brilliantly, these two theme entwine around each other, Read More

Old colleagues, old friends, old foes

Conflicts of Interest by Terry Stiastny Review & Q&A Terry Stiastny is a former BBC News reporter and she kindly answered some questions for me about her new novel, which follow my review below. I very much enjoyed Terry’s first novel, reviewed here, Acts of Omission is a thoughtful political spy thriller moving between Berlin and Read More

Two shorter reviews…

Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey This account of a woman becoming afflicted by, and then having to live with extreme photosensitivity is completely harrowing, but suffused with dark humour. The author was enjoying life and had met the love of her life when she started to get burning sensations on her skin after Read More

Weekend Bookishness

It’s been a busy month – and some, so I’m glad that school breaks up at the end of next week (although I have two or three more days work to do on the school magazine after that). However, part of that busy-ness has been the Christmas edition of Shiny New Books. In The Eds Read More

More short takes

In an effort to clear my TBReviewed pile, here are two more shorter reviews: The Commitments by Roddy Doyle (re-read) This was our book group choice for last month – when we picked from a shortlist with a ‘Music’ theme. It was a re-read for me, and gosh this story of Jimmy Rabbitte and his Read More

‘Till we have built Jerusalem, In Englands green & pleasant Land’

The Countenance Divine by Michael Hughes What a gorgeous cover, eh? Many among you will recognise the title of this novel as coming from Jerusalem – the celebrated hymn with words by Blake and music by Parry. In fact, Blake’s words are taken from the preface to a much longer work, Milton, a Poem. The short poem Read More

An Ambler for ‘The 1938 Club’

Cause for Alarm by Eric Ambler This week Simon and Karen are hosting their second selected year reading club – and after 1924 last time, 1938 was the year they chose. 1938 is particularly interesting because of the political situation building up to WWII , and the novel I chose to read encapsulates those worries perfectly. Eric Ambler was Read More

A banned book for Reading Ireland

The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien I’ve been meaning to read more by O’Brien ever since I inherited my Mum’s old Penguins. She was a fan of O’Brien and I really enjoyed her Earthy novel August is a Wicked Month. I had thought to start the Country Girls trilogy sooner but found I was missing the first volume Read More

Maigret #4 & #6

The Carter of La Providence by Georges Simenon Translated by David Coward I’m so enjoying treating myself to a Maigret when I need a palate cleanser between reading longer books. This one in its new translation by David Coward, is the fourth of Penguin’s new editions, second according to Trussel.com, the site which is my Maigret bible, which Read More

Irene – Alex – Camille: The Verhoeven trilogy comes full circle

Camille by Pierre Lemaitre Translated by Frank Wynne I was meant to be reviewing this for Shiny New Books‘  in the ‘Extra Shiny’ edition (coming to you on May 12th).  I loved it, it is definitely a ‘Shiny’ book, but it is the final part of a trilogy and I felt it would be too difficult to Read More

More Shiny linkiness …

It’s been a couple of weeks since Issue 3 of Shiny New Books went live, so I thought I’d highlight the other fiction reviews I wrote for it to you – I hope you’ll click through to read the whole pieces… At the moment, we’re busy putting together our Christmas special which will be out Read More

Mothers and Daughters again…

Clara’s Daughter by Meike Ziervogel The relationships between mothers and daughters, or daughters and their mothers – whichever way around you want to put it, is obviously something that fascinates Meike Ziervogel. Her first novella, published away from her own Peirene publishing house was also about a mother and daughter, and the daughter’s own daughter. Read More

Lost in a good map …

Call of the Undertow by Linda Cracknell Variety in reading is usually my watchword, I try not to read books of a similar vein too close together, yet between Christmas and New Year I managed to read two about women running away from their existing life after life-changing events to sort themselves out. The first Read More