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

How to add to your wishlists with Nick Hornby…

This post was combined and republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby One of the easiest ways of adding lots of books to your wishlists, (apart from the recommendations of other bloggers of course), is to read a book about books.  Even better if said book Read More

The answers are in Africa in this novel …

The Coincidence Authority by J W Ironmonger At first glance this novel may seem like a quirky romance between two unlikely would-be lovers, Azalea and Thomas, who having found each other, get mixed up in Azalea’s quest to analyse what she believes are coincidences that happened to her family, and many father figures. Underneath this Read More

“The extraordinary happens every day”

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness Having wept like a baby during reading Ness’s last crossover novel, A Monster Calls (my review here) – a story about a young boy coming to terms with love, death and grief, and incorporating magical elements and fables, The Crane Wife – his first full adult novel seems a natural progression. The Crane Read More

A quiet novel with emotional depth

The Cleaner of Chartresby Salley Vickers The seventh novel by Salley Vickers, The Cleaner of Chartres is the story of orphan foundling Agnès Morel, and the people who come into her life. Before introducing us to Agnès, the novel begins by telling us about the great cathedral, how it burned and was rebuilt by an Read More

A tale of motherhood across generations…

The Confidantby Hélène Grémillon, translated by Alison Anderson I got a letter one day, a long letter that wasn’t signed. This was quite an event, because I’ve never received much mail in my life. My letter box had never done anything more than inform me that the-sea-was-warm or that the-snow-was-good, so I didn’t open it Read More

Minimalism ain't all it's cracked up to be …

Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles This debut novel, published last year, was one of those books I was instantly desperate to read, but somehow couldn’t fit in at the time. The title promised quirkiness and humour, two qualities I adore in a novel. I’m glad I finally read it, for I enjoyed it a Read More

Which side of the fence are you on?

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling Everyone who encounters this book will have a point of view about it. The author is a global phenomenon through the Harry Potter series: she’s worked her way up to being a multimillionaire from being a single mum, and does a lot for charity. Now she’s taken a risk, Read More

The remote effects of war …

The Coveby Ron Rash. The fighting of WWI may be happening on the battlefields of Europe, but that doesn’t mean that remote communities in America don’t feel a ripple of its effects too… Young men who volunteered are returning home maimed – Hank Shelton lost a hand, and he’s doing his best to renovate the Read More

A short, sharp German legal thriller…

The Collini Caseby Ferdinand Von Schirach, translated from the German by Anthea Bell The author of The Collini Case, a prominent German defence lawyer himself, honed his writing on short stories – case histories of gruesome and shocking crimes, of people who get away with murder and the like. His first novel, a courtroom drama, Read More

A fascinating setting for a crime novel…

City of Veils by Zoë Ferraris This is the first novel I’ve read set in modern day Arabia. It gives a tantalising glimpse of life in Jeddah, particularly how men and women live, and combines that with a complex crime story. The mutilated body of a woman is found on a beach.  Detective Osama Ibrahim Read More

This tale’s pinned on a donkey …

Caroline: A Mystery by Cornelius Medvei This short novel is a weird and wonderful thing, slightly surreal in parts, but utterly captivating. It is the story of Mr Shaw, who takes his family on their annual vacation where he tries to unwind from his day job in insurance, but is fretting internally (as is his Read More

Murder – the lawyer’s tale

The Child Who by Simon Lelic After writing a spec fiction thriller for his second novel The Facility, review here, Lelic returns to give us a different take on familiary territory for his third. His stunning debut Rupture, review here, was a Whydunnit which explored how a teacher came to murder his pupils. The Child Who takes its inspiration Read More

The return of everyone’s flying car

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce When Mr Tooting is made redundant, he decides he needs a project and, with son Jem’s help, they rebuild an ancient old camper van. Then the plan is to go globe-trotting in it. It needs new vintage sparkplugs though despite all their travails. Off they Read More

Another quirky fable of men and their work

A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked in by Magnus Mills Don’t you just love the cover of this book?  Having just finished reading it, I love it even more, as it encapsulates the kingdom within its pages perfectly. I can identify its buildings including ‘The Cake’ – the dome-topped concert hall (middle Read More

A Dark tale of twins: American – in Paris

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive   Comes the Night by Hollis Hampton-Jones Meade and Ben Ho are nineteen year old twins; they are Americans in Paris, rich kids. They have one of those incredibly close, empathic and near telepathic twin relationships. Ben Ho is at art Read More

Bookgroup Report – Always look on the bright side of life

Candide by Voltaire This short novel is another one of those influential classic books that I had always planned to read. I’d bought a copy in preparation, and ten years later it was still sitting on the shelf. I was really pleased that we chose it at book group, and I’m mighty glad to have Read More

Class wars in the suburbs – just ‘champion’ …

The Champion by Tim Binding Tim Binding is one of those authors of whom I’ve been aware for a while, and I’ve even got a couple of his books in my TBR piles, but never read any of them.  The publicity blurb for his latest published earlier this year, said ‘The Champion pulsates with black humour Read More

Gaskella goes graphic …

When I was a student years ago, I was rather fond of the early Cerebus the Aardvark comics, (swords and sorcery with an cute aardvark hero – yes I know!). After that I didn’t read any comics or graphic novels until 2007 when our Bookgroup read one of the classics of the genre, Watchmen – written Read More

Old reviews from 2011: The start of two dogged detective series…

Cop Hater by Ed McBain Ed McBain is the author who really created the police procedural novel, with his series of fifty-five 87th Precinct books written between 1956 and 2005. In the introduction to Cop Hater, he tells how he came up with the idea of a squadroom of police officers, all with different characters, whom together Read More

Return of the Living Dead …

It’s that time of year again when I fit a few spooky novels into my October reading plans.  Last year I read only vampire stories – this year I’m ranging more widely for fearsome creatures and I’ve started off with a ‘Teen Gothic’ novel about werewolves… Claire De Lune by Christine Johnson Claire is just a Read More

Russian echoes of Waiting for Godot

The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin The story in this wonderful novel was inspired by a real event – that of the eighty year old Stravinsky returning to Russia in a ‘for one night only’ comeback concert; the queue for tickets started a whole year before. Set in an unnamed Russian city some time during the height Read More

A Disintegrating Life in Letters

The Cry Of The Sloth by Sam Savage Savage, whose delightful and quirky first novel, Firmin: Adventures Of A Metropolitan Lowlife was published at the age of 67, has done it again with The Cry Of The Sloth, upping the quirk quotient considerably in this bizarrely funny, yet sad story. Subtitled, ‘The Mostly Tragic Story of Read More

An eloquently written misery memoir, long but loaded with nuggets of the author’s wit and bite

Closing Time by Joe Queenan I have enjoyed all the Joe Queenan books I’ve read, particularly The Unkindest Cut: How a Hatchet-Man Critic Made His Own $7,000 Movie and Put It All on His Credit Card.  Queenan is a journalist and author, having written for the New York Times and The Guardian amongst others, where his Read More

A novel of archaeology, food, pandemics and ghosts

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss This novel, published by Granta, is lovely to behold. What you can’t see are the beautiful turquoise blue page edges, and the glossy white fibrils of grassy roots insinuating their way through the bones of the skeleton curled up underneath the title. Luckily I enjoyed reading the book as much Read More

Sheer Poetry – a remarkable read

Cloud Busting by Malorie Blackman This is unlike any other children’s story I have ever read. A series of 26 short poems, telling the story of Sam and Davey, and all about bullying and friendship, secrets and lies, and the terrible thing that happened one day … Told entirely in Sam’s voice, the poems are Read More

Beware of black buttons – Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Coraline by Neil Gaiman is a deliciously scary children’s novel that is destined to become an absolute classic. Think Clive Barker for kids, but with a sense of humour and you’re about there. ***SLIGHT PLOT SPOILER ALERT*** Coraline’s family has moved into a new flat. Her parents are too busy to talk to her so Read More