Lots of Shiny Linkiness

Time to catch up here with a bit of linkiness to my reviews published at Shiny New Books, there have been several over the past weeks I’ve not mentioned here. Star Turns by Tim Walker Journalist Tim Walker has worked at many publications, currently at the New European, where he resurrected the Mandrake diary column Read More

Shiny Linkiness – Becky Chambers

Just a quick note here to say that my review of Becky Chambers’ final book of the Wayfarer’s Quartet is up at Shiny New Books today. All four novels stand alone, being set in the same galactic milieu with different characters, just a few minimal references to characters in the other novels. You can read Read More

Japanese Literature Challenge #1

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide Translated by Eric Selland The Japanese write a lot of books about cats, don’t they? Being a cat lover, these books are irresistible to me, I couldn’t resist the green foiled eyes glinting out at me on the cover of The Guest Cat, a book I’ve seen glowingly reviewed 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 #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

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

Two in short: Tremain and Laurain

Because the authors’ names rhyme, and I haven’t got a huge amount to say about these novels, despite enjoying them both a lot, here’s a twofer for you: The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain This was our book group read, discussed back at the start of the month. It was mostly a hit with our Read More

Two novels in which the protagonist is NOT ‘completely fine’

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman Most people I know who have read this book have loved it – but not everyone, notably Rebecca (who reviewed it here).  I must say that although it was an entertaining read that I sped through, I’m tending towards Rebecca’s view.  You’ve also probably seen all over Read More

An amoral anti-hero for Italian Lit Month

  The Goodbye Kiss by Massimo Carlotto Translated by Lawrence Venuti There’s dark, and then there’s dark! You know what I mean, we’re talking the super-noir of Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me or Simenon’s Dirty Snow here…  Lean and mean novels with an amoral anti-hero at their hearts. This is the case for the protagonist Read More

A return to Joe Thomas’s Sao Paulo

Gringa by Joe Thomas At around this time last year, I read the first in a new crime series set in Sao Paulo (reviewed here for Shiny).  Joe Thomas lived and taught in São Paulo, the most populous city in the Americas and Southern Hemisphere, for ten years. His observations and experience of living in this Read More

Three Short Novels – Simenon – Fitzgerald – Johnston

Georges Simenon – The Grand Banks Café Translated by David Coward Maigret and Mrs Maigret are about to go on holiday. Mrs Maigret is packing as Maigret reads a letter that’s arrived from an old friend. “…Listen, are you still set on passing our week’s holiday in Alsace?” She stared at him, not understanding. The Read More

‘Handmaidesque’…

Given that we’ve all been transfixed by the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, there’s a definite market for ‘Handmaidesque’ dystopian novels at the moment; Gather the Daughters is one such. If I were to pitch it, I’d describe Jennie Melamed’s debut as Handmaid’s Tale meets The Crucible with a hint of Lord Read More

Towles’ entrancing second novel…

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles Amor Towles’ debut novel Rules of Civility (reviewed here) was one of the best books I read in 2011. Although Towles graduated in English back in the late 1980s, he worked as an investment professional for over twenty years before publishing his first novel. This book was a Read More

In Short – some capsule reviews

A pair of shorter reviews for you today – both books are short and begin with G. That’s where their similarity ends though, they couldn’t be further apart in their style! Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter This prize-winning book from 2015 is hard to categorise, other than short – it’s as Read More

Reading Ireland Month

March is Reading Ireland month, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books and Niall at The Fluff is Raging. Being half-Irish (my mum was from Belfast) and thus eligible for an Irish passport should the UK go totally to the dogs, I couldn’t not join in, especially after my post about Irish actor James Ellis’s later Read More

Three Short Takes

The Wall by William Sutcliffe Although published as a YA title, and longlisted for the Carnegie Medal in 2014, this novel has crossover appeal – and should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand more about Palestine, Israel and the West Bank settlements. Thirteen-year-old Joshua lives in a town called Amarias in the ‘Occupied 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

Bookish Delights

Yesterday I was delighted to be invited to attend a bloggers afternoon at the Groucho Club hosted by literary agents PFD to meet and hear some of the authors shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times/Peters Fraser Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award – and you couldn’t hope for a more diverse collection of literary styles Read More

Predictable and disappointing…

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins This won’t be a long review. So much has been said about this thriller already, but I was profoundly disappointed by it, and won’t bother with the film either. Gone Girl was way better, (book and film; my book review here). The story is told mostly through the eyes Read More

When the American Dream is found out…

The Good Guy by Susan Beale I absolutely adore tales set in 1960s American suburbia. There’s something about the more spacious US setting that grabs me in a way that those set in the cramped English equivalent don’t. They are too close to home for I am a product of the 1960s London suburbs; been there, Read More

A life in a day… again and again and again…

Groundhog Day – Book by Danny Rubin, Music & Lyrics by Tim Minchin August has been such a busy month. Not only have I managed to read 19 books, but I managed to go to the theatre twice and forgot to tell you about the first time when I took my daughter to the Old Read More

Pitch: The Time Bandits in Hawaii?

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig Nix Song lives on a tall ship with her father and small band of fiercely loyal crew, refugees from time. Captain Slate is able to ‘navigate’ the ship through time to any where, but only if he has a true and dated map – and each map only Read More

Great Gatsby, it’s Gorsky!

Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy This novel, a bold reimagining of The Great Gatsby relocated to contemporary London, longlisted for this year’s Bailey’s Prize, has turned out to be a bit of a marmite novel. There are roughly three camps of thought about it: Those who love The Great Gatsby and loved what Goldsworthy has done with Gorsky. Those who love The Great Read More

The end of California dreaming?

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins I adore speculative fiction. Show me a post-disaster scenario or near future alternative society and I’m all over it, as they say. Given the puffs on the cover for the author’s first book of short stories, Battleborn, and knowing only that this novel is set in a near-future California Read More

Shiny Fiction Linkiness

Time to share my Fiction reviews from Issue 8 of Shiny New Books with you – four very different but enjoyable books, click through to read the full reviews, links within the text refer to my previous reviews: The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaitre Best known for his Verhoeven trilogy, Lemaitre has turned from contemporary fare to the end Read More

Discovering my second brain

Gut by Giulia Enders I still have a small pile of other books to review I read last year, I’ve promoted this one, the last book I finished in 2015, to be the first reviewed in 2016, and will get back to the others soon. I’m notoriously bad at persevering with projects – it’ll be Read More

Something ‘that scares me’…

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith One of the few remaining squares on my summer(!) book bingo card has been crossed off with this novel. I find few ghost stories truly scary and own few horror novels of the type that would 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