Harm by Sólveig Pálsdóttir – blog tour

Translated by Quentin Bates Nordic Noir fan that I am, it’s a delight to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Harm – the third book in Pálsdóttir’s Ice and Crime series published by Corylus Books who are specialising in Euro crime. Corylus’s list is small but growing with three Icelandic authors on their Read More

Heritage by Miguel Bonnefoy – An Epic Novella

Translated by Emily Boyce Originally I planned to review this novella for Shiny, but I was enjoying it so much I neglected to make notes and mark pages to come back to. Then, when I sat down to write the usual longer form review that we aim for at Shiny, I couldn’t manage to write Read More

#NordicFINDS – Finland week – a cli-fi, spec fic, dystopian noir crime thriller

The Healer by Antti Tuomainen Translated by Lola Rogers I discovered Tuomainen last year when I read his latest novel The Rabbit Factor, a dark comedy thriller which I loved. I decided to go back to his first available novel in English for #NordicFINDS, (first published in 2010, translated in 2013), which in now typical Read More

#NordicFINDS – Norway Week – A locked room mystery

The Human Flies by Hans Olav Lahlum Translated by Kari Dickson This is the first novel in Lahlum’s ‘K2 and Patricia’ series of Norwegian detective novels which now number four. Set in the late 1960s into the early 1970s, they are unencumbered by modern technology bar the forensics of the time, allowing the convolutions of Read More

Ariadne, Theseus and the Minotaur – a book pairing of opposites

This would have been just a single review – of Jennifer Saint’s retelling of Ariadne’s story from Greek Myth. But then Marina Sofia recently posted a review of Russian author Victor Pelevin’s Omon Ra, and I remembered I had Pelevin’s retelling of Theseus and the Minotaur from the Canongate Myths series on my shelves, and Read More

Catching up with Book Group reads

With our December zoom last week, another year of our Book Group came to an end – we did manage to have two in person meetings sitting in a pub beer garden, until that got too cold. We’ve retreated back to zoom for now, but fingers crossed for the spring. I’ve been going since 2004, Read More

Book 100 of the Year: Charles Yu’s strange science fictional universe

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu Inspired by Susan’s review of Yu’s latest novel, Interior Chinatown (which I’ve had to order!), I returned to Yu’s previous novel, his first published in 2010, which has a winning cover full of ray-guns, and if you look carefully enough, a dog. Both Read More

Review Round-up – Thompson, Bythell & Cowen / Hayes

Beeswing by Richard Thompson In the mid-80s I discovered British folk music, thanks to friends Jon and Jan. An essential part of my education was Fairport Convention and Richard Thompson, although it’s fair to say that Thompson’s solo work really took off for me a little later with his wonderful 1991 song 1952 Vincent Black Read More

A super Irish debut – meet Eimear Ryan

Holding Her Breath by Eimear Ryan I’m willing to wager that of all sports, barring US favourites baseball and basketball, that occur in novels, that swimming predominates, and that it’s the number one sport for women characters. I have no real evidence to back this up, but here’s six fairly recent swimming covers (5 novels Read More

Book Group report: N is for Nora Ephron

Heartburn by Nora Ephron Our Book Group have reached the second half of the alphabet! May’s book for discussion was the only novel by the creator of peerless romcoms, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, the latter she directed too. She also wrote the screenplay, directed and produced Julie & Julia, the book Read More

Shiny Linkiness – Hamburg to Douala

Today, just a couple of links to my latest reviews for Shiny New Books. Having been able to read more during furlough – last day today, back to school on Monday (looking forward to that and dreading it at the same time – but I have had my first jab, so will feel safer as Read More

A Hundred Million Years and a Day by Jean-Baptiste Andrea

Translated by Sam Taylor I love French adventure/crime/thrillers, and would happily read any books along that line that Gallic Books (one of my fave indie publishers) produce, especially as this one is translated by one of the superstars of French-English translation, Sam Taylor. This novel has already been a huge bestseller in France, so it Read More

“Home is so sad”

How It Was by Janet Ellis After reading and loving the late Clive James’ last book, an anthology of his writing on Philip Larkin (reviewed here), I was planning to read more Larkin already. Then, up he pops in my last read of 2019, in the title and epigraph of Janet Ellis’s second novel, for Read More

Wellcome Reading #7 – Jauhar and Edelstein

Heart – A History by Sandeep Jauhar This book is the single traditional medical history/memoir to make the Wellcome Book Prize shortlist this year. Jauhar is a practising cardiologist in the USA, and he combines personal memoir of his doctor’s career and family medical notes with explaining how the heart works, patients’ stories and a Read More

Hello World: An evening with Hannah Fry

One of the highlights of this year’s ATOM Science Festival in Abingdon was a lecture by Dr Hannah Fry (here’s her website) based on her latest book Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine which will be published in paperback next Thursday. Hannah will be known to many for her TV documentaries and her long-running Radio 4 series Read More

‘La Serenissima’ a city of masks…

The Hourglass by Liz Heron People pass by on the fondamenta, a canal’s breadth away, and hear the strains of Mozart through the open window. An old recording, its tempo fast, the trio of singers still clear, the insistence on women’s faithlessness unmistakable behind the music’s effervescence. È la fede delle femmineCome l’araba fenice… A Read More

Two from the Library… yes, you did read that correctly!

I finally got a new library card last month, after not having borrowed from there since my daughter was a toddler when we used to visit weekly to stock up on picture books. I do need to spend less, to buy fewer books, but not zero – I couldn’t possibly do that! So I’m hoping Read More

NYRB Fortnight (belated) – Alfred Hayes

I spotted that Lizzy was hosting an NYRB fortnight rather late in the actual fortnight, but I started reading this slim volume on the last day, so it counts in my book! My Face For the World to See by Alfred Hayes Hayes, who was born in London but emigrated to the US as a Read More

1974 joint Booker Prize winner…

Holiday by Stanley Middleton Some time ago, I picked up a copy of Holiday at a book sale, only knowing that it had shared the 1974 Booker prize with Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist. I’d otherwise never heard of Middleton, so I was surprised to find this was the 14th novel of his 44-novel career!  If Read More

Duncan Jones’s Bowie Book Club #1

After David Bowie died, (was it really over two years ago? it feels like yesterday), I added my own ‘Bowie Book Club‘ page to my blog with his 100 favourite books. I had no plans to read them systematically, but hoped to read or re-read at least a few of them, and read about some Read More

Book Group Report: “Windows”

The High Window by Raymond Chandler Our key-word for this month’s book choice was ‘Window(s)’.  The other choices pitched into the hat were:  High Windows by Philip Larkin, House without windows by Nadia Hashimi and Microserfs by Douglas Coupland, but Raymond Chandler won out – a great choice for a busy period of the year. The Read More

Some recent reads in short…

It’s catch-up time again… Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre  While I loved Lemaitre’s Verhoeven trilogy and last year’s superbly creepy Blood Wedding, Three Days and a Life was a slight disappointment. It’s still an excellent suspense novel, but lacks the elements of surprise and immediacy that his others have shown.  It has Read More

She’s Nailed it!

How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson Allison Pearson’s first novel,  I Don’t Know How She Does It, published in 2002, was an instant bestseller and one of the defining women’s novels of the time about the pressure to have it all.  Her protagonist, Kate Reddy, was a successful fund manager in the City, Read More

Meanwhile at Shiny…

…I’ve had several reviews published recently. In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant Sarah Dunant’s latest novel chronicles the last year of Pope Alexander VI’s life. He was, of course, head of the Borgia family in Renaissance Italy. His mad and vicious soldier son Cesare, and daughter about to be thrice-married Lucrezia complete Read More

Catching up – Jan and Feb Book Group reviews

I thought it was time I started reviewing the books I’ve read this year, so today I’m catching up with our book group reads discussed in Jan and Feb. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis This was the first book I read this year, managing to squeeze it in just before we met a few days into January. Read More

A Talking Head talks about music

How Music Works by David Byrne This book was the highlight of my splurge of non-fiction reading in December. David Byrne, founder and idiosyncratic front man of Talking Heads – one of the best punky/art-rock bands there has ever been, friend and collaborator with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp amongst others, could never be expected Read More

Slightly tepid in style but full of the Gorgon’s rage…

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy This novel was my first encounter with Levy and I’ll confess, I read the book and wasn’t necessarily wowed by it at first. Upon reflection though, the more I thought about it, the more I started to get to grips with some of the themes within, it’s grown on me. The initial Read More

Two novellas for WIT month

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang Translated by Chi-Young Kim, Illustrations by Nomoco This Korean novella has been a huge bestseller and it’s easy to see why. For a start, the cover is divine, the book is physically lovely with French flaps, and Nomoco’s illustrations preface each chapter. All that before you get Read More

A great end to a fantastic YA trilogy

Half Lost by Sally Green I’ve loved all three volumes of Sally Green’s Half Bad Trilogy. In the first, Half Bad, we were introduced to the young Nathan Byrn, son of a white witch mother and the most powerful of the black witches as his father. England is controlled by the Council of (white) Witches, and Nathan Read More