Alfred Hayes and his three ages of failed love…

I discovered the world of Alfred Hayes a couple of years ago when I read My Face For the World to See (reviewed here). That novella explored the doomed relationship between a nameless married narrator who rescues a younger woman from drowning at the beach in LA. The writing was so beautiful, so intense, so Read More

Book Group Report: Dublin Murders 1

In the Woods by Tana French Just a short post today about this month’s book group read which we discussed earlier in the week. It’s quite rare for our group to all be in agreement, but everyone who was able to read this book enjoyed it, and appreciated the quality of the writing. I read Read More

Fitzcarraldo Fortnight

It Gets Me Home, This Curving Track by Ian Penman After Karen reviewed this book last autumn (here) I just had to get hold of a copy – one of Fitzcarraldo’s white for non-fiction titles. I love great music journalism, and this collection of essays about a wide range of musicians is some of the 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

The immigrant experience in a North London estate

In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne Gunaratne’s novel was longlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize, but sadly didn’t make the shortlist. It has now been shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize – an award that celebrates creatively daring fiction. Daring it is, for never have I read a book where the dialogue Read More

An understated but moving novel with the cutest cover ever!

If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura Translated by Eric Selland I think the little kitten on this book must rank amongst the cutest cats ever to grace a cover.  What you can’t see from the picture above is that his eyes are highlighted with gold, glinting at you, and daring you to Read More

Très charmant! J’ai adoré ce roman

With You in Paris by Clémentine Beauvais Translated by Sam Taylor After the excess of English whimsy (thanks for that phrase, Liz!) of The Brontes Went to Woolworths, I needed a palate-cleanser of a read. Usually, I turn to thrillers, but this book on my bedside shelf caught my eye, and it was just the perfect Read More

Can you cheat fate?

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin I’ve been itching to read this novel due to its clever premise since I first got my hands on a copy. I’ve finally made time for it. How long would you live your life if you knew the day you were going to die? This is the central question, emblazoned Read More

Another dose of Murdoch…

The Italian Girl by Iris Murdoch After being the only person to sort of enjoy parts of The Black Prince (reviewed here) at our book group last month, I was slightly wary of reading another of her novels so soon. But the Great Iris Murdoch Readalong hosted by Liz Dexter was up to her 1964 novel The Read More

“17 Brushes with Death”

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell Subtitled “17 Brushes With Death” O’Farrell’s memoir was recently longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize, and I (and others on our shadow panel) were devastated when it wasn’t shortlisted. For me, it could have replaced Ayobami’s Stay With Me or perhaps Rausing’s Mayhem, although I can Read More

What ‘Elle Thinks’ is Right … Tana French is Fab!

In the Woods by Tana French Every time Eleanor of Elle Thinks mentions Tana French (the latest being here), I say ‘I must read one of her books’. Tana French is one of Eleanor’s go-to comfort reads, and she is always recommending her.  Well, now I have read French’s first novel, and I can see Read More

Two excellent thrillers – Moskva and The Ice

Moskva by Jack Grimwood You may know Grimwood through his literary novel The Last Banquet written as John Grimwood, or his fantasy/crime novels written as Jon Courtenay Grimwood. I’ve not read any of them, although I do own The Last Banquet, which I remember was very well received. It’s certainly going up my pile, having Read More

The Importance of Music to Girls

By Lavinia Greenlaw I adore books that cover musical memories from the 1970s and 1980s, the formative years of my teens and twenties. The 1970s in particular, despite all the horrors they’ve thrown up since, are my musical heartland. Lavinia Greenlaw is a poet and author and is just a couple of years younger than 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

This one gave me the creeps…

I See You by Clare Mackintosh I see you. But you do’t see me. You’re engrossed in your book; a paperback cover with a girl in a red dress. I can’t see the title but it doesn’t matter; they’re all the same. If it isn’t boy meets girl, it’s boy stalks girl. Boy kills girl. Read More

Camille Verhoeven Irene Frank Wynne Pierre lemaitre maclehose

Irène by Pierre Lemaitre Translated by Frank Wynne Irène is chronologically the first novel in Pierre Lemaitre’s trilogy featuring Parisian police detective Commandant Camille Verhœven, yet in the UK it was published second, after Alex and is followed this spring by the third volume, Camille. I reviewed Alex in 2013 (click here) and it was the best crime thriller I read all that Read More

Christmas Shiny Linkiness …

Today, I’d like to direct you over to my reviews in the Shiny New Books Christmas Inbetweeny.  By the way, have you tried our Shiny Advent Quiz yet? Ideal as a post-prandial competition… But back to my reviews as these books are all too good to leave off mentioning here too: The Islanders by Pascal Read More

The Intruders were in my TBR!…

The Intruders by Michael Marshall British author Marshall began writing stylish SF novels as Michael Marshall Smith – winning the Philip K Dick Award for his debut Only Forward, which I’ve been meaning to re-read for years! After a few more, he dropped the ‘Smith’ and moved into the world of creepy thrillers winning plaudits Read More

A sad beginning and a happy ending cut oh so short by tragedy …

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini While I was doing some research into age appropriate novels for younger teens for a post on the topic back in November, I kept coming across books for older teens Read More

Gothic with a twist

Isabel’s Skin by Peter Benson Peter Benson is one of those underrated British authors that never write the same book twice. Each novel is different. I’ve only read one of his before: that was Odo’s Hanging about the commissioning of the Bayeux Tapestry published in the mid 1990s. Lately he’s been best known for Two Cows and Read More

C'est fun, but c'est n'est pas Les Mis…

Illumination by Matthew Plampin Given the love for all things French and 19th century at the moment thanks to the film I still haven’t seen that is Les Misérables, it was a good time to read a revolutionary novel. Illumination is set later than Hugo’s masterpiece,  during the Siege of Paris of 1870-71 in the Franco-Prussian Read More

A dystopian psychodrama that packs a punch…

I Have Waited, and You Have Come by Martine McDonagh Set in a near future where global warming has wreaked Mother Nature’s revenge on the Earth and made large parts of the globe uninhabitable due to rising water levels, Rachel lives alone in a old mill in the Yorkshire Dales. Jacob used to live with Read More

You shall go to the ball …

Republished into its original timeline from my lost posts archive Invitation To The Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann Rosamund Lehmann is another of those authors from the middle decades of the twentieth century that I’ve been meaning to read for ages. Invitation to the Waltz, her third novel, was published in 1932.  Set in the 1920s, Read More

Dinner Parties – A Risky Business!

Injury Time by Beryl Bainbridge Dinner parties… Love ’em, loathe ’em – but from the mid 1970s to perhaps as far as the late 1990s they were a symbol of the middle classes. The kitchen-sink drama moved into the Dining Room. Acceptance of your position in the hierarchy by giving dinner parties was soon replaced by Read More

One man against a world of vampires …

This post was republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson I am Legend was first published in 1954; it was Matheson’s third novel. His fourth would go on to make cinematic history – The Shrinking Man would become a huge film hit as The Incredible Shrinking Man in 1957.  I remember adoring Read More

In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar

Republished into my blogs original timeline from my lost posts archive Growing up with Gaddafi Since the escalation of political unrest in Libya recently, the author of this 2006 Booker shortlisted novel has been in demand to comment about living under Gaddafi – something he is particularly well placed to do.  His own family fled Libya Read More

3 from March 2011 – Handler – Reed – Fredericks

Adverbs by Daniel Handler – Lemony Snicket for Grown-ups 3 from March 2011 This author is best known as the writer of the fun Lemony Snicket series of novels for children.  I’ve read the first Lemony Snicket novel, and heard the audiobook narrated by Tim Curry, (I just love his voice!) and one day intend to read the rest of the Read More

Bah Humbug!

I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas by Adam Roberts Given that Yellow Blue Tibia by Roberts was both the maddest and best SF book I read this year, I had high hopes of this zombie take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as a bit of fun this festive season.  Would it live up to the fun I had Read More