#TDiRS22 – The Dark is Rising Sequence Book 1: Over Sea, Under Stone

It’s finally time for my write-up of the first novel in Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence, and what a perfect summer read Over Sea, Under Stone (OS,US, 1965) made. In my introductory post to the readalong, I posted a few questions to consider while reading the book, and I’ll reflect on those below, Read More

Announcing the Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising Sequence Readalong #TDiRS22

Inspired by my re-reading of the Chronicles of Narnia in an eight-month readalong with Chris (yes, that’s the seven Narnia books plus a non-fiction companion volume), I have decided to keep reading a ‘classic’ of children’s literature each month, intending not only to revisit favourites from my childhood to see how they live up to Read More

Review Catch-up – again! Cocker, Saint, Jamieson & Stibbe

Firstly some Shiny Linkiness… Good Pop, Bad Pop by Jarvis Cocker This book of memoir, styled as an inventory of the stuff in Cocker’s loft from his teens and the early Pulp years until he went down to art college in London, is just a delight. Cocker has such a quirky personality, a conforming Yorkshire Read More

The Octopus Man by Jasper Gibson – blogtour

Back in 2013, Jasper Gibson wrote a comedy thriller called A Bright Moon for Fools (reviewed for Shiny here) in which archetypal old reprobate Harry Christmas runs away from his London life to Caracas and has the time of his life until a nasty reminder of his old life arrives to upset things. This book Read More

Off Target by Eve Smith – blog tour

I adore spec fiction set just into the future, and I’ll admit part of that thrill is the scary thought that some of it may come true. It adds a layer of excitement that really gets my brain thinking overtime. I’m so glad to have discovered Eve Smith, and after really enjoying her new novel, Read More

Reading the Sunday Times Young Writer Award Shortlist

The Sunday Times Charlotte Aitken Young Writer of the Year Award is the UK and Ireland’s most influential prize for young writers, and the latest winner will be announced on Feb 24th, preceded by an event at Waterstones Piccadilly, chaired by Sebastian Faulks on Feb 23rd (you can buy tickets here). I’d love to go, Read More

Our Friends in Beijing by John Simpson

John Simpson is a veteran news reporter for the BBC chalking up fifty years with the corporation. Not surprisingly, he has written many books about his experiences and the life and times of those he reported about. He is also the author of four novels, two in the 1980s, leaving a big gap to 2018’s Read More

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann – Blog Tour

There are two ways to read this novel: firstly, you can just dive straight in and enjoy it without thinking about the significance of the placename in its title, or, you can give yourself a knowing smile and keep an eye open as you read for all the resonances in its pages. I did the Read More

Families are complicated! ‘One Last Time’ blog tour

One Last Time by Helga Flatland Translated by Rosie Hedger Helga Flatland’s fifth novel, A Modern Family, won the Norwegian Bookseller’s Prize, and was her first to be translated into English by Rosie Hedger. She has been billed as the ‘Norwegian Anne Tyler’, and when offered the opportunity to join the blog tour for her Read More

20 Books of Summer: #7 & #8 – a Barnes duo

When I picked my 20 books, I managed to include two by Julian Barnes, for I forgot that Julian Barnes wrote a series of crime novels in the 1980s under a pseudonym – Dan Kavanagh, (Kavanagh being the maiden name of his wife). So I read the two back to back – which worked very Read More

Guest Post: TJ Gorton on the inspiration for his novel Only the Dead

Quartet is an indie publisher that always publishes interesting books – indeed they describe themselves as having ‘a fine tradition of pursuing an alternative to the mainstream’. So when I was invited to join the blog tour for their latest novel to be published, I said yes but knowing my review pile was teetering opted Read More

Life as a WPC

On the Line by Alice Vinten We are all fascinated by other peoples’ lives these days. Narrative non-fiction as publishers call the mixture that includes history, politics, biography and memoir – any non-fiction that tells a story. Doctors and surgeons’ memoirs, have been joined by nurses, midwives, chefs, firemen, barristers and more, and now by Read More

Review Roundup

Catch-up time once again. Some shorter thoughts on some recent reads… The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon I read this as a buddy read with Rebecca at Bookish Beck – do go and read her fab post composed mostly from her twitter thoughts chapter by chapter here, so just a few Read More

Review catch-up

On Presence: Essays | Drawings by Peter Reason and Sarah Gillespie Recruiting Peter to the team of Shiny New Books reviewers was a bit of a coup – in fact he approached us. A retired professor, he has a deep interest in the natural world and humanity’s place in the ecology of the planet. His Read More

More Poetry – Joe Dunthorne & Heidi Williamson

O Positive by Joe Dunthorne No sooner had I started reading my first novel by Joe Dunthorne, the rather fab The Adulterants (reviewed here), than I discovered he had a book of poetry coming out, and I was keen to see more. O Positive with its blood-red lettering on the front cover, is divided into four sections, one for Read More

Shakespeare at the Beach

Oh, I Do Like to Be… by Marie Phillips I adored Marie Phillips’ debut novel, Gods Behaving Badly, which I read in 2008 pre-blog, but did write a few lines on my trusty spreadsheet… “What happens if you’re an ancient Greek god or goddess, but nobody believes in you any more? This delightfully fun and Read More

Winterson’s powerful debut novel

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson I don’t know how I’ve managed to escape reading Winterson’s debut – I’ve read (and loved) her autobiography Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, (reviewed here), and I very much enjoyed the TV adaptation of this book with Geraldine McEwan playing the fearsome mother. Read More

A novel with a rather long title…

One Clear Ice-cold January Morning at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century by Roland Schimmelpfennig Translated by Jamie Bulloch The worst thing about this book is its cumbersome title – which is actually the beginning of the novel’s first sentence, which continues thus: …just after daybreak, a solitary wolf crossed the frozen river marking the Read More

20 Books of Summer #1 – Why have I never read Kent Haruf before?

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf Over the years, so many people have sung the praises of Kent Haruf, but he remained undiscovered for me until I got one of his novels at a book sale – then it sat on the shelf until I picked it up for this years 20 Books of Read More

A Wild Swans for this generation?

Once Upon a Time in the East by Xiaolu Guo It is inevitable that Guo’s memoir, which was shortlisted this year for the Rathbones Folio Prize (which I wrote about here), will be compared with Jung Chang’s brilliant family history and memoir Wild Swans, with Guo adding her story as a young woman from the Read More

The Power of Fairy Tales: Marina Warner & Sally Gardner

Once Upon a Time by Marina Warner Subtitled ‘A short history of fairy tale’, Warner’s compact volume belies its small size. It’s a tiny hardback, but within its 200 or so pages, the author recounts the rich history behind the beloved fairy tales we all know from their most common (often arguably via Disney film Read More

PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year shortlist – Minoo Dinshaw

Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman by Minoo Dinshaw I think I can be forgiven for going ‘Steven Who?’ when faced with this doorstop of a book to read as a Shadow Judge of this prize. History has never been my strong suit, and I’d never heard of Runciman – who turned out Read More

Book Group Report: Medicine

Our topic for discussion this month was medicine. Two months ago, when we were choosing which medical book to read, the nominations were varied – from real surgeons and psychiatrists or psychologists to fictional surgeons and psychiatrists or psychologists… Saturday – Ian McEwan Outbreak by Robin Cook    Not a red hair in sight – Read More

An Atwoodian YA tale…

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill It’s rare that a cover quote on a book cover sums up a novel so completely, but the one from Vagenda on one of the paperback editions of Louise O’Neill’s debut novel is near-perfect: ‘Mean Girls meets The Handmaid’s Tale’ But of course I can’t leave it there! The moment I Read More

Small town secrets and lies…

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive. Orient by Christopher Bollen This is a thriller about small town America writ large – and chunky, weighing in at 609 pages. However, it was totally gripping right from the start as each page peels away all the secrets and lies that foster Read More

The bells, the bells…

This post was edited and republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. A Musical Interlude I’ve just finished reading Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, which I loved and have reviewed for Shiny New Books here. In the novel, the narrator’s mother is a German concert pianist Read More

A Trio of Short Reviews

I thought I’d sneak a couple of short book reviews into that week between Christmas and New Year.  Too bloated with turkey, booze and chocolate to concentrate on reading, I often find I’m scouring the web at this time for stuff to read and do! The Last Kings of Sark by Rosa Rankin-Gee This is Read More

Medieval Iceland – a place of cod wars even then…

On the Cold Coasts by Vilborg Davidsdottir Transl Alda Sigmundsdottir At the heart of this novel is the tale of Ragna, a young Icelandic woman from a family with property in Greenland which she will inherit. Still a young teenager, yet betrothed to Thorkell, Ragna becomes unmarriageable when she becomes pregnant by an English sailor Read More

Short Takes on Two Short Stories…

I don’t read many short stories, but this week, I’ve happened to read two … The Small Miracleby Paul Gallico Published in  1951, Gallico’s story is a charming fable of faith and love about an orphan boy Pepino, and his donkey Violette. Pepino and Violette live in Assisi. They make ends meet by doing donkey Read More