Hiiii, Ouaf Ouaf, Crôa Crôa, Coin Coin, Piit Piit

The Strays of Paris by Jane Smiley For those who don’t know their French animal noises (NB: I cheated and looked them up) above we have a neigh, woof, caw, quack and squeak. We can only hear these onomatopeic words, but the animals in Jane Smiley’s new novel can understand each other perfectly. Smiley hasn’t Read More

Blog Tour – Fez Inkwright – Botanical Curses and Poisons

I’m delighted to be the last stop on the the Random Things Blog Tour for Fez Inkwright’s new book, Botanical Curses and Poisons: The Shadow Lives of Plants, just published by Liminal 11. I’ve always had a fascination for ‘poisonous’ plants – not that I want to cultivate them for any nefarious purpose – if Read More

A case of act first, think later…

I Was Jack Mortimer by Alexander Lernet-Holenia Translated by Ignat Avsey Alexander Lernet-Holenia was Austrian, a protégé of Rilke, he wrote poems, novels, plays and screenplays. He served during both world wars, but managed to keep his distance from the National Socialist Party. I Was Jack Mortimer (Ich war Jack Mortimer) was published in 1933, Read More

This can’t be ‘love’?

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting These days as a cynical divorcée, I tend to ascribe to the view that Valentine’s Day is just a marketing exercise that I don’t wish to join in with again, but you can’t get away from it, and even I can be persuaded to read or watch some romantic Read More

Shiny Linkiness

Just a quick post to direct you towards Shiny New Books where I have two reviews posted this week, both from indie publishers: Mr Cadmus by Peter Ackroyd This is Ackroyd having huge fun with not a Victorian in sight! This novella is a sort of dark, twisted version of a quaint British cosy mystery Read More

Indie ✓ – Hungary ✓

Metropole by Ferenc Karinthy Translated by George Szirtes I’m on fire with my reading for #ReadIndies month and #ERC2021, crossing Hungary off the list of European countries with this novel published by Telegram Books, Saqi’s world literature imprint. Metropole is the story of one traveller’s nightmare. Budai, a linguist, was on his way to a Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Redhead by the Side of the Road

My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in the titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month our starting point is Anne Tyler’s latest, which I’ve yet to read, but Read More

More Indies and Japan – Porter and Tanizaki

Today I have a Shiny link and another Japanese cat for you, both from indie publishers … The Death of Francis Bacon by Max Porter In his third short novel, (my review of his first here), Porter gets even more experimental, presenting a series of imagined word pictures as the tortured artist lies dying in Read More

European Reading x3 – Kundera, Laurain, Malvaldi

I’m taking part in the European Reading Challenge 2021 hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader this year, hoping to cross off as many European countries as possible in my reading. With these three, I’m up to six in January alone… (Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Italy, Russia, UK). Here are my reviews for the Czech Republic, France Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #14

Yet another plundering from my pre-blog capsule reviews on the trusty spreadsheet. I’m not quite running out of meaningful reviews yet, so here is another selection from 2007 or earlier, all crime or thrillers this time … Pompeii by Robert Harris Reading this novel, one is reminded of the classic Monty Python scene in ‘Life Read More

Finishing the 2020 review pile! Hornby-Ryan-Nolan

It’s nearly February, and I realised that I still have three books unreviewed that I read in 2020. How could I leave them that long? I’ve always found that getting my thoughts down about a book soon after reading, not only fixes it more firmly in my mind, but also makes them easier to review, Read More

Reading the Decades #1: The 1940s

Those who visit this blog regularly will know of my devotion to contemporary fiction, the shiny and the new. But I’m not really a one-trick pony in my reading. One of the metrics in my annual reading stats is the number of books I’ve read published before I was born in 1960, and while it Read More

Let’s get quizzical…

Two short reviews for you today, a quiz book and a novel about a quiz. Being a quiz-fiend, I couldn’t resist either of them! The Rock & Roll A Level by David Hepworth I’ve a lot of time for David Hepworth, following him from Smash Hits to Q to Empire to Mojo to The Word Read More

Enough. by Dr Cassandra Coburn

‘How Your Food Choices Will Save the Planet’ The blog tour stops here today for a book that turned out to be not what I expected at all really. When offered Enough. (with a full stop.) for review, I didn’t really look beyond the upside-down cow on the cover. From that, I was expecting a 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

A dose of totally bonkers Russian SF from the Strugatsky brothers

Last year, a language missing from my reading in translation was Russian, and Karen picked me up on it 😀 when I published my annual stats. So, this year I’m making sure that doesn’t happen again by getting an early first read–it won’t be my last–of one of the Strugatsky brothers’ SF novels. I can Read More

A feminist fairytale by Sally Gardner

The Snow Song I’ve followed Sally Gardner’s writing career for a long time now, ever since she first started writing (and illustrating sometimes) books for younger children, my daughter adored her Fairy Shopping picture book. Next, she wrote a series of wonderful children’s novels, moving on to YA (I reviewed The Door That Led to Read More

Winterkill (Dark Iceland 6) by Ragnar Jónasson

Today, it’s my turn on the blog tour for Winterkill. Sometimes it’s good to come in at the end of a series of books. If you enjoy that final volume, it makes you want to go back and explore all the others. This was definitely the case with Icelandic police procedural Winterkill for me, although Read More

Review Round-Up – Tugwell, Mole & Hession

Three shorter reviews for you today of three very contrasting books – a psychological thriller, a lovely non-fiction book and a word-of-mouth gem of a novel. Dishonoured by Jem Tugwell Tugwell has written two spec fiction crime novels, but turns his hand to a psycho thriller for his third book. Dishonoured follows the rise and Read More

We are What We Watch? The Age of Static by Phil Harrison

I’ve found my TV consumption creeping back up a little during lockdown, but it’s nowhere near my peak viewing years which were probably from the 1990s into the 2000s (when kids’ programmes came back into the mix). As I started reading more and blogging, my watching declined, I even dropped Eastenders for a couple of Read More

More Book Spine Poetry

Last year in lockdown, I made several stacks of books to create some book spine poetry, having tried it previously here some years prior. My first lockdown one was a Paul Auster poem here, followed by a ‘lockdown special pair here. Doing some cleaning up of files on my computer, I discovered another one I Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Hamnet

My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in the titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month our starting point is Maggie O’Farrell’s Women’s Prize winning novel Hamnet, which is Read More

2021 Reading Plans

Firstly 2020 Reading Plans – How did I do? State of the TBR – I did actually read ten more books than 2019 from the TBR that I’d owned before 2020 began, but over the year I’ve added loads to it too. Blame it on lockdown browsing. However, I’ve decided that now I’m 60, I’m Read More

Review of the Year #3: Books of the Year!

These days, I’ve given up trying to limit my choices to an established number characteristic of best of lists, long or short. I’ve had a good year of quality reading, awarding 10/10 to no fewer than 26 books – so 20% of my reading approx. Those scores are only snapshots of course, and some books Read More

Review of the Year #1 – A Year of Reading and Blogging

I’m saving my books of the year for the 31st, but today I plan to share some other blogging highlights, discovered authors and the few disappointments of my reading year. Let’s go through the year first… JANUARY – was the beginning of The Japanese Literature Challenge 13 which carried on until March. I read The Read More

Three more Novellas for Nov, well Dec now

As I love novellas, I kept on reading them after the end of Novellas in November (hosted by by Cathy and Rebecca). So here are quick reviews of three more, all of which were superb: one each from Irish, French and Italian authors. Academy Street by Mary Costello Costello’s 2014 novella follows in the vein of Colm Tóibín’s Read More