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

#NovNov – Review round-up – 4 more novellas/short NF

I had a great month (plus a few days at the end of October) fitting in as many novellas as I could alongside other reading for #SciFiMonth and general for Novellas in November hosted by Rebecca at Bookish Beck and Cathy at 746 Books. I’m left with several yet to review – two short NF reads, and Read More

#NovNov – some classic novellas from my archives

The final week of Novellas in November (hosted by Bookish Beck and Cathy at 746 Books) turns its attention to classics (incl modern classics – pre 1980) and once more I’ve scoured my archives to find a selection to highlight from a few years ago for you. As in previous weeks, I’ve managed to combine with other tags Read More

Two French novellas for #NovNov

Week three of ‘Novellas in November’ hosted by Bookish Beck and Cathy at 746 Books is all about books in translation. I’ve talked about a Danish SF one and two German novellas in previous posts. Now it’s time to turn to novellas written in French – which means an excuse to include the next Maigret from my Read More

#NovNov – Translated fiction novellas from the archives

Week 3 of Novellas in November month (hosted by Bookish Beck and Cathy at 746 Books) turns its attention to translated books. If I get my act together, I’ll have read 2 French, 2 German and 2 Danish novellas and might even get some reviews posted. But until then, here’s a selection of translated novellas from my Read More

Two SF Novellas for #NovNov #SciFiMonth

Another opportunity to tick two boxes with one blog post. This time two superb novellas for Novellas in November and both SF for Sci Fi Month. The Employees: A Workplace novel of the 22nd Century by Olga Ravn Translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken This is the most unconventionally structured book I’ve read this Read More

Muriel Barbery’s Cats’ Eye-View #NovNov

The Writer’s Cats by Muriel Barbery, illustrated by Maria Guitart Translated by Alison Anderson For a cat-lover there’s always room for a good cat book at Christmas, and this lovely one from the pen of Muriel Barbery, author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and this year’s A Single Rose (which is in the running Read More

#NovNov – Short Non-fiction from the archives

I’ve read six novellas to write up for Novellas in November month (hosted by Bookish Beck and Cathy at 746 Books) – must get a move on! Meanwhile in week 2, we turn our attention to Short Non-Fiction, a better term than novella for NF. Once more, here is a section of posts from my archives of 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

Two more indies in translation: Yuri Herrera and Kristina Carlson

This year, I’m going for it as far as reading from my own shelves is concerned, continuing to read more from small presses, and more in translation. Of the latter, that’s 13/30 books read so far – ten languages from twelve countries. I’m pleased with that. If I can add more books from Africa into 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

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

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

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

Nicola Barker is a bloody genius!

I am Sovereign by Nicola Barker I have a big pile of books read to be reviewed, yet the moment I finished this novella in bed this morning I had to write about it! (Let’s hope it gets my reviewing mojo back on track). I’d hoped to read it during Novellas in November hosted by Cathy and Rebecca, Read More

Novellas in November – Simenon, Greg & Moss

Today I have what I hope is a first batch of three novella reviews for you, celebrating Novellas in November hosted by Cathy and Rebecca.  The Shadow Puppet by Georges Simenon Translated by Ros Schwartz In a push to get reading through Simenon’s 75 Maigret novels a little more speedily, I’m using all the tags (Paris in July, Read More

October Wrap-up and November Plans

Feels like I’m behind on everything this month – too many distractions! I only read nine books above, of which I’ve only managed to write reviews for two! While there were no duds in that pile at all, I’m finding it hard to decide what to say about the others, and you know me – Read More

Reading Wales & Ireland

One each for the Wales Readathon hosted by Paula and Reading Ireland Month hosted by Cathy today. The Dig by Cynan Jones This novella has sat on my shelves for a few years. I meant to read it for last year’s #Dewithon but ran out of time, so it was my first choice for Welsh Read More

More Novellas in November

I’m doing well with the various November tags and I’m currently reading a German crime novel for German Literature Month. There are a couple more tags and awards to join in reading for too if I can manage it – Margaret Atwood Reading Month and the Sunday Times Young Writer Award coming up in early Read More

Non-Fiction Novellas in November

Combining two reading tags into one, today I have a couple of contrasting non-fiction short reads for you… Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay Destined to be in thousands of Christmas stockings, this is a bijou helping of more stories in diary form from the author of This is Going to Hurt (reviewed Read More

Novellas in November: Two French ones

Novellas in November is hosted by Laura at Reading in Bed.  I really enjoyed taking part last year, here is the first of what I hope will be several posts this month, this time on two French novellas in translation. Lie With Me by Philippe Besson Translated by Molly Ringwald Before I tell you about the book, yes, it is translated by Read More

Nemirovsky for the 1930 Club

It’s the latest decade reading club hosted by Simon and Karen.    We’re heading back to 1930 this time – a year that doesn’t feature much on my shelves. I have already read and reviewed two prominent books of that year (click on the titles to go to my reviews): Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh and Read More

A perfectly-formed novella

West by Carys Davies West was shortlisted for this year’s Rathbones Folio Prize, and I’m so glad it was, so that when I spotted the new paperback in my local bookshop I bought a copy. In a mere 149 pages, Davies has written a story of epic scale. It’s just superb! Let me tell you Read More

Review Catch-up: Heller, Murakami & Levy

Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller I recently re-read this for Book Group, and was reminded by what a fine novel it is. The affair between a naive art teacher and a fifteen-year-old pupil is a tough subject, given that Heller makes her protagonist quite sympathetic in a way, but the real villain of Read More

Novellas in November – Part 3

Although my normal reading contains a fair smattering of novellas anyway, I’ve loved concentrating on reading novellas this November – here’s my third and final selection for this month: Poor Cow by Nell Dunn Published in 1967, Dunn’s novella is a ‘classic of 1960s London life’ and was her second work of fiction after her Read More

Novellas in November – Part 2

Running Wild by J.G. Ballard This beautifully crafted novella published in 1988 concerns one of Ballard’s favourite themes – life in a community that walls itself away from the rest of the world. It is set in an exclusive housing estate of just ten houses, each on a large plot. The estate is gated, has Read More

Novellas in November Part 1

This year I’m joining in with Novellas in November, a long-running tag now sort of shepherded by Laura at Reading in Bed.  I absolutely love novellas, that extra length over a short story, of say up to 150 pages, gives space for development of plot and characters, but still requires the author to move things 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

#ReadingMuriel2018 and the strangest little book!

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark What a strange novella this book is! It’s far from my favourite Spark, but it is possibly the most fascinating. This is because commentators have suggested that it is Spark’s response to the Watergate scandal of 1972 which led to Nixon’s impeachment in August 1974. The story opens Read More