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

Review Catch-Up – McBain, Berthon, Ishiguro

Driving Lessons by Ed McBain McBain is most famous for his many 57th Precinct novels, but he has written many other books too. This slim book from 1999 was part of a series of novellas from Orion called Criminal Records. Some were published separately, the others anthologised in one volume edited by Otto Penzler. A Read More

Review catch-up!

I’ve rather a large pile of unreviewed books I read in 2017 to catch up on, so today I have some shorter reviews for you… When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi I love medical memoirs, especially surgeon’s tales, but occasionally a book will come along that will knock you sideways. When Breath Becomes Air 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

Review catch-up

I am still behind on my reviewing, even though I seem to have unlocked my reviewer’s block – so today, I have a trio of short reviews for you… The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick This is a rare case for me of having seen the film before I read the book. I loved Read More

Let the children play…

Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba Translated by Lisa Dillman I had forgotten that it was Spanish Literature Month, but just in time a new arrival has allowed me to take part. This novella, by young Spanish author Barba (right), is  published on Aug 3. He is one of Granta’s Best of Young Spanish novelists, Read More

In Short – some capsule reviews

A pair of shorter reviews for you today – both books are short and begin with G. That’s where their similarity ends though, they couldn’t be further apart in their style! Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter This prize-winning book from 2015 is hard to categorise, other than short – it’s as Read More

4 Stories, 13 views…

Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann My first encounter with McCann, this volume contains some of his shorter fiction: a full novella and three short stories of varying lengths. The titular novella has thirteen short chapters, each prefaced by lines from a poem about a blackbird that inspired the title (Thirteen Ways of Looking Read More

Catch-up – two shorter reviews

My pile of books read but not reviewed yet is taller than I like, so here are two shorter reviews to catch up a little. Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson Only Hutchinson’s second novel, but you can tell the author has been writing other stuff for ages. Europe in Autumn, published in 2014, is the Read More

Shopgirl – Film & Book

Shopgirl by Steve Martin I adore Steve Martin’s writing – see my review of his tremendous memoir Born Standing Up here, and his 2010 novel An Object of Beauty at my old blog here. I finally got around to reading his first fictional publication Shopgirl, a few weeks ago, and yesterday I watched the film, Read More