Sanctuary by Luca D’Andrea

Translated from the Italian by Howard Curtis and Katherine Gregor Review by Basil Ransome-Davies, 5 September 2019 Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ‘em/And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum. Organised crime is an institution, and like almost all major institutions   – banks, for example – it is…

The Remarkable Life of the Skin by Monty Lyman

Review by Simon Thomas, 5 Sept 2019 The number of science books I’ve read can be numbered on my fingers, and the number of science books I’ve read that weren’t written by Oliver Sacks is nil. Until now! Full disclosure, Monty Lyman is a friend of mine – and that was why I picked up The Remarkable Life…

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Review by Annabel, 3 September 2019 Those who’ve visited Shiny New Books before may know of my passion for the novels of Becky Chambers, one of the most distinctive new voices in Science Fiction. In her ‘Wayfarers’ series, she has created a unique milieu, which shows a broadly optimistic view of the future. Humankind has…

Beastings by Benjamin Myers (pbk.)

Review by Kim Forrester, 3 September 2019 Stories told in strong, distinctive voices using sparse, pared-back prose don’t come much better than Benjamin Myers’ Beastings, which has just been reissued by Bloomsbury. Originally published in 2014, this simple tale is essentially a chase novel in which a priest enlists the help of a poacher to pursue a…

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (pbk.)

Review by Jane Carter, 29 August 2019 I fell in love with Diane Setterfield’s first book, I was disappointed by her second; but when I saw the title of this third novel I thought that everything would be alright and as soon as I started to read I was quite certain that it would. Imagine…

Shiny Flash Fiction!

We have a little treat for you today. Our Shiny Editor at Large, Simon, occasionally writes pieces of flash fiction, which he has published on his own blog. He kindly agreed for Shiny to share them with our readers too. Here is the first in what we hope will be an occasional series. Oranges by…

Belfast Stories, edited by Paul McVeigh & Lisa Frank

Review by Laura Marriott, 27 August 2019 In Donegall Square, in the centre of Belfast, Lisa is working in the Welcome Centre. Tourists flock in searching for Game of Thrones sites and she spends her days dolling out information about the city and giving tours to VIPs. In a job that involves greeting visitors to…

The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun by Sébastien Japrisot

Translated by Helen Weaver Review by Annabel, 22 August 2019 I had never heard of Sébastien Japrisot before reading this book, and wasn’t surprised to discover that he has been nicknamed ‘The Graham Greene of France.’ Japrisot, who died in 2003, was an author, screenwriter and director, which didn’t surprise me, for from the start…

Flames by Robbie Arnott (pbk)

Review by Susan Osborne, 22 August 2019 Tasmanian writer Robbie Arnott’s Flames is not an easy book to write about. It’s quite some way out of my usual literary territory, steeped as it is in fantasy and folklore. Arnott’s debut begins with the reappearance of Edith McAllister, two days dead. The McAllister women have a…

Anna of Kleve – Queen of Secrets by Alison Weir

Review by Julie Barham, 20 August 2019 It is well known that Henry VIII had six wives – and none more mysterious than the one that he married virtually unseen, and parted from almost immediately. Alison Weir’s wonderful series of biographies of these women, queens, continues with the story of Anna, usually known as Anne…

Scrublands by Chris Hammer (pbk)

Review by Kim Forrester, 20 August 2019 Fans of Jane Harper’s The Dry will love this debut crime novel by Chris Hammer. As well as a similar setting — a drought-stricken country town in Australia —Scrublands is similarly fast paced, full of unexpected twists and turns, and an ending you won’t see coming. But the tale is more complex…

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Review by Harriet, 15 August 2019 Having been blown away by Colson Whitehead’s 2016 prizewinning novel The Underground Railroad, (reviewed here by another of our team), I was delighted to see that this new work was due out this summer. Delighted but also a bit apprehensive – could it possibly measure up to the brilliance…

One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan

Translated from the Tamil by Aniruddhan Vasudevan Review by Anna Hollingsworth, 15 August 2019 An author hardly tops any lists of most hazardous jobs, but looking at the whirlwind that Perumal Murugan has endured, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking so. When One part woman was published in Tamil in 2015, the local Kongu Vellala…

Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places by Julian Hoffman

Review by Rebecca Foster, 13 August 2019 More so than ever, I’m convinced that the purpose of literature is to educate us about the most pressing issues that we face as a species. Whiling away a few hours? Having a laugh? Being transported to a magical setting long ago or halfway around the world? Such…

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Review by Basil Ransome-Davies, 13 August 2019 I’m no great fan of fiction written exclusively in the present tense, for all its reputed ‘immediacy’; I generally fancy novels with a past. But that’s not to say it can never work. I more than once laid aside The Chain to do something else, only to be…

The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds by Stephen Rutt

Review by Liz Dexter, 8 Aug 2019 This charming and perceptive book opens with a gut-wrenching account of taking off in a very small plane from Kirkwall in Orkney, travelling to North Ronaldsay. But how has the author got to this point? Well, he got into birdwatching through his father seeing his first Cetti’s warbler:…

The Perfect Wife by J P Delaney

Review by Annabel, 8 August 2019 I recently read J P Delaney’s first psychological thriller, The Girl Before, (which Harriet reviewed here) in advance of a crime panel event he was speaking at. The event was excellent and JP was fascinating to listen to talking about his second novel Believe Me, which was inspired by…

Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson

Review by Anna Hollingsworth, 6 August 2019 If Dr Frankenstein’s creation took the form of a book, Frankissstein is what I imagine it would look like. There’s a transgender doctor harvesting body parts for a rogue researcher, there’s a Welsh sexbot investor, and there’s Mary Shelley making love and writing her way across Europe with…

Putney by Sofka Zinovieff (pbk)

Review by Susan Osborne, 6 August 2019 Sofka Zinovieff’s Putney is a subtle novel which explores the fallout of sexual abuse all wrapped up in an engrossing piece of storytelling, accessible enough to offer an absorbing, intelligent summer read. When young composer Ralph visits the Putney home of a successful novelist keen to see his…

Necropolis by Vladislav Khodasevich

Translated by Sarah Vitali Review by Karen Langley, 1 Aug 2019 The Russian Library series from Columbia University Press has thrown up some marvellous treasures of literature from Russia, several of which I’ve previously covered here on Shiny New Books (here, here and here). However, they’ve outdone themselves with this recent release, a marvellous literary…

A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio

Translated by Ann Goldstein Review by Gill Davies, 30 July 2019 It is 1975, somewhere in the south of Italy. A thirteen year old girl drags a suitcase and a bag of shoes up the stairs of a tenement building in an unknown town. She is about to meet  – and live with – people…

This Really Isn’t About You by Jean Hannah Edelstein (pbk)

Reviewed by Max Dunbar There’s a common British anecdote that goes: ‘We had some American friends here on holiday, and on the third day they drove to Stonehenge!’ The idea behind it is that because the UK is a small island, even driving to the next village seems like an epic poem. But Americans grow…

Big Sky by Kate Atkinson

Reviewed by Harriet He wished that he could just once hear his sister play a solo again. Or help his sister pin up the hem on a dress she’d made. Or have a goodnight peck on the cheek from his mother – the most intimacy she could manage. They were not a family who touched.…