With the End in Mind by Kathryn Mannix (pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize in 2018 this book, which is full of wisdom and compassion, was one of the highlights of a strong shortlist. Although it didn’t win, this is a book that everyone would benefit from reading – it helped me a lot. Kathryn Mannix is a pioneering doctor,…

Slow Motion Ghosts by Jeff Noon

Reviewed by Annabel I first discovered Jeff Noon’s weird take on our world when his debut novel Vurt was picked up by a major publisher after being an indie original that went on to win the Arthur C Clarke Award in 1994. In Vurt, its sequel Pollen, prequel Nymphomation, and Automated Alice which shares some…

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Reviewed by Annabel I’ll say it up front, Jane Harper’s third novel, The Lost Man, was totally unputdownable! Not having read her first two, The Dry and Force of Nature (which Gill reviewed for Shiny here), I will have to return to them and catch up. They featured a Melbourne detective, Aaron Falk, but The Lost…

Middle England by Jonathan Coe

Reviewed by Annabel By the time I’d finished reading Coe’s latest novel, it was about a fortnight after publication and by this time he (and his publisher Penguin Viking) could claim a big publicity success. There had been spreads about the book and Coe in all the broadsheet arts pages, reviews in the latest issues…

Where Shall We Run To? by Alan Garner

Reviewed by Annabel. I’ve been a fan of Alan Garner’s novels ever since my childhood when I first encountered The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and its sequel The Moon of Gomrath in the 1960s. I can think of few books that are imbued with such a sense of place as that pair, being set at Alderley…

Eye of the Shoal by Helen Scales

Reviewed by Annabel In her third book, Helen Scales tuns her attention to another branch of the marine tree of life. She began with the small genus of seahorses in Poseidon’s Steed; her second book, Spirals in Time (reviewed here), described the large and varied world of seashells and molluscs – the second largest phylum…

Two debut novels from Salt

Reviewed by Annabel Salt Publishing, based in Cromer, Norfolk hit the headlines earlier this year In May. They were in danger of folding, and urged readers in a Twitter campaign to buy #JustOneBook via their online shop or indie book stores to keep them from going under. It worked, raising over £16,000 from 1700 orders and…

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Reviewed by Annabel Having been Man Booker shortlisted in 2011 for her debut novel, Half Blood Blues, set in Berlin during WWII and fifty years later, Edugyan’s second novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, about the immigrant experience in 1960s Canada seemed to disappear without trace. But for her third, she is back on…

Liquid by Mark Miodownik

Reviewed by Annabel In his 2013 book Stuff Matters which I reviewed for Shiny here, materials science professor Miodownik took us on a tour around some of the most important man-made materials that have shaped our lives: from steel to chocolate via paper and concrete – all featuring in a picture of the author reading…

Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale

Reviewed by Annabel I took this novel on holiday to Somerset with me. We were renting a barn in one of the villages next door to Weston-Super-Mare, where Eustace, the protagonist of Patrick Gale’s new novel grows up. However, we only went into WSM the once: the tide was way out, exposing the estuarine mud…

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

Reviewed by Annabel Becky Chambers’ third novel is set in the same galactic milieu as her first two. It can be read as a standalone and marks her out as a shining star in the latest generation of space opera writers. In her marvellous debut, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, we travelled…

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas

Reviewed by Annabel The first thing you need to do with this sparkling debut novel is to suspend your disbelief. Just accept that time travel was invented by a quartet of four women in 1967 and run with it. That done, you can sit back and enjoy this complex story which incorporates a clever murder…

To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine

Reviewed by Annabel When punk happened, although I was the right age – in my later teens – I’d already diverted off into prog rock, (I know!). So, I never consciously listened to the Slits, but I was aware of a girl punk group who hung out with the Sex Pistols. Now, decades later, such…

Release by Patrick Ness (YA, pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel These days, I read fewer YA and children’s books, but Patrick Ness is one of those authors I will always look out for. His YA novels, and this one verges onto adult territory anyway, make true crossover reads that adults will enjoy too. Only the fact that I’d never read Mrs Dalloway blinded me…

He by John Connolly (pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel When I first started reading this book, I hadn’t appreciated it was by ‘John’ Connolly of the Charlie Parker crime novels, I mis-read the author’s forename, thinking it was ‘Joseph’ Connolly. That was an easy mistake to make, for this marvellous book by John Connolly would more naturally fit with the previous…

Star of the North by D B John

Reviewed by Annabel Very few westerners get to visit North Korea, and DB John is one of them – he’s seen the public face of this secretive place from the inside, although he acknowledges that his visit ‘barely scratched the surface’. Now he’s written a thriller about the country and his timing couldn’t be better…

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima

Translated by Geraldine Harcourt Reviewed by Annabel This latest addition to Penguin Classic’s expanding list of new translations in an upmarket paperback format is a beguiling novella following the story of a young mother and her young daughter after she has separated from her husband. It was originally published during the late 1970s in installments…