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…

Girl with Dove by Sally Bayley

Review by Harriet If you’ve read Annabel’s account of the Golden Booker presentation, you’ll have noticed that one of the judges, Lemn Sissay, urged the audience to read this book. This made me feel slightly smug, as I’d already read it, but also made me think about the fact that the book has somewhat divided…

Room to Dream by Kristine McKenna and David Lynch

Reviewed by Harriet David Lynch’s films are certainly not for everybody. Almost all of them are strange, dark, and increasingly hard to pin down to a plot summary, let alone an interpretation. But they have a huge number of avid admirers. They have won many prizes, including the Palme d’Or for Wild at Heart; and…

Sacred Britannia by Miranda Aldhouse-Green

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Miranda Aldhouse-Green is a specialist in Romano-British studies and Iron Age archaeology and has written other books on myth and religion in this period, so you know you’re in safe hands as she draws together a wealth of information from archaeological finds dating from the 18th century to 2015 in this…

The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah: The Autobiography

Reviewed by Liz Dexter “I hate autobiographies. They’re so fake”. That’s an astounding opening sentence but one that doesn’t really surprise, given that it’s written by a man who’s spent his life so far pushing against fakeness and politics, ploughing his own furrow, choosing to do things before he even knows the name for them…

White King: The Tragedy of Charles I by Leanda de Lisle

Reviewed by Julie Barham This is a book that in many ways reads like a novel. That said, it is also a non- fiction history book, well presented with at least some of the hallmarks of a scholarly book: extensive notes on the chapters with bibliographic details and full index. As with her previous book…

The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder

Reviewed by Max Dunbar Why Everything Old Is New Again If I had to recommend a historian on the twentieth century terrors to someone who was coming new to it, I would probably choose Timothy Snyder. His Bloodlands is a masterful study of how the Nazis and Communists half destroyed Europe. The follow up, Black Earth, was derided on…

Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston

Reviewed by Harriet This little treasure of a book tells the story, in his own words, of the last survivor of the last, illegal, cargo of enslaved Africans to be brought for sale in America. The horrors of slavery have been highlighted in literature and film before, but this account is unique in its freshness…

Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by Annabel Gaskell Good popular science books don’t come along that often, and when they do, they’re inevitably about four topics it seems: quantum physics, space, genetics or the periodic table.  Hooray for one that’s…

From the Archives: Four Sisters by Helen Rappaport

The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses  One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by Harriet Devine On 17 July 1918, four young women walked down twenty-three steps into the cellar of a house in Ekaterinburg. The eldest was twenty-two, the…

From the Archives: Bedsit Disco Queen by Tracey Thorn

One of a series of reviews republished from the Shiny Archive of Issue 1 to celebrate our 4th birthday Reviewed by Annabel Gaskell I wish Tracey Thorn was my cousin, sister even. I can say that – for we share not only a maiden name, but a love of David Cassidy, a fascination with Morrissey,…

Souvenir by Rolf Potts

Reviewed by Liz Dexter This book is part of the Object Lessons series, which exists to highlight the hidden lives of ordinary things. This one is about travel souvenirs brought home by fairly standard people; other volumes consider, for example, rust, dust, traffic and luggage. If they’re anything like Souvenir, they’re a series to rush…

Rex V. Edith Thompson: A Tale of Two Murders by Laura Thompson

Reviewed by Karen Langley The Thompson-Bywaters murder case (also known as “The Ilford Murder”) is notorious, but I think most of my previous knowledge of it comes from two sources: F. Tennyson Jesse’s magisterial fictional reworking of the story in A Pin to see the Peepshow; and reading about his journalistic dealings with the case…

Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life by Rose Tremain

Reviewed by Harriet I’m a huge admirer of Rose Tremain’s brilliant novels, and very fond of childhood memoirs as a genre, so this one was a must for me. It’s the story of growing up in a world that might seem comfortable and privileged, but one with many uncomfortable spikes under its apparently smooth surface.…

The Vintage Shetland Project by Susan Crawford 

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton The Vintage Shetland Project has had quite a journey into print, one that I’ve followed with interest for the last 3 years from when I first heard about it and subscribed to the crowd funding campaign to get it published. It was 2015, I’d finally given in to the idea of…