My Life, Our Times by Gordon Brown

Reviewed by Liz Dexter It’s the book everyone’s been waiting for that fills in the gaps left by Tony Blair’s autobiography and the various books on the financial crisis, the 2010 election and the fortunes of Labour. If you’re looking for a quick and easy read, this, to be fair, isn’t it: if you’re looking…

Science Fiction: A Literary History edited by Roger Luckhurst

Reviewed by Annabel Once upon a time SF was a subculture haunted by small populations of nerds and geeks. Star Wars (1977) changed that, … SF author Adam Roberts says this in his preface to the British Library’s volume of essays surveying the rich literary history of science fiction. He’s right – in a way…

Unaccompanied Minor by Alexander Newley

Reviewed by Annabel The children of celebrity couples inevitably have a hard time growing up, especially when their parents split. You need only think of the late Carrie Fisher, daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher as a prime example. Carrie was later canny and secure enough in her writing and performing – and her…

Eastern Horizons: Hitchhiking the Silk Road by Levison Wood

Reviewed by Liz Dexter It’s worth noting from the off that this is not a ‘new’ travel book by the popular explorer, but a revisiting of a journey he made in his early 20s, in the early part of this century. He hadn’t published on it before and apparently enjoyed revisiting his notebooks; it also…

Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann

Reviewed by Harriet Most people probably think that the presence of black people in Britain began with the large influx of nearly 500 who came over from Jamaica in 1948 on the MV Empire Windrush. Before that, we may have a vague idea that the relatively small number of black people who appear in 18th century…

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

Reviewed by Annabel While I can’t claim to read anywhere near the volume of old and newly reprinted novels that some of my Shiny colleagues do – perennially falling for the latest novels by the latest literary darlings – I do love browsing in second-hand bookshops and I will always make a beeline for a…

AN ODYSSEY: A FATHER, A SON AND AN EPIC By DANIEL MENDELSOHN

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster Daniel Mendelsohn chairs the Humanities department at Bard College, where he was previously a Classics professor. He is the author of seven earlier books, ranging from literary criticism and translations of Cavafy to essay collections. With An Odyssey: A Father, a Son and an Epic, which was shortlisted for the 2017…

Icebreaker by Horatio Clare

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Horatio Clare, who is quite an accomplished nature and travel writer, having a book on container ships and several on birds to his name, takes a journey to the far North, going out with an icebreaker ship for a working trip in the Bay of Bothnia, setting off from Finland and…

1919 Between the Wars 1939  by  Philip Ziegler

Reviewed by Terence Jagger   So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years – Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres   T S Eliot, Four Quartets: East Coker This book covers a period which for me – as for the author himself – is relatively unknown, coming…

Women and Power by Mary Beard

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Mary Beard is described as being ‘Britain’s best–known classicist’ on the inside front flap of this book. She’s also known for having experienced her unfair share of vileness and opprobrium from internet trolls seeking to silence her both for being an expert and, in particular, for having views on gender-related issues.…

Nightshade Upon Magic: Craig Brown’s Ma’am Darling

Reviewed by Max Dunbar The online OED defines starstruck as ‘Fascinated or greatly impressed by famous people, especially those connected with the cinema or the theatre.’ There are variations – in the HBO Western Deadwood, hardass bar-keep Al Swearengen uses an expression ‘c***struck’ to describe, I think, a man lost in love or lust. A…

A Round-Up of Christmas Cookbooks

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton Christmas is coming and it’s time to start talking about it. The books vying for our money, and a top ten spot, have been released – 505 of them on the 5th of October (super Thursday) alone, a good few more either side of that. The race is on. There are…

The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris

Reviewed by Peter Reason When our postman handed me the package that contained my review copy of The Lost Words I blurted out, ‘I’ve been waiting for this!’ In the weeks before its delivery I had read hugely appreciative reviews in the national press and on line. The book has benefited from a major marketing…

Shaun Greenhalgh Forgers tale

A Forger’s Tale by Shaun Greenhalgh

Reviewed by Harriet The subtitle of this fascinating book is ‘Confessions of the Bolton Forger’. Does that ring any bells? If you were keeping half an eye on the news ten or so years ago, you could not have missed the story, which exploded all over the media. A quiet, pleasant-seeming man in his mid-forties…

Heirloom Knitting- Sharon Miller

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton Sharon Miller’s ‘Heirloom Knitting: A Shetland Lace Pattern Book’ had become almost a book of legend before this reprint made it readily available again (or still least it cost more than I could justify to buy a second hand copy, even though I really wanted to get my hands on it),…

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

Reviewed by Annabel I love reading medical memoirs; we’ve featured neurosurgeon Henry Marsh’s two volumes here at Shiny, and heart surgeon Stephen Westaby’s book Fragile Lives was a great read for me earlier this year. These books were written by surgeons who’ve reached the zenith of their careers. The chapters within concentrate on particular operations,…

The Cocktail Book

Reviewed by Hayley Anderton My day job is selling wine, spirits, and beer, something I fell into when I became interested in learning more about wine. That was eighteen years ago, and I’m still only scratching the surface. One of the things that keeps the job interesting is the way that changing tastes constantly lead…