Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (pbk)

Reviewed by Susan Osborne Emily Ruskovich’s Idaho is an impressive debut, both in its writing and its treatment of a difficult subject: the murder of a young child in the most shocking of circumstances. It comes garlanded with praise from the likes of Andrea Barrett, Chinelo Okparanta and Claire Fuller, all thoroughly deserved. One hot…

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Reviewed by Annabel Joanna Cannon’s first novel, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep was a huge bestseller; I’ve not read it, but I will after having read her second, Three Things About Elsie. TTWG&S was a mystery with young protagonists who turn detective to find out what happened to a neighbour who has gone missing.…

The World Broke in Two by Sam Goldstein

Reviewed by Harriet This enthralling multiple biography is subtitled ‘Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster, and the year that changed literature’. The year is 1922, and the claim is a large one which can only be fully substantiated by referring to writers who are not major players here: in that year, James Joyce…

Rainsongs by Sue Hubbard

Reviewed by Jean Morris Rainsongs will take you to remote vistas in the west of Ireland. It’s a lovely, vividly transporting novel. Apart from the wind and waves, it’s completely quiet. The sea dark as tar and the white crests rolling into the far distance like streaks of light on a negative. This is the…

The Lion and the Unicorn by George Orwell

Reviewed by Karen Langley Although George Orwell’s name resonates most strongly with us nowadays because of his great novels – in particular Nineteen Eighty Four, which seems to become more relevant every day – it shouldn’t be forgotten that he was a superb essayist. There is even a prize in his name for political writing,…

Peach by Emma Glass

Reviewed by Lucy Unwin There are moments when Peach is stunningly realistic; the raw sensations capture a pure essence of trauma. But this is far from a realistic book. To read and enjoy it you need to be prepared to embrace the bizarre, the surreal and the downright ridiculous. It’s a book of impressions, and…

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

Reviewed by Harriet I have certain reservations about novels in which the central character is someone who really existed. Sometimes it works really well, as for example in the case of Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea, or the Josephine Tey novels of Nicola Upson. Other times, though I won’t name names, I’ve been a bit…

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Reviewed by Gill Davies Following on from her highly-acclaimed first novel, The Dry, Jane Harper has written a second gripping story featuring the harsh Australian outback and a detective called Aaron Falk. Both novels have a powerful, often disturbing, sense of place; and both take us beyond the generic boundaries of crime fiction to think…

Edith and Oliver by Michelle Forbes (pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel Somehow, I managed to miss Belfast author Forbes’s debut, Ghost Moth, set during the early years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which received excellent reviews. Having now read and very much enjoyed her second novel, I should remedy that and search out a copy. For Edith and Oliver, Forbes has moved back…

Interview with Rosamund Bartlett about Dostoyevsky and “The Russian Soul”

Interview by Karen Langley Karen: Rosamund, thank you for agreeing to an interview with Shiny New Books! You have a distinguished career as a translator, and also as the author of a number of works focusing on Russian authors and literature. You contributed a very thoughtful piece on Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina to issue 3 of Shiny…

The Russian Soul: Selections from A Writer’s Diary by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Introduced by Rosamund Bartlett Translated by Kenneth Lantz / Olga Shartse Reviewed by Karen Langley Notting Hill Editions will probably need no introduction to readers of Shiny New Books. The publisher specialises in producing beautiful little cloth covered volumes of essays, with hardback covers, thick quality paper and bookmarks – and the contents are always…

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…

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Reviewed by Basil Ransome Davies    This novel borrows its title from Fritz Lang’s canonical film noir (which is also a teasing, ironic comedy of the repressed returning) and Finn’s first-person narrator, Dr Anna Fox, is a woman with a camera looking out of her window into her neighbour’s. A voyeuse, in short, as if…