Gloucester Crescent by William Miller (pbk)

Review by Annabel, 15 October 2019 Nestled between Primrose Hill and Camden Town in NW1, it’s hard to believe that Gloucester Crescent (and Regents Park Terrace which joins its ends) was ever considered slightly shabby: you’ll know the road if you saw the film The Lady in the Van. When you look at today’s house…

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy

Review by Annabel, 24 September 2019 Levy came to the forefront of our attention when her 2011 novel Swimming Home was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, something she’d repeat with her 2016 offering Hot Milk (reviewed here). Neither went on to win the prize, but her reputation as a writer of slim, poetic and…

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…

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…

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…

Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain

Translated by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce Reviewed by Annabel Since I discovered the feelgood novels by French author Antoine Laurain, brought to us in translation by Gallic Books, I’ve seized upon each new release upon publication. Vintage 1954 is his seventh, his first new work since French Rhapsody, which I reviewed for Shiny here,…

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller (pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel I’ve followed Fuller’s writing career since her marvellous debut, Our Endless Numbered Days, through her second totally different novel Swimming Lessons (reviewed here and here). Her third novel is different again. On first glance, it appears to be a country house mystery, however, to classify it as such would be to do…

Five Fascinating Facts About… Daphne du Maurier

Compiled by Annabel Ali at her blog, Heavenali, is hosting Daphne du Maurier reading week from May 13-19, so we’re joining in. One:  Jamaica Inn, the setting for her famous novel of 1936, sits high on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. It was built in 1750 as a coaching inn and was a stopping-off place for…

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Reviewed by Annabel There was a lot of pre-publishing buzz about Daisy Jones and The Six – it was instantly signed up by Amazon for a TV series with Reese Witherspoon producing. But, in this case, there was no need to worry about the book not being worth the hype, for this book is a…

Adèle by Leïla Slimani

Translated by Sam Taylor Reviewed by Annabel Slimani’s first novel to be translated into English, Lullaby, took the English-speaking publishing world by storm. It was a literary thriller telling the story of a murderous nanny and what made her that way, (reviewed by Harriet here). It was the must-read book at the time, an instant…

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Reviewed by Annabel For some, this debut novel was a surprise inclusion on the longlist for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction this year – for a start, it’s a dark comedy, and comedy rarely features in prize longlists. I, however, was delighted to see it there, for it does have a heart and is…

Graceland by Bethan Roberts

Reviewed by Annabel When I saw that Bethan Roberts’s new book had Elvis on the cover, I was instantly intrigued. Having followed Bethan’s career for some years, (she hails from the town where I live), I wondered what Graceland would be about. Her last novel, Mother Island (reviewed here with Q&A here) was a tale…

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…