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…

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel Amor Towles’ debut novel Rules of Civility was one of the best books I read in 2011. Although Towles graduated in English back in the late 1980s, he worked as an investment professional for over twenty years before publishing that first novel, a dazzling portrait of life in Manhattan before WWII in…

Artemis by Andy Weir

Reviewed by Annabel Those who read Weir’s debut novel, The Martian (which Dan reviewed for us here), tended to fall into two camps. As SF novels go, it was funny, cheesy and geeky, and despite having one helluva plot, didn’t take itself too seriously, which made it a Marmite book for many. I was one…

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,…

Ornithology by Nicholas Royle

Reviewed by Annabel Earlier this year, I reviewed the novel An English Guide to Birdwatching by an author named Nicholas Royle, and I interviewed its author too here. Ornithology is not by the same Nicholas Royle – you need to know that. In fact, as the other Nicholas Royle told me, the two authors have…

Pan Books at 70: The SF Edit

Reviewed by Annabel Pan, founded in 1944, published its first mass market paperback in 1947 – Ten Stories by Rudyard Kipling with the famous Pan logo designed by Mervyn Peake and distinctive covers. Now they are 70 years old and Pan have published new editions of twenty of their most celebrated paperbacks with wonderful new…

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

Reviewed by Annabel Natasha Pulley’s debut novel, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (which I reviewed here in 2015), was a wonderful discovery. A period thriller with hints of steampunk fantasy, and a matching beautiful cover design complete with cutout watch dial, it became an instant favourite of the year. Now Bloomsbury have done it again,…

Back to School and Off to College – a Literary Quiz

Compiled by Annabel As we begin the new academic year, what better time to test your knowledge of campus and school novels. We hope you find some old friends among the questions, but there are some trickier ones to test you too. I make no apologies for the short Harry Potter section at the end…

The Pitards by Georges Simenon

Translated by David Bellos Reviewed by Annabel By 1934, Georges Simenon had published the first 19 Maigret books, and he temporarily shelved the series, resuming ten years later. He went travelling around the world but didn’t stop writing, trying out a different form. These standalone books would come to be known as his romans durs…

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Reviewed by Annabel   This certainly is the year for novels about popular music, particularly on vinyl, and also the power of picking just the right song. Of those I’ve come across, there is Magnus Mills’ droll and geeky The Forensic Record Society, Laura Barnett’s soundtrack of a life in Greatest Hits and the first…

The Bestseller Code by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jocker

Reviewed by Annabel Imagine that you train a computer to read and analyse books, input a mix of hundreds and ask it to predict which books are most likely to be bestsellers, and amongst the results, it gives one book a 100% score. Well in essence, that’s what this book is about and, no, I’m…

The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes

Reviewed by Annabel Natalie Haynes may be most familiar to you as a journalist and broadcaster, popping up on various shows and with her own series Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics on BBC Radio 4, which takes an irreverent look at ancient Greek and Roman life. Her first novel, The Amber Fury, (published…

Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello

Translated by Alex Valente Reviewed by Annabel Can you hear me? is no ordinary psychological thriller – to pigeonhole it into that sub-genre would be to ignore large parts of this atmospheric and intense novel. Alongside the central mystery is a coming of age story and the two themes mesh together seamlessly. It is also…

Questions for Louise Welsh about Plague Times Trilogy

Questions by Annabel Annabel: When you began writing these books, had you already planned a trilogy? Had you ever thought that A Lovely Way to Burn could be a standalone novel, ending on a possible hopeful note for its heroine, Stevie? Louise: I knew from the first strike of the keyboard that Plague Times would…

No Dominion by Louise Welsh

Reviewed by Annabel No Dominion is the concluding part of Louise Welsh’s Plague Times Trilogy – a dystopian tale of a pandemic and its aftermath. Although Welsh asserts in the Q&A we did (see here) that you can read the novels in any order, I think you’d probably want to read one or other, or…

Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess

Five Fascinating Facts about… Anthony Burgess

Compiled by Annabel Researching Burgess for this article, I found so many nuggets, I could easily have compiled a list of fifty facts – or even more! It was difficult to restrict it to just five, but I have managed that by picking those that particularly appealed to me! For a more serious take on…

Austen-ish – A Reading List of Austen-inspired fiction

Compiled by Annabel and Elaine More than any other author, including Dickens and the Brontës, Jane Austen has inspired other writers to use her characters and settings to write sequels, retellings and homages of her six novels and the handful of her other writings. We have surveyed this huge field to select our favourites plus…

Portrait Antoine Laurain

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

Reviewed by Annabel Translated by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce French author Antoine Laurain has already got himself an army of fans (or should that be ‘armée’!) thanks to Gallic Books’ wonderful translations of his books. The first two were utterly charming, funny, yet touching and romantic novels, positioned just on the right side of…

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (pbk)

Reviewed by Annabel This novel was my first encounter with Levy and I’ll confess, I found Hot Milk a difficult book to read. Levy has an oblique style that doesn’t yield its secrets immediately. However, upon reflection, I began to comprehend at least some of the metaphors, references and themes within. With understanding, the novel grew on…

White Tears by Hari Kunzru

Reviewed by Annabel One thing you can say about Kunzru’s previous novels – they will always have interesting themes that connect with the zeitgeist of the day, from computer viruses in Transmissions to cults in the Californian desert in Gods Without Men. Increasingly, they include ghostly echoes from the past coming back to haunt the…