Books to Give for Christmas 2018

For booklovers, aside from receiving well-chosen books, there is a real satisfaction in finding the perfect book to give. It’s not always easy though, so, if you’re looking for inspiration – you’ve come to the right place. As we did last year, we asked our Shiny reviewers and friends to tell us which book or…

Love is Blind by William Boyd

Reviewed by Harriet Sebastian Faulks has called William Boyd ‘the finest storyteller of his generation’, and it’s hard to argue with that. The stories he tells are mostly those of people’s lives – for example, in Any Human Heart, and The New Confessions, his central character’s life was told from his earliest beginnings to his…

If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura

Translated by Eric Selland Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth Who doesn’t deal with the devil every now and again? Or perhaps a god from your chosen religion, for the more saintly among us? Or just any form of non-supernatural, psychological trading in the privacy of your own mind? At risk of branding myself as the resident…

The Long Shadow by Celia Fremlin

Reviewed by Harriet How Ivor would have loved being dead! It was a shame he was missing it all. First published in 1975, this very welcome reprint shows Celia Fremlin at her best. A psychological thriller with a hint of the supernatural (or is it?), it’s a real page-turner with the usual brilliantly-drawn secondary characters…

Concepts of identity in 9 classic novels by Anne Goodwin

We’re delighted to be a stop on Anne Goodwin’s blog tour celebrating her new book, an anthology of short stories titled Becoming Someone.  Anne has written a guest post for us on concepts of identity, a subject she explores in her short stories, but here she looks at classic novels. Over to Anne… We turn to…

Under the Rock: the poetry of a place by Benjamin Myers

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster Benjamin Myers has been having a bit of a moment. In 2017 Bluemoose Books published his fifth novel, The Gallows Pole, which went on to win the Roger Deakin Award and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and is now on its fourth printing. This taste of fame has brought…

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Reviewed by David Harris This was the first time I’d read a book by Novik. Her Temeraire series and Uprooted (reviewed for Shiny by Sakura here) have received lots of praise so I was pleased to have an opportunity to review this new standalone story. Set in the snowy Eastern European forests long ago, Spinning…

The Race to Save the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport

Reviewed by Karen Langley The fate of the last of the Romanov Tsars and his family has exerted a fascination over the public during the century since their violent death in a basement in Ekaterinburg. Over the decades since there have been books and documentaries; investigations and conspiracy theories; and perhaps most famously a whole…

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…

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

Reviewed by David Harris Skinny Pete went to sleep, underfed and bony Skinny Pete went to sleep, and died a death so lonely. The enemy aren’t the Villains, nomads, scavengers, insomniacs, Ice-Hermits, Megafauna, nightwalker, hiburnal rodents or flesh eating cold slime – it’s the Winter. This is a standalone volume from Jasper Fforde, not part…

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Reviewed by Anna Hollingsworth What happens when the walls around someone collapse – in this case, both literally and metaphorically? One take is that when you’re left without shelter under the open sky, you may have lost your security but have gained a clearer view on life instead. This is the premise for Barbara Kingsolver’s…

Bloody Brilliant Women by Cathy Newman

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Cathy Newman is one of Channel 4 News’ main studio presenters and specialises in investigative journalism too. Here she brings her feminism and writing talents to bear on, as she puts it in the subtitle of the book, some women that people might not have heard of, bringing their stories to…

The Flame – Leonard Cohen

Reviewed by Rob Spence For a while in the mid sixties to the early seventies, the singer-songwriter reigned supreme in popular music. Dylan, of course, was the pioneer, followed by James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, and the rest of the hipperati of Laurel Canyon and beyond. Riding on the first wave, Leonard Cohen, recruited…

Vanish in an Instant by Margaret Millar

Reviewed by Harriet Why had I never heard of Margaret Millar until I spotted this reprint by Pushkin Vertigo? Because, I suppose, she was one of those people who have their moment of fame and then sink without trace. In fact Millar, who was born in Canada, had a successful career, wrote 27 novels, and…

The Light in the Dark: A winter journal by Horatio Clare

Reviewed by Peter Reason Reading the title of this book and seeing the book cover, the prospective reader might, as did I, expect a book about the darker period of the year, and the night. And they would be right: this book is indeed about those darker times. But I have always liked the dark…

Murder By The Book by Claire Harman

Reviewed by Gill Davies Here is a real treat for readers interested in the sometimes hidden side of Victorian society and its relationship with literary culture. The book relates the story of a shocking crime that took place in 1840. An elderly and fairly insignificant member of the aristocracy was found in his bed with…

Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Reviewed by Harriet Do you believe in fairies? Probably at a young age most people would say they did. And together with an idea implanted by popular books and paintings, which presented them as tiny ethereal creatures flitting around on gossamer wings, would come a concept of fairyland, undefined, pretty, vague and hazy. The scepticism…

Spotlight on Publishers: Handheld Press Q&A with Kate Macdonald

Questions by Harriet Harriet: Thanks for agreeing to do this for us Kate. Can you tell us a bit about the genesis of Handheld Press and what prompted you to start the company? Kate: Setting up the company crept up on me. I’ve been a literary historian, an editor in civil service technical publishing, an…