Monthly Roundup – March 2019

March started well and generally felt productive, undoubtedly helped by my anticipation and then enjoyment of a weekend in Brighton which I wrote about here. The long train journey flew by thanks to a good choice of book – The Choke was published by Gallic last Thursday. Click on the cover for more information, and on the title below to read my review.


The Chokeby Sofie Laguna, published by Gallic Books

I posted thirteen book reviews this month: eight novels (two translated); one anthology; two short story collections; two non fiction books. Of these, two reviews had been written for and originally published by Bookmunch.

I started March with a write-up of a literary gig with a difference. For the first time I had been invited to sit in front of the audience – to give a talk on book blogging, including how authors may get their books reviewed. Novel Nights is run for and by writers in Bristol and Bath. I have attended several of their events in the past and knew they were a friendly bunch but it was still a somewhat terrifying experience. As well as writing about the event I posted the notes I prepared, for those who may be interested in the detail of my talk.


Novel Nights in Bristol with guest speaker Jackie Law
Book Blogging 101

The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses announced their shortlist at an event in Norwich early in the month which, unfortunately, I was unable to attend. I did, however, write about the books and publishers in the running for this innovative prize. Unlike many literary awards, the RofC charges no fees, covers many expenses associated with attending related events, and financially rewards all presses that make the shortlist. It also brings fabulous books to the attention of readers.


Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019: from longlist to shortlist

My coverage of the longlist continued with a guest post from Peirene Press and my review of Sweet Home, which deservedly made the shortlist.


Guest post by independent publisher, Peirene Press
Sweet Home by Wendy Erskine, published by The Stinging Fly

The winners of the prize (there were two this year) was announced last Thursday at an event held in Foyles’ Charring Cross Road branch. I was delighted to accept my invitation to attend and will be writing up the event next week. You may read the Guardians’ coverage here.

On then to my remaining reviews posted this month. The books were quite a mixed bag as I was attempting to get ahead on new and forthcoming releases in anticipation of taking a few days away from my blog at month’s end. I had fallen behind with other writing commitments so last week was largely devoted to improving this situation. I also needed to step away from the online world at times due to the angry encroachment of current events.

So, let’s talk about books.

I had reservations about these two titles but was still glad to have read them both.


Tempest: An Anthology edited by Anna Vaught and Anna Johnson, published by Patrician Press
A Chill in the Air by Iris Origo, published by Pushkin Press

I picked up two YA fantasy fiction titles. The first led me to read the second, an interesting exercise in observing how a young writer develops.


The Near Witch by V.E Schwab, published by Titan Books
City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, published by Scholastic

The next two books were originally reviewed for Bookmunch. I enjoyed them both.


Mothers and Daughters by Vedrana Rudin (translated by Will Firth), published by Dalkey Archive Press
Music, Love, Drugs, War by Geraldine Quigley, published by Fig Tree Press

Other fiction enjoyed included an historical novel based on true events involving the author’s family, and an innovative short story collection.


A Perfect Explanation by Eleanor Anstruther, published by Salt
Above the Fat by Thomas Chadwick, published by Splice

For those, like me, who have spent time in Berlin (or as a taster for those who haven’t yet), this book is a recommended read. Its sense of place and exploration of why a place becomes important to an individual is hauntingly evoked.


Built on Sand by Paul Scraton, published by Influx Press

One book read stood out as a turkey. I know there are many who will enjoy the rich, historical descriptions – it just wasn’t for me.


Casanova and the Faceless Woman by Olivier Barde-Cabuçon (translated by Louise Rogers LaLaurie), published by Pushkin Press

And amidst some strong contenders, my book of the month is one you should all go and read when it is released in a few days time – outstanding writing as well as being witty and accessible.


The Fire Starters by Jan Carson, published by Doubleday

As ever I wish to thank the publishers who send me their titles to review – the arrival of a book parcel makes my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your support is always appreciated.

One comment on “Monthly Roundup – March 2019

  1. BookerTalk says:

    I bet the insights you shared in the Book Blogging 101 session would have been eye openers for a few of the authors in the audience. If they just took one thing away from the session that they will put into practice, it will have been so worthwhile

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