Monthly Roundup – June 2018

Here we are, half way through another year. Doesn’t time fly when there are so many good books to read? This month has been one of exams and welcoming my big children back from university for the summer. I posted reviews of eleven books, mostly from independent publishers, some of whom have been killing it on the prize circuit recently – particularly pleasing to see. I attended the wonderful Greenwich Book Festival and wrote up each event in detail. Following some critical on line discussion about where people buy books I also wrote about why reading should be a pleasure.

My fiction reading has been a mixed bag with three books proving not to be my cup of tea:

 
The Peace Machine by Özgür Mumcu (translated by Mark David Wyers), published by Pushkin Press
The Trilogy of Two by Juman Malouf, published by Pushkin Press

and a short story collection from Comma Press.


The Book of Havana by various, translated by Orsola Casagrande and Séamas Carraher

I read three novels that and I now urge everyone to read

 
Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth, published by One, an imprint of Pushkin Press
Lucia by Alex Pheby, published by Galley Beggar Press


Gamble by Kerry Hadley-Pryce, published by Salt

and a wonderful short story collection


How The Light Gets In by Clare Fisher, published by Influx Press

Two novels made me think, for very different reasons

 
Shatila Stories by various, published by Peirene Press
Thank You, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse, published by Arrow Books

I posted two reviews of non fiction books, one of which was originally written for Bookmunch

 
Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control by Barbara Ehrenreich, published by Granta Books
Linescapes by Hugh Warwick, published by Vintage

A series of six posts covered the events I attended at Greenwich. All but one featured authors whose books are published by the small independent presses. For balance, the festival party featured authors from two of the big houses, Penguin and Simon & Schuster.


An Overview
Festival Party featuring Imogen Hermes Gower, Lissa Evans, Paula McLain, Diana Evans and Louise Candlish
The long life of short fiction featuring David Hayden, Clare Fisher and Eley Williams
Keeping it real? featuring Alex Pheby, Shiromi Pinto and Matthew De Abaitua
Smackdown! featuring Carrie Dunn and Toby Litt
Class Matters featuring Yvonne Singh Alex Pheby, Matthew De Abaitua and Shiromi Pinto

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.

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Monthly Roundup – May 2018

As expected, May was a busy month in my off-line life which limited available reading time. I managed to review 13 books and attend one literary event. What was lacking in quantity was more than made up for in quality. This month’s books included some outstanding reads.

In fiction I read four books from small independent publishers and two from the bigger houses. These included a psychological thriller which I read in preparation for the event I attended. Although I now read far fewer genre books than I once did, this title reminded me why they remain popular with so many.

El Hacho by Luis Carrasco, published by époque press
Old Baggage by Lissa Evans, published by Doubleday

What Happened To Us by Ian Holding, published by Little Island Press
My Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay, published by Corvus Books

Missing by Alison Moore, published by Salt
Ironopolis by Glen James Brown, published by Parthian Books

 

I managed just the one book of translated fiction this month.

My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci (translated by David Hackston), published by Pushkin Press

 

And three books of short stories, all enjoyed.

The Book of Riga, published by Comma Press
Dazzling the Gods by Tom Vowler, published by Unbound

Bristol, published by Dostoyevsky Wannabe

 

From my non fiction pile I plucked this – fabulous and recommended.

Under the Rock by Benjamin Myers, Published by Elliot & Thompson

 

I posted two reviews originally written for Bookmunch – fiction from the Women’s Prize shortlist, and an excellent if somewhat involved non fiction book.

Sight by Jessie Greengrass, published by John Murray
Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky, published by Vintage

 

I travelled to Bristol to attend a friendly event for writers.

Novel Nights in Bristol, with guest speaker Sanjida Kay

 

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.

I am hoping that June will offer more time to read, although with my older children home from university and my younger sitting exams this may prove a challenge. I do, however, have a literary event that I am very excited about attending – the Greenwich Book Festival. With tickets booked for five of their planned panels I expect to have plenty to write about next month alongside my reviews.

 

Monthly Roundup – April 2018

April has been a busy month for family related activities. As my children grow older I see less of them so prioritise in their favour when we can be together. A local road closure and the ongoing engineering work on the GWR affected my ability to travel so I did not attend any literary events. Added to these issues I was working my way through an 800 page non fiction book which, although fascinating, proved more technical than expected and would not be rushed.

I posted reviews for 16 books in April and interviewed one author – links are below. However, the month opened with a random opinion piece that was inspired by some negative debates on social media around book blogging and negative reviews. You may read it here: Random Musings: Book love and negative reviews

On then to the books. As long time readers will know I have a particular fondness for the small presses and am always happy to discover a new one. Ampersand Publishing sent me four titles which I devoured. These included two poetry collections:

Recipe for being a Woman by Hermione Cameron
Echoing by Elliot Koubis

and two works of fiction:

Tumours by Chay Collins (nominated for the Saboteur Award for Best Novella)
The Goldberg Variations by Robert Hainault

I also reviewed a translated poetry collection from the fabulous Little Island Press:

Shortening the Candle’s Wick by Andres Ehin and Ly Seppel (translated by Ilmar Lehtpere)

Unusually for me there was only one book of translated fiction this month, although I did get to interview the author:

The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland by Nicolai Houm (translated by Anna Paterson), published by Pushkin Press
Author Interview: Nicolai Houm

I posted a couple of reviews originally written for Bookmunch

The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal
The One Who Wrote Destiny by Nikesh Shukla

In non fiction I posted reviews of a nature monograph that made me want to return to Ireland and revisit the places described, and a best selling memoir.

Eagle Country by Seán Lysaght, published by Little Toller
Educated by Tara Westover, published by Hutchinson

I also posted a review of the latest non fiction offering from Galley Beggar Press:

Wrestliana by Toby Litt

Other fiction reviews posted included the following:

The Sound of My Voice by Ron Butlin, published by Polygon
Claudia by Anthony Trevelyan, published by Sceptre

You by Phil Whitaker, published by Salt
Their Brilliant Careers by Ryan O’Neill, published by Lightning Books

Mayhem and Death by Helen McClory, published by 404 Ink

Finally, I acquired a new hen enclosure this month which got me so excited I had to write about it: Constructing the Perfect Walk-in Run

 

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.

Next month I have two short breaks planned with my family. It is therefore likely to be a quieter month on social media and on my blog, although there may be pictures of my adventures.

Jx

Monthly Roundup – March 2018

March has been an unusually busy month for travelling, with literary gigs attended in London, Bath, Bristol and Manchester. Along the way I reviewed sixteen books, many of them translated fiction. I also posted one interview, with an independent publisher I have only recently discovered. First though, the books.

Reviews of translated fiction:

Reviews of British fiction:

Anthology of  non fiction and fiction:

Reviews originally posted on other sites

Interview with an independent publisher

Gigs attended:

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.

Monthly Roundup – February 2018

January on my blog focused on the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses, with just a few reviews of the books I was reading thrown in for good measure. This month saw a return to a more familiar format with a focus on new book reviews, although not all recent releases as I kept my New Year promise to myself and also plucked titles from further down my TBR pile.

These included a number of medical themed books. The announcement of the Wellcome Book Prize longlist reminded me that I still had several titles unread that I was eager to get to.

Click on the cover to find out more about the book from the publisher’s website – the links below will take you to my reviews.

  

  

 

I posted four book reviews originally written for other sites.

  

  

 

There were also original reviews of several new releases and books from my TBR pile.

Non-Fiction:

Fiction:

Poetry

 

I attended one book event, travelling to Manchester for

I will be posting more about the author and publisher panels and talks next week.

I posted one interview this month, with

Next month I have a number of literary outings to look forward to, including the winners event for the Republic of Consciousness Prize on the 20th. I also have more excellent books to read – thank you to the publishers who send me their titles for review.

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

Monthly Roundup – January 2018

We made it through January. I know illness has dogged a lot of us this month – if you are still suffering I wish you a speedy recovery.

I started the month with a few thoughts on the year just past. I have now been blogging for over five years and my site continues to evolve as I work out the ongoing direction I wish to take.

My first review of the year was for Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour – The Haunted Queen which is to be published by Headline in May. I had intended to include this as one of my end of year books to look forward to in 2018 but ran out of reading time over the festive season. My new Fitbit encouraged me to get out walking which was probably a good thing.

I then took a week’s break as I had a family holiday to enjoy and a big feature planned for the remainder of the month. These things take time to organise and prepare.

Those who follow my blog regularly will be aware that this month has mostly been about The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses, who last summer invited me to join their reader panel and help judge submissions for the prize. After the longlist was announced in November I contacted the longlisted publishers inviting them and their authors to answer a few questions or write a guest post for my blog. The before Christmas period is just about the busiest time of year for those who provide us with books so I am grateful for the positive responses received.

As part of this feature I posted author interviews with:

I included publisher interviews with:

I received guest posts from:

I am also grateful to my fellow judges, Graham and Paul Fulcher, who offered their carefully considered and detailed reviews to run alongside the content I received from authors and publishers. As I had already posted my reviews of the longlisted books I felt that these alternative thoughts added to the feature.

My bookish adventures took me along a new path when I participated in my first ever podcast, adding a few thoughts on one of the longlisted books – We that are young by Preti Taneja – alongside interesting interviews with the author and with the publisher. You may find out more about the podcast, created by The YYY Books Podcast, by clicking here.

As well as my Republic Of Consciousness Prize posts, I published a few reviews of other books I managed to read this month:

I attended two bookish events in January. The first was in Bristol, a stop on the New Voices of 2018 roadshow organised by Headline. The second was the Judges Dinner for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. Held in London this gave me the opportunity to meet my fellow judges offline, and to discuss the longlist with a view to whittling it down to the five or six titles that will go forward from here. I will be writing more about this event next month after the shortlist is announced in Manchester on 19th February.

I was privileged to receive a number of new titles from publishers which have been added to my TBR pile. For those interested, I post pictures of my book post on my Instagram feed. Thank you to all the publishers who send me books to review. Like most book bloggers my TBR pile is vast and enticing. If I have received your book I assure you I am doing my best to find time to read it.

Thank you also to the many readers, bloggers and publishers who share my words on their social media feeds. I very much appreciate your support. February will see a return to more personal book reviews. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts.