Monthly Roundup – February 2019

February was a good month as I had my three children home from university for varying lengths of time. They were all here together for less than a day but we still managed a family meal out – good fun. I also kept up my local walks and gym visits which slows down my reading but keeps my mind in a more settled place.

I posted reviews for 13 books. These included 11 fiction (3 translated) and 2 nonfiction. I had no poetry to review, something I hope to rectify soon.

Of note this month was a feature I ran on the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses. It included a number of fascinating guest posts provided by publishers on the prize longlist alongside reviews of the books that made the cut and which I had not yet read. As with last year, the titles considered for the RofC prize are amongst the best literary fiction published in the past year. It has been a pleasure to discover books that too often fly beneath the radar of most readers. I will be watching with interest to see which of these titles make the shortlist, the announcement of which, unfortunately, I am unable to attend. The logistics of travelling to Norwich proved too much of a challenge for me at this time.

You may click on the link below to read my post and on the book cover to find out more about each title.

Guest post by independent publisher, Henningham Family Press
Dedalus by Chris McCabe

Q&A with Istros Books
by Daša Drndić (translated by S.D. Curtis and Celia Hawkesworth)

Guest post by independent publisher, Splice
Hang Him When He Is Not There
by Nicholas John Turner

Guest post from independent publisher, Fairlight Books
Bottled Goods
by Sophie van Llewyn

As I had a guest post from Charco Press from last year but they still kindly sent me their longlisted book I wrote my own update on them before posting my review.

Spotlight on independent publisher, Charco Press
by Julián Fuks (translated by Daniel Hahn)

Guest post by independent publisher, Peepal Tree Press

The Republic of Consciousness Prize organisers have created a podcast, not a medium I was previously interested in. I wrote about this here – Random Musings: Literary Podcasts

Not all longlisted publishers that I approached got back to me, and some who responded have yet to provide me with their book or other content. There may therefore be more of these posts to come next month.

I have now read 8 of the 13 books – those I already had on my shelves and those kindly provided by publishers. I am currently reading my ninth from the list which I received this week.


Alongside my RofC feature I posted book reviews for other titles read, with an even greater than usual emphasis on small press output.

Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li, published by Pushkin Press
Children of the Cave by Virve Sammalkorpi (translated by Emily Jeremiah and Fleur Jeremiah), published by Peirene Press

Now Legwarmers by Pascal O’Loughlin, published by Henningham Family Press
A Place of Safety by Martin Nathan, published by Salt

My Oxford by Catherine Haines, published by New Welsh Rarebytes
The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey, published by Atlantic Books

I also posted two reviews that were originally written for Bookmunch.

Godsend by John Wray, published by Canongate
Cure by Jo Marchant, published by Canongate


Next month includes my husband’s birthday so there may be a short hiatus on the blog as we plan to travel to Brighton to celebrate. My determination to seek balance in my pursuits this year rather than become a slave to schedules is going well.

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 – 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.