More wonderful fiction from Lem – at Shiny New Books!


No doubt you’ll all have been exploring the lovely new revamped Shiny New Books with its wonderful array of reviews and recommendations! I have a few reviews coming up on the site, and one is published today – my thoughts on the latest reissued Stanislaw Lem book from Penguin, “Mortal Engines”.


Like the other Lem books I’ve read from Penguin, this one contains a collection of shorter works. However, in this volume they’re selected by translator Michael Kandel, and they’re an intriguing bunch with some longer stories moving away from the kind I’ve read so far.

My review of this fabulous collection is here – do go and have a look! 🙂

A Wonderful piece of Russian Satire – Another Shiny Link


If there’s one thing I loved, it’s a chunky piece of Russian satire, and so I was particular pleased to be offered the chance to review a lovely new edition of such a book for Shiny New Books! The reprint in question is “The History of a Town” by Saltykov-Shchedrin, an author best-known for his classic satirical novel “The Golovlyov Family”.


“The History of a Town” has been reprinted in a beautiful new edition by Apollo, an imprint of Head of Zeus – and their books really are lovely, with striking pictorial covers and end papers. This was my first experience of Saltykov-Shchedrin and it was a wonderful one – you can read my full review here!

The Final Shininess of the Year!


SNB-logo-small-e1393871908245Today is the publication day for the final issue of Shiny New Books for 2016- number 13! It’s also, I believe, going to be the final one in this format, so do go and enjoy all the lovely content there.


I’ve been pleased to provide a few reviews this time round and I thought I would first of all point you to my thoughts on a beautiful new edition of “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” from Alma Classics. Aimed at a younger audience, and featuring black and white illustrations plus a plethora of extra material, it really is a lovely thing. You can read my full review here, and of course there will be much in the way of fascinating reading to be found in the whole of Shiny New Books! 🙂

An intriguing read for Shiny….


SNB-logo-small-e1393871908245The second book I covered in the most recent edition of Shiny New Books was interesting, if a little problematic…


“Beyond the Robot” is a new biography of the cult author Colin Wilson, best known for his groundbreaking work “The Outsider”. I approached it willing to be convinced, as I’ve not yet read any Wilson, but although intriguing, the book failed for me in a couple of ways. In particular, I found the hagiographic tone of the work a little too much in places. To read my thoughts in full, pop over to Shiny New Books and have a look here!


Shiny New Books #12 Now Live! Plus National Poetry Day!


SNB-logo-small-e1393871908245Yes, the latest issue of Shiny New Books, #12, is out today and you can read all its bookish loveliness here.


I have a couple of reviews this time, and I’ll point you today to my thoughts on Vicki Baum’s “Grand Hotel”, reissued in a beautiful edition from NYRB. I absolutely adored the book, with its wonderful cast of characters and brilliantly captured setting, and you can read my full review here.


Today is also National Poetry Day in the UK, and so I took a few moments to read a poem this morning before leaving for work. Oddly enough, I’m actually in the middle of a Philip Larkin book at the moment, but it’s prose not poetry, so that doesn’t count. However, I keep stumbling across the work of Louis MacNeice, and I’m intrigued by what I’ve read so far. So I picked up a little Penguin volume of poetry from the 1930s and read this one today:

The Sunlight on the Garden

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.

The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying

And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.

It’s an elegiac piece, written on the eve of the Second World War, and makes me very keen to read more of MacNeice’s work – so much so that I’ve requested his book with Auden, “Letters from Iceland”, from the library!

And finally a couple of pictures!


These are my Penguin Modern Poets – as you can see, by no means a full set as yet though I intend to get there eventually. Really must get onto the next one…


And these are a few others lurking on the shelves – of course there are many more on the other shelves plus individual poets like Plath. And I’ve just picked up a volume of Sitwell I want to start soon. Oh for more reading time….

A Final Shiny Link!


SNB-logo-small-e1393871908245Just time to give you a link to my final piece for Shiny New Books this issue!

I was very flattered to be approached to offer thoughts on books that had had a profound effect on me for a piece called “A Novel Calling”. This took some hard thinking about, and I ended up with books ranging from Dr. Seuss to Camus! It’s an interesting idea to try yourself, but if you’re at all interested in reading about the books that changed my life, head over to Shiny New Books here!

More good reading from Shiny New Books!


Hopefully you’re all now devouring the loveliness that is Shiny New Books 11 with all its wonderful book recommendations – very bad for the bank balance and wishlist, I know!

I thought I would link in to another of my reviews there – well, actually, a review and a Bookbuzz piece. As you might have noticed, I was rather excited to hear that the Penguin Modern Poets imprint was being relaunched and I was even more excited to be asked to review the first two books in the series.

The first volume, entitled “If I’m Scared We Can’t Win” is now out, and the second, “Controlled Explosions”, will be available in October.

PMP new

As you can see, they look very lovely and will make a wonderful collection sitting on any shelf…

To read my review of the books you can go here and to read my Bookbuzz piece with a history of the imprint click here. Hopefully the books will do much to spread the love of poetry, particularly from new poets, to a wider readership!


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