Pioneering female fiction – @shinynewbooks @laurakanost @stockcero


One of the delights of the Internet and social media is the ability to stumble upon books you might not have otherwise come across. “A Dead Rose” by Aurora Cáceres is a case in point: I saw it mentioned on Twitter (and I’m sorry I can’t remember who pointed it out) and after checking it out thought it would be a book I definitely should read.

The publishers, Stockcero, were kind enough to provide a copy for me to review for Shiny New Books and it makes fascinating reading. I’d not heard of the modernista movement before, and Cáceres was obviously a real pioneer, not only with her writing but also with the way she lived.

“A Dead Rose” is moving and memorable, with multiple layers, and definitely worth checking out if you want to explore pioneering women’s writing in translation. My review is here – do check it out! 🙂


British Library Crime Classics – and trains!!! @shinynewbooks @BL_Publishing



As you can see, I am a little behind on my reading and reviewing of the latest releases in the wonderful British Library Crime Classics series….

However, I *have* read one title in the series recently, a rather wonderful collection of short works featuring (you’ve guessed it!) trains and entitled “Blood on the Tracks”. Put together by the excellent Martin Edwards, it’s a really strong entry into the series and absolutely unputdownable.

The book has the added bonus of a Sherlock Holmes pastiche and Lord Peter Wimsey (not in the same story, of course…) I can’t recommend this one highly enough and you can read my full review over at Shiny New Books! 🙂

The genius of Shostakovich @shinynewbooks @BehemothMusic @NottingHillEds


I’ve been lucky enough not only to review some wonderful volumes for Shiny New Books, but also to read some real treats from Notting Hill Editions. Those two strands coincided in this really outstanding book which I was ridiculously excited about reading and reviewing!

I have a bit of an obsession with Shostakovich anyway, so I was probably the ideal reader for this one… An absorbing, moving and thought-provoking mixture of memoir, musicology and history, I found it unputdownable. You can read my review over on Shiny here!

I should add here as a coda to my review that I learned after its publication that author Stephen Johnson has put a page of audio reference clips on his website, which would be a useful aid for anyone reading the book, particularly if they aren’t literate in musical notation (like me!)

The clips can be found here:


A dark and bleak satire @shinynewbooks @Apollo_Fiction


Last year, I reviewed a wonderful piece of Russian satire by the classic author Saltykov-Shchedrin at Shiny New Books – the very clever, witty and pithy “The History of A Town”, which had been reissued in a beautiful volume from Apollo Editions.

Now Apollo have put out an equally striking edition of what’s perhaps the author’s most well-known work, “The Golovlevs”; again translated by I.P. Foote, it’s just as satirical as the first book, but much darker.  My thoughts are over at Shiny here!

Classic Sci Fi over @shinynewbooks @BL_Publishing


As well as being publication day for the wonderful Gazdanov collection I posted on earlier, today also sees the launch of a marvellous new series of books from the British Library. They’ve already had major success with their Crime Classics range, and are now branching out into Science Fiction Classics. If the first two volumes are anything to go by, this should be another winner…

To begin the series, BL have released two short story collections, each focusing on one of our neighbouring planets; the two that most exercise our imagination, the Moon and Mars. Renowned sci-fi expert Mike Ashley is in charge of the volumes (presumably curating the series in much the same way as Martin Edwards does so expertly with the crime books); and the contents make marvellous and varied reading.

Sci fi gets bad press and can be a divisive genre amongst readers. However, the best of sci-fi can be mind expanding fiction and I would encourage those nervous about it to give these two volumes a try – they’re wonderfully engrossing, entertaining and thought-provoking, and just damn good stories. You can read my review over at Shiny here!

Some pithy prose from Orwell @shinynewbooks @PenguinUKBooks


There are some authors who never seem to lose their relevance, and George Orwell is most certainly high on that list. Last year, I read one of his essays, “England, Your England”, which had been brought out as a pamphlet by Penguin. That essay was part of a larger work, “The Lion and the Unicorn”, and Penguin have just released a beautiful new edition of the book in their Modern Classics range.

Now, isn’t that choice of cover image so wonderfully ironic…

I’ve reviewed the Orwell on Shiny New Books, and it’s a work that seems to me to still be painfully relevant to our modern situation. Pop over and have a look at my thoughts – I don’t think we can ever have enough Orwell…

In pursuit of the glass girl @shinynewbooks @AnnaKavan


I have a review up on Shiny New Books today, and it’s of a stunning and memorable book – Anna Kavan’s “Ice”.

I picked up my original, rather fragile Picador edition (shown on the left) decades ago and haven’t revisited the book since. However, it’s now been reissued in a eye-catching Penguin Modern Classic (centre) and a beautiful Peter Owen Cased Classic (right), as well as a Penguin black cover classic in the USA (which I don’t have).

Reading the book during a freezing period of weather over Christmas was a sobering experience, and provided plenty of context for considering the book and Kavan’s message. To find out if I prefer one version over another, and to read my thoughts on “Ice” (it’s a long review…), you can head over to Shiny here!

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