Railhead, Philip Reeve

  This is a delightfully fun and engaging tale with all the confidence you’d expect of Phillip Reeve, returning to the steampunk genre, if in a very different world, of Mortal Engines. Here, rather than walking cities, we have sentient trains and K-gates – wormholes or portals, taking trains and their passengers instantly to different worlds and different…

CILIP Carnegie Medal 2017

It being March, the CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist has been announced and I’m embarking on the ritual of trying to read them. This year, the list is:

The Girl of Ink and Stars, Kiran Millwood Hargrave

  This certainly has a distinctive and gorgeous cover on it, which has graced the window front of local bookshops for weeks! But they do say that you shouldn’t just a book etc etc etc … The book is narrated by Isabella, a young girl on the island of Joya, who has been brought up on…

The Lie Tree, Francis Hardinge

I am coming to adore Frances Hardinge! I’ve only read this and Cuckoo Song to be fair, but there’s something about her imagination and her writing which chimes with me: dark, intensely personal, yet somehow mythic at the same time. She captures a sense of wonder,  of terror, of awe which is simultaneously so childlike…

Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson is one of those authors who I have been aware of but avoided for a while. I put my hands up, it was and has been deeply unfair of me. Like that chap in the village I grew up in who always crossed the road when he saw my mother to avoid talking…

Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge 

  This is a remarkable novel. Of the three CILIP Carnegie nominees I’ve read, this is my clear front runner. And I’m saying that having read Patrick Ness! Before I review it, however, I’m going to play a game with my sixteen year-old stepson, whose birthday it is today. Despite his protestations, he is going…

My Swordhand is Singing, Marcus Sedgwick

 Sedgwick has been on my radar for a few years now, creeping into the shortlists for the Carnegie Medal regularly. I’d previously read his White Crow, and Midwinterblood. The first of those I had thoroughly enjoyed, bouncing between time zones; the second was breathtaking, tracing echoes of a story back through generations and encompassing wartime…

Roof Toppers, Katherine Rundell

It’s that time of year again: the Carnegie Medal Shortlist is announced! Much joy! Genuine excitement! Much fretting over how to juggle reading the Shortlist with doing work, marking, planning … and, this year, entertaining the baby! And Roof Toppers was a lovely way to start the Shortlist … Which I finished today by reading…

Harvest, Jim Crace

I loved this book, for so many reasons!! It is the story of a week in an unnamed village in an unspecified part of England at an unspecified period. And I loved the timelessness of Crace’s prose: his narrator’s language is lyrical and deeply informed by the landscape but not archaic or faux-authentic. If we…

A Tale For The Time Being, Ruth Ozeki

I have an opinion. Just the one, but an opinion nonetheless. And my opinion is this: that most writing is, at least in part and at least tangentially, about the writing process itself. Books about books, about creation, about reading, about interpretation. How much reading do we come across in books? Ozeki seems to share…

The Testament of Mary, Colm Tóibín

I was hugely looking forward to this novel – although at 100 pages, novelette may be a more apt title – which failed to win the Man Booker prize last night. It is the story of Mary. That Mary. Mother of Jesus, Bearer of God, Theotokos, the Madonna. Of all figures to try to give…