Paris in July2018 blue

Paris in July 2018 – Vernon Subutex returns…

Paris in July is an annual tag hosted by Thyme for Tea which I love doing each year.  Here’s my first contribution… Vernon Subutex 2 by Virginie Despentes Translated by Frank Wynne This is a sequel to Vernon Subutex 1, which was a real discovery for me in 2017 – you can read my review here.  Read More

Forster and Bannan

20 Books of Summer #3 & #4: Young protagonists

What a Way To Go by Julia Forster I couldn’t resist the cover of this book – it was the ghetto blaster (as we called boomboxes then) on the front and cassette tapes on the back that took me right back to around 1979 when I bought one with my holiday job pay from the Read More

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Events with Books

Back to normal posting soon – I’ve lots of book reviews to catch up on! But here are the bookish events I’ve been at recently… The Last Chance Hotel Book Launch Firstly – the launch party for friend, former bookseller, and now published author Nicki Thornton, whose book for older children (8-11) The Last Chance Read More

Paddy Clarke ha ha ha

Comedy and the Booker Prize

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle Over at Shiny New Books, it has been ‘Booker Week’ – a decade by decade review of (nearly) all the winning titles and some that missed out on the prize. One of my contributions was to re-read and review Roddy Doyle’s winner – Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Read More

Devil in White City

Book Group Report: ‘White’

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson While a spirited pitch for Hari Kunzru’s White Tears was made when we selected our ‘white’ book, we went to a draw and this book from 2003 came out of the hat. Subtitled ‘Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America’, Larson’s book is Read More

Italian Girl

Another dose of Murdoch…

The Italian Girl by Iris Murdoch After being the only person to sort of enjoy parts of The Black Prince (reviewed here) at our book group last month, I was slightly wary of reading another of her novels so soon. But the Great Iris Murdoch Readalong hosted by Liz Dexter was up to her 1964 novel The Read More

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Missing Pieces Blog Tour

I’m delighted to be one of the last stops on the Agora (the new name of Ipso books) blog tour for: Missing Pieces by Laura Pearson This novel was rescued from Ipso Books’s slush pile by an intern, which turned out to be a jolly good thing, for Missing Pieces is an engaging summer read Read More

Salt Lane

Darkness at Dungeness…

Salt Lane by William Shaw This is the first book by William Shaw that I’ve read – he is the author of three crime novels set in the 1960s known as the ‘Breen & Tozer’ trilogy (watch out though – they have different titles in the US and UK, and there are now four in Read More

Concrete Island

20 Books of Summer #2 – a modern day Robinson Crusoe?

Concrete Island by J G Ballard Ballard’s slim novel from 1973 is his own bleak take on Robinson Crusoe being marooned on a desert island.  However, this being Ballard, he has found a way of subverting Crusoe by marooning his protagonist in the middle of a very busy world. Concrete Island is a controlled and Read More

Rites of Passage

The 1980 Booker Prize winner…

Rites of Passage by William Golding Golding’s book divided the Booker judges initially, as it was the first part of a planned trilogy, (the other two volumes were published several years later). Could the prize be given to a part work?  Of course it could – and that has happened several times since in Booker Read More

Best of Beryl

The Booker Bridesmaid & the Best of Beryl

I wrote this piece for Shiny New Books’s Booker Celebrations week – coming to you at the beginning of July, where it’ll be included in a post about many of the wonderful novels that were shortlisted for the Booker Prize but didn’t win. I thought I’d share it here first though… Beryl Bainbridge – Shortlisted Read More

Schimmelpfennig

A novel with a rather long title…

One Clear Ice-cold January Morning at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century by Roland Schimmelpfennig Translated by Jamie Bulloch The worst thing about this book is its cumbersome title – which is actually the beginning of the novel’s first sentence, which continues thus: …just after daybreak, a solitary wolf crossed the frozen river marking the Read More

LBD OK

Two books about fashion and design…

Vogue Essentials: The Little Black Dress by Chloe Fox This book arrived and I couldn’t stop myself from immediately becoming totally immersed in it. The idea is simple – stunning photography from the Vogue archive – from Beaton to Demarchelier via Bailey, models Shrimpton on the cover to Moss and Lily Cole, plus Coco Chanel Read More

Our Souls at Night

20 Books of Summer #1 – Why have I never read Kent Haruf before?

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf Over the years, so many people have sung the praises of Kent Haruf, but he remained undiscovered for me until I got one of his novels at a book sale – then it sat on the shelf until I picked it up for this years 20 Books of Read More

Educated Miss Laila

Review Catch-up…

Life is rather busy, and I’m terribly behind on my reviews. So here is a batch of reviews and links for you… Educated by Tara Westover This memoir of growing up in an unconventional setting and how the author escaped to discover the world outside was absolutely compelling reading, Westover grew up off-grid in Idaho, Read More

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Book Group report: ‘Black’

The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch Our book group has never tackled Murdoch, although back in the day before I joined, they read John Bayley’s memoir of his wife, Iris, so I’m told. Several of us had read various novels by Iris Murdoch before  – indeed I read a whole bunch back in the late Read More

Sue Black

‘A Life in Death’

All That Remains by Sue Black As one of the world’s foremost anatomists and forensic anthropologists, Sue Black’s life in death has been full of interest. She has been a professor based at Dundee University for years, and, she was appointed as a Dame in 2016 for services to forensic anthropology and she is a Read More

Six degrees tipping

Six Degrees of Separation: The Tipping Point

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps.Our starting book this month is the non-Fiction bestseller… The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell This book, first published in 2000, (which I reviewed here in 2009) was one of Read More

Abbess

#ReadingMuriel2018 and the strangest little book!

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark What a strange novella this book is! It’s far from my favourite Spark, but it is possibly the most fascinating. This is because commentators have suggested that it is Spark’s response to the Watergate scandal of 1972 which led to Nixon’s impeachment in August 1974. The story opens Read More

Youngson

Two lonely people, linking their lives in letters…

Meet Me At the Museum by Anne Youngson This novel told in letters took me pleasantly by surprise. Within pages I was hooked and I read it in one extended sitting, shedding a tear along the way as I followed the story of the developing friendship between two lonely middle-aged people.  Tina and Anders are separated Read More

Once-Upon-A-Time-in-The-East

A Wild Swans for this generation?

Once Upon a Time in the East by Xiaolu Guo It is inevitable that Guo’s memoir, which was shortlisted this year for the Rathbones Folio Prize (which I wrote about here), will be compared with Jung Chang’s brilliant family history and memoir Wild Swans, with Guo adding her story as a young woman from the Read More

Desert Island Books

My new Desert Island Library – 100 Books

I’ve had a tab entitled ‘Desert Island LIbrary‘ on this blog for ages, in which I imagined if I were stranded on a desert island, which books I’d like washed up onto the shore in a waterproof trunk!  I started off writing short takes on the books to go into this trunk – but it Read More

Holiday

1974 joint Booker Prize winner…

Holiday by Stanley Middleton Some time ago, I picked up a copy of Holiday at a book sale, only knowing that it had shared the 1974 Booker prize with Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist. I’d otherwise never heard of Middleton, so I was surprised to find this was the 14th novel of his 44-novel career!  If Read More

Chevalier Magnan

Two novels with a French connection – Chevalier & Magnan

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier This was our Book Group’s choice for this month – ‘Blue’ being the key word we’d picked it by.  This was Chevalier’s first novel, published in 1997, and it is different to all of her others by having a dual timeline, following the stories of two women, centuries apart. Read More

Honeyman and Houm

Two novels in which the protagonist is NOT ‘completely fine’

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman Most people I know who have read this book have loved it – but not everyone, notably Rebecca (who reviewed it here).  I must say that although it was an entertaining read that I sped through, I’m tending towards Rebecca’s view.  You’ve also probably seen all over Read More