Bookish ramblings & giveaway results

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The start of term has been so busy at school for me, and my daughter, my blogging has suffered slightly! I have been reading, just not had time to write the reviews – I have rather a pile building up. The 12th issue of Shiny New Books will be published in a fortnight too, so I’m still busy but will… Read more »

Clara Vine 4 – War Threatens…

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Faith and Beauty by Jane Thynne I was so glad that Jane Thynne extended her Clara Vine series of books beyond the original planned trilogy. This series, centred in 1930s Berlin, with heroine Anglo-German actress-spy Clara, are so thrilling – each addition becomes a must-read for me. You can catch up on my thoughts about the previous three, plus two Q&A posts… Read more »

AnnaBookBel is 8!

AnnaBookBel   September 15, 2016   18 Comments on AnnaBookBel is 8!
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My blog is eight years old today! It started off at Blogspot as Gaskella on September 15th 2008, eventually moving to WordPress. It was still called Gaskella at that stage, but later I changed the title to Annabel’s House of Books. Then, last summer I took the plunge and bought my own domain – annabookbel.net. I paid WordPress to redirect my old… Read more »

Book Group report: Food

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John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk Our Book Group is reading by category this year. When choosing our ‘Food’ book two months ago, we narrowed it down to three books initially and then picked one out of the hat. The three were: The Vegetarian by Han Kang – prize-winning Korean novel John Saturnall’s Feast by Lawrence Norfolk – Kitchen boy… Read more »

When the American Dream is found out…

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The Good Guy by Susan Beale I absolutely adore tales set in 1960s American suburbia. There’s something about the more spacious US setting that grabs me in a way that those set in the cramped English equivalent don’t. They are too close to home for I am a product of the 1960s London suburbs; been there, done that! The Good Guy… Read more »

A life in a day… again and again and again…

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Groundhog Day – Book by Danny Rubin, Music & Lyrics by Tim Minchin August has been such a busy month. Not only have I managed to read 19 books, but I managed to go to the theatre twice and forgot to tell you about the first time when I took my daughter to the Old Vic at the start of… Read more »

Branagh at the Garrick

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The Entertainer by John Osborne Having a potentially wet weekend to myself, no chance of the planned car boot sale taking place, I looked to find myself a theatre ticket for a day out. I went to the Garrick to see Ken Branagh’s company do Terence Rattigan’s Harlequinade last December (see here). I wanted to book for the last play in his season… Read more »

Two Shorter YA reviews

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Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher This is the third novel by Pitcher, the first I’ve read, although I own a copy of her prizewinning debut My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece. It also fills in the box on my BookBingo Card ‘by an author who shares your first name’… The story is narrated by Tess, a fifteen year old who discovers a… Read more »

My TBR Rainbow: #10 The Medal Edit

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Congratulations to all our Olympians who took part in Rio In celebration, I made a pile of gold, silver and bronze-spined books from my TBR. I chose the three volumes of HP Lovecraft’s weird tales to represent the silver incarnation of Penguin Modern Classics between 2000 and 2007, of which I have many. Interestingly, all the gold paperbacks I have are… Read more »

Emotions run deep in these pearl rivers…

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The Last Pearl Fisher in Scotland by Julia Stuart I have really fond memories of reading Julia Stuart’s earlier novel – Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo (reviewed here), which was gentle and touching with some delightful comedic interludes. Its portrayal of a couple being driven apart by grief over their dead son was charmingly done. Would her latest… Read more »

Women in Translation month – a French novella

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Marie by Madeleine Bourdouxhe Translated by Faith Evans This gorgeously produced novella with its stunning cover design is turning into one of the sleeper hits of the summer. The cover stood out in the bookshop and I had to buy it – luckily the story inside is just as high quality, (read Jacqui‘s review too). This was my first encounter with Belgian-born… Read more »

Great Characters, Great Adventure, Great Space!

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The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers This SF novel has been one of the great discoveries of recent years – a self-published kickstarter debut that was picked up by a big publisher and then longlisted for the Baileys Prize earlier this year. The book is now shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award. Although it is the… Read more »

My TBR Rainbow #9: Pattern

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Earlier this year I did a series of posts of books from my TBR piles grouping them into rainbow colours (collated here). Time for another – and something different. Spotting a multi-coloured striped spine across the room, I thought I’d look for more. Gosh it was difficult! There are many bicoloured spines – maybe different colours on top and bottom of… Read more »

Two novellas for WIT month

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The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang Translated by Chi-Young Kim, Illustrations by Nomoco This Korean novella has been a huge bestseller and it’s easy to see why. For a start, the cover is divine, the book is physically lovely with French flaps, and Nomoco’s illustrations preface each chapter. All that before you get to the heart-warming story within…. Read more »

‘Till we have built Jerusalem, In Englands green & pleasant Land’

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The Countenance Divine by Michael Hughes What a gorgeous cover, eh? Many among you will recognise the title of this novel as coming from Jerusalem – the celebrated hymn with words by Blake and music by Parry. In fact, Blake’s words are taken from the preface to a much longer work, Milton, a Poem. The short poem we now know as Jerusalem,… Read more »

Two Mental Health Issue-led YA novels…

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Today, I have two slightly shorter reviews for you of YA novels that explore similar themes: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall The pink cover (available in three shades actually, going from medium to full-on shocking pink) does this novel no favours at all. Concentrate instead on the gilded cage and the heart that doesn’t dare to go out of… Read more »

From the archives: Hotels

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When I go on holiday with my daughter these days, we usually try to find apartments as we disturb each other just too much sharing a room!  But, of course, many of my holidays in the past, and probably in future too, will involve staying in a hotel. Many a novel features characters staying in a hotel – here’s a selection… Read more »

Women in Translation month

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August is Women in Translation month hosted by Meytal at Biblibio, and I’m busy scouring the shelves for a couple of books to read. Meanwhile, here are links to all the WIT books I’ve read since last August – it’s not a long list, but is more than last year. The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalie Sanmartin Fenollera (Spanish,… Read more »

Book Group report: Noir

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The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett To broaden our reading and ensure that don’t keep choosing yet another xxx-prize short/longlisted book each month, we are picking the books we read by topic, and for July it was ‘Noir’. We pick the topic 3 months ahead, then 2 months ahead we pick the book from the titles suggested, max one each…. Read more »

Shiny New Books Issue 11

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Issue 11 of Shiny New Books was published this morning – I got up early to do most of the admin, and then went back to bed! This issue, with everyone still reeling after the Brexit vote, the Shiny Eds had a great discussion about European Culture on the page and screen. It would be lovely if any of you… Read more »