Wellcome Book Prize 10th Anniversary Blog Tour

I was delighted to be asked to take part in this blog tour, running ahead of the announcement of the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize longlist in February. This most unique of literary awards which “rewards exceptional works of literature that illuminate the many ways that health, medicine and illness touch our lives,” is ten years Read More

Review Catch-up #4 from 2018

This really is the last pair of books I read in the tail end of 2018 – from here-on in it’ll be 2019 reading all the way! But first two book group choices: Firstly the book we read over Christmas and discussed last week, and then February’s book – I’m writing about it now so Read More

Shakespeare at the Beach

Oh, I Do Like to Be… by Marie Phillips I adored Marie Phillips’ debut novel, Gods Behaving Badly, which I read in 2008 pre-blog, but did write a few lines on my trusty spreadsheet… “What happens if you’re an ancient Greek god or goddess, but nobody believes in you any more? This delightfully fun and Read More

Review Catch-up #3 from 2018

Yet another pair of shorter reviews of books I read at the tail-end of 2018. Where Shall We Run To? by Alan Garner I shall be reviewing this book at length for Shiny but it warrants a short write-up here too. I am a big Alan Garner fan (see here), and I can think of Read More

Name of the Rose readalong – chunk the first

Here’s my report on the first chunk my ‘Echoes of Eco’ readalong of The Name of the Rose. Feel free to pitch in with your comments and links if you’re joining in, it’ll be lovely to see what you’re making of it so far. I plan to get to the end of the ‘fourth day’ Read More

Review Catch-up #2 from 2018

More shorter reviews of books I read towards the end of 2018… The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story by Christie Watson There are so many books written by hospital doctors these days – of all types. Surgeon’s stories in the operating theatre; junior doctor’s comedic diaries; heart-breaking lives cut short by cancer – they fill shelves Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Hosted 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 French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles I read this many years ago – yes, after the 1981 film with Meryl came out, so early 1980s Read More

Review Catch-up #1 from 2018

I’ve got a pile of books I finished reading in 2018 that I haven’t reviewed yet. Some deserve their own posts, but here’s a pair of shorter write-ups. The Atlas of Disease by Sandra Hempel This is a curious book – ostensibly an ‘atlas’ produced using the latest data available, in which the author charts Read More

Name of the Rose Readalong

Last November I told you of my plans to re-read The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, and some of you said you might join in… Well I’m ready! I shall be reading my Folio Society edition, which is the original translation by William Weaver, but with some glorious extra artwork by Neil Packer Read More

Year End Review #6: My Books of the Year!

And finally, in my review of my reading year, it’s my Books of the Year. I always save this post for last, in case there’s a late entry. I’ve given up trying to keep the list to a dozen and have ended up instead with a baker’s dozen, plus some runners up. All of these Read More

Year End Review #5: The Stats!

I still love compiling this post each year.  I consult my trusty spreadsheet which has over ten years of basic data on it, and pull out some comparative figures about my year of reading. The top graph is accurate up to yesterday, the others to Boxing Day! For those of you who don’t like the Read More

Year End Review #4: Non-Fiction

This isn’t going to be a long post, as I’ve talked about a lot of my non-fiction reading this year recently during Non Fiction November (see here), but since that post, I’ve added several more books to that list, making my non-fiction total 31 in 2018 as of today.  That’s just about 22% which is Read More

Year End Review #3: In Translation

Last year I gave books read in translation their own review – the aim was to encourage myself to read more in 2018 – I managed just 14 (10%) in 2017. This year, (up to Christmas Day cut-off) I’ve read 25 novels originally published in other languages which is just under 18%, so I’ve done Read More

Year End Review #2: The Disappointments

The DNF and the DNGS This year I was perhaps, lucky in my reading – there was only one book that I gave up on having got a little way in, despite its fab cover, and that was The Testament of Loki by Joanne M Harris. I won’t dwell on this, but you can read Read More

Year End Review #1: The Discoveries

I’m kicking off my review of my 2018 reading year by sharing a few of the authors I discovered for the first time and now want to read much more of. Kent Haruf Others have praised this author for years and I truly don’t know why I resisted reading him.  I finally picked up Our Read More

Thriller central

I’ve enjoyed reading several of Henry Porter’s novels (my review of his second book, A Spy’s Life is here). They are solidly plotted, full of action with great lead characters. His latest, Firefly, has a great tagline on the front cover of my ARC, ‘The prey – a boy genius. The predator – a deadly Read More

The Last 10 Books Tag…

I got this via Simon (see his answers here) but it originated with Rick at Another Book Vlog. I couldn’t resist… The last book I gave up on There are a few books that I never really got started with, like Iris Murdoch’s The Nice and the Good, but the last one I read a decent chunk of Read More

Norton proves he can write…

I haven’t yet read Norton’s first novel, Holding, but having now read his second, I would definitely like to go back and read the other.  A Keeper falls into commercial fiction territory, but there’s nothing wrong with that. In A Keeper, Norton proves that he can create great characters, who set into a twisty plot, Read More

Living on the Edge

Outskirts by John Grindrod Like the author, I am a 1970s product of the Croydon/Surrey borders, so I was particularly interested to read this book, which is part memoir, part history of the Green Belt. Grindrod grew up in a postwar estate that was added to Croydon’s south-eastern outskirts, and in this estate, he lived Read More

Two of the PFD Sunday Times Young Writer Award shortlist…

The winner of the PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in association with the University of Warwick was announced earlier this week.  Adam Weymouth’s non-fiction book, Kings of the Yukon (which I shall be reading next), scooped this year’s prize from an interesting shortlist that was wide open as to who would Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: A Christmas Carol

Better late than never – here’s my go this month.  Hosted 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 … A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Dickens’ classic tale of redemption at Christmas. I could have Read More

Novellas in November – Part 3

Although my normal reading contains a fair smattering of novellas anyway, I’ve loved concentrating on reading novellas this November – here’s my third and final selection for this month: Poor Cow by Nell Dunn Published in 1967, Dunn’s novella is a ‘classic of 1960s London life’ and was her second work of fiction after her Read More

Review catch-up

In an attempt to clear my pile of yet to be reviewed books, here are some capsule reviews: Beryl Bainbridge by Master Georgie Many consider Bainbridge’s later novel from 1998 to be her best – it won the ‘Best of Beryl Booker Prize’.  Personally, on a first reading, it didn’t do it for me in Read More

War Horse – an actor’s story…

All Quiet on the West End Front by William Rycroft Firstly, I must declare, I know Will a little.  He used to write a wonderful blog Just William’s Luck (which you can still see) back when he was an actor.  When his long run in the West End hit War Horse ended, he moved into the publishing Read More

Novellas in November – Part 2

Running Wild by J.G. Ballard This beautifully crafted novella published in 1988 concerns one of Ballard’s favourite themes – life in a community that walls itself away from the rest of the world. It is set in an exclusive housing estate of just ten houses, each on a large plot. The estate is gated, has Read More

The Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year 2018 Bloggers Event

Last year I was privileged to be on the official Shadow Judges Panel for this super award – you can read about my experiences here. One of the key events in the awards calendar each year is the Bloggers Event which is held at the Groucho Club in London, and I was delighted to be Read More

Two recent Shiny reviews…

I’m off to London today for the annual PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year blogger’s do at the Groucho (yes, I’m name-dropping), so here are links to my two Shiny reviews this week. Either would make wonderful Christmas presents…. Eye of the Shoal by Helen Scales Marine biologist Scales, having previously written books Read More