Mid-week Catch-up…

An afternoon in Oxford with Rebecca I had a lovely lightly bookish afternoon in Oxford yesterday with Rebecca (aka Bookish Beck). We met at Blackwell’s – where better in Oxford, and both being on a budget headed upstairs to the sale/second hand section on the top floor of the main shop – where we spent Read More

3 shorter reviews – Bissell, Hunter, Ross

Barnhill by Norman Bissell After the end of WWII, George Orwell left London to live in a remote farmhouse on Jura in the Hebrides. It was there at ‘Barnhill’ that he brought together all the ideas that had been fermenting in his brain into the book that became 1984. Bissell’s novel tells the story of Read More

A Post-Nuclear Locked Room Mystery!

The Last by Hanna Jameson An American historian, Jon Keller, is at a conference in a remote hotel in the Swiss Alps when the the news that the world is at nuclear war comes through, major cities across the globe are being wiped out. Should he try to return to America while he still can Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #6

It’s the spreadsheet that keeps on giving. Here are five more capsule reviews that I wrote pre-blog. All these ones are from 2006 or earlier – and the authors all happen to begin with ‘B’… The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke (1987) In the creation of Dave Robicheaux, Burke has created a one of Read More

20 Books of Summer: #7 & #8 – a Barnes duo

When I picked my 20 books, I managed to include two by Julian Barnes, for I forgot that Julian Barnes wrote a series of crime novels in the 1980s under a pseudonym – Dan Kavanagh, (Kavanagh being the maiden name of his wife). So I read the two back to back – which worked very Read More

A ‘Grimm’ Italian Psycho-thriller

Sanctuary by Luca D’Andrea Translated by Howard Curtis and Katherine Gregor While I did enjoy reading this new Italian psycho-thriller, it turned out to be rather a different animal to what I’d expected from the blurb. Right from the beginning there is a different edge to it: Two light knocks and these words: Nibble, nibble, Read More

Book Group read – ‘Turtle’

Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman Our theme for our August book had been a random one – ‘Turtle’! There were a few potential choices, including Russell Hoban’s Turtle Diary, and Terry Pratchett of course , but the book we finally picked was Alice Hoffman’s 1992 novel Turtle Moon. Hoffman is a prolific but always enjoyable Read More

3 From the Library – Nunez, Greenlaw, Mandel

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez I’m not really much of a dog-lover, but as a mad cat lady in training I do know what it is to bond with an animal. I simply adored this book, which speaks on so many levels about friendship and bereavement, as experienced by humans and animals. The lifelong best Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Wild card for the hols

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. Links in titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month – the starting book is a wild card – the book you ended your last chain with, which for me was: Sharp Read More

20 Books of Summer #5 & #6 – Greer & Hustvedt

I’d expected to read more books in July than my list shows, having been on ‘school holidays’ since July 5, (although slaving at home on and off for a fortnight on the School magazine). But then I look at my bed – which is where the books I’m reading tend to sit – and there Read More

Women in Translation – Top 100 – My Nominations

This year for the annual #WITmonth in August, our host Meytal at Biblibio has decided to curate a list of the top 100 women in translation. Everyone is invited to join in and let Meytal know. Here are how it’s going to work: Here are my nominations. Links to my reviews are in the titles: Read More

A sequel I couldn’t wait to read…

The Missing of Clairdelune: The Mirror Visitor Book 2 by Christelle Dabos Translated by Hildegarde Serle One of the best books I read last year was a chunkster in translation – the first volume of four, no less. A political and dystopian, fantasy adventure, written with YA readers in mind, A Winter’s Promise was just Read More

20 Books of Summer #3 & #4 – Kurkov and Pinol

I’m already behind on reading and reviewing the pile of 20 books I selected (here), but I’m not a challenge completist! Anything that spurs me to reduce my TBR by a book or two is good. Today, I have two in translation for you. The Gardener from Ochakov by Andrey Kurkov Translated from the Russian Read More

In short – some recent reads

Bookworm by Lucy Mangan Oh, what a nostalgia trip this book was. There has been so much love for it all over the blogosphere, and quite right too. I rediscovered so many books I’d forgotten, I might even re-read some of them. There were others I’ve never read but would like to – can you Read More

Book Group report – July – ‘Fire’

After the Fire by Will Hill This was our book group choice for July. Our theme was ‘Fire’ – and we all liked the sound of this novel inspired by the Waco cult, not realising that it was a YA book at the time. Over the years we have read a handful of YA novels, Read More

Some not-as-good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #5

For the fifth in my series of posts in which I bring you the short capsule reviews I used to write pre-blog. I’m turning my attention to some novels that didn’t quite make the grade this time. This batch are all from 2007 or earlier. The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun Read More

Two recent science books

Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity by Jamie Metzl Genetic engineering is a controversial topic, and news coverage is generally lacking in proper detail or hopelessly biased one way or another. There are so many scare stories, alongside the fantastic developments that will undoubtedly be helpful to mankind. The words ‘genetic engineering’ Read More

A Catch-up Interlude – My own private film festival

I love movies and I have shelves of unwatched DVDS. This week I’ve been watching a film or two a day – here’s a few words about what I’ve seen… Arrival 12 alien spaceships arrive on Earth, distributed around the globe. Each host nation races to be the first to discover why they are there. Read More

Spooks v Terrorists

A Fatal Game by Nicholas Searle I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the blog tour for Nicholas Searle’s latest novel, for there is not much I enjoy reading more than a spy story. A Fatal Game is Searle’s third novel; his first The Good Liar, a psychological thriller, has been filmed with Helen Mirren Read More

A Mexican tragedy – a thriller as reportage

Call Him Mine by Tim MacGabhann the book you have in front of you now – isn’t quite a nonfiction novel, and it’s most certainly not news, but it’s not quite fiction, either. In Mexico, there’s a strong tradition of the crónica, a hybrid form that owes its subjectivity to reportage, its questioning of onjectivity Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Where the Wild Things Are

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. Links in titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. So without further ado, our starting book this month is … Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak As Read More

20 Books of Summer #1 & #2: Rooney & Torday

Red Joan by Jennie Rooney You may remember the case of Melita Norwood, a British civil servant who passed secrets to the KGB for around 30 years after 1937. She wasn’t uncovered until 1999, but wasn’t prosecuted, dying in 2005, aged 93. Red Joan, Rooney’s 2013 novel was inspired by Norwood’s story (the recent film adaptation directed by Read More

Guest Post: TJ Gorton on the inspiration for his novel Only the Dead

Quartet is an indie publisher that always publishes interesting books – indeed they describe themselves as having ‘a fine tradition of pursuing an alternative to the mainstream’. So when I was invited to join the blog tour for their latest novel to be published, I said yes but knowing my review pile was teetering opted Read More

Indie Bookshop Week: Katherine Rundell & Lucy Mangan

Each year the bods that run Independent Bookshop Week commission an author to write an essay about books and reading, published as a little single: Philip Pullman, Robert MacFarlane, Julian Barnes, Anne Patchett and Mark Forsyth among them, and initially only available from independent bookshops. These little books have always been a couple of quid Read More

Life as a WPC

On the Line by Alice Vinten We are all fascinated by other peoples’ lives these days. Narrative non-fiction as publishers call the mixture that includes history, politics, biography and memoir – any non-fiction that tells a story. Doctors and surgeons’ memoirs, have been joined by nurses, midwives, chefs, firemen, barristers and more, and now by Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #4

I’ve plundered my master spreadsheet yet again to bring you more of my capsule reviews from my pre-blog years. This batch are all from 2007… Babycham Night: A childhood at the end of the pier by Philip Norman Renowned author and biographer of The Beatles, Philip Norman grew up on the Isle of Wight after Read More