In the Woods

What ‘Elle Thinks’ is Right … Tana French is Fab!

In the Woods by Tana French Every time Eleanor of Elle Thinks mentions Tana French (the latest being here), I say ‘I must read one of her books’. Tana French is one of Eleanor’s go-to comfort reads, and she is always recommending her.  Well, now I have read French’s first novel, and I can see Read More

Italian Lit Month

An amoral anti-hero for Italian Lit Month

  The Goodbye Kiss by Massimo Carlotto Translated by Lawrence Venuti There’s dark, and then there’s dark! You know what I mean, we’re talking the super-noir of Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me or Simenon’s Dirty Snow here…  Lean and mean novels with an amoral anti-hero at their hearts. This is the case for the protagonist Read More

Revenge Lawn

Book Group Report – ‘Green’

  At the moment, our book group chooses books by picking a key word for members to make pitches based on – we’re currently working our way through some colours. For ‘green’ we had a varied group of suggestions: Plot 29 by Allan Jenkins – a memoir about two brothers rescued from care in the Read More


Shows how hard it is to pull off a literary thriller…

Lullaby by Leïla Slimani Translated by Sam Taylor     The baby is dead. It took only a few seconds.   This French bestseller has such a killer first line – they put it on the front cover. You’re left with no doubt that ‘The Perfect Nanny‘ (as this book has been titled in the Read More

Six Degrees Beauty myth

Six Degrees of Separation: The Beauty Myth

  Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Click on the titles to go to my reviews.  Our starting book this month is the feminist classic: The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf Wolf’s  bestselling Read More


A return to Joe Thomas’s Sao Paulo

Gringa by Joe Thomas At around this time last year, I read the first in a new crime series set in Sao Paulo (reviewed here for Shiny).  Joe Thomas lived and taught in São Paulo, the most populous city in the Americas and Southern Hemisphere, for ten years. His observations and experience of living in this Read More

educated (1)

Get ‘Educated’ in Abingdon

Coming soon – an evening with Tara Westover The next book I’ll be reading will be Educated by Tara Westover (right). Published this week, Tara’s memoir is of growing up off-grid in the hills of Idaho sounds fascinating. Her father spent his time preparing for the end of the world, her mother worked as an unqualified Read More

diary bookseller

Bookselling highs and lows…

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell A couple of years ago, my fantasy of buying a bookshop could have come true – one of my local indie bookshops was up for sale. I just about had the money and the shop was ticking along nicely (thanks to the hard work put in by Read More

Longlist stack copy_2

The Wellcome Book Prize 2018

One of my favourite prizes of the year, the Wellcome Book Prize longlist for 2018 has just been announced. The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates ” the many ways in which literature can illuminate the breadth and depth of our relationship with health, medicine and illness.” The shortlist will be announced on Tuesday, March 20th, and the Read More


The Second Outing for the Anti-Miss Marple in Sicily…

  Auntie Poldi and the Fruits of the Lord by Mario Giordano Translated from the German by John Brownjohn I was delighted to encounter the first Auntie Poldi book last year. The adventures of an irrepressible sixty-year-old German lady who retires to her late ex-husband’s ancestral home in Sicily, hoping to “fulfil one of her dearest Read More

Memento Mori

Reading Muriel 2018 – an early novel

  Memento Mori by Muriel Spark (1959) This is one of the Spark novels I’ve been meaning to read for years – so it’s great to be able to join in on Phase 1 of Heavenali’s #ReadingMuriel2018 year. An added bonus is being able to read from my late mum’s Penguin first edition paperback, yellowed Read More


The Beautiful Young Things behaved so badly…

  Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh This was our book group choice this month. Unfortunately we ended up not meeting to discuss it, but the emails swapped afterwards confirmed one thing – none of us loved it, and most found it a perplexing bore. This is strange for I’ve read several other Waughs over the Read More


Ranking Persephones…

While I haven’t managed to read a Persephone book so far during the Persephone Readathon hosted by Dwell in Possibility blog, I have been inspired by Simon’s recent post in which he ranks the Persephone books he has read, which is an amazing 57!  At the end of his post he says ” I’d love it if Read More

Summary Jutice

A rather different kind of barrister…

Summary Justice by John Fairfax John Fairfax is a pen name for William Brodrick, who wrote the well-regarded Father Anselm mysteries. Brodrick was a practising barrister before giving up the law for becoming a writer, so I immediately had high hope for this new series of legal thrillers with a most fascinating pair of protagonists. Read More

Six Degrees Lincoln Bardo

Six Degrees of Separation: Lincoln in the Bardo

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders …is our starting point this month.  Lots of ways to go from here – US Presidents obviously, and having looked Read More

Bowie Book Club 1

Duncan Jones’s Bowie Book Club #1

After David Bowie died, (was it really over two years ago? it feels like yesterday), I added my own ‘Bowie Book Club‘ page to my blog with his 100 favourite books. I had no plans to read them systematically, but hoped to read or re-read at least a few of them, and read about some Read More

hunter handler

Two novellas, vignette style, but oh so different!

I really enjoy a good novella, one-sitting stories. One writing style that seems to particularly suit novellas is a story told in vignettes – each section a paragraph or two, at most a couple of pages. They often cut the story down to the bare bones, leaving you to read much between the lines – Read More