Monthly Archives: January 2009

A Life’s Music by Andrei Makine

Last week I wrote here about Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith, a thriller set in Stalin’s USSR, with train tracks on the cover. Well I followed it up with another book set in Stalin’s USSR some years earlier during the war, which also has a railway line on the cover, but that’s where the similarity ends. A Life’s Music… Read more »

John Martyn R.I.P.

Just heard that one of the greats of jazz-folk John Martyn has died. He was only 60 and was made an OBE in the New Years Honours just recently. I never got to see him live, and only really discovered his music in 1991 when he released The Apprentice as it featured Dave Gilmour, but that was a good starting… Read more »

An armchair traveller’s delight

The Travel Book by Lonely Planet Here’s my full written review… This is the new smaller format edition of Lonely Planet’s previous coffee table giant, but it’s still a doorstoppingly thick brick of a book! It has to be 900 pages to give even the tiniest snapshot of every country in the world, (plus a few territories etc). However being… Read more »

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

This book comes with a bit of baggage. A debut novel, and thriller no less, set in Stalinist Russia. Its publishers gave it a massive publicity campaign, and got it longlisted for the 2008 Booker. Instant controversy – thrillers can’t be literary can they? Well yes they can, you only have to think of John Le Carre or Graham Greene,… Read more »

My Tango with Barbara Strozzi by Russell Hoban

This was my first visit to Hobanville – why it’s taken me so long I don’t know, but I’m keen to go again really soon. Underlying My Tango with Barbara Strozzi is a traditional boy meets girl romance, cleverly told by the two would-be lovers’ voices alternating chapter by chapter, but on top are layers of quirkiness. Just the thing… Read more »

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Written as an intimate diary in letter form to an unknown addressee, this novel chronicles the first year in High School of Charlie. Charlie has a tendency to be rather passive, introspective, and prone to burst into tears; well – his best friend has recently committed suicide! Though quiet, Charlie is clever which is recognised by Bill, his English teacher… Read more »

The Pianist’s Hands by Eugenio Fuentes

This is a crime novel with a difference – where the crime itself, or rather the investigation, doesn’t play much of a part. Instead it’s all about getting under the skin of the main characters, finding out all their foibles and weak points, until the murderer’s identity can be divined. It starts out telling us about the unnamed pianist who,… Read more »

Do the Hustle

AnnaBookBel   January 9, 2009   No Comments on Do the Hustle

The new series of Hustle started on the BBC last night, and as always it began with style, panache and tongue in cheek. Mickey Stone (Adrian Lester) was in Sydney being chased so he dives into the opera house, picks up a naval Commander’s costume and finds a limo waiting outside waiting to take him to his ship – so… Read more »

Three from the archives …

Let me introduce you to three books I particularly enjoyed reading back in 2006 … Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen Life in a travelling circus was hard, and when anything happened to upset the equilibrium it became brutal, as this well-researched novel details. These crises come one after the other here making this book a real page turner. Set… Read more »

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

I was so looking forward to reading this book. I was hoping it would dish some dirt on Star Wars, working with Belushi in The Blues Brothers, being married to Paul Simon, writing four fab novels and script-doctoring, what it’s really like to be bipolar …. What a life Carrie Fisher has had! Unfortunately we don’t get nearly enough of… Read more »


AnnaBookBel   January 4, 2009   No Comments on M.I.A.

Although we have several thousand books in our house, I pride myself on knowing exactly where every book is – be it on shelf or in pile. Today I went to the shelf to get my copy of The Reader by Bernard Schlink to promote it to my reading next pile as the film is due out soon. But could… Read more »

One down ….

AnnaBookBel   January 3, 2009   No Comments on One down ….

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell I’ve just finished my first book in 2009, although started in 2008. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is an immensely readable analysis of what makes epidemics happen. However its not really about nasty diseases, although they do feature, but more about business and marketing. It is not just a social science book, but… Read more »