Monthly Archives: August 2009

An eloquently written misery memoir, long but loaded with nuggets of the author’s wit and bite

Closing Time by Joe Queenan I have enjoyed all the Joe Queenan books I’ve read, particularly The Unkindest Cut: How a Hatchet-Man Critic Made His Own $7,000 Movie and Put It All on His Credit Card.  Queenan is a journalist and author, having written for the New York Times and The Guardian amongst others, where his acerbic wit and eloquent ranting… Read more »

My Life According to Books I Have Read

I got this fun meme from Kay at The Infinite Shelf. Using only books you have read this year (2009), cleverly answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think! * Describe Yourself: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo * How do you feel: Cloud Busting * Describe where you currently live:… Read more »

A book with mischievious intent, that doesn’t entirely live up to its promise

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith If you look at all the reviews, you’ll see that this monster mash-up of the beloved novel has totally split opinions of those who have read it. I’ll tell you mine after a bit of explanation. Zombies have been plaguing the English countryside for years. It’s no longer safe… Read more »

Rude Awakenings!

Maybe it’s my current reading (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith), but I’ve been having vivid dreams. The latest of which consisted of a science experiment at school involving woodlice which transmogrified into giant maggots (remember the Pertwee vintage Dr Who with maggots – but not quite so big and scary) which then hatched into… Read more »

She sells sea shells by the sea shore

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier This is the story of two women in the early 1800s – fossil hunters who played an important part in the beginnings of the evolutionary debate. Elizabeth Philpott and her younger sisters have to move after their brother marries; not being able to afford to live in Brighton, they choose Lyme Regis where the youngest… Read more »

What my cricket-mad brother is reading and listening to …

After my Mum obliged my request to make some remarks on the blog about her recent reading, I asked my brother if he was interested in doing the same some time. Within an hour or two he had supplied me with the paragraphs below – not keen at all! As you will see, three out of four items are cricket… Read more »

Good Clean Spy Fun – with a spot of murder, and a good dose of drugs …

The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler When I saw that Penguin were reissuing five of Ambler’s novels in their Modern Classics series, the choice of which to read first was easy – I picked The Mask of Dimitrios. Apart from having been published during the same year as Chandler’s The Big Sleep, this novel is famous for being the… Read more »

What my Mum is reading

Being between books to review at the moment, I asked my 70-something Mum what she’s reading. She probably reads more books than I do, and every time I see her she borrows a bagful or two. She always returns them with sticky notes on telling me what she thought. She reads widely, and dare I say it, has similar tastes… Read more »

My new cult faves have arrived – WooHoo!

I’m now the proud owner of two new cult faves – which to read first? The Booker longlisted Me Cheeta, the ‘autobiography’ of the Hollywood star chimp. Our book group has chosen this for our October book, but I can’t wait that long to read it. Or should I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an inventive adaptation of the… Read more »

Griff does Abingdon!

I’ve just got back from a very entertaining evening in Abingdon in the company of Griff Rhys Jones, along with half the town it seemed. It was a sell out event and the Guildhall was absolutely full. Brits need no introduction to Griff – he’s been on our telly screens for about three decades now – initially as a comedian,… Read more »

Powerful prose wrought from chemistry and music…

Solo by Rana Dasgupta I read Dasgupta’s first novel Tokyo Cancelled back in 2007 and it was one of the most original debut novels I’ve read in recent years; it has really stayed with me. A modern take on the Canterbury Tales, Tokyo Cancelled is really a linked story cycle in which a group of passengers stranded in an airport… Read more »

A solid and enjoyable police procedural

Spider Trap by Barry Maitland Barry Maitland is the author of a series of nine crime novels so far featuring the detective team of ‘Brock and Kolla’. Some years ago, I remember reading one of the earlier ones, The Chalon Heads, which was set in the world of stamp collecting. A plot involving gangsters and forgers behind the philately made an… Read more »

From Wilson to Thatcher – what a decade!

When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies by Andy Beckett The 1970s were my formative years. I was ten years old in 1970, so I was a Seventies teenager.  My 1970s were full of being a teenybopper with my beloved David Cassidy, girl guides then the youth club, and the hard graft of O and A levels, culminating… Read more »

A slow-burning yet rewarding novel

How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall I hugely enjoy reading all the buzz about the Booker Prize, but I normally don’t indulge in any deliberate speculative reading, preferring to pick and choose a select few short/longlisted titles after the event. Today though I can say I’m totally with it just this once, having started to read Hall’s… Read more »