Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #8

I’m busy reading a fiction chunkster (no, not the Ellmann!), and several non-fiction titles, so full reviews will have to wait. Instead, here’s more of my notes from 2007 on some books I enjoyed back then… In the place of fallen leaves by Tim Pears Slow to get into, but growing more rewarding with each Read More

Python at 50, and my Life of Brian story…

Inspired by Calmgrove’s Python post, posted on the actual anniversary of the first ever episode, here’s my own Python tribute a few days late. I was only 9 when Monty Python was first broadcast so was too young to catch it the first time around, but when they repeated it in the later 1970s I Read More

In Brief:

Catching up on books read with short reviews… Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi Translated by Geoffrey Trousselot A short Japanese novel about time travel set in a café was always going to have to be read by me! It ticks all the boxes on the face of it, and I was hoping Read More

Cheltenham Literature Festival 70th Anniversary Blog Tour

2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the  Cheltenham Literature Festival, held this year from 4th to 13th October. This year school commitments preclude me from going, but I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate this festival. In keeping with my new-found passion for poetry, I hope you enjoy the Read More

A dark and complex techno-thriller

This is Gomorrah by Tom Chatfield Published earlier this summer, this techno-thriller was very thought-provoking – it will lead any reader to question the world as portrayed on the web, and how terrorists and hackers are using it to further their own aims by going dark. The plot follows Azi, a hacker from East Croydon Read More

Book vs TV – which came first for this one?

State of the Union by Nick Hornby Are you watching State of the Union on the telly? (Sunday evenings on BBC2 at 10 – or the complete series on iPlayer). I pre-ordered the book, then the BBC made the series available on iPlayer before starting showing it on BBC2, so I started watching it and Read More

Which author have I read the most books by?

There are several authors who I own many books by, and have read a fair few of them – Peter Ackroyd, Paul Auster, Beryl Bainbridge, Iain (M) Banks and Georges Simenon lead the pack, each having between 22 and 25 books on my shelves. But there is one prolific author who I no longer own Read More

The Book Lucy Ellmann wrote before Ducks, Newburyport

Mimi by Lucy Ellmann Although I know it’s really readable, I am still putting off getting started on Ellman’s Booker shortlisted (and tipped to win?) doorstop of a novel, Ducks, Newburyport. I tell myself it’s because as a Galley Beggar subscriber I have the limited edition black cover and I don’t want to break the Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #7

I do have full book reviews coming soon, but to fill the gap (again), here is another round-up of some pre-blog capsule reviews that I wrote back in 2006 for you. Crucifix Lane by Kate Mosse The world is just the same but also oh so different 11 years into the future in Kate Mosse’s Read More

Literary Genre Fiction – let’s discuss

Earlier this week, Rebecca took part in a tag on the subject of literary fiction (see here), and after defining what literary fiction is for you and picking some examples, the tag asks, “Name a brilliant literary-hybrid genre novel.” Rebecca chose The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell – which I read many years ago, and Read More

A dystopian response to 9/11

Then by Julie Myerson I read Myerson’s fifth novel, Something Might Happen, back in 2004 – this was before I started writing capsule reviews, but I did make a note about this book, “Emotional and profound,” I wrote, giving it 8/10. That novel explored the effects of a woman’s murder on the local community – Read More

Incoming…

It’s not often that I do one of these posts these days, but I had two recent great charity shop visits. Please note – I refuse to use the words ‘book haul’ to describe my purchases, it’s an ugly term. The word ‘haul’ to me infers a bit of a chore, which buying books can Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: A Gentleman in Moscow

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 the titles will take you to my reviews. This month – the starting book is: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles One of my favourite books of recent years. Read More

Two recent reads – one prose, one poetry

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale This was our book group read for August, which we discussed earlier this week – and we scored yet another hit! I certainly loved this novel, and although not all in the group quite shared my enthusiasm for it, everyone seemed to enjoy it. Often, when we all Read More

A perplexing thriller and a new trope: ‘Nuclear Noir’

The Carrier by Mattias Berg Translated from the Swedish by George Goulding This thriller has a premise and a half to keep you reading. Imagine you’re on a state visit and the agent who is never more than a few feet from POTUS, the agent called Erasmus Levine carrying the briefcase with the nuclear launch Read More

Finally, a book for WIT month

Scraping in at the tail end of August, I finally managed to read a book for the month-long celebration of Women in Translation, hosted by Meytal at Biblibio. Meytal has also been compiling a top 100 WIT books – everyone was invited to send in their top tens (mine is here) – and the final, Read More

Return to Wigtown

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell Bythell owns Scotland’s largest secondhand bookshop in the self-proclaimed Book Town of Wigtown in Galloway, south-west Scotland. His book Diary of a Bookseller (reviewed here) was a big hit in 2017, and for anyone returning for this second volume, it is comfortingly more of the same. The first Read More

Brookmyre and Broomfield

Given their adjacency in my A-Z list of authors reviewed, and the similar blue tones in their book covers, it seems a good idea to review these two books in one post, despite them being very different to each other! Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre It’s been far too long since I read one of Read More

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