Category Archives: 5 Star Books

Why being ‘Messy’ is good for you…

Messy by Tim Harford Tim Harford is a senior columnist at the Financial Times but radio listeners may know him from his programme on BBC Radio 4 – More Or Less – in which he explores, explains and debunks the statistics in everyday life.  His programme is one of my favourites. (Try this episode in which he (re)analyses the apparent… Read more »

A Talking Head talks about music

How Music Works by David Byrne This book was the highlight of my splurge of non-fiction reading in December. David Byrne, founder and idiosyncratic front man of Talking Heads – one of the best punky/art-rock bands there has ever been, friend and collaborator with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp amongst others, could never be expected to write a conventional memoir… Read more »

Weekend Bookishness

It’s been a busy month – and some, so I’m glad that school breaks up at the end of next week (although I have two or three more days work to do on the school magazine after that). However, part of that busy-ness has been the Christmas edition of Shiny New Books. In The Eds Discuss article, you’ll gather that… Read more »

‘Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’.’ …

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe in a spectacular pop-up presentation by David Pelham and Christopher Wormell If ever there was a poem that was made for reading aloud, it’s The Raven, Poe’s 1845 masterpiece of rhyme, metre and repetition. (I just adore the rhymes – ‘that is’ and ‘lattice’  in the 6th verse must have inspired Tom Lehrer…). But… Read more »

Shopgirl – Film & Book

Shopgirl by Steve Martin I adore Steve Martin’s writing – see my review of his tremendous memoir Born Standing Up here, and his 2010 novel An Object of Beauty at my old blog here. I finally got around to reading his first fictional publication Shopgirl, a few weeks ago, and yesterday I watched the film, so this post will touch… Read more »

AnnaBookBel is 8!

AnnaBookBel   September 15, 2016   18 Comments on AnnaBookBel is 8!

My blog is eight years old today! It started off at Blogspot as Gaskella on September 15th 2008, eventually moving to WordPress. It was still called Gaskella at that stage, but later I changed the title to Annabel’s House of Books. Then, last summer I took the plunge and bought my own domain – annabookbel.net. I paid WordPress to redirect my old… Read more »

Great Characters, Great Adventure, Great Space!

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers This SF novel has been one of the great discoveries of recent years – a self-published kickstarter debut that was picked up by a big publisher and then longlisted for the Baileys Prize earlier this year. The book is now shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award. Although it is the… Read more »

Paris in July: Discovering Antoine Laurain

Paris in July is an annual event hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea – it’s now in its seventh year. I’ve managed to squeeze in a second Parisian read this month… The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain What a discovery this novel and its author were! Feel-good and completely charming, The President’s Hat was the perfect book to lift spirits. Daniel, an accountant,… Read more »

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: Titanic

Every Man For Himself by Beryl Bainbridge My first review for BBRW 2016 is a re-read for me – but no ordinary re-read. The Folio Society has produced a gorgeous new edition of this novel which includes Beryl’s own paintings, the first time her text and paintings have been published together. Every Man For Himself was published in 1996, five years after another icy… Read more »

My gut obsession continues – more food for thought

The Diet Myth by Tim Spector The first book I reviewed this year (Gut by Giulia Enders – review here) was a revelation to me. It created a new obsession – to improve my digestion and gut flora by eating better and hopefully losing some weight along the way. But learning about the anatomy and physiology of the gut from Gut was only half of the… Read more »

An Atwoodian YA tale…

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill It’s rare that a cover quote on a book cover sums up a novel so completely, but the one from Vagenda on one of the paperback editions of Louise O’Neill’s debut novel is near-perfect: ‘Mean Girls meets The Handmaid’s Tale’ But of course I can’t leave it there! The moment I read O’Neill’s second novel, Asking For… Read more »

Shiny New Books Issue 8

I can’t believe that when our next issue of Shiny New Books comes out at the beginning of April, we will have been going for two whole years! The last issue of our second year is out today and features the winning poem in the first Shiny Poetry  Competition – it’s lovely. Naturally, you’ll find a handful of reviews by yours truly. I’ll be… Read more »

The funniest crime novel I’ve read since I discovered Christopher Brookmyre…

One of my lost posts, republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline. Hack by Kieran Crowley If you love Christopher Brookmyre’s Jack Parlabane novels, you’re going to love this one too. Brookmyre’s Quite Ugly One Morning, which I read pre-blog,hooked me from the off – literally from it’s expletive first words! Hack however, begins in a dead-pan manner, but it is so tongue… Read more »

A Graphic Novel Excursion…

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins I read very few graphic novels, but just occasionally one will get my interest – the title of Stephen Collins’s debut book was irresistible. I bought it when it first came out at the end of 2013, but being an A4 sized hardback, it got other books piled upon it, and I… Read more »

My Books of the Year 2014 – Part Two – The Blog edit

Yesterday I shared my best reads of 2014 as reviewed for Shiny New Books. Today, I turn my attention to titles reviewed here. The links will return you to my full reviews: – Best Retro-Subversive Laugh-Out-Loud Book Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler So nearly my book of the year, Discovering Scarfolk is just hilarious! Stuck firmly in the 1970s world of public… Read more »

Not one, but two reworked fairy tales illustrated by Chris Riddell

I love Chris Riddell’s illustrations and children’s books. Amazingly he has only had one post to himself since I started this blog (see here), although he has featured in several others. Even here, he will be sharing this post with the two authors of some newly published reworked fairy tales… I had put these two books to the top of… Read more »

My new reviews at Shiny New Books

The third issue of Shiny New Books came out on Monday. Now it’s time for me to highlight some of my reviews that appear therein and point you in their direction. As it ended up, I didn’t write as many reviews for this edition, but I shall still split them into a few posts in between others. Today it’s the… Read more »

They were soldiers…

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque Translated by Brian Murdoch This remarkable novel about young German soldiers in WWI was our book group’s read for August; I had pushed strongly for a WWI-related choice for the month of the 100th anniversary of the war’s start. Several of us had already read some of Pat Barker’s Regeneration… Read more »

The Great American Dream?

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald Having adored Baz Luhrmann’s new film of The Great Gatsby (which I blogged about here), I just couldn’t wait to re-read the book. It must have been a couple of decades since I last read it, and this time, for my third re-read, I was able to use my Folio Fitzgerald set rather than a paperback, which… Read more »

To infinity …

AnnaBookBel   February 21, 2013   No Comments on To infinity …

The Explorerby James Smythe This brilliant novel’s beginning happens near the end of the story… Cormac Easton is the only remaining living astronaut on the spaceship Ishiguro. Cormac is not even a proper astronaut – he’s a journalist; his part in the team is to observe and document the voyage, to blog and film and send the footage back home. Their mission… Read more »