Educated Miss Laila

Review Catch-up…

Life is rather busy, and I’m terribly behind on my reviews. So here is a batch of reviews and links for you… Educated by Tara Westover This memoir of growing up in an unconventional setting and how the author escaped to discover the world outside was absolutely compelling reading, Westover grew up off-grid in Idaho, Read More

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2017 in First Lines

This is a fun meme, giving a snapshot of one’s reading through the year – not necessarily an accurate sample, but fun. The title links will take you to my reviews. January:  Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis ‘They made a silly mistake, though,’ the Professor of History said, and his smile, as Dixon watched, gradually Read More

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Some Literary Fireworks…

There are many, many mentions of fireworks in novels – but mostly in the metaphorical sense, so I went searching for some mentions of the real thing to share: “Borkin: Ladies and gentlemen, why are you so glum? Sitting there like a jury after it’s been sworn in! … Let’s think up something. What would Read More

Science of Food

An Exploration of What We Eat and How we Cook

The Science of Food by Marty Jopson You may be familiar with Marty Jopson from the occasional science films he does for programmes like The One Show.  He may have become an entertaining science boffin on telly and stage with his live show, but he has a PhD in cell biology and his mother was Read More

Shiny Aug Posts

My August Shiny posts…

This month I wrote quite a few posts for Shiny New Books, here’s a summary of those I haven’t already mentioned: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce Although a more conventionally plotted ‘will they ever get together’ type of romance than the bestselling The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, (see my review of that here), Read More

3 novellas aug 2017

Three Short Novels – Simenon – Fitzgerald – Johnston

Georges Simenon – The Grand Banks Café Translated by David Coward Maigret and Mrs Maigret are about to go on holiday. Mrs Maigret is packing as Maigret reads a letter that’s arrived from an old friend. “…Listen, are you still set on passing our week’s holiday in Alsace?” She stared at him, not understanding. The Read More

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20 Books of Summer

This year, rather than do Book Bingo, I’m going to join in with Cathy of 746 Books and do the 20 Books of Summer challenge. I’ve chosen my 20 books. All are books I’ve acquired, not review copies. I make no apology for none of them being chunky – but choosing slimmer volumes, it might Read More

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‘The honey and cider-vinegar way to health’

Folk Medicine by D.C. Jarvis M.D. Sorting through a pile of old small size paperbacks that came from my mum’s, I came across this gem. My mum was fascinated by health matters in the press, and prone to believing in all sorts of fringe medicine. She had her hair tinted several shades lighter because she Read More

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Meanwhile, over at Shiny…

I have two reviews from the past couple of weeks, I haven’t shared here yet… The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott Jake Arnott’s novels are moving back in time. He started in the 1960s and 1970s with his Long Firm trilogy, (the first of which I reviewed here), then he moved back to WWII followed Read More

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A great comfort at year-end

Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook by Clive James Whatever is happening outside, a new book by Clive James is always a comfort to read – something you can’t say about many other (predominantly) non-fiction writers, except Bill Bryson. I grew up reading James’ TV reviews in the Observer every weekend – looking forward to the Read More

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YA adventure in Revolutionary France

Blade and Bone by Catherine Johnson This book was published to coincide with October’s Black History Month, so I fear my review is a little late, however, better late than never and this was a YA book well worth reading. Blade and Bone is the sequel to Sawbones which is where we would have first met Read More

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The Bookish Time Travel Tag!

I was tagged in this meme which is on it’s travels around the bookblogs by Kaggsy, but it was started by The Library Lizard. I couldn’t not give it a go… 1. What is your favourite historical setting for a book? If you did the stats on books I’ve read, it would probably come up Read More

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Books Are My Bag & a local book sale – My super Saturday book haul

It’s Books Are My Bag BAMB day at independent bookshops in the UK. Each year the BAMB team commission a limited edition bookbag. Last year was Grayson Perry’s typically challenging but great fun design – see right. This year, however, they have commissioned a bag you can take out without having to check which side Read More

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Reading as if his life depends on it…

This post has be republished in its original place in my blog’s time-line, having been ‘lost’ when I transferred my domain in 2016. Latest Readings by Clive James I was supposed to review this book for the latest issue of Shiny, but just couldn’t write it up in time, so Simon obliged with a review for Shiny Read More

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Shirley Jackson Reading Week 2015

  This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. It’s Shirley Jackson Reading Week – hosted by Simon, Jenny and Ana. I had been planning just to scan the posts as my pile of books I must read (e.g. Anthony Powell) is rather large, but what hey! Why not read a book too? It’s not Read More

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Poor but mostly happy …

This Boy by Alan Johnson Politicians’ memoirs are not the norm for me to read when I choose non-fiction. Alan Johnson may be a fine politician, (and many think that Labour would be in a much better place if he had stood to become leader) but this volume doesn’t cover his later career, just his Read More

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Thoughts on my header photo

I’ve been mostly writing reviews for Shiny New Books this week after finishing Frog Music, but wanted to write something on the blog for the weekend… My eye caught my header photo which when taken a few years ago, I compiled a shelf of favourite reads over the years, mostly those getting a full five stars from Read More

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The stages of a widow’s grief

The Widow’s Tale by Mick Jackson A recently widowed woman in her early sixties flees her London home and well-meaning but irritating friends. She rents a cottage in a North Norfolk village, telling no-one where she’s gone. There, she gradually works her grief out – all the classic stages of denial, anger, what ifs, depression Read More

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Ten Books that Represent Great Britain

A couple of days ago, Simon at Savidge Reads and Thomas at My Porch created a new meme (Yes Simon, I know you didn’t want to call it a meme, but it is one – a nice one!). The challenge is to pick ten books that sum up your own country geographically but authors from that Read More

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Life by the tracks …

Train Dreams by Denis Johnson I couldn’t bring myself to spend £12.99 on the hardback of this novella, but now it is out in paperback I snapped it up as I’d heard great things about it – and wilderness novels always seem to appeal to me. Train Dreams tells the life story of Robert Grainier, Read More

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From Here to Eternity – first thoughts …

One of the books I’m currently reading is James Jones’s doorstop of a novel From Here to Eternity.  First published in 1951, it’s set in Hawaii, and follows the peacetime exploits of G company in the months immediately preceding Pearl Harbor and the USA’s entry into WWII in 1941. It has just been republished with Read More

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From the Silk Road to Norwood

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar by Suzanne Joinson It’s 1923. Evangeline English is accompanying her sister Lizzie as part of a Christian mission to Kashgar, in Western China on the ancient Silk Road route. Eva in turn is accompanied by her trusty bicycle. She keeps a diary about their expedition which she plans to Read More

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Stieg Larsson meets Forrest Gump but way better …

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, translated by Rod Bradbury You might think he could have made up his mind earlier, and been man enough to tell the others of his decision. But Allan Karlsson had never been given to pondering things too long. So the idea Read More

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‘Finishing’ in 1930s Munich

Winter Games by Rachel Johnson Upon receiving Rachel Johnson’s latest novel, a  tale of toffs being ‘finished’ in pre-war Germany, I dove in straight away and devoured it. The cover refreshingly has a headed young woman with her face showing on, which makes a nice change to the usual headless or back views we’re subjected Read More

Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Republished back into my blog’s timeline from my old blog., combined  2012 posts from author event and book review… World Book Night 2012 in Abingdon with Rachel Joyce I spent the evening of World Book Night at Abingdon Library in the company of Rachel Joyce – the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I Read More

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“I would walk 500 miles” – well 627 actually…

The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce This is a road novel, but with a difference.  Harold Fry used to rep for the brewery, but he’s now retired.  He has nothing to do but get in his wife Maureen’s way.  He’s in a rut, they’re in a rut, basically ever since their son Read More

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A brilliantly entertaining “Not a Sherlock Holmes” novel…

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R King Novels which adopt other authors’ characters can be a bit hit or miss – I think I was the only person who thoroughly enjoyed PD James’s Pride & Prejudice sequel. With the benefit of hindsight, I totally saw it as a continuation of the TV series though, rather than Read More

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The Baroness takes on Austen

Death Comes to Pemberleyby P D James Novels that take on the classics have a chequered history, and will always be subjected to increased scrutiny to see if they live up to the premise.  Jane Eyre, Rebecca, and Gone with the wind, for instance, have all had prequels, sequels and adapations written with varying degrees Read More

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Old reviews from Feb 2011: Jones – Lukas – Nicholls

A novel of ‘Great expectations’ – Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones With its lovely cover, and the promise of Dickensian fun in paradise, I was easily lured into this novel.  I’ll admit that having missed most of the hype about it when it came out, I was expecting a soft and lightly humorous novel along the Read More