Six Degrees of Separation: A Christmas Carol

Better late than never – here’s my go this month.  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. Our starting book this month is … A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Dickens’ classic tale of redemption at Christmas. I could have Read More

Review catch-up

In an attempt to clear my pile of yet to be reviewed books, here are some capsule reviews: Beryl Bainbridge by Master Georgie Many consider Bainbridge’s later novel from 1998 to be her best – it won the ‘Best of Beryl Booker Prize’.  Personally, on a first reading, it didn’t do it for me in Read More

Two recent Shiny reviews…

I’m off to London today for the annual PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year blogger’s do at the Groucho (yes, I’m name-dropping), so here are links to my two Shiny reviews this week. Either would make wonderful Christmas presents…. Eye of the Shoal by Helen Scales Marine biologist Scales, having previously written books Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Vanity Fair

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Our starting book this month is … Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray Never read it – I ought to though, for I’m sure I’d enjoy it – just Read More

Nonfiction November – My Year in Non-fiction

Nonfiction November is being hosted by Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Julie (JulzReads), and Katie (Doing Dewey). through the site What’s Nonfiction?  They have a wonderful programme mapped out for November here. The topic for the first week is “Your Year in Nonfiction ” in which we’re encouraged to Read More

Book Group Report: Purple

The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel Continuing our Book Group selections inspired by colours.  At our June meeting it was time to nominate ‘purple’ books to read in August and discuss at the beginning of September.  Our initial shortlist was: The Colour Purple by Alice Walker Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg (Wioletta being Polish for Read More

Paris in July 2018 take two: Simenon & Laurain

Two short reviews for my second contribution to Paris in July – an annual tag hosted by Thyme for Tea which I love doing each year. A Man’s Head by Georges Simenon Translated by David Coward A Man’s Head was the ninth Maigret novel, originally published in 1931, I read David Coward’s 2014 translation in the new Penguin Read More

Darkness at Dungeness…

Salt Lane by William Shaw This is the first book by William Shaw that I’ve read – he is the author of three crime novels set in the 1960s known as the ‘Breen & Tozer’ trilogy (watch out though – they have different titles in the US and UK, and there are now four in Read More

A novel with a rather long title…

One Clear Ice-cold January Morning at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century by Roland Schimmelpfennig Translated by Jamie Bulloch The worst thing about this book is its cumbersome title – which is actually the beginning of the novel’s first sentence, which continues thus: …just after daybreak, a solitary wolf crossed the frozen river marking the Read More

#ReadingMuriel2018 and the strangest little book!

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark What a strange novella this book is! It’s far from my favourite Spark, but it is possibly the most fascinating. This is because commentators have suggested that it is Spark’s response to the Watergate scandal of 1972 which led to Nixon’s impeachment in August 1974. The story opens Read More

From one book prize to another: The Rathbones Folio Prize shortlist

One of the younger book prizes, the Rathbones Folio Prize began life as the Folio Prize,  sponsored by the Folio Society in 2014.  The prize money has varied, but is currently £20,000 sponsored by the investment bank, and this year’s winner will be announced on May 8th. The prize has an interesting and unashamedly literary Read More

Before it gets recycled…

Sometimes, a book is just falling apart so much, and you have no need to keep it despite it having some sentimental value, that the best thing is to recycle it. This is the case with my Puffin Songbook. First published in 1956, mine is the second reprint from 1963. The cover is by Ronald Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Geisha

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Click on the titles to go to my reviews where they exist.  Our starting book this month is the bestselling: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden I read Read More

The Baltic Books Blog Tour #1

This year the Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – are celebrating 100 years of independence with new translations of Baltic Books coming to the UK for the first time and a series of cultural events happening across the UK. The Baltics are also being honoured as the Market Focus at London Book Fair Read More

Reading Muriel 2018 – an early novel

  Memento Mori by Muriel Spark (1959) This is one of the Spark novels I’ve been meaning to read for years – so it’s great to be able to join in on Phase 1 of Heavenali’s #ReadingMuriel2018 year. An added bonus is being able to read from my late mum’s Penguin first edition paperback, yellowed Read More

Ranking Persephones…

While I haven’t managed to read a Persephone book so far during the Persephone Readathon hosted by Dwell in Possibility blog, I have been inspired by Simon’s recent post in which he ranks the Persephone books he has read, which is an amazing 57!  At the end of his post he says ” I’d love it if Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Lincoln in the Bardo

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders …is our starting point this month.  Lots of ways to go from here – US Presidents obviously, and having looked Read More

Review catch up – again – and the problem of remembering!

Two shorter reviews of books I read last year…   Nutshell by Ian McEwan I read McEwan’s novel between Christmas and New Year, and the terrible thing is, I know I really enjoyed it. I know it was funny, outrageous and inspired by a quotation from Hamlet, yet I can’t really remember any detail about Read More

A spec fiction novel that was almost too much!

  Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson Imagine, if you can, a world where the worst thing that can happen to ordinary folk is your pizza not arriving within thirty minutes of placing the order. That is such a bad thing, that the head of the Mafia, Uncle Enzo, who runs the Cosa Nostra Pizza business Read More

Review catch-up!

I’ve rather a large pile of unreviewed books I read in 2017 to catch up on, so today I have some shorter reviews for you… When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi I love medical memoirs, especially surgeon’s tales, but occasionally a book will come along that will knock you sideways. When Breath Becomes Air Read More

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  The Ecco Book of Christmas Stories In the run up to Christmas, I’ve been reading short stories from this Canadian anthology, selected and introduced by Alberto Manguel. I thought I’d quote from some of them for Christmas Day, however,  be warned – most of these Christmas stories only have fleeting happy moments (which has Read More

Some recent reads in short…

It’s catch-up time again… Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre  While I loved Lemaitre’s Verhoeven trilogy and last year’s superbly creepy Blood Wedding, Three Days and a Life was a slight disappointment. It’s still an excellent suspense novel, but lacks the elements of surprise and immediacy that his others have shown.  It has Read More

Review catch-up

I am still behind on my reviewing, even though I seem to have unlocked my reviewer’s block – so today, I have a trio of short reviews for you… The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick This is a rare case for me of having seen the film before I read the book. I loved Read More

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Wild Swans

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. This month’s starting point is Jung Chang’s wonderful memoir of three generations of women in her family, Wild Swans. I remember loving this when it first Read More

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

A Grand Day Out: Art & Shakespeare

A diversion from literary fare today. My daughter and I went to London yesterday for a day of art and Shakespeare. It was a long day – we got home at 1am, but it was rather brilliant. Our first stop was: The House of Illustration This gallery nestles beside Central St Martin’s school of art Read More

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

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Pride & Prejudice

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Pride & Prejudice I was desperate to find a non-Austen, non-Colin Firth link but struggled for a while until i came up with (what IMHO) is a cracker. Read More

Midweek Miscellany

A rainy Wednesday seems the ideal time to catch up on many little things with you all… FIRSTLY BLOG MAINTENANCE I must apologise to those of you whose readers have been filling up with my old posts from 2010 that I’d reposted here, after they got lost in my web-host transfer. I’d gaily thought that if Read More