Schimmelpfennig

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

Abbess

#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

Rathbones Folio

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

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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 Geisha

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

Baltic Books Blog Tour

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

Memento Mori

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

persephonereadathon-1

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 Lincoln Bardo

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

nutshell bilodo

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

Snow Crash

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

Kal Wang Swift

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

Ecco Xmas Stories

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

Lemaitre Spark Weiner

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

Quick Suggs Kehlmann

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

6 degrees wild swans

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

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

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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

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

6 Degress P&P

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

midweekmisc

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

6 degress hanging rock

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Picnic at Hanging Rock

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. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay This month’s starting point is a book I’ve not read. I haven’t seen Peter Weir’s acclaimed film either.  I struggled to Read More

Stiastny 2

Old colleagues, old friends, old foes

Conflicts of Interest by Terry Stiastny Review & Q&A Terry Stiastny is a former BBC News reporter and she kindly answered some questions for me about her new novel, which follow my review below. I very much enjoyed Terry’s first novel, reviewed here, Acts of Omission is a thoughtful political spy thriller moving between Berlin and Read More

P&P&Z

A book with mischievous intent, that nearly lives up to its promise

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith As I’ve been reading and revisiting a lot of Austen-ish books, sequels, adaptations and novels inspired by Austen for Shiny New Books upcoming ‘Austen Week’ (from Mon 17th July), I thought it time to dust down, update and repost my review of Pride & Read More

6 Degrees June Shopgirl

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Shopgirl

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 was suggested by me! Shopgirl by Steve Martin I read this book and saw the film last year – read my full review Read More

Nomad

The man they couldn’t kill…

Nomad by James Swallow Swallow’s  espionage  thriller comes blazoned with a sticker saying ‘For  fans of I am Pilgrim‘ – a  900+ page, but apparently brilliant, book  I’ve yet to read.    The veteran author Wilbur Smith says it’s ‘Unputdownable’  and it has an intriguing cover blending Arabic and circuit boards.   It got me Read More

Room film tie-in

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Room

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, this meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six steps. This month’s starting point is: Room by Emma Donaghue This is a book that I haven’t read (nor have a particular desire to read). However, if the movie adaptation came on Read More

Grant Wood American Gothic

It’s been a busy week…

I am nearly in possession of a newly rebuilt conservatory. The old one was single glazed and rotting away – you could see the outdoors at the corners of some windows where the wood was falling off. I managed to get a good deal to have all the glass replaced with UPVC, latest technology with Read More