"This ain't no upwardly mobile freeway … This is the road to hell"

The A26 by Pascal Garnier Quite a few bloggers (notably Stu and recently Guy) have already discovered and loved the novels of Pascal Garnier, the French author of some decidedly bleak, black comedies of the purest noir! Having acquired a couple of them, I picked his short novel The A26 to begin my own exploration. Set in 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 Read More

Are there dark days coming? I don't think so …

Apocalypse Next Tuesday by David Safier A bestseller in Germany, Safier’s novel, translated by Hilary Parnfors, got me interested within a few words of the press release in which it told how Satan, who has come back to Earth as a dead ringer for George Clooney, is recruiting horsemen for the apocalypse next week. Gorgeous, Read More

What is an accident anyway?

Accidents Happen by Louise Millar I used to work for one of the world’s major chemical companies whose mantra was that there is no such thing as an accident. After too many ‘accidents’ making explosives in the 1800s, the company became intensely safety focused, and remains so today. They believe, and naturally it rubbed off Read More

The Savages are back …

American Savage by Matt Whyman Last summer I had the pleasure of reading one of the funniest YA novels I’ve yet encountered in Matt Whyman’s The Savages – don’t you just love that cover?  Although it was written as a standalone novel, so many people wondered what happened to the family in it, that Matt Read More

Riding the slipstream …

The Adjacent by Christopher Priest Today I shall direct you to another review I wrote for Shiny New Books:- The Adjacent by Christopher Priest, now out in paperback. Priest is one of those authors who defies genre, yet routinely gets categorised as a science fiction author. True his books often have some SF elements in, and The Read More

How do you define an expert scientist?

Are We All Scientific Experts Now? by Harry Collins Harry Collins is a professor at Cardiff University, where he lectures on the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK), and his areas of research include: the Nature of Scientific Knowledge and knowledge in general; public Understanding of Science; and the Nature of Skills and Expertise, amongst other topics. Read More

There are no new plots – Greek tragedy had it all!

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes Natalie Haynes may be familiar to some of you from her appearances on BBC2’s The Review Show – a TV programme of which I tend to disagree with a lot of the reviewers’ views – even Paul Read More

50th Anniversary of the Assassination of JFK

The Assassination of JFK: Minute by Minute by Jonathan Mayo I was just three and a half when JFK was assassinated, so I remained blissfully unaware of the tragedy that had happened on 22nd November 1963.  They say it’s one of those events that everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news. I’ve Read More

‘November spawned a monster’?

This post was combined from two and republished into it’s original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. Autobiography by Morrissey First thoughts: Is anyone planning to read Autobiography by Morrissey? I’ve got a copy, and am admitting to feeling daunted by it. The opening lines go like this: My childhood is streets upon Read More

Old heads on young shoulders, and yet …

Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes Narrated by an eighteen year old photographer, MacInnes’ novel captures the essence of what it was like to be a teenager in London in the late 1950s … Mr Wiz continued, masticating his salmon sandwich for anyone to see, ‘It’s been a two-way twist, this teenage party. Exploitation of the Read More

Bought it on Wednesday, read it by Friday, blogged on Saturday

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre Translated by Frank Wynne Alex is one of those thrillers that has been quietly gathering a word of mouth momentum since its publication earlier this year. Now the paperback is out, it is going to go stratospheric as Gone Girl did, (my review of that here). A French teacher friend has been recommending Alex to our book Read More

‘I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood’…

The Almost Lizard by James Higgerson I’m twenty-one years old today, and once I’ve finished this little introduction I’m going to kill myself. … Not many can spend their final few weeks on this earth writing their autobiography, a to-the-minute summary of all that has occurred within their lifespan. But most of us leave this Read More

A portrait of a family’s grief …

After Phoenix by Martine McDonagh I really enjoyed Martine McDonagh’s debut novel I Have Waited and You Have Come, which was a dystopian psychodrama, so I was very happy to read her second novel – but it couldn’t be more different to her first. It’s Christmas, December 1973, and we meet the Jacobs family: lefty Read More

“Summer fling, don’t mean a thing, But, oh, oh, the summer nights”

This post was republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. August is a Wicked Month by Edna O’Brien When I came across this short novel published in 1965, in a bag of books from my late Mum’s, I had to read it straight away for two reasons.  The obvious one is the Read More

“Shaun the Sheep meets Shaun of the Dead “

  This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan A comedy thriller featuring sex-crazed zombie cows – The publicity says “Shaun the Sheep meets Shaun of the Dead”. Shouldn’t work, but somehow it does!  It won a half-share of the inaugural Terry Pratchett “Anywhere But Read More

Is this a case of middle-aged disappointment?

This post was edited and republished back into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Now my daughter is ten, she tends to read books to herself, but  I still read to her at bedtime when there’s a book she requests.  We’ve had great fun revisiting some of her Read More

3 from March 2011 – Handler – Reed – Fredericks

Adverbs by Daniel Handler – Lemony Snicket for Grown-ups 3 from March 2011 This author is best known as the writer of the fun Lemony Snicket series of novels for children.  I’ve read the first Lemony Snicket novel, and heard the audiobook narrated by Tim Curry, (I just love his voice!) and one day intend to read the rest of the Read More

Two 2011 reviews set during WWII: Fallada & Dogar

Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada Translated by Michael Hofmann I was put off reading this book for months, anticipating that it would be too difficult, too philosophical, too heavy; also that being 608 pages including appendices it would take too long to read.  I was wrong on all accounts. Alone in Berlin was written in just Read More

If you could turn back time …

Alice in Time by Penelope Bush This was our book group’s choice for our June meeting, chosen partly as Bush is the cousin of one of our members, but also as we haven’t read a young adult book for twelve months – we usually pick one per year. Alice is 14. She’s been best friends with Read More

Heatwaves can be murder!

August Heat by Andrea Camilleri Translated by Stephen Sartarelli This is the third of Camilleri’s novels that I’ve read, the tenth in the popular series featuring Inspector Salvo Montalbano, and it was the most enjoyable yet. It’s nearing the middle of August and the heat in Sicily is getting unbearable.  Montalbano’s girlfriend Livia is arriving Read More

Down and ‘borassic’ in 1930s London

At the Chime of a City Clock by D J Taylor Taylor’s novel is a cleverly portrayed slice of 30s noir. It’s set in the seedy backstreets of London in 1931. James Ross is an aspiring writer, but there’s no chance of making a living at it. He lives in London’s seedy Bayswater and his Read More

Short Takes

Catching up on some shorter reviews … Amulet by Roberto Bolano To paraphrase the Cranberries album title, Everybody else is reading it, so why can’t I? – I’ve finally read some Roberto Bolano. He is definitely the flavour of the moment; his posthumously published epic 2666 is generating acres of discussion and review. However I Read More

Book Two of the Chaos Walking Trilogy

The Ask & the Answer by Patrick Ness Warning: If you haven’t read the first book in this trilogy The Knife of Never Letting Go, (reviewed here) – don’t read this, rush out and get a copy Book One, then read the second. Book two starts immediately where the first left off; teenagers Todd and Read More