Italian Girl

One for the new year …

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp by Eva Rice Take one big happy family; add some horses, a big country manor in Cornwall, plus doses of first love which doesn’t go easily. Shake it up and relocate to London; mix with rock’n’roll and serve with love again. This is the essential recipe for Eva Rice’s new Read More

Italian Girl

A woman scorned …

My First Wife by Jakob Wassermann, translated by Michael Hoffman They often say that truth is stranger than fiction. This novel is apparently no fiction – it’s one of those ‘all names have been changed’ type books!  My First Wife was published posthumously in 1934, and was a thinly veiled account of the author’s first Read More

Marianne Dreams

Revisiting a children’s classic from 1958

Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr In the Puffin edition (above), this book was my favourite contemporary children’s novel as I was growing up.  I read it in the late 1960s, not once, not twice, but countless times.  The story of a bed-bound girl whose drawings came to life in her dreams both entranced and scared Read More

Jones Lukas Nicholls

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

Jan 2011 3 Reviews

3 reviews from Jan 2011: Hornby, Jensen & Gaiman

Juliet Naked by Nick Hornby I don’t know how he does it, but there’s something about a Nick Hornby book that so hooks me, that I feel part of the story – I can always identify with some of the characters. Juliet Naked is the story of a lost rock star, a completist fan and his Read More

Moby Dick

A Whale of a book – I finally read Moby Dick

From Jan 2011: Moby Dick by Herman Melville This was our Book Group’s choice for our Christmas  2010 read – we always tackle a classic over the festive season. This time we couldn’t decide between ourselves, so everyone threw a suggestion in the hat and this came out. Moby Dick is one of those books I always planned Read More

meat-tree

New Stories from the Mabinogion #4

The Meat Tree by Gwyneth Lewis. The Meat Tree is the fourth in the series of contemporary retellings of stories from the medieval Welsh story cycle The Mabinogion commissioned and published by Seren Books.  See my reviews of the other titles in the series here and here. Gwyneth Lewis is an interesting author: firstly a poet, she has written a book-length poem about Read More

Mozart Question

How music can save your life …

The Mozart Question by Michael Morpurgo Previously included in a collection of autobiographical writings and short stories (Singing for Mrs Pettigrew: A Storymaker’s Journey), the The Mozart Question was later published separately as an edition lavishly illustrated by Michael Foreman’s hazy watercolours. The former Children’s Laureate, Morpurgo, tells a simple tale about an important subject… A young reporter gets Read More

Firefly brothers

Of Gangsters and the Great Depression

The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen It’s the 1930s in the height of the great depression, millions are out of work and bands of bank-robbing outlaws are regarded as folk heroes in the USA. Former public enemy number one, John Dillinger, has recently been sent to his grave and stepping up to the top Read More

Italian Girl

The First Detective Novel

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins This was my bookgroup’s Christmas read – we like to pick something classic for festive reading. This was a popular choice, as several of us, me included, have read Kate Summerscale’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, the real-life Victorian murder case which inspired Collins. I started reading well before Christmas, Read More

Italian Girl

Two short novels – Two complex stories

This week I passed the 100 books read this year landmark, and numbers 99 and 101 were both cracking short novels… The Beacon by Susan Hill is a claustrophobic and suspenseful family drama which leaves you wondering what you believed in the tale. It tells of four siblings, Colin, May, Frank and Berenice who were Read More

Italian Girl

A technological Cinderella story for the next generation of Microserfs

Makers by Cory Doctorow If you loved Microserfs by Douglas Coupland which chronicled life in Silicon Valley in the 90s, you’ll probably enjoy this which takes the nerds into the near future. Rather than spoofing Microsoft though, it takes Disney as the corporate behemoth that needs taking down a peg. Perry and Lester are two Read More

Italian Girl

Now I can see why teenage girls love vampires …

Although I have more of the same stacked up, (vampire novels aimed at teenagers that is), I think I’ve worked out why teenage girls love reading them… They have all the features of many traditional favourites:- set in schools pupilled with bullies, geeks, jocks, all the usual stereotypes are there; there’s good/bad, sympathetic/not teachers; an Read More

Italian Girl

What happens when the woman of your dreams becomes a reality?

I’ve been saving a few reviews to post until I’m ready to start talking about vampires in my Season of the Living Dead. So today it’s time to introduce you to: Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker Norman and his friend Henry are on holiday in Ireland. They duck into a church to shelter from the Read More

Italian Girl

Monkey Business in Hollywood

Me Cheeta by James Lever This year’s oddball choice on the Booker longlist is a satire on Hollywood as seen through the eyes of Tarzan’s long-lived chimp companion. When it was published last autumn as an autobiography, the book had Cheeta listed as its writer, but it didn’t take long for the real author to Read More

Italian Girl

Good Clean Spy Fun – with a spot of murder, and a good dose of drugs …

The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler When I saw that Penguin were reissuing five of Ambler’s novels in their Modern Classics series, the choice of which to read first was easy – I picked The Mask of Dimitrios. Apart from having been published during the same year as Chandler’s The Big Sleep, this novel Read More

Italian Girl

Another modern classic novel for older children

The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban This Pinnochio-esque tale for older children written in 1967 of a clockwork Daddy mouse and his child is a modern children’s classic. Deservedly so, it features a road trip for the discarded and broken wind-up mice full of adventure, peril and featuring a nasty rat-baddy, also much Read More

Italian Girl

Capsule reviews

Sorry – I’ve been extremely busy so far this week, so two capsule reviews for you of what I’ve read recently … Marching Powder by Rusty Young This follows the incarceration of a young black Englishman in Bolivia’s San Pedro prison for drug-trafficking. I would not have got this book if my book group hadn’t Read More

Italian Girl

My Tango with Barbara Strozzi by Russell Hoban

This was my first visit to Hobanville – why it’s taken me so long I don’t know, but I’m keen to go again really soon. Underlying My Tango with Barbara Strozzi is a traditional boy meets girl romance, cleverly told by the two would-be lovers’ voices alternating chapter by chapter, but on top are layers Read More

Italian Girl

The Man Without by Ray Robinson

Ray Robinson’s debut novel Electricity was one of the best things I read this year … until I read his second novel The Man Without. Electricity has a superb heroine in Lily – a severe epileptic who was abused and in care as a child. The novel follows her quest to find her lost brother Read More

Italian Girl

A Trio of Five Star Books

As this is a new blog and we’re still getting to know each other, I thought I’d introduce you to a trio of the 5 star books I’ve read this year, so you can see some of the books I’ve really enjoyed reading. Fuller reviews can be found on my Librarything site – there’s a Read More