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An evening with Bethan Roberts

It was off to my favourite place in Abingdon (Mostly Books, where else!) on Thursday for an evening with one of the town’s favourite authors – Bethan Roberts. Born and bred in Abingdon, it was Bethan’s third visit to the bookshop, and for those of us who’ve been to see her talk each time, it’s Read More

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Drip-dry wash'n'wear?

Man-Made Fibre by Francine Stock Many of you may know journalist and TV/radio presenter Francine Stock from her time on Newsnight some years ago, and later on Radio 4’s arts programme Front Row and the Film Programme which she still presents. She has also written a couple of novels and a history of film. Man-Made Read More

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A Childhood Rediscovery …

The Martin Pippin books by Eleanor Farjeon Coincidence is a funny thing. I moved a pile of my old children’s paperbacks, and at the top of the stack I left was this book. Martin Pippin in the Daisy-Field by Eleanor Farjeon. It sort of looked familiar, and when I opened it up and saw the Read More

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A screenplay novelisation …

A Million Ways to Die In The West by Seth MacFarlane There’s no denying it – Seth MacFarlane is very talented. Apart from being very handsome, he’s an award winning animator – having worked for Hanna-Barbera after college, he’s the creator of Family Guy, co-creator/producer of American Dad, the comedy film Ted, and he acts/voices Read More

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My Books of the Year 2013

I’ve had a great reading year in 2013. I’ve managed to read more books than the past few years, topping the hundred mark, and at the time of review thirteen of those scored ten out of ten. Not all of those will make my list below though, as the score is just a snapshot – Read More

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The loneliness of genteel old age…

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor This is only the second novel by Elizabeth Taylor that I have read, the first was In a Summer Season (reviewed here), but thanks to her popularity amongst many of my blogging friends I feel as if I know her works better than I do in reality. Read More

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Jazz Vampires – another case for Peter Grant

Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch This is the second novel in Aaronovitch’s ‘Rivers of London‘ series of humorous police procedurals involving magical crimes in contemporary London. If you’ve not read the first volume Rivers of London – head over here to find out about it – for you won’t understand much of what’s going on Read More

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Rediscovering Alderley Edge’s Old Magic

This post was republished into it’s original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen & The Moon of Gomrath by Alan Garner After going to see a lecture given by Alan Garner, reported here, I naturally wanted to read more by him, and especially to (re)read the Weirdstone Trilogy. In Read More

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“If a loving yuh looking for yuh buck upon the right one”

Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo. This novel has gone straight into my shortlist of books of the year – I loved every single page.  It is both hilariously funny yet compassionate and bittersweet, and eminently quotable. Meet sharp-suited seventy-four year old Barrington Jedidiah Walker, who emigrated from Antigua in the 1960s and has lived in Hackney Read More

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Him pretty good funny sometimes

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris The American humorist David Sedaris is famed for his self-deprecating wit and his good-natured take on life.  He has written nine books compiling his essays and stories now, plus loads of journalism, plays and more.  I first encountered him on radio – he’s recorded many of his Read More

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The Women of Madison Avenue

Mad Women by Jane Maas Mad Men still ranks amongst my favourite TV programmes ever. I love everything about it – the clothes, the campaigns, the decor, the lifestyle, the cast, (especially John Slattery as Roger Sterling). But how true is the series? I’ve already read one book by a guy who was there – Jerry Read More

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When mothers fail their daughters …

Magda by Meike Ziervogel The past couple of weeks have seen the publication of not one, but two novels featuring the ‘First Woman of the Third Reich’ Magda Goebbels. The first was Black Roses by Jane Thynne – A spy story set in 1933 Berlin. I loved it and you can read my review here. Read More

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A novel in reverse…

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick This is a rather different kind of YA novel. The cover of the hardback (left), would have you believe it’s full of blood, and possibly vampires. Blood, yes – and there is a part with a vampire, but in reality the paperback’s cover with hares leaping around the red moon (below), Read More

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The other half's story …

Mr Bridge (Penguin Modern Classics) by Evan S Connell Written ten years after  his 1959 novel Mrs Bridge, Connell’s companion piece Mr Bridge tells the story of the Bridge family through the same time period from the 1930s into WWII, but from the husband’s point of view. I read and adored Mrs Bridge a couple of weeks Read More

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A life unfulfilled, funny but full of melancholy…

Mrs Bridge by Evan S Connell Just before Christmas, I acquired a review copy of the imminent Penguin Modern Classics reissue of Mr Bridge by Evan S Connell. I knew nothing about the book at all, but the synopsis intrigued me. Finding that Connell had previously written Mrs Bridge, and that Mr Bridge was therefore Read More

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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

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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

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An exceptional story for all ages…

A Monster Callsby Patrick Ness The British writer Siobhan Dowd won the Carnegie Medal posthumously in 2009 for her last book, Bog Child.  She’d started working on another, but died of breast cancer before she had started writing. Her outline was handed to Patrick Ness, author of the acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy and he wrote the Read More

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Scenes from a humorist’s life …

Our book group is having a short story July, concentrating on two authors renowned for their wit: Saki and Thurber.  I’m working my way through Saki, so I’ll deal with him in another post; here I’ll talk about my first experience of reading James Thurber. My Life and Hard Timesby James Thurber James Thurber (1894-1961), 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

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A Busman’s Holiday …

The Maintenance of Headwayby Magnus Mills I’ve read and loved three of Mills’s previous novels – especially All Quiet on the Orient Express, (review here).  They’re deadpan, full of black humour, and expound upon the trials and tribulations of the ordinary working man.   He’s dealt with fence installers, odd jobbers, and White Van Man; 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