High School Horror in the late 1980s

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix Grady Hendrix’s novel Horrorstör (reviewed here) was a triumph of style – a straight-forward but enjoyable horror story presented as a parody of an IKEA catalogue. This was such a brilliant conceit, it made my list of books of the year in 2014 for its amazing design. What would Read More

Kerching! It’s so 1980s

Money by Martin Amis (republished into its original place in my blog time-line from the lost post archive) So, earlier in the summer we were picking a book to discuss at book group and someone suggested The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis. He’s an author we’ve not read in the group before but that title didn’t appeal; individually we’d Read More

It’s a love / hate thang …

Republished into my blog’s original timeline from my missing posts archive. The Martian by Andy Weir One square in my Book Bingo card is ‘Hated by someone you know’. That one was so easy to fill, for a few weeks ago my pal Simon Savidge tried to read The Martian and he ended up not Read More

Book Group Report on a Dutch Drama…

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton You know how it is with book group choices – sometimes you can’t find a lot to talk about? Well, The Miniaturist ISN’T one of those books! While it’s fair to say that no-one in our group Read More

More Shiny linkiness …

It’s been a couple of weeks since Issue 3 of Shiny New Books went live, so I thought I’d highlight the other fiction reviews I wrote for it to you – I hope you’ll click through to read the whole pieces… At the moment, we’re busy putting together our Christmas special which will be out Read More

The first in an Italian trilogy…

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante Translated by Ann Goldstein I came to reading this book, the first volume in Ferrante’s Neapolitan Trilogy, with more than a little trepidation. Firstly I have only heard good things about it, so I was hoping that it would live up to its reputation. Secondly, my only previous experience of Read More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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