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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

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

Princess Bride 30

The Princess Bride turns 30!

Although Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman’s novel preceded the film, my first experience of romantic comedy fairytale The Princess Bride (1987) was on a small screen. I missed it at the cinema as it came out during a period in which I rarely went – but I did rent the VHS video from my local blockbuster – those 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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Over at Shiny New Books

Harriet and I are beginning to settle into our new routine over at Shiny New Books. We are now publishing new content each Tuesday and Thursday (with occasional other days in the mix to accommodate blog tours etc.). If you don’t have time to visit regularly, why not sign up to the newsletter to receive Read More

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A great comfort at year-end

Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook by Clive James Whatever is happening outside, a new book by Clive James is always a comfort to read – something you can’t say about many other (predominantly) non-fiction writers, except Bill Bryson. I grew up reading James’ TV reviews in the Observer every weekend – looking forward to the Read More

revolutionary-road

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Revolutionary Road

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, this meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six steps. (Here’s my one for last month – Never Let Me Go to Electricity by Ray Robinson). This month the starting book is Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Now this is a Read More

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A Portrait of Bowie by Brian Hiatt

A tribute to Bowie by his artistic collaborators and contemporaries Rolling Stone senior writer Brian Hiatt has come up with a clever combination of content in this book that will appeal to all kinds of Bowie fans: Those who love art will appreciate the forty fabulous portraits within its pages – by top photographers, wonderful Read More

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Bookish Delights

Yesterday I was delighted to be invited to attend a bloggers afternoon at the Groucho Club hosted by literary agents PFD to meet and hear some of the authors shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times/Peters Fraser Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award – and you couldn’t hope for a more diverse collection of literary styles Read More

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The #1947Club

The third week of reading from a particular year with hosts Simon and Karen. After 1924 and 1938, we’ve reached 1947. Checking my master spreadsheet, I have only previously read one book published in this year.That was Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada – which I blogged about at my old blog here. Back to what to Read More

presidents hat

Paris in July: Discovering Antoine Laurain

Paris in July is an annual event hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea – it’s now in its seventh year. I’ve managed to squeeze in a second Parisian read this month… The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain What a discovery this novel and its author were! Feel-good and completely charming, The President’s Hat was the perfect book to Read More

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Catching up on reviewing…

My to be reviewed pile is larger than I like and I don’t want to forget the books – so here are some shorter reviews for you: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics This is one scary novel – published as a YA book but is definitely not for younger teenaged readers! The story is narrated Read More

Bilodo

The art of haiku and unrequited love…

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault Translated by Liedewy Hawke I‘ve been meaning to read this bittersweet novella ever since Hesperus Press published it in England last autumn. Read now, it made a perfect palate-cleanser between some heavier reads for the new issue of Shiny New Books (out on Thursday 8th Read More

Paying guests

Trapped in genteel poverty

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters When we chose the second title for the Shiny Book Club, we wanted something totally different to the first (The Bees, which I reviewed here). It had to fit our criteria of being a Shiny New Book Read More

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A double helping of Maigret

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive. One of the great things about Georges Simenon’s Maigret novels is that they’re short. Each features a story told in full, but achieved within 160 pages or so – in this he resembles Muriel Spark. No words are wasted and there is no flowery Read More

Concrete Island

Christmas Shiny Linkiness …

Today, I’d like to direct you over to my reviews in the Shiny New Books Christmas Inbetweeny.  By the way, have you tried our Shiny Advent Quiz yet? Ideal as a post-prandial competition… But back to my reviews as these books are all too good to leave off mentioning here too: The Islanders by Pascal Read More

Concrete Island

It was surprising how many of us had a Jean Brodie in our schooldays…

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark Published in 1961, Spark’s delicious tale of a teacher who lives vicariously through her selected pupils was our book group’s choice this month. Our discussions were wide-ranging, but we started off by chatting about how real Miss Brodie was – and it turned out that most of Read More

Concrete Island

Not a psychodrama, more of a moral discussion…

Professor Andersen’s Night by Dag Solstad, translated by Agnes Scott Langeland I read this book on Christmas Eve for reasons which will soon become clear. Norwegian author Dag Solstad’s third work to be translated into English is a short novel that can be read in a single sitting. From the blurb on the back cover, you Read More

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Two novels, two different Millers…

This post was combined and republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. Snowdrops by A D Miller I bought this debut novel at the beginning of the year.  It’s had a lot of interest even before it was Booker longlisted. Trying to ignore the hype, I dove in. It’s a tale of Read More

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Peirene #3 – Train of thought …

Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius translated by Jamie Bulloch This is the third title from Peirene Press who launched this year publishing thought-provoking short novels of contemporary European literature in luxury paperback editions. Read my thoughts about their first two books here. Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, appears rather Read More

peyton-place

Everybody here has a secret…

Peyton Place by Grace Metalious This was our book group choice for October, and what a good one it was, for everyone who finished reading the book loved it. This is the book that set the benchmark for every soap opera and drama of small town America that followed, and it’s almost shocking to find Read More

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Ever Decreasing Circles

Pastors and Masters by Ivy Compton Burnett I won this book from Librarything in their Early Pastors and Masters by Ivy Compton-Burnett Reviewers draw, and it’s a lovely little thing. Hesperus Press is another publisher whose raison d’être is bringing back neglected works into print and their list sounds very interesting (Pushkin, Flaubert and Charles Read More

Penelopeiad

Reading the Canongate Myths – Vol 2

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood Penelope was the wife of Odysseus and cousin of Helen – both were to affect her life profoundly. Although Penelope’s was a happy marriage, when Helen was engaged in all those shenanigans that precipitated the Trojan War, Odysseus abandoned Penelope and rushed to Helen’s aid, and then took twenty years Read More

Concrete Island

The Truman Show meets Dickensian melodrama

Pastworld by Ian Beck Welcome to Pastworld.  Imagine that London has been reinvented as a theme park; that Dickensian London has been recreated in every detail. Rich tourists undergo immersion training, get costumed and are then brought in by airship to become ‘gawkers’ in this new, old world. Caleb, son of Lucius Brown, one of Read More

Concrete Island

A book with mischievious intent, that doesn’t entirely live up to its promise

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith If you look at all the reviews, you’ll see that this monster mash-up of the beloved novel has totally split opinions of those who have read it. I’ll tell you mine after a bit of explanation. Zombies have been plaguing the English countryside for Read More

Concrete Island

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Written as an intimate diary in letter form to an unknown addressee, this novel chronicles the first year in High School of Charlie. Charlie has a tendency to be rather passive, introspective, and prone to burst into tears; well – his best friend has recently committed suicide! Though quiet, Charlie is clever which is recognised Read More

Concrete Island

The Pianist’s Hands by Eugenio Fuentes

This is a crime novel with a difference – where the crime itself, or rather the investigation, doesn’t play much of a part. Instead it’s all about getting under the skin of the main characters, finding out all their foibles and weak points, until the murderer’s identity can be divined. It starts out telling us Read More

Concrete Island

The Pets by Bragi Olafsson

Last year I read some Halldor Laxness, and found the Icelandic humour distinctly hard to get. This contemporary novel by Bragi Olafsson (formerly in the Sugarcubes with Björk) was much less oblique, but despite its relative brevity took some time to get going. When it did though, it became the stuff of pure farce which Read More