Nonfiction November – My Year in Non-fiction

Nonfiction November is being hosted by Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Julie (JulzReads), and Katie (Doing Dewey). through the site What’s Nonfiction?  They have a wonderful programme mapped out for November here. The topic for the first week is “Your Year in Nonfiction ” in which we’re encouraged to Read More

Who better to talk about the surrealists?

The Lives of the Surrealists by Desmond Morris Surrealism was originally more than an art movement, it was a philosophical code – a way of living that rebelled against the establishment.  Originating in  1920s Paris, following the Dadaists in WWI, it spread world-wide. The term ‘surrealism’ was coined by Apollinaire a few years before two Read More

Fake or Fortune? Rachman takes on the art market…

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman Engaging from the first page, this is a story with two main themes. Firstly, art and the art market – if this book were to have a subtitle, Fake or Fortune’ couldn’t be more apt, as in that BBC TV programme where art dealer Philip Mould with sidekick Fiona Read More

A London Day Out

On the last of our London days out these summer holidays, my daughter and I experienced several real treats (at half-price entry thanks to our Art Fund Passes, which have got a lot of use this summer)… Stop 1 – The House of Illustration – John Vernon Lord and Enid Marx The House of Illustration Read More

A Trip to the Ashmolean…

The other day, daughter and I went to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford to catch the last day of the Michelangelo drawings, and the first week of the new “America’s Cool Modernism: O’Keeffe to Hopper” exhibitions, using our new Art Fund cards to get half price entry. Michelangelo Drawings A single room full of drawings, Read More

An artist’s memoir of childhood in London and Hollywood …

Unaccompanied Minor by Alexander Newley My review of this memoir by the son of Joan Collins and Anthony Newley is my first of the year for Shiny New Books. Newley is an artist and frequent self-portraitist, and this account of growing up in this dysfunctional story was illustrated and enriched by many of his pictures Read More

A Pre-Raphaelite thriller

Crimson and Bone by Marina Fiorato A break from my STPFD Young Writer of the Year Award writing today, having finished the five books, we’ve had our judgely huddle and chosen a Shadow Judges’ winner which will be announced on the 29th. I’m a big fan of Marina Fiorato’s historical novels, having read most of Read More

It’s been a busy week…

I am nearly in possession of a newly rebuilt conservatory. The old one was single glazed and rotting away – you could see the outdoors at the corners of some windows where the wood was falling off. I managed to get a good deal to have all the glass replaced with UPVC, latest technology with Read More

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

Shopgirl – Film & Book

Shopgirl by Steve Martin I adore Steve Martin’s writing – see my review of his tremendous memoir Born Standing Up here, and his 2010 novel An Object of Beauty at my old blog here. I finally got around to reading his first fictional publication Shopgirl, a few weeks ago, and yesterday I watched the film, Read More

My own little bit of the World of Moose…

One of the books I’ve recently pledged to on Unbound is I Wonder What I’m Thinking About? by cartoonist and illustrator Moose Allain.  Visit his own website The World of Moose here, his prints are affordable and lovely.) All the Unbound pledgers were entered for a draw to win a piece of original Moose art – and Read More

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: Where the Sun Doesn’t Shine

Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge (1980) Douglas Ashburner is going on holiday. He was surprised that his wife of twenty-six years was happy for him to disappear off to the Highlands for a fortnight’s fishing trip. Leaving her in bed, she waves him goodbye with a ‘queenly gesture of farewell’. Little does she know. His Read More

Beryl Bainbridge Reading Week: Titanic

Every Man For Himself by Beryl Bainbridge My first review for BBRW 2016 is a re-read for me – but no ordinary re-read. The Folio Society has produced a gorgeous new edition of this novel which includes Beryl’s own paintings, the first time her text and paintings have been published together. Every Man For Himself was published in Read More

Too cryogenically cool to love outright

Zero K by Don DeLillo I’m not entirely new to reading Don DeLillo. I like the idea of reading DeLillo and I have read the first quarter of his 1971 debut, Americana, for my Annabel’s Shelves project. I was really enjoying it; it started well – we were introduced to top TV executive David Bell – who, if he’d been Read More

A Florentine treat

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant I used to have all four of Sarah Dunant’s Italian Renaissance novels on my shelves. I liked the idea of them, as I love Italy, its art and architecture and so on but, I’m not a big reader of historical fiction, so they got forgotten and late last Read More

A novel of one-sided letters…

How You See Me by S.E. Craythorne This is the last of my reviews of books I finished reading in 2015; I thought I’d better get a few thoughts down before the memory of reading it fades too much. As Susan said in a recent post, ‘I have a weakness for debuts’ – you never know Read More

Dancing the Seasons with Powell #3

Republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost post archive   A Dance to the Music of Time 3: The Acceptance World We come to the third volume in Anthony Powell’s series – the last of the ‘Spring’ books. (If you’d like to catch up with volumes one and two, click accordingly.) The Acceptance World begins with Nick Jenkins meeting Read More

Dancing the Seasons with Powell #2

Republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost post archive   A Dance to the Music of Time 2: A Buyer’s Market So we come to the second volume of Anthony Powell’s sequence of twelve novels. If you’d like to catch up with my summary of the first part follow the link to A Question of Upbringing. Read More

'I like a fresh bowl.'

Yes, it’s a quote from that late 1990s TV series Ally McBeal which was set in a Boston legal firm. I watched it religiously for most of its run. Partner John Cage was the chap who said it – he had many quirks including a remote control for his favourite toilet stall, which he’d pre-flush before going… Read More

The boy, the stolen painting and the Russian…

Just occasionally, I believe I can read minds – well in a Derren Brownish way – you see by my title of this post, I hope to have manipulated you into thinking you were getting a(nother) post on The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; some of you will be thinking but Annabel’s already reviewed that, hasn’t Read More

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

784 pages – Was it worth taking the time to read…

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt It’s very likely that had our bookgroup not picked this novel, that The Goldfinch would have stayed on my shelves, unread, (beside Wolf Hall and The Luminaries), for much longer. I had to read it (well, I could have cribbed notes but didn’t), but I’m so glad I took the time Read More

“The extraordinary happens every day”

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness Having wept like a baby during reading Ness’s last crossover novel, A Monster Calls (my review here) – a story about a young boy coming to terms with love, death and grief, and incorporating magical elements and fables, The Crane Wife – his first full adult novel seems a natural progression. The Crane Read More

Extra/Ordinary Stuff!

1000 Extra/ordinary Objects by Taschen I have long admired German publisher Taschen’s affordable art and design books – I have quite a few in my library on favourite artists (Hopper, various Pop Artists, etc). To celebrate their 25th anniversary, they produced a series of books, and 1000 Extra/Ordinary objects (note the slash) is one of them. Read More

C'est fun, but c'est n'est pas Les Mis…

Illumination by Matthew Plampin Given the love for all things French and 19th century at the moment thanks to the film I still haven’t seen that is Les Misérables, it was a good time to read a revolutionary novel. Illumination is set later than Hugo’s masterpiece,  during the Siege of Paris of 1870-71 in the Franco-Prussian Read More

Getting to know Beryl better…

Beryl Bainbridge: Artist, Writer, Friend by Psiche Hughes I will happily go on record to say that Beryl Bainbridge is my favourite author. Earlier this year, I hosted a reading week celebrating her work; you can see my record of that week and a bibliography of Beryl books and reviews on my Reading Beryl page. Read More

The life artistic …

This post was republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson I do enjoy quirky novels. I also enjoy stories about dysfunctional families. The Family Fang is both, and just let me tell you that despite the title suggesting blood and bites in suburbia, c.f. The Radleys by Matt Haig, there are no Read More