6 Degrees June Shopgirl

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Shopgirl

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. This month’s starting point was suggested by me! Shopgirl by Steve Martin I read this book and saw the film last year – read my full review Read More

The Day That Went Missing (397x640)

Getting ‘the day that went missing’ back

The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard Earlier this month I wrote about an evening with Richard Beard at my local indie bookshop, it was a very special experience for an author event. I went away from the evening with my signed copy of his new book of memoir and started reading it there Read More

The Day That Went Missing

An evening with Richard Beard at Mostly Books

Last night I was at a rather special author event at my local indie bookshop Mostly Books with local(ish) author Richard Beard.  Mark in the shop had long ago persuaded me to buy Beard’s last novel, Goldsmith Prize shortlisted, The Acts of the Assassins, but sadly I’ve not read it yet – I know I’ll have a Read More

Fragile lives

‘Don’t go breaking my heart…’

Fragile Lives by Professor Stephen Westaby I love doctors’ memoirs and those of surgeons in particular. Stephen Westaby’s contribution to the oeuvre, while I’m not accusing him in any way of lacking humanity – far from it, his book is full of emotion and care for his patients – his approach to the challenge of Read More

To War with Whitaker

Book Group choice for April: Egypt

To War With Whitaker The Wartime Diaries of the Countess of Ranfurly 1939-45 This month, our topic to choose a title was ‘Egypt’ – any book set in or about anything to do with the country. The nominations were: Death on the Nile – Christie Ice Cold in Alex – Christopher Landon Palace Walk by Read More

Princess Diarist

‘Carrison’ and ‘A New Hope’

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher Like the whole world, I was totally shocked to hear of Carrie Fisher’s heart-attack, then death over Christmas, followed by her mother Debbie Reynolds just one day later. I’d bought this volume the week it came out, and had just started to read it when I heard of her Read More

how-music-works

A Talking Head talks about music

How Music Works by David Byrne This book was the highlight of my splurge of non-fiction reading in December. David Byrne, founder and idiosyncratic front man of Talking Heads – one of the best punky/art-rock bands there has ever been, friend and collaborator with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp amongst others, could never be expected Read More

A Tour of Bones

All that remains… in the charnel house.

A Tour of Bones by Denise Inge Denise Inge was an American who married an English clergyman. When he became Bishop of Worcester they moved there, and Denise found that they would have to share their new home with a ‘charnel house’. Wikipedia defines it thus: “A charnel house is a vault or building where Read More

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Books Are My Bag & a local book sale – My super Saturday book haul

It’s Books Are My Bag BAMB day at independent bookshops in the UK. Each year the BAMB team commission a limited edition bookbag. Last year was Grayson Perry’s typically challenging but great fun design – see right. This year, however, they have commissioned a bag you can take out without having to check which side Read More

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Shiny issue 12 published today

One of the reasons I’ve been quieter here, despite reading like mad is the number of books I’ve been reading and reviewing for the next issue(s) of Shiny New Books, and Issue 12 is published today! I’ve reviewed an eclectic mix of books for this issue, and would like to highlight the two non-fiction titles Read More

Newby Kush

Book Group Report: Travel

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby In an effort to get more variety into our reading, we’ve started a subject cycle. We pick a topic to research, then next month everyone comes with a suggestion or two on that subject and we whittle them down to a handful to draw a Read More

last act of love

Learning to let go …

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize (read more about that here), Cathy Rentzenbrink’s book about her and her brother is the kind of memoir that hits you with a wallop. Once started, it won’t let go – I read it in one sitting, going from shock to being Read More

shopgirl

The making of Mary (Queen of Shops)

Shop Girl by Mary Portas Mary Portas is one of those TV presenter/gurus you either love or find profoundly irritating. I love her and her championing of the high street and independent retailers. Her TV programmes where she helps ailing businesses are full of common sense and good advice jazzed up with her team’s design Read More

Carrie Fisher

Capturing her memories

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher In my review of Fisher’s previous slim volume of anecdotal memoir, Wishful Drinking, I wished she would write a full memoir a couple of years down the line. Instead, she has done more of the same, but you know what, I don’t care Read More

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My Books of the Year 2014 – Part One – the Shiny Edit…

This year for the first time, I’ve split my best of list in two. Having read around 130 books this year, there are too many to feature in just one post and there is an obvious split – today’s first part will feature those books that I’ve reviewed over at Shiny New Books.  Forgive me for continually Read More

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Three Slightly Shorter Reviews

I’ve got a series of posts lined up for the week in between Christmas and New Year with my hits, misses, finds and stats, so it’s time to catch up with my review pile backlog and some shorter reviews… The Undertaker’s Daughter by Kate Mayfield For anyone who loved the TV series Six Feet Under, Read More

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Poor but mostly happy …

This Boy by Alan Johnson Politicians’ memoirs are not the norm for me to read when I choose non-fiction. Alan Johnson may be a fine politician, (and many think that Labour would be in a much better place if he had stood to become leader) but this volume doesn’t cover his later career, just his Read More

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A master class in the art of stand-up

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin In the 1970s, Steve Martin was one of the US’s top comedians, playing sell-out tours to huge audiences, and regularly appearing on Saturday Night Live and the Johnny Carson Show. After eighteen years, worn out by it, and noticing the first empty seats in an audiences Read More

Direct Red

You need toughness to be a cutter …

Direct Red: A Surgeon’s Story by Gabriel Weston This slim book about becoming a surgeon is one of the best medical books I’ve ever read.  Some days as an interested bystander, I secretly wish I’d become a doctor – even a surgeon, but then seeing programmes on telly or reading books like this, I know Read More