A New York story of ancient Egypt…

The Weighing of the Heart by Paul Tudor Owen It’s rare that I accept a direct approach by an author to review their books, but I liked the premise of this book which combined the story of an Englishman in New York with an obsession about ancient Egyptian art, so I said, “yes,” when Paul, Read More

The Book Lucy Ellmann wrote before Ducks, Newburyport

Mimi by Lucy Ellmann Although I know it’s really readable, I am still putting off getting started on Ellman’s Booker shortlisted (and tipped to win?) doorstop of a novel, Ducks, Newburyport. I tell myself it’s because as a Galley Beggar subscriber I have the limited edition black cover and I don’t want to break the Read More

20 Books of Summer #5 & #6 – Greer & Hustvedt

I’d expected to read more books in July than my list shows, having been on ‘school holidays’ since July 5, (although slaving at home on and off for a fortnight on the School magazine). But then I look at my bed – which is where the books I’m reading tend to sit – and there Read More

A love letter to his wife

About Alice by Calvin Trillin I was going to choose the only other book I’ve read by Trillin for the letter T in my go at Simon’s Twitter tag #AToZofBooks which I’ve enjoyed doing over the past couple of days, but I got distracted by another author. Tepper Isn’t Going Out (reviewed here), which I read back in late 2008, is a comic masterpiece all Read More

Wellcome Book Prize reading: #5 R&R

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottesa Moshfegh Well, it’s a while since I read a book that I disliked so thoroughly, but felt compelled to read to the end! This book is all sex and drugs, but no rock’n’roll. I’d felt put off reading it before by the ‘school of David’ painting on Read More

Novellas in November Part 1

This year I’m joining in with Novellas in November, a long-running tag now sort of shepherded by Laura at Reading in Bed.  I absolutely love novellas, that extra length over a short story, of say up to 150 pages, gives space for development of plot and characters, but still requires the author to move things Read More

Beaucoup de Wit(t)!

French Exit by Patrick deWitt One thing’s clear: Canadian author deWitt is incapable of writing the same thing twice. Each of his four novels is unique – from the bartender making notes about his customers for a novel in his debut Ablutions (see here) to the The Blues Brothers meets Deadwood of the fabulous The Sisters Read More

Can you cheat fate?

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin I’ve been itching to read this novel due to its clever premise since I first got my hands on a copy. I’ve finally made time for it. How long would you live your life if you knew the day you were going to die? This is the central question, emblazoned Read More

Some recent reads in short…

It’s catch-up time again… Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre  While I loved Lemaitre’s Verhoeven trilogy and last year’s superbly creepy Blood Wedding, Three Days and a Life was a slight disappointment. It’s still an excellent suspense novel, but lacks the elements of surprise and immediacy that his others have shown.  It has Read More

Two books about Learning to Drive…

While reading the first of this pair, I was perusing my shelves and found another book that was nominally about starting late in ‘learning to drive’ so the obvious thing was to read both and review them together. These books were especially appropriate to my own situation – I didn’t take my car driving test Read More

Catching up – Jan and Feb Book Group reviews

I thought it was time I started reviewing the books I’ve read this year, so today I’m catching up with our book group reads discussed in Jan and Feb. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis This was the first book I read this year, managing to squeeze it in just before we met a few days into January. Read More

The immigrants’ shattered American Dream…

Family Life by Akhil Sharma Imagine the excitement of going to America from Delhi to live. Even though life in India was comfortable and full of cricket, America is the dream destination for nine-year-old Ajay’s accountant father. First, his father went, found a job, set up home; then a year later, he sent one-way tickets Read More

4 Stories, 13 views…

Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann My first encounter with McCann, this volume contains some of his shorter fiction: a full novella and three short stories of varying lengths. The titular novella has thirteen short chapters, each prefaced by lines from a poem about a blackbird that inspired the title (Thirteen Ways of Looking Read More

The Bookish Time Travel Tag!

I was tagged in this meme which is on it’s travels around the bookblogs by Kaggsy, but it was started by The Library Lizard. I couldn’t not give it a go… 1. What is your favourite historical setting for a book? If you did the stats on books I’ve read, it would probably come up Read More

The lost post archive: The Dark Tower

Stephen King’s Magnum Opus – The Dark Tower I read the seven volumes, comprising over 4000 pages, of King’s Dark Tower epic fantasy over a period of four years. All the posts were ‘lost’ in my domain transfer. I’ve restored them into their original places in the time-line, linked below. It’s been a couple of Read More

More from the pre-blog archives…

Back to book reviews soon, but for the bank holiday I decided to revisit some more of the capsule reviews I wrote for myself in my mega-spreadsheet which I started pre-blog and still keep going. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart Feb 2008: The story of Merlin’s youth up to the birth of Arthur. I read Read More

Dogs and Downsizing

Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment Originally published in 2009 and brought to the UK last year by Pushkin Press, Heroic Measures is a tale about one weekend in the life of an older couple and their beloved dachshund Dorothy. Ruth and Alex Cohen have lived for 45 years in a co-op, a ‘five-flight walk-up in the East Village’. Read More

Too much life?

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara Republished into my blog’s original timeline – one of my ‘lost’ posts. This novel has really divided its readers into camps. Most, but not all, of those reading along with Scott didn’t like it, and neither did James and Teresa. But, on the other side, Simon S, Jackie and Rebecca all loved it. Where do I stand? Well – 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

A modern take on Jeeves & Wooster

This post was edited and republished back into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Wake up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames Jonathan Ames is apparently a bit of a cult author in the USA – as novelist, essayist, columnist, storyteller and creator of a sitcom for HBO called Bored to Death. I’d not Read More

A double dose of Simenon including his most autobiographical roman dur…

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive. Three Bedrooms in Manhattan by Georges Simenon Last month I had the opportunity to meet John Simenon, Georges’s son at an event celebrating the prolific Belgian author and his work. Apart from all the Maigret novels, Simenon was famed for his romans durs (hard 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

A post Cold-War spy drama

A Spy’s Life by Henry Porter Many moons ago I read Henry Porter’s first novel Rememberance Day (2000) which was a fast-moving spy thriller and I enjoyed it very much indeed. Finally, years later, I’ve read his second – another standalone spy-thriller about an ex-spy who finds out that you can never truly leave your former Read More

From boys to grown men, a novel about love and friendship

These Things Happen by Richard Kramer A while ago, I was approached by a publicist from the USA who was trying to get some exposure for her client’s book in the UK/Europe – it’s a debut novel, but by an author with an awesome pedigree in the TV world. The book is These things happen by 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

Now it's Sylvia's turn

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath Yesterday I reviewed a new YA novel by Meg Wolitzer called Belzhar (here), in which a depressed young woman was helped back to good health by a special English class that studied Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar and then kept rather special personal journals. Reading this book made Read More

A Walk Among the Tombstones: Book v Film

The recently released movie A Walk Among the Tombstones starring Liam Neeson is based upon the 10th in the series of Matt Scudder books by Lawrence Block. I’ve read the first twelve – and have enjoyed them all, with a few more still to read one of these days. I read this back in 2006, and Read More

DVD Review – The Coen Brothers do the 1960s folk music scene…

Inside Llewyn Davis by the Coen Brothers I’ve been taking advantage of my daughter being on holiday with her Dad to catch up on TV and movies. I binge-watched Broadchurch (loved) and The Honorable Woman (good, but confusing and irritating), but finished my week by watching the Coen Brother’s latest movie from earlier this year on Read More

Stephen King’s Dark Tower #7

The Dark Tower Book 7: The Dark Tower by Stephen King I reached the Dark Tower! It’s been a long time a-coming, but I have finally reached the end of Stephen King’s epic fantasy series The Dark Tower. I began reading the books back in May 2011 in a readalong with Teresa and Jenny at ShelfLove. It was to Read More