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

Review Catch-up…

Life is rather busy, and I’m terribly behind on my reviews. So here is a batch of reviews and links for you… Educated by Tara Westover This memoir of growing up in an unconventional setting and how the author escaped to discover the world outside was absolutely compelling reading, Westover grew up off-grid in Idaho, Read More

#ReadingMuriel2018 and the strangest little book!

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark What a strange novella this book is! It’s far from my favourite Spark, but it is possibly the most fascinating. This is because commentators have suggested that it is Spark’s response to the Watergate scandal of 1972 which led to Nixon’s impeachment in August 1974. The story opens Read More

Book Group Report – ‘Green’

  At the moment, our book group chooses books by picking a key word for members to make pitches based on – we’re currently working our way through some colours. For ‘green’ we had a varied group of suggestions: Plot 29 by Allan Jenkins – a memoir about two brothers rescued from care in the Read More

Amanda Craig at Shiny…

The Lie of the Land by Amanda Craig I’ve long been a fan of Amanda Craig, always loving her book reviews in the Times/Sunday Times and then her novels – I still have a couple to catch up on on my shelves which will be a pleasure. Meanwhile I recently read and reviewed her latest, Read More

‘What’s in a name?’

Lingua Franca by William Thacker William Thacker? That name sounds familiar… a little digging and he was revealed as Hugh Grant’s character in Notting Hill. Whether William Thacker, author likes sharing his name with the film character, I’ll probably never know … but this William Thacker is a name to watch out for, especially as Read More

Coming of age in Hollywood

A Way of Life, Like Any Other by Darcy O’Brien Many book bloggers are fans of the NYRB Classics, and I think I first heard about this short novel from Thomas a tHogglestock and promptly acquired a copy which has sat on my shelves for a while – until encouraged by comments on my yellow TBR pile post 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 little Saki goes a long way …

Reginald by Saki Nearly two years ago now, we chose to read some Saki short stories as summer Book Group reading. In the event, everyone managed to pick different editions with anthologised different Saki stories, and due to holidays etc our discussions were rather truncated. Tidying up the books around my bedside table this morning, Read More

My first encounter with Richard Brautigan …

It was last summer when Karen at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings was participating in the Beats of Summer fortnight of reading from the Beat Generation, that I resolved to read a book by Richard Brautigan. As I am not a fan of On the Road or The Naked Lunch (bored by the former, weirded out by Read More

‘A Duty-Dance with Death’ – ‘So it goes’

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut This was our book group’s choice for discussion in November. Whilst it’s fair to say that whilst nobody loved it, and some didn’t get on with it at all, it did provoke some good discussion. I quite enjoyed it, and would certainly read more by Vonnegut. My only previous experience with Read More

There was I, ready to cull some books …

… when I got totally distracted after only consigning one book to the charity shop pile by this little gem… Pistache by Sebastian Faulks. Originating from the BBC Radio 4 literary quiz, The Right Stuff, each week contestants would do a little party piece at the end of the show as one writer attempting the style Read More

The book that inspired 1984 and Brave New Worl

This post was republished into it’s original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin Translated by Clarence Brown So, I finally read the book that inspired Orwell’s1984 (my brief write-up here).  Many other dystopian novels have similarities, including Huxley’s Brave New World (my review here) although Huxley said he was actually inspired by HG Wells, Read More

Minimalism ain't all it's cracked up to be …

Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles This debut novel, published last year, was one of those books I was instantly desperate to read, but somehow couldn’t fit in at the time. The title promised quirkiness and humour, two qualities I adore in a novel. I’m glad I finally read it, for I enjoyed it a Read More

Serendipity makes this a timely read from And Other Stories…

Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt I started reading this book around ten days ago, and was shocked and amused in equal measure – but I paused around a third of the way through to give in to the hype and read JK Rowling’s latest (see previous post here) – and  by the time I picked Read More

Another quirky fable of men and their work

A Cruel Bird Came to the Nest and Looked in by Magnus Mills Don’t you just love the cover of this book?  Having just finished reading it, I love it even more, as it encapsulates the kingdom within its pages perfectly. I can identify its buildings including ‘The Cake’ – the dome-topped concert hall (middle Read More

Bookgroup Report – Always look on the bright side of life

Candide by Voltaire This short novel is another one of those influential classic books that I had always planned to read. I’d bought a copy in preparation, and ten years later it was still sitting on the shelf. I was really pleased that we chose it at book group, and I’m mighty glad to have Read More

Dystopias R Us – Book Group Report

We had a  new first for our book group last night.  Because we just couldn’t choose a book to read in August two months back, we decided to try reading to a theme. You could choose whatever book you wanted to read as long as it featured a dystopian society. Firstly, what is a dystopia? Read More

Of baby factories, orgy-porgy & Shakespeare – Yes, it’s that dystopia!

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley This week, having re-visited one dystopian novel I previously read as a teenager (click here), I was able to fit in another of the biggies of the genre in time for our book group discussion Read More

The mad scientist and his red ray

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. The Fatal Eggs by Mikhail Bulgakov Translated by Roger Cockerell Pre-blog, back in 2006, we read The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov in our book group and I loved it. This novel about the devil coming to a town of Read More

New Stories from the Mabinogion #3

The Dreams of Max and Ronnie by Niall Griffiths See my previous post here for some background on this series of comtemporary retellings of the medieval Welsh story cycle the Mabinogion, and the first two titles in the sequence.  The third book, The Dreams of Max and Ronnie to give its full title comprises two novellas based upon separate Read More

Monkey Business in Hollywood

Me Cheeta by James Lever This year’s oddball choice on the Booker longlist is a satire on Hollywood as seen through the eyes of Tarzan’s long-lived chimp companion. When it was published last autumn as an autobiography, the book had Cheeta listed as its writer, but it didn’t take long for the real author to Read More

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

Short Takes

The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark The 100th book I read this year. It was a delightful short novel about a young man who arrives in a slightly posh bit of South London, stirs things up rather devilishly bringing this staid bit of town to life, and then he disappears. Is Dougal Douglas Read More

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

This is a brilliant novel, but one I found it difficult to enjoy. The title, appropriately for a parody of America’s deep south in the 1960s, comes from master satirist Jonathan Swift and is a perfect description of the book. The author has assembled a cast of grotesques, from aged crones to spoilt housewives, and Read More