Smoke and mirrors – some novels about Magicians

Novels involving magicians – illusionists and conjurors rather than Gandalf types that is, score highly on my literary theme radar. I love all their skills, sleight of hand and misdirection, the optical illusions, all backed up by patter or a stage presence that fools us. Nowadays, of course, we exclaim in wonderment “how did they Read More

Short Non-Fiction for Novellas in November #NovNov – Bill Bailey!

Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to Happiness Saturday nights have been bright again since Strictly returned to our screens – the absolute highlight not being the fit young things, but the utter seriousness being given to learning to dance given by Bill Bailey, partnered by Oti. (with Ranvir and Giovanni delighting too). Bill is clearly trying Read More

Nonfiction November – Book Pairings

Week 2 of #NonfictionNov is hosted by Julz Reads with the prompt: This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Wild Card

My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in the titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month it’s a wild card – with the instructions to start with the book Read More

Vampire novels I have read – Ranked!

When I was writing my recent review of Vlad by Carlos Fuentes, a literary relocation of Dracula to modern Mexico, I was struck by the large number of vampire novels that I’ve read over the years, especially since I began blogging – probably more vampires than zombies, fallen angels, demons and perhaps even ghosts added Read More

Review Catch-Up

Not only have I been too busy and mentally wired the past couple of weeks to read much. I’m also way behind on reviewing, so a bit of a catch-up is in order, so two shorter reviews for you today! Firstly though, I watched Susanna Clarke in conversation with Madeline Miller on the Waterstones feed Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Rodham

My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in the titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month our starting book is: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld A book I’ve not read, Read More

20 Books of Summer #15 – Berners-Lee

There Is No Planet B by Mike Berners-Lee Back in 2010, I read Mike B-L’s first book, How Bad are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything reviewed here. Apart from being very informative, I found MB-L (yes, he is the brother of Sir Tim) to be an entertaining host as he talked us through his Read More

A Cracking Memoir – Mother by Nicholas Royle, and a DNF

Before I get into talking about specific books, an apology to all the lovely book publicists who have sent me review copies of titles out from mid-August onwards. THANK YOU! I will read and review all the books you’ve sent, but with the crowding of titles coming out on this year’s ‘Super Thursday’ – Sept Read More

#WITmonth is here!

August is #WIT – Women In Translation month, a long-term project hosted as always by Meytal at Bilibio. Meytal does a fab job at highlighting the widest possible range of women authors around the whole world, ensuring that we read beyond the Eurocentric publishing world of books in translation. As always I will join in, Read More

Stats Fun

Rebecca posted some data from her blog stats the other day here, and I took a look at mine too. I wasn’t going to post anything, but when I discovered that they are really linked by one particular post/author I couldn’t resist commenting here too. That post of mine is entitled ‘Return to Wigtown‘ and Read More

20 Books of Summer #1-2 Braithwaite and Saunders

My 20 books has got off to a slow start. The distractions of 800 pages of a SF classic for book group, an impulse re-read and the review pile for summer suddenly growing with moved dates – that’s my excuse. But I am 2 in, just 18 to go! My Sister, the Serial Killer by Read More

The Rathbones Folio Prize: Thoughts on the Shortlist

The Rathbones Folio Prize definitely has a USP: Books are nominated by members of its Academy rather than publishers. The Folio Academy members are mostly writers and critics, nominated by the Prize Foundation or their peers and now number around 250. This leads to a rather different set of books (published in the previous year) Read More

Review of the Decade

Happy New Year & Happy New Decade! But, before I dive headlong into the 2020s, here’s just one more backwards-looking post to pick out my highlights for each year of the 2010s, well 2010-2018 – I’m considering 2019 done! 2018 Book of the Year: To Throw Away Unopened by Viv Albertine. Something about this memoir Read More

Year End Review 6: It’s my BOOKS OF THE YEAR!

This year I’ve given up trying to shoehorn my selections into a set number, be it 10, 12 or a baker’s dozen. My list has as many categories as I felt I needed – which ended up as 18 this year. Without further ado, here they are: Best fictional biography: Murmur by Will Eaves – Read More

Year End Review 2: The Disappointments

The DNFs I still find it difficult, even after all my decades of reading, to stop reading a book. However, this year I was a little tougher on myself and I had more DNFs than previously.. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien – (75/480 pages) – This was for book group, but Read More

Review of the Year 1: The Discoveries

I’m kicking off my review of my 2019 reading year by sharing a few of the authors I discovered for the first time and now want to read much more of – and poetry! Charlotte Bingham Bingham’s volume of memoir MI5 and Me (reviewed here) which covers her later teens in the late 1950s when Read More

Two Short Reviews: Rodriguez Fowler & Bourland

The Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodriguez Fowler I was lucky enough to be on the Shadow Panel in 2017 for this fabulous award that celebrates works by young authors (18-35), having followed it before then, and ever since, naturally. This year’s Shadow Panel also had an interesting set of books to choose from: poetry, a Read More

A Beckettian comedy about er… death?

The Faculty of Indifference by Guy Ware I don’t often include a publisher’s blurb in my reviews, but felt the need with this novel – The following comes from the back of the paperback: Robert Exley works for the Faculty: he spends his life making sure that nothing ever happens. In counter-terrorism, that s your Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Sanditon

Hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in the titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month – the starting book is: Sanditon by Jane Austen I’ve not read Austen’s last, unfinished novel, nor Read More

German Literature Month: A Black Forest Investigation III

The Dance of Death by Oliver Bottini Translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch I’m late to German Literature Month, hosted by Caroline and Lizzy, but have just made it with the third crime novel in Oliver Bottini’s ‘Black Forest Investigation’ series. Louise Boni is a Chief Inspector with the Freiburg ‘Kripo’. She’s in her Read More

Non-Fiction Novellas in November

Combining two reading tags into one, today I have a couple of contrasting non-fiction short reads for you… Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay Destined to be in thousands of Christmas stockings, this is a bijou helping of more stories in diary form from the author of This is Going to Hurt (reviewed Read More

Novellas in November: Two French ones

Novellas in November is hosted by Laura at Reading in Bed.  I really enjoyed taking part last year, here is the first of what I hope will be several posts this month, this time on two French novellas in translation. Lie With Me by Philippe Besson Translated by Molly Ringwald Before I tell you about the book, yes, it is translated by Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links in the titles will take you to my reviews. This month – the starting book is: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll A childhood favourite that I re-read so many Read More

My Most Reviewed Authors & A Reading Week Proposal

I’ve been on half term for the past fortnight, and my major project has been to create a new master index of books read and reviewed since I started my blog, and you can see it on the tab above – the one called ‘Review Index’. Easier said than done to get in a format Read More

Literary Genre Fiction – let’s discuss

Earlier this week, Rebecca took part in a tag on the subject of literary fiction (see here), and after defining what literary fiction is for you and picking some examples, the tag asks, “Name a brilliant literary-hybrid genre novel.” Rebecca chose The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell – which I read many years ago, and Read More

Incoming…

It’s not often that I do one of these posts these days, but I had two recent great charity shop visits. Please note – I refuse to use the words ‘book haul’ to describe my purchases, it’s an ugly term. The word ‘haul’ to me infers a bit of a chore, which buying books can Read More

A perplexing thriller and a new trope: ‘Nuclear Noir’

The Carrier by Mattias Berg Translated from the Swedish by George Goulding This thriller has a premise and a half to keep you reading. Imagine you’re on a state visit and the agent who is never more than a few feet from POTUS, the agent called Erasmus Levine carrying the briefcase with the nuclear launch Read More

Return to Wigtown

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell Bythell owns Scotland’s largest secondhand bookshop in the self-proclaimed Book Town of Wigtown in Galloway, south-west Scotland. His book Diary of a Bookseller (reviewed here) was a big hit in 2017, and for anyone returning for this second volume, it is comfortingly more of the same. The first Read More