Cheltenham Literature Festival Blog Tour

I was delighted to be asked to take part in the blog tour celebrating this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival. Participants were asked to pick one of the topics from the festival programme to receive a random book from: I chose ‘stage and screen’ and was delighted when Adam Buxton’s memoir Ramble Book came through the Read More

Lots of Shiny Linkiness

Time to catch up here with a bit of linkiness to my reviews published at Shiny New Books, there have been several over the past weeks I’ve not mentioned here. Star Turns by Tim Walker Journalist Tim Walker has worked at many publications, currently at the New European, where he resurrected the Mandrake diary column Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Second Place

My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books. Our starting book this month is: Second Place by Rachel Cusk Longlisted for the Booker Prize, Read More

Reading the Decades #4: The 1960s

I am more often than not devoted to contemporary fiction, the shiny and the new. But I do read some older books too. The metrics in my annual reading stats include the number of books I’ve read published before I was born in 1960 and those between 1960 and 1999: they prove I’m not totally Read More

Review Round-up – Thompson, Bythell & Cowen / Hayes

Beeswing by Richard Thompson In the mid-80s I discovered British folk music, thanks to friends Jon and Jan. An essential part of my education was Fairport Convention and Richard Thompson, although it’s fair to say that Thompson’s solo work really took off for me a little later with his wonderful 1991 song 1952 Vincent Black Read More

Review Catch-up – Tadjo, Fuller and Benson

My review pile runneth over and there are a couple of books that I would have reviewed for Shiny, but I don’t feel I can write a long piece on, so I will cover them here in my review round-up. In the Company of Men by Véronique Tadjo Back in 2014, the world awoke to Read More

Five Novels about Cinema

To celebrate my first going out of an evening in a long time to the cinema to see Cruella – which I loved (it’s like The Devil Wears Prada with extra real teeth: Emmas Stone and Thompson have a whale of a time! – trailer here), here’s five novels I’ve enjoyed about cinema, involving the Read More

#QuickReads 2021

Quick Reads, developed by the Reading Agency is celebrating 15 years of the scheme today. That’s 15 years of encouraging those who don’t read, or find reading difficult, as well as those who don’t have time to read much, to pick up one of their novella length £1 books, written by some of our best-known Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Beezus and Ramona

My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books. Our starting book this month is: Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary I’m the right age Read More

Review catch-up!

This spring into summer period is shaping up to be a huge publishing push, as publishers catch-up with COVID-19 delays. It’s nice to see new books spread out over several months too, which I hope means that more will get the attention they deserve. Will they revert to form in September and October though? Woe Read More

#BanksRead2021 : 5 The Shock-Jock Thriller One

Dead Air by Iain Banks Phew! Life turned out to be busier than anticipated this week, but I managed to finish reading my third Iain Banks book for my #BanksRead2021 this morning. Now for a quick review! Dead Air, alongside The Steep Approach to Garbadale was one of the two mainstream novels by Banks that Read More

#BanksRead2021: 4 – The Dystopian One

A Song of Stone by Iain Banks There’s something about Scotland that suits dystopias of the military takeover kind–the abundance of castles, lochs and game all play their parts. Distant memory reminds me of the last episodes of the mid-1970s BBC series Survivors which had the plucky survivors in the Highlands, negotiating with a laird Read More

#BanksRead2021: 3 – Dipping into Banks’s Poems

Banks and his close friend, fellow SF author, Ken MacLeod were working on publishing a joint collection of poems as Banks learnt of his terminal diagnosis, and he continued revising in his remaining time, their collaboration being published posthumously in 2015. Banks’s first published work in 1977 was a poem: ‘041’ – more on that Read More

#BanksRead2021 : 1 -Walking on Glass

Although this was a re-read for me, given that it’s been 35 years since I read it and it’s not one of Banks’s more celebrated novels, I think I can be forgiven for not remembering a thing about it. I read my first edition UK Futura paperback in the small format, with a white cover Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Shuggie Bain

My favourite monthly tag, hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest,  Six Degrees of Separation #6degrees picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Links to my reviews are in the titles of the books. Our starting book this month is: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart I haven’t read last year’s Read More

Shiny Linkiness – Hamburg to Douala

Today, just a couple of links to my latest reviews for Shiny New Books. Having been able to read more during furlough – last day today, back to school on Monday (looking forward to that and dreading it at the same time – but I have had my first jab, so will feel safer as Read More

Reading the Decades #2: The 1970s

Those who visit this blog regularly will know of my devotion to contemporary fiction, the shiny and the new. But I’m not really a one-trick pony in my reading. The metrics in my annual reading stats include the number of books I’ve read published before I was born in 1960 and those between 1960 and Read More

Shiny Linkiness

Just a quick post to direct you towards Shiny New Books where I have two reviews posted this week, both from indie publishers: Mr Cadmus by Peter Ackroyd This is Ackroyd having huge fun with not a Victorian in sight! This novella is a sort of dark, twisted version of a quaint British cosy mystery Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Redhead by the Side of the Road

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 point is Anne Tyler’s latest, which I’ve yet to read, but Read More

Reading the Decades #1: The 1940s

Those who visit this blog regularly will know of my devotion to contemporary fiction, the shiny and the new. But I’m not really a one-trick pony in my reading. One of the metrics in my annual reading stats is the number of books I’ve read published before I was born in 1960, and while it Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Hamnet

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 point is Maggie O’Farrell’s Women’s Prize winning novel Hamnet, which is Read More

2021 Reading Plans

Firstly 2020 Reading Plans – How did I do? State of the TBR – I did actually read ten more books than 2019 from the TBR that I’d owned before 2020 began, but over the year I’ve added loads to it too. Blame it on lockdown browsing. However, I’ve decided that now I’m 60, I’m Read More

Review of the Year #3: Books of the Year!

These days, I’ve given up trying to limit my choices to an established number characteristic of best of lists, long or short. I’ve had a good year of quality reading, awarding 10/10 to no fewer than 26 books – so 20% of my reading approx. Those scores are only snapshots of course, and some books Read More

Nicola Barker is a bloody genius!

I am Sovereign by Nicola Barker I have a big pile of books read to be reviewed, yet the moment I finished this novella in bed this morning I had to write about it! (Let’s hope it gets my reviewing mojo back on track). I’d hoped to read it during Novellas in November hosted by Cathy and Rebecca, Read More

Thoughts on the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Shortlist

Next week, this year’s Shadow panel for the Sunday Times / Warwick University Young Writer of the Year Award will gather electronically to pick their winner from the five books chosen this year. While it is a shame that they can’t make the trip into London to meet in person to do it, I’m sure Read More

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