Weekend Miscellany

GoodReads Challenge I’ve done it! Pressure’s off now, except I’d like to beat my best ever total of 142 in 2018! With a clutch of novellas (see more below) that might be doable too! However, I doubt I’ll reach my best ever total page count of over 41k from 2016, I’m currently in the 31k 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

20 Books of Summer 21 nos. 16-17 – Zadie Smith & Horatio Clare

Firstly I’m going to pause to go ‘Whoop! Whoop!’ – I’ve read my 20 books with days to spare. I honestly didn’t think I’d make it, but judicious choice of some short books to finish has done the job – all 20 were books I’ve owned since 2020 and were all own copies from my Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Postcards from the Edge

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: Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher Oh, how I Read More

Mixed Summer Reading

A twofer today… Yeah! Everyone Is Still Alive by Cathy Rentzenbrink After loving Cathy Rentzenbrink’s heartbreaking but witty memoir The Last Act of Love, (and having her semi-memoir Dear Reader on my shelves which I hope to get to in my 20 Books of Summer 21), I was always going to be interested in reading Read More

The Beresford by Will Carver – blog tour

I do love a horror novel that has a strong sense of dark humour, (cf my love for the books of Grady Hendrix here, here and here). Somehow I’ve not managed to encounter Will Carver before, but after reading The Beresford I’ll be exploring his back catalogue soon, for this novel is genuinely creepy but 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

20 Books of Summer 21 #3 – A Midsummer’s Novel

Love in Idleness by Amanda Craig This week has seen the summer solstice on the 21st, and Midsummer’s Day on the 24th, so what better time to read a modern take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. ‘Love-in-idleness’ is the name of the flower that Oberon gets Puck to find to squeeze its love potion Read More

A strange hybrid self-help book

The Brain Fitness Book by Rita Carter This is a strange hybrid of a book. While it’s obviously aimed at the middle-aged, I couldn’t quite work out precisely which of us it is aimed at. Let me explain a little about the contents. The book has four main sections. The first, ‘How the Brain Works’, 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

Six Degrees of Separation: The Bass Rock

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: The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld I’ve not read Wyld’s Read More

The Dylan Thomas Prize 2021 & Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis

This Thursday sees the prize ceremony for one of the most interesting prizes for young writers. Run by Swansea University, The International Dylan Thomas Prize is awarded to the ‘best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under’ – the age of Dylan Thomas at his death. After 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

Reading the Decades #3: The 1930s

As a breather from Iain Banks, today, another of my Reading the Decades posts. 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 Read More

The Book Blogger’s Prize – the results are in!

It’s been a while coming, but the results are finally in and a winner has been announced. Sadly it wasn’t me! However, I’d like to take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who voted for me and my review of Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, a book I’ve championed since its publication Read More

Shiny Linkiness – Becky Chambers

Just a quick note here to say that my review of Becky Chambers’ final book of the Wayfarer’s Quartet is up at Shiny New Books today. All four novels stand alone, being set in the same galactic milieu with different characters, just a few minimal references to characters in the other novels. You can read Read More

The NB Blogger’s Book Prize! Vote Closes on the 17th.

First of all, a big thank you to Rebecca who pointed this prize out to me, I might have missed the submission date otherwise. NB, formerly New Books, Magazine is ‘a literary magazine and online platform for book lovers, book clubs and all round bibliophiles.’ I used to subscribe to it in its initial guise, Read More

Two more indies in translation: Yuri Herrera and Kristina Carlson

This year, I’m going for it as far as reading from my own shelves is concerned, continuing to read more from small presses, and more in translation. Of the latter, that’s 13/30 books read so far – ten languages from twelve countries. I’m pleased with that. If I can add more books from Africa into 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

Enough. by Dr Cassandra Coburn

‘How Your Food Choices Will Save the Planet’ The blog tour stops here today for a book that turned out to be not what I expected at all really. When offered Enough. (with a full stop.) for review, I didn’t really look beyond the upside-down cow on the cover. From that, I was expecting a 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

Three more Novellas for Nov, well Dec now

As I love novellas, I kept on reading them after the end of Novellas in November (hosted by by Cathy and Rebecca). So here are quick reviews of three more, all of which were superb: one each from Irish, French and Italian authors. Academy Street by Mary Costello Costello’s 2014 novella follows in the vein of Colm Tóibín’s Read More

Shiny Linkiness

In the last few weeks, I’ve written four reviews for Shiny New Books, and neglected to mention them here until now. Click on the title below to go straight to my full Shiny review. I’m loving the colour-coordinated covers of these four books too! Numbers Don’t Lie by Vaclav Smil – one for fans of Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret

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 one of Judy Blume’s most enduring titles – Are you there God? 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

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

October Wrap-up and November Plans

Feels like I’m behind on everything this month – too many distractions! I only read nine books above, of which I’ve only managed to write reviews for two! While there were no duds in that pile at all, I’m finding it hard to decide what to say about the others, and you know me – 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

This Could be My Book of the Year!

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke We’ve had to wait 16 years for Susanna Clarke to write her second novel, with just some short stories in between. Was it worth the wait or was it a ‘difficult’ second novel? It was definitely the former! Piranesi is one of those uncategorisable novels that has a bit of everything Read More