Let’s get quizzical…

Two short reviews for you today, a quiz book and a novel about a quiz. Being a quiz-fiend, I couldn’t resist either of them! The Rock & Roll A Level by David Hepworth I’ve a lot of time for David Hepworth, following him from Smash Hits to Q to Empire to Mojo to The Word Read More

Japanese Literature Challenge #1

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide Translated by Eric Selland The Japanese write a lot of books about cats, don’t they? Being a cat lover, these books are irresistible to me, I couldn’t resist the green foiled eyes glinting out at me on the cover of The Guest Cat, a book I’ve seen glowingly reviewed Read More

Review Round-Up – Tugwell, Mole & Hession

Three shorter reviews for you today of three very contrasting books – a psychological thriller, a lovely non-fiction book and a word-of-mouth gem of a novel. Dishonoured by Jem Tugwell Tugwell has written two spec fiction crime novels, but turns his hand to a psycho thriller for his third book. Dishonoured follows the rise and Read More

We are What We Watch? The Age of Static by Phil Harrison

I’ve found my TV consumption creeping back up a little during lockdown, but it’s nowhere near my peak viewing years which were probably from the 1990s into the 2000s (when kids’ programmes came back into the mix). As I started reading more and blogging, my watching declined, I even dropped Eastenders for a couple of 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

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

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

Reviews catch-up: Harris, Murata, Daré & Wigglesworth

My pile of read but not yet reviewed books runneth over, so some shorter notes follow, plus some Shiny linkiness. The Book Lover’s Quiz Book – Novel Conundrums by Gary Wigglesworth My full review of this fun book is over at Shiny, but I’m writing about it here too as it’s an ideal Christmas present 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

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

Six Degrees of Separation: How To Do Nothing

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: How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell As Kate Read More

20 Books of Summer #11-12 – de Hériz & Aboulela

The Manual of Darkness by Enrique de Hériz Translated by Frank Wynne I’ll be writing this book up more fully for Shiny’s ‘My Summer Reading’ slot, in which reviewers highlight an older book they’ve been reading, but I’ll write about it in short here as it’s just still Spanish Lit Month as hosted by Stu Read More

Book Group report: D is for … Dune

Dune by Frank Herbert This was our book group choice for this month – a good lockdown read being a veritable chunkster (884 pages in the edition I read). I’ve read it twice before, as a teenager in the 1970s followed by sequels Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, then again in the 1980s after Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: What I Loved

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. I’ve opted for a single link between all the books this month which should be Read More

Alfred Hayes and his three ages of failed love…

I discovered the world of Alfred Hayes a couple of years ago when I read My Face For the World to See (reviewed here). That novella explored the doomed relationship between a nameless married narrator who rescues a younger woman from drowning at the beach in LA. The writing was so beautiful, so intense, so Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: 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, my links are all on a single theme, which I’ll tell you at Read More

Making plants fun! Review & Q&A

I Ate Sunshine for Breakfast by Michael Holland Illustrated by Philip Giordano I don’t feature many new children’s books on this blog, but I couldn’t say no when offered this one which is published today by Flying Eye Books. I mean, just look at that lovely cover. And then I opened the book up, and Read More

Crime Panel event at Mostly Books

Last night, I went to my local indie bookshop, Mostly Books in Abingdon, for their latest Crime Panel event. We had not just one or two, but five crime authors talking about their work! Olivia Kiernan, CJ ‘Caz’ Tudor, Andrew Wilson, Mick Herron and Dominick Donald. It was such a treat, and thank you to Read More

Silver by Chris Hammer

Chris Hammer was a journalist for years before writing his first thriller, Scrublands, (see Kim’s review here). In Scrublands, investigative journalist Martin Scarsden visits a town in the bush where, a year before, a priest had shot at his congregation before being killed himself. He discovers that the accepted facts don’t fit and in doing Read More

Book Group Report: A Yorkshire Classic

A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines For once, our group was united – everyone who managed to finish the book really enjoyed this novel, a much-loved modern classic from 1968, filmed as ‘Kes’ in 1969 directed by Ken Loach. As is often the case where we read books which we all loved, together Read More

Blog Tour – Cara Hunter – All the Rage

I discovered Oxford author Cara Hunter last year when she visited my local indie bookshop for a Crime Panel Event. It was fascinating to hear her talk about the genesis of her detective, DI Adam Fawley, and about the way she includes social media and transcripts in her texts. I went on to read the Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Daisy Jones & The Six

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: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid How I loved 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 4: Non-Fiction

I managed to increase the amount of non-fiction I read this year once again – I seem to be going up by one or two NF books per year! So in 2019 I read 33 non-fiction books (up to 25 December), making 25.3% of the total this year. Thanks to taking part in the Wellcome 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

Book Group report: The All Souls Trilogy: volume 1

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness I have a confession to make. When this book was first published in 2011, I was sent a proof copy. I think that back then, I was a bit ‘vamped’ out, so I put it on the shelf – and forgot about it – until we managed to Read More