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

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

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

Review Catch-Up

I’ve built up rather a pile of books to catch up on reviewing – it’s all the lovely fault of getting stuck into my Shiny archiving project. So here are some shorter takes to reduce the pile somewhat. Dan Leno & the Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd This was our book group choice this month, Read More

Reading Wales & Ireland

One each for the Wales Readathon hosted by Paula and Reading Ireland Month hosted by Cathy today. The Dig by Cynan Jones This novella has sat on my shelves for a few years. I meant to read it for last year’s #Dewithon but ran out of time, so it was my first choice for Welsh Read More

A review assortment – Johnston – McGlasson – Dawson

I didn’t mean to leave a week between posts, but I’ve got some very welcome overtime at the moment, which means that everything else moves into blogging time and so on. So here are three medium length reviews of recent reads for you. A Sixpenny Song by Jennifer Johnston It was Kim’s post here, celebrating 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

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

Review Clear-out! James, Scarfe, Vaughn and Auster

In an effort to make room on my dining table where I work, so we can eat Christmas lunch on it, I’m clearing the pile of books yet to be reviewed, here’s my last batch for 2019: Somewhere Becoming Rain: Collected Writings on Philip Larkin by Clive James When James died a few weeks ago, Read More

Mid-week Catch-up…

An afternoon in Oxford with Rebecca I had a lovely lightly bookish afternoon in Oxford yesterday with Rebecca (aka Bookish Beck). We met at Blackwell’s – where better in Oxford, and both being on a budget headed upstairs to the sale/second hand section on the top floor of the main shop – where we spent Read More

A Post-Nuclear Locked Room Mystery!

The Last by Hanna Jameson An American historian, Jon Keller, is at a conference in a remote hotel in the Swiss Alps when the the news that the world is at nuclear war comes through, major cities across the globe are being wiped out. Should he try to return to America while he still can Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Wild card for the hols

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 titles will take you to my reviews where they exist. This month – the starting book is a wild card – the book you ended your last chain with, which for me was: Sharp Read More

Review Catch-up

I’m so behind on my reviews, here are two shorter ones… Tony Hogan Bought me an Ice Cream Float before he Stole my Ma by Kerry Hudson This debut novel was our book group read this month. The title is rather off-putting, sounding like a C&W ballad, but it is apt – for the main Read More

Wellcome Reading #7 – Jauhar and Edelstein

Heart – A History by Sandeep Jauhar This book is the single traditional medical history/memoir to make the Wellcome Book Prize shortlist this year. Jauhar is a practising cardiologist in the USA, and he combines personal memoir of his doctor’s career and family medical notes with explaining how the heart works, patients’ stories and a Read More

Shiny Linkiness – my recent reviews

I’ve had three reviews published at Shiny New Books this week and last, so thought I’d plug them here. Just click through to read the full pieces. Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li A generational family drama following the trials and tribulations of Jimmy Han, his family and the staff of the Beijing Duck Read More

Review Catch-up #4 from 2018

This really is the last pair of books I read in the tail end of 2018 – from here-on in it’ll be 2019 reading all the way! But first two book group choices: Firstly the book we read over Christmas and discussed last week, and then February’s book – I’m writing about it now so Read More

The Last 10 Books Tag…

I got this via Simon (see his answers here) but it originated with Rick at Another Book Vlog. I couldn’t resist… The last book I gave up on There are a few books that I never really got started with, like Iris Murdoch’s The Nice and the Good, but the last one I read a decent chunk of 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

2017 in First Lines

This is a fun meme, giving a snapshot of one’s reading through the year – not necessarily an accurate sample, but fun. The title links will take you to my reviews. January:  Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis ‘They made a silly mistake, though,’ the Professor of History said, and his smile, as Dixon watched, gradually Read More

Some Literary Fireworks…

There are many, many mentions of fireworks in novels – but mostly in the metaphorical sense, so I went searching for some mentions of the real thing to share: “Borkin: Ladies and gentlemen, why are you so glum? Sitting there like a jury after it’s been sworn in! … Let’s think up something. What would Read More

An Exploration of What We Eat and How we Cook

The Science of Food by Marty Jopson You may be familiar with Marty Jopson from the occasional science films he does for programmes like The One Show.  He may have become an entertaining science boffin on telly and stage with his live show, but he has a PhD in cell biology and his mother was Read More

My August Shiny posts…

This month I wrote quite a few posts for Shiny New Books, here’s a summary of those I haven’t already mentioned: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce Although a more conventionally plotted ‘will they ever get together’ type of romance than the bestselling The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, (see my review of that here), Read More

Three Short Novels – Simenon – Fitzgerald – Johnston

Georges Simenon – The Grand Banks Café Translated by David Coward Maigret and Mrs Maigret are about to go on holiday. Mrs Maigret is packing as Maigret reads a letter that’s arrived from an old friend. “…Listen, are you still set on passing our week’s holiday in Alsace?” She stared at him, not understanding. The Read More

20 Books of Summer

This year, rather than do Book Bingo, I’m going to join in with Cathy of 746 Books and do the 20 Books of Summer challenge. I’ve chosen my 20 books. All are books I’ve acquired, not review copies. I make no apology for none of them being chunky – but choosing slimmer volumes, it might Read More

‘The honey and cider-vinegar way to health’

Folk Medicine by D.C. Jarvis M.D. Sorting through a pile of old small size paperbacks that came from my mum’s, I came across this gem. My mum was fascinated by health matters in the press, and prone to believing in all sorts of fringe medicine. She had her hair tinted several shades lighter because she Read More

Meanwhile, over at Shiny…

I have two reviews from the past couple of weeks, I haven’t shared here yet… The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott Jake Arnott’s novels are moving back in time. He started in the 1960s and 1970s with his Long Firm trilogy, (the first of which I reviewed here), then he moved back to WWII followed Read More

A great comfort at year-end

Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook by Clive James Whatever is happening outside, a new book by Clive James is always a comfort to read – something you can’t say about many other (predominantly) non-fiction writers, except Bill Bryson. I grew up reading James’ TV reviews in the Observer every weekend – looking forward to the Read More

YA adventure in Revolutionary France

Blade and Bone by Catherine Johnson This book was published to coincide with October’s Black History Month, so I fear my review is a little late, however, better late than never and this was a YA book well worth reading. Blade and Bone is the sequel to Sawbones which is where we would have first met Read More

The Bookish Time Travel Tag!

I was tagged in this meme which is on it’s travels around the bookblogs by Kaggsy, but it was started by The Library Lizard. I couldn’t not give it a go… 1. What is your favourite historical setting for a book? If you did the stats on books I’ve read, it would probably come up Read More

Books Are My Bag & a local book sale – My super Saturday book haul

It’s Books Are My Bag BAMB day at independent bookshops in the UK. Each year the BAMB team commission a limited edition bookbag. Last year was Grayson Perry’s typically challenging but great fun design – see right. This year, however, they have commissioned a bag you can take out without having to check which side Read More