Two recent reads – one prose, one poetry

A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale This was our book group read for August, which we discussed earlier this week – and we scored yet another hit! I certainly loved this novel, and although not all in the group quite shared my enthusiasm for it, everyone seemed to enjoy it. Often, when we all 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

More Poetry – Joe Dunthorne & Heidi Williamson

O Positive by Joe Dunthorne No sooner had I started reading my first novel by Joe Dunthorne, the rather fab The Adulterants (reviewed here), than I discovered he had a book of poetry coming out, and I was keen to see more. O Positive with its blood-red lettering on the front cover, is divided into four sections, one for Read More

Dealing with Metrophobia

The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt You won’t find ‘metrophobia’ in the OED yet, but plenty of other places will tell you it means the fear of poetry – not underground railways! Now, I’ve always appreciated an occasional poem: I read the ones in the TLS each week; I can still remember lots of Read More

Wellcome reading 2019 #1 – Polio

Polio: The Odyssey of Eradication by Thomas Abraham In 1988, the World Health Organisation (WHO) together with UNICEF and Rotary International launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI). The aim was to rid the world of the polio virus by 2000. Little did they know that it would take billions of dollars and thirty years Read More

Book Group Report: Purple

The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel Continuing our Book Group selections inspired by colours.  At our June meeting it was time to nominate ‘purple’ books to read in August and discuss at the beginning of September.  Our initial shortlist was: The Colour Purple by Alice Walker Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg (Wioletta being Polish for Read More

Review catch-up:

Playing review catch-up, I have three rather different books for you today… Don’t Skip Out on Me by Willy Vlautin It’s ages since I read this book which I got from the Faber spring party where Vlautin, who is in a band too, sang and played his guitar for the audience. Since then, the film Read More

Comedy and the Booker Prize

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle Over at Shiny New Books, it has been ‘Booker Week’ – a decade by decade review of (nearly) all the winning titles and some that missed out on the prize. One of my contributions was to re-read and review Roddy Doyle’s winner – Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Read More

Before it gets recycled…

Sometimes, a book is just falling apart so much, and you have no need to keep it despite it having some sentimental value, that the best thing is to recycle it. This is the case with my Puffin Songbook. First published in 1956, mine is the second reprint from 1963. The cover is by Ronald Read More

Review catch up – again – and the problem of remembering!

Two shorter reviews of books I read last year…   Nutshell by Ian McEwan I read McEwan’s novel between Christmas and New Year, and the terrible thing is, I know I really enjoyed it. I know it was funny, outrageous and inspired by a quotation from Hamlet, yet I can’t really remember any detail about Read More

The Princess Bride turns 30!

Although Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman’s novel preceded the film, my first experience of romantic comedy fairytale The Princess Bride (1987) was on a small screen. I missed it at the cinema as it came out during a period in which I rarely went – but I did rent the VHS video from my local blockbuster – those 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

Over at Shiny New Books

Harriet and I are beginning to settle into our new routine over at Shiny New Books. We are now publishing new content each Tuesday and Thursday (with occasional other days in the mix to accommodate blog tours etc.). If you don’t have time to visit regularly, why not sign up to the newsletter to receive 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

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Revolutionary Road

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, this meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six steps. (Here’s my one for last month – Never Let Me Go to Electricity by Ray Robinson). This month the starting book is Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Now this is a Read More

A Portrait of Bowie by Brian Hiatt

A tribute to Bowie by his artistic collaborators and contemporaries Rolling Stone senior writer Brian Hiatt has come up with a clever combination of content in this book that will appeal to all kinds of Bowie fans: Those who love art will appreciate the forty fabulous portraits within its pages – by top photographers, wonderful Read More

Bookish Delights

Yesterday I was delighted to be invited to attend a bloggers afternoon at the Groucho Club hosted by literary agents PFD to meet and hear some of the authors shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times/Peters Fraser Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award – and you couldn’t hope for a more diverse collection of literary styles Read More

The #1947Club

The third week of reading from a particular year with hosts Simon and Karen. After 1924 and 1938, we’ve reached 1947. Checking my master spreadsheet, I have only previously read one book published in this year.That was Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada – which I blogged about at my old blog here. Back to what to Read More

Paris in July: Discovering Antoine Laurain

Paris in July is an annual event hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea – it’s now in its seventh year. I’ve managed to squeeze in a second Parisian read this month… The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain What a discovery this novel and its author were! Feel-good and completely charming, The President’s Hat was the perfect book to Read More

Catching up on reviewing…

My to be reviewed pile is larger than I like and I don’t want to forget the books – so here are some shorter reviews for you: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics This is one scary novel – published as a YA book but is definitely not for younger teenaged readers! The story is narrated Read More

The art of haiku and unrequited love…

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault Translated by Liedewy Hawke I‘ve been meaning to read this bittersweet novella ever since Hesperus Press published it in England last autumn. Read now, it made a perfect palate-cleanser between some heavier reads for the new issue of Shiny New Books (out on Thursday 8th Read More

Trapped in genteel poverty

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters When we chose the second title for the Shiny Book Club, we wanted something totally different to the first (The Bees, which I reviewed here). It had to fit our criteria of being a Shiny New Book Read More

A double helping of Maigret

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost post archive. One of the great things about Georges Simenon’s Maigret novels is that they’re short. Each features a story told in full, but achieved within 160 pages or so – in this he resembles Muriel Spark. No words are wasted and there is no flowery Read More

‘Get Lost – Get Found’

This post was republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive.   Paper Towns by John Green I still haven’t read John Green’s best-selling The Fault in Our Stars – but I did see the film. I enjoyed it and predictably, I cried. My daughter lapped up book and film, and is forever Read More

Christmas Shiny Linkiness …

Today, I’d like to direct you over to my reviews in the Shiny New Books Christmas Inbetweeny.  By the way, have you tried our Shiny Advent Quiz yet? Ideal as a post-prandial competition… But back to my reviews as these books are all too good to leave off mentioning here too: The Islanders by Pascal Read More

It was surprising how many of us had a Jean Brodie in our schooldays…

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark Published in 1961, Spark’s delicious tale of a teacher who lives vicariously through her selected pupils was our book group’s choice this month. Our discussions were wide-ranging, but we started off by chatting about how real Miss Brodie was – and it turned out that most of Read More

School's out, summer's in, time for Panic…

Panic by Lauren Oliver Scene – a small town in middle America, school’s out for summer. For those who’ve graduated high school, finding a full-time job will be a priority unless you’re one of the lucky few who are off to college. The town of Carp is small and poor – no-one has any money.  But there Read More