A case of act first, think later…

I Was Jack Mortimer by Alexander Lernet-Holenia Translated by Ignat Avsey Alexander Lernet-Holenia was Austrian, a protégé of Rilke, he wrote poems, novels, plays and screenplays. He served during both world wars, but managed to keep his distance from the National Socialist Party. I Was Jack Mortimer (Ich war Jack Mortimer) was published in 1933, 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

More Book Spine Poetry

Last year in lockdown, I made several stacks of books to create some book spine poetry, having tried it previously here some years prior. My first lockdown one was a Paul Auster poem here, followed by a ‘lockdown special pair here. Doing some cleaning up of files on my computer, I discovered another one I 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

Book Group Report: “I” is for Ice by Anna Kavan & 2020 wrap-up

Ice by Anna Kavan was my suggestion. So many bloggers I know have read and loved it, not least Kaggsy, who reviewed recentish reissues of it for Shiny New Books here. First published in 1967, this novella has become an uncategorisable cult classic. There’s a hint of dystopia about it, there’s a hint of cli-fi 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

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

Weekend Miscellany

Last night I planned to sit in my hotel room in Leeds and read a book – just couldn’t read. I was aching from all the carrying I’d done, and all the noises around me, hotel ones and student ones from the huge accommodation block next door where I’d deposited my daughter earlier, kept me Read More

The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually by Helen Cullen – Blogtour

Last year I read Helen Cullen’s delightful debut, The Lost Letters of William Woolf, reviewed here. This novel about a chap who works at the Dead Letter Depot, reuniting lost letters and parcels with their intended recipients, sometimes years later, was an ideal spring into summer read for me (in paperback) with a great premise Read More

Bringing Vernon’s story to a close – VS3 by Virginie Despentes

Vernon Subutex 1-3 by Virginie Despentes Translated by Frank Wynne It was back in 2017 that Vernon Subutex first came to us in translation, in volume 1 of a planned trilogy following the (slightly Reggie Perrinesque) fall and rise of Vernon. The first book was published in France in 2015. I highly recommend these books Read More

The Inside and Out Book Tag

I got this tag from Calmgrove, who got it from Bookforager who got it from someone else. (I wonder what its ‘R-number’ is? 😀 ) 1. Inside flap/back of the book summaries: Too much info? Or not enough? Unless I’m in a bookshop browsing, I try not to read blurbs in too much detail. In a Read More

Binge-Watching

At the tail-end of 2016, I read Clive James’s book on binge-watching TV box sets, Play All, which I reviewed here. Personal old favourites of mine, The Sopranos, The West Wing and NYPD Blue featured strongly in this book, and looking back at my review of it, I really ought to re-watch The Sopranos from Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: Normal People

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. Our starting book this month is: Normal People by Sally Rooney I haven’t read this Read More

Shiny Linkiness

Today over at Shiny New Books is my review of the wonderful third novel from Natasha Pulley: The Lost Future of Pepperharrow Pulley’s third novel revisits the characters of her first, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street (reviewed here) and takes them back to Japan in the late 1880s, where the clairvoyant Keita Mori will be Read More

Review Catch-up – Moor – Edwards – Moss

Thank you to everyone for their kind words about my Shiny cock-up! Much appreciated. About one year’s worth of reviews are now back up for your delectation – five to go – but I’m really enjoying revisiting them and getting links up to date and so on. Meanwhile I have been reading, and here are Read More

Easter Bunnies

Watership Down Cover Art Richard Adams’ first novel Watership Down was published in 1972 by the publisher Rex Collings in a rather sweet, but monochrome cover (above). The novel had been rejected by several publishers, but after publication went on to win the Carnegie Medal amongst many other awards. Thinking about Easter bunnies, I made Read More

Blog Tour: Richard Russell – Liberation Through Hearing

Richard Russell is the producer and owner of XL Recordings, home of some artists I know well such as Radiohead, Adele, The Gotan Project and the White Stripes, but also a lot of fare that isn’t my normal listening such as The Prodigy, MIA, Dizzee Rascal and more. I may not listen to that second 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

Des livres en traduction pour les petits enfants

Il y a des ans, j’ai écrit un article de blog sur le sujet des livres traduits en latin, (ici). Récemment, un collègue qui enseigne le français à nos jeunes élèves a obtenu des éditions traduites de livres d’images classiques. Vachement chouette! (as they used to say in France for ‘really cool’!) I can’t resist Read More

The Rathbones Folio Prize: Thoughts on the Shortlist

The Rathbones Folio Prize definitely has a USP: Books are nominated by members of its Academy rather than publishers. The Folio Academy members are mostly writers and critics, nominated by the Prize Foundation or their peers and now number around 250. This leads to a rather different set of books (published in the previous year) Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #10

While I recover from my Auster-thon and finish some more books by other authors, here’s yet another selection from my master spreadsheet of capsule reviews of books I read pre-blog – this batch is from 2007, and there’s still plenty more where these came from! (Buy at Amazon links are all affiliate links, I’ll earn Read More

Paul Auster Reading Week: Man in the Dark

I am alone in the dark, turning the world around in my head as I struggle through another bout of insomnia, another white night in the great American wilderness. Another great opening line from Auster in his 2008 novel. The narrator is August Brill, a writer who is seventy-two, living again with his daughter and Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them then… #9

I’m getting into my Paul Auster Reading Week reading (17-23rd Feb), so here are some more 2006 capsule reviews from my master spreadsheet. Hope you enjoy them. Jackie Brown (a.k.a. Rum Punch) by Elmore Leonard Originally titled Rum Punch, this novel was reissued and retitled after the Tarantino film of it. If you’ve seen the 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