July Watchlist

This was such a busy month, especially at the beginning with all the end of term stuff – trips were back on for that last fortnight – big time! Also my daughter came home from uni, I had the School magazine to compile, cover shifts at school on admin, etc etc. So I didn’t get Read More

The World is at War, Again by Simon Lowe

It’s my turn today on the blog tour for this debut novel published by Elsewhen Press, who specialise in speculative fiction. Simon Lowe has previously published short stories and newspaper pieces; his first novel is a spec fiction comedy involving several ‘Agent Assassins’. It’s perhaps easiest to give a flavour of this novel by describing Read More

Book Group report: N is for Nora Ephron

Heartburn by Nora Ephron Our Book Group have reached the second half of the alphabet! May’s book for discussion was the only novel by the creator of peerless romcoms, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, the latter she directed too. She also wrote the screenplay, directed and produced Julie & Julia, the book Read More

This can’t be ‘love’?

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting These days as a cynical divorcée, I tend to ascribe to the view that Valentine’s Day is just a marketing exercise that I don’t wish to join in with again, but you can’t get away from it, and even I can be persuaded to read or watch some romantic 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

Japanese Literature Challenge 13: The Pain of the Clown

Spark by Naoki Matayoshi Translated by Alison Watts Just fitting in at the end of the season of the Japanese Reading Challenge 13, hosted by Dolce Bellezza, here’s my second contribution. (See here for my first.) In recent times, having read several Japanese novels which are understated but still thought-provoking comedies such as The Nakano Read More

Review Catch-up: Heller, Murakami & Levy

Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller I recently re-read this for Book Group, and was reminded by what a fine novel it is. The affair between a naive art teacher and a fifteen-year-old pupil is a tough subject, given that Heller makes her protagonist quite sympathetic in a way, but the real villain of Read More

Some good reads from pre-blog days, and what I thought about them… #2

I’ve consulted my master spreadsheet again to bring you some more of my capsule reviews from my pre-blog years. Again, these are all from 2006 or before… Bringing Out the Dead by Joe Connelly This autobiographical novel is relentless, I read it in two sessions, only ending the first as I was completely drained. A Read More

RIP XIII – Book 2

Dead Funny – ed. Robin Ince & Johnny Mains Horror Stories by Comedians This little book is my second read for R.I.P. XIII (more about that here). It comprises sixteen ‘horror stories written by comedians’ and was published by Salt in 2014, and followed up two years later by Dead Funny: Encore. Short stories and Read More

Shiny Linkiness

Eric Idle – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography Yesterday I reviewed Eric Idle’s ‘Sortabiography’ for Shiny.   Read the full review here. He and Michael Palin have always been my favourite Pythons, so I was fascinated to read Idle’s memoir. However, he remains a slippery character – self-deprecating, one who’d rather 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

The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Shopgirl

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. This month’s starting point was suggested by me! Shopgirl by Steve Martin I read this book and saw the film last year – read my full review Read More

A Life in a Day… and Some

Today Will be Different by Maria Semple That’s what Eleanor Flood thinks – and it will be different, just not in the way she planned. This is the premise of Semple’s third novel, the follow-up to the hugely successful Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, which I’ve yet to read, but heard a lot of good things about… Read More

A life in a day… again and again and again…

Groundhog Day – Book by Danny Rubin, Music & Lyrics by Tim Minchin August has been such a busy month. Not only have I managed to read 19 books, but I managed to go to the theatre twice and forgot to tell you about the first time when I took my daughter to the Old 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

Mavis Cheek Blog Tour

Dog Days by Mavis Cheek Today I’m delighted to be a stop on Mavis Cheek‘s blog tour celebrating the new Ipso Books e-book editions of some of her backlist titles, of which her 1990 novel Dog Days is the latest (my review below). It has been some years since I’ve read any of Mavis’s novels, but I do remember chuckling my way through Mrs. Fytton’s Read More

Coming of age in Hollywood

A Way of Life, Like Any Other by Darcy O’Brien Many book bloggers are fans of the NYRB Classics, and I think I first heard about this short novel from Thomas a tHogglestock and promptly acquired a copy which has sat on my shelves for a while – until encouraged by comments on my yellow TBR pile post Read More

Dogs and Downsizing

Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment Originally published in 2009 and brought to the UK last year by Pushkin Press, Heroic Measures is a tale about one weekend in the life of an older couple and their beloved dachshund Dorothy. Ruth and Alex Cohen have lived for 45 years in a co-op, a ‘five-flight walk-up in the East Village’. Read More

The funniest crime novel I’ve read since I discovered Christopher Brookmyre…

One of my lost posts, republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline. Hack by Kieran Crowley If you love Christopher Brookmyre’s Jack Parlabane novels, you’re going to love this one too. Brookmyre’s Quite Ugly One Morning, which I read pre-blog,hooked me from the off – literally from it’s expletive first words! Hack however, begins in a dead-pan manner, Read More

Branagh at the Garrick – Rattigan double-bill

(republished into its original place in the time-line from my lost post archive) I went to see Kenneth Branagh’s new theatre company perform a double-bill of one-act plays by Terence Rattigan last night. The two plays, Harlequinade from the 1940s when Rattigan was at his critical peak, and All On Her Own, a twenty minute 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

A modern take on Jeeves & Wooster

This post was edited and republished back into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Wake up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames Jonathan Ames is apparently a bit of a cult author in the USA – as novelist, essayist, columnist, storyteller and creator of a sitcom for HBO called Bored to Death. I’d not Read More

My Books of the Year 2014 – Part One – the Shiny Edit…

This year for the first time, I’ve split my best of list in two. Having read around 130 books this year, there are too many to feature in just one post and there is an obvious split – today’s first part will feature those books that I’ve reviewed over at Shiny New Books.  Forgive me for continually Read More

The Divine Rev. Adam Smallbone …

The Rev. Diaries by The Reverend Adam Smallbone, (by Jon Canter) Now into its third short series on BBC2, the sitcom Rev continues to delight. It is simply hilarious, and absolutely hits the spot every time without being sacrilegious or blasphemous.  What is so lovely about it is that doesn’t make fun of faith per se; its targets Read More

ATOM! Abingdon Festival of Science & Technology

Our town of Abingdon-on-Thames is situated in one of the real science hubs of the UK. Apart from all the science faculties in Oxford to the north, just south of the town is the Harwell campus – home of the Diamond Light Source and the Rutherford Appleton Lab. To the SE is the Culham Centre Read More

A screenplay novelisation …

A Million Ways to Die In The West by Seth MacFarlane There’s no denying it – Seth MacFarlane is very talented. Apart from being very handsome, he’s an award winning animator – having worked for Hanna-Barbera after college, he’s the creator of Family Guy, co-creator/producer of American Dad, the comedy film Ted, and he acts/voices Read More

The Grand Budapest Hotel – what a film!

Imagine one of those old grand spa hotels from the early 1930s in an Eastern European alpine setting – a destination in its own right, busy, happening and very posh. Fast forward a few decades to faded grandeur marred by 1970s orange everywhere, near-empty, peopled just by the curious, or those on a bargain package… Read More

My first encounter with Richard Brautigan …

It was last summer when Karen at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings was participating in the Beats of Summer fortnight of reading from the Beat Generation, that I resolved to read a book by Richard Brautigan. As I am not a fan of On the Road or The Naked Lunch (bored by the former, weirded out by Read More

There was I, ready to cull some books …

… when I got totally distracted after only consigning one book to the charity shop pile by this little gem… Pistache by Sebastian Faulks. Originating from the BBC Radio 4 literary quiz, The Right Stuff, each week contestants would do a little party piece at the end of the show as one writer attempting the style Read More