Six Degrees of Separation: A Christmas Carol

Better late than never – here’s my go this month.  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. Our starting book this month is … A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Dickens’ classic tale of redemption at Christmas. I could have Read More

Novellas in November – Part 3

Although my normal reading contains a fair smattering of novellas anyway, I’ve loved concentrating on reading novellas this November – here’s my third and final selection for this month: Poor Cow by Nell Dunn Published in 1967, Dunn’s novella is a ‘classic of 1960s London life’ and was her second work of fiction after her Read More

A London Day Out

On the last of our London days out these summer holidays, my daughter and I experienced several real treats (at half-price entry thanks to our Art Fund Passes, which have got a lot of use this summer)… Stop 1 – The House of Illustration – John Vernon Lord and Enid Marx The House of Illustration Read More

Book Group report: ‘Black’

The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch Our book group has never tackled Murdoch, although back in the day before I joined, they read John Bayley’s memoir of his wife, Iris, so I’m told. Several of us had read various novels by Iris Murdoch before  – indeed I read a whole bunch back in the late Read More

The Beautiful Young Things behaved so badly…

  Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh This was our book group choice this month. Unfortunately we ended up not meeting to discuss it, but the emails swapped afterwards confirmed one thing – none of us loved it, and most found it a perplexing bore. This is strange for I’ve read several other Waughs over the Read More

A sassy pageturner – smart, fun and thought-provoking

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter Although I don’t really believe in having guilty pleasures as far as choice of reading goes, I don’t read much what marketers call ‘women’s commercial fiction’. When I do read a book that falls into this category, it does feel like a guilty pleasure though and I revel in it, Read More

A Grand Day Out: Art & Shakespeare

A diversion from literary fare today. My daughter and I went to London yesterday for a day of art and Shakespeare. It was a long day – we got home at 1am, but it was rather brilliant. Our first stop was: The House of Illustration This gallery nestles beside Central St Martin’s school of art Read More

A novel life in a day…

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf I’ve been meaning to read Mrs Dalloway for years and years. It’s one of those novels that has influenced so many others that I feel I should read it. However, I will admit I find the idea of Woolf challenging, (only having previous toyed with Orlando).  What made me finally Read More

Meanwhile at Shiny…

…I’ve had several reviews published recently. In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant Sarah Dunant’s latest novel chronicles the last year of Pope Alexander VI’s life. He was, of course, head of the Borgia family in Renaissance Italy. His mad and vicious soldier son Cesare, and daughter about to be thrice-married Lucrezia complete Read More

It’s been a busy week…

I am nearly in possession of a newly rebuilt conservatory. The old one was single glazed and rotting away – you could see the outdoors at the corners of some windows where the wood was falling off. I managed to get a good deal to have all the glass replaced with UPVC, latest technology with Read More

This one gave me the creeps…

I See You by Clare Mackintosh I see you. But you do’t see me. You’re engrossed in your book; a paperback cover with a girl in a red dress. I can’t see the title but it doesn’t matter; they’re all the same. If it isn’t boy meets girl, it’s boy stalks girl. Boy kills girl. 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

‘Till we have built Jerusalem, In Englands green & pleasant Land’

The Countenance Divine by Michael Hughes What a gorgeous cover, eh? Many among you will recognise the title of this novel as coming from Jerusalem – the celebrated hymn with words by Blake and music by Parry. In fact, Blake’s words are taken from the preface to a much longer work, Milton, a Poem. The short poem Read More

Great Gatsby, it’s Gorsky!

Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy This novel, a bold reimagining of The Great Gatsby relocated to contemporary London, longlisted for this year’s Bailey’s Prize, has turned out to be a bit of a marmite novel. There are roughly three camps of thought about it: Those who love The Great Gatsby and loved what Goldsworthy has done with Gorsky. Those who love The Great Read More

The Slow Horses meet the Real Tigers

Real Tigers by Mick Herron This is the third of Mick Herron’s ‘Slough House’ spy novels, following Slow Horses and Dead Lions. Previously, I’d only read the first, Slow Horses (reviewed here), but found that it was alright to jump to the third; the references to the second novel are few and don’t affect the Read More

Celebrating John Creasey and Dennis Wheatley

Yesterday I went to another of literary agency PFD’s salons at the Groucho Club, this time to celebrate the books and lives of John Creasey and Dennis Wheatley.  Authors who were read by everyone at their peaks, hugely influential with totally different lives and styles – yet as we discovered, they have a lovely connection… Read More

Lots of great books to look forward to

I was delighted to be invited to the Faber Spring Launch Party, which was held at a fabulous venue – the crypt on the green of St James Church in Clerkenwell – last night. It was also fantastic to meet up with old friends in Kim, Eric, Simon S and @flossieteacake, and talk to some other lovely people like the ladies from the Sevenoaks Read More

Kerching! It’s so 1980s

Money by Martin Amis (republished into its original place in my blog time-line from the lost post archive) So, earlier in the summer we were picking a book to discuss at book group and someone suggested The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis. He’s an author we’ve not read in the group before but that title didn’t appeal; individually we’d Read More

A case of the ‘sweats’ …

A Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to reading this, the first volume in Louise Welsh’s planned Plague Times trilogy (the second was published earlier this month), for it turned out to be a taut suspense thriller combining a murder mystery with Read More

The case of the missing disk…

Acts of Omission by Terry Stiastny Thrillers set in the world of modern British politics are not that common compared with those led by the spies who report to the politicians; Acts of Omission is mainly the former. It is the debut novel by a former BBC News reporter who worked in Berlin in the late 1990s and is Read More

Annabel’s Shelves: B is for …

Republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Ballard, J.G. – The Drowned World Being on a dystopian reading kick at the moment,  when I finally came to choose my ‘B’ book for my Annabel’s Shelves project, I picked another. There was one author and particular title that just leapt out at Read More

A waterworld

This post has been edited and republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. The Ship by Antonia Honeywell I’m on a watery/eco-thriller/dystopian reading binge at the moment, set off by picking up this novel – I couldn’t resist the colourful cover with its silhouette of a broken London landscape and a nod Read More

Annabel’s Shelves: A is for…

This post was edited and republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Arnott, Jake – The Long Firm Thank you to everyone who suggested authors beginning with ‘A’ for the first read of my Annabel’s Shelves project. Atwood was a very popular suggestion, and I’m sorry to disappoint you but I have Read More

Consumer culture gone mad in a warped and very funny novel…

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive. Get Me Out of Here by Henry Sutton Scanning my TBR shelves for something different to read the other week, I alighted on this novel remembering that Kim had loved it! It was time to return to a novel by Henry Read More

Consumer culture gone mad in a warped and very funny novel…

Get Me Out of Here by Henry Sutton This review has be republished into my original blog timeline from my lost posts archives. Scanning my TBR shelves for something different to read the other week, I alighted on this novel remembering that Kim had loved it! It was time to return to a novel by Henry Read More

Saturday Selection

Another busy week! Thank goodness I have nothing booked in for the next fortnight – even for half term, except for promising my daughter a London trip to Camden market. Monday night was my Book Group – this month we read The Amber Fury (aka The Furies) by Natalie Haynes. I read this book last year and Read More

Dancing the Seasons with Powell #1

Republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost post archive   A Dance to the Music of Time 1: A Question of Upbringing Looking out of his window at some workmen around a brazier, Nicholas Jenkins is reminded of the four seasons on Poussin’s celebrated painting (detail above), and the passing of time in his life. Read More

My Books of the Year 2014 – Part Two – The Blog edit

Yesterday I shared my best reads of 2014 as reviewed for Shiny New Books. Today, I turn my attention to titles reviewed here. The links will return you to my full reviews: – Best Retro-Subversive Laugh-Out-Loud Book Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler So nearly my book of the year, Discovering Scarfolk is just hilarious! Stuck firmly in Read More

A post Cold-War spy drama

A Spy’s Life by Henry Porter Many moons ago I read Henry Porter’s first novel Rememberance Day (2000) which was a fast-moving spy thriller and I enjoyed it very much indeed. Finally, years later, I’ve read his second – another standalone spy-thriller about an ex-spy who finds out that you can never truly leave your former Read More

My first Penelope Fitzgerald read…

At Freddie’s by Penelope Fitzgerald Penelope Fitzgerald is yet another of those lauded middle-brow female novelists from the second half of the twentieth century that I had not yet tackled. I’ve long been a champion of Beryl Bainbridge and Muriel Spark; I’ve added Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Forster, Edna O’Brien, Penelope Mortimer and not forgetting Barbara Read More