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Category: Books (page 3 of 4)

The Loney

The Loney Book Cover The Loney
Andrew Michael Hurley
John Murray
April 2016

This book is so difficult to write about that I am handing it over to other people.  Both Julie Myerson and Sarah Perry say in their Guardian reviews everything I want to.

Sarah Perry review

Julie Myerson review


On the back of my two reviews below, for Waterstones January Sale – click here:

2017 sale, Half price off hundreds of bestselling books


Books – On The Loose (Bryant & May 7)

On The Loose Book Cover On The Loose
Bryant & May Book 7
Christopher Fowler
June 2010

I'm way behind on the Bryant & May series, and accidentally missed out this book and the next in my reading sequence.  No matter.  Christopher Fowler says the books can be read in any order (apart from this one and the next).  He describes his protagonists as "Golden Age Detectives in a modern world".  Personally I think his creations are pretty unique, the nearest for me being Fred Vargas' Adamsberg.  The plot is as madcap as ever, and as usual its contrived chaos drives me to despair half-way through before pieces start dropping in place and logic conquers.  That's the joy of them.  This one delves into the history of Kings Cross and is really fascinating on that level alone.  Fowler remains childlike in his fascination with the history, folklore and myths of London - indeed his mind is not too dissimilar from Ali Smith's in its boundless creativity.  And as with Smith, Fowler's passions - his love of London and concerns for its future - lie just below the surface.

Books – Autumn

Autumn Book Cover Autumn
Ali Smith
Penguin Books
October 2016

Ali Smith's last book How To Be Both literally sent me to Ferrara.  Autumn is very much a novel about this country right now.  She is writing four books corresponding to the seasons, each one a dialogue with current affairs.  I choose the word dialogue because Ali Smith's books are unconventional.  Personally I don't get on with experimental writing, but Smith's is so captivating, and is both poetic and clearly understandable.  Autumn deals with the fallout of the Brexit vote but....just saying that takes away the magic of  this book.  Her mind is bursting with ideas and connections and she takes you on a fascinating journey - like tumbling down a waterfall in slow motion.  Just jump in and read it.  If you struggle with the first few pages, then it's probably not for  you - but I truly hope it is.

My Exciting Week

(Apologies for the “snowing” blog.  I have no control over it.)

This week I:

Baked a Christmas cake (which unfortunately burnt side and base but – I have been informed – is otherwise immensely edible)

Met a friend I haven’t seen for a while.

Cleaned the kitchen

Wrote an article for a lighting magazine

Sat through KS1 Nativity (Mary and Joseph were in need of relationship counseling, and one Roman soldier was definitely method acting)

Visited the vet – twice (apparently I own a “princess” and I am her “daddy” – I don’t think so)

Edited content of new website for the lighting company. (I’m now a dab-hand at WordPress and Visual Composer – who’d have thought?)

Taught for 2 days.



Sorted out the most important Christmas present of them all and started writing my cards.

Seen my first public space lighting project after dark for the first time (very proud of myself)

My current books are Autumn by Ali Smith (which is making me nearly miss tube stops) and Bryant and May On The Loose by Christopher Fowler

Music is currently a nostalgic but sadly relevant revisit to The The’s Infected and Dusk, and Christine and the Queen’s  Chaleur Humaine, which I find very calming.

So a very constructive week which unfortunately cannot be sustained as I have run out of money.

I  need another job.  Any offers?

After Me Comes The Flood

After Me Comes The Flood Book Cover After Me Comes The Flood
Sarah Perry
Serpent's Tail

Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent has been one of my top books of this year, so I chose this book as it is her first and previous novel.  It is very different and I don't know how I would have felt about it had I read it first.  Set in a timeless present, the book is strong on atmosphere: light and nature dominate, just as they do in The Essex Serpent.  The plot is odd.  It feels like a mystery but half way through when much is explained I felt my attention wane.  Having said that, I carried on and became caught up in it once more; the characters have stayed with me just as the book as a whole remains lingering in my mind.  I suspect I was not quite in the right frame of mind for it at the time of reading - sometimes snatching the odd 20 minutes of reading on a tube journey is not the right thing.  The book is set in a heatwave, but I would recommend it as an autumn/winter read when you can give it full attention.  It will reward you.


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and aching joints.

When I was younger I used to find Autumn a depressing time of year.  As I get older I have come to love it more and more.  In fact I am pretty obsessed (there’s a word I can never spel) with the seasons.  I think part of it is because I grew up on the edge of a North Yorkshire town.

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What I Read On Holiday 5

Jonathan Unleashed Book Cover Jonathan Unleashed
Meg Rosoff

Jonathan is a 20-something, with a girlfriend, an inane job, and a worryingly affordable decent New York apartment. His life is enriched by having to look after his brother's two dogs.  But the dogs seem to be all too aware of Jonathan's internal struggle to cope with the responsibilities of growing into adulthood.

I am not a dog owner but this book made me laugh out loud so many times, I had to stop listening to it in public*.  Jonathan of the title is a 20-something whose brother has given him two dogs to look after temporarily.

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Commercial Break

One of my Books To Read List is Francis Spufford’s Golden Hill.  Of interest to New Yorkers, and American readers in general.

If anyone wants to get there before me, Waterstone’s have it as one of their five October Books of the Month.

Golden Hill

One of  the others, Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith is a great read.  And a good film.

Gorky Park

I’m reading two really depressing books at the moment and have to confess I picked up a copy of Girl On A Train for when I have finished them.

(Hush! I have a secret shop  – not primarily a bookshop –  where I often get paperbacks.)

Commercial Break

I hate click-through advertising on websites, although I understand why it exists and how it is used.

But some of you will have noticed that I have links to Waterstones and Barnes & Noble on my book reviews.  I’ve done this to support  the shops, rather than the shops supporting me.  If you click through and buy a book from Waterstones I’ll get about 7p!

But I believe in books and bookshops  and I hate Amazon, so that’s why I’ve done it.

And you won’t be seeing Google Ads.