Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2017

Review: You Are Awful (But I Like You) by Tim Moore

Full title: You Are Awful (But I Like You): Travels Through Unloved Britain. I was in Manchester (the one in England) earlier in the month and thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the Christmas markets, visiting the John Rylands Library , doing a spot of Christmas shopping and eating good food. I only managed to visit one bookshop, and when I can't visit more than one, I try to make it count and therefore I chose Waterstones. The Waterstones I visited in Manchester isn't nearly as large as the big one London, but it was big enough to make me happy. I don't really need more books and when I buy them new I try to choose ones I know or expect will become keepers. I've already been disappointed by one of my purchases ( The Soul of an Octopus ) and I can only hope the remaining books I bought will not be as disappointing. The book under review here is actually one of the books I considered buying, but didn't. I then came across it second hand at a fraction of the p

Review: The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

I love to read popular science books and have a small collection of them. Two of them are about sea creatures that I found charming and interesting enough to keep and was hoping that The Soul of an Octopus might become the third book in this small sub-collection. However, the title should have been a clue that it wouldn't be. I was hoping the book would be the balanced mixture of natural history and personal observations that I like in such books, but it turned out to be mostly about the author's friendly interactions with octopuses, interspersed with snippets of information about their life-cycles and physiology, some of which are repeated more than once, and slightly longer attempts to justify the book's subtitle: "A surprising exploration into the wonder of consciousness". With a sub-title, and indeed a title, like that, one might at least have expected there to be some philosophical musings about octopus consciousness, but there was very little of that, a

Wrapping up the What's in a Name reading challenge

I always have fun doing the What's in a Name reading challenge, and this year was no exception. I signed up for it on July 28 , and it took me just under two weeks to read and review the first five books - and 2 1/2 months to find, read and review the sixth and last book.  I posted my first review on August 1, the day after I finished it, and the last one I posted on October 22, two days after I finished it. The books and categories were, in order of reviewing:  A building. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. An alliterative title. Dr. Mütter's Marvels by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz. A compass direction. West With the Night by Beryl Markham. An item or items of cutlery. A Knife at the Opera by Susannah Stacey. The letter X in the title. Alexandria by Nich Bantock.  A number in numbers in the title. 1968 by Mark Kurlansky.  The genres were not as varied as they have sometimes been, with two fantasies, two biographies, a history book and a myste

Just finished my 100th book of the year!

...which is hardly news, except in the last couple of years, around this time of the year, I was somewhere in the mid-to-high 200s. Cutting back on my reading has resulted in more enjoyment of the books I read and I also remember them better. I am also listening to more audio books, and have finished 20 so far.

What's in a Name challenge review #6: 1968 by Mark Kurlansky

What's in a Name challenge category : A number in figures in the title   Author : Mark Kurlansky. Full title : 1968: The Year that Rocked the World Genre : History Published : 2004 One would think that finding a book with a number in the title would be easy in a book collection as large as mine, but it wasn't. I only found two among my 700+ TBR stack and ended up reading this one because my second-hand copy of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 was so musty that I started sneezing after reading a couple of pages.   The year 1968 was a pivotal, tumultuous year in history, full of student riots, protests, massacres, the assassinations of public figures, the Vietnam war and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, with the Cold War as a backdrop for the whole thing. Kurlansky has drawn all of this together into a solid, interesting book. Unlike two previous books of his that I have read, Cod and Salt , it does not begin to feel rushed towards the end, and thi

Friday links, 20. October 2017

Friday links is where I post links to blogs and websites I want to remember without cluttering up my browser bookmarks, along with interesting articles, reviews and lists I want to bring to the notice of others, and other stuff I find on the web. I took an unplanned break from blogging because I got roped into doing some teaching and preparing for that stuff is time-consuming. I have been steadily reading and listening to audiobooks all this time, and currently have one review in the making and a couple of other posts I am preparing. During the blogging break, I found all sorts of interesting goodies to post in Friday Links, most of them relating to language, books, literature and reading. Most of the ones below are not brand new, but no less interesting for that.  Today's links: The secret language you speak without realising it . A look at some of the tech words added to the online edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary earlier in the year. Since I'm at it

Review: The Devil's Detective by Simon Kurt Unsworth

Genre : Crime noir and horror crossover. Originally published : 2015. Have you read this book? Do you agree or disagree with my review of it? It was the title of this book that first caught my attention. Then I spotted the cover art, which was enough to make me pick it up and read the blurb, which in turn was enough to make me buy the book. Thomas Fool is the senior of Hell's three Information Men, a small group of detectives whose job mostly seems to be to be aware of - but not investigate - every atrocity committed in Hell, mostly by demons against humans. Every now and then they do receive a case their overseers, a group of demons called The Bureaucracy, want them to pay more attention to. A mutilated body is found that has had its soul completely removed - there usually remain some vestiges of it after death - and this is deemed worthy of investigation. Soon the bodies are piling up, bearing signs of ever more frenzied attacks, and Fool has to divide his ti

Friday Links, 8 September 2017

Friday links is where I post links to blogs and websites I want to remember without cluttering up my browser bookmarks, along with interesting articles, reviews and lists I want to bring to the notice of others, and other stuff I find on the web. I should be in Germany by now, after a short visit to Alsace in France. Here's today's mixed bag of links: Do you like art? Here's some lovely artwork by a very talented artist: Russian Artist Reveals Her Mysterious Sketchbook To TheWorld , And It’s Full Of Visual Secrets.  Why DO we read? How about writing?  Here's one writer's attempt to answer that question: Why We Read and Why We Write . I recently read and reviewed West With the Night by Beryl Markham and when I was researching the book's background I discovered that there are those that claim it was written by a man. I also recently reread Cold Comfort Farm , in which a male character is working on a book in which he claims to prove that all of

Friday links 1 September 2017

Friday links is where I post links to blogs and websites I want to remember without cluttering up my browser bookmarks, along with interesting articles, reviews and lists I want to bring to the notice of others, and other stuff I find on the web. Is there a better way to declare your love of reading than to carry around a book or two and read whenever you get a moment? But what about those times you can't carry a book? Here's one solution: Book Pins . (Don't blame me if this sets you off on an online shopping expedition. I, however, am thinking of getting a book tattoo...) Here's a literary magazine I came across while web surfing: The Threepenny Review . I haven't fully explored it, but it seems to be a mixture of essays, articles, reviews, criticism, poetry and short fiction. While I maintain that romance novels are no worse than any other kind of genre literature, I think everyone can agree that the titles of many of them are terribly generic and