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March 2019




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Apr. 27th, 2016


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Reviews Published

100 Book Reviews

Mar. 19th, 2019


February books (at last)

A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle, Julian Jackson
Reasons to be Cheerful, Nina Stibbe
Death of a Doll, Hilda Lawrence
Double Cross: the true story of the D-Day Spies, Ben Macintyre
Adventure in Prague, Winifred Findley
Achachlacher, Emma Menzies
The Liar in the Library, Simon Brett
Speak to me of Love, Dorothy Eden
Young Farmers in Denmark, Nancy Martin
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Feb. 10th, 2019


Brightening gloomy days

I potted up this amaryllis a few days after Christmas and voilà, in about six weeks it’s grown and produced three lovely flowers (should be four). It never ceases to amaze me that such a big plant grows so quickly from a knobbly brown lump.

I’m posting this in a brief interval when my broadband is working. It was on the blink all day yesterday and this morning, had disappeared altogether and my landline phones don’t work. I spent over half an hour with BT on my mobile and was eventually told that ‘the fault is outside your property’ which at least means I won’t have to pay to get it fixed. But it may take two to three days! This is very miserable. Pouring with rain, too:-(

Feb. 9th, 2019



Eheu! Another hero of my youth has gone. Albert Finney has died, aged eighty-two. I fell for him totally when I was still at school and I’m so glad I saw him on stage when he was young. He was a very physical actor, with a magnetic stage presence; when he was on stage, you couldn’t take your eyes off him. I can’t think of many modern actors with his range. The picture shows him in Tom Jones. Much later in his career I thought his was the best depiction of Churchill I’ve seen.

Feb. 1st, 2019


January books and some very belated reviews

The Prostrate Years, Sue Townsend
Acts of Faith, Adam Faith autobiography
Backroom Boys: the Secret Return of the British Boffin, Francis Spufford
Mrs Tim Carries On, D E Stevenson
Alice, Elizabeth Eliot
Caesar’s Wife’s Elephant, Margery Allingham
The Beauty King, Margery Allingham
The Doll Factory, Elizabeth Macneal
The Road to Grantchester, James Runcie
Love in a Cold Climate, Nancy Mitford
Don’t Tell Alfred, Nancy Mitford
The Strange Case of Harriet Hall, Moray Dalton
Currently reading this massive tome: A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle, Julian Jackson and in bed, Reasons to be Cheerful, Nina Stibbe
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Jan. 30th, 2019


Costa Book Awards

I don’t usually take much notice of book awards but I’m delighted that The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay has won the Costa Children's Book Award.

Jan. 20th, 2019

life on mars

TV watch: The Everly Brothers: Harmonies from Heaven

This was shown on BBC 4 on Friday evening and I caught up with it yesterday. It was billed as an interview with Don Everly but he was only one talking head. Music pundits (Tim Rice, Paul Gambaccini) and any number of musicians from Keith Richards to Albert Ball (who played with them) and Dave Edmunds. They all said the same thing really: the great influence the Everly brothers had on music and the ‘can’t put your finger on it’ wonder of their harmonies. I think it was Gambo who said they were ‘two people sounding like one person with two voices’. There were plenty of music clips to keep you happy, too. The closing credits rolled over Let It Be Me and quite rightly. One of the most beautiful sounds in music, as good as the duet from The Pearl Fishers as far as I’m concerned. This programme was far less pretentious than an Arena one shown a few years ago and I recommend it.

It’s still available to watch here.

Jan. 18th, 2019

Rose Blight

Not everyone is on Facebook!

I've never been tempted to join Facebook or Twitter and I'm fed up with the assumption that everyone has. It's really annoying when you get emails telling you to 'like us' and win Nectar points, to enter a competition (link to Facebook) or watch an instructional video (on Facebook, of course). I've just now had an offer from Bloomsbury books: a competition (they mean a draw, you bet), to win all the Sidney Chambers books and the prequel, which I'm currently reading, as it happens. I know I'd be unlikely to win but I wouldn't mind the chance.

Jan. 7th, 2019


Out today

Just a reminder that the new Furrowed Middlebrow books (Dean Street Press), are out today. That’s several books by D E Stevenson and Elizabeth Eliot. I still haven’t read my review copies but am looking forward to them.

Dec. 31st, 2018


Book stats for 2018

Please don’t tell me my sums don’t add up; I know!

This year I read 129 books. Of these 71 were written by men and 57 by women. I read 67 books in dead tree format, 57 on the Kindle and 10 on the iPad.

The best book I read this year was Citizen Clem by John Bew.

Other books I enjoyed, all links to my reviews:
Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading , Lucy Mangan.
A Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When the Birds Sing, Richard Smyth.
The Age of Wonder. How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, Richard Holmes.
Old Baggage, Lissa Evans.
The Only Story, Julian Barnes.
The Skylarks’ War, Hilary McKay.
Once Upon a River, Diane Setterfield.

When writing this, I found I’d missed a month when posting my monthly book lists. I should have reviewed Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris, which is very good. I've enjoyed a lot of crime reprints this year, especially those by Richard Hull and George Bellairs, neither of whom I'd heard of before.

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