Monthly Archives: January 2009

A Life’s Music by Andrei Makine

Last week I wrote here about Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith, a thriller set in Stalin’s USSR, with train tracks on the cover. Well I followed it up with another book set in Stalin’s USSR some years earlier during the war, which also has a railway line on the cover, but that’s where the similarity ends. A Life’s Music… Read more »

John Martyn R.I.P.

Annabel   29th January 2009   No Comments on John Martyn R.I.P.

Just heard that one of the greats of jazz-folk John Martyn has died. He was only 60 and was made an OBE in the New Years Honours just recently. I never got to see him live, and only really discovered his music in 1991 when he released The Apprentice as it featured Dave Gilmour, but that was a good starting… Read more »

An armchair traveller’s delight

The Travel Book by Lonely Planet Here’s my full written review… This is the new smaller format edition of Lonely Planet’s previous coffee table giant, but it’s still a doorstoppingly thick brick of a book! It has to be 900 pages to give even the tiniest snapshot of every country in the world, (plus a few territories etc). However being… Read more »

My Radio Oxford Experience!

I’ve just come off the phone to BBC Oxford having done my radio review for them as part of their monthly Book Club feature. Phew! For my part, I felt it went really well – although in reality I probably talked far too much! Sitting waiting for the phone to ring was nervewracking, especially as the presenter Jo Thoenes gave… Read more »

My first book reviewing gig!!!

I kid you not – I’m so excited! – I’ve managed to get a ‘book reviewing gig’ on Radio Oxford tomorrow afternoon. Actually I’m exaggerating, but after someone said they’d read in Oxfordshire Life magazine that Radio Oxford wanted people to review books. I sent an email and they said OK and gave me a choice of books to talk… Read more »

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

This book comes with a bit of baggage. A debut novel, and thriller no less, set in Stalinist Russia. Its publishers gave it a massive publicity campaign, and got it longlisted for the 2008 Booker. Instant controversy – thrillers can’t be literary can they? Well yes they can, you only have to think of John Le Carre or Graham Greene,… Read more »

An evening with Joanna Trollope

We had a real treat in Abingdon last night. Around 200 of us spent an evening in the company of best-selling author Joanna Trollope in the superb surroundings of the hall of the School of St Helen & St Katharine. This was the first event organised by our local indie bookshop Mostly Books (link on the sidebar) under the ‘Mostly… Read more »

My Tango with Barbara Strozzi by Russell Hoban

This was my first visit to Hobanville – why it’s taken me so long I don’t know, but I’m keen to go again really soon. Underlying My Tango with Barbara Strozzi is a traditional boy meets girl romance, cleverly told by the two would-be lovers’ voices alternating chapter by chapter, but on top are layers of quirkiness. Just the thing… Read more »

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Written as an intimate diary in letter form to an unknown addressee, this novel chronicles the first year in High School of Charlie. Charlie has a tendency to be rather passive, introspective, and prone to burst into tears; well – his best friend has recently committed suicide! Though quiet, Charlie is clever which is recognised by Bill, his English teacher… Read more »

The Pianist’s Hands by Eugenio Fuentes

This is a crime novel with a difference – where the crime itself, or rather the investigation, doesn’t play much of a part. Instead it’s all about getting under the skin of the main characters, finding out all their foibles and weak points, until the murderer’s identity can be divined. It starts out telling us about the unnamed pianist who,… Read more »