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London, UK
Interests: music, travel, exploring london and discovering new pubs., cooking, reading, photography, blogging, cycling, drinking guinness and g&ts (not together, mind)
Recent Activity
Please update your bookmarks and blogrolls: London Cycling Diary has a new home. You will now find me at Do drop by and say hi! (Note that this Typepad site will stay in place until my contract expires in... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at London Cycling Diary
Thanks, Rodney. I take it you are still cycling?
Toggle Commented Aug 5, 2014 on My first road bike at London Cycling Diary
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After eight years trundling the capital's streets on a hybrid bike, I've finally taken the plunge and bought myself a road bike. It's something I've been contemplating ever since I completed London Revolution last year (it still astounds me that... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at London Cycling Diary
Glad its been of help. Hope you get to read the books at some point...
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Cheers, Sharkell.
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Ah yes, no doubt you appreciate the PR references! Its a great novel; one that has stayed with me all these years after having read it.
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Just a quick note to let you all know I'm taking a self-imposed blogging break for the next few weeks. I am juggling lots of different stuff at the moment and my enthusiasm for reading and reviewing has taken a major hit. To quote U2 circa 1989, I need to "go away and dream it all up again". In the meantime, please do explore the archives — here's 10 reviews to keep you occupied until my return: An Irish classic you may not have heard of: 'The Pilgrimage' by John Broderick A black comedy about shopping and murder: 'Get Me Out of Here' by Henry Sutton The loveliest war novel you will ever read: 'Fair Stood the Wind for France' by H. E. Bates The best narrative non-fiction book of the past 5 years: 'Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea' by Barbara Demick An evocative story set in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2014 at Reading Matters
Youre very welcome, Simon. It was such a privilege to speak to him. I actually ran out of time; could have talked to him for hours.
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Oh, thats such a lovely story, thanks for sharing.
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Last Christmas I read Carl-Johan Vallgren's The Merman, a wonderful coming-of-age story set in snowy Sweden in 1983. To celebrate the paperback release of the book today, the publisher Hesperus Press is kindly offering three lucky readers the chance to win a copy. But please note the books can only be sent out to a UK or Ireland address. To enter, leave a comment below telling me the name of something from Sweden — it might be an author, book, food, town... you get the idea. Entries will close at 10am on Friday July 18. Please make sure you include your email address when you sign in to make your comment (this won't be published), otherwise I have no way of contacting you directly if you win. The winners will be chosen via an online random number generator (or some such). Note, you can only enter once and entries by... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2014 at Reading Matters
Many thanks, Sharkell. It seems so long ago now, it feels a bit like I dreamed it.
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You may remember that way back in May I was very fortunate to interview Australian author Tim Winton while he was part-way through a whirlwind tour of the UK and Ireland promoting his new novel, Eyrie. I published some of that interview here on Reading Matters, but the bulk of it was submitted to Shiny New Books for publication at a later date. The second issue of SNB came out today, and I'm pleased to report my interview has been published in full. Do pop over and read it if you can. And do check out the rest of the book reviews and features on SNB, which is jam packed with lots of lovely and intriguing content. Congrats to all involved — you've done a super job! Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2014 at Reading Matters
I bought this from Foyles when the book first came out and it has been sitting on my shelves ever since. Not sure why I decided to read it now, but it was an unexpected delight. I thought I would be able to get through it quickly because it is so small, but actually it took me just as long as a much thicker novel because it wasnt a book to rush through... there is lots to mull over.
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2014 on 'Peace' by Richard Bausch at Reading Matters
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Fiction - hardcover; Tuskar Rock; 171 pages; 2009. There's a lot to be said for short, succinct books, especially if they deliver punches that feel more powerful — and more targeted — than might be achieved by novels of much longer length. It takes a particular skill to craft stories that have been honed to the bare minimum without losing the essence of what makes them special. Richard Bausch, an American writer, has that rare talent to convey meaning and emotion in a tightly written narrative in which every word has to justify its existence. No surprise, then, that he's largely known as a short story writer. Peace, first published in 2009 — in the then new Atlantic imprint Tuskar Rock started by Colm Toibin — proves that in the right hands a story doesn't have to be 500 pages long to have an impact. I came away from this... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2014 at Reading Matters
Thanks to everyone who entered my competition to win a bundle of Yoko Ogawa books. A record number of your threw your name in the hat — and no wonder, the books are totally covetable and I'm tempted to keep the set for myself! Alas, I've promised to give them away. So, without further ado, I used a random integer generator to choose the winner. Drum roll, please! Here are your random numbers: 23 Timestamp: 2014-07-02 20:59:50 UTC That means the lucky winner is Meliperr. Congratulations! I will be in touch soon to find out your address. Commiserations to those that missed out — and many thanks to Vintage Books for supplying the prizes. Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2014 at Reading Matters
Glad to hear you enjoyed it. Sometimes it helps to just read something that zips along without you having to do too much deep thinking. I guess that's what people mean when they say "holiday read" or "beach read".
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Put like that, I guess it is a bit clichéd, but it's interesting to be put into the mind of someone not "all there" instead of reading it in the third person. The funny thing is that Riktor is quite likable, but every now and then he does something that's not quite right.
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Fiction - paperback; Harvill Secker; 250 pages; 2013. Translated from the Norweigan by James Anderson. Norweigan writer Karin Fossum is best known for her Inspector Sejer series, but I Can See in the Dark, published last year, is a stand-alone novel. A story about a troubled loner The story is told entirely through the eyes of 40-something Riktor, who has no family of his own and lives by himself in a small house on the outskirts of town. He holds down a good job as a nurse in an elderly person's care home, gets on well with his colleagues and finds ways to fill in his time between shifts. In other words, he leads a rather dull, uneventful, but otherwise productive life. But all is not as it seems. Riktor is terribly lonely and desperately craves love and attention. I don't really understand my own situation, I don't understand this... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2014 at Reading Matters
Early last year, I read Japanese writer Yoko Ogawa's Revenge, an extraordinary short story collection, which has since been shortlisted for the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. To celebrate the paperback publication of the novel in the UK on 3 July, Vintage will also reissue Ogawa’s previous works — The Diving Pool, The Housekeeper and the Professor and Hotel Iris — in paperback. And guess what? One of you lucky readers will get to win a set of four books, thanks to the lovely people at Vintage. To enter, please leave a comment below before 10am on Monday June 30 and I'll include you in the draw. Entries are open internationally, but I reserve the right to post the books by surface mail if it turns out the winner lives outside of Europe. Please make sure you include your email address when you sign in to make your comment (this... Continue reading
Posted Jun 23, 2014 at Reading Matters
Agreed, Judith, this one is better than Gone Girl. It's not comfortable reading and it does make you want to take a bath afterwards, but I enjoyed the story & the narrator's voice.
Toggle Commented Jun 21, 2014 on 'Sharp Objects' by Gillian Flynn at Reading Matters
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Fiction - Kindle edition; Phoenix; 340 pages; 2009. I recently took a couple of days off work in order to do some study for a certificate I'm enrolled in. The plan was to read lots of journal articles, to get my head in the required space, so that I could write a 3,000-word essay, which is due to be submitted at the beginning of August. Alas, I made the mistake of picking up Gillian Flynn's debut novel Sharp Objects — and then I got so gripped by it that I spent all my study time reading it instead of doing what I was supposed to be doing. Do I regret it? No. This is one of the creepiest, weirdest and most unusual books I've read in a long while. It's also the most absorbing. Unlike Flynn's better known Gone Girl, which is about a couple whose marriage goes off the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2014 at Reading Matters
Glad you have discovered Text Classics, Alison! Yes, they are very good value, especially when you dont have to pay for the postage. I am almost tempted to buy the whole set, except for the little problem of where to store them. Hope you enjoy The Watch Tower. I have heard so many great things about it. I bought a copy a couple of years ago but havent read it yet.
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Haha, I know what you mean. And, of course, the problem with writing a review is that I dont want to give away any of the plot, but if I explained a bit more about what went on you would then know whether you had read it or not! Thanks for the tip about Michael Robotham. I do remember trying to read one of his novels years ago and giving up, but maybe it is time to give him another go.
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Fiction - Kindle edition; Bloomsbury; 289 pages; 2014. Lucie Whitehouse's Before We Met may just be the best £1.54* I've spent in quite awhile. Anxious to read something fast-paced and thriller-ish to get me over a reading slump (I would pick up a book, quickly get bored or distracted, put it aside and begin the process all over again with another title), I found this novel to be the perfect foil to a series of disappointing starts. Told in the third person, but largely from the perspective of 30-something Hannah Reilly, it has a noirish psychological feel to it, a kind of cross between Helen Fitzgerald and Nicci French. I've since heard it billed as a British Gone Girl, which I'm not sure is a good comparison — that book might have been fast-paced and fun, but it was over written and had a ludicrous and unbelievable plot. Before We... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2014 at Reading Matters