Book Reviews

A delightful bookish week

sundaysalonThis was the week when……

  • Shiny New Books published by review of Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien which is on the Man Booker shortlist. You can see that review other site here There was so much in this novel that I could have talked about so I did another review yesterday on this blog (see this review here)- even then I feel I only touched the surface. We will have to wait a few weeks to find out if the judges agree it’s a worthy winner.
  • I finished The Great Reckoning the newest title in the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. I hope to post the review within a few days but for now I’ll just say that the plot wasn’t gripping as in previous books but Penny has maintained her ability to go beyond a pure crime fiction and raise broader issues. There was a very poignant afterword in which she reveals that her husband is suffering from dementia so she wrote this book under very difficult circumstances. We’ll forgive her therefore for a minor slip in plot.
  • I discovered – or should I say rediscovered a second hand book shop in Cardiff (the nearest city to me). I’ve  been moaning to my nearest and dearest how sad it is that the capital city of Wales can’t manage to sustain more than one decent bookshop (Waterstones) and an Oxfam book shop which I think is rather pricy and doesn’t have a great selection of the books I like to read. A chance conversation with a friend revealed that there is indeed a second hand shop right in the city centre – I went there some years ago but forgot about it and just assumed it had closed. So of course I had to make a trip – and delightfully they stock a fair number of Virago Modern Classics which I’ve found difficult to get anywhere else.  So of course I had to buy ….When I got home I flicked through one of them to find two £10 notes in pristine condition. Did someone use these as bookmarks and then forget about them? I rang the shop in the hope they knew where they’d got the book but to no avail. Then my husband started taking a closer look and concluded they are fake… so my next trip will be to the police station to hand them in… Seems a very odd way to distribute fake currency….
  • A status check on my TBR showed that despite good intentions this year it’s grown yet again. At the start of the year I had 168 books unread (not counting e- versions). Today I see that I have 185. With a bit of luck maybe I can get it back down to around 170 by the start of 2017. I don’t really view the number of books I have as a curse or something to complain about. It’s wonderful to have a large library all of my own. I just need to actually read more from it.
  • I took my first baby steps in Bookcrossing after hovering on the fringes for years. It’s never been entirely clear where you could leave books without fear that someone would consider them a) litter and just add them to the rubbish bag or b) a security risk and needing to be destroyed. But with the help of an old hand at this I was able to find a cafe where they have a bookshelf of free books. So now 4 books have been released. I’m curious whether anyone has picked them up – maybe I should pop in for a coffee and just check.
  • Tutorials started for my Open University course on children’s literature. We had a great discussion about how the view of ‘childhood’ has changed dramatically over the centuries. The course is fascinating so far – just wish I had read a lot more children’s fiction. We were all asked to name the first book we could remember reading for ourselves as a child. Those years are so long ago my memory struggled but I think it was either Five go Adventuring by Enid Blyton or Alice in Wonderland. What was your first book – do you remember?


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

18 thoughts on “A delightful bookish week

  • That’s great that you rediscovered that book shop and weird about the fake tenners. Good job you didn’t try spending them.

    • I don’t quite understand what the person who left them in the book was trying to achieve. They wouldn’t gain if I spent them so were they just trying to test out my honesty? but then how would they know what I did with them

      • It may have just been a matter of forgetting where they put them but then again it could have been a nasty practical ‘joke’ on the person who tried to use them…

  • What lovely booky adventures. BookCrossing zones in cafes are indeed a good, safe place to leave books. I often hear from mine a few people after the original taker, and up to years and years after I released them, so don’t worry if you don’t hear back from them originally.

    • I need to get more into the book crossing habit now that I’ve started. Thanks for helping to manage my expectations since I must admit I have been biting my nails wondering if anyone has picked up my books

  • I most certainly remember the first book I read on my own – Milly Molly Mandy. I loved the map at the front and spent a lot of time tracing Milly Molly Mandy’s adventures on the village map.

  • “I discovered – or should I say rediscovered a second hand book shop in Cardiff.”

    Was this Troutmarks? I love that place. Also if you’re interested, the owner of the bookshop that used to be in Morgan Arcade has now set up a stall in Jacob’s Market (by Cardiff Central) – worth a look! Also could be worth looking in Cardiff Flea Market (in Tremorfa) – they have a good couple of book stalls but I’ve not been in a few months.

    • Hi Robert – indeed it was Troutmarks. What a treasure trove! So thats what happened to the Morgan Arcade shop – I never used it much because I couldnt find a lot that interested me but good to know it still exists. When is the flea market held?

      • I think also the book stall in Newport market is Troutmarks? The flea market is open on weekends and Wednesdays only I believe. Great post btw!

        • I seldom get to Newport so can’t answer the question re the bookstall there. I shall have to take a trip to Tremorfa …

  • Wow, what an exciting week! Discovering a secondhand bookshop near home is always a lucky find, and I’m intrigued by those fake tenners – I’d love to know the story behind how they found their way into your book. Hmm, what was my first solo read? I’m not sure, but I think it was probably Mrs Pepperpot. 🙂

    • It about time I found something locally having been so envious of all the places you and Ali seem to have available. 🙂

  • I’m about halfway through the Thien now and admire it but also find it tough going. I’ll circle back to your reviews after I’ve finished it.

    I’ve always thought Oxfam bookshops are overpriced for general fiction, but occasionally you can find the sort of academic titles that you wouldn’t find in most charity shops.

    How bizarre that you found fake banknotes in a book!

    I think The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was probably my first solo read.

    • What is it that you find tough Rebecca – the subject or the style of writing?

    • Definitely the style — so many flashbacks; I want more of Marie’s present-day story. I do think this is most likely to win the Booker, though. It’s rich and weighty.

      • Ah I see. I found the China sections more interesting than the modern day thread


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