The Big Read

Here’s a blast from the past!  In 2003 the BBC launched a survey to find the nation’s best loved book of all time.

Although the results are somewhat engaging, by allowing unlimited entries per author the final list clogs up a bit.  The rule of only one book per author in the top twenty-one places, which then went on to the final round of voting, balances this out a little. Below is the final order.

As a retrospective it makes for interesting reading, it’s not a surprise to see the Harry Potter books placing so highly (as well as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials), although that probably speaks more for the demographic of voters and the HP phenomenon being at fever pitch at the time, perhaps.

Now is your turn to play along at home, how many of these have you read? I’ve finished the highlighted forty-three books, which is a bit disappointing, especially as I have owned plenty of the other books at times but never gotten around to reading them when they were within my grasp. Continue reading “The Big Read”

Not Another Live Stream

Now that our YouTube channel is up and established we will be doing a livestream tomorrow, details on the missus’ blog, if you’re asleep at that time you can catch up with it later when the whole stream will be uploaded. There will be some book talk unsurprisingly, pop along if you wish…

Lost in invisible cities

It is a very hot summer day here in England – something very unsual for I don’t really associate this country as bright and sunny.

As you all know, these past two months have been very busy for my husband and I. We started our YouTube channel – The Johnsons mainly because we were bored in lockdown. Two months later, we are making genuine friends and making connections from all over the world. I would like to invite all of those who bothered to read this post for our second live streaming tomorrow, June 26, 2020 at 12:30PM +GMT.

This is where it all began.

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Authors Prefer Profit or People?

On this day in 2016, as I am reliably informed by my one-time daily viewing of Facebook, I started reading An Image of the Times: An Irreverent Companion to Ben Jonson’s Four Humours and the Art of Diplomacy.  This took me down a rabbit hole of memories, and by a happy coincidence gave me a post to write today instead of trying to finish several book reviews that are on the go, not to mention the three hundred other drafts still patiently guilt tripping me.

One of the things that also comes up on my social media feeds constantly are adverts for how to sell a manuscript, which I don’t have, and how easy it is to make £££, which I believe it isn’t.  It’s all very tasteless and mercenary, although I’m never one to begrudge anyone a profit for their hard work.

Whilst casting my mind back to starting An Image of the Times (and smelling those pages!), I remembered the surprise of opening the parcel and finding four books instead of the two that Nils-Johan had originally, and kindly, offered to send.  That wasn’t the best thing however, inside An Image of the Times, was a letter typed on a thick piece of paper, this unexpected letter (currently still inside the book, which sits a continent away) encouraged me to keep reading, writing and making friends with people who love words.

Too often I see the term ‘networking’ used in the adverts, it’s such a cold term, and is off-putting which is why it is rare these days offers to review authors are accepted.  Lots of novels have been turned down, usually romance and thrillers because authors don’t take an interest in the blog or the type of person they are asking to review the book, they just want to get the book out there regardless, which is fine but find the right blogger for your book, and write a letter that’s not been copy and pasted a thousand times.

Continue reading “Authors Prefer Profit or People?”

Get Yourself A Free Book

Everyone loves free stuff, and what can be better than a good book bargain to take your mind off whatever is on currently on it?

I have been informed by my good friend Estelle – who runs a blog for the books of Indrajit Garai – that The Bridge of Little Jeremy, is currently on a free giveway on Amazon, which you can find at the link here.

I have also read and reviewed Indrajit’s two short story volumes, The Sacrifice,  and The Eye Opener, which I enjoyed immensely. Both of which I can happily recommend to you.

Here’s the blurb for The Bridge of Little Jeremy, check it out and indulge yourself in a story about family, the changing face of Paris, and the meaning of beauty, for absolutely no pennies.

Jeremy’s mother is about to go to prison for their debt to the State. He is trying everything within his means to save her, but his options are running out fast.

Then Jeremy discovers a treasure under Paris.

This discovery may save his mother, but it doesn’t come for free. And he has to ride over several obstacles for his plan to work.

Meanwhile, something else is limiting his time…

Right Night Light

Recently I have been reacquainting myself with reading in low light. I spend an inordinate amount of time getting the illumination exactly right for my nightly reading forays. During my experiments, I have found that the best light is that which is almost too dark, but just bright enough to make out the words with a bit of concentration.

My reasoning is simple, to truly connect with the book, quite literally in hand, there needs to be complete immersion.  With less light, the world beyond the page in my peripheral vision becomes just a black abyss, and visual distractions are extinguished, except for what my imagination conjures in that murk. Add to this the near silence (Amelia permitting) and complete escapism is fully achieved.

I spent most of my 20’s engaged in doing this as I didn’t go out clubbing or whatever else was ‘hip’ back then. The plethora of books I first enjoyed in this way varied, and of the calibre which was thus: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, The Woman in Black, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rendezvous With Rama, Phaedo, The Wind in the Willows, The Stand, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Complete Hercule Poirot short stories, The Midwich Cuckoos, The castle of Crossed Destinies, The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek, The Island of the Day Before,  Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Peter Pan, and Endymion Spring.  Continue reading “Right Night Light”

Circus Bewitchery

It’s always enjoyable when, on occasion, reading a book can recall other books and times since past.  This afternoon I’ve been getting close to the finale of Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I stopped my race to the conclusion specially to write this.

The sun is shining here, and this together with the carnival setting, took me back to a time in 2016, when I spent some time, with Tom and fellow blogger Morgan, in which we wandered around Boston and stared at things.

This particular time we headed out to Salem by boat, appreciating the planes coming into land as they passed over, the island where Shutter Island was filmed, and then passed into the sometimes creepy, sometimes tacky Salem.

At one point, we three sat on the park for a bit of a rest.  The sun – coincidentally the same one as today –  was shining down on us, Tom had fallen asleep in the faintly sinister way that some people have of sleeping with their eyes partially open, and I was engaged in The Book of Speculation, picked up, speculatively enough from the Barnes & Noble near the hostel. Continue reading “Circus Bewitchery”

Lists (because that’s what gets the views #shameless)

Whilst we are all appreciating our living room walls as never before, it makes sense to share what has been diverting my attention and hopefully will give you something to do as well.

Found at

Grabbing some reading time is always handy for a book blog, as well as a mixture of sci-fi, philosophy, essays, I have also been hunting through obscure books thanks to Gutenberg.  Free books, albeit read on a screen, is a treat.

From that I can segue neatly onto the proofreading. Originally conceived to assist Project Gutenberg, Distributed Proofreaders is now the main source of PG e-books.  I do my bit everyday and am bookmarking some obscure works to read once they have been through the various rounds of proofing and formatting.

For those of you with any interest in how I look or sound, I present to you a vlog in which Crissy and I ramble a bit about LDRs and such.  If anyone wishes me to do a book vlog, please let me know, and also feel free to share any ideas for said project.

Keeping with YouTube, we have been watching lots of informative documentaries too.  BBC’s Horizon has some good stuff, as do the mainly literature based documentaries that can be found. Continue reading “Lists (because that’s what gets the views #shameless)”

The Past, Present, & Future: A Book of Poetry – Cody McCullough

Cody McCullough’s debut collection of poetry, THE PAST, PRESENT, & FUTURE, delves into the fleeting nature of life viewed through the prism of time. Separated into three main collections, the work touches on topics ranging from the essence of life, to family relationships, to the natural world. Featuring poems such as THE TALL FIRS ARE DANCING TODAY and THE COOL MORNING AIR, the entire collection includes a total of 73 poems written in free verse. Through his unique style, McCullough takes the reader on a journey from the beginning of existence, to the end of time, and everywhere in between.

It’s a great pleasure today to introduce, remind, or reacquaint, the reader with Cody McCullough’s blog, and new book of poetry.  I’ve been a fan of Cody’s writings for a while now, and always enjoy my visits over at his site.  This collection written in free verse is his usual intriguing work.

As with the title, it seems only fitting to break down each part in turn, beginning, adventurously, with the Past:

Here, we have a considered look at childhood memories, of a fleeting time which the author does well to encapsulate the feeling of time passing.  This section is an exploration of the learning experience of the formative years, and of the memories that we hold all our lives.  There is something melancholy and a feeling of the lost, or perhaps lostness.

These poems – as with the other two parts – are mixed with writings of history, of past generations and a thoughtful look at a perspective of a universal past as well as the personal. The passing of time into history, the temporary, and how that, as well as the personal, is recalled, and remembered differently. Continue reading “The Past, Present, & Future: A Book of Poetry – Cody McCullough”

Working Out the Progress

After a month or so in the wilderness, I have returned to WP with a new focus which is mainly down to the support I got. I hope to get at least get one post a week out from now on, how that will go, who knows, but after all the  aforementioned support, and wonderful comments on the last post, I felt I owed it to my readers, as well as myself to continue writing, even if my capacity is reduced.

Although the time spent away from the blog has been less than productive in both the worlds of reading and writing, I did claw back some literature points by signing up for the Distributed Proofreader website, which I find is a good way to keep my mind active and also contributes to something worthwhile by proofreading e-books.

Not only does it keep me doing something I enjoy, and as I progress hopefully learn some new skills, but it also allows me to give back to books and as an added bonus maybe help fuel people’s enthusiasm for reading. Helping to preserve some obscure plays, journals, plays and assorted non-fiction – which I can then review and share as well -seems like a noble effort, and so far things are going well.

As to what to expect in the upcoming months, there should be more of a mix of posts, a few more thoughtful entries on the world of literature outside my usual meanderings, but that will all depend on time, life, and the unexpected things that make a mockery of plans.  Once again thank you for all your continued support, it does mean the world to me.

WiP Still?

Apologies for my absence of late, especially after the cliffhanger announcement of being bitten by a horse.  To wrap that up succinctly, at the Changing of the guard, we had a photo with a horse that bit my left arm but luckily I was fully layered up and survived with the ability to still not be able to juggle in tact.

In other news, after nearly ten years of this blog, I am having a bit of a wobble, and not certain if I wish to carry on or not.  It does, on one hand, give me the odd opportunity, a chance to chat with wonderful people like yourselves, and is also something I am quite proud of.  Yet with the time it takes to write posts, the diminishing returns of late, and the loss of friends who just stopping blogging, it seems like a bit of a luxury.

Stopping seems like a waste but I am wondering what my aim is now.  I started the blog to chat with people about books, I wanted it to be a platform to get me further into the world of books, but aside from a few false starts that hasn’t really happened.  Any advise would be most welcome.