Book and Beer


Having a stab at doing something a bit different on the much ignored Instagram account, and thought I would put this mildly interesting effort on here, also. There are other things I could be doing but this seems like the most important when the day tops 21 degrees.

Having had a walk around the neighbourhood, and avoiding the main roads, it’s been lovely just appreciating the bright blue skies against the surprisingly many cherry blossom trees. Waving at dogs and horses and walking up steep pot-holed streets has also been a pleasure today.

A tasty beer and a great book in this glorious weather is the other perfect pastime. Washing down Irène Némirovsky’s words with a grapefruit infused IPA helps this reader appreciate the peace of the day, contrasting perfectly with those days in France as World War Two started to take its toll as superbly depicted by one of my favourite authors.

Both book and beer are highly recommended in any weather. Plant sold seperately. As per usual for a bank holiday weekend, the weather is expected to turn miserable so shall enjoy all this whilst it lasts.

Rendezvous with Literature

Photo by Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

Recently, a memory was sparked off in my head of a vast abyss, and floating in the pitchest black possible, alone,  with who knows what waiting to be discovered in its dark depths.

Thankfully – or sadly – all this was experienced between the covers of a book, the one I’m referring to is the slim volume with plenty of imagination, Arthur C. Clarke’s, wonderfully realised Rendezvous with Rama.

Rereading that particular chapter in the cold light of day didn’t have anywhere near the same impact as being cuddled up in bed, touch lamp on low, with the details of my peripheral vision suitably obscured, and reading to the soundtrack of a near all consuming silence. Continue reading “Rendezvous with Literature”

The Reacher Guy – Heather Martin

Jack Reacher is only the second of Jim Grant’s great fictional characters: the first is Lee Child himself. Heather Martin’s biography tells the story of all three.

Lee Child is the enigmatic powerhouse behind the bestselling Jack Reacher novels. With millions of devoted fans across the globe, and over a hundred million copies of his books sold in more than forty languages, he is that rarity, a writer who is lauded by critics and revered by readers. And yet curiously little has been written about the man himself.

The Reacher Guy is a compelling and authoritative portrait of the artist as a young man, refracted through the life of his fictional avatar, Jack Reacher. Through parallels drawn between Child and his literary creation, it tells the story of how a boy from Birmingham with a ferocious appetite for reading grew up to become a high-flying TV executive, before coming full circle and establishing himself as the strongest brand in publishing.

Heather Martin explores Child’s lifelong fascination with America, and shows how the Reacher novels fed and fuelled this obsession, shedding light on the opaque process of publishing a novel along the way. Drawing on her conversations and correspondence with Child over a number of years, as well as interviews with his friends, teachers and colleagues, she forensically pieces together his life, traversing back through the generations to Northern Ireland and County Durham, and following the trajectory of his extraordinary career via New York and Hollywood until the climactic moment when, in 2020, having written a continuous series of twenty-four books, he finally breaks free of his fictional creation.

Three things attracted me to this book, about an author that I have never actually read.  The price, a first chapter titled The Library, and thirdly a reference to the wonderful One Hundred years of Solitude, which I happened upon whilst flicking idly through the pages.

Despite my lack of knowledge about the author, other than seeing his many books, which are seemingly everywhere, I found this biography to be very readable, no doubt because it’s good to be nosy about someone else’s life.  it is interesting how the mundane can become rich when examined from the outside, and there is a wealth of detail here to dive into here.

Over half of the book charts Grant’s life before finding his inner (Lee) child, and whilst was good to find the origins of not only the author – an inveterate reader himself  – but also of Jack Reacher, the text does jump around a bit between times and people causing a bit of confusion at times.  This part of the book about humble and tough beginnings was interesting enough and I looked forward to reading about his writing career. Continue reading “The Reacher Guy – Heather Martin”

Insensitivity Readers

Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels

Holding this book in your hand, sinking back into your armchair, you will say to yourself: perhaps it will amuse me.  And after you have read this story of great misfortunes, you will no doubt dine well, blaming the author for your own insensitivity, accusing him of wild exaggeration and flights of fancy.  But rest assured: this tragedy is not a fiction. All is true.   – Honoré de Balzac, Le Père Goriot

Lizzie’s Dream Journal – Charlie King

After the death of her father, Lizzie Barnes’ life takes an interesting turn when her mum brings home a journal.  Lizzie decides to use the journal to write short stories involving her beloved teddy bear Rodford and his arch-enemy Dr Ofdor, a villainous grizzly bear.
She soon notices it is no ordinary journal as people around her begin to have dreams based around her stories.

When Lizzie begins to experience the dreams for herself, she finds that as the creator, the rules of the journal can work against her.

Lizzie, with the help of Rodford and a rat named Ridgeley, must explore the different worlds while facing the dangers she created, including Dr Ofdor, to free herself from the workings of the journal.

Charlie King, author of The Lyons Orphanage and The Lyons Legacy is back once again with a new standalone YA novel.  When I got the email asking if I wanted to review this latest title, I was immediately intrigued by the blurb and excited to see what the book had to offer.

Lizzie is a character younger readers will easily be able to relate to, and will come to explore her sense of loss, the new and strange vulnerability that comes with that.  Along the way Lizzie has to deal with bullies, and learn what it means to be a good friend. Continue reading “Lizzie’s Dream Journal – Charlie King”

Catching Up, Again

It’s been a while since the blog got any attention, and that has been because I have been reading, real pleasure reading,  and taking simple enjoyment in the written word whenever I got a moment with a book.  And it’s been glorious!

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

It’s been good to take the time out and avoid getting bogged down in the love/hate relationship with time and trying to get things written down topost, as well as trying to make inroads into the book pile.

Combatting this has taken the form of a mix of bestsellers – strange for me, I know – and some quality Asian literature in the form of, Ahmed Ali’s Twilight in Delhi, and the wonderfully titled The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima.  The latter wasn’t because it was trendy to be reading Japanese literature last month, but rather thanks to getting the book as a Christmas present.

As a bonus, whilst walking around the streets between snowfalls, we came across a bag hung on the gate of a house inviting the passerby to take books, so I ended up with two Stephen king hardbacks, Desperation, and Full Dark, No Stars.  Enthusiasm now renewed, and notebook filled, Febuary on WP can finally start for me.

Literature Binge

After my Charles Dickens birthday binge chronicled in the last post, a bit more variety was needed in my reading collection, and what better place to turn to for inspiration than book bloggers.  After hunting around for a short time I came up with three books that would add depth to my collection.

Again thanks to Crissy for the classy book shots.

First port of call was Claire over at Word By Word, for those of you who haven’t discovered this blog yet please be warned you will end up wanting to spend all your money on a variety of books, all of which are wonderfully reviewed.  Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat caught my eye with short stories of a Haitian flavour.

Next up was Asha’s recommendation for Twilight in Delhi which sounds like an atmospheric historical fiction novel that will captivate the senses.  Ever since finishing A Suitable Boy, I have hankered for an Indian novel to read, although I have Rohinton Mistry’s  A FIne Balance still to read, I had to have this book too. Continue reading “Literature Binge”

What the…?

Being given some cash for my birthday (last December, this was) my eyes lit up at all the infinite options of what to spend it on.  It just so happened we had decided to take a Christmas Eve jaunt to Newstead Abbey, home of Lord Byron, so we were guaranteed a book section in the gift shop.

From previous visits I knew all the Wordsworth classics would be £2.50 so I blew some of the money on the below books, completely ignoring Byron in favour of a massive chunk of Charles Dickens, on a whim.

Fancy arrangement and photograph done by Crissy as my photos have a long history of looking awful.

As I was sorting which ones I wanted, it called to mind that episode of Doctor Who, where they meet Dickens and he ends up exclaiming, ‘What the Shakespeare!’, ending all the speculation on what people used to say before the well known phrase, ‘what the dickens?’.

I did get more books at a later date – and by other authors – but will leave that for the next post as I haven’t gotten around to badgering the wife to take an arty photo yet.

As good As It Gets – Romesh Ranganathan

Confronted by the realities of adulthood, Romesh Ranganathan must face an uncomfortable truth: this is not quite how he imagined it.

Watching his friends descend into middle age, his waistline thicken and his finances dwindle to fund his family’s middle class aspirations, Romesh reflects on the demands of daily life and the challenges of adulting in the modern world.

As he reluctantly concludes that he is indeed a grown man, Rom wrestles with the greater questions that threaten his being: Could I save my family in a crisis? Do I possess the skills to assemble flatpack furniture? Am I too old for streetwear? Is it alright to parent my kids through the medium of Fortnite? Is celibacy the secret to a passionate marriage?

I pick up books for many reasona; references in other literature, a cover with books on it, blogger recommendations, and so forth but never (at least as far as I can recall) have I picked up a book because it ‘spoke to me’ and the present situation I find myself in – that being the reluctant adult bit.

Romesh Ranganathan is the reluctant adult here, supporting a family and keeping them happy, trying not to break his children, be a good role model and encourage them in their interests (as long as they are appreciated by their father, of course). It’s life, and its hard yet has plenty of scope to be funny along with it.

There was a lot in this light-hearted book that made me laugh, which is handy as the author is a stand-up comedian. Whether it’s an incisive observation or just the turn of phrase employed to convey a point.  The inherent Britishness in the articulation had me laughing more than the stories themselves in most cases, and that was very much the highlight of the book for me.  Continue reading “As good As It Gets – Romesh Ranganathan”

Prehistoric Times and the Men of the Channel Islands – Joseph Sinel

On a whim I decided that this would be a good book to read, purely for the joys of random knowledge,  and the title told me exactly what I would be learning about.

Just from the cover alone I was already conjuring up vast tracts of time, movements of people and water, as well as all the associated bits of bone, tools and burn marks on rocks.

I wasn’t disappointed.  The reader is treated to a short preface where Sinel   romantises over epochs and the long journey taken by both humans and landscape.  He does this in a pleasingly poetic fashion by tracing the history of a  humble tree.

Being written in the early part of the 20th century a few terms are explained for the lay person, these terms I believe will be generally understood, or at least familiar to the modern reader.  Clarifications are all well and good if the rest of the text is up to it, and Sinel’s writing is clear and always interesting, he is both knowledgeable and enthuisastic about his subjects and it makes the book a joy to read.

Our journey goes all the way back to the land bridge,  the subsequent flooding and retreating of waters, a look at the wildlife and plants over time, a breakdown of classifications of different eras and sub eras of ages, and the occupations of the islands. Continue reading “Prehistoric Times and the Men of the Channel Islands – Joseph Sinel”