China’s Muslim princess

A floating bicycle

REVIEW:
A Perfect Life,
by Danielle Steele

Twitter trolls slain

REVIEW:
The Betrayers.
by David Bezmozgis

REVIEW:
I Can’t Begin To Tell You,
by Elizabeth Buchan

ESSAY:The Rich Man In His Castle, by Sean Byrne

Mum inspired to write

Escape by time travel

Help solve the crime

All the world’s not a stage

REVIEW:
Topless Jihadists,
by Jeffrey Taylor

Women back polygamy

Threat to purchased ebooks

Historical thrillers

REVIEW:
The Paying Guests
by Sarah Waters

Putin and The Brothers Karamazov

EXTRACT:
The Pillar, by Donal Fallon

The joy of walking

Seaside is a tonic

REVIEW: The Hundred Year House,
by Rebecca Makkai

Novel via Twitter

Shadow of Franco

REVIEW:
Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent, by Mandy Aftel

Roald Dahl: Symphony

Selfies a curse

NATO unprepared

Why read reviews?

PAGETURNER:
The Woman in the Picture,
by Katharine McMahon

REVIEW:
The Newton Papers,
by Sarah Dry

The sun never rises

REVIEW:
Close Call,
by Stella Rimington

REVIEW: House of the Sleeping Beauties,
by Yasunari Kawabata

Scottish authors:
Yes and No

EXTRACT:
The Shining River,
 by Kevin Stevens

Passion for horror

OBITUARY:
Nadine
Gordimer,
by Margaret Atwood

INTERVIEW:
Caitlin Moran

Chick lit fun

Britain’s breakup

Benefit in being wrong

REVIEW: All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews

Rediscovered genius

Crime in translation

REVIEW:
A Dog’s Life,
by Michael Holroyd

Babel of 6000 tongues

REVIEW: Ring, by Koji Suzuki

The power of two

REVIEWS:
Independence: An Argument for Home Rule, by Alasdair Gray
My Scotland, Our Britain: A Future Worth Sharing, by Gordon Brown

Top prize to ‘sickening read’

Aussie prize to English writer

Remember Judy Blume?

EXTRACT: The Shining River, by Kevin Stevens

The sense of self

Pioneering females

Dark Ages return

Famous rejections

The Top Ten

REVIEW: 50 Ways The World Could End

Restaurants through history

Shakespeare’s inspiration

MEMOIR:
by Hillary Clinton

Dundee longlist

Pulitzer spat

Prize thriller

ISIS rebels explained

Necklace killed queen

Dirty flirty King Bertie

Bloody Scotland for real

REVIEW:
Tales of the Ghost Sword by Hideyuki Kikuchi

The ideal school texts?

Baileys fiction winner

Short story by
Alexander McCall Smith

EXTRACT:
A Silver Dish
by Saul Bellow

REVIEW:
A real Downton Abbey

Victorious Scum’
by Robert Graves

Be a rainbow in
somebody’s cloud

Black Mischief feud

Best-read cities

Pun champions

REVIEW:
Selfish, Whining Monkeys by Rod Liddle

YOUNG ADULT:
Rock War,
by Robert Muchamore

Red wine jogger

Democracy doomed?

Sport cures racism

Power of a touch

Glossy mags decline

MEMOIR: Is the Vicar In, Pet? by Barbara Fox

Mice despise women

REVIEW:
Harlequin’s Millions, by Bohumil Hrabal

Why we adore animals

Philosophy of walking

EXCERPT:
The Vodka Wars

Maigret returns

REVIEW: Writing God’s Obituary, by Anthony Pinn

The ideal mother myth

REVIEW: The Walk Home, by Rachel Seiffert

The end of humanity

REVIEW: The Stories, by Jane Gardam

REVIEW: Birth of modern Britain, by Christopher Bray

Comics and cuties

Literary revenge

Publishers debate future

Farcical censors

Humanity novels

SHORT STORY by Anneliese Mackintosh

Sharia Law begins

Ogre of history

Bad grammar award

REVIEW:
Shakespeare And the Countess
by Chris Laoutaris

BIOGRAPHY:
John Updike

REVIEW:
Charlie Chaplin’s Last Dance by Fabio Stassi

He slapped Tojo

Hitler and art

The new war literature

INTERVIEW:
John Banville

REVIEW:
Chop Chop
by Simon Wroe

Hebridean odyssey

Baileys shortlist

OBITUARY:
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Award to EL Doctorow

Shakespearean weirdo

REVIEW:
Astonish Me
by Maggie Shipstead

Self-publish monthly prize

Global money mess

Allah, Liberty and Love

REVIEW: Hollywood
helps war effort

Cakebaking queen

Most likely alien life

REVIEW:
The Four Streets
by Nadine Dorries

The Queen’s toys

Floating bookshop

REVIEW:
Clouds Above The Hill
by Shiba Ryotaro

Preserving the world

SHORT STORY:
Not So Wicked
by Joanna Trollope

Origins of the selfie

REVIEW: Vanishing by Gerard Woodward

BIOGRAPHY:
P.G.Wodehouse:
 A Life In Letters,
by Sophie Ratcliffe

SHORT STORY: A Dish Best Served Cold,
by Jill Dawson

REVIEW: Shovel Ready,
a thriller by Adam Sternbergh

REVIEW: Tick-Tock We’re 30, by Milan Vohra

EXTRACT:
Age 10 And Divorced

REVIEW:
A Lovely Way To Burn
by Louise Welsh

Revolution of ideas

Lovely letters

INTERVIEW:
Ngozi Adichie

The Wedding Industry

The beast named Man

REVIEW:
All The Rage
by AL Kernnedy

Unread books

Timely Crimean novel

REVIEW:
The Ruined Map
by Kobo Abe

Jane Austen and others by Alexander McCall Smith

Evolution and politics

Agony Aunt tells all

INTERVIEW:
Okey Ndibe

SHORT STORY: The Last Night of Summer

Mum-porn book sells 100 million copies

REVIEW:
The Tell-tale Heart
by Jill Dawson

REVIEW:
Censoring Queen Victoria by Yvonne M. Ward

Social-Media wasteland

Hard-boiled France

INTERVIEW:
Helen Walsh

Books, dogs and gumption

Ukraine: What next?

INTERVIEW:
Joanne Harris

REVIEW:
The Passion of Pussy Riot by Masha Gessen

Fatwa targets Mars

SHORT STORY:
Belinda’s Inheritance
by Valerie Mendes

REVIEW:
Daily Rituals
by Mason Currey

Tintin politics

EXTRACT: Angels, by Marian Keyes

Trial by Twitter

Alone on Sochi ice

REVIEW:
Andrew’s Brain
by EL Doctorow

REVIEW:
The Sixth Extinction
by Elizabeth Kolbert

Vikings used SMS

Top sellers 2013

An Ark before Noah

Valentine’s Day recipes for romance

Laptops oust books

REVIEW:
The Visionist
by Rachel Urquhart

INTERVIEW:
Philip Pullman

Whisky for breakfast

Amazon slows in UK

Everyone’s a critic

Rereading Saul Bellow

REVIEW:
Searching for Dad

CHICK LIT
Just a Girl Standing

Orkney celebrates books

Hotel of dreams

Locked room murders

REVIEW:
Where Memories Go,
by Sally Magnusson

REVIEW
In the Wolf’s Mouth
by Adam Foulds

 

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booktaste.com

A feast of reading with Cathy Macleod every weekend


FANCY THAT! A Wales v England drinking contest was called off when the Welsh team turned up drunk and were forced to withdraw. -WESTERN MAIL

At stake: the human race

PLANET EARTH and the human race are heading for extinction, according to the alarmists. And they’re probably right, according to an evolutionary guru in the current Smithsonian Magazine.

An article explains, quoting Professor Wilson, 85. He has written more than 25 books on biodiversity. Some of these have changed scientific understanding of human nature and of how the living parts of the planet integrate.

Mass extinction of the human race is inevitable, he reckons. It will be Planet Earth’s sixth mass extinction. There have been five previous eliminations of a life form, best known being the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. (But didn’t crocodiles survive?).

Never mind, we’re all doomed anyway. If not immediately then within, say, another million years. But does the professor have a way to prevent human extinction? Yes he does. Simple in concept, unlikely to happen. The human race must abandon half the planet and enjoy everlasting life on Half Earth. This is the only way to stop humans killing the other animal and plant species which are vital to human existence.

Killing ourselves, mind you, might come before God or Nature do the job. Barbarism and war have been with us since the very first humans, and our deadly inventions improve all the time. I’m reminded of a tale by John Ivor.
Java’s Dream is fiction and set in the time of the earliest two-legged creatures. It ends on a hopeful note, yet here we are in the future and things have only got worse for humanity!

For this alone, Professor Wilson’s Half Earth suggestion sounds almost plausible.

Happy reading! from Cathy, week ending 5 Sept. 2014

Loonies unlimited
IT is not difficult to think of 300 crazy politicians. Some countries have them all in one parliament, but who tops the list worldwide? We’ll know when British publisher Myrmidon releases the book it is now preparing. It is called, somewhat lengthily:
 The Fat Boy with the Bomb and 299 More of the World's Craziest Politicians.
No prize for recognising President Kim of North Korea. The 299 others are also much in public odium or mirth.
Variously, they have pronounced that women should refrain from laughter in public and that long hair saps the brain of energy. They have executed their girlfriends, volunteered to be blasted by water cannon, tried to drive Darwin from the classroom, or opposed cannabis legalisation while themselves imbibing crystal meth to get them through the day. They believe homosexuals destroy civilisation and that the world is just 4000 years old. And so on. 
One page is dedicated to each politician, complete with full-colour caricature and the reason they qualify for lunacy.
Says Myrmidon: “Our medium-term goal is to make this an annual publication and something of a worldwide institution.” 
The book is due for release on November 5, Bonfire Day, when folk celebrate the crazy who tried to blow up Britain’s Parliament along with the King and all MPs.
More fireworks might eventuate after publication. I can see 300 possible libel writs – paid for by myself and other captive taxpayers!

Charlie and the sexy cover
THE re-marketing of children’s books for adult readership takes a new twist with the release of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory within a sexy cover. What on earth was the publisher thinking of? Sales, that’s what.
Author Roald Dahl’s classic tale has content great for kids but it’s hardly steamy stuff and is unlikely to hold the interest of grownups beyond Page One. Undaunted, the publisher reckons that books sell by their cover. 
Take a look.What do I think? I think I would rather spend my money on a box of chocolates.

Memorable words
SOCIAL MEDIA: Good or bad for book readers?
 
Social media is the sheepdog of the new, crowd-loving Britain. It is the beast which manipulates minds and concentrates attention on a few favoured places, ideas, products and cultural works at the expense of others. No one discovers anything any more; it is all discovered for us. Social media works on the latest obsessive-compulsive disorder in us; the voice in us telling us we must do or see something because everyone else is telling us to. What has happened to the publishing industry is instructive. Social media has not quite killed off books; but they have killed off browsing while inflating sales of a few titles for which the only recommendation required is that 10 million people have already bought them. Whether these lucky books are actually read, as opposed to discussed in 140 characters, is another matter.
(By  Ross Clark in Spectator magazine 2 Aug 2014. His full essay is at
http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9276831/individualism-is-dead/. Apart from books, Ross observes how social media affects the whole world).
Happy reading! from Cathy, week ending 29 August 2014.

Remembrance of things embellished
FOR all his mysterious ways to perform wonders, the Good Lord can’t change the past, but I can. Heavens! So can everyone else. Our magic wand is called nostalgia. Politicians, generals, showbiz idols, sports champions and others waft it wildly in recounting their long-gone years. To relive self-edited memories is a pleasure widespread, especially for the over 50s. More folk should write them down. I love memoirs that remember, or embellish, the joys and jeopardies of yesteryear.
What about ‘misery memoirs’, a genre currently pushed by some publishers? No thanks. Give me happy, give me funny, give me insight into little corners of mentally decorated history. And give me my own special memories, too, of people who shared my past. Just thinking of them now is a private entertainment. Boyfriends, teachers, workmates of long ago. . . where are they today? Alive and well in nostalgia, that’s where.
There are many notable recollections in print, but a few come to mind instantly.
nAngelas Ashes by Frank McCourt – amateurish yet sincere and hilarious -- set a new standard some years ago, while Beyond Nostalgia by Tom Winton is a recent Amazon bestseller. More to my liking, though, are the anecdotes (allegedly true) by George Macdonald Fraser in The Sheikh And The Dustbin and McAuslan in The Rough. Both cover his early years as a young soldier.
Meanwhile the big human comedy is philosophically served in 
Brat by Bryce McBryce.ᅠ
His funny recall of childhood in British Empire days is truly described as a literary gem, just one of the many delights to be found by searching online.
Memoirs by women are listed at length in the Goodreads website, a selection guaranteed to please. 
Thankfully, the internet has also made possible easy access to books from the past that describe their own past. I’m not just talking Proust. Remembrance of things, all sorts of things, occurs to each of us, and we all of us can enjoy our personal past or the published nostalgia of other people.
Reader vision counts
THE imagination of readers contributes to their enjoyment of a story. It’s the reason some people get more out of a novel than others. When you consider these differences, it also varies the vision one may have of fictional characters
In
 Paris Review there is an interesting article exploring the individual ways we see an author’s description. Itメs worth repeating.
Happy reading! from Cathy, week ending 22 August 2014.

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