Category Archives: Books


It’s been quite a while since I posted anything here. I am still regularly updating the reading page however. When I look at what I have been reading, and what remains on Mount TBR (currently about fifty books or so) it is the usual mix of historical fiction and older ‘classic’ novels and literature, with a bit of modern crime and non fiction thrown in.

This year it is both the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species, so I treated myself to reading it, which I hadn’t done before. Anyone interested in doing so could do worse than to read Blogging the Origin a most excellent blog that takes you though it chapter by chapter. I also have a couple of other books that discuss Darwin in Mount TBR and I might get around to them later this year.

I still have one Louise Gerard left in the pile from my great grandmother, and I hope to read that soon too. Aside from that there remain a couple of other 19th century romances on the pile, but they look heavy going, so I might not get there these year. We shall see!


Reading 2008

This is the list of books I read in 2007. Links are to posts where I have discussed the book or author, either here or elsewhere online.

1. PS I scored the bridesmaids! by Ross O’Carroll-Kelly
2. The God delusion by Richard Dawkins
3. Collapse by Jared Diamond
4. Alibi by Joseph Kanon
5. A Literature of their own by Elaine Showalter
6. A natural history of the senses by Diane Ackerman
7. The Sword in the Stone by TH White
8. The Queen of air and darkness by TH White
9. The Silver Swan by Benjamin Black
10. The wounded name by DK Broster
11. Jimmy the Hand (Legends of the Riftwar series) by Raymond E Feist & Steve Stirling
12. Lost Temple by Tom Harper
13. Sword of God by Chris Kuzneski
14. Clerkenwell Tales by Peter Ackroyd
15. The Butcher of Smithfield by Susanna Gregory
16. Death on the Holy Mountain by David Dickinson
17. Last Train to Kazan by Stephen Miller
18. The Sun King Rises by Yves Jego and Denis Lepee
19. All Quiet on the Home Front by Richard van Emden
20. The Norman Invasion of Ireland by Richard Roche
21. Manly Pursuits by Ann Harries
22. Children of Freedom by Marc Levy
23. Next of Kin by John Boyne
24. Duplicate Death by Georgette Heyer
25. Tropical Tangle by Louise Gerard
26. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
27. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet
28. The House with Green Shutters by George Douglas Brown
29. The Map of Love by Adhaf Soueif
30. Taste by Kate Colquhoun
31. A Shot Rolling Ship by David Donachie
32. The Chatelet Apprentice by Jean-Francois Parot
33. Making Money by Terry Pratchett
34. Never let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
35. The Road to Independence? By Murray Pittock
36. Britain BC by Francis Pryor
37. Free Expression is no Offence ed Lisa Appignanesi
38. The Garden of Evil by David Hewson
39. Purity of Blood by Arturo Perez Reverte
40. Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu
41. The Season of the Beast by Andrea Japp
42. The Eliza Tales by Barry Pain
43. Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
44. 1610 by Mary Gentle
45. The Stones of Venice by John Ruskin
46. The Great War of Words by Peter Buitenhuis
47. The Dante Trap by Arnaud Delalande
48. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
49. Imprimateur by Rita Monaldi and Francesco Sorti
50. The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
51. The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke
52. Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

Reading 2007

This is the list of books I read in 2007. Links are to posts where I have discussed to book or author, either here or elsewhere online. I also note where reviews I have written have been published in print magazines.

1. Equinox by Michael White.
2. Scribe’s Ascent by Blake Willey (external link)
3. The Road to a Hanging by Mike Kearby (external link)
4. All Good Things Begin ed. Yvonne Cullen
5. Penhallow by Georgette Heyer.
6. Wild Mary by Patrick Marnham
7. The Death of the Red King by Paul Doherty
8. The Truth about Food by Jill Fullerton-Smith
9. Assassin’s Touch by Laura Joh Rowland
10.Crusader Gold by David Gibbens
11. The Malice Box by Martin Langfield
12. Word of Honour by ‘Sapper’
13. Rough Crossings by Simon Schama
14. Parliament House by Edward Marston
15. A Stranger in Burracombe by Lilian Harry (reviewed in May edition of Historical Novels Review)
16. Winter in Madrid by CJ Sansom
17. Christine Falls by Benjamin Black
18. Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer
19. Miscarriage of Justice by Linda Sole
20. Lucifer’s Shadow by David Hewson
21. Struggling Free by Margaret Penfold (external link)
22. Villa of Mysteries by David Hewson
23. In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
24. A Man’s Man by Ian Hay
25. Something Fresh by PG Wodehouse
26. Saturnalia by Lindsey Davis
27. Past Caring by Robert Goddard
28. Echo Park by Michael Connolly
29. Stalky and Co by Rudyard Kipling
30. The Man who was Thursday by GK Chesterton
31. Agatha Raisin and the Perfect Paragon by MC Beaton
32 Leaf Storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
33 The Lost Luggage Porter by Andrew Martin
34 A Moment towards the end of the play by Timothy West
35 The Collectors by David Baldacci
36 King’s Priory by David Hough
37 Absolute Power by David Baldacci
38 The Necropolis Railway by Andrew Martin
39 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
40 Die Fasting by David Carriel (external link)
41 The Door through Space by Marion Zimmer Bradley
42. The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry
43. Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter
44. The Thirteenth Apostle by Michel Benoit
45. Oscar Slater by Thomas Toughill
46. The Tower by Valerio Massimo Manfredi
47. Scandal by Cosmo Hamilton
48. Simple Genius by David Baldacci
49. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
50. Trilobite by Richard Fortey
51. White Fang by Jack London
52. A Certain Want of Reason by Kate Dolan (external link)
53. The Brother Keepers by Ted MacNintch
54. The Prehistory of the Mind by Stephen Mithen
55. Rome Burning by Sophia MacDougall
56. Detection Unlimited by Georgette Heyer
57. Dubliners by James Joyce
58. Molesworth by Ronald Searle
59. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
60. The Act of Roger Murgatroyd by Adair Gilbert
61. Reivers by George MacDonald Fraser
62. London Pride by Joanna Canaan
63. The Giant Under the Snow by John Gordon

Updated 30th December


My writing still seems to be stuck – so many other things to do that somehow seem more important. At least now I have an idea where I’m going with the novel. For a long time I had lost even that. I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I write and how I write it, and I think there’s been a huge change there. It was coming anyway – the current WIP is quite different from things I’ve written before, but has been precipitated by things going on in RL. I have confidence I will get there eventually, just not quite yet.

The other reason there has not been as much activity in this blog as I would like is that recently I’ve been reading a lot of books for review elsewhere, and I can’t publish the reviews here, yet. That pile is at last getting smaller. I have also now finished all the brand new library books that were on Mount TBR, so I may even get back to the sort of books that were the original impetus for this blog in the near future. There are some interesting ones in the pile – another Ian Hay, a couple of Louise Gerards, a Cosmo Hamilton and many more.

It’s that time of year again

I work in a library. This is the time of year, when the last of the book budget is being scraped, and new books are coming in. Quite a few of them have been of interest to me, and consequently I have been reading them. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t historical novels, so I won’t be reviewing them here. Also unfortunately, several of the historical novels I have read lately, I have done so because I am reviewing them elsewhere, which means I can’t post the reviews here, or at least not yet.

This is quite annoying as I’ve got a few interesting old books in my to read mountain, that I bought in a second hand book shop recently, but have yet to get to. Still, I have a couple of posts brewing, but they may not appear for a few days.

Reading review of the year, 2006

I haven’t read as much this year as I did last year – I’ve been seriously distracted for the last couple of months and my reading as well as my writing has suffered. Having said that, my total for the year is still averaging out at over a book a week. The grand total for the year is eighty-two, with another two that I started and never finished, although I will eventually, I promise. There was only one I threw away in disgust after the first few pages, and that was Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. Sixty-six of the books were fiction, and of the rest, as with last year, the vast majority were history. There were even fewer re-reads than there were last year – only nine.

I discovered a rich seam of writing in a collection of early twentieth century romance fiction owned by my great grandmother. I also started to read books my mother had owned as a child, plus some other, related books, and in all, these comprised twenty-four of the novels. By far and away the largest novel category is historical fiction, with a fairly even split among other categories.

Adventure – 9
Crime – 8
Fantasy – 10
Historical – 25
Thriller – 4
Literary – 3
Romance – 12
YA – 12

Of course some books are in more than one category.

Best book of the year was The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, John Boyne’s wrenching tale of innocence in wartime.

Worst book of the year was The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Over-rated, overwritten and overlong.

Most unexpected read was Ulysses, something I confess I never expected to read. I suppose technically, I still haven’t read it as it was an audio CD, but it still takes some listening to.

Out of print book that shouldn’t be – Barnaby by Rina Ramage.

Reading 2006

List of books I read in 2006. Links are to posts where I discussed the book or author, or where my reviews were published elsewhere online. I also note where reviews I wrote were published in print magazines.

1. Secrets of Rue St Roche by Janet Morgan.
2. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.
3. Scotland and the Great War ed Catriona Macdonald.
4. Death in a White Tie by Ngaio Marsh.
5. The Somme by Peter Hart.
6. A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry.
7. The Last Damned Vampire by Steve Kelner.
8. Elidor by Alan Garner.
9. The Roses of No Man’s Land by Lyn MacDonald.
10. Days of Probation by Louise Gerard.
11. Life’s Shadow Show by Louise Gerard.
12. Barnaby by Rina Ramsay.
13. Field Service Pocket Book 1914.
14. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.
15. Some Foreign Field by Ben MacIntyre.
16. Old Soldiers Never Die by Frank Richards.
17. Artemis by Julian Stockwin.
18. Seaflower by Julian Stockwin.
19. Kept by DJ Taylor.
20. By the Mast Divided by David Donachie.
21. His Official Fiancée by Berta Ruck.
22. The Thirteen Gun Salute by Patrick O’Brian.
23. Myths and Legends of the Great War by James Hayward.
24. The Straw by Rina Ramsay.
25. A Game of Soldiers by Stephen Miller.
26. The Romance Fiction of Mills & Boon by Jay Dixon.
27. The Nutmeg of Consolation by Patrick O’Brian.
28. Karen by Mrs Alfred Sidgwick.
29. To Win a War by John Terraine.
30. Knight on Wheels by Ian Hay.
31. Behind the Lines by WF Morris.
32. Prisoners of the Kaiser by Richard van Emden.
33. A Safety Match by Ian Hay.
34. Psmith in the City by PG Wodehouse.
35. Ships in the Bay! by DK Broster.
36. The Black Riders by Violet Needham.

37. Michael O’Halloran by Gene Stratton-Porter.
38. The Life and Death of Smallpox by Ian & Jenifer Glynn.
39. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L Sayers.
40. Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster.
41. The Emerald Crown by Violet Needham
42. Captain Alatriste by Arturo Prerez Reverte
43. Nerfertiti by Nick Drake
44. Sabriel by Garth Nix
45. Lirael by Garth Nix
46. Abhorsen by Garth Nix
47. A Test of Wills by Charles Todd
48. The Creature in the Case by Garth Nix
49. The Bloodstone Papers by Glen Duncan
50. Rage by Simon Conway
51. Greenmantle by John Buchan
52. Somme by Martin Gilbert
53. Crippen by John Boyne
54. The Last Days of Newgate by Andrew Pepper
55. The Amulet of Samarkhand by Jonathan Stroud
56. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
57. Mutiny by Julian Stockwin
58. The Turf Cutter’s Donkey by Patricia Lynch
59. Mud Blood & Poppycock by Gordon Corrigan
60. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
61. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
62. The House of the Paladin by Violet Needham
63. Conseulo and Alva by Amanda MacKenzie Stuart (Reviewed in November 2006 edition of Historical Novels Review)
64. The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud
65. Ptolomey’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud
66. Sovereign by CJ Sansom
67. Ulysses by James Joyce
68. Brother William’s War by William J Watson
69. Medicus and the Disappearing Dancing Girls by RS Downie
70. The Botor Chaperone by CN and AM Williamson
71. Susannah of the Mounties by Muriel Dennison
72. Colossus by Paul Gannon
73. Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer
74. Mr Rowl by DK Broster
75. Cousin Ivo by Mrs Alfred Sidgwick
76. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
77. The Secret by Elizabeth Gill (reviewed in February 2007 edition of Historical Novels Review)
78. The turn of the Tide by Elisabeth McNeill (reviewed in February 2007 edition of Historical Novels Review)
79. The Betrayer by Violet Needham
80. Woodside Farm by Lucy Clifford
81. A spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
82. The Blood of the Isles by Brian Sykes
Updated 2nd January