The Crow Road – Iain Banks

crow road 2The Crow Road by Iain Banks was published in 1992 and subsequently filmed as a mini-series by the BBC. The untimely death at the age of 59 in June 2013 of Banks, the best-selling author of 29 books, prompted me to revisit his work and The Crow Road was one of his novels that I had never previously read.

Born in Dunfermline, Fife, Banks’ novels are inherently Scottish in tone.  In 2008, The Times named Banks as one of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″, but something that I hadn’t realised was that he was also the author of several science fiction novels writing under the name of Iain M. Banks and was described by The Guardian as “the standard by which the rest of SF is judged”. [Read more…]


Dear Daughter – Roy Sheppard

DD groupDear Daughter: What I Wish I’d Known at Your Age by former BBC reporter and media presenter Roy Sheppard is a self-help guide aimed at 15 – 25 year old young women. Roy is also the author of Dear Son: What I Wish I’d Known at Your Age for young men in the same age group.

As well as Roy’s take on ‘what he thinks young women should know’ in his role as a writer and speaker on personal and professional relationships, the book contains articles and insights from a selection of savvy women from all walks of life, both professional and amateur, encompassing a variety of careers and highlighting different viewpoints. [Read more…]


Inferno – Dan Brown

Inferno groupInferno, the fourth novel by Dan Brown, once again features Harvard University symbologist Dr. Robert Langdon. It follows on from Angels and Demons, the amazingly successful blockbuster The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol, and continues in the thriller genre that Brown has become known for.

This time our protagonist, the Harris Tweed clad Langdon wakes up in hospital with mild amnesia and is saved by the stereotypical blonde and beautiful Dr Sienna Brooks, once a child prodigy, who helps him to escape an assassin. The villain of the piece is geneticist Bertrand Zobrist, who believes that the Earth is nearing Doomsday population overload, when resources will finally run out and people will begin to behave like those in Dante’s Inferno. [Read more…]


The Cats of Mirikitani

Cats of MirikitaniIn the winter of 2001 documentary maker Linda Hattendorf came across homeless artist Jimmy Mirikitani on the streets of Manhattan. Hattendorf became intrigued with Mirikitani and when the twin towers collapsed in 2001 she became concerned about the state of his health and invited him to stay with her in her flat.

The film ‘The Cats of Mirikitani’ explores the life and history of the 80 year old artist through his journey with Linda that ends with his successful reinstatement as an American citizen and his entitlement to Social Security benefits and housing. [Read more…]


‘That’s Not my Lion’ – Books for Baby

book lionThere are some great books to keep your baby entertained out there and not doubt we all have our favourites. Some of you may remember Spot the Dog from your childhood, or you may have read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to your children at bedtime.

Having recently been introduced to the fabulous award winning books from Usborne Children’s Books in the ‘That’s Not My…’ series, I can highly recommend these as another sets of books that no nursery shelf should be without. [Read more…]


Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

Making its way straight to the top of the New York Times bestseller list after its release in June 2012 in the USA, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn has also proved to one of the most popular summer reads in the UK.

This is the American author’s third novel. Her first, Sharp Objects, won the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller and her second, Dark Places, amongst other accolades was the Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2009 and Chicago Tribune Favorite Fiction choice. Not surprisingly the movie rights to both have already been sold. [Read more…]


Venta Garcia – Casares, Spain

Venta Garcia

Ctra. MA 546, Casares, Spain

+34 952 89 41 91

Set on the main road up towards the town of Casares, Venta Garcia is situated on the site of an old venta but has been modernised to provide a stunning contemporary restaurant in a beautiful location.

This family run business has had several additions since my last visit. The front terrace is now fully enclosed with glass curtain windows that are presumably opened up in the hotter months and there is a smart shaded area outside. The main interior dining room offers stunning views during the daytime and an intimate atmosphere at night. [Read more…]


Reading Lolita in Tehran – A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi


Reading Lolita in Tehran – A Memoir in Books

Azar Nafisi

The sub-title of Reading Lolita in Tehran is A Memoir in Books, and that is just what it is! The book was first published in 2003 and is a memoir by the author Azar Nafisi about life in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which now seems to have great resonance in light of the current Arab Spring. Nafisi recounts how every Thursday morning for two years she taught Western fiction to a group of students secretly within her home, including classics by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James and Jane Austen, but the book that Nafisi references mostly is Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita which she uses as a metaphor for life in Tehran.  For the reader, having a prior knowledge of the classics that feature in Reading Lolita in Tehran certainly helps to gain an understanding of the parallels drawn between literature and life. [Read more…]


The Suspect – Michael Robotham

The Suspect

Michael Robotham

This is the thriller that might just turn you into a crime fiction convert! Maybe a little slow to start… but give it a chance and you will find yourself hooked on a story that is gripping and, eventually, fast moving.

Meet clinical psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin who seems to have it all. Joe is 42 with a beautiful wife and a clever eight year old daughter, Charlie. However, all is not quite as perfect as it seems. We find out that Joe was recently diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease, and when the police ask for his help in solving the brutal murder of a young woman, his whole world seems to fall apart in spectacular fashion. It turns out that Joe knew the victim, a nurse called Catherine McBride, who was a former colleague and patient. When another patient of his, Bobby Moran, starts behaving in an odd manner Joe realises that there might be a connection between Bobby and the murder of Catherine. [Read more…]


Room – Emma Donoghue


Emma Donoghue

Room is the seventh novel from 40 year old author Emma Donoghue, one that has earned her universal acclaim and that put her on the shortlist for the 2010 Man Booker Prize for fiction.

A précis of the narrative makes it sound like a horror story, but Donoghue herself says that Room ‘is a universal story about parenthood.’ A mother and her son are kept imprisoned by their captor, who only visits to deliver supplies and rape the mother in the 11’ X 11’ shed that is their cell. We see the world through the eyes of 5 year old Jack. The reader has to do a lot of emotional work to figure out what is going on in Jack’s head, trying to interpret through Jack’s naïve pair of eyes what he thinks about the modern world. [Read more…]