Reviews & Rants - Blogging about books, authors, and generally 


The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes: The Ancient World Economy & the Empires of Parthia, Central Asia & Han China - Raoul McLaughlin The Roman Empire and the Indian Ocean: The Ancient World Economy and the Kingdoms of Africa, Arabia and India - Dr Raoul McLaughlin

Has anyone read anything by Raoul McLaughlin? 


I'm tempted by his book on the Silk Roads but reviews seem to be mixed, and I really want to avoid another book that disappoints as much as the much-hyped Frankopan one. 


Act 3, Scene 1

Love's Labours Lost - William Shakespeare, HarperCollins Publishers Limited, Jeremy Brett, John Richardson, Geraldine McEwan, Derek Jacobi

COSTARD Pray you, sir, how much carnation ribbon may a man buy for a remuneration?

BIRON What is a remuneration?

COSTARD Marry, sir, halfpenny-farthing.

BIRON Why, then, three-farthing-worth of silk.


LoL. Jeremy Brett as Biron is fabulous.

Halloween Bingo - Time to Get Serious

The bingo squares have been revealed, the bingo cards have been issued, and Moonlight has officially kicked things off by being the first BLiker to adopt a seasonal blog theme.

Things are getting serious. 

And even tho it looks like most of August is still ahead of us, there is a lot for The Gang to prepare for the game, starting with what is probably the most fun and important part of the game - inviting friends to help with marking off the bingo card. 


All I am saying is that I have spotted some spilled ink and saw one of the pesky seagulls limp off missing a couple of tail feathers. I have also been asked to supply a stamp or two.


I don't keep watch over The Gang and try not to interfere, but I think it is safe to say that invites have been drafted and posted. 

Planning is well and truly in progress.

Reading progress update: I've read 125 out of 480 pages.

Heroes - Stephen Fry

I don't like Heracles. He's a bit of an arse. 

Just saying.



Let the planning begin!!!

Reading progress update: I've read 35 out of 480 pages.

Heroes - Stephen Fry

‘I did it! I did it! I did it!’ Perseus shouted to the moon.

   Indeed he had. With Medusa’s head safely stored inside the satchel he had originally dismissed as so uninteresting, he flew on in a state of intoxicated excitement. Indeed, so excited was he, so high on the thrill of his achievement, that he took a wrong turn. Instead of turning left he turned right, and soon found himself flying along a strange coastline.

   Mile after mile he flew, not tiring, but growing increasingly bewildered by the unfamiliar shore. And suddenly, in the first light of dawn, the most extraordinary sight met his eyes.

A beautiful girl, naked and chained to a rock.

He flew up to her.

‘What are you doing here?’

‘What does it look like I’m doing? And I’ll thank you to keep your eyes up on my face, if you don’t mind.’

And now re-read this with Andromeda flaunting a Welsh accent!


Halloween Bingo Pre-Party - Days # 4 & 7

Deep Water - Patricia Highsmith, Gillian Flynn Thirteen Guests - J. (Joseph) Jefferson Farjeon Gothic Tales (Oxford World's Classics Hardback Collection) -  Arthur Conan Doyle, Darryl Jones Gilded Needles (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Christopher Fowler, Michael McDowell, Mike Mignola Cold Moon Over Babylon (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Michael McDowell, Mike Mignola Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier, Sally Beauman The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Elaine Hedges

Favourite Books and Authors of Halloween Bingos past?


Sure! Lots of them!


I love finding new authors during Halloween Bingo, but I also look forward to revisiting authors that have already become favourites, none more so than Michael McDowell.


McDowell to date is still only author of the horror genre that I actively look forward to reading. And Halloween Bingo is the perfect time for it.


But HW Bingo has also allowed me to read more Farjeon, more Highsmith, more Du Maurier and Arthur Conan Doyle. Not like I needed a prompt for this but what is better than to spend the arrival of the longer nights and winter season with a few favourites that ooze atmosphere?


I have also found a few new favourites like Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and I hope to read more by her soon.


Reading progress update: I've read 144 out of 356 pages.

Swimming Lessons - Claire Fuller

The part about Ingrid being asked to leave her uni course because she's pregnant made me angry. This is in 1977 but still. Grrr!


OB, I know you didn't like the book. Have you read Where'd You Go, Bernadette? There are parts in this book that remind me of Semple's book, even tho Where'd You Go, Bernadette? was a much better read.

Reading progress update: I've read 64 out of 356 pages.

Swimming Lessons - Claire Fuller

I really don't like Gil (the husband). It also doesn't help that I picture him as a Ted Hughes-like figure every time he appears in the narration. 


Gil is a writer and was Ingrid's tutor (English Lit) at university. 

Reading progress update: I've read 28 out of 480 pages.

Heroes - Stephen Fry

LoL. Wyrd sisters ... and I love Fry's narration (I'm listening to the audio while reading) - more Python that Pratchett but it works well and made me laugh:

As Perseus approached the mouth of the cave he slipped on the cap that Hermes had given him, the Hood of Hades. The moment it was on his head, the long shadow that had been striding along the sand beside him disappeared. Everything was darker and a little misty with the hood over his eyes, but he could see well enough.

   ‘I won’t be needing these,’ he said to himself, leaving the scythe, satchel and shield on the sand outside the cave. He followed the murmur of voices and a glimmer of light through a long, winding passageway. The light grew brighter and the voices louder.

   ‘It’s my turn to have the tooth!’

‘I’ve only just put it in.’

   ‘Then PEMPHREDO should let me have the eye at least.’

‘Oh, stop moaning, ENYO …’

   As Perseus entered the chamber he saw, held in the flickering light of a lamp that hung over them, three fantastically old women. Their ragged clothes, straggling hair and sagging flesh were as grey as the stones of the cave. In the bare lower gum of one of the sisters jutted up a single yellow tooth. In the eye socket of another sister a solitary eyeball darted back and forth and up and down in the most alarming manner. It was just as Hermes had said, one eye and one tooth between them.

   A pile of bones lay heaped on the floor. The sister with the tooth was gnawing the side of one, stripping it of its rotten flesh. The sister with the eye had picked up another bone and was inspecting it closely and lovingly. The third sister, with no eye and no tooth, raised her head with a jerk and sniffed the air sharply.

‘I smell a mortal,’ she shrieked, stabbing a finger in the direction of Perseus.

‘Look, Pemphredo. Use the eye!’

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 480 pages.

Heroes - Stephen Fry

Erm, it's August, so I had better make a start on this, since I'm going to see the man himself at his new trilogy of shows "Gods", "Heroes", "Men" - yeah, it's three shows...and I have no idea yet how this is going to fit together - at the Edinburgh Festival later this month.

To say that I am super excited is an understatement. 


Anyway, I had some quibbles with Mythos but these were somewhat inevitable because of the sheer volume of information that Fry needed to (and he does it so well) relate, and the complexity of totally cray-cray family relationships that make up Greek mythology. 


Anyway... Here we go, bring on the heroes!

Reading progress update: I've read 29%.

Amos Petrie's Puzzle: An Amos Petrie Mystery (Black Heath Classic Crime) - Turner Publishing Company

“WHO comes next?” asked the Inspector as the door closed behind Lady Belden. “Our last witness was not an entire success, was she?”

“Very curious, Ripple. It has given me quite a lot to think about. Now I think we will try that little woman—the one with the saucer-shaped eyes, boat-shaped mouth, hair like a shampoo advertisement, red paint on nails that are too long, feet like a geisha girl, and a simpering air that covers a quantity of confidence and brazen nerve. What is her name?”

“You mean Sadie Melsa, the film star.”

“One of those who make the sunshine jealous, and the flower droop its head, cause palpitation in the breast of the cashier every time he pays the salary, and regard all the world as a stage and all the men as merely payers.”

Another rubbish cover but a decent mystery so far. 

The Sunday Post



There are no tales of adventure to talk about this week and weekend. The weekend has been really quiet, and this was on purpose because I am planning on spending at least one day of every weekend until September out and about at the Edinburgh Festival.

That will make August quite a busy month. 

I may also have to travel with work, but we'll see. 


Anyway, I spent this weekend relaxing, doing housework, reading (a lot), and cooking or chopping things for easy cooking this coming week. I'm planning a lot of tennis etc. so won't want to be bothered in the evenings with a lot meal prep tasks.


This probably sounds excessively boring. Sorry. 


However, I wish I could share the lovely smell of my new batch of roasted pepper and tomato pasta (and whatever else) sauce - it is yummy.  


It's a very basic recipe, but it is miles better than anything out of a jar, some of which I am convinced has never even been shown a tomato. 


I just roast my tomatoes and peppers with lots (and I do mean lots) of garlic, some red chilies, a tea spoon of brown sugar, onion, olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, then add salt and pepper to taste, add basil and blend the lot.


Perfect for midweek pasta. 


Anyway. It's very simple but I love it. 


As August will be very, very busy, I'm also dropping Booklikes-Opoly. I'm in the middle of my last book but I am not sure when I will finish it, and I don't want to have to finish it for any specific task. Wowza Shakespeare! is one of those books that is best when enjoyed in small increments for the pure joy of it. And the book deserves nothing less. 

I'm good with that.  


Happy Sunday!

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

House of Names - Colm Tóibín

Yup. I loved this one.


There are obvious deviations in outlook from what I expect to find in the original source material - whether it be Aeschylus, Euripides, or Sophocles - but I like what Toibin made of it. 

Reading progress update: I've read 80%.

House of Names - Colm Tóibín

The shifting perspectives and different perceptions of truth, and the nuances in the description of different characters in this book are pretty fab. 

Reading progress update: I've read 55%.

House of Names - Colm Tóibín

Well, Orestes' first narration was moving and sad, and totally different pace than the previous part. It worked, tho. 

As all three walked back towards the house, followed by the dog, Leander asked Orestes where he had learned the song. Orestes pictured the scene – the man in agony on the ground, the guards watching implacably, the child in the woman’s arms, the sky above them. It seemed like another life, or a life that had belonged to someone else.

‘I don’t remember where I learned it,’ he said.

Currently reading

Circe by Madeline Miller
Der Gesang der Wellen by Manuel Vicent
Perseus in the Wind by Freya Stark
Woza Shakespeare!: Titus Andronicus In South Africa by Gregory Doran, Antony Sher
Progress: 200/303pages
The Complete Works (Oxford Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare, John Jowett, Gary Taylor
Progress: 424/1344pages
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, H.M. Parshley, Deirdre Bair
Wyrd Sisters: A Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett
Progress: 18%