Literary lists #4


None here just west of London in the UK, but I’m guessing some of you have so here are some book titles on the theme of “snow”:

  1. Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow  – Peter Høeg
  2. The Snow Goose – Paul Gallico
  3. The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey
  4. Snow Falling on Cedars – David Guterson
  5. The Snows of Kilimanjaro – Ernest Hemingway
  6. Eagle in the Snow – Wallace Breem
  7. A Storm of Swords: Steel and Snow – George R. R. Martin
  8. The Snow Queen – Hans Christian Andersen
  9. Snow – Orhan Pamuk
  10. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan – Lisa See

Got a great idea for the next theme?  If so, leave a comment below.


Review: Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney


Sassy octogenarian Lillian Boxfish’s walk through the streets of New York on New Year’s Eve stirs up memories and results in chance encounters

My review

Lillian is stylish, witty (even waspish at times), single-minded, successful, generous but also a woman whose life has not followed an untroubled path.  During her walk on New Year’s Eve, we learn about her pioneering career in advertising, her relationships and get hints of darker times that are only fully revealed towards the end of the book.  Lillian takes pride in her ability to use words as tools (whether to craft advertising copy or poetry) but also, on occasions, as weapons. Some of my favourites “Lillianisms” include:

“My mother resented Sadie like a stepsister resenting Cinderella, but she was polite. She did her no social violence.”

“This time of year is depressing. New Year’s Eve is a bigger thug than any mugger, the way it makes people feel.”

(About her colleague and bête noire, Olive): “I marvelled at her mother’s prescience in having named her daughter after a green – with envy – cocktail garnish: hollow and bitter.” Ouch!

(About her other bête noire, Julia): “She had a beautiful smile, if you like people who have thousands of teeth and no evident capacity ever to be sad.” Double ouch!

As well as the story of Lillian’s life, the book is a love letter to New York (“Any day you walk down a street and find nothing new but nothing missing counts as a good day in a city you love. People are forever tearing something down, replacing something irreplaceable”) and a celebration of walking and the art of flanerie (“Typically neither closeness nor distance matter much to me on my walks. Neither convenience nor difficulty is my objective”).

Another theme seems to be how bigotry and prejudice can cause people to miss out on potentially fulfilling relationships. I really enjoyed the book but, for me, not all of Lillian’s encounters during her walk were as successful or as meaningful as others. I was interested to learn that Lillian is inspired by a real person – Margaret Fishback, who, like her fictional counterpart, was a poet and the highest-paid female advertising copywriter in the world in the 1930s.  You can find out more about Margaret Fishback here: Article

P.S. I love the cover.

I received an advance review copy courtesy of NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press

304 pages, publication date: 12 January 2017

My rating: 4 (out of 5)

In three words: Stylish, witty, engaging

About the Author

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose commissioned poetry on demand. She teaches English and Creative Writing at DePaul University and is the author of eight books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. A winner of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from Poetry magazine, her reviews and criticism has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times Magazine and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay. Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk is her second novel.  Author Website

NetGalley Reading Challenge 2017


My second challenge for 2017 is going to be the NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge courtesy of The challenge is aimed at helping readers achieve a NetGalley review percentage of 80% (which, as we all know, is difficult to do if you keep getting tempted to request new books when you’ve not yet reviewed, or even read, all the ones you’ve already been given).  My goal is to achieve Silver level – 25 NetGalley books reviewed in 2017.

If you’re a NetGalley reviewer, why not join the challenge too?

The Classics Club Challenge



My first challenge for 2017 is courtesy of The Classics Club. I’ve set myself the goal to read 50 classics between 1st January 2017 and 31st December 2018.  The personal definition of “classic” I have used is a book published more than 40 years ago, i.e. anything published before 1976, although most of the books on my list are a good deal older than that.

I have decided to concentrate on two categories – women writers and the works of John Buchan (one of my favourite authors who I believe is much underrated).

See my list here: The Classics Club Challenge


This time last year…


This time last year…

  • I didn’t know what ARC meant. Some kind of mathematical concept? What Indiana Jones went in search of? Now I know it’s a chance to read and review wonderful books before they’re published
  • I’d never heard of NetGalley and the last badge I got was in the Brownies – now I have three! I know, the rest of you already have loads, but it’s tickled me
  • I had few followers on Twitter and one of those was my sister! Now I have – well, not that many still – but I’ve discovered what a great way it is to connect with other bloggers, readers and publishers
  • I’d never written a blog or thought it was the kind of thing I could do and here I am, posting away
  • I didn’t know my widget from my plugin and, although I’m only in the reception class when it comes to WordPress, I have a working blog!
  • I’d never heard of a blog tour and would have thought – how can that work?
  • I didn’t realise what a massive book blogging community was out there, full of passionate readers who love to share reviews and recommendations
  • I was stuck in a rut of my preferred genre – historical fiction. Now through ARCs, other bloggers’ reviews and recommendations, I’m reading all kinds of books and finding new authors to love
  • I didn’t think I’d have read 65 (and counting) books and would be anticipating increasing that figure in 2017

What book-related achievement has given you most pride or pleasure in 2016?