The latest Bad Sex in Fiction Award has been announced

This year’s Bad Sex in Fiction award has gone to US author Christopher Bollen for a saucy scene in which his lead character describes his genitals as a “billiard rack”. You can read the ‘winner’ and lots more howlers here.


People aren’t happy about plans for an all female ‘Lord of the Flies’ film 

There have been two film adaptations of the William Golding classic, one in 1963 and one in 1990. Now there is set to be a third film version of the story of the tale of ‘toxic masculinity’ only this time it will be a group of girls stranded on the island. The news has kicked off a big debate about whether females would behave in the same way. The BBC website sets out the issues nicely here.



A Jonathan Coe classic is being dramatised on BBC 4 Extra

Jonathan Coe’s cult novel, ‘What a Carve Up’, has been adapted in eight parts by David Nobbs, for BBC 4 Extra. It is a black comedy inspired by the immorality, greed and ambition of 1980s Britain. The first three episodes are online now. It doesn’t say how long they’ll be available but things usually seem stick around for at least 30 days. Have a listen here.



Native Americans are still be screwed over in Dakota

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners (linked to Donald Trump) are planning to put an oil pipeline right through the Standing Rock Reservation….one of the meagre bits of common land ‘given’ to the local tribes by the US Government at the turn of the 19th Century. Read more about it here.


What a change from the days of Basil D’Oliveira!

Great to see the South African batsman Hashim Amla scoring a double century against England….and as Captain…of a genuinely mixed race side.


A story at the heart of The Garden of Evening Mists is still rumbling on

When Yun Ling Teoh and her sister Yun Hong are taken to an internment camp by the Japanese, Yun Hong is forced to work as a ‘Comfort Girl’ in a brothel that served the Japanese troops at the camp.


Disputes over compensation payments have dragged on since WW2 and only recently did the Japanese Government agreement a package of payments to the last remaining survivors of forced brothels from South Korea. A woman describes here how she was taken away by soldiers on a train in this BBC piece from December 2015.

Is our planet getting too crowded?

One of the key premises of Dan Brown’s Inferno is that the human race is doomed because population growth threatens our very existence. The wonderful BBC Radio 4 programme More or Less investigated this issue when David Attenborough made a similar claim back in 2013. You can listen to the item here.

Crowded planet

Best Holiday Reads 2015

Already read ‘Perfect People’? Worried that ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ might be a little heavy for the beach? Check out some other top tips for great holiday reads here.


Happy World Penguin Day

Saturday 25th is World Penguin Day. What better time to promote the 80th anniversary of Penguin Books. To mark this milestone Penguin have released a series of ‘black’ penguins which cost just 80 pence each. One of the biggest successes so far has been an edition of the Communist Manifesto. Read all about this and the other 79 books here.

He’s a record breaker!

Well it’s taken 250 years but John Harrison has finally been vindicated. The subject of Dava Sobel’s book “Longitude” was posthumously given one of Guinness World Records’ more unusual awards at the National Maritime Museum on Saturday 18th April after a 100-day trial of his time piece known as Clock B. Read the details here.


Just 13 minutes away from killing Hitler

A new film, just released in Germany, tells the little known story of 36 year old carpenter Georg Esler who planted a bomb that would almost certainly have killed Hitler in November 1939 had he not left his annual Munich beer hall speech early. It’s incredible how many stories of individuals and groups who challenged Hitler are still coming to light. A gripping summary of Georg’s story is told here on the BBC news site.


Brilliant Books for Bored Teenagers

Before you know it the holiday season will be upon us and the prospect of relaxing by the pool with a good book will be a reality. But wait, what’s that whingeing noise? It’s a bored teenager….the wi-fi isn’t working……they don’t want to go in the pool again…..there’s nothing to do. “Why don’t you read a book?” you brightly enquire…….you get that face.

Well now children’s literature expert Daniel Hahn comes to the rescue with his suggestion of 8 books that teenagers will enjoy but which work for an adult audience too.


Something for the Mums

An interesting selection of 10 books that explore the often fraught relationship between mother and daughter. From Ofshore to Oranges are Not the Only Fruit.


Gone to Ground – the story of a Jewish ‘U-boat’

A newly published book that tells a story, almost lost to us, of Marie Jalowicz Simon a German Jewish woman who survived in Berlin during the second world war. She never talked about her wartime experiences until the late 1990s. Then her historian son bought her a tape recorder and suggested she record her memories. 77 tapes later and she had the basis for a remarkable yet unsentimental memoir. The review compares and contrasts the book with Hans Fallada’s ‘Alone in Berlin’. It sounds like a fascinating book.

Marie Jalowicz Simon in 1994

70th Anniversary of the Dresden Bombing 13th February 1945

Lots in the news about the bombing which plays a central role in Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ which we discussed back in September 2009. It’s interesting to see how the understanding of the details of this event have changed over the years. Immediately after the bombing the Nazi’s claimed that 250,000 people were killed in the attack. By the time Vonnegut wrote his book in the 1960s the generally accepted figure was 120,000. All the coverage this week refers to 25,000 deaths – still a dreadful number of course. There is a really good examination of the bombing, why it happened and how compares with other attacks on Hamburg, Coventry and London, on the BBC Radio 4 programme Making History. If the programme has been taken down then the podcast will still be available from iTunes.


A Long Day’s Journey Into Light

In the wake of the announcement that Harper Lee is to publish a new book just 55 years after her last – ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ – here are 5 other books that arrived in the world after rather a long delay.




  1. Still does not change the fact Slaughterhouse Five was the only book if my stats are right to have zeros!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Editor

      It is true that one person gave Slaughterhouse 5 a score of zero but this matter has now been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service and no further comment is permitted until any resulting prosecution has been resolved.


  2. The perpetrator claimed he needed to read it again, could be the start of some plea bargaining scam!


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