More about books

As a writer and editor, I have enjoyed many years meeting and interviewing many fascinating people, and visiting wonderful locations worldwide.

These days I also indulge my passion for books, reading, and writing by interviewing authors, hosting events and sharing my reviews and recommendations.

For more than 10 years I co-hosted a book club on air for BBC Radio Suffolk with the afternoon presenter, Lesley Dolphin. You can listen again to our conversations by following the link below. 

In 2008 I launched an open book club for leading independent Browsers Bookshop in Woodbridge and we have been meeting each month ever since.

I also have the pleasure of chairing and organising author talks for children and adults at events and festivals thoughout the year.

Past events with Browsers Bookshop in Woodbridge include Alexander McCall Smith, Margaret Drabble, Victoria Hislop, Griff Rhys Jones, Kate Mosse, Deborah Moggach, Maggie O'Farrell, Michael Morpurgo, Robert Peston, Kate Humble, Alan Johnson MP, Max Hastings.

I've interviewed Simon Mayo for the First Light Festival, Melissa Harrison for The Cut Halesworth, Louise Doughty for Felixstowe Book Festival, Barbara Erskine for Suffolk Libraries, and many more.

Each week I compile an e-newsletter offering book news, author events, my reviews and recommendations. If you'd like to receive it, please click here.

Thank you for reading
Catherine

What's on

Sunday 20th June, 3.00pm
at The Cut Halesworth on stage and livestreamed
The much-loved gardening writer and enthusiast Anna Pavord will be talking about her years as a gardener, gardening correspondent and writer of over 12 books.
Thursday 1st July, 7.30pm
at Online
Discover how actress and producer, Kate Sawyer imagined surviving beside a beached whale in New Zealand in this all-consuming, stunning post-apocalyptic novel. Goody bags for the first 30 people to reserve their place in this special online event.

Events Archive

Visit my archive pages for details of all events in recent years.

Listening in

For some years I’ve been co-hosting a monthly book club on BBC Radio Suffolk with the presenter Lesley Dolphin. You can listen to past discussions here.

PODCAST - listen here to Catherine talking with Lesley on Tuesday 11th May 2021.

Scroll down for details of the title we’re reading this month or click here.

Browsers Book Group

I've been hosting the Browsers Book Group for the past 13 years. We used to meet in the bookshop in Woodbridge but, due to the current situation regarding coronavirus, I have been running a monthly online discussion. Please sign up for the weekly e-newsletter here to receive details. And do support your local independent bookshop by ordering by phone or email in these difficult times.

Crow Lake
by Mary Lawson
Described as being 'full of blossoming insights and emotional acuity, a compelling and serious page-turner'. Recommended by Graham Norton and Anne Tyler! What will we think of it?
Monday, 28 June 2021 - 8:00pm

Reader recommendations

At the end of each year, members of the Browsers Book Group meet together to share their favourite titles and offer ideas for gifts for friends and family, and for new authors to try ourselves. For 2020, this meeting took place online. The titles that were mentioned are listed here.

Buying books

As you get ideas for book purchases, please do remember to use your local high street bookshop. This is such a difficult time for them and they're all trying their best to find ways to allow us to shop safely.

But perhaps you've read about the new online bookshop initiative? It's called bookshop.org.

There are curated booklists to browse, drawn up by booksellers and reviewers and, for every purchase made through the site, independent bookshops receive a commission. 

I've linked the reviews on my website so that you can purchase online if you wish (and I will receive a small commission for each purchase, with a further commission going to all independent bookshops). 

However, please note that it is still best to order direct from your local high street bookshop!

Book reviews

My recent recommendations

Here are the books I've been enjoying recently, both fiction and non-fiction titles.

by Christina Sweeney-Baird
The outbreak of a virus threatens the world order, affecting only men. Brilliantly written page-turner that boasts sensitivity and hope.
Publication date: 29th April 2021
Hardback edition
by Jackie Polzin
A year in the life of a woman caring for her four chickens as she comes to terms with not having children. Brilliant!
Publication date: 1st April 2021
Hardback edition
by Abbie Greaves
Mary stands outside Ealing Broadway station each day with a sign saying 'Jim Come Home'. Why is this action necessary? Where is Jim? A real...
Publication date: 29th April 2021
Hardback edition
by Emma Donoghue
Out now in paperback! An extraordinary account of a young woman nursing in a maternity unit in Ireland at the time of the 1918 pandemic. Wonderful!
Publication date: 23rd July 2020
by Nina-Sophia Miralles
Recommended non-fiction
A fascinating history of the magazine and the people who created it.
Publication date: 18th March 2021
Hardback edition
by Susan Beale
Family life in Brussels challenged by infidelity and adolescence, with a backdrop of a refugee crisis and terrorism. Brilliant!
Publication date: 4th March 2021
Hardback edition
by Beth Morrey
Living alone, estranged from her family, Missy Carmichael finds friendship through a chance meeting in her local park.
Publication date: 4th March 2021
by Michael Rosen
Recommended non-fiction
A profoundly moving and important record of how the much-loved writer Michael Rosen battled covid, told through prose poems and letters.
Publication date: 18th March 2021
Hardback edition
by Christina Lamb
Recommended non-fiction
This is a disturbing, distressing, powerful and challenging read exposing the war crimes against women. Brilliantly written.
Publication date: 5th March 2020
Hardback edition
by Emma Stonex
Fantastically atmospheric, great characterisation and an intriguing mystery. Rather wonderful!
Publication date: 4th March 2021
Hardback edition

For children

These are my most recent recommendations for children. Click here to see listings by age.

by Victoria Hislop
A beautiful, touching and life-affirming story of the people on Spinalonga, the former Greek leper colony, with a wonderful narrator and glorious...
Publication date: 3rd June 2021
Hardback edition
by Lisa Thompson
As Ellie is too ill to attend school, a robot takes her place in class, next to Anna. An inventive story of friendship and not being afraid to be who...
Publication date: 3rd June 2021
by Hilary McKay
The stunning companion novel to 'The Skylarks' War'. Wonderful characters and a gripping and moving story of courage, resilience and...
Publication date: 27th May 2021
Hardback edition
by Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Stuck on an island with no mobile phones and when the internet is broken, they've run out of food and they've discovered treasure. What an...
Publication date: 13th May 2021
Hardback edition
by Joyce Dunbar
Three charming and amusing stories with beautiful and nostalgic illustrations. Rather lovely!
Publication date: 11th May 2021
Hardback edition
by Melissa Harrison
A nostalgic, yet contemporary, magical adventure introducing the Hidden Folk who give us a different perspective on the natural world. Wonderful!
Publication date: 6th May 2021
by Zadie Smith
Wonderful illustrations by Magenta Fox for this story about Maud the guinea pig, who's considered a bit of a weirdo by the other pets.
Publication date: 15th April 2021
Hardback edition
by Lauren Ace
A beautifully illustrated story of a group of boys growing up together.
Publication date: 1st April 2021
Hardback edition
by Danny Wallace
How would we cope if all the technology stopped working? The world is in chaos and grandma is on her own at the other side of the country...
Publication date: 18th March 2021
by Rachel Delahaye
The first in a new series of very funny stories about the pacifist, vegetarian Mort the Meek who has to survive in a brutal and violent kingdom.
Publication date: 4th March 2021

Look out for

These titles will soon be published but are not yet available in the shops. 

by Nancy Tucker
An eight-year-old girl kills a toddler, her actions seemingly an outlet for the lack of care and attention she receives from her mother. An astonishingly sensitive and compelling novel.
Publication date: 24th June 2021
by Kate Sawyer
Completely consuming story of a post-apocalyptic world, and the time before. Set in London and beside a beached whale in New Zealand. Stunning!
Publication date: 24th June 2021
by Lucy Kellaway
Recommended non-fiction
After a successful career in journalism, and raising a large and happy family, the author leaves it all behind and becomes a teacher. Brilliantly inspiring and entertaining. Haven't been able to stop telling people about this book!
Publication date: 1st July 2021
by Daisy May Johnson
Recommended for children
Publication date: 1st July 2021
by Cathy Rentzenbrink
The joys and struggles of bringing up a young family are told in this beautiful, sensitive and entertaining account of life on Magnolia Road.
Publication date: 8th July 2021
by Helene Flood
Publication date: 8th July 2021
by Adrian Bleese
Recommended non-fiction
A warm, engaging and entertaining personal story of working in police helicopters over Suffolk. Fascinating!
Publication date: 19th July 2021
by Lisa Jewell
A young mum goes to a party and never returns home. A year later someone seems to be leaving clues to the events of that night.
Publication date: 22nd July 2021
by Rob Biddulph
Recommended for children
Peanut's father has gone missing but when she discovers a box of pencils he left her, she finds that she can draw images which come to life, including a door to the world in which her father has disappeared.
Publication date: 2nd September 2021
by Elizabeth Day
Marisa has known Jake for only a few months but has no hesitation about moving in with him and trying for a baby. But in this novel of twists and surprises, no one is quite as they seem.
Publication date: 2nd September 2021
by KA Hayton
Recommended for children
Publication date: 2nd September 2021
by Vera Kurian
When a series of murders take place on a college campus, suspicion immediately turns to the secret research programme involving psychopaths. An astonishing thriller.
Publication date: 9th September 2021

On the radio

BBC Radio Suffolk

Catherine at BBC Radio SuffolkFor more than 10 years, each month I have joined Lesley Dolphin on the afternoon programme at BBC Radio Suffolk to talk about books. In the feature called Lesley's Readers, I selected a title for an 'on air' book club, inviting listeners to read along and send in their comments by text or email. You can listen to past discussions here.

xxx

We have just read.....

The Midnight Library
by Matt Haig
It's midnight on Nora's last day on earth and she is transported to a library. This is where she can explore what else might have happened in her life, if she'd made different choices. Described as 'a beautiful fable', 'a brilliant premise and great fun', what will we think of it? 

My blog

Sunday 13 June 2021

Whose line is it?

Do you remember the comedy improvisation programme on TV, 'Whose Line Is It Anyway'? I always thought it had a bit of a cult following, but it seems everyone of a certain age watched it. Of course there were many well known names taking part but it was also such an exciting prospect because no one knew what was going to happen next, including the performers.

Improvisation has had a resurgence in recent years. I've been intrigued by the Austentatious troupe who create a comedy play inspired by Jane Austen from a title suggested by an audience member on the night. Some day soon maybe I'll see them perform in real life, but I did enjoy interviewing one of their founders Cariad Lloyd a few months ago. You can take a look here.

I was interested to learn of a book recently published, explaining all we need to know about improv. The terms and devices are spelt out, as well as descriptions of the spirit and teamwork involved. What's more, though, the author, Pippa Evans explains how we can apply these techniques and understanding to our regular daily lives. It's a self-help book with a difference, and is great fun. 

Of course we have all had to improvise in coping with the restrictions and changes in routine throughout the past year and organisers of author talks have been particularly inventive in 'pivoting' their offer from real life to online sessions, streamings and hybrid events.