Book Review: The Relive Box by T. C. Boyle

I’m not a short story fan, but I am a T. C. Boyle fan, so I did try his new collection of short stories. Bottom line: they are great!

With 270 pages and just 11 stories, these are not the shortest of short stories, and most of them are very original and engaging. What to think of the title story, in which a family is addicted to their “Relive Box,” a game console with which they can watch any moment of their past? The father throws off his daughter (“Time for bed!”) and then spends the whole night finding back events from his past, never satisfied with the way he acted at the time, but with no way to change the past, either.

Several of the stories—like Relive Box—are placed in the near future, for instance involving a water apocalypse or genetically selected children and pets. Others are set in the current time, with a girl who failed college trying to cover up this fact for her parents at graduation, or a friendly widower who receives a letter from a stranger asking for his help.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading these stories. They are typically T. C. Boyle: full of quirks and great writing.

I received a e-copy of this book in return for a review.

Book Review: The Last Dog on Earth by Adrian J. Walker

What the publisher says:Every dog has its day…

And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can be.

Reg, an agoraphobic writer with an obsession for nineties football, plans to wait out the impending doom in his second floor flat, hiding himself away from the riots outside.

But when an abandoned orphan shows up in the stairwell of their building, Reg and Lineker must brave the outside in order to save not only the child, but themselves…”

What I say: As a lover of post-apocalyptic books, I very much enjoyed this novel. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic London, where Reg, a writer, lives with his dog. He knows there are other people in flats further away (he keeps track of them; there are ten window spread out over the city that lit up every night) but he is not interested in meeting anyone else. He likes to keep to himself. But then he finds a young girl at his door, who refuses to go away. Reg decides to bring her to wherever she’s supposed to be and, once he gets outside the familiar streets, finds the remnants of London to be very different from what he expected. He is forced to deal with other people and his quest to drop the girl off turns into something bigger.

Besides Reg, there is another narrator, who is at Reg’s side for most of the time but also has his own adventures. This is Reg’s dog Lineker. He’s very wise for a dog and he philosophizes like a real human. I loved how he interprets the smells that he comes across; these are much more important to him than sound or vision. However, while he was generally telling an entertaining story, as the story progressed, I found him less believable as a dog. He knew too much; he was too clever.

In all, this was an entertaining story about a man and his dog in a world where there are many more men and dogs than either of them knew.

I received this book as an e-book (ARC) from the publishers (Del Rey) via Netgalley.


November Update

Recently, I’ve been a bit quiet on this blog. I’m still reading quite a bit, but not blogging about it. I thought it’s time for a little update.

What I’ve been reading:


The Sudden Disappearance of Hope by Claire North. Claire North’s protagonists all have some impossible characteristic which make the stories fantasy, while still touching on salient aspects of normal life. In this case, it’s Hope, a woman that people forget. After not having seen her for a few minutes, people don’t know that they’ve ever met her. The result is a lonely life for Hope.

Red Notice by Bill Browder. Non-fiction about the author’s adventures as an investment banker in Russia just after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. And about how things turn sour. He shows how the leading people in Russia are corrupter than ever and don’t mind a few dead bodies to cover up the worst of their actions. Not the sort of story I’m usually interested in but this was great reading!

The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray. I’ve only just started this book, but it seems good fun. About a French banker in Dublin who is being followed around by an author called Paul (!) who wants to write his story.

Last man in Tower by Aravind Adiga. I picked this book up almost exactly a year ago from a hotel book swap shelf in Paris, where I was on holiday with Suzanne. At first, the book was quirky and fun, but it lost its charm at around page 50. I read a bit more but gave up (for now) at page 90. It’s about an apartment building in Mumbai and its inhabitants (fun) and about a developer who wants to buy the building to take it down and build something more profitable (not so fun).

What I’ve been doing:

My book editing business, Book Helpline, is doing well. We’ve helped a lot of writers with their book and a few of them were published this month. We’re proud!

The Secret Billionaire by Teymour Shahabi (YA novel)
The Black Raincoat by Brian Clarke (Short stories)
Week 42 by Emma McClane (Novel)
Behind the Glass by M. Van (Thriller)
A Bleat on a Bleak Winter’s Night by Rosie Button (children’s picture book)

And last, but not least, Book Helpline was chosen as one of the best book editors by Kindle Preneur! kindlepreneur

See you next month!


The 24-Hour Read-a-thon! #readathon

readathonIt’s almost time to start the 24 Hour Read-a-thon! Many book bloggers and other book lovers all over the world will be reading as much as they can within 24 hours. Some will read 6 hours, some will try and read the full 24 hours.

Everyone starts at the same time, 12 GMT, which is 2pm for me here in the Netherlands. I do need my sleep, but I will try and read for 16-18 hours. That is, I’ll be reading, checking other participants’ blog, tweet and Facebook about the event, eat dinner, breakfast, and lunch (in that order), sleep (for 6-8 hours), tell my sons to get off the computer, answer inquiries from potential clients (I run a book editing company), and go for a walk.


This is what I’ll be reading from:


Frank Derrick’s Holiday of A Lifetime by J.B. Morrison
The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (finished)
The Secret Billionaire by Teymour Shahabi
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Opening Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I’m reading from the Netherlands in Europe 
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I’m especially looking forward to The Secret Billionaire. It’s written by one of our book editing clients, but I haven’t had the chance to read the final version in its entirety.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I’ve got some honey-coated dry-roasted peanuts. I’m slightly “allergic” to honey (it gives me stomach aches) but a few handfulls should be fine.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Ask me why I call myself Leeswammes. No, I’m not Lee; I’m Judith!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? More social media. I actually read quite a bit last time but it felt rather lonely.

After 6 hours, I finished the first book (phew!)

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (177 pages). Nice, if sad, story about small-town England in the 1950s.

I finished three books in total

The additional two are:

Frank Derrick’s Holiday of A Lifetime by J.B. Morrison (304 pages)
The Secret Billionaire by Teymour Shahabi (385 pages)


Do you participate? What are you reading?

Please leave a link to your starting post so I can easily find you.

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