About me

I’m a forty-something engineering geologist living in Stamford. My main interests are reading voraciously, writing fiction, and choral singing. I’ve had blogs before which turned into a forum for reviews, so I thought I’d post a blog which was (almost) solely reviews of books I’ve read.

You’ll note that I haven’t updated this blog since 2014 – it’s not because I’m not reading!

Choirs I sing with: Lyra Davidica, Anton Bruckner Choir.

Favourite authors: Jane Austen, Iain M. Banks, Leslie Charteris, Agatha Christie, Jasper Fforde, Antonia Forest, Neil Gaiman, Diana Wynne Jones, Guy Gavriel Kay, Clare Mallory, Robin McKinley, Terry Pratchett, Dorothy L. Sayers, Neal Stephenson, J. R. R. Tolkien, Minette Walters, Patricia Wentworth, Dornford Yates.

Current favourite music: Bliss – Colour Symphony; Mahler symphonies; Them Crooked Vultures; Flanders & Swann – At the drop of another hat; Vaughan Williams – Lord, Thou hast been our refuge, Shakespeare songs; The Art of Noise – Influence; anything by Shostakovich; early Schoenberg; Chopin’s Preludes; Beethoven Symphony No. 7; Prokofiev’s piano concertos.


17 Responses to About me

  1. Pippa says:

    scary, your likes are very similar to mine…….

    but my current reading list is a lot lighter. Can’t remember the address of my very hidden (ie I@m not allowed to have one) blog with my books read this year on…. I’ll email it at another point!

    Currently half of my reading is Young Adult because of keeping up with my eldest!


    • ela21 says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Pippa. I like YA books, too, as well as children’s books, though the current reading list doesn’t include any at present.

  2. Jacqueline says:

    I was looking for a review on “The Man Who Knew Too Much” and came across your blog. Now I can’t wait to dive into the book! I’m looking forward to reading more of your reviews. Seems we
    have an appreciation for some of the same authors.
    Currently hooked on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Thanks for posting your book reviews!

  3. Simon Swift says:

    Dear Ela

    My debut novel, Black Shadows got an authonomy gold star in January and following Harpercollins advice, I sent it to a few small presses. I am happy to say that it will be released by Wild Wolf Publishing in May 2011. I am currently seeking out some reviews I would really like you to review Black Shadows.

    I’m happy to send you through PDF copy, as I am still awaiting the proofs for the May release.

    Here’s the blurb:

    New Jersey 1935: When private detective, Errol Black and his fellow agents, are protecting an Irish mobster they get mixed up in the killing of Dutch Schultz. A gunfight leaves a bloody mess behind.
    Ten years later, Black’s past is about to catch up with him. A young lady hires Black for a seemingly routine surveillance job, former partner Dyke Spanner is shot to death and Black is drawn deeper into a violent and bloody quest. The search for the priceless Blue Tavernier Diamond brings gangsters, New York’s ruthless Tongs and beautiful women into his life.
    To solve the crime, he finds himself journeying into his own past where both the secret to Dyke’s killer and the clues to the hidden diamond lay.

    Black Shadows is a crime novel blending fact and fiction. In the finest hardboiled tradition, it is filled by gangsters, beautiful dames, colourful villains and red herrings galore – this is the world of private eye Errol Black.

    BLACK SHADOWS is a tightly written piece of noir fiction, inviting obvious comparisons to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. – Harpercollins

    My website: http://errolblack.weebly.com/

    I really do hope you can help me out a little, and if you really don’t think it is something you could do yourself, maybe you could point me in the direction of other author/reviewers of noir?

    Best regards

    Simon Swift

  4. Deborah Emin says:

    I love your blog. I have posted it on my company’s facebook page to send more readers to you and your reviews. Great work.

    Deborah Emin

  5. Josie Brown says:


    I hope you’re well! I thought you would be interested in reviewing John Sharer’s “Honor Knows No Borders”. The book tells the thrilling story set in WWII of a Jewish boy and his father who encounter German officers and learn that people can’t always be judged by the uniforms they wear.

    We would love to send you a copy, please let us know if you’re interested!


    Josie Brown

  6. Hi! I have been reading your reviews for a while now but I haven’t commented before.

    I’ve nominated your blog for the Liebster Blog Award. If you want to accept it, check it out here,


    And it’s totally okay if you don’t want it. I’d understand. 🙂

  7. I found your blog about A Tale of Two Cities very interesting, especially since I have recently published “Sydney’s Story.” I had promised my students over the years that I would write a book to explain Sydney’s character. I wrote a novel of his childhood through his friendship with Lucie Manette Darnay. The book was published in August 2012, paperback or Kindle. Perhaps some of your readers will be interested in it? I would love to send you a copy to review, Ela.

  8. Hi Ela,
    My new mystery, MURDER ACTUALLY, is out now with Attica Books. It’s about a romance book writer turned reluctant sleuth after finding a body at her book reading. My influences are Sarah Caudwell and Dorothy Sayers (lofty ambitions, I know). Would you be willing to do a review?

  9. Matthew says:

    Hey I’m just getting started with a blog about Hard-Boiled Fiction and am looking for reviews and advice. Based on the books you review and the experience you have I would appreciate some comments and advice. You can check it out here: http://falconfiction.weebly.com/

  10. Peter Belchamber says:

    Enjoyed your balanced and well-informed review of Dornford Yates’ books, notably the Chandos series starting with Blind Corner, where I agree with the contemporary review in The Times that noted: “There is not a dull page in the book”.

    A question please: You refer to Lower than Vermin, but given its subject matter about an aristocratic brother and sister, why was it given this title? And what is the thrust of the story?

    With thanks and good wishes

    Peter Belchamber

    • Ela says:

      ‘Lower Than Vermin’ is taken from a speech by Aneurin Bevan, in 1948 in which he said: “That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation…”

      If you’re interested in a more scholarly view of Yates, I commend your notice Kate Macdonald’s blog katemacdonald.net where she has written quite a lot about Yates (and his contemporaries).

      • Peter Belchamber says:

        Thank, Ella, for reminding me of Aneurin Bevan’s Commons’ mauling of the Conservative party, which I failed to connect with the book title.

        I am also most grateful to you for drawing my attention to Kate Macdonald’s well-informed and perceptive comments on Yates et al.

        With renewed thanks and good wishes

        Peter Belchamber

  11. Peter Belchamber says:

    PS Sorry to have missed the “you” from thank you in my opening

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