Click any of the red links below to be taken straight to the area of Christmas Gifts that interests you.
Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2017. Unfolding over a single night, Lincoln in the Bardo is written with George Saunders' inimitable humour, pathos and grace. Here he invents an exhilarating new form, and is confirmed as one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Deploying a theatrical, kaleidoscopic panoply of voices - living and dead, historical and fictional - Lincoln in the Bardo poses a timeless question: how do we live and love when we know that everything we hold dear must end? Commenting on how it felt to be Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, George Saunders said: "It has really been something, to be in such remarkable company. This group of books, coming at this moment in our history, is so cheering to me. It is important to be reminded, in this time of quick snark, purposeful evasion, and aggressive demagoguery, that there is another and higher mode of human expression that thrives on patience, revision, ambiguity, complexity, precision of language, and empathy". You can read the full interview on the Man Booker webiste here.
November 2017 Book of the Month The Peter Woodhouse of the title is a dog rescued from a cruel farmer and “hidden” at an American Airforce Camp where he becomes their lucky mascot with a penchant for flying. This is 1944. Val is a land girl, Mike an American pilot. They fall in love and decide to marry but before they do Mike, the dog and a navigator are shot down over Holland. Unbeknownst to Val, who is now pregnant, they all survive. A compassionate German soldier, Ubi, helps them. The war ends, Mike, dog and navigator return to England, Ubi to Germany and we follow all their eventful and eventually linking lives. This is sensitive and gently told but now drama mounts and tragedy sets in as the years unfold with lots of surprises including bizarrely a Motodrom, until 1981. It is a stand-alone tale which the author frequently produces but this one is very different from his norm, not as light hearted and quirky as most. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
November 2017 Book of the Month As so often happens when a book is filmed as this is, there is far greater detail on the page than on the screen, here perhaps more than most. In its recently written prequel, The Rules of Magic, which follows the lives of the wacky aunts Jet and Fran, we are only introduced to these sisters who dominate this story, Gillian and Sally, towards the end of that book. Here, in this original classic published in 1995, we get their story. Unlike the film (which is wonderful) the troubles Sally has bringing up her teenage daughters as a single mum, is extensively handled. Sadly the aunts are rather in the background and Gillian’s love interest comes in late too. If you have not read this and only seen the film then I urge you to do so but read The Rules of Magic first since you now can. Both books and the film are enchanting, highly recommended. Sarah Broadhurst
November 2017 Book of the Month A scorching and beautifully written epic tale set in 1348, a time that sends a jagged screech of fingernails down the blackboard of history. Step away from the present into the midst of the Black Death, to overwhelming fear and confusion. The moated centre of one estate in Dorset appears to offer sanctuary, yet the treacherous play of human emotions wreaks havoc. I am a fan of Minette Walters, she has the ability to look behind and beyond the obvious, and she is eminently suited to this new genre. A lot of characters are introduced, yet there is no confusion, each was clear in my mind, known to me and vibrantly alive. The descriptions took me directly through the words and into this compelling story. ‘The Last Hours’ is the first of two novels, it quickly puts down roots and takes hold, ensuring a gripping, striking and remarkably readable tale. Liz Robinson
November 2017 Book of the Month A beautifully written, rather special novel, detailing the highly personal journey of a family through turbulent times in Taiwan’s history. A stolen bicycle sits centre stage in this story, in fact the bicycles of Taiwan are hugely important, which sounds rather quirky, but as I read, the more I understood, and it felt… just right. The first few sentences spoke to me, the beauty of the thoughts and the description immediately shone through, by the end of the first chapter though, a chill settled over me. I felt as though I was wandering through a mind of treasured memories, some harsh, upsetting, others light as a breeze. Wu Ming-Yi is an award winning novelist, and I can see why for this is a story that meanders, transporting you through time and place. He quite literally paints with words. The translation is seamless, I felt connected, yet completely aware of the differences in front of me. ‘The Stolen Bicycle’ is an intimate tale that sweeps through history, it’s a truly fascinating, unusual read that I adored - highly recommended. ~ Liz Robinson
November 2017 Book of the Month The title of course refers to Puck’s line in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “Lo what fools these mortals be!”. It is a new period for Cornwell who is most famous for his Regency “Sharpe” series and more recently for the Viking Last Kingdom series. This has less battles and bloodshed, more intrigue and infighting, as William Shakespeare’s younger brother struggles to survive as an actor amid the squalor and splendour of Elizabethan London. He wants to grow up and “take men’s parts” in the plays but his youth and good looks keep seeing him cast as a girl, a dilemma peculiar to the period. I love Cornwell’s writing. His detail and characterisation well deserve the praise they so often receive. As I said this book is less bloody than many of his others. It is also set in a period more familiar to lovers of historical novels. It is wonderfully well-written and a must for his fans. Sarah Broadhurst
October 2017 Book of the Month An interesting departure for Penny Vincenzi as she takes a working-class man made good as her central character. Starting in 1937 and continuing through the war years the main thrust of the story however involves the Labour movement of the fifties and the development of the NHS. Tom Knelston is a staunch Labour supporter who is taken under the wing of a prominent backer fo the Labour party and eventually wins a seat in Parliament. Along the way he becomes blind to his family’s need and it takes a couple of truly dramatic events to force the man to take a hard look at himself, his life and what he may lose if he does not improve. There are numerous sub-plots, interesting characters surrounding the tale and enriching the whole meaty read which is full of fascinating historical detail. A lovely book, highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
October 2017 Book of the Month DCI Kate Burrows is looking for a serial killer in her home town of Grantley. This has brought painful memories for her partner Pat as his daughter was killed by the Grantley Ripper. The couple badly miss having a family around them for Kate’s daughter has gone to New Zealand. Kate has been dragged out of retirement and those familiar with her from previous novels will love the development here. She is a great character. Those new to this author are given enough to appreciate her. The case involves missing schoolgirls who turn up mutilated and murdered. Then a boy goes missing, the novel changes gear and accelerates at quite a pace. It’s unputdownable. Running alongside this is a very human of her partner Pat finding a son he never knew he had and grandchildren, in fact a ready-made family. This is a real page-turner, not to be missed. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
August 2017 Book of the Month With customary charm and deftness, Alexander McCall Smith gives us another instalment in this popular series, now running in its twelfth season in the Scotsman, making it the longest running serial novel ever. What trials are in store for Bertie and the gang this year? The twelfth novel in the 44 Scotland Street series, the longest running serial novel in the world.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | October 2017 Debut of the Month Make no mistake, this debut novel is startling and often painfully uncomfortable, yet it is a stunning, actually breathtaking piece of literature. 14 year old Turtle is strong, capable, different, she is also suffering… deeply and painfully. Within the first few pages I knew that ‘My Absolute Darling’ was going to be an unforgettable read. By the end of the first chapter, ice-cold fingers had run down my spine and sent my whole system into shock. I felt as though I was viewing life from an entirely different perspective, one absolutely humming with intensity. I wanted to stop the feelings of disbelief and horror that were crowding into my mind, but I knew that I had to bear witness. Gabriel Tallent’s writing is surprisingly simple, yet he paints a vibrant pulsating picture, this man sees life, sees beneath the surface, and grants you access too. The plants, wildlife, and surrounding countryside, so beautifully described, link with the reality of Turtle’s life and on occasion act as a buffer to what is happening. There were times when ‘My Absolute Darling’ made me scream inside, yet I couldn't stop reading this remarkable and actually rather beautiful novel. It will undoubtedly be one of my books of the year. ~ Liz Robinson
'Robinson is Spark’s second novel. Already she has her great subjects: truth, power, faith, what we may do to pretend or delude ourselves that we have agency in our own lives, what powers an artist, perhaps specifically a novelist, may take to themself. Already she has her diction, so clear that it frees the reading mind to apprehend things unsaid… Spark was first a poet; and always a poet. Hers is a music that is also unaffectedly and innately Scots. The rhythms and particularities recall the unmercy, the myth, and the wildlife, of ballad.' From the introduction by Candia McWilliam This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read. ~ Lovereading.co.uk
'One of the many delights of a Muriel Spark novel is the way in which the ground shifts so delicately under the reader’s feet. In an interview to mark the publication of the book in 1959, Spark said: ‘The prospect of death is what gives life the whole of its piquancy. Life would be so much more pointless if there were no feeling that it must end.’… A novel about ageing and dying might be rather bleak, but Momento Mori sparkles with a constant, satisfying humour. There is a farcical funeral, the internecine fighting of the literati is recognisable and hilarious, and the black humour as dark as it comes…' From the introduction by Zoe Strachan This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of ‘Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark’, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read. ~ Lovereading.co.uk
'There are two plots in The Comforters. One is fanciful and improbable; the other imaginative and convincingly real. The first is charming; the second disturbing… There is evidence of what would come to be recognised as the characteristic Spark touch: the unreal plot is presented in realistic style… the real one engages with religious mysteries and flirts with the supernatural… Spark is a comic novelist… She is a mercurial, a slippery, writer. Now you see her, now you don’t. You think you have grasped her meaning; then it eludes you… What an unusual, and unusually confident first novel this is… I was eighteen when I first read The Comforters. It delighted me then; it still delights me now, sixty years on…' From the introduction by Allan Massie This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read. ~ Lovereading.co.uk
‘You either ‘get’ Spark or you don’t. She always was different, and became more so with practice. An appetite for caricatures, for types… The Ballad of Peckham Rye is a comedy – some critics have trouble remembering that – filled with delicious volte-faces, which read to me like flash inspirations as Spark was writing… the author was on cruise control, astonishingly able to wrap everything up and exit in 130-odd sprightly pages… Time in Peckham runs circles. The prose will correspondingly fall into a rhythm; it is incantatory, ritualistic. Sprung like poetry, very close to song, this is the music to which Spark thinks.’ From the introduction by Ronald Frame. This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read. ~ Lovereading.co.uk
Three year retired Harry Bosch is working on cold cases for a small San Fernando Police Department who respect and treasure him, unlike his old colleagues from the LAPD days where he left under a cloud. In his new life he is asked to help with the murder of father and son pharmacists. At the same time he is questioned by his old department about a murderer and rapist’s case, a man who has been on death row for thirty years. Harry is accused of planting evidence and failing to do a DNA test, very serious allegations. Meanwhile his present case requires him to go “underground” to bring down a drugs gang. Because of the formal enquiries over the rapist photographs of Harry are released to the press and his cover blown. Now all hell breaks loose in a tense read. The plot could almost have been three separate stories but Connolly has cleverly interlinked them into a coherent whole. Great stuff. Sarah Broadhurst
December 2017 Book of the Month An entertaining and impressive collection of 28 new short stories by members of the Crime Writer’s Association. There are some absolutely cracking authors on display here, from well established award winners, through to the ultra new and talented. Each author delves into the theme of travel and intriguing destinations. The book has been edited by Martin Edwards, award winning author and current chair of the CWA. The variety of stories delivered chills-a-plenty, were clever, provocative and ultimately extremely satisfying. This is a perfect read for crime lovers, allowing you to dip in and out, or sit and gorge yourself in one heady read. ‘Mystery Tour, A Crime Writer’s Association anthology’ is stimulating selection of must read short stories - highly recommended. - Liz Robinson
A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories that are surprising, intelligent, heart-warming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor. Known for his honesty and sensitivity as an actor, Mr Hanks brings both those characteristics to his writing. Alternatingly whimsical, moving and occasionally melancholy, Uncommon Type is a book that will delight as well as surprise his millions of fans. It also establishes him as a welcome and wonderful new voice in contemporary fiction, a voice that perceptively delves beneath the surface of friendships, families, love and normal, everyday behaviour.
The ghost of a poor Afghan returns to haunt the doctor who once amputated his hand. A mysterious and malignant force inhabits a room in an ancestral home and attacks all who sleep in it. A man who desecrates an Indian temple is transformed into a ravening beast. A castle in the Tyrol is the setting for an aristocratic murderer’s apparent resurrection. Nick Rennison, editor of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes and The Rivals of Dracula, has chosen fifteen tales from that era to raise the hair and chill the spines of modern readers. What a fantastically fascinating anthology, and perfectly framed by Nick Rennison’s insightful introduction. For the uninitiated, the eponymous ‘Supernatural Sherlock’ refers to the proliferation of occult detective stories that burst forth between 1890 and 1930. Among the authors of this wildly inventive, flamboyantly colourful genre were the likes of Kipling and Conan Doyle himself, along with prominent occult magician Dion Fortune, and stories by each of these are featured here, along with an excellent tale by HP Lovecraft, and other lesser known writers. These supernaturally-charged treats will amuse, astound and send shivers of unadulterated terror down readers’ spines as the intrepid detective protagonists venture where no normal detective would dare tread: into the depths of the dark unknown, investigating everything from ancestral homes occupied by evil forces, to haunted surgeons, risking their very sanity as they pursue a myriad of decidedly elusive otherworldly truths. Aficionados of detective fiction, this is a veritably original trove to explore. Joanne Owen BUY DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER
November 2017 Book of the Month From present-day Brooklyn and Guatemala, to the turbulence of 1970s Brazil and Chile, this stunning novel from the ever-satisfying, ever-surprising Allende is a triumph of storytelling, and a timely exposition of the plight of immigrants and refugees. Chilean Lucie has been invited by an associate, Richard, to teach Latin American and Caribbean Studies in Brooklyn. At the age of 62, Lucie “intended to enjoy her remaining years of good health... She wanted to live abroad”. But, while Lucie made this move with fire in her belly, and a longing for love in her heart, her flames of hope are somewhat dampened when it becomes clear that neurotic Richard has no interest in romance. But life has a habit of conjuring up the unexpected, which is what happens when Richard is involved in a car collision with a young Guatemalan woman. Nervous, stammering, and unquestionably traumatised, Evelyn reappears on his doorstep late at night. From that moment, three lives become inextricably linked as Lucie, Richard and Evelyn embark on a road-trip to deal with the unexpected cargo in the trunk of Evelyn’s car, sharing their harrowing stories with open honesty along the way. Novelists are often advised to show, not tell, but Allende breaks this “rule” of writing with characteristic brilliance. She tells the life stories of her three captivating protagonists with incisive, involving detail. Their personal histories wend readers through the tangled politics of Chile and Brazil, and through the excruciating experiences Evelyn endured while growing-up in Guatemala. While salted with stories of tragedy and brutality, this remarkable novel is also spiced with grace, endurance, and the solace that comes from “discovering that lives are often alike and feelings similar”. What’s more, it’s saturated with the glimmering glow of a love that was surely meant to be. ~ Joanne Owen
The second novel from the author of the award-winning bestseller The Loney. Every autumn, John Pentecost returns to the Lancashire farm where he grew up to help gather the sheep from the moors. Generally, very little changes in the Briardale Valley, but this year things are different. His grandfather - known to everyone as the Gaffer - has died and John's new wife, Katherine, is accompanying him for the first time. Every year, the Gaffer would redraw the boundary lines of the village, with pen and paper but also through the remembrance of folk tales, family stories and timeless communal rituals which keep the sheep safe from the Devil. This year, though, the determination of some members of the community to defend those boundary lines has strengthened, and John and Katherine must decide where their loyalties lie, and whether they are prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to join the tribe...Gripping, unsettling and beautifully written, Andrew Michael Hurley's new novel asks how much we owe to tradition, and how far we will go to belong.
Jazmin has been shunned ever since her best friend Becky disappeared. But Becky didn't just disappear - she jumped off a tall building and seemingly never reached the ground. It was as if she simply vanished into thin air. Did Jazmin have something to do with her disappearance? Or was it more to do with Icarus, so beguiling and strangely ever youthful, with whom Becky became suddenly besotted . . .
As so often happens when a book is filmed as this is, there is far greater detail on the page than on the screen, here perhaps more than most. In its recently written prequel, The Rules of Magic, which follows the lives of the wacky aunts Jet and Fran, we are only introduced to these sisters who dominate this story, Gillian and Sally, towards the end of that book. Here, in this original classic published in 1995, we get their story. Unlike the film (which is wonderful) the troubles Sally has bringing up her teenage daughters as a single mum, is extensively handled. Sadly the aunts are rather in the background and Gillian’s love interest comes in late too. If you have not read this and only seen the film then I urge you to do so but read The Rules of Magic first since you now can. Both books and the film are enchanting, highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
Smile has all the features for which Roddy Doyle has become famous: the razor-sharp dialogue, the humour, the superb evocation of childhood - but this is a novel unlike any he has written before. When you finish the last page you will have been challenged to re-evaluate everything you think you remember so clearly.
A spectacular father/son collaboration like no other, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men? All around the world, something is happening to women when they fall asleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed, the women become feral and spectacularly violent...
The brilliant new novel from the international bestselling author of Home and Fool Me Once. Mistaken identities, dark family secrets and mysterious conspiracies lie at the heart of this gripping new thriller. Now Nap is a cop - but he's a cop who plays by his own rules, and who has never made peace with his past.
You can take Michael Bennett out of New York City, but you can't take the cop out of Michael Bennett. Detective Michael Bennett is ready for a vacation after a series of crises push him, and his family, to the brink. He settles on an idyllic small town in the beautiful Maine woods. But just when Bennett thinks he can relax, he gets pulled into a case that has shocked the tight-knit community.
The spellbinding new Robert Langdon novel from the author of The Da Vinci Code. On a trail marked only by enigmatic symbols and elusive modern art, Langdon and Vidal uncover the clues that will bring them face-to-face with a world-shaking truth that has remained buried - until now.
Three short stories with the link the Cornish village of Pendruggan. Fern has used characters from her previous Cornish novels so those familiar with her work will feel at home. Those new to her work are not left to flounder for sufficient back story is given. The first, A Cornish Carol, is a modern day Christmas Carol, this is followed by The Beach Cabin where a London married couple sort out their lives and The Stolen Weekend closes the book. It tells us of a couple of female friends escaping to London but missing the events of the village. Warm, funny and engaging the collection is perfect with on a cold winter evening, to be transported to the sun, golden beaches and a lovely welcoming group of individuals.
The Booker Prizewinning author of The Sea offers up another intelligent, beautifully written novel this time with a Victorian setting. The story flows along elegantly with each chapter a vignette. Nothing is over-explained, the descriptions are evocative and the thoughts of the characters well expressed. It is a stunning read from one of our finest novelists who also writes 1950s detective stories under the name of Benjamin Black (great reads!). Here he has a wealthy lady, Isabel Osmond, is a failed marriage from which she wishes to “purchase my emancipation – to suffrage if you like.” …. But this is in the Victorian era … However the suffragette movement and some independence for women is erupting. Isabel discovers her husband has deceived her for year and extracts a subtle revenge. Highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
An incredible collection of short crime stories chosen by Sophie Hannah (of whom I’m a massive fan). This book is spectacularly enormous, with 1077 pages it needs to be seen to be believed. It feels as though you are about to open a treasure trove, and inside are tales from a huge variety of women writers, from across the ages to bang up to date. As I read the list of authors I was like a kid in a sweet shop, to pick out just a couple almost feels wrong as there is some major talent on offer here. Sophie Hannah introduces her collection with the confession that she is a mystery addict, and that puzzles sit centre stage in the stories. I was initially drawn to the tales by authors I recognised, but also delighted in making new acquaintances. Within ‘Deadlier’ there is something to suit every crime lover, this is a book to sit on a shelf close by, to pick up and immerse yourself in again and again, I quite simply love it. ~ Liz Robinson
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017. An extraordinary story of love and hope from the bestselling, Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist. In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, Saeed and Nadia lock eyes across their classroom. After a while, they talk, he makes her smile and they start to fall in love. They try not to notice the sound of bombs getting closer every night, the radio announcing new laws, the curfews and the public executions. Eventually the problem is too big to ignore: it’s not safe for Nadia to live alone and she must move in with Saeed, even though they are not married, and that too is a problem. Meanwhile, rumours are spreading of strange black doors in secret places across the city, doors that lead to London or San Francisco, Greece or Dubai. One day soon the time will come for Nadia and Saeed to seek out one such door, joining the great outpouring of those fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world.
Featuring simple, delicious recipes from the new Channel series - Quick and Easy Food - Jamie Oliver's 5 Ingredients is his most straightforward book yet. Using five ingredients, cleverly combined, you'll conjure up THE most exciting food . . . Quick Asian fishcakes - juicy salmon fillets flavoured with fragrant lemongrass, ginger and fresh coriander, dipped into a chilli jam. Italian seared beef - blushing in the middle with green pesto, fiery rocket, pine nuts and Parmesan. Pear and Gorgonzola farfalle - strong, creamy Gorgonzola cheese and ripened sweet pears, crumbled walnuts and red chicory over pasta. Chickpea chard pork - seared pork in a casserole of chickpeas flavoured with fennel seeds, rainbow chard and roasted peppers. Cherry chocolate mousse - delicious dark chocolate, black-pitted cherries folded into a simple mousse made from eggs, double cream and golden caster sugar. It's all about making the journey to good food, super-simple. With over 130 recipes, and chapters on Chicken, Beef, Pork, Lamb, Fish, Eggs, Veg, Salads, Pasta, Rice and Noodles and Sweet Things, there's plenty of quick and easy recipe inspiration to choose from. How about . . . Pomegrante jewels, fresh mint and feta tossed into a Carrot and grain salad. Roast tikka chicken - whole chicken flavoured in tikka paste, roasted with crispy potatoes, golden cauliflower and coriander, finished with a deliciously sumptuous AND impressive Honey berry filo smash topped with coconut yoghurt and pistachios. All ready to tuck into in less than 30-minutes. With every recipe you'll find a visual ingredient guide, serving size, timings, a short, easy-to-follow method, and quick-reference nutritional information. Jamie's new cookbook takes the stress out of mealtimes and will inspire cooks and non-cooks alike with beautiful, crazily simple ideas . . .
'Myself and Hugh . . . We're taking a break.' 'A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?' If only. Amy's husband Hugh says he isn't leaving her. He still loves her, he's just taking a break - from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it. Yes, it's a mid-life crisis, but let's be clear: a break isn't a break up - yet . . . However, for Amy it's enough to send her - along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers - teetering over the edge. For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns if he returns, will he be the same man she married? Will Amy be the same woman? Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn't she?
This is a near future, post Brexit, political-cum-business thriller where Britain is seeking strong trade deals outside Europe. The protagonist, or so we initially believe, is Kate Thompson, a new, charming and good looking Tory trade minister who is sent to India just as war looks likely between India and Pakistan. She falls for (true love?) the chief of an Indian arms technology company which a UK electronic parts manufacturer is doing big business with. That company employs a lot of Muslims. Now the Indian/Pakistan problem overflows to the British factory workers who are influenced by Muslim extremists. Then a dirty American company steps in. Corruption leaks off the pages, intrigue and explosives situations abound; all is very action-packed. It is a good plot idea and a most enjoyable read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
The fifteenth Courtney saga follows the brothers Tom and Guy and half brother Francis. It’s the sequel to Monsoon (1999) and Birds of Prey (1997) and gives us a fair bit of Cornish background and how the family came to Africa, which is fun. Full of the expected swashbuckling stuff of pirates, treachery, confusing relationships and many exotic locations, it somehow lacks the “zing” of earlier books, Wilbur seems to be getting tired, so perhaps the reason for a co-writer again. But, hey, it’s still hugely enjoyable and better than a lot in its area. It’s an easy, fast read, showing where misinformation and ambition can lead to the truth being ignored, making people act in improper ways. This all leads to great adventure. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
As with The Magpie Murders so Horowitz also makes an appearance in this only here he is very much the star. In first person narrative he portrays himself as an author following a murder investigation. So we enter the world of meta-fiction where Horowitz gives us large slices of his real life and his writing techniques alongside an extraordinary murder mystery. He has come at the invitation of his chum, Hawthorne an ex police office now private detective, who hopes that if Horowitz writes about the case then they can split the book deal fifty fifty. Naturally Horowitz is intrigued as we are and the banter between the two adds hugely to the tale. It is a modern Holmes/Watson mystery with a difference and a hell of a twist. It is also the start of a series so it will be fun watching the characters develop. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
This feel-good festive feast is the perfect stocking filler for those who yearn for the magic of a good old yuletide miracle. When Anna arrives at remote Wynthorpe Hall to work as companion to its eccentric owner, she’s one of life’s confirmed Christmas humbugs. Every year, for almost twenty years, Anna’s “longed-for gift of working every day of December” has been granted, due to a diligent search she begins “when the first leaves fall in autumn”. This year, Anna’s new workplace has an immediate emotional effect. On first glimpsing the building, she shudders “as something deep within me seemed to stir and shift”. Then, when she’s shown to her room, Rose Room, with its four-poster bed and roaring log fire, she’s transported back to a memory and tempted to wonder if some serendipitous magic might be at play. But, while Anna soon feels like she’s been part of Wynthorpe Hall for years, life’s not entirely a bed of roses, for the return of the household’s youngest son threatens to throw her off-course, along with opening a Pandora’s box of giddy possibilities for them both. Packed with plenty of passion to keep the cockles warm this winter, this is the perfect Christmas comfort read for fans of Jenny Colgan, Carole Matthews and Sophie Kinsella. ~ Joanne Owen
Seven captivating short stories set in the rather wonderful world of DCI Daley, which can either serve as a revealing introduction to the series, or be enjoyed by existing fans. I love a good short story, and I adore this series, so was waiting expectantly with hands outstretched for ‘One Last Dram Before Midnight’. Denzil Meyrick unveils the past, divulges more information on certain characters (we see an entertaining glimpse of Hamish in his younger days), and hands us some thoroughly tricky crimes to solve. I have a real soft spot for DS Scott, and I was on the edge of my seat during one particular situation.‘One Last Dram Before Midnight’ contains Meyrick’s trademark dark police humour and plenty of gritty cases, a few ghostly whispers also caress the pages, ensuring a gathering of gutsy, compelling tales. ~ Liz Robinson
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | September 2017 Book of the Month Although unanimously heralded for featuring the return of spy master Smiley, this is more about his sidekick Peter Guillam, a sometimes melancholy tale revisiting the past and, more specifically, the operation and some of the characters detailed in the classic The Spy Who Came in from The Cold. Although Smiley is an ever present figure lurking in the shadows, as Guillam is forced to unravel complex threads of treachery, lies and deceit that have now come to roost, Smiley actually only makes a brief, if welcome, appearance at the conclusion of the tale, a meditation on the secret world and the damage done when the end always justified the means, not withstanding the human cost. Disillusioned, a bittersweet ballad about the morality of its characters and written, as ever, so beautifully and wittily, this is a perfect coda to the saga of the Circus, where so many much-loved, if dubious, characters we knew so well make fleeting passages on the scene. Le Carre at his best and you can’t get any better. Reminds us of what we lost when the series initially came to an end. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
A heartrending love story. An ode to vinyl. A poignant evocation of a community of shopkeepers in the late eighties. Like the music beloved by its protagonist, this pitch-perfect novel has an ineffable power to uplift the soul. At the heart of the story - and of run-down Unity Street - is Frank, steadfastly selling vinyl (no cassettes, and definitely no CDs) from his decaying shop: “With vinyl, you couldn’t just sit there like a lemon. You had to GET UP OFF YOUR ARSE and TAKE PART”. The polar opposite of Black Books’s Bernard Black, Frank is one of life’s altruists. He “knew what people needed even when they didn't know it themselves”. But, while his music recommendations transform and heal the loves of countless customers, Frank has neglected to partake in his own life. That is, until a well-dressed woman wearing a distinctive pea-green coat faints outside his shop. Ilse Brauchmann radiates movie-star magnetism, and Frank immediately falls for her, as does pretty much everyone on Unity Street. Ilse sets Frank’s heart-a-pounding, and his nerves-a-tingling, but his past pains (particularly his relationship with his music-obsessed mother) have left him emotionally impotent, and he’s at risk of losing his once-in-a-blue-moon chance to truly take part in life. The groove of this gloriously life-affirming novel gets under the skin and lingers long after the final sentence has been savoured. It’s a newly-heard riff you can’t get out of your head, and the favourite album you’ll return to in times of need. I loved it. ~ Joanne Owen
Gosh, what a story this is, dramatic, powerful, and so incredibly addictive. The Good Daughter is a standalone novel from Karin Slaughter. 28 years ago, as murder tore apart their family in a small town in North Georgia, one girl fled while the other stayed behind; in 2017 another act of violence threatens the family once more. From the very first page my whole attention was captured and kept prisoner until I had reached the end, and even now my thoughts still pop and burn. We start in 1989, and within a short time I found my body tensing, I was almost in fight or flight mode myself. I couldn't stop reading, each sentence branded my minds eye, and I could clearly see the drama as it unfolded in front of me. This really is clever writing, dots start to join up, creating a sinuous, convincing storyline. Even if thoughts of suspicion are already present, the impact of what is to come still breaks with intensity. The Good Daughter is a breathtaking whammy of a read, pure escapism at its best, and I can highly recommend it! ~ Liz Robinson July 2017 Book of the Month and eBook of the Month.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017. A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. The contemporary magician of the post-modern and often quirky novel (maybe equalled by just Haruki Murakami) returns with a doorstepper at nearly 900 pages and apart from the initial concept, it proves wonderfully traditional, if not old-fashioned. From the moment of his birth, we follow the life, or rather the lives, of Archie Ferguson, a bright Jewish boy growing up in America from the 1940s to the 1960s. However, from a similar starting point, we are given four different versions depending on varying circumstances, as events run in parallel, relationships, fortunes and loves change according to the respective life stream. Ambitious but rewarding, an exquisite panorama of the way we live and feel seen through a microscope controlled by a writer in full control of his imaginative powers, which is not a metaphor as the character shares a birth date and a profession with Auster himself. An elegy for what could have been, might have been, could still be or should be. The choice is the reader's. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
From rebel writers and outrageous occultists, to mayhem-making musicians, the exuberant individuals described herein are a heady hotchpotch of hell-raising, trailblazing outsiders, united by their links to London. As the author notes in his introduction, the city has “always been home to outsiders. To people who won't, or can't, abide by the conventions of respectable society” and, beginning with the rabble-rousing antics of Shakespeare’s unrulier contemporaries, this entertaining book takes readers on an exhilarating journey, with the Big Smoke’s most rebellious residents as tour guides. We encounter familiar flamboyant figures afresh - William Blake, Mary Shelley, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Dylan Thomas. We also meet lesser-known figures, such as the wealthy women at the heart of the Bright Young Things scene of the twenties and thirties. Later, we are thrust into the Swinging Sixties, and propelled into punk, which opened a door for London’s working class youth to make their own music and art, and thereby make something of themselves. This miscellany of miscreants comes highly recommended for anyone with an interest in London’s colourful cultural history, and for readers who are fuelled by the flames of rebellion. ~ Joanne Owen BUY DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER
December 2017 Book of the Month Sean Smith has written an engrossing book that takes you behind the public persona of George Michael and introduces you to Georgios Panayiotou, the man behind the pop star. It was with some surprise and sorrow that I learnt of the death of George Michael in 2016, it was especially poignant that it happened on Christmas day. Since I was young 'Last Christmas' had been as much a part of Christmas for me as turkey and brussel sprouts, it was always part of the playlist. I grew up listening to Wham songs and then George Michael the solo artist. Yet I didn't really know much about the man behind the music. George by Sean Smith begins by introducing us to a kind hearted, gentle boy who loved nothing more than exploring nature and hunting for bugs in the great outdoors. That is until a fall down the stairs resulting in a bang to the head changed everything and an obsession with music began. His parent's humble beginnings and their passion to create a better life for themselves and their three children gave George the determination and mindset he needed to seek his own success. He worked hard to become the superstar he undoubtingly was. From early influences such as David Cassidy and Elton John, George discovered a desire to be 'put on a pedestal and adored...' Sean Smith is a thorough and detailed biographer and the writing never feels laboured but a read that flows easily and leaves you feeling a little closer to knowing the man rather than the public persona. Passionate, intelligent and driven both personally and professionally, George Michael worked hard for his success but his compassion and desire to help people also drove him to use that success to help others and make a difference. Much has been reported of his kindness since his death but wrapped up in this package by Sean Smith it gives us a greater understanding of just what the world lost when George Michael died. George Michael was a true pop star but also a human being and George has given me a fascinating and at times incredibly moving insight into a man who is without doubt part of the soundtrack to my childhood. ~ Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
It’s the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth in 2018 and therefore time for a reappraisal of a novelist whose influence and importance are often overlooked. Alan Taylor got to know Spark very well and gives a warm, gossipy and rounded picture of a woman who didn’t take many prisoners. As a biography it has the merit of both revealing a very private woman and also reigniting interest in Muriel Spark’s work – an ideal introduction for the anniversary year. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading Curriculum Vitae: A Volume of Autobiography by Muriel Spark The Golden Fleece: Essays by Muriel Spark
If you are a fan of autobiographies, this book doesn't disappoint. Covering what historically has been one chapter of previous books on Dame Vera Lynn, this book finally offers much more detail on the events that cemented Dame Vera as The Forces Sweetheart. With fascinating insights and links to specific military events (prefect for those who enjoy their military history) as well as letters home and comments from soldiers and family who helped Dame Vera entertain the troops of Burma’s Forgotten Army. Carefully written and better by virtue of not being written with a celebrity angle. The book rewards the reader with a compelling timeline of events and brings to life a rollercoaster of challenges that awaited the young singer. For me, the element that makes this book shine is the information compiled from others, these letters and comments bring the book to life as a carefully balanced historical document wrapped up in an autobiography. This isn’t taking anything away from the Dame Vera Lynn story, just adds so much more to it! A very rewarding read.
I have a book, in similar format and subject on my own area showing excerpts from all the relevant mapping from the earliest to current times, the fascination being one of watching change happening as it does here in John Moore’s book. From the very beginnings, a tiny Glasgow steadily growing until it needs a map just to show where the sludge vessel is going to tip its load. Then, of course there are the world-famous docks, changing and developing along the banks of the Clyde. There are small towns obliterated by grandiose plans, naval maps and town plans, sewage works and ferries. It is quite startling to pass beyond some beautiful maps to a modern-day map of Strathclyde Loch which looks like a child’s drawing, thankfully that chapter is very short so we can go back and linger longer on the beauty of the mapmakers art. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading Giants of the Clyde: The Great Ships and the Great Yards by Robert Jeffrey Old Glasgow and the Clyde by Sandra Malcolm
A chance read magazine article found in a Dentist’s waiting room sets Nick Perry, his wife and 3 children off on a quest to find a home in Greece. They’d sold their Welsh farm and looked for a better way of life – and a better climate. They landed, rather by accident on Icaria, an island midway between Naxos and Samos and there began their adventure – and the need to find a living. I liked this travel adventure a great deal, the family aspect gives another dimension, their relative poverty gives it forward momentum and of course, there is beautiful Greece making this a very good read for a dull autumn day. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading Extra Virgin: Among the Olive Groves of Liguria by Annie Hawes The Olive Farm by Carole Drinkwater
The story of Ted Lewis carries historical and cultural resonances for our own troubled times. A thoroughly researched, thoroughly fascinating account of the tumultuous life of Ted Lewis, the troubled crime writer who wrote the novel on which Get Carter was based. Lewis’s life story reads like a riveting movie script, with its punch-powerful rags-to-riches-to-rags narrative. Born in 1940 in Manchester, Lewis studied at Hull College of Arts and Crafts before heading south to the Big Smoke. Here he embraced all that Swinging Sixties’ London had to offer while embarking on a career in advertising and TV. Socialising with Soho gangsters provided much stimulation and Lewis authored nine novels. While the critical and commercial success of the movie might have made his star rise, real-life resulted in tragedy, with the break-up of his marriage and early death at the age of just forty-two. The author’s knowledge of his subject is exceptional, and his unfailing respect makes for an elegant, enthralling reading experience, while Lewis’s legacy lives on through the work of contemporary crime writers. Truly a treat for noirists. Joanne Owen BUY DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER
Jeremy Vine's BBC Radio 2 show attracts millions of listeners, he is well known for his television appearances on programmes such as Eggheads and even for his moves around the dance floor on Strictly Come Dancing. He seems to thrive on interaction with people and this has made him the household name he has become today. After 14 years of radio he has now calculated that he has taken more than 25,000 calls on a never ending variety of topics. Vine is certainly a big personality, bringing out the best and worst in his listeners but with this memoir he honours them and all the others who have touched his life (for good or bad or the just plain ridiculous). Over the years his listeners have discussed everything from politics to cellophane (???) and this memoir feels like a tribute to them and a nod towards the numerous platforms available today that allows voices of all backgrounds and opinions to be heard. Fans of Vine and his Radio show will enjoy his easy, engaging writing style but even those who are not familiar will find this a fascinating, funny and at times compassionate read. ~Shelley Fallows - You can also find Shelley here.
From Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson a memoir that also shares some of the beliefs and teachings of his grandfather. Arun Gandhi believes that what his grandfather had to say about co-existence and tolerance is needed now more than ever. A deceptively simple book that has a powerful message about the level of inequality and unrest in the world today. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth by M K Ghandi The Life of Mahatma Gandhi by Louis Fischer
The second tie-in to ITV drama Victoria unveils the complex, passionate relationship of Victoria and Albert.
This follow up autobiography, tells us about the many other lives David Jason has lived - his characters. From Del Boy to Granville, Pop Larkin to Frost, he takes us behind the scenes and under the skins of some of the best loved acts of his career. And in the process he reflects on how those characters changed his life too. The result told with his characteristic charm and wit is both funny and poignant, honest and heart warming.
A writer herself, Tatiana de Rosnay understands more than most about the entwined life of an author, their duel existence as themselves and as the creator of characters who live and breathe on the page. It is a recreation of the life of a complex woman from childhood to old age giving the reader an inside view of what it is to be a writer and the process of creating works of fiction. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading Daphne Du Maurier by Margaret Forster Daphne Du Maurier and her Sisters by Jane Dunn
October 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month So good, I wanted to give both the book, and Sarah Millican a thank you hug. I will admit to almost mugging my boss to get my hands on this book. I have sat in a theatre, with this wonderful, funny woman up on the stage in front of me and grinned, chuckled, and plain roared with laughter. I opened the book and settled in for a fascinating read. I could hear her voice in my head as I devoured the pages, simply because no one else could say what she says, the tone is beautifully and unmistakably her. In my opinion Sarah Millican speaks a heck of a lot of sense, she is positive and sunny, even when describing bullying, or the more difficult side to fame. She also stands up for decency, and kindness, and is just so, so honest (particularly about poo and periods). Occasionally I felt sad, I often snorted with laughter, and once laughed so hard I cried. I wholeheartedly recommend ‘How to be Champion’, Sarah Millican is in every word, in every sentence, and it’s just fabulous! ~ Liz Robinson
Dylan Jones's engrossing, magisterial biography of David Bowie is unlike any Bowie story ever written. Including illuminating, never-before-seen material from Bowie himself, drawn from a series of Jones's interviews with him across two decades, David Bowie is an epic, unforgettable cocktail-party conversation about a man whose enigmatic shapeshifting and irrepressible creativity produced one of the most sprawling, fascinating lives of our time.
I think all of us at some time in our lives when we reach a certain age worry a little about cancer. I think the thought, “how will I react” crosses our minds occasionally. That this brave lady chooses to make her ordeal so public, she produced video diaries and tweets and now her written diary, has helped thousands. At the end of the book she encloses some messages of thanks, a few from those who didn’t make it. It is tear-jerking but it is also laced with humour. Throughout, whenever possible, she kept working, collecting the kids from school and running her hectic household with the enormous support of her wonderful partner. During the end stages of thirty sessions of chemo, she had to drive forty-odd miles round trip between work and school collection for a ten minute appointment her local hospital couldn’t do. Well she was certainly a fighter, although that is not what she calls herself. She believed talking about it really helped alleviate the fear and despair. She was diagnosed shortly after she started hosting a daily news and current affairs show for BBC2 and takes us through her fascinating work as well as the 301 days of treatment. A brave lady. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
October 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month There’s a picture in this book of Queen Victoria’s family at a garden party in 1875, a great crowd of Royalty spawned from her numerous prodigy. She became a grandmother and thought nothing of marrying of both children and grandchildren to create a spider’s web of power and influence that – as we know – had many ruinous consequences. In contrast to that 1875 portrait of stiff unknowable figures, Deborah Cadbury brings us the story of some of the players in this saga, bringing to life the real figures behind all this Pomp and Circumstance. ~ Sue Baker If you're interested in Queen Victoria and her family you might also like to read The Mystery of Princess Louise: Queen Victoria’s Rebellious Daughter by Lucinda Hawksley.
A story that involves Fergal Keane’s country, family and momentous historical events following the 1916 Irish uprising. It was a fight against the English overlords and the often violent and cruel forces used to stop the war for independence. It is one of those stories that prompts the thoughts “when will we ever learn” and how Governments can be so out of touch and pig-headed when faced with the inevitable. A history told through the eyes of witnesses and family will always be more “alive” and Wounds is a prime example of this, a humanising account of a conflict that split families and caused untold grief and pain. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading 1916: The Easter Rising by Tim Pat Coogan Tans, Terrors & Troubles: Kerry’s Fighting Story by Ryle T Dwyer
A captivatingly intimate and moving memoir by one of Britain’s finest biographers. While Tomalin remarks in her Introductory Note that “writing about myself has not been easy”, the resulting book is an incredibly smooth reading experience, and deftly weaves deeply honest personal details with astute insights into Britain’s shifting social, cultural and literary landscapes. Tomalin was born in London to a Liverpudlian music teacher and a man from the “mountains of Savoy”. While her mother’s love was unconditional, Tomalin was acutely aware of her father’s “unkindness”. Though their separation restored them both to sanity after a tumultuous marriage, the ensuing battle for custody was brutal. After this unsettling experience of childhood, Tomalin went up to Newham College, Cambridge, with great excitement. There she discovered “tremendous intellectual stimulus – an awakening, an opening of doors, fresh ways of looking at writing”, and this is clear from her account of these thrilling formative years. It was here she met her husband, the journalist Nick Tomalin, who tragically died while reporting as a young war correspondent, leaving the author to raise their four children alone, while also forging her own career as a literary editor. Further tragedy follows, but also joy and resurgence, as the author recounts her richly fascinating life with boundless emotional and intellectual lucidity. ~ Joanne Owen
This is the story of the author’s father-in-law, Carlo Contini, and her father, Alfonso, but predominantly it is Carlo’s story. Born into a large Italian family living just outside Naples, we are told of his poverty stricken but mostly happy childhood, then the horrible deprivations of the war and on into peace where Carlo joins the police special forces. He’s sent by his employers to Edinburgh to learn English. Interspersing his story is that of a Scottish based Italian community in East Lothian. While in Edinburgh Carlo meets Olivia, the daughter of an Italian delicatessen owner and they fall in love. Olivia’s brother, Vittorio, is despatched to Italy to check on Carlo’s family where we learn of some deep-buried secret but it is not revealed to Vittorio and so the wedding is able to take place. Carlo remains in Edinburgh and helps build the family business which flourishes today as Valvona and Crolla, a renowned delicatessen, restaurant and wine merchant. The warmth and charm of these Italian families radiates from the pages. The author has a light touch, neither maudlin nor sentimental which makes for a delightful book with the added bonus of a smattering of mouth-watering Italian recipes. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
Craig Brown describes his first interest in Princess Margaret as a “Where’s Wally” moment, intrigued by her presence in biography after biography. And nearly all these mentions are of bad temper, excessive drinking and smoking and rudeness giving rise to a fund of anecdotes which make good gossip – hence all those index appearances. Craig Brown brings us 99 glimpses of Princess Margaret, a gossipy, often scandalous picture of a woman he describes as a Cinderella in Reverse. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading The Duchess: The Untold Story by Penny Junor The Unfinished Palazzo: Life, Love and Art in Venice by Judith Mackrell
Tells the personal story of one political activist helping Labour progress from its 1997 landslide to the unassailable position it enjoys today. A sequel to the best-selling Things Can Only Get Better, this book is suitable for everyone who could use a good laugh after Brexit, Boris and Trump. Along the way, he stood for Parliament against Theresa May but failed to step into her shoes; he was dropped from Tony and Cherie's Christmas card list after he revealed he always sent their card on to a friend from the SWP; and he campaigned for a new non-selective inner-city state school, then realised this meant he had to send his kids to a non-selective inner-city state school.
The Quantum Astrologer's Handbook is a science book with the panache of a novel, for readers of Carlo Rovelli or Umberto Eco. It is a work of and about genius.
Both a how to do it and a go-to guide for the mathematically challenged. Knowing maths can save you money and avert disaster. It may be forms or mortgages and insurance, measurements or conversions, weights and tax – all can cause confusion at best or panic at worst, see how Hywel Carver’s guide can make the sums add up. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading How Not to be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Lives by Jordan Ellenberg Everyday Maths for Grownups: Getting to Grips with the Basics by Kjartan Poskitt
Beginning at the top of a muddy Gloucestershire slope at the Coopers Hill cheese-rolling contest and traversing a landscape of lawns and queues, coastlines and sporting arenas, Ben Fogle takes us on a journey through the peculiarly English: a country of wax jackets, cricket, boat races and jellied eels, by way of national treasures such as the shipping forecast, fish and chips and the Wellington boot. Not to mention the Dunkirk spirit of relentless optimism in the face of adversity, be it the heroic failure of Captain Scott's doomed Antarctic expedition, or simply the perennial hope for better weather. The archetypal Englishman - lover of labradors and Land Rovers yet holder of two passports - Ben applauds all things quintessentially English while also paying tribute to the history, culture and ideas adopted with such gusto that they have become part of the fabric of the country.
Consisting of essays on Princess Diana and a tribute to the author's friend Christopher Hitchens, this book features essays focusing on politics, and in particular the American election campaigns of 2012 and 2016. It also includes an essay about Donald Trump's rise to power.
The early adventures of a young David Attenborough. Written with his trademark wit and charm, Zoo Quest is not just the story of a remarkable adventure, but of the man who made us fall in love with the natural world, and who is still doing so today.
A continent by continent journey around Earth's most beautiful, spectacular, and captivating landscapes. Discover which of Earth's wonders should definitely make it onto your bucket list with this unparalleled survey of the world's incredible natural treasures. With a foreword by Chris Packham, Natural Wonders of the World is the most in-depth look at Earth's greatest wonders.
From the hosts of the legendary BBC Radio 4 programme comes this irreverent celebration of scientific marvels - a hectic leap through the grand and bizarre ideas conjured up by human imagination, from dark matter to consciousness via neutrinos and earthworms.
The new book from astronaut Tim Peake, the number one bestselling author of Hello, is this planet Earth? From training to launch, from his historic spacewalk to re-entry, he reveals for readers of all ages the cutting-edge science behind his ground-breaking experiments, and the wonders of day-to-day life on board the International Space Station.
The Second World War was a seminal event in world history. The story of its battles and key events is a familiar one, but The Second World War in 100 Objects offers a unique perspective on this global phenomenon by tracing its history through its objects, such as iconic items like the British Spitfire, the George Cross, and Adolf Hitler's personal revolver, to personal objects which tell the poignant stories of individuals and official documents, maps and orders.
The First World War was one of the seminal events in world history. The First World War in 100 Objects offers a unique perspective on the world's first truly global conflict.
A lavishly illustrated account of human journeys with a foreword by Simon Reeve, from Ancient Persian couriers to the ascent of Everest, the invention of Concorde, and the voyage into space itself. Discover biographies of conquerors, explorers, and travellers, stories of scientific discovery and technological innovation, stunning works of art, and catalogues of travel-related memorabilia. This truly worldwide account is a glorious celebration of human journeys.
I could just write something like gorgeous or sumptuous and leave it at that but perhaps I should elaborate on this paen of praise showcasing the best Railway architecture in Britain. It’s not all high Victorian, the book also includes the new – and glad I am to see we have some new architecture worthy of inclusion. And not all has been saved – think of the Euston Arch for one but there is enough here to spur thoughts of instant visits and appreciation of such gems as Glasgow and the unusual Art Deco Leamington Spa. Good linking text as ever from Simon Jenkins and I’d praise the photographer(s) too if only their names were included. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading London’s Historical Railway Stations Through Time by John Christopher Paul Atterbury’s Railway Collection by Paul Atterbury
Films – what do they know about science, what have they got right and what they have got wrong? (all that clunky computer equipment in Alien for a start). Can we teleport, grow a dinosaur or shapeshift, Doctor Michael Brooks explains it all to us and to colleague Rick Edwards. Taken from their Twitter pages they discuss science shown in films that have often delved into the science. This is the quintessential Christmas gift for lovers of science and movies based on the hit podcast, Science(ish), stylishly designed and illustrated throughout. Like for Like Reading The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence Krauss The Haynes Zombie Survival Manual by Sean T Page
October 2017 Non Fiction Book of the Month Richard Blandford shows London as represented in art from the C17 to C21, arranged by district it enables us to see the changes – to London and to artistic styles. This is best shown in the illustration of two drawings with a 400-year gap between them – Visscher’s 1616 Panorama of London and Robin Reynolds with Visscher Redrawn in 2016. This book presents a good overall view of London and its portrayal in paint, but I must ask why one of the most beautiful of London street views, George Scharf’s Monument from Crooked Lane hasn’t been included and sadly there is not one single Atkinson Grimshaw who surely deserves a place for his pictures of Hampstead and of the River. However, one of my favourite London paintings, Sir William Logsdail’s St Paul’s and Ludgate Hill graces the cover and although two personal favourites are missing I’ve found many other painters and pictures to enjoy. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading: Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth Century London by Lyndon Nead Edward Bawden’s London by Peyton Skipwith
Any historian dealing with the Vikings must firstly fight myth – those horned helmets to name but one and then there’s the sparsity of evidence from a people with so little in the way of written record. We do get a lot of sword-play and blood-lust but there are also the sharp-eyed merchants trading across the known world. But mostly it’s the swords with men fighting for dominance and allegiance. While I would have liked to know more about the lives of Viking women (about 12 pages, having checked the index) Tom Williams is very good at putting the Vikings into a historical context, looking at their legacy and the mark they made on our country. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading Vikings by Neil Oliver Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings by Peter Sawyer
We know we are in good hands when an eminent historian renowned for her non-fiction work turns her hand to fiction. Lovers of historical novels will probably have read a fair bit about Anne Boleyn and the story is well known but this author’s interpretation of the historical facts is fascinating. We start with Anne’s early teenage years in Burgundy and Paris where women’s views were respected although Anne found she was restricted and forced to do as she was told. Returning to England we learn of her sibling rivalry, manipulation and lust for power but it is six long years before she becomes queen. The author declares that Anne never loved Henry or had any interest in her daughter, which is interesting. In fact the whole sorry tale is given a fresh, lively interpretation, full of much historical colour. So however well you know the story, you are bound to enjoy this highly recommended retelling. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
Paul Hollywood has chosen over 100 recipes that mean the most to him, the ones he has perfected over the years and that sum up a baker’s life. From learning at his father’s knee to the heights of Great British Bake Off, Paul Hollywood has been striving for excellence throughout his career and now these recipes have been adapted for home bakers. An interesting and rounded collection of recipes, as you would expect, an ideal starting point for cooks wanting to learn new recipes and techniques and also to build up a core baking repertoire. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David Bread Matters: Why and How to Make Your Own Bread by Andrew Whitley
Sun, sea, Si and Dave! A celebration of the most delicious and healthy food in the world to tie in with the BBC Two prime time series, The Hairy Bikers' Mediterranean. With more of us understanding the health benefits of a Med diet, these hearty and healthy dishes are a taste of the very best holiday memories. Fresh, classic, easy and seasonal, enjoy our favourite Med recipes with the nation's favourite cooking duo!
Nigella Lawson is a champion of the home cook and her new book celebrates the food she loves to cook for friends and family.
Starting in San Francisco and Baja California, and working his way down to the southernmost tip of Mexico, the author cooks, eats and experiences Mexican food at its very best and most diverse. He covers topics ranging from seafood of the north Pacific coast, and the mole of Oaxaca, to the spices and salsas of Yucatan and Quintana Roo.
Can’t wait for it to get to that level of cold when this book will act as a comfort blanket all of its own. Another in Nigel Slater’s exceptional Diary formats it is a paen of praise to winter and its high festivals of Christmas and New Year, a cookery book yes but so much more, there is the garden, family stories, legends and the comfort of home. I love Autumn best and with my love for winter running out in late January this will be a valuable aid in extracting every last drop of winter loveliness there is to keep us going till those gorgeous first days of Spring. Heavens, you can almost smell the Christmas cake cooking as you read. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading: A Scandinavian Christmas by Trine Hahnemann Winter: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons by Melissa Harrison
Judging from the recipes this is mostly modern comfort cooking. The modern comfort eater can check the contents list for something that answers their particular craving, for something sweet or sharp, something crunchy or soft – a jolly good idea allowing the distracted cook to zone in fast on what they want. Heaven knows, there is enough bad news around now to sink anyone but there is some relief to be found in a warm and inviting kitchen cooking up John Whaite’s food designed to soothe and comfort. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading How to be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking by Nigella Lawson Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours by Diana Henry
Having made way too many impulsive purchases of kitchen equipment in my time, this would be a most welcome guide to the now huge range of “stuff” available to modern cooks. It goes from the simple for the back to basics type of cook and the eco-conscious right up to the bells and whistles type of high end equipment that would probably take your coat off for you if you asked it. A symbol to the amount of washing up involved would have been useful, as remembering my juicer it was soon back to the wooden reamer! ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading: Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson You might also like to consider the following but they are both out of print: Kitchen Things: An Album of Vintage Utensils, Richard Snodgrass (9781626360365) In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed, Carl Honore (9780752864143)
Phil Vickery has written some seriously good gluten-free cookbooks and now turns to another restricted diet – for diabetics. Given his recipes – you wouldn’t really notice it was a diet – there are cakes and there are desserts so it’s not all hair shirt for the diabetic sufferer. Together with the recipes there are suggested menu plans and full nutritional guidance with advice on weight loss and keeping healthy. There are surprisingly few stand-out cookbooks for diabetics, I think this will become the one to get. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like ReadingThe Everyday Diabetic Cookbook, Stella Bowling £10.99 Paperback 224 pages Grub Street 1st September 1995 9781898697251Diabetic Weight Loss Plan, Antony Worrall Thompson, £14.99 Paperback 144 pages Kyle Cathie 1st January 2008 9781856266444
The food, the essence and the atmosphere of Morocco summed up by John Gregory-Smith in Orange Blossom and Honey. We learn where the food comes from, how it is served and the flavours conjured up by such delicately spiced and often very simple food. It looks beautiful, provides a good “Cook’s read” and a treasure trove of new recipes to try. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading: Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons: Enchanting Dishes from the Middle East, Mediterranean & North Africa by Diana Henry Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey & Lebanon by Claudia Roden
Stir-frying – quick, easy and healthy – that ticks quite a few boxes so good to find this guide from Ching-He Huang. The how-to starter pages are excellent laying out the “rules” of stir-frying so clearly and the recipes cover a wide range with a very strong Vegetarian section. She writes with great enthusiasm and love of stir-fried food and this brings confidence in using ingredients new to many Wok beginners, a great all-round guide to using the Wok. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading: My Kitchen Table: 100 Quick Stir-Fry Recipes by Ken Hom Ching’s Fast Food: 110 Quick & Healthy Chinese Favourites by Ching-He Huang
Packed with over 650 recipes, this is the biggest ever cookbook from Britain's best-loved cookery writer that no kitchen should be without. This updated edition of Mary's million-selling cookbook is the only Mary Berry book that you need. Every delicious recipe is accompanied by beautiful photography to inspire your cooking, with an eclectic mix of traditional dishes, exotic flavours, and classic Mary Berry recipes.
There are any number of books on veg growing, usually a bit depressing as there seems so much that can go wrong but there are fewer guides on what to do when it all goes right and you have a crop and even more miraculous you have a glut. (courgettes being the worst offender). So – you need a kitchen companion, a guide to growing and some inspiration for the cooking. Here it is, Darina Allen’s invaluable kitchen companion. As a self-taught gardener – and cook I’ve found a whole new information source in Grow, Cook, Nourish, the how-to is good, the recipes are fresh and inviting and most valuable of all – shows how much of a plant you can eat – runner bean leaves and young carrot tops for example. A five star book for any cook or gardener. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading: No Dig Organic Home & Garden by Charles Dowding Grow Your Own, Eat Your Own: Making the Most of Your Garden Produce by Bob Flowerdew
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Veg Every Day has been a deserved bestseller, it’s fresh approach to increasing the plant foods in our diet has been inspiration for many. Now he strips it back to an almost totally vegan way of eating – so no dairy or refined foods which means a healthy number of gluten-free recipes as well. With ease of preparation a major influence, these are great recipes for the time-poor who want to improve their diet and veg intake. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading Leith’s Vegetable Bible by Polly Tyrer Riverford Farm Cook Book by Guy Watson & Jane Baxter
Giorgio Locatelli has another family beside his much-loved wife and children, his work family at his restaurant Locanda Locatelli and there are many recipes here cherished as traditions for their afternoon meals together alongside favourites enjoyed at home in Puglia and London. If you love Italian food, you will take to Made at Home, the reminiscences enhancing the recipes making for both enjoyment and anticipation at all those new dishes to be created. It’s good food too – it won’t involve every pan, pot and utensil you possess and you won’t be left wondering what some of the ingredients are either. The subtitle says it all – The food I cook for the people I love. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading Marcus at Home by Marcus Wareing Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Home Cooking by Gordon Ramsay
Winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2017 published by cycling specialist Raph Editions What the judges said: 'gives fresh insight into the life of trailblazer Tom Simpson, the first Briton to wear the Tour de France's yellow jersey, 50 years after his tragic death'. In the foreword to the title, Sir Bradley Wiggins said: "As a British cyclist, your identity is massively informed by him, so it goes without saying that he was instrumental in my 2012 Tour de France victory." Tom Simpson is British cycling's greatest icon. Fifty years after he conquered the continental sporting scene, he still captivates people around the world. After his dramatic death on Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France, amphetamines and alcohol were found in his system, a fact which often dwarfs his pioneering achievements. The other shortlist titles the Simpson book beat were:- The Greatest Combeack: From Genocide to Football Glory by David Bolchover (Biteback Publishing) Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig (Simon & Schuster) Quiet Genius: Bob Paisley, British Football's Greatest Manager by Ian Herbert (Bloomsbury Sport, Bloombsury) Swell: A Waterbiography by Jenny Landreth (Bloomsbury Sport, Bloomsbury) Centaur by Declan Murphy and Ami Rao (Doubleday, Transworld) Breaking Ground: Art, Archaelogy and Mythology edited by Neville Gabie, Alan Ward and Jason Wood (Axis Projects) Last year the prize was won by Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (Corsair)
Sir Matt Busby, the legendary Manchester United manager who saw the team through unprecedented glory, as well as profound tragedy, made the club the global entity it is today.
October 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month Published a few days before the start of the 3rd Invictus Games in Toronto where around 550 competitors – all “wounded warriors” will be competing. This is their story told by some of those who’ve taken part in the games. As the author Boris Starling says, Invictus is different to the Paralympic games, firstly those injured in both mind and body can take part, they have a military background and there is a greater emphasis on just being there and doing your best. It highlights just what these men and women have been through, their support - both medical and personal and what the games mean to them. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading The True Story of Great Britain’s Paralympic Heroes by Cathy Wood A Heavy Reckoning: War, Medicine and Survival in Afghanistan and Beyond by Emily Mayhew
Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2017 Quiet Genius is the story of how one modest man accomplished more than any other football manager, found his attributes largely unrecorded and undervalued and, in keeping with the gentler ways of his generation, did not seem to mind. It reveals an individual who seemed out of keeping with the brash, celebrity sport football was becoming, and who succeeded on his own terms. Three decades on from his death, it is a football story that demands to be told. William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2017 is Tom Simpson: Bird on the Wire by Andy McGrath, publsihed by cycling specialist Raph Editions Other shortlisted books for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2017 were: The Greatest Combeack: From Genocide to Football Glory by David Bolchover (Biteback Publishing) Ali: A Life by Jonathan Eig (Simon & Schuster) Quiet Genius: Bob Paisley, British Football's Greatest Manager by Ian Herbert (Bloomsbury Sport, Bloombsury) Swell: A Waterbiography by Jenny Landreth (Bloomsbury Sport, Bloomsbury) Centaur by Declan Murphy and Ami Rao (Doubleday, Transworld) Breaking Ground: Art, Archaelogy and Mythology edited by Neville Gabie, Alan Ward and Jason Wood (Axis Projects) Last year the prize was won by Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan (Corsair)
At London 2012, Nicola Adams made history. The flyweight boxer - nicknamed the smiling assassin - becamethe first ever woman to win an Olympic Gold medal for boxing. In Rio 2016, with the nation cheering her on, she did it all over again.
A title that doesn’t lie, these are really good dog photos. Containing the work of some of the best animal photographers there are naturally many different approaches to photographing dogs, many of the pictures have the “aaah” factor, many show the beauty, the fun, the work of dogs and there are some here to tug the heart-strings – particularly the portraits of dogs marooned in rescue centres. An excellent introduction to the subject featuring photographers such as Elliott Erwitt and William Wegman. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading The Dogist by Elias Weiss Friedman
Coloured by Jenny Uglow's own love for plants, and brought to life in the many vivid illustrations, this book deals not only with flowery meads, grottoes and vistas, landscapes and ha-has, parks and allotments, but tells you, for example, how the Tudors made their curious knots; how housewives used herbs to stop freckles; how the suburbs dug for victory in World War II. With a brief guide to particular historic or evocative gardens open to the public, this is a book to put in your pocket when planning a summer day out - but also to read in your deckchair with a glass of cold wine, when dead-heading is simply too much.
This is the gardening book reimagined for a new generation. A book for people who want to learn how to grow things, but haven't got a clue where to start. With the average person now spending an enormous 8 hours and 41 minutes in front of a screen every day, gardening is an easy way to escape for half an hour. Whether on a rented balcony or a sunny kitchen windowsill, it turns out growing something with your own two hands can make you feel better. Which is where HOW TO GROW comes in. Irreverent and inspiring, this book will equip you with all the know-how and confidence you need to take your first steps into a lifelong gardening love affair - trowel in one hand, drink in the other.
The perfect companion for any potter, or lover of pottery out there. As a novice potter myself, and fan of the TV series The Great Pottery Throw Down, I plucked, well actually I snatched, this book up as soon as it appeared on my desk. The outside subtly beckons you in, then dynamic vivid pictures and illustrations encourage your eyes to absorb the beauty as you read the accompanying text. You can either settle yourself down for a good read, or dip in and out, picking up slices of pottery history from as far back as 25,000BC, or discover how to throw off the hump, or learn more about some of your favourite artists. Liz Wilhide and Susie Hodge have created a beautifully balanced book, from beginner, to novice, to expert, there is something in here to appeal to all. I admire potters, their patience, skill, commitment, and energy… pottery can be a risky business, at any stage of the process it could go disastrously wrong, or it could become something to love, to treasure. ‘The Great Pottery Throw Down’ celebrates the unpredictability, the history, the usefulness, and the tactile and visual beauty of pottery. ~ Liz Robinson
A special hardback 10th anniversary edition of the first in Cassandra Clare's internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series about the Shadowhunters. A thrilling urban fantasy of vampires, warlocks and shapeshifters that fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will love to get their teeth into. Clary is your typical girl next door character that everyone wants to like and with whom young teenage girls in particular will instantly relate. Until her mother's disappearance life is very ordinary and normal but then everything changes. The author's descriptions of an alternate, parallel world are so cleverly drawn that you feel right there within the story. We haven't read such a brilliant mixture of razor-sharp wit and humour and spine tingling fear but above all a terrific page-turning read that will have you saying just one more page, then one more chapter and suddenly you've finished it, for quite a while.
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 A feast of feel-good funniness and feminism that cleverly contrasts the impossible magic of movie romance with the heady complexities of real-life love. Talented actress Audrey (named after Hepburn) has just started working in an indie cinema where she begrudgingly serves gourmet hotdogs to the well-heeled inhabitants of Bridgely-upon-Thames alongside zombie-movie-maker and “player” Harry. When set a Critical Research project by her media studies teacher, Audrey decides to write about “why love is never like the movies”, and boy does she know about the devastating disappointments of real-life love, what with her mum seeking solace in alcohol as a result of her dad starting a new family with someone else, and her own experience with an ex who dumped her a week after she lost her virginity to him. No wonder, then, that Audrey’s left wondering what the point of love is, and the project excerpts that appear as chapter intros wittily expound her views. But this hard-held conviction is put to the test when Audrey agrees to play a “feminist freedom fighter zombie bride” in Harry’s new movie, and finds that she might just be falling for him. Tackling complex issues around relationships, sex, alcoholism and movie cliché madness with a nimble lightness of touch, this is contemporary YA at it’s finest: hilarious, heartfelt, and wholly recommended.
Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2018 | Shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards 2017, Costa Children's Book Award |In a Nutshell: Death row injustice | Undying brotherly love A book to break your heart, quicken your blood and stir your soul by one of the most outstandingly distinctive writers to have emerged in a long, long time. New Yorker Joe Moon was only seven when he took the call in which his big brother Ed told him he'd been arrested because “they think I done something real bad”. That “something” led to Ed winding up on death row, convicted of murdering a cop, though he insists he’s innocent. Ten years later, now Ed’s execution date has been set, Joe travels to Texas to say goodbye. The sublimely-formed structure slips between present and past, recounting the brothers’ troubled upbringing - how their Mom took off; how Aunt Karen took control and decided that Bible study and never mentioning Ed again was the only route to their salvation. While she insists that there’s no point wasting life or money helping someone who wasn’t sorry, Joe sees things differently. “He's my brother,” and that’s really all that matters. He has to see him. Lawyer Al, who’s taken on Ed’s case for free, offers some hope, but time is running out. “It's better to be guilty and rich, I reckon,” Joe remarks, as he experiences the excruciating injustices of a legal system in which the harshness of a sentence depends on where a crime takes place, who the victim was, and who you can afford to pay to represent you (crucially, Ed had no representation when he was first arrested). Once again, Crossan's free verse form is breathtakingly powerful - always the right word, in the right place, at the right time. Yes, this is harrowing and heartbreaking, but the kindness of the strangers Joe meets in Texas is achingly uplifting, as is the deep bond of love between Joe and Ed. This really is a magnificent feat of writing. ~ Joanne Owen The Costa Judges say: ‘An exceptional, compelling book for our time – its analysis is devastating but its message is hope.’
Set on a space station in the near future, this cool concept sci-fi novel with a powerful finding-your-way-in-the-world theme also has much for fans of contemporary YA. Fifteen-year-old Leo was born and raised on Moon 2 Space Station and has never set foot on earth. After being remotely parented by a team of astronauts, Leo and his companions, twins Orion and Libra, have finally been deemed strong enough to survive the perilous journey to earth. But, while they’ve been in training for this for pretty much their whole lives, reality is a very different matter. To return and survive means defying some serious odds, and finding a place to call home is anything but straightforward.This is a thought-provoking thriller, fuelled by the suspenseful space journey, and by Leo’s emotional journey. He has a unique voice, and speaks in the shortened text-type language that’s used for NASA communications. But, more than that, Leo feels like a living, breathing young adult, trying to figure out his sexuality, and his place in the world. With this foray into sci-fi, author Nick Lake confirms his status as a writer with immensely diverse talents. ~ Joanne Owen
September 2017 Book of the Month | In a Nutshell: Stellar story of survival in outer space A uniquely thought-provoking, space-set page-turner with an unforgettable main character whose strength and resolve will leave readers reeling in admiration. Romy is alone in space, decades from Earth. She’s the sole survivor aboard The Infinity, a spacecraft whose crew had been tasked with the mission of establishing “the new home of humanity on Earth II”. After losing her parents at the age of eleven, she’s had to come to terms with being entirely alone. “I just got on with it”, she states, revealing her characteristic, awe-inspiring strength. Then news comes from NASA that another ship has launched and the programme will be pushed forward by over twenty years. Romy is ecstatic that she’ll have company again. This is intensified when she and J, the young Commander of the new ship, start communicating and strike up a close bond, as troubling news comes from Earth. Romy’s experience of falling for J is dazzlingly evoked - every skip of her heart, every frisson of passion - as she imagines them as the Adam and Eve of Earth II. The novel’s darker strands are powerfully done too. Romy is haunted by the traumatic events that forced her into solitude, then there’s the succession of shocking revelations that explode when she begins to question J. To say the twists are unexpected is an understatement. This is one of those rare reads that defies classification. Smart sci-fi; gripping thriller; coming-of-age epic - it’s all this and more. ~ Joanne Owen
Wonderfully chilling, this is another thrilling treat from E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars. Two girls, in an intense relationship are both looking for escape but at what cost? When one disappears events suddenly become darker and we fall into a world of murder, fraud and villainy as identities are blurred and friendships crossed. There's a fine line between superhero and supervillain when someone needs to save herself.Lockhart's writing is edgy, fast paced and keeps you guessing until the end. Creepy, provocative and daring the protagonists (Jule and Imogen) continually leave you with a sense of unease as they draw you in not knowing what to believe and where the novel will take you next. We're looking in from the outside but Lockhart only lets you see what she wants you to before shocking you over and over with the sudden twists in events. Brilliant as always, E. Lockhart continues to enthrall with this, her latest thought provoking novel. ~ Shelley Fallows
Six deliciously romantic short stories, only two of which have been published before but in digital form. They are all of a healthy length with a beginning, middle and end, none leave you in the lurch but one, A Dream Christmas, has supernatural undertones which are unexplained and beautifully handled, I loved it. I think Katie’s favourite is Dogs are for Christmas which stars two bouncey, unruly canine creatures bound to capture anyone’s heart. The collection also features a 16-page extract from her new book A Country Escape coming on 22 February 2018 where a disillusioned London girl goes off to run her aunt’s farm specialising in rare cattle, dairy shorthorns. It sounds delightful. As the publishers stress this is indeed a lovely Christmas gift for Katie’s fans or anyone wanting a happy-ever-after feel-good read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
My mother is not a foodie. But for as long as I can remember, once a year, she becomes possessed of a profound and desperate need to serve up a perfect roast turkey. Faced with a walk into the village though, she might think 'oh, f*** it' and decide to get a frozen one from Bejams on the 23rd and leave it to defrost in the downstairs toilet for not quite 48 hours.
The ideal stocking filler for anyone looking for some good, clean, grisly fun this Christmas. Wryly amusing and gruesomely fascinating, this smart science-based stocking filler provides technical answers to many of the questions curious kids like to issue at adults, and many an adult wonders about. Positing “What would happen if…” as its driving pivot, the book explores all manner of unusual ways to meet one’s demise in deadpan detail. Many of the questions tap into commonly-held fears: what would happen if your plane window popped out? If you were buried alive? If you were struck by lightning? Others are ingeniously absurd: what would happen if buzzards raised you? If you ate as many cookies as the cookie monster? If you toured the Pringles factory and fell off the catwalk? If you actually lost your head? Encompassing the disciplines of anatomy, physics, geology and astronomy, the authors’ answers are funnily thorough, and funny full-stop. Joanne Owen
In any Enid Blyton book you can guarantee that at some point there’ll be a lip-smacking description of food. Allega McEvedy takes inspiration from Blyton’s best-loved stories to create recipes for every time of the day: starting with breakfasts that would be enjoyed by the Naughtiest Girl in the School, her book then lists elevenses for the Secret Seven, Famous Five inspired picnics (yes of course ginger beer is included), teatime treats from the Faraway Tree, Secret Island suppers and Malory Towers midnight feasts – heaven! The recipes are excellent and each section begins with an extract from the relevant book. Jolly illustrations by Mark Beech make it even more child friendly. ~ Andrea Reece
Hmm (bug)… does the world really need another Christmas-themed stocking filler book? Surely the genre is as dead as Old Marley, doornail and all, with nothing new to say, no fresh, funny takes to be made. Well, actually, this stylishly illustrated tome does have more to say. In fact, it offers a veritable forest of sharply spruced-up observations on everything from disappointing gifts (“14-year-olds do not want two-foot wide peg looms for Christmas”), to the entirely unsuitable sleeping arrangements Britons typically endure after driving home for Christmas (the out-dated spare rooms stuffed with “several hundredweight of car-boot sale fodder”, and nights spent on “rapidly deflating airbeds, barely the width of the average human body”). The first-person anecdotes are an absolute joy; often cringe-inducingly hilarious, and sometimes moving. Indeed, alongside the excellent observational humour, astute points are made about the likes of rampant consumerism and seasonal depression: Christmas “acts as a kind of emotional multiplier. If things are good, they feel glorious; if things are bad, they feel dreadful”. This cracker of a book (not sorry) will have recipients ho-ho-ho-ing around the Christmas tree, and keep them entertained long after the last pesky pine needles have been vacuumed up. ~ Joanne Owen
Are you a genius? Put your knowledge to the test - and learn to think and talk like a genius.
Think you've got what it takes to pit your wits against some of the brightest brains in Britain? Now you can take on the challenge with this ultimate quiz containing 2000 questions from the Brain of Britain archives.
What if there's a hidden dimension to Donald Trump; a sensitive, poetic side? Driven by this question, Rob Sears began combing Trump's words for signs of poetry.What he found was a revelation. By simply taking the 45th President of the United States' tweets and transcripts, cutting them up and reordering them, Sears unearthed a trove of beautiful verse that was just waiting to be discovered.
A humorous gift book: collection of oxymorons, amusingly illustrated by Paul Thomas. As we all know, the oxymoron is one of the great beauties of the English language. It has been defined as 'a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory'. Famous examples would include 'bitter-sweet', 'open secret' and 'compassionate Conservatism'.
This is Dawn French's fabulous new non-fiction book for 2017, and it's totally interactive: take a lovely ramble through the year together with Dawn. Think of it as Dawn's diary, personalized by you ... perfection.
Cats have the answers; we humans only have to watch – and learn. Life lessons in friendship, courage and responsibility or discovering how to improve your appearance and surroundings – Neil Somerville reminds us of what there is to learn…. I see he is not encouraging us to take up curtain climbing and the similar bad habits I could learn from my cats so we are talking ideal cats here, the ones who have had some training in mindfulness. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading How it Works: The Ladybird Book of the Cat by Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris One Hundred Secret Thoughts Cats Have about Humans by Celia Haddon
A distillation of prescriptions given – and taken – on William Sieghart’s online Poetry Pharmacy. No harm to be got from these prescriptions, instead there is comfort, love, advice and experience aplenty. I was immediately taken by the poems of Hafiz, a C14 Persian poet, short sublime poems, had to google to find more so a poets index would have been useful. As anthologies such as this are useful springboards, short author biographies would too have been welcomed. Overall though, a calming collection of words for troubled souls and lovely to have a cloth bound book to treasure. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading: Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times by Neil Astley The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin
A fun present for cat lovers everywhere: a light-hearted self-help guide to help you live more like your cat. Stephane Garnier will show you what he's learned over fifteen years of closely observing his cat, and teach you all the ways in which you too can apply the secrets of cats to your own life - at work, at home and with your friends. Unplug your laptop. Throw away your alarm clock. It's time to live like your cat!
A treat for Harry Hill fans! Britain's favourite comedian, Harry Hill, loves jokes so much that he has put together a side-splitting joke book for all the family. Containing Harry's favourite jokes picked from the world's joke archive, it also features jokes written by Harry, including some brand-new ones written specially for this book.Warning: now even funnier! Contains new section of hilarious readers' jokes'
Books make perfect gifts anytime of year but for book lovers Christmas is a special time as you can indulge (or be indulged) in the luxury of a hardback.
So, with that in mind we have put together a collection of what we think are this season’s best books to suit every taste put into easy to use sub-categories.
So, browse for gifts or browse for yourself and send the page link to a friend to make sure the only turkeys you get this Christmas are on the table!
If you're still stuck then our most visited area of the site is a must for you to look at - Prizewinners - it's positively choking with stunning reads.
For some other wonderful gift ideas why not visit the following...
Or to see what everyone else is reading visit The UK's Top 10 to see the most popular books in the UK.
Finally any teenage book hound should not miss our newgen and section - full of books any teenager would be happy to be seen reading...