booksmonthly book blog  october 2018

 

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Welcome to the October Blog from Books Monthly - a selection of this month's very best published Books, including four true Blockbusters and a Childhood Classic - click on the Images down the left hand Column to go straight to the relevant Book. And on the Other books this Month page you'll find the Cover Images for some of the other Books that have come my way during the past Month. Do please let me know what you think by email at paulenorman1@gmail.com

 

  Bernard Cornwell: War of the Wolf

  Published by Harper Collins 4th October 2018

At the fortress of the eagles, three kings will fight… Uhtred of Bebbanburg has won back his ancestral home but, threatened from all sides by enemies both old and new, he doesn’t have long to enjoy the victory. In Mercia, rebellion is in the air as King Edward tries to seize control. In Wessex, rival parties scramble to settle on the identity of the next king. And across the country invading Norsemen continue their relentless incursion, ever hungry for land. Uhtred – a legendary warrior, admired and sought as an ally, feared as an adversary – finds himself once again torn between his two heritages: fighting on what he considers the wrong side, cursed by misfortune and tragedy and facing one of his most formidable enemies. Only the most astute cunning, the greatest loyalty and the most spectacular courage can save him. For decades, Uhtred has stood at the intersection between Pagan and Christian, between Saxon and Viking, between the old world he was born into and the new world being forged around him. But as the winds of change gather pace, the pressure on Uhtred as father, as politician and as warrior grows as never before.

 

This is the eleventh book in Bernard Cornwell's Lost Kingdom series, and in my opinion, it is utterly faultless. The characters have had their life breathed into them by an author whose skills at historical story-telling are second to none. Reading a story like this is equally as good as watching a blockbuster film, only in the comfort of your own sitting room. This is a work of fiction based on fact by a giant of 21st century historical fiction. Pure, savage enjoyment. This is what books were intended for.

 

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 Robert Galbraith: Lethal White

  Published by Sphere 18th September 2018

'I seen a kid killed . . . He strangled it, up by the horse.' When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike's office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic. Trying to get to the bottom of Billy's story, Strike and Robin Ellacott - once his assistant, now a partner in the agency - set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside. And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike's own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been - Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much more tricky than that . . . The most epic Robert Galbraith novel yet, LETHAL WHITE is both a gripping mystery and a page-turning next instalment in the ongoing story of Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott.

 

This is the fourth of the Cormoran Strike novels, and it is a blockbuster in every sense of the word. It's certainly the longest in the series so far, the interplay between Strike and Robin is exquisitely painful, because every sense of you wants the to be together. The other main interplay, that between Robin and new husband Matthew Cunliffe is supreely enjoyable, and you want their relationship to get more and more strained as time goes on. In the midst of all this, there's a ministerial intrigue going on, and it's set during the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics. There are activists, and mysteries from long ago that seem to have suddenly caused the minister for culture to be blackmailed, and there are a series of superb characters to enjoy. This is a novel from an author at the top of their game, cramed with confidence and a string contender for crime novel of the year, if not the decade. For me, there's just Stuart MacBride standing in the way of that accolade, but it is enormous, and it is enormously enjoyable page by page. My copy arrived a couple of days ago, I shelved my re-read Stuart's Blood Road and I've read about 200 pages of the 650. I was hooked from page one, which carried on immediately after Career of Evil left off, at Robin and Matt's wedding. Superlative writing from a writer who can seemingly do nothing wrong.

 

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 Ann Cleeves: Wild Fire

  Published by Pan Macmillan 6th September 2018

Wild Fire is the eighth, and final book, in Ann Cleeves’ bestselling Shetland series – a major BBC One drama starring Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez.
Shetland: Welcoming. Wild. Remote. Drawn in by the reputation of the islands, an English family move to the area, eager to give their autistic son a better life. But when a young nanny’s body is found hanging in the barn of their home, rumours of her affair with the husband begin to spread like wild fire. With suspicion raining down on the family, DI Jimmy Perez is called in to investigate, knowing that it will mean the return to the islands of his on-off lover and boss Willow Reeves, who will run the case. Perez is facing the most disturbing investigation of his career. Is he ready for what is to come?

 

This is the last in Ann's Shetland series, sadly. There is some consolation in the knowledge that the BBC TV series will continue, with the superlative Douglas Henshall playing the part of Jimmy Perez; it's no problem for me that the timelines between the books and the TV series have become blurred - Jimmy's adopted daughter by his murdered wife is just reaching her teens, whilst in the TV series she has left home and gone to uni. Also that TV Jimmy doesn't resemble physically the Jimmy in the books. The fact is that this is one of the finest series of detective fiction written during this century. I'm not going to reveal what happens in the book, just to say that Ann is in scintillating top form and the book is hugely enjoyable and a fitting end to a gripping series.

 

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 Lynda La Plante: Murder Mile

  Published by Zaffre 23rd August 2018

Prime Suspect meets Ashes to Ashes as we see Jane Tennison starting out on her police career . . .

The fourth in the Sunday Times bestselling Jane Tennison thrillers, MURDER MILE is set at the height of the 'Winter of Discontent'. Can Jane Tennison uncover a serial killer? 

February, 1979, 'The Winter of Discontent'. Economic chaos has led to widespread strikes across Britain.

Jane Tennison, now a Detective Sergeant, has been posted to Peckham CID, one of London's toughest areas. As the rubbish on the streets begins to pile up, so does the murder count: two bodies in as many days. 

There are no suspects and the manner of death is different in each case. The only link between the two victims is the location of the bodies, found within a short distance of each other near Rye Lane in Peckham. Three days later another murder occurs in the same area. Press headlines scream that a serial killer is loose on 'Murder Mile' and that police incompetence is hampering the investigation.

Jane is under immense pressure to catch the killer before they strike again.Working long hours with little sleep, what she uncovers leaves her doubting her own mind.

 

The fourth young Jane Tennison novel sees Jane growing in confidence but still fighting to make her way in a male-dominated world of police detectives. The plot is typical Lynda La Plante, that is to say that it is a complex and fascinating multiple murder enquiry that is ultimately solved by solid police work especially on the part of young Jane. Lynda's grip on reality never lessens, and the character pool is realistic and believable, with police procedural matters always at their most satisfying and entertaining. The denoument is especially gripping.

 

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 Joyce Lankester Brisley: Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories

  Published by Macmillan Children's Books 6th October 2018

The enchanting and classic adventures of a little country girl.

The Milly-Molly-Mandy stories are perfect for reading aloud. They have been loved and shared for over 80 years with their timeless sense of fun and beautiful detail. Milly-Molly-Mandy lives in a tiny village in the heart of the countryside. She is always busy doing things, and whether she is earning money to give a party, minding the village shop, having a picnic or going sledging, you're sure to have fun when Milly-Molly-Mandy's around! The adventures of this lively little girl and her chums little-friend-Susan and Billy Blunt first appeared over eighty years ago and they have been delighting children ever since. 'Simple, satisfying stories' - Shirley Hughes. Joyce Lankester Brisley (1896 - 1978) wrote and drew books from an early age; she had her first fairy story published in a children's paper at the age of thirteen. She studied at art school and, when she was twenty, had pictures hung in the Royal Academy. However, she enjoyed writing and illustrating stories best, and the Milly-Molly-Mandy series deservedly became her most well-loved and famous creation.

 

When I was at primary school back in 1951-2, we regularly had story time at the end of the school day, and I remember that for a while, the two choices were Rudyard Kipling's Just-so stories, or Milly-Molly-Mandy stories. Much as I liked the Just-so stories, I always put my hand up for Milly-Molly-Mandy stories because I could relate to them more readily - the Indian jungle was remote, far away, more of a fantasy, and at the time I was into things like Just William and Milly-Molly-Mandy. First published in 1928, this year marks the 90th anniversary of M-M-M and Macmillan have released this stunning celebratory edition of the first thirteen stories, lavishly illustrated by the author (whose sister Nina Brisley was the first person to illustrate the Chalet School Stories of Elinor Brent-Dyer). Knowing that I now have to hand the stories that helped to form my childhood and my perennial love of brilliant children's literature has produced an enormously pleasurable feeling. I loved the stories then, read by my favourite teacher, Miss Page, and I'm now loving them all over again.

 

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  Mur Lafferty: Solo - A Star Wars Story

  Published by Century 6th September 2018

This thrilling adaptation of Solo: A Star Wars Story expands on the film to include scenes from alternate versions of the script and other additional content, giving deeper insights into Han Solo’s years in the Imperial Navy, Qi’ra’s past, and the beginnings of the rebellion.

Though Han Solo has thrilled Star Wars fans for decades, the notorious wisecracking scoundrel was chasing adventure and dodging trouble long before he walked into the cantina at Mos Eisley spaceport.

Young Han dreams of someday soaring into space at the helm of his own starship and leaving his home, the gritty industrial planet Corellia, far behind. But as long as he’s trapped in a life of poverty and crime―and under the thumb of the sinister Lady Proxima and her brutal street gang―reaching the distant stars seems impossible. When Han tries to escape with his girlfriend and partner-in-crime, Qi’ra, he makes it out―but she doesn’t. Desperate for a way to find his own offworld vessel and free her, Han enlists in the Imperial Navy―the last place for a rebellious loner who doesn’t play well with others.

When the Empire clips his wings, Han goes rogue and plunges into the shady world of smugglers, gamblers, and con artists. There he meets the charming and cunning high roller Lando Calrissian, makes an unlikely friend in a cantankerous Wookiee called Chewbacca, and first lays eyes on the Millennium Falcon. To snag his piece of the outlaw pie, Han joins a crew of pirates to pull off a risky heist. The stakes are high, the danger is great, and the odds are slim. But never tell Han Solo the odds.

 

Rip-roaring "space cowboy" entertainment from a young lady who has a compelling and utterly brilliant handle on the Star Wars universe. Absolutely superb. The DVD is out now...

 

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 Dacre Stoker & J D Barker: Dracul

  Published by Banta Press 18th October 2018

It is 1868, and a 22-year-old Bram Stoker has locked himself inside an abbey's tower to face off against a vile and ungodly beast. He is armed with mirrors and crucifixes and holy water and a gun - and is kept company by a bottle of plum brandy. His fervent prayer is that he will survive this one night - a night that will prove to be the longest of his life. Desperate to leave a record of what he has witnessed, the young man scribbles out the events that brought him to this point - and tells an extraordinary tale of childhood illness, a mysterious nanny, and stories once thought to be fables now proven true. 
A riveting, heart-stoppingly scary novel of Gothic suspense, Dracul reveals not only the true origins of Dracula himself, but also of his creator, Bram Stoker . . . and of the elusive, enigmatic woman who connects them.

 

This is a fascinating background read to Dracula, which reains one of the finest of all the gothic horror novels ever written, and one which ultimately inspired the greatest horror writer of the all - Stephen King. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

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 Lucy Clarke: You Let Me In

  Published by Harper Collins 6th September 2018

Nothing has felt right since Elle rented out her house . . . I’M IN YOUR HOUSE. There’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows. I’M IN YOUR HEAD. Maybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night. AND NOW I KNOW YOUR SECRET. As fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key…

 

This is one of those books that pretty soon gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. Creepy and thrilling at the same time... very enjoyable indeed!

 

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 Cass Green: Don't You Cry

  Published by Harper Collins 6th September 2018

One stolen baby. Two desperate strangers. One night of terror. The USA Today and Sunday Times top ten bestselling author returns with a dark and twisty psychological thriller. She saved your life. When Nina almost dies during a disastrous blind date, her life is saved by a waitress called Angel. But later that evening, Nina is surprised by a knock on the door. It’s Angel – and she’s pointing a gun at her. Now she’ll make you pay. Minutes later, Angel’s younger brother Lucas turns up, covered in blood shielding a stolen newborn baby in his arms. Nina is about to endure the longest night of her life – a night that will be filled with terror and lead her to take risks she would never have believed herself capable of…

 

This is not just a thriller involving an abducted child - there is far, far more to it than that, and Cass Green is on stunning top form as she winds up the tension to breaking point...

 

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  Mike Warren: Cut In Half

Published by Chronicle Books 4th September 2018

 

What exactly is inside a laptop, a golf ball, a vacuum cleaner, or a novelty singing fish toy? The insides of these and dozens of other objects are revealed in this photographic exploration of the stuff all around us, exposed and explained. With the help of a high-pressure waterjet cutter able to slice through 4 inches of steel plate, designer and fabricator Mike Warren (creator of the popular Cut in Half YouTube channel) cuts into everything from boom boxes to boxing gloves, oil filters to seashells, describing and demystifying the inner workings and materials of each. With a cleverly die-cut case and gorgeously detailed photography, Cut in Half is a fascinating and accessible popular science look at the extraordinary in the everyday.

 

A good idea, but not very well executed... the photoslook like they were taken back in the early days of photography.

 

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  Michael Newton (Ed.): Victorian Fairy Tales

Published by Oxford World's Classics 27th September 2018

 

The Victorian fascination with fairyland vivified the literature of the period, and led to some of the most imaginative fairy tales ever written. They offer the shortest path to the age's dreams, desires, and wishes. Authors central to the nineteenth-century canon such as W. M. Thackeray, Oscar Wilde, Ford Madox Ford, and Rudyard Kipling wrote fairy tales, and authors primarily famous for their work in the genre include George MacDonald, Juliana Ewing, Mary De Morgan, and Andrew Lang. This anthology brings together fourteen of the best stories, by these and other outstanding practitioners, to show the vibrancy and variety of the form and its abilities to reflect our deepest concerns. 

In tales of whimsy and romance, witty satire and uncanny mystery, love, suffering, family, and the travails of identity are imaginatively explored. Michael Newton's Introduction and notes provide illuminating contextual and biographical information about the authors and the development of the literary fairy tale. A selection of original illustrations is also included.

 

A handsome volume containing some spectacularly good fairy stories.

 

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  Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol & Other Stories

Published by Oxford World's Classics 27th September 2018

 

'What was merry Christmas to Scrooge? Out upon merry Christmas! What good had it ever done to him?'

Ebenezer Scrooge is a bad-tempered skinflint who hates Christmas and all it stands for, but a ghostly visitor foretells three apparitions who will thaw Scrooge's frozen heart. A Christmas Carol has gripped the public imagination since it was first published in 1843, and it is now as much a part of Christmas as mistletoe or plum pudding. This edition reprints the story alongside Dickens's four other Christmas Books: The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man. All five stories show Dickens at his unpredictable best, jumbling together comedy and melodrama, genial romance and urgent social satire, in pursuit of his aim 'to awaken some loving and forbearing thoughts, never out of season in a Christian land'.

 

Another brilliant edition of the timeless classic - just not enough illustrations...

 

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  Chris Riddell: Goth Girl and the Sinister Symphony

Published by Macmillan Children's Books 20th September 2018

There are musical goings-on at Ghastly-Gorm Hall and another spooky mystery for Ada Goth to solve in Goth Girl and the Sinister Symphony, the fourth book in the Goth Girl series by Chris Riddell, Children's Laureate 2015-2017. Lord Goth is throwing a music festival at Ghastly-Gorm Hall, with performances from the finest composers in the land. Ada can't wait, but it's quite distracting when her grandmother is trying to find her father a fashionable new wife, there's a faun living in her wardrobe and Maltravers is up to his old tricks. Ada must make sure everything goes to plan, and luckily help is at hand from a very interesting house guest . . .

 

The latest in Chris's superb Goth Girl series - the illustrations are out of this world and the story is simply enthralling!

 

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 Anna James: Pages & Co. - Tilly and the Bookwanderers

Published by Harper Collins Children's Books 18th September 2018

 

A captivating, curl-up-on-the-sofa debut about the magic of books and the power of the imagination. Since her mother’s disappearance, eleven-year-old Tilly has found comfort in stories at Pages & Co., her grandparents’ bookshop. But when her favourite characters, Anne of Green Gables and Alice from Wonderland, appear in the shop, Tilly’s adventures become very real. Not only can she follow Anne and Alice into their thrilling worlds, she discovers she can bookwander into any story she chooses. Tilly’s new ability could even help her solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago. But danger may be lurking on the very next page…

 

Any book that celebrates the sheer joy of books is OK by me. This is a superb tale of a young girl whose favourite story characters come to life - terrific entertainment.

 

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  Darryl Jones: Sleeping With the Lights On

Published by OUP 11th October 2018

 

Four o'clock in the morning, and the lights are on and still there's no way we're going to sleep, not after the film we just saw. The book we just read. Fear is one of the most primal human emotions, and one of the hardest to reason with and dispel. So why do we scare ourselves? It seems almost mad that we would frighten ourselves for fun, and yet there are thousands of books, films, games, and other forms of entertainment designed to do exactly that. 

As Darryl Jones shows, the horror genre is huge. Ranging from vampires, ghosts, and werewolves to mad scientists, Satanists, and deranged serial killers, the cathartic release of scaring ourselves has made its appearance in everything from Shakespearean tragedies to internet memes. Exploring the key tropes of the genre, including its monsters, its psychological chills, and its love affair with the macabre, Darryl Jones discusses why horror stories disturb us, and how society responds to literary and film representations of the gruesome and taboo. Should the enjoyment of horror be regarded with suspicion? Are there different levels of the horrific, and should we distinguish between the commonly reviled carnage of contemporary torture porn and the culturally acceptable bloodbaths of ancient Greek tragedies? 

Analysing the way in which horror manifests multiple personalities, and has been used throughout history to articulate the fears and taboos of the current generation, Jones considers the continuing evolution of the genre today. As horror is mass marketed to mainstream society in the form of romantic vampires and blockbuster hits, it also continues to maintain its former shadowy presence on the edges of respectability, as banned films and violent internet phenomena push us to question both our own preconceptions and the terrifying capacity of human nature.

 

A terrific examination of horror in all its incarnations - literature, movies etc., but I was hoping for more illustrations and that the book itself would be a better size, rather than something you can fit in your jacket pocket...

 

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  Jamie Smith: Frostfire

Published by Chicken House 1st November 2019

 

Chosen for the honour of bonding with a frostsliver - a fragment of the sentient glacier that crests her icy home - Sabira embarks on the dangerous pilgrimage to the top of the mountain. But when a huge avalanche traps her on the glacier and destroys the pass, Sabira is determined to find another way home. In order to survive, she must face up to the merciless mountain - but there are dark and fiery secrets hiding in its depths ...

 

A superb teen fantasy...

 

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  Hugh Fraser: Stealth

Published by Urbane 4th October 2019

 

When a step out of line means a fight to the death... London 1967. A working girl is brutally murdered in a Soho club. Rina Walker takes out the killer and attracts the attention of a sinister line-up of gangland enforcers with a great deal to prove. When a member of British Military Intelligence becomes aware of her failure to fulfill a contract issued by an inmate of Broadmoor, he forces her into the deadly arena of the Cold War, with orders to kill an enemy agent. Rina needs to call upon all her dark skills, not simply to survive, but to protect the ones she loves.

 

Echoes the real life scandals and thrills of the Profumo affair. Gripping and filled with tension.

 

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  Jan Eldredge: Witch Girl

Published by Scholastic 4th October 2019

 

Goth Girl meets Ghostbusters in this read-in-one-sitting mystery adventure with the perfect spine-tingling balance of fun and scares! Evangeline Clement spends her days learning the ways of magic from her witch grandmother. When they are called to a creepy old mansion to solve an unusual case, Evangeline encounters an enemy unlike any of the terrifying monsters she has faced before. and a secret about her own family that will shake her to the tips of her silver-toed boots. Beware! This is a story to read with the lights on.

 

Witches seem to be making a comeback in children's literature - this one's a complete blast!

 

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  Bianca Pitzorno: The Littlest Witch

Published by Catnip 20th September 2019

 

When the revolting Asdrubale Trinnanzi's Great-Uncle Sempronio dies, he's convinced that he's finally going to inherit his millions. His great-uncle does indeed leave all his money to him, but on one condition: the Asdrubale finds a witch, woos her and weds her. There's a deadline attached: if Asdrubale doesn't succeed in doing so within a year and a month of his uncle's death, the fortune will go instead to someone else.

 

Another witch tale, this time translated from the original Italian. Great fun!

 

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  Keith Ray and Julian Thomas: Neolithic Britain

Published by OUP 20th September 2019

 

The Neolithic in Britain was a period of fundamental change: human communities were transformed, collectively owning domesticated plants and animals, and inhabiting a richer world of material things: timber houses and halls, pottery vessels, polished flint and stone axes, and massive monuments of earth and stone. Equally important was the development of a suite of new social practices, and an emphasis on descent, continuity and inheritance. These innovations set in train social processes that culminated with the construction of Stonehenge, the most remarkable surviving structure from prehistoric Europe. 

Neolithic Britain provides an up to date, concise introduction to the period of British prehistory from c. 4000-2200 BCE. Written on the basis of a new appreciation of the chronology of the period, the result reflects both on the way that archaeologists write narratives of the Neolithic, and how Neolithic people constructed histories of their own. Incorporating new insights from the extraordinary pace of archaeological discoveries in recent years, a world emerges which is unfamiliar, complex and challenging, and yet played a decisive role in forging the landscape of contemporary Britain. 

Important recent developments have resulted in a dual realisation: firstly, highly focused research into individual site chronologies can indicate precise and particular time narratives; and secondly, this new awareness of time implies original insights about the fabric of Neolithic society, embracing matters of inheritance, kinship and social ties, and the 'descent' of cultural practices. 

Moreover, our understanding of Neolithic society has been radically affected by individual discoveries and investigative projects, whether in the Stonehenge area, on mainland Orkney, or in less well-known localities across the British Isles. The new perspective provided in this volume stems from a greater awareness of the ways in which unfolding events and transformations in societies depend upon the changing relations between individuals and groups, mediated by objects and architecture. 

This concise panorama into Neolithic Britain offers new conclusions and an academically-stimulating but accessible overview. It covers key material and social developments, and reflects on the nature of cultural practices, tradition, genealogy, and society across nearly two millennia.

 

Examines in great detail the latest findings and sets you asking the question: why did they stop Time Team - this is fascinating stuff.

 

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  Natalie Babbitt: Tuck Everlasting

Published by Bloosbury 27th September 2019

 

Winnie Foster is in the woods, thinking of running away from home, when she sees a boy drinking from a spring. Winnie wants a drink too, but before she can take a sip, she is kidnapped by the boy, Jesse Tuck, and his family. She learns that the Tuck family are blessed with - or doomed to - eternal life since drinking from the spring, and they wander from place to place trying to live as inconspicuously as they can. Now Winnie knows their secret. But what does immortality really mean? And can the Tucks help her understand before it's too late? A beautiful new hardcover gift edition of the unforgettable classic of children's writing about what it truly means to live forever

 

When I looked on Amazon, I found to my amazement that this is a classic children's story of which I had never heard. This is a beautiful new edition, well worth having...

 

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  Joey Gracedda: Rebels of Eden

Published by Simon and Schuster 2nd October 2019

 

The electrifying conclusion to the New York Times bestselling series Children of Eden that follows Rowan as she leaves behind the paradise she’s always dreamed of to save Eden – and the world – from a terrible fate.
 
Rowan is finally in Harmonia, an Earth-friendly, sustainable commune in the wilderness she always thought was dead. Even in this idyllic world, she finds no peace. Harmonia has strict rules – and dire consequences. Thinking about Eden is forbidden, but she’s determined to rescue the loved ones she left behind. Though they are in terrible danger, her pleas for help are ignored.
 
After months of living as one with nature, a shocking reminder of her past pushes Rowan to act. With the help of new friends, she infiltrates Eden. What she discovers is even worse than the situation she left behind. In the chaos of civil war, Rowan and her friends join forces with the second children and other rebels trapped inside. They fight for their lives, and for the future of humanity in this broken Earth.

 

Another superb final volume of a series of which I never had the opportunity to read the first two volumes...

 

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  A. F. Harrold: The Afterwards

Published by Bloomsbury 1st November 2019

 

Fact: Ember and Ness are best friends. There's nothing more to say about it. It is what it is. It is what will always be. Ember and Ness. Then Ness dies. It is sudden and unexpected and leaves Ember completely empty. How can this be? When Ember finds a way into the Afterworld, she determines to bring Ness back. Because that's what friends do isn't it? They rescue each other. They help. They never give up. Ember and Ness. That don't change. A powerful, poignant, darkly comic and deeply moving story about friendship at its most extraordinary.

 

Absolutely captivating, and the illustrations are beautiful!

 

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  Kitty Crowther: Stories of the Night

Published by Gecko Press 6th September 2019

 

"Tell me three good night stories, please, please, please," says Little Bear. "Three!?" says her mother. "Yes--I said please three times!"

First, Little Bear hears the story of the Night Guardian, who lives in the woods and makes sure all animals go to bed. But who tells the Night Guardian when it's bedtime? The second story is about the brave girl Zhara who seeks the forest's most delicious blackberries. In the third we meet Bo, the little man with the big overcoat, who finds it hard to sleep. Finally, Little Bear falls asleep, and there in bed beside her are her new storybook friends.

Stories of the Night is a modern fairy-tale storybook set in the magical illustrations of Kitty Crowther.

 

Kitty's stunning illustrations bring this modern fairy tale storybook to life.

 

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  Clotilde Perrin: Inside the Villains

Published by Gecko Press 6th September 2019

 

An extraordinary pop-up book that reveals the secrets of the most famous fairy-tale villains--the giant, the wolf and the witch--with interactive flaps, a twist on well-known tales, and personality cards for each villain. Lift the flaps to see the diabolical thoughts inside the villains' heads, what hides beneath their disguises, or the victims of their last meals (now comfortably settled inside their stomachs!).

Read all about each villain on their personality card, which shows strengths and weaknesses, pastimes, physical characteristics, their best meal and--of course--their favorite books.

And if the wolf bites your fingers while you're reading, you can always pull his tail...

 

Not a pop-up book but a lift-the-flap book with a difference. It's outsized, and the flaps are terrific. Only three double-paged spreads but it's enough to hook you and grab your interest.

 

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  Gyles Brandreth: Messing About in Quotes

Published by OUP 4th October 2019

 

Become a dazzling wit or enjoy a good laugh with this entertaining collection of humorous quotations, carefully handpicked and edited by writer and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth. From Art to Bores, Tennisto Wine, this little dictionary contains over 2,700 of the best quotations, from witty one-liners and funny phrases to pithy comments and unintended humour. 

If you live to be one hundred you've got it made. Very few people die past that age. - George Burns 

I thought coq au vin was love in a lorry. - Victoria Wood 

Champagne, if you are seeking the truth, is better than a lie-detector. - Graham Greene 

The trouble with a book is that you never know what's in it until it's too late. - Jeanette Winterson

 

Again I was expecting a full-sized book and not a small, pocket-sized anthology. Some of the quotes are very modern and not that good. Not the best book by Gyles, but well worth a look, and the old ones are definitely the best ones.

 

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Guy Fraser-Sampson: The House on Downshire Hill

Published by Urbane Publications 8th November 2019

 

When a wealthy recluse is reported missing from his home, a shocking discovery sparks a homicide investigation which begins to lead the team from Hampstead CID in some very unexpected directions. What has happened to the man's family? Who is the mysterious character with whom he appears to have been sharing his house? Do transgressions from the past have a bearing on crimes of the present day? In this, the fifth volume of the Hampstead Murders, we see a murder enquiry once more playing out against a shifting background of police politics and personal tribulations. Again, the beautiful London village of Hampstead with its Georgian terraces and stuccoed villas provides an unlikely setting for events which show only too clearly the dark and ugly side of human nature.

 

Reminiscent of the locked room mysteries that peppered the golden age of detective fiction during the last century, this is a superb example of what's so good about the genre.

 

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See you all in November...

 


The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its twentieth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.