books monthly christmas 2017 adult fiction

John Dodd's memoirs of colonial Malaya are colourful, often hilarious, always entertaining...

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Allie Esiri: A Poem For Every Day Of The Year

Published by Macmillan 7th September 2017


A Poem For Every Day of the Year is a magnificent collection of 366 poems compiled by Allie Esiri, one to share on every day of the year. These poems are funny, thoughtful, inspiring, humbling, informative, quiet, loud, small, epic, peaceful, energetic, upbeat, motivating, and empowering! Perfect for reading aloud and sharing with all the family, it is bursting at the seams with familiar favourites and exciting new discoveries. T.S.Eliot, John Betjeman, Lewis Carroll, William Shakespeare and Christina Rossetti sit alongside Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy, and Kate Tempest.This soul-enhancing book will keep you company for every day of your life.


Some poetry I can read and love - other poetry leaves me totally unmoved. I don't think I have ever liked anything penned by the current poet laureate, for example. But this sumptuous book, with its fabulous cover, contains more good poetry than bad. There's something for everyone in this marvellous anthology.




John Dodd: A Company of Planters

       Published by Monsoon Books November 2017

Through a collection of letters written to his best friend and to his father in England, and from his own personal diary entries, John Dodd’s memoir offers a fascinating and amusing glimpse of life as a colonial rubber planter. With true stories and confessions that would make even Somerset Maugham blush, we discover what life was really like for young colonial planters in late-1950s Malaya. Increasing daily rubber output may have been their goal but for the young planters the bigger picture of chasing girls and finding a ‘keep’ was of much greater importance. But life was more than just a series of stengahs in the clubhouse, dalliances in the Chinese brothels of Penang and charming ‘pillow dictionaries’ – there were strikes, riots, snakes, plantation fires and deadly ambushes by Communist terrorists to contend with. Set against the backdrop of the Emergency period, the rise of nationalism and Malaya’s subsequent Independence, A Company of Planters is a very personal, moving and humorous account of one man’s experiences on the frequently isolated rubber plantations of colonial Malaya.


This is a most entertaining and intriguing tale, the kind of memoir you might once have found in the pages of Argosy magazine, or even Reader's Digest. John Dodd's story is as fascinating as anyone's from that period, with the added benefit that he has written it himself. It's almost like the memoir of a retired Indiana Jones, and sheds a light on coloniallife in the late 1950s that in many ways is something of an eye-opener for me. This was around the time that Ian Fleming would have been writing his James Bond novels, and the 1950s, for me, were among the most flaboyant and memorable of any period in my life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it!

Marcel Proust: Swann In Love

Published by OUP 23rd November 2017


Swann in Love is a brilliant, devastating novella that tells of infatuation, love, and jealousy. Set against the backdrop of Paris at the end of the nineteenth century, the story of Charles Swann illuminates the fragilities and foibles of human beings when in the grip of desire. Swann is a highly cultured man-about-town who is plunged into turmoil when he falls for a young woman called Odette de Crécy. The novel traces the progress of Swann's emotions with penetrating exactitude as he encounters Odette at the regular gatherings in the salon of the Verdurins. His wilful self-delusion is both poignant and ridiculous , and his tormented feelings play out in scenes of high comedy amongst Odette's socially pretentious circle. 
Swann in Love is part of Proust's monumental masterpiece In Search of Lost Time, and it is also a captivating self-contained story. This new translation encapsulates the qualities that have secured Proust's reputation, and serves as a perfect introduction to his writing.


J M Collin: Road To Nowhere

Published by Matador 28th October 2017


At Christmas 2015, family arguments about Pete Bridford’s huge success in business, together with premonitions of the Brexit vote, lead him to realise that the lessons he learnt in his youth are going to be needed today. He decides to write them down. 

First he goes back 50 years, to October 1967, when he is beginning research at Cambridge University. Glittering academic prizes have already come his way. More beckon, and for a while they arrive in both academic and personal life. He finds that he can get on through pulling the right strings in College politics, though this means he cannot give his friend Harry Tamfield as much support as he might. He befriends Jenny Wingham, the daughter of an established academic family, whilst staying on good terms with an old flame, Liz Partington. He makes a breakthrough in his research. 

But does he want to stay in the Cambridge of the 1960s, which was deliberately isolated from the real world outside? That question is put to him by Pat O’Donnell, a captain of industry. For a while, Pete thinks he can avoid it. Then, he and Jenny save a life, and that forces them both to decisions about their own lives and aims. 

The action is set in times of political turmoil and student protest. By chance, Pete learns that in those times, an established academic family uses every means to stay established. He is able to turn the tables on them, and completes his education in the process.

J M Collin: Flight to Destruction

Published by TMatador 28th October 2017


In July 1973, Pete has been developing the business of Pat O Donnell s company in Spain. He returns to the UK with a secret that is worth a fortune to those who know it that on October 6th, war will again break out in the Middle East. He meets again many of those he knew in Cambridge, makes new friends, and finds a new partner. He crosses swords with Harry Tamfield, who now leads a property company. The war is followed by oil and coal shortages and the three day week. Against this background, Pete helps some friends to sort out their personal lives. They take the first step to going into business together, through setting up Creators Technology. Pete s friend Carol Milverton stands in the General Election of February 1974, and he spots how to give her a chance of winning, at the expense of Harry. In the course of that, Pete appears on TV for the first time. But giving and taking chances has its risks. Harry discovers how Pete s secret has been used. His return from Spain with this news would be hugely destructive not just for Pete and his friends, but for the whole of Britain. Pete finds himself directing the Spanish police in a manhunt, but in the end success comes only through quite unforeseen tragedy. After a memorable day, Pete and his friends have come to understand themselves, and each other, better. He goes on, alone.

J M Collin: The Turnaround

Published by Matador 28th October 2017


In September 1979, during the early days of the Thatcher Government, unauthorised financial speculation places Pat O Donnell s company at risk. Jenny, who is now an accountant, works with Pete to save the company. That brings old feelings to the fore, despite Jenny s generally happy marriage and motherhood of two. But an accident to the husband of Pete s old friend Liz takes his life in a different direction. A year or so later, Liz and Pete are living together. Pete is now leading Creators Technology, and working part time for the Government as an industrial advisor, whilst Liz is working part time for the miners union. That involves them on opposite sides of the Government s backdown to the miners in February 1981. A few days later, they, Jenny and Carol help a friend from Spain to ensure the military coup there fails. The friend arranges for Creators Technology to have the funds it needs to develop world beating software. Liz and Pete devise a plan to prevent the miners challenging the Government at the end of 1981, when their chances of victory would be greatest. Their plan appears to be working, but is disrupted by the coldest weather on record. Then they face together the greatest challenge, and the greatest sacrifice, against the background of a turning point in national history. Pete s account ends in June 1982, against the background of national triumph in the Falklands War, and expected business triumph for Creators Technology. He discovers that he is not the only person facing tragedy, and does not go on alone.

Thomas R Langton: The Devil Gets Lonely Too

Published by Matador 28th November 2017


The Devil Gets Lonely Too is the debut collection of poetry by Thomas R. Langton. Containing a wide range of themes, the book offers everything from hope to despair in an exploration of the darker side of life.

Wrap me in darkness sweetheart Darkness is my shroud The black calls to me'

Using a colloquial style, Thomas writes a succinct collection with poems about happiness, depression and the monotony of everyday life. This work explores more serious subject matter, including bringing light to deeper issues such as anxiety and suicide.

Themes range from love and lust to happiness, heartache and depression, and explore issues such as anxiety and suicide. Thomas punctuates his poetry with references to biblical and historical figures to help illustrate his writing.

A dark, twisted and at times sobering read, The Devil Gets Lonely Too takes inspiration from the work of Charles Bukowski and George Orwell, and from the music of Patti Smith. Thomas book stems from a lifelong passion for writing and a love of gritty literature. The book will appeal to fans of poetry, especially those that enjoy mature and honest literature.



Trevor Stubbs: The Spark

Published by Matador 28th November 2017


Pain and love, drama and peace, hurt, yes, but loads of fun, too. It's all here in "The Spark". Follow Shaun as he is faced with real darkness while his friends and family struggle to help him find light and hope again. Among the different places on Earth, visit India and travel through its backstreets and glory in its wonders. Across the universe, come meet a people enslaved by their own robots and face the question of tragedy and generosity on the home planet of Joh. These are just a few of the adventures that form the fourth and last book of the Whit Gates Adventure series. “The Spark celebrates the indestructible spark of love which offers an opportunity for healing,” says Trevor of his new novel. “In Britain there is a new recognition of the mental health needs of our children and young adults. Those who went through the world wars of the twentieth century demanded a stiff upper lip, but times have changed. Through the efforts of psychologists today, and the campaigning of Prince Harry and others, we can applaud and encourage those who are willing to talk about that which is destroying them from within.” In The Spark, Trevor Stubbs continues and concludes his White Gates Adventures series with a new standalone fantasy novel. Shaun, now aged 20, has never been as quick or confident as his elder sister, Kakko, or as bright as his younger brother, Bandi. He has been the steady quiet one, opting for youth and community studies. But circumstances now threaten to destroy Shaun’s way of life. How does he cope with the traumas that come his way? By means of the mysterious white gates, readers explore yet more new places and revisit some of the familiar ones. “The Spark will appeal to readers looking for a book willing to tackle head-on the question of how a loving creator could allow people to come face to face with evil.”


Doug Thompson: A Time For Role Call

Published by Matador 28th November 2017


Set mainly in wartime Italy, A Time for Role Call follows the strange, eventful path of Sally’s life, taking us from blitzed London via Yorkshire, where Sally first meets the enigmatic Adam, to Fascist Rome and the bed of Count Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini’s Foreign Minister and the focus of Sally’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) mission. 

Following Ciano’s sudden fall from grace early in 1943, Sally’s mission is aborted. The subsequent Allied invasions, Mussolini’s overthrow, and the German occupation lead her to quit Rome. With increasing difficulty and some hair-raising experiences, she makes her tortuous way north towards Switzerland. En route she encounters deserting German soldiers, an escaped Australian PoW, Italian brothers avoiding military service, mountain shepherds, a French nun, Italian partisans – as well as, all too briefly, the long-lost Adam. 

Shortly after the war, back in London, Sally again meets with Silvio, an Italian restauranteur whom she had known there previously, her subsequent SOE superior, but whose loyalties she has long suspected. Aware of her suspicions, Silvio now tries to kill her. But it is he who dies, though not by her hand... 


Gary Brockwell: Chasing The Sun With Henry

Published by Matador 28th November 2017


In Gary Brockwell's debut novel Eddie Dungiven, children s entertainer and close hand magician, is bored with his life and of his wife Sally s preoccupation with cleaning and taking part in flawed get rich quick schemes. His only respite from this marital entrapment comes in the form of regular forays to a secluded beach with his Collie-Spaniel cross, Henry. That is until one day when a chance encounter with a beautiful stranger named Cerys Sindon changes everything.

As Sally s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and causes her relationship with her husband to deteriorate, Eddie prepares to embark on the ultimate betrayal with the captivating Cerys. But the sudden death of his father figure and the sentiments of his good friend focus Eddie s attention on a revaluation of what is central to his life and what will make him happy.

In his desperate search for answers, Eddie is drawn into the world of the medium Ignatius McKenzie and the personal revelations he presents, which have far reaching implications for both Eddie and Cerys, and a dark secret that she conceals.

Inspired by the work of John Irving and Colin Bateman, Chasing the Sun with Henry explores the effect of tragedy and change on a relationship. Gary s thought-provoking novel will appeal to readers that enjoy contemporary fiction, especially those that are interested in relationships and the various guises of love.


David De Freitas: Revelations 12:12

Published by Matador 28th November 2017


‘Woe to the inhabitors of the earth and of the sea! 
For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, 
knowing that he has but a short time.’ 

Revelations 12:12 

1968. A young woman in the sleepy town of Sidon is at home, fourteen hours into labour. Uninvited and without warning, a Dr Brockman arrives to assist with her delivery. A few hours later, Martha Holman gives birth to her first child, Simon. Within months, however, Martha’s husband is killed in the Vietnam War. Suddenly a single parent, Martha is forced to raise Simon on her own. A seemingly intelligent and well-adjusted boy, Simon grows up in a deeply spiritual home. However, as he enters his teenage years, the town of Sidon is suddenly rocked by the unexplained homicide of a young girl – and Simon Holman is considered the main suspect. At pertinent moments during Simon’s life, Dr Brockman always mysteriously appears. Before long, it becomes increasingly clear to Simon that he has been chosen by a force far greater than himself. His destiny is written, and everyone standing in the way is being eliminated... Revelations 12:12 is a pulse-pounding thriller with a truly unguessable ending. It will appeal to fans of Stephen King, Dan Brown and Robert Ludlum.


This is a fantastic first novel by David De Freitas whichcame about as the result of a series of dreams, which makes it all the more intriguing... Anything that captures the menace and terror associated with the Book of Revelations is worth a read! The characters are well-rounded and seemingly ordinary, at first, then, literally, all Hell breaks loose in sleepy Sidon. Truly menacing, and hugely entertaining!



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.