Bruno Vincent: Five Forget Mother's Day
Published by Quercus Books 23rd February 2017
Enid Blyton's books are beloved the world over and The Famous Five have been the
perennial favourite of her fans. Now, in this new series of Enid Blyton for
Grown-Ups, George, Dick, Anne, Julian and Timmy are keen to show Aunt Fanny how
much she means to them. Join Julian, George, Dick, Anne and Timmy the dog as
they try to celebrate Mother's Day with Aunt Fanny. George has past form in
forgetting - not least her mum's birthday and Christmas presents - so tensions
are running high even for the charged normality of their mother/daughter bond.
But things go from bad to worse when Fanny comes to stay, with relations
strained almost to breaking point. Can the Five save the day, and will Uncle
Quentin get involved?
Fans of Enid Blyton and the Famous Five won't mind being entertained in this highly amusing and very adult fashion, I'm sure! The story is a delight and the conversations are spot on.
Bruno Vincent: Five Lose Dad in the Garden Centre
Published by Quercus Books 18th May 2017
Join Julian, George, Dick, Anne and Timmy the dog as they celebrate Father's
Day by taking Uncle Quentin to the local garden centre to chose a new garden
shed in which to conduct his experiments. But what promised to be a relaxed
outing turns into a nightmare when Quentin disappears into thin air. He surely
cannot have gone far . . .
"Where the effing eff is my effing father!" is the line that most sticks in my memory from this absolutely superb slice of grown-up Famous Five - these books are superb, and written with the same warmth and humour you'd expect in an original Famous Five. Sheer delight!
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Winston Graham: Poldark Book 5 The Black Moon
Published by Pan 1st June 2017
The Black Moon is the enthralling fifth novel in Winston Graham's
sweeping series of Cornwall, Poldark. Cornwall 1794. The birth of a son to Elizabeth and George Warleggan serves
only to accentuate the rift between the Poldark and Warleggan families. And when
Morwenna Chynoweth, now governess to Elizabeth’s eldest son, grows to love Drake
Carne, Demelza’s brother, the enduring rivalry between George and Ross finds a
new focus for bitter enmity and conflict. The Black Moon is followed by the sixth book in the Poldark series,
The Four Swans.
This most handsome book, along with Book Six in the series, The Four Swans, literally arrived at the last minute - I couldn't bear to leave them until July but I haven't yet had time to read them, so the reviews will have to wait until the July issue, when they will probably still be my books of the month. The third series of Poldark is due to be shown on BBC1 in June, so the publication of Books 5 and could not be more timely. The photography on the front covers is probably the best I have ever seen on paperback books, really high definition, eye-catching, simply superb! I am happy to say I have plenty to read right now, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on these two new blockbusters with you in a month's time, by which time, of course, they'll be available to purchase, and you won't need me to tell you just how good they are!
The Four Swans is the masterful sixth novel in Winston Graham's
sweeping series of Cornwall, Poldark. Cornwall 1795-1797. Although Ross Poldark – now something of a war hero –
seems secure in his hard-won prosperity, a new dilemma faces him in the sudden
infatuation of a young naval officer for his wife Demelza. All four women – the four swans – whose lives touch Ross’s, face a crisis in
these years. For his wife Demelza, his old love Elizabeth, his friend’s new wife
Caroline and for the unhappy Morwenna Chynoweth these are times of stress and
conflict. Published by Pan 1st June 2017
Simone Van Der Vlugt: Midnight Blue
Published by HarperFiction 4th May 2017
Amsterdam 1654: a dangerous secret threatens to destroy a young widow’s new
life. Following the sudden death of her husband, twenty-five year old Catrin leaves
her small village and takes a job as housekeeper to the successful Van Nulandt
merchant family. Amsterdam is a city at the peak of its powers: science and art
are flourishing in the Golden Age and Dutch ships bring back exotic riches from
the Far East. When a figure from her past threatens her new life, Catrin flees to Delft.
There, her painting talent earns her a chance as a pottery painter. Slowly, the
workshop begins to develop a new type of pottery to rival the coveted Chinese
porcelain – and Delft Blue is born. But when tragedy strikes, Catrin has a hard
choice to make. Rich and engrossing, Midnight Blue is perfect for fans of Tulip Fever and
Girl with a Pearl Earring.
The Intriguing and fascinating account of the creation of one of the world's most iconic designs...
Juliet Castle: The Silent Partner and Other Stories of Truth
Published by Matador 28th April 2017
In this intimate arrangement of emotive short stories, Juliet Castle presents
provocative thoughts that challenge the reader's perspective. Collectively, the
stories reveal a deeper understanding of life initially veiled from view.
Juliet's stories portray how the mystery of life is attempting to reach you deep
within. They compel the reader to wonder. What is it you are incessantly
experiencing through your life's encounters? What are the forces at work? Who is
your Silent Partner? Juliet attempts to reveal the answers to these questions by
encouraging the reader to step forward and to see the forces acting behind
life's play. The Silent Partner is a creative literary work that contains many
short stories with varying content, context, and style, as well as artistically
drawn images. Each of the short stories is intended to lead towards a discovery
and has the underlying theme of 'the Silent Partner' to connect the individual
story to the collection as a whole. Inspired by Shakespeare, the storybooks of
Aesop's Fables, and the Brother's Grimm, The Silent Partner and Other Stories of
Truth plays on words and uses symbolism with poetic placement and style that
lends itself towards an enjoyable, yet provoking read. It could be placed
alongside Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and Paul Coelho in the category of
This is an absolute must-read amalgam of sometimes quirky, sometimes thought-provoking short stories.
Judith Thomson: The Orange Autumn
Published by Matador 28th April 2017
England is once more a divided nation... It is 1688 and James ll is
on the throne of England. But James is not popular – and he is a Catholic. The
situation is dangerously volatile. Although Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion has
failed, with bloody consequences, there are still many who desire to replace
James with a Protestant monarch. Among these are Philip Devalle, who has
been James’ open enemy in the past, and Philip’s brother-in-law. Giles
Fairfield, who fought in Monmouth’s doomed uprising. Neither will prosper in a
country ruled by King James. However, there is an alternative. For
Philip, virtually a prisoner on his estate, and Giles, an exile from his native
land, it would mean taking great risks. Failure would be disastrous for them
both…but success could bring great rewards!
Historical novel that's reminiscent of the good old days of Jean Plaidy. A thrilling backdrop, stunning characters...
Maeve Haran: An Italian Holiday
Published by Pan 15th June 2017
Sunshine, warmth, lemon blossom . . . Springtime in
glorious Southern Italy can go to your head. Especially if you are escaping an
overbearing husband, the embarrassingly public loss of your company, an
interfering mother who still tries to run your life or the pain of a husband's
affair with a girl young enough to be his daughter. As the Italian sun ripens the lemons in the groves that tumble down the
hillsides and the Mediterranean dazzles beneath them, assertive Angela,
extrovert Sylvie, unconfident Claire and mousy Monica find burgeoning friendship
and begin to blossom in quite unexpected ways. Packed with memorable characters - from the acid-tongued Grand Old Man of
Modern Art who lives next door - to the aspiring gigolo who thinks nothing of a
forty year age gap, Maeve Haran's new novel is a witty and entertaining reminder
of why going a little mad in the sun can sometimes be exactly what you need.
It's a sign of the times that the smash-hit Durrells TV show has warmed us to the idea of Mediterranean holidays - Maeve's story is sublime, full of warmth, humour, personality and relationships that resonate in this rather harsh time in which we live. This is pure escapism, but it's entirely possible that it could all happen, which makes it even better! Superb.
Timothy Raine: Winter's Leap
Published by The Book Guild 28th March 2017
Winter's Leap is about the events in the day of a young man, Tommy, with mild
cerebral palsy. It s a window into his mind and thoughts as the day unfolds and
a tragic event befalls him. There is humour, warmth and sadness combined with
the need for identity within a family unit to make sense of Tommy's world. We
share his deepest concerns and observations about life during his daily routine
and the longing for his father, who he has never known.
Anyone with the courage to write about someone with a mental illness in this way has my full admiration. Ground-breaking and absorbing.
Louise Walters: A Life Between Us
Published by Matador 28th April 2017
Tina Thornton's twin sister Meg died in a childhood accident, but for almost
forty years Tina has secretly blamed herself for her sister's death. During a
visit to her aging Uncle Edward and his sister Lucia, who both harbour dark
secrets of their own, Tina makes a discovery that forces her to finally question
her memories of the day her sister died. Who, if anyone, did kill Meg? As Tina
finds the courage to face the past, she unravels the tangled family mysteries of
her estranged parents, her beautiful French Aunt Simone, the fading,
compassionate Uncle Edward, and above all, the cold, bitter Aunt Lucia, whose
spectral presence casts a long shadow over them all. A Life Between Us is a
beautifully evocative story of a family torn apart at the seams, which will
appeal to readers who enjoy family sagas and modern-day mysteries.
Reminded me, in a way, of The Lovely Bones. A bit creepy, and Uncle Edward and Lucia are brilliant characters. This could have gone on the crime and thrillers page, but the psychological aspects outweigh the crime elements. A super read.
Caroline Newark: The Fair Maid of Kent
Published by Matador 28th March 2017
It is 1341 and Joan of Kent, the fourteen-year-old cousin of the King of
England, is poised on the brink of marriage with the Earl of Salisbury's son.
While plans are made for the king's continuing war against France, the families
gather to celebrate the wedding. But the bride is in tears. For unknown to
everyone, Joan has a secret and it is one so scandalous, so unspeakably
shocking, that discovery could destroy this glorious marriage and place the
lives of those Joan loves in danger. From the glittering court of Edward III to
the lonely border fortress of Wark, to the bleak marshlands before the walls of
Calais, Joan must tread a careful path balanced between truth and deception,
where love is an illusion and one false move could spell disaster. When tragedy
strikes at the heart of the royal family Joan finds herself facing a foe more
deadly than a violent husband. Imprisoned in her chamber and with her fate
resting in the hands of the Pope's tribunal in Avignon, there is nothing she can
do but pray. The Fair Maid of Kent is the story of an enduring love in a
dangerous world where a man may not be all he seems and your most powerful enemy
is the one you cannot see. Inspired by the writings of Philippa Gregory and
Hilary Mantel, and based on the life of Joan, the first Princess of Wales (and
Caroline's seventeen times great-grandmother), The Fair Maid of Kent will appeal
to fans of historical fiction.
Brilliant historical fiction from Caroline - highly reminiscent of the very best work of Jean Plaidy...
Jude Hayland: Counting The Ways
Published by Matador 28th April 2017
Grace Barnes, living in her subterranean one-room flat at the nether end of
Earl's Court, feels out of tune with striving, self-seeking 1980's London.
Meeting Archie Copeland, she is gratified to have found a man who shares her
obsession for reading and seems more fascinated by Shelley than shifting share
prices. In Oxford, Hester, Grace's mother, considers her estranged marriage to
Fergus, who left her thirty years before to go and live on a remote Welsh
hillside in pursuit of self-sufficiency. His subsequent appearance at Grace and
Archie's quiet wedding is a surprise and she finds it hard to quantify her
feelings about him. Soon, Grace is troubled by a distance in Archie, and a
tendency to covert actions even though his faithfulness appears absolute. Moving
to the countryside seems to offer relief, but the recession of the late 1980s
impacts upon them both professionally and Grace is aware of a growing inadequacy
in communication between the two of them as they struggle to talk openly. A
spontaneous holiday on the Mediterranean island of Kronos provides a respite for
them both and they begin to consider a permanent move away, but then Archie
suddenly disappears. In the wake of this, Grace uncovers a trail of debts and
increasing evidence of his duplicity. Remaining on Kronos, finding a job and
friendship, Grace determines to find Archie. Hester is anxious to help, while
Fergus is unexpectedly forthright in his attempts to assist. Archie, meanwhile,
is forced to confront years of self-delusion. In the shadow of Archie's absence,
Grace, Fergus and Hester find themselves facing the truth of their fractured
relationships and considering how, so often, it has been the unspoken words
rather than those uttered that have contributed towards conflict and separation.
Counting the Ways explores the fears that shadow our lives - failure, loss,
regret and mortality - and will appeal to fans of contemporary fiction. It also
makes an ideal book group read.
This is the kind of story you might stumble across on the inside pages of one of the Sunday papers, well told by Jude Hayland, and you can't help but feel sorry for Grace as the events of her married life unfold.
J J Baloch: Whiter Than White
Published by Matador 15th April 2017
Written by seasoned police officer and accomplished writer, J. J.
Baloch, Whiter Than White is the story of Hoor, an ordinary woman
caught up in the throes of extraordinary circumstances. Hoor fosters her faith
and cultivates confidence in her own destiny, protecting her womanhood with the
tenacity of a wounded mother lion against the system that engulfs her
world. Whiter Than White details Hoor’s journey from growing up in a
hostile system in Pakistan and rising to the precipice of greatness and fame as
the story unfolds.
Whiter Than White is unique in its approach
to the telling of Hoor’s story. While detailing her personal journey, J J.
Baloch comprehensively addresses the different issues of women in
sub-continental set-ups, specifically Pakistan. Drawing on the mistreatment of
women and women’s rights, this novel sheds light on a society that considers
women a symbol of misfortune, where they are arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned
and sentenced without being involved in any violation of the law, and where they
are presented as sexual tools for the pleasure of men, discriminated against on
the basis of their gender.
This novel touches on the sensitive systems
of society and state, which are designed to perpetuate the status quo of male
dominance, orthodoxy, discriminations, biases, intolerance, extremism and hatred
against women. J. J. Baloch’s experience working in the police, specifically
relating to crimes against women, adds a layer of authenticity to his writing
that will be enjoyed by those who enjoy feminist literature and who are looking
to deepen their understanding of women’s rights in other societies.
Pakistani society is totally different to what we know in the western world. J J Baloch's novel reveals a hierarchy and structure that is quite alien to our own - something of an eye opener for me..
S Lynn Scott: Elizabeth, William and Me...
Published by Matador 28th May 2017
S. Lynn Scott's debut novel is a funny, moving and very original tale that
takes the reader on a rollicking adventure through modern England - accompanied
by the Virgin Queen and William Shakespeare. Ally is living an ordinary life
until Elizabeth and William come to stay. Exactly why Elizabeth Tudor should
choose her pantry to appear in, or why the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon should
show up later in her bath is a bit of a mystery, not to mention a dreadful
inconvenience, but the crotchety Elizabeth has a mission and she is used to
getting her own way. Ally too, needs to recover something that has been lost,
and perhaps Elizabeth and William will be the means by which she will find it.
Elizabeth, William...and Me takes a wry look at modern life through the eyes of
two of history's most famous personalities. Sometimes humorous, sometimes
heart-breaking, the trio's quest takes them from middle England to the cold
streets of London, from a shelter for the homeless to the home of the very
highest in the land; and from grief to acceptance. Drawing from S. Lynn Scott's
knowledge of Elizabethan England and her experience of directing Shakespeare
productions, Elizabeth, William...and Me is an accessible and imaginative novel
that will appeal to both fans and non-fans of Shakespeare, as well as readers
who enjoy humorous fiction - with unexpected twists. ..
Fascinating... Elizabeth is Queen Elizabeth 1st,William is William Shakespeare, and "me" is Ally - a fly on the wall romp through Elizabethan England... Hugely entertaining!
The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth 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.