books monthly november 2017 adult fiction

Bernard Cornwell diverts from Britain's Dark Ages to the Tudor era and young Will Shakespeare...

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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.




Bernard Cornwell: Fools And Mortals

       Published by Harper Collins 19th October 2017

A dramatic new departure for international bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, FOOLS AND MORTALS takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history. Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory – propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal. Showcasing his renowned storyteller’s skill, Bernard Cornwell has created an Elizabethan world incredibly rich in its portrayal: you walk the London streets, stand in the palaces and are on stage in the playhouses, as he weaves a remarkable story in which performances, rivalries and ambition combine to form a tangled web of intrigue.


For Bernard Cornwell's first departure from Britain's Dark Ages for some time finds young Richard Shakespeare desperate for parts in plays being produced by older brother William. The atmosphere is superb, the characters as full and rounded as in anything and everything else by Bernard, and you get an overwheling sense of a period altogether more at ease with itself than the intrigue and dangers of Henry VIII's reign. This recreation of Elizabethan England is amazingly real and scenic - a magnificent foray into the theatrical world presided over by Good Queen Bess. Bernard Cornwell can't really do anything wrong from my point of view. A brilliant aside before he returns to the amazing and captivating adventures of Uhtred of Bamburgh.

Grant Sutton: Cream of Plankton Soup

Published by Matador 28th September 2017


Cream of Plankton Soup is a witty, sharply written collection of short stories that is a mixture of modern humour, surreal topics, educational nuggets and hidden deep meanings. Each story within this book is followed by a `reader's blog', where readers are encouraged to add their own comments about their thoughts and feelings of each story on Some stories include readers' comments during the story in the same way that old cartoon comics had readers' voice bubbles incorporated into the picture. Sutton fuses recurring themes such as life, death, religion and war, spanning to more obscure areas of everyday life including vaudeville theatre, black magic and microbiology. Among the references to culture, art, Cream of Plankton Soup also delves into science and history, ensuring that there is something for every reader to enjoy. This collection is designed to be dipped into by the reader until overcome with laughter. Readers will be amazed, astonished and bewildered, but above all you won't be able to help but laugh. This book will appeal to those who enjoy the likes of Monty Python, The Mighty Boosh and Spike Milligan.


Vic Chamberlain: The Happening Man

Published by Matador 28th September 2017


I'll get back and get the Ranch prepared for any attack. You look after things out here, keep them observed but don t let them see you. If they do skirt around the Ranch, all well and good, we ll let them move on but if they are intent on raiding us, we will be ready. Set in the American west from 1860 onwards, The Happening Man follows the journey of Trigg Hemmyng as he utilises his guile, experience and foresight to acquire a fortune that will provide for his family. Vic Chamberlain's story takes place in the period of Manifest Destiny, when American expansion linked the east and west coasts by the Transcontinental Railroad, and when the untamed Western Frontier was transformed into the legendary Wild West. Federal and civilian law were imposed in an attempt to allow settlers to create homes and businesses, and vast territories were marshalled by the US army. But on this torturous journey, many dastardly deeds were enacted by desperate men. Despite these human failings, a powerful country emerged with the potential to provide men and women with the opportunity to create their own success. Many tried, but few succeeded. The Happening man prospered, using his cunning, determination and military experience to make his fortune in this volatile period. Vic Chamberlain s western novel narrates the saga of this eponymous Happening man. Inspired by Vic's fascination with the American west and how it came into being, The Happening Man provides the reader with a new slant on the subject that has not yet been covered. With cinematic properties, the book will appeal to readers of western and historical fiction, as well as fans of Western cinema and television.

C J Evans: Fire and Honey

Published by The Book Guild 28th September 2017


“A cold chill runs down Andrea’s spine as she gazes into the cold remorseless steely eyes of the reincarnation of a murderess that Andrea remembered all too well”
Fire and Honey tells the tale of two young friends who embark on an adventure together to find love and romance in the Caribbean sun. Susan and Andrea set off together in the hope of finding romance to cure their difficult pasts, but while romance may be waiting around the corner, the two girls become entangled in a web of lies and deceit and find themselves embroiled by Voodoo forces. Growing up, Andrea suffered from an abusive father who left an indelible stain on her psyche, and Susan had lost both of her parents in her teens – they met when they shared assignations with Susan’s lecherous Uncle Eric at his country cottage.
There are many twists and turns in this tale of love and romance, plus a chilling satanic undercurrent that will leave you looking over your shoulder when the lights go out. The Voodoo curse threatens to engulf them once more; will they ever be free of its mystic powers?

Steve Aitchsmith: Twenty Five Million Ghosts

Published by Matador 28th September 2017


War and devastation made us. What is past is past and resulted in you, me and everybody else. We are all haunted by the ruptured history that created us. Steve lives a reasonably content and secure life in early retirement. He is dealing with the impending death of his mother, out-of-control garden ants and his own need for both security in and understanding of this world. He is assisted by an unusual Roman Catholic priest as he copes with loss while reviewing how his family history reflects the new world that was inevitably born from the major wars of the past. He recognises that his story is everybody's story; we are all the result of destruction and violent change. His reflections and adventures lead him to look at the changes in the world, to commit a crime, to recall the stories of the fear, gore, loss and love that war generates. Steve shows you who you are. He shows that his story is your story, only the details vary. By seeing the slaughter, murder, evil and good that war provokes he shows you why you are. The horrors of the family history take us to the First World War Western Front, the Second World War D-Day, the Holocaust and the Russian Front. He also provides tips for dealing with ants. Some books grab you by the throat and pull you into a few hours of escape. Other books, this book, take you gently by the hand and lead you towards a new view of the world and your place in it. Twenty Five Million Ghosts mourns those who have been lost or never existed because of our terrible propensity for violence. It also celebrates those who only exist because of it.

Peter Abrahams: Killers of the True Holy War

Published by Matador 28th September 2017


Observing the terrible suffering of children around the world, especially in developing countries, brought about by bad religious teachings and warped exegesis, served as the catalyst for Peter to write Killers of the True Holy War. In this, Abraham's debut novel, themes of religion, terrorism and poverty meet those of mind, body and spirit. A young boy is haunted by the tragic and traumatising aftermaths of religious wars that surround him. He wishes to help those that have been killed in the name of religion. Asleep one night, he dreams of a mysterious spray that can eradicate poverty - which becomes an obsession. The boy is invited to London, where he meets three English girls in a white mansion. At the same time, a Seer, the Mejai, has a premonition that the devil has sent a young boy to steal treasure on his behalf from the actual heir to the fortune - another boy. These two boys are located in London; the boy in the white mansion appears in this vision as one of the pair. The Mejai must decide who is the imposter and who is the rightful owner of the treasure. Will he make the right decision and save the correct boy - our protagonist, who wishes to eradicate poverty and help those involved in this unsavoury war?



Susi Osborne: Angelica Stone

Published by The Book Guild 28th August 2017


Following years of sexual abuse and resulting psychological trauma, Angelica Stone has learnt to rely solely on herself. Unwilling to allow anyone to get close to her, Angelica is reluctant to allow her work colleague Lola into her life. Lola, in contrast to the damaged Angelica, is from what appears to be a happy middle-class family. But all is not what it seems. An unlikely bond is formed between the two as they learn more about eachother. As they become closer, a series of life-changing events leave Lola on the verge of ruin. Will the friends be able to better themselves and have the lives they so desperately want? Or will they succumb to the expectations and the path already laid out for them? Angelica Stone follows both characters in their own journey of self-discovery. This close and in-depth look into the lives of Angelica and Lola will see the reader laugh and cry as the two women learn about themselves and the invaluable friendship they have.


David Stokes: The Happy Ending

Published by Matador 28th September 2017


A 97 year old hero becomes involved in a very 21st century problem... A novel for those who enjoyed 'The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared' and 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' This is a feel-good, heart-warming novel, full of fun and whimsy that also touches on a serious theme. When his wife of seventy years dies, Harry Pigeon considers joining her in the grave as he feels his purpose for living has gone. A freak accident outside his bungalow draws him into the sordid world of modern slavery and a quest that re-invigorates his zest for life. Single-handedly rescuing two girls from an international trafficking operation, he finds the tables are turned when he is accused of kidnapping them. When the girls also admit to using him to gain money, Harry's old-fashioned values suddenly seem inadequate. Can someone of his age still make a contribution in the modern world? Also running through the story is a sub-plot involving Harry's deceased wife, Betty who retains a strong voice in his life through their amusing, daily conversations that show his continued dependency on her for advice and guidance. Clearly they ve had their difficulties in the past - in particular over the daughter he never met who died before he returned home from the war. Can Harry hope to resolve his feelings with Betty from beyond the grave?


There are very few classic novels that are not published by Oxford World's Classics, and I suspect this may be a new version. I have never read Silas Marner, but look forward to tackling it in the near future with this annotated new version.


Geraint Jones: Blood Forest

Published by Penguin 26th October 2017


They call him Felix. A lost soldier without a memory and now a brutal battle to win. For fans of Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane and Conn Iggulden, a spectacular debut where honour and duty, legions and tribes clash in bloody, heart-breaking glory . . .  AD 9. Fifteen thousand battle-hardened Roman legionaries strike deep into dense forest. Awaiting them are deadly, hostile Germanic tribes. In a clearing they find twelve massacred and strung-up legionaries. Is this a threat, or a warning? There is just one bloodied, broken survivor. He has no idea who he is. Only that he is a soldier. And now he must fight. As the legions are mercilessly cut down, the nameless soldier joins a small band of survivors trapped in the forest. If they fight together they have a slim chance of staying alive. But whose side is the soldier on? And is it the right one?


There are plenty of novels around about ancient Rome right now, but this one is strikingly different - not a straightforward historical novel but one with a few twists and turns along the way. Excellent!



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.