books monthly october 2017 adult fiction

The legendary story of Joan of Arc is given the graphic novel treatment in this excellent edition from Orep...

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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.

Ken Follett: A Column of Fire

Published by Macmillan 21st September 2017


The saga that has enthralled the millions of readers of The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End now continues with Ken Follett's magnificent, gripping A Column of Fire. Christmas 1558, and young Ned Willard returns home to Kingsbridge to find his world has changed. The ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn by religious hatred. Europe is in turmoil as high principles clash bloodily with friendship, loyalty and love, and Ned soon finds himself on the opposite side from the girl he longs to marry, Margery Fitzgerald. Then Elizabeth Tudor becomes queen and all of Europe turns against England. The shrewd, determined young monarch sets up the country’s first secret service to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions and invasion plans. Elizabeth knows that alluring, headstrong Mary Queen of Scots lies in wait in Paris. Part of a brutally ambitious French family, Mary has been proclaimed the rightful ruler of England, with her own supporters scheming to get rid of the new queen. Over a turbulent half-century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed, as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. With Elizabeth clinging precariously to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents, it becomes clear that the real enemies – then as now – are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else – no matter the cost.


Brilliant Tudor historical novel not this time concentrating on the monarchy but on comparatively minor characters, but covering, amongst other things, the accession of Elizabeth to the throne, the Armada, the gunpowder plot and the age-old struggle between catholicism and the infant church of England. This massive novel is necessarily wide-ranging, and a worthy third instalment in Ken's superb Kingsbridge series.


Samantha Silva: Mr Dickens And His Carol

Published by Allison and Busby 31st October 2017


For Charles Dickens, each Christmas has been better than the last. His novels are literary blockbusters, avid fans litter the streets and he and his wife have five happy children and a sixth on the way. But when Dickens' latest book is a flop, the glorious life threatens to collapse around him.His publishers offer an ultimatum: either he writes a Christmas book in a month, or they will call in his debts, and he could lose everything. Grudgingly, and increasingly plagued by self-doubt, Dickens meets the muse he needs in Eleanor Lovejoy and her young son, Timothy. With time running out, Dickens is propelled on a Scrooge-like journey through Christmases past and present.


Samantha's brilliant portrayal of Charles Dickens struggling to find a voice his backers will be happy with provides the perfect backdrop for the circumstances in which the great author came to write A Christmas Carol. The characters are superb, the plot is faultless and the whole thing hangs together like one of Dickens's own novels. With the RSC's new production of A Christmas Carol starring Phil Davis opening in just over a month's time, this is a timely reminder of the love and estee in which the British public hold this author and this particular book. Samantha has done him proud!

Jessica Brockmole: Woman Enters Left

Published by Allison and Busby 8th August 2017


1926. Two friends, Ethel Wild and Florrie Daniels, embark on a cross-country adventure in Florrie's Model T. They are heading west each with an important destination: Florrie is moving to Hollywood to become a screenwriter, while Ethel is trying to catch up to her husband in Nevada before he's able to start divorce proceedings.1952. B-list movie star Louise Wilde learns she's inherited screenwriter Florence Daniels's entire estate. She is baffled and her confusion only grows when she discovers a cache of old photographs of Ms. Daniels with her mother, who died when Louise was six. She drives east hoping her father can provide some answers, and hoping, too, that the time away will give her a chance to decide what to do about her own troubled marriage.


Jessica's tale is quite unlike what I was expecting, and has basic, brilliant elements of mystery that hold it together. The interaction between Ethel and Florrie are terrific, but it's when Louise comes into the story that it really starts to take off. Jessica has captured the vital essence of 1920s America to perfection - this is a really engaging story with superb characters.

Anna Jacobs: Saffron Lane

Published by Allison and Busby 21st September 2017


Nell has come to feel very at home in her beautiful corner of Wiltshire with her partner Angus. What she could do with, however, is a challenge, and the prospect of bringing life back to an abandoned row of houses, Saffron Lane, is just what she's looking for.Stacy, lost and alone after a divorce she didn't see coming, is trying her best to start over. And Elise, battling her nieces who would force her into residential care, longs for a home where she can get back to her painting. When their paths cross, the future starts to look brighter although not all goes according to plan.


SamAnna is one of my most favourite historical writers and Saffron Lane, with its sparkling characters and amazing dialogue, is the perfect read after a long day doing what penioners do more of than when they were at work - and that's work! I could happily relax every night with an nna Jacobs book, and Saffron Lane is wonderful!

Hilary Lee-Corbin: Conkers and Grenades

Published by Matador 28th September 2017


Set in Bristol in 1916, in a world plunged into war, Conkers and Grenades follows Mar and Appy, two boys who discover a spy ring and a plot to assassinate the king and queen. Whilst trying to `do their bit' for the war effort, Mar and Appy unwittingly become entangled in a web of secret agents, codes and danger. People are not quite what they seem; they find friendship but also betrayal. Dragged into the world of spies and intrigue by the most unlikely person, they risk their lives but think that like their dads, who are fighting in France, they should also do their best to help. As well as coping with the spies, they have to put up with issues at home - there's never enough to eat and there's always the possibility that friends and relations, fighting at the front, will go missing in action. They also have to try to earn money to put extra food on the table for their families. Pitted against expert (and much older) adversaries, do Appy and Mar really stand a chance of coming out victorious? And in such an uncertain world, who can they really trust..?



Jane Austen: Sense And Sensibility

Published by Oxford World's Classics 28th September 2017


"Pray, pray be composed," cried Elinor, "and do not betray what you feel to every body present. Perhaps he has not observed you yet."

For Elinor Dashwood, sensible and sensitive, and her romantic, impetuous younger sister Marianne, the prospect of marrying the men they love appears remote. In a world ruled by money and self-interest, the Dashwood sisters have neither fortune nor connections. Concerned for others and for social proprieties, Elinor is ill-equipped to compete with self-centred fortune-hunters like Lucy Steele, whilst Marianne's unswerving belief in the truth of her own feelings makes her more dangerously susceptible to the designs of unscrupulous men.

Through her heroines' parallel experiences of love, loss, and hope, Jane Austen offers a powerful analysis of the ways in which women's lives were shaped by the claustrophobic society in which they had to survive.


A most handsome new hardbacked version of this timeless and much-loved classic, from Oxford University Press.

George Eliot: Silas Marner

Published by Oxford World's Classics 14th September 2017


Gold! - his own gold - brought back to him as mysteriously as it had been taken away!

Falsely accused of theft, Silas Marner is cut off from his community but finds refuge in the village of Raveloe, where he is eyed with distant suspicion. Like a spider from a fairy-tale, Silas fills fifteen monotonous years with weaving and accumulating gold. The son of the wealthy local Squire, Godfrey Cass also seeks an escape from his past. One snowy winter, two events change the course of their lives: Silas's gold is stolen and, a child crawls across his threshold.

Combining the qualities of a fable with a rich evocation of rural life in the early years of the nineteenth century, Silas Marner (1861) is a masterpiece of construction and a powerful meditation on the value of communal bonds in a mysterious world.


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.

Michael Doig: An Ordinary Life...?

Published by Matador 28th September 2017


Andrew's journey began with spiritual healing, and led into visiting spiritualist centres in England, Wales, Scotland and Sweden. His experiences sparked a desire to join various circles and experience literally hundreds of seances and hearing those addressed by those in spirit. Since his first tentative steps into the world of spiritualism, he has witnessed transfiguration, physical mediumship, and was involved in `rescue work'. He has seen many mediums giving fine examples of mental mediumship, and gained awareness of clairvoyance and clairsentience for himself. Andrew has also had the wonderful adventure of having spirits use him for psychic art. Equipped with his new knowledge, Andrew now realises that events in his life have been symbolic and a sign that his spirit guide has been with him throughout his life. He now wishes to share the same message of positivity and hope with others. An Ordinary Life...? is an excellent introduction to spiritualism from a personal viewpoint, and will provide encouragement for those who have been seeking deeper meaning in their own lives.



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.