John Wilcox: The Black Rocks of Morwenstowe
Published by Allison and Busby 18th May 2017
The year is 1832 and great change and reform are sweeping England, but 23-year-old Joshua Weyland is languishing in Key West, USA. He was third mate on the schooner Jessica, which had run aground in suspicious circumstances and the skipper has been arrested on charges of deliberately wrecking his ship. Josh is desperate to get back to England to marry his fiancé, so he ships as second mate on a small brig bound for Bristol. But when the ship founders on rocks off the coast of Cornwall, it’s clear it’s been deliberately wrecked, and it’s just a question of time before they seize the cargo – can Joshua stop them?
Fans of Poldark will thrill to this mighty adventure involving Joshua Weyland - this book has everything - thrills, spills and romance a-plenty!
Tony Foot: The Fortunes At War
Published by The Book Guild 28th April 2017
Captain James Fortune and Sergeant John Finch both reside in the same village
in Hampshire. Though they may share the same geography, they do not share the
same social status. They lead very different lives, but two factors link them
together. Firstly they both belong to the same regiment: the Rifle Brigade. The
second factor, however, is only known to one of them: they are related. The
story opens as rumours circulate regarding the likelihood of an outbreak of war.
The regiment is subsequently posted to the Crimean Penisular. The army lands and
we follow Fortune and Finch from the battle of the Alma to the eventual fall of
Sevastopol, where both men are involved in a secret and dangerous mission. Will
they survive the war and their mission? Or will only one of them discover the
truth behind their familial bond?
Heady mix of Poldark and Sharpe - sharply observed characters and the historical detail is superbly handled.
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Adult Book of the Month 1 - Conn Iggulden: Dunstan
Published by Michael Joseph 4th May 2017
From acclaimed historical writer Conn Iggulden comes a novel set in the
red-blooded days of Anglo-Saxon England. This is the original game for the
English throne. In the year 937, King Æthelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great, readies
himself to throw a great spear into the north. His dream of a kingdom of all
England will stand or fall on one field and the passage of a single day. At his side is Dunstan of Glastonbury, full of ambition and wit, perhaps
enough to damn his soul. His talents will take him from the villages of Wessex
to the royal court, to the hills of Rome - from exile to exaltation. Through Dunstan's vision, by his guiding hand, England may come together as
one great country - or fall back into anarchy and misrule . . . From one of our finest historical writers, Dunstan is an intimate
portrait of a priest and performer, a visionary, a traitor and confessor to
kings - the man who changed the fate of England.
The amazing Conn Iggulden's writing skills take on the Dark Ages - some overlap with Bernard Cornwell is inevitable, but it's great to have another brilliant author offering an alternative take on Alfred the Great's dynasty and vision. From being that period of British history that high school students dreaded, the Dark Ages are now vibrant and fascinating now that these great minds have unravelled the facts and added their own special characters and fitted them to what we actually know about the period. Stunningly good!
Adult Book of the Month 2 - Sarah-Jane Stratford: Radio Girls
Published by Allison and Busby 1st July 2016
1926, the BBC. The nation listens. A woman finds her voice. London, 1926. Maisie
Musgrave is thrilled to land a job at the fledgling British Broadcasting
Corporation whose new and electrifying radio network is captivating the nation.
Famous writers, scientists, politicians ? the BBC is broadcasting them all, but
behind the scenes Maisie is drawn into a battle of wills being fought by her two
bosses. John Reith, the formidable Director-General and Hilda Matheson, the
extraordinary Director of Talks Programming, envisage very different futures for
radio. And when Maisie unearths a shocking conspiracy, she and Hilda join forces
to make their voices heard both on and off the air... An intriguing historical
fiction novel with a brilliant blend of fact and fiction.
This is an absolute gem of a book, part novel, but with plenty of actual history interwoven as Maisie Musgrave secures a much-needed job at the fledgling BBC and finds herself embroiled in working with Lord Reith and Hilda Matheson as they vie with each other over what should and shouldn't be broadcast. Sarah-Jane's descriptions of her heroine play down the fact that she has a mind of her own and is ready to enter into the fray as politics engulf the new service, but Maisie gradually comes into her own to play a vital role in deciding what the corporation is to broadcast. Superb dialogue, faultless story-telling!
Mahsuda Snaith: The Things We Thought We Knew
Published by Random House 15th June 2017
Ravine and Marianne were best friends. They practised handstands together, raced
slugs and went into the woods to play. But now everything has changed.
Ten years later, Ravine lies in a bed plagued by chronic pain syndrome.
And her best friend Marianne is gone. How did their last adventure go so
wrong? Who is to blame? And where is Marianne? Heartbreaking, bittersweet
and utterly unforgettable, The Things We Thought We Knew is a powerful
novel about the things we remember and the things we wish we could forget.
How many of us have stayed in touch with childhood friends? I am "friends with one of my friends from my schooldays on Facebook, but that's about it. Mahsuda Snaith's study of long-lasting friendship is an eye-opener, and a very entertaining one at that...
Marcus Achison: Open To Doubt
Published by Matador 28th April 2017
An incredibly humorous book with the power to thrill, shock and inspire the
reader whilst they tear with laughter. Open To Doubt is a laugh-out-loud
collection of short humorous stories, adventure tales and spoof advertisements
covering a wide variety of topics such as heroic behaviour, travel, monkey oil,
the diary of Clovis Pumly and buttock maintenance, to name but a few! Compiled
in the style of a magazine, Open To Doubt includes a collection of hilarious
articles from 'Holiday Choices' by the none-too-bright reporter Barry Android,
to 'News for Clowns', the most informative newsletter for the working idiot
today. As well as articles on a variety of topics, this book also includes the
hallmarks of a traditional magazine including notorious agony aunt Marjorie,
recipe tips and advertisements for newly-opened restaurants to local
attractions. The tales of high adventure will astound, the crime reports will
startle and the informative advertisements will prove handy. Getting straight to
the heart of the action, Open To Doubt is based on everyday life which has been
tweaked, massaged and turned on its head. This collection is designed to be
dipped into by the reader until overcome with laughter. You will be amazed,
astonished and bewildered, but above all you won't be able to help but laugh.
Open To Doubt is guaranteed to make you laugh and will appeal to readers looking
for light comic relief.
It's a privilege and a pleasure to have a volume of short stories to review, and Marcus Achison's breadth and depth of subject matter is terrific. Sometimes all you want before you go to sleep is to be able to read something self-contained, and not to have to remember what happened in the bit of novel you read the night before... a most excellent collection.
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.