booksmonthly book blog  august 2018


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Welcome to the August Blog from Books Monthly - thirty of this month's very best published Books - click on the Images down the left hand Column to go straight to the relevant Book. Plenty of great new Titles this Month including three terrific Han Solo Books based around the new Film: Solo - A Star Wars Story; then there's the fantastic Evolution from DK edited by the superb Alice Roberts, and a peppering of magnificent new English Classics from the brilliant Alma Books. And on the other Page (Other books this Month) you'll find the Cover Images for all the many other Books that have come my way during the past Month. Do please let me know what you think by email at

  Book of the Month:

  Peter Robinson: Careless Love - Brilliant, brilliant,   brilliant!

  Published by Hodder & Stoughton 26th July 2018

A young local student has apparently committed suicide. Her body is found in an abandoned car on a lonely country road. She didn't own a car. Didn't even drive. How did she get there? Where did she die? Who moved her, and why? Meanwhile a man in his sixties is found dead in a gully up on the wild moorland. He is wearing an expensive suit and carrying no identification. Post-mortem findings indicate he died from injuries sustained during the fall. But what was he doing up there? And why are there no signs of a car in the vicinity As the inconsistencies multiply and the mysteries proliferate, Annie's father's new partner, Zelda, comes up with a shocking piece of information that alerts Banks and Annie to the return of an old enemy in a new guise. This is someone who will stop at nothing, not even murder, to get what he wants - and suddenly the stakes are raised and the hunt is on.


This is the 25th Banks novel and in my opinion, they just get better and better. I'm still mystified as to why ITV, who commission the TV series of Banks, saw fit to dispense with Annie Cabot, as she's still alive in Peter's books and holding her own very nicely indeed - she plays a major part in this latest caper and is definitely one of the best characters in the series. At first glance neither of the

incidents being investigated by Annie, and separately, by Banks, seem like murders, but more like suicides. There are extremely tenuous links between the two cases, however, and solid, fascinating police work begins to uncover that the links are, in fact, quite substantial, and lead to major investigations that soon have Banks as SIO leading this major enquiry. I was hooked from the beginning and it's fair to say that I was absolutely riveted to the pages of this 25th Banks caper by the time I'd read the first fifty or so pages.  I would give Careless Love a 10/10.


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  Prof. Alice Roberts: Evolution

  Published by Dorling Kindersley 10th July 2018

Fully updated with the latest discoveries and research, amazingly realistic illustrations and detailed maps plot eight million years of human development in the context of our genetics, anatomy, behavior, environment, migrations, and culture.  This unrivaled illustrated guide to human evolution brings you face-to-face with your ancient ancestors. Traveling back in time almost eight million years, the book charts the development of our species, Homo sapiens, from tree-dwelling primates to modern humans. Evolution investigates each of our ancestors in detail and in context, from the anatomy of their bones to the environment they lived in. Key fossil finds are showcased on double-page feature spreads. Detailed maps show where each species has been found and plot the gradual spread of humans around the world. The book has been fully updated to include the latest discoveries and research--including the newly discovered species Homo naledi--and presents the latest thinking on some of the most captivating questions in science, such as whether modern humans and Neanderthals interacted with each other. Written and authenticated by a team of acknowledged experts and illustrated by renowned Dutch paleoartists the Kennis brothers, Evolution presents the story of our species with unique richness, authority, and detail.


This is one of DK's finest books - ever. The story of evolution is told in mesmerising detail, with laymans' terms explanations at every stage, and with illustrations that are the trademark of every great DK book. The 3D facial reconstructions of various "hominins" by the Dennises are a revelation, and the overall layout of the book is stunning! My copy says "Prof. Alice Roberts" on the front cover, rather than "Dr.", and I have to say that Alice's editorship of this magnificent book takes DK's scientific books to a new level. Prof. Alice Roberts is one of my absolute favourites when it comes to TV presenters, she's up there with the likes of David Attenborough in my opinion, and her stewardship of this remarkable book is there for all to see. This is a book to be read, to be treasured, to be understood and to be enjoyed. It is informative, educational and entertaining. This is what books were intended for - you won't find the likes of this on the internet - for this type of material, you need a book, a large, heavy, beautiful book. Whoever thought this could be replaced by something on a small screen wants their head examining!. A superlative book is how I would describe this one. Absolutely superb! 10/10.


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  Three brilliant Solo books from DK!


All three books Published by Dorling Kindersley 25th May 2018

This essential visual guide to Solo: A Star Wars Story explores the world of young Han Solo in unparalleled detail. An authoritative companion to the latest Star Wars movie, Solo: A Star Wars StoryThe Official Guide features the fascinating planets, vehicles, and aliens that Han Solo encounters on his early adventures. Explore key characters, locations and props in captivating detail with extensive production photography and see the iconic Millennium Falcon as it's never been seen before, in an exclusive cross-section artwork by Richard Chasemore. This is the official guide to the Solo: A Star Wars Story, and introduces you to the characters, the locations, the spacecraft etc., and the story itself, of course. Sumptuously illustrated, it might just keep you going until the DVD/Blu Ray is released in late September...


Young readers will love this Han Solo book, packed with characters and adventures from the new Star Wars movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story. Discover the new heroes, villains, aliens, droids, and vehicles from the movie, plus fan-favorites Han, Chewie, Lando, and the Millennium Falcon. Improve your reading skills while learning about the world of young Han Solo. Solo: A Star Wars Story Han on the Run is a Level 2 Reader packed with fun facts for kids who are beginning to read. It is part of an innovative DK series of leveled reading books that combine a highly visual approach with engaging non-fiction narratives. This book tells the bare bones of the story for primary school readers - again it is brilliantly illustrated and uses words that all 7-11 year olds should know. Superb.


This fun Han Solo sticker book contains more than 1000 colourful stickers, and is full of Star Wars facts from the new movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story. Kids will love joining young Han aboard the Millennium Falcon for many thrilling adventures. Solo: A Star Wars Story Ultimate Sticker Collection is illustrated with action-packed images from the movie, accompanied by fun, easy-to-read reference text. Join the heroes and villains as they plan missions, explore new planets, perform daring escapes, and pilot superfast starships. The sticker book contains everything you need to complete a series of photographic scenes from the movie. The stickers are easily identified and this should give hours of pleasure to Han Solo fans. I haven't started mine yet, but I will get round to it. I now know everything I need to in order to be prepared for when I buy the Blu Ray in September! Three magnificent Solo: A Star Wars Story books from DK!


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  Paul Finch: Kiss of Death

Published by Avon 9th August 2018


The Sunday Times bestseller returns with an unforgettable crime thriller. Fans of MJ Arlidge and Stuart MacBride won’t be able to put this down. Don’t let them catch you… A Deadly Hunt: DS ‘Heck’ Heckenburg has been tasked with retrieving one of the UK’s most wanted men. But the trail runs cold when Heck discovers a video tape showing the fugitive in a fight for his life. A fight he has no chance of winning. A Dangerous Game: Heck realises that there’s another player in this game of cat and mouse, and this time, they’ve not just caught the prize: they’ve made sure no one else ever does. A Man Who Plays With Fire: How far will Heck and his team go to protect some of the UK’s most brutal killers? And what price is he willing to pay?


This is the first time I've had the privilege of reading a Heck Heckenburg novel - it reminded me of Jaes Bond and, to a lesser extent, The Saint, in the way that Heck often, it seems, faced with overwhelming odds, manages to survive. Some of it is a little far fetched but it's a rip-roaring fast action thriller, edge of the seat stuff, and hugely enjoyable!




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 Jane Hawking: Cry To Dream Again

Published Alma 28th June 2018


From the number-one bestselling author of Travelling to Infinity: The True Story behind The Theory of Everything. Book 2 in the Immortal Souls series. In 1930s Greater London, Shirley is a talented ballerina who dreams of becoming a principal dancer at the Sadler's Wells Ballet Company. Yet one summer, on the way back from staying with her grandparents in France, she meets a handsome young man, Alan, for a fleeting moment and her life changes for ever. Finding him becomes an obsession for Shirley and now she longs to fulfil her dreams in the ballet simply so that he might see her name in lights and know where to find her. With the outbreak of the Second World War, and those she loves in danger, Shirley's priority becomes to help in the war effort, but with Alan appearing once more in her life, and the war threatening to part them for a second time, she knows that she cannot cope if she were to lose him again.


Again, this is the second in a series where I've not had the chance to read book one... A beautiful package from Alma Books, who are fast becoming one of my favourite publishers, sees the second book in the trilogy move back in time from post-war to pre-war Britain. Jane's writing is intimate and revealing, her characters are extremely real people, and you can't help but get immersed into the story as it draws you in and enfolds you. Riveting stuff, beautifully written.


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  Aimee Lagos & Christiana Coop: This is Home

Published Chronicle Books 28th August 2018


Tastemakers Christiana and Aimee of Hygge & West know that the key to making a house into a home is in the decoration―whether that means embracing natural elements, creating cozy spaces, making room for family, or finding your own personal charm in every space. Hygge & West Home offers a look into 20 covetable homes designed to promote feelings of coziness, companionship, and comfort, from an intimate apartment in San Francisco to a log cabin in Wyoming, a family home in Minneapolis, and a colorful oasis in Brooklyn. With page after page of aspirational interiors, engaging interviews with home owners, and tips on creating similar feelings in any space, this eyecatching book explores what makes a house a truly personal space and offers readers the tools and inspiration to make their home their own.


A stunning book, beautifully photographed, offering inspiration and examples of ways to rearrange your home based on the very latest trends and designs.


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  Elisabeth Noreback: Tell Me You're Mine

Published by Allison and Busby 4th September 2018

Where is the line between hope and madness? Stella and her boyfriend were teenagers when their one-year-old daughter, Alice, vanished during a beach vacation. Though her body was never found, Alice was assumed to have drowned. Twenty-one years later, Stella is a happily married mother to a 13-year-old son and a successful therapist. But everything falls apart when a new patient walks into her office. The young woman introduces herself as Isabelle-but Stella is sure it's Alice. But when no one believes her, Stella begins to doubt her own mind. Even when her life is threatened, she can't convince anyone the danger is real. But for the chance to get her daughter back, Stella will risk anything: her license, her marriage, her life. And in doing so, she'll confront a series of chilling questions. What happened on the beach all those years ago? And if Alice is alive, why has she come back now? And how far will Stella go to save her?


An amazingly well-plotted thriller, in which a young woman seems to be the daughter everyone assumed had drowned when she was one year old. Full of intriguing twists and turns...


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  Anne Bronte: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Published by Alma 28th June 2018


Gilbert Markham is fascinated by Helen Graham, the beautiful and enigmatic woman who has recently moved into Wildfell Hall. He is swift to befriend her, but when local gossip calls Helen's character and behaviour into question, Gilbert begins to repent of his congeniality. It is only when Helen presents Gilbert with her diary and instructs him to read it that the shocking truth about the marriage she has escaped from becomes clear. An instant success, the first edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall sold out in weeks, yet was mired in controversy for what many contemporary critics viewed as its shocking subject matter and fierce defence of women's rights.


A beautiful new version of this timeless classic, once again from Alma Books who, for me, have taken over as the number one publisher of affordable and approachable English literary classics. This is one of the books I should probably have read before going to grammar school in 1957, but never got round to. In fact, this is my first real opportunity to read it, thanks to the Alma people, and I shall be starting it very soon.


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  H G Wells: The Island of Doctor Moreau

Published by Alma 24th May 2018


After the Lady Vain is shipwrecked, Edward Prendick is plucked from the waves by a passing ship and deposited on a remote island. Here he is the guest of Dr Moreau, whose notorious scientific methods had caused an uproar that left him with no choice but to flee London. Disquieted and appalled by the pained cries of suffering animals, Edward soon realizes that the Doctor is continuing and developing his depraved experiments, and that he too is in great danger. Shocking and suffused with contemporary fears regarding the morality of the latest advances in science and their possible implications for religion, The Island of Dr Moreau is both a ruthless social satire and an exploration of human nature.


Alma's superb H G Wells collection continues with The Island of Dr Moreau, another timeless classic and the inspiration for countless copycat pulp fiction adventures that were published in the 1930s. Wells remains one of my favourite adventure writers, and this is the best available version of a must-read Science Fiction classic.


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 Timothy Zahn: Thrawn Alliances

Published by Century 26th July 2018


“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.” Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root―its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs―including the Death Star project―the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown . . . and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance―neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.

Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged―by a test of their allegiance to the Empire . . . and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.


Timothy Zahn is one of the very best Star Wars authors, and he pulls out all the stops in Thrawn Alliances, which features two major characters from the original film trilogy, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, along with Zahn's previous creation, Grand Admiral Thrawn. This is not only classic science fiction, it is also one of the very best Star Wars Universe novels I have ever read!


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  Ausma Zchanat Khan: The Bloodprint

Published by Harper Voyager 26th July 2018


The author of the acclaimed mystery The Unquiet Dead delivers her first fantasy novel―the opening installment in a thrilling quartet―a tale of religion, oppression, and political intrigue that radiates with heroism, wonder, and hope. A dark power known as the Talisman has risen in the land. Born of ignorance and persecution, it is led by a man known only as the One-Eyed Preacher. A superstitious patriarchy, cruel and terrifying, the Talisman suppresses knowledge and subjugates women. And it is growing. But there are those who seek to stop the oppressive spread of the Talisman. A resistance formed of the Companions of Hira – a group of rebels versed in the power of ancient scripture, a magic known as the Claim – believe they have discovered the key to destroying the One-Eyed Preacher and his fervid followers: The Bloodprint. Finding this dangerous manuscript that the Talisman has tried to erase from the world promises to be their most dangerous undertaking yet: a perilous journey deep into Talisman territory which may prove to be their last.


There is growing evidence that female writers are equally as good as or even better than male writers at penning fantasy, and this example from Ausma Khan is living proof that that is the case. This is classic fantasy, faultless writing, fascinating plot and characters...


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  Hugh Lofting: The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Published by Alma 19th July 2018


John Dolittle is a highly respected doctor in the village of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, yet he loves animals so much that his house is soon full of them. With all his patients scared away, and the expense of feeding his menagerie mounting, a friend suggests that the Doctor become a vet instead. With the help of Polynesia the parrot, Doctor Dolittle swiftly learns the language of the animals so that he can talk to all of his new patients. However, when a message comes from Africa, telling of a terrible sickness among the monkeys there, the Doctor and his animal friends depart on a thrilling and dangerous adventure that they are never likely to forget. This new edition contains original illustrations and extra material for young readers including a glossary and a quiz-yourself section.


I remember my days on the Stevenage trailer library involving lending Dr Dolittle to countless young readers, and it is yet another book I have never been tempted to read. Until now. Another gem from Alma Books, a superb illustration on the front cover which simply demands that you read it! Absolutely superb!


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  Dominique Demers: The Adventures of Miss   Charlotte

Published by Alma 26th April 2018


Book 1: Mademoiselle Charlotte, the new teacher, is not like the others: she wears a large hat and a crumpled dress that make her look like a scarecrow, and she talks to a rock. The children think she is crazy at first, but soon realize she makes school more fun than ever, getting them to measure the room with cooked spaghetti in maths class, telling fascinating stories about a gorilla and even taking the pupils on at football. The first book in Dominique Demers s popular series, The New Teacher, brilliantly illustrated by Tony Ross, is an entertaining, imaginative and inspiring book that will make you wish you had a teacher just like Mademoiselle Charlotte.


Book 2: When the mysterious and eccentric Miss Charlotte arrives in the village of Saint-Anatole to take over the tiny library, the locals are surprised to find out that she does things differently. Wearing a long blue dress and a giant hat, she takes her books out for a walk in a wheelbarrow and shows the children that reading can be fun and useful. Sometimes she is so caught up in the magic of the stories she shares with her audience that she forgets all sense of reality - so much so that one day she loses consciousness and the children must find a way to bring her back.The second in Dominique Demers's popular The Adventures of Miss Charlotte series, The Mysterious Librarian, brilliantly illustrated by Tony Ross, is a wonderful story about the magical and inspiring power of books.


Book 3: Miss Charlotte - the new coach of a children's football team - has some odd methods to prepare them for the big match, including talking to the ball and drinking a special potion, smalalamiam. Also, she teaches them how to lose! And to have fun. Incredibly, it seems to work - but will their hopes of victory be dashed when their star player decides to join the other team? The latest instalment in Dominique Demers's popular Adventures of Miss Charlotte series, The New Football Coach, brilliantly illustrated by Tony Ross, is a marvellous tale about believing in yourself and beating the odds.


I can think of only one word to describe this superb trio of immensely funny children's books - enchanting. I'm struggling to think of an English author that Demers reminds me of, and failing. The three ordinary occupations Miss Charlotte takes up are dealt with with panache and style, and the laughs come thick and fast. Tony Ross's brilliant illustrations serve only to enhance the books, which are utterly charming.


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 Julia Donaldson & David Roberts: The Cook and the    King

Published by acmillan Children's Books 12th July 2018


There once was a very hungry king
Who needed a cook like anything . . . . . . but the king is very fussy, and none of the cooks he tries can make a dish that tastes just right. Then the most unlikely of chefs comes along: the shuffling, shaking Wobbly Bob. He’s scared of everything, from catching fish to digging for potatoes, but can he convince the hungry king to give him the job? The Cook and the King is a brilliantly funny story from the fantastic picture book partnership of Julia Donaldson and David Roberts, creators of Tyrannosaurus Drip. With clever rhyming verse and richly detailed illustrations, this is sure to become a firm favourite with children and adults alike.


This is the first book from Julia Donaldson I've received for review in over a year, and it is totally brilliant! A simple story, with oodles of repetition and hilarious illustrations by David Roberts. Children and their parents will love this one!




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  Rinat Hoffer: Shani's Shoebox

Published by Green Bean Books 1st February 2018


"Summer holidays are drawing near, so write your requests and put them in here." Aba wrote `Africa', Shani chose `Mars,' Gal drew pink ponies and pink candy bars! Ima counted the votes and they went to the beach, While the box was left on a shelf out of reach. This is the story of a shoebox with a pale grey lid and a stripe on the top. It came home for Shani on Rosh Hashanah and stayed with jher through all the festivals and seasons. One year on, the old box has been transformed. Once it was a box of shoes, now it's a box of memories. A clever and original story of a young girl, Shani, who uses an old shoebox for different Jewish festivalsthroughout the year. Starting with new shoes for Rosh Hashana, Shani uses the box for Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Chanukah, Tu B'shvat, Purim, Pesach, Yom Ha'atzmaut, Lag Ba'Omer, Shavuot - until she gets new shoes on Rosh Hashana again. A beautiful, gentle story for 4-8 year olds.


Green Bean books are published under the umbrella of Pen and Sword, and I guess this is something os an experiment for them - the story unfolds around a series of Jewish festivals, and is fascinating, charming, and thorougly enjoyable. I was totally captivated by it.


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  Virginia Clay: Warrior Boy

Published by Chicken House 6th September 2017


London schoolboy Ben is visiting his father's homeland of Kenya. Ben thinks he won't fit in with his estranged Maasai cousins but when he arrives, he finds there is a lot more at stake than his pride ... In a thrilling adventure of tribal culture and elephant conservation, Ben embarks on a journey of self-understanding and friendship.


Chicken House cntinue to publish thought-provoking and fascinating tales. Warrior Boy takes a London child out of his comfort zone and plonks him in the middle of an amazing adventure in the Kenyan world of the Maasai. Amazingly good!


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 Valija Zinck: A Tangle of Magic

Published by Chicken House 2nd August 2018


Penelope lives with her mother - her father died years ago. She has always been different from other children: for example, her hair has been grey since she was born. But one day, Penelope wakes up with sparkling red hair and her mother confesses the truth: her father is not only still alive, he's a wizard. Penelope has inherited his powers, and embarks on a journey to find him ...


A fascinating fantasy from Chicken House about Penelope, whose life changes the day she wakes up with red hair instead of the usual grey. The tangle of magic is a manifestation of a world Penelope was previously unaware of, and the adventures she has subsequently are thrilling and literally fantastic. Brilliant!


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Lindsay Galvin: The Secret Deep

Published by Chicken House 2nd August 2018


When Aster wakes alone on a tropical island, she has no idea what has happened, why she is there, or where to find her younger sister, Poppy. Meanwhile Sam, who once met the sisters on a plane, makes links between the mystery of their disappearance and suspicious happenings in his own life. In a stunning dual narrative, the truth unravels with devastating effect - and the answer lies in the secret underwater world surrounding the desert island, populated by the beautiful and the impossible ...


If I was looking for the inspiration behind this superb tale, I would have to say that the film The Abyss would maybe feature quite strongly, but quite often it's not about inspiration, it's the simple fact that the author has the imagination to write something quite extraordinary. This fourth offering from Chicken House this month is absolutely brilliant.


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  John Buckley & Paul Beaver: The Royal Air Force -   The First One Hundred Years

Published by Oxford University Press 9th August 2018


In 1918, the Royal Air Force became the first major independent air force in the world. Formed to serve a strategic need in the most intensive war that Britain had then fought, the RAF continued in the inter-war era to play a key role in the political and diplomatic world, and in defending the Empire. 

During the Second World War, the RAF was pivotal in defending Britain from invasion in the Battle of Britain, and then in leading the assault on the Axis powers, most notably through the contentious bomber offensive against Germany. 

In the post-war world, the RAF adapted and developed into a force to meet the needs of the United Kingdom during the Cold War, the retreat from Empire, and most recently in the move to coalition warfare against low intensity threats, all against a backdrop of diminishing resources and shifting priorities. 

This is the story of the RAF over the first century of its existence: how it has confronted the many challenges and threats it has faced ― from the Luftwaffe in 1940, through the spectre of nuclear holocaust in the Cold War, to the fight against terrorism in the 21st century ― and how it has contributed to the defence of the United Kingdom throughout that period.


The only fault I can find with this superb book is that there are not enough illustrations. The narrative is perfect, and Paul Beaver, whom I know from my days with British Aerospace Defence and all those Jane's books, does a stirling job alongside co-author John Buckley.


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  Michael Braddick: John Lilburne - The Common   Freedom of the People

Published by HaOxford University Press 9th August 2018


The second son of a modest gentry family, John Lilburne was accused of treason four times, and put on trial for his life under both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell. He fought bravely in the Civil War, seeing action at a number of key battles and rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, was shot through the arm, and nearly lost an eye in a pike accident. In the course of all this, he fought important legal battles for the rights to remain silent, to open trial, and to trial by his peers. He was twice acquitted by juries in very public trials, but nonetheless spent the bulk of his adult life in prison or exile. He is best known, however, as the most prominent of the Levellers, who campaigned for a government based on popular sovereignty two centuries before the advent of mass representative democracies in Europe. 

Michael Braddick explores the extraordinary and dramatic life of 'Freeborn John': how his experience of political activism sharpened and clarified his ideas, leading him to articulate bracingly radical views; and the changes in English society that made such a career possible. Without land, established profession, or public office, successive governments found him sufficiently alarming to be worth imprisoning, sending into exile, and putting on trial for his life. Above all, through his story, we can explore the life not just of John Lilburne, but of revolutionary England itself ― and of ideas fundamental to the radical, democratic, libertarian, and constitutional traditions, both in Britain and the USA.


Ah! This takes me back! In the 1980s I was studying the English Civil War for my Open Uuniversity Degree course, and Lilburne was one of the "big" names that figured large in those studies. The appetite for civil war texts is as strong as it ever was, and this is a welcome addition to an already massive library about the key figures of the most turbulent years in English history. Braddick's treatise on the life of John Lilburne is both scholarly and very readable.


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  James Holland: The Desert War

Published by Ladybird 26th July 2018


Why was North Africa such a key component in Britain's success over Mussolini and his Italian Army? How did they blunt Italy's actions? What challenges did they face? And what new technologies were brought to bear? When fascist dictator Mussolini declared war against Britain he was taking a huge risk . . . Italy lacked natural resources, and Britain and France's wealth. He hoped to create a new Roman Empire across the Mediterranean and into Africa. And with Hitler and the Nazi's by his side he had a great chance of doing so - but what was it that stopped him? Discover the answers and more inside James Holland's The Desert War, the thrilling and accessible account that explains what happened, who the key figures were and the tactics, triumphs and failures on both sides . . .


The latest in the new generation of Ladybird Books has crowd-pleaser James Holland taking a look at the war in the desert - the North African campaigns. Engaging and informative at the same time.


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  Catherine Gilbert Murdock: The Book of Boy

Published by Chicken House 2nd August 2018


A young outcast is swept up into a thrilling and perilous medieval treasure hunt in this literary page-turner by acclaimed bestselling author Catherine Gilbert Murdock. This epic and engrossing quest story is for fans of Adam Gidwitz's The Inquisitor's Tale and Grace Lin's Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and for readers of all ages. Features a map and black-and-white art by Ian Schoenherr throughout. Boy has always been relegated to the outskirts of his small village. With a large hump on his back, a mysterious past, and a tendency to talk to animals, he is often mocked by others in his town--until the arrival of a shadowy pilgrim named Secondus. Impressed with Boy's climbing and jumping abilities, Secondus engages Boy as his servant, pulling him into an action-packed and suspensful expedition across Europe to gather the seven precious relics of Saint Peter. Boy quickly realizes this journey is not an innocent one. They are stealing the relics and accumulating dangerous enemies in the process. But Boy is determined to see this pilgrimage through until the end--for what if St. Peter can make Boy's hump go away? A surprising and unforgettable tale for readers of all ages.


I'm not quite sure how to describe this tale other than to say that in my opinion it is a modern classic. It reads like a tale from a bygone age, the story itself might be something you could have read in the 1940s or 1950s. it is full of messages, and yet it is also a terrific adventure story. Enchanting, gripping, riveting, all of those descriptions apply. This is a remarkable book, a tale to treasure...


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  Pippa Goodhart: The Great Sea Dragon Discovery

Published by Catnip July 2018


Cambridge, 1860. Would a plant drink ink as happily as it would drink water? Is there anything that eats a cat? How did any spider know how to make such a perfect sticky net for catching flies? Bill's head is full of questions and it always seems to get him into trouble. Especially when one of his experiments causes his father to lose his job. Bill gets a bit of money for his family selling interesting fossils he has found. But it's not much and then someone else needs his help and fast. And it just so happens that Bill has discovered something something that could be the answer to his problems. But for the rest of the world, it is something that questions everything...


This is also a terrific book that will stir your imagination and leave you trying to dream up your own unanswerable questions... Pippa has a handle on a good story peopled with superb characters. Excellent, quirky, imaginative and perplexing at the same time...


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  Anne Rice: Blood Communion

Published Independently Chatto and Windus 4th October 2018


From his meticulously restored ancestral chateau high up in the mountains of France, Prince Lestat grapples to instil a new ideology of peace and harmony among the blood-drinking community. Accustomed to welcoming the Undead from far and wide, one night he awakes to news of a ruthless attack by a group of maverick blood-drinkers. 

After fleeing to investigate the terror, Lestat learns of several new enemies who despise his rule over the blood-drinking realm, and who are intent on disrupting the harmony he tries so hard to maintain. But is Lestat strong enough to take on such evil alone or will sacrifices have to be made? Will his cry for peace be heard in a world riddled with violence?

An enthralling, spellbinding adventure that sweeps from the snowy French mountains to the verdant wilds of Louisiana, on to the far reaches of the Pacific’s untouched islands and back to 18th-century St. Petersburg, Blood Communion will have readers gripped to the very end. It is not just a compelling tale of a troubled leader, but a novel about the power of ambition, as well as a timely reflection on the struggle of individuals to find and defend their place in the world.


I've never read any of the Vampire diaries, I think I might have been put off by the Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt film. Described as the best vampire story since Dracula, something I would take issue with because of Stephen King's Salem's Lot, this seems to me to be more of a gothic romance than a tale of terror such as Dracula and Salem's Lot, and the horror and terror aspects are in my opinion, played down.


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  Karin Slaughter: Pieces of Her

Published Harper Collins 9th August 2018


You’ve known her your whole life… Andrea Oliver knows everything about her mother Laura. She knows she's always lived in the small town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s a pillar of the community; she knows she's never kept a secret in her life. but she’s hiding something… Then one day, a trip to the mall explodes into a shocking act of violence and Andy suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. and it could destroy you both… Hours later, Laura is in hospital, her face splashed over the newspapers. But the danger has only just begun. Now, Andy must go on a desperate race to uncover the secrets of her mother's past. Unless she can, there may be no future for either of them…


I've been totally immersed in this one for a few days - to my mind, Karin Slaughter is the very best crime fiction author outside of the UK. This is a story of two timelines, and for me there was just a little too much of the backstory, which I felt got a little confusing (maybe I wasn't paying enough attention!) but the sections that are set in the present are sensationally good. Andy is a terrific character, and the things she discovers about her mother simply are not what I could ever have imagined, so well done Karin! Absolutely brilliant!


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  Anna Smith Spark: The Tower of Living and Dying

Published Harper Voyager 9th August 2018


KING OF RUIN. KING OF DUST AND SHADOWS. KING OF DEATH. HE WILL RULE ALL. THE KING IS COMING. Marith Altrersyr – father-killer, dragonlord, leader of the blood-soaked Amrath Army – is keeping his promises. He is determined to become King of all Irlast and take back the seat of his ancestors. Only Thalia, once high priestess of the Lord of Living and Dying, the holiest woman in the Empire, might stop Marith and his army’s deadly march. But she is torn between two destinies – and if she was to return home, what would she find there? A city on the brink of ruin: diseased, despairing, dying? Crawling through a tunnel deep under the ruins of her city, Landra Relast vows vengeance. Her family has been burned, her home destroyed, and now Marith – once her betrothed – must die. But as Landra cuts through the wasteland left in the wake of Marith’s army, she finds that she is not the only one who wishes him ill…


Tolkien really started something back in the 1950s, didn't he? Top notch pure fantasy from another great female fantasy writer - they're taking over from the men, make no mistake!


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  George R R Martin (Ed.): Mississippi Roll

Published Harper Voyager 9th August 2018


The return of the famous shared-world superhero books created and edited by George R. R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire. Perfect for current fans and new readers alike, Mississipi Roll is an all-new, adventurous jaunt along one of America’s greatest rivers, featuring many beloved characters from the Wild Cards universe. Edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin, Mississippi Roll features the writing talents of Stephen Leigh, David D. Levine, John Jos. Miller, Kevin Andrew Murphy, Cherie Priest, and Carrie Vaughn.


Another superb collection of SF/fantasy stories edited by George R R Martin featuring characters and tales from the Wild Cards universe. Will sell on the back of the editor's name, but it's reassuring to see that Harper Voyager, at least, sees the need for such anthologies at a time when you might have thought they'd gone out of fashion. Something for everyone in this book...


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  Sue Burke: Semiosis - A Novel of First Contact

Published Harper Voyager 9th August 2018


In this character driven novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke, human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance.

Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet's sentient species and prove that mammals are more than tools.

Forced to land on a planet they aren't prepared for, human colonists rely on their limited resources to survive. The planet provides a lush but inexplicable landscape--trees offer edible, addictive fruit one day and poison the next, while the ruins of an alien race are found entwined in the roots of a strange plant. Conflicts between generations arise as they struggle to understand one another and grapple with an unknowable alien intellect.


Highly original science fiction from yet another female writer. This has its origins in the works of Arthur C Clarke and his contemporaries, yet it's entirely bang up to date as regards style. I can imagine this being made into a film...


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  Anna Stephens: Darksoul

Published Harper Voyager 9th August 2018


The thrilling sequel to GODBLIND, the biggest fantasy debut of 2017. The Wolves lie dead beside Rilpor’s soldiers, slaughtered at the hands of the Mireces and their fanatical army. The veil that once kept the Red Gods at bay has been left in tatters as the Dark Lady’s plans for the world come to fruition. Where the gods walk, blood is spilled on the earth. All that stands between the Mireces army and complete control of the Kingdom of Rilpor are the walls of its capital, Rilporin, and those besieged inside. But hope might yet bloom in the unlikeliest of places: in the heart of a former slave, in the mind of a soldier with the eyes of a fox, and in the hands of a general destined to be king.


Pure, classic fantasy - if the examples in this month's edition are an indication of the way things are going in fantasy world, let the female writers take over, they are doing a superlative job! I didn't get to read Godblind, but it's now on my list of catch-ups! Anna's writing is faultless. The story is timeless. This is sheer indulgence on a grand scale!


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See you all in September... when there are soe major, stunning new books on the way!


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.