BOOKS MONTHLY May 2017

Coffee table stunners from RPS/Cico Books headline this month's finest... over 50 new Nonfiction titles this month!

 In this issue:

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Dorling Kindersley: Engineers

Published by Dorling Kindersley 4th April 2017

Full of incredible tales of achievement and ingenuity, Engineers celebrates the greatest engineers that ever lived and the stamp they have left on our world. Learn all about how engineering projects have changed the course of history and added to human progress, from those who built the Great Pyramid in Egypt to the Industrial Revolution and beyond. Discover the impressive structures of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the first forays into space travel, and the pioneering computer scientists of today. From initial concepts to prototypes and finished designs, Engineers is full to bursting with technical drawings, specially commissioned artworks, blueprints and virtual tours that help bring engineering's greatest structures, inventions and technological breakthroughs to life.

Adam Hart Davis is DK's science editor in chief, but this amazing book doesn't really need a big name to draw people in - the layout is familiar, the facts and the illustrations are amazing and inspirational, the entire book is a joy from start to finish!

 

Thane Prince & Matthew Biggs: The Great British Village Show

Published by Dorling Kindersley 3rd April 2017

DC Enter a world of tents, tea, and terrifically good jam with RHS Great British Village Show. Written by Thane Prince and Matthew Biggs, and with a foreword by Alan Titchmarsh, this is the only guide to a unique British tradition. Every year, hundreds of country shows and fairs take place across the UK. Celebrate this tradition and step behind the scenes of the British country show with insider facts and beautiful photographs that show you every aspect of preparing, presenting, and prize-winning on the big day. Discover how judges reach their nail-biting decisions by using official RHS guidelines for over 100 fruit, vegetable, and flower categories, and learn how to prepare show-quality preserves and bakes with tips from the experts. RHS Great British Village Show tells you exactly what the judges are looking for - and what to avoid. Packed with staging tips, expert guides, photo diaries, and prize-winning recipes, RHS Great British Village Show is a unique insider's look behind the scenes of a wonderful British tradition.

This stunning book has everything you need to guarantee success when displaying your fruit, vegetables, conserves and cakes at your village show. Beautiful illustrations and some truly mouthwatering recipes. Brilliant!

 

Clive Holden: Kent - Britain's Frontline County

Published by Amberley 15th April 2017

Kent’s military heritage is well known because of popular tourist attractions such as Dover Castle or Chatham Dockyard, but there are also many lesser-known sites dotted around the county, each with their own story to tell. Most of the sites included here date from the Second World War but there are also many military installations from other eras, from the eerie remains of the towers in the Thames Estuary to the magnificence of Fort Burgoyne.

Kent: Britain’s Frontline County examines the fascinating ways in which Kent has protected and defended Britain over the centuries. Local author and historian Clive Holden has carefully documented each of these secret gems and photographed them in full colour, giving the reader a wonderful insight into a lesser-known aspect of Kent’s proud heritage.

I've spent manuy happy weeks in Ramsgate on teenaged holidays in the 1950s - it's changed considerably since then, but Clive Holden's examination of Kent and the role it's played in the defence in the realm is a pure joy to read, well written, well researched and beautifully illustrated - a real gem!

 

 

David Field & Dave Mcornish: The Making of Prehistoric Wiltshire

Published by Amberley 15th April 2017

Well known for its World Heritage Sites of Stonehenge and Avebury, the prehistoric monuments of Wiltshire have long provided a focus of attention for archaeologists and visitors alike. Today the Wiltshire sites are perceived as an important focal point in British prehistory.

Yet there is much more to the prehistory of Wiltshire than Stonehenge, Avebury and Silbury Hill. The latter sites are of course all here, but so too are the widespread fields and enclosures of the Bronze Age that established a template across the countryside for later generations to follow, and the enormous hillforts of the Iron Age that stand sentinel-like overlooking the chalkland river valleys. Interesting sites abound, particularly on the wide expanses of uncultivated downland, and these provide a remarkable insight into past societies, economy and settlement. Prehistoric impact on the landscape was huge and the archaeology reveals the nature of development and changes across the countryside.

This volume provides an up-to-date account of the prehistory of Wiltshire from the earliest evidence for human occupation to the influence on the Romano-British countryside. It outlines the effect of past climate change on the topography and how animals and people established the landscape that we know today. The story is one of exuberant but excessive monument building, of innovation potentially fuelled by competition to impress, and of the struggle to subsist.

Proceeds from this book go to the Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Society.

Wiltshire, more than any other county, is the focus for the most intense pre-historical archaeology, for obvious reasons. We should remember, however, that during the period we're talking about, there would have been no such county distinctions, the areas delineated purely by tribal boundaries. Absolutely fascinating look at Wiltshire's archaeological heritage.

 

Dorling Kindersley: Architecture - A Visual History

Published by Dorling Kindersley 1st June 2017

Architecture tells the story of the world's most incredible buildings, from the ancient world to the present day. Take a closer look at the beautiful details, principal elements, and decorative features of every architectural style, from China's Temple of Heaven and the Great Mosque of Damascus, to the Guggenheim museum and the London Olympic Velodrome. Architecture offers a truly worldwide look at historical and contemporary building, with breathtaking photography, intriguing cross-sections, and unique CGI artwork. Now fully updated, this stunning new edition covers contemporary architecture and green buildings, with incredible new photography to transport you to the most interesting and iconic buildings on earth.

If you wanted a book on art, or archaeology prior to the publication of this one by Dorling Kindersley, you would have looked in the Thames and Hudson catalogue. But for me, the layout and design of the DK books on subjects like science, history, and now archaeology, are second to none, and this could well become the reference Bible on the subject for years to come. Sensational!

 

 

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Book of the Month - Robert O'Byrne & Simon Brown: Romantic English Homes

Published by Cico Books 28th February 2017

A unique collection of timeless English houses featuring original photography make this a book to treasure. Ever since the English aristocracy embarked on a Grand Tour in the seventeenth century, the passion for developing collections has been a national trait of England. As a result, the country's aristocratic palaces became repositories of treasure gathered from around the globe. But so too, thanks to the spread of an Empire providing goods from across the globe, did almost every residence in England. Romantic English Homes features 13 such houses, the majority never before photographed. Large or small, old or new, they all convey an impression of massed objects intentionally mingling styles and tastes, the classical placed next to the gothic, tartan pattern competing with floral print. Decorated with defiant eclecticism, the buildings featured here, brought to you by Robert O'Byrne, indicate that although the Empire may have gone, the English love of collecting remains as strong as ever. Criss-crossing the country, from Dorset, Devon and Cornwall to East Anglia and Suffolk, from London to Shropshire, it is both the romantic timelessness of these properties and their many-layered appearance that makes them so alluring.

 

There's a whole section of monthly periodicals on home style, in which they explore new ranges of colours(?), designs, furniture etc., and another whole set of them where they take you on two-dimensional guided tours of upper class houses... They're beautiful magazines, and we get a lot of inspiration from them for how we arrange things in our own house. The second type of magazine, where you look around someone's home, is equally inspirational, although sometimes out of our budget range. Then there are books of a similar nature. This one is published by Cico books, and is pure eye candy. It's a coffee table book full of the most sumptuous room designs and their owners' furniture, ornaments, arrangements etc.It's a stunning coffee-table book that will impress both you and anyone who visits your home. Magnificent!

 

Glenda Bailey: Harper's Bazaar - 150 Years - The Greatest Moments

Published by Abrams 11th April 2017

America’s first fashion magazine, Harper’s Bazaar has showcased the visions of legendary editors, photographers, and stylists and featured the works of noted writers since 1867. From its beginnings as a broadsheet aimed at the rising leisure class, the publication has since transformed into a magazine devoted to examining the lives of women through the lens of fashion. In celebration of the magazine’s 150th anniversary in 2017, Harper’s Bazaar: 150 Years captures the greats who have shaped the magazine over these decades.

 

I have to admit that although this is an incredibly handsome volume, I was disappointed at the amount of space devoted to the 19th century and early 20th century - there is in my opinion far too much concentration on the people we all know and expect to see in Harper's Bazaar, i.e. people who figured large in the post-2nd World War years. This was a missed opportunity to publish some rare and nostalgic pictures of people from older history. A beautifully produced and printed coffee table book, but it's really a collection of people you'd expect to find in a celebrity magazine from the 1950s onwards.

 

Sara Emslie: Urban Pioneer

Published by RPS 4th April 2017

Urban living is soaring in popularity as we flock to cities to pursue jobs, easy commutes, and other amenities. New pressures on housing mean that pioneering homeowners are converting ex-industrial, non-residential spaces into innovative homes. The conversion of such buildings into residential spaces first emerged in the 1960s and ‘70s. A decline in manufacturing in city centres meant that many warehouses and factories became vacant, attracting the first wave of urban pioneers—artists and creatives seeking cheap rents and large interiors to use as studio spaces. Since then, industrial areas in many cities have become sought-after residential districts and urban regeneration has gone from strength to strength. Nowadays the trend shows no sign of waning, with a second generation of urban pioneers cleverly converting former lofts, warehouses, schools, factories, offices, and retail spaces into highly desirable homes full of personality and soul. In Urban Pioneer, Sara Emslie investigates the practice for transforming non-residential spaces into homes, the key elements of the look—from exposed brickwork to copper piping and metal roof trusses—and the related rise in the popularity of industrial design. She then explores 12 inspiring and varied real-life homes that showcase the very best of the Urban Pioneer look.

 

The nearest thing to what Sara describes in this fascinating book, that I can think of, is a converted oast house in Dereham. Frankly, anything that helps the housing crisis in the UK is a great idea, except such conversions here are rarely cheap or affordable. Sara's case studies are brilliant, and the whole book is something of an eye-opener.

 

Emily Chalmers: Modern Vintage Style

Published by RPS 7th February 2017

In Modern Vintage Style, Emily Chalmers—interiors stylist and owner of hip boutique Caravan—shows how using vintage items in a contemporary context can introduce humor, flair, and personality to any home. Think antique and brand new, machine-made and handcrafted, shiny smooth and distressed, plastic and porcelain, all mixed up in a fresh, original way. Decorating should be fun and inspiring, so there are no style diktats; no “this-must-go-with-that”. Modern vintage is all about trusting your instincts and taste and using a bit of imagination in seeking out the right items to create a perfect balance of old and new. In the first section of the book, Inspirations, Emily offers up imaginative and varied examples of furniture, lighting, textiles, decorating, and collections & display. In the second section, Style, she shows you exactly how to pull the look together, applying her decorating philosophy so you can cook & eat, live, sleep, and bathe in tune with Modern Vintage Style.

 

This is a lady after my own heart! There is always room for something from a different era inyour decor - I have a whole shelf of 1950s children's books in one bedroom, for example, and they sit happily side by side with modern pictures and ornaments. Emily's book contains so much commonsense, it's inspirational and attractive, and ultimately just absolutely brilliant!

 

Willow Crossley: The Art Of Living With Nature

Published by Cico Books 7th March 2017

"Garden centers and flower shops are two of my favorite places in the world—I feel calm the moment I walk in. The scent of the flowers, the greenery, the wholesome wooden tools, the exotic orchids... Throw an antique shop into the mix and I’m in decorating heaven." Willow Crossley. Learn how to make beautiful, nature-inspired, decorations, and arrangements with The Art of Living with Nature. Divided into five separate chapters: Woodland, Flora, Fauna, Edibles, and Beach, The Art of Living with Nature contains 50 innovative ideas to decorate your home, ranging from hellebores displayed in test tubes to wreaths made from hydrangeas. Filled with tips and useful techniques to make the most out of your blooms, there will be a project to suit every occasion—whether you need napkin rings made of sea urchins, a stunning display of spring narcissi planted in wooden wine boxes, or a stylish wall display of antlers and feathers. By combining her passions for the great outdoors and natural beauty, Willow provides instructions about how to make the most of your flower-shop purchases, beachcombing bounty, home-grown harvests, and hedgerow finds.

 

TV designers talk about bringing the outside in, and making your front room an extension of your garden space... Willow's beautiful book concentrates on just that, and the results are spectacular!

Ros Byam Shaw: Perfect French Country

Published by RPS 4th April 2017

In Perfect French Country Ros Byam Shaw celebrates relaxed rural France at its finest, visiting timeless and beautiful French country homes that feature ancient beams, stone fireplaces, paneled rooms, and attics under steeply-pitched roofs. In a busy modern world that seems increasingly overcrowded and monopolized by technology, the allure of the ‘good life’ is more potent than ever. As an antidote to texts and tweets, traffic jams and queues, additives and packaging, we seek out the simple and the wholesome, and long for the luxuries of space and fresh air. France can offer all these things, with its traditional farming methods, its authentic regional cuisine, and its low population density. Add to this the inimitable French sense of style and joie de vivre, and you have all the ingredients for an enviable way of life. Perfect French Country revels in the timeless and authentic beauty of the French country home.

 

This extraordinarily beautiful volume compliments Romantic English Homes (above) to a certain extent - there's a subtle difference between continental and traditional English design, but again, what we have is a stunning coffee table book that simply should not be left unopened. There is so much inspiration, so much beauty on show in this book!

Hannah Miles: Cheesecake

Published by RPS 9th February 2017

Discover your dream dessert in this collection of scrumptious recipes. From Tropical Coconut to Raspberry Ripple, Chocolate Toffee Crunch to Toasted Marshmallow - find your own little slice of cheesecake heaven and dig in. Cheesecakes are one of the oldest desserts in existence, traceable back to ancient Greece, where they were served to the Olympic athletes. And it’s no wonder they have been around so long! Simple to make and undeniably irresistible, Cheesecake celebrates this most beloved of desserts. A chapter on the Classics includes simple Baked Vanilla, Raspberry Ripple, and Mini Chocolate Chip cheesecakes. Whatever the time of year, Fruity cheesecakes are the best way to enjoy whatever is in season; try Strawberry and Clotted Cream, Champagne and Pink Rhubarb, or Bananas Foster. For those with the most incurable of sweet tooths, Candy Bar cheesecakes are packed with your favorite confections—from peanut brittle to rocky road cheesecake—while Gourmet recipes add a touch of contemporary sophistication, including Salted Honey, Chocolate Chile, and Crème Brulée varieties. Party cheesecakes offer truly original ideas for brightening any occasion, from pretty Trifle Cheesecakes in glass jars to irresistible Cheesecake Pops! And finally, International skips over the globe to bring you cheesecakes in flavors such as Japanese Cherry Blossom and Italian Tiramisu.

 

I have a daughter who has missed out on one of the very finest chocolate desserts in the world, chocolate cheesecake, because she doesn't like the idea of cheese being part of a dessert. In many ways, I have similar hang-ups - apple sauce and pork, cranberry sauce and turkey, these are no-nos for me, fruit doesn't go with meat in any way, shape or form. But cheesecake is yummy! Hannah's sumptuous book takes us on a journey of discovery - so many different mouth-watering recipes! Amazing!

Susan Akass: My First Card-Making Book

Published by Cico Kidz 7th February 2017

35 step-by-step card-making projects for children aged 7+. Whatever the occasion, you’ll find the right card to make in My First Card-Making Book. In Chapter 1, Everyday Cards, there are lovely ideas such as the felt flower card, patchwork card, and button nest card. The cards in Chapter 2, Fun Cards, will help you bring a smile to someone’s face with ideas including the finger puppet card and lollipop card. You can make the holidays really special with the creative cards in Chapter 3, Festive Cards, including the cut-out bauble card, cosy fur-trimmed cards, and cute and easy color-in Christmas card. Finally, in Chapter 4, Special Occasions, you’ll find celebratory cards to mark special occasions such as getting married or having a baby, as well as Easter and Valentine’s Day cards. Each of the projects is broken down into simple illustrated steps and has a skill rating, starting with very easy and progressing as you become more experienced at card-making. Get started now, and make someone’s day with a home-made card, crafted with love.

 

Everything you need to get you started on making your own greetings cards (except for the printer and the printer ink, of course! And the card...)

 

Mari Ono: Origami Animal Friends

Published by Cico Books 14th March 2017

Open your dream pet store with these 35 fun paper-based projects. All animal lovers are going to go wild for the 35 amazing activities in Origami Animal Friends. With just a few pieces of paper you can create all your favorite pets, including cute cats, dogs, rabbits, and horses alongside creepy crawlies, fish, frogs, birds, and lots more. The clear step-by-step instructions are so simple to follow that means anyone can have a go, no matter if you are a first-time folder or origami expert. Best of all, Origami Animal Friends comes with a pack containing 50 specially designed pieces of origami paper, so you can start making your first cute creature right away.

 

I have always been in awe of people who make these complicated shapes out of paper. This is a wonderful introduction to the art of origami, as applied to the creation of small paper animals. Brilliant!

Nicki Trench: Learn To Crochet

Published by Cico Books 4th April 2017

Learn to crochet with designer and teacher Nicki Trench. Nicki Trench has taught hundreds of people how to crochet, so she knows what beginners need: clear instructions, and simple patterns on which to practise their newly-learned skills. Learn to Crochet starts with a step-by-step techniques section to teach you all the basic stitches and skills. Once you've learned the basics, there are 25 patterns for accessories to wear, items for the home, and bags and covers for the things you carry with you. The specific skills you will need are listed at the beginning of each pattern, so you can double-check that you have mastered them before you start. Practice makes perfect, and with 25 patterns to choose from, you’ll soon be able to crochet with confidence

 

Nicki Trench teaches you how to crochet - something else I've never tackled (and probably now never will) but admired from afar. Clear, concise instructions with superb illustrations.

Hannah Miles: Pancakes & Waffles

Published by RPS 7th February 2017

From classic breakfast pancakes with whipped maple butter to potato waffles with BBQ beans, here you’ll find 28 delicious ways to enjoy the ultimate in comfort food any time of the day. Like to start your lazy weekend with a stack of buttermilk pancakes dripping with maple syrup? Enjoy indulging in fluffy pancakes topped with melting ice cream drowning in hot sauce for dessert? Or perhaps crisp waffles oozing with melted cheese and on a cozy night in? Whatever way you choose to serve them, pancakes and waffles are the ultimate comfort food and universally loved. But they can be so much more than a leisurely brunch or quick dessert option; pancakes and waffles can be endlessly reinvented to make tasty and satisfying meals and treats for any time of day, and here are some wonderful recipes to get you started! A chapter of WHOLESOME & HEARTY recipes includes nutritious recipes to kick start your day including Protein Pancakes; Oatmeal Pancakes with Berry Compote and Granola Pancakes with Salty Honey Sauce. FRESH & FRUITY recipes to try include Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Lime Sauce or Pear and Ginger Waffles—all perfect for teatime indulgence. Make sure you save room for dessert—DECADENT & DELICIOUS treats include Oreo Pancakes with Chocolate Fudge Sauce and Salted Caramel Waffles. And don’t stop with the sweet options—SAVORY & SATISFYING recipes make the perfect lunch or breakfast-for-dinner option: try Beer and Bacon Pancakes, Squash and Goat Cheese Pancakes or Huevos Rancheros Waffles.

 

Another mouth-watering recipe book from Cico, this time it's pancakes and waffles. They've been around in the UK for quite a while, but nowadays they're viable alternatives to cereals and milk for breakfast, and it's just as well there are people like Hannah around to help us make sense of it all. Having given us the lowdown on cheesecake she now turns her attention to a series of stunning recipes for pancakes and waffles. Let's cook!

Cico Books: My Gardening Journal and Planner

Published by Cico Books 2nd February 2017

Everyone who loves their garden needs to make notes about plans and projects, about plants and growing tips. This beautifully illustrated journal is the answer to a garden-lover’s dreams: a personal organiser, divided into six tabbed sections, where you can gather information about plants and record all the developments in your garden month by month and year by year. There is a section devoted to planning your garden, with squared paper so you can sketch out your planting schemes, followed by sections on flowers, trees and shrubs, vegetables, herbs and fruit – where you can build up lists of plants to introduce into your garden. The Useful Addresses section offers plenty of space for adding contact details of favourite garden centres and suppliers.

 

Some people need organisational skills when it comes to gardening; others simply are not aware that they need such organisational skills. The only thing I write down is my shopping list. I sometimes forget to take it with me, and sometimes, even if I have it with me, I miss something on it and go home without it. The beauty of this garden journal and planner is that it looks for all the world like a beautiful book, and it does contain plenty of stunning illustrations and suggestions; and it will not look out of place on the shelf among your gardening books...

Orsini Michelle McKee: Handmade Birdhouses and Feeders

Published by Cico Books 4th April 2017

Watching birds in the garden is a real treat and providing food, water and safe places to nest will ensure that you have birds visiting your garden all year round. With 35 beautiful projects, this book shows you how to create stylish homes for all sorts of birds, as well as attractive feeders. Many of the birdhouses in the book follow a basic shape, each one decorated and finished in a different way. There are also projects for wall-mounted and multi-storey birdhouses. Most importantly, these birdhouses are designed to suit the needs of nesting birds, with ventilation, drainage, clean-out doors and dimensions that are suitable for their future occupants. Using just basic woodworking skills, each project has clear, step-by-step instructions and illustrations and beautiful photography that will guide even the novice woodworker.

 

There is nothing more exhilarating or exciting than seeing garden birds coming to feed in your garden. Feeders and packets of seed are available in most towns for £1 a time, and there's a huge variety of stuff to tempt our feathered friends on sale everywhere. This lovely book has detailed and concise instructions for making birdhouses and feeders for those of you who want to take it one stage further, Superb!

Andrew Rawson: Treachery and Retribution

Published by Pen and Sword 28th February 2017

This is the history of England's turbulent times, told through the stories of the country's nobility. The book begins with the Norman Conquest in 1066 and ends with the union of England and Scotland in 1707. The nobility fought wars against Scotland in the north and against France on the Continent. They conquered Ireland and Wales and then had to deal with the rebellions that followed. This is the story of their abduction plots and assassination attempts and the brutal retribution when the treachery failed. It recalls the barons' rebellions and the peasant uprisings against the king. It also explains the reasons behind the family factions who fought for the crown, the most famous example being the War of the Roses. Also covered are the noble marriages arranged by the king to reward loyalty and maintain the balance of power. It tells of the children betrothed to marry, the failed marriages of convenience and the secret marriages for love. Learn how Henry VIII introduced new problems when he appointed himself head of the Church of England. Successive monarchs switched between the new church and the Catholic Church. Then there was the challenge to Charles I's rule in the Civil Wars. The story ends with the union of England and Scotland and the creation of Great Britain in 1707. It was also the end of the period of treachery and retribution which had plagued the English crown for nearly 650 years.

 

This fascinating book looks at the dangers of being a member of the nobility through almost 700 years, from the Norman conquest to the creation of Great Britain in 1707. Extraordinary accounts of murders, kidnappings, rebellions and all manner of unpleasantness relating to the landed gentry...

Rachel Bilton: Prisoners and Escape

Published by Pen and Sword 28th January 2017

A wide range of personal experiences are covered in the eleven chapters of this book. Nearly all the stories are written by the participants who describe exactly what happened to them during the war. What makes them special is that they were written while the images were fresh in their minds. The experiences recorded are those of civilians and soldiers. Where possible information about these men has been provided to explain their life before and after the war. Also included are rarely seen images that augment the text. The writers tell true stories of spying, escape from certain death, escape from captivity and working for the Germans to help the Allied war effort. Edwin Woodhall describes his work in counter-intelligence, spies, counter-spies and disguises, in the early days of the war. Harold Beaumont tells the dramatic story of his escape through Belgium where he was helped by Nurse Cavell. The hardships and difficulties an escaper faced are detailed by Walter Ellison, who failed to get away, while a successful escape is told by Duncan Grinnell-Milne who returned to flying over the Western Front and quickly found himself in no man's land when his plane crashed.Captain Evans was eventually a successful escaper as was H. G. Durnford who managed to escape the first time. Marthe McKenna, one of the most famous spies in the war, tells of the time she was ordered to investigate and assist in a plot to assassinate the Kaiser. Esmee Sartorius tells of her escape to Holland at the start of the war, and the breath-taking thrills of two men disguised as German officers is told by Lieutenant Marchal. The final story describes how Trooper Potts escaped certain death while rescuing his friend on Burnt Hill in Gallipoli.

 

An amazing collection of personal stories and reminiscences by people who were actually imprisoned during the Great War...

 

Caroline Jowett: The History of Newgate Prison

Published by Pen and Sword Books 28th February 2017

As the place where prisoners, male and female, awaited trial, execution or transportation Newgate was Britain's most feared gaol for over 700 years. It is probably best known today from the novels of Charles Dickens including Barnaby Rudge and Great Expectations. But there is much is more to Newgate than nineteenth century notoriety. In the seventeenth century it saw the exploits of legendary escaper and thief Jack Sheppard. Author Daniel Defoe who was imprisoned there for seditious libel, playwright Ben Jonson for murder, Captain Kidd for piracy were among its most famous inmates. This book takes you from the gaol's 12th century beginnings to its final closure in 1904 and looks at daily life, developments in the treatment of prisoners from the use of torture to penal reform as well as major events in its history.

 

Caroline Jowett describes one of the most famous and at the same time most infamous of Britain's jails, from the 1100s to 1904, when it was finally decommissioned. An amazing, entertaining and informative book!

 

Ian B Stark: Fast Movements Make All Runners Winners!

Published by Matador 28th March 2017

Fast Movements make ALL runners winners! shows how rapid movements makes all runners physically and financially winners, no matter how good or bad they are. This helpful study on running and lifestyle changes lists the extensive long term advantages that come from exercising regularly. Unlike other studies on the importance of exercise, diet and lifestyle, Ian explains that sugars are actually a necessary part of life and should be encouraged for those who exercise. The current obsession with changing our diet as a method of controlling weight gain, and avoiding type 2 diabetes, is cited as part of the current problem (as this should be secondary to exercise). Fast Movements make ALL runners winners! also suggests that by making small positive changes to how we think about diet and lifestyle will reduce the continuing rise in obesity, which has been prevalent for more than 40 years. For Ian, we should eat to live, not live to eat; we should use calories instead of burning calories. These, and other slight changes in our psychology, could move our thinking along and make society a much healthier place. This book will appeal to health professionals and scientists in the field of physiology as well as those with a general interest in diet, exercise and lifestyle. Ian was inspired by Dieting Makes you Fat by Geoffrey Cannon.

 

Andrew Kirk: Biographic Leonardo

Published by Ammonite Press 7th March 2017

The Biographies series presents an entirely new way of looking at the lives of the world's greatest thinkers and creatives. It takes the 50 defining facts, dates, thoughts, habits, and achievements of each subject, and uses infographics to convey each of them in vivid snapshots. The result is a quickfire journey through truths and trivia that is the most entertaining way to follow in the footsteps of the men and women whose lives have most influenced our own. Many people know that Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath, one of the great creative minds of the Italian Renaissance. What, perhaps, they don't know is that as an ambidextrous, paranoid dyslexic, Leonardo could draw forwards with one hand while writing backwards with the other; and that he invented an armoured car, a flying ship and contact lenses. Biographic: Leonardo presents an array of irresistible facts and figures converted into infographics to reveal the master behind the masterpieces.

 

There are so many things we don't know about Leonardo, some of which are covered in this excellent little biography - the layout is reminiscent of some of the recent DK books, not a linear progression through his life but probably written by someone used to giving presentations, and often presented as though he was a suspect in a murder enquiry... fascinating facts, presented in an unconventional way, perhaps, but a total joy to read and absorb. Same goes for Viv Croot's excellent book on Shakespeare (below),

 

Viv Croot: Biographic Shakespeare

Published by Ammonite Press 7th March 2017

The Biographies series presents an entirely new way of looking at the lives of the world's greatest thinkers and creatives. It takes the 50 defining facts, dates, thoughts, habits, and achievements of each subject, and uses infographics to convey each of them in vivid snapshots. The result is a quickfire journey through truths and trivia that is the most entertaining way to follow in the footsteps of the men and women whose lives have most influenced our own. Many people know that Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath, one of the great creative minds of the Italian Renaissance. What, perhaps, they don't know is that as an ambidextrous, paranoid dyslexic, Leonardo could draw forwards with one hand while writing backwards with the other; and that he invented an armoured car, a flying ship and contact lenses. Biographic: Leonardo presents an array of irresistible facts and figures converted into infographics to reveal the master behind the masterpieces.

 

Liz Parker: A Life Lived

Published by The Book Guild 28th April 2017

Liz Parker tells her memoirs, which cover a myriad of topics. She starts when she was born in India, then recalls how at the age of four she was sent to boarding school in England. After that, she studied drama and met and married a talented actor. They divorced after seven years and she was left to bring up two young daughters alone. Her second husband died and she then had a son to care for. Liz developed cancer, but after a successful unorthodox treatment she decided to leave England at the age of 59. She bought a run-down Taverna and yacht club on a tiny island in Greece. Her middle daughter helped her to run the idiosyncratic outpost. Tragedy then struck again on the idyllic island, leaving Liz alone once more. Liz's memoir is by turns harrowing, uplifting, fascinating and bittersweet. Stories of her flamboyant lifestyle during her time in the theatre and films, where she met famous stars, are contrasted sharply by a life of struggle and hardship as a single parent. Liz's awareness of feminist issues and her refusal to accept standard treatment for cancer led to a change in her beliefs and ultimately the courageous decision to move to Greece ­which brought more challenges and painful outcomes.

 

William Miller: Royal Mail Liners 1925-1971

Published by Amberley 15th March 2017

The Royal Mail has, for over 500 years, provided a crucial service in keeping people connected by land, sea and air. As the British Empire grew, so too did the need for a fleet of liners to service it, and in 1839 Queen Victoria granted the initial Royal Charter incorporating the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. After running into financial trouble, the company was reconstituted as Royal Mail Lines in 1930.

With his superb collection of rare images, Bill Miller brings to life the ships that operated for the line in the twentieth century. Covering the turbulent period of the Second World War, as well as more peaceful and prosperous times, this collection of images illuminates the stories behind some of the great iconic liners. Some of the ships featured include RMS Asturias and RMS Alcantara, at the time the largest motor ships in the world, and the RMS Magdalena, which sank on its maiden voyage in 1949.

 

Before today's instant communications via email and Skype, there was airmail and surface mail. Surface mail to another country, of course, meant going by boat. William Miller's latest book about ocean going liners features those that carried Royal Mail. Stunning photos and fascinating historical text. Brilliant!

 

Villager Jim: More Labradorable

Published by Cico Books 17th March 2017

Join Barnaby the labrador and Villager Jim as they meet their animal friends. Villager Jim has been described as the Banksy of wildlife photography, his identity a closely-guarded secret. His photographs have won awards and one of them – “After the Walk” – is the most-viewed Labrador picture in the world. His popular Facebook page, www.facebook.com/VillagerJim, has over 100,000 followers who check in daily for new photographs of the beautiful Peak District countryside and the animals that live there. He is also the author of Labradorable, and lives in Derbyshire.

 

Villager Jim is one of the people we follow on facebook - he is a talented and  intuitive photographer with an uncanny eye for wildlife photography and an unerring sense of fun when it comes to photographing dogs!

 

Sally Bailey: Simple Home

Published by Ryland Peters & Small 7th March 2017

A beautifully illustrated guide to creating a home interior free from clutter and the joy of keeping things simple. Mark and Sally Bailey's style has been evolving for over 25 years in their Herefordshire home and business, Baileys Home & Garden. Their backgrounds in architecture, interior design and furniture-making have lead to collaborations with the music and fashion industries, retailers and in product design. Mark and Sally have worked with Ralph Lauren, Paul Smith, Donna Karan, Liberty, Conran, Takashimaya and Habitat.

 

As a couple we have far too many "things" to adapt to a simple home, but I can see how this might appeal to some people... stunning photography!

 

Caroline Clifton-Mogg, Joanna Simmons & Rebecca Tanqueray: Space Works

Published by Ryland Peters & Small 14th March 2017

A comprehensive guide to designing, decorating, and furnishing your home. Caroline Clifton-Mogg is the author of many best-selling books, many of them published by Ryland Peters & Small. She lives in London. Joanna Simmons wrote the text for Bazaar Style, Homespun Style and Pretty Pastel Style. She lives in Hove. Rebecca Tanqueray is the author of Small Spaces and lives in London. Rebecca Winward, who wrote the captions for this book, is an interiors journalist and the author of Everything in its Place. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including House & Garden, Elle Decoration and Evening Standard Homes & Property. She lives in Colchester, Essex.

 

There isn't much I can add to that first line of the blurb, above - this charming book does pretty much what it says on the cover. Caroline has some simple but effective ideas that will help you to organise and decorate your home. It's Cico/RPS's specialism, and it shows in this superb book!

 

Tracey Radford: Make Your Own Farm Animals

Published by Ryland Peters & Small 14th March 2017

How to make your own farm animals, equipment, and scenery with recycled cardboard. Tracey Radford is a master of taking everyday cardboard and turning it into incredible, yet simple, craft projects for parents and children to make together. In Make Your Own Farm Animals she has created an amazing menagerie of creatures, as well a tractor, farmhouse, barn, hay bales, and much more. In Chapter 1, In the Field, there are adorable animals to make such as Clarissa the Cow, Hector the Horse, and Felix the Fox. In Chapter 2, Farmyard Fun, we get to create Paddy the Pig, Shep the Sheep Dog, and even Farmer Fred and his wife Winnie. In Chapter 3, Home Sweet Home, Tracey gives the animals shelter with her easy-to-build stable, piggery, and kennel. Finally in Chapter 4, Machinery and Scenery, there’s plenty of pretty farm scenery to make, such as a pond, trees, grass, and flowers, as well as that all-important farm equipment. Every project is made using simple step-by-step instructions, with handy tips throughout. Parents will delight in creating this wonderful farm with their children and never look at a cardboard tube or empty egg carton in the same way again!

 

We've all done it - made toys out of cardboard boxes... but Tracey Radford goes one step further, and shows you how to make farm animals using cardboard, glue and paint. The little people will love to help with these superb projects!

 

K A Lalani: Unto The Skies - A Biography of Amy Johnson

Published by The Book Guild 28th March 2017

This is an extensive, fully researched biography of Amy Johnson, Britain s most famous aviatrix. Unto the Skies takes readers from the early days of her childhood and adolescence in Hull, through to her estrangement from her family in London, to the point where her love of flying led to the fame she later, albeit reluctantly, gained after her epic 1930 Australia flight. The story of Amy s death is still surrounded by mystery, after she crashed into the Thames estuary and was drowned; her body was never recovered. Her story still serves as an inspiration to many, being Britain s first qualified woman ground engineer, despite being told she would never be a flier, and completing her world famous solo flight at the age of 26, before other setting other records. The story of her life will be widely enjoyed!

 

 

 

Pam Inder: The Rag Trade - The People Who Made Our Clothes

Published by Amberley 15th March 2017

This book is about people who worked in the rag trade in the nineteenth century – dressmakers and milliners, tailors, two shoemakers, a framework knitter, a family of corset manufacturers and a lace maker. It deals with the trades and their products, but also with the day-to-day lives of the protagonists, both at work and at home. Working people have always made up the majority of the population and their biographies can be just as complex and interesting as those of the rich and famous.

Featuring biographies of eleven different nineteenth-century clothing workers, Pam Inder explores a range of workers with a variety of backgrounds who worked for different sorts of clientele and did a variety of jobs. They have been chosen because records survive to illuminate their lives, but also because they have a story to tell. They are not necessarily typical, but nor are they atypical; aspects of their lives reflect experiences shared by many others in the same lines of work – be it difficult clients, financial problems, trouble with the law or the effects of grinding poverty. Some were successful, others were not – the dividing line between the two was a narrow one and often depended on luck as much as on judgement.

 

There are plenty of tailors, tailoresses, shoemakers and hat makers in our family tree - on both sides of the family - and it's nice to be able to read about the kind of people and the workings of the various trades involved in this terrific slice of social history from historical experts Amberley.

 

Heidi Gibson: Muffins and Biscuits

Published by Chronicle Books 7th March 2017

Whether slathered with mouthwatering homemade spreads or savored just as they are, muffins and biscuiys are comfort food at its finest.  Husband and wife team Heidi Gibson and Nate Pollak own the two American Grilled Cheese Kitchen restaurants. They also sell their pickles and baking mixes for muffins and quick breads at their Mission location. Heidi and Nate work together to run their small businesses with a team of passionate grilled cheese experts.

 

This is quite simply one of the best books on how to make biscuits that has ever come my way. Mouthwatering photos with clear, concise recipes - it's a winning combination!

 

Nick Van Der Bijl: British Military Intelligence Objects From The Military Intelligence Museum

Published by Amberley 15th March 2017

Through a mix of objects, medals, photographs and documents held in the Military Intelligence Museum, the book tells the story of British military intelligence across the years, moving from its earliest object of the Waterloo medal awarded to the Duke of Wellington’s senior intelligence officer to items recovered from operations in Afghanistan. This fascinating collection includes a Boer War photographic stereoscope and uniforms worn by intelligence officers and other ranks during the First World War. Among the Second World War objects are a very rare highest gallantry medal awarded to a British officer by France, items that belonged to a founder of the Long Range Desert Group, an example of a pigeon coop used to deliver pigeons in Occupied Europe, a chess set used by captured Special Operations Executive operatives in Buchenwald concentration camp and copies of forged rations coupons dropped into Germany as part of Psychological Warfare Executive operations. The end of the war saw the Intelligence Corps heavily involved in arresting war criminals in Germany and Japan; among the objects are handcuffs used by a Field Security Section in Occupied Germany to arrest three high-ranking Nazi officials. During the Cold War, the Intelligence Corps role in collecting intelligence from those organisations hostile to British interests and protecting the Army from espionage, sabotage and terrorism is illustrated by several documents.

The varied nature of these objects illuminates a feature of British military operations that is rarely discussed, despite having been frequently proven to be crucial to their success.

 

Amberley now have the monopoly on museum books - their stunning series of "50 finds" continues, county by county, with the occasional specialised gem such as this terrific book by Nick Van Der Bijl on military intelligence artefacts and objects. Superb.

 

Amanda Jones: Unleashed

Published by Chronicle Books 25th April 2017

Dogs are in their natural element when they are playing outdoors. Pet photographer Amanda Jones captures this unbridled joy perfectly in her latest collection of photographs. Set against the backdrop of four distinct seasons—each with its own color palette and lush backdrops—these dogs are clearly having their favorite days in their favorite places. This handsome book showcases the energy and character of a diverse group of dogs as they run, jump, and play outdoors all year long.

 

Amanda Jones has the knack of taking candid photos of dogs - this amazing collection of her pictures is sheer joy unconfined. Dog lovers the world over will love this stunning book.

 

John R F Burt & Kathryn Burtinshaw: Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots

Published by Pen and Sword 30th April 2017

In the first half of the nineteenth-century treatment of the mentally ill in Britain and Ireland underwent radical change. No longer manacled, chained and treated like wild animals, patient care was defined in law and medical understanding, and treatment of insanity developed. Focussing on selected cases, this new study enables the reader to understand how progressively advancing attitudes and expectations affected decisions, leading to better legislation and medical practice throughout the century. Specific mental health conditions are discussed in detail and the treatments patients received are analysed in an expert way. A clear view of why institutional asylums were established, their ethos for the treatment of patients, and how they were run as palaces rather than prisons giving moral therapy to those affected becomes apparent. The changing ways in which patients were treated, and altered societal views to the incarceration of the mentally ill, are explored. The book is thoroughly illustrated and contains images of patients and asylum staff never previously published, as well as first-hand accounts of life in a nineteenth-century asylum from a patients perspective. Written for genealogists as well as historians, this book contains clear information concerning access to asylum records and other relevant primary sources and how to interpret their contents in a meaningful way.

 

During the course of our investigations into our ancestry, we came across a number of census sheets with a far right column which was occasionally annotated with these classifications: lunatic, imbecile and idiot. This was when the census sheets were filled in by a returning officer, and not by the actual occupants of the premises!John and Kathryn's book provides a fascinating look at the first half of the 19th century and the way such people existed and were treated by the state.

 

John Wade: London Curiosities

Published by Pen and Sword 30th April 2017

London is full of curiosities. Who knew that beneath the Albert Memorial lies an undercroft resembling a church crypt? Or that there are catacombs under Camden? Who would expect to find a lighthouse in East London, sphinxes in South London, dummy houses in West London, or a huge bust of film director Alfred Hitchcock in North London? How many of those who walk past Cleopatra's Needle pause to consider why a 3,000-year-old Egyptian monument stands beside the Thames? How many know that what was once London's smallest police station can be seen in Trafalgar Square? Or that pineapples are used in the architectural design of so many buildings? Or why there are memorials to the 'Mayflower' and Pilgrim Fathers in Rotherhithe? These are just a few of the facets explored, described and illustrated here for anyone in search of the oddly obscure, wonderfully weird and surprisingly strange in this capital of curiosities.

 

This amazing book will be of interest mainly to people who live in London or who intend visiting for pleasure. Some real gems inside, genuine surprises, too!

 

Stuart A Raymond: Tracing Your Nonconformist Ancestors

Published by Pen and Sword 3rd April 2017

We all have Nonconformist ancestors. In the mid-nineteenth century almost half of the English population were Nonconformists. And there were very few villages where there was not at least one Nonconformist chapel. Local and family historians need to be aware of the diversity of Nonconformity, and of the many sources which will enable them to trace the activities of Nonconformist forebears. Stuart Raymond's handbook provides an overview of those sources. He identifies the numerous websites, libraries and archives that local and family historians need to consult. These are described in detail, their strengths and weaknesses are pointed out, and the contribution currently made by the internet is highlighted. Most Nonconformist denominations are discussed not just the mainstream Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Quakers and Methodists, but also obscure sects such as the Muggletonians and Glasites, and even the two groups who regularly appear on our doorsteps today Jehovah s Witnesses and the Mormons. The religious activities of our Nonconformist ancestors tell us a great deal about them, and provide fascinating insights into their lives.

 

The latest in Pen and Sword's essential library for would-be genealogists and people tracing their ancestry. A word of advice - of the two main sites, Ancestry is by far the best. We had a 14-day free trial with both Ancestry.co.uk and FindMyPast, and the latter found no-one in either side of the family, whilst Ancestry found them all. That aside, these superb books provide much-needed extra information on where to look for details of your ancestors. Priceless.

 

Simon Webb: Post-war Childhood

Published by Pen and Sword 30th May 2017

Many British baby boomers are very nostalgic about a supposed golden age; a vanished world when children were generally freer, happier and healthier than they are now. They wandered about all day; only returning home at teatime when they were hungry. Nobody worried about health and safety or 'stranger danger' in those days and no serious harm ever befell children as a result. In Post-War Childhood, Simon Webb examines the facts and figures behind the myth of children's carefree lives in the post-war years, finding that such things as the freedom to roam the streets and fields came at a terrible price. In 1965, for example, despite there being far fewer cars in Britain, 45 times as many children were knocked down and killed on the roads as now die in this way each year. Simon Webb presents a 'warts and all' portrait of British childhood in the years following the end of the Second World War. He demonstrates that contrary to popular belief, it was by any measure a far more hazardous and less pleasant time to be a child, than is the case in the twenty-first century.

 

This is me: I'm a baby-boomer, born in 1946, and totally not responsible for everything that's wrong with the world today. Simon Webb describes a world I grew up in, graphically and accurately - it was a world where everyone knew their place, and proper respect was accorded to those in authority (police, bank managers, doctors etc.). Fascinating, and just as I remember it!

 

Amanda Herbert-Davies: Children In The Second World War

Published by Pen and Sword 30th April 2017

It was not just the upheaval caused by evacuation and the blitzes that changed a generations childhood, it was how war pervaded every aspect of life. From dodging bombs by bicycle and patrolling the parish with the vicar's WW1 pistol, to post air raid naps in school and being carried out of the rubble as the family's sole survivor, children experienced life in the war zone that was Britain. This reality, the reality of a life spent growing up during the Second World War, is best told through the eyes of the children who experienced it first-hand. Children In the Second World War unites the memories of over two hundred child veterans to tell the tragic and the remarkable stories of life, and of youth, during the war. Each veteran gives a unique insight into a childhood which was unlike any that came before or after. This book poignantly illustrates the presence of death and perseverance in the lives of children through this tumultuous period, each account enlightens and touches the reader; shedding light on what it was really like on the Home front during the Second World War.

 

There is also the small matter of those children who grew up during the war, and Amanda gives us a clear and entertaining social history that draws on personal experiences and reminiscenses, which makes it all the more authoritative. Brilliant!

 

Norman Franks: Fallen Eagles

Published by Pen and Sword 30th March 2017

The 93 pilots featured in Fallen Eagles were all decorated for bravery during The Great War. All survived the conflict only to die flying in the post-war years. The causes of their deaths ranged from being casualties of small wars, then as now rife in the Middle East, mechanical failure or pilot error. The 1920s were still pioneering years for aviation and aviators and test flying, air races and displays, record attempts etc were fraught with dangers known and unknown. In addition to the better known names such as Sir John Alcock, Captain W Beauchamp-Proctor VC and Sammy Kincaid there are many that will be unfamiliar to all but the most ardent enthusiasts. But all have courage and love of flying in common and sadly luck ran out for each of these men who made a contribution to the history of flight. Thanks to acclaimed aviation historian Norman Franks, their names are not forgotten.

 

Fascinating bios of the men known as the Fallen Eagles, pioneers of the Royal Flying Corps who saw action in the Great War and survived, but perished during the war years doing what they knew best - flying.

 

Jonathan Swan: Law and War - Magistrates in the Great War

Published by Pen and Sword 20th March 2017

The office of justice of the peace has existed since the twelfth century, when 'good and lawful men' were first appointed to sit in judgement of their peers. Unpaid and untrained, these lay magistrates were the backbone of the English judicial system, dealing with the vast majority of criminal cases in the police courts and the petty sessions. By the start of the twentieth century, social attitudes were changing and the magistrates, drawn from the wealthier classes, were seen as out of touch with the communities they served. The new Liberal Government of 1906 instituted reforms, which allowed the appointment of the working classes. Then came the Great War. Within days of the outbreak of hostilities, the government introduced the Defence of the Realm Act. With several amendments over the years, this all-encompassing legislation resulted in the creation of hundreds of subsidiary regulations, many of which affected the lives of ordinary people in a way they had never expected. Many, including magistrates themselves, fell foul of the myriad orders, covering billeting, licensing, lighting and rationing, which were enforced by the new special constables.At the same time, the conscription of the 'criminal classes' saw a huge fall in the normal workload of the courts, and the closure of many prisons. The magistrates responded as best they could. Some magistrates went to war; some lost their lives. Others served in the many voluntary organisations and committees that appeared across the country, such as the Military Service Tribunals or the Volunteer Corps. The end of the war saw a further change to the old order when the first women magistrates were appointed, marking the birth of modern magistracy.

 

There was a time when magistrates were drawn solely from the upper classes, and I suspect that may still be the case, though I don't know. Jonathan Swan looks at a time when laws were changed to deal with aspects of war, and magistrates were called upon to exercise new and more necessary powers.

 

Brian Best: The Victoria Cross Wars

Published by Pen and Sword 20th March 2017

The British Empire at its height stretched around the globe. From Asia to the Americas, scores of countries were conquered or assimilated into the greatest commonwealth of nations in history. Many of these countries were won, and held, at the point of the bayonet, and British soldiers and sailors fought long and hard campaigns in deserts, mountains and jungles to maintain and expand the Empire. Fighting, though, means bloodshed; it also means bravery. Victoria Crosses were awarded in operations against Persia, Abyssinia and China, in New Zealand, Burma and Sudan, in the Perak War, the Andaman Islands Expedition and the Mashona Rebellion to name but a few of the forty-four different campaigns of the colonial era. The Victoria Cross Wars explains Britain's involvement in these little-known and forgotten campaigns and details the battles and engagements that resulted in the granting of the most highly regarded award for valour in the face of the enemy. The greater conflicts of the twentieth century receive due treatment as do more recent operations in the troubled parts of the world. A total of 1,358 VCs have been awarded since the 'cross of valour' was first instituted in 1855, the latest of which was announced in February 2015. The stories behind the awarding of these medals have been repeated in countless anthologies but The Victoria Cross Wars explains not just what the men did, but why they were there and what they were fighting for.

 

This is a brilliant book that looks at the Victoria Cross and the people to whom it has been awarded in the various conflicts since its inception.

 

Earth and Space Coloring Book Featuring photographs from the archives of NASA

Published by Chronicle Books 21st March 2017

With more than 35 magnificent images of outer space from NASA, this coloring book will capture the imagination of anyone interested in science, astronomy, and space exploration. Each spread features a full-color photograph from NASA's archives to inspire coloring on the adjacent page.

 

There are colouring books, and there are colouring books like this one, that contains 35 spectacular images from the Nasa collection... Awesome!

 

 

 

 

 

Exquisite By Nature Notebook Set

Published by Chronicle Books 28th February 2017

This exquisite pair of notebooks features colourful paintings by artist Michelle Morin of an eye-catching white peacock on one cover and beautiful hummingbirds on the other. With gold foil edges and foil stamping along the spines, these notebooks are the picture of elegance on the desktop.

 

There was a time when the vast majority of notebooks were like school exercise books, but then the world started to change, and exquisite designs started to creep into the manufacture of diaries and notebooks - these by Michelle Morin are eye-catching and beautiful, with gold foil spines. Seems a shame to fill them with handwriting or printing of any kind, but that's ultimately what they're for...

 

 

 

Quicktionary: A Game of Lightning-fast Wordplay

Published by Chronicle Books 14th March 2017

Introducing a new, fast-paced casual card game for word lovers and anyone who loves to think on their feet. Simple to learn, with nearly endless possibilities, this free-for-all game is a fun addition to any game night.

 

Not really a book as such, but a quickfire and ingenious card game that can cause genuine hilarity and even hysterics... one of the best word games ever!

 

 

F**king Awesome Coloring Book

Published by Chronicle Books 28th March 2017

Featuring delightfully irreverent phrases, lovely calligraphy, and illustrated backgrounds, this colouring book invites adults to colour their f**king stress away! With a range of prpofanity from upbeat sweary affirmations to hilarious sassy sayings, 30 different expletives offer creative stimulation and cathartic release for any mood. Designs are printed on thick, removable frame-worthy pages with metallic ink patterns on the back of each page making them easy to share and display.

 

There are colouring books, and there are colouring books! This one is designed to relieve stress and the pressures of modern living...

 

Peter Rex: Harold - The King Who Fell At Hastings

Published by Amberley 15th April 2017

Harold Godwinson, King of England, was unable to defend his realm from William the Conqueror’s invading Norman army in 1066. The Normans wreaked havoc across the country and changed the history of England forever. This full-scale biography of England’s last Anglo-Saxon king reveals an astute political operator who, as Earl of Wessex, won the affection of the English people and the support of Edward the Confessor to succeed him. Peter Rex tells the story of a formidable warrior-king killed in battle in defence of his kingdom.

 

With Bernard Cornwell and Conn Iggulden providing the dark ages fiction, there is always a place for someone to give us a proper history of the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, King Harold, who fell at the Battle of Battle (quite near Hastings). Peter Rex is the man for that task - this is far and away the best history of Harold I have ever read!

 

Twigs Way: Allotments

Published by Amberley 15th April 2017

Allotments are a much-loved part of every British city, town and many villages. At the height of their popularity around the Second World War, allotments were increasingly neglected towards the end of the twentieth century, but are now in the throes of a full-scale revival. Many allotments now have long waiting lists, and allotment keeping has become a fashionable hobby.

This book explores the fascinating story of the allotment, from its roots in the Diggers of the seventeenth century to the influence of ‘food miles’ and GM. It includes insights into quirky rules and regulations, murder and looting, and even art and opera on the allotment. Drawing on archival and contemporary material, this richly illustrated book considers both the history and the future of the not-so-humble allotment.

This book is part of the Britain’s Heritage series, which provides definitive introductions to the riches of Britain’s past, and is the perfect way to get acquainted with allotments in all their variety.

 

Amberley are catching up with and will surely soon overtake Shire as the foremost publishers of social history books that are entertaining, approachable, informative and educational. The latest title in this eclectic series is Allotments - everything you need to know - a beautiful little book.

 

W B Barlett: The Story Of The World

Published by Amberley 15th April 2017

In recent times, globalisation has made the world more interdependent than ever before. W. B. Bartlett’s masterly new history of the world narrates the great – and small – events that have shaped the planet on which we live. The great religions, civilisations, peoples and empires of the world and how they interacted are all folded into a narrative of what happened when, how and why. The book eschews the Eurocentric approach of most world histories and introduces many forgotten cultures, movements and events from around the globe and across all time. It also recognises that the history of man has had a huge impact on the natural world, and that nature sometimes strikes back.

Yet alongside the great and the good, more everyday aspects of human existence are also placed into the story. Where was the first beer drunk? When did the first American football match take place? These, and a wealth of other quirky details, facts and figures help make this book the ideal introduction to the history of the world from its creation right up to the present day.

 

If Amberley's British Heritage series are slim volumes much like the Shire books, then W B Bartlett's history of the world from prehistory to the present day is massive. It's entirely different to any world history I've ever looked at, and will take me some time to get through. Really, really worth a look if you have a spare half hour every day - there is something to interest you on every single page!

 

Billy Reading: Fire Stations

Published by Amberley 15th April 2017

Buildings in Britain were first set aside for storing firefighting equipment in the seventeenth century, in the wake of the Great Fire of London. These were often storage sheds or farm buildings, but as technology became more advanced specialist buildings were needed to house it: fire stations. The golden age of fire station design was the late Victorian period and a wonderful and eclectic collection of buildings from the time still stands in Britain. The changing threats dealt with by fire brigades in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries meant that new designs were needed to accommodate new equipment, but the basic layout of a modern fire station would still be familiar to a Victorian fireman.

Here, Billy Reading explores the history of the fire station in Britain, from simple parish cart-sheds to complex modern headquarters. Fire stations are an instantly recognisable part of the British landscape today, from village greens to city centres.

This book is part of the Britain’s Heritage series, which provides definitive introductions to the riches of Britain’s past, and is the perfect way to get acquainted with fire stations in all their variety.

 

Another volume from Amberley's British Heritage series, like Allotments (above), this time Billy Reading looks at fire stations, their huge variety and their history. Fascinating.

 

Amy Licence: The Six Wives & Many Mistresses Of Henry VIII - The Women's Stories

Published by Amberley 15th April 2017

For a King renowned for his love life, Henry VIII has traditionally been depicted as something of a prude, but the story may have been different for the women who shared his bed. How did they take the leap from courtier to lover - perhaps even to wife? What was Henry really like as a lover? Henry's women were uniquely placed to experience the tension between his chivalric ideals and the lusts of the handsome, tall, athletic king; his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, was on one level a fairytale romance, but his affairs with Anne Stafford, Elizabeth Carew and Jane Popincourt undermined it early on. Later, his more established mistresses, Bessie Blount and Mary Boleyn, risked their good names by bearing him illegitimate children. Typical of his time, Henry did not see that casual liaisons might threaten his marriage, until he met the one woman who held him at arm's length. The arrival of Anne Boleyn changed everything. Her seductive eyes helped rewrite history. After their passionate marriage turned sour, the king rapidly remarried to Jane Seymour. Henry was a man of great appetites, ready to move heaven and earth for a woman he desired; Licence readdresses the experiences of his wives and mistresses in this frank, modern take on the affairs of his heart. What was it really like to be Mrs Henry VIII?

 

A refreshing new take on the Tudor monarch, that man we all thought we knew everything there is to know about - Amy Licence looks at the womenin Henry's life, and not just his wives - absolutely riveting stuff, and should be the subject of a TV documentary!

 

Stephan Talty: The Black Hand

Published by Ebury Press 27th April 2017

Beginning in the summer of 1903, an insidious crime wave filled New York City, and then the entire country, with fear. The children of Italian immigrants were kidnapped, and dozens of innocent victims were gunned down. Bombs tore apart tenement buildings. Judges, senators, Rockefellers, and society matrons were threatened with gruesome deaths. The perpetrators seemed both omnipresent and invisible. Their only calling card: the symbol of a black hand. The crimes whipped up the slavering tabloid press and heated ethnic tensions to the boiling point. Standing between the American public and the Black Hand’s lawlessness was Joseph Petrosino. Dubbed the “Italian Sherlock Holmes,” he was a famously dogged and ingenious detective, and a master of disguise. As the crimes grew ever more bizarre and the Black Hand’s activities spread far beyond New York’s borders, Petrosino and the all-Italian police squad he assembled raced to capture members of the secret criminal society before the country’s anti-immigrant tremors exploded into catastrophe. Petrosino’s quest to root out the source of the Black Hand’s power would take him all the way to Sicily—but at a terrible cost. Unfolding a story rich with resonance in our own era, The Black Hand is fast-paced narrative history at its very best.

 

The gripping true story of the origins of the Mafia in America - soon to be a major motion picture starring Leonardo di Caprio. Epic, grim, larger than life, and all, unfortunately true. Doesn't hold back - the equivalent in the UK, I guess, would be a history of the Kray twins... superb narrative, a true slice of dark American history...

 

Jill O'Connor: Cake - I Love You

Published by Chronicle Books 25th April 2017

Cake: I Love You is a no-butter-spared love letter to this classic indulgence with 60 divinely decadent recipes you'll need to bake right away. Organised by flavour profile (banana, coconut, chocolate, caramel, spice, fruit) and level of difficulty, this genius cake cookbook is a treasure in the kitchen. Whether searching for an easy, weeknight cake or looking to while away an afternoon crafting a sumptuous cake with layers of frosting and ganache, Jill's got it covered. With photos that make you want to reach out and swipe your finger through the frosting, Cake: I Love You offers foolproof cake-making advice for bakers everywhere.

 

This book is, quite simply, a celebration of cake recipes. The author is American, which explains why all of the ingredients are measured in cups (which are readily avalable in the UK, of course) and the use of frostings etc. There are recipes involving mayonnaise, which seems a little out of my comfort zone, but the photos are amazing and the pure joy of celebrating the making of cakes is evident on every page!

 


 

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.