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 January 2011 Issue 148


Fantasy & Science Fiction

Popular, Romance & Westerns

History & Nostalgia

Nonfiction & Reference

Children's books


The Honey Bird Sang: part 3


Owen Owen:


Countryside Books


Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries


The first few titles on this page are carried over from the Christmas issue for the simple reason that readers are far too busy to pay attention to BOOKS MONTHLY in the weeks before Christmas, and these are stonkingly good books to buy with your book tokens and gift vouchers after the celebrations and you're trying to think what to buy. I make no apologies - these are among the best books I have read all year, and I hope you find them as brilliant as I did. They're worthy of your collection...



Aleksandr Orlov: A Simples Life

Ebury Press HB

Aleksandr Orlov has in the last year become one of the most loved figures in British culture and his catchphrase - Simples! - can be heard from the playground to the office. This autobiography offers the same humour as his TV ads, giving us the full story of his ancestor's Journey of Courageousness from the Kalahari to Russia. This is a real discovery, the life and times of one of our most celebrated A list celebrities, Aleksandr Orlov, and how he became the most famous Meerkat comparer in the world. The story tells how his ancestors left the Kalahari desert after the mongeese stole their last tins of grubs, and set sail for the Bermudas but found themselves instead on the shores of Russia. Also contains posters from the three major cinema films in which Orlov stars together with his faithful but rather smelly assistant Sergei. Priceless - the best biography of the year so far.



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Daniel Tatarsky is well known for compiling the Eagle Annuals and the Eagle Cut-Away book in recent years. Now he turns his attention to a biography of the erstwhile hero. The author, who also happens to be an actor, is looking forward to auditioning for the forthcoming DAN DARE movie - I don't know anything about this but as soon as I've finished this review, I'm off to find out about it. Dan Dare is big business in literature - Titan books already have ten hardback reprints of his EAGLE adventures, and he features, of course, in Dan's first two Eagle annuals, also from Orion. This latest "biography" is sensationally good - it looks like a biography, and it tells the story of the greatest space hero in English literature, so I guess it is a biography. Several pages of brilliant pictures, together with the story of how Dan came into being, make this a very special publication indeed. Absolutely first class, and no Dad from the 1950s/1960s should be without it. Another terrific slice of nostalgia, right in time for Christmas.





In six hugely entertaining hours of television, BBC One brings the story of the great British high street to life in a major new series for Autumn 2010. At the centre of the programmes are five modern-day shopkeepers and their families, whose challenge will be to run their shops exactly as they would have been run in six key eras of British history, from the 1870s to the 1970s. The book that accompanies the television series tells the remarkable story of how the rise and fall of the high street transformed all our daily lives, touching on the history of technology, family relationships, work, food, fashion and community that make Britain what it is today. Each chapter vividly retells the story of the evolving high street at that period in time, with special emphasis given to changes in food, fashion, attitudes, jobs and family life. Illuminated with human interest stories from the programmes and illustrated with hundreds of archive photographs, this is the truly fascinating story of British society over the last century as well as a lavish photographic record of the great British high street in its heyday. CHAPTER 1 THE BIRTH OF THE GREAT BRITISH HIGH STREET. CHAPTER 2 SETTING UP SHOP (1880-1901). CHAPTER 3 THE GOLDEN AGE OF SHOPPING (1901-1918). CHAPTER 4 PEACE AND PROSPERITY (1918-1939). CHAPTER 5 MAKE DO AND MEND (1939-1945). CHAPTER 6 HELP YOURSELF (1945-1969). CHAPTER 7 COMMON MARKET (1970-1980). CHAPTER 8 THE FUTURE OF THE HIGH STREET. CHAPTER 9 YOUR HIGH STREET’S STORY.



The illustrations of Brian Cook from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s have become iconic. His heightened use of colour, in a flat colour poster style, is much imitated, but never surpassed. This collection of his best work is a beautiful publication that should be enjoyed not only by collectors but all lovers of good design and illustration. Showcasing British life and landscape from the Scottish Highlands to London markets, from Wiltshire farms to the rugged Lake DIstrict, this is the most comprehensive and vibrant collection of his work to date. It features quintessential images of Britain, its villages, churches, cottages and countryside, revealing the timeless beauty of the British landscape. The nephew of the late Harry Batsford, chairman of Batsford publishing from 1917 - 1952, Brian himself became chairman of the company in 1952 (as Brian Batsford). His jacket covers for the Batsford series of books that celebrated British life were pioneeringh and timeless and are now very collectable.


Words of Wisdom is an anthology of history's most memorable, uplifting or thought-provoking quotations from the greatest philosophers who have ever lived. Each of the 350 quotations is accompanied by a brief essay that tells the story of the speaker or explains the circumstances that gave rise to the quotation. The words used often encapsulate the human condition and offer instruction and inspiration in equal measure. Contains all the most famous philosophical quotations, including: I know that I know nothing', Socrates. Eureka: I have found it!', Archimedes. Every instant of time is a pinprick of eternity', Marcus Aurelius. Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily', William of Occam. Cogito ergo sum', Descartes. I am what I am', Descartes. The greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals', Bentham. The world is will to power - and nothing else', Nietzsche. What does not destroy me makes me stronger', Nietzsche. One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman', Simone de Beauvoir. Existence precedes essence', Jean-Paul Sartre. Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backward', Kierkegaard. Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do', Russell.


Shire History 6

Author: Mary Greensted. Mary Greensted tells the story of the birth and development of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain with the help of numerous illustrations showing buildings, furniture, metalwork, and the people who influenced it. The movement was concerned with the revival of traditional crafts, and a return to the vernacular, and it had socialist ideals at its heart. This movement, which flourished in the early twentieth century, has not only bequeathed to us a wealth of fine objects and buildings, but also a way of thinking about life and craft that continues to influence many today.


Shire Library 578 - Nick Baldwin: LORRIES: From lumbering house-shakers on solid tyres to smooth turbo-power in the 1970s, the lorry has come a very long way in a remarkably short time. In the early competition between steam, petrol and electricity, the internal combustion engine had more or less won by the 1920s, after proving itself in the First World War, when all-wheel-drive arrived in quantity and thousands of new drivers were trained. The book traces the developments that created the modern truck in the 1960s and 1970s – tilt cabs, clever transmission technology and turbo power, and the transcontinental journeys they travelled.










Shire Library 174 Ian Jones: THE SAFETY BICYCLE: The safety bicycle, with front-wheel steering and pedal-driven rear wheel, has existed in some form since the experiments of Kirkpatrick Macmillan in 1839, but his ideas were almost forgotten when the front-wheel driven boneshakers and penny farthings reigned supreme. Then, in the 1870s, experimental safeties appeared, culminating in Henry Lawson’s Bicyclette of 1879. Within ten years the modern bicycle had developed, to remain basically unchanged for over seventy years. Many specialist and experimental designs have appeared since the late nineteenth-century, most of which, if they passed the prototype stage, failed to attract the public and now languish in museums.






Shire Library 609 Author: Susan Cohen

About this book
For 150 years, district nurses have been taking care of the sick in their own homes, providing health care, moral support, and wise advice to people of all ages and classes, in rural areas, towns and cities the length and breadth of the country. Begun in 1860s Liverpool by philanthropist William Rathbone, the District Nursing Movement was founded to care for the poor who had no access to medical care. This illuminating book shows how the role of the district nurse has moved on greatly since Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, expanding and developing to provide a broad range of invaluable health care services in the community. 




Haynes Formula One Review 2010

Now firmly established in its seventh year of publication, "The Official Formula 1 Season Review 2010" - in the shops just two weeks after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - is a must-have Christmas purchase for every fan of Formula 1. Here is the full, in-depth story of the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship, told by the drivers and team personnel involved. In the year that sees the return of the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows and Michael Schumacher, and the debut of a number of new teams and drivers to battle against the established stars, here is an unrivalled insight into the on-track action and behind-the-scenes details of the 2010 Formula 1 season. How on Earth did Haynes manage to wrap up this terrific book in such a short space of time? Of course we now know that young Seb Vettel won the championship and put Red Bull firmly on the map, but the quality of this book is sensational, given the amount of time they had to get it published in time for Christmas. It is really, really good, full of terrific photos, facts and figures. Brilliant!







The Starship Enterprise gets the Haynes treatment! This fascinating Haynes Manual features cutaway drawings, technical illustrations and photographs along with comprehensive background information and specifications on the technology used on board the USS Enterprise, in all its various incarnations. Seasoned Star Trek writers lift the lid on the most iconic spaceship of all time, while accuracy and authority are guaranteed by Technical Consultant Michael Okuda. This is one book no Star Trek fan should be without...You can say that again! This is one technical manual that anyone who's been following the Trek series since it first burst onto our screens in the 1960s must have. All incarnations of the greatest spaceship that was ever launched are included in this magnificent volume. Not sufficient information to allow you to build one for yourself, of course, some things must remain secret, naturally, but all you need to know about the Enterprise is contained in this beautiful book.



Remember When (Pen and Sword Books) HB


Susan Brewer taps into the nostalgic women's market for comics from their childhood: Jackie, Girl's Own, Bunty etc, from the early days in Victorian England to teen mags and TV-related comics, including Teletubbies and CBeebies. The book also covers partworks such as the highly collectable Vicky and others, including annuals, covermounts and giveaways, toys and games tie-ins, including board games. Both collectable and nostalgic, this will appeal to the late twenty-fifties market, featuring as it does the Golden Age of Comics dating from the 1950-70s and, whilst there has been plenty on boys' comics with their superheroes and action men, the girls' market has been surprisingly neglected but is itself highly collectable. Susan Brewer is an expert in toys and children's collectables..This has to be the finest treatise on Girls' comics I have ever read. Susan Brewer clearly knows her subject well, and draws on her own personal experiences of reading and collecting comics during her childhood. It is comprehensive, perfectly researched, and a joy to read, with extensive, beautiful illustrations. I can't fault it, and it's a book I shall dip into regularly to remind me of times gone by. There is an eloquent introduction by singer Mark Wynter, who joins my list of celebrities who appreciate those fantastic stories written for girls and which appeared each week in School Friend, Girls Crystal and Bunty. This is fascinating stuff, and should win awards, it's so good, so readable. A true slice of nostalgia, lovingly crafted by PEN AND SWORD. Don't hesitate, it's terrific!


Hammer Films were almost as well known for the way in which they sold their films, as for the films themselves. "The Art of Hammer" is the first ever collection of the company's iconic movie posters, and is a celebration of movie art at its best. This large format, lavish hardback brings together hundreds of rare posters from around the world, and features Hammer's greatest films.

 Hammer Films dominated English cinema for several decades, and this fantastic book contains a huge selection of their posters, the kind that would lure you into the cinema. Friom the sublime Dracula to the ridiculous On the Buses feature film, they're all here, including some forgotten ones like The Lost Continent, based on Dennis Wheatley's classic novel Uncharted Seas. The finest posters, in my opinion, are the Christopher Lee Dracula posters, and the stone ages, such as the Raquel Welch and the Julie Ege. Not nearly enough Yutte Stensgaard, but you can't have everything! A glorious reminder of one of the best things to come out of Britain in the second half of the 20th century. Just a quick note to say how sorry I was to hear about the death of Ingrid Pitt on November 24th. SHe was good fun in the Hammer films, and brought a touch of class to many of the vampire movies they produced.



King of the Commandos: Captain Lorrington 'Gimlet' King leads his special Commando detachment on a dangerous sabotage mission into enemy-occupied France where they meet up with 'Cub', destined to become an integral part of their team.; Gimlet Goes Again: With his usual cohorts 'Copper' Collson, 'Trapper' Troublay and 'Cub' backing him up, Gimlet parachutes into France to play a deadly game of cat and mouse with the Gestapo.; Gimlet Comes Home: Fresh out of the forces at the end of the war, Gimlet and his friends find themselves dealing with desperate criminals in the Highlands of Scotland.; Gimlet Mops Up: An underground gang of vengeful Nazis bent on murder in post-war Europe is tracked down by Gimlet and his team, using Gimlet himself as bait!

Not so well known as Biggles, and the subject of far fewer stories, Gimlet is nevertheless a beacon of fortitude and daring from a byegone age of children's literature. Four perfect stories in a perfectly packaged book.




Elsie J Oxenham: Queen of the Abbey Girls

Girls Gone By Publishers PB

Queen of the Abbey Girls is the book in which Joy marries for the first time, and in which Jen meets Ken Marchwood. She is happy to play cricket with him, but cannot face the fact that he is in love with her. We also meet again Dick and Della Jessop, Mary and Biddy Devine, Maidlin and Rosamund. Mary’s future becomes settled, but Biddy’s is less certain. Ros and Madlin are growing up, and Maidlin starts her singing lessons. But Maidlin is badly hurt when Joy returns from honeymoon…  and who is the Queen of the Abbey Girls? This book falls between The Abbey Girls in Town and The Abbey Girls Win Through and is no 16. It is not a very common title, never having been published as a Seagull. Oxenham's books are always a joy to read, and provide a secure, accurate picture of the period in which they are set. I found the blossoming romance between Jen and Ken absolutely endearing and fascinating - without doubt one of EJO's finest works, and beautifully presented by GGBP, as ever.




Malcolm Saville: Lone Pine London

Girls Gone By Publishers PB

Lone Pine London, no 10, Jon and Penny Warrender visit the Mortons in London and fall into a dangerous adventure around the capital’s streets. If Jon hadn’t gone to a football match on a foggy afternoon… if Penny hadn’t wanted to buy a glass paperweight in an antique shop in Chelsea… The Morton twins play a crucial role, as does the neighbourhood antique shop. Its owner’s grand-daughter, Harriet, is later to become a Lone Pine Club member. Mary Cadogan has written a brand new introduction, and John Allsup has done the publishing history. And George Jasieniecki has written a brilliant article on the London location, eseential for those who don't know London, and very interesting for those who do. The twins are on fine form in this stirring London adventure concerning forges paintings - I was a little worried about Jon as he raced through the streets of London and having to stop every so often because of stitch, it seems to me he wasn't as fit as a young man his age should be, but the thrill of the chase is there, and the characters are great. James and his fiancee Judith are a bit wet, almost Blytonesque, in fact, but the story is terrific and, as always, the GGBP package is brilliant. I particularly like the wraparound cover, it has a feel of the 1950s and is quite beautiful. This is a first class book, quite different from the other Lone Piners, which are all set in the countryside, but nonetheless just as enjoyable. Scroll down to read about GGBP's fantastic new book about Malcolm Savile. See also ViV Turner's MALCOLM SAVILLE: A FRIENDSHIP REMEMBERED below.




Malcolm Saville is one of Girls Gone By’s most popular authors. As a young girl, Vivien Turner wrote to him to say how much she loved his books.  He responded warmly, and she went on to enjoy a friendship of some thirty years with the author, visiting him in his home, and receiving many letters from him, full of news about his books and life.  She wrote the quizzes for the Lone Pine Newsletter, compiled (at the author’s request) a Lone Pine Index and helped him make decisions about the plot of the final Lone Pine book, Home to Witchend.Click here to see some pages from Malcolm Saville: A Friendship Remembered.

How often do we wish we could catch a glimpse of how the books we love came to be written, and of the life and thoughts of the author who crafted them?  In this book, ViV shares her many memories of Malcolm Saville, quoting from his letters and phone conversations, as well as from reviews, publicity handouts, fan mail and newsletters, to give details of his writing process, of publishing and publicity decisions, of discussions about titles, settings, and storylines, and of the real life stories behind the books. She describes visits to Malcolm Saville’s home and shares the moment when she was shown the original Lone Pine.  With her husband, she embarked on a series of holidays to visit the locations of the Lone Pine books, and, using Malcolm Saville’s hints to guide her, saw many of the original settings for his adventures—including Witchend, King’s Holt, the Grasshopper and Amory’s.  Readers can discover what contemporary fans thought of the books (and what they complained about), who the original Jane, of Jane’s Country Year, was,  details of Mary Morton’s mysteriously changing eyes and who Penny nearly ended up marrying.  The book gives several examples of Lone Pine quizzes and contains previously unpublished photos of Malcolm Saville and the locations for his books.

This is not a biography—it is a very personal memoir of one man, his books, and his writing career from the person he called his ‘favourite fan’. The mixture of background detail, personal reminiscence and quoted material combine to give an affectionate portrayal of Malcolm Saville and to bring his books even more vividly and enjoyably to life.

Viv Turner writes
"I felt impelled to write this book in repayment of a debt. I had enjoyed
 the trust and confidence of this exceptional man which had developed over the years both in his professional and his personal life. It was a challenging undertaking, but I owed it to his memory. I had something special and unique to share."Many happy occasions are recalled. I was sent on treasure hunts to find many of the locations that Mr Saville used in the Lone Pine series. He was delighted when these locations were found, but equally gleeful when I had been unsuccessful and was given another clue and asked to try again. This was easy to carry out in Shropshire, but I was still given instructions to return to Yorkshire and to Dartmoor, which I did."Mr Saville showed me himself the Sussex locations and this is why I know that there is a real Amorys and a real Grasshopper. and I photographed them. He gave me an old photograph of 'Jon's Mill' which I treasure. Sadly, the Mill was blown down many years ago, but it remains vivid in my memory. "Devising quizzes was great fun and compiling the Index was satisfying and meticulous work. Other diverse matters I also speak of and after so long I still miss the man that I was privileged to have known. "The book will also remind as of more innocent times long gone in this  fast changing world. In sharing my friendship with todays as well as  yesterdays fans of Mr Saville, I hope I will give interest and pleasure,  but, most of all, will give an insight into what this remarkable man was  really like."
ViV Turner is in the most enviable position of having met and corresponded with her favourite author, and of having stuck up a lifelong friendship with him and his wife. This book is a collection of reminiscences of those meetings and letters she shared with Malcolm Savile, and it makes for fascinating reading. Not a biography, but something altogether more personal and, for that reason, far more interesting. GGBP's collection of republished Lone Piners is exemplary, and this magnificent volume complements it perfectly. Plenty of brilliant photographs and illustrations, and even some Lone Piners' quizzes to keep you amused. This is a wonderful and most extraordinary gift, and is most welcome, fans of the Lone Pine series will treasure it, I am sure.


Liberty Meadows 10th Anniversary Special Edition (Image Comics)

It's hard to believe that Liberty Meadows, the brilliant creation of Frank Cho, has been around for ten years! This beautiful book starts with the very first Liberty Meadows comic strip and introduces all of the fantastic characters in a way only Frank Cho can do it. Cho's artwork is sublime, and it's not difficult to see why he and Liberty Meadows have such a following. Kindly supplied by Diamond Book DIstributors for review.






Elinor Brent Dyer: The Chalet SchoolGoes To It

Girls Gone By Publishers PB


The Chalet School is on the move again. After a happy two terms in Guernsey, the threat from enemy attack is so great that the school must transfer to the mainland. Luckily, Plas Howell in Armishire proves an ideal location, even though Gwensi Howell bitterly resents this upset into her previously spoiled life. Joey is not far away, and able to give help when needed. This is very much a Chalet School story, but we can also not forget the War, and those members of the school who had to be left behind in Nazi occupied Europe. Introductory Material: Tim Jolly has written an fascinating article on the boat trip from Guernsey and Adrianne Fitzpatrick has provided a really interesting introduction on the Herefordshire locations of the Armifordshire titles, with some absolutely superb photographs. Another stonking story of the Chalet girls following their two-term exile in Guernsey. The only fly in the ointment for me is the county names EBD dreamt up for this onw - Armifordshire is a most unlikely name for an English county - doesn't detract from the story in any way, which is quite superb, and the introductory material about the schools used as models for the Chalet school is absolutely priceless.




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Books Monthly is published by Paul Edmund Norman on the first day of each month. Web design is by Gateway. Submitting to Books Monthly: Basically, all you need do is e-mail it along and I'll consider it - it can be any length, if it's very long I'll serialise it, if it's medium-length I'll put it in as a novella, if it's a short story or a feature article it will go in as it comes. Payment is zero, I'm afraid, as I don't make any money from Books Monthly, I do it all for fun! For Advertising rates in Books Monthly please contact me at paulenorman@yahoo.co.uk Should you be kind enough to want to send me books to review, please contact me by e-mail and I will gladly forward you my home address. Meanwhile, here's how to contact me: paulenorman@yahoo.co.uk