www.booksmonthly.co.uk  December 5th 2013 Supplement                                                                                                                      >>>>>Contact me

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Books always make the best Christmas gifts... there are another sixteen titles to choose from in this first of three weekly supplements...


December 5th 2013 -  these titles arrived after I uploaded the Xmas edition:

Plenty of time to order copies of these fantastic books, or even pick them up in your local bookshop or supermarket... Next supplement will be uploaded Friday, 13th December - there will be more!



 

I already told you about the Lois Lane 75 Years book, details of which you can find on the nostalgia page here... this is the companion volume, a brilliant compilation featuring the first 75 years of Superman himself, published by DC Comics and kindly supplied by Diamond Book Distributors...

 

Superman - A Celebration of 75 Years by DC Comics

Published by DC Comics, Hardback

 

This hardcover retrospective of the Man of Steel includes stories from Action Comics #0, #1-2, #137, #242, #544, #775, and #900, Adventures of Superman #498, Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, Superman #11, #17, #53, #75-76, #141, #149, #247, and #400, Superman Annual #11, and a 1940 story from Look Magazine. Born in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio, Jerome Siegel was, as a teenager, a fan of the emerging literary genre that came to be known as science fiction. Together with schoolmate Joe Shuster, Siegel published several science-fiction fan magazines, and in 1933 they came up with their own science-fiction hero -- Superman. Siegel scripted and Shuster drew several weeks' worth of newspaper strips featuring their new creation, but garnered no interest from publishers or newspaper syndicates. It wasn't until the two established themselves as reliable adventure-strip creators at DC Comics that the editors at DC offered to take a chance on the Superman material -- provided it was re-pasted into comic-book format for DC's new magazine, ACTION COMICS.Siegel wrote the adventures of Superman (as well as other DC heroes, most notably the Spectre, his co-creation with Bernard Baily) through 1948 and then again from 1959-1966, in the interim scripting several newspaper strips including Funnyman and Ken Winston. Jerry Siegel died in January, 1996. Joseph Shuster was born in 1914 in Toronto, Canada. When he was nine, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Shuster met Jerry Siegel. The two became fast friends and collaborators; together, they published the earliest science-fiction fan magazines, where Shuster honed his fledgling art skills. In 1936, he and Siegel began providing DC Comics with such new features as Dr. Occult, Slam Bradley and Radio Squad before selling Superman to DC in 1938. Influenced by such comic-strip greats as Wash Tubbs' Roy Crane, Joe Shuster drew Superman through 1947, after which he left comic books to create the comic strip Funnyman, again with Siegel. Failing eyesight cut short his career, but not before his place in the history of American culture was assured. Shuster died of heart failure on July 30, 1992.

 

Books Monthly says: This is the companion volume to the Lois Lane book I've reviewed on the Nostalgia page - it's a scintillating collection of vintage and new Superman comic strips right from the very start, and taking us through various artists' concepts of the Man of Steel - the sheer energy and pace of the early stories in Action Comics is breathtaking, and the entire Superman canon is one that must take its rightful place in the comic strip action hero hall of fame. DC Comics have produced a fine volume that celebrates the very best superhero of all time in spectacular fashion - the dustjacket conceals a brilliant hard cover from the 1930s which captures the essence of Superman/Clark Kent and confirms his place as one of the all-time greatest characters in adventure fiction. This is a sublime piece of publishing - what's needed now is a celebration of Supergirl - but I guess she wasn't around that early, so we may have to wait until Supergirl's 75th birthday.

 

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Dennis Showalter: The Encyclopedia of Warfare

 

Published by Amber, Hardback

 

Including over 600 colour maps, this extensive volume is a valuable resource for any military history enthusiast. Since war is among the oldest of human activities long antedating the invention of writing presumably the earliest attempts to record it took the form of poems or songs that were performed on suitable occasions. However revealing or inspiring, poems are no substitute for military theory and written history. The Encyclopedia of Warfare concentrates on a systematic listing of all wars, offering an understanding in the nature of the ways in which they were fought and presenting the reader with a survey of the development of military thought and actions. Over 1000 pages long, the encyclopedia will list every major recorded war since earliest times up to the present day. Within the war narrative, where appropriate, there will be descriptions of its campaigns, broken down into battles and sieges. All this will be easily accessed via an extensive index. Including over 600 full colour maps, created specifically for this volume, The Encyclopedia of Warfare is written in a style accessible to the student and general enthusiast alike, and reflecting the latest thought in military history.

 

Books Monthly says: This isn't a book to sit and read - it's very much a reference volume, the kind you used to find in the Reference section in your local library, the kind you'd use to refer to for a piece of history homework, maybe, or if you were preparing to write something for a magazine article. The claim is that the book includes every major recorded war since earliest times - that's not something that can be easily checked, obviously, so you have to take this enormous book at face value. I tried it out with a couple of searches through one of the indices, and found, to my delight, a reasonably concise but good summary of the events at Rorke's Drift, which was the subject of one of the greatest films ever made, Zulu. It passed with flying colours. It runs in at well over 1000 pages, but sits handsomely on any bookshelf, and you have to trust the author to know what he's talking about. The maps are OK, but the words are the main selling point. Would make a brilliant gift for someone with a large library and with an interest in warfare, but that's going to be a bit of a niche market. I suspect this will find its way into public, university and school reference libraries around the world.

 

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The Fifth Beatle... by Vivek Tiwary

 

Published by Dark Horse, Hardback

 

The Fifth Beatle is the untold true story of Brian Epstein, the visionary manager who discovered and guided the Beatles - from their gigs in a tiny cellar in Liverpool to unprecedented international stardom. Yet more than merely the story of "The Man Who Made the Beatles," The Fifth Beatle is an uplifting, tragic, and ultimately inspirational human story about the struggle to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Brian himself died painfully lonely at the young age of thirty-two, having helped the Beatles prove through "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" that pop music could be an inspirational art form. He was homosexual when it was a felony to be so in the United Kingdom, Jewish at a time of anti-Semitism, and from Liverpool when it was considered just a dingy port town.

 

Review copy kindly supplied by Diamond Book Distributors...

 

Books Monthly says: Some people have Stuart Sutcliffe as the fifth Beatle, others name Pete Best, the drummer who was sacked by George Martin on the eve of their monumental recording session for the Please Please Me album - for me, there were only ever four Beatles, and a manager... and George Martin. But what Tiwary does is to make a very strong case for Epstein - this is a beautifully drawn "comic strip" by Kyle Baker and Andrew Robinson telling the tragic story of a man who had the world at his feet, a man who was a visionary and a guide, a man with the business sense to recognise something that would conquer the world, but a man at the same time who was reckless in his own personal life, flouting convention and breaking the laws of the time, living on the edge, living dangerously. It's a well-known story, but the writers and artists fill in many gaps with a stylised form that's at once both nostalgic and at the same time reminiscent of the art styles that were prevalent as the Beatles set out on their quest to be the best. Epstein remains a legend in the Beatles canon, his vision and his moulding of them into acceptable "mopheads" counts among the best managerial achievements of all time. This is a superb publication, out of the blue and a worthy celebration of their fiftieth anniversary. Wonderful stuff. WARNING: Contains adult content that might not be suitable for children

 

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Buried Angels by Camilla Lackberg

 

Published by HarperFiction, Hardback

 

No. 1 international bestseller and Swedish crime sensation Camilla Lackberg’s new psychological thriller featuring Detective Patrick Hedstrom and Erica Falck – irresistible for fans of Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo. Easter, 1974. A family vanishes without a trace from the island of Valö outside of Fjällbacka. The dinner table has been exquisitely set, but everyone except the one year-old daughter Ebba is gone. Are they victims of a crime or have they voluntarily disappeared? Years later Ebba returns to the island and the old summer camp where her father ruled a boarding school with an iron hand. She and her husband Tobias have recently lost their three year-old son, and in an attempt to overcome their grief they have decided to renovate the house and open a B&B. Erica Falck’s interest is piqued - she has researched the tragic and mysterious history of the family, and looks forward to meeting Ebba. But the couple have barely settled in before they are subjected to an attempt of arson. And when they begin to remove the floor boards in the dining room, they find dried blood underneath…

 

Books Monthly says: One word sums up the atmosphere in this chiller from Swedish crime duenna Camilla Lackberg - creepy. Right from the start there's something creepy going on. I'm never comfortable reading about killers targeting children, but it's a part of real life, and the author treats her subject sensitively and with compassion. It's not all about the children, of course - the characters are spot on and the tension is, well, creepy. A real shocker, one of the very best Scandinavian crime authors around.

 

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The Art of Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag

 

Published by Titan Books, hardback

 

The recently announced Assassin’s Creed® IV Black FlagTM sees a sea change for the game franchise with a harsh new setting in the Golden Age of pirates. With intricately detailed environments and finely honed and evocative historical re-imaginings, The Art of Assassin’s Creed® IV Black FlagTM includes the game’s vast nautical gameplay, and its amazing range of locations, characters and action. With lavishly depicted environments and a cast including real historical figures like Blackbeard and Calico Jack, these evocative re-imaginings become a world into which you can immerse yourself and feel the echoes of the past come to life... Continuing in the footsteps of this already world-renowned franchise, Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag is set to be the biggest and best release yet. Recognised within the industry for its rich, engrossing art and storytelling, Assassin's Creed transcends the world of video games, evolving with ease into entertainment experiences including comic books, Facebook games, novels, short films and more...

 

Books Monthly says:  I don't play PC or console games, but I know good art when I see it, and this is staggeringly good. It sets out to illustrate the amount of work that has gone into the making of Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag, which is reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean, but based in part on real people, such as Blackbeard the Pirate, and kind of morphs into a fine art book - the paintings are sumptuous, and really wouldn't look out of place in an art gallery. If you're a regular reader of Books Monthly you'll know that I find anything that doesn't look like what it's supposed to be in the world of art, smacking of the Emperor's New Clothes, even with such painters as Picasso - I can see nothing of merit in his paintings, or in the modern art daubs that look as though a three-year-old child had done them. I have the utmost admiration for fantasy artists like Boris Vallejo and the like, and the painters/artists who produce pictures of the quality to be found in this superb book illustrating a best-selling PC/Console game are among the finest painters working in the world today. This is mind-blowing, beautiful to behold, a superb collection of pirate and Caribbean island studies, and well deserving of being published in book form. I'm not inspired to go out and buy Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag, and I don't believe the publishers intended the book to do that. More and more film, TV and games are dependent on the very best paintings and painters, and this book celebrates them to the utmost. Absolutely stunning.

 

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Don Troiani's American Battles

 

Published by Stackpole Books, Paperback

 

This panoramic tour of Americas military past is a must-have for artists and historians alike to peruse and enjoy The lavish, detailed masterpieces of Don Troianis American Battles are now available in a paperback edition. American Battles offers history enthusiasts a detailed, high-drama recreation of the soldiers and wars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, beginning with the French and Indian War and continuing through the War of 1812 and the end of the Civil War. In addition to 172 full-page prints of Troianis work and his own personal commentary, this collection showcases artwork previously found only in Troiani's own private collection. Also featured are narratives from some of the biggest names in military history, including Robert Krick and the late Brian Pohanka. This panoramic tour of America's military past is a must-have for artists and historians alike to peruse and enjoy. An attendee of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and New York Citys Art Students League, Troiani paints with a keen eye for detail and historical accuracy. Depictions of legendary Civil War scenes -- from Gettysburg to Manassas, Stonewall Jackson to Joshua Chamberlain -- comprise 80 percent of the works in his American Battles collection, making it the perfect purchase to celebrate the 150th Anniversary events of this decade. Troianis artwork has been printed in numerous major collections, including American Heritage, the National Park Service, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Pentagon, and the Smithsonian Institute.

 

Books Monthly says: I reviewed this a couple of issues ago, but another copy has landed on my table and I was reminded of how exquisitely detailed and brilliantly posed the paintings in this magnificent book are. If you've just read my comments on The Art of Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag above, you'll know that this is another fine collection of paintings that really do look like what they're meant to be - this is no time for impressionism, Troiani's paintings reflect the men who fought in the various conflicts in which America was involved in all their glory, their triumph, their disaster. The expressions on the mens' faces, the detail on their uniforms and in their weaponry, the sheer brilliance of the settings and the landscapes are truly beyond description. This is another book, the paintings in which would be at home in a fine art gallery. Superb, simply superb.

 

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Will's Galactic Adventure by Edwin Pearson

 

Published by Matador, Paperback

 

The last thing Will is expecting when he embarks on a geography field trip to Wales with his schoolfriends is an exciting, action-packed adventure. But what is waiting for him on the misty Welsh mountains is a lot more exciting than the landmarks their geography teacher, Mr. Frobisher, has in store for his pupils... After Will falls and bangs his head along their walk, he comes to, surrounded by an interesting cast of characters -  Mavis, a lady dressed entirely in black silk, Drych, a blue Welsh dragon (don't ask him why he's not red), and the disembodied cockney voice of Spiv. Their spaceship has crashed and only Will can help the stranded threesome out. He finds himself having to pilot an alien spaceship across the galaxy to capture a pair of intergalactic criminals... The crew on his spaceship have various unusual talents that help the friends' adventure, but none of them can actually fly the spaceship without Will's help. However, things don't go exactly to plan, and before long the tables are turned, with the criminals chasing them! As their troubles multiply, Will again finds himself separated from the group - and this time he is the only one with a chance of rescuing his new friends...

 

Books Monthly says: Well, if Bill and Ted could have a galactic adventure, why not Will? This is an utterly charming, funny and very exciting collection of mishaps and adventure which befall Will whilst on a field trip in Wales. The characters are engaging, the kind of things that happen to him would not have been out of place in the kind of comics we used to read in the 1950s/1960s - in fact, that's what I was reminded of, a comic strip story, and that's no bad thing, believe me. Great fun.

 

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Hearts of Darkness by Paul Lawrence

 

Published by Allison and Busby, hardback

 

1666. London is recovering from the Great Plague and mourning it's dead - The city is free at last, like a great old bear, beaten to its knees, bloody but unbowed. But the disease slithered out of London to wreak its evil upon other towns and cities. The worst was over, the Pestilence gone, in search of new feeding grounds, bounteous and plentiful in the villages outside of the London. Harry Lytle, who works for Lord Arlington's intelligence service, is sent to Essex where the plague is breeding to track down a traitor and bring him back alive. But things get tricky when Lord Arlington's lastest recruit for the mission is a man Lytle left dead. Having learnt first hand of Lord Arlington's barbaric cruelty, Lytle knows he can't refuse the job. Travelling into a disease-ridden village with a murderer seems like a better option.

 

Books Monthly says: The only thing I can find wrong with this superb tale is the chapter headings, purporting to come from an Almanac published at the time the events unfold - they just don't ring true for me, the language is not quite right, the words are almost but not quite genuine. But the story is brilliant - we're all too familiar with crime fiction set in the 20th and 21st centuries, and there are a few excellent mediaeval mysteries out there, but Lawrence has excelled himself in conjuring up the atmosphere of a plague-ridden London and its environs, and spares us no grisly details as the action unfolds. With the threat of the plague round every corner and in every hovel, Lytle is always at the mercy of the fates... somehow he manages to pull through and to get to the whereabouts of the missing traitor, but the smells, the rank filth the author conjures up help you to get into the world he's created, a world that people actually lived and worked in. It's brilliant.

 

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Apollo 13 Owners' Workshop Manual

 

Published by Haynes Publishing, hardback

 

On 13 April 1970, Apollo 13 suffered a near-catastrophic explosion. The planned lunar landing was instantly called off and the new challenge was to get the spacecraft safely back to Earth. When the carbon dioxide in the three astronauts exhaled breath threatened to asphyxiate them, the crew improvised a filter device, which had been tested in Mission Control, to make the air breathable. Only hours before hurtling back into the atmosphere did they power up the Apollo spacecraft again not knowing if it had been fatally damaged in the explosion. Here is the in-depth, inside technical story of how a potential disaster became NASA s finest hour, told by a member of the team working in Mission Control during the crisis to ensure the astronauts safety.

 

Books Monthly says: For all the wrong reasons, Apollo 13 was the best remembered of all of the Apollo Lunar missions - the euphoria of the July 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing was followed by lukewarm interest in Apollo 12, which brought very little new to a watching public - only those of us passionate about manned spaceflight found it of interest, and that had to be weighed against the cost of the programme. When Apollo 13 reported that "Houston, we have a problem", ears pricked up and all of a sudden the moon landing programme was once again big news... The film starring Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise tells most of the story, but doesn't go into too much technical detail for obvious reasons. This is where this Haynes Manual comes in. There is far more technical content in this owners' workshop manual than in any other non-car manual that I've ever encountered from the magnificent Haynes Publishing Group. The entire propulsion and electrical systems are explained in minute detail, complete with cutaway diagrams and photographs, along with a history of the mission and how the finest minds in the American Space Programme at NASA came up with solutions to keep not one but three men alive while Apollo 13 limped back to Earth orbit and then to a dramatic rescue. A fantastic book, one that inspires a belief that mankind has a destiny in space exploration and will soon return to the Moon and then to Mars and beyond. Fantastic.

 

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Rivals: Classic Liverpudlian Derby Games

 

Published by Haynes Publishing, paperback

 

Merseyside derby matches are the ones most keenly awaited when the fixture lists are published each July. Such is the intense rivalry between the two clubs, the pre-match build up is a mixture of trepidation and anticipation in perhaps equal measures depending on which team currently has the most success on the field. The deep-seated intensity between the two clubs dates back to 1892 when a dispute in the ranks at Everton led to them moving the short distance across Stanley Park to set up home at Goodison Park and the formation of Liverpool FC. Everton had been founder members of the Football League in 1888 while Liverpool turned professional in the year of their formation. Both Liverpool and Everton have enjoyed sustained periods of success during their existence with managers such as Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Harry Catterick and Howard Kendall leading the charge to fill the trophy cabinet. On the field, legends such as Dixie Dean, Neville Southall, Kevin Ratcliffe, Ray Clemence, Ian Rush and Kevin Keegan have thrilled fans with their dedication and skill but Gary Ablett has the distinction of being the only player to win the FA Cup with both clubs. This book tells the fascinating tale of the Merseyside derby with full statistics that will end any arguments opposing fans might have.

 

Books Monthly says: Please note - other premiership derby games are available... but this one holds my interest because, for some unknown reason, even to me, Liverpool are the football team I have always followed after the 1966 England World Cup win caught my imagination and found me watching football on Match of the Day. It's a long time since Liverpool won the league - the last time was with Kenny Dalglish, when the honours seemed to shared alternately with Man Utd and Alex Ferguson. But now, twenty-odd years later, they're second in the table (at the time of writing) and looking good for a Champions' League place at least next year. This wonderful little book details a number of classic encounters between the two Merseyside clubs, with match statistics, commentaries, team names etc. It's one for fans of the beautiful game and in particular followers of Liverpool and Everton. A superb reminder of the best derby in the premiership.

 

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One Pair of Feet by Monica Dickens

 

Published by Haynes Publishing, paperback

 

As the effects of the war raging in Europe begin to be felt at home in London, Monica Dickens decides to do her bit and to pursue a new career, and so enrols as a student nurse at a hospital in rural Hertfordshire. By nature clever and spirited, she struggles to submit to the iron rule of the Matron and Sisters, and is alternately infuriated and charmed by her patients. That's not to mention the mountains of menial work that are a trainee's lot. But there are friends among the staff and patients, night-time escapades to dances with dashing army men, and her secret writing project to keep her going.

 

Books Monthly says: Long before Jennifer Worth thought about writing her memoirs of her time as a midwife, Monica Dickens was entertaining us with memoroies of her exploits below and above stairs in ONE PAIR OF HANDS, and then, in 1942, with an account of how she reached the decision to become a nurse in the sublime ONE PAIR OF FEET. It's as fresh today as it was when it was first published, during the second world war, and I remember reading it when I started work in the public library service in Hertfordshire in 1964. I probably didn't recognise my passion for nostalgia back then, it sort of crept up on me, but of course, this was nostalgia even then, twenty years after the end of the war - there's little mention of the politics of the war, but plenty of character cameos, of the hierarchy within the hospital, how you weren't, as a nurse, supposed to address doctors directly, but had to go through the medium of a senior nurse, a sister or a matron. Cameos of her fellow trainees, their having to attend lectures during their off-duty hours if they wanted to progress further in the profession, and cameos of the patients, of course. It's a brilliant, laugh out loud read, wonderfully written and well deserving of its resurrention by Virago. My one regret is that, superb as the cover illustration is, it's presumably of an American nurse, as the credit mentions the Minnesota Historical Society... This is a wonderful book.

 

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The Lie by Helen Dunmore

 

Published by Hutchinson, hardback, on 16th January 2014

 

Set during and just after the First World War, The Lie is an enthralling, heart-wrenching novel of love, memory and devastating loss by one of the UK's most acclaimed storytellers. Cornwall, 1920, early spring. A young man stands on a headland, looking out to sea. He is back from the war, homeless and without family. Behind him lie the mud, barbed-wire entanglements and terror of the trenches. Behind him is also the most intense relationship of his life. Daniel has survived, but the horror and passion of the past seem more real than the quiet fields around him. He is about to step into the unknown. But will he ever be able to escape the terrible, unforeseen consequences of a lie?

 

Books Monthly says: The blurb gives nothing away - what is the lie? Could it be that Daniel deserted? Could it be that he knows something about someone he was serving with on the western front who deserted, or who died ignominiously rather than as a hero, as was first thought? You will be drawn into this brilliant story, in which Helen conjures up visions of the hell the tommies existed in, the graphic descriptions of the trenches, of the dead soldiers, of the sheer hopelessness and helplessness they found themselves encountering - but more than just a memoir of WWI, this is a revelation, a story about a young man tormented, and not knowing where to turn, not knowing how to rid himself of the tortured nightmares he has to endure night after night, day after day as he lives "the lie". Superb, harrowing, brilliant.

 

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The Cure by David J Godden

 

Published by Matador, paperback

 

Kill or Cure? An encounter with Eric, a young man severely disabled by Multiple Sclerosis (MS), prompts Dr Ray Shepherd to join the famous neurologist, Professor Gerard Carter, to study new treatments. Ray's relationship with Carter is uneasy from the outset. Early in their animal studies, genetically modified mice are exposed in error to prions, the cause of mad cow disease. To his amazement, Ray discovers that this reverses the nerve damage caused by MS. Faced with a potential miracle cure, the team plans a clinical trial in humans. Recruiting for the trial, Ray encounters the heart breaking stories of all kinds of people dying of this awful disease. As the trial progresses, some make a spectacular physical recovery while others continue to deteriorate. However, severe behavioural and psychotic symptoms begin to appear in some of the responders. Carter, who is negotiating a multi-million dollar deal to develop the treatment, demands that Ray falsifies their clinical records, removing reference to these problems, and threatens to destroy Ray's career if he does not comply. While Ray tries to gather evidence to expose Carter as a fraud, the terrible consequences of the psychotic side effects unfold in the most dramatic way...Dealing with the discovery of a potential cure for multiple sclerosis, this novel leads you into the world of laboratory animal research and human clinical trials. David J Godden's real life experience gives an insider's view of the consequences of medical research.

 

Books Monthly says: The medical crime mystery has for some time been cornered by Robin Cook, so this is a refreshing and highly original addition to the genre from David Godden. It's reminiscent of but by no means identical to the plot of a film I saw once starring Hugh Grant and Gene Hackman, and that's inevitable, I guess, but Godden has done a sterling job holding together a complex but very original and enjoyabvle plot, and his character studies are brilliant. Add to that some truly realistic dialogue, and you have a great thriller that will see you through a few days. Excellent.

 

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My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo

 

Published by Michael Joseph, hardback

 

Rachel Khoo follows The Little Paris Kitchen with The Little French Kitchen, bringing her modern twists to classic recipes from around the country. Rachel Khoo became an overnight sensation when her first book The Little Paris Kitchen and BBC2 television series launched last year. Coveting her Parisian lifestyle, fashion sense and, more importantly, her accessible, delicious recipes cooked up in her tiny kitchen, the nation took her to their hearts and now they can receive second helpings. Taking her 'Little Paris Kitchen' on tour in her second official book, Rachel is leaving the capital city to travel to the four corners of France in search of the very best recipes in the country. From the snow-topped mountains and Christmas markets of Alsace to the winemaking region of the Bordeaux, the dreamy vistas of Provence and the well-stocked larders of Brittany and Normandy, Rachel seeks inspiration in some of the best-known foodie places as well as uncovering hidden insights, all ready to share with you. Recipes include: pork and clams with cider and butter beans, spicy aubergine sticks with couscous, baked figs with walnuts, beer-glazed ham hock, caramelized apple bake and spiced almond biscuits. Join Rachel Khoo on her tour de France in The Little French Kitchen. Rachel is a graduate of Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design in London. It was her passion for patisserie that lured her to Paris, where she obtained a pastry diploma. She then put her skills to use at the delightful Paris culinary bookstore and tea salon, La Cocotte, where she catered for book launches and hosted cookery classes. Working as a freelancer, she now travels the world working on a variety of projects, from workshops to catering for huge blue-chip client events to smaller, intimate pop-up restaurants. Her first book was The Little Paris Kitchen, accompanying her hit BBC2 television series. She writes a weekly recipe column for the Evening Standard.

 

Books Monthly says: Full of stunning photographs and containing a hundred or so truly original recipes, Rachel organises her book by the region of France in which she's travelling and getting her inspiration from. She's a great TV presenter, and the book and its recipes are testament to that fact. It's a book that will have you thinking outside your comfort zone, because the sumptuous photos will inspire you to try some of Rachel's food combinations - I love apples and I love black pudding, but I'd never thought of combining the two in a pie, and maybe I don't have the courage to try it even now, but it's set me thinking about flavour and food combinations. One of the best celebrity chef/recipe books of the year.

 

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Him and Me by Jack & Michael Whitehall

 

Published by Michael Joseph, hardback

 

Him & Me is a hugely entertaining and irreverent account of a unique relationship between a father and son. Written in two distinctive styles, it reflects the larger-than-life personalities of its authors, Jack and Michael Whitehall.  'This book is a portrait of the pretty odd relationship I have with my elderly father. It's given me an opportunity to share memories of him losing his temper with foreigners on holidays, being rude to my mother's family at Christmas and failing epically during the fathers' race at my prep school. He's also written some stories about me, but can I just say, before you read anything, that I recall being a calm, well-behaved and learned child, not the intellectually subnormal, mal-coordinated dipshit that he paints me as. Nor am I, as he suggests inside, a sex addict, a flasher or a Scientologist.' Jack. 'How dare Jack refer to me as elderly! People always tell me how young I look for my age. In this book, I have at last been able to recount the many occasions when I have been let down by my only son. He failed on the stage, the sports field and he even screwed up the interview for his first boarding school by pretending he had mental health issues. Despite being practically illiterate, he tells stories about me, strewn with grammatical errors and peppered with endless exaggerations and lies. I was a kind, doting father, who guided his son through his formative years with love, care and respect.' Michael. 'I'm not your only son, what about Barnaby?' 'Oh yes, I forgot about Barnaby.' Packed with anecdotes, some embarrassing and indiscreet, many warm and touching, Him & Me is lavishly illustrated with family photographs and Jack's original illustrations. Friends, relatives, neighbours, teachers, actors, none are safe once Jack and Michael have opened up the Whitehall archives and shared their hilarious memories with us.

 

Books Monthly says: It seems that Jack Whitehall is never off TV at the moment - last week he hosted HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU - I thought the audience were a little weak, a little less than enthusiastic, and I found him charming and funny as usual. I've watched him on WOULD I LIE TO YOU, and regularly on QI - we tried BAD EDUCATION but instead of a school series for adults, it turned out to be rather - well, juvenile, and after the first episode, the rest simply weren't as funny as they should have been. We've also seen the TV advert, the trailer, for BACKCHAT, which is really the basis for this exceptionally funny book of memories. What emerges from it is a deep love and understanding of each other, a charm and a bond between them that surpasses anything else in their lives. The handwritten notes in the margins are a delight, the actual reminiscences are genuinely funny and heartwarming, and the cast of actors and actresses who materialise throughout the book are a joy. I suspect Michael Whitehall is a Conservative, because of his comments about John Gummer and the Thatcher years. Not sure about Jack - he strikes me as a bit of an anarchit, in a way. Upper class, to be sure, the both of them, though in reality, as they both work for a living, (at least, Michael did before he retired, now he's working again, of course, with Jack!) they both qualify as working class in a sense. But politics aside, Jack has burst onto our TV screens in spectacular fashion - he is, at times, genuinely, hilariously funny, and this is a terrific book of memories and mutual love for each other and for Hilary, Jack's Mum, Michael's wife. Superb fun.

 

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Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French

 

Published by Penguin, paperback

 

RDawn French, number one bestelling author of A Tiny Bit Marvellous and one of Britain's best loved comic writers, returns with Oh Dear Silvia, a darkly comic page-turner that will have you hanging on her every word. Who is in Coma Suite Number 5? A matchless lover? A supreme egotist? A selfless martyr? A bad mother? A cherished sister? A selfish wife? All of these. For this is Silvia Shute who has always done exactly what she wants. Until now, when her life suddenly, shockingly stops. Her past holds a dark and terrible secret, and now that she is unconscious in a hospital bed, her constant stream of visitors are set to uncover the mystery of her broken life. And she must lie there, victim of the beloveds, the borings, the babblings and the plain bonkers. Like it or not, the truth is about to pay Silvia a visit. Again, and again and again... Oh Dear Silvia is the brand new novel from one of Britain's most loved comic writers and the number one bestselling author of A Tiny Bit Marvellous. Praise for Dawn French: 'Extremely funny' Sunday Times. 'A fantastic slam-dunk pageturner' Mail on Sunday. Dawn French has been making people laugh for thirty years. On purpose. As a writer, comedian and actor, she has appeared in some of this country's most long running, cherished and celebrated shows, including French and Saunders, The Comic Strip Presents. . ., Murder Most Horrid, The Vicar of Dibley, Jam and Jerusalem, Lark Rise to Candleford, and more recently, Roger and Val Have Just Got In. Her bestselling memoir, Dear Fatty, was published to critical acclaim in 2008. Her first novel, A Tiny Bit Marvellous, was also a great success, going straight to No.1.

 

Books Monthly says: I can't wait to get stuck into this - I'm reading ONE PAIR OF FEET at the moment, but when it arrived I couldn't help reading the first dozen or so pages. I've always suspected that Dawn's sense of humour is a little left-field, a little off-kilter, she's the kind of woman who would have been inspired by Milligan and the Pythons, I think. I didn't get to read her first book, though I will now seek it out at charity shops and boot sales. This, her second novel, is a darkly comic tale about a woman in a coma whose terrible secret comes out by means of the people who visit her. It looks like a genuinely, savagely comic tale that will entertain me hugely in the days to come...

 

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New titles in this Supplement...

Superman: Celebrating 75 Years

The Encyclopedia of Warfare

The Fifth Beatle Graphic Novel

Terrific new thriller from Camilla Lackberg

The Art of Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag

Don Troiani's American Battles

Will's Galactic Adventure

Hearts of Darkness

Apollo 13 Owners' Workshop Manual

Rivals: Everton vs Liverpool

Monica Dickens' One Pair of Feet

The Lie by Helen Dunmore

The Cure by David J Godden

My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo

Him and Me by Jack & Michael Whitehall

Oh Dear Silvia by Dawn French

A plethora of captivating Crime novels awaits you on the Crime & Thrillers page, including a new Kathy Reichs, a new Lynda La Plante, a superb novel about Dr Watson as he solves his first case in the trenches of the Western Front, and two new editions of His Last Bow and The Return of Sherlock Holmes from BBC Books to mark the return of the Sherlock series...

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On the Nonfiction page in this Christmas gift special issue:

On the Children's page in this Christmas gift special issue:

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Celebrating 75 years of Lois Lane, Superman's girlfriend, on the Nostalgia page...

Celebrating 15 years on the web - a magnificat and splendy dexmas to one and all...

A note about the next issue of Books Monthly... In common with previous years, I shall continue to add to this issue until about a week before Christmas, so check back often - there will be extra pages and lots more excellent books to choose for Christmas gifts while there is still time to order them for Christmas... Then, the next issue of Books Monthly will appear towards the end of January, when I hope to have a review of the best books of 2013 and look forward to what's coming in the new year. In the meantime, if you're a publisher, my sincere and heartfelt thanks for helping me to celebrate fifteen years of Books Monthly in such spectacular style... if you're a reader, I hope you've managed to find something you didn't know about or weren't sure about, either for yourself or for someone in your family, or among your friends. And most of all, I wish you all a magnificat and splendy dexmas... Keep checking back, you never know what you'll find! Love and best wishes, Paul...

 

PS If you're an author, well, you're one of many thousands of people who've given me the very best job in the world - reading and commenting on your wonderful, wonderful books! One day soon, I hope to join your ranks... maybe 2014?

 

Next supplement: Thursday December 12th - keep coming back!

 

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booksmonthly.co.uk is published by Paul Norman on or before the first day of every month. Contributions in the form of reviews, feature articles or short stories are always welcome, use the "CONTACT ME" link in the menu to get in touch.