www.booksmonthly.co.uk  December 16th 2013 Supplement                                                                                                                  >>>>>Contact me

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Books always make the best Christmas gifts... there are more fantastic titles to choose from in this third of three weekly supplements...

Season's Greetings, Booklovers!

This is it - I've brought it forward by a couple of days - the last Christmas supplement for 2013 - still more fantastic new titles to rush out and grab hold of from your local bookshop - there may yet be time to get them from Amazon, even... STOP PRESS: Six wonderful Dorling Kindersley book added today: 20/12/13 - your local W H Smith or Waterstones or indy bookseller may well have stocks of these titles - there's still time! A very Merry Christmas to One and All!


Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers - A New Translation by Will Hobson


Published by BBC Books, Paperback on January 2nd 2014


The young Gascon d'Artagnan and the legendary musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis are ready to sacrifice everything for love, glory and the common good. The wicked machinations of Cardinal Richelieu and his accomplice, the magnetic Milady de Winter, propel the devoted friends across seas and battlefields from masked balls to a remote convent, in order to defend the honour of the Queen and the life of Constance Bonacieux, d'Artagnan's true love. Dashing, knockabout, romantic, violent, chilling and tragic, this buoyant new translation of The Three Musketeers brings Dumas' masterpiece to joyful life.


Books Monthly says: Many people of my generation will know the basic story of The Three Musketeers from reading the original (in translation), or an adaptation, probably for children. There have been many film and TV adaptations, too, so any new version of the tale will have to be judged on the success of its translation. This latest version, published in the first week of 2014, is a BBC TV series tie-in, a twn-part classic serial, though we don't yet know what slot it will occupy, Saturday night or Sunday night - my guess is that it will be a replacement for the awful ATLANTIS on Saturday nights, after Doctor Who, but I could be wrong about that, and we'll find out in due course, presumably. So, the only way to judge this new translation is to compare it with ones that have gone before... but no one is going to sit and do that, so what I've done is to read this version and to see if it ties in with the story I know and love, and to see if the dialogue is readable and not stilted, and finally, to see if I enjoyed it as much as the other versions I've read. It wins hands down on all three counts. The story is exactly as I remembered it, the dialogue is sparkling, rich with the classic speech that brings it into line with Shakespeare and Dickens, and I really, really enjoyed it, especially the dry humour, the tongue-in-cheek offerings that characterise the writings of Alexandre Dumas. I'm not a French scholar (I may have been once, in a previous life, fifty years ago, when I was studying Racine, and Merrimée), but I do love classic fiction, and this is a true classic, even if it's been brought to us by way of translations. I can't wait for the new serialisation to start, because The Three Musketeers has always been one of my favourite stories, and this will bring it to a whole new generation of readers, just as the adaptations of JANE EYRE and the various versions of our beloved Dickens novels have captured and captivated us in the past. A brilliant start to 2014 - a mammoth classic novel and a ten-part serial based on it on BBC One. Superb!


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Max Allan Collins: The Wrong Quarry


Published by Hard Case Crime, Paperback on January 10th 2014


Quarry doesn't kill just anybody these days. He restricts himself to targeting other hitmen, availing his clients of two services: eliminating the assassins, and finding out who hired themand then removing that problem as well. So far he's rid of the world of nobody who would be missed. But this time he finds himself zeroing in on the grieving family of a missing cheerleader. Is this the right quarry? Max Allan Collins is the author of Road to Perdition, the acclaimed graphic novel that inspired the movie, and of the multiple-award-winning Nathan Heller series of historical hardboiled mysteries, Max Allan Collins is one of most prolific and popular authors working in the field today. He is also the literary executor of Mickey Spillane.


Books Monthly says: Max Allan Collins is the pure embodiment of everything that is best about pulp fiction - with Hard Case Crime procuring illustrations like the one on the front, you're in danger of believing that you've slipped back in time, to the 1950s, when such novels were ten a penny, not always very well written, but the lurid covers drew you to them, lured you in, and you were hooked. Some were brilliant, like Mickey Spillane, and Raymond Chandler and the like - Max Allan Collins is a living legend, transcending their brilliance, and he never disappoints. Quarry is hard, his women are soft and sexy, and the men he kills are villainous scum - it's a breathtaking combination that will have you glued to your seat till you've finished the book. Superb!


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From Lego to Beer - six perfect gift books for Christmas from Dorling Kindersley!



Lego Minifigure Year By Year - A Visual History


Published by Dorling Kindersley, Hardback


A visual history of the amazing LEGO® minifigure phenomenon, with three minifigures included. Take a trip down memory lane and explore the origins and growth of the amazing LEGO® minifigure with LEGO® Minifigure Year by Year: A Visual History. Year by year, LEGO minifigure ranges are included chronologically and by theme, running from the first minifigures introduced in 1978 to the brand-new LEGO Legends of ChimaT, LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Batman and LEGO Ninjago minifigures popular today. Perfect for any LEGO fan, this visual chronicle is filled with more than 2,000 of the most significant, popular and rarest minifigures complete with stunning photos and additional information on key favourites. Plus, with 3 minifigures embedded in the cover, a LEGO City townsperson, LEGO City robber, and a LEGO Star Wars stormtrooper, it's the ultimate guide to the world of LEGO minifigures. LEGO Minifigure Year by Year: A Visual History is a must-have for LEGO fans of all ages.


Lego - the perfect toy... it can be virtually anything you want, and thanks to the introduction of the minifigure, you can now re-enact just about any scenario you choose. This wonderful book traces the history of the minifigure and will inspire and inform as well as entertain. Absolute must-have for all Lego enthusiasts!


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Make Your Own Stegosaurus


Published by Dorling Kindersley, Hardback


Create your very own dinosaur with no glue and no mess.It's just what every dinosaur fan wants - your very own Stegosaurus! With Make Your Own Stegosaurus you can become an expert paleontologist and build your own dinosaur. No glue and no mess here - 100 sturdy "bones" slot together to make an amazing Stegosaurus skeleton that stands at an impressive 60 centimetres long and 35 centimetres tall. A brilliant book jam-packed with facts tells you all about dinosaur behaviour, the world they lived in and provides clear step-by-step picture instructions of how to build your amazing model. Each section of the book looks at a different part of the mighty Stegosaurus as you piece the skeleton together - his feet and legs, head, hips, tail, ribs and last but not least, his impressive spine and armour plates..So put those bones together, watch out for those plates and head back to the Late Jurassic period with Make Your Own Stegosaurus.


An amazing gift, educational and inspirational, as well as helping to develop motor skills and modelling techniques - this brilliant model is 60cm long and 35cm tall and will grace the desk or shelf of any youngster, whilst the accompanying book describes the world in which these magnificent animals roamed. Superb.


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Lego Play Book - Ideas to Bring Your Bricks to Life


Published by Dorling Kindersley, Hardback


LEGO® Play Book proves it. You can build anything with a LEGO brick in your hand. LEGO® Play Book contains a collection of all-new LEGO building ideas that will inspire you to play with your favourite LEGO models in new and exciting ways. Organised in imaginatively themed chapters, covering everything from a LEGO safari and life under the sea to extreme sports and beach scenes. This book is designed to teach you how to get the most play out of your LEGO models. With over 500 building ideas and tips, including suggestions for "quick builds", "cool brick" features and "a handful of bricks", you'll discover endless LEGO possibilities. Advice from LEGO fan builders encourages you to get creative while developing your LEGO skills and knowledge of new bricks and tricks. With a mixture of LEGO models, from the very simplest to the more complex, LEGO® Play Book is perfect for everyone; for beginners and more accomplished builders alike.


A terrific assortment of plans and ideas for what to do with your Lego brick collection - many of them from readers and Lego enthusiasts themselves, so you know they'll work, and you know they're genuine. Lego is amazing, and anything written about it is amazing too. The perfect book when you're stuck for ideas. Work your way through them...


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RHS What Plant Where Encyclopedia


Published by Dorling Kindersley, Hardback


RHS experts make it easy to find the perfect plant for every site.Whether your garden is stuck in shade or scorching in the sun, RHS What Plant Where Encyclopedia is the go-to guide for making the most of your garden. Solve your garden problems with simple steps to assess your site and soil and then use the at-a-glance classification guide and photos to choose from over 2,000 plants. Landscape your garden with tips for creating stylish beds or borders and inspirational planting "recipes". Plus, a section on fragrant or colourful plants helps transform your garden into your own Eden..RHS What Plant Where Encyclopedia is the indispensible guide to perfect planting.


The Royal Horticultural Society's guide to what plant to choose for every possible scenario. The perfect gift for the gardener, full of beautiful photographs, ideas, plans and facts. Superb.


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Family Kitchen Cookbook - over 700 Recipes


Published by Dorling Kindersley, Hardback


The ultimate cookbook for recipes, tips and tricks to feed the whole family. If you're struggling to find inspiration to cook healthy meals for a busy family and fussy eaters, the Family Kitchen Cookbook is a must-have to save time in the kitchen. Featuring 700 recipes with easy-to-follow instructions and a photograph of each finished dish, it covers from toddlers to teens and everything from batching, freezing and nutritional breakdown to ideas for kids' parties. The Family Kitchen Cookbook contains tips for smart shopping, 30 minute meals and how to turn tonight's leftovers into tomorrow's dinner, everything the busy family cook needs to create healthy and nutritious meals. Plus recipes for easy entertaining and cooking with kids, ensuring that cooking is fun for all the family. The Family Kitchen Cookbook helps you to avoid spending hours in the kitchen with quick, family-friendly recipes for everyone to enjoy.


Dorling Kindersley publish an amazing range of cookery books, but this has to be one of their finest. The instructions could not be clearer, and the accomanying photograps are mouthwatering and inspirational. At a time when everyone's trying to find cheap and effective ways of feeding themselves and their families, this is the perfect book to guide you through the wonderful world of cookery.


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World Beer - Outstanding Classic and Craft Beers from the Greatest Breweries


Published by Dorling Kindersley, Hardback


A beer bible for the beer connoisseur. World Beer gives beer the billing it deserves, proving that there is now as much opportunity for beer connoisseurship as wine and whisky. Craft beer is experiencing a radical renaissance, with new breweries with exciting beer styles and personalities appearing all over the world, from the USA and Japan to the great brewing nations of Europe. Discover the stories of over 800 creative and successful breweries with accompanying maps to show brewery locations, alongside information on the brewing process, different beers and food pairing suggestions. The basics of home brewing are also clearly explained so that you can set up your own microbrewery and become part of the brewing revolution. World Beer showcases the greatest classic and craft beers and breweries, giving this diverse drink of the masses some well-deserved recognition.


The blurb says it all. Everything you could possibly need or want to know about beer...


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The Advent Killer by Alastair Gunn


Published by Michael Joseph, Paperback


The Advent Killer is the electrifying début thriller from British author, Alastair Gunn. Christmas is coming. One body at a time. Three weeks before Christmas: Sunday, one a.m. A woman is drowned in her bathtub. One week later: Sunday, one a.m. A woman is beaten savagely to death, every bone in her body broken. Another week brings another victim. As panic spreads across London, DCI Antonia Hawkins, leading her first murder investigation, must stop a cold, careful killer whose twisted motives can only be guessed at, before the next body is found. On Sunday. When the clock strikes one . . .  A terrifying British début thriller, The Advent Killer introduces DCI Antonia Hawkins, with the second in the series coming from Penguin in 2014. Fans of Chris Carter and Richard Montanari should be paying attention. Alastair Gunn is an experienced magazine journalist. The Advent Killer is the first in a series featuring DCI Antonia Hawkins. Alastair lives in Hertfordshire with his fiancée, Anna.


Books Monthly says: There are always writers who will try to outdo everyone in the matter of who can write the most shocking serial murderer yarn - there are elements of this in this first outing for Antonia Hawkins, elements of Ripper-style killings, which were actual, and so Gunn is safe in his portrayal of the gruesome murders that are taking place - he's not actually outdoing anyone. Hawkins is a hard-talking, swearing, acting DCI, but underneath she's vulnerable, and Gunn's characterisation of her is spot on. When there's nothing on TV at Christmas (and that time will come, surely), reach for this excellent, tense, brutal whodunnit and wallow in the new world of Antonia Hawkins, who will feature in more escapades in 2014 and beyond. Not for the faint-hearted, and don't, whatever you do, attend the autopsies...


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Lulu Taylor: The Winter Folly


Published by Pan, Paperback, on 9th January 2o14


In this house there are many secrets… It is 1960 and young Alexandra Crewe is obedient enough to marry the man her father has selected for her, but both she and her husband Laurence quickly realise that their marriage is a disaster. When real love comes to her, plucking her out of her old life and into a wonderful new existence, she is powerless to resist. Her home is now a beautiful Dorset castle, but there has been a price to pay and she fears that her punishment will one day be due. When tragedy strikes, it seems that it has come, and there is only one way she can atone for her sins… In the present day, Delilah Young is the second wife of John Stirling and the new chatelaine of Fort Stirling. The house is a sad one and Delilah hopes to fill it with life and happiness. But when she attempts to heal the wounds in John’s life, it seems that the forces of the past might be too strong for her. Why does John have such a hatred for the old folly on the hill, and what happened to his mother when she vanished from his life? As she searches for the truth, Delilah realises that perhaps some secrets are better left buried . . .


Books Monthly says: I love books that span fifty years, and there have been a couple of serials on TV during the past couple of years, in which modern familes vie with previous property occupants as strange and unnerving events unfold and run icy fingers down your spine... This is a powerful and disturbing psychological mystery that will wrap you in its arms and draw you in - a family mystery that everyone wants to solve but maybe it's better they don't. Brilliantly drawn characters, wonderful eerie setting. A great read.


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Karen Swan: Christmas at Claridges


Published by Pan, Paperback


‘This was where her dreams drifted to if she didn’t blot her nights out with drink; this was where her thoughts settled if she didn’t fill her days with chat. She remembered this tiny, remote foreign village on a molecular level and the sight of it soaked into her like water into sand, because this was where her old life had ended and her new one had begun.’ Portobello – home to the world-famous street market, Notting Hill Carnival and Clem Alderton. She’s the queen of the scene, the girl everyone wants to be or be with. But beneath the morning-after makeup, Clem is keeping a secret, and when she goes too far one reckless night she endangers everything – her home, her job and even her adored brother’s love. Portofino – a place of wild beauty and old-school glamour, and where a neglected villa has been bought by a handsome stranger. He wants Clem to restore it for him and it seems like the answer to all her problems – except that Clem has been there once before and vowed, for her own protection, never to return . . . Praise for The Perfect Present: ‘Deliciously glamorous, irresistibly romantic’ Hello! ‘Hide indoors with a glass of mulled wine and lose yourself in this’ Heat


Books Monthly says: Another brilliant novel set around a place and the memories it brings back to one person, in this case it's Clem Alderton. The atmosphere is dreamy and mysterious, and the writing is luxurious and luscious, drawing you in so that you'll find it hard to resist, even harder to put down. Clem is a wonderful character, you're immediately drawn to her and her world, and the story unfolds at a gentle, almost leisurely pace, belying the strains and tensions that are bubbling along under the surface. One to get lost in over the Christmas holidays whenthere's nothing else to amuse you.


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The Wind is Not A River by Brian Payton


Published by Mantle, hardback on 20th February 2014


A fight for survival. April 1943. In the bloody turmoil of war, John Easley, a journalist mourning his lost brother, is driven to expose a hidden and growing conflict: the Japanese invasion and occupation of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. But when his plane is shot down he must either surrender or struggle to survive in a harsh wilderness. A search for the truth. Three thousand miles to the south, Helen Easley cannot accept her husband’s disappearance—an absence that exposes her sheltered, untested life. Desperate to find and be reunited with him, she sets out on a remarkable journey from the safety of her Seattle home to the war in the north. A love story like no other. An evocative, richly atmospheric tale of life and death, commitment and sacrifice, The Wind Is Not a River, perfect for fans of Cold Mountain, is a gripping story of survival that illuminates the fragility of life and the fierce power of love. ‘Beautifully written, lyrical and elegiac, The Wind Is Not A River is a novel you must read . . . John Easley’s struggle to survive and his wife Helen’s struggle to find him form the most triumphant and heartbreaking love story I’ve read in years’ David Vann, author of LEGEND OF A SUICIDE


Books Monthly says:  This is something I didn't know about, the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands in 1942 - it came as something of a surprise, but what a brilliant setting for a romance - for this is what it is, a romance of the highest quality, with Helen Easley unwilling to believe her beloved husband is dead and journeying to this little-known war in the north of the American continent. Moving, lyrically written and poetic in its intensity. One to watch out for in the new year, and I'm pleased to have been given the privilege of a preview of this outstanding novel.


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The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley


Published by Pan, Paperback on January 23 2014


The latest novel from international multi-million-copy bestselling author Lucinda Riley is a stunning, epic saga. Filled with unforgettable characters, The Midnight Rose is a multi-layered, heart-breaking tale, and marks Lucinda Riley’s most ambitious novel to date. Spanning four generations and two very different cultures, it sweeps from the glittering palaces of the great maharajas of India to the majestic stately homes of England, following the extraordinary life of a girl, Anahita Chaval, from 1911 to the present day . . . In the heyday of the British Raj, eleven-year-old Anahita, from a noble but impoverished family, forms a lifelong friendship with the headstrong Princess Indira, the privileged daughter of rich Indian royalty. Becoming the princess’s official companion, Anahita accompanies her friend to England just before the outbreak of the Great War. There, she meets the young Donald Astbury – reluctant heir to the magnificent, remote Astbury Estate – and his scheming mother. Eighty years later, Rebecca Bradley, a young American film star, has the world at her feet. But when her turbulent relationship with her equally famous boyfriend takes an unexpected turn, she’s relieved that her latest role, playing a 1920s debutante, will take her away from the glare of publicity to the wilds of Dartmoor in England. Shortly after filming begins at the now-crumbling Astbury Hall, Ari Malik, Anahita’s great-grandson, arrives unexpectedly, on a quest for his family’s past. What he and Rebecca discover begins to unravel the dark secrets that haunt the Astbury dynasty . . .


Books Monthly says: I love sweeping dynasty sagas, I was hooked on Whiteoaks at a very early age, and I adore Downton Abbey. I particularly like family sagas in which someone has a very dark, shady past, not necessarily criminal, but something the rest of the family don't know that much about or talk about, something that can be revealed over the fullness of time. This sweeping novel takes on the Astbury dynasty and opens wide the closets wherein the skeletons lurk, lays bare the bones of the various black sheep of the family - it's a stunning novel, full of brilliant characters and situations... A mammoth read but one that's very rewarding and very worthwhile. Beautifully written by someone who knows their craft to prefection. Brilliant.


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Brian Conaghan: When Mr Dog Bites


Published by Bloomsbury, hardback


Dylan Mint has Tourette's. His life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in - the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that seems to escape whenever he gets stressed. But a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mum, Dylan discovers that he's going to die in March. So he makes a list of things he must do before he dies: first, he wants to have real sex with gorgeous Michelle Malloy; second, he's got to find his autistic best friend Amir a new best bud; third, he's got to get his dad back home from the army so they can say goodbye properly. It's not a long list, but it's ambitious, and he doesn't have much time. Sometimes you've just got to go for it - no holding back - and see what happens . . . This is the launch of a major new writing talent. Brian Conaghan makes you travel every step of the way in Dylan's shoes, laughing and crying - often at the same time - as Dylan faces the twists and turns of an unfair world with glorious optimism and wit.


Books Monthly says: I don't believe I've ever read a book where the central character has tourettes - it's a bold, daring concept, and one that Brian pulls off to perfection. Heartwarming stuff, based on an overheard conversation, and how many of us have jumped to the wrong conclusion after hearing some half truth or something we weren't even meant to be listening to? The humour is dark and very funny, the bucket list that Dylan prepares for himself is poignant, achievable (some of it) and great fun. A beautiful story, beautifully told. A bold new talent...


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Nick Lake: Hostage Three


Published by Bloomsbury, Paperback


It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing: a girl on a yacht with her super-rich banker father; a chance for the family to heal after a turbulent time; the peaceful sea, the warm sun . . . But a nightmare is about to explode as a group of Somali pirates seizes the boat and its human cargo - and the family becomes a commodity in a highly sophisticated transaction. Hostage One is Dad - the most valuable. Amy is Hostage Three. As she builds a strange bond with one of her captors, it becomes brutally clear that the price of a life and its value are very different things . . .


Books Monthly says: At a time when we're being told that giving in to hostage-takers and paying ransoms is financing terrorism, what do you say to the people who find themselves caught up in this 21st century scourge? Sometimes I'm tempted to say that such people shouldn't have been in a situation in the first place where they might be the target of hostage-taking terrorists. Nick Lake has taken just such a scenario and woven an extremely powerful, tense and taut thriller around it - the central character, Amy, is terrfific...


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Martha Wells: Razor's Edge - Empire and Rebellion


Published by Century, Hardback


Times are desperate for the Rebel Alliance. Harassment by the Empire and a shortage of vital supplies are hindering completion of a new secret base on the ice planet Hoth. So when Mid Rim merchants offer much-needed materials for sale, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo lead an Alliance delegation to negotiate a deal. But when treachery forces the rebel ship to flee into territory controlled by pirates, Leia makes a shocking discovery: the fierce marauders come from Leia’s homeworld of Alderaan, recently destroyed by the Death Star. These refugees have turned to pillaging and plundering to survive—and they are in debt to a pirate armada, which will gladly ransom the princess to the vengeful Empire . . . if they find out her true identity. Struggling with intense feelings of guilt, loyalty, and betrayal, Leia is determined to help her wayward kinspeople, even as Imperial forces are closing in on her own crippled ship. Trapped between lethal cutthroats and brutal oppressors, Leia and Han, along with Luke, Chewbacca, and a battle-ready crew, must defy death—or embrace it—to keep the rebellion alive.


Books Monthly says: The lasting legacy of Star Wars is carried on in this superb novel about Leia and Han - one often wonders what happened to them after the final film - did they simply retire and live happily ever after? Of course not. Newcomer to Star Wars Martha Wells writes a terrific yarn about the perils of being someone of value in a fragile universe following the defeat of the Emperor. Great front cover art, too.


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Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn


Published by Arrow, Paperback


To make his biggest score, Han’s ready to take even bigger risks.
But even he can’t do this job solo. NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. Han Solo should be basking in his moment of glory. After all, the cocky smuggler and captain of the Millennium Falcon just played a key role in the daring raid that destroyed the Death Star and landed the first serious blow to the Empire in its war against the Rebel Alliance. But after losing the reward his heroics earned him, Han’s got nothing to celebrate. Especially since he’s deep in debt to the ruthless crime lord Jabba the Hutt. There’s a bounty on Han’s head—and if he can’t cough up the credits, he’ll surely pay with his hide. The only thing that can save him is a king’s ransom. Or maybe a gangster’s fortune? That’s what a mysterious stranger is offering in exchange for Han’s less-than-legal help with a riskier-than-usual caper. The payoff will be more than enough for Han to settle up with Jabba—and ensure he never has to haggle with the Hutts again. All he has to do is infiltrate the ultra-fortified stronghold of a Black Sun crime syndicate underboss and crack the galaxy’s most notoriously impregnable safe. It sounds like a job for miracle workers . . . or madmen. So Han assembles a gallery of rogues who are a little of both—including his indispensable sidekick Chewbacca and the cunning Lando Calrissian. If anyone can dodge, deceive, and defeat heavily armed thugs, killer droids, and Imperial agents alike—and pull off the heist of the century—it’s Solo’s scoundrels. But will their crime really pay, or will it cost them the ultimate price?


Books Monthly says: Second of two Star Wars tales following the demise of the Emperor and the Empire - again featguring Han Solo - not sure how the two stories mesh together in terms of timelines, but this one is gutsier, more like an episode from the films, more scenic, more exciting than Razor's Edge, which concentrates more on the characterisation. Both worthy entries into the Star Wars canon.


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Richard Penny: Of Course You Can Meet The Queen!


Published by Catchy Monkey, Paperback


After The Duke of Gloucester visits a young girl's school, she dreams of meeting The Queen of England. When she tells her father, he suggests they wait at the gates of Buckingham Palace every Saturday and Sunday from sunrise to sunset. The story charts the thrills and travails of this determined, tenacious child as she and her father wait patiently next to a kindly guard. As each weekend passes, she gets closer and closer to making her dream come true until, finally, they're invited into the palace for supper with The Queen. This delightfully magical tale will encourage every child to follow their dreams, no matter what everyone at school says!


Books Monthly says: A delightful tale from Richard Penny, whose JUST ONE OF THOSE DAYS is reviewed on the main Children's page in this issue. Nick Baker's cartoony illustrations bring the story to vibrant life, but it's Richard's simple but effective use of words that captures the mood of the story - a modern fairy tale, almost Cinderella-like... Absolutely charming.


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A Hoxton Childhood by A S Jasper


Published by Blinding Books, Paperback


What happens when Dad's a calamitous boozer and spends all his money down the pub, when Mum has five other children and spends most her free-time on a sewing machine making clothes to pay the rent, when you don't know where you'll be living from one day to the next, when bombs are raining down and disease is everywhere, and when you come out of school, chances are you'll have to go out scrounging to earn your next meal?. A. S. Jasper answers all these questions and more with animated gusto (and without a whimper) in A Hoxton Childhood, a thin volume of memoirs depicting life in a London slum during the First World War, seen through the eyes of a child.


Books Monthly says: I'll give this full coverage on the Great War page in the January 2014 issue of Books Monthly, but for now suffice it to say that this is an extraordinary account of how the ordinary people lived and survived during the harrowing years of the first world war in a London borough. I'm not sure about the cover illustration, though, which seems to me to depict a scene from Victorian life rather than 1914-1918...


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Peter Hamilton: The Queen of Dreams


Published by Random House, Hardback


Taggie and Jemima are summer holidaying on their dad's farm, when they see a white squirrel wearing glasses . . . and soon after their father is captured and trapped in a faerie world that's fallen to Darkness. But why would anybody want to kidnap boring old Dad, especially the dreaded King of Night? Could it be that their family isn't quite as ordinary as they believed? THE BOOKS OF THE REALMS 1. Illustrated by Adam Stower. About the Author: Peter Hamilton was born in Rutland, England's smallest county, where he still lives with his wife and two young children. As a bestseeling Science Fiction writer for adults, he has sold 2 million copies of his books worldwide.


Books Monthly says: SF favourite Peter Hamilton turns his hand to children's fantasy for the simple reason that he wants his children to be able to read something written by him - what a charming concept! And what a brilliant story - the excitement starts right away, when Dad gets kidnapped and his children start seeing things that don't really make any sense... Beautiful writing, terrific characters, and a plot that will enthrall children of all ages!


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Brilliant stocking fillers from MagBooks!

Home Entertainment: The Ultimate Guide


Published by MagBooks, Paperback


Great visuals and sound can be enjoyed at home as well as in the cinema. In this MagBook, we will take you through what you need to know to buy the necessary kit and connect it together for the perfect home cinema. We will explain how to get the most our of your equipment with our guide to tuning and with more and more home entertainment content being delivered by the internet, we will show you how to get the perfect reliable home network and how you can control everything from your smartphone or tablet. So sit back and get ready to experience home entertainment as you have never seen or heard it before.


Books Monthly says: Home cinemas have been around for quite a while, but it seems to me that every week that passes brings something new to the table, with TV definition very high on the agenda, and where you source your programmes and films also very high. This brilliant guide from MagBooks is bang up to date and also looks to the future of home cinema entertainment. I'm a pensioner on a tight budget, so we can't afford to go to the cinema... we have a decent TV which we bought eight years ago, and a home cinema that does the trick... the chances of us ever being able to afford anything that's covered in this comprehensive and mind-blowing guide are remote, but it's nice to keep abreast of what's going on, and nice to know how the others live... There are still plenty of people around who can afford this stuff, of course, and the redistribution of wealth is just a pipe-dream. Nicely done, though.


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Why Is My Computer So Slow?


Published by MagBooks, Paperback


Computers, smartphones, tablets and other devices were all invented to help make our lives easier. So it is somewhat ironic that they can often end up being the source of so much annoyance and anxiety. Thankfully, in many cases, our technological trials and tribulations can be easily solved with just a few mouse clicks or touchscreen taps you just need to know how. And that is where this MagBook comes in. Over the course of the following pages we will provide answers to hundreds of questions you may find yourself asking when you are using technology. We will be showing you how to cure common Windows woes, whichever version you happen to use, from XP and Vista right up to Windows 8.1. You will also find chapters dedicated to specific types of computer problems, such as hardware faults or programs that do not do what you want them to. This MagBook will help you find all the answers you need.


Books Monthly says: There cannot be anyone reading this who doesn't have any number of problems with their computer. Right from when I first became involved in computing, back in 1988, with an IBM PS2 with a 20MB hard drive and 64k RAM, I wondered why Bill Gates couldn't come up with something that behaved like a television or a CD player - you switch them on and they work. They don't start up drivers for the CD/DVD player, they simply work. The monitor's resolution doesn't have to be adjusted or set, or whatever, it simply comes on and shows you what you want to watch. I still don't get it. There is so much that can go wrong with computers, and from personal experience, switching off and switching back on works - it shouldn't, but it does. As for going slow, well, that's something we've all had to put up with and there are again any number of explanations why it happens, and this terrific book goes a long way towards helping you to solve the problems.


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How to Set Up an Online Business 2014


Published by MagBooks, Paperback


This MagBook will set you on the right path towards running your own successful online business. It covers four essential areas: coming up with the right product; building a platform to sell that product; the mechanics of successful selling; and connecting with the right customers. You will find out how it is possible to set up your business on a low budget and how to make the most out of selling to a potentially huge audience. This updated edition covers easy ways to create your own business site and how to price your products.


Books Monthly says: So many people nowadays are using their computers, their tablets, even their phones, to make money - this is the latest version of this extremely readable and concise guide to setting up your own business, whether it's EBay or something more comprehensive -n everything you need to know to help you make money from your PC is here, written by people who know what they're on about.


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Making Money From Photography


Published by MagBooks, Paperback


Many enthusiastic photographers dream of making a career from their hobby and the chances are there for you to earn money from your images. In this comprehensive guide, our experts will show you how. You will find advice on social and portrait photography, which is where the greatest opportunities lie to earn money. We have extensive ideas and information relevant to all photographers on the basics needed to be a successful photographer, from creating a brand for your business to the role social plays to how you should conduct yourself to ensure you are seen as a dedicated and conscientious photographer. We also include advice on budget photo products that can help you shoot great images at a fraction of the price of better-known-brands.


Books Monthly says: A brand new version of MagBooks' Making Money From Photography - packed with wonderful technical information and brilliant, sharp, professional photographs, this ultimate guide will show you the possibilities of using your camera to earn a living for you. Everything you need to know in a delightful package that's good to look at as well. One of MagBooks best titles, for sure...


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How To Stay Anonymous Online


Published by MagBooks, Paperback


It is a scary thought that whenever you go online, you are not alone. The websites you visit, the things you search for and companies that want to know your interests so they can build a profile about you and tracking all the links you click. Of course, if you have got nothing to hide, you have got nothing to worry about, but there is still something unsettling about being watched on the web. Fortunately, it is easy to stop, and in this MagBook we reveal the best ways to protect your privacy. These include concealing your online activities, removing or hiding information that is publicly available about you, and stopping your details from falling into the hands of spammers and scammers. We also explain how to stay anonymous when using your phone or tablet, and pick our favourite tools for protecting your privacy no matter what you do.


Books Monthly says: Most sites you visit track you using cookies or other methods of surveillance - even your online banking system warns you that it uses cookies to track you. It would be nice to think that they use such devices simply so that the pages load quicker the next time you visit them... but the truth is not so simple, and possibly a lot more sinister. Staying anonymous is a goal most of us would like to achieve but wouldn't know where to start. This excellent book talks you through the various options and comes up with suggestions and solutions for making it more difficult for the people tracking you to keep track - simple as that. A vital guide for everyone in the modern computing age.


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New titles in this Supplement...

Classics: The Three Musketeers

Crime: The Wrong Quarry

Crime: The Advent Killer

Crime: Hostage Three

Adult: The Winter Folly

Adult: Christmas at Claridges

Adult: The Wind is Not a River

Adult: The Midnight Rose

SF: Star Wars - Razor's Edge

SF: Star Wars - Scoundrels

Children: When Mr Dog Bites

Children: Of Course You Can Meet The Queen!

Children: The Queen of Dreams

Great War: A Hoxton Childhood

MagBooks: Why Is My Computer So Slow?

MagBooks: How To Set Up An Online Business

MagBooks: Making Money from Photography

MagBooks: Home Entertainment Ultimate Guide

MagBooks: How To Stay Anonymous Online

DK: Lego Minifigures

DK: Make Your Own Stegosaurus

DK: Lego Play Book

DK: RHS What Plant Where

DK: Family Kitchen Cookbook

DK: World Beer

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?


My 1957 Christmas...


My 1957 Christmas... As it happens, I remember perfectly well the gifts I received for Christmas 1956/57 - to begin with, there was a leather football. I was mad keen on soccer and desperately wanted a real ball, the kind they used in the first division of the football league. We all forgot that none of us in the family had a bicycle, and pumping it up proved impossible until we found a relative after Christmas with a bicycle pump... but then, who wants to go out on Christmas Day and play with a football on his own? I did, but I managed to hide my disappointment. In the depths of my pillow-case, I discovered the usual apple, orange, and a tin of Sharp's toffees that would ultimately do for my teeth... There was a torch, one that shone red, green and white, depending on the position of the lever that controlled the filter... and there was a kit to build a transistor radio. It was the habit of my father, in those days, to make merry on Christmas Day, whilst my Mum and my sister got to work in the kitchen, preparing and cooking a sumptuous Christmas lunch involving a large chicken (a capon) and copious amounts of roast potatoes, stuffing, sprouts and gravy. My Dad would leave the house at opening time, along with some of my uncles, and repair to the nearest hostelry, from which they would return, inevitably late, in a quit merry state. After dinner, he, along with the other men, would slump into their armchairs while Mum and Sis washed up, and he would fall asleep. This year, however, my ten-year-old nagging voice begged him to start to put together my transistor radio. Out came the soldering iron and two hours later, around five-ish, as I recall, he gave up, and proclaimed that it was never going to work. I was not unduly bothered. In the early months of the new year I would start my paper round, I would buy myself a bicycle, and I would buy myself a proper, ready-made transistor radio, a pocket-sized one. And the kit would go in the bin. No, I was not really bothered that it did not work - I loved my Dad for trying to put it together whilst he was merry - and whilst he did it, I would be sitting reading. For that was, and is, my great passion in life - reading. I remember the books I received for the 1956/7 Christmas: from my Mum and Dad, the 1957 Lion Annual, and the very first Commander Boys' Annual, edited by Eric Leyland - over 500 pages of brilliant stories, from Muskum Pete, Backwoodsman, to Totty, every boy's favourite schoolboy. From Aunts and Uncles I received handsome editions of Oliver Twist and Great Expectations, along with the Regency Classics versions of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and The Legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. All of these books I still have in my collection - some have been re-procured from car boot sales, or charity shops, but I still have them, and I believe that it was the 1957 Commander Boys' Annual that finally convinced me that what I wanted to do more than anything in life, was to read. Yes, I wanted to progress to thinking about girls, about getting married and having children; yes, I wanted to complete my education, possibly attend university and get a decent job to see me through life with the girl I would marry and the children we would raise; yes, I wanted a car, yes, and I wanted a dog like Loony from the Enid Blyton Barney mysteries (the dogs in my life would come much later, when I eventually met and married the girl of my dreams, the girl I am still married to forty-seven (forty-eight this year!) years later; yes I wanted to make something of my life; yes, I wanted to listen to and discover the joys of music. But in those days there was always leisure time, and I wanted to and did fill it with reading. Looking back, I remember the day I finally finished reading every book in the three tall bookcases that constituted our branch library in the primary school - that would have been when I was around fifteen years old, and it was time to branch out, and join the "big" library in the city centre, where they  had a whole room full of bookcases filled with books. My school library had books, but the collection was sparse and there were only really the huge bound volumes of Punch thatinterested me. There were four Commander books in all. I have them all, two of them with their original, wonderful dustjackets. The fourth was something of a disappointment - it had reprints of classic novels like The Prisoner of Zenda - still good enough to read, but where were the original schoolboy stories, the adventure stories that had populated the first three? Never mind, by now I was reading The Saint and Dennis Wheatley... but I will always remember that Christmas, when my transistor radio went in the bin, and the football lay in the hall, deflated, and I started to read the Commander Boys' Annual, and never really looked back...


I wish you joy this Christmas, the joy of your family and friends, of the food we will eat, and the celebration of the Christ Mass. Atheists, think carefully before you celebrate Christmas - it's not yours to celebrate, but we don't mind, we welcome you to our festival of good food and gift-giving, because that is who we are. And I would remind you, whilst you enjoy yourselves, that in three and a half years of austerity imposed upon us by a cabinet of millionnaires, we have degenerated to a nation with millions of people living in poverty and needing handouts from the Food Banks while the rich luxuriate in their hatred of the working classes and people unable to care for themselves. Let's make the next eighteen months a time for finally working out that these people are not fit to govern or make decisions for us or on our behalf - they are not born to rule, they are not Christians, and they don't care for you and me. There won't be a revolution in my lifetime, but surely we can see that a doctrine of self begun by Thatcher and perpetuated to the ultimate degree by this coalition is not the answer for the 99% of the population who are not millionnaires, who cannot afford the energy bills set by the foreigners who own our energy companies; who cannot afford food and heat... Let there be a new government in 2015, let the LibDems evaporate into the mists of history, and let Cameron and his Eton Mess go the way of Thatcher... ultimately to death, but for now to the oblivion of perpetual opposition...


Merry Christmas One and All! See you at the end of January...


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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.