Welcome to Our Brand New Review Section!

Every month we'll update the reviews to add new books we have, plus a few classics as well, of course!

February 2014

“The List”, Author Joanna Bolouri                                                                                                                                                                                                                         ISBN 9781848663084

Enjoy this book for the crazy romp that it is, [despite a few cringe-making moments], and you’ll begin to wish that all ends well for Phoebe. Read it to find out about her plan of revenge, and whether she does indeed find true love. 

“The Bookshop that Floated Away”, Author Sarah Henshaw                                                                                                                                                                        ISBN 9781472108050

This is such an interesting memoir of the extraordinary journey made by Sarah, and the fun she had along the way. Follow her progress, meandering around the canal network, and the trials and tribulations of bookselling afloat – I found myself daydreaming about owning a barge full of books too.

“Life Drawing”, Author Robin Black                                                                                                                                                                                                                ISBN 9780330511766

A profoundly perceptive story, charting the relationship between an artist and an author, who make the brave move from city life, to rural solitude. Disturbed by the arrival of a new neighbour, their lives are changed forever. Remarkably insightful, Beautifully written, I couldn’t put it down.

“The Land Where Lemons Grow”, Author   Helena Attlee                                                                                                                                                                        ISBN 9781846144301

A glorious combination of travel writing, recipes, art and history, with gardening and botanical references throughout. Will sit well with Frances Maye’s Tuscan idylls, and a Year in Provence.

“Sarah Beeny’s 100 DIY Jobs”, Author Sarah Beeny                                                                                                                                                                                         ISBN 9781849493710

Clear instructions, simple illustrations, a list of exactly what tools and equipment needed, and the final section, for every task : ‘How To Nail It’. This book is a really helpful manual, written with Sarah’s forthright matter of fact style, and I especially like the final Good Luck message.

“Favourite Poems of England’”, Editor Jane McMorland Hunter                                                                                                                                                                  ISBN 9781849941327

A beautiful collection of poetry, illustrated with retro vintage style prints. This will make an ideal gift for poetry lovers, but also for visitors, and those who just like to refer to the half remembered favourite lines. I do hope we will also see a similar edition for the rest of the United Kingdom.

“Grow Your Own, Eat Your Own”, Author Bob Flowerdew                                                                                                                                                                           ISBN 9780857832566

Written by the perennial favourite of ‘Gardener’s Question Time’, this is a splendid guide to growing and using home grown produce, from the garden or allotment. The beautiful photographs, and useful tips on preserving and storing, as well as cooking, make this an inspirational book, which will be a firm favourite with families, gardeners and cooks.

“Vintage Wedding Flowers”,   Author Vic Brotherson                                                                                                                                                                                     ISBN 9780857831873

A sumptuous book, beautifully illustrated, with plenty of practical ideas, for amateurs and professionals alike. I especially like the inventive use of other materials, stunning colour schemes, the glimpses of gorgeous table settings, and the fun button holes.

February 2014: New Children's Titles

"That’s Not My Piglet", Fiona Watt                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ISBN 9781409570523

What a delightful addition to this brilliant series. Turning the pages to find the bumpy trotters, the soft pink ears, this will entertain small people endlessly, and become a firm favourite for a long time to come.

"See Inside the Universe", Alex Frith and Lee Cosgrove                                                                                                                                                                                ISBN 9781409563969

Discover stars, planets, galaxies, in a fun and entertaining way, with great attention to detail, and packed with fascinating facts. The ‘science’ of gravity, the Big Bang, atoms – all presented with over 70 flaps to lift, this will be a great recommendation for the boffins of the future.

"Boris Gets Spots", Carrie Weston                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ISBN 9780192734174

A heart warming story about the woebegone bear, who develops chickenpox, and then shares it with all his friends too! Without being schmaltzy, this book covers themes of thinking about others, and being considerate, and has the added bonus of a recipe for honey cookies. We look forward to the next adventure for Boris and his friends.

"Little Bear Lost", Jane Hissey                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ISBN 9781908973672

This new edition of one of Jane Hissey’s classics will become a firm favourite with young and old alike, especially those of us who remember it first time around. The warm atmosphere of the nursery, and the friendship between the toys, has been a staple of these traditional stories, when a game of Hide and Seek takes on a new dimension, with the apparent disappearance of Little Bear – where can he be ? However, worry not, he’s safe and well – I won’t spoil the ending, you’ll enjoy finding out for yourself.

"Toot Goes to Dinosaurland", Catherine and Laurence Anholt                                                                                                                                                                    ISBN 9780857631282

A fine and fun addition from the great Anholt partnership, telling the story of Toot the bunny, who sets off in his little car, for an adventure with dinosaurs. This covers everything you can imagine, for a pre-school audience, from colours, size, shape, and with dinosaurs thrown in ! The language is expressive, and the illustrations lively and engaging, and is the perfect length for bedtime, or storytime in the Nursery.

January 2014: Reviews

"A Burnable Book", Bruce Holsinger                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ISBN 9780007493302

A feast of a book, historical fiction, crammed with atmosphere, and perfect for curling up with, on a cold winter’s day. Set in the time of Richard 11, this intriguing tale of a mysterious missing book, where secrets and treason abound, with an unusual appearance from Geoffrey Chaucer. A thriller with a difference, for fans of C J Sansom.

"The Crane Wife", Patrick Ness                                                                                                                                                                                                                               ISBN 9780857868718

I loved this book, from the opening pages to the final page. George, the central character, is an endearing sort of chap, but almost immediately the affinity you feel towards him is upstaged by the description of an eerie cry in the garden, at night – and you’re hooked. The writing is incredibly beautiful, and memories of it will stay with you, for a long time. The story line takes us along an interesting path, drawing us in to consider relationships, between families, and lovers, - and reading groups around the country will have some fascinating discussions.

"My War Diary", Ethel M Bilbrough                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ISBN 9780091951115

This is a great addition to the ‘stable’ of First War titles. Written on a very personal level, at the time, Ethel gives a lively and broad spectrum view, of life at home, as she saw it. With timely comments about the price of food, daylight saving, and horses at Waterloo, waiting to be shipped to the Front, she gives an amazing well documented social history. The format of hand written pages and little sketches adds to the atmosphere of the time.

"The Real Jane Austen", Paula Byrne                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ISBN 9780007358342

I was delighted to discover that Jane Austen was so much more socially aware, quite a tough character, [without losing her gentility], well versed in politics and would have coped well with life in a later century. Paula Byrne’s view is like a breath of fresh air. Reaching a much wider audience, in paperback , this book will delight and surprise.

"Simply Good Food", Neil Perry                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ISBN 9781743360521

This sumptuous book from renowned Australian chef Neil Perry is a real feast for the eyes. Full of inventive and unusual ideas for dinner parties, and family meals, some of the quantities are for larger numbers, which is always really helpful, when entertaining. He takes us around the world, from Mexico to the Far East, to the Mediterranean, with delicious illustrations to encourage some adventures in your kitchen.

"The Facts of Life and Death", Belinda Bauer                                                                                                                                                                                                   ISBN 9780593072783

This is a really good read – a crime thriller set in sleepy North Devon. Belinda Bauer writes very believable characters and builds an image of their lives so you properly empathise with them. It sets off at a good pace which it maintains throughout, and there’s a creepy twist to the serial killer’s spree which is very chilling. I hadn’t read Belinda Bauer before, but I’ll look out for her work again.

"Red Sky in Morning", Paul Lynch                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ISBN 9781780879178

This is a beautifully written novel with descriptions of landscapes and people that I just wanted to go on and on. Set in Donegal and America in real frontier times, Paul Lynch paints a picture of what it must have been like for ordinary people at the time and the often desperate situations they found in. I was totally drawn in and didn’t want it to finish – a great read.

"Capital", Rana Dasgupta                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         ISBN 9780857860026

What a fascinating read – a more rounded look at modern India than Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, and just as powerful. This is an examination of how modern Dehli has developed by novelist Rana Dasgupta. He has lived in the city for years and it shows in this intimate portrait of the many different parts of society that contribute to this great melting pot of humanity, I sometimes had to remind myself this is non-fiction and sometimes it was hard to read, but I loved it.

"The Ruby Slippers", Keir Alexander                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ISBN 9781472108074

This state of the nation novel is set in New York – the large cast of characters are all connected by the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz: she gave them to her dresser, and they have since been handed down through the family. What should be done with the slippers that would be best for the family – will they bring the joy and magic they promise? I thoroughly enjoyed this read, it seems like a realistic portrait of diverse family life in one of the biggest cities on earth.

"The Illusionists", Rosie Thomas                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ISBN 9780007512010

I’m a fan of Rosie Thomas so was really looking forward to this and it didn’t disappoint. Set on the streets of London it’s an epic story centred on a motley crew of Hector, Carlo and Eliza. As they duck and dive, trying to scrape a living as Illusionists, Rosie Thomas paints a grimy picture of the dirty, smoky, sprawling mass that London must have resembled. Fans of Sarah Waters or Patrick Suskind will certainly enjoy, but it’s a great read for anyone from a master storyteller.

December 2013: Adult Reviews

"Olives, Lemons and Za’atar", Rawia Bishara with Jumana & Tarek Bishara                                                                                                                               ISBN 9780857832306

A stunning new recipe book and a sumptuous addition to the Middle Eastern recipe canon is more than welcome. Olives, Lemon and Za’atar is middle-eastern home-cooking at its best, full of mouth-watering recipes and using ingredients that are readily available. It’s also a beautiful book, with lavish photographs throughout. For any fans of Yotam Ottolenghi, or for anyone who loves cooking with big bold flavour combinations and creating dishes that are ideal to share, this is the book for you!

"A Song For The Dying", Stuart MacBride                                                                                                                                                                                                  ISBN 9780007344307

Stuart MacBride is the master of dark and gritty crime, and this new book is no exception. Former DI Ash Henderson is now serving life in prison, but he gets a chance for redemption when a serial killer apparently resumes his grisly work after a ten year gap. For fans of crime thrillers at the darker end of the spectrum, MacBride really can’t be beaten.

"Ripper", Isabel Allende                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     ISBN 9780007548941

Fans of Isabel Allende know she is a master story-teller; over the years she has constantly surprised and delighted readers with her versatility and ability to weave a yarn. In Ripper she gives us a thriller with a twist. Teenage amateur detective, Amanda Martin, and her online friends enjoy solving fictional mysteries, but the action becomes real when a serial killer strikes in her home town and her mother disappears. Allende keeps you hooked from the first chapter and as always with her writing, the characters are charming and well-drawn.

"The Moon Field", Judith Allnatt                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ISBN 9780007522941

This novel would be incredibly moving at any time, but coming in the year we commemorate a hundred years since the start of the First World War it adds extra poignancy. It tells the story of George Farrell who joins up to get over a broken heart and loses his innocence like so many others of his generation in a terrible rite of passage. The action is split between the hauntingly beautiful landscape of Cumberland, and the front line where the empty, crater filled no man’s land resembles the surface of the moon, rather than anywhere on earth. A gorgeously written novel.

"Lost Antarctica", James McClintock                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ISBN 9781137278883

Out in paperback is the utterly absorbing Lost Antarctica. James McClintock writes with first-hand knowledge of one of the most starkly beautiful places on the planet; it is also one of the least hospitable environments on Earth and the author details the difficulties facing the scientists who work there. There is also shocking evidence of the changes happening at the bottom of the world, told with warm humour and obviously from vast experience. It’s unlikely which very few of us will ever get the chance visit Antarctica and this well written book is a great window onto one of the most remote and mysterious regions anywhere.