Monday, 25 February 2019



We Own The Sky – Luke Allnutt Was £7.99 now £6.39
“We looked down at the cliff jutting into the sea, a rubber boat full of kids going under the arch, and then you started running and jumping through the grass, dodging the rabbit holes, shouting at the top of your voice, so I started chasing you, trying to catch you, and we were laughing so hard as we ran and ran, kicking up rainbow showers in the leaves.” 
Rob Coates feels like he’s won the lottery of life. There is Anna, his incredible wife, their London town house and, most precious of all, Jack, their son, who makes every day an extraordinary adventure. But when a devastating illness befalls his family, Rob’s world begins to unravel. Suddenly finding himself alone, Rob seeks solace in photographing the skyscrapers and clifftops he and his son Jack used to visit. And just when it seems that all hope is lost, Rob embarks on the most unforgettable of journeys to find his way back to life, and forgiveness. 
We Own the Sky is a tender, heartrending, but ultimately life-affirming novel that will resonate deeply with anyone who has suffered loss or experienced great love. With stunning eloquence and acumen, Luke Allnutt has penned a soaring debut and a true testament to the power of love, showing how even the most thoroughly broken heart can learn to beat again.

Entanglement – Katy Mahood   Was £8.99now £7.19
On a hot October day in a London park, Stella sits in her red wedding dress opposite John. Pregnant and lost in thoughts of the future, she has no idea that lying in the grass, a stone's throw away, is a man called Charlie. From this moment, Stella and Charlie's lives are bound together in ways they could never imagine. But all they have is a shared glance and a feeling: have we met before? Entanglement is a bewitching novel of love and sacrifice which explores how our choices can reverberate across the generations, and the sparks of hope they can ignite.

The Woman In The Window – A.J.Finn  Was £8.99 now £7.19
What did she see? It's been ten months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside. Anna's lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family, they are an echo of the life that was once hers. But one evening, a scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something horrifying. Now she must uncover the truth about what really happened. But if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

The Life Of Stuff – Susannah Walker  Was £9.99 now £7.99
What do our possessions say about us? Why do we project such meaning onto them? Only after her mother's death does Susannah Walker discover how much of a hoarder she had become. Over the following months, she has to sort through a dilapidated house filled to the brim with rubbish and treasures, in search of a woman she'd never really known or understood in life. This is her last chance to piece together her mother's story and make sense of their troubled relationship. What emerges from the mess of scattered papers, discarded photographs and an extraordinary amount of stuff is the history of a sad and fractured family, haunted by dead children, divorce and alcohol. The Life of Stuff is a deeply personal exploration of mourning and the shoring up of possessions against the losses and griefs of life, which also raises universal questions about what makes us the people we are.

Boy Erased – Garrard Conley Was £8.99now £7.19
The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to "cure" him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalised Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness. By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heartbreaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds.

The Debatable Land – Graham Robb  Was £9.99 now £7.99
The Debatable Land was an independent territory which used to exist between Scotland and England. It is the oldest detectable territorial division in Great Britain. At the height of its notoriety, it was the bloodiest region in the country, and preoccupied the monarchs and parliaments of England, Scotland, and France. After most of its population was slaughtered or deported, it became the last part of Great Britain to be conquered and brought under the control of a state. Today, it has vanished from the map and no one knows exactly where and what it was. When Graham Robb moved to a lonely house on the very edge of England, he discovered that the river which almost surrounded his new home had once marked the Debatable Land's southern boundary. Under the powerful spell of curiosity, Robb began a journey - on foot, by bicycle and into the past - that would uncover lost towns and roads, shed new light on the Dark Age, reveal the truth about this maligned patch of land, and lead to more than one discovery of major historical significance. For the first time - and with all of his customary charm, wit and literary grace - Graham Robb, prize-winning author of The Discovery of France, has written about his native country. The Debatable Land is an epic and energetic book that takes us from 2016 back to an age when neither England nor Scotland could be imagined to reveal a crucial, missing piece in the puzzle of British history.

The Colour Of Bee Larkham’s Murder – Sarah J. Harris  Was £7.99now £6.39
There are three things you need to know about Jasper. 1. He sees the world completely differently. 2. He can't recognise faces - not even his own. 3. He is the only witness to the murder of his neighbour, Bee Larkham. But uncovering the truth about that night will change his world forever... An extraordinary and compelling debut which will make you see the world in a way you've never seen it before

Dear Mrs Bird – AJ Pearce  Was £7.99 now £6.39
London, 1941. Amid the falling bombs Emmeline Lake dreams of becoming a fearless Lady War Correspondent. Unfortunately, Emmy instead finds herself employed as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt at Woman's Friend magazine. Mrs Bird refuses to read, let alone answer, letters containing any form of Unpleasantness, and definitely not those from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted. But the thought of these desperate women waiting for an answer at this most desperate of times becomes impossible for Emmy to ignore. She decides she simply must help and secretly starts to write back - after all, what harm could that possibly do?

The Melody – Jim Crace  Was £8.99 now £7.19
Alfred Busi, famed in his town for his music and songs, is mourning the recent death of his wife and quietly living out his days in the large villa he has always called home. Then one night Busi is attacked by a creature he disturbs as it raids the contents of his larder. Busi is convinced that what assaulted him was no animal, but a child, `innocent and wild', and his words fan the flames of old rumour - of an ancient race of people living in the bosk surrounding the town - and new controversy: the town's paupers, the feral wastrels at its edges, must be dealt with. Once and for all. Lyrical and warm, intimate and epic, The Melody by Jim Crace tracks the few days that will see Busi and the town he loves altered irrevocably. This is a story about grief and ageing, about reputation and the loss of it, about love and music and the peculiar way myth seeps into real life. And it is a political novel too - a rallying cry to protect those we persecute

Where’s Mr Duck?  Was £6.99 now £5.59
A fabulous new title in this brilliant board book series for pre-schoolers. With easy-to-grasp, shaped felt flaps, a repetitive refrain and beautiful artwork from Swedish homewares designer, Ingela Arrhenius.

All Are Welcome – Penfold and Kaufman Was £6.99 now £5.59
No matter how you start your day, What you wear when you play, Or if you come from far away, All are welcome here. Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcome. A school where children in patkas, hijabs, baseball caps and yarmulkes play side by side. A school where students grow and learn from each other's traditions. A school where diversity is a strength. Warm and inspiring, All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, and they are welcome in their school. Engaging lyrical text and bright, accessible illustrations make this book a must for every child's bookshelf, classroom and library.

The Cook And The King – Julia Donaldson  Was £6.99 now £5.59
A deliciously funny cooking adventure from the stellar picture-book partnership of Julia Donaldson and David Roberts. There once was a very hungry king Who needed a cook like anything . . . . . . but the king is very fussy; he tries all the cooks in the kingdom, but no one is good enough. Then he spots Wobbly Bob. Maybe Bob can whip up his favourite dinner? But how will Bob be able to cook for the king when he's scared of . . . well, everything?! Discover how the hungry king helps Wobbly Bob face his fears on a cooking adventure across the land and sea. The Cook and the King is a brilliantly funny story from the award-winning picture book duo Julia Donaldson and David Roberts, creators of Tyrannosaurus Drip. With fun rhyming verse and richly detailed illustrations, this is sure to become a firm favourite with children and adults alike.

Stephen Hawking – Isobel Vegara  Was £9.99 now £7.99
New in the Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the life of Stephen Hawking, the genius physicist and author. When Stephen Hawking was a little boy, he used to stare up at the stars and wonder about the universe. Although he was never top of the class, his curiosity took him to the best universities in England: Oxford and Cambridge. It also led him to make one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the 20th century: Hawking radiation. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the brilliant physicist's life. 

The Day I Was Erased – Lisa Thompson  Was £6.99 now £5.59
The brand new read-in-one-sitting mystery from the author of unforgettable bestseller The Goldfish Boy. Maxwell is always in trouble. He's a total menace to his teachers and big sister, but has a soft side, too: he rescued his dog, Monster, from being run over and checks on his elderly neighbour after school. One day, while looking through a mysterious cabinet of curiosities, Maxwell finds himself erased from his life: it's as if he's never been born. At first, being able to walk around without being yelled at is great, but Maxwell starts to miss his old life. And, if he'd never existed, then he wouldn't have swooped Monsterout of the path of that car... A story of family, friendship and finding your place in the world.

The Boy Who Flew With Dragons – Andy Sheperd   Was £5.99 now £4.79
Tomas can't imagine life without his little dragon Flicker. He's become more than a pet - he's a friend like no other. And growing dragons on the dragonfruit tree in the garden with his friends Ted, Kat and Kai is the most amazing thing ever. But Tomas has promised Grandad something - that he and his friends will let their dragons go back to where they belong. The only problem is - that isn't such an easy thing to do. Not when they are still having so much fun with dragons Flicker, Sunny, Crystal and Dodger. Not when they still have to work out where the dragons' home is, and how to get the dragons to leave. And not when Tomas is so close to uncovering the true story of the mysterious dragonfruit tree ...

The Diary Of A Wimpy Kid; The Getaway – Jeff Kinney  Was £6.99 now £5.59
With the cold weather setting in and the stress of the Christmas holiday approaching, the Heffleys decide to escape to a tropical island resort for some much-needed rest and relaxation. A few days in paradise should do wonders for Greg and his frazzled family. But they soon discover that paradise isn't everything it's cracked up to be. Sun-poisoning, stomach troubles and venomous creatures all threaten to ruin the family's vacation. Can their trip be saved, or will this island getaway end in disaster?

When We Were Warriors – Emma Carroll  Was £6.99 now £5.59
A body washed up on the beach... Evacuation to an old house with forbidden rooms and dark secrets... An animal rescue service... 
Set in World War Two, Emma Carroll explores the resilience, resourcefulness and inventiveness of children when their lives fall to pieces. Introducing some compelling new characters, as well as revisiting some familiar settings, these adventures are sure to win over new readers, as well as fans of old favourites such as Letters from the Lighthouse and Frost Hollow Hall.

Bad Dad – David Walliams  Was £6.99 now £5.59
Dads come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are fat ones and thin ones, tall ones and short ones. There are young ones and old ones, clever ones and stupid ones. There are silly ones and serious ones, loud ones and quiet ones. Of course, there are good dads, and bad dads . . . A high-speed cops and robbers adventure with heart and soul about a father and son taking on the villainous Mr Big - and winning!
 This riches-to-rags story will have you on the edge of your seat and howling with laughter! Bad Dad is a fast and furious, heart-warming story of a father and son on an adventure - and a thrilling mission to break an innocent man into prison!
The Whispers – Greg Howard  Was £6.99 now £5.59
A coming-of-age tale that will make you laugh and cry, perfect for fans of Time Travelling With a Hamster and The Goldfish Boy. Before she disappeared, Riley's mama used to tell him stories about the Whispers, mysterious creatures with the power to grant wishes. Riley wishes for lots of things. He wishes his secret crush Dylan liked him back. He wishes the bumbling detective would stop asking awkward questions. But most of all he wishes his mother would come home . . . Four months later, the police are no closer to finding out the truth - and Riley decides to take matters into his own hands. But do the Whispers really exist? And what is Riley willing to do to find out?

Our Castle By The Sea – Lucy Strange  Was £6.99 now £5.59
England is at war. Growing up in a lighthouse, Pet's world has been one of storms, secret tunnels and stories about sea monsters. But now the clifftops are a terrifying battleground, and her family is torn apart. This is the story of a girl who is small, afraid and unnoticed. A girl who freezes with fear at the enemy planes ripping through the skies overhead. A girl who is somehow destined to become part of the strange, ancient legend of the Daughters of Stone ...

The Twisted Tree – Rachel Burge  Was £7.99 now £6.39
Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma's cabin and became blind in one eye. Determined to understand her strange ability, Martha sets off to visit her grandmother, Mormor - only to discover Mormor is dead, a peculiar boy is in her cabin and a terrifying creature is on the loose. Then the spinning wheel starts creaking, books move around and terror creeps in . . . Set in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, The Twisted Tree is a ghost story that twists and turns - and never takes you quite where you'd expect.

The Dog Who Saved The World – Ross Welford  Was £6.99 now £5.59
When eleven-year-old Georgie befriends an eccentric retired scientist, she becomes the test subject for a thrilling new experiment: a virtual-reality 3D version of the future. But then a deadly disease threatens the life of every dog in the country and Georgie's beloved dog, Mr Mash, gets sick. And that's only the start of her troubles. Soon, Georgie and Mr Mash must embark on a desperate quest: to save every dog on earth, and maybe even all of humanity... without actually leaving the room. An extraordinary quest with the biggest stakes of all, and a huge idea at its heart, this is time travel - but not as you know it.

Nowhere On Earth – Nick Lake £7.99 now £6.39
It starts with a plane crash. There are survivors: a teenage girl and her little brother. They are running from something. But what? Then the men arrive. They are hunting the girl and boy. And- And that's all we can tell you ... A thrilling story of survival, hope and a love beyond all understanding, from the award-winning author of Satellite.


Saturday, 19 January 2019

January 2019's Book Reviews

Call For The Dead - John le Carre

George Smiley, overweight and of a quiet disposition, an intelligence officer who has seen too much and done too much, is one of Le Carre’s most famous characters and is featured in many of his novels, including Smiley’s People and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (the book that secured Le Carre’s worldwide reputation). In Call For The Dead, Smiley is a weary agent and ready for retirement, yet he cannot refuse one last desperate call for his services. He returns one more time to solve a baffling case involving a murdered colleague, a twisted former hero of Germany and a once-beautiful, tortured woman with a terrifying secret.

A cross between Fleming’s Bond and Christie’s Poirot, Smiley is a lovable character with a complicated past. His wife left him for a suntanned Cuban lover, his apprentice is now working for the enemy and his only joy is his profession, which provides him with colleagues as equally obscure in character and origin as he is. Previously an Oxford student of 17th Century German literature, his tutor knew George  was not destined to a future in academia, and encourages him to join the Secret Service. Now a few decades later, Smiley, sick of office work and much younger agents taking over all the work, is on the brink of retirement, when a colleague is found dead in his house. A type-written note and pistol accompanies his former colleague and the department call it in as a suicide, but Smiley trusts his gut instinct and interviews the widow. He leaves the house, unsettled, and so begins a cat-and-mouse chase, leaving him in hospital, his associates in danger and a former agent of his trying to silence him.

John Le Carre himself studied at Oxford, taught at Eton and then later joined the British Foreign Service. His real name is, in fact, David Cornwell and he is often described as the best spy novelist of the last century.

Goddess - Kelly Gardiner

Based on the true story of a woman known as La Maupin, this is an fascinating account of a sword-fighting, opera-singing girl from the courts of 17th Century Versailles. The whole story is written from the perspective of Julie confessing to all her escapades and adventures to a young priest who’s been tasked with writing down her last confession as she lies in her convent deathbed.

Julie-Emilie d’Aubigny, known as Mademoiselle de Maupin, is taught to fence at the court of the Sun king. At 13 she is taken mistress by the King’s Master Of Horse. Tempestuous and swashbuckling, after two years she has run away from court carving out a name for herself with her fencing skills across France. After taking a nun for a lover, facing exile and duelling with some of France’s most powerful men (not to mention winning of course), she returns to the convent to where she followed her lover all those years ago. Only in her thirties, she is fever-ridden and dying but has had such a marvellous life, packed with fights, opera and balls.

Although a work of fiction, Goddess is an interpretation of the life of the very real Julie. Her adventures were documented by diarists, chroniclers and eighteenth-century theatre historians. Gardiner has compiled all the account with evidence and compiled them into a fantastic book of romance and feminism in a time where France was ruled by men.

The Silent Companions - Laura Purcell

A book I didn’t want to pick up. Yes you read that correctly. I was so tense with anticipation and fear I was so scared to turn another page. The Silent Companions is a sinister tale of newly married, newly widowed Elsie, who is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s eerie manor, The Bridge. The maids ignore her, the villagers resent her, and so she finds herself with only her husband’s shy cousin for company… or so she thinks. Inside The Bridge, hidden in the rat-infested attic are the Silent Companions, wooden figures with eyes painted so well that they literally follow Elsie around the room. When the cousin discovers a diary in the attic, written by a past lady of the manor, Elsie starts to suspect the contents of the attic aren’t just decorations and slowly realises how close a resemblance the figures have to the past occupants of the cursed manor from the diary. A year later she awakes in a psychiatry hospital, covered in severe burns. Charged for murder and delirious on morphine, she must recount her tales to a young doctor, the only one willing to prove her innocence.

As the book neared the end, the mystery and terror seemed to calm down and I finally let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding. Dear me was I wrong, with only a few pages to go I got  the breath knocked out of my body with one final twist, making sure that I wouldn’t sleep that night.

Through a combination of first and third person, this book builds tension in such a way I was too scared to turn the next page. The book switches between present tense in the 19th Century, to the diary of a woman. Every draught, every movement round a corner, every creek of wood in that old manor, I felt from the safety of my cosy bed. Any lovers of Weeping Angels or The Woman in Black are sure to love this fantastic piece by Purcell. She is a former bookseller from Colchester, and her first novel The Silent Companions was published to widespread critical acclaim and was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club choice. I am certainly looking for her next book The Corset, another Victorian-gothic novel, which came out recently.

(Warning: Don’t read just before bed time!)

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