Monday, 29 May 2017

A Parcel of Pigs

A Parcel of Pigs is a debut book for children from new author Andrea Prior.

It's filled with quirky poems that are specially written for children aged from 5 to 8.

The poems are accompanied by bright and colourful illustrations which are also by the author.

The poems are great for children to share with adults and they will be able to help them with their reading skills.

The poems are proper poems (meaning that they rhyme!) and are humorous and are designed to provide children and parents (and grandparents, too!) with a highly pleasing and interactive experience that they will remember as a pleasant part of their childhood.

Each poem has a set of questions that are designed to help the children remember what they learn through the poems.

The book is ideal for all children but will, in the reviewer's opinion, be of great help for parents who have taken the decision to educate their own children at home.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 (e-book version £3.99) and can be ordered online at

It is to be hoped that this is the first of many such books from Andrea Prior.

Of Human Telling

Of Human Telling is a novel by Tanya van Hasselt,

Jane is nasty. Or rather, Jane believes she is nasty. She bases this belief on the fact that she is jealous of Beth, who is good and nice.

And the fact that she is filled with resentment of Stephen, who is unattainable and so very noble of nature.

As a result Jane becomes deeply involved in her working life as a teacher of music to children that are described as troubled.

Her mother consoles her, although she often provokes her, as do a group of church ladies who are all well-meaning but sometimes problematic.

She is working with Terzo who is a mute girl of six. Terzo's twin was killed by a journalist called Angelo Aranzo, who Jane is both disturbed by and also intrigued by.

There's also neighbour Kate who is compelled and driven by her OCD rituals which she is able to hide from her unsuspecting husband.

Neither Kate or her husband are able to see the woods for the trees and they are unaware that their daughter is leading a secret life or that their son is facing severe problems of his own.

A schoolgirl is bullied beyond the limits of her ability to endure and so she attempts to kill herself.

It's an interesting and compelling novel that is both dramatic and also sympathetic. It's about the real problems that real people face and how they cope, or in some instances, fail to cope with, the problems of themselves and of those around them.

It is published by Matador at £7.99 and is available through good book retailers and online at

Down But Not Out!

In Down But Not Out! readers again meet up with former boxer Ronnie Callaghan, written by retired boxer and trainer Gary Tulley.

In the second part of the Fingerless Gloves trilogy, Ronnie once again comes face to face with his nemesis, the so-called Plastic Gangster, Paul Rossetti.

After an exile of six years, Rossetti is hungry for vengeance.

His hatred for Ronnie has not diminished one  iota, in fact it has grown and developed over time into an unhealthy and dangerous obsession.

He will destroy Ronnie Callaghan, of this he is absolutely certain.

However, he has not counted on the fact that Ronnie and his mentor Siddie Levy are equally certain that Rossetti will not succeed in his avowed aims.

For the pair have plans of their own for Rossetti.Plans that, if they come to fruition, Rossetti will not like one little bit.

This is a gritty and highly realistic novel from someone who is a true master of this genre.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 (£3.99 e-book) and is available via good book retailers and also on line here

A life Untold

A Life Untold is the debut novel of Dallaa Moussallati who has finally taken the plunge to write this novel.

Zara comes to in a hospital. She is utterly disorientated. Why is she even in the hospital? But even more worryingly, poor Zara is not able to remember anything about herself or of her life.

Distressingly, nobody can even see her. So what, exactly, is happening to her?

Then she meets the chief assistant of the Angel of Death, a surprisingly pleasant fellow, who explains to Zara that she is dying. But first he must take her back through her life, to see all of the deeds that she committed both the bad ones and the good ones.

She is also permitted to see the impact that she had on the people around her as she had lived her life.

Is this the end of her life or the beginning, instead? And what, exactly, will happen to her in the hereafter?

It's an interesting and thought provoking book from Matador, priced at £8.99 (£3.99 E-book) and is available from all good book retailers and on line at

Close Quarters

Retired solicitor and university lecturer Angus McAllister spent a lifetime living in flats in and around the city of Glasgow and built up a wealth of knowledge of the types of people who live in that environment and also of the characters -some larger than life- who inhabit that world.

It would have been a shame to allow all of that rich, eclectic material to go waste, but Angus decided to not allow that to happen, and he drew on that well of knowledge for the inspiration of his murder mystery Close Quarters.

Walter Bain was probably well-named, at least according to his neighbours. 

He was the self-appointed overseer of the tenement block at 13 Oldberry Road, Glasgow.

He had taken upon his own shoulders the mantle of the guardian of what was right and proper for all of the residents of the tenement block. Noise to be kept to a minimum, stairs kept clean at all times (please check the rota for your turn to wash the stairs) wheelie bins to be taken out and brought back at the correct times and into the correct positions, gate to be kept shut, grass cutting rota to be strictly observed and so on and on and on.

So perhaps it was not really all that much of a shock when Walter Bain was found dead in his flat, with his brains smashed in with a fireplace poker.

Who could the killer be? The police were stumped, initially, not due to the lack of a likely suspect but the fact that there was a plethora of potential suspects.All of which could have had a motive to see Walter Bain dead. 

Could it be his wife who claimed to have slept throughout the murder? Or perhaps it was one of his neighbours? Apparently even the more timid seeming neighbours had had their fill of Walter Bain and his rules for domestic living at 13 OLdberry Road. 

Had he caused a neighbour to snap over years of abusive, belittling martinet like behaviour? Or was the murderer someone else, someone from outside the hothouse environment of the tenement?

It was the unenviable task of the police detectives involved to sift through a mountain of evidence and conflicting reports to find out exactly why Walter Bain had to die and who it was who had struck the fatal blows?

The book has a light comedic undertone to it and makes a refreshing and well-written read. It's published by Matador at £8.99 and is available through all good book retailers and online at


Tragedy & Challenge

Tragedy & Challenge is is a book that is written by an insider and it provides expert testimony on the decline of engineering in the UK and it also points out the challenges that face the UK in what he describes as a "Bexit economy."

Tom Brown has seen engineering over a 45 year career, within both the UK and overseas. He has seen all aspects of the industry from a night shift manager to the chair of 15 companies, such as university spin offs, private equity backed concerns and larger concerns with stock market listings.

He is, therefore, able to offer a unique and penetrating insight into the new challenges that will face our engineering concerns in the post-Brexit world.

He also takes a look at the impact engineering has on the whole of the British economy, the potential for exports, the loves of working people and on the broader reaches of society as an entirety.

The book examines and codifies the reasons behind the decline of engineering within the UK. One key factor that he looks at is poor leadership, the detrimental effects of a variety of government policies and the negative impact of the City of London on our engineering sector.

The book should make some uncomfortable reading for a variety of people because it is Tom Brown's conclusion that although the global economy did have some negative impact on the British engineering sector, that a major part of the blame for the decline in the UK engineering sector must be shouldered by poor management, unions and poor government decisions and short term thinking within  the city of London. He also blames "decaying social attitudes" and feels that Brexit could make the situation even more daunting.

The book will make sobering reading for all involved and it will be published on June 28th by Matador at £19.99 in hardback.

It will be available for purchase via all good bookshops and also at

Wounded But Not Dead

Wounded But Not Dead tells the story of what happened to young Victor Vimord.

Victor was abused by his parents and, as a result of the abuse, he misbehaves in school and, due to his behavioural problems, he is expelled from his school.

He is then despatched to a Catholic boarding school which is a long distance away from his former school and home.

He meets up with another boy called Freddy, who quickly befriends Victor.

Unfortunately, Freddy leads Victor astray and as a result a fellow pupil at the school is murdered.

Victor is once again expelled from school, and he faces an uncertain life, in which his goals -educational, employment, familial, are either set at nought or otherwise trampled on.

Eventually Victor decides to take a different path and makes his way to England. Once in England he locates a group of expatriates who seem to be living a somewhat happy and carefree lifestyle in their new country.

How will Victor cope? Can he forget the griefs, doubts and self recriminations of his past life? Can he forge a new life for himself, moving away from his troubled and tormented earlier life?

This is an interesting slice of life style novel from French-born author Vincent Leforestier and is in some ways a fantasy novel.

It's published by Matador at £9.99 and is available for purchase through all good bool retailers and online from

Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Big Plug

The Big Plug is a book with a very strong environmental message for children and it is written by Peter Grenville and is his debut work.

The world is getting hotter and hotter as the result of human activity.

All around the world, all living creatures and plants are dying.

Dave the Cherry Tree and his fellow plants obviously do not like this and they must form a plan to stop it from happening.

Just when they are thinking that there is nothing they can do, a giant and rather scary spider -and its huge army of loyal followers- arrive on the scene.

The spider reveals to Dave and his fellow plants that he has a cunning scheme to save the world, but that it will not be without sacrifice hardship and, indeed, some deaths.

Deciding that they have nothing to lose Dave and his fellow plants join the spider and his army to bring an end to global destruction.

But! Will the plan work? And even it it does, will any of the plants actually survive?

The book is aimed at children and is published by Matador at £6.99, it is available from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop which you will find here:-

Murder in the Fourth Round

As a weapon of murder, golf clubs are not an entirely unknown choice. But  a sharpened wooden golf tee, coated with a rare but extremely deadly native Colombian toxin? That has to be a first.

And this is the startling opening premise of the novel "Murder in the Fourth Round" by retired High Court judge Ian Simpson who, upon retirement, moved from judging murder cases to writing about murder cases as a successful crime novelist.

"Before Ballesteros signed his winning score card he was dead" has to be one of the most significant lines in the history of murder novels through the ages.

But who was dead? Tony Spencer.

Who would want him dead and dead in such an extravagant and gaudy fashion?

The police and the courts knew. Or rather, they thought they did. After all, didn't the try and jail the killer, Peter Waldron, a partner of solicitor Tony Spencer in the firm L & P Campbell, Solicitors?

But now, after 31 years, Waldron, dying of pancreatic cancer, is to be released on compassionate grounds.

But then, after the murder of a political activist, DI Flick Fortune begins an investigation which has a group of solicitors as the target. The solicitors had dubbed themselves "The Jolly Boys" and as well as focussing on them,  the investigation is taking a fresh look at the murder of Tony Spencer back in 1984.

She is assisted by DS Baggo (Bagawath) Chandavarkar.

However, trouble -of sorts- comes their way with the arrival of a nemesis from her past, former DI Noel Osborne (formerly of the Met and otherwise described as Inspector No) who has been hired to overturn the conviction of Peter Waldron.

He manages to stir the pot more than a little and to the chagrin of some and the interest of others, the result is that decades-hidden crimes are brought out into the light and suddenly all is not as it seems and events suddenly gather pace as things seem to slip out of control.

So, who did murder Tony Spencer, if it wasn't his fellow solicitor, Peter Waldron?

And why, exactly, did someone -with access to the deadly toxin Batrachotoxin- decide that Tony Spencer deserved death in such a dramatic and theatrical fashion?

This is a real page turner of a crime thriller. I am pleased that Ian Simpson has been brought to my attention. I'll look out for his name in future.

The book is published by Matador at £7.99 and is out now. You can buy it at the That's Books and Entertainments bookshop which you will find here:-

It's book number 4 in the Flick and Baggo murder mystery series.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Hotel Life of Brian

Although published by The Book Guild Publishing as a collection of short stories, Brian Wilson's new book "The Hotel Life of Brian" is a gathering together of a series of events that actually took place during his hotel industry career.

He joined the hotel industry back in 1964, after obtaining a range of suitable qualifications from college.

Over the next 25 years he worked in a variety of positions in a variety of establishments.

Eventually he was promoted to the head heights of hotel management where he was the manager of a large hotel with 170 bedrooms and the facilities to cater for 900 people.

After this Brian decided to escape from the world of corporate hotels, deciding, instead, to run his own somewhat smaller country inn.

He then moved back to the city where he owned and operated a 15 bedroom hotel in the heart of the city. A hotel he ran successfully for three years.

From the Oxford Brookes University he gained membership of the prestigious Institute of Hospitality.

He then spent the remaining years of his career working in academia, spending seven years lecturing on hotel industry management, with the last 13 years as a College Senior Manager.

Read the book and learn about what it takes to thrive, or even just survive, in the hotel and catering industry.

Read about the perils of a badly placed fusebox, why an apron ended up covered with a pound of butter, the perils of cooking steaks with coke, what happens when a colleague miscalculates the time it would take to hard boil an egg, apparently 40 hours was not the answer he should have got, why an office looked like it had been ransacked, when it hadn't been, how a complicated order from a party from the BBC caused a slip-up and how a group of very audacious thieves managed to escape with a load of... well, I don't want to give too much away, so suffice to say that you will find that sad and sorrowful tale toward the latter portion of the book.

The book is also well-illustrated with a collection of highly amusing cartoons. And all for a snip at just £8.99.

It's available from 28th May and can be pre-ordered at our own bookshop, which you will find here

Monday, 24 April 2017

Of Human Telling

Of Human Telling is the latest novel from Tanya van Hasselt.

It puts under the microscope several homes, several affluent outwardly successful  homes,  where the family members within them, parents and children, can become strangers.

This is the second novel about Wharton, the first being All Desires Known.

Wharton is a typical English town, famed for its public school and the fact that it attracts people hungering for the middle class values that the town projects.

However, all might not be what it seems. Families within Wharton have their own, hidden problems, desires and fears.

Hidden homosexuality, a mother who is willing to risk everything, her marriage and the future happiness of her own children, people with dark secrets that they feel unable to reveal to anyone, a small boy who can't or won't speak.

There is also a hidden problem of severe bullying. But when a girl who is a victim of such bullying attempts to kill herself, everyone in Wharton is forced to take stock of who they are and what they have become and to explore the possibility that perhaps even they might bear some responsibility for the sad plight that the girl had found herself in.

This is an extremely well-written and utterly compelling and beguiling novel.

It is published by Matador at £7.99 and can be bought at the That's Books Bookshop

The Road to East India

The Road to East India, a Diary of a Journey of a Lifetime, is a book by Devika A. Rosamund.

It was written during Devika's journey, alone, in 1976, when she was just 22 years of age.

Her journey began in England when she left home and arrived in Amsterdam in 1975. She worked hard for several months and saved her money for the beginning of her epic solo journey.

She boarded the once famed "Magic Bus" to Iran, continuing her journey through Afghanistan and Pakistan until she arrived at her destination, India.

Once in India she travelled extensively.

Devika points out that the journey she took would be utterly impossible today due to the changes that have taken place in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The diary is a very well-written, intelligent and witty account of her travels.

It contains some interesting and illuminating comments on Mother Teresa, how she smuggled cloves into Sri Lanka to make some money, a song that she wrote about Sri Lanka, how she found an Ashram where she was able to learn about meditation at the feet of a spiritual master.

She reports that she met much kindness on her journey and made friends wherever she travelled.

Although the book is well worth buying its sparse images, plus a lack of any colour images is somewhat puzzling.

The book is published by Matador at £7.99 and can be bought at the That's Books bookshop at

The Keeper of Portals

The Keeper of Portals is a new fantasy novel that uses the concept of a time-slip to provide a highly entertaining story from author V S Nelson.

Martin and his mother are mourning the death of Martin's father and they move inot a gigantic stately home.

Within this stately home they have an encounter with a being who is described as the Keeper of Portals.

He claims that he is the keeper of every portal throughout the entire world. With the exception of one portal, a doorway at the end of Martin's bedroom. A doorway that has been sealed shut for 400 years.

However, when Martin awakes on one subsequent morning he discovers that the door has mysteriously become open and that the Keeper of Portals has vanished.

Marin decides that he will walk through the doorway and immediately meets up with Isabel who is a maid of the house, 400 years ago in the past!

The discover that everything on earth is under the control of a keeper.

They find two keepers who were imprisoned and they find that they now have the ability to travel between different doorways and change their time.

They inadvertently become involved in a fight between two very powerful adversaries, the Keeper of Questions and the master of the house.

But when things from the 21st century begin to intrude into the 17th century, they realise that something has gone wrong with time. And they must confront the Keeper of Questions. Can they defy the Keeper of Questions? Or, like everyone else, will they become prey to his control?

The book takes the reader headfirst into an exciting fantasy world that continues at a breakneck pace right through to the stunning conclusion.

It is published by Matador at £7.99 and although it is aimed at teenage fantasy fans, I feel it is probably going to be a bit of a hit with adults, too.

You can buy it at the That's Books bookshop, here

Samson the Super Dog

Samson the Super Dog, Dogs on Duty, is a remarkable book by life saving expert and author Sarah E. Webster, who is also responsible for the colourful and utterly enchanting illustrations.

It tells the story of Samson who learns all there is to know about water safety. In fact he learns so much that he became a canine lifeguard.

He worked as a lifeguard. keeping a watchful, careful eye on the tourists who visited the Cornish resort where he lived and worked.

But one day the area is beset with a terrible, raging storm. Someone is in trouble! Can Samson save the day? Can he save the day?

Read it and find out!

This book is the first in a new series of stories about "Dogs on Duty" that is published by The Book Guild.

It is aimed at Children and is a great book to help teach children about beach and water safety and costs £7.99. It is available to purchase at the That's Books Bookshop at

Incidentally the character of Samson is based on a real canine rescue hero call Bilbo, who is a genuine Cornish lifeguard dog. You can learn more about Bilbo at

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Family Concerns

Family Concerns is the third book in the An Eccentric in Lucca Books, by Stuart Fifield.

In Family concerns we once again meet the Contessa.

She is working hard to prepare the Group for what is to be their next concert to raise funds.

She is in a nostalgic mood, but is troubled by the behaviour of her maid who is still irascible and her pet dog who is still, unfortunately, of a somewhat vindictive turn of canine mind.

The Contessa is also starting to feel the influences of old age creeping upon her, which does nothing to help her state of mind.

However by way of compensation the concert is a joint enterprise with Banda Inghiltalia and the conductor is to be the incredibly handsome Arthur Crowe.

With he sion Luigi she sets out on a project to improve and expand the premises of the hospice which was created in memory of her late husband.

Somehow, despite all of her commitments the Contessa finds the time to take a young Scottish couple under her wing. They have arrived in Lucca determined to launch a new shop. But the wise old Contessa is not convinced that any good can come of their enterprise. After all, she muses, what is the point of opening a shop if nobody in the vicinity would want to patronise the premises and make purchases from their stocks?

However, all is not well with the group. Brushes with the law, the nuisance of a midlife crisis and unexpected and unpleasant surprises are rife.

To complicate matters there has been yet another murder (the fourth) and Inspector Conti still seems no closer to finding a solution to any of these homicides.

Published by The Book Guild this book (and others in the series) should be available from The That's Books Bookshop, which you will find her

That's Christmas: Winter's Leap

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Monday, 17 April 2017


Alchemy is a book by Alison Gardiner that tells the story of a boy, 14-year-old Alex Weston and his hamster, Skoodle, who is described as "sassy."

Alex has managed to maroon  himself and Skoodle on a magical island called Eridor. This unfortunate eventuality occurred whilst alex was attempting to locate his parents who had vanished.

There is one thing that Alex lacks, and that could be seen as a major handicap on such a magical island like Eridor. Alex has no magic. So he must, with the assistance of his rodentine companion, fight powerful magical forces and enchantments merely to survive.

However, they meet up with a golden pelted bear called Tariq and together they risk their lives to attempt to save a boy wizard who they learn is trapped on the side of a remote mountain, by disgusting and ruthless goblins.

But Tariq is turned to stone, and the price to save him is for a best friend to turn traitor.

Assisted by a bewildering array of magical creatures can a boy save Tariq and also save the whole of Eridor from destruction?

The book is fast paced and is emotionally charged and explores many complex themes and is an ideal book for young fantasy novel lovers. It's published by Matador at £7.99 and is available for purchase here

Get Rich or Get lucky

In Get Rich or Get Lucky, author Max Nowaz takes his readers through a madcap fantasy tale about a writer who is not as successful as he could be, so he finds it necessary to seek out other less literary endeavours to get-rich-quickly.

His idea is a simple one, yet like most simple ideas there are many potential problems.

The theory is a good one, much vaunted on a variety of TV shows, where someone buys a rundown old house, renovates it, sells it on and makes a wonderful killing whilst doing so.

I mean, what on earth could possibly go wrong? Apart from recalcitrant builders, bothersome council officers and a book of magic.

A book of magic?  Yes, a book of magic. For during one of his renovation projects he finds a book of magical spells in the cellar of an old, decrepit house.

He is, of course, excited by his find and wants to share the news of his find with his two good friends, Charlie and Dick.

However, one thing leads to another and Dick is inadvertently turned into a crayfish.

Adam doesn't, yet, know how to reverse this spell and whilst he is struggling to find a reversing spell to turn Dick back into Dick, he places the crayfish in the pond in the garden.

When the pond floods, Dick vanishes and to make matters worse Dick's worried wife Rachel reports him as missing to the police.

Police officers, in general, take a dim view of people who have vanished and they suspect that Adam is involved in the disappearance. Which, technically speaking, he was, but saying to the police: "It's my fault I accidentally turned my good friend Dick into a crayfish, but he went missing" certainly wouldn't have helped the situation.

To make matters worse (x2) Adam's home is burgled and the book is stolen.

To make matters worse (x3) Adam becomes aware that there is an evil and powerful warlock who is on the hunt for the book.

Adam then realises that he must recover the book of spells, whilst also counteracting the evil warlock. And then, if he can, he must restore Dick to human form.

But then, well, let's just say that things become even more complicated with abductions, dalliances with the delectable, but married, Vera... and even more crayfish.

The book costs £9.99 and is published by Matador. You can buy it here

Precious Fortunes

Precious Fortunes is a new novel by author Ian Townsend.

Angela Burdett-Coutts was the daughter of Thomas Coutts. She was a described, in glowing terms, by King Edward VII as "the most remarkable woman in the kingdom, after my mother."

At the age of 23 she inherited a vast fortune of £2M from her grandfather in 1837. The equivalent of £210M in today's money.

Being an attractive young woman who was so wealthy she could have been described as making Croesus look like a piker. But along with this vast wealth came a very large number of suitors who were all, by and large, dishonourable scrounging rogues.

She was also a stunningly generous benefactor having a wide range of eclectic interests from bee keeping to goats, from social housing to fallen women and many other things in between.

This much is true. Ian Townsend has taken this historical character and her visits to the West Riding spa town of Harrogate, where she is to seek respite from the unwanted attentions of the unworthy suitors.

But at the same time an honourable member of the 11th Light Dragoons has been despatched to Harrogate on a vitally important and highly secretive  government mission.

The two meet, entirely by chance, and this encounter propels them both into a dramatic adventure which contains deceitfulness, corruption, kidnapping extortion and revenge.

Written from the point of view of cavalry officer Captain George Townsend, the book is meticulously researched and is a combination of Victorian romance and thriller, rolled into one.

It's a refreshingly interesting and exciting read and at 344 pages is well worth every penny of the £9.99 price.

It is published by Mandy Townsend Publishing and is available from the That's Books Bookshop,

The French Riviera a History

The French Riviera is a very important place in France. And one might imagine that tome after tome of work had been published covering the history of the French Riviera.

One might imagine that would be the case, but one would be incorrect.

Author Michael Nelson reveals that when he was launching his book Americans and the Making of the Riviera in the French city of Nice in 2008, the owner of the English Book Centre in Valbonne, mentioned to him that customers frequently visited her shop asking for an English language book on the general history of the French Riviera, only for her to have to inform them that no such book existed.

She added to him: "Why don't you write one?" Spurred on by her request, Nelson turned to the task of  researching and writing that very book, The French Riviera, a History.

Although the book is not what one could consider over to be over long, it is a comprehensive book that gives the reader illuminating glimpses of the history of the French Riviera from prehistoric times to the modern era.

We learn about the early settlers (600BC, Greeks fleeing from Turkey to escape the marauding hordes of Persian expansionists) to the Romans, to the rule of the Merovingian King Childebert, during 536AD to 558AD.

During the Middle Ages it was fought over by Spain, Italy and France, all who found it a most desirable prize.

Tourism began to become important to the economy of the area in the 18th century, when it became popular with wealthy Britons seeking a home for the winter far away from the cold, wt weather of the British Isles.

Nelson points out that an early tourist was, in fact, the American politician Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson wrote many letters during his time in the Riviera. These letters still exist because Jefferson took with him what was, for that time, a technological marvel, a portable copying machine.

Monarchs, including Queen Victoria, brough regal fame to the Riviera during the latter part of the 19th century, and after the First World War American visitors brought about the existence of  the summer tourist season.

The book is copiously illustrated -of particular note is the Bronze Age rock carving dubbed the Sorcerer, who is shown wielding two daggers.

The book is of immense value to the casual reader or the dedicated scholar and at the price of £13.99 belongs on the bookshelf or in the suitcase of anyone who is looking to visit this fascinating area.

It is published by Matador and is available for purchase at the That's Books and Entertainment Bookshop, here

Shakespeare in Modern English

Shakespeare in modern English is a vital new book as the three plays by the bard that it contains, as You Like It, Coriolanus and The Tempest, are presented to the audience modern English, translated by educationalist and published author Hugh Macdonald.

It is aimed at people who might have some difficulties coping with the language of the Elizabethan period, which may well be utterly incomprehensible to the vast majority of people of this modern era.

However, it is the intention of Macdonald to make sure that although these plays are readily accessible that none of the magic and the poetic language employed by Shakespeare is lost by a modern translation.

The translations have received praise from academic experts such as Robert Henke, Professor of Drama and Comparative Literature, Washington University, St Louis.

But the proof of the pudding is, as they say, in the eating. Do these translations from Elizabethan English to contemporary English work?

It has to be said that they do work and that they work well.

It is published by Matador at £9.99 and should be bought by every student of Shakespeare, every lover of his works, ever drama student and tutor and every theatre company, great and small, professional or amateur, who are looking at putting on a Shakespeare play, on either Elizabethan or contemporary English.

It is available through the That's Books Bookshop which you can find here

The Adventures of Plonk

The Adventures of Plonk is an utterly charming story of a unique little creature called Plonk.

Plonk was created by Joan M. Davies MFPS.

At the tender age of 17 Joan earned a scholarship to the prestigious Manchester School of Art.

She found herself on a six year training course, one of only six granted throughout the entire United Kingdom.

She gained distinctions in both anatomy and the history of architecture, studying under Mr Dodd, who had himself studied under Picasso.

An example of her art was praised by L. S. Lowry in an article in The Manchester Guardian, in which he described her as "One of the coming artists of the day."

She began drawing her character Plonk -based on the farthing coin- and the book The Adventures of Plonk was first published in 1944.

Recently the distinguished fashion designer Hussein Chalyan MBE asked for permission to use of the the Plonk illustrations for a Paris fashion show.

Joan M. Davies died in 1991 aged 69. And the book has been republished by her daughter, Elizabeth Gordon.

But now we can again enjoy the adventures of her charming character Plonk.

Nobody knew anything about Plonk. Nobody knew where he was from, or even how or why he was called Plonk.

He lived alone on an island in the middle of the sea. During the summertime he loved to bathe in the sea water.

In the winter he liked to skate in the ice and play in the snow.

But he became lonely. So lonely that he began to cry.

A witch who was passing by took Plonk high up into the sky, terrifying poor Plonk. She took him to her castle and she cruelly made him work, carrying her basket that was far too heavy for him to carry.

Eventually he ran away from the witch and he met an amazing array of characters and had a lot of wonderful adventures and was made to suffer by ignorant people until in the end a kindly gnome took pity on him and asked a good fairy to help Plonk go back to his island.

But that's not the end of this charming tail that teaches many important life lessons that are as valid now as they were in 1944.

This is an ideal book for children to read by themselves and also to have read with them.

It is published by Matador Children's Books at £7.99 and can be bought here at our own bookshop

Light After Dark II The Large and the Small

In Light After Dark II The Large and the Small, author Dr Charles Francis attempts to explain the inexplicable.

Dr Francis makes an exploration of the physics and philosophies that appertain t5o the conceptual basis of modern physical theory.  

However he takes pity on us lesser mortals and very kindly has taken troubles not to include a whole wodge of equations, and has included sufficient explanations to make the book more accessible to general readers.

He points out that some of the so-called problems in modern physics has been caused by a lack of understanding of some people in the field when they have attempted to understand what one might describe as the more obtuse writings of colleagues whose only sin was to be perhaps not very good as communicators.

He explains that relativity and quantum mechanics are not two "disparate theories, as is sometimes suggested, but that together they form the logical conclusion of Leibniz' search for a fully relationist model of physics."

A lot of what you might think you know about physics may well not be entirely true. However, if you read this book you will find your knowledge of physics to be greatly expanded.

At only £14.99 this book will be a very valuable purchase for the layman or laywoman who is interested in physics, the lecturer or the student.

It is published by Matador Science and can be purchased at the That's Books Bookshop which you will find here

Angel Faces

What happens when a government or an organisation wants a job done, but dare not have its name associated with the mission in question?

This is where Vendicare comes into its own.

Vendicare is a totally independent and highly secretive private contractor that takes on jobs that governments or organisations need to have done, yet dare not have any traceable involvement in.

The world is full of dirty situations and it is Vendicare to whom they turn to have those situations cleaned up.

Vendicare is owned and operated by billionaire Vincent Natalie, at its disposal are highly trained staff who have a full range of the world's most sophisticated military hardware.

Angel Faces is their latest mission.

They find themselves in Africa where they must deal with ruthless and heartless terrorists. However, having had it their own way for far too long, the terrorists now face the deadly force of Vendicare.

The novel starts at a run and never drops below the speed of a decent trot.

Although author Scott Vincent is obvious very well up on military and technological matters, he uses these sparingly and intelligently throughout the story. They are included not to allow the author to show off his research skills but rather to help propel the story along, often at breakneck speed.

From African pirates to international politics and terrorist groups this novel redefines the word thriller in a most excellent way.

I'll not give the plot away, but I will say that if yo are a lover of high octane thrillers, then this is the book for you.

I sincerely hope that this is the first in what will prove to be a very long series of books about Vendicare. And if there is any justice in the world, this series will make it ot the silver screen, soon.

It's published by Matador at £9.99 and you can order it at the that's Books Bookshop, which you will find here

Friday, 14 April 2017

Sorak's Redemption

Sorak's Redemption is the first Science fiction novel I have read in a while.

It Is set upon an alien world. An alien world where women are the rulers.

Men are considered to be both inferior and are kept in a subservient state, good for breeding and not much else.

One's social standing is predicated social standing. In short, the darker you are the better off you are in terms of your social rank.

Sorak is very low in the pecking order. Having blue eyes and a pale skin in a society like theirs will do that to a person.

Yet Sorak is becoming increasingly disheartened by her allotted role in life.

She wants more, yet, conversely, she wants less, too. She wants more freedom and less of the mindless violence that runs throughout their society which has evolved into a city state that exists, of itself and by itself, upon an otherwise apparently desertlike unoccupied wilderness.

Slaves are owned and treated brutally, yet why is she so interested in Slave 1562? Could she be falling in love with him? Such a love was totally outlawed and would be punished with the utmost severity.

Yet she could not help herself.

But the whole of society begins to fracture as rivalries and alliances come and go.

Hedley Harrison paints an interesting picture of a planet and a society that, although alien, does bear some relationship to the society that we are familiar with.

It's a fantasy romance, using the background of an alien society to explore some familiar themes, yet at the same time taking a different look at them.

It's published by The Book Guild and is available from the That's Books Bookshop which can be found here

The War Baby

Set during the turbulent time of World War Two (and the ensuing years) when many of the constraints of  "normal" society were rapidly breaking down, Florence meets and falls in love with Bill who is a sergeant in the RAF, in this novel by AndrĂ©e Rushton.

Their love story is brought to a harrowing and premature end when, during the Normandy landings, Bill is reported missing and presumed dead.

Florence realises that she is pregnant with Bill's child and, because she is carrying a child out of wedlock, she is discharged from the WAAF.

Heartbroken by the loss of the love of her life and feeling shamed at being pregnant whilst unmarried she attempts to return home to her family, only to discover that her mother has been killed during a bombing raid and that the family home is utterly destroyed.

She give birth to a son who she names William after her man. She attempts to contact Bill's parents, yet they callously reject her and their own grandson, refusing to help them.

Beaten down, tired and utterly alone in the world she realises that she has no other option but to put her precious child up for adoption. But she never forgets her boy.

When he has grown up, Will hankers after finding out about his mother and his father and the rest of his birth family and he sets out to trace his birth mother.

Will Florence's past decisions come back to haunt her and cause her untold heartache and torment?

Or will it offer her a chance of a redemption of sorts, to provide her with fulminant and closure, of peace of mind and contentment at long last?

It is a well written and sympathetically executed book that looks at the consequences of decisions that people make or, perhaps more pertinently in this case, have thrust upon them.

It's published by The Book Guild at £8.99 and can be bought at the That's Books bookshop, which you will find here

Bright Tracks

In 1959, nearly 60 years ago, four friends from Cambridge University decided that they would take a six week backpacking holiday to Greece.

Unlike today when tourists merely board a jet and get out at their destination only several hours later, in 1959 they joined a party of travellers who were heading to Greece, by train.

The train was called the Tauern Express and it took three days to travel through Europe from Ostend.

The four friends discovered a way of life that was vastly different from their own home lives, as they find themselves in a country still dealing with the aftermath of having been occupied by the German Army during World War Two, a decade ago.

They travel throughout Greece exploring the rich variety of places of historical importance and significance and meet a range of highly colourful characters.

The author, Richard Pike, took copious notes during the trip of a lifetime and he and his three companions took many photographs.

But Richard's notes were allowed to be stored away as he got on with the more pressing demands of establishing himself as an educationalist and a teacher.

He also wrote and published several books but the notes of his adventure remained pretty much undisturbed until Richard decided to dust them off and read through them.

The result is a highly personal account of a journey to and through a place that sadly, for the main part, no longer exists, the Greece and Europe of a different century and a vastly different milieu.

It is wonderfully illustrated, including many photographs taken by Richard and his companions during their epic journey. There are also some wonderfully evocative sketches by Mike.

From the dour officials of Eastern Europe to the attractive girl they met, to the disappointment of old ruins that were, after all, only some old ruins, to the limousines of Athens to the live hens tied by their feet to the roof rack of a wheezing, ancient bus, all life is here and faithfully recorded by Richard and his three compatriots.

It's published by Matador at a remarkably reasonable £9.99 and will make an excellent gift for the traveller, armchair or otherwise, or the lover of well-written socio-history of the past, post long and recent.

You can buy it here at the That's Book bookshop

The Fortunes at War

The Fortunes at War is a novel set against the backdrop of The Crimean War.

Captain James Fortune and Sergeant John Finch both hail from the same village in rural Hampshire.

They are both from vastly different backgrounds, but there are links between them. They are both from the same place and they both join the famed Rifle Brigade.

But there is also another, deeper link that binds them together. The link of family, as they are blood relatives. But this salient fact is not known to both of them.

The are both posted to the Crimea and see action in a variety of locations, the Battle of Alma and the fall of Sevastopol.

The two men are entrusted with a highly secret and very dangerous mission.

Will the two men succeed in their allotted tasks on the mission?

Will they survive the war and return home? Will they both become aware of the fact that they are more than just fellow villagers, although from different social stratas? That they are family?

Tony Foot's novel is extremely well researched and is also very well written. He takes the reader back to the time of the Crimean War, yet as he takes the reader back to the time of the funeral of Wellington (I had not realised what a disaster it had turned into) he only uses enough research to paint you a picture, not baffle you with too many facts.

It's an intriguing book, covering the horrors of war, family life at the time of the Crimea and all told in a charmingly realistic, yet romantic way.

It's published by The Book Guild at £7.99 and is worth every penny.

You can purchase it at the That's Book bookshop, here

Monday, 3 April 2017

In the Doghouse!

In the Doghouse! is new book for children from published author David J. Robertson.

His first children's book, Dognapped! was published by Matador in 2016 and is nominated for the People's Book Prize, 2017.

And now he has reunited his gang of crime fighting pooches for more canine shenanigans and crime fighting.

Rascal is a giant of a German Shepherd. Although he might look a bit scary, the truth is that Rascal is a bit of a cowardly lion type, rather than a ruff tuff canine.

He has grown so large that his kennel can no longer accommodate him, so he very kindly allows his three muttly mates, Misty, Bertie and One-Eyed Rose to have it for their own den.

But one day, the rains come and once they came, they didn't know when to stop! So poor Rascal becomes soaked right through to his skin.

His friends are worried about him catching a chill, so they put their heads together to see if they can find him a new home.

The gang, under the guidance of One-Eyed Rose, end up on the other side of their town, because that, she knows, is a place where they sell kennels.

It's a place that sells a wide range of wooden structures like summerhouses and sheds, but, unfortunately, the gang arrives on a day that it is not open for business!

This doesn't put plucky Rose off, she manages to wriggle her way through a hole in the fence.

There are a group of men working within the compound, loading wooden sheds onto a lorry, using a forklift truck. The men, a gang of robbers, notice the dogs and in the ensuing melee, the summerhouses end up being smashed!

The dogs are chased away, but cowardly Rascal goes the wrong way and becomes lost in the middle of the compound.

When they realise Rascal is lost, the friends go back to find him, but then the alarms are triggered!

What will happen to them? Will they be in a lot of trouble? Where will Rascal be able to live?

The book is wonderfully illustrated by Ian Ward and will be a great book for any child and also for the adults lucky enough to read this story to them!

It's published by Matador at £8.99 and will make a wonderful book to be read by and with children.

You can buy it here at the That's Books bookshop:-

Saturday, 1 April 2017

That's Christmas: Mathmos Lava Lamps. Original and best for 54 years...

That's Christmas: Mathmos Lava Lamps. Original and best for 54 years...: Britain has seen enormous changes in the last 54 years especially in technology and fashion. Many have said that quality has been lost a...

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Humanitarian and visionary

This is the biography of a man who was born into fantastic wealth, yet who gained a reputation in his own right of being a humanitarian, a man of vision and of a deep and abiding concern for matters involving conservation and the environment.

He was the son of the once very well known figure the Aga Khan III.

He was born in France and spent several years living in Switzerland and studied at the prestigious Harvard University.

In her biography. Diana Miserez, who first became acquainted with the Prince whilst she was an employee of the UN High Commissioner's Office for Refugees and he was the working with UNESCO and as the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees, writes of his childhood and his early years.

She also focuses on his deep concerns over the North-South divide and the consequences that he was able to foresee.

He was at the heart of many world issues and concerns such as the continuing plight of refugees, nuclear proliferation,  Alpine conservation, seal cub massacres, the genocide in Rwanda, globalisation and so much more.

It is a deft and thoughtful profile and biography of a man who many thought should have been appointed UN Secretary-General, but never was.

The book is copiously illustrated and will help people get to know much more about this charming, urbane and vitally important figure in recent world history.

It is 390 pages in length and published in hardback by The Book Guild. It is available from the That's Books books shop, which you will find here

Caught in the Act

Caught in the Act is a series of masterful short stories.

Unlike some short story authors who always seem unable to resist the urge to cram a whole novel's worth of ideas into the very restricted space of a short story and end up rather like Uncle Ivo's overstuffed leather chair. (If you want to find out about Uncle Ivo's chair, you can do so in one of the 26 short stories contained in this anthology.)

We read of the sea cruise that never was or probably never would be, of cups with cracked glazes,  the problems of concentration when you didn't want to, of sea fishing, of dances and of school days and of murder in the vicarage which, the author points out, is based on a real event.

There are stories of lost ideals, of broken promises, of remembered past experiences and of those who are lonely and those who are alone, which is not always the same thing.

It is a thoughtful book and a truthful book and there is much to commend the work of the author, David Spiller.

The stories are well-written with a clear and concise tone and with beautiful phrasing and colours.

The book is published by the Book Guild at £7.99 and is heartily recommended to all lovers of the genre of short stories.

You can purchase it here at the Thats Books bookshop

The Weathermen, their story

The Weathermen, their story, is an absolutely riveting read by Gordon Tripp OBE, MA.

It relates how the arts ands science of weather watching and forecasting dates back at least two Millennia, with written records of weather dating back to the third century BCE,there is also evidence, reports Tripp, that the Babylonians were making efforts to both understand and predict the weather.

Cloud patterns were viewed as being of significance and weather lore began to develop when observers began to match what they could see to the weather that always seemed to follow them.

The Chinese, as one might expect, were also deeply involved with the study of the weather and putting into practice what they had learned.

The scientists of the Arab world were also keen to learn about the weather with people such as Ibn Wahshiyaa who began to predict weather based upon their observations of wind directions in about 900 CE, or 900AD as it is also known.

The book covers a variety of weather-related instruments that were developed by scientists such as Galileo and Torricelli.

We learn of Daniel Fahrenheit, of Celsius, and of the amazing work of John Dalton who kept a stunning amount of weather observations, 200,000 of them, over a period of 57 years.

In order to do this he had to design and make his own instruments to record temperature, air pressure, humidity and wind speed.

In America Benjamin Franklin was also keen on weather watching and recording.

We read of the pioneering, but often ignored due to commercial interests, of Admiral Fitzroy and of the importance of weather forecasting in maritime safety, and how wicked vested interests destroyed Admiral Fitzroy and his efforts to use weather forecasting to improve maritime safety.

The efforts of meteorologists to improve weather forecasting during World War 2 are covered as are later developments, including weather satellites and so forth.

It is a truly remarkable book and will make an excellent present for everyone who is interested in the weather.

It costs £7.99 and can be bought at the That's Book bookshop, here

Colour Sergeant Chesney V.C.

Colour Sergeant Chesney V.C. is a novel by Steven Baker.

With many accounts of the First World War, both fictional and factual, being published to mark the 100th anniversary of that terrible conflict, author Steven Baker has taken us back to an earlier and perhaps simpler time.

Like many of his contemporaries in Victorian Britain, Harry Chesney had a hard and tough childhood.

His mother died from tuberculosis and his father underwent what could be described as the living death of the alcoholic, unable to cope with the loss of his wife, he took his escape via the well known route of the bottle. Eventually he was overcome by the physical death that such an escape all too often brings.

As a result, Harry ends of in the place of last resort for many of the lower orders, the workhouse.

But Harry is made of tougher stuff than most and he decides to leave the workhouse in search of a better life through joining the British Army.

He rises through the ranks form a common private to the illustrious position of being the Regimental Colour Sergeant and the holder of the Victoria Cross.

His army career takers a sudden and catastrophic hit when, after there is an uprising on the North-West Frontier, Harry is the sole survivor from his platoon.

After a time he makes his way back to England and obtains in the position of being the guardian of Ravi, the illegitimate son of Captain Shervington, a now deceased hero of the regiment.

But then the Boer War comes and Ravi decides that he, too, must join up and fight for Queen and Country.

The novel is redolent of the Boy's own Story books, yet is sympathetically written and draws characters that are full and very believable.

It is published by The Book Guild at £8.99 and can be bought at the That's Books bookshop at

The Dream Factory

The Dream Factory is a rare debut novel in that it is obvious that, from the very introduction of the book, that the author has already got an established and very powerful voice.

It's a comedy thriller of a book and it is aimed at young people, though adults will also find much to recommend this book to them.

Written educationalist John Simes, The Dream Factory tells the captivating, yet enchantingly bizarre, story of three youngsters, Hendrix, Page and Clapton.

There was Peter, dubbed Pi, by a less than kindly teacher, Peter who could lose himself in The Dream Factory at will.

There story is multi-layered. There are betrayals that are grievous yet so utterly thoughtless that it actually makes them far worse than they might otherwise have been.

The story is set within the small and apparently peaceful English village of Dingwall.

But the village is only apparently peaceful.For there are violent kidnappings, escapes, love, between Peter and Navinda,  a spinster who is either an ordinary spinster or a gun-carrying spy, a Frenchman who could well be a criminal mastermind, the vicar who has a somewhat shady and secretive
history, a police force that fails to see the urgency of a call reporting a shooting incident: "I know a bullet when I hear one, Sergeant!" and there were dogs, and cats (but especially cats) and Om and the calming presence of Savaric, the ghost.

This is a curious book, the author has imbued each page with a dreamlike quality that helps to move the narrative onward.

It's published by Matador at £7.99.

John Simes is a name to watch out for in the future. It's to be hoped that this is the first of many novels.

You can buy the book at the that's Books Bookshop, here:-

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Dorris Morris and the invasion of the neighbours

Doris Morris and the invasion of the neighbours is a truly wonderful book for children (and the adults in their life, too!) from author Janet Kelly.

It playfully and enchantingly tells the story of Doris who is an elderly cat who lives with the Morris family.

The Morris family includes Amy and Ted, aged just over four and eight, respectively.

Sadly for Doris whenever her family goes out her peaceful existence is shattered by the visits of Gangsta Cat and Lizzie.

These two scurrilous villains bully poor Doris and make her life a misery by stealing her food, bullying her and making a terrible mess.

Unfortunately poor doris gets the blame for their wicked ways.

However, Amy and Ted are not as gullible as their parents and they soon cotton on to what is happening, they realise who is really causing the problems so they decide to set a trap for the two miscreant moggies!

Their determination saves the day as their mother realises that it was not Doris who was being a naughty cat, after all!

This is a large format hardback book and it is sumptuously illustrated and is ideal for children from 4 to 6, though older children and adults will find something to love in this lively and thought-provoking book.

It will be published on 28 May and should be available for preorder at the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, here

It will cost £12.99.

Gay in the 80s

Gay in the 80s is a debut non-fiction book for author Colin Clews.

It is an historical and non-fiction account of what it was like to be gay in the 1980s in the UK, Australia and the USA.

It covers contentious issues such as Section 28 in the UK, the resurgence and growth of the New Right in the USA and the fact, astonishing though it might appear from the year 2012, that throughout a number of the States in the Commonwealth of Australia, Homosexuality was still illegal.

The 1980s was truly a dramatic decade for members of the gay community and what has now become known as the LGBT community.

There was the fight for the recognition of the rights of gay people and also the looming problem of AIDS which was, unfairly, stigmatised as a "gay plague."

As well as touching on these and similar issues, the book looks at the politicisation of the LGBT community and their involvement in a number of quite disparate issues such as the miner's strike, issues of policing, freedom of speech and so on.

The book will be a worthy addition to the bookshelves of people who are interested in gay history, the history of a decade that was a contentious and troubled time for a variety of reasons.

It is published by Matador at a very reasonable £14.99 and it will be available from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop which you can find here

Colin Clews is to be congratulated on a book that is both academically sound but also eminently readable.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Poppy's Seed

Poppy's Seed is a new novel from author Bethany Askew.

It explores a marriage between Peter and Emily Stanchester and is set in the English coastal town of Lyme Regis.

They are both finding the idea of grasping the fact that they were now into their retirement year a little challenging.

Peter went from being an important person who had work-related order and routine in his life to a person who was, unfortunately, no longer important and who no longer had work-related order and routine in his life.

And as for Emily? She misses the friendship of her former work colleagues and she misses her freedom,  too.

Onto the scene steps Poppy James. Poppy is an artist who is quite typical of a certain type of artist, she eschews convention, has a slightly spotty reputation and lives her life to its bohemian full.

She is unlike anyone that either Peter or Emily have ever met before.

They are both fascinated by this otherworldly creature and Peter is, not unnaturally, flattered when Poppy seeks him  out to ask him for advice.

But for what purpose has Poppy come into their lives?

Is there more, or perhaps, less to Poppy than appears at first sight?

And what, exactly, is Poppy after? What does she really want from the retired couple?

Apparently this novel was based on a dream that the author had and it does have a certain dreamlike vibe throughout it, it has to be said.

It's an interesting read which explores what happens when life intervenes.

It is published by Matador at £7.99 and it is available for purchase at the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop which you can find at this link here

Sherlock Holmes To a Country House Darkly and other new adventures

Sherlock Holmes To a Country House Darkly and other new adventures is a newly published addition to the canon of Sherlock Holmes stories.

It is written by N. M. Scott and published by The Book Guild Publishing.

Within seconds of starting to read the first story I was utterly captivated as I was taken back to the Victorian era of swirling fogs, when Homes and Watson used their knowledge of science, medicine and the detective arts to right wrongs and bring justice where before there was none.

The stories are tightly plotted and the writing is of such a high standard that it might have been written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, himself.

There are stories of murder and revenge and ages-old retribution, of  devious land owners, violent robbery, of terrible secrets that became public knowledge under some rather unusual circumstances.

I am not going to reveal the plots of any of the twelve most excellent adventures, but what I will say is that if you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr Watson or of Victorian era detective fiction in general, you must buy this hardbound book at the snip of £9.99.

You can buy it from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop at this link

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have another story in this book to finish reading!