Wednesday, 16 December 2015

That's Christmas: It's not too late to order your Christmas gifts

That's Christmas: It's not too late to order your Christmas gifts: It is not to late to order your Christmas gifts. We all know how it is. A gift suddenly becomes out of stock, you realise you forget to ...

That's Christmas: New Christmas Song from Red Sky July

That's Christmas: New Christmas Song from Red Sky July: Red Sky July are an award-wining female trio consisting of husband and wife Ally McErlaine (guitarist from Texas) and Shelly Poole ()Alish...

Sunday, 13 December 2015

That's Christmas: Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses

That's Christmas: Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses: I believe this is one of the best Christmas songs ever!

A War Symphony

A War Symphony is a new book by Keith Rumsey.

In it, Keith Rumsey, who is an academic expert in the German language, take a collection of writings in the original German and translates them into English.

The writings are taken from the periods between the World Wars and beyond into the mid-1950s.

they offer the reader a compelling and different view on the impact of both wars on the ordinary people of Germany, but, obviously, from a Germanic perspective.

The writings were all created by influential German writers.

You will igially written by a wide range of German voices, such as Hermann Hesse, Bertolt Brecht, Hans Bender, Elisabeth Langgasser and Ernst Glaser.

They all make reference to war on one way or another, yet they are not specifically war stories, as such.

They touch on a wide range of subject matter, such as the impact of war on both military personnel and on the civilian population.

Some are stridently anti-war, others are less so, but still manage to convey the futility of war and those who are more strident in their attitudes place the entire blame for the two World Wars on nationalism.

There are elements of humour and filled with sympathy for the victims of war.

The book is published by Matador and costs £7.99 in paperback.

It is available through the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which is to be found to the right hand side of this review.


Terragaineous is a new novel for children by Irish born author and storyteller A. O. Comerford.

As a child growing up on a farm in rural Ireland, he recalls a scrawny aged ash tree that grew on the side of a hill on the family farm.

Its roots were exposed as it clung, somehow, to the hillside.

He imagined that there were tunnels beneath the tree and its roots and that there was a busy civilisation of wee folk who lived out their lives there.

Which brings us to his novel Terragaineous...

Callum is 15 years old, an ordinary young boy, living an ordinary life, until fate decides that it has other plans for him, when Callum's mother unexpectedly dies.

Riven with grief and rage at this cruel turn of events,  Callum's life, his whole world, falls to pieces.

Several weeks later Callum becomes convinced  that he has finally succumbed to insanity caused by his grief when he is rescued by a homeless man. Yet this homeless man is no ordinary man. He is an extraordinarily small man. In fact, he is a tiny man.

The tiny man reveals to Callum that he is a member of an ancient subterranean civilisation made up of tiny folk just like himself.

He regales Callum with stories of how they reside, happily in a magical world where all live in harmony with nature. Far away from the turmoil of the life led by humanity.

Realising that he has not lost his mind, Callum latches on to this opportunity to live beyond his own hurt and he convinces his friends to help him assist the tiny man to find his way home.

But exactly where will their open, childish curiosity and kind-heartedness take them?

What will happen to their tiny friend? What will happen to them?

This is a book that will captivate children -and adults- as it draws them into the world of Terragaineous.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 and will make an excellent present for children of all ages. It is not available for Christmas (the official publication date isn't until 28 December) but you can pre-order it at the Amazon-powered That's Books and Entertainment book shop, which will be found at the right hand side of this review.

Pirates and Promises

Pirates and Promises is a new adventure book written especially for children by Peter Gredan Davies.

Whilst he was enjoying a holiday in the beautiful coastal village of Mousehole, Peter (who hales from Portwrinkle) discovered that in 1595 there was a Spanish attack on both Mousehole and also on the town of Penzance when the Spanish invaders set both of those Cornish towns ablaze.

Intrigued, Peter undertook further research and discovered that the coast of Cornwall was subject to frequent and numerous attacks by the Barbary pirates of North Africa.

He combined his research with his lifelong passion for the sea (he is a former Royal Navy officer and a seaman) to provide the basis for his novel, Pirates and Promises, which is written for children aged from 9 to 12.

Becca and Jack Tremayne are twins living in Cornwall. They find a mysterious man, Azfer Hakeem, shipwrecked on a neighbouring beach and they save his life.

But there is much more to Azfer Hakeem than appears at first sight. For it transpires that he is of the royalty of the country called Lebanon.

He is in command of a fleet of armed merchantmen, ships that trade between Europe and the Mediterranean.

However, under the circumstances of them saving him from certain death, Azfer Hakeem feels honour bound to assist the twins in their desire to locate and rescue their parents, Kerenza and Brethoc, who had fallen prey to Barbary pirate two years before.

During his recuperation he and the children build up a genuine rapport and, whilst showing them is magic tricks and regaling them with tales of his distant travels, he begins to formulate a plan of how he could use his royal and diplomatic connections to discover the fate of the parents and to rescue them, if possible.

He uses his network of spies to find that Kerenza is being help captive in the court of the Governor of Algiers, and there are rumours that Brethoc is enslaved to the team of rowers on a galley.

Eventually, Azfer Hakeem is well enough to command his brave and resourceful crew of all nations to take the twins on an adventurous and perilous mission to attempt to locate and rescue their parents.

Will they survive? Will they find their parents? Can they rescue them?

Buy this book as a Christmas present and you and your children can learn for themselves!

The book is published by Matador at a very reasonable £6.99. It's also available from the That's Books and Entertainment Amazon-powered bookshop (you'll find it to the right hand side of this book review) but if you want it before Christmas, we would suggest you go for one of the faster delivery options.)

The Little Read Book

The Little Read Book is a new book from Mike Arblaster that takes a playful and energetic look at facts and words.

Mike takes us through an enterprising and entertaining romp through the world of words and also through the word of worlds.

He takes what we know and shines a strong light on it and helps us to see that perhaps what we thought we thought we knew is not actually always the case.

He casts his sardonic and humorous gaze upon matters medical, fashion, science, food and drink, medicine, business, the military, music, people, nature, the law, entertainment and the media, geography, literature and much more, besides.

The tone of the section on medical matters "Delirious Diagnoses" is set by the deliciously apposite aphorism: "Most men have a body shaped like a Homeric hero -too bad that it's from the Simpsons and not the Iliad."

Mike doesn't just take a sideways look at a subject. He takes the subject, breaks it down into its component parts and then says, gleefully: "See? See what this thing is really all about?"

And you look at it and you say: "Yes! Yes! I see it all, now! Why are consultants so expensive? And why is there no rhyming slang for rhyming slang? What was AA Milne thinking when he called the bear Winnie? And why was he a pooh bear? Why is English a universal language? And why is dyslexia spelt like it is?"

And is it true that the love of evil is the root of all money?

This book has the ability to turn a common, well known fact on its head and make you actually think about what you think you already know.

At £9.99 this book, published by Matador in paperback, it is the ideal Christmas gift for anyone who loves words and language.

It is, of course, available through the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop (you will find this to the right hand side of this book review) but we suggest that you use the faster delivery options if you want to make sure that it arrives before Christmas.

A Cold War Spy Hunt by a Crummy Army Newspaper

Thank goodness! A new and utterly wonderful book from novelist Tim Topps!

A Cold War Spy Hunt by a Crummy Army Newspaper tells the story of how Tim Topps, a recently commissioned officer (but one who does not feel in the slightest bit military-minded) is assigned to a laid-back army base in Shropshire, two years after the end of World War 2. Most of the people assigned to the base are "coming down" from the five years of the previous war.

But now a very different type of war was beginning to become noticeable, even at Tim's base. For this was the era when the Cold War began to become evident.

However, all Tim knew was that he was to perform the duties of an officer at the huge base, including being in charge of the stores, but what he might not have expected was that he would also have another duty dumped on him, that of serving as the editor of a "crummy army newspaper" that is "published" at the base every week.

Tim's remit as editor is to not only lick the weekly paper into some sort of shape, but to expand the paper, too.

However, all is not as it seems. For the true role that Tim is to serve  as the editor of the publication is to turn it into a tool (to "weaponise" it, to use a modern term) in order to trap a Communist sleeper agent who, MI5 is convinced) has managed to plant himself within the civilian staff of the base. 

In the meantime Tim manages -contrary to the rules- to fall deeply and madly in love with a very pretty and charming young ATS -who is also very good at her job- which merely adds to the general Mayhem of the situation as it develops and trundles along on its troublesome way.

Tim and his ATS assistant take their time but manage to narrow down the suspects not to a civilian worker but to an officer.

But is all it seems?

Is there a sleeper? If so, who is it? And who is working under him?

What is the connection with Southern France?

This book is an exciting romp, with some touching romance too, it must be mentioned, through the early days of the Cold War and is another must read book from Tim Topps.

This novel is available via the That's Books and Entertainment Amazon-powered bookshop to be found to the right hand side of this review. It will make an excellent Christmas gift. But may I suggest you order express delivery if you need it to fill a space in a Christmas stocking?

It is published by Matador in paperback at a very reasonable £8.99. 

(Incidentally your reviewer has a message for Tim Topps. When my father spent several years working as a civilian at COD Donnington in the early to mid-1960s, it was still just as laid-back as ever. And still is to this day, if stories are to be believed.)

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Devil Returns Twice as Deadly

The Devil Returns Twice as Deadly is a historic novel by Fred Smith.

It tells the tale of Robert Williams who is a County Bailiff.

He sees what he believes to be a chance to earn some extra, easy money.

But he could have had no understanding of the breathtaking and dangerous series of events that this engenders.

There's a ferryman who seems to have a problem, but what problem, exactly? Who, or rather, what was he? Man or something else?

Also there is a violent. troubled and bothersome landowner, a magistrate who is nursing a grievance that is ages old and what of Mary, the love of Robert's life? Has he inadvertently brought danger of an untimely end to her and even her entire family?

Can he save Mary and her family? Can he save himself?

This book is an ideal Christmas gift for anyone who likes a rip roaring adventurous novel, set in the olden days.

It is published in hardback by the Book Guild at £12.99.

It is, of course, available via the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop which is to be found to the right hand side of this review.

The Arabian Alchemist

The Arabian Alchemist is a fascinating new book by Edda Livingston.

It offers an intriguing look into the life of the body of people known as the Illuminati.

In it we read the account of a student search and discovery of a "Hidden Master".

We read how the narator, Gullvei, meets Michel Nizan, through mutual friends.

She, Gullvei, when she meets the magician and alchemist, is completely enthralled by him.

Their rapport is immediate and strong.

The reader is taken on a journey of discovery as Gullvei learns all that she can from her teacher.

The book is esoteric and one for followers of this path of knowledge.

It is published by The Book Guild and costs £9.99.


Wrack is a novel by James Bradley.

It tells the story of David Norfolk who is an archaeologist who has the task of searching for the wreck of a Portuguese ship that is thought to have sunk 400 years ago off the coast of New South Wales, Australia.

If he were to find this ship it would lead to the complete rewriting of the history of the discovery of Australia.

But what happens is that instead of the prize he seeks, Norfolk discovers the remains of a man who had been murdered half a century earlier.

There is an elderly hermit who is living in a nearby shack. The man is dying and he seems to know something about the identity of the dead man. And tantalisingly points to a possible link between the corpse and the shipwreck that Norfolk is searching for.

The elderly man beings to reveal secrets from his own life, a life that was blighted by rivalry, passion abd betrayal.

But does he really know anything about the sunken ship and the story of the murder that took place all those years ago?

Will he reveal what he knows to Norfolk before it is too late?

This is a compelling and exciting story that is written by a master storyteller who is an excellent and highly skilled researcher.

The book will make an idea Christmas present for those who like adventure stories and is available through the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which is to be found to the righthand side of this review.

It is published in paperback by Faber and Faber at £7.99.

Unicorn Power A Princess who can't dance

It's the middle of the night. Eliza is sleeping. Yet her twin sister Darcy wakes her up. Why? Because a princess called Jemima is in trouble and needs their help!

All at once Eliza is awake and the twins are putting on their pretty pink wellington boots, saddle up their flying unicorn and dash off to the rescue!

The princess is in the expert help of Darcy and Eliza. She has been invited to attend a special ball, yet she doesn't know how to dance the waltz! Every time she has tried, she has fallen over.

Thankfully, the girls love to give dancing lessons at midnight and with the magical assistance of their unicorn called Blossom, they think they should be able to turn their princess friend into a spectacular, sparkling dancer.

And, after a few false starts, they soon have her dancing like a champion dancer.

This book, written by Andrea Miller, is not only charmingly written, it is also charmingly illustrated throughout.

It is an ideal Christmas present for little girls who like pink wellingtons, dancing, unicorns and helping princesses out.

It is published in hardback at £8.99 by The Book Guild and is available via the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop ,which you will find to the righthand side of this book review.

My Hair Curls

My Hair Curls is a wonderful and charming book by Sheryl Richards and vibrantly illustrated by Noushka Galley.

It tells the story of Angeline who is an ordinary, but remarkably special, little girl of a third generation family of African-Caribbean heritage. She lives with her mum and dad and her little brother, George.

Angeline tells her own story in a charming way, using very simple, yet very powerful words to describe the differences and the similarities- of not only her hair, but the hair of her friends.

There are also 18 beautiful butterflies for you and your child to discover which are hidden -in full view!- throughout the book.

There are also interactive elements within the book which mean that the book will become highly personalised to the very lucky owner of this book.

This isn't one of those well-meaning yet potentially very annoying books that promote diversity in a tedious and dull way. This is a book that celebrates diversity in a bright, breezy and effective fashion.

Sheryl is not only a very talented writer, she is also a mother and her understanding of what children want and like is reflected in this "must buy" book which will make an ideal Christmas gift for any child (probably best for girls, though) no matter what their cultural identity.

It's ideal for reading together (remember to look out for the butterflies!) and costs £6.99 in paperback from Matador.

You can buy it through the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which you will find to the righthand side of this review.

Just a Little Scratch

Just a Little Scratch, subtitled "Anesthesia a straightforward guide to what it is"  is a new book by Dr David Raitt.

The thought of a forthcoming operation can be unsettling, but now these concerns and fears can be allayed by this new and highly informative book by near-40 year veteran anaesthetist Dr Raitt.

Before the advent of anesthesia surgery was brutal and carried out as quickly as possible before the patient died of shock, due to the excruciating pain of having a broken bone set, an operation performed or a diseased limb cut off.

This was all changed, however, with the discovery and development of various types of anaesthesia.

Dr Raitt's guide to anaesthesia givers the reader a brief overview of the history and the development of the branch of medical science known as anaesthesia and modern, cutting edge techniques.

It takes the reader through how it works, what the anesthetist does during the operation, what the best anaesthetics are and much more, besides.

Dr Raitt had taken a look at the available books on anaesthesia and had realised that the available books on the subject were either all so filled with advanced medical jargon and terminology, or conversely, were so basic that thy were of very limited use.

Dr Raitt wanted to write a book that was suitable for everyone, but would be of special interest to patients and their families, before an operation was performed.

Dr Rait -who trained as an anesthetist whilst he was serving in the RAF- and who then spent near 30 years as a consultant anaesthetist in the city of Leicester, was fully aware of how daunting an operation could be, so wanted to provide a book that was as comforting as it was informative.

It is written in a very approachable style. Apparently this is the first informative guide that Dr Raitt has written. As this is the case it is to be hoped that this will be the first of many such books that he will write.

Before I picked up this book, I would have doubted that a book on anesthesia would have been enthralling, but this slim, but highly informative book, is enthralling and utterly engrossing.

Although Dr Raitt has intended this book to be for the layman it is my opinion that this book will make an ideal Christmas present for anyone who is either already a medical student, or is in pre-med classes at college or university.

It will also be of valuable assistance to nurses and healthcare assistants, hospital chaplains and other people who work with patients who are about to undergo an operation.

Hospitals really should consider buying this book by the case for staff and patients to read. It really is that good.

It's published by Matador at an incredibly modest £8.99 it is an ideal Christmas stocking filler for everyone from the first year medical student to someone about to undergo a surgical procedure.

You can buy it from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, you'll find it to the right hand side of this book review.