Sunday, 28 February 2016

Becoming a Tree Poems 2007 - 2015

Becoming a Tree 2007 - 2015 is an anthology of the poetic writings of James Graham.

It is an interesting and eminently readable collection of poems from a poet who is clearly a deep and very perceptive person.

There are poems that are terrifying, others that are uplifting, some that are amusing, whilst there are some that are wacky and just a little bit off the wall.

Pathos, hope, glory, love, joy, fear, horror, humorous: To quote a saying of several years ago it can be truly said of the collected works of James Graham that: "All Human Life is Here."

Becoming a Tree, for example, takes as the genesis of the poem a quotation from Walt Whitman: "There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became."

To become a squirrel and to become a tree... what a glorious thing that would be.

The poems are well though through and perfectly executed and perfectly realised.

I can heartily recommend this collection of poems.

It is published by Matador at a very reasonable £8.99 and is available from the That's Books and Entertainment online bookshop, along with Clairvoyance: Selected Poems 1990-2007 by James Graham, and hundreds of other books and DVDs of poetry.

His Life Was Revenge

His Life Was Revenge is a new crime thriller of a novel by a retired police detective Jonathan S. Harvey.

It tells the story of Adam, a former special forces soldier.

He learns of a brutal Brighton crime family who, it seems, can get away with everything, including torture and murder of innocent members of the public. without any fear of retribution or justice.

Adam decides if the law cannot, or will not, do anything about this sick crime family, then he will.

He joins forces with a former comrade and he researches the murky and deep underworld of the criminal fraternity of Brighton.

And decides to eradicate them one, by one, with each member of the gang to be dispatched in diabolical fashions.

However, it becomes obvious that a corrupt member of the detective force is attempting to help the gang discover who is targeting its members and to apprehend him.

But is everything exactly as it seems? And can revenge ever be fully justified, even if the target is an evil, wicked criminal gang?

The book is published by The Book Guild at £10.99 and is an exciting, gripping thrilling crime novel.

It is available via The That's Book and Entertainment online bookshop, which you will find on the right hand side of this book review, along with hundreds of other crime novels, DVDs, etc.

Transform Your Communication Skills Speak, Write, Present with confidence

Transform Your Communication Skills Speak, Write, Present with confidence is a book created by a master of the craft Steve Bridger.

The book aims to assist you to get where you need to be, where you should be, by stimulating positive personal change.

It distils the wisdom of 11 professional coaching experts and its aim is to develop your speaking, writing and presentational skills.

It promises positive outcomes in not only your professional life but also in your personal life.

It is a practical self-help book which imparts the vital knowledge and information in a fashion that is more conversational than most, eschewing the usual hard to understand managerial flannel that can, rather ironically, bedevil many books on improving communication skills.

You can learn to cope better with nerves before speaking engagements, learn how to craft presentations that will engage your audiences time-after-time. And how to develop writing skills that will enable you to produce clear, concise and effective communications whenever you need them.

The key selling point of this book is that it is not just one voice that you will hear, with only one viewpoint, you will hear from a total combination of 11 specialists who will be sharing with you their expertise, knowledge and experience in the 220 pages.

You'll learn about a wide range and variety of subjects, including NLP, how to make the best and most effective use of social media, and online presentation techniques and presentational skills from an outfit that employs professional actors to "work magic" on nervous or inexperienced participants.

The different voices combine to create a range of diverse yet dynamic knowledge resource.

It costs a very reasonable £9.95 from Matador and is an utterly indispensable book that should be in the resource library of any businessman, businesswoman and entrepreneur.

It is available from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, along with hundreds of other business books and DVDs. The bookshop will be found to the right hand side of this book review.

Ripples in a Pond

Ripples in a Pond is the début novel by Educational Psychologist and teacher Sheila Shaw.

It tells the story of retired deputy head teacher Sarah Chilton.

She is very proud of her son, Jamie. He is far ahead of his fellow pupils in a number of subjects such as reading and writing and general knowledge.

She is confident that Jamie will sail through school without a care in the world.

But, somehow, during Year Two, it all began to rapidly and catastrophically wrong.

It becomes clear that, although he is of above average intelligence, his social skills are lacking,

He begins to fall behind his peers and begins to show problems with following instructions and he finds it hard to relate to his classmates.

Unfortunately they encourage his erratic and strange behaviour and his teachers merely dismiss  him as being difficult, rude and disruptive.

But Sarah cannot believe this of her son who had, at least initially, shown such promise.

She endeavours to discover what has happened to Jamie and what is causing his erratic behaviour.

Sheila explains: "Children with social communication disorders (or semantic/pragmatic) are very often misunderstood. They all too often end up with an inadequate education, find they have problems and difficulties in their communications and interactions with other people.

"As a result in later life they can find it harder to sustain employment. I believe that raising awareness of this issue within the community is of vital importance. I think that this novel should be on the bookshelf of every teacher and ever doctor."

This book is published on March 28 and is published by Matador at £9.99.

It can be pre-ordered at the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop which you will find to the right hand side of this book review. That's Books and Entertainment concurs with Sheila Shaw, this book does belong on the bookshelves of all teachers and doctors.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Sandra and the Flying Elephants of Belfast

Sandra and the Flying Elephants of Belfast is a wonderful biographical book by Darrin Wedlock.

The book tells the story of Darrin's mother, Sandra, and how she coped with the Belfast Blitz.

When her father left the family home in Northern Ireland to fight against the Nazi German army he gives his daughter an order. He charges her with the important job of looking after her mother and her little brother, Billy.

She sets to the task with great gusto, but she has to do this against a backdrop of the Nazi blitz that severely damaged Belfast, being strafed by the Germans, nearly drowning, but fortuitously saved by a Gypsy, getting burns and also suffering the ignominy of having her hair turn green!

The book that Darrin has written is filled with moments of high drama (such as being strafed by a Luftwaffe pilot) but also the ordinary and the mundane events and the funny and amusing happenings that run together to make up a person's life.

In this case the life of his mother Sandra. The family, including grandparents, were close and they looked out for each other, especially during times of danger, such as the blitz aimed at destroying the docks and the Harland and Wolff yards.

Only this time the house of Sandra's family was subject to a direct hit, luckily when the family were out of the house. But even so, they lost everything, not even one piece of crockery survived.

The book has some lovely photographs that certainly made much to the stories contained in it.

The family moved to a cottage in Bangor which was owned by an aunt where Sandra made friends with a sickly rat.

Did her dad return safely? And as for what a flying elephant might be and why there is a picture of Sandra on board a ship, you will have to stump up your £8.99 to find out.

The book is published by Matador and is available through the that's Books Bookshop, just look for it on the right hand side of this review.

Gnomes an adult 'airy tale

What happens when worlds collide?

When the world of the modern, physical realm and the world of the realm of magic collide?

Well, you'd expect all sorts of mayhem to start happening. And you would be right.

For that is the starting point of the book Gnomes an adult 'airy tale, from author Paul J. Elliot.

James and Alison Allison had a perfectly normal and perfectly happy life together.

Well, that was the case until, well, until the Gnomes turned up.

The Gnomes. Happy go-lucky  little chaps (well, with one notable exception, of course!) who live with a Princess and work down the mine, right?

Wrong. Very wrong. For these Gnomes are not friendly or happy go-lucky little chaps.

These Gnomes take over the home of James and Alison and spread misery and destruction as if they were frightened they might be going on ration any time soon.

There is Cedric, who is a philosophical and compassionate sort of chap, Joshua (who is grumpy by nature, if not by name), there is Archbald who is inventive and quite clever.

Then there is Florence (who flirts. Perhaps a bit too much?) and Ernest who is moody and a bit touched and his wife who is very bored and perhaps also board as she is as thick as one.

But why are the Gnomes really there? What, as every good method actor wants to know, is their motive?

Are they there to just have a good time by stirring things up and generally causing a whole lot of chaos and consuming vast quantities of alcohol?

But what if there is a different, rather more sinister motive for their presence, for their behaviour?

And exactly how much devastation could they bring about?

(EDITOR: Please note this is, as the title states, a tale for adults)

It is available via the That's Books and Entertainment book shop, you'll find it to the right of this review.)

"The Dwelling" The poems of Eleanor Zuercher

"The Dwelling" The poems of Eleanor Zuercher is a collection of highly evocative poems that are aimed at assisting those people who are on a spiritual quest or a spiritual journey. No matter what their faith.

The author takes as the source of inspiration poetry in the classical Anglican tradition, plus it combines other influences such as ecclesiastical architecture, texts from the Bible and also the English countryside.

The result is something that is both wonderful and highly inspirational.

It examines the human soul, the existence and the assistance of God. Which might, sometimes, not be what one is expecting but is, however, what one truly needs and what one will benefit from, more.

It brings concepts to mind that might not have previously come to our attention. For example, we look at how prayer can serve as the punctuation of our day, (page 48) or read such thoughtful and quite brilliant poems as Sound II in Winchester Cathedral (page 9) or the somewhat ethereally charged An Affectionate Appreciation of the Churches of the West Buckingham Benefice (page 11) which is both edifying and uplifting.

On the face of it, this poem is An Affectionate Appreciation of the Churches of the West Buckingham Benefice, but when one reads it and studies it, one will appreciate the subtle undertexts that playfully illuminate this poem from within.

Indeed, all of these poems are playfully illuminated from within.

Published by Matador at £7.99 this book of poems would be a boon and a benefit to any bookcase, be it a person who is a believer or otherwise.

It is the opinion of this reviewer that every church and chapel in the land should buy at least four copies of this wonderful book of poems. Perhaps more, as they will make a fine resource for people who are seeking spiritual enlightenment or spiritual comfort.

It is, of course, available through our bookshop, just to the right of this review.

The Dreams of the Black Butterfly

The Dreams of the Black Butterfly is a fantasy novel by Mark James Barrett.

It tells the story of Moises Quispe who has heard rumours and reports that there could well exist a Black Butterfly that resides in the jingles of Peru.

With its wings of velvety black, with a span of two feet across, it lives in the jungle that is under threat of destruction of the chainsaws of the loggers.

Why does Moises want to track down this elusive Black Butterfly?

Is it the reward of a million Nuevo Sol that is offered by the mysterious Mr Dollie?

Or are there other calls upon Moises, that compel him to seek out the Butterfly that might, or might not exist in the dark nights of the jungles of Peru?

But what is the purpose of the Black Butterfly? What terrifying messages does it carry for humanity?

This book is available from Matador at the price of £8.99 and can be bought through the That's Books bookshop, which is to be found on the right side of this review.

Mutable Passions

Mutable Passions is a new novel by a novelist about another novelist. One of the greatest English novelists of the last 200 years, Charlotte Bronte.

April 21st is the bicentenary of the birth of Charlotte Bronte.

But author Philip Dent poses some interesting questions about Charlotte Bronte.

What, exactly, do we know about Charlotte Bronte?

What, for example, do we know of the experiences of Charlotte Bronte in regards to love in her own life?

During her life Charlotte Bronte knew of the pains and problems of poor health, insomnia and of an extreme form of loneliness.

At the time of this novel, her siblings were all dead and Charlotte had the distinction or honour (dubious though this might be)  of being her father's sole companion at the parsonage.

But all was to change for Charlotte! For this novel is based on the true life facts of the situation that saw Charlotte Bronte wooed, courted and married by her suitor Arthur Nicholls.

The novel is a compelling, evocative and sensitive examination of what happened to Charlotte Bronte when the fictional knowledge of love that she had written about became, for her, an exciting, vibrant reality.

The author takes the known facts of the situation and brings to life an imaginary, but utterly realistic, real life story of what happened when Charlotte Bronte threw off the mantel of Victorian spinster and placed upon her head, instead, that of a Victorian wedding bonnet.

This delightful book is published by Matador at £8.99 and is, of course, available via the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop which you will find to the right of this book review.

It will make an ideal gift for the Bronte fan, Why not buy a copy and put it away until Christmas?

My Aunt Manya

My Aunt Manya is a book for children written by children's author Jose Patterson.

It relates the story of Sarah, a ten-year-old immigrant who is making they journey to America.

The journey for Sarah is a long and hard one.

Sarah lives in Russia toward the end of the 19th century.

Sarah's home life is pitiful. She hates her stepmother with a passion. But unfortunately her father has had to leave Russia in order to seek work in the new promised land, America.

He has left home to live with his sister, Sarah's aunt Manya.

Then, comes a terrible blow to young Sarah. She receives a letter from her aunt Manya. Her father has met with an accident and has died.

In the letter, however, is also the hope of a possible salvation. For aunt Manya has enclosed some money and a boat ticket and the offer of a home in New York.

The life of Sarah and her family is one of constant worry, as they are Russian Jews and their community is under constant threat of random, murderous attacks by Cossack soldiers.

When friends of Sarah receive reports of a force of Cossacks camped near to their village they decide to help Sarah set out, alone, to make her bid for freedom from oppression and to make a new life for herself ion the new world that is America, with her aunt Manya.

Sarah sets out on her long and arduous journey, facing the unknown perils of the great undertaking that she must make, as she reaches out for her aunt Manya and her new life.

This book is published by Matador at £6.99 in paperback and £10.99 in hardback.

It is available for sale at the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, just to the right of this review.

Amelie and the Great Outdoors

Amelie and the Great Outdoors is a heart-warming book for children (and their parents and grandparents, too!) which is written by Fiona Barker and illustrated by Rosie Brooks.

It tells the story of Amelie. Who is a delightful little girl. Who really would just prefer to be left indoors, thank you very much!

Well, what's so great about the great outdoors?

Amelie is content, or actually, happy, to stay indoors. She loves it indoors. She loves to play indoors, she loves to be indoors by herself.

She never goes outside. Why would she want to? In fact, to be truthful, she finds the idea of being outdoors more than a little bit threatening.

Well, outdoors has no toys. No computer games and no TV to watch!

She loves her toys, she loves her computer, she loves her TV.

Her parents have struggled for a long time to get Amelie interested in going outside, until, eventually, they have very nearly given up on the idea.

They have tried everything. The park?  No. The beach? No. Enjoying ice cream in the sunshine? Again, the answer is no!

But suddenly it all changes because Amelie meets with a very special friend who eventually tempts Amelie to do the unexpected and the utterly unthinkable. Her very special friend tempts Amelie to venture into the Great Outdoors!

This book is a real winner. It costs £7.99 and can be obtained via the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which you will find to the right of this book review.

Incidentally, is it possible that this book might just have a basis in reality? If you buy the book you can find out for certain, when you real the book's dedication!  

The Gessami Residence

The Gessami Residence is a "must read" for all of you fans of romantic fiction.

It tells the story of a woman who, although mature, still fully intends to live her life to the full.

Written by Jane L. Gibson it tells the story of Jenny.

Jenny, who is in her early 40s, has had a bad time of it recently, following the unexpected death of the love of her life, her husband Paul, three years previously.

Her sons are all at university and the only thing that keeps her sane are her three best friends, Amanda, Beth and Rose.

After a bit of a confab, they decide that what they really need is a girly holiday, during which they can escape the mundanity of their every day lives and live it up for a while.

Rose hits on a trip to that idyllic and peaceful haven of quietness and exquisite good manners, Ibiza but she keeps the location of their holiday secret until they arrive at the airport. (EDITOR: Oh, dear!)

After the first night of their holiday is spent in heavy drinking, Jenny falls for a handsome stranger called Ethan. Well, actually, that's stretching it a little bit, she falls, drunkenly, on the sand and Nathan finds her and, rather gallantly, helps her back to her hotel room.

Jenny is intrigued by Ethan. He isn't what she would have expected to find in Ibiza, but the more time she spends with Ethan, and with her irrepressible friends, she starts to come out of her shell, so to speak, and to realise exactly what she has been missing in her life.

Do Ethan and Jenny fall in love? Will they be together for ever? How will her sons cope with this new dynamic in Jenny's life?

To find out you'll have to buy The Gessami Residence by Jane L. Gibson.

It is published by Matdor Books at £7.99 and can be purchased at the That's Books and Entertainment online bookshop, which you will find on the right hand side of this book review, along with a host of other romantic novels and DVDs.

Sons of the Sea

Sons of the Sea is a riveting and compelling book which tells the remarkable story of Harry Cecil Gaffney who had the somewhat dubious distinction of serving at sea through not one but two different world wars.

The subtitle of the book is: "Royal Naval Stories and Tales of Foreign Seaports from 1910 to 1966."

It is written by Patrick Gaffney, the son of Harry Cecil Gaffney. According to Mrs Gaffney whilst her husband was at best a "woeful husband" ha had been a "brilliant sailor."

He had known something of his father's life, but, upon realising that there was so much more to the story of his father's life, Patrick decided to really dig deep into his father's life, to undertake years of very thorough research.

He discovered that his father had, indeed, been a consummate seaman, a Master Mariner of the old school, who had, as the saying goes, 'been born with salt water in his veins.'

Gaffney senior had served at sea during both the Great War and the Second World War,

It relates how he trained on the HMS Conway, and was subsequently to serve a three-year apprenticeship on a steel-hulled barque by the name of the Inversnaid in 1911.

The Inversnaid worked in South American waters and Gaffney senior progressed well through the ranks, also learning Spanish.

Upon his return to Britain  he found the country at war, so swiftly joined the Royal Navy, serving on HMS Kinsfaun Castle.

Eventually at the age of 24 he was made the commanding officer of his first ship, Torpedo Boat No 24.

The book is also well illustrated with photographs and it follows Gaffney's senior and junior through their respective naval careers (for Patrick also served in the Royal Navy, but during peacetime) and is a very interesting book, especially for those who have an affinity for the sea and the Royal Navy.

It is published by Matador at £9.99 and is available through the That's Books bookshop, which you will find to the right of this book review, along with many other books and DVDs on naval history and the like.

A Journey Through Time in Africa

A Journey Through Time in Africa is an utterly compelling book written by husband and wife team of Dr Peter Peeters and Claire Van Velsen.

We go back to 1981. Dr Peter Peeters has a sabbatical year. During this year and his wife Claire Van Veelen will travel through the continent of Africa.

It is their intention to explore the country and to try to learn why it is that some countries in African have been able to develop whilst some seemed stuck in the past and were unable to grow and develop.

Eventually, after all their planning it is a snowy evening the the Belgium capital of Brussels and they are ready to start off on the first leg of their amazing journey in a somewhat elderly Land Rover.

The book, which is copiously illustrated with their evocative photographs, follows their journeys through Africa.

They met with a wide variety of vastly different people and peoples, learn to go with the flow and work at a less frantic pace than they were used to.

They had preconceived ideas about Africa and the people who made up its disparate populations. They swiftly learn to re-think all they thought they knew.

It was an interesting and life-changing experience for them, filled with drama, comedy and some pathos as they allow their Land Rover to take them through Africa.

They coped, very well, as it happens with a variety of emergencies: The rainy season, coping with a three inch thorn stuck in a foot as they drove along, unable to stop. The treatment -whilst mobile- was a bucket of Detol with the foot jammed in it as blood flowed all over the floor of the Land Rover, the quaint way of making phone calls back home to Belgium from Zaire, meeting with witchdoctors and much more including seeing and interacting with the bewildering array of wildlife.

This highly interesting travelogue is ideal for armchair travellers or those who know Africa and who want to be reminded of it or who want to learn more.

It is a coffee table sized book and is worth every penny of the  £18.50 price.

It will make an ideal present or a wonderful minor indulgence for yourself.

It is published by the Book Guild and is available via the That's Books and Entertainment online book shop. just check it out on the right-hand side of this review, plus thousands of other travel books, DVDs, etc.

Friday, 19 February 2016

The Mystery of the Magna Carta

The Mystery of the Magna Carta is a novel by Denise Elaine Conquest Steele, who also created the illustrations for this book.

We have just celebrated the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, widely held to be the corner of justice and freedom from tyrannical rule.

But what do we really know about the Magna Carta, besides the fact that it has played a major role in the historical development of not only Britain but other countries round the world?

author and illustrator Denise Elaine Conquest Steele has taken the decision to create a unique fictional adventure based on the known facts that surround the Magna Carta.

Together with educational app developer Paul Skidmore they have produced a unique historical fictional adventure that is aimed at younger readers.

Percy Hope De Courage is a young lady who is bored. She has a term paper to put in, but it is on a subject that holds no interest for her. The dull old Magna Carta.

But due to the intervention of her faithful cat, Jeeves, she begins to realise that whilst the Magna Carta might be old, it is in no way dull!

Percy travels through time and finds herself in England in a quaint village called Wraysbury. Here she meets the village Historian, Dennis.

Together they travel back in time, 800 years, to the year of Our Lord 1215, where they launch an investigation into the true story of Magna Carta.

They sift through the data and are able to sort out the legends and the myths, the rumours and the facts. Somehow her pet kitty, Jeeves, is always on hand when things start to go a bit wrong or a little bit dangerous!

The book is incredibly well-written and Denise is unsparing in her praise for the people who helped her, including Dennis, the archivist/librarian from Wraysbury. Because, yes, Dennis is a real person.

To learn more about the book visit where you will find interactive apps and you can learn more about the Magna Carta line dance!

The book costs £12.99 and is published by Matador. You can purchase it -either singly or in bulk for history lessons on the Magna Carta- through the That's Books bookshop which is to the right of this book review. It is also available as an ebook.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Pick 'n' Mix

Pick 'n' Mix is an anthology of short stories written by Gabriele Ansbach.

Having read Gabriele's book I can only reveal that I seem to have somehow stepped into a room where I think I should be able to recognise everything I see, but when I try to properly look at any of the apparently familiar objects in the room, they suddenly shape shift into something wondrously otherworldly.

For example, did you know that cats will attend the Cat Scan at your local hospital (they have their letters of referral or should that be refural? sorry) on Caturday?

But there is a whole array of other stories, there's angst, there's heartache, there's horror, something that can be heard yet not seen, a visit to the future that might be dystopian rather than welcoming.

There's something for everyone in this book. It will intrigue you, astound you, amuse you, alarm you and make you understand more about the world around you.

And I will recommend that you buy this book for you, for your mum, your dad and your best friend. They'll thank you for it.

It is published by The Book Guild at £8.99 (£3.99 Kindle) and is available via the That's Books online bookshop, which you will find to the right hand side of this book review.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

A Book of Children's Rhymes

A Book of Children's Rhymes by Pixie Dean is exactly what it says on the tin, a book of children's rhymes.

It is a delightful book that is filled with poems that are both whimsical, downright funny, hilarious, magical and perhaps some that are a little bit scary, too?

There are also a good smattering of limericks and some cautionary tales, too!

Read about a pretend Gypsy and the smell that might just give her away, the day it rained sweeties, learn about the Tyrannosaurus that was bred in a shed, the man who got so big he was stuck in his garden gate, Jack and his magical blue stone and many more poems besides!

And you will be able to learn the fate of the Dancing Pig!

The book is vibrantly illustrated by Jackie (of KJA Artists) and the illustrations and the poems by Pixie Dean make this book a must have for the birthday boy or girl or to be put to one side for the canny parent looking for early Christmas presents.

It cost £7.99 and can be bought via the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which you will find to the right of this book review.  You'll also find thousands of other books, DVDs, presents, etc.., there, too.

Roseita and the Beast

Roseita and the Beast is a delightfully quirky thrilling book by someone who has decided to use the nom de plume of Ann Onymouse.

It is Ann's novelistic  début and it tells the story of a very privileged young girl called Roseita Fortesque.

Although she is only five years of age, she has some pretty firm ideas and convictions. And on of those is that dogs are destined to be loved as pets and not as the next meal.

Which is why, when she visits a bazaar she takes the decision to free the dog in the Kiruma bazaar as it was waiting to be sold for the table.

The Kirumese thought the dog had escaped and bitten her in passing. They never suspected the truth.

She loves that dog. Which is unfortunate as the Kirumese people believe that the existence of the dog will bring about the ruination of their nation.

She is also in love with the boy next door. His name is Hamish Martlett. Hamish is a boy with a mystery in his past life.

They combine forces to continue, in secret, to feed the dog.

But the consequences of their kindness might well turn out to be be staggering for all concerned. With far reaching implications down through the years.

The father of Hamish Martlett, Greg Martlett, suborns, by threats and bribery, a Kirumese man in to becoming the implacable nemesis of Roseita, sworn to kill her.

Down through the years of her life, Roseita is tracked and traced, fleeing from country to country, always trying to evade his murderous clutches.

She longs to once again find Hamish. But what is the tragic secret of Hamish? Why does Greg Martlett hate Roseita?

And what significance does the dog have throughout the years?

The book costs £7.99 and is published by Matador and is available through the That's Books and Entertainment online bookshop, which is to be found on the right hand side of this review.

Whatever Next?

Whatever Next is a memoir by Tony Porter.

Tony Porter's name will be best known to those who keenly follow the world of fashion, especially British fashion.

Indeed, Tony Porter was one of a select group of people who were at the forefront of organising British Fashion Week 40 years ago.

Tony Porter has lived a life that is rich and varied.

Ill-health dogged his young life, but he did not allow this to hold him back.

He began his foray into the world of work by selling paint for the British chemical giant, ICI.

ICI sent him to represent the firm in Nigeria. He married his fiancée Beatrice and they produced three children.

The Biafran war  commenced eight years later and ICI decided to bring Tony and his family home.

He decided that he needed a change and, as this was during the era of the swinging '60s, he went ot work in sales for the famous Biba fashion house.

As a result he met the stars of the day like Marianne Faithful, Cilla Black, Mia Farrowand Brigitte Bardot.

Eventually Tony departed from Biba and launched his own PR business specialising in the world of fashion in the heart of the West End of London.

It was then that Tony helped launch the group that would launch British (now London) Fashion Week.

Together he and Beatrice grew their PR company so that it prospered and became one of the top agencies in its field.

They bought a yacht (as you do) and then bought Burg Island, which is off the coast of Devon. (As you would like to do, but probably will not!)

They spent a considerable amount of time restoring the wonderful Art Deco hotel on the island, they took the decision to sell the hotel and island on.

And now Tony is concentrating on his new career as a writer.

Whatever next is a well-written, fascinating and compelling book that allows the reader to take a look back into the British fashion is also illustrated throughout with interesting and evocative photographs.

The book, published by Matador, is available through the That's Books and Entertainment online bookshop at £9.99 and is ideal for anyone who wants to know what it was like back then.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Street Lamps Casting Pools of light on an adventurous life

Street Lamps Casting Pools of light on an adventurous life is a book by Peter Cruttwell.

It isn't an autobiography, insists Mr Cruttwell, although it seems to me to be one of the most erudite and interesting autobiographies that I have read in recent times.

Mr Cruttwell seems to claim to be an ordinary person. Well, whilst that may be true, he has certainly lived through some extraordinary adventures.

He begins his book with an interesting diversion about his family tree and the origins of the name. Her seemed intrigued that, as well as an array of the professional classes, including academics, medical men, the clergy, lawyers, academics and publishers there were also several butchers down through the years.

His book is written in a highly engaging and humorous style. In fact the essential basic humour of Peter Cruttwell is never far away, even when he is describing events that are far from humorous. It is, I think, a good example of the British ability to take things seriously without necessarily treating them seriously.

A little bit like the adverts for the insurance company of several years ago who promised "not to make a drama out of a crisis." But I digress.

In his 452 page book he covers a bewildering array of topics, written in such a way that one seems to be peering over his shoulder as he writes a highly personal memoir.

Surviving the blitz, working as an intelligent agent in the USSR, buying a Boeing 737, becoming a miner in the Amazon, meeting a number of people who were minor or major celebrities, working as a tutor to Liza Minnelli, being accused of murder in Kosovo, the citizenship for becoming an American citizen and a brief and utterly bizarre meeting with Teddy Kennedy on a plane. And another meeting on a plane with a ruptured appendix. His own.

This book is published by Matador at £18.99. (£24.99 in hardback) You can, as ever with books that are reviewed here, buy it via our very own That's Books and Entertainment online bookshop.

I am asking you to please buy a copy of this book as it is the best autobiographical book I have read in, well, in forever!

Glory the Lion Cub and the Dunnos

Glory the Lion Cub and the Dunnos is a new book for children by author Marianne Parry and illustrated by Dave Hill.

The tells children the stories of Glory, who is a lion cub, Magnus who is an elephant and Benedict who is a bear.

Glory is a very inquisitive little lion cub. And he wants to know why he can't have patterned fur like the cheetahs, the zebras and the snakes who he knows?

He asks them there names and he is astonished to find out that they all have the same name! How can this be? Why are they all called "Dunno?"

His friend Magnus the young elephant has decided that he wants to pursue a career in medicine and wants to become Doctor Magnus.

Whenever he meets animals who are inured or sickly he attempts to help them as best he can by copying techniques that had observed other animals using, previously.

However, when he sees a young cow elephant, Magnus swiftly abandons his burgeoning career in medicine. He wants to become a grown up male elephant, instead!

Another of Glory's friends is an American Brown Bear, who is called Benedict. Benedict sees a telephone pole and and hears the humming of the wires. He mistakes this humming noise for the buzzing of bees, so quite naturally climbs up the pole in order to find the bees and eat some honey.

But he hears a voice from the wires. And he communicates with... but ot find out who he speaks to, you will have to read this very fun book.

It is published by Matador and is available for £6.99 from the That's Books and Entertainment online book shop, to be found to the right of this review, along with thousands of other books, DVDs, etc.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Tinker Spy

The Tinker Spy is a new story written by Marianne Parry and with a cover illustration by Andy Unitt.

The story relates how Solo overhears two men who are planning a robbery. But not only are these two rogues planning a robbery, they are also planning on leaving a series of fake clues which would point toward a Gypsy called Silas to be unfairly and unjustly named as the robber.

Solo and his brother Jacko enlist the assistance of their father, Felice, who is, himself, of Gypsy blood, to track Silas down and to warn him to keep well away from the village.

Felice decides that he will don the disguise of a simple Tinker so that he can travel from village to village without raising any suspicions as to his true mission to find Silas and take the opportunity to warn him of the nefarious plans of the evil duo.

In the meantime Solo and Jacko are working together to discover the exact location of the house where it is intended the robbery will take place and, of equal importance, the exact time when  it is intended to take place.

But as they have the assistance of their friend a Police Constable called Pip, to help hem, so they'll be totally safe from the ruthless robbers. Well, they will be safe. Won't they?

To learn if the boys will be able to escape without injury and if Felice ever is able to race Silas, you will have to buy this delightful piece of juvenile crime fiction which is published by Matador at £8.99.

You'll be able to purchase it and thousands of books like it, plus DVDs, toys, etc., through the That's Books and Entertainment online bookshop, which you will find to the right hand side of this book review.

Sheepy and the Riddle of the Occurrence

Sheepy and the Riddle of the Occurrence is a new book for children -and their parents and grandparents!- which has been written by Henrietta Williams.

20 years ago Henrietta's eldest son was doodling. And one of the creatures he doodled was a sheep.

Almost immediately Henrietta's fertile imagination created the entire world that Sheepy inhabited.

Nothing happened with Sheepy for a couple of decades until Sheepy was being turned into some images by professional illustrator Richard Berner.

Henrietta was entranced by the illustrations that Richard was creating but she said: "I wanted to try and make Sheepy so much more than an image on a T-shirt! I never intended to write a book!"

She noticed that, as Richard's illustrations progressed, that a whole mysterious world was being created that featured Sheepy and his friends, so, eventually, the idea of a book was born.

And so we are introduced into the magical and mysterious world of Sheepy and his friends.

Meet Sheepy, Mouse, Sox, Bob and Martha. There's a mystery to be unravelled and riddles to be solved as this admittedly unlikely band of heroic figures work to solve the puzzling Riddle of the Occurrence.

There's a whole range of equally interesting creatures who our intrepid gang will meet. Such as Twewdle Twitchers, Wizzles and Tree Stompers. And Mr Shouty. And the Chief. And... Well, to find out more, you'll have to read the book.

Like most good books for children this is multi-levelled.

Yes, it's a fantastic adventure for children to read, but there's so much more to it than that.

Young readers will see and learn about a variety of important concepts and ideas such as friendship, teamwork and loyalty.

The story is Henrietta's début book. It is to be hoped this will be the first of many equally inspired books.

The illustrations by Richard Berner are evocative of the best d.rawings of the late 1960, but with a new contemporary millennial vibe to them.

It is published in hardback by Matador at £12.99 and will make a great book for children to share with the adults in their lives, should they wish to.

It is due for publication on March 28th and will be available through the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which you will find to the right-hand side of this book review, along with thousands of other books, DVDs, etc.

Chuckle Verse. Poems by Lizzy Wade

Chuckle Verse is a collection of poems by Lizzy Wade.

Poetry can be difficult to write. And also sometimes difficult to read.

This judgement cannot be laid at the feet of Lizzy Wade.

The only thing that can be laid at the feet of poetess Lizzy Wade are a collection of accolades.

For Lizzy's poetry is always amusing and, if not merely amusing, downright bloody hilarious!

And often makes you, the lucky reader (trust me, if you take the time to purchase Lizzy's book you will be very lucky!) say: "Well blow me down! I thought that kind of stuff happened only to me?"

Such as this extract from one of her poems called Trying to see my GP

"I try to make an appointment
To see my own GP
But the battle-axe I encounter
Gives me the third degree"

She has a wit that shines a million candle power light into all sorts of nooks and crannies of everyday life.

From Doctor's receptionists to botox, from sexism to the problems of allowing men to barbecue, from from the confusion engendered by cricket to driving lessons, from boozing vicars to shopaholics and the problems of being a doctor to blind dates and the horrors of having a hot gran, all human life is here.

Each poem has a witty and pithy coloured illustration which perfectly matches the relevant poem.

If you spend your £7.99 on this excellent book of poems (it's from Matador) you will laugh and you'll live a little better, too, as these poems will remind you of truths you already knew or teach you things you should already have known but which you might have been away from school when that particular lesson was taught. (EDITOR: That's why I never came to grips with quadratic equations, apparently)

This book is promoted on the basis that all women will be able to relate to this book, in some way.

I have some hopefully welcome news for Lizzy and the staff at Matador. I think all men can relate to this book in some way, too!

Of course it is purchasable from the That's Books bookshop, which is to the righthand side of this book review, along with many other books of poems from Lord Byron to his newest and most distinguished rival, Lizzy Wade.

Bruno and the Little Donkey

Bruno and the Little Donkey is a story by Marianne Parry, which is illustrated  by Dave Hill.

It is a charming, well-illustrated tale of two friends, one a little boy called Bruno and the other, a little donkey who is called, Little Donkey.

Bruno and Little Donkey live and work on two different farms. Sad to relate, Bruno and Little Donkey are unhappy because they are both treated very badly on the farms.

When they meet at the market Bruno realises that Little Donkey is just as badly treated as he is. so, on impulse, he advises the donkey to escape.

A little while later Bruno follows his own advice and also runs away.

On the road from the village and the bustling, hustling market place, the two meet up again and they commence upon a journey away from their cruel, heartless masters they wander off together to face their new life as escapees from their previous cruel masters.

Life on the road was not easy for the two friends, for they meet characters who would wish them harm and ill fortune, but they face these and other troubles until, eventually, Bruno and Little Donkey manage to trudge their way to a new home which will be filled with much love and happiness.

This book is aimed at children -and their parents and grandparents!- from age six upwards.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 in paperback and is available from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, alog with thousands and thousands of other titles and DVDs, to the right of this book review.

Poetry for PSHE

Poetry for PSHE is a book by teacher and author Jay Clarke and if you are a teacher or a homeschooler who deals with children who are being taught at secondary school level, then this book is one that you must have.

And if you are the head of an English Department then you simply have got to buy multiple copes of this book for your department and/or the school library.

PSHE means Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education and the book is a collection of poems that are aimed at secondary school aged children.

It is a anthology of a variety of poems that cover a wide range of different subjects such as friendships, bullying, secrets, social media, families, ill health  and the like.

The subjects are covered in such a way that the pupils are, in general terms, enthused and wish to read the next poem.

They introduce the children to a variety of real life situations that they may already be facing (such as bullying) and provides them with potential ways to face up to the situations and to learn coping skills and to help others if required.

The positive impact of this book will remain with the children for years to come. Perhaps for the rest of their lives.

The book is short, but deals with the subjects in a highly effective way and is aimed at the modern curriculum.

At £11.99 this Matador textbook deserves a place on your book shelf and also in the resource library at your school.

It is available for purchase -as single or multiple copies- from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which you will find at the right hand side of this book review.

You can also purchase all other textbooks through the bookshop, too.

Last Tango in Buenos Aires Sketches from the Argentine

Last Tango in Buenos Aires Sketches from the Argentine is a highly evocative book by David Marsh.

David March travels into and through Argentina.

He takes his readers into the heart of this massive and highly varied country.

Through his eyes and skilled pen we meet with Indians and also a variety of religious figures from nuns and pilgrims to priests.

We see other people who inhabit the Argentine, teachers, veterans of the ill-fated war of the South Atlantic, coal miners and gold miners, ranchers and a whole host of other people who populate this country.

He also meets with those who are still bearing physical and mental scars from the wicked and horrible "Dirty War" and, astonishing though this night seem, he even meets some people who are still in favour of what happened during that filthy time and who act as apologists for what is arguably a very shameful event in recent Argentinian history.

There are also people who dream of the golden, olden days, when Argentina was one of the richest nations in the world and when Evita Peron kept many Argentinians captivated.

At £9.99 this book by Matador is ideal for people who have either a passion for Argentina or for travelogues in general.

It is available for purchase or order via the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which is to the right of this review, along with thousands and thousands of other books, DVDs, etc.

Willoughby Wind Has Fun!

Willoughby Wind Has Fun! is a fantastic new book for children written by Maggie Lycett and illustrated by Jan Woods.

It is a charmingly written and well-illustrated book that tells the story of the wind, the sun and the clouds.

It is guaranteed to capture the imagination of all children from ages three to five.

The illustrations are bright and colourful skilfully blending reality and fantasy.

The book introduces children to stories about the weather, and it also brings to their knowledge (in language that is aimed at their age range) the concepts of being good or being bad/naughty.

Children will be able to identify with the character Willoughby Wind who is really neither naughty or particularity bad, but who is a little bit mischievous!

This book is ideal for children and is perfect for their adult careers to share. Will also be idea for nursery or infant classes, too.

It is published by Matador Books at £9,99, and can be ordered through the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which you will find to the right of this review.

The Skyscar. Début novel by Xander Macdonald.

The Skyscar is the début  novel by Xander Macdonald.

What happens to souls after they leave this mortal realm?

The Skyscar takes us on a journey into the afterlife. 

What happens to the souls who failed in life? Those who are the condemned?

They might become a demon, inhabiting one of a myriad different types of hells.

Where they will be fated to live out a life of misery and torture, with all the demonic overlords and their lower order demons battling for supremacy, whilst all fighting to gain supremacy on The Skyscar, which is the name for the mortal realm, which includes planet Earth, itself. 

Somehow, a pure soul becomes involved. A pure soul which has the ability to grant untold and immense powers to its owner.

Unfortunately this pure soul has suffered the fate of falling  into the clutches of Mullroch, who is an arch-demon.

But all the other demons are desirous to wrest the ownership of the pure soul from Mulltroch, so battle is commenced.

However, there are other beings who seek to restore order and remove the chaos. Angelic beings who range through the afterworlds seeking to impose harmony. One such angelic creature seeks to hide amongst the battling demons, working to save the soul, removing it from the demonic forces that would take it and keep it for their own nefarious purposes. 

But the task is not as easy as one might suppose.

This novel is published next month and, of you are a fan of fantasy novels and the works of authors such as Lovecraft, Tolkien and the like, you will need to purchase this book, available from the That's Books and Entertainment bookshop, which is to be found to the right hand side of this review.

It is published by Matador in paperback at £8.99.

Written Off

Written Off is a new and satirical novel that casts a weary, and wary, eye on the world of wannabe authors.

Charles Dickens did it, so why shouldn't you do it?

What? Write and publish your own book!

In his novel Paul Carroll follows the fate and fortunes of four very different wouldbe authors as they struggle to get their book published.

In their attempts to follow their dreams of literary fame and fortune they decide to employ the path of self-publishing.

In his novel Paul Carroll turns his beady eye and satirical pen on a variety of targets: Batty and self-important writers, Literary agents who like to imagine that they are far more important than they really are, publishers who are bewildered by the constant pressure of their lives and what about the self-proclaimed experts who promise (oh, the promises they make!)  to turn the aspiring authors into a publishing star. All for a not inconsiderable price, of course!)

The book is filled with humour, of that there is no doubt. It's a fun read that guys those who deserve to be guyed and also pokes gentle fun at the credulous and the well-meaning.

But as they say, it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Or a life...

But the author points out that behind the humorous aspects of this book the avid reader (and those of us with several novels that require just that little bit more polishing before publication!) will find more genuine and worthwhile information and guidance on how to get your novel or non-fiction book published than you will find in any of the over-priced writing courses and the workshops that are available and, it would seem, designed to part aspiring writers from their money.

And with courses starting at £500 for a ten week beginners course, the smart option would appear to be to pay £8.99 of the paperback version of this book (published by Troubador) or £2.99 for the e-version.

You can purchase this book -and thousands of other books- via the That's Books and Entertainment online book shop, which you will find to the right of this review.