Monday, 23 March 2020

How to Protect Yourself From Coronavirus Scams

Amid the fear and confusion caused by Coronavirus pandemic, scammers are taking advantage of scared and vulnerable people.

Over £800,000 has been lost to Coronavirus scams since last month 2020, say reports sent in to Britain's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

Many of these hoaxes and scams are online and are in the form of phishing emails, malicious social media adverts, and fake online retailers. But now even some in-person Coronavirus scams are being reported.

This article by KIS Finance details some of the Coronavirus scams that have been reported so far so you can keep your money safe.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Learn to Pray

Learn to Pray, by Marcus Braybrooke, an Anglican Priest, is a guide to enriching your life through prayer. 

The way in which the art of prayer produces self-understanding and contentment is useful in today’s troubled world. 

Marcus takes prayer step-by-step through various methods until a resolution is found. 

Words of encouragement from people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Buddhist writers illustrate that prayer is a fundamental part of human life and not something exclusive to one religion.  Published by Chronicle Books, priced at £10.99.

Learn to Pray, breaks down all religious barriers and gives the opportunity for anyone to find their own personal God.

The Final Straw

In The Final Straw readers once again meet with top West Midlands police detective DCI Charlie Moon who is back with a new case during 2001.

Sometimes the way detectives receive a tip about a case they might be interested in can be quite unusual. But probably not so unusual as when a convicted career criminal in Birmingham's Winson Green Prison asks for Charlie to investigate an apparently solved murder.

Because he doesn't believe that the now dead fellow prisoner (who apparently took his own life in his cell) who had confessed to the murder of a young female student in the 1970s was really guilty.

After taking a quick look into the case Charlie Moon soon realises that perhaps all might not be well with the case.

An initial clue was that all of the records of the case seemed to have been removed from the files.

The more he digs into the case the more he is convinced that there was a monstrous miscarriage of justice. So aided by his journalist friend Jo Lyon (who helps put Charlie in touch with a former Birmingham crime reporter) and his somewhat reluctant team of detectives, Charlie attempts to get to the bottom of why a young Jamaican hospital porter called Wilson Beames had been fitted up for the murder, who had fitted him up and who the real killer was, if he really hadn't done it.

But are people who are still in the force trying to throw Charlie off the scent?

This is another first rate crime novel from Jenny Francis about one of my favourite fictional detectives, DCI Charlie Moon.

It's published by Matador at £8.99.

Incidentally this book was so engrossing that whilst I was reading it in the bath, the water went cold!

The Sapphire Society

The Sapphire Society is a fantasy novel for children by new author L. C. Sarll.

Savannah Wood is, as she is fully aware, just another child of twelve. An ordinary child of twelve, at that. Or so she firmly believes.

Bullies are making her life miserable so when she learns that her family is making plans to leave their home town for a new life in the distant Faroe Islands Savannah is eager to leave.

But during the move her mother discovers a sapphire necklace that of hers that is alluring to Savannah.

But why? What hold does it have over her? There are dark and dreadful secrets beneath the waters that surround their new home of the Faroe Islands. There is a Viking who has not an ounce of pity within him, who seeks ultimate power and doesn't care how he gets it.

However, Savannah learns that she is, by birthright, a member of a secret society that is bound up in the mysterious events.

Which will cause the most destruction? The volcano that is on the point of erupting? Or the massed army of Ragnar that is threatening to strike with great and dreadful ferocity?

But can brave, resourceful Savannah and her companions meet and defeat this terrible foe?

It's a stirring and exciting novel and although aimed at young people I am sure many older readers will also enjoy it.

It's published by Matador at £10.99.

The Broken Tree

The Broken Tree is a Personal Memoir of a Search for a Family.

In this remarkable book Anita Venes reveals a very painful story. It is of her search for her family.

During her childhood her memories of who she was slowly slipped away. She was a child who had been abandoned the the care system, such as it was, in the 1940s.

Unfortunately for Anita her experiences of being a fostered child were not happy ones and, like many of her peers in the childcare system of that era she tried to focus on the future rather than the unappealing past.

However, she was able to make something of her life and her own experiences helped ot shape the kind of person she became. She chose to work with children who were profoundly disabled. She was dedicated to her career for four decades. Her career culminated in her being chosen as the headteacher of a new school.

But Anita still though of her own birth family and she dedicated her life to learning about them and finding them.

She was able to learn the truth that her mother had desperately wanted to keep in touch with her and her siblings but that circumstances had thwarted her.

However, she and her sister were able to reestablish communications with their mother when Anita was 25, having not seen her since she was three years old.

However, the new relationship with her mother wasn't quite what she had hoped for. However several points that had caused her concern were answered when she discovered that severe mental health problems had meant that her mother had been incapable of looking after her children which is why they had to be taken into care.

It's a moving account and at times a troubling one, but it is also a spirited and inspirational account that will help others who are going through similar troubled times.

It is also illustrated with a number of photographs.

Incidentally she discovered that her brother is an internationally acclaimed entertainer.

The book is published by Matador at £12.99.

Just Words

Just Words is the fourth collection of poems from poet Heather Goddin.

When you read the poems in this remarkable collection you will find yourself nodding you head, smiling, chuckling, wincing, perhaps, and sometimes you will be in tears.

Because all human and non-human life is to be discovered within.

You'll read of love, of hummingbirds and butterflies, of memories held within a beloved item, a real tearoom, of winter in Cantabria,  of legs, old photographs, of flowers and flowers that aren't real flowers, but which will last forever.

There's youth, old age, pathos, humour, and there is my personal favourite, the story of Marmalade.

During these troubled times (of Coronavirus) I think everyone should own a copy of this book. It's published by Matador at £8.99.

Baron John Maltravers 1290-1364

Baron John Maltravers 1290-1364 "A Wise Knight in War and Peace" Medieval historian Caroleen McClure has completed a long and exceptionally detailed research project into the medieval Maltravers family.

She starts with the first Baron John Maltravers who, she reveals, led an extraordinary life. He was awarded his knighthood at an exceptionally early age, 16.

Several years later he was capture and made a prisoners at Bannockburn.

He was a close associate of Roger Mortimer and served as a jailer of King Edward II after he had been deposed.

However, Mortimer's time in a position of control and power was soon over and his associates were put on trial. As was Maltravers, who, after his trial, was put to death for treason.

But it was too late as he had already fled the country and served out a voluntary exile for the next two decades. However, as McClure points out, he was not pursued and no attempt was made to arrest him during his exile.

When he arrived back from period of exile it was to grim news. His sole son had died, a victim of the Black Death and his heirs were his two granddaughters.

Eleanor, his surviving granddaughter made a good marriage, marrying into the Arundel family. Her descendants were ennobled as the Earls of Arundel so they were not only the Earls of Arundel but also Barons Maltravers. These titles are carried by their descendant the current Duke of Norfolk.

As well as being based on meticulous research, it is profusely illustrated with photographs, family trees, coats of arms, maps and the like. It is also very well written in a clear and concise style. Although written with due academic rigour, it is very accessible to the lay reader.

The author has been able to access hitherto unpublished resources and the author has cited all works with a exceptional index so it will make an excellent resource for students of medieval history. 

It is published by Matador at £15.00 in hardback.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Please help the vulnerable and the elderly

Good evening, everyone.

This is not a normal post for That's Books and Entertainment. But then, these are not normal times, are they?

I would like to ask you to please think about anyone you know who is vulnerable, elderly or disabled.

Please check on them on a regular basis to make sure that during the Coronavirus crisis they have enough food and drink to sustain them.

Do they need medication collecting from their pharmacy? Do they need help in sending a prescription to their Doctor's?

Do they need help in making certain their mobile phone is topped up with credits or with power?

Do they just need someone to chat, even if it is just on the phone?

We can beat the Coronavirus, but only if we all work together, especially if we help to look after the vulnerable, the elderly and the disabled.

Please help by forwarding this post on to as many people as you know. Thank you for your help.

UPDATE: Here are some helpful links:-
Coronavirus: Postcard bid to help self-isolating neighbours
How the British Red Cross is helping with coronavirus
Here you’ll find all our information about coronavirus and useful links for the latest updates.
What is coronavirus? Facts, FAQs, and how to help
How are you helping others during the coronavirus outbreak?

Image courtesy Zoran Stupar from Pixabay

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Learn to play, for free, with Yamaha Music London

NATIONAL LEARN TO PLAY DAY at Yamaha Music London is suitable for adults and children aged 3+ with no previous musical experience being required or even necessary.

There will be a wide choice of instruments to try, including top Yamaha acoustic, bass and electric guitars, pianos, violin and drums, too.

Whether you have never played or whether you used to play, there will be professional music teachers on hand to encourage and inspire you.

The taster sessions can only be booked in-store on the day, on a first come first served basis. So please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

All the music fun is totally free and also includes:

Balloon Bonanza – Saturday 28 March
Guinness World Record Breaking Balloon Artist David Crofts keeping everyone entertained with his musical themed creations.

Sonic Creation Sessions – Sunday 29 March
Synthesizer guru Dom Sigalas will be back to host his SONIC CREATION group sessions - a must if you are in a band or even remotely interested in any type of music production. Aimed at older children and adults.

International Piano Day will be celebrated throughout the weekend with surprise pop-up performances from international artists.

Don’t Miss Out!
For up-to-date information on the Learn to Play lineup and activities please visit Please check the website before you travel.

Store Address
Yamaha Music London
152-160 Wardour Street
London W1F 8YA
Store telephone number 0207 432 4400
Nearest underground stations: Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road.

Taking That's Books and Entertainment to the next level with Patreon

I have decided to take my book review and entertainment blog, That's Books and Entertainment to the next level.

But what to do? How to move the blog forward, yet still continuing to provide book reviews and the odd piece of entertainment industry news that has caught my attention that I believe readers of my blog might also be interested in?

After several weeks of thought I decided to launch a Patreon account.

At least initially this will involve a special regular newsletter that will be sent out to my Patreons. In fact, the first edition of this special newsletter is already written and is ready to be sent out.

So please join me on Patreon as I work out how to provide my readers with an even better experience. It will be a learning experience for all of us.

I have several other blogs that I intend to add Patreon to at some time in the near future.

(Image courtesy of Werner Weisser from Pixabay)

Friday, 13 March 2020

All The People

All The People is a historical novel from Jeff Kaye set 200 years ago.

Everyone knows something of the dreadful incident that became known as the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester in 1819, when the Yeomanry launched a murderous attack on protesters.

In his novel Jeff Kaye examines what happened afterwards.

It's set 13 years after Peterloo, and Hugh Hornby Birley, the mill owner who led the Yeomanry on that dreadful day, still casts a malign shadow over Manchester.

Mary Burns, a nine-year-old girl is one of the workers in his factory. Her family relies on Mary's wages to survive.

The novel shows how she grew into  an ardent Chartist, working hard to better the conditions of the herself, her family and the people of her town.

The novel also introduces James Hull. James has been sent to Manchester as a religious missionary, but when he sees at first hand the desperate and miserable conditions of the inhabitants he decides to work to save their physical lives, leaving their spiritual salvation to others.

He has problems of his own as Elizabeth, his wife, is distraught over the death of their daughter.

Together James and Mary face down Birley, during the Chartist strikes in the year of 1842, which reactivate the memories of the dreadful event of Peterloo.

But was Birley really such a monster? Kaye takes a look at Birley that is quite  nuanced and well realised.

It's an important novel that reflects upon a very unfortunate piece of the history of Britain during the 19th century.

It is published by Matador at £8.99 in paperback and £16.99 in hardback.

Plague A Very Short Introduction

Plague A Very Short Introduction is a book by Paul Slack.

It is a part of the Oxford University Press A Very Short Introduction series of academic books.

It is a very important work on the plague. It identifies the plague, it discusses the Greek and Latin meaning of the word, how the plague spread, how the plague was treated by the medical practitioners of the day, the symptoms of the plague and how the dead were dealt with. On page 3, for example, there is a photograph of a London burial pit, which  was identified as probably having been used during the plague of 1665-6.

The book focused on the disease's history, major epidemics, times throughout history when it was sweeping through communities and also right down to more recent times, the early decades of the 20th century.

The book points out that due to advances in medical science and in public health measures the plague has become less of a severe threat to humanity.

It points out that the disease still exists and that there are episodic flare ups in various parts of the world and that it persists in animals.

Worryingly it points out that human cases have been rising since the 1990s, the WHO, Slack states, reports 1,000 to 5,000 cases every year.

Although it is a very short introduction Slack covers all the main points on the plague, who first identified it, when it was first isolated, the vector of the disease and so forth.

It costs £7.99 and is a must read for all medical students,health practitioners and students of the history of medicine and of history in general.


Tannadee is a humorous novel from author Maurice Gray.

The lifestyle in the Scottish Highland village of Tannadee is pretty good. Until the village meets with Gordon Weever who is a billionaire. Unfortunately Weever is also a total bully who has plans to construct an exclusive golf resort very close to the village.

The villagers are not sure what to do to put a halt to his plans. Because not only is he able to throw money around to get his own way, he is also starting to employ some pretty nasty dirty tricks. So, what can they do to deal with this interloper? Nothing? Just let him get away with it?

However, local schoolteacher Chizzie Bryson is not so sure and he decides to get the villagers to participate in some Highland Games to raise some much needed funds for a fight back.

When the weekend dawns, the villagers turn out to participate in the Highland Games.

But what if things didn't go quite to plan? And whose plan would be thwarted?

Would Weever win? Or could the locals play him at his own Highland Games?

It's an amusing novel published by Matador at £8.99.

The Audition Room. A down to earth guide, for actors

The Audition Room. A down to earth guide for actors is a truly wonderful book written by Sharon Sorrentino.

It is an absolutely vital guide for all actors, be they thinking about a career as an actor, part way through their careers or already fairly well established.

Because if offers working actors and graduates from drama school some practical tips and guidance on all aspects of their chosen career.

It reveals what show business is and what it isn't, how to get the attention of the people in the industry who you need to get the attention of, how to market yourself, how people get cast for parts and how you can get cast for parts, too, how to ready yourself to actually get into the audition room, what to do once you are there and what to do afterwards, too.

There is also a chapter on how to prepare for auditions for screen roles, such as technical considerations, camera techniques and ways of ensuring that you are doing things properly during the auditions.

It tells you what you need to research and who you need to research and also why you need to do this.

The book contains very useful hints and inspirations from to actors and directors. And remember, they started out where you are and they probably wish that they had a copy of   The Audition Room. A down to earth guide, for actors at the beginning of their careers, too.

There's also a wealth of resources which will be useful to actors for many years to come.

It's published by The Book Guild at £9.95 and this book should be given to every drama student no matter what the year they are studying in. It should also be bought by every director and producer as a good resource for young and aspiring actors.

Bryony: Harnessing the Power

Bryony: Harnessing the Power is a novel aimed at young adult readers from author Emma Hamilton.

Bryony is left destroyed by the belief that her boyfriend is cheating on her.

After a terrifying event, she decides to leave her trailer park home, so different from the real home she had known as a  young child, taking flight with Pierre. Who she trusted.

Pierre puts her in a trance, but to her horror and bewilderment when she awakes she has travelled back in time to 1863, totally alone in in grave danger.

Besides trying to find out how she can return to her own time she must first try to survive, somehow, in a time that is totally different OT her own.

She meets Pierre, and discovers that not only is he a former but now freed slave, he is also an immortal and that, somehow, their destinies are tied together.

They find themselves fleeing from a mysterious enemy, seeking help from a witch and from Native Americans and Bryony learns more about her own magical powers.

She finds love but can she find her way back to her own time? And if she could, would her problems really be over? And who could she trust?

It's an exciting story, published by The Book Guild at £8.99. 

Thursday, 12 March 2020

A Life Force in Life Science

A Life Force in Life Science is a remarkable book about a remarkable person, it tells the amazing story of Ida Smedley MacLean.

She earned the reputation of being not only smart and very bright, she was also known for her charismatic personality, too.

She was born in Birmingham in 1877 and, at a time when women working in the sciences was still very much a novelty, she studied chemistry at Cambridge University.

She went on to perform pioneering work in biochemistry and was able to garner a number of international prizes and awards for her work.

During the Great War she worked with Chaim Weizmann (a future president of Israel) making great contributions to the war effort.

She founded the British Federation and then the International Federation of University Women and did sterling work throughout her life to improve the rights of women in the workplace.

She was also a key figure during the 1930s to enable Jewish women scientists and other women academics to find not only asylum but also work within the UK and the USA. Please bear in mind that she was also raising her two children and caring for a husband who was seriously ill.

Author of the book Penny Freedman has been able to tell the remarkable story of this most remarkable of scientists and women by relying on Idas's own letters and diary entries, plus memorabilia. To which she had unique access granted by Ida's granddaughter.

As well as being a gifted academic (a BA in Classics and Philosophy from Oxford, an MA in Linguistics from the University of Kent and a PhD in Shakespearean studies from the University of Birmingham, Penny Freedman is a published author of multiple crime novels.

She points out that Robert, her husband, who is a professor of biochemistry, became interested in Ida when he noted that she was the first female chairman of the Biochemistry Society in the 1920s. By chance he was allowed access to her lifelong collection of papers and memorabilia and was working on them whilst he was receiving treatment for cancer.

Subsequent to his death Penny realised that she could not see his work go to waste and felt strongly that Ida was a female and a scientist that people should know about.

The book is illustrated with contemporary images.

It's a very well written book and needs to be on the bookshelves of all scientists, lovers of biographies and people interested in the studies of women.

It's published by The Book Guild at £9.99.

Zero Tolerance

Zero Tolerance is a novel written by a retired teacher who goes by the name of "The Old Grey Owl."

There are troubling times in the world of education. The Head of Humanities who seems to long for snow. In Norway.

A therapy dog that is put to sleep in order to save money, there's an Ofsted inspector who grades sexual encounters on a clipboard. As they are their own sexual encounters, that's probably not as creepy as it sounds, but even so...

What happened to the Deputy Head after the Year 11 Prom? 

What of the once great LEA empire, now whittled down to nearly nobody at all?

What of the Syrian refugee? What is he to make of it all? And what is the Secretary of State for Education really up to?

Of course, none of these events could ewer happen in real life, could they? But the former English teacher and deputy head and one time exam moderator for GCSE English exams who wrote this book might not be too certain about that.

It's a cynical, wry and amusing look at the British education system and many teachers will, upon reading it, purse their lips, nod and say: "I used to work with someone, just like that!"

It's published by Matador at £9.99.

A Journey Through South-East England

A Journey Through South-East England is another excellent walking book from published author and expert walker Brian J. Rance.

You'll have followed Brian from Broadstairs to Lewes. Now you can join him on the huge walk through Kent and East Sussex, which he was able to achieve just prior to his 70th birthday.

You'll follow the walk with Brian from Lewes to Hartfield, from Hartfield to Upnor and then, ultimately, from Upnor to Woolwich, Brian's birthplace.

There are many highly detailed walking maps and some highly amusing cartoons and some amusing asides. For example in Chafford it seems that everything is called Chaff

He takes us to a pub that was once named after a famous hoax, checks out the site of the hoax, looks an elegant humpback bridge, drinks one pint of beer in a disappointingly busy pub, and chats to the many people he met on his walk, including the owner of a quivering and rather wet dog.

If you intend to walk in the footsteps of Brain, or even if you don't, you really should buy this book.

It's published by The Book Guild at £14.95 and will make an excellent gift for the walker in your life.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

The Funnies

In his latest novel The Funnies, BAFTA-nominated creator of a number of hit BBC comedy series Paul A. Mendelson introduces us to the hero, Marius K.

It explores, but in a subtle and humorous way, some very interesting philosophical concepts.

Science is good, right? But what if it wasn't all that good, all the time?

A sense of humour is a good thing, right? But what if some clever scientists decided to use their knowledge of science to have the sense of humour removed from everyone at birth?

That is exactly what happened in the country where Marius K. was born and lived. Everyone had their sense of humour removed.

But what if some people, some people such as Marius K. had, somehow, not had their sense of humour removed?

What could they do? Where would they go? Could they survive?

Some of those people fled into the forest and they were driven, no, determined, to keep humour a real, and living force.

Marius K, age 12, flees into the forest, abandoning his family and his beloved pet dog in order to find the others who, like him, had managed to retain their sense of humour.

But did they exist? And could Marius K. discover them before the very un-fun Fun Police found Marius K? And have his illegal sense of humour removed?

But how do you try to make someone laugh when their own father had removed their sense of humour? 

And how can you foment a rebellion when all you had was your sense of humour and some really, really crazy ideas?

Within the novel there are also some telling asides that point out the foibles of our own society.

Will the humourless Deputy Minister of Humour prevail and finally snuff out all humour? Or will the Funnies finally succeed, against, all the odds and, laughingly, claim victory? And if so, how?

You really, really do need this book. It's published by The Book Guild at £8.99.

It's aimed at a young audience, but everyone of any and every age will love it.