Have You Eaten Grandma? by Gyles Brandreth review – good grammar, with  jokes | Written language | The Guardian

Published by Penguin

I can’t claim to be a person that uses English particularly well, and my vocabulary isn’t as it should be; especially with the amount I read . Perhaps proving the statement I often tell young readers who come into the store, that what you read directly influences the range of vocabulary you have to use… If you just read David Walliams’ books and no other author, you will only have David Walliams’ vocabulary. Though that might be enough for him, it is surely better to have a broader selection of words at your command. So a mix of authors is important and though I do read a plethora of different writers’ books, they are usually written for children and so in its own way that too reduces the range of my own vocabulary.

This is an amusing book about punctuation, grammar and language – with additional notes about the things that really irritate Gyles Brandreth.

Interestingly, many of those also irritate me:

I’m good – especially in response to the question, would you like a bag/receipt/help. I’m glad you are ‘good‘, (it’s lovely to hear), but I’d really prefer to know if you would like some help or not. No thank you, is more accurate, and frankly friendlier and polite.

Gyles’ dislike of the phase, ‘I personally‘ reminded me of this one, that I hate:

‘I, myself – ‘ Who else are you? Also –

‘…at this point in time…’ Why not, ‘…at this point…’?

I think it was in this somewhere (I know I have read it in the last few days) that the word lit, as in ‘I lit (or lighted) the candle’ is legitimate English use, though not so in America. It has puzzled me for years that people say lit, but everywhere I found the action written as lighted. Which seems cumbersome to me.

This is a useful book – and I will be keeping it on my desk as a reference volume, along with my dictionary and my Roget’s Thesaurus.

I would suggest another reference book to add to those that Gyles suggests as good sources of words: A thesaurus, preferably a Roget’s Thesaurus – different from dictionaries and so much fun…actually quite a distraction. I find looking up a word, results in my losing time as I get caught up with words near the one I looked up…

I usually put an image of the book at the top of my posts – to make it easier to track them down…however, whilst searching for a picture of this, I came across this picture of Gyles with a bear (which looks as though it’s going to auction) – such a lovely bear, I had to use it. The notation below credits The Guardian. The feet on the bear look as though he has travelled a very long way. He looks a little tired… I’d have bid on him…though I expect he was very expensive.

Circus Maximus: Race to the Death by Annelise Gray | Waterstones

Published by Head of Zeus.

Just a quick update following my previous post, having finished it.

A mix of Ben Hur (Lew Wallace) and National Velvet (Bagnold),

A very Good Chance…Sarah Moore Fitgerald,

One Dollar Horse…Lauren St John and

The Silver Brumby, by Elyne Mitchell


Worth purchasing in hardback.

I KNOW this means it weighs more.

You can’t curl with it in quite the way you’d like before you fall asleep and

it costs more.

But it’s worth it.

Buy it.

Paperback is out in September (2021)

Hardback though, is out now.

The House on the Edge - Nosy Crow

Published by Nosy Crow

I fumble for my front door key, conscious of The Lookout’s window eyes above, sorrowful and surprised that I’m bringing home this vampire (well, she looks like she can bite). Maybe she won’t be able to cross our threshold if I don’t invite her in! The tap of her sensible shoes against the hall tiles soon answers that one.

Noah’s sister is trying to step up. Trying to look after Noah and her Mum too. The house is on the edge – literally perched on the cliff top, with the sea cutting the land out from beneath it.

Things aren’t going well.

Noah’s teacher, would like to talk to Noah’s mother…but Faith knows that if she does, everything will become unravelled.

Superb. Faith’s attempts to help her brother and her Mum twist and turn – there’s laughter too…

A stupendous book about families and what holds them together…

Jane Austen Investigates - Lion Hudson

Published by Lion Hudson Ltd

I spotted this title somewhere and then saw the author. Julia Golding. The author of the Cat Royal books, that were published years ago – and which were so brilliant. So, I had to have a copy to read – and it has been a brilliant excursion into Jane Austen’s world…

Julia has taken Jane Austen as a young daughter of a clergyman and swirled a wonderful detective novel around her – it really is superb. Along with her dog Grandison she investigates the disappearance of two valuable horses and a fire, amongst other things to try to find out the truth…

I am so pleased to have found this – and will be asking for copies to have in stock when I return to work tomorrow…

It has the flavour of a good Austen – so what more could you want?


Midnight Magic – Little Tiger

Published by Little Tiger

This reminded me of Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat (Ursula Moray Williams) – a classic tale for young readers. This is, however, a story for those who are just getting into reading for themselves, or a little younger, if they have someone delightful to read it to them.

Midnight is not the usual sort of kitten…and her adventures are, perhaps a little hair-raising to start with. That is, till she finds her paws…

Written by Michelle Harrison (of whom I am a fan, as those of you who read my blog regularly will know), and illustrated by Elissa Elwick. It is written in rhyme – which give it a charm all of its own. It is also very purple… Probably the most purple book I have ever read.

Harklights by Tim Tilley | Waterstones

Published by Usborne

A tale of the woods. Of nature and of matches

After putting the matchbox back, her fingers curl like a dying spider, then point. ‘What’s that?’

It has an air of a Victorian novel… Old Ma Bogey runs a factory that makes matches. She employs, if such a word can be used to describe the workers, orphans to pack the boxes. They sleep on the floor, each child having drawn a space on the floorboards the shape of a bed…their place to sleep at the end of the day.

No-one escapes. Or rather, no-one has, so far.

A tale that confirms that it doesn’t matter what size you are – you can make a difference. A story of friendship, bravery and the environment.

Each book has gilt highlights to the cover, with French turned edges. For those who want to make a difference…

How to be Me (Paperback)

Nosy Crow Books

I can’t remember the last time I read a book that deals with shyness. Self-consciousness – that introspective fear of not coming up to standard, of being noticed at all. Lucas’ father has become distant since his mother suddenly died. Work has become more important, more time demanding – taking him away from Lucas, who apart from two cats who understand him and the au pair who does care for him in her own way, is lost.

His father is frustrated – Lucas has piano lessons and clubs he attends, but there is nothing that holds his attention – and his father doesn’t notice, is too wrapped in his own life to realise Lucas’ almost inability to make friends. He decides to enrol his son in a Summer Drama Club. Even the idea makes Lucas shudder…

A tale of finding yourself – standing up for yourself and also about grief. A quick, but important read…

Oxford University Press: Education and Children's books

Published by Oxford.

There used to be a rhyme that ended with the phrase, ‘but words will never hurt me.’ So untrue. Bullying can take many forms. This is a book about gaming – and bullying. It’s about people’s talents and how important they are, but it is also about bullying and friendship and how friends can be found in all sorts of places.

School can be horrendous – especially when you are labelled the weird one. The one that smells (even though you don’t) – the one who has second hand clothes, who doesn’t fit in.

On-line life, can be a refuge – a place to hide in, a place where talents can grow, along with confidence and hope…

This is brilliant. A book for the gamers out there…

Funny and tragic mixed, but such a hopeful book…

Chicken House Books - Children of the Quicksands

Published by Chicken House

‘Eavesdropping is a bad habit,’ Iyanla suddenly said, raising her voice.

‘Heh?’ Simi said confused.

Iyanla turned her head. ‘If you keep eavesdropping, you might one day hear things that will make your ears rot and fall off.’

An extraordinary novel that reminded me somewhat of my trips to Madagascar. Of the idea of Ancestors. A tale of mystery and spirits. Families, beliefs and grief too. A stupendous, wonderful novel…atmospheric and engrossing. A novel not to be missed.

Due out early June – this won the Times/Chicken House Fiction competition in 2019 – not that is necessarily a reason for buying it – however, I can confirm it is brilliant. So it has my backing. I think this will be the cover; I read a proof – and it is the cover that Chicken House have put out on the Internet. Place an order now, so you don’t miss this.

Annelise Gray Freisenbruch on Twitter: "Ready? And....go!!!! It's launch  day for my children's debut Circus Maximus: Race to the Death!!!  🥳🥳😍Thank you to @_ZephyrBooks and @_fkennedy for making my dream come  true.

Published by Head of Zeus

I have always had a yearning to ride a race horse around a flat racecourse. There is a real joy when the horse and rider are working together. I haven’t ridden for some years now and only once or twice, I think, realised the horse was enjoying the ride as much, if not more than I.

The first time I ever fell off – was, rather pleasingly I always think, on Rotten Row in Hyde Park. I fell off Little John a large roan gelding. We had shifted from a ‘good’ canter, without any effort at all, into a gallop. It was not my idea. Initially I had thought, when I couldn’t get him to change direction or slow down, that he would stop in due course.

It was the traffic in the distance that persuaded me I needed to bail out – from being a line of very small moving cars, they began to increase in size very quickly. I remember thinking I should take my feet out of the stirrups and then, that it was a little like flying. I hit the tarmac path by the side of the sand and skidded on the small of my back. Little John, the gentleman he was, stopped immediately and started to nibble at some of the turf beside me as I slowly got up and shook myself, preparatory to getting back on…

Prior to my deciding we needed to part company, I had realised quite how wonderful a gallop is – Which is probably why I have wondered how marvellous it would be to ride a course, made for galloping. Where you can really allow the horse to have their head and just – go, together… Without any concerns of traffic or other horses getting in the way. I have always been worried about them – their legs are so delicate looking, so essential to their survival.

This is a book I have only just started. It’s a hardback, with a lovely burgundy binding and gilt lettering down the spine. The dust jacket is beautiful too. Being a hardback however is a slight disadvantage in my reading.

Many books are read in my bed…There are three in it at the moment. Hardbacks are less easy to curl around. I am more concerned about them too – I don’t want to bend the covers and damage the DJs. This though, I know – is going to be a fantastic story about the relationships between man and horse – or in this case girl and horse. I’m loving it. A book about charioteers – horse racing, Ben-Hur style – full of drama and danger.

The most I have ever dreamt is to ride around a course – certainly not race – this already (Page 34) has made my heart pound. I’m loving it…