Archives for the month of: March, 2018

Image result for henry cecil crime booksImage result for henry cecil crime books

Published by Michael Joseph 1967

This is now out of print, however, you will find copies of Henry Cecil’s books in book fairs and they are always a joy to read.

On the whole they are renditions of court cases and cover different aspects of law, and its due processes. This one I recently bought at the National Book Fair in Bloomsbury (very near Russell Square) which is run every second Sunday of the month. It is well worth visiting and has often quite an eclectic selection of books for sale – some antiquarian, others just second hand. The Henry Cecil books, can’t be said to be of any value – this one was priced at £5.00 – but they are a superb collection of very good stories, with a legal theme.

Henry Cecil was a judge – who was called to the bar in 1923 and became a judge in 1967 and used his experiences as the basis for many of his books.

This one, bought last month, is the story of a cross-examination. The woman named Anne is accused of adultery and it details the questions and her answers whilst they try to ascertain whether she actually did spend the night with Mr Amberley, or not.

It starts with her being asked the following.

‘Mrs Preston,’ asked Charles Coventry, Q.C., the petitioner’s counsel, as his first question in cross-examination, ‘you say you have never committed adultery with my client’s husband, Mr Amberley. May I ask why not?’

From there the questions are wide ranging, the legal niceties are explained and the position of Mrs Preston’s defence by the end of the book become rather tenuous.

The characters are drawn from their responses and questions – and as always I particularly enjoyed the astute, sometimes acerbic comments of the judge…

The books remind me of John Mortimer’s Rumpole of the Bailey titles, however, I feel the English of Henry Cecil’s books gives them the edge – though I do enjoy Rumpole’s exploits too!

I had a few of Henry Cecil books, and stupidly gave them away to someone who was thinking of ‘going into law’ – and so sadly I don’t have them any more. I may go back to building my collection again.

Non Fiction titles include Brief to Counsel (1958) / Not Such an Ass (1961) / Tipping the Scales (1964) / Know About English Law (1965) / A Matter of Speculation: the Case of Lord Cochrane (1965) / The English Judge (1970) / Just Within the Law (1975) (autobiography)

He wrote around 25 fiction titles – too, of which A Woman Named Anne is (obviously) just one.

There have been various editions of his books, however, I have to admit to enjoying the original books, with their rather lovely dust jackets – a sample of which (taken from the Internet) I have used to illustrate this blog.


Image result for Buried crown sherrick chicken house

Published by Chicken House

This is another wonderful historical story by Ally Sherrick, this time set in 1940 in England.

George has been evacuated to the country after his parents’ deaths, not far from where his brother is based, as a novice RAF pilot, flying spitfires.

He is working on a farm, caring for the animals, and has made friends with the farmer’s dog. The farmer, however, is more likely to give George and Spud, a beating than give them a meal – he works hard, but always with an eye to the farmer’s fist. When he finds a way to escape, with the dog at his heals, he tries to make his way to his brother’s base, only to be caught and brought back to the farm…

This is an historical tale, mixed with a little fantasy, magic and mythology – super reading. Ally Sherrick also wrote Black Powder, (also reviewed on this blog); she seems to be taking high points of history and wrapping a story around the events, that are all her own.



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Published by Chicken House

Lies. There so many different types of lies. There are times, when it seems acceptable to lie. Other times, when its not. There are many reasons too, why people lie. This is a book about lying and how lies, if left, can grow and change, become twisted and affect things that initially seem to have no relation at all to each other, let alone the lie itself.

Lexie tells a lie. Which results in her insides becoming gnarly, like a tangled hosepipe full of steaming purple puss. Which is a very good description of how unpleasant a lie can make you feel.

This is a story about lies and repercussions. Lexie is from a Greek Cypriot family and the most important thing for them is family. Lexie’s lie has repercussions that are far reaching and devastating for everyone. Its a story of families. Of mistakes, jealousy, fear and of being human.

Oh! what a tangled web we weave

When first we practice to deceive!

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Published by Macmillan

Angels. I’m never quite sure what people mean by angels. Perhaps its the result of being agnostic – so I’m a little uncertain as to where they fit in the way of things, religiously or otherwise. I have never, though, thought about what might happen should they start to fall from the sky.

The idea that angels could fall out of the sky – and probably through it from wherever it is that angels reside, is a little disturbing, to say the least, even for someone who isn’t sure if they exist or not. It makes me wonder too about cherubs, and if angels could fall, could cherubs too? Would the falling angels materialise somewhere in the sky to drop, or would they fall from somewhere else?

There is no  mention of cherubs falling from the sky in this quite unique volume, just of angels, plummeting to the earth, with more often than not, fatal results. What happens to angels after death, would be another whole book in itself…

This book is about what happens when people become aware of these winged beings. Some like to collect the feathers, and converge on their bodies in the hope of gathering more, others join cults.  Some believe it is the beginning of the end of the world, and most people don’t believe the ‘beings’ have rights or are entities in their own right, that should be given the respect you might expect for someone who has just suffered such a traumatic event.

Jaya’s father is searching for the next ‘fall’ – trying to work out where  and when it might be. Jaya, though is still trying to work through the grief of her mother’s death, when she comes across a group of people who believe that these beings, these angels should be given the respect we generally reserve for people.

This is a thought provoking volume, which I must say probably accurately describes how people would react to such an event – which is to say, not very well. It is quite an extraordinary book with many layers about friendship, responsibility, bravery and loyalty…

They say you should never judge a book by its cover. You shouldn’t. This is a case in point.

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Published by Walker Books

This book is about grief, and fish. In particular a specific clownfish. They are the Nemos of the fish world. Dak’s father has recently died from a heart attack. His mother is trying to do her best, however, she is really too ill with grief to support her son very much and he finds himself drawn to the local aquarium. He and his father had spent many hours just watching the fish, and its there he feels closest to him.

It is a small aquarium, run by a friend of Dak’s father and he runs it with help from a young man, Johnny, who gives the talks to the public. It is when Dak is gazing into one of the coral fish tanks that he hears his name being called from behind him, and things begin to change.

Dak visits everyday and is relieved to be asked by the owner whether he would be happy help with the fish; it gives him a very good excuse for his visits. His first public appearance results in his being soaked by some rather exuberant sea bass, but also gives him some quiet satisfaction, and he begins to enjoy working around the fish, in particular the tanks with the clownfish.

This is a touching, simply written rather wonderful book about grief, and the sometimes strange roads that grief can take you down.

Sadly the book hasn’t been given its final cover, it is due out in November and I read one of their proofs – so I have raided the Internet once more for a suitable picture for this and since pipefish are also mentioned in the book, I thought this one would be most suitable.

The picture is credited to Pxleyes; I hope they don’t mind my using it – much the best I thought.



Image result for storm keeper's islandPublished by Bloomsbury

This is the story of an island. A tale of history, of stories, magic, the sea and candles. Its the story of a telling of tales. Mysterious, dangerous and wild. This is a book of water, history, and the smell of the sea. This is a story of an island full of impossibility. Of siblings. Bravery and sacrifice. A book about the sea in the depths of eyes. This is a story about storms, tides; low and high… it is a story of an island, the sea, and the safekeeping of stories.

Catherine Doyle’s use of language is partly what makes this such a superb book – there are few books for children that use smell, sight, hearing, taste and touch in quite the way she does. It makes the book a vivid and quite a special read.

There’s a Storm Keeper for each generation. Just one and one wish that can be granted.  A Storm Keeper is not something that is inherited. The island chooses. Someone that will keep the island safe, they are the person that will become the Storm Keeper.

Its a story of the wielding of power.


This is a book to take on holiday to an island, where the wind and sea meet. This is a book of wildness which should be enjoyed in peace in a cottage, with the sound and smell of the sea surrounding it… with a fire in the hearth and a natural candle burning on the mantelpiece.




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Published by Faber and Faber.

I am three quarters through this and I am loving it.

Alice Mistlethwaite has been sent to a boarding school in Scotland. It is unlike most boarding schools I have ever heard of (fictional or otherwise), however, there are similarities. Those traditions, that no-one outside the school know about, for example, which can trip up the unwary – and can affect burgeoning friendships. The groups of friends that fluctuate as promises are broken, and made. Where one might inadvertently help, or hinder another… those little vignettes of life that affect everyone living together.

This is wonderful. To quote page 137 and the start of chapter 18 – ‘This is a story of a girl who lost her mother, and her home and is afraid of losing her father and needed to find herself.’

It is also the story of two boys who make friends with the girl, who lost her mother. Jesse, whose older brothers tickle and tease him, and always loses the First Day Challenge and Fergus, the clever one, who sometimes just doesn’t think

Small incidents and phrases throughout the book have made me laugh.

One of Alice’s letters home ends with the rather wonderful statement

‘In Year Nine, we get to kill the hens.’

Stupendous – for everyone, boy, girl, adult or child – everyone will get something from this.



Published by Faber and Faber.

Max is a retiring sort of chap and spends much of his time making small intricate little models. His inspiration is the schools groundsman, Mr Darrow, whose models are perfect. His models are so detailed they include the stairs, and doorways inside the houses. So at every opportunity Max tries to spend time with him, learning how to add those all important little touches, however, his never quite reach Mr Darrow’s beautiful pieces.

Max goes to boarding school, and shares a room with another boy, who seems friendly enough, however, Max isn’t a great one for making friends. In fact he’s never really had one, but they get along well enough to share a room. Sasha is one of the cool pupils – with a crowd of friends always around him, so Max is a little cautious.

Max’s deafness certainly doesn’t help him make friends and he is used to being shouted at, which results in his hearing aids giving off high pitched wines…which are painful. When other pupils do make the effort to make friends with him, he is used to their drifting away, when he isn’t quite quick enough to respond. He can lip-read, but only if he is able to see them straight on…

This is a rather different story of another world. With elements of Gulliver’s Travels (Swift) & The Borrowers (Norton) – it is a story of friendship, war, and playing to your strengths…


There is also a pet flea named Excelsior in the book. What more could anyone want?


Image result for venetian games jones constable

Published by Constable

This is the Crime / Thriller Book of the Month for Waterstones (March). I don’t often read adult books – spending my time, as many of you will know, reading books for the world’s younger readers. This attracted me though, because it is set in Venice – and I have a sort of love affair with La Serrenissima.

Page one made me laugh and I was laughing throughout this wonderful mystery – absolutely wonderful. A superb intricate crime novel, mixed with humour and, what is more, it is a brilliant observational piece about people.

I love the attitude of the principle character/hero – so much so I have ordered the second book Vengeance in Venice, which isn’t out yet – (April 2018), and I can’t wait. Philip Gwynne Jones knows Venice (he lives there…) – and, as is always the way when someone writes a book set in a city they know, they take you deep into its depths – and this happens with The Venetian Game.

Nathan works as an honorary consul in Venice. It starts with him attempting to assist the Mills family who have had their passports stolen. I enjoyed the altercation he has with Mr Mills immensely. The story really develops, however, when a man asks for a small insignificant looking parcel to be kept in the consular safe. Not wanting to be too difficult, but being aware that a consular office isn’t exactly a left luggage office, he asks,  what is in the parcel.  On being told that isn’t something he needs to know, he advises the gentleman to go elsewhere…

Nathan also ‘owns’ a rather glorious cat – a cat with attitude – what more can I say?