Archives for the month of: April, 2018

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Published by Greystones Press

The Tudors. I once informed a year of Sussex House pupils that History begins with the Tudors. There was silence for a few minutes and then a tentative hand went up. ‘Mrs Barker…there was lots of history before the Tudors… wasn’t there…?’ So I had to explain to the boys (and Mrs Barker), that to me my interest in History began with the Tudors.

This is set with the back drop of the death of Queen Katherine (‘divorced’), Queen Anne Boleyn (‘beheaded’) on the throne, and Henry the VIII beginning to take a serious interest in Jane Seymour (‘died’). Kit’s parents died in the plague, and by a stroke of good fortune he now works with the Ravenmaster at the Tower, at one of its darkest times in history.

I have only reached page 80 – but I am thoroughly enjoying this layered story – history with a good seasoning of fantasy. The Tudor story – is (perhaps) the best of English History – this mix is wonderful.

There is no question, in my mind, that Queen Anne Boleyn was innocent of what she was accused. No-one would surely have chanced such a thing in her position. Then again, perhaps it was only after ‘her’ history, that the warnings were so clear… It rather depends on the people, the characters…the intrigue was knotted so much, that I am sure that some of the finer details of what actually happened, disappeared in the mists of time.

Kit is favoured by Queen Anne Boleyn, just when she needed friends. A dangerous position to be in….particularly when he begins to pass on messages around the tower…

This is a wonderful mix of fact and fantasy – enjoy it.

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Published by Collins Crime Club

I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps because the original books are well written, ‘good’ crime, and a puzzle, if you like. I can’t say I’m often emotionally involved with Holmes and Watson – but I know the stories moderately well. There are a number of authors who have tried to continue the lives of Holmes and Watson, some with more success than others. One author has written the Young Sherlock Holmes series (Andrew Lane 9/12) which are very good and deal with the detective as a boy.

I hadn’t come across Bonnie Macbird before and only spotted Unquiet Spirits as I walked through Fiction the other day. The cover attracted my attention, almost a shadow depiction of Holmes against a backdrop of a map. I picked it up, and started it in my lunch break…a mystery worthy of Conan Doyle.

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This is the second in the series – and I have just bought the first, Art in the Blood…to follow this – they are that good.

Adult fiction on the whole doesn’t have illustrations. Sometimes there is a device at the beginning of a chapter, but not often.

One of the pleasures of both of these books are the Drop Cap Designs. For those who don’t know, these are decorated first letters of the first word in each chapter. In medieval times they would perhaps have been coloured and gilded. Both of these books have drop cap designs and they reflect an aspect of the chapter to which they have been given – they are in essence tiny illustrations and are superbly executed. So much so I looked to see if they had been accredited – and in the colophon there is an acknowledgement – Mark Mazers should be extremely pleased with his contribution to these – they add the ‘cherry on the top of the cake’. I hope the publisher appreciates the work he has done and will continue to use him – they make the books rather special.

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Published by Faber & Faber

Cyber bullying. Eli Bennett isn’t into cyber bullying, but he is into hacking, just to show he can get into sites – he scared himself once when he released information which resulted in a shooting. Luckily no one was hurt, but since then, he’s been careful, removing, as much as possible any trace of his electronic footprint.

When Jordan Bishop died as a result of bullying, both cyber and ‘live’, their school cracked down on the use of computer programs which began to inhibit their general use – which has wide reaching repercussions. This is a tale of system failure, jealousy, shame, and cowardice…its a story of a young man trying to control a monster he has developed before its too late.

This is another brilliant story from Erin Lange – all Erin’s books are punchy – with a tale to tell – a reflection on life and how people behave towards one another, when the proverbial chips are down…

Another brilliant one – particularly for those computer people out there, of which I am not one!

The cover – is that of the proof, so I’m not sure if this will reflect the actual one the book will have…



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Published by Usborne

This reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones’ book Howl’s Moving Castle – after all there aren’t many buildings that move about in literature and I certainly recommend both.

A tale with a Gothic flavour – a young girl is in training. She lives a life almost alone, with just her grandmother as a human companion, and she is never allowed to move far from the sentient house, the house with chicken legs, which keeps an careful eye on her. Her only friend is a jackdaw – however, Marinka dreams of changing her destiny. She doesn’t want to follow her Grandmother and continue her life and help the dead. She wants her own, and she wants to have friends, live friends who aren’t just there for one evening -before they move through to the world beyond.

Clever, well written, and a story of dreams and hopes…marvellous.

Enjoy it!