Archives for the month of: June, 2018

Image result for pages and co anna james

Published by Harper Collins.

‘…do you ever feel like you read books, like more than other people?’

I have just spent the day just lying in the garden and reading this small proof.

Its brilliant.

Harper Collins should sell it along side copies of Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll) and The Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett).

Perhaps in a slip case.

Should you follow my advice and buy and read a copy of Pages and Co, the reason for this suggestion will be obvious.

It isn’t necessary for the reader to have read them, but you may enjoy Pages and Co a little more if you understand the references, and know about the characters. To those and quite a few other books too. If you haven’t read them – not to worry, you really don’t need to, but may find when you have finished Pages and Co, that you will want to…

This is a book of books, if ever there was one.

I always knew that libraries and in particular bookshops, were important, slightly magical places. I’m a member of the British Library and am now aware of the British Underlibrary as well and would be honoured to be a member of that too, and would love to work there. I have worked in bookshops for about 25 years all in – so I know about how magical they can be. Perhaps my experience would assist in my application….

This is stupendous. A celebration, if you would, of good writing,  good stories – simply marvellous. As I said, its a magical book of books.

Buy it when it comes out in September (2018) – you may find that it is available before publication – so its worth placing your orders…now. Place them with us at Waterstones Finchley Road O2, there’s just a chance we may have Anna James for an event – so signed copies may be available. Certainly worth the time and trouble.

I owe Amabel for this – she brought the book back from a Harper Collins Publisher’s ‘do’ this week, as she thought it was ‘for me.’ How right she was/is.

3rd August – NB:

My dad, has just mentioned that the illustration above, isn’t one of the proof I read. It has not title on the ‘boards’. He said I must change the picture. Instead, I thought I would leave it – it has such similarity, that I don’t think it matters.

My father is a perfectionist. Which means that leaving this as it was would not do. Sadly so am I, but in the interests of being ‘Sue’ – there is this warning. The picture above will not be the same as that you will find on the book, when you receive your copy!


Image result for joan procter dragon doctor anderson press

Published by Anderson Press.

I am ashamed to say I had never heard of Joan Procter (1897 – 1931), and only picked a copy of this up at work, when I noticed the, frankly SUPERB illustrations – they are STUNNING.

Image result for joan procter dragon

Joan Procter was a curator at the Natural History Museum, then went on to design the Reptile House at London Zoo and to study dragons. Zoologist, herpetologist and all round brilliant naturalist – and she had a ‘thing’ for Komodo Dragons too! I would have loved to have met Joan Procter – she lived a life I’d have loved to have had.  Sadly a very short life – either way, she died before I was born, and my Dad was only one. So even if she had lived a life of four score and ten – I still wouldn’t have been able to talk to her. Never-the-less it would have been good. If there is a next world (there had better be. There are a lot of people now deceased I’d love to meet), I hope to have the chance… You never know.

The book is part of the celebration of women’s achievements that has become rather prevalent this year. This though is by far my favourite book of this new ‘genre’. The emphasis isn’t on the fact that she was a woman, but on what she did. I am beginning to feel a little jaded about so many books emphasising women’s achievements as though its a surprise that they could (and can) achieve so much. It would be good to have some balance too. This, though is not the place for this discussion. Image result for joan procter dragon

Felicita’s illustrations – are quite sublime. Exactly right for this book. The pages are not art paper, but matt – the colours are subtle and the book is exquisite. I am ordering a copy of the hardback, which I believe is still available. Why we were only sent one copy of the paper back, I will never understand. It could be sold from Picture Books, from Reference and of course it could be placed along side the Rebel Girl books.

They may have sold phenomenally well, however, this book deserves to. A really special informative and beautifully illustrated book.

Buy it.

Image result for joan procter dragon

Image result for hilaire belloc lion

The Lion

The Lion, the Lion, he dwells in the Waste,

He has a big head and a very small waist:

But his shoulders are stark, and his jaws they are grim,

And a good little child will not play with him.


Image result for hilaire belloc tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger, on the other hand,

Is kittenish and mild,

And makes a pretty playfellow

For any little child.

And mothers of large families

(Who claim to common sense)

Will find a tiger well repays

The trouble and expense.

Following on from my last post (see A.E. Housman The African Lion), I had forgotten Hilaire Belloc’s poems about lions (and tigers) see above. He also wrote the story of Jim, who if you remember, got eaten by a lion. See separate post.  I always did like cats.


Image result for quentin blake lion


To meet a bad lad on the African waste

Is a thing that a lion enjoys;

But he rightly and strongly objects to the taste

Of good and uneatable boys.

When he bites off a piece of a boy of that sort

He spits it right out of his mouth,

And retires with a loud and dissatisfied snort

To the east, or the west, or the south.

So lads of good habits, on coming across

A lion, need feel no alarm,

For they know they are sure to escape with the loss

Of a leg, or a head, or an arm.


The above illustration is by Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are fame. I think it suits very well. The poem comes from The New Oxford Book of Children’s Verse (1998) that I recently found on my shelves and have been perusing. I thought it rather fun. On looking at my poetry entries on this blog, it seems I have a ‘thing’ for small children being eaten by lions. It is most peculiar. Perhaps I should do a book of them.



Image result for mirror magic claire fayers


Published by Macmillan

‘It’s better to be shaped by our kindness than our fears’

Two worlds separated by mirrors. Mirrors are strange things. Recently watching Flog It Trade Secrets (6 am M-F BBC 2) I was informed that you can check whether a mirror is old, by applying the tip of a pencil on it. If there is a little space between that and its mirror image, then it is an older piece. If they meet, it is a modern mirror. I haven’t tried this yet – and I have been wondering why this would be the case. Where is the reflection? What makes it? They are fascinating.

Of course there is the famous ‘mirror’ book by Lewis Carroll – Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there, which was published in the 1871 a few years after Alice in Wonderland. This though, is a thoroughly modern story. 

This is the story of two towns. Wyse and the magical town of Unworld.

There’s a covenant between the two worlds, and people can move from one to the other, when invited.  Except some of these mirrors are failing, and are no longer portals. Things are changing and not for the better.

The book is full of somewhat eccentric characters, enchantments, skeletons, traitors and a book – a book that can foretell the future; sentient and full of opinions. Ava meets Howell, on the other side of a mirror, and they begin an adventure to find out about why the magical mirrors are no longer working.

This is a new title by Claire Fayers – she has written three others, but this is perhaps the darkest.  The cover doesn’t, I think reflect this – a book of evil doings if there ever was one…

Image result for polka dot shop

Published by Chicken House

Andy’s mother runs ‘New to U’ a second hand clothing shop in the village. She has taken to bringing home new items for her daughter to wear. Second-hand new. Andy meanwhile dreams of dresses. New dresses. Handbags. Shoes and underwear that’s not ‘pre-owned’…

She’s the only pupil in her school who continues to come to school in uniform. Recently they have been encouraged to show their individuality by choosing their own clothes for school.  Most pupils spend their weekends buying new clothes – trying to find that something no-one else has seen.

Andy though, is given a pile of pre-loved clothes, a muddle of clothing, vintage that doesn’t suit…certainly clothing that no-one else would give wardrobe room…

Then Andy finds a bag of quality designer clothes, stuffed in a bag at the back of the shop and then Andy’s mum takes a break to see her mum and her sister and Andy takes the chance to change everything…

This is a touching story about fashion, friendship, depression, love and business acumen!

I’m not quite sure if this is wise. If I start reviewing chocolate, I must to do it properly, sample them. Perhaps I won’t think about this too much.

I bought from work a selection box of Divine Chocolate, the Divine Chocolate Tasting Set one lunch time. I had need of chocolate. It had been one of those mornings where things hadn’t quite gone to plan. Sainsbury’s is no real distance from work, being just at the bottom of the escalator. They are often busy, though, and sometimes the need for chocolate, can be urgent and so, I find that I purchase from work, when the need drives.

The first bar from the tasting set that I tried was the Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Sea Salt. I enjoyed it so much that I determined to write a post about it, and kept the wrapper. Just 15 g. of quality chocolate, with the distinct flavour of sea salt and toffee. Sumptuous…of the other six flavours I have also enjoyed the Creamy White with Strawberries and the 70% Dark Chocolate with Raspberries. I have not finished the finished the set yet – eating just one each break… The quality is obvious.

The Divine Chocolate Tasting Set retails at £6.00 –

I have found that I need less quality chocolate to sate my appetite than bars of the general sort, though all chocolate (well most), have their place…


Image result for tardis  gif

Published by BBC Books / Penguin Random House / Target Books

Dr Who. Iconic – brilliant and British.

Secretly, I rather hope there is a Dr out there – not necessarily to just protect us from the Daleks, Nestene Consciousness and all the other aliens out there…but also from ourselves…our politicians…

That aside I have always enjoyed watching Dr Who – especially, when small, after persuading my Dad  that it was ‘the last in the series…‘ and to come and be with us as the Daleks tried once more to take over the world. We were always safe if Dad was there…More recently I have enjoyed the new regenerations (also with Dad, though sometimes afterwards on the telephone) – starting with Christopher Eccleston… though Matt Smith was definitely not one of my favourites. He looked too young…and was obviously younger than I, which seems incongruous – however legitimate, for the Dr.

Image result for doctor who rose bookRecently ‘they’ have published a few of these more recent stories as books – and the first I read was this – Rose.

I hadn’t read a Dr Who story for a very long time and found that I loved it more than watching it on TV. Perhaps because I had seen it, but also because there seemed to be more background in the book than the programme. Then again it might have been that I just missed the detail whilst watching it.

I can highly recommend these. They are not, it has to be said ‘literature’.  They are pure fun – for those of us who enjoy Dr Who…for those of us who want a little light entertainment…to laugh out loud on the tube and to secretly hope that there is someone out there…who can whisper just six words….

My Dr? Probably Jon Pertwee – the third regeneration…


Image result for the book of boy murdock


Published by Chicken House

The key to Hell picks all locks.

A tale of Heaven and Hell. This is a story of medieval intrigue. Priceless relics, good and evil and an hunch-back goat herder. Oh and some goats, a stroppy donkey, a pack of dogs, geese, wolves and a phlegmatic and rather sleepy cat, amongst others. Boy is taken from the only home he can remember, leaving his herd behind, to travel with a pilgrim to Rome. The year is 1350 a year of change, devastation and fear. Things are not as they seem and Secundus seems abrupt and frightening when Boy begins his journey. As he goes he finds that people are not what they seem either. Ashamed and fearful he keeps his hump hidden, never touching it, and keeping himself out of the way. Secundus wonders at Boy’s relationship with the animals they meet, but is driven to reach St Paul’s Church before he dies; determined to gather Saint Peter’s relics as he travels. Determined to reach heaven the only way he knows how.

The different animal characters in the book reflect the those you might come across – the cat, confident that all will be well, the hounds, the pack of hounds working together as one entity…

This is a super book. Its perfect – the language is just that bit medieval, to give the story colour, whilst at the same time the mysteries that surround Boy and Secundus entice the reader into a superbly written small volume.

Each chapter is headed with wonderful illustrations (I’m not sure if they are wood engravings), that look the sort you might just find on a medieval manuscript – just right for this, and the map at the beginning is perfect, with an angel and devil supporting the scroll at each corner.

This is a beautiful medieval tale.

My only disappointment, I’m afraid, is the cover of this paperback. The book was first published in America – with the cover shown below – which reflects the illustrations in the text and the story. The new cover, doesn’t do it for me, I’m afraid.  I wish they had stuck with American version here. I will have to try and see if I can get a hardback copy from the States. Though I’m afraid I won’t be buying it from Amazon…. Perhaps my aunt in California will be able to get me a copy…since Waterstones doesn’t recognise the hardback’s ISBN. Sigh.

Truly a  wondrous book.

Lastly – a small note, my colleague Amabel, who works with me in Finchley Road O2, really must read this – I think she and her children would love it…

.Image result for the book of boy murdock   Cover image - The Book of Boy



Image result for we are young cat clarke quercus

Published by Quercus

Definitely one for my older readers.

This book is about music. A band.

Friendship and families – but not necessarily in that order.

It’s about a pact, promises and a potential record label.

It is the story  of manipulation and about when to say,

‘Thank you, but no.’

It’s about a guitar and trust.

Fathers and step fathers and mothers too.

This is a knot of a book.

Why we say we are fine, when we aren’t. Sometimes till it’s too late.

The reasons why we do the things we do.

This is an emotional roller-coaster of a book.