Archives for the month of: August, 2018

Image result for the list of real things orion

Published by Orion Books

I am beginning to have a ‘thing’ about Sarah Moore Fitzgerald. So far I have loved every one I have read.

What is real? A question we often ask small children, in an attempt to curb their often enthusiastic imaginations. We ask if it actually happened. Was it something they saw with their own eyes? All well and good, until you find that just perhaps, what they have seen, which you believe not to be real, actually might be. Who says that we are right to bring these flights of fancy down? As long as they learn the ‘truth’ and what a lie is – what does it matter? Many years ago I knew an elderly lady who informed me that those I love will be waiting for me after I die – by that I mean my non-human friends.

I rather like to think she was right. Who’s to say that she wasn’t? I hope she met all her dogs and cat when she died. She certainly believed it. There is no more reason to disbelieve our meeting people and ‘other animals’ we have loved, after we die, than there is to believe we do. It could be Grandpa was laughing at my attempt to cut bread as thin as he used to do, and perhaps trying to help…we just don’t know.

The loss of anyone can be haunting – sibling, parent, friend, or ‘pet’ (which is such an inadequate word). Recently I have been haunted by Pakka…I keep seeing her out of the corner of my eye, she’s there, and then she’s gone. Who’s to say she isn’t really there. Trying to guide me and young Sakka to a greater understanding. I might think it was my new friend, except the colour is different; Sakka is more toffee than Pakka was, she’s a beautiful rich caramel. Pakka though, was a gorgeous sandy shade. She was my familiar, friend and confident. Intelligent and took no nonsense from anyone. Canine or otherwise. This one, well…she’s young, you know.

This book is about death. Life too. About belief. Hope, families and siblings. It’s about finding out who you are, what you believe is important and how all of that changes.

Its also about younger sisters. I don’t have one of those. I am one. I am the one who asks the impossible questions, the perhaps, a little mad one.

This is another wonderful book from the Fitzgerald stable – another one to disappear into, one that you won’t want to let go.


Image result for the humans haig

Published by Canongate Books

My friend Martina, who sadly no longer works with us, suggested I read this one. Perhaps the third Matt Haig volume I have read. Sadly the copy I bought is now wrinkled and slightly bowed, having fallen in the bath.  I don’t often take books into the bath, for just this reason. If I do, I usually have at least two copies – one for bath-reading, the second for keeping in mint condition to be read with care.

This is a book about humanity. Our quest for happiness and how, fundamentally we get it all wrong. The stuff we keep in our wallets, purses, back pockets, behind the settee, in jars, tins and the like just doesn’t do it. Relationships often do, but we keep looking too far ahead – we don’t realise that the past has gone, the future never arrives. It is now that is important.

Essentially this is about an alien visiting the earth. Not, though, as a tourist.  He is found wandering around the streets of Cambridge, naked, in the guise of Professor Andrew Martin. The real Professor Martin solved one of the great conundrums of mathematics, which would in time have far reaching consequences…not necessarily a good thing…at least in some eyes. This Professor Andrew Martin is here for one purpose only – to destroy all record of this achievement. Including all reference to it, whether on paper, computers or by word of mouth. He is here to murder the professor’s wife, his son, and anyone else who might have gained knowledge of the professor’s discovery.

Thought provoking. Touching and rather wonderful.

Image result for julian mermaid walker books

Published by Walker Books

This is simply a book of joy, and absolutely beautifully illustrated. With few, but the right words and stunning illustrations it tells the story of Julian, who at the pool, meets some mermaids. As they go home Julian asks his Nana, if she saw the mermaids.

“I saw them, honey.” and she goes on to say that she’s going to take a bath.

Julian has an idea.


Image result for julian mermaid

The pictures are beautifully rendered. Faces accurate and wonderfully expressive. This is a book about being who you want to be. It is subtle and beautiful. Something for every one – it isn’t just about being a mermaid, its about being who you are, whatever that might be – that everyone can be and are unique. A story of non-conformity.

Nanas like Julian’s are, I’m afraid, a rare, but very special type of person. This celebrates them as much as mermaids…



I am so proud. Thank you all: has just beaten last year’s figures: in 2017 it was visited 5,626 times by 4,240 people and I wrote 96 posts. This year, as of now, on the 19th of August there were 5,627 visits and 4,468 guests and I have only written 73 posts – so far!

Just before my birthday too!

Thank you all for visiting, viewing and I hope enjoying!

Image result for The snowman morpurgo

Published by Puffin

Raymond Briggs wrote The Snowman – well actually the picture book was published back in 1978 – It was a story without text.

Then Aled Jones sang that song, when it was released as a film in 1982

This though, is a review of Michael Morpurgo’s re-‘writing’ of the book. It will be available as a chapter book with beautiful soft illustrations by Robin Shaw this October.

I’m rather surprised this hasn’t been done before, but there you go. It seems that it is the 40th anniversary of the original book. Michael Morpurgo has written a book that reflects the magic of the original. Though I do remember a scarf being left behind…I must read the original again. The tone is just right for those who enjoy a proper story at bed time and are looking for more than a book of pictures.

A book for Christmas…

Actually, he sang it rather well…looking at it now. Then, it was played everywhere…This rendition was recorded from Top of the Pops…now there’s a name to conjure with.

Image result for maddy alone pushkin

Published by Pushkin

My big sister (whom I have mentioned before), would have loved these. Actually she would probably love them now.

A series of books for those who are into the theatre, drama and performance.

Pamela Brown is sadly deceased, however, Pushkin books are reprinting these rather lovely books – and they keep sending me the proofs…I have just finished Maddy Alone, enjoyed The Swish of the Curtain some time ago and yesterday I received a proof of Golden Pavements.

The Swish of the Curtain relates how seven children get together to organise and perform in their own theatre. In the second volume Maddy Alone, the older children have left home and are now attending drama school, leaving Maddy behind. She is disappointed to hear they wouldn’t be returning at the end of term and this precipitates a state of siege – much to her mother’s frustration. The story of what happens when a Maddy finds out about a local legend and she makes a friend is when the story really begins. It is  perhaps a traditional story, but generally better written than many, and when Maddy runs away…

I shall enjoy Golden Pavements, I’m certain and I hope and trust the fourth in the quartet, Blue Door Venture will be sent to me soon too…

These were originally published in the 1940s – they are good, solid stories about things that can happen. No fantasy here…nothing nasty – what I refer to as ‘friendly’ books. They are, I suppose, from another time, maybe more innocent, but none the less the books are a joy.

I’m not sure what I did with my proof of The Swish of the Curtain.I shall have to see if I can find it. Clare is following this blog and may well want to read it…

There is a lovely quote about The Swish of the Curtain allegedly by Dame Maggie Smith, no less –

“I wanted to act before I read this book,” Dame Maggie Smith once said of Pamela Brown’s classic children’s novel The Swish of the Curtain, “and afterwards there was no stopping me.”

Well, after that – this is obviously a ‘must-buy’ series…


Image result for sold to the man with the tin leg hodder

Published by Hodder

This small paperback was purchased because I have been watching the odd antiques programme (Antiques Road Show, Antiques Road Trip and the various versions of Bargain Hunt too), on television for a very long time. The author is one of the antique dealers often working as one of the experts, giving advice and sometimes ‘competing’.

I enjoy learning a little about antiques, but I also enjoy watching the auctions. How the auctioneer entices, cajoles, encourages and frankly manipulates the bidders into going just a little bit further. I think my fascination results from my book selling experience. In particular my hand selling techniques, for want of a better term.

I do not hand sell books to customers for whom the book wouldn’t be right. I have on several occasions taken a book from a customer and given them another to have instead – particularly when the recipient is going to be one of the younger readers out there. Adults I’m afraid have to see to themselves. I will though, entice, cajole, encourage and sometimes manipulate my customers, if I think the book is right, is a good one and I know that they will miss out if they don’t have it.

This is a book of Philip Serrell’s first forays into the world of antiques – with all the characters and incidents that you would expect. It reminds me a little of the James Herriot veterinary books – full of small stories of the trials and tribulations, in this case of an inexperienced prospective antiques dealer.

Odd phrases stand out – ‘…which had left my confidence as low as a dachshund’s tummy…’

A book of fakes, characters and livestock – its a lovely dip into another life…


Image result for Bone Talk Courlay

Published by David Fickling Books.

I’m not surprised that this has been published by David Fickling Books. They often pick those books that go a little further, are a little bit more than the usual.

Some of you may be aware that I am interested in Madagascar. Both the animals, but also the anthropology. The more I learn about the people and tribes of Madagascar, the more I have fallen for the country. They are a fascinating ‘people’, if I can generalise like that, about an island with so many different beliefs and lives. Fascinating and awe inspiring.

This new book by Candy Courlay is set in the Philippines. A tale of a conflict of nations, of beliefs, traditional and new world concepts, sciences and understanding.

A story of a boy, who just wants to become a man. To celebrate that and to be someone his tribe and his father can be proud of.

This is an extraordinary story – which reminded me of Madagascar and the conflicts and problems that that country faces.

This is moving and is important. A book of differences. A book of people.

A book about responsibility.

A book about who people are.




Image result for The Beetle Collector's Handbook (Beetle Boy

Published by Scholastic.

This could be described as just an ‘extra’ book – one to accompany Maya Leonard’s Beetle Boy trilogy, that has swept the world over the last few years. Similar to those slim books that are published along side the Harry Potter series.

I would though, have to disagree. This is so much more.

It is a reference book (a real one) for all those newly inspired lovers of all things coleoptera and also for those who have known and loved beetles all their lives.

It is, frankly, beautifully illustrated by Carim Nahaboo.

That is a bit of an understatement.

It is full of interesting facts, figures and as I said, some superb illustrations.

It seems to have been owned by Darkus (from the Beetle Boy trilogy for those of you who still haven’t read the books) – and so there are some ‘soiled’ and, or pages that have been ‘written on’. I am glad to say that these additions haven’t affected the illustrations…

One thing to note, for some reason that I can never understand, the publishers have (as so many do) decided that the book requires a sticker on the cover to advertise the Beetle Boy connection. When removed, this damages the cover, lifting the red colour. Which is a pity. The sticker wasn’t necessary. I have a first edition tucked away for me at work (I haven’t had time to buy it yet), but hope that perhaps some will be published without this. It may mean I have to buy two. One first edition, the other a later one.

On the positive side I can confirm that

Maya Leonard is coming to Waterstones O2

on Sunday the 24th of November

to our Christmas Book Festival.

She will be signing copies of this gorgeous book.

Come and meet her and talk all things beetle!


I have just looked up Carim Nahaboo and have found the following site:

Purchases can be made of postcards of everything from mammals to – yes invertebrates including beetles…and there are some silver examples that are sometimes available to buy, by discerning coleoptera lovers…




Related image

Published by Puffin

Back in April 2015 I wrote a post about the first volume of this series: A Murder Most Unladylike. Since then Robin Stevens has written a further eight volumes. At the moment there are seven full sized books and this one A Murder Most Unladylike Mini Mystery.

This is a small nugget of a book – truly a pocket book. Set around London’s Museums and in particular The British Museum. I am a fan of the British Museum, and in particular the Egyptian Galleries – and this small volume’s denouement occurs in those extraordinary rooms.

It starts with a Treasure Hunt that Daisy’s uncle Felix sets his niece to celebrate her birthday. Which results in a visit to the British Museum and the Rosetta stone…

The story is just 148 pages in length, however, there are some interesting notes about the B.M., Egypt and hieroglyphs and just a snifter, a small mouthful, from Robin Steven’s new book in the series Death in the Spotlight.

If you are fans, or even if you are not – you may be excited to hear that

Robin Stevens

is coming to Waterstones Finchley Road

to sign copies of this new volume on the

28th of October…at 11.30 am!

If you haven’t tried these yet,  I suggest you come and purchase the first volume – A Murder Most Unladylike, and have it signed.

If you are a fan, I have no doubt you will have all the books in the series. Come and buy the latest and meet your favourite author!

We still have a few copies of The Case of the Missing Treasure, which was published for Waterstones and those along with the rest of the series, will be available to be signed and purchased.

I hope to see all of you there and in particular those of you I now think of as Followers of Sue (FOS)!