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Image result for The Unquiet spirits macbird

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.


Image result for chaos of now lange faber

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…



Image result for the house with chicken legs

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!

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.



Image result for what lexie did shevah chicken house

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!

Image result for out of the blue cameron macmillan

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.

Image result for clownfish

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.