Archives for category: For 9 – Adult

Image result for max kowalski didn't mean it

Published by Puffin Books

Not many big brothers would hold a funeral for a desiccated bifurcated dead worm for a younger sister.  This is, however, one of the first things that the hero of this story does at the beginning of this book. He is his father’s eldest child. He is ‘stepping up’ – taking on the responsibility of his family, when his father disappears.

This is a story of families. Of siblings. Of hiding out. Sticking together and responsibilities…a tale of a trip to Wales, of learning to climb, a pink rolling suitcase stuffed with money and a mystery…

I haven’t finished it yet – but it keeps distracting me from what I should be doing….


Image result for malamander thomas taylor walker

Published by Walker Books

Why I never received a proof of this, I don’t know – I thought I was on everyone’s list for pre-publication Children’s books. I must have fallen off a list…

I have only just started this – it arrived at work today and I nicked one to read whilst having my lunch – it is wonderful.

Lost and found. Lots of things get lost – there’s a big Lost Property Office run by T.F.L. which reputedly has some very strange things in it.  I have a transparent box in which I keep lost property for a month – mostly odd toys and the odd glove. Harrod’s had a very efficient and very busy system when I worked there… Generally the items that I took down to the Lost Property Department were things like glasses, gloves, hats, purses and once a wallet that was bursting at the seams (it couldn’t close), with £50 notes, all on their edge, forcing the opening so that it bulged apart by about three inches… I never knew of a person, though to be left, or for that matter to be found in such a place…

This is about a young Lost Property Officer working in a hotel. He looks after lost things. There is though, a mystery around the town and the hotel. A baby that was left (before his time) and the parent’s of that child went missing…leaving just two pairs of shoes and some luggage – now no longer safely stored in his office…

I am LOVING this – and won’t say more at the moment (I can’t, I haven’t finished it yet) – but I can tell you it has some fantastic characters in it – and I’ve only just reached page 44 – I can’t wait to find out about the man with the hook, or about Lady Kraken, Mr Mollusc, or the Belgium chef and of course what happens to Violet (and what happened to her)…let alone Herbie….

There are fantastic pictures of fish throughout the book – vert wild looking and chapter headings illustrations as well. This, I am certain, is a book that everyone will want to read…

It is now 08.51 and I’m going to tweet about this quickly and go to bed, to curl with this very good book and find out what happens next…and the answers to those tantalising questions!

Image result for lenny's book of everything pushkin

Published by Pushkin Books

Holy Batman!

Lenny’s mother wins a competition at the beginning of this hugely touching and emotionally charged brilliant volume. She is one of the lucky winners of the Burrell’s Build-it-at-Home Encyclopedia set.

Some of my followers may not know what an Encyclopedia is, or, I should say was. Before the Internet existed you could buy sets of books that contained everything you need to know about everything. A dictionary in a way of everything from the universe, through wildlife, geography, languages, people, sciences, philosophies, religions…everything there was to know was contained in these sets of books. A famous example was the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which was first published (the Internet tells me) in 1768. The last time it was printed (it is now available on the Web), was in 2010 and it was bound in 32 volumes and it would have been printed in a very small font too.

So Lenny’s mother won a set of these and this book is punctuated with letters between her and the General Sales Manager who, as is the way of the world, rather hopes that she can gain some sales out of this situation.

Lenny mean while becomes entranced with beetles…her brother with birds of prey…and birds in general. Every Friday the children run down to get the latest instalment, the latest letter.  The books become point of importance, of reference, if you will, to the family, and particularly for Lenny’s brother who seems to be perpetually growing and doesn’t seem to be able to stop.

This is a wonderful book. It deals very sensitively with the big questions of life and death. It is an emotional volume, but one that shouldn’t be missed. It’s a book that EVERYONE should read.



Published by Nosy Crow.

Our eldests are heroes.

Our eldests are special.

Our eldests are brave.

Shame upon any who holds back an eldest

And Shame upon their kin.

Most of all,

Shame upon the wanderers.

Let Peace settle over the Quiet War,

Truly and forever.

‘My big sister, is bigger than me’… I am sure there is a poem that starts with that phrase. This is a story set around where you stand in the family: Oldest, Youngest or a Middler. My big sister was a Middler. I don’t think she felt the same way as Maggie does in this fantastic tale of deceit. I have never asked her. Perhaps I should.

Jed, is an Eldest – so a hero. He’s special. He’s brave. Trig is four years Maggie’s junior, the Youngest and Maggie?  Well she’s not important at all. She’s a Middler. She won’t be doing anything interesting. She’s not important. She will live safely. Her life will be secure, quiet…unlike her brother’s.  She isn’t brave (she’s a Middler), she’s not special (she’s a Middler) and she certainly isn’t a hero. Eldests are heroes, special and brave. They go to camp…

Maggie begins to realise that things aren’t quite as she has always been led to believe. Perhaps it isn’t so wonderful to leave, seemingly never to return, to fight the Quiet War. Perhaps there’s more to this then she thought.

Fennis Wick is protected from the Quiet War by the Boundary; protected by all the Eldests who go to fight, to keep their families safe. Beyond the Boundary – there’s wilderness, lawlessness and there are the dirty, dangerous and deceitful Wanderers

I’m not sure I am as brave as Maggie. Though thinking about it, I am certain that my big sister (you know, the one that is bigger than me), would certainly have done something of a similar line as Maggie and on reflection – I hate inequality and lies…and I have been known to say what I think and to stand up for what I believe in – so perhaps we two would fight for what is right…certainly to protect my brother…siblings are so important, so special.

A dystopian story about lies, deceit, families, friendships and siblings…

Eldest. Middler. Youngest.

Dirty, dangerous and deceitful wanderers.

A stupendous book about malfeasance,

thinking for yourself and

standing up for what is right.

A book for now.

Simply one of the best books I have read in ages…



NB. I have just looked up that poem – and find it’s by Spike Milligan and entitled: My Sister Laura. I haven’t read it in years…




The One and Only Ivan: Katherine Applegate

Published by Harper Collins.

This was published in 2012, so can’t be said to be a new title. I had a feeling that I had heard of it when I saw it on the trolley at work, a couple of days ago. I hadn’t read it though and wasn’t aware of the impact it would have.

Ivan is a silver backed gorilla. This is his story. In places it makes me ashamed to be a member of the Homo Sapiens race. We seem to be able to do so much good, but most of the time we don’t. We stand apart or actively behave in a way that no other creature would. Then suddenly we do the right thing.

This is Ivan’s story, almost, but not quite in his own words. Its moving. Funny. It made me cry. It made me wonder about us. So involved with ourselves. So little understanding. This is a story with heart, the heart of a Silverback Gorilla. They have large hearts. It’s a story for the brave, for those who think out of the box. For those who need to know. Its the story of friendship, a promise and of hope. A story of a Silverback, two elephants, a dog and a child who looks, a child, who sees. Its wonderful – a book you will never forget – a book that looks to the future. What’s more, its based on a true story.

Katherine Applegate lives in California. I wish she didn’t. It would be so much more convenient to have her living here. The pond is a rather large expanse for an author just to pop-across to sign some books. None-the-less – this book is going to be one of my SBOTM – at Waterstones Finchley Road O2 for June. I will, though have copies to sell once I can get the book in again – hopefully by the end of this week – it is one that should be in stock permanently.

On searching the Internet for a picture to illustrate this post, I have found there are indicators that this is to be made into a film/movie – READ THE BOOK FIRST. It isn’t out yet – but I believe that you will regret not doing so, if you don’t. It is a simple tale, but one that you need to read.


Image result for bodacious shepherd cat

Published by Harper Collins

I received this through the post, from my oldest friend who lives in Cork, Ireland. It is of Irish decent. I have always liked the Irish (particularly this one) – and this is a superb book. It reminds me a little of the Derek Tangye stories set in Cornwall, I think, that I used to read many years ago.

This though, is set in Co. Kilkenny, Ireland on a sheep farm ( Zwartbles). Bodacious is the chief feline who oversees the work of the farm, from the dosing of the lambs in spring, keeping the rats and mice at bay, ensuring the eggs are collected from the egg-makers, walking the fields with The Shepherd, and accompanying The Shepherd when she is travelling on the quad bike…amongst other occupations.

This is a rather charming wonderful book of a cat whose responsibilities are taken seriously, with an eye on the wildlife and the stories he has been told: Bodacious’ own story is one to bask in – like a heat lamp…

It is really rather special.

The cat on the cover is credited to the author (along with the black faced sheep on the left), and though it doesn’t state so on the flap, I think the feline sitting with such certainty on the post is Bodacious.

It is a charming tale of an extraordinary cat. I too had an extraordinary cat, which is probably why the book was sent to me. Pakka and I would walk the common, and hunt together…though I think I was probably more of a hindrance.  Particularly when she might have caught a vole / shrew – which I would gain from her and then release. She went down rabbit holes too, whilst I waited ‘up-top’, so I do understand Bodacious’ appreciation of The Shepherd stopping and watching quietly. My new familiar is young still, so our relationship is in the early stages, but we are beginning to understand one another.

Image result for zwartbles crampton

Relationships such as these are to be celebrated. The author, though, seems to have taken this a little further: she has an appreciation and special relationship with most of the creatures that she has come across – this is a joy and a must buy for Christmas.

Though having read about the breed, I’m not sure that I don’t need a Zwartbles rug… Actually I know this to be the case…and Sakka would like it too, I’m sure!







Image result for The glass of Lead and gold funke

Published by Pushkin.

27th September 2018

I don’t know what it is about Pushkin Press, but they seem to publish the most charming and interesting volumes. This reminds me physically, of my favourite of their books, Meet at the Ark at Eight (Hub), also a slight wonderful volume. If you haven’t read it yet, go out and buy it and read it now. At least get a copy ordered. It won’t take long.

Neither will this slim little volume. Illustrated beautifully by the author, it tells the tale of Tabetha, a mudlark in Londra, who works around the river Themse, and is asked to find a glass, which is of sentimental value, no more. Or so the gentleman insists…

This should be tucked into everyone’s stocking. At just 91 printed pages it is slim, but wonderful. A winter tale to read by a fire on Christmas day. It should become a tradition. Pushkin have bound it – so its a little bulkier than ‘Meet’ and so slightly more expensive (£9.99), it is, however, worth every penny.

I did contact Pushkin and they have promised that if Cornelia should decide to visit the UK – they will get in touch. An author I’d love to have visit Finchley Road O2 – if only so I can tell her directly how much I love her books.

Interestingly both Ulrich Hub and Cornelia Funke are both German. I have some (not a lot) of German ancestry. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy these so much. Maybe its in my blood. Either way. Both should be bought and read over Christmas…

Go out and buy them.


Published by Usborne

This is a MUST buy.

It is superb. A development of the Pied Piper of Hamelyn – full of character, magic, adventure, rats and dragons too!

There are numerous versions of the Pied Piper of Hamelyn – the earliest from around 1300 – Some relate that the Piper returned the children after payment was, at last, paid. Others state that they were taken to drown in a local river. That one child got left behind as it was lame, and couldn’t keep up, that three were – one lame, one blind and the last was deaf. An ancient legend then, with some stature – they think it was probably about the plague or perhaps depicting some sort of emigration, maybe the Children’s Crusades. No-one really knows.

No-one knows either about what happened to the Pied Piper after the events so luridly told. What happened to him? This enlarges, colours and makes a whole new legend to enjoy. It is brilliant and must be read by old and young alike. I don’t care whether you are an adult, or a child – this is a MUST buy. After all some adults are more child-like, and some children are more adult-like. So whatever your age – buy or get someone else to buy you a copy of this brilliant story.

This is the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelyn with meat on – something to really get your teeth into. A ‘proper’ book…

For FOS there are copies (or were a few days ago) – on Sue’s Selection – at Finchley Road O2 – so you can get copies there.

I wish someone had designed a GIF for this book – perhaps someone will. I wouldn’t know how to start. This is taken from The Medievalists web site…

Earliest depiction of the Pied piper

NB – Finished this today (I have been reading four books at once – never wise) – and I am so excited – THERE’S MORE TO COME – this is the start of a series…well at least two…perhaps three….we will have to see! Marvellous!


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 secret of a sun king carroll faber and faber

Published by Faber & Faber


I enjoy history, but to be honest I have to think quite hard about dates, apart from this one. The year Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened by Howard Carter.

I would love to have been in Egypt then, to have been part of it, if only on the periphery. Though I suspect if I had been alive I’d probably have been in England, and possibly not even aware of this momentous find.

Related imageI always attribute my ability to read to Tutankhamun. I didn’t read until I was taken to the exhibition in 1972 – I was young and should have been reading by then. Everyone read to me, however, so I saw no reason as to why I should learn.

Then my mother took me to the British Museum…and I wanted to know what it was that shone in a perspex box, just above my head. The queue was long, and my mother told me she had no time to read everything to me…and we left…only for me to return to school to demand to learn – ‘My mother has stopped reading to me…’

Ancient Egypt has fascinated me ever since.

Tutankhamun’s history frustrates, fascinates and intrigues us. This pharaoh died as a young man. There have been questions about his ancestry, how he died and his life.  The treasure found within his tomb raised further questions, as did the tomb itself. Some of those questions have been answered and and a little of the mystery has dissipated – but by no means all of it. There are many mysteries and questions that still haven’t been answered, and some that have, haven’t been confirmed, with any certainty.

This story is set in that glorious year – it is filled with fantastic adventure, that curse, a canopic jar containing a further mystery…and an adventure in Egypt.  Mystery, Egyptology, murder, the untold story of a young boy…and a group of 20th century children…setting out into a strange and evocative land to solve a 20th century mystery entwined in an ancient story, never to be completely solved…

Without a doubt I am attracted to this book because of its subject matter. I am also entranced by the story, the adventure. Once more this is another brilliant story written by this consummate of authors.

This is to be the Book of the Month for Waterstones for August. Visit us at Finchley Road O2 and I will be very happy to sell you a copy, along with some other titles you might like.  Emma Carroll is due to visit the store to sign stock at the beginning of the month. So there will be signed stock, whilst it lasts, and I expect them to sell out fast!

Other titles by this author: Frost Hollow Hall / The Girl Who Walked on Air / In Darkling Wood / The Snow Sister / Strange Star / Letters from the Lighthouse

NB. I find it a little strange – I just might be in the picture above…though perhaps not. I was there though – I did go and it was the start of my love of all things Egyptology and the British Museum!