Archives for category: For 9 – Adult

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.





Related image

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.




Published by Piccadilly Press.

It is 03.09 in the morning. Dark. Silent, apart from my oil heater clicking gently behind me. I woke a while ago to continue reading this extraordinary volume.

This is a story set in Grey Britan, after the Gasses. The world has changed, things are not as they once were. Lahn Dan is contained within the Emm Twenty-five and there is nothing beyond.

‘there’s nothing outside of the Emm Twenty-five. Everything outside Lahn Dan is Dead.’

People and society have changed too.

The Aus live lives that are easier than most, though much of their world is fake. They are secure. Have hot water. Fresh food and their grass is green. They have been changed to look like the people of history, those known for their looks. They are beautiful. The Cus, meanwhile, are only able to use technology to support the Aus, and Pb they are the lowest of the low. They work. Have nothing, but stories, are almost illiterate, don’t eat food, but consume small pills for sustenance. Their grass is a sort of muddy brown colour.  They are set apart.

Aus – gold, Cus – copper and Pb – lead.

Lahn Dan to Serendipity is a place of darkness, filth, and hard-work. A place of bridges over the Tems – which she knows used to be one of the largest rivers in the world. Serendipity has never seen a river, but she has heard about them. The Tems is now a thick line of mud, used to dispose of anything unwanted, whether human or otherwise.

London is filled with images of horses. The National Gallery contains, of course, that stunning picture Whistlejacket by Stubbs, along with many others, including The Horses of Achilles, by van Dyke. Then there are the statues: Richard III on horseback outside the Houses of Parliament. The horses in the sculpture entitled Animals at War in Park Lane – there are thousands of them. Lahn Dan is filled with them too..

This book was a serendipitous find. I saw a brief glimpse of its existence in a piece of ephemera at work. Then sent out a plea for a reading copy – a proof, any form of this book for me to read. The author responded promptly and sent me a copy of the hardback – which I took home the day before yesterday, and started to read last night.

I am now just 55 pages into the book. I can’t leave it alone, yet am having to stop, every now and then, because I’m worried about what Serendipity has done, who she has met, and what decisions she is about to make. There are many characters who can and without doubt will affect the run of this story – and one I am in particular, a member of the Aus society, of whom I am most suspicious.

The book quotes a poem I read at school entitled The Horses by Edwin Muir –

We did not dare go near them. Yet they waited, 

Stubborn and shy, as if they had been sent

By an old command to find our whereabouts

And that long-lost archaic companionship.

 I have ridden horses. I have been snuffled at. I have been examined and in turn gazed back, into those gorgeous eyes. I have been trusted. I have ridden like the wind, my mount and I as one, both together. In a small way, I have been part of that archaic companionship. This is a celebration of all of that.

The paperback is due out on the 25th of this month. I’m afraid I prefer the hardback’s dust-jacket to the cover of the new edition coming out – it is perhaps less eye catching, it is perhaps more traditional.  A book though, is more than its cover, as we all know – so  if you can find a copy of the hardback before the 25th of January – then buy it (£9.99).

If not, then order the paperback (£6.99).

I suppose it isn’t long till the 25th of January.





Published by Orion.

I have just returned from 18 days in Madagascar – a trip to the North. Of which I will probably write a post at some point or another, once I have recovered. A land of infinite variety and fascination.

There are a few disadvantages to going on holiday at this time of the year – Christmas was coming just before I left and whilst I was away, it came in like the proverbial hurricane it always is. I am astonished by how much stuff is ‘needed’ by young people, when I compare what the average Malagasy child has – it really puts ‘our’ now probably more ‘traditional’ Christmas – a season of ‘want’, in perspective…

I will stop ranting now and let you know about one of the other disadvantages. You can miss out on good books – unless you have kindly colleagues who let you know about them on your return. Young Amabel found this one whilst I was away and raved about it so much when I walked into the department on Monday I knew I would have to read it.

It has, I’m sorry to say, a rather unexciting dust jacket.


The boards of the book though reflect the content  and are wonderful (they even have gold highlights) – with just enough flavour to indicate the darkness of this inventive and superb adventure – I am loving it – At the beginning of the book Morrigan Crow has an appointment with death. She knows when she will die – the date is in the diary. Her stepmother, however,  proposes that there is another side to death; life – and whilst her family and Morrigan sit down to her last meal – a ‘celebration’ of sorts, her stepmother informs her husband that she is pregnant – ‘It’s like…the circle of life. One life may be snuffed out, but another is being brought into the world. Why, it’s practically a miracle!’

The book is superbly complex, and filled with clever ideas… It is a new world for everyone to enjoy. It is one to savour; funny, scary and a little mystical. If you like magic – with a twist, and I suppose if you liked Harry Potter – you will almost certainly love this, and in someways Jupiter reminds me a little of Dr Who… which is frankly quite glorious…

This is a fantastic book and everyone should have a copy for Christmas.

Do not be put off by the cover, (or the majority of the pictures which illustrate the chapter headings) they do not reflect the intricacies and sophistication of the story. Then again, do not let my enjoyment of the darkness and the complexities of the tale to put you off either.

It has the right balance and is marvellous.

They just shouldn’t have published it with a dust jacket – as Amabel said, ‘naked’ it is superb. The dust jacket, just lacks a little something.

They should just have dared to go bare!

I have only one other complaint. I like to ask good authors to come for book-signings at Finchley Road O2 – Jessica Townsend lives in Australia – and even if I managed to persuade her to come, I doubt that Waterstones would be willing to cover her travel expenses. If, however, she should read this – and is coming anyway to the UK – a very warm welcome would await her in Finchley Road O2 Waterstones. Just let me know…



Published by Walker Books

I am loving this. Even though I have only read 88 of 278 pages of my proof. This is one of those good books. Atmospheric, unique and full of character.*

At the beginning of the story Mup and Tipper are travelling back home from the hospital in the back of the car. Mup’s mam isn’t talking, singing or talking. The car is silent, with the moon shining, the colour of brass, large and strange in the sky. Tipper has fallen asleep, drooling a little on the straps of his car seat. Mup would have liked him to have been awake, just as company, even if he wasn’t able to have a conversation yet, being a little too small. She rests her head against the window, watching the trees flash by and that is when she sees the witches.

There were men witches and women  witches, and they leapt from branch to branch, racing along at tremendous speed. They were nothing but shadows among shadows, so that Mup had to strain her eyes to see them. She watched for so long that she began to fall asleep again, half convinced she was dreaming after all. Then one of the witches jumped the gap between two trunks, her silhouette dark against the fine grey of the sky. She descended in a falling arc, her clothes blown back like ragged black wings. As her pale hands reached for the branches of the next tree, she looked down into the car and met Mup’s eyes…

This is wonderful – a distraction from everything I should be doing (certainly not writing another post, or wanting to read this) – which is a sign of a very good book.

The use of language is beautiful too – which is always a bonus, small terms of phrase, little jewels of words to treasure.

As always I have’t read the blurb – I try not to, however, this does quote the Sunday Independent on the back – Ireland’s answer to J. K. Rowling. If that persuades you to buy a copy of this extraordinary volume when it comes out on the 1st of February (I know – next year, but it is September now…just five months to wait) – then all the better.

It has become a habit to compare this type of book and the authors of them with Harry Potter and J.K.R. Not necessarily a good thing. I think she could learn a great deal from Celine Kiernan – this is super.

The cover of my proof is rather lovely, but the only representation I can find of it on the Internet is not perfect, so I looked at Celine’s blog to find she has been working on the above animation – which I have stolen – so much more fun than a picture of a book. I hope she doesn’t mind…

Go out and order a copy from your nearest good bookshop.

* Just thought I would give you an update. Finished this on the train to work this morning. It is as brilliant as the first 88 pages indicated it would be.

It is the start of a trilogy – now waiting for book two.



Published by Oxford

This is, by far, my favourite book by Gill Lewis.

It is the story of two brothers. It is also the story of hen harriers and a divided community. Its about standing up for what is right, or what you believe is right. Its a story of acceptance, learning and supporting one another. Its a story of a family, and yes, a story of two brothers.

It is a wonderful book. It should be read along side A Very Good Chance by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald – it has a similar positive vibe.

The world is changing, there is nothing new in that. Sometimes it can be a good thing. We need to nurture these positives against the negatives. They may be small, but they are important.

This is brilliant – absolutely brilliant.

This superb picture is by Mark Hamlin (

Published by Pushkin Books – September 2017

Translated from Swedish by Peter Graves

My proof was/is an oversized paperback, 8 x 6, and about 2 inches thick. Some 589 pages, including the last which is an illustration.

This is the story of Sally Jones, a ship’s engineer who’s captain is wrongly accused and convicted of murder.  It tells the tale of her adventures trying to find a way to prove his innocence. There are many circumstances and people out to prevent her from succeeding – and it is a wonderful tangle of adventure, travel, three humped camels, accordions, music, sailing, friendship, bravery and the odd fight too! I’m afraid I haven’t finished this yet, reaching only page 260 – mainly because I have been reading Sally’s adventures before I go to sleep, and not carrying  it around with me.

Sally Jones is talented, clever and observant, and also happens to be an ape, which means that though she can’t talk, she can certainly communicate, and is literate too. Being an ape amongst humans, however, adds to her problems. She won’t be able to help her captain from the inside of a zoo…

The illustrations at the head of each chapter are superb – full of wonderful detail – beautifully illustrating each chapter – so each is unique, these are not devices, but pictures to be studied and enjoyed as much as the story.

This is, I’m afraid another success for Pushkin. I seem to be a bit of a fan of this publishing house – but there you go – good books deserve good reviews, and Pushkin keep producing good books, and it is obvious they must have good authors to write them. The publisher’s info. states that it should be published on the 7th of September – in a jacketed hardback (just as it should be) – the illustrations alone are worth the extra cost. Buy this for anyone special you know, who like a good book – I am sure you know someone and it would be a delight to receive as a Christmas Prezzie – or ‘seasonal gift’ – whatever you like to call the holidays around December…

Published by Bloomsbury – Early September 2017

I really shouldn’t be writing this post – I should be trying to find a way of making some cash – ASAP.  Instead of which I have listed all the out going amounts (some are estimates; the house is peeling as though it has a bad case of eczema) and its beginning to worry me a bit – not the house, the finances. So I’m doing what I am good at, and sticking my head firmly in the sand, and writing about a proof that I have just finished and loved.

This is a tale of two sets of siblings. The first two are sisters – bound up with each other, getting one another into scrapes as they grow up amongst the higher echelons of society. That is they were, until one sister is accused and convicted of theft – and not just any theft. The other pair are a sister and brother. The sister to become queen, both though, secure and safe, or so one would have thought…

This is a brilliant adventure full of bravery, fear and a wonderful distraction from all mundane things like paying bills, doing the ironing, booking boiler appointments and other such interesting things…. It is a tale of friendship and is full of mystery too.

There is reference, on the back of the proof, to the book being for fans of Katherine Rundell, Eva Ibbotson and Cornelia Funke – and so it is, but I think it is also from a new unique author who is one to watch in her own right.

Also on the back of the proof is a note stating there is to be a second volume – which is marvellous – that is due out in 2018.

Wolves, adventure, mystery, bravery and treachery mixed – what more could you want?

A small comment about design. Each chapter starts with the notation of which it is, Chapter 1, 2 and so on, with an arrow design beneath. Someone somewhere in Bloomsbury has taken the trouble to ensure that the arrow on the chapter headings points one way on the verso pages, and the other way on the recto – which pleases me more than it should. I suspect its something to do with Dad, who designs books…

As always with proofs, I have no idea whether the picture above is the one that will be used on the cover…but it is a rather good one.

It would make a very good House of Ghibli animated film – perhaps someone will read it and do something about that. Sadly I don’t have any connections in the film industry, however, you never know who might just be reading this blog…





This is a stunningly beautiful slim small volume. It contains a simple tale of a small group of people; adults, children and a dog.  Adrift in the sea in a boat. They don’t have much to share: their stories, a scarf, a scrap of food, the warmth and affection of an animal and a violin. The violinist, who couldn’t leave his instrument behind, plays some music and tells his story and that of the violin in his hands…

This is a book about freedom – hope and bravery.





Published by Usborne Books

I believe that books that result in an emotional response, are the good books. The books that make the reader worry about the characters, the books that make you cry.

This a story with many threads / ribbons running through it. Essentially it is the story of a young girl whose family ‘doesn’t do normal’. Her brother is sick, and she suffers from Selective Mutism (SM), which powerfully affects her life. It is also about the good and the bad that is the Internet. It is about communication in all its forms, (word of mouth, written and social media), a story of sibling love, about super powers, and friendship.

I finished it this morning, lying on my bed (it was very hot last night) when I should have been up and getting organised. I cried. This is one of those good books, those good books that are so much more than the single ribbons or threads that run through them. I also laughed –

She said, “Bernard is having a difficult day too, dear,” and we both looked down at Bernard rolling around with one of her fluffy slippers. She tutted, shook her head and said, “He’s sex-mad that cat. I’ll get you one of my current buns, dear.”

Read it and cry…