Archives for category: For Adult Readers

Image result for wakenhyrst head of zeus  Image result for wakenhyrst head of zeus

Published by Head of Zeus

I picked this up as I am a fan of Michelle Paver’s children’s books – dipped into it and became absorbed in this story of medieval history, corrupted power, witchcraft and demons…

A long book in years (it covers five centuries) – a tale of obsession, academia, a diary, darkness, an image of a devil found in a graveyard and the love for a magpie.

I don’t usually read adult books as most will know, I sell children’s books and so need to know the minutiae of those and have little time to delve into the adult world.

This is a darker book than many – but a beautifully described descent into an all-pervading obsession and a life coloured by it.

A hauntingly brilliant book, as one would expect from an author who produced The Ancient Darkness Chronicles. (9-12)

Image result for The secret lives of colour st clair

Published by John Murray

Another book with colour as a central theme. This one, more so than the others I have recently been writing about. This a non-fiction exploration…

This is a wonderful wedge of a book. A lexicon, if you will, of colour. There are chapters on Colour Vision, Light, Artists & Pigments, Colour Mapping, Politics of Colour and the use of language and that’s just the start.

The book is split into colour segments and within that the different shades that make up each colour – White for example has essays about White, Lead White, Silver, Whitewash, Isabelline, Chalk and Beige… That for yellow…includes Orpiment, a highly poisonous substance…

‘A delightfully named German merchant called Georg Everhard Rumphius recalled seeing a woman who had taken too much in Batavia (now Jakarta), in 1660, in his book The Ambonese Curiosity Cabinet.  She had become mad, ‘and climbed up the walls like a cat.’

Each essay is a delight, a mix of history, science, and art –  this is positively a cornucopia of a book.

Image result for The secret lives of colour st clairI should I suppose have read the introduction chapters first, however, I was tempted into the substance of it, enticed by the colours that run down the edge of each page…and so will have to read it, I suppose in reverse…

This is a book not to be missed.

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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 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 the original inspector george gently collection

Published by Constable.

Susan was a pretty, pert blonde girl with a tilted bra and an accentuated behind. She wore a smile as a natural part of her equipment. She had a snub nose and dimples and a pleased expression, and had a general super-charged look, as though she was liable to burst out of her black dress and stockings into a fierce nudity.

Related imageBetween 1977 and 1983 LWT/ITV aired The Professionals. One of the main characters was played by Martin Shaw.  Since then he has ‘gone one’ as they say, to play characters in quite a range of genres: most recently John Deed and of course the TV production of the Inspector Gently series. I have always enjoyed his work – ever since sitting with my peers at school, waiting for The Professionals to start. Though then, I suppose, it wasn’t his acting ability that I was admiring…

Recently I have been watching the odd Inspector Gently programmes – and suddenly noticed that they were based on books by Alan Hunter. So – I bought this, which contains the first two books. I am half way through the first volume – Gently Does It and am loving Alan Hunter’s use of English, his ability to observe and relate small details to the reader.

There is a gentle reminder at the start of the book from the author.

This is a detective story, but NOT a ‘whodunit’. Its aim is to give a picture of a police investigator slowly building up his knowledge of a crime to a point, not where he knows who did it – both you and me know that at a fairly early stage – but to a point where he can bring a charge which will convince a jury. I thought it worthwhile mentioning this. I hate being criticised for not doing what I had no intention of doing. Sincerely yours, Alan Hunter.

He need not have worried. The story is superbly crafted with generous gorgeous clear and detailed language – and I am enjoying it as much for that, as the character of Inspector Gently and I can highly recommend them. He often gives things a life to which they could never aspire. Its a pleasure to read and I suspect I will be looking for the other books in the series.

Sadly Alan Hunter (1922 – 2005) is deceased. I would so much have enjoyed telling him how much I am enjoying his writing. He sounds as though he was a gentleman, of the old school.

Image result for inspector george gently martin shawFantastic Fiction lists an astonishing 46 titles (certainly enough for me), but the list within this first compilation volume details just the first 26 – and there are one or two discrepancies with the titles….I will be investigating. Those discrepancies, however, only occur around volume 24…so there’s no urgency.

Pleasingly, I find that Martin Shaw & the adaption of the books seem to have been able to reflect the original stories, the essence of the books. Its quite remarkable.

They are pure pleasure.

Onward puffed the little tub, bold as a fox-terrier, full of aggression and self-assurance, and onward crept the barges, phlegmatic, slow, till the cavalcade was in hailing distance of Railway Bridge. then the little tug slowed down, trod water as it were, allowing the foremost barges to catch up with it.




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Published by Scholastic

Were you born in England?

Are you British Born?

Were you born in the UK?

Are you illegal?

Do you know anyone who is illegal

or are your friends all British Born?

Are you certain?

Is there someone you know who keeps themselves to themselves, doesn’t go out much?

The election is coming. 

The election that will decide everyone’s futures.

Those not British Born are no longer legal…but the results of the election,

may mean that ‘illegals’ will no longer be sent ‘home’.

Then again, they may mean the destruction of lives built over years,

lives of contribution, lives of production, of families and friendships.

This is a story of siblings. Of a party. Of friendship.

It is the story of murder.

How would 



In this year of the celebration of women’s rights,

this is perhaps an even more poignant book.

Its a story of deportation.

A story of rights.

The abuse of rights.

A book of love.

This is a story that reflects stories of people now.

People who are now wondering where they will be

next month,

next week,



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.

Published by Bloomsbury

‘Friendly Crime’. A term that I use to myself about murder mysteries that are not graphic and or full of disturbing suspense. They usually have good plots and aren’t going to worry me. Authors of this ‘genera’ include M. C. Beaton (Hamish MacBeth, very friendly, and good for reading in bed with flu), through to Dorothy L Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey), and James Runcie – whose books are more literary.

I was made aware of the James Runcie’s Grantchester books because of the television programmes & I was intrigued enough some time ago to purchase the first volume in the series. This was quickly followed by volume 2 and 3. There was a small delay whilst waiting for more, but yesterday, I found volume 4 & 5 on our shelves and these were quickly purchased.

I enjoy the characters, and their relationships with one another, as much as the murder mystery. Somehow this type of crime, Friendly Crime, is almost comforting.

Usually I don’t like to be disturbed by what I read. I don’t like gratuitous violence, particularly in graphic detail. I don’t like psychological suspense.  I like my murderers to be clever, but my detectives to be more so, perhaps not in the traditional sense, but certainly to have an edge all their own. These remind me of GK Chesterton and his Father Brown stories.

I would say that was my general view of crime novels, however, I also read Janet Evanovich, (Stephanie Plum, One for the Money) whose books are often violent, but they are tempered by humour and brilliant characters. They are not books I would suggest for non-adult readers. American, with a violent streak, but full of laughter, and character. I suppose the violence is sudden, quick and mixed well in with the humour etc.

I know little of the hierarchy and ‘doings’ of ‘the’ church, so can’t state whether the Grantchester series are accurate in that way, however, they are ‘good’ books.

A pleasure to enjoy, especially with tea,and a slice of fruit cake, somewhere warm and comfortable.

Sidney Chambers & The Shadow of Death

Sidney Chambers & The Perils of the Night

Sidney Chambers & the Problem of Evil

Sidney Chambers & the Forgiveness of Sins 

& the fifth in the series so far

Sidney Chambers & the Dangers of Temptation 









Published by Profile Books.

This is a small biography, but for all that adds details that might not be known about the family, particularly for readers who have only read Gerald Durrell’s writing and are either not aware of Lawrence Durrell’s books, or have not read them. It gives a wonderful back ground to My Family and other Animals, with details of many of the characters that are so intrinsic to the success of that book.

It is a biography of the family and as such it is perhaps, too small – the details of Lawrence Samuel Durrell, the father who was an engineer in India are tantalising and I suspect only flutter across his story. There are several biographies of Lawrence Durrell available, but very little can be found about Leslie, Margo or Louisa Durrell.

There has been some talk of the book not giving enough details of the problems that the family had – for example Louisa’s depression after her husband’s death and alcohol problems. I don’t think, however, that biographies should always relate the stories of people, warts and all – there is enough here to give an indication that their life was not all sun, sea and scorpions and why.

They were all born in India, but were intrinsically English – the English abroad. The book is liberally seasoned with photographs and some of the story is perhaps a little graphic for some of my younger readers – and so I have noted it as Adult. It will not take you long to read, but it does quote my favourite episode from My Family & Other Animals, and is perhaps a book that should be kept along side that, to give a little background to this extraordinary family.


Published by Pan Books

I have been a ‘fan’ of Gerald Durrell’s since I was a child and read My Family & Other Animals along with the other natural history books that he wrote. I remember them with great affection, but haven’t read them for a while. Recently a new book has been published, a biography of his family (The Durrells of Corfu / Michael Haag) which I read and in which I found reference to this book, Marrying off Mother & Other Stories by Gerald Durrell – one I knew nothing about.

It contains just eight glorious vignettes of writing. There is a small note at the beginning of the book – A Word in Advance from the author, “All of these stories are true or, to be strictly accurate, some are true, some have a kernel of truth and a shell of embroidery…”

They cover everything from the story of a truffle hunting pig, a butler, and a boat trip, through to the eponymous marital arrangements for Gerald Durrell’s mother. It is not so much the stories, though once more Gerald Durrell has had me laughing out loud, but the use of language – he had a wonderful use of language, and I am only sorry that he died in 1995 – I would have liked to have written to him to tell him how much I enjoy his writing. These stories remind me a little of Saki’s short stories – brilliant observations of people and life.

“She was not ready when she should be, always she did not want to do what he suggested and, sin of sins, she left stockings and brassieres lying about on the floor in her efforts to get dressed quickly. He felt that this last habit, combined with a certain age gap, made the idea of marriage impossible or, if not impossible, suspect. I said I thought that that was exactly what he wanted: someone young, vital, who would argue with him and keep him permanently waist-deep in discarded brassieres and stockings. I said that marriages had been ruined by the wife being too tidy and that many others had been saved by a brassiere being dropped at the right moment…”

“My creatures, each in its own way, abused me, reviled me, slandered me and condemned me out of hand for being five minutes late with their food. But gradually their ferocious criticism of my callousness died away to give place to the contented champing of jaws, the slushing of frit and the cracking of nuts…”

“She was a small, fragile woman whose skin, at the throat, hung in folds and pleats like a curtain. Her face was a network of fine wrinkles like a relief map of the mouth of some great river. Her nose was prominent and arched like an eagle’s beak. Her eyes were blue, a muzzy, watery blue, like faded periwinkles, and in the left one she wore a monocle tethered by a long piece of watered ribbon….”

This is an adult book – or perhaps a young adult. My Family and other Animals should be read by everyone – and has its own post on this blog. I shall presently write another for The Durrells of Corfu (Haag) – to complete the ‘set’ – that too is an Adult book, perhaps in some ways more than this. It does contain photographs which could be said to be a little revealing.

Sadly I have tried to copy the cover of this book onto the post – but it refuses to come – so I have resorted to the above image of Gerald Durrell – the book has a picture of a blue lake with a building in the middle, and some boats to the side. Its not a large book by any means…but the contents are delicious.