Archives for category: Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published by Bloomsbury

I used to think that Cadbury’s was everything, particularly if kept in the fridge. My sister liked Galaxy, which I found too soft to the taste. Then I found out about Green and Black and realised that I didn’t really like milky chocolate – I like something between milk, and dark. I began to frequent places like Hotel Chocolat (http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk) & found that I like good chocolate.

72% Dark Madagascar 70g, 70G, hi-resI visited Madagascar almost two years ago, (to find out about the wildlife), and on my return started to look out for Madagascan chocolate. Hotel Chocolat  sell it in slim bars…and Waitrose sell small boxes produced by a chap (he must be a very good chap, called Willie).

Amongst other Willie's Cacao Madagascan gold 71things Madagascan chocolate really does taste of berries and I was hooked.

Dragons on the other hand have always been important – Smaug I suppose was my first, but I like their characters – they always struck me as strong – determined and a little temperamental, if not down right difficult and I can’t say that I’m a particularly easy person to get on with. So, I have often felt I had an affinity with them. Particularly if something is unfair, or not right.

This book starts with a dragon remembering the advice of her grandfather, that it is safer not to talk to your food. Which struck me as very good advice.

The story  lead me on; there are dragons,  though up to page 184 actually not many, but there is adventure with the flavour of dragons. I haven’t finished it yet – but I can confirm, the dragons are coming! I loved too the idea of chocolate shops taking on apprentices to train to make the perfect hot chocolate, it seemed wonderful (and obvious), and to become a chocolatier, a glorious pinnacle to achieve – and this story mixes the magic of dragons and fantasy with the magic (it can really only be magic) of chocolate.

What more could you want? Actually this book should be sold by all good chocolatiers, and the book should have, perhaps, a small box of Willie’s squares, or one of the slim Hotel Chocolat bookmark sized bars,  attached to each volume…just to prove that sometimes fiction can be reflected in real life.

Go out and buy the book – its a paperback at £6.99, the chocolate costs around £3 for Willie’s squares or £7.50 for Hotel Chocolat’s creation – find a comfortable seat, somewhere quiet, and settle down to read, whilst nibbling on some lovely good chocolate!

Or, perhaps better still,  purchase some of Hotel Chocolat’s Chilli Hot Chocolate (£9 a box), and snuggle down with a warm blanket and this very good book.

 

Published by Bloomsbury

This almost luminous volume really stands out from a table of books, or face out on a shelf – so shouldn’t be easily missed.

This is perhaps a warning to us all – how to replace fossil fuels, in this case petrol with something green. We need to be careful that we don’t go from the pot, straight into the fire when developing science in the hope of creating that magic formula that will give us the power we seem to require to be happy.

Cells divide by two and continue to do so.

2,    4,    8,

16,    32,     64,

128,     256,      512,

1,024,     2,048,     4,096,

8,192,      16,384,       32,768,     65,536,

131,072,     262,144,     524,288,     1,048,576,     2,097,152…

 There are, invariably, small anomalies which usually die out, however, some survive. When the fundamental cells are too numerous to count, the numbers of these anomalies also  increase.

A book of friendship. Bullying, bravery, a reptile, and fuzzy mud.

If when you are out and about working in your garden, or playing in the local woods, your hands begin to tingle, following handling mud that looks, just a bit, fuzzy, then you might think about what you should do next…

It is written in American, with American references, but for all that the book is one that is edgy and thought provoking. If your English spelling is not what it might be, perhaps it may be best to leave this one, until it is. Particularly if you should be taking English examinations in the near future…

Another superb volume from this master of children’s literature…

Louis Sachar also wrote Holes….for which I suppose he is most famous.

 

Published by Bloomsbury in March 2017

This is the story of Victoria. Actually its about two. There is a slight twist to the true story of Victoria’s life in Kensington Palace,  but based as always in historical fact. This is the story of a young princess, controlled, and driven who finds a friendship where she doesn’t expect it. It is also a story of Sir John Conroy’s daughter named Victoire, who was Victoria’s companion. I rather like the idea of the twist, but wonder how successful such a scheme as proposed by this novel would actually be. The book does cover Queen Victoria’s rather lonely and strange childhood extremely well – and the end is a piece of whimsical pondering that makes it all the more fun.

A book for history lovers…

Lucy Worsly has also written Eliza Rose, also reviewed on this blog, which is already ‘out’ and available to purchase from ‘all good bookshops’.

Published by Bloomsbury

With a back drop of the Russian landscape this is an extremely atmospheric tale of adventure. Feodora and Ilya, heroine and hero along with a small pack of  wolves are racing against time. There are rumbles of a revolution, whispers of people taking back control and ending the suffering that has pervaded the land for so long.

This is a wonderful adventure full of the smells of winter and wolves. Feodora’s life has been sheltered; she has had little to do with people, her life has been spent helping her mother ‘repatriate’ wolves no longer wanted by the rich of Russia’s elite. A repatriation  that is dangerous as wolves are intrinsically  not reliable, and people can’t be trusted, in certain circumstances either.

This is a book full of the stuff that fairy tales are made of. It certainly has the feel of folk lore and is a brilliant adventure. It will be one of those books to be read around a fire, with the snow falling in flurries outside a dark window…

 

 

 

Published by Bloomsbury

There is something really rather wonderful about this book. It is not, though a book for those of a nervous disposition.

An alphabet of sorts. A list of rather unlucky children, perhaps, then again it is a compendium of children who through want of a little care and attention, come to  grief.

This is I suppose a rather macabre volume – however, I deal with all sorts of  small children on a daily basis, and am regularly surprised how they survive…often there doesn’t seem to be much attention given to them as they crawl out of our store, towards the escalators…

I wonder what Gorey would think. Perhaps there is a second volume out there…

A is for AMY who fell down the stairs

B is for BASIL assaulted by bears

C is for CLARA who wasted away

D is for DESMOND thrown out of a sleigh

E is for ERNEST who choked on a peach

F is for FANNY sucked dry by a leach

G is for GEORGE smothered under a rug

H is for HECTOR done in by a thug

I is for IDA who drowned in a lake

J is for JAMES who took lye by mistake

K is for KATE who was struck by an axe

L is for LEO who swallowed some tacks

M is for MAUD who was swept out to sea

N is for NEVILLE who died of ennui

O is for OLIVE run through with an awl

P is for PRUE trampled flat in a brawl

Q is for QUENTIN who sank in a mire

R is for RHODA consumed by a fire

S is for SUSAN who perished of fits

T is for TITUS who flew into bits

U is for UNA who slipped down a drain

V is for VICTOR squashed under a train

W is for WINNIE embedded in ice

X is for XERXES devoured by mice

Y is for YORICK whose head was knocked in

Z is for ZILLAH who drank too much gin

 

 

 

Inventive, fun and a good cautionary tale for parent’s of curious children…

I particularly like the demise of Xerxes…

Though written out here in full, it is worth the small expenditure to buy a copy so it can be read without hindrance.

I may produce a modern version…I must put my mind to it one day…

9781408869437

Published by Bloomsbury

There is something about the Tudors. So much so I once caused consternation by explaining to a group of primary school boys that for me, history begins with them…and everything else then hangs off the dynasty – either backwards in time or towards the future. I’m afraid they were a little puzzled at first and then a bit shocked that an adult should think in this rather illogical fashion. Except for me it isn’t. Why not start with the bits you enjoy and then place everything around it – rather like starting in the middle of a time line puzzle…

You really can’t beat Henry VIII and his six wives for drama and for being just a human story – we know a great deal, I suspect guess quite a bit about what happened, but also know so very little too.

This is essentially the story of Katherine Howard, the one who was beheaded, before the last Queen who survived in that rather useful poem – Divorced, Beheaded, Died. Divorced Beheaded, Survived. I find the whole episode of Henry the Eighth’s drive to father a son and the repercussions of it, unbelievably sad, and have always thought that Katherine (and Anne Boleyn) perhaps wasn’t quite as she has often been depicted, in Katherine’s case as a wanton lass (and Anne’s as a witch…)

That the circumstances around Henry’s matrimonial problems, were often part of the reasons why people behaved the way they did, and often the result of just being between a rock and a hard place. Who can say why Henry only managed to produce three children? It is interesting that he was after all the common denominator in all the relationships.

Eliza Rose is Lucy Worsley’s interpretation of this part of Tudor history – Anne of Cleves and Katherine’s rise and subsequent fall. It has more depth than many of the Tudor histories I have read that have been written for young readers. Lucy Worsley’s knowledge of how palaces worked means that it fits together better, runs more smoothly and was a real pleasure to read, even though I knew the outcome of the story.

Eliza Rose is a fictional character inserted into history – a ploy that sometimes doesn’t work. In this case Lucy’s depiction of her character, and what happens to her are believable to the degree I had to check as to whether she really was a piece of imagination or had lived and was a character I just hadn’t heard about.

There was without doubt more to the tale of Henry and his six wives.

The demands were different, as were expectations. Attitudes and beliefs were different. Henry might well have been a despot. I think he was also a human, with human frailties, hopes, desires, and fears. As for his queens – all I think were victims of circumstance, some the result of just taking one too many chances (and who hasn’t done that, at least once in their lives), as well as being as brave, naïve and just caught up in other’s and their own hopes and dreams.

kath-howardI really enjoyed this – I hope Katherine had someone like Eliza Rose in her life. In this book they may have been inadvertent rivals, but were also caught in the same circumstances.

I hope that Lucy will write more books about the Tudor period – this I carried around with me for 48 odd hours, and frantically searched the house late last night so I could read it before I went to sleep; only to find I’d left it in the car. Finished this evening…a very satisfactory retelling of a very traumatic story.

 

Published by Bloomsbury

I know very little about ‘art’ – as in the art that is depicted in the National Gallery and the Wallace collection.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t enjoyed wandering around both galleries over the years. Grandpa introduced me to art – he made me a member of the RA, and after a special trip to the Wallace purchased a copy of The Arab Tent (Landseer) for me.

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We once went to the London Museum together, I remember, and somehow landed up in a gallery with an ‘installation’ I think it is called, of steel girders. Neither of us were very impressed.  We thought it would have been better to have used them in a building.  Usually, we looked at paintings and we discussed how the artist had depicted material, (for example velvet) and expression, that type of thing, so perhaps the girders were unlikely to get much of a positive review from us. Since then I have spent some time wandering the National Gallery too – at one time carefully going through their guide book, and buying post cards of the art I particularly liked.

I picked this volume up, initially as something to pass the time in a lunch break at work – without expecting much. The cover is (I think) uninspiring and to be honest rather over emphasises the love element of the book and though it does give an indication of the art it doesn’t indicate the importance art has to the story.

It is a tale of murder, of stolen art, of identity, and there is that element of love in it too.

One character I particularly enjoyed, the personification of The Improbability of Art – a self important character, but with a remarkable astute knowledge of people and their behaviour over the centuries.

I learnt a considerable amount about old art, some about how the art ‘world’ works, the auctioneers, dealers and a little about how paintings were produced, and how they try to verify the artist.

I enjoyed the language too – to the extent of noting words and phrases used in my mobile, (it seems to have taken the place of a note book), most of which I knew, but had forgotten: effluvium, solipsistic, uxorial, peripatetic – perhaps because I read so much children’s work, that it gave me a joy to read these words again, like old friends.

I loved too the description of a naked man as ‘…etiolated as a peeled cucumber…’

My only criticism, if it could be called such, is that the detail that is strong through out the rest of the book is not there as the strings of the mystery are gathered together in the last chapter. Though perhaps it was a wise decision. The book runs to 479 pages and perhaps to give the end the detail it deserved, would have extended it too far.

The book is due to be the Book of the Month (Waterstones)  in April for Adult Fiction. The Rococo art, and the art world is brought brilliantly to life in this rather good piece of fiction.

I have to admit to looking up Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684 – 1721) and found that I had seen and enjoyed several of his pictures over the years without knowing much about the artist. I also wanted to see if The Improbability of Love really existed. Sadly that part of the story too is fiction. I suspect though, it would have been very difficult to have used one of his works – particularly as I think it would have been wrong to have given a fictional history to a picture that has one already.

 

 

Published by Bloomsbury / ISBN 9781408827140 / Teenage / Adult

I suppose books about cancer are not everyone’s cup of tea. The Fault in our Stars by John Green, however, has had a phenomenal following. If someone has read just one of his books, it seems to have been that one. They even made a film about it.

I admit, when I read it I cried. After all it is an emotional book. The way in which the characters deal with the situation, is very American – which I suppose isn’t surprising, (John Green is an American author) however, perhaps it was that, which made the book slightly less forceful for me than Anthem for Jackson Dawes.

I started this at work, and carried it home. Late in the evening, I found myself awake and thought I would read a little more. Amongst other superb vignettes within this captivating plot, it has the most accurate description of waking from an anaesthetic I have ever read – slightly disconcerting.

Not long afterwards I realised I had to stop. I was crying so hard, I had begun to feel I couldn’t stop, and was having difficulty breathing properly. Pakka (my cat) walked up the bed and looked at me closely and curiously and then rubbed her head against me, which made her more than a little wet and grimy. It was at that point I realised I had to put the book down, get out of bed, wash my face and hands, blow my nose and remind myself that this was a book.

My mother said she thought I had reacted as I had as I have also had surgery and treatment for cancer, perhaps this is so, however, this was also the case when I read The Fault in our Stars.

This is an emotional book. A book though, that doesn’t result in an emotional response, whether tears or worry for a character, or laughter and joy, is rather a dull volume. Even worse than one that doesn’t have any pictures.

Read and enjoy both – they are both of the same genre – but oh so different!