Archives for posts with tag: Bloomsbury

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.





Published by Bloomsbury

Mary was the daughter of Katherine of Aragon and  Henry VIII.

Katherine was Henry’s first wife, whom he set aside to marry Anne Boleyn with whom he had Mary’s half sister, Elizabeth. Both girls were ultimately to rule England. This though is Mary’s story, the story that made a young girl into the Queen she was.

It is a story knotted and entwined in her father’s desperate need to sire a son, with his drive and determination to marry Anne Boleyn, and when that resulted in her death, with his marriage to Jane Seymour.

The Tudors, for me, start English history. From them, my knowledge of history spreads, a little like a poorly made spider’s web.

They weren’t perfect. Then again, history was a different place. They did things differently then…so differently.  Their knowledge and beliefs were diverse too.

This story covers the period before Mary or Elizabeth had ascended the throne. The courtiers, and Henry VIII had nothing to compare, they didn’t know the strength, knowledge and forethought that a woman can have. Hindsight is a marvellous thing. Then again, when you look at our more recent history, perhaps it isn’t so different.

There are gaps in our knowledge about the Tudors. They are the people I’d like to meet from the past – there are so many questions. Not just of this period, but of Elizabeth’s time on the throne, and Mary’s too.

Lucy Worsley, of whom I am quite jealous, lives and works around Hampton Court, amongst other palaces, as their Chief Curator. She knows her history. I hope she will go on to write the other two stories, that of Elizabeth I and that of that much desired boy Edward VI – whose lives were so tied to the need to ensure there was a prince to follow in Henry VIII’s footsteps.

Our history would be so bland if it weren’t for this extraordinary family…

Lucy Worsley has written three books, so far for this age group, though this, perhaps, is my favourite.




Published by Bloomsbury.

I was sorting the picture books today and came across this book, that I hadn’t come across before. Norman lives a ‘normal’ life, until the day he grows some wings.

Rather than upset his parents, Norman begins to wear a heavy coat to cover his feathers. Which is fine outside when its raining, but not so good when the sun is shining or he is indoors.

His parents wait a while, as the coat gets tattier, until the day when Norman realises that the thing that is making him hot and bothered isn’t his set of wings, but his coat. When he at last throws it aside he realises that everyone is hiding sets of wings too – and he needn’t have worried.

This is a wonderful book about normality. The fact that we all have wings and should perhaps just enjoy them – after all what is normal for me is normal…

It is super – and its always a joy coming across a book like this when you are half way through removing every book form a section, off the shelves so you can dust, and then return them all in order.



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 Bloomsbury (April 2018)

A finger of fudge, is just enough…

The proof of this book came with a bar of McBudge Fudge – actually a bar of Cadbury’s Fudge, with a wrapper advertising McBudge Fudge wrapped around it. How could I not start the book, with that sort of incentive? I ate the fudge (and very good it was too) with a hot cup of tea and began to read.  I don’t think I can remember having a finger of fudge since the above advert was on ‘the box’. It had a ‘jingle’ that started with ‘A finger of Fudge is just enough, to give your kids a treat…’  It’s hot-wired into my brain…I could sing it for you, if you were here and not there… not very well, but I could.

Actually, not only did Bloomsbury send me chocolate, but they also supplied me with a very good book too. What more could anyone want? They did rather well.

I haven’t got very far with this yet, but it has the same feel as Sylvia Bishop’s Bookshop Girl and that isn’t a bad thing.

At the beginning of the story Archie McBrudge visits Honeystone Hall with his mother to meet a solicitor. He explains that not only has Archie has inherited the hall, but also the world famous McBudge Fudge Factory, as well as his great-uncle’s gardening tools to boot!

I suppose it could be said to have essences of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl) – Archie is set a series of tests he has to pass, and has met one or two very strange people. An extraordinary & ancient butler along with a young lass, who works as a plumber at the hall…and things are definitely not what they seem. I am going to enjoy reading this in bed tonight – its a book for curling up with, especially when it is very, very cold. Which it is. I have my oil heater on – in an attempt to warm myself up.

One of the reasons I like books are the odd phrases authors use to describe things – in this case a character is described as looking like a ‘forlorn slug.’ Which is wonderful. I have never really liked slugs (snails, I approve of, even though they destroy my plants), and I have never thought of them as being anything…however, I shall now think of them differently and will examine them carefully in the future to see if any of them look forlorn.

I digress. I am sure this is going to be one of those books that readers who are beginning to enjoy reading for themselves and have a little confidence will relish.

The title suggests there may be more to come – The Dundoodle Mysteries – which can’t be a bad thing. I hope there will be – not too many, just the right number…

Lastly – I looked up forlorn slug then chocolate slug on the Internet.  Sadly there was nothing that really depicted the former concept for me so, you aren’t getting a picture of one. The chocolate slugs sold in California (Humboldt) look, regrettably, rather revolting (even if they are chocolate), but then I expect they are supposed to.

The Internet did, though, bring up pictures of Chocolate Frogs – part of the Harry Potter franchise. We sell these now – at £4.99 a frog. You do, however, get a mystery card to collect…to go with it. Whether these are lenticular or not, is not something I can answer. Those produced by Cadbury’s years ago, were – and they made very good bookmarks. I hope these have moving pictures too…I have not, though eaten one, so I don’t know.

Anyway – to get back to The Chocolate Factory Ghost – if a book can refer to forlorn slugs – you can’t really go wrong – imagination, a good story, and wonderful inventive descriptive English – what more could you want?




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…





Published by Bloomsbury.

I haven’t had the joy or the terror of having a child – a mixed blessing / curse. In some ways I would love to have had a child, however, it wasn’t to be. In other ways, I sometimes think I and he or she was lucky. I’m not sure I’d have fitted in to today’s ways of bringing up children… Neither have I had anorexia. If anything I am the reverse. I love food and as a result am, over weight really and not very fit. So this book is about subjects of which I have very little knowledge. It is a powerful and in some ways, heart rending book.

It is a tale of numbers. A tale of a young girl under the control of ‘Nia’. Anorexia has Hedda firmly in her grip and isn’t willing to let go any time soon, and if possible ever. Hedda, though, makes a bargain with ‘Nia’ – if Nia agrees to let her eat sensibly for the unborn child, then she will come back to her, back to her control.

This is in a way a terrifying story. It is a story of hope, mixed with a strong splash of darkness.

I am not sure I would have had the strength that Hedda displays in similar circumstances…and I am lucky in the support I know I wold have had from my family. Read it – and let your family know how important they are…



Published by Bloomsbury

This was wonderful – I loved it. Not least as it takes you back to another era. A better time, a period of stiff upper lips and honour. This is a brilliant story of the old style with gorgeous language:

“…almost squeezed the pip out of poor Sponge here…”

“…frightfully dangerous…”

“…Mildew’s southern most lip began to quiver…”

“…Mildew’s upper lip began to lose some of its structural integrity…”

Along with the two main characters being named Mildew and Sponge.

What more could you want or need or indeed expect to have? Well, it seems you can have a lot more for your money –

A book of mysterious ghosts, Vikings, Romans, werewolves, a time machine….a school with a cloister, with extraordinary school teachers who are remarkable in themselves…adventure and it will be stuffed with illustrations. I know this to be true, because my proof has little boxes set within the text to give an indication of where they will be when the book is published. They have also said that Chris Priestley wrote it and that it will be illustrated by him. They have printed that on the cover of the proof. So there!

The only problem is, I’m afraid is that it hasn’t been published yet – but they state on the inside cover that you will be able to buy copies on the 5th of October, which I believe is a Thursday. A good day on which to buy a new book – this one will be perfect. Funny, full of interest, good English (for those of you who know this to matter)….a wonderful book on so many fronts.

Put Thursday the 5th of October in your diary.

As sometimes happens when I have read a book before its published, the cover has not been put on the Internet yet. I have found though the above sketches of the Werewolf Boy – so that will have to do.

Ps. Sorry, I forgot to say – this is the start of a series…and also that Chris Priestley is an author to ‘follow’ – he also wrote Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror – which are brilliant. Slightly surprised I have never done a post about that volume…I suppose I read it before I had this blog – buy that too – and you can buy it now – its already published.






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 ( & 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.