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Hello from The Bookbag, a book review site, featuring books from all the many walks of literary life - [[:Category:Fiction|fiction]], [[:Category:Biography|biography]], [[:Category:Crime|crime]], [[:Category:Cookery|cookery]] and anything else that takes our fancy. At Bookbag Towers the bookbag sits at the side of the desk. It's the bag we take to the library and the bookshop. Sometimes it holds the latest releases, but at other times there'll be old favourites, books for the children, books for the home. They're sometimes our own books or books from the local library. They're often books sent to us by publishers and we promise to tell you exactly what we think about them. You might not want to read through a full review, so we'll give you a quick review which summarises what we felt about the book and tells you whether or not we think you should buy or borrow it. There are also lots of author [[:Category:Interviews|interviews]], and all sorts of [[:Category:Lists|top tens]] - all of which you can find on our [[Features]] page.
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<metadesc>Book review site, with books from most walks of literary life; fiction, biography, crime, cookery and children's books plus author interviews and top tens.</metadesc>
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<h1 id="mf-title">The Bookbag</h1>
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Hello from The Bookbag, a site featuring books from all the many walks of literary life - [[:Category:Fiction|fiction]], [[:Category:Biography|biography]], [[:Category:Crime|crime]], [[:Category:Cookery|cookery]] and anything else that takes our fancy. At Bookbag Towers the bookbag sits at the side of the desk. It's the bag we take to the library, the charity shop and the bookshop. Sometimes it holds the latest releases, but at other times there'll be old favourites, books for the children, books for the home. They're sometimes our own books or books from the local library. They're often books sent to us by publishers and we promise to tell you exactly what we think about them. You might not want to read through a full review, so we'll give you a quick review which summarises what we felt about the book and tells you whether or not we think you should buy or borrow it. There are also lots of [[:Category:Interviews|author interviews]], and all sorts of [[:Category:Lists|top tens]] - all of which you can find on our [[features]] page. If you're stuck for something to read, check out the [[Book Recommendations|recommendations]] page.
  
There are currently '''{{PAGESINCATEGORY:Reviews}}''' reviews on the site.
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There are currently '''{{PAGESINCATEGORY:Reviews}}''' reviews at TheBookbag.
  
Want to find out more [[About Us|about us]]?
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Want to find out more [[About Us|about us]]? __NOTOC__
  
==New Reviews==
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==Reviews of the Best New Books==
'''For new reviews by genre [[:Category:New Reviews|click here]].'''
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'''For new features [[Features|click here]].'''
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'''Read [[:Category:New Reviews|new reviews by category]]. '''<br>
__NOTOC__
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{{newreview
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|author=Gareth Hinds
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|title=King Lear
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|rating=3
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|genre=Graphic Novels
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|summary=Hound me out of town in a most appropriate manner, but I do not like King Lear.  For me, even as a trained actor, the language is too dense and rich, the set-up too archly unfeasible to create the great tragedy it's thought to be.  To my mind the acclaim and esteem in which it's held is only mirrored by its own over-long, over-blown blustering.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0763643440</amazonuk>
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}
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{{newreview
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'''Read [[:Category:Features|the latest features]].''' <!-- INSERT NEW REVIEWS BELOW HERE-->
|author=Paul Theroux
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{{Frontpage
|title=A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta
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|isbn=1780724047
|rating=3.5
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|title=A Dictionary of Interesting and Important Dogs
|genre=General Fiction
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|author=Peter J Conradi
|summary=Set in India, familiar territory for Theroux, ''A Dead Hand'' tells the story of a travel writer suffering from writer's block (also known as 'dead hand') until a chance letter from an American ex-pat, the mysterious Mrs Unger, relating a story of a mystery of a dead body in a hotel leads him to release his creativity in very unexpected ways. The story is more about obsession and infatuation than it is about the mystery itself as the narrator falls under Mrs Unger's Tantric charms. But does she have more to hide than she's letting on?
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|rating=4
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0241144639</amazonuk>
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|genre=Pets
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|summary=I struggle to resist a book about dogs, but I did wonder why this one was so ''thin'': given that I've never encountered a dog who wasn't interesting or important - and probably both, I was expecting a massive tome.  But ''A Dictionary of Interesting and Important Dogs'' is actually ''a rich compendium of the world's most significant and beloved dogs'' and it's certainly a rich treasure trove. We begin with Peter J Conradi's four collies: Cloudy, Sky. Bradley and Max.  They're consecutive rather than simultaneous dogs, but what comes over is Conradi's love for each and every one of them.  I knew that I was in safe hands.
 
}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1785769294
|author=Toby Lester
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|title=Man at the Window (Detective Cardilini)
|title=The Fourth Part of the World: The Epic Story of History's Greatest Map
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|author=Robert Jeffreys
 
|rating=4.5
 
|rating=4.5
|genre=History
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|genre=Crime
|summary=In 2003 a map was bought for $10 million, the highest price ever paid publicly for a historical document, by the Library of Congress, where it is now on permanent public displayNo ordinary map, this is sometimes described as America's birth certificate.  It is the sole survivor of a thousand copies printed early in the 16th century, and was discovered by accident in some archives in a German castle in 1901.  The sale and story behind it intrigued Toby Lester so much that he was inspired to discover more, and this book is the result.
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|summary=It's when we read that a young boy is creeping reluctantly to a teacher's bedroom one October night that we realise something is badly wrongNowadays you ''might'' hope that something would be done about it fairly quickly but this was 1965 and child abuse was generally regarded as malicious mischief on the part of the child.  The boy would be safe that night though - albeit in the most horrific fashion.  When he reached Captain Edmund's bedroom he found the man dead on the floor, the top of his skull missing.  The school's initial reaction was that this was a dreadful accident: there had been a cull of kangaroos in some nearby fields and it was obviously a stray bullet which had killed the Captain.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1861978030</amazonuk>
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}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1786695227
|author=Steven Lowe and Alan McArthur
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|title=Invisible in a Bright Light
|title=Is it Just Me or Has the Shit Hit the Fan?: Your Hilarious New Guide to Unremitting Global Misery
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|author=Sally Gardner
|rating=3
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|genre=Humour
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|summary=''The banks fell over like fat Labradors running over a wet kitchen floor.''  Surely that is the wackiest, most inappropriate simile for the credit crunch and all it has done for the world.  You won't get any such namby-pamby animal likenesses from these authors, instead with quite a potty mouth on them they will lambast the modern world, the entire banking system, all those who failed to see it coming, and those millions just seemingly waiting for us all to revert to high-interest, high-risk, high-lending capitalism, so they can get back on the expenses train, and back up the rich lists.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847443656</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Andy Stanton
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|title=What's For Dinner, Mr Gum?
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|rating=4.5
 
|rating=4.5
 
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=As soon as heroine Polly turns her back, and leaves the town of Lamonic Bibber for a day at the seaside, Mr Gum falls out with his best friend, causing carnivorous carnage all over the place. Meat is getting thrown around like it's going out of fashion, and we have to doubt whether Polly and her companions can ever utilise the power of love and put things to rights. Especially as this book does not contain a magic unicorn called Elizabeth.
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|summary=The beginning of this excellent story will leave the reader more than a little confused: who is the man in the green suit, what is the Reckoning, and why are rows of people in a cave? But stick with it – Ms Gardner is very cleverly letting us experience the same disorientation as our heroine. We watch in dismay as the strange man, who seems to have no eyes, does his best to persuade her to answer his questions. But for some reason Celeste, despite her bewilderment, remains wary and gives nothing away.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1405248246</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1912374854
|author=Loose Women
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|title=Violet
|title=Here Come the Girls
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|author=S J I Holliday
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|rating=3.5
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|genre=Thrillers
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|summary=I've never been but understand that travelling is all about meeting new people and forming instantaneous bonds with people in often chance situations. Well that's exactly what happens when the two main/only characters meet in a travel agency in Beijing - Carrie is unsuccessfully trying to get a refund on an extra ticket for the Trans-Siberian train and Violet is trying to unsuccessfully buy a ticket for the same sold-out journey. As the two team up, travelling through Mongolia, Serbia and into Russia, it could've been the start of a beautiful friendship but this a thriller after all so it quickly becomes a tale of obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships.
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}}
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{{Frontpage
 +
|isbn=1912374838
 +
|title=Nothing Important Happened Today
 +
|author=Will Carver
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Home and Family
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|genre=General Fiction
|summary=This is the second volume by the panelists from that nice ITV series, ''Loose Women''. Just as promised on the cover, this book is an entertaining night with the girls.  It turns out that they're just like us. The faces are already familiar and even if you don't know them yet, with nine contributors, you'll soon find a like-minded woman behind one of the celebrity faces.  The women are universally warm-hearted and supportive: there will be many a lonely woman who reads this book and feels as if she sat down with a group of friends for the evening.
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|summary=Nothing Important Happened Today is a dark, twisted, difficult read. Stories about cults often are, but this is different; it's written with a sense of style that is quite unlike anything I've read before. I can't remember ever having read a novel with such an odd, distinctive narrative voice. While a slim and relatively small book, the slow-moving nature of the plot makes it feel far larger than its 276 pages.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1444700154</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn= williamabbey
|author=Jean Ure
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|title=The Pursuit of William Abbey
|title=Fortune Cookie
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|author=Claire North
|rating=4.5
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|rating=3.5
|genre=Confident Readers
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|genre=Paranormal
|summary=Fudge Cassidy and the Cupcake kid are best friends.  If the names remind you of a certain film then you'd be spot on as that's where Fudge's father got the idea from. They're actually chalk and cheese – Fudge is loud mouthed and opinionated and Cupcake is quiet and thoughtful – but the combination works. They've just started at secondary school and Cupcake has rather a lot on her plate. Her brother Joey has muscular dystrophy and his problems are becoming more obvious.  Add to this that her father couldn't cope with the problems and he now has another family.  It's just Cupcake, Joey and her mother – and not a lot of money.
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|summary=When William Abbey fails to prevent the lynching of a young boy in 1880's South Africa, he finds himself cursed by the grieving mother. A naïve English Doctor, he slowly learns the weight of the curse upon him, as the shadow of the dead boy begins to follow him across the world. Never stopping, always growing – it crosses oceans and mountains in pursuit of William. As he finds himself unable to resist speaking the truths that he hears in others, he also learns that the dark shadow is deadly – and seeks to kill the one he loves the most…
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0007224621</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1643785036
|author=Jenifer Roberts
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|title=The Wondrous Apothecary
|title=The Madness of Queen Maria: The Remarkable Life of Maria I of Portugal
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|author=Mary E Martin
|rating=4.5
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|genre=Biography
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|summary=Born in 1734 in Lisbon, at that time the richest and most opulent city in Europe, Maria was destined to become the first female monarch in Portuguese history.  Married to her uncle Infante Pedro, seventeen years her senior, she had six children (outliving all but one of them), and became Queen in 1777.  A conscientious woman, she had the misfortune to be born in during the 'age of reason', when church and state were vying for supremacy.  Instinctively a supporter of the old religion, with a humanitarian approach to state affairs, she was no Queen Elizabeth, no Catherine the Great, and wore her crown rather reluctantly.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>095455891X</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=David Hughes
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|title=Thomas Wogan is Dead
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|rating=4.5
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|genre=Graphic Novels
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|summary=Well, with a title like that, need I bother with a plot summary?  A man has a day out in Morecambe, then the next thing he knows he's in the ultimate waiting room, with a strange array of animals (a bat, a toad, a sea urchin...), all waiting for... well, something.  Yup, as you didn't need telling, he's dead.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>095580888X</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Dave Eggers
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|title=The Wild Things
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|rating=4
 
|rating=4
 
|genre=General Fiction
 
|genre=General Fiction
|summary=Meet Max.  When I say he sometimes gets the wrong end of the stick about adults, or dislikes his mother's new boyfriend, or gets a bit feisty when he feels the need for revenge, I am certainly understating the factsHe is a bit of a rascal to say the leastBut all that might change when he finds himself travelling to a strange land of roisterous animals, and ends up installed as their king.
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|summary=Those who have known Alexander Wainwright, the landscape artist famous for his Turner prize winning ''The Hay Wagon'', and Rinaldo, renowned conceptual artist would say that they're chalk and cheese, if not sworn enemiesIf you've watched the relationship, as has our narrator, art dealer Jamie Helmsworth, you'd have said that they were magnets, drawing and repulsing each other in equal measureWainwright was at the socially acceptable end of the artistic continuum, but with Rinaldo it was all too obvious that there was but a fine dividing line between conceptual art and public nuisance.  As time has worn on, he's frequently been brought to the attention of the police.  On this latest occasion we see him charged with arson and theft of ''The Hay Wagon''.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0241144221</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|author=Mary H.K. Choi
|author=Jeremy Strong
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|title=Permanent Record
|title=Christmas Chaos for the Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog
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|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|summary=Trevor's troublesome dog, Streaker, has had three puppies. They were fathered, according to local bully Charlie Smugg, by one of his Alsatians.  Trevor would ideally like to keep them, at least until Christmas, but his parents have other ideas and put them up for sale.  Charlie Smugg declares that he's entitled to half of the money from the sale of the puppies, but before they can be sold the three puppies go missing in the park and it's up to Trevor and his best friend Tina to try and track them down before Charlie demands his cash!
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0141327243</amazonuk>
 
}}
 
 
{{newreview
 
|author=Sarah Beth Durst
 
|title=Ice
 
|rating=3.5
 
 
|genre=Teens
 
|genre=Teens
|summary=Cassie lives on an Arctic research station in Alaska. She loves the ice and the wilderness of her remote home and she'd definitely prefer to spend her time on tracking polar bears and fending off frostbite rather than on mixing with her peers and enjoying college and home comforts back in Fairbanks. However, things aren't all rosy. Cassie's mother died when she was just a baby and she can't help feeling a huge hole in her heart. Her scientist father is remote and unloving and her grandmother left the station after an argument with him when Cassie was still very young.  
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|summary=Pablo, a college drop-out, is working at a New York bodega. He's massively in debt, he's avoiding his mother, and he finds his joy in creating unusual snacks with random ingredients!  Whilst working one evening, he's surprised to discover that the girl he is chatting with as he serves is a super-famous pop star and, as unlikely as it may seem, they start a relationship.  With one character who is trying very hard not to be seen or noticed by anyone, and the other who is seen and followed and hounded by everyone all over the world, it's an interesting clash as they come together. This isn't just a love story though, and actually it's really just Pab's story, about the journey he takes in his life via his meet-up with Leanna Smart.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847386571</amazonuk>
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|isbn=0349003459
 
}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1609809319
|author=Iain Smyth and Michael Terry
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|title=Long-Haired Cat-Boy Cub
|title=The Wide-Mouthed Frog
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|author=Etgar Keret, Aviel Basil and Sondra Silverston (translator)
|rating=4.5
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|genre=For Sharing
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|summary=Do you know the joke about the wide-mouthed frog? You must have heard it. It's a classic. It's one that you really need to tell in person, with your fingers pulling your mouth wide open, but to hopefully spark your memory, the wide-mouthed frog introduces himself to a number of animals until he finally comes across a crocodile who eats wide-mouthed frogs, and the frog does his best to disguise who he is whilst saying ''Ooh, you don't see many of those round here, do you?'' I'm hardly doing it justice, but it's very cheesy and funny. Anyway, this is a book of that joke.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1408804964</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Dr Aaron Carroll and Dr Rachel Vreeman
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|title=Don't Swallow Your Gum
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|rating=5
 
|rating=5
|genre=Lifestyle
 
|summary='''BANG'''.  That's the sound of copious urban myths being shot down.  '''BANG'''.  That's the sound of the old wives slamming the door, as their tales get revealed as baseless.  '''CLICK'''.  That's the noise lots of ill-informed websites make as they get closed down.  All noises come due to this brilliant book.
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0141043369</amazonuk>
 
}}
 
 
{{newreview
 
|author=Annie Taylor
 
|title=Violet
 
|rating=4.5
 
 
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=Violet is a very special hippo. She is extremely small but that does not make her adoptive parents Albert and Mavis love her any the less. However, they are slightly worried that Violet has a very unusual habit of turning pink without warning and for no explicable reason.
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|summary=One day a boy is in the zoo with his father, when the man gets called away on urgent business. The boy isn't hustled into a cab and taken home first, though, no – he's given hot dog money, and taxi money, and told to just stick around on his own and enjoy himself.  Well, it's no surprise that the orphan-for-an-afternoon sensation the lad feels doesn't make him happy, and so he thinks of a species name for himself, and curls himself up into an empty cage, as if he were a new exhibit. And it's then the drama begins…
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1906847371</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1785785516
|author=Hilary Dixon
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|title=Fucking Good Manners
|title=When Rooks Speak of Love
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|author=Simon Griffin
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Literary Fiction
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|genre=Lifestyle
|summary=Arthur Transcombe is a middle-aged, grey-haired, self-effacing poetUnremarkable really - on the outsideHe has, however, managed to achieve some success with his poems(Being a guest speaker at the Cheltenham Literary Festival is no mean feat). He is also a babe magnet!
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|summary=Manners maketh man, they say.  It certainly makes life easier if everybody abides by a set of conventions, some of which are ages old and other which have evolved over timeManners are not about how much to tip or how you should behave if you get an invitation to Buckingham Palace, they have nothing to do with class or financial status:  they're about getting the basics right before we try to deal with more difficult mattersOf course we all have more relaxed manners when we're with family and friends, but it's best if we learn to distinguish between our public and private lives and to act appropriately''Fucking Good Manners'' aims to help us on the way.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1904529429</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=0008324859
|author=A J Healy
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|title=Fowl Twins
|title=Tommy Storm and the Galactic Knights
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|author=Eoin Colfer
|rating=3.5
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|rating=5
 
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=Meet Tommy Storm.  He's one of five teenagers snapped up from around the universe to be a gang of heroic detectives charged with rescuing EVERYTHING from destruction. Not just the planet, or the solar system, or even the galaxy, but EVERYTHING.  Nobody seems to know what's going to cause this destruction, or when, but he and his friends and their ship seem to be the only people proactively going about saving the day. So it's a pity that they start this book strung up by a nasty loony who's about to kill them.
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|summary=Relax, everyone – our old friend Artemis may be off planet, but the baddies aren't getting away with skulduggery any time soon because they now have not one but two members of the Fowl family to contend with. Those cute little twins are now eleven (and, frankly, cute no longer) and in this, their first independent adventure, they meet a troll and without even trying manage to make two deadly enemies: a nobleman obsessed with immortality whatever the cost (to other people), and an unusual interrogator-nun. The boys are chased, kidnapped, arrested and even killed (though not for long), all with the help of one trainee fairy.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847247555</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1472255798
|author=Graham McCann
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|title=The Bad Fire (Bob Skinner)
|title=Bounder!: The Biography of Terry-Thomas
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|author=Quintin Jardine
 
|rating=4.5
 
|rating=4.5
|genre=Biography
 
|summary=When I was in my early teens, it sometimes seemed as if Terry-Thomas was one of the stars of almost every other five-star British comedy film around.  He was certainly one of the most recognizable characters of all with his gap-toothed grin, cigarette holder and inimitable 'Hel-lo!', 'Hard cheese!', and best of all, the angry, 'You're an absolute shower!'
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1845134419</amazonuk>
 
}}
 
 
{{newreview
 
|author=Richard Jay Parker
 
|title=Stop Me
 
|rating=3.5
 
 
|genre=Crime
 
|genre=Crime
|summary=Spam E-Mails can be incredibly annoying, but most of us will have had to deal with them. Fortunately, we can hit the delete button and forget about them as quickly as they came.  I certainly prefer not to torture my friends by sending such rubbish on, no matter how bad my luck is supposed to become if I don't.  But I wonder how many of us would react if a spam E-Mail actually was a matter of life and death, rather than just claiming to be?
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|summary=Nine years ago local councillor Marcia Brown took her own life after being accused of shoplifting from a local supermarket. It's always been assumed that she couldn't live with the shame. People were surprised that she committed suicide just before the court case when she had been adamant that she would fight to clear her name. She said that she'd been set up because she was hot on the trail of corruption in the council. Her ex-husband has contacted Alex Skinner, Solicitor Advocate as well as retired Police Constable Bob Skinner's daughter, and asked that she look into clearing Brown's name: it's something which he feels that he has to do in memory of his son who was murdered recently.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0749007079</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
  
{{newreview
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{{Frontpage
|author=Jeanette Winterson
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|isbn=B07X6GLQ3Q
|title=The Battle of the Sun
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|title=See Them Run
|rating=5
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|author=Marion Todd
|genre=Confident Readers
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|summary=London 1601. Elizabeth I is getting on in years. Her capital city is a busy, bustling place. Boats fill the river and people fill the streets. Jack is happy because it's his birthday and his present is his heart's desire: an excitable black puppy named Max, who's a ''licking and a running and a leaping and a jumping and a tummy in the air and a tail wagging and a barking, racing, braking, spinning energy dog of delight''.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>140880042X</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Jean Ure
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|title=Love and Kisses
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|rating=4.5
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|genre=Confident Readers
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|summary=Tamsin and Katie were just thirteen and worried that they were boring.  They'd been best friends since forever and were the good girls. Neither missed school, skipped her homework nor had boyfriends.  Well, that is, not so far.  Up until then Tamsin had been the boffin head – consistently strong academically and looking forward to going on to university.  All that seemed to change when she met Alex.  Well, when I say 'met' I should perhaps clarify and say that Alex pushed his wheelbarrow into her, from the building site where he worked.  Oh, and did I mention that he was seventeen, Polish and spoke very little English?
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0007281722</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Henry Mintzberg
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|title=Managing
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|rating=5
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|genre=Business and Finance
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|summary=''Study after study has shown that managers work at an unrelenting pace''
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How true, though it always makes me wonder why, as a result, there's such a market for bulky management and leadership and general business books like this one. How does anyone who needs or wants to read one ever find the time to do so? This title actually has an answer to this, by providing two books in one, and it is such a simple yet effective solution that I have to start there. You can read this book in one of two ways. Option one is to read every word, chapter by chapter, cover to cover. If you have the time I would recommend this approach because the book is very readable, not too repetitive, and quite thought-provoking.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0273709305</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Kathryn Fox
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|title=Blood Born
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|rating=4
 
|rating=4
 
|genre=Crime
 
|genre=Crime
|summary=To give support to a vulnerable gang-rape victim, forensic pathologist Anya Crichton offers to drive Giverny Hart to the courthouse on the day she is due to testify against the notorious Harbourn brothers. But when Anya arrives at the house she finds Giverny close to death and faces a battle against time to save her. In the panic, Anya fails to take note of an important clue which might help tell whether it really was suicide or a cleverly staged murder. Worse still, in trying to save the girl's life, Anya has interfered with a crime scene and the case falls apart. She blames herself for the Harbourn brothers being allowed to walk free and only hours later there is news of another attack. A pair of sisters have been stabbed and raped resulting in the death of one, while the other clings to life.
+
|summary=D I Clare Mackay is still relatively new to St Andrew's: she was previously at Maryhill Rd station in Glasgow.  She's left quite a lot behind including a relationship that wasn't going anywhere after Tom failed to support her when the chips were down. She also left a nasty situation, of her own making but not her fault, and St Andrew's is a fresh start. Not long into the job she's faced with a hit and run death and there's little doubt that it wasn't accidental - the card with the number five suggests murder.  Andy Robb was married to Sandra.  You could say that they had an open marriage but there seemed to be a lot of the 'open' and very little of the 'marriage' left - on both sides, but would she want him dead?
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0340933097</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1786540991
|author=Leah Fleming
+
|title=The Impossible Boy
|title=Remembrance Day
+
|author=Ben Brooks
|rating=4
+
|rating=4.5
|genre=Women's Fiction
+
|summary=In the year 2000 an old lady in a wheelchair watches the unveiling of the new war memorial in the village square.  There's pride in what has been achieved, in the family who are gathered around her and there are memories too.  Some are good but many are not.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847561039</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=Neal Layton
+
|title=Surf's Up (Mammoth Academy)
+
|rating=3.5
+
 
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=Having successfully seen off the rather unpleasant humans in earlier volumes, our favourite junior mammoths Oscar and Arabella have nothing much else to do apart from return to Mammoth Academy for lots more double periods of Difficult Sums. They're supposed to be making presentations about what they did during the holidays too, but Oscar hasn't done any preparation and, frankly, he can't really remember what he actually did do with all that free time other than no Difficult Sums.
+
|summary=''Oleg and Emma entered their den to find a cardboard spaceship standing where they usually sat. Slowly, the front door opened. Smoke billowed out. And out stepped a boy, dressed in a long coat with an even longer scarf, wound around his neck.''
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>034098967X</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
  
{{newreview
 
|author=Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb
 
|title=The Princess Who Had No Kingdom
 
|rating=4
 
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|summary=The princess who has no kingdom wanders around in a cart pulled by her horse Pretty. She's very polite, friendly, and kind-hearted, but she feels like something is lacking because she doesn't have a kingdom of her own. The other royals she meets treat her nicely enough, but there's always a feeling that she's not quite as good as them because she isn't the princess of anywhere.
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1846160421</amazonuk>
 
}}
 
  
{{newreview
+
''"My name's Sebastian Cole," the boy said, "But you already know that."''
|author=Mij Kelly and Louise Nisbet
+
|title=The Happiest Man in the World or the Mouse Who Made Christmas
+
|rating=4
+
|genre=For Sharing
+
|summary=Mouse doesn't like anyone and keeps herself to herself. Her things are her things and she is too selfish to share them with anyone else. One day, an old man moves in to Mouse's house. He used to be the happiest man in the world, but now he's sad. He's fed up of having given, given, given all his life and never got anything back. He just sits quietly and mopes. This makes Mouse miserable, so one day she decides to cheer him up by giving him a clementine...
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0340931558</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
  
{{newreview
+
And indeed they do. Ever since the summer, when their friend Sarah's mother had moved her away, Oleg and Emma have been unable to find a new friend to take her place.
|author=Nick Bland
+
|title=The Very Cranky Bear
+
|rating=4
+
|genre=For Sharing
+
|summary=Moose, Lion, Zebra and Sheep head into a cave to get out of the rain, but little do they know that Bear is fast asleep in there. When they wake him up, he roars at them, chasing them outside, so they decide to cheer him up somehow. Zebra paints stripes on him, Moose fashions antlers for him and Lion sticks a mane of straw on him. Unsurprisingly, this makes Bear even crankier, so it's down to Sheep to save the day...
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0340989424</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1447281357
|author=Kes Gray and Lee Wildish
+
|title=Salvation Lost
|title=Mum and Dad Glue
+
|author=Peter F Hamilton
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=For Sharing
+
|genre=Science Fiction
|summary=A young boy's parents are splitting up. He's going through the usual emotions that children of divorce go through: worry, feeling unsure, blaming himself, anger, denial, and then trying to get them to stay together. His method for this isn't the usual response though: he looks for glue to stick his mum and dad together. Thankfully, he finds some wise and kindly advice in the process.
+
|summary=In the twenty-third century, humanity is enjoying a comparative utopia. Yet life on Earth is about to change, forever. Feriton Kane's investigative team has discovered the worst threat ever to face mankind – and we've almost no time to fight back. The supposedly benign Olyix plan to harvest humanity, in order to carry us to their god at the end of the universe. And as their agents conclude schemes down on earth, vast warships converge above to gather this cargo. Some factions push for humanity to flee, to live in hiding amongst the stars – although only a chosen few would make it out in time. But others refuse to break before the storm. As disaster looms, animosities must be set aside to focus on just one goal: wiping this enemy from the face of creation. Even if it means preparing for a future this generation will never see.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0340957107</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1471186393
|author=Clara Vulliamy
+
|title=Photographer of the Lost
|title=The Bear With Sticky Paws Won't Go To Bed
+
|author=Caroline Scott
|rating=4
+
|rating=4.5
|genre=For Sharing
+
|genre=Historical Fiction
|summary=It's Pearl's bedtime, but she says she's really busy and isn't going to sleep. She just wants to play and play and play. When the bear with sticky paws rings the doorbell, he whisks her away on an amazing adventure - although as you might expect, the bear has a little more energy than Pearl and eventually she does get a little sleepy.
+
|summary=May 1921. Edie receives a photograph through the post. There is no letter or note with it.  There is nothing written on the back of the photograph.  It is a picture of her husband, Francis.  Francis has been missing for four years.  Technically, he has been "missing, believed killed" but that is not something that a young widow can believe.  She hangs on the word 'missing', disbelieving the word killed.  
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1408300648</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1783784350
|author=Stephen Mackey
+
|title=This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History
|title=Miki
+
|author=Esther Rutter
|rating=4
+
|genre=For Sharing
+
|summary=It's cold, dark and icy, and Miki and Penguin are trudging through the snow. But it's Midwinter Eve, when wishes come true. They wish for a tree, lights, someone strong to power the lights, and finally a star that will shine brightly forever. Miki is taken deep below the ice to find the star, whilst up top Penguin and new friend Polar Bear start to worry about her.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>034095065X</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=Kristin Cashore
+
|title=Fire
+
 
|rating=5
 
|rating=5
|genre=Fantasy
+
|genre=History
|summary=Possessed of great beauty, the kind that drives men mad, Fire is used to people trying to kill her. She isn't used to them doing it by accident. When a poacher in the woods outside her home accidentally shoots her, Fire is hard pressed to keep the temperamental Lord Archer from killing him. But as sure as Fire is the man did not mean to cause her harm, she is made unsure by the strange fog that exists in the man's mind.
+
|summary=It was December and Esther Rutter was stuck in her office job, writing to people she'd never met and preparing spreadsheets. The job frustrated her and even her knitting did not soothe her mind.  January was going to be a time for making changes and she decided that she would travel the length and breadth of the British Isles with occasional forays abroad, discovering and telling the story of wool's history and how it had made and changed the landscape.  She'd grown up on a sheep farm in Suffolk - '' a free range child on the farm'' - and learned to spin, knit and weave from her mother and her mother's friend.  This was in her blood.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1905200129</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1401286208
|author=Justin Scroggie
+
|title=Black Canary: Ignite
|title=Eye Spy: Uncovering the Secrets of the World Around You
+
|author=Meg Cabot and Cara McGee
|rating=4
+
|rating=3.5
|genre=Trivia
+
|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=Signs are everywhere. I wasn't really one of those who thought our roads were littered with too many traffic signs until the day I was driven past a pair of speed regulation signs, positioned at the exit end of a one-way street but facing the illegal way up it. Not all signs, of course, are quite as unnecessary, or indeed as blatantly visible, which is where this pictorial guide to countless coded messages, signifiers and other similar factoids comes in.
+
|summary=Meet Dinah Lance. Frustrated that her policeman father will not allow her to try and follow in his footsteps, and seemingly lumbered with being a cheerleader at school, she is desperate to find her voice. But it's actually more a case of her voice finding her, as when she gets frustrated or plain dissed at school her vocal outcry can shatter glass better than any opera singer. You could almost call it a weapon, or a power. But in order for her to call herself a superhero, there has to be a whole path of steps for her to take – one of which will be into her past…
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0340994487</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1789017977
|author=Jose Saramago
+
|title=Ronnie and Hilda's Romance: Towards a New Life after World War II
|title=Small Memories
+
|author=Wendy Williams
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Autobiography
+
|genre=History
|summary=Having been born in 1922 and lived through so much of the twentieth century, with an author's view of change and people, Jose Saramago has certainly experienced a lotCivil Wars in the neighbouring Spain; the growth of his country - which still left it as western Europe's poorestHere he allows us witness to his mind drifting through his childhood, in the country and in Lisbon, and provides a subtle and gentle memoir.
+
|summary=Ronnie Williams was the son of Thomas Henry Williams (known as Harry) and Ethel Wall.  There's some doubt as to whether or not they were ever married or even Harry's birthdate: he claimed to have been born in 1863, but he was already many years older than Ethel and he might well have shaved a few years off his ageFor a while the family was quite well-to-do but disaster struck in the 1929 Depression and five-year-old Ronnie had to adjust to a very different lifestyleOne thing he did inherit from his father was his need to be well-turned-out and this would stay with him throughout his life.  He joined the army at eighteen in 1942.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>184655148X</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1542015421
|author=Eoin Colfer
+
|title=The Royal Baths Murder
|title=And Another Thing ... Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Part Six of Three (Hitchhikers Guide 6)
+
|author=J R Ellis
 
|rating=3.5
 
|rating=3.5
|genre=Science Fiction
+
|genre=Crime
|summary=Of all the big books announced for this year, this one must have raised more eyebrows than manyWhy try and write a new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book, when way before the end, its creator Douglas Adams was proving quite hopeless at such a task? And why approach an Irishman, Eoin Colfer, when the originals - tempered with their humour which could only be described as Monty Python doing a sci-fi Terry Pratchett, and with their cups of tea and dressing gowns, could only be described as very English?  Well the answer is most evident - Colfer is a world-beater when it comes to knocking up a story.
+
|summary=When Damian Penrose was murdered there was no shortage of suspects: he was a deeply unpleasant man.  In fact the only surprising thing was that there wasn't more of a queue waiting to do the dirty deedWhat was a bit of a headline maker was that Penrose was a crime writer and that he was strangled in the midst of Harrogate's crime writing festival.  He went for a swim at the Royal Baths and never returned, his body being found by the receptionist. DCI Jim Oldroyd was the man tasked with investigating the crime.  It would not be the only death, and it was only because of the quick actions of his sergeant, Andy Carter, that Oldroyd's was not one of them.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0718155149</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|author=Daniel Kraus
|author=Harlan Coben
+
|title=Blood Sugar
|title=Tell No One
+
|rating=4
|rating=5
+
 
|genre=General Fiction
 
|genre=General Fiction
|summary=I've been meaning to get around to reading some or all of Harlan Coben's work, because if the reviews are to be believed and you are a fan of the 'Bloody Knife /Blunt Instrument' thriller, the man is quite simply not capable of turning out a duff novel.  But you know how it is, what with one thing and another and a bulging pile of books to be read and reviewed, I just somehow hadn't managed to give him my full attention. Until now.
+
|summary=This is a difficult read. And not because of the dark subject matter – that'll come later – but because of the way in which it's told. This might put a lot of readers off, and to be honest it'd be hard to blame them. Kraus tells the story in a distinctive voice unlike any other I've read; an erratic dialect with heavy and frequent slang. The immediate effect is disorientating and distracting, and it takes some time to feel natural. It's a struggle to acclimatise to Jody's voice, to get acquainted with his mannerisms, but the story wouldn't be the same without it, and somehow it works. It shouldn't, but it does.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1409117022</amazonuk>
+
|isbn=1789091934
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=John Peel and Sheila Ravenscroft
+
|title=Margrave of the Marshes
+
|rating=4.5
+
|genre=Entertainment
+
|summary=John Peel was without doubt one of the most important disc jockeys of all time. Born in Merseyside in 1939, he began his career in mid-60s America before returning home to join Radio London and then become one of the original Radio 1 team, where he stayed until his death 37 years later.  I admired the man for his passion for playing the music nobody else would give the time of day (even if I didn't always enjoy it myself) and his readiness to say exactly what he thought, even if it was not what his employers at the BBC wanted to hear, and I always enjoyed reading his columns in the music weeklies and later Radio Times. Nevertheless I found much of his show unlistenable towards the end, recall some of his rather curmudgeonly remarks on air (guest slots on Radio 1's Round Table review programme come to mind), and thought his build-'em-up, knock-'em-down stance rather irritating after a while.  So I approached this book with an open mind as a fan, but not an uncritical one.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0552551198</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez
+
|title=Perfumes: The A - Z Guide
+
|rating=5
+
|genre=Lifestyle
+
|summary=Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. The only thing that could be conceivably better than reading ''Perfumes'' would be to read it while sampling the scents it reviews, but even without the olfactory component, ''Perfumes'' is a delight: Turin (a lyrical scientist) and Sanchez (an analytically enthusiastic collector) not only treat perfume creation as high art, but turn perfume criticism into an art form (or at least a sophisticated genre of writing) too.  
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1846681278</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=David Malouf
+
|title=Ransom
+
|rating=5
+
|genre=Literary Fiction
+
|summary=Taking his theme from a small part of Homer's Iliad, Malouf tells the story of the king of Troy, Priam's grief-stricken voyage into the Greek camp to ransom Troy's wealth for the body of his fallen son, Hector, killed by the equally grief-stricken Achilles whose great friend Hector had killed in battle before Achilles took his cruel revenge. Malouf tells the story in sparse, yet lyrical and poetic fashion suggesting the personal stories behind the epic themes that Homer related. It is an exquisitely written piece managing to be both deeply moving as well as a great piece of story telling.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0701184159</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=Steven M Gillon
+
|title=The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After
+
|rating=4.5
+
|genre=History
+
|summary=The assassination of President Kennedy came at a pivotal moment in my life and for more than forty years I've read most of what has been written about the event. It's been of variable quality, but the books fed the curiosity of people entranced by the charismatic young President who died so publicly.  I'd come to the point of wondering if there was anything new to be said, but Stephen Gillom has looked at what happened from an unusual and largely overlooked angle – the first twenty four hours of Lyndon Johnson's Presidency.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>046501870X</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}

Revision as of 10:15, 17 November 2019

The Bookbag

Hello from The Bookbag, a site featuring books from all the many walks of literary life - fiction, biography, crime, cookery and anything else that takes our fancy. At Bookbag Towers the bookbag sits at the side of the desk. It's the bag we take to the library, the charity shop and the bookshop. Sometimes it holds the latest releases, but at other times there'll be old favourites, books for the children, books for the home. They're sometimes our own books or books from the local library. They're often books sent to us by publishers and we promise to tell you exactly what we think about them. You might not want to read through a full review, so we'll give you a quick review which summarises what we felt about the book and tells you whether or not we think you should buy or borrow it. There are also lots of author interviews, and all sorts of top tens - all of which you can find on our features page. If you're stuck for something to read, check out the recommendations page.

There are currently 15,319 reviews at TheBookbag.

Want to find out more about us?

Reviews of the Best New Books

Read new reviews by category.

Read the latest features.

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A Dictionary of Interesting and Important Dogs by Peter J Conradi

4star.jpg Pets

I struggle to resist a book about dogs, but I did wonder why this one was so thin: given that I've never encountered a dog who wasn't interesting or important - and probably both, I was expecting a massive tome. But A Dictionary of Interesting and Important Dogs is actually a rich compendium of the world's most significant and beloved dogs and it's certainly a rich treasure trove. We begin with Peter J Conradi's four collies: Cloudy, Sky. Bradley and Max. They're consecutive rather than simultaneous dogs, but what comes over is Conradi's love for each and every one of them. I knew that I was in safe hands. Full Review

1785769294.jpg

Man at the Window (Detective Cardilini) by Robert Jeffreys

4.5star.jpg Crime

It's when we read that a young boy is creeping reluctantly to a teacher's bedroom one October night that we realise something is badly wrong. Nowadays you might hope that something would be done about it fairly quickly but this was 1965 and child abuse was generally regarded as malicious mischief on the part of the child. The boy would be safe that night though - albeit in the most horrific fashion. When he reached Captain Edmund's bedroom he found the man dead on the floor, the top of his skull missing. The school's initial reaction was that this was a dreadful accident: there had been a cull of kangaroos in some nearby fields and it was obviously a stray bullet which had killed the Captain. Full Review

1786695227.jpg

Invisible in a Bright Light by Sally Gardner

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

The beginning of this excellent story will leave the reader more than a little confused: who is the man in the green suit, what is the Reckoning, and why are rows of people in a cave? But stick with it – Ms Gardner is very cleverly letting us experience the same disorientation as our heroine. We watch in dismay as the strange man, who seems to have no eyes, does his best to persuade her to answer his questions. But for some reason Celeste, despite her bewilderment, remains wary and gives nothing away. Full Review

1912374854.jpg

Violet by S J I Holliday

3.5star.jpg Thrillers

I've never been but understand that travelling is all about meeting new people and forming instantaneous bonds with people in often chance situations. Well that's exactly what happens when the two main/only characters meet in a travel agency in Beijing - Carrie is unsuccessfully trying to get a refund on an extra ticket for the Trans-Siberian train and Violet is trying to unsuccessfully buy a ticket for the same sold-out journey. As the two team up, travelling through Mongolia, Serbia and into Russia, it could've been the start of a beautiful friendship but this a thriller after all so it quickly becomes a tale of obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships. Full Review

1912374838.jpg

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

4star.jpg General Fiction

Nothing Important Happened Today is a dark, twisted, difficult read. Stories about cults often are, but this is different; it's written with a sense of style that is quite unlike anything I've read before. I can't remember ever having read a novel with such an odd, distinctive narrative voice. While a slim and relatively small book, the slow-moving nature of the plot makes it feel far larger than its 276 pages. Full Review

Williamabbey.jpg

The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North

3.5star.jpg Paranormal

When William Abbey fails to prevent the lynching of a young boy in 1880's South Africa, he finds himself cursed by the grieving mother. A naïve English Doctor, he slowly learns the weight of the curse upon him, as the shadow of the dead boy begins to follow him across the world. Never stopping, always growing – it crosses oceans and mountains in pursuit of William. As he finds himself unable to resist speaking the truths that he hears in others, he also learns that the dark shadow is deadly – and seeks to kill the one he loves the most… Full Review

1643785036.jpg

The Wondrous Apothecary by Mary E Martin

4star.jpg General Fiction

Those who have known Alexander Wainwright, the landscape artist famous for his Turner prize winning The Hay Wagon, and Rinaldo, renowned conceptual artist would say that they're chalk and cheese, if not sworn enemies. If you've watched the relationship, as has our narrator, art dealer Jamie Helmsworth, you'd have said that they were magnets, drawing and repulsing each other in equal measure. Wainwright was at the socially acceptable end of the artistic continuum, but with Rinaldo it was all too obvious that there was but a fine dividing line between conceptual art and public nuisance. As time has worn on, he's frequently been brought to the attention of the police. On this latest occasion we see him charged with arson and theft of The Hay Wagon. Full Review

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Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

4star.jpg Teens

Pablo, a college drop-out, is working at a New York bodega. He's massively in debt, he's avoiding his mother, and he finds his joy in creating unusual snacks with random ingredients! Whilst working one evening, he's surprised to discover that the girl he is chatting with as he serves is a super-famous pop star and, as unlikely as it may seem, they start a relationship. With one character who is trying very hard not to be seen or noticed by anyone, and the other who is seen and followed and hounded by everyone all over the world, it's an interesting clash as they come together. This isn't just a love story though, and actually it's really just Pab's story, about the journey he takes in his life via his meet-up with Leanna Smart. Full Review

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Long-Haired Cat-Boy Cub by Etgar Keret, Aviel Basil and Sondra Silverston (translator)

5star.jpg Confident Readers

One day a boy is in the zoo with his father, when the man gets called away on urgent business. The boy isn't hustled into a cab and taken home first, though, no – he's given hot dog money, and taxi money, and told to just stick around on his own and enjoy himself. Well, it's no surprise that the orphan-for-an-afternoon sensation the lad feels doesn't make him happy, and so he thinks of a species name for himself, and curls himself up into an empty cage, as if he were a new exhibit. And it's then the drama begins… Full Review

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Fucking Good Manners by Simon Griffin

4star.jpg Lifestyle

Manners maketh man, they say. It certainly makes life easier if everybody abides by a set of conventions, some of which are ages old and other which have evolved over time. Manners are not about how much to tip or how you should behave if you get an invitation to Buckingham Palace, they have nothing to do with class or financial status: they're about getting the basics right before we try to deal with more difficult matters. Of course we all have more relaxed manners when we're with family and friends, but it's best if we learn to distinguish between our public and private lives and to act appropriately. Fucking Good Manners aims to help us on the way. Full Review

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Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Relax, everyone – our old friend Artemis may be off planet, but the baddies aren't getting away with skulduggery any time soon because they now have not one but two members of the Fowl family to contend with. Those cute little twins are now eleven (and, frankly, cute no longer) and in this, their first independent adventure, they meet a troll and without even trying manage to make two deadly enemies: a nobleman obsessed with immortality whatever the cost (to other people), and an unusual interrogator-nun. The boys are chased, kidnapped, arrested and even killed (though not for long), all with the help of one trainee fairy. Full Review

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The Bad Fire (Bob Skinner) by Quintin Jardine

4.5star.jpg Crime

Nine years ago local councillor Marcia Brown took her own life after being accused of shoplifting from a local supermarket. It's always been assumed that she couldn't live with the shame. People were surprised that she committed suicide just before the court case when she had been adamant that she would fight to clear her name. She said that she'd been set up because she was hot on the trail of corruption in the council. Her ex-husband has contacted Alex Skinner, Solicitor Advocate as well as retired Police Constable Bob Skinner's daughter, and asked that she look into clearing Brown's name: it's something which he feels that he has to do in memory of his son who was murdered recently. Full Review

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See Them Run by Marion Todd

4star.jpg Crime

D I Clare Mackay is still relatively new to St Andrew's: she was previously at Maryhill Rd station in Glasgow. She's left quite a lot behind including a relationship that wasn't going anywhere after Tom failed to support her when the chips were down. She also left a nasty situation, of her own making but not her fault, and St Andrew's is a fresh start. Not long into the job she's faced with a hit and run death and there's little doubt that it wasn't accidental - the card with the number five suggests murder. Andy Robb was married to Sandra. You could say that they had an open marriage but there seemed to be a lot of the 'open' and very little of the 'marriage' left - on both sides, but would she want him dead? Full Review

1786540991.jpg

The Impossible Boy by Ben Brooks

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Oleg and Emma entered their den to find a cardboard spaceship standing where they usually sat. Slowly, the front door opened. Smoke billowed out. And out stepped a boy, dressed in a long coat with an even longer scarf, wound around his neck.


"My name's Sebastian Cole," the boy said, "But you already know that."

And indeed they do. Ever since the summer, when their friend Sarah's mother had moved her away, Oleg and Emma have been unable to find a new friend to take her place. Full Review

1447281357.jpg

Salvation Lost by Peter F Hamilton

4star.jpg Science Fiction

In the twenty-third century, humanity is enjoying a comparative utopia. Yet life on Earth is about to change, forever. Feriton Kane's investigative team has discovered the worst threat ever to face mankind – and we've almost no time to fight back. The supposedly benign Olyix plan to harvest humanity, in order to carry us to their god at the end of the universe. And as their agents conclude schemes down on earth, vast warships converge above to gather this cargo. Some factions push for humanity to flee, to live in hiding amongst the stars – although only a chosen few would make it out in time. But others refuse to break before the storm. As disaster looms, animosities must be set aside to focus on just one goal: wiping this enemy from the face of creation. Even if it means preparing for a future this generation will never see. Full Review

1471186393.jpg

Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

4.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

May 1921. Edie receives a photograph through the post. There is no letter or note with it. There is nothing written on the back of the photograph. It is a picture of her husband, Francis. Francis has been missing for four years. Technically, he has been "missing, believed killed" but that is not something that a young widow can believe. She hangs on the word 'missing', disbelieving the word killed. Full Review

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This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History by Esther Rutter

5star.jpg History

It was December and Esther Rutter was stuck in her office job, writing to people she'd never met and preparing spreadsheets. The job frustrated her and even her knitting did not soothe her mind. January was going to be a time for making changes and she decided that she would travel the length and breadth of the British Isles with occasional forays abroad, discovering and telling the story of wool's history and how it had made and changed the landscape. She'd grown up on a sheep farm in Suffolk - a free range child on the farm - and learned to spin, knit and weave from her mother and her mother's friend. This was in her blood. Full Review

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Black Canary: Ignite by Meg Cabot and Cara McGee

3.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Meet Dinah Lance. Frustrated that her policeman father will not allow her to try and follow in his footsteps, and seemingly lumbered with being a cheerleader at school, she is desperate to find her voice. But it's actually more a case of her voice finding her, as when she gets frustrated or plain dissed at school her vocal outcry can shatter glass better than any opera singer. You could almost call it a weapon, or a power. But in order for her to call herself a superhero, there has to be a whole path of steps for her to take – one of which will be into her past… Full Review

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Ronnie and Hilda's Romance: Towards a New Life after World War II by Wendy Williams

4star.jpg History

Ronnie Williams was the son of Thomas Henry Williams (known as Harry) and Ethel Wall. There's some doubt as to whether or not they were ever married or even Harry's birthdate: he claimed to have been born in 1863, but he was already many years older than Ethel and he might well have shaved a few years off his age. For a while the family was quite well-to-do but disaster struck in the 1929 Depression and five-year-old Ronnie had to adjust to a very different lifestyle. One thing he did inherit from his father was his need to be well-turned-out and this would stay with him throughout his life. He joined the army at eighteen in 1942. Full Review

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The Royal Baths Murder by J R Ellis

3.5star.jpg Crime

When Damian Penrose was murdered there was no shortage of suspects: he was a deeply unpleasant man. In fact the only surprising thing was that there wasn't more of a queue waiting to do the dirty deed. What was a bit of a headline maker was that Penrose was a crime writer and that he was strangled in the midst of Harrogate's crime writing festival. He went for a swim at the Royal Baths and never returned, his body being found by the receptionist. DCI Jim Oldroyd was the man tasked with investigating the crime. It would not be the only death, and it was only because of the quick actions of his sergeant, Andy Carter, that Oldroyd's was not one of them. Full Review

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Blood Sugar by Daniel Kraus

4star.jpg General Fiction

This is a difficult read. And not because of the dark subject matter – that'll come later – but because of the way in which it's told. This might put a lot of readers off, and to be honest it'd be hard to blame them. Kraus tells the story in a distinctive voice unlike any other I've read; an erratic dialect with heavy and frequent slang. The immediate effect is disorientating and distracting, and it takes some time to feel natural. It's a struggle to acclimatise to Jody's voice, to get acquainted with his mannerisms, but the story wouldn't be the same without it, and somehow it works. It shouldn't, but it does. Full Review