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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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'''Read [[:Category:Features|the latest features]].''' <!-- INSERT NEW REVIEWS BELOW HERE-->
|author=Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark
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{{Frontpage
|title=The Best of Times
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|isbn=1780724047
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|title=A Dictionary of Interesting and Important Dogs
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|author=Peter J Conradi
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|rating=4
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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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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=1785769294
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|title=Man at the Window (Detective Cardilini)
 +
|author=Robert Jeffreys
 
|rating=4.5
 
|rating=4.5
|genre=Confident Readers
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|genre=Crime
|summary=Most children enjoy a good traditional tale and this lovely book by Michael Morpurgo seems to have all the right ingredients – a handsome prince and a beautiful princess who fall in love, get married and live happily ever after. Or do they? Sadly, not long after Prince Frederico marries the lovely Princess Serafina, she becomes very sad. Nobody knows what has caused such great sadness, but poor Prince Frederico is desperate to find a cure for his wife's misery. He tries everything in his power and eventually decides to offer his kingdom to anyone who can make her happy again before she dies of a broken heart. Lots of people come to the palace to try and help but in the end the solution is a simple one provided by some very kind travellers.
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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 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.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1405232552</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1786695227
|author=Shirley Jackson
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|title=Invisible in a Bright Light
|title=We Have Always Lived In The Castle
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|author=Sally Gardner
 
|rating=4.5
 
|rating=4.5
|genre=Literary Fiction
 
|summary=Mary Katherine Blackwood, also known as Merricat, is eighteen, and lives with her older sister Constance in the family home where 'Blackwoods had always lived'. Merricat quickly draws the reader into her world by a series of matter of fact but bizarre statements – her likes include her sister and death cap mushrooms, and everyone else in her family is dead. The wealthy Blackwood family has always kept the house 'steady against the world', shutting out other people, and they live near a village. Merricat believes that 'The people of the village have always hated us', and tells us that she hates them too.
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0141191457</amazonuk>
 
}}
 
 
{{newreview
 
|author=Simon Weston
 
|title=Nelson to the Rescue
 
|rating=4
 
 
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=Nelson used to pull Mike the Milk's milk float, but he has now retired.  He lives in the stable at the back of the dairy along with a couple of tricky rats, Rhodri and Rhys, a pigeon who has no sense of direction, a frog who thinks he's a secret agent spy and an old racehorse who spends most of his time sleeping. Rhodri and Rhys find a mysterious message on Mike's fridge and the animals believe that Mike has been invited to Buckingham Palace to receive an MBE. Somehow our hero, Nelson, finds himself travelling down to London, pulling a ceremonial coach for Prince Charles as well as giving a TV interview about his experience.
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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>1848510454</amazonuk>
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}}{{newreview
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|author=Elizabeth Baines
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|title=Too Many Magpies
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|rating=4
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|genre=Literary Fiction
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|summary=Becoming a mother brings a whole new world of fear into your life.  Suddenly you see the danger in every situation, and fear and trepidation can be become your constant companions.  In this novella, we meet a young mother who is married to a logical scientist.  They attempt to control their children's futures on a scientific basis, growing their own fruit and vegetables, giving their children nothing sugary, eating no eggs for a whole year until any adverse affects from them were disproved.  But after meeting with an enigmatic stranger our young mother begins to struggle as he introduces ideas of freedom into her world. She begins an affair with him, begins to let things slip at home and with the children, yet finds she is still continuously haunted by the sense of an ever-present danger.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1844717216</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1912374854
|author=Katherine May
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|title=Violet
|title=Burning Out
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|author=S J I Holliday
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|rating=3.5
 +
|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
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|isbn=1912374838
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|title=Nothing Important Happened Today
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|author=Will Carver
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Literary Fiction
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|genre=General Fiction
|summary=Violet has it all – a well-paid job, and a luxurious apartment all to herself. Everything is catered for; her meals, her clothes, and her health are all how she would like them to be. But the life she is leading is beginning to take its toll. On the verge of snapping, a drained and somewhat out-of-sorts Violet, withdraws back to her home town. There, she meets someone familiar, a ghost reminding her of how she used to be ten years earlier – a young carefree girl, full of life. Only this isn't a ghost, but a girl living the life Violet once lived – exactly the same. Haunted by the past Violet realizes history is repeating itself and is convinced events will happen again. Events that will in turn haunt the girl.
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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>1906727392</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn= williamabbey
|author=Amanda Downum
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|title=The Pursuit of William Abbey
|title=The Drowning City
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|author=Claire North
 
|rating=3.5
 
|rating=3.5
|genre=Fantasy
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|genre=Paranormal
|summary=In a nutshell, you're reading this because you're wondering whether The Drowning City is good, bad or mediocre. You've probably glanced at the rating and guessed the latter. I'm afraid it's not quite that simple. This is a debut that provokes decidedly mixed feelings.  I started off convinced that I was going to love this book. The cover art is effortlessly cool, the premise intriguing, the characters laden with potential for greatness and the backdrop is certainly evocative.
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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>1841498149</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1643785036
|author=Tove Jansson
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|title=The Wondrous Apothecary
|title=The True Deceiver
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|author=Mary E Martin
|rating=5
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|genre=Literary Fiction
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|summary=Most people of my age will have come across Jansson's work unwittingly, via the televised renditions of the Moomin tales.  The readers amongst us would then have been entranced a few years ago to discover that at last Thomas Teal had set about the translation into English, first of The Summer Book and then of a collection of short stories which were published as 'A Winter Book'.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0954899571</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Daniel Kehlmann
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|title=Me and Kaminski
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|rating=4.5
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|genre=Literary Fiction
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|summary=After reviewing several long books, it's been refreshing to read such a fluent yet pared down story as 'Kaminski and Me'. In it, Sebastian Zollner, the obnoxious main character, shoves himself forward in a desperate attempt to research a best seller which will re-ignite his career as an art critic. Kaminski, the proposed subject, was a fashionable painter long ago, but now, ancient and chronically ill, has virtually slid into oblivion.  So the second-rate writer is on a loser unless he can dig up some juicy details to hook the art world and general public.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847249892</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Louis Barfe
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|title=Turned Out Nice Again: The Story of British Light Entertainment
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|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Entertainment
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|genre=General Fiction
|summary=Light entertainment is often looked down upon, as if it's a bit naff, tepid and ignorable. What's often forgotten is that it's hugely popular, enjoyable and much of it is of the highest quality. Louis Barfe's Turned Out Nice Again tells the complete story of British light entertainment.
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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 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''.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1843543818</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|author=Mary H.K. Choi
|author=Jim Helmore and Karen Wall
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|title=Permanent Record
|title=Oh No, Monster Tomato!
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|rating=4
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|genre=For Sharing
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|summary=Marvin is entering the Great Grislygust Grow-Off, but just like him, his tomatoes aren't growing very big. He takes the only sensible course of action: he sings his tomatoes a song. The results are spectacular. Victory is surely within his grasp.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>140524741X</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Joseph Delaney
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|title=The Spook's Stories: Witches
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|rating=4
 
|rating=4
 
|genre=Teens
 
|genre=Teens
|summary='Warning: Not to be read after dark,' are the only words on the back of ''The Spook's Stories'', and on the inside flap, 'The Times' warns us that this book is 'seriously scary'...
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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.
 
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|isbn=0349003459
The whole thing kicks-off relatively tamely, though, with a story about a young Spook (a sort of monster-hunter) who falls in love with a witch and is forced to bear the consequences when the witch's sister comes to stay and exhibits a taste for the neighbor-children.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0370329961</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1609809319
|author=Lisa Unger
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|title=Long-Haired Cat-Boy Cub
|title=Die For You
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|author=Etgar Keret, Aviel Basil and Sondra Silverston (translator)
|rating=3.5
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|rating=5
|genre=Crime
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|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=Best-selling novelist Isabel Connelly is married to successful video game designer Marcus Raine. Or so she thinks. But when her husband fails to return from work, she realises something is wrong. Going to his office to try to find out what happens to him, she gets attacked and ends up in hospital, while his co-workers are killed. Things get worse for her, however, when investigating detective Grady Crowe reveals that Marcus Raine has been dead for several years, and the man she married was using a false identity. Infuriated by the betrayal, and the realisation that she's been living a lie for the past five years, Izzy takes matters into her own hands and sets out to find her husband and work out why he lied to her for so long. Ignoring police warnings, she delves deeper and deeper into a nasty underworld, and finds a tale which has its roots in Prague and rivals anything she could have plotted in one of her novels.
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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>0099522179</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1785785516
|author=Lisa McMann
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|title=Fucking Good Manners
|title=Wake
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|author=Simon Griffin
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Teens
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|genre=Lifestyle
|summary=Janie is seventeen and studying hard for college. She's also working lots of hours at a local nursing home to earn money for college as it's unlikely her alcoholic mother is going to provide much in the way of resources. College is Janie's only chance at a life better than the one she's lived so far and so you can't blame her for being so single-minded in the pursuit of her goal. Only one thing stands in her way...
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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 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.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847385036</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=0008324859
|author=Jaclyn Moriarty
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|title=Fowl Twins
|title=The Spell Book of Listen Taylor
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|author=Eoin Colfer
|rating=3.5
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|rating=5
|genre=Teens
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|summary=Listen Taylor's father has just moved in with his girlfriend and they are adopted into the Zing family, with all of its delightful eccentricities and unusual behaviour – the Zings meet every Friday night for dinner and then disappear into the garden shed to work on the 'Zing Family Secret'. Marbie Zing is terrified of doing something wrong and losing Nathaniel and Listen. Her sister Fancy is becoming increasingly disillusioned with her home life, and her daughter's year two teacher is coming to terms with a break up. The stories of these people come together to create a tale of life, love, and ultimately, what being part of a family means.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0330446363</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=F G Cottam
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|title=The Magdalena Curse
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|rating=2.5
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|genre=Horror
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|summary=Mark Hunter is the sort of father who would do anything for his son. After losing his wife and daughter in a tragic accident, his surviving son Adam has become his whole world. And Adam is an exceptional child – beautiful, incredibly smart and mature beyond his ten years – only recently he's been channelling the voices of the dead. Plagued by horrific dreams, able to speak Russian in the hours after he wakes, drawing occult symbols when he doodles, Hunter believes Adam to be possessed. Doctor Elizabeth Bancroft is sceptical, until she meets Adam, and witnesses the horrors the poor boy endures for herself.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0340980982</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Jon Berkeley
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|title=The Lightning Key (Circus Trilogy)
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|rating=4.5
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|genre=Confident Readers
 
|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=I shall start with a word of advice. When you're being hounded by a circus master, and a magician, for the soul of a tiger that's contained in a tiger's egg that's contained in the brain of your teddy bear, and your best friend - a fallen angel - is trying her best to make sure the other angels do not turn on you in a big way - then you're probably living the third book in a fantasy trilogy. Still - never mind, the angel's efforts will involve you entering a dream world of flight and cloud cities, the chase after your enemies will take you across the world to desert oases and back, and friends new and old will be on board to help.
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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>1847384447</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
 
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{{Frontpage
{{newreview
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|isbn=1472255798
|author=Sue Townsend
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|title=The Bad Fire (Bob Skinner)
|title=Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years
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|author=Quintin Jardine
|rating=5
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|genre=General Fiction
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|summary=Adrian Mole is now 39¼ and living, quite literally, in a pigsty, sharing an all too thin party wall with his parents and working in a bookshop. It's not quite how life was supposed to turn out. As he spends his days wrestling his strong willed 5 year old Gracie into her school uniform, trying to reassure glamorous wife Daisy that life in the provinces is not as bad as she would like to believe, and desperately attempting to talk his mother out of her quest to appear on the vile ''Jeremy Kyle'' show, worrying over his increasingly frequent visits to the toilet is really the last thing he needs. And yet, the worst is still to come. Think a crumbling economy, redundancy, affairs, death, a family member challenging him in the novel writing stakes and a query over the big C – it's going to be a tough year for the Moles, and there's little that ol' Adrian can do except sit back and watch his life spin out of control around him.
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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0718153707</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Lauren Kate
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|title=Fallen
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|rating=4.5
 
|rating=4.5
|genre=Teens
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|genre=Crime
|summary=A 17 year old girl at a new school meets a mysterious and impossibly good-looking boy, who she's immediately drawn to. He seems determined to either ignore her or be outright rude to her, until he saves her life, and the two of them end up drawn together. This isn't Stephenie Meyer's ''Twilight'', but it certainly has striking similarities.
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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>0385738935</amazonuk>
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}}
 
}}
  
{{newreview
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{{Frontpage
|author=Gareth Hinds
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|isbn=B07X6GLQ3Q
|title=King Lear
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|title=See Them Run
|rating=3
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|author=Marion Todd
|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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|author=Paul Theroux
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|title=A Dead Hand: A Crime in Calcutta
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|rating=3.5
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|genre=General Fiction
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|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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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0241144639</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Toby Lester
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|title=The Fourth Part of the World: The Epic Story of History's Greatest Map
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|rating=4.5
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|genre=History
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|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 display.  No 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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|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1861978030</amazonuk>
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}}
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{{newreview
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|author=Steven Lowe and Alan McArthur
+
|title=Is it Just Me or Has the Shit Hit the Fan?: Your Hilarious New Guide to Unremitting Global Misery
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|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
+
|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.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1405248246</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=Loose Women
+
|title=Here Come the Girls
+
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Home and Family
+
|genre=Crime
|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 girlsIt 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 facesThe 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.
+
|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 startNot 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 murderAndy 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>1444700154</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1786540991
|author=Jean Ure
+
|title=The Impossible Boy
|title=Fortune Cookie
+
|author=Ben Brooks
 
|rating=4.5
 
|rating=4.5
 
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|genre=Confident Readers
|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.
+
|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>0007224621</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
  
{{newreview
 
|author=Jenifer Roberts
 
|title=The Madness of Queen Maria: The Remarkable Life of Maria I of Portugal
 
|rating=4.5
 
|genre=Biography
 
|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.
 
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>095455891X</amazonuk>
 
}}
 
  
{{newreview
+
''"My name's Sebastian Cole," the boy said, "But you already know that."''
|author=David Hughes
+
|title=Thomas Wogan is Dead
+
|rating=4.5
+
|genre=Graphic Novels
+
|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.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>095580888X</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=Dave Eggers
+
|title=The Wild Things
+
|rating=4
+
|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 facts.  He is a bit of a rascal to say the least.  But all that might change when he finds himself travelling to a strange land of roisterous animals, and ends up installed as their king.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0241144221</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1447281357
|author=Jeremy Strong
+
|title=Salvation Lost
|title=Christmas Chaos for the Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog
+
|author=Peter F Hamilton
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Confident Readers
+
|genre=Science Fiction
|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!
+
|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>0141327243</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1471186393
|author=Sarah Beth Durst
+
|title=Photographer of the Lost
|title=Ice
+
|author=Caroline Scott
|rating=3.5
+
|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.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847386571</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=Iain Smyth and Michael Terry
+
|title=The Wide-Mouthed Frog
+
 
|rating=4.5
 
|rating=4.5
|genre=For Sharing
+
|genre=Historical Fiction
|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.
+
|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>1408804964</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1783784350
|author=Dr Aaron Carroll and Dr Rachel Vreeman
+
|title=This Golden Fleece: A Journey Through Britain's Knitted History
|title=Don't Swallow Your Gum
+
|author=Esther Rutter
 
|rating=5
 
|rating=5
|genre=Lifestyle
+
|genre=History
|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 downAll noises come due to this brilliant book.
+
|summary=It was December and Esther Rutter was stuck in her office job, writing to people she'd never met and preparing spreadsheetsThe job frustrated her and even her knitting did not soothe her mindJanuary 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 landscapeShe'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 friendThis was in her blood.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>0141043369</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1401286208
|author=Annie Taylor
+
|title=Black Canary: Ignite
|title=Violet
+
|author=Meg Cabot and Cara McGee
|rating=4.5
+
|rating=3.5
 
|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.
+
|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>1906847371</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1789017977
|author=Hilary Dixon
+
|title=Ronnie and Hilda's Romance: Towards a New Life after World War II
|title=When Rooks Speak of Love
+
|author=Wendy Williams
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Literary Fiction
+
|genre=History
|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!
+
|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 lifeHe joined the army at eighteen in 1942.
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1904529429</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|isbn=1542015421
|author=A J Healy
+
|title=The Royal Baths Murder
|title=Tommy Storm and the Galactic Knights
+
|author=J R Ellis
|rating=3.5
+
|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.
+
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>1847247555</amazonuk>
+
}}
+
 
+
{{newreview
+
|author=Graham McCann
+
|title=Bounder!: The Biography of Terry-Thomas
+
|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
 
|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 themFortunately, 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?
+
|summary=When Damian Penrose was murdered there was no shortage of suspects: he was a deeply unpleasant manIn 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>0749007079</amazonuk>
+
 
}}
 
}}
 
+
{{Frontpage
{{newreview
+
|author=Daniel Kraus
|author=Jeanette Winterson
+
|title=Blood Sugar
|title=The Battle of the Sun
+
|rating=4
|rating=5
+
|genre=General Fiction
|genre=Confident Readers
+
|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.
|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''.  
+
|isbn=1789091934
|amazonuk=<amazonuk>140880042X</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 15,315 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

0008324859.jpg

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

1472255798.jpg

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

B07X6GLQ3Q.jpg

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

1783784350.jpg

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

1401286208.jpg

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