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<h1 id="mf-title">The Bookbag</h1>
 
<h1 id="mf-title">The Bookbag</h1>
 
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.
 
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.
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[[image:League games.jpg|center|link=http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/video/primesignup/ref=acph_piv?tag=AssociateTrackingID=thebookbag-21]] <br>
  
 
There are currently '''{{PAGESINCATEGORY:Reviews}}''' reviews at TheBookbag.
 
There are currently '''{{PAGESINCATEGORY:Reviews}}''' reviews at TheBookbag.
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'''Read [[:Category:New Reviews|new reviews by category]]. '''<br>
 
'''Read [[:Category:New Reviews|new reviews by category]]. '''<br>
  
'''Read [[:Category:Features|the latest features]].'''
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'''Read [[:Category:Features|the latest features]].''' <!-- INSERT NEW REVIEWS BELOW HERE-->
 
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{{Frontpage
<!-- INSERT NEW REVIEWS BELOW HERE-->
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|author=Mark Lingane
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|title=Degrade (Tesla Expansion)
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|rating=4
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|genre=Teens
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|summary= ''Degrade'' opens as it means to go on - with inyerface, banging action. Poor Arid, alone in the desert since his parents were killed, has a narrow escape as two mega-rigs fight it out and his is pretty much destroyed. He finds himself rescued by the mysterious-but-fascinating Ella and onboard the ''Moonlight'' under the suspicious eyes of its leader, Queen Bea. Bea's eyes flash with recognition when he tells her his name - Arid Geiger - but before he can find out why that is, there's an assassination attempt and Arid is under suspicion and imprisoned. An escape facilitated by Ella - Queen Bea's daughter - sees Arid and her other daughter, Frey, stranded in the desert...
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|isbn= 099461649X
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=B07XLM3SM6
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|title=Murder at the Dolphin Hotel
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|author=Helena Dixon
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|rating=4
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|genre=Crime (Historical)
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|summary=Elowed Underhay was just twenty-seven when she disappeared from Dartmouth in June 1916, leaving her daughter, Kitty, in the care of her grandmother.  A great deal of money had been spent to find out what happened to her and the conclusion was that she was dead, mainly because there was no evidence to suggest otherwise.  Kitty has come to terms with this and in 1933 she was running the Dolphin Hotel in Dartmouth with her grandmother when her grandmother had to leave to look after her sister who was ill.  She was reluctant to leave Kitty in charge - and Kitty could not understand why.  She's always coped with the mix of holidaymakers, boating people and the naval college on the edge of town before - and she's done every job in the hotel.  And she particularly cannot understand why her grandmother's friends have been roped in to keep an eye on things ''and'' why Captain Matthew Bryant has been hired to take charge of security at the hotel.
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|author=Seishi Yokomizo and Louise Heal Kawai (translator)
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|title=The Honjin Murders
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|rating=4
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|genre=Crime
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|summary=To many readers, the phrase 'locked room murder mystery' is enough to make the book one to read; preferably quantified by the words 'clever' or 'good'.  For those who need more, here is the extra background – we're in rural Japan in the 1930s.  The oldest son of an esteemed family is belatedly getting married, although the whole affair is really not as ostentatious as it might be – hardly anybody has turned up, what with it being arranged at great haste.  She only has an uncle representing her family, for one thing.  Either way, the celebrations have gone ahead as planned, only for the wedded couple to be slashed to death in their private annex before the sun rises on their marriage.  What with a man missing parts of his fingers being in the neighbourhood, and some mysterious use of a traditional musical instrument at the time of the crime, this case has a lot of the peculiar about it.
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|isbn=1782275002
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|author=Cixin Liu
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|title=Death's End
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|rating=5
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|genre=Science Fiction
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|summary= If I'd been paying more attention when I picked this book up, I would have put it back on the shelf.  Not because I didn't want to read it, but because I'd have figured out that it was the final part of a trilogy. Coming in partway through a saga is never the easiest thing to do and it's particularly true in science fiction because without knowing the back-story there are not just people whose names mean nothing to you (when it's assumed they will) but there are whole concepts that you won't understand.  This latter is particularly true of Cixin Liu's work – his range is phenomenal.  George R R Martin, who knows a thing or two about world-creation, described it as ''a unique blend of scientific and philosophical speculation, conspiracy theory and cosmology''.  All of that and more.
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|isbn=1784971650
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=1780894511
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|title=Die Alone
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|author=Simon Kernick
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|rating=4
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|genre=Thrillers
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|summary=Ray Mason is in prison awaiting trial for murder and he's in the vulnerable prisoner unit: as a cop, he's something of a target, but the unit is not as secure as the inmates would have hoped and Mason is injured in a riot.  On his way to hospital he's broken free by armed men and an offer is made to him.  He's to assassinate the man who is likely to become the country's next prime minister and he'll then be given a new identity so that he can start afresh abroad.  His captors say that they're MI6, but Mason has his doubts.  His choices are limited though and he has personal reasons to believe that it would be better if Alastair Sheridan was dead.
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|author=Akwaeke Emezi
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|title=Pet
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|rating=4.5
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|genre=Teens
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|summary=The people of the town Lucille believe that all the monsters are gone.  Their children are raised to understand that they were saved by the angels, those who rid the town of evil, and there are no monsters anymore.  But one day, Jam accidentally cuts herself and bleeds a little onto one of her mother's paintings.  The blood awakens a bizarre, terrifying-looking creature named Pet, who somehow comes to life and declares that it is here to hunt the monster.  Though Jam tries to convince it that all the monsters are gone, Pet is certain that there is one, still, and that the monster is hiding in the home of her best friend, Redemption.
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|isbn=0571355110
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=1686751680
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|title=My Mummy does weird things / Maman fait des choses bizarres
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|author=Amelie Julien and Gustyawan
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|rating=4
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|genre=For Sharing
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|summary=Which child doesn't think that their mother is, well, ''weird''?  It might be that in the morning their mother doesn't like speaking much when every self-respecting child knows that that is when you're at your brightest with lots to say?  ''Why'' then does Mummy stick her fingers in her ears?  Then there's doing yoga in front of the television, which could be worrying if it wasn't so funny. We won't go into too much detail about what goes on in the bathroom and the colour changes which have occurred when Mummy emerges and frankly, the less said the better about her reactions to your artistic efforts on the wall.  I mean, what else would you use paint for?
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|author=Justine Avery and Liuba Syrotiuk
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|title=What Wonders Do You See... When You Dream?
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|rating=4
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|genre=For Sharing
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|summary=''The day has ended''<br>
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''Hasn't it been splendid?'' <br>
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''But now, it's time, to be sure'' <br>
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''For an entirely different adventure'' <br>
  
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I hope you haven't forgotten how it feels to be much too excited for bed. If you're a parent at least, you'll know how it is to persuade an excited small person that yes, it is in fact time for bed. ''What Wonders DoYou See...'' sets out to cater to these children. Instead of trying to persuade them that night time is a calm time, it takes a slightly different tack. It tells them that sleep is actually an exciting time: a time of dreams in which imagination takes over and has no limit. But the trick in accessing this wonderful and exciting world is to get calm and relaxed first so that you can easily fall asleep and open the door to it. 
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|isbn=194812422X   
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}}
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|isbn=1908745819
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|author=Michael Harris
|title=Surfacing
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|title=Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World
|author=Kathleen Jamie
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|rating=5
 
|rating=5
|genre=History
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|genre=Lifestyle
|summary=Sometimes when people suggest that you read a certain book, they tell you ''this one has your name on it''. Mostly we take them at their word, or not, but rarely do we ask them why they thought so, unless it turns out that we didn't like the book. That's a rare experience. People who are sensitive to hearing a book calling your name, rarely get it wrong. In this case I was told whyThe blurb speaks of the author considering ''an older, less tethered sense of herself.''  Older. Less tethered. That's not a bad description of where I amAdd to that my love of the natural world, of those aspects of the poetic and lyrical that are about style not form, and substance most of all, about connection. Of course this book had my name on it.  It was written for me. It would have found its way to me eventuallyI am pleased to have it fall onto my path so quickly.
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|summary= This is not the book I was expecting it to be. For some reason I expected it to be another self-help manual on how to find calm, how to step outside the mainstream, but it is not that at all.  Instead of telling us how it is more about the ''why''. Harries examines how we're eroding solitude, which used to be a natural part of our human life, and why that matters.  Of course, he talks about how some people have found solitude and what has come of that, and eventually in the final chapter he talks about his own experience of having deliberately sought it out, but mostly he wanders down the alleys and by-ways that his thinking about this lost art led him.
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|isbn=1847947662
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|author=Andy Briggs
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|title=Ctrl+S
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|rating=5
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|genre=Science Fiction
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|summary= Life in the near future's not all bad. We've reversed global warming and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire. But almost anything isn't enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested - and lives traded - to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted. Now Theo’s mother has disappeared. And as he follows her breadcrumb trail of clues, he'll come up against the most dangerous SPACE has to offer: police, AI Bots and anarchists - as well as a criminal empire that will kill to stop him finding her . . .
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|isbn=1409184641
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=1609809378
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|title=The Rabbits' Rebellion
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|author=Ariel Dorfman and Chris Riddell
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|rating=4.5
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|genre=Confident Readers
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|summary=We're in the realm of the rabbits, only the foxes and wolves have taken over.  King Wolf, His Wolfiness, has declared the rabbits don't exist, but the pesky birds have spread rumours from awing that the bunnies are in fact still around.  Demanding a propaganda spree, King Wolf orders a humble monkey to be his official portrait photographer, but whatever the poor innocent monkey prints out in his darkroom there is a distinct leporine hint.  Can King Wolf succeed in proving himself victorious, can the rabbits show their continued existence to all who need to know of it – and what can the poor monkey caught in between do?
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|author=Innosanto Nagara
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|title=M is for Movement
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|rating=4
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|genre=Emerging Readers
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|summary=Set in Indonesia, in the not too distant past, this is a story about social change.  Dealing with some difficult issues, such as political corruption and nepotism, the book is neither boring nor preachy.  It educates gently, with vibrant, challenging illustrations, and it portrays how social movements need people who will try, even when it seems that they will fail. The message is a positive one; that in an increasingly uncertain world, we do still have the power to instigate change.
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|isbn=1609809351
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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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 tomeBut ''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 Cardellini)
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|author=Robert Jeffreys
 +
|rating=4.5
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|genre=Crime
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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 that had killed the Captain.
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=1786695227
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|title=Invisible in a Bright Light
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|author=Sally Gardner
 +
|rating=4.5
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|genre=Confident Readers
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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.
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=1912374854
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|title=Violet
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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
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|isbn=1912374838
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|title=Nothing Important Happened Today
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|author=Will Carver
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|rating=4
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|genre=General Fiction
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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.
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn= williamabbey
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|title=The Pursuit of William Abbey
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|author=Claire North
 +
|rating=3.5
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|genre=Paranormal
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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…
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=1643785036
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|title=The Wondrous Apothecary
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|author=Mary E Martin
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|rating=4
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|genre=General Fiction
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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, the 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''.
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|author=Mary H.K. Choi
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|title=Permanent Record
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|rating=4
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|genre=Teens
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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 relationshipWith 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
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=1609809319
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|title=Long-Haired Cat-Boy Cub
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|author=Etgar Keret, Aviel Basil and Sondra Silverston (translator)
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|rating=5
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|genre=Confident Readers
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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…
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}}
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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=1785785516
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|title=Fucking Good Manners
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|author=Simon Griffin
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|rating=4
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|genre=Lifestyle
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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 others 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 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.
 
}}
 
}}
 
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===[[Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks]]===
 
 
[[image:4.5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Thrillers|Thrillers]]
 
 
Simon Barnes had his first taste of beer in 1976 when he was just six years old.  Over the years it would become a habit and then a need.  By 2016 and with a wife and child of his own he was a functioning alcoholic - a fact known by everybody except Simon.  He's concentrating on wanting another child to complete his family.  His wife, Daisy, isn't worried.  They took a long time to conceive Millie, who's perfect in every way, so why tempt fate?  Simon's not inclined to let matters rest though and it's at a fertility clinic that he receives the news that will change all their lives: he's sterile. [[Lies Lies Lies by Adele Parks|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Can You Draw the Dragosaur? by Peter Lynas and Charlie Roberts]]===
 
 
[[image:4.5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Crafts|Crafts]], [[:Category:Emerging Readers|Emerging Readers]]
 
 
You're going to get a hint of what this book's about very quickly.  When you see the title page, you'll find out what the book's called and that it's been written by Peter Lynas.  Then we move on to who has done the illustration - and there's a gap.  ''You'' are going to put your name there.  It's ''your'' responsibility to provide the pictures for this book about one of the largest creatures ever to roam the earth.  There's some help available, but your name is on the title page - and you have work to do! [[Can You Draw the Dragosaur? by Peter Lynas and Charlie Roberts|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie]]===
 
 
[[image:5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Fantasy|Fantasy]]
 
 
The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep as ever. On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield, and defeat the marauding armies of Stour Nightfall. He hopes for help from the crown. But King Jezal's son, the feckless Prince Orso, is a man who specialises in disappointments. Savine dan Glokta - socialite, investor, and daughter of the most feared man in the Union - plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary. But the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control. The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the mad hillwoman Isern-i-Phail, Rikke struggles to control the blessing, or the curse, of the Long Eye. Glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another . . .[[A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Bunny by Peter Lynas and Clare Lindley]]===
 
 
[[image:4star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:For Sharing|For Sharing]]
 
 
You might have seen Bunny on the beach where he lived.  Like many beaches it was full of sand and Bunny didn't like sand, not least because it got between his toes and ''scratched''.  What he really liked was juicy green grass.  All the other rabbits lived on the top of the cliff, where Bunny could see a lot of tasty-looking grass.  But the cliff was very high. [[Bunny by Peter Lynas and Clare Lindley|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Why We Quilt by Thomas Knauer]]===
 
 
[[image:4star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Crafts|Crafts]]
 
 
I've often wondered about the story that patchwork quilting began as a way for women (and myth would have it that it was always women) to make an extra blanket out of material which would otherwise go to waste.  This undoubtedly ''did'' happen but when you think about it, you need an awful lot of material to make a quilt and the time could have been better spent if all that was required was bedding.  Like Thomas Knauer I've come to the conclusion that it began as an art and has largely continued down that same road with fluctuations in popularity over the years. [[Why We Quilt by Thomas Knauer|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[The Lying Room by Nicci French]]===
 
 
[[image:5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Crime|Crime]], [[:Category:Thrillers|Thrillers]]
 
 
When we meet Neve Connolly it's pretty obvious that she has something to hide.  She crept into the house after midnight, carefully putting her clothes into the washing machine and she can't wait to get husband Fletcher and children Mabel, Connor and Rory off on their various ways the next morning when she gets a text telling her to come to the flat.  He has a few hours to spare and can't wait to see her.  Only, when she gets to the flat she finds Saul Stevenson, her boss and lover, dead on the floor.  The hammer that's been used on his brain is at his side. [[The Lying Room by Nicci French|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Madeleine Goes to the Moon by Peter Lynas and Charlie Roberts]]===
 
 
[[image:4star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:For Sharing|For Sharing]]
 
 
Madeleine is a very lucky girl: in her room she has all a girl could ask for in the way of toys, books, games and dollies. She's a very lucky girl in another way too: she has imagination and everything in her room can be used to take her on adventures. She spends all day there: Dad thinks that she likes to be alone, but Madeleine's not alone on all the trips she takes. We'll find out that yesterday she was told to tidy her room, but instead of doing that she went to the moon. [[Madeleine Goes to the Moon by Peter Lynas and Charlie Roberts|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[The Dutch House by Ann Patchett]]===
 
 
[[image:5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Literary Fiction|Literary Fiction]]
 
 
When we first meet Danny and his elder sister, Maeve Conroy, they're both living at The Dutch House with their parents and under the gaze of the portraits of the former owners whose oil paintings still hang on the walls.  It's a strange family dynamic: Cyril Conroy is distant and the closest Danny seems to come to him is when he goes out with him on a Saturday collecting rents from properties the family owns.  Elna Conroy is loving, but absent increasingly often until the point comes when the children are told that she will not be returning.  In other circumstances this might have affected Maeve and Danny deeply, but their primary relationship is with each other.  It's a bond which only death will break. [[The Dutch House by Ann Patchett|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[The Very Rude Toytoise by Peter Lynas and Andy S Gray]]===
 
 
[[image:5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:For Sharing|For Sharing]]
 
 
It was one of those blissful days in the forest.  Mrs Rabbit was collecting carrots because she wanted to make a cake.  Mrs Blue Bird was gathering twigs to build a nest.  Mrs Spider was busily spinning a web to catch juicy flies.  Mrs Squirrel was piling up acorns.  And Mr Bear sat comfortably in a chair, fishing for lunch.  What could be better?  And then... [[The Very Rude Toytoise by Peter Lynas and Andy S Gray|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Recipe for Making a Snowman by Peter Lynas and Rosie Alabaster]]===
 
 
[[image:4star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:For Sharing|For Sharing]]
 
 
Who knew it?  You can even get a recipe book which tells you how to make a snowman - and there's no cooking involved!  Mum, Dad and the two children are absolutely meticulous though: they're going to get everything right, even down to doing some mining to get the coal for the eyes, searching through the bits 'n bobs jar for buttons for the snowman's coat and picking out the perfect piece of headgear.  There's quite a choice available, but the family decide on the bobble hat, presumably to keep the snowman warm.  The moth-eaten pair of mittens simply won't do and a pair with purple and pink stripes are chosen. [[Recipe for Making a Snowman by Peter Lynas and Rosie Alabaster|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[War and Love: A family's testament of anguish, endurance and devotion in occupied Amsterdam by Melanie Martin]]===
 
 
[[image:5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:History|History]], [[:Category:Biography|Biography]]
 
 
Melanie Martin read about what happened to Dutch Jews in occupied Amsterdam during World War II and was entranced by what she discovered, particularly in ''The Diary of Ann Frank'' but then realised that her own family's stories were equally fascinating. A hundred and seven thousand Jews were deported from the city during the war years, but only five thousand survived and Martin could not understand how this could be allowed to happen in a country with liberal values who were resistant to German occupation.  Most people believed that the occupation could never happen: even those who thought that the Germans might reach the city were convinced that they would soon be pushed back, that the Amsterdammers would never allow what happened to escalate in the way that it did, but initial protests melted away as the organisers became more circumspect.  It's an atrocity on a vast scale, but made up of tens of thousands of individual tragedies. [[War and Love: A family's testament of anguish, endurance and devotion in occupied Amsterdam by Melanie Martin|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Snowflake, AZ by Marcus Sedgwick]]===
 
 
[[image:3.5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Literary Fiction|Literary Fiction]]
 
 
This is a deep, interesting read unlike any book I've read in quite some time. The novel's story follows a young man named Ash in the process of joining a community of sick people in the curiously named town of Snowflake, Arizona. These people are sick, but it's not a sickness you've heard of. Instead, they're environmentally ill – affected by household chemicals and fabrics, pesticides, static electricity, and radiation – and their only ''cure'' is to stay in the town away from the real world. Though it's about a real place, the people in it are fictional. It really is a place apart, quite literally cut off from the outside world – people are even required to decontaminate themselves thoroughly before becoming fully integrated. [[Snowflake, AZ by Marcus Sedgwick|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer]]===
 
 
[[image:4.5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Fantasy|Fantasy]], [[:Category:Historical Fiction|Historical Fiction]]
 
 
Robin Hood is gone – denouncing both his former life and his love Marian, and retreating to a monastery – although no-one knows quite what led him to abandon all that he had built. Marion's life since has been relatively quiet - but when her friends start dying, Marion is tasked by Father Tuck to break the curse surrounding them and to save their lives. Setting off with a soldier, a Fey Lord and a sullen Robin Hood, she becomes tangled in a maze of betrayals, complicated relationships, and a vicious struggle for the throne…[[Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt]]===
 
 
[[image:4.5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Fantasy|Fantasy]], [[:Category:Literary Fiction|Literary Fiction]]
 
 
''The Nightjar'' is an unusual and exciting story. Alice Wyndham lives a normal life in London until she finds a box on her doorstep one morning and her life begins to unravel, fast. From that very moment, her life is flooded with magic, loss, expectation and particularly, betrayal. As everything around her shifts, all that she knows, all that she thinks she knows, must change. Who can she trust? Who must she trust? Who will she trust? More importantly, can she even trust herself? [[The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[American Royals by Katharine McGee]]===
 
 
[[image:4star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:General Fiction|General Fiction]]
 
 
Two and a half centuries ago, America won the Revolutionary War and General George Washington was offered the crown. Today, the House of Washington still sit on the thrown with Princess Beatrice next in line. Beatrice's whole life has been building up to her ruling the United States and the time for her reign is imminent. [[American Royals by Katharine McGee|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Dead Flowers (Dr Sian Love) by Nicola Monaghan]]===
 
 
[[image:4star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Crime|Crime]]
 
 
It was more than a little bit of a surprise to Dr Sian Love (and the rest of the relatives) when her uncle Bobby left her his home - a former pub called The Loggerheads in the Narrow Marsh area of Nottingham.  Then it was a shock when she found two bodies in the cellar before she'd even got settled in - and managed to break a bone in her foot in the course of making the discovery.  They'd been there for some time, but who - exactly - were the man and the woman, wrapped in each other's arms?  Having spent ten years on the Murder Squad, ending up as a DCI she knows what's going to happen next, but she's not prepared for quite how personal it's all going to get. [[Dead Flowers (Dr Sian Love) by Nicola Monaghan|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson]]===
 
 
[[image:4star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Teens|Teens]]
 
 
 
Amara's twelfth birthday is coming up and she wants nothing more for it than a trip to New York to meet her father's side of the family. But her father hasn't spoken to Amara's grandfather for many years - Amara doesn't know why - and both her parents are resistant to the idea. But Amara is nothing if not persistent and a school family history project provides her with the perfect wedge. Eventually, her parents give in and off she goes... with a secret mission from her mother: to bring her father and Grandpa Earl back together again.  [[Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves]]===
 
 
[[image:4.5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Science Fiction|Science Fiction]]
 
 
Aaron Sheridan doesn't want to live anymore. His entire family is dead by his own hand, killed in a shuttle crash. Unable to deal with the guilt, he signs up for the Fleet expecting a fatal deployment to the Rim War, but instead ends up at their most prestigious command school, Corinth Station... [[Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Coming of Age by Danny Ryan]]===
 
 
[[image:4star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Autobiography|Autobiography]]
 
 
''He began writing novels and poetry at the age of twelve, but it was to take him a further forty-eight years to realise that he wasn’t very good at either. Consistently unpublished for all that time, he remains a shining example of hope over experience...''
 
 
 
''This a memoir from someone you have never heard of - but will feel like you have.'' [[Coming of Age by Danny Ryan|Full Review]]
 
 
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===[[Lighthouse of the Netherworlds by Maxwell N Andrews]]===
 
 
[[image:3.5star.jpg|link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews]] [[:Category:Teens|Teens]], [[:Category:Fantasy|Fantasy]], [[:Category:Confident Readers|Confident Readers]]
 
 
The phrase about never trusting a book by its cover is something I put on a par with comments about Marmite.  You're supposed to love it or hate it and I'm halfway between, and likewise the old adage is halfway true.  From the cover of this I had a child-friendly fantasy, what with that name and that attractive artwork of an attractive girl reaching for an attractive water plant.  That was only built on by the initial fictionalised quotes, with their non-standard spelling, as if texts of scripture in this book's world predated our standardised literacy.  But why was I two chapters in and just finding more and more characters, both human and animal, and more and more flashbacks, and no proof that this was what I'd bought in for? [[Lighthouse of the Netherworlds by Maxwell N Andrews|Full Review]]
 
 
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Latest revision as of 11:53, 13 December 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.

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There are currently 15,321 reviews at TheBookbag.

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Degrade (Tesla Expansion) by Mark Lingane

4star.jpg Teens

Degrade opens as it means to go on - with inyerface, banging action. Poor Arid, alone in the desert since his parents were killed, has a narrow escape as two mega-rigs fight it out and his is pretty much destroyed. He finds himself rescued by the mysterious-but-fascinating Ella and onboard the Moonlight under the suspicious eyes of its leader, Queen Bea. Bea's eyes flash with recognition when he tells her his name - Arid Geiger - but before he can find out why that is, there's an assassination attempt and Arid is under suspicion and imprisoned. An escape facilitated by Ella - Queen Bea's daughter - sees Arid and her other daughter, Frey, stranded in the desert... Full Review

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Murder at the Dolphin Hotel by Helena Dixon

4star.jpg Crime (Historical)

Elowed Underhay was just twenty-seven when she disappeared from Dartmouth in June 1916, leaving her daughter, Kitty, in the care of her grandmother. A great deal of money had been spent to find out what happened to her and the conclusion was that she was dead, mainly because there was no evidence to suggest otherwise. Kitty has come to terms with this and in 1933 she was running the Dolphin Hotel in Dartmouth with her grandmother when her grandmother had to leave to look after her sister who was ill. She was reluctant to leave Kitty in charge - and Kitty could not understand why. She's always coped with the mix of holidaymakers, boating people and the naval college on the edge of town before - and she's done every job in the hotel. And she particularly cannot understand why her grandmother's friends have been roped in to keep an eye on things and why Captain Matthew Bryant has been hired to take charge of security at the hotel. Full Review

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The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo and Louise Heal Kawai (translator)

4star.jpg Crime

To many readers, the phrase 'locked room murder mystery' is enough to make the book one to read; preferably quantified by the words 'clever' or 'good'. For those who need more, here is the extra background – we're in rural Japan in the 1930s. The oldest son of an esteemed family is belatedly getting married, although the whole affair is really not as ostentatious as it might be – hardly anybody has turned up, what with it being arranged at great haste. She only has an uncle representing her family, for one thing. Either way, the celebrations have gone ahead as planned, only for the wedded couple to be slashed to death in their private annex before the sun rises on their marriage. What with a man missing parts of his fingers being in the neighbourhood, and some mysterious use of a traditional musical instrument at the time of the crime, this case has a lot of the peculiar about it. Full Review

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Death's End by Cixin Liu

5star.jpg Science Fiction

If I'd been paying more attention when I picked this book up, I would have put it back on the shelf. Not because I didn't want to read it, but because I'd have figured out that it was the final part of a trilogy. Coming in partway through a saga is never the easiest thing to do and it's particularly true in science fiction because without knowing the back-story there are not just people whose names mean nothing to you (when it's assumed they will) but there are whole concepts that you won't understand. This latter is particularly true of Cixin Liu's work – his range is phenomenal. George R R Martin, who knows a thing or two about world-creation, described it as a unique blend of scientific and philosophical speculation, conspiracy theory and cosmology. All of that and more. Full Review

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Die Alone by Simon Kernick

4star.jpg Thrillers

Ray Mason is in prison awaiting trial for murder and he's in the vulnerable prisoner unit: as a cop, he's something of a target, but the unit is not as secure as the inmates would have hoped and Mason is injured in a riot. On his way to hospital he's broken free by armed men and an offer is made to him. He's to assassinate the man who is likely to become the country's next prime minister and he'll then be given a new identity so that he can start afresh abroad. His captors say that they're MI6, but Mason has his doubts. His choices are limited though and he has personal reasons to believe that it would be better if Alastair Sheridan was dead. Full Review

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Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

4.5star.jpg Teens

The people of the town Lucille believe that all the monsters are gone. Their children are raised to understand that they were saved by the angels, those who rid the town of evil, and there are no monsters anymore. But one day, Jam accidentally cuts herself and bleeds a little onto one of her mother's paintings. The blood awakens a bizarre, terrifying-looking creature named Pet, who somehow comes to life and declares that it is here to hunt the monster. Though Jam tries to convince it that all the monsters are gone, Pet is certain that there is one, still, and that the monster is hiding in the home of her best friend, Redemption. Full Review

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My Mummy does weird things / Maman fait des choses bizarres by Amelie Julien and Gustyawan

4star.jpg For Sharing

Which child doesn't think that their mother is, well, weird? It might be that in the morning their mother doesn't like speaking much when every self-respecting child knows that that is when you're at your brightest with lots to say? Why then does Mummy stick her fingers in her ears? Then there's doing yoga in front of the television, which could be worrying if it wasn't so funny. We won't go into too much detail about what goes on in the bathroom and the colour changes which have occurred when Mummy emerges and frankly, the less said the better about her reactions to your artistic efforts on the wall. I mean, what else would you use paint for? Full Review

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What Wonders Do You See... When You Dream? by Justine Avery and Liuba Syrotiuk

4star.jpg For Sharing

The day has ended
Hasn't it been splendid?
But now, it's time, to be sure
For an entirely different adventure

I hope you haven't forgotten how it feels to be much too excited for bed. If you're a parent at least, you'll know how it is to persuade an excited small person that yes, it is in fact time for bed. What Wonders DoYou See... sets out to cater to these children. Instead of trying to persuade them that night time is a calm time, it takes a slightly different tack. It tells them that sleep is actually an exciting time: a time of dreams in which imagination takes over and has no limit. But the trick in accessing this wonderful and exciting world is to get calm and relaxed first so that you can easily fall asleep and open the door to it. Full Review

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Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World by Michael Harris

5star.jpg Lifestyle

This is not the book I was expecting it to be. For some reason I expected it to be another self-help manual on how to find calm, how to step outside the mainstream, but it is not that at all. Instead of telling us how it is more about the why. Harries examines how we're eroding solitude, which used to be a natural part of our human life, and why that matters. Of course, he talks about how some people have found solitude and what has come of that, and eventually in the final chapter he talks about his own experience of having deliberately sought it out, but mostly he wanders down the alleys and by-ways that his thinking about this lost art led him. Full Review

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Ctrl+S by Andy Briggs

5star.jpg Science Fiction

Life in the near future's not all bad. We've reversed global warming and fixed the collapsing bee population. We even created SPACE, a virtual-sensory universe where average guys like Theo Wilson can do almost anything they desire. But almost anything isn't enough for some. Every day, normal people are being taken, their emotions harvested - and lives traded - to create death-defying thrills for the rich and twisted. Now Theo’s mother has disappeared. And as he follows her breadcrumb trail of clues, he'll come up against the most dangerous SPACE has to offer: police, AI Bots and anarchists - as well as a criminal empire that will kill to stop him finding her . . . Full Review

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The Rabbits' Rebellion by Ariel Dorfman and Chris Riddell

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

We're in the realm of the rabbits, only the foxes and wolves have taken over. King Wolf, His Wolfiness, has declared the rabbits don't exist, but the pesky birds have spread rumours from awing that the bunnies are in fact still around. Demanding a propaganda spree, King Wolf orders a humble monkey to be his official portrait photographer, but whatever the poor innocent monkey prints out in his darkroom there is a distinct leporine hint. Can King Wolf succeed in proving himself victorious, can the rabbits show their continued existence to all who need to know of it – and what can the poor monkey caught in between do? Full Review

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M is for Movement by Innosanto Nagara

4star.jpg Emerging Readers

Set in Indonesia, in the not too distant past, this is a story about social change. Dealing with some difficult issues, such as political corruption and nepotism, the book is neither boring nor preachy. It educates gently, with vibrant, challenging illustrations, and it portrays how social movements need people who will try, even when it seems that they will fail. The message is a positive one; that in an increasingly uncertain world, we do still have the power to instigate change. Full Review

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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

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Man at the Window (Detective Cardellini) 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 that had killed the Captain. Full Review

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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, the 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 others 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