The Bookbag

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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 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. Ewritingservice.com is the custom writing service thousands of students trust all over the world. My Homework Done is your best choice among those websites that do homework for you.

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I Contain Multitudes: the microbes within us and a grander view of life by Ed Yong

5star.jpg Popular Science

The world you know is a lie. There is no such thing as good or bad microbes. Sickness and health are all far more complex than we thought. Things designed to save us may kill us and things we think would kill us may save us. Welcome to the modern study of Microbes. Full review...

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

5star.jpg Teens

The Beast is an Animal, but what does that make Alys? Alys was only seven when her village was set upon by the Soul Eaters, she was the only one to see them. Alys and the other orphans are sent to the neighbouring village but this place is not like home. In the strange village of Defaid people are pious, they say that Alys's village must have been in league with the Beast, that they drew the Soul Eaters in. People in Defaid are suspicious, and they are particularly suspicious of Alys, though she never tells a soul what she has seen. Despite it's piety and it devotion to the ways of the Shepherd, Defaid feels the Soul Eaters creeping ever closer, luring them with their singing. Alys does not like Defaid or its residents and she does not belong there, Alys knows the danger of the Soul Eaters but she is drawn to them. As she grows older and the danger grows greater, the dark question grows larger in Alys's mind, is she bad like them? Full review...

Revelation Ch:25 - A Letter To The Churches From The 24th Elder by Edward K Micheal

1.5star.jpg Autobiography

Edward K Michael has taken the brave step of laying out his spiritual journey for all to see. It is a deeply personal book and he's honest enough - genuine enough - to wonder if he would have taken a different path if he had known then what he knows now, but he's generous enough too to hope that people will find comfort in the supernatural manifestations he has seen. Before you begin reading you will need to accept that the book seems to have been written without editorial intervention: you are hearing the real man speak and what you will read is very close to stream of consciousness. Full review...

Exodus by Julie Bertagna

4star.jpg Teens

Exodus is a book which, though fifteen years old, strikes some horrifying truths about the world we live in right at this moment. Set in a world ravaged by global warming and melting ice-caps, this is the story of the last inhabitants of an island called Wing, who set sail in search of a new life once Wing is sunk under the rising tide. It turns out to be a much wilder story than you'd thing, and one which dredges up so many interesting questions. Full review...

The World of Lore, Volume 1: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke

4.5star.jpg Reference

Every country, every town, every village has a folktale – a story passed down through generations that often focuses on the dark and unexplained. No matter how the modern world moves on, there's a still a part of everyone that is vulnerable to a good tale. From ghosts to werewolves, by way of wendigos and elves, author Aaron Mahnke delivers the reader legends from all over the world, whilst examining how they've become part of our collective imaginations, still striking fear into the hearts of many of us today. Full review...

Marty's Master by Suzanne Elizabeth Reed

3.5star.jpg Crime

Margaret was nervous about going for the walk around the lake on her own, convinced until the very last moment that her husband would relent and go with her. She made it to the Blue Forge Club House where her friend Laura worked behind the bar, relieved that she'd managed to leave the drunken man who was Marty's master and some other suspicious-looking men behind her. Laura looked uneasy: her dead sister's widower, Avel, had remarried and his new wife, Elena, was in the clubhouse with Avel's children - three teenage girls and a boy who was little more than a toddler. Elena didn't look in the least pleased to be there and despite Avel's promises to pick them up, he was nowhere to be seen. Full review...

The Ugly Five by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

4star.jpg For Sharing

Creating a popular character is a double edged sword; one side is buckets of cold hard cash, the other is people demanding that you trot out the same old stuff. Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler created the behemoth that is The Gruffalo and you could forgive them for producing countless books in this series, but they do not. Anyone who is a fan of the pairing will already know that their other work is also excellent; just ask Superworm or Room on the Broom. This is an established author/illustrator partnership and any new outing from them is exciting. Even if that is an outing about really ugly animals. Full review...

Stupendous Science by Rob Beattie and Sam Peet

5star.jpg Popular Science

Education should be fun. We learn best when we are engaged with practical, enjoyable tasks. That's the secret behind the experiments in Stupendous Science. They have the fun element, the 'wow factor,' and most importantly, can be easily replicated with items that are readily available in the home. Each experiment teaches an important scientific concept; essentially teaching through play. Full review...

The Snow Angel by Lauren St John

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Makena was born and raised in the city of Nairobi but she dreams of mountains, in particular Mount Kenya. When her father takes her on her first real exploration of the mountain, and she gets a brief glimpse of a strange sparkling fox, Makena thinks life can't get any better. Within weeks, however, her perfect world is shattered. Makena finds herself scratching out an existence in the city slums. She contracts cholera and almost dies. Luckily a pair of young charity workers are led to her by a fleeting image of a fox and offer her a new start and a trip to the Scottish Highlands. But will Makena be able to accept their kindness? Full review...

The Taking of K-129: The Most Daring Covert Operation in History by Josh Dean

5star.jpg History

In February 1968 the Soviet nuclear missile submarine K-129 left the port of Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka peninsula with a crew of 98 submariners. The captain and executive officers were experienced: the only factor giving cause for concern was that the crew had only recently returned to base and were expecting a longer break and were only back at sea because two sister ships had experienced mechanical problems and were unfit for combat controls. The Division Commander complained that the decision was cruel and potentially reckless. He would be proved right - but not publicly - as K-129 went down with all hands in March 1968. It was a while before the sSoviet navy realised that it had lost one of its submarines and despite an extensive search they couldn't find it. Full review...

Invisible Pleasures by R Pollard

4.5star.jpg Autobiography

Roger Pollard has lived and loved to the full, and this memoir is a fine living testimony to both. Full review...

I Want to Go First by Richard Byrne

4star.jpg For Sharing

It's so not fair! Why should Elphie go last, just because he's the littlest? This is a question which will speak to the heart of many young children, especially those with siblings: the smallest bedroom, hand-me-down books that have been read and reread till their edges are frayed . . . but don't worry, Elphie has found the solution. Only thing is, he's going to need the reader's help to achieve his goal. Full review...

Paradise Girl by Phill Featherstone

3.5star.jpg Teens

Kerryl lives far away from the urban twenty-first century on a remote Yorkshire farm. The farm is high up on a hill and it's a family endeavour - grandparents, mother, Kerryl. There's a market town below but Kerryl's family is concentrated on the farm and the hard but beautiful living associated with it. Kerryl, though, is a fiercely bright girl - she's won a place at Cambridge University and is looking forward to going. She loves poetry. Full review...

Not Yet Dark by Simon P Clark

4.5star.jpg Teens

Philippa and Danny have been friends since they were tiny. But now, at fifteen and into the unforgiving world of adolescence, there are stresses and pressures. Danny has some new friends in the rugby team and they are full of the obnoxious, somewhat sexist, bravado of the jock world. They make jokes about Philippa and she doesn't like it. She gets angry when Danny doesn't shut them down. And, if she's truthful, she's a tiny bit jealous of the time Danny spends with them. For his part, Danny feels a bit suffocated by this. Full review...

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

4.5star.jpg Teens

Amy Reed’s The Nowhere Girls is another timely novel that aims to educate young women about feminism- a very hot political topic at the moment. It sees Grace, Erin and Rosina- three extremely socially awkward teenagers- unite to create a movement, known as The Nowhere Girls, which will challenge the sexist culture at their school. In the process, they hope to get justice for Lucy, a local girl who was forced to leave town as a result of the abuse she received after truthfully accusing three of her male peers of gang rape. Full review...

Ghosts of Empire by George Mann

4star.jpg Science Fiction

Taking on a band of undead Mummies will take it out of the best of us and a holiday may be needed. If you are from New York there are not many other cities worldwide that could impress you, but London is one of them. Surely, a nice visit to England, far from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, will help you to relax. It is not as if Russian Tsarists are on the loose with magical powers or the events are conspiring to raise the sleeping power of Albion from its slumber. Is it? Full review...

The Art of Failing: Notes from the Underdog by Anthony McGowan

4star.jpg Autobiography

I had not come across Anthony McGowan's work before reading this book, as he mainly writes for Young Adults. I can imagine his books to be engaging and humorous from the clever way he constructs sentences, and the ironic subtlety with which he uses descriptive details. Full review...

Optical Illusions by Gianni Sarcone and Marie Jo Waeber

5star.jpg Popular Science

I used to work as a library assistant and I remember arriving to work one morning to find all of my fellow librarians crowded around a book, chattering excitedly and...squinting rather oddly. The book was called Magic Eye and promised a magical 3D viewing experience if you looked at the psychadelic pictures in a certain way. For a brief period in the early 90s, the pictures had a sudden spike in popularity, until everyone presumably got eye strain and went back to their everyday lives. Well good news Magic Eye fans! The pictures are back (albeit only two images), in the engrossing and immersive new book Optical Illusions. Full review...

My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner

4star.jpg Teens

You have to accept that if two people jump from the dome of St Paul's they would be bound to land. They'd be dead but they would land. Except, in this most unusual book, they didn't. Two people were seen leaving the outside of the London Cathedral's dome, but were never found at the foot of it – and someone has been in prison ever since for pushing them off. It's a most peculiar scenario, and our narrator Jaz is struggling to tell her mysterious interrogator, Mr Jones, all about it – and all about her relationship with her best friend. Now Becky, the friend, was a child prodigy sci-fi author, until something happened – she realised she wanted something else from life. Rushing around to investigate the case of the fallers, she seems to have found that, in the shape of a hot-blooded romance. But what is Jaz doing starting her testimony with talk of inquests, evidence and hatred? Full review...

Undercover Princess (The Rosewood Chronicles) by Connie Glynn

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Lottie Pumpkin is an ordinary girl who is obsessed with princesses, fairy tales and Disney. Her dream is to become a princess and she had no idea that she would be sharing a room with one at Rosewood Hall...Ellie Wolf is a princess who wishes to be ordinary, so she attends Rosewood to avoid her royal duties in the kingdom of Maradova. When destiny puts these girls in the same room, the only way to survive Rosewood is to swap identities... Full review...

Blue Dog by Louis de Bernieres

4star.jpg General Fiction

Mick's mother had a mental breakdown after his father's death and Mick was sent to live in in the outback with Granpa. On the face of it you'd think that it was going to be a lonely life for an eleven-year-old city boy, with no school to attend, in fact no other children anywhere near. Granpa's busy too: life on a cattle station is brutal for anyone, with all the heat and the dust. But they've all got to make the best of the situation. Full review...

Make and Play: Nativity by Joey Chou

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I always feel a slight disappointment for children at Christmas when they're presented with a tree to decorate with a box of ornaments and a nativity scene (sometimes quite precious, so it's Not To Be Played With) which is set up Somewhere Safe. Where's the imagination, the creativity, the sense of pride in that? How much better to have a child create their own nativity scene, which they can then play with? That's exactly what they get with Joey Chou's Make and Play Nativity. Full review...

Do You Mr Jones?: Bob Dylan with the Poets and Professors by Neil Corcoran

4.5star.jpg Entertainment

Bob Dylan's receipt of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016 'for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition' proved highly controversial. It inevitably led some people in the literary world to take stock and look at his work and reputation with a fresh eye. This volume of essays was first published in 2002, and is now reissued with a new foreword by Will Self. Full review...

A Poem for Every Day of the Year by Allie Esiri

4star.jpg Anthologies

For those who do not read much poetry, for those who do not know where to start, this is a fun and easy commitment to take on. Reading a poem a day does not take long, mere minutes, and with over three-hundred poems in here there's bound to be a poem that speaks to each reader directly. Full review...

Stream Punks by Robert Kyncl and Maany Peyvan

4.5star.jpg Lifestyle

Robert Kyncl is the Chief Business Officer of YouTube. He has written an exceptionally interesting book about YouTube and his role within it. You don't have to be in your late 40s, or from Eastern Europe, to identify with his childhood recollections of a time when there was nothing on TV, and no other options for entertainment. It's amazing how far we've come – I still remember the hype around channel 5 appearing, and now I have more channels than I could ever watch on Sky and have both Netflix and Amazon Prime, and yet often choose the free (ignoring the adverts bit) alternative of YouTube instead. Kyncl actually worked at Netflix and regular television too, before coming over to YouTube, so he knows the industry well. Full review...

Fifteen Minutes by Erinna Mettler

4star.jpg Short Stories

Our world is obsessed with celebrity culture - and in this advent of social media, the updates on celebrity come 24 hours a day, delivered to us on our televisions, our magazines, on our phones and our computers. In focusing on these heightened and airbrushed lives though, are we missing the more interesting and human stories that are out there? That's what Erinna Mettler considers in 15 Minutes - short stories that feature celebrity encounters told through the eyes of ordinary, but no less compelling, characters. Full review...

50 Things You Should Know About the Vikings by Philip Parker

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The Vikings have got a lot to own up to. A huge DNA study in 2014 was the first thing that proved to the Orkney residents that they had Viking blood in their veins – they had been insisting it was that of the Irish. The Vikings it was that forced our English king's army to march from London to Yorkshire to kill off one invasion, only to spend the next fortnight schlepping back to Hastings to try and fend off another – and the Normans had the same Norse origin as the first lot, hence the name. There is a Thames Valley village just outside Henley – ie pretty damned far from the coast – that has a Viking longship on its signpost. Yes, they got to a lot of places, from Greenland to Kiev, from Murmansk to Turkey and the Med, and their misaligned history is well worth visiting – particularly on these pages. Full review...

Tin Man by Sarah Winman

5star.jpg General Fiction

Ellis is a tin man – someone who practices the under-esteemed art of panel beating. He can remove a dint, dent or blemish by expertly applying force so that you can't even feel where the mark was. If he has to choose what would define his life, though, it wouldn’t be his job. It would be Michael and Annie. Michael, the lad he grew up with and Annie who completed their triangle, changing 'everything and nothing'. Now only Ellis remains… Full review...

Kingmaker: Kingdom Come: (Book 4) by Toby Clements

5star.jpg Historical Fiction

1470 dawns and the next chapters of the War of the Roses are ready to play out. King Edward thinks that the future has been settled but treachery is still lurking. Meanwhile Katherine and Thomas also have their world turned upside down when that ledger and a chance comment threaten all they have, including their lives. Full review...

Jenny Sparrow Knows the Future by Melissa Pimentel

4.5star.jpg Women's Fiction

Jenny and Isla were focused teenagers. So much so in fact that they decided to write a life plan for their futures right down to predicting the year in which Jenny would marry the man of her dreams. As luck would have it, as the predicted year arrives Jenny finds herself living with Chris – kind, dependable Chris. The sort of guy with whom she would happily walk down the aisle. Then that fateful long girly weekend with Isla happens in Vegas. A cocktail or two and voila, a sudden, very different husband. Can Jenny get a divorce in time for her wedding to Chris without Chris finding out about this little…errr... glitch? Jenny's working on it! Full review...

Infernal Machines by John Hornor Jacobs

4.5star.jpg Fantasy

Having discovered the evil intent of the Autumn Lords, Livia Cornelius is trying to beat the inferno that the ensuing war is creating in order to get back to her husband Fisk. That's not as easy as it sounds though as she and her entourage including (her sister Carnelia and Livia's baby) will be caught up in the conflict more than they'd like to be. Meanwhile Fisk along with fellow mercenary Shoe, doesn't have it any easier… and the world is burning. Full review...