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.

There are currently 14,992 reviews at TheBookbag.

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The Woods Murder by Roy Lewis

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime

Jenny Carson was just nine years old when she was murdered whilst taking a shortcut through Kenton Woods. Her father blamed lawyer Charles Lendon for her death - not that he thought he was physically responsible, but because Lendon had refused to allow the local children to use his driveway as a shortcut to school, forcing them to cut through the woods if they were late. Lendon wasn't a popular man - he would say that lawyers never are - partly because of his attitudes, but his incessant womanising had made him a lot of enemies. When Lendon was murdered a couple of months after Jenny's death, there was no shortage of suspects. Full Review

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Murder at the Manor Hotel (Melissa Craig 4) by Betty Rowlands

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime

Melissa Craig should have been getting on with writing her latest mystery novel but she'd been sidetracked into working on the script for a pantomime. It wasn't a traditional panto, but a spoof for the birthday party of a local millionaire, to be held on Halloween. It's got all the hallmarks of a mystery and a pantomime and it looks as though cast and audience are all in for a good time with the rehearsals being held in a luxury hotel. Well, they were until one member of the cast turns up dead in the cellar at the bottom of a steep flight of stairs. What was he doing there and why is the hotel manager acting so strangely? Full Review

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Salvation by Peter F Hamilton

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Science Fiction

Apparently the term space opera was coined in 1941 as a pejorative. It was borrowed not from the high-brow musical art form, but from the common or garden 'soap opera'. It related to a particular kind of science fiction which the coiner (one Wilson Tucker) described as a hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn, spaceship yarn. It would be fifty years later before the term started to be re-appropriated to cover – if still the same themes of distant futures, military conflict, heroism and a simplistic set of values – more literary, more expansive works. The term is now taken as compliment. Full Review

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House of Glass by Susan Fletcher

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Clara suffered from Osteogenesis imperfecta: these days it would probably be called brittle bone disease and whilst there is still no cure, treatments have advanced. At the beginning of the twentieth century it meant that Clara was confined to her home, living life through a window and the tales her mother, Charlotte, brought home. Both became far too knowledgeable about bones and the sounds they made on breaking. Charlotte would list bones like continents. Clara would only escape the house after her mother's death - of a tumour at the age of thirty nine - and in her wanderings discovered Kew Gardens. Her growing knowledge of tropical plants led to the offer of a job stocking a newly-built glass house at Shadowbrook in Gloucestershire. Full Review

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Under the Ice (DCI Jansen) by Rachael Blok

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime

It's eleven days to Christmas and the cathedral city of St Albans is looking particularly festive with a covering of snow, but this belies the atmosphere: the body of a young girl has been found frozen in the local lake. DCI Jansen's only lead comes from Jenny Brennan - but can you put any credence on statements made by the sleep-deprived mother of a four month old child, particularly one who claims to have seen visions? Can you believe her statements that she's been sleep-walking in the middle of the night when she find evidence that the police have missed? When another girl goes missing the tiny city is in melt-down and for Jenny it all seems close to home. Far too close to home. Full Review

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The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Teens

Five years ago Evelyn, Philippa and James Hapwell escaped to the safety of their air raid shelter as bombs fell all around the streets of London. In the terrifying darkness waiting for their parents to join them, Evelyn prayed to be anywhere else. A plea that was answered by The Woodlands. One moment in grey London and the next surrounded by a rich green forest, the three children were transported from one world trapped in war, to another on the brink of its own. Full Review

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Clownfish by Alan Durant

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Confident Readers

When Dak's dad dies very suddenly, from a heart attack, Dak is left feeling lost and alone. His mum is lost inside her own grief, struggling to take care of herself, let alone care for Dak, and so he escapes to the local aquarium - somewhere that both he and his dad had loved. But then he discovers that actually, his dad has turned into a clownfish and is living at the local aquarium! What will Dak do when the aquarium's future is in question, and he may potentially lose his dad all over again? Full Review

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Only the Ocean by Natasha Carthew

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Teens

Kel Crow lives with a heart defect that could kill her at any time. Her only hope is to escape the floodridden, waterlogged Cornish world she lives in, to leave her drug-running family far behind, and get to America with enough money for an operation. She has a plan: stowaway on a ship, kidnap a rich girl, exchange the girl for enough money for the journey to America and the surgery that will change her life. Full Review

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Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Teens, Fantasy

You cannot put on a costume and become something else. You are a queen of Fennbirn island.

Following on from Three Dark Crowns and its sequel One Dark Throne, in Two Dark Reigns each of the Goddess' daughters have their own battles to fight. All her life, Katharine has dreamed of being the great Queen the island of Fennbirn deserves. Having won the crown though, she is facing trial after difficult trial and murmurs of dissent and revolution grow louder on the streets each and every day. And without evidence of her sisters' death does anyone but herself and the old queens buried under her skin, believe she is the one true Queen? Full Review

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A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction

The Center is the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi and is the source of great controversy when it comes to the Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice debate. It is at The Center where one man, George Goddard, takes it upon himself to get revenge for the loss of his grandchild, in the form of a mass-shooting. What arises is a novel that details the lives of the remaining hostages, as well as other characters central to the story. One of these characters is Hugh McElroy, a hostage negotiator called in to help deflate the situation, who soon discovers that his sister and daughter, Wren, happened to be at the clinic that day. Full Review

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Gentleman Jack (DI Yates 7) by Christina James

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime

The investigation into the thefts of farm machinery has been going on for months and it's getting DI Tim Yates down: he can't see where to go next. It's almost a relief when Jack Fovargue, agricultural entrepreneur and local celebrity is assaulted in the street, but no one can understand why Fovargue is so reluctant to help the police with their enquiries, or to press charges, particularly when a police officer was also assaulted. Yates is then diverted into the investigation which followed the discovery of the headless body of a woman in a canal near Lincoln: it's an interesting case but the downside is that the senior investigating officer is DI Michael Robinson. They're contemporaries but Robinson is bumptious and inclined to taking credit for other people's efforts. Full Review

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A Clean Death by Adriaan Verheul

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Thrillers, Crime

Three very different men meet in the jungle, led there by fate. Davey sees conspiracies everywhere, Oliver seeks answers about the death of his father, and Captain Christmas leads a community of armed men, women and children, hidden far from justice in the forest. As the three men are brought together, the events could cause each to lose something of consequence: maybe illusion, maybe conviction, and maybe, just maybe, life itself… Full Review

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Beyond Thought by Chris Dhladhla

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Lifestyle

Have you ever felt trapped by your own thoughts? That your mind is so busy processing what's going on in the world around you that you just can't catch a moment and simply be? Or that the outside world just won't stop pressing in upon an inner life that you'd like to be more peaceful? Full Review

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Where the Truth Lies (DI Ridpath) by M J Lee

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime

DI Thomas Ridpath - call him Ridpath as he doesn't think Tom or Thomas suits him - looked to have a promising future in CID until he was forced to take extended sick leave nine months ago. He's back, but the word cancer leaves people doubting how well you really are, or are going to stay. Perhaps it would be better if he quietly retired? His wife, Polly, would like to see him in a desk job. Ridpath would like to be back in front-line policing, but all that's available to him is a secondment for three months as Coroner's Officer. If that's how it's got to be, then he'll do the best job he can. Full Review

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Tales of Love and Disability by Laura Solomon

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories

I've always believed that less-able writers produce longer books: it takes a great deal of skill and talent to write a short story which holds the reader and keeps them coming back for more. There are far too many collections of short stories which are all too easy to put down and forget after you've read a couple of pieces. I've recently read a couple of novellas by Laura Solomon - Marsha's Deal and Hell's Unveiling and enjoyed them, so I was intrigued to see what she could do with an even shorter form. Full Review

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A Snapshot of Murder (Kate Shackleton Mysteries) by Frances Brody

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Crime (Historical)

Even detectives need a break and for Kate Shackleton, photography gives her the mental relaxation which she needs. When the local Photographic Society proposed an outing, Kate was keen to take the opportunity to visit Haworth and Stanbury, not least because the deeds of the Brontë Parsonage are being handed over so that it can become a museum and her parents will be there for the event. What could be better than seeing her family, witnessing a momentous event and having the opportunity to take photographs of the setting for Wuthering Heights? Nothing could go wrong. Or could it? Full Review

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The Afterwards by A F Harrold and Emily Gravett

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Confident Readers

Tell them what The Afterwards is about, they said.
Hopefully you know this, but...
It's a book with friendship in it.
It's a book with death in it.
It's a book with betrayal in it.
It's a book with love in it.
It's a book with a cat in it.
That's what I know.
That's what I can tell you.
That'll do me.

To be honest, I'd be surprised if that wouldn't do you, too.Full Review

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Santa Goes on Strike by Jem Vanston

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews For Sharing


Something's gone horribly wrong. It's Christmas Eve and everything is very busy in Santa's grotto. The presents are all ready and waiting to be loaded onto the sleigh and the reindeer are itching to get going. But Santa? Santa is just not in the mood. He is tired of delivering the latest toys to children who only play with them for five minutes. He wishes people would remember what Christmas is really about - a time for families to come together for love and friendship and goodwill to one another. Full Review

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The Coming of the Spirits by Rob Keeley

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Confident Readers


In Victorian England, young Edward Fitzberranger is about to be infected with scarlet fever and die. Further back still in time, Sir Francis Fitzberranger is about to marry Tina, the love of his life. In the modern day, Henry and Luke are getting on with life. And in an alternate timeline, Ellie is working for a resistance movement and struggling under a Britain ruled by the Nazis... Full Review

link=http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/ 1509885803/ref=nosim?tag=thebookbag-21


Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Confident Readers, Teens

Jago doesn't like Clementine. He knows there is something different about her and he doesn't like it. And he never lets her forget it. Clementine knows she's different too, and that the difference is magic. And as much as she tries to ignore it, Clementine's magic is getting stronger. So when Jago's bullying gets too much, it's not really surprising that Clem loses control of it and gets herself suspended from school. Full Review

link=http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1786894327 /ref=nosim?tag=thebookbag-21


The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig and Chris Mould

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Confident Readers, For Sharing

Poor old Truth Pixie. She's cursed! She can't speak unless it's to tell the truth. You might think this is a good thing because telling lies is bad, right? But sometimes the truth isn't nice and sometimes a white lie is okay and sometimes it's better to say nothing at all. You might not want to attract the attention of the school bully by calling him mean and nasty, for example, or you might not want to tell someone that you think their brand new haircut looks awful. Full Review

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Jess Castle and the Eyeballs of Death by M B Vincent

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews General Fiction, Crime

Dr Jess Castle, the self proclaimed failure of the prestigious Castle family has returned home to the sleepy, idyllic chocolate box town of Castle Kidbury. Rather than being delighted, her family are suspicious, especially her father, the judge. Luckily for Jess, she doesn't have to try too hard to dodge her family's suspicions as a series of gruesome local murders are taking place and that's all anyone is talking about. Jess accidentally finds herself in the thick of the investigation, and to her delight finds that she can actually be useful. But with the small population dwindling and the sense of danger moving ever closer to home, has Jess made a grave mistake getting involved? Full Review