The Bookbag

From TheBookbag
Jump to: navigation, search

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. We can even direct you to help for custom book reviews! Visit to get free writing tips and will help you get your paper written for free.

There are currently 14,261 reviews at TheBookbag.

Want to find out more about us?

Reviews of the Best New Books

Read new reviews by category.
Read the latest features.

My First Wild Activity Book by Isabel Otter and Maxime Lebrun

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

You sit down together as a family and ask your child what they would like to read from your bulging bookcase. Will they choose the timeless classic that you yourself read as a child? Perhaps they will pluck for a modern tale with its dayglo colouring and storyline based around pants? Nope. Neither of these. All you will hear is Stickers! Your child would rather play with a sticker activity book than read with you, so best make it a worthwhile sticker activity book. Full review...

Storm Cloud by Jenny Oldfield

4star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

Kami Miller was invited to stay at Wolf Ridge Farm, the home of her best friend Macy Lucas, for the summer. They were both going to be working as real cowgirls and there was a herd of 300 cows to be brought back from the mountains to the ranch. It wasn't going to be easy work, particularly as Macy's father was recovering from an accident and couldn't ride. All the pressure of running the ranch has fallen on Macy's brother, Wes - and he's not coping well. Kami's upset that he's taking it out on one of the young colts, Storm Cloud, but what can she do about it? Full review...

The Night Stalker by Clare Donoghue

4.5star.jpg Crime

DI Mike Lockyer and his preferred sidekick DS Jane Bennett are back – but this time not on home turf. Lewisham's finest are sent to the country for this outing. There's been a death down in Somerset. It's not the sort of thing you'd expect the regional murder squad to get involved in, it looks like a hit-and-run on a remote road in the Quantocks, probably just some drunk driving a big four-by-four who didn't even know he'd done it. Full review...

The Captain's Girl by Nicola Pryce

4star.jpg Historical Fiction

Last year, Bookbag reviewed, and thoroughly enjoyed, Pengelly's Daughter, a swashbuckling historical romance set in picturesque Cornwall. Now we have the pleasure of reading the much-anticipated sequel. This time, the story focuses on a neighbour of the Polcarrow family, Miss Celia Cavendish, who has been engaged to a cruel man that she does not love. One fateful night, she runs away to the Polcarrow house to beg them for help, and the pivotal events of that night have far-reaching consequences for all involved. Full review...

Sea of Rust by C Robert Cargill

4.5star.jpg Science Fiction

Have you ever watched the Terminator movies or some similar 'Robo-geddon' franchise and wondered what would have happened if the robots had actually won? Well wonder no more, because Sea of Rust hinges on that exact premise; a world where the robots have wiped out every living thing from planet earth. Only artificial life remains; there is no trace of organic matter anywhere, since the robot uprising that devastated the planet. Now two huge mainframes compete for world domination: CISSUS and VIRGIL. They capture robots and turn them into drones; uploading their minds into a hive consciousness. The few remaining bots are called 'freebots,' and inhabit a desert called the Sea of Rust, where they do what they can to survive, including cannibalising other bots for spare parts. Full review...

Have You Seen My Giraffe? by Michelle Robinson and Claire Powell

4.5star.jpg For Sharing

Imagine, if you will, a world in which you no longer win goldfish at the fair, but you could potentially be coming home with a giraffe! This is the situation that the family in this story find themselves in, and it turns out that having a giraffe in your house may not go down too well with your parents! Full review...

A Time of Love and Tartan by Alexander McCall Smith

5star.jpg General Fiction

Here we are, back on Scotland Street, eager to see what everyone (especially Bertie…) has been up to! This is now the twelfth book in the Scotland Street series which is remarkable. That a serial novel has such momentum, and that the characters within have become so very familiar to AMS's loyal readers, is a testament to his skills as a writer. This time around our nerves are on edge as Pat ventures back towards a relationship with the dreadful Bruce! Surely she'll see sense...won't she?! Matthew, of all people, is in trouble with the police, Irene is busy planning a PhD, and Bertie? Could there be a happy ending for Bertie in the air? Full review...

The Long Arm of the Law by Martin Edwards (editor)

4.5star.jpg Crime

When we think of the 'golden age' of crime fiction, we think of the brilliant amateur forever putting the official P.C. Plod to shame. Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes, Poirot, Father Brown and so on. I'll admit to being a fan of all of those, but they aren't the whole story. The other side of the coin shows the official police doing their job and getting their man. Full review...

Chasing the Sun by Katy Colins

4star.jpg Women's Fiction

Author Katy Colins became Britain's most famous jilted bride when the true story of her subsequent lonely hearts backpacking trip went viral, before becoming a romantic comedy book series with this the latest one. Full review...

The Secret Life of a Tiger by Emilia Dziubak and Przemyslaw Wechterowicz

4star.jpg For Sharing

If David Attenborough has taught us anything is that a lot goes on in the natural world that we are unaware of. Animals will hunt in interesting ways, or find a mate using secret dances, but did you know that Tigers sometimes sneak up on apes and give them new haircuts? You will be amazed with the revelations found in Emilia Dziubak and Przemyslaw Wechterowicz's book, but I am not convinced that this kid's book is based on facts. Full review...

Scientist Academy: Are You Ready For the Challenge? by Steve Martin and Essi Kimpimaki

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Kids seem to have an innate curiosity about the world around them. They are constantly asking How? and Why? Curious kids and budding scientists are going to love the new Scientist Academy book by Ivy Kids, which is filled with practical experiments and fun activities with an educational twist. Full review...

City of Circles by Jess Richards

4star.jpg Fantasy

Danu is a tightrope walker who is mourning her parents, after a disease has ravaged the circus where she grew up. Her mother has entrusted her with a locket that hides a secret. Over the years, Danu pushes away her grief and develops elaborate and successful high-wire acts with Morrie, a charismatic hunchback who wants to marry her. When the circus returns to Danu's birthplace, Matryoshka, Danu is enchanted by the temples, spice mists, and pleasure seekers within the intoxicating outer circle district. Here, she finally gains the courage to open her mother's locket, and discovers the name of a stranger who lives behind the locked gate of the Inner Circle. Fated to remain in Matryoshka, Danu attempts to resolve this mystery. Will she and Morrie ever be reunited, or will something far more unexpected be waiting for her in the mysterious heart of the city? Full review...

A Home Full of Friends by Peter Bently and Charles Fuge

4.5star.jpg For Sharing

Bramble Badger was out looking for nuts by the river when the storm broke and he was so cold that he decided to go straight home. On the way he met a trail of devastation: Snuffle Dormouse's house has been squashed by a falling tree. She'd like shelter in Bramble's sett, if he has room. He's a little bit reluctant because he thinks his sett is in a mess and there isn't much space or dinner available, but what can you do when a friend is in need? Next it's Tipper the Toad whose home is full of mud, then Boo the Hedgehog's nest has been covered by leaves. Full review...

A Life in the Day: Memories of Sixties London, Lots of Writing, The Beatles and my Beloved Wife by Hunter Davies

5star.jpg Autobiography

Although I knew the name Hunter Davies before I picked this book up, I was unaware just how pivotal a figure of the Swinging Sixties Hunter Davies really was. Take him, Harold Wilson and a certain musical quartet from Liverpool out of the decade, and you are left with a bit of a vacuum. Full review...

The Matilda Effect by Ellie Irving

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

When you're wronged, and you know you've been wronged, it's the worst feeling in the world. When someone takes credit for something you have done, claiming a prize that is rightfully yours, it's a horrible, horrible injustice, and that's the same whether it's a Nobel Prize or simply the blue ribbon (and excessive amounts of dog food) given away at a school science fair. Now parents might tell you that life's not fair, you win some you lose some, or any of a number of clichés, but if your name is Matilda you just can't let it lie. And, when she finds out that her granny was side-lined for a much bigger award, for work she did 50 years ago, she makes it her mission to right the wrong and let the world know exactly what happened. Full review...

My Psychosis Story: A Story of Fear and Hope Through Adversity by Emmanuel Owusu

4star.jpg Lifestyle

My Psychosis Story recounts Emmanuel Owusu's journey into and eventually out of psychosis. In late 2014, during a visit home for Christmas, he found himself exhausted, anxious and unable to sleep. Symptoms persisted and soon he was suffering from noise sensitivity and intense headaches. Various visits to A&E failed to diagnose a physical cause. Things deteriorated further and possible diagnoses of anxiety and post traumatic concussion were suggested. And still things got worse. Eventually, Owusu's condition deteriorated so far that he was suffering from delusions and hallucinations. An ambulance was called and he was detained - sectioned - under the Mental Health Act in 2015. Full review...

The Glow of Fallen Stars by Kate Ling

4star.jpg Teens

The Glow of Fallen Stars is the second book in Kate Ling's Ventura series - you can read our review of the first instalment here. Seren and Dom, together with Ezra and Mariana, have escaped the Ventura, the spaceship on which they have spent their whole lives, and crash landed on the planet Huxley 3. At last, they are away from the stifling authoritarianism of life on board the ship and free to pursue their own lives underneath a real sky, walking on real land. Full review...

Sky Thieves by Dan Walker

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Zoya Delarose never quite fitted in at the orphanage and she's about to learn why. Abducted at the end of a school trip, Zoya is knocked unconscious and wakes up in a creaking sky ship in the dead of night. She attempts to escape but when she's caught and brought in front of the ship's captain, Zoya discovers a history and a threat that will change her life forever. Full review...

Peck, Hen, Peck! and Ben's Pet (Early Reader) by Jill Atkins and Barbara Vagnozzi

4star.jpg For Sharing

It probably sounds obvious, but you really shouldn't keep your pet chickens in a bag! Well, that's what I learned from this book which tells us first the story of Tom who puts his hen in a bag. The hen pecks through the bag, as hens are wont to do, and escapes! A simple and somewhat tragic tale! This is swiftly followed by a story about Ben's pet. Will it be another hen, I wondered? No, actually, after several incorrect guesses, we discover that Ben's pet is only a rabbit! Full review...

Buzz and Jump! Jump! (Early Reader) by Alice Hemming and Louise Forshaw

5star.jpg For Sharing

After hearing a mysterious buzzing in the kitchen, mum traps a fly in a jar, but then she hears the buzzing again...what could be going on? Meanwhile, Ken the Kangaroo (who declares himself to be the best at jumping), is jumping everywhere he can. In this red level book, aimed generally at those who have completed their reception year in school, there are two simple, sweet stories in one book, perfect for those who are just learning to read. Full review...

Bamboo and I Wish (Early Reader) by Alice Hemming and Julia Seal

5star.jpg For Sharing

With two stories in one book, there's plenty to like about this simple, and funny, early reader. The first story, Bamboo, deals with a cheeky panda who has run off to hide. Where can he be? The second story is about a wishing well which is granting wishes left, right and centre! Evaluated as a red level book, it sets itself as being about the right level for those around the end of their reception year. Full review...

How to be a Kosovan Bride by Naomi Hamill

5star.jpg Women's Fiction

How to be a Kosovan Bride recounts tales of two women, who are of a similar age and live in Kosovo, one of the world's youngest and most unstable countries, in the aftermath of the Balkan war. The first girl, the Kosovan Wife, follows the archaic, traditional path that has long been the norm for women from her country - she marries before she is twenty, and soon produces children. The second girl follows a starkly different path - returned to her parents after a disastrous wedding night, and thus labelled the Returned Girl, she scorns tradition, and studies endlessly until she is accepted into university, where she discovers the distinctly modern, Western world of political activism. The girls' stories are interwoven with both Kosovan folk tales and memories of the recent war, really giving readers a feel of what it is like to call such an unstable place home. This is undoubtedly a political book, with distinctly feminist undertones, but it is also thoroughly enjoyable, and beautifully written to boot. Full review...

Storm Whale by Sarah Brennan and Jane Tanner

5star.jpg For Sharing

This is one of the most beautiful picture books that I have read for a while.

Bleak was the day and the wind whipped down When I and my sisters walked to town…

So begins this story of three sisters who set off to walk to the beach together in this stunning and rather special picture book. The cover illustration is reminiscent of traditional family holidays depicting three girls, hand in hand and wearing sunhats disappearing over sand dunes on their way to the beach. The story then departs from a typical seaside theme as the sisters find a stranded whale on the beach and spend the day in desperate attempts to save it. Full review...

Fear by Roald Dahl

5star.jpg Short Stories

Do you enjoy being scared? Featuring fourteen classic spine-chilling stories chosen by Roald Dahl, these terrible tales of ghostly goings-on will have you shivering with fear as you turn the pages. Full review...

War by Roald Dahl

5star.jpg Short Stories

In war, are we at our heroic best or our cowardly worst? Featuring the autobiographical stories from Roald Dahl's time as a fighter pilot in the Second World War as well as seven other tales of conflict and strife, Dahl reveals the human side of our most inhumane activity. Full review...

Editing Emma by Chloe Seager

4star.jpg Teens

Emma Nash is a typical 16 year old with all the insecurities and obsessions that come with this age. When the love of her life ghosts her (i.e. breaks up with her by acting as if she doesn't exist), she spends the summer moping in her pyjamas. However, September arrives all too soon bringing with it the start of Sixth Form and a resolution to make some important edits to her life. This includes e-tweaking herself with disastrous, and often hilarious, consequences. The whole experiment is recorded in Emma's private blog: a blog that she might just regret ever writing. Full review...

Low Heights by Pascal Garnier and Melanie Florence (translator)

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

Edouard is an exemplary example of a crotchety old man – changing his mind, and blaming anything and everything – even that decision – on other people. He's physically fine, apart from one hand disabled by a stroke, but mentally, what with forgetting his past, assuming too many days are Sundays when they're not and buying too many inappropriate things, he needs a nurse – Therese, who has formed an unlikely and almost unwanted couple with him. For Edouard, the memory of his wife who died ten years ago is still a little too strong. But this unusual 'family' is about to be upset by an unexpected arrival, who will stir the emotions and life of their remote house no end… Full review...

Broadcast by Liam Brown

4.5star.jpg Thrillers

When David Callow is offered the lead role in a revolutionary new online show, he snatches at the opportunity. Rapidly becoming a viral sensation, David is propelled to stratospheric levels of celebrity. However, he soon realises the downside of sharing every secret with the world. A prisoner to both his fame and his own thoughts, David seeks to have the chip removed, only to discover the chilling secret lurking at the heart of MindCast, and the terrifying ambition the show's creator has for him. Full review...

The Painted Queen: an Amelia Peabody Mystery by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

4star.jpg Crime (Historical)

Amelia Peabody is a no-nonsense lady who endures all manner of murder attempts, kidnappings and sundry other crimes while on various archaeological digs in Egypt with equanimity and composure. She is either revered or feared (or both) by villains, museum curators, family and workmen alike for her caustic tongue and the steel-reinforced parasol she brandishes at the first sign of danger. And yet, once the evil-doers have been locked up, precious objects returned to their owners and all injuries bandaged, she still insists on all the decorum of the English abroad: formal dress for dinner and only the politest and least contentious topics for dinner-table conversation. Full review...

Conversations with Kammie by Annie Ingram

4star.jpg Pets

It was something of a relief when I encountered Annie Ingram and her cocker spaniel Kammie. You see, Annie knows something which has been self-evident to me for a long time: dogs are perfectly capable of communicating with humans and not just on a level of food!, walk! or play!. You do require extensive training to become fluent, but most dogs will be perfectly willing to give their time to teach you and all you have to do is listen. Annie has studied hard: Kammie has trained her well and the pair have allowed us to share some of their conversations. Full review...

High Spirits (Spirits 4) by Rob Keeley

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Millions of people will die in the war, Ellie. And it's our job to make sure it happens. That's why our work isn't easy.

And if that's not ominous, I don't know what is.

It's been two years since Ellie's last adventure in the spirit world or talked to her friend, the ghost of Edward Fitzberranger. She has tried to do what Viewpoint asked her to do and live a normal, boring, human life. Mum is still working for the Journeyback historical re-enactment company but it looks as though her job won't last much longer. Money is tight and Mum, as ever, is stressed. Dad got compensation for his accident, so he is living the life of Riley. He's eager to help out but Mum won't hear of it. And Ellie has a romantic interest in Luke. All in all, things could be better but they could also be worse. No more spirits. No more corrupting of timelines. Full review...

Across the Ocean by Hawa L Crickmore

4star.jpg General Fiction

A young cage fighter, Martin Grandson, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder which required a bone-marrow transplant, preferably from a sibling. Only recently he'd been a fit young man, in the prime of life, but now he was suffering from a rare type of bone cancer: without the transplant he would be paralysed for life and might be dead within the next twelve weeks if he didn't receive the transplant within the next fourteen days. Unfortunately Martin's parents had died in a car crash and there were no siblings or other close relatives. His girlfriend, Celia, was not a match. Full review...