Difference between revisions of "Book Reviews From The Bookbag"

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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]].''' <!-- INSERT NEW REVIEWS BELOW HERE--{{Frontpage
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'''Read [[:Category:Features|the latest features]].''' <!-- INSERT NEW REVIEWS BELOW HERE-->
|isbn=1529402255
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{{Frontpage
|title=A Body in the Bookshop (Kitt Hartley Yorkshire Mysteries)
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|author=Seishi Yokomizo and Louise Heal Kawai (translator)
|author=Helen Cox
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|title=The Honjin Murders
|rating=3.5
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|rating=4
 
|genre=Crime
 
|genre=Crime
|summary= Evie Bowes is very conscious of the scars on her faceThey were acquired when she was rescued from a car in the River Ouse by Inspector HalloranShe’d been suspected of the murder of her boyfriend, Owen, and in the process of clearing her name she and her best friend, Kitt Hartley developed a taste for detectionKitt developed a taste for Inspector Halloran Too, but they’re taking it slowlyWell, sort of slowly.
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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 1930sThe 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
 +
|title=Death's End
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|rating=5
 +
|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 shelfNot 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 part way 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 phenomenalGeorge 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
 
}}
 
}}
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|author= Alexandra Christo
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|isbn=1780894511
|title= Into the Crooked Place
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|title=Die Alone
|rating= 4
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|author=Simon Kernick
|genre= Teens
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|rating=4
|summary= In a world thriving with black magic, four young crooks embark on a quest to take down their criminal leader after they discover the plot behind his dangerous new magic.
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|genre=Thrillers
|isbn=1250318378
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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.
 
}}
 
}}
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|author=Kathlaine C Gill and D Clark Gill
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|author=Akwaeke Emezi
|title=Madness Between Light and Dark
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|title=Pet
|rating=3.5
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|rating=4.5
|genre=Fantasy
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|genre=Teens
|summary=It's 1912, and at New Hope Sanatorium, Christine Agnes Tupper is fast growing up. Abandoned there by parents who were ashamed of her hunchback, she's nevertheless grown up to an intelligent girl with a good heart. Her encounters with the inhabitants of the asylum swiftly take her on a fascinating, thrilling and sometimes terrifying journey of self discovery, allowing Agnes to prove that, even with a twisted spine, her heart is in the right place!
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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.
|isbn=1641110708
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|isbn=0571355110
 
}}
 
}}
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|isbn=190874572X
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|isbn=1686751680
|title=Letters from Tove
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|title=My Mummy does weird things / Maman fait des choses bizarres
|author=Tove Jansson (Author), Boel Westin (Editor), Helen Svensson (Editor), Sarah Death (Translator)
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|author=Amelie Julien and Gustyawan
|rating=5
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|rating=4
|genre=Autobiography
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|genre=For Sharing
|summary=Back at the beginning of the century I went on holiday to Nepal. I met a wonderful Finnish woman and we became sort of friends. I can't remember if it was on that holiday or a later one that Paula told me I really had to read Tove Jansson. I do know that it was four years later that I finally acquired an English translation of The Summer Book, and that I eagerly awaited the ''Sort Of'' translations of the rest of Jansson's work and devoured them as soon as I could get my hands on them.
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|summary=Which child doesn't think that there 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 occured 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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{{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
 +
|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>
 +
''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 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   
 +
}}
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|isbn=1784742783
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|author=Michael Harris
|title=The Benefit of Hindsight (Simon Serrailler)
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|title=Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World
|author=Susan Hill
 
 
|rating=5
 
|rating=5
|genre=Crime
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|genre=Lifestyle
|summary=A superficial look would suggest to you that Simon Serrailer has been lucky and - all things considered - his life is as good as it could be. He's back at work after a long break to recuperate from the violent incident which cost him his arm and almost his lifeWhen he's not at work he's spending his time in the cathedral roof drawing the medieval angels which are being restoredThere's talk of an exhibition of his drawings.  Lafferton seems to be quite settled as far as crime is concerned until one night when two local men open their front door to a couple seeking shelter.  It's the usual story of a broken-down car, and a phone which won't make a call. The man are generous and welcoming and have no suspicions that the couple are simply there to plan a robbery.  It's a serious error of judgement in the course of this investigation which will throw Simon Serrailler's future into doubt.
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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 allInstead 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
 
}}
 
}}
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|isbn=140638853X
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|author=Andy Briggs
|title=Somebody Give This Heart a Pen
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|title=Ctrl+S
|author=Sophia Thakur
 
 
|rating=5
 
|rating=5
|genre=Anthologies
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|genre=Science Fiction
|summary=Sophia Thakur's debut anthology is a collection of poems that are all unique, whether in relation to their style, length or theme. The collection is split into four sections, titled 'grow','wait','break'and 'grow again', guiding you through a process which is one of the foundations that the anthology is built on. Each section begins with a foregrounded title page containing various small pieces of writing, ranging from a quote by a Nigerian playwright, to African proverbs. This provides a nice introduction to the section before you are immersed into the beautifully written and eloquent poems that Thakur has clearly put her heart and soul into.
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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: vPolice, AI Bots and anarchists - as well as a criminal empire that will kill to stop him finding her . . .
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|isbn=1409184641
 
}}
 
}}
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|isbn=1910989460
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|isbn=1609809378
|title=Flember: The Secret Book
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|title=The Rabbits' Rebellion
|author=Jamie Smart
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|author=Ariel Dorfman and Chris Riddell
|rating=5
+
|rating=4.5
 
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=A mysterious island. A strange and mystical power called Flember. A boy-inventor called Dev, who uncovers a long forgotten secret. And a giant, red robot bear?! The sleepy village of Eden is about to descend into hilarious chaos - can disastrous Dev save his brand new best friend? Find out in this fully illustrated mad-cap adventure.
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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
 +
|title=M is for Movement
 +
|rating=4
 +
|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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{{Frontpage
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|isbn=1780724047
 +
|title=A Dictionary of Interesting and Important Dogs
 +
|author=Peter J Conradi
 +
|rating=4
 +
|genre=Pets
 +
|summary=I struggle to resist a book about dogs, but I did wonder why this one was so ''thin'': given that I've never encountered a dog who wasn't interesting or important - and probably both, I was expecting a massive tome. But ''A Dictionary of Interesting and Important Dogs'' is actually ''a rich compendium of the world's most significant and beloved dogs'' and it's certainly a rich treasure trove.  We begin with Peter J Conradi's four collies: Cloudy, Sky. Bradley and Max.  They're consecutive rather than simultaneous dogs, but what comes over is Conradi's love for each and every one of them.  I knew that I was in safe hands.
 
}}
 
}}
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|isbn=0241355222
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|isbn=1785769294
|title=Frostheart
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|title=Man at the Window (Detective Cardilini)
|author=Jamie Littler
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|author=Robert Jeffreys
|rating=5
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|rating=4.5
|genre=Confident Readers
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|genre=Crime
|summary=Way out in the furthest part of the known world, a tiny stronghold exists all on its own, cut off from the rest of human-kin by monsters that lurk beneath the Snow Sea. There, a little boy called Ash waits for the return of his parents, singing a forbidden lullaby to remind him of them... and doing his best to avoid his very, VERY grumpy yeti guardian, Tobu. But life is about to get a whole lot more crazy-adventurous for Ash. When a brave rescue attempt reveals he has amazing magical powers, he's whisked aboard the Frostheart, a sleigh packed full of daring explorers who could use his help. But can they help him find his family?
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|summary=It's when we read that a young boy is creeping reluctantly to a teacher's bedroom one October night that we realise something is badly wrong.  Nowadays you ''might'' hope that something would be done about it fairly quickly but this was 1965 and child abuse was generally regarded as malicious mischief on the part of the child. The boy would be safe that night though - albeit in the most horrific fashion. When he reached Captain Edmund's bedroom he found the man dead on the floor, the top of his skull missing.  The school's initial reaction was that this was a dreadful accident: there had been a cull of kangaroos in some nearby fields and it was obviously a stray bullet which had killed the Captain.
 
}}
 
}}
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|isbn=1913101037
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|isbn=1786695227
|title=The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone
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|title=Invisible in a Bright Light
|author=Jaclyn Moriarty
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|author=Sally Gardner
|rating=5
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|rating=4.5
 
|genre=Confident Readers
 
|genre=Confident Readers
|summary=Bronte doesn't miss her parents, and she's not particularly sad when she learns of their terrible fate at the hands of pirates. And why should she be? After all, they just dumped her on Aunt Isabelle (without even asking if it would be a convenient arrangement for either party) when she was a baby. They swanned off to have adventures, and never once came back to check if their only child was healthy and happy.
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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.
 
}}
 
}}
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|isbn=1401280048
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|isbn=1912374854
|title=Batman: Nightwalker: The Graphic Novel
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|title=Violet
|author=Marie Lu, Stuart Moore and Chris Wildgoose
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|author=S J I Holliday
|rating=4
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|rating=3.5
|genre=Teens
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|genre=Thrillers
|summary=The young man called Bruce Wayne is a very noticeable one – he can hardly go anywhere without people – bystanders, paparazzi, and suchlike – reminding him he's a billionaire at the age of eighteen. Feeling rather stuck with the legacy he's inherited from his murdered parents, he wants to do charitable deeds.  But one night, when he speeds off in his posh new car in pursuit of a criminal, he goes too far as far as the authorities are concerned, and gets given the most unlikely stretch of community service instead – cleaning in the home for violent criminals that is Arkham Asylum. There he learns of some other people who also allege charitable intent – the Nightwalkers, a gang who steal any ten-figure bank account contents they can, and murder the owner.  Can he get close to one of them and get the truth of their schemes, or will the manipulative Madeleine be a step too far for the young do-gooder?
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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.
 
}}
 
}}
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|isbn=B07W4MNBSG
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|isbn=1912374838
|title=Be Careful Who You Marry
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|title=Nothing Important Happened Today
|author=Lizzy Mumfrey
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|author=Will Carver
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
 
|genre=General Fiction
 
|genre=General Fiction
|summary=It was coming up to Halloween in 1987 and a group of sixth-form schoolgirls wondered what they would be doing when they were fifty. When you're only seventeen that seems positively ancient, but Liz was convinced that ''your entire life depends on who you marry''. The only eligible boys were the Young Farmers and the idea of living in a farmhouse and having a couple of children called Will and Olly appealed to Charlotte, or perhaps William and Oliver if you were Elizabeth who was determined to marry the rather superior Patrick Shepley-Botham.  The place to start their search was obviously the Young Farmers' Halloween disco that weekend.  There was just one problem - there were too many Elizabeths in the class.
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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.
 
}}
 
}}
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|author=Michael J Malone
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|isbn= williamabbey
|title=In The Absence of Miracles
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|title=The Pursuit of William Abbey
|rating=4
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|author=Claire North
|genre=Thrillers
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|rating=3.5
|summary=John Docherty's mother has been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke. It is thought unlikely that she will ever be able to live independently again. Faced with having to sell the family home in order to pay for her nursing care, Docherty starts the clear out.   In the attic he finds a childhood picture of himself, holding a toddler a toddler he knows nothing about.  He also finds a blood-stained shoe.
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|genre=Paranormal
|isbn=191237479X
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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…
 
}}
 
}}
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|isbn=0692853545
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|isbn=1643785036
|title=The Things We Do
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|title=The Wondrous Apothecary
|author=Kay Pfaltz
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|author=Mary E Martin
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Thrillers
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|genre=General Fiction
|summary=It's 2015 and Dr Eleanor Hartley is a prison psychologist at the state penitentiary and she knows that her next patient is not going to be easy.  'Jane Doe' has been convicted of the murder of two men - one a police officer.  She pleaded guilty and since then has been silent: even her identity is in doubtShe was carrying identification as Jane Dunlap when she was arrested, but it's been proved to be falseThere seem to be no family or friends who are missing her.  Eleanor's task is to get Jane talking, to find out why a seemingly normal young woman would murder two men.
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|summary=Those who have known Alexander Wainwright, the landscape artist famous for his Turner prize winning ''The Hay Wagon'', and Rinaldo, renowned conceptual artist would say that they're chalk and cheese, if not sworn enemiesIf 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 measureWainwright 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 policeOn this latest occasion we see him charged with arson and theft of ''The Hay Wagon''.
 
}}
 
}}
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|author=Patti Smith
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|author=Mary H.K. Choi
|title=Year of the Monkey
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|title=Permanent Record
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre=Biography
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|genre=Teens
|summary=On the coast of Santa Cruz, Patti Smith enters the lunar year of the monkey - one packed with mischief, sorrow, and unexpected moments. In a stranger's words, ''Anything is possible: after all, it's the year of the monkey''. As Smith wanders the coast of Santa Cruz in solitude, she reflects on a year that brings huge shifts in her life - loss and aging are faced head on, as it the shifting political waters in America.  
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|summary=Pablo, a college drop-out, is working at a New York bodega. He's massively in debt, he's avoiding his mother, and he finds his joy in creating unusual snacks with random ingredients!  Whilst working one evening, he's surprised to discover that the girl he is chatting with as he serves is a super-famous pop star and, as unlikely as it may seem, they start a relationship.  With one character who is trying very hard not to be seen or noticed by anyone, and the other who is seen and followed and hounded by everyone all over the world, it's an interesting clash as they come together.  This isn't just a love story though, and actually it's really just Pab's story, about the journey he takes in his life via his meet-up with Leanna Smart.
|isbn=1526614758
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|isbn=0349003459
 
}}
 
}}
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|author=Margaret Atwood
+
|isbn=1609809319
|title=The Testaments
+
|title=Long-Haired Cat-Boy Cub
|rating=4.5
+
|author=Etgar Keret, Aviel Basil and Sondra Silverston (translator)
|genre=Dystopian Fiction
+
|rating=5
|summary= Finally! Almost forty years on, we have a sequel to [[The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood|The Handmaid's Tale]]. I don't want to tell you too much about the plot because it's a novel that is entirely plot driven. Suffice it to say that ''The Testaments'' takes place fifteen years later, fifteen years after Offred gets into a van, not knowing what will happen next. It's told by three narrators: Aunt Lydia, who is secretly writing her memoirs in Ardua Hall; Agnes, a girl brought up in Gilead with the expectation she will marry a commander; Daisy, a rebellious teenage girl in Canada who knows of Gilead only from school lessons and its Pearl Girl missionaries who occasionally call into the store owned by her parents...
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|genre=Confident Readers
|isbn=1784742325
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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…
 
}}
 
}}
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|author=Anne Boden
+
|isbn=1785785516
|title=The Money Revolution
+
|title=Fucking Good Manners
 +
|author=Simon Griffin
 
|rating=4
 
|rating=4
|genre= Business and Finance
+
|genre=Lifestyle
|summary= Money is changing. It might not be in the ways you think. We’re not suddenly getting a 3p or £3 coin (and have you ever even found a country that offers anything different to the 1, 2, 5 model?) We’re getting a lot more digital with payments, which seems to suit most people apart from charity collectors and the homeless on the street, but although this book has the subtitle that includes the word ‘’digital’’, it’s not really about this either. Instead it’s about the ‘’management’’ of your finances, and how to take control.
+
|summary=Manners maketh man, they say. It certainly makes life easier if everybody abides by a set of conventions, some of which are ages old and other which have evolved over time. Manners are not about how much to tip or how you should behave if you get an invitation to Buckingham Palace, they have nothing to do with class or financial status:  they're about getting the basics right before we try to deal with more difficult matters.  Of course we all have more relaxed manners when we're with family and friends, but it's best if we learn to distinguish between our public and private lives and to act appropriately.  ''Fucking Good Manners'' aims to help us on the way.
|isbn=1789660610
 
 
}}
 
}}
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
{{Frontpage
|isbn=147117316X
+
|isbn=0008324859
|title=Guilty Not Guilty
+
|title=Fowl Twins
|author=Felix Francis
+
|author=Eoin Colfer
|rating=4.5
 
|genre=Thrillers
 
|summary=The Honourable William Herbert Millgate Gordon-Russell (Bill Russell to those who knew him well) was acting as a volunteer steward at Warwick Racecourse when he was told of the violent death of his much-loved wife.  It would get worse though: the successful insurance actuary would be accused of killing her and hounded by the media.  Then  he would lose his job and his home.  His best friends would turn against him, as they came to believe him guilty of the murder.  Yet there was no really compelling evidence that he was guilty.
 
}}
 
 
 
{{Frontpage
 
|isbn=1908745819
 
|title=Surfacing
 
|author=Kathleen Jamie
 
 
|rating=5
 
|rating=5
|genre=History
+
|genre=Confident Readers
|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 why.  The 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 am.  Add 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 eventually.  I am pleased to have it fall onto my path so quickly.
+
|summary=Relax, everyone – our old friend Artemis may be off planet, but the baddies aren't getting away with skulduggery any time soon because they now have not one but two members of the Fowl family to contend with. Those cute little twins are now eleven (and, frankly, cute no longer) and in this, their first independent adventure, they meet a troll and without even trying manage to make two deadly enemies: a nobleman obsessed with immortality whatever the cost (to other people), and an unusual interrogator-nun. The boys are chased, kidnapped, arrested and even killed (though not for long), all with the help of one trainee fairy.
 
}}
 
}}
 
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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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Revision as of 09:57, 5 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 15,478 reviews at TheBookbag.

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Review of

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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Review of

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 part way 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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Review of

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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Review of

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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Review of

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 there 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 occured 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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Review of

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 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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Review of

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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Review of

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: vPolice, AI Bots and anarchists - as well as a criminal empire that will kill to stop him finding her . . . Full Review

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Review of

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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Review of

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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Review of

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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Review of

Man at the Window (Detective Cardilini) by Robert Jeffreys

4.5star.jpg Crime

It's when we read that a young boy is creeping reluctantly to a teacher's bedroom one October night that we realise something is badly wrong. Nowadays you might hope that something would be done about it fairly quickly but this was 1965 and child abuse was generally regarded as malicious mischief on the part of the child. The boy would be safe that night though - albeit in the most horrific fashion. When he reached Captain Edmund's bedroom he found the man dead on the floor, the top of his skull missing. The school's initial reaction was that this was a dreadful accident: there had been a cull of kangaroos in some nearby fields and it was obviously a stray bullet which had killed the Captain. Full Review

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Review of

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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Review of

Violet by S J I Holliday

3.5star.jpg Thrillers

I've never been but understand that travelling is all about meeting new people and forming instantaneous bonds with people in often chance situations. Well that's exactly what happens when the two main/only characters meet in a travel agency in Beijing - Carrie is unsuccessfully trying to get a refund on an extra ticket for the Trans-Siberian train and Violet is trying to unsuccessfully buy a ticket for the same sold-out journey. As the two team up, travelling through Mongolia, Serbia and into Russia, it could've been the start of a beautiful friendship but this a thriller after all so it quickly becomes a tale of obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships. Full Review

1912374838.jpg

Review of

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

4star.jpg General Fiction

Nothing Important Happened Today is a dark, twisted, difficult read. Stories about cults often are, but this is different; it's written with a sense of style that is quite unlike anything I've read before. I can't remember ever having read a novel with such an odd, distinctive narrative voice. While a slim and relatively small book, the slow-moving nature of the plot makes it feel far larger than its 276 pages. Full Review

Williamabbey.jpg

Review of

The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North

3.5star.jpg Paranormal

When William Abbey fails to prevent the lynching of a young boy in 1880's South Africa, he finds himself cursed by the grieving mother. A naïve English Doctor, he slowly learns the weight of the curse upon him, as the shadow of the dead boy begins to follow him across the world. Never stopping, always growing – it crosses oceans and mountains in pursuit of William. As he finds himself unable to resist speaking the truths that he hears in others, he also learns that the dark shadow is deadly – and seeks to kill the one he loves the most… Full Review

1643785036.jpg

Review of

The Wondrous Apothecary by Mary E Martin

4star.jpg General Fiction

Those who have known Alexander Wainwright, the landscape artist famous for his Turner prize winning The Hay Wagon, and Rinaldo, renowned conceptual artist would say that they're chalk and cheese, if not sworn enemies. If you've watched the relationship, as has our narrator, art dealer Jamie Helmsworth, you'd have said that they were magnets, drawing and repulsing each other in equal measure. Wainwright was at the socially acceptable end of the artistic continuum, but with Rinaldo it was all too obvious that there was but a fine dividing line between conceptual art and public nuisance. As time has worn on, he's frequently been brought to the attention of the police. On this latest occasion we see him charged with arson and theft of The Hay Wagon. Full Review

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Review of

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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Review of

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

1785785516.jpg

Review of

Fucking Good Manners by Simon Griffin

4star.jpg Lifestyle

Manners maketh man, they say. It certainly makes life easier if everybody abides by a set of conventions, some of which are ages old and other which have evolved over time. Manners are not about how much to tip or how you should behave if you get an invitation to Buckingham Palace, they have nothing to do with class or financial status: they're about getting the basics right before we try to deal with more difficult matters. Of course we all have more relaxed manners when we're with family and friends, but it's best if we learn to distinguish between our public and private lives and to act appropriately. Fucking Good Manners aims to help us on the way. Full Review

0008324859.jpg

Review of

Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Relax, everyone – our old friend Artemis may be off planet, but the baddies aren't getting away with skulduggery any time soon because they now have not one but two members of the Fowl family to contend with. Those cute little twins are now eleven (and, frankly, cute no longer) and in this, their first independent adventure, they meet a troll and without even trying manage to make two deadly enemies: a nobleman obsessed with immortality whatever the cost (to other people), and an unusual interrogator-nun. The boys are chased, kidnapped, arrested and even killed (though not for long), all with the help of one trainee fairy. Full Review