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Monday to Saturday

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Thursday
Dec062012

Books

We have an extensive range of titles covering a broad range of topics with reviews by staff and customers.

If you have a favourite or you’re passionate about a book then please write us a review.

 

Death in Devon by Ian Sansom

Swanton Morley, the People's Professor, sets off for Devon to continue his history of England, The County Guides. Morley's daughter Miriam and his assistant Spanish Civil War veteran Stephen Sefton pack up the Lagonda for a trip to the fine market towns, quaint seaports and lively villages.

Sidmouth? Budleigh Salterton? Dawlish? Teignmouth?

Morley has been invited to give the Founder's Day speech at All Souls School in Rousdon. But when the trio arrive they discover that a boy has died in mysterious circumstances. Was it an accident or was it - murder? Join Morley, Sefton and Miram on another adventure into the dark heart of 1930s England.

Death in Devon is a finely crafted cosy crime treat from the author of The Mobile Library series.

 

The British Library's Crime Classics.

Each a classic of its time, these books thrilled pre-war readers and are now back in print in these handsome editions. Full of wonderful period detail, the collection includes:

The Cornish Coast Murder The Reverend Dodd, vicar of the quiet Cornish village of Boscawen, spends his evenings reading detective stories by the fireside - but the peace is shattered one stormy night when Julius Tregarthan, a secretive and ill-tempered magistrate, is found with a bullet through his head!

A Scream in Soho When a piercing scream rends the air and a bloodied knife is found, Detective Inspector MacCarthy is soon on the scene. He must move through the dark, seedy Soho underworld to uncover this mystery.

Mystery in White Heavy snowfall brings a train to a halt. The passengers trapped together for Christmas, seek to unravel the secrets of an empty house when a murderer strikes in their midst.

Murder Underground When Miss Pongleton is found murdered on the stairs of Belsize Park station, her fellow-boarders in the Frampton Hotel are not overwhelmed with grief at the death of a tiresome old woman. But they all have their theories about the identity of the murderer, and help to unravel the mystery of who killed the wealthy 'Pongle'.

Each purchase supports the  British Library, so for the very best in classic crime fiction why not  return to the original masters of the mystery genre?

 

Bletchley Girls by Tessa Dunlop

Interest in Bletchley Park has reached dizzying and glamorous heights, so to read a realistic rather than romanticised picture of fifteen women who spent time there is utterly compelling. These Bletchley Park veterans are from various backgrounds, they have widely different memories and experiences, however there is a vein of steadfastness and true spirit that weaves through and marks these women apart. The author introduces backgrounds, routes to, life at and perhaps with most impact, life after Bletchley Park. It does take a little time to get to know and differentiate between the fifteen women, as memories are mixed together on a time line rather than each individual story being highlighted. Even though this is a rational, practical trip down memory lane, from the tip of the Official Secrets Act, to the toe of the continuous repetition of most of their roles, you can not help but be thrilled by this glimpse into a truly fascinating world.

 

 

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Winner of the Costa Book of the Year 2014.

Winner of the Costa Biography Award 2014.

Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize 2014.

Owning and training a hawk has been a life-long dream for Helen Macdonald, she accomplishes her dream as she tries to deal with the anguish of her father’s death. She buys a Goshawk, Mabel and the monumental task of training of this wild bird begins. There are some heart in the mouth moments, sadness too not only in her own grief but the tortured soul of T H White, the author who inspired her with Goshawk, his own record of trying to train a Goshawk. A compelling story that follows Helen Macdonald from dark to light in her quest to let go and become as one with the hawk.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Mar282012

Books

We have an extensive range of titles covering a broad range of topics with reviews by staff and customers.

If you have a favourite or you’re passionate about a book then please write us a review.

 

We are currently loving –Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

The much-anticipated sequel to Mantel's Man Booker-winning novel “Wolf Hall”, this continues the life of Thomas Cromwell. As Henry VIII falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour at Wolf Hall, Cromwell sees what's at stake: not just the King's pleasure, but the safety of the nation. Explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history, the destruction of Anne Boleyn. “Wolf Hall” is the most successful Booker winner since records began, selling 300,000 copies in paperback in the UK alone, and  Mantel has revealed that there will be a 3rd book in the series.

Ignorance by Michele Roberts

Moving and involving ... The very richness of the novel's imagery emphasises the paltriness of its characters' threadbare experiences of life ... As every reader knows - or soon discovers - that deprivation need not circumscribe imagination The Times on Ignorance Wonderfully sensuous Easy Living One of Britain's best novelists Independent on Sunday Michele Roberts is one of those writers descended perhaps as much from Monet and Debussy as Virginia Woolf or Keats ... To read a book by her is to savour colour, sound, taste, texture and touch as never before The Times Her fictions are high-risk, unconventional ... The otherwise cautious reader is taken almost without realising it into dangerous and exhilarating territory Rachel Cusk Roberts seems a free spirit, a woman artist in the tradition, perhaps, of George Sand, for whom life itself has been a form of creative self-expression Guardian The novels she has produced ... are remarkable Sunday Times Beguiling, enthusiastic, charming and vivid Amanda Craig, Daily Telegraph Intelligent and passionate ... she transforms feminist cliché into something alive and moving TLS Roberts dazzles ... Her writing breaks new ground The Times.

The Twelve Caesars by Matthew Dennison

One of them was a military genius; one murdered his mother and fiddled while Rome burned; another earned the nickname 'sphincter artist'. Six of their number were assassinated, two committed suicide - and five of them were elevated to the status of gods. They have come down to posterity as the 'twelve Caesars' - Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. Under their rule, from 49 BC to AD 96, Rome was transformed from a republic to an empire, whose model of regal autocracy would survive in the West for more than a thousand years. Matthew Dennison offers a beautifully crafted sequence of colourful biographies of each emperor, triumphantly evoking the luxury, licence, brutality and sophistication of imperial Rome at its zenith. But as well as vividly recreating the lives, loves and vices of this motley group of despots, psychopaths and perverts, he paints a portrait of an erao of political and social revolution, of the bloody overthrow of a proud, 500-year-old political system and its replacement by a dictatorship which, against all the odds, succeeded more convincingly than oligarchic democracy in governing a vast international landmass.

The Rolling Stones by Christopher Sandford

 In 1962 Mick Jagger was a bright, well-scrubbed boy (planning a career in the civil service), while Keith Richards was learning how to smoke and to swivel a six-shooter. Add the mercurial Brian Jones (who'd been effectively run out of Cheltenham for theft, multiple impregnations and playing blues guitar) and the wryly opinionated Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, and the potential was obvious. During the 1960s and 70s the Rolling Stones were the polarising figures in Britain, admired in some quarters for their flamboyance, creativity and salacious lifestyles, and reviled elsewhere for the same reasons. Confidently expected never to reach 30 they are now approaching their seventies and, in 2012, will have been together for 50 years. In The Rolling Stones, Christopher Sandford tells the human drama at the centre of the Rolling Stones story. Sandford has carried out interviews with those close to the Stones, family members (including Mick's parents), the group's fans and contemporaries - even examined their previously unreleased FBI files. Like no other book before The Rolling Stones will make sense of the rich brew of clever invention and opportunism, of talent, good fortune, insecurity, self-destructiveness, and of drugs, sex and other excess, that made the Stones who they are.

Midnight In Peking by Paul French

 Who killed Pamela Werner? On a frozen night in January 1937, in the dying days of colonial Peking, a body was found under the haunted watchtower. It was Pamela Werner, the teenage daughter of the city's former British consul Edward Werner. Her heart had been removed. A horrified world followed the hunt for Pamela's killer, with a Chinese-British detective team pursuing suspects including a blood-soaked rickshaw puller, the Triads, and a lascivious grammar school headmaster.

Darwin's Ghosts by Rebecca Stott

Christmas, 1859. Just one month after the publication of On the Origin of Species, Darwin received a letter that deeply unsettled him. He had expected criticism. Letters were arriving every day like swarms, some expressing praise, most outrage and accusations of heresy. But the letter from the Reverend Powell was different. It accused Darwin of failing to acknowledge his predecessors, of having taken credit for a theory that had already been discovered by others, Baden Powell himself and Darwin's own grandfather among them. For all the excuses that leapt to mind - publication had been rushed; he hadn't been well - Darwin knew he had made a grave error in omitting to mention his intellectual forebears. Yet when he tried to trace these natural philosophers, he found that history had already forgotten them...In Darwin's Ghosts, historian and novelist Rebecca Stott rediscovers Aristotle walking the shores of Lesbos with his pupils and Leonardo da Vinci searching for fossils in the mine shafts of the Tuscan hills; Diderot, in Paris, under the surveillance of the secret police, exploring the origins of species, and the brilliant naturalists of the Jardin de Plantes first recognising proof of evolutionary change in the natural history collections stolen during the Napoleonic wars.

Castro's Secrets by Brian Latell

In CASTRO'S SECRETS, highly acclaimed author and intelligence expert Brian Latell offers a strikingly original view of Fidel Castro in his role as Cuba's supreme spymaster. Based on interviews with high level defectors from Cuba's powerful intelligence and security services, long-buried secrets of Fidel's nearly 50-year reign are exposed for the first time. They include numerous assassinations and attempted ones carried out on Castro's orders, some against foreign leaders. More than a dozen ranking Cuban secret agents embraced by the CIA and FBI speak in these pages; some have never told their stories on the record before. Latell also probes dispassionately into the CIA's most deplorable plots against Cuba - including previously obscure schemes to assassinate Castro - and presents shocking new conclusions about what Fidel actually knew of Lee Harvey Oswald.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads: Opens at Nightfall Closes at Dawn. As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears. Le Cirque des Reves The Circus of Dreams.

Amsterdam Stories by Nescio

“His utter simplicity goes hand-in-hand with a great command of humour, irony, matter-of-factness, understatement and sentiment (never sentimtality or self-pity) all of which miraculously balance each other out. . . . Nescio is essentially a lyricist, a poet writing in prose.” ­—Dutch Foundation for Literature.

 

 The Help by Kathryn Stockett

 Jackson, Mississippi 1962. A rash of racial tension is erupting all over the Deep South.    Bob Dylan has yet to pen “The Times, They Are A Changing” but three Jackson women aren’t about to wait for a rebellious folk singer to document a shift in opinions. They are set to alter forever the skittish climate of the town with some drastic consequences.

Two of these women, maids Aibileen and Minny, suffer humiliation and condescension daily from their aspirational employers, whose tightly scheduled households they are expected to maintain, whilst bearing the extra weight of the disgusting attitudes of those who pay their wages.

 Mae Mobley Leefolt. is the 17th white child Aibileen has raised, hopefully to love and respect all people regardless of skin colour, although long term, Aibileen knows that this cannot be the case. Mae’s mother Elizabeth has little time for her baby girl but plenty of energy to spare, badgering her husband into providing  a separate outside lavatory so that she and her bridge-playing guests won’t have to use the same bathroom as Aibileen.

Minny is the best cook in Jackson, and was looking after the ghastly social-climbing Hilly Holbrook’s mother but she lost her job apparently on account of her sassy mouth. It’s nothing new, she’s lost a whole raft of jobs that way. Still, she goes suspiciously quiet when anyone asks what it was she actually said to her employer this time. She finds herself hired, against all the odds by Hilly’s arch rival, the daydreaming and totally ignorant Celia Foote, whose poor white trash background preclude her from joining the bridge parties and committees she would love to be invited to. Lonely, uneducated and a complete write-off in the kitchen, Celia is also concealing a sad secret and finds herself relying on Minny for more than housekeeping.

Lastly, we introduce Miss Eugenia Phelan (Skeeter). College graduate, unmarried and once part of Hilly and Elizabeth’s  “Smart Set”, she is desperate to escape her frosty mother’s matchmaking attempts and become a writer. Interviewed by a hard-bitten editor who bluntly advises her to write passionately or not at all, Skeeter casts about for something controversial to get her teeth into.

Increasingly disturbed by her erstwhile friends' treatment of their domestic help, Skeeter interviews the maids, convinced that this is the article that needs to be written. Her brazen decision has serious consequences for all of them.

This is a truly astonishing read. Kathryn Stockett draws extensively from her own experiences growing up on a plantation in Jackson which gives this novel its genuine appeal.