Reviews

February bestsellers

1.

HowItWorksTheMum‘How it Works:’ The Mum – A Ladybird Book
In time for Mother’s Day, this new edition to the recently published Ladybird Books for Adults is just as laugh-out-loud hilarious as the others, and I’m sure will prove to be just as popular.
Penguin – £6.99

 

 

 

 

2.

TheTroubleWithGoatsAndSheepThe Trouble with Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
Joanna Cannon’s haunting and insightful debut is a story that could be found loitering in any neighbourhood or lurking behind any suburban doorway. In the sweltering summer of 1976 Mrs Creasy goes missing. Ten-year-old friends, Grace and Tilly are determined to find her. The neighbours, off guard due to the girls’ youth and the consuming heat of the summer, open their mouths and reveal secrets that they could never have expected.
The Borough Press – £12.99

 

 

 

3.

TinnersHareTinners Hare – Dan Lyons
Young hares, Luna and Gagarin, are waiting and waiting for the special harvest moon when hares perform their magical, but often dangerous, dance. Humans, many years ago, noted the importance of this mystical dance by creating special carvings on their buildings. Will the special moon ever arrive and will Luna and Gagarin be brave enough to take part? This is an especially charming and exquisitely illustrated book for children.
Mabecron – £11.99

 

 

 

4.

AGodInRuinsA God in Ruins – Kate Atkinson
‘A God in Ruins’ is the well-deserved winner of the Costa Novel Award 2015 and has been hailed as Kate Aktinson’s finest work to date. Moving and witty, ‘A God in Ruins’ focuses on Teddy – a gentle and kind man trying to make sense of war and his participation in it. Moving skilfully back and forth in time, the novel reveals glimpses of its central characters but at same time holds back vital information to retain a sense of mystery, culminating in an ending that will send shivers down your spine.
Black Swan – £7.99

 

 

 

5.

TheRomanovsThe Romanovs 1613-1918 – Simon Sebag Montefiore
‘The Romanovs’ is a sweeping and sumptuous history of the exceedingly successful Russian Dynasty. Montefiore does not hold back, giving a thoroughly detailed and sometimes gory account of the sexual exploits, power and brutality of tsars and tsarinas during their 300-year reign.
Weidenfeld & Nicolson – £25

 

 

 

 

6.

AllTheLightWeCannotSeeAll the Light we Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2015, ‘All the Light we Cannot See’ is a masterful page turner set in Germany and France during the Nazi occupation. The story unfolds through the lives of two exceptional children on opposite sides of the war, a blind French girl, Marie-Laure, and an orphaned German Boy, Werner. Anthony Doerr guides the reader smoothly back and forth through time and place, revealing segments of the characters’ lives. Marie-Laure was not born blind but she is losing her sight rapidly. Werner is naturally very skilled at fixing things and is reluctantly drawn into the Nazi party. How will their paths meet and what will be the outcome?
4th Estate – £8.99

 

 

7.

TheWidowThe Widow – Fiona Barton
Another stunning debut, ‘The Widow’ is a gripping psychological thriller focusing on the disappearance of a young girl and an outwardly normal and ordinary marriage. The chilling story is told from three perspectives: the widow of a man accused of kidnap and murder, a journalist trying to get the story and a detective trying to get his man. Fiona Barton’s background as an award-winning journalist gives ‘The Widow’ a disturbingly realistic feeling.
Bantam Press – £12.99

 

 

 

 

8.

TheBuriedGiantThe Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro
The seventh novel from the Man Booker Prize winner is set within a fantastical and other-worldly realm. The label of fantasy may put off some purists but, like Ishiguro’s previous works, ‘The Buried Giant’ defies simple categorisation. The boom begins with Axl and Beatrice as they embark on a search for their lost son across a mythical old English landscape. ‘The Buried Giant’ is hugely original, delightfully strange and absolutely unforgettable.
Faber & Faber – £8.99

 

 

 

9.

James Rabbit and the GiggleberriesThe Wild West Country Tale of James Rabbit and the Giggleberries – Babette Cole
James Rabbit works for some weasely weasels that don’t pay him enough to feed his little bunnies. His fed-up wife, Pearl, decides to get a job working for Lord and Lady Brockenhurst to help pay the bills. Once there she discovers an abandoned greenhouse, perfect for planting carrots to feed their hungry bunnies. James buys some carrot seeds – or at least he thinks he has – and what grows is a wonderful and giggly surprise that changes everything for James’ family. A joyful children’s story divinely illustrated by Babette Cole.
Mabecron – £11.99

 

 

 

10.

AnEagleInTheSnowAn Eagle in the Snow – Michael Morpurgo
Michael Morpurgo, former Children’s Laureate, has created another wonderful book for children based on an almost unbelievable true story in 1940. After his house had been bombed during the Blitz in Coventry, Barney is traveling on a train with his mother to visit his aunt in Cornwall. The train comes under attack and is forced to wait in a tunnel. As they wait, a stranger begins to tell Barney a true story about a World War I soldier by the name of Billy Byron. Billy did not realise it at the time but he could have prevented World War II had he not done what he thought was right.
Harper Collins – £12.99

 

 

 

 

August/September bestsellers

1.

CapturedCaptured! The Incredible True Story of Thomas Pellow – Craig Green
This true story is indeed incredible and I challenge anyone to keep a dry eye when reading it. Young Thomas Pellow is captured by pirates, taken to Morocco and enslaved. Forced to work and treated badly, is there any hope for Thomas? Will he ever return to Cornwall and see his family again? Accompanied by Oliver Hurst’s immensely beautiful and emotive illustrations, ‘Captured!’ is a moving, swashbuckling tale that children will love.
Mabecron – £13.99

 

 

 

 

2.

RickSteinRick Stein: From Venice to Istanbul – Rick Stein
Accompanying his BBC series, this new book from Rick Stein is, as always, more than just a cook book. You can feel the Greek sunshine and smell the rich Turkish spices. Full of beautiful photographs and bursting with new recipes, you can create the Eastern Mediterranean in your kitchen. Hopefully the weather will match!
Ebury – £25

 

 

 

 

3.

HeadofStateHead of State – Andrew Marr
Andrew Marr’s ambitious debut novel is packed with political intrigue and conspiracy. What goes on behind the doors of Number 10? Putting his inside knowledge to good use, Andrew Marr allows us to take a black-humoured peak. When two corpses are discovered, one an investigative journalist, the resulting investigation leads to a shocking discovery at the heart of government.
Fourth Estate – £8.99

 

 

 

 

4.

TheMartianThe Martian – Andy Weir
The book behind the soon-to-be released movie. Software engineer Andy Weir’s meticulously researched ‘lost in space’ novel will please the most critical of science geeks. It even has the seal of approval from NASA. Astronaut, Mark Watney, is presumed dead and left stranded on Mars after his fellow crew members leave. Can he survive?
Del Ray – £7.99

 

 

 

5.

GoSetAWatchmanGo Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
The most hotly anticipated novel of the year so far. Harper Lee’s so-called sequel to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ has evoked equal measures of controversy, excitement and even disappointment. The story follows Jean Louise Finch, daughter of Atticus Finch, after she travels from New York to Maycombe, Alabama to reconnect with her family and past friends. She is horrified at what she discovers.
William Heineman – £18.99

 

 

 

 

6.

ListentotheMoonListen to the Moon – Michael Morpurgo
‘Listen to the Moon’ is the latest novel by the former Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo and focuses on the First World War, when in 1915 Alfie and his fisherman father find a lost and injured girl on an uninhabited island in the Scillies. Unable to speak except for one word, “Lucy”, where has she come from? Who is she? Is she a mermaid or even a German spy? As the war continues both Lucy and Alfie come under threat. ‘Listen to the Moon’ is another wonderfully written story from one Britain’s best loved children’s authors.
Harper Collins – £6.99

 

 

 

7.

TheTamingoftheQueenThe Taming of the Queen – Philippa Gregory
‘The Taming of the Queen’ is historian, Philippa Gregory’s latest novel and focuses again on the Plantagenet period. This time the action is centred on the independent and exceptionally intelligent Kateryn Parr, and the marriage between her and Henry VIII. When Kateryn is commanded to marry the King she is understandably concerned about her future. A deeply devout Protestant woman, she faces the wrath of the court and potentially her husband the King.
Simon and Schuster – £20

 

 

 

8.

TheLoveSongofMissQueenieHennessyThe Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy – Rachel Joyce
A sequel to the great ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’. This time we are treated to the other side of Harold’s story as we wait with Queenie Hennessy in hospital for his arrival. Queenie’s character and the previously untold and sometimes shocking history between the two are unfolded in this emotional but uplifting story.
Black Swan – £7.99

 

 

 

 

9.

TinnersHareTinners Hare – Dan Lyons
Young hares, Luna and Gagarin, are waiting and waiting for the special harvest moon when hares perform their magical, but often dangerous, dance. Humans, many years ago, noted the importance of this mystical dance by creating special carvings on their buildings. Will the special moon ever arrive and will Luna and Gagarin be brave enough to take part? This is an especially charming and exquisitely illustrated book for children.
Mabecron – £11.99

 

 

 

10.

TheSeahorseThe Seahorse: The Restaurant and its Recipes – Mitch Tonks and Matt Prowse
The Seahorse, founded by Mitch Tonks and Matt Prowse, is Dartmouth’s flagship, award-winning restaurant. This lavish book contains many of their charcoal-fire cooked fishy specialities. The deceptive simplicity of the cooking and recipes means that perhaps we might all be able to recreate the dishes at home.
Bloomsbury – £25

 

 

 

 

 

May’s Top Ten Books

1.

Tinners HareTinners Hare – Dan Lyons
Young hares, Luna and Gagarin, are waiting and waiting for the special harvest moon when hares perform their magical, but often dangerous, dance. Humans, many years ago, noted the importance of this mystical dance by creating special carvings on their buildings. Will the special moon ever arrive and will Luna and Gagarin be brave enough to take part? This is an especially charming and exquisitely illustrated book for children.
Mabecron – £11.99

 

 

2.

The Kid on Slapton BeachThe Kid on Slapton Beach – Felicity Fair Thompson
Through the eyes of eleven-year-old Harry, whose father is missing in Europe, we experience an evocative and powerful story based on the evacuation of Slapton in April 1944. Harry and his family have to make way for the American soldiers and their practising for the D-Day landings, which ended tragically for so many of them. This is a story of the realities of wartime and Harry’s bravery to overcome the circumstances in which he finds himself, while trying to recover memories of his father.
Wight Diamond Press – £8.99

 

 

3.

The Shepherd's LifeThe Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District – James Rebanks
James Rebanks’ Twitter account, Herdwick Shepherd, has more than 60,000 followers. A testament to the ubiquitous modern yearning to leave it all behind and return to a simpler, albeit tougher, life on the land. ‘The Shepherd’s Life’ is part memoir, part request for recognition and part practical guide to life and farming in the breathtakingly beautiful but often harsh and isolating environment of the Lake District.
Allen Lane – £16.99

 

 

4.

Millie Marotta's Animal KingdomMillie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom – A Colouring Book Adventure – Millie Marotta
Animal Kingdom is an exquisite example of the adult colouring revolution, designed to relieve stress and focus our minds. From elephants to snails, intricate and incredibly beautiful black and white animal illustrations are on every page waiting to be brought to life.
Batsford – £9.99

 

 

5.

MeadowlandMeadowland: The Private Life of an English Field – John Lewis-Stempel
Meadowland was recently announced as the well-deserved winner of the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature and Travel Writing 2015. It charts a year in the life of a meadow, following the passing seasons and wonderfully documenting the changes and the familiar characters that appear. Written with intricate detail, Lewis-Stemple’s prose fires a fascination in the reader with the seemingly insignificant, and will make you never look at a meadow in the same way again.
Doubleday – £8.99

 

 

6.

The Darkest HourThe Darkest Hour – Barbara Erskine
Lucy, an art historian, is struggling in the aftermath of the recent death of her husband when she receives a grant to study the life and works of little-known Second World War artist, Evie Lucas. Filled with grief, Lucy strives to uncover the truth about Evie, a journey which brings to life the summer of 1940 and Evie’s love affair with Airman Tony. A poignant and haunting story that twists and turns until the end.
Harper Collins – £7.99

 

 

7.

Deliciously EllaDeliciously Ella: Awesome Ingredients, Incredible Food That You and Your Body Will Love – Ella Woodward
Ella Woodward was diagnosed with the rare and debilitating disorder, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, in 2011. After trying many things she decided to change radically to a wholefoods, plant-based diet eliminating such things as meat, dairy, sugar and gluten – a difficult transition for a self-confessed ‘sugar monster’. Her subsequent blog about the life-changing effects of the diet have led to the creation of this cookbook. It is full of more than 100 sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free recipes that are anything but boring.
Yellow Kite – £20

 

 

8.

Spotting and Jotting GuideSpotting and Jotting Guide: Our British Birds – Matt Sewell
Matt Sewell’s has become a much-loved ornithological artist. His previous guides ‘Our Gardens Birds’, ‘Our Woodland Birds, ‘Our Songbirds’ and ‘Owls: Our Most Enchanting Bird’ are full of quirky, delightful illustrations. This pocket-sized jotting guide is a perfect companion to a walk in the British countryside, to reach for whenever a new bird catches your eye.
Ebury – £6.99

 

 

 

9.

James Rabbit and the GiggleberriesThe Wild West Country Tale of James Rabbit and the Giggleberries – Babette Cole
James Rabbit works for some weasely weasels that don’t pay him enough to feed his little bunnies. His fed-up wife, Pearl, decides to get a job working for Lord and Lady Brockenhurst to help pay the bills. Once there she discovers an abandoned greenhouse, perfect for planting carrots to feed their hungry bunnies. James buys some carrot seeds – or at least he thinks he has – and what grows is a wonderful and giggly surprise that changes everything for James’ family. A joyful children’s story divinely illustrated by Babette Cole.
Mabecron – £11.99

 

10.

The Children Act – Ian McEwan
The Children ActIan McEwan’s timely novel, ‘The Children Act’, examines the British judicial system. The story focuses on High Court judge Fiona Maye who precedes over family court cases. She is publicly successful but her home life is in crisis. Handed a life or death case, Fiona must decide the fate of a seventeen-year-old boy, the son of Jehova’s Witnesses who are refusing him a lifesaving blood transfusion. The subsequent relationship between Fiona and the boy becomes the focus of this complex, emotional work.
Vintage – £7.99