Author Archives: thelastword1962

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy. (Watersones Book of the Year 2019)

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The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

 

Summary:

Enter the world of Charlie’s four unlikely friends, discover their story and their most important life lessons.

The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie’s first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too.

 My Review:

Sometimes when you write a review for a book that is just so special there literally are no words you can write because no matter what you write it would not do justice to the book or the author. The same can be said of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy (Ebury Press) The most beautiful book of the year.

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Our world is in a real mess right now and hope seems to be in short supply, many of us have been looking for something to cling to I guess call it a life raft for life itself and then comes along a book that is just so full of hope and is a real inspiration. It is a beacon for everything that is good in us and in our lives.

This is the story of Charlie’s four friends, it all started with a simple conversation with the horse confiding in the boy about the bravest thing he had ever said. ‘Help’ said the horse. Sometimes in life we all need to be brave and ask for help. It is not a weakness but it is a strength of character as well as brave.

The story is set in Springtime when the weather can be really strange a bit like life as we all know. The boy meets the mole. They set off on an adventure and soon meet the fox who is quiet for a reason that will become clear and then they meet the horse.

Throughout this beautiful story we meet ourselves in every character and there is nothing wrong with that. It is a book that will tug at your heartstrings and bring a few tears to your eyes and yet at the same time fill you full of hope. At times we are all fragile and doubt ourselves. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse will make your heart burst. We do sometimes forget the words love and also friendship then I recommend that you spend time with Charlie’s four remarkable friends and it is like a warm blanket on a cold winters night. I can feel my heart filling up as I write these words.

Voted as Waterstones Book of the Year for 2019 this will make the most beautiful Christmas gift for anyone of any age. Can I suggest that you go out and buy this book for yourself and one for anyone you know who is going through a difficult time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

128 Pages.

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy was published by Ebury Press and was published on 10th October 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

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Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

 

Summary:

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat . . . but 1.4 million NHS staff are heading off to work. In this perfect present for anyone who has ever set foot in a hospital, Adam Kay delves back into his diaries for a hilarious, horrifying and sometimes heartbreaking peek behind the blue curtain at Christmastime.

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a love letter to all those who spend their festive season on the front line, removing babies and baubles from the various places they get stuck, at the most wonderful time of the year.

My Review:

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay was huge success and is still selling very well. Adam returns with a festive book Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas (Picador). This is a book that will find its way into many a Christmas stocking this year and it is both hilarious and heart-breaking at the same time.

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There was many laughs in Adam Kay’s first book but may be because this is a look at the life on the NHS wards at Christmastime I actually found this to be more hilarious.

I mean what on earth are people doing at Christmas to land themselves in hospital I mean what are Candy Canes for exactly? To eat you cry, just try telling that to some out there. (I will leave this to your imagination). Adam really does know how to reach out to people and make them laugh and there are barrel loads of laughs throughout.

The NHS staff across the country all year deserve so much praise for being there at all hours of the day and night to look after us when we need their help. But so much more during the festive period when they sacrifice so much to care for those of us who need care and attention. I was one of those in my childhood that spent Christmas in hospital. I have never forgotten the nurses and doctors of that hospital. Being ill or having accidents does not stop just because it is Christmas.

There are so many hilarious stories that Adam shares from his diaries of his time in an NHS hospital during the festive period. But also at the same time there are some stories that will make you stop and think and are rather sad and poignant.

There is also the message about how dangerously underfunded the NHS has become to the point of the medical staff working long hours without a break or sleep. Our wonderful NHS needs all our support all year round it is not a political football to be played with at election time. It needs real-time investment and that includes in nurses and doctors.

If you do want a seriously good laugh after you have over eaten and drunk too much, then my prescription is Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay. I promise it is a far more entertaining than Christmas Day TV.

One last thought. If you have been treated in hospital this past year, why not send a card to the hospital or some chocolates to the doctors and nurses that treated you to give them some Christmas cheer on the big day.

160 Pages.

Twas The Nightshift before Christmas by Adam Kay is published by Picador and published on 17th October 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

Violet by SJI Holliday

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Violet by SJI Holliday

Summary:

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

 My Review:

The first things that strikes you is the cover. It really caught my attention. There is something about Orenda Books and not only their authors but the jacket cover designers. They really are outstanding.

I have to say that I loved The Lingering and before that The Deaths of December by SJI Holliday. They are worth checking out especially The Deaths of December as that is a Christmas crime novel worth reading. Now SJI Holliday returns with Violet a chilling novel perfect for this cold winter evenings.

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To say this is dark is an understatement, it really is a dark and twisting psychological thriller that will have you glued to the plot all the way through.

Violet has just broken up with her boyfriend Sam and now she meets Carrie and the two end up travelling the world together. Two strangers who happen to meet but this is not going to be any trip for either of them

They end up on the Trans – Siberian Express sharing a cabin. They soon start to get to know each other but this is about to be tested as dark secrets and tension start to emerge. There is something so gripping as a thriller set on a long train journey. It is all here. Shattered and broken characters and minds. The pace is as fast as the changing scenery from the cabin. What are the motives of the two women? Something tells me we are not being told the truth and you get the feeling of unease with these two characters and each has an agenda but what exactly is it? I felt quite uneasy with Violet. Something about her made the hair on the back of neck stand up. This is a captivating and also compelling thriller that I dare you to try and put down. One not to be missed. If you are planning a long train journey ahead of Christmas, then Violet by SJI Holliday is one book I would pack.

276 Pages.

 Thank you Karen (Orenda Books) and also to Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Violet by SJI Holliday.

Violet by SJI Holliday was published by Orenda Books and was published on 2019 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

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The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

Summary:

1921. The Great War is over and families are desperately trying to piece together the fragments of their broken lives. While many survivors have been reunited with their loved ones, Edie’s husband Francis has not come home. He was declared ‘missing, believed killed’ during the war, but when Edie receives a mysterious photograph in the post, taken by Francis, hope flares. And so she begins to search.

Francis’s brother, Harry, is also searching. Hired by grieving families to photograph gravesites, he has returned to the Western Front. As Harry travels through battle-scarred France, gathering news for British wives and mothers, he longs for Francis to be alive, so they can forgive each other for the last conversation they ever had. 

And as Harry and Edie’s paths converge, they begin to get closer to a startling truth.

An incredibly moving account of an often-forgotten moment in history, The Photographer of the Lost tells the story of the thousands of soldiers who were lost amid the chaos and ruins, and the even greater number of men and women desperate to find them again.

My Review:

We all know of the horrific stories of the battlefields of World War One but what of the those who were lost. The Photographer of the lost by Caroline Scott (Simon & Schuster) tells this part of the story. The war is over and now the search for the missing begins.

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It is impossible for me to sit here and try and imagine what life must have been like to be told that your loved one has been killed or missing and then to find out that his body has not been found. Caroline Scott has written a powerful and hugely emotive novel based on one families search for answers. This is an incredible debut novel that Caroline Scott has researched and poured her heart into.

Three years after the war ended so many families have been left broken by the loss of their loved ones but in this story it focuses on one of the missing. It is May 1921 and Edie is distraught still after losing Francis her husband who is missing presumed dead. Edie receives a letter in the post and a photo of her beloved husband. This completely throws Edie. But there is no news. Has he been found alive or has his body been located?

What Edie does next is to head to the battlefields of France to seek answers but when she arrives she realises that there are many who are searching for answers as to what happened to their loved ones. We also meet Harry who is the brother of Francis. Harry survived the war but the scars remain and now he wants answers to what happened to his brother and won’t rest until he does. But the scars of the war have been taking their toll on Harry.

Harry is not only searching for answers about his brother but has been tasked by so many families to seek answers to their own lost. Harry is the photographer of the lost by taking photographs of the last resting place for those who have been killed so that the families have some closure and can grieve and start the long of moving on with life even with the pain in their hearts.

The tone is sombre all throughout as you would come to expect from such a storyline. There is so much pain that pours from each page as you travel with Edie through France and to the grave sights and also with Harry tasked with finding those who were lost and to try and find his brother. The silence of France as it too grieves for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Caroline Scott has written a beautiful story of the lost and asks so many questions that the reader will ask of themselves. It is hard to imagine the pain and hardship of the families left without their loved ones as they begin the journey of looking for answers. I have been thinking a lot about this book since I have finished reading and the story of Edie, Harry and Francis has touched a part of me.

So many books have been written about WWI but this is the first novel focusing on the aftermath of the war and the search for answers. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, then I would look no further than The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott. Highly Recommended.

512 Pages.

Thank you Simon & Schuster for the review copy of The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott

The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott was published by Simon & Schuster and was published on 31st October 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

 

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

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Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

Summary:

Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

My Review:

Back in December 2018 I raved about Good Samaritans by Will Carver but now he has returned with the dark and sinister Nothing Important Happened Today (Orenda Books). It can at times easy to refer to a writer as a genius but what Will Carver has given us in nothing short of jaw dropping. A storyline that made me at times gasp for air and made me sit bolt upright even on my journey to the office.

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I have written this review not once or twice but this is now my third attempt at writing a review worthy of such an outstanding piece of work but here goes. The story really does not let up from page one until the very last so be warned you may want to lock the door and ignore your phone. This is one book you will need to read this Christmas. How would I describe Nothing Important Happened Today? One word. Sensational. This is not going to be your book that has Christmas written all over it but one that will grab hold of you and take you on a journey. Imagine you are one of nine people who wake up one morning and decide that today will be the day when they head to Chelsea Bridge and jump into the River Thames and for each of them this is where their lives end. But this is where the story begins.

I am not going to say this is an easy topic and some may find the content disturbing. What made all nine want to end their lives in what was a mass suicide. Who and what is behind what has just happened and are their other ‘chosen’ ones to end their lives. This is why I was left gasping for air. Carver has carefully sculptured a novel that takes hold of you and twists your mind and thoughts in a way like no other book I have read in a very long time.

There was one time when I was left with my head in my hands but I know I wanted to know what was going to happen. I wanted answers and wanted to know there and then.

Someone is behind the suicides and through this thriller you get to meet the individuals who are chosen to end their lives as the book moves back and forth through time. You the reader will become entangled with each of the characters involved and this left my head spinning. Mr Carver clearly did a lot of research when he decided to write this book and how he has pulled this one off. All I will say is be prepared. Your mouth will go dry and your palms will sweat even on a cold day. Will Carver you have pulled it off. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

276 Pages.

#NothingImportantHappenedToday

@Will_Carver    @OrendaBooks

Thank you to Karen at Orenda Books and Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

 Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver was published by Orenda Books and was published on 14th November 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

 

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Christmas Poetry pamphlets from Candlestick Press

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Ten Poems about Snow Selected and Introduced by Carole Bromley

 

Summary:

The appeal of snow must have something to do with childhood – the excitement of waking up to a white world and placing our wellies into cold crunchiness. As adults we still feel the magic of snow’s hushed calm, which for a few days can slow down our hectic lives.

This mini anthology takes us on an enchanted journey through worlds of snow until we arrive, of course, in Robert Frost’s mysterious snowy woods. You’ll also find poems published here for the first time – winners and runners-up in our snow poem competition. Each offers a delightfully unexpected response:

“And I stood at the window and held the cat warm and purring
Heart to heart with me as we watched the snow fall

 My Review:

My childhood memories of snow are some of the happiest. Crazy snowball fights and dashing out of bed at the sight of morning snow to build a snowman. These memories we carry through our lives and we recall them when you need them most. Just reeased are two Christmas poetry pamphlets in time for the festive period that make the ideal christmas card.

Ten Poems about Snow selected and introduced by Carole Bromley we are seo reminded of those cold snowy winter days. From playing in the snow to those glitery winter snow globes. What is about waking to find snowfall and the world suddelny falls quiet. Is it me that just thinks that? Ten Poems that take us on a journey through the world of snow as seen and experienced through many eyes.

In Snow Day by Lucy Jeynes we are reminded that in one cubic foot of snow there are a billion snowflakes and each one unique. All is quiet and no sound of cars on the road. In When it Snowed by Kerry Darbishire there is Wordsworth skating in his black coat.

Each poem is a reminder of the beauty of snow and it changes the landscape. Don’t ask me to select a favourite as they are all just beautiful. This is just the perfect Christmas Card.

 

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Christmas Spirit – Ten Poems to Warm the Heart

 

Summary:

These ten specially commissioned poems celebrate the joy of Christmas in all its variety. Some evoke the bustle of untangling fairy lights, of shopping and cooking and opening presents, while others celebrate our more ancient seasonal traditions, such as collecting holly and ivy to bring into the house. And then, of course, there’s the mistletoe:

“I want to cry out, as Frigga did,
to the air and birds and new-found tenderness of
the world…
…Come, stand with me beneath these white berries of love.
Let me hold you, kiss you.

from ‘The Golden Bough’ by Rosie Jackson

The poems remind us that amid the inevitable hurly burly there’s always time to pause and savour quiet moments. This joyful and heart-warming selection is guaranteed to add a sprinkle of beauty and delight to every Christmas.

 My Review

What does Christmas mean to you? It means different things to everyone of course. In Christmas Spirit: Ten Poems to Warm the Heart the poems celebrate the pure joy of christmas period.

We all know how busy we are at this time of year trying to find the perfect gifts for family and friends, celebrations with family and friends and yet with the year now old we are really supposed to be slowing down to enjoy Christmas but here are ten poems to just make us stop and remember how chirstmas should be. I love bringing the outside in with Holly and Mistletoe to decorate the living room. Each poem has been specially commissioned for the pamphlet to help us just remember this special time of year and to make us pause amid the rushing around the shops and enjoy just some quiet moments and realise what christmas should be about. Think of it as a little christmas sprinkle in a card.

Thank you to Candlestick Press for the review copies of Ten Poems About Snow and also Christmas Spirit. Both Now available to order through their website: Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press are a small independent publisher based in Nottingham and were founded in 2008. The team consists of four dedicated people in Di Slaney (Publisher), Kathy Towers (Assistant Editor) and two admin assistants. Their aim is simple to spread the joy of poetry to adults and children alike who love poetry and or may be just beginning their journey in to enjoying poetry. These small pamphlets are just ideal for bedtime reading or like I have been doing and that is enjoying them on journeys.

They have published so many of these beautiful pamphlets on a wide range of topics from Christmas to Cricket, from Dogs to Sheep and even Clouds and walking and even breakfast. These wonderful poetry pamphlets make the ideal gift to send to friends and loved ones. For more information, please visit the Candlestick Press website: Candlestick Press

The Postcard Murder: A Judge’s Tale

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The Postcard Murder: A Judge’s Tales by Paul Worsley QC

Summary:

This is a vintage whodunit set in Edwardian London at a crossroads in time, as social revolution and psychiatry posed new questions for the Law and for the first time the Media were co-opted to run a killer to ground.

The year is 1907: 22-year-old Emily Dimmock lies murdered in her Camden Town flat, her head all but severed from her body. With not a thread or stain or fingerprint to point to the perpetrator, a young artist is manoeuvred into the shadow of the scaffold.

The tale is told verbatim by witnesses presided over by the author, who draws on his own experience as a Judge at the Old Bailey to get inside the mind of the outspoken but irresolute Mr Justice Grantham. The result is as compelling today as it is definitive of the era in which the murder was committed.

The book is illustrated with two maps and 27 photographs, 10 of which are in full colour.

 

Guest Post by Paul Worsley QC:

Having sat as a Judge at the Old Bailey for over ten years I am used to preparing written trial documents, ruling on submissions to admit or exclude evidence. Likewise the Summing Up to the jury requires  careful preparation. The jury needs to be told the Law – which they must accept from the Judge. But then a summary of the factual issues and a reminder of salient pieces of evidence in a coherent and  chronological manner is required. Thus as a Judge over the years I have gathered some experience of writing a document called ‘the Summing Up’ for the jury. Often they receive part of the summing up in written form to help them when they retire to consider their verdict.

As a Judge in retirement one is freed from the pressures that each case brings. But there is a sense of missing the courtroom, the ushers, clerks and colleagues, the taking of a verdict and then perhaps deciding upon the fate of a convicted killer. So it seemed to me to be a natural step in retirement to turn to writing about True Crime. It has long held a fascination and indeed it was probably those old cases where miscarriages of justice had occurred that enticed me into a murky world of motives and murders. Writing about a case, against the background of the law as the framework, seemed not unsurmountable. Then mastering the evidence and the rival arguments came next. It seemed natural to approach the case from the point of view of the Judge. Only when I started researching the case of Robert Wood did I realise that this was a novel approach not adopted before by other writers. By reading in the transcripts of the Judge’s rulings, observations and Summing Up it was not too difficult to get into the mind of an old-fashioned, blunt, reactionary Judge. Then using my experience of how witnesses give evidence, how the public gallery can react and how counsel go about their task made the story come alive. The Prosecution’s task is to seek to make a jury sure of guilt. The Defence seek to raise doubts. The case then unfolds  against the backdrop of the scaffold, whose shadow hung heavy over any trial for murder in the early 20th century.

To set about the task in earnest it was necessary to read round the case. Several books have been written about the trial or it has figured as a chapter in books about the Old Bailey or defence advocate Marshall Hall. Then to the National Archives at Kew to read the actual transcript of the evidence taken down as it was given in 1907. Then a decision as to how to present the evidence. Chronologically? Witness by witness? Subject by subject? Issue by issue? How to prune the days of evidence and speeches into something readable?

How to capture the sense of the moment and the atmosphere of the courtroom? I turned to the newspaper cuttings of the trial. Most helpful in this respect were the scrapbooks of cuttings which Marshall Hall KC kept of all his cases. There were reports from different daily newspapers of the same case and the same detailed proceedings. It must have been a monumental task to gather each daily paper and find the report on the case, then cut it out and place in a scrap book. It says perhaps something about the ego or even feeling of insecurity of the collector, wanting to see his name in newsprint and his successes emblazoned in the headlines.

Then how to approach the retelling of the tale? I decided to adopt an old device of narrating it to a  third party, in this case the Judge’s son who questions at different stages the old Judge’s preconceptions. How to make it a page turner by not simply accepting the verdict but coming up with a solution that fitted the evidence and showed that the jury got it wrong.

Then perhaps a Postscript to suggest how the case might have been tried in the 21st century with the powerful tools now at the disposal of investigators and lawyers. Would the verdict have been the same if Wood was tried today, with the evidential aids of CCTV and DNA to help the investigators? Finally letting the reader sit as a 13th juror and decide what the verdict would have been had they themselves tried the case of Robert Wood for the Postcard Murder.

Author Information:

Paul Worsley QC retired in 2017 as a Senior Circuit Judge at the Old Bailey and lives in North Yorkshire. His career, which spans over forty-five years in the Criminal Law, began in 1970 after reading Law at Oxford University. He first practised at the Bar from Chambers in Leeds, contesting many murder cases, often characterised by the rural area in which the crimes took place and the people who inhabit the vast wilderness of the North York Moors and Wolds to the south. In his first case in 1982, he secured the liberty of a farmer’s son who shot dead both his parents: they had treated him as a slave and made him sleep in the dog kennel. Six years later, he appeared for Yvonne Sleightholme, who famously went blind after being arrested for shooting dead her ‘love rival’ in a remote Yorkshire farmyard. Later, he successfully prosecuted ‘Wearside Jack’ (John Samuel Humble), who derailed the Yorkshire Ripper Investigation after sending hoax letters to the investigating officer (thence to the press), claiming to be the Ripper, In retirement, Paul is outspoken about the death penalty and trial without jury, and draws interesting parallels between the postcard murder case and today’s legal controversies. The 1907 case was the first in which the media was co-opted to run a killer to ground. Today, TV’s Crimewatch does that all the time to great effect. But there have been cases (Wearside Jack and the Cliff Richard ‘production’, for example) where collaboration between police and media did not serve justice so well. Then there is the question as to how far the law should reflect public opinion, as topical today. The influence of public opinion on Mr Justice Grantham in the postcard murder case had disastrous consequences, causing him to change his mind part way through his summing-up (an event without precedent). As a result, the jury discharged a guilty man. The case suggests that in every era public opinion has its blind spots and what we need is absolute judgement in Law. Is it not the job of judges to apply the Law and not decide what it should be? The author is a practised speaker and is available to roll out a series of talks at public forums, including law colleges and university faculties, and wherever his new book might take him.

Thank you Midas PR for the review copy of The Postcard Murder: A Judge’s Tale by Paul Worsley QC.

The Postcard Murder: A Judge’s Tale by Paul Worsley QC was published by Pilot Productions and was published on 14th November 2019 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith.

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100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith

Summary:

Arthur Smith’s first book for many years, 100 Things I Meant to Tell You brings together 100 stories, poems and articles gathered over a colourful lifetime making a living on the
comedy circuit.

In 2005 Arthur turned down a Perrier Award for Lifetime Achievement, saying “They wanted to tell me I was old and cool; well, I know that already.” Currently the popular host of BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Comedy Club, he has travelled all over the British Isles and the rest of the world perform-ing and reporting on a range of subjects as diverse as Flotsam and Jetsom in Holland (in a series for BBC 1’s The One Show) and more recently, goat yoga in Ipswich, but never before has he corralled all these wonderful stories into book form.

Some humorous, some anecdotal, some nostalgic and some extremely poignant, the stories include the time Arthur was arrested for ‘breach of the peace and possession of a megaphone’, the time he hitched a lift from a nun and heard his own voice (imitating Leonard Cohen) playing on her car radio, the fight he had with Billy Connolly, his flight in a Tiger Moth, and – in verse – his hatred of Teletubbies.

Covering a huge range of subjects and emotions, tales of hilarious, chaotic antics are juxtaposed with gentle, bittersweet stories about love affairs that ended badly and his mother’s journey into dementia, making this a cornucopia of delight for Arthur Smith fans everywhere.

My Review:

What can I say about Arthur Smith? He is one of my favourite comedians. Anyone who has seen and loved the BBC series Grumpy Old Men will know just how funny Arthur Smith really is. Now just released is 100 Things I Meant to Tell you. (AA Publishing).

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After studying at the University of East Anglia Arthur became a dustman and even starred in a rock band before eventually becoming a full-time entertainer and one of our best loved ones at that. Arthur Smith is a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival now for over 40 years. Not to mention that he has travelled the world performing he comedy act as well as performing in plays.

In 100 Things I Meant to Tell You the legend that is Arthur Smith brings us his own unique great humour and there are here many things that you will have never previously known of before that even I at times gasped at while reading. This can only be described as a rip-roaring memoir. But really I think it is more than just a memoir. A lesson in life perhaps from one of the great grumpy old men. His humour is my humour just plain dry.

This is Arthur’s life through his very own eyes. It is gags galore but there are also moments when he tells his story with great humility as he talks about his near death experiences.

With Christmas coming up it is just the perfect gift for anyone who is a fan of the great man and entertainer Arthur Smith.

288 Pages.

 Thank you Vanessa Oboagye (Midas PR) for the review copy of 100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith.

100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith was published by AA Publishing on 31st October 2019 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Ness by Robert Macfarlane & Stanley Donwood

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Ness by Robert Macfarlane & Stanley Donwood

 

Summary:

Somewhere on a salt-and-shingle island, inside a ruined concrete structure known as The Green Chapel, a figure called The Armourer is leading a ritual with terrible intent.

But something is coming to stop him.

Five more-than-human forms are traversing land, sea and time towards The Green Chapel, moving to the point where they will converge and become Ness. Ness has lichen skin and willow-bones. Ness is made of tidal drift, green moss and deep time. Ness has hagstones for eyes and speaks only in birds. And Ness has come to take this island back.

What happens when land comes to life? What would it take for land to need to come to life? Using word and image, Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood have together made a minor modern myth. Part-novella, part-prose-poem, part-mystery play, in Ness their skills combine to dazzling, troubling effect.

My Review:

A shingle spit of land off the Suffolk coast lies Orford Ness now it is reclaimed by nature but years before it played a part for nearly seventy years as scientists carried out secret military research covering from WWI to nuclear weapons. Ness (Hamish Hamilton) by Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood is more than just poetry and words it speaks from the shifting winds that change the landscape of Ness.

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There on this shingle land is a concrete building called The Green here there is a figure who is called the Armourer who is conducting a ritual and it is a ritual with terrible meaning soon there are forms that are more than just humans and their intent is to stop him from carrying out his intent.

It is a landscape for birds and this landscape is coming back to reclaim it back for nature. This is poetry, this is a novel, it is prose. You can judge how you wish to view this astonishing short book. Like Ness itself it is just magical and beautiful. Now it is quiet except for the sound of the wind and the sound of the birds that have reclaimed Orford Ness and the sound of shingle underfoot.

A Hagstone is when water and other elements pound the stone so that eventually a hole appears. It is folklore that says to view through a Hagstone is to look at the past, or the future. This is beautiful book of under 100 pages.

96 Pages.

Thank you to Hamish Hamilton for the review copy of Ness by Robert Macfarlane & Stanley Donwood.

Ness by Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood was published by Hamish Hamilton on 7th November 2019 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris

Cover

The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris

Summary:

Little Eepersip doesn’t want to live in a house with doors and windows and a roof, so she runs away to live in the wild – first in the Meadow, then by the Sea, and finally in the Mountain. Her heartbroken parents follow her at first, bringing her back home to ‘safety’ and locking her up in the stifling square of the house. But she slips away once more, following her wild heart out of the door and far away…

Barbara Newhall Follett was just thirteen years old when she published The House Without Windows in 1927. The book went on to become a million-copy bestseller. Years later, as an adult herself, Barbara followed in the footsteps of her radical heroine – dissatisfied with the limitations of life as a respectable married woman, she walked out of her house one day and simply disappeared.

Penguin are delighted to republish Barbara Newhall Follett’s extraordinary feminist fable for the next generation of nature lovers and escapees to discover and cherish. Newly introduced by Jackie Morris, and filled with her beautifully inked artwork, The House Without Windows is an irresistible paean to the natural world and its transcendent effect on the human heart.

My Review:

Barbara Newhall Follett was born in 1914 in New Hampshire and a name that may be not be familiar to many people but by the age of twelve she had written a book that was timeless. I knew of her lost classic The House Without Windows from my younger days but lost over time. But now thanks to the publisher Hamish Hamilton and artist and illustrator Jackie Morris The House Without Windows has been re-issued. I can tell that that the embossed cover is just simply gorgeous and inside Jackie Morris has added illustrations that bring Barbara Newhall Follett’s story alive.

Barbara Hewhall Follett

Barbara Newhall Follett

The story actually starts a few years before she reaches the age of twelve and Follett had written the story to give to her mother on her own birthday. But tragedy struck when the family were all asleep and fire ripped through the house. The family survived but they lost nearly everything and Follett’s story was lost in the fire.

jackie-morris-credit

Jackie Morris

So what does the young Follett do next? She spends the next few years recounting every moment of the story and re-writes it almost word for word. It is a remarkable testament to a determined young girl so driven to tell this story of Eepersip trying to escape into the wilderness that is The House Without Windows. Little Eepersip does not want to live in a world of made of bricks and glass she wants to live outdoors and so one day she flees the family home out to the meadow, the sea and where the mountains are. Eepersip is free to walk and feel the fresh air, to see where the wild animals, birds and butterflies live after all they are free. This beautiful story as seen through the eyes of a young child who had a troubled start in life. Follett managed to get her book published and a run of 2,500 copies were printed and all sold.

Suddenly Barbara Newhall Follett’s book became a bestseller and at the age of just twelve she hailed as a bright new star in the world of literature. From here you would think that life would be full of great adventures for Follett she travelled as a new writing star would do. Follett continued to write stories and then in 1934 she married.

On 7th December 1939 she left her apartment that they lived in and was never seen again. There have been over the many year’s various stories as to why she walked out of the apartment. Was it the rejections of her stories or life she living between the four walls and a longing to be free as little Eepersip was, to run to the sea and the mountains. We will never know the answer as to why she disappeared but what Follett left was a beautiful story of a young girl escaping into the wilderness to live in nature.

The House Without Windows cries out not only to be read but to be read outdoors it is beautifully written and just enchanting. Highly Recommended.

The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris has made the 2019 shortlist for the Waterstones book of the year.

Special copies of The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris are available through Number Seven Tales Art and Play Bookshop, Dulverton.

https://www.numbersevendulverton.co.uk/ Jackie Morris has signed copies of the books and there is a silver Snow Hare stamped in the book by Jackie. These are just beautiful collector’s edition copies available and are perfect for Christmas gifts. Telephone the shop for availability and postage. 01398 324457.

240 Pages.

My thanks to the publisher Hamish Hamilton for the review copy of The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris. Published on 3rd October 2019 and is available to through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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