Category Archives: Transworld Publishers
The Wood – The Life & Times of Cockshutt Wood
by John Lewis-Stempel
The standard of nature writing over recent years has just got better and better, we are so fortunate to have so many great nature writers in the UK and twice winner of the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing. (2015 & 2017) John Lewis-Stempel returns with his best book to date. The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood is an intimate account of John’s last year managing this three and half acres of mixed woodland in Herefordshire.
Lewis-Stempel’s latest has been written in a diary format and takes us through the four season and the changing face of Cockshutt Wood, the flora and fauna of this working wood comes to life through the poetic words of a nature writer at his very best. We meet the Tawny Owl who is affectionately known as ‘Old Brown’ the various animals from pigs to sheep who mad the wood their home to keep the dreaded bramble at bay.
The book starts in December when the days are at their shortest but even now when the trees are dormant there is still life in John’s working wood. The sheer beauty of this book is how John brings the history, poetry and even recipes (some of which I will be trying through the course of the year) There are recipes ranging from Acorn Coffee, Chestnut Soup and Elderflower Champagne.
John comes from a farming family that dates back to the 13th Century and is ideally placed to write about countryside as he sees it, his passion for everything in the countryside and its history and future. As the season moves from Winter to Spring, Cockshutt Wood wakens from its deep winter sleep, animals and amphibians that have slept through the cold and dark winter months now feel the warmth of Spring and waken from their slumber. The mixed woodland now starts to come to life, the sap is rising with the temperature.
The poetry is just wonderful and carefully selected and really works to bring the wood alive. The sights and sounds and even the smell of the wood just seep from every page not to mention the recipes. John ends his tenure managing the wood in the month of November with the words “I though the trees belonged to me, but I now realise I belonged to them” As he left the wood there is a sense of pain at leaving the wood and its inhabitants behind. The writer at one with the countryside and a book that deserves the plaudits. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The Wood – The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood by John Lewis-Stempel is published by Doubleday and was published on 8th March 2018 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
Never Greener by Ruth Jones
Many will have come to love Ruth Jones for her role as Nessa Jenkins in the hit TV comedy Gavin and Stacey and also her other roles she has become so well known for as well as a script writer, but now we can add author the list. Released on 5th April is Ruth Jones’s debut novel Never Greener (Bantam Press).
I must be one of the luckiest people around who gets the chance to read books before they hit the shops and every now and then a book comes along that just knocks me over. Never Greener is one of those books it is big and oh so wise. A book telling the story of second chances and also at times funny. Ruth Jones is not just a great actress she is also a terrific writer.
The characters are so real that you just do not want to let them leave your life. We meet Kate and Callum who had a passionate affair, Kate was young in her early twenties and Callum old and married, he should have known better, was he looking for some excitement in his ‘mid-life’ what was Kate really hoping for? Sadly, for Kate it ended and left her bereft and heartbroken. Callum carried on with his life his secret hidden.
Fast forward seventeen years and life is about to get very complicated. Kate is now doing very well for herself, a successful actress in her own right. Well known wherever she goes. Callum is still married and has a family and happy in Edinburgh. Secrets buried in the past never to be spoken of.
Kate and Callum now meet again Kate the successful actress is invited back to her old school and this is where Callum is a teacher, and so it begins again their passionate affair, this is more than just a spark. It is an inferno that could consume all and everything. No spoilers from me as to what happens to Kate and Callum. Go and buy the book and see for yourself what happens next.
Superbly written with great characters. They be floored characters but I just loved reading about them, affairs generally always tend to end in disaster with a trail of destructing left in its wake. But let’s not detract from a fantastic debut novel that many will love. There are funny moments and moments that will leave you wincing and just wondering what that hell next. There is so much packed into over 400 pages. Every emotion possible pours out of the pages. A brilliant novel.
Ruth Jones is going on a book tour to go alongside the launch of Never Greener. If you are close by to any of these locations this will be an event not to be missed. #NeverGreener
Thank you Alison Barrow for the advanced review copy of Never Greener by Ruth Jones.
Never Greener by is published by Ruth Jones and is published on 5th April and will be available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The 2018 Quick Reads Launch by The Reading Agency
Thursday 1st February 2018.
It is a great honour to have been asked by Annabelle Wright to be a part of the promotion to launch the 2018 Quick Reads by The Reading Agency with the Official Launch Day being today 1st February.
Reading has been my life and at one point even saved my own life when I hit the lowest point of my life some years ago. Evidence shows that reading is a vital part of our mental and physical wellbeing. Reading can take us to many places and even walk in other people’s shoes.
In recent years I have made a point of handing out books to homeless people who sadly do not get access to books. Also handing out books to patients in hospitals and also to those living in sheltered accommodation. In recent years it has been a real privilege to go into some schools to help some children with reading difficulties.
With the ever present threat to our much loved local libraries, reading and access to books is now more important than ever before. By sharing my passion and also my love of books and reading can help spread the word of just how important reading is in today’s world.
You can follow Quick Reads on Twitter using the Hashtag #QuickReads
The Six Titles that make up the 2018 Quick Reads by The Reading Agency released today. Each copy will cost £1.00 and will consist of around 100 pages.
Cut Off by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown): A punchy, taut urban thriller about that moment we all fear: losing our phone! For Louise, losing hers in a local café takes a sinister turn. Billingham has sold five million copies of his novels and has twice won the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Award for Crime Novel of the Year.
The Great Cornish Getaway by Fern Britton (HarperCollins): As the sun sits high in the sky over Cornwall, and the sea breeze brings a welcome relief to the residents of the seaside village of Trevay, a stranger arrives in need of a safe haven. The former presenter of This Morning, Britton is now a Sunday Times bestselling author and this story is full of her usual warmth and wit.
Clean Break by Tammy Cohen (Transworld): A dark and twisty portrait of a marriage coming to its bitter end, from the mistress of domestic noir. Can Kate rid herself of her jealous husband before it’s too late? Cohen’s acclaimed novels include The Mistress’s Revenge, The War of the Wives and Someone Else’s Wedding.
Inspector Chopra and the Million-Dollar Motor Car by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton): An enchanting Baby Ganesh Agency novella from the bestselling Khan set in the bustling back-streets of Mumbai. Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick have two days to solve the mystery of a missing – and very costly – car for its gangster owner, or there’ll be a heavy price to pay.
The Beach Wedding by Dorothy Koomson (Arrow): A gripping short read featuring a wedding, family drama, and old secrets. Tessa is thrilled when her daughter arrives in Ghana to get married but memories of the last time she was there haunt her; can she lay the ghosts of the past to rest or will they come back to haunt her daughter’s future? Koomson is the bestselling author of 12 novels including The Ice-Cream Girls, My Best Friends’ Girl and most recently The Friend.
Six Foot Six by Kit de Waal (Viking): A charming novella from Costa First Novel Award shortlisted author de Waal about finding friendship in the most unlikely of places. Everything changes for Timothy, a 21-year-old with learning difficulties, when local builder Charlie calls on him for help. De Waal worked in criminal and family law and was a magistrate for many years before her international bestseller, My Name is Leon, was published.
Free to enter Prize Draw.
I am delighted to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a copy of Cut Off by Mark Billingham and also Six Foot Six by Kit De Waal just head to my Twitter page at @thelastword1962 and Follow and also RT the prize draw message to stand a chance of winning both copies. Very sorry but this is a UK prize draw only. Draw will close at 7pm Friday 2nd February. Prize will be sent via Sent via Annabelle Wright at ed Public Relations.
Cut Off is by the number one bestselling crime writer Mark Billingham
It’s the moment we all fear: losing our phone. Leaving us cut off from family and friends. But for Louise, losing hers in a local café takes her somewhere much darker.
After many hours of panic, Louise is relieved when someone gets in touch offering to return the phone. From then on she is impatient to get back to normal life.
But when they meet on the beach, Louise realises you should be careful what you wish for….
Six Foot Six by award winning author Kit De Waal and author of My Name is Leon
It’s an exciting day for Timothy Flowers. It’s the third of November, and its Friday. And it’s his twenty-first birthday. When Timothy walks to his usual street corner to see his favourite special bus, he meets Charlie. Charlie is a builder who is desperate for Timothy’s help because Timothy is very tall, six foot six inches. Timothy has never had a job before – or no work that he’s kept for more than a day. But when Timothy and Charlie have to collect money from a local thug, things don’t exactly go according to plan….
Over the course of one day, Timothy’s life will change forever.
My thanks to Annabelle Wright for the invitation to help with the launch of the 2018 Quick Reads titles through The Reading Agency.
The 2018 Quick Reads titles are launched by The Reading Agency and are published on 1st February 2018 and are available to through W.H. Smith and many local book shops.
As we come to the end of July a real sense of excitement for me as one of my favourite book prizes of the year announcements is just a few days away. The Wainwright Book Prize 2017 in association with The National Trust is an award that celebrates the very best in writing about Nature and the great outdoors. One of my boyhood heroes was Alfred Wainwright and I have spent many hours just reading those wonderful iconic Pictorial Guides to the fells of the Lake District. It is no secret that one of my favourite genres in books is nature and the outdoors and my bookshelves are filled to capacity with some of the great books on these subjects. There is nothing better than being out in wilderness whether that is just being at one with nature or just admiring the stunning beautiful wild places that we have in our countryside from the mountains and islands of Scotland to the fells of the Lakes and the valleys of Wales and not forgetting our hardworking farmers. These are places to rejoice and to treasure now but above all for future generations. We are the caretakers and must preserve for our children and theirs to come.
I was honoured to have been given the opportunity to read all the books that make up The Wainwright Book Prize shortlist for 2017. I am still reading through the books and my personal reviews will appear soon. On the 27th June the shortlist was announced and on Thursday 3rd August direct from the BBC Countryfile live show the judges will announce this year’s winners. You can of course read more about the award and the judges chaired by TV’s Julia Bradbury on the website The Wainwright Prize Ahead of the announcement I thought I would give you just give a little introduction into the seven books that make up the shortlist.
The Wainwright Book Prize Shortlist 2017:
The January Man (A Year of Walking Britain) by Christopher Somerville (Doubleday)
The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel (Doubleday)
Love of Country (A Hebridean Journey) by Madeleine Bunting (Granta)
The Otters’ Tale by Simon Cooper (William Collins)
Wild Kingdom by Stephen Moss (Vintage)
The Wild Other by Clover Stroud (Hodder & Stoughton)
Where Poppies Blow by John Lewis-Stempel (W&N)
Previous Winners of The Wainwright Book Prize.
2016: The Outrun by Amy Liptrot (Canongate Books)
2015: Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel (Transworld Publishers)
2014: The Green Road into Trees: A Walk Through England by Hugh Thompson (Windmill/Random House)
The 2017 Shortlisted Books
The January Man – A Year Walking of Britain by Christopher Somerville
This is the story of a year of walking around Britain and was in fact inspired by the song of the same name by Dave Goulder. The author sets off on a journey of discovery with memories of his late father walks that would cover all four seasons from all four corners of Britain from the Scottish isles to forests and vales. This in itself is a hope that readers will don their walking boots and grab their walking poles and explore the length and breadth of our country and the rich natural history and landscapes regardless of the vagaries of the British weather.
Rich not only in its descriptions but the exquisite writing of Christopher Somerville who has written thirty-six books.
The Otter’s Tale by Simon Cooper
For those like me who remember reading Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson then The Otter’s Tale by Simon Cooper will also surely appeal. Simon bought what was an abandoned water mill in Southern England and then go on to share his home and his life with a family of wild Otters.
What this enabled Simon Cooper to achieve was to observe one of this country most secretive of mammals and he did so at very close quarters. The family allowed the author to become a member of their own family and in turn this gives the reader a personal and unique insight into the lives of the Otters in what turned out to be an extraordinary relationship of trust between Otter and man the close relationship between Simon and the female Otter called Kuschta is incredibly close and personal.
Within this story Simon Cooper also discusses the natural history of Otters here in the UK and a mammal that was once so persecuted that it was very close to being extinct in this country. A year in the life of not only Simon Cooper but also a beautiful insight to a family of Otters that shared the life of the author.
Love of Country – A Hebridean Journey by Madeleine Bunting
Some of my happiest of memories are those when I have been walking on some of the islands of the Western Coast of Scotland. Just mention the names of some of the islands like Jura, St. Kilda, Lewis, Harris, Sky, Rum and so many more. Each rich in their own history and also natural history. Here Madeleine Bunting a former Guardian journalist takes us on a journey that took six years to complete. Each time she would return there was more history and culture to uncover more islands to explore. The history of these islands shapes our countries history even today. The author not only explores but also asks questions. This is a wonderful travel companion if you are heading to one of the islands for a holiday. Read before you go and read while you are there as there is so much to read and learn. A wonderful book.
The Running Hare by John Lewis-Stempel
A former winner of the Wainwright Book Prize this year has two books on the Shortlist, the first titled The Running Hare looks at life on a farmland, the wild animals and plants that life on it and in it. This is an extraordinary piece of writing and you can see why this writer is so acclaimed. With so many species lost, this is a farmer who took a field and farmed it in a traditional way to conserve the wildlife that inhabit our fields. He talks about the birds that feed off the land and microbes that live in the land each having their own battle to survive modern practices. In fast paced modern world can farming go back to old practices to husband farmland thereby protecting the wildlife that also share the same farmland. A Place were the wild Hare can call home and live safely. Beautifully written and profound. A book that will stand the test of time and will be read by future generations to come. This is one of the great nature writers of our time.
The Wild Other by Clover Stroud
A deeply moving memoir from Clover Stroud about a life that was shaped by a tragic accident to her mother when Clover was only sixteen-years-old. Her mother was left with brain damage after a riding accident. Clover found herself from gypsy camps in Ireland to rodeos of Texas then to the far reaches of Russia before the White Horse vale of England brought her home to England. These journeys she took in the name of trying to understand a sense of home that was left shattered and broken. A remarkable and deeply honest account of loss and love. Nature has the power to heal the wounds that seem never to heal and here in The Wild Other Clover Stroud tells her personal story that is full of bravery and a life lived to the full. At times frank Clover reveals all in this haunting memoir that will both move and inspire the reader.
Wild Kingdom by Stephen Moss
Stephen Moss is the acclaimed naturalist, writer and TV producer. Here in Wild Kingdom Stephen Moss at times is frank about this countries disappearing wildlife and asks some important questions about the land we share with the animals the Britain. It is not all bad news, just look at how Otters are now doing. But many others are not faring so well and Moss poses the question how can we bring back Britain’s wildlife. With intensive farming practices and housing developments taking over and wildlife being squeezed out of their natural homes something has to give and the wildlife suffers as a consequence. There has to be room for both man and wildlife to life in harmony. Rewilding is a term we may yet start to hear more of in the years ahead. So many questions are posed here. Moss takes us on a journey from farmland to wetlands from one part of the country to another. He knows what he is talking about and there is so much to understand. Common sense is key. If we care about our wildlife we can make a difference. It is not all bad news there is much to praise but there is not resting on laurels as there is work to do. Generations to come will point to our generation if we do not. This is so well written by a man who is passionate about the future of our wildlife.
Where Poppies Blow by John Lewis-Stempel
Where Poppies Blow is the second book by John Lewis-Stempel in this year’s Shortlist along with his The Running Hare. We all know of the horrors of the Great War. But in this book the author takes the connection between the British soldiers fighting in the Great War and the animals and plants and the relationships between them.
For many soldiers living inside the land they were close to nature as you can possibly get, many soldiers sought solace in the birds and plants around them, at desperate times it provided both peace and solace in a place of sheer hell. Many soldiers indeed were birdwatchers and there are stories of officers and men fishing in flooded shell craters. Here you will read of soldiers planting flower beds in trenches, this sounds truly remarkable but John Lewis-Stempel has researched this book and brings to life the incredible stories of fighting men and nature and in the end the cure that only nature can bring in its purest form. There is a quote on the inside of the book that just sums up what the men went through. ‘If it weren’t for the birds, what a hell it would be’. A remarkable book that will take pride of place among the many natural history books in my book case.
I have been following The Wainwright Book Prize now for a number of years and I believe this has to be the strongest of the shortlists yet. The quality of the writing is just outstanding. I am not sure if it is just me but it just gets stronger and stronger every year. I really do not envy the judges in their decision, but every one of these seven books is a real candidate to win the prize. Could John Lewis-Stempel win the prize again? I just have a feeling The Running Hare is going to be the book to look out for on Thursday. I would love to hear your views on the shortlist and if you have a favourite to win. I will of course be following the prize announcement as and when it happens and will Tweet the winning book as soon as I know over on my Twitter page The Last Word 1962 I will be reviewing each of the books in the coming weeks.
Centaur by Declan Murphy & Ami Rao
The May bank holiday Monday of 1994 the world was still coming to terms that weekend of the deaths of racing drivers Roland Ratzenberger and the three times World Champion Ayrton Senna at the San Marino Grand Prix. At Haydock Park the celebrated jockey Declan Murphy was riding Arcot the favourite in the Swinton Hurdle as they approached the final hurdle they were lying third after coming through the field. Arcot misjudged the hurdle and they fell for Declan Murphy the world just seemed to disappear into a world of blackness then a following horse crashed into Murphy with one hoof colliding with his head causing 12 fractures in his skull. It was so severe that soon after Declan was given the last rites. He was not expected to survive such dreadful injuries.
The world of sport now held its breath, one of this countries’ top sportsmen was now in such a critical condition that the Racing Post ran his obituary. Despite he was facing having his life support switched off Murphy in a dark world was not giving up he was fighting and fighting hard. Now 23 years later Declan Murphy with Ami Rao tells his story in Centaur in what is one of the most incredible and brave memoirs that many will want to read and is surely in the running to win the William Hill Sports book of the year. This is a brave and open memoir of Murphy’s fightback from a man who looked death in face and lives to tell his story. Hidden within the pages of Centaur is a secret that at the time he kept from his loved ones and that for the celebrated Jockey is shattering. For coming back from the dead there was a price to be paid, as he fought to regain his health there were choices to be made some so painful that even this part of Declan’s journey brought a tear to my eyes. This brave man was going to overcome this crisis in his life he was mend his shattered injury and he was going to do this in the only way he could by shutting the world and those close to him away. This fight was personal and some may say selfish but I would like to call it brave.
Just eighteen months later Declan Murphy recovered to ride again in what some would call sheer madness after facing death. The date was Tuesday 10th October 1995 Murphy rode Jibereen at Chepstow to win. This was the comebacks of all comebacks. To have your obituary in the Racing Post then comeback not only to ride again but win. This long tunnel that Murphy was in finally was the end was reached but for this brave sportsman that had to be more to life that riding and for Declan Murphy after a spell in New York and now Barcelona he has found peace and personal happiness. An extraordinary memoir that is so beautifully written. Riding a horse there is symmetry between both the rider and horse in Centaur there is symmetry between both Declan Murphy and Ami Rao and the result is a book worthy of the highest plaudits. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Thank you to Alison Barrow for the advanced review copy of Centaur
Centaur by Declan Murphy and Ami Rao is published by Doubleday and is published on 27th April and available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.
The Summer of Secrets by Sarah Jasmon
Review Date: 22 August 2015
Author: Sarah Jasmon
Release Date: 13 August 2015
Publishers: Black Swan, Transworld Publishers
ISBN -10: 0552779970
ISBN – 13: 978-0552779975
Available in Paperback, Kindle and Audio
Authors Website: http://sarahjasmon.com/
The Last Word Review
A debut like none I have come across. This is to be cherished like a timeless classic because it will become just that
When a debut novel lands on my desk there is always a little apprehension as to what lies between the covers. When a debut novel lands on my desk that very quickly impresses me and then turns out to be something very special I sit up and take notice. The superlatives that I would use would be insufficient. This is something very unique and very special. Thank you to Ben Willis at Transworld Publishers for sending a review copy.
What are your memories of the summer of 1983. For me it was an exciting time I was lot younger for one thing and days where long and memories that will live long. Here we have in Sarah Jasmon’s The Summer of Secrets a story in two parts.
The story starts in the very summer of 1983 and is told by Helen reminiscing about her youth, then a sixteen year old girl whose controlling mother has left the family home and now Helen is cared for by her father who has become lost in his own world and drink. Helen was looking forward to spending another summer by the river while her father spent his time on his boat while neglecting his daughter. But something was about to change all that.
The Dover family arrived on the scene and moved in to a house close by. They have a daughter also in her teenage years and is somewhat carefree and this intrigues Helen and the pair strike up a friendship and while away the summer days together. Helen is beguiled by the Dover family and their lifestyle and tries to get closer to the family until Victoria decides she has got too close. Then something happens and the Dover family suddenly disappear with no warning. You sense something is about to happen it is building at every turn of the page there are undercurrents in the story line that you feel at some point that would really explode.
Using the premise of looking back at the summer of 1983 and then as the story is narrated 30 years later to 2013. Helen is now 46 and has not seen or heard of the Dover family since that summer all those years before a summer that has left a scar on Helen. This is a story that moves along at a pace that will make you think about the story when you are not reading it and you will want to catch up at every opportunity.
Now Helen discovers that Victoria is running an art exhibition close to where she lives, this is an opportunity to discover what really happened that fateful night and what made the Dover’s flee. Will Helen finally find out the truth finally?
The Summer of Secrets is a book that I truly loved it made me think when I was away from the story it is so beautifully written and Jasmon’s prose is something I will take from this coming of age story that will appeal too many it deserves to become a classic both in story and writing.
So for me the memories of the summer of 1983 are now back fresh in my mind, the soundtrack of my life sadly a time that now seems lost to the era in which we now live.
Meet the Author
Sarah Jasmon lives on a canal boat near Manchester with her children. She has had several short stories published, is curating a poetry anthology, and has recently graduated from the Creative Writing MA course at Manchester Metropolitan University. The Summer of Secrets is Sarah Jasmon’s first novel published by Black Swan. To find out more, visit http://sarahjasmon.com/