The Bookbag

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Hello from The Bookbag, a book review site, featuring books from all the many walks of literary life - fiction, biography, crime, cookery and anything else that takes our fancy. At Bookbag Towers the bookbag sits at the side of the desk. It's the bag we take to the library and the bookshop. Sometimes it holds the latest releases, but at other times there'll be old favourites, books for the children, books for the home. They're sometimes our own books or books from the local library. They're often books sent to us by publishers and we promise to tell you exactly what we think about them. You might not want to read through a full review, so we'll give you a quick review which summarises what we felt about the book and tells you whether or not we think you should buy or borrow it. There are also lots of author interviews, and all sorts of top tens - all of which you can find on our features page. If you're stuck for something to read, check out the recommendations page.

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A Fine and Private Place (Sandro Cellini) by Christobel Kent

3.5star.jpg Crime

Sandro Cellini isn't too impressed with life as a private investigator and it's a big change from being in the police force. Somehow trailing a schoolgirl on the orders of her father who thinks she's mixing with bad company wasn't quite how he'd seen his life working out. His wife, Luisa, is recovering from cancer, but it seems to have changed her attitude to life and when she announces that she's going to New York on a business trip with her boss Cellini worries that he's going to lose her. Then another case comes up and it's one which stirs some memories. Doctor Loni Meadows has been discovered dead after what seems like a tragic motor accident but her husband isn't convinced and he'd like Cellini to investigate. Full review...

Lizard Loopy by Ali Sparkes

4star.jpg Confident Readers

There has been a SWITCH. In the first season of these books, it was Josh and not Danny who preferred to turn into other animals, even though they were mostly creepy-crawlies and bugs. Josh likes that kind of animal, as much as all wildlife, and however many times they nearly got eaten, or ate something revolting themselves, or suffered loss of control of their brain, or did something slimey and disgusting, or even changed sex, Josh was more up for it. Here, however, Danny is more keen - now the science has evolved so they can become reptiles, he can't wait to be a cool-dude alligator Full review...

Partials by Dan Wells

5star.jpg Teens

Since the Break, no baby has lived longer than three days. Scientists have studied every baby to try and find a cure, but with no luck. The human race is on the verge of extinction after the Partials (genetically engineered soldiers who were made to fight for humans) turned on their makers and released the deadly virus that has wiped out most of the population. For those lucky to survive, they now spend their time trying to cure the virus that kills every baby. Full review...

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell

5star.jpg Teens

After being crowned Mistletoe Queen, Chloe Camden should be on top of the world, and more popular than ever. A jealous friend can't cope with her success, though, and trashes her reputation, leaving her a sudden social outcast. When her new guidance counselor tells her she needs to change her junior independent social project, Chloe is forced into a school radio station which is on its last legs, run by a bunch of losers who she'd never even have spoken to before. Taking a risk which could either kill or save the station, Chloe is thrust into a position as host of a new chat show. Will the risk pay off? Will Chloe find a new circle of friends? Full review...

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente

5star.jpg Confident Readers

September has grown tired of life in her parents’ boring Nebraska home. She is twelve years old, somewhat grown and somewhat heartless and she is dreaming of adventure. So when a friendly Green Wind and a flying Leopard of Little Breezes blow past one morning, inviting her to Fairyland, of course she accepts. Upon arriving, September finds that Fairyland is under the iron rule of the cruel and relentless Marquess. But September is bright and bold and fearless; and she has certainly read enough books to know what a girl on a quest must do. September must fix things, and put everything back the way it should be. September makes her way across the strange and wonderful (and dangerous) Fairyland-scape with a book-loving Wyvern (a Wyverary) and a Marid boy named Saturday. Making new and very odd friends, many, many mistakes, losing both her shoes and her shadow, September wends her way with courage, adventure, a very special spoon and a key that never loses sight of her… And she finds so much more besides… Full review...

Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil deGrasse Tyson

3.5star.jpg Popular Science

A year or so ago there was a big hoopla about being able to see the International Space Station pass overhead where I live, so I dutifully clambered on to the roof. And indeed it was actually very warming to know I was seeing something manmade, from 250 miles away. As for the chance to see it, its speed of 17,000mph means it orbits the planet every 92 and a half minutes. It gets about. But some of the warmth of seeing it, as well as the achievements that led up to it, and the politics of NASA's five decades - and some of the Newtonian physics involved in it - are all in this volume. Full review...

The War On Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe by R I Moore

4star.jpg History

At the end of the first millennium, Western Europe was a place which had barely ever encountered heresy. It took just a couple of centuries for it to become a major problem in the eyes of church leaders, leading to the persecution of individuals and groups. Was heresy such a fast-growing problem? In this volume, R I Moore provides a thoughtful analysis of the issues and makes a powerful case that many supposed heretics were merely victims of a paranoid church which created propaganda to justify so many deaths. Full review...

Small Knight and George and the Pirates by Ronda Armitage and Arthur Robins

3star.jpg For Sharing

Small Knight and George (a little red dragon) live together in an old castle, a rather crumbling old castle that's in desperate need of repair. There's no money to fix things up however, so Mum and Dad Knight decide to send Small Knight off with a treasure map to be a pirate, to get them some treasure so they can fix up the castle! Full review...

Fetch by Jane Cabrera

4.5star.jpg For Sharing

Fetch is a little black dog who one day turns up in the village and proves to be very useful to everyone. He fetches things at home for Rosa, he fetches newspapers at the newsstand and parcels at the post office. He's helpful wherever he goes. But one day, Fetch has disappeared...what could he have gone to 'fetch' this time..? Full review...

In One Person by John Irving

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

In One Person is a sensitive story of sexual identity, narrated by a bisexual writer who is now in his later years, recalling not only his own coming to terms with his sexuality and attraction to men, women and transgenders while at school in a New England school, but also his later years and the devastating impact of the AIDS virus in 1980s America. At times the content is quite graphic, but John Irving captures the outsider's feelings beautifully in this tale of secrecy in a confusing world of identity. Full review...

The Apothecary's Daughter by Charlotte Betts

4.5star.jpg Historical Fiction

Susannah is an intelligent young woman in her twenties who assists her father in his pharmacy. But the date is 1665 so he's actually called an apothecary, creating herbal remedies from scratch; moreoever this is an era when women did not, generally, do work of this kind. However, London is in the grip of the bubonic plague. So apothecaries must work overtime to produce nosegays - supposedly to ward off evil humours - as well as plague preventative medicine, herbs for poultices, and so on. Full review...

Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century by John B Thompson

5star.jpg Business and Finance

The publishing industry has been with us since the fifteenth century, but the major changes have manifested themselves in the twenty-first century and John B Thompson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, has taken a detailed look at the state of trade publishing (that's the type of book you're likely to find in your local library or bookshop), the influences which have brought it to that state and the outlook. This might sound rather dry but, trust me, it's not. It wasn't a fast read, but only because there were so many things to think about, prejudices to readjust and information to absorb. I read it over a week - and for a reviewer that's a rare luxury. Full review...

Vengeance: The Tainted Realm: Book 1 by Ian Irvine

5star.jpg Fantasy

Tali is a slave born of slaves, forced to live and work underground by the brutal Cythonians who, in turn, have also been forced into a subterranean lifestyle. The land above them is Hightspall, rightly theirs but taken over generations ago. Hightspall's occupiers are led by a group of noble houses, which brings us to Rix, the heir to his alcoholic father, the Lord Ricinius. They both live under the thumb of his overbearing mother, Lady Ricinius, but then so do many others. Full review...

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Taran has always sought adventure, but is worried he’ll remain an Assistant Pig Keeper all his life. But when the magical pig Hen Wen disappears, he sets out to save her from the evil Horned King, and ends up on a quest alongside a ragtag bunch of companions. Full review...

Let Loose the Dogs: Murdoch Mysteries by Maureen Jennings

4.5star.jpg Crime (Historical)

The fourth book in the series of mysteries which star Detective William Murdoch is set, like the others, in Toronto. Religion, money and family rule this late-Victorian city just as they do back 'home' in England, and Murdoch's struggles for truth and justice, not to mention his love life, are played out against the sense of guilt and the moral restrictions imposed upon him by his Catholic faith. Full review...

The Party Animal and Don't Look Under the Bed (Deadly Tales) by Roy Apps

4star.jpg Teens

Bored with sleeping soundly? Fed up with sweet dreams? Well this is the book for you! Deadly Tales features two nightmare urban legends that you'll pray aren't true. Full review...

172 Hours On The Moon by Johan Harstad

4.5star.jpg Teens

It's 2018 and people at NASA want to go back to the moon. But no one's been there since the 70s, so with funding and public support limited, they need an angle. A draw. Something to get people all over the world buzzing. Their answer is a worldwide lottery to select three teens who can accompany the NASA team on their week long jaunt into space. The chance of a lifetime! An unforgettable, unrepeatable experience! An adventure that truly is out of this world! Full review...

The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman

5star.jpg Literary Fiction

Thomas Sherbourne returns to Australia after World War I. Internally scarred like many of his generation, he chooses the solitary life of a lighthouse keeper on remote Janus Rock to escape the world and its conflict. However, he soon learns that there is one part of the world he can't live without – the sassy, beautiful Izzy Graysmark, a local from the nearest port and country town of Partaguese. They have a happy marriage in all respects apart from one: they're haunted by their inability to have children. Therefore, one day, when a boat washes up onto Janus bearing a dead man and a crying baby, apparent salvation arrives too. Full review...

The Popes: A History by John Julius Norwich

4.5star.jpg History

Historian John Julius Norwich (or Rt Hon/Viscount John Julius Norwich, to give him his full title) doesn't write the sort of history books one associates with school days. He doesn't do dry and dusty. In fact The Popes: A History isn't just a history book but a romp through the ages with some great trivia nuggets scattered throughout the informative gold. Full review...

Heft by Liz Moore

4star.jpg General Fiction

Arthur Opp taught at the University until one day, after some unfortunate circumstances in which he was blameless, he didn't go in any more. Since then he's worked on, well, getting fat. Food is just about all that matter to him and he eats it in vast quantities, particularly if anything upsets his day. He was always plump but now he weighs in at something like five to six hundred pounds. His friend who lived next door is dead and he lives for the memory of a platonic relationship which he had with one of his students. He hasn't heard from her for many years but then one day contact is made. Charlene wants Arthur to help her son. Full review...

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

4.5star.jpg General Fiction

In a small town in western North Carolina there was a storefront church with newspapers across the windows so that no one could see in. Adelaide Lyle remembered to days when it was a store, as well as the days when she used to attend the church regularly, but after a woman died in a 'healing' ritual which involved a snake and her body was left in her garden she decided that she couldn't attend and nor could she allow the town's children to run the risk. For a while this separation worked reasonably well until a series of incidents, many quite small in themselves, provoked a tragedy. Full review...

The Railway Children by E Nesbit

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Few people can be unaware of The Railway Children. It's a story which has stood the test of time not least because of the wonderful images of steam trains which it evokes for today's readers. Roberta (Bobbie), Peter and Phyllis (Phil) have to leave their London home when their father goes away unexpectedly and they move to a cottage in the countryside which is near the local railway station. They make friends with the porter, Albert Perks and the 'Old Gentleman' who is regularly on the 9.15 train. There's fun and they have adventures but they still wonder if their father is ever going to come home. Full review...

The Cambridge Shakespeare Guide by Emma Smith

5star.jpg Home and Family

Does the world need another guide to Shakespeare's plays? There are plenty about and students these days have the added resource of the Internet to get the basics. However, if it does, then this is as good as any you will find. It's nicely written and beautifully clear and above all, succinct. In fact I'm doing a disservice to Emma Smith already by terming it a guide to his plays, because she also includes the poems and sonnets. Full review...

There but for the by Ali Smith

4star.jpg Literary Fiction

If you are the type of reader who thinks that the mark of a good book is a plot, then step away from this book: you'll hate it. Ali Smith's intricately clever and often funny There but for the is very much at the literary end of the fiction spectrum. Not in terms of the language used though - Smith uses simple language, and a LOT of puns, and if anything, as the title suggests, she's more interested in the little words. It's playful and strangely affecting, while at the same time a little affected and often slightly irritatingly free flowing. Full review...

Are You Smart Enough To Work At Google? by William Poundstone

5star.jpg Business and Finance

I find recruitment fascinating. I started my career on a top 10 graduate scheme whose recruitment process included a 24 hour simulation of life in the role, and now some years later I'm on the other side of the table, taking part in the recruitment of the next generation. Prior to that I worked everywhere from multinational software companies to British high street department stores and over the years I've heard everything from the boring (What are your strengths and weaknesses?) to the predictable (Tell me about a time you worked as part of a team and encountered conflict) to the quite frankly brilliant, in my mind (How many piano tuners are there in Barcelona?) Once I had to come up with a variety of uses for a cocktail shaker after first gaining points for being able to identify the item correctly, despite being a tee-total teen at the time. If interviews are a time to shine, I prefer the latter two tasks to the first two because they let you show what you can do, and how you would approach a task, rather than just making you prattle off a prepared response. Full review...

Tout Soul by Karen Wheeler

4.5star.jpg Travel

Meet Karen. Expat fashion writer. French cottage owner. Devoted mother of Biff. Frustrated girlfriend of a dashing Portuguese hunk. Tout Soul is her 3rd book about a relocated life in rural France and after her previous tales of upping and leaving Blighty (book 1) and falling in love with the aforementioned dashing hunk (book 2) she’s now moved her focus to the pursuit of happiness. Full review...

The Face of God: The Gifford Lectures by Roger Scruton

3.5star.jpg Spirituality and Religion

Atheist culture has recently become more mainstream, thanks in part to the success of Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion. However, religion does still have a part to play, with Prince Charles urging the United Kingdom to be more tolerant towards faiths other than the Church of England he was raised as part of and even the Prime Minister talking about faith issues. Since 1888, the Gifford Lectures have been given to 'promote and diffuse...the knowledge of God'. Full review...

Fancy Dress Farmyard by Nick Sharratt

4star.jpg For Sharing

There's a party at the farmyard and it's going to be fancy dress. Let's turn the pages together and find out who has come dressed as what! Full review...

My Big Fat Teen Crisis by Jenny Smith

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Sam’s left alone when her best friend moves to the Outer Hebrides. Can she take this opportunity to reinvent herself as a cooler, more sophisticated person? And will she manage to win the heart of the new boy at school, David? Aided by her childhood friend Cat, who’s just returned to the area, she’ll do her best – as long as the nasty Tania doesn’t get in the way. Full review...

Illegal by Miriam Halahmy

4star.jpg Teens

Lindy’s life started to fall apart when her baby sister Jemma died. With her parents gambling and drinking, and her younger brother needing her to look after him, she’s desperate to hold the family together. So when her brother Garth, who’s in jail, manages to set her up with a job working for her charming cousin Colin, she thinks it’s a great opportunity. Then she finds out, though, that Colin’s business isn’t what it seems, and she’s quickly caught up in a nightmare cycle of drugs and threats… can she find the strength to stand up for herself, helped by the strange and reclusive mute boy Karl? Full review...

Basher Science: Oceans by Dan Green and Simon Basher

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I've often wondered why this planet is called 'earth' when three-quarters of it obviously isn't and it seems that I'm not alone. Dan Green and Simon Basher have decided to take a close look at the oceans and other bodies of water on the planet and to explain them in simple words, accompanied by Simon Brasher's illustrations which are almost - but not quite - manga. It's a style which kids are going to be comfortable with - and they're not going to associate it with something boring which they have to learn. It's fun. Full review...

The Eyes of Lira Kazan by Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon

5star.jpg Crime

The novel throws you straight into the action with three apparently unconnected events. Nigerian fraud squad investigator, Nwanko Ganbo, realises it's time to get his family out of the country when he finds a colleague and good friend in his car, very dead. The solution is simple: the British government offer him a new life as a lecturer in return for silence about the corrupt regime he has spent so long investigating. Meanwhile the wife of a rich Faroese banker accidentally drowns in full ball gown whilst in Nice but junior prosecutor Felix and his judicial colleague aren't as easily convinced about the accidental nature as their superiors seem to be. The third piece of the jigsaw originates in Russia as local journalist Lira Kazan shows an interest in the life and transactions of Russian millionaire Louchsky. This isn't the healthiest thing she's ever done as people seem to have died for less. Full review...

Never Say No to a Princess! by Tracey Corderoy and Kate Leake

5star.jpg For Sharing

The little princess is used to having everything she wants immediately. She wears a sparkly dress and a sparkly tiara; she sleeps in a sparkly bed and plays with sparkly toys. And whenever she wants something new, she just shouts at the top of her lungs that if she doesn't get it, she will cry. And do you know what? She gets it! Straight away! But having what she wants, the minute she wants it doesn't make the little princess happy. Because she isn't smiling at all. In fact, she never smiles. Ever. Nothing is ever quite good enough for this little princess. Full review...

The Snorgh and the Sailor by Will Buckingham and Thomas Docherty

4.5star.jpg For Sharing

The Snorgh lives alone in a little shack on a windy and quiet stretch of beach that is known for its rather fabulous crop of samphire, upon which the Snorgh munches. Lucky little devil, isn't he?! Full review...

Dead Time: The Murder Notebooks by Anne Cassidy

4.5star.jpg Teens

Rose's mother and stepfather - Kathy and Brendan - went out for dinner one night and never came back. Rose was taken in by her grandmother who sent her off to a posh boarding school, while her stepbrother Josh went up north to live with an uncle. Full review...

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

4star.jpg Teens

Gene - not that he remembers he's called Gene - is one of the few remaining survivors in a city peopled by vampires. His mother and sister were killed when he was just tiny and his father finally succumbed to a fang bite infection some years before. Gene's life is all about concealment. He shaves his body hair. He's careful to avoid any situation in which he might sweat - swimming is ok, but other sports are not. He files his nails. He behaves, always, as a vampire would behave. Everything is going so well until the Heper Hunt is announced... Full review...

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

4.5star.jpg Teens

Maya Delaney and friends have just survived a forest fire they think might have been set deliberately. Safely flying away in a helicopter, they think their troubles are over. Until the pilot turns out to be on the same side as those setting the fire. Full review...

Butterfly Summer by Anne-Marie Conway

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Becky isn't best pleased to be moved from her home in the city, where she has friends and a place, to the countryside where her mother grew up. There's a whole secret past that Becky feels on the verge of discovering - starting with friends her mother never mentioned, friends who drop unintentional hints about the father Becky has never met, and ending with the photo she finds of her mother with a baby - dated 12 years before she was born. Full review...

The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber

4.5star.jpg Literary Fiction

Stop. Pay attention. Hear a dead man speak

These are the attention grabbing words that Ros Barber addresses to the reader at the start of this unique tale. Marlowe was a playwright with a reputation not only for his plays but also for his lifestyle. His gory death from a stab wound through the eye is one of the many contentious points in a brief but very lively life. Full review...

Me, the Queen and Christopher by Giles Andreae and Tony Ross

4star.jpg Confident Readers

Freya, who is seven years old, received a very important letter. On the back of the envelope it said Buckingham Palace and it was from the Queen, inviting her to tea. It looked as though the day was going to be a disaster as Freya curtsied - and managed to knock the Queen over. But the Queen is nothing if not resilient and up she got and off they went to her private quarters where she and Freya made themselves baked beans on toast and mugs of tea ('always dip your tea bag exactly twenty-seven times' is the Queen's advice for a good cuppa) and really it's rather like being in Freya's Gran's flat. Full review...

The Arab Spring: Rebellion, revolution, and a new world order by Toby Manhire (editor)

3.5star.jpg Politics and Society

A Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire on 17th December 2010, in what appeared at the time to be a desperate gesture showing a complete lack of hope after his humiliation by a municipal official. What followed was one of the most remarkable events of recent years, as a wave of revolutions occured in what became known as the Arab Spring. As you'd expect from a top nwespaper, the Guardian had reporters, bloggers and columnists covering it all, and Toby Manhire provides a compilation of the paper's output here. Full review...

Revolver by Matt Kindt

5star.jpg Graphic Novels

Meet Sam. He has a rather dull life, with a materialistic girlfriend, and a job in the arse-end of celebrity journalism and a boss he can't stand. All of which is preferential to waking up and finding his home city under attack - munitions going off, skyscrapers burning and people falling from them. He ends up fleeing with said editor, only to wake the next day back in this world. He will indeed fall to being snatched from each reality in turn, at set times of day, forced to suffer consumerism in one, looting in another, basic pay raises here, producing Samizdat bare-bones journalism for survivors there. But always with enough time to ask the important questions - how, and why? Full review...

The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle

4star.jpg For Sharing

Matilda lives in the little seaside town of Dull-on-Sea where the average age is 67. The house next door has been empty since she was a baby and she longs for a family with a girl of her own age to move in but instead a family of pirates move into the decrepit old house - complete with their pirate ship, treasure chests, barrels of grog and Jim Lad who is in Matilda's class at school. The neighbours - well, the town - are not pleased, so what will the pirate family do to win them round? Meanwhile, Matilda is having a lot of fun. Full review...

The Traitors by Tom Becker

4star.jpg Confident Readers

What's the saying - sin in haste, repent at leisure? Well Adam is going to be the embodiment of that. One moment where he plants a kiss on his best mate's girl's lips, even though they seem to have split up - at least temporarily - and lo and behold he's snatched by a passing dirigible, and shipped across the universe, to a place outside of time, where the idea is he has three hundred years in prison as penance, after which he will be inserted into the very instance he leaves, remembering only that he should behave a bit more diplomatically in future. Of course, Adam has other ideas... Full review...

Inspector Singh Investigates: A Curious Indian Cadaver by Shamini Flint

3.5star.jpg Crime

Inspector Singh was on sick leave and rather bored, which was why he agreed to his wife's suggestion (well, she was rather more insistent than that...) that they attend her niece's wedding in Mumbai. There's a little bit of history to this part of the family. The bride-to-be is Ashu Singh, granddaughter of Tara Singh, the wealthy industrialist and his acknowledged favourite. Tara's son ( Ashu's father) was murdered in the uprisings which followed the assassination of Indira Ghandi. He supported the family but made a point that he would not do so beyond the level at which his son (a rather lowly civil servant) could have achieved. Ashu and her two brothers have been secure but not wealthy - and as we join the story Ashu is going into an arranged marriage. There are two unfortunate circumstances here. Ashu is in love with another man - and she's disappeared. Full review...

Under a Canvas Sky: Living Outside Gormenghast by Clare Peake

5star.jpg Autobiography

To many of us, the very name Peake on the cover of a book will immediately suggest the creator of 'Gormenghast' and his family. We have had the occasional biography of Mervyn Peake from others, plus the recollections of his widow Maeve, and to join them, here is the story from another perspective altogether – that of their youngest child, daughter Clare. Full review...

The Bonehill Curse by Jon Mayhew

4.5star.jpg Teens

Anthony Bonehill has created the perfect plan. Seven people will together summon a djinn. Six will gain a wish each, while the seventh will use their wish to kill the djinn and avoid it taking revenge on them. But when Carlos, the seventh, double crosses the rest, and ends up sending the bottle containing the djinn to Bonehill’s daughter Necessity, she’s launched into a race against time to stop the djinn from wreaking havoc on her world. Full review...

Holy City by Guillermo Orsi and Nick Caistor (translator)

4star.jpg Crime

Honest policemen are not that common in Buenos Aires, it seems, but Deputy Inspector Walter Carroza of the serious-crime squad does his best to keep his head above the murky waters of corruption. Sometimes there just seems to be too much going on - even for a loner like Carroza without too much else in his life to absorb his time. The lack of dredging in the Rio del Plata caused the cruise ship to run aground and the passengers were evacuated to the city, where six - two French, two German and two Italians - of them were abducted. They're wealthy business leaders and the kidnappings send stock markets into freefall. Full review...

The Sick Rose by Erin Kelly

4.5star.jpg Crime

Paul had the passion and academic grades to become a teacher. However, his plans started the slow slide away from his grasp after his father died and he and his mother were forced to move to the rough, Grays Reach Estate and an even rougher school. It seemed that his days as bully's target had ended when Daniel, illiterate and street-wise, stepped in as protector. All Paul had to do was cover for Daniel's disability in class... at least that was all he needed to do at first. Full review...

I Love Beasts! by Emma Dodd

4star.jpg For Sharing

This little boy loves beasts, all kinds of beasts! Using rhyme, we see all the different kinds of animals that he loves until finally he ends with the one he loves the very best, his own cuddly teddy bear! Full review...

Infamous by Sherrilyn Kenyon

4star.jpg Teens

Nick Gautier has just found out that the mysterious being he thought was his uncle is actually his future self. Over the course of the past 2 books, the majority of other people he’s close to –- apart from his unsuspecting mother – have been revealed to be some form of demon. Oh, and apparently, he’s got the potential to be the person who will end the world. When someone starts spreading vicious rumours about other students at his school, you’d hardly think it would register with him given everything else going on, but he dives in to try and trace the perpetrator with help from Bubba, Mark, and various others. Full review...

If You're Reading This, I'm Already Dead by Andrew Nicoll

4star.jpg General Fiction

The story at the heart of Andrew Nicoll's If You're Reading This, I'm Already Dead is bizarre but not entirely of Nicoll's own creation. It is narrated by German-born Otto Witte, who is rapidly recording a strange time in his life while Allied bombs are falling in World War Two Germany, although the events that he relates go back to 1913 when Otto was an acrobat working in a travelling circus currently in Buda, or perhaps Pest - he's not quite sure. In addition to his acrobatic skills, he is also blessed with an impressive set of whiskers which make him the dead ringer for the newly appointed Turkish King of Albania. If only he can get there before the claimant to the crown, perhaps he can steal the country and complete an unlikely rise in status. In the company of his pal, Max, a strongman, a blind mind-reader and his beautiful daughter, an exotic dancer and a purloined camel, what could possibly go wrong? Full review...

The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg

4star.jpg General Fiction

We're in the family home of Erik, in Finland, in 1809. It's large enough to have been the most impressive farmstead when his mother was taken there as a young bride, and she still lives there, with an elderly retainer, Erik, Erik's untrusting wife and some other servants. One night the brother of the family, Henrik, returns, and all the bad blood gets spilled. Not just about a neighbour's horse and hotheaded plans for it, not just over a marriage, and not even about the fact that when Sweden and Russia fought over Finland and the territory changed hands, the brothers were on opposing sides. Full review...