P G Wodehouse - 'The Girl in Blue'
From the Amazon website: 'Young Jerry West has a few problems. His uncle Crispin is broke and employs a butler who isn't all he seems. His other uncle Willoughby is rich but won't hand over any of his inheritance. And to cap it all, although already engaged, Jerry has just fallen in love with the wonderful Jane Hunnicutt, whom he's just met on jury service. But she's an heiress, and that's a problem too - because even if he can extricate himself from his grasping fiancée Jerry can't be a gold-digger.
Enter The Girl in Blue - a Gainsborough miniature which someone has stolen from Uncle Willoughby. Jerry sets out on a mission to find her - and somehow hilariously in the process everything comes right.'
Anthony Horowitz - 'Moriarty'
From the Amazon website : 'Sherlock Holmes is dead.
Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind who has risen to take his place.
Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, a devoted student of Holmes's methods of investigation and deduction, Frederick Chase must forge a path through the darkest corners of the capital to shine light on this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.Author of the global bestseller THE HOUSE OF SILK, Anthony Horowitz once more breathes life into the world created by Arthur Conan Doyle. With pitch-perfect characterisation and breath-taking pace, Horowitz weaves a relentlessly thrilling tale which teases and delights by the turn of each page.
The game is afoot...'
Young Sherlock Holmes by Andrew Lane - 'Black Ice', 'Fire Storm', 'Snake Bite', 'Death Cloud', 'Red Leech', 'Knife Edge'
This set of six books was chosen because of Andrew's interest in Sherlock Holmes (the original books/articles), the updated television series starring Benedict Cumberpatch as the eponymous hero, and the add-ons written by Anthony Hotowitz. From The Book People "One of the most famous characters in popular fiction, Andrew Lane's Young Sherlock series has done an outstanding job of showing younger readers aged 11 and above just how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes became such a great detective, and our six-book Young Sherlock Collection chronicles his unbelievable early adventures.
Meeting the best-loved hero when he is just 14 years old, in Death Cloud Sherlock is sent away to live with his eccentric uncle and aunt in a vast house in Hampshire which leads him to uncover his first murder, a kidnap, corruption and his first sinister foe... Red Leech see Sherlock's American tutor wrapped up in a trans-Atlantic murder case; in Black Ice, Sherlock must come to the aid of his brother Mycroft; Fire Storm forces the young detective to look for clues surrounding his friend's disappearance; he is kidnapped and wanted dead in Snake Bite; and in Knife Edge, Sherlock must use his powers of deduction to unravel his most peculiar and perplexing case yet...
Pacy, brilliantly plotted and in-keeping with the classic stories of Sir Author Conan Doyle, our six-book Young Sherlock Collection is the ideal set of books for introducing the world's most famous detective to children aged 11 and above." Andrew concurs that this has been written in a style suitable for children! May 2015
The Murdoch Mysteries by Maureen Jennings - 'Night's Child', 'Under the Dragon's Tail', 'Except the Dying'
A 'taster' set of these books, which have hitherto been difficult to source, based on our enjoyment of the television series - unfortunately the books are a disappointment compared to the tv series (a rare reversal). From The Book People "A popular TV show on Alibi that stars Yannick Bisson, Helene Joy and Thomas Craig, we're sure fans of historical fiction are going to love the Murdoch Mysteries series.
Set in Toronto at the turn of the twentieth century, the books follow Detective William Murdoch as he solves a number of puzzling cases that are affecting the famous city. In Except the Dying, a young woman has been found naked and frozen in a quiet laneway - but as the body is identified, it becomes clear that everyone connected with her has some dark secrets...
Under the Dragon's Tail finds Murdoch trying to work out just who was responsible for the murder of midwife and abortionist Dolly Merishaw; while Night's Child is a shocking novel about a schoolteacher who discovers shocking photographs of a quiet 13-year-old. Could Sergeant Seymour be involved? The thought is too disturbing for Murdoch to contemplate..." - May/June 2015
The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
From Amazon.co.uk " From 1943 to 1951, 350 or so men and women from thirteen Allied nations served as the men and women of the Monuments, Fine Arts & Archives section (MFAA) of the Allied armed forces: the eyes, ears and hands of the first and most ambitious effort in history to preserve the world's cultural heritage in times of war. They were known simply as Monuments Men. But during the thick of the fighting in Europe, from D-Day to V-E Day, when Germany surrendered, there were only sixty-five Monuments Men in the forward operating area. Sixty-five men to cover thousands of square miles, save hundreds of damaged buildings and find millions of cultural items before the Nazis could destroy them forever.
Monuments Men is the story of eight of these men in the forward operating theatre: America's top art conservator; an up-and-coming young museum curator; a sculptor; a straight-arrow architect; a gay New York cultural impresario; and an infantry private with no prior knowledge of or appreciation for art, but first-hand experience as a victim of the Nazi regime.
They built their own treasure maps from scraps and hints: the diary of a Louvre curator who secretly tracked Nazi plunder through the Paris rail yards; records recovered from bombed out cathedrals and museums; overheard conversations; a tip from a dentist while getting a root canal. They started off moving in different directions, but ended up heading for the same place at the same time: the Alps near the German-Austrian border in the last two weeks of the war, where the great treasure caches of the Nazis were stored: the artwork of Paris, stolen mostly from Jewish collectors and dealers; masterworks from the museums of Naples and Florence; and the greatest prize of all, Hitler's personal hoard of masterpieces, looted from the most important art collections and museums in Europe and hidden deep within a working salt mine - a mine the Nazis had every intention of destroying before it fell into Allied hands.
How does the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History end? As is often the case, history is often more extraordinary than fiction."
Semi-Detached by Griff Rhys Jones
From Amazon.co.uk - In "Semi-detached" Griff Rhys Jones recreates his suburban childhood and adolescence in precise and evocative detail; every young trauma, embarrassment and joyous rebellion, hazily-remembered summer afternoons realised into the wild of the woods and forming feral gangs. He relives the freezing bus journeys to school and the impulsive stealing of half-a-crown from Charlie Hume's money box; holidays in the dreary exile of Weston-Super-Mare or outside Butlins at Clacton, longing to be in - images that are fixed in his consciousness, utterly fuzzy at the edges like a Mivvi but even more concentrated at the centre, frozen into a gooey sweet jam of pure recollected emotion. A confident middle child, Griff adored his mother Gwen and father Elwyn - a shy doctor and woodwork fanatic who loathed the tedium of English social ritual but had a penchant for sweeties and ice-cream and was constantly battling with his weight. These two people were the centre of Griff's young world, and so when he finally left the bossom of his loving, irascible, eccentric, solid, all engulfing family it was no easy process. If he hadn't moved around so much as a child, would Griff have felt less like an outsider? Less willing all his life to be a voyeur, looking in on the lighted window across the square, the Georgian house glowing in the sun, the blink of glasses and the bray of public school certainties? A real treat for anyone who remembers or want to know about Britain in the late 60's and 70's, laugh aloud at Griff's self-deprecating, elegant, affectionate prose, or understand a little bit better how on earth they got from there to here.
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
"The new Sherlock Holmes novel" - I suppose it had to happen. Having bought Andrew the full and complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle some years ago, I was curious to see if he might enjoy an 'updated' version. Although I enjoy the Chalet School and Mapp and Lucia updated variations, Andrew and I both agreed that 'The Night of the Triffids' by Simon Clark the follow on to 'The Day of the Triffids', by one of Andrew's favourite authors John Wyndham, had failed miserably. Happily 'House of Silk' did seem to meet the requirements and Andrew was happy to admit to being completely fooled by one strand (although he says he rumbled two others!) If you are moved to read this book, be warned there are 'spoilers' at the end where Horowitz justifies some of his ideas, so don't browse those pages until you have read the compete novel. - January 2013
From Amazon.co.uk "THE GAME'S AFOOT... It is November 1890, and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent weeks.
Intrigued, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gaslit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston and the mysterious 'House of Silk' . . ."
The George Gently Series by Alan Hunter
We have both enjoyed the George Gently series as portrayed by Martin Shaw in the BBC dramatisations currently on television. Andrew was sufficiently intrigued to want to follow up by reading the books of which there are more than 30. I don't know if Alan Hunter is still writing them. The first in the series is 'Gently Does It' and Andrew has just completed this book. He says that throughout he could 'see' Martin Shaw and that the mannerisms are ascribed more to the writing than to Shaw creating them himself. He has nine more to go in this multi-package before decideing whether or not he wishes to embark on the remainder. - December 2012
Tied Up with Notts by Colin Slater
Not only does Andrew know Colin and has for many years they share an interest in the history and fate of Notts. County. Colin has supported and commentated on the team for at least as long as Andrew has been watching them! Colin chooses four specific matches on which the book is centred - Andrew has been to all of them - including the Juventus match last year. A book enjoyed by Andrew and about to be read by me - yes, really, I like to share my husband's interests - I'm reading Dickens at the moment aren't I (well chewing my way through Edwin Drood and his mystery)? And .... Colin autographed the book for him - howzaat?
Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin
- Biography of Charles Dickens
Feersum Endjinn by Iain M Banks
From Amazon.co.uk - thanks for the weird review: "In a future where the ancients have long since departed Earth for the stars, those left behind live complacent lives filled with technological marvels they no longer understand. Then a cosmic threat known as the Encroachment begins a devastating ice age on Earth, and it sets in motion a series of events that will bring together a cast of original characters who must struggle through war, political intrigues and age-old mysteries to save the world. (B 4worned, 1 oph Banx' carrokters theenx en funetic inglish, which makes for some tough reading but also some innovative prose.)"
Shadowmancer by G.P. Taylor
And again Amazon.co.uk bails me out with some information: "Shadowmancer takes you into a world of superstition, magic and witchcraft where nothing can be taken for granted, and the ultimate sacrifice might even be life itself. Obadiah Demurral is a sorcerer who is seeking to control the highest power in the Universe. He will stop at nothing. The only people in his way are Raphah, Kate, Thomas - and the mysterious Jacob Crane. Packed full of history, folklore and smuggling, this tale of their epic battle will charm both young and old. The thrills, suspense and danger are guaranteed to grab the attention and stretch imaginations to the limit. 'A compelling and dark-edged fantasy . . . here is solid confirmation that the devil doesn’t have all the best tunes - or plots. Highly recommended.' Independent on Sunday"
The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham
A long-time favourite author of Andrew's. From Amazon.co.uk: "Ships are sinking for no apparent reason, carrying hundreds to a dark underwater grave. Strange fireballs race through the sky above the deepest trenches of the oceans. Something is about to show itself, something terrible and alien, a force capable of causing global catastrophe."
My personal favourite in books and film adaptations is 'The Midwich Cuckoos' (book) and the films are styled 'Children' or 'Village of the Damned.'
The State of the Art by Iain M Banks
A science fantasy series. From Amazon.co.uk : "The first ever collection of Iain Banks's short fiction, this volume includes the acclaimed novella, The State of the Art. This is a striking addition to the growing body of Culture lore, and adds definition and scale to the previous works by using the Earth of 1977 as contrast. The other stories in the collection range from science fiction to horror, dark-coated fantasy to morality tale. All bear the indefinable stamp of Iain Banks's staggering talent."
Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey
A science fantasy series - from Amazon.co.uk: "Another Turn, and the deadly silver Threads began falling again. So the bold dragonriders took to the skies and their magnificent dragons swirled and swooped in space, belching flames that destroyed the shimmering strands before they reached the ground.
But F'lar knew he had to find a better way to protect the peoples and lands of Pern, and he had to find it before the rebellious Oldtimers could breed any more dissent...before his brother F'nor would be foolhardy enough to launch another suicide mission...and before the mercurial fire lizards could cause even more trouble."
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
- A True Blood novel - Andrew is way ahead of me in this series!
Boodle by Leslie Charteris
Synopsis (from Classic Crime Fiction) of Boodle Stories of the Saint By Leslie Charteris
"THE SAINT IS SOMETHING NEW in adventurous fiction. He is the Robin Hood of modern crime, d'Artagnan without a sword, romance without fancy dress, buccaneer in the suits of Savile Row. Instead of vainly wishing that he had been born in better days, he comes sailing through his own drab mechanical generation with a flourish of trumpets and a Saintly smile, and shapes it to his own ideas. ' Boys and Girls ! ' he says, with the light dancing in those hell-for-leather blue eyes; and you know that he's found a dragon somewhere, and there's going to be no rest for anyone until he's twisted its tail and swiped it on the jaw."
A novel featuring Simon Templar - wherever possible I have tried to purchase the Hodder and Stoughton Yellowjackets either hardback (as this one is) or paperback as the artwork is fascinating. I look forward to reading the books myself soon!
'A Tale of Two Cities' and 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens
- The story of Pip and Estella - doomed lovers.
- 1775 - and social ills plague both France and England. Jerry Cruncher, an odd-job man who works for Tellson’s Bank, stops the Dover mail-coach with an urgent message for Jarvis Lorry.
- 1780 - Charles Darnay stands accused of treason against the English crown. A bombastic lawyer named Stryver pleads Darnay’s case, but it is not until his drunk, good-for-nothing colleague, Sydney Carton, assists him that the court acquits Darnay.
In France, the cruel Marquis Evrémonde runs down a plebian child with his carriage. Manifesting an attitude typical of the aristocracy in regard to the poor at that time, the Marquis shows no regret, but instead curses the peasantry and hurries home to his chateau, where he awaits the arrival of his nephew, Darnay, from England.
- 1789 - The peasants in Paris storm the Bastille and the French Revolution begins. The revolutionaries murder aristocrats in the streets, and Gabelle, a man charged with the maintenance of the Evrémonde estate, is imprisoned. Three years later, he writes to Darnay, asking to be rescued. Despite the threat of great danger to his person, Darnay departs immediately for France.
At Darnay’s trial, Defarge produces a letter that he discovered in Manette’s old jail cell in the Bastille. The letter explains the cause of Manette’s imprisonment. As Darnay, Lucie, their child, and Dr. Manette speed away from Paris, Madame Defarge arrives at Lucie’s apartment, hoping to arrest her. There she finds the supremely protective Miss Pross. A scuffle ensues, and Madame Defarge dies by the bullet of her own gun. Sydney Carton meets his death at the guillotine, and the narrator confidently asserts that Carton dies with the knowledge that he has finally imbued his life with meaning.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
First published in 1936, this book is a historical novel set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Civil War. It tells the love story of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler.
Nation by Terry Pratchett
From Amazon.co.uk : "Washed up on the shores of a remote island, two kids from cultures half a world apart have to learn to get along and survive. Brilliantly funny novel from the master story-teller and creator of Discworld." - Yes, that sounds about right - Andrew read this one on holiday this year and kept reading me snippets ...... not a Discworld novel which is why it sits separately. - July 2011
Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
From the Daily Mail : "Imagine a world, strangely similar to our own, where Wales is a republic, the Crimean War ended in 1985, croquet is an international sport, and mammoths are alive and thriving. In this world lives Thursday Next, literary detective extraordinaire, who - fresh from rescuing a kidnapped Jane Eyre - must now save her husband. Oh, and stop the world turning into pink goo. Aided by her time-travelling father and Dickens' Miss Havisham, she must do battle with the sinister Goliath Corporation and a mysterious stranger who seems determined she should die. Still, it's nice to think there is a place where the discovery of a Shakespearean play can swing a general election...
This is Thursday Next's second outing and, like it's predecessor the Eyre Affair, it's a wonderful mixture of the literary and the very silly." (Well, if I hadn't already known, I would certainly have known by the final sentence that this would appeal to Andrew).
'Ender in Exile' by Orson Scott Card
Part 6 of the 'Ender's Game' saga -
From Amazon.co.uk -
"At first, Ender believed that they would bring him back to Earth as soon as things quieted down. But things were quiet now, had been quiet for a year, and it was plain to him now that they would not bring him back at all, that he was much more useful as a name and a story than he would ever be as an inconveniently flesh-and-blood person. At the close of ENDER'S GAME, Andrew Wiggin - called Ender by everyone - knows that he cannot live on Earth. He has become far more than just a boy who won a game: he is the Saviour of Earth, a hero, a military genius whose allegiance is sought by every nation of the newly shattered Earth Hegemony. He is offered the choice of living under the Hegemon's control, a pawn in his brother Peter's political games. Or he can join the colony ships and go out to settle one of the new worlds won in the war. The story of those years on the colony worlds has never been told . . . until now."
'Thief of Time', 'Night Watch', 'Going Postal' and 'Unseen Academicals', 'I shall wear Midnight', The Shepherd's Crown [Discworld Novels] by Terry Pratchett
Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
This book was recommended to Andrew by his friend Paul with whom he used to travel on a regular basis and they both enjoyed travelling to far off and exotic lands one of which was China, the nearest anyone can currently get to Tibet. This is the story of a German who was caught in the Far East at the outbreak of the second world war and rather than be interned decided to escape into Tibet which he decided was the preferred option - in that time, most incumbents of Tibet may have wished to have escaped out of Tibet which was, as now, a closed country at the time. Andrew says that he found this book of great interest particularly seeing it from the view of a non-British author. - April 2011
A Journey by Tony Blair
Andrew had wanted this book for a long time but I'm afraid the thought of paying full price and adding to the Blair coffers* did not really appeal to me at all, but luckily, after the first flurry of extortionate prices on ebay the message came across that nobody really wanted to pay 'silly' money for an autographed or non-autographed version and the prices came tumbling down. In the end I got a very decent copy which came to about a tenner [inclusive of postage!] Every so often [even though I do intend to read it myself at some point] Andrew read parts of the book out loud [I'm sorry but they cannot be called anecdotes] as he wished to share something with me. Andrew says that he thinks the book is certainly an 'eye-opener' and that Tony did seem to get quite a lot of erroneous 'bad press.' (Ho hum say I, if you chase the press then you must reap the consequences - but then I'm the cynic in the family). Suffice it to say this is a book that appealed to Andrew and he is glad to have read it in its entirety. - February / March 2011
* I am reprimanded by my husband for making a sweeping statement about the Blair coffers and informed that the profits from the book went not to Tony Blair but to a Forces fund. The least, in the circumstances, that he could do!
Page updated 3rd August 2016