Stacl of Penguin Books

Unbreakable by Richard Askwith

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows


The Science of Disc World - Judgement Day

The Science of Disc World Darwin's Watch

The Science of Disc World - The Globe

The Science of Disc World

Terry Pratchett - The Long Earth

Terry Pratchett - The Long War

Terry Pratchett - The Long Mars

Terry Pratchett - The Long Utopia

Terry Pratchett - The Long Cosmos

Terry Pratchett Witch's Vacuum Cleaner

Terry Pratchett Santa Claus Fake Beard

The Wordsworth Classic edition of Moby Dick read by Andrew

Moby Dick Henry Melville

JRR Tolkein Bereb and Luthien front cover

JRR Tolkein Bereb and Luthien back cover

Lord of Misrule by Christopher Lee biog

The Girl in Blue - P G Wodehouse

The Shepherds Crown Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett I shall Wear Midnight

Anthony Horowitz - Moriarty

Young Sherlock - Knife Edge

Young Sherlock - Red Leech

Young Sherlock - Death Cloud

Young Sherlock - Snake Bite

Young Sherlock - Fire Storm

Young Sherlock - Black Ice

Murdoch Mystery Book  5

Murdoch Mystery Book  2

Murdoch Mystery Book 1

Monument Men by Edsel

Semi-detached Griff Rhys Jones

House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

Gently Does It

TP Going Postal

TP Unseen Academicals

Tied Up with Notts

Dickens biog Claire Tomalin

Dickens Great Expectations

Feersum Endjinn by Iain M Banks

Shadowmancer by G P Taylor

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham

The State of the Art by Iain M Banks

Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey

Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

Boodle by Leslie Charteris

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell 1936

Terry Pratchett - Nation

Jasper Fforde Lost in a Good Book

Orson Scott Card Ender in Exile

Ender 2

Ender 3

Ender 4

Ender 5

Terry Pratchett Night Watch

Terry Pratchett Thief of Time

Seven Years in Tibet

A Journey by Tony Blair


Current Reading

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Imaginarium by Paul Kidby

TP and Death

Terry Pratchett and Death in companionable conversation over a game of chess as imagined by Paul Kidby

Featuring the very best of Paul Kidby’s Discworld illustrations, this definitive volume includes 40 pieces of never-before-seen art, 30 pieces that have only appeared in foreign editions, limited editions and Book Club editions, and 17 book cover illustrations since 2004 that have never been seen without cover text. Source :

Unbreakable: The Woman Who Defied the Nazis in the World’s Most Dangerous Horse Race by Richard Askwith

Czechoslovakia, October 1937. Europe’s youngest democracy is on its knees. Millions are mourning the death of the nation’s founding father, the saintly Tomáš Masaryk. Across the border, the Third Reich is menacing – and plotting to invade.

In the Czechoslovak heartlands, vast crowds have gathered to watch the threatened nation’s most prestigious sporting contest: the Grand Pardubice steeplechase. Notoriously dangerous, the race is considered the ultimate test of manhood and fighting spirit. The Nazis, as usual, have sent their paramilitary elite: SS officers schooled to be Hitler’s most ruthless enforcers. Their mission: to crush – yet again – the “subhuman Slavs”. The local cavalry officers have no hope of stopping them. But there is one other contestant: a silver-haired countess riding a little golden mare… The story of Lata Brandisová is one of the strangest and most inspiring in all sport. Born into privilege, she spent much of her life in poverty. Modest and shy, she refused to accept the constraints society placed on her because of her gender. Instead, with quiet courage, she repeatedly achieved what others said was impossible. The scandal of her first attempt to ride in Pardubice reverberated across Europe. Ten years later, she became her nation’s figurehead in its darkest hour. Then came retribution…

UNBREAKABLE is a tale of courage, heartbreak and defiance, in an age of prejudice and fear. In the background are forces – sexism, class hatred, nationalism – whose shadows darken today’s world too. In the foreground are eccentric aristocrats, socialite spies, daredevil jockeys – and a race so brutal that some consider merely taking part in it a sign of insanity. At its heart is a unique hero, and a unique love affair between a woman and a horse. Source :

Occasionally Andrew will being me a comprehensive obituary (the Telegraph do them so well) of someone I know such as the late great Anne Golon or someone of Polish ancestry similar in age or military/WWII experiences to my parents perhaps in the fruitless anticipation that I may have known them. I hasten to add at this stage that it is not morbid curiosity, because as a rule these obits are factual and exceptionally interesting. I was very honoured to have been tracked down by the Telegraph writer who used me both as a sounding board and contact to Anne Golon's daughter to do the great author justice. But on this occasion, Andrew brought me the obituary of Lata Brandisová whom I had never heard of before. I read the article with growing interest. There was, however no mention of any biography. A few days later I found a review of this book in the Daily Mail and immediately took steps to purchase a copy as a belated birthday present for Andrew, but also because I knew I would also like to read it and that my sister would also be interested. My review will be available on my books of choice page.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever. Source :

Background: It's 1946 and author Julie Ashton doesn't know what to write next. Her Izzy Bickerstaff Goes to War column in the Spectator was very popular during the War but now she wants to put it behind her and work on something new. That's when she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey (one of the Channel Islands), a pig farmer who acquired a book by Charles Lamb that had once belonged to Juliet (it has her name on it) and whose love for the book prompted him to contact her to ask for further recommendations of other works by Charles Lamb. They begin a correspondence and Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and the name itself is enough to make Juliet extremely curious – what in the world is a Potato Peel Pie? – and when she learns that the society came about because of a roast pig party and the need to keep it a secret in the German-occupied island, she decides she needs to hear more about it. Juliet then starts to research everything she can about Guernsey under the German Occupation: Guernsey children were evacuated to England just as the island was invaded by a huge contingent of Germans and the island was completely isolated from the mainland and some of its inhabitants were sent away to concentration camps. In fact, a concentration camp was built on the island itself (the only ever on British soil) to host slave labourers. But those are merely hard-boiled facts. It is not until Juliet starts receiving letters from other members of the Literary Society that she is able to see a human portrait of the island and its inhabitants under German Occupation. The book is written exclusively in letter format (oh, epistolary novels, you are my kryptonite) and it follows Juliet's correspondence with not only her new friends in Guernsey but also with her editor (and friend) Sidney and others friends. The core of the story belongs perhaps to two people: Juliet and Elizabeth McKenna. Juliet's growing love for Guernsey, its people and its stories as well as her focus on her own growth as a person and as a writer is one of the main threads. But as the letters keep coming, it is easy to see the importance of Elizabeth for this story: she is the one who in the spur of the moment, created the Society. Her actions are extremely brave and heroic and although we never hear directly from her (the reason, too spoilery to mention here) but her life touched the lives of all the members of the Society. I can't express how much I loved that a book that refers to events during Second World War has a female character as the most heroic, courageous, selfless character of them all. I can't count the many stories have I read (or watched) that featured male heroes doing tremendous acts of courage and being hailed for them – so I will take this story and embrace it, thank you very much. That said, even though the core of the story might be Juliet and Elizabeth's lives, its essence is about much more than just the one person. It celebrates life, love, endurance in the face of adversity and above all the love for reading and writing. Each member recounts how reading and attending the meetings of the society helped them get through the hard times and I loved how each person approached reading in different ways (there is one guy who read only one book throughout and managed to get new things out of it every time). This is without a doubt a very uplifting, delightful story with a lot of light and funny moments and quirky characters. But it never denies or hides the horrors of the Second World War either. It depicts the German occupation with a degree of shared difficulties that I truly valued. There are people going hungry on both sides. There are vicious, coward, stupid, good, brave, well-natured people on both sides. It doesn't shy away from the truths about death, torture and survival. One of the most poignant moments comes from concentration camp survivors who find it hard to share their stories with those that did not experience it because how can they possibly understand the horror? It is a very human, nuanced story and I appreciated it all the more for it. As I was thinking about how to review the book, I thought about this recent video by Ron Charles in which he makes fun of stereotypical, formulaic words and phrases reviewers use in their reviews. But do you know…sometimes, these things ARE true and they WORK. So here it goes: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is at once delightfully funny AND sadly poignant, uncompromisingly romantic and ultimately unforgettable: a tour de force! Source :

'The Science of Discworld' by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter & Jack Cohen

'The Science of Discworld','The Globe', 'Darwin's Watch' and 'Judgement Day'

Science - “When a wizardly experiment goes adrift, the wizards of Unseen University find themselves with a pocket universe on their hands: Roundworld, where neither magic nor common sense seems to stand a chance against logic. The Universe, of course, is our own. And Roundworld is Earth. As the wizards watch their accidental creation grow, we follow the story of our universe from the primal singularity of the Big Bang to the Internet and beyond. Through this original Terry Pratchett story (with intervening chapters from Cohen and Stewart) we discover how puny and insignificant individual lives are against a cosmic backdrop of creation and disaster. Yet, paradoxically, we see how the richness of a universe based on rules, has led to a complex world and at least one species that tried to get a grip of what was going on. Source : Terry Pratchett Books

Globe - “The acclaimed Science of Discworld centred around an original Pratchett story about the Wizards of Discworld. In it they accidentally witnessed the creation and evolution of our universe, a plot which was interleaved with a Cohen & Stewart non-fiction narrative about Big Science. In The Science of Discworld II our authors join forces again to see just what happens when the wizards meddle with history in a battle against the elves for the future of humanity on Earth. London is replaced by a dozy Neanderthal village. The Renaissance is given a push. The role of fat women in art is developed. And one very famous playwright gets born and writes The Play. Weaving together a fast-paced Discworld novelette with cutting-edge scientific commentary on the evolution and development of the human mind, culture, language, art, and science, this is a book in which ‘the hard science is as gripping as the fiction’. (The Times)“ - Source : Terry Pratchett Books

Darwin's Watch - “Roundworld is in trouble again, and this time it looks fatal. Having created it in the first place, the wizards of Unseen University feel vaguely responsible for its safety. They know the creatures who lived there escaped the impending Big Freeze by inventing the space elevator – they even intervened to rid the planet of a plague of elves, who attempted to divert humanity onto a different time track. But now it’s all gone wrong – Victorian England has stagnated and the pace of progress would embarrass a limping snail. Unless something drastic is done, there won’t be time for anyone to invent spaceflight and the human race will be turned into ice-pops. Why, though, did history come adrift? Was it Sir Arthur Nightingale’s dismal book about natural selection? Or was it the devastating response by an obscure country vicar called Charles Darwin, whose bestselling Theology of Species made it impossible to refute the divine design of living creatures? Either way, it’s no easy task to change history, as the wizards discover to their cost. Can the God of Evolution come to humanity’s aid and ensure Darwin writes a very different book? And who stopped him writing it in the first place?” Source : Terry Pratchett Books

Judgement Day - “The fourth book in the Science of Discworld series, and this time around dealing with THE REALLY BIG QUESTIONS, Terry Pratchett’s brilliant new Discworld story Judgement Day is annotated with very big footnotes (the interleaving chapters) by mathematician Ian Stewart and biologist Jack Cohen, to bring you a mind-mangling combination of fiction, cutting-edge science and philosophy. Marjorie Daw is a librarian, and takes her job – and indeed the truth of words – very seriously. She doesn’t know it, but her world and ours – Roundworld – is in big trouble. On Discworld, a colossal row is brewing… The Wizards of Unseen University feel responsible for Roundworld (as one would for a pet gerbil). After all, they brought it into existence by bungling an experiment in Quantum ThaumoDynamics. But legal action is being brought against them by Omnians, who say that the Wizards’ god-like actions make a mockery of their noble religion. As the finest legal brains in Discworld (a zombie and a priest) gird their loins to do battle – and when the Great Big Thing in the High Energy Magic Laboratory is switched on – Marjorie Daw finds herself thrown across the multiverse and right in the middle of the whole explosive affair. As God, the Universe and, frankly, Everything Else is investigated by the trio, you can expect world-bearing elephants, quantum gravity in the Escher-verse, evolutionary design, eternal inflation, dark matter, disbelief systems – and an in-depth study of how to invent a better mousetrap.” Source : Terry Pratchett Books

'The Long Earth Series' by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

'The Long Earth', 'The Long War', 'The Long Mars', 'The Long Utopia' and 'The Long Cosmos'

Earth - You know the way books include a page listing previously published works by the author? In The Long Earth that list runs to five pages and includes 112 titles. Pratchett and Baxter are certainly no strangers to productivity, or popularity, and this, their first collaboration, is a marriage made in fan heaven – Pratchett's warmth and humanity allied to Baxter's extraordinarily fertile science-fictional imagination. The Long Earth is the first in a projected series that looks set to ratchet that 112 up a few notches. The central idea is a string of alternate earths, all within the same spacetime as our world but each occupying different quantum dimensions that are "the thickness of a thought away". Alt-earth is a hoary old standard of SF, of course, and usually writers shove-ha'penny their characters into these same-but-different worlds in order to explore historical counterfactuals – Hitler winning the second world war, and so on. But Pratchett and Baxter have a neat new spin on the notion: their enormous chain of parallel earths is entirely empty of humanity. It's a string of pristine Edens inhabited only by the Eocene fauna that were, on our world, hunted to extinction by early man. People "step" into these neighbouring dimensions via a gimcrack device: a box with a switch on top, powered (this seems to be important) by electricity generated by a potato. Because the "stepper" box is so easily made, millions of ordinary people are able simply to wink out of existence in this world and start a new life in any one of the unending series of invitingly empty, pastorally perfect earths. The Long Earth reads much more like a Baxter novel than a Pratchett one. It's not very funny, for one thing – discounting some wry dialogue and one not-very-successful stab at a comic character (a deceased Tibetan monk who has been reincarnated as a superintelligent drinks dispenser). Instead our hero, Joshua, explores stepwise for a million earths or so, the whole journey rendered with a characteristically Baxteresque mix of big-scale imagination and scientific rigour. The resulting novel is a surprisingly gentle piece of work. Something Wicked, or at least Something Worrying, is sweeping in from the further reaches of the long earth, driving frightened steppers before it like refugees; but it's a long time before we become aware of this, and not much is made of it. Otherwise human settlement upon the alternate earths is rural and low-tech (steppers cannot carry iron with them, for unexplained reasons) and almost entirely free of crime, rapine and nastiness. Lacking the pressures of overpopulation and with infinite natural resources to draw on, people just seem to get along with one another. Indeed, I'm tempted to call The Long Earth an exercise in utopian writing; an unfashionable mode nowadays, when grim-and-gritty dystopias rule the publishing roost. But I, for one, found it extremely refreshing. The Long Earth is a short read: the pages riffle past and there's much to enjoy. The dialogue is a bit Hollywood 101, and much of it is characters explaining things to other characters, sometimes at great length ("Why are you telling me all this?" Joshua asks at one point, with apparent ingenuousness). But it's a charming, absorbing and somehow spacious piece of imagineering for all that. Source : The Guardian

“The possibilities are endless (just be careful what you wish for…)

1916: the Western Front, France. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of No man’s Land gone? 2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Cop Monica Jansson has returned to the burned-out home of one Willis Linsay, a reclusive and some said mad, others dangerous, scientist. It was arson but, as is often the way, the firemen seem to have caused more damage than the fire itself. Stepping through the wreck of a house, there’s no sign of any human remains but on the mantelpiece Monica finds a curious gadget – a box, containing some wiring, a three-way switch and a…potato. It is the prototype of an invention that Linsay called a ‘stepper’. An invention he put up on the web for all the world to see, and use, an invention that would to change the way mankind viewed his world Earth for ever. And that’s an understatement if ever there was one… …because the stepper allowed the person using it to step sideways into another America, another Earth, and if you kept on stepping, you kept on entering even more Earths…this is the Long Earth. It’s our our Earth but one of chain of parallel worlds, lying side by side each differing from its neighbour by really very little (or actually quite a lot). It’s an infinite chain, offering ‘steppers’ an infinite landscape of infinite possibilities. And the further away you travel, the stranger – and sometimes more dangerous – the Earths get. The sun and moon always shine, the basic laws of physics are the same. However, the chance events which have shaped our particular Earth, such as the dinosaur-killer asteroid impact, might not have happened and things may well have turned out rather differently. But, until Willis Linsay invented his stepper, only our Earth hosted mankind…or so we thought. Because it turns out there are some people who are natural ‘steppers’, who don’t need his invention and now the great migration has begun… Source : Terry Pratchett Books

War - A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth - but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind ... A new `America', called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of the Long Earth - and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government... Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity's thoughtless exploitation ... Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before. Source :

“A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airships link the stepwise Americas with trade and culture. Mankind is shaping the Long Earth – but in turn the Long Earth is shaping mankind … A new ‘America’, called Valhalla, is emerging more than a million steps from Datum Earth, with core American values restated in the plentiful environment of the Long Earth – and Valhalla is growing restless under the control of the Datum government… Meanwhile the Long Earth is suffused by the song of the trolls, graceful hive-mind humanoids. But the trolls are beginning to react to humanity’s thoughtless exploitation … Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a gathering multiple crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any mankind has waged before.” Source : Terry Pratchett Books

Mars - “2040-2045: In the years after the cataclysmic Yellowstone eruption there is massive economic dislocation as populations flee Datum Earth to myriad Long Earth worlds. Sally, Joshua, and Lobsang are all involved in this perilous work when, out of the blue, Sally is contacted by her long-vanished father and inventor of the original Stepper device, Willis Linsay. He tells her he is planning a fantastic voyage across the Long Mars and wants her to accompany him. But Sally soon learns that Willis has ulterior motives … Meanwhile U. S. Navy Commander Maggie Kauffman has embarked on an incredible journey of her own, leading an expedition to the outer limits of the far Long Earth. For Joshua, the crisis he faces is much closer to home. He becomes embroiled in the plight of the Next: the super-bright post-humans who are beginning to emerge from their ‘long childhood’ in the community called Happy Landings, located deep in the Long Earth. Ignorance and fear are causing ‘normal’ human society to turn against the Next – and a dramatic showdown seems inevitable . . .” Source : Terry Pratchett Books

Utopia - Now an elderly and cantankerous AI, Lobsang lives in disguise with Agnes in an exotic, far-distant world. He’s convinced they’re leading a normal life in New Springfield – they even adopt a child – but it seems they have been guided there for a reason. As rumours of strange sightings and hauntings proliferate, it becomes clear that something is very awry with this particular world. Millions of steps away, Joshua is on a personal journey of discovery: learning about the father he never knew and a secret family history. But then he receives a summons from New Springfield. Lobsang now understands the enormity of what’s taking place beneath the surface of his earth – a threat to all the worlds of the Long Earth. To counter this threat will require the combined efforts of humankind, machine and the super-intelligent Next. And some must make the ultimate sacrifice . . .” Source : Terry Pratchett Books

Cosmos - The thrilling conclusion to the internationally bestselling Long Earth series explores the greatest question of all: What is the meaning of life? 2070-71. Nearly six decades after Step Day, a new society continues to evolve in the Long Earth. Now, a message has been received: "Join us."The Next hyper-intelligent post-humans that the missive contains instructions for kick-starting the development of an immense artificial intelligence known as The Machine. But to build this computer the size of an Earth continent, they must obtain help from the more populous and still industrious worlds of mankind. Meanwhile, on a trek in the High Meggers, Joshua Valiente, now nearing seventy, is saved from death when a troll band discovers him. Living among the trolls as he recovers, Joshua develops a deeper understanding of this collective-intelligence species and its society. He discovers that some older trolls, with capacious memories, act as communal libraries, and live on a very strange Long Earth world, in caverns under the root systems of trees as tall as mountains. Valiente also learns something much more profound . . . about life and its purpose in the Long Earth: We cultivate the cosmos to maximize the opportunities for life and joy in this universe, and to prepare for new universes to come. Source :

'The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner' and 'Father Christmas's Fake Beard' by Terry Pratchett

I bought these two books for Andrew for Christmas 2017 together with a special edition wall calendar as I know that he misses this author and his quirky writing style. Amazon tells us : Do you believe in magic? Can you imagine a war between wizards, a rebellious ant called 4179003, or a time-travelling television? Can you imagine that poor old Mr Swimble could see a mysterious vacuum cleaner in the morning, and make cheese sandwiches and yellow elephants magically appear by the afternoon? Welcome to the wonderful world of Sir Terry Pratchett, and fourteen fantastically funny tales from the master storyteller. Bursting from these pages are food fights, pirates, bouncing rabbits and magical pigeons. And a witch riding a vacuum cleaner, of course.

Have you ever wanted Christmas to be different? Turkey and carols, presents and crackers - they all start to feel a bit . . . samey. How about a huge exploding mince pie, a pet abominable snowman, or a very helpful partridge in a pear tree? What if Father Christmas went to work at a zoo, or caused chaos in a toy store, or was even arrested for burglary!? Dive into the fantastically funny world of Terry Pratchett, for a festive treat like no other. These ten stories will have you laughing, gasping and crying (with laughter) - you'll never see Christmas in the same way again.

'Moby Dick' by Herman Melville

- This was indeed a 'labour of love' for Andrew. It took him several months to chew his way through this 'Classic' and his summation at the end was 'can we now burn this thing page by page ....' - it's one classic I shall allow to slip through my fingers. - July 2019

Looks like Andrew is also catching up on his classics, here is one I don't think I've read either but won't be rushing too either as I have lots to catch up on and sea and fish are not in my horizon in the near future, although the write up certainly points it in the direction of allegory - from Amazon : "This classic story of high adventure, manic obsession, and metaphysical speculation was Melville's masterpiece. The tale of Captain Ahab's frantic pursuit of the cunning and notorious white whale Moby Dick, is packed with drama, and draws heavily on the author's own experiences on the high seas. This edition includes passages from Melville's correspondence with Nathaniel Hawthorne, in which the two discussed the philosophical depths of the novel's plot and imagery."

'Beren and Lúthien' by J.R.R. Tolkein

From the Amazon website: Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, Dwarves and Orcs and the rich landscape and creatures unique to Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

The tale of Beren and Lúthien was, or became, an essential element in the evolution of The Silmarillion, the myths and legends of the First Age of the World conceived by J.R.R. Tolkien. Returning from France and the battle of the Somme at the end of 1916, he wrote the tale in the following year. Essential to the story, and never changed, is the fate that shadowed the love of Beren and Lúthien: for Beren was a mortal man, but Lúthien was an immortal Elf. Her father, a great Elvish lord, in deep opposition to Beren, imposed on him an impossible task that he must perform before he might wed Lúthien. This is the kernel of the legend; and it leads to the supremely heroic attempt of Beren and Lúthien together to rob the greatest of all evil beings, Melkor, called Morgoth, the Black Enemy, of a Silmaril.

In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father's own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.

'The Lord of Misrule' by Christopher Lee

From the Amazon website: 'From Bond baddie Scaramanga in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN to Count Dracula and the wizard Saruman in LORD OF THE RINGS, Christopher Lee's remarkable career has delighted and terrified fans young and old alike. But his life has proved just as strange as his films. Lee's family was descended from papal nobility, and an unusual home life was counterbalanced by his conventionally English education, as public school was followed by the RAF and dramatic wartime experiences. After the war Lee entered the bizarre world of British films, and his success in Hammer's THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN proved to be the start of decades of cinematic triumphs ranging from Sherlock Holmes to THE WICKER MAN and SLEEPY HOLLOW. Recounted with Lee's characteristic self-deprecating wit and hilarious anecdotes, LORD OF MISRULE narrates the astonishing career of the man the GUARDIAN describes as simply 'the coolest actor on the planet'.'

'The Girl in Blue' by P G Wodehouse

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.'

'Moriarty' by Anthony Horowitz

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 - 'Black Ice', 'Fire Storm', 'Snake Bite', 'Death Cloud', 'Red Leech', 'Knife Edge' by Andrew Lane

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 Horowitz. 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 - 'Night's Child', 'Under the Dragon's Tail', 'Except the Dying' by Maureen Jennings

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 " 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 - 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 bosom 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 "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 gas lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston and the mysterious 'House of Silk' . . ."

'The George Gently Series' by Alan Hunter

George Gently 10-book Set

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 deciding 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 - 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 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 "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 : "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 "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 : "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 -

Ender in Exile

From - "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!

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