Monday, 17 April 2017


Alchemy is a book by Alison Gardiner that tells the story of a boy, 14-year-old Alex Weston and his hamster, Skoodle, who is described as "sassy."

Alex has managed to maroon  himself and Skoodle on a magical island called Eridor. This unfortunate eventuality occurred whilst alex was attempting to locate his parents who had vanished.

There is one thing that Alex lacks, and that could be seen as a major handicap on such a magical island like Eridor. Alex has no magic. So he must, with the assistance of his rodentine companion, fight powerful magical forces and enchantments merely to survive.

However, they meet up with a golden pelted bear called Tariq and together they risk their lives to attempt to save a boy wizard who they learn is trapped on the side of a remote mountain, by disgusting and ruthless goblins.

But Tariq is turned to stone, and the price to save him is for a best friend to turn traitor.

Assisted by a bewildering array of magical creatures can a boy save Tariq and also save the whole of Eridor from destruction?

The book is fast paced and is emotionally charged and explores many complex themes and is an ideal book for young fantasy novel lovers. It's published by Matador at £7.99 an d is available for purchase here

Get Rich or Get lucky

In Get Rich or Get Lucky, author Max Nowaz takes his readers through a madcap fantasy tale about a writer who is not as successful as he could be, so he finds it necessary to seek out other less literary endeavours to get-rich-quickly.

His idea is a simple one, yet like most simple ideas there are many potential problems.

The theory is a good one, much vaunted on a variety of TV shows, where someone buys a rundown old house, renovates it, sells it on and makes a wonderful killing whilst doing so.

I mean, what on earth could possibly go wrong? Apart from recalcitrant builders, bothersome council officers and a book of magic.

A book of magic?  Yes, a book of magic. For during one of his renovation projects he finds a book of magical spells in the cellar of an old, decrepit house.

He is, of course, excited by his find and wants to share the news of his find with his two good friends, Charlie and Dick.

However, one thing leads to another and Dick is inadvertently turned into a crayfish.

Adam doesn't, yet, know how to reverse this spell and whilst he is struggling to find a reversing spell to turn Dick back into Dick, he places the crayfish in the pond in the garden.

When the pond floods, Dick vanishes and to make matters worse Dick's worried wife Rachel reports him as missing to the police.

Police officers, in general, take a dim view of people who have vanished and they suspect that Adam is involved in the disappearance. Which, technically speaking, he was, but saying to the police: "It's my fault I accidentally turned my good friend Dick into a crayfish, but he went missing" certainly wouldn't have helped the situation.

To make matters worse (x2) Adam's home is burgled and the book is stolen.

To make matters worse (x3) Adam becomes aware that there is an evil and powerful warlock who is on the hunt for the book.

Adam then realises that he must recover the book of spells, whilst also counteracting the evil warlock. And then, if he can, he must restore Dick to human form.

But then, well, let's just say that things become even more complicated with abductions, dalliances with the delectable, but married, Vera... and even more crayfish.

The book costs £9.99 and is published by Matador. You can buy it here

Precious Fortunes

Precious Fortunes is a new novel by author Ian Townsend.

Angela Burdett-Coutts was the daughter of Thomas Coutts. She was a described, in glowing terms, by King Edward VII as "the most remarkable woman in the kingdom, after my mother."

At the age of 23 she inherited a vast fortune of £2M from her grandfather in 1837. The equivalent of £210M in today's money.

Being an attractive young woman who was so wealthy she could have been described as making Croesus look like a piker. But along with this vast wealth came a very large number of suitors who were all, by and large, dishonourable scrounging rogues.

She was also a stunningly generous benefactor having a wide range of eclectic interests from bee keeping to goats, from social housing to fallen women and many other things in between.

This much is true. Ian Townsend has taken this historical character and her visits to the West Riding spa town of Harrogate, where she is to seek respite from the unwanted attentions of the unworthy suitors.

But at the same time an honourable member of the 11th Light Dragoons has been despatched to Harrogate on a vitally important and highly secretive  government mission.

The two meet, entirely by chance, and this encounter propels them both into a dramatic adventure which contains deceitfulness, corruption, kidnapping extortion and revenge.

Written from the point of view of cavalry officer Captain George Townsend, the book is meticulously researched and is a combination of Victorian romance and thriller, rolled into one.

It's a refreshingly interesting and exciting read and at 344 pages is well worth every penny of the £9.99 price.

It is published by Mandy Townsend Publishing and is available from the That's Books Bookshop,

The French Riviera a History

The French Riviera is a very important place in France. And one might imagine that tome after tome of work had been published covering the history of the French Riviera.

One might imagine that would be the case, but one would be incorrect.

Author Michael Nelson reveals that when he was launching his book Americans and the Making of the Riviera in the French city of Nice in 2008, the owner of the English Book Centre in Valbonne, mentioned to him that customers frequently visited her shop asking for an English language book on the general history of the French Riviera, only for her to have to inform them that no such book existed.

She added to him: "Why don't you write one?" Spurred on by her request, Nelson turned to the task of  researching and writing that very book, The French Riviera, a History.

Although the book is not what one could consider over to be over long, it is a comprehensive book that gives the reader illuminating glimpses of the history of the French Riviera from prehistoric times to the modern era.

We learn about the early settlers (600BC, Greeks fleeing from Turkey to escape the marauding hordes of Persian expansionists) to the Romans, to the rule of the Merovingian King Childebert, during 536AD to 558AD.

During the Middle Ages it was fought over by Spain, Italy and France, all who found it a most desirable prize.

Tourism began to become important to the economy of the area in the 18th century, when it became popular with wealthy Britons seeking a home for the winter far away from the cold, wt weather of the British Isles.

Nelson points out that an early tourist was, in fact, the American politician Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson wrote many letters during his time in the Riviera. These letters still exist because Jefferson took with him what was, for that time, a technological marvel, a portable copying machine.

Monarchs, including Queen Victoria, brough regal fame to the Riviera during the latter part of the 19th century, and after the First World War American visitors brought about the existence of  the summer tourist season.

The book is copiously illustrated -of particular note is the Bronze Age rock carving dubbed the Sorcerer, who is shown wielding two daggers.

The book is of immense value to the casual reader or the dedicated scholar and at the price of £13.99 belongs on the bookshelf or in the suitcase of anyone who is looking to visit this fascinating area.

It is published by Matador and is available for purchase at the That's Books and Entertainment Bookshop, here

Shakespeare in Modern English

Shakespeare in modern English is a vital new book as the three plays by the bard that it contains, as You Like It, Coriolanus and The Tempest, are presented to the audience modern English, translated by educationalist and published author Hugh Macdonald.

It is aimed at people who might have some difficulties coping with the language of the Elizabethan period, which may well be utterly incomprehensible to the vast majority of people of this modern era.

However, it is the intention of Macdonald to make sure that although these plays are readily accessible that none of the magic and the poetic language employed by Shakespeare is lost by a modern translation.

The translations have received praise from academic experts such as Robert Henke, Professor of Drama and Comparative Literature, Washington University, St Louis.

But the proof of the pudding is, as they say, in the eating. Do these translations from Elizabethan English to contemporary English work?

It has to be said that they do work and that they work well.

It is published by Matador at £9.99 and should be bought by every student of Shakespeare, every lover of his works, ever drama student and tutor and every theatre company, great and small, professional or amateur, who are looking at putting on a Shakespeare play, on either Elizabethan or contemporary English.

It is available through the That's Books Bookshop which you can find here

The Adventures of Plonk

The Adventures of Plonk is an utterly charming story of a unique little creature called Plonk.

Plonk was created by Joan M. Davies MFPS.

At the tender age of 17 Joan earned a scholarship to the prestigious Manchester School of Art.

She found herself on a six year training course, one of only six granted throughout the entire United Kingdom.

She gained distinctions in both anatomy and the history of architecture, studying under Mr Dodd, who had himself studied under Picasso.

An example of her art was praised by L. S. Lowry in an article in The Manchester Guardian, in which he described her as "One of the coming artists of the day."

She began drawing her character Plonk -based on the farthing coin- and the book The Adventures of Plonk was first published in 1944.

Recently the distinguished fashion designer Hussein Chalyan MBE asked for permission to use of the the Plonk illustrations for a Paris fashion show.

Joan M. Davies died in 1991 aged 69. And the book has been republished by her daughter, Elizabeth Gordon.

But now we can again enjoy the adventures of her charming character Plonk.

Nobody knew anything about Plonk. Nobody knew where he was from, or even how or why he was called Plonk.

He lived alone on an island in the middle of the sea. During the summertime he loved to bathe in the sea water.

In the winter he liked to skate in the ice and play in the snow.

But he became lonely. So lonely that he began to cry.

A witch who was passing by took Plonk high up into the sky, terrifying poor Plonk. She took him to her castle and she cruelly made him work, carrying her basket that was far too heavy for him to carry.

Eventually he ran away from the witch and he met an amazing array of characters and had a lot of wonderful adventures and was made to suffer by ignorant people until in the end a kindly gnome took pity on him and asked a good fairy to help Plonk go back to his island.

But that's not the end of this charming tail that teaches many important life lessons that are as valid now as they were in 1944.

This is an ideal book for children to read by themselves and also to have read with them.

It is published by Matador Children's Books at £7.99 and can be bought here at our own bookshop

Light After Dark II The Large and the Small

In Light After Dark II The Large and the Small, author Dr Charles Francis attempts to explain the inexplicable.

Dr Francis makes an exploration of the physics and philosophies that appertain t5o the conceptual basis of modern physical theory.  

However he takes pity on us lesser mortals and very kindly has taken troubles not to include a whole wodge of equations, and has included sufficient explanations to make the book more accessible to general readers.

He points out that some of the so-called problems in modern physics has been caused by a lack of understanding of some people in the field when they have attempted to understand what one might describe as the more obtuse writings of colleagues whose only sin was to be perhaps not very good as communicators.

He explains that relativity and quantum mechanics are not two "disparate theories, as is sometimes suggested, but that together they form the logical conclusion of Leibniz' search for a fully relationist model of physics."

A lot of what you might think you know about physics may well not be entirely true. However, if you read this book you will find your knowledge of physics to be greatly expanded.

At only £14.99 this book will be a very valuable purchase for the layman or laywoman who is interested in physics, the lecturer or the student.

It is published by Matador Science and can be purchased at the That's Books Bookshop which you will find here