Book Reviews: October 2019

Golden Child by Claire Adam
Faber £8.99

A spell-binding debut by an Irish/Trinidadian writer, just out in paperback. Set in Trinidad, the novel is full of atmosphere and heart-wrenchingly real in its treatment of the dilemma facing a father with twin sons, one a high achieving “golden child” and the other slow, dreamy, always in trouble.
The stakes are high and the choices agonising in this totally absorbing and beautifully paced tale which leaves one wondering which child truly is the golden one.

To Calais, In Ordinary Time by James Meek
Canongate £18.99

England, 1348. A band of archers, led by a religious fanatic and harbouring their own dark secret, are travelling south to Dorset where they will set sail for Calais. Joining their number are Will Quate, a ploughman seeking his freedom, the lady Bernadine, fleeing a repugnant fiancé and a learned Scots proctor, Thomas Pitkerro who simply wishes to go home to Avignon.
Each character has their own version of Middle English – Will speaks the Saxon of the serfs, Bernadine’s conversation is filled with Norman French vocabulary, so much so that her servants struggle to understand her, and Thomas writes his diary in precise, Latinate English.
Sweeping north towards them is the Black Death, the apocalyptic epidemic that would wipe out a third of the population of Europe, destroy communities and rewrite the medieval social order.
James Meek’s extraordinary new novel sets themes of love, desire, gender, class, faith and retribution against this pivotal moment in history, and creates a world in transformation, exuberant and vital.

The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans
Headline £7.99

Fans of Veronica Henry and Dinah Jeffries should thoroughly enjoy this novel, by the author of Sunday Times bestselling books The Wildflowers and The Butterfly Summer.
Nightingale House was designed by artist Edward Horner and his wife Liddy for their family to enjoy, but, one summer in 1919, Liddy discovers Edward setting fire to his masterpiece.
Moving forward to the present day, at the neglected house, Liddy's great-granddaughter Juliet finds that she is unlocking a door to long-buried secrets. An absorbing mystery by a skilled storyteller.

An Owl Called Star by Helen Peters.
Nosy Crow £5.99

Just right for Hallowe’en, a lovely illustrated animal story from popular local children’s author Helen Peters whose Jasmine Greene series is perfect for young readers getting used to chapter books. This time vet’s daughter Jasmine and her anxious friend Tom find an injured barn owl while they are preparing for a secret Hallowe’en party in an old barn.
Lots of intrigue and also plenty of interesting information about owls. A real page turner for young animal enthusiasts who like a gentle homely tale that is also exciting.

A Planet Full of Plastic and How You Can Help by Neal Layton
Hachette £6.99

A timely non-fiction book by award winning author illustrator Neal Layton noted for his distinctive Mammoth Academy books and great illustrations of books by Cressida Cowell (the wonderful Emily Brown series).
Here Neal explains where plastic comes from, why it doesn't biodegrade, and why that's dangerous for animals and humans alike. But he's also FULL of ideas for how children can help!
From giving up straws in juice cartons to recycling all we can and taking part in a beach clean, A Planet Full of Plastic will get young readers excited about how they can make a difference to keep Planet Earth happy.
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