Books Monthly's great summer of reading

 goes underground!


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 August 2014 Contents

Adult fiction

Crime & Thrillers

  Science Fiction & Fantasy

Children's books

  Nonfiction & Reference
  The Nostalgia Page

The Stephen King Page

  The Jerry Dowlen Column

  New from MagBooks

Find yourself a quiet corner and settle down with a brilliant new thriller from Tim O'Rourke...

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Greetings one and all! This is the July 2014 issue of Books Monthly... the second of the Great Summer of Reading special issues, and once again it's jam-packed with sensational new titles. My book of the month this month is Haynes' workshop manual for the London Underground - for me, the London Underground is one of the true wonders of the modern world, and this book is a revelation for someone who last took the tube in the 1970s... but all was not as it should be this month in the world of Books Monthly...


All about the books in this issue... the great laptop calamity of 22nd June and the great summer of 2014...


Towards the latter part of June I experienced something quite calamitous as regards the preparation of Books Monthly... I switched on the laptop as usual, at 5:00am, and waited, with a cup of coffee, a glass of Vimto cordial, and my heart-prescription tablets, plus a ginger biscuit... and waited, and waited... at 5:05 I decided the laptop wasn't going to start, and killed it with the power button, then waited for it to start up again, got the usual messages, such as START WINDOWS NORMALLY etc., and it finally decided to come to life. Except it wasn't really alive, like it usually was, it was fairly comatose. I was unable to connect to the internet, had a big red cross on the internet/network icon, and worse still, when I opened Microsoft Office to update the day's banking transactions in Excel, I got a message saying my spreadsheet was "corrupt" and couldn't be opened.


I tried another essential spreadsheet and got the same message. I opened a backup copy with the same result, so I tried a Word document instead, with the same result. I have hundreds of spreadsheets, documents and presentations on the laptop, all carefully backed up, of course, and not a single one was I able to open. Same with the files that drive Books Monthly - the software still opened up, but all of the files were either corrupt or missing. To cut a long story short, a Windows update, which I normally allow to run themselves, solved the internet connection problem overnight, but Microsoft Office was totally knackered. I uninstalled and tried to reinstall but couldn't. We'd used it three times already, and the DVD simply didn't work, so I installed OpenOffice from the web, and with trembling hands, tried opening the first spreadsheet. It worked... But I was now faced with the task of recreating all of the Books Monthly pages - luckily, I kept all of the press releases the lovely publicists send with their fantastic books, so I had all the sheets for the books in this issue, and, of course, to make matters worse, there were just as many as in the June issue, the first bumper Great Summer of Reading issue.


It's now 30th June at 5:45am and I am putting the final few books onto the Nonfiction page, with Jerry Dowlen's article for July and news from Puffin to put on the Nostalgia page before uploading tomorrow. It means that I have only been able to actually write longer comments on a select few of the wonderful books that appear in this issue, confining myself to one-liners, or even no-liners as I simply ran out of time, for the remainder of the books in this issue, and I hope this won't detract too much from your enjoyment of the magazine... I wish I could have written something about all of the books and DVDs that appear in this second summer issue, but I had to rebuild most of my work, including all of the HTML pages that make up this mag. I'm blaming an earlier, massive Windows update for frying my cope of Office and my connection to the Internet, and I'm blaming WIndows, too, for preventing me from finishing properly this issue. The biggest difference is that in most cases, my comments are confined to one or two lines. The books that arrived later in the month, and the ones I've chosen as my lead titles in each of the categories, I've tried to write a little more, but for the time being, all I can say is I'm sorry, and things will be back to normal in the August issue... Now, on with the motley...


I haven't yet (at the time of writing) been able to get excited by the World Cup - the world of football seems to me to be so much more dull than it was in the last century. I still follow Liverpool FC, of course, and will be cheering them on in the Champions' League... but England simply don't do it for me any more. The commercialism of soccer is sad, and takes away any of the pride in the national team that was present in the 1960s, 1970s and 1908s. When you think about how Tommy Smith had to play the whole second half of one Liverpool match with a strapped-up broken leg, because the only other substitute had already been used, it makes you think that soccer has become too big for its own boots, and the glory has gone out of the game. David Beckham said he always believes, with every World Cup, that England will win - he must be one of the only people in the world to hold such a belief, because everyone I talk to doesn't believe. And lo and behold, England crashed out of the group stages without winning a single match and scoring only two goals. There was a kind of inevitability about it, and it marks Roy Hodgson as possibly the worst ever England manager in the modern game. I'm on record as saying that I didn't think he was the right man for the job when he was appointed, and there you go, that's what happened.


And talking of David Beckham - I had the misfortune to sit through his "adventure" - one of the most boring hour and a halfs I have ever sat through, and it confirms my feeling that here is a man lacking the one thing that money can't buy - personality. Why the programme makers thought anyone would be interested in his "adventure", when he was supposed to find himself, is a mystery to me. How anyone can listen to his boring, monotone voice is beyond me. I may be the only person in the world who doesn't like Beckham, but that's enough about soccer, except to say that England have lost their two opening games, and by the time this issue goes public, they may well have arrived back home (as usual)... now to this month's books!



The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its sixteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.